Sunday, November 30, 2014

Health, Time and Loved Ones

The Golden Hearts
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

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. 

Over the next month I will be away from my regular job and 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, c. November 30, 2014.

The Light, The Magic
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

Celebrate With Those You Love
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2011

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Solomon's Kitten - Book Review

Cover of Solomon's Kitten by Sheila Jeffries
Available through Amazon
Published by
Simon and Schuster Ltd - November 6, 2014

Author Sheila Jeffries has made us believe that she is, in fact, a cat, for no human could have written such a story without being embodied in this dear, sweet animal to express her story so well! So, Sheila Jeffries, how do you type with your wee paws?

Seriously, this is an incredible tale of life, love and compassion - a story of how a small fur person with a giant spirit can teach us more about compassion and love than many of our human kind. It is also a page turner - I couldn't put it down! I ploughed through it in 3 nights and went right back to the first page to enjoy it more slowly for a second time.

As a parent, I would read this book with younger family members to help them understand some of the difficult issues outlined in the story - those issues we hear about, perhaps in the news or within our own lives, but rarely have opportunity to discuss or talk through as a family. This story presents opportunities to stop, to think about how we love and how we listen to one another and to all of the living creatures with whom we share our world.

A perfect book for the holidays. Don't miss this one and, while you are at it, make sure you pick up Sheila Jeffries previous book, Solomon's Tale, for Solomon is the father of Tallulah, the kitten in this story. These will become classics. They are well-written and beautiful - hmm, do I see a movie in the future of these lovely beings?

I hope you will give yourself the opportunity to read Sheila's books. It is wonderful to be a part of a world where such great gifts are created to be shared. Wishing each of you a week filled with the magic of a book, a story to take you away and put you in the shoes (or paws) of another for awhile, for this is one way we can learn and share our stories of life, loss and love.

For those of you out there working away on your own stories in order to finish and hopefully publish - I wish you love and learning on the journey and the special pride that comes with completing and knowing it is your best.

To all of you who buy, read and share the stories those of us write, thank you. Without you, the circle is not complete.

With wishes for a beautiful week ahead - peace and love and light to each of you.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. November 23, 2014

The fur person in my life
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Breathe. See. Do. Rest.

Sunset View of a Mango Tree on Lana'i
-in tune with the soul of my kahuna-
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

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:


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! 

Cusheon Lake in March, Salt Spring Island
There is beauty all around us, always.
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2013

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.

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 first world 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.

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, c. November 16, 2014

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

Sunday, November 09, 2014


Bird - Balanced
Chinese Cemetery - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

Why the blazes am I heading down this path on an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning? Well, I am heading down this path because it came to me and because I believe I can offer some peaceful thoughts on the subject.

It seems to me that expectations are kind of tied up with opinions. We have our own, which may or may not have been influenced by our parents, our history, our spouse, media and so on. We also have the expectations and opinions that come to us quite directly in the now, like missiles.

I've been thinking about the height, depth and breadth of my self-expectations and how often I place them onto others. I am ridiculous for doing this. How many times do I talk about all of us walking our own paths in our own ways? Hypocrisy! Hypocrisy! 

Oh well. I am pleased to discover this about myself. As I continue to unpack it, I realize that my high self-expectations were seeded in my childhood. My understanding of one of my parents was that it was imperative to succeed - that there was no room for accident nor failure. Accident and failure resulted in anger, discipline and those, oh so awful, looks of disappointment. How could I not carry those expectations forward into my adulthood when they were as deep in my being as grain is to oak. The wonderful thing is that when we grow up, if we take the time to look at this stuff, with or without the help of psychology professionals, we get to untie the net and make it into something that fits us now or cast it off entirely. 

We have the opportunity to re-frame expectations as goals - if we wish. We have the capacity to try, to fail, to learn and grow. We have the capacity to acknowledge the same need in those who surround us. I would guess that everyone has felt like a failure in front of someone and, I know from personal experience, it is a wonderful feeling when someone stands by you through your errors and says, "Hey, it's okay. You can do it again. I'm here and I love you whether you succeed this time or whether you need to try again." 

You see, it is the path and not the destination. It is the relationships and the journey that make up the food of our lives. Whenever we reach the end of the road, do we want to be thinking, "Darn it, I wish I had done more - I wish I had at least tried"? Have fun on the journey. Don't worry too much if something breaks or fails. Just learn from it and move on. We are all perfect in our paths as long as we proceed at whatever speed and in whatever way works for us.

I made muffins this morning. 11 out of 12 worked. Is that a failure? Nah, I ate the bottom half of the broken one and I'll leave the top for J when she gets home. Now I know the muffins are tasty before I bring them to the party. Success! 

I dedicate this post to my partner who helps me learn about myself and guides me through my seriously debilitating self-expectations and my desire to be perfect. Instead, I am learning to try, to make time to do the things I love, regardless of how those things are received and others concepts of success. I am on my way.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. November 9, 2014

Many Boots, Many Treads
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2014

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Down Time

Summit Park Garry Oaks
Pencil, Graphite and Ink on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c 2010

Down time: Puzzles, tea, a sketch book, a novel, a hammock, the cottage, a tropical vacation, a walk by the sea, a nap, a walk in the forest, a movie... the list goes on, doesn't it? There are a million things I love to do (or not do) to recharge my engines. I don't know about you but there just doesn't seem to be enough of it either.

