Celebrate

Nana and Papa's house, January 1966
Nana and Papa’s house, January 1966

December. It’s snowing on my blog pages. Love it. Bless the person who came up with snow for the blogs.

We had snow here for real, a week ago, and more forecasted for today. No sight of it yet. I’m waiting, impatiently. Snow boots by the door. Coat and snow pants, hat, mittens from my mom, scarf, all at the ready.

I love the snow and December. They fill me up with joy and play. The child in me has free rein to laugh, enjoy, be happy. No purpose, no goal. Be happy and let it grow as big as it wants to be. I swear that brand new snowflakes on my tongue are good for my health. Also snowballs and snow angels.

My faithful iPod is permanently on its Christmas playlist. Four hundred and seventy-seven songs, if you want to know. Twenty-six hours, nine minutes, and twelve seconds. Every year I add new music. This year it is the Eric Byrd Trio’s version of the Charlie Brown Christmas music, and George Winston’s album December. His ‘Minstrels’ song haunts me in its beauty.

I scan the television listings for my favourite Christmas shows. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the 1966 original cartoon) was on last night. Yay!  A Christmas Carol, the 1951 movie with Alastair Sim. A Christmas Story. A Muppet Family Christmas, the Muppets in their fuzzy joy. My husband groans when I switch the channel, then watches the show anyways.

Gifts I am creating and giving. Cookies and treats to be baked. Love is such a secret ingredient (shhh, don’t tell) it’s not even listed on the recipe. All for sharing.

December. This is the month my heart sings. I know we are days away yet. I say the words anyways. Happy Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Diwali (last month, in all its light and colour). Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Solstice.  Happy Happy All.

I make these my December gifts. I choose Happiness. Love. Kindness. Play. Laughter. Sharing. Forgiveness. Joy.

I choose Celebrate.

________________________

In this post:

The Eric Byrd Trio, music, A Charlie Brown Christmas, http://ericbyrd.com/videos/charlie-brown-christmas

George Winston, music, December, http://www.georgewinston.com/recordings/december-11/

A Charlie Brown Christmas, animation, 1965, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Charlie_Brown_Christmas

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, animation, 1964, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolph_the_Red-Nosed_Reindeer_(TV_special)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, animation, 1966, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss%27_How_the_Grinch_Stole_Christmas!_(TV_special)

A Christmas Carol (aka Scrooge), movie, 1951, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrooge_(1951_film)

A Christmas Story, 1983, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Story

A Muppet Family Christmas, 1987, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Muppet_Family_Christmas

 

Beautiful Lady

Old Coyote Trick (standing out) - detail
Old Coyote Trick (standing out) – detail

We share a home with another couple. Upstairs downstairs. We’re the downstairs pair.

The upstairs pair headed out yesterday. Holidays. We’re caring for their place while they’re gone and, more important, caring for Lady.

Lady is a rescue dog. A beauty, both inside and outside. All black but for a medallion of white at her heart, and white at her chin and nose. Age marking her. Her head reaches above my hip when she leans against me, hoping for treats.

We are part of Lady’s pack. She loves nothing better than when all her pack is together, talking, laughing. She goes from one of us to the next, collecting maximum head and back and belly rubs. She, a lady of venerable age, becomes all puppy when this happens. Dancing on our toes, thumping against our legs. Tongue hanging out in sloppy dog laughter. Love and perfect joy.

Our upstairs friends are the alphas of Lady’s pack. Her true loves. Her rescuers. Lady pines for them when they are away.

She lets us distract her with our love, attention, treats, walks, and rubs. And then she goes back to the front deck, or the upstairs door, or the end of the grass by the road. Watching. Waiting.

I watch her from our front window. Lady at her vigil. My heart is heavy for her. I know that vigil and that aloneness. I would take away her pain, if I could.

I can’t.

They’ll be back soon, I tell her.

I rub her head, her soft chest, her back and belly. Give her two treats. Give her my heart. Watch her walk back to the end of the grass and sit down.

Beautiful Lady, they’ll be back soon. I promise.

Invaded by Minions

Kevin and Friends
Kevin and Friends

My studio work table has been invaded by Minions. Well, one Minion, to be precise. His name is Kevin. He is eating a banana and smiling, his yellow cheeks bulged out on one side. Evidently it’s a good banana.

Kevin is only two inches tall, but his effect on me is in the exponential multiples. You know, ten to the millionth power plus.

This is why.

Kevin makes me smile. Makes my insides laugh. He gives me joy, every time I look at him, standing there on my projects pile.

His smile is pure smile. There’s nothing behind it and nothing attached to it. No agenda. Very simply, he’s happy and he’s letting me know that.

