Sunday, December 04, 2016

Health, Time and Loved Ones

Christmas Cheer at the Fairmont Empress, Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2015

As I do from time to time, I have decided to re-post this piece from 2014 - about two years ago this time. It still stands. It still rings as true as a sleigh bell for me. I hope it is of use to you too:

I have learned so much about myself in the last few weeks - how fear can still overcome me, hindering reason, health, love and truth and how I can get in my own way when it comes to showing people how much I love them and that there is NOTHING more valuable in this world than our health, time to live and the opportunity to be with the people we love. 

When I say I get in my own way, I mean that I can let petty trivialities of day to day living and fear of failure block me from exactly that in which I wish to succeed. As I move forward, I will look at ways of doing a better job of letting go, being in the moment, being of service to those in my life and thinking before speaking. 

I'm not saying I'm awful and I'm not writing this as an act of contrition. This is what I have seen of myself. This is what I wish to change. This is what I choose to share with you in the hope it may be meaningful and useful to you as you walk your own way. 

As always, I will be engaging in the work I recently mentioned: regaining the rudder and resetting my course. I will take time to stop, to be and to help others and, I will help myself. I will restore and open that which is blocked within. I will release the holding which is keeping me from functioning in an open and fluid way. Also, I will write!

The holiday season approaches. This is an ideal time to reflect on how we are living and giving, how we spend our time and our other resources and where we are placing our value of life. Consider taking a thing out of your life and trading it for a block of time, even if the act is a symbolic one. Give away something you no longer need, be it an object or a thought that is negative (or no longer serves your well-being) and release it to the universe with love. In return, give yourself the gift of time to fill that space with love - for yourself, for others and for the blessing of good health, the blessing of life. Reset your inner clock with time for you, for your well-being and for those you love. This is your life and the most precious gift you have with which to give and receive. Use it well and with great appreciation - for nothing else matters before this. 

With love to each of you.
-Gillian Cornwall, December 4, 2016
Re-posted from Original copyright date, November 30, 2014

The family home, Hertfordshire, UK
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015.
Edited with text, December 2015.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Gift of Evergreen

 
The Evergreen Wood - Salt Spring Island
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2011

Moments
peaceful moments
life-filled
senses heightened
moments.

I walk among these winter woods
of evergreen,
every green.
From western winds, a carpet laid
in pine and spruce and cedar 
with every footfall fresh.

Branches gathered
fingers stuck with pine sap scent
this air freshener
the real McCoy.

Intertwining perfect circles
still damp
with the whisper
of the first snow fallen.

Rose hips of red
Snowberry bunches
of winter white
all bound in birch
a ribbon found.

Nature's gift
a perfect lift
for spirits fading
running ragged
the season nears.

I hang this wreath
upon your door
The symbol, strength
The circle, friends
forevermore.

-Gillian Cornwall, November 26, 2016
Re-posted from the original, December 8, 2013

 Gowland Tod Provincial Park
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2016

Gowland Tod Provincial Park
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

R and R

 
Other than those wild souls compelled to jump out of perfectly good airplanes, climb Mount Everest and wrestle alligators, who doesn't like to feel safe, rested and relaxed, hm?

I know I do and now I finally understand my parents and grandparents who were able to simply sit for hours in peaceful repose. When I was a youth, that used to drive me 'round the twist! I couldn't understand why anyone would want to just sit still in the quiet. Now, I don't think I I could function without time spent in solitary, restful silence.

Who does that anymore? When was the last time you sat still and rested (without spending hundreds on yoga gear and rushing off to a class)?

Today, I was out about town, it being a Saturday, and I was astounded by the numbers of eager Christmas shoppers filling the stores. 

I will venture that the festive season lengthens with each passing year and with each technological upswing. Folks are tired. Everyone I speak with has too many tasks to complete and insufficient time in which to complete them. People are dissatisfied with the epic, mind-numbing pace of life. Everyone I speak with is overwhelmed. It's terribly sad and people are looking to something beyond today that will bring them some tidings of comfort and joy.  

Enter the festive season, stage right, with its promise of rest and comfort with family. We are surrounded with images of homefires burning and playtime with children riding sleds and building snowmen. 

It gives us something for which to aim, something to believe in: a giant fix of comfort and joy. So we start dabbling in the trappings of the winter break as soon as Halloween ends and the calendar turns to November. The stores fill with the makings of the perfect Christmas and, instead of just embedding the love and peace touted as the heart and soul of Christmas, we run around like wildlings preparing and planning for what we hope will be the perfect break. 

