Category Archives: Thoughts

Being Present


Written for Prompt: Attention


For the first 20 years of my life, I lived with my parents and married three weeks following my 20th birthday. It was a freedom for me to leave my parents home with my new husband. In my parents’ home the less I spoke and kept to myself, that was their preference. The times were hard for them. Dad was in the Marines, this was 1943, Mom gave birth to a girl, me.  They never taught me how to do anything. They avoided me, mostly criticized me.  I had a good Guarding Angel on my shoulder; I did prosper on my own. By the age of 23, I had two beautiful children of my own. My parents’ pattern of behaviour crept in as my own. It was what I remembered about taking care of children. Luckily, I had a husband who had been cared for with tenderness and belonging. He taught me, “by his attitude and behaviour”, how to love and enjoy my two darling toddlers. It was then that I made a promise to myself: “to never treat my children as it had been done to me”. Today my own children say to me that I was the best mother in the world. Their friends loved to come over to our house for meals and sleepovers because it was fun at “our” place. My daughter tells me: “I don’t know how you did it Mom; you always had supper on the table for us, every night, night after night”. Both my children often reminisce on all the good times they had in their childhood, praising us as parents.
Today my daughter has a remarkable relationship with her own child. It warms my heart to feel the love they both have for each other.

A Cinquain poem
Being Present

Swiftly vanish
Requisite attention
Soft-hearted communication

Hélène Vaillant©




The heart-shaped leaf…do you have a message?

(If you have a story-message and you would like to share it, please do add it in the comment section of this post)

A bit of background on the photo of the Heart shaped leaf – I have posted it in (Haiku – Delicate) and What do you See? (Sept/4/2018) .

One day, late Fall 2017, I entered the building’s parking garage where I live. My parking spot is nowhere near the entrance. I need to turn a few corners and go down another aisle to reach it.

On this particular day upon closing the car door my keys slipped out of my hand landing on the floor.  Bending down to retrieve them there was this heart-shaped leaf staring right at me. Nothing else was on the floor but this one precious leaf alongside my car keys.


I felt instant love for it, its delicate composition and intricate lace design, a masterpiece in its essence.  For fear of it crumbling in my hand, I hesitated to pick it up. Then I told myself to at least try it.

Ever so gently, using the pads of two fingers I lifted the leaf placing it in the palm of my other hand. To my surprise, it remained whole.

When I first touched the leaf I felt the presence of my dear departed father.  I smiled sensing him there with his loving message in the form of this beautiful leaf.  I hurried up to my apartment and immediately inserted the leaf between the pages of my daily book of meditations.

It was a glorious message of love my father had sent me, represented in the characteristics and composition of this heart-shaped leaf.  It looks delicate, fragile, fading, alone, yet it felt vibrant, it stayed whole, it was heart loving, it had gone through nature’s ups and downs, yet its spirit continued to be ever so present.

I am one of these people that keep having loving experiences with my departed family members. Sounds odd to some, but very much a frequent reality for me.

Hélène Vaillant©

(If you have a story-message and you would like to share it, please do add it in the comment section of this post)

Risking it All – Life’s Lessons

I am 75 years old and life is not a bowl of cherries. Now that I got that out of the way I will tell you something else.

Life has given me challenges. Hoopla.

Because of my lack of attention and awareness of this continual process, it keeps coming back without pre-warning me that something big is about to happen.  The bomb drops, kerplunk, exploding with fanfare, and then leaving me to deal with the mess.  A reward, which I like to call a Blessing, usually waits for me at the other end.  It’s always there; ready to embrace me when I arrive.  Arriving at what, where?  I think: ‘that this has got to finally be, it has to be’, the finish line.  Ah, the great illusion!

By the time I was 23, lying still on my death bed, due to a car accident and a fractured neck, I fooled them all, walked again, gave birth to two children, became a registered Yoga Teacher/Holistic Health Counselor/Educator, practicing and living what I taught.  For 20 years my life was blessed by amazing people who trusted me, through teaching, counseling, and volunteering.  The professions in which I had been certified and registered opened a door for me, helping me open my heart to strangers and anyone who came my way for assistance.  Being there for those in need was a treasured gift given to me.   Blessings come to us in different ways, forms and disguise. This was a high time in my spiritual life.

Moving forward…Another bomb dropped a blessing in disguise, one that left me alone on my knees for 2 years.  (Question to myself: why does it have to be disguised? why can’t it be understood just as it is when it comes?) Diagnosed with ovarian cancer, poisoned with chemotherapy for a whole year, chemo was literally killing me; I had lost all hope to live.  After all the good habits and lifestyle I had adopted through the years, to have this happening, I felt total abandonment.  Life had given up on me, God had left me alone, and I had no more purpose.

Chemo permanently damaged my heart and my bowel. I swore like a lumberjack before accepting this. I had to leave behind all of my teaching, private clients, my business, all of which was a big part of my life. Doctors had given me one month to live without chemo, three to six months with chemo. Even though all cancer could not be removed with surgery, there was hope that chemo would fry the rest. By this time, my body was tired, my heart was exhausted, and my spirit was fading into darkness.

Within 2 years I climbed back up from the bottom of my dungeon.  I began the search for myself.  Coming slowly from the depths of despair, it was a slow ascent to reach the Light.

