Stop What You’re Doing!

“Stop doing what you’re doing to avoid doing what you need to start doing to do the things you want to do.”

Huh?

I can’t see her as I lay beneath a blanket of bath bubbles this morning at 5:00 am. I have been up since 4. Trying to get back to sleep.

Trying didn’t work so I decided to pour myself a bath, while also hoping it was too early for my mother to awaken from ‘the other side’ and come for a visit.

No such luck.

Except, I can’t see her. Only hear her.

And that was her message. The ‘stop avoiding and get doing’ call to action.

And then, the working title of this book I’ve been struggling to write (okay avoiding writing) pops into my mind, “What Her Mother Knew.”

I smile when I see it floating into view.

As a child, the book that most impacted me was “What Katie Did.” It’s the story of an English girl who falls off the roof of her home and is forced to spend her days in a wheelchair. She didn’t let it hold her down. She persevered in her desire to create joy in her life and the lives of everyone around her.

I loved her optimistic attitude. I loved how she overcame obstacles and her stubborn defiance of those who said, “You can’t do that.” Katie did it anyway.

Along with Pollyanna, my second favourite book, and The Parent Trap which my middle sister and I spent days upon days re-enacting, I always believed no matter how dark the day, the sun was still shining behind those grey skies.

When I look back on it now, I understand why those stories meant so much to me. Katie was encumbered with a disability that she did not let destroy her. Pollyanna always saw possibility and in the Parent Trap, twins separated at birth discover their love really is the strongest glue of all.

Growing up, for a whole bunch of reasons and a whole lot of circumstances that I struggled to make sense of, I believed, deep within me, that I was a mistake, unwanted, a constant disappointment, and, that somewhere in the creation of me, the universe got confused and replaced my egg with that of a weirdo. Which meant, I always believed I didn’t fit in or belong in my family circle.

I mean seriously, I always knew I was born one day after the day my mother wanted me to come into this world, and I was a girl. My father lost $20 and a case of beer because of my mistake in gender. All of which meant, I wasn’t wanted.

Of course, those were just my child’s mind creating stories (the date and losing the bet were true btw) to make sense of a world that didn’t make sense to me — and while in the end, those are now just stories, not my truth, those books impacted me and helped me cope. They also helped me define what kind of person I wanted to be in this world.

Which brings me back to my mother’s voice wafting through the candlelight and smell of eucalyptus in the bathroom this morning as I lay soaking in the tub.

The opening of the story wrote itself as I lay there. The outline of its journey became clear.

And… to start doing what I need/want to be doing, I shall be pulling away from writing here in the mornings.

I’ll drop in, I mean you are all part of my story and my journey. But it will be different — I’ll be reposting photos with quotes I’ve written over the years. But long posts — if you find me here doing those — tell me to get doing what I’m avoiding doing.

Thanks!

The Unholy Nature of Glitter-Götterdämmerung

Homemade twine star – with glitter (alas)

Glitter.

It’s pretty. Sparkly. Festive. Fun!

And it’s toxic to the environment.

It gets everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Not just on your skin and clothes and dog’s fur, but our rivers, lakes, and oceans too.

Microplastics, which glitter is comprised of, litter oceans and have been found lining the stomachs of fish and birds.

And another horrible thing about glitter… if it’s on your wrapping paper, it can’t be recycled. It just adds to the world of garbage pollution already out there.

Scientists say glitter won’t tip the scales on climate change, but, eliminating it from our homes is one small thing we each can do to contribute to not tipping the scales on climate change further into the disaster zone.

Which is why glitter is now off my studio table (and I might be going into withdrawal). But I need to do more to treat my world, this planet we share as sacred, holy space. And to do that, I am beginning with foregoing my annual glitter-fest. Because, when I think about it (which is not at all a pleasant thought) I’ve already contributed to years worth of Glitter- Götterdämmerung.

My awakening to Glitter-Götterdämmerung is happenstance.

I’ve been making ornaments for our 2nd Annual Outdoor Fir Tree Festooning, and, as is my way come this most wonderful time of the year, I’ve been glittering up my creations.

