Time to stop not missing the missing pieces

I have been suffering (and I pause and look at that word and wonder, am I really suffering or is it just a mere annoyance?) …

I have been annoyed by what I am calling my ‘Covid-brain’. A sort of spongy, mushy, sieve-y brain that forgets the simplest of things and has difficulty focusing.

Can you relate?

Why, just yesterday, I dropped off a bag of goodies at a friends and left before she could come to the door. (I kind of like the randomness of it all) A while later, when I realized I had missed her call because I’d forgotten my phone was on silent (again), I called back and she thanked me for the parcel.

“I’m curious though,” she said. “I’m not sure what you want me to do with these two envelopes addressed to…” and she named the recipients.

“Oh no!” I exclaimed into the phone. “I had put them in the bag while I took everything to the car. I was going to drop them into a mailbox on my way over.”

I, of course, had totally forgotten. Not just the ‘drop in mailbox’ part but the fact the envelopes were even in the bag.

Fortunately, my girlfriend offered to drop them into the mailbox. Crisis averted.

It is happening a lot. This forgetting things. The being half way through a task and getting distracted by another.

Even my Netflix viewing is under the thrall of my ‘Covid-brain’. Last night, deciding it was a good time to douse myself in Christmas romance, I was 20 minutes into a movie before I remembered I’d watched it just a few nights ago. And don’t get me started about the movies waiting for me in my ‘Continue Watching’ folder. That one’s even longer than Santa’s naughty list!

Some of it, I think, is because I am constantly dancing between the pull of diving deep into my favourite time of the year and having to push myself into doing anything remotely connected to ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

Take my shopping list.

I don’t have one.

Yup. You read that right. I haven’t even made a list of names and gift ideas this year. Heck, I’ve barely bought a gift! Though I did manage to get some parcels shipped off early enough they might even make it before the big day!

Though even there, Covid-brain slithered in with its nasty habit of stealing my memory away. In this case, a girlfriend had offered to ship some gifts with hers as she had someone at work who was doing all the post-office, standing-in-line related activities.

“Awesome!” I told her and promised to get them to her by end of week.

In the interim, I packaged up the parcel, got it all ready to go days before I had to drop it off. And then…

Well, let’s just say I saw the box sitting on the counter and asked my beloved if he’d take it to FedEx.

Totally, I mean totally, forgot about my girlfriend’s offer.

Sigh.

It has been an unusual holiday season. Okay. Unusual year.

The quietness of the house. The lack of comings and goings. Of friends dropping in and family gatherings, planned and impromptu. The busyness of going to the mall or favourite shops to browse aisles filled with tempting ideas on what to give that special someone who has everything, but not that. The rushing about. The wrapping and carefully placing each gift under the tree. The anticipation of watching faces light up. The hugs. The sharing of Champagne toasts and special dinners with friends in their homes, or ours or even a restaurant.

My mind is so full of not missing ‘the missing pieces’ it is struggling with staying focused on what is most important.

And as I go to write what is most important, I realize that is where I need to change the story in my heart. Covid-brain or not.

See, the story in my heart is all about the love and joy of celebrating this special time of year with family and friends. It’s all about the excitement of finding that perfect gift for the ones I love. Of making those perfect somethings to nibble on over a glass of bubbly with a girlfriend I haven’t seen in a long while. Of lunch and shopping with a friend. Of watching my favourite Christmas movie with my daughters. Of driving around looking at Christmas lights and singing Christmas songs in the car. Of setting the table and dressing it up all pretty and bright for dinner and the multitude of things that make time with family and friends so special.

That story is not a possibility this year. Health matters must come first. Which means, it is time to re-write the story I hold dear to my heart. If only for this one season.

And so, I let it go.

The working on not missing the missing pieces.

They’re not missing pieces. They’re just not in the story of Christmas this year.

Without having to spend so much energy working on not missing the missing pieces, I free up my mind-space to make room for the things I can do that still speak to the love and joy I feel at this most wonderful time of the year — like make those cookies I’ve been putting off to give to neighbours. Like sending out those cards I haven’t yet sent!

See, in working on not missing the missing pieces, I have put my attention on what is wrong with this holiday season and not all that is right.

All that is right is we are well and healthy. Our families are well and healthy. Our friends are well and healthy.

The gift we give each other this year is the gift of good health. By staying apart, by celebrating separately, we are gifting each other, life without Covid.

What an amazing gift!

And if I focus on that, if I stop thinking about all the things that are missing and having to then remind myself to not think about all the things that are missing, I am free to celebrate and enjoy and savour this gift of well-being that is a true expression of the greatest gift of all…

Love.

