Bird in Nest. Do Not Disturb.

The view from our bedroom window

She sits, still and enigmatic as a full moon glowing in the dark. Patiently, she waits for nature to take its course.

I watch, constantly peeking through the slats in the blinds at the kitchen window I never drew, until she arrived. Impatient for nature to take its course.

Her nest is an architectural marvel. Securely fashioned into the wire rungs of the spring wreath I hung on our front door to welcome guests.

She is the most welcome guest. As are her two blue eggs nestled into the nest she crafted of moss and leaves and twigs and forest debris.

The front door is off limits now. Guests are invited to enter through our garage door, into the laundry room, down the hall to the main room. (I really must get that basket of clean laundry put away!)

I’ve hung a sign on a rope strung from the handle of a large lantern that sits on the far corner of our front doorsteps to the planter that sits at the edge of the walkway beside the stairs leading down to the backyard deck. “Bird in Nest. Do not disturb. Thank you!”

I wonder if she realizes the sacrifices we’ve made to give her peace. I smile at my use of the word ‘sacrifice’. It is anything but. She feels like a gift from Mother Nature. As I said to my beloved last night after my final peek through the blinds to ensure she was settled in for the night, “I’m so glad she thinks our home is safe for her to nest here.”

It is the third year we’ve had a robin use our home as its nesting site. The other two were tucked into the rafters above the bottom deck. They were easy prey for the magpies and crows who frequent the neighbourhood too.

This nest is easy for me to help protect from predators. I watch incessantly for marauding crows or magpies on the hunt. The minute I see one, or hear the squawking of the robin and her mate, I race to the window, adding my voice to the cacophony.

I think the crows and magpies are terrified of this woman on the other side of the glass who flaps her arms and screams loudly, ‘Get Away!’.

I hope so.

There’s lots for them to eat in the band of forest that separates our yard from the river behind our home. They don’t need to poach eggs from our guest.

I do not know if there are more than the two eggs in her nest now. I only risked the one photo as I didn’t want to disturb her nest building. As robins lay one egg a day, it’s possible she laid a couple more eggs before she settled in to incubate her hatch.

I don’t know how much longer she will be resident at our front door. It could be three or four weeks. What I do know is that C.C. and I are agreed. The door is hers until she and her fledglings take flight.

It’s nature’s way of reminding us to slow down. Be still. Be patient. And above all, be caring of all creatures, big and small.

In the meantime, I shall do my best to not keep peeking through the slats of the blinds I’ve drawn to give her privacy and to help her feel safe.

See Mother Nature. I am learning from you how to be present in this moment right now, connected to all of your creation around me.

Namaste

Saturday Share

I like to begin my morning with meditation.

It’s good for my world, my body – heart. soul. mind. belly. All of it and all of me and all of the world around me.

Yet, for the past while, I have been scattered in my approach to doing that which I know is good for me. Resistant to sitting in the quiet letting the disquiet within me become seen, known, heard, visible so that in its presence I could become present to it all, and so much more.

This morning, while responding to comments on yesterday’s blog, the lovely JoAnne, of JoAnne’s Rambling blog commented that she is so blessed.

Which inspired me to share the link to the wondrous Kerry Parson‘s collaboration with singer/songwriter, Amy Wood, We Are So Blessed, which brought me back to my meditation mat.

Sitting in the quiet, listening to the soft melodious notes of Amy’s piano, Kerry’s voice, Amy’s song I felt it – my heart’s desire to find its beat amidst the chaos, to find its melody amidst the discomfort, to find its rhythm amidst the unrest.

And, because I like to share things that create beauty, wonder, joy and awe in my life with all of you, I share it here again.

I am Alive. What a Beautiful Gift.

There’s a meme going around social media sites asking readers something like, “If you remember playing outside until the street lights came on, or, If you remember running barefoot in the yard and drinking out of the garden hose, or squishing the orange dot into the margarine that came in a bag…. then you had a great childhood. (or something like that)

We baby-boomers, we like to tell our offspring, had it good. Freedom to play outside without fearing strangers. Freedom to go to the park on our own, play on death-defying carousel thingies with metal bars without fearing we’d puke (’cause that would be so cool anyway!) or chip a tooth on the wooden teeter-totter with the metal handlebar – which I did but nobody seemed phased by the blood running out of my mouth as I ran across the cement to the swings that had metal seats and rusted chains, determined I’d finally be able to pump so hard I went all the way around over the top.

