Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Do the Loving Thing

Show me someone who doesn’t play to win and I’ll show you a loser.  It’s not quite how Vince Lombardi said it but you get the gist. We play to win. We must. Or so we’re told.

And in our desire to win big, we revere sports players, make icons of everyday people whose faces appear bigger than life in a darkened theatre and raise up to god-like heights those whose earnings put them in the stratosphere of success.

We like winners. In a world where winning counts, what about those who don’t win? Are they, we, all losers? Do they, we, not count?

These thoughts were swimming around in my head as I awoke this morning from a dream that shifted into memory as my eyes opened and greeted the day. With gratitude I thanked the angels for their presence, took a deep breath and committed to write on the subject of winning and losing when my fingers hit the keyboard this morning.

But… I don’t remember the dream. And the rest of the words that felt so clear and true when I awoke have vanished. They seem to have disappeared, become lost in the morning light I stopped to admire out the kitchen window before walking into my office to sit down and type.

The light was beautiful. It cast a soft golden hue on just one arm of the crab apple tree in my backyard, turning the leaves a vibrant, orangey yellow colour that shimmered in the morning light. For a moment, I thought the leaves had turned to fall colours overnight, and then, the light moved and the shadows shifted and I saw it was just the sun kissing the leaves good morning.

It was beautiful.

I made coffee. Let Ellie the wonder pooch out and Marley the great cat in. Steamed my milk. Poured the milk and coffee into my favourite mug, walked down the hallway, (past the piano that still sits along one side forcing me to turn slightly sideways to get past), into my office and sat down to type.

And those are the only words I remember of the thoughts I had awoken to. The rest are lost.

Does that make me a loser?

The online Free Dictionary has many definitions for loser — one of them being — 2. a person or thing that seems destined to be taken advantage of, fail, etc. a born loser

In stopping to breathe into the beauty of the sun upon the crab apple tree was I destined to be taken advantage of by nature’s wonder and thus, in losing my early morning thoughts, become a loser born of morning’s bliss?

Or, in thinking about what makes a ‘winner’ versus a loser — and why is it important — am I given a gift to be explored that may require a few days, and a whole lot of trust in this process of filling a blog with my thoughts every morning.

And in the process of trusting the process of my morning writes, do I automatically win — even when the words I started to type are lost?

Yesterday I wrote about a space where C.C. and I stood in disagreement. In the writing it out, I was given the gift of clarity to see how my actions contributed to my unease, and to the dis-ease of our conversation. In writing it out, I was reminded of the importance of staying present, speaking my truth and not being attached to the outcome. Because agree or disagree, the answer to how to win, an argument, a fight, at life and relationship is always the same — Love one another.

Even when it feels like the hardest thing to do, Love one another.

Even when it seems impossible, Love one another.

Even when all appears lost, Love one another.

And in that Love, do the loving thing. Be it walking away, stepping closer, turning in another direction, calling an end to war, putting an end to pain, creating a new beginning, do the loving thing.

No matter what, no matter the circumstances, do the loving thing.

And don’t back down.

Because that’s what creates winners. That’s what turns losing into a win. Doing the loving thing, in all kinds of circumstances. At all times. In all places. Being the voice of Love in all kinds of weather.

I am 100% responsible for my 50% of all my relationships. I hold the key to my feeling like a winner, or a loser, in my own life — 100% of the time.

No one else can make feel like a loser. No one else gives me the power to be a winner, except me.

And how I feel is 100% up to me. How I act, is 100% up to me. What I do, say, create is 100% mine. And in my 100% may I always act, say, think, do and create in Love. May I always know the answer to every question, the one that will always create winners out of me and everyone around me is, Love.

 


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When in doubt, choose love over fear.

I have a prayer I whisper every morning when I awaken.

As I come into the awareness of the day, as my mind begins to stir and I begin to feel each heart beat calling me to arise, I close my eyes, open my heart and whisper, “Dear Universe. Open a new road to me today and keep me open to the gifts of the  unexpected.”

