A Father’s Legacy

I have always had a deep love for reading. As a child, I was envious of my, next to me in age, older sister who had the privilege of going to school before me. Determined to catch up, I would insist that she teach me to read while she did her homework each night at our kitchen table.

There was something magical about learning how letters formed words that held meaning and joy in making sense out of sentences woven together with those meaningful words.

Many evenings, when my father was home, he would pull out the dictionary and challenge us with the definition of unfamiliar words. As I grew older, my siblings and I would gather with our father around that same kitchen table to play Scrabble, a game that further deepened my love affair with words.

A while ago, after my mother’s passing, I stumbled upon a big tin box of papers she had carefully preserved over the years. Among them, I discovered one of my father’s small black notebooks where he had diligently recorded our Scrabble scores. There, in his scrawling handwriting, I found evidence of my passionate connection with words. My father, who never believed in letting me (or anyone else for that matter) win, inevitably emerged as the victor in every game. However, scattered throughout the notebook, I discovered occasional victories of my own, moments when I had managed to best him.

My father is the root of my love for words and writing. A man of few words himself, he used writing to express the emotions his heart did not know how to speak.

When I moved from Europe to Canada in my early twenties, my father’s letters were the lifeine that connected me to ‘home’. Over the years, he began to shift from letter-writing to recording casette tapes where both he and my mother would chat together as if I was at the table with them. Inevitably, they also shared menus and recipes.

My father’s love of all things culinary is the root of my love of cooking.

Someone mentioned to me the other day that I don’t often write or speak about my relationship with my father.

They’re right.

Challenge is, I didn’t have an answer to the next part of their question, “Why is that?”.

I wasn’t close to my father. I don’t think anyone could be. Some of our lack of closeness may be because for many years, I held my father on a pedestal and it’s hard to be close to anyone when you can only view them from afar. It could also be because the walls around his heart were so high and impenetrable, breaking through (and believe me, I tried a lot) left me feeling like Sisyphus rolling his giant boulder up the hill again and again, never to reach the top.

But here’s the thing, not having an answer doesn’t excuse me from my responsibility to explore that relationship to understand its role in forming who and how I am in this world today.

My father was a complex man. Undoubtedly, our relationship influenced many of my choices in partners. While I always seemed drawn to those who were emotionally distant and strong-willed, they also needed to possess intelligence, generosity, quick-wittedness, and a love for reading. And if they happened to enjoy playing Scrabble and spending time in the kitchen, it was an added bonus!

Our parents play an integral role in who we become and how we see the world and our role in it.

My father taught me to not be afraid to rock the boat. That accepting ‘status quo’ was just another way of settling. He taught me the value of a human being is not because of their skin colour, faith, pedigree or wealth, it’s because they’re the same kind of different as us. He taught me to be welcoming to everyone at the dinner table, and to make room for those who have no other table to sit at.

During our countless walks along the Rhine River on peaceful Sunday mornings, he instilled in me an appreciation for all creatures, both great and small. He helped me see the wonder and awe in nature’s grand displays of bold colors as well as its quiet, leafy beauty. He encouraged me to listen to the melodies of birdsong and discover the rhythm of my own heart amidst the gentle thrum, thrum, thrum of barges gliding along the river.

He taught me the art of baking bread, exploring recipes and new ideas, and the value of curiosity in seeking answers to the countless questions that arise within my mind.

And he taught me how to love life, fiercely.

I was 42 years old when my father died of a massive heart-attack almost almost 28 years ago. It’s time I got to know him better now.


PS. If you are interesting in exploring your relationships with those who played a role in making you who you are today and want support in taking that journey in a safe, loving and courageous space, Discovery Seminars has room at their table for you.

Embracing Imperfection

We live in a beautifully imperfect world. A world full of mystery, wonder and awe-inspiring moments, including, dark and forboding times.

What if, it all belongs?

What if it is our constant struggle to be perfect and to create perfection all around us that causes strife, our lack of connection and belonging in this world?

It’s a not so subtle force, this desire to be perfect and to make the world around us perfect. Its constant yammering to do better, be better, make better of ourselves and everything we create, achieve, buy and do in the world leaves us feeling dissatisfied and sometimes defeated by ourselves. Its constant wailing pounds away at our peace of mind disrupting our ability to be together in peace in the world.

