He Gave Her Words

He Gave Her Words – mixed media on canvas paper 9 x 12″

Yesterday, when I stepped into the sheltering welcome of my studio, the muse whispered a tantalizing thought “He gave her words.”

Curious, I followed her lead.

I tore a page from an old book I keep on hand for just such occasions. I pulled out my GelliPad (a rubbery mat used for mono printing) and laid some colour down. Using the round end of a paintbrush, I drew a vase and flowers, laid the book page down and pulled a print.

The words on the page showed through. Cool. I kept going.

Pulled out a piece of deli paper, laid some more paint down (mostly darks), made more marks and pulled another print.

On the canvas paper page of my art journal, I collaged strips of paper from an old dictionary onto the page. The words defined on the torn strips all had to do with flowers. I collaged the deli paper printed page and then the printed book page onto the background and set to work creating a cohesiveness to the piece with paint pens, markers and fingerpainting – I had decided, somewhere in the process, that I wouldn’t use any brushes on this page. So I didn’t.

When I was finished, I placed my hands on the page, took a breath, closed my eyes and asked, “What words do you yearn to release?”

And the poem below came into being.

I am sharing my ‘process’ because it is, in so many ways, a reflection of life. We start with a desire to live life as best we can. We set goals. Follow dreams. Discover and use our talents. We gain knowledge. Expertise. Experiences. We layer on wounds. Scars. Cracks. They form the stories we tell ourselves about why or how we can or can’t do something. Those stories, made up of all the words we use to tell them to ourselves, again and again, create pathways, ruts, habits. Sometimes, we question their existence. Often, we accept them as natural limitations.

And then, one day, if we’re lucky or if we’ve hit such a devastating patch we cannot fathom how we will go on, we have no other choice but to start questioning the stories we’ve told ourselves about how we got to this dark and foreboding place. In our questioning, we start to unravel the words that formed those limiting beliefs that trapped us in believing this, this place where we feel so lost and alone and hopeless, is really all there is. Isn’t there more?

And then, if we’re really, really quiet, if we’re really, really still, we hear that voice deep within calling us to awaken. To open our eyes and heart and arms to the infinite mystery of who we are when we stop questioning our right to live wild and free and outrageously ourselves.

That’s when we begin the journey back to our truth. To the stories we tell ourselves, not of our limitations but of our limitless capacity to live wild and free and outrageously ourselves.

Yesterday, I stepped into the studio and the muse whispered, “He gave her words.”

I did not question, “What does that mean?”

I did not ask myself, “How on earth am I going to create something around ‘that’.”

Instead, I dove in. I let my intuition, my inner knowing guide me, unquestioning, into the creative expression of the muse’s invitation. I allowed ‘whatever yearns to appear’ to appear as I expressed myself without limiting my expression of my intuition by listening to all I tell myself I know about words and making sense of them or art and all I know about making it happen.

I stepped into the studio yesterday. I let go of ‘knowing’ and allowed myself to be present to the process of unveiling the mystery of what was seeking to be revealed.

And in the end, isn’t that what life is? A journey of exploration? A great mystery to be revealed with every step we take in its unfolding? Wild and free and outrageously ourselves.

He Gave Her Words
by Louise Gallagher

He gave her words
ripe and plump
full 
of plundered promises
plucked
from the strings
of memory
playing a melody
he vowed would never die
with the turning of each season.

He gave her flowers
colourful and bright
full
of tomorrows
never-ending
cast upon indolent days
spent languishing
beneath a summer sun
burning
hot against her skin.

He gave her promises
vanishing
like flowers 
wilting
beneath autumn’s kisses
bleeding colours 
dry
fallen
upon the frozen ground
of winter’s ice-cold breath.

He gave her words.
She gave her heart.

His words faded.
Plucked dry.

Her heart beats.
Fierce and free
of his words.

To Love Yourself Completely: Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

What will you do to love yourself completely?

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

Yesterday was no different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahhh yes. My heart sighed. Truth.

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

Find beauty in the broken places.

There are so many, my mind whispered.

