The Age of Unreason

It is called The Wolf Moon. The first full moon of January.

I almost missed it.

Not the moon, but my favourite ‘under the light of the full moon’ thing to do – stand amongst the trees, throw back my head, lift up my chin towards the sky and howl.

Wrapped up in thoughts of my beloved’s slow (to me) recovery from pneumonia that landed him in hospital for the first 10 days of the year, my daughter, son-in-love, and grandchildren’s bout with Covid and a project deadline looming at work, thoughts of howling were far from my mind on Tuesday morning.

And then, as Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I walked in the woods along the river in the icy-cold, frost-riddled morning of the day after the Wolf Moon rising, I saw it. There it hung, high above, a giant punched-out pale orb of eery white and beige and creamy light yellow in the pale blue sky.

Oblivious to its presence above, Beau sniffed and snuffled his way through snow-laden deadfall and dry winter grasses, following the scent of some unseen forest creature.

I stood in the early morning light, closed my eyes and breathed in the magic of it all.

The moon watched. I breathed.

Howl, a voice within whispered.

Another voice parried back, “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“No, seriously. Howl!”

“No way. People will think I’m weird.”

“Louise, there’s no one here. The park is empty. Howl.”

I really wanted to. Howl that is. But that self-conscious, I don’t want o stand out or make a fool of myself can be a strong advocate for taking the road most travelled sometimes. Especially it seems if the road less travelled includes howling at the moon. “You’re beyond the age of howling,” it hissed. “Beyond the age of reason for that matter!”

I wanted to shout back, “That’s because I’ve entered the age of unreason!”

I remain silent. What if someone hears me?

I walked a bit further. The moon followed me.

The cacophony of voices arguing the pros and cons of howling were becoming more than just an irritant. They were a clamouring, writhing claimant of my morning zen in the woods walk.

What would a woman in the age of unreason do? The voice of spirit asked.

I smiled. I stopped walking, glanced up at the moon, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and let out a tiny, wee, quiet howl.

I opened my eyes, the world looked the same. Beau was still sniffling and snuffling in the woods. The trees were still standing in silent witness, birds sung in the trees, the river flowed on and the moon hung still in the pale blue sky above.

And the park was still empty of other humans.

I took another breath. Deeper this time. Fuller.

I leaned my head back, stretched out my neck, jutted out my chin, opened my mouth and howled.

Aywhooooooo! Aywhooooo! Awhyoooooooooooooo!

And then I laughed.

Deep, loud, belly shaking laughs.

I did it again.

Aywhooooooo! Aywhooooo! Awhyoooooooooooooo!

I looked around. Beaumont, raised his head from sniffing a particularly fascinating piece of deadfall, cocked it sideways, looked at me for a moment, lowered it again and went back to his investigations.

And the trees kept standing, the river flowed on, the birds sang and the moon gazed down from above.

And I laughed again, threw my arms out wide and began to dance in the icy-cold, frost-riddled morning of the day after the Wolf Moon rising,

Because deep within me, I want to live the truth of my affirmation to live bravely. Dare Boldly. And howling and dancing beneath a Wolf Moon on a crisp winter morning is exactly what a woman in the Age of Unreason does.

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And then…. just as I sign off on this post, a song begins to play in the background. Normally, my morning writing music is without lyrics. For some, unknown, magical reason, one song with words has slipped into my playlist just as I’m about to press publish on this post.

How divine!

This post is also in response to Eugi at Eugi’s Causerie where the prompt this week is “Affirmations”.

Do go visit – there’s lots of good reading theree and who knows… you might be inspired to respond too with your written gems!

Dare To Be a Vessel of Love

She Dares to be a vessel of Love. Always.

It’s not the choosing to be a vessel of Love that’s hard. It’s the ‘always’.

We’re human. And that makes us unpredictable, at times undependable and suspect to cloudy thinking and poor decision-making.

Like, when someone cuts you off or doesn’t allow you to merge, or worse yet, takes their own sweet time merging when you’re behind them and want to get going… Thoughts of being a vessel of love, of moving with grace through every moment, can evaporate in direct opposite proportion to the offending party’s speed, or lack thereof.

