The Song of Your Heart is Always Brave

Spread 6 – left hand page – Listen to Your Heart – The song of your heart is always brave.

Have you ever noticed how, when fear awakens, so do the voices in your head?

That’s my experience. As I get closer to doing something I’ve been avoiding or putting off, or doing something that’s new and/or different or requires me to step outside my comfort zone, or at least the lizard brain’s comfort zone, the cacophony of sound emanating from the dark recesses of my grey matter get louder and louder.

Intoxicated with the lizard brain’s negative feedback, I begin to tell myself it’s right. I shouldn’t… – Do whatever it is I’m attempting. Step outside my comfort zone. Talk to someone I think could really give me guidance on a project [as in, ask for help]. Submit my work to a magazine. Create that Art Journalling 101 course…

Working in my “Learning to Fly” art journal has been an awakening and an inspiration to keep on going, keep on digging in, keep on stepping out, reaching beyond my comfort zone, looking at all the things (lies) I tell myself I risk losing if I do… x, y, z.

it’s also been a great wake-up call.

As in, the only thinking that’s stinking around here is mine!

And I smile as I type that. I might sound like I’m being hard on myself – it’s actually a loving form of tough love – I’m being real and honest with my fears — as I wrote on Spread No. 6 of the journal – “Fear is the voice of doubt and confusion that would have you believe you don’t deserve to live your dreams.”

I also think I’m suffering from Covid-brain Weary Syndrome.

You know, the falling into lazy patterns of thinking without even realizing I’ve been doing it.

No one can deny, this has been a long year. And there is still more to come before we can step out of our front doors and into the world without fearing this invisible microbe’s attack. As the world has hunkered down, so too have I in some ways.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been very creative and given birth to lots of creative expressions. The challenge is, I’ve not done much with my body of work. I’ve just kind of floated from project to project like a sleep-walker drifting through the silence of the night.

To wake myself up I have to get out of my feelings and into my body, my whole body, where I know, beyond doubt deep, deep within my entire being, that I am more powerful than I could ever imagine, more creative than I could ever express and more fearless than I could ever envision.

We all are.

More than we imagine.

Think about it. Our imaginings take place in our minds. Our minds are constructs of our habitual thoughts.

If our thoughts are limiting, so too will be our expressions of ourselves.

Living under the thrall of Covid has limited all our lives in so many ways, it makes sense that some of our thoughts could evolve into more limiting than freeing.

Which is also why birds appear throughout my Learning to Fly journal.

I don’t know where they’re leading, I don’t know where this journal is going (it’s all part of the adventure) what I do know is… if I do nothing, nothing will happen other than what already is. I must follow the flight of the birds where ever they lead. They carry my dreams.

To pursue my vision of creating inspiring and compelling work that ignites the creativity and passion in others, I must pursue pathways to getting my work out there.

And so… the adventure continues.

Going back to my 20 Attitudes and Actions to live the life of my dreams, today I commit to working on No.s 9 and 10.

What about you? What do you commit to doing today to move you one step closer to a dream you want to transform into your reality?

I hope you share your thoughts. I’d love to be your accountability buddy!

_________________

No. 6 – Attitudes and Actions — “Don’t let fear muddle-up your thinking. Even when you think you can’t, tell yourself you can. – Listen to your heart.”

He Gave Her Words

He Gave Her Words – mixed media on canvas paper 9 x 12″

Yesterday, when I stepped into the sheltering welcome of my studio, the muse whispered a tantalizing thought “He gave her words.”

Curious, I followed her lead.

I tore a page from an old book I keep on hand for just such occasions. I pulled out my GelliPad (a rubbery mat used for mono printing) and laid some colour down. Using the round end of a paintbrush, I drew a vase and flowers, laid the book page down and pulled a print.

The words on the page showed through. Cool. I kept going.

Pulled out a piece of deli paper, laid some more paint down (mostly darks), made more marks and pulled another print.

On the canvas paper page of my art journal, I collaged strips of paper from an old dictionary onto the page. The words defined on the torn strips all had to do with flowers. I collaged the deli paper printed page and then the printed book page onto the background and set to work creating a cohesiveness to the piece with paint pens, markers and fingerpainting – I had decided, somewhere in the process, that I wouldn’t use any brushes on this page. So I didn’t.

When I was finished, I placed my hands on the page, took a breath, closed my eyes and asked, “What words do you yearn to release?”

And the poem below came into being.

