Flowers On A Snowy Day

Autumn Flowers On A Snowy Day
Mixed Media
11 x 14″ on Canvas Paper
©2019 Louise Gallagher

Snowy weekends in September, (I almost typed December) are not for the faint of heart; nor for those without a really good sense of humour!

Here in Calgary, while not an every-year occurrence, snow in September is not uncommon. Yet, every time autumn leaves falling give way to snow dumping, we Calgarians take great delight in sharing photos and our thoughts on this weather phenomena –  on social media, in grocery store line-ups, at the park, in coffee shops… you got it – everywhere.

I am no exception.

When Beaumont and I went for our walk yesterday, I not only took copious photos, I also took a video. I mean why not?  It looked like a winter wonderland and Beau was leaping for joy as he raced through the snow covered grasses. (You can read about our adventures in the snow on his blog — Sundays With Beaumont)

For me, a snowy September, Sunday afternoon was a welcoming invitation to move back into the studio and savour the joy of creating. In this case, with a lovely friend who came to share in creativity and conversation with me. (Thanks Ally!)

I didn’t spend any time creating last week. A contract to do some community engagement for an agency in the homeless serving sector along with a flu-like bug kept me focused in other areas — and because I lay in bed for a day, it also meant I got hooked on a Netflix series, The Spy. Have you watched it? It’s very powerful and based on a true story.

Netflix and Prime offer up a lot of inducement to avoid giving into studio seduction. My heart and soul are grateful I heeded the muse’s call and fell into her creativity-infused embrace.

The muse not only inspired the Autumn Flowers on a Snowy Day painting (above), she also stirred my feminist soul to create the 52nd painting in my #ShePersisted series which I began in February of 2017. That muse, she’s still got lots to say about living life free of out-dated concepts of ‘what women want’.

No 52 – #ShePersisted Series
I Want What I Have Always Deserved
11 x 14″
Mixed Media on Canvas Paper
To view the entire series please visit: https://louisegallagher.ca/shepersisted/

This morning, as I sit at my desk and look at the snow-blanketed world around me, my mind wants to grumble but finds no footing in my heart’s restful state. It’s only weather and weather can change quickly here at the eastern foot of the Rockies. Other than a romp with Beau to the park and a trip to the grocery store to stock up for visitors arriving tomorrow from Ottawa (I know, Ottawa is expecting October to open with 30 degree Celsius and they’re coming to ‘extreme winter conditions’ (the weather network’s description of our current conditions) here in the southern prairies), I have nothing on my agenda.

Ah yes! Rejuvenation is a great way to rewire my life post-retirement! No matter the weather outside, I welcome every day with a joyful heart and my creative expression burning brightly inside!

Heart Songs and other Creative Expressions

When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.  Pablo Picasso

When I was a child, my sister and I spent hours re-enacting scenes from our favourite movies. Gone with the Wind. The Parent Trap. We knew all the characters, all the parts and we each had our favourites.

It didn’t matter that our stage was a stretch of lawn or that Tara was a sheet draped over a tree or that we each had to play three or four different parts, differentiating the characters only through our voices as we didn’t have time to change wardrobe —  we didn’t really have any wardrobe to change into anyway. This was a low budget reproduction — very creative, just not very accurate.

But none of that mattered. What mattered most was that we spent the time together. Laughing. Sharing. Creating.

When I was a child, I liked to draw. To sing and dance and to play piano. I liked to write and make up stories. To play dolls and Tag! You’re It! or Red Rover! Red Rover!

It didn’t matter to me what the game or activity. What mattered most was that I was playing and being creative. Expressing myself through arts of all nature and having fun.

And then, I grew up.

I still liked to write. To create. To make something out of nothing.

But the tone was different. There was something lacking in my creation. And the fun seemed to have evaporated with the passing of years.

I kept thinking, whatever I was doing, it needed to have ‘A Purpose.’

