Dare boldly

Inspiring acts of grace in everyday living


7 Comments

What labels do you carry?

FullSizeRenderIt’s called Jazz Vespers:  Where Jazz Meets the Spirit.

They’ve been holding it at the beautiful St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church every Sunday since 1992. 25 Years.

My daughter, Alexis and I attended it for the first time in November when I came to visit. This Sunday, her husband and his mother joined us.

It was as sublimely soothing and enriching as I remembered it.

Last time, it was just after the US election. There was talk of the new president and the need to stand, strong of back, soft of front. To not harden our hearts but to engage in conversation, to seek to understand, not judge.

This Sunday, the talk is of ‘labels’. These are not the designer labels on our clothes. Or the one’s that speak to our greatness. These are the words, the names we carry because others have stuck them to us, or because we call ourselves those things we would not say about another, but deign to call ourselves.

I listen to the Reverend Dan Chambers speak and think of all the labels I have known, carried, called myself.

Beyond daughter, sister, mother, wife, friend, cousin…

What are the labels?

I name them quietly in my head.

Most do not fit anymore.  Most, are not one’s I want to repeat, or need to own, or feel connected to. They are labels that limited me. That held me in place, or as Rev. Chambers called it, helped to simplify the complex so others felt less afraid, unsure, insecure, threatened. Or so that I could feel justified in my fear, insecurity, angst. And in my justification of the labels I applied to myself, rationalize why I didn’t have to do anything different that might dislodge the label someone had applied or which I held against myself.

Labels serve no one.

They only give us something to hang onto when the world around us feels confusing. When times are shifting. When we do not understand another and cannot, or will not, take the time to see into them or ourselves, through eyes of compassion.

Labels are our way of judging without having to name what we are doing. As if, through the applying of the label, we are excused of our misbehaviour.

He’s gay. She’s a feminist. They’re immigrants. She’s a druggie, addict, lazy, unfortunate. He’s a bully. Stupid. Red neck. Indian.

It’s not that we are saying they are bad or less than. We’re just using the words that describe where someone else is at. We didn’t make the names. But if they fit, why shouldn’t we use them? We’re not judging, we’re simplifying life.

And without really thinking about what we’re doing, we engage in the process of judging people less than, other than, unworthy of, their right to claim the magnificence of their human condition.  The same human condition that each of us shares.

I participated in Jazz Vespers yesterday.

It was a moving experience that carried me into spirit, like a river flowing endlessly to the sea, connecting me to my humanity flowing in this journey called life. A life that is so much richer when I let go of the labels that limit the full expression and experience of life.


4 Comments

Will you choose to travel light?

We held a smudge at our office yesterday. We gathered in the kitchen area, sat in a circle and shared in the healing power of our Indigenous traditions.

It was a member of the homeless-serving community who reached out to ask if the team would like to smudge.

It had been a tough week. The aftereffects of Monday’s stunning news that a member of the foundation’s board of directors (where I work) had been arrested on charges of sexual assault against vulnerable youth, continued to reverberate throughout the week.

The smudge was our opportunity, the ceremony leader told us, to give our burdens to our ancestors. It is their role, he said. To carry away the burdens. To protect us. To guide us and keep us safe.

Today, some people call them ‘angels’. Long ago, they were simply, ‘our ancestors’.

No matter who they were in life or what they did, in spirit form, they are the essence of our collective humanity. Wise. Caring. Strong. Compassionate. They are the essential goodness at the core of our human spirit.

Our ancestors do not judge. They do not malign. They do not condemn.  They honour, protect and care.

You don’t have to be specific, the ceremony leader said. You don’t have to name names or even events. Just speak what is on your heart, what feels heavy, burdensome. What is preventing you from finding grace in the every day.

We went around the circle. Each person offering their burden to the ancestors. Aging parents. Moving. Challenging children.

And the elephant in the room. The man who is alleged to have committed these acts that shocked us all.

It was in the naming of what felt so unspeakable that I remembered — it is not my role to carry someone else’s burdens.

Whether the individual did or did not commit these acts is for the courts to determine.

My job is to be light, not darkness.  To carry hope, not despair.

And I cannot do that carrying the angst and sorrow and the sense of betrayal that has permeated my every thought this past week.

I surrendered my burden to the smudge. I let the smoke carry it away and cleanse me.

I cannot change the past. I cannot divine innocence or guilt.

I can stand in this moment knowing, whatever has happened, my role is to be fully present in this moment. When I stand in my light, when I join others in prayer and song in a circle where we invite our ancestors to support, protect, and guide us, and name the sorrows and burdens we do not want to name, and invite in the wisdom we cannot know, we are stronger for facing our truth and being open to Spirit. In Spirit’s presence, now is not forever. In time, this too shall pass.

The rivers flow to the sea. The sea becomes the ocean. In its waters we are all integral drops that make the whole of life on earth. Sometimes beautiful. Sometimes ugly and inexplicable. Always life.

We are all connected.

Yesterday, I sat in a circle and set my burdens in the centre. I cleansed my body in the smoke and invited Spirit to be my guide.

The ancestors carried my burdens away.  My choice today whether I pick them up again, or carry on lightly, free to step into this moment full of light and promise, hope and possibility, Love and gratitude.

I choose to travel light.


12 Comments

Mistakes happen.

I worked in the studio yesterday.

I stood in front of the easel, pondered the blank space in front of me, and took a risk.

youre-always-going-miss-your-chance-if-you-never-take-a-risk-quote-1A search of google for quote on ‘risk-taking’ brings ups some gems.

