Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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The Last Fear

In the practice circle for an online course I am participating in on ‘soulful aging’, another participant, after recounting a story of a traumatic incident from their youth, asks, “Is this the last fear that I need to fully embrace, accept and pass through?”

Upon reading their words, my mind quickly answered, “There are always more hidden fears.”

Perhaps that is my last fear. That I will come to a final fear, obstacle, hurdle and there will be nothing beyond. Not even bliss. Happiness. Joy. Contentment. Just nothing.

I smile as I write that. It sounds so existential, so empty of the promise of possibility, or as my father would say, referencing the Irish at the root of his being, ‘so James Joyce’.

I am not prone to dark thoughts, so when an automatic response such as I made this morning rises unbidden in my mind, I become curious.

Where on earth would such a dark thought arise from? I wonder.

Why on earth would would my automatic thoughts think that?

In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainier Rilke writes, “Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”  (emphasis mine)

Perhaps, rather than questioning “why would my mind think that?” the question could be, “how does fear limit my living fearlessly in this moment right now?”

Or maybe, “What is in it for me to hold onto fear?”

Or, “How does fear stop love flowing freely?”

You get it.

The questions are limitless.

The gift is found living into the questions to that place where the answer  is  always the same.

Love Deeply. Share Your heart. Be Grateful. Live Now. 

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 


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Ubuntu – it is who we are

Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another. ~ DESMOND TUTU ~

When I first see them, they are just two men walking down the street in opposite directions on the same sidewalk leading towards and away from the homeless shelter where I used to work.

The moment transcends ‘normal’ in one instant. As the two men pass eachother, one of the men strikes out and shoves the other man off the sidewalk onto the roadway. He falls to the ground and the other man continues to walk away.

The man on the ground jumps up. His hands are balled into fists. For one moment, he takes a belligerent stance, and then it’s gone. He’s standing facing the retreating back of the other man, his shoulders slumped forward, his arms hang loosely by his side.

I am sitting in my car, about to drive down the lane, away from the shelter where I used to work when this scene unfolded in front of me.

I am stunned. Bewildered.

I stop my car. Get out and approach the man who is still standing in the laneway. “Are you okay?” I ask.

He turns towards me. He is in his 50s, maybe 40s but it can be hard to tell sometimes how old someone who has lived the ‘streetlife’ really is, ‘the street’ can make you appear ten to fifteen years older.

“Yeah. I’m fine.” And he shrugs his shoulders and starts to walk towards the shelter.

“Is there anything I can do?” I ask.

He sighs. “No. I just got off work. I don’t wanna make no trouble. I just wanna lay down.”

I leave him, get back in my car and turn around back to the shelter. I follow him into the building. I want to make sure he’s okay.

At the security desk I wait until he’s checked in. “I’m sorry that happened to you,” I say. And I touch his shoulder with one hand.

“Yeah. Thanks.”

Tears form in his eyes. I wonder when someone last spoke to him kindly when he’s been hurt. Offered comfort. A gentle voice.

“Can I give you a hug?” I ask.

He looks at me surprised. “Sure. That would be nice.”

Later, at my meditation class I am deeply relaxed when our guide instructs us to ‘walk into the desert.’

“Walk with no intention,” says our guide. “There’s a figure walking towards you. Welcome them. See who it is.”

It is one of the two men. Not the one who was thrown to the ground. It is the perpetrator.

He is a dark shadow. Dark clothes. Dark hair. Shrouded.

As he walks towards me I want to shake him. Rattle him. Ask him why he did it. Do something to ‘make him see’.

And I realize, he cannot see me. His world is too dark. Too shadowed to see there is light all around. He is beaten down in the darkness.

I stand and hold the light around him. It is all that I can do.

It was a powerful realization. To know that there was nothing I could do to ‘make him see’, or hear or be anyone or anywhere other than that moment right there.

In that realization I knew – he didn’t see the man he shoved. He saw — his past, the pain and anger of the moment, his powerlessness to change the past, his anger at the moment.

It doesn’t make what he did right. It does make my witnessing of what he did more understandable to me.

Sometimes we do things that hurt others. We strike out — with words, with hands and fists, with guns and knives and weapons of mass destruction. We strike out against the injustice, the inhumanity, the cruelty of what has happened in our lives, what others have done to us, what we have done to them. We tell ourselves, we’re not as bad as ‘them’. We would never to that.

Standing in the desert in front of that man, I knew — I was capable of those same actions. His darkness exists in me because I can see it.

The only difference is — he can not yet see there is light within that darkness.

In Africa there is a word — Ubuntu. It means — ‘human-ness’, Humanity to others — “I am what I am because of who we all are”.

I cannot be me unless you are you and you cannot be you if I am not me. We cannot be who we are unless we each become who we truly are without prejudice, discrimination, hatred and war clouding our vision.

That man’s darkness cannot exist without my darkness. And my light cannot exist without his light.

For him to see his light, I must be my darkness and light. Hold true to my being, without being pulled into darkness.

May we all be inspired by the power of our ability to inspire others, to be our most incredible selves, even in the face of darkness.

May we all live the truth of Ubuntu so that each of us can live peacefully in the light of knowing, we are all connected in our humanity.

__________________________

I have been fighting a cold this week — hence getting up late, no time to write. This post originally appeared on my blog in 2014. I brought it forward because of a post Diana shared on her blog today at Talk to Diana— thank you Diana!


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Want to create peace? Practice better.

In a conversation recently, someone said their passion is to end war.

Mine is to create peace.

We are not in opposition. We just see our passion through a different lens. A lens that works for both of us and for the world. A lens that allows the ‘end game’ to be a world where war does not call us to pick up arms of destruction but instead, to hold our arms out wide to one another so we can embrace one another in peace.