I remember when I was a kid - there seemed to be tons of it. I supposed that comes with a privileged, middle-class childhood. I can't remember the last time I just lay under a tree and stared at clouds floating across a big blue sky through branches swaying in a gentle breeze. When I was a youngster, Heather McGhee and I used to ride our bikes to the Mill Pond on a Saturday and eat our bagged lunches on the grass under the tent-like boughs of the giant willow tree. It was peaceful and fun. We had exercise, food, talk and rest. Life was quite perfect.

I don't know when we lose that space, that time, to just be. I am often admonished for the time I spend staring into one of my many devices: laptop, desktop, iPod, smart phone, e-reader, etch-a-sketch ...just seeing if you were paying attention. I actually do have an Etch-a-Sketch - two, actually and I love them. I would definitely put Etch-a-Sketch in the down time list. 

Big Island of Hawaii
Oil Pastel and Mineral Oil on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2006

 As you can see, I've included some of my own drawings in this post. The thing is, I used to draw in my down time too. I studied with a number of artists and I used to draw pretty much every day - during lunches, after work and on the weekend. Now that I am writing avidly in the hope of finishing my first novel before I am too old to remember I started it and sending short works and poetry off to magazines, I no longer seem to have the time to draw, so that has gone by the wayside for now as well. 

 Victoria Warehouses
Oil Pastel on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2006

Now it seems, to really get down time, I have to take time off work in large chunks, get any necessary chores out of the way that absolutely have to be done and THEN I can take some down time after I've worked on the writing that has lain dormant because I've been too tired or too this and that... Blah, blah, blah. And trust me, I know, this is all first world problem nonsense but what I really want to get at it, I think it is crucial to make time to chill out - whatever that means to you. If you want to be well, get exercise, eat well, laugh as much as possible, love with an open heart and HAVE FUN!

The House
Watercolour Pencil on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2004

I'm lucky that I work in a really pretty location. At lunch, I go for walks with a colleague. Generally, we have to stop and laugh at least 5 times because, together, we make a hilarious and joyous pair. It is not uncommon to see birds and deer as we walk the wooded path by the circle road that surrounds the campus on which we work. So, it's pretty close to what I described with my childhood friend, Heather.

The Mallard
Watercolour Pencil on Paper
5 x 7
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2004

What do you do for down time? I'm open to new ideas, suggestions and hilarious anecdotes. I'm excited to know that I'm not alone in my need to chill out. I believe that it is in our moments of freedom, our moments of lightness, that greatness happens. Breathe deeply and give space to your potential. Open your mind and heart to all that is here for us if we just stop for a minute, breathe into our bellies and connect to "all".

Baby Parker
Pencil on Paper
Gillian Cornwall
Commissioned - Not available

I think that if we can integrate down time back into our work, we will achieve much greater standards of excellence. Greatness takes time, space and belief in ourselves and each other. All too often, I look around me and I see people racing to check off the boxes. "Let's get it done!" And all too often, if we stopped, thought and made space for thinking outside of the check box, we would get it done a lot better, faster and with greater enjoyment. 

Arwen Portrait
Pencil on Paper
4 x 6
Gillian Cornwall, c.1999

There is time. There is space. We just need to allow ourselves to take it. Most of us do not NEED more stuff or more money to get more stuff. We need to stop, slow down and be present in our lives. Down time. That's what we need. 

The Grizzly Bear
Oil Pastel on Paper
Gillian Cornwall, c. 1996

This is your imposed down time between a grizzly bear and a farm cat. *Breathe here* :-)

 Boots the Cat
Oil Pastel on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c.1994

If anyone is interested, please share your thoughts on this subject by leaving a comment below. I know most people just want to have a look and duck out unnoticed and that is fine too. I hope you are off to do something fun and relaxing! -maybe do some of your own drawings? 

The West Coast Rainforest - Long Beach
Ink on Paper
Not Available for sale
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2009

While I may seem fairly light-hearted about this, I want to acknowledge that there are millions of people around the world who struggle in every hour of every day just to survive and if those of us who have so much shared just a bit with someone else, we could ease their path a great deal and perhaps allow them to stop and breathe one day without having to worry all the time. There is always more we can do for another and this can be a down time thing too. Read to someone who can't read for themselves anymore. Bring someone a treat. Make a donation if you can. Share your beautiful gifts with another for we are one and we are greater together than apart.

The Wave
Oil Pastel and Mineral Oil on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c. 1988

Thanks for stopping by and having a read. I hope you enjoyed it. I love sharing with each of you and send you love and blessings for a peaceful and joyous day. Know that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, someone out here is thinking of you and wishing you the very best of life. Never give up. Walk your path with your head held high and feel the simple joy of the sun on your face when it does shine.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. November 2, 2014