Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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It’s Never Too Late to Begin

As I continue to explore the question:  “What do women of a ‘certain’ age want?” I am discovering just how important continuous learning, experimenting and experiencing is to living life fully and joyfully.

Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 76 when severe arthritis made it impossible for her to  cook and sew, pick berries, make preserves, all things she loved to do. Rather than fall into the ennui of doing nothing, she took up painting and, in 1949, at the age of 88 received the Women’s National Press Club Award for “The most outstanding contributor to contemporary thought and achievement.”

It’s never too late to begin.

What if you could begin to live the life you dream of, today?

What if you decided the life you always wanted wasn’t about the things you acquired, like titles and cars and houses and trophies or accomplishments but rather, about being the person you’ve always wanted to be, stepping into doing the things you fear but always dreamt of doing?

Tomorrow morning, I am stepping into the Choices Seminar room for five days of delving into the Be. Do. Have of living life on the other side of my comfort zone.

For five days I shall be immersed in ‘heartspeak’, listening deeply to the dreams and fears, hopes and possibilities of people willing to explore the ‘better’ of what is possible if they choose to let go of believing it’s not. There’s always a reason why we fight against ‘the more’ and the better of what we want in our lives. Beliefs that leave us giving up on ourselves becuase we buy into the notion there’s not much sense in trying to change, because… there’s always a because… “I’ve tried to change, I can’t.” “Why bother?” ‘This is as good as it gets.” “Nobody cares anyway.” “What’s the point?” “I’m just not good at anything else.” “My dreams don’t count.”….

In the Choices Seminar room, people walk in with lives in every state of existence. From working okay to not working at all, from just hanging on to completely checked out. They step into the room carrying their pasts, their pain, their fears, their dreams and limiting beliefs. Some have chips on their shoulders, some, weights on their feet. Some carry arrogance like a shield while others carry their pain like a security blanket. And some come carrying nothing but curiousity because someone they care about has asked them to explore the possibilities, or, they’ve tried everything else, why not prove there is no hope?

No matter their state of being, or reason for being in the room, there is always something in that room that awakens their heart’s desire for the better possibilities of life. Something that says to their heart it’s okay to step into life beyond the boundaries of the comfort zone they’ve grown so familiar with, the pain that feels so protective, the fear that feels so comforting, the beliefs that feel so safe.

I feel so blessed. Sixteen years ago, when I walked into the seminar room, I had no idea what was in store. A friend had asked me to go and I wanted to express my gratitude for all she’d done for me.

I walked in with my attitude, ‘I alreay know it all’ as a shield. I used my arrogance as a barrier. My ‘I’ve done all this work already’ as an excuse not to let my true feelings show. I believed letting people see I ‘felt’ anything other than happines was risky. I believed people were out to get me, that inevitably, being vulnerable would only lead to people hurting me.

Sixteen years later, I can look back at the woman who was on the surface very put together and embrace her fragility and her fears, and love her for having had the courage to risk stepping into somewhere she didn’t think she needed to go anymore. Herself.

How mistaken I was to believe I knew everything there was to know about myself. I am still learning. Still exploring what it means to be me, at any age, any stage of my life.

What a wonderful and miraculous journey.

I am stepping into the Choices Seminar room tomorrow. I am grateful.

Perhaps one day I’ll see you there and we can shine our light togehter to create an even brighter, more loving world.

Because the dream I have for what I want to create more of in this world is Compassion. Joy. Creativity. Love. – and it takes a world of people believing better is possible to make it happen.

____________________

Thank you to those who have commented, emailed, phoned to share their thoughts on what women of this certain age do and do not want. Your wisdom and courage is inspiring.  (and it’s not to late to include your voice!) Namaste

 

 

 


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You are needed in this world.

Yesterday, I had the gift of lunch with my beautiful friend Kerry in her backyard sanctuary. After 3 hours of chatting, savouring time together and sharing the delicious meal she’d created, I realized I’d better get running as our two daughters, as well as my sister and her husband and my daughter’s partner, were coming for dinner.

