Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


11 Comments

Treasure the gifts of life.

We are in the final stretch of the year. Those last days that move us closer and closer, here in the Northern Hemisphere, to the longest night.

It is a time of reflection. Of savouring what light appears on the horizon. Of gentle contemplation of ‘what was’ and ‘what can be’.

A question I like to savour throught the final days of the year is, “What have I learned this year that has enriched my life?”

Recently, while chatting with a friend about age and the relentless marching of time, she shared something she’d learned about treasuring ‘beautiful moments’.

Like me, she became a grandmother for the first time this year. For her, it is bittersweet as her granddaughter is in another country. Much further away than my beautiful grandson.

Distance doesn’t matter, she said. I treasure the beautiful moments. The time spent with her granddaughter earlier this year when she was born, and the moments in between the next time she’ll see them at Christmas. She spoke of the FaceTime calls, the late night calls with her daughter, and the early morning ones too when her daughter calls to ask for support.

And she spoke of the past. Of watching her daughter grow into the incredibly beautiful woman, mother and wife she is today.

As she spoke, I imagined a beautiful string of pearls encircling her neck in a circle of love that is her life. Each pearl represented a moment worth treasuring — and her necklace was full and heavy for she is treasuring every moment.. And yet, sometimes, we miss so many moments of beauty, she said.

“If I had known the last dirty diaper was the last one I would change when my daughter was little, I would have seen the beauty in that diaper,” she said.

There is beauty in every moment. If we knew that this was our last moment to treasure, how would we see it?

From where I sit at my desk this morning overlooking the river, I can see headlights crossing the bridge. Unseen drivers speed towards downtown and destinations unknown. The sun has not yet appeared above the tops of the trees that line the riverbank just outside my window yet the sky above is slowly lightening. My paintings cover the walls surrounding me, their vibrant colours the expression of my creative core that I have cast upon the canvas. Beaumont the Sheepadoodle lays sprawled out on the sofa behind me. Mark Bordoni plays his classical guitar softly in the background to the quiet hum of the morning. I am surrounded by softness, light, colour, gleaming wood and the streetlight casting reflections that dance on the water passing by beneath the bridge outside. I am surrounded by beauty.

If this were my last moment, this is what I would see.

But it’s not and I continue typing, grateful for the time it took to appreciate the beauty all around me.

When my father had a heart attack in 1995, we had two days to reach his bedside and say good-bye. When my brother and his wife were killed in a car accident one and a half years later, we never had the chance to say fare-thee-well. We didn’t know our last conversation would be the last. In the wake of that fatal crash, all we could do was gather together in a distant city with the people they knew and share in the memories of everyone who came to their funerals. In those memories of strangers, I saw a side of my brother I didn’t know. A man who was a good friend, a generous neighbour, a caring father. Through their eyes I saw the beauty of my brother and was reminded that I was blessed to have called him brother.

We do not know what the next moment will bring. Yet, when we fill this moment with beauty, we create a foundation of beauty upon which the gift of the next one can unfold.

I am so blessed in this life I live.

Last night my beloved returned from a four day ‘football marathon’ he takes every year with a friend. He came home filled with stories of his adventures. We laughed and shared stories of his travels, even though the hour was late.

My home, my heart, my life is rich with love and beauty. I treasure the beauty of this moment and breathe into the possibility of the next. With each breath, I am filled with the gift of life.

There are so many gifts and moments that have taught me lessons of loving and living this year. But the most treasured is the gift of life. My grandson taught me that.

Namaste.


7 Comments

3 Things to make the world a better place.

I have been contemplating 3things.

In particular, what are 3 things, of all the things I’ve learned in my life, I want to share most with my grandson?

It is not a simple process to discern these 3 things. I don’t want them to be about ‘doing’. They are about ‘being’. Present in this world. Aware. Conscious. Thoughtful.

This contemplation is a deep examination of my values. Of what is important to me to create value  in the world around me and an understanding of what I feel is my unique expression of Divine Grace in this world.

These 3 things are not like teaching him how to say the alphabet or count to 100. They are deeply personal, deeply impactful to the quality of my life and my being fully present to and within my life.

This morning in meditation, 3 things floated into my consciousness as gracefully as a leaf drifting down to rest upon the surface of the river on a warm autumn morning. I held them for a moment and like the leaf, let them drift quietly away as I sank deeper into the silence.

Yet, when I came back into awareness, there they were, 3 things I seek to carry with me as I journey through this world. 3 Things I seek to share with my grandson to add value to his world.

