Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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What’s in your cup?

It is easy to blame the other, someone else, anyone else for our moods, our actions, words.

Yet, as this lovely story from Thich Nhat Hanh so clearly shows, whose moods, actions, words are they?

What were we holding inside when it all spilled them out?

Zen Flash

 I found this analogy interesting:

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?

“Well because someone bumped into me, of course!”

*Wrong answer.*

You spilled the coffee because there was _coffee_ in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled _tea_.

*Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out.*

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. _It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled._

*So we have to ask ourselves… _”what’s in my cup?”_*

When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?

Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

You choose!

Today let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words…

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Giving Thanks is at the heart of Knox United Church

Knox United Church has played a pivotal role in creating a caring and inclusive community in downtown Calgary since it first opened its doors over 130 years ago. One of four founding churches to establish the network of faith community memebers that began Inn from the Cold 20 years ago, Knox continues to play a pivotal role in helping the Inn fulfill on its vision to build a community where no child or family is homeless.

Last night, Knox extended its warm hospitality to the children and families staying at the Inn’s emergency shelter. Over 20 volunteers gathered to create a place where gratitude, friendship, joy and gratitude shone in the faces and hearts of everyone gathered together share a meal, give thanks and build community. It rang out in the laughter, the conversation, the clink of cutlery on pretty china plates and wafted through the air filled with the delicious aroma of turkey and roasted vegetables and of course, pumpkin pie.

There was not a belly that felt empty, nor a heart that wasn’t full of gratitude by the end of the evening. Children darted in and around the tables set with pretty white china as parents and neighbours who’d come in to volunteer chatted and laughed together.

There was no, this is my space, you’re a visitor here. There was only the warm, loving welcome of the volunteers who gathered to prepare and serve the meal and put on all the activities to engage adults and children in a wonderful evening of fun and laughter. And, throughout the evening, gratitude and joy and a sense of belonging and community embraced the children and families, helping to lift the heaviness of homelessness to replace it with hope, possibility, Love.

In the end, there was one people, one humanity, one human condition gathered together to share a meal.

I spent the evening last night enveloped in the warm and welcoming embrace of friendship, welcoming hearts and caring hands. I spent the evening in that place where everyone knew they were at home surrounded that the thing we all yearn for the most — loving kindness and belonging.

I am blessed. I am grateful. I am awed by the spirit and humanity of everyone who came out last night to create such a beautiful place for everyone to connect and feel welcome.

 

 


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Fierce Love. It’s a boy to be!

Garfield Jr. Photo by Alexis Marie

Thirty-one years ago, when I gave birth to my first daughter, I was in awe of the sweeping, fierce love that consumed me the moment I heard her first cry.

Over the nine months of pregnancy, I had read every book I could get my hands on that would prepare me for being a mother. But nothing could prepare me for the fierce love that filled every breath, every molecule and cell of my being.

Last night, as I lay in bed reading, I searched for books on being a grandmother.

I am beyond excited.

In March of next year, my eldest daughter will give birth to their first child, our first grandchild. A son.

And I feel the stirrings of that fierce love. I feel that yearning to hold him in my arms and protect him and cherish him and nurture him and guide him and show him how incredibly beautiful and strong he is, and how incredibly beautiful he can make the world around him through kindness, dignity, truth and courage.

I want to be the best grandmother I can be, or as we’ve decided I’ll be called, Nona or possibly Lola.

When a child has four sets of grandparents, getting creative with nomenclature is vital! And not being quite sure yet what he’ll call me leaves some of the say up to him — which word is easier to pronounce, which one makes him smile when he says it, or is there a word he’ll choose himself?

When Alexis was a child, the first time she said Grandpa, the name we’d agreed she’d call her paternal grandfather, she said, Bumpa. It became a lovingly appropriate name for gentle Al, her father’s father.

