Category Archives: Essential Journey

The Quiet Whispers

Listen to the quiet whispers of your heart. They are your heartsong yearning to be set free. Sheltered Wonder Art Journal – pages 26 – 27

In my 40s I decided to join my then teenage daughter in painting.

It changed my life. It also gave me a valuable lesson in How to Hear the Quiet Whispers of Your Heart.

Don’t believe everything you tell yourself about yourself.

When I started painting, I had spent most of my life telling myself I had no artistic talent. I thought it was true.

Committing myself to exploring my painterly ways in my 40s taught me that I was not always right. That in fact, the things I tell myself about myself are often based on my fears, not my heartfelt desire to live a true and authentic life. And, often, when I say, “I can’t do that” what I’m really saying is I’m afraid of looking stupid. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid it won’t be perfect.

Which brings me to the second thing I learned about How to Hear the Whispers of Your Heart.

Get rid of ‘Can’t’.

Can’t is an easy way to let yourself off the hook of turning up for yourself in your life where ever you are, however you are, even in your fear.

If you’ve never done something before and you catch yourself saying, “I can’t do that”, challenge yourself. Allow yourself the grace of doing it imperfectly.

When I said, “I have no artistic ability” I was really just giving myself a soft landing and an excuse not to try something new. Sure, when I look back on some of my earlier pieces I can see how little I knew about colour, composition, light, depth – everything. But, if I’d never picked up that brush, I’d have missed out on the immense pleasure I’ve experienced over the years of creating art that speaks to and from my heart.

In the process, I’ve learned lots about colour, composition… and I’ve strengthened my creative voice and found incredible joy rising up from within the depths of my being.

I still sometimes catch myself saying, “I can’t…” That’s when I must listen for my heart’s whispers by reframing the ‘can’t into an invitation… “I have never tried that before. I wonder what will happen when I do?”

Which of course, brings me to the most important thing I’ve learned as ‘a creative’.

Listen for your heart’s whispers.

Your heart knows best. It is wise. It is loving.

The heart speaks in loving whispers, not angry shouts. Sometimes, you have to listen really deeply for the whispers because the fear that lives at the base of your skull shouts so loud it can be confused as ‘the truth’. In fear’s strident nature, it can become a habit to allow fear to drown out your heart’s quiet truth.

The way to tell the difference between heart truth and fear posing as truth is to ask yourself, “Does this voice hurt me or inspire me?”

If you hear angry, loud messages that are telling you you’re not going to make it, you’re not good enough, you’re stupid or anything negative and hurtful, it’s important to acknowledge that it is fear having its way with your real truth – you are worthy. You are good enough. You are magnificent, brilliant, a shining light.

In those moments when you realize the shouting within is becoming the ‘truth’ you’re accepting as yours – Stop. Breathe. Listen. Deeply. And ask yourself ‘Wonder Questions’… “I wonder what is really true here?” “I wonder what will happen if I just… step here, do this, experiment with this idea, stop listening to ‘can’t’…

Develop the practice of allowing the ‘shouts’ within to become an invitation to get still and listen for the quiet whispers of your heart.

Remember — The heart speaks in loving whispers, not angry shouts. Listen for its whispers.

Years ago, I did something I didn’t believe I could. I started to paint. My life is so much richer, vibrant, loving because I risked turning ‘can’t’ into possibility.

What about you? Are there ‘can’ts’ in your life yearning to be transformed?

Listen to the quiet whispers of your heart.

Namaste.

A Beautiful Mystery

“Raindrops keep falling on my head.” At the park with Beaumont Friday morning.

The weekend started with rain. Heavy. Pour down buckets kind of rain. River running high and fast kind of outpouring of rain.

It ended with bright green leaves shimmering in the sunshine. The river still flowing fast but not as muddy looking. Friends gathered together on the lawn in the late afternoon for a socially distanced visit.

The weekend that was brought much delight. I am grateful.

Sunday evening walk with C.C. and Beau – it’s kind of a standoff — will C.C. come to the ball or will Beau bring it? 🙂

It’s funny, with leaving the formal workplace a year ago, (six days is my anniversary) I’m surprised that weekends still have relevance. But they do.

