Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


4 Comments

If I knew then what I know now…

Some time ago, a friend asked me to join her and other women in creating a book of wisdom for her niece who was turning 13.

I wondered, if I could go back to meet my 13-year-old self, what would I want to tell her about life, love, living? From the vantage point of my life today, what wisdom would I most want to share to inform her journey?

If I knew then what I know now  — Ten Things I would tell my 13-year-old self 

  1. This too shall pass.
    • There is no such place as forever. Nothing is forever. This too shall pass. Whatever you are experiencing, the trauma, the angst, the joy, they are all illusory. Transitory. Ride whatever is happening hands free, barefooted, body wide open to the experiences of life. Now is not forever.
  2. You’re okay.
    • More than okay, you are amazing. Just the way you are. There is no fashion too out there, no style too wild if it is what you want to wear. You are not too fat, too skinny, to short, too tall, too under-developed, over-developed. You are who you are, how you are. And that’s amazing.
  3. You are worthy.
    • This is a tricky one. Your mind wants to steal this one away and hide it because to know your worth, you must risk — the unknown. the perceived impossible. You must risk the ups and downs, ins and outs, overs and unders of life. To know your worth, you must know there is nothing, no one, no way anyone can steal it from you. It is your birthright.
  4. Believe in you.
    • Really, really believe in you. Don’t question your right to be. Don’t question you’re right to go anywhere, do anything, be anyway you choose. Be you. Everyone else is taken. Wear your hair up, down, wild, straight. Colour it pink, gold, orange or green. It’s your hair. Your body. Your skin. Your life. Your right to believe in you and be you just the way you are.
  5. Be kind.
    • People will say mean things. Do cruel things. Be kind. Like you, they struggle to know their worth, find their place, feel their feelings. Like you, they are taking this journey of life without a manual, unable to control and predict everything life will throw at them. Like you, they are sometimes scared, sometimes silly, sometimes confused, sometimes wise. And like you, they too are looking to fit in, to belong, to be part of something bigger than themselves. Be kind, no matter how they act. Be kind.
  6. You don’t have to find your meaning. You are your meaning.
    • Live it with your whole heart wide open to life. Your meaning is not in wearing the latest fashion or having the coolest stuff. Your meaning is found in how you approach every moment, engage every person from that place where you know, no matter what you think they think about you, you think and know you are amazing, just the way you are.
  7. Seek magnificence.
    • Don’t go looking for mediocrity. Seek to be known through your magnificence and seek always to know others through theirs. Don’t look for fault, seek the lessons, seek the knowing, seek the value in all things.
  8. Risk often.
    • Life isn’t a predictable series of events over which you have ultimate control. The only person you have control over is yourself – and even then you’ll sometimes doubt just how in control of yourself you are. Risk anyway because, if you’re involved with others, there will be lots of messy, sticky, unexpected and sometimes painful things happening on your journey. They’re just things. It’s all just stuff. You are amazing  – I know, I said it already – it’s true. Believe it. Risk living from the place of knowing you are okay, you are amazing, you are magnificent. Risk living as if it’s true — because it is.
  9. Smile often. Cry deep. Laugh lots. Dance always.
    • Smile. It makes a world of difference. And when you cry, cry out loud. When you laugh, laugh out loud. And when you see injustice, ask what can I do to change it, and do that thing with your whole heart and know, that is enough. You are enough. You don’t have to have all the answers, you only need to learn the ones that will allow you to make the difference in the world you want to see and be. And that’s enough. And because you are enough, dance whenever you can. Dance when someone’s watching. Dance when no one’s there. Always remember to dance.
  10.  Get creative.
    • Get creative with how you express yourself. Let creativity guide you into finding your own answers. Don’t go looking inside boxes for the recipe for life. Live it not knowing what’s next. Live it expecting the unexpected. Live it free of holding onto hurts and pains, sorrows and regrets. Live it up. Fill it with joy. and always, always SHINE! Because you are amazing. You are worthy. You are magnificent. And that’s all the truth you need to live your life fearlessly in Love with all of you.

