Category Archives: Essential Journey

The Poetry Of Life

I am sitting outside on the deck. Early morning. The air is cool and crisp. I am wrapped up in a blanket. A shawl around my shoulders.

I feel the slight coolness of the air against the skin of my face, my fingers.

Morning sounds greet me. Two geese honking as they fly over. A chickadee chirping. The hiss of the river flowing.

I am feeling content. Satisfied. Peaceful.

I take a sip of my latte, the liquid warm as it crosses my lips, enters my mouth and flows down my throat.

A car crosses the bridge moving from west to east. Its tires hiss on the road’s surface and then it is gone.

Overhead, the sound of a jet plane breaks the quiet of the morning. In this time of Covid, the skies have been so quiet for so long now, it sounds out of place, unusual.

And then it too is gone.

Morning stillness returns.

There is no music playing softly in the background this morning. Only the poetry of nature filling the morning with its songs.

Poetry is everywhere. From the sounds of the river flowing, geese flying overhead, cars travelling across the bridge.

Poetry is everywhere.

“Go sit outside and savour the poetry of the morning,” the wisdom of my heart whispered when I first sat down at my desk to write.

The critter was having none of my heart’s desire. With a plumped up sense of importance, it jumped into the fray. “Don’t be ridiculous,” it hissed. “It’s cold out there.”

At first, I let the critter’s voice dictate my actions. He’s right, I thought. It is still a bit too chilly out there.

My heart is wise. It knows best what I need.

“It’s only ridiculous if you decide it’s ridiculous,” my heart murmured gently. “There is poetry in the morning air. Go and savour its song. Go immerse yourself in its beauty.”

The critter is not one to give up easily. “You’ll catch a cold,” it stated emphatically.

“Now that’s ridiculous,” I replied.

And I came outside.

I am sitting on the deck in the cool morning air wrapped up in a blanket. My laptop is propped up in front of me. My fingers move across the keyboard. The still cool air of morning caresses my skin.

From where I sit

I am surrounded by the poetry of morning.

It floats through the air, every sound plumping up each molecule into round full orbs of delight that tickle and tease my senses with their delicious, poetic nature.

The morning air sounds like it feels. Graceful, effortless, like the ducks bobbing along the river’s surface as they pass by in front of me.

I close my eyes and welcome in the poetry of morning. It sweeps through my body, cascading in wave after wave washing over me with its melodic, hypnotic invitation to get present within this moment right now.

I feel myself sinking deeply into the moment. Becoming one with all that is my world right here where I sit wrapped up in a blanket on the deck in the cool morning air.

I breathe in and out. In and out and open my eyes. The world is brighter. Lighter.

I watch a squirrel performing an arabesque in the trees. It turns its body upside down as it clings to a branch before letting go and leaping fearlessly through space, twisting itself right-side up, midair, to grab hold of the next branch. The leaves rustle melodiously as it moves through the forest canopy bursting into fullness with each passing moment.

I hear the song of more birds chirping. A single plaintiff whistle. A magpie squawking.

The poetry of morning surrounds me.

Gratitude fills my body with its song of joy. My heart breaks open with the beauty of this day awakening.

Morning has broken. Day has begun. My heart is full of the poetry of life.

Let Your Heart Run Wild

Mixed media on water colour paper. 2 page spread for “Sheltered Wonder” Art Journal

Worry and being present cannot inhabit the same space. Worry is about future events. It focuses on obsessive thoughts of events that may or may not happen. Being present is exactly that – you are here in the now, free of worry, experiencing this moment.

Worry feeds your head brain with the illusion only it will keep you safe from the worst of what you think might happen.

The heart knows best how to stay present in the moment. The body becomes embodied in the present when your heart beats freely without fear clouding your senses and muddying up your peace of mind.

Listen to your heart. Let it run wild. Let it leap over obstacles. Dive deep into unknown waters. Soar high into cloudy skies and limitless blue possibilities.

When you heart runs wild worry falls away, fear subsides and life flows freely.

Let your heart run wild.

_________________________________

Since Covid became a ‘real’ thing in our world, my beloved and I have practiced self-isolation. Always there has been a niggling worry at the back of my mind about what if…?

What if he gets infected? What if he doesn’t survive? What if…

I tell myself, that’s just worry Louise about future events over which you have no control. Breathe and be in the moment. Breathe into your heart, let it run wild with delight in this moment where you are both well and healthy and savouring this secluded time together. Let worry go.

Worry responds, “Go ahead. Try. But you’re gonna fail. I’m stronger than your heart. Remember. I live in your brain. I know everything.”

