Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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I’m so excited! Art Show…

It’s funny/weird/nice/exciting, to see my name in a list of artists.

It’s not something I thought I’d ever experience.

I didn’t start painting until my mid-40s.  Up until then, I’d always said, I’m a writer, not an artist. I can’t draw. Have no talent that way.

Oh look at the things we can prove ourselves wrong about ourselves when we step outside of our limiting beliefs and just…. play.

That’s how painting began for me. I wanted to spend time with my eldest daughter who is an amazing artist, and painting with her seemed like a good idea.

It was brilliant!

I discovered something I am passionate about, and got to share with her in one of her passions as she also guided me in the ‘hows’ of painting. A win/win!

Today and tomorrow I am in an art show. I’ve been in this show before but had to withdraw for the past two years as life got busy and I searched for balance.

And now…. I’m back!

If your in and around Calgary over the next two days, I’d love it if you dropped by to say hello!

If not, I’ll see you here next week.

Have a beautiful weekend everyone.

Oh. And in case you’re wondering, there is still that little voice inside me that wants to leap into the excitement and hiss…. “you’re not really an artist.”

I tell him it’s okay. Calling myself an artist isn’t about putting my ego at risk. It’s not about comparing myself to others or even who likes or doesn’t like my work.  It’s about what makes my heart happy.


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Love Fiercely

I want to say I got up early after a restful night’s sleep.

I want to but it wouldn’t be true. My sleep was restless. Eventually, I moved to the living room and slept on the couch. Beaumont was happy. He got the rest of the bed.

I want to say my mind is at ease after a quiet meditation.

I want to but it wouldn’t be true. My meditation was anything but quiet. Seriously? How can so many thoughts crowd into such a small dark place?

And I smile.

As soon as I write about dark spaces, an unquiet minds, my higher self awakens.

It’s the way it is.

Writing has always been meditative for me. Healing.

On the page, I see my truth shimmering in all its many facets. I see the dark places lying in wait to capture the light and I see the light burning fiercely, edging out the dark.

On the page, I cannot hide from myself. I cannot hide in the dark.

On the page, I must turn up.

Just as I must turn up this morning and be present to my day.

A breakfast meeting in half an hour. A briefing note to finish off and other things to tidy up.

I had a restless night last night.

Doesn’t mean my day isn’t filled with possibility.

Doesn’t mean I’m not finding my lightness of being rising with the sun’s golden rays.

It just means I’m a little bit more tired than usual.

The South Calgary Art Show & Sale begins tomorrow. I’ve still got some work to complete to be ready.  If you’re in or around Calgary, it would be lovely to see you there!

Friday 2 – 9pm

Saturday  10 – 2pm

3130 16 St. SW

I’ll see you next week!

Namaste.


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Awaken Possibility

My beloved asks me if I want to go on a trip. 12 days on the Danube. A few days in Paris, or another city of my choice.

I immediately wonder if I can get the time off work.

And then I laugh at myself.

I don’t need to request time off. I’ll be unemployed!

And then I wonder… is it considered unemployed when I’m retired? Rejuvenating? Stepping into my next adventure?

I love the way my mind works!  It definitely keeps me on my toes. As Benjamin Zander, Conductor, Music Professor, author, would say, “How fascinating!”

Something else Benjamin Zander said in one of my favourite Ted Talks is that “[…} the conductor doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful [..] I realized my job was to awaken possibility in other people.”

That’s what I want to do in my rejuvenation. Awaken possibility in others.

Which brings me back to the Danube.

I remember the first time I saw it. I was about 16 years old. We’d travelled through the then Czechoslovakia into Austria, to Vienna.  I was so excited to see the Danube for the first time. And then, I was disappointed.

The piece of music I’d learned to play by heart on my accordion was, (yes, I played the accordion but that’s a whole other story), The Blue Danube Waltz.  I loved that piece of music. I imagined couples dancing outside a castle on the banks of the Danube. There were women swirling in the arms of tuxedo clad men, their ballgowns fanning out around them. Lights twinkled in the night. Servers moved silently amongst the crowds, their trays filled with crystal glasses of champagne.

My vision was beautiful.

The Danube, when I saw it for the first time, was not.

It was brown. Dirty brown. Not the sparkling clear blue of my imagination, or even the blue of the title of Strauss’ waltz.

Dang those expectations.

It is my first memory of encountering what expectations are called —  premeditated disappointments.

And here’s the rub.

I want to go drifting down the Danube for 12 days. I want to visit Prague and Budapest. To spend some time strolling the avenues of Paris.

