Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Dance and Awaken

No. 26 – #ShePersisted Series

Dance and Awaken
©2018 Louise Gallagher

to forgive
dawn
breaking
hearts bleeding
upon the sunset
blistering heat
bruised
purple rose
the horizon
far off
far away
a dream
of happily ever-after
lost
never to rise
a new day
breaks in darkness
never to be
awoken

to accept
dawn’s awakening
the moon’s farewell
to darkness
sinking back
sinking
deep into the envelope
of night
a kiss sealed
on the lips
of secret’s laid bare
upon love’s pillow
softly
sinking
sinking back
into the night
of dreams
threadbare and worn
never to be
awoken

to dance
joy cascading
the light
of a new day
streaking across
the horizon
rooting out
the darkness
of secrets sealed
into the inky black depths
of memories caprice
long ago
forgotten
darkness flees
light breaks
breaking light
a new day
rising
dawn
awakens

to fly
free and awakened
daylight
breaking open
the dark
a giant cosmic egg
spilling out
daylight
freeing the night
surrender
surrender freely
to the dark
erasing
all fear
of rising

dance and
awaken

________________________________________________________

I felt challenged today. Challenged to pick up my ‘pen’ and write of awakening in images bursting from my mind. Long ago, I thought in poetry. Long ago, I wrote, never in rhyme, rhyme is too predictable, too constructed for me. I wrote in poetic prose. Images skittering onto the page, in a hurry to reach their destination, tripping over each other to form an idea, an image, a poignant light shimmering upon the page.

Obviously the muse and I are still entranced with the dance of creativity. My senses merging with her creative exhortations to let go, awaken, dance.

I am loving the dance.


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I begin again. Learning to fly.

They said climb too high, you will fall.
She fell, again and again, and learned how to fly.  Mixed media on water colour paper, 11″ x 14″   ©2017 Louise Gallagher

A friend who was to call with an update on a project we are working on together doesn’t call.

I try to reach her. No answer.

Silently, worry slips in before I have a chance to gently  whisper to my mind… Stop. Patience. All will be as all is meant to be. (my mantra to myself to quell unnecessary worry and spiraling thinking)

I catch myself falling into worry.

Stop. What is beneath the surface of this worry? I ask myself.

I listen carefully for my heart’s answer.

The truth awakens and rises up to my mind’s quest to understand.

It is part of a limiting belief that surfaces when I am not being present.

It is old. It is primordial. It is limiting.

In a course I took some time ago, I uncovered a limiting belief I held within me. It did not serve me well, but it existed nonetheless, in the nether-lands of my mind. That belief was —  I do not trust the Universe.

Actually, that belief is beyond limiting, it is self-defeating and imposes a world of distrust in everyone, everything and every happening in my world.

Sure, I realized, on the surface, I trust…

On the surface.

Below that? well… let’s just say there was this little critter who took great joy in  whispering to me in the dark, undermining my being present no matter the situation… Don’t trust! Don’t trust!  Dive for cover. They’re out to get you. Get out of sight. Don’t be vulnerable!”

It liked to say other things too. Like… right, they say they love you but what they really mean is, “I love you as long as you do things and act in ways I approve of.” “Don’t disappoint me.” “Who are you kidding? You don’t deserve love.” and on and on the critter slithered through my psyche.

“We only see beauty if we practice,” writes Christine Valters Paintner, Abbey of the Arts Abbess.

At the time of identifying this limiting belief, I committed to unearthing it, to showing it the light of day and setting it free.

It has been a journey.

One step forward, and another and another, a slip and then to begin again.

This morning, as I felt the worry slither in with its whispers of limiting beliefs longheld no longer needed, I see beauty in my worry. I see the beauty of my limiting belief and I see the beauty within it. For within it, beneath the surface of its limitations is the full and encompassing power of embracing it in Love and knowing, the universe trusts me and in my reflection I am the trust, I become the trust, I have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Fear is at the base of my worry. Fear of disappointment. Fear of failure. Fear of looking stupid, ridiculous, of being conned, of being misguided, of trusting another for fear they will let me down.