The plan had been to sit out on the deck for appetizers and cocktails but the weather had a different idea in mind. In fact, right after the two girls and TW stepped through the front door, the heavens opened up and rain poured down followed by a brilliant thunder and lightening storm streaking across the sky.

Needless to say, we made indoor plans.

And that’s the thing about the weather. It will always do what it wants. Thinking you can control it, or even being disappointed in its seeming disregard of your plans is futile. With the weather, and with life, you need to be prepared for the unexpected. You also need to be prepared to change your plans when the weather does what it wants.

Like life.

You can plan all you want, but life takes its own course. The secret to happiness, joy, and contentment is to be willing to embrace what life brings with grace and ease, while always remaining true to your path and yourself, without apology.

On this beautiful day, may we each celebrate who we are in this world and all that we bring to make it a more loving, kind, creative and grace-filled place. May we each stay true to our values and beliefs, and unasbashedly embrace all that we are when we walk in the integrity of being our authentic selves.

Namaste.

 

 


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Evenings are made for wondering and wandering

Evening light on the Bow

11 hours in and I am making progress. The storage area is starting to look organized… and I can find my art supplies! All of them.

Which is why, after spending 6 hours yesterday moving and dragging, unpacking and sorting, I decided it was time for a creative break.

One of my favourite things to do is to make nametags for our guests. One friend (I won’t tell it’s you Al) likes to tease me and bring his own now, just in case I forget his. Which I accidentally did once — not forget it but it got misplaced and somehow I didn’t notice!

My nametags have become part of the evening.

So, given I could find a bunch of my supplies and I wanted to make tags for Saturday night’s dinner, I delved into creativity and spent the evening painting and cutting and mounting and outlining tags for everyone.

In the process, I felt my heart fill up, my senses enliven and my being become enfused with the joy of finding myself exactly where I belong — immersed in creativity.

And when I was done, Beau and I walked up the hill to the path that follows the river and watched the sunset to the west and the waters flow eastward.

A bend in the river

Long shadows. Soft light. Gentle breeze.

An evening for dreaming and scheming, connecting with the muse and delving into what stirs my spirit with its capacity to create beauty and richness in my world.

The Hextall Bridge

Time in the studio. Time immersed in creativity. Time in nature. Time in preparation for an evening with friends and my beloved.

And again I embrace the truth of my life, I am so blessed.

 


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Morning Sunshine!

Morning light streams in through my kitchen window, a summer breeze chatters in the trees, the river flows and I am awakened.

Some mornings are made for dancing. Soul Dancing. Heart Thumping. Blood Flowing.

I dance.

I feel the freshness of the morning air upon my face. I sense the rhythm of the music in my soul.

I move slowly. Gracefully. Gently.

I move faster now. My limbs stretching out, and out, I reach for the sky. I touch the earth.

This morning, the sun arose and I rose with it, my entire being infused iwth the pure joy of being alive. Of life. Of this moment, right now.

I embraced movement meditation. I let the music lead my body, stir my heart and soul. I let the notes pour into me and felt my blood flowing steadily, like the river outside my window. Flowing endlessly to the sea, into the ocean of life that is my life, that is as important within our shared universe as your life is to its natural rhythm, rhyme and reason.

I embraced my life this morning through movement meditation and then…

I made my latte. Admired the sun on the kitchen counter. Listened to the wind in the trees, the birds chirping, the river flowing, the traffic moving across the bridge.

All is well with my soul.

.


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The beauty of daily routine

I like the familiar. The well-worn path. The knowing of what to do next, of what is coming next, of what is on my path.

Which is why I like my morning routine.

From Where I Sit

I awaken (later than I used to which is getting to be quite lovely). I pet Beaumont for awhile (it’s hard not to, he jumps up on the bed as soon as he hears me move and lays on my stomach). I get up. Take him out for a short wander. Sit in the quiet of the morning. Meditate. Make a latte. Sit down at my computer and begin to write.