I am sharing my ‘process’ because it is, in so many ways, a reflection of life. We start with a desire to live life as best we can. We set goals. Follow dreams. Discover and use our talents. We gain knowledge. Expertise. Experiences. We layer on wounds. Scars. Cracks. They form the stories we tell ourselves about why or how we can or can’t do something. Those stories, made up of all the words we use to tell them to ourselves, again and again, create pathways, ruts, habits. Sometimes, we question their existence. Often, we accept them as natural limitations.

And then, one day, if we’re lucky or if we’ve hit such a devastating patch we cannot fathom how we will go on, we have no other choice but to start questioning the stories we’ve told ourselves about how we got to this dark and foreboding place. In our questioning, we start to unravel the words that formed those limiting beliefs that trapped us in believing this, this place where we feel so lost and alone and hopeless, is really all there is. Isn’t there more?

And then, if we’re really, really quiet, if we’re really, really still, we hear that voice deep within calling us to awaken. To open our eyes and heart and arms to the infinite mystery of who we are when we stop questioning our right to live wild and free and outrageously ourselves.

That’s when we begin the journey back to our truth. To the stories we tell ourselves, not of our limitations but of our limitless capacity to live wild and free and outrageously ourselves.

Yesterday, I stepped into the studio and the muse whispered, “He gave her words.”

I did not question, “What does that mean?”

I did not ask myself, “How on earth am I going to create something around ‘that’.”

Instead, I dove in. I let my intuition, my inner knowing guide me, unquestioning, into the creative expression of the muse’s invitation. I allowed ‘whatever yearns to appear’ to appear as I expressed myself without limiting my expression of my intuition by listening to all I tell myself I know about words and making sense of them or art and all I know about making it happen.

I stepped into the studio yesterday. I let go of ‘knowing’ and allowed myself to be present to the process of unveiling the mystery of what was seeking to be revealed.

And in the end, isn’t that what life is? A journey of exploration? A great mystery to be revealed with every step we take in its unfolding? Wild and free and outrageously ourselves.

He Gave Her Words
by Louise Gallagher

He gave her words
ripe and plump
full 
of plundered promises
plucked
from the strings
of memory
playing a melody
he vowed would never die
with the turning of each season.

He gave her flowers
colourful and bright
full
of tomorrows
never-ending
cast upon indolent days
spent languishing
beneath a summer sun
burning
hot against her skin.

He gave her promises
vanishing
like flowers 
wilting
beneath autumn’s kisses
bleeding colours 
dry
fallen
upon the frozen ground
of winter’s ice-cold breath.

He gave her words.
She gave her heart.

His words faded.
Plucked dry.

Her heart beats.
Fierce and free
of his words.

Spirit of the Wolf Clan

 The Spirit of the Wolf Clan  ©2021 Louise Gallagher
 
 spirit of the wolf clan
 running through my veins
 Fierce. Loyal. Fearless.
 streams of wildness
 flowing
 endlessly
 through the vast unknowing
 of the mysteries
 of life
 endlessly
 flowing
 through the untamed fires
 of my heart
 burning away 
 all resistance
 to run
 Wild. Bold. Free. 

The moon. The moon. Oh galaxy of night dreams…

Okay. So that line just wrote itself out when I started to type. It’s kind of a prequel to Spirit Wolf Clan.

It all started with a prompt I read yesterday on Goff Jame’s blog. I followed its thread and landed at Eugi’s Causerie where I found the prompt with instrustions to:

Go where the prompt leads you and publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be any variation of the prompt and/or image. Please keep it family friendly. Prompts close 7 days from the close of my post.

The Spirit of the Wolf Clan is where the prompt took me – first to the poetry, then to the artwork.

All of its creative expression inspired by a prompt to write something, anything, about this month’s Wolf Moon.

Someone asked me yesterday how it is that I just seem to keep creating. How does it happen, they asked.

I don’t really have an answer as much as a sense of memory beyond this known world… A feeling of being open to the whispers of all of life flowing around me and feeling that presence stirring the creative forces deep within the crucible of my belly.

Once stirred, the forces start bubbling up in a wild dancing concoction of words and images weeping through every pore of my body, yearning to get out.

So I let them out.

Perhaps, told my friend, it is that I listen to the whispers and do not censor myself. I don’t criticize, condemn or judge my work-in-process nor in its relative completed state (relative because… well there’s always word for one more brushstroke or one more edit out of a word). I look at it through loving eyes and ask, “What are you here for me to embrace? What windows into my creative nature are you seeking to be opened?”

