its my turn

Last week I received the exquisite handmade journal in the mail. I  was on my way into the garden to do some weeding. I had to take off my purple gloves to undo the white paper packaging it had been mailed in.

Having already traveled almost all the way around the world, it was supposed to have arrived here about a month ago, but the mail strike in Canada made that impossible. Since the mail service resumed about a week ago, I had been  excitedly anticipating its presence.

I lay it down on the off-white blanket that hangs on the side of my comfy white chair in my studio.  It needed a rest, had been in transit for quite some time, and in unfamiliar settings. The last place it had rested in known hands was in Maine. Although I’m sure the mail carriers took good care of it.

I took a whole evening to read the entries that artfully and heartfully grace its pages. There inside are the most beautiful images, words, inspirations, reflections, revelations, and celebrations. Life in its rich, unpredictable, sorrowful and joyous fullness resides here.

Now it’s my turn to add my voice to the five voices already elaborated…

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roots of presents… for ariana

I sit on the deck of my writing studio as I write this post.  It is June 17 and I have been patiently waiting… and waiting… for the journal to arrive. Each day I walk the flagstone path from my studio to my farm-mates’ house  and peek inside to see if there are any brown paper packages that look like a journal might be inside.

The reason the journal has not yet arrived is because of a postal strike here in Canada. Still it’s Ariana’s birthday, and I wanted to wish her a Happy and Hopeful day by sharing our journey into friendship over the past year and half.

I wouldn’t even be waiting, if it weren’t for Ariana, whose marvelous idea it was to gather us all together for this around-the-world journal journey.

As I write these words a hummingbird with exquisite turquoise and red colouring approaches and hovers just inches above the screen. Turning its tiny body this way and that as it surveys my activity, I wonder at its movement, the sharp beauty of its beak and the music of its beating wings. In the Medicine Cards, hummingbird is the symbol for joy. That is how I feel as I take this time to honour our friend and sister journal(h)er Ariana.

I met Ariana when she still lived on Prince Edward Island. I was presenting poetry from my doctoral dissertation at an academic symposium in Charlottetown in October 2009. Ariana came to the conference to meet, watch and listen to other poets. She also shared some of her poetry. At the open mike on the last evening of the 3-day conference, Ariana asked me to share the reading of a poem of hers that had two “voices”. What an omen. We had just met and were already collaborating.

I took the photo below on the morning I was leaving back for BC. Ariana and I went out to this quaint cafe (whose name I forget) and talked for hours about our lives, our loves, and our dreams for the future including where she might land next and how I would turn my PhD into meaningful work.

We stayed in “email” touch for a while and then life got busy. I finished my dissertation and graduated. Ariana left PEI, helped her parents move houses and eventually moved in with them in Sacramento.

A black and yellow honey bee just landed on my hand, rubbing its front legs up against its head as if brushing its hair. I felt afraid it might sting me. Still I let it stay, revelling in its presence on my skin.

Last fall, as I began to consider more definite ways of sharing my work with others, it was Ariana who convinced me to create an online space where I could post the “gates of loving inquiry” and have women respond to them and become a part of a collaborative process. “Finding our Way to Work” was born through that support and networking. She sent an email to several women she knew who were also in a similar stage of their lives and encouraged them to join me. She also wrote an article for me to use to promote my work.

For three months the site budded and blossomed. Then I went away to a meditation retreat for a month, at a retreat centre a couple of hours away from Ariana’s new home. Knowing that I was going to see her again at the end helped me endure the 30 days of silence and intense inner work.

Our three days together were a blast. Blissful and words-full, we visited a few of her favourite cafes in Sacramento and San Francisco, including Samovar (where the photo was taken below). We also walked and talked, wrote and read to each other, and took a day trip to Napa Valley where we bought the matching aviator sunglasses and ate a delicious lunch at another place whose name I forget!

     

Since returning from that glorious time together, Ariana and I have been writing together weekly on Skype. We take lots of time to write on our own, after checking in on the events and resulting spiritual lessons of the week. Then we read each other our words, and offer feedback.

