Trees Fall Down And Nobody Yells At Them.

I didn’t do it.

No excuses. No reason why not (well actually I have a lot of those but you don’t really want to hear them).  The fact is, I did not reach the 50,000 word target of the NaMoWriNo.

And I’m okay.

When the time is right the writing will be written, I shall continue on.

At this moment in time, I am having way too much fun in my studio, creating a new platform on my website for creative offerings and developing courseware that expresses my life focus of being a Creativity Activist. Oh. And I’ve got Christmas gifts to craft for this year.

If I were really committed to the writing, it would happen. And it’s just not happening write now.

Isn’t that the way of life? We think about the things we’d like to do, and then don’t get to them. Sometimes it’s a conscious decision not to. Sometimes, it’s procrastination. Sometimes, competing priorities or different ones take centre stage. And then, there’s just the good ole’ filling time with other busyness.

Whatever the reason, not doing it is information that can create light in our life or heavy spaces.

In the past, in not reaching a target I might have wasted time chastising myself, beating myself up for what I deemed ‘falling down’. It never really helped. What it did do was create that heaviness of being that nullifies and defies my peace of mind.

Enough is enough.

I don’t need to chastise myself. I have to either get on with completing whatever it was I was doing, or, decide to be okay with not doing it.

In the ‘being okay with not doing’ I can choose to create space for self-compassion and self-acceptance.

I didn’t reach the NaMoWriNo word target.

I did sign-up. I did complete my outline and chapter synopses. I did a bunch of research on an area of the novel that I need to understand to write about it. I did start writing. And that’s a big deal. Those are positive steps.

Time to celebrate the steps taken.

Time to acknowledge I’m exactly where I am. Life is exactly what it is in this moment right now.

And then… it’s back to the studio I go to play and create.

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I’ve been creating more Christmas balls with clear glass balls and alcohol ink and glitter. I do love sparkly things!  Did I mention how much fun I’m having?

 

Bicycle Man. Truck Man and a bag of dog poop on the road in a snowstorm.

Two Bridges from my window this morning – yesterday I could barely see them

The wind is biting. Snow prickles my skin. My cheeks are flushed.

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle is oblivious to the storm blowing as we head west along the snow-covered path towards the off-leash park.

To my left, traffic crawls along Bowness Road towards the city centre. Somewhere behind, I can hear a man’s voice yelling. I pay no attention. I’m working hard to keep moving forward in the blowing snow.

And then, I can no longer ignore the yelling. A dark clothed man riding a bicycle appears on the road to my left. He is on the curbside of the lane of the oncoming traffic, yelling at the cars and occasionally pounding on a side door. “Get out of the f**ing bike lane”, he screams as he slowly makes his way in the opposite direction of the cars travelling on the road.

I am somewhat bemused. I am walking on the path that pedestrians and bicyclists share. There is no bike lane on this part of the road. It begins on the far side of the pedestrian/bicycle bridge which runs parallel to the vehicle bridge where it crosses the river just ahead of me.

At this exact moment in time, Beaumont hunches over to do his business. I stand and wait, all the while watching the tableau of yelling bicycle man unfold.

Bicycle man is off his bike at the edge of the vehicle bridge, yelling at someone in a white pickup truck, pounding his fist on the hood of the vehicle, screaming his refrain that everyone ‘get out of the f**ing bike path’.

A long line of traffic begins to pile up behind the white pickup truck.

I bend over to pick-up Beaumont’s business to the chorus of white pickup man yelling back through his open driver’s window at bicycle man, “There is no f**ing bike path here.”

Bicycle man vociferously disagrees.

He keeps yelling and pounding his fist on the man’s truck.

Suddenly, the man in the pickup truck flings open his door, jumps down onto the road and races around the front of his truck towards bicycle man.

Now they’re yelling face to face. Bicycle man insisting there’s a bike path. White truck man denying its existence.

Suddenly, someone throws a punch.

The other returns it.

And the fight is on.

I am standing across the road, slightly down the embankment on the pedestrian/bike path, poop bag in hand. Startled by this new development, my mind races. What can I do?

