Sunday, February 26, 2017

You Are the Gift

Spring in Victoria
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

Have you ever worked your hardest at something and been over the moon excited to deliver it, only to receive little or no response or a different response than the one for which you had hoped?

Have you ever felt terribly dejected and hopeless, wanting to throw in the towel, certain you had failed, that you made no difference or impact whatsoever even though you had given it your all?

It's a disappointment, a debilitating feeling that most of us (okay, probably all) have faced or will face at different times in our lives. For those of you out there who are carrying these feelings, whether from recent or long past disappointments, I would like you to consider this:

We may believe we have failed, been ignored, misunderstood, overlooked or pushed aside but, the fact is, most of the time we are projecting the term failure onto the truth, which is: we are unaware of the actual impact we are having as a result of our actions. Sometimes, we miss the facts because we are so focused on the fiction we have written for ourselves around our own value and impact on others. We wrap our gift, whether verbal, physical, emotional or physical, in a hyperbole of our own expectations of the reception of the gift. 

"I have given this;
therefore, I expect that."

This is a pointless exercise as we cannot control the way our gifts are received - we can only give them. The truth is, we don't always know when or how our actions and words impact others. All we can do is be kind and true in our interactions.

If you feel as though you don't make a difference in the lives of others, I can guarantee that you are mistaken. You matter. If you have ever smiled at someone - friend or stranger, held a door open for someone or even thought a positive thought about a fellow being, then you have facilitated an endless ripple effect of positive energy and opportunity throughout time and space! You matter. You are a vessel of possibility and love. You are unique and irreplaceable. 

Your capacity to see another, to lift them with a smile, to give of yourself freely without expectation of return - this is your greatest gift to the world. Never doubt for a minute that you make a difference. You may not always get the reaction you hoped you would get or the result you expected, but if you put your heart into something, that in itself makes the world better. You may not know the difference you made right there and then, but be patient. Your good works will feed you and guide you and, if you are too focused on waiting and looking in one direction for your expected outcome, you may miss a beautiful gift being delivered from another direction. 

Give the gifts of yourself with a good heart. Do not worry about how they are received as that is beyond your control. Trust in your value as a loving person. Give what you are free to give and let go. 

I dedicate this to all those who suffer from anxiety and worry that they are somehow insufficient, not producing enough, or not succeeding enough, or not giving enough. I see your kind hearts and you are enough. Wishing you love and hoping I offer some light along your paths. 

Gillian Cornwall, February 26, 2017
-original post, c. March 29, 2015

From sky to tree to sea
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Be Brilliant, Bold and Mitigate Expectations

Maui - North Shore
Oil Pastel on Paper | Approx. 8"x 10"
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

I originally posted this piece in 2014. I wanted to reflect on it from my perspective today. I hope it gives something to you too: 

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 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 need to go with this. 

Hopev. want something to happen or be the case 

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

Expectv. 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 measurement of the value of your action. If your intent is for the positive, if your action comes from a place of love rather than 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 you have never imagined. 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 applause or judgement. Walk your path for the journey, for the delight and learning of life. I'll see you along the way. 

May we have less fear and more love on each of our paths. That which we hold too tightly will only result in loss. The tighter we try to hold on to that which we have, the more likely it is to slip through our fingers to where there is room for it to be without pressure. Let go. Don't buy into the fear. May we make more decisions out of love and less out of fear. Wishing each of you some freedom in letting go of fear. Share what you have if you can give it freely and without expectation of return on investment - other than the good feeling of having given something. Avoid resentment. It is toxic and will poison your well-being. 

Be well and live with as much freedom as you can and, to all the folks that keep shining in their brilliance, thank you for your light. 

-Gillian Cornwall, February 19, 2017
Original post, August 24, 2014

Surf - Oil Pastel on Paper 
Approx. 8" x 10"
Gillian Cornwall, c. 1988

Sunday, February 12, 2017

You are Whole

Love - in each creation - perfection
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

Okay, so here's the deal, as I see it:

You need no one to make you whole; you are perfectly complete and amazing as you are. If one should enter your world to love you, and you to love them, it should only add to your already complete capacity to live your unique life. If another person depletes you over an extended period, it may not be the best course of action for either of you. If you add to the life of each other, support one another and accept one another as you were found, then jolly good!

The fact is, we needn't pair up. We can if we want to, but we cannot be completed by another. I reiterate, each of us is a whole and perfect being on our own particular path of life. As I wrote to my soul sister, the remarkable Sheila Jeffries, the other day:

"Happy Valentines Day to everyone who can feel their heart beating within their chest - each rhythmic thump is a wave of love out to the world as a gift from you to the perfect universal unity that exists within, and between, each of us ...if we just allow it to be so."

Life is opportunity to embrace the amazing machine, the open thermodynamic system, that you are. Life is your chance to be fluid, to let go, to stop holding and being afraid. There is enough love, enough energy for all. Let go. Let it flow through you from your connection to all that is - up through your feet and out through the top of your head. Let it rise up through the world and cycle down through the earth and up through your feet again.

