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:
fear

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 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Belonging

Swimming Alone, starring Gumby
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2010

I don't think there is a living soul who does not struggle with a sense of belonging at some time. 

The interesting thing with the concept of belonging is that, by its very nature, it creates a barrier - an inside and outside. There is a concept of belonging within each of our individual relationships, be they familial, friendships, lovers, sports or work teams and political affiliation. 

Unfortunately, all too often, we attach our own sense of value to our belonging within these relationships. Are we worthy? Why aren't we worthy? Why aren't we good enough? Why isn't another person good enough to belong?

What if we re-framed our attachment to others in terms of it having nothing to do with us - particularly in love relationship or team? This is where I remind us of The Four Agreements according to Don Miguel Ruiz:

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don't take anything personally.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Do your best. 

I have considered myself an outsider in all sorts of relationships and, until recently, I have put myself to blame as the cause of this. Now, I view things differently.

Perhaps I am exceptional, aka: outside the group. Perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps not fitting means that I am an explorer beyond the norm. Perhaps I have turned my focus to a different concept of belonging: that is with a universal perspective rather than a divisive perspective. I am of the world. I am one with all. My value is inconsequential. I am here. I am doing my best. I am present with each breath and gentle step on the Mother Earth. 

I will fail myself and others on days when I am hurt and petulant. I will learn, forgive myself  and keep going. 

I belong through my awareness of the perfection of Mother Earth and all that is beyond her, all of the ancestors throughout time. I am in the stream and flowing with her. Listen. Love Learn. Give. This is sufficient.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. April 30, 2017

Maui Sunset
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2014

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Signs of Life

 Gore Park, Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

Signs of life
in every sense -
to hear, to see,
to feel and taste
- the scent upon 
the ocean breeze

 Gore Park, Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

the beating heart
in the earth
below our feet

Gore Park, Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

she pushes love
through loamy skin
as camas and as clover born 

Gore Park, Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

for bees to buzz
and propagate the species

Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

each wave upon 
the pebbled shores
is yours

 Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

your blood
coursing and caressing

Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

through Spring,
for life, life
in every bird song

 Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

a call to the duty 
of your life,

Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

through space,
through time
- from your heart
to mine

-Gillian Cornwall, re-post: April 23, 2017
Originally posted: c. April 26, 2015

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter

An Easter Bouquet
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 2015

Beliefs - we all have them. Our collective human history is filled with them. We base our culture and our systems on them. In some ways, they are the building blocks of our lives. They are held from perspectives - our own, that of another or our own translation of that of another.

A timely example: There is a bunny and he has a basket of eggs, sometimes chicken, sometimes chocolate, and he hides them on the Easter weekend for children to go out and discover. From this, I surmise that he can walk or hop on his hind legs. This is cool. My understanding is children get the eggs if they have been good, similar to Christmas presents. Here is some Wikipedian history of the Easter Bunny

It is Easter weekend in the Christian faith. It is Passover in the Jewish faith. Later this month it is Ridvan for those of the Baha'i faith. There is a great deal of belief, faith and wonder in humanity. I like that. I like the variety of our ways of being and I can find peaceful joy in our differences. 

"Peaceful joy in our differences" ...so why are there wars fought over who has it all right? Do we need so desperately to believe our way is the right way, the only way? I feel that my greatest knowing comes through listening and learning and making informed decisions as I walk my path. The way of knowing is not a still pond but a flowing river. My beliefs have changed over the years and I have not felt the need to hold fast to one way. I do not need a head nod from another, an " I agree with you. We believe the same thing." 

Does it feel good to share belief with another? Absolutely. Whether it is spiritual, or about the benefits of the practice of Qigong or the foods I eat, I love it when I find another who likes what I like. It gives one a sense of camaraderie and belonging; however, it is through difference that I learn and grow. I am not a stagnant being. I am amorphous and in motion. I want to challenge my beliefs which are largely based on those of my culture, my people, my history and the stories I have been told. 

