Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Give Love Away | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 52

Consciously choose to give Love away today. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, consciously decide to let Love be your answer and choose the most loving path, no matter what.

And yes, I know it can be hard.

Habits, patterns of behaviour built up over the years, accustomed responses can all get in the way of our capacity to respond through Love, not Fear. Not Anger. Not Confusion.

Watch yourself.

Check out how you are responding in certain circumstances and in those instances where your behaviour is causing you angst or causing someone else harm, ask yourself, “Is this an habitual way of responding in moments of stress, discord, confusion? What’s with that?”

Don’t fall into the trap of asking, “Why?”  Ask instead, ‘What?”

“What’s compelling me to respond/behave this way?” “What’s my motivation for ____________ (fill in the blank, i.e. yelling at my kids, shutting down when someone disagrees with me, staying silent when someone talks down to me…)

I’ll let you in on a secret. ‘Why?’ is the question we ask that let’s us off the hook of getting accountable. Why keeps us spiraling in trying to find answers to questions we don’t really want to know the answers to.

Remember as a child when an adult asked, after you’d done something that wasn’t really all that positive or constructive, or was nonsensical, “Why do you always……?” or, “Why can’t you…..?”

The real answer was, “Because I’m learning.”  “Because I’ve not yet learned better.” “Because I don’t understand what you want.” “Because I don’t feel safe.”…  etc.

And, because we thought there really was a ‘deeper’ why to our behaviour, (that’s often what we were told as children) we developed strategies that either, prevented us getting into ‘trouble’ or constantly got us into ‘trouble’.

Those habits were developed at a time when we couldn’t make sense of the world around us. Back then, they may have served to protect us from having to answer the ‘why’s’ of the ways we were that we didn’t really understand, but today, they do not always serve us well. They often prevent us from getting, giving, sharing and expressing Love — without expectation or conditions.

If you struggle to Give Love Away because habitual behaviours interfere with your joy, gratitude happiness, expressions of Love, seek help.

This week, in the Choices seminar room, over 50 people will gather to learn ways to fall in love with themselves without fear blocking their path home to their hearts.

There are many courses, books, therapists out there who can make a difference in how you know, express and act out in Love.

For me, Choices was the gift that gave me simple, practical and workable tools to create room for me to get out of my own way so that I could come home to my heart without fearing my heart was not a safe place for me to be. In the process, I have fallen in Love with being in Love with me and the world around me. I have learned to seek the joy in this moment, to see the beauty all around and to share Love in everything I do.

Try it. You might just fall in Love all over again with the one you were born to Love forever. You.

Namaste.

__________________

On March 21st, 2016 I made a commitment to share an Act of Grace a week for 52 weeks. Along the way I’ve missed a week and always, I have carried on, creating Acts of Grace until this week when I have completed my vision of creating 52 Acts of Grace.

Thank you to everyone who has chimed in, shared, commented and been part of this journey.

I am so blessed. Grateful. Joyful.

As a FYI — this is the second time I’ve shared the Act of Grace: Give Love Away. (The first was Week 14, June 20, 2016, HERE)

It is always worth repeating. Always worth reminding ourselves we have a choice. No matter the circumstances, between every action and reaction/response, there is always a millisecond of choice where we can choose Love over Fear.

To access all 52 Acts of Grace, click HERE. The PDF will download with links to each Act of Grace in the weekly compilation.

Thank you everyone!

 


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Share a Meal | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 51

We did a lot of sitting around the table sharing a meal, sharing in good times and conversation and the beautiful, yet invisible threads of family and friendship that tie us together.

It was divine.

From Easter Sunday brunch at the Golf Club with my two sisters, my beloved, brother-in-law, my youngest daughter’s man (she is in Vancouver visiting her sister) and dear friends, to dinner last night at the warm and loving home of Kerry and Howard, it was a weekend of love, cherishing what time we have together, and revelling in the love that binds us, heart to heart.

