January Flowers

Here on the prairies at the eastern foot of the Canadian Rockies, January days are full of harsh winter light in a cloudless blue sky.

The land is grey on black on white. Leafless trees stand stark. Barren gardens lie silently waiting for spring beneath a blanket of snow. Prairie grasses rustle dry and brittle in the crisp winter air.

It is there, amidst the frozen landscape lying dormant beneath a January sun, I paint, my palette loaded with all the colours of the rainbow.

Playing with colour distracts my mind from world events and disheartening news of death counts and violence, changes in governments and travel restrictions and weather-forecasters’ foreboding messages of a Polar Vortex about to descend.

It is there, on the palette, I am reminded that my power lies not in my ability to change the whole world but to create beauty in my own. In that act of creation, I set in motion a ripple of beauty flowing within me and out into the world all around me.

It is there I remember that the power of art to awaken nascent possibilities for humanity to find peace, love, joy, together, is not transitory. It is always present.

To awaken it, to be present within and to it, I must keep my attention on the things I want to grow stronger in my life.

Let my attention be on creating joy, love, harmony.

Let my attention be on sharing peace and love with all the world around me.



I have been feeling unsettled. Discordant notes of anxiety burble up into my consciousness, creating ripples of unease within my peace of mind.

Much of my unease is initiated because I keep returning to newsfeeds that do little to create confidence in humankind’s ability to create better. I tell myself I must stop only to catch myself awhile later falling down the rabbit hole of yet another story about some political, environmental, economic or pandemic related story dragging me into the darkness.

I turn away, come back to the palette and begin again.

Practice they say makes perfect.

I am feeling very practiced at dragging myself out of the darkness, though I am getting tired of the dance!

Yesterday, I desperately needed the distraction of working on small things to help bring myself back into the present moment unfolding right in front of me.

I am grateful for my art practice. Grateful for my beautiful studio where I can find my balance again amidst the noise of the world around me.

How do you find your balance? What do you do to distract yourself from the world ‘out there’ so that you can find peace, harmony and joy within?

Love Finds Me. Here.

On the kitchen island, sunflowers stand in a white vase. Their yellow heads are beginning to droop. Time is passing on.

In my studio, two cacti blossom. Life’s natural impulse to grow and flower is on display in riotous pink pressed against winter’s presence lying in pristine white outside the window.

In the trees that line the bank between our yard and the river, a squirrel scurries down. Winter is coming. There are preparations to be made.

It scurries towards the birdfeeder hanging along the fence at the back of our yard. It has become a squirrel seed depot.

The squirrel grabs at the tiny lip of the feeder and hangs on. Its body swings precariously from side to side. It steadies itself and opens its mouth ready to catch the seeds as they spill out.

Pouches full, it leaps back to the fence onto a tree branch, scurries up the trunk, sailing effortlessly from one branch to the next until, high up, it reaches a hole in the tree and disappears.

Another squirrel replaces it at the feeder.

I wonder if squirrels have a sound for gratitude?

Do I?

Is gratitude heard in the deep sigh of contentment as I sit in the darkness at my desk breathing in the beauty and wonder of the world around me?

Is it heard in the quiet hum of the furnace blowing warm air into the house?

Is it in the rustle of Beaumont’s body as he moves against the hardwood floor where he sleeps beside me?

Is it felt in the quiet, slow lightening of the day seeping across a nighttime sky ebbing into dawn?

Is it known in the halo of the lamp that lights my fingers as I type or the glowing of the candle on the desk beside me?

Is it tasted in the sip of my latte, foamy milk flowing warm and silky across my lips, down my throat and into my body?

Is it seen in the silent shimmery dark silhouettes of the trees dancing in the morning breeze outside my window, their not yet fallen leaves black against a not quite morning sky?

It is all here.

Filling me with gratitude.

This beauty.

It does not wait for the right season. Better weather. For time to flow from one moment to the next.

This beauty is here. Now.

And so am I.

And so is Love.



How to get anywhere: Start from where you’re at.

So often we look for the path by thinking we need to know it well before we step on it. We need to get more experience, learn more tricks of the trade, gather up more ideas, investigate more possibilities.

Fact is, the best way to get anywhere is to begin from where you’re at, and keep moving.

But, what if I don’t know where I want to go? you ask.

Start from where you are by asking yourself (and writing the answers down) the follow 3 questions:

  1. What brings me joy?
    • Write a list of all the things you can think of that bring you joy. It doesn’t matter how short or long your list, you need to have at least one thing on it that brings you joy. And, if you can’t think of anything, make finding what brings you joy a priority. Watching the sunrise. Sunsets. Walking in the park. Being with my friends. Running. Skiing. Writing. Volunteering at the animal shelter. Soaking in a bath. Playing my guitar. Taking photographs. Listening to music…
  2. If anything were possible in my life what would I be doing?
    • Write a list of all the things you think you might want to be doing. Write a novel. Sail the Pacific. Work for a humanitarian cause. Be an actor on stage. Find a cure for a mysterious disease. Adopt a child. Adopt a dog….
  3. What’s holding me back from starting on a path to doing at least one of those things?
    • Write another list with all the things that come to your mind — don’t judge your answers. Just write your list. My 9 – 5 job. My family commitments. Lack of money. Lack of education. I don’t know how. I’m afraid. It’s a stupid idea. People will laugh at me if I…

Now, for every thing listed on your ‘what brings me joy list, answer the following question inserting each one of the answers you gave to Question No. 3 ‘What’s holding me back. (write your answer down)

“How does my _[9 – 5 job]____________ hold me back from ____[watching the sunrise]___.

