Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Do you tell stories that paint you as the victim?

Have you ever had an encounter with someone and throughout it all, found yourself listening more to the voice in your head telling you stories about what’s really going on rather than really listening to their words as spoken?

If you’re human, it’s inevitable.

We all do it.

Create stories in our heads about ‘the other’ even though the story isn’t based on ‘the now’ of who you’re interacting with or what’s really going on.

Let me give you an example.

If there’s one thing my beloved does that is almost always guaranteed to get my ire, it’s not call when he says he will. Now, I know my beloved. He is trustworthy. Honest. Kind. He’s also a single-minded extrovert who loves to be social. When out with others, whether a meeting or socially, he becomes so engrossed in whatever is happening he totally forgets the time and my need to be reassured he’s okay. (which isn’t necessarily healthy btw).

His single-mindedness is a fabulous trait when you’re the one with him. Not so great when you’re me, sitting at home, waiting for his call.

But here’s the thing. I know all of this about him. I know he’s not off doing nefarious deeds yet still my mind can go into overdrive, making up stories about how he is soooo inconsiderate, soooo thoughtless and, if I’m not carefully monitoring my thoughts and reining them in, how he can’t be trusted.

Even though none of that is true. The critter inside my head wants me to believe it is.

If I haven’t had a good talking with myself, when C.C. gets home, it isn’t pretty. I’m fussed and angry because my story-making has convinced me he’s wrong. I’m right.

Now, calling people when we say we will is a good thing to do. But my ire isn’t based on the here and now of who C.C. is and what I know to be true about him (he does get super-engrossed in where he’s at).

My story-making is based on past experience. It’s based on a time when I couldn’t trust someone. When they constantly lied about where they were, what they were doing, even to the point they lied about who they were doing it with and who they really were.

Because of that experience I have a fear-based belief inside me that says something like, “All men can’t be trusted.”

Not true. But if I’m not being conscious, if I’m giving in to my fears, that belief becomes the lens through which I see my beloved.

Now, I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy getting clean on that belief. I’ve delved into its roots and lovingly pulled them out to expose the fertile soil of possibility buried beneath them to the sunshine of my truth, “I am a trusting woman”. I am capable of making conscious choices to believe in myself, my capacity to discern and my ability to take care of myself. I am able to trust the trustworthy and recognize the difference between burying my head in the sand and standing tall in the light of Love.

Yet still, there are moments when I give into the darkness of the past and find myself making up stories that do not serve me well, nor C.C. Still, I am guilty of falling back into self-defeating behaviours that undermine the love and trust upon which we’ve built our relationship.

Getting clean on my story-telling means asking myself two really simple questions — and answering them honestly.

Is what I’m telling myself creating ‘we’ or is it setting us up with ‘me the victim/he the wrong-doer’?

And…

Is what I’m telling myself about him (or anyone else) an excuse for me to avoid facing something I’d rather not deal with in myself?

.See, when we’re telling stories about ‘the other’, we’re generally avoiding getting clean with the real story about ‘what’s up with me in all of that?’.

When I’m looking at C.C. (or anyone else) as the cause of my dis-orderly thinking, I’m not being present in the here and now with my thoughts, words, actions. When I paint myself as the victim, I create a world of discord and disorder.

And yes, before you jump on the obvious, it is a good idea for someone to call when they say they will.

Not calling however, is not a criminal offence that needs to be dealt with through harsh words and accusations, especially when ‘the offender’ isn’t doing it maliciously.

Bottom-line, my words and actions aren’t about ‘the other’. They’re about me. Everyone is responsible for dealing with they’re own stuff. When I’m dealing with mine by making someone else ‘the problem’, I’ve got the problem.

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I’m reading Judith E. Glaser’s fascinating book, Conversational Intelligence – How great leaders build trust and get extraordinary results. It’s what inspired my thinking about the stories I tell myself when I want to play the victim.

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The hero in you and me.

November 16 & 17

It was a day for heroes to share their stories. It was a day for heroes to share their light.

Yesterday, we held the second annual Circles of Hope. Over 100 people gathered to talk about why everyone needs a hero. And, why each of us needs to tap into the hero within to create a world where heroic deeds become everyday.

There were so many moments that stood out for me throughout the day.

Steve Wrigglesworth, Principle of CD Gunn Elementary school who say they ask children when they enter the school, “are you hungry?”, “are you tired?”  and then, they address those issues first before expecting a child to learn their A,B,C’s.

And Tap, who courageous shared her own story of reconciliation and the pride she now feels in embracing her Indigenous woman-self.

Dr. Allan Donsky had everyone riveted with her stories of how the brain works and why values and beliefs, and becoming our true hero within is so important. Quoting Joesph Campbell and Carl Jung, he gave everyone inspiration to do what we must to become heroes. “We don’t find ourselves,” he said. “We create ourselves.”

