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.

Keeping My Commitments

It was a ‘no car/no spending’ day yesterday which, I momentarily forgot (about the no spending) when I went to order a book online. But!… the Universe never forgets.

When I went to get my wallet out of my purse, no wallet.

I searched. Everywhere. I even phoned my girlfriend with whom I’d gone to an art exhibit the evening before to see if it had accidentally dropped out in her car. I even phoned the coffee shop where I’d met with a friend Saturday morning. I even checked the roadway in front of our house thinking perhaps it had fallen out of my purse when I’d gotten out of my girlfriend’s car the night before.

No wallet.

Needless to say, I was getting rather concerned. The thought of cancelling cards, getting new id was daunting.

Before I started cancelling cards, I decided I’d better check my car, just in case. Throughout my search, I kept telling myself, it can’t be in the car because after Ellie’s walk I went for coffee and had it then.  Sure enough, there it was. It had fallen out of my bag onto the floor of the passenger seat when I’d come home earlier that day.

Making commitments is important. Keeping them even more important. Not for the universe — for me. Keeping my commitments means I am walking in my integrity, standing in my trust, being who I want to be in the world. And when I walk in integrity, I make a world of positive difference all around me. I’m not trying to hide, when I know I am living from a place of integrity. I’m not making excuses or telling myself stories about why it’s okay to have compromised on a commitment, or belief.

I almost broke my commitment yesterday, but a mistake saved me. The difference in that mistake is I had time to remember what spending money would do to my commitment. It meant, when I did find my wallet, I had time to take a breath and remember — ‘it’s a no car/no spending day’. While as one friend wrote that doing it one day a week doesn’t make that big a difference to the world, keeping the commitment makes a huge difference to me.

Walking with integrity, standing in trust, being trustworthy are all vital aspects of me being me in the world. Keeping my commitments to myself, and others, is the only way to hold onto being who I want to be in a world where all too often, opportunities to ‘act out’ beckon me to take a shortcut to happiness. There are no shortcuts to happiness. There is only the way of being my who I am meant to be when I keep my commitments. In that act, I walk tall. I walk with confidence knowing I am turning up for me — and not letting myself off the hook of my accountability.

Everyday we are presented with opportunities to learn, to grow, to be the difference we want to make in the world. And everyday, we have opportunities to take short cuts to happiness. It is the choices we make that make the difference in the long road of life lived joyfully in the rapture of now.

Namaste.

Holding Out Our Hearts (a guest post)

Today is the first ‘guest post’ here at A Year of Making a Difference. I am delighted to share Dave Cunnin’s story Holding Out Our Hearts as the inaugral posting in what I intend to make a regular Sunday experience here.

I first met Dave working at the homeless shelter where I worked for almost 6 years until the end of last year. At the time, Dave was the Senior Building Supervisor, over-seeing the comings and goings, to’ings and fro’ings of 1200 clients a night and a staff of 125. It was a busy place and a busy job.

Dave left the shelter in 2008, became a life coach and facilitator and it wasn’t until two years later that we met up again through the meditation group I attend on Wednesday nights.

Dave’s story is powerful. Moving. And true. Dave is powerful. A human being of light and truth. A seeker on this journey of life. Dave makes a difference in my world everyday. I’m grateful he’s here to make a difference in your’s today.

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Holding Out Our Hearts
By Dave Cunnin

Fourteen years ago a brief encounter with a stranger not only changed my life, it (she) gave me the will to begin embracing my life and live my life. What did she do? She smiled at me.

At the time I had given up on myself and given up on life. I was living on the streets and focusing on obtaining my next meal. I buried myself in the core’s underworld hoping not to be seen, not to be heard and not to be judged. I was lost and I felt totally beyond hope.

For years I had waged a horrific battle against myself in trying to cover up or destroy all I felt was wrong with me. I had driven myself to the end of the line hoping and praying I would be removed from this world and removed from myself. One solace found was the dirt, grime and ugliness I had always felt within me began showing up around me.  I felt confused, I felt scared, and I felt broken. I no longer had the fancy jobs, fancy clothes, fancy cars, and fancy people to hide my brokenness from myself and this world. I no longer felt I was projecting a lie about who and what I was.

One day I walked into a soup kitchen and requested a bowl of soup. “Have two” replied the volunteer,”it is very cold outside”. It wasn’t the kindness of her offer nor the warmth of her voice. It was the sincerity in her eyes. I felt as if she saw through the disheveledness, the fear, the anger, the neediness, the emptiness, and the failure of my humanity. I felt she was seeing me. The smile I received lit a spark in my heart that remains, grows, and flourishes to this day. The sincerity of her smile told me that there was something worthwhile about me and within me that deserved a smile. The sincerity of her presence told me there was something about me and within me that deserved love. From that day forward I began to ease up on the war against what I felt was bad  and evil within me and began to explore and cultivate what  is good and loving about me.

