Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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He’s still out there. Somewhere.

He is still out a-wandering.

We are still at home waiting for his return.

Funny how the house feels so different without his presence.

Sure do miss him.

Please come home Marley.


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Gone a-wandering

Our beloved Marley, the Great Cat, has gone a-wandering. He raced out the front door on Tuesday night and has not come home.

We are worried.

Marley is by nature an outdoor cat. We adopted him from the SPCA about 9 years ago and he immediately began his out the door dashes once ensconced in our home.

Since moving to Bow Landing, he’s not been as eager to go outside and on the few occasions he’s dashed out the door, he’s been back fairly quickly.

This time that didn’t happen.

He’s a big, black (okay somewhat overweight) green-eyed handsome dude who purrs like a motor boat at high speed and is exceptionally affectionate.

Marley came into our home as a mouser, but other than scare the mice away, or toy with them, he isn’t particularly adept at the catching part.

But man, he can love you like nobody’s business. Cuddling is his next favourite thing to eating. He doesn’t even need to be stroked to purr. The minute he’s in your vicinity, his motor starts.

Our home is along the river. We’re worried about that.

Coyote roam this area. We’re concerned about that too.

He was last seen dashing across the drive in the dark of night on Tuesday in the Montgomery area of Calgary, near the Hextall Bridge and Shouldice Park.

He’s tattooed in his left ear. But, other than being black with green eyes (and somewhat overweight) he has no other distinguishing features. Oh. But he is beautiful!

If you happen upon him, you’ll be rewarded with lots of purrs and some cash too if you let us know!

Thank you.


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Which do you choose today?

Life is in constant flow. Like the river outside my window, life doesn’t stop. When it meets an obstacle, it flows around it, under it, over it.

This morning, as I contemplate the beauty of green leaves spread out against a sapphire blue sky, I sit in the quiet of being present to the divine nature of the world around me and am reminded, once again, of the divine nature of my human essence.

We are all born magnificent. We are all miraculous beings of light and Love.

And then, life happens. In its happenings, we forget our divine nature and fall into the flow of believing we are flawed, broken, lost.

It isn’t until we wake up one day to the essential essence of our being human, in all our perfectly imperfect human imperfections that we realize we have spent so much of our life pushing against the river’s flow.

In that awareness, we have a choice. Keep struggling, or, Stop It.

In my life, there are places where I pushed against the flow, spaces where I let go and those where I simply let myself be carried within the divine grace of being alive, in this moment, right now.

We are all perfectly imperfect humans. We are all on this journey called ‘Life on Earth’ together.

We can push against one another, or, we can flow together.

Which do you choose today?

 


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Rejoice in ordinary things

Acrylic on Canvas 42″ x 36″ Louise Gallagher 2001

I am in summer writing mode, lazy mornings, reading, walking, re-ordering my days. I will be posting less frequently over the next two months, but on those days when I spend my time ‘othering’ I’ll share things that inspire me.

The painting above is one of the very first paintings I did when I first started painting almost 20 years ago. It continues to be one of my favourites — perhaps because in it, I see only the simple, pure joy of creation.

In the beginning, my mind was not cluttered with thoughts of ‘the right way’, or the ‘that’s not good enough way’ of creating that is a natural by-product of learning more about ‘how to paint correctly’ versus ‘how to paint for the pure joy of it’ which is the beginner’s way for me.

In the beginning, painting for the pure joy of it was natural. Now, I strive to recapture that essence. I must consciously let go of my need to ‘do it right’ versus ‘do it for the pure joy of it’ – which can be challenging because when I think about it, I am no longer in that place of natural joyful creation!

Ahh, the contradictions of life are so fascinating!

Namaste.

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Inspiring thought for the day:

Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.

– Pema Chödron

from the book “The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times”

Just Dharma Quotes

Shared from Zen Flash

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Forgive often. Love always

When I didn’t love myself, I found it hard to forgive myself. It was a kind of chicken and the egg thing. I wanted to love myself, I knew it was important, But, I held myself at fault and couldn’t forgive my mistakes, making it impossible to love myself.

See-sawing between blame and shame, I measured whatever was happening in my life as being done to me. I was not to blame. Not responsible or accountable. It was always someone else’s fault. Or, I was all my mistakes and that made me one big mistake. I could never measure up.

