Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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In an imperfect world can you forgive yourself for being imperfect?

No matter how much I forgive myself for the things I’ve done that have hurt the one’s I love, the thing I struggle with the most is forgiving myself for not being perfect.

It’s a not so subtle force, this desire to be perfect and to make the world around me perfect. Its constant yammering to do better, be better, make better of myself and everything I create in the world leaves me feeling dissatisfied and sometimes defeated by myself. Its constant wailing pounds away at my peace of mind, upsetting my sense of being at ease in the world.

In its strident calling out for justice, in its insistence that ‘this’ or ‘that’ do not belong in the world, in its labelling of human suffering and misdeeds as ‘wrong’, in its endless battling against one foe versus another, it denies the inescapable truth — everything belongs. It is all part of our human journey.

I cannot change the world. I can change my world by letting go of anger, fear, denial of what is, through acceptance of all that is when I accept, it all belongs.

Acceptance doesn’t mean I give up working towards change, towards justice and truth. It just means I stop railing against things I label as unjust and stand instead in all the imperfections knowing we are all perfectly human in all our human imperfections, and it’s all okay.

There are many ways to quieten my need for perfection; meditation, exercise, dance, creative endeavours, being in nature, yet still, it raises its persistent voice whenever I fall into the belief that I am separate from the world around me.

Fact is, my need for perfection keeps me separate through criticizing, condemning and blaming myself and others for what I have deemed ‘not belonging’ in the world.

It is in those moments that I must stop, breathe deeply, relax and forgive myself for my imperfections so that I can accept, it all belongs in my world, it is all okay.

It is in forgiveness I find peace within a deep sense of belonging.

What about you?  Are you continually judging yourself and the world around you, creating separation through striving to find perfection in our perfectly imperfect humanity?

Have you tried forgiving yourself in the beauty of your human imperfections?

 


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Born to be Magnificent.

We are all born magnificent. It is imprinted in our DNA at the moment of conception.

It is imprinted in our soul, or DNA, genetic blueprint, core essence this Divine Expression of Amazing Grace that is within each of us. We can call it placed there by God, Yaweh, Allah. It is not the word we use to name this Divine Essence of our being human that matters. What matters is we awaken to its presence.

And that’s the challenge Life can be hard. In its unfolding we forget the magnificence at our core very early on in our journey. As lie happens, we adapt to its happenings, layering over our magnificence with pain and anger, sorrow and regret and a host of our human mal-adaptations that we carry with us to protect our ego and its constant need for reassurance. In the process,  our magnificence becomes a tiny seed of memory, always present, always with us. Not always seen or known or remembered.

As we grow and age, we remember something is missing. We carry a sense of loss, of curiosity that maybe there’s more to this life than just ‘the daily grind’. This making a living day-to-day, of getting by.

In his newsletter today, theologian and philosopher, Richard Rohr calls it “The Further Journey”. It is the journey into the second half of our lives that always awaits us, though some of us may never take it. Not because we don’t get old enough to enter ‘the second half of our lives’, but rather, because we get stuck in the identity growing and boundary establishing that occupies the first half. Stuck in ‘me’, we never awaken to the magnificence, or divine spark, at the core of our human presence to realize awakening is necessary. It is an integral part of our human journey.

My awakening happened gradually. In my twenties, I could not understand why I felt like I never fit into my family. They did a few things, all unintentional, to reinforce my sense of unease within their midst, which lead me to question, “Who am I?” early on.

Who am I, I discovered, isn’t about the things I own or do, it’s about who am I when I am being my most magnificent self. When I am being of service to the world.

For me, creating things of beauty and wonder, creating a sense of welcome and peace is critical to my nature.

For you, it may be something else.

Whatever ‘it’ is, your ‘who am I’ will resonate at a deep soul level and express itself in a way that is unique to only you. In the presence of its truth, you will feel so light of heart, you might feel like your entire being is dancing in the light of love.

Answering ‘Who am I?’ is a lifetime journey of unfolding and discovery. Of turning back into yourself again and again, letting go of self-judgement and criticism to realize, Who am I is the beginning of a wondrous journey into self-forgiveness, acceptance, understanding and Love.

For today, stand in front of a mirror, look deep into your eyes and ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’.

Keep your heart soft, your mind open, your senses awakened to whatever rises up from deep within you.

Let go of judgement. Let go of self-consciousness and that fuzzy little flurry of embarrassment that wants to burble up and make you laugh uncomfortably.

Just stay present. Ask the question. Listen deeply.

The answer may surprise you.

The answer may confuse or excite you.

And always, the answer will be fascinating. Because, beneath all the stuff of life, is the answer you were born to know and breathe life into:  You are magnificent. The Divine Expression of Amazing Grace.