In its strident calling out for justice, in its insistence that ‘this’ or ‘that’ do not belong in the world, in its labelling of human suffering and misdeeds as ‘wrong’, in its endless battling against one foe versus another, it denies the inescapable truth — Imperfections, sorrows, and struggles are threads woven into the tapestry of our shared human journey.

As long as we do not accept each other and our shared journey, the everything we perceive as imperfect will remain as thorns that prick away at the tapestry of our human journey causing knots of discord everywhere.

It is in our acceptance of imperfections that freedom waits. Acceptance should not be mistaken for resignation or passivity. It does not imply giving up on striving for change, justice, and truth. Instead, acceptance allows us to relinquish the habit of railing against perceived injustices and embrace the imperfect nature of our existence. By understanding that imperfections are an integral part of being human, we foster a sense of belonging and unity in our ability to work together in our shared imperfections.

For me, my quest for perfection often leaves me exhausted. In my journey, I’ve gathered together a tool-kit full of ways to quieten my need for perfection–meditation, exercise, dance, creative endeavours, being in nature. Yet still, there are times I refuse to do the things I know calm and heal me. Still, my quest for perfection raises its persistent voice whenever I fall into the belief that I am separate from the world around me or that the world around me is separate from me by our differences..

The desire for perfection keeps us separate from one another,. Those whom we deem ‘different’, the things we deem unwanted, become the barriers to the things we want most as human beings — a sense of belonging, that we fit in, that we are loved and needed on this journey. In that separation, we arm ourselves against our fears of the other, and lose our belief in our power to affect postiive change, together.

Love is perfect and when I when I choose to stand, strong of back, soft of heart, and lay down my arms full of discord and open them instead to Love, I find myself in a more peaceful, loving world.

When I choose to focus on changing the things I can with loving-kindness, my ripple becomes part of our collective power to change the world for everyone.

Our world is full of imperfectios amidst its perfect beauty. When we let go of criticizing, compaining and condemning the things we do not understand, or judge too harshly, we pave the way for perfect Love, together.

What about you?  Are you holding onto your perfect armor, hoping it will protect you from life’s imperfections? Are you holding yourself separate from all the world’s perfectly imperfect beauty?

I am not broken (a poem)

I wrote this poem some time ago and am sharing it spoke to me again this morning as I was looking at all that has happened in the election we’ve just endured here in Alberta — the outcome of which wa not to my best liking– but, as I said to my beloved, “The people have spoken. At least this time, she was elected by a majority of Albertans, not just a select few.”

And I am reminded of the words of Rev. Gary Pattison who said, the Sunday after Trump was elected as President of our neighbours to the south, “We must stand, strong of back, soft of front.”

We must listen to understand. Hear without judgement and Be tolderant and Create common ground where ever we go.

Our system isn’t broken — but when we let divisiveness separate us, we create broken spaces.


by Louise Gallagher

I am not broken
though I do have cracks

I am not cracked
though I do have wounds

I am not wounded
though I do have scars

I am not scarred
though I do have cuts

I am not
my breaks
or cracks
or wounds
or scars
I am not my cuts.

I am beautiful.
of incomparable
broken places 
into wisdom 
scars strengthening
cuts that cut deep
to forge 
beauty from
the ashes
of the places
that have shaped 

I am not broken.
I am.

I am woman.
I am me. 

In The Flow

It’s called being in the flow. It’s that magical state where time loses its grip on you, and you find yourself completely absorbed in whatever you’re doing.

I’ve been experiencing it a lot lately.

As I delved into research and worked on my book, I became fully immersed. Every fiber of my being was engaged.

At first, I attempted to listen to a podcast as I often do while creating an art piece. It turned out to be a misguided idea. When I write, I need to let the words flow, and having someone else’s voice in my ears distracts a part of my brain, draws my attention away from being present to the creative process..

The same goes for music. When I’m in the studio, adding splashes of color and texture to a canvas, I adore listening to songs with lyrics. They ignite my desire to dance and sing along. My splashes of paint become more free, more expressive. But when it comes to writing, the fewer words, the better.

Classical music and new age compositions work wonders for me. The only exception I make for music with lyrics while writing is the recordings of 13th Century composer and convent Abbess Hildegard von Bingen. Her music stirs my imagination and liberates my writer’s mind from any creative blocks.

