Category Archives: possibility thinking

By Golly! I think I’ve got it! My new career.

Day 29 — 30 Day Art Project
Song of Joy

I’ve got it!  My new career! I know exactly what it is.

Seriously. It came to me this morning as I was sitting watching the sun come out from a cloud laden sky and dapple the golden leaves of the trees outside my window and the sun fairies dance on the waters of the river flowing by.

You know how tornado chasers race all over the countryside in search of winds to follow and photograph, to document and capture?

Well, I’ve decided my new career will be kind of like that… but not really.

I’ve decided to become… A Rainbow Chaser!

Okay. so it’s not really a well-known or probably even a ‘real’ career that will earn me a gazillion dollars but, hey, if it brings me joy, Why not do it? And anyway, who’s to say my donning the mantle of Rainbow Chaser won’t make it ‘go viral’ and all that jazzy stuff that happens when something someone does captures the imagination and whims of others?

Why Rainbow Chaser?

Because I can.

Because who doesn’t love rainbows?  And heck. The world is filled with them! They’re universal. They’re magical. And they always appear after the rain when the sun comes out and sparkles through the light.

Me, I love rainbows and after several days of wallowing in the dark  matter of the icky stuff that sometimes clogs the free-flowin’ style of my living life on the outside of my comfort zone, chasing rainbows is so much better than living under the dark cloud of my own unease.

See, sometimes I get stuck in the story I am telling myself about why I am not wanted, not needed, not welcome on this journey called life.

Sometimes, I believe my own critics who troll the avenues of my mind, seeking out weak spots on the edges of my limiting beliefs and the fears tucked away in hidden alcoves where the sun don’t shine.

And here’s the thing, I figure as a Rainbow Chaser, I’ll be dancing in the rain and the sun because everyone knows, rainbows are always waiting in the wings for their star appearance after the rain.

To be in the right place to capture the rainbow, I gotta be willing to stand in the rain knowing the sun is still shining behind grey clouds. I gotta hold onto my belief that if I breathe deeply enough, the wind’s of time, supported by a whole lot of Love, will blow those grey clouds away and the sun, along with its beautiful sparkling light-lit rainbow, will appear.

And then, another question popped into my head like a gopher on Ground Hog day popping out of his hole.

Are there rainbows in the night? Do they appear by moonlight after the rain has passed but we never see them because we’re sound asleep waiting for the sun to rise?

Oh boy! My Rainbow Chasing career is off to a good start.

A deep question to dive into and explore. Because, seriously, if I’m sleeping through the dark, how will I know when the sun has risen? What if, I choose to let rainbows and moonbeams cast away the dark and create a world of joy. A world, my heart can really sing about!

Yup. Rainbow Chaser, the career of dreams and flights of fancy.  A career worth dancing in the rain for and singing out loud my song of joy.

Not bad for a day that started under gloomy skies!

Now that I’ve got my eyes wide open and my heart a beatin’, I’ll see ya’ll later.

I’m off chasing rainbows, and fairy dancers and sunburst making daydreams worth chasing! And maybe, when the sun sets, I’ll go chasing moonbeams and starlit staircases leading up into the glittering beauty of a beguiling night sky strewn with a gazillion diamonds — cause the more I think about it, the more I’m thinkin’ there are rainbows in the night —  diamonds cast ’em when they capture the light just so… Why wouldn’t the stars?

Ain’t life a wonder?

The Exquisite Unknowing

It is the exquisite beauty and angst of this journey called life. So much is unknowable. When you name ‘the something’ you think you know, it is changed and you begin again the quest to know that which is unknowable.

And still, we try to know it, name it, place it. To hold it fast. To let it go.

Like the silence. It is unknowable and immune to our entreaties for certainty we exist within the silence, that we will be heard within its deep embrace.

These thoughts come to me this morning as Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I wander the woods that line the river where he likes to play.

Autumn’s golden hues are sprinkled amidst the still green leaves of summer. The air is fresh. The river cold.

Yesterday I walked these same paths. They were different then. I could not know what I would experience today. Today was unknowable to me yesterday and anything I think I know today, will be different tomorrow.

I could not know the experience of ‘retirement’ until I entered into it. It is different than I imagined. Filled with the mystery and wonder that arises within me as I journey deeper into its unknowning. Filled with feelings I had never experienced and could not conveive of until I entered its sacred space.

