Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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It’s Gonna Be A Bright, Bright Sunny Day

I am off today for a sojourn by the sea.

My lovely friend Wendy C. and I are driving out to the coast together. First, we’ll be stopping in the Shuswap to visit a former co-worker and his wife and to do some wine tasting. And then, I’ll be spending a couple of weeks with my daughter, son-in-love and… the light of my heart, my grandson.

Yes. Yes. I know. Others bring light and lightness to my heart, but nobody does it like my grandson. He’s special.

I didn’t realize, before I became his YiaYa, how incredible a gift it was to become a grandparent.

But then, I do not know what I do not know until I discover it.

Becoming a grandmother was like that. I thought it would be lovely. I thought it would be special.

How special, I had no idea.

And now I do. And now, I get to spend a couple of weeks with him sharing our own special time as my daughter has just begun a new job. How amazing is that? I get to spend time with Thurlow and be of service to my daughter and son-in-love helping them out as they figure out their childcare and get into the swing of being two working parents with a young child.

What it also means is that my time here will be sporadic over the next few weeks. I have no timetable to follow, other than I need to be back home by July 17. C.C. is his normal easy-going self, not asking for a return date, just smiling and nodding his head at my desire to have an unscheduled plan.

It is refreshing. This going with no plan.

Yesterday, as I was organizing my clothes, I took the time to wash a couple of tops by hand. I have not had open-spaced time to wash things by hand in a long, long time. It was relaxing. Enjoyable even.

Over the past week, Beaumont and I have had early morning walks along the river, I’ve had a couple of afternoon naps, I’ve even spent a bit of time in the studio — and I’m hoping when I’m back to be spending more time there. Right now, we have a carpenter here building a door to the studio and doing some work on C.C.s’ den — so being in the studio has not been all that easy, nor peaceful.

And that’s been okay. I’ve savoured my adventures, my time to simply decompress.

Last night, as C.C. and I sat on the deck (I skunked him at Crib btw! 🙂 ) I told him how I don’t miss work. The stress. The sense of always being on alert about what might happen next which seemed to pervade my being. The responsibility.

I miss the people but not the work.

For a long time my friend, Kerry Parsons, who is the founder of The Academy for Rising Women, suggested I disconnect from the pain body as it was draining me, not fulfilling me. Don’t tell her I said so, but… I think she was right!

I loved the work I did, but after almost 14 years in the sector, the constant exposure to the losses and trauma of poverty and homelessness had permeated my being, seeping into my essence, clouding my senses like smoke from a wildfire.

What I am realizing is that while I felt joy, my joy was tempered with the constant realization of the lack that exists in our world, and my sense of needing to ‘fix it all’.

No one person can ‘fix it all’. Together we can make a difference. That difference needs to be predicated on an awareness that becoming so enmeshed in the cause we forget to look up, see the sunshine and savour the warmth and light it brings, is not healthy for anyone!

Today, I feel like Johnny Nash singing his 70’s hit, “I Can See Clearly Now”.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.
I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.
Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

Songwriters: Kenneth Gamble / Leon Huff
I Can See Clearly Now lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

I don’t know what I don’t know until I discover something new, different, another way of being, another perspective.

I thought I was doing okay. And on so many levels, I was. What I didn’t know was that my okay was not the better I seek to create in the world because I was allowing my doing to get the better of me.

I can see clearly now. Doing the ‘hard work’ at the frontlines of poverty and homelessness is important and vital in this world. It’s also important and vital that those who do the work, take time out to give themselves the space and freedom to see clearly that ‘the work’ is not the only thing there is to be done to create better in this world.

Namaste

See you when I see you! ❤


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To ‘Know Thyself’ is not an excuse to act out

I spent the weekend coaching at Givers 1 (G1), the first of two weekend processes that complete the  Choices Seminar program.

One of the core elements of G1 is the Sunday Colours activity where trainees go through the process of discerning their core personality/social drivers based on the four colours:  Blue. Gold. Orange. Green.

Years ago, when I first took the Colours test, I came out high green (intuitive, visionary, analytical) with equal Blue (empathetic, compassionate, cooperative) and Orange (energetic, spontaneous, charming) a few points back. My Gold attributes (punctual, organized, precise) were the lowest.

Fact is, as I became more comfortable living from my heart, and embraced vulnerability as the path to peace and joy in my life, my top three colours shifted to the point where they are pretty well equal.

And that’s the opportunity and the challenge.