No one can let me down when I trust in the Universe and gravity to hold me up.

I cannot fall down when I trust myself to let go and surrender into Love.

Letting go now.

I begin again.

Learning to fly.


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Do it your way.

No. 19 – The #ShePersisted Series: Mixed Media on watercolour paper. 11″ x 14″ (unframed) — Art and words ©2017 Louise Gallagher

It’s not difficult to play it safe. To take the same old path, to stay the course of how it’s always been done.

It’s not difficult. But it can be numbing, tiring, maybe even heart-breaking.

Just for today, imagine there is no path. That every step you take you are creating as you go. That even though you ‘know the answer’, there are answers you don’t know.

Be curious.

Ask yourself, “Am I doing it this way because it’s the way I’ve always done it? I wonder what would happen if I changed it up?”

And when the critter, that negative little voice in your head who thinks he’s keeping you safe by holding you to the tried and true, pipes up with, “Why change it if it’s working?”, lovingly embrace his fears and tell him you aren’t changing what’s working, you’re exploring a new way to see what else works.

Changing things up isn’t about ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water’.

It’s about checking the temperature of the water to see if it’s gotten too cold because the baby’s been in it too long.

Start small.

Pick one thing you do every day that doesn’t need to change (technically), but has the possibility of change.

Like how you drive to work. Choose a different route.

Or, if you always match your handbag to your shoes, or never mix silver and gold jewellry, change it up. Do it. Wear mis-matched socks or earrings. Wear brown shoes with black pants. And if you’ve never cared about mis-matching, go for matching.

Do something unusual, not to create the discomfort of change, but instead, to explore your responses to change. Be curious about what it is that makes you feel uncomfortable in the change.

Be curious about yourself.

Always.

Give yourself permission to ‘do it my way’ and see what happens when you let go of your mindset that says, ‘why change it if it’s working?’

Be curious about what happens inside you when you step outside your comfort zone. Explore those feelings. Be an observer of yourself doing things differently.

_________________________________________________________________

I am changing things up this morning.

For the past year, since starting to paint The #ShePersisted Series in late February 2017, I have told myself that when I get to 52 paintings in the Series, I will write a corresponding descriptor of what the piece means.

I’ve completed 47 paintings in the series but won’t have my studio completed until the fall.

So… rather than do it the way I planned, I’m going to start writing the descriptors for the one’s I’ve already painted – in random order. This is No. 19 of the Series.

It also means, 52 paintings may, or may not appear.

I’m curious to see how I’ll respond to the freedom of not having to reach the number 52. Maybe I’ll stop here. Maybe I’ll go higher!

I wonder what will happen when I start writing out the descriptors in no specific order….

Stay tuned.

I’m doin’ it my way.

___________

To read more about the #ShePersisted Series and to view the completed paintings, click HERE.


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Where are the men?

No. 30 #ShePersisted series
http://louisegallagher.ca/shepersisted

When I was in my late twenties, I worked as a stockbroker. Years before, I had worked for a summer at a brokerage firm in Toronto and was intrigued by the business. Perhaps not the business itself, but more the aura of power and wealth that imbues the industry with its sense of self-importance and attitude of ‘the whole world revolves around us’. It was seductive.

At the time, I was  one of a small group of females in the sector.

We did not band together. We did not form a group to support one another, even though sexual misconduct was rife within the industry, covertly and overtly. When we occassionally met over a glass of wine or at a party, we’d talk about the sexual advancements we’d received as if being propositioned every day was the norm — because unfortunately, it was.

Every woman I knew attested to the fact that from innuendo to explicit comments, there was little confusion as to where some of the men stood on the notion of women in the field — they might ‘accept’ that woman were brokers, but they sure did not respect nor accept that women had equal status and rights to being treated like anything other than sexual objects.

I say ‘some’ because the vast majority of men I worked with were respectful and considerate.

And then there were the few.

The one’s like one of my bosses, a VP in a large firm who offered to pave the way to my success if I had sex with him. “Tell anyone and they won’t believe you,” he said when I rejected his offer. “You’re just a rookie. I’m a VP.”

