About Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

Does Age Take Away Permission to Be You?

When I went looking on Dr. Google for a definition of “What does it mean to Act Your Age” I was fascinated to a) lots of reference to it means don’t try to act so young/you’re not. along with b) a reference to it being a ‘cultural assumption’.

As we age, I learned much to my consternation, age gives us permission to do certain age-appropriate things and it also takes away permission to do certain age-inappropriate things.

One of the examples was, it is not appropriate for a 30-year-old to play with Lego. Ha! Tell that to my son-in-love! In fact, when he and my eldest daughter were married, his parents presented them with a house as a wedding gift — it was a Lego box full of pieces that would build their house. The box was accompanied by a lovely speech they shared at the wedding about how he LOVED Lego and he and his mother would play with it for hours.

He still loves Lego and he and his son, play with it for hours.

Does being over 30 take away his permission to do that? I don’t think so!

Which of course led me to thinking about the things I don’t do because I tell myself, “I’m too old.”

Those thoughts were rather daunting. Because they are there. Like, after a rainfall when I’m walking with Beau and I come upon a big puddle of rainwater lying in the middle of the sidewalk, I have this inexplicable desire to jump in it and splash away like a bird washing itself in a birdbath.

Too often I don’t. Well, actually, if there’s no one around I often will. Which makes me realize that (too) often, I take away my permission to do some things because I’m afraid of being judged by others — even strangers!

Well… awareness is the first step of taking action.

As Iwona commented yesterday –  “It is I, ME, who chooses to be who I am, to be relevant in the context of my thoughts, my actions as they relate to others. Age plays a very important role for with age comes experience to be a better being, to know how to be relevant in the greater scheme of this place we call the universe.”

I invite you to examine the things you no longer do that you loved doing in the past and ask yourself, “Is it because I think they’re inappropriate ‘for my age’?”

Of course, there are things our bodies invite us to let go of as we age. I no longer run marathons. I have arthritis in my feet and running hurts. That’s a ‘smart’ decision.

But other things, like splashing in mud puddles, lying in the grass and watching the clouds float by, running through sprinklers….

Watch out world! It’s a no holds barred kind of journey!

Thanks again for joining in the conversation. I so appreciate your presence, insights and light! You make this journey much brighter!

Act Your Age

As Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I were walking along the river yesterday, a thought flowed through my mind as gently as the river passing under the bridge. “What does, ‘act your age’ really mean?”

Trusty Dr. Google has many variations of meaning for it, but all of them basically come down to the adage to stop acting like a child, grow up and mature. Or, as this one says, “behave in a manner appropriate to someone of one’s age and not to someone much younger. “Act your age” is not advice to behave like an adolescent”

There are some attributes of adolescence I’d really like to retain. Like wide-eyed wonder, being willing to ‘act’ silly without worrying about what others are thinking, finding the small things in life hilarious, being entranced by a bug crawling along a leaf…

Does that mean when I’m dancing like no one is watching or laughing at Beaumont trying to catch the water spraying from the hose (Hmmm… I could add, ‘running through a hose’ to my list of adolescent attributes worth repeating throughout life), I need to stop behaving like a child, put childish things aside and ‘get with the program’ so that I act in a appropriate matter to what some unknown ‘they’ says is how I should act at my age?

No thanks.

I’d rather dive into wonder and awe, I’d rather fill my days with wild-abandon and gleeful, giddy dancing than conform to ‘their’ rules about how I should or should not be in this world.

Ultimately, I don’t want to act any particular age. I’d rather just be me. Or, as my wise friend Iwona wrote in her comment yesterday, “There is so much more I need to explore, to experience, to learn. And these all come with age as what came before helps me to better understand and accept what comes tomorrow. I am ME, I love the age I am whatever it may be. I accept ME for who I am, what I represent, what I have accomplished, and my failures that showed me there is a better way.”

In an email from my dear friend, June Read, another wise woman, she wrote words that resonate deeply within me “I choose to be relevant”. Oh yes please! Let us all be relevant to our own, unique, concept of what it means to live this life on fire with the desire to ‘be relevant’. For me, that means ensuring I continue to learn, find value in all things, appreciate everything life has to offer, the good, bad and ugly, grow through adversity, cherish the ‘easy’, and always contribute in whatever I can, as I continuously do what I can to make the world a better place in my own field of influence.