It’s as if my body, which has spent almost its entire lifetime acclimatizing to weekend breaks, holds onto that rhythm because it’s a habit, and I have done little to change that habit.

And that’s okay.

It’s a nice rhythm and, as the saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

The view from where I sit looking up.

Today, the sun shines in a sky that arcs up from the horizon in pale whitewashed colour to a deeper, almost peacock blue overhead. A white wispy cloud slips silently into the space between the leaves of two trees reaching up to touch the sky, its feathery tendrils undulating through the atmosphere like a phoenix in flight. It is here and then, it is gone and the sky is blue again.

Looking out at the river, the leaves on the trees that border its expanse, shimmer and dance in the breath of a light morning breeze and the ever-present squirrels play their prerequisite game of tag amidst the branches.

Wine. Sunshine. Delicious treats and friends. A perfect evening.

The weekend has come and gone. Good-bye old friend.

The week lays before me. A beautiful, inviting mystery.

Hello Monday. I am ready for your delight! Open to your yet to unfold stories. Eager for your unknown moments that will come. All in good time.

In this moment right now, here I am.

And the trees give a little dance. The river flows freely. And the clouds keep drifting on by.

Gratitude. Grace. Joy. Contentment. Love. I breathe it all in.

Ah yes. This is Life.

Words Matter

Tenth 2-page spread in the Sheltered Wonder Art Journal – I used torn pages from a dictionary for the collage elements. Watercolours, acrylic ink and acrylic paints and ironed the iimages on once completed using Jonathon Talbot’s collage technique.

When I learned I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was told I had to go to bed for the first three months.

Oh no! Whatever will you do? friends asked. This is awful.

I had to make a choice. Think of this enforced bed rest as awful, or choose to see it as a gift of life.

I chose gift of life.

Every day, I wrote in my journal about what a gift it was to have such splendid solitude alone, getting to know and love on “Baby Balthazar”, as we called her in utero. I filled each moment with loving thoughts of my unborn child so that she would know deep within her soul how wanted, loved and special she was.

These exceptional days of Covid are also such a ‘splended solitude’, if you choose to see it as such. You can use words that speak of your frustration and angst. Or words that speak of possibility, gratitude, hope.

The frustration and angst may still be there, but they wane in the light of words that illuminate your path with joy and love.

My eldest daughter turns 34 in June. She is expecting my second grandchild, a daughter.

No matter the circumstances of Covid, the words I use to describe her imminent birth are filled with all the love and hope I hold for her arrival and her life.

I wouldn’t want her to know anything else.

Life can be hard. To handle the hard times, she will need to believe in magic, wonder, awe, so that she will have the words entwined deep within her psyche that draw out her courage and love so that she can see and speak of the beauty in her life, no matter the times.

Choose your words wisely. Make them lift you up. Fill you up. Enlighten you. With joy. Laughter. Gratitude. Abundance. Possibility.

Make your words be the expression of all the wonder, awe and beauty you see in the world around you.

Let your words shine bright so that the darkness has no hope of dampening your light and holding your spirit down.

Namaste.

Look Upward

6th two page spread in Sheltered Wonder Art Journal project. – Watercolour & acrylic on watercolour paper.

Prayer is the intermediary to Grace. Prayer connects us to the mystical, spiritual, divine essence of Life.

It’s not a religious thing for me. It’s a spiritual openness. A portal into the divine essence of life where, when I look upward, I remember the Grace that imbues life with all of Nature’s wonder, awe and possibility.

Because, when all feels lost, when there appears to be no exit, no safe recourse, no possibility of another step, I look upward and I pray and Grace finds me wherever I am, how ever I am and fills me up with hope.

This morning, as I sat at my desk and watched the river flow and the rain fall and the bright-green, newly budded leaves on the trees shimmer in the breeze, tears gathered at the back of my eyes and my heart filled up with gratitude that flowed upward from deep within my body and soul.

On this morning in 2003, I stood by a gentle flowing river, looked up into the blue sky and I prayed. Hard.

I prayed for death to take me.

I did not want to live. My life was one long, fearful moment running blindly into the next. At the time, the abuser and I were in hiding while he evaded the police and tried to get out of the country. I sat in silence. Never threatening the status quo. Never making waves that might disrupt him. Though, given his propensity to fly into a rage no matter what I did or said, avoiding making waves was kind of impossible.

