The Story of Your Dreams

"You carried the story of your dreams with you when you came into this world. They were written on your heart in the world beyond this place where miracles are birthed in the magic that is real and the mystical that is always present. You carried your dreams with you into life and all that matters now is you become the story of your dreams unfolding."

I wrote the quote above in freefall writing yesterday. It was my first time back in the studio since Monday. Before the fall.

It has a certain poetic drama, doesn’t it? Before the fall.

Like Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden. Or the Roman Empire before it fell apart.

Coining it to describe the mirror that fell on my head is me taking great poetic license and an exaggeration. It is obviously not of the same significance but, everything is relative. A small thing in the big picture can be a big thing in our own experience.

Yet, so often we attempt to minimize our experiences. To devalue their impact.

Years ago, when I was spending a lot of time in groups of women healing from experiences of the really painful ‘love (that was actually abuse) gone wrong’ kind, women would often say when someone recounted their story, “I know what you’re going through. Of course, my story isn’t as bad as yours…”

The fact is, every story we tell has value – it isn’t good or bad — it is of value to our experience. And when we tell it in a way that opens doors and windows to our heart, we release ourselves to create a new story. Diminishing our own story limits how wide the doors and windows of our heart can open.

For me, a bump on the head that slows me down is a big thing. It’s a call to wake up and pay attention to my body. To ‘get into my body’, not ‘out of my head and into my body’ but to be all of it, head and body. It is one unit, one being, one ‘thing’. There is no separation. no dividing line that says, “This is your head job. This is your body’s work.” It is all one.

And here’s the thing for me. When my body is hurting, I like to power through by pasting a smile on my face and ‘carrying on’ as if nothing is amiss. I let my mind override whatever my body is feeling as if my mind is in charge.

It’s not.

The body and mind are all and one of the same unit. They are all of me and I need all of me to be present, working as a wholistic being on creating substance to my dreams — the one’s that were written on my heart (and in every strand of my DNA) before I was born.

So… This time, I’m taking a different tack. I’m taking care of all of me, first.

See! It’s never too late to do things differently.

Which is also why I headed into the studio yesterday afternoon – it was R ‘n R.

There is something that happens when I sit down at my worktable and get present to the unknown, the invisible, the muse’s urgings I let appear what is calling itself into being.

In those moments, I know there is no separation between mind and body, heart and soul. I am all present. All in harmony.

And that’s exactly what happened yesterday.

I opened my “Learning to Fly” art journal and found myself exactly where I was, as I was. Present in the flow of all that is when I stop trying to compartmentalize my body from my head and acting as if my body’s trying to play a con job on my mind.

When I get present, my dreams get real.

My Sacred Garden

“A dream is a wish calling for its wings.” — Learning to Fly mixed media hand-crafted art journal

On Saturday, I took a four hour workshop with Dr. Minette Riordan, “The Sacred Garden: Spring Cleaning for Your Creative Spirit.”

My Sacred Garden Vision Map

The workshop was enriching, inspiring and very grounding. In our four hours spent writing and creating a circular ‘vision map’ of the Sacred Garden in our world right now, I discovered something really, really important to me.

One of the things Minette does in her workshop is ask really good questions. Like, really good.

Minette’s questions took me right into the core of what’s important to me and what I want to do in the world in this time in my life right now.

I am grateful.

Holding space for voices to find their unique song, beat and path underpins much of my creative expression.

Creating sacred and courageous space for all voices to be heard, honoured and celebrated is part of what I want to do more of in the world.

When the student is ready the teacher appears. When the student is truly ready… The teacher will Disappear.”

Tao Te Ching

That’s how I feel after spending four hours with Minette and the other women in the course. Listening to the conversation, the sharing, being part of the circle really helped me gain clarity.

I was ready. A guide appeared. Creating with her guidance I gained clarity and confidence in what I want to do next in this, the Third Act of my life.

So…. stay tuned! More about that later.

For now, I’m in the fluffing up of my wings, stretching the tendons and muscles, ensuring they are ready to stretch wide and lift me up stage of my Learning to Fly.

Happy Flying!

___________________________

Attitude and Actions No. 7 & 8

  1. Be brave.  Let courage draw you to the edge and passion lift you up
  2. Close your eyes, imagine the feeling of flight – repeat often

What Tears May Come

“What Tears May Come” – mixed media on canvas paper – 11 x 14″

“Sometimes, the only way to experience the journey fully

is to learn what the journey has to teach you.”

