Sunday, July 16, 2017


Letting Go
Garden of the Gods, Lana'i, Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c December 2102

How many people reading this have enough to eat every day?

How many own your homes or have a place to which you can go no matter what happens in your life?

How many of you have steady incomes or are self-employed with sufficient income? 

How many of us have at least one person we an call a friend?

How many are afraid of losing what they have?

How many would do just about anything to keep what they have no matter how it impacted others?

These are some of the questions I have been asking myself lately. As some of you know, I am in a time of income uncertainty. I could find myself in fairly dire straits should I not find work. 

This has raised questions in me with respect to privileged humanity's state of fear in the early 21st century. The privileged in North America and in financially and politically stable nations around the globe have enjoyed a great deal of breathing room and financial comfort for some time; however, there appears to be a change afoot. the earth is moving below peoples' feet and they are holding on to what they have for dear life as the shaking begins and possessions start to topple. 

A certain political clown in a nearby nation to me is causing said nation to lose its status as world political leader as it swirls the drain as some terrible cosmic joke that it created for itself. This will have a massive global impact. "Curiouser and curiouser" - to quote Lewis Carroll. 

Individually, for some of us, our situation is tenuous and we hold ourselves there through fear of loss, by being fear-full. Politics and news drive us to maintain this through their fear-mongering and conjuring of images and words that drive us into passive fear and a desire to follow, to keep, to hold what we have known....

What if the ways we have known are not the best ways? What if they are not the most sustainable ways? What if it is one giant dog and pony show that fictionalizes our true well-being into a fortress of "Work, pay and rest." Not so very long ago our work was entirely for ourselves. pre-industrial revolution, we created that which we required and desired to live. WE made our homes, our food, our families ourselves. We skipped the middle man, the boss, the company that pays us to now buy that which we require. Is it easier? Perhaps. But it takes twice as long to get to the result and it takes us away from our families, our children, our Elders. This weird way we have created for ourselves has forced us into working for more, a bottomless pit into which we pour our lives in order to have more, provide more, get more education - to GET AHEAD. Ahead of what? Your neighbour? To get the better job? The more money to buy more stuff? 

Too complicated. We have made our lives way too complicated and it has made us fear-full of losing what we have. It's made us fear-full that we have done the wrong thing. I think we are running even faster just to prove it was the right choice, the best way. Perhaps it is time for me, for all of us, to take a beat. STOP. THINK. REST. Play with your kids or your friends. STOP. Give some of what you have to someone else - as an act of goodness or just to see what it brings up in you.

Does giving make you feel that the person now owes you or was it truly a gift? Does giving away that which you earned and possess make you fear-full? 

Breathe. Let go of the fear a little. I know it's hard. I struggle with it every single minute of every day right now. Look around at the heaven in which we exist. give something back to the Mother Earth that sustains you today. Plant a tree. tend the earth. Pick up trash of the beach. Put some water out for the bees and birds and butterflies. Breathe. Let go of being full of fear. Replace it with being full of joy, love, gratitude. Try it for a minute. 

Love to each of you.

Gillian Cornwall, c. July 16, 2017

Bruce. Munro Trail
Lana'i, Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2012

Sunday, July 09, 2017


Fresh farm produce in exchange for work
Lana'i, Hawaii, c. 2008

Food. Sustenance. It is the fuel for our bodies, our minds and, yes, I believe, our souls. They call it soul food for a reason, right? So, why does food cause so many people so much trouble?

First, I want to acknowledge the biggest problem around the world with respect to food: hunger. Millions of people around the world, from the richest countries to the poorest, experience hunger. In Canada, there are many poverty stricken families with insufficient income to provide food for their children and themselves. There are places around the world that suffer from this appalling and unnecessary condition. I do believe that there is enough for everyone, but some people are just too greedy and selfish to share what they have while wasting enough in a year to feed a family of four. We all need to consider this and choose how we move forward.

Secondly, I acknowledge that these are just my thoughts - I'm no food expert and I know that millions of people suffer with disordered eating and I have only a cursory understanding of the path the people who suffer with eating walk. I send each of you love on your journeys.

I love food. I love to eat. Often, I have loved to eat too much of foods which taste delicious, but are silent killers. They get in with us on their good looks and charm and then start tearing us down from the inside out. I don't have to tell you what they are. I don't need to set up a mug shot of the villainous french fry and decry its offenses. I am quite certain we are all aware of this. 

A year ago, I had a wee health scare, enough to make me really stop and think ...again - because I have been here before. What is my relationship with that which I put into this incredible, hard-working machine I call my body? What is my relationship with my food, my sustenance? 