On this day, it had been almost three months since my daughters, or anyone from my past, knew where I was or if I was alive. They feared the worst.

I prayed for the worst. I wanted him to end my life because I was not courageous enough, or strong enough, to do it myself. At least, that’s what I told myself. Though my words were not so kind. They bordered on the abusive, a mirror of the names he liked to call me.

By that time, everything in my life had become enmeshed in his lies. The only truth I held onto was that I loved my daughters. I could not make a lie of that truth by taking my own life.

And so, I prayed for release by him or some other outside force.

My prayers were answered. Not as I expected but by a blue and white police car that drove up and arrested the abuser at 9:14am on this morning in 2003. It wasn’t the physical death I was seeking. It was, however, the death I needed. The end of that relationship.

I am grateful my prayers were answered. I am grateful the Universe, The Divine, God, Allah, Yahweh, The Light, Almighty, All Powerful, however you call it/her/him, answered my prayers in a way that was life-giving, not life-ending.

But then, that’s the thing about Grace. It creates. It opens. It welcomes. It does not destroy.

Up to that moment of being released from that relationship, I had prayed for gravity to magically release its hold on my body so that it could fall of its own volition into the river and be washed out to sea.

Instead, Grace descended and embraced me, washing away my fears, my horror, sorrow, grief, anger, shame leaving me free to do what I needed to do to reclaim my life and Grow Wild. Live Strong. Love Always.

Seventeen years ago today I was given the miracle of my life.

I am grateful.

This morning, I look upward and say a prayer of gratitude.

And the sky and the trees and the river and the grasses and the flowers and the squirrels tucked safely in their nest in the hollow trunk of a tree that protects them from the rain coming down, and the geese huddled up against the riverbank, and the songbirds sheltering in the grasses, answer my prayers with their gift of nature dancing wildly in living colour, in Love with all of Life.

Namaste.

Walk In Wonder

2 page spread “Sheltered Wonder” art journal Water colour and acrylic inks on water colour paper

Yesterday, I complete the sixth 2-page spread in my “Sheltered Wonder” art journal.

I am loving the experience. Savouring each moment I spend immersed in the creative flow expressing itself through the exploration of the question: “What are the gifts and learnings that have come through this sequestered solitude.”

It may be an enforced, not asked for nor even welcomed isolation. It holds many gifts and every spread I create for the journal is revealing how many gifts I’ve received and how much I am learning during this exceptional state of affairs.

The process of creating a journal page is very much a reflection of life. My life in this case. It begins with a meditation of some sort – either to music or in silence. As I enter my meditation, I often carry with me a question. Something like: “Where am I right now?” “What’s yearning to be expressed?” “What colour are my emotions today?”

Sometimes, I ask, “What’s in my bucket I need to empty out?”

I have long known that I carried what I call a ‘shame bucket’. I picked up as a child and learned to self-soothe in the presence of that bucket. At a young age, the child in me learned to believe she was not worthy. That bucket held the secrets of her unworthiness, so she held onto it believing she’d be lost without it.

If I am not paying attention to the now, that bucket can sometimes haunt the adult me with its need to be filled through acts that undermine my integrity, my values, my sense of self-worth. When I catch myself ignoring doing things I need to do to create harmony in my life, I know I’m in deep doo-doo, totally out of balance, off-kilter. In those times of distress, I have to turn and ask the child to let go of the bucket so I can hold her lovingly in my arms. We both know that the road to her garden of joy, where she feels safe witin me, is through my art. I know. I know. very esoteric — and very, very healing, no matter my physical age.

The universe is filled with mystical insights, wonder, awe and miracles.

Yesterday, after a Zoom call lead by Mary, Joe and Greg Davis, the key facilitators of Choices Seminars, the personal development course I have been part of for the past 14 years, I approached my studio with my question in hand – “What wonder is yearning to be expressed?”

My meditation was filled with a golden lightness of being. With sparkling waters and light as air fairy dancers joyfully cavorting on the water’s surface.

And then, just as I was beginning to come back into the moment, I saw her. A little girl with golden hair standing at the corner of a field of wild flowers. In one hand she held a balloon. It trailed behind her, bobbing and weaving as she walked, brushing the wildflowers with her fingers. Ahead of her, the field of colour turned into a forest.