Until it struck me that I might want to check into how much glitter is sprinkled on everything at this most wonderful time of the year. And so, I asked Dr. Google

Dr. Google had lots to say. All of which awoke me to the seriousness of the situation. I was violating one of the five principles I strive to live by – “Do No Harm.”

Because seriously, how much harm is not the issue.

The issue is, glitter harms the environment. Full stop. End of story.

Sure, I could rationalize my use by saying it doesn’t do as much harm as plastic bottles or bags, but that would just be me rationalizing my doing harm.

And so, I am introducing a ‘no new glitter’ rule into our household, which also means my studio.

I say, ‘no new’, because I’ve already created harm with the decorations I created over the weekend. (see the photo above)

When we know better, we do better.

I didn’t think to ponder the question “What about that glitter stuff?” when I first began to create. — My excitement of entering into ‘this most wonderful time of the year’ got the better of me.

Which in and of itself is a cautionary environmental tale.

I can’t/we can’t, the environment can’t afford any of us doing things without first asking the question, “How much am I harming my world, my planet, the air and trees and rivers and earth? How much harm am I doing?”

And then take steps back from the edge.

I’m stepping back, moving once again into living by my principles to create the more of what I want to see in the world — less pollution, healthier rivers, streams, forest, flora and fauna.

Now… what to do with all those viles of glitter I already own is a much larger question I need to investigate. ‘Cause however I dispose of them, I will be creating harm.

And that’s a hard microplastic to swallow.

Namaste

If Only She Had Wings (a story)

Far away, at the edge of the land where it meets the sea, there lived a young woman who believed she could fly.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” the townspeople said when she stood at the edge of the cliff to test her belief. “Birds fly. Humans stay walking on the ground.”

The young woman did not believe that was the only way to be human. Every night before going to bed, she did push-ups and lifted weights to strengthen her wings.

And every night before falling asleep she whispered to the dream fairies, “Let my dreams be filled with flight.”

And every night the dream fairies flitted into her sleep, scattering visions of flying and soaring into her dreams.

And in the morning, she would awaken, repeat her exercises and go out to the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean far below to test the strength of her wings.

One day, as the young woman stood at the edge of the cliff lifting her arms up and down like the seagulls high above, a little girl approached and asked, “Why are you standing here flapping your arms?”

The young woman, surprised that a child would even have to ask such a question, replied without stopping what she was doing. “Practising flying.”

The child watched for a few moments longer before saying, “Well that’s silly. Why don’t you just leap?”

The young woman stopped lifting her arms up and down. She gazed down at the little girl where she stood looking up at her. Sky blue eyes met sky blue eyes. Flaxen hair floated around her face just as hers floated in the morning breeze.

The child smiled up at her and the young woman felt all her fears of falling come crashing into her like the waves crashing against the cliffs below.

“What if I fall?” she asked the little girl.

“What if you don’t?” the little girl replied as she threw her arms wide and cast her body off the edge of the cliff.

The young woman watched, wide-eyed and breathless, as the child’s body floated gracefully on the air, catching the breeze and letting it carry her down to the surface of the waves before lifting her up and up and up to the top of the cliff.

In awe, the young woman watched the child land effortlessly back on the cliff beside her.

“See! It’s easy,” said the child.

And the young woman took a deep, deep breath and spread her arms wide.

And stopped.

“I don’t think I can,” she said as tears welled up in her eyes and rolled down her face.

And the child shrugged her shoulder and smiled and said, “That’s okay. One day, you will stop practicing and cast your doubts to the wind and follow me!”

And with that, the child leapt from the cliff and soared with the seagulls flying high.

Watching and wishing she could, the young woman slowly lowered her arms and turned away from the cliff. Shoulders hunched, feet dragging along the dusty trail, she began the long walk back to the village.

“It is not the townspeople who doubt,” she said to herself. “It’s me.”

And she stopped and repeated it to herself. “It’s not the townspeople who doubt. It’s me.”

