Alone, together, in Grace.

When the kind of help you need changes, so too does the way you have to ask for it. Grace is what helps you through this period. The awkwardness, the uncertainty.IMG_5800 Of saying (and typing) things that feel wrong, but are really the truest things you’ve ever said; of not knowing how else or what else to say or do, just yet. It’s a painful process. Lonely, isolating. Without Grace, no one would make it through.

Grace is having neighbours, who behave neighbourly. Building community is second nature to them. Grace is taking all those things you learned about how to connect to people when you were growing up, and using them to connect to the person on the other end of the phone, at work. Grace is that voice saying, you are not alone. Grace is what keeps you going when you can’t seem to do or say anything right. Grace is a butterfly come to visit you, twice. Grace is having an art practice you started 6 years ago, that can serve you now. An art practice that taught you to rip things up, only to piece them back together again, because that is true process. Grace is seeing something come of it.

Grace is what keeps you going when you didn’t get the job, when that person doesn’t want to hear from you, and this person won’t look you in the eye…and then, again, it’s a neighbour who comes outside, acknowledges the hard things, and invites you over for tea. Grace is people showing up. Grace is flashes of beauty. It feels like a gift.


Getting out of bed is an act of faith and courage for me each day. Interacting with life, in any capacity, is a fucking roller coaster ride when you’re this raw. Grace is what gets me out of bed. Grace is the courage to forgive myself. Grace is turning fear into curiosity.

Expansion is necessary. The bubble I was living in has burst. I see now that the bubble was an illusion all along. The big wide world isn’t going anywhere (and neither am I, at least not just yet), and so I will have to learn. New words. New questions. New boundaries. New ways of dreaming of what it is I newly desire. All the while, I will learn how to stay in this body I’ve been given, because dissociation no longer serves me for the work ahead.

img_6031.jpgAnd now, a note to the men entering my life (for it was a man that inflicted the trauma I am working my way through). Men, it’s not your ego, or your bravado that I am interested in. I want to know, Are you boundaried? Are you generous? Are you listening? What are you willing to add to the conversation? Can you laugh with others? I want to know what healing looks like in your life, because we all have scars. I don’t want to feel that I owe you anything. I don’t owe you my body. I don’t owe you my attention or my time. I don’t take myself for granted, I am not here to be used by you. This time is for me to figure out me. This process of reclamation has been called for, and I called for it. I listen for that which calls to me, ‘here, come here, move this way’. Being an attractive human being, means I get to decide what I attract, and this time I choose men with qualities unlike those I have attracted in the past. I choose otherwise.

IMG_6013The lines of my life don’t go out like a road, they continue on like those on the page. I walk along a line until it ends, until I must hop down to the one beginning below. Each line is a fresh start, and new beginning, not a descent. It’s not where I’m going, but rather, it’s what I will have created at the end. What will fill those lines? What words? What drawings? What feelings? What ideas? What actions? How did anything get accomplished? Show your process. And remember, rough drafts are messy. Your syntax and message will need editing. But keep trying, with each new sentence. Over and over again. Grace will keep showing up for you.

I’ve written, and will post this blog post today, but tomorrow, I may have something new to add. I give myself permission to change my mind, to open up somewhere new on the page. This blog post is a picture of the woman I am today, imperfect and proud, courageous and vulnerable. The actual pictures I posted are of the art work I produced these last few months, as the journey continues, as my world falls apart.

There is strength to be found here, alone, together, in Grace.



Power, in letters.


This Saturday at The Shoebox (a space for you to write in community), we will be writing Syrian families that are new to the city of London, Ontario; having arrived here as refugees (definition).

In an attempt to write what I endeavour to accomplish with Lefty Smudges (& The Shoebox), and then to define this letter writing session in those terms, this is what I have come up with.


The Shoebox @ 207 King St. London, Ontario, Canada

Purpose of Lefty Smudges:

The Acknowledgement of Others;

Through any medium or means, communication is passed between intended parties.

The result is the connection of all parties involved, to each other, and back to themselves.

Purpose of The Shoebox (Sat. Jan. 16):

The acknowledgment of newly arrived Syrian families, in the city of London.

Hand written letters will be packaged together, and mailed to Cross Cultural Learner Centre (who they are, what they do).

The communal act of writing and mailing these letters will serve to enhance the feelings of community within both writers, and recipients.


Each week, the names and addresses of those we write will change – will we focus on different groups in society/our lives, involving ourselves in social justice, the magic of relationship, and current issues – the intention, however, will remain the same.



Now, I wish to quote an email I received, from a recipient of the last letter writing campaign, in which letters were written and mailed to humanitarian aid organizations helping Syrian refugees. This email was from a member of M.O.A.S. (who they are, what they do).

To the citizens of London Ontario who made our day!

…I am delighted to say that we recently received your package of beautiful messages of support and encouragement. I cannot tell you how much it meant to us…[I]n the current climate our work can be loved and hated and receiving messages like yours, of sympathy and humanitarian feeling, is incredibly motivating to our team in the office and especially those on board, with whom we have shared your wonderful gift and who were deeply touched..

Please extend my sincere and most heartfelt thanks to all those who participated and please know how valued your correspondence was to us here.

Yours in gratitude and solidarity.


Lefty Smudges is a revolution.

Join me.


Something Good to Share with You.




I have an update about the letters that were sent out as part of my gratitude project ‘someone to be thankful for’ ! This past Saturday I received an email from Catrin Thomas, of International Medical Corps UK.

I will let the email speak for itself, but for my part I wish to thank again each and every person involved with this project… Correspondence is sometimes a quiet force, but a powerful one none the less, and I believe that our letters have had a deep and far reaching impact, though this may be our only word of it.
In this regard, we are the small group of people Margaret Mead speaks of…(and so are those to whom we wrote).

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that has. – Margaret Mead

Dear Allyson and co-writers at Lefty Smudges,

I have a worked in the charity sector for almost ten years, and I write letters of thanks to our vital supporters every day whose donations make it possible for us to help those in crisis and emergency situations – including refugees who are fleeing civil war.

This is the very first time that I’ve received a letter of thanks for the work I do – it is a wonderful gesture and made me and my fundraising team very happy!

I have placed your letters on our noticeboard in our kitchen area where it will be visible to all our staff when they make teas and coffees. I’m sure it will make them feel warm and fuzzy inside, knowing people like you, across the ocean, recognize the value of what International Medical Corps UK does.

From all of us here- thank you for your gratitude and support-  It means a lot.

Catrin Thomas

Supporter Relationship Officer (Fundraising) 

International Medical Corps UK


The pen is mightier than the sword  – Proverb

You are my joy!
Happy Monday.