Category Archives: Art and creativity

Can we? Will we? Let Love Lead?

 

No. 60 #ShePersisted Series

In the spring of 2017, when Senator Elizabeth Warren was shut down in the Senate with Mitch McConnell’s statement, “She was told. She was warned. Nevertheless, she persisted.” I felt the rising up of something deep and primordial within me.

Silent for so long, I wanted to express myself. To speak to how that comment rippled down through the cells of my body, tearing apart my DNA, awakening forgotten moments of being put down, shut up and shut out by ‘the patriarchy’.

I put ‘patriarchy’ in quotation marks because I do not want you to think that I am targeting men. I am speaking of a systemic, insipid idea that has been woven into the fabric of our society, threaded through our DNA, our psyches, our lives. It is an old idea. So old, so inculcated into our human being that we don’t see it as distinct and separate from our human condition, we see it as part of who we are and how we are in the world.

Sometimes, we brush it away with comments of “Oh that’s just the way it is.” or, “You should be grateful. There are a lot of women in this world who do not have the privileges and rights you do.” Or, “Hey it could be worse! You could be…[and then we name some other being whose journey is even more fraught with peril than women’s rights.]” As if gratitude for being reluctantly granted the right to ‘being treated as equal’ will somehow wash away the blood, sweat and tears women have shed in their fight to gain a foothold in a man’s world they helped create.

The idea is simple. Men, as in the male of our species, know what to do because they have the power and the moral authority to control the world. It’s not that they want to. It’s just the way it’s always been. To maintain the balance of life on earth, all we womenfolk have to do is be grateful for what they give us and not rock the boat, too much.

Please, don’t jump all over me for stating this. As I said, I am not targeting men. I am shining a light on what that moment when Elizabeth Warren was shut down in the Senate, awoke in me.

The need, no the imperative, that I speak up. Rise up. Give up pretending I’m okay with the status quo. That I’m down with buying into the moral imperative of giving women a place at the table as long as ‘they’ get to dole out the number of seats in equal proportion to their assessment of what is right for mankind.

Discrimination, segregation, economic disadvantaging/control, sexualization of the feminine form, acts of violence perpetrated on the feminine form and on humanity, limiting or denying the rights of individuals because of their colour, sexual identity, creed, economic status… are subtle even in their overtness.

And so, I began the #ShePersisted series of paintings. My intent had been to create one or two and then move on.

Three years later, the muse keeps flowing with thoughts and ideas, the series voice still pushes at my creative expression, insisting on her right to be heard.

So, I heed her.

With the advent of Covid-19, she is becoming more insistent that we let go of our fear, our clamouring for more, our incessant building of bigger and better to the benefit of the few. She is calling out for all of us to give into the simple yet profound belief that Love is the answer.

No one person can lead the way out of this crisis. No one person has the answers.

We are, this entire planet made up of over 7+ billion humans and billions upon billions of animals and flowing rivers and oceans, icebergs and boreal forests and jungles and deserts, mountains and valleys, hills and plains. We are all spinning together in space, held fast to this place we call home by the gravity that holds us up. We are woven together by our one shared human condition.

Can we. Will we. Choose Love over Fear?

Can we. Will we. Let Love Lead?

________________

The series can be viewed HERE.

Thank you again, Miriam, for the inspiration for Let Love Lead.

 

 

Let us be like a butterfly…

There was once a little girl who was afraid of colour. To see the golden yellow of the sun, or the deep green velvet of the forest, or the vibrant hues of the garden filled her heart with fear.

Terrified of all the colour in the world, she walked through each day with her eyes squinted against the onslaught of beauty that she could not witness. Fearful of the world of colour  that bombarded her senses with every glance, she covered her ears to the songs of enchantment all around and cowered beneath the belief that she was right to cling to her fears.

“Give me black and white,” she pleaded in the darkness of her mind.

And the world closed in around her until all she saw were the shadows between the colours of the world.

I wrote the story above several years ago. It had appeared in my meditation, tendrils of thoughts whispering their away into substance.  When I opened my eyes and let the words flow, they found their substance on the page and formed themselves into story.

It is what I find most enlivening and mystical about the creative process. When I stop squinting my eyes, when I stop fearing what might be, or not be, magic and wonder happens.

When I fear, when I force or try to push the muse into a container, to direct her into this way or that, the wonder disappears and I am left feeling left out, apart, and let down, telling myself, there is no magic. There is no mystery. there is no possibility of beauty rescuing the light from the darkness.

In fear, I fall into that place where all I see is what I fear. Where all I know is what I expect to be; the mundane, the same as, the predictability of my life lived in the comfort of the darkness I crave when I let go of seeing the light in everything and everyone.