In fact, I’m often surprised how quickly I can fall into criticizing, complaining and condemning other drivers!

Or people who don’t clean up after their dog.

Or people who wear their masks below their nose.

Or people who stand too close in line.

Or…

You get the picture…

Perhaps if I lived in a cave, cut-off from all human contact… But I don’t. Which means, being a vessel of love has to include forgiving myself. A lot.

To balance the scales, in that forgiveness I must also remember to forgive the other, bless them. And me.

It goes like this…

Someone doesn’t let me merge, my mind immediately jumps to… “What a jerk!” (or worse).

My heart kicks into high gear and whispers gently and lovingly… “Bless them. Forgive me. Forgive them. Bless me.”

And I move on.

The speed at which this internal dialogue goes on is always dependent upon how balanced, centred and embodied in the present moment I am.

Sometimes, there’s a lag between my stinkin’ thinkin’ and the awareness that I’m not being a vessel of love.

Sometimes, my heart needs to prod my head a little to wake me up to my off-kilter presence.

As in, “Now that’s an interesting response to an irritant but not a criminal offense Louise. Something on your mind? Are you dancing with anger right now? Will this attitude get you more or less of what you want?”

Fact is, when I am moving through the world casting criticism, complaints and condemnation about like confetti, I am being my own worst problem and an irritant in the world.

Which is why forgiveness is so important. It awakens me to grace by moving me gently through the portal of acceptance into gratitude.

And, while I don’t often say, “Thank you for this reminder to wake up and be present”, the fact is, every time I act out, is an opportunity to come home to my heart in gratitude and Love.

The good thing is, each time I act out and forgive and bless myself and others, the distance between my acting out and staying true to myself gets shorter, And, with each time I act out and forgive and bless, I am strengthening my heart muscles and deepening my capacity to be a vessel of Love. Always.

Namaste

She Dares To Transform Pain Into Beauty.

Yesterday. The day before. And before that…

so much.

to reflect upon.

remember.

savour.

And through it all, woven threads of gold spun with sapphires and emeralds and precious moments and words and thoughts glittering like diamonds in a field of love.

It is the last day of this year, a year rich with memory and joy and sadness and hardship and possibility and new adventures and missing friends and treasured rare encounters.

A year like no other. But then, every year is a year like no other for every year is filled with days sparkling with opportunities to experience, lessons to learn and happenings to grow through.

As this day (and year) draws to a close and C.C. and I, having forgone the small gathering we had planned with two other couples, await our meal to arrive at the front door, I reflect upon all that has happened, all I have learned, done and left undone or not even started. I smile at all I have gathered, created, discarded and accumulated. And, I am reminded of how this year has been a year like no other, and yet a year none-the-less to experience and learn from and breathe through as I stumbled, surmounted, succumbed and succeeded beyond my wildest imaginings.

So much of this year feels like a blur, like I was sleep-walking through its days, going through motions but not really connecting to the essence of all it offered. And still, there are moments of pure bliss, of complete surrender, of divine grace shimmering within each breath I took as I lived each moment fully embodied in the mystical, unfathomable mystery of life.

I am so many things and within this moment right now, I am grateful, humbled, and surprised by how full my heart feels, how deep my sense of awe becomes me and how truly blessed I am in this life for which I hold deep and abiding gratitude.

I spent the day in the studio today. Inspired by a conversation with a friend, an email from another, an encounter at the dog park, the wide-open clear blue sky, the fresh (ok, arctic cold) air, the frost embracing the trees, the river finding new paths through the rapidly forming ice and Beaumont the Sheepadoodle trying to shed his new booties (he was unsuccessful!) and the advent of a new year, I wrote a poem and then spent a day in my studio creating to the poem which I wrote in gold lettering as part of the background of my latest creation.

Luminous Light
by Louise Gallagher

Luminous light
aches 
for the passage of time
to lean out
beyond the darkness
holding our hopes
in tender hands
like a nest gently
sheltering
a babe
preparing to fly
into a new year
full of promise
that the old one has passed
away
holding nothing
but imaginings
of a future
full of mystery, wonder and awe.