Her melodic chants soothe my soul.

Entering the flow-state is a powerful experience. It enriches my being, causing time to fade away. All that matters is the present moment, the only place where I want to exist.

In that realm, magic happens. Wonders unfold, and I am awestruck by the mystery of it all.

Ah, the mystery. It weaves through life, creative pursuits, and the words that appear on the page seemingly of their own accord. As I sit here, fingers dancing across the keyboard, focused on my one task, I lose track of time and space, surrendering to the flow.

That’s the beauty of the flow-state. When I am immersed, my soul dances. My spirits soar. Ideas appear as if of their own volition as words flow out to express themselves without my thought-ridden ministrations hindering their appearance.

Now, my bathroom… well, let’s just say it is suffering from my lack of attention. It’s a disaster zone!

Okay, perhaps it’s not that terrible, but you get my drift…

When was the last time you slipped effortless into ‘the zone’?

When was the last time you granted yourself the gift of immersing in something you’re passionate about, allowing your creative nature to flow freely as you mind (and body) dance with abandon in the pure joy of being so engaged, there is no time, just you and your endeavours?

The flow-state isn’t limited to the realm of arts. It can manifest while solving a scientific equation, baking, walking the dog, running, or riding your bike. All of these activities, and more, have the potential to draw you into that state of flow.

It’s different than mindfulness or meditation. You’re not trying to still your mind and simply sit quietly. You’re consciously bringing your attention to whatever you’re doing so that you can create or build something, find a solution to a pressing problem or mystery, or simply learn something new.

I hope you embrace it often. There’s no judgement in flow state — only the doing.

Let it all flow like a river, finding its path effortlessly.

And if you want to know more about flow-state — the brain even behaves differently when you’re in it — this website has some great information including ideas on how to enter it’s healing and creative spaces.

Remember the Core

For some reason, as I dive deep into my morning meditation, the words “Remember, The Core” pop into my head. In my mind’s eye, the letters are capitalized, much like Calgary’s downtown shopping area known as The Core. But that can’t be what I’m meant to remember, can it?

In the midst of my meditation, a soft laugh escapes from within me.

The core.

Not a bustling shopping center, but rather my belly—the muscles I am meant to keep strong to support my skeleton, enabling my body to stay upright and in motion.

Today’s meditation was far from serene. I drifted in and out of focus, much like the wisps of smoke drifting along the river’s surface this morning. While the sky above remained a vibrant blue, the river valley was veiled in a hazy uncertainty.

I consult my trusted Air Quality app, a morning ritual I rely on several times a day. It shows a reading of 3 today, down from yesterday’s 9. Moderate risk. According to the app, it’s deemed safe to venture outdoors.

Here along the river, it doesn’t look it, I step out onto the deck. The smell of smoke lingers in the air, its presence visible above the water’s surface.

I close the door, disregarding the app’s advice.

Seated at my laptop, I find myself confronted with unwritten thoughts. I’m aware of what I’m avoiding.

Today marks the twenty-year anniversary of my rebirth. At 9:14 a.m., twenty years ago yesterday, the man whose name no longer holds power over me was arrested, liberating me to reclaim my life.

It was on this very morning, two decades ago, that I began to write myself back into existence.

Yesterday, while working on my book, tentatively titled “Dare Boldly: Cultivating Passion and Joy After Life Knocks You Down,” I took a brief pause to browse my social media feeds.

There, at the top of my Facebook page, a memory resurfaced from four years ago.

“On this day four years ago,” it began.

It was May 21, 2019—the date I shared an article on my blog recounting the significance of that very day in 2003.

The day I reclaimed my life.

The day I awakened.

The day I discovered that hope still thrived amidst the shadows of abuse.

I had forgotten.

Even though my book delves into the journey of healing after that relationship, employing it as a framework for numerous exercises within its pages, I had let the weight of that memory slip my mind.

Yet, as I contemplated the Facebook memory, all I could think was, “Wow, I’ve come a long way.”

This is not the first time the significance of that date has faded with the passing years. Life, like ripples on water, expands ceaselessly, unveiling beauty, wonder, and awe.

Today, as smoke gently skims the river’s surface, the Canada Goose—a faithful visitor who builds her nest on the riverbank below every spring—lands with a clunk on the railing of our upper deck. Standing tall, neck outstretched to the full length of her avian skeleton, she surveys the surrounding land, her eyes watchful for any lurking predators.

