Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Freakingly Fabulous Friday!

IMG_5778

The Freakingly Fabulous Diana!

My eldest daughter arrives home for a visit today. Isn’t that freakin’ fabulous?

My sister flew in last night. yup. F.F.

Tomorrow night, we will celebrate my mother’s 92nd birthday — all of us together.  My sisters, daughters, C.C., his daughter and her boyfriend – How freakingly fabulous is that?

The only ones missing will be C.C.’s son who is at The Peak Performance Band Camp, (more freakin’ fabulous stuff!) and of course, my nieces who live far away.

Yesterday, I met up with the amazing Diana of Talk to Diana for a glass of wine, a nibbly and lots of wonderful conversation. More freakin’ fabulosity!

I met Diana when I was working at a homeless shelter here in the city and she was the Director of Fund Development for a different shelter. We hit it off right away. From her compassionate approach to finding common ground, to her sharp intuitive ability to divine what’s really at stake, Diana makes a difference in my life, and the world.

One of the things I admire most about Diana is her capacity to see the big picture, and still keep the ‘little guy’ in the frame. Whether its the small not for profit agency struggling to execute on their mission or the charitable juggernaut striking new ground in the philanthropic sweepstakes, Diana can see how all the pieces fit together and understands the value of each perspective and their interrelatedness. Diana cares about making the world a better place, and lives by example. Big time.

A couple of hours with Diana and I find myself refreshed and reinvigorated. I want to take on the world and create better with every breath I take. It is one of her many gifts. To inspire people to embrace the truth of their capacity to make a difference.

As I walked back downtown to where my car was parked, I felt lighter, sunnier, calmer. Don’t you love spending time with someone who inspires you and lifts you up? Yup. Freakin’ Fabulous!

This morning, I will drop my sister off to visit our mother while I go off to pick up Alexis at the airport. From there, Alexis and I will drive to the hospice where her father’s mother is being cared for. Five weeks ago, she was told she had a week to live. While the prognosis has not changed, she has hung on long enough for Alexis to get here to say a final goodbye. And I think that is freakin’ fabulous. My daughters’ other grandmother turned 94 at the beginning of the month, a few days after the doctors gave her the final diagnosis. It has been a stressful and sad time for both my daughters to see the lives of their grandmothers inevitably towards their endings.

And yet, what a gift.

They have been blessed with having these two remarkable women in their lives for 26 and 28 years. They have lived the value of family ties unbroken through their childhood into teens and now into young women striking off to carve their own paths through life.

Both their grandmothers have played active roles in their formative years. From summer holidays spent wandering the beaches of Vancouver Island to playing dress-up and listening to stories of exotic places, through time spent with their grandmothers and their aunts, my daughters have had the gift of time with generations of women who love and care for them beyond my greatest imaginings.

I only met my mother’s mother once when she came from India to visit us for three months when we were living in France and I was in my early teens. My father had a distant and strained relationship with his mother and we never met her, even though, for awhile, we lived in England where she lived too.

I wanted different for my daughters. I wanted them to know their roots ran deep, their family ties were indestructible. Because of these two women, they have lived with the value of family ties binding them through the generations. And I think that is freakin’ fabulous!

This evening, while my daughters go off to a friend’s birthday party, my eldest sister, Jackie, is coming over to join Anne and me in the studio to help in the making of paper butterflies for mom’s party tomorrow night.

I have a vision. I’m going to drape a sheer blue cloth above the table and hanging starlights above it. We’ll suspend the butterflies we’ll be making tonight on the other side of the cloth and with flowers and photos, create a mystical, magical scene for mom to enjoy.

I’m looking for freakin’ fabulous! And I know, it won’t be the decor that makes it so. It will be family (though making it beautiful is so freakin’ fun it sure makes a difference!)

How blessed I am.

And grateful.

May you have a freakingly fabulous weekend. May it be filled with wonder and awe, and may you find your heart skipping wildly in love with the world around you.

Namaste.

