Love. Courage. Curiosity

Love. Courage. Curiosity
by Louise Gallagher

Trembling, she stood 
at the edge of darkness
her heart beating
an erratic tattoo
full of trepidation
that to enter
would be the end of light

“I am afraid,” she whispered
into the darkness
holding back from stepping forward
as she stood trapped in her fear
she would be consumed
by all she could not see
and all she did not know
about the darkness.

Be not afraid, whispered her heart,
I am always here, beating steady
holding you safe in the womb of love
that is eternally present in all of life.
I’m here too, said courage.
And so am I said, curiosity chimed in.
And the light grew brighter and said, 
I will never burn out
with Love as your constant companion.

Gratefully, she invited them to join her
as she moved forward from where she stood
at the edge of her fear
into the darkness.

Buoyed up by their presence
she flung her arms wide
and stepped boldly into the darkness
knowing her heart and courage and curiosity
would step fearlessly with her.

Bathed in the glow of their presence, 
her light grew brighter
and the darkness grew dimmer
and fear vanished in the light
of knowing, no matter where she was,
in darkness or in light,
she was always safe
when she walked faithfully in Love.

I took my own advice yesterday and spent time immersed in wonder and art playing for hours in my studio.

The painting above is what appeared.

I didn’t know where I was going, or what I wanted to do when I began. But I needn’t have worried. The muse always knows and when I am open to her whisperings, she flows with ease and grace, lightening even my darkest doubts.

About the process:

The background in this piece is very layered and complex.

Layers of sprayed on inks covered by stenciled on gesso and pastels, shapes, textures and patterns as well as collaged on images printed onto rice paper.

One of the challenges I set for myself in this piece was to create it without the use of a paintbrush.

So that’s what I did.

About the poem:

This morning, when I sat down to write the poem began to form as if floating in from the velvety darkness all around.

I love to sit at my desk in the morning, looking out at the river, my latte steaming by my right hand, the only light the halo of my desk lamp and the candle I burn in the mornings as I write.

Perhaps it was the combination of the image and the atmosphere around me, but, I wasn’t expecting a poem to write itself out.

I had other ideas.

I’m grateful courage and curiosity opened my heart and mind to being present to the mystery of creative expression.

Namaste.

Small Significances

Small significances can make big change happen.

What are small significances? I learned this term when I was coaching in the Choices program, working with trainees on developing their Purpose Statement for life.

A small significance is that small thing you do, like taking a neighbour dinner when you learn of a hardship they’re facing, because, to you, it’s what you do naturally. You’re thoughtful about the need. You don’t think about the doing, or not doing. You just do it.

Or, picking up garbage you see lying on the pathway as you walk. Yes. people shouldn’t leave garbage lying about, but that doesn’t mean you leave it for someone else to pick up. You do it because it’s what you do.

Small significances can also apply to our habits.

Like the one I’ve developed over the course of Covid’s presence of zoning out most evenings on some trivial, inconsequential Netflix or Prime drama. Watching endless hours of flickering images on my screen, headphones popped into my ears.

This habit… (ok. addiction) is not conducive to creating the grace and ease I want in my life. It affects everything. From my joy, sleep, physical fitness and mind alertness. It also keeps me out of my studio and, now that 22 hours of my week are consumed with work, I want to reclaim those endless run-on evenings of doing not much other than vegging out.

One small significance i can do to make big-time difference is to unplug my headset, turn-off my screen and commit to spending time in my studio.

And that’s why I’m choosing to be vulnerable here in talking about my unhealthy habit (addiction) – because going public is good for my soul, and my commitment to change.

After months and months of automatically turning on the screen every evening, logging into one of the three entertainment providers we have subscribed to, it has become rote. A thoughtless, mindless and enervating practice that serves me up a dopamine laden pleasure reward that fools me into believing I’m enjoying this… when seriously, I’m not thinking about enjoying it or not. I’m really just dialing in for my fix.

And here’s the thing. The more I do it the ‘want’ to do it transforms into ‘the need’.

And what I really need in my life is enriching, heart-engaging, soul-dancing, mind-expanding experiences.

Not hours of sitting watching a flickering screen.

To achieve my desired state, I’ve begun to take small, significant steps away from the screen.

The first wasn’t designed as a ‘breaking-free of my addiction’ plan but to my surprise, it has become a gateway to it.

I’ve started reading books on Kindle. And, while there’s probably no scientific data to back up my findings, for me, it has opened up the process of change. Why? Because I think my amygdala is saying… oh look! We’re watching a screen. All’s good. Let’s feed her some dopamine.