And then I take a breath. In. Out. And move with joy into my day.

At least, that’s how I like to enter my day every day, and on most days, it is. But there are, those days…

You know the ones. You wake up on the wrong side of happy. In the down side of blue. And the day just doesn’t look so sparkly.

It’s on those days I have to ‘act my way into a feeling’. It’s on those days I have to convince myself, not knowing what the day will bring is all part of the adventure.

I like adventure. I like mystery and magic but I do not like mayhem. And I do not like not knowing.

Which is what often creates the problems I encounter. Not knowing scares me and when I’m scared, I tend to act out, or withhold, or hold back, or hide, or run around in circles, or all of the above and then some.

Not knowing makes me uncomfortable. And when the not knowing involves another human being, it all just falls apart and mayhem ensues.

And I don’t like that.

Recently, C.C. and I had one of those conversations that got a little bit heated, a little bit testy. (okay — a lot)

Rather than stand in love and simply hear him out and let his truth be his truth, I got all uppity and self-righteous and kinda pissy. How dare he accuse me of doing something I did not do. Even if in his perception what I said and did amounted to what he felt and saw, I didn’t do it the way he perceived it — and I had to set him straight. Problem was, in his anger and hurt, setting him straight was not my job and it definitely wasn’t my best course of action. If what I wanted to create was love and harmony in our relationship, I sure went about it in a curious way.

Challenge is, in that moment of telling myself I was being attacked, I forgot all about what I want to create in our relationship and gave into my fears. And in my fear, I chose to defend, desist and disagree.

And what I did compounded what he did which confused what really happened leading up to all hell breaking loose in both of us being unable to hear the heart beat of the other.

When in doubt, choose love over fear.

I didn’t choose love. I chose to listen to my fear.

And my fear of being seen to be less than, unkind, mean, selfish, disruptive, argumentative, and a whole bunch of other adjectives I don’t like to wear, rushed to the forefront of my mind, stirring up all kinds of unrest.

In every disagreement there is a gift. In this instance, the gift was the opportunity to hear my beloved’s pain and sorrow and fear with an open and loving heart. Rather than trying to get him to hear my side of the story when he was all emotional about what he felt had happened, I could have chosen to stay present and thank him for sharing his feelings and thoughts.

I could have thanked him, and let him own his reactions, while I owned mine.

Isn’t that always the challenge when we argue or disagree with another? We desperately want them to see our point of view. Problem is, in our insistence that we are going to set it all straight, we are actively engaged in making them wrong, us right — and I don’t know about you, but I hate being ‘made wrong’. Heck. That’s what started the whole discourse! He had it all wrong and I wanted him to see how and why he had it all wrong! And I was powerful enough to change his mind.

Nope.

I’m not.

Powerful enough to change anyone’s mind.

All I can do is change mine. And rather than listen to the voice that would have me believe he’s got it wrong, I can choose to listen to the voice that whispers quietly in my heart, “Listen up Louise. Listen up and stay open to this new road opening up for you to discover how to create safety even in the darkness of your fear.”

And the best way to do that is…. close my eyes and walk in the dark so that I can hear my heart calling.

I avoided listening to my heart and found myself lost in anger, pain, fear and regret. Opening the eyes of my heart I see where I let my ego override my sense of wonder and awe and Love for my beloved. I see where his truth got lost in my insistence he had it all wrong.

It doesn’t really matter whether our ‘truths’ meet in the darkness. What matter most is our hearts connect in the light and beauty of Love. And the only way for that to happen is for me to close my eyes, open my heart and walk in Love.

 


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My Heart Knows Best

The mind is a tricky space. In one thought it can think small, in the next, go big. It can keep you looking at the past or dreaming of the future. It can hold you trapped in fear or open you up in courage. It can forgive or forget. It can build you up or tear you down. It can make room for adventure or keep you locked in the narrow confines of your comfort zone.

The mind is a tricky space.

