Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Rain Coast

 Rhododendron Spring - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2007

I thought it might be nice to have a taste of Spring through this wee poem. Here, in Victoria, BC, the snow drops have popped up and buds are appearing on the trees. By February, the plum and cherry blossoms will begin their annual extravaganza of blossoms and sweet-scented confetti, twirling and dancing from the branches on the Spring breezes, to the grass and pavement below. I hope you enjoy the poem:

Every lick of colour
sopping springtime blooms
wet paint in every green
fills the canvas of my town

Splotching pinkest pinks
Camellia upon Camellia
the fair flower that leaps whole
to the grassy bed below

Rhododendrons grow as trees here
floral monsters in pastel
a million pink and purple tongues 
catching raindrops from the sky

Now I lay me down among you
on this verdant, spongy ground
raincoat and gumboot clad
wash me clean into this land

-Gillian Cornwall, January 29, 2016
Originally Posted, c. June 1, 2014

Territory of the Lekwungen speaking people
Vancouver Island, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. May 2015

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Looking for Respect
Photo by Jodi McLean - c. 2014

It's rare as hen's teeth, is respect, particularly when it comes to the interactions between everyday folks. North Americans, in particular, seem to have this wacky idea that famous people deserve adoration and respect, simply because they are famous. 

Don't get me wrong, fame often takes skill in ones field and luck ...sometimes just luck. 

The thing I don't understand is that we won't respect our neighbour who gets up at 5 every morning to go serve breakfast to the homeless then goes to Wild Arc to look after injured wildlife because he smells funny or doesn't have nice clothes or isn't privileged enough to have a post secondary education but we will idolize someone who has a nice voice and a team of people to help them sell a million copies of a song they didn't necessarily write or an actor who moved us in a particular role he or she played. I'm not saying these folks might not deserve respect, but why are we lifting them higher than everyone else?

What the blazes is wrong with us, people? How does a hateful person end up leading a country? There are many other than the "T word" (wont even say his name) around the world who have been horrific leaders over the centuries and generations. 

Why do we not lift one another up rather than tear one another down in fear?

What is it in us that makes us believe that folks are supposed to look and dress a certain way in order to be considered good people or people deserving of our attention, kindness and respect?

If my Grandma were alive, she would be appalled. She came up through life with little. She sat ram rod straight in her chair with pride - and respect for goodness - all the days of her life. At ninety-something she chased a thief from her flat. She was treated poorly as a wife and was a strong and loving mother. She worried for her grandchildren and was proud as heck of each of us. She had disdain for abusive men and refused to fall despite the hurts. 

We need to respect more grandmas. We definitely need to lift up women, the givers of life, and honour them for their abilities and strength, regardless of false fame or lack thereof.

Get a grip people. Don't be led by shiny things; they won't necessarily make you rich. 

Love your mother. Love your mother earth. Respect the givers of life.


-Gillian Cornwall, c. January 22, 2017

Oak Bay, Vancouver Island
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fuel the Positive

Fernwood Car
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014

Let us, for a moment, imagine that we will take the full force of human insecurity to fuel positive acts toward others instead of placing the energy behind our insecurities into tearing down those around us - as many of us have done at some time in our lives.

Unable to raise ourselves up through positive thought and action, we raze rather than raise the folks with whom we are surrounded. This is neither an effective nor sustainable practice.

Why, if it serves no purpose, do we debase ourselves or others? This is not the same as self-effacement. It is not an act of humility. The motivators behind our behaviours are extensive: cultural, familial, gender-based, perhaps simply because we are accustomed to doing it. It may be the result of a history of abuse, war or trauma. 

Today I offer a challenge: Focus on something good within you, something positive and life-affirming. Find a way to share that light in you with another and give it in a way that raises and lights the path of a friend or a stranger. Do it simply because you can. 

Believe in yourself. Believe in another. Watch the ripples of self-love and love of another flow out endlessly. This is our power to live and share and make a positive impact.

Live well. Live with intention.
Gillian Cornwall, January 15, 2017.
Original Post, c. July 27, 2014.