See. I think the brain doesn’t know the difference between flickering images and words passing before my eyes. It just knows there’s a blue light entering its dendrite connected neuron pathways, feeding it what its come to expect — hours in front of a screen.

Something I’ve observed in the process is that I struggle to remember what I’ve read — that didn’t used to happen and while I could just say it’s age related, the fact is, I think it has more to do with my brain becoming lazy after watching so much mindless chatter. In the getting glued to the screen, I’ve unconsciously (and perhaps somewhat consciously) turned off my memory neurons — there’s no sense in remembering what I just watched. It’s all trivial and if I want… I can always go back and watch again – and it will be like a brand new show all over again! 🙂

So, while shifting to reading on my Kindle app might feel like it’s just a baby step – it is a step and I am grabbing on and riding this stepping stone into an ocean of possibility.

And in the meantime, I shall continue to turn up here and hold myself accountable. You’re welcome to check-in anytime and ask me how I’m doing — I’d love to have you as my accountability buddy!

And in the meantime, I’m employing my new ‘neural pathway chant’ to help me stay on track, building stepping stone after stepping stone to my desired state. And that chant is…”I deserve to feel alive and free! Oh yes I do.”

Namaste.

.

The Wild Places of Your Heart

The Wild Places
by Louise Gallagher

Some may call it a wilderness
a vast
unexplored terrain
thick with brambles
and vines

interwoven

into a thick impenetrable net
of lost dreams and disappointments

of life’s hurts and wounds, scars and scares

holding you back
from breathing freely

in the light
of each new dawn

breaking free of night.



Some may call it a wilderness

I call it my heart
a wild and mystical place
where vast
unexplored terrain

rich with open spaces

yearning to be discovered
with dreams calling to be awoken

call me to cast off

life’s hurts and wounds and disappointments

to jettison the scary stories

I tell myself
of how I will never
do enough

deserve better

be worthy.


In this wild place
of my heart
beating
wild and free
untethered to the stories
I tell myself

about how I will never be

enough
I am enough
I am all I ever dreamed of
I have all I ever hoped for
I am 
all of me
worthy of living
with the wilds of my heart

breaking and breathing, breaking and breathing 
free.

The She Dares Boldly Manifesto

The She Dares Boldly Manifesto

Let me dare to hear the wild within calling me to dance.

Let me dare to invite the wildness of my heart to set my spirit free to leap and cavort as I throw my arms up above my head in a joyful salutation to the sun and the moon and the stars.

Let me dare to spin and twirl beneath a cloudless sky of blue infinity laughing and exalting in the sheer delight of being alive.

Let me dare to paint the world with childlike wonder, casting doubt and self-consciousness aside as I spread my arms wide to capture all the colours of the rainbow dancing in the magic, wonder and beauty of this day.

Let me dare to seek miracles, to believe in love and let go of holding onto unforgiveness and regrets.

Let me dare to drain every juicy ounce of goodness from the day so that as night settles in and I lay my head upon my pillow, my soul is soaked in a river of joyful celebration infusing my dreams with sighs of contentment for this day well lived beyond the realms of my imagination.

Let me dare to forget about the steps as I leap into this dance of life with wild abandon.

_____________________________________

I have often written about my awe of the muse’s ability to flow in and permeate my body causing my fingertips to ooze vowels and consonants that form words marching into sentences I never imagined could escape from my keyboard.

The manifesto above was just such an occurrence.

Unbidden, but most welcome, the muse arrived as I sat down at my desk in the quiet darkness of morning light not yet broken and began to write.

I knew I wanted to write about the latest She Dares art journal page I’d created — I just didn’t know what.

I needn’t have worried. The muse knew. All I had to do was get out of my head to let her flow freely through my body onto the page (in this case the computer screen but you know what I mean) and become a manifesto I didn’t know I needed/wanted/had to write out.

My wish, the one I dare to dream, is that this manifesto speaks to your heart. I dare to dream you too will rise up and twirl about in childlike wonder of all the magic, beauty and awe in your world.

I dare to hope you dance.

The Path

Every morning I follow the path to the park, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle in the lead, eager to reach the area where he can run off leash.

For the past two weeks I have been taking a different path. We walk up the hill to the escarpment and walk along the ridge overlooking the Bow River winding its way through the valley bottom below.

The fall colours have been breath-taking.

Golds and rust and bright yellows compete with the still green leaves clinging to the last vestiges of summer.

Every morning I follow the path knowing eventually, it will lead me home again.

There is comfort in that knowing. Comfort in its familiarity and predictability.

