With Love and Light

It's been my privilege lately to be involved with a number of heartwarming events that make me realise that family is not just the people you live with, or gave birth to, or are related to. Family is everyone who makes up the community in which you surround yourself, at work, during leisure time as well as at home.

I am blessed to be a part of the Light Up Your Life Society, a group of passionate and dedicated volunteers who have for the past twenty five years raised funds and provided support for palliative and hospice care for Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County. They have several events - a raffle, a Chinese buffet luncheon, a variety show, a silent auction, as well as lighting up the murals in Stony Plain with luminaries to help folks remember loved ones.  97% of the donations raised go to purchase equipment for palliative care patients and this year's goal is $100,000. The love and drive these volunteers have for this cause is phenomenal and the light they cast touches many families.

It is also my blessing to be part of the City of Spruce Grove. For the last 14+ years, my work family and I have been through some highs and lows (like any other family!) but the camaraderie and connection that we have only grows stronger every year. This was made all the more apparent at a recent gathering for a colleague with a terminal illness where more than 150 people showed up to celebrate the man, his life, share stories and shed tears for his prognosis. Some were former coworkers from other areas of his life, some were former coworkers who left the City of Spruce Grove over the years, some were current colleagues and family. All came together as one unified group and the love and light in the room were breathtaking. It was raw, and real, and touched every one of us to the core of our being.

We will always have differences but it's what we have in common that binds us. Easy to forget the good parts in the everyday dreariness that sometimes happens but integral to our well-being, our sense of community and knowing we are not alone, and our hearts.

The threads that bind us may be invisible but they are real and strong and vital. They light up our lives and bring us together, even when we are apart. They are life threads resonating with hope, love, caring and compassion.

Today I feel alive, and bright, and grateful for each and everyone of you.


Giving Thanks

I love this time of year! Crisp air, crunchy leaves, yummy smells like turkey and pumpkin pie blend into a wonderful time to reflect and be thankful.

In a world that seems rife with never-ending disasters, turbulence and unrest, I want to take a moment to appreciate where I live, how I live and how many blessings are present in my life.

Good friends, a loving family, a good job, warm, safe home and an abundance of food - all of my needs are met or exceeded on a daily basis.

Yet I don't always realize this, or take time the time to feel gratitude, to tell people how much they mean to me, to lend a helping hand, to extend kindness or simply pause for a moment to breathe in the clean air that our part of this amazing country affords us.

Today I want to remember all of these things, to embrace and cherish my life, and to give thanks to the universe for giving me all that I need, even if not always all that I want.

I want to give thanks for all of you. We touch each other's lives in different ways. Some are fleeting, some are lasting, but all make an impression and hopefully we leave each other better for the shared experience.

From my heart to yours, with thanks and with love. Namaste.

It's really happening...

Registration is now open!
Windsong Writing & Wellness (Lynn Gale) and Tri-Community Adult Learning & Literacy Association(Tri-CALA) present:
The Memoir Project: A Taste of Memoir 
Thurs, Oct 19 to Thurs, Nov 9
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Location: Pioneer Museum, Stony Plain
Cost: Introductory Workshop only $35
All 4 classes: $125

Register: Call (780) 591-3355 Tri-CALA
Questions: email Lynn Gale at ldgale@shaw.ca

EVERYONE has a story to share. Discover how to capture your story, or help someone else capture their story, into a written format. Learn the difference between documenting a life, writing memoir pieces, and creative non-fiction.
Learn to write using the five senses as well as using moments of stillness found through guided meditation to stimulate your memories and stir your creative juices. Words will simply flow onto the page creating a lasting legacy for you and your family. Come and learn how to be still, be calm, and to be yourself. Or maybe, you'll find yourself somewhere along the way.
No writing or meditation experience is required. Sharing is also not required - this is your story, your way.
Thursday,Oct 19: Introductory Workshop. This workshop can be taken by itself or with the following 3 classes as a group.
Thursday, Oct 26: How do you want your memoir project to look?
Thursday, Nov 2: Writing your story - the middle bit, fun and tasty!
Thursday, Nov 9: Next steps to a finished project and helping someone else document their story.
Hope to see you there!

The Memoir Project...and More

Over the summer, I have been slowly nurturing the seeds of my fledgling business Windsong Writing & Wellness to develop ways for you and I to spend time together writing, sharing, finding stillness and reflecting. I want to help you find the you that is buried deep in your soul and see that you are beautiful inside and out just the way you are right now, in this moment.

I want to help you find and share the stories of your life - whatever they look like. Good, bad, sad, happy, angry live in all of us (if you know the movie Inside Out you know exactly what I mean! If you don't know it, go watch it. It's wonderful!) and together build the colourful mosaic of YOU. A perfect piece of art, unique, and oh so valuable.

