About Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

What I Want.

What I Want.
 ©2021  Louise Gallagher
 
 I want to live in wonder
 to see the world 
 fresh
 as a new born 
 slippery wet and squirming
 from the birth canal
 falling 
 into arms of love
 holding me 
 safely
 wrapped in swaddling cloth
 sewn with velvety silken
 streams of laughter and joy
 flowing all around me.
 
 I want to live in the awe
 of life 
 unfolding
 right here, right now
 in this moment
 giving birth 
 to possibilities awakening
 within the unfathomable beauty
 of the world
 pounding through my veins
 pumping 
 my heart
 full 
 of the mystery of this morning
 reincarnating itself
 within the dark
 of night passing through
 star lit skies
 and moonbeams streaming
 into day
 bursting 
 at the seams
 of my anticipation 
 of the wonder
 of it all 
  
 when I open my eyes, wide
 and stretch my arms even wider
 to that place 
 where my heart
 breaks
 wide 
 open
 to catch falling
 stars
 rain drops
 and tears
 
 I want to scream
 above the howls
 of wolves on full moon nights
 and wind swept mountain tops
 don’t you dare 
 cry 
 for me Argentina
 
 there are
 no tears needed
 to wash away
 this wonder 
 of living
 beyond the limitations
 of my fear
 unravelling
 in the fullness
 of every courageous step
 I take 
 to drive me
 far from that place where I believe 
 fear
 will keep me safe
 from feeling 
 the slings and arrows of fate
 
 there is no arrow 
    that can pierce my heart
 when my heart is open
 
 there is no riptide 
    that can pull me under
 when my arms are open wide
 
 and there is no wind
 that can blow me over
 when I stand strong
 
 strong enough to hold on
 to only love 
 
 because I know
 there is nothing to fear
 but fear itself 
 
 and I am born to be
 wild
 wild 
 beautiful 
 free.
  
 I am born
 born to be free
 to cry and laugh and say
 I love you because
 I love you is my battle cry
 my morning song
 my heart's delight
 and nothing can stop me
 singing

 I am fearless 
 and fierce enough 
 to let life
 get the best
 of me
 because that 
 that is what I want
 to live 
 in the endless wonder
 of being me. 

Strong back. Soft front.

©2021 Louise Gallagher
Mixed media on canvas paper – 7 x 10″

The Sunday after the 2016 election my daughter, Alexis, and I attended Jazz Vespers at St. Andrews-Wesley United Church in Vancouver.

We needed to do something… hopeful.

The results of the US election had stunned us. Taken us by surprise and lead us down a dark alley towards a sea of confusion.

Jazz Vespers was the antidote to our despair.

I still remember the words of Rev. Gary Pattison who led the service. “Jesus Christ loves Donald Trump,” he said. “I’m glad he does because I’m not there. Yet.”

Four years later I wonder if Gary got there.

I didn’t.

I feel compassion for the child who never knew love. I pray for a miracle to heal the man. But love him?

I take a breath.

I do not write of politics. I do not write of religion or the economy or issues that consume weeks of headline news. I write of our human condition. Because, no matter the political, religious or economic times, it is we, the humans of this world, who create the climate for goodness, or darkness, to prevail.

Which is whyI am not writing about the man. I am writing of my response to how I felt yesterday as I sat and watched the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America. Our neighbours. Our closest ally. Our partners along the longest undefended border in the world.

I didn’t watch the inauguration on the same date in 2017.

I couldn’t.

I was far from Rev. Pattison’s kind of love and far from being able to do what a professor in a social justice course I took long ago said was necessary to change the world. “Until you love the Hitler in you,” he said, “you cannot love all humanity.”

I so want to be that person. The one who can love the human condition without falling into measuring someone’s worth as lacking because I am standing on my self-righteous pulpit judging their humanity and deeming it unworthy of redemption.

