December 31, 2009

* Once in a Blue Moon ......

Once in a New Year's Eve Blue Moon.

Where will I be tonight at midnight?  If I can stay awake I will be out to see if I can get a peek at the New Year's Eve Blue Moon.  The chances are not looking good, however.  The skies clouded over late today and it's pouring!

The term 'Blue Moon' has long fascinated me, and some years ago I did research to find out what it meant and where the saying "Once in a Blue Moon" came from.


The most popular current definition of a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month. A full moon occurred on December 2 and tonight's will be the second, a phenomenon that occurs every 2.5 years (the next will be in August, 2012).  But the New Year's Eve blue moon is more exceptional. The next won't occur until 2028. I wonder if I will be around to witness that one.

Enjoy your New Year's Eve!  We are having a small dinner party here at the house.  I'm looking forward to it.  Remember to take care of each other.  It's important.  Talk to you next year.

   "May you always have more than you need and everything you long for." ~ Donna Parker

* The Almighty Dollar

The Canadian Dollar is .95 to the US.  The Peso is 12.36 to the Cdn. dollar.  All in all, not a bad time to travel if I am at all concerned about the all mighty dollar.  I resent being concerned about the almighty dollar.  At some very deep level, I truly understand this is not what life is about.  However, it keeps creeping in.

Let's put it this way.  I am so very very grateful I am able to visit San Miguel.  I am grateful I am able to travel by myself.  I am grateful for this time of exploration of not only San Miguel, but of my own soul.  Time alone is such a gift in so many ways.

In the past few years I have deliberately taken a giant step back from consumerism, from the huge uncontrollable marketing machine that is every inch controlled by huge corporate America ... and now more than ever, globally.  When are we going to stop buying into it?  Interesting thought to ponder.  I have seen children with such an abundance of toys it's almost obscene.  How can a child learn to appreciate or value anything?  This entire topic actually fascinates me.  It will be interesting to see how we evolve as we become more conscious of being 'green'.  Perhaps some positive changes will come out of this. The fact that charitable organizations turn donations away because they have too much "stuff" is an interesting and fairly new concept.  Even the homeless no longer 'freeze to death' from lack of warm clothing.  Not in this Province anyway. Warm clothing is available.  This is new.

As women, the market targets us.  We are the shoppers.  We are the most vulnerable.  It would be lovely to teach our young women this is not where our core values are best placed.  I agree, it's wonderful to look our best.  It's wonderful to have nice things.  It's fun to follow the trends.  However, when we can't walk into our closets because they are so jam packed with clothing .... I think perhaps we should stand back and take a good look.  What do we really need.  How many pairs of shoes can we wear at one time????  Advertising is so huge these days.  Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded by images, words, sounds, sites and smells.  They have targeted all of our senses.  If we are not aware, we are sucked right in.  As consumers, we are consumed by it!

Interesting topic.  Personally, at this moment in my life, I would much rather 'do' than 'have' or indeed 'acquire'.  Exploring new genres, travel, researching new topics of interest, new projects, new friends, old friends, finding out who I really am in relation to the world around me is much more fun than buying 'stuff'.  I suspect this is how we evolve.

It's late.  I still have things which must be done tonight.  Tomorrow, I have a couple of errands.  After that I will get down to some serious packing.  Packing always stresses me!!  I never know what to take.  I end up taking it ALL.  I am determined not fall into this old pattern for this journey.  Any suggestions??????  There must be a system, a packing formula I could develop which would be very simple and thus, no stress ... only happy happy me!  That would be miraculous!  Worth thinking about.  Who else has trouble knowing what to take ... especially when I'm going for three months .... HELP!

"So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave?" 

December 30, 2009

* Slaughter the Wild Mustangs????

H  E  L  L  O!!!!!!!!!!  Is ANYONE home?????  The Department of Land Management in the good old USA has rounded up 33,000 wild mustangs of the American Northwest and is holding them in facilities awaiting slaughter.    Have we not learned a damn thing?  Are we still really that ignorant????  Is the Age of Aquarius only a myth?  I guess so.  It seriously amazes me that the human race, as far as we are deemed to have come, are still of the belief we can control Mother Nature!  Yep .. it's all about EGO.  It's all about --- "Look at us --- we can make things better!  Watch us FIX IT.  See how smart we are.  Watch us build our little empires." Well, I've got news for you!  Watch the ripple effect!  Watch what this sort of control will bring on in years to come! Putting Mother Nature out of balance by our own hand is not a wise move.  I could give you lots of stats to back that up, however, I won't bother.  This is my blog, and that's my opinion.

The mustang issue is news which I, as a Canadian, was not aware of.  It has been going on for some time now.  In their infinite wisdom, powers that be have rounded up these beautiful wild animals, put them in holding facilities, and are now wondering where the money is going to come from to feed them.  Gosh!  No money!  Let's kill them.  Why the hell were they rounded up to begin with????  DUH!!  Does no one in power have any vision?  Does no one anticipate the repercussions of their actions 20-30-100 years down the road?  These 'powers that be' evidently didn't think even two years down the road on this one.  Where are the visionaries?   Not here, obviously.

Enough!  Clearly, I am raving.  It has angered me.

I have a friend in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  His name is Robert Kelly.  I studied art with him at the Ryder Studio School  Another story.  Suffice it to say he is an incredible artist and an even more incredible photographer.  He is now participating in the evolving story of these magnificent horses. WARNING:   Robert's photography may cause your heart to beat wildly.  It may take your breath away.  It will definitely allow you to be in 'that moment' when the shutter clicks.  You will want to visit his web site at  Take the journey with him.  Take a cup of coffee with you and enjoy.

Meanwhile back to the mustangs.  I'd like you to meet some of them ....


