a list for curing what ails you

Golden Sails by Elly MacKay

Golden Sails by Elly MacKay


1. a bus ride in a snow storm
2. hot water with fresh squeezed orange juice and honey
3. noodles. always noodles.
4. pocket size hand-bound books
5. neighbourhood farmers markets
6. pear and ginger jam spread on homemade bread topped with thin slices of goat gouda
7. waking up to scones
8. 2 year old dance parties
9. foot rubs
10. the way he wonders about everything
11. beautiful music in bakery forts
12. laughter
13. the company of friends who just let you be
14. sleeping in
15. drawing pictures
16. listening to this. on repeat.
17. spending hard earned money on things that people’s hands have worked hard to make.
18. a long walk on rainy streets in another town
19. chocolate + mint
20. getting back up again, even when it feels like the world keeps knocking you down.
21. losing yourself in a story
22. leaving.
23. returning.
24. the tenderness of sleep.

blink and they’re gone

one hell of a year, in retrospect.

73

80

171

183

210

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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

on heatwaves and birthdays and songs that are always worth singing

windows down, fans in full force. finding respite in shady places and icey teas. the constant salty skin, the way the mind loses all sense of time, heat of moments just melt one into another.
fresh peaches and plums, wild blueberries and cherries. baking at midnight, napping afternoons away. max and his wolf suit, piano on the record player, scent of fresh laundry being blown around on the breeze.
chocolate cake under the oak tree, smores around the fire. the way a sister sings, unashamed, giving courage, permission, to join in the chorus. indian food and cherry pits, strangers around a breakfast table. a bird who bathes himself with lemon rind.
waking up to poems that resonate in deep places. the strong legs of a small gymnast, the creak of a bicycle seat. letterpress and guitar strings, birthdays and remembrances. noodles in the park by the big lake. fresh baked olive bread on the shores of the river. comfort and gratitude. these hands that are always ready to hold you.
the days are unstoppable. i welcome myself to another year of living. the road is ever-winding. i’m going to keep walking. my pockets are heavy with lessons learned, treasures found, bits of stories that still hang around. i’m not as afraid as i used to be. it’s okay if you don’t understand. i’m unfolding anyways. it’s not heartless, it’s honest, though even the truth can feel muddled sometimes.
my feet feel lighter. something inside me feels freer. maybe what’s necessary doesn’t always come easy. there’s a path, and i think i’m on it, though i don’t know anymore where i want it to lead. happy wanderer. forgive the bumps along the way. there are too many gifts to worry over the weight of the bruises.
protect your skin. keep it tender, keep it tough. drink plenty of water.
breathe.
the moon is rising, and somewhere else, the sun too.
you’re not alone here, dear girl.
every moment is something new.
listen to the song he sings,
heart to fly, hopes to rise, simple every day
just keep going…

15 reasons to say thanks.

1. wild leeks and the seasons first spring greens.

2.  weather warm enough to have the windows open

3. family dinners

4.

this guy.
this guy.

5. sunday afternoon strolls

6. sidewalk chalk art and tree forts and kids learning to ride bikes and play baseball and adults who aren’t too grown up to really spend time with their kids and have fun.

7. found love letters

8. small words at the right time

9.

grandpa's ever-ready harmonicas

grandpa's ever-ready harmonicas

10. Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions

11. a dog who prefers fallen trees to measly sticks.

12. wind

13. finding home in a neighbourhood full of back alleys and tall trees

14. the dawn that always follows, no matter how dark the night

15.  the spring that always comes, no matter how long the winter.

it always comes.

