L’Chaim! To Life!

Last night, as my beloved and I lay in bed reading, he suddenly asked, “Do you know what day tomorrow is?”

“Monday?” I glibly replied.

“Our anniversary,” he clarified with a laugh.

Well my goodness! Seriously?

Neither of us had noted the date.

For C.C., it’s partially because of being immersed in pulling together financing on a business deal. He gets consumed.

For me… well recent events have taken up a great deal of my mindspace. I just hadn’t realized how much until C.C. reminded me of the significance of this date.

As many who read here regularly know, C.C. was in hospital with pneumonia for 10 days at the beginning of the year.

His recovery has been slowed by the presence of COPD in his lungs which makes his breathing laboured. My thoughts have been consumed with making sure COVID doesn’t impede his recovery.

And then, a month ago, while I was in Vancouver, he fell and fractured three ribs. “They’re only bruised,” he told me. “No need to come home. I’ll be fine.”

Sisters surrounded by sisters

Fortunately, my youngest daughter was able to care for Beaumont as he tried to heal and my sister Jackie kept him supplied with food while I was away! It wasn’t until two days before my return that he went for an X-ray and discovered his ribs weren’t bruised but fractured — no wonder moving was almost impossible. All of which has made his breathing even more laboured.

Colour me worried, ’cause I am.

Worried he’ll catch COVID. Worried his breathing will not improve. Worried…

Charlie’s Angels

Add the passing of my dear friend Andrew and I’m hoping you get the picture… my mind is not a calm and clear view of distant horizons and shimmering seas of peaceful waters capable of holding thoughts of health and well-being and death and living alongside dates of note.

The fact is… I have been feeling overwhelmed by it all. Not just these recent events but the whole landscape of this world where war and disease and climate events march in seemingly unending waves of turbulent thoughts engulfing my peace of mind.

It’s time to find my centre, my middle ground as Val Boyko calls it. It’s time to breathe into the chaos and worry to remind myself of that which is always present, always the answer… LOVE

Tolstoy wrote, “Love is life.  All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.”

On this, our 7th Wedding Anniversary, I choose to consciously release worry and fear, sadness and sorrow, to celebrate all that makes my life so rich and vibrant, all that creates such beautiful meaning and joy in everyday.

Our love. Our commitment. Our union. Our marriage.

I can’t change the course of war or disease. I am not powerful enough to cure or heal all the woes of the world.

What I have the power to do is to ensure my own world is filled with all that creates better in this world. Beauty. Art. Joy. Compassion. LOVE.

Today, I celebrate US as I surrender all fear and fall with grace into the eternal source of it all… LOVE.

l’chaim! to LIFE!

Monday Morning Moments (and Happy 34 + a Day to my Daughter)

The wind howls. Beaumont the Sheepadoodle paces nervously. I wrap his ‘thunder-blanket’ jacket around his body, he goes back to bed with his dad.

The morning is quiet. Except for the howling wind. Seeds sleep deep beneath the still-frozen ground, dreaming of blossoms yet to flourish. Winter is not yet done.

34 years ago plus a day, my youngest daughter was one day old.

A friend and I were reminiscing about Liseanne’s arrival the other day. It was not the way I wanted it to be. I wanted to be awake and couldn’t be. My water had broken earlier in the morning of the 29th. I didn’t want to say anything. The nurses were on strike and I was scheduled for a C-Section in two weeks. I wanted to wait until the strike was over so I could have an epidural.

When I finally called my gynecologist’s office, he told me nature never waits. “Get thee to the hospital!”

There was a thought she might be able to come into the world naturally, but it wasn’t to be. Twenty-four hours later, she came into this world while I slept, a silent partner to the miracle of her arrival.

It would be several hours later before I held her. I’ve never wanted to let her go since.

Perhaps it’s because of her arrival into a world of strangers, Liseanne has never been afraid. Of anyone or anything. Nor has she ever backed down from speaking truth, protecting the underdog, fighting for justice for those who need help finding their voice. Taking care of all creatures with her beautiful, caring heart wide-open.

Liseanne is Funny, Fair and Fabulous. She treats everyone with dignity and respect, always lending a hand to a friend, or stranger, in need.

