Category Archives: Create Boldly

My Mother’s Prayers. (Video flip-through)

Front and back cover of altered book art journal — My Mother’s Prayers

It is done. This journal I began several months ago with my mother’s prayer cards. It is done.

When I began my intention was to honour my mother’s life journey through using her prayer cards as a collage element on each page in the journal. I wasn’t thinking about healing. Or growth. Or change.

I was focused on diving into the creative field of creating an altered book art journal with her cards.

And then… Transformation beckoned.

Which makes sense, given that the premise of an altered book art journal is using an existing book to transform it into something else.

Don’t you love how art mirrors life and how when we open up to creative expression, life awakens in all its magnificent hues like a crystal prism hanging in a window refracting and reflecting rainbow shards of sunlight?

Through working on this journal, I have found myself falling with grace into all the colours of my human emotions. Grief. Joy. Sorrow. Gratitude, Regret. Compassion. Denial. Appreciation. Sadness. Joy. Anger. Love…

As I’ve written on one of the pages, “There are no mistakes in the human heart. There is only Love.”

In the end, and in the beginning… there is only Love.

There are no mistakes in my life. No paths not taken I wished I had. No roads wandered I wish I hadn’t.

Every path, every road, every step and word and gesture and action and encounter have all added up to create this space in which I live today. Breathing deeply of the divine nature of life.

It is here I find myself floating on a sea of gratitude, waves of joy and love and friendship and laughter and harmony and grace washing over me as I bathe in the waters of sacred communion with Life.

And so I say the prayer that stirs my soul and fills my heart with gratitude. “Thank you.”

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For the past two days I have been working on a flip through video of the book.

On each page I share the words that are most evocative of that page.

I am pleased. The book has turned out better than I imagined (Yes Jane. I’ll say it. “I did a good job!” 🙂 )

But, more than how the book has turned out, I am so very, very grateful for having taken this journey. I began without expectation of an outcome. I end with gratitude for the transformation that has appeared on my path through stepping into the creative exploration of My Mothers Prayers.

A note on the cover — my mother loved baubles and bling. She always wore sparkly things. On her fingers. Around her neck. In her hair. On her wrists. The original cover was orange – not one of my mother’s favourite colours. I painted it purple, covered that with gold spray paint and sprinkled gold dust over the entire thing. The jewelled pieces were my mother’s earrings and on the back, the embroidered bird is from excess fabric from the skirt I wore when C.C. and I were married. Made of hand-embroidered silk from India, I felt it would bring my mother to our wedding as she was too frail to attend. Underneath the bird is one of my mother’s prayer cards.

That Ain’t My Gig.

The words for this page appeared before I began creating it.

“And in the end, when the veil that separated life from death was lifted and she slipped through into the ever-after, all that she left behind were her prayers and the Love that carried her through her life into the eternal grace of God’s embrace.”

This is the final page of the altered book journal I’ve been creating for the past few months with the prayer cards my mother left behind.

When I first began this journey I thought it would be… effortless. Seamless. A traipse through memory sweeping the past clean and closing doors on remembered words and perceived hurts that haunted me in my mother’s silence.

It has been non of that and all of that and so much more.

This deep dive into the power of prayer and my ‘mother memories’ of the rights and the wrongs, the beauty and pain, has brought me face-to-face and heart-to-heart with the quintessential ‘mother wound‘.

Healing the mother wound has been a lifelong journey for me. While it might seem all about a woman’s relationship with her mother, it is bigger than that.

The archetypal mother wound is generational. It is the universal struggle to fit into a world that is constantly changing, yet struggling to transform. It is a world that does not make room for a woman’s exploration of her power and potential because the world itself is constructed by a patriarchal set of rules that do not acknowledge the power and potential of women. It is the fight against the ties that bind while holding onto the apron ties that taught us how to be women in a world constructed in man’s ways.

According to Dr. Oscar Serrallach in THIS ARTICLE on GOOP,

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“The mother wound reflects the challenges a woman faces as she goes through transformations in her life in a society where the patriarchy has denied us ongoing matrilineal knowledge and structures.”

“This agenda tells females not to shine, to remain small, and that if you are going to try to be successful, that you should be masculine about it.”

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I am still searching. Scouring mind and heart for the words that will describe this journey I am on. This journey of reckoning.

