Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


4 Comments

I carry the river’s music with me

Living at the edge of the river, I am conscious of its flow.

Winter snows are melting further to the west. The mountains are casting off their snowy blankets and fields are drying out. The waterways are swollen with the fullness of spring run-off.

There is flooding in other communities in southern Alberta. I watch the river beside our home intently.

In 2013, this broad stretch of water flooded. It flowed over the homes to the west of us covering the neighbouring community in dark and murky water. A neighbour tells me it reached our fence line, and while they were without power for four days, and the street was evacuated, there was no damage to our homes which stand on a bluff 8 feet higher than the other side.

I watch the river intently.

I see the difference in the height of the waterline against the buttresses of the bridge.

There is power in the river.

I love its flow. The gentle lapping of each ripple flowing ever eastward towards Hudson’s Bay far, far away.

In the mornings after my walk with Beaumont, I stand outside our door and listen to the river below. It sounds happy,like it is singing a song of greeting for the morning. Music to start my day.

I carry its music with me.

I live along the river. It is a beautiful place. Serene. Peaceful. There are two bridges not far away. The closest carries people from one side to the other, the further one, traffic. And though the bridge is not far away, the noise is never enough to drown out the sounds of the river racing along its course.

There is always music in the river.

I carry its music with me.


19 Comments

Can you believe it’s been 3 years?

And amidst all that is happening now, this too is happening now.

Three years ago today, my beloved and I stood on a sun-drenched patio overlooking Okanagan Lake. Surrounded by the vineyards of Bench 1775 stretching to its shores and the beautiful mountains on the other side, we said our “I Do’s” and promised to grow through love always.

The day began dark and stormy. I really wanted an outdoor wedding but it appeared Mother Nature had a different idea. The rain fell in heavy sheets. The sky was dark and gloomy. Finally, knowing I had to get back to Therapy Vineyards and Guest House where we were staying and where the girls and I were getting ready for the wedding, we set the chairs and bower up indoors. I reconciled the image I held in my mind of what our wedding would look like to the reality of nature’s downpour and breathed deeply. Love is in the air. Who cares about the rain?

And then, it happened. Just before 4pm when my daughters and I were to arrive at the venue, a friend text me to show me the skies had cleared.

Tell everyone to pick up their chairs and move the wedding outside, I text back.

And they did.

Amidst laughter and good humoured jostling and comments of, ‘trust Louise to put us to work’, guests quickly picked up their chairs and moved everything outside.

The chairs were lined up on the patio. Our dear friend Alyssa placed her chair and cello at the front of the gathered guests and began to play.

My daughters and I walked down the aisle from one direction, while C.C. and his son and daughter appeared from a side entrance. We met in the middle of the aisle. C.C. and I joined hands, kissed our children who lined up behind us and together, we walked to the front of the deck where our friend Al waited to marry us beneath the white, flower laden, bower that had been moved outside when the sun came out.

Across the lake, above the mountains that edged the horizon, fluffy white clouds danced a heavenly chorus beneath the bright blue skies above our heads. The wind blew. It wasn’t all that warm, but I didn’t care.

This is the stuff wedding dreams, and marriages, are made of.

Weathering storms. Confronting obstacles. Changing course. Going with the flow, and always following your heart.

C.C. and I have been married 3 years today.

It hasn’t been all blue skies and sunshiney days. We’ve faced ups and downs and not so pretty moments. We’ve struggled sometimes to understand why the other does what they do. We’ve picked opposite sides. Sometimes, we’ve held our opinions as more important than the space we share as husband and wife.

But, no matter the weather, or the storms, we always come back together to this sacred space where we hold each other in love. Where we honour the other’s opinions and have the courage to let go of whatever side we’re on so that we can stand on the sacred ground of our being together.

Three years ago I said “I Do” to the man who always makes me laugh. He also makes me a smoothie every morning and dinner lots of nights. He is kind and caring and thoughtful and loving. He is willing to stand in the broken places with me so that together, we can find our way deeper into the heart of what makes us, us. To the threads that bind us together stronger and stronger every day. To that which is always the answer, Love.

