Category Archives: The Creative Journey

My Mother’s Prayers. (Video flip-through)

Front and back cover of altered book art journal — My Mother’s Prayers

It is done. This journal I began several months ago with my mother’s prayer cards. It is done.

When I began my intention was to honour my mother’s life journey through using her prayer cards as a collage element on each page in the journal. I wasn’t thinking about healing. Or growth. Or change.

I was focused on diving into the creative field of creating an altered book art journal with her cards.

And then… Transformation beckoned.

Which makes sense, given that the premise of an altered book art journal is using an existing book to transform it into something else.

Don’t you love how art mirrors life and how when we open up to creative expression, life awakens in all its magnificent hues like a crystal prism hanging in a window refracting and reflecting rainbow shards of sunlight?

Through working on this journal, I have found myself falling with grace into all the colours of my human emotions. Grief. Joy. Sorrow. Gratitude, Regret. Compassion. Denial. Appreciation. Sadness. Joy. Anger. Love…

As I’ve written on one of the pages, “There are no mistakes in the human heart. There is only Love.”

In the end, and in the beginning… there is only Love.

There are no mistakes in my life. No paths not taken I wished I had. No roads wandered I wish I hadn’t.

Every path, every road, every step and word and gesture and action and encounter have all added up to create this space in which I live today. Breathing deeply of the divine nature of life.

It is here I find myself floating on a sea of gratitude, waves of joy and love and friendship and laughter and harmony and grace washing over me as I bathe in the waters of sacred communion with Life.

And so I say the prayer that stirs my soul and fills my heart with gratitude. “Thank you.”

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For the past two days I have been working on a flip through video of the book.

On each page I share the words that are most evocative of that page.

I am pleased. The book has turned out better than I imagined (Yes Jane. I’ll say it. “I did a good job!” 🙂 )

But, more than how the book has turned out, I am so very, very grateful for having taken this journey. I began without expectation of an outcome. I end with gratitude for the transformation that has appeared on my path through stepping into the creative exploration of My Mothers Prayers.

A note on the cover — my mother loved baubles and bling. She always wore sparkly things. On her fingers. Around her neck. In her hair. On her wrists. The original cover was orange – not one of my mother’s favourite colours. I painted it purple, covered that with gold spray paint and sprinkled gold dust over the entire thing. The jewelled pieces were my mother’s earrings and on the back, the embroidered bird is from excess fabric from the skirt I wore when C.C. and I were married. Made of hand-embroidered silk from India, I felt it would bring my mother to our wedding as she was too frail to attend. Underneath the bird is one of my mother’s prayer cards.

That Ain’t My Gig.

The words for this page appeared before I began creating it.

“And in the end, when the veil that separated life from death was lifted and she slipped through into the ever-after, all that she left behind were her prayers and the Love that carried her through her life into the eternal grace of God’s embrace.”

This is the final page of the altered book journal I’ve been creating for the past few months with the prayer cards my mother left behind.

When I first began this journey I thought it would be… effortless. Seamless. A traipse through memory sweeping the past clean and closing doors on remembered words and perceived hurts that haunted me in my mother’s silence.

It has been non of that and all of that and so much more.

This deep dive into the power of prayer and my ‘mother memories’ of the rights and the wrongs, the beauty and pain, has brought me face-to-face and heart-to-heart with the quintessential ‘mother wound‘.

Healing the mother wound has been a lifelong journey for me. While it might seem all about a woman’s relationship with her mother, it is bigger than that.

The archetypal mother wound is generational. It is the universal struggle to fit into a world that is constantly changing, yet struggling to transform. It is a world that does not make room for a woman’s exploration of her power and potential because the world itself is constructed by a patriarchal set of rules that do not acknowledge the power and potential of women. It is the fight against the ties that bind while holding onto the apron ties that taught us how to be women in a world constructed in man’s ways.

According to Dr. Oscar Serrallach in THIS ARTICLE on GOOP,

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“The mother wound reflects the challenges a woman faces as she goes through transformations in her life in a society where the patriarchy has denied us ongoing matrilineal knowledge and structures.”

