She whispered to the sun and the moon and the sea and the trees, “Yes I can!” and the sun and the moon and the sea and the trees gave her wings courage.

And with every whispered, “Yes I can!” her dreams grew brighter and her wings grew stronger.

Heeding the call of her hart’s yarning for companionship on the way, she joined hands with her sisters and together, they created a better world for everyone.

While I do not think that ‘time’ is the healer, I do believe it makes space for healing. As in, my head is feeling better after getting bonked by a mirror a week ago.

I find this part of any healing journey fascinating. Each day there’s an incremental difference until one morning, like today, I wake up and feel like I’ve fallen over the side of ‘will this ever end’ and am now floating in a vast pool of sunlight where ‘this’ is no longer swimming right in front of my face but drifting off with the river’s flow. And though the bruising and cut are still visible, inside, where it matters most, I feel the sunshine bathing my face in its golden glory, the wind whispering sweet nothings through my hair and the cool crisp air of the morning dancing on sparkling rainbows of light on the river of life flowing freely all around me.

It’s a brand new day!

And I feel all new and shiny again.

Yeah!

Which also means, my postponed trip to help my daughter and son-in-love is back on. I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning, bright and early.

I am grateful.

It’s funny how tables, and life, turn. When my daughters were young, my mother was the last person I wanted to come and help me as there was too much angst, too much drama in our relationship to make her ‘help’ a welcome gift.

With my daughter, we have created a relationship where my help is welcome, where my presence is a gift for both of us. My mother’s heart flows full of gratitude for my daughter’s welcome embrace and willingness to constantly grow our relationship in Love.

I am blessed. Grateful and feeling full of the grace of life and love.

I won’t be online much for the next couple of weeks. I wish you a beautiful spring sojourn.

____________________

About the Artwork

This is spread 6 & 7 in my Learning to Fly art journal – as with all the pages, it is in response to my 20 Attitudes and Actions on living the life of your dreams — These pages are a response to Attitudes and Actions No.s 10 &11 –

10. Write down all the reasons you can. Post your list on the mirror, the fridge, somewhere you will see it every day—read it often—and add to it everyday.

11. Tell a friend/mentor what you plan on doing. Ask your friend/mentor to be your accountability buddy.

The Story of Your Dreams

"You carried the story of your dreams with you when you came into this world. They were written on your heart in the world beyond this place where miracles are birthed in the magic that is real and the mystical that is always present. You carried your dreams with you into life and all that matters now is you become the story of your dreams unfolding."

I wrote the quote above in freefall writing yesterday. It was my first time back in the studio since Monday. Before the fall.

It has a certain poetic drama, doesn’t it? Before the fall.

Like Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden. Or the Roman Empire before it fell apart.

Coining it to describe the mirror that fell on my head is me taking great poetic license and an exaggeration. It is obviously not of the same significance but, everything is relative. A small thing in the big picture can be a big thing in our own experience.

Yet, so often we attempt to minimize our experiences. To devalue their impact.

Years ago, when I was spending a lot of time in groups of women healing from experiences of the really painful ‘love (that was actually abuse) gone wrong’ kind, women would often say when someone recounted their story, “I know what you’re going through. Of course, my story isn’t as bad as yours…”

The fact is, every story we tell has value – it isn’t good or bad — it is of value to our experience. And when we tell it in a way that opens doors and windows to our heart, we release ourselves to create a new story. Diminishing our own story limits how wide the doors and windows of our heart can open.

For me, a bump on the head that slows me down is a big thing. It’s a call to wake up and pay attention to my body. To ‘get into my body’, not ‘out of my head and into my body’ but to be all of it, head and body. It is one unit, one being, one ‘thing’. There is no separation. no dividing line that says, “This is your head job. This is your body’s work.” It is all one.

And here’s the thing for me. When my body is hurting, I like to power through by pasting a smile on my face and ‘carrying on’ as if nothing is amiss. I let my mind override whatever my body is feeling as if my mind is in charge.

It’s not.