I wish for you, as they say in Germany, a “Guten Rutsch ins Neue Yahr.”

May the slip from the old to the new be a gentle reminder to live each moment with all your heart and to open yourself up with wild abandon to all the beauty, mystery, and awe the world has to offer.

And, as my creation today extolls, may you always dare boldly to transform life’s hardships into a world of beauty.

Happy New Year!

Be Like The Rain – a poem

I do not question the muse. Even when she arrives, as she did in the early morning hours, with words and ideas and images to play with.

No. I rise up and heed her calling, if only to clear my mind so I can fall asleep again.

I wrote the framework of this poem at 2:30 this morning and worked on it again when I arose (for real this time) at 6am.

I do not like to label my words, or put them in a box called… feminist, or militant, or any other constructs we use to name the ways of women and their allies that fall beyond the allowable places women have been allowed to inhabit. Those names are seeds that have been planted and cultivated throughout time by the pervasive nature of this patriarchal world we inhabit.

I prefer to write them out and give them space to be present. An expression of something deep within me seeking light, form, voice, substance. Something created to give me pause, to wonder, ponder, devour and hold up to the light to see through all that has appeared, all that is happening into the essence of all that I have divined, all that I have experienced, all that I have left unsaid that is calling to be said, now.

Recently, while on a Zoom call with a group of men and women, I felt compelled to draw attention to something that was being said between some of the men that caused me discomfort. Their conversation was rife with sexual innuendo. It felt totally inappropriate.

In the process of thinking about speaking up, I felt my heartbeat quicken, my throat constrict, my body tighten with fear.

“Why am I afraid to speak up when what is happening is not reflective of the best of our humanity?” I wondered.

I didn’t want to say anything, I wanted to pretend as I have done too often in the past, that ‘boys would be boys’ and what they were doing was harmless.

But it wasn’t harmless. Along with making others feel uncomfortable, it perpetuated the patriarchal concepts of allowing ‘boys to be boys’ because, “It’s a man’s world baby. You better get used to it.”

And so, still quivering inside, I took a deep breath and spoke up.

This poem rose up out of hundreds of such conversations and encounters I’ve endured, and too many women I know have also endured, without speaking up or drawing a line to say, No More.

Background photo source

PS. In speaking up, others spoke up too — and that felt empowering. One of the men immediately apologized and others wrote to thank me for drawing attention to something they too believe needs to change.

I am grateful. In speaking up, I am reminded, every voice matters and when we give voice to what needs to change, we create space for change to happen.

Namaste

She dares to nourish her dreams with flights of fancy

Dream big…. or go home.

I remember a boss saying that many years ago. A lot. He was an entrepreneur, building a tech company on what he called a ‘wing and a prayer’. The prayer being that what he saw as a future need, or pent-up-demand, as he called it, would be real.

It wasn’t. But that’s a whole other story.

What this story is about, scratch that, what my story is about, is learning to not only believe, but trust in my dreams. To feed them reality and flights of fancy in just the right measures to give them wings to fly!

Yesterday, I met for tea and a chat with the beautiful, soulful Kerry Parsons of The Academy of Emerging Women. Not to mention a visit with Toby, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle’s brother. (and no. I did not take Beau. Two of them romping together in a confined space is one Sheepadoodle too many!)

Covid has interrupted some of my most meaningful relationships. Kerry and I haven’t visited in a while, yet, as always, in her lit presence, my heart felt like it was coming home and I came away feeling inspired, full of ideas, and radiating with dreams.

The piece above was partially completed when I left for our tea. When I got home, I knew exactly where it was leading me. I sat down at my studio table and dove in, adding colour and marks, working on the woman’s face until finally, I felt complete.

When I began this piece I had an idea for a quote, “In a world of conformity, she dares to stand out.”

By the time I finished with the art, I realized that, while I really like that quote, it is not what this #SheDares woman is saying to me.

I worked on the quote some more, settling on “She dares to heed her dreams’ urgings to spread her wings and fly.

Better.

And then I dreamt on it.

This morning, I sat down at my desk believing in the quote and its meaning that had become clear to me while I slept.

