My North Star

No 1 #ShePersisted Series – They said she had attitude. They said she couldn’t change the world. She Persisted.

When I started the #ShePersisted Series it was my quiet rebellion, my line in the sand, my statement of Enough. The time has come.

It was inspired by reading about how Senator Elizabeth Warren was treated in the Senate and deciding I had to do something.

My something came through creative expression.

No 8. #ShePersisted Series – They said, don’t make waves. She rocked the boat. (August in 2021 calendar)

I began with thinking I’d create a painting that stated in visual-storytelling my position.

One painting. That was all I intended to create.

And then, the muse kept visiting and whispering ideas into my head and I kept creating.

It tapered off over the past year, the compelling need to create more within the series. Not because the world had suddenly decided to rid itself of prejudice and inequality and discrimination and a host of other societal woes that keep people in the places that hurt them, that limit their possibilities and stifle their capacity to speak up and be heard.

That hasn’t happened yet.

For whatever reason it tapered off… it’s back.

No 18. #ShePersisted Series – They said just accept it. You can’t change it. She didn’t accept it and chose instead to transform her world. (March 2021 Calendar)

The purpose to my creative expression.

I have always believed that life is creative by nature. The evolutionary path of our world has been driven by the creative impulse to create better.

In my life, visual and written story-telling has been at the bedrock of my self-expression. It is my pathway to fulfill on my desire to create better. It is my confidence-builder, idea generator and my ballast.

It is my North Star.

There was a time, especially in my 20s, when I tried to ignore my creative-drive. I’d bury it beneath trying to fit in, to be part of the norm, to appear like I was ‘playing the game’ in a way that made me more acceptable to the world around me.

No. 46 #ShePersisted Series – They said, you can’t do that. She said, of course I can. And she did. (December 2021 Calendar)

It wasn’t until my 40s when I accidentally picked up a paintbrush and started to paint with my eldest daughter, who at the time was about 15, that I discovered the lie I’d always told myself (I have no artistic ability. I’m a writer not an artist) just wasn’t true.

I am an artist by nature and design. I am happiest when I am telling stories that inspire, not just verbally but in visual mediums too. And, no matter the medium, I want to tell stories that stir the pot. Stories that awaken us and connect us through our shared humanity to all that is magnificent and beautiful about our world.

And here’s what I realize after spending the past few days with the #ShePersisted Series…

No. 43. #ShePersisted Series – They said, don’t you worry your pretty little head about the state of the world. We’ll take care of it. She made up her mind to make a difference in the world. And she did.

It doesn’t matter if we are going through tough economic times, times of social or political change or the times of Covid or any other remarkable times. What matters is what each of us does, every moment of every day, to create better in the world.

And that’s where the #ShePersisted Series brings me to. That place where I am on fire with purpose and intention to stand up and speak up about what matters to me most.

And from where I sit today, surrounded by love and comfort, I must also acknowledge that the world outside my walls is not full of love and comfort for everyone.

And for my grandchildren to have a better world to grow into, I must not stay silent. I must keep standing up.

My grandchildren deserve the kind of world where everyone has the privilege of being seen and known and treated as magnificent human beings.

It is their birthright.

It is all our birthright.

Namaste

Life’s Ineffable Mysteries

Unlike past visits from the other side where my mother sat on the closed lid of the toilet smoking a cigarillo in a long ebony holder and drinking a martini, this visit was more in keeping with my idea of spirits from the other side.

Ethereal. Mystical. Luminous.

Like other visits however, she arrived while I was in the bath.

I of course responded like I always do. I piled the bubbles up in a vain attempt to ensure she could not see me naked.

“Louise my darling girl,” she said. Her voice was softer, warmer than I remembered it. Her gentle laugh made me think of raindrops dancing on still water. “Spirit doesn’t seek to see the human form. Spirit seeks only to experience the soul.”

“Better safe than sorry,” I replied. Though I don’t think I actually said it outloud, she heard me.

“You have nothing to be sorry about, Louise,” she whispered. “You are safe in Love’s embrace.”