_____________________________________

This posted originally appeared in 2014.

Some things need repeating.

What advice would you give your 13 year-old self?

Namaste.


12 Comments

How do you recharge?

I made a list yesterday of things I wanted to accomplish.

C.C., my beloved, is away on business for a few days. It’s me and Beaumont, the Sheepadoodle and my daughter’s cat Zoë, who is visiting while her parents are away.  (Unfortunately, Marley the Great Cat has not yet returned.)

Home alone. Uncharted time. Why not make a list of things I want to accomplish?

My Home Alone ToDo List

1. Wake up when I feel like it.
2. Lay in bed and savour the morning and a latte in bed.
3. Have a leisurely bath.
4. Go to river and play with Beaumont.  (repeat as necessary later in day)
5. Go to store to buy ball to replace one lost in river. (We lost two yesterday.)
6. Dance by myself. Done. (repeat as necessary)
7. Read a book.
8. Relax and watch the river flow by.
9. Organize front hall closet.
10. Change the bedding.
11. Vacuum
12. Relax and watch the river flow by.

I accomplished 1 – 8 with ease. Jumped to No. 12 several times throughout the day and never did get to No.s 9, 10 and 11. But I did add one more item.

13.  Get creating.

My studio downstairs is not yet set up. It’s planned for September when our contractor has time to comeback and start building.

I still need to create.

And that’s the beauty of a 15ft island and the house to myself.

Not being able to access my art journals — somewhere buried in a box they wait for me to find them — I wasn’t sure what I wanted to create.

I had a ‘needs list’.

  1. It had to be free flowing.
    • I didn’t want to go into anything with a plan. I just wanted to ‘let it happen’.
  2. It had to be tactile.
    • I wanted to feel the work. To not paint a ‘scene’ as much as create a feeling, a sense of being immersed in the process.
  3. It needed to be soft and romantic.
    • I wasn’t into harsh colours or straight lines. I wanted soft tones, muted melding together of colours and lines.

As I was scouring my ‘studio-to-be’ space, I found a box from a hairdryer I’d bought some time ago. It is sturdy, is a perfect small treasure-box size, and has a unique opening. I also found a rolled up tube of all my rice papers as well as naturally made papers and decided to bring it up along with a few paints, pens, inks and other supplies.

And now, my island is a creative mess. A centre for free-flow expression of my desire to simply be present to myself, to the process, to the wonderment and awe of letting the muse have her way with me.

I had a day all to myself yesterday. Aside from saying ‘Thank-you’ to the young woman at the checkout counter at Chapters when I went to see if they had a new issue of Somerset Studio (they didn’t but they did have a beautiful book of Embers, a collection of Ojibway meditations by the late Richard Wagamese), the only people I spoke with were other dog owner’s at the river and both my sisters on the phone.

It was a day of meditation, restoration, and creation.

A day to be present in the stillness of being one with the universe around me.

What do you do to restore your equilibrium? How do you sink into your core and connect to your creative essence? How do you enter the stillness?

 

 


5 Comments

Unexpected Loveliness

I received a beautiful card yesterday in the mail.

A woman I’ve known off and on for many years, a cousin of dear friends, sent it to me.

It was an unexpectedly lovely gesture.

Beyond the beauty of the card, and her reason for picking it, just for me, was the loveliness of her words.

They touched my heart deeply.

I am blessed.

I have been writing an ‘almost daily’ blog for over 10 years. Mark Kolke @ Musings got me into it. “You need a practice,” he said. Or something to that effect. You need to get in the habit of writing everyday.

He was right.

At the time, I’d just begun working at an adult homeless shelter. A large one. Every night almost 1,000 men and women slept under its roof.

It was life changing.

Like writing an ‘almost daily’ blog.