To create for creation sake just didn’t seem to be viable, make sense, have meaning. If I was painting, there needed to be a reason. If I was writing, there needed to be a message. And, if I was dancing, there needed to be ‘the right steps’.

I’ve grown beyond those ‘grown-up’ days of believing I need ‘A Purpose’ to my art. I’ve grown beyond thinking there are right steps, wrong moves, perfect brushstrokes or perfectly turned phrases.

I’ve grown into being me. Creatively. Expressively. Passionately.

Today, I know that at my core I am a creative being. That life is an act of creation.

Today, I express myself in ways that fulfill on my belief, and need, to create beauty in the world around me simply by being open to play and having fun being creative.

Today, I let go of the right steps and move with grace and ease into being each step I take to create beauty in the world around me through all my creative expressions.

There’s freedom in each movement. Freedom in being my creative self.

There’s joy in knowing every breath I take is an act of creation. Every step I take is an expression of the beauty I want to create in the world.

And most of all, there’s peace in being at ease with me and all my creative expressions.

What about you? Are you willing to create for no purpose other than to allow for your creative urges to be expressed?

Are you able to hear your HeartSong calling you to dance, leap, spin about and paint the world in all the colours of your soul’s expression?

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This post is an edited repost of one originally posted on my former blog, Recover Your Joy. For me, it never gets old as it serves as a good reminder (after having spent all day yesterday in bed easing a fluish bug out of my system) to immerse myself in creative expression today, just for the fun of it!

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If you’re interested in joining me for an afternoon of fun and creative play, please check out the half day workshop I’m offering October 26th in the Wild At Heart Studio. Come Play! Come discover Your Heart Song!   (Space is limited and the workshop is almost full)

Snow? In September? What the Weather?

Autumn falls in golden glory, shedding summer blossoms and leaves like rose petals falling upon the smiling faces of a newly wedded couple.

There’ll be snow tomorrow, the weatherman drones on, his smile masking his dismay at Autumn’s duplicity. Like the river flowing endlessly to the sea, the wind pays no attention to the slithering fear the weatherman’s words convey into the heart’s of city folk who throw their words at television screens like a magician throwing knives in the hopes they do not hit their mark. “Snow tomorrow? Too soon. Too soon.”

Autumn leaves falling pay no heed. Impervious to our pleas for one more day  the winds blow free of summer’s promise bringing with them dark clouds brewing up an early winter storm.

In this moment, right now, I sit at my desk watching the river flow endlessly to the sea. No ice in site. I want to keep this image, right now, as my future state but know, I must release it so I can flow freely in the beauty of this moment, right now.

Snow will come. The ice will dam the river. Birds will flock south. The leaves will fall.

There’s snow coming tomorrow, the weatherman intones and I breathe deeply into the beauty of each golden leaf falling gracefully.

I cannot change the weather. I can change my state of being present in this moment, right now.

I breathe in. Breathe out and move into acceptance.

The weather will be what the weather will be. For this moment, right now, I choose the peace and joy of being present in the beauty falling all around me.

Perhaps though, it would be wise to go buy a new pair of winter boots today.

DarkPath meanderings and other psychic journeys

For the past few mornings, this lovely fellow has been visiting me as I sit at my desk. I think he’s trying to tell me something!

I had a dream last night. Its memory is a bit garbled, and yes, when I awoke from it I did think about writing it down but fell back to sleep before the thought took hold.

I do remember thinking, I must remember this. It’s important. And, while I don’t remember the details, I do remember the substance. It was all about me and my DarkPath — the Dark Healer.

Several years ago I had my SolePath Energy Analysis done to help me understand, my “Sub-conscious self, and the reason why you behave the way you do.”  Or, as the website states, your best lifehack ever. (Where on earth did the phrase ‘lifehack’ come from?)

Yesterday, I read through the analysis again for the first time in a long time.

And that’s where the DarkPath dream stemmed from.

In a SolePath Analysis there are 3 Paths. The Joyful LightPath. The Progression LightPath and the Collapsing DarkPath.

