Stop. Breathe. Listen.

This year has been heralded in with doing some things differently.

Like Beaumont the Sheepadoodle’s first saunter in the morning.

Up until the week between Christmas and New Year’s, my practice was to let him out the studio door on the lower level of our home to do his little wee and then, off to the park we’d go at 8:30 for our ‘big walk’ and his ‘big business.’

Determined to get my 10,000 steps in every day, I have changed it up. When I awaken, sometime between 6 and 7 am, (even there I’ve shifted as 7 used to be ‘sleeping in’ for me), the first thing I do is bundle up in my longest coat (I’m usually still in my pj’s), don a hat and gloves and winter boots, put Beau’s harness on him and with his extendable leash in hand, off we go for a saunter of at least 2,000 steps. It gives him time to do his big and small business, and it gives me a fresh awakening to the day (not to mention the first chunk of my daily 10,000 steps goal).

Sniffing everything on his path, walking with his ‘hooman’, checking out the geese along the river bank makes Beau’s heart sing.

Walking in the envelope of morning between dark and light awakens me to the beauty of the day and the world around me. The fresh crisp air on my face. The light shimmering on the river’s fast-moving surface. The crunch of snow beneath my feet – stir my senses and open my heart to the beauty of the morning’s song inviting me to take notice of the world all around me and breathe it in deeply. It awakens my heartsong.

In every heart there is a song. A unique beat that calls to each of us with its beguiling invitation to dance, to sing, to live boldly and realize our heart’s desires with every wild, unstoppable expression of our being here on this earth.

It begins with listening to the songs of the forest, the river, the world around calling us to…

Stop.

Breathe.

Listen.

No matter what you are doing today, I hope you take time to hear the trees and the earth, the rivers and ocean, sea and sky calling you to Stop. Breathe. Listen.

In the listening, I hope you hear your heartsong calling you to come alive and dance to the beat of your own rhythm as you set yourself free to express your heart’s desires.

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About the artwork:

Along with carving stamps (which is another thing I’m doing differently), I have been playing with making my own stencils. The birds are a stencil I drew and then cut from one sheet of soft foam. The background is made with acrylic inks, collage and a stencil of trees layered over many times with spray inks.

7 x 10″ mixed media on canvas paper.

What If Trees Can Talk

When the leaves fell and winter came, the trees did not stand naked against the sky and cry for mercy. They called to one another, as trees do, urging each other to stand together. Together, their leafless limbs called out, we can weather Arctic storms and Polar chills. Together, we are strong.

And snow fell and covered the earth in its virgin blanket and the sun beamed and the moon sang a song of the seasons turning, turning as the earth spun and the stars pricked holes into the dark of night so they too could watch the storms of winter pass through.

And the trees stood strong, together. They whispered amongst their kin, ‘Dig deep. Dig deep’. And they thrust their roots ever deeper into the frozen ground as the storms howled and snow fell and their sap ran slower, slower but always enough to carry the breath of life flowing inside their weathered trunks.

And the winds blew and the seasons changed and spring arrived with its beguiling invitation to blossom and flourish.

And tiny seeds poked their heads out of the earth and the sun welcomed them with its golden beams full of warmth and growing light. And buds appeared on the trees’ many branches and slowly, ever so slowly beneath spring’s warm kisses, they blossomed and flourished.

When winter came the naked trees did not cry out for mercy. They stood together and weathered the storms and when spring came, as is their nature, they blossomed and flourished again.

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About the artwork:

I have been exploring creating stamps. What fun! I carved the large leaf stamp, printed it with black ink onto a very sheer piece of pale pink rice paper. After creating the background, I affixed it to my journal page and then painted it with acrylic ink.

I also collaged in a piece of woven white rice paper and a pansy I had dried at the end of summer.

I love exploring, ‘what if’s’…

The ‘what if’ for this journal page was, “What if trees can talk?” According to Robin Wall Kimmerer author of Braiding Sweetgrass, they can. I like that belief.

The photo is of two stamps I’ve carved.

Vision Board 2021

I spent the morning gaining clarity on my path for 2021.

I hosted a session on Zoom on creating a Vision Board with two friends.

As we created, we laughed and chatted and shared stories and sipped our coffees and got glue on our fingers and on everything else too!

And like women gathering at the wekk, we found ourselves in that sacred space that opens up when women come together in community.

A Vision Board is a visual tool that is both metaphorical and literal. With the use of images and words, it helps focus your intention, your desires, your wishes for your life – or one particular area of your life.

For me today, my vision board focused on my ‘creative expressions’. What I want to consider, conceive, and create this year.

