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.

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?

.

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

It’s time to begin again.

Sometime ago, in an art journalling class I was teaching, a woman who journaled a lot but had never painted before, bemoaned the fact her page was ‘crap’.

“What if you were to reframe how you judge your effort?” I asked. “What if instead of saying, ‘it’s crap’, you celebrated yourself for being willing to even try something new you’ve never done before?”

I’d like to say she had this amazing AHA! moment. That suddenly she lit up and said, “That’s it! I need to let go of condemning myself for trying and celebrate the fact I am trying!”

I’d like to say, thus began her love affair with art journaling.

Fact is, she soldiered on, mumbling under her breath for the rest of the class until the end of that session when she stood up, ripped the page out of her journal and tore it up.

“See., I was right. I am not an artist,” she said as she left the studio ceremonially dropping the scraps of her art journal page in the big black garbage can by the door.

Fact is, before I started painting in my 40s, I too believed I wasn’t an artist.

The voices in my head liked to repeat how once, in my 20s, a guy I was dating had given me some oil paints and, after I’d produced my first ‘masterpiece’ informed me I should probably stick to writing. “At least you have a chance of being good at that,” he said.

I dumped the guy but, the fact is, he was right. He was also wrong. I had a lifetime of writing against which to build my proficiency and talent. Of course I wasn’t going to be great at painting.

Heck! It was my first time.

But, like that woman in my class, I had created one painting, with zero training, and chose to let that be my truth – until that day in my mid-40s when I picked up a paintbrush and began again.

And kept going. Again and again and again.

Today, I create pieces I love. Albeit, some more than others and some, well let’s just say their many layers inform the whole of their beauty.

Today, I know that the beginning of anything is just the invitation to keep going to create again and again.

I am in an art show in June. Other than creating place cards for Christmas dinner and memory bowls for my sisters, I haven’t been in my studio for awhile.

It’s time to begin again.

How To Be Bold

Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen’s. Calendar Girls, a documentary about an over 55-year-old dance troupe whose use of glitter, feathers, bling, and heavy eye makeup would make RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants look under-dressed, recite while dancing as rainbow unicorns, “We use magic from our hearts to make the world a better place,”

At first glance, there is a natural response (driven by societally driven unconscious biases on how ‘older women’ should look and behave) to mock or at least look askance at these older women strutting their stuff rife with flabby arms and wrinkles.

What are they doing? Trying to look young? Trying to recapture lost youth? Make fools of themselves? Why don’t they cover-up?

By the end of the hour-long documentary what’s clear is that none of the above is the case.

These women are teaching all of us how to live life on our own terms. How to be BRAVE. BOLD. And above all BE TRUE TO OURSELVES.

The documentary is currently ‘doing the circuit’ of festivals and competitions. It won a prestigious spot at the Sundance Film Festival and continues to inspire, provoke and confuse audiences across North America.

Last night’s screening by THIRD ACTion Film Festival is done. I hope you can find it somewhere else so that you too can be enchanted by these women who not only use the magic of their hearts to create a better world but whose friendship and sisterhood remind all of us that none of us have to take this journey of life alone. None of us can.

We are all going in the same direction. Why not glitter it up, throw on some bling and heavy eye makeup and dance your way into the dying light rather than, as Dylan Thomas once counseled, rage against it.

And, if you want to continue to shake-up unconscious biases about aging and get those sillies out, February’s My Sailor – My Love promises to be a moving, inspiring and provocative film about family, aging and Love. Perfect for Valentine’s Day (which is when it’s screening)

Visit the THIRD ACTion website later this week for details. Or, check out this review.

______________________

Taking the first step matters – so do all the others

In file folders on my laptop, I have a number of projects I’ve started, and never finished.

In my studio, on shelves and in drawers, tucked into drawing pads and sketchbooks, I have a number of projects I’ve started, and never finished.

Pithy words about ‘starting’ abound. We talk about one door closing and another opening, about the journey of a thousand steps beginning with one. About how to begin anything you must take the first step.

And all of that is true. Taking that first step is important. The next step and the next are also important because, the fact remains, without follow-through, you will never cross the finish line.

When I stop to survey my started/not finished accumulations against my completed projects, I find there exists a delicate tension between the two.

I could look at the ‘started/not finished as an example of my failures, my lack of discipline, commitment, staying power.

OR…

I could see them as stepping stones that taught me invaluable lessons along the way.

Sure, I sentenced some of them to the pile of forgotten flotsam that crowds cupboards and drawers, but, each of them helped improve my techniques, my abilities, my capacity to create, AND my understanding of myself.

Each piece of forgotten flotsam adds value to the whole. And the whole picture, actually the whole truth, is… the projects I have completed are the ones where my follow-through was motivated by my passion to cross the finish line.

But, here’s the thing.

The reason I don’t cross the finish line on some projects isn’t that I don’t have the discipline or willpower to not ‘give upl.

The reasons I don’t cross the finish line on some projects are more a complex psychological dance with internal messaging about my self-worth than a ‘this art isn’t good’ kind of decision-making process.

Finishing a project is exciting. Fun. Self-rewarding and satisfying.

Not finishing is an opportunity to grow my self-awareness, to strengthen my commitment to me and my journey, and to learn and grow through every step of that journey.

