More stones…

Sometimes, the worst wounds are invisible. But they still feel like stones. Hard. Unforgiving. Difficult to walk on.


Today, I am missing my grands.

I used to be the one to get a wee girl off to Junior Kindergarten which involved brushing long golden hair and braiding it so that she looked like a Princess. Her mother does a much better job, but so far, I’ve passed muster.

Her older brother is in his last year of elementary school…sigh…he is growing up so fast.

Her younger brother is nearly 3 and like his older brother sensitive and introverted. Like me. We click!

Our wee girl is spunky and very extroverted. She enjoys the social aspect of school…All those new friends! She is loving that.

Do you remember your kindergarten days?

I do…mostly.

I loved going to school. We all walked in a big group to the school. We had to cross a couple very busy streets and there were traffic lights and crossing guards to ensure our safety.

I had read all the Dick and Jane readers by the second week of school, so they just gave me the whole stack!

But you see, I grew up in a Boarding House. Not what you might think of. Nothing like the kinds of boarding houses I see clients living in nowadays.

It was like a big family. I was the only child with a mother who went to work every day (or so it seemed) and was on call 24/7. She was a police matron. One of only two in the border city where I was born. Where she was born.

It is a long story. Not what I wanted to talk about today.

But that old schoolyard rhyme said different. So, we felt conflicted and confused. Why did it hurt so much, when “names will never hurt me.” That was just bullshit bravado. We were being primed to inflict the second arrow, as the Buddhists say. We were beating ourselves up for hurting. We felt we were weak. We blamed ourselves for our inadequacies because all the other kids said words just washed off them like water off a duck’s back. We never talked to anyone else because we didn’t want to appear weak or defective or stupid or whatever. And they didn’t talk because they had all the same fears. The same hurt and the same fears and the same confusion arguing with them in their heads like angry monkeys fighting over a small scrap of food. The food was actually worth. The food was actually self-acceptance.

And we were all starving. We were all starving for a little compassion. But no one of us even knew what compassion was. Maybe we thought Jesus or Buddah or Moses or David or Ghandi deserved and were capable of giving compassion, but not ordinary people like the ones that we lived with day by day by day.

Lots of sayings we absorbed in childhood were just plain lies. And we bought them – hook line and sinker. Not because we were stupid or weak or weird. Well, I was weird, but I’ve learned that that is not necessarily a defect.

That is beside the point. I digress. I digress a lot. Still, I get there, and I enjoy the journey through all the detours.

But maybe you don’t. You want to get right down to it and you want the answer. Clear. Precise. Quick. You want the apology and you want it now.

Sorry, answers aren’t like that. Neither are apologies. They are walks down a crooked lane. Through a woods. With tree roots growing into the path and little animal holes that you can turn your ankle on.

But if you wear good hiking boots and are willing to come along…together we can wordscape our way into an inner landscape that really reflects the real you.

Under all the scrapes and sprains that words have inflicted on you over the years. You can write your way whole … like the day you arrived. Except you’ll have better hair and wardrobe. At the least you can have more of a say in what you look like. Even if no one will come and braid your hair like a Princess.


Honesty …

GoingInwardInvite_HonestyI haven’t posted in a long while.

That isn’t because I am lazy or that I am particularly busy.

Something much larger has captured my heart and soul, mind and body.

Life has been a bit of an uphill ski lately and I’m not going into that here or now. Let’s just say my focus has been more inward, more thought filled, more solitary. I didn’t want company. I didn’t need community. I just needed to sit and ponder. That pondering bit is from Michael Nobbs from One Thing Today list. His blog “Sustainably Creative” is on a hiatus until March, because he is “pondering” which sometimes slides into “worrying” and I find it comforting that someone else is having a bit of a rough go. I don’t mean that. I mean that it is less lonely and isolating to know that someone else is, like me, wading through molasses emotionally … maybe even physically. And that that someone else is dealing with it kindly, compassionately … even self-compassionately.