Beaumont oblivious to the ruckus, keeps his nose buried in the snow, sniffing out the scents of wandering squirrels and rabbits (or perhaps he’s just trying to stay out of other people’s business).

The fisticuffs are flying. The yelling has stopped – I’ve never thought about it before but it must be hard to throw a left hook and a verbal barb all at the same time.

The cars behind the white pickup truck are still. No one gets out. No one honks their horn. (It’s possible they can’t see what’s going down on the curbside leading onto the bridge.

I pull on Beaumont’s leash, his head pops up out of the snow and we head towards the pair duking it out on the roadway.

“Hey!” I yell loudly as I approach, leash in right hand, poop bag swinging as I wave my left arm to get their attention, “Stop that!”

White pickup man glances towards me. So does bicycle man. I imagine their minds asking themselves, “What the f’ is she doing here?” Perhaps they think I’m going to throw the bag of poop at them if they don’t stop.

Bicycle man turns away with a last, “You’re in the bike lane.” He picks up his bike and struggles to mount it as he begins pedalling westward through the snow.

White pickup man turns back to his truck, gets in and drives off towards the east.

Traffic begins to crawl forward.

Beaumont and I continue on our way in search of the garbage can further along the trail where I can deposit his offering. Still bemused I am also smiling. Did they think I might throw the bag and its contents if they didn’t stop?

And the snow keeps falling and the wind keeps blowing, sweeping away the evidence of the high drama on the road in a snowstorm.

 

Dance child, dance.

Perhaps it is the soft glow of the candle burning on the desk beside me as I type.

Or, perhaps the steady stream of lights passing over the bridge, east to west, towards the busyness of the downtown core.

Or maybe the light from under the bridge dancing on the waters of the river flowing inexorably to some far and distant unseen sea.

Or maybe, it is simply the mystical, magical nature of morning.

I awoke this morning, and as happens most days when I sit down to write, I am unaware of the words that will appear, until they appear. My eyes peering into the soft morning glow of dawn easing its way across the sky, I watch the traffic flow, the river dance in the light, the trees stand silent in the lightening dark, and I breathe.

And with each breath, I sink into this moment becoming each moment passing by in one gentle, soothing continuous stream. Time fades away and life flows effortlessly into the gap creating a beautiful song of awakening.

I awoke to poetry this morning. To the dance of words calling me to let go and fall daringly into the mystical grace of nature dancing in wild beauty all around me.

“Dance child, dance,” the music of morning exhorts. And so, I let go and dance.

I hope you join me.

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About the title:  Each week, David Kanigan of Live & Learn shares a post titled “Lightly child, lightly,” in homage to Aldous Huxley’s words from his last novel, Island,

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…”

“Lightly child, lightly”. I love that phrase and co-opted it this morning in the gentle hues of dawn and memory and nature’s beauty awakening to the light.

About the photo:  Every day Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I walk to the off-leash park just around the bend, under the bridge along the river’s edge and wander its woods and trails. Every day, if I remember to take my phone, I take a photo of something that entrances me in the nature of our walk. This photo is what delighted my senses yesterday.

The Perfect Beauty of Imperfection

It can be hard sometimes to see that the life we’re living is the perfect life for us.

We tell ourselves, “Life is not a perfect journey,” and then list the reasons that defend our position.

Too often, our expectations of how life ‘should be’ mar our vision of the beauty in the life that is ours. We grade our path as ‘difficult’ and judge it against the ease of another’s. We compare our foothold on planet earth as filled with hard rock stories and bemoan the bounty we see in someone’s soft landing spot. And then, we tell ourselves we’re not ‘the fortunate’. We’re less than, other than, somehow unworthy of a beautiful life. We’re not like ‘those people’ who seem to breeze through life as if they were born to it.

We are all born to live. We are all born to shine.

It’s just sometimes, we peer so long into the darkness, we forget to turn on the lights. Sometimes, the darkness is so deep, we don’t ever remember there being any light.

At my studio table. Works in progress.

Yesterday, immersed in creative exploration, judging, comparing, bemoaning life’s woes fell away.

Carried in the flow of creative expression, time lost its grip. Beginnings and ends of this moment to the next vanished. I was cut loose from Father Time ticking away the minutes and lost myself to floating on the drift of being in the now.