Some mornings, like today, I take a couple of photos of my world. Sometimes, it’s because I think they may go with what I write. Sometimes, it’s just because.

I’m okay with it all.

In the presence of my morning rituals, I find my pace, my rhythm, myself.

This morning, I am adding back a step in my morning ritual that I had begun before I left for the west Coast — writing my 3 pages.

I left my 3 pages journal at my daughter’s — I’d intended to keep up the practice while I was away but found myself diving headfirst into my days as my grandson rises early and I love the early morning hours with him — and the morning hours are my preferred writing time.

And the river flows

Though, with my arising time getting later, that may change too. Perhaps it is in my “Sage-ing” time is becoming less the measurement of how I spend my days.

I am also falling in love with the word and concept of “Sage-ing”. Yesterday, I signed up for an online course with Spirituality and Practice — Infusing Your Life with Creativity. The course is presented by two Elders of Sage-ing International and while my life is fairly infused with creativity, the reminder to slow down, to consciously move through my day with a creative frame is important. Plus, I love to learn new things and there’s always something to learn about being a creative and its many joys.

Which all means, I’ll be adding the coursework to my morning routine. What fun!

And today, I begin the process of clearing out the back room where all my art supplies and paraphenalia are stored, in ernest. Not a small task but cloudy skies and a keen desire to create order and make space for renewed creativity and unknown possibilities are spurring me on.

As I cleanse and clear, unpack and sort, I shall carry with me the word that I pulled from my Shell of Plenty which sits on my desk, “Joy.”

To do all things with a Joyful Heart is a beautiful gift I bestow upon myself today.

May you find joy in all things today as well.

Namaste.


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Home again. Home again.

I am home.

We left Gabriola Island on the 10:05 ferry Saturday morning and began the journey back. We had intended to wend our way through the Okanagon but grey skies, rain and C.C.’s Interclub golf game Monday afternoon gave us pause to reconsider.

We drove through in 2 days.

I am grateful we did.

I am ready for home. Ready for routine. Ready to settle in and ease into for this next phase of my life.

As we drove my mind wandered to thoughts of ‘the future’. What does it look like? What will I do? What’s in store?

It is inevitable that my mind does that. Leap into future planning, future vistas.

Home isn’t just a place to be. It’s the place where I live my life, day by day, moment by moment.

I like structure. I like knowing what I’m doing, what’s ‘supposed to be’ happening next. And while I am still committed to my ‘unplanned’ summer, I feel the urge within calling me to look into out there, on that distant horizon for ‘what happens next’.

I am resisting its call and looking within instead.

Peering deeply into myself to feel the ebb and flow of creativity as it crashes into the shores of my desire to be present with all that is when I stop pushing and pulling and trying to make ‘what is’ into something I want it to be.

For now, I shall be spending time preparing my workspace. Clearing out clutter. Setting up my studio to be a space that infuses each day with creative spark and inspired curiousity.

There’s a fair amount of ‘grunt work’ to be done.

Since moving into this house a year ago, I have not tackled the back storage room where all my boxes of art supplies were loaded in by the movers.

On the road as we drove…

There is no rhyme or reason to the placement of the room’s contents. And, because the move out from our old home was so fast (the sale included a 14 day possession date), a lot of my supplies were simply loaded into boxes without a plan. The movers didn’t label what they were packing so now I go on the adventure of discovering what is there. What is needed, and what is not.

I’m excited!  Stampede is on and I don’t have to dress-up and play cowgirl. I get to revel here at home as I create my ideal studio space in which to paint and draw, write and contemplate, create and grow.

Yahoo!  I may not be out kicking up my heels, dancing to a two-step, but I shall be dancing with the muse as I unpack and explore what happens next in my studio space.

_________________________

And…. I created a video of C.C. and my stay on Gabriola. It was a delightful time!


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What do women (of a certain age) want?

