Don’t Give Yourself Away

The morning after….

LOL — that used to mean something entirely different than it does now in my year of turning into my 70th decade!

And still, the morning after has great significance, even if it is just another day that began with my moving with the earth on its continual journey around the sun as the dark slips away to the west in the universe’s endless game of Chase the Sun!.

We shared our anniversary dinner with C.C.’s brother, M and his wife, also an M who are visiting from out-of-town. It was a lovely interlude and opportunity to get to know them better — they were part of our wedding celebration which made it even more fun!

I cooked, we chatted, did not drink copious amounts of wine — we do grow wiser as we age!

It was also a work-day for me yesterday which meant, in between Zoom meetings and writing a briefing note on the imperative of reducing long-term unemployment, I baked bread, made Carrot Ginger Soup and a Lemon Cake.

In the process, I discovered an interesting challenge. — If you put the formed bread into the proofing oven for its second rise, and then forget about it for 2 and a half hours, the buns that should have risen to perfect little individual rolls which butted up against each other in the pan but didn’t overwhelm their neighbours, become one big gooey mass of over-proofed dough.

You gotta pay attention!

It’s like a marriage.

If I do nothing to enrich, nurture and nourish our union, I risk it becoming a big blob of ooey, gooey nothingness that does not feel, look or even taste good to either of us. Without appropriate watching and tending to ensure the rough spots aren’t growing rougher, or the thin spots weaker, we risk losing the connection, joy and love which form the foundation of our ‘I Do’s’.

In between working, when I was cooking, I listened to Julia Louis Dreyfus interview Jane Fonda on her podcast, Wiser than Me (it’s a great podcast btw. She only interviews women over the age of 70). In the interview Jane Fonda, who is now 85, shares how she has learned she cannot be in a committed relationship with a man again. She misses the sex, she says, but she doesn’t miss losing herself into her need to become whomever she thinks the man wants her to be.

In a marriage, at least in mine, the greatest gift I give myself is when I remain as myself and continue to grow myself – and our marriage. That isn’t always easy.

I like to please. I am culturized to want to ‘make a man happy’ and to believe ‘the man matters – more.’

It’s the more that has always tripped me up because, when I let go of being me by believing, and acting, like his needs and wants and opinions are more important than mine, resentment and anger fester.

I’d like to say I’ve learned how not to do that, the lose myself that is, but the truth is, I am, just like our marriage, a constant work in progress.

For our union to work, I must stay vigilant and committed to becoming all of me without losing any of me to all of him. I can give love, commitment, compassion, caring, joy, freely, but in that giving, I cannot give myself away.

It’s a lesson I keep growing into as I grow deeper and deeper into becoming the all of who I am when I stand fearlessly in Love with all of me — and that includes the woman who has created big ooey gooey messes and mistakes. It’s not the messes I’ve made that define me, it’s what I’m willing to do to mop up my mess and create better, every time.


The last spring of 69

Spring arrives in a symphony of fluttering wings as honking geese settle on the river’s surface where water has broken free of winter’s icy grip.

Like soldiers marching along the border between neighbouring lands, geese goose-step in a line along icy banks patrolling their turf against invaders. Suddenly, a new gander arrives, and a flurry of flapping, hissing and honking erupts as they battle it out only to subside in the recognition that they are friends, not foes along the water’s edge.

Days are longer. Sun feels brighter and hope of warmer days begins to blossom.

Like the squirrels coming out of hibernation and scurrying along naked branches, leaping from one outstretched tree limb to another, a vagrant thought skitters through my mind.

“This is my last spring of 69,”

As quickly as the thought erupts it rushes off in pursuit of happier climes.

But seriously? My last spring of 69?

What does that mean? Why is it important? Do I care?

The answers are ambiguous.

It doesn’t mean anything in particular. It means a lot. It means what I put into it and whatever I invest into it will create its import, or not.

Do I care?

I suppose if the thought fluttered into my mind with the fury of a goose’s wings breaking its speed as it lands on water, I suppose the answer is, I must care. Somewhere in me, I must care about turning 70 come December.

Watershed moments amidst spring ice cracking up.

It has always been this way for me. Decade markers loom large, whether 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and now, the upcoming 70.

It isn’t that I’m scared or anxious. It is that decade markers open up brave space to explore the question, “Where am I at on this life journey of mine? Am I letting fear drive me away from my dreams or am I calling upon courage to draw me out into living my all fearlessly invested in making this one life of mine a journey of Love?”

