Category Archives: letting go of fear

We are at home now.

There was a time, before this time we’re in, when it seemed like time was moving too quickly.

A time when it felt as if, like the limit on my credit card, the closer I got to day’s end, the faster time disappeared into thin air leaving me with nothing to account for all the time I’d spent dreaming of more time to spend in the light of day.

Alone in the dark night of my soul’s yearning for more time, I counted the minutes until I could rise up again and begin chasing the moments of time passing by.

And then, one day, it felt like time stopped and the world stopped with it and we crashed into the realization that we were trapped on this planet Earth holding tight to its orbit spinning around the sun. When it felt like in one global exhale, we had all run out of time because we had to face the reality of the invisible enemy amongst us spinning a web of destruction around the globe. We were its unintentional hosts and our human connection was passing it hand to hand, threatening our loved ones and tearing our world apart.

Horrified that we were its carriers, we bowed beneath the crashing waves of panic that washed over us. Adrift in a sea of fear, we retreated from the onslaught of this invisible enemy and ran for our lives.

The enemy didn’t care where we ran. It followed us everywhere. It stalked us where ever we went. When we hoarded supplies, when we boarded aircraft, when we sailed on ships across the ocean blue. It didn’t care for our political persuasions or religious leanings, the colour of our skin, our economic excesses or poverty. It only cared about its own survival.

Under the relentlessness of its incursion into our lives, we were forced to disconnect from the world we knew so well and find our way back, back to the place our stories began, home.

We are home now. Home amidst the chaos of our lives disrupted by this global disruption. Struggling to fit the pieces together. Struggling to keep ourselves and each other afloat as the waves keep crashing against the shores of our fear we will be overcome by this enemy we cannot see with the naked eye but know is there, waiting.

We are home now, struggling to hold onto hope. Struggling to find our way through the fear we will not have a world to return to.

In the midst of all the uncertainty, we struggle to create daily routines, balancing the needs of children out of school with the demands of working from home. Juggling daily needs of normal life with caring for ourselves, our families and elderly parents and others who rely on us to support them. All while trying to keep our distance while searching for peace of mind amidst the constant barrage of news we cannot stop watching.

We struggle and we remind ourselves. Again and again. This too shall pass. We are at home now. Those of us privileged enough to have a place to call home. We are at home. Safe. Distanced yet not apart. Doing our part to put a stop to the enemy’s invasion into our daily lives. This enemy that does not respect borders, or laws, or our human existence.

We are at home. May we all say a prayer for those who don’t have a place to call home and call out urgently to our leaders to create pathways so that they too may know the safety of home.

The streets of our cities are emptied out. The air is silent of horns blaring and engines roaring. The skies are clear of jet streams trailing off towards the far horizon. The forests are filled with songbirds singing. The rivers are running clear. The fish are returning home.

Mother Earth is catching her breath in this interlude of time where all humanity is taking shelter from this enemy that would attack wherever two or more of us are gathered.

We are at home now. Biding time until the danger passes and we can once again gather with family and friends, and walk along streets crowded with our neighbours and gather together in public places and places of worship and wilderness, and places of song and dance and theatre and art and food and wine and play and laughter and joy. Where we can celebrate fearlessly together, this one, precious, beautiful thing called life on this planet Earth we call home.

We are one planet. One human race.

In this time that feels like no other time we have ever witnessed, in this time where the numbers climb and we watch breathlessly for the curve to flatten and the deaths to abate and the fear to die down, let’s each of us light a candle and say a prayer for those who have lost the fight and those who are still fighting to stay alive. Let us say a prayer for those who are standing at the frontlines saving lives and those who are leaving their homes to ensure we can stay home in comfort. Let us say a prayer and give thanks for their sacrifices. We are strong because they stand between us and this enemy. They give us hope.

This too shall pass. This solitude at home. This social distancing that invites us to stand united yet apart.

This too shall pass.

In this time of its passing, let’s join our hands together to encircle all the globe. Let us rise up as one and call one another home, home to the heart of our humanity beating in harmony for all the world to hear how, in the face of this enemy, we came together as one human race to live in peace, harmony and Love on this beautiful planet that is our home.

Namaste.

Sequestered in Solitude

 

It is light outside when I awaken. Night has slipped away and I have slept through its departure.

Day has begun.

I am grateful.

For the past several mornings I have been unable to sleep beyond 4am. The days grow tiring with little sleep the night before.

Yesterday, I napped in the afternoon.

A gift. A respite. A welcome interlude in my day.

