Dare boldly

a blog by Louise Gallagher


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A different POV

Yesterday, I chatted with a friend who is building his own website. What do you think? he asked. Please give me feedback.

I hesitated. Did he really want to hear what I thought? And then I remembered —  I am not responsible for what he does with feedback. He asked for help. I can help him with an open heart, giving my perspective without being attached to the outcome. I can lovingly allow him the grace to find where my feedback fits, or doesn’t, within his mind/being/doing. I gave him my feedback. Looking at his edits, he valued his own efforts to create ‘his best’ by hearing with an open mind suggestions from a different POV (point of view).

Yesterday I received an email from a friend whom I had invited to join me in a project I’m involved with. She wrote back to say she wasn’t comfortable with the underlying message she perceived in the materials I sent. I meditated on her feedback and realized — her feedback had great value, her words resonated. By including the broader message she suggested, the project will have greater depth, a deeper vision and will ultimately, be more healing for everyone involved. I made changes.  I appreciate the difference she made by speaking her truth with a loving heart.

Disagreement does not equal rejection.

Often, when we first hear ‘criticism’, our minds leap to defending our position. Criticism/feedback/other POVs make a difference. To find the value in other perspectives, we need to be open to receive, without giving back resistance. Sometimes feedback unsettles the status quo, shakes up our perceptions, shifting us to another POV we don’t really want to see because we’re so attached to the one we’ve got.  It is from that ‘other’ POV however,  that the difference can become a force for change. For, when we shift our perspectives, when we broaden our POV and see possibilities through eyes that are not limited by the belief, this is the only way it can be, we open up the pathways to communicating our vision, to engaging people and ideas in ways we never before imagined.

Sometimes, the difference comes in our willingness to be open to feedback without closing in on resistance.

And always, the biggest difference I can make is to turn up, pay attention, speak my truth (in love) and stay unattached to the outcome. And to listen to other’s with a loving heart.

May your day be filled with the wonder of different perspectives opening up your eyes to new possibilities.

Namaste.

‘.


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Savour the moment

It was a quiet day of small significances that rippled out gently into the world around me. A card to a friend who is going through a tough time, an email to another who is struggling, sharing some of the wonder I found on the Internet — Thank you Rachael S. for sharing Louie Schwartzberg’s TEDxSF’s video – Gratitude. A walk with my youngest daughter and Ellie, time spent sitting on the couch, chatting, sharing, laughing. Filling the bird-feeder and spending time, sitting at my desk overlooking the backyard, watching them twitter and flitter around the feeder — they make me smile, they make my heart feel warm. Stopping beside two people in the lane-way who were pulling a wheeled grocery carrier that they were filling with bottles and telling them I had a bag of bottles in my garage waiting to be put out for recycling. Their smiles when they came to the garage and found the bottles and Liseanne running into the house to check for more empties and then running down the lane to give them to them.

Savouring small moments, I count my blessings and lose myself in the wonder of the beauty and joy and love in my world today.

Sometimes, the best difference we can make is to take time to savour the moment, to reflect on our blessings and give thanks for all that is. To appreciate both what we deem ‘bad’ and good and know and to acknowledge, life is a gift we’ve been given to live in Love. Each moment is an exquisite treasure, ours to fill with the wonder we see when we open our minds and hearts in gratitude for what we have, what we’ve been given, what we have experienced and what we can do when we let go of fear and surrender and fall in Love.

May your day be filled with exquisite moments that touch your heart with the wonder and beauty of the difference you make in a world of Love.

Namaste.

 


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Love is the difference

Someone once wrote that the two most important days in your life are, “The day you are born and the day you learn why.”

Yesterday, I sat in a room of 70+ people delving into the wonder of their ‘why’.

Yesterday, I watched miracles unfold as individuals claimed their Purpose and picked up the challenge of living it consciously as they embraced the truth that, who they are and what they do in the world makes a difference. Because, in that truth of their significance is a very simple fact, they were already living their purpose. It was written on their hearts, seen in acts of service, in gestures of kindness, in their giving back, giving of themselves in the world around them.  They just hadn’t put it into words they could hold onto. Words that celebrate what they do in the world to make a difference, just by being themselves.

Yesterday, I got to make a difference simply by being present, by turning up and being part of the act of wings unfolding as spirits soared and hearts broke open in love with the wonder of flying free of the disbelief, their life had no purpose. Every life has a purpose and when we discover it, when we embrace it and live it for all we’re worth, there’s no stopping how much difference we can make in the world, every moment of every day.