In its complexity lies its simplicity, the paradox of change and growth. What was becomes different, filled with what was and the what wasn’t known before. And as soon as I name it, it becomes unknowable again for in the naming what I believe I know, I create space for all I do not know to enter.

What do I not know cannot be answered with words. It must be experienced, felt, rested within for it to become part of my being who I am when I let go of believing I know everything there is to know about me, myself and I.

We are all the magician and the performer, conjuring up stories we tell to make sense of who we are in a world of mystery. Steeped in the dichotomy of being unknowable from the outside in. With every surrender of knowing what we believe to be true about ourselves, we journey deeper into the mystery of being our true selves in the unfathomable mystery of life.

In embracing our journey as not being defined by who we think we are, we discover the exquisite unknowing of all we thought we knew about our true selves. In wonder and awe of all we do not know, we discover we truly are magnificent.

I had a wonder-filled wander with Beaumont this morning.

I am grateful for the unfolding of my unknowing.

May we each fall into the joy of unknowing who we think we are to discover how magnificent we truly are.

Namaste.

 

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The Age of Grace

 

I am sitting in meditation when a question slips into my mind as effortlessly as a leaf falling to the ground, ” I wonder if a rose resents its petals for losing their bloom?”  Or the tree for that matter. Does it resent the leaf for dying and falling?

I am getting older. I know. Amazing right? But wait. So are you. We all are. It is the inevitable drawing of time that began when this sacred journey of our life was first conceived.

And the fact is, while I may sometimes look askance at the evidence of time’s weathered marks etched into my skin, resenting it is like the tree resenting the falling leaf.

It makes no difference to the leaf (nor to time for that matter) how the tree experience’s its fall. Just as it makes no difference to ‘life’ how I weather my journey. It does, however, make a significant difference to me and my experience of life, how I navigate the inevitability of aging.

Holding myself in a sea of resentment at all I tell myself I’ve lost, I lose precious time to sing and dance, laugh and play, create and learn, Love and be loved.

Holding myself in joyful acceptance of all I learn and experience with every passing moment, I gift myself time to live joyfully with grace in this moment right now, dancing and laughing, spinning about, leaping for joy and embracing all of life’s wondrous gifts at every state of my journey.

Sitting at my desk right now, looking out the window at the trees that line the river, I watch a golden leaf release its hold on a tiny branch and drift slowly to the ground.

It does not rush. It does not plummet. It dirfts, effortlessly, enraptured by its timeless dance with gravity and air. Light. Joyful. Grace in motion.

The leaf will fall. The seasons will turn. Time will pass. Life will continue to evolve and each of us will continue to age until all that is left are the memories we leave behind and the Love we knew, the Love we shared, the Love we embraced.

We come into this world through an act of Love. All we can carry with us when we leave is Love and all we can leave behind is Love.

How we fill in the pieces between the Love is up to each of us.

It’s my choice whether I fall through time resisting gravity’s pull, or let gravity hold me in its loving embrace as I fall through time joyfully dancing in a sea of grace.

 

Namaste.

 

 

 

The Darkness and The Light

When I was a little girl I remember my mother being very sad. My father was away a lot and she was far from her motherland.

Her first language was French. She was used to heat and sun, to servants taking care of everything, to living a carefree life surrounded by family, the sounds and smells of India where she was born and raised and the Catholic faith that had filled her life with meaning.

And there she was, no family to support her, raising four children mostly on her own, ill prepared for the loneliness and coldness of a Canadian winter and the harshness of the landscape. All she had to cling to was her faith, and in that she felt God had foresaken her to this foreign land so far from home. She was lost.

My mother seldom yelled or screamed. One of her favourite sayings was, “If you can’t say it in a whisper, don’t say it at all.”  She did cry. A lot. Sometimes, when she was really desperate, she’d hold a knife to her breast and threaten to kill herself.

I remember as a five-year-old standing in front of her, confused, terrified, not understanding what was happening. I learned to smile through her pain. To never show I was afraid. To never acknowledge my fear. Somehow, the knife was always put back in the kitchen drawer and life would go on. I still struggle to let go of smiling when I’m in pain.

My mother’s mental health overshadowed all our lives. We became accustomed to her mood swings, her habit of crying while making supper and ironing my father’s shirts, her seemingly irrational fears and her constant caution to ‘be careful’.

