Category Archives: Essential Journey

Let us be like a butterfly…

There was once a little girl who was afraid of colour. To see the golden yellow of the sun, or the deep green velvet of the forest, or the vibrant hues of the garden filled her heart with fear.

Terrified of all the colour in the world, she walked through each day with her eyes squinted against the onslaught of beauty that she could not witness. Fearful of the world of colour  that bombarded her senses with every glance, she covered her ears to the songs of enchantment all around and cowered beneath the belief that she was right to cling to her fears.

“Give me black and white,” she pleaded in the darkness of her mind.

And the world closed in around her until all she saw were the shadows between the colours of the world.

I wrote the story above several years ago. It had appeared in my meditation, tendrils of thoughts whispering their away into substance.  When I opened my eyes and let the words flow, they found their substance on the page and formed themselves into story.

It is what I find most enlivening and mystical about the creative process. When I stop squinting my eyes, when I stop fearing what might be, or not be, magic and wonder happens.

When I fear, when I force or try to push the muse into a container, to direct her into this way or that, the wonder disappears and I am left feeling left out, apart, and let down, telling myself, there is no magic. There is no mystery. there is no possibility of beauty rescuing the light from the darkness.

In fear, I fall into that place where all I see is what I fear. Where all I know is what I expect to be; the mundane, the same as, the predictability of my life lived in the comfort of the darkness I crave when I let go of seeing the light in everything and everyone.

In my studio, immersed in the creative process, the world falls away into that place where all I know, all I sense, is its beauty. In that space, with my music playing, candle burning and my fingers splattered with paint, there is no world out there, there is no war, no famine, no hurricanes and definitely no virus taking the world hostage.

There is only the muse and me. Connected. Committed. Creative. And in that connection, I become part of the flow of the essential essence of the Universe. I am one with life. One creative expression flowing with the expressions of all the world around me.

In these days where a virus is shutting us into our homes and keeping us at safe but constrained, distance from one another, connecting to our creative core, expressing our gratitude in songs of joy and messages of hope, is vital to our well-being.

We are the ones who must create the path for the world to survive this viral onslaught. We can only do that together.

Staying home, keeping our distance, washing our hands, matters. To ourselves, our loved ones, friends, community. It matters to the world.

It also matters that we stay connected to the beauty, the wonder and awe of the world within ourselves and all around us. It matters that we share our best to create better for all the world.

Imagine…

We are each a butterfly fluttering our wings to create a tsunami of well-being around the world.

When we flutter our wings as one, we create One world of possibility, hope, beauty and Love.

Sequestered in Solitude

 

It is light outside when I awaken. Night has slipped away and I have slept through its departure.

Day has begun.

I am grateful.

For the past several mornings I have been unable to sleep beyond 4am. The days grow tiring with little sleep the night before.

Yesterday, I napped in the afternoon.

A gift. A respite. A welcome interlude in my day.

The rhythm of my day has not changed much with the ‘stay home’ order. Something has shifted within me though. It’s as though, without the freedom to come and go, a restlessness invades.  A teenage angst stirs. ‘No one tells me what to do’ the voice of years past declares inside my head.

And I want to heed it. I want to say, ‘Hell ya. You got that right.”

I ignore it.

It gets louder. “This is ridiculous. It won’t hurt just to go to the grocery store, or wander around the mall.

I keep ignoring it.

It doesn’t like that. It raises its voice. “You are such a goodie-two-shoes. You know, that’s what they called you in high school. Ya. Goodie-two-shoes. Little Miss I’m so perfect I don’t even know there’s another side of right called wrong.”

I catch myself thinking about stopping at the grocery store on the way home from the park with Beaumont.

I quit taking my wallet with me.

We have been sequestered in solitude for 21 days now. Ever since my mother’s celebration of life and our family members returned home. We dropped them off at the airport, drove home in separate vehicles and when my beloved and I walked back into the house we knew what we had to do. He has a medical condition that puts him at the top of the ‘at risk’ chart of potential suspects. We knew we had to stay home. We could not risk his health and well-being to this virus slithering through the shadows waiting to infiltrate through any crack in our defenses. It does not respect the sanctity of human life. We must take care.

And the teenaged angst rises up, “But you’re not sick. You’re just old and chicken.”

I ignore the sting of its words and its reminder of the fact I fit into the ‘seniors category’.

I’m still struggling with that one. It’s been one and a half years since I slipped over that societal border of middle age to senior. I like being a woman of this distinctive age, I just don’t like the label. Senior.

