Category Archives: Radical Wholeness

What Dreams May Come…

I am in the between space of sleep and awakened, dreaming.

I am walking through a jungle. Struggling actually.

I am chopping down vines, watching out for snakes and muttering about the people following me. “Can’t they find their own path? Why do they need to follow in my footsteps?”

I am also scared. I can feel the fear clinging to my skin like the sweat that rolls down my back in the heat and humidity of the jungle.

I keep whacking at the vines. Possibly a tad too violently, but hey! They’re thick and unruly and blocking my way.

I pause to catch my breath and someone from behind bumps into me. I turn to tell them to be careful and stop.

It is me. Just a younger me. Maybe a teenager, almost adult me.

I look behind this me and see more me’s.

“Oh,” I think. “It’s me following me. No wonder they don’t go somewhere else. They can’t get away from me.”

I laugh (okay more smirk but I’d like to think I find myself funny in this predicament) and turn back to begin whacking at the vines blocking my path forward.

That’s when the inner wise woman whispers to my heart. “What would happen if you just stopped whacking your way through everything and invited the other you’s to join you in the silence and beauty of this moment where you’re at right now.

I want to tell the inner wise woman what a stupid idea that is, but I don’t. I’ve learned through the years and all my experiences that when I listen deeply to her wisdom, I find myself in peace and love.

I sigh. (I may not talk back but I am not willing to give in graciously. Yet.)

“Fine.”

Quickly, I clear a space in the jungle where I can sit in a circle with all the other me’s.

Wow. There’s a lot of them. All varying sizes, shapes and ages. But they’re all me.

In the light that is able to filter through the clearing, I see their faces.

“Why do you keep following me?” I ask them. A tad huffily but not quite as ungracious as my ‘Fine’ response to the inner wise woman.

“We have nowhere else to go but be with you,” one of the me’s, she’s about 30, says to me.

“Aren’t you tired of following me?” I ask.

They all laugh in unison. “YES!” they cry out as one.

“Then stop,” I reply.  Ha! Take that inner wise woman.

The smart-alec me, she’s about 13, smiles at me knowingly. “Hmmm. You just don’t learn do you?”

“Of course I do,” I reply huffily. I do not say, well if you’d learned your lessons way back when maybe I wouldn’t have said what I said now!

I think I’m pretty smart.

I sit and smile smugly at all of the me’s gathered in the circle.

No one says anything. They just sit silently watching me, their eyes loving and kind.

Finally, I break the silence. “What am I supposed to do with all of you?” I wail. “I gotta get through this jungle and you’re slowing me down.”

Just then, the inner wise woman whispers into my heart, “Invite them in.”

“Yes,” say all the me’s gathered in the circle. “Invite us in. Welcome us. Love us. We are all part of you.”

I am a bit taken aback by their response. They can hear her too?

And, seriously, there’s a lot of them…

But I know truth when I hear it.

And I’m tired of fighting myself.

So I invite them in. Embrace them. Integrate them within my entire being.

And as I do, the jungle disappears and I am standing on a hillside, bathed in sunlight. Birds sing. Flowers blossom. Rabbits play in the grass.

I am no longer afraid. No longer sweating. I am home.

_______________________________________

So… this dream really did come to me this morning as I lay in bed, not quite awake, not quite asleep.

It is profound.

In times of crisis, inner knowing and beauty can rise to the top if we are willing to stop fighting what we wish was true. In loving acceptance of ourselves (all our selves) we flow into acceptance of what is. In that place, regardless of the times around us, love and grace flow freely. We are free.

Namaste.

 

Creating An Oasis of Calm

At the bend, where the river curves and carves its way through the vestiges of winter’s ice, in that place where two benches wait to beckon visitors to come and sit awhile, two ducks waddle across the snow-covered ground honking for no reason but that they can. Above them, a squirrel chatters in a tree, leaping from limb to limb.

I stop to watch and listen. I stop to breathe and bear witness.

I needed to stop. To standstill. To breathe in the fresh cool air redolent of spring to come. I needed to stop and be present to all the life that was happening in that moment where the river flowed through the ice, the ducks waddled past and the squirrel flew through the air.

In these uncertain days of a virus hellbent on disrupting life as we know it, of lives shuttered in homes under fear’s relentless onslaught and incident counts climbing, I needed that moment of calm. That moment unburdened of anything but the beauty
of nature flowing by, the wonder of ducks walking past and the magic of a squirrel leaping.

I needed to stop. I needed to be reminded of life, and nature, and beauty.

______________________

I took a day off from the studio yesterday. And, while I did not create in that space, I baked bread and wrote the above piece about a photo I took on one of my walks with Beaumont. I spent half an hour watching the Live VideoCam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (meditative and calming),  I did some yoga. Checked in with family and friends via phone and Facetime and watched Coldplay’s Chris Martin’s Instagram pop-up concert (delightful!)

