Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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How to love yourself first and still be in relationship with another

Once upon a time, I thought being in relationship meant I had to change who I am to fit who I was with.

I thought that loving another meant giving up all of me to serve love.

Life, and relationship has taught me otherwise.

One of the most important things I’ve learned along the way of being in relationship with another without losing myself first is to always, Love Myself First.

It’s a game changer.

For me, that means understanding and honouring who I am the value I bring to the relationship is found in being exactly as I am.

It’s in knowing, the strength of my vulnerability when I allow another close-in is not measured in how much of myself I give up. It’s found in how much of me I bring to the relationship without warping, shifting, and submerging my true self to be with another.

I am done with warping, shifting and submerging my true self.

Which is a good thing! I never felt all that comfortable trying to fit into someone else’s skin, no matter how hard I tried to make myself fit just right.

And here’s the thing about the ‘game changer’ part for me.

In the journey of learning to love myself first, exactly the way I am, beauty and the beast, I have discovered the true value of being me. Where once I believed I needed a man to complete me, today, I love and like me with, or without, a man in my life.

What I value most today is not my heart’s capacity to get all excited about being in relationship, it’s how relationship feeds my heart what it needs  — connection.

Think with your heart. Feel with your mind.

My heart is a connector. It not only keeps the blood flowing throughout my body, carrying vital oxygen and nutrients to every cell, it is continually teaching me how to be in this world by the connections it makes in relationship with others.

I am learning to think with my heart and feel with my mind.

I am learning to trust my heart and question my mind’s demands that I fear, avoid, and sometimes destroy relationships because of the past.

It has been an amazing journey.

To go from broken to pieces, to broken open, to feeling whole in this lifetime!

A broken heart is an open heart and an open heart is a loving heart.

I love my heart for its capacity to feel, to know, to teach and guide me in being connected to the world around me.

And I love my mind’s capacity to take all that information the heart feeds it, and sift through it and measure it and give me feedback on how I’m doing, and feeling, in Love.

When I listen to my heart and keep my mind free of fear, I am free to be me completely, no matter where I am or how close-in another gets.

We are all relational beings.

Once upon a time, I was in a relationship that almost killed me. That was many years ago now, but the lessons learned in having survived that painful journey continue to enrich my journey today. A question I was often asked in the aftermath of the relationship was, “How will you ever trust a man again.”

My response comes from the depth of my heart’s knowing what is best for me. “It is not about trusting another. It’s about trusting myself enough to not give up all of me to another. It’s about knowing who I am is not based on who is in my life. Who I am is a reflection of how I am turning up for me in relationship with myself and others.”

Through relationship with my beloved I continually learn to embrace being all of me. Every day I am given opportunities to expand my capacity to trust myself in relationship without fearing losing myself all over again.

What a beautiful gift.

Namaste.


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When did you last have fun?

We didn’t set out to have so much fun. But there we were, laughing and playing along and doing just that. Having fun!

C.C., my beloved, returned from a business trip to California in time for dinner last night. Not feeling like cooking, I suggested we go try out a pub our neighbours had mentioned. I thought it was the one closest to our home. Fortunately, C.C. knew where we were going.

Hexter’s in Bowness didn’t disappoint.

Sure, it’s a pub and the food is pub fare but it’s hearty and C.C.’s Shepherd Pie didn’t disappoint nor did my Quesadilla. It was so filling I brought half of it home for lunch today.

We got there around 6:30 thinking we’d be an hour and a half. Expect the unexpected and you won’t be disappointed!

When we arrived, the early evening sun was streaming in through the garage door windows that were rolled up to allow access to the front patio where several people were enjoying the heat and their meals. Having just returned from southern California and Palm Springs, C.C. wasn’t up to anymore sun and heat so we sat deeper inside at a table next to the bar. We were two of max 30 patrons scattered around the place. There’s a fancy long bar and a couple of pool tables in the back next to a room with VLTs. Beside our table there was a giant Jenga set and a DJ station set up against the wall.

We chatted with the friendly server, Laura, placed our order in anticipation of eating and going home. We had no idea what we were in for.

Just before 7, a tall woman comes striding in the front door. Scottie doesn’t just enter a room. She makes an entrance. Long frizzed up blond hair piled on top of her head, tendrils streaming down her back. Dressed all in black. Black top over tight black shorts. Black boots. Somewhere in her 50s, this is a woman who knows who she is and what she’s doing.