I can use each colour to complement everything I do in my life, creating more harmony and joy, or, I can choose to let my colours drive me into chaos, flipping from thoughtfulness to erratic, thoughtless behaviour, constantly changing my mind, stepping on people’s feelings and creating disharmony where no one around me feels safe.

I don’t want to do that in my world.

I want to create more peace, harmony, joy. I want to be a safe haven. I want those around me to feel welcomed and embraced by love and grace.

Decades ago, the Greek philosopher, Plato, extolled the virtue and necessity to ‘know thyself’. That maxim still holds true today. When we know ourselves, we open ourselves up to creating the relationships we want to have in the kind of world we want to live in.

The danger is that sometimes, we use the knowledge gained from self-awareness as an excuse for why being the way we are is an excuse for us not to change the things we do that create more distress than harmony in our world. Our excuses for being the way we are do not move us closer to our vision of what we want to create in the world. They put up barriers, destroy intimacy and build walls.

For example, my critter would love to have me believe that when my beloved says, “I don’t have a clue where you’re coming from”, (a natural response on his part when I am taking 101 different sides of an argument looking for the flaws in each perspective simply because I think it’s fun to argue) that what he’s actually saying is, “What is wrong with you?”.

When I can step out of my position of, “It’s just the way I am” (because my colours say I am this way or some other test says I am) and move to being curious about what I am doing to contribute to his confusion and discomfort, my personality strengths/attributes become my ally. Knowing my ‘Colours’ helps me to understand my natural affinity for certain social responses so that I can align my natural responses with my vision of what I want to create in my world and relationships.

Knowing myself, and knowing how I am in the world is not a license to act out, to be unkind, thoughtless, rude, arrogant, stubborn, difficult.

Knowing myself is the invitation to be curious about how I respond in every situation and what I can do with my self-awareness to ensure my responses, actions, presence create the more of what I want in my life and all my relationships.

Namaste.


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What if…?

She never imagined she could fly, until one day she dared to believe… in herself.

Where once I was counting down the weeks until my ‘last day’, I am now counting off the weeks of my ‘new way’.

Week 1. Done.  Check. Next.

It makes me smile, (satirically) at myself.

(I do find myself quite amusing sometimes, in a not so funny but oh so human way!)

I am always looking for ‘the next thing’ because being present in this moment, without anticipation of what the next will bring, can be challenging.

I want to know. To have clarity. Certainty.

Life, especially as an artist, is not about certainty and clarity. It is about doubt and uncertainty – and being okay with it.

Staring at a blank page or canvas is intimidating. Frightening.

What if’s abound.

What if…. I have nothing to write about? What if it’s no good? What if I look stupid? What if nothing comes out when I begin to type? What if my pen runs dry?

What if…. the ideas don’t flow?  What if the canvas is a mess? What if I have no talent? What if I can’t paint and am just fooling myself?

What if…. nobody likes what I create? Nobody reads my words. Nobody cares?

Ultimately, I have to care.

About me. My work. My creativity. My drive to express whatever is yearning to be expressed within me.

Yesterday, I wrote in my journal that one of the things I need to do is to respect ‘my work’ by treating it with the same professionalism, care and respect I treated working for others.

Now that was a bit of a surprise!

The thought that ‘my work’ was as valid and meaningful, and important, as the work I did out there, in the world, for others.

An interesting thought worth exploring.

What would happen if I did treat myself with the same respect? If I did turn up on time in my studio and worked like doing my work meant something? Was important to me. Vital even?

What would happen?

I don’t know what could/might/will happen if I do it that way. I do know, not doing it that way would be cheating myself of turning up for me. Not treating it that way would be a choice.

It’s a choice I’m not willing to take.

And so, while I am going unscripted for the next 3 months, I shall also be creating a new script for how I turn up for me, on the blank page and the canvas.

This morning, as I wrote my morning pages, ideas for a novel I didn’t know I was considering writing began to form.

Another bit of surprise on this rainy morning!

In my life I have written two complete novels.

I did little with both.

What if…. I decided to treat myself and my creative expressions with professionalism, care and respect.

What if… I decided my work matters?

Pondering as I begin again to create the mindfield of my next adventure in my life.

Namaste.

 

 

 


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Making art is perilous. It’s also rewarding

In Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” one of the weekly tasks is to take yourself on ‘a date’.

Yesterday, I took myself for a drive in the country, meandering through winding hills that edge the Rockies, down dirt roads of unknown destination. I didn’t get lost as much as I didn’t know where the road ended until I got to an intersection and chose which way to turn. Eventually, I made my way to Vale’s Greenhouse, a family-run business in Black Diamond, a small town south of the city. Situated on the Sheep River, the beautiful gardens were swept away in the floods of 2013. With tender loving care, and a whole lot of hard work, they are back to their previous splendour.