Lately, I feel like I’ve been swimming in a sea of Hope. Angst. Curiosity. Confusion. Sorrow… An alphabet soup of emotions that flow full of these times when my beloved and I wait to receive our first vaccination in 10 days mixed with the wonderment of what that could mean… How will things change? Will they change? Will I be different? Will the world feel safe?

I have learned a lot, grown a lot, experienced a lot throughout this past year of sequestered solitude. All of it is, as Ram Dass called it, “grist for the mill”.

Over the past two days, awash in that sea of alphabet emotions, I worked on the painting above. I had actually started it many months ago and set it aside – or at least the background part which had a heart on it which I really liked but wasn’t sure if I wanted to do more with it.

The background was in a pile I keep for those moments when I want to explore but have no clear starting point or idea of what I want to do. When I pulled it out, I set it beside an alcohol ink background that was waiting to be cut up and made into bookmarks.

“Ha! Why not sew flowers on the alcohol ink background, cut them up and collage them onto the other background?” a voice inside whispered. I’m not sure if it was the muse or the critter testing my resolve to let go of thinking some pieces I’d created were ‘precious’ or the inner voice of wisdom urging me to just be present in the process.

And then the voice said, “And while you’re at it, why not cut the heart out of the original background so you can affix it over the flowers?”

Whoever it was, I decided to heed them. I cut out the heart (Ouch. That was not easy!) I pulled out my sewing machine and got to work sewing flower shapes onto the Yupo paper (it’s a synthetic paper used with alcohol inks).

I liked the look of the flowers and began affixing them to the background with a gel medium.

And that’s when the yucky-messy ‘oh no what have I done’ happened.

See. Alcohol ink is not permanent unless you spray it with a fixative. I hadn’t done that. Suddenly the colours and patterns I’d liked so much began to bleed and blend and fade and mix and just get kind of all yucky. Okay. A lot yucky.

I wanted to throw the whole thing out but I’m also very stubborn.

So I kept digging in.

Two days later the piece is a testament to so much of what the past year has taught me.

Stay present in the process. Be here now. Be patient. Be curious. Be persistent. Let go of expectations. Let go of perfection. Don’t give up. Dive in. Keep going.

Teachings from the studio during a global pandemic

And then….

When I opened my laptop to work on the quote, I also stumbled across a poem I’d started awhile ago that I’d set aside. (Does anyone else have umpteen WORD documents left opened on their computer? Hmmm… I do and it’s always a lovely surprise to discover what I’ve started and not finished – okay so maybe ‘lovely’ isn’t the word but I’m going with it)

Anyway, I wrote the quote onto the painting and then started working on the poem that also represents so much of what this past year has taught me.

Don’t give up.

Dive in.

Keep going.

What Tears May Come
©2021 Louise Gallagher

There are moments when
the tears I fear
to shed
wallow in the spaces
behind all that I cannot see
in the world beyond my front door
as I sit feeling
trapped
inside
eyes closed
to hold back
the tears
I dare not release
for fear they will flow like the river
never ending.

In those moments
I must swallow
hard
the lump
of fear
jammed up against
the worry
pounding at the roots
of my angst
squaring off
against
thoughts threatening
to riot
amidst the litany
of all that has happened
all that has gone on
all that is lost and discarded
and missing
in these days
of being cut off
from the way things were
before,
before the pandemic
rolled in
and declared its presence
known
on the other side
of front doors
slammed shut
against its entry.

In those moments
I must remind myself
that one year is but a moment
in time’s great expanse
spanning all of life
with its threads of wonder
and awe and beauty
unfolding
whether I sit behind
closed doors
or walk the forest paths
alone
along the river
waiting for the time
when it is safe
to open the front door
and let go of fear.

Perhaps, as the river flows
and the seasons change
and this tiny microbe loses
its power over hearts
and lungs
my tears will flow free
falling
without fear
of never ending.

My Mother’s Many Gifts

Her prayers were known in the whispers of time. They are the memories that bind us. The love that holds us. The gift that lives on. — from My Mother’s Prayers – altered book art journal

Growing up, I was never particularly fond of the name Louise, though I did like its meaning, “Famous Warrior”. Named after my father, Louis, I felt trapped between my mother’s desire I be ‘a good girl’ and my father’s wish I be the second son he’d wanted.