She prances around the room, laying down pieces of paper and a pencil on every table or every person. “Give yourselves a clever team name and I’ll give you 25 bonus points,” she tells us as she firmly places the paper in front of us.

“What’s this for?” I ask.

“Music trivia!” she exclaims and then she’s gone. Off to the next table to engage them in playing the game.

“I’m awful at music trivia,” I tell uber competitive C.C.

He smiles and picks up the pencil. “What will we call ourselves?”

I’m also awful at picking names. He raises an eyebrow at Sugar and Spice, gives me a dazed look at Lucky ‘n Love and starts to write.

“Laughing Stock”.

Hmmm… do you think he was predicting our trivia game fortunes?

Well, we didn’t come in dead last, but we were pretty close.

It didn’t matter.

We laughed and got lots of extra points for our animated singing and dancing in our chairs for every song. I threw names out for everything — artist, song title, year released, whether I knew it was right or not.

C.C. kept trying to get it right. I wasn’t helping. Neither was a guy at the bar who said the answer for the Bonus question at the end of one of the rounds was ‘C’.

C.C. said, “It’s A.”

I pointed to the guy at the bar. He insists it’s C.

I grabbed the pencil and change the answer.

I got it wrong.

It was A.

Dang. 100 bonus points lost ’cause I listened to a guy who was propping up the bar! Now if that doesn’t tell you something about my past experiences in bars… 🙂

By the final fifth round, we’re so far behind we don’t even know where to begin. And even though it’s now 9pm, we don’t want to leave.

C.C. thinks we can make up lost ground.

But the category… “So you think that’s a word?” defies us.

Seriously? Out of the 7 songs we got two parts of the three part answer for one song right. Artist and Title. We were way off on the Year Released. But we did get 50 bonus points for each song because of our singing out loud and dancing!

No matter that we came in second last. Where we really felt like winners was in all the fun we had together.

And what matters more than sharing good times and laughter together?

 

 

 

 


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Can you believe it’s been 3 years?

And amidst all that is happening now, this too is happening now.

Three years ago today, my beloved and I stood on a sun-drenched patio overlooking Okanagan Lake. Surrounded by the vineyards of Bench 1775 stretching to its shores and the beautiful mountains on the other side, we said our “I Do’s” and promised to grow through love always.

The day began dark and stormy. I really wanted an outdoor wedding but it appeared Mother Nature had a different idea. The rain fell in heavy sheets. The sky was dark and gloomy. Finally, knowing I had to get back to Therapy Vineyards and Guest House where we were staying and where the girls and I were getting ready for the wedding, we set the chairs and bower up indoors. I reconciled the image I held in my mind of what our wedding would look like to the reality of nature’s downpour and breathed deeply. Love is in the air. Who cares about the rain?

And then, it happened. Just before 4pm when my daughters and I were to arrive at the venue, a friend text me to show me the skies had cleared.

Tell everyone to pick up their chairs and move the wedding outside, I text back.

And they did.

Amidst laughter and good humoured jostling and comments of, ‘trust Louise to put us to work’, guests quickly picked up their chairs and moved everything outside.

The chairs were lined up on the patio. Our dear friend Alyssa placed her chair and cello at the front of the gathered guests and began to play.

My daughters and I walked down the aisle from one direction, while C.C. and his son and daughter appeared from a side entrance. We met in the middle of the aisle. C.C. and I joined hands, kissed our children who lined up behind us and together, we walked to the front of the deck where our friend Al waited to marry us beneath the white, flower laden, bower that had been moved outside when the sun came out.

Across the lake, above the mountains that edged the horizon, fluffy white clouds danced a heavenly chorus beneath the bright blue skies above our heads. The wind blew. It wasn’t all that warm, but I didn’t care.

This is the stuff wedding dreams, and marriages, are made of.

Weathering storms. Confronting obstacles. Changing course. Going with the flow, and always following your heart.

C.C. and I have been married 3 years today.

It hasn’t been all blue skies and sunshiney days. We’ve faced ups and downs and not so pretty moments. We’ve struggled sometimes to understand why the other does what they do. We’ve picked opposite sides. Sometimes, we’ve held our opinions as more important than the space we share as husband and wife.

