Tag Archives: creativity

I See You. I Hear You. I Am Not Afraid.

The story of life is a never-ending river flowing toward a distant sea. Every moment filled with endless Love flowing free.

When I sank into meditation yesterday, I gave myself the opportunity for my inner knowing deep within my belly to rise up in response to the question, “What are you afraid of?”

The answer surprised me.

It wasn’t death. Success. Failure. Speaking in public. Or even growing old and losing all my faculties, or not. Sometimes it feels like growing old is scary with all my faculties!

No. The answer that rose up was one near and dear and very familiar to me. You fear Letting Go and Being Present. Flow with it. Be the flow.

Playing in my studio yesterday afternoon, I breathed into my fear and painted the wind with all the colours of the rainbow.

I let go and let whatever was calling out to appear to become what was being created.

In the letting go, I discovered what the question was calling out to me to acknowledge: Writing a novel is a scary undertaking. I have written two in the past and done nothing with them even though their birthing was a painful process and advance readers really liked them.

‘Doing the work’ is not what I fear. It’s the ‘owning the work’, being responsible for its path after birthing that absolutely terrifies me. (More on this at a later date.)

For now, I need to get honest about the little bitty issue of how I become in the process that concerns me and gives me pause to procrastinate, dawdle and avoid.

See, I know what happens when I become immersed in ‘the story’. Time. Space. The world around me falls away and I turn into a ‘storyzilla!’  You know, an out of control bridezilla without the veil and white dress and all the wedding stuff going on, just the blank white page staring at me every morning.

In its presence, I swing between the polar opposites of every interruption becoming an imposition warranting sharp and nasty ‘get out of my space’ comments from me. Or, every interruption appearing like an invitation to step away from my laptop and have a coffee. Go for a walk or even, clean the toilet. Yup. When I’m writing (or more specifically, not writing) I have the cleanest toilets in town!

This is why the art journal spread that appeared is so fascinating and revealing to me.

A young girl is walking into a monstrous wind. Unafraid, undaunted she stands her ground and keeps staring the storm down. Of course, she’s got her best friend in tow to keep her company but he is walking behind her, using her as his shield. She is the warrior. The priestess. The one who will not be silenced.

Which, based on the storyline of my novel, is incredibly prescient.

But wait! There’s more.

Here’s how the subconscious really kicks in. In one scene in my story, a young five-year-old girl is playing in the woods with her mother. Her boots and winter coat are loden green, the colour her mother dyed the wool. The little girl really wanted her mother to dye the wool red.

Without consciously connecting working on my art journal page to the story I’m writing (or avoiding writing – you pick), I painted the little girl in the painting’s coat and boots red. Hmmm…. colour me blown away.

And….. the little girl also likes to pick yellow flowers and give them to her mother.

WHAT??? I painted yellow flowers and yes, their pop of colour is an important design element, but I hadn’t connected them to the story I’m writing until I awoke this morning and the answer awoke with me.

Being responsible for the birthing and caring of a story is scary. Fear is not a reason to not do it.

So, slowly, quickly, whatever speed I go, this is me facing my fears, letting go and getting busy writing it out (while being present to however I appear in the world around me with love (and a whole lot of compassion) because believe me, I ain’t funny when I’m focused.

Perhaps it’s best I do an advance apology session with my beloved so he is not surprised when storyzilla roars!

However it goes, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Namaste

NaNoWriMo

When I signed up on a whim for the 2 day, 20,000 word weekend designed to kick off NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month) I was hoping to get the word count in on a novel I began crafting a few weeks ago.

Arriving at the Alexandra Writer’s  Centre (AWCS) in C-Space, I felt a little intimidated. There were about 20 people scattered between 3 rooms, laptops open in front of them, busily typing away at tables, sitting on the couches, or sprawled out in one of four easy chairs in the conversation corner.

Taking a reassuring breath, and after introducing myself to the host, Anne Meticosh (author of four books) I found a spot at a table, booted up my laptop and began to type.