See, I believe that whenever we say something like, “I”m not very creative,” it’s actually our yearning to experience our creative nature calling out.

We can see through the window, we sense creativity — how would we recognize what we judge to be its absence if we didn’t? — but we’ve never opened the window to let the essence of its nature flow in and out and all around us.

Yesterday, I read a prompt. It stirred the creative forces deep within my belly. I looked through the window of my soul, deep into their depths and opened the window.

… and the spirit of the wolf clan flowed free.

Namaste

___________

Do pop over to Goff Jame’s place and open the window to his creative force. And once you’ve sated your senses there pop over to Eugi’s Causerie and immerse yourself in all the poetry and sights of the Wolf Moon.

Two Haiku

Written sitting at my desk this morning as I watched the sky shift from dark to light.
Mixed media on canvas paper. 7 x 10″

I enjoy putting words to my paintings. Yesterday, when I had finished this one, my beloved asked me, “What kind of berries are those?”

Red, I replied.

And thus…. a haiku was born.

This morning, as I sat at my desk and watched the night sky fade into reds and rose and blue, I snapped the first photo.

And another haiku was born.

_____________

I am fascinated by the haiku form — both by its endurance through so many centuries and its compactness inviting the author/reader to say something about nature and life in so few words — the form is precise – three lines with a syllable count of 5 / 7 / 5 to equal 17 syllables in total.

From the website, Poets.org“the philosophy of haiku has been preserved: the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment.”

It’s a great form to test and stretch your creative muscles.

____________

The painting of the berries was an experiment with watercolours, acrylic ink, spray ink and Inktense watercolour pencils.

If I Could…

Mixed media – 7 x 10″ on mixed media paper. (Collage, stamps, inks, acrylic paint and love)
 
 
 If I Could Give You My Heart
 ©2021 Louise Gallagher
  
 If I could 
 I would give you my words
 plump and full of
 promises
 dancing in the ecstasy
 of never having to leave
 you 
 without words
  
 If I could 
 I would paint you the sunrise
 bold and fiery
 colours streaking across the sky
 full of morning delight
 threaded with gold
 melting like butter
 upon a piece of warm buttered toast
  
 If I could 
 I would sing you a song of sunset
 full of sun-bathed mountains
 stretched out across the horizon
 like a dragon 
 sleeping
 at the edge of the world
 where sky tumbles into the sea
 and the moon rises high
 and pulls the night up into a sky
 full of stars falling like snow
 melting your dreams awake
  
 If I could
 give you my heart
 would you listen
 deep
 to the beat of its silence
 echoing throughout the vastness 
 of time wooing your fear
 of falling
 asleep
 like a lullaby
 spun into a cradle of love
 that can never break
  
 If I could 
 give you my heart
 would you listen
 deep? 

Yesterday, I entered my studio without any clear idea of what I wanted/needed to create or without having heard what the muse was whispering into creation.

I opened my art journal to a blank page. Threw down some colour and text and lines. And took a breath.

A deep one.

I closed my eyes, let my conscious mind sink down, down, into the crucible of my belly, into the font of where creativity rises up to inspire, cajole, exhort me into being wildly, joyfully present to all that is present where ever I’m at.

And that’s when I felt the murmurings.

Of words. Of song. Of flowers and trees and birds and life flowing.

I started to draw and paint and when I was finished, she appeared.

I told C.C. “She’s my Frida Kahlo meets Marie Antoinette.” He laughed and asked, “Where’s the cake?”

“Her cake is the words she spins into stories the flowers breathe in,” I replied. (I might even have been a little flippant. But the muse didn’t care…)

And thus, the words appeared… Her words grew into the stories flowers told to chase away grey skies and cloudy days.

_________

This morning, when I sat down at my desk, I didn’t know what I was going to write.

I closed my eyes, took in a breath and watched it sink with my conscious mind floating on air down, down, down into the crucible of my belly. The busy places in my heart grew still. The stuck places melted… and that’s when I felt the murmurings.

Of words dancing and sunrises melting and hearts listening deeply and breaking open to love.

And the words guided my heart into creative expression.

Namaste

No. Never. No More. (No. 57 #ShePersisted Series)

No 60 (something) in #ShePersisted Series – mixed media on watercolour paper.

I hadn’t realized how long it has been since I last created a painting for my #ShePersisted series.

I thought I was done. Finished. Had enough.

The muse had other ideas.

I listened. Because… as No. 57 (or is it 60?) says…

No. 60 #ShePersisted Series

They said, you’ve come a long way baby.
Be happy.

