Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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And the Moon Beamed

Journal Entry, Wednesday, July 30, 2014  Mixed media on watercolour paper

Journal Entry, Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Mixed media on watercolour paper

And The Moon Beamed

©2014 Louise Gallagher

Patience dear ones, the moon whispered to the stars. It will come to pass. The sun will slip into dusk and your time to shine will come, but first, you must learn to shine in the light of day believing in your own magnificence. one night, the whole world will see the brilliance of your light. But for now, you must practice patience.

And the sun shone, and the moon beamed and the stars twinkled knowing their night would come.

And then, it came to pass that the sun fell into night’s seductive embrace and the stars came out and played Twinkle, Twinkle upon the velvety blanket of night delighting in the lightness of being all that they were born to be in the light of day.

And they shone. Bright.

And the world turned and the sun slept and the moon beamed down upon the earth wrapped in eternity’s embrace.

See my dear ones, whispered the moon to the glittering stars. There is no need to be anything other than what you are born to be. Brilliantly bright and magnificent.

Shine dear ones. Shine.

_________________

As you can see, I wrote this brief story in response to the image I created at a workshop in 2014.

It is a reminder to me to remember, no matter how grim the world-tidings appear, there is always magic and wonder, awe and grace in our world.


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When the road looks hard, look up!

Have you ever noticed how even in the midst of what feels like turmoil and strife, there is always beauty?

I have been focused on navigating a challenging situation that requires compassion, finesse and a deep understanding of how to respond to unhealthy comments meant to cause pain and suffering. Yesterday, the situation escalated and by the end of the day, my entire body felt drained. I was done.

When I got home from work, I took Beaumont for a walk and then curled up in the settee by the window that overlooks the river to read. I’m reading, Stones for Schools, a self-reporting book about one man’s journey to change the world one school at a time.

But it isn’t the book, or Greg Mortenson’s story of his travels throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan as he negotiated the building of schools that captivated me. It is the controversy around his retelling of the story and some of his actions subsequent to the books publishing that make me smile in wonderment of the ways of the universe.

See, back in 2011 or so, there were a lot of allegations suggesting Greg Mortenson mishandled the finances of his charity which was building the schools, as well as fabricating events and naming people in his photos inappropriately. 60 Minutes did an expose on him and his charity. It was damaging and reading some of the articles, sad. That such a powerful idea could be tarnished through such mis-management is tragic. Yet, for all his transgressions, the schools still stand, young girls in places where young girls were not educated, are being schooled.

I do not know the truth of Greg Mortenson’s actions, but I do know the truth of what is happening in my world.

I think about the situation I am dealing with and everything falls into perspective. I feel the stress and sadness lift. I find myself looking up to the sky, remembering the power of asking the Divine, the Universe, God, Allah, Yaweh, a power greater than me, to carry the burden so that I can do the work, here on the ground, to deal with what is in front of me.

It is something I learned 14 years ago when I was released from a relationship that was killing me. My life was in shambles. I was broke and broken. Everyday I would walk with my trustee Golden Retriever, Ellie the Wonder Pooch, in the woods beyond my sister and brother-in-law’s home where I was living. I wasn’t in search of answers as much as I was in search of distraction, and being amidst nature is a surefire way to distract me.

Amidst the towering pines and firs of the forest at the edge of the ocean I would lift my eyes to the blue sky high above and ask God to carry the burden of the shame, sorrow, sadness, grief, fear I was carrying. With the burden lifted by an unseen hand or hands, I felt strong and determined enough to do the next right thing and take each step towards well-being, day by day.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of believing that ‘now is forever’. That whatever turmoil and strife we are facing will never end.

Fact is, it does and, even in the midst of the turmoil, we do not have to carry or feel like we own, its weight. We can release the burden and work through the fracas to do what we know is right and best, light of heart and step, by looking up and remembering ‘Now is not forever. This too shall pass.’ And in its moving through, when we hold onto our values, our integrity, our truth, we free ourselves to do the right things for the right reasons in the right way.

Lightened of the burden, with our values guiding us, and our hearts wide open to Love, even the fiercest tempests cannot blow out our light.