I guess what I find most comforting is that he is stressing “self care”, which, though it is a rather amoebae-like concept, is often critical to maintaining body, mind, soul, and emotional self. Best of all, he is not all words and tough love. For me, particularly at this point, that would be destructive and demoralizing. So I am avoiding any and all blogs that stress that kind of “motivating” strategy.

I choose to follow his example and treat myself kindly and “move at the pace of guidance”. He has encouraged me to do what I feel is right for me. Now. Here.

This season, this now, this here, the Northern Hemisphere is well suited to that. I offer to you the opportunity to move at your best pace and listen to the season’s wisdom. Wherever you are. Whatever your now. Whatever your place. Whatever your pace.

It’s not a race. It’s not a competition. It’s your life. And it is beautiful just as it is.


Images compliments of Jeff Suchak, Mythic Landscape Photography


a few thoughts about today

pinksocksFeet up the wall in celebration.

Today, I submitted another assignment in my course Writing and the New Media: Creating Life Histories. It took me days and days to pare it down and then I still had to attach an outline of the workshop I was discussing. Words rarely fail me…but they do threaten to drown me and my readers at times. Le sigh

At one time in my life the précis was a prized skill. What happened?

Oh, I know, life.

We are studying life histories.

It’s hard to condense a life into a few … or even a clean 900 pages. Maybe that’s why so many of us shy away from writing down our stories. First, we don’t know where to start. Then, we don’t think we’ll finish before life itself is finished. Another sigh…

And then I got to be a part of another Oasis gathering. Thanks, Jen Louden! And to all who come together to be so supportive of each other. I do appreciate you.

Today our topic was the cheery subject of “Resignation”. But with all the prompts, I came around to see that resignation can be a good thing — active not passive. A choice to accept what is and say “this too”. Not in a helpless way. Because it is certainly because we have no power to change things. But accepting some things that we cannot change can impel and compel us to find ways around that.

I’ll give you a little ferinstance here:

I have a bedroom that needs painting. It is so ugly it is painful to wake up and see the wall in front of me. Yes, it is.

Today, I decided to resign myself to the fact that I have been avoiding the job. I don’t even have a list of reasons. But I have been procrastinating like a pro. When the time came to write on “If (blank) were never “fixed” then I could try/learn…” that wall jumped into the forefront.

I brainstormed …

I could wall paper the wall behind me

I could paint just the wall I look at when I wake up

I could wallpaper that wall

I could hang a 40 x 50 print from my husband’s next photography show there

I could find an odorless paint and paint the darn thing

None of those ideas had come to me before. Why? Because I was resigned to being a sluggard and facing every new day knowing that because the evidence was staring me in the face.

What I learned from this is that I have to get busy and workshop with folks nearby. I know how to do this. I “invented” Wordscapes. It’s a shame not to share this.

Wish me luck! Or contact me to see what I am talking about.

I’d love to have you in my little circle.

Now that the first snow has fallen…let’s hunker down for the winter and practice some great self-care.


WordsFest 2017

This is WordsFest weekend. Very busy but I did manage to write a short piece to celebrate my experience.


Experience of WordsFest 2017

Kwe kwe

this land, this land

on which we stand

honoured for decades of centuries

historified with just two short paragraphs

in a back wall, hidden, not truly celebrated.

I hang my head, apologize

to Mother Earth who gives me life

I am

Kontiwennenhá:wi (in English, Carries Words),

Haudenosaunee, (you might say, Iroquois)

Kahniakehaka kwe, (you might say, Mohawk woman – just never call me “squaw”),

A’no’:wara (you might say, Turtle Clan)

out of Tyendeniga (not the Township in Eastern Ontario)

Though you don’t notice me

I am —

the Em dash a nod to Emily

But wait…

I am

factory whistles

soft brk brk of chickens

joyous gospel choirs

I am

Hulda’s song

rolling waves

cormorant cries

the hint of an Acadian accent

I am

lowing of cows coming home each evening

rustle of wildflowers

hum of bees in a September apple orchard

I am

heart beat rhythm of water drums

crackle of real sugar on snow each spring

wagon wheels rolling to a place unknown

I am

glacial wind

thundering wave

muted weeping of stunted trees

Gaelic hymns

I am

a cacophony of mysterious music

love songs in many languages

enveloped in the lullaby of every ancestor

this melody – my DNA

I hear your words



written down and signed

so I can carry them home…

And now I am wordified.


