Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wounded In Action

Wounded In Action
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2013

More than anything, I wish I were a great writer. It would be wonderful to be a great anything, but I really want to be a great and successful writer.

I am feeling incessantly mediocre as I work and work and never win a single writing contest. I have had two publishing successes with the same local magazine. I am grateful for their willingness to publish my work. Writing is what I want to do above all else and I will continue to do it, but I must work a day job everyday in order to keep a door between me and the streets.

All day, every Sunday, I work on these blog posts for the week: writing, editing, publishing and promoting. I haven't monetized it yet but I may do some very specific advertising on it that relates to the literature that inspires some of the posts. I could give it up and focus solely on submissions to literary magazines to see if my skill and luck improve with respect to writing contests and publication. Some people have told me that the blog is of value to them and that, in my estimation, makes it a worthy enough undertaking; however, if the writing is crap to mediocre and remains so despite my best efforts, then perhaps it is of no use and I should stop.

I still have no regular job following my layoff in the spring and that wears me down though I try not to worry. I'm 54 and, financially, just getting by with massive credit card debt. I try to stay positive but sometimes that is the hardest thing in the world and it takes all of my energy.

I never want to be homeless again. I couldn't go to my home when I lived with a violent alcoholic in my twenties. I spent my time wandering the streets before anyone caught on to what was happening. I have written about it. Did anyone read it? Did it make a difference or was it self-serving tripe?  I don't have a writing degree though I study daily. I will never get a university degree now. I hated post-secondary school because I was closeted and desperately lonely in my difference. I was assaulted and made to feel "less than" because of my difference. That has continued throughout my life courtesy of misogyny and hetero-normative dismissal (at best) and hate and physical/sexual attacks (at worst).

I read more books than you could imagine. I think I am getting better at writing though I will likely never make any money at it. Perhaps my work is too harsh, too honest or not cheerful enough. Perhaps it is not in the style that a publisher desires. I have no idea. I am working on the second draft of my first novel though I have no idea how to get it in front of anyone. I doubt any of you know, save the few who are writers or published authors. To you, I admire your skill, your tenacity and your good fortune. Seeing your success allows me to believe that some writers get published once in a while. Like Van Gogh, will my eventual demise guarantee me appreciation of my work in the afterlife? Seems so cruel to gain fame after a lifetime of work and not even know it because you are dead. What a torture - like screaming, unheard, into a storm. I am nothing like Van Gogh in my skill, though perhaps so in temperament. I know I am absurd in my hope and penitent in my sulking.

To those of you who have purchased visual art from me recently, thank you deeply for your patronage and appreciation of the work.

To those of you who have taken the time to read my writing and let me know that my work was of value and meant something to you, thank you - I hope I have expressed my gratitude to you, for it is massive.

To those of you who have no desire to be artists above all else, count your blessings. It is an unfortunate thing to know your love and not be able to pursue it in every waking hour, until it is the best it can be, because you must do something else in order to survive. Those of you who get paid to do what you love are fortunate to be paid for following your heart.  I like the paid work I do right now very much. I am of service and I am grateful for the kindness with which I am treated in my temporary job. I complete my duties with a good heart and do my best to go above and beyond expectations. I am cautiously grateful for the door remaining between me and what has proved itself to be a cold and brutal world at times. The loss of my permanent position has reminded me of how tenuous that state of protection is, how close I am to the street again, but this time as a middle-aged woman faced with extraordinary and seemingly impossible circumstances. The entire process to find this mangy old dog another permanent position is cruel and unusual for one whose position was made redundant having served diligently and with a good heart for twenty years. What a surprise: middle-aged, barren, spinster is deemed worthless by white, hetero-normative society. Hey, look, it's still 1950!

I am a good old soul with not so much hope left and I want to be honest about how this feels. I know it is not pretty and not empowering, but if any woman reads this who feels she is the only woman left holding the shitty end of the stick as she enters her senior years, if she thinks it is she who has failed, if she believes she is not good enough - well, if enough of us women actually speak our truth, maybe people will see that something is systemically wrong, that patriarchy and misogyny are still tearing women down and that we are still being treated as valueless - particularly if we are not attached to a man as his chattels - and we do not appear or identify as female in a way that pleases men. Gender attachment to physical sex organs is a misogynist trap to make women meet the desires of men. It is a set up and it is BS. Many of us women still feel compelled to do this to survive and it makes me sad. Every time I see myself trying to prove myself worthy to a man for ANYTHING, my level of self hate escalates; It is cumulative and as heavy as a plague upon me. It is branded into my skin:


I doubt every woman feels this way; hell, maybe no one does, but there you have it. Another week and, if nothing else, another honest post that I should or should not have kept to myself. Marching on through another week with wishes for light, love and laughter and a sense of peaceful well-being to each of you. Many things are good. I have a home. I have food to eat. I have work to do that serves well. I have the capacity to keep going. I have technology to reach out and share. Perhaps, after all, this will be enough and, for these things, and the love I have from those in my life, I am grateful. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. August 27, 2016

Once upon a time, Cape Cod, Mass. USA
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014
Photographed from home movies shot by Brian F Cornwall, c. 1966

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Small Starts

Winter in the Cowichan
Graphite, ink, water colour pencil on paper 
Approx 8"x10" - $100
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2010

small starts 
and endings with a tear
a life of hearts 
and no replacement parts
we turn from fear 
to cheer
when we realize the clock is ticking
without misgiving
without a lie 
we love
we reach 
beyond our past
make it last
this life
is yours
small starts

-Gillian Cornwall, c. August 21, 2016.

