Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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What will your story be today?

I haven’t found it yet.

Not after cleaning and clearing out the back half of the basement and organizing my art supplies.

The Reading Corner

Not after clearing out the far corner of our bedroom (the reading corner) and organizing books and papers, clothes and paraphenalia.

Not after reorganizing the entire kitchen, culling dead spices and aged out dry goods.

And not after purposefully not filling my calendar with coffee dates and wine encounters.

I still haven’t found it.

My rhythm in the post-retired in the process of rejuvenation life.

And yes, I know. It’s only been seven weeks, four of which I spent away. But still… throughout my working life, my days were prescribed by the known of my routine; dependable, predictable regardless of unexpected happenings, crises and daily demands.

I feel adrift. Cast-away. Free-falling through time.

In the dissonance of my discomfort, I struggle against the flow and search for meaning in my life even in the presence of knowing, there is no need to search for meaning. The meaning is present when I am present in my life.

Ahhh. The ennui of taking myself too seriously!

Yesterday, Bernie at Equipose Life wrote about her search for her rhythm and I had to smile. I’d been wondering about the very same question since getting back from my month long trip and had been planning on writing/meditating on it today. Once coaching at Choices Seminars was over, I had this wide open playing field, and I was struggling to stay calm in the center of my life.

I think I’ve forgotten how to play in unscripted, unmarked spaces. To simply be in the moment of being rather than the rush of doing.

It’s possible I’ve spent decades forgetting.

And now, in the sudden onslaught of unscheduled time, I am peering too far into the future searching for some glimmer of what happens next.

I close my eyes and breathe deeply.

Patience grasshopper. Patience.

There is lots of time to figure out the future. There’s no other time than now to be present in today.

I take another breath, and the wise woman within whispers to my heart. “It’s okay. This unease will pass. Open your heart and bring your sights closer to home. Step lovingly into the space you’re in. Do not criticize yourself for feeling unease. Celebrate your willingness to be in its presence. And now, let go of looking into tomorrow. Today is calling.”

I open my eyes and smile. I am worrying about an unknown future when today is calling me to be present to its many gifts.

Outside my window the river flows past, the wind whispers through the leaves that line the bank. Through their filigree canopy I see the azure sky stretching out to the horizon.

I am in a land of new horizons. To be free of ‘what was’, I must stretch out of my comfort zone, lengthen the familiar muscles like the sky stretching out to the horizon and become present to ‘what is’.

Arms free, heart open I breathe into the possibilities, the joy, the wonder of being here right now. I slip into the river of possibility where life is inviting me to get into the flow of a new rhythm. When I quit figthing its pull, it will find me.

There is no need for me to crowd my time with a list of ‘important things to do’ or to worry about a yet to unfold future. Tomorrow will arrive soon enough.

I breathe into being present in my life right now. I open my heart and mind and greet the day. Life greets me back with its alluring invitation to release my fear and step into the flow of a new way of being in this world of wonder and possibility.

Namaste


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What do women (of a certain age) want?

I am female. I am a baby-boomer. I am a senior. Which, according to current vernacular places me somewhere in the vicinity of ‘a woman of a certain age’, a term coined by a British essayist way back in 1754 and later immortalized by poet Lord Shelly Byron who wrote in 1817, “She was not old, nor young, nor at the years/Which certain people call a certain age,/Which yet the most uncertain age appears.” In 1822, he clarified his reference to women of “a certain age”, by crudely stating that women of a certain age were, “certainly aged.”

Lord Byron aside, recently, as I prepared to retire from a career I loved to engage in this new field of possibility called, life after a career, I began to wonder, what does it mean to be a woman of this certain age? What do I really want now that it feels like nobody really wants me?

After decades of chasing after the dream of ‘having it all’, I was tired of always trying to be everything to everyone. Of feeling like I had to do more, especially as I was never sure of what the ‘more’ was. I had raised two daughters, mostly on my own, and was a step-mother to two adult children as well. I’m still all of these things, but, along with being a wife, a new grandmother (or YiaYa as I’m called because I’m cutting back on the No’s in my life so NoNa or NoNo didn’t work!) daughter of an octogenarian and a recent passing over the threshold into what society calls, ‘being a senior’ I was tired. Tired of the constant drive to find myself in a world that told me who I was, as a ‘woman of a certain age’, was old and possibly no longer relevant.

