Dare boldly

Inspiring acts of grace in everyday living


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What happens when you cross the line?

Crossing the Line
#28 #ShePersisted
11″ x 14″ Acrylic on acrylic paper
©2017 Louise Gallagher

When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.  Pablo Picasso

Each painting in the #ShePersisted series, has a story to it. Sometimes, I know the story before I begin to create. Sometimes, the story appears in the creation of each piece. In Crossing the Line, I remembered a piece I’d written several years ago on my old blog, Recover Your Joy.  And I smile — I always knew my answer. It was inside of me waiting for me to create it into existence.

When I was a child, my sister and I spent hours re-enacting scenes from our favourite movies. Gone with the Wind. The Parent Trap. We knew all the characters, all the parts and we each had our favourites.

It didn’t matter that our stage was a stretch of lawn or that Tara was a sheet draped over a tree or that we each had to play three or four different parts, differentiating the characters only through our voices as we didn’t have time to change wardrobe —  we didn’t really have any wardrobe to change into anyway. This was a low budget reproduction — very creative, just not very accurate.

But none of that mattered. What mattered most was that we spent the time together. Laughing. Sharing. Creating.

When I was a child, I liked to draw. To sing and dance and to play piano. I liked to write and make up stories. To play dolls and the now politically incorrect, “Cowboys and Indians”.

It didn’t matter to me what the game or activity. What mattered most was that I was being creative. Expressing myself through arts of all nature.

And then, I grew up.

I still liked to write. To create. To make something out of nothing.

But the tone was different. There was something lacking in my creation.

I kept thinking it needed ‘A Purpose.

To create for creation’s sake just didn’t seem to be viable, make sense, have meaning. If I was painting, there needed to be a reason. If I was writing, there needed to be an audience. And, if I was dancing, there needed to be ‘the right steps’.

I’ve grown beyond those ‘grown-up’ days of believing I need ‘A Purpose’ to my art. I’ve grown beyond thinking there are right steps, wrong moves, perfect brushstrokes or perfectly turned phrases.

I’ve grown into being me. Creatively. Expressively. Passionately.

Today, I know that at my core I am a creative being. That life is an act of creation.

Today, I express myself in ways that fulfill on my belief, and need, to create beauty in the world around me.

Today, I let go of the right steps and move with grace and ease into being each step I take to create beauty in the world around me.

There’s freedom in each movement. Freedom in being my creative self.

And, there’s joy in knowing every breath I take is an act of creation. Every step I take is an expression of the beauty I want to create in the world.

When I was a child, I believed colouring inside the lines would keep me safe. Now I know, when I lean over the edge of what I believe I know and explore the all of what I cannot see, I am free.


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Honouring times of fallow

 

No 25. #ShePersisted
Winds of Change
Mixed Media on art paper

My friend Kerry Parsons recently gifted me a set of “Soulful Woman Guidance Cards.”

It is no accident the card I pulled today is called Time of Fallow — Creative manifestation occurs more easily when I have nurtured myself and honoured my time of fallow.

Nature understands the meaning of honouring its time of fallow. Spring fields produce healthier bounty when they have had a time of fallow.

I have been considering this blank page for a while this morning. Wondering what do I feel calling within, yearning to come out.

And the muse quietly rests, calling me to honour my creative urgings through a time of fallow.

I have been so consumed by the creation of the #ShePersisted series, I feel my creative energies calling out for a rest, a respite, a reprieve.

Life is ebb and flow. We breathe in. We breathe out. We step forward. We step back. We repeat.

On another level, my immersion into the #ShePersisted series is an honouring of my time of fallow.

It has given me space to gently and effortlessly explore my desire to stand up and step up to be heard. To clarify my voice, my gift, my offerings to the world.

It has given me beautiful guidance on what I want to do to create a world of difference.

If I change my glasses, shift my lens, I can see this time of creating the #ShePersisted series as my journey into my soul where I delve into exploration of our human condition through wonder and awe for all we do collectively to create war and peace, discord and harmony, walls and bridges, abuse and comfort, deception and truth, hatred and love.

As the images and words for this series have flowed, and continue to flow (I’ve still got a list of over 10 quotes that have popped into my head at random times), I have been enthralled by the experience of giving into the creative process, fearfully and fearlessly, haltingly and effortlessly.

It is the yin/yang of creativity.

To be afraid of a blank page. To dive hopefully into the open space calling itself into being.

And in that realization, I am overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude. Joy. Knowing.

There are no blank pages. Just beautiful wide open spaces calling out to me to breathe into my creative essence and with every exhale, blow away my fear of being the change I want to see in the world.

Namaste.

 

To view the whole #ShePersisted series, please visit my website.

 

 


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I surrender

I have an early morning meeting today.

Had two events last night.

Busy. Busy.

Yet, no matter how busy, the invitation is always there to co-create with the muse, the universe, life.

My dear friend Sheila K. sent me the MEME above. It’s inspiration, and her creative spark, will lead to another piece in the #ShePersisted series. “They said calm down. She created winds of change.”