The body and mind are all and one of the same unit. They are all of me and I need all of me to be present, working as a wholistic being on creating substance to my dreams — the one’s that were written on my heart (and in every strand of my DNA) before I was born.

So… This time, I’m taking a different tack. I’m taking care of all of me, first.

See! It’s never too late to do things differently.

Which is also why I headed into the studio yesterday afternoon – it was R ‘n R.

There is something that happens when I sit down at my worktable and get present to the unknown, the invisible, the muse’s urgings I let appear what is calling itself into being.

In those moments, I know there is no separation between mind and body, heart and soul. I am all present. All in harmony.

And that’s exactly what happened yesterday.

I opened my “Learning to Fly” art journal and found myself exactly where I was, as I was. Present in the flow of all that is when I stop trying to compartmentalize my body from my head and acting as if my body’s trying to play a con job on my mind.

When I get present, my dreams get real.

Accidents Happen

On Monday, the wind blew fierce through the trees where Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I walk.

It was scary.

As we walked, my body bent forward into the wind, I wondered… on days like today, does the wind blow so fierce because the trees want to dance with wild abandon?

Do they plead with the wind as it blows through their branches telling the stories it has gathered on its travels around the world?… “We’re tired of being rooted to the ground,” the trees wail. “Tired of just holding your stories in our branches. We want to live them. Feel them. Dance with them. Come, blow fierce and mighty through our branches. Let us bend and bow, swirl and sway as we devour every drop of wonder you carry in your mighty breath.”

And does the wind, heeding the calling of the trees’ desire to dance wild and free, rise up and howl in delight, as the trees throw all caution to the wind and dance with abandon in the ecstasy of the wind’s breath?

I decided not to throw caution to the wind and shortened our walk. The threat of being hit by a falling tree limb separating itself from the canopy of naked limbs dancing above was high. Prudence was the name of the game.

The next morning, as I got ready for our walk and closed the door of my bedroom closet, it hit me.

Literally. The door hit me in the forehead. It was propelled by our dresser mirror which, since moving into this house three years ago, had not been mounted to the two wooden bars that should/could/would have kept it in place.

We’d known the movers hadn’t reattached it. Didn’t seem like a big deal. It was relatively stable resting on the dresser. Until it wasn’t.

It’s a big mirror. The force of it hitting the door knocked me to the floor. It also resulted in a gash and lump on my forehead as well as a black eye.

Fortunately, I broke its fall. I’m sure my mother would have said (she was extremely superstitious) that breaking a mirror that size would have required more prayers than even she could have managed!

After two days of doing little, I feel a little more normal this morning – though I won’t be driving to Vancouver as planned to help my daughter and family.

This accident could have been easily prevented had the mirror been properly attached.

But then, many accidents can be prevented.

It’s just, sometimes, we don’t take care of the small things which, left to their own devices, can become big things.

Like a mirror falling on my head and giving me a black eye and a scar to remember it by.

Time to refocus, reassess, restore balance.

Time for a time out…. Perhaps, now that the wind has stopped, I’ll go lie in the winter dry grasses under the canopy of filigreed branches that stretch up towards the sky seeking the sun’s warmth.

****************************

I haven’t had the capacity to focus on writing the past couple of days.

However, as April is “National Poetry Month” and this month’s theme is ‘resilience’ I wanted to start the month off right with a poem – my intent is to write a poem a day for the month – I am not committing myself to it. I am allowing myself to simply be present within the intention – body, mind and spirit – allowing it to happen, or not.

I did however, want to honour the wind and trees and their dance…

Wild, the wind blows fierce
Naked limbs dance in delight
Birds seek safe harbor.

And…. this post is also a response to the weekly prompt posted at Eugi’s Causerie.

The prompt is to use the word ‘canopy’ in any of its forms, in a post.

To read more, and to participate — please do check out the blog — it is full of delightfully delicious words and images and ideas to set your mind a wandering and your spirits soaring.

My Sacred Garden

“A dream is a wish calling for its wings.” — Learning to Fly mixed media hand-crafted art journal

On Saturday, I took a four hour workshop with Dr. Minette Riordan, “The Sacred Garden: Spring Cleaning for Your Creative Spirit.”

