Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


Caution: Possibility of ice. Do you have any brain de-icer?

Spring-like weather is descending upon our city and with it, the melting of snow during the day and sheets of ice forming during the night as temperatures dip just below freezing with the sun’s setting.

Earlier this week, a patch of snow on the roof caused a sheet of ice to form at the corner of our walkway as you approach the front door. The first time I tried to traverse it, I almost slipped. We promptly threw some de-icer and it disappeared. It took a few more de-icings before the mound of snow on the corner of the roof melted and de-icing was no longer necessary.

Like life. There are patches of tricky spots, unhealed spaces, unknown hurts that lurk waiting to slip us up as we navigate life’s roads. De-icing is necessary.

This past week I have immersed myself in navigating new waters as the organization I work for prepared to name its new Executive Director. It is bittersweet for me. I love the work I do. Love working with the families we serve and the team. I love the feeling that comes with making a difference.

As in all things, however, doors open and close, opportunity knocks and new horizons beckon.

I have always been clear with our Board of Directors that I am not prepared to commit to more than a couple of years in this role. They needed more and thus, yesterday, a new ED was announced.

At the beginning of the week when I was informed of the decision, my ego, in concert with the nasty critter who likes to remind me of my human frailties, tripped me up. “See. I told you so. Nobody wants you,” it whispered fiercely. “You don’t belong.”

Now, those are old core messages that emanate from my lizard brain in moments when I feel unsafe, fearful or at risk. I know them. I see them and hear them, but, if I don’t step into the light, lift myself up to my executive brain functioning, they can cause me to slip back into the icy waters of self-deprecation.

If you’ve followed my writing this week, you will have witnessed my journey from uncertainty to clarity.

Life is filled with opportunities to explore hidden areas of our pysches where icy patches exist that need the warming grace of light and Love. It is those patches that growth and surrender co-exist to bring us back to our magnificent selves waiting to shine. It is in those places that possibilities arise and hope lives unending.

My tenure at the family homeless shelter where I work is coming to an end. There is no firm date yet as I work with the new ED on a transition plan. What I know though is that the transition will be grace-filled because doing it with grace is how I prefer to exit every stage of my life. And I do love a good swan song!

I am excited. I have dreams and schemes and ideas to create an exciting new path for myself. A path full of potent possibility, passion and purpose, A path where anything is possible because when I de-ice the tricky spaces in my lizard brain, I am free to shine and soar and step with grace into every possibility that opens up on my path.



Powerful Changes: Becoming my creative expression

Alcohol Ink on Yupo Paper
Louise Gallagher
5 x 7″

The card is named, “Powerful Changes”.

I feel my body’s visceral response to the words. ‘Change? What change?’ my critter mind wails. “Enough already with the changes! Haven’t I done enough? ”

I want to know the changes, as if in the knowing, I can vet them, or at least measure them against my barometer of what is acceptable change. And what is not.

“When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
As we open our creative channel to the Creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.”

I am like the river flowing to the sea, my course defined by two parallel shores guiding me, channeling me.

My creative essence is not be channeled.

When I open my creative channel to the Creator, I drift quietly away from the need to be safely channeled by the shores of my being who I think I am in this world and the life I lead. Open to my creative channel, I release my expectations that my course is predictable, known, somehow able to be directed and determined by me.

In the absence of needing to direct or be held in by the bounds of what I deem the shores and boundaries of my life, I am free to explore where ever my creativity leads me.

I am free to be my creative essence. Open to powerful changes whether they enter gently or roar in like an arctic wind.

I want to control change. To harness it to my directions.

I cannot harness the wind. I cannot change the weather.

I surrender my need to control and give into my creative essence and its deep desire to be known simply as it is.

In that knowing, I am not bound by the shores of who I am. In that powerful change of how I see myself and my creativity, I am free to become all I am when I let go of being my creative expression and become the expression of my creative essence running wild and free.



Free-fall writing from today’s The Artist’s Way Card by Julia Cameron —  Powerful Changes

Without thinking about it, as I wrote, my word for 2019 became clearer. “Surrender”  That is a powerful change from my thinking that I needed to consciously focus on my word for the year.


The Joy of Love


I am off to spend 5 days with my grandson, daughter and son-in-love celebrating his first birthday!

Enough said.

See you next week!


The Window through Which We Look

The Window Through Which We Look

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they were eating breakfast, The young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside. ‘That laundry is not very clean,’ she said. ‘She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.’

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, The young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:

‘Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.’

The husband said, ‘I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.’

And so it is with life.

What we see when watching others depends on the window through which we look.

Author Unknown

It is a sometimes human practice to sit in our easy chairs and judge others. To view their world through the comfort of our view of the world to see the defects on their side, rather than notice the cloudiness of our own lens.

I often hear this in the homeless-serving sector from those not immersed in the work.  “Why do they drink?”  “Why don’t they plan better for financial hardship?” “How can they let their children down like that [by bringing them to a homeless shelter]?

No matter the injustice about which we are speaking, or the social condition which we are viewing, our judgments come from a lack of understanding, an inability/unknowingness of how to step out of our own construct of how the world should be according to us, to see the world according to another’s lens and position in it. Living within our own world view, it is challenging to see how our privilege has provided us more grace, more room to make mistakes, more capacity to weather life’s storms. How another’s choices are not based on a ‘desire to create worse’ but rather a lack of opportunity or knowing of how to create better.