And through it all, she lightens even the darkest day with her love, light and laughter.

I’d like to think everything good about her she got from me, but that would be pure hubris and just not true.

Throughout her life she has been surrounded by loving family and friends. And, throughout her life, she has excelled at keeping the bonds of love tightly woven together so that no one feels outside her circle, no one feels alone.

My youngest daughter is 34-years-old plus a day today and the strands of love that bind our hearts together, grow always stronger.

And, as she would say, ’cause she is also very, very witty and quick to insert a pointed quip (ok sarcastic offering) when she thinks I’m getting too mushy… “You slept through my coming into this world and missed my first birthday because you were off skiing down a mountainside at some remote backcountry lodge, it’s okay, I’ll forgive you. Some day.”

Actually, she would tell you she’d never say something like that. Too many words. Her wit is short and sweet – and her forgiveness is never in question.

It’s who she is. Loving. Caring. And so very accepting of all my human (and motherly) flaws.

Though… she does still like to remind me about missing her first birthday! (In my defense, we were to have gotten out of the backcountry lodge the day before her birthday but a blizzard blew in and the helicopter that was to come and retrieve us was grounded for two days!)

I am so very grateful to have the joy of celebrating all her birthdays since.

Liseanne is 34 + a day today. And as she has done every day since coming into this world on her own terms, she makes this world a better, more loving place, in her own fabulous and unique way.

Happy Birthday + a day Liseanne!

Oh dear… I just realized… she probably will think I didn’t post about her on her birthday because… well I posted Beaumont’s blog instead.

Sigh, I can hear her now… “Yup. Knew it. You love Beaumont best.” 🙂

LOL. And I reply, “You taught me well. Do the unexpected. Life’s more fun that way!

So much has changed…

Mixed-media collage – 11 x 14 on canvas paper

I love it when I open my laptop on a Monday morning and discover somewhere between getting ready for a dinner party and my early morning scribblings, my keyboard shows remnants of last nights culinary endeavours.

In this case, a couple of drops of herb-infused olive oil and a basil leaf from the Phyllo Tomato pie I made as a first course lay in a solidified puddle at the edge of my mouse pad.

I keep my laptop on the counter when I’m cooking. Long ago, with the advent of online recipes, I mostly stopped using hardcopy. I still love to browse through a lusciously designed cookbook full of artfully lit photographs and mouth-watering recipes. But online is so much more convenient.

I do think though that I may want to keep my laptop a little further away from the action. Though their four-legged brethren might enjoy a basil leaf soaked in garlic, rosemary and thyme-infused olive oil, I don’t think it’s good for mouse-pad’s digestive track.

****

Covid has changed so much.

B.C. (before covid), holding a dinner party was an almost every-weekend event in our home. We both love to entertain and I love to set a beautiful table.

With Covid’s arrival it’s become a much rare and momentous occasion, along with a lot of deliberations about the pros and cons and who’s.

After C.C.’s bout in hospital, a slow recovery and the fact connection is good for his soul, as well as health, we decided to hold a small gathering with two other special couples.

While the enjoyment of setting the table, planning the menu and cooking the meal remains the same, we no longer view a potential guest list through the lens of how many couples should we invite? 4? 6? And we don’t deliberate as much about ‘will this be a good mix of people?’. Now, our deliberations focus on other considerations like, “How big is their bubble?” “Are they vaccinated?”

Even the menu takes Covid into consideration. Shared plates have gone the way of a virus-free world and I’ve had to increase my supply of appetizer plates, small forks and knives (not all that big a hardship. I LUV pretty dishes!) so that everyone gets their own fork and cutting knife for the charcuterie.

Even the welcoming at the door has changed. When guests arrive they most still come baring a bottle of wine or a gift for the house. They also step through the door with the declaration, “We took the test! Negative!”

And hugs? Even with a negative test I’m hesitant.

Perhaps that is the greatest change of all… the constant, worry-riddled inner mind chatter of… “Is it safe?”

And yes, we could forgo all form of entertaining, but somehow, that feels like Covid has won.

Life comes with risks. It’s all in how we measure both the risk and our tolerance along with our need for social connection.

