Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Let us be the change — it makes a difference

IMG_2991We met for brunch yesterday. I am grateful.

The band of ‘peace angels’ as Kerry Parsons, the inspiration behind Calgary Summer of Peace calls us, met at my home for a celebration of all that we accomplished this past year and to create space for all we’re capable of creating in days to come. As we went around the table sharing what was in our hearts, I sat in awe of the beauty of the souls with whom I have experienced such joy and peace throughout our journey through Summer of Peace and beyond.

We began the festivities with the lighting of the Advent Candle, one of four candles set in a wreath I have created to honour the season. The Advent wreath is a ritual that connects me to my past, to my Catholic upbringing, to my history, my shared experience of being part of a circle of love within my family. Kerry spoke of opening our hearts, of expanding our minds, or grounding ourselves in our capacity to create change, further evolution, be of service to the world. She spoke of letting the light of the candle ignite the flame within each of us to continue to serve the world in peace, hope, love and joy.

Later, as I shared my experiences this past year and where I’ve felt myself expanding into peace, hope, love and joy, my friend Judy said, “You’ve had a year of practice.”

So true.

Writing this blog has been one of the opportunities I’ve experienced this past year to grow into my commitment to be, as Gandhi invited all of us, “the change I want to see in the world.”

I believe in our capacity to create change, to be part of life’s evolutionary impulse to always create, become, expand. I believe in our ability to become ‘the change’ we want to create in the world.

At the beginning of the year I began this blog with the intention of staying conscious of ‘how’ I embodied what it means to ‘make a difference’. I began with the commitment to write about ‘making a difference’ every day.

In the doing, I have changed. In the doing, I have become more of what I want to create in the world — peace. hope. love and joy.

There have been other aspects of my journey that have opened up the space for me to ‘be the change’. From the beginning of the year of choosing to stand in the broken with my beloved and commit to creating the relationship we both desire and deserve to gifting him a poem a day for 14 days at Valentines — and the amazing and awe-inspiring power of that small act to deepen my understanding, and knowing. I continue to write a poem of love every day, to begin each day with Love as my companion and it continues to expand my capacity to open my heart and being to Love every day.

This morning, I sent out my first segment of the Advent meditation and reflection course (Make Time for the Sacred) I’ve created. An act I could not have envisioned doing at the beginning of the year. A step I could not have imagined taking before I consciously brought ‘making a difference’ into my daily commitment to ‘be the change’.

I am grateful.

This year has been an amazing journey. I began nervous, concerned, somewhat tentative. I had just left a job I loved in a place my heart was called to be. I was fearful. Worried. Hopeful.

I reminded myself of the saying, “When one door closes another opens.” I kept watching for open doors, I kept my mind and heart open to their appearance… and they appeared.

Constantly.

I am grateful.

Being here with you each day, meeting you, getting to know you, exchanging thoughts, sharing ideas, feelings, words has expanded my heart and my capacity to be present as ‘the change I want to be’ in the world.

Thank you.

We have entered the first week of advent. As we prepare our hearts, as we open our beings up to the wonder and the majesty of this holy time of year, let us ‘be the change’.

Let us welcome in the change we want to see in the world.

Let us be. Peace. Hope. Love and Joy.

Namaste.

And…. in case you’re wondering if the Advent Reflection and Meditation is something you could become part of, here’s the link to the first recording…


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Open spaces make a difference

It begins with a comedy of errors. I take my laptop into an office where I’m doing some consulting to have it synced with the office systems, go to a meeting late in the day and the admin assistant, concerned for my laptops safety, locks it away.

When I return, she has left for the day (it was after five) and no one has the key to the cabinet where she’s locked it away. Not to worry I tell myself. I can use my iPad to write my blog in the morning. Using the keyboard is almost the same as working on my laptop, I convince myself.

Except, after five minutes, my keyboard dies. I go in search of batteries. Actually do find the package I bought awhile ago for emergencies just like this! Yes! I replace the batteries and begin to type.

Except, the keyboard keeps dying. After several attempts to get it to stay on, (what is it about doing the same thing again and again that is so appealing) I give into the inevitable, and somewhat frustrating process, of using the screen keyboard.

I begin to type. And WordPress keeps freezing. I type. Nothing happens. I refresh, it let’s me type a few words again before freezing up.

Grrr!

I keep typing determined I will teach WordPress a thing or two about being sensible and cooperative.

