Sequestered in Solitude

 

It is light outside when I awaken. Night has slipped away and I have slept through its departure.

Day has begun.

I am grateful.

For the past several mornings I have been unable to sleep beyond 4am. The days grow tiring with little sleep the night before.

Yesterday, I napped in the afternoon.

A gift. A respite. A welcome interlude in my day.

The rhythm of my day has not changed much with the ‘stay home’ order. Something has shifted within me though. It’s as though, without the freedom to come and go, a restlessness invades.  A teenage angst stirs. ‘No one tells me what to do’ the voice of years past declares inside my head.

And I want to heed it. I want to say, ‘Hell ya. You got that right.”

I ignore it.

It gets louder. “This is ridiculous. It won’t hurt just to go to the grocery store, or wander around the mall.

I keep ignoring it.

It doesn’t like that. It raises its voice. “You are such a goodie-two-shoes. You know, that’s what they called you in high school. Ya. Goodie-two-shoes. Little Miss I’m so perfect I don’t even know there’s another side of right called wrong.”

I catch myself thinking about stopping at the grocery store on the way home from the park with Beaumont.

I quit taking my wallet with me.

We have been sequestered in solitude for 21 days now. Ever since my mother’s celebration of life and our family members returned home. We dropped them off at the airport, drove home in separate vehicles and when my beloved and I walked back into the house we knew what we had to do. He has a medical condition that puts him at the top of the ‘at risk’ chart of potential suspects. We knew we had to stay home. We could not risk his health and well-being to this virus slithering through the shadows waiting to infiltrate through any crack in our defenses. It does not respect the sanctity of human life. We must take care.

And the teenaged angst rises up, “But you’re not sick. You’re just old and chicken.”

I ignore the sting of its words and its reminder of the fact I fit into the ‘seniors category’.

I’m still struggling with that one. It’s been one and a half years since I slipped over that societal border of middle age to senior. I like being a woman of this distinctive age, I just don’t like the label. Senior.

The teenager quickly grasps at this new opportunity to stick it to me, “If you weren’t so old you’d be out there doing things instead of sitting in here doing nothing.”

I want to refute its insistence I am doing nothing. I want to fight back. Ward off its declaration of my uselessness with words of my own. I want to set it straight.

And then I remember the advice I’d been given when my daughters were teens, “Do not fight back. Step closer.”

I take a gentle breath and step into the hard edges of my teenaged angst. “I hear you. I hear your fear. Your worry that the world will end and you will never get a chance to live. I hear you.”

The voice quietens. It stops to take in a breath and in that gap between words and breath, I wrap my arms around my own self and say, “It’s okay. You’re okay. You’re doing the right thing.”

And my teenage angst and I embrace one another and together, we cry.

It’s okay, I whisper to the one inside who wants to rise up and rail against all that is going on, all that it cannot change, all that it cannot do.  It’s okay.

And we cry. Together.

Tears are my prayer for well-being in all the world today. It is good to cry for the world. There is so little I can do to make it different. My tears are my offering that wash away my fear. In the cleansing wake of their falling, Love flows freely.

It’s okay.

That tightness in your chest. That restlessness. That angst and listlessness. It’s okay. It’s just fear crying out for release.

Where there is fear, love is also present. All you need to feel its gentle breath and healing touch is to let your tears wash away your fear so Love can flow freely.

Namaste.

__________________________________

It was one month ago today that my mother took her last breath.

On our family zoom call on Sunday, my sisters and daughters and I were talking about how grateful we are that we had that time with her. That her last days were not spent under the social distancing necessary to fight the spread of Covid-19.

We are so grateful.

This morning, my tears and prayers are for all those families who cannot be with their loved ones who lay in isolation, who cannot say good-bye, surrounded by their families and friends.

This morning, I light a candle and send you my prayers for peace and gentleness of heart so that you may stand, strong of back, as you weather your burdens of loss sequestered in solitude.

May peace be with you.

There ain’t no virtue in being a martyr

No. 59 #ShePersisted Series

When I was a little girl, I thought it was my job to make my mom happy.

I sucked at it.

Not understanding why she cried so much and why she sometimes threatened to take her own life in front of us children, I did everything I could to make her laugh, to (literally) take the knife out of her hand. Mostly I made her cry. I didn’t realize I was not responsible to lift the cloud of dark depression (which as a child I had no name for) that permeated her essence.

I wasn’t that powerful.

I tell you this because in times of extreme stress, and you gotta admit, this pandemic qualifies as that, those childhood messages can rear up and undermine our well-being, our sense of self, our way of being in the world, if we don’t get conscious of our own ‘stuff’.

We’ve got to take care of ourselves.

And part of good self-care is being conscious of the things we are doing, including the unconscious/buried/hidden internal messages our psyche’s are acting out on from our ‘lizard brains’, that do not serve us well in the here and now.

