Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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What does it mean to surrender?

Every year at this time, I spend some time in meditation in contemplation of a word to guide me throughout the upcoming year. It isn’t so much of an active ‘in search of’ a word but rather a letting the word arise within me.

This year, the word that continues to arise is ‘surrender’.

Now, here’s the deal — every time the word appears in my mind, I try to resist, push it away, look to see if some other word is hanging around in the background.

Yup.  I am resisting accepting ‘surrender’. Sounds to me like ‘surrender’ just might be the word!

Over the holidays, my beloved and I were both down for the count with a cold/flu virus. Now, I did get my flu shot but for some reason, it still struck. We did do the prerequisite holiday celebrations but cancelled out on a number of parties to which we’d been invited. It meant we spent a lot of time in bed, reading, bingeing on Netflix and napping. Not a bad way to spend the break and while it would have been wonderful to see friends, the flu dictated self-care.

One of the things I did not want to surrender to was giving up on our planned trip to Vancouver for New Year celebrations. Finally, yesterday morning, mere hours before we were scheduled to fly out, both C.C. and I had to admit it. We were not yet feeling well enough to go.

Perhaps it was practice for the upcoming year where ‘surrender’ is my guiding word. I had to surrender to my disappointment at not seeing my daughter and son-in-love and the sadness of not spending time with my grandson. As my daughter reminded me, ‘when you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t spend as much time with those you love.’

And perhaps, that is where my surrender lies — In accepting I need to take care of me. No one else can. I am 100% responsible for my own well-being. My own self-care.

Dang. I was hoping to surrender that to someone else! Instead, surrender lays in accepting that there is no ‘prince-charming’, fairy-godmother or magical being who is going to ride-in and sweep away all the things I’m doing that aren’t ‘good self-care’.

Yup. Self-care is my domain. My responsibility.

I think I have a lot of work to do on this ole’ surrender thing.

Where once I focused on ‘surrendering to let go of expectations’ I realize there’s work to be done on surrendering my ego which says, you got this, even when I don’t.

Harsh reality — I just don’t got the self-care gig down pat. In fact, I’m kind of lousy at it.

Surrendering my ego to the reality of what is true, means letting go of my ego-driven need to ignore my own self-care in an effort to appear always, in charge, on top of everything and a-ok.

My beloved and I had the flu this holiday season. I didn’t want to deal with it.

In my resistance, surrender arose in my consciousness awakening me to the truth — I’ve got some work to do on this surrendering gig!

Here’s to a year of exploring what it means to truly surrender.

And even as I type that, the little ole’ critter inside hisses “Loser! Surrender means you’re giving up.”

Oh dear.  Definitely some work to do on that one!


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May Peace Be You.

May peace be you (1)Christmas. Eve

And the world continues to turn, the sun continues to rise and set, the moon to wax and wane.

Slowly. Slowly. The days grow longer.

And still, we wait.

We wait for the sun’s return, for a Son to be born, for peace, hope, love and joy to descend upon all mankind.

We wait and as we wait, our patience grows thin. We rush about, fighting crowds and traffic. We wait in endless check-out lines to buy one more gift, to put one more check-mark or scratch off one more item on the list that seemed to grow longer as the days grew shorter.

And as we wait, our minds wander to thoughts of those who are no longer here. We remember their laughter. Their sweet voices. Their glowing eyes. Their dancing steps. And our heart yearns to hold them near, to feel their gentle touch, to see their beautiful smile.

And amidst the glitter and bows, the twinkling lights and crinkly paper, amidst the holiday cheer and ho, ho, ho’s, we wonder, how can this be? How can they be gone when the magic and wonder and mystery of Christmas is all around? How can they not be here when as predictably as Christmas decorations appearing in the mall the day after Halloween, we counted upon their presence to remind us that love is all around, love is all we need at this special time of year, at any time of year.

How can this be?

And so this is Christmas.

Our heart’s know what our mind does not want to believe. Time has turned, days have passed, weeks, months, years have slipped by. And in their passing, those who were once held fast to this time and place have passed on and nothing we do or say or wish can bring them back. We cannot touch them, hear them, feel them. We cannot bring them back and so must let them go so that we can listen for our hearts calling us to awaken from these long dark nights of winter.

For in their passing, life goes on, our hearts keep beating, our bodies keep doing and our minds keep remembering Christmases past as we slip into this moment to hear life  reminding us to smile, to laugh and sing and call out to passers-by, greetings of the season, wishes of the New Year to come.

We have come through the time of endless nights growing darker. Of day’s light growing weaker in the soft approach of winter solstice, in the coming light of the child’s birth drawing near.

