I begin again: Happy New Year!

At Onement  36 x 36" Mixed Media

At Onement
36 x 36″ Mixed Media

It is time.

Time to let go. Time to renew.

I begin again.

On this the birthplace of a new year, the last day of 2013 begins to slip away as I prepare to let go of what was to allow what is calling out to be birthed in this New Year awakening.

It is time.

Time to travel inward. Time to evoke Spirit to awaken my senses to what is being birthed in the dawning of one year from the next.

I began with a journey into spirit this morning. The invitation came through my beautiful blogger friend and guide, Leigh at Not Just Sassy on the Inside, who invited me to encounter my Spirit Ally through the teaching’s at Karen Chrappa’s blog, A Structure for Spirit.  Using Karen’s voice as my guide, and following the call of the drums, I journeyed deep into my inner realms to encounter my Spirit Ally who has been there always, throughout time, waiting for me to arrive at where I have always been.

In the safe and courageous space Karen creates,  I met my Spirit Ally, The Eagle. She stood at the edge of a cavern deep underground and when she opened her wings wide,  the underside of her wings were brilliant jewels glittering like precious gems in every colour of the rainbow. I breathed in her beauty and a voice called out from deep within me, “We are all One. Beautiful creations of light, born to be magnificent in every dimension.”

The journey Karen leads you on takes just half an hour of real time, but in time’s passing, eternity opens up and I felt connected, in all ways, to life and living and stepping beyond the pale of every day into the wild side of creation.

It was an appropriate and fitting ending leading to the beginning of another year.

It is an excellent beginning of a year of At Onement. A year waiting to be explored from that place within me where I seek to know what it means, feels and is to live at one with all creation. At one with myself. With the world around me. With every human. With every creature, big and small.

At Onement embodies serenity. Calm. Joy. Awareness. It speaks to me of being conscious of the yin and yang of my existence. The light and dark of my being, human, alive, present, here. It speaks to being conscious of every footstep I take upon this planet earth, every breath I inhale, every word I speak, everything I do that has the possibility to destroy or create life in harmony with all.

I first wrote of this word that was calling to me on my blog in early December.  It’s entry into my consciousness began with resistance. A desire to push it back. Away.

In its common usage today, At onement is one word. Atonement. But originally, it was two, At Onement.

To be One with God. To be One with all Creation. To be One with All, requires repentance and forgiveness. It requires a giving up of ego states that would have us believe we are not enough, to give in to the pure magnificence of our human essence that lives at the core of all creation.

It is a good word for me to carry throughout the year. A good word to guide me, to enrich me, to direct me and deepen within me. I struggle with forgiveness. I struggle with acknowledging my imperfections, my mistakes, weaknesses, foibles. I struggle with maintaining the facade of ‘perfection’ that separates me from accepting my human perfection in all my imperfect doings.

And in its light I know, my intent is not to be perfect. It is to be magnificently human.

As 2013 draws to a close, I feel the opening of possibility. I sense the wonder of a new day dawning, of new birth, new life, new creation.

It is time to let go, to give up control, to surrender and fall, In Love.

A new year begins at the edge of the passing of the old and in  its awakening, I surrender my resistance. Free, I step into 2014 awakened to the possibilities of what can be when I set my intention to be at one with all creation in all I think, see, feel and create.

I am excited. With my Spirit Ally to guide and protect me, I begin again.

Happy New Year!

Happy Me!

Happy You!

Happy All!



Here’s to fearless creation!

"Pondi, je me souviens."

“Pondi, je me souviens.”

I’ve never looked my age. Haven’t really acted it either. Maybe that’s why 60 is feeling odd. I’m letting my age get into my head and become… ‘discombobulating’.

What is 60? What does it look like? What does it mean to be 60? How does it feel?

Well, I know it feels like this, this body I’m in, but that doesn’t feel old, it just feels… less young. You know, like skiing the moguls at ultra-fast speed just isn’t something I’m going to jump out of bed and do today – but that’s not because my body’s older. It’s mostly because having whipped through the bumps with nary a thought about stopping a few too many times, I’ve also got a knee that’s minus its ACL which means lateral movement without a brace does not induce a state of stability — and a brace does not make whipping through the bumps all that easy. And just to be clear, I incurred that injury when I was younger, so it obviously had nothing to do with age.

So, 60 isn’t necessarily physical, though I do have a thumb that is sore and stiff — making opening jars and holding heavy things more challenging than in the past. But I figure that’s why I have C.C. around, he can do those things for me because he doesn’t have a genetic pre-disposition to arthritis.