In my studio, immersed in the creative process, the world falls away into that place where all I know, all I sense, is its beauty. In that space, with my music playing, candle burning and my fingers splattered with paint, there is no world out there, there is no war, no famine, no hurricanes and definitely no virus taking the world hostage.

There is only the muse and me. Connected. Committed. Creative. And in that connection, I become part of the flow of the essential essence of the Universe. I am one with life. One creative expression flowing with the expressions of all the world around me.

In these days where a virus is shutting us into our homes and keeping us at safe but constrained, distance from one another, connecting to our creative core, expressing our gratitude in songs of joy and messages of hope, is vital to our well-being.

We are the ones who must create the path for the world to survive this viral onslaught. We can only do that together.

Staying home, keeping our distance, washing our hands, matters. To ourselves, our loved ones, friends, community. It matters to the world.

It also matters that we stay connected to the beauty, the wonder and awe of the world within ourselves and all around us. It matters that we share our best to create better for all the world.

Imagine…

We are each a butterfly fluttering our wings to create a tsunami of well-being around the world.

When we flutter our wings as one, we create One world of possibility, hope, beauty and Love.

Emotional Self-Care. Say what?

In times of high stress, self-care is essential. But, self-care is not just about doing the things that keep you entertained, active, your body fit and beautiful, and your mind interested in life and everyone around you. It’s not just about keeping ‘the body’ healthy and in good working order and ‘the thinking mind’ engaged. It’s about ensuring the whole body — the physical, mental and emotional, and spiritual self – is honoured as a collective. It’s about ensuring you are promoting well-being in all of you as a whole – from how you express yourself through your words, acts and deeds, in your thoughts and in your relationships. And, how you respond to your emotions and feelings.

When forced, as Covid-19 is doing, to change our social ways of being together, to self-isolate and draw away from human contact, it is only natural that our emotions can feel like they are all over the map. There’s no guidebook on how to do this and there is no one single human being on this planet who has done it before.

We are one human race learning how to navigate these waters together.

This is the first time for all 7+billion of us.

And our emotions are with us. They are part of us and how well we take care of them will be reflected in how we respond to the day-to-day of this crisis: Healthily. Unhealthily. Lovingly. Cruelly. Kindly. Unjustly…

Right now, there are people feeling scared, stressed, anxious, alone, frightened, cowardly, confused, bitter, resentful, resistant, sad, depressed, bombastic, arrogant, flippant, distanced, hopeless, helpless, alone… These are all natural responses to change and the unknown. To crisis and stress. To what is happening in the world right now.

It isn’t what we’re feeling that makes our world better, or worse. It’s honouring and expressing our feelings and emotions in ways that create harmony, peace, kindness, joy, love within us and all around us, that will create the change we want to see in the world.

Being able to name our emotions is the first step in honouring them.

Ask yourself, what am I feeling right now? In this moment? What am I willing to acknowledge as present? What am I avoiding?

See, I can acknowledge that I am feeling calm, present, happy even.

However, because I have a life-long aversion to admitting I am feeling sad, scared, confused… I like to avoid those emotions. When I was a little girl ‘being happy’ was how I avoided feeling sad, scared, confused by all that was going on in the world around me. I remember my father saying, “You’d better be happy! You’ve got a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes. You have no right to be sad.”

Do you think that messaging still plays out in my life today?

If I don’t take good care of my emotional self, if I do not honour ALL that I am feeling, it most definitely does — and believe me, when I am not paying attention to all my feelings and honouring them in life-giving ways, my expression of those messages is not very pretty!

There are many ways to take care of your emotional well-being.

Meditation. Breathing. Being in nature. Holding silence as a gift. Art-making. Reading. Spending time with a loved one. Talking with a friend.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help you find your emotional balance and keep you from tearing up your world.

But, in those moments when something in the here and now triggers a response from way back when we were children learning to cope with things in our world that frightened, confused, hurt us, we need to step up and get accountable for our responses.

In those moments, it is imperative to BREATHE. Slow down. BREATHE.

In those moments, you can even close your eyes when you breathe, just for a moment. BREATHE.

In those moments, one of the things that I do is I touch where my heart is with my right hand as I BREATHE.

Sometimes, I look away from whomever I’m engaged with (just for a moment) and then, return my eyes to look deeply into theirs.

Sometimes, I ask the other person to BREATHE with me. To look into my eyes as I look into theirs.

And I BREATHE.

I know how easy it is to want to take flight or fight in those moments.

BREATHE.

I know how the thinking mind wants to take over and ensure we tell the other person why it’s all their fault, how they are wrong, how they are….

Before you say anything to the other, repeat silently to yourself,:

Like me, you are struggling to cope with the unkown and stress of all that is going on.

Like me, you are feeling feelings you cannot name.

Like me, you have been scared by all of this.

Like me, you have been confused by all of this.

Like me, you are learning how to navigate all of this for the very first time.

Like me, you want to live.