We are entering the time of waiting for the darkness to pass. Of remembering the day will come beyond the night where we will stand once again beneath a glowing sun and feel the welcoming warmth of its soft embrace reminding us to awaken.

This is a time of waiting and remembering. Of practicing patience. Of holding space for light.

This is a time for hope, peace, love and joy.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. No matter your celebration, may your heart be filled with hope, peace love and joy.

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In loving memory of Clive, George and Roz, my dad.


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A Christmas Poem — Alleluia Chorus

Allelluia Chorus

Alleluia Chorus
©2018 Louise Gallagher

Darkness rests
still
is the night
lingering at the edge
of day
break
waiting
waiting to appear
to open up
hearts and minds
to the wonder
of a thousand tiny fragments
of light ascending
into heavenly hosts
of alleluia
exalting
in the beauty of spirits rising
in Love and Light.

Alleluia
Alleluia

The Christchild is coming.

Alleluia
Alleluia

Love is in the air.


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Do You Have Wrinkles in Your Mind

While we didn’t spend a lot of time sun-bathing (I actually don’t like lying in the sun all that much but I do like swimming), after 17 days in the sun and heat, I have a lovely tan. Everyone I meet comments on my ‘glow’.

It got me thinking, we spend a lot of time considering/worrying about what we put in and on our bodies, but not as much time about what we put in our minds. We worry about wrinkles on our face, but what about wrinkles in our thinking?

I took a great book to read while on vacation, Thomas L Friedman’s “Thank You for Being Late. An optimist’s guide to thriving kn the age of acceleration.” 

I opened it on the flight to Mexico and read the whole way but after that, my mind just wasn’t in to thinking quite so much. In fact, reading just wasn’t part of my agenda. I did work on the beginnings of a children’s story for Thurlow but other than that, I didn’t spend a lot of time concentrating on anything other than relaxing.

And that was good for my body, soul, heart and spirit.

I don’t do enough of that.

Last night, as we will be 16 for Christmas dinner on December 26th, I decided I wouldn’t start unpacking but instead, start working on the name cards for the table.

Making name cards and figuring out my tablescape gives me great joy. I love everything about it. Even the scrolling through Pinterest in search of ideas, makes me feel happy!

As C.C. watched a hockey game I hauled out a bunch of supplies. One of my intentions for this upcoming year is to be more environmentally thoughtful, using and reusing before purchasing new. Not going out and buying a whole bunch of stuff for the table is part of that intention.

I’ve also decided to not go all glitter and glam with the table and to take a more traditional, folksy track this year.

And what does all of that have to do with what I’m feeding my mind?

It stretches my creative muscles and pulls me outside my comfort zone.

I love to create sparkly, glittery things for the table. It’s kind of a happy place for me.

Doing it up more earthy, using traditional Christmas colours of red and green, means I need to let go of my glitter glam to breathe into the simplicity and naturalness of tradition.

It’s fun. And it’s taxing. I like glitter! they cover up mistakes, wrinkles, blemishes and a host of other things that didn’t quite turn out perfect!

Which brings me back to wondering about the wrinkles in my mind.

I’m sure there are many crenelated layers of thoughts that hold unused and possibly unnecessary ideas from the past that do not serve me today. Unless I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone, they will continue to hold me tethered to thinking that is outdated, non-productive and limiting.

How to remove them?

I don’t think I can.

But, I can feed them wholesome brain food that will soften the wrinkles and create the more of what I want in my life and the world. I can pay as much attention to what I put into my mind, as I do to what I put on my face to combat times desire to form wrinkles in my skin.

Vegging out in front of a mindless TV show or reading some trashy novel just to escape does not feed me what I need to feel alive. It only debilitates me, making me feel more tired than I actually am.

Ultimately, it’s not about escaping my mind. It’s about diving into everything I put into it with a passion for creating a loving, kind, thoughtful place where I feel safe, refreshed and energized by every thought that flows through me. In that place, I am free to express myself in everything I do through loving kindness.

What a lovely thought.

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One thing I love to do as I create is to listen to podcasts. On Monday, my eldest daughter Alexis, text me to say, “Drop whatever you’re doing and listen to Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Mark Nepo.”

Mark Nepo is one of my favourite artists.  For a year, C.C. read me a passage from his “Book of Awakening” every night when we went to bed.

It’s time to go back to that place where my day ends reading outloud with my beloved.

In the meantime, his conversation with Oprah is incredibly soul-inspiring. Do drop whatever you’re doing to listen.  Mark Nepo on Super Soul Sunday

 

 

 


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Do you have my passport?