These three things are not shared through teaching, but through being who I am and how I am in this world. Somedays, I live from within my 3 things with grace and ease. Other days it’s a struggle. But always, when I let my 3 Things be my touchstone, my world is a better place for me and everyone I meet.

And that is what I want to share with him. The beauty and fragility of our human condition and our capacity to be forgiving, loving and compassionate with ourselves and everyone in our lives when we live from a heart-driven place where love, compassion and kindness are our guides..

My 3 things are unique to me. They are universal qualities. They mine come from that place deep within us where we rise above our impulses and ego-driven motives to hear our heart and soul calling us to be in Unity with the Divine Grace of life within and all around us.

My 3 Things bring my deepest desires into alignment with the desire of the Universe for me to know life in all its beauty, wonder and possibility. They free me to live at peace in that grace-filled space where I am One with divine love and compassion for myself and the people around me.

  1. Be kind.  In all things, all ways, be kind. Treat people and this earth gently. Tread lightly. Speak softly. Act respectfully. Do not let your thinking interfere with your being who you are. Do not let your anger pull you away from the path of kindness. Ask yourself, is this [whatever I’m about to do or say] kind? And let your heart answer.
  2. Listen to your heart. No matter what is happening in the world around you, your heart knows the answers. Listen deeply. Strive to keep your heart soft and your mind open. Let your heart inform your thinking. Let your heart lead the way. When angry or feeling hurt by the actions of others, when you feel frightened and alone, when you feel unsure and confused, ask your heart what it knows. Your heart will always tell you the truth. Listen deeply. Trust in Love. Trust in yourself. Believe in your heart.
  3. Live joyfully. It can be tempting to fall into the trap of thinking life is a serious business. That making a difference means focussing on what’s wrong in the world, not what’s right. There is a great deal going on in this big ole’ world that makes your heart beat faster, your eyes open in wonder and your thoughts take flights of fancy. Let the wonder of it all keep you seeking the path of joy. No matter what you’re doing, where you’re going or how you’re travelling, let joy be your constant companion.

I want my grandson to know that as we travel through the world, we can sometimes lose our way. To find ourselves again, all we need to do is come back to our hearts by living within the truth of our 3 Things.

We all have 3 Things, even more. For me today, 3 Things are what I need to travel lightly so I can share with my grandson the beauty I see in the world around me.

What about you. What are your 3 Things?


6 Comments

Giving into Grace

Franciscan scientist and theologian, Ilia Delio, writes that, “We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

An old boss of mine used to say, “Everything is connected to everything.”

What I breathe in. You breathe in. What I breathe out. You breathe out.

What I do matters to you. And what you do matters to me.

It matters to me that people are treated with dignity and respect. That kindness, compassion and tolerance prevail.

If I beat down my opponents, criticize and condemn those who go about creating their kind of “better world” in ways that do not match my idea of ‘better’, than I am contributing to discord not peace. In my harsh condemnation of another’s way, I am creating an environment where disrespect and intolerance prevail.

And that matters. Because whatever I do, someone else is impacted.

What I do matters.

What you do matters.

How we do what we do matters.

Because everything we do has an impact. It’s circle of influence may be small. It may be large. But it all has an impact. It all has a ripple.

Recently, while out shopping with my daughter and grandson, a man waited at the mall exit and held the door open for us.

It was a small act, but it, created a ripple of gratitude.

And gratitude has a way of passing itself along and becoming bigger.

All things are connected.

Yesterday, his act of grace reminded me of our capacity to be grace-filled in a moment when I really just wanted to be difficult.

I was stuck in a long line of traffic creeping into the downtown core. The left lane was closed ahead and cars were zippering into my lane on the right. As I reached the spot where the construction started, there were no more cars beside me. They’d all managed to slide into the right hand lane.

Except one driver.

He ignored the signs advising people to move into the right lane and drove right up to the construction area, turned on his right hand blinker and tried to edge into the lane.

I was about four cars back. Like the cars in front of me, I thought about making him wait for someone else to let him in. You know, teach him a lesson and all that jazz.

And then I remembered the gratitude I’d felt when the man held the door open for my daughter and me.

I chose to let the driver in.

It was better for my heart and soul.

In giving into grace, I got to free myself from the inner chatter about how the other driver was acting like a jerk. How I’d already let someone in. Yada. Yada. Yada.

All things are connected.

