Tag Archives: Philip Shepherd

The Perfect Beauty of Imperfection

It can be hard sometimes to see that the life we’re living is the perfect life for us.

We tell ourselves, “Life is not a perfect journey,” and then list the reasons that defend our position.

Too often, our expectations of how life ‘should be’ mar our vision of the beauty in the life that is ours. We grade our path as ‘difficult’ and judge it against the ease of another’s. We compare our foothold on planet earth as filled with hard rock stories and bemoan the bounty we see in someone’s soft landing spot. And then, we tell ourselves we’re not ‘the fortunate’. We’re less than, other than, somehow unworthy of a beautiful life. We’re not like ‘those people’ who seem to breeze through life as if they were born to it.

We are all born to live. We are all born to shine.

It’s just sometimes, we peer so long into the darkness, we forget to turn on the lights. Sometimes, the darkness is so deep, we don’t ever remember there being any light.

At my studio table. Works in progress.

Yesterday, immersed in creative exploration, judging, comparing, bemoaning life’s woes fell away.

Carried in the flow of creative expression, time lost its grip. Beginnings and ends of this moment to the next vanished. I was cut loose from Father Time ticking away the minutes and lost myself to floating on the drift of being in the now.

It was bliss.

All that was present was paint flowing and glitter falling wherever it desired — and if you could see my worktable and studio, you’d appreciate how glitter has its own design, crafting its destiny of sparkling up life with joyful élan!

For ten hours I was in the flow, full of contentment, joy, ease. Alive in the present moment, I felt grace infuse each breath with its delicious beauty.

There was no worry. No fear. No anxiety about the outcome. There was just the pure joy of creating and the exhilaration of letting it happen without thinking about where it was all leading.

Sure, I had an idea. A starting point — in this case, 24 clear glass Christmas balls.

And I had some tools — alcohol inks, glue gun, glitter.

And most importantly, I had the open space of time to experiment, to ask myself, “I wonder what would happen if I did…?” and then, the freedom to follow my wonderment.

I had such a day yesterday. A day where all things felt possible because I was in the flow of life, savouring the journey which, rather than perceiving it as separated into distinct moments, felt unseparated from the moment before and the next to come.

And then….

Well, sometimes, the ease and contentment of that long, continuous, blissful moment can feel so fleeting.

This morning, I awakened and realized I needed to do some touch-ups to what I’d created if… and here’s the catch… if I wanted them to ‘look perfect’.

What if I accept they look unique, a perfect reflection of my creative expression in the moment? Because, quite frankly, to see the imperfections you have to compare this morning’s product against last night’s. (Some of the inks flowed down to the bottom of the balls — the glitter’s still in place though!)

Well… here’s my chance to practice what I preach!

What if, I gave up comparison, judgement, expectations of perfection and breathed into the possibility that there is nothing left to be done to create better. There is only this moment to live in the better of all that is possible when I let go of… you got it… comparison, judgement, expectations.

What if… indeed.

Now that would be bliss. That would be life lit up like glitter on a Christmas ball shimmering in the ordinary grace of the present moment.

This morning, I’m going with acceptance.

How blissful!

The Beautiful Oops!

Good Morning Pear
Mixed media on canvas paper.
9 x 12″
©2019 Louise Gallagher

Artist and teacher Bob Ross calls them, “Happy Little Accidents”. I prefer the name Barney Saltzberg uses in his delightful children’s book, Beautiful Oops!

Sometimes, beautiful oops’es create moments where all we want to do is quit. Or throw away whatever we’re working on and start again.

And then, something happens to change our perspective, to open the doors of our limited thinking and suddenly, that “Oh Gawd, what was I thinking?” becomes a heartfelt “Thank you,” to whatever spiritual being, divinity, energy, or absence of, we believe in.

There were so many times while working on the piece pictured above that my thinking mind wanted me to quit. To give up. To say, “Nah. I’ll just move on to something else, or perhaps, I’ll just paint over the whole thing and begin again.”

It’s always a good thing to expect the unexpected when in the creative flow. It seldom disappoints.

Yesterday, as I was deep into my need to organize myself and my art-making into some semblance of orderly process where I was in control and the creative process was under my domain, a voice deep within me whispered, “You’re stuck. Go change the music.”