Sunset on another wonderful adventure

Our flight home from Huatulco on Sunday was not a direct one. My beloved booked it for Sunday not realizing if we left Tuesday, Westjet flies direct. He always likes to find the most ‘interesting’ routes for us to travel. Which is why, at 9:15pm we are standing in line at Toronto INternational airport to get through customs, worried we might not make our 10:15pm connection to Calgary.

We just do.

We’re the last people on the flight. Not because of long line-ups. There were long line-ups. In Toronto, you go through customs, put your bag on the conveyor belt to continue on its journey, and then enter the airport proper only to have to clear through security again.

When I went through security this time, they asked to open up a parcel in my carry-on. It was bubble-wrapped. A raiku incense burner I’d bought in Todos Santos created by a local artisan.

The security guard was apologetic. They’ve asked me to check it, he says.

It’s okay, I reply with a smile.

He finds a pair of scissors and cuts away the paper wrapped around the bubble wrap.

He pulls out my incense burner, admires it and then helps me package it all up again. The time is 9:40. Our flight has started boarding.

C.C. and I hoof it down the airport towards our gate. It’s not a short walk.

As we walk quickly to where we need to be, my mind reviews the process of rewrapping the package. In the flurry of getting it wrapped up, pulling all the things that were in the bin with it, including C.C.’s wallet, I can’t remember where I put my passport. I dig through my purse as I walk. Check in my carry-on bag as best I can.

I can’t find it.

I ask C.C. if I gave it to him.

He is adamant. I did not.

We get to the gate. The passengers are boarding.

We rummage through my carry-on and his.

No passport. My boarding pass is inside it.

I go to the check-in counter. I tell him what I’m missing and ask him if he can call security. “I don’t have a number to the security desk,” he tells me.

I hoof it all the way back to security.

The same guy who looked inside my package tells me he didn’t see it. He checks with others. checks garbage bins. My passport isn’t there.

It’s 10pm  Our flight leaves at 10:15.

I race back to the gate.

C.C. has gone through our bags again. My passport is nowhere.

We go to the desk.

The same check-in agent smiles and tells me not to worry. He gives me the number for Toronto airport to call when I reach Calgary.

I am almost in tears.

He takes my driver’s licence and checks me in without my boarding pass.

C.C. pulls his passport out of his back pocket. Opens it up to his picture and looks at it. Looks at me. Smiles sheepishly and says. “Oh. I do have your passport!”

I look at his face. Look at his outstretched hand where my passport photo stares back at me. I start laughing.

The check-in agent looks at me nervously. He looks at the passport. He too starts to laugh.

C.C. joins in.

We are still laughing as we race down the jetway to the aircraft.

All I can keep saying to C.C. is, “I can’t believe you had my passport all along.”

He too can’t believe it.

Travels with my beloved are filled with their own special adventures.

I’ve promised him I won’t let this one go for quite awhile.

“You know you’ve be reliving this story many times,” I tell him.

He smiles that way that makes my heart do a little happy dance and says, “I know.”

We made it home safe and sound. Beaumont has returned home. A little sulky but happy to see us.

And as to our passports, they are securely stored away until our next adventure.  It’s almost a guarantee they’ll be interesting in their own special way!

Happy Trails!

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And as a special little bonus, my daughters organized for a photographer to come and share some time with us while in Todos Santos and to take photos.

The video she’s created is AMAZING.  My heart melts every time I watch it (and that’s a lot) 🙂  @marianaleonphoto is very gifted. She’s based in La Paz and spent four hours with us to capture this incredible visual.  I feel so blessed and loved.

Photos by Mariana León Fotografía

For those interested in hiring a photographer while on vacation, Alexis, my eldest daughter, searched instagram for photographers in the Todos Santos area to find someone whose work she really liked.

I’m not sure how to load the video so I’ve linked in my Facebook page Watch the video HERE.  (You may have to scroll down on my FB page one or two posts)

 

 

 

 


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There is no end to paradise

 

My deserted beach

I am walking on a deserted beach. Aside from a turkey vulture pecking at something lying on the sand further down the beach, I see no one.

I want to laugh and yell out loud, letting my voice be carried by the gentle pacific breeze that stirs the branches of the bushes that line the sandy beach. Other than C.C., Guillermo and his lovely wife Roscio, along with the three staff on the boat that is moored 50 metres out from shore, there is no one to hear me.

So I yell and throw my arms up into the air and do a little dance of joy. I also want to cry. Tears of pure exhilaration and joy and happiness.

I feel so free and blessed and grateful.

Villas FaSol from the water

At 8 that morning, Guillermo, the owner of Villas FaSol, arrived with Roscio to pick us up to go to the boat. Anna, one of the staff at FaSol joins us

At the dock where Guillermo’s 45 ft fishing boat, Do It, is moored, Jorge and crew have everything ready and waiting for us to depart.

