Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Plant seeds of love

When my daughters were little girls I loved to make up fairytales for them. One such story I wrote for them was called, “The Heart Rock”.

The abridged story goes like this…

Once upon a time, there lived a little flaxen-haired girl with a heart of gold. Her smile had the power to make flowers blossom and hearts melt in love. In the kingdom next to where she lived, there was a king with a heart of stone whose lands were dying. His peasants were sickly and the cattle weak. Believing that if he could own the little girl’s heart of gold he would have all the riches in the world, he ordered his minions to kidnap her. “Cut out her heart” he told his surgeon.

But the surgeon couldn’t do it. In the light of the young girl’s smile, his heart melted, and he let her escape with the promise to not leave the King’s land.

To the King’s surprise, not knowing the girl was wandering his lands, everything began to flourish. One day while out riding and surveying his lands which were suddenly verdant and rich with bounty, he met the young girl as she ministered to a sickly calf. In her loving hands the calf stood up and ran off to find its mother. The King was surprised. How did she do that?

He dismounted and approached the young girl. “Who are you?” he asked. And the young girl told him of being kidnapped and released by the surgeon who could not cut out her heart.

For a moment, a blinding fury raged through the king’s heart. He would have the surgeon beheaded. And as the black clouds of his anger passed through him, the young girl watched his face turn red and the veins in his neck pop out. Not at all frightened by his ill-temper, she reached out and touched the king’s hand and smiled so softly and sweetly at him. “It’s okay,” she said. “I like living here. The people are so warm and loving and kind. What would make it perfect would be to have my family here too.”

The king stared at her in consternation. What? She was not frightened of his anger? And then he felt  an odd sensation as he felt the warmth of her hand against his skin and her smile touch his heart.

And his heart melted.

He didn’t have her captured again. Nor did he cut off the surgeon’s head. In fact, overcome with feelings of love he’d never experienced before, he held a feast in honor of the little girl and her golden heart and even named a school after her. Which was extraordinary because in the past he’d never allowed schools in his kingdom because he didn’t see the need to teach his peasants anything other than to scrabble in the hard earth of the land, scratching what living they could eke out from their labor.

Her family came to the feast and the king set aside land just for them and everyone lived happily ever after proving, that even a heart of stone can be warmed in loving hands.

Where are you letting the hard rock places in your life harden your heart? Are you willing to soften your heart and plant seeds of love in your life today?

Try this!

As you’re out and about during the day, go somewhere where the earth is covered in rocks (like a river bank, a rocky beach). Look for heart rocks on the ground. Pick one up, hold it in your hand and feel it warm up as you hold it. Let your warmth seep into the rock, and once it’s nice and warm, pass it on to someone else. As you pass the rock along, your warmth, aka Love, will be shared with the world around you.

Hearts will melt and love will grow.

Namaste.


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You and your magnificence

The title of this post comes from a post I wrote on April 30th, 2007. The original title was, “You take God’s Breath away.” The phrase comes from a woman I met who when asked, ‘what’s your purpose?’ replied, “I want to show everyone they are so incredible they take God’s breath away.”  (Thank you KR)

I remember hearing her say that and feeling my heart stop in startled recognition of the power of her statement. I remember feeling caught off guard, surprised, and fascinated.

I remember the voice of Love inside me whisper, “It’s true.”

And I remember in the next breath worrying about whether it was true or not. I remember thinking, ‘Is it that easy? I take God’s breath away, just because I am, me?”

Since writing the original post my awareness of and awareness in our human magnificence has grown. My understanding of and compassion for how we all do things to hide from, shy away from, pretend it doesn’t exist and thus run-away from our magnificence, has also grown.

We are all so very human.

We fight the truth.

We ignore it.

We subvert it.

We try to kill it, destroy it, tear it out and rip it up into a thousand pieces.

We try to bomb the hell out of it. Massacre it. Shoot it up, knock it down and blow it to smithereens.

We think it may be true for others, and worry it will never be true for us.

We worry that to be our magnificence will only encourage others to pull us down, and so we hold ourselves down, and back, from being our true selves.

But no matter how hard we try to avoid it or make it not true, there is no avoiding the truth.