I want to talk about the concept of treats. Through the passage of time and the industrial revolution, treats have become processed foods: chocolate bars, chips, candy, ice cream, cup cakes and, in my case, boozy treats. All of these are delicious to the taste buds, but can be hard as heck on our machines, our bodies, particularly in excess and particularly for those of us with addictive personalities (usually folks who have suffered and need self-soothing). Read Dr. Gabor Mate! Back in the day, a treat might have been an exotic fruit - a banana or an orange - sweet and delicious, expensive and rare. 

As a result of my scare, I chose to cut out most of the stuff that will cause me pain: dairy, coffee, chocolate and all unhealthy fats. It's not been so bad and, yes, I'll still have a drink now and then but nothing excessive. I have found the change to be quite good so far - particularly if I pack my own lunches for work and I am not forced to eat the quick and easy foods presented at my workplace. I am not counting calories, but lose weight when I stick to it and add in some exercise - mostly sustained, brisk walks. I am changing my perspective to look at the natural bounty of the earth as the treats and the rest as junk that will do me harm.

I think a huge part of my relationship with food is indicative of my relationship with my body. I am overweight. I know this to be true. My knees and back hurt more because I am carrying around about 30 to 40 pounds on top of my optimum weight and it is causing me pain and discomfort. I do not enjoy pain; therefore, I am choosing to make a change because I want to have less pain and less pain will make me happier. 

I don't deny that there is also an aspect of my physical appearance that excites me about losing weight. I am not proud of it but I want to wear different clothes than I can wear now and I am not comfortable wearing them with my current body size - not necessarily because of how they look (although I think that is part of it), but because they are uncomfortable for me in this current iteration of myself. 

It's very hard to approach it without feeling like I have failed myself somehow or that my body, injuries, health issues and menopause have betrayed me, but I acknowledge that I have been more in my head for the past five years or so than I have been in my body. My mind is sharp. I have worked through a great deal of my life's mental traumas and finished the first draft of my novel, but I forgot to bring my body along for the journey in the course of it all. I am fortunate to have supportive people in my life who will always accept and love every iteration of my physical, emotional and spiritual self. It's been a long and winding road! 

I have gone from being an incredible athlete - able to surf, swim over two kilometres, run 5 kilometres and lift epic amounts of weight to someone who now sounds like my dad used to when he was getting out of his chair and I feel like it is way too soon for me to get there. I can do better and I can do it for me. I can do it because I want to be independent and strong and able and well. I want to be grateful to this physical temple that has carried me through all that my life has brought over 54 years even though, sometimes, I have treated it like "the temple of doom!"

Awareness. For me, that is where I have started again and, with great effort on my part, without judgement of how I got here. I am doing my best and every day that looks different. I am who I am. I have done well at surviving and, at times I have thrived, despite "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune..."

I often speak in my blog about kindness and acceptance. Let us not forget that this can, and perhaps must, start with ourselves. Let us treat ourselves to our own well-being. Let the treat be wellness. Let the self-soothing behaviours be done with love. In fact, perhaps we can make the self-soothing behaviours be self-love. You are worthy. You are perfect on your path. 

I don't need a brownie to comfort me. I need to know that I am worthy, that I am loved - firstly by me and then by others. I need to remember that I am whole without another person to tell me I am. I am strong. My wellness counts on it and this body of mine deserves my best efforts as a thank you for all it has done and continues to do for me. Really, It is our bodies that are our unconditional lovers of our essence. They do their best for us always. They stand by us with their every last piece of energy. They carry our souls through this life selflessly and, at times, at the expense of their own infrastructure. 

I hope this makes sense. It is starting to, for me, and I am grateful to my body for keeping going and staying with me through all the times I have ignored and mistreated her. It's time for me to take care of my body as it has taken care of me for so long. Our bodies are our mothers to our souls. Let us treat them well for they have given us life and carried us through our greatest pleasures and difficulties. 

Today, say thank you to your body with some healthy fuel. Say thank you to mother earth for providing that fuel and give back to her. Be grateful for what you have and work together, in love, for the collective wellness of the universal energy of which we are all a part. 

For all of those with insufficient means, I will do what I can to help as I hope everyone who reads this will. We must think of one another and serve one another. There is enough if we all share. If one is suffering, we all suffer. Let's work together to end the suffering.

The World Food Programme is part of the United Nations system and is voluntarily funded. There are many other ways to share what you have with others, including food banks, for immediate aid, and local meal programmes that always need support. Here is a list of some of the options in Victoria, BC:

For great reads on wellness and healthy eating, check out April Danann's Blog

Gillian Cornwall, re-posted July 9, 0217
Original post, c. July 17, 2016

Banana Trees, Lana'i, Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2008

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Land Tenure

Somerset, UK
Gillian Cornwall, c. September, 2015

FACT: No one owns anything, most particularly, the earth. No one owns land. The best you can be is her caretaker and, if you are gifted with this role, the mother may support you in return. 