The teenager quickly grasps at this new opportunity to stick it to me, “If you weren’t so old you’d be out there doing things instead of sitting in here doing nothing.”

I want to refute its insistence I am doing nothing. I want to fight back. Ward off its declaration of my uselessness with words of my own. I want to set it straight.

And then I remember the advice I’d been given when my daughters were teens, “Do not fight back. Step closer.”

I take a gentle breath and step into the hard edges of my teenaged angst. “I hear you. I hear your fear. Your worry that the world will end and you will never get a chance to live. I hear you.”

The voice quietens. It stops to take in a breath and in that gap between words and breath, I wrap my arms around my own self and say, “It’s okay. You’re okay. You’re doing the right thing.”

And my teenage angst and I embrace one another and together, we cry.

It’s okay, I whisper to the one inside who wants to rise up and rail against all that is going on, all that it cannot change, all that it cannot do.  It’s okay.

And we cry. Together.

Tears are my prayer for well-being in all the world today. It is good to cry for the world. There is so little I can do to make it different. My tears are my offering that wash away my fear. In the cleansing wake of their falling, Love flows freely.

It’s okay.

That tightness in your chest. That restlessness. That angst and listlessness. It’s okay. It’s just fear crying out for release.

Where there is fear, love is also present. All you need to feel its gentle breath and healing touch is to let your tears wash away your fear so Love can flow freely.

Namaste.

__________________________________

It was one month ago today that my mother took her last breath.

On our family zoom call on Sunday, my sisters and daughters and I were talking about how grateful we are that we had that time with her. That her last days were not spent under the social distancing necessary to fight the spread of Covid-19.

We are so grateful.

This morning, my tears and prayers are for all those families who cannot be with their loved ones who lay in isolation, who cannot say good-bye, surrounded by their families and friends.

This morning, I light a candle and send you my prayers for peace and gentleness of heart so that you may stand, strong of back, as you weather your burdens of loss sequestered in solitude.

May peace be with you.

There ain’t no virtue in being a martyr

No. 59 #ShePersisted Series

When I was a little girl, I thought it was my job to make my mom happy.

I sucked at it.

Not understanding why she cried so much and why she sometimes threatened to take her own life in front of us children, I did everything I could to make her laugh, to (literally) take the knife out of her hand. Mostly I made her cry. I didn’t realize I was not responsible to lift the cloud of dark depression (which as a child I had no name for) that permeated her essence.

I wasn’t that powerful.

I tell you this because in times of extreme stress, and you gotta admit, this pandemic qualifies as that, those childhood messages can rear up and undermine our well-being, our sense of self, our way of being in the world, if we don’t get conscious of our own ‘stuff’.

We’ve got to take care of ourselves.

And part of good self-care is being conscious of the things we are doing, including the unconscious/buried/hidden internal messages our psyche’s are acting out on from our ‘lizard brains’, that do not serve us well in the here and now.

Like believing I could save my mom.

Over the years and circumstances of my life, that child’s thinking turned into an adult belief that it is my job to save the world. That there is something I need to be doing to raise civilization up, to stop the tears, the pain, the suffering. But, (and here’s the kicker) because I couldn’t do it as a child for my mom, I also have a darker side of that belief; the self-defeating, self-annihilating belief that, no matter what I do, it won’t matter. Because, and this is the child’s thinking infiltrating my adult mind which knows it isn’t true but struggles in times of stress to soothe the child’s cries of, “I don’t matter”. “Why bother?” “Whatever I do won’t make a difference anyway.”

Now, I have spent my adult life working on healing those childhood wounds and fears. As Virginia Slims ads used to say, “You’ve come a long way baby”.  But, just like the virtues of the cigarettes those ads used to extoll, in times of distress, we are all at risk of falling back to default positions in order to cope. For me, one of those defaults is the good old depressing, martyr’s role. Unfortunately, there’s no virtue in playing the martyr unless you want to be a saint.

Ha!  Did I mention that the meaning of ‘Louise’ is ‘Saviouress of the world”?  Actually, Louise means, ‘protectress of the people’, so close, right?

I think I may have taken myself and the meaning of my name a tad too seriously. But hey! You can call me Saint Louise if you like.

Don’t get me wrong, I am laughing at myself this morning, looking at my hubris and throwing my hands up in the air as I exclaim, “Oh my look at me being so human! How fascinating!”