Perhaps the most powerful morsel of clarity (which takes a huge bite out of my self-doubt and sometimes confusing thoughts on what I want to do next) is the answer that appeared to the statement – The unifying link between my work and my love for [life is]… Visual Storytelling & Words.

Wow!

I didn’t know when we began at 9 this morning that I would find that response.

And that’s the beauty of spending three hours individually and collectively focussing on ‘self’ and creating a visual storyboard of ‘what I want more of in my life’ and ‘where will I place my focus?’ this year.

If you haven’t created a Vision Board for 2021 (or ever before) it’s Easy. Fun. Enlightening.

I’ll be creating a ‘cheat sheet’ on how to do it and will post it on my website. Stay tuned! I’ll add the link here when I’m done!

(And that comes from the clarity I gained this morning! How exciting is that!)

Thank you JD and SV for spending the time with me and for inspiring me to focus my attention on the ‘what’ of this year.

What Will You Do?

The photo is taken from the bridge I look at when I am sitting at my desk.

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I cross it every morning when we take our first walk of the day. I am (usually) still in my PJs. My long black winter coat covers me well. There are usually not many people out at this ‘just before the dawn’ walk.

This morning, we set out about half an hour later than normal. I’m grateful we did as the sun greeted us as we turned back towards home.

We stoped in the middle of the bridge. Beau to sniff out all the scents. Me to breathe into the beauty around me and to listen to the river running fast and loud beneath the bridge.

The river runs noisy. An ice island is forming between the two middle buttresses of the bridge, pushing the water out into two separate channels on either side. The river flows in from the west, meets the tip of the ice island, separates and crowds itself into the narrow channels that run along either shore under the bridge.

I stop and listen. The rushing waters burble, leaping over each other in a wild cacophony of sound. Their glorious song is full of possibilities. As if the waters know, they cannot flow back to their beginnings and must keep moving ever-onwards towards the distant sea that waits with eager anticipation to embrace them.

The river carries no regret.

May we all travel like the river.

May we all carry no regrets.

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 What Will You Do?
  ©2021 Louise Gallagher 

 What will you do with the limitless possibilities 
 of this new year that reaches far beyond 
 the past you know so well 
 into the distant horizon you have not yet travelled?

 Will you turn your back on its promises
 dragging past hurts and pains and disappointments
 as you stumble and fall 
 beneath the burden of all you carry?

 Will you step forward, 
 lightly and confidently, 
 into the unknown promises 
 yearning to unfurl
  into the spaciousness created
 when you let go of the things 
 that do not serve you well on this journey?

 What will you do?

The Poetry Hour

Every Wednesday evening, for the past five weeks, I have gathered on Zoom with four other women and with our guide, Ali Grimshaw, poet, coach and facilitator and curator of the Flashlight Batteries blog, we have written poetry together.

I have attended many workshops and retreats and have always felt inspired by the community that is created when a group of people with a shared creative passion come together in support of one another and their craft. No matter how long the workshop, by the end I always feel like I have just participated in something rare and precious. It’s as though, in coming together, we wove the threads of our collective consciousness into a song of our human magnificence playing in harmony with life.

I always thought it was the physical space that facilitated those experiences. After five weeks in Ali’s virtual space writing with a group of women, all of whom met as strangers, I’m not so sure it has anything to do with the physicality. I think it has everything to do with the people.

We span several decades. Come from across North America (as the lone Canadian, I am the only ‘foreigner’). Have varied backgrounds and occupations, and still, in the collective space of the Zoom time we share, deep bonds of affection and admiration have been formed.

Last night, as we spent our last hour and a half together in this five week section, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay in that divinely special space and just breathe in the magic and wonder of the faces in front of me.

Thank you Ali for being you. Thank you for creating a safe, courageous space to write and share and be inspired. And thank you to Kelley, Chere, LilliAnn and Kayleigh for sharing your words, heart and light with such gracious care.

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I wrote both poems above during last night’s session. I created the painting with Slow Down during an online workshop I’d taken several years ago on the Divine Feminine. It was my first watercolour and collage. As I was getting to post this morning, that painting came into mind to go along with the poem. It was very serendipitous but I love how they walk hand in hand.

I took the photo accompanying My Heart Grew Weary outside our old home many years ago. I remember it was spring. The snow was melting and I had gone out in the morning with Ellie, the Wunder Pooch and saw the drops of melting snow on the fir tree’s needles. I had to capture it for beauty’s sake. I also remember being pleasantly surprised by my phone’s ability to take such a photo!

Love Is Always Present

There are moments when I forget these times. Moments when the reality of stay-at-home orders and masks and climbing case counts and even more sobering death tolls do not invade my peace of mind. And though those times feel fleeting, their presence warms me like my 5-month-old granddaughter’s smile or my grandson’s laughing insistence, I “look at this, YiaYa” when we visit on Facetime.