“This agenda tells females not to shine, to remain small, and that if you are going to try to be successful, that you should be masculine about it.”

_______________________________

I am still searching. Scouring mind and heart for the words that will describe this journey I am on. This journey of reckoning.

With my mother’s passing. The words unwinding. The deeds undoing. The messages deconstructing. The lessons unlearning.

It is a journey of Repatriation. Reclamation. Restoration. Rejuvenation. Of myself.

It is a journey not just through time and space and generational legacies and patriarchal ties that bind me to a way of being that does not fit my skin, my soul, my sense of who I have the right to be in this world. A world that does not know how to create space for the art of the feminine to rise up and be heard and seen and known with grace.

I have come to the final page of this journal I have been creating of my mother’s prayer cards.

I can no longer blame my mother or hold her hostage to my unrealized dreams. I can no longer pray for my freedom from the past, from all that has kept me tied with invisible threads of silence and shame to beliefs and ways of being that do not fit me.

I have come to the time when I must claim my right to be free or crumble beneath the sorrow and rage of a life not lived.

No 5. #ShePersisted Series Mixed Media 2017 Louise Gallagher “Rock the Boat”

My mother has taught me well. Through her silence and her belief it was better to not make waves, I have learned to rock the boat.

Through her insistence I walk with both feet firmly planted in obedience, chastity and faith, I have learned to peer into the darkest night of the soul and see the light within.

In showing me how to be a woman bound to man’s ways she has gifted me the freedom to be unbound. To run wild of heart and free of spirit.

And now it is time.

Time for me to dive into the rising tide full of the song of the soul rushing in to greet me on the shore where I stand in anticipation of life washing me clean of the past. Body arced, arms flung wide above my head, waves crashing over my feet, I dive deeper and deeper into the sacred waters of the Divine Feminine. Into the depths of the great mystery where magic flows free and life dances gloriously unbounded by the conventions of a way of being that is not mine.

It is time for me to hold onto only Love and say to the rest, “The hell with that. That ain’t my gig!”

Yup. It’s time to shine big and dance!

ThE Incantations

“Whispered into the holy night, her prayers were an incantation awakening sacred joy and delight.” Pgs 51 & 52 My Mother’s Prayer altered book journal

My father was a curious man. He read voraciously and always replied to questions such as, ‘How do you spell ___________?” or “What’s does _________mean?” with the response, “Go look it up in the dictionary.”

Of course, I’d try to find a ‘smart alecky’ answer like, “If I don’t know how to spell it how can I look it up?

It never phased him. He’d make me think about the spelling, what I thought it was, and work from there.

Question about the meaning of life, or things or processes were always answered with, “Go look it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica.”

The EB was the fount of all knowledge when I was growing up. If it wasn’t in the Encyclopedia, it wasn’t worth knowing.

Because French was my mother’s native tongue, I seldom asked her those kinds of questions. For her, I reserved my curiosity about God.

“Why would God place a sin on an unborn child? Aren’t we born perfect and whole in God’s image?”

“Why do dead people have to wait it out in Purgatory for prayers of the living to release them? Doesn’t God forgive all sin? Isn’t that why Jesus died?”

To my mother, my constant questioning of God was an assault on her faith and her being.

I didn’t intend it to be but, because so much of what I learned about God as a child was fear-based, I wanted answers so I wouldn’t feel so afraid.

I didn’t like feeling afraid, especially if the adults around me didn’t have ways to assuage my fear.

And I definitely didn’t like the anxiety of waiting for ‘the Hand of God’ to come crashing down from the heaven’s above and knock some sense into me. Which is something my mother often wished for, at least that’s how I translated her entreaties that I ‘be like the others’ (my 3 older siblings) and stop disobeying her constantly.

“God knows everything,” my mother would say. “He sees you and hears you and he is angry at you for being so bad.”

And she would cry and wonder out loud what she had done to deserve such a difficult child as me.

After years of therapy and inner child work and personal development courses and journalling and a host of other practices to make sense of the mess I felt was ‘me’ inside, I understand how my mother and I walked on such unsteady ground.

How could she keep me safe from the world if I was constantly putting my eternal soul in danger by questioning God’s will?

