another trip around the sun.

there is a blue sky and a cool breeze. there is a cat rubbing it’s head against my wet showered hair. there is a long sun porch with a flowered couch and big windows and a weathered arm chair with my bones flopped in it. there is a fading fiddle fig and a family of rabbits. right above me the holy spirit helper dances in the wind.

earlier this week i celebrated another trip around the sun. i travelled hours and miles through traffic jams and storm clouds and best-in-show sunsets so i could mark the occasion in an unfamiliar town with some of the humans i love the most in this world. it’s good. it’s really good. and by good, i mean incredible. and by “it”, i mean everything.

i have shared slow mornings with cooked breakfasts / eaten gooseberry strawberry crumble / walked on the ocean floor in my bare feet through slick brown mud / sat in the hot seat / snuggled bright eyed little ones / laughed / stuffed myself with lobster + scallops + calamari + salmon + cod + haddock in all forms and flavours / drank bottomless pots of earl grey / laughed more / shared stories/ drank truth serum / walked summer sidewalks / bought jam + cookies from an old couple on a country road in a 200+ year old house full of latch rugs and stories / stayed up late/ slept in / dined on ethiopian / devoured chocolate sea salt brownies + an almond croissant / fallen into bed full and tired at the end of every single day.

birthdays have always filled me with gratitude. i’m alive, right? that’s all the reason i need to blow up some balloons and eat cake. but i’ve noticed these last few years that my relationship with time and ageing is changing. i don’t know if it’s that time feels more like dry sand running through my fingertips, or if i’ve just weakened in my grip. i only know it moves faster than it used to. the future feels closer. the past feels complicated. i have moments where i feel like i have lived lives within lives – where my own stories read like fictions, movies i’ve watched so many times i know the scripts by heart but i no longer feel them as my own.

these last few days spent in this sun porch house have held countless hours of conversations and questions. our small lifetimes packed with silences and observations, things felt but never named, loose threads – they’ve been hacked at with a scalpel and exposed to open air (usually after sunset, around the kitchen table, once the kids are in bed). getting older is a weird trip. that day when you wake and suddenly realize you are the age you so clearly remember your parents being when you were a kid. that mirror that confronts you every morning with your body, more woman than girl now, more fleshy and tired and stubborn than you surely ever thought possible. the arrival of alzheimers in the family. the scare of cancer. the birth of children. the way perspective changes and relationships shift and nothing really feels like it used to and some of that is way better and some it is way harder and a lot of it is just plain different.

as i said, getting older is a weird trip. it’s kinda harsh. and kind of amazing.

those hours spent around the table this week,  talking and naming and shaking out the ghosts, they’ve left me feeling a lot of things. mostly gratitude. but also some clarity, and maybe a bit more courage too.

i want time to keep shaking me into wakefulness.

i want to loosen some baggage and keep lightening my load.

i want to name the ghosts in the closet.

i want to hold it all with more gentleness.

every year, every day, i feel like i settle into my own weathered skin a little bit more – which is grossly painful sometimes, but liberating nonetheless. this old armchair cradles my bones just right, which makes me think that i’m exactly where i need to be, in this breezy porch on this blue sky day, in this year of living with with all it’s whispered truths and frayed edges, the holy spirit helper shaking her rainbow feathers above my damp and cat kissed head. i’m not sure i know what any of it really means, but i’m here and i’m thankful. and that’s more than enough.

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annual birthday leap + dance photo shoot, this time in a crooked british burial ground in New Brunswick. because life’s too short not to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

loaves and fishes and so much love.

