Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Want to create peace? Practice better.

In a conversation recently, someone said their passion is to end war.

Mine is to create peace.

We are not in opposition. We just see our passion through a different lens. A lens that works for both of us and for the world. A lens that allows the ‘end game’ to be a world where war does not call us to pick up arms of destruction but instead, to hold our arms out wide to one another so we can embrace one another in peace.

A world where the fear of war does not create terror in the heart of every human being because creating peace is the goal of every government and citizen.

“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Oppositional energy only creates more of the same.” — Richard Rohr

I am opposed to war. Terror. Guns. Using violence as a means to gain power, control, dominance over another. But I do not fight against it.  To create change, I practice creating space for all the world to change its mind about war by seeing the possibility of peace as the alternative path.

Which means, I am also opposed to accepting that there is no way to create or practice better in this world.

There is always a way to practice better in the world.

We are human beings. Genetically designed to continually evolve, change, shift, create. If we weren’t, how would 7 billion different persons with unique DNA exist on this planet earth?

We are wired for change. No matter how hard we resist.

Take for example, life. Life is a process of aging. And aging is all about change.

The challenge is, we often struggle to hold onto and protect the past and fight against falling in love with the possibilities of different, new, better ways of being present on this earth.

Look at the cosmetics industry. It is built on the belief that we can reverse the aging process. It fosters the belief that aging is bad.

I can’t think of a better way to go through life than to age with grace. To be at peace with the aging process by being willing to fall in love with the continuous changes within me that have been happening since the moment I was conceived.

To age with grace is to keep my mind and heart open. To be conscious of my ever-growing capacity to be present in this world with all my senses keenly attuned to my spiritual, emotional and mental state of being.

And when I become more conscious of my capacity to be present in this world in new and better ways, when I let go of old ways of ‘getting my way’ through manipulation, coercion, bullying, victimhood by stepping into my full human capacity to create love, peace, joy, harmony, I create a world of change all around me.

In that sea of change, anything is possible. Including peace.

 

 

 


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Can education end poverty, homelessness and discrimination?

I am at a dinner party. The people around the table are all successful by society’s norms. They have achieved status, good jobs, make contributions to their organizations, families, communities, society.

One of the guests states they know how to resolve the problem for Canada’s Indigenous people. “Give them goals,” they say with conviction, “and hold them to the outcomes.”

The other guests murmur in agreement. Yes. Yes. It’s what’s needed. They need to stop whining and start doing more to be productive members of society. Sure, we messed up, someone mentions, we treated them unfairly, but that’s in the past. It’s time to move on.

I chime in and ask if anyone around the table has read the Truth and Reconciliation Report. There’s a lot of head shaking, No.

So, we can sit here with answers when no one has read a report that provides clear directions on how to move forward in addressing the inequities and injustices that have created the trauma and crisis today.

Good point, someone says. But they still need to be held accountable to goals. They need to progress.

And who are we to say what that looks like I ask, when we don’t understand the people, culture, history and our role in creating the issues today?

I ask one man, the CEO of a large multi-national corporation how he would respond if a consultant, hired to help fix a problem in the organization, walked in and said, I know the answers. Here’s what you have to do. Yet, the consultant had not even looked at the organization’s balance sheet, annual report, strategic plan or interviewed leadership, etc.

The man laughed and replied, “I’d throw him out.”

Yet, it’s okay to act like that consultant about a situation you have not spent any time understanding.

There was a long silence and the conversation changed to another topic.

 

Yesterday, a reader commented on my post that education is vital. “… the answer is education. It lifts people, it lifts families, it lifts communities. And, while it is lifting people out of chronic cyclical poverty and its attendant problems, it lifts spirit, self-esteem/pride and empowers more accomplishment.”

I agree.

But it’s not just those experiencing homelessness, or poverty, or other social injustices who need education. It is all of us.

Recently, a man told me of his experience looking for a place to live. He arranged for a viewing of an apartment and when he got there, it was mysteriously, suddenly, unavailable.

You can’t tell the colour of my skin on the phone, he told me. But I could see his [the landlord’s] revulsion by the look on his face when he opened the door.

The man is Blackfoot.

It happens all the time, he told me. Sometimes, people don’t even bother to pretend. They just say, “I don’t rent to Indians.”

It doesn’t just happen to indigenous people, but to immigrants too.