“She dares to nourish her dreams with flights of fancy.”

The Message

Dreams yearn for space, air, and the breath of possibility constantly flowing through and in and amongst their delicate, sacred promise of what can be, if only…

Dreams are not static things grounding you in their weighty matters. They don’t fit in a box or work best when tied to order and predictability.

Dreams don’t grow in the ground. They take to the skies. They seek sea-infused air bathing them in sun-speckled imagination wafting through their feathery tendrils filling them with light and joy and unlimited hope.

Dreams yearn for flights of fancy. That’s how they find the courage to unfurl and expand into beautiful wings of possibility dancing on rainbow streams coming to life in all the colours of your dreams come true.

She Dares to Capture the Beauty in all Life’s Imperfections

I have been an infrequent visitor to my studio lately. Life and all its happenings, projects to complete that don’t require paint but do require creative presence, new 3 days a week work for a not-for-profit (I’m loving it!), visiting my grandchildren as often as I can (and my daughter and son-in-love too!) plus just day-to-day living with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and my beloved, have consumed me.

And then there’s the vegging-out piece. You know. The “I’m too tired to dive into creative expression. I think I’ll spend time amidst others’ expressions!” Which means flipping open my laptop and losing myself in some Netflix/Prime fodder.

I tell myself, “It’s okay. You deserve the break.”

But here’s the real deal.

It’s not a ‘break’ when it is stealing my sense of balance, wholeness, centredness.

It is not a break when it pulls me away from what I love doing – exploring my creative expression.

So, I’ve made a deal with myself.

I give myself space to ‘veg-out’ if I first let out what is calling to be expressed. Because I know this very deeply within me — there is always something calling to be expressed, even when I pretend I can’t hear it or feel it!

And, because I’m pretending I don’t know it’s there, I allow myself to become lost in movie fodder.

So here’s my deal — it’s okay to ‘veg-out’ if I first let-out some artsy fodder in my studio!

Now… you may want to say, “Give yourself a break Louise. Everyone needs time-out.”

And it’s true. We do.

But I know me.

I am a ‘compulsively-excessive’ personality. I get into things and can’t/won’t/don’t stop. Which means… if I start a series on Netflix, I don’t stop until I’m done – even if it’s a crap series. Just ask my beloved – He suggested a series to me on the weekend and I said, “I don’t dare start a new series. I’ll get trapped in it and I don’t want to get lost. Again” I just finished watching 4 seasons of a terrible series — but I wouldn’t stop watching it!

So… rather than taunting myself with the idea I can only watch 1 episode, I simply do not begin!

Problem solved. 🙂 For now.

In the meantime, I am feeling so much more alive and enlivened after working in my studio all weekend on bookmarks that I include with every purchase of my “She Dares Boldly” desktop calendar, and then, diving into more images and quotes for the #SheDaresBoldly series.

I am cultivating my capacity to ‘let go and let become’ to allow that which is seeking to be expressed, appear.

I am cultivating my trust in the process of allowing the ‘I wonder if I do this…’ and then doing whatever that wonderment is just to see what will happen. Like using pastels through a stencil over inks — cool!

And, I am cultivating the habit of turning up for myself, everyday at my studio table in a state of excitement, curiosity, fearlessness and gratitude.

Excitement ignited by the mysteries I’m about to explore.

Curious about what will happen when I simply let go and be present.

Fearless in my willingness to listen deeply to my intuition (and the muse) and not judge nor doubt (or try to manipulate) their voice.

And Gratitude for this magical, mysterious, mystical world in which I have the privilege to play and be and create and learn and grow and experience and capture such richness, aliveness and beauty.

Namaste

She Dares to Hold On To Magic

For the “She Dares Boldly” desktop calendar I have created “She Dares” quotes to go with some old and some new artwork. None of the artwork has been in a calendar before — it’s just some of the pieces might have appeared on my blog in the past.

January’s “She Dares” quote is, “She dares to hold on to magic.”

When I was writing it, I vacillated between, “believe in magic” or hold on to magic”.

Hold on to magic won.

I can believe in anything. But, to actually hold onto it, to keep it in my sights, to keep it as a constant companion on my journey, that takes real daring.

