Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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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.

Namaste.


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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.


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Love Fiercely

I want to say I got up early after a restful night’s sleep.

I want to but it wouldn’t be true. My sleep was restless. Eventually, I moved to the living room and slept on the couch. Beaumont was happy. He got the rest of the bed.

I want to say my mind is at ease after a quiet meditation.

I want to but it wouldn’t be true. My meditation was anything but quiet. Seriously? How can so many thoughts crowd into such a small dark place?

And I smile.

As soon as I write about dark spaces, an unquiet minds, my higher self awakens.

It’s the way it is.

Writing has always been meditative for me. Healing.

On the page, I see my truth shimmering in all its many facets. I see the dark places lying in wait to capture the light and I see the light burning fiercely, edging out the dark.

On the page, I cannot hide from myself. I cannot hide in the dark.

On the page, I must turn up.

Just as I must turn up this morning and be present to my day.

A breakfast meeting in half an hour. A briefing note to finish off and other things to tidy up.

I had a restless night last night.

Doesn’t mean my day isn’t filled with possibility.

Doesn’t mean I’m not finding my lightness of being rising with the sun’s golden rays.

It just means I’m a little bit more tired than usual.

The South Calgary Art Show & Sale begins tomorrow. I’ve still got some work to complete to be ready.  If you’re in or around Calgary, it would be lovely to see you there!

Friday 2 – 9pm

Saturday  10 – 2pm

3130 16 St. SW

I’ll see you next week!

Namaste.


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Awaken Possibility

My beloved asks me if I want to go on a trip. 12 days on the Danube. A few days in Paris, or another city of my choice.

I immediately wonder if I can get the time off work.

And then I laugh at myself.

I don’t need to request time off. I’ll be unemployed!

And then I wonder… is it considered unemployed when I’m retired? Rejuvenating? Stepping into my next adventure?

I love the way my mind works!  It definitely keeps me on my toes. As Benjamin Zander, Conductor, Music Professor, author, would say, “How fascinating!”

Something else Benjamin Zander said in one of my favourite Ted Talks is that “[…} the conductor doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful [..] I realized my job was to awaken possibility in other people.”

That’s what I want to do in my rejuvenation. Awaken possibility in others.

Which brings me back to the Danube.

I remember the first time I saw it. I was about 16 years old. We’d travelled through the then Czechoslovakia into Austria, to Vienna.  I was so excited to see the Danube for the first time. And then, I was disappointed.

The piece of music I’d learned to play by heart on my accordion was, (yes, I played the accordion but that’s a whole other story), The Blue Danube Waltz.  I loved that piece of music. I imagined couples dancing outside a castle on the banks of the Danube. There were women swirling in the arms of tuxedo clad men, their ballgowns fanning out around them. Lights twinkled in the night. Servers moved silently amongst the crowds, their trays filled with crystal glasses of champagne.

My vision was beautiful.

The Danube, when I saw it for the first time, was not.

It was brown. Dirty brown. Not the sparkling clear blue of my imagination, or even the blue of the title of Strauss’ waltz.

Dang those expectations.

It is my first memory of encountering what expectations are called —  premeditated disappointments.

And here’s the rub.

I want to go drifting down the Danube for 12 days. I want to visit Prague and Budapest. To spend some time strolling the avenues of Paris.

I don’t want to set myself up for disappintment.

An interesting conundrum because my imagination loves to write storylines that capture all the romance and leave out all the humdrum.

Fact is, where ever I go in the world, whatever I do, to savour the experience in all its beautiful complexity, I must let go my expectations it will be anything other than, an adventure.

Which brings me back to the realization of what I want to create in my world — opportunities to awaken possibility in others.

I have no expecations of where I will go with this desire. What I will do. All I know for sure is that the adventure of unfolding my dream, of colouring it in, of giving it depth and tone and meaning is the journey I can choose to live, arms and heart wide open, dancing joyfully under a star studded sky, gracefully dipping and to-ing and fro-ing to the rhythm of my heart.

What others do with what I create is up to them.

What I do with it is what matters to me.

Once upon a time, I saw a river and was disappointed by its colour.

These many years later that river could be blue. It could have been cleaned up. I’m not going to see just the colour of the water. I’m going for the experience of awakening myself to possibility of what can happen when I travel wihtout expectation of anything other than the journey being a grand adventure in Love.

Namaste.


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What is failure?

I spend the evening pouring paint on an old canvas. I was never quite happy with this piece of work. Never content it was finished. Yesterday I decided to take it on. To dive further into the story it is trying to tell.

I have a vision, an idea of what I want to create. Of the painting’s story. I am excited.

