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Separate from Love (Day 9 – 30 Day Art Project)

It is not Love that separates from us, but us who build the walls that keep our hearts separate.

We go through life, experiencing all it has to offer, without always knowing how to cope or deal with what is on our plate. In our journey, the things that happen can create feelings we sometimes don’t know what to do with. And so, we dam them up, block them in, hoping that by ignoring or denything their presence, we will not feel the hurts and pains of life and will come out unscathed.

Life is an experiential journey and we are emotional beings.

Letting emotions flow does not come naturally to us. We want to hold on. To pretend the emotions don’t exist. In our struggle to deal with what we do not understand, or the things that hurt us, we forget (or don’t know how) to release what we do not need from the gentle confines of the heart so we can breathe freely.

The heart holds on to many things; Love, laughter, joy. Memories. Hopes. Dreams.

The heart also holds things that make it heavy. Sorrows. Regrets. Pain. Loss. Grief. Dreams unlived. Hopes forgotten. Memories that have dried into seeds of bitterness.

The heavier the heart becomes, the more we separate ourselves from Love.

We each have the power to choose to break free of that which holds us separate.

It is a moment by moment, day by day choice to begin again, every single day, to choose Love. To choose to let go of the bitterness that separates us from Love.

It is a choice.

Just for this moment, take a deep breath. In. Out. In. Out.

Imagine… Forgiveness is a river supporting you. You float freely on its gentle surface. It flows freely all around you. You feel safe.

Now invite Love. Joy. Contentment. Happiness. Freedom… to join you.

Breathe in….

Breathe out…

Savour each moment of swimming in the beautiful, warm waters of forgiveness.

Again,

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Your are safe in the river of forgiveness. Your body is buoyed up by your conscious decision to choose, Love….

Don’t think. Just choose.

Let it be.

Begin again.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Begin again.

And as you breathe. So it is.

 

 

Reflecting Light (Day 4 – 30 Day Art Project)

We are each beautifully flawed mirrors of Love’s perfection, reflecting and refracting our heart’s light.

Yesterday, my beloved presented me with a box of cards he’d had printed, just for me. “Made with Love by C.C.” contains 50 beautiful 4″ x 4″ square cards, each printed with a lovely message from him.

I cried.

“Words of Affirmation” is my love language. It is not his. Yet, there he was, speaking my language, giving me a gift that sang to my heart’s desire to be seen, heard, known, connected.

“I didn’t write all of the messages,” he told me. “I wrote some myself and used their suggestions for others.” The company he used to order them provides suggestions and you get to pick and adapt.

He adapted well.

What was uncanny, and beautiful, about his gift is that one of the cards speaks to my tendency to enter into the ‘tough’ conversations.

The timing was perfect.

I am about to go off on a weekend with my youngest daughter to a remote mountain lodge. There is no cellphone, no internet, no way to connect with the outside world except through the Satellite phone at the Lodge — and that’s just for emergencies. (And yes, I am super excited to spend this time in the backcountry with my daughter).

Before leaving, I wanted to have a conversation with my beloved about something I needed to share. To share it, I needed to create safe and courageous space for both of us to hear one another without triggering our individual narratives around why having these conversations is not fun — and sometimes best to be avoided (They’re never best to be avoided but the critter will attempt to convince us they are!).

When these conversations go off the rails, it’s generally because I get into my “I’m Right” position (which immediately makes him wrong — and that doesn’t go over well!). Riding roughshod on my high horse of Rightness, I forget everything I know about loving conversation and go on the attack, or the defensive, or simply shut up and sulk.

Reading this card reminded me of the power of vulnerability and the need to always come from the heart.

“I’d like to have a conversation with you and want to ensure you know this comes from a place of Love, of wanting our relationship to be stronger. It’s not an attack. It’s an invitation,” I began…

And we talked.

The heart only knows “I” language. As in, “I’m feeling…”, “I notice myself going into a place of [confusion/anger/rejection…] when I…”, “I need to tell you what happens when I….,”

The heart does not speak in the “You” As in, “You need to….,” “You always…,”  “You make me …..”. “You’re so wrong to…”

The heart does not blame, condemn, criticize or complain. The heart does not compare.

The heart speaks its truth, lovingly, respectfully, compassionately.

The heart does not speak about the other’s wrong-doings or misdeeds.

The heart knows only Love.

And we are its imperfect emissaries. Flawed in all our multi-faceted transmission of its messages, we sometimes try to bend the light to fit the picture we’d prefer to have as our truth. And in our efforts to make ‘the truth’ fit our perceptions, we miss the power of Love to create space for all truth to be heard.

My beloved and I had a heartfelt conversation last night. It was joyful. Beautiful. Connecting.

My heart is happy. Content. Peaceful.