My Sacred Garden Vision Map

The workshop was enriching, inspiring and very grounding. In our four hours spent writing and creating a circular ‘vision map’ of the Sacred Garden in our world right now, I discovered something really, really important to me.

One of the things Minette does in her workshop is ask really good questions. Like, really good.

Minette’s questions took me right into the core of what’s important to me and what I want to do in the world in this time in my life right now.

I am grateful.

Holding space for voices to find their unique song, beat and path underpins much of my creative expression.

Creating sacred and courageous space for all voices to be heard, honoured and celebrated is part of what I want to do more of in the world.

When the student is ready the teacher appears. When the student is truly ready… The teacher will Disappear.”

Tao Te Ching

That’s how I feel after spending four hours with Minette and the other women in the course. Listening to the conversation, the sharing, being part of the circle really helped me gain clarity.

I was ready. A guide appeared. Creating with her guidance I gained clarity and confidence in what I want to do next in this, the Third Act of my life.

So…. stay tuned! More about that later.

For now, I’m in the fluffing up of my wings, stretching the tendons and muscles, ensuring they are ready to stretch wide and lift me up stage of my Learning to Fly.

Happy Flying!

___________________________

Attitude and Actions No. 7 & 8

  1. Be brave.  Let courage draw you to the edge and passion lift you up
  2. Close your eyes, imagine the feeling of flight – repeat often

Exposed

Yesterday, I followed through on my commitment to work on Steps 9 and 10 of my 20 Attitudes and Actions to help you live the life of your dreams.

It worked.

Once I’d printed out the two lists, I had to laugh at myself.

The ‘I can’t list’ – pretty well all lives in my head. The blocks and hurdles imaginary things I tell myself which, through repetition or simply remaining unchallenged, have become limiting beliefs that do not serve me well. And definitely don’t do much towards helping me live the life of my dreams!

And isn’t that what we all want? To live a life where we feel inspired, passionate, engaged. A life that reflects our desires, whatever they are, for love, friendship, comfort, and yes, success.

I realized as I was working on my Can’t and Can lists that defining what ‘success’ looks like to me at this certain age of my life is different than what it looked like at 30, 40, 50. I haven’t spent as much time considering the question, “What does a ‘successful’ life look like to me now that I’m no longer ‘out there in the workforce’ but here, spending time writing, painting, creating. Am I creating ‘things’ or am I creating a life worth living?”

It was a great question to carry with me as I wandered the forest and trails of the park Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I walk in every morning.

I walked through the forest along the river and looked up into the naked branches of the trees, listened to the birds, a woodpecker hammering, chickadees calling and the wind. Always the wind.

I stopped and took photos. Noticed broken bark and branches. Touched crenellated trunks and scarred limbs.  And was reminded of how life is often a journey that leaves us scarred and scared but also beautifully weathered, worn and wise.

When I came home, I played Rod Stewart’s hit, Scarred and Scared. Stewart was one of my dad’s and my brother’s favourites way back when.  Before they left this world a year a half apart. Before we had to learn how to fill in the spaces of their missing with memories and stories of their lives interwoven with ours. In the past. Always in the past.

And then… the poem below wrote itself out as I meditated on life and the joy of my many circles. From art circle creatrixes to writing circle poetresses and family circles and friendship rings and everyone in between. We have all weathered life through days and months and years, words and poetry and actions and colours splashed against the tapestries of our lives coming into full bloom and then, softly, lovingly, gently beginning to fade.

I do not know about ‘the fading years’, as I heard the latter years of life called once. I love the visual imagery of it. The softness and gentleness.

But I don’t know if I want to fade or go out in a great big burst of colour!

And that’s the beauty of life. I don’t have to know. I simply have to live. Every moment. Every colour. Every word and action, every sight and sound the way I want to live them. Now. Fully. Completely. Wholly. In this moment.

Until there are no more moments, no more sights or sounds or even breaths to live.