I am amazed when people are adamant with me that I have to do Yoga - even after I explain that it does not feel good to me. I have been to a number of classes and it just doesn't suit my body. In fact, it hurts. On the other hand, Qigong strengthens me and provides a great sense of well-being. It works for me. I am delighted for the people who have found what they need through Yoga and I'm glad I had the opportunities to try it, but why would I continue if it is not for me? Is it to make others feel that they are right in their choice? Of course they are; they have found that which works for them, as have I. Neither activity hurts nor diminishes the other; they are just different. Can it not be this way with all difference? Can we not just listen, explore and celebrate one another with an absence of harm? I am probably over-simplifying, but I would love it if we could live and let live. 

I wish you each kindness, respect, peace, love, compassion and joy, no matter your beliefs and choices. Let us all try to care for one another and our planet. 

-Gillian Cornwall, April 16, 2017
Original post, c. April 5, 2015

 Different Ways of Being - Tulips
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2008

Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Life of Words

The Garden Gate -West Saanich, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

Some days it comes more easily than others, this business of writing. There are days when the pages fill as though the lines of the story are forming queues in my mind, awaiting their turn to travel from my brain down my neck, across my shoulder and down my arm and through my hand where they travel down a river of black ink in my eco-friendly pen and out through the minuscule opening onto the pages of my notebook. Imagine them as workers awaiting the subway at rush hour or as foot passengers, anxiously awaiting the opening of the single lane gate to board the BC ferry to the mainland. They are players on the sideline at the football match: ready, trained and poised to do their part to bring the game to an acceptable result. I'm sure you get the drift. 

Conversely, there are times aplenty when the story plays a game of hide and seek: the words, the plot, the reason is out there, or in here, somewhere, evading my search. Perhaps I wasn't clear about the boundaries for the game and the words have run over hill and dale, escaped across a border for which I do not hold a current passport. Just as easily, there is a chance they are around the next corner, down the hall, giggling under a pile of coats in the hall closet, holding back a sneeze born on a whiff of mothballs and dust. 

This week has held both experiences for me, as is often the case; nonetheless, I will write. I write. I have written. This is my path, my need, my feed, my breath. It is not choice. Whether parading the queue out in orderly fashion or letting it spill out in chaos, whether stumbling over hidden roots, far from home in a forest previously uncharted and unknown as darkness gathers, this is what I do. 

I love it. It is my closest companion and the conduit between me and the world. It is possibility and passion, fear and triumph. It is Peter Pan and Captain Hook, wine and water. It matters to me and I hope you can tell.

I am grateful to you for playing alongside me. Thank you for reading and expressing your thoughts. I hope it brings you something: inspiration, thought or learning. You are integral in this process. Thank you for sharing your time with me here, for walking beside me each week. 

If you have ever wanted to write, I hope you do it. Pick up a pen and scratch the surface. Keep digging - the treasure is there. If you require a nudge or an all-out shove, consider a course offered at a community centre or a school. Pick up one or two of the many books available. I turn to courses and books as often as I can when I need a push back to my desk. Here are a few of the guides that help me reset my bearings:




 Happy reading and writing. Enjoy the journey.

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-Gillian Cornwall, re-posted April 9, 2017
Originally posted, c. April 6, 2014

Russell's Rare Books
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

Sunday, April 02, 2017

A Woman of No Nation

On the way to Stow on the Wold
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

I am a woman with her feet each on two different islands with a continent and an ocean between. I am alone, singular. I belong to no-one and I have few people near. My life lacks an embedded continuity and I have never "fit in." I have rarely had a sense of belonging and now look to it only as a sense of place in the universe, for belonging must mean that there are borders - an inside and an outside. Someone must always be outside and that causes pain.