Someone sees the colour of their skin, and doors close in their face.

Education is needed.

For everyone.

Discrimination hurts all of us. It fosters resentment, disillusionment, despair; entitlement, injustice, disrespect.

It creates Us and Them communities where the ‘have’s’ deny the ‘have not’s’ access to the resources and supports they need to be able to live without feeling the burden of poverty pressing them down.

It is not up to those who are being discriminated against to prove to the rest of us that they are equal, worthy or deserving. It’s up to each of us to let go of our thinking that someone else is not equal, worthy or deserving of our consideration, fair treatment, justice, dignity.

When we tear down the barriers we have erected to keep ‘them’ out of where we live, work, play and create communities, we create a world where tolerance, understanding, justice, and consideration for all has room to flow in all directions.

And that requires a willingness to learn — about the impact of our thinking we have all the answers for those we judge to be less than, other than, outside of our human experience.

We need to educate ourselves on the injustices we create because of our privileged thinking and belief that ‘they’ are the one’s who need to educate themselves to do better.

We are a planet of diverse cultures, faith, traditions, ways of being on this earth.

What we share in common is our human condition. And that is all we need to be equal to one another.

The rest… it comes with educating ourselves about the beauty in our differences, and learning to become compassionate in our view of how those differences make us each unique and richer in the experience of sharing our world in ways that create better, not just for the few, but for everyone.

Namaste.

 


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New Moon Rising

Photo credit: Nousnou Iwasaki
Source: https://unsplash.com

The other day, in a conversation with a friend, we spoke about what it takes for families to break the cycle of poverty that has in many cases, surrounded their lives since the beginning of their lives.

“When all you know is hardship, it’s hard to trust there’s anything else in the world but a rough ride,” my friend said.

Trust.

Trust doesn’t come easy when the world around you has appeared untrustworthy, filled with angst and turmoil. When you feel like you’re constantly living on the dark side, it’s hard to trust that when something good appears on your path, it will hang around for awhile to create more goodness.

When you’ve seldom, or possibly never, felt the lightness of being free, safe, protected, cared for, visible or seen for the beautiful soul you truly are, it’s not so easy to believe tomorrow will be a brighter day

When I began creating the #ShePersisted series I continue to work on, it began with the thought of creating one painting to speak out against the silencing of Senator Elizabeth Warren and to say to women everywhere, we are not helpless.

Feeling helpless is a common response to ‘bad things happening’ in our lives.

The feelings of being helpless are compounded when we feel  like bad things always happen.

Woman or man, we have all experienced moments of feeling helpless. Moments when it felt like no matter what we did, nothing ever changed, nothing could ever come out right, nothing good ever happens.

Yet, in this world of turmoil, angst and inexplicable violence that takes the lives of children, women and men every day, good things are happening. It’s just sometimes, we lose sight of the goodness amidst the feeling of being helpless to change, or stop or prevent the bad.

Today is a new moon.

New moon’s bring the promise of possibility, hope, change, transformation.

Living in a city, surrounded by concrete and asphalt, it can be hard to remember at times the gifts of nature all around us. It can be hard to feel the ebb and flow and beauty of life all around us.

Today, under this new moon, take a moment to breathe deeply and remind yourself,

possibility exists everywhere and in everyone.
miracles do not discriminate. They are constantly flowing all around us.
hope rises always, and
when we trust in the inherent goodness of humankind,
when we believe in the power and Oneness of Love,
we are not helpless
we are powerful beyond our wildest imaginings.

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 


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Preparing for the storm

Outside, the wind is picking up speed, the sky is darkening and the temperature is dropping.

A storm is forecast to move through today and with it, bring high winds and lots of rain. Already, it has blown blossoms off the apple tree in our backyard to carpet the grass like snow.

Like so many things in life, I can’t avoid the storm. I can prepare for it and take precautions.

Last night, I moved the umbrella off the deck and laid it on its side. I re-positioned some of the pots I’d planted with flowers this past weekend closer to the house, out of the direct line of the wind. I removed the lantern from where it hung and tucked it under the eaves where it wouldn’t get damaged and did what I could to ensure nothing would go flying around on the deck.

It’s all I can do to be ready for the storm.

Sometimes, the storms of life blow in so hard, we are unprepared to withstand their onslaught. Sometimes, we don’t have the resources, skills, resilience to handle their fierceness and must take cover from the storm.