i made gingerbread men with glasses and moustaches to sell at a folksinger show in our tiny town hall because it seemed like a fun idea and i needed to make some dough. literally.
i was squeezing out icing and swatting at flies and grooving to a hobo jungle fever dream. i took a break to run next door to buy coffee from the blokes who brew a tasty decaf. while i waited for my frothy soy i looked down at the days news. blood and tears and airports and fear. it was everywhere. in color and bold print. i felt my stomach roll and my mouth run dry. my loves were miles away and i wanted everything dear to be within reach. the world felt crazy.
back in the kitchen i felt lost. disoriented. getting scared comes so easily. despair is a cinch to inhale. i felt my feet wobble, my knees go weak.
then i thought about love.
i thought about the way love is a force of courage. the way love heals. i thought about love as light in darkness. i heard the wise J Byrd sing in my ear that Love Is The Law. it’s not ruled by law. it is the law.
i thought about love and felt the wobble of fear and i stared at dozens of gingerbread in-waiting and i remembered the folksinger who’s not afraid to let his freak flag fly and i decided that the best thing i could do in that moment was tap in to all the brave love inside me and keep going.
i stopped worrying and thinking and started squeezing out icing like i was the Keith Haring of pastries. it may sound like the smallest thing and the silliest of notions. but for me alone in that kitchen, icing cookies became a tiny act of revolution. it was a choice to move from a place of love rather than a place of fear. it was trying to be honest and brave in the very place and moment i found myself in.
maybe it doesn’t make much sense to explain.
but later that night while i sat in my seat and listened to the whole-hearted song-slinger sing, i wanted to weep with gratitude and relief.
sometimes the world steps over the line.
but with time, all things shine.
i sold a bunch of cookies that night. i gave a lot away too.
the darkness hung heavy over so much of our world that day.
in some tiny way, i just wanted to live a bit of light.
there were cookies and folk songs and stories and a small town. there was a lot of courage and probably some fear.
and there was love. so much love.
the more we gave the more it grew.
loaves and fishes. miracles multiplied.
when there’s nothing else, there’s still that.
love.

rainbow shack

sunfire and stardust.

sunrise- r.kennedy

the day started with sun fire streaking the pink sky. it was hot by breakfast and i couldn’t stop sneezing. our tin box bedroom is being taken over by ants and i was shaking cinnamon with wild abandon, grasping at old-wives straws that somehow the spice would convince them to pick up and move house. in the still heat of the morning i was folding all the laundry that i’d washed by hand the day before in my preserving pot basin with cold rainwater and eucalyptus oil soap. somewhere in the middle of the ants and the heat and the folding i heard music. bagpipes calling out Amazing Grace. it was strange and surreal and i stood still, listening and wondering, and then realised that over the hill was the old cemetery, usually forgotten and overgrown in this tiny country town, but today it was singing. today there was dying and remembering. today there was music. so i stopped and i listened because that felt like the right thing to do for a stranger life that lived and lives-no-longer. pay attention. 


in the afternoon i dug my hands into the bounty of tomatoes we’d been given from friends abundant gardens, and let them roast till they popped with basil and garlic and olive oil, the smell of late summer sticking to the sweaty air. i sang bob marley songs while fingering wool and tried to funnel my hazy mind into acts of creation. i watered thirsty plants. i made sage brews and laid flat on the concrete floor of our half-built house. when the sun went down i put headphones on and danced my bones under a galaxy of stars. because i can. at the end of it all i stared up at the night sky and let moments and remembering move through me. it was a day that marks an anniversary in the calendar of my mind. sadness and celebration. loss and gain. it’s a journey full of feelings. full of learning. 


the day started with sun fire and ended with stardust.
so many people tell me that my life is a dream. 

i’m here to tell you it’s as real as the sweat on my skin; as full of loss as the fresh dug grave; as delicious as late summer tomatoes; as true as the breath in my lungs when i dance my bones in moonlit skies.
i couldn’t dream this. i wouldn’t dare.
pay attention.
this living is so real.
xx

thirty days.

beachport - r.kennedy

30 days in and how do i begin?

maybe with the smell of the ocean and the sound of breaking waves and the wild empty beach where the sand was carpeted with smooth fragments of shells, and the washed up seaweed was like an Andy Goldsworthy-art-installation just sitting there being beautiful regardless of whether anyone bothered to come and take notice.

i could tell you about picking ripe mulberries, straight off the tree, blood red juice running down my fingers, staining everything in reach, while Bunter the sheep ran around crying for attention and tasty leaves.

i would want to mention to you about the farmers and wholehearted gardeners i meet who work hard to passionately grow native Australian flora; sun-drenched + kind as, wise in their knowing that so much of this country is relentless + wild and water is a scarce and precious resource, and only the seeds that were born of this place have the strength to innately survive.

koala crossing - r.kennedy

there was also the taxi driver in Adelaide named Amad, who taught us back-seat-riders how to meditate and make traditional soaked almond + poppy seed chai; who understood that not every idea was worth holding on to, and that happiness was born on the inside.