We are all magnificent.

We are born that way.

We don’t have to do anything to ‘deserve it’. Earn it. Create it. Make it.

It is not more true for one of us and less for another. It is the same for all of us.

We are born magnificent.

It is our human birthright. Our soulful essence. Our truth.

We are born Magnificent.

And while we humans may do a lot of things to try to pretend we are not magnificent, or to avoid the truth of our magnificence, there is no way to destroy the essence of our soulful truth — We are magnificent.

No matter what God we worship before or not, what belief we hold about our spiritual nature or not, what story of origin we breathe into or not, the truth is — being human is a magnificent state of being.

 

Which means, it’s time start breathing life into the miracle of all that you are when you accept the truth. You are magnificent.

Start with asking yourself this morning, What can I do today to express my magnificence?

Do that.

Live your magnificence.

You take God’s breath away, because you are you.

Beginning. Middle. End of the story of your life.

You are magnificent.

Namaste.

 


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Give Love Away | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 52

Consciously choose to give Love away today. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, consciously decide to let Love be your answer and choose the most loving path, no matter what.

And yes, I know it can be hard.

Habits, patterns of behaviour built up over the years, accustomed responses can all get in the way of our capacity to respond through Love, not Fear. Not Anger. Not Confusion.

Watch yourself.

Check out how you are responding in certain circumstances and in those instances where your behaviour is causing you angst or causing someone else harm, ask yourself, “Is this an habitual way of responding in moments of stress, discord, confusion? What’s with that?”

Don’t fall into the trap of asking, “Why?”  Ask instead, ‘What?”

“What’s compelling me to respond/behave this way?” “What’s my motivation for ____________ (fill in the blank, i.e. yelling at my kids, shutting down when someone disagrees with me, staying silent when someone talks down to me…)

I’ll let you in on a secret. ‘Why?’ is the question we ask that let’s us off the hook of getting accountable. Why keeps us spiraling in trying to find answers to questions we don’t really want to know the answers to.

Remember as a child when an adult asked, after you’d done something that wasn’t really all that positive or constructive, or was nonsensical, “Why do you always……?” or, “Why can’t you…..?”

The real answer was, “Because I’m learning.”  “Because I’ve not yet learned better.” “Because I don’t understand what you want.” “Because I don’t feel safe.”…  etc.

And, because we thought there really was a ‘deeper’ why to our behaviour, (that’s often what we were told as children) we developed strategies that either, prevented us getting into ‘trouble’ or constantly got us into ‘trouble’.

Those habits were developed at a time when we couldn’t make sense of the world around us. Back then, they may have served to protect us from having to answer the ‘why’s’ of the ways we were that we didn’t really understand, but today, they do not always serve us well. They often prevent us from getting, giving, sharing and expressing Love — without expectation or conditions.

If you struggle to Give Love Away because habitual behaviours interfere with your joy, gratitude happiness, expressions of Love, seek help.

This week, in the Choices seminar room, over 50 people will gather to learn ways to fall in love with themselves without fear blocking their path home to their hearts.

There are many courses, books, therapists out there who can make a difference in how you know, express and act out in Love.

For me, Choices was the gift that gave me simple, practical and workable tools to create room for me to get out of my own way so that I could come home to my heart without fearing my heart was not a safe place for me to be. In the process, I have fallen in Love with being in Love with me and the world around me. I have learned to seek the joy in this moment, to see the beauty all around and to share Love in everything I do.

Try it. You might just fall in Love all over again with the one you were born to Love forever. You.

Namaste.

__________________

On March 21st, 2016 I made a commitment to share an Act of Grace a week for 52 weeks. Along the way I’ve missed a week and always, I have carried on, creating Acts of Grace until this week when I have completed my vision of creating 52 Acts of Grace.

Thank you to everyone who has chimed in, shared, commented and been part of this journey.

I am so blessed. Grateful. Joyful.

As a FYI — this is the second time I’ve shared the Act of Grace: Give Love Away. (The first was Week 14, June 20, 2016, HERE)

It is always worth repeating. Always worth reminding ourselves we have a choice. No matter the circumstances, between every action and reaction/response, there is always a millisecond of choice where we can choose Love over Fear.