And perhaps, the harder question still, as the numbers climb up and the litany of things I used to do grows longer, “Am I still dreaming of new experiences, new adventures? Am I still propelling myself away from comfort zones and limited thinking into the wide-open spaces of possibility where I see this life of mine as a grand adventure full of magic, mystery and wonder?”

It is the alchemy of time.

We begin not knowing there is an ending and grow wiser in our understanding of time and life’s limited number of heartbeats with each journey we take around the sun. Whether we see time as scarce or abundant, speeding or dragging, standing still or running out, the seasons continue to change and the earth to orbit the sun no matter the decade, or times, of our life.

It is the first day of spring. The geese are returning filling the air with a cacophony of sound heralding their arrival. Slowly, river ice is breaking up, the trees are shaking-off winter’s inertia and the promise of new buds and life surrounds me.

It is my last spring of 69. My only one at this particular number in fact. But who’s counting?

What’s most important is not the number of springs I embrace as I shed my winter coat to stretch my arms wide in anticipation of warmer days to come. It’s how committed I am to live fully engaged in life, investing all my joy, passion, and heart into each new day I am privileged to greet.

It is my last spring of 69. Let me make it count, not by its number but by how I live it up for all I’m worth. ‘Cause that’s a lot!.

There is truth in everything…

In her later years, my mother wanted only to know peace and harmony.

“Stop being so difficult,” she would say to me whenever I wanted to talk about our relationship. “Just be nicer to me and everything will be fine.”

I struggled to understand how wanting to talk about our relationship was not nice. I believed talking about the challenges we faced was the path to peace and harmony.

My mother felt otherwise.

Peace and harmony come when we let the past lie where it belongs.

For me, peace and harmony are founded on honesty. Not the ‘brutal honesty’ that some feel is necessary to get it all out in the open, but rather, the heart-driven honesty of being vulnerable and truthful about what is true for you. Your pains, hurts, feelings and thoughts.

Honesty does not accuse. It reflects.It listens. It hears. I respects.

What is true for me. What is true for you. What I’m feeling. What you’re feeling. Understanding. Observing. Making conclusions about. Making decisions on.

My mother struggled to face ‘truths’, at least truths of the personal kind. To her, my constant quest to understand, know, explore and talk about our human frailties, quibbles, quirks and inconsistencies was disagreeable.

We struggled to find peace and harmony together.

In looking back on my relationship with my mother, I can see the gaps where I could have built a bridge but chose instead to stand in the brutal truth of my position without respecting hers.

I see where her need for letting the past lie in peace was in constant conflict with my desire to unearth it, dig up the roots and till the soil so we could plant new seeds.

And I see where I ignored her cries for silence in my efforts to be heard.

And I am at peace.

Today, I can see where I judged our dance of intimacy as not enough and she saw it as too much.

I can see the steps I took that were out of time with hers, and, where our truths were singing different songs.

There is truth in everything but not all things are true.

For my mother and me, there is one truth that can never be denyed. It is unassailably true. The truth is, she gave me birth. I am grateful for the gift of life.

The rest is just a story we created to make sense of a relationship that could never be what either of us wanted or believed we needed because neither of us could see the other as the other wanted to be seen.

My mother wanted to seen as a ‘good mother’. I judged her harshly.

She felt my judgements. I felt her disappointment in me.

To grow, to learn, to become, I had to move through my feelings of not being who she wanted to become who I want to be.

I am becoming. Everyday. Me..

And there’s the truth shining bright. My relationship with my mother was exactly the one I needed to become who I am today. It was exactly the one I took to get here now.

I am grateful for the journey.

And that’s the truth.

Thank you Mom!

International Women’s Day 2023

No 25 – #ShePersisted Series

I have tolerated a lot of bad behaviour in my life.

I have had men hit on me with the promise to support my career if I slept with them.

I have had men offer money for sex, because I was standing in a hotel lobby by myself or walking down the street at night.

I have had men ask me to take notes at a meeting, not because that was my role, but because I was a woman.

I have had men ask me to grab them a coffee, again, not because that was my job, but because I was a woman.

And, I have had men tell me crude jokes, or make suggestive comments on the phone, confident they will not be corrected, abraded, or called out.

Sure, it may seem small potatoes in the big picture of the pressing dangers women face all over the world, everyday — Rape, war, violence against women, female genitalia disfiguration and so many other inhumane practices that do not serve our humanity well.

But, gender-based biases, where I allow bad behaviour to be the norm, or laugh them off with a wave of my prettily manicured hand and shrug as if to say, “Oh well. Boys will be boys,” does not change anything.

