The Rainbow Chasers Guide to Changing the World through Loving Self-Talk

You can be hard on yourself or kind to yourself.

Either way, you’ll get things done.

The hard way will be harder. The kind way will be easier.

The hard way, or the easy. Which do you choose?

I know, it sounds so simple. Just be kind to yourself and it will all work out.

Being kind to ourselves isn’t all that easy when the habit of being hard on ourselves takes up most of our inner conversation.

Many years ago, I kept track of the number of times I gave myself negative self-talk versus positive. I carried around a little notebook and for one week I made a check mark in either the negative or positive column on the page.

It kind of made me want to cry to see how much the negative outweighed the positive.

It was definitely an eye, mind and heart opener.

I sure wouldn’t want to hang around me if I was constantly shedding negativity into the world.

Oh wait! I was. And I was holding it all inside me. Ugh.

Hanging around with myself wasn’t a choice. The choice was, what was I willing to do to make the experience of being with me more enjoyable?

Right.

Change my relationship with me.

I’m not saying it was an easy transition, moving from always talkin’ sh*ttalk to myself to being a voice of gentle loving-kindness. But it sure made a difference once I made the decision to stop the sh*ttalk and get with the “I’m okay. I’m human” talk.

For me, it meant ensuring the ‘Positive’ column in my notebook was filled with more check-marks than the negative side. My consciousness of that goal kept me aware of my inner talk. Every time I caught myself saying something negative to myself, I had to find one positive to match it. That way, at least the negativity didn’t grow into the longer column!

Eventually, I moved from one positive to two until, now, when I do say something negative to myself, like ‘how could you be so stupid?’ or, “Seriously? What were you thinking?” I quickly breathe in (deeply) and give myself grace. “It’s okay Louise. You made a mistake. Your job is to be accountable for your mistakes, not give yourself a life sentence of grief.”

See, sometimes, when I do make mistakes, like say something that hurts someone, or do something I’m not all that proud of, I want to revert back to that place where my mistakes are worthy of my being whipped, tarred and feathered. In those moments, I must surrender my need for punishing myself by making myself ‘not okay’ and call on grace to love me through it.

We are all ‘okay’. It’s our behaviour that can be optional. And when our behaviour gives evidence to our not being as okay as we’d like to be, then we work on our behaviour.

Changing behaviour isn’t about working on our essential goodness, our inherent human magnificence. Those are givens. They are universal in all humanity. Remember?  We are born magnificent and then… life interferes and gives us reasons to doubt our magnificence. Our job then becomes remembering what we forgot so long ago, we worry it no longer exists.

That’s our universal human journey. Returning to love and our inherent magnificence.

What’s not so universal and not such a given is that we treat ourselves, and each other, with dignity, respect, kindness, Love.

And that’s where the work is — in shifting our behaviours to be a reflection of the values that make this world a better place.

We can make it hard. Or do the easy.

The easy begins with talking nicely to ourselves so that our hearts are at ease, our minds calm and our spirits lifted up by our generosity of spirit.

From that place, well let’s just say, changing the world becomes a cakewalk! (Okay maybe not quite so Pollyanish but if we’re all talking nice to ourselves, we’ll be talking nice to everyone else too!)

See, the Rainbow Chasers Guide to Changing the World through Loving Self-Talk! Easy-peasy!

By Golly! I think I’ve got it! My new career.

Day 29 — 30 Day Art Project
Song of Joy

I’ve got it!  My new career! I know exactly what it is.

Seriously. It came to me this morning as I was sitting watching the sun come out from a cloud laden sky and dapple the golden leaves of the trees outside my window and the sun fairies dance on the waters of the river flowing by.

You know how tornado chasers race all over the countryside in search of winds to follow and photograph, to document and capture?

Well, I’ve decided my new career will be kind of like that… but not really.

I’ve decided to become… A Rainbow Chaser!