And she kept repeating it and repeating it until realization dawned. “I’ve been hiding behind practising flying because I doubt I can actually do it!”

Full of the awareness of the power of her doubts to tie her to the ground, she stopped walking away from the edge, turned quickly around and began running towards the cliff. Arms spread wide, she screamed and laughed and yelled loud and fierce as she cast her body over the edge.

And as her feet left the ground, her wings unfurled and she began to fly.

And that’s where you’ll find her today. Far from the edge of fear, wings unfurled, soaring amidst her dreams and dancing in the lightness of being free from doubt.

She dares to nourish her dreams with flights of fancy

Dream big…. or go home.

I remember a boss saying that many years ago. A lot. He was an entrepreneur, building a tech company on what he called a ‘wing and a prayer’. The prayer being that what he saw as a future need, or pent-up-demand, as he called it, would be real.

It wasn’t. But that’s a whole other story.

What this story is about, scratch that, what my story is about, is learning to not only believe, but trust in my dreams. To feed them reality and flights of fancy in just the right measures to give them wings to fly!

Yesterday, I met for tea and a chat with the beautiful, soulful Kerry Parsons of The Academy of Emerging Women. Not to mention a visit with Toby, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle’s brother. (and no. I did not take Beau. Two of them romping together in a confined space is one Sheepadoodle too many!)

Covid has interrupted some of my most meaningful relationships. Kerry and I haven’t visited in a while, yet, as always, in her lit presence, my heart felt like it was coming home and I came away feeling inspired, full of ideas, and radiating with dreams.

The piece above was partially completed when I left for our tea. When I got home, I knew exactly where it was leading me. I sat down at my studio table and dove in, adding colour and marks, working on the woman’s face until finally, I felt complete.

When I began this piece I had an idea for a quote, “In a world of conformity, she dares to stand out.”

By the time I finished with the art, I realized that, while I really like that quote, it is not what this #SheDares woman is saying to me.

I worked on the quote some more, settling on “She dares to heed her dreams’ urgings to spread her wings and fly.

Better.

And then I dreamt on it.

This morning, I sat down at my desk believing in the quote and its meaning that had become clear to me while I slept.

“She dares to nourish her dreams with flights of fancy.”

The Message

Dreams yearn for space, air, and the breath of possibility constantly flowing through and in and amongst their delicate, sacred promise of what can be, if only…

Dreams are not static things grounding you in their weighty matters. They don’t fit in a box or work best when tied to order and predictability.

Dreams don’t grow in the ground. They take to the skies. They seek sea-infused air bathing them in sun-speckled imagination wafting through their feathery tendrils filling them with light and joy and unlimited hope.

Dreams yearn for flights of fancy. That’s how they find the courage to unfurl and expand into beautiful wings of possibility dancing on rainbow streams coming to life in all the colours of your dreams come true.

She Dares to Capture the Beauty in all Life’s Imperfections

I have been an infrequent visitor to my studio lately. Life and all its happenings, projects to complete that don’t require paint but do require creative presence, new 3 days a week work for a not-for-profit (I’m loving it!), visiting my grandchildren as often as I can (and my daughter and son-in-love too!) plus just day-to-day living with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and my beloved, have consumed me.

And then there’s the vegging-out piece. You know. The “I’m too tired to dive into creative expression. I think I’ll spend time amidst others’ expressions!” Which means flipping open my laptop and losing myself in some Netflix/Prime fodder.

I tell myself, “It’s okay. You deserve the break.”

But here’s the real deal.

It’s not a ‘break’ when it is stealing my sense of balance, wholeness, centredness.

It is not a break when it pulls me away from what I love doing – exploring my creative expression.

So, I’ve made a deal with myself.

I give myself space to ‘veg-out’ if I first let out what is calling to be expressed. Because I know this very deeply within me — there is always something calling to be expressed, even when I pretend I can’t hear it or feel it!

And, because I’m pretending I don’t know it’s there, I allow myself to become lost in movie fodder.

So here’s my deal — it’s okay to ‘veg-out’ if I first let-out some artsy fodder in my studio!

