Monday, May 31, 2010

Week 8: It is a quiet walk...

Of all the wonderful walks I have enjoyed in Bracebridge, my favourite by far continues to be along River and Wilson’s Falls Roads. Have you walked it yet?  No?  Oh, do!  Stretching about 2 miles from the historic downtown section beginning at Taylor Road right up to Wilson Falls, this section of the Trans Canada Trail takes one gentle twisting turn after another as it hugs alongside the North Branch of the Muskoka River.  It is accessible and beautiful regardless of season.

This trail, even more than others for some reason, seems to be so much about life.   And the seasons of life.   There is the winding river itself and the bustling wildlife maintaining homes along its banks.  And there is the ribbon of trees stretching the entire length of trail - one non-ending string from beginning to end.  I am made freshly aware each hike out that no two trees seem ever to look just alike, no two greens ever seem to quite match entirely.  And the emeralds of the towering pines and deciduous forest leaves reflect back in even deeper saturation up from the river’s still, end-of-day waters.

Everyday there appears to be a new wildflower or weed about to burst open adding a new colour to the mix of the landscape.  And the fragrance – oh, this time of year on a hot sultry evening, the perfume of trees, and wildflowers and wood and water fill you right up full.  There is no perfumery anywhere capable of reproducing the heady fragrances of the woods, banks and waterways along that section of river edge. Beginning with the bushy lilacs at Anne Street still redolent in spring bouquet but sharper now with summer heat, to the very end of the trail at Wilson Falls and mineral scents rising from rushing waters.  Every turn the aromas change as the flowers and wild shrubs mix and re-assort themselves.  There is absolutely nothing in the medicine cabinet or in the wine cellar to equal the healthful mellow and soul-soothing affect of all that.  Now, after walking the trail for some time, I mentally note the small roadmarks along the way – the rough summer docks floating in wait for a canoe or kayak to reappear; a charming tree house ladder leading up to lofty, leafy heights with full river-view seating; the striking drama of the bleached smooth boulders at Bass Rock, and further on, a hidden lookout point, a favourite spot for young lovers sitting closely in peace to talk away into the fading evening hours.

It is a quiet walk.  Somewhere to empty out the days concerns, let go of the weight of worries and free the soul to see and drink in all there is. Tonight, only 2 cars pass, 5 people and one very special golden retriever, panting in obvious delight at the start of summer and new things to chase.  And a lone beaver out for a swim, more of a float really.  Have you noticed what graceful swimmers beavers are?  How expertly they dive straight down deep into their den vestibules?  This little guy tonight seemed content to let the river carry him effortlessly along.  Until suddenly, his attention caught by something entirely unseen to me, he scrambled up onto land, scarcely two feet away.  Thankfully his interest didn't stop at my feet but rather he found something beyond my vision and carried back his secret prize to water’s edge, diving sharply home with it below.

This time of year the walks are mostly joyful.  It feels so good to walk winter tightness out of bones and muscles and drink in a little natural Vitamin D.  Everywhere there is evidence of nature’s determination to grow, expand into any available nook and cranny and thrive MADLY.  Sadly though, death is also part of life’s seasons and tonight on my way back home there lay a very beautiful and well-fed gray squirrel, dead not more than a few moments from auto impact.  Still perfectly formed except for the small trauma to her head, the mother squirrel lay there bright-eyed with her beautiful white belly exposed. It was hard to believe, looking at her soft gray fur, that her last breath had been breathed.  I lifted her warm body, carrying it over to a tree by the river’s edge, settling her down for a final rest amongst tall grasses and small flowers.  And I covered her.  Every life in death deserves privacy, respect, dignity.