Okay. so it’s not really a well-known or probably even a ‘real’ career that will earn me a gazillion dollars but, hey, if it brings me joy, Why not do it? And anyway, who’s to say my donning the mantle of Rainbow Chaser won’t make it ‘go viral’ and all that jazzy stuff that happens when something someone does captures the imagination and whims of others?

Why Rainbow Chaser?

Because I can.

Because who doesn’t love rainbows?  And heck. The world is filled with them! They’re universal. They’re magical. And they always appear after the rain when the sun comes out and sparkles through the light.

Me, I love rainbows and after several days of wallowing in the dark  matter of the icky stuff that sometimes clogs the free-flowin’ style of my living life on the outside of my comfort zone, chasing rainbows is so much better than living under the dark cloud of my own unease.

See, sometimes I get stuck in the story I am telling myself about why I am not wanted, not needed, not welcome on this journey called life.

Sometimes, I believe my own critics who troll the avenues of my mind, seeking out weak spots on the edges of my limiting beliefs and the fears tucked away in hidden alcoves where the sun don’t shine.

And here’s the thing, I figure as a Rainbow Chaser, I’ll be dancing in the rain and the sun because everyone knows, rainbows are always waiting in the wings for their star appearance after the rain.

To be in the right place to capture the rainbow, I gotta be willing to stand in the rain knowing the sun is still shining behind grey clouds. I gotta hold onto my belief that if I breathe deeply enough, the wind’s of time, supported by a whole lot of Love, will blow those grey clouds away and the sun, along with its beautiful sparkling light-lit rainbow, will appear.

And then, another question popped into my head like a gopher on Ground Hog day popping out of his hole.

Are there rainbows in the night? Do they appear by moonlight after the rain has passed but we never see them because we’re sound asleep waiting for the sun to rise?

Oh boy! My Rainbow Chasing career is off to a good start.

A deep question to dive into and explore. Because, seriously, if I’m sleeping through the dark, how will I know when the sun has risen? What if, I choose to let rainbows and moonbeams cast away the dark and create a world of joy. A world, my heart can really sing about!

Yup. Rainbow Chaser, the career of dreams and flights of fancy.  A career worth dancing in the rain for and singing out loud my song of joy.

Not bad for a day that started under gloomy skies!

Now that I’ve got my eyes wide open and my heart a beatin’, I’ll see ya’ll later.

I’m off chasing rainbows, and fairy dancers and sunburst making daydreams worth chasing! And maybe, when the sun sets, I’ll go chasing moonbeams and starlit staircases leading up into the glittering beauty of a beguiling night sky strewn with a gazillion diamonds — cause the more I think about it, the more I’m thinkin’ there are rainbows in the night —  diamonds cast ’em when they capture the light just so… Why wouldn’t the stars?

Ain’t life a wonder?

Acceptance in Every Peace of My Heart

Ahh. Acceptance. Of self. Beauty and the Beast. Yin and Yang. Light and Dark.

Sister Joan Chittister writes:

Self-knowledge gives us perspective, and self-esteem gives us confidence, but it’s self-acceptance that gives us peace of heart.

One of the most challenging things I have ever done is to accept myself as a mother who once was so lost she believed the only path to peace of heart was to desert her daughters.

It’s a long story.

The short version is, I got lost in an abusive relationship and lost myself. In that dark place, I held no mercy for me. I was beyond saving.

I believed the only way to save my daughters was to leave them. Because without me in their lives, I believed they would be free to live their lives without the pain and shame of me and all I’d done to hurt them.

Learning to love and accept myself as that mother was not easy. Especially when the question I asked myself everyday was, “What kind of mother would do that?”

And while the answer was wrapped up in the pain and trauma of being abused, I had to practice self-compassion and mercy every single day — for a long time, whether on some days I wanted to or not —  to get to a place where I could look at that woman who was, and is, me and say, “I forgive you. I love you.” I had to be willing to give up beating her up with my anger, pain, sorrow, shame and accept her brokenness with all my heart.

And then, I had to commit to walking in mercy every day to live with peace of heart and mind so that I could find the grace to create love and joy, peace and harmony in my world.