 

 

 


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And my heart skipped a beat

Art Journal Entry August 27, 2014 The Possibility of Flight

Art Journal Entry
August 27, 2014
The Possibility of Flight

I have been exploring open eye meditation. Stepping into the sacred silence with my eyes wide-open.

It is challenging. Being in this place where I am not at ease. Staying in this space where my mind, intent on its mission to see what is beyond, wants to wander away from finding peace.

Like anything new, it takes practice. Patience. Persistence.

Ugh. I’d rather just close my eyes and tune my eyes looking out, inward.

And I prevail.

This morning, as I meditated, a thought went scampering through my mind. Well, actually… truth is, many thoughts scampered through my mind, it’s just this one took hold and begged a question be asked!

Yesterday, C.C. was in Vancouver on business. When he is engaged in working, he is extremely single-minded on what he is doing. Taking time to check-in is not high on his agenda. Yesterday was no exception.

In meditation this morning, that little vignette skittered through my mind. I noticed how I am not holding onto resentment or anger over what in the past I have judged as lack of consideration, thoughtlessness, or awareness of my presence in his life. I did notice however that my awareness of its happening was still with me. I noticed that underneath the situation, there is a current, a thread, a belief that is unrelated to what is happening now.

“What about this situation is connecting to something from the past?”, my curious mind asked.

A feeling arose from within me. It had no name, no label. All it had was tears.

Ahh, my heart whispered. You are remembering feeling invisible, unseen, unimportant.

My tears whispered back a quiet, ‘yes’.

Are you invisible? my heart gently asked.

No, my tears responded.

So you know the truth, my heart stated. You are not invisible. Unseen. Unimportant.

Awoken to the truth, my mind had no problem responding. Yes. That is true.

What is underneath the lie? my heart prodded.

The answer slipped in with the ease of an autumn leaf falling to the ground. Sadness.

Slip into it, my heart urged. Wear it. Embrace it. Become this sadness. Explore it. How deep is it? What colour? Texture? Can you see in it? Through it? Over it?

And I slipped quietly into the sea of sadness that lay calmly beneath the surface of my awareness. It did not flow. It simply held space. Warm. Serene. A misty blue, it felt silky against my skin. It was not deep. I could easily slip through it to the other side where sunshine flooded a field of wildflowers gently swaying in the breeze.

Knowing its limits, I rested silently in its presence, breathing into its essence within me.

Is it all of you? my heart asked.

I smiled. No. It is simply a presence. An element of my being that sometimes surfaces to remind me that within me is a sea of memory that holds sway when I let go of what is true for me today.

And what is true for you today? my heart asked.

And I breathed deeply, a sigh of relief flooding my body in the remembering of my truth.

I am loved. I am loving. I am Love.

And my heart skipped a beat and leapt for joy.

Not bad for a girl who was resisting meditating with her eyes wide-open!

 


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A gift from the quiet hours before the dawn

coyote

In a burst of exuberance, the wind swept down from the mountains 
whispering stories of faraway places.

“Runaway with me and I will show you the world!” the wind called out and Coyote laughed.
“Here is where I run free,” he told the wind. And the wind blew on and Coyote ran free.

Art Journal Entry, August 26, 2014

There was a time when she believed if she could just be somewhere else other than where she was, everything would be okay.

There was a time when she wished for nothing more than to be someone else other than who she was.

What she couldn’t see in looking for another way of being is that no matter what she wished for, she could never be anyone else other than who she was.

What she couldn’t see was that the parts of her that didn’t fit her well in this place, would not fit her any better in another.

Fearful that she would never find her way, she attempted to jettison her past, extricate herself from being herself to become someone she thought others wanted her to be. “Perhaps if you change directions, or even just your clothes, you’ll find yourself another way,” her nimble mind whispered like the wind blowing down from the mountains, calling her to run away.

And she ran, and ran and still she found herself where ever she was at, trying to run away from the one she could never leave behind, herself.