There is magic in this world. Everywhere.

Yesterday, as I walked with Beaumont through the woods along the river, I wondered at the magical and mystical capacity of a seed to grow into a tree, to give birth to branches and leaves, and to continually renew itself every spring after having shed its leaves every fall.

And while science can explain it away with terms like photosynthesis and formulas that dissect the process to its tiniest quark, there is still something magical to me in the whole transformative process of shedding and sprouting, shedding and sprouting.

I want to hold onto that magic and the wonder and awe of it all. I want to dispense with formulae and calculating processes to the nth degree so that I can live and breathe completely immersed within nature’s mystery.

And so, the 2022, She Dares Boldly calendar begins with magic, mystery wonder and awe leading us into the New Year.

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And yes, there’s not a lot of mystery in this here promotion of my calendar.

I do hope you come and check it out on my ETSY store – Dare Boldly Art – shipping is free in Canada and I’ve adjusted the cost to include shipping to outside Canada as Etsy was charging almost as much for shipping as I charge for the calendar!.

It makes a great stocking stuffer, friend gift, hostess gift and so much more!

(and now to figure out how to adjust the colour so the calendar appears with its white background – ’cause that’s what it is!)

She Dares to Take The Road Less Travelled

Art journal page. Mixed media collage.

It can feel comforting to take the road well-trod, the familiar path.

It can feel safe to explore again and again the well-known spaces of your life.

To take the road less travelled, to venture into unknown lands within you, that is the quest of the heroine.

It takes courage, curiosity, and a commitment to be open to what has never been known or seen, or experienced before.

It takes daring.

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It’s back!

The Dare Boldly 2022 desk calendar She Dares Boldly 

You can check it out and order it HERE... (and for those ordering from outside Canada — Etsy’s shipping fees are out of whack — the only thing I can do to fix it at this point is to refund some of the shipping after you pay it — my apologies. It’s really weird!)

It makes a perfect stocking stuffer, teacher or hostess gift or something just for you.

Available on Etsy — for orders of more than 10, please contact me directly.

She Dares To Follow Her Own North Star – in Loving-Kindness

When my youngest daughter was about 9 months old, I enrolled the 2 of us in Gymboree. I wanted time with her alone and this seemed like a good option.

The first session, we sat in a circle and talked about how challenging being a parent was and how easy it was to lose our identity when faced with the 24/7 demands of parenting.

“What’s something you do to retain your ‘identity’ outside of being a parent,” the facilitator asked each of us as she went around the circle.

It was a good question, except, by the time she got to me, I was vibrating at too high a level because of what I deemed the ridiculous way she framed her lead-in to the question. As in, rather than use each person’s name, she started the question with…

“So, [Insert baby’s name} mother/father, what’s something you do to retain your identity outside of being your child’s mother/father?”

I admit, I probably could have framed my response a little more gently, but I had a point to make and after listening to her ask the question of about 10 people before me, I wanted to get my point across. So, I began my response with, “Well… the first thing I do is make sure people use my first name, Louise, rather than calling me “Liseanne’s mother.”

Ouch.

I know. Not gracious. Not kind.

So, here’s the deal. I believe I had a right to my position. However, I did not have the right to be rude. And in infusing my response with my flippant and sarcastic ‘attitude-driven’ nature, I veered from the underpinning value I want to use to light up my own North Star — to BE KIND.

To dare to follow my own North Star is to always be true to my values. And kindness is a value I cherish.

I value walking in my integrity. Speaking truth to build bridges, not tear apart the hearts and minds of others.

I value treating everyone with respect and doing no harm.

I value doing things to create better. Being fair and above all, I value walking with Loving-Kindness as my guiding light.

Sure, I got my point across that day, but in the making of it, I became the problem. That woman leading the group and I never did forge a strong relationship – to the detriment of my young child and the very reason I joined the group — to spend quality time with her amongst children of a similar age and other parents. I eventually left the group because I never did feel like I fit in — all because being ‘clever’ superseded my need to be understanding and kind (it was our first gathering and she had a lot of names to remember – I could have given her a break or at least a kinder response). In my need to be clever, I acted out with little regard to the woman, which means, in the end, I carried ‘the shame’ of my bad behaviour within me – which led me to leave.