I had to stop using what happened as an excuse to not turn up in my life today. I had to quit telling myself I was a victim or even a survivor. I was a victor and I had to don my victor’s robe of glory over adversity, beauty over pain, love over fear, mercy over judgement.

I could not stand in the light if I was constantly turning off the lights of my own magnificence. Standing in my magnificence (and not judging it as tarnished, bruised, unworthy of being seen) was essential if I was to be a light and a safe haven for myself and others.

I had to, and still have to, practice radical mercy on my heart. Because magnificence does not come with a clean slate. It arrives wrapped up in everything I am, including all the wounds and scars, darkness and fears of me, myself and I.

And accepting who I am, all of me, is the path to peace of heart.

I can know myself and live confidently as myself, but to live in the wholeness of peace of heart, I must accept not just my wisdom but also my wounds, not just my light but also my dark, and not just my beauty but also my beast.

I invite you, just for today, to practice radical mercy on yourself. Stand in  front of the mirror, look deeply into your eyes and say out loud, “I forgive you. I love you. I accept all of you in my heart.”

And so it is.

Namaste.

The Exquisite Unknowing

It is the exquisite beauty and angst of this journey called life. So much is unknowable. When you name ‘the something’ you think you know, it is changed and you begin again the quest to know that which is unknowable.

And still, we try to know it, name it, place it. To hold it fast. To let it go.

Like the silence. It is unknowable and immune to our entreaties for certainty we exist within the silence, that we will be heard within its deep embrace.

These thoughts come to me this morning as Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I wander the woods that line the river where he likes to play.

Autumn’s golden hues are sprinkled amidst the still green leaves of summer. The air is fresh. The river cold.

Yesterday I walked these same paths. They were different then. I could not know what I would experience today. Today was unknowable to me yesterday and anything I think I know today, will be different tomorrow.

I could not know the experience of ‘retirement’ until I entered into it. It is different than I imagined. Filled with the mystery and wonder that arises within me as I journey deeper into its unknowning. Filled with feelings I had never experienced and could not conveive of until I entered its sacred space.

In its complexity lies its simplicity, the paradox of change and growth. What was becomes different, filled with what was and the what wasn’t known before. And as soon as I name it, it becomes unknowable again for in the naming what I believe I know, I create space for all I do not know to enter.

What do I not know cannot be answered with words. It must be experienced, felt, rested within for it to become part of my being who I am when I let go of believing I know everything there is to know about me, myself and I.

We are all the magician and the performer, conjuring up stories we tell to make sense of who we are in a world of mystery. Steeped in the dichotomy of being unknowable from the outside in. With every surrender of knowing what we believe to be true about ourselves, we journey deeper into the mystery of being our true selves in the unfathomable mystery of life.

In embracing our journey as not being defined by who we think we are, we discover the exquisite unknowing of all we thought we knew about our true selves. In wonder and awe of all we do not know, we discover we truly are magnificent.

I had a wonder-filled wander with Beaumont this morning.

I am grateful for the unfolding of my unknowing.

May we each fall into the joy of unknowing who we think we are to discover how magnificent we truly are.

Namaste.

 

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The Age of Grace

 

I am sitting in meditation when a question slips into my mind as effortlessly as a leaf falling to the ground, ” I wonder if a rose resents its petals for losing their bloom?”  Or the tree for that matter. Does it resent the leaf for dying and falling?

I am getting older. I know. Amazing right? But wait. So are you. We all are. It is the inevitable drawing of time that began when this sacred journey of our life was first conceived.

And the fact is, while I may sometimes look askance at the evidence of time’s weathered marks etched into my skin, resenting it is like the tree resenting the falling leaf.

It makes no difference to the leaf (nor to time for that matter) how the tree experience’s its fall. Just as it makes no difference to ‘life’ how I weather my journey. It does, however, make a significant difference to me and my experience of life, how I navigate the inevitability of aging.

Holding myself in a sea of resentment at all I tell myself I’ve lost, I lose precious time to sing and dance, laugh and play, create and learn, Love and be loved.