“Perhaps if you simply stand true to who you are, stay present to what is here in this moment, you’ll find yourself right where you’re at,” her loving heart whispered into the howling of the wind.

Frightened by her heart’s calling and tired of constantly running away, she fell to the ground and rested right where she was at. And in her sleep, her heart beat strong, and her mind grew restful as the truth of who she is set her free to run wild like the wind through her dreams.

“There is nothing to fear in being you,” her heart whispered. “Who you are is who you’ve always been. Perfectly human in all your human imperfections. Beauty and the beast. Loving and loved. A child of the universe, seeking her way into the light of her own brilliance shining brightly on the path of her creation.”

Like coyote and the wind, there is always a calling to venture into another space, some distant place where what is here will not be there. It isn’t until I quit searching for somewhere else to be that I discover, everything I need to be free is here right now, because, no matter where I go, I am where ever I am at.

**************************

The painting and story above came from my meditation. Like the caterpillar story yesterday which came from a dream where I awoke with the image of the unhappy caterpillar and his desire to be anything other than himself,  the image of the coyote slipped through my mind as I sat in silence.

I was seeking a peaceful mind and still the wind blew in.

I tried to push it away. Instead, it insisted on leaving its mark in the form of a coyote, the trickster of Native American lore. I asked coyote what he had to tell me, and the image and story were born.

In my practice, both here on the written page and on my art journal page, I have learned to trust in the process. To allow the words, and images, to appear without trying to discern them before they flow.

It can be challenging. I like to control. I like to dictate, to organize, to force and cajole things into being, just so. I also like to judge what I create. Measure its worth against some unseen yardstick in my mind.

Learning to trust in the process without judgement means, learning to trust in me.

A big leap.

Which is probably why, when I awoke at 3:30 this morning with the image of a cliff in my mind, the words appeared, “Leaping off the edge of what she knew to be true, she found herself believing in the possibility of flight.”

What a lovely gift to find upon awakening in the quiet hours before the dawn.


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How to spin your own dreams

Art Journal August 24, 2014 The caterpillar cannot fly free, until it learns to spin its own dreams

Art Journal August 24, 2014
The caterpillar cannot fly free, until it learns to spin its own dreams

When my daughters were little I wrote them a story about an unhappy caterpillar who cried and cried all the time. One day, his tears fell on a leaf fairy sleeping on a leaf. Surprised by the sudden rain pouring on her head, she awoke and demanded to know why the caterpillar was crying.

“I hate being a caterpillar,” the unhappy fellow wailed. “I hate it. Hate it,” and he shook his tiny body ferociously and cried some more.

“If you weren’t a caterpillar what would you rather be?” asked the leaf fairy.

“What a stupid question,” said the caterpillar. “How can I be anything else? I’m stuck in this body.”

“Well, I’m a fairy and I’ve got magic and I can turn you into anything you want,” the leaf fairy told him. She wasn’t used to being questioned so she had a bit of attitude around her response.

The Caterpillar thought about this for a moment. Magic. Hmmm… Anything he wanted…. Well in that case. “A rose,” the caterpillar promptly replied and poof, she changed him into a beautiful red rose.

Alas, the rose was prickly and thorny. No one could get close to him. He wanted to be more… likeable. He cried again and asked to be turned into an iris.

The iris, however, was too blue. He was tired of being blue all the time and wanted something happier. Like being a bright, sunny faced daisy he pleaded with the leaf fairy.

The leaf fairy agreed to do it (but he was wearing her out) but even then the caterpillar was dissatisfied. The daisy had lots of arms to reach out and touch people with, but it was rooted to the ground.

Just then a brilliantly coloured butterfly flitted by. The caterpillar watched her in awe and then he knew what he really wanted to be. He wanted to be a beautiful butterfly with gossamer wings that shimmered in the sun, free to fly wherever he wanted.

He pleaded his case one more time with the leaf fairy. “Okay,” she said, “but you’re tiring me out. This is the last magic I can do for you today.”