With my mother’s passing. The words unwinding. The deeds undoing. The messages deconstructing. The lessons unlearning.

It is a journey of Repatriation. Reclamation. Restoration. Rejuvenation. Of myself.

It is a journey not just through time and space and generational legacies and patriarchal ties that bind me to a way of being that does not fit my skin, my soul, my sense of who I have the right to be in this world. A world that does not know how to create space for the art of the feminine to rise up and be heard and seen and known with grace.

I have come to the final page of this journal I have been creating of my mother’s prayer cards.

I can no longer blame my mother or hold her hostage to my unrealized dreams. I can no longer pray for my freedom from the past, from all that has kept me tied with invisible threads of silence and shame to beliefs and ways of being that do not fit me.

I have come to the time when I must claim my right to be free or crumble beneath the sorrow and rage of a life not lived.

No 5. #ShePersisted Series Mixed Media 2017 Louise Gallagher “Rock the Boat”

My mother has taught me well. Through her silence and her belief it was better to not make waves, I have learned to rock the boat.

Through her insistence I walk with both feet firmly planted in obedience, chastity and faith, I have learned to peer into the darkest night of the soul and see the light within.

In showing me how to be a woman bound to man’s ways she has gifted me the freedom to be unbound. To run wild of heart and free of spirit.

And now it is time.

Time for me to dive into the rising tide full of the song of the soul rushing in to greet me on the shore where I stand in anticipation of life washing me clean of the past. Body arced, arms flung wide above my head, waves crashing over my feet, I dive deeper and deeper into the sacred waters of the Divine Feminine. Into the depths of the great mystery where magic flows free and life dances gloriously unbounded by the conventions of a way of being that is not mine.

It is time for me to hold onto only Love and say to the rest, “The hell with that. That ain’t my gig!”

Yup. It’s time to shine big and dance!

ThE Incantations

“Whispered into the holy night, her prayers were an incantation awakening sacred joy and delight.” Pgs 51 & 52 My Mother’s Prayer altered book journal

My father was a curious man. He read voraciously and always replied to questions such as, ‘How do you spell ___________?” or “What’s does _________mean?” with the response, “Go look it up in the dictionary.”

Of course, I’d try to find a ‘smart alecky’ answer like, “If I don’t know how to spell it how can I look it up?

It never phased him. He’d make me think about the spelling, what I thought it was, and work from there.

Question about the meaning of life, or things or processes were always answered with, “Go look it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica.”

The EB was the fount of all knowledge when I was growing up. If it wasn’t in the Encyclopedia, it wasn’t worth knowing.

Because French was my mother’s native tongue, I seldom asked her those kinds of questions. For her, I reserved my curiosity about God.

“Why would God place a sin on an unborn child? Aren’t we born perfect and whole in God’s image?”

“Why do dead people have to wait it out in Purgatory for prayers of the living to release them? Doesn’t God forgive all sin? Isn’t that why Jesus died?”

To my mother, my constant questioning of God was an assault on her faith and her being.

I didn’t intend it to be but, because so much of what I learned about God as a child was fear-based, I wanted answers so I wouldn’t feel so afraid.

I didn’t like feeling afraid, especially if the adults around me didn’t have ways to assuage my fear.

And I definitely didn’t like the anxiety of waiting for ‘the Hand of God’ to come crashing down from the heaven’s above and knock some sense into me. Which is something my mother often wished for, at least that’s how I translated her entreaties that I ‘be like the others’ (my 3 older siblings) and stop disobeying her constantly.

“God knows everything,” my mother would say. “He sees you and hears you and he is angry at you for being so bad.”

And she would cry and wonder out loud what she had done to deserve such a difficult child as me.

After years of therapy and inner child work and personal development courses and journalling and a host of other practices to make sense of the mess I felt was ‘me’ inside, I understand how my mother and I walked on such unsteady ground.

How could she keep me safe from the world if I was constantly putting my eternal soul in danger by questioning God’s will?

How could she have peace if I was constantly searching for answers to the things she did not want to speak of?

Namaste

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One of the gifts of art journalling is its invitation to experiment. With products, process, perspective…

Awhile ago, I watched a video on using Vaseline with alcohol inks. I wasn’t using Alcohol Inks on this page but was curious what would happen if I used it with acrylic inks.

Magic.

