Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Rejoice in ordinary things

Acrylic on Canvas 42″ x 36″ Louise Gallagher 2001

I am in summer writing mode, lazy mornings, reading, walking, re-ordering my days. I will be posting less frequently over the next two months, but on those days when I spend my time ‘othering’ I’ll share things that inspire me.

The painting above is one of the very first paintings I did when I first started painting almost 20 years ago. It continues to be one of my favourites — perhaps because in it, I see only the simple, pure joy of creation.

In the beginning, my mind was not cluttered with thoughts of ‘the right way’, or the ‘that’s not good enough way’ of creating that is a natural by-product of learning more about ‘how to paint correctly’ versus ‘how to paint for the pure joy of it’ which is the beginner’s way for me.

In the beginning, painting for the pure joy of it was natural. Now, I strive to recapture that essence. I must consciously let go of my need to ‘do it right’ versus ‘do it for the pure joy of it’ – which can be challenging because when I think about it, I am no longer in that place of natural joyful creation!

Ahh, the contradictions of life are so fascinating!

Namaste.

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Inspiring thought for the day:

Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.

– Pema Chödron

from the book “The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times”

Just Dharma Quotes

Shared from Zen Flash

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Where is truth?

When I read this Zen Flash this morning, it made me smile. Out loud.

So simple.

All the truth I need to live my life today is here, right now.

Whatever is here, right now, is the truth. And if I don’t like it, what are my options? What do I plan on doing about it? Because as my father was fond of saying when I was a child, “If the shoe fits, wear it.”

Truth is, in this moment right now, I am right here, feeling, doing, being, however, whatever I am.

Truth is, right here, right now, is all the truth I have to work with. How I respond to, what I do with what is here right now is what makes the difference in how I live my truth, how I turn up in my truth, how I am accountable with my truth. And, how my truth becomes me.

I can avoid, pretend, ignore.

Or, I can accept, allow, create.

My choice.

My truth.

My life.

 


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Do you choose to wake-up or stay asleep?

unnamedSource: Zen Flash 

I love to walk barefoot in the mud. To feel earth’s wet, oozy goodness squishing between my toes, sliding across my skin.

I love to dance in the rain. To stand high on the top of a hill feeling the sky washing down against my skin, my hair flattening against my skull, my face soaking in the nourishing waters pouring down.

I love to swim naked in the sea. To slide effortlessly through crystal clear water flowing against my skin. To feel the waters of the universe caressing my body, holding me up, holding me in its embrace.

All of these things I love to do because they remind me how alive I am. How of the universe I am. How limitless my possibilities are in a world of wonder and awe.

All of these things I love to do are part of my path. Just as all the travails and triumphs I have experienced, the hardships and the missteps, the joyful leaps and the stumbling tumbles, they are part of my path that have carried me here, to today, where I have a choice.

Do I stay asleep or do I awaken?

Without all of these things, I would not be me where I am today.

Just as all the things you have experienced, endured, witnessed, fallen in love with, stepped away from, eased slowly into or leapt blindly into,  stumbled haltingly through or rushed fearlessly within, all of these thing are part of your path that make up the journey of being you.

They are not who you are. They are your how. The how of how you got here, to this moment where you can choose to fall back to sleep, or awaken.

We humans spend so much time focused on the how. So much effort trying to get through, over, into, out of circumstances, situations, opportunities, we forget it is not the ‘how’ that creates our journey, it is the what we do with what appears on our journey that creates the one we are today.

Immersed in the how of whether or not we step, leap, dance, cavort, we forget we have the power to awaken completely to our divine essence. To our brilliant light, our amazing grace.

And so, we focus on the how, thinking it will make a difference to what happens in our life.

It will not make a difference if we choose to stay asleep to our magnificence.

When I was an infant I crawled. I am an adult now. I can still crawl, but I can also dance, leap, jump, skip, walk…

No matter how I move through the world, how old I am, how rich, poor, slim, fat, tall, short. It doesn’t matter the colour of my skin, the depth of my roots in tribal soils or the wearing of my knees from prostration before the God or gods of my knowing,  it is what I choose to do that makes my difference one of awakened bliss or stumbling in the dark guilt for being alive.

Do I choose to wake up or do I choose to stay asleep?

As Alan Watts asks at the end of this short video on waking up, “You put yourself in this situation. So it’s a question fundamental. Do you define yourself as a victim of the world, or as the world?”


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Don’t Look Back.

 

 

I used to spend a lot of time in the mountains, climbing and skiing and revelling in the views from mountain tops. My daughters’ father is an avid mountaineer. The best weekend for him was to spend it laden down with climbing ropes and axes, scrambling up scree slopes and carefully choosing your path up the side of a mountain to reach some far off summit you can’t see from the bottom, but know is there high above you, waiting for your ascent.

Climbers take their time. They are thoughtful, precise and prepared.

Before they ever head out, they have researched the route, mapped their ascent and at the same time, are prepared for the unexpected.

Anything can happen when climbing a mountain, no matter which direction you’re going. Up or down.

Once, while climbing Cathedral Mountain, we got lost in the woods leading to the beginning of the ascent route. We had to bushwhack through dense forest and being that I was at least a foot shorter than my two climbing companions, I did more rolling over deadfall than stepping. I did not look very dignified nor graceful.

Just below where the climb began I got bit in the calf by a spider. My leg swelled up to three times its size and there was no way I could proceed. I didn’t have a book (any excess weight is not welcome on a climb) so I spent the day sunning and resting on a huge boulder while the two men continued the climb.

It was an unexpected lesson in mindfulness. My mind wanted me to believe the approach of a grizzly bear was imminent. That I was in mortal danger sitting on that rock.

I spent the first couple of hours alone trying to swivel my head in every direction, until eventually I grew tired of being constantly on-guard against some unseen adversary. I had to get present. To become one with my environment. By the time my climbing companions returned, even though my leg was red hot and swollen, I felt grounded. Refreshed. Calm. I’d had a beautiful time being present with the world around me.

When climbing, no matter which way you’re going, looking back is not a good idea. Looking back means you’ve taken your focus off where you’re at. What’s happening in the here and now. When climbing, you must stay present to every step you take, because every step is important to your well-being. And to your climbing partner’s well-being too.

And while each step is filled with anticipation of reaching the summit drawing you ever higher, you can’t let your mind stray to the view at the top. You  must keep it on where you’re at, what you’re doing right now.

I never tired of the view from the top but I never particularly liked the climb. It scared me to be exposed. To be dependent upon a rope, another human being, a foothold on the side of a mountain-face that was supposed to hold, but dare I trust it?

I wasn’t all that keen on the descent either.

Coming down has its perils. You are tired, there is the natural let-down of having reached your goal, of having breathed the rarified air at the top and swooned at the sight of a feast of mountains spread out as far as the eye can see.

There’s not much time to linger on a mountain top. The sun is arcing towards the earth in the distance, storm clouds are building on the far horizon, ice falls, rock falls and other natural hazards litter the slopes below. Your body is fatiguing and now, having devoured the view, you must set your sights on the descent. The valley below is calling. The ‘real world’ awaits.

 

No matter whether climbing up, or down, or simply walking on the path to your ascent, looking back can be dangerous.

Like life, to reach your goal you must have confidence that each step will lead you to the next and the next. Knowing where you’re going keeps you stepping safely. It keeps you aware of pitfalls on your path, of hazards on your route of opportunities and possibilities for new and better paths to your destination.

Looking back will only keep you from seeing what lays on the path ahead.

Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.

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With gratitude to Lou at Zen Flash for the title and inspiration for this post.