Home and safe

Family (tied to life)
Family (tied to life)

I am eight years old, sitting in the back seat of my parents’ Volkswagen Beetle.  It’s Friday night, November, and dark.  My sister is curled into the far corner opposite me.  I think she is sleeping.  I am near to sleep as well, that place where thoughts float and my body releases the day.

I can see my parents in the front seats.  Light from the dashboard lines the edges of their faces, Mom turned towards Dad as he drives.  Their voices wrap around me, quiet and warm.

We had dinner out tonight, and then did grocery shopping.  I can smell the bread, packed full in one of the brown paper grocery bags behind my seat.  Ten loaves for a dollar.

The car tires hum against the road, and the engine chugs.  Steady and sure.  I know Dad is watching for the deer who sometimes step from the trees onto the road and into the light, and then stand, blinded.  They and we are blessed.  We always pass each other with space to spare.

In this memory, time and place, this is how I feel.  Warm.  Safe.  Comforted and comfortable.  Cared for.  Loved.  Belonging.  Home.  There is nothing more I need or want.

Here, now, times when my life does not feel warm or safe, not comfortable or comforted.  When I don’t feel I belong, not loved, not home.  When I only hear and see wants and needs demanding a piece of me, clamouring and noisy, I stop and let go.

I let go.  I close my eyes.  There, I see the night and my parents’ faces.  I hear their voices and the car, humming.  I smell fresh bread.  I know my sister is near me, asleep on the seat.  I breathe deep.  Let my thoughts float, my body release the day.  Feel just this.

Here, is love.  This place, home, is within me.  Warm, safe, comforted, comfortable.  Cared for, belonging.  All within me and created by me.  I choose this.  My home is within, my place of strength where I stand knowing who I am.  I am love.

I open my eyes, return to the day and my life, carrying this within me.

Carry this into whatever I am doing.  Make this part of my experience.  I choose love, and I am home and safe.

Postcard #7 – Inheritance

Christmas Eve

I am looking at a photograph.  It is Christmas Eve.  I am three years old.  Dressed in a red velvet dress with three white buttons, white tights wrinkled at the knees, and scuffed moccasins.  There is a brand new tricycle in front of me.  Chrome and fat black tires and sky blue painted metal.  Wide blue seat and black pedals, waiting for me to climb on and GO!

Behind me, sitting on my Nana’s sectional couch, looking at the camera and smiling, are my Mom, Nana, Dad, two of my uncles and one of my aunts.  My Papa is taking the picture.  Family.

I don’t remember this specific Christmas Eve, but I do remember my tricycle.  I can hear the crunch of the gravel under its wheels as I ride it down our driveway, feel the push of the pedals against the sneakers on my feet.  Feel the pull on the handlebars as I manoeuver over the grassy middle hump in the driveway.  If I go too slow, I’ll get stuck halfway and have to put my feet on the ground to push me and my tricycle over to the other side.

I know the people, my family, around me in this old photo.  Know and feel and recall them the way I recall my tricycle.  I know the sound of their steps on the floor, the feel of their arms around me, the push and pull of our time spent together.

December 61I hear people talk of inheritance—money, objects, house and land.

My inheritance is right here in my hands, in this photograph of a Christmas Eve.  These people, my memories, this is my inheritance.  The remembered feel of hands in hands.  The remembered sound of voices, talk, and laughter.  What I have experienced and learned in the embrace of my days with them.

This is my inheritance.  Love.  Connection.  A place to stand.  Memories that carry me into happiness, peace, acceptance of my life just as it is.

Thank you for these gifts.

__________________________

Thanks to my brother Paul and my Uncle Allan for collecting the family slides and photos, and digitizing them so they can be shared.

Loved

img181It is windy today outside my studio window.  Sun. Cloud.  Spring, and the weather can’t make up its mind.  I’m voting of course for sun, my favourite.  It is warm enough to have the window open.  The air smells cool and green.

