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.

Kiri’s Piano — No. 78 #shepersisted

I didn’t intend on painting a #ShePersisted woman yesterday when I walked into my studio. In fact, I had gone into the studio with the intent to tidy up and get some things ready for a course I’m taking on Saturday.

And then… the muse whispered… and I heeded her call… and #78 in the #ShePersisted Series was born.

Last evening, when I showed her to C.C., he commented that he really likes how I do eyes.

I laughed. I do not think I do eyes well at all. In fact, I struggle the most with the eyes. I painted over No. 78’s twice (and am still not happy) I told him.

“I feel like eyes are the mirror of my life,” I told him. “I struggle to get them right and with every struggle, I improve just a little bit and sometimes, to make it easier on myself, I paint them closed and then figure out how that ‘fits’ with the story. Like in life, I work at doing better, at righting wrongs and then some days, I just want to close my eyes and ears and heart and pretend I don’t see the wrongs and there’s nothing I can do.”

And I went on about the struggle and commitment and all that jazz until I ran out of steam. Gently and succinctly, he replied, “I think you’re amazing.”

Gotta love a man who listens and then doesn’t try to fix or argue you into ‘seeing the bigger picture’ or some other perspective. He just listens and when you’ve had your say, he simply affirms you.

And that is the genesis of No. 78.

In everything I’ve read about racism, cultural genocide and other forms of human eradication and ‘othering’ of our differences (I’d like to call them ‘our uniqueness’s’ but as a humankind, we are not there yet) by a dominant culture which also has historically believed it is superior because of the whiteness of its skin and its God, getting out of the way is critical to change.

Giving way, stepping aside, giving up centre stage, letting go of trying to ‘handle’ change for someone else or in ways that make it easier for us to stomach is essential for those who have been racialized and marginalized and subjected to cultural traumas about which, because we who have not experienced them in their skin/faith/shoes, can not truly understand nor comprehend. The deep historical and present impacts of their trauma can only be healed from within both their body of culture and their bodies. Not by ‘us’ telling them what to do, or how to do it or leading the way.

We do not have the answers for another.

We can create space for ‘the other’ to create a path that is reflective and supportive of what they have identified as their needs, their way, their right to make change happen and to lead their own way. And the only way we can do that is to get out of the way, step back, move aside, give way and give space for voices of cultural experience to be heard.

The impetus for No. 78 came from an article I was listening to on the radio about the rise of violence and racism in Canada against people who can be easily identified as of Asian descent. I am both confounded and saddened.

And in my confusion and sadness, I turn to the canvas. To the page. To nature to walk myself through my thoughts and feelings to understanding, harmony, acceptance, compassion, balance.

I’m not there yet.

No. 78 is just one step on a long journey. With each step I learn something more, I expand my compassion, my understanding, my sense of hope that one day we will quit repeating history – at least the bad parts.

And, as I take each step, I remember back to a song by James Keelaghan that speaks so eloquently and compellingly to me. I met James many years ago when he volunteered to perform at a concert I was producing as a fund raiser to support an organization working with street engaged teens. His heart and compassion are big. So is his story-telling.

Ever since meeting James and hearing his music, I always play his My Skies CD as I travel down off the summit of the Coquahalla Pass towards Hope. On that CD is a song that reminds me always that when we target one group we are ripping apart our own hearts and shredding our own humanity.

Below is James Keelaghan performing Kiri’s Piano. The second video is his story about writing and performing that song – it’s well worth the listen.

And I come full circle to Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and its powerful question… “When will we ever learn?”

Defying the Night

Many years ago, after the man who had promised to love me ’til death do us part was arrested while trying to make the death part my reality, I came back to Calgary for a visit. It was my eldest daughter’s 18th birthday and I wanted to be here, no matter that he was out on parole. I needed to be here for her big day.

That particular evening, I had dropped my daughter and her friends off at a bar to celebrate and driven back to my girlfriend’s where I was staying. I parked on the far side of the townhouse complex where she lives and took a not-well-lit shortcut between two houses.

I remember my thoughts were full of the joy and happiness of being with my daughters and friends earlier. I wasn’t thinking about ‘him’ or the dark spaces through which I walked.

And then, one of ‘a woman’s worst fears’ materialized out of the darkness. A dark figure separated itself from the deep shadows of the bushes lining the path and called out to me.

