Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Definitely feelin’ like the sun will come up (Daily intention)

Have you ever noticed how sometimes, you just can’t help but feel irritated by the actions of the people around you? How, no matter how hard you try, ‘they’ just can’t seem to get it right.

In those moments where I’m feeling like there’s something wrong with the rest of the world, I breathe. Deeply. Say quietly, “Forgive them. Bless them.  Forgive me. Bless me.”

Yesterday, our contractor who I thought was arriving in the morning to paint and do some minor repairs told me when I called to check on when they were coming that he thought they were supposed to come today.

Of course, I know I’m right. I know that we committed to yesterday.

Being right doesn’t make me feel happy, especially when he thinks he’s right in his dates too.

Nor does being right give me peace of mind. It only leaves me feeling frustrated. And while we are on a tight timeline — the house gets photographed and listed on Friday — there isn’t much sense in letting my frustration froth over to create an air of discord between myself and the people I am relying on to help us get the house in shape.

It is possible — he was confused about timing. That’s what he told me happened.

I have a choice.

To accept his ‘truth’ as fact. Or not.

Either way, he won’t be here to start the work until today.

When I hold onto ‘he’s wrong’ thinking, I hold myself in that space between where my side of the conversation is the only one that counts. Accepting we both have our positions, without judging who’s right or wrong, frees me of anger, frustration, angst.

In accepting what is, I create room for both of us to be present with what is real right now — he and his partner will be here today to do the work.

I am manifesting what I want to create in the world — a smooth transition from one home to the next. A successful sale of this home that is effortless and filled with ease, and a grace-filled move into our new home.

The universe is with me.

There is no wrong nor right way to do this part. There is only the way that is happening now.

Yup.

It’s working.

I’m feelin’ like the sun will come up and the day will be bright and all will be well in my world!

Now, if I could just wiggle my nose, click the heels of my ruby red shoes together and say Abracadabra! the move will be over, the house will be sold and we’ll be living on easy street!

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Yup. definitely feelin’ it! 🙂

How’s your world looking today?

 

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Finding joy in the now

I am getting close.

Close to done.

Close to being able to stop clearing, decluttering, cleaning.

It’s about time!

Our house is listed. The photographer comes Thursday to capture it for the MLS listing that goes up Friday.

And then…. it’s all about keeping it looking like no one lives in it!

I am searching for the joy in that! 🙂

There is something joyful about cleaning out closets and countertops. About gifting to a homeless shelter dishes and towels and other assorted items that are in good repair, but superfluous to us.

Today, the contractor arrives to do some finishing touches — including a bit of painting.

And through it all, I have consciously chosen to not think about ‘the work’, but to focus on choosing to do this work for the benefits.

“I choose to for the benefit of…”

It is one of the simple tools I learned at Choices Seminars 11 and a half years when I first went through the program.

Rather than think about how hard it is, how tiring, how everything… I focus on the benefits.

And the benefits of cleaning out the house are many!

There are moments though when I wonder, why on earth do we have so much stuff?

In those moments, I make a commitment to myself to live my Be. Do. Have.

It’s an old Dale Carnegie teaching and one that is also taught at Choices.

BE committed to DO what it takes to HAVE what you want.

I am committed to getting this house ready to be photographed Friday.

I will do whatever I have to so that it is ready and so that prospective buyers can’t resist owning this lovely place.

And that includes doing the things I”m not all that fond of doing — like throwing out old magazines (do you know how many possibilities I can think of to use old magazine photos in collage and art pieces? Yup — countless!). Giving away once treasured items I no longer use. Packing up the things I want to keep but don’t use every day so that as my girlfriend Tamz said yesterday when she dropped over for a visit, “people can imagine themselves and their things in your house without being distracted by your stuff.”

Minimize. Minimize. Minimize.

Part of my Be. DO. HAVE. is to not Criticize. Condemn. or Complain. (Another Choices tool)

Complaining about having to do the work does not get the work done faster, nor slower — but it does increase my pain threshold while doing it.

Criticizing C.C. for being on a boy’s weekend to watch football in Atlanta also doesn’t help — it is an annual trek he takes with a buddy. They pick a city in the U.S and go for four days college and pro games. They began planning it in July, long before we decided to sell the house. 🙂

Which is why consciously choosing to find the joy in the now, in whatever I’m doing, is vital to getting through this part of the journey calm, centered and collected — and still married to my beloved! 🙂

One thing that has surprised and pleased me through doing all this work — is discovering my body is a whole lot stronger than I think. And that’s another Choices tool:

Find the value in all things.