My middle sister arrived on Saturday. Our mother is not doing well, an infection in her blood continues to weaken her — yet, at the sight of my sister, she perked up. Even decided that getting dressed was better than lying in bed in her hospital gown. She also put on make-up. But then, that’s our mother; wanting to look her best for company.

We don’t know how long she will be with us. We do know that whatever time she has, we cherish each moment and the gift of being together. And while my mother couldn’t be at the table with us, her presence is felt in every breath we take, in every morsel of food we eat.

Gathering people around the table is what my mother, and father, did.

I am grateful we continue to gather and cherish the power of sitting around a table. I am grateful for the memories, and the gift of knowing, gathering around a table with family and friends is an act of grace that expands through love.


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Growing old is a life-long adventure

We are four women of a certain age gathered together to learn about and share with one another our thoughts and feelings and ideas on ageing.

Our teacher is RamDass. A video recording of a presentation he made 25 years ago, 5 years before the stroke that deprived him of his ability to walk, and speak in long sentences, and be independent.

His words are, as RamDass’ words have always been to me, inspiring. Brilliant. Humbling and thought-provoking.

“If we see old people as empty, we are empty of life,” he says. “Because we too shall be ‘old’ one day.”

How we see others is how we see ourselves.

When we are young, we think about ‘getting older’ as an exciting adventure. Something to look forward to, to aim towards. Ask a child their age and they will proudly give you a very specific answer. 4 years and 8 months. 5 and a half years. They might even hold up their fingers to demonstrate the number.

In our teens and 20s, our goal is always to ‘get older’. To become that age where people quit asking, ‘what do you plan to do with your life’, because we’re now doing it.

And then we reach our 30s, possibly even 40s, and age becomes something we’re mostly hopeful nobody notices, or at least will have the grace not to mention and if they do, mistake us for younger than the actual number of years beneath our belts.

I only ever had one crisis of aging. It was the year I was turning 35. I panicked. I was pregnant with my second child. Juggling work and an 18 month old and wondering, what am I doing with my life?  I felt like such a failure. I’d always wanted to be a writer and I wasn’t writing. I kept looking at those two digits and wondering, Oh No! I am half way there. Half way through. What is half way?

I couldn’t figure out if it was half way through my 30s that was so terrifying or if I thought I was halfway through my life and needed to get going faster to become who I was meant to be — if only I could figure out who that was.

Turning 35 was the impetus for my taking my writing seriously. I published my first article that year and started focusing on freelance writing and completed my first novel. I also got serious about therapy. About figuring out what was ‘wrong’ with me so I could find the right way out to seeing myself as whole. Worthwhile. Valued and valuable.

And then the 40s appeared and I was suddenly single, a working mother of two young children and going deeper into therapy. I knew I had to ‘find myself’ to start living life on the other side of my fear that I was missing life.

In my 40s, many things changed. One of the major changes was where once getting older seemed exciting, suddenly it loomed as something to fear.

And so it continued. Excited about getting older. Fearing getting older. To overcome the fear, I have had to learn to make friends with it. With aging. With the mystery of living and dying.

As I move closer to a ‘senior’ frame of reference, aging has become less of “A Thing” and more, just a thing. Like a car, things change. My job is to gracefully accept change without fighting, resisting, or pushing against it. My job is to take care of my vehicle and adapt to its changes with respect and love, so that as I age, I have the freedom and grace to be however I am without thinking who I am is a number on a calendar page that turns older every day, thus lessening my value or worth.

I am learning to grieve the losses, and celebrate the changes.

Aging, RamDas shared, is like setting sail in a boat that you know is going into the ocean and will sink.

We all age. It is unavoidable. What is avoidable, is thinking my age is the measurement of who I am or fearing that as the numbers grow, my sense of self lessens.

Every age has its opportunities, its complexities, its teachings and its challenges. To live my age fearlessly, I must, as RamDass counselled, embrace the entirety of who I am:  I Am Loving Awareness and embrace the  mystery of living and dying in Love.