Leigh, who turns 70 in a few weeks, wrote these truth-filled words in her comment, “At the same time, as many say, I can’t quite take in how old I am and am often surprised when I see that old face and the grey hair in the mirror because I feel the same person in some ways :-)”

Ain’t that the truth?

Yet, at the same time, despite or even more, because of the lines and crinkles, the spots and sagging flesh and sometimes aching bones, I have learned to respect, accept and LOVE this body of mine. It is the vehicle that carries me through each day. It is the vessel that holds my many organs, that helps me stand tall (ok, as tall as 5’2″ can be). It moves me, it gives me touch and smell and sight and hearing and senses when I’m mad, sad or glad. It is my constant, ever-present companion with and within every breath I take and every breath I let go of. It is as much a part of my life as the essential nature of breathing keeping me alive, moment by moment. I can’t live without the constant beating of my heart, the rich flow of blood that fills my arteries and veins, feeding my cells with nutrients, energy and ideas through everything I do and every thought I think.

I am my body. My body is me.

So, if I’m to act my age, let everything I do, everything I say, create, become, share, be a heartful expression of ME without the number of years on this planet acting as the determination of how I am or how I should be.

I’d love to hear your thoughts — and if you’re so inclined, hop on over to my FB and IG pages where there are some AMAZING comments on the subject too from so many wonderful voices.

Episode 2 – Act Your Age | DARE BOLDLY: No matter your age

Dare Boldly: No Matter Your Age

It happens to all of us. We can’t get over it, under it, around it. From the moment we take our first breath to our last, it keeps on happening.

Ageing.

It is as much a part of our lives as breathing.

Yet, we do not fear breathing. Most of the time, we don’t even think about it. It just is. Automatic. Necessary. Essential.

Yet, so many of us fear ageing. Or if not fear it, think about it a lot, spend inordinate amounts of time trying to slow it down. Push it away or put it off as if we have the power to stop its natural progression with the fervour of someone trying to stop diarrhea with just their mind.

And still, always, ageing happens. Slowly. Inexorably. It’s always there. We cannot avoid it.

Ageing is on my mind.

Perhaps because my beloved and I just had our first encounter with COVID and, until he was approved for Paxlovid, I was sure he was destined for the hospital. In those moments of helplessness and fear, the fragility of life takes centre stage. And, as in the COVID experience, so does age. The older you are, the more susceptible to its insidious nature.

But, even before COVID made its appearance on the world stage, our ageing nature was always present.

It is part of life. It is life.

Which is why I’ve decided to try a new venture. Call it exploration.

I’ve decided to explore the many faces of ageing in a series of short (1 – 3 min) video conversations about ageing. I’m calling these conversations, Dare Boldly: No Matter Your Age.

‘Cause let’s face it. It happens to all of us. But, what I’ve noticed as I slide closer to the last year of my 60’s… ageing feels as if it’s happening faster and getting to feel heavier on my mind the older I get!

And I want to understand it. I don’t want to feel burdened by age. I want to live within its grace. To be as curious, excited and inspired by life, no matter my age.

I don’t want to be stressed about the extra aches and creaks of my body as much as I want to be committed to taking tender, loving care of my well-being. Inside and out.

I don’t want to be wishing to turn back time. I want to be dancing in time with the rhythms of life.

And, I don’t want to carry regrets for things I’ve done, or haven’t done. I want to carry the joy of stretching myself every day to live my fullest, most engaged life yet.

And to do all of that, I have to face, with loving, joyful acceptance, the many gifts, challenges and opportunities life brings me at every age.

I hope you come along with me on this journey. I hope you share your thoughts, ideas, feelings, hopes, wishes and dreams about what it means for you to be full of life and daring boldly, no matter your age.

Dare Boldly: No Matter Your Age – Intro

Mothers Know Best

New Nest. New Eggs. New Possibilities

I watch a crow sitting on our backyard fence. He looks at me sitting at my desk, secure behind the window.

Our home is a walkout. I’m one floor up. Not close enough.

I open the upper deck door, step out, all while doing my best not to take my eyes off the crow. I’ve got a nest full of eggs below to protect.

The crow eyes me. I eye him back.

He caws (interesting. I always call these predators ‘he’). Hops down from the fence onto the ground. Casually, he hops along the fence line bringing him closer to the nest.

I yell, not to loudly. My neighbours are sleeping. “Go away.”

He does nothing.

I yell louder, disregarding the fact it’s 6:30 am. “Go away!”

