Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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I am enough. You are enough. We are.

Wide Open
©2018 Louise Gallagher

I will not walk in fear
of living an unused life
of regretting undone dreams
or missing unmet desires.

I will not live in hope
of one day being enough
of finding myself
or knowing who I am.

I will live this life
for all I’m worth
and that’s a lot.

I will walk into my fears
and set my dreams on fire
igniting my hopes with the possibility
of creating the life I always dreamed of
as I spend each day creating
the life I dream of.

I will walk each day
believing that I am worthy
because I am.

And I will give up hope
of finding myself.

I’m not lost.
I’m right here
living each day
with my eyes and arms and heart
wide open.

Wide open
I do not fear falling
I do not fear failing
I do not fear
being me
living this life
in the beauty and wonder of knowing
I Am Enough.

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I did not intend to write a poem this morning. and there it appeared.

The muse was having her way with me, and I was not refusing her call.

It is the way of the muse. She floats on moonbeams and stardust, shimmers in sunlight and breezes wafting through open windows. She does not heed walls or canyons. She does not stop for any woman or man.

She does not come unbidden. She is always there.

The muse just is. Present. All ways. All places.

This morning, she struck a chord in my imagination, vibrated in harmony with my heart and voilá! A poem appeared.


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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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What’s in a hero?

I am in my final year of high school. Biology 30 is a prerequisite.

I have a problem. I do not, cannot cut up dead frogs.

I approach the teacher and explain my dilemma. Having had me in his Biology 20 class, he commiserates with me. I think he’s kind of hopeful we can find a work around so he doesn’t have to put up with my comments and squeamishness. In those days I was a vegetarian. He also didn’t want to listen to my diatribes about how ‘wrong’ it was to use animals in this way.

Personally, I wouldn’t have wanted me in his class either. But I need this course for University so I’ve got to get creative.

I devise a work around. It’s a self-directed project on Vicarious Learning in elementary school children which will require my writing a final report detailing my observations and findings.

He’s fascinated and once I explain my thought process and ideas, enthusiastic. He gives me the go-ahead.

His name was Mr. Hazlett. He was one of my heros.

Not because he let me get out of cutting up dead frogs, for which I am eternally grateful. No, what made him a hero to me is that he A) too the time to listen to my fears and concerns and didn’t laugh me out of his office. B) He encouraged me to get creative and C) once I provided him my very creative solution, he took me seriously and let me learn through my own vicarious learning process.

And that’s what makes someone a hero.

It’s not because they have all the answers. They seldom do. But rather, because they trust themselves to know what’s true for them, and trust others to find their own answers. Rather than believing they ‘make it happen’, heroes see themselves as conduits to each of us becoming our own hero.  They’re activators.

Real heroes shine, a little, or sometimes big, lights and in their illumination, let us find our own way, safe in the knowledge they’ll be there to support us if we need them.

But they never do it for you. Heroes believe in you and through their actions, ignite our own courage to do better, create better, be better reflections of ourselves, in every situation.

Like Mr. Hazlett. Sure, he could have forced me to take the course work (and many probably think he should have) but in his willingness to allow me to carve my own path, he taught me more than cutting up dead frogs ever could have.

He taught me how to apply my creative thinking in innovative ways. The self-study course I developed put me in grade 2 classrooms for the entire semester working with the kids on ‘self-awareness’ learning through play.

He taught me the value of independent thinking. My self-study course was outside the box of normal coursework — it worked for me, and Mr. Hazlett.

He also taught me the value of taking the longview. My self-study course meant I had to map out my program for the entire year! I also had to prepare monthly reports and defend it in front of a panel of teachers when I defended my final report — I had to plan all that out at the beginning of the year and then, stay the course. Great lessons in accountability and commitment too.

Looking back on that encounter, and other hero encounters in my life, each one taught me that it’s not showing you the easy path that makes someone a hero, it’s how they light up your world so you can find your own hero within.

Because that’s what heroes do.

They do the hard things, and in their actions, teach us how to stand up, fight for what we believe is right, and be our own hero in all kinds of weather.

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Today is the second annual Circles of Hope sponsored by Inn from the Cold, the family emergency shelter and housing organization I work for.  I am excited to spend the day immersed in conversations about heroes.  How we are all heroes in someone’s life. How we can be a hero in a child’s life. How heroes are vital to creating better in our world.