So, ..... let's get behind this movement!!!!  No money, No horses!!  Let's obliterate 33,000 of them!!!  They are such a nuisance.  We, in our infinite wisdom, can and will ultimately add to the list of the extinct.  Be proud!  Let's get a feel for blood!  Let's feed our need for control!!!  It will make for a kinder, gentler, human race.  It will be wonderful for our children and our grandchildren to witness.  Let's foster more violence, upheaval and chaos.  You bet ... this sort of thing is good for our Spiritual Growth!  .... OK, so I'm raving again!  I don't suppose this is an appropriate moment to quote the popular country song title, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy"?? .... ah, I digress yet again!

So let's take a quiet moment.  Cast your eyes upon these animals and tell me they are not meant to be on this planet. Tell me they have no purpose. Tell me you know for sure there are too many of them. Tell me we have 'the right' to make these decisions.

Recommendation:  Remove responsibility of the mustangs from the Department of Land Development.  Return responsibility to The Department of Mother Nature, where it belongs.  Allow Mother Nature to manage them.  She knows her job. 

Now, let's discuss terrorism ..... over and out .....

"I have often been asked why do I like horses so much. Look into one's eyes. There you will see generations of horses who have served the human for thousands of years faithfully for nothing in return, beaten horses, starved hoses, horses who no longer pocess a sprit. They deserve to be loved and respected as much as humanly possible. Let them run free again. Let them no longer be a faithful beast, but embrace them as you would a dear friend, for they are."

NOTE:  All photographs under the copyright of Robert J. Kelly, 2009.

December 29, 2009

* What's coming in 2010? ...

Change!  I can feel it coming.  Its palpable.  What kinds of change?  Oh, I'm not psychic (well, sometimes I am) ... however I do know the Universe has a a myriad of changes in store for me this coming year.

Circumstances may indicate a move this year.  Don't know how that looks as yet.  Moving disrupts my life.  I don't particularly like it.  It takes time away from what I really want to be doing.  However, this year, it may be necessary for my well being.  The lesson may be to learn to 'be' within the chaos and 'be' OK.

My creative voice will become clearer.  I will find more of my authentic self.

More downsizing.  I still have a small storage locker.  I may tackle that this summer and get rid of half of it.  I think that's possible.

I'm moving toward a healthier body.  This will take effort on my part.  It does not come naturally to me.  My body talks to me now.  It's not happy.  It's in pain with arthritis.   My blood pressure is up.  Solution?  Stop eating bread, potatoes and butter.  All three foods definitely do not agree with me.  When I don't eat them, I feel so much better.  ....  Slowly, slowly.  Learning, learning ... slowly, slowly ... no pressure.

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."
~ Maria Robinson

December 28, 2009

* what did I learn in 2009?

I've come to the realization change is one of the constants in my life. (DUH!)  Accepting this premise has lightened everything up for me.  With the acceptance of constant change comes "letting go", a sort of comforting detachment to everything.  A knowing nothing is permanent, nothing belongs to me - I am simply a caretaker.

I have released many things about myself and my life which don't serve me well.  I'm learning the more I let go, the easier it gets.  Simplify.  Simplify.

Downsizing of my earthly goods has been a huge exercise in letting go.  It feels cathartic.  It feels cleansing.  I'm learning what is important to me, and what is just 'stuff'.

I've moved again this year.  I've left my home and rented it out.  I've taken up residence in a very small walk out lower level.  I learned I need a place of my own.  I'm learning I need space.  I'm learning I require light.

A very old and dear friend from Australia was here for five weeks this summer.  I learned how much I love my friends.  I learned I need to have fun.  I learned I need people around me.

I've moved forward in the Flying Solo department.  I've taken short journeys by myself this year and enjoyed it.  I can have dinner alone in a lovely restaurant and not get a pit in my stomach.  I'm learning to love myself.  I'm learning to be alone and not be lonely.  This is one of the biggest life lessons I have.  It simply keeps repeating itself over and over and over.  .... baby steps!  I am 'getting it'.  Perhaps once I have a 'Ka Ching' moment with this lesson, I will find my tribe again.

I am learning, slowly, slowly, baby step by baby step to get out of my own way!!!  The obstacles are usually in my head, not on the path!

I've learned I cannot live in a high rise.  I must walk out onto the earth.  I need a little garden.  I need to feed the birds.

I've learned I need to create.  Creating completes me.  It's part of my purpose.  How it all fits together, I'm not sure yet.  What I know for sure?  It's a need, not a want.

I'm searching for and discovering my creative voice, little by little.  I've learned it must be expressed.  Not expressing my creativity makes me ill.   Still learning how this all works.

I've learned I must push myself out of my comfort zone in order to grow.  I'm becoming more comfortable out of my comfort zone.

I learned I have no idea how to be proud of myself.  I want to learn.  It's on the list for 2010.  Awareness is the first step.

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.  ~Alan Cohen 

December 27, 2009

* Re-Focus

Changed target of brain from holiday season to San Miguel.  I leave in one week.

Today I messed around with a new blog.  It's in storage for the moment.  We will see what happens.  It's called:  "Art Helps Me Breathe".

I finished my shawl.  DISASTER has struck!!  I love it.  I took it off the circular needles and it's exactly the correct width -- however -- it is TWELVE FEET LONG!!!  Yes, you heard me correctly!  Exactly double the length it is supposed to be!  That could be why it seemed waaay tooo heavy when I was knitting it!!! It's really rather laughable!  I have no idea what happened and I don't know how to fix it.  So, perhaps for now, I will simply have to leave it!  Muchly disappointed however!

Made my last list of 'things to do' this week.  Not much left really.  I have my suitcase out and am setting things in as I think of them.  My hair is done.  I've given myself a manicure.  A pedicure is in order ... and .. oh yes, that hair on my upper lip!!!  Damn hair on upper lip ... lol.

My biggest challenge when going away is deciding what to take.  I think I have everything under control ... at the last minute I have a panic attack and throw everything I own in!  Not good for the new rules on overweight luggage. : )

Definitely looking forward to some sunshine.  It's been very gray here.  Fresh vegetables and fruit at the markets.  All that wonderful colour.