I also started working on a weekly art challenge to share with everyone — Creative Daring (more to come on that one — it was my eldest daughter’s suggestion) and spent some time exploring the Musee D’Orsay via the internet as well as reading a novel.

It is all part of my commitment to add calmness and beauty to the world. To create spaces of serenity and ease. To be the change I want to see.

It doesn’t mean fear doesn’t lurk at the edges of calm, seeking a crack through which to slip in and play havoc with my peace of mind.

Doesn’t mean I am zen-like in my aplomb.

It does mean that I am consciously feeding my peace of mind what is healthy and calming. I am actively disengaging from the constant scouring of the news I was prone to lapse into before I ‘got conscious’.

Fear leads to panic. Naming my fears leads to knowing them, and knowledge is invaluable — not the knowledge that comes from feasting on news reports of the latest statistics and growing crises around the world — but the kind of knowledge that reminds me of my own power to create ripples of calm, joy, beauty all around me and within me.

So that’s one of the other things I did yesterday — I named my fears.

I wrote them out on a piece of paper.
Studied them. Acknowledged them.
Welcomed them in and let them know —
I see you. I hear you. I know you.
I appreciate that you believe that in your presence you are only trying to keep me safe. I get it.

Please hear me.
I’ve got this.
You can rest now.
My loving self is in charge. My peace of mind is rising up to embrace you and all of me in its caring, considerate, calming arms.
I am okay.

I felt better after I’d done it. Sure, some of my fears feel real, like they’re of substance.

Fact is, they are all based on the unknown. Based on ‘what if’s’ and ‘oh no’s’ that run rampant through my thoughts when I let my fears take the reins of where my mind wants to go when fear-driven.

Fact is, whatever happens, will happen. My job is to ensure I am doing all the right things, right now, to create love and harmony, peace and calm, and above all, well-being, in my world around me. This world where my beloved and I share our home, our lives, our love.

In this space, whatever happens next has a better chance of being something I choose, not something imposed on me.

Knowing I am doing whatever I can to create an oasis of calm (and good health) in my life and our home, gives me great peace of mind, and strengthens my capacity to weather all kinds of weather.

What are you doing to take care of you? What are your tips for creating an oasis of calm in your world today?

 

 

Love in. Love out. Love in. Love out.

I carry it with me.

No matter where I go. No matter what I do. What I’m thinking, saying, hearing, feeling. I carry it with me. And it carries me. Through. Into. With. Of. Everything I do and say, think and hear and feel.

My breath.

In. Out. In. Out.

In these crazy, uncertain times, my breath carries me.

It sustains me. It nourishes me. It keeps me alive.

I feel so helpless in the face of the news. I feel so scared. There is so little I can do, but whatever I do, I must ensure it sustains, protects and nourishes me, everyone in my world and all the world around me.

And so I breathe.

In. Out. In. Out.

As I breathe in, I imagine love all around me. It flows into my body with my in-breath. It courses through my arteries. Is carried into every vein, every molecule, every cell every fibre of my being.

I breathe out. I imagine the love that fills me up, rippling out into every molecule of my exhale.

I imagine love flowing out. Flowing out into the world around me, filling every molecule, every cell, every breath of air around me.

Love in. Love out.

It may not stop a virus from attempting to slip in undetected, but it does calm my heart, ease my mind and bring me peace.

And with peace of mind and heart, I am better able to cope with fear, uncertainty, anxiety.

With peace and love rippling through my body, I am present in the here and now without fear stealing away the moment.

Love in. Love out.

Love in. Love out.

And so I breathe.

 

Nothing Is Too Heavy For Love.

There are many names for it.

I call it fear.

Fear of being exposed. Seen. Known. Fear of diving deep into what lies beneath the surface of the words skimming the page. Fear of falling into the darkness and losing the light.

I feel this fear. It stalks me like a wolf slipping through the trees. Camouflaged by nature. Eyes peering out of the shadows. It follows my steps. Waiting.

I keep walking.

I do not want to stop and look for it. I want to pretend it’s not there. Not stalking me. Not waiting. I want to pretend it does not exist.

I am better than this, I tell myself.

And fear laughs. It knows better.

I want to turn around, go back, rewind time.

I want to rid my body of this urge to write, to tell the stories damning my arteries. I want to free myself from these chains.

“It’s not fear,” the voice inside my head, the one that loves me in all ways, even in my brokenness. quietly whispers. “It’s grief.”

I shrug my shoulders. dismissive. Angry. I step on a dried leaf lying on the forest floor. The crackling of its spindly spine breaking rustles in the silence.

