Learning or doing something new, travelling to a new destination, meeting new people, can often feel like a journey into the unknown.
Questions about – What if I can’t do/learn it? Will people like me/will I fit in? How will I cope? – can scurry through our minds like water skeeters searching for food on the surface of a lake. Our thoughts dart from one gloomy fear to the next, constantly undermining our confidence in that next adventure with their power to hold us back from taking the next brave step.
Like any muscle, the bravery muscle needs constant working out to stay supple and strong. It needs our conscious attention to avoid atrophying.
Avoidance strengthens fear. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway strengthens courage.
Stepping into the unknown opens us up to possibility and adventure. It also deepens our ability to know ourselves, our triggers and strengths in different situations, so that we can diminish the things that hold us back and grow in our confidence to keep steeping forward in our lives.
Rather than shy away from what you do not know, next time you’re faced with a situation or circumstance you’ve never considered, or avoided, in the past, ask yourself, If I were BRAVE what would I do?
Fact is, we are all brave. It’s just sometimes, our critter-minds think to keep us safe, we need to tone down the bravery and play it safe.
Playing it safe keeps us stuck in our comfort zones.
To play it brave, listen deeply to the answer and do that – not only will you have an opportunity to experience something you never before imagined possible, you’ll be strengthening your bravery muscles too!
And what a great way to play life! On the brave side!
Yesterday, FB Memories brought forward the image above from when I created and posted it six years ago. It leads me to the following ruminations…
Recently, a friend and I were talking about spending some quiet time together to work on a project I’m helping her with. I suggested C.C. (and Beaumont) join us.
She was a little concerned that having C.C. along might interfere with our concentration as we’d have to stop to make him breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I laughed. He can make us meals so we can work on the project whenever, however, we want without worrying about eating.…
She laughed and said, Well aren’t you a liberated woman! (She is in her 80s and spent her life being the one who took care of all the domestic needs of her family, especially her husband so he could build his corporate successes.)
I laughed again and replied, Actually, he’s liberated!
Too often, we think ‘women’s lib’ is about women ‘rising’ to the challenge of finding equality by gaining access to the seats of power men claim as theirs. While I absolutely agree that women are as capable as men in every realm of ‘a man’s world where we deserve to claim our rightful positions at the helm of corporate, political, educational and other institutions, I don’t believe it’s about women rising to the level of men.
For me, it’s about not judging one thing (what men do) as greater than or better than what women traditionally have done and continue to do even as they work hard to claim equal status in society. Ultimately, I believe running a company or running a household, are equally as vital and important to the world today and the future of our children.
I also believe men are as capable as women in all the things that are traditionally seen as ‘women’s roles’.
And that includes liberating themselves enough to claim the home, from kitchen duties to taking out the trash, as a place where they can stand on an equal footing with women.
We, humans, like to judge and put a value on things. We place exalted value on a CEO of a corporation while undervaluing or outright ignoring the value of a woman running a household, bearing children and raising them to be participating members of society.
It doesn’t make sense to me because, in all of it, we continue to pay homage to the belief, “Children are our future”, If that is true, why do we demean and devalue the role of mothering in creating the children of tomorrow?
I find it interesting. Women have fought for the vote, for the right to own property, to hold office, to have their own credit card, to drive, to gain access to education, and the freedom to go where they want to go, alone and unencumbered by a man’s presence.
In all our fighting for our right to breathe and move and dress and live as we desire and where we choose, the future for our children remains a constant beacon of hope calling us to not back down. Because, for the future to be built by our children, we must be assured they are free to live with clean air, water, and earth, without fear of being shot because of the colour of their skin, being jailed because of their beliefs, being forced to be quiet in the face of abuse, discrimination, racism, and a host of social ills and political dictates, being sent underground to unearth gems they cannot afford, or sent off to fight wars they have no say in.
And while we fight for the right to own our bodies, minds, spirits, and voices, men continue to fight for peace by building weapons of destruction so war can continue to be waged in its name. Wars their sons and daughters will be forced to go off to fight.
And that’s what having the FB memory in my feed of the No. 30 creation in my #ShePersistedSeries stirred in me this morning! You can see the whole series HERE.