Yesterday, in the Purpose seminar at Choices I got to be part of creating a different kind of world. A world where people live free of the fear they will never be enough as they stepped lovingly into that space where they knew, I give enough. I do enough. I am enough.  I am here for a purpose. I am here to live Love’s purpose of being me.

Choices has been a blessing in my life since April 2006 when I first went through the seminar. It has helped me heal and strengthen and nurture my relationships, my heart and my belief in me. It has given me simple tools to live my best life yet, profound learning on who I am, and more than anything else, it has shown me the true power and depth and beauty of Love.

Love is the biggest difference I can make in the world. Being it. Sharing it. Holding onto it. In Love, all things are possible. In Love, everything is different.

And yesterday, I got to make a difference just by turning up and listening to the whispering of Love calling hearts to fly free.

I am blessed.

Namaste.


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Making a Difference: Cyber-communities (Guest Blog)

I first met CZ almost nine years ago in an internet forum for survivors of abuse and encounters of the narcissistic and psychopathic kind. She was witty, wise, articulate and oh so real. Her generosity of spirit helped hundreds and hundreds of men and women heal from the wounds of battle in relationships of the not so very nice kind.

When MSN changed its forum template and CZ set off to explore the world of building her own sites. She knew how vital and important these sharing and caring spaces were for people coming out from under the web of deceit psychopaths and narcissists wove into their lives. She knew she needed to keep making a difference if people were to find healing and peace in the past.

Her efforts gave birth to her website:  The Narcissistic Continuum and several blogs including the Web of Narcissism (WON) Forum. Her efforts and generosity of spirit have also given birth to a friendship that I value and treasure, even though we’ve never met, in person. After 9 years of online sharing and emails, I know CZ is an amazing Woman of Worth. A real WOW!

Thank you CZ for sharing your brilliance here and thank you for all you to do make a difference in the world everyday. Your difference shines!

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Making a Difference:  Cyber-communities  

by CZ

Feigning remorse he said, “Sorry to steal your best years by leaving when you’re old.” Feigning dignity I replied, “Don’t even kid yourself. You didn’t get my best years. You got my worst.”

It was a turning point for me, this brief exchange between two people who had married at nineteen…divorcing at fifty. I had been skydiving black holes for months, free falling into hopelessness. That is how it felt being disconnected from the comfort of a thirty-four year marriage, the reassurance of family ties, the grace of worth transferred, even in the pretense of love.

In case I didn’t hear him the first time, he repeated, “Stealing…best years…you’re old,” and I don’t know what happened to me! I don’t. Something deep inside myself refused to believe his words. Something inside myself said, “You are a daughter of God!” I know this sounds dramatic, even romantic; yet to me, it was divine intervention. A grounding realization that no one is replaceable, not even a housewife. No one is worthless, not even an unemployed, replaced housewife. My life had value and meaning, perhaps even more so with age. This sure knowledge affirmed that each of us has a purpose to serve in the web of life. And our service to others needn’t be spectacular or newsworthy. In fact, anonymity might serve me well.

My soon-to-be-x-husband left for his self-determined future, fame and fortune sure to be his claim. Instead of focusing on him, I focused on me, connecting the repetitive themes of my life from one maturing decade to another. I hadn’t placed much value on my traditional skills, my community-building-and-serving-others skills. I didn’t even think of my self as having skills. Building intimate relationships is what I learned as a girl. Ho-hum, who cares, don’t all women do that? I had matured into a woman with an open door for teen-agers in need of a surrogate mom (just as goodly women provided for my rebel teens); a woman with casseroles and jell-o, cushy armchairs and china teacups, less worried about my hair than community welfare.

An older woman with an eye out for people in trouble, people in need. A woman who listened. A woman who cared. I had done my preparatory work creating a meaningful, connected life. It was time to put my skills to greater use organizing a healing community. I needed a website, a living room, and a keyboard.

Each morning (I won’t add “at the crack of dawn” because sometimes I get up at the “crack of noon”), I log in to the Web of Narcissism and connect with people who are suffering, people who have lost everything including self-respect. They feel broken and powerless, humiliated and vulnerable. But I know they are stronger than they feel, more valuable than they realize, more worthy than they believe.

I trust in the power of human connections to heal our wounds simply by listening and talking with one another. Chit-chatting. Tete-a-tete-ing. Being honest about our lives. Keeping it real. So, I serve cyber-tea in china cups in lovely chintz-covered cyber-living rooms and wait for the healing to begin—a most natural process, indeed.