Boys will be boys and they deserve so much more than being the target of women’s ire and disdain.  Or being boys who hurt women.

It was Gandhi who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” Yet, even he could not escape the more carnal elements of his human nature. In his own letters, he wrote of his ‘experiments’ of sleeping naked with young women in his bed to test his resolve of chastity and promote the celibate life as the path to peace.  (Source) He gave little thought to the impact of his actions on the mental health of his young female companions.

We can’t just BE the change we want to see in the world. We must ensure the changes we make change us for the better. And, that they are good for everyone. Not just the one.

Change doesn’t just depend on our doing the small things and the big things to create better, it means being ‘the better’ we want to see in the world.

Let’s begin changing ourselves so that in those changes, we change our world. Because when I change, my whole world changes around me — let my changes create better for everyone.



INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY (IWD) (March 8) is an important day to celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural & political achievements + call for gender equality

This year’s IWD theme is – “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” highlighting gender gaps in STEM education and careers — and calling attention to the online harassment many women face.

International Women’s Day is also a reminder of the long road ahead. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned Monday that women’s rights are being “abused, threatened and violated” around the world and gender equality won’t be achieved for 300 years without urgent action. 

#EmbraceEquity #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2023 #women #standupbestrongbebold #ShePersisted #ShePersistedSeries

Tomorrow’s Promise ( a Poem)

Tomorrow's Promise
by Louise Gallagher

Mellow evening light
orb of sunlight
the horizon
hide behind naked trees’
lacelike branches 
all who travel
its snow-covered paths

Walking silently
in nature’s garden
I breathe in the beauty
of winter’s
frosty breath
with the heat
of a long kiss 
fending off
an inevitable farewell
opening to the possibility of
spring’s promised unfurling.

I cannot change the seasons
I can only walk in nature’s beauty
savouring the light
through each day
like a river
carrying the promise
of new tomorrows.

Love Never Grows Old

For Valentine’s Day, my beloved and I went to a movie. My Sailor. My Love.

Set along the rugged shores of Ireland’s stunning coastline, it follows the tale of widower, Howard Grimes, falling in love with, Annie, the woman his daughter hires to keep house for him.

It begins with an apology and ends with acceptance. And through it all, love shimmers in the beauty of the scenery, the sparse dialogue, the interactions between the three main characters, Howard, his daughter Grace and Annie, as well as everyone in the theatre and online watching. We all felt Love’s presence.

No matter if the actors were embodying the confusion, hurt, anger, fear, sadness, loss of their character, Love was there.

At the end, when I was wrapping up the event (I was the host. I’m a board member of THIRD ACTion Film Fest and we put on monthly screenings of films that illuminate issues and stories of aging and one of us always hosts) I told the audience that one of the things that really rang true for me in the film was that, Love Never Grows Old. Not physically. Not spiritually. Not intangible or tangibly. Love Never Grows Old.

There is always space, and time, for Love to play a role, hopefully, a leading one, in our lives.

Whether we are feeling happy, elated, joyful, or confused, hurt, angry, scared, sad, or lonely, Love is always there. To know it, we only have to accept it is there and forgive ourselves and others for the things we’ve done that were unloving.

As the final credits rolled last night, the movie of my life that likes to play in my mind when my soul is stirred and my heart beats wild and fierce, rewound itself to a point in time where my mother, sisters, my daughters and I were at my brother and his wife’s memorial service.

As I told my daughters, who at the time had just slipped over the cusp of their single-digit years and were confused by some of the family drama that enshrouded the passing of their uncle and aunt, “When someone leaves this world there is only one thing they can leave behind. Love. It is what brings each of us into this world and what carries us over the threshold to whatever lies beyond this life.Love is eternal.”

My Sailor. My Love. reminded me to keep diving deep into LOVE. It never grows old. It is, from the beginning to the end of life, always present.

No matter our accumulation of money, possessions, degrees, homes, cars, accolades, no matter how high up the career ladder we climb, how many times we’ve fallen, felt broken, discouraged or lost, it is always Love, in its many wondrous facets and manifestations, that carries us through.


I want to grow old as if aging is as exciting at 70 as it was at five

Some say age is irrelevant. Some say it’s everything. Some, that getting older is hard. Others, that it’s not for the weak of heart, spirit, or mind.

I say, age, and aging, are what we make of it.