Gillian Cornwall, July 2014

Sunday, January 08, 2017

The Authentic Self

Self Portrait on the train to Somerset
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

The Authentic Self recognizes the face in the mirror. One tries to stare back at that image with kindness, acceptance, celebration and love. 

Why is that so difficult for us - to say to ourselves, as we wish others to say to us:
  • "I see you
  • I hear you and
  • what you say means something to me"?
Where and when does the struggle begin? As children, many of us try to live up to our heroes - be they our parents, siblings, friends or teachers. Even as youngsters, we are taught to externalize our responsibility to ourselves onto the behaviour and ways of others. "You told me to do it!" "They made me!"

We are told there is a moral compass. We are shown what it looks like and how our behaviour relates to it and, yes, to some extent, that needs to happen. All animals learn survival skills from their packs - how to hunt through play, how to watch and how to work with others. Sometimes, we are shown how to lead. 

If everything goes well, we become adults. Then what? Most of us set our own priorities and make decisions about how we will choose to live based on our experiences of the moral compass we have known as children... OR, we entirely oppose it because we see our parents (or packs) were messed up and struggling and had no way to guide us well... OR some combination thereof (the last is probably the most likely and most common). We are all muddling through and there is no rule book that includes or fits everyone. Every single person's experience, every self, is unique.

Back to the mirror. Who do we see? Do we recognize ourselves in what is reflected back at us? If not, then what? 

I think I am describing a fairly common experience for all individuals. We all struggle with self-identity in our lives at some point and often this struggle is dependent on others opinions of what they see us to be and the box into which they are shoving us - as we kick, scream and rail against it - feeling misunderstood and powerless. If we protest, we are generally ostracized further for not "getting along with others" and simply accepting the way things are. To not fit others notions of ourselves is an affront to our communities - be they work, social or familial. 

"Why can't you just get along? Why do you have to be so contrary?"

Ah, there is the rub! The authentic self struggles against the tide of perception, the tide of ordered thought and labels. There remains no room to grow, think, change or become in the ruled and ordered society. There remains a compass on how we must look, behave, speak and feel. There is value set on people based on their fiscal worth rather than their ability to reinvent themselves,to allow themselves to grow and become daily. 

"Lie down."

These commands are not a recipe for the authentic self. Religious precepts of what is good and right and what is bad and wrong dictate our acceptability and worth and take away our accountability by telling us we are less than and fallible - and fallible is bad because there does exist perfection in an unattainable being. ...So how do we learn? How do we err? How do we learn gentleness and forgiveness if the authentic self is not given space to fall, to accept the fall, to heal and to integrate that experience into personal growth? How is it that we are not perfect for simply walking our paths as best we can and taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions?

The authentic self is amorphous. I wish for my authentic self to have a core of kindness, acceptance and the desire to lift up others and say, in all honesty, "I see you. I hear you. What you say means something to me." 

I try to do this. I succeed at it daily and I fail at it daily. I am growing, changing, falling and getting up again. I am learning strength and a wealth of ability to say no to the labels. I reject unkindness and try very hard to forgive it - in myself and others. 

The authentic self I want to see in the mirror strives to understand that the picture is always changing. I am no Dorian Gray. I embrace the change and mourn the loss of youth while celebrating the blessings of aging - for not aging is a far worse alternative as it means an end of days to this great blessing of life - the heavenly gift of each breath and the chance to learn, love and embrace the miracle of change and growth. 

My authentic self is immeasurable, connected to all and a conduit for the universal flow of energy. It IS the universal flow of energy. We ARE the universal flow of energy. The authentic self is unique and the same as all else. We are an embodiment of the cheer of the Three Musketeers: All for One and One for All

Praise yourself. Be accountable for your actions. Do not look to the gods for forgiveness nor hope and do not judge others on their unique paths. Realize that right here and right now, it (you) is all on you. You always have choice - perhaps not always in the experience, but at least in your response to it. Lead. Follow. Right. Left. It is all up to you. 

