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.

Feeling the Friday Frolics

I begin, as I often do, without a clue as to what I am going to write. Trusting in the process, I let the words flow knowing, they will. They always do when I get out of my head and into my heart.

And my heart is saying, it’s Friday. Let’s enjoy a Friday Frolic,

And, because I met with my writing circle last night, I thought I’d share a poem I crafted. It’s one of those “I’m not sure where that came from but it’s fun!”

Which really does make for the best kind of writing experience. To just let go and let flow! Words. Images. Thoughts. Ideas.

The poem was inspired by a poem by Paige Lewis, I’m Not Faking My Astonishment, Honest, Every time we meet in the circle, our amazing guide, Ali Grimshaw, of the blog, Battery Flashlights, reads us a poem to trigger our creative responses.

Here’s what happened for me when I let “I’m Not Faking My Astonishment, Honest.” lead me into writing without knowing where my pen was going.

Thank you to my writing circle guides. You constantly inspire and excite me to keep on turning up, writing and exploring life through words and images..

I Don’t Know Where I’m Going
©2023 Louise Gallagher 

I took a trip
but didn’t know where I was going
and found myself lost 
planning
how to get somewhere
I didn’t know
because I didn’t know
I wanted to go there.

Confused, I phoned a friend
but they hadn’t planned on my calling
while I was on my trip to nowhere
and were not home
so didn’t answer
leaving me even more confused
about where I wanted to plan to go.

Lost in planning how to get somewhere
I didn’t know where I was going
I gave up on getting anywhere
and stayed where I was
until I could think of 
a better plan.

.

Life in the Key of Grace.

According to Thomas Moore, whose soul-centered philosophy speaks deeply to me, some of the more turbulent life passages we’ve experienced need to be healed, or we stay stuck. In our ‘stuckedness’ (my made-up word, not his). Unhealed passages leave us acting out in immature, unconscious ways that limit the grace with which we pass through each day and ultimately, prevent us from knowing grace in aging.

“Passages are not always easy. You may decide it is too much for you and settle for being stuck in a comfortable phase.” — Thomas Moore, Ageless Soul

Moore suggests we look back on our lives and see various passages as linked by plateaus which represent the stages of our lives. Not necessarily the ‘aged’ stages, but rather, the significant events which make up our growing ‘up’. School. Marriage. Travel. Jobs. Adventures…

Sometimes, we don’t navigate the passages between plateaus well. Sometimes, in our inability to let go of one plateau to pass through to another, we refuse to say yes to possibility and hold onto, or stay stuck in, what was and can never be again.

There are many ways to heal those broken passages.

One way is to draw a timeline of your life. (For me, doing this exercise, I like to tape pieces of 8 x 11″ paper end to end horizontally. I begin at the beginning – birth, and include photos, pictures cut out of magazines, drawings, etc. as I move along my timeline. I take my time – this is my lifeline, my life journey, I want to savour each moment, whether I judge it good or bad – it is my life.)

From birth to today, mark the significant events and a word or three to describe what you did when that significant event appeared in your life.

Look for patterns, for spaces where your reason for ‘living in the NO’ or stepping back from possibility carried over into other areas of your life, even when you wanted to say Yes.

Now, hold those moments lovingly in your mind, and let compassion, love, acceptance pour over them. Let your heart open wide to the realization that in those instances you chose No, not because you couldn’t do it, but rather, because doing it was too risky, scary, fear-inducing, or you just felt more comfortable staying stuck.

Let the grace of self-forgiveness envelop you. Imagine grace is a serene river flowing through every fibre of your being.

And then, say, “I see you. I forgive you. I let go. I am peaceful with my decision today.”

Repeat often.

The stories we let go of.

When I worked in an adult homeless shelter I heard many people’s stories. It was almost a ritual for staff. Whenever someone was talking about ‘their story’ of how they ended up at the shelter, the staff member would bring the client to my office door and ask, “Do you have a few minutes to listen to this woman/man’s story?”

I always had time for their stories.

