Saturday Share

I like to begin my morning with meditation.

It’s good for my world, my body – heart. soul. mind. belly. All of it and all of me and all of the world around me.

Yet, for the past while, I have been scattered in my approach to doing that which I know is good for me. Resistant to sitting in the quiet letting the disquiet within me become seen, known, heard, visible so that in its presence I could become present to it all, and so much more.

This morning, while responding to comments on yesterday’s blog, the lovely JoAnne, of JoAnne’s Rambling blog commented that she is so blessed.

Which inspired me to share the link to the wondrous Kerry Parson‘s collaboration with singer/songwriter, Amy Wood, We Are So Blessed, which brought me back to my meditation mat.

Sitting in the quiet, listening to the soft melodious notes of Amy’s piano, Kerry’s voice, Amy’s song I felt it – my heart’s desire to find its beat amidst the chaos, to find its melody amidst the discomfort, to find its rhythm amidst the unrest.

And, because I like to share things that create beauty, wonder, joy and awe in my life with all of you, I share it here again.

I am Alive. What a Beautiful Gift.

There’s a meme going around social media sites asking readers something like, “If you remember playing outside until the street lights came on, or, If you remember running barefoot in the yard and drinking out of the garden hose, or squishing the orange dot into the margarine that came in a bag…. then you had a great childhood. (or something like that)

We baby-boomers, we like to tell our offspring, had it good. Freedom to play outside without fearing strangers. Freedom to go to the park on our own, play on death-defying carousel thingies with metal bars without fearing we’d puke (’cause that would be so cool anyway!) or chip a tooth on the wooden teeter-totter with the metal handlebar – which I did but nobody seemed phased by the blood running out of my mouth as I ran across the cement to the swings that had metal seats and rusted chains, determined I’d finally be able to pump so hard I went all the way around over the top.

Without a parent or other adult around, there was no one around to tell me to stop — and I definitely wasn’t going to listen to my five years-older-than-me-brother who’d jumped off the teeter-totter while I was midair and precipitated my hard-landing and chipped tooth.

We baby-boomers had it good.

I wonder sometimes, where were our parents? Why did they give us so much freedom?

I don’t believe it wasn’t because they didn’t care, or thought the world was a super-safe place to be. They’d just come through WW2. How could they think that? How could they believe there weren’t dangers out there?

What I’ve come to believe is that they were war-weary. Tired-out from deprivation and rationing, tired-out by fearing would they or their loved ones get through it at all. Tired-out by wondering would it ever end.

And when it did end, they wanted to believe there was nothing to fear and so… they let their offspring, we the baby-boomers, run free as if we had not a care in the world as they continued to do what they’d always done, take care of business.

Busy building families, rebuilding towns and cities, homes and lives, busy trying to bury the past beneath the memories of all they’d seen and lost, they didn’t have time to go to the park or watch our every move or schedule our every second.

They were in survival mode. Mental health, PTSD, Trauma-informed practices weren’t yet a thing. All they could do was keep surviving.

Covid has led me to this awareness.

As the world struggles to open up again and we learn to adjust to living with its presence amongst us like a memory that refuses to fade-away, I am feeling the angst of wanting to let go of caution and run like that childhood me as if I have not a care in the world.

I am feeling the desire to pretend there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Fact is, there is a lot in this world to fear – but…

Fear. Worry. They change nothing and, have an innate ability to grow stronger the more I give into their stealthy presence.

Running barefoot in the grass, lying on my back in the prairie grasses at the top of a hill, arms and legs spread wide simply to feel the sun and earth bathe me in glorious warmth. Singing my heart out amidst the trees or standing outside the grocery store singing a made-up song into the phone to my granddaughter simply to hear her laugh and not caring who hears. Throwing and smashing eggs on the rocks beneath the bridge as a train goes rumbling overhead and screaming at the top of my lungs…. now those things do change everything.

Because, in those things I am reminded, I am alive.

And isn’t that a beautiful gift.

Ebb and Flow. Flow and Ebb.

#fromwhereIsit #morningview

The river is flowing again. Fast. Free. Fluid. Spring melt ripens slowly.

The water level rises, centimetre by centimetre. Day by day. Where yesterday, the log-jammed up against one of the buttresses beneath the bridge was fully exposed, this morning, only ridges are available. Soon, as the snowmelt begins in earnest in the Rockies to the west, the water will submerge it and wash it away downstream.

For now, morning brings higher water levels. By dusk, the water will have receded a few centimeters. The cycle will continue day after day as I watch, sometimes with trepidation, its ever-increasing flow, wondering, how high will the waters come?

It is the gift and the angst of living on the Bow.

