Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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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.

 


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#flashbackfriday Love Amongst the Vines

A year ago today, my eldest daughter and I set off to wine country to spend the final days getting everything ready for C.C and my wedding April 25th. Today’s #FlashbackFriday took me back to the beauty, wonder and awe of that time amongst the vines.

The journey started with a mishap.

Construction on my daughter’s condo building. The car parked a little too close. Speckling splattered all over the hood and roof.

When I’d pulled into the 20 minute spot beside the building, the foreman had asked me to back up a bit so I wouldn’t get hit from the work of fixing the brickwork above where I was parked. “I’ll guide you back,” he said and when I was far enough away he motioned me to stop. “You’ll be fine there,” he added confidently.

Carefree, I walked into the building to help my daughter with her suitcase.

It wasn’t until we were blocks away that I connected the beige drops on the windshield with the fact there were beige splatters all over the hood in front of me.

Panic!

Alexis calmly pulled out her phone, found a car wash not too far away where I could wash it off myself.

Relief.

It all washed off.

Whew!

A quick visit to my mother for a loving good-bye and  only 45 minutes later than anticipated, we were off to wine country.

The drive was nowhere near as eventful as its beginning.

Warm temps. Dry roads. No snow. No rain. No weather to mention other than glorious sun glistening on the snow-tipped mountains and then shimmering on the calm surface of the lakes we drove along. Three Valley. Shuswap. Okanagan.

Natalie, our amazing host and wedding planner met us at Therapy Vineyards and Guesthouse. Her welcome smile and hug, her eagerness to show us around the house, ensure we got settled in before heading home, embraced us in loving kindness.

Natalie is my wedding angel. No matter the request, the need, the idea, she has gracefully opened doors, created possibilities and found the right ‘thing’, no matter what we needed or how outlandish my request. In one of my emails to her I’d told her she was making planning the wedding ‘almost carefree’.

I want your day to be carefree, she wrote back.

And she has. Made it so.

Last night, we chatted about where to go for dinner and she suggested ordering in pizza. I have your case of Fizzio in the car, she said. I can put a bottle in the freezer and it will be cold in no time.

The deal was done. Alexis and I ordered in about the most delicious gluten free pizza either of us has ever tasted. We sat on the deck, sipped Therapy’s amazing Fizzio and watched the sun go down behind the hills across the lake.

It was divine.

We chatted and reminisced and talked about life and love and all things related. We laughed and savoured the moment of being together, connected in the love that has always kept us strong, no matter the weather. We watched the stars poke through night’s blanket. A satellite blinking high above. A plane and then, a shooting star.

“Make a wish!” I cried and she smiled and said softly. “I did. It already came true.”

Her fiance has not been well. A two week stay in hospital and a medical concern yesterday left both of us worrying about his well-being. A phone call earlier in the evening had reassured her. He is okay. Better still. He will be joining us on Friday for the wedding.

Relief.

Sigh.

Bliss.

All is well with our world.

All is well.

And so the journey continues. Day follows night, The promise of a rainy day today not yet materialized and the possibility of it never happening very real. Soft billowy pink and blue and white clouds skim the edge of the distant hilltops. Straight above, the sky is pale blue and clear. Gusts of wind buffet the trees. A bird swoops. A covey of sparrows flit by the window.

All is well.

The forecast for the next few days is sunny with a slight possibility of showers.

All is well.

Nothing can rain on my parade. I’ve got love in my heart and a pocket full of possibilities.

All is well.


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It’s all about commitment

C.C., Beaumont and Beau’s girlfriend Zali

Every day, morning awakens casting off darkness, pushing into the light of a new day rising.

On the threshold of this new day, the past wanes like the full moon beginning its descent once again into darkness as the earth continues its orbit around the sun. Memory of its fullness eases into the dark as we turn our faces to the sun, trusting that in the waning and waxing of the moon, the night will continue to be full of stars lighting up the night.

Tonight is the night of the full moon. According to this article in Elephant Journal,

Full moons tend to bring our underlying personal relationship issues to the surface.  It’s not that it exacerbates what wasn’t there, but more like the fullness of the moon is a reflection of our hearts.

Last night, as C.C. and I drove to meet my youngest daughter and her partner for dinner at a new Mission area restaurant, we had the following conversation.

Me:   Wow. Look at the moon. It’s almost full.

C.C.: You don’t think it’s full?

Me:    (Squinting my eyes to check for shadows on the moon’s face) Hmmm… Maybe it is. Hard to tell.  If it’s not yet full, it’s almost there.

C.C.:  I think it’s there.

Me:    Oh good. I like the full moon. I read somewhere that in South America they don’t see a man in the moon. They see a bunny.

C.C.:  I see a bunny.

Me:    You do?

C.C.:  Yup. His ears are going to the right and he’s hopping to the left.

Me:    Maybe you’re South American!

C.C.:  I hope so. It’s warmer there.

And that’s why I love this man so much.

He likes to make me laugh. He’s smart, always kind and always supportive of me and my whimsy.

Work in Progress Mixed Media

Work in Progress
Mixed Media

No matter what I’m working on in my studio, he is always willing to come down to check it out whenever I ask. His feedback is always honest, which I appreciate more than platitudes, and his suggestions inevitably surprise me with their spot on direction. He’s also willing to come downstairs, sit in the big leather recliner in the corner and read while I paint. He doesn’t try to talk to me. He simply shares his presence. I love that about him. He gives me space to create while being present in community.