I don’t want to set myself up for disappintment.

An interesting conundrum because my imagination loves to write storylines that capture all the romance and leave out all the humdrum.

Fact is, where ever I go in the world, whatever I do, to savour the experience in all its beautiful complexity, I must let go my expectations it will be anything other than, an adventure.

Which brings me back to the realization of what I want to create in my world — opportunities to awaken possibility in others.

I have no expecations of where I will go with this desire. What I will do. All I know for sure is that the adventure of unfolding my dream, of colouring it in, of giving it depth and tone and meaning is the journey I can choose to live, arms and heart wide open, dancing joyfully under a star studded sky, gracefully dipping and to-ing and fro-ing to the rhythm of my heart.

What others do with what I create is up to them.

What I do with it is what matters to me.

Once upon a time, I saw a river and was disappointed by its colour.

These many years later that river could be blue. It could have been cleaned up. I’m not going to see just the colour of the water. I’m going for the experience of awakening myself to possibility of what can happen when I travel wihtout expectation of anything other than the journey being a grand adventure in Love.

Namaste.


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What is failure?

I spend the evening pouring paint on an old canvas. I was never quite happy with this piece of work. Never content it was finished. Yesterday I decided to take it on. To dive further into the story it is trying to tell.

I have a vision, an idea of what I want to create. Of the painting’s story. I am excited.

Two hours of pouring, hair-dryer blowing, torching, moving the canvas this way and that, I am scraping the paint off, letting it slide into an old bucket.

I breathe.

It is the second painting in a row which has not pleased me. Not ‘measured up’.

I breathe again.

Flutters of panic stir the outer reaches of my mind.

“It’s a trend!” the critter hisses. “You’ve lost your touch. You’re a failure. But then, you were just trying to fool yourself into believing you were an artist anyway. Give it up.”

I breathe again and turn to face the imaginary but oh so real culprit of my negative thinking.

“I see you,” I tell him. “I see you and I know your fear. I know you’re just trying to keep me safe. That you are simply doing your best to prevent me from feeling the pain of disappointment. Failure. It’s okay. Painting bad is like being willing to write bad. I gotta go through the rough spots to get to the good. It’s never a failure. It’s all just part of the invitation to begin again from where I am.”

The critter hisses and stomps his feet and puffs up his body in preparation of giving me another blast of limiting beliefs he’s created to keep me from feeling the pains of life, to prevent me from stepping so far out of my comfort zone I lose the way back.

I breathe.. Into fear. Uncertainty. Confusion. Resistance. The unknown.

I don’t need a comfort zone to keep me safe. I need wide-open spaces. The freedom to explore what it means to live on the other side of who I am when I dare to cross the boundary from being safe in who I am to honouring the sacred of all I am.

I breathe and remind myself that not every painting becomes a final project in one go. Just as the canvas I was painting on began two years ago and only now is being viewed as full of possibilities, going through the messy is part of the journey of getting to the good parts.

It is all part of the process.

And the first painting that ‘failed’ slips into my thoughts. It’s pretty ugly… at this point. But a random thought enters. What if…. and ideas on what I can do to delve into its story, to reveal its mysteries rise above my fears.

Ooooh.  That could be fun, I think. And ‘what if’s’ of trying this or that dance in my thoughts.

I want to race down to my studio. To pull out my pens and get to work.

It’s not that time of day. I have to ‘get to work’. I have meetings to attend, a Strat Plan to complete. interviews.

I breathe again.

It’s okay.

I’m okay.

It’s all just part of the process to get from here to there. It’s all just part of the invitation.

I begin again.

Life is a journey and everything on my path is necessary. It is all part of the Sacred.

 

Namaste.

 

 


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Is this the new norm?

I am wondering if this is my new norm.

I awake at 5am. Check the time. Roll over. Drift off into the exquisiteness of a Monday morning with no rushing about on my agenda.

At 7 I arise, and while it feels late and decadent even, I do not rush about. Beau stays in bed with his dad. I come into the kitchen, make myself a latte. Watch the river flow past. Sit down at my desk. Breathe into the silence. Meditate. When I open my eyes, the river continues to flow past yet every drop is different. I notice the snow that fell over the weekend is gone. It disappeared overnight. I thank the morning. The buds appearing on the branches of the trees outside my window. A squirrel leaping from one branch to another. They all add texture and wonder to my morning.

I turn on my computer and a popup heralds a Youtube art tutorial video. It catches my attention. I watch it, get inspired and watch another in the series.

