Don’t fence me in

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We knew it was coming, first the move out, then the move on, then the moving in of the hazmat team, proceeded by fences and followed by bulldozers. We knew it. We prepared. We celebrated. We left our mark on the building face like it has made a mark in our hearts.

So, today wasn’t a surprise, but still it felt surprising to see the doorway fenced off, the new art and words from a distance, and my heart feeling a little heave-ho because this was it. We have not gone anywhere, and we are determined to stay close and hold out hope to the homeless and vulnerable and disenfranchised for as long as it takes. Still, this was our home of several years. This is where people dropped in and stayed and sat around a little table and wrote poems and then shared them. This is where first words were uttered, where he finally spoke to me, where she smiled and invited me into a conversation.

All I can do today is continue to remember, take a few more pictures, and then, because they were already waiting in the back of my truck and because I was recently told to “do what I can” and I brought what I had…a pop-up happened. A few of my poems hanging like little prayer flags on the moduloc fence, waving goodbye.

Believing in what is to come…what can never be fenced in,

Lesley-Anne

p.s. and just so I have to chuckle rather than cry, I notice in one of the pictures a typo on a poem…and recognize even in a simple little installation there is room to be imperfect and humbled.

p.p.s. soon we will be launching our Metro HOLDINGOUTHOPE campaign. And the stories, oh the stories…

 

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Poems, like prayer flags

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This week I was reminded that not all is good, and not all is good for me. I want to un-see what I saw, erase forever the images that popped up on my computer screen immediately after an opera video I was watching on Youtube. No warning, and there it was, cruel, shocking, and cutting through my soul like a knife. I didn’t know what to do. I gasped. I turned it off. But my mind played the images over and over again. I was hooked into darkness for a time.

And then, serendipitously and providentially, I was invited into a soul healing activity that is beginning to help me forget what I saw, not that I saw it, but take the edge of pain of it away.

A friend invited me to join a social media love challenge, posting only good messages. I’ve always tried to be that kind of person, but this week I’m being more intentional.

And then yesterday, as I sat alone on my porch on Canada Day and began to feel a little sad about that, I read this,

…become more conscious of the ways everyday acts and objects are inherently sacred when performed and regarded with intention. When we focus on whatever we are doing, we discover that God is in the midst of our work.

The Artist’s Rule, by Christine Valters Paintner

And then, maybe because of my soul pain and somewhat forced solitude, my heart turned to the thought of hanging up some poems, like little flags, like little prayers, and joining others in their space of being, for a time. Silently walking in their midst and offering my small blessings to them all. So I went, and I pinned PUP around the busy and quiet spaces, and I felt new life welling up in me. I didn’t feel so alone. I didn’t feel so dark and cut off. I performed a sacred act, just as the person who finds a poem will perform the sacred act of reading.

And I thank you God for showing me another way of you in the midst, of everything.

Rotary Centre, Kelowna

Rotary Centre, Kelowna

Your words

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DSC_0328Thank you for your words. You are a mirror, a reflection, a ripple of what I do. To write is one thing, to touch a life is much more. Thank you for gracing me with love through your encouraging words.

Here are just some you shared recently. Beautiful.

It was getting dark and colder when I hurried my way into the Orchard Mall last week. Mentally, I was already inside thinking about my to do list, when these beautiful dancing flames in lanterns made me stop in my tracks. I stood there, reading the Properties of Light, moved beyond words and thankful for the gentle nudge to return to the present. Later, that night when my hand found the tea light in my coat pocket, I remembered the words on the side without even seeing them. Shine On …and it made me giddy.
I am sending your poem, along with a winter candle, to my sister in Ottawa. I miss her the most at this time of year, and I know your poem will light up her day like it did mine.
Thank you for sharing your joy, Leslie. I loved it more than you know, and I am grateful for you! Carolyn

“Thank you so much for clipping your poems at the Unitarian Fellowship of Kelowna, on Sunday !! Several of us read your poems, including a passer-by, and we love them & you ! This is a fabulous practice!!!” Bonnie

A morning walk, a dog on leash,
quick unthinking steps, mind far away.
Stop. What is this?
A note clipped to a bramble of blackberries.
Enticing, inviting, encouraging
Be here now.
Observe, enjoy, smile.
And 2 million neurons surge endorphins
A walk home with open eyes and lightened heart.
Thank you. Nancy

I’ve been writing for about eight years (not that long really). I still find myself holding tender in trembling hands this gift of words I received, and unwrapped, and now extend to you. To write is a gift. And each time you write back to me is a gift and an affirmation that what I’m doing matters. So I thank YOU from the bottom of my heart.