And 60 isn’t emotional. I don’t ‘feel’ older, even though I know I am. I just feel like me — which is a little bit silly, a little bit smart, a little bit crazy, a little bit serious, a little bit caring and compassionate and giving and thoughtful and kind and considerate and funny and nice and really good with words but not so good with numbers and really good with clutter and not that good with order and really good with cooking and not that good with cleaning and… you get the picture. I’m a lot of things and no matter what I am, I am  a whole bunch creative.

And that’s what the 60’s bring to me. A willingness, a desire, a compelling need to be and feel and allow my creative self to breathe and express itself however it wants.

Which is why, since putting away the last of the Christmas dinner dishes, I have been spending my time painting.

Who cares that the house needs vaccuming or the toilet needs scrubbing? There’s a canvas waiting for a gentle touch, a fierce expression, a daub of colour, a splash of texture and a whole bunch of paint.

Perhaps that will be my motto for the 60s. “I’d rather be painting.”

Perhaps, ridding myself of the past decades has left room for more creativity to arise. Perhaps, the artist in me is finding her voice, and her power, and is now fearlessly letting it fly free!

Now that would be exciting. And liberating.

To be fearless in the expression of my creative.

My friend Ursula says it’s something about me she admires. How fearlessly I attack the canvas, letting whatever appears happen.

I like that.

To allow. To let go. To let be. To let become.

To stop stopping myself mid brush-stroke, to stop over-thinking each step of the way and to simply allow and let become what is appearing.

It isn’t a practice as much as an allowing. An opening up to intuition. A giving into my creative voice finding its true expression through everything I do and create.

I’m not into stick-handling it. I’m into allowing it to find its own voice and have its way with me.

So here’s to letting go of trying to figure out what a number means. Here’s to finding my value in the fearless expression of all that I am when I allow myself to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with all that I become when I set myself free to create and express myself in the rapture of this moment right now.

Here’s to fearless creation.


The painting is the story of my mother’s remembrances of her homeland, Pondicherry, India, where she was born. A former French colony, she once described “Pondi” to me as “Shangri-la”. In her memories, it is a perfect place. Our memories can be deceiving, hence, the one black butterfly on the tree trunk and the black birdcage. Often, memory traps us into believing what was remains true today. What we remember is not the past as it was, but as we wished it to appear.

You are many. You are mighty. You are the spirit of a veteran’s Christmas.


“They found me sleeping in a park,” he says. “This place [The Madison] saved my life.”


“We’re a community here now,” he tells me in response to his own question of what is different this Christmas over last at The Madison. I agree.


“I’ve got two friends coming over to share in the turkey I’ve got cooking in my oven,” he emphasizes the ‘my’ as he explains why he won’t be sharing Christmas dinner in the common room. “Haven’t been able to do that in way too many years.”


“I wasn’t sure who was doing the cranberry sauce, so I made my special homemade sauce just in case,” he smiles and hands me a tub of his very own cranberry sauce. “I used to make this at home. A long time ago. It felt good to be able to do it for the guys today.”


“I lost ten years of my life to the streets. A decade. That’s a lot of time at my age. I’ll never get them back.”


“I talked to my brother on the coast,” says one man. He still lives in a shelter. His friend had invited him to spend Christmas at The Madison. “Nothing worse than spending Christmas day in a shelter,” he tells me. “It reminds you of everything you’ve lost. But I’ve been in touch with my brother. He’s talking about bringing me out to the coast. He wants to help me. I should be gone by spring.”


“I don’t have to worry about dying on the streets no more,” he says. “I’ve got a home.”


“I love you guys,” he says to the men sitting around the table in the common room. “You’re my family now.”

This was Christmas dinner at The Madison. A time of laughter, of teasing one another, of sharing. A time to enjoy companionship, turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, and, dare I say it, store bought pie. My doing. I apologized to the men and told them how I’d forgotten about dessert and by the time I remembered, I didn’t have time to create something original. They laughed and teased me and told me I was fired. Last time they invited me to cook their Christmas dinner, they joked.

I felt like I was surrounded by brothers, young and old. A family. A community. I felt welcomed. Included. Special. I felt like I belonged. 

And that welcome extended to the two volunteers who came down to help out. There was no hesitancy in the welcome. No caution. This is our home. You are welcome, they said. And then, proceeded to include them in the joking and ribbing, the sparring and jostling. Randy brought buns. Gail mashed potatoes. Jane made candied yams that Al delivered, Ursula sent sweet potato pie and Charles made a special trip to deliver the beets and pear dish as well as the brussels sprouts I’d forgotten at home. I’d gone down earlier in the morning to stuff the turkey and put it in the oven, and Pat, the Alpha House staff on duty, carefully basted it throughout the day. (Alpha House operates the 16 unit Madison building which is owned by the Calgary Homeless Foundation to provide housing and supports to formerly homeless veterans.)

