Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Universal Place Within Us

The Waves of the Mother - Lana'i Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2012

In light of the events in Canada this past week and because some concepts of this work arose during an interview I watched between Oprah Winfrey and Pema Chodron last Sunday, I have chosen to republish this post. The principles here guide me through my life and I re-read this work every time I start to lose my way. I hope you find it helpful.

"Love. Kindness. Joy. Patience. Endurance."

I repeat these words and live their meanings to the best of my ability in each moment and in the face of my fears. I follow the path of the femina magna with calm and steady breath: impeccable in word, not taking the path of others as my own, not making assumptions and doing my best with each step.

Wars, heartaches, lives and deaths have cycled through us and we walk on, down our paths, making decisions with each and every footfall:
a) the path of love
b) the path of fear

Let us go to the universal place within us, 
the place we have all recognized at one time in our lives, 
if only for a fleeting moment:
We are beings of love, of energy,
we are inextricably connected.
Let us be our best one.
Let us walk our paths in a state of openness and love,
independent and together,
as the roots below our feet
and the flow of the oceans,
as all the creatures of the earth.
Let us weave this beautiful basket of life and love together
so when we look within
our introspection shows the wonder of limitlessness,
the universe in each of us as one connected being.
From mother to child we unfurl
with limitless love for all
and no fear of loss,
for love flows through us as an endless fountain
with no fear,
no need to hold,
for it is all there, all ways,
if we are open,
if we trust.

Gillian Cornwall, c. January  20, 2013.

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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Set Sail

Taylor Beach, Parry Bay
Metchosin, BC
Photo: Gillian Cornwall, c. 2013

52. It's a heck of a number when I feel 21 some days and 100 on others. I suppose this is why some folks say, "Age is just a number." Well, yeah, it is. It's the number of years I've been knocking around this life trying to figure out what it is I should be doing - whether I should turn left, turn right, go back or stand still. Walking the path. 

Perhaps it's a midlife crisis - but that term makes me laugh. How the blazes would any of us know when we are at midlife? Anyway, lately I've been thinking about the finite nature of my time in this incarnation and trying to determine, once again, how I can make the most of it. I want to write. It's all I want to do really, but unless I go to work everyday, I'll be writing on the street. So I go to work and I do stuff that's probably helpful, but is it how I should be spending the time I have? Is it the choice that will lead me to say, at the end of my days, "Yes, I am satisfied. I lived well."?

I'm talking first world problems for sure. I know it because I've been without a safe home and I have gone hungry in my younger years. I don't particularly want to do those things again. It was hard and left even less time for pursuits such as writing. Survival is a full time job. What to do; what to do? I have a novel that is almost through the first draft but between work life and home life there are insufficient time windows to finish the job.

I need to turn things on their heads and get a different perspective. I feel sick. I sit all day at a desk and move paper and cyber paper and apparently it is helpful. I go to meetings and do volunteer work. These are all good things that help people but something is off. I feel an unusual weight, a drag off my stern, if you will... I need to trim the sails and find a fresh breeze on which to travel - perhaps in a new direction. Meanwhile, I sit, rather still in the water, waiting, watching for a ripple on the surface and I grow hungry as resources dwindle.

This isn't much of an inspirational piece (she said, pointing out the obvious). I'm probably over-sharing, but I am going to post it anyway because I'm fairly certain I'm not the only one who feels this way at times and what I want you to take away is that I'm thinking, searching, watching the horizon. My waiting is active as I look for the opening - for there has always been a way through. There always will be. So if you feel like this too, perhaps we can raise our noses to the air, listen for the whisper on the wind, trust our instincts and open up to the changing tides and times. Be of good cheer and remember that it is all about the "way". It is each step we take, each tack of the sail that takes us forward through our lives. We must do our best to enjoy the journey.

With love to each of you. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. October 19, 2014.

There's always this...
Photo: Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Hulopo'e - Lana'i, Hawaii
Photo: Gillian Cornwall, c December 2006

I've been wondering, where is my home? Is it the place where the safe roof lies over my head? Is it the place of my spirit? Am I so fortunate as to have those things be the same? Is my home the traditional territory of my people? If so, I may be without place. I do not know the traditional lands of my people. For generations, it was the island now known as the United Kingdom; however, I doubt my people originated there either. I believe I descended of Roman and Spanish peoples and I do not know before this or if it is indeed so. 