Yesterday, at an International Women’s Day Luncheon sponsored by BDP, I listened to Elisabeth Manley speak about her journey through mental health issues to the Olympic medal podium. Her words inspired another piece for the series. “They said there’s nothing you can do to change it. She did what they said couldn’t be done.”

The universe is filled with invitations to co-create. To fall into the flow and let yourself be carried away by life’s juicy creativeness.

As I am leaning into co-creating the #ShePersisted series with the muse, giving into the flow means surrendering to life’s urgings to express my creative essence, fearlessly, honestly and freely.

I surrender.

 


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I have tolerated bad behaviour. It’s time to change. #BeBoldforChange

I have tolerated a lot of bad behaviour in my life.

I have had men hit on me with the promise to support my career if I slept with them.

I have had men offer money for sex, because I was standing in a hotel lobby by myself or walking down the street at night.

I have had men ask me to take notes at a meeting, not because that was my role, but because I was a woman.

I have had men ask me to grab them a coffee, again, not because that was my job, but because I was a woman.

And, I have had men tell me crude jokes, or make suggestive comments on the phone, confident they will not be corrected, abraded, or called out.

Sure, it may seem small potatoes in the big picture of the pressing dangers women face all over the world, everyday. Rape, war, violence against women and  female genitalia disfiguration and so many other inhumane practices that do not serve our humanity well.

But, gender based biases where I allow bad behaviour to be the norm, or laugh them off with a wave of my prettily manicured hand and shrug as if to say, “Oh well. Boys will be boys,” does not change anything.

Boys will be boys and they deserve so much more than being the target of women’s ire and disdain.

Thank you Ghandi. We need to BE the change we want to see in the world.

Change depends on our doing the small things and the big things.

Change depends on our not tolerating the innuendoes and the sexual assaults.

Change needs us to speak up in the face of discriminatory practices and to yell out, loud and strong, when faced with attacks on our sex, gender preferences, race and faith.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is:  Be Bold for Change!

My #ShePersisted painting for this day is about being brash, loud and bold.

It’s about wearing whatever we want, without fearing reprisal.

It’s about speaking up, without fearing being shut down.

It’s about being bold, without fearing being emblazoned with labels that denigrate our femininity, sexuality and humanity.

Let’s each of us, men and women, rise up in support of our sisters (and brothers too) for whom real life dangers continue to threaten their rights and lives, everyday.

And let’s each of us, men and women, do the small things today that create positive change in our lives, everyday, for everyone.

Let’s stop tolerating bad behaviours. Let’s start doing the right things for one another.

 


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Leaning into fear. #ShePersisted

 

Hmmmm..... this works... Kinda.... Maybe not

Hmmmm….. this works…
Kinda….
Maybe not

Last night, I completed the 20th piece in my #ShePersisted series.

When I started this project, I imagined completing 12 images and that would be that.

The ideas, the compelling need to keep digging into the notion of ‘persisting’ continues to drive me.

As I worked last night, I got to a stage where I thought I was done.

It looked okay. I hesitated to add to it because I was afraid that if I painted into the face, I risked ruining it.

I persisted.

I decided to give into the possibilities that come with leaning into the edge of creativity, fearlessly.

Final painting Louise Gallagher Mixed media on canvas paper 11" x 14"

Final painting
Louise Gallagher
Mixed media on canvas paper
11″ x 14″

More great lessons from in front of the easel.

There are no mistakes in art-making.

Fear is just a tool I use to keep me from stretching myself.

Settling for ‘what is’, holds me back from exploring ‘what if’. And, it’s in the what if’s that I discover what I’m really capable of creating!

It has taken just over 3 weeks to create this series as it currently exists. I have no idea if I’ll create more. I do know that to not heed the call of the muse to explore this idea will limit my expression of my own persistence.

So, I persist.

Thank you Elisabeth Warren for the inspiration.

 

To view the entire series, please click HERE


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When failure is not an option.

badge-1-copyIt is a commonly used phrase. “Failure is not an option.”

Challenge is, when failure is not an option, we risk not learning from our mistakes, because in failure is not an option thinking, mistakes are not possible. In that space, we limit our capacity to think outside the box — or to even see, there is no box.

Our thinking becomes so focussed on doing the things that will guarantee success, we can’t allow space for ‘mistakes’ to lead the way to greatness.

In front of the easel I meet myself.

It is one of the many things I learn standing in front of the easel, leaning into the unknown.

Again and again, as I dig into the creative process, I see myself staring back at me with every brushstroke, with every layering of colour and texture and moment of wanting to wash it all over with white paint to begin again.

The creative process has expanded my understanding of the phrase, “Failure is not an option.”

I used to believe it meant, there is only one choice, come hell or high water, you will not fall down, you will not give in, you will persevere and rise above — at all costs.

It was the unspoken, at all costs, that had me in its grip.