It was bliss.

All that was present was paint flowing and glitter falling wherever it desired — and if you could see my worktable and studio, you’d appreciate how glitter has its own design, crafting its destiny of sparkling up life with joyful élan!

For ten hours I was in the flow, full of contentment, joy, ease. Alive in the present moment, I felt grace infuse each breath with its delicious beauty.

There was no worry. No fear. No anxiety about the outcome. There was just the pure joy of creating and the exhilaration of letting it happen without thinking about where it was all leading.

Sure, I had an idea. A starting point — in this case, 24 clear glass Christmas balls.

And I had some tools — alcohol inks, glue gun, glitter.

And most importantly, I had the open space of time to experiment, to ask myself, “I wonder what would happen if I did…?” and then, the freedom to follow my wonderment.

I had such a day yesterday. A day where all things felt possible because I was in the flow of life, savouring the journey which, rather than perceiving it as separated into distinct moments, felt unseparated from the moment before and the next to come.

And then….

Well, sometimes, the ease and contentment of that long, continuous, blissful moment can feel so fleeting.

This morning, I awakened and realized I needed to do some touch-ups to what I’d created if… and here’s the catch… if I wanted them to ‘look perfect’.

What if I accept they look unique, a perfect reflection of my creative expression in the moment? Because, quite frankly, to see the imperfections you have to compare this morning’s product against last night’s. (Some of the inks flowed down to the bottom of the balls — the glitter’s still in place though!)

Well… here’s my chance to practice what I preach!

What if, I gave up comparison, judgement, expectations of perfection and breathed into the possibility that there is nothing left to be done to create better. There is only this moment to live in the better of all that is possible when I let go of… you got it… comparison, judgement, expectations.

What if… indeed.

Now that would be bliss. That would be life lit up like glitter on a Christmas ball shimmering in the ordinary grace of the present moment.

This morning, I’m going with acceptance.

How blissful!

Nurture Your Creativity

I am coming up to the end of six months in this new re-write of my life post ‘out-in-the-world’ career.

I’ve learned a  lot and rediscovered some things about myself I’d completely forgotten.

Like, when I get focused on something, it’s hard for me to break away. The corollary to my ‘focus’ is I can be easily distracted from my ‘To-Do List’ by Netflix. (Hence why The Crown devoured many consecutive moments deep into the wee hours one night – I couldn’t turn it off until I got to the end.)

But seriously, two of the greatest rememberings are how much joy I receive through creating in my studio and how much I love to spend time in the kitchen.

On the studio angle, one of the things I’m realizing is how integral an endpoint is to my creative purpose. While I derive great joy from creating just for the sake of creating, I am very motivated by an ‘endgame’.

The art journal I created for my Heart Your Art Out course at Kensington Art Supply is a good example. Creating it as an example for the course motivated me. One of the outcomes is, I’ve been invited back at the end of January to deliver another course and will be giving a one day course at the end of March — so stay tuned!

Earlier this fall, I sent a query to be included in an art show that is one of my favourites. Last week, I received notice the jury has accepted my application and I will be showing my work at the “Cultivate Your Art” show and sale at Vale’s Greenhouse in Black Diamond next June! For me, this is a ‘bucket list’ thing. I love their annual art show and to be one of the invited artists is huge for me!  Which means, I’ll be creating like mad come January to have a body of work to show. They also want me to show my #ShePersisted series — which is very exciting!

Name Cards — inside each the message reads: The Gift I see in you [a loving heart] [a generous soul] [a wise heart] – each gift is specific to each dinner guest
On a closer to home level, take my dinner party nametags. Every Christmas we have a large family-style dinner with immediate and honourary family.  In the past, because of the demands of work, I love making these nametags but would often scramble to create them in the week before the dinner simply because I was so busy at work.

This year, I’ve almost finished them and it’s not even December yet!

Bonus! It means that this re-write gig has also created a bit more flexibility in my life.  As my birthday is the second week of December I have historically disallowed Christmas in the house until after my birthday. This year, I’ve already bought some gifts and Christmas music is a regular on my playlist! Though the tree will still have to wait until after the 9th!

