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Full Moon Reflection

It has been the strangest few weeks for me.  Lots of learning.  Lots of changing how I do things.  Shifts in thought patterns, behaviours and some serious boundary laying (more on that in a separate post to come!).  It’s been challenging and at times unpleasant, but it’s been the right thing.

When I embarked on the FreeMind panoramic I had no idea how very deep the changes would be and I am still surprised daily at the clarity I’m finding regarding situations and feelings that have either perplexed or challenged me to the point of giving up in the past.  With Desire Map currently shifting up gears and training beginning for Heart Centered, it feels like a thousand tiny fragments of an epic picture are slowing coming together.  

The highlight of the week though. Collaborating with Melanie Clark Pullen of www.strutandbellow.com has been the most enriching, loving, fun and insightful thing and on the full moon yesterday we launched our podcast, Croí.   I love to chat with Melanie and we have so much to chat about – always! She’s a super duper multi-talented woman and more than anything I am just beyond grateful to call her my friend, never mind getting to have so much fun working with her! You can listen to the podcast on Anchor and Spotify.

So from the high of creating and launching a podcast to the low of burning down something I loved that had become a source of sadness and pain, and reestablishing lost boundaries, this week I’ve learned a huge lesson:  to be prepared to lose it all in favour of self-love, self-care and self-respect.  It’s a risk worth taking.

Last night we went to the beach, lit a fire, chatted, waited for the moon, howled for the moon, said hello to a seal and then finally the moon appeared on the horizon as a sliver of blood orange to joyous whooping and a mighty selkie welcome. We watched it rise. Burning. Releasing. Embracing the balance that’s left.

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Mental Health Supports In Irish Schools

This will be a post for my own blog and for my daughter’s transition year personal project Mental Health in Irish Schools.   I write this piece as a proud, concerned mother and as someone who has two children currently in the school system in Ireland.   

I’ve been told in the past that I share too much, that I shouldn’t be so much of an open book.  I guess how you see this depends on your own situation, so that’s for you to think about.  I believe that when a story is shared it should be done in the spirit of helping someone else, who might have had a similar experience and may not be able to speak out about it for any reason.   The story of how my daughter came to set up Mental Health in Irish Schools is one that should be told, as is the experience of running the project and seeing it through to wrapping it up soon.    It may just help someone else in a similar situation.  It may throw some light in a dark place for another child, or another parent.  It may even make a principal or a teacher somewhere stop a moment and reconsider their approach.  I live in hope.  

The truth is the inspiration for this project is Aisling’s younger sibling Niamh.   Niamh began to struggle with being in school many years ago and even with as much intervention as we could manage, the struggle became anxiety and panic that lead to Niamh missing months of school at a time.  It was difficult sometimes to even get them near the school building.   As a family we struggled to get the support needed to help our child at school.   Niamh felt a burden at school and there were many days where Niamh was left sitting on corridors or in offices because the school did not have the resources or inclination to help them.  On one occasion they were left to sit under a desk at the back of a classroom for a day.  I believe that if their initial anxiety had been better managed at school we may well have averted much of the difficulty Niamh had to endure.  Life became an endless cycle of letter writing, phone calls and searching for the help we needed.   We initially attended a psychiatrist who insisted that Niamh be pushed to go to school no matter how loudly they protested.  Against my gut, heart and soul instincts we followed this advice.  This made things worse and further heightened the anxiety, especially given the lack of support at school.   

We really only began to make progress with a move to a psychologist who actually listened to the issues and worked with Niamh and us to be a guide, sounding board, counsellor and to teach coping skills which Niamh still uses to this day.  Niamh returned to school in September 2019 with some eventual support from the school but continued to struggle at times with being in the classroom environment.   Then we found ourselves in a pandemic and what would have been Niamh’s last months at primary school were spent at home. This was the break they needed to begin to heal and was something Niamh had no problem with.  They were spent emotionally and mentally and just keen to move on.  And so we did.   Niamh still struggles sometimes but does so in an environment where they’re fully supported and heard.  

I believe that Niamh did not present with enough difficulty to be taken seriously at school.  I believe that their issues are borderline and difficult to pinpoint and that for that reason the issues Niamh struggled with were dismissed by the principal of their school as misbehaviour for misbehaviour’s sake – an over attachment to me and something to be dealt with at home.  I find it difficult to even consider forgiving how Niamh and indeed myself and my husband were treated by the principal of the school Niamh attended at the time.  I also believe that had there been better psychological/therapeutic intervention at school that Niamh’s challenges may have been taken seriously when they began to present and be dismissed by the school over 5 years ago.   