The fact is, I am sharing this because understanding where my shadow self is at play, keeps me grounded in the truth. I am not powerful enough to save the world. I am powerful enough to change my world. To create light and beauty in my world, to share my gifts with a generous heart and to create ripples of better all around me.

To do that, I must take care of myself so that I can then give back to others from a place of compassion, generosity and Love.

I know, deep within me, that I am not here to save the world. I am here to save myself from my thinking I am here to save the world. (That one made me smile so I’m leaving it as is).

So, here’s the deal. I tell you all this because I have been feeling the weight of this crisis, wanting to do more, feeling powerless, helpless, useless. I have been struggling to find my way through the dark, alone.

I am not alone. We are all in this together. We are all connected. This is all our one world, one planet, one humanity.

It’s just sometimes, when I’m not taking good care of myself by loving myself through the darkness, I can get trapped in believing I’m all alone. I don’t matter. I can never do enough.

I know that when I’m willing to embrace my truth with compassion and love, be it my light shining or a dark shadow looming, I am free of my childhood driven fear that I will never matter. I will never make a difference. I have no worth.

We all matter. We all make a difference. We all have worth.

And here’s the deal.  Remember at the beginning of this (long) post, I said in the context of saving my mother, “I wasn’t that powerful”?

Well, when we take care of ourselves, when we heed the voices rising up out of the dark past and lovingly embrace their fears, their angst, their belief there’s nothing we can do, we are taking really good care of ourselves. Because, in acknowledging their presence, they feel safe enough to return to the past and we become free to be here in the present, in all our light, beauty, and love.

And in that place, we are powerful enough to live from our magnificence, so that together we can create a better world for everyone.

Namaste.

(And yup. She’s a long one this morning. I thank you for reading through to the end. I thank you for shining your light on my path. I thank you for being you.)

 

 

I read the news today. Oh boy.

No 58 – #ShePersisted Series
Mixed media on acrylic paper
11 x 14″

“I read the news today. Oh boy.” (Source)

Like an addict seeking their next fix, I scour the Net for the latest news related to Covid-19. I creep Facebook pages and furtively dart into Instagram threads like an underage teenager slipping into a sex shop, hoping to garner one tiny morsel of news that will feed my need to know what’sgoing on.

And I repeat it. Time and again. Even though I’m not clear on what more there is for me to know other than what I can do to keep myself and those I love safe and to minimize my risk of passing the disease along.

The numbers here are rising. We’re on the upside of the curve, desperately trying to flatten it down, while in the far east, they’re on the downward slide, desperately trying to revive shuttered lives and businesses.

Social distancing isn’t a cure but it helps stem the flow when we do it together.

Washing hands and avoiding touching my face will protect me. And I’m doing my best not to worry, but there’s still no guarantee Covid-19 won’t slip in through some unknown crack in my defences.

All I can do is breathe and trust. Breathe and trust.

I read the news today. Oh boy.

I don’t know why I keep reading.

Perhaps I’m hoping it’s all been a big mistake.

Perhaps I think I’ll read it’s over. Done. Gone.

Perhaps I’m just looking for hope between the black and white reality of these times we find ourselves in with nothing but good sanitation and keeping our distance to keep us safe.

I read the news today. Oh boy.

And then I re-read the lines I’d already devoured in an effort to stem my seemingly unending need for information.

And it’s then I realize, all this readin’ is not good for my health.

I don’t need to bury my head in the sand, but I do need to gain some balance between reading the news and living my life in these uncertain times.

Labels don’t change Covid’s reality just as knowing how many presumptive versus confirmed cases have occurred does not change the course of my day. Trusting that I am doing everything I can to keep myself and my loved ones safe, does.

Fact is, it’s not Covid-19 stealing my peace of mind, it’s my incessant reading of the news.

I read the news today. Oh boy.

And then, I stopped.

There is still a beautiful world out there. A world of nature and rivers flowing. Of sights waiting to be seen. Of adventures waiting to be had.

There are still words to be written. Paintings to be painted. Life to live.

It’s my choice whether I carry fear as my companion or peace of mind.

Because, while I may not have a lot of choice in what Covid-19 is doing, I do have choice in what I do. Today. Right now.

For now, those sights to be seen, those adventures to be had, those words to be written and paintings to be painted, they are mine to do, right here. Right now. Albeit, closer to home, and mostly alone.

For now. Because no matter what is happening today, this too shall pass.

The unknown always existed. It’s just right now, the unknown comes with a name that is stirring my worry genes and causing me to break out in a sweat.