Looking forward to the traveling part?  Not so much.  Seventeen hours in all.  Mind set I tell myself.  Mental note to self:  I will enjoy the seventeen hour journey.  Mental note to self:  take good book, sodoku, and small pad to write on.  Heightened security at airports at the moment.  I go through Seattle and Houston.  Patience is in order as well.  ... another mind set thingie!

Anyone got ideas on a good book?  Let me know.  Still time for a browse around a good book store.

               “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”  ~ Mark Twain

December 26, 2009

* Help! I've eaten tooooo much!!

It's 10:00 pm.  Exploding is a definite possibility!  The morning began by the fire drinking coffee which quickly turned into Tom and Gerry's.  Rum is involved.  It was 8:45 AM.  Two of those before breakfast .... well ... need I say more.  After gift opening, we moved on to Champagne served with eggs benedict. You will notice I did not say eggs benedict served with Champagne.  By 12:30 I was sizzled! .. or was it sozzled!!  Had to have a nap prior to navigating the roads to my friend's home for din din.

Is anyone out there familiar with Tom and Gerry's?  Jean tell's me it's an old and very secret family recipe.  I will try and squeeze it out of here later.  As I said, they involve rum - quite a lot of rum. : )  Eggs as well.  Photos follow.  If anything rings a bell - send me the recipe please!

As I said, after that it was nap time to recover.  Then off to my girlfriends for din din.  The deal is, I cook, she cleans up.  Just the way I like it.  I actually miss cooking beautiful Christmas dinners and very much enjoyed cooking this one.  I think I was doing OK until I ate the fresh blueberry pie and cream!  Who can say no.

My friend loves the vintage/retro look and books. Her place is so warm and cozy. Lots of candle light always adds to the ambiance.

So here I am back home.  Christmas is over for another year.  Tomorrow, I consider a transition day.  I have been focused on the Holiday Season.  Tomorrow, I will try and finish knitting my caterpiller (wrap) and take it off the needles.  After that I only have the fringe to put on and it will be ready to go.  While I knit tomorrow - I will refocus my thoughts toward the new year and getting ready to leave for San Miguel.  However ..... that's tomorrow.

Hope everyone spent a wonderful day.

                             "A permanent state of transition is man's most noble condition." ~Juan Ramon Jimene

December 25, 2009

* Christmas Day 2009

The Christmas Cactus is Blooming!!!  How do they know???????  I believe when we tune into our instincts and our hearts, we know when to bloom too.

We give thanks for the blessing of winter:
Season to cherish the heart.
To make warmth and quiet for the heart.
To make soups and broths for the heart.
To cook for the heart and read for the heart.
To curl up softly and nestle with the heart.
To sleep deeply and gently at one with the heart.
To dream with the heart.
To spend time with the heart.
A long, long time of peace with the heart.
We give thanks for the blessing of winter:
Season to cherish the heart.  Amen.  (From the Book "When I talk to You" ~ Michael Leunig)

December 24, 2009

* Christmas Eve 2009

The candles are lit.  The champagne is chilled and uncorked.  The Christmas music is playing softly in the background.  My glass awaits it's liquid effervescents.  Cranberry/hazelnut thins, cognac pate, Italian black olives and gorgonzola cheese are set out on a beautiful china plate.  When I feel hungry I will nibble tonight.  Habibi has dined and is lying by my side.

There are some Christmas gifts to warp.  The linen table cloth for breakfast still has to be ironed.  I will enjoy doing that.

So, in my little world, all is well.  I have found when flying solo, it helps when I make an effort to make things nice for myself.  I adore lovely things, so why wouldn't I do it just for 'me'.  I most certainly would make the effort for a partner or a best friend, or a group of friends.  Therefore, I ask myself .... why not me?  Now, more often than not, I do make the effort for me.  I appreciate it.  Surrounding myself with lovely things helps me breath.  Every little bit helps.  Hope you all have a wonderful, peaceful, joyous Christmas Eve, no matter where you are or what you are doing.

"I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph."   Shirley Temple

* 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve

Christmas is nearly upon us.  I spent a lovely relaxed day.  Just last minute things.  All my shopping is finished.  I have everything required to bake a fresh blueberry pie for our little Christmas din din. All gifts are on site.  Not wrapped though.  Tomorrow.  I will put Christmas music on tomorrow and wrap gifts.

This evening I went out for dinner, by myself ... flying solo.  I'm practicing.  I'm getting very good at eating out alone.  Even enjoy myself now.  Tonight I went to a lovely pub called Spinikers.  Their building is set on the harbour overlooking the city.  The view is spectacular.

After dinner, Habibi and I went for a walk to the local marina.  The boats are so beautiful.  All dressed in their best bib and tucker.  The lights, the reflection of the city in the bay, the coloured lights on the boats and masts --- Ahhhh, it doesn't get better than this.  A clear cool night, terrific fresh air, a lovely walk with my dog - all the Christmas lights in the neighbourhood.  What more does one require?  (OK, don't go there!)

I'm making my way.  I'm learning my lessons.  This year, today, in this moment, I have Christmas Spirit!  YEAH!!!

"I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day.  We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year.  As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year.  And thus I drift along into the holidays - let them overtake me unexpectedly - waking up some find morning and suddenly saying to myself:  "Why, this is Christmas Day!"  ~David Grayson

December 23, 2009

* Supporting Friends

An interesting conversation came up for me today. It was about how we support our friends.  The outcome of the discussion seemed to be we are very good, or at least somewhat good, at supporting our friends in times of trouble, in times of need.  I did a little research on the web.  Fascinating.  There are sites for every type of support when people are 'down and out'.  How to support a friend who is depressed.  How to support a friend in the hospital.  How to support a friend with family difficulties. How to support friends with eating disorders, drug abuse issues, one who talks too much, jumps to high, sits too long, slurps their coffee from the saucer, or leaps off cliffs and injures themselves.  I'm sure it would not be hard to find a site on how to support a friend who has hair on her upper lip!  Yes, I think we can handle supporting friends in need.

