Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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All it takes is Love.

I fell in love this morning. I fell into that deep, infinity pool of knowing we are all One. We are all connected. We are all magnificent. That place where I feel inspired by my fellow human beings. Where I feel uplifted by we the people.

My headfirst dive into the pool happened because of two brothers, Connor and Cayden Long. I’d never heard of them before. Never read any of their story until this morning when I wandered over to Cassandra’s blog, My Life Is My Message, and dove into all the wonder she shares of inspiring people around the world. As one reader said, I got infected!

I like this disease. I like how it infuses my body with hope. How it fills my heart with joy. I like that in the stories Cassandra shares I too feel empowered and inspired to get into action. She even shares easy steps all of us can take to be the change we want to see in the world on her ADVICE page. She shows us how easy it is to make a difference!

Cassandra’s no small slouch when it comes to being inspiring. She’s volunteered all over the world to help educate and support children in developing nations. She volunteered in Haiti after the earthquake. And, she is constantly volunteering here online, sharing the wonder she finds.

In the ABOUT ME section of her blog, Cassandra writes,

This blog is for anyone who, like me, is addicted to inspiration – for those who remember that to live is a verb; who endeavour to give more of themselves and get more from their lives – to live with passion, to take action, to love completely, and seek peace  (both inner and outer); for those who aspire and inspire and seek to be inspired.

In Cassandra’s words, Connor Long is living the verb of life in action. And Love.

Connor Long is 9 years old. His brother Cayden is 7. Cayden has Cerebral Palsy. He can’t walk or talk. He can’t run, bike or swim — on his own. But with his brother he can do all those things, and he does. Connor and Cayden compete in Kids Triathalons. Connor pulls his brother in a trailer and when he swims, he pulls a rubber raft behind him in which his brother lies, smiling and pumping his fist in the air. They may not win medals but they sure do capture every heart. They are a team. They are brothers. They are love.

I cried when I watched their video. I cried and was grateful for the box of tissue beside my desk. And, I was grateful that in this world there are boys like Connor and Cayden, and people like their parents.

Be prepared to be moved this morning. Be prepared to feel your heart break open, to feel inspiration flood your being. Be prepared to be reminded, once again, that nothing is impossible. All it takes is Love.

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Nothing’s impossible. It just hasn’t happened yet.

The other night, my youngest daughter asked me while we were sharing a dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, “Do you miss the daily interaction with the clients at the shelter where you used to work?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I do.”

And then, yesterday, the universe delivered the message I needed to hear to see that it’s just my thinking that’s in the way of believing I am missing something that I’ve never lost. There are people everywhere to chat with, interact with and connect with. It’s my thinking that’s kept me from seeing it.

The message came in the form of two individuals, both former clients of the homeless shelter where I used to work. Both have been housed for some time now, one a year, the other just over two. One is a man in his mid 60s. The other an aboriginal man in his 30s. In both cases, had you asked me or any of the staff at the shelter a couple of years ago, “Will they ever be housed?” we probably would have answered that their addictions had too strong a hold and they were too far gone to be able to sustain housing. In fact, in the case of the aboriginal man, no one would have given him two years to live given his life style.

And we would have been wrong — in both cases.

Yesterday, both men taught me a lesson in humility and possibility. Both men opened my eyes to the narrow corridors of my thinking.

The older man had lived at the shelter 8 years, he told me when we encountered eachother walking down the street. One morning he woke up and realized he hated the way he was living. Hated what he was doing to his life and figured it was time to change course. “You know, the whole time I was there I worked and on weekends, I’d take my money and go stay at a hotel just to get away. I kept telling myself there was nothing I could do to change it and then, I woke up one day and realized I’d had enough.”

Sharing his mealtime with hundreds of people. Sleeping on a mat every night. “There was no privacy. No hope of anything different. “I had to make different choices. If I could afford to spend money on a hotel, maybe I could afford to get my own place.”

And so he did. He connected with an agency that works with long-term chronically homeless individuals and supports them in finding housing and transitioning out of homelessness. He’s been living independently for over a year now and in his words, “No way would I go back. It ain’t gonna happen.”

The aboriginal man was sitting on a bench that sits at the edge of the sidewalk near my office. As I walked towards my car at the end of the day he saw me walking towards him, lifted a hand in greeting, smiled a toothy grin and said, “Hey! I haven’t seen you in a long, long time. Where have you been?”