I wanted to be Natasha. As in, a Russian Princess with black hair and piercing blue eyes and alabaster skin who wore rustling silk gowns and always got her way, and when she didn’t, threw tantrums and stomped her tiny slippered feet with impunity.

Or Rebekah. Grandmother to Joseph.  In the photos of her in the big, red-leather-bound book with the words, The Catholic Bible embossed in gold on the front that sat in a dominant place in our living room, Rebekah had black hair and dark eyes, like me. She looked beautiful, like I imagined my father’s mother to be. I never met my father’s mother, but she too was Jewish, which seemed exotic to my childlike mind. We seldom spoke of her. She divorced my grandfather when he was a child. The story my father told was that she didn’t want him so sent him away from London, England to boarding school in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan, when he was eight, while his sister stayed to live with her in London. Many years later I would learn that wasn’t the full story, but it was the story we grew up with.

I loved the story of Rebekah in the bible. How she cemented her place in history, used her feminine wiles and wits to create a dynasty and a place in history for her favourite son. In a house where my sisters and I used to joke about our brother that, “the sun rose and set on the son”, I liked how Rebekah knew exactly what she wanted and was committed to do what she needed to get it.

Rebekah’s path did not sit well with my mother. Women don’t behave like that she’d insist whenever I’d ask to read Rebekah’s story. It’s not ladylike to be so domineering, she’d say, before turning to a page she preferred we read.

Looking back, I can understand why my mother insisted we read only the stories that extolled the virtues she deemed to be ladylike. I wanted to be the things she did not admire in women. Independent, strong, willful even, like Rebekah, but was often told I was petulant and demanding, bratty even, like Natasha, my Russian wanna-be namesake.

For many years, I got lost somewhere between the pages of that red-bound-leather bible and the confusing messages of the world around me. “Be smart, but not too smart. Boys don’t like smart girls.” “Dream big, but not too big. Boys don’t like girls whose dreams are bigger than theirs.” “Be outspoken, but not too outspoken. Boys don’t like loud-mouthed girls.”

For my mother, there was never a question that being like Mary was the goal of every woman. Nor was there any question in her mind that I would ever attain such grace. I was just too flawed and imperfect to ever get there.

I didn’t particularly want to, ‘get there’. Yet still, I tried. And constantly failed. It felt like a set-up. By God. The Bible. The stories of men who dominated its volumes and its unrealistic expectations of women’s virtues. Society and its double standards. My body that, no matter how hard I wished it wouldn’t, kept turning into a body men desired.

I have long since come to terms with my name and nature and femininity. Time, and a whole lot of therapy, have given me perspective. But, as I began to write this piece I went back and read the stories of Rebekah and was transported back to those childhood days when my mother would take down the red-leather-bound bible from its perch and open it to a story she wanted to read.

In that memory I am reminded of the sacred nature of those moments. Of sitting close to my beautiful mother listening to her soft lilting voice, her hands fluttering in the air between us as she read the stories that meant so much to her. Of how each turn of a page revealed yet another stunning painting of a Biblical scene in living colour.

Sometimes, she’d read a story from one of the four Book of Saints that accompanied the red leather-bound bible.

The ones about the women saints, those who defied the odds, who did great things with great courage and even greater spirit ignited my imagination. I wouldn’t realize it then, but those are the stories that birthed the feminist in me.

I wanted to be like those saints. Not the pious part. That just wasn’t my gig. But the strong, committed, overcoming challenges and standing up to unrighteousness and corruption and wrong-doing in the world… now that part grabbed my dreams of who I wanted to be in the world. The challenge was always to find my path without having to be the ‘good little Catholic girl’ my mother dreamt I’d become.

It would take me many years, and buckets full of life experience, to find my own way.

And while as a child, I’d often rather have been out playing in the backyard, today, I am thankful for those times when I sat beside my mother as she read stories from the big red-leather-bound bible on her lap. I didn’t know it then, but in those quiet moments she was giving me many gifts. A love of beauty, of story, of art, of possibilities. And the courage to use my voice and gifts to create a better world today.

Namaste

__________________

About the Art: After our mother passed away at 97 years of age last February 25th, I brought home the stack of prayer cards she used every night to say her prayers. For several months, I worked on an altered book art journal, incorporating her prayer cards into each page. The 2-page spread above is from the printed copy of the finished book which I created of the altered book art journal (I wanted to give both my sisters a copy so needed to have it printed). The 3 faces are my grandmother, mother and me. If you’d like to view the print-copy of the book, you can see it here.