My response was immediate. Visceral. I did not stop. I did not listen. I screamed and ran.

Fortunately for me at the time, my girlfriend seldom locked her front door. (she does now)

I threw the door open, slammed it shut behind me. Locked it, crouched down on the floor and began to sob.

My girlfriend came running. I screamed between sobbing breaths, “He’s out there!”

She knew immediately who the ‘he’ was. She dialed 911. Police came. Hawcs helpicopter. Dogs.

And all the while, my girlfriend held me as I sobbed, just as she’d done so many times throughout that 4 year 9 month relationship.

We’d hidden together in her powder room once while he pounded on the front door and then the deck door looking for me. She’d listened to my endless fears and worries, tried to coax me out of my inaction. Tried to encourage me to leave him. I kept going back after every beak-up until I came to believe he was all I deserved. His abuse was all I was worth.

And then, he was arrested and went to prison and I got the miracle of getting my life back.

I had no intention of letting it go. This time, when he jumped out of the bushes, I screamed and ran.

And still, all these years later, stories of women being abducted, of being murdered by strangers or those known to them, awaken those memories leaving me with no recourse but to write myself out, back into balance, back into the light.

To use my words to let others know, “You are not alone. You are not crazy. Abuse hurts. Abuse tears apart your peace of mind, your sense of self, your belief in your worthiness, your capacity to stop it.”

You cannot change an abuser. You are not that powerful. You can stop abuse in your life. You are that powerful. To stop it, you must run in the opposite direction and never look back.

________________________

All these years later, when I step out for my nightly walk with Beaumont, I still feel tiny fissures of anxiety, particularly when stories like Sarah Everard’s are in the news. Those tiny sparks of fear whisper (at least they no longer howl) at me to go back. Go back. Stay safe inside.

I will not let fear dictate my life.

I will not be held ransom to the past.

And so, I walk. In the dark. I used to walk up the hill along the tree-lined edge of our property and the ones beyond, until one night I happened upon a man sleeping in the bushes.

It wasn’t his fault he startled me. He was just looking for a place to rest, out of sight. But when Beaumont the Sheepdoodle caught whiff of a stranger in the dark, he barked and pulled at his leash and the man woke up.

This time, I didn’t have to run. He stood up, gathered his backpack and took off. Fast.

I started walking in the other direction after that. Out our driveway, down the hill towards the avenue where Beaumont and I walk along the well-lit road. When we come to the pedestrian bridge I hesitate. There are huge planters on the bridge. Great places to hide between the pools of light cast by the streetlamps along the walkway.

I hesitate and then I take a breath and keep on going. I will defy the darkness. I will defy my fears and maybe, one day, I’ll be able to walk that path without its company.

Until then, I persist and keep walking with Beaumont by my side. He looks like a big fluffy marshmallow, but he’s got a wild bark.

I like that. It makes me feel safe.

Full disclosure: I have not been as keen to walk at night lately. Without my realizing it, fear had overridden my desire to defy the dark.

In writing it out, I see what fear has done.

Beaumont and I will be walking after dark, tonight.

Namaste

These are the moments – #ShePersisted – No 77

There are moments when the mundane feels so heavy, the woes so full of dark clouds gathering and the worries so close in, that I forget I have room to breathe. To move. To do. To be. To change.

In those close-in to the darkness moments, it’s easy to forget that I am part of something bigger than just these woes and worries illuminating my flaws with their 1,000 watt klieg-worthy glaring light. Or their words spewing out from TV newscasters mouths or plumping up Twitter threads full of bile or just cluttering up my day with their insistence I pay attention to all that is wrong with me and the world today. 

In those moments of forgetting all the room around me for other things to take up the space of woe and worry, I will tell myself, there’s nothing I can do. I am too flawed. Too tired. Too lost to change anything.

It is in those moments I must remind myself that I can breathe. Not just your everyday, ordinary take a gulp of air and keep on going kind of breath, but a deep, sinking into my toes, filling me from the bottoms up kind of breath that soothes and replenishes, nurtures and reminds me to Stop-Breathe-Listen-See-Feel-Be-Here-Now-I am the Breath of Life – kind of breath.