It is interesting to review the term, land tenure etymologically. When we consider the French word tenir, meaning to hold, that, in itself, suggests more the role of caretaker than owner. Personally, I see the earth and all life as having the same rights as those we have fought for as humans. I believe that all living things are inherently entitled to the same rights of autonomy. 

If you attempt to own Mother Earth, you take from her - you take from her inherent perfection. It is not wise to mess with nature. Humanity has lost its relationship with its own instinctual capacity, with nature. We fail over and over again because of our greed. We take. We hold too tightly. 

I don't condone borders, land ownership and wars over land and resource - there can be no winner in these situations and the biggest loser is always the earth herself. Why do we feel this need to demarcate territory, lines on the sand, temporary streaks of our own blood that seep into the surface and poison her perfection. 

Stop. Step back. Acknowledge your fears of loss and let go. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. July 2, 2017

Northeast England
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

Sunday, June 25, 2017

It's All Good

On the way to Somerton, UK
c. Gillian Cornwall, September, 2015

"It's all good." Is it all good?

How many times do we hear that phrase bantered around? If someone tells us they are sorry they were late, sorry they hurt our feelings, often we assume the best and say, "Don't worry; it's all good." Sometimes, the actions of others impact us and we feel worthless, saddened and invalidated.

How do we integrate the hard stuff of life: pain, suffering, heartache, trauma, sickness and loss into the "it's all good" mode of thinking?

Maybe we can't. Loss is loss. Feeling sh*t is just that.

The thing is, we are created with the full suite of emotional response. Why? Quite simply, it is because we are made to experience the entire suite of experiences, from love to loss, pleasure to pain, in sickness and in health, blah, blah, blah, as the vows go...

It interests me to note that when I am having trouble and I express it, whatever kind of trouble it may be, some folks are hell bent at looking at the bright side before acknowledging the hurt, pain or suffering. Perhaps it is just too difficult to see, too difficult to acknowledge and accept that you are hurting without wanting to "do something" about it. Anger, fear, sorrow - often thought of as "negative" emotions - are simply the flip side experience of their "positive" counterparts: love, joy, comfort and so on.

Personally, I find that it is such an honest and heartfelt experience of truth when someone tells me how they REALLY are and I don't try to fix it. I think it is important to be present and to actively listen and accept a person with all of their emotions - that is humanity. To blanket suffering with platitudes and a "glass half full" mentality is not a panacea for pain.

We needn't get into the crevasse with someone when they are down, nor do we need to tell them that they will have an awesome story to tell if they live through it ....while they are stuck in there and terrified and we are up top eating a sandwich.

I find what is most helpful for me is finding a willing ear, acceptance that I have fallen, acknowledgement that I am hurt and a light shining - maybe helpful comments and pointing to good, solid footholds to guide me out - for what good is the person that simply jumps in with you and says, "I have no way of really helping but, at least we're in here together!"

I need to work on my empathy because I've joined too many people in the crevasse over the years and it has made me extra wary of loaning a hand and getting pulled in. I think of what they tell you in water rescue when someone is drowning: you need to be able to keep yourself from being pulled under. Perhaps just throwing a flotation device and saying "See you on shore!" is a bit of the opposite extreme... Like everyone, I'm a work in progress.

Additionally, I may need to keep my truth to myself a bit more instead of relentlessly sharing every single thing I perceive to be true. Often people will say they don't mind, and they may believe it, but I suppose spewing your truth like a geyser, as regularly and magnificently as Old Faithful, may be a bit overwhelming for those who are near and dear.

If I were to wrap this post up in one sentence: "It's okay to feel bad and not pretend you feel good."

...And because I can never do anything in just one sentence, it's also okay to take a break from feeling bad and go try to enjoy yourself for awhile. It sets things on their heads and can give us new perspectives.

You needn't fake it til you make it. Be you. Trust yourself. You are perfect on your path. Just keep walking, one step at a time and allow people to light the way for you when the darkness comes. Maybe other folks can't tell you exactly where you should be going, but they can offer a smile, a light or a helping hand.

So, what does it mean? "It's all good." For me, it means all of your feelings, all of your emotions, are good - when you let them help you down your own particular path to enlightenment and peace with an open and loving heart, replete with self-acceptance and respect for the path of another.