Now… you may want to say, “Give yourself a break Louise. Everyone needs time-out.”

And it’s true. We do.

But I know me.

I am a ‘compulsively-excessive’ personality. I get into things and can’t/won’t/don’t stop. Which means… if I start a series on Netflix, I don’t stop until I’m done – even if it’s a crap series. Just ask my beloved – He suggested a series to me on the weekend and I said, “I don’t dare start a new series. I’ll get trapped in it and I don’t want to get lost. Again” I just finished watching 4 seasons of a terrible series — but I wouldn’t stop watching it!

So… rather than taunting myself with the idea I can only watch 1 episode, I simply do not begin!

Problem solved. 🙂 For now.

In the meantime, I am feeling so much more alive and enlivened after working in my studio all weekend on bookmarks that I include with every purchase of my “She Dares Boldly” desktop calendar, and then, diving into more images and quotes for the #SheDaresBoldly series.

I am cultivating my capacity to ‘let go and let become’ to allow that which is seeking to be expressed, appear.

I am cultivating my trust in the process of allowing the ‘I wonder if I do this…’ and then doing whatever that wonderment is just to see what will happen. Like using pastels through a stencil over inks — cool!

And, I am cultivating the habit of turning up for myself, everyday at my studio table in a state of excitement, curiosity, fearlessness and gratitude.

Excitement ignited by the mysteries I’m about to explore.

Curious about what will happen when I simply let go and be present.

Fearless in my willingness to listen deeply to my intuition (and the muse) and not judge nor doubt (or try to manipulate) their voice.

And Gratitude for this magical, mysterious, mystical world in which I have the privilege to play and be and create and learn and grow and experience and capture such richness, aliveness and beauty.

Namaste

She dares to steer her course into the extraordinary

In a sea of ordinary, she dares to steer her course into the extraordinary.

Thank you everyone for your kind words, your thoughts, ideas and empathy.

My ring is still missing but, as I often do when I’m feeling turbulent inside (and the wind is howling outside, which it is) I go into my studio and dive into curiosity and creativity, allowing whatever is seeking to appear, come to light.

The muse was all about exploring the question… “I wonder what would happen if I…”

In this case, the ‘if I’s’ were all about mixing different media to see what might happen.

Layer upon layer. Additions. Subtractions. Layer upon layer.

Like life. We try on a new pair of shoes and if they don’t fit, we try a different pair.

My art process yesterday worked the same. I tried spray inks and acrylic inks on top. Gesso through a stencil. Inkpad on top. Again and again and again.

No hesitation.

No judgment.

No groans of disappointment.

Just pure, unabandoned experimentation.

Because… in a world where confusion, disarray, and dismay become the ordinary tidings of our days, sailing into a rainbow world of magic and mystery is a wonderful way to transform every day into something extraordinary!

Namaste.

Missing. Not Lost… yet…

For our fifth anniversary, C.C., my beloved, gave me a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring. I promptly removed my original wedding and engagement rings and took to wearing it only.

I’m not a big jewellry person and loved both the symmetry and simplicity of the ring, and how it looked on my hand.

Saturday, when Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I returned from the park I took off my gloves to discover… my ring was missing.

Dusk had already set in which meant it was too dark to go back to the park to search for it. Yesterday, as soon as the light permitted, Beau and I headed back to the park to do a search.

There were two possible places I thought it might have come off when I removed my gloves. 1) when I sat on a bench to take off my left boot to dump out a piece of gravel;

2) when I took off my gloves to clean up after Beau did his business.

Alas, after spending time searching in the morning and evening, I have not yet succeeded in finding my ring. Dried grasses and leaves cover the ground everywhere making spotting it difficult.

We’ll return this morning for another look — I’ve ordered a metal detector which will be here tomorrow. Until I’ve exhausted all avenues, I won’t give up.

It is both a strength and a weakness.

The never giving up.

When I was doing Investor Relations consulting, a client likened me to a Terrier because, in his words, I never gave up fighting to get the attention of analysts. It worked well for the client.