In that breath where I find myself breathing in the exquisite beauty of all there is Here-Now -in that breath empty of the flotsam of life swimming around in a sea of news and forgettable TV shows I watch only because I’ve forgotten I’m part of something so much bigger, so much greater, so much more mysterious, magical and mystical than this everyday life I tell myself is my burden I gotta keep trudging through, on and on and on, I am reminded – life is a gift. A beautiful, exquisite, priceless gift. Mysterious, magical, mystical, 4th of July fireworks exploding, rollercoaster-fast heart-pounding fierce, breathless kind of gift wrapped up in the miracle of life.

In that breath I am reminded, I Am Alive.

What a beautiful gift. To be alive. To be. Here. Now.

These are the moments to savour.

These are the moments to remember. To grab onto and never let go. To remind myself, I have power over me. I have power in me. I have power. To change. To get accountable. To not be ‘my flaws’ but to see my flaws as part of my beautiful, exquisite human magnificence.

And in those moments I get to choose.

To make excuses for how I am or celebrate who I am, right now, in all my human contradictions, complexities, curves and straight lines adding up to one amazing being who has the power to stand up, speak up, and take action to create change that matters. Change that could just save my own life from being my excuse for not living it truly, madly, deeply in love with all I am and all I do and all I have in this moment, right now.

These are the moments to live. Always.

And to remember to Breathe.

Breathe it all in

and Begin Again.

Breath by life-giving breath to stop making excuses for myself and start living fully accountable for this life that is so precious, so divinely orchestrated, so…. mine.

Don’t Be So Aggressive They Said #ShePersisted No. 76

The original quote for this page read, “They said, don’t be so aggressive. It’s a real turn-off. She said, I’m not here to turn you off or on. I’m here to wake you up.”

I debated. A lot. About leaving it as it was. Because… well you know… would people think I was being too aggressive?

And there’s the catch. Someone will always have something to say if we speak our minds. Speak out. Stand up. Get heard. Get seen. Do what we want. Go where we want to go. Ask for what we want. Demand our rights. Fight for justice.

If we act sexually. Act demurely. Dress provocatively Dress plainly. Wear make-up. Wear no make-up. Colour our hair. Don’t colour our hair. Speak loudly. Speak softly. Laugh uproariously. Don’t laugh enough. Sit with our legs crossed. Sit with our legs open. Stand with our chest thrust out to (so they say) ‘show ’em what we’ve got’. Stand with our shoulders hunched to hide what we’ve got. Put on weight. Lose weight.

Want to be a doctor. Want to be a nurse. Sit at the boardroom table. Sit behind the reception desk. Be an outside-the-home working mom. Be a stay-at-home working mom (because no matter how you cut it, women are always working wherever they are). Put our children in day-care. Have a nanny. Use the TV as a nanny while we try to clean up the messes all around us.

Sure, we’ve got options. But those options always come at a price. And that price is based on whether or not we ‘fit’ into a man’s world and how men will see us in their world.

It’s not their world.

It’s our world too.

A friend sent me an article from the BBC this morning about two sisters who have begun a campaign to stop catcalling on the streets of their city.

Let’s be clear. Their campaign is not to stop women from catcalling men. It’s to stop men believing it is their right to harass women as they walk down the street. Sit on buses. Subways. Theatres. Stand in hotel lobbies waiting for friends (which happened to me once. A man decided I must be looking for someone to pay me to have sex with them because I was standing alone in a hotel lobby waiting for a friend for a drink. (I almost added how I was dressed which goes to show how insidious the thought patterns are. How I was dressed doesn’t matter.) He came up, stood beside me, flashed some money at me and asked if I wanted to go have a good time with him. I (politely – my mother always told me to be polite) informed him I was waiting for a friend. He kept persisting. Eventually, I told him to get lost. He informed me I didn’t have to be rude about it. Excuse me? You are trying to solicit me against my wishes to have paid-for-sex with you and I’m being rude?)

When I told my friend, who was a male, what had happened he laughed and said, “Maybe you should just take it as a compliment.” I didn’t throw my drink at him but I did set him straight. It wasn’t about paid-for-sex. It’s about my right to stand where I want, how I want without being accosted by strangers who believe it is their right to say whatever they want about my body and what I do with it.

Anyway, where was I?

Right. The article my friend sent me. (Thank you IM for inspiring me again!)

You can read it here.