We are all worthy of redemption. And I wonder, is redemption the miracle that transforms blindness to sight, deafness to hearing and heartlessness to giving a damn?

And I hear the sinister whisper of my self-righteousness crawling across my skin. It is vile, that whisper. It would have me believe that it is The Man who makes the country. The Man who determines the heart of its people. The Man who is everything.

On that November day in 2016, when Rev. Pattison gave his homily at Jazz Vespers he stated, clearly and unequivocally, “We must stand with strong backs and soft fronts.”

For the past four years, I struggled to stand with a soft and open heart while keeping my back strong so that I could stand up for what was right and just without tearing down those who stood against me. Just as I struggled to believe there was hope in the darkness, a light at the end of the tunnel.

For the past four years, I have lost heart.

Yesterday, I was reminded that the sun is not gone because clouds cover the sky nor does my heart stop beating while I’m sleeping nor when I’m afraid.

Yesterday, I felt the delicate embers of hope begin to burn in my heart again. The embers that had begun to glow when Mr. Biden was declared President Elect last November.

Yesterday, I felt myself exhale and breathe in deeply.

Neither Trump nor Biden are my President.

But as a citizen of this world, as a neighbour to America, I look at what is called the self-evident truths of their declaration of independence as a beacon of hope in a sometimes dark and messy world. And while their path to equality and freedom has been fraught with missteps and peril, the intent to get there, the commitment to do the hard things was always part of what I believed was possible. Because, I believed America would do the right thing, even when it was hard.

For the past four years I have doubted. I have faltered.

I have hope again.

Yesterday, I watched the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America and Kamala Harris as Vice-President.

I cried. I smiled. I cheered. I bowed my head and prayed.

Today, I stand strong of back, soft of front. Today, I believe all things are possible.

As to loving Donald Trump. I leave that up to God.

January Flowers

Here on the prairies at the eastern foot of the Canadian Rockies, January days are full of harsh winter light in a cloudless blue sky.

The land is grey on black on white. Leafless trees stand stark. Barren gardens lie silently waiting for spring beneath a blanket of snow. Prairie grasses rustle dry and brittle in the crisp winter air.

It is there, amidst the frozen landscape lying dormant beneath a January sun, I paint, my palette loaded with all the colours of the rainbow.

Playing with colour distracts my mind from world events and disheartening news of death counts and violence, changes in governments and travel restrictions and weather-forecasters’ foreboding messages of a Polar Vortex about to descend.

It is there, on the palette, I am reminded that my power lies not in my ability to change the whole world but to create beauty in my own. In that act of creation, I set in motion a ripple of beauty flowing within me and out into the world all around me.

It is there I remember that the power of art to awaken nascent possibilities for humanity to find peace, love, joy, together, is not transitory. It is always present.

To awaken it, to be present within and to it, I must keep my attention on the things I want to grow stronger in my life.

Let my attention be on creating joy, love, harmony.

Let my attention be on sharing peace and love with all the world around me.

Namaste

___________________________

I have been feeling unsettled. Discordant notes of anxiety burble up into my consciousness, creating ripples of unease within my peace of mind.

Much of my unease is initiated because I keep returning to newsfeeds that do little to create confidence in humankind’s ability to create better. I tell myself I must stop only to catch myself awhile later falling down the rabbit hole of yet another story about some political, environmental, economic or pandemic related story dragging me into the darkness.

I turn away, come back to the palette and begin again.

Practice they say makes perfect.

I am feeling very practiced at dragging myself out of the darkness, though I am getting tired of the dance!

Yesterday, I desperately needed the distraction of working on small things to help bring myself back into the present moment unfolding right in front of me.

I am grateful for my art practice. Grateful for my beautiful studio where I can find my balance again amidst the noise of the world around me.

How do you find your balance? What do you do to distract yourself from the world ‘out there’ so that you can find peace, harmony and joy within?