My question is this:  How proficient are we when it comes to supporting our friends and helping them to grow, to move forward.  How good are we at cheering them on when they are making baby steps towards a goal, or experimenting with new projects and taking small risks towards 'putting themselves out there'.  What about our artistic friends with all that creative talent.  Artists need all the love and encouragement they can get.  Anyone who is creating anything in their lives requires support big time.  Are we in their cheering sections then?  Do we encourage, cajole, applaud, brighten, buck up, cheer on, embolden, energize, enliven, excite, exhilarate, fortify, give a shot in arm, gladden, inspire, praise, prop up, psych up, rally round, reassure, revitalize, spur on, stir up and strengthen a friend who is reaching for a higher rung on the ladder? (Did'ja get all that??)  Are we really there for them then?  Are we 'present' ... do we really 'hear' them?   Oh, I think it's easy to do that for our children.  So much potential visible ... that's easy for us.  However, when we are grown, somehow society supposes we don't need so much encouragement and support anymore.  It is presumed we are strong and self sufficient in moving forward and attaining our goals.  I disagree so very strongly.  As adults we are even more vulnerable.  As adults, many of us have been knocked down and trampled a few times. We are cautious how we get up and re-enter the world.  We are nursing our bruises.  We need our friends more than ever.  We need a fan club to shore up our confidence.

Another interesting thought.  Are we, as parents, teaching our children to encourage adults and elders?  As our children grow, and become adults themselves, are they able to take their place in the world and encourage us and our peers to reach for new heights.  Will they know how to encourage their grandparents?  Will there be any support and encouragement or will their elders become invisible to them?  (Another topic for discussion.)

Here's my point.  Let's SUPPORT each other. Let's encourage each other when it comes to the GOOD STUFF!  Let's give away a few Rah Rah's.   Let's be there for each other so we can all move forward at break neck speed.  Let's celebrate the small stuff.  Can you imagine how strong we would feel?  WOW!  I have a dear friend in Sherwood Park.  She works full time and is studying for her degree in Art.  YOU GO GIRL!  Another old and darling friend in Vancouver works her heart out, owning, operating, running and expanding her own business.  I'M YOUR BIGGEST FAN!  For my friend here in Victoria who constantly struggles with her writing, even though she's incredible ... YOU ALREADY KNOW I'M HERE FOR YOU, BABE!

Most of the women I have as friends are traveling the path alone.  They do not have a spouse to come home to and discuss things with.  There is no support there.  Children have grown and left the nest and in some cases the area.  No support there.  In many instances, our children are in the fever of life raising their own families.  We are not right up there on their priority list.  We need our friends.   I would say it's up to us to be there for each other.  It's our responsibility.  It's important.  It's urgent. 

Often, I feel as though I have very little support as I struggle to find my creative voice.  Perhaps we all feel that way from time to time.  I'm going to think more about this.  Perhaps I don't offer enough support and encouragement either.  Let's all think about it.  Who do you support and in what ways?  Are you there for your friends when they are 'incubating' an idea?  Do you encourage them to move a little bit forward each day?  How could you be more supportive?  What fun things could we invent?   The quotation below hits the nail on the head for me.  It's knowing my friends believe in me.  Sometimes it's nice when they tell us that so we can 'hear' it.

"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when she discovers that someone else believes in her and is willing to trust her."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

December 22, 2009

* Winter Solstice

A Time of Magic

In many cultures, customs practiced at Solstice go back to pre-Christian times. Many involve divination--foretelling the future at a magic time: the season turning of solstice.

In Russia, there's a Solstice divination that involves candles. A girl would sit in a darkened room, with two lighted candles and two mirrors, pointed so that one reflects the candlelight into the other.The viewer would seek the seventh reflection, then look until her future would be seen.

The early Germans built a stone altar to Hertha, or Bertha, goddess of domesticity and the home, during winter solstice. With a fire of fir boughs stoked on the altar, Hertha was able to descend through the smoke and guide those who were wise in Saga lore to foretell the fortunes of those at the feast.

In Spain, there's an old custom that is a holdover from Roman days. The urn of fate is a large bowl containing slips of paper on which are written all the names of those at a family get-together. The slips of paper are drawn out two at a time. Those whose names are so joined are to be devoted friends for the year. Apparently, there's often a little finagling to help matchmaking along, as well.

In Scandinavia, some families place all their shoes together, as this will cause them to live in harmony throughout the year.

And in many, many cultures, it's considered bad luck for a fire or a candle to go out on Solstice. So keep those candles burning!


David, Jean and I celebrated Solstice this evening.  Jean cast a circle in Wicca tradition as we welcomed the spirits of the North, South, East and West to our table.  We feasted on a sumptuous green salad loaded with nuts and seeds, dried cranberries, corn, cucumbers and tomatoes. Fresh crusty brown herb bread. Fresh fruit salad with whipped cream and lastly a small fruit tart with sweet custard.  Winter Solstice honours the longest, darkest day of the year. Tomorrow, the light will begin to come, little by little as we inch our way to spring.  The fresh salad, nuts, and fruit represent the newness of spring and what we have to look forward to.  These foods represent hope.

December 21st signifies the first day of winter. It is a time to withdraw and rest within ourselves, wrapped in the safety of the darkness and the coolness of the season.  It's about sitting by the fire, perhaps with friends, perhaps alone.  It's a time of rest and renewal, a time to ready ourselves for the future, for the newness and the brightness of the light to come. A time to ponder and ask our what our next step will be. A time to plan before we begin new projects. It's a time of rest after the bringing in of the harvest and before the work of planting.

We spent a warm evening together, enjoying the food, enjoying each others company, enjoying the beautiful table setting, the candles and the flowers.  Resting in the moment.