My temperature is rising and WordPress is oblivious to my dismay. Seriously, how can an inanimate object be soooo challenging and stubborn? It has its way with me until I remember I have the WordPress app on my IPad.

Yes!

I am typing again but all the while I can feel my mood darkening. I can feel the voice of ‘hopeless despair’ revving up, set to take action and steel away my peace of mind.

Thoughts –of why me? What the…?– slither into the morning light of my thinking growing darker.

No!

I will not let it happen.

I remember what someone said last night on the phone in class for the “Living an evolutionary life” course I’m participating in, “Thoughts think us more than we think our thoughts.”

Ugh!

So true.

Unless… I stay conscious. Unless I choose to be in the present moment with all my being, consciously choosing how I respond, react, stay accountable for my journey.

Right.

The universe is not out to get me this morning, it’s not against me. It’s not trying to teach me a lesson or even to trip me up.

The universe just is. The universe doesn’t “care”. It simply exists, evolving in ever expanding circles outward.

I am my reflection of my responses to the universe around me. What’s my ripple?

I’m the one who has the capacity to add meaning, or not, to events and circumstances. I’m the one who has the choice in how I respond.

Letting go of everything, I fall into nothing but the “all” that is everything.

In surrendering to “the all”, in letting go of the everything and the nothing, miracles unfold, magic happens, life awakens.

My mind would have me believe I awoke to a comedy of errors this morning.

It’s not true.

I awoke to the miracle of a day unfolding in awe. I awoke to the possibility of what is when I let go of believing all that I am is determined by my limiting belief that I have no choice in how I respond to the world around me.

I have infinite choice. The difference is in how I express myself.

No matter the circumstances, the weather or the times when I let go of holding onto to my thoughts, judgments, feelings about what is, or isn’t happening, I make space for anything, everything and nothing. And in that space of being open, miracles happen.

I awoke this morning and dark clouds gathered on the horizon. Letting go of peering into the darkness, my day awoke to the miracle of this moment unfolding in awe.

May your day be filled with wide open spaces where miracles happen all around.

Oh and WordPress… You can take your stubborn,uncooperative ways and shove them where…

Oh dear… Did I just slip?

Sigh.

And I begin again. Always begin again.

Have an inspired day.

namaste


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Living Who I Am Makes a Difference

It has begun. Seventy-four people have begun the journey of their lifetimes with tools to free themselves from doing what they’ve always done that’s gotten them what they didn’t want.

What a miracle.

Everything.

Miracle.

I stood in the circle last night and was in awe of our human condition. In awe and humbled by our beauty.

We are amazing.

Someone asked me, “Why do you keep doing this. Haven’t you figured it all out yet?”

And I laughed. Figuring it out isn’t why I do it. Living it, living the tools, living in that place where I hold my life as a sacred gift that I can share as I participate in changing the world one heart at a time is what it’s all about for me. And being in the Choices room, being part of miracles unfolding all around is where I experience complete freedom to do that.

It also reminds me to live my tools. To be conscious of my tapes, that brain chatter that would have me believe I am or deserve less than, other than, being my most amazing self, and recognizing my self-defeating games so that I can quit playing them before they cause mayhem and destruction in my life is why I keep going back. Being there in that room is a gift. And I love presents!

Just as I love being in the present. In the moment right now.

It is what Thelma stressed this week. At 78, she is committed to living in the moment right now. To being present to what is happening now, not what happened in the past or might happen in the future. To cherish this moment and to live it up for all she’s worth.

Or, as Joseph Campbell wrote:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about, and that’s what these clues help us to find within ourselves.

It is scary walking into the seminar room for the first time. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know what it’s all about other than someone has told you that they think Choices might be something you’d get a lot out of. Because Choices doesn’t advertise. It is a word of mouth program — someone goes, thinks it’s amazing and recommends it to someone else they care about. And, in suggesting someone else go, they purposefully don’t tell them what it’s all about because to explain the details would be to take away the impact of their self-discovery as they go through the processes.

Plus, we’re human. We’re always looking for a way out and if someone says, “you do this or that”, it’s always a good excuse for someone to say, “I don’t do that.”  We are so clever we humans!

By Sunday evening, the fear is gone. And in its stead, people stand revealed in all their beauty. Smiles wide. Eyes bright. Spirits shining. They stand in their authentic natures and connect with those around them, heart to heart.

It is beautiful. Exciting. Miraculous. And… it leads to more.