Namaste

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And yes, I have immersed myself in creating more bookmarks. Their creation fills my heart with joy and pulls me out of focusing on thoughts of how to not miss the missing so that I can breathe once again into the beauty of all that is present, right here, right now.

The Quiet Whispers

Listen to the quiet whispers of your heart. They are your heartsong yearning to be set free. Sheltered Wonder Art Journal – pages 26 – 27

In my 40s I decided to join my then teenage daughter in painting.

It changed my life. It also gave me a valuable lesson in How to Hear the Quiet Whispers of Your Heart.

Don’t believe everything you tell yourself about yourself.

When I started painting, I had spent most of my life telling myself I had no artistic talent. I thought it was true.

Committing myself to exploring my painterly ways in my 40s taught me that I was not always right. That in fact, the things I tell myself about myself are often based on my fears, not my heartfelt desire to live a true and authentic life. And, often, when I say, “I can’t do that” what I’m really saying is I’m afraid of looking stupid. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid it won’t be perfect.

Which brings me to the second thing I learned about How to Hear the Whispers of Your Heart.

Get rid of ‘Can’t’.

Can’t is an easy way to let yourself off the hook of turning up for yourself in your life where ever you are, however you are, even in your fear.

If you’ve never done something before and you catch yourself saying, “I can’t do that”, challenge yourself. Allow yourself the grace of doing it imperfectly.

When I said, “I have no artistic ability” I was really just giving myself a soft landing and an excuse not to try something new. Sure, when I look back on some of my earlier pieces I can see how little I knew about colour, composition, light, depth – everything. But, if I’d never picked up that brush, I’d have missed out on the immense pleasure I’ve experienced over the years of creating art that speaks to and from my heart.

In the process, I’ve learned lots about colour, composition… and I’ve strengthened my creative voice and found incredible joy rising up from within the depths of my being.

I still sometimes catch myself saying, “I can’t…” That’s when I must listen for my heart’s whispers by reframing the ‘can’t into an invitation… “I have never tried that before. I wonder what will happen when I do?”

Which of course, brings me to the most important thing I’ve learned as ‘a creative’.

Listen for your heart’s whispers.

Your heart knows best. It is wise. It is loving.

The heart speaks in loving whispers, not angry shouts. Sometimes, you have to listen really deeply for the whispers because the fear that lives at the base of your skull shouts so loud it can be confused as ‘the truth’. In fear’s strident nature, it can become a habit to allow fear to drown out your heart’s quiet truth.

The way to tell the difference between heart truth and fear posing as truth is to ask yourself, “Does this voice hurt me or inspire me?”

If you hear angry, loud messages that are telling you you’re not going to make it, you’re not good enough, you’re stupid or anything negative and hurtful, it’s important to acknowledge that it is fear having its way with your real truth – you are worthy. You are good enough. You are magnificent, brilliant, a shining light.

In those moments when you realize the shouting within is becoming the ‘truth’ you’re accepting as yours – Stop. Breathe. Listen. Deeply. And ask yourself ‘Wonder Questions’… “I wonder what is really true here?” “I wonder what will happen if I just… step here, do this, experiment with this idea, stop listening to ‘can’t’…

Develop the practice of allowing the ‘shouts’ within to become an invitation to get still and listen for the quiet whispers of your heart.

Remember — The heart speaks in loving whispers, not angry shouts. Listen for its whispers.

Years ago, I did something I didn’t believe I could. I started to paint. My life is so much richer, vibrant, loving because I risked turning ‘can’t’ into possibility.

What about you? Are there ‘can’ts’ in your life yearning to be transformed?

Listen to the quiet whispers of your heart.

Namaste.

In the studio. I am free.

Your Heart Knows
Mixed Media
11 x 14″ on canvas paper
©2020 Louise Gallagher

Listen to the beat of your heart.
It is unique.
It is your song of joy.

There is a song in every heart, a unique, precious beat that calls each of us to come alive, to ‘live true’, to walk our own path, dance our own song.

In the studio, there are few questions about what is ‘true’ for me. There is only what is appearing as my thinking mind quietens and I sink into the embodied present where I am connected through and to all of life. Immersed in the process, my intuitive being guides me as I fearlessly throw colour and texture onto the canvas.

In the studio, there are few questions about right and wrong, is this best, is this going to work, what do I do next?

In the studio, I feel safe to feel, to hear my heartbeat, my intuition, my deep inner knowing.

In the studio I am free.