Being in romantic relationships with women for the majority of my adult life has not always been a fabulous experience. I have been ostracized and harmed by people outside of my relationships and I have felt insufficient from within them. Many women in female / female relationships within my age group suffered harm if they came out at a young age or, by appearance, didn't meet the expectations and demands of the hetero-normative people in their lives - mostly males, though oppressed straight women also became oppressors because of hetero-normative socialization and their fear of repercussion from oppressive males in their lives. In the early days, male-female roles were predominant in lesbian and gay relationships though I never understood why we would buy into the same restrictive gender socializations experienced in heterosexual lifestyle. I used to cringe when people would ask, "Which one of you is the man?" ....seriously. Between all of that and being beaten, sexually assaulted, had work taken away for no reason but my identity, lost promotion for no reason but my identity, and generally considered as "less than" for not being with men and not bearing children has left me, at the very least, tired and worn. I am grateful for where I work now. It is the safest I have ever felt as an adult in the workplace.

I am single these days and I have a greater sense of peace in myself. In relationship, I inevitably feel as though I am letting the person down and I feel less than adequate to both my own and a partner's expectations. These are definitely not blame statements as I take complete responsibility for my choices and my own happiness and misery. I always have been responsible for my own emotions and feelings; however, all the relationships throughout our lives can complicate our personal sense of justice and conflate our sense of wrong-doing. My inability to be a good partner, largely arises from the PTSD I live with as a result of the harm done to me throughout my life. It has very little impact on my work ability but a significant impact on my personal life and my ability to meet the expectations of a partner.

I think I am a good friend though I think my honesty costs me and I have learned, and continue to learn, to temper that honesty with kindness.

Sometimes I feel sad and angry because of the oppression, violence, discrimination and terror I have faced in being a woman who has loved other women ... and, really, simply because I am a woman. It has taken a great deal away from me. A person cannot be violently attacked multiple times and have it not leave a mark.

I think that the painful aspects of my history are, in part, that which has taken away my desire for any kind of sexual identity/orientation. I still get punished for who I am and that harm is actually acknowledged less, because people think everything is all rainbows and lollipops now. The truth is, the haters and oppressors remain; they are just more clever with their oppression because they know that laws have changed out of their favour. They continue to punish others for not being like them, but they make it impossible to prove. So I relinquish the part of me that gets hated - my sexuality - though they will still hate me because they see that I don't want them. I am not gay. I am not straight. I am not, well, anything. I am of no use to them. I suppose I am a threat by the mere fact of my existence. Not awesome.

Many women of my age are considered to be a worthless commodity to men. As we are often no longer objectified as sexual property we are treated as worthless, we are ostracized in the workplace and, sometimes, less malleable than younger employees. Many of us would likely end up cast off to sea on an ice float if they hadn't all melted as a result of corporate greed/climate change. (Funny? ...not funny.)

I suppose some of you may read this and think I am a sad thing. I am not so. More often, I am less sad than I have been in quite some time. I am throwing off some of the burdens and expectations of my youth. Perhaps you think I need counselling - who doesn't? I have had decades of it and will likely continue to do so. If I still had a permanent job, I could afford it.

Perhaps one day I will choose to have some sort of love-like relationship, but I don't need to worry about that right now.

I need to continue to work - hopefully until retirement age - and I will spend my time away from work making art and writing stories and enjoying the companionship of a few friends who bother to keep in touch. I will probably feel a bit lonely at times but who doesn't feel lonely at times, regardless of their relationship status.

Find your peace. Find your joy. Be kind. Speak your truth. Feed your body with clean water and clean food. Be content in each beautiful moment of this gift of life. Try to remember that you are loved and essential to the universal energy of all and that you are a whole, perfect being on each step of your journey. This is what I tell myself. Most days I can get on with it, others just beat me down. Social media is chock-a-block with fictionalized "positivity." The fact is, at times, all of our lives are hard bloody slogging. For those of you who feel this is true, I hope it brings you some solace to know that I see you; I get it and I care. 


