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July 9, 2020

Tiger Tiger

By Maryanna Gabriel

"Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night."

- William Blake

Last night I dreamed a tiger was stalking me. I pulled children into my studio to protect them but the tiger followed us, interested in going right for me. The tiger held out its two front paws and a nail from each went against my shoulders and held me. I was frozen. Then the tiger let me go. It was as if the tiger wanted to show me how powerful it was, but it wasn't going to harm me.

Stunned by the dream, I thought about tigers all day. Their power. Their beauty. What did it mean, I wondered, to have such a dream? In the end I decided the tiger is a symbol of courage and royalty and that it was a tremendous honour to have one come to me, even if it was in my sleep. They are so magnificent, aren't they?

July 8, 2020

Blue Peas

By Maryanna Gabriel

I have the loveliest blue peas bursting forth in crunchy tastiness in the garden. It is so pretty as we pass midsummer, trying to store light from the sun in our bones for the winter ahead. I will have to remember to save some of the seeds.

As I shoo away the rabbits and plant beans for the third time (this time under a blanket of remay) I am noticing that the potatoes planted upright are doing so much better than those planted in the garden bed. Maybe it is the soil, but it is also a question of taking less space. I am guessing there will be more potatoes as well. Years and years of gardening and I am still learning....

July 7, 2020


By Maryanna Gabriel

"...there is a time to take back the years you lost 
in high school. The time is now."
-Natalie Goldberg

    Sometimes the message we get in childhood affect us our entire lives and it takes a bit of sorting to reframe beliefs that we might have of ourselves that are simply not true. When I was in grade twelve I had an English teacher I was very excited to learn from. He brought in a student teacher. I remember working on a paper for a long time, the table I worked at, the colour of the yellow paper I was writing on. The opening paragraph was quite splendid and I was proud of it, for I had I crafted it for a long time.

    The student teacher failed me. Why? She said I plagiarized. She decided the writing couldn't possibly be mine. It was too good. I mentioned it to my father who told me to speak to the teacher. I didn't at first. I thought how can I prove it is mine, if she says it isn't? When I realized it was affecting my transcript for university, I did go and speak to him. By then it was too late, he said, the marks were official. He seemed to accept what I had to say- the student teacher had long gone. I continued on at university and studied archaeology but I avoided literature, my first love, for I felt hollowed out by what I had experienced. One inexperienced teacher had redirected my life with her mistake.

    This week I got my writing portfolio returned from Simon Fraser University's, The Writer's Studio. It said 100/100. While there were comments on how I could improve my writing, this dear teacher, a published author who has worked for publishing houses, had encouraging praise. This is the stuff that fuels one; it makes me want to go forward. I thought of that student teacher of long ago, and the English teacher who has since died, and the damage done and wanted to blanket the old scar with care.

    When we are very young we make decisions about ourselves based on the feedback given. Much of it is complete rubbish. How many of these do we carry? We each do, don't we?

June 26, 2020

Being Published

By Maryanna Gabriel

All very exciting. One of my writing pieces is being published with Simon Fraser's The
"Emerging" - Journal Cover Design
Writer's Studio. It is an extract from a longer work that is being shaped and sculpted (in between brush strokes) from my walk on the Camino from Southern France, to Santiago in Eastern Spain.

I have been working with an editor. She rejected one grammar suggestion and was very good about incorporating edits that I felt it needed and I was not too bad in accepting her's.

All and all it is a bit of a thrill. I have also sent cover designs to the journal but not sure how that is going to go over. It was a fun reprieve from my brain to sit down with my drawing pencils and watercolours. 

The Bob Effect

Every summer when the weather is beautiful and people are pulling out the barbeque, I
face my decks. I need about one week of good weather to pull out the tree bits in the cracks, then wash and stain them. I am not really happy during this arduous process, in fact it is best if you don't talk to me at all during this annual ritual.

This year, in a fit of surrender that is rare for me, I hired, well, let's call him Bob. Bob said he would come and I was so happy I felt spurred on with the task and actually made fantastic progress. Bob never showed. He emailed to say he was really busy but did I still want him to come? Why yes, I did.

