Where words bloom like roses.

I played in my studio this weekend. It has been a while.

Though summer is often a time of little studio play, this year’s sojourn away from its creative space was especially long.

I kept telling myself I was bored with it all. I just wasn’t interested. I had other things to do.

In reality, and retrospect, I was engaging in a lot of self-denial of engagement with the things that lift me up, balance and challenge me, and give my creative essence the spark it needs to keep flowing freely. And, when my creative essence flows freely, I feel calmer, happier, more spacious, more ‘me’.

I know I am not alone in my self-denial of the things I know are good for me.

Some time ago, I was chatting with a woman at the park as we walked along the river. Her two-year-old rescue, Toby, wanted desperately to play with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle. Beau was only interested in my throwing the ball.

Like me, she loves to write.

“I started a book three years ago,” she shared. “When COVID hit, I thought it would be the opportune time to finish it. I’m still only a quarter of the way through.”

I shared some of my unfinished manuscript stories and we both laughed and promised to check in on one another’s progress at our next park encounter.

Recently, we ran into each other again at the park. We chatted for a while until finally I blurted out, “So… I don’t have much of an update on progress to report.”

Sheepishly, she shared she didn’t either.

We chatted awhile about the obstacles, the why not’s, and the things that got in our way of doing what we say we want to do.

“I desperately want to finish it,” she said of her manuscript. “I just don’t know if I can.”

We looked at each other when she said that and laughed.

It is a shared experience.

See, intellectually I know I can do it but… and there’s always a but… my lack of conviction of the ‘can’ has more to do with the critter-mind’s constant chattering about why I shouldn’t do it.

Now that was a revelation as I sat in meditation this morning.

Why does the critter-mind believe I shouldn’t do it?

The answer is fairly simple.

The critter-mind always believes it knows best, particularly when it comes to keeping me safe. And the critter-mind believes that convincing me not to devote the time, energy and creative power necessary to complete this book is safer than risking failing, or never getting it published, or having it panned by readers, yada, yada, yada.

And so I wonder… What would happen if I simply turn up, pay attention and stay unattached to the outcome?

Will the critter-mind lose its power to convince me not to do it? In staying unattached to the outcome, will the creative act of putting words onto a page become the process through which I experience joy, happiness, fulfillment and love?

I wonder… What would happen if I imagine every word I type to be an act of love? Will words bloom into everything I imagine?

Fear or Courage – Which will you choose?

A question often asked in many personal development courses is, “What is your greatest fear?”

I don’t know what mine is. I can imagine it. Like I fear losing my loved ones. I fear losing the use of my limbs, not being able to type, not being able to read.”

For a few tenuous moments this morning, that particular fear of not being able to read felt a little more real than usual. I woke up, put on my glasses, picked up my phone to do WORDLE and it all look a tad blurry.

What?

And then I checked my glasses.

They were a very old pair. Far to weak for my eyes today.

Ahhhh….. Whew! No wonder everything was blurry.

My eyesight was quickly remedied and I carried on.

But it got me thinking about how fear limits my experience of what is real and true and beautiful in my life in this moment. Fear traps me in darkness.

So, how do we avoid letting fear drive us into our limiting beliefs that end up liminting our full joyful appreciation of life?

We let courage draw us out and into living on the wild side, living as if time is not ‘the enemy’ but our co-conspirator in creating the life we dream of, the life we want, the life we deserve.

That’s my plan.

To be drawn by courage into complete, wild self-expression of my true self coming alive, becoming all of me with every breath I take.

What about you? Do you have a plan? Do you have a clear intention of how you want to, will, age?

I hope so.

And I hope you share your thoughts. You inspire me!

Fearless in Fear’s Presence

Fear is a stealthy stalker. Invisible. Scentless. Soundless. It slips in and takes up residence without our even realizing it’s arrived.

All of which makes it hard to realize it is present and holding us in its thrall. And then, without warning, we catch ourselves holding back from stepping out, turning away from an open door, hiding in the shadows of some dark and heavy thought. If we’re lucky, if we’re awake enough, we become aware of its presence and its sinuous tendrils clinging to our every thought and action.

It is then we have a choice.

To live in fear or Love.

.I started this Dare Boldly: No matter your age series because I did not want to fear ageing. I wanted to dance in wondrous gratitude with all I am and all I am becoming as I continue this ageing and ageless journey called, my life.

Yet, until I started focussing my thoughts on daring to age boldly, I hadn’t realized how much fear was also present.

What a wonderful gift. To become aware of fear inviting me to shy away from being all I am in this moment right now. To become conscious of how fear was keeping me from true and full self-expression.

It isn’t that I’m afraid of ageing. Intellectually, I know ageing happens. It is a natural outcome of living.