And while I’d love to go back and apologize to that woman, I have no idea who she was. To make amends, I see to find value in the many lessons my bad behaviour taught me.

  • When I think I’m being clever and am coming from that place where the chip on my shoulder is digging a hole in my values, it’s time to take a step back and give myself a reality check.
  • Being right doesn’t make me or anyone else happy when my being right supersedes being kind.
  • Daring to follow my own North Star doesn’t give me the right to be a problem for everyone else. it does give me the right to always create my own path, as long as my path is built on Loving-Kindness of myself and everyone around me.

Do you have a memory of something in the past that taught you an invaluable life lesson you still breathe into today?

I’d love to hear your stories!

Namaste.

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AND…

I’ve posted my She Dares Boldly 2022 desk calendar on my Etsy store.

You can check it out and order it HERE... (and for those ordering from outside Canada — Etsy’s shipping fees are out of whack — the only thing I can do to fix it at this point is to refund some of the shipping after you pay it — my apologies. It’s really weird!)

It Is My Choice

#ShePersisted Series – No. 30 https://louisegallagher.ca/shepersisted/

Like many, conflict is not my comfort zone. In fact, I sometimes feel that getting a tooth pulled without anesthesia is preferable to wading into a conflict zone.

The challenge is, when I avoid conflict, I create discord within myself and the world around me.

Like a sickly sweet cotton candy ball, conflict cloys and clings, wrapping everything it comes in contact with in almost invisible threads of sticky nothingness that is bad for your health and everything it touches.

Which is why, to find resolution, we must choose to wade through the murky waters of conflict to swim in the waters of harmony on the other side.

Ask my beloved. I might not like conflict but I dislike enduring inappropriate behaviour, injustice, and inequity even more.

It’s a simple equation in my mind. I can choose to carry the discomfort of what someone else has done and let it fester inside while also polluting the waters between us, or I can choose to be accountable for my part of the equation.

For me, that choice isn’t always easy, but it is important. So, even when I’m feeling uncomfortable, intimidated, or like I’d rather just stay silent and pretend like it’s okay, even when it’s not, I must choose to do the right thing to create better.

And staying silent, standing stuck in confusion and fear, does not create better. For anyone.

For me, movements like #MeToo have highlighted the need and imperative for women, and allies, to speak our truth in the face of racism, discrimination, injustice, and all forms of harassment, bullying, gender inequity and patriarchial concepts designed to keep us feeling less than, in our place and silent.

It’s about turning up, paying attention, speaking our truth, and staying unattached to the outcome.

It’s about drawing a line and saying, it is not okay for me that you have chosen to cross that line.

It is not okay for anyone that this behaviour continue, unchallenged.

When we know better, we do better.

And because some people, some men, in particular, have not yet learned it is not okay to charge a conversation with uninvited sexual innuendo or make unsolicited advances, ignoring a woman’s right to choice, or a host of other advances that impair a woman’s ability to work, play and be safe in this world, we must draw hard lines where no man dare to cross. We must stake out boundaries and push back against advances that would pull us back into times past when women’s rights meant having the choice between moving to the parlour or the sunroom after dinner, to do needlepoint and chat of babies and the latest fashions while the menfolk sat around the table drinking port and smoking cigars as they discussed the heady matters of which the womenfolk had no ken.

And yes, I know there are men out there who stand with women and minorities in wanting to change the status quo, who want our world to become a more parity-based reflection of the make-up of our society where women represent 49.6% of the world’s population. (In Canada, women are 50.37% of the total population. In the US, 51.1%.)

And yes, I know change takes time and behavioural change is daunting but what is even more daunting are the challenges women continue to face in 2021 to gain equal pay for equal work. To eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace and a host of other malpractices that limit women’s advancement in their careers and their safety at home, on the streets and where ever they go.

So, while conflict is not my comfort zone, I will not back down. I will challenge injustice. I will confront discrimination, harassment, and bullying and I will not be silent.

It is my choice.