Fresh air.  That is what I am inviting in today.  I’ve been thinking about disappointment, what it is, where it comes from, what melts it away.  I’m airing out an old belief here on the page.

I woke Saturday morning with the oddest thought, flashing by so quickly I almost missed it.  But I didn’t.  I caught it.

There, caught in the net of my awareness.  I am a very young child, a baby.  Baby-me is thinking ‘I am a disappointment’.  The adult-me watching this knows this is referring to my parents.  This is all feeling, no words, but adult-me is translating the feeling.  Accurately.

A feeling that becomes a belief.  Baby-me is believing that I am a disappointment to the ones I love and who love me back.

I write this, and now I ask myself, ‘Have I believed this all of my life?’

Yes.

Is this belief true?

My heart says loudly, lovingly, firmly, No.

I can tell that my head still believes, despite my heart knowing the belief is not true.  I trust what my heart says over the belief that sits in my head.

Time to sort this one out.

I was born with crossed eyes, strabismus the doctors call it.  Some cultures believe that people with crossed eyes can see both into the future and the past.  Cool.

Not so cool for first-time parents, though, who are loving and worrying about their brand new child in equal measure.  And then there are all the well-meaning family and friends who are saying……

Continue reading “Loved”

Sunshine

If I Could Bottle Love
If I Could Bottle Love

We’ve had a full week of sunny days, and counting. How delicious!

I am a sunshine girl.  Warmth and light. Green growing things reaching their way out of the ground.  Songbirds and crows and squirrels noising up the backyard.  Bees and hummingbirds burying themselves in the rosemary blooms.  My studio window open to catch the clatter and hum and sweet air.  I am made for this.  This is glory.  This is me.

I breathe deeper on sunny days.  My body relaxes, releases the armour it wore against the cold weather.

I am a sunshine girl, but how do I stay sunshine?  A big question for me because these last few weeks all kinds of things are crashing around me.  Not onto me, but onto people around me who I know and love and wish only the best for.  My heart wants to stay open and loving for them and me.  How do I do this when another’s pain and sorrow comes bumping against me? How do I stay sunshine?

A grandmother’s death.  A family member with a virulent cancer, another injured and struggling, another with an untreatable aneurysm, yet another with a tumor ‘mostly’ removed.  Two long-time friends with cancer.  And household disasters, a broken water pipe, a flash flood, and more.

Life is life.  I signed up for all of it.  I know I can and do create my life.  I know that love is always my answer.  Yet my heart’s instinct is to protect itself and close against the sorrow and pain now standing beside it.

A closed heart can’t love, can’t feel love, can’t share love, can’t be love.  Closing my heart is an old pattern and not the answer.  I know this, too.

I remember.

I remember holding my son when he cried.  I can feel his small warm body curled against me, my arms wrapped round him.  Rocking him, and rocking and rocking, slowly, gently.  Humming to both him and myself whatever song comes into my head.  Always it is a love song, and never the same one twice.  I feel his distress as though it is mine, and yet my heart remains open wide as the horizon.  My love holding his pain.

This is my answer.

Hold my family, my friends, and my life as though each is my beloved child.  Because they are.  My love for them is no different than my love for my son.  This love, my love, shines like the sun, warming all it touches, them and me.

Yes, I am a sunshine girl.

 

 

Harold’s Purple Crayon

Cat's crayons
Cat’s crayons

 

Friday last week, I am in the local bookstore, wandering the aisles, pulling books off the shelves to thumb through.  This is one of my favourite things to do.  It relaxes me, clears my mind, opens and inspires me, shows me what is possible to create with words and love.

I am in the children’s section.  All picture books, colour and play.  What joy here, image and word on every page of every book!  I am in one of my versions of heaven.  I move from shelf to shelf, slow, taking time.  Then, there in front of me, eye height, is ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’ by Crockett Johnson.  50th Anniversary Edition, it says on the front cover.

