Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


Evenings are made for wondering and wandering

Evening light on the Bow

11 hours in and I am making progress. The storage area is starting to look organized… and I can find my art supplies! All of them.

Which is why, after spending 6 hours yesterday moving and dragging, unpacking and sorting, I decided it was time for a creative break.

One of my favourite things to do is to make nametags for our guests. One friend (I won’t tell it’s you Al) likes to tease me and bring his own now, just in case I forget his. Which I accidentally did once — not forget it but it got misplaced and somehow I didn’t notice!

My nametags have become part of the evening.

So, given I could find a bunch of my supplies and I wanted to make tags for Saturday night’s dinner, I delved into creativity and spent the evening painting and cutting and mounting and outlining tags for everyone.

In the process, I felt my heart fill up, my senses enliven and my being become enfused with the joy of finding myself exactly where I belong — immersed in creativity.

And when I was done, Beau and I walked up the hill to the path that follows the river and watched the sunset to the west and the waters flow eastward.

A bend in the river

Long shadows. Soft light. Gentle breeze.

An evening for dreaming and scheming, connecting with the muse and delving into what stirs my spirit with its capacity to create beauty and richness in my world.

The Hextall Bridge

Time in the studio. Time immersed in creativity. Time in nature. Time in preparation for an evening with friends and my beloved.

And again I embrace the truth of my life, I am so blessed.



The beauty of daily routine

I like the familiar. The well-worn path. The knowing of what to do next, of what is coming next, of what is on my path.

Which is why I like my morning routine.

From Where I Sit

I awaken (later than I used to which is getting to be quite lovely). I pet Beaumont for awhile (it’s hard not to, he jumps up on the bed as soon as he hears me move and lays on my stomach). I get up. Take him out for a short wander. Sit in the quiet of the morning. Meditate. Make a latte. Sit down at my computer and begin to write.

Some mornings, like today, I take a couple of photos of my world. Sometimes, it’s because I think they may go with what I write. Sometimes, it’s just because.

I’m okay with it all.

In the presence of my morning rituals, I find my pace, my rhythm, myself.

This morning, I am adding back a step in my morning ritual that I had begun before I left for the west Coast — writing my 3 pages.

I left my 3 pages journal at my daughter’s — I’d intended to keep up the practice while I was away but found myself diving headfirst into my days as my grandson rises early and I love the early morning hours with him — and the morning hours are my preferred writing time.

And the river flows

Though, with my arising time getting later, that may change too. Perhaps it is in my “Sage-ing” time is becoming less the measurement of how I spend my days.

I am also falling in love with the word and concept of “Sage-ing”. Yesterday, I signed up for an online course with Spirituality and Practice — Infusing Your Life with Creativity. The course is presented by two Elders of Sage-ing International and while my life is fairly infused with creativity, the reminder to slow down, to consciously move through my day with a creative frame is important. Plus, I love to learn new things and there’s always something to learn about being a creative and its many joys.

Which all means, I’ll be adding the coursework to my morning routine. What fun!

And today, I begin the process of clearing out the back room where all my art supplies and paraphenalia are stored, in ernest. Not a small task but cloudy skies and a keen desire to create order and make space for renewed creativity and unknown possibilities are spurring me on.

As I cleanse and clear, unpack and sort, I shall carry with me the word that I pulled from my Shell of Plenty which sits on my desk, “Joy.”

To do all things with a Joyful Heart is a beautiful gift I bestow upon myself today.

May you find joy in all things today as well.


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First you must dream

I am sitting in a coffee shop on Main Street in Vancouver with my daughter. She is working on her laptop. I am working on mine.

Around us the coffee shop hums with activity. The street outside the window is busy. In the background, I hear the sound of the coffee machine steaming. The clatter of crockery and voices.

Above our table three paintings adorn the wall. I do not know their story. I wonder if they’re just ‘finds’ the owners have placed upon the walls to give it a homey feel. They look old. Perhaps from the 40s. I decide they are a father. Mother. Daughter. They do not smile. The father looks at his wife. Sternly. The wife glances sideways at her husband. I imagine trepidation in her glance. The daughter, who hangs above the mother, looks down towards her mother’s face. She seems sad. Worried. Perhaps her parents are fighting. Perhaps she fears they will divorce. Or perhaps her mother is sick and the father does not know what to do.

And that is all the story I decide to create about them.

My grandson is with the nanny today. My daughter does not have to go into the office but has two hours of work to complete, she tells me, before we can go explore the day. Let’s do it in a coffee shop she suggests so as not to conflict with the nanny’s schedule and my grandson’s attention.

I am good with this plan.

I am good with pretty well everything these days, holding myself in that space between what is right now in front of me and dreaming of what can be when I determine it is time to breathe into my dreams of life beyond this place called, ‘recently retired’.

I am thinking alot about dreams right now. Dreams of/for my life. For what I want to do. At some future time not yet determined. At some future date not yet arrived.

I am dreaming, scheming, divining… possibility. Of what can be, will be, when my intuition rises up and I let my imagination run wild. When I dive into creation of the life I dream of beyond the life I loved when work was my focus and my world gravitated around ‘a job’.