Two hours of pouring, hair-dryer blowing, torching, moving the canvas this way and that, I am scraping the paint off, letting it slide into an old bucket.

I breathe.

It is the second painting in a row which has not pleased me. Not ‘measured up’.

I breathe again.

Flutters of panic stir the outer reaches of my mind.

“It’s a trend!” the critter hisses. “You’ve lost your touch. You’re a failure. But then, you were just trying to fool yourself into believing you were an artist anyway. Give it up.”

I breathe again and turn to face the imaginary but oh so real culprit of my negative thinking.

“I see you,” I tell him. “I see you and I know your fear. I know you’re just trying to keep me safe. That you are simply doing your best to prevent me from feeling the pain of disappointment. Failure. It’s okay. Painting bad is like being willing to write bad. I gotta go through the rough spots to get to the good. It’s never a failure. It’s all just part of the invitation to begin again from where I am.”

The critter hisses and stomps his feet and puffs up his body in preparation of giving me another blast of limiting beliefs he’s created to keep me from feeling the pains of life, to prevent me from stepping so far out of my comfort zone I lose the way back.

I breathe.. Into fear. Uncertainty. Confusion. Resistance. The unknown.

I don’t need a comfort zone to keep me safe. I need wide-open spaces. The freedom to explore what it means to live on the other side of who I am when I dare to cross the boundary from being safe in who I am to honouring the sacred of all I am.

I breathe and remind myself that not every painting becomes a final project in one go. Just as the canvas I was painting on began two years ago and only now is being viewed as full of possibilities, going through the messy is part of the journey of getting to the good parts.

It is all part of the process.

And the first painting that ‘failed’ slips into my thoughts. It’s pretty ugly… at this point. But a random thought enters. What if…. and ideas on what I can do to delve into its story, to reveal its mysteries rise above my fears.

Ooooh.  That could be fun, I think. And ‘what if’s’ of trying this or that dance in my thoughts.

I want to race down to my studio. To pull out my pens and get to work.

It’s not that time of day. I have to ‘get to work’. I have meetings to attend, a Strat Plan to complete. interviews.

I breathe again.

It’s okay.

I’m okay.

It’s all just part of the process to get from here to there. It’s all just part of the invitation.

I begin again.

Life is a journey and everything on my path is necessary. It is all part of the Sacred.

 

Namaste.

 

 


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What is always is what is.

“Bursting Out”
Alcohol Ink on Yupo Paper
11 x 14″
2019 Louise Gallagher

Yesterday I had a lesson in expectations. I am grateful.

With the South Calgary Art Show & Sale fast approaching on May 10 & 11, I am spending as much time in my studio as I can.

Last night, when I came home from work, my beloved was engrossed in ‘Hockey Playoffs’.  I headed to the studio.

It was a struggle.

My mind was roiling about, thinking over a situation at work that is not the way I would like it to be. I was tired. Maybe even a bit grouchy. I was having trouble letting it all go so that I could sink into the joy of simply being present at my art table.

I wanted the time in my studio to be fun. Light. Airy.

I wanted to feel content. At peace. Present.

I didn’t feel any of it.

Instead, I felt the expectations of what I wanted and the contradictions of where my mind was at, weighing heavily on my entire being.

“Don’t let the worries of your day go, Louise,” the critter who likes to slide into my thinking when it knows I’m feeling tired and grouchy and make it all stinky and yucky whispered inside my head. “I mean, really. These are big worries. You need to chew on them some more.”

The calm, loving voice of reason tried to edge in. “It’s okay Louise. Just be present. In the worry. Sadness. Confusion. Disappointment. Be present and let all your emotions flow.”

The critter was having none of it, which was evident on the canvas. The colours weren’t flowing. The bottom part of the painting was a blob of dark, messy mud. “You gotta worry this bone Louise. Sure, you gotta let your emotions flow. But don’t you dare let them flow to acceptance, love and harmony. Joy and contentment. People are out to get ya’. You gotta worry about that!”

I kept pushing the paint. I kept moving it around.

I wanted to give up. To simply throw my hands in the air and say, “Fine. I’m not meant to paint tonight. I’ll just go turn on some mindless TV and veg out.”

The mess on the canvas stared back at me.

Stay or go. Give into the unease in my mind or fall into the flow of creation?

See, that’s the issue.

I know what is good for me. I know what is healing and life-giving. Being in my studio. Being in nature. Meditating. Playing. Dancing. Savouring life.

In times of stress, I sometimes like to convince myself I don’t need to turn up for me. I don’t have to be accountable for my journey.

The canvas never lies.