Harrumph. Who knew spirit was so literal?

She laughed that raindrop dancing laugh again and said, “There’s so much about life and spirit you do not know, Louise. Stop trying to find the answers.”

Again with the reading my mind.

“Life is full of mystery,” she whispered. “Your journey is not measured by how many answers you find before you go. It’s about allowing the mystery to be present, where ever you are, in the ineffable beauty of this moment.”

Seriously? I got so many questions I keep trying to answer and now she tells me to stop looking for answers and just be present?

Harrumph again.

And yet…

What if…

I just breathe?…

I close my eyes. Inhale. Exhale. Deeply.

I imagine my thoughts are like autumn leaves drifting down, down, down to the forest floor where they come to rest in the crucible of the womb of Mother Nature. I feel my body melt into the warm bathwater. My heartbeat slow. My breathing deepen.

I open my eyes.

She is gone.

Vanished.

And still, I know. Deep within my soul. I am not alone.

Leaning Into Hope

I am not good with surprises. I like to know. Before things happen. This trait is so deeply ingrained that I generally read the ending of books first. Even non-fiction.

Some of it’s possibly because I can be somewhat competitive. Ok. Highly.

I like to think I can figure out the ending of movies and books before they happen. Hence why I read the ending of books first. Somehow, my brain thinks that if I know the outcome I can go back to the beginning and focus on the story without having to spend time trying to figure out where it’s all going before I get there.

I didn’t say it was a rational thinking pattern. It’s just the one I’ve adapted to for most of my life.

Yeah. I know. But… My thinking pattern does have its benefits.

Seriously. It does.

I am an observer by nature. I love to watch both the world around me and how people move through it. And, I love to watch myself as I journey through any given set of circumstances or events to bear witness to ‘my process’. My state of mind. My attitude. My blindspots. My weaknesses and strengths.

And here’s what I’ve noticed about my mental state in the past while.

I’m on edge.

I’m not focused.

I have a tendency to start one thing and then another and then another only to discover I have 3 or 4 things ‘in process’ and nothing finished.

I also immerse myself in mundane tasks (and complete them), which is great except, there’s no pattern to how or what I’m tackling.

For example. On Monday I cleaned out all my flowerpots. I’d started the process a couple of weeks ago when the forecast was for snow the next day. After cleaning out the six pots that line the front walkway, my hands were frozen as was the earth surrounding the roots of the plants so eventually I stopped. As an aside, it took about half an hour for my hands to warm up once I stopped digging in the ice cold dirt.

Did I mention I’m also stubborn? Yeah well. It’s possibly true.

Anyway.

As Monday was unseasonably warm, I decided it was as good a time as any to finish the unpotting job. ‘The job’ included wheeling the giant green compost bin down the hill at the side of our house to the bottom deck to give me easier access. After emptying all the pots on the lower deck, I positioned the bin on the grass so I could then go out on the main deck above it and throw all the dead plants off the deck into the bin.

Worked like a charm.

Except… I then had to wheel a now completely full bin up the hill and back into the garage until pick-up next week.

Which wouldn’t have been too bad except for the fact I’d just spent two days flat on my back with Sciatica.

Yeah. Well. I did say I was stubborn….

I spent most of the rest of that day flat on my back again.

But the pots are all winter ready!

See what I mean though? I’m doing things without being fully present.

Granted, I could have asked C.C. for help but… remember that competitive streak thing? Mix it with a dollop of stubborn and I am convinced I can do it myself. Thank you very much.

Which brings me back to my state of mind.

Yesterday, after cleaning the oven (it really needed it and my sister was cleaning hers so…) Anyway. Clean oven makes for a clean mind. Or something…

I went into the studio and began to work.

See what I mean? This piece is not particularly pleasing nor a good reflection of my artistic nature. But I want to keep it real so sharing my failures is important. this piece reflects the disquiet and lack of focus that consumed me when I sat down at my studio table.

The first piece left me feeling very dissatisfied.

I could feel my nerve endings, zapping one another, seeking contact.