Perhaps it was the melancholy of the trees, the quiet of the forest, the reading through a course I created several years ago and spent a good part of the day updating that pulled me into the lure of time. Its gathering. Its weaving. It’s meandering course through life. Its unravelling. It’s gathering. It’s weaving….

Whatever the impetus, I am grateful.

________________

NOTE: The course I created and updated is called, “Right Your Heart Out”. It is currently available for free download on my website – I would be incredibly appreciative if you took it for a test run and gave me what feedback you can — feedback is the only way to make it better!

To learn more about this 21 day/lesson course click here – Right Your Heart Out

To dive in without learning more, to just ‘go for it’ click HERE for immediate download.

And… working on updating this course was my diving into Step 12 of the 20 Attitudes and Actions.

Here’s the deal – a marker on my path is having someone download the course… Don’t you want to be a marker of my path forward? I get to surprise myself with a reward if you are! 🙂

Learning to Fly

I love heights. I know. I know. There are many who don’t. But I do.

I love to stand high above looking out and over the world. Buildings. Mountains. Even on the bridge looking into the river below. The higher. The better.

And here’s the deal. My challenge is, when I am standing on high, I truly believe I can fly. That I can just open my arms wide, release myself to gravity’s thrall and leap.

It’s not that I believe I have wings waiting to unfurl, it’s more a feeling that somehow, through alchemy and magic, my body will be transformed into a beautiful, light as air, ‘thing’ of majestic, airborne wonder.

I didn’t say it made sense. I only said I believe it’s true.

I have not tested my premise. Ever.

Though I have been tempted.

When I used to climb mountains it was always my challenge – to stay grounded at the edge of the peak and not let go and leap. Though there was one time on a descent that began with a 2ft wide ridge walk with a 3,000 ft drop straight down on one side and about a 1,000-foot drop on the other. That day, about halfway to the point where we would be rappelling down the mountainside, I wished there was a helicopter that would come and pick me up so I wouldn’t have to leap a one-foot gap in the rock and land four feet below.

Fear made me forget I could fly or even jump as if it was a gap in the sidewalk. I had to let go of my fear

Which is the impetus for the art journal I’m creating, Learning to Fly.

In life, flying is not about heights or wings. It’s about overcoming fears that keep us tethered to our comfort zones, to dreamless-sleep-walking through our days and spiritless wanderings through time, feeding ourselves on inertia.

I have some big dreams. Had them for awhile. And still, I hesitate. I act on them. One tentative step at a time. And then, I hesitate. Holding back. Jerking forward.

No one is holding me back. Except me.

So…. I decided to focus on the things I can do, need to do, must do to unfurl my dreams.

The “Learning to Fly” art journal is my Declaration of Independence. My Magna Carta. My Holy Grail of Getting Sh*t Done.

So…. here we go….

_______________________

About the Journal:

Using various papers from watercolour to mixed media to newsprint and scraps from junk mail, I gessoed and painted backgrounds to create a 40-page journal with cover. I then bound it all together into a book. (Below is a 19 second flip through of the painted and bound journal before I painted the cover and the first 4 spreads)

As well, I’ve created a list of 20 ‘actions and attitudes’ on the theme of “Learning to Fly”. For each one, I’m writing a one-line quote and using that action or attitude as the inspiration for the spread.

Over the past few days, I painted the cover (birds in a tree in gold), the title page and worked on the first 4 spreads:

  1. Take the longview. Even a bird needs time to grow into its wings.
  2. It’s a long and winding road. Every step makes a difference. Keep going.
  3. Wherever you grow, let your heart grow wild and free.
  4. Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

Colour me excited, but I feel the energy flowing, I feel my heart pounding as I work on this journal.

And, as I step through each of the 20 Action and Attitude steps I’ve created, I feel myself expanding my wings.

I won’t be jumping off mountain tops but I will be diving into making dreams come true and soaring on the wings of creative expression!

I hope you join me on the journey — I’ll be sharing my 20 Actions and Attitudes tomororw.

Today… I’ve got a dream come true to fulfill. C.C. and I are getting our first vaccinations. I’m trying not to make it a ‘big deal’.