Namaste.

 


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Changing a habit is hard. I can do it!

I am working on changing a habit.

It’s hard.

I like sleeping on my stomach. It’s something I’ve done most of my life, even after a C-Section!

My back hates it. I mean really hates it.

Sleeping on my stomach is a sure way to give my sciatica free reign.

I need to change the habit.

Problem is, I often roll over in my sleep only to wake up when the familiar deep ache in my lower back gets so painful, it wakes me up.

Rolling back over isn’t easy. I need to move with care to ensure I don’t A) scream out in pain and awaken C.C., Beaumont and Marley the Great Cat.  B) my lower back doesn’t lock up.

So, I’ve devised a method to keep myself from rolling onto my stomach while conscious and asleep.

First, as I get ready for bed, I tell myself how much benefit there is sleeping on my back or side. I do this for a long time. Every time the critter sneaks in and whispers, “But you can’t go to sleep if you’re not lying on your stomach”, I face him square on and say gently, “It’s okay. You’re just afraid of change. I can do this.” And then I do it. (Yeah my team!)

Second, as I get into bed, I turn on the heating pad and place it behind my back — the warmth keeps me in place and helps me fall asleep. (My heating pad shuts off after half an hour. It’s the perfect gateway to falling asleep.)

Third, when I wake up during the night, and find myself still on my back or side, I turn the heating pad back on. It’s preventative.

So, why am I telling you all this?  Because changing a habit in one area opens the door for other changes too.

And if you’re like me, there are areas of your life where some of your habits don’t really add up to a whole lot of positive influence on your happiness and well-being.

Like, playing Spider Solitaire every night when I get into bed. I’d much rather be reading a book, but I’ve acquired this habit of reaching for my IPad…

Time to apply some habit changing karma to my night time routine. Because, quite frankly, if I can change a lifelong habit of sleeping on my stomach, some piddly little thing like Spider Solitaire is a piece a cake.

Eons ago, Socrates wrote, “The soul, like the body, accepts by practice whatever habit one wishes it to contact.”

And that’s the thing about changing a habit. Our minds, bodies and souls are engaged in keeping the good, and the unhealthy ones, in place.

To change one, we must begin with putting it in contact with something different — like my heating pad for my back.

For me, beginning with a habit where the stakes are high (I dislike being in my body when my back is out) has given me the momentum and the courage to start looking at other habits that, while perhaps not as debilitating as my stomach sleeping habit, are not having a positive effect on my life and well-being.

In shifting my stomach sleeping habit, I have proven to myself, I CAN do it. I can take on a hard task and make change happen for the better.

I’ve also shown myself that changing a habit from ‘bad’ to ‘good’ reaps benefits — my back is not as sore in the mornings and it’s much easier to get out of bed too!

Do you have a habit you need/want to change? What’s your secret to making it happen?


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Happy Birthday Nan! You are Magnificent!

Years ago, when I desperately needed a friend but was too scared to reach out, she never faltered. She was there.

Even when my friendship cost her dearly. Even when she knew I was running scared, running away, running into disaster, she was always there. Willing to listen, to pick me up, to give me love and care, support and kindness.

Today, Nan R is celebrating her birthday.

I don’t see as much of her as I’d like to these days. Work. Life. Different circles have diminished our time together, but not the love and gratitude I carry in my heart for this amazing friend whose concern for me once made me lie to her about leaving the man who was trying to kill me.

It was towards the end of my journey through that hell, just before the man and I disappeared for 4 months. She was convinced he was a psychopath. Showed me all sorts of evidence to prove he was. Her love and concern for me felt so heavy on my heart. I couldn’t tell her how undeserving of her care I felt. How empty.

I also couldn’t tell her I was so lost in his abuse, I couldn’t leave him. When she asked me to promise to leave him, I promised her I would.

I broke that promise. Instead, when he told me we had to leave the city and I couldn’t tell anyone where we were going, I silently went with him.

Months later, it was her call to the police that lead to his arrest and my freedom.

It was her home I came back to visit the first time I returned to the city.