There is so much value to be found in doing this work and one of the most treasured — the anticipation and excitement of moving into our new home!

Minus a bunch of stuff!

Have a wonderful, joyful day.

___________________

Choices Seminars begins this Wednesday and while I won’t be there, the value I’ve found in using the tools everyday is indescribable.  It’s changed my life. There’s still time to sign up if you’re interested in taking, ‘An Adventure of Your Lifetime!”


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The Poet Boy Remembered

Remembrance Day. Lest we forget. Let us  not forget.

Their sacrifice. Their honour. Their duty to country. Their names.

Let us not forget.

My father went off to war when he was a boy. He went off and fought and came home and seldom spoke of those years again.

The following is the unedited version of a shorter Op-Ed I wrote that was published in the Calgary Herald several years ago. I share it here in memory of my father, and all the sons and daughters, boys and girls, men and women, who have gone off to war to never return. I share it here to remind me to never forget my father who was once a poet boy.

The Poet Boy

When the poet boy was sixteen, he lied about his age and ran off to war. It was a war he was too young to understand. Or know why he was fighting. When the guns were silenced and the victors and the vanquished carried off their dead and wounded, the poet boy was gone. In his stead, there stood a man. An angry man. A wounded man. The man who would become my father.

By the time of my arrival, the final note in a quartet of baby-boomer children, the poet boy was deeply buried beneath the burden of an unforgettable war and the dark moods that permeated my father’s being with the density of storm clouds blocking the sun. Occasionally, on a holiday or a walk in the woods, the sun would burst through and signs of the poet boy would seep out from beneath the burden of the past. Sometimes, like letters scrambled in a bowl of alphabet soup that momentarily made sense of a word drifting across the surface, images of the poet boy appeared in a note or a letter my father wrote me. For that one brief moment a light would be cast on what was lost and then suddenly, with the deftness of a croupier sweeping away the dice, the words would disappear as the angry man came sweeping back with the ferocity of winter rushing in from the north.

I spent my lifetime looking for the words that would make the poet boy appear, but time ran out when my father’s heart gave up its fierce beat to the silence of eternity. It was a massive coronary. My mother said he was angry when the pain hit him. Angry, but unafraid. She wasn’t allowed to call an ambulance. She wasn’t allowed to call a neighbor. He drove himself to the hospital and she sat helplessly beside him. As he crossed the threshold of the emergency room, he collapsed, never to awaken again. In his death, he was lost forever, leaving behind my anger for which I had no words.

On Remembrance Day, ten years after his death, I went in search of my father at the foot of the memorial to an unnamed soldier that stands in the middle of a city park. A trumpet played “Taps”. I stood at the edge of the crowd and fingered the felt of the bright red poppy I held between my thumb and fingers. It was a blustery day. A weak November sunshine peaked out from behind sullen grey clouds.  Bundled up against the cold, the crowd, young and old, silently approached the monument and placed their poppies on a ledge beneath the soldier’s feet.

I stood and watched and held back.

I wanted to understand the war. I wanted to find the father who might have been had the poet boy not run off to fight “the good war” as a commentator had called it earlier that morning on the radio. Where is the good in war, I wondered? I thought of soldiers falling, mother’s crying and anger never dying. I thought of the past, never resting, always remembered and I thought of my father, never forgotten. The poet boy who went to war and came home an angry man. In his anger, life became the battlefield upon which he fought to retain some sense of balance amidst the memories of a world gone mad.

Perhaps it is as George Orwell wrote in his novel, Nineteen Eighty-four:

“The very word ‘war’, therefore, has become misleading.  It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist… War is Peace.”

For my father, anger became the peacetime of his world until his heart ran out of time and he lost all hope of finding the poetry within him.

There is still time for me.

On that cold November morning, I approach the monument. I stand at the bottom step and look at the bright red poppies lining the gun metal grey of the concrete base of the statue. Slowly, I take the first step up and then the second. I hesitate then reach forward and place my poppy amongst the blood red row lined up along the ledge.

I wait. I don’t want to leave. I want a sign. I want to know my father sees me.