I love it when I meet someone who is pure smile. Not only their mouth smiles. It’s all over their face and all over their body. They are unabashedly happy and they are radiating that happiness like an August morning sun. Brilliant. Blazing. You can’t not feel it.

Smiles like this, full body smiles, are contagious. I meet someone who is smiling full-on, and next thing I know, I am beaming back at them. No matter how I feel before I meet them, they change me by the time we part.

We don’t even need to stop and talk. I can pass them on the sidewalk, share smiles, and be changed in seconds.

That’s how powerful we are, when we are in full-on, pure smile. We can change the world. Just by smiling.

Go for it, Kevin. Show me your smile. Invade my world.

How to create sideways

 

banfftable.detailI am a sideways creator.  I travel my own route, follow what feels right to me.  I will listen to what others say, and test out their rules and their methods.  If the rules or the methods feel right, I use them.  If not, I shift a bit to the left or right, sideways, the direction my heart is telling me, and go forward from there.

These are my current rules for creating sideways:

  1. I am the Creator of my creations. No one else is.
  2. There are no Rules with a capital ‘R’.
  3. I get to make up any rules I want for myself, but I can’t impose these on anyone else.
  4. I can add, change, discard, and break my rules any time I wish.
  5. I can make up different rules for each thing I create.
  6. I can make up no rules at all for my creating.
  7. My rules are only a starting point.
  8. I can try out anyone else’s rules if I feel like it, and see if they work for me.
  9. The best rules come from my heart.  What do I love?  What feels good and makes me happy?  What do I want to play with?  What do I want to share?
  10. My rules are play.

There are key words here for the creating sideways method.  Feeling.  Heart.  For myself.  Love.  Happy.  Play.  Share.  This is all I need, all I need carry with me into my studio and into my life.

Play Again

Hand Over Hand (embroidered mylar banners)
Hand Over Hand (embroidered mylar banners)

Saturday, all day, I played with my friends.

We are the Crow Girls, artists all, and writers, film makers, house designers, chefs, gardeners, musicians, mothers, daughters, sisters, partners, a grandmother, aunts, cousins, friends, imaginaters-extraordinaire.  You’d never guess from all that, there are only four of us.  We are much bigger than we look.

All artists are much bigger than they look.  It’s a secret.  Don’t tell.

All day we talked, laughed, danced, played games.  Ate wonderful food.  Sipped green tea and wine and cool water.  Coloured in new colouring books with brand new boxes of crayons, 24 colours for each of us, 96 crayons scattered in joy across the table.  Told stories about our lives, real and imagined.  Planned and dreamed.  Spoke secrets out loud so we no longer carried them alone.  Inspired each other into our grandest selves.  Rejoiced at the lake and sky and trees and wind that watched us from the windows.

This is play, pure joy, friends creating a world that loves us just as we are.  Saturday, we gave this gift to ourselves, a day of play and friendship.  I can imagine no greater gift to share.

I offer it to you.

 

We Are Play

We’ve worn out the day,

my friends and I.

Made it long with laughter.

Voices echo in the late summer air,

come home, it’s supper time.

We sort and pack the tools of our trade,

triumphant in our hands.

Loops of skipping ropes

and Double Dutch songs.

Silver roller skates

and keys on strings.

Hopscotch stones safe in our pockets.

Crayons packed into cardboard boxes

(pack the broken ones last).

Carrie and Cathy

And Marilyn and Nadine.

Fran and Wren

And Yvonka and Cat.

We are play,

done for this day.

Comics traded

and Nancy Drew

ready for reading

late, as the mosquitoes hum

outside the screen

and the night bird I have never seen

hides in the cedars

and calls the sun to bed.

 

Written for the Crow Girls—Fran, Wren, Yvonka, and me.  Your friendship is a gift.  Thank you.

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.

 

 

Everything I know about the human heart

love joy friendship and other complications
love joy friendship and other complications

 

I am cheating a bit in today’s blog post.  I am posting an old piece of writing.  This writing appeared in me at a silent writing and meditation workshop with Natalie Goldberg in 2001.  The writing did more than just appear.  It inspired a series of drawings that became a show.  And it told me what my work is for the rest of my life.  Love.  Draw.  Write.

There was a nurse who, through a friend, asked if she could have a copy of this writing.  I delayed answering, and delayed, and delayed, and never did reply.  I regret this now.  I have forgotten her name.

Whoever you are, wherever you are now, I am sending this out for you.  I hope you see it, print it off, share it if you wish.  I am sorry I never replied and shared this with you.  My heart was not big enough then.  It is now.

Continue reading “Everything I know about the human heart”