May my life be my creative expression of Loving Awareness continually illuminating the mystery of life as I grow older and more comfortable with my human expression of learning to live and die with grace.

 

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Be Curious. | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 50

It’s easy to tell ourselves we know everything there is to know about ourselves.

Don’t believe it. Don’t believe everything you think.

Often, your thoughts just aren’t true. They’re just constructs of your experiences colliding with your capacity to let go of who and what you believe to be true about yourself and the world around you.

Years ago, when I first started painting, I had a story I told myself for over 40 years. “I am not an artist.”

One day, when my eldest daughter was 14 and she was painting (she’s an incredible artist) I decided ‘out of the blue’ to paint with her.

I discovered I had been telling myself a lie about myself all my life, or at least for as long as I could remember.

I fell in love with art-making and continue to delve into the mysteries of the creative process, learning something new about myself and my creative essence every day.

Don’t believe everything you think, especially about the limitations you set on and for yourself. Who knows what amazing things you’re capable of if you simply stop believing your limiting beliefs?

Next time you hear yourself saying, “I can’t do that.” or, “I’m too…… old, young, stupid, weak, fragile….” be curious. Ask yourself, “What would happen if I stopped believing that and instead, dove into being curious about what I can accomplish when I let go of that thought…?”

Be curious.

About life.

About those around you.

About you.

Live the questions. Not the answers.

Namaste.


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The Art of Becoming What You Hold On To

In the Soul of a Pilgrim course I studied during Lent one year, course moderator and Abbess of Abbey of the Arts, Christine Valters Paintner, asked in one of the lessons, “What if I truly believed the path before me was blessed?

And the muse answered — There would be no misstep. Only beauty. Only the perfection of each step, in darkness and light.

It was a scary thought. To hold true within me the thought that each step before me was blessed. For, if I truly believed each step before me was blessed, I would stop striving to ‘become me’ and fall with grace into being me. I would dance on my path. I would sing loud. I would laugh and spin about and not fear the path beneath my feet. I would embrace fearlessness in each step. I would not fear falling away from being me. I would fall into being all of me.

The Path is the Way, I wrote in my journal. Trusting in the Universe I find The Way to trust in me on the Path where each step unfolds as a blessing before me.

When I let go of my need to be…. seen, heard, known. When I release my desire to be…. somebody. A writer. An artist. An advocate. An executive…  my need to seek approval, acknowledgement, recognition is released. Free of my desire to be more, better, other than who I am, I become that which I do not need to seek, because that which I seek is always present, always within, around and about me  — Love.

In Love, being Love, I sink back into that place where I know, deep within me, that all my seeking for understanding is just a way to keep myself busy seeking ‘The More’ I tell myself I need to become to feel fulfilled, worthwhile, present, valued, valuable.

When I let go of seeking, ‘The More’, my heart has room to breathe freely, my mind has space to open wide and I become my light shining fiercely in love.

And in that space where I breathe freely into letting go of becoming the ‘being’ I think I need to be, I become, all that I am.

May your day be filled with being all that you are when you stop trying to become all that you can be. May you be Love shining brightly in all your being you.

Namaste.


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Take Action | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 49

The world is full of people with good intentions. Good intentions do not make a difference to our journey. Action does.

Years ago, sitting in a coffee shop by myself, I saw a young woman seated by herself at another table. She wasn’t doing anything in particular. Just sitting there, staring silently into the distance, occasionally wiping away a tear that had escaped her eyes and was running down her cheek.

I thought of going over to offer her a kleenex. Or to at least ask if she needed anything. Could I help?

I remember feeling uncomfortable. What if she got angry with me for my advances? What if she told me to mind my own business?

I did nothing.

I have carried my sense of regret of having done nothing in that moment with me since that day.

More recently, while walking at the park, I met a woman walking without a dog, who stopped to get her ‘puppy fix’ as we passed. I noticed she was crying.