Small things make big waves. When I choose the path of peace and let go of criticizing and condemning, I am contributing to the creation of a more peaceful world.

When I give into grace and choose to create an environment where peace, love and joy fill my heart and soul, my ripple becomes a wave of possibility in the ocean of life all around me.

Namaste.

_______________________________

Photo Source

 

 


6 Comments

Are you trying to be enlightened? Stop it.

Source: Zen Flash 

Trying to find a Buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It’s not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can’t grab it. Beyond this mind you’ll never see a Buddha. The Buddha is a product of your mind. Why look for a Buddha beyond this mind?

– Bodhidharma ∞ Thich Nhat Hanh Philosophy & Practice

I used to think there was a place to be. A place where on this journey of life I’d know, deep within me, I had arrived.

And once there, I’d never leave.

I’m so human!

I’m learning, there is no such ‘place’. No such “I’ll never leave because here is where I’m awake, aware and conscious. And that’s how I shall always be forever more.”

I have had moments of feeling enlightened. Moments of feeling like, “AHA! This is it. This is what they mean to let go.”

And then, that place moves away. I move on. Life shifts.

I am learning that being where I am, in this moment, is more precious than trying to get to ‘the next’.

That being conscious of what is happening to me and around me right now, is more fulfilling than dreaming of what will be in the moment coming up.

I am learning.

Enlightenment is not a place to be, a thing to achieve or hold onto. It is a way. A way of living in this moment without trying to make this moment count more than the last, or less than the next.

It is a balance. A balance of being real and human. Being present and unaware. Being vulnerable and protected. Setting boundaries. Pushing through them.

It is not letting one or the other override either.

It is letting one and the other exist in this moment, this space, together.

It is claiming my right to be heard, seen, known while honouring with equal respect, everyone else’s right to be heard, seen, known.

It is… being human.

Which means, honouring my capacity to stand up while falling down. To give in while holding out. To hold on while letting go.

It means embracing the contradictions while holding firm to certainty.

Speaking truth while making space for other’s truth to be spoken knowing, there is truth in all things yet all things are not true.

It means, not striving to be anyone or anything other than who I am in this moment. Right now. Knowing, this moment right now will not last forever.

I used to think I had to get somewhere to know I’d arrived.

I’ve learned that what I know is nothing compared to what I don’t know.

And that’s okay. Because in the duality of knowing what I don’t know, I am learning that being where I am is the best place to be for me to see the possibilities of where I can go when I let go of believing I have to get somewhere else to be who I am.

Namaste.

______________________________________

Photo and Quote Source:  Zenflash


8 Comments

Are you awake and sleeping?

Have you ever noticed how you can drive somewhere and when you get to your destination, you hardly remember how you got there?

It’s as if you’re on autopilot and getting to where you were going was more an accident of nature than an intentional activity on your part.

Too often, we can go through life like that. Unplugged from our senses and awareness, we keep putting one foot in front of the other without stopping to savour each footstep, each breath, each moment.

To become fully aware in the moment of being means to be completely present.

And it’s hard to be completely present when operating on autopilot.

Ask yourself… Am I fully aware in this moment of the world around me? Am I feeling, sensing, experiencing everything?

If your answer is… well kind of. Or, a bit. Or, not at all…

Stop. Breathe. Open your eyes. Expand your heart with each breath in. Feel each breath nourishing your entire body.

Consciously tell yourself, “I breathe in Life. I breathe out Love.” “I breathe in Life. I breathe out Love.”

My experience is that often, when I am just going through the motions of my life, it is because I’ve allowed myself to fall asleep while awake. I’ve let automatic become my modus operandi.

It takes a conscious effort to come back into myself and into my world.

When I do, the beauty and wonder around me abounds with inspiration, every moment flowing with creativity.

Suddenly, a flower is not just a flower, it’s a thing of beauty and grace inspiring me to dance in the sun.

The sky is not just a sky, it is a soaring blanket of possibility calling me to rise above negative thinking into limitless creativity.

The air is not just, ‘the air I breathe.’ It is my life-support, a gift of the universe that sustains and nourishes and feeds me life, inviting me to let go of gravity and soar with my dreams.

It can be easy in our day-to-day living to forget we are creatures of immense possibilities. That we are born magnificent, whole, complete.

In those moments of forgetfulness, when autopilot takes over and we coast along without thought of how we’re moving through this world, it is possible to forget our dreams and our unlimited capacity to make them come true.

Just for today, stay conscious of each moment.

