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

She Dares to Let Go of the Past

Mixed media journal page. 9 x10″

Letting go of the past is the decision to release ourselves from anger and regret while holding ourselves accountable for our own healing, journey, life..

Sadness for a loss, sorrow for the hurt we’ve caused others or felt ourselves, grief, they may remain, albeit more quietly than when fuelled by anger and regret, but they do not consume our thoughts nor govern how we move through each day.

It isn’t that we forget what happened. In fact, looking back, mining the past for lessons, gifts and value is, I believe, important and integral to our human journey. Unburdened by regret means, we choose to ease the sting out of the memories so that we can be free to look forward in anticipation of the infinite mysteries of tomorrow confident in our clear-minded, light-of-heart approach to the future.

______________________

About The Artwork

Yesterday, I stepped into my studio thinking I’d begin working on some ideas I have for Christmas dinner nametags (I know. I know. I’m compulsive and like to get an early start. 🙂 )

The muse wasn’t interested in Christmas decorations. She was much more concerned about me taking care of my emotional well-being.

Which is what art-journalling is about for me. – Release. Balance. Breath. Space. Contemplation. Allowing. Accepting. Becoming.

I am in awe of the muse’s ability to create space for me to flow and release. Flow and release.

And in that release, allow whatever is within to appear. A signpost on my path.

Do I regret those almost five years I spent in an abusive relationship? I regret how painful my journey of transformation was to those I love. I regret the harm it caused everyone around me. In that regret comes my duty and accountability. To ease their pain, to create space for healing, I had to do the work to heal and reclaim my life.

No. I do not regret that journey. I know my decision to take it was from a place of great confusion, grief and pain. On that journeu, there are so many lessons that fuelled my personal journey into becoming. Me.

Ultimately, I lived through it. And that is a tremendous gift.

And, as I have just started reading Dan Pink’s The Power of Regret, I am still pondering, musing, and imbibing his words and ideas – so, I’ll probably be creating and writing more on this theme I’m sure! 🙂

Pink begins his book with the story of Edith Piaf and how this song became her anthem three years before her death. We played this song at our French/Indian-born mother’s Memorial Service March 3, 2020.

The More

What do you want more of in your life? It’s a question often asked in personal development courses.

What do you want? More of? Less of? None of? Lots of?

What you focus on makes a difference.

When I focus on the things that bring me joy, happiness, integrity, beauty, love, I move closer to the things I want.

If I focus on ‘the lack’, the things that don’t work, that upset me and pull me down, the less becomes my focus, drawing me away from all ‘the more’ I want to live a rich and fulfilled life.

What do you want more of in your life?

Why Change Now?

I think one of the most challenging aspects of aging is the growing awareness that our one last breath is drawing nearer with every breath we take. By perforce, that awareness embodies the realization that time is fleeting. It passes quickly – and there’s less time to do the things we want to accomplish, to achieve our dreams, to heal relationships, to change directions – to step joyfully into whatever we see before us.

That pressure of time passing can act as both a deterrent or motivator to making change happen in our lives.

Sometimes, we can fall into the habit of acting out on our belief there’s no point in doing anything. We don’t have enough time to make change happen and we’re too old anyway. Our acting out looks like inaction — but the act of thinking about doing nothing is action in and of itself.

When we choose to believe every breath matters and every breath is an opening into wonder and awe, the possibility of our taking active, committed and passionate steps towards whatever it is we want to achieve or do overrides time’s insistence we keep watch of each passing minute, without doing anything else.

I like to multi-task. Keeping watch of time motivates me to keep doing the things I want to do to add richness, variety, excitement, joy, mystery, wonder and awe into my life.

I’ve lived most of my life like that. Why change now?

This is Life! Don’t ya’ Love it!

True confessions. I have a compulsive streak.

It is both my ally and my enemy.

Getting the job done? That’s me. Getting the job so it’s good enough… Well… let’s just say ‘the good enough’ is always a challenge. Somewhere in me is a voice that insists… it’s not good enough… yet.

It’s a mind game.

Keep going ’cause better is out there somewhere. Or, choose to accept good enough is exactly that. Good enough. ‘Cause seriously… how much time are you willing to devote to this thing that should have been done yesterday?

And, I gotta admit, … there are times when that green-eyed monster named ‘Mis-Envy’ rolls in and leaves me breathlessly chasing the goal of being what I think is ‘normal’ (based on some ridiculous child-derivative notion that normal exists) so that I can accept ‘good enough’ as good enough.