“Oh no you don’t,” the wisdom that breathes deeply within my belly responds, coursing with energy up through my body, into the far extremities of my arms, my hands, my fingertips that feel the air moving all around me. With effortless grace, the energy flows down into my legs, my ankles, my feet, connecting and grounding me to the earth.

“The heart sends more messages to you every moment of every day than you send to it, my belly informs my brain. “You think your way through life. The heart feels its way into and through every moment. It flows with life-giving blood that nourishes my organs, my cells, my skin. It breathes life into the essence of my being alive.”

My heart knows life, intimately.

My brain only knows what it thinks life is. It cannot feel it. Experience it. Taste it. It takes the whole body – head included — nourished by the heart’s blood-pounding ways, to do that.

The heart feels everything. The body joins it in communion with all of nature. The brain says, “Let me think about that.”

The heart and body respond, “Come, run wild with us through life’s forests. Come, swim with us in its seas of plenty. Let your thoughts rest within the delight of this moment right now. Let worry go.”

I breathe and heed the call of the wild.

My worry serves no purpose than to pull me away from the exquisite nature of this moment right now.

“The purpose of self-isolation is to stem the worry, Louise,” my heart whispers lovingly. “It’s the right thing to do for both of you. It isn’t about divining the future, it’s about building safe, courageous space to live confidently in this moment right now knowing, deep within all your being, that in this moment right now, you are alive within the precious, holy, sacred gift of life.”

In these exceptional times, as in all times, every breath counts. Every breath is precious. Anything that disrupts the flow has the potential to ignite my worry – if I let it.

Breathing deeply into the beauty of this moment, I let my worry drift away upon the river of life that sustains me.

I let worry go. And my heart runs wild.

Namaste.

The Divine Circle

 

 

MANDALA – A mandala is a geometric configuration of symbols. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. Wikipedia

Circles. Sacred spaces. No beginning. No end. Yet, beginnings become endings. Endings beginnings.

In the  Bhagavad Gita it is written, “Curving back within myself, I create again and again.”

Curving back I begin. I end. I begin. I end. Creating. Again and again.

Like waves. Ebbing in. Ebbing out. Returning. Retreating. Returning. Retreating. Again and again. Creating. Erasing. Creating. Erasing. No end. No beginning.

Like the bark of a tree, each circle of life grows bigger and wider with every passing moment.

The circle of life is constantly turning, curving back into itself, creating anew with each cursive return to the beginning that is the end of the beginning dissolving into the beginning again. Transformative. Just as every living organism on this planet is constantly weaving itself through a circle of transformation. Again and again.

Resistance is futile.

Life is a transformative journey. Our cells in constant motion. Our journey constantly evolving. Constantly curving back into itself to create, again and again. A more creative ‘me’ with every breath. A more connected ‘thee’. A more collective ‘we’.

Breath.

In. Out. In. Out. One constant wave circling back, creating, sustaining evolving life, again and again. Growing ever more powerful, beautiful, evolved with every curve back into itself.

I created a mandala yesterday in my Sheltered Wonder art journal. It feels… sacred. As if I am standing at the threshold of the divine essence of my human nature. It is calling me to step through. To release. To leap. To create. Again and again.

At the threshold, I stand bathed in the essential nature of the light that shines eternally from within, without and all around. Eyes closed. Arms wide open. Heart beating wildly, I curve back within myself to create again and again.

I step through. Again and again.

I begin again to create.

Life is wondrous. Life is miraculous. Life is a circle of Love.

Namaste

And… just to get your blood pounding through your veins, your heart beating wildly in love and life as you curve back within yourself to create, again and again….

Creative by nature

We are all creative by nature. Everything about us, from learning to walk, talk, eat paint, draw, write, even think is unique to each of us.

Think about walking. As children, no one said, “Here is how you walk.” Nope. They helped us stand up. To stay on our feet by holding our hands. But they never said, “Walking consists of putting your left foot forward first, always first with the left and then, transferring your weight so that you can lift your right foot and move it in front of your left and on and on and on.

Nope. No one said that.

We learned to walk because within us there was a creative urge calling us to rise up and move our feet. In the process, we created our own unique style of walking. Very creative of us don’t you think?

Over our lifetimes we will learn to do many things. We’ll read, watch, listen to gather information and then… we’ll do it on our own. Sometimes, we might even attempt to imitate what others are doing but, own unique style/voice/essence will naturally imprint itself upon whatever we’re doing and La voilá! There we are being our unique creative selves.