The fact that this behaviour continues is not a shock because historically, women have been blamed for men’s bad behaviour. Women have been forced to adapt their ways to avoid unwanted sexual advancements.

What is shocking is the fact that so few men are waking up and telling one another, “We Must Change.”

To those men who have. Kudos to you. But dare I say it or will you think me too aggressive? It’s about time.

To those who still believe Boys will be Boys – Change your belief system. Hold yourselves accountable.

Boys learn from men. When men think it’s okay to catcall a woman/girl walking down the street or to pass by and stick their hand out the window of the car they’re riding in and slap the derriere of a woman walking along the sidewalk (as happened to my eldest sister) then boys will continue to believe it’s not their fault. They’re not accountable because ‘she’ shouldn’t dress that way or walk down that street alone because… That’s just askin’ for ‘it’.

It’s the ‘it’ that needs to change.

The ‘it’ of believing your words don’t have impact. Your acts don’t make a difference.

The ‘it’ of believing when you catcall a stranger’s daughter or sister or niece or cousin or mother, it’s just ‘fun’ or boys being boys. No harm done.

There is harm being done. And if ‘it’ can happen to a stranger’s daughter or sister or cousin or niece or mother, ‘it’ is happening to the women you love in your life too.

So yah.

Call me aggressive. Call me rude.

But do not call me names while I walk down the streets where I have the same rights as you to pass by unmolested by your words telling me what you know I want.

You don’t know what I want but I’m willing to tell you.

I want you to stop.

_________________

CLICK HERE to view the series.

.

Strong of back. Soft of heart. #shepersisted No 75

No. 75 #ShePersisted Series – They said, you gotta be strong like us to change the world. She said, being strong like you won’t change the world for the better. We all need to be strong of back, soft of heart to create a better world together.

It is something I find fascinating about this dance with the muse I enter into every time I step into my studio, or sit at my desk, or go for a walk, or lie in the bath… OK. Maybe that should read, this dance with the muse I live everyday.

I don’t ask for her presence. She just is. There. Here. Everywhere. Within and all around me.

I also don’t ‘ask’ for ‘the words’ for the #shepersisted series to come. They simply appear. Sometimes, they come without need of editing. Sometimes, they form as a sentiment calling to be expressed, asking me to massage the words into deeper meaning. To find that meaning, I often have to go through the journey of creating the visual message first.

And then, there are days like yesterday when the words appear before I even enter the studio. They arrive in my mind, full of fleshy substance, carrying with them a deep compelling desire to be brought into visual being.

On those days, like yesterday, there is nothing I can do to dissuade or convince the muse I have other things to do.

I must heed her urgings. I must create.

And here’s the thing. While I don’t intentionally ask for or summon up the words, there is an intentionality to the creation of the artwork.

For example, beneath the layers of paint, the foundational background of No. 75 was created by using a rubber mat, the kind you put in the bottom of a sink to protect dishes. It’s all flowers and butterflies. To begin, I placed it on the blank white page and sprayed purple ink over it. When lifted, the page was covered in white flowers and butterflies between purple splotches.

The use of a kitchen sink mat is intentional.

It signifies that moniker I keep grating against yet still succumb to thinking is mine to take care of. That ubiquitous thing called…’women’s work’.

Yeah. I know. Division of labour and all that but the fact remains, while advances have been made over the past 40 years, women continue to do the majority of unpaid household work and continue to spend more time at it than men. Even more significant, COVID has caused many of women’s advancements to be lost, pushing women out of the workfoce, back into the home.

From kitchen mat to boardroom table, women continue to face obstacles that impede their rights, their opportunities, their independence, their health, wealth and well-being.

For me, the #shepersisted Series is my personal statement of ‘ENOUGH’.

Enough of playing by the rules. Of being, polite not forthright, assertive not aggressive, ladylike not badass girl-power running wild at the frontlines of making change happen now.

Seriously. Do men ever get told it’s not ‘manlike’ to ask for what they want? To be assertive, yes. Aggressive no. (watch for a yet to be created No. 76 on that one!)

The muse is not done with the #ShePersisted Series.

Neither am I.

But then, I’m not done with changing the world either.

How about you?

Have you had enough? No matter your gender identification, are you willing to stand up, give voice and make change happen for everyone?

None of us can do it alone. But together? We are a mighty voice. A powerful force. An unstoppable collective.