With this piece of news I felt spurred once again and did another huge section. Again Bob never showed. The truth is we have done this four times now. I am almost finished and Bob has yet to make an appearance. I am calling it the Bob Effect. I have stopped muttering that I need to move into a condo and the place is looking fantastic. Love Bob. Great guy. 
By Maryanna Gabriel 

June 18, 2020

Face Coverings For Travel

By Maryanna Gabriel

      As if the sign wasn't enough, the weird female voice piping through the BC Ferries parking lot
about a global pandemic and it being mandatory to wear a mask to board the ferries, had me feeling I was in a weird science fiction movie. I half expected a Star Wars crew to materialize beside me with their droids. It was something about the sound of her. 

      Do other people experience this feeling of unreality? I felt I had traveled a time warp into a weird alternate future and could I please wake up to well, the past.... I suppose.

      Realistically, given our trajectory, what other alternate realities should I/we be preparing for? Sometimes it is all feels like a bad dream.  

June 16, 2020

Stars On My Toes

By Maryanna Gabriel

I have just come through an online zoom conference of nine days. It was with The University Of King's College as an intro to the MFA.

Rendition of a book reading experience. 
I was glad to be home for it. I think if I was trying to fly from the west to the east coast of Canada to where it was held, which was Halifax, I would have felt mentally thinner. There are some benefits to this strange time we live in with a global pandemic. As it turned out, even with the support of being in the comfort of my own environment, it was intense. I read aloud a section from the walk I did on the Camino. This walk will be thesis for the next two years. A book. It seems so brave to be saying that. 

Of course, zooming from one event to the next required a regimen of self care. Trying to keep the circulation going in my body between sessions seemed important. Now that it is over, my website has come online and is working perfectly after several grief filled episodes with my web host these past few days. Such is life. 

This is my first born grandson's beautiful drawing. I thought it looked so much like how I felt doing my public reading. I felt the love and read with stars on my toes.

June 15, 2020

The Murder Of Jennifer Quesnel

By Maryanna Gabriel

     The murder of Jennifer Quesnel, aged 41, on June 1, 2020, rocked the community of Salt Spring Island. Her estranged husband lay in ambush, shot her twice, then killed himself. She was still alive when the RCMP came. Then she died. They used to live at the end of the road where I live. This is a quiet island. The news was a shock.

    I met her once. She came to buy a bed from me. She seemed very sweet. Everyone who knows her says nothing but kind things. My neighbour described her as being "like a madonna, an angel", a delicate beauty, who went to the same high school as our daughters. We talked about how she showed horses and dogs. What, my neighbour wondered, was she doing with  him? "Maybe she was like a horse whisperer with her husband," I said. One can only imagine what she went through. 

"Crying" by my 4 year old grandson. 
     He scared me. He smashed his truck through things left at the bottom of a neighbour's drive. He then phoned them and told them it was him. He tried to run another neighbour off the road when she disagreed with him at a public meeting. Once, I was standing at our group mail box with a Valentine's card from my eldest daughter. It fluttered to the ground when I saw him coming. I began to back up. Smiling, he picked the card up and handed it to me. "Thank you," I said faintly trying not to show the whites of my eyes. 

     Mostly I think of her family with the deepest of sympathy and their three boys, how some people leave a legacy of bullying, violence and chaos. This picture, a gift from my grandson, is so expressively beautiful. It goes with the story of Jennifer Quesnel, and the rain that is pouring out of the sky this morning.

June 4, 2020

As If One Virus Wasn't Enough

By Maryanna Gabriel

As if one virus wasn't enough, my website, which some of you may be using to access this blog, has had a nasty attack. Someone was trying to sell viagra on which wasn't very nice. You would think if they were so smart with the technology it would be easier to just do their own. Humans, as in nature, have their share of saprophytes and parasites, sucking the juice out of other's, ghost fish without a life of their own, a virus and a scourge, living in dark places.

So with great difficulty, more of it in the mind, than the actual accomplishment, I have had to build a new site that has better security. It will take a few days to show up properly on the search engines.

All of this has been accomplished in a tight window of time as I transition from Simon Fraser University's The Writers Studio to the Master's at King's College, Dalhousie University. School is online fortunately. What I do have to watch is rigor mortis with all of the sitting.... no point in getting heart failure if I have made it this far. Off for a walk this morning. Take good care. 

June 3, 2020

A Little Crazy

By Maryanna Gabriel

When things seem a little crazy it is always good to bake.