The rhythm of my day has not changed much with the ‘stay home’ order. Something has shifted within me though. It’s as though, without the freedom to come and go, a restlessness invades.  A teenage angst stirs. ‘No one tells me what to do’ the voice of years past declares inside my head.

And I want to heed it. I want to say, ‘Hell ya. You got that right.”

I ignore it.

It gets louder. “This is ridiculous. It won’t hurt just to go to the grocery store, or wander around the mall.

I keep ignoring it.

It doesn’t like that. It raises its voice. “You are such a goodie-two-shoes. You know, that’s what they called you in high school. Ya. Goodie-two-shoes. Little Miss I’m so perfect I don’t even know there’s another side of right called wrong.”

I catch myself thinking about stopping at the grocery store on the way home from the park with Beaumont.

I quit taking my wallet with me.

We have been sequestered in solitude for 21 days now. Ever since my mother’s celebration of life and our family members returned home. We dropped them off at the airport, drove home in separate vehicles and when my beloved and I walked back into the house we knew what we had to do. He has a medical condition that puts him at the top of the ‘at risk’ chart of potential suspects. We knew we had to stay home. We could not risk his health and well-being to this virus slithering through the shadows waiting to infiltrate through any crack in our defenses. It does not respect the sanctity of human life. We must take care.

And the teenaged angst rises up, “But you’re not sick. You’re just old and chicken.”

I ignore the sting of its words and its reminder of the fact I fit into the ‘seniors category’.

I’m still struggling with that one. It’s been one and a half years since I slipped over that societal border of middle age to senior. I like being a woman of this distinctive age, I just don’t like the label. Senior.

The teenager quickly grasps at this new opportunity to stick it to me, “If you weren’t so old you’d be out there doing things instead of sitting in here doing nothing.”

I want to refute its insistence I am doing nothing. I want to fight back. Ward off its declaration of my uselessness with words of my own. I want to set it straight.

And then I remember the advice I’d been given when my daughters were teens, “Do not fight back. Step closer.”

I take a gentle breath and step into the hard edges of my teenaged angst. “I hear you. I hear your fear. Your worry that the world will end and you will never get a chance to live. I hear you.”

The voice quietens. It stops to take in a breath and in that gap between words and breath, I wrap my arms around my own self and say, “It’s okay. You’re okay. You’re doing the right thing.”

And my teenage angst and I embrace one another and together, we cry.

It’s okay, I whisper to the one inside who wants to rise up and rail against all that is going on, all that it cannot change, all that it cannot do.  It’s okay.

And we cry. Together.

Tears are my prayer for well-being in all the world today. It is good to cry for the world. There is so little I can do to make it different. My tears are my offering that wash away my fear. In the cleansing wake of their falling, Love flows freely.

It’s okay.

That tightness in your chest. That restlessness. That angst and listlessness. It’s okay. It’s just fear crying out for release.

Where there is fear, love is also present. All you need to feel its gentle breath and healing touch is to let your tears wash away your fear so Love can flow freely.

Namaste.

__________________________________

It was one month ago today that my mother took her last breath.

On our family zoom call on Sunday, my sisters and daughters and I were talking about how grateful we are that we had that time with her. That her last days were not spent under the social distancing necessary to fight the spread of Covid-19.

We are so grateful.

This morning, my tears and prayers are for all those families who cannot be with their loved ones who lay in isolation, who cannot say good-bye, surrounded by their families and friends.

This morning, I light a candle and send you my prayers for peace and gentleness of heart so that you may stand, strong of back, as you weather your burdens of loss sequestered in solitude.

May peace be with you.

There ain’t no virtue in being a martyr

No. 59 #ShePersisted Series

When I was a little girl, I thought it was my job to make my mom happy.

I sucked at it.

Not understanding why she cried so much and why she sometimes threatened to take her own life in front of us children, I did everything I could to make her laugh, to (literally) take the knife out of her hand. Mostly I made her cry. I didn’t realize I was not responsible to lift the cloud of dark depression (which as a child I had no name for) that permeated her essence.

I wasn’t that powerful.

I tell you this because in times of extreme stress, and you gotta admit, this pandemic qualifies as that, those childhood messages can rear up and undermine our well-being, our sense of self, our way of being in the world, if we don’t get conscious of our own ‘stuff’.

We’ve got to take care of ourselves.

And part of good self-care is being conscious of the things we are doing, including the unconscious/buried/hidden internal messages our psyche’s are acting out on from our ‘lizard brains’, that do not serve us well in the here and now.

Like believing I could save my mom.