Shhhhhhh…listen. Do you hear the chattering of an Internet message board? If you do, look carefully. You are witnessing the mystery of lives unfolding. Their best is yet to be.


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Celebrating the Heroes Among Us (2nd edition)

It is ‘Heroes Saturday’, the day on which we celebrate the heroes in our midst.

Yesterday, Trevor Boller wrote this on his FaceBook page about his wife, Tracey.

“My Hero this week is my wife Tracey Merrett She is goes weekly to Mustard Seed to assist with an art program there where inner city ppl come to express themselves in art. They have built up trust for her and she comes home energized on a Thurs night. Who has energy by Thurs, let alone 1030 at night? On the table was a bag this week of gluten free bread and some products. She was bringing this to a patron who shares he rarely eats because he can’t because of Celiac or something. I was so touched to see this bag on the table and was given to him last night. I used to think that everyone in Alberta could find food some place. I was educated! ♥”

He’s right. Tracey is a hero! And so is Trevor!

I’m coaching in the Givers 2 weekend of Choices, the life experience/personal development course I took six years ago that changed my life by letting me explore my limiting beliefs and giving me tools to live everyday with joy, passion and peace in my heart. It’s something I love to do, something that feeds my soul and brings great joy to my heart. The program couldn’t run without its volunteers. When the 90+ people walk into the room on Wednesday afternoon until they walk out Sunday evening there is one thing they absolutely can be assured of, they will be loved – even in those moments when they do not believe they are worthy — they will be loved. And, for the 30+ volunteer coaches who give of their time, talents and treasures, they know there is one thing they will do perfectly throughout the five days of seminar, Love the people when they walk through the doors, and keep on loving them. In that love and their giving spirits, miracles unfold. Husbands and wives let go of hurts and fall in love with each other all over again,  a man finds the will to live, a woman finds the courage to claim her dreams, families are reconnected, lives are reclaimed and spirits soar.

To everyone coaching in Choices this month (and all the other months too!), you are heroes.

I’ve never met Maureen Doallas in person, but, for the past 3 years I’ve been inspired and informed by her blog, Writing Without Paper. We’ve become ‘soul sistars’, exchanged emails, chatted on the phone and cemented a friendship I treasure. Everyday at Writing Without Paper, Maureen celebrates the ingenuity, creativity and excellence of humankind by posting interviews, essays, and links to other sites, and sometimes, she shares beautiful treasures of her own poetry. When her book of poetry, Neruda’s Memoir was published, I quickly ordered a copy and have been slowly devouring each delicate poem and intricate image she weaves with her words for the past year. Maureen makes a difference every day by graciously sharing her talents and teaching us about all that people are doing to create wonder and beauty and inspiration in our world. (and if you want some wonder and inspiration in your world today, go check out Maureen’s Saturday Sharing.  (My finds are yours) And do say hello! She’ll be happy to see you!

Maureen Doallas is a hero.

I have never met Grace Brown. I first heard of her through Maureen’s blog earlier this month. I wish I knew Grace. If I did, I’d give her a high-five, a happy dance, a hug, a huge Thank You! And I’d tell her how she has inspired me through the difference she is making for victims of rape and sexual assault. Grace is a college student and a photographer in New York and the creator of Project Unbreakable: The beginning of healing through art. Maureen writes on her blog, For Project Unbreakable, Brown, a college student, invites victims of rape or other forms of sexual violence and abuse to write a quote from their attacker on a large piece of poster board and to then be photographed holding up the quote. Yvonne Moss, a rape survivor and advocate for sexual abuse victims and one of the women Brown has photographed, states on Brown’s site that the project is “a way for victims to take the power back of the words that were once used against them.”

Grace Brown created this short video to highlight the importance and relevance and healing power of Project Unbreakable. Please share it.

Grace Brown is a hero.

We all need heroes. Who are yours? Take some time today, and everyday, to celebrate those who inspire, move and motivate you to make a world of difference. And let me know who they are. I’d love to share the story of your heroes here!

The world needs heroes. Let’s all be one. Let’s all celebrate the ones we know!

Namaste.


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In giving, we are connected

There are days when I wonder — seriously Louise. Couldn’t you have just decided to write this blog for a month? What’s with the year-long public commitment?

Those are the days I have to dig deep to stay conscious, to stay connected, to stay open to the unexpected appearance of grace unfolding in full bloom in my life.