Hopefully reading this won't send you into a deeper despair; rather, I hope it lifts you up to know there are others who are finding it brutally hard at times, are saying so and hanging on for the good bits that inevitably come because science and statistics dictate the balance. Later today, I will go outside for a bit of a walk, likely alone, but I'll go. I'll do it because I know it will be beautiful out there. There are blossoms on the trees and wee birds and squirrels busy with Spring. I will pick up a few groceries and walk home. For today, that will bring me joy. I will smile at someone who looks sad or worried and hope that it helps to lift their spirits. That will be enough. You, you are enough. You always have been. 

With love to each of you. 


Gillian Cornwall, c. April 2, 2017

The Heavens
G. Cornwall, c. 2015.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Filling the Space

Into the Light
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

I am posting this again because I know I have gone off the rails again with an inability to balance, to stop, to breathe and to pay attention where attention is due, to this gift of life. 

I eat to fill the space 
that once was filled with a whole me.
I yearn for sleep that lasts
more than 
two 
hours
at
a
time.
The only way to fix me 
is to be me
and the only way
to be me 
is to take the time
to heal me -
to walk the path of wellness.
For food won't fill it, 
my mind can't simply will it.
The only way to be me
is to walk free 
now.

...And so I step up to the mic and say, "Enough." Time is limited. It is my most limited resource and it is essential that I make the most of the time I have remaining. I am going to do what I need to best ensure I have as much time left as possible and that begins with self-care. This means moderation in consumption,  particularly food, and eating fresh, local goods - way fewer packaged comestibles. It means making gentle exercise a priority and re-embracing Qi Gong as a daily practice in my life. It means caring less about the meanness that exists in our world - and by meanness, I am using the English definition of the word ...because I am English.... Definition: "lack of generosity; miserliness." 

I will breathe deeply and be present. I will say what I need and give it to myself, such as: "Time to write please!" 

There is only one way to get what we need and that is to create a kind and loving space for it. Take time to consider how we work and what we do and whether it is of value. Are we performing a task simply because we always have, or is there still a need or a positive impact from that labour? If not, let's chuck it! There is time for other pursuits if we look for it creatively. Prioritizing how we spend our time is essential to the level of joy we have in our lives. 

So, I organize to make the time to create the time to have more time. Yes, I am able to see the first world entitlement and irony here.... When did I complicate my life like this and how do I re-take the reins? 

Attention. Attention to the moments, the days, the weeks, the months and years. Attention to how I utilize and create during the time I do have and a sound belief that I have the right and the autonomy to choose.

In this season of rebirth and renewal, take a look at how your time is spent. Be creative and make space for your exceptional individuality to shine and grow. Your greatest successes and inspirations will come when you make space for them to grow. Like all the flora and fauna of the earth, you will blossom with the right amounts of space, time, nourishment and sunlight. 

With love to each of you. 

-Gillian Cornwall, March 26, 2017
Originally posted, c. March 27, 2016

Chickadee Spring, The Warrens Garden, Brentwood, BC 
Gillian Cornwall, c. Spring 2015

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Renewal

 
Light Unfolds from the Winter Darkness
Gillian Cornwall, c. March 2016

This Spring, let go. Put down that which is not yours to carry. This is the season of renewal and rebirth - a chance to reinvent yourself. You owe no debt of servitude to another soul. You are unique and whole and perfect on your path. Respect all women for they are the life-givers and must be celebrated for their strength and capacity (which is immeasurable and perfect).

Tread lightly on the Mother Earth for she is the provider of all of your needs for life. Be patient and kind, mostly with yourself, and your patience and kindness with others will come naturally from this prescription. 

There is life to be lived. Go outside. Breathe into your belly. Remember that you are uniquely and infinitely connected to all through your dantian: your centre of life and energy. Participate in your life; celebrate it. Don't just watch the lives of others on the television. 

I write this as it flows through me. I hear this in my  ear, in my heartbeat and through this universal energy I call soul. 

May we embrace the Spring and burst forth into this season of our lives in all of our epic, unique beauty.

Gillian Cornwall, March 19, 2017
c. March 20, 2016

Spring
Gillian Cornwall, c. March 2016