 

 


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Do you see me? I see you. (a poem)

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

I see you
walking by, eyes
shifting away
from seeing me
seeing you

you think you know my story
you think you know
how
I
got
here
sitting on a street corner
hands outstretched
hoping you take the time
to stop and share
spare change

spare your judgement
you don’t know
me
you don’t know
my story
you don’t know
how
I
got
here

so let me tell you
it ain’t what you think
it wasn’t some lack of moral character
that could have been strengthened
by eating more fibre
or some weak willed spirit
that could have been stretched taller
by getting off the sauce
and getting a job.

no. I got here
backed into a corner
no way out
but down and out
because I didn’t have
what you took for granted
when you were born
on the other side
of never having enough
to make the money stretch
the whole month long

poverty’s a grind man
so keep your judgements
keep your dime
and go ahead
walk on by
like you don’t see me
sitting here
silently watching
like I’ve always done
your back
walking away
to the other side
of the street
where I don’t sit
watching you
walk on by.

 

______________________________

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash


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The clutter is your life. Get rid of it.

“Perhaps you should just give the stuff away,” I tell my friend JD. “If I haven’t missed what you’ve got, I don’t need to know what you’ve got.”

JD and her husband AJ had dropped by on their way home from a weekend at Mount Assiniboine Lodge. We’d had an impromptu dinner and as they were leaving JD had mentioned she had some dishes and things that belong to me. “I’ll bring them over” she said.

Having spent the past two weeks unpacking boxes and organizing ‘stuff’, I am convinced, we have too much stuff.

“How is this possible,” I ask my beloved C.C. as I unpack yet another box of dishes. “I know we love to entertain, but this is getting ridiculous.”

I have two sets of white everyday dishes. A set of summer plates. Formal dinnerware. A dinner set for 16. Plus a couple of other sets of informal plateware, just for those fun occasions when I feel like changing it up.

Too much stuff is cluttering up my life, and filling my cupboards!  It’s time to get serious about unloosening the stuff of life that is keeping me stuck in believing I need it to feel ‘good, or happy, or complete — not sure what the seed of the reason is for all my stuff – I do know that all my stuff is acting like a grit of sand in an oyster shell. Except, chewing on it is not going to create a pearl of beauty. It will only create unease.

Robert Brault wrote, “I am never five minutes into stripping the clutter from my life before I start running into the clutter that is my life.”

In essence, the clutter is our lives.

As I unpack, and make choices as to what to keep and what to divest myself of, I ask myself, “Do I want this [object] to be a reflection of my life?”

It makes it easier to choose between holding onto something or letting it go, to think of it as a ‘thing’ that reflects my life.

Sometimes, I might hold an object and remember good times spent with it or the person who gave it to me, but then, I must ask… “Are the memories of this object overriding the truth? Do I need this?”

It also makes it easier if I ask myself whether or not the [object] brings me joy. It is in those moments I transcend the clutter of my life to realize, objects don’t bring me joy. Joy is found in the living of life. In the decluttering, in the unpacking, in the moving furniture around, when I focus on the joy of doing versus the pain, I find myself feeling at home, no matter where I am or how much stuff surrounds me.

I am unpacking and into decluttering right now (I can feel my daughters dancing as they read this — they have long held that I have too much ‘clutter’ in my life and need to invest time in ‘Swedish Death Cleaning’!). Swedish Death Cleaning isn’t about getting rid of things I do not need. It’s about creating beauty in my life where the things I do possess have room to breathe and be appreciate. It’s about acknowledging that one day, if I don’t do this now, my daughters will have to do it for me. Why would I put that burden on them?

Margareta Magnusson writes in The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning:

“Old people seem to think that time goes so quickly, but in fact it is we who have become slower.”

I am not ‘old’ but I’m getting there! No matter my age, or speed of ageing, what I need is a simpler, more clean-lined way of living. Decluttering is the first step. And now is the perfect time before ‘the stuff’ takes up residence and space in our new home.

Namaste.


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Be like a mother bird returning to her nest.

In the midst of a heated discussion, or a fearful moment, or an uncomfortable conversation, it can be easy to let go of the things that create value in your life. Like loving kindness and compassion.

No matter the weather or what is happening around you, be like a mother bird returning to her nest. Carry thoughts of  loving kindness and compassion to feed your next words, steps, actions just as she carries food to feed her chicks. When you feed your spirit and heart loving kindness and compassion, you create gentle ripples of Love that wash away the pain and fear and doubt of being human.

And when you forget, or the heat of the moment sweeps you away from the path of loving kindness and compassion, soften your heart, forgive yourself and begin again.

 


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Do you want to change your whole world?

 

Years ago, when I took up painting, I did it not because I wanted to prove I actually could paint, but rather, because I wanted to do something with my then 14 year old eldest daughter who loved to paint. One day, even though I’d told myself all my adult life that I was a writer, not an artist, I decided to pick up a paint brush and paint with her.

And my whole world changed.

