see what is

Spending time with my mother who was recently diagnosed with cerebral atrophy is an enlightening experience. It is an honour to be with anyone who is in such a vulnerable state. My father is having a terrible time, as well.  He suffers from debilitating back and leg pain (not to mention emotional trauma over watching his beloved partner of 60 years fade away). I have gained much from their candour and disclosure of present challenges.  Most importantly, my mother’s condition reminds me that we are not our physical bodies, which includes our minds and even our personalities… If we are not who we think we are, who are we? Or rather, what are we? The energy of the mind and the dream of this world have enormous momentum that feels almost impossible to be free of. There is something beyond our confusion though. Imagine if we were always aligned with divine truth. “See what is,” Alan Watts instructs. It’s so simple, right?

This photo of Dad and Mom is bitter-sweet. I wanted to capture them in a flattering light. In truth, however, they smile infrequently now. Many tears of sorrow and frustration have been shed. I think of my mother as being in a type of cocoon. When she emerges at last—glittery and glorious—her smile will be genuine and bright! It is heartbreaking to witness someone you love suffering dreadfully. Yet, all too often, this is exactly what we are expected to do.

I am deeply grateful to both my parents for their love, courage, and hard work. They have given much—not only to support their large family, but to the community through many years of volunteer work. Perhaps the closest thing that conveys what we truly are is touchingly expressed in the children’s book The Giving Tree—to give altruistically until we are physically no more. For now, our gentleness and generosity toward each other, and all living things, is vital.  In fact, it may be all that truly matters.
Sometimes gaining and losing are more intimately 
related than we like to think. And some things 
cannot be moved or owned. Some light does not make 
it all the way through the atmosphere, but scatters.

—Rebecca Solnit

dancing trees

Every tree and plant in the meadow seemed to be dancing,
those which average eyes would see as fixed and still.


show up

Although this fiery autumn in Ontario has done its best to affect me, I find myself somewhat immune to its urgings and in much need of reprieve. The duality and duplicity of 2014 has wearied me. Also, Mercury is in retrograde and that’s not good for anyone. Fact.

If things have taken on a dark and ominous slant, let me encourage you with two things that garnered my attention today. The first is a book that I came across called The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson (the author of Silent Spring). A spark for dying embers. She writes, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” Oh I hope so, Ms. Carson! Have you ever sadly pondered (to the point of panic) if your very essence is worthless? Then with perfect timing from the cosmos encounter something that validates your heartfelt endeavours? This intimate book with its natural photographs did that for me today. I love it so much that I may just put it beneath my pillow tonight. 

And lastly, a rousing quotation by writer Isabel Allende posted by a local abstract artist that I admire: “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.” In other words, don’t give up! Never give up. Keep doing what you love and have faith that it’s right and good. 

Dear Mom

You are forever in my heart.

mid-august dreams

to warm your heart
a magical companion

simple pleasures

shaking leaves transport me to the seaside

august insects make love in the tall grass

the high romance of flowers in bloom

sunlight dancing on water, leaves, and
in the highlights of her red/gold hair

health restored after weeks of illness

a feeling of lightness and ease

knowing for certain that someone cares

Movie Night

I’ve been contemplating the role of the surrogate partner in the film The Sessions for weeks. Helen Hunt gives a compelling performance as a therapist that goes all the way with her clients out of compassion, a desire to heal, and a self-declared love of sex. Poet Mark O’Brien, paralyzed after contracting polio as a child, seeks a sex surrogate to make his dream of exploring his latent sexuality a reality. The film is based on autobiographical writings by O’Brien. The Sessions is tastefully filmed, poignant, and guaranteed to make you giggle. I would watch it again in a heartbeat.

This spring I devoured all things Jack Kerouac. It started with the movie On the Road. A film filled with strange moments of seemingly unlikely erotic encounters, drug use, and wild adventures. Or to sum it up nicely: sex, drugs, and jazz. Filmed with the eye of a photographer, On the Road is aesthetically striking. Director Walter Salles did a brilliant job of adapting Kerouac’s book to film. No small undertaking. The film brings believability and humanity to the characters that the book lacks. Actor Sam Riley’s gentle portrayal of Sal Paradise makes him endearing in a way that Kerouac’s writing never accomplishes. (I could fall in love with Sal. An open-minded, attractive French-Canadian writer? Umm... Yes!) Maybe it’s because the film doesn’t stay true to the book that it’s so successful. A point I’m sure hard-core Kerouac fans will find frustrating. 

As for the other semi-fictional books that I’ve read by Kerouac (are any of his books true fiction?), my favourites are Big Sur and The Dharma Bums. The Subterraneans leaves one with much to ponder on the nature of men. The dreadful way protagonist Leo Percepied treats his romantic partner Mardou Fox is exasperating! I do appreciate Kerouac’s honesty in his writing. He leaves nothing out. You see how he ticks, which can be wildly unattractive, yet enthralling. Was Kerouac candid in his writing? Or was he merely taking his readers on a long, fantastic ride? Regrettably, we may never know for certain. Alcoholism killed Kerouac prematurely at the age of 47.

Love Liberates

“Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold—that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says, ‘I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.’”

—Maya Angelou


It was fragrant and soft—the softest air I’d ever known
—and dark, and mysterious, and buzzing. 

—Jack Kerouac