Sunday, September 25, 2016

True Love

Mates - Esquimalt Lagoon
Gillian Cornwall, c. May 2016

Poems and plays have been written, odes have been sung, films have been made and, as a species, it appears to allude us or, at the very least, confuse us:

True Love

What the hell is it and why do we sometimes feel like everyone but us is reaping the benefits of its rainbows and lollipops? 

The thing is, I'm starting to cotton on to the idea that true love starts within each of us. It lies in a soft, warm bed of self care and self belief. It comes when we set down the baggage we have often taken on from another - simply because they needed us to or they told us to or because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. We become lifelong pack mules for others because we believe them more worthy of a lighter path than we ourselves deserve. Why? 

Practice - that is what I am guessing. Sometimes when we do something for long enough, it becomes our norm. We no longer have a comprehension of lightness of spirit, of space within, of joy and comfort within ourselves because we have lost the ability to set down the baggage of others and move forward without it. 


Damn it

We want someone to notice the sacrifice we have made for them.


What if we just set it all down? 
What if we didn't worry about whether anyone cared that we have sacrificed?
What if we let go of our sense of loss?

We all want to be seen, heard and understood. How about we see ourselves, acknowledge that we have carried enough, or even set out to find the person willing to remind us we needn't carry it - the folks who heal and help us rest? 

Why do we need permission? We don't need permission. There is a new great lie in the world that busy and tired are badges of honour we receive for giving away too much, for wearing ourselves into the ground without stopping. 

This is an errant concept. It serves no-one. 

Put your stuff down. Stretch. Breathe. Look in the mirror and love the warrior you see in front of you. When you stop and engage in self-care, you will begin to heal. Love the amazing being that you have become on your journey. You are more than a pack animal of your own history. You are more than a survivor. You are the epitome of life in every step of your journey. You, and you alone, have the autonomy and capacity to reinvent yourself with love, strength and compassion from all you have seen, all you have borne and all those you have helped along the way.

A change of season
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015

When you stop to heal, you will create space and strength within yourself. You will remember that self care and love for the gift of your life is the essence of true love. In healing your worn and weary soul, in loving yourself truly, you will create the foundation from which the capacity to give love without need for reciprocation grows. With the ability to feel perpetually full without fear of loss and certain of your place among all of life, you will experience the true love that cannot be battered with the changing tides and clamoring of those around us. You will master the art of setting and balancing your own course with self awareness and awareness of others. From excellent self care arises the ability to care well for others. 

Find your strength within and know that this is your true love. 

Lay down your burden.
Most of it was never yours to carry.
This is your life.
Raise your arms and open them to the universe.
We are with you.
We are inextricably one.
In every cell of your being lies the truth,
the very essence of life and love.
You have everything you require. 

You are well.
You are complete.
You are true love.

Autumn Skies - Heaven on Earth
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014

You are true love, you truly are. You will not find love in another; you will find a reflection of yourself in their eyes, in the smile they have for you because you are you - whole, complete, perfect in each step of your journey. 

True love? Go look in the mirror. Look deeply into your own eyes, into your soul light. It's right there. It's you. 

Gillian Cornwall, c. September 25, 2016

Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014

 Photo of me by Doug Grant
Rifflandia, c. 2014

Saturday, September 17, 2016

In Stillness and In Motion

Gillian Cornwall, c. July 2015

Breathing, balancing on the edge of a new day, before sleep takes my hand to guide me into the dreamscape. I am the hawk, in perfect repose within the arc of two currents. My wings are spread and I hold my own while the wind blows. With a fractional tilt, I glide into a new air stream. 

Sky Diver, Oak Bay Tea Party
Gillian Cornwall, c, July 2015

From that moment of stillness, before the start of the journey, I see above me, below me, through me and around me. Whether held on the current or gliding through time, I have recognized my freedom to move through my life, just as my pen glides across the page - the motion, the words, as unique and fresh as the molten lava flowing from Hawaii - creating more world, more life, with each exhalation to the whole. 