Aisling witnessed all this as a big sister would.   She was stoic, understanding, supportive and so patient when Niamh needed a calming influence.   Watching Niamh’s struggle with school and our struggle to get the support that was needed inspired this project.   Her own experience of in school supports and that of her peers only added to the awareness that this is an area that could be improved.     So she set about looking at possible solutions and decided to set up Mental Health in Irish Schools to look at the issues and talk to people who are interested. 

Aisling has a petition set up that has gathered almost 700 signatures at time of writing.   She’s interviewed politicians, therapists and advocates for mental health. She’s worked with our good friend Nicki Ringwood to plan a mental health fair at her school which unfortunately didn’t happen the way she wished and planned for due to the pandemic.  

This could be a lifetime’s work so we put a time frame in place that this would run until the end of May 2021.  This is something Aisling will continue to advocate for in different ways which she’s currently exploring.  She’s still collecting signatures on her petition and hoping to finish that off and deliver it in person to the Dail very soon.  There’s a passion there, a sense of right and wrong and a strong voice that now it’s found will I’m sure, be put to exceptionally good use in her advocacy work.  

The last post on this project will be Aisling’s. I’d like to just thank her for being such an epic human being and for her dedication to this project – there was a lot of work involved and she has seen it all through. Nicki Ringwood has provided the project with the guidance it needed and has become a big sister to Aisling in the process.

If you’d like to sign the petition before we take it to the powers that be, please do so at:   https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/better-supports-for-mental-health-in-schools

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Things we’ve learned swimming… (1)

My buddy Gráinne and I have just done our first season of swimming through winter and it’s been a blast!  We built a 70 odd strong group for Wicklow Bluetits, which we decided to leave to return to our roots of a smaller more intimate group of friends for our daily swims.   We get asked quite a bit for advice about the how to of cold-water swimming, so we thought we’d pull together a joint blog post from our resources to make sure that we’ve links to share when we’re asked – otherwise you’ll have to listen to hours of salty swim talk!  

When we originally pulled a document together, it was December and we were cautioning people about not staying in too long and being VERY careful with sea and air temperatures.  Actually that advice would still apply for anyone, starting at any time of the year – there is always wisdom to plan not just your swim, but just as importantly, your recovery from that swim too.   So our tips from what we’ve learned in this short time. 

Know your swim spot:   check out where you’re swimming, what it’s like, what the tides are like, currents, what you might need to be aware of – local groups and pages can be a great resource for this as can other swimmers who are more than happy to advise you when you’re on the way in and they’re on the way out!   My rule for myself is to never swim if I’m unsure about a spot – it’s just not worth it.  

We do always encourage swimmers to be sure to swim with someone else for safety.   If you can’t find another swimmer to go with, perhaps have someone come with you to spot you from the shore and keep an eye on you.  If I’m swimming alone even with someone spotting me, I have made a pact with my hubby that I always wear my tow float in the water if there’s no one in it with me.   We always tell people to stay within their depth and swim parallel to the shore too instead of out to greater depths.

Pick a milder day if you can for your first few swims – air temperature can make a big difference especially if it’s windy.   Have a quick dip, don’t dilly dally or stay in too long and build it up gradually.  Pre-swim preparation and post-swim recovery are very important – more on these below.   If you’re unsure about going swimming, join some friends who are going to see how they do it  – I will always welcome someone who is curious but unsure along to sit on the shore and shout encouragement or just observe – company is always welcome!  

What kit do you need?  Whatever you want!  It is all a matter of personal preference.  I swim with boots and gloves as my hands and feet have issues with the cold.  We do recommend high visibility  swim hats (I have to take this recommendation on board myself yet!) and a tow float for safety.   If you want to just wear togs that’s OK, and if you want to suit up with a wetsuit that’s fine too!   Whatever works for you.  (Of course skinny dipping is always a buzz!  😊)  A big towel and/or changing robe, a mat for your feet while you change, a towel/turban for your hair.  I have two big microfibre towels for myself and the kids as I was driven demented last summer trying to get heavy conventional towels dry on the days I dipped twice with two kids!  