We don’t always get these deep conversations right, (we are oh so human in our beautiful flaws and multi-faceted imperfections) but when we are willing to risk our imperfect expression of Love in the liminal space of our desire to be closer, more initimate, connected, magic happens.

My beloved gave me a gift yesterday. It opened my heart up to the power of Love to transcend my human flaws and imperfections to create space for what I want most in my life to grow stronger. Loving Connection with those I love.

Namaste.

___________________________

I used a Gelli print pad for this project and inserted the words at the bottom in PhotoShop (the insertion of words took me beyond the half hour, but I wanted to see what they looked like on the painting versus not there).

here’s the same painting without the words at the bottom.

What if… we started talking to one another?

 

It is several years ago and I am working on an awareness campaign with a group of individuals with lived experience of homelessness. They want ‘the others’ to know they’re not all bad people. That it’s the circumstances of their lives that may be different than others, but they are still human beings. They have dreams. Needs. Wants. Wishes. And one of them is, to be treated with dignity.

“But didn’t you spend all your time concocting ways to make ‘the others’ feel uncomfortable?,” I tease one of the men, (I’ll call him Jack) a tall, burly Indigenous man whose life path lead him to surviving 20 years on the streets. “Didn’t you make all sorts of plans on how to create trouble for ‘them’?”

Jack laughed. “Yeah. Right. There I was all hopped up on drugs and I’m spending my time trying to figure out how to hurt some white guy on the street instead of trying to figure out how I’m gonna get my next hit?” He went on to talk about how, for him and his cohorts, ‘the others” were the ones they wanted to avoid. They only caused them trouble, and trouble meant involving the cops and that’s the last thing anyone wants when they’re trying to survive on the streets.

And then he added, “You don’t hear a lot of stories about homeless people killing non-homeless folk. It’s mostly the other way around. Like those kids who poured gasoline on a guy sleeping under a bridge and set him on fire. They weren’t homeless. They came from some ‘other’ neighbourhood.”

I was reminded of Jack this morning when I read David Kanigan’s powerful post, Waiting. At the Star Market. Trying to Bend the Image. on his blog, Live & Learn. (David is an exquisite writer. His posts always provoke deep thinking.)

In David’s story, he is struggling with a decision to sit on a seat at a train station. It’s a couple down from a man who appears to be experiencing homelessness. The story in his head is complex and very human. Should I? Shouldn’t I? What if?

He tells it beautifully and I am there with him. I have had that internal conversation. Felt the eyes of ‘the others’ watching to see what I will do.

Sometimes, I have chosen to sit down. Sometimes, not.

Yet, no matter my decision, it is that very conversation in my head that creates my ‘otherness’.

Charity, kindness, compassion are not committed once we’ve weighed the options, considered the consequences. They are born of the heart, given without expectation of reciprocity. Enacted because we see all humanity as us. Not ‘us’ and ‘them’. Us.

In David’s story, he sat down.

Eventually, the other man walked away. Perhaps he, like Jack, was afraid of ‘the other’. Perhaps he was trying to avoid contact with ‘the other’, because in his world, trouble is all ‘the others’ have caused him.

What if… There are ‘others’ and there are ‘the others’.

What if… Some of us live in ‘otherness’. Privilege. Relative comfort. In homes with running hot and cold water. We have closets filled with clothes. Stories that make up our lives of abundance, or if not abundance, at least enough to get month to month without fearing losing it all.  And, there are others who have stories of lack. Of loss. Of poverty… of things. And not of spirit. Heart. Dreams.

What if… those we view as having nothing, or as being the ‘other’ to our ‘otherness’, are seeking that which we seek? Dignity. Respect. Love. Happiness. Peace. Joy. Connection. Belonging…

What if… we all decided to sit down beside one another or at the same table and didn’t see it as an act of charity bestowed from one to another but simply as an act of making human connection.

What if… no matter where we walk, or stand, or sit, we see each other as the same kind of human, just different?

What if… we stop having conversations in our heads and instead, share… a meal, a moment, a smile… a conversation?

 

 

Sometimes, you just gotta walk away.

 

On our walk to the off leash area, Beaumont and I pass through a picnic area along the river. Yesterday, though overcast and misty, a family was holding a birthday party for their young daughter, about 5 or 6 years old.

There were several young children running around the park. Pointed polka-dot paper hats on heads. Balloons streaming behind them as they ran about, each attached to a long bright red ribbon. At one point, I heard a mother say to her young son as she walked with him and an even younger son, “What good sharing Jay. Letting Luke [the younger child who was following his older brother around] have the balloon is so kind.”

And just then, the younger boy let go of the ribbon and the balloon began to rise up into the air. He stood transfixed, watching it float higher and higher, and then he began to cry.