In that place where all I was looking for was to lay blame and shame, forgiveness was not possible, making self-love an elusive dream.

Until I was willing to see my inherent human nature as a beautiful gift, to see that I am perfectly imperfect in all my human imperfections, I could never give myself the grace of seeing my mistakes as an essential and integral part of my journey. In my denial, there was no room for forgiveness and love because, well I was too busy covering-up my mistakes or too busy blaming others for theirs. In that hostile territory, there was only room for blame, fear and denial.

My mistakes are as much a part of me as the things I want the world to know and see about me.

My mistakes don’t make me weaker. They make me stronger, because in their light, the many facets of my human condition shimmer in the light of Love. In that light, I see how beautifully human I am when I give up the need to be perfect, when I am willing to let down my guard and be vulnerable.

As long as I am willing to lovingly face myself in every light, I grow through everything I do and have the space to learn to Love everything I am, beauty and the beast, yin and yang, dark and light.

Ultimately, we are not our mistakes, we are what we make of our mistakes. What we do with them. How we use them as tools to help us grow more forgiving and loving.

When we treat ourselves harshly, we create fertile ground for anger, bitterness, regret and a host of limiting emotions to fester. When we are unforgiving, we are unforgiven. Without forgiveness, there is no room for love to flow freely.

Long ago, I struggled to love myself, all of me.

Today I know that loving all of me is the path to bringing all the best of me to light. In that place, my mistakes are no longer a burden, they are part of my human journey. To enjoy the journey, travelling lightly is optimal. To travel light, I must choose forgiveness. It is the path to Love, and in Love, there is only one answer to living this one precious life freely: to Love more.  Love always.

 


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What is home?

Yesterday, I watched a woman receive the news she was getting housed.

It was emotional. Moving. Humbling.

A single mother, she arrived at the homeless shelter, two young children in tow, with no other options, nowhere else to go.

“It’s been a long month,” she told me when we chatted after she received the news. “And now this part is over.”

She moves out this weekend. Into her own place where she and her children can begin to rebuild their lives after the trauma of the past.

When her case worker told her the news she broke down. Crying. She hugged her children. Her case worker. Everyone in sight.

She jumped up and down. Did a crazy dance. Laughed and cried all at the same time.

And I remembered.

A time years ago when I received a box of kitchen supplies.

I had been living with my sister and her husband in North Vancouver for the months after the relationship that had almost killed me ended.

Finally, I was moving into my own place. Albeit the ground floor suite of their home, but it was my own place.

I had few possessions.

Everything my daughters and I owned had been put into storage a year and a half before when we first left our home in anticipation of moving into the house ‘that man’ had promised we’d bought together.

The house never materialized. The money disappeared and so did all our belongings.

Auctioned off eventually as the monthly rental he’d told me he paid had never been paid.

My sister had a friend who was moving to the states and was giving away a bunch of her kitchen stuff.

She gave it to me.

I remember sitting in my bedroom at my sister’s home and opening that box. I started to cry. Suddenly, all that I’d lost came sweeping in. The beautiful set of china my mother had given me. The hand-painted glass plates I’d brought back from Greece. The carefully collected and cherished possessions of a lifetime of living and growing and building a home and a life with my daughters.

Gone.

In that one box I was reminded of what was lost, and what could be.

Suddenly, I had ‘things’ again. The lightness of being devoid of household possessions was gone and I was grounded at home.

Since that day so many years ago, I have gone on to rebuild my home.

This morning, I sit at my desk by the window at the front of our home, overlooking yard and trees and river. The window is open. Birds sing. The leaves rustle in the gentle morning breeze. The river flows with the depth and constancy of the Love that surrounds me and fills my world with such beauty.

Dishes, appliances, household clutter can be replaced, but what could not be taken away, and never needed replacing, was the love that constantly sustained me and carried me through those dark days, the Love that is present every day of my life.

I watched a mother begin her journey home yesterday.

She was elated. Excited. Happy.

She too does not have many possessions, and while she doesn’t have a sister helping her rebuild her household, she does have an incredible network of agencies working with her to ensure she and her children have a solid foundation upon which to build a better future.

A future where fear and abuse, uncertainty and trauma do not have to be the focal point of her journey.

A future where her children can go to bed at night confident they will not be awoken in the dark by screaming and crying and broken dishes on the floor.