When I got back at 1, the turkey was turning golden brown, the aroma of it cooking permeating the air. One of the residents helped me set the table, another helped with organizing the dishes of food I’d brought. Slowly, the men trickled in.

Before we could do dinner though, they had to give gifts to two children of a single mom who sometimes comes in to help out. The mother, her sister, and her parents arrived with the two young children in tow and the men excitedly gave them their gifts. Together, they’d collected $150 for the kid’s presents. The look of joy on their faces as they watched the kids open their gifts spoke of Christmases past, of family ties, some long broken, some yet to be restored. Their faces and rapt attention spoke of hope and love and joy.

And then, the children handed out baskets filled with Christmas stocking goodies to each of the men and there were tears and laughter and sadness and joy all mixed in together. Pat, the staff member, handed out the gifts the Christmas WishList volunteers had bought for all the men and I watched their faces glow in the memory of what it feels like to be given a special gift on Christmas morning. Of being remembered, of feeling important, of knowing someone cared enough to buy you that special something you’d wanted.

I shared my Christmas with the veterans at The Madison. It is the second year I’ve been blessed with this gift of community. The second year I’ve been surrounded by those who are willing to contribute to making it possible, and those who open their homes, and hearts to my presence.

“Thank you for allowing me into your Christmas day,” I told the men at the end of the meal. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here. Thank you for teasing me and making me feel welcome. Thank you. You help make my Christmas very, very special.”

Thank you to everyone who contributed to Christmas at The Madison this year. To Veronica, Andrena, Wendy, Sharyn, RoseMary, Brandi, Andrew, Kathy, John, Rosemarie, Dan, Jackie, Jim, Liseanne, Sinead, Randy, Anne, Charles, Al, Jane, Tamara, Ursula, Gail and many many more as well as the staff at Alpha House.

You are many and you are mighty. You have made an enormous difference. You have touched many hearts.

You are the spirit of Christmas.


Good tidings of comfort and joy.

IMG_4886So this is Christmas.

The tree is adorned with ornaments filled with memories of Christmases past and tiny lights shimmer in the cold winter’s night. The house is all dressed up in glitter and glam and boughs and bows festoon every doorway.

Cookies bake in the oven. Christmas cakes rest in a bed of rum and special treats are tucked away in tins awaiting family and other guests who will arrive throughout the holidays. And children’s voices laugh and sing and cry out in anticipation of finding out what Santa left them under the tree.

So this is Christmas.

On city streets, in malls and stores, people scurry about searching for that perfect thing to buy Great Aunt Lucy and brother Dan while clerks vie for shopper’s favour in the hopes that this holiday season cash registers will chime and coffers will be filled with enough coin to last the year.

So this is Christmas.

And in the mad rush to wrap one more gift, tie one more bow, set one more place at the table, there is little time to reflect upon tidings of comfort and joy. There is little space to remember shepherds in their fields that night long ago who kept watch as angels voices raised on high, Rejoice! Rejoice! O’ Israel. To thee shall come Immanuel.

Seventeenth century German mystic Angelus Silesius wrote: ““I must be the Virgin and give birth to God.”

At the heart of Christian theology and tradition is the birth of a child in a manger over 2,000 years ago. It is his birth that gives rise to our Christmas celebrations today. It is his birth that dwells in the tender and delicate flesh of not just those who share the Christian faith but of all humanity. It is a birth that inspires each of us, no matter our faith, to ‘give birth to God’ in every breath, every act, every moment, of our lives.

Over 2,000 years ago a child was born unto Mary and Joseph. And all the world was watching. It was a much less connected world back then. There was no satellite, no Internet, no instant messaging to herald the great tidings.

There was only a husband and his wife finding shelter in a manger. There were only shepherds in a field and three Magi on the road invited to behold the wondrous tidings of the coming of Christ the King of whom angels sang.

And there was Herod. A paranoid King who feared the birth of a child would change his world forever more. And in his fury he fought to protect all that he had and lost sight of all that was possible if he were to let go of fear and surrender unto Love.

For this is the story of Christmas. A story of Love. Of hope and joy and possibility. It is a story that resonates today as it did over 2,000 years ago when to bring forth a child with such promise shook the very foundation of society and unleashed the fury of a king who killed innocents to protect his world and keep it safe.

For this is the story of Christmas. In a time when sorrow and sadness cry out in headline news, when strangers kill one another and innocents fall from bullets flying through city streets, and children die of drug overdoses and armies fight over territories long disputed and bombs fall on sleeping victims and we fear for the safety of those we love in disaster-struck lands and worry about the cost of food and sky-rocketing rents and whether we’ll have a job next year or next week or whether there’s enough food, enough time, enough medicine to heal the ones we love, this is the story of Christmas.