That smile, that moment continues to live and thrive within me today. As I write this, I am vividly taken back to that moment and I feel surges of emotion and gratitude welling up within me. Cultivating the sincerity of my own smile is a driving force in my life and I have come to realize it is not my actions but the sincerity behind my actions that make a difference in this world.

When I hold out my hand to help I am saying I see there is something wrong. When I hold out my heart to embrace I am saying I see there is something right.

Dave Cunnin

February 11, 2012

Heroes in our Midst

Every day opportunities present themselves to celebrate the difference someone is making in the world. Yesterday, I met with my friend RW who is committed to mentoring a young man he met some months ago when taking a tour of a youth facility. RW doesn’t ask for recognition, and he doesn’t have any expectations of reward, what he has is a deep belief in the possibilities for this young man, and a willingness to be there to guide, hold accountable when necessary and support him however he can.

RW is a hero.

Barry Davidson is a volunteer who continually gives. Sometimes he jokes and says he gives so much because he doesn’t know how to say no. My experience of Barry is that he gives because he is committed to being the change he wants to see in the world.

Barry Davidson is a hero.

My friend Lori Stewart is another hero. One day, listening to CBC Radio while stalled in traffic, she heard about AWESOME Toronto and immediately contacted the founders and started the AWESOME Foundation Calgary. Along with the AWESOME team, she is making a significant difference in providing seed funding for awesome ideas worth supporting and celebrating here in the city.

I am blessed. I know lots of heroes who inspire me everyday.

I don’t know Doug Blackmon, but his book, Slavery by Another Name, shocked and disturbed and moved me. The journey of the forced servitude of African/American’s throughout the first half of this century resonates within me still. On Monday, PBS will air the documentary based on his book and it promises to be an emotional and powerful telling of a story that has the capacity to break even the most hardened heart. (Click here for more info)  Slavery by Another Name is the disturbing and true story of  “The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II”. Given our treatment of the First Nations Peoples here in Canada, this is a story we must honour and acknowledge if we are to create a path to healing the past and creating a better future for all our people. Please click HERE and read the Introduction to Slavery by Another Name. We must bear witness and find courage to change by examining our past with open eyes, hearts and minds so that the future can be founded on humility, truth and compassion.

Doug Blackmon is a hero.

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There are so many people in this world Making a Difference that I have decided to dedicate Saturday’s to the Heroes in our Midst. This is the first installment. If you want to be included, or if you know of someone who is making a difference, please send me an email with all the details you’d like included and I’d love to showcase you in future Heroes in our Midst columns.

Thanks!

Have an inspiring day — or as Lori would say — Make it AWESOME!

And… Sunday’s will be Guest Column days. To kick off this new series of insight, ideas, celebrations of making a difference, my friend Dave Cunin will be the first guest columnist tomorrow. Hope you can make it! I’m excited about what Dave is going to share I’d love to give him lots of encouragement. Your support makes a difference!

Peace of mind rests in a servant’s attitude

Princess Ellie

Yesterday I set out on my walk with Ellie, my Golden Retriever, with an intent in mind before I left the house.  My intent — to clean up the path of any deposits littering the trail. To insure I could fulfill on my intent, I took along extra bags and an attitude of service.

It made a difference. Walking with my intent clear, and the tools necessary to act upon it shifted my focus from seeing what other people didn’t do as ‘transgressions’ to one of seeing opportunities to be of service all along the trail. As I walked, I looked for places to ‘clean up the world’ and found ample opportunity to put my intent into action.

And all it took was a shift in perception.

Setting out with my intent clear meant I had extra bags with me, and could clean up all along the path. Knowing my path before we set out meant I could ignore the messes on our walk to the end of the trail we took and picked up on the way back. No matter the direction, I got to enjoy my walk with Ellie without inner grumblings of ‘transgressions’ marring my experience, and  I got to revel in a servant’s attitude all the way back to my car.

Win/Win.

And, once again it proves how easy it is to live consciously making a difference — and to enjoy my day without inner grumblings marring my path — If you’re looking for peace of mind — shift your perceptions:  Embody a servant’s attitude —  Set an intent. Plan your path and enjoy the journey, knowing, peace of mind rests in a servant’s attitude.

 

 

Accepting what is makes a difference

Day 40 of A Year of Making a Difference and I ask myself — how is the difference expressing itself within and through me.

When I began this process on January 1 I didn’t really think about the longterm impact, or what it would take to ‘make a difference’ everyday. I just knew I wanted to do something concrete, something of substance that would keep me focused on a daily basis to what it means to be conscious of my difference in the world.

Yesterday, when I posted the video link to my TEDxCalgary talk I was humbled and touched by the comments of others on how they experienced my presentation — and that’s the difference. Making a difference isn’t about what I do or say. It’s about how what I do and say resonates in the world. It’s about the conscious choice to make what I do and say come from a place of Love, of healing, of being ‘the more’ I want to create in the world.