I stopped and smiled back and we chatted about changes, moving on, and, as he described it, ‘growing up’.

“I have trouble believing some days that this is my life now,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d live to see the day that I got out of that place.” And he paused and I could feel the quiet descend upon him as he looked into my eyes and said, “I’m happy now. I got my own place. Kept it for two years. Life’s good.”

He’s fallen once. “I don’t live downtown. I can’t,” he told me. “I get anywhere near that place [the shelter] and there are just too many temptations. Too many opportunities to fall back. The time I did, I was lucky. Nobody knew my address so my workers could help me get back on the straight and narrow and away from everything.” And he laughed. “Guess I’m like the alcoholic going into a bar. I can’t go back to where I was falling down all the time. It’s too easy to stay there.”

When I worked at the shelter it was hard to imagine some lives surviving the trauma of homelessness, addictions, abuse, self-harm. It was hard to imagine a man who spent 20 of 24 hours under the influence of alcohol or drugs finding his way home.

And yet, it’s possible. It happens. It is happening, every day in our city as people work together to find new and exciting ways to provide hope, possibility and life beyond homelessness to those who have lost their way and find themselves stuck in believing, being homeless is all there is to be.

It isn’t.

There’s more and unless we’re willing to explore the possibility of more, we’ll never see that it’s our thinking that keeps us from seeing the potential for change and growth in every life, no matter their circumstances.

I met two men on the street this week who reminded me that nothing’s impossible, it just hasn’t happened yet.

 


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What brings you joy?

IMG_4004I am busy. At least, that’s the story I tell myself every day to explain why I am not doing the things I say I want to do to take care of myself and have a feeling of balance in my life.

I didn’t meditate this morning. I’m busy. I gotta get going. I don’t have the time.

Now, some of that is true. Time is shorter in my mornings these days as I begin my day at the office an hour earlier than in the past. And getting up at 4:30 simply does not appeal — I don’t want to be too busy to sleep!

I didn’t take Ellie for a long walk this evening — just a short neighbourhood saunter. I’m busy. I gotta get…. to here or there or maybe simply do, this or that.

I didn’t… work out, clean the house, mow the lawn, do the laundry…. whatever the task, my reason for not doing it is usually the same.

I’m busy. I don’t have… time, energy, inclination, the right dress, the right shoes, the right moment, the right inspiration. I’m busy.

Now, I could beat myself up for not doing the things I need to do to keep my life in balance, but truth is, I’m too busy, and tired, to beat myself up! Tired, as in, I’ve done enough beating myself up to last a lifetime. Isn’t it time I gave it up?

But, the busy part… that’s my rationalization for vegging out, slumping back, sliding down into that place of doing nothing more than watching mindless television. Because watching TV is what I do when I am avoiding doing the things I want to do.

Enough.

Of doing nothing more than avoiding.

Time to do that which I want to, need to, do to have more of what I want in my life — passion, harmony, joy.

It was the question my friend Ian Munro asked last night as we worked on the outline for the introductory to The Essential Journey that triggered my realization. It’s been percolating all night. Resonating in my heart and mind and belly. Rising up to greet me with the rising of the sun. What brings you joy?

He wasn’t asking it of me, specifically. He was asking it as a component of the course. It’s a question trainees will answer in their exploration of their essential journey. It’s a question we all need to answer if we are to live our lives from the core of our exuberant, vibrant, vivacious selves living essentially in the rapture of now.

What brings me joy?

Sitting in my garden, listening to the birds, feeling the evening air against my skin, hearing the water in the fountain, the breeze rustling in the trees. Being one with the world around me, taking time to feel and be at peace in the moment. That brings me joy.

Walking with Ellie, the wonder pooch, along the water, stopping to let her sniff the leaves and branches, stopping to take a photo of the sunset, the light dancing through the leaves, the fairy dancers glistening on the water. That brings me joy.

Spending time with my daughter and step-daughter, laughing over a meal, sharing stories and thoughts and ideas on life and living and loving and being all that we are meant to be. That brings me joy.

Chatting with my eldest daughter on the phone. Hearing her ideas on life and living and loving and being all that she is meant to be as we share in the moment what is happening in our lives. That brings me joy.

Hearing C.C.’s voice read me the daily verse and meditation from Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening. That brings me joy.

