Sunday, March 26, 2017

Filling the Space

Into the Light
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

I am posting this again because I know I have gone off the rails again with an inability to balance, to stop, to breathe and to pay attention where attention is due, to this gift of life. 

I eat to fill the space 
that once was filled with a whole me.
I yearn for sleep that lasts
more than 
The only way to fix me 
is to be me
and the only way
to be me 
is to take the time
to heal me -
to walk the path of wellness.
For food won't fill it, 
my mind can't simply will it.
The only way to be me
is to walk free 

...And so I step up to the mic and say, "Enough." Time is limited. It is my most limited resource and it is essential that I make the most of the time I have remaining. I am going to do what I need to best ensure I have as much time left as possible and that begins with self-care. This means moderation in consumption,  particularly food, and eating fresh, local goods - way fewer packaged comestibles. It means making gentle exercise a priority and re-embracing Qi Gong as a daily practice in my life. It means caring less about the meanness that exists in our world - and by meanness, I am using the English definition of the word ...because I am English.... Definition: "lack of generosity; miserliness." 

I will breathe deeply and be present. I will say what I need and give it to myself, such as: "Time to write please!" 

There is only one way to get what we need and that is to create a kind and loving space for it. Take time to consider how we work and what we do and whether it is of value. Are we performing a task simply because we always have, or is there still a need or a positive impact from that labour? If not, let's chuck it! There is time for other pursuits if we look for it creatively. Prioritizing how we spend our time is essential to the level of joy we have in our lives. 

So, I organize to make the time to create the time to have more time. Yes, I am able to see the first world entitlement and irony here.... When did I complicate my life like this and how do I re-take the reins? 

Attention. Attention to the moments, the days, the weeks, the months and years. Attention to how I utilize and create during the time I do have and a sound belief that I have the right and the autonomy to choose.

In this season of rebirth and renewal, take a look at how your time is spent. Be creative and make space for your exceptional individuality to shine and grow. Your greatest successes and inspirations will come when you make space for them to grow. Like all the flora and fauna of the earth, you will blossom with the right amounts of space, time, nourishment and sunlight. 

With love to each of you. 

-Gillian Cornwall, March 26, 2017
Originally posted, c. March 27, 2016

Chickadee Spring, The Warrens Garden, Brentwood, BC 
Gillian Cornwall, c. Spring 2015

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Light Unfolds from the Winter Darkness
Gillian Cornwall, c. March 2016

This Spring, let go. Put down that which is not yours to carry. This is the season of renewal and rebirth - a chance to reinvent yourself. You owe no debt of servitude to another soul. You are unique and whole and perfect on your path. Respect all women for they are the life-givers and must be celebrated for their strength and capacity (which is immeasurable and perfect).

Tread lightly on the Mother Earth for she is the provider of all of your needs for life. Be patient and kind, mostly with yourself, and your patience and kindness with others will come naturally from this prescription. 

There is life to be lived. Go outside. Breathe into your belly. Remember that you are uniquely and infinitely connected to all through your dantian: your centre of life and energy. Participate in your life; celebrate it. Don't just watch the lives of others on the television. 

I write this as it flows through me. I hear this in my  ear, in my heartbeat and through this universal energy I call soul. 

May we embrace the Spring and burst forth into this season of our lives in all of our epic, unique beauty.

Gillian Cornwall, March 19, 2017
c. March 20, 2016

Gillian Cornwall, c. March 2016

Sunday, March 12, 2017

On Writing

Russell's Books
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

"Show me!" I beg the page. I coax it forth with my pen, massaging word upon word unto the paper or, hands hovering over the keys as though it were some mystical Ouija Board, spiriting the truth from the world beyond. 

"I believe you!" This is what I say to the universal energy, for whom I am made the conduit of my stories. For it cannot be me, can it, that writes this stuff, when the rare gems issue forth? I am not swathed with approval from an institution issuing degrees of ability and confidence. I have a diploma in recreation from a community college and a life's worth of books travel through me, intertwined with the path I have walked through this life. From this, I learn and write.

I have decided my way must be baccalaureate enough for me. The late Richard Wagamese, who passed on March 11, 2017 - just yesterday, as I write this - spoke of his life as a writer when receiving the 2015 Matt Cohen Award. Watch it here. He captures it perfectly. He speaks of his formal education ending at Grade 9, but says this: 

"The only thing I have taken is the open opportunity that lay between the covers of a book." 

We read and we read more and we live our lives and we reflect upon our experiences and we engage with the artistry of the writers we admire and we learn and our writing grows and we create our own way of storytelling combined with the gift that flows through us. I must only be willing and present and open to that aspect of the process. 

To me, books are hope and connection. They are solace and friendship. They are meditation and encouragement. My novel is very close to completion. I suppose I will begin the task of contacting agents. I really have no idea how one goes about all of this but I will wade into the water and keep swimming. 