Like believing I could save my mom.

Over the years and circumstances of my life, that child’s thinking turned into an adult belief that it is my job to save the world. That there is something I need to be doing to raise civilization up, to stop the tears, the pain, the suffering. But, (and here’s the kicker) because I couldn’t do it as a child for my mom, I also have a darker side of that belief; the self-defeating, self-annihilating belief that, no matter what I do, it won’t matter. Because, and this is the child’s thinking infiltrating my adult mind which knows it isn’t true but struggles in times of stress to soothe the child’s cries of, “I don’t matter”. “Why bother?” “Whatever I do won’t make a difference anyway.”

Now, I have spent my adult life working on healing those childhood wounds and fears. As Virginia Slims ads used to say, “You’ve come a long way baby”.  But, just like the virtues of the cigarettes those ads used to extoll, in times of distress, we are all at risk of falling back to default positions in order to cope. For me, one of those defaults is the good old depressing, martyr’s role. Unfortunately, there’s no virtue in playing the martyr unless you want to be a saint.

Ha!  Did I mention that the meaning of ‘Louise’ is ‘Saviouress of the world”?  Actually, Louise means, ‘protectress of the people’, so close, right?

I think I may have taken myself and the meaning of my name a tad too seriously. But hey! You can call me Saint Louise if you like.

Don’t get me wrong, I am laughing at myself this morning, looking at my hubris and throwing my hands up in the air as I exclaim, “Oh my look at me being so human! How fascinating!”

The fact is, I am sharing this because understanding where my shadow self is at play, keeps me grounded in the truth. I am not powerful enough to save the world. I am powerful enough to change my world. To create light and beauty in my world, to share my gifts with a generous heart and to create ripples of better all around me.

To do that, I must take care of myself so that I can then give back to others from a place of compassion, generosity and Love.

I know, deep within me, that I am not here to save the world. I am here to save myself from my thinking I am here to save the world. (That one made me smile so I’m leaving it as is).

So, here’s the deal. I tell you all this because I have been feeling the weight of this crisis, wanting to do more, feeling powerless, helpless, useless. I have been struggling to find my way through the dark, alone.

I am not alone. We are all in this together. We are all connected. This is all our one world, one planet, one humanity.

It’s just sometimes, when I’m not taking good care of myself by loving myself through the darkness, I can get trapped in believing I’m all alone. I don’t matter. I can never do enough.

I know that when I’m willing to embrace my truth with compassion and love, be it my light shining or a dark shadow looming, I am free of my childhood driven fear that I will never matter. I will never make a difference. I have no worth.

We all matter. We all make a difference. We all have worth.

And here’s the deal.  Remember at the beginning of this (long) post, I said in the context of saving my mother, “I wasn’t that powerful”?

Well, when we take care of ourselves, when we heed the voices rising up out of the dark past and lovingly embrace their fears, their angst, their belief there’s nothing we can do, we are taking really good care of ourselves. Because, in acknowledging their presence, they feel safe enough to return to the past and we become free to be here in the present, in all our light, beauty, and love.

And in that place, we are powerful enough to live from our magnificence, so that together we can create a better world for everyone.

Namaste.

(And yup. She’s a long one this morning. I thank you for reading through to the end. I thank you for shining your light on my path. I thank you for being you.)

 

 

Let Love Lead

It is early morning. I cannot sleep.

I wander into the living room. Turn on my desk lamp. Light the candle  I light every morning.

Beaumont, the Sheepadoodle, raises his head from where he is asleep on the chaise beside my desk. I give him a pat. He lowers his head and closes his eyes.

I leave my desk where it sits in front of the window looking out over the river. I walk around the island, into the kitchen area. Turn on the cappuccino machine. Fill the receptacle with water.

I pull out the coffee grinder from the drawer beneath the window at the far end of the kitchen. It looks out onto our front doorstep. It is dark out there. No view of a streetlight shimmering on the river’s surface. No flash of a car’s lights crossing the bridge.

I pull out the jar of coffee beans. The grinder. I place them on the counter, measure out the beans and press down on the lid. The noise of the grinder startles Beau. He lifts his head. He watches me. Slowly rises off the chaise. Stretches and comes to stand beside me in the kitchen. I scratch behind one of his ears. He leans against my leg.

I ask if he wants to go out. He cocks his head to one side.

I move to the front door. Gather his leash which lays on top of the wicker basket that holds his towel, ball, and other doggy paraphernalia.

I throw a coat on over my pyjamas. Exchange my slippers for slip-on boots and head outside.

Beaumont hesitates for a moment on the top step. He stretches his head towards the river. Listening.

I listen with him.

In the quiet, I hear the river flowing, its gurgling sounds a welcome whisper in the dark.