Walking over to my studio desk, I opened my laptop and thought, “Well, as I’m here I’ll just check my emails.”

And that’s when the magic happened.

At the top of my Inbox was an email from a lovely man I met while at  The Embodied Present Process (TEPP) retreat in October. His email contained a link to a song and its beautiful invitation to “Loosen. Loosen and let go of the weight of the world”.

In need of the distraction, I hit PLAY and suddenly found myself moving and swaying throughout my studio.

Several songs later I had danced my ‘stuckedness out’ and came back to my work table feeling centered and present in the moment.

Present in the moment that is all that is, I loosened my hold on wanting to organize my life and everything in it and let the muse flow freely.

I am grateful.

I kind of like the Good Morning Pear. 🙂 She pleases my heart and calls me deeper into the mystery of the present moment and the magic of creative expression.

Namaste.

 

 

Let Your Dreams Run Away With Your Heart

As I continue to work on developing the materials for the art journaling course I am teaching tomorrow evening at Kensington Art Supply, I am in awe of how the muse, and life, open up full of possibility when I move out of my headspace and into being present with my whole body, mind and spirit and the world around me.

See, being present doesn’t mean we cut off the head to give our bodies control. It means being connected within our whole body and with the world around us, honouring our head brain’s ability to organize and analyze while giving the body, which includes all the senses, and organs, bones, tissues, muscles joints (and the heart) permission to feel into the ‘what is’ of the ‘right now’ and as we expand into being present where ever we’re at.

As I finished working on the piece I created yesterday for the workshop — it is the essence of what we will be working on in the workshop, with participants being guided and encouraged to create their own imagery and words — I didn’t quite know what the quote that underpinned the essence of the painting.

I started to write and thought the quote was, “Let your dreams run away with your heart”.

Nice, my little ole’ head brain thought. Short. Simple. To the point.

And then, I began to write it out. Oh. Oh. The ‘your’ was right under the bottom tip of the painted heart, and the word ‘heart’ had to move up along its right edge.

Oh dear, my facile mind thought. You messed up.

My body expanded into presence. It felt the truth and kept on writing because it knew, the quote wasn’t quite finished writing itself out.

Released from thinking I would have to figure out how to erase/cover up my mistake, suddenly, all the words flowed how they wanted to flow. In this case, up the righthand side of the heart and then back down to the bottom of the page with words that resonated throughout my being.

I didn’t ‘think’ the words into being present. They brought themselves into the moment.

When I looked at the words I was enchanted by the way they flowed up and around and down. Up and around and down again. (In spite of my head brain’s chatter that the words should be facing into the heart, yada yada yada, the symmetry made ‘sense’. The heart is simply the metaphor for being in the flow of creativity, passion, dreaming, living, being. The words are the gateway into possibility – they are not concrete. They are an invitation to let go so that I don’t stay trapped within the head space of thinking my way through living my dreams.)

The flow of the words is also a metaphor. Life is constantly expanding and contracting, in every direction.

Up and down. In and out. Out and In.

Like breath. Like the tides. Like curtains flowing in and out with the breeze blowing in through an open window. Like life.

Ebbing and flowing. Always in motion. Never contracted into this moment right now. Always releasing into the breath carrying us into the next.

Like endings and beginnings. Each ending opening up to the next moment where the beginning meets the ending in a continuous flow of life.

We all have dreams. Ideas. Visions of what we want to create in our world.

To set them free, to release them into action we must let go of thinking we can make it all happen if we just do A. B. C. We must get out of the way of our thinking and release our entire being into the flow of life. In its flow, all things are possible in ways we cannot imagine when we stay trapped in our thinking.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Breathe In Life’s Sacred Nature

Breathe In Life’s Sacred Nature

We dance breathlessly through life praying silently that the meaning of our dance will not be forgotten in the breathtaking beauty of eternity’s endless embrace.

It is not the memory of our dance that makes it unforgettable. It is the wholeness of each breath we give and take that inspires our dance to flow joyfully in eternity’s endless embrace.