As always, let's walk our paths, side by side, for as long as it is good for each of us, with good hearts and good intent.

With love.

-Gillian Cornwall, re-posted June 25, 2017
Original copyright, July 3, 2016

The Northeast Coast of England
c.Gillian Cornwall, September 2015

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Pride - as opposed to shame or social stigma. We took the word and marched with it. 

Pride. It's not about tolerance. No-one wants to be tolerated. It's like putting up with something irritating or bad. 

I don't want to be tolerated. I want to be celebrated. Every soul on this earth, all living things can be celebrated - even for one thing, even for potential. From the smallest of creatures to those of the grandest stature, we can find commonalities and differences. Sure - we all just want to live, but let's make that simply the starting point rather than the final goal. 

My culture, my people, have invaded just about every nation in the world in an effort to make other people "like us" because we believed we had it all going on and it would just be much easier if everyone behaved like us.If everyone had to look different then at least we could behave similarly - follow the same religious principles, same political structure and the same lust for land and what we perceived to be "riches." How could one tiny island of people contain so much ego - or was it fear? I'm not proud of that. All that being said, we British have done some pretty cool stuff over time as well and when I go back to that land of my ancestors I feel a different connection to the land of my people. I'm not sure it's national pride, but it is definitely a sense of connection to my roots. 

It's not that I'm particularly "proud" of my sexual identity either. In fact, decades of abuse, beatings, marginalization and oppression have made me kind of self-phobic / homophobic. I am eroded and worn by the experience of trying to be myself and love whom I choose. It has been a lifetime fight and I am worn thin, but for all you right-wing, fundamentalist haters out there, don't think this means you have won. It only means you are bullies. I know who I am. I am proud of surviving and, at times, thriving, of moving the cause forward for those younger folks who have followed me with what I hope to be an easier path. I am proud of the brave souls who ploughed a path before me when it was still illegal to be gay in Canada.

I do worry that all the changed laws have only created a veiled acceptance and the same repugnance for those who identify as lesbian is only held under a blanket of law. I worry that the hate is more insidious. People are aware that it is illegal to commit acts of hate and discrimination so they find ways around it - excuses for taking away your employment, for not serving you well in a store, for excluding you. I know I have had jobs kept from me and taken from me because of people's perceptions and guesses about my identity. 

I know things have changed and the battles have been well-fought by centuries of people who had to find their way around the hate to the time of Stonewall and the people who stood their ground publicly and said no. I remember when it was a PRIDE march rather than a parade - when you took your life and career in your hands by making that walk. Let us not forget the millions of lesbians and gays around the world who remain imprisoned under a death sentence because of who they choose to love. There are more than seventy-six countries where it is illegal to be gay. There are ten countries where it remains punishable by death.

It is time for me to pull back from the fight somewhat. The battle scars have begun a ceaseless ache in my being and the costs keep going up. It seems the more honest I have been with what I have faced and continue to face, the greater the chicanery and subterfuge used to perpetuate hate and discrimination. So, it is time for me to lay down my sword (aka flag) for the time being and hope that it is picked up by anyone and everyone who is appalled by fear and the hate it creates. 

It's not that I am climbing back into the closet, far from it. I am making way for younger and stronger warriors to lead the charge. The whole battle analogy is weird anyway as I haven't ever raised a hand to defend who I am, with the exception of the instances in the early days where I had to defend myself against the physical blows and sexual assaults instigated by men who thought it was their job to show me what I was supposed to be like as a "real" woman. They are abusers and criminals against love and peace. 

I am a warrior, a survivor, a lover and a philosopher. I am a healer and a teacher, a spiritual guide and a storyteller. I am your daughter, your mother, your sister and your wife. I am a human animal just as you and deserving of peace, kindness and love. I give these things to myself and your hate will never finish me. Of these things, I am proud. I am proud of my physical womanhood. I have no need for the social construct you call gender for that is only a political lie to keep women down. I am a free soul, a superhero of love and of all the things I wonder in the world, it's "Why the heck are you so afraid of me?" 

May your PRIDE come from the knowledge of the worth of your life as it relates to how you value all life, how you raise each other up and celebrate one another for your beautiful uniqueness and difference, without the need to push another down to do so. 

In loving memory of every soul who has been murdered, jailed, beaten, outcast, tortured for who they are. In other words, this is dedicated to every lesbian and gay human throughout time. 

As always, thanks for reading. 

Gillian Cornwall, edited re-post, June 18, 2017
Original post, c. July 10, 2016

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Art of Language

Fog in English Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2009 

Sarcasm: Noun. The use of irony to mock or convey contempt. 
More on this word from wikipedia

Irony: Noun. The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. 
More on this word from wikipedia

While recognized as literary tools, perhaps these could be known as massive bombshells of misunderstanding. 