And every year, time moves forward, an unbroken stream of passing moments, each carrying its own gifts.

For amidst my journey into and out of abuse, I have gleaned one unyielding truth, a truth that forms the core of my existence and shapes my beliefs in the beauty of life today: Regardless of the chaos surrounding me, when I actively seek to find the value in all things, when I embrace the gifts within each moment, disappointment becomes a foreign concept, as transient as a wayward traveller stopping for just a brief moment at my doorstep before moving along its way.

Pain too is but a transient visitor.

Love, on the other hand, is eternal.

This is my core—the bedrock of my beliefs.

Guiding me, a steadfast North Star.

For love endures, now and forevermore.


Isn’t Life Grand?

I woke up feeling lighter this morning. Excited to greet the day.

In the cozy embrace of my bed, I reveled in the serenity and tranquility that enveloped me, basking in a delightful sense of lightness.

Then, I rose and entered our ensuite, and was greeted by the sight of last night’s pep-talk on the mirror.

“Ah, that’s right,” whispered my mind. “You’ve got this.”

A smile spread across my face. Indeed, I do.

For the second night in a row, I had almost talked myself out of writing on the mirror before bedtime. The search for my glass-writing crayons seemed like a daunting task, potentially leading to the upheaval of my studio. But then, a brilliant solution dawned on me—I remembered keeping a set of gold and silver crayons in the kitchen drawer, reserved for those moments when I wanted to help guests keep track of their glasses.

Problem solved.

Mission accomplished.

This morning, I reveled in the rewards of honoring my commitment. And, because I know deep down that “I’ve got this” (primarily concerning the book I’m writing, but with additional benefits as well), after embarking on Beaumont the Sheepadoodle’s first early morning saunter (thankfully, the smoke has diminished, enhancing both the visibility and enjoyment), I strolled into the kitchen and whipped up a batch of scones, four dozen chocolate chip cookies, and tidied away all the dishes—all before 8 am!

What a marvelous way to kickstart my day—feeling invigorated and empowered. It simply required following through on a commitment I made to myself — the added benefit is my beloved has treats to greet him this morning and I have sweet delights to share with a dear friend who recently underwent a knee replacement. The first week of her recovery has been challenging, and now I have the chance to brighten her day with homemade delights infused with love and gratitude for our friendship.

Isn’t life simply grand?

If your body is your home, where do you spend the most time?

Each of us humans who live on this planet exist as one interconnected, interdependent body.

This body of mine, with its skin encompassing all my organs, veins, arteries, cell and DNA is my home. It is separate from your home yet interconnected through the air we breath, the earth upon which we walk, the rivers we swim in and the forests we walk.

Imagine that the body you inhabit is your home. Like many homes, it has an attic (brain), kitchen (heart), basement, (feet).

Where do you spend the most time?

Is it in your head, constantly thinking, worrying, conniving, constructing ideas, fears, worries, possibilities, excuses, plans? Do you store hurts and pains, building resentments like a hoarder stuffing the attic with old newspapers and things they cannot get rid of?

Is it with your heart, feeling every nuance of life, healing others, and soothing the fears and woes of many while not giving yourself the medicine your desperately need?

Is it in your feet, always focusing on the next step, ensuring the ground beneath you is solid, yet avoiding adventures into the unknown because you cannot see the path?

Now, imagine you don’t have a choice where you spend your time. Your body is the vessel that carries you through life. You are one unified, holistic being. Every element, including the skin, is interconnected and interdependent.

In our Western culture, we walk through the world as if the body is just the vehicle for carrying our big, all important head around. Without a lot of thought for the interconnectedness of ‘the all of who we are’ we become mired in a belief system and habits that over-emphasize the ‘brain’, leaving us stranded in our heads, which if you consider the head as the attic of your home, your body then becomes, like most attics, full of ancient dusty old boxes holding the junk and paraphernalia of life that you just keep stuffing away and seldom clean out, while the rest of the body slowly withers from inattention and misuse.

Reframing our attitude, ideas, and beliefs around the body as a whole, we cultivate a deeper understanding of our interconnectedness and promote holistic well-being. Recognizing our bodies as intricate ecosystems, each part playing a vital role in our being and well-being, we foster self-care, empathy, and harmony with the world around us, and everyone and everything in it.