I am female. I am a baby-boomer. I am a senior. Which, according to current vernacular places me somewhere in the vicinity of ‘a woman of a certain age’, a term coined by a British essayist way back in 1754 and later immortalized by poet Lord Shelly Byron who wrote in 1817, “She was not old, nor young, nor at the years/Which certain people call a certain age,/Which yet the most uncertain age appears.” In 1822, he clarified his reference to women of “a certain age”, by crudely stating that women of a certain age were, “certainly aged.”

Lord Byron aside, recently, as I prepared to retire from a career I loved to engage in this new field of possibility called, life after a career, I began to wonder, what does it mean to be a woman of this certain age? What do I really want now that it feels like nobody really wants me?

After decades of chasing after the dream of ‘having it all’, I was tired of always trying to be everything to everyone. Of feeling like I had to do more, especially as I was never sure of what the ‘more’ was. I had raised two daughters, mostly on my own, and was a step-mother to two adult children as well. I’m still all of these things, but, along with being a wife, a new grandmother (or YiaYa as I’m called because I’m cutting back on the No’s in my life so NoNa or NoNo didn’t work!) daughter of an octogenarian and a recent passing over the threshold into what society calls, ‘being a senior’ I was tired. Tired of the constant drive to find myself in a world that told me who I was, as a ‘woman of a certain age’, was old and possibly no longer relevant.

And that’s when I began to wonder, what if I was never lost? What if, at this certain age, I have the luxury of simply being me without feeling pressured to be anyone, or anything, else?

Which is when the panic set in. Having spent decades being defined by not just the fashion I wore but also what I did in the world and how much I gave to others, I wasn’t sure I knew how to step out of my designer heels and give to myself what I needed most. Especially when I wasn’t quite sure what it was I needed the most.

The question, “What is it I want most at this certain age?” became my rallying cry to discover the more of what there is to create, do, be after tipping over into the other side of the second half of my life. That place where I am learning to value the wisdom I’ve gained after so many years on this earth, without fearing ‘the younger generation’ has all the answers. They’ve got their answers but they don’t have mine. And mine are worth their weight in gold.

At this certain age, I am settling into accepting aches and pains and crêpe-like skin as part of my beauty, not detractors from my desirability. I am learning to slow down with grace, including remembering to not bend over too quickly to pick up the earring I dropped because if I go too quickly, I might just pass out.

And I am learning to accept (with grace) the answer to my question, “What is it I want most at  this certain age?” is not a sprint to the finish line of my life, but rather, a beautiful wandering journey through fields of gold along the shores of golden ponds and verdant valleys.

I am a woman of this certain age where I have the wisdom, and the experience, to know how to live life on my own terms. I know how to fearlessly and effortlessly fall in love with being old enough to know when to slow down and young enough to want to kick up my heels and dance naked in the light of a full moon, because at this certain age, I am certain nobody’s watching but me. And I if I am the only one watching me, then I am certainly not going to worry about what other’s think of me. Which means, I have all the freedom in the world to grow more certain of who I am as a woman of this certain age.

So… as I continue to explore what I want most at this certain age, I have an invitation for you. If you relate in any way, or are asking yourself similar questions, I’d love to know what you want most at this certain age. And what you don’t want.

For me, the list includes wanting to feel like my life has had meaning and relevancy. Like there is still –more’ and the more is not prescribed by what I’ve done in the past, but rather, how much I still have to contribute.

I want to feel like it’s okay to grow older without fearing being old.

I want to know my wisdom matters. That I am heard, seen known for my grace, elegance and style, not just the clothes I wear and the title I no longer carry.

I want to be okay with being silly, just because, and I want to be ‘nothing’ other than who I am.

I want to let go of feeling like I have to explain or defend my decisions.

And I want to be okay with the past and its many ambiguities so that I am at peace today, with me, the world around me and everyone in it.

I want to make peace happen.

What about you?

What’s on your list?

I’d love to hear from you. If you don’t feel like posting here, an email would be great too! You can reach me at louise [at] louisegallagher.ca.

Namaste.