Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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If life is a BHAG, what progress are you stimulating?

As I approach that space where leaving the formal workplace opens up upon the horizon, I come back to the question that sparked the creation of this blog six years ago.

Originally called, A Year of Making a Difference, this blog was my space to dive into the question, “Who am I when I don’t have a job that makes it easy for me to feel like I’m making a difference every day?”

At the time I had just resigned from my role as Director Public Relations and Volunteer Services at a large adult-single homeless shelter. I’d been there for six years. It was work that inspired me and filled my heart. I loved the place and people but the politics combined with my lack of enthusiasm for the values and direction of the leadership provided the impetus to make the decision to leave.

I was scared.

Everyday I walked into that place and knew, I was making a difference.

Without my title, position, profile in community, who was I? Would I have value?

Six years ago, I wrestled with the question of how to make a difference just by being present in this world. It was a year long adventure of finding value in all things, and acknowledging ‘my connection to you and your connection to me’ creates a world of difference’ — the kind of difference we make is dependent upon our intention, our willingness to be present, no matter the circumstances, with loving-kindness in our hearts and harmony in our being.

At the end of the first year of writing in this space, I changed its name to Dare Boldly; a reminder to myself to always take the bold step, no matter my fear, trepidation or insecurities.

Daring boldly isn’t easy. I want to play it safe. Stay the course. Not make waves. Keep on keeping on.

Daring boldly isn’t hard either. It just requires the courage of knowing what I want create in this world, and then, taking action to create it.

For me, creating a world of harmony, a world where we dance, laugh, play and create without fearing one another is a ‘BHAG’.

According to its originator, Jim Collins, a BHAG (pronounced Bee-Hag), is a powerful way to stimulate progress.

Which got me to thinkin’ and a’wonderin’ — I get that organizations can have Bee-Hags, but individuals?

Life itself is a journey of progressing moment to moment, each moment building upon the last, each moment informing the next. When I seek value in all things, every moment is filled with opportunity to create better.

Life is a BHAG! I don’t have to stimulate progress. Progress is inevitable.

Knowing and naming my personal BHAG within life’s big hairy audacious presence and taking action on progressing towards a goal, or perhaps an idea, or ideal way of being in this world, big, hairy and audacious, or not, is necessary for me to feel engaged, vital and content in my life.

Six years ago, I started this blog with the idea of creating a space where, every day, I sought difference making in our world.

Today, as I begin to contemplate ‘life after formal work’, there is little difference in my focus. No matter what I do, I want to be conscious of, and engaged in, difference-making.

Yes, I know that just being present on this earth makes a difference.

Yes, I know that one person cannot change the world (but it sure is good if each of us tries because that adds up to a whole lot of people trying to make the world a better place. In our collective efforts we create a tsunami of better!)

And yes, I know that my job is not so much to change THE world, it’s to create a world of difference in MY world.

Ultimately, to feel content, to feel engaged in and activated by life, my job is to change my world so that no matter what I do, the difference I make is one of creating more harmony, more joy, more love. And more opportunities to dance, laugh, play and create.

 


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Flow into love like a river to the sea

Do you remember a time when life flowed with grace and ease? A time when every breath you took seemed to fill you up not just with oxygen but with life itself? A time when you were in such harmony with the universe, there was no end to possibilities?

Those times exist. For all of us.

Those times are possible, within each of us.

Yet, like a dam blocking a river from flowing freely, we let life’s happenings block us from flowing effortlessly in the river that is our life.

This morning, as I meditated, I felt the presence of life’s flow pulling me effortlessly towards the ocean of love that is all around me.

I felt at One with life and all that is around me.

For those brief moments of meditation, there was no separation, no me versus them, no here not there. There was just life.

It’s easy to forget the effortlessness of breathing freely when life feels like it is crashing up against the shores of your sensibilities and possibilities.

It can be easy to forget that Love is always present, always calling us home to our hearts when we are swimming upstream, pushing against life and everyone in it.

In those moments, it is vital to stop. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Breathe.

Close your eyes and just for a moment imagine, there is no other. No force pushing you away from life and love and grace and ease.

There is just life. Flowing like a river. Gently carrying you always in a sea of Love that is unending.

Love has no beginning. No end. No in between or anywhere else to be other than where you are. Right now. In this moment.

Love is.

You are.

In the flow.

In Love.

Namaste.

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The delightfully conscious and inspiring Leigh shared a meditation for Journey 2 Peace this morning on her blog, Not Just Sassy on the Inside.  Her words and the meditation she included inspired my writing this morning. Thank you Leigh!