Along with being the kind of grandmother Garfield Jr., as they are calling him in-womb (and no that won’t be his name in-the-world), wants to spend time with, I also want to be the best mother of my grandson’s parents I can be. I want to be intentional in all my actions, words, and thoughts. I want to honour their parenting style, their requests for how he’s taught, how he’s nurtured and cared for. I want to use LOVE in all its encompassing ways. In particular, LOVE as Donne Davis writes in “When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand: 4 Keys to L.O.V.E. your grandchild’s parents, as my guideposts.”

L – Learn the parents’ language

O – Own your shared purpose

V – Value the parents’ hard work

E – Empathize. Empathize. Empathize.

As a grandmother, I want to be the person they love to call to share the adventures of their little one, and the rock they lean on when they’re tired, frustrated or just needing to chat about the realities of being a parent today.

I do not want to be over-bearing, over-powering or over-anything that doesn’t bring joy and delight to their lives and the life of their son.

It is a new adventure, this idea/role of being a grandmother. For C.C., there is no role he is more excited about. When Alexis and J called to tell us the grand news, her sister insisted we film C.C. so they could see his face and reaction. It was worth it! Just as being grandparents together will be worth remembering as we journey into this new land together.

Over the moon and into the limitless possibilities of love. That’s where you’ll find me in the coming weeks and months as we journey together with our daughter and son-in-love towards the arrival of their new son.

Gratitude fills my heart. Fierce and wild, it beats a tattoo of Love that fills my world with the song of joy.

______________________________________

And yes, I’ve ordered some books! Time to get honing up on how to be a grandmother who leaves only footprints of love on her grandson’s and his parents’ life.


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The Good Thing Harvey Washed Away

When the rains started falling in Calgary in 2013, we had time to get people to safety. My daughter and her roommate were evacuated along with 100,000 other people. I spent a couple of nights volunteering in an emergency evacuation facility while my daughter helped clean out people’s homes.

It was a devastating time. Yet, the one thing the rain’s and flooding could not wash away, was our human spirit, our desire to be One, our human instinct to come to the aid of each other.

When I read Angelia’s blog, when I saw the photos she shared, I was reminded of the greatest of our shared humanity and the power of our human condition.

Please take the time to read her words and the photos she shares. Please consider donating to relief efforts- you can do so through http://redcross.ca

I stand with you Angelia and Texas.

My Best Laid Plans

There’s not much in the world I can truly say I hate. But I hateHarvey.

We have been sitting here for more hours than I can begin to count being brutally lashed by his seemingly never ending fury. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t scary…terrifying…at times, but we are among the lucky ones. We are safe and dry.


Harvey has taken so much from so many. Homes, lives, hopes, jobs–all washed into the Gulf of Mexico by his relentless anger. As the horrifying images and desperate needs flash across my screen in endless and quick succession, I sit here with tears in my eyes. Where do you begin? I have never felt so helpless. My neighbors are in dire straits and I can’t do anything but pray. It’s a terrible feeling.


Pregnant women and their toddlers stuck on roofs waiting hours upon hours for…

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How to Begin Again in love and life.

“It’s not convenient for me to come help you right now. Why don’t you just take a cab home and we can deal with it in the morning?”

These are the words my beloved speaks into the phone when I call him in a confused state after trying to open the doors of my car.

Everything is dead.  The FOB doesn’t work. There’s no flashing red light from the security system. No click when I press the button on the door handle that should lead to the door automatically opening.

There’s also no key to unlock the door.

Of course, I’m ticked at my husband. Why on earth can’t he come and rescue me? Right now.

My ‘ticked-offedness’ is not based on reality. He is with a friend who is dying. They don’t expect him to live through the night. He has spent the afternoon and early part of the evening with his friend, his wife and family. He just wants to get off the phone as quickly as possible as he is in an emotionally challenging place and can’t deal with much else.

Not knowing where he’s at emotionally, I filter my feelings/thoughts through my experience and base my response only on his words, which I judge to be a tad off-putting.

And yeah, I just might have been a little bit snippety when I responded.

How often do we do this? Hear something and leave out, or don’t get the context of, what the other person is experiencing? We filter their response through our experience and make judgments about them and their words that lead us to respond in not so kind, considerate or thoughtful ways?