I have been dancing with the DarkPath and forgetting to activate my LightPaths to get me back on track.

Yup. I’ve been playing in the darkside of my belief “I am not wanted here” for a few weeks now. My dream was to remind me to turn to the light. To allow my natural gifts to raise me up so that I can respond with grace, ease and love to everything and everyone in my life.

I know. I know. It sounds kind of whoo hoo fairy dusty, when in actuality, my SolePath Energy Analysis reads incredibly accurately to me. And, if it is a tool that can help me move with grace, ease and love, why wouldn’t I use it?

Here’s the thing.

There’s all sorts of things in this world we can learn to make life easier. We can learn how to read and write. How to ride a bike. To cook and clean. To build bridges, boats, rafts – all sorts of things to carry us across the waters.

What we don’t learn very much about is how to be the best version of our human essence on this journey called life.

We tend to leave that to ‘the fates’, to happenstance, to some future state of ‘maybe one day’.

While I believe we all share a desire to be our most magnificent selves, we aren’t provided many tools, nor support, to actually make it happen.

In our journey from childhood to adulthood, we don’t always learn the tools we need to swim with grace and ease, flowing with the waters of life instead of against them. In our desire to direct the waters so that we can get what we want in life, we flail about splashing our negativity, fear, confusion all about, get caught in the back-eddies, or caught up in the currents, and forget all about ‘going with the flow’ as we fight against the natural current our individual human uniqueness.

Understanding what motivates us, how we are the way we are, what works for us (or not), what inspires us, and how we can stay out of, or at least get out of, the fray of our sometimes human dysfunction is essential to living a grace-filled life of joy and wonder.

And the fact is, I have been a bit stuck in behaviours and monkey-mind self-talk that I am predisposed to revert to in times of stress and unease.

In simpler terms, my comfort zone. That place where I’m not all that comfortable but at least I know the lay of the land. Even when it doesn’t bring me more of what I truly want in my life, at least there are no surprises because, in my comfort zone, I can easily play the victim and feel vindicated in my position. because “I’m to blame for all the bad stuff going down and they’re all going to blame me anyway because it’s always all my fault”.

I know. Pretty yucky. Right?

Here’s what my SolePath energy analaysis says about the DarkHealer Path

Yup. that’s me.

And here’s the thing, my DarkPath is my place of enlightenment. My place where growth occurs because my DarkPath  reminds me to choose away from it to step into my LightPaths so that I truly can be of service to the world and live from within the power and beauty of the best version of myself.

I had a dream last night. It came to me from the darkness to remind me it’s not my job to fix everything/everyone and when I call upon the strengths of my LightPaths, I have the power and capacity to live in the light.

It’s my choice.

The dawning of a new day brings awareness. I choose the light.

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

The Rainbow Chasers Guide to Changing the World through Loving Self-Talk

You can be hard on yourself or kind to yourself.

Either way, you’ll get things done.

The hard way will be harder. The kind way will be easier.

The hard way, or the easy. Which do you choose?

I know, it sounds so simple. Just be kind to yourself and it will all work out.

Being kind to ourselves isn’t all that easy when the habit of being hard on ourselves takes up most of our inner conversation.

Many years ago, I kept track of the number of times I gave myself negative self-talk versus positive. I carried around a little notebook and for one week I made a check mark in either the negative or positive column on the page.

It kind of made me want to cry to see how much the negative outweighed the positive.

It was definitely an eye, mind and heart opener.

I sure wouldn’t want to hang around me if I was constantly shedding negativity into the world.

Oh wait! I was. And I was holding it all inside me. Ugh.

Hanging around with myself wasn’t a choice. The choice was, what was I willing to do to make the experience of being with me more enjoyable?

Right.

Change my relationship with me.

I’m not saying it was an easy transition, moving from always talkin’ sh*ttalk to myself to being a voice of gentle loving-kindness. But it sure made a difference once I made the decision to stop the sh*ttalk and get with the “I’m okay. I’m human” talk.

