Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


Do you want to change your whole world?


Years ago, when I took up painting, I did it not because I wanted to prove I actually could paint, but rather, because I wanted to do something with my then 14 year old eldest daughter who loved to paint. One day, even though I’d told myself all my adult life that I was a writer, not an artist, I decided to pick up a paint brush and paint with her.

And my whole world changed.

I discovered a ‘truth’ I’d told myself about myself was actually just a limiting belief that I’d never tested. If I’d kept living by that limiting belief, my world would not have changed.

Sure, not having tested that belief I would not have known what I was missing and thus, not know I was missing out on doing something I truly love and feel passionate about — creative expression through the arts.

Having tested that limiting belief by changing what I normally did when my daughter wanted to paint, meant that I got to experience something I never could have imagined would bring me such joy and satisfaction.

Eleven years ago, a friend (thanks Mark Kolke of Musings and other writings!) suggested I start a blog. At the time, blogging was not ‘the thing’ it is today. I knew nothing about it, but, I was curious so I decided to check it out.

On March 7th, 2007 I posted my first scribblings at Recover Your Joy.

Eleven years ago when I first began I didn’t really think I’d be able to keep it up! Ha! Fooled me!  That first post has turned into over 3,258 posts published between the two blogs.

LOL! That’s a lot of words.

When I began, I thought I had to know what I was going to write about before my fingers touched the keyboard. Gradually, as I began to move into the flow of writing every morning, my thinking changed about ‘the right and the wrong way to blog’ as I began to realized that a) there is no right or wrong way, there’s only the way I chose as best for me; and b) I am not writing ‘for my readers’. I am writing for me and if what I write resonates with my readers, that is a beautiful ripple and a lovely gift that adds depth and colour to my world. And, c) Writing every day and hearing from readers has taught me that we are all connected. As my words resonate with your heart and thoughts, I feel that truth shimmering deeper and deeper within me every day.

See, I started blogging because I thought it was something to do to keep my writing practice moving forward. Over time, I’ve discovered that writing here each morning is my way of creating value from all things happening in my life, and my way to create space in my world for gratitude and joy to arise with me every morning.

It was not intentional — the writing almost every morning for 11 years. It happened because my intent has always been to add value to the world through writing about the things that stir my heart, awaken my creativity and create beauty and joy all around.

I love to write. I love to create.  Through art-making and morning writings, I find myself coming back, again and again, to the core of who I am and the joy that comes from living on purpose and in the flow of life, or as my friend John McMahon calls it, being in the PHLOW:

Power  (I also like to think of this one as Purpose)

In that space, I become all that I am when I stop listening to my limiting beliefs about all I can’t do or be in this great big world of wonder.

So, want to change your whole world?

Do something you think you can’t
let what happens next be your inspiration
for what happens next…


In need of balance.

In my post yesterday on A Grandmother’s Code, I mentioned in one of my comments that I was feeling unsettled without access to my studio.

It was packed up on December 12th and is not likely to get set up again for at least a couple of more months. We are still in the throes of renovating our new home, and my studio will be the last piece in the puzzle of putting our home together.

As I lay in bed this morning thinking about not having a place to create with abandon (because that’s what the studio gives me — a place to paint without worrying about splashing, spills or slip-ups), I realized I need to come up with an alternative plan. A way to create without a studio.

People do it all the time. What am I waiting for?

Fundamentally, my studio represents more than a creating space. It is my home base. My sanctuary. My centering place.

Without it, I have been letting myself off the hook of being committed to my practice of centering, meditating and finding balance.

I have been slacking off.

And that’s not good for me.

Even my meditation practice has been impacted by this move. I am erratic in creating space for meditation and even when I do, I find myself wandering both mentally and physically.

All of which are signs of my inner imbalance.

Moving is not easy. And when the move takes three months, it becomes more about learning to live in transition than just being in transition.

I have not done a great job of learning to live in this new order of things. No matter how transitory, I am in it and need to be conscious of how I go through it.

So, today, I commit to starting a new awareness for myself of what it means to live in transition — while keeping myself balanced and centered with grace and ease.

To begin, I created a ‘path’ for myself to ensure I give myself room for assessment, alignment and action. My steps, as they currently appear in first blush are:

  1. Be conscious of where I’m at — physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
  2. Make an assessment of my ‘Balance wheel’.
  3. Decide on the priority areas to address.
  4. Make a commitment to do 1 – 3 things within each area to bring myself back into balance.
  5. Identify the 1 – 3 things for each.
  6. Commit to beginning and when necessary, begin again.
  7. Be gentle with myself.

It’s a new beginning, a new space, a new attitude.

I wonder what I can create?




In times of angst, what do you do to change the world?

I played in the studio yesterday. I intentionally sat at my art table without a plan, without a real vision and simply experimented.

It was freeing. Calming. Peace-making.

And, fun!