This is what I am thinking. One has to be an extraordinary communicator in order to know where and when to pepper one's speech with irony. I have seen it used perfectly in poetry, fiction and dramatic writing; however, it is a rare phenomenon to experience its effectiveness in oral communication. In fact, personally, I have no use for sarcasm and find I only use it when backed into a corner and resort to it in retaliation. I always feel disappointed in myself afterwards. 

When used in workplace communications or any relationships where there is an imbalance of perceived power, the results can be disastrous. Consider when and how to use these tools - learn about them. Have you walked away from conversations wondering why someone would say something so unkind to you, only to find out years later, that somehow they were using a failed attempt at irony or sarcasm, alleging an absence of harmful intent? For in truth, all comedy and irony bears a weight of truth and is often used out of fear of the results of straightforward, clear communication.

In our world, language is changing rapidly, particularly with the use of technology. The art of written and spoken communication is in continuous flux. Perhaps this speed and offhandedness with which we can communicate might give us more pause to consider that which we say in advance of blurting. I am trying, though sometimes failing, to use clear and kind communication rather than irony and definitely in place of sarcasm. It isn't always easy but I want to ensure that people aren't walking away from me hurt or confused by a glib, thoughtless remark I have made.

Awareness. Intention. Kindness. Clarity. Let these words guide our path of communication. Do not let fear dictate our words and result in bitter strikes. Indeed, the pen is mightier than the sword but can wound as effectively. 

I suppose what is rather silly here is that I am simply saying something most of our parents taught us when we first formulated speech, "Think before you speak."

I wish you all a beautiful week filled with joyous, kind interactions that ripple out across the world. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

-Gillian Cornwall, June 11, 2017
Original post date, July 14, 2013

Gillian Cornwall, c. 2009

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Despondency Epidemic

Brighton Pier, England
Gillian Cornwall, c. October, 2015

Is there such a thing as a despondency epidemic? I feel like there is. 

This BBC report by David Robson from July 22, 2016 on the possible causes and impacts of exhaustion and burnout is not only something which I have experienced on and off since the 1990s as I struggle to survive in a world rocketing forward while I attempt to maintain my work ethic and values in a world chock-a-block with discrimination and hate.  

This quotation from the article mentions some of the effects of exhaustion, Including temporary blindness, that, until reading this I had not seen nor heard outside of my own experience. 

"We know that emotional distress can increase inflammation and exacerbate pain, for instance – and in some cases it can even bring about seizures and blindness. “It’s really hard to say that an illness is purely physical, or purely mental, because often it is both at the same time,” Schaffner says. In this light, it’s not surprising that our circumstances could cloud our minds and nearly paralyse the body with lethargy. And this fact should in no way suggest the symptoms are imaginary or made up – they may be just as ‘real’ as the fever that comes with flu."

This inexplicable temporary blindness happened to me after I moved to Salt Spring Island (ironically to get away from the pace and expectations of a busy city life) and landed up running a five acre farm with horses, chickens, sheep and a 40 foot by 80 foot garden in order to have "free" housing while also working full time at a local pub in the kitchen. Six days a week I arose at 5 am to care for the animals and get to work on time. I returned home from the pub by 5 or 6 pm and finished caring for the animals, chopping and hauling firewood and maintaining the farm by 10 pm. After several months of 5 hours, or less, sleep per night, the grey-out of my vision actually happened  while driving a Land Cruiser to work one morning. Terrifying. I could not see the road in front of me and had no idea how I would stop or pull over. I had to use the sound of the gravel on the shoulder to guide me, hoping I wouldn't strike anyone as I honked and slowed my speed sufficiently to pull over. Once I stopped, thankfully without further incident, I sat in the vehicle, rubbing my eyes and hoping I would regain my vision. I did manage to clear my sight sufficiently to continue to work and park my car. Once parked, I took myself, on foot, back up the hill to the hospital after trying to rinse my eyes and resolve the problem. I was sent to the eye specialist, who came back with no explanation and then off to my GP who was, thankfully, quick to determine the problem and sent me home to sleep for a week with no work. This was before the Internet and email era which I think has made things worse as we are physically unable to maintain the pace of productivity. 

As I look at a world where youth are engaging in terror attacks and the majority of our energy goes into social media, email and text response to maintain community - not necessarily a bad thing but is it actually effecting positive change? 

The Oxford Dictionary definition of despondency (linked above), states: Low spirits from loss of hope or courage; dejection.