The story of birth. Of promise. Of possibility. A story of Love. Love for one another. Love for oneself. A story of birthing that which we have in limitless capacity, to give, to hold onto, to share, to be every moment of every day. To fill every breath we take.

In these times when sorrow and loss threaten to overcome peace, let us take refuge in the light. Let us breathe hope into our dreams of peace and joy descending upon the world. Let us be courageous. Let us reach out to one another in peace. Let us each be the light for all to see the path to living together in a world of peace, hope, love and joy is through giving birth to God through Love for one another with every breath we take.

No matter your faith, no matter the pew in which you kneel or the God to whom you pray, or the festivities in which you partake, may comfort and joy embrace you and may you be inspired to live illuminated in the light of Love every season of the year.

The Madison Christmas WishList is ONLINE

Christmas at The Madison

The Christmas WishList

It is Christmas once again and once again, Christmas at the Madison is in full swing. The concert is over. The gift list is done. Now all that needs to happen is for the gifts to be bought, the dinner to be made and the celebrations to begin.

And that’s where you can come in. Each year, to support the veterans living at The Madison, a housing first initiative owned by the Calgary Homeless Foundation and operated by Alpha House society, we buy gifts for each of the 15 residents to provide them that special something they wish for this Christmas.

Thank you to Liseanne and Sinead who spent an evening at The Madison interviewing the residents to find out their wishes. Your willingness to share your time and talents are very appreciated.

The following are from the Interview Sheets each tenant was invited to fill out. Of the 15 residents, two didn’t want to fill out a form as they already have more than they need. They will be given a gift card to ensure they receive something under the tree on Christmas Day. There are still 3 forms to be uploaded.

If you choose to purchase a present for someone, please email me to let me know — louise[at]louisegallagher.ca  — and I will give you the instructions/address for the Madison — we ask that you please drop off the gifts to the Madison, or to my house, whichever is most convenient. I can be reached via email at: louise[at]louisegallagher.ca I’ll send you a confirmation email with the details once you let me know if you are participating and for whom you are purchasing a gift. If a gift has already been sponsored — thank you to the sponsoree — it will be noted in RED.

Thank you. I appreciate your generosity of spirit and your willingness to make a difference in the life of a stranger.

Blessings to you and a very merry and joyous Christmas!

The Madison Christmas WishList

Doug D.

Doug was born in Ontario where he served with the military. When he left the forces he became a tractor trailer driver and moved to Alberta for work. He has a 26 year old son who still lives in Ontario and dreams of being able to drive tractor trailer again and live independently. He’s working towards his goal and is grateful that he is no longer homeless and living in a shelter.

Doug likes to read suspense novels, listen to country music and watch shows such as Sons of Anarchy.

WISHLIST: Doug suffers from severe back pain and would like an Electric Heating Pad. SPONSORED. Thank you!

Peter P.

Born in Kirklandlake, Ontar, Peter is the second of 3 children. A former Navy man, Peter came to calgary in 2011 where he stayed at the Mustard Seed for several months until somone at Veterans Affairs told him about The Madison. He will be forever grateful.

Peter is grateful for the second chance living at The Madison represents for him. He likes that the building has controlled access and 24/7 staffing and that his apartment is newly renovated. He likes his home.

Peter likes to read historical non-fiction and fiction and has a yen for folk and country music and watching sports and documentaries on TV.

WISHLIST: Peter loves to read and would really appreciate a gift card to Chapters. Sponsored. Thank you.

Bruce H.

For some of the residents, providing details on their lives is daunting. One of the challenges of homelessness is often that your life is not your own — and thus when given a chance, it can take a long time before someone opens up. We are grateful Bruce chose to fill in what his Christmas wishes are.

WISHLIST: Bruce needs a new white shirt (L) and men’s underwear (Briefs – M) — or surprise him with anything! Sponsored. Thank you!

Patrick TC.

Patrick was a rifleman in the army and moved to Calgary from Victoria looking for a new way of life. A father of 4 children, Patrick is also an avid Flames fan. For Patrick, the biggest thing about the Madison that brings him joy is that — he has freedom in his own place because… it’s home.

Patrick likes to watch television and will reading anything — if it looks good, but he’s a country man when it comes to music.

WISHLIST: A pair of size 9 running shoes + a 2014 calendar. SPONSORED. Thank you!

Gerry Z.

At 70 Gerry is the oldest resident at The Madison. When asked what brought him to The Madison, he replied that they found him living in a park. What he likes msot about the Madison is that he is amongst people who care, it’s clean and very lovely.