I didn’t know what else to do. In a world seemingly turned mad with natural and man made disasters, I was feeling the angst of too much binge watching on CNN, tracking hurricanes and wildfires and flooding, earthquakes and what the United Nations is calling ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.

My heart was heavy. My mind foggy with sadness and sorrow.

I needed to clear it out. To remind myself that in the midst of madness, I have a choice in what I create in my world.

My inspired play-time started with an hour of drying flowers from the garden. With three trays full of delicate leaves and flower petals, I carried them down to the studio thinking I’d make some cards and affix them to the card stock.

My muse had other ideas.

I started with making a background with watercolour pens but wasn’t finding my groove.

While the secret of play-time is to never get trapped in judging the outcome, it’s also important to not get too stuck on the medium I’m using either. If something isn’t really grabbing my imagination, it’s okay to switch!

I decided to switch to alcohol inks.

I could tell it had been awhile since using the inks. Several of the tops were stuck and needed to be coaxed open under hot water.

As the watercolour card stock is not conducive to the free-flowing nature of the inks, I wondered what would happen if I applied a coat or two of matte medium.

A perfect surface for experimentation is what happened!

The beauty of inks is that while they are not very forgiving, they layer easily. They’re also beautifully transparent and once put down on paper, offer a short window to blend them and move them around with alcohol (and no, I don’t mean the alcohol you imbibe! I mean the alcohol you apply to the inks to get them to disperse!).

Staying in the flow of creative expression requires a willingness to give up judgement and give into the art of creating freed of mental chatter.

In these seemingly madcap times in which we live, it is vital to take time to create beauty for no other reason than, in the act of creation, we remind ourselves of our human capacity to create love not war, peace not anger, hope not fear.

I gave myself the gift of an afternoon of play yesterday and in that space, found myself flowing once again into the art of living with peace, hope, love and joy filling my heart.

The world out there has not changed. Fierce winds continue to blow, fires continue to burn, and guns continue to fire. There is little I can do to change those things except donate where I can and send prayers of love and healing into the world.

The best way I know to do that is to ensure my ripple is not filled with angst and unease. After an afternoon of play and creative expression, my space in the world is calmer, more at ease. And from that space, I can go out into my day and create the more of what I want to have in the world knowing that my angst will not be adding to the angst around me.

I not powerful enough to stop winds from blowing, fires advancing or guns blasting.

I do have the power to stop contributing to the angst and anger, the fear and horror by creating oases of calm and beauty within and all around me.

We all have that kind of power.


PS. As to the dried flowers… when the cold arctic air swoops in, I’m sure they will inspire me to create signs of spring in my studio, and my heart. 🙂





In the art of creating

I had forgotten and in my forgetfulness did not realize how much I was missing, how much the lack of its presence was impacting my daily living.

And then, I stepped in front of the canvas. I stood and breathed and held myself in that space where time floats away and all that is left is the moment now, the moment of creation.

I had forgotten.

That moment where I become one with being present, one with the moment, one with the muse.

And then, I let go my fear and found myself in that place where in fear’s presence love flowed fearlessly into my being part of its flow.

And I remembered.

I remembered the joy, the bliss, the grace of letting go of fear and surrendering to the muse calling me to create.

And in my remembering, I fell.

Into the art of creating for the sheer joy of creating. For the utter bliss of being one with the paint flowing, the canvas calling, the brush strokes appearing effortlessly, fluidly, simply. With the thrill of experimenting, creating, allowing, letting whatever will be to be.

I fell

and became part of the flow


with the muse

all in

in Love.


On becoming me.

When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.  Pablo Picasso

When I was a child, my sister and I spent hours re-enacting scenes from our favourite movies. Gone with the Wind. The Parent Trap. We knew all the characters, all the parts and we each had our favourites.

It didn’t matter that our stage was a stretch of lawn or that Tara was a sheet draped over a tree or that we each had to play three or four different parts, differentiating the characters only through our voices as we didn’t have time to change wardrobe —  we didn’t really have any wardrobe to change into anyway. This was a low budget reproduction — very creative, just not very accurate.

But none of that mattered. What mattered most was that we spent the time together. Laughing. Sharing. Creating.

When I was a child, I liked to draw. To sing and dance and to play piano. I liked to write and make up stories. To play dolls and the now politically incorrect, “Cowboys and Indians”.

It didn’t matter to me what the game or activity. What mattered most was that I was being creative. Expressing myself through arts of all nature.

And then, I grew up.

I still liked to write. To create. To make something out of nothing.

But the tone was different. There was something lacking in my creation.

I kept thinking it needed ‘A Purpose.’

To create for creation sake just didn’t seem to be viable, make sense, have meaning. If I was painting, there needed to be a reason. If I was writing, there needed to be an audience. And, if I was dancing, there needed to be ‘the right steps’.