Will she enter?

I began painting from that place of curiosity. Will she or won’t she?

My art journal pages are many layered. They weave and morph into many things until finding the essence of their story exposed on the page. It could be a word, a quote, a face… The possibilities are limitless and can take many layers to be called forth.

As I look at her with morning fresh eyes, the words that appeared and especially her balloon, I awaken to the essence of her story.

The bucket is gone. Vanished, or perhaps banished. It is replaced by a beautiful translucent balloon. Balloons speak of magic and mystery to me. And while, in the ‘real’ world I do not use them as they are environmentally harmful, in the field of wonder that is my imagination, balloons have great meaning.

It’s hard to get rid of a bad habit, but, if you focus on replacing it with something healthier, more life-giving, the habit becomes a welcome friend.

Yesterday, on the Zoom call, Joe Davis of Choices said, “Habits rule our lives.” And then he went on to describe how our brains are attuned to ‘chunking’, especially around activities that are rote or repetitive. (For more on ‘chunking’ – click HERE.)

Some of my thinking brain’s chunking has enriched and informed my life. Some… well let’s just say, it’s resulted in some not so healthy habits.

And so I wonder and walk and paint my dreams in all the colours of the rainbow… If the little girl can replace her bucket with the beautiful, light-hearted whimsy of a balloon… what else is possible?

Namaste

More process photos:

Magic. Mystery. Miracles.

“The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery.”-Fred Alan Wolf

It is overcast this morning. Grey clouds hang low. Pregnant. Electrically charged ions full-bodied. Suspended. Yearning for release.

A search for ‘how clouds form’ reveals, science does not have all the answers. Each suspended droplet is imbued with mystery.

The river runs high this morning. Jade green flowing into gun metal grey. There is no mystery to its swollen flow. Spring run-off has begun in the mountains spanning the western horizon their ridges separating earth from sky like the back of a monolithic dragon sleeping. Snow melts along its spine. Rivulets race down its sides to meet up with a multitude of brooks and streams coursing down mountainsides, leaping and frothing at the chance to join the river flowing eastward in the valleys far below.

Plump green leaves shiver in the morning breeze stirring the branches of the trees lining the river. A squirrel traverses through the ever-thickening canopy. No flying this morning. Just thoughtful navigation from limb to limb.

It is raining now. The clouds release their bounty in a gentle patter. The leaves dance.

I stand on the deck, beneath the portico above the door. The air smells fresh. Alive.

I breathe deeply. Bring my awareness into the mystery of this moment. Feel the air against my skin.

I smile.

I had planned on writing about baking and creating food art with foccacia. About friends visiting on the wine deck. An afternoon spent sipping chilled wine in the warm sunlight. Savouring friendship. New and old.

And then, I visited David Kanigan at Live & Learn. Listened to the morning meditation he offered up. Alison Balsom playing Satie’s GymnopĂ©die on the trumpet. As Lori, one of his commenters described it, “Lovely limpid, languid tune….”

In the plaintiff call of the trumpet, in the echoing eeriness of Satie’s resonances, I fell into grace. Effortless. Enveloping. Grace.

It is there I find myself now. Listening to the sound of rain falling gently. The honking of two geese flying overhead. Notes of a piano softly thrumming in the background.

My plans undone. I come undone in this moment.

Yesterday is past. Today holds promise. Tomorrow is a mystery.

I release yesterday with a silent prayer of gratitude. It falls softly, gently into memory’s welcoming bed, a wildflower garden of tranquil respite.

I breathe into the promise of today and whisper a prayer of gratitude for this moment. Each second imbued with possibility. Its gifts still a mystery.

I sense tomorrow’s mystery flowing deep beneath the surface of this moment in which I sit watching the river flow.

Time enough for tomorrow.

Today, right now, the music of life stirs me.

I rise up and begin to move. Slowly. Gently. My body flows, stretches, undulates. In and out and all around, captive to the waves of sound, ebbing and flowing, pushing and pulling, plumping up the molecules of air dancing all around me with the melodious notes of Satie. Arvo Pärt. Laurence Ipsum.

Mystery dances in the air around me.

Magic shimmers on the leaves unfolding on the branches outside my window.