It reflects my lack of ease, my expectation of it being ‘easy’, my desire to not do the hard, my need to make sense of nonsense.

It also reflects my places of discord, Of not feeling congruent within myself. Like the critter urging me to give up, the canvas resists my efforts to make sense of stinkin’ thinkin’.

I entered the studio last night with the expectation that being there would be a walk in the park. That it would all just flow easily. That I would create a masterpiece without any hard work.

My expectations lead me astray. The critter lead the parade.

And then, I let go and in the surrender, I found myself falling effortlessly into the joy of creating. The result is a painting that is very different than what I expected it to be. It may not be a masterpiece, but it is a reflection of my journey from discord to ease, from expectation to anticipation of what can happen when I let go of believing ‘what is shouldn’t be what is.’

What is always is what is. How I respond, how I journey through life’s inevitable what ises that cause me unease is a reflection of where I am at, how I am in my life. When I choose to surrender expectations of how what is should be, I find myself flowing with grace in the river of life, swimming joyfully in a sea of contentment, beauty and colour.

Life is good.

Namaste.

 

 

 


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Lessons from the studio

5 x 7″
Alcohol Ink on Yupo Paper
2019 Louies Gallagher

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I am in an art show May 10 & May 11.

There’s a lot to get done.

I haven’t been in this show for a couple of years. Work, busy, no time to prepare kept me from entering. As a commitment to my ‘rejuvenation’ vis á vis retirment, I decided to participate this year.

I’ve been getting ready.

Most of the work I’ll be showing will be my alocohol inks. I don’t have my studio well enough set up yet to work on large canvases and I’ve been loving working with the aochol inks so much I’ve just kept creating.

Yesterday, along with sealing my finished work with Kamar, I played with a new toy — an air brush — and even though I still don’t quite have the hang of it, I think I’m in love!

Working with alcohol inks is all about letting flow what will flow, where it will flow. It’s about layering on, taking off, trusting that whtaever happens will be okay. Sometimes, the end result doesn’t cut it. Most times, with enough play and a whole lot of alcohol, magic happens.

Three important life lessons working with alcohol inks have taught me are:

  1. You don’t need to be in control.
    • Alcohol Inks are free flowing. Sure, you can use various media such as Friska to create specific images, but the joy and pure delight (for me) comes when you simply let go and let it flow. Letting go of wanting the inks to go one way, of wanting them to blend to create a certain ‘look’ is something that you need to give up (unless you really want to drive yourself mad!). Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care about the outcome, it just means that along the way, you take pure delight in the experience of being in the moment, are willing to risk experimenting and are flexible enough to go where the ink flows.
    • Like life, trying to be 100% in control of everyone and everything creates frustration, anxiety and disappointment. Svouring the moment, keeping an open mind, creating space for magic is vital to the experience.
  2.  The journey isn’t in knowing ‘how’, it’s in trusting you will discover the way as you go.
    • Predicting what happens when you apply ink and then layer on alcohol and more colour, use a hairdryer or airbrush or any other method of moving the ink around is part of the process, but it’s not all of the process — you gotta be willing to follow the flow. Sure, you can master the airbrush and create images that resumble a flower or leaf or tree, but working with the airbrush means staying loose enough you give the ink room to flow as it will — because seriously, you can’t ‘make’ it flow exactly where you want it to or how you want it.
    • Starting with an ‘idea’ of what you want to achieve is important — but as you move through the process, being flexible enough to adapt, and being open to new ideas as they arise is vital to creating a life that is joyful and fulfilling.
  3. Everyone has their own unique Point of View. Honour the differences.
    • Some of my paintings bring me great joy. Some, I think are okay – and then someone else sees the same painting I deem ‘blah’ and says, “Oh wow! That’s my favourite!”  and I have to smile. We all see the same thing through our own unique perspectives.
    • My sister always finds animal faces in my paintings. I don’t see them. Doesn’t mean they’re not there, it just means we are both looking at the same thing through  different eyes and points of view. She looks for faces, I tend to ‘feel’ the colours and mood of a painting. Neither is wrong. Both bring value to our lives and to our conversation (believe me, I have spent a lot of time trying to see what my sister sees and seldom do — which is what makes life so rich. We each have our own POV and can celebrate the differences by honouring where we each come from, creating space for sharing of our opinions, views, ideas.  — and just like layering on ink to create a whole new look and feel, creating space for someone else’s POV into your conversation creates a whole new landscape of texture/depth to work with!

I spent the weekend getting ready for my artshow in May.  It was a labour of love and delight that colour my world in vibrant, beautiful hues of possibility.