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Plant Only Love

Two page spread for Sheltered Wonder Art Journal. Mixed media on watercolour paper.

If your life is like a garden – to cultivate, to tend, to nurture — what seeds have you planted?

How have you tended it well? What have you nurtured in its fertile soils? What have you weeded out? What new plants have you introduced? Which ones have you transplanted? Where is it overgrown? Where is it barren and dry?

What is your garden asking of you today?

I had fun playing with creativity in my garden yesterday. Experimenting. Wondering, what if I… And then, letting the ‘what if’ guide me. Under its spell, I painted without knowing where I was going, trusting always that whatever was appearing was opening the portal to the next, and then the next, and then the next discovery.

In the art of creativity, I found myself immersed in wonder and awe, free-flowing through time, surfing on a jet stream of creativity that held me captive high above the earth, paying no heed to gravity’s pull calling me to come back to earth.

Eventually I did. Come back to earth. But not before something I hadn’t imagined would appear, appeared on the canvas – in this case an 11 1/5″ x 7″ piece of 140lb watercolour paper – filled with watercolour and inks, a bird on a branch, bright, joyful pops of colourful flowers popping up out of the ground.

The use of complementary and analogous colours was unintentional (that’s just a fancy way of saying ‘colours from the opposite sides of the colour wheel’). I had sat down at my studio work table with an idea in my mind of what I was looking to express.

It wasn’t what appeared.

And that is the beauty of the creative process. When I get out of my head brain and become present with my entire body attuned to the moment, magic happens.

For me, there is something chaotically joyful and abandoned about this painting. It stirs both my heart and my curiosity. It makes me wonder, ‘is the bird just alighting?’ or, is it just taking flight? What are the stories the wind is whispering to the leaves of its travels around the globe?

And then, the art-related questions of, ‘What would happen if I painted the bird white? Gave her a red belly? Or yellow one? What if…

And the circle continues. Widens. Broadens out to encompass more and more possibilities.

I’m not sure this painting is finished with me yet. I’m still wondering ‘what if’s’ and that is always a sign.

The choice to heed their intriguing possibilities is mine.

Hmmmm…. Will she or won’t she?

Ahhh. Life is such a beautiful, joyful dance of mystery, mysticism and magic. It is a garden full of all the seeds I’ve planted growing into my life today. No matter what seeds I plant, or what seeds are pollinated by the winds of time, it is my destiny to tend it so that all that grows, all that flourishes, all that becomes known and witnessed and experienced is, Love in all its rainbow colours.

Namaste.

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.

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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 Joy Of Letting Go

Have you ever laid in bed, late at night, listening to a faucet drip? Remember that moment in between each drop? You hope it stops. You fear it won’t and then… the next drip sounds and you wait again.

One part of your mind says, ‘get up and do something about that drip’.

The other part, it wants to believe it will just happen naturally. The drop will stop dripping all on its own.

And so, you lay there wavering between the hope it will stop, and the fear it won’t.

Like the child learning to feed the wolf of kindness and grace, or the nasty harbinger of grief and misery, we go through each day making decisions between drips and drops of time passing. Between choosing hope over despair. Possibility over holding on. Love over fear. The known over the unknown.

In our quest to hold on to what we know, we are blinded by our fear of losing what we already have. Trapped in the fear we will lose it all if we let go, we cannot see that letting go is the initiation rite of passage we must pass through to discover the joy of flying.

Yesterday, on a bi-weekly call with two beautiful women friends, I shared how I fear letting go of ‘this space’ to create a new, exciting platform from which to launch my ‘next phase’.

I know. I know. Who says I need a next phase anyway? Heck! I’ve paid my dues. Done my service to humanity. After almost 20 years working in the homeless serving sector, I ‘deserve’ to ‘go quietly into the sunset’ or some such trite apothegm.

Fact is, I say I need, no wait, want a next phase. I want my life to have meaning that is purposeful and of service to humanity. Not because it feeds my ego. It’s not my ego that yearns for sustenance. It is my soul, my heart, my ‘person’.