And so, I breathe.

And the river flows past my window and I sit and watch its undulations.

I cannot change its course.

All I can do is to find my peace of mind by reminding myself I have the power to create a day full of beauty, love and grace. Right here. Right now.

I have the power, right here, right now, to find myself in this moment and breathe into the silence and the beauty that surrounds me.

I cannot change the course of Covid-19, but, together? Together we can stem its flow. We can flatten the curve of its impact. Together, we can get through this by doing the things we know we must do to manage its passing through.

I read the news today. And then I stopped. It is time for me to take control of what I allow into my mind, body, spirit and world.

This morning, I’m off to walk my dog. To watch him play in the snow. To watch the river flow past.

If I meet strangers in the park, I’ll keep my distance. It’s the right thing to do.

And with friends and family, I will use the tools of this technological age to keep us connected across the distance we must keep, for now, to hold each other safe.

We are all together in this place of the known and unknown. Of the certain and uncertain. Let’s walk as one voice, one people, one humanity in gratitude, generosity and grace to ensure we survive with our hearts intact, our connections to one another strong, and our planet a place of good health and well-being for all.

Namaste.

 

Social Distancing Works – Covid 19

In uncertain times, knowing what to do is important. Knowing the value of actions taken is equally important. So… if you’ve wondering why on earth you need to practice social distancing, or why concerts and hockey games and other large events are being cancelled — read on.

I found this article on someone else’s FB timeline (can’t remember whose – sorry) and am sharing it as it provides an extensive look at the spread of Covid-19 and the impact of various measures by different countries to address it.

Please note — it is not peer-reviewed — it is one man’s compilation of existing data from China and other countries and forecasts based on that data. The picture he paints with his graphs and data is telling. And scary. But do remember — it is based on facts not fiction.

It’s not about ‘when’ Covid-19 will hit your area. It’s about what measures we can all take to mitigate against its impact — will it be a tsunami or will we be able to ‘flatten the curve’ — which isn’t about stopping the virus dead. It’s all about preventing a catastrophic number of deathly ill people descending upon our health care systems all at once resulting in high mortality rates and the collapse of the very systems we need to preserve life.

I am by nature an optimist. I don’t tend to scare easily. But I am scared. I’m worried about my husband who suffers from chronic lung disease. My pregnant daughter who is at high-risk of premature delivery which would entail her infant daughter requiring ICU. I am afraid for her husband, my son-in-love who, like my husband, also suffers from chronic lung disease. I am scared for other family members and friends with compromising health conditions. I am scared for each of us.

How will we weather this virus’s advancement into our communities? Will we walk beside each other (keeping a safe distance of course) and care for each other and support one another in times of need?

Or will we fall apart?

I am opting for option A. Walk safely together, offering what support we can, cheering one another on and doing everything we can do, individually and collectively, to ensure one another’s safety and well-being.

I believe we can do this — but it only takes one infected person to step into the social distance between us — to put many at risk.

Social distancing is key.

As someone who likes to create intimate gatherings of family and friends, who hugs strangers and wants everyone to feel included, social distancing feels uncomfortable. Foreign.

Too bad.

I gotta get over myself.

Social distancing, along with the prescribed frequent washing of hands and covering my mouth should I cough, are the only ways I can ensure my presence in the circle of family and friends and my contributions to my community and the strangers I encounter (from a safe distance) are not putting their health and well-being at risk along with my own.

My husband has a lung disease. Covid 19 attacks the respiratory system. I must do whatever I can to protect him, and all my relations, so that I am not a harbinger of disease in his, and other’s, lives. I’d rather be an emissary of well-being, support and Love than a conduit by which Covid-19 gains access.

So, I’ll say it again. Social distancing is key.

The article is long — but it is worth the read. It is scary — but it is worth the read. It also gives a really clear explanation of why…. Social distancing is key.

And just to be clear — social distancing does not mean cutting yourself off from people’s lives. It means keeping a safe distance so that your presence in their life and their’s in yours, continue to add beauty and value. It’s a reciprocal reaction founded in love and supported by evidence. Social distancing works.

CLICK HERE to read the article.

Love in. Love out. Love in. Love out.

I carry it with me.

No matter where I go. No matter what I do. What I’m thinking, saying, hearing, feeling. I carry it with me. And it carries me. Through. Into. With. Of. Everything I do and say, think and hear and feel.

My breath.

In. Out. In. Out.

In these crazy, uncertain times, my breath carries me.

It sustains me. It nourishes me. It keeps me alive.