Feeling part of the process of creating — words, art, ideas. Flowing into the muse. Feeling the muse flow through me, with me, into me, out of me. Being the ebb and flow of my creative expression. That brings me joy.

There are so many big and small things that bring me joy every day. And vegging out, filling my mind and spirit with the trivial and mundane happenings of soon to be forgotten television shows, or not particularly inspiring reading does not bring me joy. Doing things that don’t inspire me doesn’t fill me with more of what I want in my life, it just fills up space with the unbidden, undesirable and unpalatable essence of my adapted self that would have me believe, I’m too busy to create, do, be, have all that I want in my world.

Passion. Harmony. Joy.

Ian asked a question yesterday. He didn’t ask me specifically, but I’m glad he posed it because, in its presence I feel myself expanding into the truth of where I’ve been letting myself off the hook of living from the essence of my essential self shining brightly. In his question I am reminded, to have passion, harmony, joy in my life, it’s up to me to let go of my excuses and live into the wonder and awe of every moment unfolding in grace. It’s up to me to create the space where what I want and always have access to, flows freely.

Namaste.


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Watch out world… Here I come!

It was a beautiful day yesterday. After a week of record rainfall, the clouds burst open, the sun radiated and the world sparkled in the prism of life blooming in all its glory. Blossoms floated down from the crab apple tree in the backyard like confetti raining on a wedding party. My deck shimmered in its adornment flowers and foliage coming into bloom. The birds splashed in the fountain and fluttered about the feeder, their song a lilting call to dance and run and leap about. It was glorious.

And I’d made a commitment to join a lovely woman at an information session for Landmark Education’s signature course, The Forum.

I’d made the commitment the afternoon before when it was raining. By Sunday, the clouds had cleared and I awoke wondering about spending my afternoon inside, while outside the world shimmered in delight.

I’m glad I did.

When Teresa de Grosbois, who has one of the biggest and most generous spirits of anyone I know, arrived to pick me up I was ‘resigned’ to missing out on the afternoon on my deck. I’d made a commitment. I needed to keep it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to attend. In fact, spending the time with Teresa was really why I was going. That and the fact, Alexis, my eldest daughter has been wanting me to look into The Forum since she attended two years ago. I’d resisted thus far, but, a sunny afternoon is a perfect time to stop resisting and get into action.

I’m glad I did.

We were a small group gathered in the leader’s living room. Four ‘newbies’ and the four experienced Landmark leaders who had invited us. As we chatted and explored the preliminary concepts of the presentation, children wandered in and out of the room along with two cats, one of whom insisted on being the centre of attention whenever possible. There was chaos, quiet, introspective conversation, life and living all mixed up in a beautiful ball of possibility that kept getting clearer as the afternoon sun advanced into the western sky and we dug deeper into ‘Inventing a New Possibility’ for our lives.

It’s amazing and awe-inspiring, how, even in a group of relative strangers, three hours of reflection and gentle probing of questions and answers can deepen knowing and blow open the doors to seeing the things that hold each of us back from having the abundance and possibility of the life we’ve always dreamed of.

I got to touch my dreams yesterday. To feel clarity enter my spirit, expanding out into knowing who I am being precedes having and doing.

There is so much in this world I do not see, do not know, do not imagine. And none of it makes a difference to my being all that I am when I step into the willingness to blow open the doors to my being present, committed and open to living large. In delving into ‘what’s standing in my way, I encounter the past becoming my future, until, I’m willing to let go and be, here, right now, right this way without my story dictating, and limiting, all that I experience.

It doesn’t matter how deep I dig, or how far I reach within, there are always facets of me that can only shimmer when the sun comes out after the rain, and shines brightly upon the prism of my being all that I am when I let go of fearing, who I am being — the good, the bad and the indifferent. Beauty and the beast — is not all I need to be to have and do it all!

I spent an afternoon digging into the wonder and awe of inventing a new possibility for myself — the possibility of being, Bold. Focussed. and Unstoppable.

Love it! I’m on fire and excited about taking a new adventure that will guide me deeper into the exploration of living on the wild side of my life out there, being larger than life, bigger than I ever imagined, doing, seeing, experiencing more than I ever thought possible.