#choosetochallenge #speakupforinclusion #weareallinthistogether #strongtogether #womensvoicesmatter #girlpower

International Women’s Day #FeministRecovery

Today is International Women’s Day.

I welcome the day when we don’t need a day to remind all humanity of our right to equality, equal rights, equal pay, equal justice, not just women but every human on this planet regardless of race, gender, socio/economic status.

I welcome the day when glass ceilings do not need to be broken. Glass ceilings don’t exist.

I welcome the day when girls’ bodies are not mutilated, when education is not denied, when child-marriages are decried and girls are not afraid to speak their minds and pursue their dreams.

I welcome the day when females of all ages can walk the streets without the curse of catcalls polluting the air around them. When a late-night walk alone is not accompanied by the fear of rape because some men believe it is their right to do what they want, how they want, when they want with the female body.

And I welcome the day when the feminine body is no longer used as a weapon of war. A weapon called rape; a tool strategically deployed to destroy entire cultures, to enforce social control, to terrorize women and children whose only crime was to be trapped by advancing forces of conflict as they tried to flee the battleground of wars killing the very children women gave birth to.

And I welcome the day when the things women do to give life, support life, nurture life and safeguard the future of families, communities and all of humanity are not cast off as secondary to ‘men’s work’. A day when ‘women’s work’ is no longer denigrated but recognized and celebrated as necessary and as vital as breathing for every single human on this planet.

_____________

A few years ago, my eldest daughter and I had a conversation about women’s issues after she was cat-called as she walked down the street.

So much of that behaviour, I told her, stems from an ancient belief codified in histories written by men. A collective history that deems men worthier than women. Even the Bible begins with God as a male deity sitting at the head of the all-male Holy Trinity of The Father, The Son and (in my childhood lingo of the Catholic church) The Holy Ghost. Where was the Mother of God? Wouldn’t She have had an integral role to play in the formation of life?

That idea of being worthier than woman impregnates much of our collective consciousness around women’s rights and the right, which some men believe they possess, to treat women as objects.

And while, in speaking with my daughter, I didn’t actually say, I blame ‘the church’, my feminist soul struggles to understand how 60,000 people (mostly women) could be burned at the stake in the name of God or that in the Catholic church, women continue to be deemed unworthy of direct communion with God through the priesthood. Yet, in the US, even though Olympia Brown became the first woman to be ordained, with national approval, as a minister in 1863, around the world today, women continue to fight for the right to be deemed ‘priest-worthy’ in many denominations.

And I wonder… Which part of women’s history does the Catholic Church celebrate? The one where women were burned at the stake? Where they are still not able to break through the papal decree sheltering men on God’s side of the confessional booth keeping women on their knees before God their father? The one where the virgin womb is still a prerequisite of the marriage bed and where millions of women and girls are denied the right to contraception? Or the one where, as long as women stay in their place, the church will allow them to be celebrated as equal members of all God’s children?

Sure, we’ve come a long way, baby, but there is still so far to go to ensure every human being on this planet is treated as precious as the miracle of life that gives us life through a woman’s womb, whether virgin or not.

Until then, I shall stand with all my sisters, and those brothers who stand with us, as we call out in one voice for equality, justice, dignity and respect for every life on this planet we call our home.

___________

I wrote the poem below after that conversation in 2016 with my daughter. I share it again today. There is still so far to go.

To Love Yourself Completely

No. 73 #ShePersisted Series

It began with the words appearing just as I was falling asleep. I quickly grabbed my iPhone from the night table beside me and recorded ‘the message’ the muse had delivered. And while the final quote is not exactly as I recorded it, the foundation of the idea that dredging up the past has little value did not change between sleep and finishing the painting.

My mother used to say something like that to me a lot, “Why can’t you just leave it alone? It doesn’t do any good to dredge it up. Stop making trouble.”

I struggled to understand how my trying to understand the past was trouble-making. Mostly because I couldn’t understand how letting the past go without understanding how it was affecting the present didn’t make sense to me.

We butted our heads together, a lot, over that issue.

My mother wanting ‘peace’ by not discussing anything that had happened in the past.

My wanting to discuss things that had happened so that I could find peace with the past, today.

Today is March 3rd. Today is the day we said our final farewells to our mother one year ago.