I remember reading this book in grade one.  Six years old and discovering that I can create my world.  All I need is a purple crayon or any colour of crayon, and my imagination, loud, wild, galloping and romping wherever it chooses like a herd of wild horses.

At six years old, joy is a fistful of crayons and a pad of paper.

Harold and the Purple Crayon is my favourite book.  I read it over and over, watch Harold create an apple tree with a dragon to guard the ripening apples, a mountain, a balloon to float in, a bedroom window to see the moon from, a bed with a blanket to draw up and sleep under.

Soon I have the book memorized, but I keep putting it into my weekly stack of borrowed library books anyways.  I love it so.

I am teaching myself how to create my world, although I do not know it then.

Continue reading “Harold’s Purple Crayon”

Remembering light

winter light
winter light

 

I have been thinking about emotion and memory.

My memories are loaded with emotions.  That’s why I remember them.  The emotions make them stand out, make them stick.

What is memory anyways?  It is nothing solid.  Like all in life, it changes.  I can tell that mine moves like a story told over and over.  The essential points stay the same, but the details shift.  Am I remembering more clearly when this happens, or am I filling in gaps, making things whole, putting clothes on the bones of what I recall?

I remember the Christmas Eve I was in grade 5.  My sister and I were given night lights in the shape of genie lamps.  All other gifts were abandoned as we carried our lamps around the house, Aladdins in nightgowns and slippers.  I remember the two of us, whispering and giggling in the dark cave of the hallway outside our bedrooms.  We had turned off the hallway light, and all was now mysterious and spooky as we moved around, genie lamps in hand, their blue plastic light covers casting shadows we couldn’t recognize.

This I remember clearly.  What I don’t recall with any certainty is whether my lamp was the pink and black one and Carrie’s the aqua blue and grey one, or the other way around.  When I picture us in the December dark, I can see either lamp in my hand.  I remember them both.

I don’t know what happened to my genie lamp.  I do know I loved it, played with it, kept it on the floor by my bed and close by on my dresser at various times.  I suppose I eventually outgrew it, and it was lost deep in the big cardboard toy box Carrie and I shared.  Perhaps, when I tired of it, it was given away to a younger cousin or to a daughter of one of my parents’ friends.

What does not shift in this memory of light in the dark, is the feeling of fun and play, laughter and enjoyment, friendship and love with my sister.  I feel all of this now as I write.  You can’t see me, but I am all grin like the Cheshire Cat, and I shake now and again as a laugh breaks through.

Here in this memory is joy and light and love.

When I am afraid and in the dark, all I need do is remember Carrie and me in that dark hallway, playing with the light of our genie lamps, giggling and whispering.  If I trust myself enough to allow this memory and its feeling to fill me, body, head, heart, and spirit, I can see my way here, now.   I can walk myself out of fear and the dark, back into light.

My mom-in-law, who does not know this story, found a genie lamp in a garage sale.  She bought it and gave it to me.  It sits here on my work table, a treasure among treasures.  It is exactly like the one in my memory.  Aqua blue and grey, like my sister’s lamp, or mine—that part does not matter.  To my eyes, it is the colour of light and play and laughter and love.

There is something right with me Part 2

Laid To Rest 80,000 Obstructing Spirits (North)
Laid To Rest 80,000 Obstructing Spirits (North)

 

There is a scene in the movie ‘Shrek’ that I remember.  Shrek talks with Donkey about ogres having layers like onions.  I’d say that Shrek got it right about the layers, and it applies to people as well as ogres.

I repeatedly learn that my discoveries about myself, my beliefs, and so on, have layers.  I have discovered a new layer, so now I have a Part 2 to my post of two weeks ago ‘There is something right with me’.

Every morning I choose that I am perfectly healthy, and I choose that I love myself unconditionally.  I use Dee Wallace’s Red Dot Exercise, and I pour all my love into my physical body.  I feel love flash and spark its way through me, become a mix of both love and pure brilliant joy.  I use this as my meditation, focus on feeling without words, without thought.  Just resting here, myself loving myself.  And then I get up, put my meditation cushion away, and go about my day.  I do this because, even though my body has healed from fibromyalgia, my mind is still healing.