Walking in nature for me rights a lot of wrongs, mends wounds, coaxes out the heart’s joy and opens up the eyes wide to the little things in life I just never otherwise notice.  Now, please, don’t get me wrong.  I am not, repeat NOT, a ‘Miss Merry Sunshine’ kind of gal, seeing light and love at every turn.  I AM a growingly cantankerous woman ‘of age’, thoroughly set in my ways, and determinedly more so every advancing year.  And I plan to remain just so, thank you, kindly.  But these walks in nature surely soften the roughly hewn edges of life.  They are an opportunity in an otherwise busy world to listen, see and feel life with one’s very soul.  To connect with the natural world of which we are part.  To gain a renewed sense of where we are in our own personal continuum of time.  To glimpse for a moment, place and purpose of life.

I hope you will all tie on your runners, pack a water bottle and head out onto the trails near you real soon.

Thanks for travelling with me on my footpath this week...

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NOTE regarding the Wilson Falls Trail:
If you are driving there, try any of the many free downtown parking spots near Taylor Road.  However, check any parking limits that might apply.  Or you can arrive by the bright red Santa’s Village Trolley (say hi to one of it’s drivers , Irene, well known for her friendly smile and cheery disposition.  One of Irene's runs is along Taylor Road. She'll point out River Road and the TransCanada Trail if you like - just ask her!  Trolley rides are  just Saturdays for now but start daily runs beginning June 19th until Labour Day weekend.  The schedules are listed at many trolley stops. Or come by rail via the Ontario Northland service… it arrives just steps away from Taylor Road.  An excellent Ontario Northland bus service to town, arrives at various times daily at the southern end of town (Riverside Inn) closer to 3 other walking trails and a couple of parks that I will tell you about later as summer goes on.  Happy Trails!

BBPP Weekly Health Check:
Mind:  It was definitely a case of matter over mind this week.  I do NOT like the humidity.  Heat's okay; humidity not so much.  Just hours before the heat wave ended last week, I thought my nerves would crack - but a long walk with my camera around Bracebridge Bay removed all the prickly nettles that had been stalking about in my brain!  Walking is good for the body, the soul AND THE MIND!  And so is taking pictures!
Body:  Down ANOTHER 2 pounds.  Yippee!  Blood pressure now firmly lowered into the normal range.  High normal, still. There's a ways to go yet.  But how encouraging.  All without pills.  All from the joy of walking about with nature in beautiful Bracebridge.
The Artist Soul:  There were a lot of moments this week.  A little girl about two years, called Boomie who allowed me to take her picture in all the glory of her pink-everything couture, an older couple with their arms firmly wrapped about one another - still lovers in their older years, looking squarely and quite surprisedly into a beaver's eyes from scarcely two feet distance, drinking in the tree-reflection beauty of a hundred shades of green shimmering in the gentle ripples of the Muskoka River.  But the biggest connection was one with the heady scent as I walked in the damp evening heat along Wilson Falls Trail.  It was filling, fulfilling and carried within it so many stories.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Week 7: What do you see when you look?

Taking photos each week, I am becoming keenly aware of 'seeing' and the many ways in which to see. Our eyes may be the tools we use to see and to take photos but these are informed by our soul and our life experience. We see with love, perhaps occasionally with hate, indifference, compassion, greed, generosity, pride or jealousy, in the context of our dreams and fears, with our eyes wide open - or not, with optimism and pessimism - Is my glass half full or half empty?  It depends on the 'what' and 'how' of our personal vision at any moment in time..

We have many expressions for how we see:  "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder", we say. "Eyes are the window of the soul". Before reaching for the ice cream tub AGAIN we might remember that old adage that at times our "eyes are bigger than our stomachs"!  Then we have foresight, hindsight and insight.  More curious is the expression: 'sight unseen'.  Well, it's nice to have something new to look forward to, so bring on 'sites unseen', I say!  

Often we look to see what others see; sadly there are moments we have a heavy responsibility to share what only we ourselves, for the moment, can see. At the root of it all, for me, seeing is about truth. It is interior silence instilled with free inner 'hard-drive' space in which to receive what's on view.  It is committing time to have a proper look at things.  It is defining our personality's 'measuring tools' which gauge what is important and help us sort what needs to be 'in the frame' and what is superfluous or obstructs our view. It's not all about our eyes but also about sensing and feeling, anticipating and grasping what we are looking at in order to SEE.  It's about allowing in light along with shadows so there can be contrast and chiaroscuro. It's about summing up the sum of one's experience to make a decision that NOW is the moment to click the shutter.