On this morning a year ago today, I was sitting at my desk, where I sit now, typing. It was a little later in the morning. I know this because at one point, I looked up from my desk and saw two coyotes standing at the back gate along the stretch of tree-lined bank that separates our yard from the river.

I grabbed my phone to take a photo and called out to my sister, who was lying on the chaise beside me listening to a song I’d played for her – it was a family favourite and I wanted to include it in the powerpoint I was working on of mom’s life.

I wrote on my blog the next day,

On Tuesday morning, two coyotes loped off through the forest that lines the river in front of our home. One stands hidden in the trees, waiting patiently. The other comes and stands outside my window. He is listening and watching. And, when he turns to go I hear a voice say,  “Cheerio kids. “I’ve got her. She’s safe.”

This morning, as light creeps across night’s sky, I keep looking out the window. Will they appear?

And I smile.

While mediums might disagree, I can’t order up spirits in the form of coyotes at will.

But I can remember the sight of those two coyotes that morning and the message they brought.

And, I can hear my mother’s voice this morning whispering through the trees, “The answers you seek are not in the past, Louise. They are inside you. They always have been.”

I hear her voice and want to argue.

And I smile again.

It was always the way for my mother and me. She would say something and I would try to prove her wrong, or at least convince her that my way worked too.

I listen again. Deeply. The answers are not in the past. They are inside you.

I take a deep breath and watch two geese flying along the river, their wings almost skimming its surface. The geese are noisy these days. They honk and flap their wings where they nestle up against the ice at the edge of the river, just outside my window.

I close my eyes, take a breath and let my conscious mind sink down into the bottomless mystery of my life deep within me.

The answers are inside you.

I follow the trail of memory, like Hansel and Gretel wandering through the woods until I come to a cave, its entrance a black whole buried in the side of a rock. It is not foreboding. Just dark. Mysterious.

I step inside and am immediately bathed in a beautiful, pure light.

I love you, a soft voice whispers. Always have. Always will.

I take a deep breath letting the light wash over me. A tear trickles down my cheek. My body feels warm.

I open my eyes and look outside the window.

The river flows. The geese honk. A squirrel runs across the branch of a tree. Morning has broken.

There are no coyotes at the back gate.

It doesn’t matter.

I have the answer to my prayers.

I love you. Always have. Always will.

And I know. To hear the voice of love, I needed to first unravel the past. To find the path from the ‘there and then’ to the ‘here and now’ where I am free to cut the strings that tied me to my quest for the events that would answer the question ‘why’.

In the end, ‘why’ was never the question.

The question was, and will always be, “Knowing what you know now, what are you willing to do to love yourself completely?”

Namaste

_____________________________

We Have a Winner!

We have a winner but, before I reveal their name, I just want to say… I feel like I won!

Your input, both here and on Facebook was enlightening, informative and inspiring.

And… I did find the third way that was right for me. Thanks to all of you!

Which is what I really appreciate about all the feedback – you offered both your preference to A or B and why as well as expansive thoughts on an option C.

The #ShePersisted is about making ripples of opportunity for change/awareness to awaken. It’s not about triggering people or causing hackles to rise or to increase someone’s resistance to expanding their perspective or to understanding why change is needed.

It’s about creating space for each of us to check-in with our perceptions and ask ourselves… Is there another way? Is there a more loving, healing, cooperative path?

And that’s the option ‘C’ many of you spoke of.

I also have to acknowledge that her face bothered me too. I loved Kiki’s comment about The Devil Wears Prada look of her – I realized I was uncomfortable with all that perfectly coiffed black hair and the disconnect between the look on her face and the message she was trying to convey.

So… I went back in and kept going. Once I softened the feel and made it more ethereal option C became clearer.

What also became clearer is that I have to come to a place of ‘accepting the imperfection as perfectly acceptable.’

Because, ultimately, I could keep going in and reworking until the canvas paper she’s painted on tears or wears away.

Or, I can breathe and say, I’m good. She’s good. This is good.

This is good.

Enough.

Enough questioning. Digging in. Painting over. Worrying. Considering. Confusing myself with options. Asking others. Worrying some more…

This is good.

Enough.

Tomorrow, I’ll share No. 71 – ’cause one thing I’ve learnt through this entire process of spending 4 years working on the #ShePersisted series, the muse is not finished with me yet, and I have no intention of ever being finished with dancing amidst her inspiration.