I wandered the greenhouses, picking out plants to include in my pots, looking for ‘the unusual’ to include in the normal.  The nice thing about container gardening is, the growing zone doesn’t matter.

Part of my planning to be unplanned for 3 months is to not make commitments. And, while I know I could plan on bringing the plants in come fall… we’ll see.

It is my new watchword phrase. “We’ll see.”

We’ll see what I decide to do in the fall. We’ll see what adventure I can get up to today. We’ll see what will happen when I mix these plants with these. We’ll see….

It’s a useful phrase!

When someone phoned to ask if I was interested in a contract, I replied… We’ll see in the fall. Until then, I’m not making any commitments.

We’ll see.

After I was finished at Vales I drove into the town centre and wandered the shops and picked up a book to read while having lunch.

I’m glad I did.

Right from the first words, I was engrossed. Art & FearObservations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayes & Ted Orland, begins with the opening statement, “Making art is difficult.”

Yup.

The authors propose that art-making in the time of The Church, the clan, ritual and tradition was easier because ultimately, artists worked in the service of God, not the service of self.

Because we were/are tribal oriented, The Church represented a secure common ground.

We work in the face of uncertainty today. Untethered, insecure in where we stand, we lack a strong sense of community. In that space, we live with the doubt and uncertainty of what it means to ‘be an artist’, to have a calling that perhaps no one else cares about because our art is not an expression of our shared faith.

Yes, making art is difficult.

Not making it is even more difficult.

To not see the world through eyes that seek the wonder and beauty, to not allow my hands to express my thoughts and ideas, is a living death to me.

And so, I must make art. I must write. I must paint. I must dance. I must create. At times, I must sing (even though my daughters tell me that’s not such a good idea!) Creating, being creative is like breathing. I cannot not do it.

I spent a day with myself yesterday. I wandered backroads where ever they took me, and even though I had a destination in mind, I kept my thoughts open to the possibility I’d end up somewhere else.

Where I did end up was exactly where I wanted to be. Sitting under a patio umbrella, enjoying lunch and a glass of wine, reading and writing in the hot afternoon sun.

It was pure delight.

 

 


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Be still and let your heart break open

From Where I Sit

Spring has broken out with flora and festivity blossoming everywhere in the city. With its warmer weather, the spring melt has begun in the mountains to the west.

The river is rising.

Living on the river, and hearing of flooding all over the continent, it is easy to get caught up in fixating on water levels rising. I am teaching myself to watch the river flow without immediately connecting to thoughts of ‘how high will it go?’, ‘are we at risk of flooding?’.

It is challenging. To be present to the river flowing without fearing its depths.

Just as it is challenging to be present to life’s inevitable ups and downs without fearing the downs will never turn up again.

Being ‘unemployed’ is and is not as challenging as I imainged.  While I’m finding its many upsides I struggle with the concept of ‘doing nothing’.

On the upside, I awaken in the morning feeling refreshed, like I actually had a good night’s sleep without worries and thoughts of tomorrow having interfered with my rest. That feeling that resided at the pit of my stomach, that one that whispered at the edges of my peace of mind, constantly reminding of all I had to do, had not gotten done, is gone.

I am establishing new morning routines — My morning meditation followed by my morning pages. Coffee on the deck listening to the rustle of the trees, the river flowing past and the gentle rumble of the traffic on the bridge.

Eventually, I get to my computer. The need to ‘get ‘er all done’ before 7:15am is gone. I feel… rejuvenated.

I enter my day more leisurely.

I am practising the art of ‘Doing Nothing’.

It ain’t easy.

A confirmed ‘always be doing something’ I struggle to simply sit and be still in this moment right now. As if, watching the river flow, or listening to the trees rustle is not enough.

I am practising.

I am finding the gifts in practice.

Practice takes the pressure off ‘getting it right’, giving me space to be my most human self — perfectly perfect in all my human imperfections.

I am practising the art of ‘Doing Nothing.’

I’m not perfect at it, but I’m perfectly okay with my imperfect practising of the art of Doing Nothing.

Namaste.

 

 


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Fear is the Opportunity to Awaken

Front Cover

I am practising the art of “begin again“.

For years, I dutiflly wrote my ‘morning pages’, the art of writing it out every morning as proscribed by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way”.

For years more, I let it go.