Left side of journal page – Life’s Sacred Nature

Embraced in the flow, we let go of having to make meaning of our dance with life and fall with grace into the beauty of our body’s deep awareness that this moment is ours to live with every breath, every step, every cell of our being present attuned to the sacred nature of life.

For our lives to have ‘meaning’, we must accept life has no purpose other than to be life itself. It cannot be anything else. Just as we cannot be a tree, or a bird flying on high. What we can be is in awe of the tree and the bird, honouring their presence by letting go of the thoughts that separate us from experiencing the groundedness of the tree and the flight of the bird.

Right side of journal Page
Life’s Sacred Nature

When we sink from our thinking brains deep into our bellies and all our being to be in felt relationship with the tree and the bird, we become one with the tree and the bird, connected, interdependent, irrevocably threaded into the weave and warp of life flowing all around us. Life where our presence is as integral to life itself as the presence of everyone and everything on this planet.

We humans struggle with this. We imagine ourselves as ‘separate from’ everything and everyone, as we search for ways to make our lives ‘have meaning’, as if there is some magical scroll high up in the cosmos upon which our purpose is inscribed waiting to be divined by some human act of will. Searching for answers, we tell ourselves we have to elevate our awareness high enough to rise into the sea of consciousness all around us as if our thinking is enough to take us into the divine mysteries of life where common sense will prevail and the unknown will become known and our lives will make sense.

Our lives are full of sense and beauty when we live with our whole body attuned to the wonder of the world flowing through us and with us and in us and of us in this moment, right now. Because right now is all we have.

The past is just a memory. It no longer exists and the future has not yet arrived.  We are in the here and now where our purpose is to be fully present in the self of where we are in this moment, letting go of leaning away from living in the past and vainly trying to peer into the future.  We are here to feel our entire being grounded in the deep, dark mysterious beauty of this moment, right now, even in the face of humanity’s often inexplicable nature. We are here to be fully alive in the moment, deeply knowing with all our senses, the mystery, magic and miracle of this life we are living right now.

We are not here to make meaning of life, life is its own meaning. We are here to live the gift of this moment, fully immersed in life’s sacred, majestic and mysterious nature. In this moment, how we dance nor eternity matters. All that matters is that we dance with our whole being flowing with the world around us.

 

 

Love Is There, where ever you are.

My “Inspiration Deck”
Hand-painted cards with words to prompt creative expression.

Sometimes, to ‘loosen the ligaments’ of my creativity, as Virginia Woolf once wrote about keeping a written diary, I pull a card from a creativity deck such as Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way art cards. Or, as I did yesterday, I pull one from the cards I recently created for the art journaling classes I am offering both here in my Wild at Heart Studio and Kensington Art Supply.

The cards I created are mostly single words meant to spark creativity through association and stimulus of non-linear thinking.

The first word I pulled yesterday was ‘Earth’. When I let myself become present in the word, I saw (in my mind’s eye) the big ball of the earth spinning through space. I also saw the sky, greenery, water.

Wanting to deepen my journal process, I pulled two additional cards: Explore. Heart.

And then… the fun began.

No matter where you go in the world, Love is there, where ever you are.

As this art journal is an example of ‘the possibilities’ for my art journaling course on Nov 19, and each two-page spread uses a different medium(s), this page was to demonstrate the possibilities of using only one medium – ink.

I dropped some yellow and blue inks on the page, squirted some water at the inks, brought the two sides of the book together and squished the pages against one another, á la Rorschach. Next, I took a damp paper towel and moved the ink out towards the edges of the pages, as well as pulled off some of the ink onto secondary sheets of paper I always keep on hand, just in case. In this case, because I had too much ink on the pages, I needed to remove some of it. (The extra sheets will become part of some other art expression.)

Left page spread

All of that was done intuitively. I had no ‘plan’ when I began. I didn’t even know the colours I’d be using, just the medium.

And that’s the point of art journaling. It’s not about ‘making art’. It’s about expression.

In this case, two things happened as I kept creating. 1. I collaged in some papers I liked.

Right page spread

2. I used a stencil of the world to connect to ‘earth’ I wanted to use orange ink but didn’t have any spray orange ink so, I sprayed it with purple ink instead.

