Category Archives: finding joy

Thank You Bob Dylan

Sometimes, when I dance with the muse my moves are very focused.

Sometimes, they’re a sea of motion, visuals, words, ideas streaming together to create a dance of all the elements crashing into one another, like the waves crashing into the shore.

It was those words that I wrote in my journal yesterday that inspired my studio time later in the day. That and a monoprinted sheet I’d created a few weeks ago with images of clocks and birds that I’d turned into a mini-art journal. At the time, I remember thinking of my dad who’s favourite quote from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam was always,

The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly --- and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

That quote, and my own musings of time passing and life moving ever onward as well as one of my favourite folk/protest songs from ‘way back when’  inspired the story below. (Thank you Bob Dylan)

I am grateful for the muse and her ever-constant presence connecting me to my creative essence inviting me to soar with the wind and dance with abandon on the sands of time.

Blowin’ In The Wind

Time called out to the wind as it blew past,
“Take me away with you to far off places where I can forget who I am as I while away my days watching waves crash against the shore where seagulls dive from the sky and lovers dance oblivious to the sands of time passing by.”

 

Capricious and free, the wind swept up time and kept blowing, faster and faster as the hands of time kept spinning in delight of the wind’s breath fresh against its face.

Caught up in the wind,
Time kept passing
And as it passed it gathered stories
of far off places and tucked them deep into memory’s pockets
sewn into the great divide that stretched across the horizon
in every direction at the edge of day turning into night.

With its memories safely tucked away for a rainy day in the deep pockets of the horizon filled with time blowin’ in the wind, the world kept spinning as the hands of time kept turning.

In time, it came to pass that the wind grew weary and stopped to catch its breath on the shores where waves crashed and seagulls dived and lovers danced oblivious to the sands of time passing by.

Caught up in the joy of blowin’ in the wind and the who it was it could not forget, time could not stop. Without missing a beat time kept on passing by as the world kept spinning around the sun and the moon kept rising to greet the dark and the waves kept crashing as time passed by.

I wonder.

I am reading an online article about Helen Duncan who was convicted of witchcraft in 1944 in Britain and sentenced to 7 months in prison. She was one of the last women to be convicted of witchcraft under Britain’s archaic Witchcraft Act of 1735.

Bemused by what I am reading, I raise my head for a moment and look outside. I gasp.

The river runs red reflecting the rose-red and golden hues of the morning sky.

I stop reading, grab my phone and run to the deck. I have to capture this beauty.

Back at my desk, I laugh at myself. I became so busy taking photos I forgot to just be with the beauty.

I go back out on the deck, without my phone, and breathe into the sunrise. I listen to the river flowing, the hum of traffic crossing the bridge, the dry leaves rustling in the morning breeze.  In the distance, a train rumbles along the tracks aligning the river. A bird caws as it flies over.

I fill my senses with all that is around me. Morning has broken and I am one with its beauty, mystery and magic.

The pink-streaked sky has vanished. Dull grey-blue clouds blanket the horizon.

The river runs steely-grey.

The day continues on.

I am grateful.

While I was able to capture the photo above, I am even more grateful I remembered to let go of ‘doing’. In choosing to go back out onto the deck, I was reminded to breathe and let myself be with the feelings and sensations of standing in the chill of morning, allowing the beauty of a dawn-streaked morning to enter my awareness and imbue my body with its brilliance.

I am grateful I let go of capturing the moment to simply be present in its beauty and awe.

And I wonder… how often do I let go of being present to ‘get ‘er done‘ or to capture some one-dimensional impression of what is, rather than being in felt relationship with all that is?

I wonder.

 

Give Thanks. Everyday.

 

Thanksgiving has come and passed. The turkey, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce have been consumed. The table is cleared. The extra chairs put away and the table once again collapsed to everyday size.

The accoutrements of the festival have been put away for another year.

What doesn’t get put away is gratitude.

Gratitude is an everyday affair.

This morning, as I sit at my desk and watch the river flow past and the lights of cars travelling east to west towards downtown cross the bridge, I say a quiet prayer of thankfulness.