I am refreshed, renewed, rewired.




Deep bow of gratitude,

Nia:wen for reading this.

Just a word…

2016-7Some of you may recall the old chestnut chanted around elementary schoolyards for longer than I can remember, “Sticks and stones / may break my bones / but names will never hurt me!”

What I am wondering is why we ever bought the sentiment. Because words can hurt. Words can cause great damage. Families are rendered asunder by them. Communities are diminished by them. And it would seem now that even nations can be divided in ways that we never imagined.

Name calling is something we expect from tired, hungry, maybe exasperated children. Surely, as adults, we have an arsenal of honourable, kindly, conscientious – even thought-full – words to state our case and sway our opponents or make our case.

Not so long ago, our predecessors memorized poetry to make their point, to soothe a sorrow, to cheer on their comrades. I know we don’t all have the luxury of reading and writing to build our vocabularies. I know that we don’t all have the luxury of time in which to make or state our case. I know that sometimes we may be tired, hungry and exasperated even though our childhoods are long in the past. But we do owe it to our friends, neighbours, fellow citizens to try to consider their point of view. We owe them as we do our enemies to be civil and consult with others to come to a consensus, or if not consensus, at least make compromises.

Parker Palmer speaks of coming into a circle to discuss options and voting like this. In order to “come into a circle”, it would seem that you have to be in the same room, in actual fact, or virtually as in online conference. But for very important decisions and to really know each other, it would seem that the optimum would be to be in the same room, preferably in comfy chairs in a circle with no barriers to hide behind. Indeed, Parker Palmer says that to solve a problem, we almost certainly need to engage in honest conversation in the same room. Because to do otherwise we are just “kvetching” which is just “a cheap excuse for honest engagement with whatever is troubling us.”

Yet even when making the most impactful decisions and building or tearing down relationships, it seems far more popular to spit epithets like watermelon seeds. Because, nowadays, we have Twitter so we can name call and deprecate with the protection of distance using only 147 characters. This is cowardly, true, but integrity and truth don’t necessarily enter into the algorithm.

I work with words. My name is “Carries words”, so I feel that I must speak this piece and then I will keep my peace.

Please, as we say to the toddlers and kindergartners “use your words” to solve the problems we face. Use your best and kindest words. And use those words honestly with integrity. Whether you are the Leader of a large and powerful Nation, or you are just some “ordinary Joe” like me. I make you this promise that I will do this. Will you join me?

And a PS if you can’t get into the same room, get on the phone…let your voice be heard. We all need to be a part of the democratic process…or as the Washington Post’s banner reads…”Democracy dies in darkness”.

Photo Credit: Jeff Suchak, Mythic Landscape

Good follow-up reading:

Heather Plett

Why a Circle is a Core Group Process for emerging Participatory Leadership

Parker Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy

PS …I am Canadian, we spell honour, neighbour, and colour with a u.

Peace, out!


…soft autumn hum …

It isn’t truly Fall yet and I want to hang on to summer.
I already miss the breakfasts of a quarter cantaloupe filled to the brim with blueberries—both local and sweeter than I remember.

I have a lot of years to remember.

Reflective writing and mindfulness help me to do the tasks of today. But what needs doing, most urgently, is to “make meaning” of everything. And yes, I realize that that task is not likely to be completed in this lifetime. We all need to attend to this though. This last stanza of Gary Snyder’s “Front Lines” feeds me today. I share it hoping it will do the same for you…

As the crickets’ soft autumn hum
is to us
so are we to the trees
as are they
to the rocks and the hills.
image credit: Jeff Suchak—  Mythic Landscape

As the days grow shorter…

Yes, Solstice has passed and we now look forward to the arrival of the Raspberry Moon on Sunday, July 9th. The heat of summer. The “lazy, hazy, crazy days”. But it would seem that the weather hasn’t gotten the message. Well, except for perhaps the hazy part.New_1_DSCF0524

Today is an overcast, grey, cool, cool day. It is a lovely day, a soft and gentle day, that encourages me to “move at the pace of guidance” that is, not to rush about, hurrying and scurrying. But it doesn’t feel like summer.