This morning, Beaumont and I chose to walk the path along the river, forgoing the steep uphill climb to the escarpment.

Winding our way through the woods, listening to the dry, fallen leaves crunch beneath our feet and the water lazily babble its way to the east, the muse drifted in and settled in for a visit like a good friend coming for tea.

Words and images, thoughts and ideas scampered through my mind like dry leaves being lifted and scattered by an autumn breeze.

Sometimes I followed their drift. Sometimes I simply nodded in recognition of their presence and let them drift out of my mind’s eye.

Always, I knew they were leading me home. To my heart. My hearth.

I walked the path I haven’t taken in awhile this morning.

I walked with the knowing, the path lead me where it always does. Into beauty, wonder and awe.

Namaste

Ready for the Fall

I took the photo above on my walk this morning with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle.

An autumn breeze teases the leaves with its whispering incantations to “Let go! Let go”

And Mother Earth whispers, “I am here. I shall always catch you.”

and the leaves cling until tired, they can hold on no longer.

Leaves crackled beneath my feet. The river flowed in lazy consort with gravity’s pulling it along towards a distant unseen sea.

And Beaumont scampered through the fall-dry grasses and my heart felt light and easy.

I hope you are having a wonderful day in where ever you are on Mother Earth.

_____________________________________

and… Beaumont has a lot to say today about my She Dares Boldly calendar (he thinks I should do one called Beaumont Dares Boldly! — Do come join him and please…. help me talk some sense into him! 🙂 What About Me?

Beyond All We Know.

The leaves whisper amidst the trees branches reaching out towards the sun. “Lean further! Lean further! You’ve got to lean further to reach the sun!”

And the branches push out and away from their trunks, their arms reaching further and further into the space beyond where they must compete with their brethren to gather sunlight.

And the trunks pull back, rooting themselves deeper and deeper into the ground they know so well. Desperately they fight against gravity, trying to keep their branches from reaching too far. “Too far is dangerous,” they tell the branches. “Lean too far and you will break.”

It is the dance of nature. A never-ending ballet of leaves yearning for light and branches pulling against their roots as they reach for the sun.

It is the dance of life.

Our dreams call us to lean out, further, away from our comfort zones, out beyond the realm of where we tell ourselves we will be safe, into the space beyond all we know, all we believe to be true.

Rooted in our fears, we ground ourselves in the belief to risk change is to lose control of all we know, all we believe to be true.

We cannot change when we stand in the same spot, rooted in our fears.

To change, we must uproot our fears and let courage draw us out of our comfort zones into the vast universe of possibility beyond all we know, all we believe to be true.

_____________________________________________

Every morning, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I pass through the copse of trees in the picture above.

I haven’t noticed before how far they lean out. I have focused instead on the taller trees surrounding them.

This morning, I noticed their stance and the muse bid me to awaken.

.Namaste

I Will Always Catch You

When she was just a little girl, her father taught her to climb stairs and boulders and playground monkey bars and ladders.

She would stand at the top, hold out her arms and cry out with delight, “Catch me Daddy! Catch me!”

And her father would stand below, arms stretched out towards her and say, “I will always catch you.”

As time passed and she grew older, the climbs became more difficult, but she was never afraid of falling. She always knew her father would be standing below, arms outstretched towards her saying, as he always did, “I will always catch you.”

Time passed, life flowed onwards and with its constant movement, she too moved away to start her own life far from her father. They still talked on the phone and always on her birthday, she would come to visit to walk to the park where she had learned to climb and fly, safe in the knowledge her father would always catch her.

Seasons changed, years passed and as she grew older so too did her father. Slowly, with the passing of time, he was no longer able to always be there to catch her when she fell, but she always knew that if she did, he would help her get back up. It was his promise.

“I can’t always catch you when you fall,” he told her when first she moved away from home. “But I promise, I will always be there to help you get back up.”

One day, after his daughter called to say she could not make it home to celebrate her birthday with him as she had to travel to a city far away, he walked to the park where every birthday when she was a little girl, she’d climbed the slide and stood at the top and stretched out her arms towards him and called out, “Catch me daddy! Catch me!”,

On this day many years later, he sat on a bench in the shade of a mighty oak tree and watched a little girl with flaxen hair and sparkling blue eyes climb up the stairs to the top of the slide. A short distance away, too far to catch her if she fell, her father stood unaware, his head turned down, reading something on the phone he held in his hands.

The old man, who had once reached out his arms towards his daughter and said, “I will always catch you,” watched in dismay as the little girl stood at the top of the slide and called out to her father, “Catch me daddy! Catch me!”. Her father didn’t hear her.