How could she have peace if I was constantly searching for answers to the things she did not want to speak of?

Namaste

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One of the gifts of art journalling is its invitation to experiment. With products, process, perspective…

Awhile ago, I watched a video on using Vaseline with alcohol inks. I wasn’t using Alcohol Inks on this page but was curious what would happen if I used it with acrylic inks.

Magic.

The vaseline acts as a resist so that when I spray onto the page, where ever I’ve applied the vaseline, the ink doesn’t adhere. When the ink is dry, wipe it off and voilá! (Ok. The wiping off takes patience but it’s well worth it!)

The lighter spaces, including within the dark image on the left which was the photo on the page I was working on, remain untouched by the ink.

For me, this page speaks to the mystery of my mother’s faith, of life, of relationships, of the universe.

I see the scrolly piece at the bottom as the filigree frame that separated the penitent from the priest in the confessional.

The lone figure walking towards the lit area of the image on the left is me, searching for answers while staying true to myself — which was not always easy when my path took me far from the Catholicism of my mother’s way.

And the entreaty to, “Be. Here. Now.” is the reminder that the past is not alive in this moment, nor is the future.

Life lives in the now. It is here where the mystery flows with grace into the mystical nature of life, creating magic and wonder in my life today.

Now is where Life happens.

Celebrate it. Cherish it. Create beauty within it.

.

In The Garden Of Her Prayers

Her prayers became a garden. “My Mother’s Prayers” altered book art journal. Pgs 49 & 50

I remember as a young girl my mother admonishing me after one of the squabbles my middle sister and I often had. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” It was one of her favourite sayings.

My mother kept her silence. A lot.

I used to think her silence hurt her. Filled with all the not-nice things she wouldn’t say, her silence constantly grated against her peace of mind.

As I work in this journal and come to its last pages, I recognize the limitations of that belief. As I paint and meditate on the pages. As I collage a prayer card on the page and allow the words to divine their way into being known, the awareness grows that her prayers were her way of transforming her silences, her secrets, her worries and fears and anger and tears into hope and love and above all kindness.

As a child, I never liked that adage of my mothers.

It was my inability to not be silent that frustrated my mother the most. Particularly, as my speaking out often came in the form of questions about things she never wanted to discuss.

“Let bygones be bygones,” she’d say.

“Stop making trouble Louise. It was long ago. It doesn’t matter today what happened then.”

“Don’t be mean. Be quiet.”

I never meant to be mean, but to explain to my mother the source of my angst or questions required speaking of the things she did not wish to speak of, at least not with me.

Which is one of the gifts of this journal journey.

There was a time when I thought that my mother just wanted to avoid talking about everything and anything that did not please her or paint her in good light with the saints to whom she whispered her prayers. And while she did like to ‘look good’ and spent a great deal of energy worrying about what others thought, it was her right to choose what she did or did not speak of.

In my constant questing for answers, and her desire to not speak of things for which she knew her answers would not be enough for me, there was no safe container for either of us to find our way through the turmoil of the past together.

In all probability, my mother did speak of the unspeakables she carried deep within her heart and mind. It’s just, the only one she trusted with her thoughts and feelings, fears and doubts, anguish and anxiety, was her God.

My mother, like me, was never perfect.

She was kind. Caring. Generous. Shy. Quiet. Creative. Loyal. Steadfast.

And above all, she was a woman of great faith.

A woman who wanted the best for others. And even when she didn’t know how to give it, or how to speak the words, she never doubted that her faith was enough. In her steadfastness, in her constant prayers, I was free to grow fierce and loving. Strong. Wild. Free.

As this page says, “Her prayers became a garden where Love grew stronger in the memories of those she left behind.”

Namaste.

Faith Was Her Way

Faith Was Her Way — Pages 47 & 48 – altered book art journal, My Mother’s Prayers


I am almost finished the altered book art journal I’ve been creating with the Prayer Cards my mother left behind when she departed this earthly plain in February.

It has been a sacred journey of great healing. Of appreciation. Acceptance. Growth. Love.

