Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Lessons from a Toddler

 

My grandson and I are walking to the park. It is not so much a ‘walk’ as a meandering saunter. We stop, frequently, to examine cracks in the sidewalk, blades of grass, and to watch the bumble bees busily working in the clover that grows in big swathes along the sidewalk.

He is fascinated in everything.

And I am his willing student.

Every morning while visiting my daughter and son-in-love, my grandson and I would wander to the park and I would be treated to his special view of life.

What a gift.

Here are some of the things he taught me:

  • There’s no need to focus on your destination. It’s not going anywhere.

Take time to savour every step along the way. You’ll get to where you’re going, eventually. Sometimes iyou’ll end up where you thought, sometimes you won’t. It’s all okay. Doesn’t matter. Where ever you end up, you’ll have discovered new vistas, new things along the way.

  • Take time to savour everything on your path and be curious about it all.

There is no need to rush when you go on a walk. Take time to examine leaves, watch bumble bees, giggle at worms crawling through the grass, kittens running in a garden. Take your time. Life is calling your name. Enjoy it! Be curious about everything! Feel the air. The grass. The leaves. The flowers. Just don’t touch the bumble bees. They’re busy.

  • A walk is a chance for adventure and there’s no better time than now for an adventure.

In adult time, the park with its children’s playground, is about a 3 minute walk from my daughter’s house. In toddler time, it’s an entire adventure filled with cars that drive by, cars that are parked, airplanes over head, dogs in widows who bark, cats sitting on porches who want to have staring matches… Get excited by the adventure of it all.

  • Look Up!

Look up, waaaay up. Be in awe of everything in the sky. The colour. The clouds. Birds. Planes. Insects. Always walk in awe.

  • Smile at everyone. (Even if they don’t smile back.)

A smile is a great way to brighten someone’s day. Smile. Even if they don’t smile back, you’ll feel lighter for having lifted the corners of your mouth. And if you want, give a wave too! People like to wave back sometimes!

  • It’s okay to hold hands. Or not. Do what feels right for you.

Sometimes holding hands (or a finger) is all you need to find your balance. Sometimes, having your hands and arms free is what you want. It’s okay. Walk how it pleases you. Oh. And Sometimes, you just need to be carried. It’s all in the adventure.

  • Sometimes we fall. And then we get back up.

A fall is just an opportunity to learn to navigate different terrain. It’s not the end of the walk, just a little side trip to explore the grass beneath where you landed, or the crack in the sidewalk that tripped you up.

  • Sometimes we cry. And then we stop.

Sometimes when we fall, it’s worth a cry. Sometimes it’s not. It’s all in how you feel in the moment of the fall. And that’s okay. You can cry if you want to. The cry is just for in the moment, not for the whole walk! And, after a cry, a cuddle always makes it feel better and then, you’re all set to dust yourself off and keep on walkin’.

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh. Often.

Life is a big adventure filled with many weird and wonderful things. Laugh at the smallest pleasures. Laugh at yourself. A lot. It makes the journey much more interesting and fun.

  • Take naps.

When you’re feeling tired, take a nap. You’ll feel much better when you wake up and then you’ll have all the energy you need to keep on exploring.

In the eys of a toddler, the world is a big, big place. What my 17 month old grandson teaches me every day is to never, ever let go of being fascainted by its incredible mysteries, beauty and humour.


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33 years and I’m so in love.

Alexis aged 2ish

I remember the first time I heard my daughter cry. She was still in the womb. The doctor had just cut me open to bring her into the world and she cried before they could lift her out of the protective cocoon of my body.

I remember the feeling of my heart leaping out of my body, of wanting to still her cries, of wanting to hold her forever, to never let her go, to always keep her safe.

And I remember how helpless I felt in that same moment when I realized I couldn’t stop her cries, couldn’t keep her within my body forever. That this was the challenge I would face for the rest of her life, to love her and to let her go.

I remember thinking that my job as her mother wasn’t to stop her from growing but to create safe places for her to experience life, in all its complexities, ups, downs and sticky places too.

I remember realizing that life is its own journey and that the greatest gift I could give her would be the confidence to navigate hers independent of the lifeline of the umbilical cord that had connected us for those 9 magical months I held her safe within my womb.

And I remember the pain of having to acknowledge I was not all powerful over her life, and couldn’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t be.

I remember when I realized that even though she was separate from my body she would always have my heart, always be a part of me. That I was forever changed because of her presence in this world. A presence that was made possible because of the mystery and magic of this evolutionary process called birthing life.

That moment of hearing her cry inside the womb was 33 years ago this Wednesday. I heard her cry at 10:38pm. And, ever since that moment, I have experienced the incredible joy and fear of being her mother.

Joy because she is so miraculous, so magical, so incredibly unique and special and wondrous.

