Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


2 Comments

Que Sera Sera

 

Today is New Year’s Eve. A new year awaits upon the horizon filled with all the limitless possibilities that awaken with another turning of a calendar page.

But first, we must celebrate and give thanks for all the prayers that were answered in this year past.

We have been invited to a party at the home of our hosts, Guillermo and Roscio. A few family and friends, he tells me when we meet on the grounds of Villas Fa-Sol, late yesterday afternoon. He is disappointed, though. He was not able to get the live band he wanted. We will have to make do with the speakers and stereo on the patio, he says. And he laughs and gives me his charmingly warm smile before adding, “But first, we will spend the day in the kitchen. Getting ready.”

I offer to come and help. No! No! Not possible. You are our guests. But you are welcome to come and spend the day at our home he offers graciously.

This is a place of warm smiles and welcoming hearts. A place where Mi Casa. Su Casa is imprinted in the DNA of everyone we meet.

We went into town yesterday (a girl needs a new outfit when invited to a Mexican New Year’s Eve Soirée!) and at every storefront, the proprietor stood outside or sat on a chair calling out to us. “Come see! I have…” and he or she would list the multitude of treasures in their store.

They were impossible to resist. Smiles. Cheery voices. An inate ability to sell and a deep desire to please make for an irresistible combination.

I resisted the silver bracelet with gold inlays. For now.

I resisted the pink linen top and matching pants. For now.

And I even resisted the little boy in bare feet who proceeded his father into the restaurant where we sat eating tacos and sipping ice cold Modella. He wanted us to pay his father to play music for us on a wooden xylophone type instrument. “I only listen to music at night,” our friend Andrew told the father. And the man laughed and smiled and waved and Andrew translated for us what was said and we all laughed and smiled together.

After an exchange like that, how could anyone resist dropping a coin or two into the dried coconut shell he held and continuously shook gently in his outstretched hands?

Fortunately, our friends Andrew and Ursula speak fluent Spanish. I can catch words here and there. They come to me through the veil of foreign tongues spoken like prayers whispered at an altar. Some will make it through to the deity above. Some will lay upon the altar, waiting for fate to find them at another time, depending upon how pleasing they are to the ears of the God or gods above. Que sera sera.

Spanish is like that for me. If I listen closely, pay deep attention to the rhythm and flow of the language, I can catch a phrase, a word here, a sound there that is close enough to French, that I sense its meaning.

But, like a prayer whispered to an unseen God, sometimes the words simply flow past me, lost to some whim of fate that only the heavens can divine.

I feel close to the whims of fate here. Close to the Divine. The essence of life. It pulses on the street. It is alive in every thing and everyone.

Voices calling out. Horns honking and music blaring from storefront radios and cascading out from the open windows of cars driving past.

The music is constant. It is everywhere.

A man plays his guitar outside the restaurant where we sit. He sings of his dead cat. His despair. His sorrow. HIs face is weathered and brown from the sun. His eyes glisten, tears welling up, threatening to flow over onto his cheeks.

“It is a sad song,” Ursula calls out to him.

And he nods his head, shrugs his shoulders and replies, “Yes. It is.”

This is a place where the fullness and richness and impermanence of life permeates every scent, every sound, every living thing. Where sadness and joy collide with every breath. Where laughter and tears and dancing and sad song and happy song invade all your senses.

Where children are revered and children are ignored to play and run through traffic and dart amidst diners at tables. They are part of life. Part of the cycle. Part of the unknown destiny that the fates hold instore for each of us.

A child rides on the back of a motorbike, clinging to his mother’s back. She clings to her husband’s waist, her arms wrapped around the infant pressed against his chest as he careens and weaves his way through traffic.

“It is just the way it is,” our host tells us when I comment on the danger.

My western sensibilities want to grab the children from the back of motorcycles and at least put a helmet on them. I want to put shoes on the children before they run into traffic, their hands filled with beaded bracelets and other trinkets to sell to tourists driving by in buses and rental cars.

I want to do these things that fit into the life I hold ‘up north’, from where I come from. I must breathe instead into the possibility that there are many ways to get through this world, and all of them fit the times, the space, the land upon which they are born.

And in this place where ocean breezes dance with ethereal beauty in the gauzy curtains by the windows, where blue sea meets sky at a far and distant horizon and the land rears up in fierce defiance of the sea’s embrace, I must give way. I must give way to my thoughts of how things ‘should’ be and let go of my fierce hold on ‘life as I know it’. I must breathe into life as it makes sense for this time and place. Life in its duality and contradictions. Life that dances in the wind and drifts by in seemingly slow motion while rushing past on motorbikes and passing cars.