Time in the studio teaches me about life, about living true through being who I am without worrying about being someone else, some other way, some other person’s or society’s idea of what is best for me. Unfettered by concerns of the ‘outside’, I listen into the rhythm of my heart and allow all my senses to awaken.

Being in the studio I come alive.

Take the painting above. I had zero idea as to what I was creating yesterday when I began. Much of the painting is the result of a ‘happy accident’ along with a bit of impatience on my part.

I’d begun the day creating backgrounds on deli paper — it’s a wonderful free-fall process of putting paint onto a Gelli Print Pad, making marks and pulling off prints. The deli paper is ideal as it’s relatively translucent and much stronger than tissue paper which tends to tear when it gets wet.

As a girlfriend had joined me in the studio I was showing her how to create a background painting and then collage in the deli paper prints to create interest and texture. Because I was impatient, the printed heart I’d used was still wet when I applied gel medium to get it to adhere to my painted background.

Most of the paint lifted off and suddenly, I had a whole new ‘look and feel’ to work with — as in, the heart became a different colour, was larger than originally intended and had some interesting marks in it that weren’t there when I first began.

From that point, adding colour, more marks, more pieces of printed deli paper along with collaging in bits of ephemera was pure fun – no plan, no ‘thinking’, just playing.

I may still go in and work on it some more. Play with gold. Maybe some white because the beauty of intuitive painting is – ‘done’ is just a relative term. I’m not seeking a final product. I’m breathing through the process, exploring my intuition, relishing the expression of ideas transformed into energy on the canvas and living through the process of expressing what is present. Not a version of what I want it to be but rather, guiding it into becoming what is seeking to express itself through me.

I played in the studio yesterday.

In the studio I am free.

Heart Songs and other Creative Expressions

When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.  Pablo Picasso

When I was a child, my sister and I spent hours re-enacting scenes from our favourite movies. Gone with the Wind. The Parent Trap. We knew all the characters, all the parts and we each had our favourites.

It didn’t matter that our stage was a stretch of lawn or that Tara was a sheet draped over a tree or that we each had to play three or four different parts, differentiating the characters only through our voices as we didn’t have time to change wardrobe —  we didn’t really have any wardrobe to change into anyway. This was a low budget reproduction — very creative, just not very accurate.

But none of that mattered. What mattered most was that we spent the time together. Laughing. Sharing. Creating.

When I was a child, I liked to draw. To sing and dance and to play piano. I liked to write and make up stories. To play dolls and Tag! You’re It! or Red Rover! Red Rover!

It didn’t matter to me what the game or activity. What mattered most was that I was playing and being creative. Expressing myself through arts of all nature and having fun.

And then, I grew up.

I still liked to write. To create. To make something out of nothing.

But the tone was different. There was something lacking in my creation. And the fun seemed to have evaporated with the passing of years.

I kept thinking, whatever I was doing, it needed to have ‘A Purpose.’

To create for creation sake just didn’t seem to be viable, make sense, have meaning. If I was painting, there needed to be a reason. If I was writing, there needed to be a message. And, if I was dancing, there needed to be ‘the right steps’.

I’ve grown beyond those ‘grown-up’ days of believing I need ‘A Purpose’ to my art. I’ve grown beyond thinking there are right steps, wrong moves, perfect brushstrokes or perfectly turned phrases.

I’ve grown into being me. Creatively. Expressively. Passionately.

Today, I know that at my core I am a creative being. That life is an act of creation.

Today, I express myself in ways that fulfill on my belief, and need, to create beauty in the world around me simply by being open to play and having fun being creative.

Today, I let go of the right steps and move with grace and ease into being each step I take to create beauty in the world around me through all my creative expressions.

There’s freedom in each movement. Freedom in being my creative self.

There’s joy in knowing every breath I take is an act of creation. Every step I take is an expression of the beauty I want to create in the world.

And most of all, there’s peace in being at ease with me and all my creative expressions.

What about you? Are you willing to create for no purpose other than to allow for your creative urges to be expressed?

Are you able to hear your HeartSong calling you to dance, leap, spin about and paint the world in all the colours of your soul’s expression?

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This post is an edited repost of one originally posted on my former blog, Recover Your Joy. For me, it never gets old as it serves as a good reminder (after having spent all day yesterday in bed easing a fluish bug out of my system) to immerse myself in creative expression today, just for the fun of it!

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If you’re interested in joining me for an afternoon of fun and creative play, please check out the half day workshop I’m offering October 26th in the Wild At Heart Studio. Come Play! Come discover Your Heart Song!   (Space is limited and the workshop is almost full)

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!)

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