Years ago, along with 99 Calgarians chosen for Peter von Tiesenhausen’s Passage’s exhibition celebrating the Bow River, I released a small wooden boat (slightly bigger than my hand), carved with a number and message on its side, and set it adrift into the rushing waters of the River. Each of the 100 boats contained information for whoever found it on how to share the story of the boat’s discovery online.

I do not know where my boat was found, or if it was. I know many were. Many weren’t.

Perhaps, like the log stuck against the abutment, my boat landed in the weeds upstream from where it was launched and became buried in the silt of spring flooding.

Perhaps, it became waterlogged and lies at the bottom of the river in some distant tributary.

Or perhaps, it floated and drifted, following the current all the way to Lake Winnipeg into the Nelson River and onward to the Hudson’s Bay.

I like to imagine it did. I like to imagine it sailed out of the Bay into the Arctic Ocean to become frozen in time under the Tundra of the far north.

Perhaps.

Perhaps still, the patches of ice that stubbornly cling to the gravel bar further upstream will melt and somewhere on their journey, a current will find my boat, still and silent, waiting for its release in a marshland far to the east.

Perhaps.

The river, like time, does not flow backward. My boat, like memory, fades.

The sun struggles to reach the ice clinging to the shore.

Somedays, I struggle against the flow, just as some days I struggle to release the angst of these past two years.

Somedays, I release myself to the flow, allowing worry and angst, fear and sorrow to abate into the River’s constant flow.

Ebbing and flowing. Flowing and Ebbing. Life moves on as time passes.

No matter if I struggle or release, the river is in constant motion, life abounds all around and I am carried by the flow.

Whether I struggle or release, Love is always flowing.

It is my choice to struggle or to breathe into its constant flow trusting that no matter where I go, or where I become stuck or end my journey Love will always carry me through.

Namaste.

________

This is a video of the boat launch — if you look closely you’ll see me passing by the camera… 🙂

.

And So I Do

Silently, like a fir tree shaking off falling snow, I shed winter’s cloak and open my arms to spring’s warm embrace.

Breathing deep, I rejoice in longer days and the warmth of the sun falling upon my skin.

You are welcome here I whisper to the buds beginning to burst from the outstretched limbs of the trees dancing, still naked, in the sun. Fingers soft and gentle, I caress the fragile growth opening itself up to nature’s calling and smile joyfully in the connection. Here I am, I whisper. I see you. And the buds dance in delicate response to the spring air’s urging them to grow wild.

Life blossoms with its abundance.

I dance in gratitude.

Such a beautiful gift this life. This presence. These spring buds popping. The geese flying overhead. The grasses turning green. The river running free.

All of it, a gift.

Dance, Mother Nature calls. Dance.

And so I do.

And So I Do
©2022 Louise Gallagher

I feel the spring
air fresh
against my skin
calling me
to cast off
winter’s dark soul
filled journey
into the night
and rejoice
in the sun
drawing the days
out into the light.

I feel life
calling me
to dance.

And so I do.

L’Chaim! To Life!

Last night, as my beloved and I lay in bed reading, he suddenly asked, “Do you know what day tomorrow is?”

“Monday?” I glibly replied.

“Our anniversary,” he clarified with a laugh.

Well my goodness! Seriously?

Neither of us had noted the date.

For C.C., it’s partially because of being immersed in pulling together financing on a business deal. He gets consumed.

For me… well recent events have taken up a great deal of my mindspace. I just hadn’t realized how much until C.C. reminded me of the significance of this date.

As many who read here regularly know, C.C. was in hospital with pneumonia for 10 days at the beginning of the year.

His recovery has been slowed by the presence of COPD in his lungs which makes his breathing laboured. My thoughts have been consumed with making sure COVID doesn’t impede his recovery.

And then, a month ago, while I was in Vancouver, he fell and fractured three ribs. “They’re only bruised,” he told me. “No need to come home. I’ll be fine.”

Sisters surrounded by sisters

Fortunately, my youngest daughter was able to care for Beaumont as he tried to heal and my sister Jackie kept him supplied with food while I was away! It wasn’t until two days before my return that he went for an X-ray and discovered his ribs weren’t bruised but fractured — no wonder moving was almost impossible. All of which has made his breathing even more laboured.

Colour me worried, ’cause I am.

Worried he’ll catch COVID. Worried his breathing will not improve. Worried…

Charlie’s Angels

Add the passing of my dear friend Andrew and I’m hoping you get the picture… my mind is not a calm and clear view of distant horizons and shimmering seas of peaceful waters capable of holding thoughts of health and well-being and death and living alongside dates of note.

The fact is… I have been feeling overwhelmed by it all. Not just these recent events but the whole landscape of this world where war and disease and climate events march in seemingly unending waves of turbulent thoughts engulfing my peace of mind.

It’s time to find my centre, my middle ground as Val Boyko calls it. It’s time to breathe into the chaos and worry to remind myself of that which is always present, always the answer… LOVE

Tolstoy wrote, “Love is life.  All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.”

