Sunday, January 25, 2015

Be Brilliant, Bold and Mitigate Expectations

University of Victoria - Spring Blossoms
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2013

"Go to the place your soul calls home
and be there for the pure joy of life."

I have decided to republish this piece from last August as I have been reminded of it by the adventures and tribulations along my current path.The lessons here are crucial for me to learn ...and learn again.

My brother once told me, "Expect nothing and hope for the best." Many seasons have passed since he imparted this sage advice and, to this day, hope and expectation can blur on my page, like once vivid watercolours, running from brilliant individual rivulets into a murky pool.

Love. Fear. Love. Fear. Love. Fear. Love. Fear. Love. Fear. Love.

There they go again, marching across the page, weaving together the precept of every piece I've ever written. Tiresome isn't it? ...but also true. With every step, every breath, every crossroad, we must decide which path to tread. 

This brings me to the title of this week's piece. Let's look at the parts:

Brilliant: Bright, clever, impressive, excellent - from the French brillant: shining

Bold: Willing to take risks, confident, courageous

Mitigate: Make something (bad) less severe or lessen the gravity of something painful; from Latin mitigat: softened, alleviated

So, it looks like I'm saying: shine and be courageous but make sure you do it as your truth rather than from a desire to receive a response or change from something or someone else because, if you expect results, you can be disappointed or hurt. Yes. That is what I meant. Good. Sorry to take you down that road with me but I wanted to make sure I was going where I needed to go with this. 

Hope: v. want something to happen or be the case

Interestingly, hope, as a verb, relates more to want than expectation; whereas, as a noun, expectation is dominant in the use of the word.

Expect: v. regard something as likely to happen

My brother's wise words convey that it is okay to want something but not to rely on it. I agree with this too.

Recognize that the greater your brilliance, boldness and joie de vivre, the more likely it is that you will be met with an equal and opposite energy of naysayers and folks who need to shadow themselves from your light. I want to remind you that reaction is not a measure of the value of your action. If your intent is for the positive, if your action comes from a place of love rather than a place of fear, then you may listen and consider but it is not for you to own or carry the reaction of another. 

So if you shine, shine. Be bold. Explore. Your light may be the very thing that someone needs to light their path or it may take you to a place that opens your heart and soul to reaches beyond your imagination. Do not let your brilliance and boldness be extinguished by other people's fears. Your light is a foundation of greatness, of living a full and passionate life. Do not walk your path as though it is a red carpet, looking for or expecting applause or judgement. Walk your path for the journey, for the delight and learning of life. I'll see you along the way. 
-Gillian Cornwall, revisited on January 24, 2015
From the original, published on August 24, 2014

My Friend and Teacher - Princess
Gillian Cornwall, c. Spring 2014

Organ Lessons, not expected
Gillian Cornwall, c. Spring 2014

Oak Bay Primrose
Gillian Cornwall, c. Spring 2014

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Seek to Enjoy, Not to Possess - Nana Veary

Commitment - the first thing I think of is relationships but I mean much more than this. How do we look at commitment? Are we not actually committing to ourselves above all? 

I am definitely having commitment issues right now, but not in the way you might imagine. Perhaps I am overly committed. Maybe I need to ..."Decommission?" Not sure. That makes me sound like a battleship! I only know that I hold my promises and commitments quite sacred. I will try and try to meet that which I have promised - at work, at play (socially), in relationship and to myself (physically, mentally and spiritually). 

Right now I feel as though I am failing on all fronts. Here are some examples:
  1. My novel is STILL not finished.
  2. I don't write nearly as much as I used to write. 
  3. I don't see my friends as much as I would like.
  4. My health is not great (not eating well, not enough exercise nor sleep and too much sitting at work).
  5. I do not spend enough time in spiritual self-care (meditation, Qi Gong)
  6. I am not challenged enough in my work.
...and those are just a few. I love my volunteer work and I feel valued by those who have engaged me. I do a fair bit of equity and diversity work and it is greatly satisfying. I want to be clear that I never think EVERYTHING is not good. I always find some good in my life.

I feel as though I am a giant Jenga game right now. I need a shift, a change, but will the whole structure tumble if one piece is added or removed?

I remember Nana Veary's lesson (in the image above): "Seek to enjoy, not to possess." This directly impacts my view of my own commitment. Are the things which I must release just the promises and commitments I have made to myself? Others seem to have no difficulty with this - happy for the change. I deserve to enjoy - everyone does, but why does it seem so difficult to do at times?

I think part of it stems from the way I was raised. "Do as you promised. Stick with what you started." - no matter how far off the rails you go. "Why?" Perhaps it is time to commit to change, to letting go. Perhaps, once again, it is my own fear that holds me to these oaths. 