And being with good friends. Laughing and telling stories on one another, sharing a meal around a candlelit table — ah yes. These are the happenings that make life so rich and memories so deep.

We were six for dinner last night. Old friends. Family.

We laughed and giggled. We teased one another as only those who share long histories together do. Some of the stories told were probably repeats from dinner’s past.

And it didn’t matter.

We were gathered around a table savouring the connections we crave so much.

Take that you miserable virus! You may have forced us to change a lot of things in our lives, but the one thing you will never change is the joy we feel when we are all connected.

Namaste.

_____________________

About the artwork

I also spent time in the studio this weekend working on another piece for my #SheDaresBoldly series.

Waaaay too much fun!

And the quote…. may we all never compromise our truth!

Grace. Gratitude. Joy.

In September, I took a 20 hour a week contract with a not-for-profit. I was excited. Nervous. Inspired. To be able to give back, to share in the NFPs vision of inclusive workplaces employing a diverse workforce felt right. Good. Challenging.

After two years of ‘retirement’ that felt a little derailed under Covid’s presence, I was feeling somewhat adrift. It wasn’t that I didn’t recognize that every time I wrote here or created in my studio, I was living on purpose. It was more that after almost 2 decades of feeling on-purpose everyday knowing that the work I was doing changed lives, I felt a bit disconnected from my purpose to “touch hearts, open minds and set spirits free.”

Supporting a not-for-profit in advocacy and government relations seemed like purposeful work.

And it is.

Though, I must admit, I hadn’t accounted for the challenges of onboarding and getting to know an organization through socially distanced practices.

My hat’s off to any employee who has waded into a new organization during these times, and the employers who have successfully onboarded new staff. It ain’t easy!

But, like anything, if you let go of expectations and stay open to possibilities, it’s achievable.

Which means, I’m learning and growing and adapting and shifting my expectations to embrace this new reality.

I am also adjusting my daily routines and slipping back into my old habit of rising early.

I have always been an early riser. Even as a teenager. Early mornings are my sweet spot. Over the last two years however, my normal 5:30 rise and shine has drifted into a 7:30 yawn and stretch as I slip into an easy awakening.

It’s been an adjustment.

In encountering this new reality, I am remembering my love of early rising and its many benefits. Something I seemed to have forgotten as I slid through each day without having to reference my daily agenda. It was easy over the past two years to keep track of my calendar. There were few appointments or meetings to remember.

Now, my calendar is getting peppered with Zoom meetings and tasks to be completed.

It’s kind of nice.

I like the busy. I like the structure.

And that’s what I’m discovering to be most true for me.

I feel more grounded and centered within a structure.

Free-spirited I may be but what allows me the most breadth to spread my wings with ease, is knowing the purpose and direction of my flight.

I don’t need to know the destination.

I just like feeling that my wings are wide-spread with purpose.

I’ve gone back to work, albeit not 5 days a work-week, it is enough to remind me though, of the joy that comes with giving back, with living on purpose and feeling challenged.

I’m adapting. Making adjustments and embracing this change.

There are some things however, that cannot, will not, must not change for me — and one of those is ensuring I protect and preserve my sacred space for creative expression.

I’ve been letting it go in the past couple of weeks. Telling myself my head is so full of learning new things, I’m too tired to take my body down to the studio.

Ahhh…. that critter mind loves to slip in when new horizons open up. He gets scared by wide open spaces and wants to pull me back to safety. Except… his idea of safety leaves me vulnerable to confusion and doubt.

And I smile. Head and body are one. Not two separate entities with the one ruled by the other. For my mind to be calm and peaceful, I must respect the wholeness of all I am and breathe into my entire being, connecting deeply to the flow of all life in and around me.

In that grace-filled space of unity, mind chatter drifts away as effortlessly as clouds on a blue-sky summer day as I fall with grace into gratitude and joy.

And look! It’s not yet 8 am and I’ve just finished my blog – something I’ve been less present with over the past few months.

Because here’s the thing. Writing here every morning sets my day up with grace, gratitude and joy.

And who doesn’t like a day that begins with feeling full of grace, gratitude and joy?

Namaste

When Adventure Calls, Say YES!