We have had a murder suicide here on the island. It is pretty shocking because they were former neighbours. Then when I heard that a friend down the road had slipped and fallen, breaking a few bones I knew that I would feel better if I did something for someone else. So I baked a fruit crisp and a comforting dinner and took it to her.

It was a good idea. It seemed helpful to be able to share the events with a bit of a consoling chat. With world goings on being what they are this week, it is best to look out for the eclipse on the full moon this Friday. Not that I want to go live in a closet. However, it might be advisable. 

May 24, 2020

Yellow Sticky Notes

By Maryanna Gabriel

My class mates have been telling me I have been holding back in my writing. It is interesting feedback as I have been doing nothing but write about the world as I see it through my eyes. I would think this speaks volumes. So now I am searching for the threads that connect my story to a deeper part of myself.

Sometimes I might be doing something else completely and fragments come in. I think, "I should put that in." I rush to a yellow sticky note and scribble a few phrases down to help jog my memory. Later I return to where I was and stare at the sticky notes in dismay. Gibberish. It is like a dream sequence that has melted away as one pours the morning coffee, an encryption, a mysterious message from a dream portal that makes absolutely no sense. I put it in a folder and hope that the message will come through again.

Somehow it feels as though something precious is not being made use of, that I have missed the boat and the ship has sailed, that the book is off writing itself somewhere with a more attentive authoress and I am not at the other end of my own pen. 

May 16, 2020

Improving The Shlepping Around

By Maryanna Gabriel

I was so inspired by the beauty of a hotel I saw last night on the Amalfi coast, in Italy. It was converted from a convent built in the early 1600's. It only had twenty rooms, each room named after a medicinal herb used by the nuns that lived there. Past 400 hundred year old gardens, the infinity pool on the edge of the cliff, blended with the Mediterranean beyond. It was so beautiful it made me gasp. I got up, made a lemon balm tisane, and decided to change into heels and a more elegant dressing gown. It felt fun, as though I was participating in graciousness somehow.

If I were Barbara Hutton, one of the richest women in the world, I would have gone there. Then again they had no internet when she lived, but if I were her, and being me, I am sure I would have made it to the Amalfi coast. I would have gone disguised, and travelled with pseudonyms, disappearing into beautiful settings, reading my book under lemon groves and reappearing in the cafes of Portofino, or on the Orient Express, leaving big tips and hearing people's stories. (Barabara had several marriages, was relieved of most of her fortune by her husbands and died of a heart attack.)

I feel as though I have been on vacation. It beats shlepping around. 

"Pots" by Maryanna Gabriel 

May 7, 2020

Slowing Down Time

By Maryanna Gabriel

Things are starting to heat up. Dalhousie has accepted me into a master's program. This is great, right? There are many stressful details to attend to as a result. Such as where to put commas. I should know that. One has to say soothing words to oneself, and hum quietly from time to time. Commas are not a priority, I say, as I try to stand away from where I work.

Chapter 32
I am doing my best to slow down time. A small window of freedom is left to me. I need to get past Chapter 32. How does one do that?

I have been stuck on this chapter for days.... it is tangled - I have been too long away. I understand about a certain author who sleeps with her book while she is writing. I almost need that. There are so many ways to get distracted, not just distracted, downright derailed.

So I have a new strategy for slowing down time. 1) Not checking my email until past noon.  2) And shopping... forget the seven in the morning grocery shop. For some reason all those people with face masks and hand-wipe rattle me. 3) I set my timer so that I get up and walk or do exercises. (I have writer's bum, sometimes confused with cookie legs.) This alarming diagnostic is accompanied by joint stiffness.

Often though the timer will beep on and on. I am on a train of thought I cannot drop. So the timer sounds off and I write. It is odd, I know, but I do feel better about making progress. 

May 3, 2020

Garden Solace

By Maryanna Gabriel

A garden is a delight to the eye and a solace for the soul.”  
- Saado

Tomato With Scrambled Egg

I notice myself regressing. Thinking of simpler times. I realize my thoughts of Cheerios and Shreddies are a reversion to childhood, seeking comfort in the memory of a world that was less complicated.

So I have been escaping to my garden. Recently I read that a cracked egg under a tomato plant produces a much lusher plant, so I have tried it. I hope the raccoon leaves the plants alone.