As a teen, I began to resent my mother’s tears, her constant sadness, and what I deemed her unending criticism of me and my life. I could never do things right enough for my mother. I was always causing trouble she would tell me before asking, “Why can’t you be like the others?”

My mother’s journey through life has been constantly overshadowed by her mental health. She is 97 now. She finally got help in her 80s. That’s a long time to live in the darkness before finding the peace of heart and mind she’s always sought.

I no longer resent my mother and even though she’d often ask why I hated her so, I never hated her. I just never understood her. And the truth is, I always loved her. She gave me the gift of my life, and many other gifts too.

Because of her mental health, I learned to differentiate between ‘the person’ and the behaviour.  The person is ‘the person’. I can love the person. I do not have to love their behaviour. Behaviour can change. As an adult, I had to change mine so that I could let go of my anger and find peace in my relationship with my mother.

Albeit awkwardly at times and sometimes not soon enough or steadfast enough, my relationship with my mother taught me that I needed to set boundaries. In my 60s now, I still struggle with this one, but I’m getting better.

I learned that seeking help is important. I first started seeing a therapist in my 20s. I had to. I thought I was ‘the crazy one’. I thought my mother’s sadness and tears were all about me. And while I no longer have my therapist on speed dial, I know when the darkness clouds my thoughts, it’s time to call to get some light.

I learned my behaviour, who I am, is all about me. I am the only person I can work on and I am deserving of my loving care and attention.

I learned that I can’t change what is happening in another person’s mind. I didn’t create it. I can’t cure it.

I learned that I’ve got to take care of my mental health first.. I can’t do the work for another, but when my mind is clear, I am not at risk of climbing into the darkness with them and can hold the light steady as they find heir way out of the darkness into life.

And I learned it is not helpful nor healthy to defend against what someone is saying or doing when they are lost in the darkness. Loving them is and I can choose to always keep loving them, though sometimes I must do it from a distance to keep myself safe from the darkness.

All these things I learned from my mother and her journey.

The darkness is real. So is the light. The light is more powerful than darkness because when you stand in the light, you can see where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going.

In the darkness, all you can see is that there is no light.

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According to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, today in Canada 10 people will end their lives by suicide; up to 200 others will attempt so.

For each death by suicide, between 7 and 10 survivors are profoundly affected. Today in Canada, suicide will leave up to 100 people in a state of bereavement. Latest research shows there were 3,926 suicides in the year 2016 in this country. In 2015, over 3,396,000 Canadians aged 12 and over had suicidal thoughts.

Tuesday, September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day. Let’s all stand in the light together.

 

The Eagle Soars (Day 22 – 30 Day Art Project) Haiku #6

Day 22 – 30 Day Art Project. Mixed Media on Canvas Paper; 11 x 14″. Haiku #6

“Once there was an eagle who thought he was a chicken. Left at birth in a chicken coop, all he knew was how to peck at the dirt, scrabble for grub and walk around strutting his stuff like he was the best dang chicken in the yard.

And he was, until one day an eagle spied him from on high and wondered, “Why is that eagle acting like a chicken?”

Wanting to find the answer, the eagle swooped down and landed in front of the eagle who thought he was a chicken.

All the chickens in the yard were terrified. They raced to the coop, slammed the door and hid inside.

Not the eagle who thought he was a chicken. He was the best dang chicken in that yard and he could stand up to an eagle. And that’s what he told the eagle.

“You don’t scare me. I’m the best dang chicken around. You don’t belong here.”

The eagle was surprised. “You don’t belong here either,” he said. “You’re an eagle. Your wings are designed to soar high.”

The eagle who thought he was a chicken stuttered and spewed. “I am not an eagle. I am a chicken!”  He stomped his great eagle talons in the dirt and threw back his head to show off his mighty eagle beak.

“Ummm…. I don’t think so,” replied the eagle who knew what he was talking about. “Let me prove to you that you’re an eagle. Come, take one flight with me and you’ll know the truth.”

The eagle who thought he was a chicken thought a moment before answering.

“Ok,” he said. “I’ll fly with you but first, you have to let me go to the coop and say good-bye to my family. They will be worried about me if I’m gone too long.”

The other eagle was standing between him and the chicken coop and that’s where safety lay. In the coop.

“Sure thing,” said the eagle who knew what he was talking about as he stepped aside to let the eagle who thought he was a chicken pass. “I’ll wait right here.”