I treasure the connection that we have nurtured over the past year and a half. I have such deep respect and love for her.  I love her smile, her thoughtful presence, online and in person, her compassion for others, her willingness to play and keep coming back for more. I love her loyalty to her friends and her concern for people near and far who have undergone adversity. Ariana is a champion for people. She believes in them and  their dignity, and resilience. She doesn’t judge others but praises their courage and strengths. Ariana sees the exceptional in others because she herself is exceptional.

I invite each of you to contemplate and share your “love” for Ariana today.

Happy Birthday, Ariana. May the gods and goddesses of creativity, prosperity and beauty be with you today and every day. May your life be filled with love and joy and all that which you offer so generously to others.

With abundant affection,

Ahava

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Christchurch, New Zealand

When i finally received this blessed journal in the post i almost cried tears of joy – i was in such a state of disbelief that the post had got through because my city had just fallen to its knees. The fact that the postie-person had taken that arduous journey to my broken door to leave my package behind, not knowing whether i could or would collect it as we’d been forced to abandon our dangerously unsafe brick cottage, left me with the biggest smile on my face and such faith in good systems and goodwill.

Having just today made safe contact with all my family and friends who still live in my other homeland of Japan where the March 11th quake and tsunami hit (and where i lived just prior to moving back to Christchurch in time for the September 2010 earthquake…*le sigh*), i am feeling quite relieved. Exhausted, but relieved.

I began shooting a few videos after the February 22nd earthquake to keep friends and family in the loop over our whereabouts during this tough time and they began to provide me with a way to gather my thoughts as well as provide comfort and humour to worried friends and fellow Cantabrians (people from Christchurch), so, here are the videos for you to enjoy.

The videos are snapshots from my eyes – they’re done on the fly from a small canon point-and-shoot and are the world, my reality, as i see it right now, at this moment. We are all running on adrenaline but as that wears out we find ourselves running on love. Love and selfless compassion for a hurting community. Not just here in Christchurch or over there in Japan, but everywhere. We are one human race and our agitated earth is telling us to help each other.

I know that taking part in this journal’s journey is helping me heal, and that one day it will provide some courage and inspiration to other women around this small world. For that, i feel completely blessed.



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February in Boulder, Colorado

Here are a couple pages from February.  I sent the journal to New Zealand on February 16th so that it was sure to arrive as close to March 1st as possible.  I must say, sending a parcel by snail-mail across the ocean, half-way around the world, felt delicious!

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The beginning

Our journal, day 1

Our journal, day 1

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12 Unconventionally Inspired Women: Our story

One of my new years resolutions was to find creative ways of being more playful. I have always had an amazing network of amazing girlfriends around the world who inspire me to be creative, playful, courageous, graceful, empowered, and to focus on the beauty and positive energy in life every day. I believe that by finding ways of sharing the ripples of playful creativity and inspiration that reverberate through my own life with those outside my circle of immediate friends, I am contributing to making our world a richer, happier place for everyone.

At the beginning of January, 2011, I invited eleven of my inspired and inspiring friends to join me in creating a year-long journal in which we reflect on what inspires and empowers us in our everyday lives. What makes us passionate about what we are doing with our lives. What helps us to have courage, grace and faith. The handmade journal is divided into twelve months, and each of the twelve women participating will have the journal for exactly one month before sending it on to the next woman in the group. The pages will be filled with artwork, poetry, quotes, prayers, stories, and anything else that the women taking part are inspired to fill them with.

Over the next year the journal will be traveling around the world. It spent January in northern California. It is spending February in Boulder, Colorado. From there it goes to spend March in New Zealand; April in Pasadena, California; May in Portland, Maine; June on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia; July on Prince Edward Island, in the Atlantic Ocean; August in Haifa, Israel; September on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus; October in Tucson, Arizona; November in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and finishing its travels in Los Angeles, in December. At the end of the year we will be digitizing our book, and uploading it onto web so that others can be inspired by its contents too! We will be auctioning the original journal off to raise funds for an organization that empowers young women. Watch this space for more information about this.

This page is a place for those of us who are taking part in this collaborative project record our thoughts and reflections as the journal moved from one part of the world to another. It is also a place where you can share your reflections and give us feedback. Please feel free to comment on our posts, and to check back regularly for updates. And be sure to visit us in January 2012 to enjoy the completed book!

The journey has begun! I am already quite certain that 2011 is going to be an amazing year!

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