I also have implemented a new way to grow potatoes that is space efficient. I am supposed to put straw down, then compost, then a layer of potatoes and repeat. I have gone from what would take 16 square feet to one square foot. If it works I can grow so much more.... vertical gardening is on my mind. It is healing. 

Basket For Growing Potatoes Upright

April 28, 2020

The Corona Matrix

By Maryanna Gabriel

I didn't know what to say. I was gob-stopped by what I was hearing. A trusted friend was reciting her reasons why she thought the Corona Virus was a hoax. She was Face-timing me from her home in the central prairies of Canada. Her tone was aggressive. Angry.

I was fascinated by the reasoning. When she came to the end, I cleared my throat. "Try to keep an open mind," I said. 
It was a shock. I thought she was smarter. 

"You look upset," she said.

I was. It is tempting to go this route. It feels surreal, as though we are characters caught in someone else's bad scenario of the future. We want to think we will wake up one morning and say, "Oh, it all felt so real." A matrix, one where we are being controlled, and within which we must strive for freedom. Sure. Help yourself. Go right ahead.

Demonstrate. Protest. Yell at the restrictions. You must think this isn't real. Obviously. Ignore safety measures. Open up businesses. I'll just be sitting tight here trying to figure out if I can get a cantaloupe into my new green houses while you do, as the death count rises. I'll be keeping to my own matrix, thanks. I didn't entitle this blog "Travels In A Different Sort Of Way" for nothing. Gosh, there is so much misinformation out there. This is some ride we are on. 

April 21, 2020

Self Sustainability

By Maryanna Gabriel

I was listening to a podcast from New York city and was a little startled to hear "there were no vegetables" and thought about planes being grounded and how this might be disrupting the supply chain. Here on Salt Spring Island we are having our first Physical Distancing Farmer's Market today which seems like an important concession on the part of the local authorities.

With everything that is going on, the garden is a wonderful place to get lost in, as each day grows longer. Usually the garden is a more of a dalliance but this year there is an urgency on my part to protect what I am creating not only from Mr. Bunny, who hopped by one morning when I was writing, but rather a wish to speed growth along. I have built a mini-greenhouse which I am enormously proud of. I have enough greens growing in it to feel self sufficient. 

April 20, 2020

A Funny Thing

By Maryanna Gabriel

A few days ago I came into the garden and stared. It was puzzling. Why were the edging stones
My artist's sketch of the suspect. 
displaced? My first thought was that someone with ill intent has been in the garden. As I put them back I noticed more stones moved. I walked around. Other stones were moved too. Not all of them. Just randomly and slightly out of alignment. My heart started to pound. It wasn't a nice feeling to think that someone was messing around on the property with me inside. I walked to the front. All was intact. Well, that was good. Then down at my little cottage - it seemed that every second or third stone was moved. Then I just knew.

It wasn't a person. It was an animal. What animal would do this? As the fence is six feet high it could only be a raccoon. He would be looking for bugs or worms. A quick internet search affirmed that they do this. What a funny thing.

April 19, 2020

Timing Is Everything

By Maryanna Gabriel

I have an indoor garden growing where I am hoping to see the emergence of cucumber and squash. I have been watering the soil for some time now. I am surprised there has been no emergence. I ask myself how many days has it been? It doesn't matter. My mind is rushing ahead of the event. Seeds stir and unfurl when they are ready. No amount of hurrying ahead of something before it is meant to happen changes anything.

Time is like that. Our minds rush ahead and we want to see the result. We want to control events and make the moves that are needed accordingly. I have no choice but to surrender. The seeds grow when they are ready and not before.

When I am impatient with people or events in my life I try and remember this.

April 18, 2020

Slow Time

By Maryanna Gabriel

"This is the slow time..."
-John O'Donohue

I have a path that is rife with buttercups. It sounds sweet but this plant has been invading for 25 years and spread itself throughout the garden. I keep madly weeding other flowers thinking they are the dreaded buttercup. In exasperation, the delphiniums are now in a separate pot to prevent me from hurling them vicariously into the wood beyond.

Today I went to work and weeded all of the buttercups. I don't believe I have ever seen the path clear. I am trying to grow creeping thyme amid the tiles. It seems a huge accomplishment mastering these few feet.

Time isn't really creeping but 25 years is rather a long wait on the garden To Do List.