Gillian Cornwall, c. Spring 2014

"There is force in the universe which, if we permit it, will flow through us and produce miraculous results." -Mahatma Gandhi

If you aren't sharing this weekend with a lover, do not worry. You are perfect. You are whole, beautiful and full of capacity. Go outside. Smile at someone. The life you may save in doing this is the greatest love you could ever share.

With every wish for your happiness, for your joy in the simple things and with love to each of you.

Gillian Cornwall, February 12, 2017

Original post, c. February 14, 2016

The Golden Heart - Mystic Vale
Gillian Cornwall, c. February 2016

Resource Material: 

Sunday, February 05, 2017


"Is this the snowflake that attacked you?"

I surrender. I'm getting out of the sandbox. I don't want to play nice. There is no way you are getting me out of my pyjamas today and, yes, I might choose to have candy for supper. 

I can definitely put the "I give in" stamp of authenticity on this day. 

I knew when I cut myself on my own pyjamas this morning that it was time to raise the white flag. Seriously? Who cuts themselves on their own pyjamas?! 

Me, that's who, so I give in for today. Unto itself, while absurd, an attack from ones own pyjama bottoms might not be enough to shut down a day, but when it is on top of an extremely stressful time that is chock-a-block with a massive dental bill that will sink me into an even deeper financial quagmire of insurmountable debt, impending unemployment, rent going up next month, no money to pay for PTSD counselling and a finished book that I have no idea how to publish, I'm feeling a little down in the dumps right now, so I say:

"Thanks for knocking the stuffing out of me, life. The snowflake bling attack by my own pyjama bottoms was the last straw! I am going undercover for the day to try to find a way forward without losing my mind." 

Yep, it was the offending snowflake captured in the mugshot above. Pyjama bling pushed me over the edge. Hand bleeding, cleaned and bandaged, I sit down to write this - not because I want you to feel sorry for me (...feel free to do so if you want, or just roll a bottle of wine into the room and leave quietly), but because I know that we all have days like this. 

We cope, we cope and we cope some more. We exercise our stiff upper lips until we could use them as shelving; however, sometimes, you just gotta give in to the chaos and do whatever it will take to get you through the moment. 

And giving in is different than giving up. I don't want to end it all. I actually want it to be better, easier, kinder and more gentle. I don't want to look at my pyjamas as a potential threat to my personal security - that kinda takes the pleasure out of pyjama day - but I do have the capacity to adjust my angle to the shit storm swirling around me. I cut the offending snowflake off my jammies. It's a shame really - it totally added to the pretty winter ambiance of the garment ...but not worth the health risk. 

I love that snowflake. I hate that snowflake. I was so happy when I bought these pyjamas. I wore them when I was taken up island to the lovely cabin for my 55th birthday. I sat in them in front of the cozy wood-burning fireplace and felt so content and special. Who knew they were plotting and preparing to turn on me at any moment. I have to believe it was an accident. Life... full of the unexpected: joy and hardship and sorrow and ease.

The pyjamas are like certain other experiences in my life. They do not intend to harm or make me suffer and yet I do suffer. Am I choosing to suffer? Yes, the cut hurts from the offending snowflake. I am astounded by the depth of the puncture it was able to make in my normally resilient hide. Was it done with malice? Was it about me at all? Of course not. Even I am not off the beam so far that I believe that. It's likely that most of the other things that have tripped me up on my path of life were not done with an intent to leave me penniless, harmed or on the streets. Yet, that has happened before and could happen again.

S**t happens all of us. Rich, poor, powerful, weak - no one is exempt. 

I sure hope I don't end up out of work and homeless. I've been there already when I was younger and it was awful. The prospect of it terrifies me. I'm too old and sore to sleep on the ground or to stay up all night so I can stay safe from attack and sleep during the day. 

I wish I could stay where I am currently working. I went into it knowing that probably wouldn't happen as I am just covering someone's leave. I love this job. I love the people with whom I work. It is the first time in my life I have felt safe enough to be myself and the first time I have felt valued for my work and not "othered" because of my identity. I am eternally grateful to my friends and colleagues for the experience and I know that I am doing a good job. They have told me so and I know because I feel valued and valuable for my skills and my work ethic. My identity doesn't come into play any further than being a good person, a kind person and a hard-working person so, of course I don't want to leave. 

Imagine feeling safe and valued for the first time in your life - feeling a part of something for the first time in your life and then potentially having to walk away from it. The prospect of it sucks. It's life. I'm grateful for the experience, hopeful that I may get to continue to have it some way and afraid of never feeling safe again if it ends. ...Not to mention, having to leave working with some of the best, most kind people I have ever known! I will carry them with me always. 

Even in writing this, I fear punishment for speaking any of the truth of my past experiences - many things we fear come from the reality of our histories; nonetheless, I suppose there comes a time when you just say what is going on for you. Without malice, without expectation for change, you just speak your truth because, like Oprah said, everyone just wants to be seen, heard and to know that what they said meant something to someone. 

Snowflake - I know you didn't mean to harm me. :-) It's all going to be okay - no matter what.

With love always,

Gillian Cornwall, c. February 5, 2017.

Dedicated to my work family. Thank you.

The pyjamas in happier times...
G Cornwall, c. December 16, 2016