To living life outside our comfort zones. To living life in that free and invigorating place where we have the more we’ve always wanted, the special we’ve always felt but were too afraid, or timid, or confused to allow ourselves to be.

I am tired, in a happy kind of way this morning.

For five days I got to live completely on purpose, immersed in miracles unfolding, in lives changing, in hearts breaking open to the wonder and beauty of the gifts and talents within.

I am content.

I am (as I uncovered through my Choices journey of designing my contract, purpose and intention statement) a radiant woman touching hearts and opening minds to set spirits free to live their magnificence in a world of peace, love and joy.

Namaste.


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Making the world more beautiful makes a difference

I didn’t drive my car yesterday nor did I spend any money. It was a commitment I’d made when I started this blog in January — to spend one day a week where I helped the Universe by not contributing to green house gases, and by not spending money.

And then, I started working downtown four days a week and 3 day weekends became times to ‘get things done’ including completing work for other clients as well. In the throes of ‘busy’ I took my focus off my commitment to not contribute to pollution and focused instead on cramming what I could into my available time every week.

The world shifted. Moved on. Continued to pass. But I wasn’t fulfilling on a commitment I had made.

I did it yesterday. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice at the beginning of the day. But, an appointment I could walk to, a meeting cancelled and the decision to work at home so that I could complete edits on a report and I was able to realign the workings of my day to include not driving my car.

In Barbara Cooney’s classic childhood story (and one of my daughters’ favourites), “Miss Rumphius”, a young girl named Alice tells the story of her great-Aunt Alice who liked to help her grandfather paint the figureheads he created for ships being built at the docks just around the bay and other art he created. One day, after helping him ‘paint in the skies’ on a painting, Alice told her grandfather she wanted to do what he had done, “When I grow up,” she told him, “I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.”

“That is all very well, little Alice,” said her grandfather, “but there is a third thing you must do.”

And he told her that no matter what, she must do something to make the world more beautiful.

In the storybook, little Alice grew into big Alice, a librarian who travelled the world, visiting far away places until she has an accident and comes back to live by the sea to recuperate. Not yet having done anything to ‘make the world more beautiful’, she begins to sow Lupine seeds where ever she goes on the tiny island where she lives. And suddenly, the world becomes more beautiful for the blue and purple and rose-coloured flowers blossoming in roadside ditches and along country roads and around the church and school and city hall.

In recounting the story of her great-aunt, little Alice, the story-teller, commits to doing as her namesake did, travel and see the world and live by the sea, and make the world more beautiful.

Sometimes, it’s not what we do that creates beauty, but what we don’t do.

Yesterday, I didn’t drive my car.

And, while in the grand scheme of things one person not driving their car for a day may not seem like a big difference, imagine if we all decided to spend a day not burning fossil fuels. Imagine if we all chose to walk, ride a bike, or use transit instead of driving our cars? That could add up to a big difference.

I started out unconsciously making a difference by not driving my car yesterday. By the end of the day I had become conscious of the choices I was making and realigned my day to support my commitment to make the world more beautiful by not doing something I habitually do.

It wasn’t a ‘big difference’ in the world, but within me it reconnected me to the power of my every act to change my world.

In the not doing, I was reminded of the power of my choices to make a difference in the world, and, perhaps even more importantly, it reminded me that no matter what I do, I must always do something to make the world more beautiful.

****************************************************************************

and… if you have 12 minutes to savour a story of beauty, do watch and listen to the telling of Miss Rumphius below. You will be moved by beauty.


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Our magnificence is the difference

I get discouraged some days.

There, I’ve said it. I get discouraged.

I look at the world, I encounter a situation that doesn’t make sense, a remark that hits a nerve or triggers a memory and I feel the ennui of discouragement settle around me like a woolly blanket on a winter’s night. Except, discouragement isn’t comforting.

It makes me feel…. sad.

Colour me optimistic. Colour me naive. But I do believe peace is possible.

Not the peace of the world kind. But rather, the peace within that radiates out into the world creating ripples of harmony everywhere it flows.

Last night at our Centre for Conscious Living meeting — we are four people setting the framework for the centre which we believe can impact how we express our magnificence in the world — we talked about what is the impact we want to make. How many people do we want to touch. We had agreed at the beginning of our meetings that the number was ‘millions’. But the question came up — what does that look like.

Well… said one of the group. In practical terms, one in a thousand. 1 in a thousand sounds manageable we all agreed. Not too pie in the sky. Not too out there we’d never even get to the sky above us. Someone quickly extrapolated the number into a quantifiable amount. That’s 700 million people. Oh. Cool.

and then, we did the math again.

