Category Archives: Radical Wholeness

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…

 

Love is the Way

What if I didn’t question the path before me and accepted that it is blessed and that all I need to do is take each step in the presence of Love.

The question arose in my meditation. It shimmered in the morning light, sliding along the frozen surface of the river outside my window. And, like the waters immediately in front of me, my mind became still, accepting and reflecting both the darkness and the light, the depth and the shallowness of my thoughts.

What if I believed the path was blessed and I had to do nothing but take each step?

And the muse answered — There would be no misstep. Only beauty shimmering in darkness and light in its depths and shallows. There would be only the perfection of each step filled with Love.

It was a scary thought. To hold true that each step before me was blessed. For, if I truly believed each step before me was blessed, I would dance in the light of Love. I would sing loud. I would laugh and spin about. I would embrace fearlessness in each step. I would not fear falling, shining, being my all and my nothing. I would not fear.

I wrote in my journal:

The Path is the Way. Trusting in the Universe I find The Way to trust in the Path where each step unfolds as a blessing before me.

We seek to fill our lives with that which we think is missing. What if we chose instead to subtract? To take away the things that do not work rather than layer over them with more and more?

What if, instead of seeking love, we chose to believe Love is always present, flowing eternally within and all around us?

Breathing into all that is not present when I still my mind and body, I found myself remembering to sink back into that place where I know, deep within me, that all my seeking to know the way, to understand the path, is just a way to keep myself busy from being all that I am.

When I let go of seeking, I open my heart, my mind, my body and soul to being present.

And in my being present with all that is, I become, all that I am, connected to all that is present – Love.

May your day be filled with being all that you are when you stop trying to become all that you tell yourself you can be if you only had more of everything.

Namaste.

While my husband lay sleeping.

On Saturday morning, after taking Beaumont the Sheepadoodle out for his morning business, I carried my coffee and the newspaper back to bed. As my husband slept beside me, I opened the paper to the insert honouring the 57 Canadian victims of Flight 752, shot down by a missile in Tehran last week.

I did not want to read it. I did not want to read all the stories, the names, see the photos. I didn’t want to. But, I knew I must. This was the one small thing I could do in this tragedy that leaves me feeling helpless and frightened for the future of our planet.

I lay in bed, tears streaming down my cheeks as I learned about the lives that were lost, about the people who loved them, stories from their co-workers and friends. Though insignificant in the totality of the tragedy, that hour spent reading about their lives made a difference to me. In that act, I could pay tribute to those who died, and their families who must now learn to live with the empty spaces their loved ones once filled.

I am not sure if I could have done it if I was alone in my bed, an empty space beside me.

But I don’t have to think about that as my husband is here, not gone like those who lost their lives on that flight and the countless others who will lose their lives today in other atrocities we humans inflict upon one another every day.

I want to be angry. I want to get mad. To express my sadness and sorrow in ways that make others feel as badly. I want to demand we all ‘wake up’ and stop killing one another.

And I know that none of my demands and assertions I know best will change the world for the better. My anger and blame-throwing will not create a safer, kinder planet. It will not add to the more of what I want to see in this world.

Only Love can do that.

I must choose Love.

Love is the one force, the one presence that is present in it all. In the anger, the sadness, pain, sorrow, grief, despair,

Love is always present.

It flows eternally, waiting forever for us to awaken to the truth of our humanity:  We are not separate beings walking in isolation on a planet made up of many singular people acting as individuals or collectively under individual flags. We are One humanity co-habiting this One planet. A collective humankind that has the power to create life or destroy it.

It is our choice.

When one of us walks in anger, we all feel it. When one of us kills another, the loss is universal. There is no one person to blame, no one country at fault. We are all accountable. All part of the tragedy and the loss of our humanity and the destruction of our planet.

Flight 752 took off from Tehran airport last Wednesday carrying the hopes and dreams of those on board as some travelled towards home and some to new adventures. Those 176 passengers and crew will never come home. They’ll never explore new horizons, never experience their dreams coming true. They’ll never again brush their teeth or tuck their child in bed with a goodnight kiss and a whispered prayer for ‘sweet dreams’. They’ll never again know the feeling of laying in their loved one’s arms or the excitement of running into the arms of their families waiting for them at the arrival gate.