In the work I do, I am very practiced at framing messages, diffusing difficult situations and creating space for minds to find new ways of exploring being in this world of many differences – people, opinions, situations and ways of being present.
I will never be perfect at what I do.
Grateful because, in seeking perfection in what I do, I live in my head and do everything disconnected from body, mind, spirit which in and of itself, prohibits the perfection I strive to achieve.
When I give myself permission to allow everything I do, and every situation and person I encounter to be an opportunity to practice becoming more accomplished and authentically me in what I do, I enter each moment with an open heart and mind, eager to be present to all that I encounter.
In that way, my confidence to be present grows and my ability to act as my most courageous and authentic self deepens.
Perhaps if I lived on a mountaintop, separate from the environment and the world of humankind, I’d be capable of achieving that lofty state of human perfection. But still, it would be only my ‘perfect’ being, not yours or anyone else’s. Which means, it wouldn’t be perfect to you.
Which is why I’m claiming my right to be perfectly imperfect in all my perfectly human ways and diving into the joy of being human practicing the art of learning to live and become my most loving, kind and creative self in everything I do.
He laughed. That’s not a superpower. And he went on to give her a lecture on the multitudinous and mighty superpowers available for her to choose.
Finished, he asked again, So tell me now, what is your superpower?
And she smiled and replied, To be loving.
Angry that she had chosen so unwisely, again, his body grew ten times in size. Massive muscles rippled along his shoulders, His biceps bulged. He raised one gigantic fist high above his head and brought it down to the ground in one thundering blow. The earth shook. The skies darkened. His face turned red. His eyes bulged and his voice roared, “That is not a superpower!”
Calmly, she looked up at him towering over her, his whole body a mass of angry quivering muscle. Her green eyes were wide-open, clear and calm as a high mountain lake. “Love is the most powerful force on earth,” she softly replied. “It cannot be forced to become something else. It cannot be stopped through forces of hatred. Love is the most indomitable force on earth. It does not cower before might, nor dim itself in the face of danger. It is and always will be itself. No matter where I go, where I stand, or what I do, Love is with me, around me, surrounding and filling me with its power to transform darkness into light, anger into joy, hate into acceptance, and hurt into forgiveness. Love is my superpower.”
“I do not believe you”, he roared. “Nothing and no one can make me see the light nor transform my anger. Nothing can make me love you”.
She smiled and wrapped her arms around one of his mighty legs and held him gently in her loving embrace.
“You don’t have to believe me, nor love me,” she replied. “Love is strong enough to hold your disbelief. It is powerful enough to embrace us both in all the darkness and light of our human condition and never stop cultivating and magnifying the beauty of who we are when we stop fighting and allow love to be the force we empower to change the world.”
He had never met anyone who hugged him when he stormed. He’d never had his angry words calmed by soothing words. And though he did not believe it was possible for Love to change the world, he could not resist the warmth of her embrace and slowly calmed down enough to return to his human form.
“I do not like your superpower,” he said. “It makes me feel weak.”
She smiled and gently took his hands in hers. “You are not weak in the face of Love,” she said. “You are stronger than your wildest imaginings.”
And slowly, day-by-day, gently without force, she taught him the power of Love.
Spring arrives in a symphony of fluttering wings as honking geese settle on the river’s surface where water has broken free of winter’s icy grip.
Like soldiers marching along the border between neighbouring lands, geese goose-step in a line along icy banks patrolling their turf against invaders. Suddenly, a new gander arrives, and a flurry of flapping, hissing and honking erupts as they battle it out only to subside in the recognition that they are friends, not foes along the water’s edge.
Days are longer. Sun feels brighter and hope of warmer days begins to blossom.
Like the squirrels coming out of hibernation and scurrying along naked branches, leaping from one outstretched tree limb to another, a vagrant thought skitters through my mind.
“This is my last spring of 69,”
As quickly as the thought erupts it rushes off in pursuit of happier climes.
But seriously? My last spring of 69?
What does that mean? Why is it important? Do I care?
The answers are ambiguous.
It doesn’t mean anything in particular. It means a lot. It means what I put into it and whatever I invest into it will create its import, or not.