"So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!"
-   Susan Cooper, The Shortest Day

December 21, 2009

* Sisters of Spirit

Diane and I are friends.  We are Sisters of Spirit.  Twelve years ago we met in a therapy group for depression.  Diane was suffering burn out and loosing her job.  I was suffering burn out and loosing my husband.  We bonded on what I refer to as a Spirit level.  There is a part in each of us that is there to assist in spiritual growth when the other is too exhausted to move forward.  We help each other on the path, the journey, the awakening of our souls.  It's a good thing to have a Sister of Spirit.  I believe it to be a rare gift.

Diane likes to paint.  She loves flowers.  Her style is so free, so playful and so unintended, I wanted to share some of her work with you.  It always make me smile.  Acrylics are her medium of choice.  Her flowers hang in a pleasing cluster in her very French bedroom.  The flower paintings, her collection of beautiful perfume bottles, together with the old world yellow of the walls, call forth images of far away places in the countryside, just outside of Paris. 

The flowers to the right are my favorite.  They always seem so fresh, so innocent, so surprised and happy to be here.

Ah, the pink cottage.  Inside it has a wonderful deep hearth with seats along the each side, the walls are two feet thick, with windowsills so deep you can fill them with huge bouquets of flowers.  The planks on the floor are original, wide and crudely set.  Absolutely spectacular.  In the heat of summer, it is a cool refuge.  In winter, the warmth of the hearth invites you to linger with friends over a second glass of wine.

The garden is old, wild and free.  The steps of the path are English oak, hand carved and crooked.  Watch your step please.  In the spring the climbing roses around the door bloom early.  At Christmas there are still one or two blossoms.  I know all this, of course, because I have been inside the pink cottage .... in my dreams!

Recently, Diane has been experimenting with multi media collage projects. Her love of books, reading and writing are predominate in the first of three pieces.

The triptych contains many special pieces of her life.  An exquisite almost miniature fountain pen which belonged to her mother. .  Maps and stamps from places she has lived.  Parts of an old love letter from  John, her husband who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Singapore.  Her old drivers license from Norway.  A time piece she once wore every day and a vintage broach.

The symbology of these three pieces is moving.  Together they tell a story of many parts of her life.

My little birds.  Another favorite of mine.  These two have been together for a many years, perhaps many life times.  They sit on the same branch, close together, knowing what the other is thinking.  They are soul mates.  They love each other.  They are committed to be on the wing, and sing songs together for as long as they are on this incredible earth.  Their names are Elsie and James.

Dianes true passion is writing.  Currently she is writing a biography of her Mothers' life ... part fictional .. part honest to God truth.  Who knows where the line is - that's what makes it so exciting.  Poetry is another love.  Sometimes I suffer creative blocks, sometimes I fall into creative 'states' and have creative 'tantrums'.  Sometimes I can fall under the 'artists temperment' category to people who are not artists and who do not have a clue what it's like to be frozen and want to explode.  Sometimes I am frustrated, stuck and can't get through the eighteen foot thick wall to my own creative core.  During my last 'attack', Diane wrote a very beautiful poem for me which I would like to share with you.

Where do you go?
by:  Diane H
June 16, 2009

Where do you go
when this pent up restlessness folds over your skin and
you yelp and howl and you bitch and you groan.
Fidgeting motions crawl over you like seaweed
Your brows grow lines of discontent.
Where do you go?
When your words snap in sharpness not intending to hurt
flashing out in thunder with residues of electric shock
Where do you go?
When you are so overwhelmed and your head is full of cotton.  Where do you go?
Could it be ...?
The creative insect inside you is screaming to crawl out through the rocks of ordinariness.
Look Donna,
The caterpillar is bursting its seams
Slowly finding its way out of the chrysalis
It is the birth of a butterfly.

To share our journey with others is what life is really all about--that's why there is more than one of us on the planet. I have long defined "friend-ship" as a vessel in which two or more souls journey toward a common destination--the realization of our oneness in God, Goddess, All That Is. ~ Dr. Dennis Merritt Jones

December 20, 2009

* Memories of Christmas Past

Excerpt from "The Pickwick Papers" by Charles Dickens.
For:  John McLay

"As brisk as bees, if not altogether as light as farries, did the four Pickwickians assemble on the morning of the twenty-second day of December in the year of grace in which these, their faithfully recorded adventures, were undertaken and accomplished.  Christmas was close at hand, in all his bluff and hearty honesty; it was the season of hospitality, merriment and open-heartedness; the old year was preparing, like an ancient philosopher, to call his friends around him, and amidst the sound of feasting and revelry to pass gently and calmly away.  Gay and merry was the time, and gay and merry were at least four of the numerous hearts that were gladdened by its coming.

And numerous indeed are the hearts to which Christmas brings a brief season of happiness and enjoyment.  How many families, whose members have been dispersed and scattered far and wide, in the restless struggles of life, are then reunited, and meet once again in that happy state of companionship and mutual good-will, which in that happy state of companionship and mutual good-will, which is the source of each pure and unalloyed delight, and one so incompatible with the cares and sorrows of the world, that the religious belief of the most civilized nations, and the rude traditions of the roughest savages alike, number it among the first joys of the future condition of existence, provided for the blest and happy!  How many old recollections, and how many dormant sympathies, does Christmas time awaken!

We write these words now, many miles distant from the spot at which, year after year, we met on that day, a merry and joyous circle.  Many of the hearts that throbbed so gaily then, have ceased to beat; many of the looks that shone so brightly then, have ceased to flow; the hands we grasped, have grown cold; the eyes we sought, have hid their lustre in the grave; and yet the old house, the room, the merry voices and smiling faces, the jest, the laugh, the most minute and trivial circumstances connected with those happy meetings, crowd upon our mind at each recurrence of the season, as if the last assemblage had been but yesterday!  Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveler, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!"

Every year during the Christmas Season, an old college friend of mine and I read and ponder this piece of literature together.  Sometimes we read it to each other on the phone as we are not usually in the same vicinity at the same time.  It's become sort of a tradition.  It's become a comforting tradition for me.