Here in the Winter’s early dark I am humbled with the knowledge that, “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” EVERY thing. EVERY gift. In EVERY season. And how much more in this season when we consider God’s love gift to us in the form of a baby ~ born in a stable, raised in a village, rebel preacher to a nation, sacrificial Savior to the world. Jesus is still light and love.

I trust you hear in my writing an echo of a loving Father, always light giver and illuminator of lives like yours and mine. I trust you know you are loved.

Comfort and joy,

Lesley-Anne

My love language is bread and butter…

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This letter is meant as a reminder, first to me, then to anyone like me, who questions the validity and impact of their life purpose. Choosing the poets way is not often in the spotlight, but rather in half light and shadow. Yet it brings me alive, somehow I know I’m about what I should be about, and God is gracious enough to offer me bread crumbs along the way that affirm my heading. Not everyday, but often, and just when I’m wondering why I’m bothering, someone shows up, says something, confirms the way for me.

Here’s a note for those other days;

Dear Lesley-Anne, dear one,

So don’t be discouraged. You may not be the up front mass appeal type. Don’t feel insignificant. Every thing you do, counts. You have to press in to what you know, do what you have been given to do, with passion, just do it. While you waste time and look at others and tally how many they have impacted, instead just say, good for them. And continue to do what you know YOU are to DO. Walk the dog. Send the email. Say hello. Say thank you. Bake the cookies. Help the helpless. Smile. Hug. Listen. Speak. Take a photo. Paint something. Write something. Post something. Sew something. Ask God to increase your opportunity, your creativity, your energy, your love. Nothing, no NOTHING is wasted.

Live like you believe what you have to do counts. Because it does. Nobody else is going to convince you of this. You have to tell yourself. There may be affirmations from time to time, there may be verses in the Good Book that buoy your spirits and set you going, but for the most part, you have to get going.

Sometimes, when you feel what you are doing counts for nothing (no matter how hard you try to not feel this way), you will be given a gift of knowing it does matter, to someone. Someone will tell you so. Be grateful, be oh so grateful to hear. Tuck these words away for the days you aren’t certain. Because the days will come.

Believe anyway. Every life you touch matters.

SDG

p.s. Yesterday I received a loaf of bread. A lovely homemade, salt topped rye dropped off at my door by a neighbour in thanks for my neighbourhood illumination installation ~ and the poem that touched her heart. Unexpected joy, my love language happens to be bread. How did she know this, I wonder? So I slice off a big chunk, butter it, taste the joy of the moment, the love.

And in the end, love is all that matters,

Lesley-Anne

Detail or panorama…it’s all great

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DSC_0005Last night I had the privilege of joining a group of next gen. 20 somethings at Trinity Mosaic as they gathered to focus on things with spiritual meaning. I’ve been with them before… seems it just gets better.

In their creatively expressive liturgy (think old school church with candles and rows of chairs and hand washing and crosses and response prayers, instead of their usual contemporary way of doing things)… into that atmosphere of praying and singing (the old hymns I haven’t sung since I was little, like How Great Thou Art), I gave up some poetry. I went to poetize alongside the band, and I came home with something more.

Anyway, as is usually the case, I go into most things with my intent and purpose all clearly outlined, my lines polished and practiced and then something happens. Something bigger moves: a dart of truth finds its prickly way inside me. I nod my head, search for a pen to write down what I think my (soul) just heard. What was it? I come away with words, a phrase, a little gift thought.

Not every time. But most times. Mostly when I hesitate in saying yes to the ask is precisely when something waits for me at the end of my whatever it was I was withholding in the beginning. Hmmm… interesting that. Doesn’t seem to matter if you are looking at the horizon or down at your feet… his great can capture when you least expect.