The mother knelt down beside him, pulled him into a hug and said, “It’s okay. The balloon’s going up to play with the clouds.”

I wanted to stop and tell them, “No. It’s not going up to play. It will probably end up in some birds stomach and be the death of that bird.”

I did not stop and share my thoughts with the woman and her son.

Sometimes, the kindest thing to do is walk away in silence. Not every moment is a teaching moment.

Beau and I continued on our walk and when we arrived at ‘his park’, I let him off the leash and he bounded through the tall grasses, chasing blowing leaves and dandelion puffs.

I walked. He ran. I laughed at his antics. He kept running, his nose constantly leading him from one side of the trail to the other, into bushes and fields of wildflowers. At the trail where we usually turn to walk down to the water’s edge, I kept going straight. He looked at me. He looked at the trail to the river.

“But what about my cool drink and refresh?” he seemed to ask as he looked at me and back to the trail to the river.

“C’mon buddy. No river today,” I called out as I kept walking the other way.

He gave one last longing look at the river trail and then bounded after me.

The birthday party revellers were gone by the time we walked back through the picnic area. So was the balloon.

I don’t know how far it soared, or where it has gone. I wonder where and when it will come back to earth. How much harm will it cause on its journey?

For such a small thing, a balloon carries a big impact.

Each day, my world is filled with big and small moments to savour, to cherish, and some to walk away from.  Each thing I do has an impact. Big. Small. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Yesterday, I encountered a moment where my reaction lead me to walk away. Not right. Not wrong. Just an opposite reaction to an action.

Today, I choose to release my thoughts on ‘what I could have done differently’, and let my worry go like a balloon floating off into space.

Today, I think about that balloon and my walk with Beau and I remember what is most important. For that mother and her sons, it was the time together. The moments shared.

Just as that was what was important for me. Being outside with Beau in nature. Savouring the small moments.

I take a breath.

No matter the action and our reaction, it is always time to savour the moment, to reflect on our blessings and give thanks for all that is present in our lives; that which we deem ‘good’ or bad and to acknowledge, life is a gift we’ve been given to live in Love. And sometimes, in Love means walking away  in silence.

Namaste.

 

Come. Explore.

Her name is Imogene. Genie for short.

She’s kind of like a genie. Whimsical and mystical. Colourful. She glides through space. Navigates tight corners with ease and carries on as if no one is watching.

My Genie

Genie is my new bike. We made our acquaintance yesterday. It promises to be an interesting ride.

Acquiring Genie has been one of my post-retirement goals.

Previously in my life, I loved to run. It was a passion and an outlet. It kept me balanced. I’d run for two hours and everything in life fell into perspective. It definitely helped me not take myself too seriously!

But my feet don’t like running any more. Arthritis makes it uncomfortable.

I tried swimming but when the weather’s beautiful, as it is now, there’s nothing quite like being out on the trails, smelling the flowers, grass, trees, hearing the leaves on trees rustle with the stories of the wind as it whispers through the branches.

My Genie is tourquoise and purple. She has pretty flowers painted on her fenders and a really cute basket that can also be a totebag.

Along the bike trail.

When I was investigating bikes, I had no idea there was a whole category called, “Comfort Ride”. All I knew was that I had seen lots of people riding around on bikes that let them sit up and not hunch over. Oh, and I didn’t want something that required an engineering degree to figure out the gears.

Genie has seven gears. That’s all I need. I’m not looking to go fast nor to race. I just want to be able to ride in comfort along the over 250 kilometers of bike trails in the city, enjoying my ride.

What I really like about Genie though is how she takes me back to my English Racing Green Raleigh from childhood. I got her after my two sisters and brother were done with her and I loved her. By the time she became mine, she’d travelled all the way from England with us to Calgary when I was a child and even made the return journey when we moved back to France when I was a pre-teen.

That bike carried me places. From the Well’s farm at the end of the dirt road where we used to live, a place I loved to visit before we moved to Metz, France where I rode her along cobblestoned roadways lined with Plane trees. That bike was my ‘get out Dodge’ companion.

I have no memory of when that Raleigh left my life, but I’m grateful Genie has entered it and reminded me of my love of exploring my environs on a bicycle. I’m sure I’ll have lots of adventures to share as Genie carries me places on beautiful days like today. Oh. And hopefully, she’ll not only give me wheels to explore but the gears to also stay/get in shape!

Happy Trails!

How to be an artist (even when you’re afraid)

I have a constant driving urge within me to create. I know. No surprise if you’ve been following my blog or my FB page.  But sometimes, even though I consider myself a ‘creative’, I am surprised by what the muse has in store when I set out to express my creative urge.