In all truth, I write this for myself - perhaps to hold myself accountable. To remember my perceived failings and re-frame them into lessons. I write it to share my thoughts, in the hope that it may spark thought elsewhere and may lead to connection with others as we walk our unique paths on our journey to self-love and love for others. 

Gillian Cornwall, revised and re-posted, January 8, 2017
Originally posted c. January 31, 2016

After the bloom, the beauty remains
Gillian Cornwall, c. September, 2015

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Time To Breathe

A moment in Lady Chapel at Glastonbury Abby, completed in 1186 or 1187
Video and voice by Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

I don't feel any damn different than yesterday, you know, 2016 - that random number of years made up since blah,blah, blah and the random number of hours in a day, blah, blah, blah. 

You see, the thing is, it's just one more way that we have built time and opportunity to judge and compare one external thing against another. I think I would just as soon not know how old I was, not have years to hold up next to the previous or the one coming - all these things that keep me out of the now and remind me that in 3 months I don't have a job anymore or that I am still held hostage by PTSD or that it is likely that more of my path lies behind me in this life than ahead. You see, it's all going to unfold no matter how we mark it. Every day, even the hardest ones, I remember that I am on the right side of the grass. There is opportunity for positive energy to occur - whether it is something that brings me benefit or benefit to another. On my worst day, just maybe there is a small act of service I can perform for another that will shift the universal energy to the positive - something to cause a ripple or a refraction of light and love that will bounce its way around the globe. Maybe that is always enough.

I do not enjoy New Year's Eve. I don't enjoy all the drunk amateur revellers who use it as an excuse to get pissed up and have a good cry, a good punch up or a good yell outside my home at 3 a.m.. I would like to be more compassionate about this sort of thing since I've been that person in my younger days but it just irritates me because it seems like such a waste and they are all going to feel like hell today. 

Frankly, today it all just seems absurd to me. Imagine life without a calendar, a life without running ourselves up against everything and everyone else everyday. Whenever I have had the privilege and luxury to step out of my workaday life and go away knowing I had a job to come back to, like my trips to the UK and Hawaii that lasted a full month (yet another measure of time), I managed to leave time behind and be present in each moment. It is astounding how long time seems when I do this. Days and nights stretch on because they are not being held responsible. I am able to be where I am, doing what I am doing, without the stricture of routine and measurement. 

All I find I want as we head into this "new year" is more of this whole "time" thingy. I want to stop without worrying that I will end up homeless in 3 months. I want to write more so I can be really good at it, as best as I can get. I want to draw way more pictures. there are so many more stories and pictures inside me. It's kind of tragic being an artist because you don't get paid much to be that - society does not value it as a necessity and will not pay for it. So, I work at a job so I can pay the bills and use the time I do have available to me to draw and write and try to maintain any friendships that I haven't already lost through being kind of broken. If I can get my novel published and I win the novel lottery in JK Rowlings fashion, I may be able to retire from the regular workforce and draw and write to my heart's content. I can't bank on that though so I will finish the novel because I want to, because it is worth it to me and it is something I can create regardless of how good or crap it may be. 

Let it be said though, that I am making the most of it all regardless of my fortunes. I write to you every week, dear readers, I draw (a great deal more that most) and I still have work, a home, food and friends and no-one is dropping bombs on me. I have it way better than 90 percent of the global population.

I have been radically changed by this onset of PTSD, post lay-off. I function just fine out in the world but it's taken a great deal away from me - sleep, relationship, physical strength, the list goes on, BUT, I am still here and grateful for the "time" and opportunity to create beauty. 

I wish the same opportunity for you - the chance to be, with all the basics covered: food, personal safety, shelter, people to care about and who care about you and, finally, chances to discover and learn and grow. 

It's a new breath. Celebrate that and enjoy it. The next one will likely come no matter what you do so let's all try to stop worrying about it and just be, together. 

However you choose to mark the passage of life, I wish you a journey with love and light. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. January 1, 2017 (so they tell me..)

Overlooking London from Hampstead Heath
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015