There are many paths to living the life of my dreams. I like learning new tools, exploring fresh ideas, and delving into a program that has guided millions of people into living their possibilities excites me. Alexis’ capacity to grow and expand reflects the value she found through The Forum, and Teresa’s does too. I owe it to myself to give myself the opportunity to see what’s in it for me!  Because, in the grand scheme of things, this is my one and only life and living it in the rapture of now is the only place to be!

Watch out world!  Here I come!

 

 

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A Friday Round-up

My friend Diana who has a new look for her blog, Talk To Diana has a Friday Pick every week. I love the idea. To share something from another blogger you find inspiring, entertaining, interesting so that others can meet new bloggers, explore new ideas.

Today’s Pick is by KatrinaLabra — I Want You.  Well forth the read, and then an explore of Katrina’s site. A self-identified ‘teenager’, Katrina’s writing makes me smile and laugh and wish I was so young again if only to feel so much, hurt so deeply and be so open to exploring new ideas and thoughts.  (Thanks Diana for the lead).

While I don’t know that I can, or will, do a specific day for picks, I do love the idea of sharing fascinating blogs I read — which is why I am also linking in Maureen Doallas’ Writing Without Paper. Like Diana, Maureen is always sharing amazing finds and Friday’s are her All Art Friday round-ups — interesting exhibits, shows, art happenings that inspire, move, engage hearts and minds in the wonder of creativity. HINT — today’s offerings include a video of water sculpture that is sure to make you go WOW! and do watch the Nancy Dwyer video — fascinating!

Diane Walker at Contemplative Photography has been matching her beautiful art and photographs to poetry for sometime — even when she’s not sharing the poets Rumi, Rilke, Oliver and more — her words and images stir my soul and lift my spirits.  Do drop by. You soul will be grateful.

Kathy Richards over at Katdish has strong political views and opinions. She teaches me constantly about right from wrong, left from right and also about the vagaries of the political winds south of the Canadian border.  Always a fascinating read, Kat never ceases to amaze me with her grasp of what’s really happening in this situation — and her insights always wake me up. This week, Kat posts about the latest IRS debacle and its ability to unite left and right and everyone in between — and the Jon Stewart video she shares is definitely a ‘must watch’.

I could go on! There is so much great stuff out there in the webosphere. But, I must get on with my day. Miracles are awaiting, dreams are unfolding and life is opening up with wonder and awe.

And… the rain is falling. For those fighting against rising flood waters, my heart goes out to you. For those staying warm and dry, stay that way. The rain will fall and then, the sun will shine once again.

I am grateful for this day.

Namaste.


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Normal is Magnificent!

My dear friend Howard Parson’s writes on his Hopeful Notes from Howie J today:

“When you become aware of all the complexities of your humanness you start to understand that to be intimate is to be known to yourself.”

We met yesterday, Howard, Kerry Parsons, Ian Munro and I to talk about The Essential Journey — that voyage into the magnificence of our human being that inspires we humans to live beyond the adaptations of our ego’s urgings to continually adapt so we can fit in, act out, and ‘be normal’.

Somewhere, long ago, we began to believe being great, being magnificent was not normal. And so, we created normal out of playing small. We adapted the stories we tell of who we are to avoid feeling the fear of stepping out into the light of our magnificence.

It’s this, this adapted living that is not normal. It’s just what we’ve created to make sense of a world that keeps evolving. A world where chaos crashes into order, a world where confusion bounces off of clarity. A world beyond our wildest imaginings. And, because we can’t imagine a world of wonder, awe and magnificence, we create patterns of ‘normal’ that keep us playing small, playing down to our lesser imaginings of what life on earth is all about.

At the end of our meeting, Kerry asked each of us to describe what are our wildest dreams for The Essential Journey. I knew right away what my answer was because I’d encountered it on my way to the meeting.

As I left the downtown to travel south towards our meeting place, I drove down the lane from where I park to the adjoining street that would lead me to the main thoroughfare. As I got to the intersection, I saw a man I knew from the shelter where I used to work. He was carrying his backpack, walking down the lane beside my car. I waved and smiled. He waved and smiled back and came over towards the passenger window of my car. I pressed the button to slide it down and he greeted me with a big smile and a “Wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you.”

“How are you?” I asked him and he told me about moving out of the homeless shelter where I used to work, and where he lived for many years, into an apartment of his own.

“It’s good,” he said. “Really good. But, how are you? Where have you been?” he asked.