Embracing the body as our home empowers us to value the wisdom of our hearts, the grounding of our feet, and the integration of our thoughts, leading to a balanced, authentic, and compassionate existence.

I am writing my instruction manual for life, As I write, I keep returning to the Mind/Body Disconnection. Often, my heavy head weighs me down, affecting how I care for my body as a whole. I feed my brain but neglect the rest. It’s time to take better care of myself, my one interconnected body that is, for the life of me, the only way I live.

Food for thought as I sit watching a squirrel leaping from tree to tree from where I sit under a smoky sky masking the sun’s light.

Somewhere, in this village I call my earth-home, my home is burning, reminding me again. I need to take better care of my home.


This Box

When faced with a problem or situation I’m trying to find my way through, I like to challenge the statement, “Think outside the box,” by reframing it to, “Create as if there is no box.”

If there is no box, what could you do?

We live in a world of invisible assumptions that become ‘the box’ that defines us. It is the container in which we live our lives, see the world around us and call, reality, when in actual fact, reality is just the story we’ve constructed to give meaning, sense, context to the box.

For those of us who identify as female, depending upon our age, there are many invisible assumptions that create the boundaries of our box. ‘Women are caregivers.’Women are emotional. Women are the weaker sex….’ In some cultures, past and present, the box is/was constructed of statements such as, “Women don’t vote. Women don’t own property. Women do not have a voice. Women don’t go to school.”

Today, as gender becomes more fluid and more and more voices are pushing against limiting beliefs and practices that would have them fit into a box that is foreign to them, the box that makes up our perceived reality can feel more strained as those who care deeply about the walls that hold their box in place, fight back to keep their walls from crumbling.

It isn’t that they’re wrong/Others are right. It is a pushing out of the walls that can feel more constricting to others than those whose box is different or does not fit social norms of the day.

We are all human. We all live in a box constructed of social norms that are inculcated into our psyche and beings through our mothers and fathers and their mothers and fathers and so on and so on. These boxes and the societies that constructed them have defined what it means to be human, and in my case, a woman.

It isn’t wrong. It isn’t right.

It is what we, the humans who make up the society in which we live have created, and work hard to keep in place in defense of ‘order’ and the ways we think things need to be. We are all participants in and of the evolution of that society and the box that holds it in place. It’s just some of us are at the edges pushing out, while others are in the middle pulling in and away from the edges.

Which brings me back to the statement, “There is no box.”

In actuality, when I challenge myself with the statement, “There is no box.” I am challenging my perceived reality of what it means to be human.

And that can feel scary. From the moment we are born, everything we do, say and believe is modelled on the world around us. That is our box.

And because it’s our box, the box becomes the framework of our life story.

And because my box is my life story that keeps me fitting in within the society in which I live, challenging it leaves me feeling vulnerable, unsettled and disconnected from myself.

Breaking free of the box that has become my life story is a journey into self.

It is not a head game. It is a whole body experience.

And that is where the challenge arises. My box is built on the necessity that to keep ‘the box’ intact, we must be a head strong culture. Conditioned through the generations to believe what we think is reality; we cannot see that what we think is reality is actually a story constructed to keep us feeling safe, secure and happy in our box.

Activating my body knowing, getting into my body to be within the world around me, requires unravelling of centuries of conditioning that have evolved into my believing today, my reality is constructed of what I think.

Reality is not what I think.

It’s what I experience when I am grounded within all of nature. When I experience my body as part of the universe, as the birdsong being as integral to this moment as the coyote sitting at my back fence or the river flowing past, I become an active participant within all of nature’s unfolding, Embodied in the world within and around me, I step away from head strong manipulations of reality, to being one with the reality of this moment right now.

In that place, my story falls away and I know peace. I am it.

And then I laugh.

Heady thoughts?

Body imaginings?

If there is no box, why does my head hurt so much?



If you managed to read through this, I should let you know, these are my musings, my wandering thoughts, my free fall writing this morning. I am exploring what it means to imagine and live as if ‘there is no box’.

It is a fascinating proposition. I’d love to hear what you feel and perceive. Can you hear your body talking. Does your head want to have its say?

And I smile again. And breathe with my belly expanding out and in. Ahhhh…..

