Sunday, April 30, 2017


Swimming Alone, starring Gumby
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2010

I don't think there is a living soul who does not struggle with a sense of belonging at some time. 

The interesting thing with the concept of belonging is that, by its very nature, it creates a barrier - an inside and outside. There is a concept of belonging within each of our individual relationships, be they familial, friendships, lovers, sports or work teams and political affiliation. 

Unfortunately, all too often, we attach our own sense of value to our belonging within these relationships. Are we worthy? Why aren't we worthy? Why aren't we good enough? Why isn't another person good enough to belong?

What if we re-framed our attachment to others in terms of it having nothing to do with us - particularly in love relationship or team? This is where I remind us of The Four Agreements according to Don Miguel Ruiz:

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don't take anything personally.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Do your best. 

I have considered myself an outsider in all sorts of relationships and, until recently, I have put myself to blame as the cause of this. Now, I view things differently.

Perhaps I am exceptional, aka: outside the group. Perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps not fitting means that I am an explorer beyond the norm. Perhaps I have turned my focus to a different concept of belonging: that is with a universal perspective rather than a divisive perspective. I am of the world. I am one with all. My value is inconsequential. I am here. I am doing my best. I am present with each breath and gentle step on the Mother Earth. 

I will fail myself and others on days when I am hurt and petulant. I will learn, forgive myself  and keep going. 

I belong through my awareness of the perfection of Mother Earth and all that is beyond her, all of the ancestors throughout time. I am in the stream and flowing with her. Listen. Love Learn. Give. This is sufficient.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. April 30, 2017

Maui Sunset
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2014

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Signs of Life

 Gore Park, Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

Signs of life
in every sense -
to hear, to see,
to feel and taste
- the scent upon 
the ocean breeze

 Gore Park, Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

the beating heart
in the earth
below our feet

Gore Park, Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

she pushes love
through loamy skin
as camas and as clover born 

Gore Park, Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

for bees to buzz
and propagate the species

Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

each wave upon 
the pebbled shores
is yours

 Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

your blood
coursing and caressing

Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

through Spring,
for life, life
in every bird song

 Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

a call to the duty 
of your life,

Brentwood Bay, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 25, 2015

through space,
through time
- from your heart
to mine

-Gillian Cornwall, re-post: April 23, 2017
Originally posted: c. April 26, 2015

Sunday, April 16, 2017


An Easter Bouquet
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 2015

Beliefs - we all have them. Our collective human history is filled with them. We base our culture and our systems on them. In some ways, they are the building blocks of our lives. They are held from perspectives - our own, that of another or our own translation of that of another.

A timely example: There is a bunny and he has a basket of eggs, sometimes chicken, sometimes chocolate, and he hides them on the Easter weekend for children to go out and discover. From this, I surmise that he can walk or hop on his hind legs. This is cool. My understanding is children get the eggs if they have been good, similar to Christmas presents. Here is some Wikipedian history of the Easter Bunny

It is Easter weekend in the Christian faith. It is Passover in the Jewish faith. Later this month it is Ridvan for those of the Baha'i faith. There is a great deal of belief, faith and wonder in humanity. I like that. I like the variety of our ways of being and I can find peaceful joy in our differences. 

"Peaceful joy in our differences" why are there wars fought over who has it all right? Do we need so desperately to believe our way is the right way, the only way? I feel that my greatest knowing comes through listening and learning and making informed decisions as I walk my path. The way of knowing is not a still pond but a flowing river. My beliefs have changed over the years and I have not felt the need to hold fast to one way. I do not need a head nod from another, an " I agree with you. We believe the same thing." 

Does it feel good to share belief with another? Absolutely. Whether it is spiritual, or about the benefits of the practice of Qigong or the foods I eat, I love it when I find another who likes what I like. It gives one a sense of camaraderie and belonging; however, it is through difference that I learn and grow. I am not a stagnant being. I am amorphous and in motion. I want to challenge my beliefs which are largely based on those of my culture, my people, my history and the stories I have been told. 