April 17, 2020

Garden World

By Maryanna Gabriel

      A New York paramedic said this is a war with an invisible bullet. A world war where one cannot see the enemy. Some days after a writing session I wander into my garden. Another passion. When I am engaging with the land I get completely lost in what I am doing. Hours pass. Lately I have been thinking about seeds. There is something so hopeful about them. Planting seeds is like an antidote. It is saying that I can feed myself, that there is a future, and that I am the creator of my own world. It is a slow meditation that is out of beat with time. It takes me to the real news of there being much to be grateful for with the miraculous unfurling of leaves. Seeds need time to do what they do. As I stir the earth and plant, a deep calm takes up residence.

April 2, 2020

Finding Comfort

By Maryanna Gabriel

Remember the days when cookies meant a word that was nice and cosy? I have been making some really good ones. Then I take my cookie legs and walk. I notice something. People are waving. This never happens here. It is as though one human is saluting another with genuine joy. It is comforting. Last night I knew I was really trying to soothe myself after creating a curry during which I watched three movies consecutively. The new star wars movie is really good. This morning I am baking. I am trying to make home made Danish's. One has to keep one's spirits up. 

April 1, 2020

Not April Fool's

Post Office Closed
By Maryanna Gabriel

Well, it was no joke. Closed until April 6th. The post office was darkened. Was somebody sick? That's the conclusion. Anybody could have anything and think they had the virus. The fear among the workers last week, when I did my Easter mail, was visibly palpable. Trying to be calm in such an atmosphere was challenging. So I used Fedex.

They have just announced that there are to be no more trips on our ferries unless it is essential. Another shock. Of course, planes are not arriving in the harbour either.

The movement of goods being restricted is serious. Above and beyond all of the changes we are experiencing in communities everywhere, 
this is all serious. I am finding my own restriction at the moment, is limiting my time on the media, an act of extreme self care, for it is all so difficult to bear. It does not help, not to stay calm.

March 31, 2020

A Riot Of Daffodils

By Maryanna Gabriel

Well we can still go for walks. That hasn't been taken away. I walked to an older historic part of Salt Spring Island where there is a point of land and daffodils are riotously crowding. There is no structure on the point as it is now a park. I don't know the story of the old garden, but above  the point are apple trees. The setting is in a grove of Gary Oak which is very precious.

On the way I passed a building that is still standing that used to be a dairy. One day the roof will fall in and the park will take it down but at the moment it has a haunted feeling of yore. I stopped and took photos on such a beautiful spring day.

March 30, 2020

Silent Singing

Our Choirmaster
By Maryanna Gabriel

Hard times, hard times, come again no more. Many days you have lingered around my cabin door." - Stephen Foster

Last night I had the bizarre experience of being in a silent choir. Over a hundred of us joined one another on zoom as the choir master led us. We had our mic's muted. I watched a hundred faces mouth the words. In a way it was liberating. If I turned the video so that I could see them and they couldn't see me. I did the dishes, made tea, and then took the laptop into the bathroom where I had a bath with them all singing merrily away and me along with them. It was an unusual choir practice but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We sang a John Prine song as he is listed in critical condition from the virus and John Prine stories were shared. I hope he comes through. 

March 28, 2020

Trying To Be Normal

By Maryanna Gabriel

     There are times when one can almost forget. I love those moments. Then it starts to come back like a bad dream, much like grief. The unbelievable numbers that come pouring in are momentarily forgotten.

     Yesterday I decided that after twenty minutes of news, that was enough. I made a really beautiful pudding cake and I love it so much I am sharing it here. It has a
soft comforting texture and is good with yogurt or ice cream. The lemon is delicious. I decided to raid the garden and added a mixture of rhubarb and mango. Wow. Was that ever a good idea. 

Lemon Pudding Cake 

1 c flour
3/4 sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Rhubarb showing encouragingly in my garden.
1/4 tsp soda
2 eggs
1/4 c yogurt
3 tbsp light olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
1 c fruit (optional) finely chopped

Two bowls, one for dry ingredients, one for wet. Add the wet ingredients to the dry much like you are making muffins. Bake in a casserole dish, 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden. 

© All Rights Reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Maryanna Gabriel.