They were, in many cases, all they had left of their past. All they carried with them. All they had to hold onto to remind them of who they were before…

…Before their husband took off leaving them with 3 small children, no money, no job, no prospects. For a while, they managed to keep it together. Eventually, the burden, the constant struggle to make a few dollars stretch to cover all the days of the month would take their toll. One drink became another and another until, the children were taken away and they were left, alone. Broken. Searching for release from the pain and turmoil that had become their life.

…Before the car accident that stole their wife and child leaving them unable to comprehend the sheer horror of what happened.

…Before the divorce. The fall from a roof. The fight. The breakdown. The big mistake…

People arrived at the shelter with their stories tightly gripped in memory banks and hands. Stories of how… life used to be.

…We were happy. I loved her. I always wanted to go to college. I had a career. I only wanted to be a good dad. I built things. I was well-respected. I made people laugh. I liked to sing. I painted. I wrote. I took care of people…

They would share their stories and I would listen deeply.

To the pain. The sadness. Sorrow. Regret. Confusion. Disbelief. Anger…

They would share their stories and I would hear the yearning for ‘the way things used to be’.

And when they were done, I’d tell them how sorry I was for what happened. How they must feel lost and alone. So sad.

Yet, no matter how they felt, one fact remained the same. None of us are powerful enough to change the past.

We can only look to today to find the path to tomorrow.

Sometimes I’d ask, “Are you able to let go?”

And they would inevitably reply. ‘Of course,’

Don’t we all believe that? Don’t we all believe we can change, leave the one we love who’s hurting us. give up smoking. find a job. go back to school. get sober. lose weight. change directions.

If only it were so easy.

We all have stories we tell on ourselves.

And when those stories are the only thing we have to hold onto, letting them go can feel like we are losing ourselves. It can feel so scary and overwhelmingly huge we hold onto them as if our lives depend upon their presence to keep us grounded on this earth.

We all have stories we tell on ourselves that hold us down.

Stories that begin with, I can’t. I don’t know how. I’ve never. It’s too late…

Are you willing to let go?

The questions we ask ourselves.

Monday morning. An uncharted day.

My afternoon was to have been busy – but I made a mistake in dates and now, it’s wide open.

How will I fill it? Or is it, spend it? Or use it up? How shall I pass the time?

Perhaps rather than any of the above, I need to see my time as a time to live wild and free. Bold and fierce.

Maybe, rather than asking myself, ‘How shall I pass the time?’, I invite myself into the day with the question, “How shall I live these hours fully-heartedly in love with my life today?”

And then, as Rilke invites, ‘to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.‘ so that I can ‘live the questions now.’

Ah… to live the questions as if they are a book written in a very foreign language.

Memory stirs. Athens. My then-husband driving. I am navigating. I know where we want to get to but am totally lost. My map is in English. The roadsigns in Cyrillic. Which I can’t read.

I try to decipher them. Quickly. I am losing ground as he tries desperately to stay with the traffic which is a cacophony of blaring horns and angry voices of drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and donkey cart drivers all vying for the same piece of road.

My driver is frustrated. Getting angrier by the minute.

I try to decipher the signs faster and faster as the temperature goes up in the car with the ferocity of a Chinook wind blowing in off the Rockies.

I am not succeeding.

Suddenly, I fold up the map and declare, “Let’s get lost.”

He laughs (sort of). “We are lost!”

Right. We are.

Then… let’s stay lost. Rather than seeking the pre-determined destination, let’s see where the road leads us. Let’s be open to the adventure!

I’d like to say that’s what we did but, if memory serves me well, we chose the safer route. (My idea of adventure and his were not the same.) We found a tourist office and acquired concise directions to take us to the inn we had booked for our week in Athens.

But what if… what if we’d stayed on the lost path? What if we’d chosen to keep travelling into the unknown.

Today, it isn’t the what if’s about the past that makes the difference. It’s the lessons learned, the growth experienced, the memories made of the journies taken.

I have never forgotten that drive through Athens. It was the genesis of my journey into letting go of my need to know every step of the journey before it began and my desire to stay rigidly attached to the outcome. It was the beginning of learning to trust in the process rather than the plan.pic

“Finding You’re Not Missing A Thing” music video release!