Both have taught me about being me. About how to be authentically human. About how to hold space for others to find their way without getting in their way, or thinking I know ‘their way’. And in that space, how we can both find the common ground of being human, without having to make the other a mirror of how we express our humanity.

Last night, at a fundraiser held in support of the family emergency shelter and housing organization where I work, I met a young man who spent two summers during university working at the same adult singles shelter where I used to work.

“It changed my life,” he said.

I’m with him.

Everyday, people arrive at a homeless shelter carrying their meagre belongings along with an invisible load of angst and fear.

Everyday, shelters across the country give them a place to rest, a place to catch their breath, a place to find their way home again or a place to find a new direction.

In their passing through, they touch hearts and change lives.

Through their brokenness, fierceness, courage, unflaggable desire to live, they give those of  us who have the gift of working in such places, lessons in the power of kindness, the inescapable value of compassion and the beauty of our shared human condition in its multifaceted dimensions.

Like Evelyn, a 70 something woman who stayed at the shelter where I used to work. Cantankerous and feisty, she would occasionally take her pension cheque when it arrived, go to the Greyhound bus depot and travel across the country until her money ran out. At the end of the line she’d do something ‘that got the police called’, and voilá! She had a place to stay for the night. Inevitably, the end of the line would become the beginning of her journey back here until she felt the calling to set out on a journey to somewhere else.

When she passed away, staff discovered a treasure trove of poetry she’d written tucked away in her belongings.

Unexpected loveliness revealed.

While her mental health and addictions trapped her far away from the family she loved, her poetic words told the story of a woman whose love for them never died. A woman who recognized how her mind was playing tricks on her well-being but who never had the resources, or opportunity, to find help, until no one saw she needed help. By then, her family and the life she’d known was gone and the only place she could find where she felt she ‘belonged’, was a homeless shelter.

I received a beautiful card filled with words of affirmation yesterday.

Unexpected loveliness revealed.

An unexpected gift with words to fill my heart with gratitude.

I am so blessed.

_________________________________________________

Thank you IM for your amazing gift. You touched my heart, stirred my soul and raised my spirits with your unexpected loveliness.

 


2 Comments

Are you willing to Shake it Up!

One of my very first bosses had a favourite saying, “Change is here to stay.”

We were working for a high-tech company in the days when ‘high-tech’ was a fledgling new idea and rapid change was the order of the day.

His saying helped frame so much of what we were doing and what was happening in the world of business. And while today a laptop computer and smartphone are ubiquitous, in those days, selling the idea of everyone having a personal computing device on their desk , which actually meant that even ‘the boss’ had to know how to type, was radical.

Change is here to stay.

And still, I balk against change. I resist. I push back.

I am human.

In the presence of change, a departure from the past is signalled. What if I like the past, even if it was uncomfortable? What if to change I need to let go? What if I fear, I’m just not capable of letting go without falling?

Yesterday, someone I respect and admire asked the question:  What is your personal growth plan?

Life is a growth opportunity. We are constantly changing, growing, learning. Do I plan for my growth? Do I map out my learning strategies, identifying my strengths and gaps by leaning into what creates the more I want to experience? Or, do I simply sit back and let it happen, allowing opportunity for my strengths to weaken and my gaps to widen?

One thing in my life that has never changed is:  I have a choice.

To do nothing. Or to be 100% engaged in creating the life of my dreams. Of being a whole partner in my future unfolding.

Recently, as I have navigated being in a new home, a busy work/life that at times feels out of balance, an injury that has impeded my ease of motion, and a new role, ‘Yiaya’ to my daughter’s son which also includes being the mother of a daughter who is now a mother herself, I have felt the tug of resistance. I have felt the desire to push back and fall into the ennui of “I’m getting too old for all this change,” thinking.

I’ve definitely made myself smile, and sometimes shake my head in consternation, at my desire to not live my life fully and instead, just let it happen.