I cherish those moments of forgetfulness. They are precious.

Finding grace in a hurting world can feel hard. Yet, finding grace is essential if we are to lessen the load of worry, fear, sadness and angst that seems to engulf every conversation, in the real and virtual world.

“I’m not sleeping,” is a reality expressed by many.

“Stay safe,” has replaced ‘have a good day.’

“I am so sorry for your loss,” has become a too frequent salutation.

And so, to ease my mind and heart, to bring me back to grace and gratitude, I go into my studio and immerse myself in the creative process. It is there that I find myself breathing deeply into the expansiveness of the moment. It is there that I find myself coming home to my heart.

It isn’t that I no longer care about the state of the world. I care deeply. But, as I do not want my ripple to be felt in waves of worry and angst, I commit myself to doing everything I can to ensure my ripple flows out in calm undulations of loving-kindness.

Peace of mind comes with accepting that, though there is little I can do physically about all that is happening in the big, wide world beyond my studio doors, there is much I can do, must do, to tend to my heart and nourish my circle of influence.

Immersed in creative expression, my heart and I have the courage to bear witness to all that is present in our world today, without expectation it is anything else than what it is. Absorbed by the muse calling me to express my heart through words and images, no matter what is happening in the world out there, inside me, I embrace reality. In Love.

In Love, all things seem less daunting or frightening. All things are possible.

For awhile, it seemed like Christmas would allow for in-house gatherings, albeit small, but at least some. But, the onslaught of the viruses incursions into homes across the province has dictated no in-house visits with anyone other than those who currently live in the home.

Facing a Christmas without family and friends has felt like a daunting prospect to me. I have struggled with finding a way to create a sense of connection, to share my love and joy in the presence of those I love even when we are not gathered around a table.

And so, I asked the angels to help me find a way to still create wonder and magic around a dinner table that will be missing so many hearts and faces.

And that’s where the angel placecards I’ve been creating come in.

Each angel will bear the name of someone who would have gathered around our table if times permitted. Each angel will be a messenger of love.

Immersed in their creation, I forget about ‘loss’ and those I miss and find myself in the beautiful, healing spaciousness of grace and gratitude. As I paint and doll up each angel, without conscious thought my mind and body focus on all that I have and all those who make my life so rich and beautiful.

And ‘the missing’ eases its grip and falls away.

Whatever your celebration, may we all find ways to ease ‘the missing’ this holiday season.

May we all find peace of mind and ease of heart no matter how dark the skies or few the faces around the table or painful the memories of Christmases past.

May we all know Love is always present. Where ever we are. Whomever we’re with. Whomever is missing.

And may the angels always kiss your heart with wings of grace, love, beauty and joy.

Namaste

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About the angels:

I painted 14 x 11″ sheets of Yupo paper with alcohol inks. Cut each sheet in quarters and with a stencil I drew and cut out of a sheet of computer paper, I traced the angel onto the back of each painted yupo sheet and cut them out. I painted their faces with acrylic pens and glued on glitter and glitz with a glue gun. The halos are thin wire covered in ribbon.

April Woman – Follow Your Own Path

April Woman #ShePersisted 2021 Calendar – available for sale at – https://etsy.com/ca/shop/DareBoldlyArt

Over the past 3 years of working with this series, I have created a number of stencils of ‘the women’ that I will occasionally reuse .

No. 52 #ShePersisted Series https://louisegallagher.ca/shepersisted

The original of this woman is No. 52 – “They said, You can’t always get what you want. She said, it’s time I got what I’ve always deserved. Equal rights. Equal voice. Equal opportunity.”

I reused the stencil to create the painting that appears as the April Woman in this year’s #ShePersisted Calendar. “They said, You need to follow our path. It’s better for us. She followed her own path and encouraged others to do the same. It was better for everyone.”

The significance of using the same figure, just in a different/altered way is important. We are all the same kind of different. Our human nature desires a sense of belonging. To be part of a ‘tribe’ or gang or community – something that lets us know we’re not alone. We’re not outcasts. We are part of something. We matter.

The challenge however is that, when we follow a path because it’s comfortable, we can lose our way and not see that our staying on the path is keeping those who created it, comfortable in their limited view of the worth and value of every human being.

It is then we must decide what path we want to be on. A path that reflects our belief in the magnificence of every being on this planet or one that limits the possibilities of some because they ‘don’t fit in’ or look the same or present as ‘unequal to’ an invisible measure of success or class or faith or humanness we don’t buy into, but in our silence and presence in the group, uphold.