So here's the thing, dear friends and family:
Just stop. Do it. I double dog dare you. 

I know, I know, you have to work and the kids will expire if they don't go to swim class, but seriously, we need to find ways to lessen the load and enjoy our lives again. Time without technology in hand may be the key. Take a walk in the woods. Make a puzzle. Go for a bike ride. Sit and look out the window at the "goings on" in your neighbourhood. 

Take some time to live, laugh and just be. The work is never actually going to be "finished" so find ways to sort it and leave it for another day. 

Be. Breathe deeply and smile. Now is your life. Now is your time to be with friends and family. Enjoy. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. November 20, 2016





Sunday, November 13, 2016

Healthy Boundaries

Tree Line, Vancouver BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2009

You deserve to feel safe.
You deserve to feel happy.

It is perfectly acceptable to do those things which bring you joy as long as they do not bring harm to another in the process.

If someone makes you feel "less than" because of who you are or how you go about things, that is not okay and it is perfectly acceptable to remove yourself from the situation that is affecting your well-being. That is self-care.

You deserve kindness. 
You deserve respect. 
We needn't try to raise ourselves up on the back of another as we will both eventually tumble. 

No one is more valuable than another. You are equal among the creatures of the earth and deserving of well-being. 

Haters are going to hate and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it but continue to love them and simply love, in general, in the face of anger, despair, sadness and fear. If you try to get through it and find you are met with vitriolic remarks and aggression, walk away rather than engage. Remove the air from the fire. 

Be no man's punching bag. 

You are deserving of love, respect and kindness. Surround yourself with these wonderful aspects of life, with a blanket of love - whether of your own design or that of others ...or both. Share the positive. 

Believe in the ripple effects of love and kindness for they are impervious to their opposites and eternal. 

May the sun and the moon continue to shine upon you and guide you along the river of life. 

With love to each of you and an apology to those with whom I have failed to engage in my best, loving way. 

Gillian Cornwall, c. November 13, 2016

Evening over the Olympic Range
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Breathe. See. Do. Rest.

 Breathe.
Pu'upehe from the shores of Lana'i
-in tune with the soul of my kahuna-
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2006

I get caught up in my assumptions of the expectations of others and it throws me off course. I am off course. I take myself back to the big four:

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

Or, in my words for today:

Breathe.
See.
Do.
Rest.

I try to regain the rudder and reset my course. I am not here to perform and receive applause. I am not here to meet the expectations of another. I am here to live my life. I am here to be present in each moment of it. I am here to choose my own way but I get lost sometimes. I get lost and I need to stop and get back to basics because it is when we are lost that we slip through time. It is like an obscure game of Snakes and Ladders. Every once in a while we land somewhere and it sets us off down a chute where we eventually shake off the bumpy ride and wonder how the blazes we arrived at this place! 

See.
The land around Glastonbury Abbey
There is beauty all around us, always.
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

I suppose I am talking about intention (yes, again). When we are in the moment, we are exactly where we are when we are there. We are not looking toward the future nor back into the past. This slows that peculiar time concept under which many of us function. Presence creates space and breathing room. Presence expands us and allows us room to see, to act and to rest. Part of this expansion comes from breathing deeply, with intent and appreciation. Why do you think so many of us sigh so much? We are so tense that we disconnect from our bodies and our capacity to breathe. We hold and when we hold, we lose capacity. See where you are. Be there. Breathe into your belly and take action from a place of presence.

Do.
Boat excursion from Bamfield Marine Science Centre
Bamfield, Vancouver Island, BC
Allow yourself the opportunities life brings. Embrace opportunities.
Photo of me by H. Gottfried, c. September 2014

There are so many chances in life, so many opportunities to embrace experience. I try not to to let fear stop me from taking opportunities when they arise and I try to create some opportunities as well. People say to me, "You are so lucky to take that trip!" or "Wow. I wish I could do that." The thing is, most of us can do at least some of what we want - particularly, those of us in "over-developed" nations who have homes and jobs (though sometimes we allow our jobs to get more in the way of our potential than to support or expand it). We must choose. We must be present and actively walking toward that which we desire. If I want to travel, I must forfeit other things - by choice. I set a goal and work toward it. It helps to have people in our lives who support us in our dreams and desires. Those who seem not to care or disengaged may be lost themselves and unable to help you find your way. Look to share your "way" when you can. Actively seek out supportive, like-minded people for your journey. Take the risk that some may say they are not interested and that this is not a judgement of you but a choice they are making. Try not to take it personally. Get on with your journey in the present. Where are you and what will you do with these moments? This is your life. It is the most precious gift.