At all costs meant, no matter how tired, how broken, how lost I was, I could never give into letting go of the need to appear ‘successful’. I could never let go of my pride.

“Failure” is just another cloud floating by

In front of the easel, I am constantly reminded that as long as I allow the urge to create to lead me into the unknown, as long as I give into the flow and trust in the process, without buying into my ego’s insistence it knows best, failure is just a thought that flows through and out, like clouds floating by on a summer’s day.

Ultimately, the fleeting thought of failure becomes part of the outcome. And, as long as my thinking stays expansive enough to allow for curiosity and experimentation, for happenstance and unexpected developments to appear, success isn’t measured in the beauty of the final piece (because believe me, I can always find flaws in the final piece if I really want to). Success is measured in the whole-heartedness of my experience of creation and the entirety of the final product – not the individual brushstrokes, but the entirety.

Moving through the fear of the well drying up

As I have been delving into the #ShePersisted series, I keep coming up against my fear of ‘the well’ drying up — which is just another term for fear of failure. Thus far, I have created 18 different images and quotes for the series. My original intent was to create 12.

Some I really like. Some, I’m curious about because they don’t resonate quite the same way as others. All are an expression of my creative essence.

Is that success or failure? Is 12, 18, 32 the number I will measure my success by? Or, is it simply a trusting in the process knowing that when I stay open to the muse, creativity flows freely and expresses itself through me without any expectation of success or failure?

Staying open and free of self-judgement/criticism requires a letting go of my need to ‘achieve’ and produce. It requires my breathing into my desire to be in harmony with the world around me through allowing the expression of my creative essence to flow freely.

The mystery of creativity is exposed in the unknown

I am fascinated by how the #ShePersisted series is appearing in my life. Several people have asked, how do you do it? How do the ideas keep coming?

It’s a mystery to me.

And I love that part of the creative process.

I trust in the process of letting go of my fear of creating into the unknown, so that the unknown can appear through my creative process.

Every time I stand in front of the easel, I don’t know what will appear. I don’t know how it will manifest itself. I do know that something magic happens when I let go of ‘directing’ the process and let it be the process of delving into the mystery.

Often, most times in fact, I start with the quote — and let the painting appear in concert with the words I want to use.

Often, most times in fact, the words I begin with give way to the words that appear through the mystery of being part of, into and of, the creative process.

As I mentioned, it’s a mystery — and part of the teachings of the creative process. Give into the mystery and let go of the need to direct the outcome by controlling the process every step of the way.

In that space, failure isn’t an option because, failure and success are simply part of the joy of being willing to take the journey.

 

 

 

 


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Lessons from in front of the easel.

They said climb too high, you will fall. She fell, again and again, and learned how to fly.

They said climb too high, you will fall.
She fell, again and again, and learned how to fly.

I painted and glazed and used my Gelli pad (a rubbery pad used for print making — I love it!) and splashed some more paint and really, really was into the moment, just diving into the creative process, letting the muse have her way when… who should appear? That nasty little voice in my head, (you know that critter guy who likes to interfere with joyful pursuits just to make sure you’re not getting too full of savouring and loving life)… Yeah him… well he piped in and said, “You think you know what you’re doing. You don’t. You’re going to mess it up. You’re just kidding yourself. You haven’t got a clue about what you’re doing…”

That was to have been the theme for the 13th painting in my #ShePersisted series. “They said she didn’t know what she was doing. She turned their world upside down.”

Which is why, the woman who is falling in the painting was actually turning a cartwheel originally.

And then, the birds appeared.

And then, I remembered a couple of ideas two friends shared with me on FB for a quote for one of the paintings, and suddenly, cartwheels turned to a woman falling and learning to fly. (Thank you Sheila K. and Sandra R)

And that is how the creative process works.

Two ideas became one, emerging out of another.

It is what is continuing to compel me to create this series. I am not in control. I am not the ‘creator’. I am simply the conduit for the muse to express herself through me.

And it can be tiring. Or so I tell myself until I recognize that thought as the critter’s subtle attempt to get me to stop. “You really don’t know what you’re doing,” he hisses. “Stop it.”

No. I won’t.

I will not give into the critter, even when he is stomping his feet and telling me to stop painting. Stop creating. Like he tried last night.

And that is the lesson I found waiting for me in front of the easel last night.

The critter is just a voice in my head. He is not real. He is a creation of my reptilian mind, rising up out of the ages. Carrying generations of familial messages, trauma, hurts and pains.

Sure, in a not so nice way, he’s trying to keep me safe. He’s trying to protect me.

He forgets. I am no longer foraging for grains, living in a cave, peering into a fire that I keep burning all night to ward off animals and evil spirits.

I have evolved. I am here, right now, a powerful woman capable of expressing myself fearlessly. I have my own voice. My own opinions. My own thoughts. And, I am powerful beyond my own imaginings!

Once upon a time, the critter and I were one. He was important to my survival.

I survived the dark ages. It’s time for both of us to come into the light.

 

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The series #ShePersisted can be viewed on my website, HERE.