Over the years and circumstances of my life, that child’s thinking turned into an adult belief that it is my job to save the world. That there is something I need to be doing to raise civilization up, to stop the tears, the pain, the suffering. But, (and here’s the kicker) because I couldn’t do it as a child for my mom, I also have a darker side of that belief; the self-defeating, self-annihilating belief that, no matter what I do, it won’t matter. Because, and this is the child’s thinking infiltrating my adult mind which knows it isn’t true but struggles in times of stress to soothe the child’s cries of, “I don’t matter”. “Why bother?” “Whatever I do won’t make a difference anyway.”

Now, I have spent my adult life working on healing those childhood wounds and fears. As Virginia Slims ads used to say, “You’ve come a long way baby”.  But, just like the virtues of the cigarettes those ads used to extoll, in times of distress, we are all at risk of falling back to default positions in order to cope. For me, one of those defaults is the good old depressing, martyr’s role. Unfortunately, there’s no virtue in playing the martyr unless you want to be a saint.

Ha!  Did I mention that the meaning of ‘Louise’ is ‘Saviouress of the world”?  Actually, Louise means, ‘protectress of the people’, so close, right?

I think I may have taken myself and the meaning of my name a tad too seriously. But hey! You can call me Saint Louise if you like.

Don’t get me wrong, I am laughing at myself this morning, looking at my hubris and throwing my hands up in the air as I exclaim, “Oh my look at me being so human! How fascinating!”

The fact is, I am sharing this because understanding where my shadow self is at play, keeps me grounded in the truth. I am not powerful enough to save the world. I am powerful enough to change my world. To create light and beauty in my world, to share my gifts with a generous heart and to create ripples of better all around me.

To do that, I must take care of myself so that I can then give back to others from a place of compassion, generosity and Love.

I know, deep within me, that I am not here to save the world. I am here to save myself from my thinking I am here to save the world. (That one made me smile so I’m leaving it as is).

So, here’s the deal. I tell you all this because I have been feeling the weight of this crisis, wanting to do more, feeling powerless, helpless, useless. I have been struggling to find my way through the dark, alone.

I am not alone. We are all in this together. We are all connected. This is all our one world, one planet, one humanity.

It’s just sometimes, when I’m not taking good care of myself by loving myself through the darkness, I can get trapped in believing I’m all alone. I don’t matter. I can never do enough.

I know that when I’m willing to embrace my truth with compassion and love, be it my light shining or a dark shadow looming, I am free of my childhood driven fear that I will never matter. I will never make a difference. I have no worth.

We all matter. We all make a difference. We all have worth.

And here’s the deal.  Remember at the beginning of this (long) post, I said in the context of saving my mother, “I wasn’t that powerful”?

Well, when we take care of ourselves, when we heed the voices rising up out of the dark past and lovingly embrace their fears, their angst, their belief there’s nothing we can do, we are taking really good care of ourselves. Because, in acknowledging their presence, they feel safe enough to return to the past and we become free to be here in the present, in all our light, beauty, and love.

And in that place, we are powerful enough to live from our magnificence, so that together we can create a better world for everyone.

Namaste.

(And yup. She’s a long one this morning. I thank you for reading through to the end. I thank you for shining your light on my path. I thank you for being you.)

 

 

My Tears Have No Name

My Tears Have No Name
©2020 Louise Gallagher

My tears have no name this morning
no one simple reason, no one single purpose
but to fall for all of this,
for all the world, for all of us,
for everyone and everything.

My tears do not need to be named
they are tears born of these times,
tears for these fears that walk with each of us.
They are tears for loss and grief, illness and death.
They are tears for those who are feeling lost and alone
and those who are hungry and frightened
and those who are ill
and those who are afraid that someone they love will fall.

My tears are all I have to give
to a shuttered-in world wrapped in fear.
My tears are the words I cannot speak
to a family I do not know, whose circle is broken,
a child who lost their grandfather
a son who lost their mother
a neighbour who lost a friend.

I have no words to name these feelings
my tears must speak for themselves,
and in their speaking
may they ease your pain as they ease mine
may they wash away your fear as they wash away mine
may they help relieve the burden
of being alone and isolated
of being laid off and frightened
of facing an unknown future
in a time when the future holds so much certainty
of sickness and death, loss and grief yet to come.

May my tears flow into the ocean
of your tears washing away the darkness,
letting in the light so that together,
we can see the path to where
what feels like life as we knew it ending
is actually the beginning of life that we create,
together, springing forth
out of Love for all humanity rising as One.

Creating An Oasis of Calm

At the bend, where the river curves and carves its way through the vestiges of winter’s ice, in that place where two benches wait to beckon visitors to come and sit awhile, two ducks waddle across the snow-covered ground honking for no reason but that they can. Above them, a squirrel chatters in a tree, leaping from limb to limb.