Standing in the Choices circle on a Wednesday afternoon when trainees walk into the  room for the first time, I am always in awe of the beauty of the human spirit. People walk in, look around the room, take a seat as far from the front as they can. They hide behind that big guy in the cowboy hat. That woman with the pouffy hair. They sit hunched over, their bodies curved into themselves, their arms crossed against their chests. They sit with their feet on their seat bottoms, their knees tucked up against their chests. They hold their minds tightly closed to anyone getting in to their space, convinced that they’re not worth it or that they don’t deserve or shouldn’t have all that they ever dreamed of.

Some believe there is no more to get out of life. Some believe more isn’t possible. Some know they want more. They get that there is more, but so often they are terrified ‘more’ will never be what they get — except for the more of what they’ve always had. And why would they want more of that? It’s the more of what they’ve always had that is hurting them.

And then, slowly, awkwardly, painfully, gracefully, joyfully, quickly — the speed is individual to each, they start to get it. They start to feel, to see, to believe, different is possible.

They start to experience an opening, an awakening, a sense of possibility slipping into the empty spaces where fear once held reign, that better IS possible. It could be as early as Wednesday afternoon. During the night. Thursday morning. Sometime that day, or the next, the next or the next. It’s always different for every one. That moment when they start to feel the breath of an idea taking hold that, I’m not alone, or lonely.  I’m not crazy, or stupid.  I’m not hard-hearted, or sad.  I’m not horrible, or awkward.  I’m not lost or displaced.  I don’t belong, or am out of step with the world.

And in that opening they begin to realize, they are not alone and they are human, living their condition to the best that they’ve been taught. They start to see the thing that is holding them back, the thing that has been keeping them trapped in the past, in fear, in shame, in impossibility is their mind and its tricky thinking.

It is a beautiful thing. To see minds open up to possibility. To feel fear slipping away. To hear hearts begin to beat in harmony with hope pounding a rhythm of all they’ve ever dreamed of calling them to step free of what was holding them back.

It is a beautiful thing to watch a smile grow upon the face of a woman who once believed abuse was all she deserved. Or to hear a man who once believed only anger would keep him safe begin to laugh with joy. Or to see a couple who had turned their backs on each other, embrace one another in Love.

It is a beautiful thing.

I have just spent five days immersed in the wonder and awe and beauty of the human spirit coming alive in the Choices room. And I am in Love.

In love with my fellow team mates who stood in the circle on Wednesday afternoon and held fast to the three rules we were given. Love the people when they walk in the room. Love the people when they walk in the room. Love the people when they walk in the room.

Even when some of them don’t make it easy. Even when they don’t believe they are loveable or deserving or worthy of being loved.

Love the people when they walk in the room and hold fast to love through every moment of every day, through every process and every word and every action.

Hold fast to Love.

And I am in Love with each and every trainee who stepped into that circle not knowing what or if there was anything there for them, but who, because someone they knew had asked, or told, or suggested they go, was willing to risk the unknown to see if there was anything there for them — and then discovered everything was already there, right inside themselves — they just needed the right questions, and the space and time to explore their own answers.  And who, in looking inwards discovered they really did deserve it, were worthy of it, could have it and all they ever dreamed of.

What an amazing week. What an incredible gift — to stand in the circle at the end of Sunday, and feel connected to the hearts of everyone around me. To feel free and joyful and absolutely convinced — better is possible. More is an open door. The future an uncharted map where I have the ability, capacity and the right to make my own dreams come true.

I stood in that circle yesterday and I knew — there is no place in the world where I feel more safe, more complete, more open, vulnerable and Loved than in that circle.

It wasn’t magic. It wasn’t some trick or sleight of hand that made it happen. It wasn’t some magic potion or subliminal message beamed across the airwaves contorting reality into an altered state.

It was Love.

And Love doesn’t live in my head. It isn’t my mind convincing me to let go of reality.

It was my heart whispering its truth, its hopes, its dreams.

My mind may be a tricky space, but always, my heart knows better. Because always, my heart knows best.

Namaste.