I dedicate this post to the late Richard Wagamese. It is not just his books that inspire me - I am quite new to his work, though they do inspire me, especially now as I read through Embers, but it is the man himself, as well, for not stopping his work at the absence of formal education, for not making excuses, for his ability to lift up all of those around him as he does so well in his Matt Cohen Awards speech. He wrote and he wrote well and his stories live inside us all.  

Rest well, Richard. May the next chapter fill you up the way you have filled us and brought us together through your stories. Thank you for your many gifts. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. March 12, 2017

The Heavens
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

International Women's Day

Still Running with the Wolves
Photo by T. Fitch / concept by G. Cornwall, September 2016

I couldn't have been more than seven or eight when I pulled a David Carradine and kung fu kicked the adult front tooth clean out of the mouth of a teenage neighbour boy for sneering at me and telling me I wasn't supposed to be playing in my own fenced-in backyard without a shirt on because I was a girl and girls, after all, were inappropriate at any age if they were found playing, shirtless.

I had already had enough of being made different by others for not doing what was expected of me and not looking as I was expected to look as a girl. Of course, by that age, I had already experienced numerous sexual assaults so I already had a "gloves off" attitude toward males by eight years old. Self-defence was my only recourse in that age of "don't tell" and I felt I would have been blamed and shamed had I told. The one time I did tell as a child, it did not serve me well. Admittedly, my violence toward this particular teenage boy stemmed out of my fear and frustration from previous attacks. He took the result of all of my pent up rage at being ridiculed for something so pure and simple as playing outside with the pleasure of the warmth of the summer sun on my child's chest.

Flash forward almost fifty years. The erosion, the constant wearing away and demeaning of my pure spirit, my strong and good woman's body, the body that still gets the once over on the days I wear my jeans and check shirt rather than one of my dresses or skirts and dare to enter the public restroom, is still happening. It never stopped happening. The barrage of comments and the threat I've been to others through my very existence persists. The insult of my way of being, felt by many males, keeps my existence under constant threat of violence and my behaviour checked for fear of repercussion.

I cannot count the number of times when I identified as a woman who loves women that I was told, "What a waste," the number of times I have told my truth of being flashed, beaten, intimidated and discriminated against and lost out on employment because of how I was born, only to be met with an eye roll or "You need to let go of it," or "Oh, just get over it," never having it acknowledged as unconscionable damage and trauma that needs a federal apology because we have not been treated with the common decency the human rights act should provide. Where is our damn apology let alone compensation for the price we have paid physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially?!

Is it better now?
Yeah, some. Is it perfect? Hell, no. Does it need to be made right with the truths told and heard and an apology made? Damn right it does!

 None of us are less than for the way we are made. We should be held up in our difference and loved for our unique way of seeing without having to mutilate our bodies and spirits to fit in.

Many colourful threads woven together make strong cloth.

Men, if a woman doesn't fit your idea of what a woman should be, get the hell over it. That should be your counselling bill, not hers. Get over your entitlement to every woman's body and way of being. It's 2017. We are neither your chattels nor your puppets. Learn. Grow. Challenge yourselves to be better and to do better.

Women. Do what you do for you. Don't buy into the BS. If we stand together, it will aid our freedom. Your beauty has its strength and truth in your spirit, not in the way you are viewed by men.

You are love, just as you are. You are equal to your power as life-bringers, protectors and teachers. The man behind the curtain with all of the perceived power is a brute, a liar and a coward.

The cost to me for a lack of basic human rights protections has been epic. So don't tell me, "oh, isn't it great now," because: a) it's not that great and b) there needs to be, at minimum, a national apology for the harm done. 

Even the act of writing this is another risk to my well-being and so many people will just say that we should be quiet and hide ourselves so no more bad happens, but it is just not true. Bad things will happen anyway, but healing cannot begin until the truth is spoken, heard and acknowledged by the perpetrators and that means everyone who stands by, unscathed and silent, complicit. 

I believe the stats indicate one in three women are victims of violence; however, I venture that, if one woman is harmed, we are all harmed. If you have been harmed, please reach out to professional resources near you. There are worldwide organizations and local groups run by women for women to assist you. Please do all you can to stay connected and to know that it is not your fault and that you are deserving of love, a life of freedom and respect. 

March 8, 2017 is International Women's Day. #BeBoldForChange. Acknowledging this and using it as a day to learn, expand your views, challenge misogyny and inequality of the sexes (I will not say gender as that is just a social construct made up to enforce inequality). Use it as a launching point. Listen to women who have been harmed and acknowledge it without trying to wipe away the pain with a harmful phrase like "But isn't it better now?" Try using that phrase in your mind when you think of any systemic harm done. We MUST recognize what has come to pass for generations and own it in order to move forward in a good way. 

I hope you will use March 8 as a place from which to step forward in a good way - with recognition of what has happened and the harm it has done, what has changed, what we can do today to make positive change and what we want to do to make the future safer for every girl on her path to a healthy, strong, equal womanhood. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. March 5, 2017