We are all artists inside. We all have artist's sight.  We might not stop to take the pictures or paint them but we 'see' what's important:  the pride in a child's achievement, the bustle of a family meal, the faded comfort of our old blue jeans, healing hands, aging hands, eyes that speak truth, clear blue skies stretching on forever.  Sometimes, not so happily, we see sad sights we'd rather NOT see - an inconsolable child, the polluted gauze settling over our large cities, a forest clear-stripped of it's towering majestic trees.  We do see.  But then WHAT DO WE DO?

This is what is at the heart of an artist's sight - the call, ability and commitment to interpret what is seen.  To breathe it all in, absorb it, reshape it with experience from within the soul and offer it all back again interpreted and re-formed to speak to anyone with the inclination to stop a moment and see - anew.

I invite all of you to share in the 'homework' I have set out for myself this week. To look beyond commonplace-seeing, allowing what is seen to sink into the soul.  To discover more about that which is  seen, to add to it one's experience and insights and 'view'. I don't know what will emerge this week but I will offer up the 12 pictures that mean the most to me after doing this homework and share them with you in seven days time. I will tell you why I chose those photos and what I 'saw' when I took them. Maybe I will look carefully into someone's eyes, be amazed at the chestnut fur running along the chipmunk's back, discover a dozen shades of mauve in this spring's lilacs, or veins full and raised in the spring leaves or bright orange bursting from a carrot. We'll 'see'!  

Please join me.
If you take some pictures, have some thoughts, experience some revelations, report back here so we can share in what YOU see. Meanwhile here are some thoughts to inspire us all:

Samuel T. Coleridge:
My eyes make pictures when they are shut.
G. K. Chesterton:
One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak.
Joseph Chilton Pearce:
Seeing within changes one's outer vision.
Henry David Thoreau:
The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
Marcel Proust:
The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Mark Twain:
You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
Carl Jung:
Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.
Thomas Carlyle:
Stop a moment, cease your work, and look around you.

Thanks for travelling with me on my footpath this week...

BBPP Weekly Health Check:
Mind:   Eleanor Roosevelt says it all for me this week:  "You must do the thing you think you cannot do"  Covered with poison ivy, I was faced with a large order to finish on deadline.  And then like the seven plagues, along came a disabling scourge of black fly bites leaving no mobility in my neck.  Thanks, Mrs. Roosevelt.  You have always been a tremendous inspiration and certainly that was the case this week
Body:  Covered in Ivy Poison blisters the size of cherry tomatoes, sunburned, eaten alive by black flies to the point of bearing a frightening resemblance to Alvin the Chipmunk - with mumps! - I have decided it is time to prepare better for the health walks ahead.  I will be adding some hiking tips (including prevention!) on my Bracebridge Photo Project Facebook Page over the coming days.  Thanks to Cousin Dave, from North Carolina who has sent some very useful tips regarding poison ivy.
The Artist Soul:  I am drunk this week on lilacs - the vision, the shade, the perfume of them.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Week 6: Remembering the 50's...

All of us at one time or another listened to our grandparents telling us how things were in the good old days.  Some of us rolled our eyes heavenward silently mouthing, “Oh, no, not AGAIN!” We were NEVER going to grow old like them complaining that things these days just aren’t what they were. No siree. Not us. But nearly 60 years have gone by and I find that I LIKE remembering. So if you’re young and you’re listening in on this conversation go ahead and roll your eye balls if you must but it won’t stop me because I am finally at that point of life where I can begin to say, “I remember when...”