Who are you when you’re sharing your hero self?

Who are some of your 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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Life is an act of creation.

When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.  Pablo Picasso

When I was a child, my sister and I spent hours re-enacting scenes from our favourite movies. Gone with the Wind. The Parent Trap. We knew all the characters, all the parts and we each had our favourites.

It didn’t matter that our stage was a stretch of lawn or that Tara was a sheet draped over a tree or that we each had to play three or four different parts, differentiating the characters only through our voices as we didn’t have time to change wardrobe —  we didn’t really have any wardrobe to change into anyway. This was a low budget reproduction — very creative, just not very accurate.

But none of that mattered. What mattered most was that we spent the time together. Laughing. Sharing. Creating.

When I was a child, I liked to draw. To sing and dance and to play piano. I liked to write and make up stories. To play dolls and the now politically incorrect, “Cowboys and Indians”.

It didn’t matter to me what the game or activity. What mattered most was that I was being creative. Expressing myself through arts of all nature.

And then, I grew up.

I still liked to write. To create. To make something out of nothing.

But the tone was different. There was something lacking in my creation.

I kept thinking it needed ‘A Purpose.’

To create for creation sake just didn’t seem to be viable, make sense, have meaning. If I was painting, there needed to be a reason. If I was writing, there needed to be an audience. And, if I was dancing, there needed to be ‘the right steps’.

I’ve grown beyond those ‘grown-up’ days of believing I need ‘A Purpose’ to my art. I’ve grown beyond thinking there are right steps, wrong moves, perfect brushstrokes or perfectly turned phrases.

I’ve grown into being me. Creatively. Expressively. Passionately.

Today, I know that at my core I am a creative being. That life is an act of creation.

Today, I express myself in ways that fulfill on my belief, and need, to create beauty in the world around me.

Today, I let go of the right steps and move with grace and ease into being each step I take to create beauty in the world around me.

There’s freedom in each movement. Freedom in being my creative self.

And, there’s joy in knowing every breath I take is an act of creation. Every step I take is an expression of the beauty I want to create in the world.

May we all create beauty, joy, kindness, peace and love in the world today.

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Long day yesterday. Early meeting today.

And I slept in.

Just a bit…. but enough to not have enough time to write a new post.

So… I’m sharing one of my favourites which I wrote on July 21, 2012. It’s from my original blog — Recover Your Joy.


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Maybe this growing up thing is working!

We had 6 ‘trick-or-treaters’ at our new home last night.

Fortunately, in an effort to trick myself into not eating the treats we had ready to hand out to the hordes (we were hopeful), I’d bought a box of treats that are not my favourite. When it comes to mini-sized packs of chocolate Halloween treats, I can’t always trust myself not to dive in. Twizzlers and Nibs?  I can take ’em or leave ’em.

I left ’em. Though C.C. was pleased to have a bedtime snack all to himself!

In this case, self-awareness (and experience) trumped the need to trust myself. I removed the temptation and I was safe on the eve of Trick-or-Treat!

I used to believe that the best way to ‘fix’ myself was to make a resolve and then not set myself up for success. Like, make a decision to not eat chocolate for a period of time but don’t ensure there’s no chocolate in the house to tempt me.

The mind wants what the mind wants. And often, my mind’s desires are not connected to my body’s needs. Not because my mind doesn’t know what’s best for me, but rather, because my thinking gets messed up in dark and dingy pathways that don’t necessarily lead me to the ‘right thing to do’ for myself but rather, the more familiar, easier things to do are often the path of least resistance.

I am what I think. In the face of thinking about what I’m resisting, resistance to change persists. And when I top that with ease of access to the thing I’m resisting, I need increased willpower to override both natural resistance and thoughts of what I’ve told myself I cannot have. In the midst of what my brain has labelled as my ‘deprivation’, withholding from myself the thing I want that may not be good for me but I’m convinced I need, my ability to employ resistance is impeded.

Whew! Now that’s a heady, convoluted mindmap!

But think about it.

You make a decision to lose weight. You have a food plan all worked out. You are Committed. 

You’re doing great!  Two days in and you haven’t broken your resolve once. But man, if only you could quiet your thinking about what you can’t have and just stay focused on the benefits of losing weight and how good you’ll feel at the end.