But, no matter the weather, or the storms, we always come back together to this sacred space where we hold each other in love. Where we honour the other’s opinions and have the courage to let go of whatever side we’re on so that we can stand on the sacred ground of our being together.

Three years ago I said “I Do” to the man who always makes me laugh. He also makes me a smoothie every morning and dinner lots of nights. He is kind and caring and thoughtful and loving. He is willing to stand in the broken places with me so that together, we can find our way deeper into the heart of what makes us, us. To the threads that bind us together stronger and stronger every day. To that which is always the answer, Love.

I am so blessed.

Namaste.

 

 

 


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Celebrating Love.

Two years ago today, my beloved and I stood on a sun-drenched patio overlooking Okanagan Lake. Surrounded by the vineyards of Bench 1775 stretching to its shores and the beautiful mountains on the other side, we said our “I Do’s” and promised to grow through love always.

The day began dark and stormy. I really wanted an outdoor wedding but it appeared Mother Nature had a different idea. The rain fell in heavy sheets. The sky was dark and gloomy. Finally, knowing I had to get back to Therapy Vineyars and Guest House where we were staying, and the girls and I were getting ready for the wedding, we set the chairs and bower up indoors. I reconciled the image I held in my mind of what our wedding would look like to the reality of nature’s downpour and breathed deeply. Love is in the air. Who cares about the rain?

And then, it happened. Just before 4pm when my daughters and I were to arrive at the venue, a friend text me to show me the skies had cleared.

Tell everyone to pick up their chairs and move the wedding outside, I text back.

And they did.

Amidst laughter and good humoured jostling and comments of, ‘trust Louise to put us to work’, guests quickly picked up their chairs and moved everything outside.

The chairs were lined up on the patio. Our dear friend Alyssa placed her chair and harp at the front of the gathered guests and began to play.

My daughters and I walked down the aisle from one direction, while C.C. and his son and daughter appeared from a side entrance. We met in the middle of the aisle. C.C. and I joined hands, kissed our children who lined up behind us and together, we walked to the front of the deck where our friend Al waited to marry us beneath the white, flower laden, bower that had been moved outside when the sun came out.

Across the lake, above the mountains that edged the horizon, fluffy white clouds danced a heavenly chorus beneath the bright blue skies above our heads. The wind blew. It wasn’t all that warm, but I didn’t care.

This is the stuff wedding dreams, and marriages, are made of.

Weathering storms. Confronting obstacles. Changing course. Going with the flow, and always following your heart.

C.C. and I have been married 2 years today.

It hasn’t been all blue skies and sunshiney days. We’ve faced ups and downs and not so pretty moments. We’ve struggled sometimes to understand why the other does what they do. We’ve picked opposite sides. Sometimes, we’ve held our opinions as more important than thespace we share as husband and wife.

But, no matter the weather, or the storms, we always come back together to this sacred space where we hold each other in love. Where we honour the other’s opinions and have the courage to let go of whatever side we’re on so that we can stand on the sacred ground of our being together.

Two years ago I said “I Do” to the man who always makes me laugh. He also makes me a smoothie every morning and dinner lots of nights. He is kind and caring and thoughtful and loving. He is willing to stand in the broken places with me so that together, we can find our way deeper into the heart of what makes us, us. To the threads that bind us together stronger and stronger every day. To that which is always the answer, Love.

I am so blessed.

Namaste.

 

 

 


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Mother-in-law

On the ferry to Galiano Island

On the ferry to Galiano Island Alexis, Lele, Me, CJ

Mother-in-law.

C.C. calls me this as we drive back from the coast.

Mother-in-law. That’s who you are now, he says as we follow the ribbon of highway leading us back towards home on the other side of the Rockies.

We have just spent two weeks away. Wedding prep. Alexis and Jame’s wedding and then a week of relaxation at Tofino with Beaumont, The Wave Hound.

I hadn’t thought about the fact I’d  be carrying a new label after the wedding.

I roll the word around on my tongue. Savour it. Taste it. It has the heady essence of a piece of St. Agur sliding across my tongue. Sharp. Tangy. Deliciously smooth. Earthy.  I like it. I like how it feels. How it sounds. How it rolls around in my mind stretching who I know myself to be to include a new way of being.

Rainbow in the evening; JOY is in the air!

Rainbow in the evening; JOY is in the air!

I have a son-in-law, or as I like to think of him, ‘son-in-love’.

