The other day as I was walking I saw a red-tailed hawk fly over me soaring high with his graceful movements. Typically red-tailed hawks are uncommon in this area until summertime so I felt particularly blessed. More common are the Swainson's hawk, which are just as beautiful. I began to think of the animals, birds in particular, that I connect with - the hawk instead of the eagle, the crow instead of the raven. Is there a reason I connect to the smaller 'cousins'? I believe it is because I am physically smaller, barely reaching 5 foot 2, and because I prefer a smaller life. I love my small home, my small town, my small studio, and my small family (a supportive and beautiful husband and two beautiful girls), and prefer to stay in my area - a perfect vacation for me is a weekend in mountains at Banff, an hour away. I prefer to spend my time alone, painting, writing and reading, though I do enjoy an occasional visit with a creative friend or two. And yet, my work tends to be larger - my favorite size to work is 4 feet x 5 feet and I would love to work larger if I had the facilities. Before SouLodge I began to listen to my heart more and the questions that Pixie has given to us during this time has confirmed thewhispers of the voice inside me even more. Why has this taken 45 years? I know that I don't want to feel any more obligations, no more commitment because I feel I 'should', and no more guilt and excuses, either, for being who I am and for needing what I need. I know I want to be kind but that I sometimes am not - particularly when I am not listening to those inner stirrings, the heart-knowing, my metier, my calling. I am glad to be included with a wonderful community of women in the spring session of SouLodge - glad to hear that I'm not the only one making some big and conscious decisions to change, to accept and love myself the way I am. I'm glad, also, that the work which I've been doing the past two years is really connecting with others - because it is definitely connecting with my soul. I'm glad that I have an autumn exhibit to work towards - this work reaffirms everything in my heart. I am that girl who spent hours walking through the boreal forest and along the cool blue lakes of northern Manitoba, and then more hours reading and drawing and writing in my quiet bedroom at the end of the hall. I'm still here.