Brunch at Mt. Engadine Lodge – Photo source – https://mountengadine.com/gallery/

Yesterday, I spent several hours taking and editing photos of my artwork and loading them onto my ETSY store – DARE BOLDLY ART

I know… shamelessly commercial, but… it’s also real, ’cause here’s the thing –

I don’t create to sell, I create to express my inner desires, hopes, dreams, feelings, thoughts, ideas, concerns, confusion, contemplations.

And then, my walls become too crowded. My cupboards become cluttered with pieces of art gathering dust, growing weary of the darkness.

And so… I enter art shows and fairs in the hope that in selling a few pieces not only do I create space, I also create inspiration for the next creative expression (along with coin to buy the prerequisite supplies – though given that my studio is full of supplies, that buying more supplies probably comes with a douse of over-consumption!)

But, regardless of why I want to sell my art — (I really do need the space) I have finally started to load some of my paintings onto Dare Boldly Art!

Over the next few weeks I’ll be adding more — but today…

Well, today I’m off for three days to be “The Chef” at Mt. Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis Country. They are between chefs – the new second chef starts Sep 6 and the current chef needs a break! I’m happy to oblige! (The photo above is taken from the deck)

Not quite ‘backcountry’ (you can access it via a gravel/dirt road) it is however off the beaten path as well as ‘the grid’.

This is the same lodge I cooked in at just before Christmas 2019 – just before Covid locked the world down and lodges such as Mt. Engadine struggled to make their way through the chaos and closures.

Through good management, committed staff and strong Covid protocols, the Lodge has pulled through.

Colour me excited!

Last time I was there, it was a winter wonderland. This time, I’ll be entering a late summer/ early fall (the temp this morning is 0C – 32F) playground of burbling streams, mountain flowers carpeting meadows in all the colours of the rainbow and birds singing and soaring in the air.

And… bonus! My friend JD is joining me again to keep me company and play the role of ‘sous chef’. I’ve packed along a bucket of paints and ephemera for us to play with, my hiking boots and a stack of cookbooks to devour as I plan out the meals for the next three days.

Before cooking at Mt Engadine the first time, cooking in a backcountry lodge was on my bucket list — now it’s on my ‘repeat often’. It is exhausting but fun. It’s (kind of) scary and challenging. It connects me to my creative core – cooking for 30 people does that – and it reminds me that life is a constant adventure when you say YES! to its many beguiling invitations.

See you all next week!

And PS — please do come check out my store — if only to say Hi!

Happy cooking. Happy living! Happy. Happy.

Falling in love all over again.

One of my first loves was film.

As a child, my sister Anne and I would re-enact scenes from our favourite movie — especially The Parent Trap where we would each take on the role of one of the twins and spend hours recreating various scenes.

In my 40s, I studied screen-writing and had a script optioned. I also worked on various films, writing and producing documentary along with other pieces.

But it was hard. A single mother with two daughters, I had to make a living so I got a job and life kept moving on.

Over the past year, I’ve been coming back to my love of film-making. It has been a lovely gift to myself to edit videos both for my Dare Boldly Art and, as I most recently did, for my sister’s 70th birthday.

It gives me such joy!

Yesterday, I decided I needed to finish off my Learning to Fly art journal with a video of all the pages. Called a, ‘Flip Through’, the purpose is to show the body of work in its entirety.

And again, I had great fun.

I also created a page of all the quotes I’ve affixed to the pages and it was in that process I felt the shimmer of divine grace descending and wrapping me up in its mystery.

I honestly don’t remember where all the words came from. They just appeared as I immersed myself in the creative process.

Which brings me back to the joy of film-making.

Last night I attended my first board meeting for THIRD ACTion Film Fest which I recently joined. (Do check out the upcoming festival list! The films are amazing and you can watch them from the comfort of your living room or deck — it’s all online this year again!)

As we talked and went through the processes necessary to govern a film organization such as this, I was in awe of the talent around the ‘Zoom table’ as well as the passion and commitment of everyone there.

I also felt my creative juices spark and fire up and get all excited about an idea…

I’m not sharing it yet… ideas need time to germinate. But, I will say this… it’s the first screenplay I’ve tackled writing in 25 years.