It was her love that carried me through those first difficult and challenging months of trying to find myself again after his abuse.

She never judged me, blamed me, shamed me. She always accepted and loved me.

It is her way.

My friend Nan turns another year older today. And while the number of her years on earth may have changed, what has never changed is the incredible beauty and loving kindness that she shares so generously from her heart. What remains constant is the incredible capacity she has to make everyone feel special, cared for and honoured.

No matter the time or season, Nan creates beauty all around. And while she may not talk about her gifts, she is a talented designer, poet, writer, singer, mother, grandmother, sister and friend. She’s funny. Smart. Quick witted. She is a magnificent human being.

I am so grateful for you my friend. Thank you for your enduring friendship. The laughter, tears, good times, and not so good times too! Thank you for always being the one I can call no matter the time or gap between our visits to ask, “How about a cup of tea?” Thank you for being such a beautiful light, that even when I didn’t believe I deserved it, I knew your love never dimmed. Thank you for being you!

Happy Birthday Nan!

 


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The Beloved.

Richard Rohr writes in his daily column today that psychologists have determined that there is no such thing as ‘an infant’. That in essence, it is an infant/caregiver. For the first several months of life, the infant only sees the world as mirrored through their caregivers eyes. They are one and the same.

Rohr, quotes historian, Morris Berman, who writes in Coming to Our Senses, that our first experience of life is not merely a visual or audio one of knowing ourselves through other people’s facial and verbal responses; it is primarily felt in the body. He calls this feeling kinesthetic knowing. We know ourselves in the security of those who hold us, skin to skin. This early knowing is not so much heard, seen, or thought. It’s felt.

Last night, my beloved and I shared some Facetime with our grandson, Thurlow. At almost two months of age, he has grown considerably (almost double his birth weight) and is much more alert and active as he moves further from being a preemie to infant state. When he was born, my daughter and son-in-love spent lots of skin to skin time with him, reassuring him of his connection, imprinting his belonging into his body knowing.

I am in awe of my daughter as she moves with such grace into this place called, being a mother.  I am also in awe of the transformative power of love. It isn’t just that Thurlow sees the world through the eyes of infant/caregiver, it is that my daughter is seeing her son through the same eyes and they are one. In their oneness is the magnificence of our human condition shimmering in the divine essence of our human nature and its natural affinity to Love.

No one human on this earth is born separate. We are all born of our mother’s bodies. Yet, many are deprived of experiencing the mystical power of oneness of those first few months of life on earth.

A host of human afflictions can circumvent the infant/caregiver bond. Poverty, war, abuse, trauma, the turmoils of life in a divisive world, all of this can play a role in our not experiencing the body knowing of oneness that is foundational to our feeling the truth of our identity: We are beloved. Cast adrift too soon, separated from our oneness with the one who carried us into this world, we flounder, bereft, searching for a way to heal the brokenness we cannot name because we never experienced what it meant to not be separate in those first foundational months of life on earth.

I watch my daughter and son-in-love express their love and oneness with my grandson last night. I am in awe. I am grateful. No matter what turmoil, hardship, roadblocks, or strife life may put on his path, he will always know, deep within his body, the truth of his identify; he is beloved. And while his journey will include necessary separateness from his parents, the deep knowing of his oneness will always sustain him, always bring him home to the truth.

What a beautiful gift of life.

_______________

Photo Source  

 

 


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What do you do when faced with an overwhelming task?

I unpacked some more this weekend.

I didn’t want to. I want it done. Finished.

The only way to get to ‘done’ is to do the work.

So I unpacked.

My studio space downstairs became the repository for the movers to put all the boxes not marked ‘living room, master bedroom, kitchen, or dining room’.

There were a lot of boxes that fit that bill.

Since moving into our new home on March 12th, I have continually entered the soon to be studio space in search of mis-labelled boxes that might contain things I wanted. Like my Cappuccino machine, frying pans and other kitchen items. In the process, the boxes got moved about, partially unpacked, somewhat dishevelled looking.

This weekend, I decided to tackle the job.

It is a big job, which I kept putting off every time I entered the back room.