Like me, you want to protect those you love and yourself, from this virus.

Like me, you’re not sure you can.

Like me, you are feeling lost, frightened and very very concerned about what the future will hold.

And then, ask yourself, “What can I do right now to create better in this situation?

What can I do to build a bridge of compassion and love between our hearts?

And then…. do that. Do that one thing you can think of that will bring you closer, not drive you apart.

And after you’ve done that one thing, do the next one thing and then the next.

Always building bridges of compassion and love.

Always drawing closer.

Always expressing your emotions in ways that do not destroy the feelings of love and joy, harmony and grace you want to have fill up your world.

Namaste

 

 

Let Love Lead

It is early morning. I cannot sleep.

I wander into the living room. Turn on my desk lamp. Light the candle  I light every morning.

Beaumont, the Sheepadoodle, raises his head from where he is asleep on the chaise beside my desk. I give him a pat. He lowers his head and closes his eyes.

I leave my desk where it sits in front of the window looking out over the river. I walk around the island, into the kitchen area. Turn on the cappuccino machine. Fill the receptacle with water.

I pull out the coffee grinder from the drawer beneath the window at the far end of the kitchen. It looks out onto our front doorstep. It is dark out there. No view of a streetlight shimmering on the river’s surface. No flash of a car’s lights crossing the bridge.

I pull out the jar of coffee beans. The grinder. I place them on the counter, measure out the beans and press down on the lid. The noise of the grinder startles Beau. He lifts his head. He watches me. Slowly rises off the chaise. Stretches and comes to stand beside me in the kitchen. I scratch behind one of his ears. He leans against my leg.

I ask if he wants to go out. He cocks his head to one side.

I move to the front door. Gather his leash which lays on top of the wicker basket that holds his towel, ball, and other doggy paraphernalia.

I throw a coat on over my pyjamas. Exchange my slippers for slip-on boots and head outside.

Beaumont hesitates for a moment on the top step. He stretches his head towards the river. Listening.

I listen with him.

In the quiet, I hear the river flowing, its gurgling sounds a welcome whisper in the dark.

On a strip of gravel that I cannot see but know lies in the river’s path, geese honk in the pre-dawn dark.

I wonder if they can find their way when there is no light.

We move off the stairs towards the road at the end of the walk. I stand in the crisp, cool air of morning not yet broken. Beau sniffs and snuffles in the frost-covered grass.

Morning has not yet awoken. Darkness rests easy in my corner of the world.

I have not read the news today. Have not yet scrolled through interminable accounts of the rising number of cases and deaths, of losses and grief. Of what’s happening where. Of measures taken. Steps missed. Decisions made. Changes unfolding.

I have not yet opened myself up to the tug of despair. The tears I am afraid to unleash for fear they will not stop. The wish I could do more, do anything to stop the infiltration of this virus infecting the world. To do something to ease the fear and panic. To soothe a troubled soul.

I breathe.

I am not ready to face the day filled with facts and stories of a virus taking the world hostage. There will be time enough for reality to rise up and stun me with the shrill cry of its presence.

For now, I breathe into the gentle awakening of dawn’s light pushing back against the dark.

In the stillness of the morning, I stretch my arms above my head and welcome in the light creeping into the night.

We are billions of little rowboats struggling to find our way, together, through these uncharted waters.

We are billions of voices and stories, eyes and hands, hearts and feet pounding a path to a better tomorrow. Together.

May we all find the courage to row as One.

And I dip my oar into the waters and begin to row.

And the waters part and I find myself moving with the water’s flow as the sun breaks across the distant horizon.

Light pushes back the dark and turns the sky rose and gold and blue.

I dip my oar into the river and am reminded that it is love that connects us. Love that supports us. Love that leads the way.

Let us row together. Let us Let Love Lead.

________________

Thank you Miriam of My Window for the inspiration for Let Love Lead.  (Sometimes, the words flow first. Sometimes, the painting.)

At all times, Love Flows.  Love leads.

Painting will follow. ❤

Love is Greater than Fear.

Love is Greater Than Fear
2020 Louise Gallagher

The river flows in one direction.
It cannot flow backwards.
Fear does not honour the river’s flow
flooding my senses with its insistence
I must heed its warnings. Give into its cacophony.

I take a breath and dive under the river’s surface.
The water is calmer here. Quieter.
The current moves me effortlessly within the river’s flow.
Gratitude rises. I float gracefully in its welcome embrace.

Gently, I lift my head to feel the air above and catch my breath.
There is so much beauty in the air above all my fear.
I dip back down beneath the river’s surface.
The memory of the beauty everywhere buoys me up.

No matter how deep or broad or high my fear,
Love is greater.

No matter how dark or long or weary the night,
Love is lighter.

And, no matter how frightened I feel,
Love is always flowing,
Constantly, eternally it flows
within and all around me.