I believed him. I left the firm and went to a smaller company where I felt safer and accepted. Even though I was the only female broker amongst a cadre of men, not once was I subjected to sexual improprities. I believe it was because the Managing Partner was pretty clear on the level of professionalism he expected from his team. There was to be no sexual misconduct.

A father of three young daughters, he stood up for what he believed in – that when they became adults, his daughters deserved to step into a world where they were safe to make their dreams come true, without having to face sexual misconduct and harrassment.

Which brings me to my question this morning… Where are the men?

Women have been marching. Speaking out. Wearing pink pussy hats and t-shirts decrying sexism and sexual harassment. Calling out for equality. Fair pay. Fair treatment. Fairness.

Where are the men?

Not just the single voices speaking out against those who have recently come under scrutiny for sexual assault and misconduct, but the marchers. The placard bearing. The fist pumping the air demanding an end to sexual violence; in the home, in offices, in military quarters, in locker rooms and movie sets.

Where are the men?

Do they not see that while they stay silent they risk being tarnished by the same brush that paints the perpetrators of sexual aggression and violence? Do they not see that in their silence they become victims of another man’s bad behaviour?

Sure, there are laws against sexual violence but laws do nothing for a woman while she is being raped. Laws do not bring comfort to a child while he or she is being abused. And laws do not heal the wounds of sexual assault.

Woman have been marching and in their midst there are a few men courageous and strong enough to stand up for what they know to be true and right — women are not sexual objects, the weaker sex or a sex toy who’s main purpose is to pleasure a man so he can get off on his power.

We are human beings deserving of respect. We have the right to feel safe walking down any street a man walks down. We have the right to step into an elevator alone with any man. We have the right to be in a room with any man and not be harassed, demeaned or propositioned.

Where are the men demanding their brothers stop behaving like beasts? That they stop forcing themselves upon women. That they put an end to using their masculinity as a weapon?

Where are the men?

 

 

 


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You gotta stir the pot to change the world (A short story)

This post is longer than usual. It is a short story/fable I wrote inspired by my #ShePersisted series. 

 

Stirring the pot to stir up change.

A fable by Louise Gallagher

©2017 Louise Gallagher

Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to change the world. The world was a pretty big place which was kind of scary, so she kept doing the little things she knew she could do to make her own little world a better place.

One day, while walking to work at the Ivory Tower where every day she did what she was paid to do to keep the wheels of commerce turning, she met a man who asked for some loose change. “I’m hungry and have no money to buy a bowl of soup,” he told her.

“I’m not allowed to carry loose change,” she told him. “My bosses only like to deal in millions of dollars and it makes them nervous to hear the jingling of small coins.”

She wanted to do what she could to help him though and promised to meet him in the same spot the next day. “I’ll bring you a bowl of soup,” she told him.

And that’s what she did. The next day, and then the next and the next until one day, the man brought a friend to share in the bowl of soup. A few days later, a third man joined them and the number of people trying to share the one bowl of soup grew.

Eventually, the girl realized that one bowl of soup was not big enough to feed all the people who kept turning up. She decided to make a great big pot and bring it down to the street.  And the people kept coming and she kept making soup until she realized, she had to do something different.

She didn’t feel a lot of satisfaction counting money and pushing paper. She decided to quit her job. There were so many people clamouring for her soup, she decided the time was now to find a space to make soup close to where the people were so nobody had to travel too far to fill their bellies.

The girl pooled all her money, posted a CrowdFund site on the internet and asked her friends for help. Everyone pitched in until she had enough to get a great big room with a great big kitchen in a building that stood all by itself on a side street near the great big Ivory Towers where once she’d worked.

Every day she’d go to her soup kitchen and make great big pots of soup to feed the people who kept turning up.  They said it felt like home. They said, ‘Thank you’, and offered to help make the soup and serve it and clean up every day.

It worked well. Everyone contributed what they could and she felt good about what she was doing. So did her friends who’d helped raise the funds for her soup kitchen. They couldn’t always take time out from work to help her make soup, but they always made sure she had enough money to buy the ingredients she needed to make a wholesome meal for the people who needed it.