 A hot water bottle.  A flask with your favourite hot tipple.  Cake’s highly recommended so if you bake please bring some along!  I bring some nutty bars or chocolate in my bucket just in case.   I change at home before a swim and just put my coat on over my togs and boots.  I bring loose easy to get on clothes (vest/tshirt, massive knickers, fleece/sweatshirt, a pair of fleece lined leggings, socks, easy shoes/boots, hat and scarf/cowl – all rolled up in one roll in order of what goes on first!).     A really warm coat is a godsend.  I love my dryrobe (sorrynotsorry) and Gráinne has a Cosimac.   There are many many new brands of robe every time I look so the choice is yours.  

When you Arrive:  It’s really helpful to lay out your stuff for ease of getting dressed as you will need to get dry and warm ASAP.  Allow for the fact that you might have uncooperative cold fingers when you get out and ready your clothes for that.   

Getting in/The Swim:   If you decide to take the plunge, do it at your own pace and in your own time.   The people you’re with will keep an eye on you and if you’re nervous or unsure let someone know.   We tend to get our courage from each other at this point and we all take a few moments to breathe and get acclimatised.  Do what works for you!  Some are mad into Wim Hof’I find slow breathing works best for me – nice big in breath followed by a longer out breath – but it’s different for everyone and you’ll find your own rhythm with what works for you.   Mid-winter I do try to acclimatise a bit before I start to swim  – I’ve discovered my shoulders need to relaxed, otherwise my muscles tend to be tense and prone to injury if I take off too fast!  If you are sensitive about cursing then bring ear plugs, this is the time it’s most likely to happen!   We usually swim parallel to the shore just a little out – in the harbour this may mean being out of your depth, so please check before you swim out where you are comfortable and safe being with the depth.   

Length of swim:   There are many resources and articles about this online.  I tend to listen to my body and trust it when it tells me it’s time to get out.  Start small and build up, but don’t overstay and be careful of feeling like you could stay in much longer with colder temperatures.   Mid winter if I feel like I could stay ages, this is a flag for me to get out!   This article is particularly useful and a look around their other articles might also be helpful.  https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/how-to-acclimatise-to-cold-water/ 

Getting out:  Straight out and dressed as soon as possible.   This is copied from a swim group (source unknown).   “The important bit is to watch for ‘after drop’ when you get out.  Get dressed within 10 minutes (not easy with numb hands), wear your swim hat till you’ve dressed, then swap it for a woolly hat at the end.  I also bring a hot water bottle.  Thick socks, gloves and layers all good.  A hot drink ASAP is helpful.   Wait for about 90 minutes to warm up properly before you have a hot shower.  The whole idea is to warm up your core from the inside out by indirect heat.  Otherwise if you get straight into the hot shower all of your body heat rushes to your skin which is the opposite of what you want.”  

I don’t always wait 90 minutes, but I am usually well on the way to warmed up by the time I get home and get to a shower as I love my cuppa and chat after the dip.    And I bring a turban for my hair – that’s the first thing I do when I get out, get a dry towel on my head. I leave it on until I have to wrangle with a sweatshirt and then swap it for a woolly hat.  It works for me!  My friend has made me a great hot water bottle sling that ties on to my torso for the cold days – it’s a godsend.   Everything goes in a tub/bag that fits everything (my tub recently broke so there’s a swim feral bag coming soon for my birthday I hope!).   

I tend to swim early mornings, so before I go to bed I pack my stuff for the swim the next day.    It helps to know I just have to get up and get the togs and coat on to go and I don’t have to think!  

It’s safer to warm up with a cuppa a little before you drive home, so we usually have a cuppa and a catch up after a swim.  If we’re out at Brittas this involves the camp chairs and some time staring at the sea while we try to wrap ourselves around the cups!  Again this is a time we tend to mind each other and make sure everyone’s warm enough and OK after their dip.

For us it’s all about the joy of the swim, the grounding joyful spirit that you discover in the water, and the ability to feel your body surrender to belonging to the sea a while.   Then there’s the laughter, the soul-bearing and heart-warming conversations, the invisible blue ribbon that ties us all together when we swim together and the beautiful warmth we feel in each other’s company.

If you’ve read this far and still have questions that I haven’t answered, please do get in touch.

Much love and stay safe,

Alison & Gráinne

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Suaimhneas

I’m finding it hard to even be on a screen this morning but I want to capture and share this now now while it’s fresh and before the floaters of an impending migraine get the better of my intentions.