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

Namaste

____________________________

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

Walking In Prayer

I found a wounded bird yesterday.

A girlfriend and I had met for a walk. I’d started at the off-leash so Beaumont wouldn’t feel too constrained walking for an hour on-leash. We headed east, along the path that winds its way along the river, my friend and I chatting and catching up. Beaumont walking beside us (between tugs on the leash). We walked about forty-five minutes in one direction before turning around to walk back to our starting point.

It was then that we spied the bird. Its tiny red and black feathered body lying in the middle of the sidewalk. Shivering. Barely breathing. Almost still.

We couldn’t leave her so I used one of Beau’s bags to gently pick her up and cradle her in my hands. I could feel her tiny heart beating fast. She was alive.

So we kept walking back to our cars in the hope that she was simply stunned by an encounter with another bird or perhaps a car.

As we walked, I kept breathing on her while my girlfriend held Beau’s leash.

As we walked, I whispered words of encouragement and hope over her tiny, inert body.

I pray for you wings to fly free. I pray for you blue sky days. And whether you body recovers and you flutter your wings or take your last breath dreaming of flight, know that you are held in hands full of Love.

Step. Breathe warm air onto her body. Step. Breathe warm air onto her body.

A walking prayer.

She still wasn’t moving by the time we got back to our cars so I tucked her gently onto the front passenger seat, ensured the seat warmer was on and Beau and I drove home.

At home, C.C. found a box for her. I lay my electric heating pad in the bottom, covered it with a towel and carefully removed the plastic bag I’d carried her in while I placed her on the warm bed we’d made.

As she settled into the nest she opened her eyes and looked at me. She wasn’t shivering any more. She just wasn’t moving very much.

I waited awhile to see if her strength returned. She moved around a bit but never tried to spread her wings.

As I’ve done in the past when I’ve found wounded wildlife, I called the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conversation (AWIC) for guidance. They rescue injured and orphaned wildlife throughout the province and provide professional care to support the rehabilitation and release of all rescued wildlife. During the day, they have volunteers who will come and pick up the animals, but, if there are no volunteers available, they have a network of vets in the city where you can take the animal for care until AIWC can pick it up in the morning.

Always, whenever I’ve called AWIC, the volunteer at the end of the line has been kind, helpful, caring.

Always, the experience has reminded me of the importance of taking care of one another.

Birdsong, watching the songbirds hop about in the bushes and trees in our backyard, spying them sitting on branches as I walk, always brings me joy. It’s as if the birds know we humans need their song and presence to lift our spirits.

We need to take care of the birds.

We found a wounded bird yesterday. I carried her in my hands and breathed warm air onto her almost weightless body,

She reminded me of how easy it is to take care of one another. How sharing a smile, a kind word, a gentle gesture eases the burden for those who have fallen along life’s paths.

I do not know if that bird will fly again or if she will gain her angel’s wings. I do know the songs she sang, the joy she brought into this world is a gift of nature that matters to our world.

Whether she takes to the skies again or gains her angel wings, I am grateful for our time together. She reminded me of the need to always walk gentle of heart, connected to nature.

Learning to live in harmony with nature is critical to the survival of our species. Living in harmony begins with taking care of one another.

We found a wounded bird yesterday. Her song was silent. Her wings still.

In our brief time together she reminded me of the need to care for one another. She reminded me that there is power in prayer.

And in that encounter, I am reminded of the constancy of my mother’s prayers. Tomorrow marks one year since my mother took her last breath. As I sit in the silence of the morning, as I walk in the woods, along the river, on busy city streets, I hear her whispered incantations showering me with care. They rustle in my heart like a sweet, gentle birdsong filling the air with Love.

Musings on a Cold Winter’s Morning

I had my hopes up. I was excited.

And then I checked the weather before taking Beaumont for his early morning walk. Still cold. -30C with windchill (-22F)

Dang. The weather folk said it would be warmer today. Now I’ve got to wait another day?

Nothing to do but do what I always do when it’s this cold. Bundle up. Go outside. Savour the beauty of the morning.