In front of us the traffic snaked by as we chatted about life, about changes and growth and moving on.

Towards the end of our conversation (a car was coming down the lane behind me and I knew I had to move out into traffic), he said, “I stayed at that place too long, but you should have stayed longer. You did good there.”

I smiled and thanked him and told him that I loved working there and in particular, I loved the people.

“I know,” he said. “It showed.” He turned his head to look at the car pulling up behind me, then turned back towards me, gave the edge of the passenger side window that he’d been leaning through a pat with one hand and said, “I’ve always loved you, you now.” And with that, he stepped back from my car, waved and carried on his way.

I told my cohorts the story and said, “And that’s what I want for the world. To know, in loving another, you cannot help but love yourself for who you are. All of you. Beauty and the beast. It doesn’t matter, the parts you judge, the good, the bad and the ugly. They are all essential. All magnificent. What that man reflected back to me was what I always wanted him to see. That he is lovable, loving and loved.”

I shared an intimate moment with a man on the street yesterday. And in that moment, I saw into his heart and knew, he too saw into mine.

And in that moment, we reflected back the magnificence of the essence of who we are. In that moment, we shared the wonder and beauty and Love that is always there, always shining when we let go of believing who we think we are is ‘normal’.

We’re not ‘normal’. We’re magnificent!

 

 


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Love is all there is to hold onto.

Just before evening falls.

Just before evening falls.

My daughter made me cry yesterday. It was that time of day, when light has slipped behind the veil of night and darkness blankets the sky in its enveloping embrace, calling my body to rest. I was lying in bed, breathing deeply, contemplating the pleasure of sleep when I decided to see if Alexis had posted her blog yet. Often, she posts after I have fallen asleep but when I checked my iPad, there her words were. And so were the tears.

They felt refreshing. Cleansing. Full of peace.

And I remembered.

Those days. Back then.

These days. In the here and now.

I remembered the sadness, the fear that my daughters would be lost to me forever. I remembered praying to God, the sun, the moon, the planets, and the sky that my daughters delicate hearts would know peace. That the pain and sorrow and anger that had swept into their lives through my journeying through the abuse of the relationship that had torn our lives apart, would ease, and that they would know — what had happened to me had nothing to do with my lack of love for them. It was all about my lack of love for myself.

And I prayed and I took another step away from the darkness into the light.

When I read my daughter’s post last night, I was reminded that amidst all my fears and sorrow and pain, there was one truth I knew could never be erased from my life — Love is all there is  to hold onto.

I knew that from the moment of his arrest. It wasn’t clear yet, but I knew it, deep, deep down. I knew that to help my daughters, to give them guidance and light on their journey, I had to hold onto love — and let go of all the rest. And to do that, I had to surrender and fall in love with…. myself.

I’d like to say it was ‘easy’, but it wasn’t. The wounded part of me wanted to hold onto my self-loathing. It wanted to keep me ‘safe’ in anger.

But there was no safety in my anger. There was no love in self-loathing.

And so, I had to let go.

Alexis writes about the first time we chatted on the phone after he was arrested. I remember that call so well. I remember looking at the phone, wondering ‘should I call?’. Dare I?

And then, getting up from the table, walking the few short steps to where the phone sat, its little red light blinking, calling me to pick it up. It was mid-afternoon. The sun was streaming into the room. I could feel the molecules separating as they hit my skin. I remember telling myself to quit thinking about it and just do it.

and I did.

Pick up the phone. And in that one phone call, Love flooded into my heart. It rushed into the space between us and filled every breath and word and thought.

It wasn’t a smooth ride. There were moments when my daughters’ anger seared my skin and I wanted to run away and hide. Moments when my heart hurt so much I could barely breathe. But I knew. I knew that if I just kept holding out my arms. If I just kept giving them space to feel their feelings, emote their emotions in safe and loving ways then the anger and pain and sorrow and fear would flow free and we would be left with the only thing left to hold onto, Love.

In the absence of all else, only Love remains.

Ten years later, I read my daughters words and I felt Love flow freely. There is no pain and anger, no sorrow or regret or even fear to hold onto.

There is only the one thing that remains when I surrender all that was and fall into all that remains when I let go of holding onto the past, to fear or regret or all my “I wish I’d…”s, and release my heart to flow freely in what is true today and always has been and always will be —  Love is all there is to hold onto.