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.

Giving Tuesday – you can make a difference!

Today is Giving Tuesday, an annual day of giving to not-for-profits doing the heavy lifting of social change, supporting research for intractable diseases and other issues like healing our environment, helping animals and a host of difference-making work to support those whose lives have landed them in hard rock places.

Imagine if every day was Giving Tuesday. Imagine if we all believed in the importance of supporting organizations at the frontlines, monetarily and through volunteerism – and then did it!

What a world of difference we would make!

I also get that giving every day would be cumbersome – it would cost more to process a daily $1 donation than a monthly $30 one – but you could give a recurring donation every month to reflect a month of daily giving. It definitely does good things for your heart. And even the tax-folk recognize your giving by giving you a break on your taxes!

Colour me altruistic… but my dream is that Giving Tuesday becomes like Valentine’s Day (without the artificial sugariness and commerciality) — hard to ignore, simple to participate in, and an expression of our love — for humanity, the planet, all sentient and non-sentient beings, everything and everyone on this earth.

I like that.

— Making a difference in the world – everyday.

The original name of this blog when I started it on January 1, 2012, was ‘A Year of Making a Difference’. At the time, I had just left my role as director of communications at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre and was concerned about how I was going to keep making a difference in the world. I was doing consulting work and thinking I might continue along that vein but, helping clients (who albeit were all not-for-profits) didn’t quite feel the same kind of ‘difference-making’ as walking into a homeless shelter every day.

So I focused on finding one thing every day that made a difference in my life, other’s lives, the world at large, and I wrote about that.

It definitely made a difference in my life to put my attention on difference-making/makers every day. Eventually, I moved back into working in the homeless-serving sector and at the end of that first year, changed the name of the blog to Dare Boldly. My goal was to inspire each of us to live beyond the limits of our comfort zones and to make a difference.

When I left the sector, and the formal workforce at the end of May this year, I still wanted to make a difference — Difference-making is in my blood.

Inspiring others to make a difference is also in my blood.

So, my challenge to each of us today is to find one not-for-profit organization where a donation of any amount will make a difference. And then, make that donation.

It’s not hard and it doesn’t have to be a huge amount! A quick google search of the term “Giving Tuesday” will give you lots of links to click on to inspire your giving.

I just made mine through  Canada Helps — where for today only, every donation of $25+ is bumped up by $5 — it’s fast, it’s easy and it makes a difference, plus, your favourite charity is probably listed on their site! (And PS — you can even make the donation in honour/memory of someone you love — I did and it brought a smile to my face just to write the message — see, giving is receiving!)

And here’s the thing, if giving monetarily isn’t in your basket today, Volunteer!  Or, when you’re out and about, share a smile, a kind word, an act of grace with everyone you encounter — from those you love to strangers. Share the goodness and grace of your heart.

Seriously, together we can make a world of difference. And BONUS! Giving generates lots of feelings of goodwill in your heart that ripple out into the world in joy and harmony — and what could be better than a world awash in feelings of joy and harmony?

Namaste.

PS — here’s a 30 sec video from the Giving Tuesday org that helps you understand how Giving Tuesday works as an antidote to Black Friday and Cyber Monday — I like it!

 

Where Women Play

We were four women gathered around the worktables in my Wild at Heart Studio.

We had come together to spend time painting and glittering up Christmas ball ornaments to give as gifts and to hang on our trees – and to play and have fun!

There is something incredibly special about being together with a group of women who enjoy creating and learning and sharing.

And for me, there is something very special about being able to share what I love and to teach others new ways of expressing themselves — in this case, painting glass Christmas balls with alcohol inks, glitter and glue!

It is pure joy.

And my heart gives its many veins and arteries a little shake of excitement, pulsing feverishly in agreement — thanks for the nourishment, it says lovingly.

My heart is full this morning.  My bucket too.

