Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Moving beyond the fears of the ‘there and then’.

Years ago, when I began blogging, I set a goal of writing frequently. It quickly became apparent that ‘frequently’ left too much room for interpretation. I needed a specific measurement. I changed my goal to ‘write daily’.

It worked.

Today I have published 3,425 posts. Enough for several books worth!

I think it’s time to broaden my goal, because ultimately, writing daily is now my habit, which was the underlying intention of writing a blog — to create a safe, courageous container for me to express myself and free myself to be me while also instilling in myself the habit of writing daily.

Writing a blog for 12 years is different than writing in my journal for 12 years. In journal writing, I am an audience of one. The intention is to simply express my thoughts and feelings and allow them to ‘be’ so that I do not have to carry them around inside of me.

Writing on my blog, my intention has always been to share my experiences so that I can find value in all things – and thus, inspire others to find value in all things. No matter how dark, bad, difficult, challenging the circumstance, whatever I share, I must always find the value in whatever it is so that I can create better in the world around me.

What I’ve discovered is that in the act of setting an intention to ‘find value in all things so that I can inspire others to do the same’, I have also developed the habit of seeing the possibility in all things.

Writing every day, when coupled with my intention, has been good for my soul, my spirit, my heart, my life, my world.

But where to from here?

An interesting question as I explore my word for 2019, ‘surrender’.

One of the limiting beliefs I hold is a deeply buried fear of ‘exposure’.  It’s a weird one because it’s not really about ‘success’ or ‘failure’. It’s messed up in a fear of ‘what if people see who I truly am and reject me?’

Now, in my head, I know how ‘silly’ that fear is. But that’s the thing about limiting beliefs and the critter inside who fuels them — Limiting beliefs are fear-driven responses originally created long ago in the there and then to keep us safe in what was the here and now at the time.

Except, the here and now moved on. Our limiting beliefs didn’t. They stayed stuck in the root cause of whatever caused them to be created, deeply buried in the fears that ignited them into being. And they can only be released when we acknowledge them and lovingly expose them to the light of day.

One of the things I’ve learned is that limiting beliefs and the games they ignite are always present in my life. What has changed is my capacity to see where I’m playing them or falling into their trap, and my capacity to stop the game and get conscious of what I’m doing and where I’m at in every moment.

Where once, my self-defeating games dictated my actions, they no longer have as much power to disrupt my status quo and pull me off center.

Sure, there are times when I get triggered and respond inappropriately or without thought. But, rather than staying stuck in my victim role, or defiant child attitude, or stubborn teenager, or whatever attitude I’ve taken on, I am able to bring my integrity to bear and let go of ‘attitude’ to allow myself the grace of being real and present with myself.

So what does this have to do with a new goal for my writing?

I’ve been kind of stuck in thinking if I just keep writing, the path will appear and I will know what to do. (Which deep down is really all about my fear of being exposed)

Surrender isn’t about just letting the flow take me where it will. It’s one of the contradictions of ‘flow’. It’s not about being like a jelly fish, letting the tide’s ebb and flow take me where it will.

Surrender is about giving into and becoming one with the deeper divine wisdom within, trusting that, embraced in its presence, I am safe to step beyond my comfort zone into the unknown, confident that whatever I do or encounter, I will be supported by Love. In Love’s embrace, no action is wrong or right. It is just the action I am taking to create better in my world.

And the journey continues… Still musing…. Still evolving.. Still discerning what it means to surrender…

 

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What would be different if you opened the eyes of your heart?

The Divine dwells within you, and desires that you heal.

Carolyne Myss and Peter Occhiogrosso

In the Ayruveda, it is said that the soul is already perfect. In our human imperfections, we don’t fully realize it. In our spiritual quest to ‘become’ the perfection of our human birthright, we work at healing old wounds, soothing the past, creating new pathways to a better tomorrow. In our quest to ‘be’ the perfect Divine creation we already are, regardless of our faith, we seek wisdom to heal ourselves, without realizing our essence isn’t broken, it’s just not visible to us. We don’t have the ‘eyes’ of our heart open to see the beauty that has been within us all along.

Many years ago, at a time when I felt like I desperately needed ‘fixing’, I heard a song for the first time and was moved to tears. “Open the Eyes of My Heart” is a Christian song by Mercy Me. But it wasn’t the type of song, or faith in the song that moved me. It was the idea that if I ‘opened the eyes of my heart’, I would experience healing, feel complete, know true Love.