Okay, so my diving into the weekend writing wasn’t quite that quick. To buy some time, and perhaps (ok. most definitely) to escape the terror of that blank screen, I went downstairs to the main floor and bought a latte. I checked out a few of the vendors as they set up for the Saturday morning Farmer’s and Maker’s Market and then I sat down in front of my laptop.

I still didn’t begin to type. I read and re-read the outline I’d developed for my novel and dove into the prologue of my story. After finishing it, and then the first chapter, I felt somewhat disoriented. While I was pretty sure what the issue was, I needed to clear my head.

You got it. I went for another latte and a longer stroll through the market.

It was while watching three dogs engage in a staring contest from the safety of their owners’ sides that it struck me what was wrong.

Unlike those dogs who were doing what came naturally to them, I didn’t know what came naturally to my characters.  I hadn’t written their backstories and thus, couldn’t draw from the well of their ‘normal’ response to situations as I wrote.

Back upstairs at my table, I went back to the drawing board. I let go of my 20,000 word goal as I dug into writing out ‘what my story’s all about’ and crafting backstories for the people populating it.

It was a long, fruitful and deliciously inspiring weekend. Surrounded by fellow creatives, I dove into the mystical landscape of a story unfolding and while I didn’t get a lot of work done on the actual manuscript (no 20,000 word prize for me) I did come away with a better understanding of what the story is that I’m trying to tell, and even more importantly for me, why I want to write it.

Thank you AWCS, Anne and all the fellow creatives who filled that space with such wonderful energy and inspiration.

I am so thankful my whim to enter the weekend pushed, pulled, dragged and compelled me back to the writing well.

Next, I shall be blocking my days out to include ‘novel’ writing time along with my studio time. And… just to go all public on myself, my goal this month is the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word count!

Wish me luck! (which also means I may not be here as much as I’ll be buried in story and delving into the craft!)

A Heartful Month (a 30 day art project)

Day 1 – 30 Day Art Project
A Heartful Month
“Let Your Heart Sing Out Loud”

An amazing woman I recently met when taking one of her art courses, suggested that if I want to engage in xx# of days of art, I simply pick a subject, a timeframe and begin.

So I have.

For the next 30 days, I will be creating one piece of art a day on the theme of ‘heart’. I’m calling it, “A Heartful Month”. (Thank you Annette Wichmann of Kensington Art Supply for the inspiration.)

The theme is aligned with the half-day workshop I will be offering in October here in my Wild at Heart StudioDiscover Your HeartSong. As I develop the framework for the day, I want to focus on what it means to know my own heartsong; to recognize it, embody it, dance with it and free it through self-expression. Committing to a 30 day project will keep me living with loving attention and curiousity in the exploration of the question, “What is my heartsong?”

As with most projects, I think about doing it, and then hesitate (Dang that critter!). I worry that I’ll look stupid. I’ll fail/fall down. I doubt myself… What if I break my commitment? What if I miss a day?

The beauty of the 30 day art project is that it’s a self-guided process. It’s not meant to be an onerous task. It’s simply an opportunity to make a commitment, challenge myself, and to deepen my understanding of an idea/theme/process/skill. It’s meant to be a joyful, gentle opportunity to explore and create a habit — in this case, the habit of creating one piece of art a day that does not take more than 20 – 30 minutes.

Which is where the real challenge of the 30 day project comes in for me. I tend to get lost in creation, letting go of all concept of time. To give myself a time limit is…. scary.

I’ve decided I’m up to the challenge. I’d better be because one of the aspects of the challenge is to post whatever I create, every day, on social media, and while I may not be posting it on my blog everyday, I shall be putting it up on my instragram feed.  (mlouiseg88)

That’s one sure way to keep me honest with myself!

The pressure is on!

Of course, this upcoming weekend, while I am committed to my 30 day project, I won’t be posting what I created until after the weekend. My youngest daughter and I are hiking in Friday to a remote mountain lodge and I will be unplugging (ok, it’s unavoidable as the lodge is out of cell range and has no electricity). I won’t be ‘coming back to civilization’ until Sunday afternoon.