We spend a great deal of time rushing from this to that, dealing with our children and families, coping with home and work obligations. That doesn't always leave any time for reflection, stillness, or peace.

My goal is to offer you a place of stillness, of safety and of comfort, in which you can relax, unwind and journal or write down whatever your heart desires. Through gentle short meditations, deep empowering breathing, you can give yourself the gift of quiet and respite from your everyday life.

Yoga nourishes your soul, writing nourishes your spirit, food nourishes your body, and stillness offers you the space in which to do all of those things.

We all have a story to share. Let me help you tell yours - or show you how to help someone else tell theirs.

In the next few days, I'll share the details of The Memoir Project. This is a set of four writing classes (two hours each) that will be offered in Stony Plain from Oct 19 to Nov 9. No experience is required in either meditation or writing.


A wish...is just a wish...until it's MORE

At the beginning of this year, I promised myself that this would be the year when I elevate my life and my writing life to the next level. 
It's hard to take that step into reality's harsh glare. I am a writer and inside my writing cocoon, it's warm, cozy and safe. Once my words leave me and land on the page, they are exposed to everything the world has to offer, laid bare and vulnerable. As much as I long to share my words, I am also afraid. Afraid of rejection, criticism, judgment and yes, even of success.Writers are complicated, to say the least. 
I am learning though that life is something that should not be taken for granted and opportunities need to be seized, moments acted upon and hearts followed. 
Over the past several years, I have wrestled with anxiety, stress, depression and a nagging sense that all was not right in my world. I know that many people go through similar experiences but what made mine super scary was just how black my world had become. From the outside, all looked fine, but on the inside, I felt empty and breathless and dying a little every day. It took months before I was able to ask for help. Months before I knew I needed help. Months before I realized I was sliding over an edge with no end in sight.
With my husband's support, support from my bosses, and a wonderful group of doctors, plus finding a yoga home and stillness at Be Free Yoga, I started my slow road back to what I hoped would be my normal. After two years, guess what I discovered? There is NO normal.
That meant that what I was, and am, is ME. Not normal me, or acceptable me. Just me. And that I am an amazing woman with much to share. So much so, in fact, that I could make all my wishes come true if only I dared.
A wish is just a wish...unless it has an Action Plan...which turns it into a GOAL and makes it REAL.
I want my life to be REAL. I want my writing to be REAL. I want to help people discover the own perfect amazing-ness that they already have but don't know about,  just like I did. 
I have launched my new business Windsong Writing & Wellness. In addition to continuing to work on my writing projects, I will offer writing classes, writing and wellness workshops, and in the near future, yoga classes with a journaling component. We'll explore stillness and learn to breathe, deeply, slowly and fully.
Now you know my story. I would love to help you find yours. We'll start small and work our way up, together. Stories that bind us, words that free us, in a safe and loving environment.
Wishes can indeed come true. :-)

The Art of Letting Go – Creating Space

     In yoga, we use breath to create space in areas of tightness, where we hold on to tension or stress. As the space opens up, the tension drains away. The open space provides a lovely place where breath can flow freely and the body around the space can relax and just be. The intent is not to instantly fill the space with something, but to let it be filled with only breath and lightness. You give up the stress and tension, a release, a letting go.
      My sister sent me a different way to approach giving up something for Lent: each day, donate a bag of something in your home to charity. It doesn’t matter what size of bag, what matters is the act of letting go of something that you probably don’t use but are hanging on to. It has multiple benefits, on many levels. It clears your home of something you don’t need, it helps the recipient as it may be something they do need but don’t have, and it creates space to breathe, both physically and metaphorically.
      In the same manner as yoga, do not rush to fill the space created by letting go of your bag of stuff. Instead, rearrange the remaining items to give them some breathing room, or horror of horrors, leave the space empty. As a person who always rushes to fill an empty space, this in itself is a major challenge and foreign to me. Empty space for the sake of empty space? Yikes.
      Earlier this week, as part of our continuing decluttering, my husband ‘encouraged’ me to attempt the process in my office. I am a paper and stuff piler…and this room reflected that trait quite beautifully. By the end of the evening, in spite of my reluctance to ‘let go’, we had several clear plastic containers neatly labelled, an overflowing bag of ‘to go’ items and a desktop that gleamed under lights that suddenly seemed ten times brighter. Did I mention in an earlier blog that almost every closet in our home now contains labelled clear bins of goodies? My office is now like that – clean, organized, labelled and orderly. It feels calm and serene and peaceful and the act of entering the room and sitting down to write feels like a gift.
      It practically invites me to sit down with a writing work-in-progress bin and create. Yes, every writing project nestles in its own bin, with research books, etc. all enclosed safely inside. Downstairs, in my craft room (which we call ‘the purple room’ because it’s – hello - PURPLE!), craft and sewing projects follow suit. It’s such a simple organizational idea and judging by the massive breadth of containers available in stores everywhere, one that others have embraced as well.
      So what’s the challenge in all of this?
      Letting go is really difficult, even when it’s something you know you don’t need or doesn’t serve you. Whether it’s physical things, or intangibles like emotions, the pain is real. There is familiarity and sometimes comfort even with pain, and sometimes the pain in letting go feels worse, like reopening old wounds. Being able to live in the present, to be mindful and here for yourself, means you need to deal with those difficult things, to say goodbye to the past, then let go, and find peace and joy in the present. Create the space to breathe freely, not merely to exist, but to flourish and grow.
      It takes practice and patience and sometimes a supporting helping hand. And it also needs repeating, over and over again.
       All you need to do is just start…whether it’s 5 minutes of meditation, a yoga class, clearing a desktop, or tidying a cupboard. Notice how easy it is to breathe afterwards? How good the open space in your body feels, how good the empty space in your cupboard looks?
     That is the art of letting go.


