Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


How to be an artist (even when you’re afraid)

I have a constant driving urge within me to create. I know. No surprise if you’ve been following my blog or my FB page.  But sometimes, even though I consider myself a ‘creative’, I am surprised by what the muse has in store when I set out to express my creative urge.

Yesterday, after cleaning up the main floor of our house from the art workshop I’d held on Saturday (I’ll write more about it on another day. It was AMAZING!), I took a photo of ‘Felicity’, my clay guinea fowl by French artist, Heidi Caillard. Because I’d filled the island with art-making paraphenalia, she’d had to go reside on the side counter instead of her usual perch at the end of the island where she sits like a queen surveying her realm. She makes me smile.

I looked at the photo and thought, “Hmmm… That would be fun to write about.”

I didn’t get to it this morning as in the process of lugging everything up and down from my studio to the main floor and back again, I’d managed to put my back out. My morning was spent in bed until I got to the chiropractor at 2pm.

And still, that photo called to me.

So, I began to write words on it. The first words that came to mind were, “How to be an artist in a world of un-artfulness.’

I wrote out a few steps and realized the photo didn’t match my message. I went in search of a more suitable photo of my artwork.

Several hours later, I had the photo and the words, which were very different than the original version, all because I liked a photo I took of my guinea fowl on the island after I’d cleared it of all the art-making stuff we’d used in the workshop on Saturday.

That’s the creative process.

Unruly. Untamable. Unrestricted.

And that’s the way I like it.

Art-making isn’t about making something perfect, or even making something that makes sense. It’s about expressing whatever is calling to be expressed without fearing the expression will be more than, less than, other than what it is.


Felicity – The photo that started it all.


Is your heart singing?

Do you remember that diddly from childhood?  “Today is Monday /Today is Monday / Monday washday/ Everybody happy?/ Well I should say…”

I went in search of the words this morning (I have no idea why) and discovered they are very, very different than I remember.

That’s the trick of memory. What I remember is not always what actually happened, or was said, or seen. Yet often, I find myself defending my memory, especially in the face of someone else’s insistence I’ve got it wrong. They’re right.

I don’t like being wrong, and while I’d rather not make them wrong  either (I’m pretty sure they they possess a seimilar aversion to being wrong as I do), I also don’t want to not be right!

Definitely a conundrum.

Defend my memory to preserve my need to not be wrong, or, release my position, move into the present moment to be connected in a joyful, peaceful way.

My beloved and I sometimes find ourselves in this pickle.  He says. I say. You’re wrong. I’m right.

As my Auntie Marie-Therese used to say, “What to do? What to do?”

When I find myself defending my position more than seeking common ground, I know I have to give up space to the possibility of both of us remembering the same incident/conversation differently.

But I don’t want to. Not really.

I want to be right. Really.

And that’s when I have to ask myself, Would I rather be right than happy?

Being right might give me the dubious distinction of winning the argument. It does not give me the joy of deeper connection and intimacy with my beloved.

Now, don’t worry. This isn’t about a particular argument C.C. and I have had. I’d be writing this much differently if we had because instinctively, I’d be attempting to tell my side of the story in such a way that you would all see very clearly that I am ‘the right one’ and he is unequivocalbly WRONG. And of course, in my telling I would be the virtuous one and he’d be… well… still WRONG.

It’s not about a particular argument. It’s about my awareness of my desire in life’s sticky moments, to defend my position rather than seek understanding, connection, common ground — not just in intimate relationships but in other ones too.

And all of this awareness came from looking up the words of a nursery rhyme. I have no idea what prompted the search, but there I was, humming along to “Today is Monday” and finding myself on this Tuesday morning reading words to a song I know I sang differently.

Which led me further down the rabbit hole to where I found a version that actually does resemble the words I remember!  Whew!  I wasn’t completely wrong. Just hadn’t dug into the truth enough to find what I needed to feel comfortable in this moment.

And there’s the rub. It isn’t about being wrong nor right. It’s all about being comfortable with your truth and allowing others to be comfortable with theirs. Both versions of that nursery rhyme exist. Neither is right. Nor wrong. They just are.

In an argument or sticky moment, there is truth in all things. And not all things are true.

Creating space for the truth in all things to be known, creates room for everyone to feel heard, and seen. And when we feel heard and seen, we feel valued.

I value my memories, they’ve hung around for awhile. I value the people in my life more, I want them in my life forever.  I don’t really care which nursery rhyme is the one I sang, nor which one is right for today.

I care that in my quest to find the version I remember, I discovered an opportunity to deepen my journey into what is true for me in this moment right now. To paraphrase Mary Oliver, “This is my one precious life.” What shall I do with it?