My mother used to throw up her hands and tell me to ‘give it up’ when I wouldn’t stop wanting to talk about things that had not gone well between us. That did not work well for our relationship.

Right now, my ring is missing. I am not willing to give up looking for it. Not only is it precious to me, (and very expensive) it was a one of a kind

And, because it’s still in the missing category in my mind, I can’t give up searching for it. Last year when I lost my phone and keys somewhere in the bushes, I couldn’t give up until I found them – and I did!

But then there’s the time, in my 20s, when I lost my beautiful silver necklace and bracelet my grandmother sent me from India — I searched and searched and never did find them — which is where the challenge comes in. I still think about that necklace and bracelet.

I have to let them go.

Which is really where my ring comes in today — it isn’t about the ring. It’s about thinking about it incessantly.

Not one of my greater qualities. Ask my beloved… I can become fixated. On fixing things. Righting wrongs. And even, changing the world.

While I regret the missing of my ring, I am grateful for its reminder to not become so fixated on ‘the thing’ that is lost that I miss the value of letting go.

And yup. I’m trying to trick my mind into getting itself righted — because the regret of not noticing when it fell off is tiring. I can’t change what happened. I can only work with how I deal with it — and the regret of its loss is far too heavy to carry.

Namaste.

PS — about the photo:

I spent time on the weekend making more bookmarks to go with my She Dares Boldly calendars. Every calendar purchased comes with a hand-painted She Dares Boldly bookmark! Check it out on my Etsy store!

She Dares to Hold On To Magic

For the “She Dares Boldly” desktop calendar I have created “She Dares” quotes to go with some old and some new artwork. None of the artwork has been in a calendar before — it’s just some of the pieces might have appeared on my blog in the past.

January’s “She Dares” quote is, “She dares to hold on to magic.”

When I was writing it, I vacillated between, “believe in magic” or hold on to magic”.

Hold on to magic won.

I can believe in anything. But, to actually hold onto it, to keep it in my sights, to keep it as a constant companion on my journey, that takes real daring.

There is magic in this world. Everywhere.

Yesterday, as I walked with Beaumont through the woods along the river, I wondered at the magical and mystical capacity of a seed to grow into a tree, to give birth to branches and leaves, and to continually renew itself every spring after having shed its leaves every fall.

And while science can explain it away with terms like photosynthesis and formulas that dissect the process to its tiniest quark, there is still something magical to me in the whole transformative process of shedding and sprouting, shedding and sprouting.

I want to hold onto that magic and the wonder and awe of it all. I want to dispense with formulae and calculating processes to the nth degree so that I can live and breathe completely immersed within nature’s mystery.

And so, the 2022, She Dares Boldly calendar begins with magic, mystery wonder and awe leading us into the New Year.

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And yes, there’s not a lot of mystery in this here promotion of my calendar.

I do hope you come and check it out on my ETSY store – Dare Boldly Art – shipping is free in Canada and I’ve adjusted the cost to include shipping to outside Canada as Etsy was charging almost as much for shipping as I charge for the calendar!.

It makes a great stocking stuffer, friend gift, hostess gift and so much more!

(and now to figure out how to adjust the colour so the calendar appears with its white background – ’cause that’s what it is!)

She Dares to Take The Road Less Travelled

Art journal page. Mixed media collage.

It can feel comforting to take the road well-trod, the familiar path.

It can feel safe to explore again and again the well-known spaces of your life.

To take the road less travelled, to venture into unknown lands within you, that is the quest of the heroine.

It takes courage, curiosity, and a commitment to be open to what has never been known or seen, or experienced before.

It takes daring.

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It’s back!

The Dare Boldly 2022 desk calendar She Dares Boldly 

You can check it out and order it HERE... (and for those ordering from outside Canada — Etsy’s shipping fees are out of whack — the only thing I can do to fix it at this point is to refund some of the shipping after you pay it — my apologies. It’s really weird!)

It makes a perfect stocking stuffer, teacher or hostess gift or something just for you.

Available on Etsy — for orders of more than 10, please contact me directly.