These are all questions for which I do not necessarily have answers, but I feel the ground rumbling. I feel a shift and sense a change on the wind. I will do my best to open my heart, mind and soul to the wonders and take another step down the road, the great gift of life. 

 Jump in. Gumby at China Beach.
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2010.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Historia magistra vitae est

Great Grandparents, Edward Henry and Charlotte Anne Cornwall
Photographer unknown - England

Historia vero testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriae, magistra vitae, nuntia vetustatis, qua voce alia nisi oratoris immortalitati commendatur?

- Cicero, De Oratore, II, 36.

By what other voice, too, than that of the orator, is history, the evidence of time, the light of truth, the life of memory, the directress of life, the herald of antiquity, committed to immortality?

History is the light; it is life's teacher. The older I get, the more I find myself looking back, at times, comparing the lives of my elders to my own. Running their experiences and lessons up against my own meager accomplishments. Perhaps it is a sense of life now passing too quickly, perhaps there is now less than more remaining to me in this earthly realm. 

Normal behaviours begin to feel like a waste of time when there is so much to see out there, so much to do. I know what you are thinking: Hello, Mid-life Crisis!

You may be right. I don't know. If this is mid-life, I'm stoked. If that means I get another fifty odd years ahead of me, I'll take it. I don't want to be near the end. I feel like I'm just hitting my stride. It's taken me this long to untangle the web, to dismantle the demons of the past, to understand and, mostly, forgive. 

I write to shed light, selfishly and, hopefully, for others to gain insight. I find as more time passes, I want to reconnect with my past. I am intending to travel back to the UK and France this year, to walk the footsteps of my mother during the second world war, to visit the grave of her lover in France - he was shot down over Bretagne. He rests in Guidel. I want to visit to honour his life - that which he gave for his country and the heart that he gave to my mother. I know I come from a long line of warriors and mine is the first generation not to fight in many, many generations.

I want to listen to the stories of my cousin, to learn the past of my family and to understand myself better through this search, for I do believe that history is the light, that each story is a line on my face, a glint of colour in my eye and a beat of my heart. Listen. Listen to the elders, to our families and friends as they age and prepare to move on. This is the greatest inheritance we can receive and share. 

May history teach us and guide us forward with love and compassion for our fellow beings. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. January 11, 2015.

 Edward Henry Cornwall Circa 1870

I believe this is my paternal grandfather's brother, Francis, at age 18

Great Grandmother Wilkins pre-1920

 Grandfather WC Jay circa 1912

My paternal grandfather, Albert Cornwall - Home Guard,1940, front, third from the right

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Gender Freedom

 Feeling awkward and vulnerable - smiling because I was told to do so.

All grown up - camping on the beach in Hawaii - happy in my self.

As a gender variant lesbian (if you need some labels to get on with) growing up in the 60's and 70's in middle class Canada, I have an understanding of desperation and relentless persecution. I am glad I have chosen life despite the name calling, the beatings, the abuse and the vitriolic hate. I remain scarred but strong, hurt but strong. I am whole and beautiful in each physical, mental and spiritual metamorphosis of my changing self.

For the new year, may each of us commit to walking a path of love and kindness with ourselves and one another. May not another one of us be taken by hate.

Earlier this week, I sent out the following tweet and Facebook post as an acknowledgement of the loss of ANOTHER teenage soul, Leelah Alcorn. 

Do not think me
this nor that,
him nor her.

I am but a vessel
for perfect love.

I could go on about how we need to learn to accept one another in each moment of our perfect lives and how each one of us have things we wish we could wear on the outside that we keep hidden so tightly within us, but I honestly think that these five lines sum it up - no matter who you are. Be in love with your soul and care for the vessel in which it resides. If the vessel needs changes in order for you to live healthier or more at peace within it - change it. Support each other down your life paths. Listen and love. It is not for us to change or "fix" another. We are all perfectly capable of deciding who we want to be in each moment of our journey. Do not let fear guide you, rather, let love. For Leelah's sake, and the sake of so many others, learn about human sexuality, gender and sex. These are not one thing. Explore your self. Allow your self space to be, to feel and to expand with each breathe.

There have been many articles about Leelah's life and suicide in the past week. This is one: 

This year, let love be the engine on your train and courage be your caboose. Let the fuel that propels us be the power of collective love. Above all, embrace and enjoy the journey of this gift of life. 

If you are suffering like Leelah did, there is help.


Trans Lifeline - US - (877) 565-8860 / CAN (877) 330-6366

Transgender Europe -

Gender Spectrum -

These are but a few - if you are reading this from your place in the world, please add more resources in the comments. If you are a child or teen considering ending your life, please call:

Kids Help Phone -  1 (800) 668-6868

Me and my mum - Cape Cod
Me as "more me" with short hair, playing on the beach all day

 Me a few years ago - at work. A magnet with the French "Adore" attached to my glasses!

Me. Just me. :-)