Fact is, there’s no other person in the exact same spot as you, thinking the exact same thoughts, with the exact same images, words, emotions. There’s no one holding their pen, or computer mouse or brushing their hair in exactly the same way.

The statement “I am not creative”, which I’ve heard from many people over the years of creating and coaching others on their own creative journey, usually stems from the fear of believing creativity is just for a special few.

Remember. We are creative by nature.

It’s just somewhere on our journey, someone(s) put certain activities into a basket called, ‘Creative’ and all the other things in the basket called, “Not Creative’. And then we started living our lives as if the baskets were real (some call them boxes but I think ‘basket’ is more visually creative!).

There is no basket. And there definitely is no box.

Which is kind of interesting if you think about it. The statement, ‘think outside the box’ is designed to encourage people to find ways to see beyond what they know to find more creative solutions to a problem.

Creatively speaking, whether there is or isn’t a box doesn’t matter. Solutions to problems come from beyond the realm of what is known – otherwise they wouldn’t be problems needing to be explored.

Remember Einstein? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Think about it. You’re not going to get a different result if you do the same thing over and over again.

You have to ‘get creative’.

And here’s the deal. Have you ever changed anything in your life? Anything. Like trying a new food. Buying a new pair of shoes. Walking into a room full of strangers…

Somewhere in all of that you had to ‘get creative’.

See. You are creative.

Now the oportunity is to expand your ‘idea’ of what creativity represents in your life.

Like, throw out the basket. Get out of the box, kind of expansion.

Try this. Say (outloud), “I am creative by nature.”

Say it again. In your own way (because really there’s no other way for you to say it than in your own way.) “I am creative by nature.”

Own it. There’s a lot of freedom in owning your creative by nature ways.

Try it on. Taste each word. Dive deep within your body and see how your heart, your tummy, your baby toe is feeling at the statement. “I am creative by nature.”

After stating ‘I am creative by nature’, five or six times, you might even want to try saying, “I am not creative by nature” just to feel the difference.

Which one resonates?

Which one makes your heart feel light and airy. Your shoulders and back straighten.

The ‘I am creative by nature’, or the other?

Be lovingly honest with yourself. Which one soothes your heart?

I’m hoping, for the sake of all humanity, it’s the “I am creative by nature” that calls your heart out and stirs the blood running through your veins.

In this time, right now, the world needs all of us to awaken our creative natures so that we can each shine our own unique lights together to create a world of wonder, awe and possibility for all the world rise up and shine bright like a diamond.

Roots. Memories.Connections.

rooted in memory

My Catholic roots are woven throughout the memories of my childhood. They give me peace. They give me security. They give me space to grow wild and free.

Friday evening Rosaries.

Listening to the clicking of the beads as they passed through my mother’s fingers, her whispered Hail Mary’s as she prayed the decades and began the cycle again and again as I impatiently waited for it to be over so my sister and I could go out and play.

Saturday afternoon flowers.

In the quiet of the church my middle sister and I helped her ‘do the flowers’ that graced the altar. They had to be fresh for Sunday mass.

My sister was allowed to carry the vases of week-old flowers to the sink in the back of the sacristy. I could help sort the flowers. For some reason, my mother didn’t trust me to carry breakable objects. Go figure.

To this day, I struggle with throwing out dead flower arrangements.

The smell of the rancid water. The look of the wilting flowers. It feels almost.. .sacrilegious. Like I’m somehow impinging on the prayers of a dead past to be left in peace.

Then there was Sunday morning mass.

The inevitable rush of getting four children all dressed up in Sunday best, out the door and in the car and down the road to church.

I loved Easter Sunday best. Not the mass. Oh no. That was way too long in my child’s mind.

I loved my bonnet and pretty dress. My patin leather shoes. My little white lace gloves.

I loved the gold trim on the priest’s liturgical robes. The pageantry. The statues adorning the walls. Watching my brother up front, beside the priest, where he served as an altar boy.

I still love the smell of incense. Candlelight. Ritual. Angels.

Though I never did come to peace with the notion that girls were somehow so inadequate (or sinful) that they could not serve at the altar as priests.

I still remember, sitting on the hard benches. Swinging my legs, looking around, being poked by my sister and poking her back followed by the inevitable admonition from my mother to sit still, be quiet, pay attention.