When we decide to heed the inner calling to spread our wings and create a path where everyone is free to travel and find their belonging in their own unique way, we step off the road more travelled and start creating a world of infinite possibility – for everyone.

In that creation, when we carve our way through life guided by our values, principles and belief in the worth of every human being, we become beacons of light encouraging others to do the same.

It doesn’t mean we’re no longer part of ‘the tribe’. It means we are part of the human race where we are, every one of us, free to journey on our own path that is beautiful in its distinctively unique voice, way, style and perspective.

It is then that our differences turn up in living colour. Full of life. Full of possibility. Full of Love.

And in that multi-hued and multi-faceted world, every path is honoured, every voice recognized worthy and every human being on planet earth gets what every being on this planet deserves – Equal rights. Equal voice. Equal opportunity.

A world where everyone of us is worthy of being part this one, beautiful and magnificent human race.

Namaste.

The #ShePersisted Series Calendar is Here!

I did it!

Yesterday, I decided it was time to ‘get real’ with my #ShePersisted Series paintings.

I made a start.

I spent the day creating a desktop calendar and video to go along with it.

And… you know that saying, the devil is in the details?

Well, after spending several hours loading in the photos, smoothing out the page turns, creating graphics and getting the music to sync I read the fine print on Etsy.

Videos are 5 – 15 secs. No sound.

LOL — man those details can be annoying!

Today, I shall create a soundless short video to put up on my Etsy Store a

There is a silver lining. The 1 min video I did create gave me lots of opportunity to stretch my video-editing skills, and, I do have good promotional video for the calendar! Win/Win

It also gave me a chance to use one of my favourite songs by Taylor Cochrane of 36? fame.

So… if you want to hear 1 min 14 seconds of Man at the Door by 36? please do click on the video below.

Full disclosure… Taylor is C.C.’s incredibly talented son. Once you hear him, you’ll understand just how talented.

I have been blessed with Taylor and his partner Laura Hickli’s permission to use any of their music in my videos. It is both a privilege and a gift to be able to share their music and to in some small way support them in their creative endeavours.

And now, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I are off to walk beneath winter’s soft grey sky and falling snow.

Once I’m back, I shall continue to update the #ShePersisted Series on my website and work on a new painting.

It’s the ‘thing’ I find so inspiring and amazing about the creative process. When I least expect it, ideas drift into my mind calling my imagination to run wild in creative fields of abundance.

The quote that drifted in as I lay between awake and dreaming this morning is:

“They said, it would be easier for everyone if you play by the rules.”

“She said, It’s not about easy. It’s about fairness, justice and dignity for everyone.”

Stay tuned for No. 61 (or is that No 59 or 62? gotta get that numbering fixed! :)) in the #ShePersisted Series.

The full version of The Man at the Door is available on your favourite music-listening site. Or click HERE to listen to it on YouTube.

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Click HERE to order from DareBoldlyArt on Etsy. Or DM me.

They make a great stocking stuffer! 🙂

No. Never. No More. (#ShePersisted Series)

No 60 (something) in #ShePersisted Series – mixed media on watercolour paper.

I hadn’t realized how long it has been since I last created a painting for my #ShePersisted series.

I thought I was done. Finished. Had enough.

The muse had other ideas.

I listened. Because… as No. 57 (or is it 60?) says…

No. 60 #ShePersisted Series

They said, you’ve come a long way baby.
Be happy.

She said, there’s still a long way to go.
I’ll be happy when dignity and justice, equality and love
are the way for all humanity.

And here’s how I know how long it’s been since I created No. 60… (which I think is actually No 57 because I seem to have skipped a number here and there in the process – I really need to go back to elementary school and take arithmetic!)

To figure out the No. for this latest painting, I had to go back into my FB feed and check it out.

No. 60 was created in March — of 2019.

And yet, now, more than ever, ensuring every voice is heard, everyone is counted is as important today as its ever been.

We need to do better.

As a human race. As a society. As a collective. As individuals.

We need to do better.

We must.

We can.

Let’s do it.

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PS – I also have to do better at updating my website where all the paintings for the series are displayed. Apparently, I’m still at No. 52.

And another PS… I have had a couple of inquiries about a calendar for the series. For the past two years I have created a small desktop flip calendar with 12 of the paintings.

I’m in the midst of creating a new edition for 2021 with availability by November 30. Just in time for the season of giving!

If you’re interested in possibly getting one, (they’re about $18 +shipping) I’d love to know – especially if you have a ‘fav’ you think should be included. The series (up to #52 but I promise to get the rest uploaded today! 🙂 ) can be viewed HERE. Send me an email or leave a comment.

Thanks!

This was the 2020 version (which was the same as the 2019). 2021 will be 12 different paintings with corresponding messages.