On a strip of gravel that I cannot see but know lies in the river’s path, geese honk in the pre-dawn dark.

I wonder if they can find their way when there is no light.

We move off the stairs towards the road at the end of the walk. I stand in the crisp, cool air of morning not yet broken. Beau sniffs and snuffles in the frost-covered grass.

Morning has not yet awoken. Darkness rests easy in my corner of the world.

I have not read the news today. Have not yet scrolled through interminable accounts of the rising number of cases and deaths, of losses and grief. Of what’s happening where. Of measures taken. Steps missed. Decisions made. Changes unfolding.

I have not yet opened myself up to the tug of despair. The tears I am afraid to unleash for fear they will not stop. The wish I could do more, do anything to stop the infiltration of this virus infecting the world. To do something to ease the fear and panic. To soothe a troubled soul.

I breathe.

I am not ready to face the day filled with facts and stories of a virus taking the world hostage. There will be time enough for reality to rise up and stun me with the shrill cry of its presence.

For now, I breathe into the gentle awakening of dawn’s light pushing back against the dark.

In the stillness of the morning, I stretch my arms above my head and welcome in the light creeping into the night.

We are billions of little rowboats struggling to find our way, together, through these uncharted waters.

We are billions of voices and stories, eyes and hands, hearts and feet pounding a path to a better tomorrow. Together.

May we all find the courage to row as One.

And I dip my oar into the waters and begin to row.

And the waters part and I find myself moving with the water’s flow as the sun breaks across the distant horizon.

Light pushes back the dark and turns the sky rose and gold and blue.

I dip my oar into the river and am reminded that it is love that connects us. Love that supports us. Love that leads the way.

Let us row together. Let us Let Love Lead.

________________

Thank you Miriam of My Window for the inspiration for Let Love Lead.  (Sometimes, the words flow first. Sometimes, the painting.)

At all times, Love Flows.  Love leads.

Painting will follow. ❤

Stay Calm And Knead On! (A SWB post)

Me:   Beau. What are you doing?

Beaumont:  Watching you.

Me:  What on earth for?

Beau:  Because the earth needs me to do it.

Me:   Ummm…. I’m confused. Why does the earth need you to watch me?

Beau:  Because the earth needs its hoomans to stay calm and keeping humans calm is a dawg’s most important job right now and I’m doing my job.

Me:  By watching me?

Beau:   I’m a watch dog. Right?

__________________________  To read the rest, please join Beaumont on his blog:  Sundays with Beaumont  Click HERE.

 

____________

And… last week I forgot to post Beau’s blog here– he’s a tad ticked with me, but hey! Better late than never.

A conversation where Beau gets confused between pandemic and panda’s running loose.

Panda What?  Click here to read the blog.

Love is Greater than Fear.

Love is Greater Than Fear
2020 Louise Gallagher

The river flows in one direction.
It cannot flow backwards.
Fear does not honour the river’s flow
flooding my senses with its insistence
I must heed its warnings. Give into its cacophony.

I take a breath and dive under the river’s surface.
The water is calmer here. Quieter.
The current moves me effortlessly within the river’s flow.
Gratitude rises. I float gracefully in its welcome embrace.

Gently, I lift my head to feel the air above and catch my breath.
There is so much beauty in the air above all my fear.
I dip back down beneath the river’s surface.
The memory of the beauty everywhere buoys me up.

No matter how deep or broad or high my fear,
Love is greater.

No matter how dark or long or weary the night,
Love is lighter.

And, no matter how frightened I feel,
Love is always flowing,
Constantly, eternally it flows
within and all around me.

My Tears Have No Name

My Tears Have No Name
©2020 Louise Gallagher

My tears have no name this morning
no one simple reason, no one single purpose
but to fall for all of this,
for all the world, for all of us,
for everyone and everything.

My tears do not need to be named
they are tears born of these times,
tears for these fears that walk with each of us.
They are tears for loss and grief, illness and death.
They are tears for those who are feeling lost and alone
and those who are hungry and frightened
and those who are ill
and those who are afraid that someone they love will fall.

My tears are all I have to give
to a shuttered-in world wrapped in fear.
My tears are the words I cannot speak
to a family I do not know, whose circle is broken,
a child who lost their grandfather
a son who lost their mother
a neighbour who lost a friend.

I have no words to name these feelings
my tears must speak for themselves,
and in their speaking
may they ease your pain as they ease mine
may they wash away your fear as they wash away mine
may they help relieve the burden
of being alone and isolated
of being laid off and frightened
of facing an unknown future
in a time when the future holds so much certainty
of sickness and death, loss and grief yet to come.

May my tears flow into the ocean
of your tears washing away the darkness,
letting in the light so that together,
we can see the path to where
what feels like life as we knew it ending
is actually the beginning of life that we create,
together, springing forth
out of Love for all humanity rising as One.