March 18, 2020

Big Island Covid Update

By Maryanna Gabriel 

With thanks to my friend Martha for this.
     Riding on the ferry from a serious grocery shop in the Cowichan Valley, and I am coming home without toilet paper. I checked three large grocery stores. None. Nada. Nix. I considered it a major score I found tissues.

      On the big island the entire poultry and beef sections were completely empty. The produce section had huge gaps. When someone sneezed near the flour I felt like running. It was then I realized how vulnerable I was.

     "Sneeze into your arm," I said. "You are scaring people." The man avoided my eye and walked away. Even if he had been covering his mouth, it wouldn't have made a difference if he was infected. It was one of those kind of sneezes.

     I made it to a landscaping center. The man on the cash was barking orders over the phone.

      "What are you closing?" I asked. I couldn't help but overhear.

      "I own a gas station up island. One of our employees has symptoms."

      "Oh," I said. Oh dear. I wanted to come home at that point. I decided to skip my favourite bakery. I had just purchased a huge bag of flour anyway. So what if their blackberry cinnamon buns are pillowy soft and to die for.

       Riding the ferry back to the island I am so glad to be returning to the property. I tune into Canadian radio. More border restrictions - am so proud of Canada. The cusp of grace that is this period in time is fast narrowing.

© All Rights Reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Maryanna Gabriel.

March 17, 2020

For The Love Of Touch

By Maryanna Gabriel

     They have cancelled the Saturday Market which is huge blow to the Salt Spring Island economy. As I watch the local grocer's being pillaged and a box of tissue does not seem to be available, I have been noticing what a loss it is, to not touch, or be touched.

     Sometimes there is a weighing of risk with an affectionate shoulder bump but as our lives may be depending on it, we are in a boot camp of new social norms. It has all happened so quickly.

     We are social creatures so it is a strange way to be living. 
It will make hugs more appreciated when the new day dawns and we get through this.

      Oh no. Did I just touch my face?

© All Rights Reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Maryanna Gabriel.

March 4, 2020

Where Black Birds Sing

By Maryanna Gabriel

There is a place I like to go. It is near the ocean. The red-winged blackbirds sing there, only in the early spring, in a cacophony of sound that fills the soul. I don't know why they
Red-winged Blackbird In Spring

like this particular spot but they do. I like to go there, and stand and listen. It makes me feel happy when I hear them.

Yesterday I tried to find hand sanitizer on the island. I went to every store, four that I could think of. We sold out earlier this week. Just gone.

It was a wake up call as to how close to home the worries about the virus actually are. Some of you know I am studying creative writing at Simon Fraser University. One of the students I share with lives in China. She has been writing about what it is like to be under quarantine, her sadness over what has happened in Wuhan, her worries about her son, and trying to keep her spirits up, as she has been unable to leave her apartment.

I think it is important to remember to keep things simple, to appreciate the little things that make life worth living, and to keep finding the gifts in every day. For me today, it is hearing the red-winged black birds sing.

© All Rights Reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Maryanna Gabriel.

February 13, 2020

Loving Yourself Like Your Depends Upon It

By Maryanna Gabriel
Anita Moorjani died of cancer, was told to come back to this world, that her work on this side was not done and that she had a mission to fulfill. I like to listen to her sometimes. It is something about going right to the edge, and into the dream that is beyond, that makes her a reliable witness. She didn't want to return to her emaciated body but the thought of her husband helped her to. She was told to share what she knew with others and so she has a message to tell. In developing cancer she was shown that in the life she had lived, she put others first. Her own needs were secondary. This was part of the problem.

She was told to love herself like her life depended on it.

I am listening.

It is Valentine's Day and it is easy to get caught up in the glass half empty scenario if one is single. I understood a long time ago though, that nothing is more lonely than being in a relationship where there is no authentic communication. I 
have learned to give to others what I yearned for myself and have become all the richer in love for it. I would rather have peace, than be in a sniper situation, where one-upmanship is considered marriage.

So this Valentine's, I am taking myself out on a date and enjoying the day. A lot of people can't be alone. Hope to see you out there, loving yourself like your life depends upon it. 

February 10, 2020

Disengaging From The Inner Critic

By Maryanna Gabriel . 

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
-William Wordsworth

The sun has returned. I always feel like I should do some kind of ritual of celebration. Signs of spring are starting to emerge and I feel as though I am crawling out from under a rock, blinking at the sight of light and the world around me.