There is no better time than now to give yourself the gift of time to sink into the peace that comes with being present to Love, with Love, in Love.


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The Writing Space

Many years ago, while I was immersed in a relationship that was killing me, I didn’t write. It was one of the many signs I ignored on that road to hell that was telling me, “You are not safe here! Run for your life!”

Ignoring the signs of my ill-being was easier if I didn’t write. Not acknowledging how sick I was becoming was vital to keeping his anger and abuse at bay.

I didn’t want to face his anger. I also didn’t want to face myself on the page.

Writing for me is about truth. The truth is those days was that I was lost, abused, terrified. I didn’t believe I had value. I didn’t believe I deserved to live.

There was no grace in that place. There was no grace to write.

One of the graces of writing is its capacity to awaken me to the story beneath the story.

On the weekend, I created a writing corner just for me. It’s beside a window that overlooks the river’s edge. I can sit and watch the water flow, hear its voice, feel its essence, be one with nature.

There is something very symbolic about my writing space, something I hadn’t connected until I started writing about writing (and not writing) this morning.

On the morning of May 21, 2003 when I was released from the hell of that relationship, we were staying at a small bed and breakfast beside a river. It wasn’t as wide or fast moving or as deep as The Bow. It gurgled through the property, laughing in the sun as it raced to the sea.

Every morning I would stand by the river’s edge and imagine I could unhook gravity’s hold on my body so that by its own volition, it would fall into the water and be washed out to sea. In its disappearance, all memory of my having been here on earth would be erased from my daughters’ minds and they would be able to continue on with their lives, free of any memory of the mother who had loved them so, and then disappeared.

See, I couldn’t take my own life. That would have made a lie of the one truth I held onto — I love my daughters. Everything else in my life had become a lie. I could not violate that one truth.

But if I could unhook gravity…

I sit by the river this morning, writing.

I no longer want to unhook gravity’s hold.

I no longer live ‘the lie’.

I am blessed.

 

 


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Happy Days are here again!

Happy Days! Our wedding April 25, 2015

I didn’t realize it was ‘The Day.”  At least, not when I first awoke. Or even in the days preceding, marking time’s relentless movement as ‘The Day’ approached.

I didn’t realize what day it was as I made coffee. Sat and watched the river flow or let Beaumont, the Sheepadoodle, out for his morning rituals.

I didn’t even realize it was the day as I read the news of flooding in British Columbia. At least, not until I saw mention of the town of Langley.

And then I remembered.

This was the day fifteen years ago when two police officers rolled up in a blue and white police car and arrested the man who had promised to love me ’til death do us part, and was actively engaged in making the death part happen.

Langley was near the town where we were ‘hiding out’ as he evaded police and tried to make me vanish.

That’s when I remembered.

And I smiled.

And breathed. Deeply.

This is ‘The Day’ when I was given the miracle of getting my life back.

This is ‘The Day’ when I began to breathe freely again.

Breathing freely was an automatic response to having the yoke of fear and sadness and sorrow and grief lifted from my life by the removal of one person.

Breathing freely was the gift of knowing I no longer needed to be the ‘walking dead’.

I was alive.

What a gift.

Fifteen years ago today I was given the miracle of my life.

Fifteen years ago today, I stopped waiting for death and got busy living again.

I am grateful.

I am joyful.

I am blessed.

Life is good.

Life is an adventure.

Life is a joyful journey of happiness, peace, beauty and Love.

Life is a gift.

Namaste.


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Super Heroes are all around us!

Super heroes come in many forms.

When I joined Inn from the Cold a year ago, I wanted to bookmark my career with work that I knew resonated deeply in my heart. That way, I felt my career would make sense. That I would make sense.

I knew the Executive Director, Abe Brown, and felt excited to work with him as I admire his ethics, his passion for the work we do, and his desire to create safe, courageous work places where people feel honoured to turn up, give their best and SHINE!

I didn’t really know anyone else at The Inn, but felt welcomed from my first day.

My role as Director, Communications & Stakeholder Relations was a new one at the Inn. The Director Resource Development handled MarComm and RD and had built a solid team of exceptional people who worked hard, got the job done and created value in the team.

Like all new positions, there were ups and downs and inns and outs. People left. New people joined the team.

This morning, as I watched one of the videos the team created for Claire’s Campaign, the Inn’s annual fundraiser, I noticed that the video had subtitles so that even if you didn’t turn on the sound, you knew what was being said.

Now, this may not seem like a lot to some people but my team is incredibly busy. Subtitling the videos was not a priority, but, they took the time to do it so that the video is even more impactful.