For the time spent with family and friends. The laughter and memories.
For the quiet of this morning.
My mug of warm coffee.
The music of Hildegard von Bingen playing softly in the background.
The lights from under the bridge dancing on the water as it flows past.
The wind rustling the leaves on the branches of the trees outside my window.
The gentle swaying of the branches.
The gift of Autumn leaves falling. As each leaf falls the branches become barer and the river becomes more visible.

I give thanks for my fingers’ capacity to sense the words forming within me and play them out on my keyboard so they appear on my screen.
For my body’s ability to sit upright in my chair.
My breath.
My body.
My life.

I give thanks for the sound of Beaumont the Sheepadoodle’s paws as he crosses the hardwood floor to come and sit beside me and nudge my elbow so I will give him a pet.
For the night becoming light as the sun rises behind me in the eastern sky.
For the candle burning on the desk beside me casting a beautiful golden halo of light.
For the talent of the potter who crafted my heart adorned mug that holds my coffee so beautifully and warms my hands when I hold it and makes my heart smile when I look at it.

I give thanks.
Everyday.

And as I stop and look outside, the wind picks up and it is raining golden leaves fluttering down to the ground.
I give thanks for the seasons that turn with such beautiful grace reminding me always of the sacredness and mystery of life.

I give thanks.
Everyday.

Namaste.

Snow? In September? What the Weather?

Autumn falls in golden glory, shedding summer blossoms and leaves like rose petals falling upon the smiling faces of a newly wedded couple.

There’ll be snow tomorrow, the weatherman drones on, his smile masking his dismay at Autumn’s duplicity. Like the river flowing endlessly to the sea, the wind pays no attention to the slithering fear the weatherman’s words convey into the heart’s of city folk who throw their words at television screens like a magician throwing knives in the hopes they do not hit their mark. “Snow tomorrow? Too soon. Too soon.”

Autumn leaves falling pay no heed. Impervious to our pleas for one more day  the winds blow free of summer’s promise bringing with them dark clouds brewing up an early winter storm.

In this moment, right now, I sit at my desk watching the river flow endlessly to the sea. No ice in site. I want to keep this image, right now, as my future state but know, I must release it so I can flow freely in the beauty of this moment, right now.

Snow will come. The ice will dam the river. Birds will flock south. The leaves will fall.

There’s snow coming tomorrow, the weatherman intones and I breathe deeply into the beauty of each golden leaf falling gracefully.

I cannot change the weather. I can change my state of being present in this moment, right now.

I breathe in. Breathe out and move into acceptance.

The weather will be what the weather will be. For this moment, right now, I choose the peace and joy of being present in the beauty falling all around me.

Perhaps though, it would be wise to go buy a new pair of winter boots today.

The Darkness and The Light

When I was a little girl I remember my mother being very sad. My father was away a lot and she was far from her motherland.

Her first language was French. She was used to heat and sun, to servants taking care of everything, to living a carefree life surrounded by family, the sounds and smells of India where she was born and raised and the Catholic faith that had filled her life with meaning.

And there she was, no family to support her, raising four children mostly on her own, ill prepared for the loneliness and coldness of a Canadian winter and the harshness of the landscape. All she had to cling to was her faith, and in that she felt God had foresaken her to this foreign land so far from home. She was lost.

My mother seldom yelled or screamed. One of her favourite sayings was, “If you can’t say it in a whisper, don’t say it at all.”  She did cry. A lot. Sometimes, when she was really desperate, she’d hold a knife to her breast and threaten to kill herself.

I remember as a five-year-old standing in front of her, confused, terrified, not understanding what was happening. I learned to smile through her pain. To never show I was afraid. To never acknowledge my fear. Somehow, the knife was always put back in the kitchen drawer and life would go on. I still struggle to let go of smiling when I’m in pain.

My mother’s mental health overshadowed all our lives. We became accustomed to her mood swings, her habit of crying while making supper and ironing my father’s shirts, her seemingly irrational fears and her constant caution to ‘be careful’.

As a teen, I began to resent my mother’s tears, her constant sadness, and what I deemed her unending criticism of me and my life. I could never do things right enough for my mother. I was always causing trouble she would tell me before asking, “Why can’t you be like the others?”

