My Story - The Presenter
It is when we can grace the stage with the inner stillness that allows butterflies to alight upon our shoulder.
It is when we are able to reflect on the beauty they impart as we breathe with their presence,
that from this stage our spirits can truly soar.
... and on goes the Fairy Tale... The Beginning of the Damsel's Creative Expression Story
It all started on a stage in a community hall in a prairie hamlet now almost erased from maps once the grain elevators were dismantled. The dear damsel was six years old when she performed her first song, The Teddy Bear’s Picnic at the Christmas concert of the local two room school she attended. Then it was “These Boots Were Made For Walking” wearing her friends very classy and very white go-go boots during the noon hour stage show in the basement of her rural school that closed while she was attending it. In her grade, the next fall, five very intimidated country girls and boys began to be bussed to the neighboring town to go to the “big” school.
For a while the Damsel struggled to find herself in her new environment but gradually she was on stage again, singing with a variety of groups, performing in musical theatre shows and competing in public speaking contests. As the Damsel was experiencing time on and off the stage she became aware of the feeling of exhilaration that came over her after a good performance, contrasted with the almost debilitating nervous energy that would overtake her before and during.
You see she was discovering that if she wanted to have a more consistent success outcome in performance she would have to learn how to make friends with the swarm of nervous butterflies who fluttered their way through her body just before she stepped on to the stage. She found this fluttering could result in disastrous stage experiences such as forgetting her lines, dry throat, pitch problems (usually flat but sometimes acutely sharp) and body immobility; all reactions not conducive to a successful outcome. She soon realized that if she was to continue her seemingly conflicted love of the stage she would have to make friends with these butterflies.
A Few Pictures of the Damsel's Creative Expression Story Over the Years
Gypsy Jive Dance yearend dance show 2010
Commentating at a fashion show
Performing New Year's Eve at a restaurant
Jazz Trio, "A Touch of Torch" - Brent White, Adrian Kuryliw and Wendy
Rosy The Clown
Singing at the Brandon Exhibition
The "Jewels" dance troupe after a performance of "You Put A Spell On Me"
Burlesque at the Gypsy Jive Dance 2010 yearend show
Wendy and her daughter, Naomi Joy Gallagher performing, "Wonder Woman" from "The Many Faces of Woman"
… And so life on the stage continued, this time beginning to express itself within the genre of dance, both ballroom and the odd disco dance competition! There were also times when performing on the stage was nonexistent as well, as the Damsel, now a wife and mother focused on building a home (sometimes literally), raising her three children, washing cloth diapers, baking bread and preserving food. Throughout the seasons of new growth and warm suns, the butterflies would come offering their friendship. Soon their appearance became her symbol for self-expression, reminding her that the time would come again when she would fly with them.
It was the Monarchs who consistently made their presence known to her as the young woman in the 1980’s began her full service hair, esthetics, dressing for success salon. A kaleidoscope of fluttering butterflies began to open up many new opportunities of presenting for her. To share the diversity of what her business offered she was asked to speak to local and regional service groups, schools, conventions and her professional piers, sometimes presenting to hundreds of people. She also found as part of her love for fashion, she enjoyed commentating and creating fashion shows with local retailers. Gradually she found that the more she was on the stage and the more and more comfortable she became with her material, the less the butterflies fluttered. Over time it got easier and easier to walk on to the stage. She realized the butterflies had taught her another very important principle of presenting, know that which you are presenting.
Dance, Public Speaking, Commentating Fashion Shows
Clowning, Improvisational Theatre, Acting, Public Speaking and Hosting
One day in the early 1990’s when her children were young, a long flowing chiffon caftan in a kaleidoscope of colors fluttered and floated into her life. It was accompanied by an orange and yellow striped dress with matching runners, an acrylic red-orange wig, a stick puppet with yellow hair and the name Rosy. Rosy soon became a master of balloon animals, sometimes making hundreds, at community events. She pogo-sticked down streets in parades and sang goofy songs at festivals. When she was hired as a clown wandering the streets, her favorite improvisational interactions were with adults, who either would stand propped against a streetlamp pole sharing their life stories with her or would look at her with disdain wondering if she was for real! Her butterfly friends continued to whisper in her ear to just relax, listen, be natural and respond.
During this time, the butterflies opened another door to enhance her abilities in self-expression, one of her most challenging yet, an opportunity to be part of an improvisational theatre group. Performing at community events, there were times the butterflies again came through in swarms, as improvisational theatre in front of an audience had to be quick, witty and tickle the funny bones of the spectators. There was no room for hesitation. It was stage - do or die – and the rule was, that you always gave something back for your stage partner to work with. Together the group also went on to have more fun creating and performing a Medieval Feast at a local restaurant, complete with kings, jesters and no cutlery.