The Big Island of Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c November 2006

We are blessed in our lives with the gift of life itself - a promise, a chance to do well, to pay attention, to give and to receive. May the gift of being always be enough. May we be grateful for our lives, in stillness and in motion, through tears and laughter, through joy and pain. May we love freely and without holding.

With gratitude and love to each of you for taking the time to read my words and share your stories.
-Gillian Cornwall, September 18, 2016
c. September 13, 2015

Greenfields, Stow on the Wold, England
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

Sunday, September 11, 2016


Summit Park Garry Oaks
Pencil, Graphite and Ink on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c 2010
Not Available

Down time: Puzzles, tea, a sketchbook, a novel, a hammock, the cottage, a tropical vacation, a walk by the sea, a nap, a walk in the forest, a movie... the list goes on, doesn't it? There are a million things I love to do (or not do) to recharge my engines. I don't know about you but there just doesn't seem to be enough of it either.

I remember when I was a kid - there seemed to be tons of it. I supposed that comes with a privileged, middle-class childhood. I can't remember the last time I just lay under a tree and stared at clouds floating across a big blue sky through branches swaying in a gentle breeze. When I was a youngster, Heather McGhee and I used to ride our bikes to the Mill Pond on a Saturday and eat our bagged lunches on the grass under the tent-like boughs of the giant willow tree. It was peaceful and fun. We had exercise, food, talk and rest. Life was quite perfect.

I don't know when we lose that space, that time, to just be. I am often admonished for the time I spend staring into one of my many devices: laptop, desktop, iPod, smart phone, e-reader, Etch-a-Sketch ...just seeing if you were paying attention. I actually do have an Etch-a-Sketch - two, actually and I love them. I would definitely put Etch-a-Sketch in the down time list.

Big Island of Hawaii
Oil Pastel and Mineral Oil on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2006

As you can see, I've included some of my own drawings in this post. The thing is, I used to draw in my down time too. I studied with a number of artists and I used to draw pretty much every day - during lunches, after work and on the weekend. Now that I am writing avidly (on the second draft of my first novel) and sending short works and poetry off to magazines, I don't have as much time to draw, so that has gone a bit by the wayside for now.

Victoria Warehouses
Oil Pastel on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2006

Now it seems, to really get down time, I have to take time off work in large chunks, get any necessary chores out of the way that absolutely have to be done and THEN I can take some down time after I've worked on the writing that has lain dormant because I've been too tired or too this and that... Blah, blah, blah. And trust me, I know, this is all first world problem nonsense but what I really want to get at is, I think it is crucial to make time to chill out - whatever that means to you. If we want to be well then we need to get exercise, eat well, laugh as much as possible, love with an open heart and HAVE FUN!

The House
Watercolour Pencil on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2004

Even though I was laid off this year with my position being made redundant, I am still getting work there and it is a beautiful location. At lunch, I try to make time to walk to peaceful campus getaways like Mystic Vale - which absolutely restores the soul - particularly from the distress of uncertain employment! I have learned we boldly walk forward with gratitude and a good heart despite the changing times. I have another day, another opportunity to love and be a part of good lives in a beautiful place. I am not without fear in this - I am not perfect - but positive thoughts help lead to positive results. I remain committed to service for those who need it, benefit from it and have the grace and open hearts to receive it.

The Mallard
Watercolour Pencil on Paper
5 x 7
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2004

What do you do for down time? I'm open to new ideas, suggestions and hilarious anecdotes. I'm excited to know that I'm not alone in my need to chill out. I believe that it is in our moments of freedom, our moments of lightness, that greatness happens. Breathe deeply and give space to your potential. Open your mind and heart to all that is here for us if we just stop for a minute, breathe into our bellies and connect to "all". Yesterday I went for a nice dinner with someone I love and drove down by the cruise ships and welcomed all the new visitors to Victoria! They were quite surprised and delighted to have complete strangers welcoming them to the city! 

Baby Parker
Pencil on Paper
Gillian Cornwall
Commissioned - Not available

I think that if we can integrate down time back into our work, we will achieve much greater standards of excellence. Greatness takes time, space and belief in ourselves and each other. All too often, I look around me and I see people racing to check off the boxes. "Let's get it done!" And all too often, if we stopped, thought and made space for thinking outside of the box, we would get it done a lot better, faster and with greater enjoyment.