Now, in some things, living by the adage, “If better is possible is good, good enough?” is both laudable and important.

But, when the pursuit of ‘a possible better’ consumes your peace of mind and sense of well-being, perhaps a re-thinking/attitude adjustment is in order.

Like me and the non-fiction piece I’m writing editing… editing.. .editing.

It’s just not ‘good enough’. Yet.

What if…

And then, my love of ‘what ifs’ becomes the gateway to total consumption of my life balance, homeostasis, and whatever beauty is embodied within this moment right now.

Ya. That kind of ‘better is possible’ thinking.

But… I am almost done. I say almost because I’ve reordered the story. Stripped out characters, streamlined events to make the story more impactful and meaningful within the competition’s 2,000-word limit.

And now, I’m fine-tuning each scene to… ya, you guessed it… make it perfect. Sigh, I can be soooo human sometimes! she says with a smile at her own fascinating response to whatever she’s doing that bemuses her and makes her laugh.

I’m almost there.

And here’s the thing…

Writing this piece has reawakened my love of writing. Not just daily blog writing, from which I’ve been woefully absent over the past month as I crafted and recrafted my article.

No, I mean the ‘here’s the story, let me draw you in and string you along until we reach a denouement and you breathe a sigh of contentment, relief, release as the characters come to a conclusive scene that says, “This is Life! Don’t ya’ love it!”‘

Ya. That kind of writing.

That kind of being alive.

__________________________

This post is also in response to the word prompt at the lovely Eugi’s Causerie Your Weekly Prompt –Envy – February 15, 2022

It didn’t start out that way — and that’s the great joy of this space. If the shoeIf the words fit, write it.

She Dares To Transform Pain Into Beauty.

Yesterday. The day before. And before that…

so much.

to reflect upon.

remember.

savour.

And through it all, woven threads of gold spun with sapphires and emeralds and precious moments and words and thoughts glittering like diamonds in a field of love.

It is the last day of this year, a year rich with memory and joy and sadness and hardship and possibility and new adventures and missing friends and treasured rare encounters.

A year like no other. But then, every year is a year like no other for every year is filled with days sparkling with opportunities to experience, lessons to learn and happenings to grow through.

As this day (and year) draws to a close and C.C. and I, having forgone the small gathering we had planned with two other couples, await our meal to arrive at the front door, I reflect upon all that has happened, all I have learned, done and left undone or not even started. I smile at all I have gathered, created, discarded and accumulated. And, I am reminded of how this year has been a year like no other, and yet a year none-the-less to experience and learn from and breathe through as I stumbled, surmounted, succumbed and succeeded beyond my wildest imaginings.

So much of this year feels like a blur, like I was sleep-walking through its days, going through motions but not really connecting to the essence of all it offered. And still, there are moments of pure bliss, of complete surrender, of divine grace shimmering within each breath I took as I lived each moment fully embodied in the mystical, unfathomable mystery of life.

I am so many things and within this moment right now, I am grateful, humbled, and surprised by how full my heart feels, how deep my sense of awe becomes me and how truly blessed I am in this life for which I hold deep and abiding gratitude.

I spent the day in the studio today. Inspired by a conversation with a friend, an email from another, an encounter at the dog park, the wide-open clear blue sky, the fresh (ok, arctic cold) air, the frost embracing the trees, the river finding new paths through the rapidly forming ice and Beaumont the Sheepadoodle trying to shed his new booties (he was unsuccessful!) and the advent of a new year, I wrote a poem and then spent a day in my studio creating to the poem which I wrote in gold lettering as part of the background of my latest creation.

Luminous Light
by Louise Gallagher

Luminous light
aches 
for the passage of time
to lean out
beyond the darkness
holding our hopes
in tender hands
like a nest gently
sheltering
a babe
preparing to fly
into a new year
full of promise
that the old one has passed
away
holding nothing
but imaginings
of a future
full of mystery, wonder and awe.

I wish for you, as they say in Germany, a “Guten Rutsch ins Neue Yahr.”

May the slip from the old to the new be a gentle reminder to live each moment with all your heart and to open yourself up with wild abandon to all the beauty, mystery, and awe the world has to offer.

And, as my creation today extolls, may you always dare boldly to transform life’s hardships into a world of beauty.

