Heeding the Muse’s Calling.

Alochol ink on Yupo paper
5 x 7″
2019 Louise Gallagher

I created yesterday. Spent the day in my studio immersed in colour and texture and tone and joy. I gave way to the muse and let my senses be inspired by the calling of the wild.

Originally, I had planned on taking Friday off in preparation for the Art Show I’m in May 10 – 11. And then, a couple of meetings got scheduled that I needed to attend in preparation for the new Executive Director’s arrival at the family homeless shelter where I work, and I decided to switch up my schedule.

I’m grateful I heeded the guidance of the Artist’s Way Creativity Card I pulled in the morning, “We must have the patience to listen to ourselves carefully.”

In the past, I probably would have just let my day off go. I would have told myself, “It’s okay. Work comes first.” It was easier to give into the belief “I need to be at work” than to ask myself, “What do I need?”

Yesterday, even though I was up and getting ready for my day, I decided to stop and listen. I took my day-off yesterday.

It was soul-enriching.

The beauty of coming to the end of my tenure in this role as Interim Executive Director, and of having my ‘rejuvenation through retirement’ on the near horizon is that I am continually working on releasing.

Releasing my need to be involved in everything.

Releasing my compulsion to think about work 24/7. To check emails on weekends and the evenings. To respond to phone calls out of office hours, unless it’s an emergency.

I am releasing.

It is a process. One that I am consciously engaging with in order to ensure that as I transition from 9 to 5  to I’m on my rejuvenation time, I am building my resiliency muscles in preparation of open space.

It is something I’m learning I need to do as I listen deeply to the messages within me that percolate into consciousness as I explore what it means to be leaving the full-time workforce for this yet undefined space of retirement.

I think, buried deep within me, is the fear that with open space I’ll do nothing with my life.

And doing something with my life has been a life-long driving force within me.

Which makes me smile and do a little happy dance as I acknowledge the dichotomy of that belief! I love living a life of purpose. I just don’t think it’s healthy to believe, as I have tended to do, that living ‘on purpose‘ is what makes my life and me, have meaning.

My purpose isn’t to make meaning or even to give meaning to my life. Every life has meaning because every life is important.

The purpose of being alive isn’t to live each moment on purpose. It’s to be purposeful in living each moment, taking each breath so that we can each live, actively engaged within the light and darkness of our lives, savouring the ascents and descents, the intricacies and simplicities.

Sometimes, my capacity to be actively engaged will be at 3. Sometimes at 10. And that’s okay as long as I am consciously living my 3 or 10 with love.

Ultimately, life’s meaning is not found in what we do. Its richness is discovered in the love that fills our hearts as we live each day.  It’s the how not the what.

We do not need to give meaning to our lives nor make meaning happen in our lives. The meaning is already there in our human presence.

As I’m learning as I journey along this transition road, life isn’t about filling each moment with things to do. It’s to be conscious of the value of the things I chose to do and to cherish the joy of being present in doing them.



Wide open spaces of possibility and other vistas

Alcohol Ink on Yupo 11 x 14″ 2019 Louise Gallagher

I played yesterday. I set aside my list of ‘todo’s’ and immersed myself in the pure joy of spreading colour and texture upon a canvas. Well, Yupo paper to be exact.

Yupo paper is a synthetic sheet of plastic that alcohol inks do not soak into but instead, float on the surface until they dry. It’s what gives them such vibrancy and unpredictability. That, and their chemical make-up.

My chemical make-up has been struggling with the fears, tears, frustrations, angst of imminent retirement. I smile as I read back on what I just wrote. This having an end date without a ‘destination’ is rather daunting! And while I am excited, thrilled, filled with anticipation and joy, this transition time also has its ennui.

Who am I without my title? Who am I without a place to be every day?  People expecting me to turn up, have answers, make decisions, make things happen?

And while I know the answer is “I am all of me and then some”, there is still this place of angst to navigate and cross-over.

It is a threshold. It is part of living because life is filled with thresholds.  Some easier to cross than others. Some harder.

In a workshop I recently took with the incredible Kelly Lee Bennett , she encouraged each of us to create a list of 100 Aspirations.

At lunch last weekend with my beautiful friend Kerry Parsons, she encourged me to leave off determining the ‘how’ of my aspirations until after I’ve spent the summer enjoying life, savouring downtime and alone time and time to play with my grandson and my creativity. “Can you give yourself space to just be present without having to set any goals?” she asked me.

Goals are the ‘how’ of my aspirations. They are the concrete, measurable steps I need to take to create reality to the things to which I aspire.

Aspirations are my ‘why’, my heart-driven, emotional sometimes whimsical thoughts of what I’d love to create in my world if…. my life were ideal, my world perfect. I was living my dreams.

Goals are factual. Aspirations are an expression of my inner self, my feelings and emotions.

Since moving into this home a year ago, I have been planning on having our builder come back to build out my studio space downstairs. One of the deterents has been C.C. and my conversatoins on where to put the studio versus where to put his ‘den’. You know that man cave where he watches sports, drinks beer and throws peanut shells on the floor — okay the throwing peanut shell bit is not true but it paints a true picture of what the space is for.

I need light.

He needs…. whatever light he feels like turning on.

Hence, the debate has been studio in the front end of the downstairs walkout leading to the river or, in the farside where there are no windows.

Not having the studio builtout has resulted in my using the kitchen island as my makeshift studio. It’s 14 feet long so there’s lots of room to paint and cook, but, I do put everything back at the end of every painting session simply becuase I don’t like the mess.

It’s also meant I haven’t had much space to work with anything other than the inks.

Yesterday, I jettison  my ‘to do list’ in favour of creating a space in the walk-out side of the downstairs for me to paint. (You know, the ‘to hell with waiting to make the decision, I’ll just take matters into my own hands’ kind of move that gets one thing done immediately — and leaves the rest of what needs to be decided until later.)

I am grateful. Relieved. Happy.

Something in my heart went click, like the tumblers in a safe’s combination falling into place.

I have a space, a place. To create in. To dream in. To aspire in.

I have an artist’s space.

It is filled with light. Beauty. Possibility.

I threw away my ‘to do’ list yesterday. I played with inks and then, decided to get busy creating for myself a space where I can come home to the canvas, to my art journal pages to find myself at ease, inspired by the sheer joy of letting my creative expressoins flow freely.

Hello retirement!  Or, as Thelma Box, founder of Choices Seminars calls it, ‘Refirement’.  I am all fired up about the wide open terrain before me as I step lightly into the undefined, unmapped possibilities of my life.