I have been streaming along with a lot of words without a sense of trying to edit as if the editing process will disrupt the flow. Other writers I have been researching recommend that this flow process is so important to stay with. I know at some point I have to retrace my steps and find inconsistencies but for now it is important to disengage from the inner critic.

You know who I mean. The balcony of jeering voices that throw peanuts and say what are you doing this for? It means nothing. It is going nowhere. Shhh. I say. I'm busy. Go away.

It is occurring to me that the same could be held true for the rest of my life. We all have those people in it who have been unkind. Has it ever been constructive? Not really. What works like gas in the tank is being encouraged. A friend recently told me that she sees me as someone who "keeps poking holes through the air" meaning the voices telling me I can't do this, as the light grows warmer from one day to the next, and the pussy willows start to emerge.

February 6, 2020

Twenty Thousand Words

By Maryanna Gabriel

"You are never too old
to set a new goal
or dream a new dream."
- C.S. Lewis

I passed a huge goal post today. I am writing  about the Camino and they say the half way

mark of the first draft is the toughest. Well, I made it over the other side and I hope that I can keep the momentum up.

I am picking up a second Fiction course next week and that is really going to slow me but maybe it will help with progress in the long run. Published authors sometimes say to read other writers at the same time one is writing but I find this too confusing. I am worried it will throw me off my game and I will start writing like someone else and not like myself. Lots of time for reading later. I need to do what feels right for me.

It is keeping the inner voice in my head clear that is the trick. 

February 5, 2020


Camino arrow pointing the way.
By Maryanna Gabriel

Writing school is going really well. I am feeling supported by class mates.We take turns reading each others stories and then we go around with feedback. Ten people giving feedback on a piece of writing is a fair barometer.

If it is just one person commenting you can think well maybe that isn't true but when three people say the same thing it starts to hit home. It has been so encouraging. I am writing up a storm right now which is kind of funny because it has been stormy outside.

I am going into detail about the walk on the Camino in Spain. I keep having to stop to do other assignments and I think I am going to lose the thread but that isn't what is happening. Just as when I am reading when I am completely immersed, the writing is the same. It doesn't matter if I switch stories I am finding. The feeling of immersion is true no matter what I am doing. I can be involved for hours and not even know what time it is.

It must mean I am onto my dharma. It is a good feeling being connected to the right direction. 

February 3, 2020

Window Boxes

By Maryanna Gabriel

"No matter what,
it always comes down to,
what you choose to see."
-Jonna Jinton

This is a difficult time to be born in and live. Right? There is a lot going on in the world right now and my way of dealing with it is by making window boxes.

I have two that need replacing and for some reason there seems to be a short supply out there. Hard to locate wooden window boxes that don't cost a song. I decided to make some. It seemed like a cheerful thing to do.

I approach carpentry like I do a painting. It is a bold and brave act. Just cutting the wood alone sends chills up my spine. I have a second hand saw that puffs blue smoke and only cuts on a certain angle because it is frozen in one position. When I make the cuts I always wonder if it is my last moment on earth as it roars and screeches. The only way I can shut it off is by unplugging it. I know. It's ridiculous.

I think I made the boxes upside down but it's okay. It will do the trick, probably not a lasting job for a lifetime but at least the boxes will work for the short term. The hearts really make it, I thought. With an Impatiens plant in it you won't even notice. 

January 17, 2020

Listening To The Positive Voice

By Maryanna Gabriel

Hard to hear the positive, much easier to hear the negative. Have you ever noticed? Why

do we do this I wonder? I suppose one does not want to be a full blown narcissist but at the same time, which voice is the true one?

I have been researching the work on resilience and the qualities resilient people focus on. Those that focus on the positive voice and what they are grateful for each day, tend to happier and less prone to depression. Makes sense, I suppose.

As a writing student, we do workshops frequently, and it is always interesting to me how one person can really like something and the next person finds fault with it. So which voice do we listen to?  So the point of all of this, I am thinking, is listening to ourselves, finding our inner voice, and detecting what rings true and what does not. It is a bit of a trick. I have always found encouragement so much more inspiring.