I don’t want to go back. I want to go forward to explore a different terrain than the not for profit world I embraced so whole-heartedly in the past. A world that gave me great joy and fulfillment.

And see, there’s the thing, right there. It ‘gave me’. Past tense. It is not of the present.

What brings me joy today?

The peace and tranquility of my life is lovely. But as I told my friends yesterday, I miss the feeling of being busy. Of juggling many things. Of making purposeful decisions about big ideas.

Ahhh yes. I miss big ideas and big thinking. I miss feeling like I am part of making change happen.

I don’t want to go back and I cannot go forward without letting go of this space between the drip and the drop.

The end of this month will mark my one year anniversary of freedom from the 9 to 5, which as my daughters remind me was more my 24/7.

It has been a year of challenges. Of gut-twisting growth and heart-wrenching breakthroughs. Of soul-defying deep dives and fear-inspired pushing back.

I am ready.

And that’s the exciting part. “I don’t know” is a beautiful place to start my exploration.

I crave depth. Substance. Meaning.

Always have.

I crave growth. Creative expression. Connection. Belonging.

The question is: Am I willing to let go of holding on to what is, to fall into the unknown that is calling out for me to soar and discover all that is possible beyond what I already know? Am I courageous enough to live the questions with grace?

As Rilke so beautifully said,

Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainier Maria Rilke

The question is: Am I courageous enough to live the questions knowing the answers can only be lived through letting go of holding on to what I know?

Am I willing to let go of holding on to what is, to fall into the unknown that is calling out for me to soar and discover all that is possible beyond the edges of all I know?

Ooohhhh…. What heady, exciting, life giving questions to live everything now!

 

Seeking Perfection Is Tiring. Seek Beauty.

Beauty found her safe inside the bud of her imagination. Captivated by beauty, she danced free.

As I type this morning, I am listening to Ludovico Einaudi’s recording of 12 Songs From Home. The album notes state, “… at the height of Italy’s lockdown, Ludovico Einaudi waited until his family had gone to bed before taking out his iPhone to record himself at the piano. 12 Songs from Home is the result — an intimate record of a solitary artist, performing pieces from his most acclaimed solo albums.”

To my ears, and heart, the music he shares feels like the river that flows outside my window. Liquid. Velvety. Flowing. Deep and joyful. Soft. Sensuous. Soulful.

Yesterday, when I entered the studio to create a spread for my Sheltered Wonder journal, I put on Coldplay’s Everyday Life album and danced to Arabesque. It wasn’t a ‘dance by numbered steps’ kind of dance. It was more chaotic, free-flowing, arms moving anywhere they wanted to go, body following, sometimes leading. It felt like liquid movement that stirred my senses awakening my connection to the muse’s flow and the art of creating.

Fact is, the muse is always flowing. It’s just sometimes I am deaf to her entreaties to create from the depths of my being present in this moment, right now.

Which is why I begin every creative session in my studio with a dance. Moving my body breaks down the barriers I’ve created in my head to keep me separate from the muse’s exhortations that I let go, set sail, dance free.

My original intention was to go consecutively through the 5 Wonder Rules at the front of the Shelter Wonder art journal I’m creating as a reflection of this time in self-isolation. (Be Curious. Stay Open. Seek Beauty. Find Value. Share Grace.)

I created a two-page spread for Be Curious on the weekend and was intending to work on Stay Open yesterday. And while the image and words that appeared could be a visual guide for, Stay Open, my heart knows this page was created with Seek Beauty at the root of its conception.

And so, I let go of creating in the order my mind says makes sense, and fall into the grace of the rhythm of the muse where all that makes sense is to simply let go and create.

I am grateful.

In the muse’s beautiful song, I dance free of having to do it, ‘the right way, and find myself blessed with the gift of being in the grace of the simplicity that comes when I let go and create, or as Dale suggests in her comment on Wonder. Dream. Dare. “Enjoy and do. Enjoy and do.”

Namaste.

_________________

About the painting:

I tried a new technique yesterday that I learned in an online course with Lorna Horn. I love the ethereal nature of her technique of painting leaves and, as I always do, I adapted it to my own expression.