I shall live it savouring each moment right now, diving into what rings true in my heart so that the world around me becomes a more tender, loving, caring place.

It isn’t what I remember that gives meaning to my life. It’s what I do, hear, say, how I respond to memory and experience in the here and now that creates a world of difference today.  When my relationships are rich and deep, when they are founded on mutual respect, trust and integrity, it doesn’t matter what words someone uses to a song. It matters only that our hearts are singing, together.


Caution: Possibility of ice. Do you have any brain de-icer?

Spring-like weather is descending upon our city and with it, the melting of snow during the day and sheets of ice forming during the night as temperatures dip just below freezing with the sun’s setting.

Earlier this week, a patch of snow on the roof caused a sheet of ice to form at the corner of our walkway as you approach the front door. The first time I tried to traverse it, I almost slipped. We promptly threw some de-icer and it disappeared. It took a few more de-icings before the mound of snow on the corner of the roof melted and de-icing was no longer necessary.

Like life. There are patches of tricky spots, unhealed spaces, unknown hurts that lurk waiting to slip us up as we navigate life’s roads. De-icing is necessary.

This past week I have immersed myself in navigating new waters as the organization I work for prepared to name its new Executive Director. It is bittersweet for me. I love the work I do. Love working with the families we serve and the team. I love the feeling that comes with making a difference.

As in all things, however, doors open and close, opportunity knocks and new horizons beckon.

I have always been clear with our Board of Directors that I am not prepared to commit to more than a couple of years in this role. They needed more and thus, yesterday, a new ED was announced.

At the beginning of the week when I was informed of the decision, my ego, in concert with the nasty critter who likes to remind me of my human frailties, tripped me up. “See. I told you so. Nobody wants you,” it whispered fiercely. “You don’t belong.”

Now, those are old core messages that emanate from my lizard brain in moments when I feel unsafe, fearful or at risk. I know them. I see them and hear them, but, if I don’t step into the light, lift myself up to my executive brain functioning, they can cause me to slip back into the icy waters of self-deprecation.

If you’ve followed my writing this week, you will have witnessed my journey from uncertainty to clarity.

Life is filled with opportunities to explore hidden areas of our pysches where icy patches exist that need the warming grace of light and Love. It is those patches that growth and surrender co-exist to bring us back to our magnificent selves waiting to shine. It is in those places that possibilities arise and hope lives unending.

My tenure at the family homeless shelter where I work is coming to an end. There is no firm date yet as I work with the new ED on a transition plan. What I know though is that the transition will be grace-filled because doing it with grace is how I prefer to exit every stage of my life. And I do love a good swan song!

I am excited. I have dreams and schemes and ideas to create an exciting new path for myself. A path full of potent possibility, passion and purpose, A path where anything is possible because when I de-ice the tricky spaces in my lizard brain, I am free to shine and soar and step with grace into every possibility that opens up on my path.



Powerful Changes: Becoming my creative expression

Alcohol Ink on Yupo Paper
Louise Gallagher
5 x 7″

The card is named, “Powerful Changes”.

I feel my body’s visceral response to the words. ‘Change? What change?’ my critter mind wails. “Enough already with the changes! Haven’t I done enough? ”

I want to know the changes, as if in the knowing, I can vet them, or at least measure them against my barometer of what is acceptable change. And what is not.

“When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
As we open our creative channel to the Creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.”

I am like the river flowing to the sea, my course defined by two parallel shores guiding me, channeling me.

My creative essence is not be channeled.

When I open my creative channel to the Creator, I drift quietly away from the need to be safely channeled by the shores of my being who I think I am in this world and the life I lead. Open to my creative channel, I release my expectations that my course is predictable, known, somehow able to be directed and determined by me.

In the absence of needing to direct or be held in by the bounds of what I deem the shores and boundaries of my life, I am free to explore where ever my creativity leads me.

I am free to be my creative essence. Open to powerful changes whether they enter gently or roar in like an arctic wind.

I want to control change. To harness it to my directions.

I cannot harness the wind. I cannot change the weather.

I surrender my need to control and give into my creative essence and its deep desire to be known simply as it is.

In that knowing, I am not bound by the shores of who I am. In that powerful change of how I see myself and my creativity, I am free to become all I am when I let go of being my creative expression and become the expression of my creative essence running wild and free.



Free-fall writing from today’s The Artist’s Way Card by Julia Cameron —  Powerful Changes

Without thinking about it, as I wrote, my word for 2019 became clearer. “Surrender”  That is a powerful change from my thinking that I needed to consciously focus on my word for the year.


The Joy of Love


I am off to spend 5 days with my grandson, daughter and son-in-love celebrating his first birthday!

Enough said.

See you next week!