All posts by Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

What Dreams May Come…

I am in the between space of sleep and awakened, dreaming.

I am walking through a jungle. Struggling actually.

I am chopping down vines, watching out for snakes and muttering about the people following me. “Can’t they find their own path? Why do they need to follow in my footsteps?”

I am also scared. I can feel the fear clinging to my skin like the sweat that rolls down my back in the heat and humidity of the jungle.

I keep whacking at the vines. Possibly a tad too violently, but hey! They’re thick and unruly and blocking my way.

I pause to catch my breath and someone from behind bumps into me. I turn to tell them to be careful and stop.

It is me. Just a younger me. Maybe a teenager, almost adult me.

I look behind this me and see more me’s.

“Oh,” I think. “It’s me following me. No wonder they don’t go somewhere else. They can’t get away from me.”

I laugh (okay more smirk but I’d like to think I find myself funny in this predicament) and turn back to begin whacking at the vines blocking my path forward.

That’s when the inner wise woman whispers to my heart. “What would happen if you just stopped whacking your way through everything and invited the other you’s to join you in the silence and beauty of this moment where you’re at right now.

I want to tell the inner wise woman what a stupid idea that is, but I don’t. I’ve learned through the years and all my experiences that when I listen deeply to her wisdom, I find myself in peace and love.

I sigh. (I may not talk back but I am not willing to give in graciously. Yet.)

“Fine.”

Quickly, I clear a space in the jungle where I can sit in a circle with all the other me’s.

Wow. There’s a lot of them. All varying sizes, shapes and ages. But they’re all me.

In the light that is able to filter through the clearing, I see their faces.

“Why do you keep following me?” I ask them. A tad huffily but not quite as ungracious as my ‘Fine’ response to the inner wise woman.

“We have nowhere else to go but be with you,” one of the me’s, she’s about 30, says to me.

“Aren’t you tired of following me?” I ask.

They all laugh in unison. “YES!” they cry out as one.

“Then stop,” I reply.  Ha! Take that inner wise woman.

The smart-alec me, she’s about 13, smiles at me knowingly. “Hmmm. You just don’t learn do you?”

“Of course I do,” I reply huffily. I do not say, well if you’d learned your lessons way back when maybe I wouldn’t have said what I said now!

I think I’m pretty smart.

I sit and smile smugly at all of the me’s gathered in the circle.

No one says anything. They just sit silently watching me, their eyes loving and kind.

Finally, I break the silence. “What am I supposed to do with all of you?” I wail. “I gotta get through this jungle and you’re slowing me down.”

Just then, the inner wise woman whispers into my heart, “Invite them in.”

“Yes,” say all the me’s gathered in the circle. “Invite us in. Welcome us. Love us. We are all part of you.”

I am a bit taken aback by their response. They can hear her too?

And, seriously, there’s a lot of them…

But I know truth when I hear it.

And I’m tired of fighting myself.

So I invite them in. Embrace them. Integrate them within my entire being.

And as I do, the jungle disappears and I am standing on a hillside, bathed in sunlight. Birds sing. Flowers blossom. Rabbits play in the grass.

I am no longer afraid. No longer sweating. I am home.

_______________________________________

So… this dream really did come to me this morning as I lay in bed, not quite awake, not quite asleep.

It is profound.

In times of crisis, inner knowing and beauty can rise to the top if we are willing to stop fighting what we wish was true. In loving acceptance of ourselves (all our selves) we flow into acceptance of what is. In that place, regardless of the times around us, love and grace flow freely. We are free.

Namaste.

 

Love. Sweet Love.

This morning I cried. I cried and let my tears fall unchecked by thoughts of why I needed to stop and pull myself together.

These tears do not pull me down. They do not pull me apart.
They set me free.

Free to love myself and all the world. Free to love these tears of sorrow, of grief, of sadness, of anxiety, of fear.

These tears are for me, for you, for our city, country, world.
They are tears for all humankind as we journey together while staying apart, through this pandemic that is radically changing the world as we knew. They are tears for heartbeats stopped and lives slipping away as the world keeps turning and the virus keeps spreading.