I feel as though there is such a greater level of despondency in humanity and not just in our youth. What happens to society when we lose hope or courage? What actions, if any, do we take as a society when we see people losing faith in themselves and their fellow humans? How do we step away from the ping of the social media notifications and email and cell phone texts? How do we set the boundaries that allow us our much needed down time? 

How do we step away from our technological prisons? How do we break away from the heart attack lifestyle of the technological hamster wheel? Where is our light and our connection? How do we gain belief that we will not fail at our jobs if we step away - completely - to go home at a reasonable time, to go outside and play with friends or family, to share with our live, in person communities? 

I feel wrung out. I feel despondent. I am exhausted from working 10 hours a day because I do not know how to NOT do a great job. I was raised to perform and that if you gave all you could, you would be recognized and lifted up for your efforts but it does not seem to the way of the world anymore. Perhaps I am becoming a dinosaur but I really don't think so. I think my values still matter but I also believe we need to put measures in place in our work and personal lives that ensure downtime, limits on expectations of others and regaining a righteousness in rest. 

I am lonely. I never see people except at work. For most of my life I have been healing the broken spirit of the abused child and young woman. Society has done little to nothing to offer apology or restitution to the LGBT community for the absence of human rights many of us experienced throughout our lives. We are still not considered worthy of the respect that was taken. Our Indigenous communities are just beginning to receive apologies and restorative measures. There is nothing for LGBT. Sure, laws have changed, blah, blah, blah but that does not alleviate the damage done and I see hate on an increase to all marginalized peoples again because we are not diligent in our love and care as a species. 

All of this feeds the despondency epidemic and the drain of spirit, mind and body. I still see massive dysfunction in the lesbian community of my era because of the history of pain and suffering - so much so that I can barely stand to be within it. This means I am without community. Sometimes I am lonely because I am alone by choice. 

I wish I could tell you I have solutions. I don't. I can only share my meagre thoughts here, my truth and hope that sharing these truths may make someone else feel that they are not alone. I do see hope in the young children of my friends. I see them outside, playing, with their loving hearts, as much or more than with their faces to devices and I sure hope they keep that balance as they grow into teens and adults. 

I am not anti-tech, obviously, I'm sitting here every Sunday blogging. I just hope that we can all choose to seek balance and community in the world outside of the tech tools. I hope we can find ways to care for one another, without fear, with hope and care. This is what I see as the medicine for the despondency epidemic. Reach out to one another - even if you can only manage a smile to a stranger. It will ripple out and change the world.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. June 4, 2017

Reading in the Sun - Brighton Pier, England
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

Sunday, May 28, 2017

We Are One

Plumeria, Lana'i, Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

At the risk of going all Game of Thrones on you, let's talk about being the faceless human or actually, the downside of individual identity - because I am really starting to question how it serves the one or the many.

Now, to qualify a little bit: Sure, it's just grand to be unique but I am considering that it is only great to be unique if we lift one another up in our difference and pull all those beautiful, unique, colourful threads together to make strong cloth. Right now, this does not appear to be humanity's modus operandi. We hold our difference to us as commodity and value and a reason to have something no one else can have. We use our difference to remain unique and separate. We use our difference because it has cost us to be different in the past and it owes us so we keep it close. Our difference has caused fear, hate and violence from others and we want restitution. 

Some of us strike back when we are stronger. We say, "Yes, I'm different and proud and taking back what's mine!" Sometimes, in doing so, we hurt and negate others who may have hurt us in the past or are the ones responsible for our past hurts. I am not judging this, merely exploring it, for myself - because I am no different than anyone else in my experience of pain and suffering and separation because of difference and my desire to be be see, heard and to know that what I feel means something to someone other than me.

I'm not saying we are all approaching this in the best or the worst way. Just chatting, folks. Just chatting and wondering when and how we can heal from harms done? When will we be well enough to move forward together? How does that happen? Does it take leaders of spiritual doctrines: the dalai lama, pope, archbishop or the like to give credence to the idea of solidarity? Hm, no, I don't think so. It seems to me that we are still putting some folks on the inside and some on the outside through religious doctrine and power structures. 

Is it the nature of all living things to set boundaries and separations for survival? Do other mammals ostracize and separate others for their difference? I know some vie for authority within their groupings to be head wolf, gorilla, lion and so on. Are we really just the same but with opposable thumbs and clothes? 

Humanity, with our prescription to being the top of the food chain and able to reason and be better than the rest, continues to divide and separate, ostracize and take more than we give, clinging to what we have, careless of the impact on the whole. In our fear, we cling to our blanket of protection - whatever that is to us - and pull it from the body of the perfect sleeping Mother that is the rest of the world, leaving her exposed, vulnerable, sick and dying. 