Sarah Austen, CEO of the Sheldon Kennedy Children’s Advocacy Centre became the hero of pretty well everyone in the room. We must stay open-hearted to the suffering of the children, she said because “we must look after each other’s children.”

And the day continued with inspiring words and vulnerable moments that left each of us feeling connected, like this is where we belong.

and when it was over, we sat in a circle and drummed thanks to Julien and his amazing Circles of Rhythm who once again joined in our circle to create space for our hearts to beat as one.

It was a day well-spent. a day to learn and grow and gain understanding and wisdom. As Garrett Smith, Activist and Founder of Camp Mohkhinstsis said, “Racism means we don’t understand. It means we just don’t know eachother yet.”

Over 100 people got to know the heroes in our midst yesterday. They got to see the hero within themselves.

One of the performers yesterday was a Connie Jakab and Movement with a Message. Their powerful hip-hop and story-telling created a sense of community, connectedness and awakening.

they have a performance in Calgary, Rewritten, November 16, 17.  If you’re in the city, you won’t want to miss this powerful troupe and their incredible story-telling that touches hearts and awakens minds to possibility and our capacity to be heroes.


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The time to get things done is now.

We had a date day yesterday. Breakfast in bed. Walk with Beaumont and then…We were on a mission (or I guess I should say, I was on a mission and C.C. decided he’d better join in if he wanted marital harmony to prevail!).

Since moving into our new home in March of this year, our bedroom has waited for us to focus on making it more livable and aesthetically pleasing. There were wicker baskets with books, a desk piled with papers and other knickknacks sitting in a box in the corner.

It was not a pleasing space. And I like pleasing spaces.

C.C. and I are challenged sometimes on what we think makes sense in a space. We go back and forth until I finally get to a place where “I can’t take it anymore. We’ve got to do something.”

Yesterday, that ‘do something’ included a trip to Ikea. An hour later, three boxes of wood and parts loaded into the back of my vehicle and we were set to tackle getting books and ‘stuff’ out of boxes and off the floor.

I have long thought that putting Ikea furniture together is also a relationship building test. Can you or can’t you get all the pieces in the right places and not have an argument? What happens when one person doesn’t intuitively know right from left and puts the left piece on the right? Will the other partner lose their cool? Will one person say not so nice things when the other drops a shelf on their foot or will they realize it was an accident and forgive easily?

Fortunately, C.C. and I passed the test with nary an awkward moment or unfortunate word!

After a few missteps with the first of three bookcases we bought, the other two went together lickety-split.

In total, the whole building process took 2.5 hours.

The decluttering and organizing and putting away… many more.

But by 8pm, I was done.

And now, I feel much better.

I think that’s the thing about getting a job done that’s been staring you in the face for awhile. Once it’s over you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Because in the aftermath of completion, the satisfaction of having done something that has been causing fissures of unease for awhile, is significant. And with ‘a job well done’, there’s more peace of mind. Or as C.C. likes to say, “More time for Louise to think up other chores for us to do!”  🙂

Not really… but… we do have to do something with the TV room downstairs. And then… there’s my studio. We’re still waiting for our contractor to have time to come back and begin the build-out process.

Oh, and there’s the garage.

We got a job done this weekend that was waiting for us to complete.

It’s one of several jobs that needed doing around our home, but at least this one’s off the list. We also got the eaves-troughs cleaned out of all the autumn leaves – we didn’t do that one ourselves but C.C. did organize for Darwin, our handyman, to come and get it done!  Another task checked off the list.

Now to figure out a way to convince C.C. it’s time to tackle the rest of the list.

Wish me luck.

While working together on getting tasks done doesn’t test our relationship, my desire to ‘get it done now’ sometimes collides with C.C.’s desire to take his time getting things done. For some reason my suggestion he’s procrastinating and putting it off until tomorrow doesn’t create harmony in our relationship. Go figure!

 

 

 


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Sharing is Caring – Will you share and make a difference?

I don’t know her name. Have never met her. Don’t know what suite was hers at Washington Court, but still her story breaks my heart.

I only know a little of her story because my daughter, Alexis who also lived at Washington Court with her husband and 8-month old son, was home when the fire broke out at 9:30 am on Thursday, Oct 4th.

She ran from the building with her son in her arms and stood together with her neighbour on the sidewalk outside, listening to the loud roar of the sirens as firetruck after firetruck arrived to put out the four alarm fire.

They didn’t talk much. to speak in the face of so much unknown and fear was not easy. And so they stood together with their neighbours, watching and praying and hoping it wouldn’t be as bad as it was.

But it was. Bad. Worse even then they imagined.

On the Friday night after the October 4th fire destroyed so many homes, the owner’s representative held a townhall meeting of all tenants in the 44 unit building.