and there are the blue fairy wrens + king parrots + sulphur crested cockatoos + kookaburras + rosellas + lorikeets + magpies + wedge-tailed eagles + giant orchard butterflies + all the other winged wonders and singers and squawkers that fill my skies every day. oh, and also the King Brown snake i almost stepped on + the family of tawny frogmouths i saw sitting in the tree + the hilarious blue-headed emu that ran in front of our car + the mud wasp that is building the most mind-blowing nest on our roof beam + the partial skeleton and still perfectly intact ring of down feathers from a little fairy penguin that i found washed up on the beach.

tumbleweed - r.kennedy

there has been a lot of timber moving and ant-infesting and to-do-list making and big-idea dreaming and in-your-face-obstacle wrangling. there has been wood fired pizza and spinach + cheese pasties and fresh tomatoes and homemade marmalade. there has been days of non-stop rain and nights that begged for extra blankets and afternoons where the salty smell of my own sweat feels suffocating.

sydney - r.kennedy

i have road-tripped to the city and sipped flat whites on the rocks. i have spent days by the sea shore, waking up to beach rambles and falling asleep with a belly full of fresh fish and an ocean moon. there have been meals around big tables, and fish + chips on the beach. but mostly there have been days waking up in a small unfinished shack, the bed sitting where the shower will one day be, the water coming from an outdoor tap on a rain tank, the light coming from the sky. and on most days my view is green hills with cattle grazing, two competing roosters crowing in surround-sound, and a close-to-home existence that has everything to do with hopeful ambition and life-giving community.

i’m so grateful for all of it.

30 days in. there are only beginnings. this adventure has no end…

shack - r.kennedy

things exactly as they are

beach - r.kennedy

i am home from a night in a small black box theatre that sits at the back of a big red brick building. i watched a tall man play an even taller bass, and breathe music to a group of people that numbered only as many fingers as are on my one hand.
our minuscule audience learned each others names and the songs filled the space as though it was a packed room 5 times it’s size.
my life is filled with a lot of live music and i hold a deep reverence for the art. but every once and a while i get the chance to witness something really special unfold. tonight was one of those times.
Oliver Swain played his voice for the crazy instrument that it is, and embraced that upright bass like a lover. it was gorgeous to watch, and equally beautiful to listen to. it will reverberate in me for a long long time.

when gorgeous moments happen something in me craves to have people there to share it with. i want someone else to see that sunrise too. i want more people to hear the howl and yip of the coyotes as i fall asleep. i want people i love to understand how incredible it feels to stand in that spot on that beach on the shore of that ocean. i want a full room of eyes and ears to take in the sweet music that’s being created. 

but…i’m also learning to stop wishing that something was different and just fully embrace the way things are.
i am trying to practice being fully aware of MY own presence in those moments.
i am a witness. a participant. maybe that is enough.

Oliver deserved a full house tonight. his art and his talent are worth it all. but there was also something absolutely perfect about us 5 random listeners sprinkled around the tiny room. the beauty was performed whether or not a crowd was there to witness. the art was made with skill and heart despite a near empty room.
the experience left me feeling incredibly full.

sitting in that darkened room i found myself forgetting that anyone else mattered at all. i was just there, feeling grateful and inspired.

i drove away and came home to an empty space, all that energy burning inside me. you weren’t there to feel what i felt. but you’re here now, and the least i could do, the best i can do, is try to tell you about it.

ecstasy and reverence.

“There is ecstasy in paying attention” – Anne Lammott

…………

i have been using this hand-me-down phone for a couple of years now. this week, for the first time, i uploaded photos from it onto my computer. a couple years worth, a couple trips around the globe. the phone is old. the camera is weak. the pictures aren’t trying to be perfect. but the moments…ah, the moments…they are winners. every single one of them, top notch gold. i know. i was there.

anyway, why should i expect a tiny, cracked, pocket-sized machine to be able to really capture the way the sun set the late afternoon field on fire; or the wildness of the empty beach; or the perfection of my plate of food or the barely-still butterfly or the joy of your face?

isn’t the gorgeousness of this life all about having a beating heart and a conscious mind and a spirit that can be moved in ecstasy, in reverence? no machine can tell the story of what my eyes see, what my bones know. i take the pictures as souvenirs, postcards to remind me:

“i was there. that was real. i felt it all.”

