Tag Archives: light

This Is Octavia


Recently I watched a Ted Talk given by Anne Lamott, a writer from British Columbia, Canada. Her presentation focused on the 12 truths she learned from life and writing. Compiling a list of things she “knew for sure” just prior to her 61st birthday, Anne describes self-care as a top priority in life, much to the dismay of naysayers who believe this behavior is selfish and narcissistic. For many women, self-care can be a difficult feat. For Anne, writing, singing and community work are the truths we express, our truths. Pieces of ourselves. The truths we bring to the world. I must say, I wholeheartedly agree.

Octavia is a group of women who love to sing.  A group I am happy to say, I am a part of.  We express though song, vibrations resonating in our souls. We bring heartfelt feeling to the works of Leonard Cohen in Anthem, Emily Lund in Dona Nobis Pacem and Gordon Lightfoot in Song for a Winter’s Night. We simply join together for a common purpose. Some are musicians and play the violin, piano, guitar or drums. A few are able to read music and others sing by ear. We are sopranos, altos and tenors. Our voices struggle to hit the high notes and the low notes. We reach consensus somewhere in between thanks to our conductor who swings her hips in the most graceful way as she leads us with gentle persuasion through each song. Four have battled or are currently seeking treatment for cancer. Others have suffered great losses and grieved. Some live with Alzheimer’s, disabilities or limitations. Everyone laughs. Everyone cries. We all sing with great joy because to sing is to release from the heart and soul sounds reminiscent of our home with the angels. The familiar language of peace and harmony we so long for in our relationships with others. Singing is common among all people’s. A beautiful language understood by everyone of all ages. Singing evokes emotions we tuck away in our heart space, a heart that breaks open with the gift of music. We are not striving for perfection. Rather, we seek harmonization. To achieve harmony is no small feat. Just ask anyone involved in conflict or strife. But, it is possible through song. Perhaps, we all just need to sing instead of using our words to resolve conflict. For in song, conflict ceases to exist.

This video is Octavia performing at our end of the year community concert. The song is Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”. The following quote by Leonard on suffering and grief is taken from a 1992 interview published in One on One: The Imprint by Barbara Gowdy.

“The light [in the lines ‘There is a crack in everything’, /That’s how the light gets in’ from Anthem] is the capacity to reconcile your experience, your sorrow with everyday that dawns. It is that understanding, which is beyond significance or meaning, that allows you to live life and embrace the disasters and sorrows and joys that are our common lot. But it’s only with the recognition that there is a crack in everything. I think all other visions are doomed to irretrievable gloom. And whenever anyone else asks us to accept a perfect solution, that should immediately alert us to the flaws in that presentation.” – Leonard Cohen.

When Octavia was asked the question, “What song would you like to sing for this blog,’ the answer was unanimous. Anthem! This is our truth expressed through song. The truth that we are all women with cracks. But then again, that is how our light gets in. This is Octavia.


Special thanks to Vanessa for videotaping Octavia.





Candlelight begins with a spark. It is the chemical ignition of energy produced by mixing fuel and oxygen resulting in heat and flame. This flame represents our source of creation and our inner light. Our soul. Candlelight is an important part of our rituals in all cultures and festivals around the world. Light is the symbol for Christmas, the light of life at Easter. The Festival of Lights in India kindles the light of wisdom in every heart. The Festival of Lights in Thailand, with floating candles on rivers, is thought to bring good luck and fulfilled wishes. In Japan, floating lights guide spirits back to their world. The Jewish Festival of Lights is represented by the Menorah. In every culture light triumphs over darkness, miracles and hope. In every culture lighting candles is a time of healing, reflection, contemplation and meditation. Candlelight graces our dinner tables and homes where our senses become enlivened by essential oils lit in jars. Candlelight is the spark, of a new idea, an old tradition, of love, the conception of new life. The spark of light is the beginning.

Candlelight requires energy to keep the fire burning. The constant use of oxygen and fuel to produce in this case, heat and light. As long as energy is available, the candle will burn. There must be an energy source accessible in order to produce energy. The balance of give and take. We consume energy every day, the energy produced by the sun, the food we eat and drink, the energy of our thoughts and thinking.  Our surroundings and the people within it. Meditation. We also give out energy. This is done through our actions, the words we speak, the work we do, our creative endeavors, walking, jogging, dancing and skiing. Yoga. Laughing and crying, emotions. Breathing and breath. A burning candle represents our life and the living we do. Each one of us the light of life. The light that illumines not only us but, when combined with all others can produce the energy of the sun. Without the sun we would not exist. Without our own light we too would cease to be.

Our spark was the beginning. It ignited and produced energy and light fueled by the energy of our Divine source. Throughout our lifetime we strive to keep our light burning bright. Sometimes people try to dim our light. Or they carry your candle illuminating their own lives. Or they rob you of energy and oxygen keeping your light dim afraid of your light, that it will outshine their own. Sometimes we deny our own energy keeping our light dim out of fear. And then there are those who run in the wind with their own candle not afraid it will be blown out. The have let go of fear and opinion and instead trust in their soul and their God, the inner knowing that only when their purpose has been fulfilled will their light cease to shine on this earth.

When your candle has burned down and your life energy wains, your light will not longer illumine this earth. Rather, it will rejoin the light of the Universe. As your candle dims and your body breath becomes shallow, oxygen scarce, know this. Contained within the smoke rising toward the heavens is the same spark that ignited your life. The chemistry changed from light to ashes but, the essence of the candle and its light is never lost. Who’s energy do you think is fueling the light of the stars, our Universe and the angels who whisper to you in the night. Life begins with a single spark. Illuminate the world with your beautiful light. Run in the wind.