The thing I’m afraid of is the consequences of ageing. The tangible, visible, hard-to-ignore evidence that time is having its way with my body

And here’s the thing, in writing and talking about it I am learning to embrace my fear, to welcome it in as a co-conspirator of my awakening to the wonderful gifts of ageing. They are all wrapped up in the beauty of each breath, each heartbeat, each step I take every day. They arrive n the beauty of each day’s awakening. The gentle slumber of each night’s rest and all the in-between moments where I am free to express myself, move, and be myself in a world of beauty, wonder and awe.

The more I meditate on and write about fear of ageing, the more I recognize it as a companion on this path.

The more I also realize, fear doesn’t have to lead the way.

That’s my heart’s job.

Like the pistons converting fuel into energy and pumping it through the engine of a car, my heart converts all I experience, all I know, all I am into the energy that fuels my body, my life.

My heart knows the way. It has the beat. It is the rhythm of my life. And, when I get out of its way, fear loses its grip and fades into the background chorus of my heart joyfully beating its song of love.

In that place, I become fearless in fear’s presence.

The Circle of Life Carries On

The Circle of Life Carries On
by Louise Gallagher
“Help me! I’m falling,” called the leaf to the limb.


The limb whispered back, “You must let go and let Mother Nature catch you.”



“But it will be the end of me,” cried the leaf.



“Hang on or let go, your life will end,” said the limb. “It is nature’s way..”
 


Frightened, the leaf clung tighter to the limb 
as the autumn winds blew fierce.



The limb shook, the leaf fell and nature had its way.



Winter came followed by spring bursting 
with leaves unfolding. 


The circle of life carries on, unending.






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.

Ebb and Flow. Flow and Ebb.

#fromwhereIsit #morningview

The river is flowing again. Fast. Free. Fluid. Spring melt ripens slowly.

The water level rises, centimetre by centimetre. Day by day. Where yesterday, the log-jammed up against one of the buttresses beneath the bridge was fully exposed, this morning, only ridges are available. Soon, as the snowmelt begins in earnest in the Rockies to the west, the water will submerge it and wash it away downstream.

For now, morning brings higher water levels. By dusk, the water will have receded a few centimeters. The cycle will continue day after day as I watch, sometimes with trepidation, its ever-increasing flow, wondering, how high will the waters come?

It is the gift and the angst of living on the Bow.

Years ago, along with 99 Calgarians chosen for Peter von Tiesenhausen’s Passage’s exhibition celebrating the Bow River, I released a small wooden boat (slightly bigger than my hand), carved with a number and message on its side, and set it adrift into the rushing waters of the River. Each of the 100 boats contained information for whoever found it on how to share the story of the boat’s discovery online.

I do not know where my boat was found, or if it was. I know many were. Many weren’t.

Perhaps, like the log stuck against the abutment, my boat landed in the weeds upstream from where it was launched and became buried in the silt of spring flooding.

Perhaps, it became waterlogged and lies at the bottom of the river in some distant tributary.

Or perhaps, it floated and drifted, following the current all the way to Lake Winnipeg into the Nelson River and onward to the Hudson’s Bay.

I like to imagine it did. I like to imagine it sailed out of the Bay into the Arctic Ocean to become frozen in time under the Tundra of the far north.

Perhaps.

Perhaps still, the patches of ice that stubbornly cling to the gravel bar further upstream will melt and somewhere on their journey, a current will find my boat, still and silent, waiting for its release in a marshland far to the east.

Perhaps.

The river, like time, does not flow backward. My boat, like memory, fades.

The sun struggles to reach the ice clinging to the shore.

Somedays, I struggle against the flow, just as some days I struggle to release the angst of these past two years.

Somedays, I release myself to the flow, allowing worry and angst, fear and sorrow to abate into the River’s constant flow.

Ebbing and flowing. Flowing and Ebbing. Life moves on as time passes.

No matter if I struggle or release, the river is in constant motion, life abounds all around and I am carried by the flow.

Whether I struggle or release, Love is always flowing.

It is my choice to struggle or to breathe into its constant flow trusting that no matter where I go, or where I become stuck or end my journey Love will always carry me through.

Namaste.

________

This is a video of the boat launch — if you look closely you’ll see me passing by the camera… 🙂

.

The Age of Unreason

It is called The Wolf Moon. The first full moon of January.

I almost missed it.

Not the moon, but my favourite ‘under the light of the full moon’ thing to do – stand amongst the trees, throw back my head, lift up my chin towards the sky and howl.

Wrapped up in thoughts of my beloved’s slow (to me) recovery from pneumonia that landed him in hospital for the first 10 days of the year, my daughter, son-in-love, and grandchildren’s bout with Covid and a project deadline looming at work, thoughts of howling were far from my mind on Tuesday morning.