But… it is! 🙂

Counting Stars (a story)

Counting Stars      
A whimsical tale by Louise Gallagher 

Once upon a time there was a little boy who dreamt of one day flying amongst the stars.

Every night he would climb out his bedroom window and crawl up onto the roof of the house he shared with his mother and father in a small town where it was said, “coal mining was the destiny written on the stars of all how lived there”.

While the world slept below him, the little boy would lie on his back and gaze up into the nighttime sky, counting all the stars and memorizing their positions. His dreams were filled with thoughts of leaving the coal dust behind and one day flying to the moon, of soaring amongst the celestial beauty above.

One night, his mother came to his room and found him missing from his bed. Not knowing he was on the roof, she became frantic. She screamed and called out for her husband. They looked all over the house and in the yard and couldn’t find their son.

They called the police. They called their neighbours. A search party was organized.

Meanwhile, the little boy lay on the roof, lost in wonder, gazing at the stars above. He didn’t hear their frantic calls. Didn’t know that they were searching for him. He knew only that he was safe amongst the wonder of the nighttime sky dreaming of one day building a spaceship and flying beyond his wildest imaginings of life here on earth into the vastness of the universe.

As he always did after an hour of counting stars, the little boy climbed quietly back down from the roof into his bedroom. But this night, he found his mother sitting on his bed, clutching his teddy bear.

Tears streamed down her face. Her body shook with sobs.

The little boy saw his mother and did not understand why she was crying. He ran to her, touched her arm and asked, “Mummy, what’s wrong?”

The mother, stunned to hear her son’s voice, opened her eyes and saw him standing before her. Relief washed over her. He was safe. She grabbed him and clung to him tightly. As she held him in her arms, she called out to her husband who was downstairs talking to the police. “He’s here. He’s here!” she cried out.

Everyone raced up the stairs. The little boy heard the pounding of their footsteps, felt the tremor of the floor as they entered the room.

His father burst through the door first, strode over to him and angrily demanded, “Where were you? Don’t you know you frightened your mother to death?”

The little boy was confused. Who were all these people? Why were the police there? Why were they all standing in front of him, arms crossed against their chests?

In a tiny voice he replied, “I was on the roof.” He hesitated and then whispered tentatively. “Counting stars.”

His father was angry. “You’re a bad boy,” he yelled. “How dare you cause such terror in our hearts. You will never go on the roof again.”

The little boy stood his ground. “I’m going to be an astronaut. I’m going to fly amongst the stars.”

The father shouted back. “Quit your foolish dreaming. You can’t eat stardust. You will be a coal miner, just like me. Just like my father before me.”

And so, a dream was lost. The father put bars on the boy’s window. The boy put his dream of one day being an astronaut away.

Years passed. The little boy became a man. He worked in the coalmine. Just like his father. He had a wife. A little cottage and a family of his own. A son and a daughter.

Like his father, he was stern. Distant. Uncompromising. Like his father, he loved his wife and children but never told them. When asked if he had dreams, he would reply, “Dreaming doesn’t put food on the table. Dreams are as impossible as flying amongst the stars. You can’t eat stardust.”

They were happy, in a strict kind of way. There was food on the table, clothes on their backs and a roof over their heads. No one spoke of love. No one spoke of the stars above or their dreams. No one dared dream. Dreams, like stardust, don’t feed hungry bellies.

One night, the father walked past his son’s room on his way to bed. Out of the corner of his eye, through the open door, he saw the tiny figure of his son about to step out the bedroom window. Fearful that his son might be hurt, he raced across the room and grabbed his son just as he was about to slip over the sill and onto the roof.

“What are you doing?” he bellowed as he pulled his son back into the safety of the room.

The little boy, not used to being held in his father’s arms, burrowed into his chest, snuggled his head against his shoulder and whispered, “Counting stars.”

The father stood still. He felt his son’s heart beating against his chest. Felt the softness of his arms around his neck. With his son in his arms, he looked out the bedroom window to the darkness of night. Stars glittered in the sky above. The world slept below.

“Counting stars.” he whispered. And then he repeated it. “Counting stars.”