Arwen Portrait
Pencil on Paper
4 x 6
Gillian Cornwall, c.1999
Not for sale

There is time. There is space. We just need to allow ourselves to take it. Most of us do not NEED more stuff or more money to get more stuff. We need to stop, slow down and be present in our lives. Down time. That's what we need.

The Grizzly Bear
Oil Pastel on Paper
Gillian Cornwall, c. 1996

This is your imposed down time between a grizzly bear and a farm cat. *Breathe here* :-)

Boots the Cat
Oil Pastel on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c.1994

If anyone is interested, please share your thoughts on this subject by leaving a comment below or on Facebook. I know most people just want to have a look and duck out unnoticed and that is fine too. I hope you are off to do something fun and relaxing - maybe do some of your own drawings?

The West Coast Rainforest - Long Beach
Ink on Paper
Not Available for sale
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2009

While I may seem fairly light-hearted about this, I want to acknowledge that there are millions of people around the world who struggle in every hour of every day just to survive and if those of us who have so much shared just a bit with someone else, we could ease their path a great deal and perhaps allow them to stop and breathe one day without having to worry all the time. There is always more we can do for others and this can be a down time thing too. Read to someone who can't read for themselves anymore. Bring someone a treat. Make a donation if you can. Share your beautiful gifts with another person - for we are one and we are greater together than apart.

The Wave
Oil Pastel and Mineral Oil on Paper
8 x 10
Gillian Cornwall, c. 1988

Thanks for stopping by and having a read. I hope you enjoyed it. I love sharing with each of you and send you love and blessings for a peaceful and joyous day. Know that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, someone out here is thinking of you and wishing you the very best of life. Never give up. Walk your path with your head held high and feel the simple joy of the sun on your face when it does shine.

-Gillian Cornwall, re-posted September 11, 2016
c. November 2, 2014

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Autumn Life

Wild Kitten, Autumn in Saanich
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2014

"The thought manifests as the word,
The word manifests as the deed,
The deed develops into habit,
And the habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its way with care,
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings."
K. Sri Dhammananda
-How to Live Without Fear and Worry

There is no light so great as the light of the universe that shines through me. With this light, I have all that I need. That which is not held cannot be taken. I will continue to walk my path of truth regardless of the decisions of others. I cannot be made to act against my heart. The light of life shines through me eternal. There is peace in this. No matter what is said or done around me, I act in my best truth and light. Aloha. The breath of god flows through me. I am one with all. Peace and light are my path.

As we rocket ourselves into autumn for another year of "busy-ness," let us not forget these words. Our connections to one another - our time and truth - are of the utmost importance to our survival - more than our schedules, regiments and our desire to fill our days with "busy." Hug your children. Play with them. Listen to your elders. Speak your truth kindly. Stop and talk to a stranger who looks lost or lonely. Add one simple "e" to who you are by being humane, rather than just human. 

Gillian Cornwall, September 4
Original text edited from, May 24, 2012

Pattypan Squash, Dan's Farm Market, Saanich
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2014

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wounded In Action

Wounded In Action
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2013

More than anything, I wish I were a great writer. It would be wonderful to be a great anything, but I really want to be a great and successful writer.

I am feeling incessantly mediocre as I work and work and never win a single writing contest. I have had two publishing successes with the same local magazine. I am grateful for their willingness to publish my work. Writing is what I want to do above all else and I will continue to do it, but I must work a day job everyday in order to keep a door between me and the streets.

All day, every Sunday, I work on these blog posts for the week: writing, editing, publishing and promoting. I haven't monetized it yet but I may do some very specific advertising on it that relates to the literature that inspires some of the posts. I could give it up and focus solely on submissions to literary magazines to see if my skill and luck improve with respect to writing contests and publication. Some people have told me that the blog is of value to them and that, in my estimation, makes it a worthy enough undertaking; however, if the writing is crap to mediocre and remains so despite my best efforts, then perhaps it is of no use and I should stop.