It promises to be a heartful mother/daughter weekend. All we need to carry in are our clothes, which means I’ll be able to slip in a couple of pieces of watercolour paper and a few watercolour pencils into my backpack!

Yesterday, to welcome in A Heartful Month, I created an opening piece (and yes, it did take me longer than 20 – 30 minutes but Hey! Rome wasn’t built in a day.) I started the piece with the intention of creating a signature piece for my Discover Your HeartSong workshop. (Which is also my excuse for why it took longer than 30 minutes! Signature pieces take time.)

It wasn’t until after I had finished the piece that I decided to create my 30 days of art project.

Which is often how happy accidents happen. I do something, discover a new idea along the way, and then follow that thread to see where it will lead me.

I have no idea what I will discover along my 30 days of art project — I am confident it will challenge me, excite me and open me up to new ideas that will provide other threads to follow as I explore the question, “What is my heartsong?”

What an exciting space to be present and open to exploring!

And… if you’re interested in joining in, jump in anytime!  It would be lovely to have company on the journey! (send me a message and let me know if you are so I can follow your progress too!)

_______________________

I wanted to play with sewing on paper and painting on fabric — so this piece piece incorporates both.

 

Does fear stop you from creating?

Work in Progress. No. 44
#ShePersisted Series

Over at Live and Learn yesterday, David Kanigan shares an expert from a Robert Ito article in the NY Times about funny-man Ray Romano.

“It’s just doubt, that’s the biggest thing.”

Doubt, uncertainty, insecurity can keep me from doing things I love.

Like painting.

I have begun working on No. 44 of my #ShePersisted series.

No. 44.

It’s taken me awhile to get to No. 44. With every piece I complete, I worry the next one won’t appear. Or won’t be any good. Or won’t ring true.

I worry I can’t paint. I’m not creative enough. I don’t have any talent.

And in my worry, I hesitate. I avoid. I ‘take a break’, convincing myself it’s what I need, even though I know, that’s the lie.

Deep within me, to the farthest reaches of every cell in my body, I feel the compelling and vital desire to express myself creatively, to dig into my creative essence and let it flow free.

And still I hesitate. Stall. Pause.

Until finally, the pressure grows so great I know there is only one way to release it.

I put brush to paint to canvas if only to prove my fears right. And in the act of proving them right I push through. My fear. My insecurity. My doubt.

I don’t know what else to do.

I know the fears and doubts are there.

I just can’t let them win. I just can’t let them own me, or worse yet, deprive me of doing something I find so satisfying, so joyful, so life-giving.

Creating. Painting. Writing.

For me, these are life-giving passions that dance an uncomfortable jig in the darkness and lightness of their ever present need to be expressed.

Giving into the darkness, I feel bereft. Empty. Defeated.

Yet, to give into the lightness, I must struggle through the dark. I must dance with my fears and turn them to the light so that I can set myself free to create, even in my fears, even in my doubts and insecurities.

The world is filled with creative soul’s clamouring to be free. Now, more than ever, as world events seemingly spiral over the edge of reason, we must all let go of our reasons to not create, to not bring our soulful essence into being. We must release ourselves from the darkness and begin to create in the light of knowing, the kind of world we need, the world we deserve to live in is filled with beauty, wonder and awe and above all, peace.

Namaste.

 

The Poetry of a river

FullSizeRender (25)
Art Journal Entry February 17, 2015 ©2015 Louise Gallagher

The poetry of a river
is heard
in the depths
of its joy
flowing freely
into the sea
of life.

The poetry of life
is found
in the river
of joy
flowing endlessly
into the heart
of Love.

I can’t remember where or when I read or heard the line, the poetry of a river,  but I remember thinking, I must remember that, it’s beautiful.

Last night, when I entered the studio to spend some contemplative time, the line appeared and the word/art flowed.

I am grateful for the quiet. For the time to simply be present in front of a blank canvas or journal page.

In the presence of its invitation to let creativity flow, my mind empties and I become full of wonder and awe at how easy it is to find my balance when I let go of holding onto the thought, ‘I must find my balance’.