The vaseline acts as a resist so that when I spray onto the page, where ever I’ve applied the vaseline, the ink doesn’t adhere. When the ink is dry, wipe it off and voilá! (Ok. The wiping off takes patience but it’s well worth it!)

The lighter spaces, including within the dark image on the left which was the photo on the page I was working on, remain untouched by the ink.

For me, this page speaks to the mystery of my mother’s faith, of life, of relationships, of the universe.

I see the scrolly piece at the bottom as the filigree frame that separated the penitent from the priest in the confessional.

The lone figure walking towards the lit area of the image on the left is me, searching for answers while staying true to myself — which was not always easy when my path took me far from the Catholicism of my mother’s way.

And the entreaty to, “Be. Here. Now.” is the reminder that the past is not alive in this moment, nor is the future.

Life lives in the now. It is here where the mystery flows with grace into the mystical nature of life, creating magic and wonder in my life today.

Now is where Life happens.

Celebrate it. Cherish it. Create beauty within it.

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The Way Of A Mother’s Love.

Her prayers fed hungry souls and created a world of goodness and light for all to see.

I have a memory of my parents. They are in their kitchen. My dad is making one of his famous stews, or perhaps bread. Dirty dishes cover the counter. There is lots of noise. My father was not a quiet man.

My mother is fluttering around him. She is trying to clean up his mess as he cooks.

“Leave it,” he mutters. “You’re getting in my way.”

She ignores him. He keeps muttering angrily. She stifles her tears at his angry words and keeps doing the dishes.

It was their way.

The kitchen was his domain. Keeping it clean was her contribution, except for those times when he would give way to her desire to prepare her ‘fancy’ dishes. He’d grumble and mutter about ‘fancy food’ being a waste. About how the aromas bothered his sinuses, especially garlic. You shouldn’t mask good, hearty food with that garbage, he’d continuously blurt out whenever mom prepared one of her beloved curries or special dishes redolent with the aromas of India and France spicing the air and dancing together on the palate.

Whenever my mother came to visit she would immediately gravitate to my kitchen and start to clear away dishes and wipe down counters.

Helping out was her way.

It was not my way so I’d shoo her away.

It was the story of our life.

My mother wanting to help out. Me rejecting her help.

I am still that way. I don’t like people in my kitchen. I don’t accept help easily.

Back then, I didn’t understand my mother’s love language. I didn’t understand that after a lifetime of being told by my father that she was ‘in the way’, she wanted to find a way to be of service in peace.

In her lifetime, I never found a way to let her help out in peace.

In my lifetime, I am making peace with the places where strife stirred our relationship into a mess. I am letting go of the hurts and cooking up a new way of being at peace.

This, “My Mother’s Prayers” altered book art journal, is my path.

Like a coat of white paint covering graffiti on a wall, I am painting the past with beautiful colours that weave a glorious tapestry of acceptance and forgiveness from the memories that litter my mind. Like crumbs leading me home to my heart, I am following their way into peace and harmony.

It is not our differences or all the moments we caused each other pain that matters in my life today. It is the beauty I create to honour their memory that transforms them into joy and peace and harmony.

My mother and I never had an easy relationship. In memory and in life, I am free to let go of the unease and fall with grace into the Love that was always there and always will be. Now and forever.

That is the way of a mother’s Love.

Namaste.

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I am off to Vancouver tomorrow to visit my daughter and her beautiful family. For the next ten days, I shall be immersed in the joy of being with my grandchildren and sharing special moments on the coast.

C.C. and I debated about my going. The ‘second wave’ of the Corona Virus is expected to hit soon. Can I do the drive safely?

He was to have driven out before me with a friend, stopping to golf at several different courses along the way. After much consideration, he cancelled his trip but, we’ve decided that as long as I take all precautions, the risks are low. I do the 11-hour drive in one day, stopping only once for gas and calls of nature (which I plan for very carefully).

These are the times in which we live. Given Covid 19s presence and my aversion to flying in its midst as well as winter’s imminent arrival and the dangers of driving high mountain passes in winter months, this is probably the last time I’ll be able to see them until next spring.

I am grateful my daughter welcomes me with such love and grace.

I won’t have much time to post while I’m gone. See you sometime after the 15th.

Namaste and Happy Thanksgiving!