For me, it meant ensuring the ‘Positive’ column in my notebook was filled with more check-marks than the negative side. My consciousness of that goal kept me aware of my inner talk. Every time I caught myself saying something negative to myself, I had to find one positive to match it. That way, at least the negativity didn’t grow into the longer column!

Eventually, I moved from one positive to two until, now, when I do say something negative to myself, like ‘how could you be so stupid?’ or, “Seriously? What were you thinking?” I quickly breathe in (deeply) and give myself grace. “It’s okay Louise. You made a mistake. Your job is to be accountable for your mistakes, not give yourself a life sentence of grief.”

See, sometimes, when I do make mistakes, like say something that hurts someone, or do something I’m not all that proud of, I want to revert back to that place where my mistakes are worthy of my being whipped, tarred and feathered. In those moments, I must surrender my need for punishing myself by making myself ‘not okay’ and call on grace to love me through it.

We are all ‘okay’. It’s our behaviour that can be optional. And when our behaviour gives evidence to our not being as okay as we’d like to be, then we work on our behaviour.

Changing behaviour isn’t about working on our essential goodness, our inherent human magnificence. Those are givens. They are universal in all humanity. Remember?  We are born magnificent and then… life interferes and gives us reasons to doubt our magnificence. Our job then becomes remembering what we forgot so long ago, we worry it no longer exists.

That’s our universal human journey. Returning to love and our inherent magnificence.

What’s not so universal and not such a given is that we treat ourselves, and each other, with dignity, respect, kindness, Love.

And that’s where the work is — in shifting our behaviours to be a reflection of the values that make this world a better place.

We can make it hard. Or do the easy.

The easy begins with talking nicely to ourselves so that our hearts are at ease, our minds calm and our spirits lifted up by our generosity of spirit.

From that place, well let’s just say, changing the world becomes a cakewalk! (Okay maybe not quite so Pollyanish but if we’re all talking nice to ourselves, we’ll be talking nice to everyone else too!)

See, the Rainbow Chasers Guide to Changing the World through Loving Self-Talk! Easy-peasy!

By Golly! I think I’ve got it! My new career.

Day 29 — 30 Day Art Project
Song of Joy

I’ve got it!  My new career! I know exactly what it is.

Seriously. It came to me this morning as I was sitting watching the sun come out from a cloud laden sky and dapple the golden leaves of the trees outside my window and the sun fairies dance on the waters of the river flowing by.

You know how tornado chasers race all over the countryside in search of winds to follow and photograph, to document and capture?

Well, I’ve decided my new career will be kind of like that… but not really.

I’ve decided to become… A Rainbow Chaser!

Okay. so it’s not really a well-known or probably even a ‘real’ career that will earn me a gazillion dollars but, hey, if it brings me joy, Why not do it? And anyway, who’s to say my donning the mantle of Rainbow Chaser won’t make it ‘go viral’ and all that jazzy stuff that happens when something someone does captures the imagination and whims of others?

Why Rainbow Chaser?

Because I can.

Because who doesn’t love rainbows?  And heck. The world is filled with them! They’re universal. They’re magical. And they always appear after the rain when the sun comes out and sparkles through the light.

Me, I love rainbows and after several days of wallowing in the dark  matter of the icky stuff that sometimes clogs the free-flowin’ style of my living life on the outside of my comfort zone, chasing rainbows is so much better than living under the dark cloud of my own unease.

See, sometimes I get stuck in the story I am telling myself about why I am not wanted, not needed, not welcome on this journey called life.

Sometimes, I believe my own critics who troll the avenues of my mind, seeking out weak spots on the edges of my limiting beliefs and the fears tucked away in hidden alcoves where the sun don’t shine.

And here’s the thing, I figure as a Rainbow Chaser, I’ll be dancing in the rain and the sun because everyone knows, rainbows are always waiting in the wings for their star appearance after the rain.