The woman in the bud is a surprise. I had no intention of painting a woman — the spread was going to be all leaves and buds in various poses and then, I saw an image in an artbook I often use as reference and she appeared on the page.

That is the beauty of the creative process. There is no right nor wrong way. There is only the way I choose to express what is on my heart, in my soul, percolating up from my belly seeking release. And in that expression there is no The Good. The Bad and The Ugly. (thank you Clint Eastwood). There is only the beauty of self-expression. The wonder of what appears. And the joy of creating from the depths of my being present.

A note about the quote: Beauty found her safe within the bud of her imagination. Captivated by beauty, She danced free.

After writing it, I kind of cringed. Dang. It would be better to read… beauty found her sheltered within the bud….

And I smile. Seeking perfection is soooo tiring. I’ll stick with seeking beauty in all its manifestations.

And… this is the page I created for Be Curious.

The little speckles beside the words and above her hands are gold dust — they just don’t show up in the photo. 🙂

And… I know. I know. More?

I wanted to share a link to Coldplay’s album, Everyday Life (my fav by far). When I searched online I found this video of the cover song – and a reference to something I believe in deeply – Ubuntu. And… even more serendipity… The video was released on my birthday last year — how cool is that? 🙂

On Becoming A Mother

Becoming a mother to another human being is a leap of faith. It matters not if you came to motherhood through your own womb, a surrogates or donors. It matters not if you chose motherhood or it chose you. Of if you held onto your infant or gave them as a gift to another.

It matters not how you came to it. Becoming a mother is a leap of faith. Sometimes blind. Sometimes, joyful. Hesitant. Resentful. Scared. Motherhood and faith walk hand in hand.

Faith, love will be enough to sustain you in the moments of sheer exhaustion, an exhaustion you truly have no idea will descend upon you once your infant emerges and is nestled at your breast or in your arms or the arms of a partner. And when that exhaustion hits, as it inevitably will, again and again, trusting faith will carry you through your tiredness, your fears you have made a huge mistake, your doubts that you are worthy of becoming a mother to this precious, defenceless human being.

Becoming a mother is about trust. Trusting your instincts. Trusting you are doing okay, even in those moments when you feel like you’ve made the most disastrous decision of your life because you truly do not have what it takes to sustain the life of another human being. It’s about trusting in Love. That it truly is enough. That no matter what state you’re in or how you turn up, love will carry you through the dark and cloudy moments of your fear, you are not enough to be a mother.

Becoming a mother is about commitment. To another human being. To life. To yourself. It’s about giving of yourself in ways you never before imagined before this being came screaming and kicking into your life, or you into theirs. It’s about being committed to not crawl back under the covers and hide out while your child screams because you have tried everything to soothe them and nothing you do seems to work. It will demand, again and again, that you put another first, always. And it will insist, every single moment of every single day, that you risk getting your heart broken, again and again.  

Because becoming a mother is about choosing Love. Always. Forever. Wholeheartedly, even when you don’t believe you can or want to. It’s about doing the loving thing for another human being, even when really all you want to do is eat a tub of ice cream and watch junk TV hour after hour. It’s about cleaning up messes you didn’t make with a loving heart and always turning up, even when you look your worst because this tiny, precious, miraculous human needs you to turn up, exactly the way you are. It means having the courage to hold on when all you want to do is let go, and to let go when all you can think of is to hold on tightly. And it requires you to forgive yourself, again and again, in those moments or days or weeks or months when you don’t turn up or simply can’t.

Because no matter how you got to this state or how you turn up, or when, becoming a mother changes you. It will stretch you. Defy you. Frustrate you. Scare you and even when you don’t want it to, it will define you. It will make you believe in miracles. See beauty in everything. From dirty diapers and spit ups on the floor you just washed to first smiles and reading the same storybook for the 1000th time.

And it will make you believe in love. Eternal. Lasting. Penetrating. Heartbreaking. Love.

Love that doesn’t ask, ‘what’s in it for me?’ but demands instead that you give it your all, whatever that all may be. Because motherhood doesn’t come with any guarantees of being loved in return or not feeling rejected, or accepted. It only comes with the promise, you will be changed, forever and always, by Love.

