January’s #ShePersisted Woman – 12 Days of A Calendar

January Woman #ShePersisted Series 2021 Calendar

There was a time when my silence caused me pain. When speaking up felt too dangerous, too complicated.

My critter mind kept repeating, “Speaking up makes you a target. Be quiet.”

Fortunately, the critter and I have evolved and while it still likes to have its say, the voice of inner wisdom has the vote that counts.

And that vote is always to support me in living true to who I am. To my values, principles and beliefs.

Which is why the January Woman is such a powerful message for me.

My voice matters. Your voice matters. All our voices matter. Even those I don’t agree with. We all matter.

My job isn’t to teach others how to speak up. It’s to ensure that when I speak, my voice fosters truth, honesty, respect and kindness.

For years, I had a note posted above my desk that read: It’s my responsibility to turn up, pay attention, speak my truth (with loving-kindness) and stay unattached to the outcome.

Not always easy.

Sometimes, I want to scream at the world to stop being so blind, so cruel, so ugly.

Sometimes, I want my voice to matter more.

A few years ago, while doing community engagement work for a not-for-profit that managed housing for individuals exiting homelessness, I faced an angry crowd who had convened a Town Hall to share their opposition to the NFP’s apartment building in their community.

At our first meeting together I was confronted with about sixty people, the majority of whom did not want the people living in the apartment building anywhere near their families, homes, lives.

They screamed and yelled and threw insults while I stood alone at the front of the room.

Whenever I had the chance to speak, I calmly asked people to please not yell. “I can’t hear you when you yell,” I said. “And I really want to hear what you have to say.”

I repeated my request several times over the 2 hour meeting and while I can’t say it was easy, I do know it turned out better than if I’d put up a wall of defences around me, Stood in silence or yelled back or stormed out of the meeting.

My putting up a wall of defences would have prevented me from being present to their fear, confusion, worry, anxiety.

My standing in silence would have meant I was standing in fear which would have added to the fear already present in the room.

My yelling back would have inflamed the situation more as would walking out (though there were moments it was all I wanted to do).

Every voice in that room mattered. Every voice deserved to be heard — and the fact is – I can’t hear people when they’re yelling at me (I don’t think many of us can). My mind shuts down, my body tenses and my heart races as my fear rises up to swallow me whole.

I wasn’t there to stop people from speaking up.

I was there to create space for every voice to be heard. Including mine.

I was there to listen to everything they had to say. To their fears and concerns as well as their ideas on how ‘the problem’ could be fixed.

And while the solution was not what they originally wanted, (move out), over time, through keeping the conversation going, respectful interactions and opening up to possibility, the outcome became something far better than could have been imagined in that original meeting — a community where everyone felt safe. Where differences were accepted and where every voice mattered.

In the past, I have lowered my voice and stayed silent when fear engulfed me.

In the past, I have flung my anger at others like daggers to their heart.

In the past, I have used my voice without conscious choice.

No more.

Today, I choose to keep my voice raised to create a more loving and kinder world.

Today, I choose to drop the daggers and instead, fling my words out into the world like a fisherwoman casting a net of silk onto the seas full of the hope that what I cast out will calm turbulent waters and bring back to me tenfold what I send out. Love.

__________________________

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/dareboldlyart

No. Never. No More. (#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.

What if… your truth matters?

Walking on the edge of infinity she saw her life unravel like a river flowing endlessly into the sea.

Walking on the edge
of infinity
she saw her life
unravel
like a river
flowing endlessly
into the sea.

Mixed media on water colour paper
©2016 Louise Gallagher

A friend is telling me of a conversation they are afraid to initiate with a loved one. They are in pain. Feeling sad. Broken. Confused.

What is the worst that could happen if you have the conversation? I ask.

And they tell me of their fear that their loved one will get angry. Storm out. Deny. Refuse. Reject.

What is the worst that could happen if you don’t have the conversation? I ask next.

And their shoulders slump, their eyes close momentarily and they breathe a deep, sadness-tinged sigh and whisper, “Nothing will change.”

So often, we see a situation through the eyes of our fear of what the other will do, how they will respond or react when we speak up, challenge the status quo or ask for what we want. In our fixation on their behaviour, we forget to look at how  our feelings are the result of our silence, not someone else’s behaviour. How our silence is the thing that is trapping us in the place of inaction and inertia, keeping us stuck in believing ‘there is no point’, no hope, no possibility of different. In our silence, we put power and control in the hands of another, and blame them for making us feel… less than, bad, helpless…

When I let go of blaming another for my feelings, I give myself the grace to turn up for me. I allow my courage to draw me out of confusion and drive fear away.

When I turn up, pay attention, lovingly speak my truth and stay unattached to the outcome, I am powerful beyond my wildest imaginings. In that place of surrendering my fear and turning up in courage, anything is possible. Hearts can break down walls, close gaps in understanding and break-through to clarity, connectedness and commitment. In that place, I am free to be me without fearing my truth is not allowed, my needs not acceptable, my dreams not worthy.

What if, I asked my friend, you chose to break your silence to invite the other to step into a sacred circle of love where truth-telling does not wound and is so powerful it draws you ever closer together?

What if, you accepted your truth matters? It is as important, relevant, necessary as another’s?

What if, you believed you have the right to speak up? Ask for what you want? Be present?

What if, you believed you are worthy? What would you do differently?

What if, we all believed we are worthy of speaking our truth and living this one precious life as if every life matters, every voice counts, every truth makes a difference and has the capacity to make the world a better place?

What would we do differently?