Do I care?
I suppose if the thought fluttered into my mind with the fury of a goose’s wings breaking its speed as it lands on water, I suppose the answer is, I must care. Somewhere in me, I must care about turning 70 come December.
Watershed moments amidst spring ice cracking up.
It has always been this way for me. Decade markers loom large, whether 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and now, the upcoming 70.
It isn’t that I’m scared or anxious. It is that decade markers open up brave space to explore the question, “Where am I at on this life journey of mine? Am I letting fear drive me away from my dreams or am I calling upon courage to draw me out into living my all fearlessly invested in making this one life of mine a journey of Love?”
And perhaps, the harder question still, as the numbers climb up and the litany of things I used to do grows longer, “Am I still dreaming of new experiences, new adventures? Am I still propelling myself away from comfort zones and limited thinking into the wide-open spaces of possibility where I see this life of mine as a grand adventure full of magic, mystery and wonder?”
It is the alchemy of time.
We begin not knowing there is an ending and grow wiser in our understanding of time and life’s limited number of heartbeats with each journey we take around the sun. Whether we see time as scarce or abundant, speeding or dragging, standing still or running out, the seasons continue to change and the earth to orbit the sun no matter the decade, or times, of our life.
It is the first day of spring. The geese are returning filling the air with a cacophony of sound heralding their arrival. Slowly, river ice is breaking up, the trees are shaking-off winter’s inertia and the promise of new buds and life surrounds me.
It is my last spring of 69. My only one at this particular number in fact. But who’s counting?
What’s most important is not the number of springs I embrace as I shed my winter coat to stretch my arms wide in anticipation of warmer days to come. It’s how committed I am to live fully engaged in life, investing all my joy, passion, and heart into each new day I am privileged to greet.
It is my last spring of 69. Let me make it count, not by its number but by how I live it up for all I’m worth. ‘Cause that’s a lot!.
In her later years, my mother wanted only to know peace and harmony.
“Stop being so difficult,” she would say to me whenever I wanted to talk about our relationship. “Just be nicer to me and everything will be fine.”
I struggled to understand how wanting to talk about our relationship was not nice. I believed talking about the challenges we faced was the path to peace and harmony.
My mother felt otherwise.
Peace and harmony come when we let the past lie where it belongs.
For me, peace and harmony are founded on honesty. Not the ‘brutal honesty’ that some feel is necessary to get it all out in the open, but rather, the heart-driven honesty of being vulnerable and truthful about what is true for you. Your pains, hurts, feelings and thoughts.
Honesty does not accuse. It reflects.It listens. It hears. I respects.
What is true for me. What is true for you. What I’m feeling. What you’re feeling. Understanding. Observing. Making conclusions about. Making decisions on.
My mother struggled to face ‘truths’, at least truths of the personal kind. To her, my constant quest to understand, know, explore and talk about our human frailties, quibbles, quirks and inconsistencies was disagreeable.
We struggled to find peace and harmony together.
In looking back on my relationship with my mother, I can see the gaps where I could have built a bridge but chose instead to stand in the brutal truth of my position without respecting hers.
I see where her need for letting the past lie in peace was in constant conflict with my desire to unearth it, dig up the roots and till the soil so we could plant new seeds.
And I see where I ignored her cries for silence in my efforts to be heard.
And I am at peace.
Today, I can see where I judged our dance of intimacy as not enough and she saw it as too much.
I can see the steps I took that were out of time with hers, and, where our truths were singing different songs.
There is truth in everything but not all things are true.
For my mother and me, there is one truth that can never be denyed. It is unassailably true. The truth is, she gave me birth. I am grateful for the gift of life.
The rest is just a story we created to make sense of a relationship that could never be what either of us wanted or believed we needed because neither of us could see the other as the other wanted to be seen.
My mother wanted to seen as a ‘good mother’. I judged her harshly.
She felt my judgements. I felt her disappointment in me.
To grow, to learn, to become, I had to move through my feelings of not being who she wanted to become who I want to be.
I am becoming. Everyday. Me..