And then, as Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I walked in the woods along the river in the icy-cold, frost-riddled morning of the day after the Wolf Moon rising, I saw it. There it hung, high above, a giant punched-out pale orb of eery white and beige and creamy light yellow in the pale blue sky.

Oblivious to its presence above, Beau sniffed and snuffled his way through snow-laden deadfall and dry winter grasses, following the scent of some unseen forest creature.

I stood in the early morning light, closed my eyes and breathed in the magic of it all.

The moon watched. I breathed.

Howl, a voice within whispered.

Another voice parried back, “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“No, seriously. Howl!”

“No way. People will think I’m weird.”

“Louise, there’s no one here. The park is empty. Howl.”

I really wanted to. Howl that is. But that self-conscious, I don’t want o stand out or make a fool of myself can be a strong advocate for taking the road most travelled sometimes. Especially it seems if the road less travelled includes howling at the moon. “You’re beyond the age of howling,” it hissed. “Beyond the age of reason for that matter!”

I wanted to shout back, “That’s because I’ve entered the age of unreason!”

I remain silent. What if someone hears me?

I walked a bit further. The moon followed me.

The cacophony of voices arguing the pros and cons of howling were becoming more than just an irritant. They were a clamouring, writhing claimant of my morning zen in the woods walk.

What would a woman in the age of unreason do? The voice of spirit asked.

I smiled. I stopped walking, glanced up at the moon, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and let out a tiny, wee, quiet howl.

I opened my eyes, the world looked the same. Beau was still sniffling and snuffling in the woods. The trees were still standing in silent witness, birds sung in the trees, the river flowed on and the moon hung still in the pale blue sky above.

And the park was still empty of other humans.

I took another breath. Deeper this time. Fuller.

I leaned my head back, stretched out my neck, jutted out my chin, opened my mouth and howled.

Aywhooooooo! Aywhooooo! Awhyoooooooooooooo!

And then I laughed.

Deep, loud, belly shaking laughs.

I did it again.

Aywhooooooo! Aywhooooo! Awhyoooooooooooooo!

I looked around. Beaumont, raised his head from sniffing a particularly fascinating piece of deadfall, cocked it sideways, looked at me for a moment, lowered it again and went back to his investigations.

And the trees kept standing, the river flowed on, the birds sang and the moon gazed down from above.

And I laughed again, threw my arms out wide and began to dance in the icy-cold, frost-riddled morning of the day after the Wolf Moon rising,

Because deep within me, I want to live the truth of my affirmation to live bravely. Dare Boldly. And howling and dancing beneath a Wolf Moon on a crisp winter morning is exactly what a woman in the Age of Unreason does.

___________________

And then…. just as I sign off on this post, a song begins to play in the background. Normally, my morning writing music is without lyrics. For some, unknown, magical reason, one song with words has slipped into my playlist just as I’m about to press publish on this post.

How divine!

This post is also in response to Eugi at Eugi’s Causerie where the prompt this week is “Affirmations”.

Do go visit – there’s lots of good reading theree and who knows… you might be inspired to respond too with your written gems!

Be Like The Rain – a poem

I do not question the muse. Even when she arrives, as she did in the early morning hours, with words and ideas and images to play with.

No. I rise up and heed her calling, if only to clear my mind so I can fall asleep again.

I wrote the framework of this poem at 2:30 this morning and worked on it again when I arose (for real this time) at 6am.

I do not like to label my words, or put them in a box called… feminist, or militant, or any other constructs we use to name the ways of women and their allies that fall beyond the allowable places women have been allowed to inhabit. Those names are seeds that have been planted and cultivated throughout time by the pervasive nature of this patriarchal world we inhabit.

I prefer to write them out and give them space to be present. An expression of something deep within me seeking light, form, voice, substance. Something created to give me pause, to wonder, ponder, devour and hold up to the light to see through all that has appeared, all that is happening into the essence of all that I have divined, all that I have experienced, all that I have left unsaid that is calling to be said, now.

Recently, while on a Zoom call with a group of men and women, I felt compelled to draw attention to something that was being said between some of the men that caused me discomfort. Their conversation was rife with sexual innuendo. It felt totally inappropriate.

In the process of thinking about speaking up, I felt my heartbeat quicken, my throat constrict, my body tighten with fear.

“Why am I afraid to speak up when what is happening is not reflective of the best of our humanity?” I wondered.

I didn’t want to say anything, I wanted to pretend as I have done too often in the past, that ‘boys would be boys’ and what they were doing was harmless.

But it wasn’t harmless. Along with making others feel uncomfortable, it perpetuated the patriarchal concepts of allowing ‘boys to be boys’ because, “It’s a man’s world baby. You better get used to it.”

And so, still quivering inside, I took a deep breath and spoke up.