I am neither out of or in balance. I simply am where ever I am, living whatever label I give myself for where I am.

In letting go of needing to find my balance, I find my path through the questions that are percolating on the edge of my consciousness.

I am in a phase of extreme busy at work right now.

I am planning a large event for 400 people for March 3rd, which entails not only planning for the event, but also editing, publishing, printing a large report along with a website and video. It is work I love but the timeframe to get it all done is very tight given that the date for the event was set at the end of January.

It’s meant some busy days, and as is apparent by the time at which I’m writing, sleepless nights.

Spending time in the studio is essential for me to keep balanced and present. Spending time in the studio is something ‘the critter’ would like me to avoid.

“Just veg out Louise,” he hisses into my left ear when I change out of my work-a-day clothes into my paint splattered comfies. “Go on. Sit in front of the TV and turn your mind off. You don’t need to create.”

Of course, there’s the voice of ‘uber conscientiousness’ trying to cut in too. “Louise. You have not yet read that report on Collective Impact. What is your problem?”

Ever notice how critters and other nefarious voices have a definite style and place? Mine sits on my left shoulder, jumping up and down in its attempts to get me to pay attention, flinging its arms and flapping its tail as it whispers un-sweet ditherings into my ear.

He likes to ensure he’s hard to ignore!

Fortunately, I know what’s good for me even in the face of his insistence he knows better.

Fact is, when immersed in busy, I need to give myself the gift of time to create in order to let go of the pressure building on my list of ‘to do’s’ if I am to avoid the panic that sets in when thinking about all I have yet to get done.

What’s your path to balance? Where do you go to give yourself space to be present?

Safe in this moment of possibility

Walking into the studio to simply be present in its space has been a challenge for me this past week.

Fall has settled in and I have been building a nest to hibernate within, letting go of the possibilities of what comes next.

I resist that walk. I hesitate, tell myself I have other things to do, I’m too tired, too edgy, too anything other than present.

I lose myself into a novel. Turn on the television. Convince myself it’s okay to resist and tumble into that rebellious state where doing what is good for me, what is nurturing and supportive falls short of my conscious decision to not do what I know feeds my spirit.

I have been here before, in this space of rebellious resistance to the things that bring me pleasure, joy, peace, contentment. This place where I resist what opens my heart wide, sets it to beating fearlessly as I move into the flow of creativity coursing through my veins.

I am in my head. Walled up in rebellious denial of my power to walk through the barriers I have placed to keep me out of the heart-space of creativity where I am free to flow in all directions without needing a map, a guidebook, a plan.

In this space I ask myself questions that don’t have answers. They just have rabbit holes down which I slide into perpetual cycling in and out of rationalizing my state of being.

There is only one way to stop spiralling into resistance. Breathe and allow.

Breathe and allow.

Allow what is present without judging it or believing it will be forever.

Now is not forever.

And in the now that is not forever, I find the grace to allow myself to shift from inaction into action.

To turn away from the voice of resistance I must breathe and allow myself the sacred connectedness of sitting in front of a blank page, a white canvas and being present to my fear that what I create is not good enough or not right or that the timing is wrong, that I am not meant to create, or that I am too small to change, or too weak to deal with this state I am in.

There is no right or wrong or enough in creativity and I am never too small, to weak, to nothing. I am all that I am and there is only the act of creating exactly where I am at.  There is only the act of casting words upon a page or throwing paint at a surface upon which I have already begun to tell its story if only to change the story that was present when I walked away from the space of believing in all things are possible.

It is sacred ground this creative space. And I have been holding onto the fear I will fall if I believe in it.

I breathe and allow.

Now is not forever and in this not forever place I let go of my fear of being stuck, of falling and of flying.

I breathe and lovingly acknowledge I have moved away, changed, shifted and am holding onto the fear that nothing is possible. In the nothingness of standing in fear with my eyes closed, I cannot see the light shining.