I feel so helpless in the face of the news. I feel so scared. There is so little I can do, but whatever I do, I must ensure it sustains, protects and nourishes me, everyone in my world and all the world around me.

And so I breathe.

In. Out. In. Out.

As I breathe in, I imagine love all around me. It flows into my body with my in-breath. It courses through my arteries. Is carried into every vein, every molecule, every cell every fibre of my being.

I breathe out. I imagine the love that fills me up, rippling out into every molecule of my exhale.

I imagine love flowing out. Flowing out into the world around me, filling every molecule, every cell, every breath of air around me.

Love in. Love out.

It may not stop a virus from attempting to slip in undetected, but it does calm my heart, ease my mind and bring me peace.

And with peace of mind and heart, I am better able to cope with fear, uncertainty, anxiety.

With peace and love rippling through my body, I am present in the here and now without fear stealing away the moment.

Love in. Love out.

Love in. Love out.

And so I breathe.

 

Covid 19 – I’m keeping my distance.

Even after baking fresh bread. After making a big batch of mushroom soup and a beef stew. Even after packing up my paints and brushes, my papers and ephemera, I decided not to go.

I was going off to a week-long artist’s retreat in the foothills of the Rockies today.

Yesterday, I called and said I wasn’t coming.

My beloved has a cold. He also has a chronic medical condition. He’s in the high-risk group.

But that’s not really why I cancelled.

I cancelled because I did not want to worry. I did not want to fear inadvertently bringing disease into our home.

I cancelled because I love him.

I made the decision after I saw that Alberta’s number of cases had doubled yesterday. Yes, they are all travel-related but, one of the others at the retreat will be going back and forth to the airport a couple of times for work while I’m there. I do not want to lay the burden of my worry on my friend. And, if you look at the statistics from around the world, this virus exponentially increases on a daily basis. Travel is its gateway. Airports one of its conduits.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I love being at this retreat centre. Savour time spent in the foothills, surrounded by nature’s wild beauty. And I particularly like creating with these friends.

But I couldn’t do it.

To dive deep into my creative essence I need to let go of ‘worldly’ concerns, of worry, of anything but creative expression.

I couldn’t do that when no matter how deep I breathe into the moment, I know my beloved is sick and I am not doing everything I can to protect his health.

So, I decided to practice ‘social distancing’. I hadn’t heard the term before my eldest daughter sent me a link to an article in The Atlantic, Coronavirus: Cancel Everything. In it, the case for social distancing is clearly laid out. In the data, it’s also hard to argue with the fact that to stem Covid 19’s spread, we must change our behaviours.

Yesterday, I scrolled through many articles on Covid 19 and how to prepare for its inevitable presence in the community.

I was looking for reasons why it was okay for me to go.

There were many.

None of them out-weighed my responsibility to the one I love. My responsibility to do the right thing in these difficult and challenging times to create better for everyone. A week ago, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I would have gone.

In just one week, the sinister reality of Covid 19’s presence has darkened the globe and the lives of 14 people here in Alberta, 7 of whom were reported on yesterday. It’s impact cannot be ignored.

This isn’t because the media have created fear and paranoia. They are simply reporting the facts — Covid 19 is killing people and there are things we can do to mitigate against its impact. Media are also not the ones telling people to hoard toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Human nature’s doing that.

I’m doing what I can.

Sure, it’s possible that my response is over the top for the situation right now. It’s possible it is predicated upon the recent passing of my mother and death’s heavy cloak of sorrow clouding my vision.

That is all possible, but none of it outweighs the reality of Covid 19’s lethal capacity to take life.

If I can do anything to stop it from hurting the ones I love, I must.

It doesn’t mean I won’t be creating. I have a beautiful studio at home. It’s french doors open out to the trees lining the river which I can watch flow from where I sit at my work table. It has a fireplace and all the supplies I need to create. It also offers peace of mind. And when it comes to creating, peace of mind is the foundation of my expression.

So, for the next few days I shall be ‘pretending’ to be on an artist’s retreat. I’ll go for long walks (Beaumont will be very grateful as he is not allowed at the retreat centre). I’ll make lemon tea with honey. Share my fresh bread and mushroom soup and other meals with my beloved.

It will be a different experience than I had anticipated and I’m good with that. Different doesn’t make it ‘not as good as’. Different means it will include the one I love and share my life with. It means having the peace of mind of knowing I am expressing my love for him the best way I know how. By taking care.

I am grateful.