And that’s when I began to wonder, what if I was never lost? What if, at this certain age, I have the luxury of simply being me without feeling pressured to be anyone, or anything, else?

Which is when the panic set in. Having spent decades being defined by not just the fashion I wore but also what I did in the world and how much I gave to others, I wasn’t sure I knew how to step out of my designer heels and give to myself what I needed most. Especially when I wasn’t quite sure what it was I needed the most.

The question, “What is it I want most at this certain age?” became my rallying cry to discover the more of what there is to create, do, be after tipping over into the other side of the second half of my life. That place where I am learning to value the wisdom I’ve gained after so many years on this earth, without fearing ‘the younger generation’ has all the answers. They’ve got their answers but they don’t have mine. And mine are worth their weight in gold.

At this certain age, I am settling into accepting aches and pains and crêpe-like skin as part of my beauty, not detractors from my desirability. I am learning to slow down with grace, including remembering to not bend over too quickly to pick up the earring I dropped because if I go too quickly, I might just pass out.

And I am learning to accept (with grace) the answer to my question, “What is it I want most at  this certain age?” is not a sprint to the finish line of my life, but rather, a beautiful wandering journey through fields of gold along the shores of golden ponds and verdant valleys.

I am a woman of this certain age where I have the wisdom, and the experience, to know how to live life on my own terms. I know how to fearlessly and effortlessly fall in love with being old enough to know when to slow down and young enough to want to kick up my heels and dance naked in the light of a full moon, because at this certain age, I am certain nobody’s watching but me. And I if I am the only one watching me, then I am certainly not going to worry about what other’s think of me. Which means, I have all the freedom in the world to grow more certain of who I am as a woman of this certain age.

So… as I continue to explore what I want most at this certain age, I have an invitation for you. If you relate in any way, or are asking yourself similar questions, I’d love to know what you want most at this certain age. And what you don’t want.

For me, the list includes wanting to feel like my life has had meaning and relevancy. Like there is still –more’ and the more is not prescribed by what I’ve done in the past, but rather, how much I still have to contribute.

I want to feel like it’s okay to grow older without fearing being old.

I want to know my wisdom matters. That I am heard, seen known for my grace, elegance and style, not just the clothes I wear and the title I no longer carry.

I want to be okay with being silly, just because, and I want to be ‘nothing’ other than who I am.

I want to let go of feeling like I have to explain or defend my decisions.

And I want to be okay with the past and its many ambiguities so that I am at peace today, with me, the world around me and everyone in it.

I want to make peace happen.

What about you?

What’s on your list?

I’d love to hear from you. If you don’t feel like posting here, an email would be great too! You can reach me at louise [at] louisegallagher.ca.

Namaste.


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Dear Mother Nature. I’m sorry.

My eldest daughter, who lives in the temperate climes of Vancouver, sends me photos of flowers growing in their back lane. “Do you know what kind of flowers these are?” she asks.

I take her seriously. I think I know. Search online and I’m correct. They’re a type of Passion Fruit Flower.

I could have saved myself the time.

She wasn’t really interested in the kind of flower they were. She was trying to make a point. See mom. Our weather isn’t as freaky as Calgary’s!

It’s a favourite past time of those who do not live in this city. To comment on our weather when Mother Nature goes on a rant.

And rant she did last night. It is October 2 and we have several centimetres of snow on the ground.

It’s quite pretty.

Honest.

But even prettiness cannot disguise what it is. Snow on October 2nd.

Which is why I penned this missive to Mother Nature. (I was going to call her Ole’ Mother Nature but I didn’t want to risk her ire at my suggestion she was old). In its writing, I discovered Mother Nature ain’t that old, but she sure is wise and we humans are kind of deaf, blind and unconscious to her pleas.

Dear Mother Nature,

I see you’ve decided to turn the tables on fall and skip it all together. Summer to Winter is a brief season and after having endured your wrath burning us up and then freezing us out this past summer, I feel you have deprived us all of the much needed respite of Autumn.

Last night’s delightful, compared to this morning, frosting.

Please take it back. The snow that is. We truly don’t need it.