I know I descend from a long line of warriors - people who fought, sometimes to take lands and sometimes to free people. I am not proud of the fact that we took lands and traditional ways of being from so many. I am proud of those who fought oppression and hate so I could live a life with greater freedom to love who I want and engage in the spiritual practices of my choice. 

As a result of this lack of knowledge of my traditional lands, I have created home in my soul and attach physical home to where my soul finds peace. Often, that is also my physical place, here in Victoria, British Columbia with people I love but it is also in other places where my spirit understands the flow and harmony of "all", where I am attuned to the ways of other peoples. 

I am fortunate to have travelled often to the traditional lands of the Hawaiian peoples. I am fortunate to have spent time learning some of the culture, traditions and ways of living the aloha spirit. This is a path I can comprehend and when I am there, I feel an attachment to the deep spirit of the place and her people. I continue to study and visit. I know these are not my lands. These are the traditional lands of the Hawaiian peoples and I am grateful to be a student and visitor. 

Where do you find home? I suppose my lack of attachment to one particular place and a lack of comprehension of border makes my soul my home and, I think I feel pretty good about that. On this, Canadian Thanksgiving, I am grateful to all my teachers. 

I am grateful to the Elders at the First People's House, Office of Indigenous Affairs at the University of Victoria who have taught me so much about taking the time to see and to be present in my heart, body and soul. They have taught me so much about their history and ways and the land on which I am grateful to be a visitor/settler. 

I am grateful to my Hawaiian teachers and the Lana'i Culture and Heritage Center for your work and teachings and to all the Hawaiian people who open my spirit to the aloha way. 

Perhaps I am a nomad of the spirit, a conduit among peoples; perhaps I am a path and not a destination. 

With gratitude to all my teachers in this life. I dedicate this post to all of you. You taught me so so much more than a single subject. You taught me how to open my heart and mind to possibility. This is a great gift. Thank you.

"Malama i kekahi i kekahi"
Take care of one, take care of all

-Gillian Cornwall, c. October 12, 2014

Giving the chaka 
Lana'i 2006

Signs of Lekwungen Detail
I believe this is a detail of a sculpture by:
Butch Dick - Master Carver

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Inspire and Stir

The Letterbox - Saanich, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. October, 2014

Stimulus: noun
  • a thing or event that evokes a specific functional reaction in an organ or tissue
  • a thing that rouses activity or energy in someone or something; a spur or incentive
  • an interesting and exciting quality

We need it. Without doses of regular stimuli, we will likely create some. Sometimes that gets us into trouble. We need to create. It's at the very core of our beings. We need to think, write, build, draw, sing, move or invent. 

So, what does one do if large parts of the day are spent in environments where capabilities are not recognized nor utilized and efforts to create are thwarted? The answer is simple: One wilts. One drifts. One becomes disengaged with the tasks at hand and looks further afield for inspiration. I believe part of the reason our minds fail us is a lack of positive stimulation.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with bright, amusing and kind friends. We were outside, on farmland replete with the bounty of a season of growth. The people, sights and scents and the energy of the land were palpable, invigorating and inspirational.

Now, I do not live in a fairy land (and that's a pity) where every moment of every day is an inspirational delight; however, why are we obsessed with the errant concept that we should do as we are told and we should do it without thinking or questioning or without inspiration? The greatest places to work worldwide all inspire their employees to think, to engage, to question and to grow. They are encouraged to try, learn, fail and try again. 

Some of you might be thinking, "It's up to you, isn't it? Inspire yourself!" 

Well, that's true too. We are responsible for our days and for seeking environments in which we find growth but, perhaps, part of that responsibility is questioning a lack of opportunity where we currently stand. Ah, in all things: balance. 

Go forth, my kindred spirits and inspire! Be inspired. Try not to give up. At times, it's not easy. On the days when people sneer at your vigour and enthusiasm and question: "What have you got to be so happy about?!", respond with sincerity and a true desire to know,
"What have you got to be so unhappy about?"

Let us give opportunity to one another to be our very best. Share knowledge. Share opportunity. Let us not be afraid of losing what we have. If we hold onto something too tightly, it is most likely to slip through our fingers. Enjoy your gift of life.

The Joy of the Harvest
Photo by: Dailene O'Neill - October, 2014

-Gillian Cornwall, c. October 5, 2014