The caterpillar closed his eyes and waited. The leaf fairy spoke the magic words, sprinkled leaf dust all over him and when he opened his eyes anticipating wings to fly free, the caterpillar wailed in dismay. He was a caterpillar once again.

“I told you I wanted to be a butterfly,” he cried. “I hate being a caterpillar.”

“You are a butterfly,” the leaf fairy told him. “Inside you there is a beautiful pair of wings waiting to be free. But first, you must learn to spin your own dreams.”

Sometimes, I have not believed I could fly. Sometimes, I have clung to my disbelief in the possibility of change as I held steadfast to my resistance to dream. Sometimes, I have embraced the lie that I am not powerful enough to make my dreams come true, and sometimes, I have grounded myself so deeply in my fear of flying, I haven’t even bothered to try to stretch my wings for fear I will fall.

Regardless of the reasons why I haven’t catapulted my dreams into reality, when my dreams don’t come true the way I want them to, I have a choice. To find value in what is, or…. to hold still, take a deep breath, and keep on spinning my dreams into reality.

When dreams don’t come true, it’s because the dreamer spun in a different direction, changed their course, or simply gave up spinning in any direction at all or perhaps it’s because they were spinning cotton, not silk.

Today, I commit to spinning my dreams in the direction of my goals. Today, I choose to affirm, my dreams are mine to spin in every colour of the rainbow.

Today, I commit to spreading my wings. I don’t know their full extent until I reach beyond the edges of my imagination, out into the universe where dreams come true because I’m willing to spin my own dreams.


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Dancing on the Hands of Time

Art Journal August 23, 2014 Dancing on the hands of time

Art Journal
August 23, 2014
Dancing on the hands of time

“Stealing a glance at time passing away, she awoke.”

I took my mother some coloured pens and other drawing materials yesterday. Don’t you love it when you have a spark of brilliance — later rather than sooner? 🙂

I remember her telling me long ago how when she was young, she loved to draw and paint. It must run in the family. Her brother,  my Uncle Jojo as well as one of her sisters, Auntie Evelyn, both love to paint as well, as do some of my cousins.

It’s in my blood.

Like so many aspects of me, my preferences today are founded on the learnings of the past, those connections that tie me inextricably to the family circle into which I was born.

While I was visiting with her yesterday, I showed her the supplies I brought, and true to my mother, the first thing she wants to make is a card for a friend of my sister, who has as my mother says, “Never forgotten my birthday.”

My mother is big on gratitude. Always.

I like gratitude too. Gratitude is good for my heart. It lightens my spirit and fills my day with blessings.

Last night, as I was leaving the hospital, I stuck my parking pass into the big machine by the parkade’s front door and waited for the instruction to insert my credit card. At the machine beside me, a woman muttered to herself as she tried to figure out what to do. Speaking to the machine and waving her credit card in the air in front of it, she asked, “so where am I supposed to put this?”

“It goes here,” I said and showed her the slot which happened to be the same slot the parking pass went into. It wasn’t very well indicated as to its dual purpose.

“Oh thank you,” she said with a sheepish grin. “I’m from Olds. I’m just a country bumpkin.” (Olds is a small town about an hours drive north of the city.)

“I’ve done it too,” I told her. “They don’t mark it very well.”

She smiled and thanked me and we parted.

It is such a simple phrase. “Thank you.” And yet, it can make the heart so light.

Last week, while at the United Way to give a presentation, I was handed an envelope someone had sent me, using the United Way’s address for my contact. It was from a man who was in one of the courses I used to teach at the homeless shelter when I worked there. He had been in a presentation I’d given last spring to at a workplace campaign. In his note he told me how well he’s doing in his life now, and how he thanks me for playing a key role in his moving out of where he was at into his life today. “Keep poking people,” he wrote. “It works.”

I smiled when I got his note. My heart was thankful and my spirit felt bright.