My Tears Have No Name

My Tears Have No Name
©2020 Louise Gallagher

My tears have no name this morning
no one simple reason, no one single purpose
but to fall for all of this,
for all the world, for all of us,
for everyone and everything.

My tears do not need to be named
they are tears born of these times,
tears for these fears that walk with each of us.
They are tears for loss and grief, illness and death.
They are tears for those who are feeling lost and alone
and those who are hungry and frightened
and those who are ill
and those who are afraid that someone they love will fall.

My tears are all I have to give
to a shuttered-in world wrapped in fear.
My tears are the words I cannot speak
to a family I do not know, whose circle is broken,
a child who lost their grandfather
a son who lost their mother
a neighbour who lost a friend.

I have no words to name these feelings
my tears must speak for themselves,
and in their speaking
may they ease your pain as they ease mine
may they wash away your fear as they wash away mine
may they help relieve the burden
of being alone and isolated
of being laid off and frightened
of facing an unknown future
in a time when the future holds so much certainty
of sickness and death, loss and grief yet to come.

May my tears flow into the ocean
of your tears washing away the darkness,
letting in the light so that together,
we can see the path to where
what feels like life as we knew it ending
is actually the beginning of life that we create,
together, springing forth
out of Love for all humanity rising as One.

Creating An Oasis of Calm

At the bend, where the river curves and carves its way through the vestiges of winter’s ice, in that place where two benches wait to beckon visitors to come and sit awhile, two ducks waddle across the snow-covered ground honking for no reason but that they can. Above them, a squirrel chatters in a tree, leaping from limb to limb.

I stop to watch and listen. I stop to breathe and bear witness.

I needed to stop. To standstill. To breathe in the fresh cool air redolent of spring to come. I needed to stop and be present to all the life that was happening in that moment where the river flowed through the ice, the ducks waddled past and the squirrel flew through the air.

In these uncertain days of a virus hellbent on disrupting life as we know it, of lives shuttered in homes under fear’s relentless onslaught and incident counts climbing, I needed that moment of calm. That moment unburdened of anything but the beauty
of nature flowing by, the wonder of ducks walking past and the magic of a squirrel leaping.

I needed to stop. I needed to be reminded of life, and nature, and beauty.

______________________

I took a day off from the studio yesterday. And, while I did not create in that space, I baked bread and wrote the above piece about a photo I took on one of my walks with Beaumont. I spent half an hour watching the Live VideoCam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (meditative and calming),  I did some yoga. Checked in with family and friends via phone and Facetime and watched Coldplay’s Chris Martin’s Instagram pop-up concert (delightful!)

I also started working on a weekly art challenge to share with everyone — Creative Daring (more to come on that one — it was my eldest daughter’s suggestion) and spent some time exploring the Musee D’Orsay via the internet as well as reading a novel.

It is all part of my commitment to add calmness and beauty to the world. To create spaces of serenity and ease. To be the change I want to see.

It doesn’t mean fear doesn’t lurk at the edges of calm, seeking a crack through which to slip in and play havoc with my peace of mind.

Doesn’t mean I am zen-like in my aplomb.

It does mean that I am consciously feeding my peace of mind what is healthy and calming. I am actively disengaging from the constant scouring of the news I was prone to lapse into before I ‘got conscious’.

Fear leads to panic. Naming my fears leads to knowing them, and knowledge is invaluable — not the knowledge that comes from feasting on news reports of the latest statistics and growing crises around the world — but the kind of knowledge that reminds me of my own power to create ripples of calm, joy, beauty all around me and within me.

So that’s one of the other things I did yesterday — I named my fears.

I wrote them out on a piece of paper.
Studied them. Acknowledged them.
Welcomed them in and let them know —
I see you. I hear you. I know you.
I appreciate that you believe that in your presence you are only trying to keep me safe. I get it.

Please hear me.
I’ve got this.
You can rest now.
My loving self is in charge. My peace of mind is rising up to embrace you and all of me in its caring, considerate, calming arms.
I am okay.

I felt better after I’d done it. Sure, some of my fears feel real, like they’re of substance.

Fact is, they are all based on the unknown. Based on ‘what if’s’ and ‘oh no’s’ that run rampant through my thoughts when I let my fears take the reins of where my mind wants to go when fear-driven.

Fact is, whatever happens, will happen. My job is to ensure I am doing all the right things, right now, to create love and harmony, peace and calm, and above all, well-being, in my world around me. This world where my beloved and I share our home, our lives, our love.

In this space, whatever happens next has a better chance of being something I choose, not something imposed on me.

Knowing I am doing whatever I can to create an oasis of calm (and good health) in my life and our home, gives me great peace of mind, and strengthens my capacity to weather all kinds of weather.

What are you doing to take care of you? What are your tips for creating an oasis of calm in your world today?