Using a black pencil, I wrote along the outside of the map and highlighted the countries and grid with white ink.

And voilá!

My journal page is completed in under an hour.

And here’s the thing. In creating it, I didn’t ‘know’ the theme, nor what the quote would be before I began working. I let the process guide me as opposed to me directing the process.

And yes, there’s a country or two missing from my globe because the purple bled into their space when I sprayed.

It’s okay. It’s not about ‘perfection’. It’s all about expression.

And for me, the reminder that no matter where I am in the world, Love is there too, inspires me to stay with the flow of life. In that space I do not have to consciously trust that Love is underpinning everything. It is a felt relationship I experience as true.

This means, sitting at my desk, I am in relationship with the two squirrels who are making me smile as I watch them chase one another up a tree trunk outside my window while I type. They are also part of Love’s everywhere present, as is the river flowing past and the traffic driving across the bridge and the trees standing tall along the river bank and that person walking across the pedestrian bridge towards Bowness and… you get the picture.

And… I need to say “Thank you Grade 10 typing class”. Because of that experience many years ago, I can touch type today, which frees me to lift my head from my computer screen to watch the river flow past and the squirrels play without having to watch my fingers on the keyboard!)

You know. It’s kind of a magnificent day to be alive today! I’m so grateful.

Namaste.

 

Why I didn’t quit.

Open Windows. Limitless Possibilities.
Art Journal Pages. Nov 7

I almost did. Quit.

At the midway point of creating yesterday’s spread in the art journal I’m creating for the course I’m leading at Kensington Art on November 19, I got stuck in the “Yuck. What a mess.” and wanted to give up.

I had a vision in mind when I began. A series of window panes that represent the theme of the page — Perspective.

Yuck. I Can’t Feel You.
The point of wanting to quit.

I’d carefully cut out papers I’d mono-printed designs on and then, realizing the perspective was too ‘colour same’ I’d cut out a few squares from a book.

Yes!  That works.

But, once I’d glued down the squares, it didn’t. Work. In fact, it looked discordant. Messy. It wasn’t calling to me. There was no harmony within me or on the page.

I was too close to ‘my idea’ and unable to see beyond what I’d wanted to achieve in my mind, versus what the muse was calling for me to release from deep within me.

I took Beaumont the Sheepadoodle for a walk and as I stood in the woods, listening to the sounds, feeling the warm(ish) November air against my face and watching Beaumont race through the snow, I felt better. Less agitated. More centered.

Left page spread

As we walked the trails along the river, I practiced a process I’d learned at the week-long The Embodied Present Process workshop I attended in Ontario two weeks ago. To release the breath within my pelvic bowl, to bring my awareness out of my ‘head brain’ down into my belly and then, to walk, stop and where ever I stood, look around me and say, “I am here.”

Occasionally I incorporated another process and said to Beaumont, the trees, the grasses, “I am another you.”

It was magical and mystical.

I was present to and within what Philip Shepherd, the facilitator and author of Radical Wholeness calls, ‘felt relationship’ with the world around me.

Right Page Spread

Regenerated, I came back to my studio not so much knowing what to do to fix my messy page spread, but feeling at one with its chaos and willing to move through continued creation to resolution.

I’m grateful I persisted. I’m grateful I remembered to bring my awareness back to my pelvic bowl so that I could feel, rather than think my way into being present. Fact is, thinking my way into anything has never worked that well for me anyway so why keep doing it? 🙂

Feeling my way, being present to the moment, creates space for me to experience being with the world and the world flowing through me in new and life-giving ways.

In the end, a bird flew in through one of the windows on my page and landed on a branch of a tree bringing me back to the present moment of creation.

What in my head had appeared as a chaotic and frustrating experience transformed itself into a totally delightful and divine afternoon in my studio.

From ‘I’m quitting’ to ‘I am here’ opened up all the windows of my page, creating possibilities I couldn’t imagine until I let go of my thinking and dropped down into the font of my creativity deep within my belly. In that space, all my senses opened up to the beauty and wonder of the moment, and everything shifted.

Magical and mystical indeed!

.

 

Suspended

 

Suspended
I hold onto nothing
but nature.
Suspended
nature flows
through me.