The richest memories are of family and neighbourhood where on weekends  almost every  kid could be found at the Bayview Theatre’s Saturday MatinĂ©e.  The cost?  25 cents plus a dime to spend next door at the penny candy shop.  We’d wander into the theatre clutching little paper bags filled with the likes of black balls, powdered sherbets with licorice ‘straws’, ‘Thrills’ gum and some tiny candy bits called ‘Sen Sens’ which burned our mouths. Theaters were designed to gracious proportions with second floor ‘smoking lodges’ and although the big MGM studio days were drawing to a close movies were still a big event. Excitement was palpable as heavy red velvet drapes would draw aside announcing the start of another feature film and a hush would fall over the crowd. We still had movie REELS in the 50's and these required changing midway through films.  So intermissions were filled with  draws and excited kids would check and recheck ticket stubs hoping to win something from the mountain of prizes up on stage -  like the blue and black striped vinyl beach bag which I won and just adored, carrying it with me everywhere.  And there were other events like YoYo demonstrations - remember ‘walk the dog’? - or hula hoop contests.  

TVs were the new ‘big thing’ in the 50’s - ‘I Love Lucy’, ‘Donna Reed’, Jackie Gleason’s ‘The Honeymooners’, the iconic ‘Ed Sullivan’, Jane Meadows in ‘Our Miss Brooks’ and then the family shows - ‘Leave it to Beaver’, ‘Make Room for Daddy’ and ‘Father Knows Best’ in which Robert Young invariably DID know best each and every week. On Fridays Mom would buy a package each of peanuts and jube jubes (which USED to taste like real fruit) and mixed them all up in a bowl before we settled in to watch Raymond Burr solve his most recent case in the long-running hit, ‘Perry Mason’. Television changed the way we ate and the creation of TV frozen dinners was pretty much inevitable.  We would all eat at least occasionally off of wobbly ‘TV tables’ parked in front of our Admirals or RCAs. This was a big departure for us 50’s kids who were the end of that generation which sat around the dining room table together EVERY NIGHT talking about school and work and what WERE those neighbours up to?

I remember Hallowe’en when it was spelled with an apostrophe and it was a night to go out to scare and be scared. Every kid was known by every adult on the street and no one worried.     Mr. and Mrs. Gregg (we NEVER called adults by their FIRST names or the sky would fall, wouldn't it?) 3 doors down always made sponge taffy and we kids bee lined over there not wanting to miss one single sticky burnt-sugar bite.  Costumes were pretty simple and home made and usually involved sheets or ballet outfits or something else we could find around the house. But there was nothing mundane or simple about how excited these costumes made us feel. 

Schools were the hub of neighbourhoods in the 50's and Moms knew that’s where their kids would to be found after school - playing ball, skipping, shooting alleys.  It all felt and was so safe. ALL the Moms in the neighbourhood were the boss of us back then. Telling us to go home, do up our coats, eat our bread crusts and TAKE OFF YOUR MUDDY BOOTS! No one was bussed or car pooled in and teachers remembered all our brothers and sisters - saints and sinners alike - whom they had taught in preceding years.  We sat in straight little rows in class and our teachers (we each only had ONE teacher) knew us almost better than did our families. We wore uniforms back then and proudly sewed on them our badges of scholarship earned for being good students (what choice did we have in the 50’s?) and singing in the choir.  

It would take another life time to remember it all.  Some things I really do miss like milk deliveries- including buttermilk although Mother said it wasn’t as good as it was in HER day when the cream rose thickly to the top of the bottles.  We could still brag of glass bottles in the 50’s and milk delivered directly into quirky little milk boxes built into the side of every house in the neighbourhood - long since gone or bricked up now I imagine. And Mr. Giovanni would park his truck right in the middle of our street to sell families Italian bread warm still from his ovens. Garbage was put out in paper bags and mail got delivered TWICE a day at Christmas. Loblaw’s had GREEN STAMPS and after licking thousands of these into endless books my ever-practical mother cashed in ours for a bathroom scale.  How DID my young imagination survive?