And that’s when it hit me about super heroes.

They are all around us. Walking amongst us. Being with us even when we don’t notice them. They just keep doing their super hero things as we continue to live our lives, day to day.

So yes, this is a callout to all super heroes out there, but in particular, to the team I am so incredibly honoured to be part of. Hilary, Kara, Chris, Elizabeth, Meg, Eunice, you ROCK!

I know I don’t generally write blogs like this one but I felt strongly this morning the need to call out these super heroes in public.

See, their plates are really full. We are looking to add two people to the team just to handle the volume and to create more impact in community. To go that extra mile to ensure we reach our audience, tell our story in ways that touch more hearts and open more minds, even when there are other deadlines looming and projects to complete, is in my book not only a herculean feat, it shows commitment, passion and above all a dedication to the mission that speaks volumes about what is at the heart of those with whom I work.

And it goes beyond my team. Everyone at the Inn is a super hero. Every day they respond compassionately and authentically to the needs and wants of those who come to our family emergency shelter for support and those whom we support in housing and community. Everyday they make a difference in the world of a child, a mother, father, grandmother and their co-workers. Everyday they make the world a better place.

So yup. I’m kinda waxing eloquent about this team. But man, I am so incredibly proud and humbled to walk amongst such superheroes everyday!

HAve a great long weekend everyone. May we all find the superhero within us and let her or him SHINE!

 


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Rocking horses like high horses make no progress

Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress. Alfred A. Montapert

When I was a little girl I had one of those heavy plastic rocking horses that was attached by coils to a metal base that kept the horse grounded. I could sit on my horse, bounce up and down, sideways and front and back. I loved that horse. The motion. The joy of sitting and bouncing and riding.

My rocking horse never made any progress in the physical sense of getting from Point A to B, but I sure could make it ride across plains and continents, oceans and skies. Every time I rode I experienced some new and exciting adventure. I was Annie Oakley, the Lone Ranger and Tonto all dressed up in one. I moved around the world, saving children and dogs and civilisations from sure destruction.

I was powerful.

My rocking horse was my escape from the world in which I lived. The world around me which I didn’t understand, or didn’t make sense, or simply was too complicated to grasp.

As I grew, I had to let go of my rocking horse. Without it, I had to find some other way to escape the world around me — escape being the operative word. I never wanted to get off my horse, so I created a mighty steed within my mind who could transport me away from the world in which I lived into a world that made sense to me. A world that ideally suited me. A world in which I had control. I had power. A world where I was all powerful because, well, I was writing the script. I controlled every scene, every word, every action. I determined who was there, what they did and said and what happened. Cool!

I loved my imaginary worlds when I was a child. They were fun! Problem is, as an adult, escaping into scripted scenes within my head is not an effective way to live my best life yet. Scripted scenes where I control the people, places, actions, scenes and words are not a reflection of the world around me. They are a reflection of what I want to have happen, what I believe could happen — if everyone and everything in my world did what I thought was best, or right, or simply acceptable to me!

And that just ain’t the way the world rocks. Often, the world in my mind becomes a wild ride upon my high horse of self-deception. Armed with my quiver of judgement filled with arrows of complaint, criticism, and condemnation I take aim at gentle hearts and opening minds and pierce balloons of possibility with my conviction that I know what is best for the world around me.

I must admit, I have clung to many a high horse in my adulthood and run roughshod through many a delicate blossom of life unfolding. I have sat upon my mighty stead trampling other people’s feelings and perceptions with the heavy footed destruction of King Kong stomping through New York.

And always, when the ride was over, I have fallen off my high horse in a fit of embarrassed consternation that so much destruction could be created in such a short, wild ride, by me.

High horses, like rocking horses do not get me anywhere other than where I don’t want to be — Eating sawdust in the not so OK Corral of my mind, grovelling in the mud of guilt and disappointment.

The good news is… dismounting from my high horse comes easier now. I am progressing.

I have learned how to keep my quiver of judgements empty. My arrows of criticism, complaints and condemnation sheathed.

Filled with the joy of fearlessly embracing who I am when I let go of clinging to the neck of my high horse, I am free to dance in the lightness of my being human. That fragile condition where peace of heart reigns as long as I let go of my need to control the world around me.

It ain’t always easy. Somedays I want to grab an arrow and shoot right to the heart of what I judge to be someone else’s problem.

That’s when I must remember to breathe. Deeply. And ask, what’s really happening here? What is this world of wonder and beauty asking me to see and know?

In that place of breathing deeply, I open up to all that is possible when I let go of judgement and step fearlessly into Love.