For me, the book stands as a testament to the power of art to heal hearts and the past while inspiring beauty in the present day and awakening courage to create a more loving tomorrow.

Breathe. Be. Here. Now.

“Like flowers preserved behind glass, her story wove strands of beauty throughout time.”

It took two days to complete. Two days of breathing deeply and allowing the muse to guide me.(In case you’re wondering, I’m referring to the finished journal page above.)

It’s hard. The letting go of expectations, of the need to ‘make pretty things’ and just be present within the process, allowing what wants to be revealed to appear in its own way.

It’s hard. But it’s worth it when it happens.

Not necessarily because the finished piece is ‘beautiful’ by artistic standards. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t.

The ‘worth it’ comes in the sense of peace and calm that envelopes and holds me in tender arms of gratitude and grace.

Gratitude because in the process of unfolding I release the goal of ‘making art’ to my heart’s yearning to allow the art within me to become me. In its revealing nature, I discover hidden (to me) pockets of creativity, desire, whimsy, curiosity, wonder…

Grace because while immersed in the process I feel myself carried gently along a colourful stream of creative energy that feels singular to me yet is deeply connected to the collective consciousness of all of life.

And, because when I am flowing with the stream, worrisome thoughts of self-criticism, judgement, negativity, ‘the future’, ‘why am I doing this?’ effortlessly float away, setting me free to simply Be. Here. Now.

It is divine.

This place where I allow without pushing, accept without resisting, embrace without holding on, become without doing.

And then I smile.

Because I really, really want to explain this piece which is quite different in many ways than my normal work…

Because… out of the flow, my critical mind looks at the piece and says… Hmmm… you know you could have taken the stems off the dried flowers before you glued them in. Oh. And do you think the bottom half is cohesive with the top? They’re such different styles. And, seriously Louise, what is this piece all about?

I am a ‘meaning-maker’. If you’ve hung around my blog long enough, you know that I love to dive into the inner self and shine a light on its secrets, mystery and beauty. It is as natural to me as breathing.

When I made ‘the decision’ to include the dried flowers in the page I was a bit surprised but, as I was in the flow, I let it happen.

Plus, I have a stash of dried flowers from summers’ past and now felt like a good time to use some. The photo has been sitting on the edge of my studio table for months. Seriously months. It was on a card I’d bought a couple of years ago, unearthed when I was cleaning up my studio one day. I don’t often use other peoples photos in my work but this one has intrigued me for so long I decided to use it along with some of my dried flowers. It’s a blend of a very different look and feel for me as well as part ‘Oh. This is my style too’ (I paint botanicals a lot into my pages) — It felt wonderful to step outside my comfort zone and play fearlessly.

As I kept working on the page, I could also feel my ‘thinking’ mind’s questioning of what on earth was I doing?

Time and time again throughout the two days of working on this journal page, I had to bring myself back into the flow by repeating quietly to myself…

Breathe… Be. Here. Now. Breathe… Be. Here. Now.

The quote appeared once I was finished. Somewhere deep within me, is a sense of the threads of time appearing like pearls in a necklace. Polished by time and the sea and the tide flowing in and out and over and into an oyster’s shell, that little speck of dirt grating against its body transforms into something of beauty.

Like the dried flowers. Perhaps they were once part of a posy the woman held in her hands as she sat waiting for her lover to appear in the night…

And so… when I was done and closed my eyes and held my hands upon the page, its essence appeared in the words written on the lefthand side.

.”Like flowers preserved behind glass, her story wove strands of beauty throughout time.”

Let Love Fill In The Cracks

It’s pretty simple. Right?

I mean, Leonard Cohen said it. “The cracks are how the light gets in.”

And if you’re human, there are bound to be cracks and broken places in your heart. It’s life. Few of us intend to hurt another, or cause ourselves pain. But we do.

The secret isn’t to avoid the pain. It’s to allow our hearts to grow through it. With it. Because of it.

Yesterday at the park, I met a woman I’d chatted with last week. She’s not a dog owner but she has a son whose dad (he’s her ex-husband) has a dog and who is currently laid up and unable to walk him. So she’s doing it. Which I thought was very kind.

“He’s my son,” she said. “I love him.”

We chatted some more about exes and raising a child on our own and parted ways.