Baby-boomers grew up with a collective memory of peaceful times, stability and future vision.  Born after the end of WW2 and at the onset of terrific growth in technology, science and medicine, we were wrapped in a sense of security and an open ended vision of our futures. It wasn’t anything that was said to us - we just knew it.   Looking forward there was nothing we couldn’t achieve. We all understood the same code of conduct - good manners, respect for elders, hard work, obey the law, go to church, save your money, don’t waste time and don’t buy ‘on time’. My mother would have insisted I add, “And, don’t spend money on Monday or you will spend it all week long!” And we looked up to adults. Every policeman was our friend. Teachers were THE LAW - there was no disrespect tolerated and none contemplated - we were all too terrified of adult authority. And if our teachers didn’t catch us you can be sure our parents would! 

No one is going to put real fruit flavour back into jube jubes or reintroduce the 25 cent matinĂ©e. But the times were gentle and dear to us and for that reason we want to remember as much as we can for as long as our gray cells can manage the effort. 

Thanks for travelling with me on my footpath this week...

BBPP Weekly Health Check:
Mind:Having lived in Bracebridge only 2 years, it still all feels pretty new to me here.  Getting out and about with a camera and taking pictures of various places and objects makes the town feel more 'familiar'.  It's like being at a party where you only know the host - and him just slightly.  But once you start working your way around the room and getting to know people, you begin to relax and feel at home.  Taking pictures makes me feel more at home every walk I take with places and even individual trees and birds taking on a familiar, friendly association.
Body: Another 2 pounds bit the dust this week.  Over the past 2 months the systolic pressure has dropped by 30 points and the diastolic by a dozen or so. This is one time when 'nowhere to go but down' is a GOOD thing!  And it all results from walking about enjoying the beautiful town of Bracebridge.
The Artist Soul:Did you hear that lonely robin singing at 3:30 a.m. the other night?  Smell the lilacs?  Feel the cool spray from the Falls? 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Week 5: On the theme of solitude, or “How I became a card-maker”.

Late last evening I bade good night to the laptop, the computer and the stuffed St. Bernard which sits - undusted - on the printer.  Time to find a new cat pal.  Ya think?  Something that breathes and moves and maybe meows back once in awhile.   A little furry person that would make demands and run by in the occasional blur.

People sometimes ask if I don't find it hard to live and work alone spending so much time in silence.  Since much of the day is given over to emailing customers, suppliers and friends, I'm not sure how deeply that silence extends anymore.  And I do love some pretty noisy kinds of things - Klezmer music, railway trains, raccoons fighting over fish in the moonlight and fire engines going full blast.  You betcha. But yes, for the most part, I do live in quiet and solitude, embracing it fully.

And it has been pretty much life long.  Even at 5 years of age - too little to read much - I would leaf through my
older brother's Rand McNally Atlas hunting down quiet, lonely looking places to dream about.  I suspected these would be without tall buildings, cars and the city noise there was even back in 50’s Toronto.  I’d stare hard at the unnamed places high at the top of the map of Canada, wondering and restless. This wanderlust was helped further along by an old 45 rpm vinyl I would play over and over and OVER again to the saintly forbearance of our neighbours, the Dorseys. And, lord forgive me, I sang right along with it:  “The Westward wind... is a restless wind... a restless wind that yearns to wander..."  Such a dreamy, earnest child.

I knew very likely these map places with no names were different from any I'd experienced in my young life.  And this bore true in later years, when I made a journey to the arctic, travelling up the MacKenzie River to the delta region by boat into Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk and then finally over water by plane to Banks Island and Fox Inlet.  And yes, it was quiet there - a whole vast island of solitude - and it was quite wonderfully different and mysterious. We boated in crystal clear waters, ate fresh arctic char right out of the icy waters and feasted on local caribou.  We dug our ice cream out from the natural permafrost freezers in the ground.  No need for Frigidaires up there.  What I remember most about it all now in retrospect was the howl of the incessant wind, the Inuit people’s sing-song voices and the cry of the circling sea birds high overhead all filling that solitude and quenching the soul.