Take Good Care Of You – 10 Self-Care Tips to Promote Well-Being

Yesterday, I created a list of 10 Self-Care Tips To Promote Wellbeing During Social Distancing which I shared on my social media accounts.

This morning, I spent an hour on the phone with a technical support person at GoDaddy. Before I called, I’d spent a frustrating 45 minutes trying to figure out a solution to my problem myself.

That one hour with Ivan S at GoDaddy felt like good self-care. He was kind, patient (a necessity with me when trying to work out a technical problem) and funny in a really nice way.

What struck me was that my stubbornness (spending 45 minutes trying to fix a technology issue I have no idea how to fix is a clear indication of its gravitas), does not equate to self-care when I choose to ignore healthy and more peace-inducing ways of getting the job done.

In these stress-riddled times, taking care of our well-being is critical.

Here are some ideas to help you stay calm (and nope – calling technical support is not on it but it could be! Bottomline, if you are feeling stressed and need to chat with a human, calling a trusted family member or friend, reaching out to a therapist, the distress centre, is important!)

10 Self-Care Tips To Promote Wellbeing During Social Distancing

Handshakes and hugs are out. Elbow bumps were in but they too have fallen by the wayside as we hunker down at home and practice social distancing.

It can be hard in these times of chaos and upheaval to remember to take care of yourself. Yet, it is especially in these uncertain times that self-care is vital. Fear creates panic and panic robs our bodies of its natural defenses, weakening our immune system and putting stress on all our organs.

The following 10 tips offer some practical ways you can help yourself find your balance and inner calm, regardless of what’s happening in the world outside. It’s not about sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the facts of Covid-19s presence. It’s about staying conscious of the things you can control, the things you can’t, and acting on your inner courage to do the things you can do to keep yourself balanced and calm in the face of the unknown.

These tips can be incorporated into your everyday life, singularly, in groups of 2 or 3 or all together. It’s up to you. You are in control. You have the power to decide what you’re going to do with your day and how you’re going to take care of yourself.

    1. Light a candle. Daytime. Nighttime. Anytime. Scented. Unscented. Candlelight sets the scene for relaxation. It immediately signals to the brain to slow down. Your body remembers to breathe and you remember to get present.
    2. Listen to music. Avoid angry music, but soft, soothing, relaxing sounds (without words helps to turn your thinking-mind off). If you play tunes you like with words, sing along. Sing out loud. Sing at the top of your voice!
    3. Read a book. Listen to a podcast – something that inspires and excites you – while you sip a cup of your fav tea.
    4. Meditate. Sit in the quiet or play music. Find a guided meditation online. Just sit quietly and be present to the moment. Let the voices in your head float through like clouds across a blue sky. Breathe. In. Out. Breathe. In. Out.
    5. Pour yourself a bubble bath. Soak in it. Close your eyes. Breathe in the scents. The air. The feeling of being at peace, your body supported by warm, soothing water. (You can do 1 – 4 while in the bath! Wine in the bath works too!)
    6. Have a dance party. You don’t need a partner. All you need are some of your favourite tunes, a bit of space and your body – sitting, standing, lying down. Move whatever feels like moving. Let go. Let yourself feel the beat, let yourself move to the rhythm. Move as little or as much as you want – just move!
    7. Go for a run, a walk, a saunter. Do yoga at home, Qi Gong. Tai Chi – Gyms are closed but that doesn’t mean your body needs to stop moving. There are lots of resources online to inspire your personal workout.
    8. Spend time in nature. Get outside. Go for a walk with your dog, or a friend – just keep your social distance.
    9. Learn. Spend time doing/learning things you love to do. Cook. Sew. Paint. Write. Call a friend. Clean the fridge (it can be good for the soul to clear out ‘past due date’ foods!) Do woodwork – do something that sparks your imagination.
    10. Connect.  Connect. Connect.  You may be at home. You may be alone but there are things you can do to not feel lonely. Social distance doesn’t mean separation. It just means keeping the virus from spreading through the use of proven measures (like not getting too close to others). But, we all need to connect, to hear another’s voice, to share stories. Reach out. Create a Zoom call, FaceTime call with family and friends. Use technology to keep you connected across the distance so that your mental health does not become a victim of social distancing.  Repeat often. Connect. Connect. Connect. 

We are all in this together — all around the world. Self-isolation, social distancing are, for most of us, uncomfortable, uneasy actions to take.

We need to take them — what we need to ensure is that in taking them, we don’t overburden ourselves with worry, anxiety, feelings of being totally alone, fear and depression.

Please. If you are feeling overwhelmed. Reach out.

Your well-being is very, very important. You are very, very important.

Take good care of you and let’s all take good care of each other.

 

 

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