As I created this page in the journal, my heart full of memories from my recent trip to visit my grandchildren in Vancouver, I thought about my mother and how, when she learned her great-granddaughter would be named Ivy, after her mother, she took my daughter’s hands and held them as tightly as her crippled fingers would allow and whispered, “Thank you.” Her prayers were answered.

My mother never got to meet her great-granddaughter who was born in June, but I know that where ever she is, she continues to pray for everyone just as she did throughout her life, never doubting her prayers would be answered.

The words that appeared for this page are: “Her prayers gave her strength to have faith in darkness and in light.”

It didn’t matter what path my mother was on, what fork in the road appeared before her, or what obstacle blocked her way, she always prayed. To God and Jesus and Mother Mary and all the Saints, asking for their interventions to guide her, protect her, save her and those she loved.

Faith was embedded in her DNA, stretching across time and space, spanning the past through the connective tissues that carried her into the future.

Faith was her way. Prayer was the song that carried her through life’s travails, its glories and tragedies, its beauty and its ugliness.

For my mother, faith held her fast in her belief that God would never let her down. Prayer lifted her up into His everlasting arms of Love.

Namaste

There Are No Accidents In The Human Heart

There Is No ‘Us And Them’. – two page spread in altered book art journal, My Mother’s Prayers

My mother was devoutly Catholic. She was also very superstitious.

Though putting shoes on a table isn’t particularly hygienic at the best of times (like if they’re new) for my mother, it was cause for panic. It was a harbinger of impending death.

Stir with a knife. Stir up strife.

Black cat on your path. Look out!

We used to tease her a lot about her superstitions. Here response was to pray for us with another Hail Mary.

And, though her faith was firmly embedded in Catholicism, her roots were grounded in the land of her birth and the Hinduism of Southern India.

In my parent’s home, the Crucifix along with statues of Mother Mary and Jesus Christ dominated. But there was always a place for Shiva and Brahma. And, because my father liked to stir things up, there was always a Buddha or two sitting on a shelf high above our heads. As a little girl, I loved to rub the Buddha’s belly. No matter how high the Buddha sat, I’d climb up on a chair or reach up on my tiptoes and rub away. My mother told me it would bring me good luck.

I still have a Buddha on a shelf in my kitchen along with a statue of Shiva and an elephant with its trunk upturned (its good luck). The crucifix my mother carried around the world with her since leaving India decades ago, sits on the mantel in my studio and yesterday, I carefully placed the figurines of Jesus and Mary that sat on her bedside throughout her life on the side table by the sofa. A tiny Laughing Buddha stands with them.

My parents taught my siblings and me to listen and see and feel and know and honour everyone. Not by the labels of society, but by their hearts. They taught us that there is room for everyone at the table no matter where they came from, where they were going, or what they brought to the table.

If Buddha and Christ could stand side by side on a counter, why couldn’t we sit side by side at a table?

Yesterday, after finishing rearranging and organizing my studio, I delved back into the altered book journal I’ve been creating in honour of my mother. “My Mother’s Prayers”.

It is not an accident that the left side of the page has a prayer card of Mother Mary. Just as it is not an accident that Brahma graces the right side of the page tucked beneath the purple flowers I painted in remembrance of my mother.

As my parents taught me; There is no ‘Us and Them’. We are not our faith, or colour of our skin or land of our birth. We are our hearts and there are no accidents in the human heart. There is only Love.

Namaste.

Painting Through The Shudders

There is a world of curious ‘mishaps’ beneath this painting. A world of giving into the questions. Like, “Hmmmm…. if I do [this], I wonder what will happen?” Or, “I really like the way it looks now. I wonder what would happen if I let go of the need to ‘like it’?”

Letting go of the need to ‘like it’ is hard for me. I want my art to be pretty. To be pleasing to the eye. To not disturb.

And that’s why I art journal. To strengthen my ‘letting go’ muscles.

I like to create ‘pretty’.

This is the first monoprint – I really, really liked it.

Pretty doesn’t always serve me well. Pretty can mean I’m playing it safe. Playing it for affirmation. Playing it for the outcome – which will hopefully become something I can sell.