“Come into my store,” a woman greets us as we attempt to walk quickly by. “Come. Spend a Mexican minute here. Time will keep moving where ever you go, but in a Mexican minute, time will pass much more pleasantly.”

Yes. Bring on the Mexican minutes where life is as life is and all that matters is to live each moment as it comes and leave the future to unfold in prayers whispered at an altar seeking blessings on a Happy New Year for all the world.

Que sera sera.

Advertisements


1 Comment

Bewitched but not bewildered

The sign as we enter the town of Huatulco reads, Welcome to Paradise.

Sitting in the living room of our suite at Villas Fa-Sol, listening to the sounds of the ocean washing up against the rocks below,  the birds cawing as they glide effortlessly in the air above, I know I am here, right now, in paradise.

I can feel my pulse slowing to the rhythm of the waves, my mind sliding into ease as effortlessly as the birds sliding across the vast blueness of the sky. The white gauzy curtains drift in and out the window with the ocean breeze and I find myself mesmerized by their graceful movements, treasuring this moment, right now.  It is all there is to experience. All there is to know.

One night and I find myself in love with this beautiful place on the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

It is already hot. I feel the heat seeping into my bones, a welcome caress that washes away any last vestiges of winter’s chilly embrace.

It is green here. Lush. Palm trees march up the hillside, their spiney branches splayed out like giant dancers caught mid-leap as they cavorted across the stage to the beat of a Marharachi band.

After C.C.and I savoured a two hour siesta and washed away the grit of our travels, we joined our hosts Guillermo and Roscio, the delightfully warm and gracious owners of Villas Fa-Sol, and our friends Ursula and Andrew who are visiting them from Calgary, for dinner in the town. Che offers up an authentic Argentinian BBQ experience complete with a huge fire pit sending streams of smoke and flames into the air, permeating our senses with rich aromas of roasting meats and cheeses.

Late into the night, we sat around a large wooden table on the verandah that edged up against the street where passersby strolled and threw greetings to friends enjoying BBQ at other tables. We shared stories of our lives, our families, our travels and hopes and dreams and all the while, young children played in and around the tables and waiters darted amongst the guests catering to their every want. Above us, the obsidian sky stretched far into the night, its black essence alight with thousands of twinkling stars.

The air was warm and the night alive with laughter and song.

I am definitely in love. Bewitched but not bewildered by the magic of this place.

Paradise is never bewildering, it is always a delightful encounter with magic. It is always filled with the laughter of new friends and old, of good food and wine and song.

Paradise is never far away. It is always here. Right where I am.


9 Comments

Mexico bound! Bye Bye winter. Hello Sun

img_0413

We are sitting in Terminal 3 at Toronto Airport. It is early morning and I am sleepy. We took The Red Eye out of Calgary just after midnight. We almost didn’t make it. C.C. Got a little confused about the date of our departure. We thought it was tonight!

Fortunately, we realized our mistake early enough in the day to get organized (mostly). Beaumont and Marley are lavishing in the attention of our friend Tamz who is staying at the house while we enjoy ten days in Huatuclo, Mexico.

Decidedly decadent vacation!

Fortunately our return flight is direct to Calgary — this overnight thingy is not at all a restful journey! But that’s okay. We can sleep on arrival and currently, C.C is stretched out over several seats attempting to catch some shut-eye as we Wait out the time  from our arrival at 6am to our departure at 9:30.

I’m glad we’re inside, headed to some warmth, because baby, it’s cold outside. Snowy, Blustery, Blizzardy. Flying in, the visibility was  low. It wasn’t until we were almost over the end of the runway getting ready to land that any lights appeared.

I am grateful for the technology that makes it possible to fly, and land, safely in such dire conditions. Our flight is still on time. Our spirits are bright and the forecast in Huatuclo is sun, sun and more sun. And hot.

What could be better than that?

I’m looking forward to the heat. The sun. The water. The  relaxation. And the chance to spend some chill time with my beloved.

Bye Bye winter.

Hello sun.

Bring it on!

 


11 Comments

The road ahead is full of possibilities

2016-words

The quote above was generated by an FB app (Nametests.com).

I don’t know a lot about algorithms or binary code, or anything technical for that matter, but, the appropriateness of this quote generated by technical wizardry just for me is pretty inspiring!

As 2017 inches closer on the calendar, I am getting ready to turn another page in my work-a-day world. C.C. and I have talked at length of what it means for me to retire, to leave the office-by-day world to become an office-at-home inhabitant. What it means for us to have me let go of the demands of an intense and fulfilling role in the homeless-serving sector for the more insecure/unpredictable world of freelance/consulting work I want to take on.