And that’s where places like Inn from the Cold come in. They stand-by, ready to provide shelter, sanctuary, healing for those swept up by life’s unpredictability. Because, no matter the weather, in times of distress, we all need a safe place to land, a harbour to lay anchor in until the winds subside and the seas are calm once again.

From the sanctuary of that safe haven, we regroup. Take stock, learn new skills, repair what’s broken, build resiliency so that we can go back out into the flow of life and set sail once again towards our dreams. Stronger. More-prepared. Better provisioned to withstand storms and other unforeseen mishaps.

I had a great first day. It felt like coming ‘home’. Home to a place where the focus is on holding space for children and families to grow through life’s mishaps to be able to weather storms without crashing into the rocks again and again.

It felt like coming home to a team whose every act is imbued with deep, heartfelt passion and compassion to serve families in distress and ensure they can move on to better times, quickly and with grace, so that children can grow up strong and not become homeless statistics of the future.

It was a great first day.

I am content. Excited. Happy.

And I even got flowers!  An unexpected guest dropped in to wish me well on my first day, and with her, she brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Thank you KGB!

I am so blessed.

Namaste.

 


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A new job. New beginning. New everything!

Today I begin a new adventure. Today, I join the team at Inn from the Calgary, a not-for-profit whose vision is to build, “a community where no child or family is homeless.”

I feel excited. Nervous. Curious. Calm.

I am excited to be returning to the front-lines of homelessness. To be moving away from communicating from the ‘system planner’ perspective to being able to tell the stories of the amazing work the Inn does that has direct impact on children and families experiencing homelessness in our city.

I am nervous to be meeting new people. To be connecting with a new team who do not know me, and with whom I have had very little contact. I am nervous about ‘what to wear’ for my first day. About the little things that once the threshold is crossed, become commonplace — but until then, create fissures of unease, uncertainty because they represent the unknown. Parking. Coffee. Lunch. What will my office look like? Should I take all my stuff today, or wait a day or so? (You know, the photos and paraphernalia that make a space ‘mine’. 🙂 )

I am curious to be taking on a new role, to be discovering what makes the Inn tick. What makes it such an exceptional place. What creates such passion amidst those who work with and for the Inn.

And I am calm. Whatever will be, it will be what it is. As long as I stay present to my intentions of being open, curious and humble, as long as I stay centered within my core self, as long as I am committed to being and bringing the best of me with me, I have nothing to be nervous about.

Life is an ever flowing river. It moves and changes and bridges opportunities, new experiences, different perspectives. It constantly brings with it interesting ways of engaging, learning, becoming aware of what I don’t know, while also becoming aware of how to apply what I do know in new ways.

I am going back to work tomorrow after a two week ‘break’.

It has been two weeks filled with creativity, with opportunities to take a break and moments to get fully engaged in the wonders of what fills my life today.

And, in the process, I have passed an anniversary of sorts once again — only to discover — I had completely missed the significance of the date — until FB Memories pointed out that on May 21, 2013 I had written a post that marked the date called — Ten Years. I am Grateful.

I am so grateful for time. It moves with the flow of life’s river, carrying us further from one moment to the next and in its flow, we leave behind the moments that no longer serve our journey.

In my case, forgetting the significance that Sunday was May 21st is a gift. It is a blessing. It is a testament to how I continue to flow into life’s healing waters, immersed in the joy and wonder of all that my world is today.

I start a new job today. The work I know. What I don’t know, yet, are the people I will be working with, and the people they serve. What I don’t know, yet, are the stories. Of those I will be working with, and those we serve.

What I don’t know, yet, is how much I don’t know…

And that’s what makes me excited. I like to know before I leap.

Tomorrow I leap knowing I have much to learn, much to offer and much to share in and with.

I am excited. I am a story-teller by nature, and at Inn from the Cold, the stories I will be telling all begin at that place where families find themselves at home.

Namaste.

 


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Today’s Quote

This one always reminds me of the power of choice I have over how I turn up.

Soul Gatherings

tree of happiness

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather,
always bring your own sunshine.

~ Anthony J. D’Angelo ~
_______________

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Leave your front door and back door open

Such a beautiful visual — to leave the front door and the back door of my mind open.

Zen Flash

vic ljf

Leave your front door and back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea

Shrunyu Suzuki

With thanks to

http://kmhubersblog.com

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