Miracles glitter on the raindrops falling. Lightly. Gently. Softly.

Life is a mystery calling me to rise up and dance. In the sunlight and shadows. Beneath rain clouds hanging low, and raindrops falling all around. In golden times and darkened moments.

In it all.

Life is a mystery calling me to dance. With Love. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Grace.

And so, I dance.

I invite you to dance with me. I invite you to savour the mystery, cherish the memories and let them go in this moment so that you can rise up and dance, free and untethered, twirling and spinning about, weaving and dipping and jiving with your body unbounded in the joy erupting within the beauty of this moment right now.

Namaste.

_________________________

Thank you David for the Morning Meditation and the link to Rob at The Hammock Papers. Thank you Rob for that quote. It is sublime.

And thank you to those who create music and words and images and ideas that stir the senses and free the mind to dance amidst the beauty of the mystery of life.

The Future Is Not Now

Years ago, when I got out of a relationship that was killing me, my future was pretty grim. I was broken. The ‘me’ I thought I was had devolved into the puppet of his command. I had no voice. No sense of ‘I’. No future worth living for.

I had two choices. Stay traumatized. Heal.

Going through that relationship was hard. It almost killed me. Getting out of it, I had PTSD. I had no money. No job. No home. No belongings. Nothing.

What I did have was a miracle. He had been arrested and I knew deep within me, that was the miracle that saved my life.

I could not waste my miracle. I had to choose to heal. How was up to me.

Armed with my miracle and the belief I didn’t get it to live in pain and sorrow, I had to decide to heal. Me. Broken relationships. My life.

My number one priority was to heal my relationship with my daughters. By the time of his arrest, we were estranged. I wanted to be part of their lives again. To feel and share the love that had flowed so strongly between us, before I got lost in an abusive relationship.

To heal that relationship, I had to heal myself first.

To heal myself, I had to choose to let go of the things that did not serve me on my healing journey. Bitterness. Regret. Resentment. Hatred. Anger. Fear. None of them moved me closer to healing. Giving into regrets and bitterness only made me feel worse.

There were so many questions for which I had no answers. How could he have done the things he’d done. How could I have been so blind? So selfish? How could I do the things I did to cause my daughters so much pain?

I had to choose to let those questions and all the heavy, life-sucking emotions that went with them, go. Those questions could not be answered from a place of weakness. I had to grow strong enough to face them without losing myself in their seductive, self-annihilating web of pain.

I could not go searching for answers in the past if I was to build a bridge to a future where I could be myself in all my darkness and light, beauty and the beast, warts and wounds, wonder and wisdom.

The past was too painful a place to tread without the light of love to guide me and the future could not be conceived without Love being my constant companion in the now.

The only place I could find myself was in the now. And, the only thing that could sustain me in the now was Love.

So I chose Love.

Every moment of every day.

No matter how broken and helpless I felt, no matter how lost and afraid, confused or tentative. Whatever I did, I had to do it in Love – with me, myself and I. All of me. The broken down, beat up, worthless feeling me. The shattered me who included the mother who deserted her daughters in the final throes of that relationship because the only way she could conceive of getting him out of their lives was to give up her right to live free of his abuse.

May 21st is approaching. It has been many years since that day in 2003 when a blue and white police car drove up and gave me the miracle of my life.

Time has deepened and enriched my gratitude.

I am grateful for my family and friends who loved me through it all.

Grateful for my daughters whose love, even in their pain and anger, never deserted me.

Grateful for the beauty and joy and Love in my life today. For the wonder and awe I experience with every breath.

And I am grateful I chose to heal In Love.

My life today is a beautiful tapestry of light and love, beauty and shadows that shimmer in the dark corners of my life as well as the wide-open expanses of possibilities unravelling with each new dawn. It is woven through with threads of fierce courage, gratitude and grace, joy and soul defining oases of calm.

It is my life lived In Love.

I still have down days and dark moments. I still experience cloudy skies and murky waters. This is life. Beautiful. Complex. Complicated. Messy.

But, no matter the times or the weather, one thing never fades. The Love that instills this moment right now with such beauty it takes my breath away.

Living now doesn’t mean giving up on the future. It means choosing to fill this moment, right now, with so much Love, the future becomes all that is now.

Namaste