Fun Times 10,000 Times

Mixed media on watercolour paper 9 x 10″

There is something mystical about spending time in the studio creating without ‘a plan’.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Plans are important. When organizing an event, an election, a campaign for something, an attack maybe, plans are critical. But… when plans involve other people, or objects, it can be hard to predict how they will respond to your plan. As Dwight D. Eisenhower is attributed with saying, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” 

As an aside, the originator of the quote, which was not quite so pithy until condensed by a speechwriter, was a Prussian Field Marshall in the mid 19th century, Helmuth Von Moltke, who said, “No operation extends with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the main body of the enemy.” Yeah. You can see why someone had to make it more quotable. Source

I kind of like what Mike Tyson is attributed as saying, “Everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth.”

Okay. So back to ‘no plan’ at my art table.

Yesterday I sat down to play. And that was as far as my planning went. Without thinking about what I wanted to create, I pulled out some watercolour paper because there was still some paint in my dish that I thought I’d use up. It’s a nice thing about watercolour paint. Unlike acrylics, it ‘comes alive’ when touched by water when still on the palette or dish.

Mixed media on watercolour paper 9 x 10″

More than anything yesterday, I wanted to simply practice making subtle backgrounds.

And then, I met my ‘enemy’. The ‘add one more element’ artist in me who just can’t ‘let go and let be’.

That artist usually appears when I get to a point where I’m liking where I’m at. No. No. it hisses! It can be better! Add Something More.

Sometimes the ‘something’ works. Sometimes not.

Like in the painting above. That big rose…

It was really soft and subtle until I decided to try out some pastels on it. That’s when I discovered my white pastel stick had a bit of black on the edge. Naturally, I didn’t check the edge until I touched the page…

Then it became an experiment in figuring out how to soothe the dark splodges with more vibrant pink.

And perhaps that’s the point of planning. The plan was to ‘have fun’. My responsibility was to breathe into the joy and the mess and find the fun in it all.

The fact is, amidst the fun there were moments of distress and stress. Moments where I wondered, “What am I doing?” and moments where my heart sang with joy.

Through it all, there was the creative impulse beating wildly free with its exhortation that, “To have fun you gotta let go and be present in it all.

To Let Go and Be Present In It All doesn’t mean ‘anything goes’. It means I am willing to let my curiosity take me places without my judgement interfering. It means I’m willing to be open to curiosity, experimentation and practice.

It’s said that it takes doing something 10,000 times to become a master.

Imagine if I imbued every 10,000 attempt at doing something again and again as ‘fun’!

In that case, I’ve had a lot of fun over the past 13 years writing blogs! With 3,896 blog posts published since I posted my first blog on March 10, 2007 (this includes 1,677 posts on my original blog, Recover Your Joy) I am over a third of the way to becoming a master blogger. Now that’s a lot of fun!

Perhaps it’s time for me to have fun painting 10,000 flowers…

Namaste

Calming Whispers

I have been working on this two-page spread in the altered book art journal I am creating with my mother’s prayer cards for a couple of days. I’m filming as I go and the added pressure is daunting.

I get to a point where I’m relatively happy with the background, but have no idea where the page is going next. My head is calling me to ‘do this’ or ‘that’ to make it go a certain way. My heart knows I need to get out of my head so that I can intuit the creative urges calling me to let go and let be.

I do what I love to do when I feel stuck in my head. I wake up Beaumont the Sheepadoodle who is sleeping on the floor by my feet and go for a walk through the forest and grasses that line the riverbank near our home.

I am immersed in nature.

It is there I find myself letting go of thinking about the page and simply allowing what is whispering to be released to come alive.

Creating this altered book journal, My Mother’s Prayers, has been an amazing journey. It has connected me through time and space within the sacred field of grieving and remembering and honouring and healing..

There are so many moments in my relationship with my mother where pain and regret and despair rippled in angry waves creating crenellated, hardened folds in my memory banks. Over time, the folds solidified and I became stuck in believing only distance would keep me safe.

Creating in this journal has felt like standing in a gentle spring rainshower with my head tilted up to the skies. My arms are spread wide. The rain caresses my face and the breeze flows gracefully throughout my being. I am present to and within it all. I am refreshed. Envigorated. Enriched.

In the present, the hardened folds soften, the crenellations become smooth and the edges drift away. The past quietly floats out of view like a boat on the river rounding a distant curve leaving me embraced in the present moment.