A future where tomorrow has the possibility of being better than today because every day gets better when you live without fear of never having enough, of not being able to pay the rent, or put food on the table.

A future where your mother has room to breathe freely, to dream and to plan on how to make her dreams come true so that her children can grow up strong and free, living the lives she’s always dreamed they would have.

I witnessed a mother get the news she was going home yesterday.

My heart took flight.

Namaste.


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What do you do when the there and then rises up in the here and now?

I am always fascinated by my triggers. Those places where I respond in the here and now only to discover I’m reacting at a level triggered by a distant past.

I hit one of those spots last night. It was fascinating.

I had stopped by the Sunterra Market near my office to pick up a few groceries. $121 worth or groceries including the beautiful bouquet of flowers I bought for myself.

At the checkout, realizing I didn’t have my shopping bag with me, I purchased one of Sunterra’s nice big bags, believing it would make it easier for the cashier to pack up my items and for me to carry them to my car a block away.

The cashier took the bag, lay it flat on the counter and then proceeded to scan each of my items and lay them on top of the bag.

I was confused.

Why wouldn’t she bag the items as she went along?

She finished scanning my order, I paid and then she proceeded to start scanning the next person’s order.

“Excuse me,” I asked. “Are you not going to bag my groceries?” I could feel the quiver in my voice as my umbrage rose. Sunterra is an upscale market. I like it because I don’t have to bag my own groceries. It always has great produce and it’s convenient. Was she expecting me to bag my groceries?

She looked at me as she bagged the groceries for the man who was behind me in line. “I will.”

By now, I recognize the vibration inside me. It is familiar. It is primordial. It is annoying.

It’s the one that makes me want to cry instead of speak up. That makes me want to stomp my feet in childish frustration and ask, ‘Do you see me?’

I tried to keep my voice calm. “Don’t you think you should bag my groceries before starting on the next person’s order?”

She looked at the two or three people standing in the checkout line behind me. They each had one, two, maximum four items in their hands.

She smiled.

“No. I want to clear the line-up first.”

By now I’m in full reactive mode.

“That’s fine. I’ll do it myself.” And I pull the bag out from under my groceries and start to pile my items into it.

She keeps checking out the people behind me. I keep putting the groceries into my bag.

When I’m finished, I grab my flowers, my bag of groceries and as I’m about to leave I turn to her and say, “I think this is really poor customer service.”

She looks at me surprised. Shrugs her shoulders and smiles at the person she’s helping.

Okay. I admit it. I do not do well when I feel dismissed and/or judged.

I huffed my way out of the store, and as I was leaving the man who appeared to be the Manager walked by me and smiled.

I did not smile back.

Now that’s a big thing for me. I think that’s rude.

I did it anyway.

As I reach the doors to the street, the argument inside my head was in full swing. “You should complain.” “Don’t be ridiculous.” “She’s just trying to do her job.” “Well she’s not that good at it.” “How will she learn?…”

Finally, I turn around, find the manager and tell him how unimpressed I was with her service. He looks surprised when I tell him she didn’t bag my groceries before starting on the next person’s and assures me he will speak with her.

I leave and as I drive home, I mull over my reactions to the situation.

What’s that all about? I ask myself. You sure have a lot of emotional energy around this. Care to dive in to find its source?

Now, along with the voice of wisdom that recognizes my response was not just to the situation but to the past, there is also the critter’s voice inside who wants to justify, rationalize and normalize my behaviour.

You had every right to be upset, the critter hisses. You are not being over-reactive. You deserve better treatment. It’s her problem. How dare she!…

From a customer service level, her actions could use some adjusting. That’s the manager’s job.

From my personal response level, my peace of mind, my equilibrium deserve my attention.

Later, as C.C. and I are enjoying dinner together, I tell him about my emotionally charged encounter. “I sure have some fascinating trigger points,” I tell him.

He laughs and agrees. “Yes you do.”

And I laugh with him.

“Yes I do,” I say. “Aren’t I fascinating!”

That encounter, whether she was giving me good customer service or not, shows me clearly some unhealed areas in my psyche. That wasn’t me, today, in the here and now, responding to her. In that moment, I was vibrating with the energy of a thousand tiny unhealed moments from long ago when as a child I felt unheard, unseen, undefended.

I breathe and remind myself what is real and true today. I am so loved and deserving of joy. I am safe now. I am safe.

Namaste.