Happy Mother’s Day

In year’s past, I would join my sister at the lodge where my mother lived to celebrate Mother’s Day.

I’d take flowers, Jackie would probably have made mom some of her favourite food to share for lunch. Before mom could no longer climb in and out of the car, we would often have met at a restaurant, la grande famille including my daughter who lives in Calgary, to celebrate together.

This year is different. Hugs are virtual. Contact is distant. Restaurants are still closed. And, mom is no longer in this world.

Different doesn’t mean ‘bad’. It just means ‘not the same as before’.

Different also means, we have choice.

To squawk and balk at the presence of something new/unusual/different. To carry loss and sorrow like a burden or to let it flow like a river of Love healing the wounded, broken places.

I can not change the fact that life always finds itself ending in death. Like the snow falling outside my window as I type on this May morning, I cannot change it.

I can accept its presence with curiosity, an open mind and heart, seeking the beauty in what is appearing, finding value in the different so that I can live with grace in its presence in my life.

My mother took her last breath on February 25th. Our world changed that day.

It is a different world without her in it. I consciously stay away from judging it. It is what it is. Not good. Not bad. Different. Present.

Her leaving has created this space where today we get to experience our first Mother’s Day without her physical presence. She is always here. Always part of my DNA. Part of my memory. Part of my life.

It is a time for reflection. For gratitude. For grace.

And for remembering.

I am the woman, and the mother, I am today because of my mother.

I am the woman, and the mother, and grandmother, I am today because of my daughters.

I am forever grateful. Forever in Love.

Namaste.

Happy Mother’s Day to all.

Wonder. dream. dare.

Inside first page of Sheltered Wonder art journal – mixed media on watercolour paper

The sun is bright this morning. The sky pastel blue on the horizon slipping effortlessly into deeper hues high above.

Buds unfurl on the trees and bushes that line the riverbank, like a priestess dancing in a temple, gracefully removing her veils, one by one. The buds unfurl a little bit more, growing bigger and fuller, day by day. The world turns greener as nature reveals itself in all its finery, its dance an erotic unveiling of joy and life.

Joy. Happiness. Gratitude fill my heart. I feel myself come alive within the sights, smells and breath of nature’s mystical dance of wonder.

Yesterday, I dove into creation, unveiling the mysteries of the muse as I painted and sketched and meditated on Sheltered Wonder.

In the inside cover page, a doorway appears. A portal to the unknown, the new, the mystical, the magic of life. Around it, the words are written: Enter here all who wonder. Dream. Dare.

There are Wonder Rules to guide me:

  • Be Curious
  • Stay Open
  • Seek Beauty
  • Find Value
  • Share Grace

I do not know from whence the Rules appeared. The muse has her ways.

At first I thought, What? Rules in Sheltered Wonder? How can that be? Where’s the freedom in rules?

I invited my mind to stay open, to let my curiosity guide me. What do the rules represent?

Nature has a natural order. Its innate rules create a safe container for all sentient and non-sentient beings to thrive and grow, evolve and transform.

We need rules to create the safe container for each of us to express ourselves courageously, freely, uniquely. The underlying rule, especially in the time of Covid: To be good for me it must be good for all.

If my going outside the safe enclosure of our home risks my health and well-being, then I am risking the health and well-being of my beloved. And possibly, others too.

I see the beauty in self-isolation to find myself embraced by grace. It keeps me safe. Us healthy. It gives me the freedom to express myself fearlessly without fearing for the well-being of others.

I began the exploration of Sheltered Wonder yesterday. Guided by five natural rules of order, I am free to express myself in ways I cannot imagine until I dive deep into its wonder. There, cloaked in nothing but my imagination running wild in the garden of creativity, I am free to dream and create boldly. Listening deeply to my heart’s calling, I find myself soaring high above my fear of falling.

Freed from my fear, I dance joyfully in the temple of creativity, expressing the beauty I discover with the lifting of each veil obscuring my creative nature.

Namaste