On Sundays, there was no breakfast until after the 10am Mass. The church didn’t allow food before communion. Fortunately, this edict gave me an easy to confess ‘sin’ to add to the litany of others I’d have to tell the priest at our weekly meeting in the confessional booth on Wednesday night. I had three:

I fought with my sister.
I disobeyed my mother.
I accidentally swallowed the water when I brushed my teeth before mass. (It’s also possible I stole a muffin or cookie from the kitchen before we left for mass but I wasn’t sure God would forgive me for that one so I never told.)

In church, I prayed the sermon would be short, the greetings afterwards of neighbours and friends even shorter. I was hungry!

Always, my father would meet someone and invite them back for breakfast. Always, they came. My father’s breakfasts were legendary.

As a child, I used to ask my parents where God lived during the week if he was only in church on Sundays. My father laughed at my question. He liked to encourage my curiosity, telling me to ‘go look it up’. In the encyclopedia or the dictionary if it was about the spelling of a word. My father was not as married to the Catholic faith as my mother.

For mom, my questions caused her great unease. Don’t be so impudent, she’d caution. God is watching. He knows everything. You cannot question Him.

I wasn’t particularly good at listening to my mother. And, once I discovered how uneasy my questions made her, I tended to keep asking them.

It was my way.

Yesterday, with an email from a cousin I haven’t seen in decades, the memory of those long-ago days came sweeping back into focus.

We spent time together in France during our youth and into our teens. I remember how much he and his sister loved the chocolates and other goodies my parents brought whenever we visited. How our excesses in food were so foreign to the austere selections their mother allowed that they almost made themselves sick savouring the sweet, gooey concoctions that came from my father’s kitchen.

In our exchange of emails, in the memories that came flooding back, I was reminded that no matter what path I carve, it is the deep security of my roots that gives me the freedom today to explore my spiritual path without fearing where it will lead me. Entangled as those memories are in the complex web of religious observance of Catholicism that was my childhood, they are also filled with a love of mysticism, of faith and of family.   

I had a note from a cousin I haven’t seen in many years yesterday. His presence in my Inbox took me back to my roots.

It is there I find myself this morning, deeply rooted in my belief that even though I no longer practice the faith of my childhood, I am safe and secure in my belief that this is a world of divinely inspired glory. That this life I have been gifted is designed to be savoured and celebrated. It is a life immersed in joy and Love for I live in a universe of great mystery and wonder, awe and beauty.

Namaste

I Hear You Mom

That’s the thing about death, it is inextricably entwined with life.

In and out, it weaves its stories of time’s passage through seasons changing and life beginning and ending, beginning and ending.

My cousin dies and I am reminded of childhood days long past. I didn’t do well at keeping in touch. We are continents and oceans apart. As adults, my 3  siblings and I all lived in Canada. Our 16 cousins scattered between India and France.  Twenty cousins in total, we are now 18. My brother was the first to cross the line between life and death.

And I shake my head in bemusement at the reference to crossing the line. Death is not a finish line that comes with a medal for having completed the race of life. Life is not measured by who gets to the end first. There is only the realization, for those who are left behind, that a thread of life that connected us to another has been cut.

In the eternal stillness that is death, life continues.

My mother left this earthly plane on February 25th. Quietly I dance with waves of grief and sorrow mingling with everyday laughter and joy. I call out to time to slow down so that I can effortlessly stand on the motherless terrain upon which I must locate myself only to discover, like a baby learning to walk, falling is part of the journey.

Be gentle in your journey,” I hear my mother whisper. “Be kind.”

Perhaps it is Linda’s passing that is unravelling her voice from memory.

My mother believed in kindness. It was at the root of everything she did. It was what she always told me to employ, no matter what the circumstance. Be kind.

I didn’t always treat my mother with kindness, just as I fear that in my youth, I wasn’t always as kind as I could have been with Linda.

And my mother’s voice interrupts my thoughts. “What is the kind thing to do here?” she asks.

Here? I wonder aloud.

“Yes. Here.”

I don’t know, I say in the sing-song voice of the child I no longer am.

My mother gives a sigh,

I remember that sigh. I hold my breath waiting for some further litany of my limitations.  She surprises me.

“What if you just start here with loving yourself unconditionally?” my mother asks.

I don’t remember her being so so giving and wise in real life. And I definitely don’t remember her talking about the necessity to love oneself. In fact, in her final days, my eldest daughter recounted the story to my sisters of when my daughters and I were visiting mom when she was in her 80s and tried to teach her how to look into a mirror and say, “I Love Me”. She blurted the words out nervously and exclaimed with a girlish laugh, “Ooh la la!”

What’s happened to change her on the other side?

It’s as if she can read my mind. “Nothing has changed me Louise. I’m just able now to be my true self without the limitations of life getting in my way.”