Fear because I cannot protect her from all harm. Cannot prevent the world from invading her life in ways I cannot conceive of, in ways that will challenge her, stretch her, break her, and ultimately strengthen her.

My eldest daughter turns 33 this week. In the 12,037 days that she will have been on this earth come June 19th, there is not a moment that I have not given her my heart, given her my love or wanted only love, safety and joy for her.

And while I know that I have always wanted only those things for her, I also know I have been the cause of pain, confusion, fear, anxiety, loss, separation in her life.

It is all part of life. Part of being a parent. Part of giving birth to a miraculous being of light and love; to want only the best for her, and to have my humanness be the cause of her pain.

Alexis turns 33 this week. I am so blessed to call her my daughter. To witness her journey from infant to child to teen to young woman to mother.

Becoming a mother was more than just bringing a child into this world. It has been the most excruciatingly beautiful journey I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. It has been a journey of unprecedented joy, of incredible love, of finding myself beyond the realm of who I thought I was as I became what I never imagined I could ever be, a mother and a grandmother.

I am so blessed.


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Savour the time with those you love.

I am off to visit my grandson for a few days. Oh. And my daughter and son-in-love too!  🙂

I’m smiling. My heart feels light and though it is dark outside still, the brilliance of this day invades my senses.

I am off and may or may not have time to be here. My grandson and I like to spend the early morning times together as the rest of the household sleeps. It’s my favourite time of day. Just the two of us. Me watching him. Him chattering and playing. We sing and chat and build blocks and I shall treasure every moment.

There is no pklan. No schedule — other than his naps — to conform to. No get here. Get there. There is only this beautiful time to spend with those I love savouring our connection.

I’ll see you sometime soon!

 


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The magic of living life fearlessly.

photo by @brit_gill

photo by @brit_gill

From her first cry to her first smile to her first song, life with Alexis is always an adventure. Over the past 32 years, I have borne witness to the magic and miracle of her voice growing stronger. I have watched her move through toddler stage to little girl, to adolescent, teenager, young woman and now, a mother.

And always, she has enchanted and enthralled. She has been real and fierce and loving and brave.

Today is my eldest daughter’s birthday.

I remember this day 32 years ago. It was much like today promises to be. Bright and sunny. Blue sky soaring into infinity.

Life looked predictable. Like it would always be blue sky and sunny days.

And then Alexis came into this world. She arrived on her terms, on her schedule. We had been anticipating her arrival at the end of May. That day had passed. Alexis wasn’t ready to meet the world yet. Or perhaps, the world wasn’t ready to meet her?

In the end, Alexis Marie erupted onto life’s stage 23 days past her original due date. As I lay on an operating table and the doctor cut into my abdomen, I heard her cries from within my womb and my heart melted. I could feel it. That instantaneous giving way of the boundaries that held all known feeling in place. A letting go of all restraint, an abandoning of life as I knew it as this tiny, precious, perfect being was lifted from the safety of my womb and exposed to the world.

I wanted to keep her close. To keep her tied to the umbilical safety of my being the vessel that embraced her every breath.

And I had to let her go. I had to allow the cord to be cut to give her wings room to grow.

They have been growing ever since.

There is so much in this world I do not know. So much about life and living and loving fearlessly I have yet to explore.

Before I became a mother, I thought I knew it all. I thought I had life figured out and that once I did become a mother, it would be a pretty clearcut, straight forward journey of raising them and setting them on their path with the prerequisite education, tools and hope chest filled with all they needed to live adult lives in an adult world.

Being a mother has taught me how little I knew then about Love, and how much I don’t need to know now about anything else because, in Love’s light, everything else pales.

Alexis is a woman and a mother now. Beautiful. Talented. Creative. Kind. Caring. Loving. I watch her with her infant son and my heart melts all over again.

She sings to him, and I hear angels’ voices.

She dances with him and I see a fairy queen, ethereal, regal, magical.

She paints and writes and creates beauty and wonder in the world all around and I know her son’s life will be filled with magic and beauty, wonder and awe.

She is sensitive and gentle. Fiercely loyal. Fiercely proud. Sometimes, she doubts her own strength, questions her capacity to be courageous. No matter her self-doubts, always she finds her way through because of her heart’s capacity to beat to its own drum, march to its own beat, love in its own rhythm.

Always, she watches out for others. Sees the beauty in every soul, the wonder in every breath. She hears the words that are left unspoken, and feels the pain that is left unhealed and knows exactly how to reach out and soothe another’s fears, another’s tears, another’s sadness.

photo by @brit_gill

She is intuitive. She is whimsical. She is miraculous, just as she always has been. Just as she always will be.