I’ve grown beyond those ‘grown-up’ days of believing I need ‘A Purpose’ to my art. I’ve grown beyond thinking there are right steps, wrong moves, perfect brushstrokes or perfectly turned phrases.

I’ve grown into being me. Creatively. Expressively. Passionately.

Today, I know that at my core I am a creative being. That life is an act of creation.

Today, I express myself in ways that fulfill on my belief, and need, to create beauty in the world around me.

Today, I let go of the right steps and move with grace and ease into being each step I take to create beauty in the world around me.

There’s freedom in each movement. Freedom in being my creative self.

And, there’s joy in knowing every breath I take is an act of creation. Every step I take is an expression of the beauty I want to create in the world and each brushstroke, each word written are all an expression of me.


Does fear stop you from creating?

Work in Progress. No. 44
#ShePersisted Series

Over at Live and Learn yesterday, David Kanigan shares an expert from a Robert Ito article in the NY Times about funny-man Ray Romano.

“It’s just doubt, that’s the biggest thing.”

Doubt, uncertainty, insecurity can keep me from doing things I love.

Like painting.

I have begun working on No. 44 of my #ShePersisted series.

No. 44.

It’s taken me awhile to get to No. 44. With every piece I complete, I worry the next one won’t appear. Or won’t be any good. Or won’t ring true.

I worry I can’t paint. I’m not creative enough. I don’t have any talent.

And in my worry, I hesitate. I avoid. I ‘take a break’, convincing myself it’s what I need, even though I know, that’s the lie.

Deep within me, to the farthest reaches of every cell in my body, I feel the compelling and vital desire to express myself creatively, to dig into my creative essence and let it flow free.

And still I hesitate. Stall. Pause.

Until finally, the pressure grows so great I know there is only one way to release it.

I put brush to paint to canvas if only to prove my fears right. And in the act of proving them right I push through. My fear. My insecurity. My doubt.

I don’t know what else to do.

I know the fears and doubts are there.

I just can’t let them win. I just can’t let them own me, or worse yet, deprive me of doing something I find so satisfying, so joyful, so life-giving.

Creating. Painting. Writing.

For me, these are life-giving passions that dance an uncomfortable jig in the darkness and lightness of their ever present need to be expressed.

Giving into the darkness, I feel bereft. Empty. Defeated.

Yet, to give into the lightness, I must struggle through the dark. I must dance with my fears and turn them to the light so that I can set myself free to create, even in my fears, even in my doubts and insecurities.

The world is filled with creative soul’s clamouring to be free. Now, more than ever, as world events seemingly spiral over the edge of reason, we must all let go of our reasons to not create, to not bring our soulful essence into being. We must release ourselves from the darkness and begin to create in the light of knowing, the kind of world we need, the world we deserve to live in is filled with beauty, wonder and awe and above all, peace.




Happy Accidents

Ever had one of those accidental outcomes that when it happens you look at it and say…. “Hmmmm….. I wonder what I can make with that?”

No. 41 in my #ShePersisted series, is just such a happy accident.

On the weekend, I started working into a background I’d created for a painting a couple of weeks ago. I drew and cut out a stencil of a woman and painted her into the painting. It’s called, The Goddess Emerges and I will be selling it at the art show I’m in this weekend.

I was enjoying using the stencil I’d created and decided to use it for another painting. The Duality of Truth in the Garden of Eden emerged.



To create the two women in that painting, I drew the figures onto a wax type paper stenciled with musical notes and words and images. I wanted to add colour to the cut outs so placed one of the figures on a canvas board that was tucked into a corner of my studio.

And that’s when the happy accident happened.

Using watercolour pens, I painted onto the cutout and washed off what I didn’t want. And voilá! As I worked to colour in the figure, the residual paint ran along the edges of the cutout leaving behind the outline of the woman on the board when I lifted it off!

I debated what to do with it. Leave it. Create with it.

Lesson learned.

Never let happy accidents go to waste.

Dig in. Explore. Let your creativity flow.

What’s the worst that could happen?

FullSizeRender (30)For me, painting into the figure inspired the quote for No. 41 in my #ShePersisted series. I like this quote — it speaks to what I perceive to be part of the feminist struggle for social justice — Why bother? The injustice is all in our imaginations.

She’s created on a different substrate than the others so I may recreate her later — I’m okay with that. Because, seriously?  What is the worst that could happen?  …I get to create more. I get to indulge in my passion for inspiring artful living. I get to immerse myself in the creative process and let go of my fear of what the outcome will be!

How exciting is that?



The entire #ShePersisted series can be viewed on my website HERE.

And if you are in Calgary or environs this weekend, do please drop by the art show and say hello.  I’d love to see you.

South Calgary Art Show and Sale

Friday, May 12,   2 – 9pm

Saturday, May 13,   10 – 5pm

Marda Loop Community Centre
3130 16 street SW