Last night, on a zoom call with a couple of friends, I mentioned how I was struggling to stay positive.

Well, you can’t be positive all the time, one of my friends suggested.

She’s right.

There is no virtual wall of positivity strong enough to keep my emotions dammed up. They must be released. Tears are the pathway to my heart beating free of fear.

Fearlessly breathing with all my heart, I find myself drawn by courage to ask, “What does the world need now?”

This morning I cried and allowed my tears to flow freely. In their release, my heart opened and I flowed freely into the sacred intimacy of the moment, without fear, without trepidation. Embraced by the sacredness of ‘the now’, my tears washed down my cheeks and I sank into the deep still waters of life flowing around and within me.

It was there that the answer to my tears arose.  “What the world needs now, is Love. Sweet Love.”

In this crazy-messed up, virus-bewildered world, there is so little I can give or do to relieve the pressure we all feel in this time of Covid-19.

And so, I give all that I can. Love.

I give you Love.

I have Love for you.

It is the only medicine I can carry into the darkness of these days where uncertainty grapples with my peace of mind as I struggle to find my balance in the turmoil of the unknown.

Love.

It is all that I have to share with those who are sick, those who have lost someone they love, those who are struggling to save lives, to care for lives, to take care of all of us sequestered in solitude in our homes.

Love is all I can give those who are scared. Lonely. Fearful of their next breath. Fearful of their next touch.

Love.

I give you my Love this morning. I give you my Love, always.

It may not stop this virus from sweeping across our planet, but Love is the only thing that can transform the fear that stalks our every breath into something we can hold onto so that we can all breathe freely.

Love. Sweet Love.

Namaste.

_________________________

Prepare for the worst. Plan for the best.

A Woman’s Guide To Risk Management In A Time Of Covid.

As I luxuriated in the bath and let the warm water wash over my body, the thought came to me that there are things I need to take care of, just in case…

You know, those thoughts and questions of “What if…” that pop into your head when you’re trying to soak in the pleasure of the moment.

Questions like, “What if I ‘get it’ and have to go to hospital?” To which the answer that immediately rose to the surface was, “I’d better shave my legs and armpits.”

Yeah. I know. Deep.

As a communications professional, I spent a great deal of my career preparing risk management guidelines and responses to be prepared for perceived risks cascading into real events.

Risk management isn’t about lobbying for the worst to happen. It’s about acknowledging what is the worst that could happen and then preparing ‘what if…’ responses. Responses that allow you to focus on supporting the best outcome in a time of crisis when time is limited and measured, calm responses critical.

So, in an effort to ‘be prepared’ I’ve put pen to paper to give you a quick reference guide on how to be prepared for the worst, plan for the best and always have hope of a good outcome.

  1. As already noted – shave those legs and armpits (unless of course you haven’t succumbed to the societal (and the fashion industry’s) pressure to divest legs and armpits of hair – in which case, I tip my razor blade to you. I’m not there yet. This old girl is too inculcated in the lore of smooth legs to let it all grow out. Given my predisposition for hairless appendages, I know it sounds vain, but really, the thought of lying in a hospital bed, fighting for my life while also fighting the critter in my head who wants to remind me, “You shoulda shaved those armpits lady! You look as mangy as a bear coming out of hibernation.”, is just, well, too daunting to think about. And yes.  I know. The critter knows no boundaries.
  2. Skip the make-up. Let’s face it. Au naturel is the way to go when facing a pandemic and a bevy of doctors and nurses fighting for your life. Mascara streaks. Lipstick stains. Au naturel lets everyone see your true colour shining!
  3. My mother, who was always prepared for the worst that could happen, used to counsel me to, “Always wear clean underwear.”  In her wisdom, accidents were always out there, waiting to happen. In the case of a pandemic, you never know when or if you’ll ‘get it’. So, wear those lacy undies tucked away for a romantic getaway. Wear that flirty bra. While it won’t make a lot of difference to the tired medical teams rushing to your care, it will lift your spirits up knowing that you are showing off your best from the inside out.
  4. Make sure you’ve got two or three of your best nighties, pajamas (whatever you wear to sleep in) clean at all times. If you sleep in the buff, consider investing in a couple of nice-looking nighttime ensembles. Nothing too flimsy or flirty, of course. Leaving nothing to the imagination is not good hospital etiquette. Looking your best, even when you’re feeling your worst does a lot for your mental health. And being prepared for recovery keeps you looking on the right side of life.

