Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Mistakes are a place to grow.

There is a responsibility in making a difference. A universal pact that the difference should, do no harm.

In  Ethical Intelligence by Bruce Weinstein, PhD, the first principle Dr. Weinstein cites as essential to living an ethical life is ‘To do no harm’. He goes on to say that if you must do harm, minimize it. The example he gives is when you have no choice but to terminate an employee, do it in a way that retains their dignity, that respects and honours them as well as you and your organization.

Recently, in an effort to do something good for someone, I harmed them. It wasn’t intentional, harm seldom is when we come from a place of wanting to do good. But, in the act of creating ‘a moment’, I didn’t consider the consequences of some of the aspects to what I was doing and the recipient felt unheard and unseen.

I am 100% accountable for my footprint in the world and how I walk in other people’s lives.

When I take a misstep, when I create harm or hurt in another’s life, intentional or unintentional, it is my responsibility to get accountable and clean up my mess.

The most effective way I know to do that is to acknowledge my mistake, apologize (no excuses, no rationalizations, no blame-game), get accountable and commit to making amends and doing better.

Recently, I made a difference I didn’t want to make.

It provided an opportunity to recommit to doing my best, being my best, to paying attention, staying focused and present in what I do.

We all make mistakes. Mistakes can make a lasting impression that creates ‘worse’ when we do not clean them up. We can pretend, ignore and carry-on blithely,

or,

We can hold ourselves accountable for what we’ve done.

Mistakes are an opportunity to create better when we  turn up, pay attention, speak our truth and be 100% accountable for ourselves. When we turn up without expectation of our mistakes being made okay by the other and instead use our mistakes as an opportunity to be vulnerable, to create intimacy, closeness, better, we create a space where resentment does not find fertile ground to grow as we move closer in love and forgiveness.

In my mistake I have taken action. Embraced the opportunity to learn and grow. I have apologized and am committed to stay present in my desire to make a difference and do better every day.

It is the best I can do and my best is good enough.

Namaste.


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On this day, dare boldly to be Kind. Brave. More.

I am lying in the border lands between awake and dreaming.

I don’t want to get up. I’d rather stay snug and cozy in my bed, listening to my husband’s breathing, Beaumont’s snuffling from where he sleeps on the floor on the far side of the room.

A thought floats into my mind. There are many ways to raise a child and only one place to do it. Home.

Work rises early.

A family emergency homeless shelter never sleeps.

I must get up.

I get up.

It is still dark out. January days slowly lengthen. Morning has yet to lighten.

I paddle barefoot into the kitchen. Beaumont follows.

I turn the kettle on so I can make a cup of hot lemon and honey. Beaumont pads over to the far side of the dining room table, by the deck doors, plops his body on the ground and goes back to sleep.

Mug of hot lemon and honey in my hand, I light the candle on my desk, settle into my chair and fire up my laptop.

Outside, the river flows quickly beneath the bridge. A city bus travels westward. I cannot see the passengers inside. The lights of several cars follow. Unseen, the city slowly awakens farther to the west.

I sip my honey and lemon. Take a deep breath. Close my eyes. Quiet descends.

David Kanigan of the I Can’t Sleep blog shared a quote this morning from Kelsey Danielle of Misguided Ghosts.

I felt my soul stir in her words. My heart give that little flutter like when you meet someone for the first time only to discover you have a world of friends and experiences in common. Possibilities of friendship expand.

I move into that space of familiarity, comfort. I begin to write.

Morning awakens. The day awaits. It is filled with unexplored opportunities to be kinder, bolder, braver, more.

On this day, Dare boldly to be kind. Dare boldly to give your heart away. Life is calling you to awaken.

 

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Let kindness start with me.

Years ago a friend asked me, “If there were one word on your headstone that completed this sentence, “She was a_______________woman”, what would you want it to be?”

Kind, I replied. Definitely kind.

When I look back on 2018 I look for where kindness has cast ripples outward, creating gentle sailing for those around me. Amidst their smooth waters I see currents where discord arose because of something I did or said. I choose forgiveness and keep moving into my heart. As I move into the moment, casting my thoughts to the year ahead, I whisper a prayer of gratitude for so many opportunities to learn and grow and make a plea for courage and strength to carry me forward.

Let kindness infuse each step. Let kindness be my ripple effect.

From kindness, acts of courage, of compassion, or greatness evolve. Joy rises, within me and around me. Love radiates from me and through me and all around me.

From kindness, I soften my heart, gentle my words and smooth my spirit’s journey. When I look more kindly upon myself, I see the world as a kinder place.

From kindness, I step softly into the world, conscious of where my footprints tread, conscious of the footprints I leave behind. May my footprints disturb no one with ripples of discord.