I discovered a ‘truth’ I’d told myself about myself was actually just a limiting belief that I’d never tested. If I’d kept living by that limiting belief, my world would not have changed.

Sure, not having tested that belief I would not have known what I was missing and thus, not know I was missing out on doing something I truly love and feel passionate about — creative expression through the arts.

Having tested that limiting belief by changing what I normally did when my daughter wanted to paint, meant that I got to experience something I never could have imagined would bring me such joy and satisfaction.

Eleven years ago, a friend (thanks Mark Kolke of Musings and other writings!) suggested I start a blog. At the time, blogging was not ‘the thing’ it is today. I knew nothing about it, but, I was curious so I decided to check it out.

On March 7th, 2007 I posted my first scribblings at Recover Your Joy.

Eleven years ago when I first began I didn’t really think I’d be able to keep it up! Ha! Fooled me!  That first post has turned into over 3,258 posts published between the two blogs.

LOL! That’s a lot of words.

When I began, I thought I had to know what I was going to write about before my fingers touched the keyboard. Gradually, as I began to move into the flow of writing every morning, my thinking changed about ‘the right and the wrong way to blog’ as I began to realized that a) there is no right or wrong way, there’s only the way I chose as best for me; and b) I am not writing ‘for my readers’. I am writing for me and if what I write resonates with my readers, that is a beautiful ripple and a lovely gift that adds depth and colour to my world. And, c) Writing every day and hearing from readers has taught me that we are all connected. As my words resonate with your heart and thoughts, I feel that truth shimmering deeper and deeper within me every day.

See, I started blogging because I thought it was something to do to keep my writing practice moving forward. Over time, I’ve discovered that writing here each morning is my way of creating value from all things happening in my life, and my way to create space in my world for gratitude and joy to arise with me every morning.

It was not intentional — the writing almost every morning for 11 years. It happened because my intent has always been to add value to the world through writing about the things that stir my heart, awaken my creativity and create beauty and joy all around.

I love to write. I love to create.  Through art-making and morning writings, I find myself coming back, again and again, to the core of who I am and the joy that comes from living on purpose and in the flow of life, or as my friend John McMahon calls it, being in the PHLOW:

Power  (I also like to think of this one as Purpose)
Harmony
Love
Order
Wisdom

In that space, I become all that I am when I stop listening to my limiting beliefs about all I can’t do or be in this great big world of wonder.

So, want to change your whole world?

Do something you think you can’t
let what happens next be your inspiration
for what happens next…


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Spring has come. Let’s dance.

Spring arrived yesterday, its presence covered in a cloak of white snow and melting ice. It slipped in without much change in the weather, though radio announcers and endless FB postings heralded its approach.

It was a long, snowy winter.

Somewhere, beneath the blanket of white that covers the ground, seeds lay curled up in frozen earth waiting for the warm rays of the sun to penetrate the outer shell of their pods.

And though winter still lays visible, the river is thawing. It flows more quickly down the centre line, breaking up the ice and snow that has covered its surface for many months. The river thaws from the middle out. Constantly widening its reach until, eventually, its shores will no longer be hidden beneath a white frozen blanket. Soon, I hope. Soon.

The robins have not yet returned. Buds yearning to burst into blossom from swollen pods adorning branches have not yet appeared.

But spring is in the air. And in the breath of spring’s promise, we live in this yearning time. Hoping. Praying. Believing. Spring will not just be a page turning on the calendar. It will be visible in blossoms bursting out from tree branches touching a clear blue sky. In leaves dappled with sunlight dancing in a delicate breeze. In crocus heads poking up from the warming earth.

Soon, I hope. Soon.

The days are growing longer.

Earth is awakening.

It is time to dance.

To dance in the early morning darkness that has not yet become light.

In the puddles filling in the spaces between the ridges of snow and ice that cover paths and roadways.

In the promise of longer days coming as the earth orbits around the sun to bring its rays closer to our northern hemisphere, warming the earth from winter’s grip.

It is time to dance and cast off winter garb. To don fresh bold colours of spring. To open windows and sweep out the debris of cold nights spent lazing in front of the fire.

It is time to spring into action and live fiercely in the lengthening light of the sun. To be like the river, letting the sun’s warm rays spread out and warm you up all the way to your fingertips and toes.

It is time to cast off memories of ‘what was’ and dance in the light of what is true today.

Spring has arrived. Newness awakens. Anything is possible.

Let’s dance with the pure joy of being alive.

Let’s dance in the light of love spreading out from each beating heart. From each burst of laughter shared. From each blossoming thought becoming a loving awareness that knows with all its heart and soul, “This is my one precious life. Let me live it now; fiercely, fearlessly, freely. Let me express myself like a bird in flight, like a flower pushing up through the earth, like a leaf dancing in the wind. Let my expression of my life be a celebration of my life lived in the promise of spring.”

Let’s dance.

______________

Photo by Alena Koval from Pexels