“How does my _[9 – 5 job]____________ hold me back from ____[watching the sunset]___.

“How does my _[9 – 5 job]____________ hold me back from ____[Walking in the park.]___.

There are 2 possible responses here. 1. It does hold me back. 2. It doesn’t hold me back.

Either way, answering the question for each thing that brings you joy will identify your excuses, or the fact you don’t let excuses keep you from experiencing joy.

Cause, here’s the thing. If you know what brings you joy and take steps to experience it everyday, you are already on the path. And if you let your excuses keep you from experiencing joy, once you’ve identified that they are just excuses, stepping onto the path is accomplished by — letting go of your excuses.

Acknowledging that experiencing joy in our lives is not hindered by our list of excuses, helps us connect to the possibilities.

Conversely, we can’t get to ‘possible’ if we’re stuck in believing our life makes possibility impossible. If we believe we can’t do the things that bring us joy — simple everyday things that surround us always and are easily accessible just by doing, we can’t get to the bigger possibilities — because we’re stuck in ‘it’s impossible thinking’. We’re trapping ourselves in messages that say things like, “I can’t do that because…” and then we let the list the 101 reasons why we can’t, go back to school, get a new job, quit our job and travel the world, become our reality.

Our impossible thinking stops us from seeing possibility is always present. To open the doors of possibility, we need to step through our fears through the gateway of joy. From that place of knowing joy in everyday things, we become open to seeing possibility for greater things to be possible.

Start where you’re at. Name what brings you joy and then do the things that bring you joy. Let the path appear as you keep stepping through your fears into joy and possibility.


The Voice Inside | A story about Joy.

The Voice Inside copy

When Joy was a little girl her mother was very sad. She wanted to make her happy so she laughed and danced and told stories and drew pictures. But still her mother was sad.

As she grew, she kept trying to make her mother happy but nothing she did seemed to work. Her mother would only yell at her and tell her to stop being so silly, so loud, so childish. She didn’t understand. She was just being herself. She just wanted to make her happy. Not mad. Not sad. Not angry.

She thought it was her fault that her mother could not be happy. She thought she was the one who made her so sad.

And she felt sad too.

But that was not allowed. Be happy, people said. You’ve got a roof over your head. Food on the table and clothes on your back. Be happy.

So she was.


On the outside.

But inside she carried the secret guilt of being the one who could not make her mother happy. Inside, she carried the secret shame that it was all her fault.

She grew up and moved away and got married and had children and a career and did all kinds of things to make the world a better place. And still she felt sad inside.

And nobody knew. She could not speak the words that would name the guilt she carried, the shame she harboured deep inside her.

Until one day, she looked outside and saw the rain and clouds and heard the thunder roaring and felt the sadness inside roiling up as if it would drown her. She was scared. Frightened. Lost. She did not know what to do.

“Stop lying,” a voice from deep within the well of her sadness whispered.

She stomped her foot and put her hands on her hips and angrily replied, “I am not a liar! That’s not who I am. I’m a happy person who doesn’t lie.”

The voice inside laughed. “Really? That’s hard to believe ’cause from where I sit inside you, it looks really, really dark. Stop lying.”

She got even angrier and very slowly repeated. “I a-m n-o-t a l-i-a-r.”

Again the voice inside laughed. “Harrumph. I didn’t call you a liar. I just said you’re lying about the truth inside you. Think about it. You look all sunny and bright on the outside and feel all dark and gloomy on the inside. When the outside is not a mirror of the inside, one of them is not true. Which is it?”

The question surprised her. She didn’t have an answer.

“I don’t know,” she whispered.

“Then perhaps it’s time you found out.”

“But what if I don’t know how?”

The voice inside gave a little chuckle. “You humans. You think the answer always lies in the how when what you really need is to understand the what. Do you want to be happy or sad?”

“Happy of course,” she replied.

“Then there’s your answer. Now you know the what, keep digging into what keeps you from having it. If you want to be happy and feel sad inside, ask yourself, what can I do differently, and then do it.”

“I’d rather you give me a manual that tells me how to do it”

“There is no manual. You are the how. You are the manual. You are the way. It’s what you do that makes the difference.”

Joy looked inside and saw the tiny light of hope starting to flicker.

“It doesn’t look as dark inside,” she whispered to the voice.

“What does that tell you?”

“It tells me that no matter what, I need to do whatever it takes to keep the light burning brighter.”

“Then do it.”

And so she did.

And Joy became the light of her life shining from the inside out.


And guilt and shame got lost in searching for more fertile fields to plough.