Ideas percolate.

I get excited about the possibilities.

Is this my new norm?

To savour morning’s passing without an agenda constraining me.

I have things to do. Places to go.

But first. Time to savour the morning.

I am not working today. At least, not at the office.  I have some days to use up by the end of the month. As my artshow is Friday/Saturday, I’m using today to get organized. Yesterday, I mounted paintings, created the file for my flower cards that I’ll drop off at the printer later this morning, on my way to my massage. (The painting above is one of the cards.) Other than that, I’ve got time to be present in the sun’s rising. To take Beau for a long leisurely walk. To work on a painting I’m thinking of putting in the show if I get it finished. If not, there will be other shows.

I have four day work weeks from now until the end of May when I will leave my place of employment for the last time. In fact, with the days off I’m using up, I have a total of 12 days to work at the office. When I put it in the context of days to complete, it doesn’t seem like much! Yet, when I compare the time to work versus how much I still have to complete, I can feel the panic arising within me. There’s still a lot to be done.

I breathe into my fluttering heart and the knot in my stomach. I can only do my best. It is not all mine to fix, complete, do.

I practice releasing.

I am releasing. I am releasing. I am releasing.

I breathe. Deeply. In. Out. In. Out.

At a dinner party on Saturday night someone asked me if I was nervous about losing my identify. I laughed. I can’t lose my identity, I told them.  My job is not my identity.  I am more than my title, my profession, my being known in the sector in which I work. My ‘identity is a beautiful tapestry woven together in the vital and life-giving colours I create when I live my life leaning into the creative edge of all this is possible when I let go of believing what I do that pays me, defines me.

I am exploring my new norm today.

I think I like it.

 

 


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When life throws up a speed bump, how will you grow?

No 37 #ShePersisted
The Naked Truth
Mixed Media on canvas paper
11 x 14″
@2017 Louise Gallagher

You know when things happen in your life and you think…. “Wow. I didn’t see that coming?”

And then, it’s there in front of you. And, even though you know it isn’t the best course of action, what you really want to do is rail against it and fling up your hands and stomp your feet and exclaim, “Why me?” or something to that affect?

Take a breath.

Step back.

Get present.

Breathe.

Playing the victim. Pointing fingers at the other and highlighting their faults, limitations, wrongness – it just creates more chaos and angst.

It ain’t easy in the face of adversity to turn up and stay present without fearing the darkness. It is necessary if you are to weather life’s storms without getting pulled from your course, from the centre of your “I” of who you are and how you strive to be in the world.

Stepping into your integrity, speaking your truth with a kind and compassionate heart, being congruent in all your actions, accepting and recognizing there is truth in all things and not all things are true, creates a world of possibility. It shines light into the darkness and creates space for all our shared human condition to be present, including frailties and imperfections.

Awhile ago, someone accused me of acting in a way that took me by surprise. Being called something that is not a trait I admire, wish to emulate or be known as, felt confusing. Yet, there I was, having to face someone else’s assertions they were experiencing me in a way I do not want to be.

It was humbling.

To defend myself, I felt the urge to pull out everything I knew about the other that would make them look small, less than, other than the remarkable human being I know them capable of being.

to find my center, to stay grounded in my truth, I had to…

Take a breath.

Step back.

Get present.

Breathe.

Trying to make someone else look small does not make me the bigger person. It just makes me less than who and how I want to be in the world. To walk with integrity in my life is more important than playing in the mud of someone else’s chaos, pain or whatever it is they are experiencing that causes them to do the things they do for reasons I can’t make sense of. In those situations, my integrity must trump getting down and dirty

My intention in life is to celebrate people, to connect through our magnificence, to create space for everyone around me to shine bright. In the lightness of our being bright lights of possibility, we illuminate the path for all the world to see, violence, bullying, discrimination, sexism, racism, anti-humanism do not create a world of peace, harmony, love and joy. They destroy humankind.

Life is a fascinating journey. It brings opportunities to shine, to express our magnificence, to be our best selves through the good times and the tough. It’s easy to walk with integrity when things are going well in your life, the challenge is always to stay true to yourself when the going gets rough and the rough is calling you to get down and dirty to ease your pain or confusion.

Standing in your integrity means letting go of the need to act out. It means turning up, speaking your truth, walking your path with integrity and staying unattached to the outcome.

And when you do that, life’s hurdles become opportunities to learn and grow and be the more of who and how you want to be in the world, in every kind of weather.

 

 

Namaste.