This is what the Wild at Heart Studio is all about — creating a safe and courageous space for women of all ages to come together and create community as they explore their creative essence and the joy of being together.

we laughed. We chatted. Shared stories of our lives and mostly just basked in the rarefied air of community we’d created together. At any given moment during the afternoon, one of us would sit back, silently watch the others create and take a deep breath – it was as if our hearts and souls knew that we were engaged in something special, something unifying, something that was illuminating our entire beings with the pure joy of being in a circle of women, doing what women have done throughout the eons — create beauty together.

C.C., my beloved, who was upstairs watching a football game, commented on how much laughter he heard throughout the afternoon coming from the studio.

That’s because we were having fun, I told him.

He smiled and said, “I could tell.”

This morning, I counted the number of balls I’ve decorated over the past week and had to acknowledge — I may have gone a little overboard.

44 balls decorated… and counting. I still have a few boxes left…

Thank you Wendy, Jane and Sandy for making my studio hum with the grace of your presence and the beauty of women creating together. Thank you for being part of my living in the ordinary and beautiful grace of this moment.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Make Time for the Sacred

It is the first Sunday of Advent. A time for reflection, for waiting, for anticipation.

Several years ago, I created an Advent contemplative course to celebrate this waiting for the light to return — Make Time for the Sacred.

This morning, I opened the file and listened and was again reminded of the importance of entering this time of anticipation with a loving, open heart.

I invite you to join me in this sacred season every Sunday between now and December 25th. I’ll be posting each week’s reflection on Sunday morning.

This week’s reading as well as the link to the recording of the reading and the questions can be accessed on my website – HERE

Trees Fall Down And Nobody Yells At Them.

I didn’t do it.

No excuses. No reason why not (well actually I have a lot of those but you don’t really want to hear them).  The fact is, I did not reach the 50,000 word target of the NaMoWriNo.

And I’m okay.

When the time is right the writing will be written, I shall continue on.

At this moment in time, I am having way too much fun in my studio, creating a new platform on my website for creative offerings and developing courseware that expresses my life focus of being a Creativity Activist. Oh. And I’ve got Christmas gifts to craft for this year.

If I were really committed to the writing, it would happen. And it’s just not happening write now.

Isn’t that the way of life? We think about the things we’d like to do, and then don’t get to them. Sometimes it’s a conscious decision not to. Sometimes, it’s procrastination. Sometimes, competing priorities or different ones take centre stage. And then, there’s just the good ole’ filling time with other busyness.

Whatever the reason, not doing it is information that can create light in our life or heavy spaces.

In the past, in not reaching a target I might have wasted time chastising myself, beating myself up for what I deemed ‘falling down’. It never really helped. What it did do was create that heaviness of being that nullifies and defies my peace of mind.

Enough is enough.

I don’t need to chastise myself. I have to either get on with completing whatever it was I was doing, or, decide to be okay with not doing it.

In the ‘being okay with not doing’ I can choose to create space for self-compassion and self-acceptance.

I didn’t reach the NaMoWriNo word target.

I did sign-up. I did complete my outline and chapter synopses. I did a bunch of research on an area of the novel that I need to understand to write about it. I did start writing. And that’s a big deal. Those are positive steps.

Time to celebrate the steps taken.

Time to acknowledge I’m exactly where I am. Life is exactly what it is in this moment right now.

And then… it’s back to the studio I go to play and create.

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I’ve been creating more Christmas balls with clear glass balls and alcohol ink and glitter. I do love sparkly things!  Did I mention how much fun I’m having?

 

Bicycle Man. Truck Man and a bag of dog poop on the road in a snowstorm.

Two Bridges from my window this morning – yesterday I could barely see them

The wind is biting. Snow prickles my skin. My cheeks are flushed.

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle is oblivious to the storm blowing as we head west along the snow-covered path towards the off-leash park.

To my left, traffic crawls along Bowness Road towards the city centre. Somewhere behind, I can hear a man’s voice yelling. I pay no attention. I’m working hard to keep moving forward in the blowing snow.