And that’s the thing. No matter how cold it is outside, dressing for the weather means I can enjoy the fresh morning air. I can enjoy the sound my boots make crunching on the snow and how the crisp air wakens all my senses. And, when Beau has done his business and we have crossed the bridge to get to the garbage can on the other side and turned around for the homeward journey, we return to a warm toasty home.

Inside, I give Beau a treat, make myself a latte and sit down at my desk in front of the big window over looking the river. The furnace hums. Beau stretches out on the chaise beside me and C.C. sleeps in our bedroom on the other side of the house. All is well with my world.

Outside, the sky is getting lighter. The trees stand in silent majesty along the riverbank separating our yard from the river’s wide expanse. Between the two shores and the huge ice island that has formed in the centre of the river, water flows. In the streak of light cast from the streetlight at the farside of the bridge Beaumont and I walked across earlier, the water shimmers and dances.

I breathe. Deeply. I allow my conscious mind to sink deep, deep into my belly where every breath in and out is an invitation to release myself to this present moment. Embodied in its wonder I sink deeper into the knowing of all that is and all that connects me to the mysterious beauty of life unfolding all around and within me.

Eyes still closed, I raise my fingertips to my keyboard and begin to type. I feel…

 I feel…
 my heart beat
 slowing
 my mind
 emptying
 my thoughts
 drifting away

 I feel…
 this moment
 teeming with life
 ever expanding
 out, out, out into the universe around me

 I feel…
 peace
 calm
 joy
 settle deep within me

 I feel
 at one
 connected
 present
 alive
 in this moment
 right now

I feel
complete 

Try it.

All you need is your laptop open in front of you, or a notepad and pen at the ready.

Let yourself sink deep into the quiet. Take a deep breath in, out. Close your eyes. Keep breathing. Keep sinking. Deeper. Deeper. Keep breathing. Imagine your conscious mind sinking, deeper, deeper into your body until it comes to settle in the well of your pelvic bowl. That deep mysterious, magical place full of your creative essence.

Now, eyes still closed… pick up your pen or raise your fingertips to your computer keyboard. Don’t worry about spelling. punctuation. sentence structure. just type/write. Don’t think. Just be present to whatever your belly mind wants to express.

Let go of judgement. Thinking about what to write. Just let the words flow.

Write until you’re empty. Complete.

And when you’re done, open your eyes. Take a deep breath and read whatever you’ve written.

Don’t judge. Don’t criticize. Don’t let your body go all tight and embarassed. Expand it. Loosen your shoulders. Relax.

And savour what spilled out onto the page.

And then, turn the page.

Life continues.

_____________________________________

I wrote a love poem yesterday. It’s for you and me and everyone.

If you’d like to read/see it, I’ve put it on my poetry blog – A Poetry Affair. It’s a gift from my heart to yours. Click HERE

The Story of Love

I lay in bed this morning, in that space between drifting and awake, my mind rootless, unfocussed.

Images floated through like the chunks of ice that keep floating past on the river’s surface, eventually drifting out of sight, disappearing into an unseen future, perhaps melting or getting stuck in an ice block somewhere upriver.

Like my thoughts. Drifting aimlessly until one comes into view and gets stuck in mental gymnastics.

“You can never begin at the beginning again.”

My mind jumped into alertness. “Of course you can,” it insisted.

The thought had other ideas. “Every beginning drifts into the ending becoming a new beginning. The beginning is gone, changed, morphed into something else. To begin at the beginning again, you must wind back all of time, all of what has transpired between the beginning and the moment you decide to begin again. And you cannot wind back time to make everything exactly as it was when you began. You have changed. The air around you has changed. Life has changed. That’s what life does.”

Seriously? Sometimes the thoughts in my mind are a bit too heady for my heart.

At that moment, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle decided he needed to go out and came and stuck his wet nose in my face.

I got up and left the heady thoughts on my pillow.

At least, that’s what I imagined I did.

Until I sat down at my computer and started to type and the thoughts from when I first began to awaken came hurtling back into my mind.