The little boy nodded his head. “I do it every night,” he said proudly. “One day I’m going to be an astronaut. I’m going to build a spaceship and fly to the moon!”

“No you’re not,” the father began and stopped. As he reached out to close the window, he caught a glimpse of himself holding his son in the reflection of the glass. His eyes misted up at the sight of the tiny figure held in his massive arms.

As his father held him close to the open window, the boy squirmed in his arms and leaned his body out the window and pointed up towards the star-studded sky. “Look dad!” he exclaimed. “A comet.”

The father looked up into the stars above as a streak of light soared across the ink black sky. He closed his eyes and took a breath. When he opened them, he looked down into his son’s eyes and saw the starry wonder of his dream reflected back at him.

His heart softened. He smiled. And pushed the window open. “I don’t want you to get hurt son. It’s okay to go on the roof at night as long as you promise to take me with you.”

The boy’s blue eyes opened wide. “Really?” he asked in a tiny whisper. “You’ll go with me?”

Holding his son safely in his arms, the father stepped through the window onto the roof.

“When I was a little boy, I used to climb out my bedroom window so I could count stars,” he said. He looked up into the night sky. “I forgot how many stars there are,” he whispered clutching his son tightly in his arms. “Can you tell me how many you’ve counted?”

The boy pointed up and started to count. “Two thousand and twenty-three. Two thousand and twenty-four. Two….” and his father’s voice joined in. “thousand and twenty-five…”

Together, father and son lay on their backs on the roof gazing up at the blanket of night spread out above them.

And the stars shone brighter than they had ever shone before.

_______________________________

Mark, of Musings and Other Writings, and a frequent commenter here on my blog (not to mention the person who inspired me to start blogging way back in March 2007) is celebrating the first day of his 19th year of continuous, daily blogging today.

In responding to his post this morning, I went back to my first blog, Recover Your Joy, to see what day in 2007 I’d actually begun. (It was March 10, which means I’m in my 14th year of being ‘a blogger’). As I was scrolling through the 1,677 posts, I came across a story I wrote around this time in 2009 (March 23rd to be exact).

Last night, just before bed, C.C. and I stood outside staring up at the night sky. It was strewn with stars hanging around a crescent moon. And then, this morning, as I was scrolling through the 1,677 posts, I came across a story I wrote around this time in 2009 (March 23rd to be exact) about a little boy who counted stars who became a man who had forgotten how, until his little son taught him.

It seemed like a sign… so I’m sharing it here today.

Have a beautiful, grace-filled weekend, and I hope you take time to count stars. I know I will.

What Tears May Come

“What Tears May Come” – mixed media on canvas paper – 11 x 14″

“Sometimes, the only way to experience the journey fully

is to learn what the journey has to teach you.”

Lately, I feel like I’ve been swimming in a sea of Hope. Angst. Curiosity. Confusion. Sorrow… An alphabet soup of emotions that flow full of these times when my beloved and I wait to receive our first vaccination in 10 days mixed with the wonderment of what that could mean… How will things change? Will they change? Will I be different? Will the world feel safe?

I have learned a lot, grown a lot, experienced a lot throughout this past year of sequestered solitude. All of it is, as Ram Dass called it, “grist for the mill”.

Over the past two days, awash in that sea of alphabet emotions, I worked on the painting above. I had actually started it many months ago and set it aside – or at least the background part which had a heart on it which I really liked but wasn’t sure if I wanted to do more with it.

The background was in a pile I keep for those moments when I want to explore but have no clear starting point or idea of what I want to do. When I pulled it out, I set it beside an alcohol ink background that was waiting to be cut up and made into bookmarks.

“Ha! Why not sew flowers on the alcohol ink background, cut them up and collage them onto the other background?” a voice inside whispered. I’m not sure if it was the muse or the critter testing my resolve to let go of thinking some pieces I’d created were ‘precious’ or the inner voice of wisdom urging me to just be present in the process.

And then the voice said, “And while you’re at it, why not cut the heart out of the original background so you can affix it over the flowers?”