And I smile.

My mother no longer visits me while in the bath. She no longer insists I ‘listen up’.

I like to think she’s having the time of her afterlife, living it up for all she’s worth in the heavenly realms of her prayers. Dancing with her brothers. Laughing at my father’s sweet nothings whispered in her ear as he nuzzles her neck. Sharing a meal at God’s table with her parents and brother’s and sisters and Aunties and Uncles and cousins who got there before her. “It took me awhile to get here”, she laughingly tells them all. “I had to clean up some business I’d left undone.”

I like to think she’s happy with how that ‘business with me’ is cleaning itself up. I like to think she too has found peace.

As I finished the final touches on this page, the quote came to me. “Her prayers were the whispers that calmed angry skies and turbulent seas.”

My mother’s prayers are like that boat. They are the sacred container carrying us all to safe harbour, in good times and in bad today. Whether she’s with us in body or in spirit.

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The following is the video I created of making this spread.

I am constantly amazed by how challenging a science video-editing is, and how creative.

I’m also sometimes quite frustrated with the technology and my lack of experience. Like syncing of the sound to video. I worked and worked to make it happen and finally had to accept, it’s not about perfection.

I also had to trust that in time, I will become more adept!

I hope you enjoy the video — sneak-a-peak — there’s even footage of Beaumont in the trees!

Thank you again Laura Hickli for sharing your amazing talent and voice. Mr. Butterfly is so perfect for this piece.

Watch Me Grow

I have spent much of my life trying to fit in. Trying to conform and belong, and to feel comfortable in my own skin. To find purpose. To discover my dreams and live them, fearlessly.

It’s been quite a journey!

Recently I was asked if I would consider sitting on the board of a not-for-profit. It’s in a sector I’m passionate about. It’s an issue I care about deeply.

I declined.

There are other ways for me to give back to community without immersing myself in the politics, grind and gristle of making change happen.

For many years, Kerry Parsons, my dear wise friend and amazing founder of The Academy of Emerging Women, would caution me about becoming too to ‘the pain body’. I didn’t really understand what she meant but would usually answer, “I’m not attached to it. I’m like a piece of Swiss cheese. I let the pain flow through me so I can nourish the whole.”

We don’t know what we don’t know until we step out of what we believe we know to see how much we don’t know, or don’t see, because we think we know it all. (Whew. That’s quite a convoluted sentence!)

Recently, while walking with another wise woman who was also once my boss and who is one of the most intelligent people I know, I was asked how long it took me after leaving the formal workplace to know what I wanted to do.

I laughed.

“I’m still working on that one,” I told her. I also told her that it took me a year just to get to a place where I didn’t feel like I wanted to be pulled back into the fray of the homeless-serving sector. Like my unique talents and gifts weren’t essential to ending homelessnss.

Fact is, others have stepped into the spaces I held and doing a mighty fine job of ‘the work’. Yes, their way might be different than mine. The truth is, every way makes a difference. Every way matters. And every way has value and benefits that my way could not achieve.

For me, after almost 20 years working in the homeless-serving sector and not-for-profit, I’m done.

Yup. Done.

Woo Hoo! It’s only taken me a year and a bit after leaving the workplace to be able to see that statement is my truth today.

I’ve come a long way baby.

I also told my friend that one of the things I realized about six months into my ‘rejuvenation journey’ was that I was addicted to the stress, chaos and turmoil of working in the sector. I was, as my dear friend Kerry suggested and I denied, “attached to the pain body.”

There is a belief that says you can’t get rid of a bad habit without replacing it with something more nourishing and healthy.

To replace my ‘pain body attachment’ habit, I am employing, deploying, engaging my joy muscles. I am all into attaching my body, mind, spirit, soul and vital essence to joy.

Like a wildflower in a field of plenty, I am growing wild and free. I am joyfully swaying with the winds of change sweeping through my entire being. Like a child dancing in front of her adoring parents’ eyes, I am flinging my arms above my head, leaping wildly in the air and screaming out loud in joyful abandon, “Watch me grow!”

as Soft As A Petal Falling

Altered Book Art Journal page — “My Mother’s Prayers” – ‘Soft as Petals’ “As soft as an angel’s kiss, her prayers fell like petals from the heaven’s above blessing everyone on earth.”