I can’t quite grasp them the way they appeared earlier. I tried. To go back to the beginning of the thought. But time, and awakening, going outside into the cold winter air while the sky was still dark and the air was filled with sounds of the river passing by changed the beginning, making it impossible to rewind my thinking back to the precise space where the thoughts began.

It’s a grey on grey kind of morning. Dark river flowing between white earth. Withered trunks of winter bare trees standing against a bleak tone-on-tone landscape, their leafless limbs extended up into a bleached sky. The delicate fronds of their outer limbs interlace with one another like the filigree of a necklace my mother gave me long ago. It was from India. A gold slipper of exquisitely interwoven strands of gold.

I no longer have that slipper. It was lost to a time when my world crashed into chaos I feared would never end.

The chaos ended but I could never go back to the beginning to unwind the devastation and pain of those years of terror and abuse. 

I could only go forward, gently weaving the many strands of that story into The Story of My Life – one where I live fearlessly and authentically in the beauty of my heart beating fiercely in Love with all of me, my life and everyone and everything in it.

Yesterday, I saw a meme on Instagram that asked, “What’s one thing from your past you wish you’d never done?”

My answer is, ‘Nothing.’

I can’t change the things I’ve done. Nor do I want to. Everything in my life has served its purpose of bringing me here, to this place. I am not powerful enouh to unwind time back to a given point where I can weave a different story of my life. This story. This one I live today was created through all the strands, all the darkness and light, the pain and joy, the hardship and ease I’ve experienced.

I love the story of my life today. It’s the only one I’ve got.  It is a story of Love.

And so, I do what I can do, must do, to keep Love flowing freely throughout my world and my being present, in this moment right now, connected through and in Love with all the world around and within me. I weave beauty out of what was and what is, letting Love be the warp and weave of all I create, all I do, all I am.

Namaste.

About the Zine - Created with one sheet of 9 x 12 mixed media paper, the backgrounds were monoprinted with acrylic paint. I used acrylic inks and gold pen along with gold foil to create the hearts. 
The story grew out of the paintings. 
The video was a 'just for fun' way to stretch my creative muscles.

Perhaps…

The muse and I have an agreement.

She flows. I open. Myself. The floodgates. The doors. The windows. The entrances to my heart, my mind, my body, my being present. Here.

And in all that is opened up I lose the need to know what word, what thought, what idea comes next and simply allow. The word, the thought, the idea to appear.

This morning, I sat at my desk. My final eggnog latte of the season steamed in my Christmas mug, (final because the container is empty). Beaumont the Sheepadoodle curled up at my feet, piano music played softly all around, the furnace hummed, my husband slept in our bed.

Outside my window, the sun was kissing the night good-bye with rose-streaked kisses.

I sat at my desk and welcomed in the morning with a soul-satisfying breath. It sank, deep, deep into my belly. Softly, silently, it flowed with ease into my lungs, down, down into the crucible of my body, And as I breathed in, then out, I felt my conscious mind sinking down, down into the presence of the sacredness of this life-giving ritual of breathing. With each breath, in and out, I felt my entire being expand into every cell of my body bringing me effortlessly into the hallowed nature of this moment at the edge of day dawning.

And the words poured out.

 Perhaps 
 ©2020 Louise Gallagher
  
 In a rush to make-meaning
 in all that has happened
 in all that has gone wrong
 or right
 in all that has been lost
 or gained
 I lose
 myself
 in the desperate struggle
 to not feel
 the loss
 of all I tell myself
 has been lost.
  
 Perhaps in my struggle
 to make it all
 make sense
 or have a purpose
 or fit into a box
 that only I can see
 I lose sight of
 all I cannot see.
  
 Perhaps, the meaning
 is in the experience.
  
 Perhaps, the making sense
 does not make sense.
  
 Perhaps, when I allow
 the purpose of everything
 to be the experience
 of everything
 without holding on
 to it all
 without fearing
 losing
 it all
 without judging it
 good or bad
 acceptable or unacceptable
 necessary or unnecessary
 I will find myself
 in that liminal space
 where all I have
 and all I am
 and all I know
 are nothing
 more than
 all I have to let go of.
  