This year, I am spending a moment to go back, in my mind and spirit, to my family home for Christmas.  I am visiting the past with honour and respect and gladness that I once had such a loving place to be.  The house was full of merriment and gladness.  It was full of people who came together because they loved each other.  We gathered around the family table with Christmas hats on and read silly jokes out of Christmas crackers.  We opened copious amounts of presents because we were a large family who waited for each other to share the surprises.  We laughed and made a mess.  The children were in the spot light.  It was a time to appreciate the passing of time and the new generations.  We drank wine and drambuie.  We ate large amounts of turkey, cooked and fussed over by my Mama.  Dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, peas, creamed carrots, waldorf salad, gravy, cranberries, pickles and black olives graced the table.  The best china, crystal and silver were laid.  In fact, the table was set the day before to perfection.  Dessert was a choice of fresh blueberry, raspberry, apple, cherry and lemon pie.  The flaming christmas pudding with brandy sauce was an extra.  The children played, the women gathered in the kitchen to chat and clean up while the men dozed by the fire.  Those were the days!  It is heart warming to remember those Christmas's.  The shopping, the wrapping, the anticipation, the excitement, the preparation.  Just waiting for 'the kids' to come through the door, in small groups, in couples, or one by one, was a nice feeling.  When we were all together, it felt complete.  We were a family, with all the love, all the light and all the shadows.  It was just as it was meant to be.  There are no accidents.

And so, I let go of the past and return to the present moment.  It's a good place to be.  Everything is just as it is meant to be.  I am learning my lessons.  Making my way.  There are no accidents.

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

December 19, 2009

* Friends

What's the secret to a magical overnight visit with old friends?  My friends, Peter and Brenda welcomed me into their beautiful nest with open arms, open hearts, and their spectacular open minds.  I felt as though I had arrived 'home'.  Brenda is an artist.  It oozes from her pores and drips into the surroundings she creates, her sculpture and the awe-inspiring food she lovingly and with passion, prepares in her kitchen.   Peter is charismatic, open, funny, engaged in life, and has been, well ... let's just say he's a man of the world.  You'd be amazed to know who he has shared a cocktail or two with!

 AAHHhhhh ... feels good already.  Sitting by the fire.  The champagne flutes are full.  Isn't it fabulous watching the bubbles rising up the middle of a champagne flute??  ... I digress.  The fire is wonderful, the armchairs comfortable, the conversation interesting and amusing.  The dogs, two Cavalier's named Emma and Lucy, and one Coton de Tulear named Habibi, are settling in nicely.  The background music drifts in and out of the chit chat.  Brenda disappears momentarily and reappears with phyllo pastry stuffed with warm brie and cranberries.  Another long sigh.  The afternoon drifts by unnoticed and we are ushered to the dining room.  My chair is pulled back for me while I am seated and then adjusted to perfection.  (Where did all the wonderful manners disappear to?)  Atmosphere at the table invites us to relax, enjoy and spend the evening.  We do.  Fillet positioned on toast smothered in pate appears - covered with just the right amount of some mystical sauce.  Beautifully thin sliced vegetables magically mix, marry, and meld their flavours into one baked dish, accompanied by freshly mashed potatoes.  Red wine, crusty bread and butter accompany.  Need I say more.  Dessert appears and disappears. More of the evening vanishes.  We move to the living room by a wood fire, good cognac, and books of a recent journey to China.  I fall in love with the Terracotta Warriors.  The evening melts away into the ebony night and we retire.

Morning arrives.  The household begins to whisper.  A knock on my door, "May I come in"?  Peter appears with a cup of strong English tea.  The cup is from Raffles, Singapore. He knows this will thrill me.  Two digestive biscuits on a small china plate accompany the tea.  I prop myself up in bed and gaze over the valley shrouded in mist and fog.  Ahhhh, this is the life!!  And so ... we wile away the morning.  Another cup of tea arrives.  Memories of my years in England rush back.  Mental note to self:  soak it up, make it last, savour all of it for as long as possible!

Fire's on in the family room.  Brenda is whipping up a batch of fresh blueberry muffins.  Strong European coffee is brewed in a french press.  My kind of coffee!!!  More chit chat, more laughs, more admiration of our babies.  Aren't they gorgeous!!

Smells of bacon and eggs fill the air.  Champagne bubbles mesmerize me again.  We find ourselves at the table once more.  Delightful, dazzling, delicious, delectable brunch.  Eggs, bacon, fresh potatoes, grilled tomatoes, thinly sliced mushrooms, toast, superbly thick gooey homemade marmalade  ..... I take a silent vow no food shall cross my lips for a week.

Suddenly it is 2:00 pm.  I must drive back to Victoria.

I come away from Brenda and Peters' a better person.  My heart is full, my soul has been fed, my spirits have been lifted in some immeasurable way.  I've been nourished not only with food, but with friendship, camaraderie and love.  Isn't that what we all need a little more of?

Thank you, my dears!  May you live long and prosper with much more than a full pocketbook.  May you live your life with quality.  May you prosper with joy, love, laughter and the many blessings this beautiful world offers us.  It is indeed an honour to know you.

"This is my wish for you:  Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunset to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life."
~  Lynnie Buttercup

PS:  What makes my heart sing, my mouth water and my waste expand?  Brendas' incredible Christmas tart, of course.


December 17, 2009

* Exclusive Inspired Ideas ....

These were some of my 'Exclusive Inspired Ideas' in 2001.  I wonder what they would be in 2010.  I may explore that thought and let you know in a later post.

In the mean time .. here are some of my thoughts from 2001.

* Italy.
* Hilton.
* A hammock by the sea.
* Nights in private castles.
* Mornings at the sea shore.
* The quiet countryside just beyond Paris.
* The right companion.
* Discover China.
* Greece in the quiet season.
* Show your hair off.  Fix it up and take it out.
* Quench your longings and amplify your joy.
* Castles in Spain.
* Dream in French.
* Believe ... and your dreams will come true.
* Island Hop!