I am dreaming of next steps, but first, I must put substance to my dream. I must know what it is I dream of so that I can see it, feel it, taste it, hear it calling my heart to awaken into its possibililities with all my senses.

First I must dream.

I am awakening to dreaming. Awakening to creating possibility where this dream I am incubating of my life after ‘work’ becomes the reality of how I live my life everyday, inspired by life itself honouring, as Albert Einstein called it, the sacred gift of my intuitive mind.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift,” said Einstein, “and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

I am falling into dreaming, falling into honouring this sacred gift where my intuition guides me into igniting my imagination and will to create the life I am dreaming of, the life I am creating.





What if…?

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

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

Week 1. Done.  Check. Next.

It makes me smile, (satirically) at myself.

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

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

I want to know. To have clarity. Certainty.

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

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

What if’s abound.

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

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

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

Ultimately, I have to care.

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

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

Now that was a bit of a surprise!

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

An interesting thought worth exploring.

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

What would happen?

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

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

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

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

Another bit of surprise on this rainy morning!

In my life I have written two complete novels.

I did little with both.

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

What if… I decided my work matters?

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






Making art is perilous. It’s also rewarding

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a useful phrase!

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

We’ll see.

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

I’m glad I did.

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


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

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

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

Yes, making art is difficult.

Not making it is even more difficult.

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

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

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

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

It was pure delight.




Let your heart run wild!

I am entering my 9th to last working day before I leave ‘the workforce’ on May 31st.

Things I notice… I feel less stressed around the daily workings of the organization. That could be because the new ED is handling it all. What is refreshing is I don’t feel any angst about not being involved in it all.

I am sleeping better.

I don’t check my emails continuously and when a staff member notifies the leadership team of something that transpired, I don’t immediately check the logs.

I am not missing being ‘the one in charge’.

I’m not missing having to make decisions.

And, I’m not feeling any regret, or fear, or concern.

All is as it should be. I am releasing.

On the weekend at my art show, several friends dropped by and inevitably someone would ask, “So… how are you feeling scared about retiring?”

My answer was always, “I’m feeling excited about my rejuvenation!”

And I am. Excited. Curious. Open.

On the weekend, someone also asked me if I would be participating in any more art shows in the fall. I haven’t got any booked, I replied, but I’ll have the time to research which ones I want to be in and to apply!

Now that’s exciting.

The art show went well. It was slow vis à vis attendees, but I still did well. My cards were a big hit as were the alochol inks. Lots of lovely affirmation from people, friends and strangers, that the work is pleasing. Exciting.

Lots of people were curious about the process. It’s probably the piece I enjoy the most. Inspiring people to try it. To play. To release fear and dive into exploration of their creativity.

I also had a number of people ask me if I would be giving courses. The answer is yes. And while I’m focussing on going the summer without ‘a plan’ or making plans for the fall, I have decided I will be launching a workshop series this fall.

I’m calling it, “The Wise Woman Workshop Series”. Recovering your magnificence through art and play.

I have a vision. An idea. A sense of how I want the workshop series to feel. Now, I just have to create the lesson plans, or as so often happens for me, allow the muse to flow freely so that the plans create themselves.

When I stay open, the muse flows joyfully.

Years ago, when I resigned my position as Director Communications at an adult homeless shelter, I took four months to simply be present in the now, to catch my breath and to heal some of the broken places within. One day I started writing a workbook on the power of poetry to heal. Three weeks later I had an entire 21 lesson workbook completed, “Right Your Heart Out”.  I had no idea that process was within me. I have no real memory of making a decision to write it, or even where the thoughts came from that created the exercises in that book. Truly, it was the muse having her way with me.

And that’s what excites me the most. Creating space for the muse and me to dance the eternal dance of exploration, inspiration and creativity.

As my eldest daughter said to me on the phone last night, “Art is the language of the soul.”

I’m excited to immerse myself in soul dancing and setting my dreams on fire.



I’m so excited! Art Show…

It’s funny/weird/nice/exciting, to see my name in a list of artists.

It’s not something I thought I’d ever experience.

I didn’t start painting until my mid-40s.  Up until then, I’d always said, I’m a writer, not an artist. I can’t draw. Have no talent that way.

Oh look at the things we can prove ourselves wrong about ourselves when we step outside of our limiting beliefs and just…. play.

That’s how painting began for me. I wanted to spend time with my eldest daughter who is an amazing artist, and painting with her seemed like a good idea.

It was brilliant!

I discovered something I am passionate about, and got to share with her in one of her passions as she also guided me in the ‘hows’ of painting. A win/win!

Today and tomorrow I am in an art show. I’ve been in this show before but had to withdraw for the past two years as life got busy and I searched for balance.

And now…. I’m back!

If your in and around Calgary over the next two days, I’d love it if you dropped by to say hello!

If not, I’ll see you here next week.

Have a beautiful weekend everyone.

Oh. And in case you’re wondering, there is still that little voice inside me that wants to leap into the excitement and hiss…. “you’re not really an artist.”

I tell him it’s okay. Calling myself an artist isn’t about putting my ego at risk. It’s not about comparing myself to others or even who likes or doesn’t like my work.  It’s about what makes my heart happy.