Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Gift of Evergreen

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

peaceful moments
senses heightened

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

-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.

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:


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! 

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.

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.

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