At the time I created this collage, I was caring for my elderly parents.  Mama had taken ill.  She was 93.  I moved to be with them so they could stay in their home.  Mama passed away that summer.  It was an honour care for her.  Papa and I were together for two more years.  He passed away in the fall of 2003 at 97.  These were dreams to put on paper.  Dreams to allow my mind to float away.  Since then I've been working toward healing.  Depression has been my constant companion for a large part of my life.  I have made tremendous progress.  I think my 'Exclusive Inspired Ideas' might be very different now.  I will let you know.

"Don't follow your dreams; chase them."
~ Richard Dumb (we who think is very smart :)
I like this quote.  Never in my life did I receive the message I would be allowed, let alone encouraged, to follow my dreams.  It was thought I must be practical.  I must be a teacher or a nurse.  I became neither. I longed to be an artist, an interior decorator.  I am having to learn to follow my dreams on my own.  I hope it's not too late.  Am I too old to run after them?  Perhaps I need a very fast sports car!

                                                                WORDS I ADORE

Indulgent.  Frolic.  Eccentricity.  Auspicious.  Celebrate.  Genteel.  Passion.  Mystical.  Emporium.  Bohemian.  Repartee.  Enthralling.  Chameleon.  Opulence.  Merriment.  Gypsy.

The older woman is INDULGENT of her.  After all, she carries within her the spirit of a BOHEMIAN,  a GYPSY and the MYSTICAL ways of her blood line.  In the evening she is happiest by the night fire where she can FROLIC and dance in the MERRIMENT of her tribe.  The amusing REPARTEE of these tribal evenings is quite often memorable, and she cherishes these times together.  On a moments notice, she is able turn from her quiet, calm inward woman, to a wild woman.  It is ENTHRALLING to observe.  She is a bit of a CHAMELEON.  A GENTEEL soul in many ways, her heart dictates she live her life with PASSION.  On Wednesdays she reads tarot cards at the near by EMPORIUM.  She is aware her entire being includes many parts which others view as ECCENTRICITY.  She adores and nourishes these parts of herself.  Now at eighteen, she feels it an AUSPICIOUS time to enjoy the OPULENCE of the golden earrings she inherited on her birthday. They once belonged to her great grandmother, The Gypsy Queen.  What a heritage to CELEBRATE!

Wow, that was fun!  After writing down all those words,  (actually, they were from a 2001 journal entry on 'words I adore') I thought I would challenge myself to write a paragraph containing each and every word.  Try one of your own.  Does it make any sense?  lol

December 16, 2009

* Earthly Goods I adore

A Silver Cloud Rolls Royce, a Cozy Cottage on a cliff overlooking the sea,  Beaches, Turkish Coffee, The Greek Islands, Camp Fires and Fireplaces, Chopping Wood, Fresh eggs, still warm, Chickens clucking 'round the yard, The sound of cow bells,
Claridges Hotel, London, The Empress Hotel, Victoria, The sound of ocean waves, The Ocean, Good Cognac, French Champagne, Home made bread, Mama's home made chicken noodle soup, Fresh carrots from the garden, raw, dirt still on, Broad minded conversation, Out of the box people, Great Art, Music, Convent Garden, The Pearly Kings and Queens, Placido Domingo, The last night of the Proms, The Royal Albert Hall, Sea side villages, Sailing into a Greek Island at dusk, Fresh ground pepper, Antique Roses in the garden, Adobe houses, The Mediteranean sea, Old World Wine, Sea Shells, Papa's Pipe, Persian Carpets, Venice, Old Houses with potential, Tall Ships, Sacred Choral Music sung a cappella in an old Cathedral, Elizabethan History, Russian Literature, Hampton Court, Beach Huts, Blue Sky and Sunshine, Silk, Small, Narrow Winding Roads, Gardens - almost any kind, Birds, Fountains, Creeks, Streams, the Sound of Running Water, Spanish Guitar, Mariachi Bands, Archeological sights, Camels, Dogs, Long Road Trips, Culture Shock, Ethnic Food, Wild horses on the Moors, Irish coffee with treasured friends, Travel, Fireworks, Bagpipes, Castles, Lute music, Old Pubs and Inns, Goats, Scottish Sheep, Highland Cattle, Dubrovnik, Paris at night, Palapas, Good Coffee in Bed, A long bubble bath, Candle light, White linen table cloths, Really good china, Beautifully set tables, Prime Rib, Crystal glasses that ring when you toast each other, Organic Peanut Butter, Escargot served in the shell, A small hotel overhanging the ocean in Mousehole, The Parthenon lit up at night, Meteor Showers, Hot Tubs, Swimming Pools, The Northern Lights, The Big Dipper, The Southern Cross, Bed and Breakfasts, A Great Massage, Natural Mineral Hot Pools, Roasted Chestnuts, Down Puffs, Pure Egyptian Cotton Sheets, Clay Roof Tiles, Cobble Stone Streets, Burrows, Markets, Butterflies, Base Guitar Players, Fresh Oysters from Fanny Bay, King Island Cheese, Stuffed Figs, Greek Olives, Live Theatre, An Orchestra Tuning up, Funky small neighbourhood coffee houses, The Statue of Liberty, The White Cliffs of Dover, Jackaranda Trees in Bloom, Gypsy Music, Violins, Playing the spoons and Sing Songs, Fortnum and Masons, The Ile St. Louis, The Fairy Steps, The Shoogly Brig, The Bay of Fires.   There is more .... another time .... another post.  One of my readers, Salma, adores Four inch Gucci heels...Spanish paprika...antique teapots.  What Earthly Goods do you adore?