And, isn’t that what life is all about? Learning from this journey that grows in value with every step we take.

Namaste.

One Word. One Sun. One Moon.

The New Year is four sleeps old.

I have been waiting for ‘my one word’ to appear since before the calendar turned over.

This morning, in the stillness that comes before dawn, in the quiet of the dark holding onto the sky, it slipped in as gracefully as the river flowing past.

Fierceness.

My One Word is FIERCENESS.

It is a scary word to me. To embody fierceness I must be not only fearless but strong and supple, committed and convicted of my path.

Fierceness reminds me that it is never too late to choose harmony, not discord. Peace, not war. It’s never too late to have a change of heart. Never too late to forgive. Never too late to let go.

And never too soon to choose Love.

To embody fierceness I must live within the moment allowing love to embrace my fears, whatever they may be.

My one word, “Fierceness” embodies the invitation to let go of fearfulness and stand strong of back, soft of heart, in Love with all humankind, all beings on this planet, sentient and insentient.

Fierceness calls for me to walk as one with this one whole world

Do you have One Word for 2023?

Please feel free to share it in the comments section below. Perhaps your word will inspire someone to hear theirs.

Namaste

What I’ve Learned

In March 2007, I made a commitment to write a blogpost every day. For a year.

That year has come and gone and I am still writing a blogpost every day (almost).

Why?

Because it’s good for my soul. My heart. My head. My being. It’s good for me and how I am in this world.

Writing every morning has taught me so many things. It’s taught me that turning up on the page (or screen) keeps me flowing.

Through turning up on the page, I’ve learned to trust in the process.

To be present, in whatever I am experiencing, and find its gifts, its value, its lessons.

Turning up here has taught me, I am not alone. We are not alone. We are all connected.

And, it’s taught me the value of practice. Of doing something just for the sake of doing it and in that doing, to allow the practice to improve my doing.

So many things I’ve learned turning up here every morning.

I have learned through writing here that I am my thoughts. And what I write needs to reflect my deep belief that we are all miracles of life. Life is miraculous.

I have learned writing here that we are all on this earth to live as our highest expression of life. We are here to be the sacred nature of our soul’s desire to express itself through our beauty, truth, and creative essence. We are here as miracles of life. Because, a miracle of life is all we can be.

I have learned that my thinking can keep me playing small, or open me up to my magnificence.

I have learned that trusting in the Universe is important. I have learned to trust that; life is filled with limitless possibilities and I am powerful beyond my wildest imaginings when I trust in the Universe. The Universe is not against me. t is always there, encouraging me to trust in the evolutionary impulse to evolve and grow and expand and keep becoming. To be all that I am when I let go of fearing the Universe is not with me. The Universe is with me. For me. Of me. It is in the best interests of humanity that I shine, that you shine, that we all shine full of our greatest expression of Love.

I have learned that fear will always want to steal my peace of mind. I’ve learned that being courageous and letting love lead the way is the only antidote to fear.

I have learned that people are amazing. People make the world a better place.

And I have learned that Love is the answer. Love always wins.

Love connects us all.

We are all spirit. We are all human. We are all miraculous beings of life and light.

It is a deep realization that has continued to open up within me the possibility and the knowing that there is nothing to fear in this world. Not failure. Not success. Not falling. Not flying. Not life. Not death.

There is nothing to fear. For no matter what happens on this earthly plane, we are eternal. We are soul. One humanity. One spirit. One people. Connected through Love.

Don’t Think. Just Do.

On December 28 I made a commitment to write in my journal every day. Whether one word or a page, I will write with a pen whatever is on my mind.

Last night, after spending the day disrobing the Christmas tree, putting away the season’s finery, and putting the house back in order, followed by an evening binge-watch of a series on my laptop, I realized I had not yet written in my journal.

“It’s too late to do it now,” the critter whispered in my ear. “Save it for tomorrow.”

My commitment to myself saved me.

The inner loving voice of wisdom whispered, “Write this… I deserve to believe in myself. To trust me. To honour my commitments to me. I deserve my self-respect.”

I wrote out the words 3 x — and went on to fill out the page with my thoughts.

It has been a long (long) time since I wrote consistently by hand in my journal. Reawakening the habit requires consistency – and commitment keeping.

Keeping commitments to myself creates a world of difference for me. It ignites feelings of self-respect and love. It creates a sense of honour, like I can depend upon myself to turn up for me.

In fact, I have been doodling away at a novel I began writing last year and haven’t gotten very far – mostly because of self-excuses that let me off the hook of turning up for me.

In my journal, I have drafted the outline for the book along with the first three chapters.

That is progress.

That is turning up for me.

What about you? What commitments to yourself have you not kept, or would like to keep but are putting off or avoiding altogether?

What are the stories you tell yourself about why you haven’t turned up in full living-colour within your own life?

If you have anything on your list, here’s my recommendation:

Don’t think about all the reasons why not. Just Do.

  • Don’t buy into your own excuses. Just Do
  • Stop thinking about why you don’t, or why you shouldn’t, or all the other why nots that clatter around your brain. Just Do.
  • Stop beating yourself up for not doing — Just Do.
  • And above all, love yourself by turning up for yourself in your hesitation, stalling, confusion, regrets, excuses — and Just Do.

Don’t think. Just Do.