Happy New Year!

Stop What You’re Doing!

“Stop doing what you’re doing to avoid doing what you need to start doing to do the things you want to do.”

Huh?

I can’t see her as I lay beneath a blanket of bath bubbles this morning at 5:00 am. I have been up since 4. Trying to get back to sleep.

Trying didn’t work so I decided to pour myself a bath, while also hoping it was too early for my mother to awaken from ‘the other side’ and come for a visit.

No such luck.

Except, I can’t see her. Only hear her.

And that was her message. The ‘stop avoiding and get doing’ call to action.

And then, the working title of this book I’ve been struggling to write (okay avoiding writing) pops into my mind, “What Her Mother Knew.”

I smile when I see it floating into view.

As a child, the book that most impacted me was “What Katie Did.” It’s the story of an English girl who falls off the roof of her home and is forced to spend her days in a wheelchair. She didn’t let it hold her down. She persevered in her desire to create joy in her life and the lives of everyone around her.

I loved her optimistic attitude. I loved how she overcame obstacles and her stubborn defiance of those who said, “You can’t do that.” Katie did it anyway.

Along with Pollyanna, my second favourite book, and The Parent Trap which my middle sister and I spent days upon days re-enacting, I always believed no matter how dark the day, the sun was still shining behind those grey skies.

When I look back on it now, I understand why those stories meant so much to me. Katie was encumbered with a disability that she did not let destroy her. Pollyanna always saw possibility and in the Parent Trap, twins separated at birth discover their love really is the strongest glue of all.

Growing up, for a whole bunch of reasons and a whole lot of circumstances that I struggled to make sense of, I believed, deep within me, that I was a mistake, unwanted, a constant disappointment, and, that somewhere in the creation of me, the universe got confused and replaced my egg with that of a weirdo. Which meant, I always believed I didn’t fit in or belong in my family circle.

I mean seriously, I always knew I was born one day after the day my mother wanted me to come into this world, and I was a girl. My father lost $20 and a case of beer because of my mistake in gender. All of which meant, I wasn’t wanted.

Of course, those were just my child’s mind creating stories (the date and losing the bet were true btw) to make sense of a world that didn’t make sense to me — and while in the end, those are now just stories, not my truth, those books impacted me and helped me cope. They also helped me define what kind of person I wanted to be in this world.

Which brings me back to my mother’s voice wafting through the candlelight and smell of eucalyptus in the bathroom this morning as I lay soaking in the tub.

The opening of the story wrote itself as I lay there. The outline of its journey became clear.

And… to start doing what I need/want to be doing, I shall be pulling away from writing here in the mornings.

I’ll drop in, I mean you are all part of my story and my journey. But it will be different — I’ll be reposting photos with quotes I’ve written over the years. But long posts — if you find me here doing those — tell me to get doing what I’m avoiding doing.

Thanks!

You Have A Story To Tell (a visit from my mother)

My Mother. 1943

I suppose it had to happen.

After taking a break from visiting me while I was in the bath, my mother returned. For one last visit, at least for this year or until I do something, or don’t do something that makes her want to shake me up, as is the case now, she tells me as I lay immersed in hot, bubble-laden water, trying to ignore her presence.

“You can’t ignore spirit,” she says. Her voice is laced with more of her French accent than it was in the past. It’s stronger, more sing-songy too.

“What happened to your Holly Golightly get-up?” I ask, wanting to avoid at all costs, any conversation with my dead mother about spirit. If we never had those conversations in real life, why would we have them now?

In her previous visits, she was always dressed, a la Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany’s fame, in a red satin cocktail dress, black high heels, bouffant hair sprayed stiff. In one hand she held a martini glass. In the other a long ebony cigarette holder.

“Oh that. She was for you. You always wanted me to be a little more flamboyant than I was. So, I decided in this iteration of my being, I’d at least make myself over into someone you could relate to.”

Surprised, the bubbles wafting up around my hands as I tried, vainly, to vanish this latest apparition of my mother, I sputter and say, “You’re dead. You’re not here. I am alone in the bath.”

“Well, you’re definitely alone in the bath. I am no longer in need of such cleansing. But, I am definitely here. Sort of like a message in a bottle, only this time it’s in a spirit. And she does that thing I seldom recall hearing her do in life. She giggles.