He caws again. Takes another hop or two along the grass, flaps his glossy black wings and lifts off. A few swoops of his wings and he lands on a branch of a tree on the other side of the fence.

“Caw. Caw.”

I sigh. Where is the mommy robin?

I go downstairs to check the nest.

I open the patio door. Peek out, looking up to the beam where she’s built her nest.

She’s there. Sitting on her eggs.

I breathe a sigh of relief.

All is well.

But man. This Crow Patrol gig is tiring!

Perhaps, I need to trust in Mother Nature’s grand design and let her have her way. Because, let’s face it, ‘Mothers Know Best”.

At least, that’s what a taxicab driver told me in January after flying home from a visit to The LIttles in Vancouver. We were driving through a freak snowstorm at 1am. No traffic but the roads were slick. Windshield wipers beating a steady tattoo that did little to improve the visibility, he told me the story of returning to his native Sudan to tell his parents he was getting married to a woman in Canada only to discover, they already had his wedding planned, just not to the woman he intended.

“I was angry at my mother when she told me I was getting married in four days to a woman she’d chosen,” he said while using one hand to clear his windshield of condensation. “That was 10 years ago and I couldn’t be happier. My wife is the perfect woman for me.”

My eyes were peeled straight ahead at the road that was barely visible through the windscreen as if my looking so intently would make his driving more… safe.

Oblivious to my focus on the road, he laughed, gave another swipe at the condensation on the window.,”Just goes to show, Mothers know best!” 🙂

Namaste

New life. Same beautiful mystery. Magic and Miracle.

I am sitting on our lower patio. Through the thick undergrowth separating our lawn from the river bank, I spy glimpses of the river flowing past. Occasionally, I hear the voices of rafters and kayakers floating past. Their laughter fills the air, as welcome as the birdsong in the trees. Above the sky is blue. I hear the hum of city traffic. It forms part of the melody of life flowing all around me.

In the beam supporting our upper deck, the mother robin has built another nest. She sits quietly above while I sit on the couch about 8 feet away from her. She is nurturing a new brood while I savour the joy of her presence and the miracles upon which she so patiently sits.

It was last Saturday we noticed the possibility of a new nest being built. A few twigs on the supporting beam. Lots of grasses and twigs strewn along the edge of the patio. “I think she’s building her next nest,” my beloved said.

I was a bit perplexed; First we gave up our front door, making guests come through the garage. Now, she wants me to give up the lower patio?

Sunday morning I came downstairs to check if C.C. was right. He was. The nest was completely constructed.

“We are going to have to find a way to cohabit,” I told mama bird when I saw her sitting on the edge of one of my flower pots.

She didn’t answer. But, she didn’t fly away either.

It was mostly a rainy week and as the finches have flown the nest on our upper deck, what time we did spend outdoors, we spent there.

And then this morning, I decided I needed to blow the leaves and such off the patio, put out the cushions and settle in for a day of relaxation in the shade beneath the upper deck.

Mama robin was in situ.

I didn’t notice her at first. I thought she might have abandoned the nest last weekend when she realized we were frequent visitors to the area.

I tell myself she got my message about cohabitation.

I used the blower to clear off the patio. She didn’t move.

I put the pillows out. She stayed put.

A neighbour came over to chat. We stood on the lawn near where she’s roosting. She still didn’t move.

I tell myself it’s because she knows she’s safe here. That I believe in magic and miracles. That I celebrate the mystery of life.

Every moment in life counts, I tell her from my nearby perch. And these moments, I whisper to her still quiet body, these moments spent in your presence make this moment pregnant with the mystery of life.

I am grateful.

A mama robin nests in the rafters above where I sit, reminding me once again that life is always full of mystery, magic and miracles.

Fail Big

What if I fall? baby bird asked. We will always catch you, said his mama and papa.

Fail Big.

Those were the words of Denzel Washington in his commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011.

Fail Big.

Take chances.

Don’t be afraid to fall. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box.

What he didn’t mention, was, if you’re going to go for it, if you’re going to take risks, make sure you have a parachute, or at least strong arms to catch you.

Who will be there to catch you?

I was thinking about that this morning after a friend asked me to remind them of the title of a book I’d quoted from several months ago as we were chatting about life and taking risks and getting so stuck in the groove you don’t realize it’s actually your comfort zone.

The book is, Warriors of the Heart by Daanan Perry.