Release. Let Go. Surrender.

This morning, as I sank into meditation, some feedback I received recently about how stubborn I can be came floating into my mind. I’d found the feedback interesting because I know I can be stubborn. I just haven’t often thought of stubbornness as a self-defeating game. Which, at the time I received the feedback, was exactly what it was. The question that came floating into my mindscape as softly and easily as a cloud drifting across a summer sky, was. “To not be stubborn you must be willing to let go. Are you willing to let go?”

Let go? I wondered. Of what?

It all.

What all?

Your resistance.

But I’m not in resistance. I just don’t understand how to let go of being stubborn.

What if there’s nothing to understand?

How can there not be? There’s so much to know.

How will you know when you know it all?

That one stumped me. I am reminded of a piece of feedback, Thelma Box, founder of Choices Seminars gave me once in a process we were doing on the JoHari Window. “I experience you as a woman who will never find an answer good enough for her.” That one stumped me too.

Problem is (which is just another way to say ‘there was a big wallop of truth in her feedback’), she was dead on.

Sometimes, no matter the question, I think there’s got to be a better, deeper, more complete, all-knowing answer (haha! I just proved myself right by searching for a deeper meaning to my neck pain! Aren’t I fascinating! 🙂 ). Which means, I keep searching for a better one and better one and better one.

Does it matter if I don’t actually know what I am resisting to let go of, or how to not be so stubborn as much as it matters that I focus on letting go of my resistance to not being so stubborn?

Release. Let go. Surrender.

What is your boat built of?

In Choose Growth, authors Kaufman and Feingold, expand upon Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs and put it into a boat. Mazlow never meant for his heirarchy to be represented by a pyramid, they write. When he originally described it he described life as a constant state of growth that is often a two-step-forward, one-step-back phenomenon.

Being able to focus on steering the boat, rather than constantly patching holes and bailing it out, is essential. Being able to steer the boat, and use the experience to grow our human condition, even more critical to our human journey of becoming.

We are born to evolve. And grow. And learn. And keep learning to evolve some more.

But, if we spend all our time plugging holes and bailing water, there’s little time to think about ‘what did that experience teach me?’. Or, “What can I do differently?” Or, “How can I use that experience to grow in my life?”

Years ago, trapped in a relationship that was killing me, the longer I stayed in that leaky boat, the faster I began to sink, until one day, fortunately just in time, I was pulled from the sinking vessel and given the miracle of getting my life back.

It was not a miracle I wanted to ignore or abuse or misuse. It was too important to me. Too valuable to waste or throw away. And, I told myself, that sinking boat… it wasn’t mine to begin with. It was built on his lies. And there was no truth in he who was The Lie.

Since that May day in 2003, I have focused on building a sturdy,healthy, strong boat for myself. At times, I have taken steps back from my two-steps-forward, but the stability of my boat provides me a sense of safety and connection I feel within myself and with those who love me and how I choose to live with intention, helps keep me and my boat afloat.

Nowadays, when harsh waters and crashing waves surround me, I don’t need to spend a lot of time bailing out my boat. I simply hunker down to weather the storm confident that the love, connection and belonging I have found will not be ripped from my sails and blown away by the howling winds.

Today, I’m willing to open my sails to the winds of life and steer my boat in the seas of growth and change, confident that by remaining open to all life’s experiences, whether I judge them ‘good’ or ‘bad’, by being vulnerable with my heart and soul, I will be free to explore all of me — the dark and light, the mysterious and known, the ups and downs and inside outs and outside ins, without getting pulled under by the riptide of despair or crashed against the rocks of shame.

It is fabulously joyful to sail my boat in this sea of life teeming with possibilities, hope, love, joy, happiness, mystery, wonder and awe.

It is fabulously nourishing to be surrounded by people who love and cherish me and whom I love and cherish.

And it is fabulously inspiring to have a life I cherish, a life that is a reflection of my deep belief that we are all born miracles of life, the divine expression of amazing grace, magnificent, beautiful and deeply needed in this world for the unique, creative expressions we bring to it, expressions and ways of being that will create the better we all want to create for everyone.

When we open our sails and allow ourselves to be truly seen and known, when we love every molecule and cell of ourselves, we are free to be our magnificent selves.

And isn’t that a fabulous way to be?