To access all 52 Acts of Grace, click HERE. The PDF will download with links to each Act of Grace in the weekly compilation.

Thank you everyone!

 


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Celebrating Love.

Two years ago today, my beloved and I stood on a sun-drenched patio overlooking Okanagan Lake. Surrounded by the vineyards of Bench 1775 stretching to its shores and the beautiful mountains on the other side, we said our “I Do’s” and promised to grow through love always.

The day began dark and stormy. I really wanted an outdoor wedding but it appeared Mother Nature had a different idea. The rain fell in heavy sheets. The sky was dark and gloomy. Finally, knowing I had to get back to Therapy Vineyars and Guest House where we were staying, and the girls and I were getting ready for the wedding, we set the chairs and bower up indoors. I reconciled the image I held in my mind of what our wedding would look like to the reality of nature’s downpour and breathed deeply. Love is in the air. Who cares about the rain?

And then, it happened. Just before 4pm when my daughters and I were to arrive at the venue, a friend text me to show me the skies had cleared.

Tell everyone to pick up their chairs and move the wedding outside, I text back.

And they did.

Amidst laughter and good humoured jostling and comments of, ‘trust Louise to put us to work’, guests quickly picked up their chairs and moved everything outside.

The chairs were lined up on the patio. Our dear friend Alyssa placed her chair and harp at the front of the gathered guests and began to play.

My daughters and I walked down the aisle from one direction, while C.C. and his son and daughter appeared from a side entrance. We met in the middle of the aisle. C.C. and I joined hands, kissed our children who lined up behind us and together, we walked to the front of the deck where our friend Al waited to marry us beneath the white, flower laden, bower that had been moved outside when the sun came out.

Across the lake, above the mountains that edged the horizon, fluffy white clouds danced a heavenly chorus beneath the bright blue skies above our heads. The wind blew. It wasn’t all that warm, but I didn’t care.

This is the stuff wedding dreams, and marriages, are made of.

Weathering storms. Confronting obstacles. Changing course. Going with the flow, and always following your heart.

C.C. and I have been married 2 years today.

It hasn’t been all blue skies and sunshiney days. We’ve faced ups and downs and not so pretty moments. We’ve struggled sometimes to understand why the other does what they do. We’ve picked opposite sides. Sometimes, we’ve held our opinions as more important than thespace we share as husband and wife.

But, no matter the weather, or the storms, we always come back together to this sacred space where we hold each other in love. Where we honour the other’s opinions and have the courage to let go of whatever side we’re on so that we can stand on the sacred ground of our being together.

Two years ago I said “I Do” to the man who always makes me laugh. He also makes me a smoothie every morning and dinner lots of nights. He is kind and caring and thoughtful and loving. He is willing to stand in the broken places with me so that together, we can find our way deeper into the heart of what makes us, us. To the threads that bind us together stronger and stronger every day. To that which is always the answer, Love.

I am so blessed.

Namaste.

 

 

 


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The ending of one thing is the beginning of the next.

I handed in my resignation last week. I will be saying good-bye to the Foundation where I’ve worked for the past 4.5 years and moving on.

I am excited.

I am sad.

Sad to be leaving the amazing people I work with. People who inspire and challenge me every day to do my best, to give my all and to be committed to do what it takes to make a difference in the world of ending homelessness.

I’m excited because I’m going back to the front lines. Back to an agency that works directly with families impacted by homelessness, where I will be able to tell the stories that touch my heart and awaken my spirit every day to the amazing capacity we humans have to survive and move through life — in darkness and in light.

It is what inspired me so much when I worked at the adult shelter for six years prior to joining the Foundation. Every morning 1,000 people awoke, people whose lives were in tatters. People for whom life had not always been kind, who struggled to find themselves in this world somewhere other than homeless, and yet, despite the hardships, who still woke up every morning and took another step and another.

I may not always have been aligned with the steps they took, but I was always in awe of the power and will of the human spirit to see beyond the darkness to find the light of possibility.

On May 4th, a chapter in my life will end and on the 16th, I will begin another page.