My garden is wondering where the heat has gone and patiently sits, trying to bloom and blossom to no avail. But I notice that the garden too moves at the pace of “guidance” which is to say, flowers, herbs, and veggies grow as “guidance” instructs. And Guidance is saying just wait patiently.

Patience is becoming more and more what I need to practice, which seems odd because I am realizing quite dramatically that I have more days behind than in front of me. So, it would seem that I better get busy accomplishing that long list of what I feel called to do.

As for me, this weather is good. It forces me to work on preparing for two exciting weekends of gifting UNIFOR folks with ways to become allies as we try to join hands and make a Canada that is fair for all who live here – indigenous and settlers and newcomers alike. But not to rush about. To sit with the material and find a way to speak and show what I need to share.

What are you doing to move at the pace of guidance on this soft summer day?

Hygge (really)

20140129-DSC00353My New Year’s post started out talking about hygge – a Danish term for the cozy feeling of snuggling up with a warm drink, a loved one, wearing your warmest wool socks and peering into the fire or watching the snowstorm rage outside. You can learn more about hygge in this BBC article.


Only one brave reader dared to point out that I lost track and went off on a tangent. And I am ever so grateful that he did.

I have lived a whole lifetime with undiagnosed ADD, but that’s only because no one in my generation was diagnosed as a child – or if there were such a thing, I certainly never benefited from it. Indeed, my parents would think it preposterous. I was just an “over-imaginative”, “forgetful”, “jittery”, “ornery”, “daydreamer” who just wasn’t living up to my “potential”.

At first I was puzzled, when he claimed that he “was turned off when I started talking about ‘fear’ and couldn’t finish reading the post. I asked him why? And he let me know in no uncertain terms. This man is straight from the shoulder and right to the point.

The title was hygge but then I switched to talking about fear and fears switched the gears. The two near opposite topics just didn’t make sense. So, he quit reading, which is always the reader’s option.

Wow! He was right and even though I had read and reread the blog post before I put it up there for the world to read, I hadn’t caught that. Sometimes we are just too close to the forest.

I am indebted to his candid comments. Few bother to share why they quit following your blog. I guess I should hire him as an editor!

Today, seems like the kind of day to write about hygge … and to stay on topic all one needs to do is look out the window. Right now, there is a medium size dog walking his human wearing boots. The dog that is. The dog is wearing boots. So is the human, but that would be expected.

Our 80-year-old, next-door neighbour appears on the sidewalk with her tiny dog; she and Lola (the dog) are dressed in very warm coats with snug, high collars. The human doesn’t make it past our laneway. The cold and wind has glazed the pavement with black ice. The dog would carry on, but the woman has fallen in past and broken a hip. Twice cautious.

The wind is whipping around what little fine snow fell earlier and the sky is a very flat light grey. She turns back and trudges, head down, across our lawns which aren’t ever slippery. I nod in agreement at her. Where she is headed is far more inviting.goinginwardinvite_tree_sky

Best to stay inside. Warm beverage in hand. Art materials, books (e- and otherwise) waiting to take me to warmer climes or at least another place where I can imagine being bundled up and warm. Warm. We crave warmth all through January. For me, the coldest month of all.

Hygge is only comfort, though, taken in short doses. I think I’ll take the snow and snuggle up with a book under a warm afghan – and dream of spring’s arrival. I can consider the daydreaming as part of what is wonderful about winter. The other part is that it doesn’t last all the time. Winter does have its own beauty and charm.

I am married to a photographer who braves the elements so that I can see snow draped over boughs, or bathed in the soft glow of pink-gold light. I get out and hike in that snow when the sun shines and the wind calms. I come home to a warm house. I am blessed.