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Miracles at Work

One of the things Kerry Parsons asked me the other day was, “When do you feel most connected?”

My answer flowed without hesitation from my heart, “When I am immersed in the creative process. Be it writing, painting, or any type of creative endeavour.” And then, I paused and added, “And when I am coaching at Choices.”

This morning, I shall begin the gift of five amazing days to be immersed in the Choices seminar room. It is a beautiful time of watching hearts break open, minds expand and spirits learn to soar free again. It is a healing time. A time to connect with others in the delicate dance of being a light for others to find their way into their hearts so they can remember their true magnificence. As I said to a friend the other day when we were talking about what it means to live on purpose, “My belief is we come into this world as miracles of life. We are born magnificent and then, we forget. Life happens. Time and space and circumstances intercede and disconnect us to our birthright. We grow up forgetting who we are born to be and then, spend the rest of our lives trying to remember what it is we forgot.”

At Choices, I get to be part of miracles unfolding with every breath. I get to immerse myself in the ultimate of creative experiences of witnessing hopes and dreams and a sense of wonder and awe awakening in every person in the room.

It is an exciting time. A time to pay attention, to be present, to be of service. it is a time of miracles.

And, it is also a time of long days, short nights, fast sleeps.

It is unlikely I will be posting here in the next few days — unless of course I get home and am so excited by all that I’ve witnessed through the day I can’t sleep and decide the only way to get it out is write it out!

In the event that happens, I’ll see you here!  If not, I’ll see you Monday morning.

May you remember your magnificence. May you know you are a miracle. May you feel the wonder and awe of life expressing itself through your beauty and grace with every breath you take.

Namaste.


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Turn up. Pay attention. Speak the truth and stay unattached to the outcome.

For much of my life, I have not been at comfort with speaking my truth. Getting better, but it’s still not a comfortable place for me to stand.

Which is why, whenever I’m faced with the opportunity to speak up, I do my best to do it.

Which is why, whenever I’m faced with the opportunity to speak up, and don’t, the angst of the lost opportunity to be fearless sticks deep within me, rubbing against my peace of mind, creating angst in my inner world.

Thankfully, I have friends like Kerry Parsons who, when I reach out for guidance, reach back with kindness and love, illuminating the path for me to see into the darkness of my fears.

Yesterday, as I drove Ellie to the park for her walk, tears started flowing from my eyes. Unbidden, they blurred my vision and, let’s be truthful here, made me a tad dangerous on the road. Now, I am not prone to driving and crying so when the tears started, I got a wee bit anxious about their presence. But, since the flood, I have been noticing a tendency to be teary, for no apparent reason, enveloping me.

What the….?

I put it down to the connection between the aftermath of that relationship that was killing me and the angst of people losing so many things.

But I knew it went deeper. I just didn’t now how deep she’d go.

Thank goodness for my friend Kerry. One call and I was welcomed into her cozy living room where I spent an enlightening hour seated in my favourite comfy love-seat, chatting about ‘What’s going on with Louise.”

In her deep-hearted listening, I found my answers.

I was moving through a trigger point. A deeply seated space of learning from the past that was triggered even before the floods. In our exploration of what was going on, I discovered the trigger point began earlier in June when I stood in front of a crowd of angry community members — and fell under the spell of their onslaught. I didn’t realize it at the time, in fact, I thought I’d handled it all pretty well. And I had. But, the aftershock of those events left me reeling in the muck of a childhood belief that would have me believe, I am helpless in the face of chaos. In my childhood adapted responses to anger and fear and confusion, I believed I had few possibilities to affect change, to be heard, to be seen. I either had to: 1) protect myself, or 2) fix everything around me. And, if all else failed, run away and hide.

I am an intuitive being. I listen and watch and feel from deep within me the energies around me. When I am aligned, when I am moving and being from my essential self, my world moves in harmony with me. When I run into fear, when I allow myself to fall into confusion and helplessness, my world tilts off-kilter, my peace of mind spins out of control and I become despondent and disconnected.