Oops. 7 million people.

And I laughed.

Because seriously, 700 or 7 million — the point isn’t to count the number reached. The objective, in this emergent alliance of co-creative leadership, is to put into action, the possibility, the probability, the absolute necessity of moving forward. Of taking action. Of doing what we believe we can/must to create a world of change all around. A world where people see, feel, know they are not the adaptive being they became in order to fit into the world as they viewed it, but rather, the magnificent essence of the self they were born into this world to be — because they already are, this magnificent being.

This is who we are all born as — not ‘to be’ — but as.

Call me Pollyanna, but I’d rather believe it is possible to create a world of magnificence than to live believing there is no magnificence to awaken in anyone.

We are all magnificent. It’s just that in the journey of our lifetimes, we have adapted our thinking about who we are to accept how we are in the world today as being ‘okay’, or all that we can be.

Shaking up the status quo doesn’t come easily to we humans. We like to protect and preserve our beliefs. And some of our shakiest ones are the ones we tell ourselves about what we can or can’t do about ourselves in this world of wonder. Some of our cruellest beliefs are the ones we hold onto about ourselves. And in our desire to not let go of our limiting beliefs about ourselves, we will go to great lengths to hold onto the impossibilities of change that keep us playing small.

We are all magnificent.

I know this. It is not a belief, or a dream. It is a truth I know about our human being.

We are magnificent, and the rest is just stuff.

It is that simple. We are born to be great — and whatever else we are doing is just stuff. Stuff to keep us playing small. Stuff to make us think we don’t have to shine.

We are all magnificent.

We are all born to shine.

I awoke feeling a bit discouraged this morning. Frustrated that others couldn’t see the wonder and beauty I see in them.

They don’t have to — until they do.

In the meantime, I must continue to do what I do to shine, to radiate, to light up the path so that 700 million people will be touched by the truth that is our birthright. We are all magnificent. And all the acting out in the world will never diminish or extinguish that truth.

 

 


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Olympics and dreamers make a difference

I painted the kitchen yesterday (I can’t post photos as I forgot to bring the device to download to my iPad). I painted as the final games wound up leading to the Closing Ceremonies. C.C. and Ellie the wonder pooch, lounged in the living room watching TV as I taped the walls and began the task of turning an insipid pale blue into bright yellowly sunshine.

I thought I’d keep painting through the Closing Ceremonies but was pulled into the drama and excitement and put down my brush to sit with C.C. and gawk at the spectacle of it all.

During commercial breaks, I’d race back to the kitchen, pick up my roller and swipe it across the wall a few times before racing back to join in the amazement of the ceremonies.

I had fun!

Painting. Watching. Racing back to paint. Watch some more. Eventually, I gave up watching and set myself to painting. I could hear the music playing and the voices singing. I’d call out to C.C., “Who’s that?” and he’d tell me and I’d keep painting and all the while, I danced and sang along as the walls around me turned brighter and brighter.

occasionally I was drawn to leave the walls to watch the show. Like, when the Spice Girls appeared and began singing. Took me back to when my daughters were tweenies and pleaded with me to take them to the Spice Girls Movie. I didn’t want to. Thought they were too, too suggestive, too ‘ditsy’, not representative of what I believed being a woman was all about. I didn’t think the role model they represented was one I wanted to foster in my daughters’ young and impressionable minds.

But, who can resist two young girls with big brown eyes who used every trick in the book to get me to capitulate. I don’t remember much about the movie — other than a formula script, a lot of platform shoes, scant clothing that revealed way too much, and made-up faces that looked like kewpie dolls. I think at the time I feared my daughters would dress like that, walk like that, talk like that, become like that. (Did I mention I was quite judgemental of the genre and the women who engaged in strutting their stuff with such elan?)

Fortunately, my daughters never did take up ‘the style’, but looking back, I realize the message was more about ‘do what you love’, live your best life yet, than it was about the clothes (or lack thereof) and make-up. It was more about “I am woman hear me roar” than it was about “I am a poor helpless female, here me whimper”.

Watching the Spice Girls yesterday I laughed and danced to the beat and leapt around the house, ‘shaking my boogie’ (and yes, I know that’s not the phrase but it’s how I’ve always said it and I like to boogie!)