She was doing her bit to change the world, one bowl of soup at a time.

One night, just before the lights went out in her soup kitchen, the girl noticed a man curled up under a table sleeping.  “You can’t sleep here. It’s against the rules,” she told him.

“Then where am I supposed to sleep?” the man asked.

“Why don’t you go home?”

He laughed and said, “I don’t have a home to go to.”

“Oh. What happened to your home?” she asked the man.

He told her the story of how his job was made redundant when a robot took over what he did. “I couldn’t afford the rent on my apartment ‘cause the boom kept pushing the cost higher. And I couldn’t find work because I never had a chance to finish high school after my dad died and I had to get a job to help my mother take care of my brothers and sisters.”

The girl was surprised by what had happened to him and started asking everyone who came to the soup kitchen if they had a home.

Lots of them didn’t.

She didn’t think that was right and decided to go see The Powers That Be to make them change the rules for her soup kitchen so the man, and all the others who came to eat soup and didn’t have a home to go to, could sleep on the floor at night.

She travelled to the Seat of Government and told the elected Powers That Be her big idea. The Powers That Be really liked it. They’d received lots of complaints from other citizens about the people without a home wandering the streets and asking strangers for money. The Powers That Be didn’t like complaints, especially when they piled up just before an election.  The girl and her soup kitchen, that also had a floor to sleep on, was the answer to their prayers.

And so it went. Year after year. She kept changing the world with bowls of soup and a warm place for people to sleep on the floor at night.

And all around her, people kept going to work and businesses kept humming along as the wheels of commerce kept turning and the Ivory Towers kept growing taller.

One day, a man in a black silk suit looked way down at the street far below his eerie at the top of his Ivory Tower and noticed all the people lining up outside the girl’s soup kitchen. He called his assistant to his side and asked , “Do you know what dwelling that is yonder and why so many people are lining up outside its door?”

“Yes sire,” his assistant said. “It’s a soup kitchen.”

The man in the Ivory Tower had never heard of such a thing and called his cronies together from all the Ivory Towers around him to find out if anyone else had heard of a ‘soup kitchen’.

Nobody had. But one man, an economist, informed them that a soup kitchen fell into the fiscal category of Not Good for Business. “I understand from my assistant that it attracts people of dubious background. He tells me they are all poor.”

As one voice the gathering of men from the Ivory Towers rejected the idea of poor people on their streets. Poor people will bring down our credit ratings and the value of our realm, they declared.

Something had to be done.

They made a plan on how to conquer the problem of the people on the street. They would go see the Powers That Be, the ones they had elected into the Seat of Government. It was their job to take care of the poor people. They would force them to do it.

Together, as one voice, the men from the Ivory Towers went to the Seat of Government and demanded the Powers That Be fix the problem of the poor people on their streets. It’s Not Good for Business, they told them.

The Powers That Be told them that they needed to pay more taxes if they wanted to fix the problem because they did not have enough money to fix the problem..

The men in the Ivory Towers did not like that solution. They left the Seat of Government vowing to find a better way.

After lots of gathering and ruminating over their thoughts and much pounding of fists on tables and counting from on high the people lining their streets and number crunching and filling in the boxes of profit and loss, they determined that the girl and her soup kitchen was the root of the cause of the poor people on the streets. Without her, they wouldn’t be lining up for soup. She was The Problem.

Determined to wrestle the problem into submission, the men from the Ivory Towers gathered en masse to take matters into their own hands.

They donned their cashmere winter coats over their $3,000 silk suits. They entered their gilded elevators and rode down to street level. Their assistants scurried before them, stopping traffic so they could cross the street safely, sweeping aside the people asking for handouts and clearing the way to the building where the girl and her soup kitchen operated. As they walked towards its doors, their assistants used their bodies to shield their bosses from the people who stood in line, and one rushed forward to open the doors so that the men from the Ivory Towers could sweep into the soup kitchen like a covey of crows descending upon road kill.

A gust of cold air preceded them as they entered, but the room remained warm and cozy. The men in their cashmere coats did not notice it. They were on a mission. They marched as one body towards the girl who stood in front of a great big stove, stirring a great big pot of soup.