The ending of one thing is the beginning of the next. 

My decision to stay in the sector was inspired by a very wise woman who asked me where I wanted to land for the final portion of this part of my working career.  In a place where you aren’t telling the stories you love, or at the front lines where you know the stories you tell make a real and lasting impact?

I don’t want to end this part of my working career feeling like I wasn’t 100% immersed, committed, intentional in what I’m doing. When my beloved, C.C., and I talked about my next move, I told him I don’t really want to retire yet. I want to end my career on a high note, not on a ‘ho hum’.

I enjoy my work at the Foundation, (really love the people) but the work does not engage my heart entirely. And when my heart is not 100% engaged, I am not 100% in my life. My life is always better when I am 100% in.

The ending of one thing is the beginning of the next.

On May 4th, I shall end working in a place that has provided me a sense of belonging, of being part of something bigger than myself, of knowing what I’m doing is making a difference.

On May 16th, I shall be joining Inn from the Cold as their Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations. In my new role I’ll be working with a team of committed, passionate people who believe, ending family homelessness is possible.

I’m excited.

I believe that with the right programs, right housing and right people, we can do it. End family homelessness.

We’ll do it together. We’ll do it as partners in a bigger system of care that ensures everyone has access to the right resources, right housing and supports that are targetted to ensure ending homelessness in their lives, and in particular their children’s lives, is possible.

And what can be more important than that? To ensure every child grows up knowing they have a home to begin a new story of their life. To ensure every child has the opportunity to grow resilient and strong, in the place where they belong, home.

I am excited.

_____

About the Painting:  

I created the painting above sometime last year using a gelli print pad. I printed the bird on polka-dot tissue paper and collaged it onto the canvas.  I have been playing with PicMonkey, trying to learn its many possibilities — learning new software is challenging, and fun. It can also sometimes be frustrating. But, it’s always worth trying.  🙂

 

 

 


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The #ShePersisted Series

When I began the #ShePersisted series I thought that I would create 12 images and quotes for the series, and that would be that.

Ideas continue to flow. The muse persists.

I am grateful.

The muse and I have a love/hate relationship. She loves me 100% of the time, I am not so loyal. In fact, I like to tell myself, I don’t need her. Or, in my willful disregard of her presence, I like to believe she has deserted me.

It is my victim’s voice. That monkey mind chattering place where I tell myself all sorts of things to justify why/how/what isn’t happening in my life, isn’t my fault/responsibility/accountability.

I cannot control 100% of what appears on my path. I can choose to be 100% accountable for what I choose to do with what appears.

This morning, the muse awakened me with her insistence I pay heed.

I decided to get 100% accountable and take her lead.

The thoughts that awoke me were about my youngest daughter’s ballet point shoes that still hang from the corner of the armoire in my art storage room downstairs.

They are pink. Scuffed. Well worn.

I remember the first time she danced ‘en pointe’. She was so excited, in spite of the pain.

She continued to persist, to push herself to dance ‘en pointe’ because it was so beautiful, so seemingly effortless when done well.

It was never effortless. And it always hurt.

In her teens, her feet were a mess.

I am grateful today for her wisdom to stop doing it.

I didn’t want to interfere. I didn’t want to take a stand against doing something she obviously loved, even though it caused her pain.

Life’s like that. We do things, in spite of the pain, telling ourselves we have no choice. To be a ballerina, you must dance ‘en pointe’.

To be a woman, you must wear clothes, shoes, outfits that squeeze, reveal, bunch, crunch and push up places that don’t need pushing up and scrunching in. Not to please ourselves, but rather, because we believe it is important to please others.

I like my daughters point shoes hanging in my art storage room.

They are a good reminder to stop doing things to please others, even though it hurts me.

Namaste.

May your day be filled with ease of heart, mind, and body. May you have the wisdom to stop doing things to please others if doing them hurts you.

_______

The #ShePersisted series can be viewed on my website.


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A morning haiku

She has defied the odds, again.

To everyone’s amazement, she’s turned the corner and is doing better.

“God’s not ready for you yet,” the doctor told my mother yesterday.

This morning, a haiku wrote itself into being.

All is well.