Fortunately, I had the foresight to put my paintbrush down before leaping around the house. No paint was splattered and no illusions either.

I will never be a Spice Girl, just as I will never be Kate Middleton or any other Kate on a catwalk, strutting her stuff. I will never be an Olympic athlete, or even the mother of one, nor will I ever light the Olympic torch, or dream of doing it.

And that’s what makes life so incredibly special and amazing and awesome. There are those who dream of those things and who set out to capture the gold, the moment, the eyes of the world, the heart of a prince.

And there’s room in this world for all of us. No matter our dreams, there’s room in this world for each of us to strive to achieve, to excel, to soar — no matter our goal.

This is a world filled with possibility, abundance, opportunity. This is a world with space for infinite dreams and dreamers.

And it’s up to each of us to lean into our lives. To be ‘the dreamer’ we must push back against those who would say it can’t be done. We must break free of the path of least resistance. It’s up to each of us to claim our right to be at the top of the mountain of our choosing — no matter how high or difficult the climb.

It isn’t the size of the mountain that makes the difference, it’s the fact we set out to climb it.

I painted the kitchen sunshiney yellow yesterday and witnessed dreams in motion at the Closing Games. And in each act, I was reminded, to be the sunshine, I must shine for all I’m worth where ever I am in the world.


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A good day of driving makes a difference

I drove yesterday. 11.5 hours door to door. My cousin’s daughter, Elise, read and slept and watched movies on her iPod and I listened to a book CD, John Valliant’s, “The Tiger. A true story of Vengeance and Survival.”

I was engrossed. Intrigued. Fascinated by Valliant’s account of the true events that happened in December 1997 in Russia’s Far East.  I didn’t start listening until Kamploops (about 8 hours from Calgary) and in my listening the kilometers sped by — but I’m not quite three-quarters of the way through!  I need another road trip to finish it.

In, The Tiger, I am reminded of the delicate balance of our home, planet earth. I am reminded of the relationship we all have with nature, with the animals who share our human path, and our fellow humans who walk beside us.

Elise and I stopped several times, to get coffee, a bite to eat, stretch our legs, washroom breaks. We chatted briefly in between her changing CDs for me, her sleeping, her movies. It was fun! And restful and relaxing.

The reason for the book CD is simple — it keeps me awake and makes the miles disappear and it is the Year of the Tiger! Also — because of the vastness and remoteness of segments of the drive, and because the mountains interfere, radio reception is intermittent. (cell service is spotty too.)

Which is what made this particular book/read/reading so interesting — I was travelling through similar country to Russia’s Far East — perhaps not as remote and impoverished, but in parts, definitely as densely forested — it would be easy to lose oneself, or another in the forest. Had we gone north and not due west, we would have found ourselves in almost the identical terrain — which is why Valliant’s question — why didn’t the Amur Tiger (Siberian Tiger) cross to North America, all the more interesting. Why didn’t it?

No one knows. These are giant beasts who love to swim — there are even accounts of fishermen in canoes being attacked by tigers while fishing.

More than just the tale of a tiger seeking revenge by killing a human(s) who wronged him, this book is a journey through time — Valliant shares the history of the region, from before the Czar’s to Stalin to current times where those who scrabble to survive in the region resort to poaching in order to get by. He also tells stories of tigers, and lions and leopards that are riveting and fascinating. Like Jim West who fought off a grizzly while out hiking near his home in the interior of BC — no one believed he could defend himself, and his dogs as he did. But he did.

Valiant shares stories of the great beasts of our world, and throughout, we learn how our ‘progress’ is making their survival all the more challenging.

And that is the tragedy of this story. The Amur Tiger is being stalked. By humans seeking trophies and the mystical qualities the blood and bone and fur and meat and organs of this legendary beast are said to hold.

We are killing off one of nature’s beasts and in the killing, we are shifting the natural balance of our world.

I didn’t know much about the Amur Tiger — other than to call it the Siberian Tiger and to be fascinated by a tiger that lived in an area where snow covers the forest ground in the winter.

In listening to John Valliant read his book, I am wiser, and sadder. We do horrible things to our fellow inhabitants of planet earth.

To make a difference we must create peace in our hearts. With peaceful hearts we are capable of creating peace in our world.

It was a good drive yesterday. Long. But good.

I learned a great deal, spent time with a delightful young girl and travelled through some of the most beautiful country imaginable. And in the drive, I was made different by a story of a gripping tale of man and beast and the wisdom of nature.

It was a good day.