I loved writing my morning pages, but… but… but…. Blogging. Busyness. Basically telling myself I didn’t need to, kept me off the habit of my morning pages.

Unscripted time welcomed me back. Particularly as I don’t have a deadline in the mornings in which to get it all completed. I only have… time in its endless flow.

I have begun again.

This morning, as I sat and wrote, I invited my mind to stop ‘forming thoughts’ and to simply let whatever thoughts were swimming about in my head become visible on the page. The words formed and I smiled as I saw the theme emerge: Believe.

Yesterday, as I sat in my studio and created simply for the sake of creating, a booklet created itself. Its theme:  Believe.

Everything is connected to everything.

For much of my life I feared ‘dreaming’. Feared planning my own life built on my own dreams because… well there are a whole lot of deep psychological roadblocks that formed as little speedbumps when I was a child and kept getting built bigger and bigger as I encountered life’s challenges and disappointments.

Needless to say, countless hours of therapy, breath work, group work, writing it out, talking it out and self-actualizing it out have diminished the roadblocks. Now they’re simply speedbumps that are easy to navigate as long as I consciously drive with my intention to live fearlessly in this moment gripped firmly in my hands, heart, mind, body and spirit.

The 9-to-5 was perfect for someone afraid of dreaming. It gave me a destination. A plan. A purpose. It gave me structure.

Set free, I met my fear opening up in my morning pages. At its root, my fear of dreaming.

And I smile.

Fear is the opportunity to awaken.

My fear lives in my mind. I am in control of what I feed my mind. Healthy, empowering thoughts, or garbage.

My choice.

I’m choosing morning pages, bright sunlight and a steady diet of clarifying my dreams so that I can create the structure that will support their fruition.

It’s an exciting journey. I can feel it in my bones, my blood, my body.

And I smile again. I’m obviously into the 3 B’s this morning.  (Yup! I do amuse myself!)

I’ve put the book I made on the desk beside my computer. It is my reminder to believe. In me. Life. Possibility. And in that belief, to follow my dreams, my heart, my desire to create. My desire to make a difference in this world by inspiring others to connect with their creative core and express themselves freely.

I don’t know what the outcome will look like, and that’s okay. For now, I am allowing what is percolating to bubble up and become expressed, however it chooses to be expressed.

In that expression, I am creating clarity. With clarity, purpose follows. And in that inspiring space, my dreams will follow and I will follow my dreams.

Namaste.

 

 

 


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First, rest a bit.

My youngest daughter asked me yesterday, “So… how’s tomorrow looking?”

We were sitting on the deck in the evening light, chatting before dinner. C.C.’s daughter, Lele and her partner. C.C. answered for me first, “It’s looking just fine.”

I smiled.

Because it’s true. Monday looks fine.

Blue sky stretches into infinity. Clouds scuttle across its endless depths, going nowhere but where the wind blows. The river flows eastward, towards a distant sea and I am here, looking out at the trees and the river flowing past.

All is well with my soul.

On Friday, the imitable Mark Kolke commented on my post that the first order of business is to ‘rest a bit’ and then, get busy. The world is waiting.

Mark asked an interesting question… “What are your expectations for your life?”

Now, I tend to hesitate when it comes to ‘expectations’ because often, expectations can be premeditated disappointments, especially when I’m holding them about others.

But what about for myself?

Are my personal expectations of me designed to inspire me to live life fully, to reach my goals and dreams or are they designed to keep me reaching for a non-achievable perfection, thus setting myself up for disappointment, frustration, angst?

Good question.

Perhaps it’s not ‘what are my expectations for my life’ but rather, what are my expectations of me?

My expectations for my life are based on how I move through my life each day. I don’t expect my life to be anything other than an amazing journey, an incredible adventure. It will have highs and lows. Moments of great satisfaction, moments of frustration and doubt. Moments where I’ll wish I’d turned left instead of right, and moments when I find myself exactly where I wanted to be on my path, breathing deeply in the peace and serenity of the moment I’m in.

My expectation of me is, I shall live this adventure of my life with arms wide open, heart beating wildly and thoughts on fire with possibility as I dance with abandon in a world of Love, harmony, and joy.

I shall weather life’s inevitable storms with the same grace and ease I exude in life’s more tranquil moments. I shall face adversity with courage. I shall walk with integrity. I shall be true to me and above all, I shall be kind.

It is Monday today. I don’t have to go to work. I get to savour the moment without a timeline. I have plans, I have ideas, I have a vision of what I want to do next, but first, I must rest a bit.