So, now that we’ve got the frivolous taken care of… if you live alone and have pets, make sure you’ve got a backup plan for their short and longterm care. Yeah. I know. It sounds morbid to plan for longterm housing for your beloved fur babies but that’s why you do it. You love them and want to ensure their well-being no matter what happens to you. Remember – prepare for the worst, plan for the best – and never give up hope.

Some other important and pressing things you need to do in a pandemic are to ensure you have a support team in place. If you live alone, do you have someone you call daily to check-in with?  We humans are designed for contact and connection. We’re herd animals. So keeping your connections alive during this time of social distancing and sequestered solitude is vital.

On a more practical yet essential level, one of the most important items on the list is to ensure your affairs are in order. Like your Will and Personal Directive.  Imagine someone else having to make decisions on your behalf not knowing what your wishes are. Not cool. For those taking care of your interests should you be unable to make your own decisions, your Personal Directive removes the anxiety and stress on what to do to protect your interests and honour your wishes with grace-filled compassion,

In these days of a virus sweeping away the world as we know it, being prepared for the worst that could happen leaves us free to treasure this moment right now in all its exquisite beauty without worry clouding our mind. It creates space for our hearts to beat freely and our imaginations to stretch into possibilities of how we can create better in the world, now and when this virus has passed. It sets us free to never give up on hope.

Namaste.

 

We are at home now.

There was a time, before this time we’re in, when it seemed like time was moving too quickly.

A time when it felt as if, like the limit on my credit card, the closer I got to day’s end, the faster time disappeared into thin air leaving me with nothing to account for all the time I’d spent dreaming of more time to spend in the light of day.

Alone in the dark night of my soul’s yearning for more time, I counted the minutes until I could rise up again and begin chasing the moments of time passing by.

And then, one day, it felt like time stopped and the world stopped with it and we crashed into the realization that we were trapped on this planet Earth holding tight to its orbit spinning around the sun. When it felt like in one global exhale, we had all run out of time because we had to face the reality of the invisible enemy amongst us spinning a web of destruction around the globe. We were its unintentional hosts and our human connection was passing it hand to hand, threatening our loved ones and tearing our world apart.

Horrified that we were its carriers, we bowed beneath the crashing waves of panic that washed over us. Adrift in a sea of fear, we retreated from the onslaught of this invisible enemy and ran for our lives.

The enemy didn’t care where we ran. It followed us everywhere. It stalked us where ever we went. When we hoarded supplies, when we boarded aircraft, when we sailed on ships across the ocean blue. It didn’t care for our political persuasions or religious leanings, the colour of our skin, our economic excesses or poverty. It only cared about its own survival.

Under the relentlessness of its incursion into our lives, we were forced to disconnect from the world we knew so well and find our way back, back to the place our stories began, home.

We are home now. Home amidst the chaos of our lives disrupted by this global disruption. Struggling to fit the pieces together. Struggling to keep ourselves and each other afloat as the waves keep crashing against the shores of our fear we will be overcome by this enemy we cannot see with the naked eye but know is there, waiting.

We are home now, struggling to hold onto hope. Struggling to find our way through the fear we will not have a world to return to.

In the midst of all the uncertainty, we struggle to create daily routines, balancing the needs of children out of school with the demands of working from home. Juggling daily needs of normal life with caring for ourselves, our families and elderly parents and others who rely on us to support them. All while trying to keep our distance while searching for peace of mind amidst the constant barrage of news we cannot stop watching.