Art Journalling isn’t about creating work to sell. It’s about selling yourself on the idea that creating for the pure joy of creating is a form of meditation, revelation and restoration.

This page had a couple of iterations. The first one above, which I really, really liked. The one on the right, which I hesitated to share because it makes my creative nerves shudder. And then the final one which makes me smile.

The Shudders

The really, really liked one got buried beneath the shudders one because I was curious about what would happen if I painted botanicals on top.

The final piece, which is all about experimentation – and a lesson in letting go – is because I felt compelled to cover up the ‘shudders’.

The blue petals are created from the masking tape I used to block off the edges of the page in my art journal. Its patterns were made as I monoprinted on the paper.

When I pulled them off the page after the paint had dried, I didn’t immediately crumble them up and throw them into the wastebasket. The patterns that had developed as I monoprinted fascinated me so I carefully hung them from the edge of my worktable. I didn’t have any idea what I would use them for, or if I would use them for anything. They simply intrigued me so I decided to save them.

It wasn’t until I ended up with ‘the shudders’ on top of the original monoprinted background and thought, ‘Oh my. Now that’s not particularly pleasing,’ that I thought about using the saved blue masking tape.

Which meant, I had to dive in and pull another monoprint of the page and start reworking it. (The white striated background)

And here’s the thing.

How we do one thing is how we do all things.

I was afraid of ruining the monoprint I really liked and hesitated to do anything else to it. But, I also knew my hesitation was fear-based and wanted to confront my fear – which I am very familiar with.

It’s all about that ‘precious thing’ syndrome. Holding onto things because I deem them precious, or because I don’t know what I might do with them and don’t want to let them go because I fear I’ll be limiting my options later.

Like the blue masking tape. I didn’t have a really good reason to hold onto it other than that it intrigued me. Sure, finding a use for it was a bonus but if I step back and reflect on things I’ve held onto because of the fear of letting go was high, I’d find a wealth of material for personal exploration of my ‘fear of letting go’ syndrome.

Like right now. I fear letting this blog post go because I’m not sure I’ve really explored it adequately.

But, I also know this is a lifelong exploration for me. This post doesn’t have to be perfect or beautiful, or even witty.

In fact, it doesn’t need to be anything other than a reflection of where I’m at right now and how I’m navigating these spaces.

The biggest ‘fear’ to overcome right now, is my fear of showing ‘my ugly’.

And the ‘shudder painting’ is all about ‘my ugly’.

I don’t like it. I want to ignore it. I want to pretend it didn’t happen.

Life, like art, doesn’t work that way. ‘The ugly’ is as vital to a rich and beautiful life as the pretty.

Finding value in ‘the ugly’ enriches my life. It creats vibrant, unexpected gifts that keep expanding possibility into sacred knowing of the essence of who I am when I let go of being anything and anyone other than who and how I am in this moment right now.

Real. Vulnerable. Embodied in the present moment. Breathing into the joy held within the darkness and the light. The joy and the sorrow. The beauty and the ugly. The known and the unknown.

Namaste

The Song Of The Trees

Yesterday, Bernie commented on “Nature Will Always Have Its Way“, “The sound of the leaves has changed and the crickets are silent.”

When I read her comment, I felt something shift deep inside me. Like a recognition, a knowing, a sense of wonder and awe opening up.

The sounds of the leaves have changed.

Later, when I walked in the forest, I stood surrounded by the remains of summer clinging in changing colours to branches and listened deeply to the whispering of the leaves.

Their song is crinkly now. Drier. Like a thousand whispered prayers breathed into the sheer, lacey veils covering the faces of kneeling supplicants at the altar of life.

“Thank you summer, for your warmth and beauty,” they whisper. “Thank you for the heat that encouraged our roots to release its sap. For the warm showers that fed every vein of our being here, standing together in this forest, where we offer shade in the heat and beauty throughout the seasons. For the breezes that blew away all memory of winter’s frost and spring’s slow awkward tendrils. Thank you for being part of our ever-turning story.”

It was a real page turner, the leaves seem to whisper. This summer of Covid. Of uncertainty. Of constant change. Of fires sweeping across vast tracts of land. Of floods and hurricanes and rain pouring down.

