Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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One community. One voice. One vision for our city.

In the Diary Of Anais Nin Volume 5 1947-1955: Vol. 5 (1947-1955) Nin wrote, “It is a sign of great inner insecurity to be hostile to the unfamiliar.”

Yet, everyday, we resist change, different, new.

Way, way back in the late 70s, I worked for a technology company that built and sold word processors. The goal was to put a system on the desk of every secretary. Even the scientists, the visionaries, the trailblazers missed the mark on that one.  ‘No manager, or lawyer, or doctor, or engineer is going to want a computer on their desk,’ the pundits said. ‘Only secretary’s need them.’

Fast forward 40 years and the ubiquitous laptop appears everywhere, in everyone’s hands, in coffee shops, in accounting rooms and word processing pools, on planes and boats and trains, in libraries and executive offices. The laptop belongs to everyone. It doesn’t care about gender. It’s egalitarian.

When I look back on the changes to views of women, there are so many changes. Hard fought for. Hard won. The right to hold title to land, the vote, the fall of men only clubs and bars and, the word processor.

The word processing system was meant to make a woman’s life easier — the majority of secretary’s were women, and making them work faster, more efficiently, and less repetitively was the goal of getting the systems into the marketplace.

How wrong can we get on where change is leading us?

Which brings me to the point of this post.

When laptops began to take over the desktops of the corporate world, there were many, many executives and professionals of every age who swore they would never use one. Like a lion holding court over its den, there was a certain pride in not having one on your desk, in not knowing how to type.

Now? Knowing how to type is invaluable.  For everyone.

Which leaves me wondering. As voice recognition continues to become ever more effective and decipherable (I love how dictating texts can create such delightful mis-meaning!), will typing become the thing that ‘the older generation’ did? Will it too become a thing of the past like the dusty Underwood typewriter I have finally chosen to let go of as I clear and cull our house?

If instead of thinking about all that I am letting go of, I chose instead to embrace this move with the anticipation of all I am creating room for in our lives, would it be easier to be less hostile and insecure in the changes. In that place, would I be able to joyfully accept the inevitability of change and welcome in its possibilities?

A meandering stream of consciousness this morning as we prepare to put this house on the market and I prepare to greet my day.

The sky is slowly lightening. The world continues to turn as Calgary faces the outcome of another civic election. Not many faces have changed on the mayoral and councillor list. Yet, so much changed throughout the campaign.

I hope as the Mayor and Council get back to the business of running this city, they see the outcome of the election, not as a statement of their need to hold onto what they’ve got, but rather, as an invitation to let go of the bitterness and hostility that bubbled up all over the campaign trail.

In that space of letting go, I hope they find the courage to give into acceptance and forgiveness, courage and possibility. I hope they can feel secure enough to embrace change as together, with all of community, we work to create a great city for everyone. One community. One voice. One vision for our city.

 

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My Daily Intention: Hold Space for Joy

 

As I continue to cull and clear, declutter and pack, in preparation for putting this house on the market, the task can at times feel daunting, overwhelming, never-ending.

Questions arise.

How can two people need/acquire/keep/want so much stuff?

Where does all the stuff come from?

Where does it all go?

Is there not a more simple, grace-filled way to live?

So many questions with countless answers.

Today, I shall live inside each question so that the question becomes the path to where grace leads me into a more simple and elegant way to live.

Today, I shall let the process of decluttering and packing guide me by holding space in my heart for gratitude (for all we have, for all we create, for all we contribute, for all we receive) and joy (for the love, abundance and gifts in our lives) fill my heart.

Namaste.


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A tale of the city.

I am driving down a side road towards the main avenue near our home when I see a man, arms flailing as he stumbles along the sidewalk. He windmills for a moment at the edge where the sidewalk ends and the road begins.

He falls.

I can’t see his fall. There is a parked car blocking my view.

I drive past. See him lying on the pavement.

I pull over. Get out of my car and walk quickly back to where he is lying, face up, on the curbside. He is staring up at the sky. Eyes closed. Arms splayed out at his sides, palms open.

Me:  Are you okay? How can I help you?

He opens his eyes. Looks at me. His eyes are bleary.

Man: I don’t know. I fell.

Me:  Yes. I saw you. Can you move? Do I need to call an ambulance?

Man:  No. No. No ambulance.

Me:  How can I help?

Man:  I was just going for a coffee.

He wants to sit up. I lean over to help him and he moans.

Man: That doesn’t feel good.

He lays back down.

Me:  What’s your name? Mine is Louise.

Man:   Wayne.

He starts to cry.

Me:  Do you live near here Wayne?

Wayne:  Yes. In that building. And he waves one arm towards the apartment building to his right.

His speech is slurred. His words come out in a mumbled stream. I think he has been drinking. A lot.

Wayne:  I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.

Me:  There’s nothing to be sorry about, Wayne. But I do need to call 911. I don’t know how else I can help you.

He nods his head. Up and down. I call.

As I wait for EMS to arrive more cars stop. A couple of men walk over to where I am sitting on the curb, Wayne sprawled out on the road beside me.

They ask what they can do to help. I tell them we are waiting for EMS.

They stay and keep us company. Wayne continues to apologize. He is crying. He tells us he sometimes has seizure.

Me:  Did you have a seizure just now?

Wayne:  Yes.

Me:  Do you have epilepsy Wayne?