To be in the right place to capture the rainbow, I gotta be willing to stand in the rain knowing the sun is still shining behind grey clouds. I gotta hold onto my belief that if I breathe deeply enough, the wind’s of time, supported by a whole lot of Love, will blow those grey clouds away and the sun, along with its beautiful sparkling light-lit rainbow, will appear.

And then, another question popped into my head like a gopher on Ground Hog day popping out of his hole.

Are there rainbows in the night? Do they appear by moonlight after the rain has passed but we never see them because we’re sound asleep waiting for the sun to rise?

Oh boy! My Rainbow Chasing career is off to a good start.

A deep question to dive into and explore. Because, seriously, if I’m sleeping through the dark, how will I know when the sun has risen? What if, I choose to let rainbows and moonbeams cast away the dark and create a world of joy. A world, my heart can really sing about!

Yup. Rainbow Chaser, the career of dreams and flights of fancy.  A career worth dancing in the rain for and singing out loud my song of joy.

Not bad for a day that started under gloomy skies!

Now that I’ve got my eyes wide open and my heart a beatin’, I’ll see ya’ll later.

I’m off chasing rainbows, and fairy dancers and sunburst making daydreams worth chasing! And maybe, when the sun sets, I’ll go chasing moonbeams and starlit staircases leading up into the glittering beauty of a beguiling night sky strewn with a gazillion diamonds — cause the more I think about it, the more I’m thinkin’ there are rainbows in the night —  diamonds cast ’em when they capture the light just so… Why wouldn’t the stars?

Ain’t life a wonder?

Acceptance in Every Peace of My Heart

Ahh. Acceptance. Of self. Beauty and the Beast. Yin and Yang. Light and Dark.

Sister Joan Chittister writes:

Self-knowledge gives us perspective, and self-esteem gives us confidence, but it’s self-acceptance that gives us peace of heart.

One of the most challenging things I have ever done is to accept myself as a mother who once was so lost she believed the only path to peace of heart was to desert her daughters.

It’s a long story.

The short version is, I got lost in an abusive relationship and lost myself. In that dark place, I held no mercy for me. I was beyond saving.

I believed the only way to save my daughters was to leave them. Because without me in their lives, I believed they would be free to live their lives without the pain and shame of me and all I’d done to hurt them.

Learning to love and accept myself as that mother was not easy. Especially when the question I asked myself everyday was, “What kind of mother would do that?”

And while the answer was wrapped up in the pain and trauma of being abused, I had to practice self-compassion and mercy every single day — for a long time, whether on some days I wanted to or not —  to get to a place where I could look at that woman who was, and is, me and say, “I forgive you. I love you.” I had to be willing to give up beating her up with my anger, pain, sorrow, shame and accept her brokenness with all my heart.

And then, I had to commit to walking in mercy every day to live with peace of heart and mind so that I could find the grace to create love and joy, peace and harmony in my world.

I had to stop using what happened as an excuse to not turn up in my life today. I had to quit telling myself I was a victim or even a survivor. I was a victor and I had to don my victor’s robe of glory over adversity, beauty over pain, love over fear, mercy over judgement.

I could not stand in the light if I was constantly turning off the lights of my own magnificence. Standing in my magnificence (and not judging it as tarnished, bruised, unworthy of being seen) was essential if I was to be a light and a safe haven for myself and others.

I had to, and still have to, practice radical mercy on my heart. Because magnificence does not come with a clean slate. It arrives wrapped up in everything I am, including all the wounds and scars, darkness and fears of me, myself and I.

And accepting who I am, all of me, is the path to peace of heart.

I can know myself and live confidently as myself, but to live in the wholeness of peace of heart, I must accept not just my wisdom but also my wounds, not just my light but also my dark, and not just my beauty but also my beast.

I invite you, just for today, to practice radical mercy on yourself. Stand in  front of the mirror, look deeply into your eyes and say out loud, “I forgive you. I love you. I accept all of you in my heart.”

And so it is.

Namaste.