She is a woman, a mother, a daughter, a grand-daughter, a step-daughter, a sister, a step-sister, a niece, a cousin, a friend. She is so many things and has so many ways of being amazing because she is Alexis.

Happy Birthday my darling daughter. Though the miles may lay between us, you are my heart. Forever and always.


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Life is grandson good!

Four generations

I had no idea being a grandmother, or YiaYa as I’m called, would make my heart feel so incredibly full. I had no idea.

But isn’t that just like life? We don’t really know what it feels like to do or experience something… until we do. And then — Wham! It hits you. Life is full of miracles and adventures and incredible happenings that have the capacity to take your breath away and leave you feeling so sated, life before pales in comparison to life now.

C.C. and I drove Alexis and our grandson, Thurlow, to the airport last night for their journey home. It was bittersweet. Spending the last week with him has been a beautiful journey of laughter, joy and Love. Knowing he is going home with a mother who loves him so deeply and to the welcoming arms of his very excited father helps soften the sadness of their departure and though there is distance between us, I carry him in my heart.

The only two creatures in our home this morning who were happy for the quiet were Beaumont and Marley. Both furry kids had their noses slightly out of joint at all the attention paid to the bundle of joy called Thurlow. Marley disappeared into the furnace room throughout the day, coming up at night when the coast was clear to sleep on our bed. Beaumont ventured a couple of licks of Thurlow’s feet, but aside from that, he mostly gave him a wide berth.

It is stunning to watch my beautiful daughter as a mother. She is soft and gentle, caring and relaxed. She takes everything in her stride, singing and cooing to her son as she cuddles and feeds him. She moves with his flow, timing her actions to his needs. She is amazing.

It was also incredible to watch my mother as she met her Great Grandson. She was so excited and thankful to be able to have the privilege to be here to meet him and told him she is looking forward to watching him grow. She turns 96 in August and is hoping Alexis will bring him back to wish her Happy Birthday. I hope so too!

In the meantime, I shall revel joyfully in this state of blissful YiaYa-hood and savour each video call and photo my daughter sends.

Life is good.

 

 

 


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Love is here!

Getting sleepier and sleepier and sleepier

The love of my life has arrived.

Okay, well there are others I love. C.C., my daughters, family, friends, pets. But Thurlow my grandson, he holds a special place.

He arrived last night. All 11 pounds of pure love and delight swept into our home with his mother and father, and completely took over our home, and hearts.

I’ll not be online much for the next week. Early mornings are YiaYa time. It was a pattern we got into when I stayed with my daughter and son-in-love just after Thurlow was born.

Alexis would wake up early. Feed him and then lay him in my arms. For the next two or so hours, she would sleep and I would savour my alone time with this tiny being who has captured my heart.

I am in Love and what a wonderful place to be!


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In the realness of being an imperfectly perfect mother – life is possible.

Almost thirty-two years ago, when I first became a mother, I remember wanting to be perfect. To do it right. To not make any mistakes. To be in control. To define every moment. Control every outcome.

And then reality set in.

I was the guide to another human being. They had their own voice. Own ‘being’. Own desires and ideas, thoughts and needs and while I could guide, I could not control them or ultimately, prescribe or design their path through life.

I had to give up my desire to be ‘the perfect mother’ for being real.

It was a wonderful awakening, albeit hard at times to live within the realization that being ‘real’ also meant making mistakes. Lots of them.

I have been blessed with forgiveness, acceptance and gratitude. I have been blessed with two amazing daughters who love me, beauty and the beast. Flaws and facets. Wounds and wisdom.

Watching my eldest daughter step into the role of motherhood this past week has been a gift beyond measure.

To witness her gentleness, her patience, her Love has given my heart reason to soar, to beat wildly, to murmur in quiet assent.

And, it has reminded me that in all things, no matter how dark the night or dreary the day, Love casts a light that makes even the dimmest moments shine. Love illuminates fear and uncertainty, making the road ahead less daunting, more easy to navigate.

When my daughters were born I wanted to give them the world. A world where their mother was always perfect, always wise, always there.

To have continued to want to give them all of that would have set them up for a life of disappointment. Because no matter how hard I tried to be perfect, being myself is fraught with  moments of uncertainty, confusion, even fear. Being myself means not always knowing the answers. Not always being sure of the path.

And being myself means always standing in Love, in spite of and because of my imperfections. It means loving the imperfectness of me so that they would be free to be themselves.

Eleven days ago my eldest daughter became a mother. As I watch her grow more confident in the role, I am blessed to see her letting go of ‘perfection’ so that she stands only in the realness of Love.

In that place, all things are possible. In that place my grandson will have everything he needs to grow up to become himself.

There is no perfect road to becoming a parent. There is only the road we take. And when we take it in Love, trusting in its capacity to light up even the darkest night, the only thing not possible is, perfection.