……

Getting lost is another exercise in navigation

3

It will be all right in the end, and maybe even in the middle. You will not suffer as long as you think you will. You are not fated to be unhappy. You are not destined for failure. Remember who you are. Let me say it again. Remember who you are. Be gentle. Practice exquisite acts of self-care. You don’t have to be as strong as you think you do. You don’t have to be wise and certain about your path. Your frailty is beautiful, and your innocence too. Getting lost is another exercise in navigation. You can’t fix everything you touch. You won’t break everything you touch. Don’t apologize if you’re tired. Don’t second-guess your stomach. Maintain eye contact with everything, especially yourself. Fall to your knees at least once a day. Say yes at least twice. Love daringly, wholly, unapologetically. Believe in magic. Befriend your fear. Look up. Listen. The birds will tell you everything you need to know about flight. Forgive yourself your great sadness. Unlock what hurts. Make a prayer for loss. Unpen your words. Get messier than anyone thinks you should. You’ll know when you’re ready. I’ll say it again. You’ll know when you’re ready.

–  You Will Know, by Maya Stein

ways to make the cold nights warmer

Idea No 1.

remember a moment when the whole world felt alive

...

...

Idea No. 2.

listen to some music that helps settle you in your bones. when that song finishes,  listen to some more.

Idea No. 3.

find a story to take you somewhere.

“I was once telling stories to a group of seven-year-olds, and when the program was almost over one little boy hollered exultantly, “Never finish!” Perhaps this is the whispered, peek-a-boo truth of stories: life ends and stories, too; but stories end in their own good time and with as much “working around” as the teller can fashion, and even in the silence afterwards they are able to keep speaking to us. Stories let us hear the footsteps of our own transformation coming towards us on the pathway of everyday life. We learn from our stories how to dream, tell and remember beyond our own ending, and this may be as close as we can get to never finishing.”

– Dan Yashinsky, from Suddenly They Heard Footsteps

……

Crabbuckits and itchy bones

there’s always a million reasons to say no.

excuses are plentiful. strong arguments for why-not-to aren’t hard to come by. few will blame me if i just don’t bother.

it’s easier, you know…

but

what if i just said yes this time?

what if i dropped the excuses? focused energy on why i should, why i could, what good would come if i did? where would i be if i just stepped out and went for it?

life is short, you know…

……

it was tuesday night. i’d spent the day rolling dough and pouring coffee in the darling village bakery. i had a looming deadline of an art show fast approaching and nothing prepared. i had things i could be doing. you know – stuff. important stuff. practical stuff. stuff stuff.

there’s a tightness that comes with cold weather sinking in. and a weight to some of my days as of late. and, well, some tension/tiredness/ache from a rollercoaster year of living. yeah…there’s a pocketful of reasons for my body to be tired. and somedays i let that tiredness win. i pull out the excuses and my list of why not to, and i settle into the weariness and steep there.

tiredness and to do lists. you know?

but it was tuesday night. and life was feeling too short. and my shoulders were feeling like i’d been carrying it all around for too long. and i didn’t want to do lists. i didn’t even want tiredness. i just wanted to dance.

mhmm.

my bones were just itching to move. like they were fed up with being dragged around and wanted to let loose and stretch out and show me what they were made of. tired of being tired, i just wanted to feel really alive.

what if i just said yes this time?

yes to moving and laughing and stretching and relaxing and playing and forgetting and remembering and breathing…and living.

just say yes, girl.

so i did.

and on tuesday night, after a long day, i found myself on a dance floor with a dear friend, letting loose and letting go and finding my breath and feeling my heart (race, not break)…and i laughed and smiled and felt full of life…

there’s a million reasons to say no.

but life is short, you know…

the tuesday night dance soundtrack

k-os dancin' man

k-os dancin' man

we all have our things that keep us sane

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i take walks and dig in the garden and drink earl grey tea with a bit of milk. i read mary oliver or linford detweiler or listen to shane koyczan rant. i rearrange rooms and purge my house of things. i eat scones or ovaltine biscuits.  i wander through thrift stores. i write words. i sing along with patty griffin and dance to old al. i drive to my favorite beach. i find quiet places where i can catch my breath. i follow the sun with a picnic blanket under my arm. i sift through old things and try to find the stories. i use my hands to  make things. i hold close the people who help hold me feet to the ground.  i root through the chaos and try to find a glimpse of calm. sometimes i have to search really hard.

sometimes i have to search really hard.

i don’t give up.

an afternoon in six shots.

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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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