We struggle and we remind ourselves. Again and again. This too shall pass. We are at home now. Those of us privileged enough to have a place to call home. We are at home. Safe. Distanced yet not apart. Doing our part to put a stop to the enemy’s invasion into our daily lives. This enemy that does not respect borders, or laws, or our human existence.

We are at home. May we all say a prayer for those who don’t have a place to call home and call out urgently to our leaders to create pathways so that they too may know the safety of home.

The streets of our cities are emptied out. The air is silent of horns blaring and engines roaring. The skies are clear of jet streams trailing off towards the far horizon. The forests are filled with songbirds singing. The rivers are running clear. The fish are returning home.

Mother Earth is catching her breath in this interlude of time where all humanity is taking shelter from this enemy that would attack wherever two or more of us are gathered.

We are at home now. Biding time until the danger passes and we can once again gather with family and friends, and walk along streets crowded with our neighbours and gather together in public places and places of worship and wilderness, and places of song and dance and theatre and art and food and wine and play and laughter and joy. Where we can celebrate fearlessly together, this one, precious, beautiful thing called life on this planet Earth we call home.

We are one planet. One human race.

In this time that feels like no other time we have ever witnessed, in this time where the numbers climb and we watch breathlessly for the curve to flatten and the deaths to abate and the fear to die down, let’s each of us light a candle and say a prayer for those who have lost the fight and those who are still fighting to stay alive. Let us say a prayer for those who are standing at the frontlines saving lives and those who are leaving their homes to ensure we can stay home in comfort. Let us say a prayer and give thanks for their sacrifices. We are strong because they stand between us and this enemy. They give us hope.

This too shall pass. This solitude at home. This social distancing that invites us to stand united yet apart.

This too shall pass.

In this time of its passing, let’s join our hands together to encircle all the globe. Let us rise up as one and call one another home, home to the heart of our humanity beating in harmony for all the world to hear how, in the face of this enemy, we came together as one human race to live in peace, harmony and Love on this beautiful planet that is our home.

Namaste.

Can we? Will we? Let Love Lead?

 

No. 60 #ShePersisted Series

In the spring of 2017, when Senator Elizabeth Warren was shut down in the Senate with Mitch McConnell’s statement, “She was told. She was warned. Nevertheless, she persisted.” I felt the rising up of something deep and primordial within me.

Silent for so long, I wanted to express myself. To speak to how that comment rippled down through the cells of my body, tearing apart my DNA, awakening forgotten moments of being put down, shut up and shut out by ‘the patriarchy’.

I put ‘patriarchy’ in quotation marks because I do not want you to think that I am targeting men. I am speaking of a systemic, insipid idea that has been woven into the fabric of our society, threaded through our DNA, our psyches, our lives. It is an old idea. So old, so inculcated into our human being that we don’t see it as distinct and separate from our human condition, we see it as part of who we are and how we are in the world.

Sometimes, we brush it away with comments of “Oh that’s just the way it is.” or, “You should be grateful. There are a lot of women in this world who do not have the privileges and rights you do.” Or, “Hey it could be worse! You could be…[and then we name some other being whose journey is even more fraught with peril than women’s rights.]” As if gratitude for being reluctantly granted the right to ‘being treated as equal’ will somehow wash away the blood, sweat and tears women have shed in their fight to gain a foothold in a man’s world they helped create.

The idea is simple. Men, as in the male of our species, know what to do because they have the power and the moral authority to control the world. It’s not that they want to. It’s just the way it’s always been. To maintain the balance of life on earth, all we womenfolk have to do is be grateful for what they give us and not rock the boat, too much.

Please, don’t jump all over me for stating this. As I said, I am not targeting men. I am shining a light on what that moment when Elizabeth Warren was shut down in the Senate, awoke in me.

The need, no the imperative, that I speak up. Rise up. Give up pretending I’m okay with the status quo. That I’m down with buying into the moral imperative of giving women a place at the table as long as ‘they’ get to dole out the number of seats in equal proportion to their assessment of what is right for mankind.

Discrimination, segregation, economic disadvantaging/control, sexualization of the feminine form, acts of violence perpetrated on the feminine form and on humanity, limiting or denying the rights of individuals because of their colour, sexual identity, creed, economic status… are subtle even in their overtness.