He likes to read and listen to… you guessed it… country music and watch sports and movies on TV.

WISHLIST: He’s an XL in shirts, and would really like an Electric Mixer or a set of Double Sheets for his bed. Sponsored. Thank you!

James C.

James C. was born and raised in Alberta and has spent most of his life here, including when he was in the military. He likes living at the Madison as it’s much better than a shelter and because, it’s home. His plan is to volunteer somewhere after Christmas because he’d like to give back.

Like the others, his favourite music is country, but none of that new stuff. He’s a purist with the likes of George Straight. He doesn’t read much but he does like to watch Clint Eastwood movies.

WISHLIST: A pair of warm gloves SPONSORED. Thank you!  or a military style combat jacket in XL.

Blaine S.

Calgary born Blaine’s military career lead him to service in Cyprus, Lebanon and Germany. A heart attack lead him into homelessness where he stayed at the DI until coming to live at the Madison in May. He’s been teaching some of the guys how to play piano and is learning how to take care of himself again and how to be part of the community at the Madison. For Blaine, being amongst veterans is important because he feels he can connect better with those who understand his experiences.

Blaine isn’t a big reader but he’s definitely an accomplished musician able to play seven instruments including the sax, bagpipes, piano and flute. When he’s not playing an instrument he’s a movie fanatic, in particular horror and zombie films.

WISHLIST: Slow Cooker (a 1 – 3 serving one would be totally awesome!)  SPONSORED — Thank you!

Don K.

Don is one of 7 children born in Calgary. His journey to the Madison was initiated through Veterans Affairs, and he’s very grateful. He appreciates having his own place to live and that he gets to be the House Rep representing clients with staff of Alpha House.

Don likes old rock and watching sports on TV.

WISHLIST: A hat or scarf from the Boston Bruins + a 2014 Calendar. SPONSORED. Thank you!

Let the change begin with me.

The requests are simple. An electric kettle. A set of double sheets. A heating pad. A gift card to a bookstore.

And underneath the requests, is that place of humility. Of humanness. Of gratitude. Of community.

This is the second year we’ve organized Christmas at the Madison. The second year we’ve held the concert. Interviewed clients for the wishlist, bought gifts and put on Christmas dinner.

It isn’t something I do alone. It’s something that happens becase many people commit to being part of it, to sharing their talents, time and treasures to ensure no one is left out in the cold on Christmas morning.

The wishlist idea stemmed from my work at the homeless shelter where for over 7 years now, clients have been invited to share a bit of their story that is then put online so that Calgarians can read their wish and possibly make it come true this Christmas.

Yesterday, I spoke with Jennie Keeran, the founder and brilliance behind the Christmas WishList, and the found of “Homeless Partners“. When she originally walked into my office in 2007 I really had no idea what she was talking about, or even if it was possible to fulfill on her dream of sharing the spirit of Christmas with clients at the shelter. But, Jennie is a woman of vision. A woman who doesn’t recognize the limits of ‘no’ and sees only the possiibilities of ‘yes’.

That first year of hosting the WishList for Homeless Partners was kerr-aazy!

Volunteers descended upon the shelter night after night, organized by the indefatigable Brandi M who also hears only the power of yes — Yes! Of course we can do that. Yes! Let’s make it work. Between Brandi and Jennie, and all the volunteers they organized to interview and to post the stories and wishes online, over 600 people received a gift of their choice that year.

It was incredible. Mark P, who works at the shelter, and his wife Natalie dove into receiving and organizing and sorting the gifts, giving up their Christmas weekend to be on site to ensure every gift was placed into the right hands, every thank you was captured.

The Christmas WishList is a story of community and collaboration. It’s about being committed to not just ‘giving’ but of connecting, hand to hand, heart to heart, to ensure everyone feels seen, acknowledged, visible on Christmas morning.

Yesterday, when I chatted with Jennie, I found myself enveloped once again in that special place that she creates where there are no limits, no ‘can’t do that’s’ no, impossible’s!

I found myself sharing in this one woman’s passion, commitment and heart. I found myself inspired to keep turning up, to keep allowing, to keep being the change I want to see in the world.

It is for me, a wonderful gift to receive. To be reminded, that no matter what, it isn’t how people receive that makes the difference, it’s that I give. My best. My all. My utmost to ensuring this world becomes a kinder, more caring, more compassionate and just world — every day of the year.

Yes, the Wishlist focuses on Christmas. But underneath the glitter and the bows, the gift-giving and the unwrapping, is the message that speaks to me of what it means to be alive and breathing on this planet every day of the year.