We head out to sea for a wonderful day of touring and fishing. And while C.C. did catch one big fish, we threw it back into its watery home after thanking it for sharing in our adventures. We were not after food. We were savouring the experience.

We travelled down the coast towards Guatemala, past the site of the recently discovered Mayan ruins south of Huatulco, as Guillermo shared the history of the area. The stories of the peoples of these lands are as ancient as the Far East and Asia, he told us. Long before the Spanish arrived, long before guns and conquerors, the indigenous peoples farmed and fished and lived off the land by the sea and in the mountain ranges high above.

And then we turned north in search of a quiet cove to moor and swim in and have lunch.

The first cove we entered was too busy Guillermo said, and we motored to the next which is where I ended up walking on a deserted beach and dancing in the sun after diving from the boat into emerald green waters and swimming to shore.

On Friday, Placido, our taxi driver who drove us back to FaSol after dinner in town the night before, took us to the Magical Waterfalls, Cacidas Magicos. After about a fifteen-minute drive north of Huatulco on the highway, we turned off onto a dirt road and began to climb and climb and climb into the hills. The road was rough. The driving slow. We passed through tiny villages that clung to the hillside, the roofs of many of the homes concealed by the jungle that stretched out as far as the eye could see. Laundry hung on lines between houses and I wondered how it could even stay clean with all the dust that rose from the clay road.

Children, chickens, turkeys, burros, dogs, iguanas, goats, a cow and a horse wandered along the roadside. Like many of the people, the animals live off the land too.

Two hours after leaving Huatulco we arrived at the starting point of the trail leading to the waterfalls. Placido lead us down the path, telling us about the 3 waterfalls we were about to see, his pride visible on his face.

The entry point for the grotto behind the falls

We followed the river, past banana trees and wild birds of paradise blooming everywhere. We climbed up, higher and higher until we came to the first falls. Here, someone had hung a rope from a tree and people were swinging on it and dropping into the emerald green waters below. I would try that on our way back down. For now, we kept climbing.

When we reached the base of the largest fall, we stood on the wooden platform and admired its majestic beauty. Placido told us, “We wait here now.” He had organized with a local guide to come and meet us and lead us up and into the grotto behind the falls.

C.C. opted not to join me as his breathing has not been good in the humid air of Huatulco.

When Roger arrived, he motioned for me to follow him. Down the steps from the platform, along the trail leading into the river.

Above us the cascading waters crashed. Mist covered my body.

We stepped onto the rocks and began to cross to the other side to reach the stairs someone had carved into the rock alongside the bottom of the falls.

I am feeling nervous. Scared. Exhilarated.

This doesn’t look too safe to me but Roger keeps urging me along, taking my hand to help me cross waterways where the force of the water from the falls almost knock me over.

We reach the other side and keep climbing until we reach the place where we will enter the grotto behind the falls.

Roger motions to a stick that has been secured between the rocks. A short rope hangs from it.

He grabs it. Holds on tightly and disappears into the veil of water pouring down from the rocks above.

I take a breath. For a moment I wonder who last tested the security and strength of the rope and stick.

I put my thinking on pause. Those thoughts will not lead me forward. And I cannot go back down alone.

I grab the rope and slip behind the cascading waters.

The waterfall pummels my body. I can barely breathe. I push forward, climbing over the rocks.

Suddenly, the water stops and I am in a grotto behind the falls. Roger waits. Smiling.

I smile back.

We crawl through a small cave, into a cavern the backsplash of the water has carved in the rock behind the falls. The sound of the water cascading is loud. The water is emerald green in the pool. I cannot see out to where C.C. stands below on the deck of the platform below the falls, but I know he’s there.

Roger jumps into the pool. I take a breath and let go. I jump in.

Pure, utter joy sweeps over me.

This is bliss.

We fly home today.

Over dinner last night, C.C. and I shared in the joys of our travels these past 17 days and laughed at our trip planning expertise, which never ceases to amuse me. If we had stayed until Tuesday, we could have taken a direct flight home to Calgary. 5 hours. Instead, our travels home will last 10 hours as we must first fly to Toronto (5 hours) to catch a flight to Calgary.

Oh well I told him. At least our track record of unusual travel planning is intact.

It has been a glorious adventure. The trip home is just part of the journey.

I shall miss this land. The people. The food. The sights. The experiences. The sun. The sunsets. The incredible beauty of those we’ve met and all we’ve seen.

But in having taken this time I have been reminded once again of what is most important in my life. The people who make it so rich. To have had 10 days with my daughters, their partners and my grandson followed by another 8 with C.C. alone in this beautiful place is a gift.

This was our second trip to Huatulco.

Until we meet again.