Holding myself in joyful acceptance of all I learn and experience with every passing moment, I gift myself time to live joyfully with grace in this moment right now, dancing and laughing, spinning about, leaping for joy and embracing all of life’s wondrous gifts at every state of my journey.

Sitting at my desk right now, looking out the window at the trees that line the river, I watch a golden leaf release its hold on a tiny branch and drift slowly to the ground.

It does not rush. It does not plummet. It dirfts, effortlessly, enraptured by its timeless dance with gravity and air. Light. Joyful. Grace in motion.

The leaf will fall. The seasons will turn. Time will pass. Life will continue to evolve and each of us will continue to age until all that is left are the memories we leave behind and the Love we knew, the Love we shared, the Love we embraced.

We come into this world through an act of Love. All we can carry with us when we leave is Love and all we can leave behind is Love.

How we fill in the pieces between the Love is up to each of us.

It’s my choice whether I fall through time resisting gravity’s pull, or let gravity hold me in its loving embrace as I fall through time joyfully dancing in a sea of grace.

 

Namaste.

 

 

 

The Inviolable Truth of Worth and Belonging

Painted fabric on Canvas Paper and acrylic paints — 11 x 14 — Love Knows The Way ©2019 Louise Gallagher

It seems so simple. To trust in Love. To believe the light is lighting the path through the darkness. To know that, even though you can’t see the next step clearly, the way to the light is to trust in the earth beneath your feet.

So why then, is it so easy sometimes to get lost in the belief Love is fickle and the glaring light is actually a fast approaching train? And the ground will rise up to hit you if you take that step?

I have been pondering these questions (and others) recently as I struggled with the voice inside that would have me believe, I am not worthy. I do not belong.

There was a time when running away from the tough questions would have been my answer.

I have learned that running away doesn’t bring answers. Just more questions I’m trying to avoid.

I have learned that standing in the dissonance of my unease is the path to my peace of mind and ease of heart.

It ain’t easy. Sometimes, I truly do just want to turn my back on my own angst and say, “Get over it, Louise. Grow up.”

Challenge is, it isn’t about over, under or even through. It’s all about being within it, (whatever the angst) to grow into the learning that is pushing its way up out of the depths of my being.

Being present has its rewards, and its risks. Sometimes, the voice of wisdom rises up out of the depths of my heated inner debates to surprise me with the obvious.

I love hot baths. Hot baths and my morning coffee, a book and classical music are my ‘heaven on earth’ go to wake up call.

Challenge is, sometimes, the mix of hot water in the tub and my morning latte creates a temperature I just can’t take. (Hmmm… perhaps I need to only take baths in the evening so I can drink wine instead!)

Yesterday morning, as I lay in the bath telling myself if I just stayed there long enough my body temperature would adjust to the too hot water, I’d be able to stand the heat.

And that’s when the voice of wisdom broke through the surface and showered me with its brilliance.

“What are you trying to prove?” it asked gently. “That you can take it?”

“Well… yes,” I replied. I was thinking it was kind of obvious that was what I was doing so why on earth would the voice of wisdom be asking me such a ridiculous question.

“Why?”

And that’s where I got stuck. Why indeed?

What did I have to prove?

I started to laugh.

I had nothing to prove and a lot to learn.

I turned on the faucet and added some cooler water to the bath.

Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do for yourself when you feel like you’re swimming in hot water is to cool it off.

It’s not about proving I’m tough. It’s about learning how to let go of believing a tough skin will protect me from life’s inevitable slings and arrows.

Only Love can do that. Because in Love’s embrace I don’t need protection. I am always safe.

In Love’s embrace I don’t question my belonging or worth. I know it’s truth is inviolable.

Namaste

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And yes… I’m trying out a new design format for my blog. I’d love your feedback. Thanks!

Earth Goddess — 30 Day Art Project: Day 23 (Haiku)

Earth Goddess
Mixed Media on Canvas Paper
11 x 14
©2019 Louise Gallagher

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