As I journey through this week, may I always remember that no matter my view, it is different than someone else’s. Not right. Not wrong. Just difference.

No one sits where I sit just as I do not walk in someone else’s shoes. May I always remember to check the cloudiness and cleanliness of my own view. That no matter my view, may I remember, it is more compelling and compassionate to make room for other’s to share their own views, rather than make them see mine as the right and only view through which they must live.


Today is a special day

It was cold on January 30th, 1988 when she was born. Her father and I were just finishing off touches to her bedroom when my water broke, two weeks before my due date. There was a nurses’ strike happening, the temperature was sub-Arctic and I hadn’t quite finished doing all the things I wanted to get done before her arrival as Alexis’ little sister. I wanted to wait. At least until after the nurses’ strike. My doctor informed me waiting was not an option. My daughter agreed. She arrived just after 3pm in the afternoon of the 30th. Two weeks early. 6lbs 1 oz. A perfect miracle of life.

And that is how she has rolled ever since.

She doesn’t wait for things to happen. She makes them happen. She doesn’t wait for the world to catch up. She leads the parade.

Inspiring. Thoughtful. Thought-provoking. Lele (as we call her) likes to challenge ideas, shake-up the status quo, see things through different perspectives.

And she likes to invite everyone into her creative way of seeing the world.

Once, when she was about eight, she really, really wanted a dog. When she asked me if we could get one, I told her I didn’t think so. I was a single-working parent of two young daughters. I didn’t want to have to care for an animal. A few days later, she asked me if we could get an elephant. Of course not, I laughed. An elephant’s too big. What about a giraffe? Same thing, I told her — plus the fact our roof wasn’t high enough to accommodate an animal that tall. She pretended to think about it some more and then asked if we could get a tiger. Tiger’s don’t do well in the city, I replied. Oh, she said. Do dogs? Of course, I casually responded. And they’re not too big or too tall for our house are they? No. They’re not. Good, she said. Then a dog is perfect.

It wasn’t until two weeks later when we were on our way to the SPCA to check out dogs that I realized I’d been outsmarted by my 8 year old daughter.

And when we came home with Bella, an 80lb shaggy black bear of a dog, I realized I’d been out-smarted again. I’d insisted that if we got a dog, it would be a small one.

Lele was right though. We needed that big shaggy girl in our lives. And so did their dad, she would later convince me.  Travelling back and forth between houses with the girls, Bella had become his best friend. She’ll only be a block away, mom, she told me when she asked if Bella could go live with their father. You’ve got us. He needs someone in the house with him. And so Bella, the dog she’d lobbied for so convincingly took up residence in their father’s house a block away.

Because it was the right thing to do and doing the right thing is at the heart of who Lele is. She cares about people, animals, everything. And beyond caring, she turns up. She takes action.

During the floods in 2013, she volunteered around the city helping to sweep out flooded basements, carry out sodden belongings of strangers. It didn’t matter what the job. She was needed. She was there.

It’s who she is. It’s how she is in this world. Loving. Laughing. Living life her way.

And I am so blessed. She has gifted my life with grace and love not to mention a lot of quirky humour. And when I really needed it, she gave me the forgiveness I so desperately needed and kept on loving me just the way I am.

Today is my youngest daughter’s birthday. My life and the world are a better place because she’s in it.


Life is Messy.

My life is not perfect.

I like it that way.

Once upon a time, I didn’t like it that way. Once upon a time, I believed a perfect life was an antidote to everything I did not like in my life. I spent a lot of time trying to achieve perfection.

And then I fell.

In falling, I discovered the perfection of being in the mess of life. Because, let’s face it, life is messy.

Learning to accept life’s messiness has many gifts. Peace of mind. Contentment. Joy. Life without fear.

When I was striving to create ‘the perfect life’, I spent a lot of time in fear. Fear I’d never make it. Fear I’d be found out as a fraud (perfection is not attainable but I sure tried to act like it was). Fear I’d never reach my goal (which was true because it’s impossible to reach something that does not exist.)

Living in the messy, I am free to celebrate every moment, triumphs and mishaps, highs and lows, falling and flight.

I am free to dance in the rain, and walk blithely under an umbrella.

I am free to sing out loud, and sit in silent contemplation.

In the messy, there is no right way. There is only the way I choose that works for me. And when I choose to walk in love, creating better in the world around me, my way works for me and the world around me.

Once upon a time, I thought a perfect life was the one where I’d always be happy, always feel ‘on my game’, always have everything I wanted.

In real time, I know striving for ‘the perfect life’ is not a goal worth achieving.

In real time, I relish the messy because the messy is full of juicy moments to explore as I dive deep into living from the inside out and outside in, breathing deeply into the beauty and wonder of every facet of my world.

In the messy, I’m okay with beauty and the beast, yin and yang, yoda and Darth Vader. Because in the messy, there is light and dark, all and nothing. And in the all and nothing of this precious life, there is everything I need to know happiness, joy, contentment, love. Because, in the messy. there is perfection in the messy when I am loving all of me, inside and out.