I still feel the tears inside my heart whenever I hear that song today. It still moves me, touches me, reaches inside me and opens the eyes of my heart to the wonder and the joy and the beauty of my Divine essence. It still awakens me to the truth of my human condition: I am a child of the Universe, the Divine expression of amazing grace.

So much of my journey of life has been about reclamation. Reclamation of self. Of my Divine essence. Of my spiritual being and self-Love.

When I look back with an open heart at the many roads that have brought me to ‘here’ today, I see the pitfalls, the potholes and the gaping wounds. And I see the beauty of everything. Because everything has awoken me to the song within my heart; a song I still sing today, knowing, I don’t need to search for perfection, completelness, my spiritual essence. I already hold it all. Within me. And it already holds me. I am already whole. I am already healed. I am already embraced by the Divine.

When I get out of the way of my own thinking, I am at peace.

When I get out of the way of my doing, I am enough.

When I get out of the way of my being, I become all I am; the Divine expression of amazing grace.

The question is: Are you willing to open the eyes of your heart and see your amazing grace?


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Are you flowing with or against the current?

I dream.

I am crossing a desert. Looking for signs of life. I come to the edge of a river. I am hot. Tired. Lonely. Scared. On the other side of the river I see people dancing on the sands that edge up against a beautiful forest filled with flowers and birds and luscious fruits. The people call to me. They wave and yell, “Come on over.”

The current is fast. The water dark and deep. I am afraid to swim across. Seeing my fear they throw me a rope. I grab onto it but am still afraid to step into the waters. They tug on the rope and I slip and enter the river.

It is cold. I fight against the current. Fight against the tug on the rope. I see the people waving, calling out to me to hold on, they will pull me in. But I don’t want their help. I don’t want to be where they are on the bank of the river. I want to explore the lands further down.

I let go of the rope. The water pulls me. I fight against it. I grow tired. And then, the thought enters my mind that I must surrender. I must quit resisting the rivers current and flow with it, not against it.

A beautiful peace envelopes me. I drift upon the waters and am carried gently to a place further down the shore. A place of such spectacular beauty it takes my breath away. I step onto the shore and feel the silky texture of the sands beneath my feet. The warmth of the sun upon my back. The kiss of the breeze upon my cheek. Beauty surrounds me in all its breath-taking awe…

I awaken.

Like the woman in my dream, I sometimes resist life’s natural current, the ebb and flow of energy pulsating around me, through me, in me. I fight against the current, trying to make it fit me. To mold it to my design. To fit it into a box of what I construct in my mind as my ‘reality’.

It’s time to surrender and flow gracefully in the current of life.

When I let go of the ropes I use to manipulate, control, manage life around me, I give into the flow of life, its natural tendency to support me, lift me up, carry me onward, make me part of life flowing endlessly.

Like a drowning woman fighting against the waters, my resistance draggs me under, undermining my ability to float on the surface and be carried gracefully with the current to where ever it takes me.

When I flow with the current, I am one with the waters. I am free to dive beneath the surface, swim with the fish, explore the depths or rest gently on the surface, flowing with the flow. I am free to let the waters carry me as I let go of my need to direct their course and take their destination as a matter of course.

I can’t change the course of the river. I can change my course to let myself flow in the current of life, with grace and ease, peacefully stepping onto the shores where ever they find me, joyfully swimming in the waters of life buoying me up with their laughter, song, dance and love.

The question is: Are you struggling against the current, swimming upstream, battling against the flow? Are you willing to surrender and flow in and with the current of life?


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When there’s nothing else to do. Surrender.

“Surrender”  Alcohol ink on Yupo Paper
11″ x 14″
Louise Gallagher 2019

It’s an interesting space, this place where I surrender my ‘knowing’ to embrace the all of what I do not know, about life.

My active mind wants me to believe that if I just acknowledge my not knowing, I’ll be able to figure out all the knowing I need.

My intuitive, essential self knows, there is nothing to know except this moment right now. Nothing to do but to give into the river of life in which I flow freely, in this moment right now, and be present, alive, here.

In surrender, there is no knowing. There just is. What is. Reality as I see it. Experience it. Know it. Without any insistence on the part of my mind that I can channel it, change it, create it, make it into anything other than what is.