We can’t not age. Our bodies change and grow older with every passing day. And while we can’t stop the aging process, we can cultivate a young-at-heart state of mind no matter our age. We can consciously choose to remain spirited, open-minded, and mindful of how we see ourselves at every age, because, no matter how old we get, we always have the power to choose to not make our age the measure of our journey, but rather make our journey the measure of how we live our age.

I want to be as excited and enthusiastic about getting older as my grandson approaching his fifth birthday, counting each sleep left before the ‘big day’. I want to treat every day as the best day to be alive because reaching five, or whatever age I achieve, is the best age to be in this moment, right now.

I want to fill each day with memories to cherish and possibilities to fulfill. To stuff all the things that make my heart dance into each moment, unfettered by worry and confusion about what it means to be turning 70, or 80 or any other age I claim as mine. I want to dance wild of heart, living every day as if the question, “How shall I best live this day” is the only question I need to live into, every day.

I don’t want to feel like I’m crawling towards some finish line looming ominously like a dark cloud hanging low upon a not-so-distant horizon. I want to invite Lady Death to be my welcome companion. To run with her through fields of wildflowers blowing in the wind, to stand in silent companionship under a warm spring sun and feel its warmth on our upturned faces as we soak in the glorious nature of this day. I want to know that Lady Death is not lurking in the shadows waiting for some, indecipherable to me, signal that says, “Time’s Up!” but is dancing with me in the rain, catching raindrops on our tongues and splashing barefoot in mud puddles, arms wide open as we spin and leap with abandon. I want her to be my best friend. The one who comes and sits with me when I am scared of what comes next, encouraging me to stand up and live unafraid of whatever does come next.

I want to live as if dying is not the end of living, just the end of life as I know it. That, in living this life the best I can, I can trust Lady Death to take care of whatever glorious mystery lies beyond it, in its own time that doesn’t matter to me.

I want to live wild, free, and magnificently alive right to my last breath no matter how my body carries me across death’s threshold. A threshold I am confident will arrive in its own sweet time, saving me from having to discover whether or not I had a ‘best before date’.

Because I know, deep within my body, that I don’t have a ‘best before date’. I only have dates with my best days ever, days, not to be used up, but used to the fullest of my ability, no matter my age.

I don’t want to be used up by life. I want to use up life bite by scrumptious bite, savouring every morsel of life as if it’s some delicious meal inviting me to consume it to the very last delectable drop.

I want to live this life as if it’s the only life I have to live because it truly is the best life I’ll ever have and celebrating my birth date with as much enthusiasm as my five-year-old grandson celebrates his, is the best way to say as I blow out all 70 of my candles (and however many more are yet to come), “Thank you for this amazing, magnificent, glorious life. It is the best gift I’ve ever received. And my wish is on this day and every day, I use it well every day of my life.


Dancing Wild at Heart

Over at Gratitude Mojo today, doyen, Joyce Whycoff, shares a series of questions to promote introspection and writing.


I almost felt my mind getting lost in the pure glee of skipping amidst the questions, flinging its metaphoric arms wide-open to the possibilities each question represents.

Some of the questions are posed by authors such as John O’Donoghue, Byron Katie, James Cleer, others by Joyce herself.

All of them spark the light of wonder and awe of our human condition.

My skipping mind wants to answer every question right now.

And then, I remember Rilke’s advice to ‘live the questions.’

So, to safeguard myself from diving headfirst into mayhem, I have decided to pose one question a day from Joyce’s list for me to explore – either here on my blog, or in my journal. To ‘live the question’ within by writing my heart out.

The question I’ve chosen today, which I will explore in my journal more completely, is from Gabrielle Roth. Her question immediately jumped out at me as I have held onto her book, “Dance of Ecstasy” for many, many years. Gabrielle Roth’s ‘5Rhythms‘ movement/meditation practice was part of my practice for many, many years. In the 90s I took a facilitators course and lead workshops, attended a weekly session with others and lost myself in ‘the dance of life’ finding me where ever I was on the floor, in the room, within and without. Occasionally, I still engage with it.

And that’s where my exploration of her question begins with the first sentence in her quote from Joyce’s list.

When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?” — Gabrielle Roth

As I am off early tomorrow morning to spend blissful time with my daughter and her family (and a whole lot of dancing with my grandchildren!), I shall mostly be writing in my journal.

But, my intent is to live that question deeply. To explore what stands in front of me, and behind me, holding me back from dancing with the thrum of heart calling me to let go and just BE. Wild. Free. Untethered. Unfettered. WILD at HEART. ME.

I do hope you go explore Joyce’s question list. Perhaps I’ll see you on the page sharing your thoughts too! That would be so sublime.


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?

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.