The theme of silence prevailed to such extent that in my late 20's and over a period of 10 years, I began to look at the question of living life as a nun - very particularly the life of a contemplative. I visited a cloistered monastery spending time with the sisters sharing in the rhythm of their day.  I recall awakening early each morning to a bell ringing at my door and Sister who would call out each of our names - calling us sequentially to consciousness and chapel.  There I would mouth sync along not wanting to disturb the pure notes rising from their Gregorian chants and the sung ‘office’ - the official prayers of the church - which rose clear and high as one awe-inspired voice of praise and reverence.  We started the day lightly tidying and cleaning and later I joined them in making altar bread, the work which financed their lives. Even nuns, I discovered, have bills to pay.  There, as in the arctic, I did find peace, mystery and food for the soul. But the questions of our lives and our hearts can be hungry ones and in the end, despite witnessing those lives so beautifully lived, it did not fill my heart or answer the questions asked. Nor did life at another convent where I eventually did enter to become a nun.  I left there within the year.  It was not for me and not my particular call to solitude. 

By now I was devastated and truly without compass. Who on this earth takes 10 years to decide anything about anything? Yet here I was and quite at the end of knowing what to do next.  I had tried every door and it had been such a long process.  Life’s ‘call’ is called a 'call' for a reason though and really when the sacred asks questions in our lives, we just have to answer them.  It's like a loud door buzzer that just will NOT stop buzzing. You gotta go see what and who is there - and what they want - or risk one giant headache.
As with a lot of things in life, the best answers can be laughably simple and arrive simply too if we give them a chance.  One night at home after supper with a few friends, I asked one of them, a painter-artist:  “Frances, what do I do now?”  To which she replied without skipping a beat, “Make cards”.  Don’t laugh.  That’s all it took.  I started full time that week and here we are 23 years later - Card City.  I suppose there are lots of morals to this story. I’ll leave that part of the story-telling up to you all.  For me, at this moment what’s important in the retelling of it is that in pulling these threads together I can see more of the cloth of my life - brought together into one single-slide view.

Thanks for travelling with me on my footpath this week...


BBPP Weekly Health Check:
Mind: Too busy this week.  Some times it's hard to keep life simple.  Have begun working on some camera tricks.  ISO, landscape shots, metering distance.  One button at a time. Stay tuned...

Body: Lost another 2 pounds but the BP is sky high.  Again.  Need to keep the faith.  Walked every single day to great enjoyment.

The Artist Soul:  Had a couple of lovely visual moments along a trail here in Bracebridge which leads up to Woodchester Villa.  The first surprise was to see multiple patches of red trilliums followed moments later by white ones.  And then, still on the trail as I rounded a turn, there lay ahead a most beautiful collage of limes and dark greens.  It was the late evening sun brilliantly hitting spots in a patch of trees and ground cover.  Took my breath clear away.  Tried a photo and captured it a little bit at least.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week 4: On discipline, moderation and the soul's passion..

Work is piled up this week - Mother's Day orders to get out, birthday and wedding crackers underway, new card catalogues to print, and a big corporate order to fill. It takes lots of discipline to work as an artisan studio filling highly customized jobs and juggling irregularly arriving orders with all-too-regular bills; working into the wee hours many nights of the week. Sigh.

Thankfully the biz has generated piles of work this year and I feel oh-so-gratefully relieved.  It’s been years and years and YEARS with agonizingly slow growth. And the birth of it all can’t come a moment too soon for this old girl and the friends who have ‘angsted’ right along with me. Honestly I am physically, mentally and spiritually pooped by it all. BRING ON SUCCESS, I say!

I remember, gratefully, my wonderful Doctor empathizing with me over this years ago, saying, “Gillian, you have so many ‘NOs’ in your life!”

And there have there been many NO's – in spades.
NO, you can’t afford new shoes” and NO you can’t garden this weekend, dear girl. there are ORDERS to see to” and “NO you can’t have your prescriptions filled yet - JUST STAY WELL ANOTHER WEEK.” and "Walk away from that tomato, darling, because it is NOt in this week’s grocery budget” and, annually, of course there is NO, there can be NO cottage vacation this year...NO you may NOt have another cat-pal just now... and NO, there can be NO new i-Mac.” and, finally,  NO, girl, you definitely, very most definitely, canNOt have that second muffin!”  NoNoNO!