They will never take another breath, another step, another bite of an apple, a pear or the sweetness of life. They are gone and the empty spaces they leave behind will now be filled with the tears of those who carry their memory and struggle to find meaning in the empty spaces they once filled.

I read the stories of the lives lost on Flight 752 on Saturday morning. The space beside me was filled with the comfort of my husband sleeping. And as I read, Love flowed freely, in my tears, my sorrow, my anger and my hope that one day we will choose that which makes life so beautiful and rich. That which makes life worth living –  Love.

Magic. Miracles. And Wonder

I am lying in the bath soaking up the heat and sensations of being immersed.

Thoughts float on the surface of my mind like the bubbles that surround me.

A bubble pops and a thought erupts. “This body covered by my skin is my ecosystem. When I do things, eat things, say things that impact my ecosystem negatively, I am harming my world.”

Fact is, my ecosystem is connected and dependent upon the ecosystems of everyone in my life, everyone I encounter, know, meet, have never met because my ecosystem is not an independent system, it relies upon the ecosystems of the world to live, breathe, move and thrive.”

I know. Heady thoughts while lying in the bath, but sometimes, you just gotta flow where the current goes.

We are all connected. Not just we humans, but the squirrel bouncing from limb to limb of the naked trees outside my window. The river flowing eastward. The snow covering the ground. The Arctic Vortex that covers our city in its ‘cold dome’ right now.

We and it and they are all connected. Interdependent. Intertwined. Participating in, supporting and being part of one universe.

What we do today makes a difference.

What we do with our time, thoughts, actions — it all matters. Not just to each of us individually but to the world and all its inhabitants, everywhere.

I awoke this morning. Arctic air surrounds my home. I am warm inside.

Outside my window, snow covers the ground, the river flows, trees stand naked, cars drive across the bridge towards the city centre.

I do not know exactly what this day will bring. Every moment is a moment for magic to erupt, for miracles to unfold, for the exquisite nature of life to reveal itself again and again.

I can stay open, expectant, excited by the magic or I can close the blinds and stay hunkered down inside the comfort of my home.

And as I type, I spy the unexpected. A bicyclist pedals across the pedestrian bridge towards downtown. It is minus Arctic outside and he is riding his bike through the freshly fallen snow.

I smile.

If I’d closed the blinds I would have missed the moment of wonder of his passing by.

Today, let me live with my eyes wide open to the possibility of magic, miracles and wonder. Let me breathe deeply into the awe of the intricate beauty and unexpected nature of this fragile planet upon which I walk and breathe and live my life connected to the world around me, part of the ecosystem of all.

Namaste

Tofino Solace

Wind blows. Waves crash. Trees bend.

Rain falls from grey sky melting into grey ocean. The horizon is a distant shrouded line drifting effortlessly into infinity.

The view from our room

I am in my happy place. At the edge of the rocks where land meets sea. Where seagulls swoop and the air is kissed by salt and sea.

This place of endless sky brings me home to where I find myself drifting effortlessly into restfulness, peace, tranquillity. In this place, I reflect and refresh. In this place, I settle in beside the fire and let my mind drift into the endless nothingness of being present, being at one with this moment in which I find myself drifting effortlessly into time present, past, future, to all that has brought me here to this moment right now where all of time is wrapped up in this moment, right now.

As the sounds of the bells ringing in the new year fade into the call of a new day unfolding, my heart skips a beat of recognition, of clarity, of excited anticipation. A calendar page turns and the story of my life shimmers with possibility on the spine of calendar days flowing, one into the next, in the story of my life unfolding.

The Lodge at Middle Beach

It was a year of great opportunity. Of growth. Of trial. Of struggle. Of possibility. Of excitement and stretching to find muscles I never new excited within me as I adapted and evolved, shifted and stretched my wings, my horizons, my possibilities. It was a year in which change beckoned and familiarity called me to hold on, to let go, to release and to let be.

It was a year to savour. To give thanks. To be grateful. To be content.

It was time past that was once each moment.

I sit by a roaring fire wrapped in gratitude and ease, the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks outside the windows find the rhythm of my heart and fill my soul with grace. Soft music plays. My beloved sits beside me reading.

I am at peace. I am at rest. I am here. Here I am.

Namaste.