Yesterday, as she walked towards me she said, “I thought I knew you the last time we met but I couldn’t figure out where and then I wondered… I watch a lot of crime TV. Are you…?” And she paused and looked at me expectantly.

I smiled. I knew exactly what she was talking about. “Yup. That’s me.” I replied.

And she got very excited. “OMG. Really. That’s amazing and wow. You look so happy.”

I laughed and said, “I am.”

We went on to chat some more about the program she had seen. The one where the story of my journey through the relationship from hell is told. Even though it was filmed many years ago, it still runs on OWN.

“I’m so sorry you had to go through that,” she said at one point.

I said, “I’m not. I have an amazing life today and healing from that relationship gave me an opportunity to grow and learn and fall in love with myself completely.”

When I told her I am married to a wonderful man she was shocked. “How on earth did you ever trust a man again after that?”

That fact is, I knew even in those first days of healing from that relationship that it was never about trusting a man again. It was always about learning to love myself so completely I knew I could trust me to always stand by me and not let me down. To believe in me enough to know that I would not compromise my values or undermine my worth by placing it in the hands of another.

I must trust myself enough to do the right thing. Always. And trust, that when I do the right thing, no matter how others respond, I will continue to do the right thing for me and those around me. Always.

And the right thing for me is to love myself truly, madly deeply.

To love myself, truly, madly, deeply, I must shine my light on the cracks and broken spaces that naturally appear as I live my life fierce, passionate and free. In those spaces, Love flows in to fill in the gaps, making the broken places, the ugly cracks, the scars and scabs dazzling fragments that make the whole of my heart a beautiful, exquisite home where Love grows wild and free.

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. ❤

Memory’s Relentless Undertow

I feel memory’s tug, like an undertow pulling me into the riptide of its dark and stormy seas, calling me to dive deep. To give myself over to its beguiling insistence I am powerless to resist.

I know resistance is futile.

I resist anyway. Gasping and struggling as I fight its relentless current pulling me under, away from the safe shores of what I know with certainty into those dark spaces of what I tell myself I do not need to revisit or explore or see or know.

I first noticed the undertow when I began painting the faces of one of my paper doll chains.

The critter hissed. “What a stupid idea. Don’t do it Louise.”

Curious, I turned to face its presence in my psyche. “Why not?” I ask.

“Because I said so.”

I know that voice. It is the one that carries childhood angst and fears.

“What are you afraid of?” I ask it.

The critter tosses her hair back behind her right shoulder, sticks her chin up into the air and says, vehemently, “I’m not afraid. I just think it’s stupid to be playing with paper dolls. You’re not a child anymore Louise. Grow up.”

It was the ‘grow up’ that triggered me.

I remember that phrase. I heard it a lot when I was a little girl growing into adolescence and then my teens.

Grow up. Cry-baby. Act your age. Don’t be such a spoiled brat.

Words flung carelessly onto the delicate fabric of my psyche weaving its way into adulthood. Words that stung. Confused me. Hurt me.

I smiled through them, pretending like I didn’t care.

The sting of those words has lessened with time and therapy and doing ‘my work’.

Yet still, they drift back into view in moments when I least expect them, reminding me that within me are still hidden pockets of history. Places where, I tell myself, to dive in means risking letting go of what I have in the here and now.

And the voice of wisdom deep within whispers. “Memory cannot hurt you. It lives in the ‘there and then’ in your head. It isn’t real but its impact is felt in the here and now. Diving into it can set you free to live completely free and authentic and present in the here and now. Be brave Louise. Be brave.”

It is the gift of creative exploration. I never know what will be revealed. I only know it will fill in the gaps of the tapestry of my life with the wisdom garnered from letting what is seeking to be revealed appear. In its appearance, I am free to paint it with all the colours of the rainbow. Free to dance in the lightness of being released from its muddy stories dissolving into vivid colours woven through all the threads of my life today.

I don’t get to pick and choose the threads that appear. I do get to choose whether I heed the invitation to explore their mystery. In heeding the call to explore the stories they reveal, I empower myself to weave their story into my tapestry today with threads of beauty, compassion, love, joy.

I began to paint the faces on a paper doll chain.

Memory beckoned. Come dive deep into the mystery, it whispered.

I resisted.

I balked.

I hesitated.

Memory is a relentless companion. It keeps pushing and tugging. Prodding and probing.

Memory cannot hurt me. Not diving in can.

I dive.