It is while I am doing my going-about-my-day stuff that I discover a new layer to my old belief that there is always something wrong with my body.

I am loving my body, but I am not trusting my body.

Huh?

I know that, for me, love automatically includes trust.  So what is this division I have created?  I can love my body, but I cannot trust it.  What is it that I am not trusting about my body?

I trust that my body is healthy now.  But.  I don’t trust my body to stay healthy.  I don’t trust that my body will not get sick again.  I don’t mean sick like getting a cold.  I mean a long sick, like getting fibromyalgia again, or getting cancer.

I know where this is coming from.  Whenever I watch TV, I see ads for all kinds of prescription drugs.  I always feel like they are whispering fear to me—you might get sick again.  I am so new to not taking prescriptions at all (yay me!), that I am still adjusting to knowing I am well, my body is well, I AM HEALTHY.  I feel good, but I have to get used to this new pattern of thinking and knowing and believing.  It has to become just as much a part of me as the I-am-sick pattern was.

I am working on it, becoming my new pattern of I-am-healthy.  I am playing with it, creating it.  I have moved the feeling of love into my body.  Now I need to move the feeling of trust in as well.

What do I trust about my body right now?

I remember.

I love to walk.  I know, without thinking, that my feet and legs hold strength and carry me wherever I need and want to walk or run or skip or climb.  This knowing is trust.

This is a beginning.  I will start here.  Feel love in my body for my strong legs.  Feel the steady knowing touch of my feet on the earth as I walk.  Feel the rhythm and roll of my legs and hips, one step becoming the next, the next, the next without division or stutter, moving me across space and through time.  Movement, balance.  Breath in my body and the sound of my heart.  I sing the body electric.  Surely this is what the writer and poet Walt Whitman knew when he wrote those words.  This is what trust in my body feels like.

This is the feeling I am looking for.

Love and trust in my walking body, in breath and beat, pleasure in movement, fills all of me without effort.  This feeling memory—I choose this.  Well, whole, perfectly healthy.  I choose this.  I know this.  I trust this.

My beautiful body, walk with me.

*************************

See the December 24th post for ‘The Red Dot Exercise’.

 

I remember

 

I Called Light and Dark and Wove the Cloth of Life (Charlene)
I Called Light and Dark and Wove the Cloth of Life (Charlene)

 

I use my memories as a path of healing.

In yesterday’s post ‘Start with joy’, I write about finding joy in my physical connection to an image of beauty, to water and earth, and to a memory of myself at three years old.

For me, the process of finding a healing memory is intuitive.  I trust that I can recall all of my life, and that I can use what I recall to bring myself to wholeness and health.  The type of emotions in the memory make no difference, whether my head is judging them comfortable or painful.  I choose to use all of my life in this healing.

This takes love.  In the process of ‘I Remember’, the love I use can be for anything.  It can be for a person, an animal, a place, a toy, a pair of shoes.  Love is connection, and gives somewhere to begin.  The point is the feeling, and the stronger it is, the better.  Love includes trust and acceptance.  It allows me to trust and accept the process I am doing, my memories, and myself.

This is what I do.

I choose a space where I feel comfortable, safe, and private.  Most often, I use my studio where I write and draw.  My studio is my heart and my nest.  It is filled with things I love, that make me feel happy and inspired—toys from my childhood, favourite books, handmade gifts from family and friends, photographs.  These things are play, beauty, and heart.

A quiet atmosphere is necessary.  It is vital that I hear only my inner voice during this process.  I close the door.  My family is used to this now, but initially it took some training for all of us.  I learned to know that I am worthy of time alone with myself, and my family learned that my temporary absence would not create disaster.  They understand not to interrupt me or disturb my privacy.  I use earplugs or relaxing music to mask any noise in the house.  This allows me to focus.

Continue reading “I remember”