Without a parent or other adult around, there was no one around to tell me to stop — and I definitely wasn’t going to listen to my five years-older-than-me-brother who’d jumped off the teeter-totter while I was midair and precipitated my hard-landing and chipped tooth.

We baby-boomers had it good.

I wonder sometimes, where were our parents? Why did they give us so much freedom?

I don’t believe it wasn’t because they didn’t care, or thought the world was a super-safe place to be. They’d just come through WW2. How could they think that? How could they believe there weren’t dangers out there?

What I’ve come to believe is that they were war-weary. Tired-out from deprivation and rationing, tired-out by fearing would they or their loved ones get through it at all. Tired-out by wondering would it ever end.

And when it did end, they wanted to believe there was nothing to fear and so… they let their offspring, we the baby-boomers, run free as if we had not a care in the world as they continued to do what they’d always done, take care of business.

Busy building families, rebuilding towns and cities, homes and lives, busy trying to bury the past beneath the memories of all they’d seen and lost, they didn’t have time to go to the park or watch our every move or schedule our every second.

They were in survival mode. Mental health, PTSD, Trauma-informed practices weren’t yet a thing. All they could do was keep surviving.

Covid has led me to this awareness.

As the world struggles to open up again and we learn to adjust to living with its presence amongst us like a memory that refuses to fade-away, I am feeling the angst of wanting to let go of caution and run like that childhood me as if I have not a care in the world.

I am feeling the desire to pretend there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Fact is, there is a lot in this world to fear – but…

Fear. Worry. They change nothing and, have an innate ability to grow stronger the more I give into their stealthy presence.

Running barefoot in the grass, lying on my back in the prairie grasses at the top of a hill, arms and legs spread wide simply to feel the sun and earth bathe me in glorious warmth. Singing my heart out amidst the trees or standing outside the grocery store singing a made-up song into the phone to my granddaughter simply to hear her laugh and not caring who hears. Throwing and smashing eggs on the rocks beneath the bridge as a train goes rumbling overhead and screaming at the top of my lungs…. now those things do change everything.

Because, in those things I am reminded, I am alive.

And isn’t that a beautiful gift.

And So I Do

Silently, like a fir tree shaking off falling snow, I shed winter’s cloak and open my arms to spring’s warm embrace.

Breathing deep, I rejoice in longer days and the warmth of the sun falling upon my skin.

You are welcome here I whisper to the buds beginning to burst from the outstretched limbs of the trees dancing, still naked, in the sun. Fingers soft and gentle, I caress the fragile growth opening itself up to nature’s calling and smile joyfully in the connection. Here I am, I whisper. I see you. And the buds dance in delicate response to the spring air’s urging them to grow wild.

Life blossoms with its abundance.

I dance in gratitude.

Such a beautiful gift this life. This presence. These spring buds popping. The geese flying overhead. The grasses turning green. The river running free.

All of it, a gift.

Dance, Mother Nature calls. Dance.

And so I do.

And So I Do
©2022 Louise Gallagher

I feel the spring
air fresh
against my skin
calling me
to cast off
winter’s dark soul
filled journey
into the night
and rejoice
in the sun
drawing the days
out into the light.

I feel life
calling me
to dance.

And so I do.

L’Chaim! To Life!

Last night, as my beloved and I lay in bed reading, he suddenly asked, “Do you know what day tomorrow is?”

“Monday?” I glibly replied.

“Our anniversary,” he clarified with a laugh.

Well my goodness! Seriously?

Neither of us had noted the date.

For C.C., it’s partially because of being immersed in pulling together financing on a business deal. He gets consumed.

For me… well recent events have taken up a great deal of my mindspace. I just hadn’t realized how much until C.C. reminded me of the significance of this date.

As many who read here regularly know, C.C. was in hospital with pneumonia for 10 days at the beginning of the year.

His recovery has been slowed by the presence of COPD in his lungs which makes his breathing laboured. My thoughts have been consumed with making sure COVID doesn’t impede his recovery.

And then, a month ago, while I was in Vancouver, he fell and fractured three ribs. “They’re only bruised,” he told me. “No need to come home. I’ll be fine.”