On this, our 7th Wedding Anniversary, I choose to consciously release worry and fear, sadness and sorrow, to celebrate all that makes my life so rich and vibrant, all that creates such beautiful meaning and joy in everyday.

Our love. Our commitment. Our union. Our marriage.

I can’t change the course of war or disease. I am not powerful enough to cure or heal all the woes of the world.

What I have the power to do is to ensure my own world is filled with all that creates better in this world. Beauty. Art. Joy. Compassion. LOVE.

Today, I celebrate US as I surrender all fear and fall with grace into the eternal source of it all… LOVE.

l’chaim! to LIFE!

We are all refugees

I wonder sometimes how my uncles and aunts felt when they left the land of their birth in search of a new land to call home.

India was no longer a welcoming place for them. Their passports, language, customs were French with a melange of Indian culture thrown in. Their father and his father had all been born in India, as had many centuries of their maternal line. Raised in the then French protectorate of Pondicherry, none of them had ever visited France.

When India reclaimed its independence, they had to make a choice – stay and give up their French citizenship. Or leave. Most of them left for the next closest French protectorate, Vietnam.

At first, Vietnam was a safe haven. But then, war broke out and they were forced to flee.

Like many refugees around the world who run grasping battered suitcases and broken promises, they wanted peace. Not war.

Eventually, they mostly settled in France. Even though their skin was a beautiful blend of white and brown, it was easy to ‘fit in’. French was their first language. Their schooling had followed the French curriculum and even though they blended cultures into a beautiful Euro-Asian tapestry, they were Catholic. They knew the rituals and the faith of their new ‘home’ land. Few questioned their pedagogy, though some of my relations, particularly those whose skin was darker than their neighbours, faced discrimination at times.

Some struggled. Others thrived. Others, like my mother, never let go of their love for India, her Shangri-la as she called it.

The heat, the smells, the vegetation, the food, the singsong of Hindi and Tamil voices, the raucous chattering of monkeys in the yellow neon palms and bougainvillea that surrounded their home, ran through her blood like a strand of DNA that could never be altered.

In some ways my mother lived her life as a refugee yearning always to return to the land of her birth if only to hear the sounds of the ocean lapping against the shores she loved so much.

As news of more refugees fleeing Eastern Ukraine fills my newsfeeds, I am reminded of the stories I heard of my mother’s family’s flight from Inida to France. They faced an uncertain future. They endured bombs falling and lives crumbling before finally reaching ‘home’.

And though a few have remained in India, few of those who left returned to take up residence in the land of their birth, the land where both my maternal and paternal grandparents are buried. My cousins in France all return to India for visits. They all have a deep connection to the beauty of the land. But they always return home to France.

I think of the refugees fleeing their homes, carrying their children in tired arms, fearing that each step could be their last. Fearing they might never be able to return as they race ahead of the bombs into an uncertain future.

And my heart breaks and my mind swirls with thoughts of when will we ever learn? When will this destruction of our humanity, this killing of our fellow human beings stop?

And I cannot find an answer.

There is no answer in war. Just as there is no peace. For, with every mother’s son or daughter killed we risk seeding germs of hate and anger that will grow into endless branches of conflict and unrest.

And so, to no longer be a refugee of my own heart, I return to the origin of it all. To Love. For while there is no peace in war, there is always love. Waiting… Patiently. Steadfastly. Always.

Love for our humanity is all that will save us now.

Let us all remember love is present. Love is always the answer even in war.

Namaste.

It is the Season

It is the Season
©2022 Louise Gallagher

It is the season
of budding
open

new growth 
bursting

soft 
as downy feathers
on a gosling’s breast
full 
of life

flourishing
unfolding
beneath sun-soaked days
stretched out

along the sands

of time
slipping effortlessly
away

from winter’s  grasp
erasing all memory
of long dark nights

spent
yearning
for spring 
to awaken
with its promise

of life
circling back

into itself
again and again.


I Do Not Want To Read Of War…

I Do Not Want To Read Of War
©2022 Louise Gallagher

I do not want to read of war
I do not want to hear the stories
look at the photos
watch the videos
see the bodies
lying in the streets
the animals left behind and killed
the homes destroyed
the buildings demolished
I do not want to know of its power
to desecrate
diminish
and destroy
Dreams. Hope. Life.

I do not want to look away.

To look away is to deny
the horror of what is happening
to people
just like me
who live and work and love and play
who walk their dogs 
and hold the hands of the ones they love
and caress the faces of their children and grandchildren
who go to work
and drive to the grocery store
or walk to their favourite coffee shop 
to spend an hour or two visiting with friends.

