Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Lessons from in front of the easel.

They said climb too high, you will fall. She fell, again and again, and learned how to fly.

They said climb too high, you will fall.
She fell, again and again, and learned how to fly.

I painted and glazed and used my Gelli pad (a rubbery pad used for print making — I love it!) and splashed some more paint and really, really was into the moment, just diving into the creative process, letting the muse have her way when… who should appear? That nasty little voice in my head, (you know that critter guy who likes to interfere with joyful pursuits just to make sure you’re not getting too full of savouring and loving life)… Yeah him… well he piped in and said, “You think you know what you’re doing. You don’t. You’re going to mess it up. You’re just kidding yourself. You haven’t got a clue about what you’re doing…”

That was to have been the theme for the 13th painting in my #ShePersisted series. “They said she didn’t know what she was doing. She turned their world upside down.”

Which is why, the woman who is falling in the painting was actually turning a cartwheel originally.

And then, the birds appeared.

And then, I remembered a couple of ideas two friends shared with me on FB for a quote for one of the paintings, and suddenly, cartwheels turned to a woman falling and learning to fly. (Thank you Sheila K. and Sandra R)

And that is how the creative process works.

Two ideas became one, emerging out of another.

It is what is continuing to compel me to create this series. I am not in control. I am not the ‘creator’. I am simply the conduit for the muse to express herself through me.

And it can be tiring. Or so I tell myself until I recognize that thought as the critter’s subtle attempt to get me to stop. “You really don’t know what you’re doing,” he hisses. “Stop it.”

No. I won’t.

I will not give into the critter, even when he is stomping his feet and telling me to stop painting. Stop creating. Like he tried last night.

And that is the lesson I found waiting for me in front of the easel last night.

The critter is just a voice in my head. He is not real. He is a creation of my reptilian mind, rising up out of the ages. Carrying generations of familial messages, trauma, hurts and pains.

Sure, in a not so nice way, he’s trying to keep me safe. He’s trying to protect me.

He forgets. I am no longer foraging for grains, living in a cave, peering into a fire that I keep burning all night to ward off animals and evil spirits.

I have evolved. I am here, right now, a powerful woman capable of expressing myself fearlessly. I have my own voice. My own opinions. My own thoughts. And, I am powerful beyond my own imaginings!

Once upon a time, the critter and I were one. He was important to my survival.

I survived the dark ages. It’s time for both of us to come into the light.

 

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The series #ShePersisted can be viewed on my website, HERE.

 


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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.


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On my mat, there is no room for fear.

I am hot. Sweating hot. It drips off my chin. It runs down my back.

I am lying on my mat, my feet, thighs, stomach, shoulders, arms, left ear pressed to the mat.

It is almost over. I am almost at the end.

I let the thought go.

It is not about beginning and endings. It is about this moment right now. Being present.

That was my intention when the yoga class had begun 70 minutes earlier. To be present.

I want to review my process but remember the instructor’s words at the beginning of the class. Yoga is not a competition. There is no judgment in yoga. There is only you and your body, present in the moment.

It is my fifth hot yoga class in five days.

I have set an intention to be present on my mat at least five days of the week.

I smile to myself. I wonder if my week began last week or if this day is the beginning of my new week.

Dang. There goes my mind. Off on a little jaunt.

I breathe. Bring myself into my breath. In. Out. Breathe in Love. Exhale gratitude. A continuous circle of renewable energy filling me up with all that I need to be present in my practice and my day.

I am relatively new to yoga.

I have intermittently practiced it over the years, okay more off than on, and have only come to the mat with any intention recently.

Yoga was never fast enough for me. Hard enough. It wasn’t filled with pounding feet and racing heartbeats and if I didn’t feel like I’d run a marathon, what was the point of doing it?

I am learning the truth. After thousands of miles hitting the pavement, my knees and joints are grateful. Yoga is about presence. Strengthening and lengthening. It is about the moment, not the destination.

I look around the class. Candles flicker on wooden blocks set into one wall. The lights are semi-dim. Bodies lay supine on multi-colours of mats spread out throughout the room.

There is peace here. Contentment.

And the gratification of a hard workout.

Oops. There I go again. Looking for the win.

I bring my thoughts back to my breath.

I give a quick scan of my body for points of tension.

I meet myself where I’m at.

I feel present. Relaxed. Strong.

The instructor invites us into the frog pose.

I have forgotten my towel. For a moment my mind races with concerns around pressing my upper body into bare floor.

I am dripping. Wet. The scooped neckline of my t-shirt soaked. The nape of my hair soggy.

I move into the pose, my torso pressing down through my knees on the mat, my upper body cradled between my splayed out arms. I rest my forehead on my hands.

I breathe into the pose. I smile as my mind imagines a bullfrog sitting on a lily pad. He gives one giant croak as his tongue whips out to capture a passing fly.

I breathe in. Pull up slightly from my bend and exhale as I deepen once again into the pose. I am seeking the comfort of no tension (not to mention no frogs catching flies).

“I like to read a verse as we finish off the pose,” the instructor says, her voice a melodic chant high above my head. There is a slight burble of laughter in her voice. “It’s a good way to distract your thinking as you hold the frog.”

I smile.

“Fear or Love,” she reads.

I listen, my mind forgetting the discomfort my body is starting to feel as it pushes itself over the edge of what it knows is possible into holding the pose longer than it thought it could.

I listen and smile again. No matter what you choose to do, ask yourself if you are doing it through fear, or love.

Do you  work because you are afraid of poverty or do you do work for the love of doing something worthwhile, contributory?

Do you fear not having food and a roof over your family’s head, or do you provide for them as an expression of your love?

No matter what you do, let go of fear and move through love.

I began my practice afraid I would not be able to do it. That I would look ridiculous compared to the other supple and toned (and did I mention youthful?) bodies in the class.

I let go of my fear.

I am here on my mat because I love my body and want to provide it what it needs. I want to take care of it so that it can carry me through my days effortlessly and with grace.

I came to my mat, my mind filled with fearful thoughts of how less than the others I was.

There is no less than on my mat. There is no room for fear. There is only Love.

Namaste.

PS — do try out  Calgary Hot Yoga.  Great studio!