Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Critters and other inner beasts

A friend and I are talking about inner discord. “I was surprised to read about your struggle with your internal critter,” she says. “I always think you’ve got everything so together.”

I laughed.

Recognizing and acknowledging my inner critter isn’t about not having things ‘together’, it’s about seeing everything fitting together the way it does, critter and all and accepting it is all essential to the whole of my life.

I don’t judge myself for those inner struggles with the critter, I told my friend. They are imminently human and, because I like to celebrate my human condition, I accept my struggles and celebrate my capacity to move through them — sometimes with grace and ease. Other times kicking and screaming as I pound my fists against the injustices of the world around me. Even when I falter and give into ‘the veg in front of the TV’, I celebrate my process. If I’m going to give myself that space, why not accept with grace my choices?

For me, it is about our human struggle with the need to be perceived, or our need to attain, perfection.

I will be perfect when I know no struggle, we tell ourselves.

My life will be perfect when I know no conflict.

Ain’t gonna happen.

Living life fully involves struggle and conflict. It involves engaging deeply with life, not just skimming its surface in search of the easy, constantly staying on the lookout for quick exits from anything that involves going deeper than the superficial.

Life is a joyful, complicated, messy journey. How we navigate its many byways and detours, how we travel its unknown depths determines the quality of our experience, not the journey itself.

The journey is what the journey is. Somedays, it feels like a walk through the park, every sight and sound a joyous reflection of our peace of mind. Other days, we wonder if we need to go back to bed and get up on the other side. On those days where discord abounds, we get to decide if we fight against it, or lovingly delve into what is happening within to create our angst. It’s always a choice. And it’s always our choice, even on those days when we tell ourselves we have no choice.

Every day, we are the judge, the juror, the architect, the conductor of our experience. Choosing to love ourselves in all our complexities creates space for the journey to be less of a struggle against ourselves and more of an adventure into falling in love with ourselves.

Falling in love with ourselves isn’t about seeing only what we judge to be the beautiful or worthy about ourselves. It’s about accepting all of ourselves, critters and angels, sinners and saints, those parts we deem worthy, those we don’t.

Ultimately, I gotta love all of me ’cause all of me is all I got. Loving all of me means embracing beauty and the beast. Dark and light. Yin and yang. Wounds and wisdom, without wishing I was some other way. If the way I am, the way I am being present in the world is not creating the peace, joy, compassion and love I seek, I get to choose what I do with it – and if I choose to do nothing, then that is the journey I’m on.

Change or stay stuck.

Move or stay put.

My choice.

Seeking perfection is just a way to stay stuck. It lets us off the hook of being 100% accountable for ourselves; our actions, words, thoughts, impact.

A friend told me she was surprised I struggled with my critter.

I laughed.

My critter and I know each other well. I love him in all his angst-driven chaos. Loving him doesn’t mean I give him control of my life. It just means when I recognize his strident calling for me to act out or to ‘get perfect’, I lovingly embrace his fears and pains and let him know, I am perfectly content being present with my perfectly perfect human imperfections.

 

Namaste.

 

 

 


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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?