I do not want to cry
for the fathers, sons and daughters
who put down the tools of their trades,
their studies and their work
to don battle dress and guns.
I do not want to weep 
for the children and their mothers 
and the elderly and disabled 
with whom they huddle
in bomb-shelters and barns and basements
waiting for release
waiting for a time when bombs
do not desecrate
diminish
and destroy
Dreams. Hope. Life.

But I must
look and see and bear witness
I must acknowledge
what is happening
so that I can hold
this hurting world
in arms and words and thoughts
that do not 
desecrate
diminish
or destroy
Dreams. Hope. Life.

So that perhaps,
one day,
the children and their mothers
the grandparents and disabled,
the fathers, sons and daughters
can return
home
to rebuild their lives
in peace.

Farewell my dear friend

It is his laughter I shall always remember.

It rolled up out of his belly frothing with mirth too big for one body to contain. It spilled out like waves crashing against a rocky shoreline, splashing everyone in close proximity with its insistence we give up all resistance and join in the frivolity at hand.

It is his laughter I shall always remember and his loving friendship I shall carry with me forever.

My friend Andrew Z took his last breath on Friday evening. And, just as he did in life, he surprised us with how he did it.

Andrew was not a quiet man. A larger-than-life character, in business he was a tough negotiator, a fair boss, a brilliant strategist and visionary. Revered by many he lead, he commanded his domain with deft hands and an uncompromising demand for excellence from everyone who sat around him at the board room table. He knew what he wanted and went after making it happen, with gusto. He loved the chase he once told me and dreamt of building a billion-dollar company before he retired.

When he’d succeeded (which he always did) and the time came to let go, he did not go into retirement easily. He sat on many boards, sharing his knowledge and wisdom freely.

We often talked about how challenging he found retirement. And, while he admired me for my work and volunteerism, he knew himself well enough to know not-for-profit boards and volunteering were not for him. Though, when Christmas dinners came around and I insisted our guests first go serve dinner at a homeless shelter, he did not balk. And, when I organized Thanksgiving dinners at a building that housed formerly homeless veterans, he and his beautiful wife, Ula, were the first to join me in making it happen.

Along with his laughter and unwavering friendship, I shall miss sitting around the dinner table diving into conversations about everything from China to the MIddle East, Canadian politics and Indigenous issues and what he considered the ineptness of certain governments to take care of business first.

Andrew read voraciously. He consumed news like a fire consuming oxygen and had a discriminating mind that could drill down into salient facts revealing perspectives I would never have seen without his insight. And, though throughout our over 40 years of friendship I failed to convince him to use “Indigenous Peoples’ and not ‘Indians’, as Andrew read more about Indigenous history and colonialism in Canada, he shifted from asserting ‘it’s a business problem that could be fixed with good management’ to acknowledging that as we ‘the white man’ were the architects of the intergenerational trauma and poverty, racism and discrimination that has destroyed Indigenous culture, lives and well-being, we did not have the answers, nor the right, to dictate the future of Indigenous peoples.

Andrew was my friend. Warm-hearted, generous, loving. I always knew I could lean on him, call on him when times were tough and count on him when times called for a celebration.

Once, when I had ended a relationship I knew needed ending but felt the pain of loss deeply, he called to invite me for dinner. When I walked into their home, Andrew wrapped his arms around me and said, “You can always come here Louise where you know you are loved.”

And, after five years of an abusive relationship, Andrew and Ula stood by my side, helping me stand up again, always supporting me and surrounding me, and my daughters, with their love.

My dear friend Andrew took his last breath on Friday evening. I had spent the day supporting their friend Mark in organizing around-the-clock nursing and palliative care and a hospital bed and all the things that needed to happen for Andrew to have his wish after Covid pneumonia had taken its toll – to die at home.

Mark had promised he would not let him be taken back to hospital and worked feverishly to ensure it didn’t happen.

And then, when the arrangements were all in place and the first nurse due to arrive for the overnight shift, Andrew surprised us all by slipping quietly away while Ula and their son sat in the kitchen quietly chatting and he lay in the living room on his own.

And while I so wish I could have been there to hold his hand as he slipped over, I know this is exactly how Andrew would have wanted it.

No lingering death. No waiting. No tears. No fussing over him.

In an article on death and dying I read on my flight back from Vancouver on Wednesday night, the author suggested something we should all consider, “What will the world look like without me in it?” Imagine it and find peace with your imaginings.

Andrew, my world without you in it has a big hole. To find peace within that void I imagine only Love filling the space you left behind because Love is all there is left to hold onto in your passing.

Thank you my friend for your constant love and care. Thank you for the laughter, the joy, the meals, the times we shared in Barbados and Mexico and the times spent at your beautiful home here and on Barry’s Bay.

Thank you for always being there for me and my daughters. Thank you for loving us all so fiercely and for always letting us know how much you cared.

Thank you for being you. You taught me how to be myself no matter what. And no matter what, I shall always love you.

Namaste