In the big moments in our lives, many of us will come to that moment of surrender. That dark night of the soul where we know there is nothing else we can do. We can’t keep fighting. Crying. Hurting. Being here.

In that space, we surrender and accept, we do not have the answers. We do not know the way.

In that space, we accept there is a force outside ourselves, greater than ourselves, other than, that we submit to. We can’t see it. Perhaps don’t even believe in it. We just know, we surrender.

And in that surrender, a path opens up. We don’t know where it’s going. If it’s even ‘the right’ path. We just know, we need to take another step and trust the next one will appear.

Looking back, we stand in awe of that moment. Not because it appeared but rather, because in all our trying to get there, trying to make it happen, nothing happened. And then, in our surrender, it appeared.

Living our daily lives in that place of surrender can be difficult. We’ve got lists of things to do. Places to be.

Who’s got time for surrender when there’s just too much to get done and not enough hours in a day?

We can practice surrender in those small, every day moments.

We can meditate. Walk. Dance. Ride a bike. Do something that takes our minds off our ‘doing’ to fall gently into our being.

Yesterday, I chose to paint. I did have ‘a goal’. When a word chooses me for the year, I create a painting to remind me of the word.

I sank into meditation and a vision of ‘surrender’ arose and while the final painting does not look like that vision, it feels like surrender to me.

When I create, I let go of ‘the outcome’ and fall into the grace of being present in the moment of creation. I play. I have fun. I experiment. I ‘don’t know’ as much as respond to how the paint flows, the colours blend, the canvas calls.

It is a beautiful, enlivening place. A space that reminds me, always, to surrender and…

Breathe.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

As you go through your day, stop every so often, breathe and ask yourself,

What am I experiencing in this moment, right now?

What if, my experience is not ‘the thing’? What if ‘the thing’ is to let everything be as it is, just as it is?

What if, I sit and breathe and let what is be my experience in this moment?

Now, feel it. Be it. Breathe into it. Right now.

Namaste.

 

 

 


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Do You Have Wrinkles in Your Mind

While we didn’t spend a lot of time sun-bathing (I actually don’t like lying in the sun all that much but I do like swimming), after 17 days in the sun and heat, I have a lovely tan. Everyone I meet comments on my ‘glow’.

It got me thinking, we spend a lot of time considering/worrying about what we put in and on our bodies, but not as much time about what we put in our minds. We worry about wrinkles on our face, but what about wrinkles in our thinking?

I took a great book to read while on vacation, Thomas L Friedman’s “Thank You for Being Late. An optimist’s guide to thriving kn the age of acceleration.” 

I opened it on the flight to Mexico and read the whole way but after that, my mind just wasn’t in to thinking quite so much. In fact, reading just wasn’t part of my agenda. I did work on the beginnings of a children’s story for Thurlow but other than that, I didn’t spend a lot of time concentrating on anything other than relaxing.

And that was good for my body, soul, heart and spirit.

I don’t do enough of that.

Last night, as we will be 16 for Christmas dinner on December 26th, I decided I wouldn’t start unpacking but instead, start working on the name cards for the table.

Making name cards and figuring out my tablescape gives me great joy. I love everything about it. Even the scrolling through Pinterest in search of ideas, makes me feel happy!

As C.C. watched a hockey game I hauled out a bunch of supplies. One of my intentions for this upcoming year is to be more environmentally thoughtful, using and reusing before purchasing new. Not going out and buying a whole bunch of stuff for the table is part of that intention.

I’ve also decided to not go all glitter and glam with the table and to take a more traditional, folksy track this year.

And what does all of that have to do with what I’m feeding my mind?

It stretches my creative muscles and pulls me outside my comfort zone.

I love to create sparkly, glittery things for the table. It’s kind of a happy place for me.

Doing it up more earthy, using traditional Christmas colours of red and green, means I need to let go of my glitter glam to breathe into the simplicity and naturalness of tradition.

It’s fun. And it’s taxing. I like glitter! they cover up mistakes, wrinkles, blemishes and a host of other things that didn’t quite turn out perfect!

Which brings me back to wondering about the wrinkles in my mind.

I’m sure there are many crenelated layers of thoughts that hold unused and possibly unnecessary ideas from the past that do not serve me today. Unless I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone, they will continue to hold me tethered to thinking that is outdated, non-productive and limiting.

How to remove them?