I am so blessed.

Namaste.

 

 

 


6 Comments

O’ Canada O’Canada. Where has all our innocence gone?

O’ Canada. O’ Canada.

Your news is heavy. Tragic. It sits, restless, in my heart, stirring up grief and sorrow, fear and pain.

Unsettled in its presence, I yearn for those days gone by when thoughts of cars careening into crowds of people walking innocently along a sidewalk on a sunny spring day do not crash into my peace of mind.

I yearn for those days gone by when I did not fathom the darkness that could arise from the depths of our human despair yearning to destroy one another through acts, so horrific, I struggle to fathom how one man could do such a thing.

I do not understand these times, no matter how hard I struggle to make sense of unraveling the senselessness of rampaging along a city street where once I walked, long ago.

I do not know how to measure my feelings amidst the storm of fear and sadness that washes over me when I see the pictures, read the stories of innocent human lives lost to one man’s decision to drive into their springtime wanderings unbidden, unwanted, unseen.

O’ Canada. O’ Canada. Where are we going in this age of unreasonable acts that destroy lives at the intersection of here and now yearning for the there and then of not so long ago.

O’Canada. O’Canada. Death is a final act. To take a life you must have given up completely on your own life. Yet still, the one who did this lives, despite himself.

Will he carry the grief? The sorrow? The horror of knowing what he has done has irrevocably altered the path of
his victims, their families and friends?

Will he look back on what he did and cry out in despair? Will he feel the burden of his acts that lead to such devastation?

Will he mourn with the rest of his countrymen and women?

I mourn for thee O Canada. I mourn for our innocence lost. Our citizens gone. Our world changed.

I mourn for this man who in his darkness created a world of darkness all around.

I mourn and carry my grief, heavy, like a flag bearer marching to the beat of an unseen drummer. I hold my back straight. My head high. You will not bend me. You will not destroy me. I will not succumb to the fear you would embed within my heart. I will not give way to your terror.

Slowly, I walk searching for the way back to Love.

O’ Canada. O’ Canada.

I cry for the fallen and stand on guard for thee.

_______________________________

My heart cries out in sorrow for the lives lost and the families who are missing their loved ones or sitting by the bedsides of those who were injured in yesterday’s devastating tragedy that began at Yonge and Finch in Toronto.

Globe and Mail article

CBC article


8 Comments

I am Alive!

PHOTO SOURCE: CBC Radio April 20, 2018

This is courage. This is strength. This is a woman’s story of survival and victory. An amazing story told by an amazing woman.

I am driving in my car when I hear Anna Maria Tremonti, of CBC’s ‘The Current’, interviewing Grace Acan, a woman who was abducted as a schoolgirl by Ugandan rebels and now helps other casualties of war reclaim their lives.

Tremonti is gentle in her questioning. Careful to allow Grace Acan space to respond. Or not.

I hear the strength, courage, heart in Grace Acan’s voice and find tears pooling along the bottom of my eyelids.

“I learned to do everything — however hard it was — in order to survive,” Acan says. She was was 14 when fighters for the Lord’s Resistance Army came to her school’s dormitory in the dead of night and abducted 139 girls. 30 would be released.  Grace would spend the next 8 years doing whatever it took to survive.

It was all about living. And when her captivity ended with her escape nearly 8 years later, she kept on living. Kept on pushing through her pain and sorrow and fear because, she tells Tremonti, she had to survive, ‘for the family she had left behind and the children she bore while in captivity’.

And my mind travels back to a time when I was released from a relationship that was killing me many years ago. By the end of that 4 year 9 month journey I was emotionally dead. The physicality of my being present here on earth was more of an inconvenience, an annoyance that I knew he would deal with in his own time. That time was getting closer as I had given up on me and fallen into the belief I was powerless over him. I was waiting to die.

And so I waited.

And then, a blue and white police car drove up and two officers got out and arrested the man who had promised to love me until death do us part — as long as he had control of the death part.