In my altered state, it doesn’t matter what peppy talk I give myself about “getting over it”, I can’t hear the voice of reason, I only hear the voices of the past, whispering that I must run to safe ground, get away from what I’m feeling to wallow in the sands of time drifting through my mind.

I am blessed.

I know me. And I have people in my life who are willing to know me too. And in their knowing ‘of me’, they don’t offer advice and pithy comments about what to do to get over myself, they offer a safe and courageous space for me to explore my demons, for me to walk fearlessly into ‘what’s going on within me’, so that I can once again get out of my own way and live from that place of authenticity and powerfulness that resides in each and every one of us, but too often gets over-shadowed by the past masquerading as the present.

I found myself running from the darkness yesterday. I found myself careening out of control in the byways and alleyways of the past where once upon a time, I felt helpless. In my finding myself there, I found the light I need to move through my angst and carry on, bravely, peacefully and lovingly into the present.

In every situation there are gifts. The gift I found yesterday is that where once I believed I must either protect, fix or runaway, I know the truth of who I am is not in fixing or disappearing. The truth is, there is nothing to fear. There is nothing to defend against, hide from or run away from. I do not have to stand against anything to know peace. All I have to do is turn up, pay attention, speak my truth and stay unattached to the outcome.

When I stand up, speak up and make space for all truth to be known, I create a world of wonder, a world of possibility, a world where no matter what is going on, I matter enough to me to stay true to who I am without fearing that who I am is helpless.

I’m not helpless. I am powerful beyond my wildest imaginings. I am free. And I am grateful.

Namaste.

 


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My guiding light.

I have been running a race. Against time. Against myself. Against an unseen opponent. Running in the ‘fear fog’ as my daughters’ friend De calls it in her blog, 7 days. That space where my mind wants me to believe it’s in control, that it knows best, that listening to my heart is not wise.

My heart is wise. My head is strong — and it gets lead astray too easily by my thinking I don’t know my heart.

My head has been telling me I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. I’m not — tall enough, smart enough, young enough, educated enough, wise enough. My head has been shutting down my heart, advising it to stop beating so deeply. To just ‘go with the flow’ and let be.

Except, in my mind’s space, letting go and letting be is very different than in my heart-space.

Letting go and letting be in my heart-space comes from a place of wisdom, of compassion, of knowing and Love.

In my mind’s space, it comes from fear. In my mind’s space, letting go is all about denial, ignoring what is, refusing to feel what is possible when I let go of fear.

In my heart space, it’s all about being present. Of being aware of fear’s seductive call driving me to not — do, be, become — all that I dream of — and letting courage draw me into that space where my heart knows that all I dream of is possible when I — do, be, become — all that I dream of.

I have been wandering aimlessly through the ‘fear fog’, letting the past cloud my present and my presence to each  moment.

I felt it last night at dinner when my beautiful friend Kerry Parsons was sharing stories of the Healing Circles she’d held in Elbow Park, one of the areas hit badly by the floods a few weeks ago. We talked about community building, and spaces opening up and how, in the aftermath of such intense connection, people immediately race to fill in the spaces that opened up with what was, rather than what is possible if we just hold the space open.

And then she asked me, “And how are you doing in the aftermath?”

And I felt the space open up.

Ten years ago I awoke to my life with 72 cents in my pockets, a few clothes in a suitcase and my golden retriever Ellie at my side. I had lost everything. I didn’t even own a fork and knife.

There was something very freeing about being ‘without’. Freeing and liberating and terrifying. I remember deciding to rebuild on my terms. To reclaim what worked, and to let go of what didn’t. I have been incredibly blessed. My daughters have forgiven me for the pain I caused them and today, our relationship is stronger and deeper than it ever was in the past.

And, I have been blessed with family and friends who love me. With a man whose heart is true and who sees me through eyes of love. I have a home, work I love, and lots of belongings. In fact, from not owning even a fork and knife, I now have a houseful of stuff!  Some of which I keep working on getting rid of!