It is in the fearlessness of those moments, those tender, fragile moments where I fear what might be revealing itself upon the canvas or the page that I must let go of my fear and simply stand confidently and unafraid and do that which I fear the most — trust.

Trust in myself. Trust in being present. Trust in the muse, in creativity, the Universe.

When I trust in what is, in where I am, no matter where I am standing, Love is with me, creativity abounds and possibilities open up in endless gratitude for my being present to each moment unfolding.

I have been amusing myself in the land of darkness. It is time to open my eyes and breathe into my fear. It is time to allow possibility, creativity, hope and joy to surface. It is time to let go and trust, no matter what appears, I am safe in this moment of possibility.

It’s not about finding perfection.

Exploring 1 Art Journal page August 12, 2014
Exploring 1
Art Journal page
August 12, 2014

Like writing, art-making takes a willingness to move through ‘the bad’ to allow the good to appear.

It is not about finding perfection. It’s about finding the perfect moment to breathe into what appears, exactly the way it is and delight in its presence.

I have been exploring art journalling.

Ah, you may ask, what is an art journal?

Like a diary, it incorporates words and enhances/intensifies them with images to tell your story. An art journal can be used to capture creative ideas, document your thoughts, feelings and happenings along life’s journey, experiment with new ideas and techniques (one of my favourites), and/or to be present in the act of creating for the sake of creating.

I have always been hesitant to call myself an ‘artist’. The label triggers long buried memories of being a teen-ager and wanting to paint and draw but feeling inadequate in the presence of schoolmates who were amazingly talented. My desire to ‘look perfect’ right from the get-go stymied my willingness to risk sharing my creations. I judged myself ‘not as good as’ and let my desire to express myself through visual media go.

In my twenties, I dated a man who was a hobby artist. He gave me some oil paints and encouraged me to ‘have fun’. Being seriously confined by my desire to ‘look perfect’, my attempts at painting were far from fun, they were painful.

I gave up that idea along with the boyfriend and focused on my writing.

My discourse on ‘who am I’ became restricted to ‘a writer’. An artist I was not.

And then, my eldest daughter was born and from a very early age she displayed an incredible artistic ability. Her stickmen were not just lines and wobbly circles. They were identifiable human and animal creations in lifelike relief.

One of her favourite summer activities involved my lining the deck railings with drawing paper, filling pots with tempera and setting her free to paint the world in all its colours — She was Frida Kahlo in diapers!

And still, I did not pick up a brush until one day, when she was around 15, she asked if we could go to the art store. She wanted to paint and needed supplies. On a whim, I said, “I think I’ll paint with you,” and my love affair began.

There I was, mid-forties discovering a lie I’d told myself as truth wasn’t true. I was an artist.

And the question became, what other things do I tell myself about myself that limit my experiences simply because I tell myself they’re true? What truths do I not challenge in my quest to stay safe in my limiting beliefs?

After over 7 years of continuous blogging (I started my original blog, Recover Your Joy, on March 10, 2007)  with a post called, Scooping Up The Shadows), I have learned a great deal, met some amazing people and… allowed myself to write bad again and again and again.

Along the way, I’ve created a body of work that is a reflection of who I am, how I am and where I am in the world.

I am not perfect. I am me.

I learnt that from blogging everyday about what it is that makes my world shiny and bright, even when clouds are blocking the sun, even when I’m feeling fuzzy and blue or sunny and free.

It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling, my commitment is to turn up on the page and find the gift in everything. To write through the bad to find the truth and beauty in every aspect of my life.

It is not about finding the perfection. It’s about experiencing creation. All of it. And the act of creation is not a defined art. It is limitless.

I have been exploring art journalling. Some of my pages please me. Some of them give me pause to ponder the gifts of creation. They give me space to ask myself, how willing am I to let go of my need to ‘look perfect’ to simply be present to the perfection of this moment, right now.

I am learning and I am grateful for the gifts I find in every moment.

I am a writer, an artist, a creative spirit finding her expression through shadow and light.

Namaste.

To see my latest journal page and read the poem (created with it, In The Quiet Hours) click HERE.