The old man stood up from the bench and slowly began to shuffle, as fast as his arthritic legs would let him, towards the child who still stood at the top of the slide, arms outstretched calling to her father, “Catch me daddy! Catch me!”

“Hey!” the old man called out to the father standing with his head bent towards his phone. “Hey! Watch out! She’s going to fall!”

The father, hearing the old man’s voice, looked up and saw the old man, his arms waving wildly around his face pointing towards his daughter where she stood at the top of the slide, calling to him, “Catch me Daddy! Catch me!”

In one seamless move, he tucked his phone into his jacket pocket, took three strides towards the slide and reached his arms out towards his daughter. “I will always catch you,” he said as the tiny bundle of her body catapulted itself down the slide into his waiting arms.

The old man stopped and watched the two pair of arms unite. The child laughed in delight as her father picked her up, held her above his head and spun her about just as he had once spun his daughter so long ago.

The father carefully put his daughter on the ground the thee two moved off towards the swings, the little girl holding his hand and she said in her sing-song voice, “I want to swing as high as the sky!” And the father placed her on the stretch of rubber seating and began to push her. The child laughed and called out. “Higher! Higher! I want to touch the sky” And the father pushed her higher and higher until she let go of the swings chains and called out, “Catch me Daddy! Catch me!”

And he did.

Slowly, the old man turned away and began walking back towards his home. His heart felt heavy with the longing for a child’s arms outstretched towards him and his reaching back.

Lost in memory he didn’t notice he’d reached the main road and stepped off the sidewalk without stopping to check for traffic.

Suddenly, a pair of hands reached out and grabbed his shoulders, pulling him back to safety just as a city bus went whizzing by.

Startled, he lost his footing and almost fell to the ground, but the same hands gently caught him and broke his fall. He took a shaky breath, turned his face up to thank his would be savior where they knelt beside him as he sat on the ground.

“Are you okay?” a voice he recognized asked. He turned his face and his eyes opened wide as he peered into the deep blue eyes of his daughter kneeling beside him.

“How is this possible?” he asked breathlessly. “You said you were going to a city far away.”

And his daughter smiled and said, “I wanted to surprise you.”

The old man reached out with a shaky hand to take hers and said, “I’m so glad you were here to catch me.”

And his daughter smiled again and said, “You need to pay more attention dad to where you’re going. That bus almost hit you. I can’t always be here to catch you.”

And her father nodded his head, his white hair moving around his face like feathers floating in the air.

Slowly he began to stand and asked, “Will you help me get back up?”

And she reached one hand under his elbow and said, “Of course.” And as she helped him get to his feet she said, “I can’t always be here to catch you when you fall, but I will always help you get back up.”

______________________________________

Yesterday, a dear friend, Max, called. We haven’t spoken in a long time, but it was as if time had not passed.

In our conversation, he shared many stories of the people who have helped him on his journey. “I have an idea,” he said. “What do you think about writing a poem called, “I Will Always Catch You.”

Several years ago, Max wrote music to a poem I’d written and recorded called, “Dare“. (You can read about it and listen to the recording, HERE)

I loved the idea of writing a poem to his title — it fits so well to something I used to tell my daughters when, as young adults, they set off to make their way in the world. “I can’t always be there to stop your fall,” I told them. “Sometimes, it’s best I don’t. But know, that no matter where or how hard you fall, I will always be there to help you get back up.”

This morning, as Beau and I walked in the cool September air of an autumnal day, Max’s idea kept percolating through my mind. When I came home, I sat down at my desk and the story above appeared.

Thank you Max. It’s not ‘a poem’… YET – like the river, life takes its own course weaving its stories in mysterious and mystical ways.

I Wrote A Letter To My Lover

Two things happened this morning. Both took me in unexpected directions.

Gratitude and curiosity fueled each experience and brought them together on a river of creative expression flowing free.

David Kanigan’s Monday Morning WakeUp Call today lead me to the website, The Vale of Soul-Making. Exquisite. Provocative. I got lost in its words.

The morning post I receive every day from Daily Om connected me to thoughts I’d had yesterday about personality. How it’s so easy to get trapped in believing ‘we are the way we are and there’s nothing that can be done about that.’

At the time of that thought drifting into my mind, I was walking along the rocky beach between the river and the forest, my mind skipping from thought to thought, like a stone skimming and dipping, skimming and dipping along the water’s surface.