It is 7:30am. I have been awake since 5. Completed my NYTimes puzzles – not my best Wordle performance but hey! I got it in 5 so I’m happy. Taken Beaumont the Sheepadoodle for his first morning saunter. (On an aside, I love those dark early morning hours where only the sound of the rushing waters of the river accompanies us as we stroll along the back fenceline of our property.) I’ve meditated for 20 minutes, written my morning pages in my journal, made a dozen lemon cranberry scones, cleaned the kitchen, and am now sipping on my latter in the glow of the candle on my desk.

Saturday mornings are made for this.

And now, I’m writing a post for my blog. This is a deviation from the norm. I don’t usually post on Saturdays but…

Stepping away from the norm keeps things fresh.

And, the reason to step away this morning is very simple and compelling –

In August, I wrote about playing singer/songwriter Laura Hickli’s mom in her upcoming music video release

Well, it’s here! Released yesterday, the music video of “Finding You’re Not Missing a Thing” was released yesterday.

It is sublimely thought-provoking and moving. It is a deeply personal reflection of Laura’s journey to finding herself — and her voice – in the big, wide, world of possibility that exists for everyone when we step away from what we know and dive deep into what makes every human on this planet so divinely miraculous.

I hope you watch and listen and feel inspired to share. (It’s easy to do from the YouTube link – just copy and paste into your own feed. 🙂 ) It’s really, really good for an artist to have their creations shared broadly. Building her audience is critical to her career – see! You’ll be making a difference by contributing to the growth of an artist’s career! Win/Win!

Unbroken Morning

Wrapped in the soft glow of candlelight illuminating the dark, I sit in the quiet of night’s velvety embrace.

It’s early. Dawn sleeps deep, bedded down in night’s arms. The dark envelopes the sky.

I sit at my desk, breathing in the silence and watch the lights from the pedestrian bridge that crosses the river outside my window shimmer on the water’s inky black surface.

I am awake. I don’t want to be. But a dream I cannot remember awoke me. Unable to find sleep again, I do the thing I always do when sleep evades me. I get up, light a candle on my desk. It sits in front of the large picture window in our living room, looking west. Looking out into the darkness, to the river, the dark silhouettes of the trees that line its banks, nature’s painting of black on light shadow, waiting, like portals into some magical, far away land calling me to let go of what I know to enter the realm of all there is yet to discover.

My fingertips skim the keyboard on my laptop. The river flows. Olafur Arnald’s piano quietly plays in the background. The fridge hums. Beaumont the Sheepadoodle, lies at my feet, sleeping.

A light moves along the bridge. Someone on a bicycle is crossing. East to west. For a moment I am distracted. Where is he going? What is he doing riding a bike across the bridge at 4am?

His light disappears. I return to this moment.

The river flows. No wind stirs the naked branches of the trees that fill the gaps between tree trunks like cracks in ice spidering out.

Morning has yet to beckon.

Day has yet awaken.

I breathe in the quiet of the moment and feel my body easing into the darkness.

There is nowhere to be in the dark of night. No one thing I have to do. There is only this. This moment where I sit typing, breathing, and watching the river flow and the lights dance on its surface.

Day will come. Light will return to the sky. For now, I sit in the dark belly of night and let my mind flow like the river and dream of dancing with wild, fierce abandon into the unknown adventures of the day yet to rise.

Namaste

You Are Not A Mistake

Transitions can be frightening and necessary. We can’t see the road ahead. We don’t know what will happen. We feel unsafe in unknown territory.

And…we worry that to step forward into the unknown means leaving the past behind. Including the anger, the loss, and the pain that fuels us.

Somewhere, in a book I have long forgotten the name of, I read that we must look to nature for inspiration. The author wrote of how the beauty of fall is followed by the death of every leaf. The leaf lets go because it knows it’s time to move on. It is not striving for something else. It is not angry with the tree for letting it down. It isn’t about being perfect, it’s about the willingness to acknowledge its journey was perfect.

For humans, that perfect journey includes acknowledging our human imperfections, making amends where our imperfect behaviours have caused harm (where possible) and forgiving others so that we can transform our hearts and lives throughout our journey as change is as inevitable as the sun’s rising every morning.

To let go of what was and to allow what is unfurling to unfurl, we must forgive what was, what was, what wasn’t, and what did hurt us, and caused us angst, or pain.