Stop. Breathe. Consciously open your eyes and heart. Consciously let yourself become present to this moment, right now. Let yourself walk feeling the muscles of your body moving your limbs, the air entering your lungs, the gentle touch of the breeze caressing your face.

Just for today, let this moment inspire you to fall totally, completely, whole-heartedly in Love with you and your life and everyone and everything in it.

Just for today, LIVE this moment as your inspiration to be In Love.

 


7 Comments

What are you creating in your life?

Have you ever asked yourself, “What am I creating in my life?”

Have you ever wondered what your creations say about you? Your journey? Your Beauty? Your Heart? Your willingness to create better in this world?

We are all each creators of beauty and greatness in the world around us.

We all have the capacity to gift to the world our best.

Yet, too often, we walk through each day, head down, taking one step after the next without giving a great deal of thought as to what each step is imprinting, what lasting impressing each gesture, word, action is creating.

Think about it.

Everything you do and say, every thought, deed, action makes an impression.

To ensure everything we create is loving, kind, beautiful and truthful, we must choose wisely.

Even in the moment to moment passing of time, we each have the power to choose to create greatness. And in that greatness, to participate in the unfolding of the greatness of the world around us.

It’s a heady thought. And a sobering one too.

To have such power is not a small responsibility. It’s life-giving.

Such power is not a gift. It is our birthright.

The gift comes when we share our birthright for the betterment of all the world to experience.

When we consciously create better for all the world.

Staying conscious of ‘creating better’ is important.

When we walk through each moment, unconscious of our imprint, we are letting go of our capacity to be great. We are giving the world are mediocrity –  the world has enough mediocrity. It needs our greatness.

As you walk through this day, consider each moment as an opportunity for you to live and share your greatness.

What would you do differently in this moment right now if you breathed into the awesome power of your essential essence. Of being a force for beauty, hope, kindness, love in the world?

What would you create in your world if you could create better?

Do it.

 


7 Comments

The art of standing in disagreement and being okay.

I struggle with disagreement. Struggle to hold space for all points of view to coexist on one common ground of possibility. To stand in openness and acknowledge, “I hear your position. This is my position.” And be okay with speaking my truth even when someone else is telling me their truth is the real truth.

Deep within my lizard brain, the little child within hears disagreement as criticism. And criticism means I’ve done something wrong. I’ve been bad. I don’t belong. I am the unwanted.

In that place, I smile with my mouth only and go quiet.

I don’t want to make waves. To be ‘the bad girl’.

I am learning.

Learning that it’s not ‘bad’ to hold a different point of view.

That it’s okay to hold my truth in equal light to someone else’s. That my point of view is relevant too. We all have the right to our own truth, our own beliefs and way of seeing the world.

It isn’t, I am wrong. You are right.

It’s that your position is valid. My position is valid. And just because there’s uncommon ground between us, it doesn’t mean one of us has to let go of our truth. It just means this place of disagreement is an opportunity to learn more about the differences between us and be okay in that space.

I am learning.

I am learning that the little child within is sometimes scared when the adult me finds herself in disagreement.

I’m learning to tell her, it’s okay. We’re okay. We don’t always have to agree. We do always need to be patient and kind. We are responsible in how we turn up. And when I turn up in grace, pay attention, speak my truth and stay unattached to the outcome, the little child within is not afraid.

I am learning to recognize myself in flight, because when I feel unsure, when I feel like I’m being attacked, I am a master of flight. And while flight is beautiful when it’s an eagle soaring on high, it’s not so comfortable for we earth-bound humans.

Flight means I’m running away. It means I am afraid to speak my truth. That I am letting go of my voice.

I am learning to ground myself in my truth where I create space for all the colours of the rainbow to shine bright, even when it’s not my kind of art.

The art is in learning to always be me, in every kind of way, in every kind of place.

I am learning that whether we agree or disagree, as long as I am patient and kind, as long as I do not let fear drive me into taking flight, I am okay with me.

There is an art to standing in disagreement without letting fear drive me away from being true to myself. That art comes alive when I am patient and kind with everyone, including myself. In that place, I can see the brilliant hues of truth shimmering in every point of view and be okay with the multi-faceted perspectives of everything and everyone.

What about you?

Are you comfortable with disagreement? Are you able to stand in your truth and allow others room to stand in theirs without feeling the need to make one right, the other wrong?

Where do you go in disagreement? How do you stand strong in your truth, giving voice to what you see while leaving room for other voices to be heard freely?