Carrying the memory of that moment from long ago, I asked her if there was anything I could do. “You look sad,” I said.

“I am”, she blurted out. And she told me of the divorce she’s going through with her husband of many years. “I just feel so lost and lonely,” she said.

She shared a bit more and then, as we parted I asked if she would like a hug. She began to shake her head from side to side, and stopped. She nodded her head up and down. “Yes. Please.” she said quietly.

And we hugged. As we parted ways and walked in opposite directions, she called back. “Thank you!”

It was just a moment. But in that moment, we connected as humans connect when they take time to see one another, and stand together, heart to heart.

If I had noticed her tears and only thought about how sad she looked, and not taken action to create more of what I want in the world around me — peace and harmony — then I would have felt the regret of doing nothing.

That woman still had to face the sadness of her divorce, her sense of loss, her fears of being suddenly alone in her mid-life. But for that moment, she felt a sense of ease. Less alone. More connected.

Taking action doesn’t mean we change someone else’s path. It just means while on our own path, we do not have to carry the regret of doing nothing.

 

 


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Shed a little tear | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 48

Yesterday was a tough day.

It began with an issue that left my heart feeling raw as my CEO and I worked together with members of the team to navigate the turbulent waters of the media’s need to ‘get the story’ and our responsibility to address the needs of staff, board members, all our stakeholders and the public.

I wanted to cry, in sorrow and dismay and confusion. Why did this happen? Why is there no avoiding the devastation and brokenness left behind in the wake of what has been brought into the light?

At the end of the day, I spoke with my sister who had gone to the doctor with my mother that afternoon. Turns out, the ‘something pulled’ in my mother’s hip/knee was actually the hip joint coming out of the socket. Her pain had been real and excruciating and no one figured out why until two weeks later.

I wanted to cry, in frustration and dismay and confusion. Why didn’t they see it on the x-rays two weeks ago? Why did they have to leave her in such pain without doing anything?

My mother has to make a decision. Have the operation to repair it, an operation they are not sure she will survive. Or live with the pain. Challenge is, no matter what they do, the cause of her hip coming out of the socket will continue to be an issue. Her bones are soft and fragile. A replacement hip, or simply putting the hip back in its socket may still result in the bones shifting.

I wanted to cry some more. After her surgery in December, my mother stated she wanted to live to see one hundred. And she really meant it. I think she still does but her options are limited on how she will get there.

Not ready to give into tears, I went into the studio and created. Not one of my better pieces, but it satisfied my need to breathe through it all, to find my centre again so that I could remember, now is not forever.

And the tears still waited, lurking behind the shadows of my doing.

The universe delivers the time and space for what we need to do, even when we resist.

Just before bed, I decided to take the recycling out as today is garbage day. I wanted that last breath of fresh air, especially as the temperature has warmed up enough to go out without a coat.

I carried the big blue tub that sits by the back door out to the recycling bin, emptied it and on my way back through the backyard, caught my feet in the netting that holds the vines up against the garage wall. The man who clears our snow had inadvertently caught some of it with his shovel and it was lying on the ground. In the dark, I forgot it was there.

I went flying.

Splat!

On my rear, in the wet, melting snow-soggy dirt beneath the crabapple tree.

I sat for a moment, stunned, not sure if I’d broken something.

And I started to cry.

In frustration. Anger. Sorrow. Sadness.

I let the tears flow.

For a moment.

And then, C.C. came out and helped me up.

And life moved on.

Sometimes, when faced with life’s inexplicable, all we can do is shed a tear or two for the chaos and angst.

And then, we get up and keep moving.

Tears do not resolve the issues. But they do give release to the pain we carry in our hearts.

And when our hearts are lightened of their load, it’s easier to keep moving forward, doing the things we know that create better in our world.

I feel better this morning (other than my knee which hurts like the dickens! 🙂 )

Time to leap into another day.