 Rest.
Hulopoe Beach, Lana'i, Hawaii
Stop and reflect. Stop to enjoy the moments and to revel in 
this precious gift of life.
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2012

I need to not rush. This is not usually an issue for me and when I allow others to make it one, I inevitably fail. I must live my life in my own time. How else would it be possible for me to live my life? I am a fool every time I tumble down this rabbit hole. If others feel I am holding them back because of my pace, then I must let them go without me. I need to stop and I need to do so more frequently than my younger days. Time appears to have gone into hyper-speed and I find more need for that "down-time" I have discussed previously. Rest. Restoration - a chance for my body to recover and space to discover what I need to remain well and positive. Not doing is integral to healthy living and it is a disappearing art. When I was a child and a teen, I mastered the skill of "not doing" but I have lost touch with this ability. Now we go to classes with 30 other people and pay to sit on rubber mats and meditate because this is an acceptable act of not doing. If it works for you then it is good! I actively planned to lie on the living room carpet this weekend and do nothing for a while. Find a way not to "do". Find a way to stop and I am not talking TV, phone or computer. Sit, breathe, rest. You will slow this concept of time we have and gain greater capacity to "do" if you learn to "stop doing" regularly.

May your week be full of your own life in the way you choose to live it and may we love each other along the paths we choose. 
-Gillian Cornwall, re-posted November 6, 2016
c. November 16, 2014

 Breathe. See. Do. Rest.
Cusheon Lake, Salt Spring Island, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c 2012

Sunday, October 30, 2016

One-downmanship

 Glass Half Full 
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2008

One-downmanship: The art or practice of being or appearing to be at a disadvantage (Oxford Dictionary)

I thought I had coined this phrase so I was surprised to see it in the Oxford Dictionary. Once again, proof that I have a limited capacity for original thought. That aside, one-downmanship is the subject of today's article.

Why do we do it, people, why? 

Here are some of the reasons I think may be the cause:

1.  We don't want people to think we are doing well because they will stop paying attention to us and stop offering us kindness and comfort because, sadly, we don't tend to do that for one another when things are going well.

2.  We don't want people to think we are doing well because they will try to take away that which we possess, be it joy or good fortune. 

3. Habit. 

4. Any form of shame and guilt built in culture and religion.

5. A result of the "Busy as a Badge of Honour" malarkey we feed one another as a rich society where we believe the busier we say we are, the more valuable and important we must be.

6.  Additionally, if we do not appear to be busy or wrung out, we could be let go from our jobs because we do not appear to be driving ourselves into a furor in competition for the almighty dollar.  

7.  A desire to appear as disadvantaged or more disadvantaged than another as a rationalization to take up inordinate space, time and energy of others.

8.  All of the above = FEAR.

One-downmanship stems from a place of fear and a lack of acceptance of wealth of spirit, health and overall fortune. In some ways,It seems to have become unacceptable to be doing well; yet, often the reaction of others is positive if we say we are fine and disadvantageous or negative if we say we are not. Again, the person asking was likely hoping for a simple, "Fine thanks" or nothing at all as the question of well-being was merely a platitude. No-one has time or energy to hear another sad story. 

Are we so inundated with the ruinous lives of strangers that we have no time to listen to those of us in our actual day to day lives? Have we lost our compassion as a result of over-stimulus courtesy of the world wide web? Do the trials and tribulations of those closest to us feel meaningless in the face of Syria, Afghanistan, or any other place of desperate need brought to us as the most horrific story from media?

If each of us is screaming, are any of us heard?

Sometimes it appears to me that those with the most advantage in life (from an economic have and have-not perspective) are competing with those who are truly disadvantaged on multiple levels in order to keep the wealth that they have. You know, "I'm not really doing as well as it appears I am doing, because..."

It's sad. 


Sometimes, we are just not seen in our difficulty. We do not feel heard or acknowledged for old hurts that have left us physically, emotionally or intellectually disabled in some way. The only means by which we can continue to seek remediation for the wrong done is to ensure that no one sees us having a good day. 

How do we find our way out of this state?

Practice, that's how. Look for wee joys in life and stand in the peace of those moments. Accept that you are worthy of well-being. 

If you feel guilty for having an easier life than another, use that energy to quietly do something for that person - perhaps without even letting them know. I find that giving to another when I am in hardship is one surefire way to lighten my footprint on this earth and brighten my path. 

You needn't flip to the far side by becoming the reigning champion of one-upmanship, but allow yourself to feel good, rested and content when you do feel so. Restore and give of yourself as you are able to do so with good heart. 