Wayne:  No.

I pause and think about my next question. EMS will need to know.

Me:  Does alcohol cause seizures for you Wayne.

He nods his head slowly, once. He keeps crying.

Me:  It’s okay Wayne. Just breathe. Deep slow breaths. EMS will need to know about your seizure and the alcohol. It’s important.

Wayne:  Okay.

He nods his head again. Up and down. His tears keep flowing.

Me:  Are you in pain Wayne?

Wayne:  I don’t know.

Me:  Are you cold?

Wayne:  No.

One of the bystanders offers to get him a blanket.

EMS arrives.

They determine nothing is broken and help Wayne get up and walk him towards their ambulance. “We’ll take over from here,” they say.

I thank the two men who stopped to help.

“Thank you for stopping,” one says. “Not many would.”

“You did,” I reply with a smile and start walking towards my car.

Another man who had stopped his truck across the street and stood with his wife on the sidelines while we waited for EMS approaches me.

“Excuse me,” he says.

I stop and turn back towards him. “Yes?”

“Did you used to work at the Drop-In Centre?” (an adult emergency homeless shelter in the downtown core where I was the Director of Communications for 6 years)

“Yes,” I reply slowly.

“I thought so. I remember you. It’s nice to know there are kind-hearted people in the community,” he adds before wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving. He and his wife return to their truck and drive away.

I walk to my car, get in and drive to the store where I was going when I saw Wayne fall.

I will be late. It is Thanksgiving Day. Our guests will have arrived for dinner and everyone will be wondering where I am.

There were many kind-hearted people out that evening. Two women who came from the condo building on the other side of the street. I asked them to go to the main avenue to wave down the ambulance.

The two men who stood watching over us as I sat on the curb and chatted with Wayne.

And the other’s who stood waiting and watching until EMS arrived.

No one had to wait but in the tale of this city, people care enough to stop and help a stranger helping another human being lying on the side of the road.

I am grateful.


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This is Freedom

In all the things I’ve thought of for which I am grateful, I have never thought about the fact I can vote as one of them.

On Friday, a co-worker from Zimbabwe reminded me of my privilege.

We had a gathering at the end of the day to ‘christen’ our new admin offices into which we’d just moved that week. As we stood in the kitchen chatting I mentioned I’d voted at the Advance Polling Station in City Hall on my way back from a meeting.

RB, after listening to a few of us talk about the election commented on how amazed he is that people actually talk about voting in this country and are not afraid to do so.

“In Zimbabwe you could be killed just for talking about voting. People don’t even wear certain colours for fear they’ll be attacked.”

It surprised me. Shocked me.

Imagine, something we take for granted here is worth killing for in another country.

Last night, as 16 of us gathered around the dining room table for our last Thanksgiving dinner in this house (we are selling it and moving to a new home on the river December 1) we laughed and chatted and at times, the conversation turned political. People espoused their views without fear of repercussion or reprisal. No one worried they’d be ‘reported’ and get sent away or ‘disappeared’.

That is freedom.

After dinner, we went around the table answering the questions I’d slipped inside the placecards I’d made for the dinner.

  • What’s one thing you’re grateful for that happened this past year?
  • What’s one thing you appreciate about the person sitting on your right?
  • Name someone you’re grateful is in your life and tell us why.
  • What do you give thanks for today?
  • Name 3 things about yourself that you are grateful for.
  • If you could thank one historical person, who would it be and what would you thank them for?
  • Name ten things in your life for which you are grateful.
  • Name ten people in your life for whom you are grateful.

As I listened to each person answer the question they’d been given, I was struck by the beauty and richness of everyone around the table. Not just because they gave thoughtful, considerate answers to the questions, but also because they didn’t pooh pooh the idea or make a joke about it — they deep dove into their hearts and shared what was important for them.

To be surrounded by people who care so deeply and fill their hearts and my world with such gratitude is a beautiful gift.

It is also an expression of the freedom I take for granted. As I listened to each guest’s answer and the conversations going on around the table, I realized, I have never had to risk my life to express my opinions, my voting preferences or right to vote because I live in a country where my freedom is something I take for granted.

I am grateful.

May all the world know the same freedom one day.


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude is the foundation of joy. It is the bedrock upon which we build our hearts calling. It awakens us to our natural way of being in the world free of greed, selfishness and self-centeredness. It is our way to hear and acknowledge our deepest yearnings for peace, harmony and grace.

Gratitude opens us up to receiving love. It propels us to step fearlessly into the waters of life untethered to the need to have more, be more, get more.

Gratitude is essential to finding ourselves at home in our hearts.

When I begin my morning with statements of all that I am grateful for… I open myself up to gratitude’s inherent power living within me. In gratitude, I become richer, fuller, more balanced and grounded in every way of my being present.

I am grateful for everyone in my life, those who will share a meal around our dining room table tonight, to our beautiful friends Kerry and Howard who hosted us last night, to my eldest daughter and my son-in-love and their unborn child, to family and friends far and wide, to those of you who come here to visit and read and comment and share your light.

I am grateful.

May you gather together at the millions of tables to be set this weekend and remember the love that binds us is stronger than the differences that separate. May we each be surrounded by family and friends sharing joy, love, laughter and above all thankfulness for the ties that bind so strongly.

Happy Thanksgiving! (Canada!)