Ah but, you say. In this world, how can you tread anywhere without disturbing someone? Don’t you have to be a ‘yes girl’ to not disturb anyone? Doesn’t that make you weak?

Not when I stand true to my beliefs. To my values. Not when I express my truth, in Love, without fearing the outcome.

But… Isn’t that like not leaving your mark on life? On the world? Don’t you want to make a difference?

Yes. I do. Want to make a difference.

And I want my difference to be remembered in how people feel about themselves, their lives, their possibilities. Not about me.

Working at a homeless shelter I am greeted with countless opportunities everyday to be kind. To be caring. To be compassionate and tolerant and fair.

With those we serve.

Where I am not so kind and caring and compassionate and tolerant is with the people on ‘the other-side of the street’. On mainstreet. The world ‘out there’. With those I consider, in my judgement and not so kind viewpoint, should know better.

When we know better we do better.

And sometimes, I view some of those I meet on ‘mainstreet’ as lacking in the knowing they need to do better.

And sometimes, in my determination of what ‘they lack’, I am less than kind, less than compassionate, less than tolerant.

Hello? Who am I kidding? Who am I to criticize?

I cannot be kind with some, and not with others and think of myself as a woman of integrity. I cannot create compassion in some corners of my world and carry discord in others without jeopardizing my peace of mind. And when I am intolerant with some, including myself, I am creating a world of discord around me.

It is the 100% accountability factor.

To be a woman of integrity. To radiate joy and peace and harmony throughout my world, I must move through myself and every moment, every encounter in Love, creating a ripple effect of kindness, compassion and tolerance all around me.

It is the way to happiness. To peace of mind. To calmness of spirit and soul. It is the way.

Because, no matter how much I might think I’m fooling myself that what I am saying is ‘the truth’ when I speak disrespectfully of someone else or treat them with little care or thought of the impact of my words or actions, I am acting without integrity. I am not being kind.

And so, I turn the mirror back to me and look lovingly upon the cloudy imperfection of my reflection.

In loving kindness, I accept the one I see and let go of the fear she will never be enough.

She already is. In all her human imperfections.

We all are.


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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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When there’s nothing else to do. Surrender.

“Surrender”  Alcohol ink on Yupo Paper
11″ x 14″
Louise Gallagher 2019

It’s an interesting space, this place where I surrender my ‘knowing’ to embrace the all of what I do not know, about life.

My active mind wants me to believe that if I just acknowledge my not knowing, I’ll be able to figure out all the knowing I need.

My intuitive, essential self knows, there is nothing to know except this moment right now. Nothing to do but to give into the river of life in which I flow freely, in this moment right now, and be present, alive, here.

In surrender, there is no knowing. There just is. What is. Reality as I see it. Experience it. Know it. Without any insistence on the part of my mind that I can channel it, change it, create it, make it into anything other than what is.

In the big moments in our lives, many of us will come to that moment of surrender. That dark night of the soul where we know there is nothing else we can do. We can’t keep fighting. Crying. Hurting. Being here.

In that space, we surrender and accept, we do not have the answers. We do not know the way.

In that space, we accept there is a force outside ourselves, greater than ourselves, other than, that we submit to. We can’t see it. Perhaps don’t even believe in it. We just know, we surrender.

And in that surrender, a path opens up. We don’t know where it’s going. If it’s even ‘the right’ path. We just know, we need to take another step and trust the next one will appear.

Looking back, we stand in awe of that moment. Not because it appeared but rather, because in all our trying to get there, trying to make it happen, nothing happened. And then, in our surrender, it appeared.

Living our daily lives in that place of surrender can be difficult. We’ve got lists of things to do. Places to be.

Who’s got time for surrender when there’s just too much to get done and not enough hours in a day?

We can practice surrender in those small, every day moments.

We can meditate. Walk. Dance. Ride a bike. Do something that takes our minds off our ‘doing’ to fall gently into our being.

Yesterday, I chose to paint. I did have ‘a goal’. When a word chooses me for the year, I create a painting to remind me of the word.

I sank into meditation and a vision of ‘surrender’ arose and while the final painting does not look like that vision, it feels like surrender to me.

When I create, I let go of ‘the outcome’ and fall into the grace of being present in the moment of creation. I play. I have fun. I experiment. I ‘don’t know’ as much as respond to how the paint flows, the colours blend, the canvas calls.

It is a beautiful, enlivening place. A space that reminds me, always, to surrender and…

Breathe.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

As you go through your day, stop every so often, breathe and ask yourself,

What am I experiencing in this moment, right now?

What if, my experience is not ‘the thing’? What if ‘the thing’ is to let everything be as it is, just as it is?

What if, I sit and breathe and let what is be my experience in this moment?

Now, feel it. Be it. Breathe into it. Right now.

Namaste.