If you don’t try, you’ll never know (Unknown)

Thinking, ‘here goes nothing’ could be the start of something.  — Drew Wagner

You’re always going to miss your chance if you never take a risk.  (Unknown)

I particularly like the last one, not because it’s more profound but rather, because in the picture of it I found, there was a typo — and I love other people’s typos. Makes me feel less conspicuous with my own.

The fact, the provider of that quote hasn’t fixed it could say many things — it’s all in my interpretation.

a) They haven’t noticed it.

b) No one has pointed it out.

c) Fixing it isn’t important to them.

d) It’s a test of my capacity to notice small details.

e) All or none of the above.

Which is really the point of this post.

Last night, there was a big mistake at the Academy Awards. Those involved handled it with incredible grace. The Academy, in front of hundreds of million viewers, corrected the mistake. Warren Beatty clarified what had happened, even as others stood around with confused expressions on their faces.

In the end, the real winners came up and the not real winners handed over the prize and the world kept turning.

And then, Cyberspace went crazy.

Seriously?

It was a mistake.

Mistakes happen.

The true measure of our mistakes is in how quickly we fix them, or not.

And last night, The Academy fixed their mistake, in the moment.

I make mistakes all the time. They are not the measure of my worth — unless I repeat the same mistake over and over again. Then it’s no longer a mistake. It’s a habit. A poor execution. A negative space I inhabit.

For the Academy, this is the first time I remember a mistake like that happening. Pretty good recovery if you ask me. A pretty good measurement of the integrity and honesty of the organization.

And, to me, it’s a pretty good reflection of the true grit and courage of the American people.

Honest. Forthright. Willing to take on big tasks and be humble in their execution.

Yes, there are issues. But the American people are bigger than the issues. Always have been.

I have faith in their ability to take action with caution and care and consideration for all.

Namaste.

 

 


6 Comments

Express Yourself | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 45

acts-of-grace-week-45-express-yourself-copy

 

I am amazed to see that I am already at Week 45 with this series!

Thank you for those who follow along and encourage me.  It can be easy with a project like this to lose ground, give up, stop before it’s completed.

I am grateful that I have chosen not to. that I have chosen instead to persevere. Persist.

Writing, creating art, doing the things I am committed to doing to create ‘better’ in this world are all expressions of my true self. They are out-pourings of my divine nature looking to be seen, heard, known.

We all share this urge. We all possess a divine impulse to be seen and heard and known from the heart out.

It can be easy in this materially driven western culture to reverse the flow. To believe that my ‘worth’ is expressed in what I put around me and on me.

Don’t be fooled by expressions of material wealth.

That is all they are — an outward manifestation of how much is in your bank account. Not how much you carry and know within your heart.

Be happy for your material wealth.

Be generous with your inner beauty.

Express yourself so all the world can see, and know, what is possible when we live from the heart out.

Namaste.

 

*******************************

If you follow me on FB or Twitter or Instagram, you will have seen my series of art pieces with words:  #ShePersisted

I am posting each piece as it’s created on my website — HERE.  I’d love to have you join me in this exploration of what is possible when times are tough, when people want to shut us down — and Nevertheless… persist.


2 Comments

Awaken Dear One.

gcrppqi-xjw-rose-erkul

Photo by Rose Erkul

Awaken Dear One.

©2017 Louise Gallagher

Awaken
and hear the drum
beating

It is beating
to the rhythm
of your heart.

Awaken
and hear life
calling

It is calling you
to Awaken
to the rhythm
of your heart.

 

Photo Source:  https://unsplash.com/@rose_ekl


4 Comments

How Do you Change the World?

follow-your-passion-copy

 

I love to ask the question, “If you were setting off to change the world, where would you start?”

“I’d start with passion,” a friend once replied to that question. “Always start with passion.”

Someone else once replied,  “I know what I’m passionate about. I know where my passion wants to lead me. I just don’t know how to get there”

Follow. Follow your passion. Whenever you are faced with a choice, a decision or an opportunity, follow your passion. The rest will fall into place.Passion.

 In Isabel Allende’s 2008 Ted Talks speech, Tales of Passion, she says that passion lives in the heart and heart is what drives us and determines our fate.
Heart.
The driver of great deeds. The driver of great people.
As humans, we are born great of heart. We all possess a greatness of being just the way we are. As we expand and move into being all we are when fear dressed up as hatred, racism, discrimination, intolerance and a whole host of characteristics we express when we move through fear, does not hold us down, our inherent greatness shines through. In our drive to dig deep into our hearts, to fuel the passion of our creative spirits, we change — ourselves and the world.
 And who could ask for a better world than that? A world of passion, driven with heart, filled with the desire to be the most amazing we can be. And in that desire to be our best, we will create a world of the best around us.
When I was 23, I believed I could change the world. I just didn’t know how to do it.
Now, I know that to be the change I want to see in the world, to create more love, joy, truth, kindness, caring… I must be passionate about living this one precious and awesome life in the passion of being loving, joyful, truthful, kind, caring.

“How can I change the world?” you ask.

Begin with yourself and let your heart lead the way.
Begin with being the most passionate person you can be, doing what you are most passionate about, what you love to do.
We can all do that.

And, to change the world, to make it a better place for everyone, we must all do that. Follow our passions and express our greatness in everything we do, in every way we can so that all the world can see that change is possible when we let go of our fear of never being enough and live passionately into our greatness of being human.


4 Comments

Is this awesome? Or is it not?

https://embed.ted.com/talks/jill_shargaa_please_please_people_let_s_put_the_awe_back_in_awesome