She said, there’s still a long way to go.
I’ll be happy when dignity and justice, equality and love
are the way for all humanity.

And here’s how I know how long it’s been since I created No. 60… (which I think is actually No 57 because I seem to have skipped a number here and there in the process – I really need to go back to elementary school and take arithmetic!)

To figure out the No. for this latest painting, I had to go back into my FB feed and check it out.

No. 60 was created in March — of 2019.

And yet, now, more than ever, ensuring every voice is heard, everyone is counted is as important today as its ever been.

We need to do better.

As a human race. As a society. As a collective. As individuals.

We need to do better.

We must.

We can.

Let’s do it.

_________________________________________

PS – I also have to do better at updating my website where all the paintings for the series are displayed. Apparently, I’m still at No. 52.

And another PS… I have had a couple of inquiries about a calendar for the series. For the past two years I have created a small desktop flip calendar with 12 of the paintings.

I’m in the midst of creating a new edition for 2021 with availability by November 30. Just in time for the season of giving!

If you’re interested in possibly getting one, (they’re about $18 +shipping) I’d love to know – especially if you have a ‘fav’ you think should be included. The series (up to #52 but I promise to get the rest uploaded today! 🙂 ) can be viewed HERE. Send me an email or leave a comment.

Thanks!

This was the 2020 version (which was the same as the 2019). 2021 will be 12 different paintings with corresponding messages.

A Book of Hope

I lost my mind yesterday.

Ok. So not literally. But, for awhile, I was so totally immersed in creativity, I forgot to ‘think’ and settled into the state of ‘being’. with the effortless grace that comes from being Wholly Alive. Present. Connected. At One.

And in the wholeness of being, anxiety, fear, stress, worry, did not stand a chance. They drifted away as fluidly as a leaf floating on the river passing by my studio doors.

I was at One. In the PHLOW as my friend John calls it.

Power  (I also like to think of this one as Presence)
Harmony
Love
Order
Wisdom

In that place, there was no need to push worrisome thoughts away. They were just like that leaf floating by. There was no need to fixate on outcomes – of world events happening right now, or of what was transpiring on the worktable in front of me.

In that moment, all of it and none of it was present with and within me. In that moment I was one with the world outside my studio doors and the world within me.

In that moment, all was in harmony, unfolding just as it was. I was not in charge of the world’s destiny. I was responsible for living mine. Fully. Completely. Wholly.

It was all flowing with grace to the rhythm of the moment flowing past. Dancing joyfully in the circle of Love that surrounds and sustains me. Singing, wild and free to the song of life.

In that moment flowing seamlessly into the next, what mattered most was what I experienced in that moment.

Joy. Gratitude. Acceptance. Appreciation. Love. Peace. Harmony…

There is a song from the late 60s that my brother used to play again and again on my dad’s tape recorder. “Master Jack” by Four Jacks and a Jill.

It has popped into my mind several times the past few days. The lyrics for the first verse and chorus seem apropos to these times in which we live,

It’s a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack / You taught me all I know and I’ll never look back / It’s a very strange world and I thank you, Master Jack

You took a colored ribbon from out of the sky / And taught me how to use it as the years went by / To tie up all your problems and make them look neat / And then to sell them to the people in the street.

It’s a strange strange world we live in Master Jack.”

It is a strange strange world we live in.

As it was in 1968 when that song was released, it’s also a big, beautiful, miraculous and magical world full of wonderfully inspired moments that fill me with awe and possibilities for better, for change, for love to grow in the hearts of all humankind. Moments that give me great HOPE.

I am leaning deeper into HOPE today. Allowing the flow to draw me into the mystery, the beauty, the wonder of every moment.

_________________________

About A Book of Hope

Yesterday, I finished the little booklet I started working on the day before. A Book of Hope.

The images above are all from that book. The one below are the pages I shard yesterday.

It is small — 2.5 x 4″. 4 x 4 page spreads16 pages.

Each 4 page spread tells a story of HOPE.

Hope is a flower basking in the sun sharing its beauty with everyone.

Hope is the waves crashing [into your dreams] daring you to awaken and set sail towards your dreams.

Hope is a birdsong calling you to spread your wings and fly wild and free.

Hope is the wind whispering to the wildness within to dance like no one is watching.

As I created I wasn’t thinking about ‘the page’, I let my intuition {and the muse] guide me. I let my senses lead me deeper and deeper into the PHLOW.

__________________________________

And…. here’s Master Jack by Four Jacks and A Jill.

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.

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.

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.

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