And in that forgiveness is the gift of more. More peace. More gratitude. More possibility. More grace.

It isn’t that forgiveness negates justice or the need for justice. It is that forgiveness sets the forgiver free — and possibly the forgiven too. It is that forgiveness opens our hearts to possibility. Renewal. Hope. Peace. Love and Joy.

Forgiveness makes me whole. Because no matter what justice I deem necessary, or the law determines right, there is and always will be room for Divine mercy.

Mercy is the right of the God, the Divine, the Universe, the unknown and forgiveness is the deepest mystery of all.

A mystery is not something that cannot be solved or to be frightened of. Mystery is something I do not understand enough. And in the quest to understand the mystery of forgiveness, I am strengthened in my quest for inner freedom through learning what it means to forgive.

Those words in a book I cannot remember, continue to resonate as I explore what it means to be human on this journey of my lifetime.

A human being who makes mistakes and is never a mistake.

Today is an unwritten story.

Every morning I wake up and choose to write here, or not.

My story. My choice.

Every day, there are things I have to do over which there is very little choice or none at all. Like breathing. Bodily functions. Eating. Sure, I get to choose where and when and what I eat, but eat I must to stay alive.

Every day, my choices impact my quality of life, and if the science is correct, its duration too.

Which brings me to my thoughts about today – What choices will I make today that create the story I really want to tell about myself and to myself?

What kind of story do I want my life today to be?

A story of joy? A tale of woe?

Boldness untethered? Timidity quivering?

Living large? Playing small?

Signing out loud or silencing my voice?

What if, instead of just operating as if on auto-drive, you chose to get hyper-conscious of being here, right now, present and alive in this moment, writing your story as if it’s the greatest story you will ever have to tell about your life today?

What if?

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Alive. Breathing. Awakening. Here.

Morning sleeps in night’s dark embrace.

The river flows. Light glistens on its dancing surface. A car’s headlights cross in staccato bursts between the trusses of the bridge.

Ludovico Einaudi’s piano floats through the air on delicate notes of harmony.

Candlelight illuminates my desk. Coffee steam rises through its golden glow.

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle sleeps at my feet. He snuffles and gives a muffled bark. I wonder what he’s dreaming.

I sit at my desk, face bathed in candlelight and computer screen, typing and watching the river flow, the bridge lights glistening on its surface. I give a silent prayer of thanks to Miss Komininski, my grade 10 typing teacher. I do not need to look at the keys. My fingertips have travelled their well-worn path for decades.

These are the early morning hours I cherish.

These are the times I savour. They bring me harmony, peace, calm.

Not stolen. Not won. Present.

Memory stirs, pulling me from the here and now into a moment long ago when I walked in a courtyard at a monastary in a small town outside of Koln, Germany.

It is the early morning hours. I am the sole student representative from my school. I am participating in a week-long experiential program to learn how to act as a peer advocate against the looming war on drugs the adults in my world predict is coming.

The training program is filled with a mix of 30 students, educators and psychologists from American and Canadian schools in Europe.

I have no idea why I was chosen to represent my school, but in those dark not yet dawn hours of the morning that day, the ‘why’ didn’t matter.

I was there.

Walking in the mist-filled air listening to the monks chant morning Vespers. Feeling the cool moistness of pre-dawn caress my face. Hearing the quiet shuffling of my footsteps against the cobblestone pathway.

I was there in that moment. Alive. Breathing. Walking. There.

Another memory.

A still lake. Midnight. Black, star-littered sky above. Dark waters silent beneath the canoe in which I sit, motionless, paddle resting across my knees.

Mountain lake, waters so clear it’s as if the reflected stars are shining up from the depths below its surface.

I want to reach into the cool waters and pluck a star. Up. There is no falling. Only shining and it is shining for all its worth, lighting up the darkness above.

Some mornings are made for this. For strolling quietly through memory’s lanes, remembering.

Mystical. Magical. Mysterious. Pulling me into remembering the there and then that resonates so deeply with this here and now where I sit typing without looking at the keys.

Alive. Breathing. Awakening. Here.

Wishing you a day of wonder.

Namaste