Live as though each minute counts because it does. 

Everything you do, everything you feel, counts. You affect the whole universe with each thing you feel, think, say and do. Try very hard to remember this and ingrain it into your lifestyle. Treat others as you would be treated knowing you are loved and deserving of well-being - no matter your past; no matter what you have been told; no matter what you have learnt to believe to be true about yourself that leaves you feeling "less-than." 

Each of us has the gift of life and, with each breath, there lies opportunity for joy and wonder. It is that simple. Do not let your past anchor you to pain that was never yours to carry. Let go. Release it. Break free. Thank it for the lessons of compassion it may have taught you and release the bitterness of what it has taken away - for the bitterness hurts only you. 

You are so loved by the Earth herself! She feeds you and offers you her life-giving water. Turn your heart to the great mother and thank her for this gift. Give back to her. Recreate the bond between you and her life force. Sparks; small starts; life; yours. 

We are one. 

Gillian Cornwall, c. August 21, 2016.

The Woods - on the footpath to Tring, Hertfordshire
Gillian Cornwall, c. October, 2015.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

LOVE. What is it?

Fernwood Painted Power Poles
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014

Ah love, amour, the passion of the heart! Odes are written to it, people die for it, statues and edifices are built to it, but what the blazes is it actually and why is it causing such a kerfuffle?

Is it what happens between the sheets?
Gumby and Pokey - cuddling ...that is all.
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

Is it a feeling like you have gone to heaven because someone makes you feel all funny inside?
Mount Baker on a Summer Day
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

Is it a walk with someone on a Spring day, thinking of all the wonders you have shared and will share, today and ever more?
Spring in Victoria, Finnerty Gardens, UVic, BC

Gillian Cornwall, c. 2011

What is it, anyway?

All I have is this, in whatever state of togetherness or separateness from another human:

Love is energy. It is the energy that is constant, just as in physics. It is an energy that cannot be taken away. It may change along the way. It may shift from one way of being to another but it is eternal regardless of its form.

If we think of love as energy, as the energy of the universe flowing through us and all around us, then perhaps we can let go of fear a little. Perhaps we can breathe more deeply (for holding tightly serves no-one) and let love, energy, flow through us freely. In this way, like a fresh spring, we will always be full. There will always be enough. We will have nothing to lose.

Let us be brave. Let us love freely and kindly without holding. As far as people go, if we truly love someone, we must be brave when they need to go and wish them luck on their paths. Love means we want others to be happy. We want them to follow their dreams and sometimes that means letting go of the physical connection and letting their energy continue to flow through our hearts. It does not mean there is no longer love between the two, it only means that energy has shifted and changed shape. In this, there is no real loss.

Fine for me to say! I know, I'm no expert. Have I hurt when someone has left? Heck, yes! What helped? -realizing that they weren't leaving me; they were just leaving. We cannot take on the actions of others; we can only control our own actions and reactions. Do we love only as a result of someone loving us or is it something we choose to give freely, without expectation, without holding? That is for each of us to decide as we walk our own paths.

May you love in some way in every day. May your love expand your heart rather than cause it pain and depletion. May we all hold hands around the world, for many threads woven together make strong cloth.

-Gillian Cornwall, Edit and re-post August 14, 2016
c. February 15, 2015

Bamboo, Finnerty Gardens, University of Victoria
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

"Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back, even from the most difficult times.... Your ability to thrive, depends, in the end, on your attitude to life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly."
~ Ping Fu, Author of Bend, Not break: A Life in Two Worlds

Sunday, August 07, 2016

What You Want

Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

The sun-warmed bee buzz of the Salt Spring Island summer sits softly behind my still-closed eyes as I lay in the quiet sterility of my bed. I treat this place as somewhere exotic and far, absurd when it is but a bus and a ferry away.

Why do we complicate that which is simple? Is it to afford excuses for inaction? Do we not really want that which we say we want? Do we want it given to us rather than having to ask for it or work for it?

In my case, I think all of these are true at different times. If I want to go to Salt Spring, I need to either ask someone to go with me and simply share or pay the costs of using their car or I need to just get up on a Saturday morning and go! I would be there within a couple of hours.

Anyway, this post isn't really about going to Salt Spring Island as much as it's about what we do or do not put in the way of our own desires. When we think about what we want, perhaps the best course of action is to sit down and write out all of the reasons and excuses why we cannot get it and all the ways and means through which it can be achieved.

Life is a short course of choices and the ones we make can impact the others as we weave our way through myriad choices. I do not believe in right or wrong choices as much as how we act and react to those which we have made and those we decide to abandon along the way, when they no longer suit our dreams and goals.

All I'm saying is that it is my life, it is your life, and how we choose to live our lives is up to us - regardless of what we believe we have or do not have and what we feel are our barriers to our goals and successes. So walk your path with care and do not abandon your dreams too easily. Chances are some of them are just a bus ride or a ferry away.

With love and peace to each of you on the journey.

-Gillian Cornwall, Re-posted August 7, 2016
c. July 12, 2015

Salt Spring Island Arbutus
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012