The Exquisite Unknowing

It is the exquisite beauty and angst of this journey called life. So much is unknowable. When you name ‘the something’ you think you know, it is changed and you begin again the quest to know that which is unknowable.

And still, we try to know it, name it, place it. To hold it fast. To let it go.

Like the silence. It is unknowable and immune to our entreaties for certainty we exist within the silence, that we will be heard within its deep embrace.

These thoughts come to me this morning as Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I wander the woods that line the river where he likes to play.

Autumn’s golden hues are sprinkled amidst the still green leaves of summer. The air is fresh. The river cold.

Yesterday I walked these same paths. They were different then. I could not know what I would experience today. Today was unknowable to me yesterday and anything I think I know today, will be different tomorrow.

I could not know the experience of ‘retirement’ until I entered into it. It is different than I imagined. Filled with the mystery and wonder that arises within me as I journey deeper into its unknowning. Filled with feelings I had never experienced and could not conveive of until I entered its sacred space.

In its complexity lies its simplicity, the paradox of change and growth. What was becomes different, filled with what was and the what wasn’t known before. And as soon as I name it, it becomes unknowable again for in the naming what I believe I know, I create space for all I do not know to enter.

What do I not know cannot be answered with words. It must be experienced, felt, rested within for it to become part of my being who I am when I let go of believing I know everything there is to know about me, myself and I.

We are all the magician and the performer, conjuring up stories we tell to make sense of who we are in a world of mystery. Steeped in the dichotomy of being unknowable from the outside in. With every surrender of knowing what we believe to be true about ourselves, we journey deeper into the mystery of being our true selves in the unfathomable mystery of life.

In embracing our journey as not being defined by who we think we are, we discover the exquisite unknowing of all we thought we knew about our true selves. In wonder and awe of all we do not know, we discover we truly are magnificent.

I had a wonder-filled wander with Beaumont this morning.

I am grateful for the unfolding of my unknowing.

May we each fall into the joy of unknowing who we think we are to discover how magnificent we truly are.

Namaste.

 

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The Age of Grace

 

I am sitting in meditation when a question slips into my mind as effortlessly as a leaf falling to the ground, ” I wonder if a rose resents its petals for losing their bloom?”  Or the tree for that matter. Does it resent the leaf for dying and falling?

I am getting older. I know. Amazing right? But wait. So are you. We all are. It is the inevitable drawing of time that began when this sacred journey of our life was first conceived.

And the fact is, while I may sometimes look askance at the evidence of time’s weathered marks etched into my skin, resenting it is like the tree resenting the falling leaf.

It makes no difference to the leaf (nor to time for that matter) how the tree experience’s its fall. Just as it makes no difference to ‘life’ how I weather my journey. It does, however, make a significant difference to me and my experience of life, how I navigate the inevitability of aging.

Holding myself in a sea of resentment at all I tell myself I’ve lost, I lose precious time to sing and dance, laugh and play, create and learn, Love and be loved.

Holding myself in joyful acceptance of all I learn and experience with every passing moment, I gift myself time to live joyfully with grace in this moment right now, dancing and laughing, spinning about, leaping for joy and embracing all of life’s wondrous gifts at every state of my journey.

Sitting at my desk right now, looking out the window at the trees that line the river, I watch a golden leaf release its hold on a tiny branch and drift slowly to the ground.

It does not rush. It does not plummet. It dirfts, effortlessly, enraptured by its timeless dance with gravity and air. Light. Joyful. Grace in motion.

The leaf will fall. The seasons will turn. Time will pass. Life will continue to evolve and each of us will continue to age until all that is left are the memories we leave behind and the Love we knew, the Love we shared, the Love we embraced.

We come into this world through an act of Love. All we can carry with us when we leave is Love and all we can leave behind is Love.

How we fill in the pieces between the Love is up to each of us.

It’s my choice whether I fall through time resisting gravity’s pull, or let gravity hold me in its loving embrace as I fall through time joyfully dancing in a sea of grace.

 

Namaste.