Do the trees weep for their burned out comrades? Do their roots ache in sympathy of the dying embers of the skeletal remains of their compatriots who lost their lives to the scorching flames?

I stand beneath the trees and feel my heartbeat slow. My breath becomes deeper. My eyes close and I welcome into my body the song of the autumn kissed trees.

Their song is full of memory. Of connection. Of stories carried by the wind. Of birdsong and chattering squirrels.

Soon, there will be but a few skeletal remains of summer tenanciously clinging to the branches.

Soon, the song of the trees will become more weathered, more seasoned and weary. Their limbs wil stretch out, stark and naked against the winter sky. Their song will be heard in creaking trunks and sighing limbs swaying with the cold air rushing in from the north.

Do trees shiver in Arctic blasts?

Do they feel the sting of frost nipping at their limbs?

Perhaps they are more accustomed to weathering the storms than we humans. Perhaps they trust that the seasons will turn and what once was winter will become spring. Perhaps, in falling leaves they have learned to accept the cycle of life is an unending, constant circle of rebirth.

Their song sounds crinkly to me now, as if their veins are contracting in preparation of The Great Fall.

And I wonder… if I had no sight, if all I could do was hear the seasons turning, would I know it was Autumn by the song of the trees?

I hope so.

Namaste.

____________________________

Thank you Bernie for your comment and the inspiration to wander in wonder amidst the trees listening deeply to their Autumnal song.

Creative By Nature

This sheet will eventually become a ‘birthday booklet’ for a friend

Because creating a video is a very intense (read ‘exhausting’) process for me, I like to take a day in the studio to just ‘play’.

Yesterday, I rewatched part of the courseware from the Laura Horn Art course I’ve been savouring my way through and decided I’d create some botanicals.

Ah yes. You know that saying about how we make plans and God laughs?

Well someone was surely laughing as I lay down watercolour onto the page.

It became one big mess.

“What’s there to lose,” I asked myself, “if I throw some acrylic white ink on top of the areas that are really yucky? If I don’t like it I can cut the sheet into squares that eventually can be collaged into other work.”

Even that didn’t help calm the mess before me.

First monoprint over ‘The Big Mess’

So, I decided to do some monoprinting on top to ‘assist’ in the page’s development. Whether I’d keep it as one piece or cut it up was still a big unknown.

And then, I pulled the first monoprint and the muse within whispered, “Keep going.”

So I did.

I didn’t know I was making a little booklet that would become a birthday card for someone special. Written on it are the XX number of ways they make the world a better place. (X = their number of years on this planet)

Words are my love language. One of the ways I love to share words is to celebrate the people around me.

As an example, recently a young friend, my honourary daughter whom, because she is much taller than both my daughters, I call my TaDa (tall daughter — I’m her ShoMo (Short mom) 🙂 For her 35th birthday, I committed to write a song for her every day for 35 days – believe me, they’re not great but I record them and send them to her and they make her laugh (I think). They’re all very silly. (PS — I am not a songwriter)

Finished booklet – writing blanked out

Anyway, back to this card – It began as a 27.9 x 38.1 cm (11 x 15 in) piece of 300gm (140lb) watercolour paper. Its finished size is (approx) 10 x 14.5 cm (3.75 x 5.5 in) 8 pages including front and back cover.

Filling it with words, specifically, the X number of ways this friend makes a difference in the world, and my life, was pure joy. I got to spend an afternoon creating in the studio, and a couple of hours thinking about my friend and the ways they make a difference. Time well spent that felt absolutely delightful.

And here’s the thing.

I’ve never created a card like this before. Had no ‘thought’ of doing it. It just appeared.

I didn’t know this was what I would be creating when I sat down at my studio table yesterday to ‘play’.

I didn’t know the muse would whisper her sweet delicacies about giving a gift of art and words to someone very dear to me.

And, I had no idea how much joy I would experience in the process.

Front and back cover — words blanked out

And that’s the point. We do not know what we do not know until… we allow ourselves to get present where ever we’re at with whatever is happening.