I was broke, broken and lost. But I was alive.

What a gift life was!

I remember in those first heady weeks and months of freedom, whenever someone asked me, “How are you?” I’d immediately respond, “I’m alive!” They’d often look at me, surprised, especially if they were a stranger or someone who didn’t know me well. I’d see their confused look and say, “Seriously. Isn’t being alive amazing!”

Most would smile (nervously) and agree and walk on. And I would keep smile and keep walking, one foot in front of the other, as I worked to restore my sense of well-being, my sense of self, of who I am when I’m not carrying the label, “Abused Woman”.

Recovery is a journey. Of hope. Belief. Trust. Love. It is a two steps forward, one back and three forward again. It is a spherical path leading ever further and higher away from the darkness into the light of knowing — Life is a precious gift. Use it wisely. Use it serve others. To create better in this world. To bring light and joy into whatever space you can. Life is precious. Treasure it.

This May 21st marks 15 years since that morning when I got the gift of my life back. I don’t think of those days often. Yet, when I hear a woman like Grace Acan speak, memory tugs and I am reminded once again how blessed I am, how fortunate, how lucky.

I survived that journey. I have rebuilt my life, reclaimed myself, healed and deepened my relationship with my daughters. They were my unseen angels throughout those dark months at the end where I was lost and didn’t believe I had the right to live. It was because of them I never took my own life. It is because of them, I live my life today, passionately in love, honouring the gift of my life fearlessly, totally In Love.

Thank you Grace Acan for having the courage to share your story. Your voice reminds me of the power of my voice and makes me once again breathe deeply into the beauty and wonder of freedom and the gift of being able to joyfully exclaim for all the world to hear, “I am Alive!”

What a gift!

Namaste.

The Current:  Interview with Grace Acan. April 20, 2018


9 Comments

Life is grandson good!

Four generations

I had no idea being a grandmother, or YiaYa as I’m called, would make my heart feel so incredibly full. I had no idea.

But isn’t that just like life? We don’t really know what it feels like to do or experience something… until we do. And then — Wham! It hits you. Life is full of miracles and adventures and incredible happenings that have the capacity to take your breath away and leave you feeling so sated, life before pales in comparison to life now.

C.C. and I drove Alexis and our grandson, Thurlow, to the airport last night for their journey home. It was bittersweet. Spending the last week with him has been a beautiful journey of laughter, joy and Love. Knowing he is going home with a mother who loves him so deeply and to the welcoming arms of his very excited father helps soften the sadness of their departure and though there is distance between us, I carry him in my heart.

The only two creatures in our home this morning who were happy for the quiet were Beaumont and Marley. Both furry kids had their noses slightly out of joint at all the attention paid to the bundle of joy called Thurlow. Marley disappeared into the furnace room throughout the day, coming up at night when the coast was clear to sleep on our bed. Beaumont ventured a couple of licks of Thurlow’s feet, but aside from that, he mostly gave him a wide berth.

It is stunning to watch my beautiful daughter as a mother. She is soft and gentle, caring and relaxed. She takes everything in her stride, singing and cooing to her son as she cuddles and feeds him. She moves with his flow, timing her actions to his needs. She is amazing.

It was also incredible to watch my mother as she met her Great Grandson. She was so excited and thankful to be able to have the privilege to be here to meet him and told him she is looking forward to watching him grow. She turns 96 in August and is hoping Alexis will bring him back to wish her Happy Birthday. I hope so too!

In the meantime, I shall revel joyfully in this state of blissful YiaYa-hood and savour each video call and photo my daughter sends.

Life is good.

 

 

 


6 Comments

Love is here!

Getting sleepier and sleepier and sleepier

The love of my life has arrived.

Okay, well there are others I love. C.C., my daughters, family, friends, pets. But Thurlow my grandson, he holds a special place.

He arrived last night. All 11 pounds of pure love and delight swept into our home with his mother and father, and completely took over our home, and hearts.

I’ll not be online much for the next week. Early mornings are YiaYa time. It was a pattern we got into when I stayed with my daughter and son-in-love just after Thurlow was born.