He is the husband to my daughter. The man to whom,  at the edge of a cliff over-looking the ocean beyond and under a blue sky through which an eagle soared lazily in the late afternoon sun, she pledged unwavering love forever more.

I have a married daughter.

It is a new place; this mother of a married daughter. A new way of seeing my daughter and her world. And me.

I remember when she was growing up, how she loved to play ‘bride’ and organize make-believe weddings, and re-enactments of The Titanic. She created fabulous outfits, had favourite parts to play and favourite roles for those around her to fulfill.

There was never a role called ‘mother-in-law.’

I’ve had no practice and am surprised at how this role requires a mental shift, a lengthening out of my vision to include a larger perspective. It speaks to deepening of family. Of roots. Of possibilities and connections. Of sharing Christmases and special occasions. A deepening of love.

I have thought about what it means to know my daughter is married. To know she has someone to whom she will turn first and always. It has felt good to know she would have him by her side. Steadfast and true. He is kind. Generous. Quirkily funny and very very smart.

I like who he is but I hadn’t thought about what it means to be his mother-in-law. To have him as my ‘son-in-love’.

Somehow, I had thought nothing would change. That life would continue just as it was without any adjustments.

And it does. And it doesn’t. It is all as it is and as it is is wonderful and different and yet beautifully the same.

My eldest daughter got married on September 10th.

It was beautiful.

Magical.

Special.

She left nothing to chance. Thought of every little detail and was prepared for every eventuality. And in all her preparations, she managed to leave room for the whimsical, the mystical, the magic.

It was divine.  A day of love flowing freely on warm ocean breezes. Of family and friends laughing in the sunlight and dancing under the stars. It was a perfect beginning to their life lived as husband and wife.

(As I did not have my camera/iphone with me on the ‘big day’, these photos are all from friends — thank you CJ and Tamz and everyone else who shared them on FB. And if you’re ever looking for a magical island wedding resort – Bodega Ridge is stunning. The staff are incredible, the location amazing and the facilities and food divine)


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An Island Wedding

Heart Song Acrylic Louise Gallagher 2016

Heart Song
Acrylic
Louise Gallagher 2016

When she was a little girl, my eldest daughter Alexis, loved to play ‘wedding’. Her entire kindergarten class knew that when it came time to play, if wedding was on the agenda, (which she inevitably made sure it was) not only would she plan the whole thing, but she would play the leading role of The Bride and some reluctant male classmate would be coerced into being her groom.

No matter who the groom, or the attendants she would carefully pick amongst her classmates, Alexis always made a beautiful bride.

One month from today, Alexis will be walking down the aisle bringing to fruition all her childhood planning.

And I know she will be a beautiful bride, just as she is a beautiful woman, inside and out.

It is who she is.

Last year, when C.C. and I were married, Alexis and her fiance J, made the decision to change the venue for their wedding from the more formal yacht club setting in Vancouver to a rustic haven on one of the Gulf Islands.

Where the theme for our wedding was along the lines of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes”, this wedding comes with more explicit instructions to set just the right sartorial tone. “Bohemian Gatsby: tweeds & tuxes, silk & sequins, fringe & faux fur. ” which Alexis and J explain in their style guide, as “Backwoods Blacktie Style Guide”.  Guests, once they step onto the dance floor, “draped in sequins and silks and tweeds and tuxes and sipping on some bootleg whiskey,”  will remark that “the partygoers look as if they were plucked from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.”

It has been a gift to watch (albeit from afar) my eldest daughter grow from childhood fantasies of the ‘perfect wedding’ to an accomplished adult capable of co-creating, a wedding that reflects both her style and J’s desire for an event that brings family and friends together to celebrate love, joy and marriage. Even more importantly, in spite of broken dreams of childhood from having parents divorce and other traumas, it has been wonderful to watch them grow a relationship founded on shared values, a desire to bring out the best in each other and an understanding of the courage and compassion needed to stand beside one another when times are tough and when sailing is smooth.

J and Alexis are doing it all with grace and in the mystical nature that imbues the spirit of the Gulf Islands with wonder and awe, we may just be lucky to witness not only the love shining between them, but also the dolphins leaping in joyous exultation as Alexis and J walk down the aisle. Or, as is written in the style guide, “Waiting the bride and groom’s arrival, you look out across the Tricomali Channel just in time to see a school of Pacific dolphins bound amongst the waves.”