Sisters surrounded by sisters

Fortunately, my youngest daughter was able to care for Beaumont as he tried to heal and my sister Jackie kept him supplied with food while I was away! It wasn’t until two days before my return that he went for an X-ray and discovered his ribs weren’t bruised but fractured — no wonder moving was almost impossible. All of which has made his breathing even more laboured.

Colour me worried, ’cause I am.

Worried he’ll catch COVID. Worried his breathing will not improve. Worried…

Charlie’s Angels

Add the passing of my dear friend Andrew and I’m hoping you get the picture… my mind is not a calm and clear view of distant horizons and shimmering seas of peaceful waters capable of holding thoughts of health and well-being and death and living alongside dates of note.

The fact is… I have been feeling overwhelmed by it all. Not just these recent events but the whole landscape of this world where war and disease and climate events march in seemingly unending waves of turbulent thoughts engulfing my peace of mind.

It’s time to find my centre, my middle ground as Val Boyko calls it. It’s time to breathe into the chaos and worry to remind myself of that which is always present, always the answer… LOVE

Tolstoy wrote, “Love is life.  All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.”

On this, our 7th Wedding Anniversary, I choose to consciously release worry and fear, sadness and sorrow, to celebrate all that makes my life so rich and vibrant, all that creates such beautiful meaning and joy in everyday.

Our love. Our commitment. Our union. Our marriage.

I can’t change the course of war or disease. I am not powerful enough to cure or heal all the woes of the world.

What I have the power to do is to ensure my own world is filled with all that creates better in this world. Beauty. Art. Joy. Compassion. LOVE.

Today, I celebrate US as I surrender all fear and fall with grace into the eternal source of it all… LOVE.

l’chaim! to LIFE!

What if I try… and don’t fail?

At a popular restaurant, a young man with Down’s Syndrome has an important lesson to teach.

Several years ago, he wanted to find a job. He asked an agency that supports people with barriers to help him.

And they did.

His career advisor helped him write his resume, develop and practice his interviewing skills, worked with him on improving his ability to handle human interactions, change and conflict in particular.

The agency also works with employers on diversity hiring and best practices in accomodating special needs and had a roster of opportunities for him to apply to.

After several months, the young man went for an interview and got a job as a dishwasher in a busy restaurant kitchen.

His career advisor stayed connected, helped him adapt to a busy workplace and worked with the employer to develop their comfort in working with the young man’s ‘style’.

After 4 years as a dishwasher, he is a valued member of staff, one of ‘the family’. Well-liked, he is included in all social activities, has made friends and is considered an essential worker, so vital to the organization that even with COVID’s downturn, the organization didn’t lay him off.

One day, the young man announced he wanted to work front-of-house, in particular, the cash register. This is a big move and everyone, including his career advisor who has stayed connected, tries to dissuade him.

“I can do it,” he says. His persistence finally convinces management to give him a chance. They move him to front-of-house as a busyboy. He excels.

After several months, the young man still hasn’t given up on his dream. He wants to work the cashier register and serve customers at the counter.

Several months ago, he got his chance.

He’s a star. Friendly. Always accurate in his work. Steady and solid in his service. Customers love him and the rest of the staff, along with his family and support team and career advisor… They learned a valuable lesson.

Barriers are limitations that haven’t been tested.

Our human minds perceive barriers to be concrete. Immovable. Insurmountable. So why bother testing them?

Everyone involved wanted to protect the young man — taking on such a big challenge left him exposed. “What if you fail?” they asked.

His response, “What if I don’t?”

_________________

Next time you face a new opportunity, experience, barrier, ask yourself… What if it’s not about protecting myself from failure? What if, it’s about giving myself the opportunity to succeed?

What if instead of fearing falling, I chose to believe in my wings?

Namaste

Doing the things we always imagined, and never did.

This month I am doing something I’ve never done before. I’m submitting to a writer’s competition.

The non-fiction piece I’m submitting is about doing something one night I never imagined doing. Ever. It’s also something I’d never do again.

But, the voice of self-empowerment and self-expression within me keeps urging, “Get out there and strut your stuff Louise!”

So that’s what I’m doing, writing about a night I stood on the street, strutting my stuff. Literally.

It’s December 8, the night before my 44th birthday.