“Welcome,” she greeted them, smiling sweetly as they jostled for position in front of her. “If you would like a bowl of soup, you’ll have to wait your turn. It’s only fair. Others have been standing out in the cold much longer than you.”

“We don’t have time to stand around, and we definitely don’t need your soup,” they proclaimed, ignoring her suggestion they wait their turn. Their assistants busied themselves laying out upon the kitchen counter top the reams of paper they’d prepared with their pretty coloured graphs and balance sheets and profit and loss statements.

They pointed to the bottom line, “Look. Here’s the evidence. It doesn’t lie. Your soup kitchen is Not Good for Business. You run it. You are The Problem. Because you’re here, people are lining up outside your doors. They don’t look like us. They look poor and that’s not good.  It’s not good for our businesses nor the people who make the wheels of our businesses turn. It makes our city look bad and it scares the tourists away. You have to stop making soup.”

The girl didn’t know much about balance sheets and profit margins, but she did know that what she was doing was changing the world, a bowl of soup at a time. She showed the men from the Ivory Towers the people sitting at the tables quietly eating their soup. “Who will feed all these hungry people if I stop?” she asked.

The men from the Ivory Towers looked around the room. They hadn’t noticed the people when they’d first entered on their mission to fix The Problem. Looking down their noses at the huddled masses, they were surprised to see how many people were gathered in the room, eating soup.

“These people are not contributing to the Greater Good,” the men from the Ivory Towers proclaimed. “All they’re doing is sitting around eating soup and bleeding our city dry.”

“They can’t contribute to the greater good if they’re always battling the greater issues of being poor,” she said as she slowly continued to stir a great big pot of soup.

The men from the Ivory Towers were not moved by her emotional appeal. It’s just a sob story, they muttered amongst themselves. She’s trying to sway us from the facts with her bleeding heart.

They pounded their fists on the closest table. “If their issue is being poor they need to get a job!” they told her.

“And how do they do that?” she asked, gripping the ladle in her hands a little bit tighter and moving it around the pot with a little more force. “You won’t hire them because they’re poor and even when you do, you don’t pay them a living wage because you’re always more concerned with balancing your bottom line.” She stopped stirring for a moment, looked each of them in the eyes before adding. “And without a job, how can they afford food on the tables they don’t have and a place to call home they can’t pay for?”

The men from the Ivory Towers were growing frustrated with the girl and her bleeding heart. “Be quiet and listen to us. We know what we’re doing,” they told her. “The problem isn’t whether or not these people have jobs. There’s lots of jobs around if they’re willing to work. The problem is you keep making soup and that keeps them coming back. You have to stop.”

“But isn’t that good business?” the girl asked, innocently enough, as she continued stirring the pot of soup at a more measured pace. “Don’t you call it supply and demand? I’m simply responding to their need for food and shelter. What are you doing?”

The men from the Ivory Towers puffed up their chests and huffed loudly through their noses. “We are keeping the wheels of commerce turning and building empires and taking care of the little people who keep our Ivory Towers growing higher.” And they pounded the closest table again, just to make their point.

“Please don’t pound the table,” the girl told them. “You’re scaring my guests.”

“Your guests are not our problem!” the men yelled loudly. “You and your soup kitchen are The Problem. You have to stop making soup so people will stop lining up on our streets and scaring people on their way to work.”

And the men from the Ivory Towers kept pounding on the table, telling her to stop.

And the people kept lining up for soup and a place to call home.

And the girl persisted. She kept stirring the pot and doing what she could to change the world.

The moral of the story is:  You can’t change the world if you don’t stir the pot.

 


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South Calgary Art Show and Sale

Participating in an art show is more than just creating a bunch of paintings and then, selling some (she adds hopefully).

Because it’s about more than just the ‘selling’.

It’s about creating an experience that I like being involved within, and hopefully, in that experience, those who view my art, will also feel some of the essence of who I am when they look at, and (hopefully she adds again) purchase something.

This week I have collected, collated, assessed and determined.