Yesterday, I received an email from a woman whom I knew when working at the shelter. Then I received a comment here from a man I’d known while working there too. In  their words my heart was touched by the grace of gratitude and humility and the capacity for the human spirit to soar free of what would keep it tethered to the bonds of pain and shame. I was touched by their beauty and their willingness to grow beyond the trauma of the label ‘homeless’ into the fullness of their human condition. (Thank you SA and NS).

It is the gift of reciprocity.

Everyday I experience life through my human condition in all its human imperfections.  And everyday I strive to connect to perfection. And in my ego’s drive to ‘be perfect’ I forget I am, perfectly perfect in all human imperfections — in all my beauty and the beast connotations, in all my id and ego gyrations, in all my yin and yang exhortations to be more, be better, be perfect.

Fact is, we are all perfect just the way we are. Loving our perfection, just the way we are, gives us the grace of loving our imperfections, just the way they are too.

And sometimes, we need others to help us see the difference between the striving to be perfect versus the acceptance of loving our human condition, jus the way we are. Sometimes, we need someone to remind us that our difference counts most when we touch each other, heart to heart.

Mother Teresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

The difference I want to make, today and everyday, is to be like that drop in the ocean. To be connected in this sea of life through the Love that flows all around. To be the eyes that see what is missing. The words that touch hearts and open minds. The arms that embrace weary souls in tender loving care. The hands that hold out hope when all is deemed lost. The heart that breaks open in Love to love myself, just the way I am, just the way you are, just the way we all are.

Yesterday, I received gifts from those whose lives I’ve touched and who touched mine. In their words I let myself receive their gift of gratitude and in that circle of giving, my thankfulness ripples outward.

In giving we receive. In giving, we are connected. And in our connection we are all perfectly human in all our imperfections shining in Love.

This morning, I am grateful for making this blog a year-long process. In its unfolding my gratitude strengthens and my understanding deepens as I fall in love with who I am in this world when I let go of  ‘being perfect’  in exchange for joyfully living up our shared experience of  ‘being human’ in the rapture of now.

Namaste.

 


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The difference when I stop, look and listen

I am standing by the Navel Orange bin, focused on picking just the right ones when I feel someone watching me. I look up and see a man, walking towards me, his eyes focused intently on my face. I recognize him as he approaches. Smile and give him a wave.

“I know you,” he says, the rubber stopper on the bottom of his multi-coloured metallic cane making a soft thump as he plants himself in beside me. “Why do I know you?”

I know him from the homeless shelter where I used to work.

In a public place like a grocery store, it’s not always caring of the other to tell them that.

“I was the spokesperson for the DI (the street name for the shelter where I used to work),” I tell him. “I was on television a lot. Maybe you recognize my face from there?”

He gives his head a quick shake from side to side. Then nods it up and down. “Yeah. That’s why I remember you. You were one of the nice ones.” He pauses, lifts his cane and thumps it on the ground. Not loudly. Just a gentle statement of fact to punctuate his words. “I didn’t like it there. Who could? Full of drunks and drug addicts. And the staff…”

He looks away.

“Glad I’m out of there now.” He finishes his statement and looks me in the eyes. “I’m gone you know.”

“So am I,” I tell him. “How are you doing?”

And he rushes into a story about an accident that broke his hip. A two month hospital stay. A landlord who ripped him off and a host of other sad events that have brought him down.

And  I listen. It is all I do. Listen. Deeply.

It is what he needs. Someone to listen to him. To give him space to give voice to his pain, his fears, his sorrow. And, his possibilities.

“I worked construction you know,” he tells me. “That’s over with now. But I can cook. Got a friend who’s got a friend who owns a restaurant that’s just opening up. Gonna go submit my resume. You could come visit if you want.” And he gives me the approximate location of the restaurant. “I can’t remember the name. But I’m sure you can’t miss it. It’s the pub right beside the gas station.”

I tell him that I’ll definitely drop by sometime over the next few weeks. Check if he got the job. See how he’s doing.

“What I really need is better housing,” he says. “Someplace where I’m not sharing space with others. I talked to Calgary Housing but their wait list is too long.”

“Have you spoken to the Homeless Foundation?” I ask.

“What’s that?”

And I explain about their housing programs and find a piece of paper and write down their number and pass it to him.

He’s excited. Another path to explore. Another possibility opening up.

And we part and I am grateful for our encounter. He has reminded me of the importance of seeing people. Of honouring the human being through creating space for story-telling to happen, of listening to the stories that are shared with an open mind and loving heart and a belief in the sacredness of the truths that are revealed when we take time to see and listen to the story-tellers.

Thank you John. You made a difference yesterday by giving me the gift of listening on purpose.

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