And then, I can no longer ignore the yelling. A dark clothed man riding a bicycle appears on the road to my left. He is on the curbside of the lane of the oncoming traffic, yelling at the cars and occasionally pounding on a side door. “Get out of the f**ing bike lane”, he screams as he slowly makes his way in the opposite direction of the cars travelling on the road.

I am somewhat bemused. I am walking on the path that pedestrians and bicyclists share. There is no bike lane on this part of the road. It begins on the far side of the pedestrian/bicycle bridge which runs parallel to the vehicle bridge where it crosses the river just ahead of me.

At this exact moment in time, Beaumont hunches over to do his business. I stand and wait, all the while watching the tableau of yelling bicycle man unfold.

Bicycle man is off his bike at the edge of the vehicle bridge, yelling at someone in a white pickup truck, pounding his fist on the hood of the vehicle, screaming his refrain that everyone ‘get out of the f**ing bike path’.

A long line of traffic begins to pile up behind the white pickup truck.

I bend over to pick-up Beaumont’s business to the chorus of white pickup man yelling back through his open driver’s window at bicycle man, “There is no f**ing bike path here.”

Bicycle man vociferously disagrees.

He keeps yelling and pounding his fist on the man’s truck.

Suddenly, the man in the pickup truck flings open his door, jumps down onto the road and races around the front of his truck towards bicycle man.

Now they’re yelling face to face. Bicycle man insisting there’s a bike path. White truck man denying its existence.

Suddenly, someone throws a punch.

The other returns it.

And the fight is on.

I am standing across the road, slightly down the embankment on the pedestrian/bike path, poop bag in hand. Startled by this new development, my mind races. What can I do?

Beaumont oblivious to the ruckus, keeps his nose buried in the snow, sniffing out the scents of wandering squirrels and rabbits (or perhaps he’s just trying to stay out of other people’s business).

The fisticuffs are flying. The yelling has stopped – I’ve never thought about it before but it must be hard to throw a left hook and a verbal barb all at the same time.

The cars behind the white pickup truck are still. No one gets out. No one honks their horn. (It’s possible they can’t see what’s going down on the curbside leading onto the bridge.

I pull on Beaumont’s leash, his head pops up out of the snow and we head towards the pair duking it out on the roadway.

“Hey!” I yell loudly as I approach, leash in right hand, poop bag swinging as I wave my left arm to get their attention, “Stop that!”

White pickup man glances towards me. So does bicycle man. I imagine their minds asking themselves, “What the f’ is she doing here?” Perhaps they think I’m going to throw the bag of poop at them if they don’t stop.

Bicycle man turns away with a last, “You’re in the bike lane.” He picks up his bike and struggles to mount it as he begins pedalling westward through the snow.

White pickup man turns back to his truck, gets in and drives off towards the east.

Traffic begins to crawl forward.

Beaumont and I continue on our way in search of the garbage can further along the trail where I can deposit his offering. Still bemused I am also smiling. Did they think I might throw the bag and its contents if they didn’t stop?

And the snow keeps falling and the wind keeps blowing, sweeping away the evidence of the high drama on the road in a snowstorm.

 

Dance child, dance.

Perhaps it is the soft glow of the candle burning on the desk beside me as I type.

Or, perhaps the steady stream of lights passing over the bridge, east to west, towards the busyness of the downtown core.

Or maybe the light from under the bridge dancing on the waters of the river flowing inexorably to some far and distant unseen sea.

Or maybe, it is simply the mystical, magical nature of morning.

I awoke this morning, and as happens most days when I sit down to write, I am unaware of the words that will appear, until they appear. My eyes peering into the soft morning glow of dawn easing its way across the sky, I watch the traffic flow, the river dance in the light, the trees stand silent in the lightening dark, and I breathe.

And with each breath, I sink into this moment becoming each moment passing by in one gentle, soothing continuous stream. Time fades away and life flows effortlessly into the gap creating a beautiful song of awakening.