Life does just happen, whether I’m actively engaged or not.

The difference between just letting it happen, and living consciously within its every happening, is my attitude. My desire to step wholeheartedly into each moment and continuously be open to learning, growing and challenging my own sense and need for status quo.

I like things that don’t change.

I like driving to work the same way every day. Buying my latte on my way to the office. Driving home the same route. Walking Beaumont the Sheepadoodle along the same path.

Yet, to condition myself for change, to keep my change muscles flexible, sometimes the best thing to do is shake up the small habitual things I do.

I don’t know what the next moment will bring. I can predict. I can plan. But I can’t be 100% sure.

What I can be 100% sure of is that if I stay tied to my habitual ways, my change muscles will harden. If they harden enough, they will ripple out and atrophy my capacity to grow and learn and evolve. If they get to that state, I risk depriving myself of living life wholeheartedly.

To change with grace, we all need a sense of safety and an inspiring vision.

I have a vision for my life.  I’m just a little sketchy on the details!

Fact is: I’m safe in my world. Safe in my home. My workplace. My community. My relationships. My life.

With my sense of safety securely grounded in the things that matter most to me, I’m safe to create change.

To get more focused, to become more intentional in activating my vision, I choose to do things differently.

So for today, I shall do one thing I’ve always done differently.

Today, I shall take a different route to work.

And in the process, I’ll remind myself what my boss taught me long ago. Change is here to stay.

And that’s okay.

Namaste.

PS.  I can already feel the anxiety of not turning off where I habitually turn off and going to the next exit. Even though I’ve only been driving this route a few months, I am attached to it.

As the song goes, Shake it Up! Shake it Up!


7 Comments

What if this moment was the most important there was?

We sometimes forget that every moment counts. Every moment makes a difference.

In the mundane, daily grind of living, we forget that each moment can be filled with opportunity, beauty, love, joy, possibility, and a host of other attributes that make it shine.

Sometimes, we forget to look at this moment right now as the most important moment to live.

For today, what if we all chose to live this moment right now as the most important moment in which to express ourselves freely, create beautifully, live lovingly?

What if this moment was the most important moment in your life right now?

What if consciously choosing to fill this moment right now, with beauty, joy, love, you create an entire 1,440 moments of beauty, joy and love throughout your day?

What would you change?


7 Comments

What are you creating in your life?

Have you ever asked yourself, “What am I creating in my life?”

Have you ever wondered what your creations say about you? Your journey? Your Beauty? Your Heart? Your willingness to create better in this world?

We are all each creators of beauty and greatness in the world around us.

We all have the capacity to gift to the world our best.

Yet, too often, we walk through each day, head down, taking one step after the next without giving a great deal of thought as to what each step is imprinting, what lasting impressing each gesture, word, action is creating.

Think about it.

Everything you do and say, every thought, deed, action makes an impression.

To ensure everything we create is loving, kind, beautiful and truthful, we must choose wisely.

Even in the moment to moment passing of time, we each have the power to choose to create greatness. And in that greatness, to participate in the unfolding of the greatness of the world around us.

It’s a heady thought. And a sobering one too.

To have such power is not a small responsibility. It’s life-giving.

Such power is not a gift. It is our birthright.

The gift comes when we share our birthright for the betterment of all the world to experience.

When we consciously create better for all the world.

Staying conscious of ‘creating better’ is important.

When we walk through each moment, unconscious of our imprint, we are letting go of our capacity to be great. We are giving the world are mediocrity –  the world has enough mediocrity. It needs our greatness.

As you walk through this day, consider each moment as an opportunity for you to live and share your greatness.

What would you do differently in this moment right now if you breathed into the awesome power of your essential essence. Of being a force for beauty, hope, kindness, love in the world?

What would you create in your world if you could create better?

Do it.

 


6 Comments

When avoidance strengthens fear, dive in!