We are all one planet. One air we breathe. One earth upon which we walk. And while maps may show invisible lines of demarcation, zones where war wages and countries are bounded by barbed wire and armed guards, there is no dividing line between our humanity.

We are all one.

We all have the capacity to give. To create. To be the change we want to see in the world.

I want to see a more compassionate, caring, kind and loving world. I want to see a world where children do not awaken to bombs exploding in the night or dive beneath their beds (if they have one) to avoid being beaten.

I want to live in a world where everyone knows, they matter. Where everyone feels their own power to express themselves in ways that create a world of awe and wonder. A world where being kind to one another trumps doing whatever it takes to make sure no one gets me before I get them.

I want to live in a world where Christmas wishlists are no longer needed because no one is that far from home they cannot reach out to touch and be touched by the one’s they love.

And until that happens, I will continue to do whatever I can to create a world where I am free to give my all to ensure that where ever I am, whatever I’m doing, I am the change I want to see in the world.

It’s the least I can do to ensure that the Jennie Keeran’s of the world and all those who work so hard to make a difference know, they’re not alone. I may not be able to do all that they do, but I sure can lend a hand and do my most to be part of the magic they create when they turn up and ask me to say, “Yes!”

Because, while there may not be a Santa Claus, we can all do our part to light up the dark by turning up and letting the brilliance of our hearts shine for all the world to see.


What will we do with this one wild and precious life? Shine!

I am searching for that place where creative resonance binds itself to the unfolding of every moment. I am searching for that place where my every moment is illuminated in the glow of my creative essence come alive in day-to-day living.

It is not just any space. It is a sacred space. A space of balance. Essence. Life.

It is a space where I know I am alive with love, joy, creativity flowing through my pores, flowing through my body.

It is a space where my every breath is drawn from the collective consciousness of our shared humanity.

It is a space where every breath resides deep within my creative core, illuminating every thought, word and deed with the essence of my being human and alive at this time, on this planet, right now.

There are moments when I feel it. When I know, I’m in it. In the zone. Touching the nirvana of every cell awakened to the brilliance of my being alive.

And then, it vanishes. Gets washed away by the busy-ness of one moment flowing into another with its laundry list of things to get done, places to go and duties to call upon. And in its disappearance, I am left in silent yearning for it to embrace me once again with the beauty and sacredness of its presence.

It is the ‘at onement’ I seek of living my life fully awakened in the rapture of now. Fully embodying my human essence, my creative nature, my magnificent self.

I am yearning to engage in a deeper emergence of my soul-filled life.

It is a yearning I have held in awe and wonder for a very long time. It is my soul calling me to step free of ‘being busy’. It is my heart calling me to let go of expectations and step full-heartedly into expressing, through every breath I take, the depth of my essence calling me to awaken into this creation, this life, this moment of knowing, this is my one and only life.

This is for each of us, our one and only life. For each one of us, a unique expression of all that we are, all that we are capable of, all that we are destined to create. We are each treasures beyond riches imaginable. Precious gems of life on earth.

What will we do with this one wild and precious life?



We weren’t able to get all the forms filled out for Christmas at the Madison. I will post them tomorrow morning, or later today if I get them soon enough.

Blessings and gratitude.

Christmas at the Madison — The WishList

Christmas in a homeless shelter can be a place of sadness. In the heightened joy and glitter of season, when people are scurrying about buying gifts, sharing hugs and well-wishes, the state of homelessness feels all that more oppressive, all that more surreal. So many people lost. So many missing.

In the excess that is Christmas time, the lack of ‘everything’ is heightened. While we plan on gatherings around dining room tables laden with food, those experiencing homelessness plan on a day like every other. And though they too will be sharing in turkey and hams and home cooked meals, they’ll be sharing them with those who share the lack that is homelessness.

Creating special times at Christmas can be challenging for staff at a shelter. In 2007, Jennie and Dan Keeran walked into my office at the shelter where I used to work and explained how they wanted to make everyone at the shelter feel special. Their project was, and continues to be called, Homeless Partners.

“We have a database in which we enter everyone’s names and a short story about them, along with their Christmas Wish,” Jennie explained as if there was nothing to interviewing 1,000+ people, loading the data into a database, gathering the gifts, sorting them and passing them out.

It was her belief, her passion and her absolute conviction it was doable that convinced me to say, “Of course we want to be part of it all!”

I’m so grateful I did. I’m so grateful for JEnnie and Dan who continue to run Homeless Partners (www.homelesspartners.com) across the country. Their vision creates magic and wonder in the lives of thousands. Their heart melts even the coldest night.