I stop to watch and listen. I stop to breathe and bear witness.

I needed to stop. To standstill. To breathe in the fresh cool air redolent of spring to come. I needed to stop and be present to all the life that was happening in that moment where the river flowed through the ice, the ducks waddled past and the squirrel flew through the air.

In these uncertain days of a virus hellbent on disrupting life as we know it, of lives shuttered in homes under fear’s relentless onslaught and incident counts climbing, I needed that moment of calm. That moment unburdened of anything but the beauty
of nature flowing by, the wonder of ducks walking past and the magic of a squirrel leaping.

I needed to stop. I needed to be reminded of life, and nature, and beauty.

______________________

I took a day off from the studio yesterday. And, while I did not create in that space, I baked bread and wrote the above piece about a photo I took on one of my walks with Beaumont. I spent half an hour watching the Live VideoCam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (meditative and calming),  I did some yoga. Checked in with family and friends via phone and Facetime and watched Coldplay’s Chris Martin’s Instagram pop-up concert (delightful!)

I also started working on a weekly art challenge to share with everyone — Creative Daring (more to come on that one — it was my eldest daughter’s suggestion) and spent some time exploring the Musee D’Orsay via the internet as well as reading a novel.

It is all part of my commitment to add calmness and beauty to the world. To create spaces of serenity and ease. To be the change I want to see.

It doesn’t mean fear doesn’t lurk at the edges of calm, seeking a crack through which to slip in and play havoc with my peace of mind.

Doesn’t mean I am zen-like in my aplomb.

It does mean that I am consciously feeding my peace of mind what is healthy and calming. I am actively disengaging from the constant scouring of the news I was prone to lapse into before I ‘got conscious’.

Fear leads to panic. Naming my fears leads to knowing them, and knowledge is invaluable — not the knowledge that comes from feasting on news reports of the latest statistics and growing crises around the world — but the kind of knowledge that reminds me of my own power to create ripples of calm, joy, beauty all around me and within me.

So that’s one of the other things I did yesterday — I named my fears.

I wrote them out on a piece of paper.
Studied them. Acknowledged them.
Welcomed them in and let them know —
I see you. I hear you. I know you.
I appreciate that you believe that in your presence you are only trying to keep me safe. I get it.

Please hear me.
I’ve got this.
You can rest now.
My loving self is in charge. My peace of mind is rising up to embrace you and all of me in its caring, considerate, calming arms.
I am okay.

I felt better after I’d done it. Sure, some of my fears feel real, like they’re of substance.

Fact is, they are all based on the unknown. Based on ‘what if’s’ and ‘oh no’s’ that run rampant through my thoughts when I let my fears take the reins of where my mind wants to go when fear-driven.

Fact is, whatever happens, will happen. My job is to ensure I am doing all the right things, right now, to create love and harmony, peace and calm, and above all, well-being, in my world around me. This world where my beloved and I share our home, our lives, our love.

In this space, whatever happens next has a better chance of being something I choose, not something imposed on me.

Knowing I am doing whatever I can to create an oasis of calm (and good health) in my life and our home, gives me great peace of mind, and strengthens my capacity to weather all kinds of weather.

What are you doing to take care of you? What are your tips for creating an oasis of calm in your world today?

 

 

In the eye of the hurricane, we stand united.

I awoke from a dream this morning, feeling… hopeful.

I am standing in the eye of a hurricane surrounded by millions upon millions of my sisters and brothers of every colour, creed and conviction. (A socially prudent distance apart, of course).

Around us, the winds buffet and howl. They swirl and moan and blow fiercely in a continuous cacophony of sound desperately attempting to drown out all commonsense, all moral conviction, all loving human interaction.

The wind is fighting to tear us apart.

We do not attempt to fight against it. We let the winds howl away as we stand with firm resolve in our shared human condition.

We are one people. One humanity. One planet.

We stand strong.

We stand together.

The winds blow more fiercely.

Someone asks, what can we do to keep us safe from this storm?

Someone yells above the chaos, “Be kind!”

Someone else yells, “Be grateful!”

“Be generous.”

“Be gentle.”

“Be tolerant.”

“Be loving.”

“Practice Self-love.”

“Practice Brotherly/Sisterly love.”

And someone else calls out, “Pass the toilet paper!”

And together, as one voice, we laugh and pass the toilet paper to those whose hands are empty.

And the calls for kindness, generosity, grace increase.

And the sound of the wind becomes drowned out by our humanity taking action to support one another, to love each other and to live the truth that connects us all:

We are one people. One humanity. One planet.

We cannot fight Covid-19 alone. We cannot fight it as individual countries, regions or districts.