At one point a thought skipped into view that surprised me. “You know, Louise,” the thought whispered. “One of the gifts of that relationship with the man of ill-intent was that because your personality was so completely submerged in his abusive ways, when he was arrested and you got your life back, you had to rebuild yourself up from the soles of your feet to the soul of your being who you’re truly meant to be.”

It was a fascinating thought. But, because I was wandering along the river, savouring the sunshine on my face, throwing the ball and watching Beau race after it interspersed with his stopping every so often to follow a scent that caught his olfactory glands in unexpected ways, I let the thought drift away.

This morning, I read one of the many quotes offered by Nick Flynn at The Vale of Soul-Making and that thought skipped back into view.

And then, I read “Finding Another Perspective” at Daily Om and my heart did one of those skippity-dippity hops it likes to do when it finds the subterranean flow of its beat rising to the surface in joyful exhalation and my lungs gave a giddy sigh of satisfaction and my lips smiled wide and my eyes popped open and I exclaimed to no one and to the world, “Oh Yes!”

And then…. as so often happens when I follow the winding way of my thoughts flowing through, a poem appeared as if floating on a lifeboat of possibility.

And here it is. I do so love the unexpectedness and joyfulness of the muse’s way of drawing me into creative expression.

A Letter To My Lover
by Louise Gallagher

I wrote a letter to my lover
long gone from this sphere
of my life orbiting 
around the one I have become
rising up 
from the ashes of a love
that was never truer
than the lies
he told to enslave me
in the poisonous venom
of his unrequited self-hatred.

I wrote a letter to my lover
Thank you, I said,
you saved me from my belief
who I was, was all I could ever be
locked up in a painful construct
of believing I was never good enough
to be free.

I wrote a letter to my lover.
I am free.

The Cabinet Liberators

It’s not ‘beautiful’ but it is useful!

For 3+ years, our old kitchen cabinets sat in the basement, gathering dust, taking up space.

Last week, I finally got around to removing all the stuff I’d piled inside them and moving them out into the middle of the floor so I could take photos and C.C. could put them on a social media market site.

Fifteen solid walnut kitchen cabinets. For Free.

The only caveat was, they had to take ALL of them.

And they needed to be able to carry them up from the basement and out the front door.

The first couple who arrived drove up in a big SUV trailing a small trailer. I was curious how a man and woman in their 60s, him with bad knees, her with a bad back (they told me) were going to navigate the physical labour part of the deal.

In the end, they chose not to.

The second cabinet liberators were two very fit, younger men undaunted by the prospect of carrying the cabinets up the stairs and out the door.

They filled their trailer with the first 6 cabinets and said, “We’ll have to come back for the rest.”

And they did.

Except, as they finished carrying up the 10th cabinet one of the men told me they needed to go pick up lumber and would be back. Tomorrow.

I needed to believe him so I smiled and said, “Great! See you in the morning.”

They never returned.

At first, I was ticked. I mean seriously? The deal was ALL the cabinets, not just 10 of them.

C.C. put the five remaining back up on the market site, but they were a disparate lot. There were no takers.

Finally, seeking to find value in all things, (and having no desire to rent a truck and haul them to the landfill to create more waste) I decided to make use of the remaining five.

And that’s when the true gift of The Cabinet Liberators deception became my reality.

After three days of sorting, moving, clearing out and shovelling out things that have been cluttering up the basement, I have a fabulous (albeit not beautiful) new work space where I can keep things like my big paper cutter, my Cricut, Big Shot and other paraphernalia I use occasionally. (but would probably use more often if they were more easily accessible). I also have wall space to hang some old paintings!

And here’s the thing, the man who said he was coming back for the rest of the cabinets and didn’t… I have a feeling he is carrying the guilt of lying. I could see it in his face when he told me they would be back the next day. His eyes looked down. He was flushed and gave me a nervous smile.

So… just in case he is feeling guilty, I forgive him and his partner ‘in crime’.

Ultimately, they did me a favour. Had they taken all 15, I’d be trying to figure out what to do with all the paraphernalia that needed a home.

Yes. It would have been nicer if he’d just told me the truth. But his deception only created a momentary pang of annoyance before I got to work making it work for me.

So… I set my pangs of annoyance free and embrace the feeling of gratitude and relief that comes with finding a solution that is a win/win for everyone involved.

And I say, Thank you Cabinet Liberators. May the cabinets you took be of great value to you. May they fill your home or whatever space you’re using them for, with a sense of joy in their usefulness. And, may you know peace.

And if he’s not carrying the guilt I suspect, that’s okay too. A little gratitude and forgiveness goes a long way to easing any burden I might be carrying!

Namaste.