One of the most important, and moving, parts of the Wish List are the interviews. Volunteers come in and meet with clients and share a few moments talking about their lives. In my daughter, Alexis’ blog today, she shares what happened for her when she came in to sit down with clients and ask gentle, yet probing questions that allowed them to make a connection and share their Christmas wish. I remember the night she writes of, the man she hugged, the tears they shared. It was a tender, delicate moment that lit up my heart too.

Last night, my youngest daughter went with a friend to The Madison and interviewed the tenants for our mini-version of The Christmas WishList. The Madison is an apartment building for formerly homeless veterans that is owned by the Foundation I work for and operated by Alpha House. Through the concert and other activities, I raise funds for Christmas at the Madison to ensure each veteran feels connected, remembered and part of a community.

As I sat and watched my daughter and her friend interact with the gentlemen at the Madison I felt the grace of Love and compassion descend. Two young 20 something women sat in the common room and greeted the residents with a smile and invited them to sit down for a chat. They laughed and shared and filled in the questionnaire and the men were gracious and funny and caring as they talked about their past, what they like most about being at The Madison and what it is they want most for Christmas, and in their lives.

I am grateful. Years ago, Jennie and Dan walked into my office and shared an idea. Their idea continues to grow and glow and inspire others to share the spirit and beauty of Christmas however they can.

I will be putting the WishList up on my blog tomorrow and Friday in the hopes that others join us in creating community at the MAdison this Christmas.

If you’re in Calgary and want to play a part, please send me an email at louise[at]louisegallagher.ca and I’ll send you the details. I’ve already received 15 jars of homemade jam from the lovely Joy M who like last year, gives from her heart to make Christmas a home-grown event at The Madison.

Blessings and light to all.

Computer woes and wizards

I have bugs. Ok. Not me personally but my laptop does. Little malicious malware kind of bugs the techie gurus tell me so my friend Robert has taken away my laptop to rescue me from their dastardly designs.

Thank you Robert!

I ran into Robert at the grocery store on the day of our early Christmas dinner. The sink had not yet backed up and the day was looking wide-open and full of the excitement of 23 people about to descend upon our home to share in love and laughter.

Robert was a man I knew from the homeless shelter where I used to work. He’d come to the shelter at a time when his life was looking a bit grim. A serious battle with cancer was raging in his body and he was searching for somewhere, something to divert his attention and energies. The shelter has a computer lab that repairs and prepares old computers to be given away to low income families. Robert knew little about computers but needed a new career to give him hope. And so, he began spending his time in the lab, volunteering and helping out however he could. It’s who he is.

Over the course of the next few years, Robert would lend a hand in the refurbishing of hundreds of computers, and find himself challenging the exams to become a computer technician. It’s one of the offerings of the computer lab — clients at the shelter can study for their computer technicians certification, and take the exams, free of charge. Under the tutelage of Alex and Rufo who run the lab, there’s lots of support and encouragement along the way.

For Robert, having their support and the opportunity to learn a new skill gave him a new lease on life.

We chatted about ‘the old days’ and I asked him about his computer expertise. I’d forgotten about how much he loved to chat about computers! And tell funny stories.

I hadn’t forgotten my computer was infected. HOw could I? Everytime I turned it on, it whirred and heaved and sighed and hissed and was slow and tardy in its responsiveness.

That and the fact the registry cleaner I’d purchased had informed me it was sick, sick, sick.

I needed help but didn’t feel comfortable handing over control to some unseen voice on the phone and unknown hands operating from Florida. I like the name Boca Raton but it does not suggest confidence in computer wizardry.

I know Robert. Used to laugh and joke with him every time I stepped into the computer lab at the shelter. No matter how tough his battle, how grim the day, or slim his prospects, Robert always had a kind word, a positive reflection and a cute joke to share. He always put a smile on my face.

“Are you still fixing computers?” I asked him as we stood in the aisle at the grocery store, the noise and busy-ness ebbing and flowing around us.

“Not at the moment,” he replied. And he held up the small leather bag he was holding. It was a small dog carrier and inside was Maggie, the nieghbour’s dog he walks and cares for. “Maggie’s mom is in the hospital so I’m taking care of her. Between spending time at the hospital and walking Maggie, I’m pretty busy. I want to get back into it though. If I didn’t love working with computers so much, I’d probably do something around working with animals,” he added with his signature grin widening on his face.

“well, if you want to get back into computers, I’m looking for someone to hire to heal mine. It’s really sick.” And I told him about its diagnosis and the malware that was clogging its thinking.

“Let me help,” he said which is why yesterday, he came over and picked up my laptop and is now working away on cleaning it up.

I am relieved. I trust Robert. I like him. And, I know that in giving him my laptop, it will come back to me in better shape than when it left.