 And, perhaps
 when I let go
 of naming
 all I have
 all I lost
 all I won
 all I know
 I will find myself
 in all I am.
  
 Perhaps then I will experience
 the all that I am
 as the most 
 precious 
 gift
 of all. 

Snow Falling At Dawn

Snow Falling At Dawn
Louise Gallagher
 
Sometimes, on mornings like this, 
 when the sky is gloomy grey 
 and snow falls softly
 as the world rests lightly 
 in the lingering tendrils of night's embrace, 
 I stand outside in the still quiet space before the dawn 
 and close my eyes 
 and turn my face up towards the sky 
 to feel
 the cool slick wetness of snow 
 falling against my skin.
  
 I listen to the river flowing
 to the sound of geese stirring
 on the far bank 
 where they rest upon a gravel bar
 throughout the night.
 A quiet honk, a rustle of wings
 and then 
 only the sound of the river flowing.
 In the distance,
 I hear the sibilant hiss of tires
 approaching
 followed by the more gutteral thrum
 as a car crosses over the bridge.
  
 For a moment,
 my mind will stray
 and I will wonder
 about their direction.
 To work? Or coming home?
 Were they at the hospital all night
 saving lives? 
 Tried? Weary? Exhausted?
 Or are they on their way
 fresh faced and eager to greet this day
 where they will serve 
 in a multitude of ways
 those of us who venture out
 only for necessities.
  
 And then, I’ll take a little breath
 say a quiet prayer of gratitude
 for whomever it is crossing the bridge
 and in that prayer
 I will remember all those who have crossed over
 their final bridge
 and all those who will cross over
 on this day that is just beginning
 which will become their last.
  
 Tenderly I hold the silence 
 in the sacred nature
 of my heart
 beating quietly
 in this darkness
 before the dawn
 and let my mind settle
 once again
 into the still quiet spaces
 of morning awakening
 slowly 
 beneath the tender light
 of snow falling at dawn.

Today is my birthday.

It is a day full of gratitude. Grace. Generosity. And above all Love.

My heart is full.

And though the world around me is locking-down in an effort to stem the flow of this virus that is reaching out in ever-widening waves to infect more and more people and cause more and more hardship, gratitude remains at the core of all I feel and know. All I welcome in and all I bring to this day.

I am thankful for my beloved. His heart and kind-spirit. His constancy and Love.

I am grateful for my daughters. For their tender mercies and love that has never faltered even when I have fallen on the road of life and lost my way.

And for my step-son and daughter who remind me always that love can expand in never-ending ripples of joy and laughter in this sacred space of being family.

I am grateful for my sisters who hold my heart and memories with such grace and who share theirs with endless generosity. And for the men in their lives who stand with us in all kinds of weather.

I am grateful for my friends. For those who have been on this path with me for many years and those who have only recently started walking beside me. Your presence illuminates my path, no matter the times.

I am grateful for all of you. For visiting me here. For being part of my journey. For encouraging me and seeing me and acknowledging me on this path.

There are many paths to find joy, contentment, happiness, peace. I am so grateful you are all at the heart of mine.

Namaste.

Snow Falling At Dawn

To Love One Another. Fearlessly. Fiercely. Freely.

Mixed media on water colour paper – 5 x 7″

I am finding these times disturbing. The uncertainty and dismay hang around in the back of my mind like drunken party guests who refuse to leave. There’s no talking reason to them. No interrupting their disruptive nature with quiet, measured words of calm reassurance that it will all be okay. If they just go home to bed everything will look better in the morning. Going home to bed is the last thing they want to do! They want to party like there’s no tomorrow.

I think the disruptive partying going on in my head these past few weeks kind of believes there might be no tomorrow.

It’s okay. I haven’t resorted to drinking too much. Except… my drink of choice is ‘The News’. I circle back to it again and again throughout the day as if just one more drink will make it all come clear. Will make it all go away.

I’m a little drunk on disbelief right now. It hasn’t all gone away.