We suck. We are greedy and fearful and endlessly hungry. We divide, separate and conquer. Can we learn? Can we do it soon enough? We better start trying because our Mother is sick, cold and there is little medicine left to bring her back because we have taken all the comfort for ourselves, hungry little locusts that we are. 

Perhaps our goal is actually to self-destruct, eradicate ourselves from the planet as a weed, so the mother can go on doing what she does well without us as the tick on her neck. We are Earth's bad rash, naught but a fever soon forgotten in the big scheme of things. It's a shame that we are flawed with our all-consuming need to take and keep that which could be so easily shared. 

All I can do is think and act in a way that reduces my consumption. I can try to help other living things; try not to be so self-focused. I can give equal to that which I receive - at the very least. I can do better. We can all do better. We can start by breathing deeply and releasing our fear on the exhale. Smile ...and walk in peace. 

Who are you? Look into the eyes of another; you will find yourself there. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. May 28, 2017

Coconut Palms, Lana'i, Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rock to Sand

The Beach at Hulopoe, Lana'i Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

I was born a rock, projected into this world, whole, a unity of DNA from all of those who have passed before me in the paternal lines of Cornwall and the maternal lines of Jay. I am searching back through these lines, searching for the end of the strand, knowing it lands in the cradle of the world from whence each one of us has risen at the dawn of humanity. 

I was born a rock and at 55 I am eroded to sand, but sand is a beach and everyone loves a beach, right? Tell me it's true, please? I search for worth amidst the grains remaining as I am gradually washed back to the mother ocean, wave after wave, pulling me home. 

Cornwall, Kernow - likely my father's people arose from here, as many of that name have done. I am drawn to the shores of this southwest peninsula of England. A place that has held its own culture and nationhood in its soul since first inhabited in the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods. I am spending time learning the language and the ways of the people to gain a better understanding of that which is likely the birthplace of the paternal side of my family. 

Jay, the bird, in English etymology, and "joyous" from the French "gai" or Roman "gaius." My mother's side of the family hails far back in England and, before that, French. It is much harder to trace the maternal line as men have held power and, in their self-importance, power over record, for ...well, forever I suppose - at least in Western culture. 

As the beach, how does one remain strong? How does one stay strong when the rock is hollowed out and the last of us crumbles to join the rest of the sand? Is there strength in simply letting go? Is there strength and hope in knowing that each grain of sand is unique and each piece of us is unique? Together, we stretch out to the mother ocean united as a place between land and sea. Like I describe myself always, I am a conduit, a bridge, between people, places, and times. A conduit is not an easy thing to be because one is not seen so easily when broken down to sand or stretched between this and that. One is a road rather than a destination and often forgotten when the journey ends. 

I am something. You may not remember me, but I have been here and remain, like the via of Roman times, the scar of me remains, the lines in the landscape and long after you have passed along me or through me, I remain. I am the journey you have made and the place between places. I am Kernow, kernou. I am Jay, duGai. I am one with the mother and a strand in the colourful blanket of humanity - strong, unique, worn, fragile. I am the sand beneath your feet when you stare out to sea, on the edge between land and water, masculine and feminine, here and not here. I am.

Meur ras.

Vyaj salow!

-Gillian Cornwall, c. May 21, 2017
Dedicated to my friend, Nadita Beauchamp
Thanks for inspiring me, for seeing me and for lifting me up

St. Ives, Cornwall (Kernow)
Photo by: Sheila Jeffries (author extraordinaire)
(used with previous written permission) 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers Day

Me and my mum, circa, 1966/67
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Photo by: Brian F. Cornwall

Mothers. Everyone has at least one in their lifetime. As far as I am concerned, we all have a minimum (mini-mum?) of two:

1. The mother who physically birthed us into being and
2. The great Mother Earth who has birthed everything and all of us and sustains us through the abuse she suffers at the hands of her human children. 

Sadly, many mothers share the experience of Mother Earth in the raising of their children. 

Women, strong, beautiful, life-sustaining women. Megan Murphy speaks so eloquently on who we are as women:

Women all have capacity to be mothers. Many of us have acted in a mothering role to young people who were not of our wombs but are no less of our hearts. Many women have children who have walked away from them and there are mothers who have turned away from their offspring. There is pain in these stories and the pain itself is testament to love or a desire to be loved. 

Seek inside yourself. Seek by walking in the forests and by the waters of the great Mother Earth for there is always love for you in these places. The Great Mother will never turn away from you unless you completely ignore her needs and do not care for her at all so that she herself no longer exists - while she exists, so you have life.