My mother’s journey through life has been constantly overshadowed by her mental health. She is 97 now. She finally got help in her 80s. That’s a long time to live in the darkness before finding the peace of heart and mind she’s always sought.

I no longer resent my mother and even though she’d often ask why I hated her so, I never hated her. I just never understood her. And the truth is, I always loved her. She gave me the gift of my life, and many other gifts too.

Because of her mental health, I learned to differentiate between ‘the person’ and the behaviour.  The person is ‘the person’. I can love the person. I do not have to love their behaviour. Behaviour can change. As an adult, I had to change mine so that I could let go of my anger and find peace in my relationship with my mother.

Albeit awkwardly at times and sometimes not soon enough or steadfast enough, my relationship with my mother taught me that I needed to set boundaries. In my 60s now, I still struggle with this one, but I’m getting better.

I learned that seeking help is important. I first started seeing a therapist in my 20s. I had to. I thought I was ‘the crazy one’. I thought my mother’s sadness and tears were all about me. And while I no longer have my therapist on speed dial, I know when the darkness clouds my thoughts, it’s time to call to get some light.

I learned my behaviour, who I am, is all about me. I am the only person I can work on and I am deserving of my loving care and attention.

I learned that I can’t change what is happening in another person’s mind. I didn’t create it. I can’t cure it.

I learned that I’ve got to take care of my mental health first.. I can’t do the work for another, but when my mind is clear, I am not at risk of climbing into the darkness with them and can hold the light steady as they find heir way out of the darkness into life.

And I learned it is not helpful nor healthy to defend against what someone is saying or doing when they are lost in the darkness. Loving them is and I can choose to always keep loving them, though sometimes I must do it from a distance to keep myself safe from the darkness.

All these things I learned from my mother and her journey.

The darkness is real. So is the light. The light is more powerful than darkness because when you stand in the light, you can see where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going.

In the darkness, all you can see is that there is no light.

__________________________________________________________

According to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, today in Canada 10 people will end their lives by suicide; up to 200 others will attempt so.

For each death by suicide, between 7 and 10 survivors are profoundly affected. Today in Canada, suicide will leave up to 100 people in a state of bereavement. Latest research shows there were 3,926 suicides in the year 2016 in this country. In 2015, over 3,396,000 Canadians aged 12 and over had suicidal thoughts.

Tuesday, September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day. Let’s all stand in the light together.

 

Mountain Magic at Twin Falls Chalet

Twin Falls from a distance

When my daughters were young, I imagined sharing mountain time together. Of hiking and skiing in the backcountry. Of getting away together to places far from the maddening crowd, where Internet and cell phones did not interrupt being present in the presence of being together.

This weekend my youngest daughter and I created magic together on a trip into the backcountry to Twin Falls Chalet, a remote mountain lodge run by the irrepressible Fran Drummond.

It was a weekend of pure bliss. Of time to kick-back, relax, spend time with my daughter, and to push myself physically. It was also an unexpected gift to fall in love all over again with being in the mountains.

I had forgotten. Forgotten how mountain time, especially in the backcountry, is restorative and rejuvenating. And in this time of my rejuvenation post leaving the formal workforce, it was a welcome and much appreciated respite.

Beginning of our hike into the Chalet

The hike into Twin Falls Chalet is not a cakewalk, but it is beautiful. It’s just over 8 kilometers with about a 300 metre elevation gain to the Chalet. Lots of switchbacks and lots of views that take your breath away. (Our second day we hiked the 10km trail – up to the top of the falls (another 350 metres elevation gain) and then hiked along the Whaleback down to Marpole Lake and back to the Chalet — exquisite!)

Arriving at the Chalet Friday evening felt like finding Hansel and Gretels cabin in the woods, without the mean old witch stoking the fire.

Instead, you stumble into the Chalet to be greeted with a warm welcome and offer of coffee by its proprietor, Fran Drummond, a tiny speck of a woman with 82 years of life under her belt and an attitude that goes on into forever.