A world where the fear of war does not create terror in the heart of every human being because creating peace is the goal of every government and citizen.

“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Oppositional energy only creates more of the same.” — Richard Rohr

I am opposed to war. Terror. Guns. Using violence as a means to gain power, control, dominance over another. But I do not fight against it.  To create change, I practice creating space for all the world to change its mind about war by seeing the possibility of peace as the alternative path.

Which means, I am also opposed to accepting that there is no way to create or practice better in this world.

There is always a way to practice better in the world.

We are human beings. Genetically designed to continually evolve, change, shift, create. If we weren’t, how would 7 billion different persons with unique DNA exist on this planet earth?

We are wired for change. No matter how hard we resist.

Take for example, life. Life is a process of aging. And aging is all about change.

The challenge is, we often struggle to hold onto and protect the past and fight against falling in love with the possibilities of different, new, better ways of being present on this earth.

Look at the cosmetics industry. It is built on the belief that we can reverse the aging process. It fosters the belief that aging is bad.

I can’t think of a better way to go through life than to age with grace. To be at peace with the aging process by being willing to fall in love with the continuous changes within me that have been happening since the moment I was conceived.

To age with grace is to keep my mind and heart open. To be conscious of my ever-growing capacity to be present in this world with all my senses keenly attuned to my spiritual, emotional and mental state of being.

And when I become more conscious of my capacity to be present in this world in new and better ways, when I let go of old ways of ‘getting my way’ through manipulation, coercion, bullying, victimhood by stepping into my full human capacity to create love, peace, joy, harmony, I create a world of change all around me.

In that sea of change, anything is possible. Including peace.

 

 

 


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A new job. New beginning. New everything!

Today I begin a new adventure. Today, I join the team at Inn from the Calgary, a not-for-profit whose vision is to build, “a community where no child or family is homeless.”

I feel excited. Nervous. Curious. Calm.

I am excited to be returning to the front-lines of homelessness. To be moving away from communicating from the ‘system planner’ perspective to being able to tell the stories of the amazing work the Inn does that has direct impact on children and families experiencing homelessness in our city.

I am nervous to be meeting new people. To be connecting with a new team who do not know me, and with whom I have had very little contact. I am nervous about ‘what to wear’ for my first day. About the little things that once the threshold is crossed, become commonplace — but until then, create fissures of unease, uncertainty because they represent the unknown. Parking. Coffee. Lunch. What will my office look like? Should I take all my stuff today, or wait a day or so? (You know, the photos and paraphernalia that make a space ‘mine’. 🙂 )

I am curious to be taking on a new role, to be discovering what makes the Inn tick. What makes it such an exceptional place. What creates such passion amidst those who work with and for the Inn.

And I am calm. Whatever will be, it will be what it is. As long as I stay present to my intentions of being open, curious and humble, as long as I stay centered within my core self, as long as I am committed to being and bringing the best of me with me, I have nothing to be nervous about.

Life is an ever flowing river. It moves and changes and bridges opportunities, new experiences, different perspectives. It constantly brings with it interesting ways of engaging, learning, becoming aware of what I don’t know, while also becoming aware of how to apply what I do know in new ways.

I am going back to work tomorrow after a two week ‘break’.

It has been two weeks filled with creativity, with opportunities to take a break and moments to get fully engaged in the wonders of what fills my life today.

And, in the process, I have passed an anniversary of sorts once again — only to discover — I had completely missed the significance of the date — until FB Memories pointed out that on May 21, 2013 I had written a post that marked the date called — Ten Years. I am Grateful.

I am so grateful for time. It moves with the flow of life’s river, carrying us further from one moment to the next and in its flow, we leave behind the moments that no longer serve our journey.

In my case, forgetting the significance that Sunday was May 21st is a gift. It is a blessing. It is a testament to how I continue to flow into life’s healing waters, immersed in the joy and wonder of all that my world is today.

I start a new job today. The work I know. What I don’t know, yet, are the people I will be working with, and the people they serve. What I don’t know, yet, are the stories. Of those I will be working with, and those we serve.

What I don’t know, yet, is how much I don’t know…

And that’s what makes me excited. I like to know before I leap.

Tomorrow I leap knowing I have much to learn, much to offer and much to share in and with.

I am excited. I am a story-teller by nature, and at Inn from the Cold, the stories I will be telling all begin at that place where families find themselves at home.

Namaste.

 


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Today’s Quote

This one always reminds me of the power of choice I have over how I turn up.

Soul Gatherings

tree of happiness

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather,
always bring your own sunshine.

~ Anthony J. D’Angelo ~
_______________

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Leave your front door and back door open

Such a beautiful visual — to leave the front door and the back door of my mind open.

Zen Flash

vic ljf

Leave your front door and back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea

Shrunyu Suzuki

With thanks to

http://kmhubersblog.com

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Remember always that you are just a visitor here

I am taking a week off to recharge before charging into my new role with Inn from the Cold.

Instead of my words, I am sharing words that inspired me this morning.

Read on! Live on! Shine on!

Zen Flash

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

 Remember always that you are just a visitor here, a traveler passing through. your stay is but short and the moment of your departure unknown.

None can live without toil and a craft that provides your needs is a blessing indeed. But if you toil without rest, fatigue and wearness will overtake you, and you will denied the joy that comes from labour’s end.

Speak quietly and kindly and be not forward with either opinions or advice. If you talk much, this will make you deaf to what others say, and you should know that there are few so wise that they cannot learn from others.

Be near when help is needed, but far when praise and thanks are being offered.

Take small account of might, wealth and fame, for they soon pass and are forgotten. Instead, nurture love within you and strive to be a friend to…

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