I don’t remember specifically what happened with this man. the details are not important. What is important is the time he took to express his gratitude and the gratefulness my heart feels in receiving his gift. I am grateful that in his remembering me, my heart has been touched by gratitude. Both for the opportunity to make a difference, and to know that difference moved someone to step beyond the boundaries of where they were at, to live free of the past.

We never know what we do or say that will touch someone in a way that will help them open their eyes and see possibility.

Once, when I was in the deep, deep darkness of that relationship that was killing me, a police detective told me that what I was experiencing wasn’t love. “Love doesn’t hurt like that,” he said.

At the time, I wasn’t ready or able to hear his words, but, once the man was arrested and I got my life back, it was his words that gave me the courage to step out from under the darkness of abuse into living freely.

I have never been able to personally thank that detective so instead, I made the commitment years ago, to express my gratitude through acts of service that make a difference in the world. It feeds my heart and lightens my spirit.

It is one of the many blessings of being free. I can choose to be and do in the world more of what I want to have — joy, love, peace, harmony — and let go of the things I don’t want, the things that don’t serve me, or the world, well — regret, sorrow, bitterness, anger…

I am grateful today for the lives I’ve touched and the lives that have touched me — all of them. Because that’s the thing about gratitude, even the touches that hurt have value. Their gift is found in the freedom I know today.

Blessings on your day.

PS. We are hopeful mom will be out of the hospital tomorrow. I am grateful for the amazing care she has received and the kindness and prayers and well-wishes of all of you here, and on FB. Thank you.

 

 


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Today’s Quote

Love this quote — so very powerful.

Soul Gatherings

impact

I am only one,
but still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

~ Edward Everett Hale ~
_____________________________

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The bridge of compassion

She put on lipstick.

Brushed her hair.

Applied a little blush.

“You look beautiful,” I told my mother when I arrived to visit her at the hospital yesterday.

Definitely much better than on Tuesday when my sister and I wondered if she’d ever be able to get out of bed again.

That is the thing about blessings and kindness (and good medical care). When the heart is open to receive, Love flows freely. And with its flow, in no time at all, healing begins.

She is getting out of bed. They’ve taken out the IV, and she is eating better than she has in a long while. Even though “the food is terrible,” she says. And she scrunches up her face into a look of disgust, waves her arthritic fingers in the air as if brushing away something foul.

Which given her estimation of the culinary efforts of the hospital kitchen, is probably what my mother is doing, brushing away an ill-smelling memory.

It is one of her habitual responses — to throw her hands into the air, brush away imaginary cobwebs of confusion and say,  “Let’s not talk about that.”  or “Let’s not bring that up again.”

And while my mother and I have many similar traits, this is the one that sits between us, irritating whatever fragile peace we’d managed to claim in our often turbulent relationship.

I want to ‘deal with things’, get them out in the open, deconstruct and dissect to discard. My mother would rather just leap to the discard.

In the past, I have judged her harshly for her desire to discard. How can something heal if you do not acknowledge its existence? I’d ask when she would ask me why I have to bring that up, again.

Because to learn from it, I need to see what it is, I would reply.

I don’t want to talk about it anymore. What’s done is done. Nothing can change it.

Yes but…

And I would insist on pushing into it, pulling it apart, pushing it through to the other side.

For my mother, that felt harsh, cruel, mean.

For me, it felt constructive. It wasn’t personal. I simply needed to understand in order to learn. Believing that I cannot heal or change what I do not acknowledge, I wanted to speak of what it was that was causing me so much distress.

Except, when looking to heal a relationship, or build a bridge between two differing points of view, talking over the other person’s point of view only creates more of what caused the rift in the first place — discord, differing points of view, decidedly different perspectives.

It isn’t that either point of view is wrong. it is simply that they are different.

Yesterday, as I sat and chatted with my mother and my youngest daughter who was visiting with her boyfriend, I marvelled at how different the view is when no matter my perspective, I step out of judgement to see the people around me through a compassionate and loving heart.

When I let go of having to prove I’m right, the world rights itself to that place where it is not our differences that connect us, it is the thing we share that can never be broken, our family circle united in Love.