I am amazed when people are adamant with me that I have to do Yoga - even after I explain that it does not feel good to me. I have been to a number of classes and it just doesn't suit my body. In fact, it hurts. On the other hand, Qigong strengthens me and provides a great sense of well-being. It works for me. I am delighted for the people who have found what they need through Yoga and I'm glad I had the opportunities to try it, but why would I continue if it is not for me? Is it to make others feel that they are right in their choice? Of course they are; they have found that which works for them, as have I. Neither activity hurts nor diminishes the other; they are just different. Can it not be this way with all difference? Can we not just listen, explore and celebrate one another with an absence of harm? I am probably over-simplifying, but I would love it if we could live and let live. 

I wish you each kindness, respect, peace, love, compassion and joy, no matter your beliefs and choices. Let us all try to care for one another and our planet. 

-Gillian Cornwall, April 16, 2017
Original post, c. April 5, 2015

 Different Ways of Being - Tulips
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2008

Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Life of Words

The Garden Gate -West Saanich, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

Some days it comes more easily than others, this business of writing. There are days when the pages fill as though the lines of the story are forming queues in my mind, awaiting their turn to travel from my brain down my neck, across my shoulder and down my arm and through my hand where they travel down a river of black ink in my eco-friendly pen and out through the minuscule opening onto the pages of my notebook. Imagine them as workers awaiting the subway at rush hour or as foot passengers, anxiously awaiting the opening of the single lane gate to board the BC ferry to the mainland. They are players on the sideline at the football match: ready, trained and poised to do their part to bring the game to an acceptable result. I'm sure you get the drift. 

Conversely, there are times aplenty when the story plays a game of hide and seek: the words, the plot, the reason is out there, or in here, somewhere, evading my search. Perhaps I wasn't clear about the boundaries for the game and the words have run over hill and dale, escaped across a border for which I do not hold a current passport. Just as easily, there is a chance they are around the next corner, down the hall, giggling under a pile of coats in the hall closet, holding back a sneeze born on a whiff of mothballs and dust. 

This week has held both experiences for me, as is often the case; nonetheless, I will write. I write. I have written. This is my path, my need, my feed, my breath. It is not choice. Whether parading the queue out in orderly fashion or letting it spill out in chaos, whether stumbling over hidden roots, far from home in a forest previously uncharted and unknown as darkness gathers, this is what I do. 

I love it. It is my closest companion and the conduit between me and the world. It is possibility and passion, fear and triumph. It is Peter Pan and Captain Hook, wine and water. It matters to me and I hope you can tell.

I am grateful to you for playing alongside me. Thank you for reading and expressing your thoughts. I hope it brings you something: inspiration, thought or learning. You are integral in this process. Thank you for sharing your time with me here, for walking beside me each week. 

If you have ever wanted to write, I hope you do it. Pick up a pen and scratch the surface. Keep digging - the treasure is there. If you require a nudge or an all-out shove, consider a course offered at a community centre or a school. Pick up one or two of the many books available. I turn to courses and books as often as I can when I need a push back to my desk. Here are a few of the guides that help me reset my bearings:

 Happy reading and writing. Enjoy the journey.

***Please sign up for the RSS feed if you would like notification of my posts sent to your email. See "Subscribe - Posts" at the bottom of this page. Thanks.***

-Gillian Cornwall, re-posted April 9, 2017
Originally posted, c. April 6, 2014

Russell's Rare Books
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

Sunday, April 02, 2017

A Woman of No Nation

On the way to Stow on the Wold
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

I am a woman with her feet each on two different islands with a continent and an ocean between. I am alone, singular. I belong to no-one and I have few people near. My life lacks an embedded continuity and I have never "fit in." I have rarely had a sense of belonging and now look to it only as a sense of place in the universe, for belonging must mean that there are borders - an inside and an outside. Someone must always be outside and that causes pain.

Being in romantic relationships with women for the majority of my adult life has not always been a fabulous experience. I have been ostracized and harmed by people outside of my relationships and I have felt insufficient from within them. Many women in female / female relationships within my age group suffered harm if they came out at a young age or, by appearance, didn't meet the expectations and demands of the hetero-normative people in their lives - mostly males, though oppressed straight women also became oppressors because of hetero-normative socialization and their fear of repercussion from oppressive males in their lives. In the early days, male-female roles were predominant in lesbian and gay relationships though I never understood why we would buy into the same restrictive gender socializations experienced in heterosexual lifestyle. I used to cringe when people would ask, "Which one of you is the man?" ....seriously. Between all of that and being beaten, sexually assaulted, had work taken away for no reason but my identity, lost promotion for no reason but my identity, and generally considered as "less than" for not being with men and not bearing children has left me, at the very least, tired and worn. I am grateful for where I work now. It is the safest I have ever felt as an adult in the workplace.