Whoever it was, I decided to heed them. I cut out the heart (Ouch. That was not easy!) I pulled out my sewing machine and got to work sewing flower shapes onto the Yupo paper (it’s a synthetic paper used with alcohol inks).

I liked the look of the flowers and began affixing them to the background with a gel medium.

And that’s when the yucky-messy ‘oh no what have I done’ happened.

See. Alcohol ink is not permanent unless you spray it with a fixative. I hadn’t done that. Suddenly the colours and patterns I’d liked so much began to bleed and blend and fade and mix and just get kind of all yucky. Okay. A lot yucky.

I wanted to throw the whole thing out but I’m also very stubborn.

So I kept digging in.

Two days later the piece is a testament to so much of what the past year has taught me.

Stay present in the process. Be here now. Be patient. Be curious. Be persistent. Let go of expectations. Let go of perfection. Don’t give up. Dive in. Keep going.

Teachings from the studio during a global pandemic

And then….

When I opened my laptop to work on the quote, I also stumbled across a poem I’d started awhile ago that I’d set aside. (Does anyone else have umpteen WORD documents left opened on their computer? Hmmm… I do and it’s always a lovely surprise to discover what I’ve started and not finished – okay so maybe ‘lovely’ isn’t the word but I’m going with it)

Anyway, I wrote the quote onto the painting and then started working on the poem that also represents so much of what this past year has taught me.

Don’t give up.

Dive in.

Keep going.

What Tears May Come
©2021 Louise Gallagher

There are moments when
the tears I fear
to shed
wallow in the spaces
behind all that I cannot see
in the world beyond my front door
as I sit feeling
trapped
inside
eyes closed
to hold back
the tears
I dare not release
for fear they will flow like the river
never ending.

In those moments
I must swallow
hard
the lump
of fear
jammed up against
the worry
pounding at the roots
of my angst
squaring off
against
thoughts threatening
to riot
amidst the litany
of all that has happened
all that has gone on
all that is lost and discarded
and missing
in these days
of being cut off
from the way things were
before,
before the pandemic
rolled in
and declared its presence
known
on the other side
of front doors
slammed shut
against its entry.

In those moments
I must remind myself
that one year is but a moment
in time’s great expanse
spanning all of life
with its threads of wonder
and awe and beauty
unfolding
whether I sit behind
closed doors
or walk the forest paths
alone
along the river
waiting for the time
when it is safe
to open the front door
and let go of fear.

Perhaps, as the river flows
and the seasons change
and this tiny microbe loses
its power over hearts
and lungs
my tears will flow free
falling
without fear
of never ending.

Strong of back. Soft of heart. #shepersisted No 75

No. 75 #ShePersisted Series – They said, you gotta be strong like us to change the world. She said, being strong like you won’t change the world for the better. We all need to be strong of back, soft of heart to create a better world together.

It is something I find fascinating about this dance with the muse I enter into every time I step into my studio, or sit at my desk, or go for a walk, or lie in the bath… OK. Maybe that should read, this dance with the muse I live everyday.

I don’t ask for her presence. She just is. There. Here. Everywhere. Within and all around me.

I also don’t ‘ask’ for ‘the words’ for the #shepersisted series to come. They simply appear. Sometimes, they come without need of editing. Sometimes, they form as a sentiment calling to be expressed, asking me to massage the words into deeper meaning. To find that meaning, I often have to go through the journey of creating the visual message first.

And then, there are days like yesterday when the words appear before I even enter the studio. They arrive in my mind, full of fleshy substance, carrying with them a deep compelling desire to be brought into visual being.

On those days, like yesterday, there is nothing I can do to dissuade or convince the muse I have other things to do.

I must heed her urgings. I must create.

And here’s the thing. While I don’t intentionally ask for or summon up the words, there is an intentionality to the creation of the artwork.

For example, beneath the layers of paint, the foundational background of No. 75 was created by using a rubber mat, the kind you put in the bottom of a sink to protect dishes. It’s all flowers and butterflies. To begin, I placed it on the blank white page and sprayed purple ink over it. When lifted, the page was covered in white flowers and butterflies between purple splotches.