And so, I head to the studio because, whenever I am feeling disgruntled or unfocused, time in the studio pulls me out of disbelief, dismay and uncertainty. It brings me back.

To myself. To the moment. To beauty.

It is where I desire most to be present.

Years ago, when I was in the beginning days of healing from a relationship that almost killed me, I often caught myself saying to myself, “I can’t believe he…” “I can’t believe I…”

I had to stop myself from saying, “I can’t believe…”

The “I can’t believe” was a crutch. It was a mindblock that was keeping me trapped in despair and anxiety. It was a cop-out phrase that held me captive to its disenfranchising nature. Saying, “I can’t believe” meant I didn’t have to face reality and most importantly, The Truth.

And to heal, I had to face the truth and deal with that. Not the make believe.

In these times, I often hear people saying, “Can you believe this is happening?”

My response has become, “I have to.”

Playing the game of make believe, buying into disbelief, is too dangerous.

But what can I dooooo? the voice of fear and disbelief cries out within.

Today, on someone’s IG feed I saw a meme that made me wonder…

It read:

“I’m not sure if I should wear a mask, buy a gun or a generator.”

Someone recommended the generator and gave them advice on what type of guns to buy.

That buying a mask was not mentioned astounds me (I have many and wear them diligently). But, the reality is that for some, not wearing one is the option of their choice.

That buying a gun was considered an option to resolve the uncertainty of these times also astounded me. But, the reality is that for some, it is.

And as to the generator? Well, power goes out so why not?

Except, I think the generator option might be based on something more insidious than a storm downing power lines.

And I look out of my window at the river flowing by, the last leaves of autumn clinging to the almost bare limbs of the trees that line the riverbank. I watch a squirrel race along the fence line and take a flying leap onto the bird feeder trying desperately to grab the last seeds as they fall.

A few cars pass over the bridge. A flock of geese fly by. Beaumont the Sheepadoodle lies under my desk and watches it all.

And I breathe and remind myself that I must trust.

Trust in this moment. Trust in the universe. Trust in myself and this beautiful world around me.

And I breathe again.

I struggle to understand those who think mask-wearing fits in the same box as buying a gun because… I can’t believe people believe a gun will keep them safe.

Fact is. Some people do.

It is my disbelief that is my problem.

And the only way to resolve my problem is to allow compassion to be my guide.

The path to peace of mind is found in the very things I believe to be essential to create a more kind and loving world – Tolerance. Empathy. Respect. Compassion. Fairness. Equality. Acceptance. Truth. Trust. Love.

Not just for those who think like me or look like me or act like me. For everyone.

It’s hard to live in that space when I’m judging, criticizing, condemning the spaces I can’t believe are also present.

They are all present in the here and now. And it is here, in the here and now, that I must find my peace of mind, my understanding, my compassion and my joy.

And so, I go for a walk in nature. I dance in my studio and spill paint everywhere. I read and write and watch the river flow by and I breathe. Deeply. Filling my body, mind and spirit with life-giving oxygen.

I do the things I know work for me and trust that in so doing, I am adding a little bit of joy and beauty into the world around me. Beauty that will create peace of mind and heart within and all around me. Beauty that will remind everyone I encounter on my path of the power of Love to bring us closer together. To create bridges of understanding, tolerance, unity, dignity, fairness, joy…

And, held captive within is powerful embrace, to remind each of us of our human capacity to Love one another. Fearlessly. Fiercely. Freely.

Namaste.

The Frugal Fall Challenge

Mixed media on cardstock. 5 x7″
Embossed Christmas Card. Blank inside. Mixed media on watercolour cardstock

For the past few days, I have been experimenting with my Gelli Printing Pad, using inks and watercolours to create greeting cards – (seasonal and general).

I have packages of blank cardstock (and packages) I bought several years ago when, as a fundraiser for the homeless-serving agency I worked at, I decided to make Christmas cards to sell. The proceeds went to the agency and I got to play with glitter for weeks on end!

I also got to clean up glitter for months on end but that’s another story.