I still have no regular job following my layoff in the spring and that wears me down though I try not to worry. I'm 54 and, financially, just getting by with massive credit card debt. I try to stay positive but sometimes that is the hardest thing in the world and it takes all of my energy.

I never want to be homeless again. I couldn't go to my home when I lived with a violent alcoholic in my twenties. I spent my time wandering the streets before anyone caught on to what was happening. I have written about it. Did anyone read it? Did it make a difference or was it self-serving tripe?  I don't have a writing degree though I study daily. I will never get a university degree now. I hated post-secondary school because I was closeted and desperately lonely in my difference. I was assaulted and made to feel "less than" because of my difference. That has continued throughout my life courtesy of misogyny and hetero-normative dismissal (at best) and hate and physical/sexual attacks (at worst).

I read more books than you could imagine. I think I am getting better at writing though I will likely never make any money at it. Perhaps my work is too harsh, too honest or not cheerful enough. Perhaps it is not in the style that a publisher desires. I have no idea. I am working on the second draft of my first novel though I have no idea how to get it in front of anyone. I doubt any of you know, save the few who are writers or published authors. To you, I admire your skill, your tenacity and your good fortune. Seeing your success allows me to believe that some writers get published once in a while. Like Van Gogh, will my eventual demise guarantee me appreciation of my work in the afterlife? Seems so cruel to gain fame after a lifetime of work and not even know it because you are dead. What a torture - like screaming, unheard, into a storm. I am nothing like Van Gogh in my skill, though perhaps so in temperament. I know I am absurd in my hope and penitent in my sulking.

To those of you who have purchased visual art from me recently, thank you deeply for your patronage and appreciation of the work.

To those of you who have taken the time to read my writing and let me know that my work was of value and meant something to you, thank you - I hope I have expressed my gratitude to you, for it is massive.

To those of you who have no desire to be artists above all else, count your blessings. It is an unfortunate thing to know your love and not be able to pursue it in every waking hour, until it is the best it can be, because you must do something else in order to survive. Those of you who get paid to do what you love are fortunate to be paid for following your heart.  I like the paid work I do right now very much. I am of service and I am grateful for the kindness with which I am treated in my temporary job. I complete my duties with a good heart and do my best to go above and beyond expectations. I am cautiously grateful for the door remaining between me and what has proved itself to be a cold and brutal world at times. The loss of my permanent position has reminded me of how tenuous that state of protection is, how close I am to the street again, but this time as a middle-aged woman faced with extraordinary and seemingly impossible circumstances. The entire process to find this mangy old dog another permanent position is cruel and unusual for one whose position was made redundant having served diligently and with a good heart for twenty years. What a surprise: middle-aged, barren, spinster is deemed worthless by white, hetero-normative society. Hey, look, it's still 1950!

I am a good old soul with not so much hope left and I want to be honest about how this feels. I know it is not pretty and not empowering, but if any woman reads this who feels she is the only woman left holding the shitty end of the stick as she enters her senior years, if she thinks it is she who has failed, if she believes she is not good enough - well, if enough of us women actually speak our truth, maybe people will see that something is systemically wrong, that patriarchy and misogyny are still tearing women down and that we are still being treated as valueless - particularly if we are not attached to a man as his chattels - and we do not appear or identify as female in a way that pleases men. Gender attachment to physical sex organs is a misogynist trap to make women meet the desires of men. It is a set up and it is BS. Many of us women still feel compelled to do this to survive and it makes me sad. Every time I see myself trying to prove myself worthy to a man for ANYTHING, my level of self hate escalates; It is cumulative and as heavy as a plague upon me. It is branded into my skin:


I doubt every woman feels this way; hell, maybe no one does, but there you have it. Another week and, if nothing else, another honest post that I should or should not have kept to myself. Marching on through another week with wishes for light, love and laughter and a sense of peaceful well-being to each of you. Many things are good. I have a home. I have food to eat. I have work to do that serves well. I have the capacity to keep going. I have technology to reach out and share. Perhaps, after all, this will be enough and, for these things, and the love I have from those in my life, I am grateful. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. August 27, 2016

Once upon a time, Cape Cod, Mass. USA
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014
Photographed from home movies shot by Brian F Cornwall, c. 1966

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Small Starts

Winter in the Cowichan
Graphite, ink, water colour pencil on paper 
Approx 8"x10" - $100
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2010

small starts 
and endings with a tear
a life of hearts 
and no replacement parts
we turn from fear 
to cheer
when we realize the clock is ticking
without misgiving
without a lie 
we love
we reach 
beyond our past
make it last
this life
is yours
small starts

-Gillian Cornwall, c. August 21, 2016.