For me, that meant making some ‘bad’ art to get to something I love. It meant being willing to ‘keep going’ even when I felt like throwing my hands up in the air and screaming at the muse, “This is crap! I’m going to go watch something vapid and forgettable on Netflix.)

It meant risking myself to the unknown.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned about being in the studio is that somewhere within me is this place where, inevitably, I want to quit. The critter loves to jump in at that point and tell me how non-creative I am, how bad I am at ‘this art thing’. He wants me to stop making a fool of myself pretending to be something I’m not.

I would be lying if I said there aren’t days I desperately want to listen to him. I mean seriously? I’m no Picasso or Monet. I’ll never make a living doing this…. yada. yada. yada.

In those moments, when the critter is ranting and I am leaning into his assertions of my limitations, the voice of wise knowing within me has to be very persistent in her exhortations to ‘keep going’.

In the keeping going, she reminds me there is no judgement. No comparison. No criticism. No capitulation. There is only the will to ‘keep going’.

I’m grateful I heeded her wisdom yesterday, and everyday.

In the act of being willing to ‘keep going’, to keep exploring whatever is happening, magic unfolds its wings and joy expands on streaming ribbons of fancy dancing in the air. It is always there that I find myself breathing deeply into the gratitude of being creative by nature.

Namaste.

Calming Whispers

I have been working on this two-page spread in the altered book art journal I am creating with my mother’s prayer cards for a couple of days. I’m filming as I go and the added pressure is daunting.

I get to a point where I’m relatively happy with the background, but have no idea where the page is going next. My head is calling me to ‘do this’ or ‘that’ to make it go a certain way. My heart knows I need to get out of my head so that I can intuit the creative urges calling me to let go and let be.

I do what I love to do when I feel stuck in my head. I wake up Beaumont the Sheepadoodle who is sleeping on the floor by my feet and go for a walk through the forest and grasses that line the riverbank near our home.

I am immersed in nature.

It is there I find myself letting go of thinking about the page and simply allowing what is whispering to be released to come alive.

Creating this altered book journal, My Mother’s Prayers, has been an amazing journey. It has connected me through time and space within the sacred field of grieving and remembering and honouring and healing..

There are so many moments in my relationship with my mother where pain and regret and despair rippled in angry waves creating crenellated, hardened folds in my memory banks. Over time, the folds solidified and I became stuck in believing only distance would keep me safe.

Creating in this journal has felt like standing in a gentle spring rainshower with my head tilted up to the skies. My arms are spread wide. The rain caresses my face and the breeze flows gracefully throughout my being. I am present to and within it all. I am refreshed. Envigorated. Enriched.

In the present, the hardened folds soften, the crenellations become smooth and the edges drift away. The past quietly floats out of view like a boat on the river rounding a distant curve leaving me embraced in the present moment.

And I smile.

My mother no longer visits me while in the bath. She no longer insists I ‘listen up’.

I like to think she’s having the time of her afterlife, living it up for all she’s worth in the heavenly realms of her prayers. Dancing with her brothers. Laughing at my father’s sweet nothings whispered in her ear as he nuzzles her neck. Sharing a meal at God’s table with her parents and brother’s and sisters and Aunties and Uncles and cousins who got there before her. “It took me awhile to get here”, she laughingly tells them all. “I had to clean up some business I’d left undone.”

I like to think she’s happy with how that ‘business with me’ is cleaning itself up. I like to think she too has found peace.

As I finished the final touches on this page, the quote came to me. “Her prayers were the whispers that calmed angry skies and turbulent seas.”

My mother’s prayers are like that boat. They are the sacred container carrying us all to safe harbour, in good times and in bad today. Whether she’s with us in body or in spirit.

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The following is the video I created of making this spread.

I am constantly amazed by how challenging a science video-editing is, and how creative.

I’m also sometimes quite frustrated with the technology and my lack of experience. Like syncing of the sound to video. I worked and worked to make it happen and finally had to accept, it’s not about perfection.

I also had to trust that in time, I will become more adept!

I hope you enjoy the video — sneak-a-peak — there’s even footage of Beaumont in the trees!

Thank you again Laura Hickli for sharing your amazing talent and voice. Mr. Butterfly is so perfect for this piece.