I awoke to poetry this morning. To the dance of words calling me to let go and fall daringly into the mystical grace of nature dancing in wild beauty all around me.

“Dance child, dance,” the music of morning exhorts. And so, I let go and dance.

I hope you join me.

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About the title:  Each week, David Kanigan of Live & Learn shares a post titled “Lightly child, lightly,” in homage to Aldous Huxley’s words from his last novel, Island,

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…”

“Lightly child, lightly”. I love that phrase and co-opted it this morning in the gentle hues of dawn and memory and nature’s beauty awakening to the light.

About the photo:  Every day Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I walk to the off-leash park just around the bend, under the bridge along the river’s edge and wander its woods and trails. Every day, if I remember to take my phone, I take a photo of something that entrances me in the nature of our walk. This photo is what delighted my senses yesterday.

The Perfect Beauty of Imperfection

It can be hard sometimes to see that the life we’re living is the perfect life for us.

We tell ourselves, “Life is not a perfect journey,” and then list the reasons that defend our position.

Too often, our expectations of how life ‘should be’ mar our vision of the beauty in the life that is ours. We grade our path as ‘difficult’ and judge it against the ease of another’s. We compare our foothold on planet earth as filled with hard rock stories and bemoan the bounty we see in someone’s soft landing spot. And then, we tell ourselves we’re not ‘the fortunate’. We’re less than, other than, somehow unworthy of a beautiful life. We’re not like ‘those people’ who seem to breeze through life as if they were born to it.

We are all born to live. We are all born to shine.

It’s just sometimes, we peer so long into the darkness, we forget to turn on the lights. Sometimes, the darkness is so deep, we don’t ever remember there being any light.

At my studio table. Works in progress.

Yesterday, immersed in creative exploration, judging, comparing, bemoaning life’s woes fell away.

Carried in the flow of creative expression, time lost its grip. Beginnings and ends of this moment to the next vanished. I was cut loose from Father Time ticking away the minutes and lost myself to floating on the drift of being in the now.

It was bliss.

All that was present was paint flowing and glitter falling wherever it desired — and if you could see my worktable and studio, you’d appreciate how glitter has its own design, crafting its destiny of sparkling up life with joyful élan!

For ten hours I was in the flow, full of contentment, joy, ease. Alive in the present moment, I felt grace infuse each breath with its delicious beauty.

There was no worry. No fear. No anxiety about the outcome. There was just the pure joy of creating and the exhilaration of letting it happen without thinking about where it was all leading.

Sure, I had an idea. A starting point — in this case, 24 clear glass Christmas balls.

And I had some tools — alcohol inks, glue gun, glitter.

And most importantly, I had the open space of time to experiment, to ask myself, “I wonder what would happen if I did…?” and then, the freedom to follow my wonderment.

I had such a day yesterday. A day where all things felt possible because I was in the flow of life, savouring the journey which, rather than perceiving it as separated into distinct moments, felt unseparated from the moment before and the next to come.

And then….

Well, sometimes, the ease and contentment of that long, continuous, blissful moment can feel so fleeting.

This morning, I awakened and realized I needed to do some touch-ups to what I’d created if… and here’s the catch… if I wanted them to ‘look perfect’.

What if I accept they look unique, a perfect reflection of my creative expression in the moment? Because, quite frankly, to see the imperfections you have to compare this morning’s product against last night’s. (Some of the inks flowed down to the bottom of the balls — the glitter’s still in place though!)

Well… here’s my chance to practice what I preach!

What if, I gave up comparison, judgement, expectations of perfection and breathed into the possibility that there is nothing left to be done to create better. There is only this moment to live in the better of all that is possible when I let go of… you got it… comparison, judgement, expectations.

What if… indeed.

Now that would be bliss. That would be life lit up like glitter on a Christmas ball shimmering in the ordinary grace of the present moment.

This morning, I’m going with acceptance.

How blissful!