And there’s the truth shining bright. My relationship with my mother was exactly the one I needed to become who I am today. It was exactly the one I took to get here now.
I often experience what I think is a common human dilemma. We want change. We don’t know what that ‘change’ looks like, but we want it anyway.
To change, at least to change for the better, I need a plan. A destination. A goal.
As I approach my 70th birthday, I’ve set a goal of looking and feeling alive in every fibre of my being. It’s my ‘healthier, more loving me’ goal and it begins with determining ‘how do I want to look and feel’ and then mapping out the markers to bring me closer and closer to my optimum, ‘healthier more loving me’ goal.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I look like on the outside if inside, I am feeling less than satisfied with myself. Which is why I’ve created a ‘mission statement’ for my desire to look and feel exactly the way I desire.
I deserve to look and feel from the inside out in ways that the mind chatter in my head does not diminish or interfere with me loving myself completely.
Loving ourselves completely is an inside-out job.
For some people, the outside looks great, the inside not so good.
For others, it’s the reverse.
Rarely have I met anyone who completely embodies inside-outside looking/feeling the way they desire. There’s usually a ‘nose too big’ or ‘hair too curly’ or ‘teeth too crooked’ caveat to their feeling good about themselves.
Recently, a woman in a dress shop told me that the biggest complaint she gets from women over the age of 50 focuses on their dissatisfaction with their upper arms. “Nearly every woman who comes in here says they quit wearing sleeveless tops after 50,” she told me.
Of course, her comment was precipitated by my commenting on an outfit that was sleeveless that she thought I might like.
I of course, fell into her over 50 majority.
I may never grow comfortable wearing sleeveless tops (I want my goals to be reasonable and as I wasn’t comfortable going sleeveless in my 30s why would I suddenly be now?), I do believe I can and will divest myself of the slurpy, sinuous, yucky mind-chatter that undermines my calm, my sense of self-worth and my ease in this world.
I believe I deserve to love myself completely.
To get their, I come full circle — I return to loving myself the way I am, knowing that I am a work in progress, a built-by-design undertaking that will take my whole life to discover, unravel and create.
My desire to love myself completely is worthy. Exploring all the ways I can feel and live it is a beautiful journey of self-discovery I venture into every single day of living completely, lovingly me, just the way I am today, knowing deep within me, that I am a work in progress – a beautiful mysterious sculpture revealing itself to the world with every layer I peel back to discover my true essence.
I connect. I step away. I engage. I disengage. I flow. I hesitate.
I make myself busy. I waste time.
Guilt rises. I ignore it. The more I ignore it, the louder it gets.
I rush back in, like someone who’s just come out of a relationship looking to date again. Timid. Hesitant. Trepidatious.
And always, I step in. I step out. I flirt. I turn away. I rush in. I pull back. I dive in. I swim for the safety of the shores I know.
It is the constant ebb and flow of the rhythm of my dance with the muse.
She keeps flowing. I keep stepping in. Stepping out.
This weekend I had a plan that didn’t happen. Suddenly, I had wide-open time I hadn’t anticipated.
I cleaned up my office. Closed the door to my studio which opens onto it. Guilt rose. There is only one way to let it go — Face it. Embrace it. Breathe into it.
I opened the door – I like the light — stepped into the light and there she was.
Flowing. Effortless. Present.
It is the way of the muse and my creativity. She is always there. It is always there. It’s just sometimes, I’m not listening nor heeding the call. Sometimes willfully. Sometimes, I’m engaged in other things. Sometimes, I just want to be left alone!
And yet, no matter how long I’ve been gone. No matter how disrespectful I’ve been of her offerings, the muse is always there.
I had unexpected wide-open spaces of time this weekend. I stepped into the flow and this is what appeared…
My weather app said it was going to be warmer today.
Now it says tomorrow.
I lie in bed sip the latte my beloved made me. Furnace hums. Sun streams in through the open blinds of one of our bedroom windows.
Daylight savings time rises later. I want to stay under the covers.
The muse urges me to open my eyes and rise.
Flow Like The River
By Louise Gallagher
but the darkness.
I dare not release
they will flow
like the river
and open my eyes
and I am set free
like the river
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