The second ‘Great Remembering’ involves kitchen-time. Many years ago, a girlfriend and I had a cooking school and I had a short 10-minute cooking show on a local cable network. Which is all just to say, I love to cook.

The Joy of Baking Bread — thanks, Dad! You taught me well.

Challenge was, with work and its many demands and stressors as well as simply living life day-to-day, my kitchen time was relegated to sporadic bursts of activity mostly centred around an occasional dinner party.

Now I have time to create in the kitchen, and I am loving it.

Which has lead to possibly one of the greatest things I have learned/remembered since my last day of formal, out-in-the-world work almost six months ago —

Life isn’t about ‘output’.

Life is about living fully each moment,  experiencing the joy, passion and love that arises when I let go of ‘busy’ and fall with grace into being present to whatever I’m doing.

Six months after my last formal workday, my life isn’t as ‘busy’ as it used to be. But it most definitely is richer, fuller and more joyful.

I don’t miss my life before this re-write began. I don’t have time. Immersed in doing what I love, I am fully engaged in savouring each moment of creative expression, no matter where I am or what I am doing.

It’s all mighty grand!

And bonus, with my nametags almost done, I’ll have more time to create (stress-free) tasty treats and other goodies to imbue this Christmas season with not just glitter and glam, but peace, hope, love and joy!

 

 

The Beautiful Oops!

Good Morning Pear
Mixed media on canvas paper.
9 x 12″
©2019 Louise Gallagher

Artist and teacher Bob Ross calls them, “Happy Little Accidents”. I prefer the name Barney Saltzberg uses in his delightful children’s book, Beautiful Oops!

Sometimes, beautiful oops’es create moments where all we want to do is quit. Or throw away whatever we’re working on and start again.

And then, something happens to change our perspective, to open the doors of our limited thinking and suddenly, that “Oh Gawd, what was I thinking?” becomes a heartfelt “Thank you,” to whatever spiritual being, divinity, energy, or absence of, we believe in.

There were so many times while working on the piece pictured above that my thinking mind wanted me to quit. To give up. To say, “Nah. I’ll just move on to something else, or perhaps, I’ll just paint over the whole thing and begin again.”

It’s always a good thing to expect the unexpected when in the creative flow. It seldom disappoints.

Yesterday, as I was deep into my need to organize myself and my art-making into some semblance of orderly process where I was in control and the creative process was under my domain, a voice deep within me whispered, “You’re stuck. Go change the music.”

Walking over to my studio desk, I opened my laptop and thought, “Well, as I’m here I’ll just check my emails.”

And that’s when the magic happened.

At the top of my Inbox was an email from a lovely man I met while at  The Embodied Present Process (TEPP) retreat in October. His email contained a link to a song and its beautiful invitation to “Loosen. Loosen and let go of the weight of the world”.

In need of the distraction, I hit PLAY and suddenly found myself moving and swaying throughout my studio.

Several songs later I had danced my ‘stuckedness out’ and came back to my work table feeling centered and present in the moment.

Present in the moment that is all that is, I loosened my hold on wanting to organize my life and everything in it and let the muse flow freely.

I am grateful.

I kind of like the Good Morning Pear. 🙂 She pleases my heart and calls me deeper into the mystery of the present moment and the magic of creative expression.

Namaste.

 

 

To Be or Not To Be. What’s the Real Question?

how bright will

A bird does not ask if one day it will fly. A fish does not wonder if it will swim just as a river does not worry about where it’s flowing. It just flows.

It’s only us human beings who wonder, “What will I be?”

It starts at an early age.

When I was a little girl I would tell people I wanted to be an actress when I grew up because I wanted to make people laugh and cry and feel all the colours of the rainbow. That occupation did not sit well in my household so I changed it to a psychologist – maybe I could help people smile more?

And then, I grew up, (well at least kind of) and neither of those occupations were on my radar. But then, neither was becoming a leader in the not-for-profit sector working in homelessness on my agenda either. It just kind of happened.

Which brings me back to Hamlet’s famous question,

“To be or not to be.
That is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”

There is nothing noble in suffering. No rewards. No commendations. No aspirational title like, “Chief Sufferer of Life’s Slings and Arrows.”