Love all of your mothers, for the very idea of their existence implicates your existence. Be thankful to your mothers for the gifts they have brought you and the space they have created for you to love and prosper. Be grateful for the sacrifices mothers have made for you and think of ways, beyond this day, that you can give back - even if that means only walking a good path and living a good life to show you are grateful for the massive gift of life you have been given. 

We will all let each other down at times for we have expectations and that is what creates opportunity for disappointment. For those of us who were hurt as children, let your hurt out now you are grown. Find a kind way to put it down, look at it for what it was and is now and then do your level best to move on without it. 

You may carry the scars of your past as any warrior does, but do not let them define you as ugly or beautiful for they are our stories, written on our skin, in our hearts and on our faces. Be proud that you remain and that you remember how to turn your face to the sun, to feel her heat and light. Feel the love of Mother Earth rise up through the dirt below your feet and through you as a fresh mountain spring, an endless source of light and healing energy. You needn't fear anymore that there is not enough love for you as long as you take time to feel this energy flowing through you.

Each of us was made as a conduit for universal love, light and well-being, so breathe, smile and let go with gratitude for the life our mothers have given us and continue to give us every day.

Gillian Cornwall, c. May 14, 2017

Eunice Audrey Jay - my mum
Photographer unknown - circa 1944?

Sunday, May 07, 2017

The Life Compassionate

A Path to Knowledge - University of Victoria
Gillian Cornwall c. 2013

I am breathing life into this article from May 2015 because I am struggling right now and I very much know what it feels like to wonder why some people lack compassion and, I think, if I am struggling, others must be as well. This is for you and for me. I am thinking of you and holding on, letting go and doing my best ...and that is plenty!

What does it mean to be compassionate? The Oxford definition tells us this:
Adjective: "Feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others."

In particular, what I am thinking about today is, how do we become or remain compassionate in the face of disappointment or hurt? ...and, even as I type this, I remember my lessons from Don Miguel RuizThe Four Agreements:
  1. Be impeccable with your words
  2. Don't take anything personally
  3. Don't make assumptions
  4. Do your best.
In this, I have my answer to the question above. We are emotionally hurt when we take the actions of others personally and when we make assumptions with respect to the intent of another. Oh, I know, so much easier said than done, right? ...but, that is where it gets interesting because all we can do is:
  • Be impeccable with our words and
  • Do our best.
Consider, when you first feel hurt by the actions of another:
  • Where is this person on their own path to awareness and enlightenment?
  • Would this person intentionally hurt me?
  • Am I able to not make assumptions and ask them about the things which have caused me hurt?
  • What do I need to do for myself in order to create a healthy path towards my own well-being and the well-being of the world that will act as a counter-balance to violent behaviour or behaviour lacking compassion?
When we go to, and stay in, our initial feelings of hurt, we perpetuate a path that ultimately lacks resolution and relinquishes personal power:

"Why is Bob so inconsiderate? Why would he do this to me?" 

We concede our power in these statements and assume that Bob set out to do us harm. Certainly, this may be the case, but can Bob actually do us harm if we do not accept his actions as such? Why would Bob do this to us? Almost every time I have investigated and excavated this question, I have come to the same root:

Those of you who have read my blog before are probably fed up to the teeth with this one:
Everything we do as humans is motivated by either love or fear. 

Let us do our best to choose love in our actions: Love for each other and love for ourselves. 

Thank you to everyone in my life that I have encountered on my daily path in Victoria, BC and around the world, through the gift of inter-connectivity and social media, for teaching me and giving me room to learn these lessons. Thank you for not holding me to a standard of perfection that I do not even understand. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your compassion. I will try to honour your love and teachings by the path I walk and the legacy I hope to leave in the hearts of my fellow beings. 

Wishing you each a beautiful and peaceful week. 

Please remember, if someone is hurting you and you do feel stuck and alone, there are people and resources to help. These are a few:

In the moment: Call Emergency Services. In North America, call: 911 Please check the number in your part of the world and commit it to memory. Get out of the immediate environment in which the hurt is happening and seek safety and asylum.

Take Action / Follow up: Seek services to help keep you safe and set you on a happier, safer path:

These are just a very few and I am not affiliated with these providers. Even if all is well in your world, take some time to familiarize yourself with resources in your area and online in order to be ready to help yourself or another should you ever find yourself in that position. Also, many organizations lack regular, base funding and can use whatever resources you can help provide. Its all part of the life compassionate. 

Please feel free to add your local organizations in the comments portion of the blog to help others. 

-Gillian Cornwall, May 7, 2017
Originally Posted, c. May 31, 2015

Balance and Peace
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2013