As my daughter and I were hiking out yesterday we talked about Fran and her incredible attitude. There’s no ‘end game’ for Fran. There’s just ‘the game of life’, and one she sees herself playing with every bit of her being until her last breath in some distant future. Fran sees herself going and going and going, continuing to run the lodge, which she’s overseen for the past 57 years, with the same passion and vigor she does now. She’s feisty, determined, stubborn and did I mention opinionated?

Sitting down to an incrediblely hearty and delcious meal at the large family style table includes Fran’s recounting of stories of her years spent hosting dinners and guests at the Chalet as well as her work in the oil patch as a librarian for a major oil company and a trainer. It also comes spiced up with her commentary of Parks Canada, how Canada is working (or not) and what the government, on every level is doing wrong (with a few rights tossed in with the same elan as the Amaretto she’d liberally sprinkled over the fresh peaches she’d hiked in earlier in the week that she served for dessert on Saturday night along with fresh baked Butter Tarts straight out of the wood burning oven). Fran is that unique ingredient that makes the stay at Twin Falls so enchanting, invigorating and fascinating.

At one point Fran told us that she was considering running as an MP for the PC party but she wasn’t sure she could take 4 years of living in Ottawa. “Why would you want to?” I asked.

“Because Canada’s not working,” she replied, nodding her head and giving us her mischievious grin and laugh. “Everybody’s got a responsibility to make it right and I can’t just give up.”

Giving up is not in Fran’s books. And, even though Parks Canada is looking to shut the chalet down at the end of this year for a major overhaul next spring that will see it out of operations for 2020, Fran is determined to fight them to the bitter end.

Having spent the weekend amidst the rustic and magical environment of Twin Falls Chalet listening to Fran share the history and lore of the area, I believe her. She will not give up.

I spent a weekend in the backcountry with my youngest daughter. It was a beautiful time spent connecting and communing with nature.

It was pure Love in action.

I forgot my reading glasses — which made reading and writing challenging. I also didn’t take in any paints and only had a ball point pen to work with.  it was kind of fun and challenging!

The beauty of daily routine

I like the familiar. The well-worn path. The knowing of what to do next, of what is coming next, of what is on my path.

Which is why I like my morning routine.

From Where I Sit

I awaken (later than I used to which is getting to be quite lovely). I pet Beaumont for awhile (it’s hard not to, he jumps up on the bed as soon as he hears me move and lays on my stomach). I get up. Take him out for a short wander. Sit in the quiet of the morning. Meditate. Make a latte. Sit down at my computer and begin to write.

Some mornings, like today, I take a couple of photos of my world. Sometimes, it’s because I think they may go with what I write. Sometimes, it’s just because.

I’m okay with it all.

In the presence of my morning rituals, I find my pace, my rhythm, myself.

This morning, I am adding back a step in my morning ritual that I had begun before I left for the west Coast — writing my 3 pages.

I left my 3 pages journal at my daughter’s — I’d intended to keep up the practice while I was away but found myself diving headfirst into my days as my grandson rises early and I love the early morning hours with him — and the morning hours are my preferred writing time.

And the river flows

Though, with my arising time getting later, that may change too. Perhaps it is in my “Sage-ing” time is becoming less the measurement of how I spend my days.

I am also falling in love with the word and concept of “Sage-ing”. Yesterday, I signed up for an online course with Spirituality and Practice — Infusing Your Life with Creativity. The course is presented by two Elders of Sage-ing International and while my life is fairly infused with creativity, the reminder to slow down, to consciously move through my day with a creative frame is important. Plus, I love to learn new things and there’s always something to learn about being a creative and its many joys.

Which all means, I’ll be adding the coursework to my morning routine. What fun!

And today, I begin the process of clearing out the back room where all my art supplies and paraphenalia are stored, in ernest. Not a small task but cloudy skies and a keen desire to create order and make space for renewed creativity and unknown possibilities are spurring me on.

As I cleanse and clear, unpack and sort, I shall carry with me the word that I pulled from my Shell of Plenty which sits on my desk, “Joy.”

To do all things with a Joyful Heart is a beautiful gift I bestow upon myself today.

May you find joy in all things today as well.

Namaste.