It is all part of the ‘Frugal Fall Challenge’ I’ve created for myself. It’s an invitation to explore what can happen when I limit the art supplies I can use and/or purchase. In this case, I am not allowing myself to purchase any paper products, including canvases, until November 21st.

Mixed media on watercolour cardstock. 5 x 7″ blank card (it is white, not bluish as the photo/computer screen suggests)

I’d originally made it ‘no art supplies’ but realized that if I wanted to set myself up for success, I had to make the challenge realistic. Believe me, going cold turkey on not buying any form of art supply was simply a recipe for failure before I even started! At least limiting myself to no paper and canvas purchases for three months gives me a modicum possibility of success — I have lots and lots of paper and canvases in the storage room at the back of my studio. Not being able to buy more was an invitation to explore what I have on hand and use it!

And that’s what I’m doing.

Engaging with my whole body in the art of letting go.

Mixed media on watercolour cardstock. 5 x 7″ blank card inside

See, letting go isn’t only about ‘releasing’. It’s about engaging with all that you are, all that you know and all that you have in ways that ignite your imagination, inspire your creativity and invite you to wander new and beguiling paths that lead you into deeper knowing of yourself and how you are in this world.

I have a habit of buying art supplies. Some may call it an addiction but I’m not into labelling it. Know what I mean?

My habit means I have a storeroom full of supplies and ephemera some of which has sat around for a long, long time.

The Frugal Fall Challenge is my invitation to myself to explore new ways of being present – in my studio, in my life, in myself.

Too often, when I engage in the practice of ‘letting go’ I make it all about the release and don’t stop to explore the breath within the spaces created by letting go.

It’s as though in getting rid of all that ‘stuff’ I feel uncomfortable with the empty/calm spaces and so, rather than sit with them, I start filling the space up again.

And I wonder… am I uncomfortable with the empty spaces of my life (read body, mind, spirit) and so, keep acquiring stuff (read knowledge/information/techniques/new ways of doing things, being present) so I don’t have to face the silence of the open spaces inviting me to rest and breathe and be present with and within all that is already here…?

Now that’s a heady question for this rainy October morning. Perhaps, rather than seeking answers, it is time to heed the words of Rainer Maria Wilke:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Namaste

Love Finds Me. Here.

On the kitchen island, sunflowers stand in a white vase. Their yellow heads are beginning to droop. Time is passing on.

In my studio, two cacti blossom. Life’s natural impulse to grow and flower is on display in riotous pink pressed against winter’s presence lying in pristine white outside the window.

In the trees that line the bank between our yard and the river, a squirrel scurries down. Winter is coming. There are preparations to be made.

It scurries towards the birdfeeder hanging along the fence at the back of our yard. It has become a squirrel seed depot.

The squirrel grabs at the tiny lip of the feeder and hangs on. Its body swings precariously from side to side. It steadies itself and opens its mouth ready to catch the seeds as they spill out.

Pouches full, it leaps back to the fence onto a tree branch, scurries up the trunk, sailing effortlessly from one branch to the next until, high up, it reaches a hole in the tree and disappears.

Another squirrel replaces it at the feeder.

I wonder if squirrels have a sound for gratitude?

Do I?

Is gratitude heard in the deep sigh of contentment as I sit in the darkness at my desk breathing in the beauty and wonder of the world around me?

Is it heard in the quiet hum of the furnace blowing warm air into the house?

Is it in the rustle of Beaumont’s body as he moves against the hardwood floor where he sleeps beside me?

Is it felt in the quiet, slow lightening of the day seeping across a nighttime sky ebbing into dawn?

Is it known in the halo of the lamp that lights my fingers as I type or the glowing of the candle on the desk beside me?

Is it tasted in the sip of my latte, foamy milk flowing warm and silky across my lips, down my throat and into my body?

Is it seen in the silent shimmery dark silhouettes of the trees dancing in the morning breeze outside my window, their not yet fallen leaves black against a not quite morning sky?

It is all here.

Filling me with gratitude.

This beauty.

It does not wait for the right season. Better weather. For time to flow from one moment to the next.

This beauty is here. Now.

And so am I.

And so is Love.

Namaste

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