I turn and watch a white-haired grandfather approach, his gloved right hand encasing the mitten covered hand of his granddaughter. Her bright curly locks tumble from around the edges of her white furry cap. Her pink overcoat is adorned with little white bunnies leaping along the bottom edge. She skips beside him, her smile wide, blue eyes bright.

They approach the monument, climb the few steps and stop beside me. The grandfather lets go of his granddaughter’s hand and steps forward to place his poppy on the ledge.  He stands for a moment, head bowed. The little girl turns to me, the poppy clasped between her pink mittens outstretched in front of her.

“Can you lift me up?” she asks me.

“Of course,” I reply.

I pick her up, facing her towards the statue.

Carefully she places the poppy in the empty spot beside her grandfather’s.

I place her gently back on the ground.

She flashes me a toothy grin and skips away to join her grandfather where he waits at the foot of the monument. She grabs his hand.

“Do you think your daddy will know which one is mine?” she asks.

The grandfather laughs as he leads her back into the gathered throng.

“I’m sure he will,” he replies.

I watch the little girl skip away with her grandfather. The wind gently stirs the poppies lining the ledge. I feel them ripple through my memories of a poet boy who once stood his ground and fell beneath the weight of war.

My father is gone from this world. The dreams he had, the promises of his youth were forever lost on the bloody tide of war that swept the poet boy away.  In his passing, he left behind a love of words born upon the essays and letters he wrote me throughout the years. Words of encouragement. Of admonishment. Words that inspired me. Humored me. Guided me. Touched me. Words that will never fade away.

I stand at the base of the monument and look up at the soldier mounted on its pedestal.  Perhaps he was once a poet boy hurrying off to war to become a man. Perhaps he too came back from war an angry man fearful of letting the memories die lest the gift of his life be forgotten.

I turn away and leave my poppy lying at his feet. I don’t know if my father will know which is mine. I don’t know if poppies grow where he has gone. But standing at the feet of the Unknown Soldier, the wind whispering through the poppies circling him in a blood red river, I feel the roots of the poet boy stir within me. He planted the seed that became my life.

Long ago my father went off to war and became a man. His poetry was silenced but still the poppies blow, row on row. They mark the place where poet boys went off to war and never came home again.

The war is over. In loving memory of my father and those who fought beside him, I let go of anger. It is time for me to make peace.

 

 


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Forgetting to remember.

Dad Aug 1943 copyWhen the war came, my father set out to find it. He was living across the ocean in what was to become my homeland, Canada. But the war was important, he told me once. Britain was his homeland and all the young men were going. He figured he’d be okay. So he lied about his age and off he went to fight, for justice and peace, he said.

It was a lie. Not just the one he told about his age, but the other, bigger one, about being okay with fighting for what he believed in.

The war did not sit well with my father. He carried it with him and when he came home, he left justice and peace behind, and brought with him anger and pain instead.

My father seldom mentioned the war. He never spoke of what he saw, the things that hurt him, the regrets and sorrows he carried, the things he learned and wished he hadn’t. It was as if in the silencing of the guns, memory had to be silenced too.

I wondered about his memories. I wondered if that was where his anger came from. He wasn’t a violent man, but he was mercurial. One moment the world would be sunny and bright, the next a dark and seething storm would erupt and all you could do to avoid it was run for cover. I wondered if it was his unspoken memories that pushed him over the edge into darkness. I wondered if in not speaking of what happened, of what he saw, of what he felt, the pain could find no release except through anger.

Over the years, my father’s anger waned. Over the years, the memories he never spoke of dimmed, but my memory of his anger, his outbursts, his unpredictability stayed with me, even after he died.  

I wonder if his anger would never have found its home in his heart if he had found peace with memory.

I wonder if he’d ever known that love is greater than anger because it is the only thing that can catch us when we fall.

It is time. Time to let go of memory and fall fearlessly into Love.

Falling Into Love

©2017 Louise Gallagher

She clung
like a leaf
never giving in
to the fall

She held on
like a barnacle
clinging to
a whale’s back diving
in and out
in and out

She hoped
every fall
every dive
into memory
she would forget
how to cling
and fall free
to dive in
to her life calling.

One day, she dove
too deep and forgot
to hold on

Letting go
she fell in
to the ONE thing
she had forgotten
would always be there
to catch her
when she fell
LOVE.

 


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Circles of Hope — We must share

Photography by Mary Hone

It is 2am and I can’t sleep.

I don’t know if I’m still buzzed from the amazingness that was Circles of Hope yesterday, or if I’m just so emotionally exhausted even sleep can’t find space to turn up.