I don’t think I can.

But, I can feed them wholesome brain food that will soften the wrinkles and create the more of what I want in my life and the world. I can pay as much attention to what I put into my mind, as I do to what I put on my face to combat times desire to form wrinkles in my skin.

Vegging out in front of a mindless TV show or reading some trashy novel just to escape does not feed me what I need to feel alive. It only debilitates me, making me feel more tired than I actually am.

Ultimately, it’s not about escaping my mind. It’s about diving into everything I put into it with a passion for creating a loving, kind, thoughtful place where I feel safe, refreshed and energized by every thought that flows through me. In that place, I am free to express myself in everything I do through loving kindness.

What a lovely thought.

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One thing I love to do as I create is to listen to podcasts. On Monday, my eldest daughter Alexis, text me to say, “Drop whatever you’re doing and listen to Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Mark Nepo.”

Mark Nepo is one of my favourite artists.  For a year, C.C. read me a passage from his “Book of Awakening” every night when we went to bed.

It’s time to go back to that place where my day ends reading outloud with my beloved.

In the meantime, his conversation with Oprah is incredibly soul-inspiring. Do drop whatever you’re doing to listen.  Mark Nepo on Super Soul Sunday

 

 

 


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Sun. Surf and Family Fun. I’ve got it all!

And we’re off! Tomorrow that is.

By tomorrow afternoon, C.C., our two eldest daughters and their partners along with my grandson will be arriving in Mexico. We’ll spend 9 days together in a beautiful house we’ve rented on the beach in Todos Santos on the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula.  And then, on the 9th, the others will fly home and C.C. and I will fly to Huatulco for a week at Villas Fa Sol.

I am beyond excited.

The trip was inspired by my daughters who suggested we go away together to celebrate my birthday. I liked the idea of being away for this momentous (I think its momentous to turn 65 but I haven’t quite figured out all that it means! But ‘they’ tell me it’s important so I’m going with that) occasion. We considered all the options and, given the time of year, a warm vacation seemed most appropriate, especially as we are travelling with a 10 month old.

Before tomorrow there is still today. And I’ve got lots to do yet before shutting down my computer at work, turning out the lights and putting up the “On Vacation” sign on my door. (I don’t really have an “On Vacation” sign for my door but I do like the idea of it!)

So… back to turning 65 years young.

It is just a number, yet, this number puts me into a ‘new’ age bracket. I’m now officially a senior where ever I go. And when I say it I get the feeling I should be feeling different. Acting otherwise. thinking some other way.

Truth is… I truly don’t know what I’m supposed to be feeling about turning 65. I’ve never been here before and other than the random thought of “OMG! I’m turning 65. What on earth does that mean?” I haven’t spent a lot of time contemplating this changing of the guard in the numbers representing my age.

There are a few things I’ve noticed…

I’ve got more aches and pains than I used to.

The arthritis in my feet flares up more frequently, making walking painful and yes, the finger I closed in the garage door when the motor went and I tried to close it manually a few years back does give me grief. It’s nubby and deformed and I’m often conscious of how it looks, especially because I talk so much with my hands.

And I can’t run a marathon anymore (lol. I can’t run very far at all but I still love to walk with Beau and spend time in nature) and I’ve definitely put on weight and there is more gray than black in my hair and more character lines on my face than I personally think I  need, but Mother Nature didn’t ask me how many lines I wanted and I think the number was predetermined when I was born based on the genetics I carried into this world anyway!

But really… what does turning 65 mean other than I get discounts every where and apparently, a bus pass is really cheap!

65 is just a number, an age, a day in time.

It’s not something I can avoid — though I did read somewhere about a guy who feels he can’t get dates on dating sites because of his age. He’s petitioned the courts to legally roll 20 years off his age because he believes he is more like a 45 year old in every way than his current 65!

Oh if it were so simple.

Fact is, I like my age. I’ve lived every moment of it. Worked my entire life to be this age and don’t really feel it is a detriment (fortunately I’m not on dating sites) :). Actually, in many ways I feel my age is my strength.

There was a time, when I was younger when I worried a great deal about what others thought of me. And, because I wanted their approval, I would say and do things that were not congruent with my values, beliefs or desires. I wanted to ‘fit in’ and would do a lot to make it happen.