I could feel my thoughts skittering about my mind like a fly trapped in a bottle. Ever notice how they seem to fly in squares. Weird. Right?

Never mind.

Back to my story.

So. Knowing I was unsettled and unfocused, I decided to work small.

I decided to create a mini art journal and call it, “Hope is…”

I can’t tell you why this idea popped into my mind other than to say that the muse is my ally. In times of distress, she tends to gather my thoughts and target them on an idea she knows will help me focus.

Working small helps me focus. Working on something inspirational, does too. It soothes my troubled mind and eases the strain in my heart and reminds me that trying to know the future is like trying to control how fast the river flows outside my window.

Now is the only moment I have to be present.

Now is the place and time to invest my best.

Now is where I find myself at peace. In harmony. Full of gratitude, leaning deeply into… HOPE.

What about you?

What do you do to bring peace of mind into your state of being?

How do you settle yourself in the present?

___________________________

Bonus! The muse also offered up four more quotes for my Hope Is… journal. That’s what I’m going to focus on today.

Thank you universe for your beauty. Your gifts. Your everything!

And as to the world out there. I am of much better service to the ALL when I am All Present in the Now.

Namaste.

Learning To See… and Feel… and Be

“Openings” Mixed media on watercolour cardstock. 5×7″

On his blog, I Can’t Sleep David Kanigan shares two photos he took of sunrise this morning where he lives on the east coast near New York City and a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke. (click here to see David’s beautiful photos)

Both his photos and the quote ease my restless mind, awakening me to the sea of calm and peace within me.

The Rilke quote is:

I am learning to see.

I don’t know why it is,

but everything enters me more deeply and doesn’t stop where it once used to.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

I commented and wrote,

“And the challenge becomes… as I learn to see and listen and feel deeply, all my senses awakened, it is not just ‘the good’ that enters. It is all of it.

Your images this morning enter and touch those raw parts that are on alert, waiting. waiting. waiting for news that is still too soon to tell.

Thank you for the peaceful respite and the reminder to see the beauty and let it wash away the anxiety. To feel the Love and let it embrace the fear.”

I remember when my daughters were born, how I’d sit and stare into their beautiful faces for hours and hours on end. I felt immersed in beauty, Love, joy, gratitude.

I remember thinking and feeling like I’d never in my entire life witnessed anything so miraculous and beautiful as their tiny beings.

They were so perfect. So innocent. So wondrous. They were, and still are, a true reflection of Love.

This morning, as I type, tears form in my eyes and gently find their way down my cheeks.

The sky above is pale blue. To the west, a single cloud stretches out across the near horizon drifting effortlessly towards the south. Its body is white above melting into dusty white and grey below.

To the north, a bank of grey on grey cloud covers the sky in mystery.

The weather is turning.

It always does.

Just like the season.

Yesterday, the day that has consumed so much of my thought and time for the past while came and went.

The results are too close to call, the newscasters say.

And, like the clouds floating across the sky, I let the news pass and fall deeper into Love.

And the world keeps turning.

And beauty and the beasts keep dancing.

And tolerance and disrespect keep meeting on the playing fields of lives lived in far away places and right here in the city where I live.

And joy and sorrow keep embracing in the hearts and souls of those who have lost a loved one, a dream, a game or perhaps their way on the road of life.

And through it all, Love keeps flowing, keeps filling the spaces between all of it.

Yes. I am learning to see.

And feel.

And honour.

And accept.

And embrace it all.

It is all here. All present.

I feel it all and let it flow. In the flow, Love prevails and holds me in its sheltering embrace.

In the flow, I am safe.

Namaste

____________________________

About the artwork:

I spent an afternoon creating backgrounds on 5 x 7″ watercolour cardstock.

I’m now playing with them and creating greeting cards.

The joy has been, particularly in the instances where I don’t particularly like the background (like the large image at the top which was really ugly!) finding the beauty calling itself into being seen.

The Frugal Fall Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s what I’m doing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste

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.”

__________________________________________

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,

________________________________

“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

______________________________________

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