There is only suffering in suffering. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m suffering, I kinda like to see the world as suffering along with me. It feels less lonely.

The situations that create suffering in our lives are not always of our design or choice. The things we do to keep us tied to the suffering, well, those are sometimes based on choices we make, albeit often unconscious and often circumscribed by the limitations of our environment and history. And while it is possible to change our circumstances, when we’re mired in suffering that keeps us tethered to the pain of our existence, it’s hard to recognize — there is another way To Be.

Working in a homeless shelter, I encountered daily people whose belief in themselves was so limited by their circumstances they could not see any hope of the possibility of change. Their roads had been dark so long, there was no glimmer of light in the tunnel of the dark and gloomy past, present and future they believed was theirs and theirs alone.

When I first started working in the sector, I started an art program in the shelter where I worked. I believe that it doesn’t matter where we’ve landed on the road of life, what matters is we stand up again and again and take one little step after another, again and again.

And that can be hard when the bottom feels like it is constantly falling away.

Which is where ‘creative expression’ plays a leading role. Standing up is hard without a foundation. Tapping into our creative core gives us access to a solid place to begin to see there is a possibility of some kind of ‘different’. As we dive in, we begin to see the world in varying hues of grey until the darkness opens up to all the colours of the rainbow.

And so, I come full circle.

The view from where I sit this morning as I type.

This morning, as I look out through my window at the beautiful blue sky above, two birds fly swiftly by. A gentle morning breeze brushes the snow clinging to the bare-limbed arms of the tree lining the river, pushing it gently into the air. Beneath the surface of the swiftly flowing river, fish swim in its depths.

Birds fly. Fish swim. The river flows. The sun rises and I smile at the symmetry of my life.

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a light so that I didn’t feel so alone in the dark and maybe, others wouldn’t too.

Today I know there is no choice to be or not to be a light. The question is, “How bright am I willing to shine?”

How bright are you willing to shine?

Snow falls. Feathers drop. Birds sing.

As light as a feather, the bird’s song fell into my heart and lifted me up in joy.

It was an evening of laughter, joy and creativity.

Seven of the 9 people registered for the course weathered the snow and made it to Kensington Art Supply for my Art Your Heart Out Journalling Course.

It was inspiring. Energizing and above all, for me, it felt so right. So like… this is where I’m meant to be. This is what makes me come alive.

Left side of the 2 page spread

There is something sublimely pleasing about sharing what you love with others eager to experience the joy of creating.

One of the areas I was a little concerned about is that at the beginning of the workshop, I do a guided meditation meant to stimulate creativity and help people discover the words that will guide their creative exploration.

I’m not always sure people will ‘get into’ it. That they won’t think I’m weird, it’s weird, like seriously? What’s that all about. (Yeah, I know. That critter is an annoyance I don’t need to listen to — but man. He sure can be persistent!)

Right side of the two-page spread

Which is why it’s wonderful that my inner wisdom voice understands the value of such an exercise and overrode the critter who kept trying to insist I skip it and just ‘get on with the workshop’.

At the end of the evening, some of the women commented on that particular exercise, telling me how it helped them relax into the evening and become more open to the experience.

Music to my ears, and heart.

I am feeling tired this morning, but it pales in the presence of the gratitude, joy, calmness that fills me up.

Part of what is filling me up is how engaged everyone was. How everyone created something uniquely ‘of them’. In each creation the beauty of the individual’s heart and inner glow was evident.

One of the things I absolutely adore and find inspiring is how, when a group of women get together, even strangers, they quickly settle into ‘friendspeak’ and collaboration. It was evident at the table last night as the women chatted and shared ideas, support, and encouragement of one another.

It was beautiful.

Thank you, Jane (your help setting up and gathering up at the end of the evening was invaluable. Actually, just having you there helped calm my nerves and gave me joy!)

Thank you, Evelyn, Charlotte, Nathalie, Ghislaine, Dantry and Linda for braving the snowy roads and bringing your beautiful selves to the table and for sharing your delightful light with each of us. You made the evening very, very special. And I love how you expressed yourselves so creatively and beautifully!

Namaste.

PS. And for those of you in more ‘gentle’ climes, this is the view outside my window as I type this morning. Winterwonderland!