But still, my heart has been disquieted by the events of the flood. So many memories of what it feels like to lose everything, especially those things that hold such meaning — like my years and years worth of journals that I kept from the time I was 18. Or the book of poetry I wrote in my 20s. and the mementoes of my daughters’ birth and growing years. Gone.

But more than the stuff, it is the reminder of the pain I caused the two people I love most in the world. I have been stirring those dark and dank places where fear rots the foundation of my peace of mind.

I have been willful.

I have been disruptive to my own sense of grace.

I write this not to get your advice, or to have you tell me I’m okay — I know I’m okay. I write this because I know that acknowledging where the fear fog is clouding my sense of well-being is the only way to move through it. I write this because I know that in breathing into this space and allowing fear to be present, even in my unease, makes space for fear to ease away into that space where I have the courage to create my best life yet, today. Acknowledging where I have been disquieted by the past allows my heart to release fears hold on my present.

I am blessed. I am grateful. I am coming up for air. I am stopping the race away from what I fear and stepping with ease of mind and peaceful heart into this space where I become my own best friend, my greatest ally, my emergent companion.

I am letting go of the fear of what was, and never will be again, to embrace what is and always will be my guiding light, Love.

PS!  Big news. My daughter got a message last night, her building has been approved for habitation. She gets to move back home 2 weeks earlier than expected! Hip! Hip! Hurray!  (though I’ll miss her 🙂 )


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What a difference a day makes.

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday, I awoke after a restless sleep, my head heavy and foggy, my nose dripping, my cough annoying. “Oh no!” I thought. “My cold has gone in the wrong direction. Instead of weakening, it’s decided to kick-start a new phase.”

Turns out, it wasn’t my cold getting worse, it was an allergic reaction to the new bug repellent I just bought.

Go figure. It was really good at keeping the flying, biting, annoying bugs that fly about looking for tasty morsels of flesh to bite into away, but was causing a whole new buggy reaction in my body.

Much better this morning.

What a difference a day makes.

And it is true. A day can make an enormous difference.

Look at what happened here in Calgary. Four weeks ago yesterday, rains fell in torrents, rivers swelled and flood waters ravaged our city.

One month later, the sun shines, people are rebuilding, and life continues on.

But not without consequence.

My daughter, who was evacuated on the first day of the flooding, continues to live at home. The latest update on her move back date puts her at another 3 weeks displaced. She was lucky. She lives on the fourth floor of her building. The entire first floor was flooded and those residents lost most of their belongings and won’t be able to move back in for several more months. There are many homes and condos in the same condition. Months away from moving back in, they have had to find other living accommodations. The already tight vacancy rate in Calgary is now practically non-existent. One of my co-workers, whose apartment was flooded and then deemed uninhabitable due to asbestos in the walls, is 145th on a waiting list for one apartment he was looking at.

Others face even more dire circumstances. They lost not only most of their possessions, they lost their homes. The damage too great to restore, they must rebuild from the ground up. Businesses remain closed with many facing huge financial losses and a precarious, or unlikely future.

Yet, in the grand scheme of the aftermath of such a disaster, we have fared well. Compared to other places in the world where hundreds if not thousands of lives are lost in flooding, Calgary had one death with Southern Alberta having an additional three due to flooding. We did not have mass graves and funerals. We are grieving the loss of ‘things’, but not the loss of people. We were not forced to boil our water even. Our water works people spent hours in the water of the treatment plant, manually keeping logs and debris out of the system.

This is an amazing city I live in. It’s people are resilient, cooperative and compassionate. And, we bounce back.

Just like me this morning.

Yesterday, I awoke and thought my head weighed more than my body. Today, I’m feeling fine. Still some dregs of my cold linger but they are just minor annoyances that remind me to take care of me.

For those still impacted by the floods, they still face an uphill road to recovery. But the worst has passed. The journey is getting less arduous. The recovery less onerous. As they rebuild and reclaim much of what was lost, it’s important to remember, this too shall pass.

Tomorrow is another day. And what a difference a day makes.

Namaste.