I read it in the 80s and one analogy, in particular, has always stuck with me. Perry suggested that often in life, we feel like we’re on a trapeze, swinging back and forth. We get comfortable with the to and fro, finding the swing comforting. There’s no friction against our body and the air and forget, friction creates energy.

One day, we’re just swinging merrily along when suddenly, a new trapeze comes flying towards us.

What’s that? we wonder.

When we realize it’s a shiny, brand new trapeze…We have a choice.

Hang onto our comfortable ride, or, let go and reach for the new vision coming our way.

New opportunities are full of many possibilities. But… where we’re at is so easy and comfortable, why disturb the status quo?

It is in the letting go, Perry writes, that growth happens. In that moment of hanging suspended mid-flight, held up by nothing more than invisible threads of gravity, we experience true freedom.

You could fall. You could fly…

The wind is blowin’ fierce today.

The baby finches are safe in their nest. The mama and papa keep watch.

Soon, the young ones will fly free.

It’s a risk they must take to know the beauty of flight.

It’s a risk they will take because their mama and papa will be there to catch them.

Stolen!

I’m on a zoom call when I hear the noise. Screaming and squawaking like someone, something is in pain.

My heart pounding, I pull off my headset and race upstairs from my office. When I get to the front door, I am too late. The crow has already raided the nest.

My chickies are gone.

Mama robin is confused. She keeps returning to the nest, food in beak. She stand on the edge looking in. Flies off. Returns.

Again and again.

I wish I spoke Robin. If I did I would go out and tell her what has happened. Tell her that this safe haven is no longer safe. That nature has taken its course. A predator has destroyed her hopes and dreams.

Her returning, again and again, is heartbreaking.

Finally, after several flights back and forth, she leaves and does not return.

The nest still rests on the wreath at our front door. Evidence of her industrious build, and the crow’s insurgence.

I know I need to clean it all up. I know I need to sweep away the debris. Clear the wreath of its presence.

Later, I tell myself.

For now, I continue to walk past the front door and glance up through the half moon transom window as if expecting to see her sitting on the rim of the nest, a tiny worm dangling from her beak, the eager mouths of her young open, waiting for it to fall.

Someone said, “Well, that’s nature. Were you upset when she fed a tiny worm to her babies?”

No. But, I’ve never bonded with a worm. I’ve never followed its conception journey.

This mother arrived at our front door while I was away in mid May. She spent a week crafting her nest, two weeks sitting on her eggs and up until yesterday, 10 days tending to her young.

And, while I knew they would eventually fly away and be gone, I felt like I was part of nature’s beauty unfolding. I was part of their journey.

We are using our front door again.

This morning, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I left the house through it for our early morning walk.

When we returned, I stood on the front steps for a moment, closed my eyes and bid farewell to my avian companions.

I know it is nature. But sometimes the nature of this world to destroy, the nature of predators to swoop in and tear apart families, to blow up hopes and dreams of the young, sometimes, it makes me cry.

I sit silently and watch the river flow. Fast and deep. Spring run-off continues. The sky above is grey. The trees are in full bloom, green leaves dancing in the morning breeze. A squirrel scampers along the top of the fence. Birdsong fills the air.

The Boston Fern on our deck turns gently in the breeze. I spy a baby finches head peeking out from its nest within the fern.

And as I type, the papa finch lands on the railing of the deck outside my window.

I watch him. He tilts his head back and a gentle song rises out. It is a beautiful reminder of what is true, no matter the times, no matter the circumstances.

All of nature is a miracle.

All of it. Darkness and light. Yin and yang. Predators and prey.

We are all born miracles of life.

Sometimes, we lose our way.

The miracle is, most of us don’t.

Namaste.

The Joy of Arting

I have been working on a ‘top secret’ project as Beaumont calls it.

I laugh at myself when I type that phrase “as Beaumont calls it”. Fact is, Beaumont doesn’t actually speak so he can’t call it anything. All he knows is that I have been back in my studio again.

And that’s a good thing.

I forget when I take long periods away from ‘arting’ how restorative, healing and calming it is to spend time immersed in the creative flow. How fulfilling it is to play with colour and texture, mediums and papers. To let my mind disassociate from the everyday to become embraced by the magical

I can’t write about the project… it wouldn’t be top secret if I did (and my daughters tell me I can’t keep a secret. Ha! Can too!) 🙂

What I can write about is the pure joy of losing track of time and space to become one with the moment, fully embodied in the wonder of now.