This poem rose up out of hundreds of such conversations and encounters I’ve endured, and too many women I know have also endured, without speaking up or drawing a line to say, No More.

Background photo source

PS. In speaking up, others spoke up too — and that felt empowering. One of the men immediately apologized and others wrote to thank me for drawing attention to something they too believe needs to change.

I am grateful. In speaking up, I am reminded, every voice matters and when we give voice to what needs to change, we create space for change to happen.

Namaste

If Only She Had Wings (a story)

Far away, at the edge of the land where it meets the sea, there lived a young woman who believed she could fly.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” the townspeople said when she stood at the edge of the cliff to test her belief. “Birds fly. Humans stay walking on the ground.”

The young woman did not believe that was the only way to be human. Every night before going to bed, she did push-ups and lifted weights to strengthen her wings.

And every night before falling asleep she whispered to the dream fairies, “Let my dreams be filled with flight.”

And every night the dream fairies flitted into her sleep, scattering visions of flying and soaring into her dreams.

And in the morning, she would awaken, repeat her exercises and go out to the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean far below to test the strength of her wings.

One day, as the young woman stood at the edge of the cliff lifting her arms up and down like the seagulls high above, a little girl approached and asked, “Why are you standing here flapping your arms?”

The young woman, surprised that a child would even have to ask such a question, replied without stopping what she was doing. “Practising flying.”

The child watched for a few moments longer before saying, “Well that’s silly. Why don’t you just leap?”

The young woman stopped lifting her arms up and down. She gazed down at the little girl where she stood looking up at her. Sky blue eyes met sky blue eyes. Flaxen hair floated around her face just as hers floated in the morning breeze.

The child smiled up at her and the young woman felt all her fears of falling come crashing into her like the waves crashing against the cliffs below.

“What if I fall?” she asked the little girl.

“What if you don’t?” the little girl replied as she threw her arms wide and cast her body off the edge of the cliff.

The young woman watched, wide-eyed and breathless, as the child’s body floated gracefully on the air, catching the breeze and letting it carry her down to the surface of the waves before lifting her up and up and up to the top of the cliff.

In awe, the young woman watched the child land effortlessly back on the cliff beside her.

“See! It’s easy,” said the child.

And the young woman took a deep, deep breath and spread her arms wide.

And stopped.

“I don’t think I can,” she said as tears welled up in her eyes and rolled down her face.

And the child shrugged her shoulder and smiled and said, “That’s okay. One day, you will stop practicing and cast your doubts to the wind and follow me!”

And with that, the child leapt from the cliff and soared with the seagulls flying high.

Watching and wishing she could, the young woman slowly lowered her arms and turned away from the cliff. Shoulders hunched, feet dragging along the dusty trail, she began the long walk back to the village.

“It is not the townspeople who doubt,” she said to herself. “It’s me.”

And she stopped and repeated it to herself. “It’s not the townspeople who doubt. It’s me.”

And she kept repeating it and repeating it until realization dawned. “I’ve been hiding behind practising flying because I doubt I can actually do it!”

Full of the awareness of the power of her doubts to tie her to the ground, she stopped walking away from the edge, turned quickly around and began running towards the cliff. Arms spread wide, she screamed and laughed and yelled loud and fierce as she cast her body over the edge.

And as her feet left the ground, her wings unfurled and she began to fly.

And that’s where you’ll find her today. Far from the edge of fear, wings unfurled, soaring amidst her dreams and dancing in the lightness of being free from doubt.

Beyond All We Know.

The leaves whisper amidst the trees branches reaching out towards the sun. “Lean further! Lean further! You’ve got to lean further to reach the sun!”

And the branches push out and away from their trunks, their arms reaching further and further into the space beyond where they must compete with their brethren to gather sunlight.

And the trunks pull back, rooting themselves deeper and deeper into the ground they know so well. Desperately they fight against gravity, trying to keep their branches from reaching too far. “Too far is dangerous,” they tell the branches. “Lean too far and you will break.”

It is the dance of nature. A never-ending ballet of leaves yearning for light and branches pulling against their roots as they reach for the sun.

It is the dance of life.

Our dreams call us to lean out, further, away from our comfort zones, out beyond the realm of where we tell ourselves we will be safe, into the space beyond all we know, all we believe to be true.

Rooted in our fears, we ground ourselves in the belief to risk change is to lose control of all we know, all we believe to be true.

We cannot change when we stand in the same spot, rooted in our fears.

To change, we must uproot our fears and let courage draw us out of our comfort zones into the vast universe of possibility beyond all we know, all we believe to be true.

_____________________________________________

Every morning, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I pass through the copse of trees in the picture above.

I haven’t noticed before how far they lean out. I have focused instead on the taller trees surrounding them.

This morning, I noticed their stance and the muse bid me to awaken.

.Namaste