For the past three days I’ve been working on a video of my creative process. I filmed myself working on another page from the altered book journal I’ve been creating of my mother’s prayer cards, and have been editing and editing and editing…

It is a good stretch for my brain and a good reminder of how the creative process is not just founded in ‘art-making’, it is everywhere! I have to keep reminding myself that creating a video is in and of itself a creative process. Rather than thinking it’s taking me away from time in the studio, I am focussing on the value of learning new things and how it is expanding my capacity to evolve into new forms of creative expression!

The other day, after commenting on my Mother’s Prayer Cards art journal, someone asked if I was okay. “You seem to be grieving so deeply,” they said. “Are you okay?”

I appreciated their question and concern. It felt very loving.

The fact is, I told them in response, I feel great. Creating this journal of mom’s prayer cards, immersing myself in an exploration of the power of prayer and memory has been a very healing, loving journey. It has expanded my compassion for my relationship with my mother and deepened my knowing of her love. It has also given me an opportunity to heal some of the broken places of our relationship.

In the eulogy I gave for mom at her celebration of life, I wrote, “Being the youngest, I wanted to be the rebel. In fact, for a large portion of my life, I wanted to be anything but like my mother. I am so grateful that through her prayers, I have become more like her than anyone else I ever thought I wanted to be. As I sat with her in the quiet of the night over the final week of her life and prayed with her and sang to her and read to her, I realized that the gift my mother gave me was and is the one I cherish most in my life today – an unwavering belief in the transformational power of Love. “

Kindness was my mother’s North Star. No matter how unkindly I responded to her when she told me she was praying for me, she never responded in kind, she only responded in kindness.

Life is a journey. It isn’t about how fast we go on the road of life nor how long we’re on the road. It’s about how much kindness we invest into each step along our way. It’s about how much we joy we instill in each day and how deeply we fall into Love with everyone and everything on our path.

My mother would have been 98 today. In her life and in her passing, I have found myself growing deeper and deeper into Love through her prayers that continue to be a constant on my path. Thanks mom! Happy Birthday!

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About this altered book art journal page:

I started this spread knowing what the words were. They had appeared while I was in meditation before starting the page and were my guide as I created. “As soft as an angel’s kiss, her prayers fell like petals from the heaven’s above blessing everyone on earth.”

Love’s Enduring Embrace

In the memory of her prayers, my heart rests in Love’s enduring embrace — 2 page spread. My Mother’s Prayers – altered book art journal

The quote for this two-page spread in the altered book art journal I’m creating called, “My Mother’s Prayers” came to me after I painted in the bird and flowers.

I started the spread not knowing what would appear. I was ‘going with the flow’ and letting it happen as the paint hit the page. As with all the pages in this art journal, one of my mother’s prayer cards is affixed to the page.

There is so much healing grace in creating a project such as this. It invites me to focus on the lessons to be learned from my mother’s passing and her prayer cards. And, it opens me up to exploring those places within where the ‘mother wound’ has not yet come to rest in peace.

Along with the quote that came out of my journalling, “In the memory of her prayers, my heart rests in Love’s enduring embrace“, the phrase, “Learn from the broken. Live from the whole” appeared. Its resonance continues to soothe and illuminate my path.

An aspect of this spread that make it challenging is the fact that I was filming myself as I went along.

It was quite a journey.

Not the creating the two page spread part of the journey, but the, “Oh! Here’s an idea. Let’s create a ‘follow-along’ video of the process with all the bits and bytes of video you took Louise” part.

I do like a challenge!

Though, to be fair, it wasn’t the challenge of putting all the footage into a video that was the hardest. It was when my system crashed at 10pm last night wiping out 2 hours of work. That’s when I decided enough was enough for one day and went to bed.

I got up at 6 this morning and three hours later, Take 2 of the video was finished. Beaumont the Sheepadoodle was particularly grateful. The quick ‘pee break’ at 6am just wasn’t cutting it for him anymore!

One of my commitments to myself this fall is to get my online art journalling workshops started. This video is the first of what I hope is series of ‘follow-along’ videos showing my process.

It’s not perfect — but I sure am learning a lot as I create the videos and, I am growing in confidence with each step along the way.

The video is below — I would really love feedback, ideas, comments to help me grow and all that jazz.