And, he believes there is magic and mystery in this big ole’ world, or at least, is willing to support me in my awe-struck wonder at the world we live in.

He also likes to tell me I’m special, which is kind of special of him!

And what could be better than that? To have someone in your corner, cheering you on, supporting you and telling you you’re special even when you’re standing in your grungies, paint spattered on your face in place of make-up, a frown furrowing your brow as you try to figure out what’s missing or out of balance in whatever you’re working on.

C.C. doesn’t care about the frowns. He loves me just the way I am and in his love, I am learning to trust in love, exactly the way I am.

Last night over dinner, we talked about our one year anniversary coming up in April. “Any big plans?” T, my daughter’s partner asked.

We looked at each other and laughed. We haven’t really discussed it yet.

I jokingly commented, “We’re waiting to see if we make it to one year.” And then I laughed. Because the fact is, I have no doubts we’ll make it to one year. “It’s pretty amazing,” I added. “We haven’t had a single argument since we got married where I throw up my arms and say, ‘That’s it. I’m done.’ “(That tended to be my response to moments of dissension — I quit.)

Now, I don’t play the ‘I quit’ card. Marriage has changed all of that.

“It’s about commitment,” C.C. said.

We are committed.

Like the earth’s orbit around the sun, we are committed to this path together. It doesn’t matter whether the moon is waxing or waning or the stars are shining bright or hiding behind the fullness of the moon. No matter where in the world we are, our hearts are a reflection of the fullness of Love shining brightly between us as we travel together on this journey of life.

.***************************************

and… get inspired with this amazing Tedx Talk about happiness — it’s all in the strength and healthiness of our relationships.


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Gifts. Surprises and other secrets.

It was midnight when I finally decided I had to stop. To continue working on my project would risk errors and omissions. I was tired.

And happy.

It is coming together well. And no, I can’t tell you what it is… C.C. might hear! And it’s a secret.

Ask anyone, I’m not good with secrets. Especially my own. I get so excited about what I’m keeping secret I feel compelled to reveal all if only to release the tension building inside me!

Take Alexis, my eldest daughter’s, visit home in a couple of weeks. When we’d booked her flights last week, we agreed to not tell her sister.

On Sunday, when my youngest daughter and her boyfriend were here to watch the GreyCup Game, I let it slip, I had a secret.

“What is it?” my youngest daughter asked.

“I can’t tell.”

That set off a torrent of questions and insistence that I must tell. That it wasn’t fair that I wouldn’t.

I didn’t. Tell. But man, I really wanted to.

And then, on Monday night, after figuring out Lele’s life is way too busy to try to spring a surprise visit from her sister on, Alexis resigned herself to telling.

Whew!

No more secret and we can actually figure out calendars to ensure we have time for everyone without having to make up reasons for wanting to know everything she’s doing when her sister is here!

But I’ve still got the project I’m working on for C.C. this Christmas. I’m dying to tell him. I’m dying to get his feedback as I work on it, to share in my excitement of creating it.

And I can’t.

That would ruin the surprise. And everyone loves surprises, right?

Wrong.

I do not like surprises.

It is quite possibly because I am a control freak, a better surprise giver than surprise getter (as long as I can keep the secret of the surprise from getting out!).

It is also possible that my aversion to surprises stems from what I once called the uncertainties of my childhood. From the many times my father would plan a trip and somewhere between Point A and Point B, decide everything had to change. We had to go somewhere else. Or, worse yet, stop the trip completely and return home because he was not happy with something that had transpired along the way and determined the whole trip was a bust.

My father was not much of a planner in the first place so trips were naturally fraught with uncertainties. Like, where would we stay that night?

I remember in my teens travelling behind the Iron Curtain when it still stood as a bastion of communism. We were travelling on our British passports because my father didn’t want the Canadian government, for whom he worked, to know that we were exploring the world behind the curtain.

Problem was, while he’d planned for the subterfuge, he hadn’t planned ahead. In Prague, we couldn’t find a hotel and stayed instead at a youth hostel complete with no door on the women’s sleeping room which was also the access point through which all men had to pass to get to their sleeping quarters.

It was not a comfortable sleep.

He also hadn’t planned on the government learning of our trip. When the security police came to visit, my father was vocal in his opinions of their prying into his private affairs which did not bode well with his security clearances.

My father always had strong opinions and loved to challenge the status quo.

I used to think it was because my father didn’t like to plan things out when in fact, it was more that he loved surprises. He loved spontaneity and following the call of the unknown. He loved the freedom of the road, the uncertainty of a destination and the exploration of possibility without limiting it to the known.

My father taught me well the art of suprise.

I am creating a surprise for C.C. this Christmas. I want to tell him all about it. To give it to him early. To engage him in its creation.

I won’t.

Because part of the creation is the gift of not knowing the outcome. Of not having a script that says, “when I do this [give him his gift], he’ll say this…”

Part of the joy of the surprise is keeping the secret.

And I do like to surprise myself with my capacity to grow and shift and learn to be 100% accountable for my journey.

And part of my accountability with the gift, is to keep it a secret until December 25th.

But wait!  His birthday is only 5 days away!  Maybe I’ll make it a birthday present!

We’ll see how long I last with the surprise!