Lost and Found

  My Action Plan is to find time for writing. Part of that includes being organized, decluttering our house and simplifying our lives.
  My husband of almost 31 years is 120% on board and over the past few months, he has been relentlessly going through our home, room by room, and together we’ve been sorting things into three categories: keep, donate, and garbage. Garbage was the last option and reserved for things that are iffy, broken, the unexplained (why did we keep this??) or those things that had simply disintegrated (various crafts and art made by our children). Donate was for anything useful, in good condition, that might be used by another human. Keep was those things we wanted to keep, with a few provisos. It had to either be used all the time or seasonally. It had to fit one of us NOW (clothes, boots, etc.), have a future purpose (toys saved for grandchildren), be any type of books (all books stay!), be something we use, or relate to something we use (stuff for the trailer, kayaks).
  Label maker in hand (yes, even the label maker is labelled!), different sizes of bins and containers at the ready, the basement, the main bathroom closet, craft room, guest room, kitchen and back hall have been perused, pondered, pitched and prettied. As our son commented when he came over last night – there’s room in the basement storage area to hold a yoga class now!
  We unearthed treasures in boxes that hadn’t been opened for years. One such gem was our collection of record albums – 396 at last count. Our turntable had long been retired and our music replaced on CD but both of us were loath to part with these albums – they represent much of our lives. They include albums from both sets of parents – Dean Martin, Broadway show tunes, Charley Pride, Roy Orbison and Frank Sinatra just to name a few. K-Tel records abound from my teenage years, 45s from the 60s, David Cassidy, Rick Springfield and T-Rex albums that forever hold their place in my heart and my memories.
  My husband had a plan. Gift card in hand, he went to The Source and purchased an Ion record player that is  battery powered and can be connected to the computer. He alphabetized the albums (much discussion was held regarding where 10 CC went, or if The J Geils Band went under J or Geils) and helped me clear a space in my writing office for the record player.
  What was lost was found – not just music, but memories and highlights from our lives.
  That is why as I write this blog today I am listening to Three Dog Night's Greatest Hits on vinyl. Three Dog Night was the very first concert I saw, in Edmonton in the early 70s. Hearing the songs bring back that night and reminds me of who I was then and who I am now. Same me, just a little older, a little wider, and a little (lot!) greyer.

  Still remember all the words to the songs though. :0)

A New Year…My Blog and an Action Plan

2017 is going to be a milestone year, I can feel it. Not only is it the Year of the Rooster, which is the same as the year in which I was born, but it is also a year filled with promise, potential and possibilities.

I am going to take my writing to a whole new level. No more procrastinating, excuses, whines or reasons. Instead of resolutions, I have an Action Plan, capital A, capital P.

My short term goals started this weekend, with more to follow at 3 months, 6 months, etc. With the help of writing friends, my path to future publication is being built, one piece of gravel at a time (not up to paved paths yet but that will come! Perhaps even my own yellow brick road…I am a Gale after all.☺)

My long term goals have been hibernating, in a secret part of my heart, for years and it’s time for them to shake off the lethargy and come into the light of day. It’s been easy for me to put things off but time is precious (and always was) and the older I get, the more I realize and appreciate the here and now.

So right here, right now, I invite YOU to join me on this journey into my imagination and onto the printed page or out into the digital world. I will blog my journey regularly and would love your company! I plan to share writing and life tips, recipes, photos, missteps and milestones as I traverse the next steps to my dream of having more published works and sharing my words with as many of you as possible.

FYI - I don’t write in any one genre – my works-in-progress include picture books (the story part, even my stick people look like, well, not sticks), middle grade reader stories, a romance and a short story anthology. Some fiction, some non-fiction, and all from my heart to you.

I’ll be adding an area where you can sign up for my mini newsletter which will contain information on potential upcoming published works, excerpts, and maybe even a free e-book or two! Coming soon...

Promise, potential and possibilities – welcome to the wonderful world of my 2017!