…………

santa parade - r. kennedy

bruce - r.kennedy

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wheatley lane

simon - r.kennedy

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farm - r.kennedy

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sunken ship - r.kennedy

tarts - r.kennedy

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bike - r.kennedy

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photo credit: M.Bloom

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…………

there’s so much more where these came from.

xx

rain day in the tea room with lost things

Artist: Cybele Young

Artist: Cybele Young

we woke to rain on the tin roof and fog over the fields.

i was coming through the haze of a sick day and we we were both itching to roam.

twenty minutes down the road, heading south towards the lake, we found our remedy:

a dear friend

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a cozy book store that still stands on its own independent feet

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a red-carpeted tea room that brought thick coffee to your table in a silver pot, served chicken soup generously sprinkled with bits of bone, and ladled the sticky toffee on your warm pudding as though there were an endless supply.

we kept topping up the parking meter, smiled at our small fortunes, and hung around the books as though they were our new found friends. because they were.

bless the rain days and the sick haze, and the way they remind me to walk slowly, savour deeply.

 

p.s. the above image is from a beautifully delightful book that we stumbled on today called Some Things I’ve Lost by Cybele Young. That people create such wonder and whimsy in this life is one of things I am most grateful for.

each mad heart silent, a brilliant music stilled.

making a list is all about not knowing where to start with the words in your brain and the rumbles in your bones. so you get to stop thinking about it and just start at number

  1. a blue jay and a woodpecker. my morning raucous serenade.
  2. a hummingbird, one of the last of the hanger-on-ers of the season, shared a spot at the breakfast booth with me the other day.  sometimes, when the juice is running low, i wake up to the sound of one hovering beside my face while i’m still in bed, staring at me through the thin pane of glass. those tiny wings beat so fast that they make enough noise to wake me from sleep. the awesomeness of this is never lost on me.
  3. a butterfly hunt with Mr. Jones. we returned with a wooden basket bounty of a couple pinecones + a topless acorn + too many dead bumblebees ( what happened to the bees?) + a grey feather + roadside pebbles + some dismembered Red Admiral wings + a lot of Yellow Sulphurs + one recently injured but still very alive Monarch.
  4. buying nectarines + orange currant bread outside in the rain.
  5. the rain.
  6. i keep thinking about coyotes. all summer long they howl and yip such an eerie lullaby all around our caravan home. they stop us in our tracks. they’ve kept us from our sleep. but i never actually see them. part of me is cool with that. the other part of me begs for a glimpse. they’re so full of mystery and i’m so full of curiosity. the world is so full of amazing.
  7. while you and me were busy doing other things this morning – making lists, buying groceries, going to work, complaining about the weather – there were incredible things happening all around us. like babies being born. like one baby in particular…who was born probably right around the time i was picking out the nicest cauliflower from the Italian farmer guy at the market for only $2. amazing. i haven’t even met this babe yet but already i know i love him to the moon and back. the heart is tremendous like that. so are our days…there’s always more to them than just the cauliflower and the rain…
  8. …speaking of cauliflower…i can’t seem to eat my fill. i’m crushin’ on the cruciferous big time.
  9. there are three windows open on my computer screen tonight. one is this blog post page, words mid-composition. one is my partially filled out Visa application for Australia. the third is a stream of CBC news stories about refugees. there is an irony, a tragedy, an injustice, and a mash up of a million other feelings, that sit firmly between windows two and three. my privilege makes my heart ache. which leads me back to window one. right here. making a list because there’s nowhere else to begin.
  10. my sweetheart and i had a crazy idea. and we acted on it. and it worked. and that is one of the best feelings in the world. here’s to living out more crazy creative brilliance!
  11. more rain + this cozy sweater + a finished cup of hot chocolate + the close of a full day + the end of a list. oh, and this picture, because it brings me joy in every way.
  12. old brown guitar case

 

touch the edge

 

 

It was early evening light on a pebble beach on a hot day. It was me, and a beautiful 10 year old girl, both in our bare feet, waves splashing. We had made the trek to the small stretch of shore on the big lake to hunt. To scour. To search and fill our palms and pockets with washed up treasures.

We set out on a westerly course, away from factory smoke and dog-walkers. We passed a few other scavengers: a pair with arms laden with large rocks; another couple, fists full of sticks. Otherwise, we were all alone, heads down, eyes roaming.