And with that, the eagle who thought he was a chicken raced to the chicken coop. Flung the door open, entered its dark confines, slammed the door shut and exhaled a sigh of relief.

“See!” he said to the wide eyes chickens he called his family. “I am not only the best dang chicken in this coop… I’m the smartest. I just outsmarted that eagle!”

And all the chickens praised him for being such a smart chicken because through their chicken eyes, they truly could not see he was an eagle born to soar on high.

Every heart needs a home, and every person needs to have a place to belong.

Sometimes, we mistake where we’re at as that place. Sometimes, we confuse our titles, our degrees and accomplishments, our belongings, talents and accolades and our origin story, as our place of belonging.

Belonging comes from within. It is the knowing that, as Maya Angelou described it:

“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.”

It is the dichotomy of belonging. We yearn to be or do or have something that will quell the fear within that we don’t fit in anywhere. Propelled by our fear, we adapt ourselves to suit the world around us to fit in somewhere. And in our adaptations, we lose the one place we truly belong, within our hearts, true to our own self — which leaves us nowhere out there to belong, other than everywhere, or as Brene Brown writes in Braving the Wilderness:

“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

You can clip an eagle’s wings so it cannot soar.

You can dim your own light so you will not shine.

Whether you hide out in the chicken coop of your thinking you don’t fit in or fit in where you don’t belong, or strut your stuff believing you’re a rock star because nobody can see how scared you are of shining your light, you cannot belong anywhere without first belonging to yourself.

Your answer does not come from ‘out there’. It comes from and lives always within the sanctuary of your being at home with being true to your beautiful, magnificent, brilliant self, fearlessly breathing life into the sacredness of being who you are, always.

Namaste

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A note on the eagle story — I heard this story years ago in a video of Eldon Taylor. It’s one of my favourites.

What will your story be today?

I haven’t found it yet.

Not after cleaning and clearing out the back half of the basement and organizing my art supplies.

The Reading Corner

Not after clearing out the far corner of our bedroom (the reading corner) and organizing books and papers, clothes and paraphenalia.

Not after reorganizing the entire kitchen, culling dead spices and aged out dry goods.

And not after purposefully not filling my calendar with coffee dates and wine encounters.

I still haven’t found it.

My rhythm in the post-retired in the process of rejuvenation life.

And yes, I know. It’s only been seven weeks, four of which I spent away. But still… throughout my working life, my days were prescribed by the known of my routine; dependable, predictable regardless of unexpected happenings, crises and daily demands.

I feel adrift. Cast-away. Free-falling through time.

In the dissonance of my discomfort, I struggle against the flow and search for meaning in my life even in the presence of knowing, there is no need to search for meaning. The meaning is present when I am present in my life.

Ahhh. The ennui of taking myself too seriously!

Yesterday, Bernie at Equipose Life wrote about her search for her rhythm and I had to smile. I’d been wondering about the very same question since getting back from my month long trip and had been planning on writing/meditating on it today. Once coaching at Choices Seminars was over, I had this wide open playing field, and I was struggling to stay calm in the center of my life.

I think I’ve forgotten how to play in unscripted, unmarked spaces. To simply be in the moment of being rather than the rush of doing.

It’s possible I’ve spent decades forgetting.

And now, in the sudden onslaught of unscheduled time, I am peering too far into the future searching for some glimmer of what happens next.

I close my eyes and breathe deeply.

Patience grasshopper. Patience.

There is lots of time to figure out the future. There’s no other time than now to be present in today.

I take another breath, and the wise woman within whispers to my heart. “It’s okay. This unease will pass. Open your heart and bring your sights closer to home. Step lovingly into the space you’re in. Do not criticize yourself for feeling unease. Celebrate your willingness to be in its presence. And now, let go of looking into tomorrow. Today is calling.”

I open my eyes and smile. I am worrying about an unknown future when today is calling me to be present to its many gifts.

Outside my window the river flows past, the wind whispers through the leaves that line the bank. Through their filigree canopy I see the azure sky stretching out to the horizon.

I am in a land of new horizons. To be free of ‘what was’, I must stretch out of my comfort zone, lengthen the familiar muscles like the sky stretching out to the horizon and become present to ‘what is’.

Arms free, heart open I breathe into the possibilities, the joy, the wonder of being here right now. I slip into the river of possibility where life is inviting me to get into the flow of a new rhythm. When I quit figthing its pull, it will find me.