Because believe, I’m not ready to retire. I’m just ready to try something new.

Looking at this next stage of my life, I realize there are a lot of things that could go wrong. And at 63 those ‘wrongs’ can appear to be more daunting than the rights.

If I let them.

If I let the wrongs determine my direction, I will never find my right step.

I don’t have a firm date for leaving the “Official Workforce”. I just know, I’m ready. Ready to try on a new hat. New path. New direction.

At the foundation where I work, I’ve hired a new Manager specifically with the vision of his being able to take on the role I fill. He’s talented. Creative and extremely competent. I know he will do well.

Which leaves me in the wonderful position of being able to look objectively at my timeline, without worrying about the gaps I’m leaving I’m leaving behind!

I am ready to spread my wings beyond the world of homelessness. I am ready to explore the world of possibility that is always present, always calling me to step into and start living if I do as my dear friend Kerry Parson’s at the Essential U is coaching me to do, let myself fly free!

Who knows how high I’ll soar?

Who knows what road I’ll explore?

And as long as I don’t focus on ‘the wrongs’, as long as I get clear on my intent, the possibilities are limited only by how much time, effort and passion I put into my next adventure.

So thank you FB app. I don’t know how you generate these things, but thank you for instilling in my world a quote that inspires hope, possibility and light.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be an exciting ride!

.

 

 


1 Comment

Be a Beacon of Light | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 38

acts-of-grace-week-38-copy

 

When I was young, I remember hearing “Shh!” and “Be quiet!”. A lot.

I was a curious, active and inquisitive child. I wanted to know things. Understand the how’s and why’s. I did not want to take someone else’s word for it. I wanted to figure it out for myself.

Did not make me an easy child to have around all the time — just ask my parents!

And hence, why I heard Shh! and be quiet so much.

As I grew. The shushing of myself became a habit.

I wanted to fit in. To be accepted. To be liked.

So I shushed myself up.

It’s time to quit shushing up.

I’m letting myself out. Letting myself be heard. Seen. Known.

We all must.

Because in our silence, fear grows, tyranny expands and injustice permeates the fabric of our society.

In our silence, and our fear of shining our own light brightly, we create space for the darkness to seep in and dim our voices and our light.

Shine bright.

The world needs your brilliance. The world needs each of us to step outside our comfort zones to light up the truth of our shared experiences of being human.

We are not born to play small. We are born to live large, live wild and free. Shine bright and in your brilliance, create and captivate the world with your lightness of being you.

*********************************

Every week since April 4, 2016, I have been sharing an Act of Grace.
They are designed to help you create harmony and peace in your life.
To explore all the Acts of Grace I have shared to date, click HERE.


16 Comments

Good tidings of Love, Comfort & Joy!

we-wish-you-copyOver 2000 years ago, a mother and father huddled together in a tiny stable and witnessed the birth of their child. The story of the Christ child’s birth has lived throughout the years. It touches all our hearts, Christian and non-Christian, believer and non-believer. No matter if we believe He came to earth to ‘save our souls from Satan’s power’, or if he was simply a powerful prophet, or just a great man whose story has survived the ages, His birth represents the power of love to create peace in the world and to restore our spirits as we celebrate the miracle of life.

Christmas is a time to celebrate. A time when we are connected through love’s grace to the miracle of one child’s birth long ago that reminds us, every year, that we too are miracles of birth inspired by the act of love that ignites our journey of life – in all its limitless possibilities.

Last night, as I wrapped presents and reflected on the meaning of Christmas, I felt immersed in Love. Sitting in my cozy living room, surrounded by twinkling lights and festive bows and crinkly wrapping paper, I felt connected to the millions of other parents, grandparents, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, friends and lovers who wrapped and taped and lovingly placed gifts beneath a twinkling tree – a tree they had decorated together with loved ones, sharing in the joy of hanging each ornament, old and new, upon its fragrant boughs.

As I wrapped and hummed a Christmas melody (and maybe even sipped a glass of cheer!), I felt the power of Christmas surround me. As I placed a pretty bow upon each gift I thought about the person to whom I was giving and my heart was filled with love. In that love lay the true meaning of Christmas. It wasn’t in the gifts, or the giving. It didn’t lay in colourful disarray piled beneath the tree, but in the love that filled my heart as I thought about my husband, daughters, family and friends whom I love so dearly and who mean the world to me and who create such meaning in my world.

What a miracle Christmas is! 2000 years ago a child was born and from His birth has grown this night where the world stops, and takes a collective breath as we join in a song of love, faith, hope and joy. 2000 years ago a child’s birth gave birth to my evening last night.