Two Haiku

Written sitting at my desk this morning as I watched the sky shift from dark to light.
Mixed media on canvas paper. 7 x 10″

I enjoy putting words to my paintings. Yesterday, when I had finished this one, my beloved asked me, “What kind of berries are those?”

Red, I replied.

And thus…. a haiku was born.

This morning, as I sat at my desk and watched the night sky fade into reds and rose and blue, I snapped the first photo.

And another haiku was born.

_____________

I am fascinated by the haiku form — both by its endurance through so many centuries and its compactness inviting the author/reader to say something about nature and life in so few words — the form is precise – three lines with a syllable count of 5 / 7 / 5 to equal 17 syllables in total.

From the website, Poets.org“the philosophy of haiku has been preserved: the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment.”

It’s a great form to test and stretch your creative muscles.

____________

The painting of the berries was an experiment with watercolours, acrylic ink, spray ink and Inktense watercolour pencils.

Is This The Way?

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Prosery prompt: 144 words

Is This The Way

She set out knowing where she was going.

Out the front door, left at the end of the walkway where it joined the main sidewalk, straight through the first intersection then the next. At the third her memory faltered. “Is it right at this one?” she wondered.

That’s when the man standing at the same intersection said, “Turn left.”  

She studied him carefully. Handsome. Kind blue eyes. “Oh yes,” she smiled and said with a girlish laugh. “Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy I doubt the path in front of me.”

“I will walk with you so there is no doubt,” he said as he led her along the street.

“How do you know where I’m going?” she asked.

Gently he guided her and said, “I’m your husband, dear. I’ve been helping you get where you’re going for sixty-two years.”

___________________________

Dale at A Dalectable Life always inspires me with her ability to reply to writing prompts — particularly those that have a set number of words and a ‘must use’ phrase.

Today, I saw this Prosery Prompt at D’Verse and had to play!

The rules and prompt are:

“Write a story of 144 words or less (not including the title). The story must have a beginning and an end, and should not be poetry. Sounds easy enough right? Here’s the twist: You must use the poetry line I have given you within your story. You may alter the punctuation, but you must use the line in its entirety.”

Today, the chosen line is taken from Spring Azures from the book Wild Geese by Mary Oliver:

‘Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy,’

Listen to It All

  Listen to It All
 ©2021 Louise Gallagher
  
 I want to listen
 to it all
 to the sun rising
 into the indescribable blue of infinity
 full of whispering clouds floating
 within the sweet nothingness of
 endless sky falling
 into the story of forever 
 kissing the far-off horizon
 where it dips down to touch
 the untold mysteries of the sea 
 diving deep
 deep into the silence
 of the womb
 of mother earth’s divine creation.
  
 I want to feel 
 it all
 deeper than my skin
 peeled back
 to reveal
 my blood flowing red
 my heart beating wild
 in love with the ecstasy
 of being alive
 in this world
 of beginnings and endings
 forever tied up in the stories we tell
 so that we do not have
 to listen
 to the beauty of the silence
 that yearns to be heard
 above the cacophony of our human noise.
  
 I want to listen
 without knowing
 I am listening
 to anything
 other than life
 unfurling
 in all its mysterious beauty
 and unfathomable cruelty
 impregnating the darkness and the light
 with the wholeness
 that rises up
 to embrace me
 when I listen
 deeply
 to it all. 

The Squirrel Hunter (an SWB story)

Me: Beaumont. We need to talk.

Beau: I’m busy.

Me: Beau….

Beau: Yah. Yah. Yah. Whatever.

Me: Beaumont. This is serious.

Beau: Taking me to the groomers and inflicting all that brushing and fluffing on me is serious Louise. If what you wanna talk about is what I think you wanna talk about, well that’s not serious. It’s just dawgie nature.

Me: Catching a squirrel isn’t serious?

To read the rest of Beau’s misadventure with a squirrel, click HERE to go to Sundays with Beaumont (I know! A dawg with a blog! Imagine! 🙂 ) He hopes to see you there!