Well, shoot.

It has taken SO MUCH DISCIPLINE. Isn't discipline another word for ‘moderation’? A little reining in of one's self in order to keep life on a middle path, avoiding the penalties of extremism. After all that’s why we don’t eat that second muffin, right? So I am kind of amazed to find out at this late stage that really discipline has been an extreme in my life – my personal Abraham Maslow-ian path to meeting the ‘hierarchy of needs’; to keeping the light of creativity burning, however tentatively at times, in the soul. Because somewhere so deep inside that I can’t even tell you where exactly the place is, is the need to create. And for that I have been willing, even almost gladly and needfully willing, to embrace extreme discipline and to give up just about everything in grateful return.

There is an inner spring-shoot of personal, spiritual passion that keeps insisting it’s way up though the grounds of moderation. You just can’t trample on it forever and still keep on really 'living'. It’s that simple. Grow it must - to be what it was born to be. I think we all can be a little afraid at times of extremes, tending to rein them in. And it’s not just all about the excesses of second muffins and fat hips we are worried about. We are wary to startle or burden others with what we fear may be our excesses. Wary to scare them or drive them away with the passions in our hearts and of our dreams. Wary to scare ourselves even in the course of trying to express to ourselves, the passions that lie so very deeply within us. We think possibly we might find, should we try, that all hell breaks loose and we can’t put Pandora back in her box. Our self-understanding and relationships with others may irrevocably change and THEN what will we do! And so we go on with life dressed in muted personas but with a growing, uneasy suspicion there is a personal message we are not hearing and there is something we need very deeply to be doing - and are not.  And the clock that waits for no one, ticks on.

Being an artisan there is an inborn drive to express passion and to midwife creativity and dreams– to realize these no matter how much or how long this might take us. But, as I get older, I realize that even the creativity of my work is not all of my soul's work and is not the sum of my human soul’s passion. Now, approaching 60, I find there is an additional kick-in-the-pants, to meet with whatever honesty and integrity I can muster, other, unlived passions of being human. This is a highly personal place to be. And it is sacred. I don’t know what the biblical equivalent would be. It’s not a ‘Moses at the burning bush’ kind of moment. 'Have been there, done that' anyway, as the saying goes, when I entered the convent many years hence and again when I became a card-maker. This is another, more mature moment.  It is, I deeply believe, a moment in preparation of our meeting with God.

I was working on my line of quote cards this week and came across this gem from Eleanor Powell: “What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift back to God.” So I am on this footpath trying to meet - full monty - life's passions, know them, dance merrily with them, cry with them and discover in them the most sacred gifts that they are. No answers this week. Just a kick in the pants. Just the start of a long walk.

Thanks for travelling with me on my footpath this week...

BBPP Weekly Health Check:

Mind: It’s hard to find the time to give the mind the freedom to just flow. The work and financial pressures are so unrelenting. But I am sticking to my plan grabbing one whole block of time each week for the Bracebridge Photo Project. My mind now has a little oasis to look forward to every week – time to ‘see’ with the camera, time to reflect and let suppressed thoughts flow. It is freeing up more mental space for the work week too. Took me 23 years to figure this out? Duh.

Body: BP took another dip this week. Legs are limbering and feeling stronger, pulse rate is slowing. YEAH walking!

The Artist Soul: (Written mid-week while sitting on the summer dock, feet dangled over the Muskoka River at BraceBridge Bay.) We’ve had a long dry spell and the waters over the falls are greatly diminished; yet the river continues to run fast. A late day sun is kissing the water with shine and sparkle. A steady breeze is travelling the length of the river carrying with it the strong fishy smell of spring. And also the voices of the two women discussing how, in concert, to turn their canoe in the waters. A black fly has zeroed in on my space and I heartily decline acquaintanceship. Time to go home and make dinner.