I’m hoping it’s like riding a bike. The skills I learned in the two year screenwriting course I took way back when will reawaken and my natural gifts for story-telling will get all charged up and I’ll be on fire!

I am excited.

Which is why it felt so serendipity this morning when I gathered up all the quotes from my Learning to Fly art journal into one document and I discovered the path unfolding with my writing wings unfurling.

As they say in the screen-writing biz… CUT TO:

_______________________________________

This is the Flip Through video I worked on yesterday for my Learning to Fly art journal.

Did I mention how much I’m enjoying creating videos? No? Oh well… A LOT!!!!

A Kiss Like No Other.

There is something magical about walking along the river in the early evening of a warm Spring day.

Magical.

Mystical.

Mysterious.

Birds twitter in trees, the soft trill of some unknown (to me) species. The chattering of the chickadees mixing with the gossiping of squirrels. Ducks quacking from the middle of the river where they float lazily by while overhead, geese fly low, honking and calling out to one another.

Divine.

Delightful.

Delicious.

Leaves rustle on trees as if, released from the tightness of their buds, they have much to share about winter days gone by. Grasses turn green, eyeing one another as they whisper amongst themselves the secrets they’ve dug up from deep within their roots.

Luscious.

Luminous.

Light.

Fairy dancers spinning tales of magic on sun-dappled water. A fisherman casting his line out where he stands, thigh deep, in the running waters. A fish jumps just out of the water, splashes down as if to say to the erstwhile fisherman, “Catch me if you can!”.

Stories woven out of air, spun upon a gentle breeze catching a whiff of something exotic simmering on the fire where a family gathers to share time spent laughing and playing and eating by the river.

And I walk along the river’s edge and Beaumont chases the ball and stops to sniff some unknown scent and then he lets the ball fall into the water and he follows it with a splash into the river and I sit on the bank and watch and smile and listen and savour the pure delight of being alive in this moment right now.

This is spring in the city. My viewpoint focused to this moment in time where I sit and watch the world float by. No destination. No To Do list calling. No ‘have to’s’ waiting.

Just being. Here. Now.

This is all there is.

Love.

Joy.

Beauty.

Life.

______________________________

This post is in response to Eugi’s Weekly Prompt: Viewpoint

Your Weekly Prompt Viewpoint – May 13, 2021.

Your Weekly Prompt –Viewpoint – May 13, 2021.

Go where the prompt leads you and publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be any variation of the prompt and/or image. Please keep it family friendly. This needs to be a safe and fun space for all. Prompts close 7 days from the close of my post.


Link your blog to mine with a pingback. To do a pingback: Copy the URL (the HTTPS:// address of my post) and paste it into your post. You may also place a copy of the URL of your post in the comments of the current week’s prompt.

Responses posted prior to the next Thursday prompt release can be included in the Roundup.

Let’s be creative and have fun!

-Eugi

https://amanpan.com/2021/05/13/eugis-weekly-prompt-viewpoint-may-13-2021/ 

Where The Wild Things Fly

From the 2 page spread for No. 7 & 8 of 20 Attitudes and Actions to Help You Live the Life of Your Dreams.

7.       Let courage draw you to the edge and passion lift you up
8.       Close your eyes, imagine the feeling of flight – repeat often

Mother Nature is the most amazing partner. When we invite her to be our mentor, our guide, our co-creator of possibilities, miracles and magic happen all around.

Thanks to Mother Nature and a Bald Eagle yesterday, I played in the field of possibilities of my Learning to Fly list of Attitudes and Actions – and was rewarded with miracles, magic and a whole lot of laughter!

In my studio, I spent much of the afternoon into the evening working on the spread for No. 7 & 8 of my 20 Attitudes and Actions.

  1. Let courage draw you to the edge and passion lift you up
  2. Close your eyes, imagine the feeling of flight – repeat often

Just before taking Beaumont the Sheepadoodle for his late afternoon walk, I made a spaghetti sauce so dinner would be easy. C.C. is engrossed in the hockey season as the teams near making it to the Playoffs. Or not, as the case seems to be he tells me for the Flames, our hometown team.

I was engrossed in creativity. Both, working on items on my list as well as creating in my art journal.