There is no need for me to crowd my time with a list of ‘important things to do’ or to worry about a yet to unfold future. Tomorrow will arrive soon enough.

I breathe into being present in my life right now. I open my heart and mind and greet the day. Life greets me back with its alluring invitation to release my fear and step into the flow of a new way of being in this world of wonder and possibility.

Namaste

What do women (of a certain age) want?

I am female. I am a baby-boomer. I am a senior. Which, according to current vernacular places me somewhere in the vicinity of ‘a woman of a certain age’, a term coined by a British essayist way back in 1754 and later immortalized by poet Lord Shelly Byron who wrote in 1817, “She was not old, nor young, nor at the years/Which certain people call a certain age,/Which yet the most uncertain age appears.” In 1822, he clarified his reference to women of “a certain age”, by crudely stating that women of a certain age were, “certainly aged.”

Lord Byron aside, recently, as I prepared to retire from a career I loved to engage in this new field of possibility called, life after a career, I began to wonder, what does it mean to be a woman of this certain age? What do I really want now that it feels like nobody really wants me?

After decades of chasing after the dream of ‘having it all’, I was tired of always trying to be everything to everyone. Of feeling like I had to do more, especially as I was never sure of what the ‘more’ was. I had raised two daughters, mostly on my own, and was a step-mother to two adult children as well. I’m still all of these things, but, along with being a wife, a new grandmother (or YiaYa as I’m called because I’m cutting back on the No’s in my life so NoNa or NoNo didn’t work!) daughter of an octogenarian and a recent passing over the threshold into what society calls, ‘being a senior’ I was tired. Tired of the constant drive to find myself in a world that told me who I was, as a ‘woman of a certain age’, was old and possibly no longer relevant.

And that’s when I began to wonder, what if I was never lost? What if, at this certain age, I have the luxury of simply being me without feeling pressured to be anyone, or anything, else?

Which is when the panic set in. Having spent decades being defined by not just the fashion I wore but also what I did in the world and how much I gave to others, I wasn’t sure I knew how to step out of my designer heels and give to myself what I needed most. Especially when I wasn’t quite sure what it was I needed the most.

The question, “What is it I want most at this certain age?” became my rallying cry to discover the more of what there is to create, do, be after tipping over into the other side of the second half of my life. That place where I am learning to value the wisdom I’ve gained after so many years on this earth, without fearing ‘the younger generation’ has all the answers. They’ve got their answers but they don’t have mine. And mine are worth their weight in gold.

At this certain age, I am settling into accepting aches and pains and crêpe-like skin as part of my beauty, not detractors from my desirability. I am learning to slow down with grace, including remembering to not bend over too quickly to pick up the earring I dropped because if I go too quickly, I might just pass out.

And I am learning to accept (with grace) the answer to my question, “What is it I want most at  this certain age?” is not a sprint to the finish line of my life, but rather, a beautiful wandering journey through fields of gold along the shores of golden ponds and verdant valleys.

I am a woman of this certain age where I have the wisdom, and the experience, to know how to live life on my own terms. I know how to fearlessly and effortlessly fall in love with being old enough to know when to slow down and young enough to want to kick up my heels and dance naked in the light of a full moon, because at this certain age, I am certain nobody’s watching but me. And I if I am the only one watching me, then I am certainly not going to worry about what other’s think of me. Which means, I have all the freedom in the world to grow more certain of who I am as a woman of this certain age.

So… as I continue to explore what I want most at this certain age, I have an invitation for you. If you relate in any way, or are asking yourself similar questions, I’d love to know what you want most at this certain age. And what you don’t want.

For me, the list includes wanting to feel like my life has had meaning and relevancy. Like there is still –more’ and the more is not prescribed by what I’ve done in the past, but rather, how much I still have to contribute.

I want to feel like it’s okay to grow older without fearing being old.

I want to know my wisdom matters. That I am heard, seen known for my grace, elegance and style, not just the clothes I wear and the title I no longer carry.

I want to be okay with being silly, just because, and I want to be ‘nothing’ other than who I am.

I want to let go of feeling like I have to explain or defend my decisions.

And I want to be okay with the past and its many ambiguities so that I am at peace today, with me, the world around me and everyone in it.

I want to make peace happen.

What about you?

What’s on your list?

I’d love to hear from you. If you don’t feel like posting here, an email would be great too! You can reach me at louise [at] louisegallagher.ca.

Namaste.