I have framed and dusted off. Created tags and stories to go with the art. I have written my artist statement, both my personal statement and my statement for the #ShePersisted series that will be on display at the show. I’ve ordered business cards and cards of eight of the paintings from the series. I’ve also ordered 3 gicleé and 3 prints of some of them to show people what they would look like as a finished product — if they want to own one or two, or maybe even three (or more she adds again, hopefully) from the series.

When I was in the print shop to check the proofs for the cards, (Petro-Tech Printing is amazing! Thank you Jim and Evan) Jim mentioned a woman was in yesterday picking up her pieces as they were looking over the proofs of mine on the front counter. She was fascinated by the cards.

I think that is what has resonated so deeply within me, and what I hope within others about this series. The images and messages strike a chord within all of us. Like a harp string plucked in a room full of harps that causes all the harps around it to quiver in melodic response, this series quivers deep within our hearts. It is a recognition of our shared yearning for equality, freedom, dignity, hope, justice, respect. That yearning, and need, lives within each of us, women and men, alike.

Each painting is a story of our shared human condition — and the limiting beliefs we each experience that inhibit us from expressing it freely, completely, whole-heartedly. It is an expression of the divine feminine, and an acknowledgement that we can no longer suppress it, pervert it, contort it, deny it, ignore it. We need it to come fully alive if we are to create better in our world for everyone.

I am in an art show all weekend. I am grateful. I am joyful. I am blessed.

I hope if you’re in or around Calgary you can take a moment to drop by and visit. And honest, it’s not about whether you purchase a painting to take home and treasure. It’s about coming out to share your light, your spirit, your appreciation of all the talents of the artists collected in the room who have had the courage to listen to their muse and create for the pure joy of creation.

Because ultimately, whether I sell a single piece (though it would be lovely, she adds hopefully — plus C.C is a little worried about our ever diminishing wall space) 🙂 the joy of creation makes my life a wonderful place for me to live and it definitely makes me a more heart-driven, joyful and grateful human being!

Namaste.

To view my Artist Statement click HERE.

 

 


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Happy Accidents

Ever had one of those accidental outcomes that when it happens you look at it and say…. “Hmmmm….. I wonder what I can make with that?”

No. 41 in my #ShePersisted series, is just such a happy accident.

On the weekend, I started working into a background I’d created for a painting a couple of weeks ago. I drew and cut out a stencil of a woman and painted her into the painting. It’s called, The Goddess Emerges and I will be selling it at the art show I’m in this weekend.

I was enjoying using the stencil I’d created and decided to use it for another painting. The Duality of Truth in the Garden of Eden emerged.

 

 

To create the two women in that painting, I drew the figures onto a wax type paper stenciled with musical notes and words and images. I wanted to add colour to the cut outs so placed one of the figures on a canvas board that was tucked into a corner of my studio.

And that’s when the happy accident happened.

Using watercolour pens, I painted onto the cutout and washed off what I didn’t want. And voilá! As I worked to colour in the figure, the residual paint ran along the edges of the cutout leaving behind the outline of the woman on the board when I lifted it off!

I debated what to do with it. Leave it. Create with it.

Lesson learned.

Never let happy accidents go to waste.

Dig in. Explore. Let your creativity flow.

What’s the worst that could happen?

FullSizeRender (30)For me, painting into the figure inspired the quote for No. 41 in my #ShePersisted series. I like this quote — it speaks to what I perceive to be part of the feminist struggle for social justice — Why bother? The injustice is all in our imaginations.

She’s created on a different substrate than the others so I may recreate her later — I’m okay with that. Because, seriously?  What is the worst that could happen?  …I get to create more. I get to indulge in my passion for inspiring artful living. I get to immerse myself in the creative process and let go of my fear of what the outcome will be!

How exciting is that?

Namaste.

___________

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

And if you are in Calgary or environs this weekend, do please drop by the art show and say hello.  I’d love to see you.

South Calgary Art Show and Sale

Friday, May 12,   2 – 9pm

Saturday, May 13,   10 – 5pm

Marda Loop Community Centre
3130 16 street SW