Ugh. My mind whispered. This room is overwhelming.

And I’d turn and walk away.

Not only does the room contain all the not yet unpacked boxes and pieces of furniture for which we have not yet found a home, it also contains some of the contractor’s tools, the old kitchen cabinets which I’ll use in the studio and extra wood from the renovation. As this room has a finished concrete floor, he used it for cutting and sanding wood, painting doors and other building activities.

Which means, though the contractor did sweep it out before the movers came, there is still lots of dust on the floor and pieces of wood lying about.

Yesterday, after completing everything I could upstairs and spending some time reading, walking Beaumont, and walking Beaumont again, I had no more excuses. I had to tackle the job.

I have begun. After working on it for six hours yesterday, the room looks a little less overwhelming and a lot more manageable.

In the days leading up to finally getting to work on the room, I let the size of the job overwhelm me. I looked at it in its entirety and didn’t see the possibility of tackling it in small, chewable steps.

Yesterday, though I worked on it for six hours total, I did it in three trenches of time, taking mini-breaks in-between each segment. In fact, my first stint at working on it was for an hour and a half. When a girlfriend came over for tea at 10 am, I took a break.

When she left at 11:30, I worked until 1:30 when Beaumont and I had a walk date with a neighbour.

By the time I returned to the room an hour and a half later, I felt refreshed and re-energized to tackle the job. I’d already made some headway and could see progress. It felt less daunting and I felt less overwhelmed. I counted the boxes I’d emptied, took out the garbage and packed up ‘the giveaways’ and reminded myself that organizing this room is a process of creating my studio space, a space in which I love to spend time.

And therein lies the secret of cleaning up the basement — it’s not about tackling an ugly job. It’s about creating a space for my creativity to have its voice. It’s about stepping into the task with an open heart and mind, knowing that it is all part of the process of creating my soon to be studio space.

I have begun to create the space for my studio. It is an exciting process. A process where I get to be part of designing the space that will be home to my creative expressions.

I am letting go of the angst of ‘cleaning up the basement’ and diving into the joy of building a space where I will feel free to explore my creativity and express myself.

I am loving the shift in attitude and perspective.

Which just goes to show, if you’ve got a big job to undertake, changing your glasses can give you a whole new outlook on getting it done!


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In an imperfect world can you forgive yourself for being imperfect?

No matter how much I forgive myself for the things I’ve done that have hurt the one’s I love, the thing I struggle with the most is forgiving myself for not being perfect.

It’s a not so subtle force, this desire to be perfect and to make the world around me perfect. Its constant yammering to do better, be better, make better of myself and everything I create in the world leaves me feeling dissatisfied and sometimes defeated by myself. Its constant wailing pounds away at my peace of mind, upsetting my sense of being at ease in the world.

In its strident calling out for justice, in its insistence that ‘this’ or ‘that’ do not belong in the world, in its labelling of human suffering and misdeeds as ‘wrong’, in its endless battling against one foe versus another, it denies the inescapable truth — everything belongs. It is all part of our human journey.

I cannot change the world. I can change my world by letting go of anger, fear, denial of what is, through acceptance of all that is when I accept, it all belongs.

Acceptance doesn’t mean I give up working towards change, towards justice and truth. It just means I stop railing against things I label as unjust and stand instead in all the imperfections knowing we are all perfectly human in all our human imperfections, and it’s all okay.

There are many ways to quieten my need for perfection; meditation, exercise, dance, creative endeavours, being in nature, yet still, it raises its persistent voice whenever I fall into the belief that I am separate from the world around me.

Fact is, my need for perfection keeps me separate through criticizing, condemning and blaming myself and others for what I have deemed ‘not belonging’ in the world.

It is in those moments that I must stop, breathe deeply, relax and forgive myself for my imperfections so that I can accept, it all belongs in my world, it is all okay.

It is in forgiveness I find peace within a deep sense of belonging.

What about you?  Are you continually judging yourself and the world around you, creating separation through striving to find perfection in our perfectly imperfect humanity?

Have you tried forgiving yourself in the beauty of your human imperfections?