Someone once said that we owe our greatest debt to joy. ...We certainly do not owe it to misery.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. October 30, 2016

This week's post is dedicated to one of the best people 
I have the good fortune of knowing 
- who makes me a better, kinder, more honest me: Tams.
You lift me up and I am grateful.


Fernwood, bench wisdom
G. Cornwall, February 2012




Sunday, October 23, 2016

Creation

Inside the cave
Shark Cove - Lana'i, Hawaii
Ink Drawing by Gillian Cornwall
4"x 6" - $50

...And my soul said, "Let there be art"
...And behold, there was art.

It was everywhere. Nature made it and I translated her beauty through my perception. My very being spoke through my hand and heart and rendered words into poetry, fiction, non-fiction, pen and ink, oil pastel, watercolour pencil drawings and three dimensional sculpture. I was moved to sing and to dance and to play an instrument. I sought out the places where the greatest of all of these pursuits were housed and I sat among friends and made crafts. 

All of it - I wanted all of it. I do it because I must in order to be whole and alive. 

When I was young, I had no external push to create; although, I was exceedingly fortunate in my exposure to the arts,including: consumption of the culinary arts from all over the world to ballet and symphony, popular music concerts, art galleries and education in the arts. It was clearly stated that it would not have been a course by which to achieve employment - my parents said so. I was raised to obey. Now, I sit here, without a permanent job at 54 as a result of lay off and I am still writing, drawing, singing and dancing and laughing at myself for my stint as a stand up comedian.

The point is, I likely could have made a career of it - I loved it enough and worked hard enough at it, but, no, I was told I must take on a career to support myself. Wise advise on the one hand while lacking in support of my abilities and passion on the other. 

This week, my brilliant cousin pointed me in the direction of this article, The Third Self,  by Mary Oliver on the Brain Pickings blog by Maria Popova - winner in the blogger category at the 7th annual Shorty Awards.

In her essay, Mary Oliver states:

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

When I read this, I thought to myself, "You bloody idiot, Gillian. Why did you believe anyone? Why did you not just go to school for it and do it?"

While I let my counselor help me with those questions now, I will say, indeed, I did give it power and time. Would the amount of time ever have felt like enough? I doubt it. The point is, I have improved, I have studied, I have read, I have performed. Hell, I have even sold my art and published a few bits of writing. What does success look like? There is also my blog. I am damn proud of the engagement I have with all of you over the years. There is my novel which is now in its second draft and must be handed over to someone to read at some point ...particularly, if I would like to have it published ...and I would very much like to have it published.

I create because I don't know how to not create. I would not be me if I did not create. We all create. Each of us does it in small ways daily, even if those creations never reach fruition on page or into voice - our imaginations are unstoppable - percolating and pumping - completely out of our control. 

To each person who participates in the arts through reading books, going to the ballet or concerts, attending gallery openings and purchasing the works of artists of all kinds: You are essential to the equation of growth in the lives of both the artist and yourself. Creation is meant to elicit response - from boos and balks to cheers and bravas. I grow as an artist by attending the arts of others, from reading books and attending performance and shows. 

I keep saying, "The point is..." and you are probably wondering, "Really, what is your bloody point?"

Soooo, the point is:

Creation is essential.
Do it.

Allow yourself the beauty and pleasure of a doodle or a line of verse. Do it for you because no-one will create what you have created. Do it because it feels good. Rip it up after if you need to do so. Take a photo today on your way to get groceries or on your way home from work. Stop. Look. Listen. Smell. Touch. Feel yourself in a moment and see what comes to you. 

The rarity of stopping has dulled our senses to the beauty of the heaven in which we live. For a moment, put down your phone and look around. Rest and feel. In the brilliant words of Nana Veary, "Seek to enjoy; not to possess." Time will speed as you age. Do not let your youth slip away unnoticed. 

Presence is the first step in creation. The universal flow of energy, when allowed to pass through you without impediment, will lead your imagination to lands beyond your day to day world. This is how creators create. At least, it is the way in which I begin to create. Sometimes, I have no idea from where the work has had its well-spring. I look down at the page of my novel and think, "Wow - who thought of this?" The same can occur when I am in the zone with a drawing. It's magic; yet, as simple as a breath - which is also quite magical when you think about it. 

Allow the magic of your very existence take you on unfathomable adventures. This is your life to create. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. October 23, 2016

North Shore of Maui and West Maui Mountains
Oil pastel and mineral oil on watercolour paper 
Approx. 8"x 10" - $100
Rendered by Gillian Cornwall