If I Could…

Mixed media – 7 x 10″ on mixed media paper. (Collage, stamps, inks, acrylic paint and love)
 
 
 If I Could Give You My Heart
 ©2021 Louise Gallagher
  
 If I could 
 I would give you my words
 plump and full of
 promises
 dancing in the ecstasy
 of never having to leave
 you 
 without words
  
 If I could 
 I would paint you the sunrise
 bold and fiery
 colours streaking across the sky
 full of morning delight
 threaded with gold
 melting like butter
 upon a piece of warm buttered toast
  
 If I could 
 I would sing you a song of sunset
 full of sun-bathed mountains
 stretched out across the horizon
 like a dragon 
 sleeping
 at the edge of the world
 where sky tumbles into the sea
 and the moon rises high
 and pulls the night up into a sky
 full of stars falling like snow
 melting your dreams awake
  
 If I could
 give you my heart
 would you listen
 deep
 to the beat of its silence
 echoing throughout the vastness 
 of time wooing your fear
 of falling
 asleep
 like a lullaby
 spun into a cradle of love
 that can never break
  
 If I could 
 give you my heart
 would you listen
 deep? 

Yesterday, I entered my studio without any clear idea of what I wanted/needed to create or without having heard what the muse was whispering into creation.

I opened my art journal to a blank page. Threw down some colour and text and lines. And took a breath.

A deep one.

I closed my eyes, let my conscious mind sink down, down, into the crucible of my belly, into the font of where creativity rises up to inspire, cajole, exhort me into being wildly, joyfully present to all that is present where ever I’m at.

And that’s when I felt the murmurings.

Of words. Of song. Of flowers and trees and birds and life flowing.

I started to draw and paint and when I was finished, she appeared.

I told C.C. “She’s my Frida Kahlo meets Marie Antoinette.” He laughed and asked, “Where’s the cake?”

“Her cake is the words she spins into stories the flowers breathe in,” I replied. (I might even have been a little flippant. But the muse didn’t care…)

And thus, the words appeared… Her words grew into the stories flowers told to chase away grey skies and cloudy days.

_________

This morning, when I sat down at my desk, I didn’t know what I was going to write.

I closed my eyes, took in a breath and watched it sink with my conscious mind floating on air down, down, down into the crucible of my belly. The busy places in my heart grew still. The stuck places melted… and that’s when I felt the murmurings.

Of words dancing and sunrises melting and hearts listening deeply and breaking open to love.

And the words guided my heart into creative expression.

Namaste

Learn and Grow.

When my first article was published in my mid-30s, I didn’t believe I’d ever be ‘a writer’. At least not out there in the ‘real’ world. And then, my first feature article was published in a magazine and there I was, a ‘real’ writer. (OK. In my defence, I don’t think being published makes you any more or less a writer – but getting paid to write did help my writer’s confidence!)

When I started painting in my mid-40’s I didn’t know I could, especially since most of my life I’d told myself I had no artistic ability. And then, I picked up a paintbrush, dabbed it into a pot of paint, smeared it on a canvas and fell in love with visual-storytelling.

In my 60s now, I still want to learn new things to fall in love with.

Like video-making.

Using the tools at hand, my art, my words, my smartphone and laptop, I have been playing with creating videos of my artwork, both process and finished product.

Recently, I created a mini-movie of one of the mini-art journals I made in a series I’m working on, A Book of Seasons.

While creating it, I learned many things. Like, lighting is everything when filming a mini-art journal and because I’m not all that comfortable with my recorded voice my discomfort makes my voice sound ‘fake’. Learning to become comfortable with how I sound when recorded is a constant journey of practice and… learning to love myself without fearing I will be judged harshly by others. Because, my discomfort with how I sound is not founded on what I think, it’s based on what I fear others will think.

Good learning. Good growth opportunity.