Win/win when dinner is easy and relatively ‘mess-less’. I tell you all that because, it all plays into the miracles and magic of the evening. As we sat at the island eating and chatting, C.C. looked out the window and said, “There’s a Bald Eagle sitting in one of the trees.”

I was so excited, I immediately jumped up from the table, grabbed my phone and raced out onto the deck.

The eagle from our deck.

He was quite a ways away, and there were lots of branches blocking my view.

But I soooo wanted to catch him in his moment of taking flight.

So I waited. And waited. But he seemed quite content sitting on his branch. Have you ever tried to outwait a Bald Eagle? It ain’t easy.

Over dinner, I kept darting out onto the deck to see if I could capture him. After we’d tidied up, I went downstairs to my studio and decided, ‘what the heck’. If the eagle’s still there, I am going to outwait him.

Without bothering to put shoes or coat on, I dashed out the French doors of my studio, onto the back lawn and raced along the fence-line until I was relatively close to the eagle’s perch.

Did I mention we’ve had snow the last couple of days? While most of it is gone the backyard is either covered in snow or wet and soggy. I was wearing Birkenstocks. At least I had socks on! (I know. Such an elegant look. Right?)

Anyways. I waited. And waited some more. And then…. it happened….

You’ll have to watch the short (40sec) video of what happened to find out! It’s at the bottom of this post.

I know. Such a tease.

But I am so very grateful for Mother Nature’s gift of flight.

Absolutely divine!

Oh. And btw… The laughter part of the miracles and magic, that’s at the end of the video. you’ll see. 🙂 C.C. howled when I showed it to him. I hope you do too!

Flight of the Bald Eagle.

Joy Does Not Sleep

Joy does not sleep while you muddle through your days. It dances always in the hope that you will awaken to its light.

The inspiration for this page came from a comment a lovely soulful woman, a fellow artist, made about one of my pieces and how it opened a door to healing and connection and joy.

On this day of the second year since my mother’s passing, I am reminded of how a friend described her feelings when in her 50’s both her parents passed away — “Since ‘becoming orphaned’ as she put it, I am all alone”. I wanted to create something that took away the sting of that idea of ‘being orphaned’ and connected me to the joy that is always dancing within and all around me.

In a comment yesterday, MSJaDeli of TaoTalk, shared a story from the Zhuang Zi. “Someone dies and an old man in his tent starts banging on his tin plate in grief. This is the wise man who is supposed to be above it all. The banging begins to bother others who go to check on him. They ask the old man, hey aren’t you the wise man, how much longer are you going to bang on that pan. The old man says I feel it as long as I need to feel it and when I don’t feel it anymore I’ll stop banging on the pan.”

I am known amongst some of my friends as a really good pot-banger. (The ‘good’ is my word, btw. Not necessarily theirs.) On backcountry ski trips, I was inevitably the first one up. As the first one up I would restoke the fire in the hut and put on coffee as well as start breakfast. As these were backcountry huts there was no electricity or running water. My least favourite task was going out to haul in water so… if the big water container was empty, to ensure there was coffee, I had to wake someone up — which meant I’d walk around singing at the top of my lungs, banging on a pot with a big metal spoon — I didn’t say it was a good practice. Just that I was good at it! 🙂 I know. Not my finest moment. Though we inevitably would get off to a nice early start because of my ‘joyful’ pot banging.

MSJ’s sharing of that story reminded me of those days and how much joy I felt being with good friends, far from the maddening crowds, surrounded by soaring peaks and still mountain air and sprawling valleys leading up to wide open slopes of untouched powder.

Glorious!

I am so blessed.

I bang on my keyboard letting words spill out, letting my emotions flow wild and gloriously free. I bang with my paintbrushes, hauling paint pots onto my worktable, tossing colour and texture onto the canvas with joyful abandon, transporting myself far from the maddening crowds into the sacred fields of creative expression.

I dance with the muse and joy lifts me up reminding me always — I am never alone. I am always connected to the divine essence of life in all its sprawling beauty unfurling.

In my studio, I know with great certainty, I am connected to the all that makes this life so beautifully exquisite and precious.

Namaste