“The building is uninhabitable,” he told them. “As of right now you are all evicted. You’ll have to find somewhere else to live.”

For this woman of 80 some years of age, the information was inconceivable. Confused, she put up her hand and asked, “But I’ll be able to go back to my apartment won’t I?”

When Alexis saw her face crumble at the representative’s negative response she told me she felt her heart break.

I understand. Thinking of that woman brings tears to my eyes even as I write.

On Monday Alexis called me crying. “I am so angry and frustrated,” she said. “And sad. I just found out that woman has been living in a homeless shelter on East Hastings.”

That is not a good thing. Not a good area of Vancouver for an older woman who for thirty years lived in the same suite, in the same building, in the same neighbourhood, walked the same streets to go to the same grocery store and drycleaners, flower shop and more.

E. Hastings is a challenging address. Not a place to call home.

Alexis got to work. She called a friend who is on the advisory council for the GoFundMe campaign they have organized for tenants who need assistance and her friend L. got to work. Within a couple of hours they’d located the woman’s case manager and are now in contact to offer the woman what assistance they can.

Over the past 12 days Alexis and her team have been contacting media, movers, dry-cleaners, storage companies, anyone they can think of, to ask for help. Are they willing to give them discounts?  Help move? Provide packing materials?

They’ve fielded countless calls from people offering clothing, furniture, whatever support they can, and they’ve listened as their neighbours cried and told them of their losses, shared their fears and sadness. They’ve helped them face the abyss with care and compassion.

It has been a daunting task. And still Alexis and her team keep reaching out, keep trying to do whatever they can to support those who lost everything in the fire.

To say I am impressed by my daughter is an understatement. I am in awe.

So many people have reached out to offer help, financial and other resources.

And still, it’s not enough.

The fire is out. The damage is being assessed. The cause not yet officially released. 10 units were completely destroyed. 44 units uninhabitable. Over 80 people displaced.

Lives move on. Rebuilding starts. My daughter and family have found a new place to live beginning next month. Others, who have the resources and resiliency necessary to undertake such a task in such dire circumstances, have done the same.

Financial assistance is vital for those more vulnerable to such a crisis. One dollar goes a long way, five more and so on.

And this is where you come in. Not to donate money (though that would be lovely). What the Thurlow Street Fire Relief GoFundMe Campaign needs is more awareness. More sharing.

It only takes a moment but if you would please share on all your social media platforms you will be making a big difference.  You can click on the link above and share, or the photo below. Both will take you to the page. Wouldn’t it be amazing to get the shares up to 500 this week?  What a difference we could make!

The Thurlow Street Fire Relief GoFundMe Campaign needs all of us.

Thank you for taking a moment to make a difference in a stranger’s life. We may all be strangers but our stories connect us, our humanity binds us to one another and when we support one another in whatever way we can, we are stronger together.

 


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#WestJet Rules are meant to be broken.

We were supposed to fly home today.

And then we weren’t.

Last night when C.C. went to check-in online, we realized our mistake. Our tickets aren’t for today. They’re for tomorrow!

A hasty phone call to WestJet to try to remedy our mistake reveals, airline rules are rigid. Mistakes are costly.

Doesn’t matter that there’s room on the flight today.  The only way to remedy the situation is to cancel our original flights ($100 cancellation fee) and pay an extra $1,000 for two one-way tickets home.

I’d rather put that money towards something more meaningful than an airline’s bottom-line and rigid adherence to rules that don’t make sense.

Phone calls made. Meetings rescheduled. We will take our original flights home. Thankfully, our hosts are gracious and insist we stay here for another day. And more gratitude, our friends who are looking after Beaumont the Sheepadoodle are equally as gracious.

I am grateful for amazing friendships that are flexible enough to bend with our mistakes.

And I’m grateful for laughter. Because in the face of a mistake, what else can I do? (Our travel arrangements this trip have proven to be a great source of laughter thanks to my beloved’s creative route-making.)

Beneath the laughter is curiosity.

What I’m curious about is an airline’s intransigence when relaxing their rules could result in goodwill and happy customers.

It’s funny, in the WestJet of old, I remember a similar occurrence, except in that case, I thought my flight was the day after it actually was. I got to the check-in desk only to be informed I’d missed my flight. The attendant graciously booked me on the same flight that day. I think it cost me all of an extra $50.

Rules. We hang onto them, hang our hats on them and while the saying goes, ‘rules keep us safe’, sometimes, rules can be the roadblock to creative responses to situations where, a little relaxing of the rules would make the world of difference to others without costing you a penny.

I get it.

We made the mistake that put us on a flight a day later than we’d intended.

But what I don’t get is how in the name of profit, an airline chooses to hold fast to rules that do not engender good will, even when to do otherwise would be a simple matter of a couple of keystrokes and the problem would be solved.

The skies may be friendly but those who fill silver bullets with paying customers and send them up into the skies, are not.