Yesterday, I experimented with making my smile the difference I share. At Costco, a glitch with my membership card meant the line-up behind me ground to a halt. As anyone who’s ever shopped at Costco knows — slowing down the cash register line-up is a no-no! Normally, when glitches like this happen, my facile mind leaps to that place of guilt and fear — I’m sooooo sorry. Oh my. What can I do? and I become flustered and anxious and oh so discombobulated with the whole situation that my energy sends out shockwaves of fear.

Knowing there was nothing to do but accept the situation with grace, I smiled at the three people behind me and thanked them for their patience (have you ever noticed how people don’t know they’re patient until you thank them for it?). The cashier looked flustered for a moment and I asked, “What can we do to fix this?” and miraculously, the fix appeared. Now, I have to acknowledge both the cashier and the young man assisting her. They were awesome. Pleasant. Accommodating and kind. While I straightened up the confusion with my card, the cashier and her assistant worked around my groceries so the line-up moved a little bit, albeit not quickly, but it did keep moving.

And I kept smiling, and thanked people again for their patience.

In the end, the cashier’s assistant pushed my buggy all the way over to the Membership desk so that I could get my photo taken for a new card without having to wait in line. We laughed and smiled, I thanked him for his help (and his patience) and we parted ways with a smile.

What a difference than if I’d thrown a hissy fit, focused on ‘the system’ and its defects. By choosing to accept what was, and not bemoaning what wasn’t —  a renewal that should have had my name but lost it as a joint cardholder — a situation that could have resulted in grumpy staff and grouchy patrons ended with smiles.

I like that difference.

Namaste

 

Gratitude begins with a smile

It was a day filled with opportunities to be the change I want to see in the world through many shared smiles.

A woman at the grocery store behind me in the self-help check-out line, troubled she sounded rude when she pointed something out to me, apologizes. I smile, touch her arm and tell her I didn’t think she was rude. I appreciated her direction as I wasn’t paying attention. We wish eachother a ‘good-day’ and we part on a note of laughter. A smile and thanks from the man at the next gaspump. “Your tire looks a bit flat,” I tell him. And it was. And the favour is returned when I leave my sunglasses on the counter and a woman runs after me to hand them back to me. A man with a dog at the park laughs when I warn him as we approach eachother that Ellie, my golden retriever, sometimes like to share her big girl attitude with small dogs. We pass each other with enough distance to preserve the dignity of everyone and he calls back that he appreciates my letting him know — his dog likes to nip at big dog’s ears. That would not have been pretty.

Little things that add up to moments of grace. Moments of sharing smiles and laughter and kindness.

And then, in my email, the link to the TEDxCalgary talks where I shared, “Lessons in Love: How Volunteering Saved My Life” in November. Sending the link and having my sister write back her impressions of my talk, I am reminded — giving is receiving. And in the remembering the excitement and wonder of that day, I receive again the sense of gratitude I felt being part of it.

And the difference of that day ripples out as I share TEDxCalgary, November 18, 2011 — Volunteer… Even Better.

Below is my talk — and this is the link to all of them — do take the time to visit all the speakers — they are all amazing. And, you’ll be inspired watching so many people shine!

All ten speakers:  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL41E9A5C6E42C501A

Life is a Dance — Day 38

Since the beginning of January I’ve  committed one day a week to making a difference in the world by not driving my car for a day and not spending any money on that day. Yesterday was my weekly date with austerity and the pedestrian life-style.

Except… on Monday evenings I go to a dance workshop. Two hours of free-flowing movement through CoreConnexion. I can’t think of a better way to begin the week than to enter the dance and connect into my body and dance myself into aliveness and freedom, joy and balance.

But, the studio where it’s held is too far to walk. It’s too dark to ride my bike and bus service just isn’t part of that equation.

As my Aunts in Paris would say, “What to do? What to do?”

And then I remember one of the lessons I’ve learned through this process of living A Year of Making a Difference. Making a difference begins within me. When I am balanced, whole, centered, the difference I make in the world ripples out from a centre of harmony. When I am taking care of me, I am better able to take care of others.

I decided to go to dance. Other than driving there, I didn’t have to spend money as I pre-paid for the sessions at the beginning of the year.

And in the process, I came home excited, feeling joyful and grateful for having immersed myself in ‘life’, my whole being transformed through dancing it out and moving into that space where I am one with the world around me.

And that was the biggest lesson from the day. It’s important to be flexible. To allow suppleness into my thinking, and my doing. To give myself room to flow around obstacles, rather than making them hard brakes on the road of life that stop me dead in my tracks.

I know. I know. I didn’t do the whole day without driving, but I did learn another valuable lesson. Look at my calendar before I make decisions with my time. Don’t set the day to not drive on a day when I have something that is important for me to do!

Making a difference does begin within me. For my difference to come from a place of wholeness I need to pay attention to my needs, wants, well-being — and my calendar!

And, I’ll move my making a difference through not driving my car to Friday this week!

All is well. I’m flexible! And supple when I flow into Life, dancing my way to Joy. Life is a Dance and I am grateful for the music.

Namaste