What I can tell you about is how when I begin each page of a new art journal, I don’t have a clear vision of the outcome. I simply have a vision of the ‘feelings’ I want it to evoke. The emotions I want to capture, the sense of there being room to breathe freely in this busy, chaotic world I want to create.

Every page is an emotional response to the moment, and on every page, I lay down not just paint, but those very emotions I want to evoke, examine, escape, embrace… show and know

Emotions that sometimes have no words. No space to breathe. No space to be simply because their ability to hide is greater than my ability to know them clearly — and so, I paint them out in an effort to set them free. Or at least, set myself free.

And that is what always happens.

In painting them out, I set myself free to be the light I want to see in a spacious, beautiful, calm and loving world.

Arting. It’s a gift that keeps creating the more of what I want in my world. Love. Joy and Beauty.

Namaste.

Dizzy as a Finch in a Fern.

Every morning, while mother robin is out scouring for food, I sneak out to take a photo of the babies in the nest she built in the wreath on our front door. They’re a week old now and when I place my camera above the nest, the babies’ little beaks open up as they plead for food. They are growing fast and sometime in the next eight days or so, will fly the nest!

Baby robins – 5 days old

In other, magical turns of nature, we discovered another nest in the Boston fern hanging on our deck!

I know. Two nests in one spring. How miraculous!

Finch in fern nest

This one was built by a pair of finches. Tucked within the ferns branches, I have now stopped watering it for fear I’ll drown the babies! It’s hard to see… but it’s there, full of babies the mother is protecting.

We’re amazed they chose such a dizzying place for their nest. The wind constantly moves the fern around and around. Hence, the title of this post, “Dizzy as a finch in a fern.”

C.C. and I are both enchanted with our avian guests… though, it would be nice to be able to use our front door again!

One day soon.

In the meantime, we treasure these magical moments of nature unfolding in all its beauty and wonder at our front door.

And… because Beau is inclined to get his nose out of joint if I share too many photos of winged treasures… here’s a video of him chasing the ball at the park yesterday! 🙂

Everyday Magic

Day 1 – Sunday

They arrived, naked and vulnerable, sometime between Saturday mid-day and evening.

Three baby robbins tucked into the nest woven into the wreath at our front door.

Mama and Papa attentively sit and/or feed their tiny fledglings, protecting them from the elements and marauding magpies.

Day 2 – I’m hungry!

I watch through the slightly open slats of the kitchen window, measuring the babies’ progress by the lengthening moments of time the mama spends away from the nest. When I see her leave, I race to the front door, slowly, carefully opening it to grab a photo. Sometimes, I’m not quick enough and the mama catches me mid-action. She squawks and flaps her wings, changing direction mid-flight as I hastily retreat and slowly, carefully close the front door. Within moments she returns.

I can almost feel her breath of relief. Her babies are safe. I didn’t disturb them.

Yesterday, their third day in this world outside the protection of their egg, I took a photo. Their feathers are starting to appear. Their beaks to become more defined. They are starting to untangle from one another.

It is mystery, magic, miracle at our front door.

She has chosen her nesting spot well. Tucked into the portico of our front porch, the winds do not disturb her, the rain does not intrude, and the magpies… they have to dive and tuck to access the nest. Before they can do that, mama and papa are on scene, and the crazy woman, aka me, on the other side of the glass has time to race to the window, hollering and flapping her arms to chase the magpie away.

The storm has abated, somewhat, though the winds still howl and rain falls, not as heavily and consistently. The river is higher today, the highest we’ve seen it since moving into this home 4 years ago. It’s still a long way from our back fence and the storm is predicted to pass today with the water cresting later this afternoon.

I am grateful.

Day 3 – too soon to fly

On our front door three baby robbins grow stronger every day.

On the pedestrian bridge I look at from where I sit at my desk typing, workers have gathered again to continue resurfacing the bridge deck. They’re doing their yoga this morning. Their morning ritual.

It pleases me to see them stretching and bending before beginning their work.

They were absent yesterday. It wasn’t safe to crawl over and under the bridge deck. I’m not sure I’d want to do it today but there they are, clad in rain gear, readying themselves for the day’s labour.

High above, the sky is lighter, less angry and swollen with pregnant clouds desperately trying to rid themselves of nature’s wet bounty.

The trees still dance in the wind. A small, leaf-burdened twig is ripped from a limb and strikes the deck.

I am here, calls out Mother Nature.

I see you, I reply.

We are one.

How it all began

Three eggs at our front door