Today for example, I can focus on the miserable cold, or I can focus on the blossoms of spring that are emerging by the front door. I can focus on kindness, or I can focus on unkindness. I can hear what people say as a reflection of who they are, and not necessarily a true reflection of me. I can focus on what I know to be true deep in my heart, and believe in that. In this way I nurture the quality of resilience. Spring is coming. 

January 15, 2020

Bummer Of A Plumber

By Maryanna Gabriel

Snow is everywhere and along with it, the quiet. Nobody is daring to move. There is a sense of relaxation that comes with letting go of having "to do" things.

Housekeeping is out because the kitchen sink is plugged. As it began to snow, I called in a plumber as I could see the pipe beneath had buckled. Water was everywhere. He replaced the pipe, making three trips to stores because he lacked parts (huh?), disappeared for an hour and a half (breakfast out?), and returned with a bill for $449 for roughly two hours work. 

"But the sink isn't draining," I said. He shrugged.

"I've left you this bottle of Drain Max Gel," he said. "I probably won't be able to get here tomorrow. Are you healthy?"


"Well, this isn't an emergency, is it?" His face contorted as he stared at me. "My wife is very sick. You have your health."

"I'm sorry," I said taking a step back. Interesting customer technique.

The sink of course, hasn't drained. I knew it wouldn't. I am washing dishes in the bathroom. I suppose there are worse things than being charged for something that isn't fixed and being told it is nothing compared to someone else's problems.

I won't be calling him again. Ever. When I call another plumber he can discount the theory that the drain is frozen when I call next week. 
In the meantime, as I sit out the snow storm, I have my health. 

January 11, 2020

Cup Hooks

By Maryanna Gabriel

Living on an island has it’s challenges and today it was finding cup hooks for a project I am working on. The two stores here did not have the right size. Snow is coming anyways. Time for a supply run. So, based on cup hooks alone, I caught the ferry to the “Big Island”.

     Last year at this time, I was travelling early in the black of morning in a gusting wind. The man beside me opened his car door. The wind caught it so hard, his door slammed into my passenger side, creating a dint. This unfortunately involved an insurance claim.

     Once I was on the ferry and half way across, my blood ran cold. I had forgotten my purse. There was no way around it. A crew member asked the captain if I could stay on board and return to get it. The captain allowed it. I raced home and found it waiting for me by the front door, right where I had left it, then roared back to the terminal. The whole process took about four hours. These things aren’t easy.

     My technique for shopping is simple. Go before anybody in their right mind wants to get up, then get out fast. I was standing in front of some oranges on sale, when I noticed a favourite hand knitted glove was missing. I paced the cheese section where I had just been. No glove. I asked at the lost and found. No glove. I returned to the deli section and asked there. No glove. I was mystified. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

       There it was, perched delicately on my decolletage, lodged within the folds of my scarf. Sigh. These five in the morning starts are not my best times.

     By the third store, I found the size of cup hooks I needed. I was home by noon. Let it snow. 

January 1, 2020

Being Here Now

By Maryanna Gabriel

"Start over, my darling,
Be brave enough to find the life you want,
and courage enough to chase it,
....the way you were always meant to be.
-Madalyn Beck 

Ram Dass has just died. He impacted many of us.

"If you think you are enlightened, try spending a week with your family" ...o
ne of the many things Ram Dass said. Ha, ha. I hope that everybody has emerged intact from the time of lights and celebration. Here we are in 2020 and I am trying to "Be here now." Letting go of the past is healthy, however, parts of me return to it over and over. Maybe that means I am not very enlightened. 

I remember when I was handed a copy of the essay, "Be Here Now." It was in high school. It was presented as a reaction to the fifties, where the generation we sprang from were working towards retirement. Those were such innocent times and we were so sure of ourselves that we would create a better future. Information was private, there seemed to be a sense of predictability and abundance. We were full of ideals.

I find myself still hanging onto these ideals with as much strength as I can

muster, amid a swirling confusion of outer world events, trying to trust that there are reasons for what is unfolding, puzzled that the era I grew up in, did not bid farewell to what is resurfacing, selfishness, indulgence, and hatred. It seems a theme that is replayed over and over within families and in the world without.

The year 2020 has a nice ring to it. One can only be in charge of one's self, and not the behaviour others, after all.  I pull in calm and peace. The sky is blue today and without hope, there is no heaven. Here we are, being, in the now. 
Happy New Year! And so it is.