Live as though each minute counts because it does. 

Everything you do, everything you feel, counts. You affect the whole universe with each thing you feel, think, say and do. Try very hard to remember this and ingrain it into your lifestyle. Treat others as you would be treated knowing you are loved and deserving of well-being - no matter your past; no matter what you have been told; no matter what you have learnt to believe to be true about yourself that leaves you feeling "less-than." 

Each of us has the gift of life and, with each breath, there lies opportunity for joy and wonder. It is that simple. Do not let your past anchor you to pain that was never yours to carry. Let go. Release it. Break free. Thank it for the lessons of compassion it may have taught you and release the bitterness of what it has taken away - for the bitterness hurts only you. 

You are so loved by the Earth herself! She feeds you and offers you her life-giving water. Turn your heart to the great mother and thank her for this gift. Give back to her. Recreate the bond between you and her life force. Sparks; small starts; life; yours. 

We are one. 

Gillian Cornwall, c. August 21, 2016.

The Woods - on the footpath to Tring, Hertfordshire
Gillian Cornwall, c. October, 2015.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

LOVE. What is it?

Fernwood Painted Power Poles
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014

Ah love, amour, the passion of the heart! Odes are written to it, people die for it, statues and edifices are built to it, but what the blazes is it actually and why is it causing such a kerfuffle?

Is it what happens between the sheets?
Gumby and Pokey - cuddling ...that is all.
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

Is it a feeling like you have gone to heaven because someone makes you feel all funny inside?
Mount Baker on a Summer Day
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

Is it a walk with someone on a Spring day, thinking of all the wonders you have shared and will share, today and ever more?
Spring in Victoria, Finnerty Gardens, UVic, BC

Gillian Cornwall, c. 2011

What is it, anyway?

All I have is this, in whatever state of togetherness or separateness from another human:

Love is energy. It is the energy that is constant, just as in physics. It is an energy that cannot be taken away. It may change along the way. It may shift from one way of being to another but it is eternal regardless of its form.

If we think of love as energy, as the energy of the universe flowing through us and all around us, then perhaps we can let go of fear a little. Perhaps we can breathe more deeply (for holding tightly serves no-one) and let love, energy, flow through us freely. In this way, like a fresh spring, we will always be full. There will always be enough. We will have nothing to lose.

Let us be brave. Let us love freely and kindly without holding. As far as people go, if we truly love someone, we must be brave when they need to go and wish them luck on their paths. Love means we want others to be happy. We want them to follow their dreams and sometimes that means letting go of the physical connection and letting their energy continue to flow through our hearts. It does not mean there is no longer love between the two, it only means that energy has shifted and changed shape. In this, there is no real loss.

Fine for me to say! I know, I'm no expert. Have I hurt when someone has left? Heck, yes! What helped? -realizing that they weren't leaving me; they were just leaving. We cannot take on the actions of others; we can only control our own actions and reactions. Do we love only as a result of someone loving us or is it something we choose to give freely, without expectation, without holding? That is for each of us to decide as we walk our own paths.

May you love in some way in every day. May your love expand your heart rather than cause it pain and depletion. May we all hold hands around the world, for many threads woven together make strong cloth.

-Gillian Cornwall, Edit and re-post August 14, 2016
c. February 15, 2015

Bamboo, Finnerty Gardens, University of Victoria
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

"Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back, even from the most difficult times.... Your ability to thrive, depends, in the end, on your attitude to life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly."
~ Ping Fu, Author of Bend, Not break: A Life in Two Worlds