When auditions opened one winter, the discovering damsel also took to the stage with the local community theatre, both as an actress and in an alternate year, as a Middle Eastern dancer in the play, Othello. As part of her commitment to the creative process of writing, she accepted an invitation to host the local Writers Group Coffee Houses. It was through all these experiences that she was realizing that the butterflies were just asking her to say yes, that it was the commitment to the moment of yes that was giving her the strength to face her deepest fears. In so doing, she was learning that within her exploration of the kaleidoscope of presentation opportunities offered to her, its essence was simple, life truly was the stage.
Presenting Her Own Production, “The Many Faces of Woman”
It was in the early 2000’s when the Damsel, now in her forties was visited by another kaleidoscope of butterflies. This time their whispers were inspiring her to write her life story in a rock musical form, complete with live musicians on stage and a shadow screen as her dressing room. They said that she would be the primary actress and she would have to carry most of the show herself with one other person performing her younger self. The butterflies knew that this was the ultimate challenge for her, as she had never experienced being on stage for a full two hour show before. Again, she said yes to the challenge.
She proceeded to write the script and songs for, “The Many Faces of Woman.” Together with a group of talented musicians, another singer and a supportive community, she performed it to appreciative audiences on Cortes Island, BC where she lived. She then revised it and again performed it several times on Cortes Island and Salmon Arm, BC, this time having the fabulous opportunity to be on stage with her actress daughter, Naomi Joy Gallagher. The fluttering butterflies were in deed always around, reminding her to be still so they could alight upon her shoulder and provide her with all the courage she needed to see the process through.
In preparation for performance, the butterflies had taught her that commitment to success and consistency to rehearsal were key elements of confidence in presentation. The most important lesson that she learned though, came as a realization as she wrote the finale for her show. Her song entitled, Wild Woman, is her story to discover and embrace her creative expression. What she experienced by saying yes to this process was really that when we open our hearts to our highest potential and create through this inspiration, we are really sharing a gift to the audience we present to. As a result of us saying yes to our authentic voices we then receive the greatest reward of being on the stage, and that is to touch each heart of the audience with our Divine voice.
... and the Damsel Loved to Sing
Singing has always woven its musical strains in and out of the Damsel’s life as life has presented its new songs for her to live. As she continues to sing through the years, it is her increased sensitivity to the vibration of the butterflies’ wings that has touched her with a desire to experience an array of genres. Her love of harmonies has invoked a love of spiritual, country and choral adaptations of classical and contemporary music. Presenting on stage with various numbers of musicians and singers has always been an exhilarating experience of surrendering into the “oneness” of a group, when there is no longer the presence of an I but a we instead, performing together to accomplish a common goal.
Throughout the years the Damsel has presented to a variety of audiences as a soloist with her guitar or with an accompanist and trios complete with costumes accented by feather boas. In Brandon, MB, the butterflies brought together a trio she entitled, “A Touch of Torch” of which she got to sing many favorite sultry jazz numbers she loved with two excellent musicians. Then the bass guitar started to call her name and before she knew it her friend Bridget, who also had accepted her call from the butterflies to write music, learn guitar and sing publicly, asked her to play with her band. Before long she was attempting to sing, the easy songs, while she played the bass. She even got to play, “These Boots Are Made For Walking” again. The aging Damsel, marvels at how the butterflies continue to spiral their messages around her, all the while tickled with laughter as they watch her work through her next challenge!
There is still one whisper from her butterflies she is waiting to respond to … and that is “to be a rocker chick!” This call, as of yet, sits in the ethers. Although the Damsel does not feel her age, in the world’s eyes, this chick is rapidly becoming an old hen! … but she has learned that the butterflies haven’t let her down yet, so if there is anyone out there who wants to become part of rock group for aging hens and roosters, let her know!
World Dance, Ballroom, Public Speaking
Just as the June skies always provided transport for the butterflies so was their bringing Middle Eastern Belly Dance into her life at an Arts Festival the same month in Vernon, BC. She immediately engaged in its study and it was not long after until she was performing at festivals, community events and restaurants. During the mid-2000’s, upon moving to Manitoba, again a kaleidoscope of opportunities fluttered into her life and before long she was teaching this art form that had become very close to heart.
Combining her love of world dance with ballroom, she started Gypsy Jive Dance and for the first time ever she had her own studio. She was introduced to many beautiful people who shared the love of dance with her. Many opportunities presented themselves for both Middle Eastern and Ballroom dance troupes to perform. To name a few, there were home parties beside pools, restaurant shows, New Year’s Eve Galas, studio yearend shows, community fundraising events, wellness conventions, music festivals, parades and two "Vagina Monologue" theatre productions.
In the current years, her ongoing friendship and commitment to dancing has even resulted in meeting in Mexico and dancing together in markets and restaurants. The stage has never been too small, too large or too far away! Over the years, she has found that sometimes her body and mind have had to take some needed rest but after rejuvenation, it is the spirit of presentation that rises up in her again, ready to grace the stage and the many gifts it imparts.
The butterflies continue their fluttering around her, prompting her to pause, reflect on their beauty, breathe into all that she does and listen for their next whisper.