I have a theory.  It’s been building itself at night, strolling through my sleeping mind, creating pathways that I don’t see until my fingers touch the keyboard and the words appear.

It’s a theory about pain and fear, and our human aversion to both. It’s a theory I know on a deep level, one I enact upon often, even when I know the outcome doesn’t serve me well.

The forming of this theory stems from the fall I had a few weeks ago. One of the hardest hit casualties is my left shoulder and arm. Since the fall, it has not worked well. In fact, because of the pain in it, I avoid using it and am now in that vicious cycle of ‘it hurts to move it so I don’t use it. I don’t use it so it hurts to move it.’

You got it. I am a contributing architect of my own pain.

Now, the theory that has been wandering my neural pathways is about avoidance. I’ve stated it often, ‘avoidance strengthens fear’. Not only is there the physical sense of relief in avoiding doing something we don’t want to, there’s also a physiological/biological corresponding response — everytime you avoid doing something because of fear, there’s a momentary relief that says, ‘ooohhh. That felt good to avoid.’ Next time you go to do it the brain says, “Remember how good it felt to not do that last time? Want to feel that relief again? Then don’t do it.”

In your avoidance you receive a dollop of serotonin, the avoidance increases, as does your fear of doing whatever it is you’re avoiding.

So… back to my theory.

My theory is based on something I believe to be true for the majority of we human beings. We all have places within our psyches/bodies where we carry old angers, pains and fears. Those things that happened in the past that we kind of, but didn’t really, resolve because we didn’t know how and decided to,

  • push our feelings down and not speak up
  • lash out and then pretend everything’s okay
  • say nothing until the ‘right moment’ appeared to get payback – only the right moment never quite appeared

Ultimately, whatever our choice, the anger, pain and fear got buried. Sometimes, we’d see it, or ‘feel’ it as it expressed itself in some unproductive way, and we’d think, ‘oohh, there’s an interesting response to that situation’, but rather than stop to explore our response, we chose to carry on.

In my theory, our lack of exploring our responses is based on the belief that if we stop to explore them, we’ll discover they say things about us we don’t really want to know. That somehow, we will be exposed in the megawatt klieg light glare of introspection as being really bad people.

Remember, avoidance strengthens fear.

The longer we avoid taking that deep dive into our motivations and responses, unravelling the angers, pains and fears of the past, the more we avoid finding the truth about ourselves is not ‘all bad’. It’s just got pockets of our making not so healthy choices in how we responded to situations that were triggered by our unresolved memories of times in the past when we were hurt, shamed, blamed and felt not good enough. In the present, unable to overcome our desire to avoid deep-diving into our fear we’re ‘bad to the core’, we act out from this moment unaware that this moment is actually just a repetition of many past moments.

I went for an ultrasound on my shoulder last week. The socket is inflamed. I have been advised to go for a ‘shot’ in the joint to bring the inflammation down.

I’ve been avoiding making the appointment.

I remember a time when I was around 8 or 9 years old when I was given a needle and fainted.

My father told me I was faking it. To stop being a baby.

I didn’t like being told I was faking it, or that I was acting like a baby but it was not okay to argue with my father.

Is it possible I’ve been avoiding addressing my anger that I didn’t get the attention I deserved as a child and my fear that maybe, just maybe, I really am a baby, that I do fake it? Because somewhere buried deep in my psyche is a fear that says, ‘you don’t deserve to seek help because help means you’re a baby and anyway, you’re just an imposter and nobody really wants to help you.”  Or something like that.

Time to step into my fear and explore my responses.

Time to book my appointment.

Could it be that simple?

______________________________________________________

If you are interested in exploring all your are and can be in this world in a safe, loving and caring environment, check out Choices Seminars.

One of the greatest gifts I ever received was the opportunity to spend time delving into myself in the Choices room, and then to spend years involved in helping others do the same.

It’s a gift I’m glad I didn’t avoid!