And then, you have a bad day at work, or an argument with a loved one or something goes wrong, like your car breaks down and needs some expensive repairs. You forget your carefully prepared lunch at home and decide to go to your favourite deli for a salad. Except, when you’re standing at the counter about to give your order, the words come out of your mouth despite the little voice in the back of your mind whispering, “Don’t do it.”  you say, “I’ll have a cheese burger with all the fixin’s. And what the heck, an order of fries on the side.”

What happened?

In simple terms, ‘the critter’ was acting out. Your rational mind knows there’s no connection between the things that have gone on and your diet. It knows you ‘should have’ ordered the salad with the dressing on the side even!

But… you deserve a break today!

Or so the critter tells you. And the critter is always convinced he knows best because heck! He’s only trying to protect you!

He gets scared when things don’t go as planned, and diets always make him worry about famines and starvation and feeling less than full. He’s convinced you needed something to make you feel better because I mean, think about it! Look at all the stuff going on. Just for today, (you’ll have carrot sticks for dinner) it’s okay to break the fast. You deserve it! And what better way to give yourself a pick-me-up than with your favourite — a burger and fries. Because in the world of the critter, giving in to temptation trumps standing steadfast in your resolve. And the pathway to giving in tends to be stronger than the road to shoring up your resolve if only because, in the mind of the critter, resolve takes more work – and you already work hard enough! right?

I didn’t buy a box of mini-chocolate Halloween treats this year.

It was a win/win.

I don’t have to tempt myself with things I know I don’t need, and I don’t have to convince myself not to give in to my thoughts of why I deserve them!

Whew!

Maybe this growing up thing is working!

Namaste.

Oh, and belated Happy Halloween!

.

 

 

 


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I begin again. Learning to fly.

They said climb too high, you will fall.
She fell, again and again, and learned how to fly.  Mixed media on water colour paper, 11″ x 14″   ©2017 Louise Gallagher

A friend who was to call with an update on a project we are working on together doesn’t call.

I try to reach her. No answer.

Silently, worry slips in before I have a chance to gently  whisper to my mind… Stop. Patience. All will be as all is meant to be. (my mantra to myself to quell unnecessary worry and spiraling thinking)

I catch myself falling into worry.

Stop. What is beneath the surface of this worry? I ask myself.

I listen carefully for my heart’s answer.

The truth awakens and rises up to my mind’s quest to understand.

It is part of a limiting belief that surfaces when I am not being present.

It is old. It is primordial. It is limiting.

In a course I took some time ago, I uncovered a limiting belief I held within me. It did not serve me well, but it existed nonetheless, in the nether-lands of my mind. That belief was —  I do not trust the Universe.

Actually, that belief is beyond limiting, it is self-defeating and imposes a world of distrust in everyone, everything and every happening in my world.

Sure, I realized, on the surface, I trust…

On the surface.

Below that? well… let’s just say there was this little critter who took great joy in  whispering to me in the dark, undermining my being present no matter the situation… Don’t trust! Don’t trust!  Dive for cover. They’re out to get you. Get out of sight. Don’t be vulnerable!”

It liked to say other things too. Like… right, they say they love you but what they really mean is, “I love you as long as you do things and act in ways I approve of.” “Don’t disappoint me.” “Who are you kidding? You don’t deserve love.” and on and on the critter slithered through my psyche.

“We only see beauty if we practice,” writes Christine Valters Paintner, Abbey of the Arts Abbess.

At the time of identifying this limiting belief, I committed to unearthing it, to showing it the light of day and setting it free.

It has been a journey.

One step forward, and another and another, a slip and then to begin again.

This morning, as I felt the worry slither in with its whispers of limiting beliefs longheld no longer needed, I see beauty in my worry. I see the beauty of my limiting belief and I see the beauty within it. For within it, beneath the surface of its limitations is the full and encompassing power of embracing it in Love and knowing, the universe trusts me and in my reflection I am the trust, I become the trust, I have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Fear is at the base of my worry. Fear of disappointment. Fear of failure. Fear of looking stupid, ridiculous, of being conned, of being misguided, of trusting another for fear they will let me down.

No one can let me down when I trust in the Universe and gravity to hold me up.

I cannot fall down when I trust myself to let go and surrender into Love.

Letting go now.

I begin again.

Learning to fly.