My mother started appearing, (always while I was in the bath), shortly after she… passed over, as she likes to call it. “The spirit never dies,” she says. “After its human journey, it returns to its eternal state, energy, or as you humans euphemistically call it, Love.”

Originally I wasn’t that surprised to see her. We had a lot of unfinished business and I needed to clean it up to heal.

I thought we were done. Which is why I am surprised to see her. After several attempts to conjure her up earlier this year when it became clear her visits were over, I’d decided she was gone. Forever.

Which was a bit of a relief. I felt very uncomfortable entertaining my mother while I was in the bath. No matter how high I piled on the bubbles, I always felt she could see right through me.

And in spirit form, she always could.

Something I didn’t give her much credit for in life.

I always thought she was so immersed in her own stories of worry and woe, she couldn’t see me, at least not the real me. The one I liked to think I was in the world.

It took many of my adult life years, and hundreds of hours in therapy, to get to a place where my anger and disappointment in what I judged as her inability to be the mother of my dreams, didn’t interfere with my capacity to love her as the mother she was. Human. Flawed. Imperfect. Carrying her own history. Her own schtick.

Just like me.

And then, she died just before her 98th birthday leaving me to deal with my grief that in life, I’d never found the secret to being the kind of daughter to her that my daughters are to me.

“You know you’re doing it again, Louise, ” she says as if reading my mind, which apparently, in spirit form she can, she reminds me.

“What’s that?”

“Well, for one, right now, you’re trying to play innocent. Like you don’t know what I mean when you do.”

I sigh. I am positive she was never this perceptive, nor direct, in real life.

“What you are living right now is not ‘real’ life, Louise. Take it from me. It gets a whole lot more real on this side. In fact, all you get is real over here, ’cause you no longer have to hide behind your smile, or make-up, or pretending you’re anything other than who you are. Yourself. On this side, judgment, criticism, one-upmanship… it all vanishes as spirit claims the purity and love at its essence. It’s quite refreshing actually.”

It is about the longest speech I’ve ever heard her give. Not to mention the deepest.

And with that, she begins to merge with the air around her.

“Quit hiding,” she tells me on a parting breath. “Write the story. You have something to say.”

And with that, she is gone.

I am alone.

Or am I?

What I Want

What I want is to not feel the weight of our human condition burdening the world with hopelessness and despair.

What I want is to let go of knowing our human capacity to harm one another without thought of the consequences of our deeds.

What I want is to believe there is only light.

But I know I cannot do that. To have what I want, I must live in denial of the darkness.

I do not want to do that.

And so, I choose to see the darkness. To witness the crimes against humanity, the desperation of the oppressed, the fear of the oppressor. The tears of the abused. The anger of the abuser.

I choose to acknowledge we are all of this. I am all of this for if it is in you, it is in me.

We are all of this. And so much more.

We are darkness. We are light.

We are the lies we cannot hear and the ones we repeat to keep ourselves from hearing the truth.

We are the sadness and sorrow of the things we do to harm one another. We are the laughter and joy of loving one another fierce and true.

We are limited by our beliefs. We are limitless possibilities of life.

And though I cannot erase the pain and suffering, though I cannot eradicate hunger and disease, I can stop turning away from those who suffer, those who harm, those who blame and shame and ignore the pain of others. I can stop pretending that I am powerless to see what is happening and choose instead to walk into the darkness shining my light so that others can see there is light in the darkness.

Because when I shine my light, I am courageous enough to see into the darkness that is all our humanity and still believe in the goodness of humankind.

When I shine bright, I am strong enough to shoulder this burden of our human condition as if it is made of feathers.

And when I never quit believing in the beauty of our shared humanity, I am powerful enough to change my world in ways I never before imagined.

I want to pretend the darkness is not there.

I cannot do that so I carry my light where ever I go because I believe the light will always overcome darkness and Love will always lead the way as long as I keep stepping into the darkness shining my light as bright as I can be.

And in that light, I join hands with all who walk with eyes wide open in the darkness, holding their light for others to see.

_____________________________________

I was going to share photos of my visit to Vancouver — but I have to upload them first to my computer and then… this morning, I dropped into David Kanigan‘s place, followed a link he shared to another blog, Memory’s Landscape, and….

well… let’s just say the muse had her way with me as she is wont to do when I feel inspired by the beauty, wonder and awe of all I discover is possible when I stop pretending nothing is.