I wrote this poem last week. On Wednesday evening to be precise. I’ve been doing what I always wanted to do with my swims – going first thing in the morning. Sometimes I’m solo but most days I’m lucky to have an equally bonkers Bluetit to swim with! That early morning time is so precious and so loaded with magic that I’m totally hooked.

This piece was eerily timely as I’ve been in another FreeMind training these last four days – Deep Peace to be precise which is all about healing the past and returning to self love, or even more specifically inner child healing. I’m not sure I can describe it with justice. It was an amazing, cathartic, magic and beautifully exhausting four days. It will take a while to adjust to having released a life time of so much that I never needed to carry. I’m not who I was four days ago. I have so much work still to do but FUCK am I glad I’ve got FreeMind skills and the back up of a whole gang of brave and loving souls to get me me through it as well as our always inspirational and fabulous guide Tom Fortes Mayer. I have case studies between me and becoming a FreeMind Therapist so I need to crack on and get sharing this magic! For now though, the emotional hangover is real, even after a beautifully therapeutic swim at 7am in the harbour so today is a time out and this week will have a theme of gently, gently I hope.

I’m feeling so tired, so grateful and so much lighter. May your week be easy, gentle and loving. xxx

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Word Power

I’ve had a conversation with my buddy Helen James yesterday about overwhelm and what it is.   There was quite a bit of cursing and a lot of laughing, but it left me thinking about the word and the issue of it in my life afterwards.  

If you look up overwhelm in the dictionary it will be defined by words like, overpowered, submerged, overcome, upset.    I started to think about when in my life before I felt like this, and how that’s linked to my current, knee jerk/cop out reaction to anything that looks or smells a tad like the o-word.  This milled about in my head and my heart for the day yesterday and I had a bit of a breakthrough with it last night.  

Over ten years ago, my complicated, lovely, maddening, stubborn, opinionated, talented old wordsmith of a Dad died suddenly at home getting out of bed.   The loss, the first of its kind I’d experienced in my life, devastated my world more than I knew at the time.   In hindsight I really fell apart.   I had no energy; no joy and I was entirely distracted.   I really disengaged from my family.  Everything but everything was too much.  I went on like that for a year or two and then began to come out of it.   The house was a mess, my head was a mess, and I was just not present.    The thing is, I frightened myself then with how dark and disengaged I got from my lovely life.   Everything was too much.  Thankfully, I took myself in hand when a friend said I seemed depressed and I began to claw my way out of the hole I’d dug for myself.  

Anyway, all this to say, when I have a lot to do, I think this is what my underlying fear is.  That I’ll crumble and disconnect.   I’m doing the work though, and I’ve come too far to do that again – it just takes a little bit more effort to get the message through to myself.  I did a good job of getting on with looking after my family and my home, but it was through a blur of disconnectedness I never want to feel again.   

Then, I was overwhelmed by grief and I gave it my power.   That was probably the last time I was honestly truly overwhelmed.   I give a to do list way too much power by calling it overwhelm and I’ll never use the word so lightly again.

In reality, “I am overwhelmed” is me saying “I’m afraid to step into this in case I get lost” and whilst the memory makes the fear real, it’s an old reaction to a current situation which only serves to keep me in an outdated and destructive pattern I now have the tools to release.  

There’s a piece by Danielle La Porte that I listened to a lot a few years ago.  It speaks to our power, how it gets trapped in painful events and how we must always call it back to us.   You can listen here.

“You are always in relationship with your life force. Ideally, you want access to your FULL life force. Not just half it because some of your power is on obligation-loan to the needy, or stuck in a past life, or knotted up with the person who did you wrong, or tangled up in dreading the future. Painful events create fissures that your power gets trapped in. You want to empty those pockets and get your gold back.”   Danielle LaPorte

Words have the power we give them.   I do believe I have been giving my power to this little o-word and now I’m calling it back. I have a to do list of things that honestly mostly, light me up and bring me joy in one way or another.  Sometimes they feel out of control or balance and it’s my job to lovingly maintain them in a way that keeps them in balance, in joy and in alignment with my life force. I’m lucky to be connected to my lovely life by those things I’ve actively chosen to have on my to do lists. They come from love. 😉 

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. - Desmond Tutu

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There

I free wrote this in my journal last weekend, inspired and motivated by a recurring theme in conversations with my lovely friend and mentor, