Unbroken Morning

Wrapped in the soft glow of candlelight illuminating the dark, I sit in the quiet of night’s velvety embrace.

It’s early. Dawn sleeps deep, bedded down in night’s arms. The dark envelopes the sky.

I sit at my desk, breathing in the silence and watch the lights from the pedestrian bridge that crosses the river outside my window shimmer on the water’s inky black surface.

I am awake. I don’t want to be. But a dream I cannot remember awoke me. Unable to find sleep again, I do the thing I always do when sleep evades me. I get up, light a candle on my desk. It sits in front of the large picture window in our living room, looking west. Looking out into the darkness, to the river, the dark silhouettes of the trees that line its banks, nature’s painting of black on light shadow, waiting, like portals into some magical, far away land calling me to let go of what I know to enter the realm of all there is yet to discover.

My fingertips skim the keyboard on my laptop. The river flows. Olafur Arnald’s piano quietly plays in the background. The fridge hums. Beaumont the Sheepadoodle, lies at my feet, sleeping.

A light moves along the bridge. Someone on a bicycle is crossing. East to west. For a moment I am distracted. Where is he going? What is he doing riding a bike across the bridge at 4am?

His light disappears. I return to this moment.

The river flows. No wind stirs the naked branches of the trees that fill the gaps between tree trunks like cracks in ice spidering out.

Morning has yet to beckon.

Day has yet awaken.

I breathe in the quiet of the moment and feel my body easing into the darkness.

There is nowhere to be in the dark of night. No one thing I have to do. There is only this. This moment where I sit typing, breathing, and watching the river flow and the lights dance on its surface.

Day will come. Light will return to the sky. For now, I sit in the dark belly of night and let my mind flow like the river and dream of dancing with wild, fierce abandon into the unknown adventures of the day yet to rise.

Namaste

Soften Your Heart

When we harden our hearts we close off access to Love. When we soften our hearts and let it break open, Love flows freely.

But, softening our heart, letting it break open can be scary.

Memories of past pain play continuously in our minds. Fear of rejection holds us locked inside the walls we’ve built around our hearts. Fear of being hurt, used, misunderstood, all play a factor in how willing we are to leave our hearts and selves vulnerable to life’s slings and arrows.

It is a constant dance between choosing the way of love or choosing to live defended against its ways.

Brene Brown asks, “Why be vulnerable when armor feels safer?”

Because, we can’t show up authentically in life without taking down our armor. We can’t be real without risking being vulnerable.

Namaste

Hold Onto Love

We are all on this human journey together We have all experienced loss, anger, hurt, pain. We have all hurt someone. We have all been hurt by someone. To hold onto love and not let go of kindness in the face of our differences and similarities requires courage.

Those thoughts floated through my head as I was sitting in the quiet after returning from having driven my eldest daughter to the airport this morning.

Last night, sitting around the dinner table, the conversation turned to today’s political climate and global conditions. There were many views at the table, all of them had as much right to be there as the other.

The challenge, I said at one point as the conversation veered into the right and wrong of differing views, is that because of the polarizing nature of our political leaders today, which has been exacerbated by media feeds and algorithms, we have become camps of us versus them.

In essence, those who are not ‘with’ us are de facto ‘against’ us. We defend against instead of listening with tolerance and curiosity. We create camps of believers designating those outside the tents that proliferate our campground, as others. And in that other dom, we lose sight of our human condition.

In that state, differences become things to fear.

To hold onto love means to allow all differences to be present, without judging, denigrating, or demeaning them.

It means allowing the diversity of our human condition to shine bright, in all its many lights without trying to dim someone else’s in order for ours to be the brightest light.

Not an easy thing to achieve, but if we are to survive as a species, we need to hold onto Love, not war, kindness, not anger.

About the Image

This is the March She Dares Boldly message from my 2023 desk Calendar.

Capturing Life’s Magical Imperfections

Life is full of magical imperfections.

I’ve always seen life through the lens of, ‘no matter how cloudy the skies, the sun still shines behind their sodden blanket.’

It’s been both a strength and a weakness, but, when I peel away the judgements that cause me to see my weaknesses as a roadblock to joy, I find that there is always a gift, always value, beauty and magical imperfections in EVERYTHING.

Always.

It just means that sometimes, life is asking me to dig deeper to find them.

Now, I also acknowledge that my rosy outlook is also a result of the inherently privileged environment in which I live my day-to-day life.

I have always had food on the table, clothes on my back, access to hot and cold running water, secure housing (ok, there was a brief period while I was in that abusive relationship where that wasn’t true) access to education, employment, health care and a host of other life necessities and niceties.

Being positive is easier when fear of nowhere to sleep, how to pay the bills, or worries about how to feed your children don’t cloud your thinking.

Which is part of the impetus for my She Dares Boldly Series. To inspire finding life’s magical imperfections in all things — big/small, consequential/inconsequential/ exciting/mundane.

I also admit, some days it’s harder to do that than others.

Which is when I need to take time for myself. I need to go back into the studio, write it out in my journal, share my sorrows, woes, and sadness with a friend, meditate, sit in silence and listen to my heartbeat, walk in nature or simply, be still.

Self-care is good care of your life and everyone in it.

Allowing and accepting the magical imperfections in how we take care of ourselves is part of the journey of aging and becoming ourselves.

Namaste

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The She Dares Boldly 2023 Calendar is available now! Order your copy HERE.

It’s the right thing to do.

Resilience is in all of us. It’s just, for some, access is blocked by life circumstances and events that lead to choices that undermine resiliency’s ability to play a part in creating a life of grace and ease.

And living a life of grace and ease, at any age, is, at least to me, a wonderful way to live.

When I make choices that undermine my body, when I think thoughts that disrupt my peace of mind and break down my confidence and belief in myself, I am not only weakening my resiliency, I am hurting the person I need the most in this life — me.

I need me to be strong, healthy, confident and full of grace to move through this world, creating better in my wake.

And to do that, I must take care of all of me — my whole body – head, heart, belly, torso, limbs, eyes, ears, mouth, skin, skeleton, arteries…. All of me.

And not just all of me – but all of the world around me for we are all connected. We are all part of this one planet. This one giant ball of matter spinning around the sun, giving birth, dying, regenerating, renewing, evolving.

We are all connected to everything. Part of the same matter, lifeforce, world.

And in this world, me, the individual, is a microcosm of the whole earth. When I stress my resiliency, I am stressing the resiliency of all the world around me.

Taking care of me, no matter my age, takes care of all the world around me, decreasing the stress I place on the world.

And that’s why taking care of myself as I age, being conscious of the choices I make is so important.

When I don’t, I put more stress on my body, the people who love me, the people and systems that are there to care for me when I’m not well or capable of taking care of myself, the world all around.

Limiting stress is good for me – it’s good for everyone.

And that’s what I’ve realized this week as we’ve explored ‘Resiliency’. If I want it to be strong and capable of supporting me when I really need it, I need to take good care of me in the here and now.

namaste

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!

Dare To Be a Vessel of Love

She Dares to be a vessel of Love. Always.

It’s not the choosing to be a vessel of Love that’s hard. It’s the ‘always’.

We’re human. And that makes us unpredictable, at times undependable and suspect to cloudy thinking and poor decision-making.

Like, when someone cuts you off or doesn’t allow you to merge, or worse yet, takes their own sweet time merging when you’re behind them and want to get going… Thoughts of being a vessel of love, of moving with grace through every moment, can evaporate in direct opposite proportion to the offending party’s speed, or lack thereof.

In fact, I’m often surprised how quickly I can fall into criticizing, complaining and condemning other drivers!

Or people who don’t clean up after their dog.

Or people who wear their masks below their nose.

Or people who stand too close in line.

Or…

You get the picture…

Perhaps if I lived in a cave, cut-off from all human contact… But I don’t. Which means, being a vessel of love has to include forgiving myself. A lot.

To balance the scales, in that forgiveness I must also remember to forgive the other, bless them. And me.

It goes like this…

Someone doesn’t let me merge, my mind immediately jumps to… “What a jerk!” (or worse).

My heart kicks into high gear and whispers gently and lovingly… “Bless them. Forgive me. Forgive them. Bless me.”

And I move on.

The speed at which this internal dialogue goes on is always dependent upon how balanced, centred and embodied in the present moment I am.

Sometimes, there’s a lag between my stinkin’ thinkin’ and the awareness that I’m not being a vessel of love.

Sometimes, my heart needs to prod my head a little to wake me up to my off-kilter presence.

As in, “Now that’s an interesting response to an irritant but not a criminal offense Louise. Something on your mind? Are you dancing with anger right now? Will this attitude get you more or less of what you want?”

Fact is, when I am moving through the world casting criticism, complaints and condemnation about like confetti, I am being my own worst problem and an irritant in the world.

Which is why forgiveness is so important. It awakens me to grace by moving me gently through the portal of acceptance into gratitude.

And, while I don’t often say, “Thank you for this reminder to wake up and be present”, the fact is, every time I act out, is an opportunity to come home to my heart in gratitude and Love.

The good thing is, each time I act out and forgive and bless myself and others, the distance between my acting out and staying true to myself gets shorter, And, with each time I act out and forgive and bless, I am strengthening my heart muscles and deepening my capacity to be a vessel of Love. Always.

Namaste

She Dares To Transform Pain Into Beauty.

Yesterday. The day before. And before that…

so much.

to reflect upon.

remember.

savour.

And through it all, woven threads of gold spun with sapphires and emeralds and precious moments and words and thoughts glittering like diamonds in a field of love.

It is the last day of this year, a year rich with memory and joy and sadness and hardship and possibility and new adventures and missing friends and treasured rare encounters.

A year like no other. But then, every year is a year like no other for every year is filled with days sparkling with opportunities to experience, lessons to learn and happenings to grow through.

As this day (and year) draws to a close and C.C. and I, having forgone the small gathering we had planned with two other couples, await our meal to arrive at the front door, I reflect upon all that has happened, all I have learned, done and left undone or not even started. I smile at all I have gathered, created, discarded and accumulated. And, I am reminded of how this year has been a year like no other, and yet a year none-the-less to experience and learn from and breathe through as I stumbled, surmounted, succumbed and succeeded beyond my wildest imaginings.

So much of this year feels like a blur, like I was sleep-walking through its days, going through motions but not really connecting to the essence of all it offered. And still, there are moments of pure bliss, of complete surrender, of divine grace shimmering within each breath I took as I lived each moment fully embodied in the mystical, unfathomable mystery of life.

I am so many things and within this moment right now, I am grateful, humbled, and surprised by how full my heart feels, how deep my sense of awe becomes me and how truly blessed I am in this life for which I hold deep and abiding gratitude.

I spent the day in the studio today. Inspired by a conversation with a friend, an email from another, an encounter at the dog park, the wide-open clear blue sky, the fresh (ok, arctic cold) air, the frost embracing the trees, the river finding new paths through the rapidly forming ice and Beaumont the Sheepadoodle trying to shed his new booties (he was unsuccessful!) and the advent of a new year, I wrote a poem and then spent a day in my studio creating to the poem which I wrote in gold lettering as part of the background of my latest creation.

Luminous Light
by Louise Gallagher

Luminous light
aches 
for the passage of time
to lean out
beyond the darkness
holding our hopes
in tender hands
like a nest gently
sheltering
a babe
preparing to fly
into a new year
full of promise
that the old one has passed
away
holding nothing
but imaginings
of a future
full of mystery, wonder and awe.

I wish for you, as they say in Germany, a “Guten Rutsch ins Neue Yahr.”

May the slip from the old to the new be a gentle reminder to live each moment with all your heart and to open yourself up with wild abandon to all the beauty, mystery, and awe the world has to offer.

And, as my creation today extolls, may you always dare boldly to transform life’s hardships into a world of beauty.

Happy New Year!

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

She dares to nourish her dreams with flights of fancy

Dream big…. or go home.

I remember a boss saying that many years ago. A lot. He was an entrepreneur, building a tech company on what he called a ‘wing and a prayer’. The prayer being that what he saw as a future need, or pent-up-demand, as he called it, would be real.

It wasn’t. But that’s a whole other story.

What this story is about, scratch that, what my story is about, is learning to not only believe, but trust in my dreams. To feed them reality and flights of fancy in just the right measures to give them wings to fly!

Yesterday, I met for tea and a chat with the beautiful, soulful Kerry Parsons of The Academy of Emerging Women. Not to mention a visit with Toby, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle’s brother. (and no. I did not take Beau. Two of them romping together in a confined space is one Sheepadoodle too many!)

Covid has interrupted some of my most meaningful relationships. Kerry and I haven’t visited in a while, yet, as always, in her lit presence, my heart felt like it was coming home and I came away feeling inspired, full of ideas, and radiating with dreams.

The piece above was partially completed when I left for our tea. When I got home, I knew exactly where it was leading me. I sat down at my studio table and dove in, adding colour and marks, working on the woman’s face until finally, I felt complete.

When I began this piece I had an idea for a quote, “In a world of conformity, she dares to stand out.”

By the time I finished with the art, I realized that, while I really like that quote, it is not what this #SheDares woman is saying to me.

I worked on the quote some more, settling on “She dares to heed her dreams’ urgings to spread her wings and fly.

Better.

And then I dreamt on it.

This morning, I sat down at my desk believing in the quote and its meaning that had become clear to me while I slept.

“She dares to nourish her dreams with flights of fancy.”

The Message

Dreams yearn for space, air, and the breath of possibility constantly flowing through and in and amongst their delicate, sacred promise of what can be, if only…

Dreams are not static things grounding you in their weighty matters. They don’t fit in a box or work best when tied to order and predictability.

Dreams don’t grow in the ground. They take to the skies. They seek sea-infused air bathing them in sun-speckled imagination wafting through their feathery tendrils filling them with light and joy and unlimited hope.

Dreams yearn for flights of fancy. That’s how they find the courage to unfurl and expand into beautiful wings of possibility dancing on rainbow streams coming to life in all the colours of your dreams come true.