Fast forward into my 70’s… I was then taking care of my husband with dementia.   After three years of sleepless nights and around the clock caregiving, my health was going down the pipes.   Despite all my efforts to keep him at home, I had to let him go into a nursing home.  The grief of such a separation I still feel to this day. My heart continues to heal through sadness. There’s a rejuvenating energy that returns after you have been zapped to hell and back.  Today I know that all pain and life’s challenges have a purpose.

Being in touch with a higher command, communion with Spirit, feeling the Presence coursing through my life, my veins, my deepest core, it is the reward that comes to soothe all pain.  It comes with a promise that all is as it is.

Life’s lessons are forever there. They whisper ever so gently.

I know too well that my Human Spirit, needed mending with my everlasting Inner Spirit, this quest continues.

My life is rich, I am grateful for everything that made me stop, pay attention, letting me know I am being taken care of…’cept I don’t always know it at the time.

Hélène Vaillant©


Thoughts for Today

For most of my life, I never wrote in a journal, too fearful of anyone reading my thoughts. These days I live alone, writing with abandon.  Oops, are you going to read this…?

In 7th grade of primary school, I had a teacher called “Soeur Saint Basile”.  We used to call her “Bazou” in French, (in this instance it translates into jalopy in English.  Picture this in 1954, I am 11 years old.  By then nature had already bestowed womanhood upon me.

This was a Catholic School for girls, nuns dressed in black habits, though they all had a head and two hands that extended from their garments.

One day a bunch of boys climbed up on the roof of the garages overlooking our classroom.  Being a little woman of 11 years old, I got very excited about seeing boys.  I had no idea who they were but I was determined to show off so they would see me;  and, I did just that.  For each question Bazou asked the class I would spring up, waving my hand like crazy, at the ready to answer.  Bazou never once looked my way.

After the class, Bazou leads me to the Principal’s office.  Both nuns began to call me derogatory names.  No matter how many times I told them I did not know these boys, they insisted that I did; there could be no other reason why the boys were there. The Principal had already called my mother to tell her to come and get me at school.   I was being expelled from school on the spot.

My parents sent me to the convent.  Here I attend daily classes with the nuns, going back home at the end of each day.  The Nuns wear similar habits; I sit quietly in my seat, reluctant to answer questions.

In my 11th grade of high school, still, at the convent, we are often led to the Chapel for one ritual or another.  This one time it was confessions.  By then I had a steady boyfriend.  I went into the confessional to confess my little venial sins.  The attending priest refused to give me absolution unless I promise to never see my boyfriend again.  What did I do?

I never went back to confession, continued seeing my boyfriend, always afraid the priest had talked to the nuns about me and my little necking sessions (which consisted only with French kisses).

Going forward, during my career as Holistic Health Educator/Counselor, I taught Yoga classes to different groups in the community.  One day I got a call asking for a certified teacher to give a class in a Community Centre.

To my surprise, the Community Centre ended being my old primary school.  Remember 7th grade?   The school was now used as a Community Centre.  The outside and inside of the school were exactly the same as when I was there in 7th grade with sister Bazou.  The Director of the Centre gave me a room number where my class was to be held.  It was my 7th-grade classroom.



Wounded now Healed


quote. what do you see

My childhood was a big failure according to my parents.  Repeatedly, they told me so, no matter what I said, did or didn’t do, the disapproval came.  In my 7th year if I did not communicate with them, neither did they. So it was that I never told them anything about me from then on. They had already scarred my little spirit believing I was a failure.  It was hard growing up as a stump in the middle of this big world.

Going forward to my early adult years, hopeless belief continued to darken my days. How it came about that I stepped over that miserable threshold and became who I am, perfect just as I am, that’s not totally clear to me.  One day, it did happen.  I consciously watched with its birth with amazement.  Another force than my own was leading me, engaging me in artistic creations, writing, painting, teaching.  This creative force had taken control.  I loved it, marveled at these creations coming through me.

I started to understand that within me, in the core of my being, a little child had waited long for self-expression as it was intended.  The child was coming out, full of light and treasures in hand, with strong spirit and soul.  It was the ladder to self-expression, just as it is, non-judgmental, perfect in its whole.

There are days still when I will destroy a perfect watercolour because I see a tiny flaw in my painting.  I hear my departed mother pointing it out, “my big failure is her message”.  Today my mother’s voice is mine… I think, it sits silently observing in awe not comparing but accepting that all is as it is, just right as it is.  Not being perfect is freedom.  Being just as it is, what a release.

Flaws and all, that’s what it is all about.  I think of beautiful lotus flowers blooming through the muddy waters, yes, all is as it is.

Hélène Vaillant©


My Shadow


My Shadow

The earth sings
Yet I cannot hear

With heavy heart
Dark clouds engulf me
Alone in the dark,
I wait
Drowning in sorrow
Self pity, abandonment,
Unexpected changes

Two cement feet
To lead me on

Clouds hang low
Closing in around me
Obscuring my view

With my shadow
Its face
Mirroring pain
With oceans of tears

Shadow sits there
Staring at me

Wanting to escape
I start crawling up
The slippery ground
Streams of tears
Gurgle in my path
Sliding and slipping
This, a formidable climb

Clouds disperse
Showing the edge
Over the top I leap

My shadow has followed me
Exhausted, I surrender

Hélène ©willowpoetry

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