The converse can also be true. For C.C., he could not know how his words would trigger me. But then, until I heard them, neither could I.

Not feeling like I matter, or that I’m important enough for someone else to come to my defense or support is an old pattern of thinking/feeling for me. Most times, I am aware of this belief pattern and am able to frame my response and understanding through my self-awareness.

Sometimes, I’m just not there.

Being conscious and aware of this pattern is vital to ensuring a conversation doesn’t go from “hello” to a deep dive into resentment, anger, confusion, because the other person didn’t respond the way we wanted or expected. In that deep dive away from searching for intimacy to deepening our insistence of being right, we often say and do things we wish we hadn’t.

I don’t know about you, but I really do my best not to say or do things I’ll later regret!

We are all just humans on the journey of our lifetime. And sometimes, that journey is filled with moments where we do not act up to our higher good and instead, sink down to our baser instinct to always be right, always win, always have the last word.

Fortunately, C.C. and I have an agreement. If one of us says, “Can we begin again?”, there’s only one permissible response.

“Yes.”

In beginning again, whatever the inciting incident, we both agree to release it as we begin again from the sacred ground of our love for one another. In that sacred space, we do and all we are for and with each other comes through the desire to deepen intimacy through love.

And while some days, the critter in me would rather I just stand my ground in self-righteous victim-hood, my heart always knows the truth, to begin again is the way of Love.


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Dear Mr. President

Dear President Trump:

I don’t often write to politicians, especially someone in another country, but I find your words and actions leave me feeling helpless, mystified, confused, and worried about the safety of the world, so I felt I must.

Being Canadian, I’ve always admired the United States, in particular, their Presidents. Our system doesn’t give such absolute power to one individual as your system does, so to me, your leaders have always seemed so much more powerful. And, because of that power, I’ve always believed them to be knowledgeable and informed on world events and conscious of the ripple effect of their words and actions.

And that’s why you confuse me. You’ve got power and wealth. You stand up and speak as if you’re informed and knowledgeable about a whole lot of things, not just what’s going on in the states but around the world too. That is the right and role of the leader of a nation as powerful as the US of A. But President Trump, you confuse me with your garbled facts, your incomplete sentences and what appear to be ill-formed opinions.

And that’s where I get worried.

What you say matters. It has impact. It can change the world.

My fear stems from the fact that I’m not sure you’re committed to creating a ripple in the world that changes it for the better for all people, regardless of race, creed, wealth or position.

Your words matter President Trump.  They are not only a reflection of you. They are a statement of the power and strength of the United States of America.

You words leave me feeling like my neighbour to the south is weak, spoiled, mis-informed and spiteful.

And that scares me.

The world needs the United States to be strong. To be fair. To be the arbiter of peace, tolerance, justice.

I’m losing my faith. I am struggling to adjust to what I see as the new world order.

I used to look up to the United States, like I looked up to my big brother. You were strong. Honest. Fair. Sure, you had your faults. But I believed you always had the world’s back.

My confidence in your strength is shaken. My faith in your righteousness rattled.

And I’m not so sure you’ve got anyone’s back.

Mr. President, I know being president must be a hard job. I know it must take a lot of time and energy, and a lot of courage to uphold the truth that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Mr. President, I know people have been hard on you. They’ve criticized you and even made fun of you. But Mr. President, we the people of the world need you to be bigger than that. We need you to rise above the criticism and be strong. We need you to let go of taking sides or painting sides or even talking about sides. We need you to speak up as the voice of one great nation defending the unalienable rights of all people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s a big job Mr. President but it’s okay, we, the people of the world will have your back, as long as you turn up.

__________________________

This is unusual for me to write something even remotely political. These are unusual times.

I welcome your comments. Please know I am not looking for a fight. I am not looking to take sides. These are my thoughts and I needed to write them out. This is my blog so if your comments use words that I deem to be based on hatred, racism, spite or anti-humankind, I will remove them.

Thank you.