While my blonde-haired companion was collecting black stones and smooth grey rocks, I had my eyes set on mermaids tears. Beach glass. I have a weakness for it, and every piece I find, no matter how small, delights me. Every single time.

My small satchel was gathering a good haul – some nice clear white pieces, a few greens. I even found a holy stone, another cherished beach-combing treasure that my friend Veronica opened my eyes to last year. I was feeling lucky.

To the west, the walking stretch of the beach ends at a rocky point. The land narrows, and most ramblers don’t bother to go that far. We had been combing for a while, and our bags were getting full, and my sun-kissed partner was wondering when we were going to turn around. We were both getting hungry. But, for whatever reason, I had it in my head that on this day I needed to go as far as I could – I wanted to go all the way to the edge.

I couldn’t turn around just yet.

I mean, I could. Sure I could. And part of me thought that I should. Just turn around, head back to the car, call it a day. Our pockets were full.

But no. I couldn’t shake this little thought that kept dancing inside my head that said: sometimes the best gifts are found right at the very edge.

So I pointed to the big rock at the far edge of the shore, and told my girl that I just needed to make it to that rock, and then we could turn around and head home. Almost as soon as I took my next step, a beautiful piece of deep blue glass caught my eye, half buried in sand. Lifting it up, I grinned: I would never have known that I was one step away from this gem if I had packed it in and just turned around.

In the few moments it took me to reach my rocky edge, I found the three best pieces of beach glass I found all day. When I put my foot down on my goal, the big rock at the far edge of the shore, I held out my hand and took a picture.

sea glass - R.Kennedy

……

It’s just pieces of glass, I know.

But in that moment, for me, it was a reminder. It was a reminder that sometimes I need to take myself right to the edge; a reminder that what is easier is not always what is best; and that sometimes the best stuff is waiting just ahead…but I won’t see it unless I take the next step.

And…just to top it all off…as I turned to walk back from the edge I looked down and found my second holy stone of the day, which is a new record for me. I always thought that finding one holy stone at a time was more than amazing. Apparently this hot, pebbly, sun-streaked shoreline was on a mission to expand my expectations and coax me to my edges today.

As we made our way back to the start, my stone-heavy companion asked with wide eyes how I was able to find my handful of colored tears. I was quiet for a moment…what do I say?

How do you teach someone how to look with more than their eyes? How do you tell someone all that you are learning to see?

……

holy stone - R.Kennedy

 

 

 

lost beauties

there’s a little silver caravan that sits at the end of our dirt lane. it’s a rickety tin box with a tarp over the roof. it’s a loaner from good ol’ Sambo, and for the last couple of years it’s rotated between being our bedroom, our kitchen, and our tool shed.
this year, it’s my art studio.
mmmhmmm. lucky me.

it is perched on the edge of the hill that slopes down to the valley, and when the wind blows, the little room rocks and sways. i always keep the door propped open, just in case i need to make a quick escape in a gusty breeze.
the corner window blew out in the winter rains last year. it’s now just a permanent breezeway.

i have a table that hinges to the wall, adorned with pencil scribbles of roof angles, wall measurements, and wiring maps. my chair is a hand-me-down drafting stool from Miss Anne’s shed. there is a clothesline along the wall, cluttered with photos and findings and notes. the ledges are piled with sea urchins, spools of thread, rusty metal, and beach-combed bric-a-brac.

i love it in there.
somedays i sit until the sun has sucked out all of the light, and my strained eyes just can’t see to sew another stitch. even then, sometimes i just linger and sit. and listen. and drift.

the other day i wandered over to open up the caravan doors for the day…let the cool of the morning move in. i saw something move in the corner. i found not one, but two  little butterfly beauties hanging out in my little art home. they found their way in, but somehow couldn’t remember how to get out. or maybe they just liked it there…smile.

i cupped them, one at a time, in my hand, and walked with them outside, and then i opened my hand and waited…delighted, that they didn’t just up and fly away. one in particular seemed quite happy to hang around. she even spread her wings and flaunted her glory for me. i reveled in it.

i love when the days hold tiny surprises.
i’m not sure there’s a better way to have started my day than a visit to a windy tin can art room that fluttered with lost beauties, and a few rare moments of stroking the fine hairs of a butterfly spine while it rested in the sun in the palm of my hand.

goodness + gratitude, indeed.

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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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