Awakening to a small gift of great,

Lesley-Anne

p.s. rumour has it that you will soon be able to experience last night’s collaborative spiritual expression in a number of ways, so please stand by…

I want to know.

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DSC_0032As much as I spend time alone, create alone, work and think and pour out alone, there’s part of me that wants to know… others, their thoughts, their responses to my words. I create to express, work to sharpen myself as an artist, but also to share. And when I share there’s absolutely nothing more catch-my-breath-in-my-throat, than to really really know I am become a small part in someones life, a link in a chain strung from here to eternity.

Pop-up-poetry may just be a small miracle. I remember reading Stephen Kings book “On Writing” years ago, and resonating with Kings thoughts (I must look at it again!) that writing somehow transcends time and space. He says, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” To be a writer, to commit words to paper/internet, and then moments, days, years from now, someone reads those words, in a connection across time and space… is miraculous! And so I press on and pop up.

Thursday of last week I pinned poems on Cawston Ave. in Kelowna. I imagined how the words might impact… how God might take what I wrote and begin something or heal something or continue a thought process… with someone I didn’t yet know.

That my poem pinned to a gateway would be welcome home. That my poem pinned to a bench would be rest. That my poem pinned to a community garden would be food.

And I went home believing.

I received a comment here at the bottom of my “About” page that quickened my heart upon reading it.  The joy… in knowing… just a glimpse.

Here are some photos of my pop-up-poems, scattered to the wind, looking to land.

All SDG,

Lesley-Anne

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Wasup?

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Sometimes it feels like that hopeless

In the past two weeks I’ve ridden a bumper car of emotions, smashed up my self-esteem on a couple of occasions, felt the exhilaration of whirling about on the edges and being in the fray. I’ve written prolifically and faced a white page with fear. I’ve read books, and given up on a couple after reading the first chapter.  I’ve felt loved and forgotten, stifled and isolated. I’ve slept in, got up early, stayed home and gone out. I’ve cooked and refused to lift a finger. I’ve called back. I’ve ignored the phone. I’ve blessed my children, I’ve cursed bitten my tongue and said nothing to the myriad of ways my life is different when teens are coming and going like it’s a hotel, rather than a home. I’ve cried. I’ve had whine wine.What waits for you

Poetry is everywhere

And, after wondering what the heck was wrong with me, I asked my biggest confidant in the world (my husband, bless his heart) and he listened, pondered (for at least 30 seconds) and said with great wisdom, “It’s the summer.  You do this every summer.” And suddenly, I was OK again. OK to be me in summer, just like it’s OK to be me in fall and winter and spring. It just looks different in every season.

With a renewed perspective, I’ve jumped in with 2 feet and done the following;

  1. released 25 copies of my poems into the neighbourhood parks, mailboxes, outhouses, trees, and bus stops. (see photo above). And people found them and told me about it!
  2. busked my poetry with an amplifier, background music, sign, tip box, and a liberal amount of fear and trembling. And, to the man at the KYC, if you happen to be listening, telling someone people don’t really want to hear what they are saying is rude. Repeat, RUDE! And, I really didn’t mean it when I suggested you have a good day!
  3. opened the mail to a real, paper, beautifully illustrated, laid out, and formatted copy of CV2, where to my unbelieving eyes I saw my name, on the back cover, in the index, in the list of contributing poets, and, like a dream where you are just on the verge of waking but don’t want to end it… I saw my poem on page 35. Oh, I still can’t believe it. I’m over the top about it. (knowing of course that if you aren’t enough before you are published, you certainly won’t be enough when you are)
  4. met and talked with the most lovely people… someone who is going to work with me on a website & branding, someone who just wanted to spend time sitting by the beach and talking about our lives, someone who wants to collaborate when I busk, and someone who dropped off a book for me to read… life is rich when your eyes are open to it.

In all this, I’m reminded of the words of my maternal grandfather, a spry Englishman who has influenced me in profound ways… always… he would say,

“It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.”

And I was, weakening. But, thanks to God for the people in my life who remind me to clean my artsy glasses (both figuratively and in reality, they tend to be smeared with finger prints, obscure a clear vision of things)… life is rich, and my life is for the most part, good.

Peace, out.

Lesley-Anne SDGIt's how we see things matters most of all