As I sat in the quiet, I felt the power of that moment touch me. I took a deep breath in and felt my heart expand in love. In that breath, I was connected by the circle of love into which I was born and which encircled my daughters as I embraced the miracle of their lives to change my life. For just as the Christchild was a gift of love for his parents, and ultimately the world, with my daughters’ births I was given the greatest gift of all — the awesome reminder that life is a miracle and each birth a precious gift of love; powerful, enduring, everlasting.

This Christmas, as I reflect upon my life, I am reminded, once again, of the power of love to heal, to make peace and to create miracles.

And that is the true meaning of Christmas for me. A celebration of birth, of life, of love. A healing. An awakening. A miracle that wraps us all in a never-ending circle of love.

Whatever your celebration — Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Bodi day, the Fast of Ramadan, the ancient sabbat – or a family-centered gathering, a Blessed Holiday to each and everyone of you. May your spirits be light, your hearts full of love and may your world be filled with the limitless possibilities of the miracle of your life as you live each moment, filled with love, joy, gratitude and peace.

Merry Christmas from my heart to yours.

************************************************

I posted the original of this post on Recover Your Joy December 24, 2007. My first year of blogging. It has been an amazing journey! Thank you Mark K for the inspiration in March of 2007 to begin blogging.


2 Comments

Let us gather by the fire: #longestnightyyc

 

solstice-fire-copy

Let us gather by the fire
and cast away all fear
of darkness.

Let us gather by the light
to remember those lost
to the darkness.

Let us gather
in darkness and in light
those we remember.

Photo by Sandis Helvigs @ https://unsplash.com/collections/256462/fire

Winter solstice brings with it the promise of lengthening days and spring blossoms yet to bloom.

In the solstice, we are invited to breathe deeply. To dig deep into our own darkness to find the light of our humanity. In that light, we are invited to share our kindness, truth, beauty and Love.

Last night, almost 100 people gathered in the dark to share their kindness and truth and to remember those who have passed away in darkness that is homelessness.

This year, the event was held at Olympic Plaza, a light-filled space where skaters twirl on the ice and the twinkling lights glitter on a giant Christmas tree.

We gathered by the tree, almost 100 people strong, to read the names of those who have passed away. Behind us, laughter rang out as children slid across the ice and parents cautioned them to ‘take care’, ‘slow down’, ‘don’t fall’.

Homelessness is like that ice. Smooth and slick. It lures you in with its promise of an easy slide over the rough spots to ‘the other side’.  Believing the ice will hold, you step onto its glassy surface, hoping, wishing, praying it will hold you until you find a safe harbour far from the cold.

For some, that safe harbour becomes a shelter, a place designed to provide emergency supports to help you weather the harshness of the bone-chilling cold that consumed you long before you stepped upon the ice. Too often, that emergency space becomes a permanent refuge as you become trapped in the icy grip of having no place to call home.

The difference between those skaters who slid and twirled across the ice last night, and our solemn gathering of friends and family of those who lost their lives to homelessness was laid bare in the sparkling lights of a giant Christmas Tree.

That tree represents the promise of a new life, new beginnings, new possibilities about to come.

Trapped in homelessness, there is little promise of a better tomorrow. There is no cautioning call warning you to slow down, turn here, look there. In homelessness, there is only the steady downward slide towards a place you never imagined you’d find yourself, a way of life you never dreamt would become yours.

In homelessness, there is no warm fire to gather round with family and friends, toasting marshmallows and sharing stories of your time together playing on the ice. There is no steaming mug of hot cocoa complete with marshmallows waiting to warm you up.

In homelessness, there are only the dark, deep nights of winter calling you constantly further onto the ice until the safety of home becomes just a distant memory, a long forgotten dream.

In homelessness, becoming marooned on the ice is a real and constant danger.

Last night, we gathered to remember those who never found their way safely back to their homes. We read their names, shared stories of their lives, listened to the drum beating, the voices chanting and for a moment, there was no homelessness, no question about which side of the street you lived on — the dark or the light.

There was only us. Our common humanity. Our gathering people come to remember.

Thank you to the Client Action Committee of the Calgary Homeless Foundation for your vision and commitment to making sure no one is forgotten.

Thank you to Vibrant Communities Calgary for your generous contribution of hot chocolate, cookies, and bus tickets for those who needed them.

Thank you to the Aboriginal Friendship Centre, Syd and Brad in particular, for the meal beforehand, the drumming and the prayers.

And thank you to everyone who gathered together to remember those who lost their lives in homelessness. You will not be forgotten.

May we all find hope in the dark nights of winter. May we all find peace.