 

On Mornings Like These

The wind picked up the seed and said, “You don’t belong stuck in the ground. Come fly with me and I will show you the wonders of the world.”

The seed planted itself back into the ground and said, “I grow best where I am planted. This is where I belong.”

Sometimes, okay most times, when I create I don’t have a ‘destination’. I simply feel the calling of something wanting to be expressed, and I go with the flow of expression until what was yearning to be brought into the world takes form in the light of creativity unleashed.

Regardless of my beginning intention, by the time I’ve drained the story of a piece, the words to express whatever has been called into creation appear. Without thought. Without effort. Without planning.

Oh sure, sometimes, (ok most times — I am a bit of a control freak, aka perfectionist at heart…) I work them out to be more poetic, to have better ‘flow’, but the original thought that was germinated throughout the creative process is always there. Planted firmly in the fertile soils of soulful creative expression.

I am grateful for the soft moments where light filters through the cracks. The gentle breezes that lift my imagination and carry me into story-lands that can only exist when I let go of thinking I know life and all its mysteries.

I am grateful for snow-filled, wintery mornings. The soft sibilant, barely audible hiss of traffic on the bridge outside my window. The sweet early morning quiet of dawn’s slow light edging into the dark.

I am grateful for moments like these and all the mysteries and wonders that flow so freely throughout my world.

 

Let Your Dreams Run Away With Your Heart

As I continue to work on developing the materials for the art journaling course I am teaching tomorrow evening at Kensington Art Supply, I am in awe of how the muse, and life, open up full of possibility when I move out of my headspace and into being present with my whole body, mind and spirit and the world around me.

See, being present doesn’t mean we cut off the head to give our bodies control. It means being connected within our whole body and with the world around us, honouring our head brain’s ability to organize and analyze while giving the body, which includes all the senses, and organs, bones, tissues, muscles joints (and the heart) permission to feel into the ‘what is’ of the ‘right now’ and as we expand into being present where ever we’re at.

As I finished working on the piece I created yesterday for the workshop — it is the essence of what we will be working on in the workshop, with participants being guided and encouraged to create their own imagery and words — I didn’t quite know what the quote that underpinned the essence of the painting.

I started to write and thought the quote was, “Let your dreams run away with your heart”.

Nice, my little ole’ head brain thought. Short. Simple. To the point.

And then, I began to write it out. Oh. Oh. The ‘your’ was right under the bottom tip of the painted heart, and the word ‘heart’ had to move up along its right edge.

Oh dear, my facile mind thought. You messed up.

My body expanded into presence. It felt the truth and kept on writing because it knew, the quote wasn’t quite finished writing itself out.

Released from thinking I would have to figure out how to erase/cover up my mistake, suddenly, all the words flowed how they wanted to flow. In this case, up the righthand side of the heart and then back down to the bottom of the page with words that resonated throughout my being.

I didn’t ‘think’ the words into being present. They brought themselves into the moment.

When I looked at the words I was enchanted by the way they flowed up and around and down. Up and around and down again. (In spite of my head brain’s chatter that the words should be facing into the heart, yada yada yada, the symmetry made ‘sense’. The heart is simply the metaphor for being in the flow of creativity, passion, dreaming, living, being. The words are the gateway into possibility – they are not concrete. They are an invitation to let go so that I don’t stay trapped within the head space of thinking my way through living my dreams.)

The flow of the words is also a metaphor. Life is constantly expanding and contracting, in every direction.

Up and down. In and out. Out and In.

Like breath. Like the tides. Like curtains flowing in and out with the breeze blowing in through an open window. Like life.

Ebbing and flowing. Always in motion. Never contracted into this moment right now. Always releasing into the breath carrying us into the next.

Like endings and beginnings. Each ending opening up to the next moment where the beginning meets the ending in a continuous flow of life.

We all have dreams. Ideas. Visions of what we want to create in our world.

To set them free, to release them into action we must let go of thinking we can make it all happen if we just do A. B. C. We must get out of the way of our thinking and release our entire being into the flow of life. In its flow, all things are possible in ways we cannot imagine when we stay trapped in our thinking.

Namaste.