I am single these days and I have a greater sense of peace in myself. In relationship, I inevitably feel as though I am letting the person down and I feel less than adequate to both my own and a partner's expectations. These are definitely not blame statements as I take complete responsibility for my choices and my own happiness and misery. I always have been responsible for my own emotions and feelings; however, all the relationships throughout our lives can complicate our personal sense of justice and conflate our sense of wrong-doing. My inability to be a good partner, largely arises from the PTSD I live with as a result of the harm done to me throughout my life. It has very little impact on my work ability but a significant impact on my personal life and my ability to meet the expectations of a partner.

I think I am a good friend though I think my honesty costs me and I have learned, and continue to learn, to temper that honesty with kindness.

Sometimes I feel sad and angry because of the oppression, violence, discrimination and terror I have faced in being a woman who has loved other women ... and, really, simply because I am a woman. It has taken a great deal away from me. A person cannot be violently attacked multiple times and have it not leave a mark.

I think that the painful aspects of my history are, in part, that which has taken away my desire for any kind of sexual identity/orientation. I still get punished for who I am and that harm is actually acknowledged less, because people think everything is all rainbows and lollipops now. The truth is, the haters and oppressors remain; they are just more clever with their oppression because they know that laws have changed out of their favour. They continue to punish others for not being like them, but they make it impossible to prove. So I relinquish the part of me that gets hated - my sexuality - though they will still hate me because they see that I don't want them. I am not gay. I am not straight. I am not, well, anything. I am of no use to them. I suppose I am a threat by the mere fact of my existence. Not awesome.

Many women of my age are considered to be a worthless commodity to men. As we are often no longer objectified as sexual property we are treated as worthless, we are ostracized in the workplace and, sometimes, less malleable than younger employees. Many of us would likely end up cast off to sea on an ice float if they hadn't all melted as a result of corporate greed/climate change. (Funny? ...not funny.)

I suppose some of you may read this and think I am a sad thing. I am not so. More often, I am less sad than I have been in quite some time. I am throwing off some of the burdens and expectations of my youth. Perhaps you think I need counselling - who doesn't? I have had decades of it and will likely continue to do so. If I still had a permanent job, I could afford it.

Perhaps one day I will choose to have some sort of love-like relationship, but I don't need to worry about that right now.

I need to continue to work - hopefully until retirement age - and I will spend my time away from work making art and writing stories and enjoying the companionship of a few friends who bother to keep in touch. I will probably feel a bit lonely at times but who doesn't feel lonely at times, regardless of their relationship status.

Find your peace. Find your joy. Be kind. Speak your truth. Feed your body with clean water and clean food. Be content in each beautiful moment of this gift of life. Try to remember that you are loved and essential to the universal energy of all and that you are a whole, perfect being on each step of your journey. This is what I tell myself. Most days I can get on with it, others just beat me down. Social media is chock-a-block with fictionalized "positivity." The fact is, at times, all of our lives are hard bloody slogging. For those of you who feel this is true, I hope it brings you some solace to know that I see you; I get it and I care. 

Hopefully reading this won't send you into a deeper despair; rather, I hope it lifts you up to know there are others who are finding it brutally hard at times, are saying so and hanging on for the good bits that inevitably come because science and statistics dictate the balance. Later today, I will go outside for a bit of a walk, likely alone, but I'll go. I'll do it because I know it will be beautiful out there. There are blossoms on the trees and wee birds and squirrels busy with Spring. I will pick up a few groceries and walk home. For today, that will bring me joy. I will smile at someone who looks sad or worried and hope that it helps to lift their spirits. That will be enough. You, you are enough. You always have been. 

With love to each of you. 

Gillian Cornwall, c. April 2, 2017

The Heavens
G. Cornwall, c. 2015.