After six months of working with a group of street-engaged teens and two vice police officers, I have chosen this night to do the thing I never in my life imagined doing – Stand on the street posing as a prostitute, negotiating with johns for sex.

I recognize my use of nouns is not politically correct in this day and age – but at the time I stood on the street, it was the vernacular.

Anyway, on this particular night, I am terrified. Like, shaking in my boots terrified. Not for me six-inch spikes. I didn’t own any and I doubt that night I could have approached the john’s who stopped to pick me up if I’d been wearing them.

Nope. Rather than spiked heels that also served girls on the street as weapons, I’d pulled out of my closet a pair of cowboy boots I’d painted gold. Calgary chic.

I didn’t need a weapon, anyway. Deep in the shadows further down the street, on either side of me, two police officers in unmarked cars watched over me. My guardian angels.

I was dressed for the night, though I did keep my borrowed fur coat tightly clutched at my neck to hide my scanty outfit. And I wasn’t carrying anything in my hands, not even a tube of bright red lipstick. I was already wearing it, though I soon realized I should have brought it. I was quickly chewing it, along with all the skin, off my lips.

But I’d wanted my hands free – in case I needed to make a run for it (another reason for not wearing spikes) — and I didn’t need the lipstick to write the license plate of john’s cars I got into on a telephone pole as many of the other girls did, in case a date went bad and they didn’t come back. I was not to get into a car. Never. Ever.

It was the hard and fast rule of my two guardian angels. Do Not Get In The Car.

And this is the story I’ve been writing with the intention of entering it into a competition.

I’ve still got twenty days to submit and there’s a part of me that just wants to send it off… right now. Almost as if, the pain of writing out this story is greater than my desire to enter the competition with a story I’ve honed into as close to perfection as I can get it.

I want it over.

Perhaps it’s why I always read the last chapter of a book first.

If I know the outcome I can take my time savouring the story.

Except, the outcome for me isn’t the competition, it’s the ‘getting the story entered’.

If I just send it off now, I won’t have to worry I’ll back out and not send it along or somehow, accidentally (Ha!) miss the deadline.

Which is also why I’m writing about it here. To expose the secret of my insecurities and weaken their grip. Secrets lose their power to do harm when we dare to tell the truth about the fierce beauty of our human condition.

This month I am doing something I’ve never done before — actually, never had the courage to do before… entering a writer’s competition.

I am fascinated by the fact the story I’ve chosen to enter is about something which, before that night, I’d never imagined doing.

And here I am doing something I’ve always imagined doing and never did.

Life is a fascinating journey. Don’t you agree?

____________________________

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Love Will Always Find You

When my daughters were little, I loved to write stories just for them.

One such story was about a lobster named Louis (my father’s name) who liked his shell so much he did not want to have to change. One day he decided to run away thinking that would prevent the inevitable.

As we all know, if it’s inevitable, it can’t be prevented and some things in nature are… our nature.

For Louis, running away resulted in a series of misadventures that almost got him trapped in a lobster cage (it looked safe!) until finally, he fell asleep behind a rock only to awake to discover his shell had deserted him.

Embarrassed by his shell-less body, he dug a hole in the ocean floor and buried himself in the sand.

Of course, in his shell-less/defenseless state, it was the best thing he could do. Looking out at the darkness around him, he discovered another pair of eyes looking back at him — it was a lady lobster named Sue who was also hiding beneath the sand.

The long and short of it… They fell in love with the sound of each other’s voice and the words of comfort they shared (not quite that mushily in the story ’cause Louis was scared and Sue was wise and witty…)

Anyway, what Louis learned is what the story was all about — no matter where you go, or what you do, or how you look, or how deep the hole you’ve dug for yourself…. being yourself is the only way to be, ’cause being yourself is where Love will always find you.

______________________

Louis’ story drifted into my mind in the early morning hours as I lay soaking in the bath, the light of a candle flickering and classical music playing softly in the background.

I’d awoken with a dream in which I was chasing a butterfly through a field of wildflowers and fell over the edge of a cliff to land in a bed of roses.

Just kidding.

I’d awoken at 4 from a dream where I was angry and couldn’t remember about what. As I wasn’t getting back to sleep I decided to have a bath.

It does makes sense that I was thinking about anger. I’d been speaking with someone about anger earlier in the day. They asked me, “How do you get over anger?”