Viruses do not respect man-made borders. They travel the globe unimpeded by laws prohibiting their entry.

We must set personal boundaries to keep it at bay. We must protect ourselves and each other by doing the right things that will preserve life and give the storm time to blow itself out without ravaging the lives of many.

We can keep our social distance.

We can wash our hands and the surfaces we touch.

And above all, we can treat eachother with the most powerful tools we have — our human capacity to be kind, considerate, generous, grateful, loving…

Let us all stand united in kindness.

Let us all be our brothers and sisters keepers.

Let us remember our humanity in the howling winds of this storm sweeping the globe and stand fiercely in love in the eye of the hurricane, strengthened by our collective commitment to take care of one another with loving-kindness, grace and generosity.

 

I read the news today. Oh boy.

No 58 – #ShePersisted Series
Mixed media on acrylic paper
11 x 14″

“I read the news today. Oh boy.” (Source)

Like an addict seeking their next fix, I scour the Net for the latest news related to Covid-19. I creep Facebook pages and furtively dart into Instagram threads like an underage teenager slipping into a sex shop, hoping to garner one tiny morsel of news that will feed my need to know what’sgoing on.

And I repeat it. Time and again. Even though I’m not clear on what more there is for me to know other than what I can do to keep myself and those I love safe and to minimize my risk of passing the disease along.

The numbers here are rising. We’re on the upside of the curve, desperately trying to flatten it down, while in the far east, they’re on the downward slide, desperately trying to revive shuttered lives and businesses.

Social distancing isn’t a cure but it helps stem the flow when we do it together.

Washing hands and avoiding touching my face will protect me. And I’m doing my best not to worry, but there’s still no guarantee Covid-19 won’t slip in through some unknown crack in my defences.

All I can do is breathe and trust. Breathe and trust.

I read the news today. Oh boy.

I don’t know why I keep reading.

Perhaps I’m hoping it’s all been a big mistake.

Perhaps I think I’ll read it’s over. Done. Gone.

Perhaps I’m just looking for hope between the black and white reality of these times we find ourselves in with nothing but good sanitation and keeping our distance to keep us safe.

I read the news today. Oh boy.

And then I re-read the lines I’d already devoured in an effort to stem my seemingly unending need for information.

And it’s then I realize, all this readin’ is not good for my health.

I don’t need to bury my head in the sand, but I do need to gain some balance between reading the news and living my life in these uncertain times.

Labels don’t change Covid’s reality just as knowing how many presumptive versus confirmed cases have occurred does not change the course of my day. Trusting that I am doing everything I can to keep myself and my loved ones safe, does.

Fact is, it’s not Covid-19 stealing my peace of mind, it’s my incessant reading of the news.

I read the news today. Oh boy.

And then, I stopped.

There is still a beautiful world out there. A world of nature and rivers flowing. Of sights waiting to be seen. Of adventures waiting to be had.

There are still words to be written. Paintings to be painted. Life to live.

It’s my choice whether I carry fear as my companion or peace of mind.

Because, while I may not have a lot of choice in what Covid-19 is doing, I do have choice in what I do. Today. Right now.

For now, those sights to be seen, those adventures to be had, those words to be written and paintings to be painted, they are mine to do, right here. Right now. Albeit, closer to home, and mostly alone.

For now. Because no matter what is happening today, this too shall pass.

The unknown always existed. It’s just right now, the unknown comes with a name that is stirring my worry genes and causing me to break out in a sweat.

And so, I breathe.

And the river flows past my window and I sit and watch its undulations.

I cannot change its course.

All I can do is to find my peace of mind by reminding myself I have the power to create a day full of beauty, love and grace. Right here. Right now.

I have the power, right here, right now, to find myself in this moment and breathe into the silence and the beauty that surrounds me.

I cannot change the course of Covid-19, but, together? Together we can stem its flow. We can flatten the curve of its impact. Together, we can get through this by doing the things we know we must do to manage its passing through.

I read the news today. And then I stopped. It is time for me to take control of what I allow into my mind, body, spirit and world.

This morning, I’m off to walk my dog. To watch him play in the snow. To watch the river flow past.

If I meet strangers in the park, I’ll keep my distance. It’s the right thing to do.

And with friends and family, I will use the tools of this technological age to keep us connected across the distance we must keep, for now, to hold each other safe.

We are all together in this place of the known and unknown. Of the certain and uncertain. Let’s walk as one voice, one people, one humanity in gratitude, generosity and grace to ensure we survive with our hearts intact, our connections to one another strong, and our planet a place of good health and well-being for all.

Namaste.