And so, I began the #ShePersisted series of paintings. My intent had been to create one or two and then move on.

Three years later, the muse keeps flowing with thoughts and ideas, the series voice still pushes at my creative expression, insisting on her right to be heard.

So, I heed her.

With the advent of Covid-19, she is becoming more insistent that we let go of our fear, our clamouring for more, our incessant building of bigger and better to the benefit of the few. She is calling out for all of us to give into the simple yet profound belief that Love is the answer.

No one person can lead the way out of this crisis. No one person has the answers.

We are, this entire planet made up of over 7+ billion humans and billions upon billions of animals and flowing rivers and oceans, icebergs and boreal forests and jungles and deserts, mountains and valleys, hills and plains. We are all spinning together in space, held fast to this place we call home by the gravity that holds us up. We are woven together by our one shared human condition.

Can we. Will we. Choose Love over Fear?

Can we. Will we. Let Love Lead?

________________

The series can be viewed HERE.

Thank you again, Miriam, for the inspiration for Let Love Lead.

 

 

Let us be like a butterfly…

There was once a little girl who was afraid of colour. To see the golden yellow of the sun, or the deep green velvet of the forest, or the vibrant hues of the garden filled her heart with fear.

Terrified of all the colour in the world, she walked through each day with her eyes squinted against the onslaught of beauty that she could not witness. Fearful of the world of colour  that bombarded her senses with every glance, she covered her ears to the songs of enchantment all around and cowered beneath the belief that she was right to cling to her fears.

“Give me black and white,” she pleaded in the darkness of her mind.

And the world closed in around her until all she saw were the shadows between the colours of the world.

I wrote the story above several years ago. It had appeared in my meditation, tendrils of thoughts whispering their away into substance.  When I opened my eyes and let the words flow, they found their substance on the page and formed themselves into story.

It is what I find most enlivening and mystical about the creative process. When I stop squinting my eyes, when I stop fearing what might be, or not be, magic and wonder happens.

When I fear, when I force or try to push the muse into a container, to direct her into this way or that, the wonder disappears and I am left feeling left out, apart, and let down, telling myself, there is no magic. There is no mystery. there is no possibility of beauty rescuing the light from the darkness.

In fear, I fall into that place where all I see is what I fear. Where all I know is what I expect to be; the mundane, the same as, the predictability of my life lived in the comfort of the darkness I crave when I let go of seeing the light in everything and everyone.

In my studio, immersed in the creative process, the world falls away into that place where all I know, all I sense, is its beauty. In that space, with my music playing, candle burning and my fingers splattered with paint, there is no world out there, there is no war, no famine, no hurricanes and definitely no virus taking the world hostage.

There is only the muse and me. Connected. Committed. Creative. And in that connection, I become part of the flow of the essential essence of the Universe. I am one with life. One creative expression flowing with the expressions of all the world around me.

In these days where a virus is shutting us into our homes and keeping us at safe but constrained, distance from one another, connecting to our creative core, expressing our gratitude in songs of joy and messages of hope, is vital to our well-being.

We are the ones who must create the path for the world to survive this viral onslaught. We can only do that together.

Staying home, keeping our distance, washing our hands, matters. To ourselves, our loved ones, friends, community. It matters to the world.

It also matters that we stay connected to the beauty, the wonder and awe of the world within ourselves and all around us. It matters that we share our best to create better for all the world.

Imagine…

We are each a butterfly fluttering our wings to create a tsunami of well-being around the world.

When we flutter our wings as one, we create One world of possibility, hope, beauty and Love.

Emotional Self-Care. Say what?

In times of high stress, self-care is essential. But, self-care is not just about doing the things that keep you entertained, active, your body fit and beautiful, and your mind interested in life and everyone around you. It’s not just about keeping ‘the body’ healthy and in good working order and ‘the thinking mind’ engaged. It’s about ensuring the whole body — the physical, mental and emotional, and spiritual self – is honoured as a collective. It’s about ensuring you are promoting well-being in all of you as a whole – from how you express yourself through your words, acts and deeds, in your thoughts and in your relationships. And, how you respond to your emotions and feelings.