Alexis would wake up early. Feed him and then lay him in my arms. For the next two or so hours, she would sleep and I would savour my alone time with this tiny being who has captured my heart.

I am in Love and what a wonderful place to be!


3 Comments

What’s holding you back?

I believe that when we are born, our unwritten stories hold the untold promises of our unique possibility.

And then, life happens and the promise of our potential becomes lost in the limits of our reality. We experience life in ways that we cannot imagine and, looking out through the eyes of a child, simply do not make sense. Ill-equipped to handle the sometimes harsh and bitter winds of life, we harden our hearts, build up walls, shut off feeling to cope with what we don’t understand and have no tools to cope with.

It isn’t that life set out to hurt us, it is that we were unprotected for far too long and learned to do anything that worked to keep from feeling the pain of whatever happened to us. In our need to protect ourselves from the pain we don’t understand, we end up hurting ourselves with the very limitations and beliefs we adopted to keep ourselves safe.

To justify wherever we’re at, we tell ourselves stories about how it’s safer this way. Safer to keep our hearts locked up, our feelings stuffed down, our senses shut off, if only because it feels less scary, less frightening, less everything to stay locked within than to risk letting our hearts run wild.

We grow up and fight to hold onto the limitations that we created to keep us from feeling the pain of being lost in a world that doesn’t make sense. We carry on until we are living in a box so small we are suffocating within its restrictions. We can’t breathe. We can’t move. We can’t feel.

But we don’t dare look at the walls of our box. We don’t dare attempt to break free because, remember… and we list the litany of things that life not safe out there… The last time you tried to break free your heart was broken, your hopes dashed, your dreams ridiculed. Remember? And our minds embrace the idea that keeping ourselves safe means locking our hearts and dreams behind the walls of our self-defenses so that nobody can touch us in a way that will hurt us ever again.

And life goes on and we become accepting of the idea, this is the only way it can be. This is the way I am and I am safer when I play the part I know.

But we wish…

We yearn for…

We want…

Freedom.

From the pain of living life one short breath at a time.

We wish…

We yearn for…

We want…

Freedom.

From the pain of walking on broken glass with every step we take.

We wish…

We yearn for…

We want…

Freedom.

From the pain of believing we are worthless, useless, unwanted, unloveable, un-everything we tell ourselves is true if only because, believing in the lie of our limitations is familiar. It’s safer. No one can hurt us if we don’t let them see into our hearts, we tell ourselves. And we shut down.

For years, I spent five days eight or nine times a year, immersed in Choices Seminars as a coach. In that room, I had the gift of being witness to people’s hearts as they opened up to the beauty and magnificence of their truth.

So much time spent breathing into the essential beauty of our human condition has left me feeling, humbled, joyful, grateful, hopeful.

We can change our world, one heart at a time.

In that room,  dreams awaken and hearts break open to find their own special beat. In that room, I have heard silent suffering become a powerful voice announcing to all the world, I am here. I am alive. I am willing to begin this journey of living my life on the outside of my comfort zone. I am willing to go for the gusto. I am willing to break free of the past so that today, in this moment right now I can breathe freely and soar higher than I ever imagined. Because, it doesn’t matter whether I take one baby step or one giant leap, it is my journey, my flight into freedom and no matter how I take it, I am worthy, deserving, capable of Love.

Choices Seminars is happening at the end of this month, as it does eight times every year, here in Calgary, Dallas and Vancouver.

Everyone deserves to let their heart run wild, their dreams soar, their pain ease.

If you’re looking for tools to help you run wild, set your dreams free to soar, or simply to find out more about the most fascinating person in your world (that would be you 🙂 ) I can’t think of a better, safer, more loving place than the Choices Seminars.

Go ahead. Give it a go. Click this link and find out for yourself!

___________________________

And just so you know, no one paid me, asked me or coerced me into writing this post or suggesting Choices. I just know what incredible value its created in my life and want everyone in the world to experience what can happen when they discover tools to live their best life yet!