Grief?

I want to laugh. To pretend I didn’t hear the voice. I want to run deeper into the forest where the peering eyes cannot see me. I want to become a tree.  Silent. Rooted in nothing but soil and dirt.

I want to be invisible.

I can’t move.

“The river is struggling to flow free of unwritten words,” the voice whispers.

“I can’t,” I tell the voice.

“You know better.”

And I do. Know better. And I know nothing at all about this thing called grief.

“Grief is a river,” the voice whispers. Is it the trees? Is it the hawk skimming the water’s surface?

Is it the wolf?

I want to block my ears. Shut off my mind.

I open my mouth, “Damn that river.”

“You have,” the voice replies. There is no rancour in its words. no condemnation. Only patience. And love.

“It’s been a week,” I hiss.  “I’m done with this.”

“Life is never done with you. Even after your death, life carries your spirit,” the voice lovingly replies. “It is carrying your mother now.”

I sink down onto my knees. The forest floor is damp. Musty.

I gather a bunch of dead leaves in my hands. I raise them up. A priestess extending an offering to the forest goddess. To the Great Mother.

A ray of sunlight splinters through the foliage above. I release the gathered leaves from my hands. Dust motes shimmer and dance where the light finds them drifting effortlessly to the ground.

Bowed beneath the weight of that which I cannot express, I press my forehead to the earth and breathe into the darkness of its mysteries, its beauty, its light, its life and its dying nature.

“I’m tired,” I whisper to the Great Mother of this earth upon which I kneel.

“Let me carry you,” she replies.

“I’m too heavy.” The words come out as a sigh. A plaintive whisper escaping on a breath of air.

“Nothing is too heavy for Love,” the Great Mother replies.

A ghostly breath of air, soft as a feather, brushes against my skin. The leaves rustle.

I rise up from where I kneel on the forest floor.

I turn and peer into the darkness of the trees around me. I spy the wolf’s eyes watching me.

“I see you,” I say. I take a breath. “I come in peace and in grief. I come in sorrow and in fear. No matter what I carry with me, I come in Love.”

The wolf blinks his great yellow eyes and slowly lowers himself to the forest floor. I watch his eyes close. He falls effortlessly into slumber.

Life whispers through the leaves of the trees moving in the gentle breeze that stirs their branches.

Life lays silently beneath my feet where fallen leaves decay.

Life is here. So is fear. Sorrow. Decay. Grief. Joy. Gratitude. Grace.

And always, Love.

I carry on through the forest. The wolf slumbers. The trees fall silent.

The Great Mother carries my weight with loving care. The earth holds me up.

Namaste.

____________________

Thank you DS for your call. Your words of love and encouragement. Your beauty and honesty.

In the studio. I am free.

Your Heart Knows
Mixed Media
11 x 14″ on canvas paper
©2020 Louise Gallagher

Listen to the beat of your heart.
It is unique.
It is your song of joy.

There is a song in every heart, a unique, precious beat that calls each of us to come alive, to ‘live true’, to walk our own path, dance our own song.

In the studio, there are few questions about what is ‘true’ for me. There is only what is appearing as my thinking mind quietens and I sink into the embodied present where I am connected through and to all of life. Immersed in the process, my intuitive being guides me as I fearlessly throw colour and texture onto the canvas.

In the studio, there are few questions about right and wrong, is this best, is this going to work, what do I do next?

In the studio, I feel safe to feel, to hear my heartbeat, my intuition, my deep inner knowing.

In the studio I am free.

Time in the studio teaches me about life, about living true through being who I am without worrying about being someone else, some other way, some other person’s or society’s idea of what is best for me. Unfettered by concerns of the ‘outside’, I listen into the rhythm of my heart and allow all my senses to awaken.

Being in the studio I come alive.

Take the painting above. I had zero idea as to what I was creating yesterday when I began. Much of the painting is the result of a ‘happy accident’ along with a bit of impatience on my part.

I’d begun the day creating backgrounds on deli paper — it’s a wonderful free-fall process of putting paint onto a Gelli Print Pad, making marks and pulling off prints. The deli paper is ideal as it’s relatively translucent and much stronger than tissue paper which tends to tear when it gets wet.

As a girlfriend had joined me in the studio I was showing her how to create a background painting and then collage in the deli paper prints to create interest and texture. Because I was impatient, the printed heart I’d used was still wet when I applied gel medium to get it to adhere to my painted background.

Most of the paint lifted off and suddenly, I had a whole new ‘look and feel’ to work with — as in, the heart became a different colour, was larger than originally intended and had some interesting marks in it that weren’t there when I first began.

From that point, adding colour, more marks, more pieces of printed deli paper along with collaging in bits of ephemera was pure fun – no plan, no ‘thinking’, just playing.