When forced, as Covid-19 is doing, to change our social ways of being together, to self-isolate and draw away from human contact, it is only natural that our emotions can feel like they are all over the map. There’s no guidebook on how to do this and there is no one single human being on this planet who has done it before.

We are one human race learning how to navigate these waters together.

This is the first time for all 7+billion of us.

And our emotions are with us. They are part of us and how well we take care of them will be reflected in how we respond to the day-to-day of this crisis: Healthily. Unhealthily. Lovingly. Cruelly. Kindly. Unjustly…

Right now, there are people feeling scared, stressed, anxious, alone, frightened, cowardly, confused, bitter, resentful, resistant, sad, depressed, bombastic, arrogant, flippant, distanced, hopeless, helpless, alone… These are all natural responses to change and the unknown. To crisis and stress. To what is happening in the world right now.

It isn’t what we’re feeling that makes our world better, or worse. It’s honouring and expressing our feelings and emotions in ways that create harmony, peace, kindness, joy, love within us and all around us, that will create the change we want to see in the world.

Being able to name our emotions is the first step in honouring them.

Ask yourself, what am I feeling right now? In this moment? What am I willing to acknowledge as present? What am I avoiding?

See, I can acknowledge that I am feeling calm, present, happy even.

However, because I have a life-long aversion to admitting I am feeling sad, scared, confused… I like to avoid those emotions. When I was a little girl ‘being happy’ was how I avoided feeling sad, scared, confused by all that was going on in the world around me. I remember my father saying, “You’d better be happy! You’ve got a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes. You have no right to be sad.”

Do you think that messaging still plays out in my life today?

If I don’t take good care of my emotional self, if I do not honour ALL that I am feeling, it most definitely does — and believe me, when I am not paying attention to all my feelings and honouring them in life-giving ways, my expression of those messages is not very pretty!

There are many ways to take care of your emotional well-being.

Meditation. Breathing. Being in nature. Holding silence as a gift. Art-making. Reading. Spending time with a loved one. Talking with a friend.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help you find your emotional balance and keep you from tearing up your world.

But, in those moments when something in the here and now triggers a response from way back when we were children learning to cope with things in our world that frightened, confused, hurt us, we need to step up and get accountable for our responses.

In those moments, it is imperative to BREATHE. Slow down. BREATHE.

In those moments, you can even close your eyes when you breathe, just for a moment. BREATHE.

In those moments, one of the things that I do is I touch where my heart is with my right hand as I BREATHE.

Sometimes, I look away from whomever I’m engaged with (just for a moment) and then, return my eyes to look deeply into theirs.

Sometimes, I ask the other person to BREATHE with me. To look into my eyes as I look into theirs.

And I BREATHE.

I know how easy it is to want to take flight or fight in those moments.

BREATHE.

I know how the thinking mind wants to take over and ensure we tell the other person why it’s all their fault, how they are wrong, how they are….

Before you say anything to the other, repeat silently to yourself,:

Like me, you are struggling to cope with the unkown and stress of all that is going on.

Like me, you are feeling feelings you cannot name.

Like me, you have been scared by all of this.

Like me, you have been confused by all of this.

Like me, you are learning how to navigate all of this for the very first time.

Like me, you want to live.

Like me, you want to protect those you love and yourself, from this virus.

Like me, you’re not sure you can.

Like me, you are feeling lost, frightened and very very concerned about what the future will hold.

And then, ask yourself, “What can I do right now to create better in this situation?

What can I do to build a bridge of compassion and love between our hearts?

And then…. do that. Do that one thing you can think of that will bring you closer, not drive you apart.

And after you’ve done that one thing, do the next one thing and then the next.

Always building bridges of compassion and love.

Always drawing closer.

Always expressing your emotions in ways that do not destroy the feelings of love and joy, harmony and grace you want to have fill up your world.

Namaste