With Alexis creating, there is no telling what miracles will happen.

And here’s a little bit of musical whimsy to set the mood.

 

And just because… the almost theme from our wedding… 🙂


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Love Amongst the Vines: A year later

A year ago today, C.C. and I stood with our children at our sides and in front of family and friends,  were married. We held each other’s hands and looked deeply into each others’ eyes and spoke of our commitment to love one another, stand beside one another, and cherish one another, forever and a day.

It was a perfect day. A perfect wedding. A perfect way to commit to be together, grow together and be together.

As it always does, life has served up a whole potpourri of opportunities to grow and share and learn and become the ‘more’ of what we want in our lives separately and together. Here are 10 things our marriage has taught me over the past year.

  1. Love between two people doesn’t just ‘happen’. Love is everywhere. It’s true. Love is everywhere. In order to know its presence though, you have to be conscious of what it means to you to stand in its embrace and welcome it in. Be an active participant of making love grow stronger between you and within you. You gotta work at it. That’s right. While love is everywhere, we humans need to work at keeping it alive in our relationships.
  2. Choose Love over fear. Anger, resentment, fear will arise in every relationship. To ‘grow love’ we must consciously choose Love over anger. Love over being right. Love over fear. We must choose to choose Love as our answer to being together, being in relationship, being alive.
  3. You have to do things differently to make things different. This one sounds easier than it is. Too often we humans get married to our patterns of behaviour we’ve always used and still expect things to be different. You have to consciously choose to do things differently if you are going to change things up. If silence is your game, say the thing you’re afraid to say. If talking is your schtick, listen. Listen. Listen.
  4. Listen. Listen. Listen. No matter your schtick, don’t just hear with half a mind to what the other is saying. Listen deeply. Hear what is on their heart, hear what is keeping them awake at night, hear what makes them dance for joy. LISTEN DEEPLY. Don’t assume you know. Don’t assume like you already know the answer. Listen and hear what the other has to say.
  5. Marriage is a state of constant give and take, ebb and flow. You have to be flexible to be successful in marriage. You have to be willing to give up your position to create common ground. Don’t think in ‘winner/loser’, always strive for ‘win/win’ by being like a river, flowing around obstacles, over rocks, under bridges. Be constantly in the flow of Love that is your relationship.
  6. Always seek common ground. Like choosing love over fear, in Love, it’s important to always seek common ground. To find the ‘circle of two’ you are when you change your glasses with each other to see what the other sees knowing that within your own special circle of love, you are the only two people who matter.
  7. Play together. A lot! Dance your sillies out together. Sing the blues together. Run around and chase each other all over the house and just be happy and playful and silly together! Have fun together and let Love always be what you give one another the most.
  8. Plant seeds of love continuously. Which means, it’s important to always look through eyes of Love. No matter if you wear glasses, are just trying on a different pair of glasses to get a different point of view, always let Love be the filter through which you see one another. Remind one another daily of what you love about each other. Write a love poem and leave it on the other’s pillow. Leave a message of love in the other’s car to find when you’re not there.
  9. Let the last words you hear each day be, I Love You. No matter what, let ‘I Love You’ be the last words you whisper to one another every day. If you aren’t in the same place, phone, text, email, do what ever it takes to let your beloved know, they are the last person you are thinking of as you go to sleep. Which also means you must Never go to sleep angryYup. Make up before the lights go out. Whatever the disagreement, find the path to common ground before you turn the lights out. Do not go to sleep with angry thoughts of your beloved coursing through your mind. There is always a way to Love. Don’t let anger pull you from the path into the darkness of resentment.
  10. Always surrender, and fall into Love. If the story you’re telling yourself about your beloved is not a loving tale, let it go. Do not hold onto the stories you tell yourself about who the other is, why they’re doing whatever they’re doing that’s driving you crazy, causing you hurt, growing your resentment. They are the one you Love. They are perfectly human in all their human imperfections. Just like you. You didn’t marry one another because you believed you would never have moments of distress, moments of discord. You married your beloved because their human imperfections are equally as fascinating as yours and probably a perfect match too! Let your imperfections create one whole Circle of Love. Let go of ‘the story’ and let Love be your guide.

Here’s to many more lesson on what it means to Grow In Love.

Namaste.