I may still go in and work on it some more. Play with gold. Maybe some white because the beauty of intuitive painting is – ‘done’ is just a relative term. I’m not seeking a final product. I’m breathing through the process, exploring my intuition, relishing the expression of ideas transformed into energy on the canvas and living through the process of expressing what is present. Not a version of what I want it to be but rather, guiding it into becoming what is seeking to express itself through me.

I played in the studio yesterday.

In the studio I am free.

Morning Reveries

A Chinook arch hangs low in the sky above the city.

The temperature rises with the warmth of its breath caressing the air.

The sun hides behind the arch.

I sit at my desk listening to piano music softly playing in the background, my fingers resting lightly on the keyboard of my laptop. Thoughts skitter through my mind like the squirrels leaping from tree branch to tree branch outside my window. The warm winds have cajoled them out of their nests. They run across the snow. Play chase in the trees and bushes.

On the far side of the river, the water runs freely in a slim channel under that hugs the shoreline.

Outside my window, on this side of the river, there is only the stillness of ice stretching out from the river bank.

The river lies quiet in the morning.  The ice clings to the cooler temperatures of night. Its surface is a glassy expanse of smooth ice and granulated snow blocks backed up against gravel bars that stretch out from the abutments beneath the bridge.

Morning has broken. Day has begun. I want to cling to the soft, cloying blanket of sleep. To remain cocooned beneath the covers, my body pressed up against my husband’s back.

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle has other ideas. Morning business calls. His wet nose pushes against my hand lying on top of the covers. He pulls me from my slumber, out into the coolness of the morning.

Day has begun. Morning has broken. The sky hangs low and grey. I stretch my body into the day. Welcome the softness of the air against my skin.

Morning has broken.

I greet the sacredness of this day with a whispered prayer of gratitude.

Morning has broken.

Here I am.

__________________________

I am grateful to David Kanigan of Live & Learn who shared a verse from Rainer Maria Rilke, “Part Two XIV,” from Sonnets to Orpheus on his blog this morning. Rilke’s words caressed my mind, stirred my heart into morning reveries.

 

 

Painting naked and other fears

My Husband and Me – Mixed Media on Canvas Paper – 11 x 14″ – ©2020 Louise Gallagher

 

Yesterday, I spent hours giggling and laughing as I dived into creative expression, drawing and painting and adding whimsical touches to what I’m calling a ‘Self-Portrait’ of C.C. and me. He’s the taller one. 🙂

What I didn’t do was what Eric Maisel, Ph.D. suggests in his book, Fearless Creating – A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting and Completing Your Work of Art — paint naked.

Georgia O’Keefe did it. Chagall. Victor Hugo – they all worked naked. According to Maisel, it’s the path to unleashing the wildness within. He writes in Fearless Creating:

The wildness has many faces. It is an amalgam of passion, vitality, rebelliousness, nonconformity, freedom from inhibitions.  Think of this wildness as “working naked.”

The thought of working naked makes my heart beat fast… with fear.

I get what he’s suggesting. I’m just not there. Yet.

It’s a fascinating and tantalizing idea. I can understand its premise and how it could free me up to ‘the wildness’ – that place within where my aliveness is made manifest with purpose and calmness. “A wild person with a calm mind can make anything,” writes Maisel. “A hushed, wild person is a god, a marvelous actor, a marvelous cellist, a marvelous writer, a marvelous sculptor. Creators are hushed wild people.”

I want to be a hushed ‘wild-one’. I yearn to live from the wildness within me, to set myself free of living by norms that tame my self-expression and do not invite me to run with scissors in my hands into the fires of life calling my heart to run wild and free.

And I hesitate to paint naked.

I also recognize that in my hesitation I am making visible the strings that keep me tied to living my life ‘by the rules’, not taking risks with my art-making, and not being 100% committed to my creative expressions.

Ridding myself of my inhibitions, curbing my need to ‘fit in’, to not rock the boat has been a life-long process of undoing lessons learned as a child and cemented on the road to adulthood on how the world works best — i.e., Don’t rock the boat. Be a good girl. Don’t speak up unless asked. Do what you’re told. Quieten down. Follow the rules…

Yesterday, I painted a whimsical self-portrait — just for the fun of it.

I may have kept my clothes on but I did let myself off the hook of worrying about making ‘good art’ and fed my soul with colour and whimsy.

It was a day of pure delight, my senses flowing with the muse and my heart leaping with joy as I let myself get swept away in creative expression.

Yesterday, I painted.

Maybe one day, I’ll be free enough to paint naked, or at least, as Maisel suggests, do what feels hard to do. Start with doing the dishes naked and work from there.

Perhaps it’s time to put blinds on the glass doors of my studio…