It was an amazing day.

Full house.

Incredible speakers and a team that made the entire thing look flawless and effortless.

Beyond the day however, is the emotional space created in sharing this journey with my eldest daughter. Of sitting with her and talking about the story of the past, our fears and sorrows and how to tell the story so that it not only inspires but reminds people that they are not alone.

Last night, I received an email from one of the attendees. They hadn’t planned on coming to the event, but a change in their schedule gave them some free time.

Being a parent myself and going through some personal challenges, I was incredibly moved. I left feeling a healing sensation after hearing you two speak. I knew I needed to attend, if only for a portion, today and the words of you and your daughter were that reason.
Their words reaffirm my belief in why it is so important to share our stories. They remind us that this journey we’re on is our collective human story. We are not alone, we are part of our shared human condition.
Being alone is a silent place. For me, believing I was alone in my fear kept me silent. My silence kept me trapped.
Yesterday, as Alexis and I stood at the front of the room and shared the words we’d worked so hard to create together to tell this story that is both so ugly and beautiful, I felt encompassed by something greater than just the two of us telling a story to the audience. I felt safe.
It was stunning moment — to feel safe in our vulnerability. To feel safe in our exposing of the wounds that once cut so deep I didn’t want to live.
To heal, to move beyond the trauma of the past, we must share our stories.
Yesterday, my eldest daughter and I shared our story. It is not the story of our lives. It is a story about a time in our lives when we were lost.
But as Alexis said in her closing remarks,

I too want to give my son the world. And though it may be a world in which I won’t always be able to protect him –  from others, from my mistakes, or from himself, I will teach him, as my mother has taught me, that together we can stand in the circle, no matter how broken, and know that love is the home we can always come back to.

______________________
And I want to give a shout out to the amazing Mary Hone and her photography and beautiful heart. On Monday, after reading my blog, she emailed to ask if she could the final phrase of my part of our presentation in a photograph.
What she sent me is stunning. It not only captures the sentiment of the words, its beauty creates a sense of wonder and awe, peace and hope.
Thank you Mary.  What a beautiful gift to have my words resonate within you so strongly you create something beautiful in their expression through your art in a way that says so much more than just the words.
My heart is overflowing with gratitude — and you are one of its many blessings.

______________________

(and yes, I did schedule this to post at a more decent, and humane, hour of the morning!  And as always happens when I write it out, I can now go to bed and go to sleep)

Namaste


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At Home in Our Hearts

There is an old saying, “practice makes perfect.”

But what if it’s not about ‘perfection’? What if the quest for perfection detracts from the value of practice?

In practice, if I am constantly striving for perfection, I lose sight of the joy of taking the journey, of being present to possibility.

Striving for perfection, I begin to believe there is a finite endpoint at which there will be no room for growth or improvement, or even change. I’ll be perfect so there’s nothing else to do.

Then the quest becomes about perfecting whatever I’m doing, versus, the joy of being immersed in whatever I’m doing, continuously improving and evolving my art, my story-telling, my writing, my voice…

One thing I am definitely learning as I work with my eldest daughter on our presentation for Circles of Hope, (which happens tomorrow! have you got your ticket?) is the fact that perfection is the killer of two things that are vital in my life:

Joy.     Intimacy.

I can’t be real and perfect at the same time. My view of ‘perfection’ is subjective. When I reach that place where I believe, I’m perfect, there’s no room for another view, different ideas, other perspectives. And without being open to another’s voice, another’s heart-truth, there’s only room for that ole’ joy killer, perfection.

My daughter and I may not be perfect in our presentation tomorrow — that’s not our goal. Our desire is to speak from our hearts. Real. Honest. Vulnerable.

As we’ve been practicing together she has reminded me many times to breathe. To let the words become embodied in my being… present.

To let them sink down from my head into my body and heart.

And that can’t happen when I’m focused on getting them, just right or appearing to be perfect.

Being one with the words can only happen when I stay present in the now, breathe into being conscious, aware and heart-driven in what I am saying.

The words of this story have come from our hearts. They’ve come from a place of deep intimacy, a willingness to be real with each other, and a desire to share our story in a way that will touch hearts and open minds to the possibility that on the other side of trauma, loss, grief, is this place we can always come back to. This vulnerable, beautiful and grace-filled space where we are always at home in our hearts.

Namaste