at the foot of the mountain

it hit me today that it was almost exactly one year ago right now that i was standing here:DSC03328

see that little black speck on the shore?
that’s me.
see that mountain?
that’s Mt. Aspiring, in New Zealand.

that mountain, that shoreline, that perfect windy sunny day,
she pretty much took my breath away.

standing there, at the foot of such greatness, i felt so small
in the best way.

a million miles from home,
i felt hopeful.
everything felt possible.

one year later,
sitting here at home,
i still feel hopeful
and i know more than ever that
everything is possible.

blink and they’re gone

one hell of a year, in retrospect.

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and a million other moments in between.

so grateful.
so humbled.
so blessed.

(all photos c/o me, except the one of The Boss rockin’ out…that one is courtesy of The Globe and Mail. i was too busy dancin’ in the dark to snap a photo…smile.)

What treasure lies within our bodies

Pina Bausch

Pina Bausch

” Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost.”
……

i think i was born a dancer. maybe we all are.
we just get taught to sit still instead of to soar. we get stuck, we get distracted, we get afraid. we forget what our bodies are capable of; we stop learning what they can teach us, what pleasures they love.

for as long as i can remember, dancing has been something i have longed to do. for too few years, it’s been something i’ve actually done. it used to weigh on me, a big regret. a missed opportunity. a yearning and delight that was for too long overshadowed by awkwardness and self-doubt; heavy feet and self-conscious limbs. there were spurts of bravery – at a concert, a wedding, the odd attempt at a class of some sort – where i would let loose and flail around and lose myself in the pleasure of rhythm and bones. but more often than not, i made excuses. talked myself out of it. sat out rather than jump in.

until a few years ago, when i stood in the bathroom with my then-still-living grandmother. i was helping her get ready for bed, her limbs too weak and tired to do the ordinary tasks of buttoning and un-buttoning, bending over to pull off socks. i asked her, as she washed her face, if she had any regrets in her life. she paused and said yes.
“i regret that i never danced, and now that i’m willing by body’s too old.”

i promised myself then and there that i would dance my still young limbs as often as i could. fuck the excuses, the self-consciousness, the fear. this life is too short. just dance, girl.
……

“be honest. in every movement, in every gesture.”
……
i sat tonight in a large theatre and watched an extraordinarily breathtaking film. i really knew nothing about it going in, other than it was about dance, and i had a pretty good feeling that i would leave inspired. inspired is an understatement.

i was moved. touched. pulled. delighted. awed. broken. challenged. reminded. speechless.

as the film maker, Wim Wenders, said:

What treasure lies within our bodies, to be able to express itself without words,
and how many stories can be told without saying a single sentence.

what treasure lies within our bodies.
the ability to say so much without using a single word.

the way one woman’s life and creative vision can challenge and compel so many other lives to stretch and move and search and exist with vigorous honesty and passion.

your fragility is your strength, she said.
and from my seat, i felt my bones leap.
……
“just keep searching. even if you don’t know what you’re looking for, or if you’re on the right track…”
……
every tuesday night i get in my car and i drive to a loft in a big old house and i take off my socks and my shoes and i dance. i dance for my body, because i know it enjoys it. i dance to feel limber; to remember what it feels like to stretch, to jump, to bend, to really move. i dance even when i don’t feel like it, especially then. i dance when my head hurts and my back aches. i dance when i feel stuck; when i get sad. i dance to catch my breath again; to laugh; to tap in to pure delight. i dance so i can grind my hips and shake my limbs. i dance for my grandmother and her one regret. i dance for all the times i sat out and felt ungraceful and afraid. i dance for the little girl who is still very much alive in me. i dance to stop thinking, stop worrying, stop trying to figure it out. i dance because when i dance i have no questions and therefore need no answers. i dance to take flight. i dance because it takes me somewhere new, every time; because it gives me what i’m looking for without me ever having to ask.
i dance because i believe it’s what i was born to do.
i dance because otherwise, i am lost.

……

Pina Bausch - 1

where do their dreams go when they turn the key off at night

i just love this.

travel as equals

i drove old familiar roads today to attend a celebration,
a memorial,
for a beautiful woman
with mischievous eyes.

not bound by walls or coffins or concrete crosses
this honoring, this grieving,
was happening among the trees
and their changing leaves
and the beauty of mid-september skies.

i knew the route to the forest like the back of my hand,
my mind barely aware of the landscape,
the landmarks,
as my car rambled by.

i was thinking about lives lived, lessons learned.
i was trying to put my finger on the words
that could explain what remains
after her passing.
what it is she leaves behind
in me.

those sorts of words don’t easily come.
i search for them anyway.

my friend was a woman who didn’t travel light in heart in this world.
her story was not simple nor easy to share.
but her laugh was contagious
and her perseverance relentless
and i think it would be safe to say
that her footsteps got lighter the longer she walked.
i don’t know if she would claim
that the journey got any easier,
but i do think she could write you poems
about the beauty she was learning to see along the way.

and i know that she knew
that she wasn’t travelling through life
alone.

in the afternoon light,
with black eyed susans and burning tobacco,
we brought our still-living bones
to gather together
to tell stories
to whisper prayers…pleads…blessings

to express our gratitude.

for so much.
for the way we are changed when we let ourselves walk close enough to someone else.
for the way a heart, even (especially?) a broken one, can be a vehicle for so much blessing,
so much light.

i don’t know, at the end of it all, if there is anything more that i aspire to,
anything greater that i could hope for,
then to have a community gather under autumn leaves
and say
we are better for having known you.
we are thankful for your life.

thank you, dear girl, for living your story with such courage, generosity, and humility.
you are already missed.

[ on my drive home, with the sun dropping lower in the sky, this song came on the radio. i had never heard it before today, but it seemed strangely fitting. If there is one thing that my beautiful friend and her gracious community have taught me, it’s that “the only way we can survive, [is to] travel as equals or not at all”. ]

what you make of it.

A Closed Door by Veronica Derry


1.
the rain was teeming down.
i stood under skimpy shelter and peddled market pastries while holding down tents from gusting wind, all the while dripping and smiling.
nothing beats a market morning.

2.
a decaf latte
and an art gallery on wheels.
simple. exactly right.

3.
rolling northumberland hills
with hairy dog in tow.
watching the sky change, driving the miles
believing that the inspiration at the end would be worth it.
it was.

4.
monoprints. lino blocks.
paper dolls. fraying quilts.
the journeys of our own unfoldings.
the way the body vibrates
when it knows it’s in good company.

Contentment in Flight by Barbara Buntin

a morning spent, grateful.

i spent the morning sitting in a garden, painting prayer flags, with a group of art-makers who have helped me to learn what it really means to bless, what it really means to be brave. i ate the most beautiful and thoughtful cake…i felt loved to my very bones…i was humbled by the kindness they wrapped me in.

i have made many mistakes. i walk around with so many unknowns. but this morning in the garden i was reminded that the world is full of broken hearts who are not afraid to lavish grace.

we can only ever be exactly what we are. perfectly wounded. perfectly beautiful.
thank you, my dear gwc art friends, for helping me to understand that that is enough.

wings

Sabrina Ward Harrison

Sabrina Ward Harrison

Murmuration

murmuration

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( image courtesy of Face the Wall Studio )

……

standing on the edge of the earth.

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Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015

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