And fear is washed away as the mystery of more of me unfurls in the exquisite beauty of the here and now.

It is a beautiful mystery this life we live. It is a beautiful mystery worth exploring to our deepest depths.

Care to go for a swim?

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.

What if play is important?

I played yesterday.

After my Monday zoom call with the artist with whom I am working on a collaboration, I felt uplifted, excited, energized. I decided it was time to play.

After finishing my piece for this week’s collaboration, I decided to set aside some time to play.

And I laugh. Part of the wonder of play is its spontaneity, and there I was, planning my play.

And then I laugh some more. How adult of me. Judging my play right from the get go.

The inspiration ‘to play’ came from a post on Orly Avineri‘s Instagram feed. Orly is an intuitive artist whose work inspires me to let go and be present. On her birthday last week, Orly wrote, “When we were preschoolers we would go outside and build things from found materials, and when inside, we’d scribble and doodle on walls or any piece of paper laying around.”

And she continued on to list things we did or didn’t do ‘on purpose’ or with an intention or reason or need to be heard or seen, free or discovered.

We just did what called to our heart.

It was her finale to her post that resonated most deeply, “…what happened to us along the way? How did we accumulate so many intentions, questions, explanations, reasons, and purposes to do what we intrinsically know how to do so well?

No wonder all of us freeze, perpetually. No wonder we, as adults, are always in “seek” mode, never fully satisfied.”

Ahhh…. and my soul expanded. Seek mode.

Always seeking. Doing. Becoming.

Always looking for an answer, a reason, a purpose, a sign.

Always searching for satisfaction, fulfillment, destination, destiny. A new ‘me’, new way, new idea, new beginning.

Always seeking.

What if living isn’t in seeking the answer to the question “Who am I?”

What if it’s in the living ‘the what’ of who we are with all our heart on fire with the energy of Love driving us into the arms of the deep passion within to express our sacred human nature in living colour? What if play is all we need to set our soul dancing to the music our whole body, every cell, every pulse of blood, every beat of our heart, movement of our hands and feet rejoices in?

What if play is the gateway to experiencing all of life?

So… I decided to try it out. Play.

I painted both sides of a long piece of paper I cut from the roll I use to cover my worktable. There was no ‘rhyme nor reason’ to the colours I used. The design. The placement of the paint on the Gellipad I used to monoprint the paper. There was just the desire to feel my way through to the joy that comes with being immersed in creativity, dancing with the muse, releasing my thinking mind to my body’s ‘knowing’.

And then, I folded the paper in half lengthwise, and then into a booklet with 8 folds. I drew a doll shape onto the front, cut it out and la voilá. I had a paper doll chain.

Full disclosure, earlier I had told my art-partner in our zoom call that my next project was to create a 3 part workshop on paper dolls. There is a purpose, process and practice to the workshop. I even know what category it will fit in on my blog, “The Seeker’s Journey”.

Yeah — I know. So much irony there.

But, (and yes, there’s also a ‘but’ butting in) my desire to create the workshop is to awaken the creative child within, the one who knows how to play without intention, be present without purpose and be without becoming. So… the purpose is important, she says, laughing at herself ’cause again… yup. So much irony.

And there’s also truth. While I was painting and folding and drawing and cutting I wasn’t thinking about the workshop I wanted to create. There was no room for thinking while I was immersed in creating. There was simply the joy of being present within my inner child’s joy of being free to play, just for the fun of it.

It isn’t always easy. This playing. This staying in the moment, being present to everything in and all around us. Sometimes, we need visual and physical aids to unharness our thinking minds and release ourselves to the deep inner knowing of our bodies.

I’m not done. I have an intention (of course I do) of painting the dolls. I might even make dresses for them as I loved to do as a child.

Because here’s the thing I noticed as I played. I felt the air around me touching my skin. I heard the silence between the notes of each song playing in the background. And I heard the laughter of the child within as she delighted in the joy of playing with me in the field of creativity flowing all around.

I’m not done yet. But then, it’s never about getting done or the destination. It’s always about the journey.

Namaste

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And I am working on a 3 part online course on Playing with The Child Within. Stay tuned…. It promises to be a lot of fun! I’d love to hear what you think… Ok. Feel. Sense. Intuit. Yeah… what your child knows.

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PPS – I was also inspired by a beautiful thank you card I received from a lovely woman, fellow artist, Mitzi B. It’s a stunning piece of work and forms the backdrop in the photo.