Now, I’m comfortable with who I am, how I am and what I do in the world. I know I can make mistakes, hurt people through thoughtless words and actions, but the difference today is I don’t spend time defending my bad behaviour. I choose to own it. Apologize where necessary and move on. I no longer feel the need to stew in perceived injustices. Injustices happen. The world, and all its beautiful people is not perfect. But I can be perfectly happy with my place in the world, and I am.

Because something I’ve learned in getting to this beautiful number of 65 is… happiness is an inside-out job. I gotta be happy with me to be happy in my world.

Today, no matter my age, I choose to be happy with me in all my beauty and imperfections because that’s what makes my world a happier place. It’s only taken me 65 years to get here and I’m so very glad I am here.

Namaste.

 

 


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Walk in Gratitude

I don’t know if it’s the late November blahs, excitement of leaving for Mexico for two weeks on Saturday and too much to get done before I go, or just my frame of mind before the advent of December, but yesterday I said to a friend, “Oh oh. I’m feeling ‘the bitchy’ rumbling. I need to breathe a few moments before I walk into any room because if I let ‘the bitchy’ take hold, there’s no telling how I might express myself.”

Fact is, when ‘the bitchy’ arises, it’s easy to let ‘stupid’ become the stinkin‘ expression of my angst-riddled thinkin‘ .

My friend laughed and told me how his go to place is depression. In that dark place, if left to its own ministrations, his tendency to dip down into sadness will turn to depression which he  expresses through dark clouds and stormy exclamations that can wreak havoc in the world around him. “I usually go off and hide when I feel the sadness coming on. I don’t trust myself to be around other people. Who knows what might set me off?” he said.

Most of us have them. Those ‘moods’ that descend seemingly out of nowhere to alter our outlook in the moment passing by with their cloudy, stormy dispositions. Those moods that, if left to their own devices, steal our peace of mind and inner balance with their insistence that angst-filled living is the only way to get satisfaction.

Like Mick Jagger and heartburn, “I can’t get no satisfaction” from my angst. I just get more angst.

I know they are there, those hazy mood altering shadows that penetrate my well-being when I’m paying the least attention. It’s not really all that important why, or what triggers them. Often, the trigger is as inexplicable as the mood. What is important is that I acknowledge its presence, greet it with love and set it free.

Like that poem broken-hearted lovers espouse, If you love something set it free, if it comes back it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was, ill humour is never mine to hold onto. (It’s also not mine to set free into the world!)

Which is why, when I identify fissures of discord arising within me, breathing becomes my default go-to.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Slowly. Quietly.

Breathe in. Breathe out. And as I breathe, ask for divine guidance, for sacred intervention to descend and open me up to expansion.

In expansion mode, ‘the bitchy’ has no room to grow. But when I’m contracted (which is what happens when I give into inner angst)… watch out. She ‘The bitchy’ likes to get in there and flex her muscles. She likes to mess things up.

And I slip into a state of being grateful and accepting of all that is in my life. As a dear friend once shared with me, gratitude and acceptance are states of being, not tools. “Rejoice in whatever is occurring rather than attempt to deny or deflect it” he said.. “Misery arises when I attempt to comprehend or “fit in” to my stories of what “should be”. There are no tools as there is nothing to fix.”

The bitchy visited. I do not need to comprehend or fit into her stories. I need to breathe and ‘open up to expansion’.

Yesterday, I thought I needed to corral ‘the bitchy’ into submission. Subdue her with mental gymnastics. I changed my mind.

I welcomed her in love. Greeted her with familiarity and let her flow without needing to express her angst with inappropriate behaviours.

In gratitude for her reminder that I am grateful for all things in my world, I breathed.

In. Out. In. Out.

Though brief, she reminded me to center once again in gratitude. She doesn’t need fixing. I don’t need changing. In the moment of acknowledging her presence, all I needed was to breathe and adjust my disposition to expand into love, not contract into fear, to let grace flow. In acknowledging her shadow I let her flow through gratitude into the light of love all around.

Outside my window, the world sleeps beneath a week old blanket of snow. The river flows by. Inside, my beloved sleeps in our bed. Beaumont lies curled up on the chaise beside me. I hold them in my mind’s eye and surround them with love.

I turn my sights to the world around me and let go of expectations of perfection as I open myself up to expansion of my gratitude of all I have and pour love into my day.

Whatever is happening out there, all is well in my world within me. May all be well in yours.

Namaste.