Namaste.

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In the spirit of gratitude, I am sharing photos of my morning walk and the breath-taking beauty which surrounds me. There are a lot worse things than being here — we could be flying back today to the snow in Calgary. Maybe by tomorrow night when we get home it will all be gone!

 

 


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I am grateful for those who make it possible to run away from danger

Gratitude fills my heart. It permeates my being creating a sense of peace, contentment, joy.

I am grateful.

We are in Eastern Canada this week vising friends. Autumn leaves are falling, golden, red and bronzed. The lake is calm, its surface mirroring the beauty of the forest lining its shore.

Last night, we sat around a long table decorated with Thanksgiving flare and shared a meal, toasted one another and talked about the things for which we are grateful. The conversation was laden with stories and laughter. It was a communal dinner, everyone bringing something to the table.

It was Thanksgiving at its best.

Five year old Eli shared that he was thankful for Cranberry Sauce. I think he was also very grateful for the laughter his comment evoked.

From friendship to family, good health, travels, wives and husbands, children and grandchildren, we all talked about the people who make our lives rich, vibrant, meaningful.

This year, the gratitude in my heart has grown beyond my comprehension.

This is the first year Thurlow, our 8 month old grandson,  is in our lives. And while we are not sitting at the table with Thurlow and my daughter and son-in-love in our midst I am grateful that he is in our lives and that they have a table around which to sit with family and friends this Thanksgiving on the other side of the country.

Yesterday, as I sat around the candlelit table and watched the faces of our friends as they shared their stories of gratitude and love, I remembered other Thanksgiving dinners, other tables around which I have sat. I felt my heart smile.

This is what makes my life so rich. People I love. Listening to their stories. Hearing of their adventures in the world. Of their family and friends in other places.

At one point my youngest daughter called from my sister’s home in Calgary where they too were sharing a Thanksgiving feast with family and friends. My mother was there, a tiny 96 year old woman who gave this story of my life its roots.

Earlier, I chatted with my eldest daughter in Vancouver. They are now staying with his mother and step-father for awhile. Their next abode uncertain. Last week a fire destroyed the apartment building in which they lived in downtown Vancouver. On Friday evening they learned it was deemed uninhabitable.

Heartbreaking news in a city where the cost of housing is sky-rocketing.

Her confidence and determination, her desire to help those who lost everything in the fire reminded me of the power of our human spirit to endure. To persevere. To overcome hardship.

Aside from some smoke damage, their belongings survived the fire. Others in the building did not.

When it was my turn to share the things for which I am grateful, I talked about my family, friends, loved ones all. But the thing I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving are the First Responders. Those women and men who run into danger as we run away. Those women and men who respond to our need for safety, help, healing.

When my daughter ran out of her building with her son on Thursday morning, she flagged down a police officer driving by. She yelled, “There’s a fire in our building.”

Without hesitation, he stopped his car, jumped out, grabbed her fob for the front door of the building and ran in to ensure people were getting out.

“He didn’t think twice,” my daughter told me.

Within minutes firetrucks were on the scene and firemen and women raced into the building.

I am grateful.

Because of them, 34 of the 44 families in the building did not lose their belongings.

And while it is tragic and hard to think of 10 families with nothing this Thanksgiving, every single person in that building got out safely because of the men and women who raced into the fire to ensure they got out.

I am grateful.

There is so much in my life I take for granted because there are those who safeguard my freedom, my safety, my life.

May I never take for granted my family and friends who make my life so rich, vibrant and meaningful.

And may I always express my gratitude for those who ensure I can take for granted my safety, freedom and peace of mind. May I always be grateful for being able to run away from danger because they are there to protect me.

Namaste.

 


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From GO to Ease back and relax mode

We are off an adventure today. Into the office for a catch-up morning and then, C.C. and I fly east to red and golden leaves, warmer temperatures and NO SNOW for a week.

A nephew’s wedding in Toronto and then, 5 days with our dear friends at their beautiful cottage on a lake in the woods west of Ottawa.

How lovely.

In the interim, I’ll be posting photos of Maple trees turning red and lake water shimmering in golden light.

But for today, one last shot at winter’s early descent here in Calgary as I switch from ‘go’ to ‘ease back and relax’ mode.

I’ll be seeing you occasionally here, but mostly, I’ll be soaking up the good vibes of spending time with dear friends surrounded by the beauty and wonder of Mother Nature falling with grace into autumn glory. (instead of skipping autumn and going straight to winter!)

And for those who are wondering, yesterday’s snowfall was a record for October. Not in a hundred years, they say, have we seen so much snow in one day in October!

Well I’ll be dashed if the crops ain’t thrashed, as my brother-in-law likes to say. He’s a prairie boy y’a know and he knows what he’s talkin’ about when he’s talkin’ about the weather!

Namaste.