That’s who Robert is. He cares. He takes pride in his work, and he always, always gives his best.

I love how life comes full circle. HOw a man I met at a homeless shelter can walk into my life year’s later and share the gifts he gained in that place where no matter who you are, there is no question of your worth.

I am grateful.

On the way to making memories worth holding onto

photo (27)The kitchen sink clogged up at 4pm. By 5 C.C. had it unclogged. Except for the u-joint under the sink.

“I’ll just take it apart, clean it and you’ll be all set within 10 minutes,” he said. Confidently.

Three minutes later, his exclamation indicated something was wrong. Drastically wrong. As in, he broke the pipe wrong and we’d have no kitchen sink for dinner.

Twenty-three guests were arriving in an hour and I was minus a kitchen sink.


But then, there’s always the bathtub which became the home for dirty pots and ladles, cutlery and serving dishes.

In the end, the cauliflower never got made, and forget about the extra yam dish. I didn’t have another pot to use, and not enough time to cook it anyway. The hour spent clearing the drain had completely disrupted my timetable. I had to go with what I had and hope for the best.

And it was, the best… a night of fun, of laughter, hilarity and charm. We ate and drank and sat around the table and told stories and shared in that thing that makes Christmas such a special time of year — community.

photo (26)We ranged in age from 19 to 75. From still at University to long past retirement, we shared points of view and points of contention, from one guests stories of his recent experiences in basic training in the military, to another’s stories of running a billion dollar corporation. We talked about homelessness and homes, education and travel, wine and cheese and everything else in between.

And then, after dinner, the guitars and drums came out and we sang and laughed and then most of the guests left and C.C. and a crew of younger folk sat down to play games and I went off to bed, hoping that tomorrow the plumber would arrive and I would have a kitchen sink to work in.

No such luck. The plumber worked with C.C. and they had it cleared but once he left, it didn’t stay that way. The problem was, when C.C. peeled the mound of potatoes needed to mash up for 21 people, the peels had gone down the garborator and gotten stuck. Really stuck. And then, they swelled and while they’d moved them down the pipe, they got stuck en masse further down.

Draino. Snake. Running water. No luck. We’d have to wait for tomorrow when the plumber was scheduled to return.

What to do. What to do.

C.C. and I decided on a movie. We switched on Pay per View, dialled in what we wanted to watch and cuddled up on the leather sofa in the den.

And that’s where we were when a resounding crash was heard from the environs of the living room.

“What’s Ellie into now?” C.C. asked as he got up to take a look.

“You’d better come see this,” he called out a a few moments later.

photo (23)I wasn’t expecting it. I definitely didn’t think it could be anything so… dramatic.

But there Ferdinand the Christmas tree lay. On his side. Fallen over. Totalled. Ornaments strewn across the floor. pink and rose shards littered across the hardwood and onto the Chinese rug. The tree we’d decorated en famille just a few short nights ago, had fallen over.

It was a mess. Ellie was nowhere to be seen. Neither was Marley, the Great Cat, in sight either. Had they?… No. No way. Ellie’s too old and Marley has never shown any interest in the tree. Ever.

It must have been the gold beads strung across the boughs. They were only on the front side which meant the tree was front heavy. Must have been too much weight.


Nothing to do but clean it up. And start all over.

Carefully we untangled the lights and boughs and de-robed the tree of all its ornaments and glitter. C.C. mopped up the water while I swept up the glass.

It didn’t pay to think about it. The only thing to do was to get it done.

Bonus! As we’d decorated on Monday night, the girls had suggested we needed more lights. I didn’t feel like going out to the store mid-task so we’d made do. Now, I figured I may as well go and get more lights. 

I went out and bought two more strings to add to the glow. Beauty!

And then today, C.C. officially got the sink unplugged and now, the house is back in order. The dishes are done and put away, the table leafs removed, the extra chairs tucked away until Christmas dinner. The tree glows. The sideboard is cleared of dirty glasses and the kitchen is decluttered.

It’s funny. Not having a sink didn’t detract from the festivities and the tree falling over didn’t really rob it of its beauty.

The memories of decorating the tree together remain. The laughter, teasing, conversation and good times shared continue to resonate throughout the house.

Disasters happen. It’s not their happening that makes the difference, it’s what we hold onto in their wake that measures the value of each day, that fill every breath with love — or not.

We decorated the tree last week and had early Christmas dinner so that my daughter could share in the love and joy of Christmas at home. The memories live on. They continue to cast a beautiful light in my heart of all that is so special at this time of year. Family. Love. Community. Peace. Harmony and Joy.

And as to the rest… well, that’s just the stuff that happens on the way to making memories worth remembering.