Yesterday, after cleaning up the main floor of our house from the art workshop I’d held on Saturday (I’ll write more about it on another day. It was AMAZING!), I took a photo of ‘Felicity’, my clay guinea fowl by French artist, Heidi Caillard. Because I’d filled the island with art-making paraphenalia, she’d had to go reside on the side counter instead of her usual perch at the end of the island where she sits like a queen surveying her realm. She makes me smile.

I looked at the photo and thought, “Hmmm… That would be fun to write about.”

I didn’t get to it this morning as in the process of lugging everything up and down from my studio to the main floor and back again, I’d managed to put my back out. My morning was spent in bed until I got to the chiropractor at 2pm.

And still, that photo called to me.

So, I began to write words on it. The first words that came to mind were, “How to be an artist in a world of un-artfulness.’

I wrote out a few steps and realized the photo didn’t match my message. I went in search of a more suitable photo of my artwork.

Several hours later, I had the photo and the words, which were very different than the original version, all because I liked a photo I took of my guinea fowl on the island after I’d cleared it of all the art-making stuff we’d used in the workshop on Saturday.

That’s the creative process.

Unruly. Untamable. Unrestricted.

And that’s the way I like it.

Art-making isn’t about making something perfect, or even making something that makes sense. It’s about expressing whatever is calling to be expressed without fearing the expression will be more than, less than, other than what it is.

________________________________

Felicity – The photo that started it all.

Is your heart singing?

Do you remember that diddly from childhood?  “Today is Monday /Today is Monday / Monday washday/ Everybody happy?/ Well I should say…”

I went in search of the words this morning (I have no idea why) and discovered they are very, very different than I remember.

That’s the trick of memory. What I remember is not always what actually happened, or was said, or seen. Yet often, I find myself defending my memory, especially in the face of someone else’s insistence I’ve got it wrong. They’re right.

I don’t like being wrong, and while I’d rather not make them wrong  either (I’m pretty sure they they possess a seimilar aversion to being wrong as I do), I also don’t want to not be right!

Definitely a conundrum.

Defend my memory to preserve my need to not be wrong, or, release my position, move into the present moment to be connected in a joyful, peaceful way.

My beloved and I sometimes find ourselves in this pickle.  He says. I say. You’re wrong. I’m right.

As my Auntie Marie-Therese used to say, “What to do? What to do?”

When I find myself defending my position more than seeking common ground, I know I have to give up space to the possibility of both of us remembering the same incident/conversation differently.

But I don’t want to. Not really.

I want to be right. Really.

And that’s when I have to ask myself, Would I rather be right than happy?

Being right might give me the dubious distinction of winning the argument. It does not give me the joy of deeper connection and intimacy with my beloved.

Now, don’t worry. This isn’t about a particular argument C.C. and I have had. I’d be writing this much differently if we had because instinctively, I’d be attempting to tell my side of the story in such a way that you would all see very clearly that I am ‘the right one’ and he is unequivocalbly WRONG. And of course, in my telling I would be the virtuous one and he’d be… well… still WRONG.

It’s not about a particular argument. It’s about my awareness of my desire in life’s sticky moments, to defend my position rather than seek understanding, connection, common ground — not just in intimate relationships but in other ones too.

And all of this awareness came from looking up the words of a nursery rhyme. I have no idea what prompted the search, but there I was, humming along to “Today is Monday” and finding myself on this Tuesday morning reading words to a song I know I sang differently.

Which led me further down the rabbit hole to where I found a version that actually does resemble the words I remember!  Whew!  I wasn’t completely wrong. Just hadn’t dug into the truth enough to find what I needed to feel comfortable in this moment.

And there’s the rub. It isn’t about being wrong nor right. It’s all about being comfortable with your truth and allowing others to be comfortable with theirs. Both versions of that nursery rhyme exist. Neither is right. Nor wrong. They just are.

In an argument or sticky moment, there is truth in all things. And not all things are true.

Creating space for the truth in all things to be known, creates room for everyone to feel heard, and seen. And when we feel heard and seen, we feel valued.

I value my memories, they’ve hung around for awhile. I value the people in my life more, I want them in my life forever.  I don’t really care which nursery rhyme is the one I sang, nor which one is right for today.

I care that in my quest to find the version I remember, I discovered an opportunity to deepen my journey into what is true for me in this moment right now. To paraphrase Mary Oliver, “This is my one precious life.” What shall I do with it?

I shall live it savouring each moment right now, diving into what rings true in my heart so that the world around me becomes a more tender, loving, caring place.

It isn’t what I remember that gives meaning to my life. It’s what I do, hear, say, how I respond to memory and experience in the here and now that creates a world of difference today.  When my relationships are rich and deep, when they are founded on mutual respect, trust and integrity, it doesn’t matter what words someone uses to a song. It matters only that our hearts are singing, together.