It kind of feels like the guest who turns up at the door unannounced. You invite them in because you don’t want to appear to be rude. But you fear the moment you open the door they will come in and stay and stay and stay and stay. They inevitably do that which you fear.

I know. I know.

What we fear we create.

But seriously Mother Nature. I did not create this snow.

You did and I am holding you accountable.

What’s that you say?

You are indifferent to my holding you accountable? You don’t really care?

Oh Mother Nature. How cruel. How harsh.

Oh. You think we all should have been kinder to the planet? Not create so much toxic off-gassing and pollution?

You’re right about that Mother Nature.

So can we just renegotiate. You know. Go back to square one and start over.

Not possible you say?

I’m so sorry you feel that way.

What am I going to do about it?

Well… nothing. You’re the one who dumped it on us. You need to be the one to clean up your mess.

Oh. Your mess is the outcome of our mess? You can take away the snow but you can’t take away the plastic in our oceans and the holes in our ozone.

Oh. You have been trying to warn us?

Honest. I’m listening now. Can we please begin again?

No?  Don’t you think you’re being a tad difficult? Everyone deserves a second chance.

Oh. You’ve given us a gazillion? 

Look. I’m sorry okay. We weren’t thinking about the future when we tore down your forests and paved over your sacred ground. And we definitely weren’t worried about tomorrow when we built our factories and our highrises and our economic advantages that disadvantaged so many.

Okay. Okay. I hear you. We need to clean up our act. We’re trying. Honest.

Oh. Not fast enough? You’re running out of air? I’m sorry. Be that way. We can’t change what’s done.

We’d better learn how?

Oh my. You are upset.

Yes. Yes. Of course I’d be upset too if someone poured toxic waste into my bloodstream and clogged my arteries with noxious gases.

And yes, I know it’s not nice to dump my garbage all over your surface.

Like I said. I’m sorry.

Now. Can we go back to talking about this snow you dumped last night? I really want it gone.

Right. I should have thought about that decades ago. I get it. Global warming isn’t fake news. And this dump is not a warning shot. It’s our new reality.

Fine. Leave it. But I’m telling you. If you don’t smarten up I’m going to… well, I don’t know what I”m going to do.

Ahhh. That’s the problem. You think I need to do something different?

Okay. Guess I’ll clean up my act.

Thanks for the weather. I guess we haven’t got a lot of choice but to take what you give us.

Sincerely,

 

Your environmentally unconscious, trying to wake up, human.

 

Last night’s delightful frosting.

.


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The Promise of Flowers Yet to Bloom (a poem)

The Promise of Flowers Yet to Bloom

©2018 Louise Gallagher

A flower lost itself to fall today.

Autumn fell upon its delicate petals
vanishing all memory of summer’s heat
as frost nipped its buds
and winter whispered with wicked glee,
I will see you soon.

A flower lost itself to fall today.

And with autumnal grace, golden leaves drifted down
into that place where winter’s cold embrace
lurks at the edge of lengthening shadows
creeping silently across leaf covered ground
lying fallow in anticipation of arctic winds yet to blow.

In autumn’s falling colours
the earth prepares
to awaken to black on white images
of frosty mornings
kissed with winter’s icy breath.

A flower lost itself to fall today.

Its petals fell effortlessly
as with one final sigh of relief
the flower dropped its seeds to cast
the promise of flowers yet to bloom
upon the wind.

And I wait in this liminal space
where autumn falls all around.

In the midst of golden leaves
and cast off petals
strewn haphazardly upon the ground
I stand hopeful in the shimmering possibilities
that awaken with every changing season.

____________________________________________________

The creative process fascinates me. I awaken unsure of what will appear once I touch my fingers to the keyboard and give myself up to trusting in the process. In that letting go of expectation, space is created for the muse to flow through me, creating space for that which is yearning to be expressed.

This morning, I had no idea an autumn poem was birthing itself in morning’s slowly awakening light. I had no idea that a photo I’d taken of the bunch of Asters I’d placed by our front door would awaken thoughts of changing seasons and all the possibility that sweeps in with every falling leaf.

Fall is my favourite season.

It seems fitting a poem would write itself out of that place where I let go of expectation of what to write and allow trusting in the process to give birth to that which is yearning to be expressed.