Thanks!

The Threads That Bind Us

It is not time that binds us but the memory of the songs we sang, the stories we told and the love we shared. — My Mother’s Prayers Art Journal

It has been awhile since I posted, and since I sat in my studio creating.

A two week sojourn in Vancouver visiting my eldest daughter and family and then, the long drive home.

I love the 1,000 km drive up over the Coastal Rockies, across the lake country, up over Roger’s Pass, Kicking Horse Pass and the Rockies down the eastern slopes and onto the rolling plains. I love the solitude, the sense of being alone yet part of the ribbon of highway leading me eastward, leading me home.

As I drive, I love to listen to podcasts. One in particular, ‘On Being‘ with Krista Tippet.

The interview she did with Dario Roletto who has been called a sculptural artist, philosopher, and “materialist poet” continues to resonate. In it, Robletto talks about the power of memory to connect us.

It is that thought which inspired my latest two-page spread in the altered book journal, “My Mother’s Prayers,” that I have been creating for the past month or so.

Time is not the thread that binds. Memory is.

I don’t have a lot of memories of my grandmother. I only met her once. She came from India where she lived when we were living in Metz, France. She stayed with us for a month and while with us, I remember her always sneaking my brother and sisters and I money to go buy something ‘sweet’. At least, that’s what I think I remember her saying.

I don’t know if she had a sweet tooth or not. I don’t remember.

What I do remember is being fascinated by this woman who was my mother’s mother who lived in such a far away and exotic land. I remember how she dressed mostly in black. How she fluttered her hands when she spoke, just like my mother and how, when we went to Paris to visit her sons who lived there, she sat in regal grace amidst her vast extended family.

I remember the story of my Uncle Noel getting a plague from the police for his excellent driving and how everyone scoffed and laughed when it happened.

The day he got the award, the police were assessing drivers on the roads of Paris in an attempt to identify those who were obeying the rules of the road (a very uncommon practice in Paris) in an effort to encourage safe driving practices. My uncle had picked up Grandmother from the airport and was driving her back to Uncle Reggie’s apartment. An unmarked police car followed him, just that once, and he was awarded a safe driver citation. It was the only time in his driving career he did not speed, swear and gesture belligerently at other drivers and ignore all the road signs.

I also think that was the trip my brother stayed home alone for the first time. He ended up having a party that created quite a mess in our home. We brought Grandmother from Paris on that trip and when we entered the apartment and dad saw the mess, he was furious. Grandmother calmed him and thanks to her, George was not punished for his misdeeds.

It is perhaps that escapade that cemented the notion that ‘the sun rises and sets on the son’ in our household. Unfortunately, that notion would lead to a number of incidents and life travails that left him ill-equipped to handle the pressure.

But that’s another story.

This story is about my mother, my grandmother and me — Granddaughter. Daughter. Mother. Grandmother.

Just like my mother and grandmother. It is the thread of our being all of those roles that binds us. Unbreakable. Unchangeable. Inviolate.

As I journey through my mother’s prayer cards and my process of healing the ‘mother wound’ through remembering and honouring her life, her death and her memory through creative expression, I find myself softening. Ripening. Opening. Evolving.

It is a journey. An exploration. An awakening.

And I am grateful for it all.

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About this art piece.

“My Mother’s Prayers” incorporates the multitude of prayer cards that my mother collected throughout her life to guide her nightly prayers.

On every two page spread I include at least one card — some you can see, some I paint over entirely.

Throughout her life, my mother prayed. At times, I mocked her for her practice. Often, I challenged her offerings. It wasn’t until after I became a mother that my heart began to soften and understand her desire to keep me safe.

This page is about the trinity of being a daughter, mother, grandmother. Before affixing the heart behind the images of my grandmother, mother and me to the page, I tore it into three pieces and then reconnected it on the page.

Like life, our hearts can be hurt, feel heavy and broken. Yet, no matter how broken we feel, a mother’s heart is always open. Proving the adage true — a broken heart is an open heart and an open heart is a loving heart.

My mother loved deeply. Working on this journal is awakening me to her love on a very deep level.

Written on the upper right section of the heart are the words:

“Three pieces. One heart. Three lives. One song. Three stories. One prayer.”

My mother’s prayers whisper throughout time. They are the memory that binds us. The love that holds us. The gift that lives on.