Thank you again everyone. I am so very grateful for your presence, your light and your willingness to engage and share your thoughts and ideas.

Ultimately, as Mark says, I am the one who must finally step in and say, ‘I know my heart best. I must follow it.’

AND….

Drum roll please.

The winner is…..

Mitzi Barkmann.

Mitzi wrote on my FB page: “I can see where this causes a conundrum. Are you wanting to get us all, you and CC included, out of our comfort zone? Then quote #2 is the way to go. Yes quote #1 is more you and shepersists, but not as emphatic. :)”

So much truth in her statement, and in all everyone shared. The question becomes — Do I want to knock people out of their comfort zone or lovingly invite them to explore the possibilities of what’s beyond their comfort zones?

You helped me find my answer.

Thank you!

What’s Best? You could win a prize!

No. 70 #ShePersisted

There was a time when it was easy (read unconsciously acceptable) for me to
believe others knew what was best for me.

I didn’t know my own heart.

With time, patience, deep, deep inner listening, I have come to recognize
what my heart knows.

The challenge is always, will I listen? Will I heed its calling? Or, will I
succumb to the pressures of the world ‘out there’ and listen to someone else’s
heartbeat telling me how to dance?

The original quote for No. 70 in this #ShePersisted Series painting was,

They said, You need to
back off and give us a break.
We’re doing our best.
She said, doing what you think
is best for me breaks my heart. You need
to back off so I can do what is
best for me.

When I showed C.C. the original version his comment was, “Oh. That seems a little aggressive.”

“Which part?” I asked. “What they said or her response?”

“What she said,” he replied.

“Isn’t that interesting,” I replied. “She’s just repeating his words back yet you think her words are aggressive.”

C.C. is a wise man. When he recognizes I’m going in for ‘the kill’ he knows it’s time to hear me. Deeply. He smiled. Nodded his head and said, “Hmmm… Interesting observation.”

Fact is. I don’t believe C.C. would be alone in his observations. I think many of us might think what she said was aggressive without realizing our biases. Even when I first wrote the quote I felt a tingle of discomfort as my critter-mind whispered, “She’s coming on a bit strong Louise.”

And here’s the thing. The #ShePersisted Series isn’t about ‘hitting people over the head with a bludgeon of truth’. It’s about cracking open minds and hearts, even just a little bit, with the obvious clarity of #ShePersisted truths so that new ways, new norms can blossom.

Just because ‘a body of power’ has always dictated someone/some cultural group/some body of colour behave in a certain way, does not mean it’s right or that it works. And, just because a body of power declares they know best how to fix it doesn’t mean that’s what needs to happen.

A body of power only holds power because historically, they’ve claimed it, owned it, preached it, ruled over it.

Shifting that body of power, or expanding it to include everyone, as the case may be, isn’t an easy task. It’s hard to give up what you’ve always had.

But, to create real and lasting change, to accede self-efficacy to the disadvantaged and disenfranchised requires a realization that ‘we’ don’t know what is best for others. Only they know what is on their heart, what they need, what they can do to create better in their world. For change to happen, an existing body of power must let go of believing they know best and let those whose lives have been limited by the rules of prevailing bodies of power for generation after generation find their own paths.

Which brings me to why I change the original version of this painting.

Firstly, I was very unhappy with her face. Faces are hard to paint — for me. I originally created this painting on Friday. I let it sit all weekend until late yesterday when I finally decided I needed to go back in and ‘fix’ it.

In the fixing, I reflected back on C.C.’s comments and decided he had a point. Being aggressive isn’t my style, nor the purpose of the Series. Being assertive. Making my point without name calling or naming names is also part of my vision for the Series.

So… I reworked her face (I’m much happier now). And, I reworked the quote.

And that’s where you come in. I am torn between the two quotes. I’d love your help in figuring out which one works best — sometimes my heart needs a little help to find its right beat.

So… please. Give me your feedback. What do you think? Anyone who comments (either here or on the thread on Facebook) will have their name put in a draw for… The prize… an 11 x 14″ print of No. 11 of the Series OR – 2 cards from available cards on my Etsy Shop – DareBoldlyArt (Winner’s preference.)

11 x 14″ print of No. 11 #ShePersisted Series

Thanks everyone for your help!