"When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lilly with the other." ~ old proverb

December 15, 2009

* Ka Ching (My Women of Free Epression)

A bit of a 'Ka Ching' moment occurred today.  What do I mean by 'Ka Ching'?  No, it's not a nibble of ancient Chinese wisdom, although it does have to do with 'deep knowing'.  I liken a 'Ka Ching' moment to a slot machine.  The moment when it all comes together,  all the bells and whistles go off, all the money drops down and out, all the lights flash, and finally, after trying and trying and struggling to pull the handle time after time --- you finally 'get it' --- you hit the jackpot.  It's like that in life.  Many things I understand intellectually, in my head.  Do I understand them at a 'body' level?  At a 'cellular' level?  At a soul level?  Do I really have that deep deep knowing?  A 'Ka Ching' moment does all that for me --- I no longer struggle with trying to understand.  It all drops down.  It's all there.  Absorbed in my higher consciousness.  I simply 'know' at some deep, mysterious level what it's all about.

I had that kind of a moment around the group of paintings from my Free Expression classes with Carolyn James.   It suddenly occurred to me there was a woman in every painting.  It suddenly occurred to me that every woman in each painting was me.  Not only 'just' me .... but bits and pieces of me, facets of me.  'Ka Ching'!!

My first painting is the woman above.  She is sad. Tears drip down her cheeks splashing into the ocean below.  (full circle)  She tries desperately to hold on to the sun which is setting.  It slip's from her grasp.  She hasn't felt grounded in many years.  She longs for that missing part of herself.  She emerges from a palm tree, even her hands are growing roots so she may plant anew and discover unknown parts of herself, new leaves, new blossoms.  Her past, with all it's glory, all its love, all its joy and all it's pain, is setting.  She is finally able to allow it to 'slip' below the horizon.  It's time to move on.

The second painting is one of vulnerability.  She rides a huge well taken care of, well loved, bejeweled horse.  She holds on to her beautiful horse, not quite on his back, but not off either.  The horse knows where to go - knows where the next safe place to step is.  A huge serpent rises from the water in front of them.  She is totally aware all she has to do is hold on and 'trust'.  She is, in fact, safe.  I do understand that principle  in regard to my life.  As long as I allow myself to totally surrender to the Universe, the Divine Mother, all I have to do is hold on and trust.  When I ask, Divine Mother will show me where to take my next step.  It really is all about trust, being very awake and being very aware.

The third painting represents sexuality and sensuality.  She stands naked and alone in her garden, planting a group of well formed penises into a beautiful clay pot..  The painting is named, 'The Joy of Gardening'.  She too offers me wisdom.  I can be alone and still enjoy my sexuality and sensuality.

Next, appeared a complicated painting with many components.  The woman climbs a broken ladder to a pool of water in the golden chalice.  The water represents the essence of life.  She's not able to go back, the rungs are broken.  Ahead of her the path narrows and the rungs are unreliable and worn, however she is determined to keep climbing. She is protected symbolically by Russian Orthodox crosses.  She understands she is never alone.  She absolutely knows she is connected and is part of the incredible, beautiful, mind blowing Universe, God, the Divine Mother, Goddess, All That Is, Buddah, Allah, however you wish to look at it.  She is unable to look back because it may cause her to fall, so she simply keeps climbing.  She understands this is a huge part of why she is here.

Is she saying goodbye or hello?  Is she leaving her tribe?  Her past?  Is she finding a new tribe?  A new place of belonging?  A home?  I suspect this painting represents a little of both.

When she was married to the love of her life, "Home" was always 'together'.  Home was wherever he was.  Flying Solo, even after all these years, she has not found 'home'.  She is still searching.  She innately knows 'home' is her soul.  That seems to be difficult for her to accept. 

In the last painting, a very powerful image emerges.  She ponders her life.  She wears her heart on her sleeve.  No longer does she stuff all her feelings down inside her.  She has become stronger, she can speak her truth, she knows who she is and she's willing to 'do the work' to move ahead.  The hat she wears is an all knowing hat, topped again by a Russian Orthodox cross.  She knows she is always protected.

She sits on a bed of nails over the hot coals and burning lava of a volcano.  It erupts through her entire body, burning away the old, making way for the new.  It is painful.  She knows she must allow it and must let go.  Allowing the old to burn away, the new will have room to enter her life.  She endures the pain and looks forward to tomorrow.  Very symbolic of my huge exercise in downsizing.  Painful, but necessary.

Well, Caroline ... I get it ... I've had a Ka Ching moment.  All I can say is Thank You!

For more detailed information on Free Expression Painting, and/or taking workshops with Caroline James, please see my post entitled "Free Expression Painting".

"Your life has an inner purpose and an outer purpose. Inner purpose concerns Being and is primary. Outer purpose concerns doing and it is secondary. Your inner purpose is to awaken. It is as simple as that. You share that purpose with every other person on the planet - because it is the purpose of humanity. Your inner purpose is an essential part of the purpose of the whole, the universe and its emerging intelligence. Your outer purpose can change over time. It varies greatly from person to person. Finding and living in alignment with the inner purpose is the foundation for fulfilling your outer purpose. It is the basis for true success. Without that alignment, you can still achieve certain things through effort, struggle, determination, and sheer hard work or cunning. But there is no joy in such endevor, and it invariably ends in some form of suffering."
Eckhart Tolle : Gaia Child

 CAMP FIRES.  Camp fires cause wonderful happenings.  They cause people to get together.  They cause people to enjoy others company. They cause people to have actual conversations about interesting stuff.  They cause laughter.  They cause friendships to unfurl. It's the light of the fire against the blue of an evening sky.  It's the sparks that fly up into the endless blackness as the sky turns to ebony.  It's the company and the conversation. It's being alone with just the fire to keep me company.  It's the smell of burning wood.  The poking and prodding required to keep the fire alive.  The texture of the wood as you add it to the flames.  Chopping logs and gathering twigs and branches for kindling.  It's the feel of the night air.  The damp as the dew falls upon the earth.  The marshmallows. The memories of all the camp fires I've ever sat around. It's the sound, the crackle and the pop.  The peace, the quiet, and the mesmerizing rhythm of the flames.  I miss camp fires.  Camp Fires make my heart sing.