You don’t, I reply. You go through it.

Anger in the moment can be a powerful force for change (as long as we express it appropriately), I said. Anger many years later is a sign of something deeper. Have you considered seeing a therapist?

I’m not broken, they exclaimed.

And that was when it struck me — as a society we sometimes hold a collective view that seeing a therapist is a sign of what is wrong with us.

I disagree.

For me, seeing a therapist is about acknowledging things that aren’t working for me anymore and seeking help to find my way through. It’s about getting right within myself so that I can walk through the world doing the right things to create a better place.

You cannot heal or change what you do not acknowledge.

Therapy is the opportunity to heal those things that no longer work for you.

For years after my brother died, I carried this unsettling anger about his choices and the things he’d done. Holding onto it wasn’t making my world a more peaceful, loving place today. It was holding me stuck in the past.

Anger needs to be released and the best way to do that is to let it flow into the Love that is always there. And sometimes, we need a guide to help us find our path.

Like Louis and Sue who shared the darkness and found their way home to themselves — ’cause that’s where Love will always find us, no matter how far we run.

Namaste.

So much has changed…

Mixed-media collage – 11 x 14 on canvas paper

I love it when I open my laptop on a Monday morning and discover somewhere between getting ready for a dinner party and my early morning scribblings, my keyboard shows remnants of last nights culinary endeavours.

In this case, a couple of drops of herb-infused olive oil and a basil leaf from the Phyllo Tomato pie I made as a first course lay in a solidified puddle at the edge of my mouse pad.

I keep my laptop on the counter when I’m cooking. Long ago, with the advent of online recipes, I mostly stopped using hardcopy. I still love to browse through a lusciously designed cookbook full of artfully lit photographs and mouth-watering recipes. But online is so much more convenient.

I do think though that I may want to keep my laptop a little further away from the action. Though their four-legged brethren might enjoy a basil leaf soaked in garlic, rosemary and thyme-infused olive oil, I don’t think it’s good for mouse-pad’s digestive track.

****

Covid has changed so much.

B.C. (before covid), holding a dinner party was an almost every-weekend event in our home. We both love to entertain and I love to set a beautiful table.

With Covid’s arrival it’s become a much rare and momentous occasion, along with a lot of deliberations about the pros and cons and who’s.

After C.C.’s bout in hospital, a slow recovery and the fact connection is good for his soul, as well as health, we decided to hold a small gathering with two other special couples.

While the enjoyment of setting the table, planning the menu and cooking the meal remains the same, we no longer view a potential guest list through the lens of how many couples should we invite? 4? 6? And we don’t deliberate as much about ‘will this be a good mix of people?’. Now, our deliberations focus on other considerations like, “How big is their bubble?” “Are they vaccinated?”

Even the menu takes Covid into consideration. Shared plates have gone the way of a virus-free world and I’ve had to increase my supply of appetizer plates, small forks and knives (not all that big a hardship. I LUV pretty dishes!) so that everyone gets their own fork and cutting knife for the charcuterie.

Even the welcoming at the door has changed. When guests arrive they most still come baring a bottle of wine or a gift for the house. They also step through the door with the declaration, “We took the test! Negative!”

And hugs? Even with a negative test I’m hesitant.

Perhaps that is the greatest change of all… the constant, worry-riddled inner mind chatter of… “Is it safe?”

And yes, we could forgo all form of entertaining, but somehow, that feels like Covid has won.

Life comes with risks. It’s all in how we measure both the risk and our tolerance along with our need for social connection.

And being with good friends. Laughing and telling stories on one another, sharing a meal around a candlelit table — ah yes. These are the happenings that make life so rich and memories so deep.

We were six for dinner last night. Old friends. Family.

We laughed and giggled. We teased one another as only those who share long histories together do. Some of the stories told were probably repeats from dinner’s past.

And it didn’t matter.

We were gathered around a table savouring the connections we crave so much.

Take that you miserable virus! You may have forced us to change a lot of things in our lives, but the one thing you will never change is the joy we feel when we are all connected.

Namaste.

_____________________

About the artwork

I also spent time in the studio this weekend working on another piece for my #SheDaresBoldly series.

Waaaay too much fun!

And the quote…. may we all never compromise our truth!