The use of a kitchen sink mat is intentional.

It signifies that moniker I keep grating against yet still succumb to thinking is mine to take care of. That ubiquitous thing called…’women’s work’.

Yeah. I know. Division of labour and all that but the fact remains, while advances have been made over the past 40 years, women continue to do the majority of unpaid household work and continue to spend more time at it than men. Even more significant, COVID has caused many of women’s advancements to be lost, pushing women out of the workfoce, back into the home.

From kitchen mat to boardroom table, women continue to face obstacles that impede their rights, their opportunities, their independence, their health, wealth and well-being.

For me, the #shepersisted Series is my personal statement of ‘ENOUGH’.

Enough of playing by the rules. Of being, polite not forthright, assertive not aggressive, ladylike not badass girl-power running wild at the frontlines of making change happen now.

Seriously. Do men ever get told it’s not ‘manlike’ to ask for what they want? To be assertive, yes. Aggressive no. (watch for a yet to be created No. 76 on that one!)

The muse is not done with the #ShePersisted Series.

Neither am I.

But then, I’m not done with changing the world either.

How about you?

Have you had enough? No matter your gender identification, are you willing to stand up, give voice and make change happen for everyone?

None of us can do it alone. But together? We are a mighty voice. A powerful force. An unstoppable collective.

#choosetochallenge #speakupforinclusion #weareallinthistogether #strongtogether #womensvoicesmatter #girlpower

To Love Yourself Completely: Part 2

To love yourself completely, begin with finding beauty in the broken places. Layers of Love – mixed media on canvas board – 7 x 9″

Yesterday, I posed the question at the end of Part 1 of To Love Yourself Completely, “Knowing what you know now, what are you willing to do to love yourself completely.”

It’s such a delicious question. So invitingly full of possibilities.

I mean, think about it, knowing what you know now, knowing how important it is to love yourself completely, the paths to self-love are endless.

As are, it feels at times, the places within where ‘unlove’ exist in constant disharmony. Those wounded places where self-neglect and shame and other signs of self-abhorrence hideout and manifest themselves in harmful ways that diminish your light and leave you feeling less-than and unworthy, angry and discontented, sad and weary…

They don’t hideout in your heart, those wounded places. They’re buried deep within your psyche, swimming in a sea of emotional angst infecting every facet of your being with their angst-riddled ways. Their presence robs you of knowing and sharing your talents, gifts, beauty and light with passionate abandon.

What will you do to love yourself completely?

For me, the studio is where I come home to my heart, where my mind stills its constant chatter and I become embodied in the infinite beauty of being all I am in the present moment.

Yesterday was no different.

As I began to create, I knew I wanted to explore the question. What will I do?

Not holding myself to a set idea or plan, I gathered random items to work with. A dryer sheet. A delicate piece of crocheted lace my mother had given me. A broken chain from a necklace I’d used when I made my wedding bouquet (it was made of brooches and necklaces from family and friends). Some painted papers. A leaf I’d printed on a piece of fabric. A page from a book of poems that belonged to my father on which I’d drawn a heart-shape and other bits of ephemera including a bit of painted paper from one of my paper dolls.

I got out acrylics, inks, watercolours, my sewing machine and let my imagination run wild as I zigzag stitched items together and glued them onto a canvas board I’d painted at the start.

When I was done, I sat quietly, eyes closed and rested my hands on top of the completed piece.

What is your story? I asked it. What truth are you revealing?

The answer drifted effortlessly up from the font of wisdom that is always present deep within my belly. Or, perhaps it floated down from the collective consciousness that connects us all (I don’t consciously know where it came from – it just appeared, as truth often does)

To love yourself completely, begin with finding beauty in the broken places.

Ahhh yes. My heart sighed. Truth.

And my body embraced it as my mind quietened and rolled the words around and around.

Find beauty in the broken places.

There are so many, my mind whispered.

And my heart replied, “They are all so beautiful to me.”

Namaste

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I shared this piece yesterday with an art journalling group I belong to. One of the members called it – Layers of Love — it fit so beautifully. Thank you Pamela W. ❤