See, even before I became a published writer, I worried others wouldn’t like my words, which meant they wouldn’t like me. And needing people to like me was not healthy for me. It meant I was measuring my worth on what other people thought of what I was doing and saying instead of being comfortable with myself and authentic in how I am in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s lovely if people like me – it’s just not healthy when the need for others to like me overshadows my being authentic and real, honest and true to my values, principles and beliefs – and my creative expressions.

Which brings me back to creating videos.

I’ve been having fun.

And as my friend Rod Winkler likes to remind me, having fun is important! So is not taking myself too seriously, a trap I can fall into when I’m learning something new.

Like the painting above. Yesterday, I decided to stretch myself and paint something almost realistic. I don’t tend to paint realism. I’d like to believe it’s because I prefer the abstract but the ‘honest truth’ (that’s such a contradictory expression isn’t it?). I think it’s because I’m afraid whatever I paint won’t look ‘real’ so I don’t do it.

Looking at my painting of the vase of lilies I can see how I can improve on the flowers. I can also see how I need to celebrate what I created.

It’s the yin-yan of learning/doing something new.

I want to do it perfect the first time knowing it takes practice and repetition to learn something new and grow my expertise as well as my knowledge base.

See, I don’t lose what I already know when I paint ‘realism’. I simply expand my skillset and my capacity to see the world in different lights.

Learn and grow.

It is my mantra for this year. It is the perfect accompaniment to my word for 2021 – “UNFURL”.

To unfurl, I must grow. To grow, I must learn to be comfortable with the imperfect nature of life, and learning something new so that I can keep growing.

Keep learning. Keep growing.

____________________________

And… this is the video I created of my A Book of Seasons mini-art journal.

Stop. Breathe. Listen.

This year has been heralded in with doing some things differently.

Like Beaumont the Sheepadoodle’s first saunter in the morning.

Up until the week between Christmas and New Year’s, my practice was to let him out the studio door on the lower level of our home to do his little wee and then, off to the park we’d go at 8:30 for our ‘big walk’ and his ‘big business.’

Determined to get my 10,000 steps in every day, I have changed it up. When I awaken, sometime between 6 and 7 am, (even there I’ve shifted as 7 used to be ‘sleeping in’ for me), the first thing I do is bundle up in my longest coat (I’m usually still in my pj’s), don a hat and gloves and winter boots, put Beau’s harness on him and with his extendable leash in hand, off we go for a saunter of at least 2,000 steps. It gives him time to do his big and small business, and it gives me a fresh awakening to the day (not to mention the first chunk of my daily 10,000 steps goal).

Sniffing everything on his path, walking with his ‘hooman’, checking out the geese along the river bank makes Beau’s heart sing.

Walking in the envelope of morning between dark and light awakens me to the beauty of the day and the world around me. The fresh crisp air on my face. The light shimmering on the river’s fast-moving surface. The crunch of snow beneath my feet – stir my senses and open my heart to the beauty of the morning’s song inviting me to take notice of the world all around me and breathe it in deeply. It awakens my heartsong.

In every heart there is a song. A unique beat that calls to each of us with its beguiling invitation to dance, to sing, to live boldly and realize our heart’s desires with every wild, unstoppable expression of our being here on this earth.

It begins with listening to the songs of the forest, the river, the world around calling us to…

Stop.

Breathe.

Listen.

No matter what you are doing today, I hope you take time to hear the trees and the earth, the rivers and ocean, sea and sky calling you to Stop. Breathe. Listen.

In the listening, I hope you hear your heartsong calling you to come alive and dance to the beat of your own rhythm as you set yourself free to express your heart’s desires.

_____________________________________

About the artwork:

Along with carving stamps (which is another thing I’m doing differently), I have been playing with making my own stencils. The birds are a stencil I drew and then cut from one sheet of soft foam. The background is made with acrylic inks, collage and a stencil of trees layered over many times with spray inks.

7 x 10″ mixed media on canvas paper.