I am surprised. This is definitely not my mother’s normal way of speaking.

She interrupts my skepticism with another gentle laugh and says, “In life, I only ever wanted to be the mother you needed but life kept getting in the way. In death, all I can be is everything I am. And that is Love.”

I take in her words and give my head a shake. Are we really having this conversation?

“It’s about time we did,” my mother says.

I take a breath. I am so with you on this one mom.

“Then let my words today fall into your heart and break it open in love,” she says gently. “Like me, you were always just doing your best to live your life. You can’t change the past. You can forgive yourself and move on with Love today.”

Okay. They’ve really done something to my mom. I mean, seriously, she’s talking like the mother I always yearned for.

“In life, I didn’t always know how to be the mother you wanted,” she says. “I could only be the mother I was. In death, I am the mother of your dreams, the mother I always wanted to be for you. It is my gift to you from the ever-after.”

I feel tears welling up inside me from somewhere deep within my belly. It’s as if new life is being born within the womb of my existence.

Breathlessly. Step by step, I let go of holding onto the past and stand fearlessly on the motherless terrain of my life today.

I hear you mom, I whisper to the sky and the sun, the moon and the stars. You may be gone but Love remains. Always and forever.

 

 

 

 

 

Staying Home Matters

I have begun a new morning practice. It takes but a moment yet, I already feel its impact.

As soon as I awaken, before I get out of bed and begin my morning rituals, I say a little mantra to myself:

“Staying home matters. It is my contribution to help heal the world.”

And then I take a couple of deep breaths and get up out of bed to begin my day.

I am very specific about my language. For example, I do not say, “I am doing my part to fight Covid.

Fighting suggests a battle, and I do not believe ‘fight’ language is conducive to creating the necessary changes we need to create better in the world, let alone peace of mind and a gentle heart within to help us navigate these times. We’ve had enough fighting, greed, abuse to last our lifetime. In fact, if we don’t do something different, if we don’t turn our thoughts from ‘fighting’ one another to collective caring for one another, we risk losing the battle of our lives on planet earth.

Saying, ‘let’s fight Covid’ is kind of like saying, ‘let’s fight climate change.’

It isn’t climate change we need to fight, or even can fight. We can activate our collective power and will to change our ways so that climate change does not continue to create devastation around the world. As the saying goes, ‘You cannot change the wind. You can change the set of your sails.’

Which brings me back to my morning mantra.

I need to say it for my mental health. Every morning. I need to remind myself that staying home is an act of empowerment. It makes a contribution. If staying home matters and I am actively engaged in staying home, then I matter too.

See, I’ve been feeling a bit helpless. A bit like a bump on a log.

Unfortunately, that also means the inner critter is taking the opportunity to leap into the fray and hiss silly incantations of self-destructive possibilities at me. You know, things like, “It’s okay to go out to the store and to do whatever you want. I mean really, Louise. You’re in day 54 of self-isolation. You deserve a break.”

I try to tell him that Covid isn’t taking a break but the critter mind doesn’t care. When he senses my feelings of being disgruntled and unsettled, he only wants ACTION — any kind of action will do so long as it eases the strain of my disquiet. Unfortunately, his idea of action includes things that cause more harm than good. Like checking the news every few minutes, charting the statistics, reading doomsday articles and allowing myself to slip into overwhelm.

It also means he’s been rather vocal with his exhortations that I  ‘Do something.’

Of course, being a whiner, the critter mind doesn’t actually know what the ‘something’ is. He doesn’t come with solutions or ideas. He just arrives in a cloud of self-criticism and complaints about how I am not doing enough, along with his litany of faults that destroy my peace of mind and sense of worth, if I let them.

Which is why I have chosen to create a morning mantra that reminds me that I am doing something that matters.

After several days of repeating my mantra when I awaken, I am finding it a powerful tool to battle the ennui and despair that, if left untended, threatens to creep into my body and invade my well-being with every breath.

“Staying home matters. It is my contribution to help heal the world.”

Say it with me.

“Staying home matters. It is my contribution to help heal the world.”

Repeat often.

And breathe.

Yup. Breathe.

Calm, measured breaths.

Breathe.

A calm you creates a calm world all around you. That calmness ripples out into the world creating waves of peace and harmony.

Keep breathing. Keep repeating.

“Staying home matters. It is my contribution to help heal the world.”

Thank you for doing your part in helping to heal the world. Together, we make a difference.

And I’d love to hear any daily practices you’ve initiated to create harmony, joy, peace in your mind, heart and world.

Namaste.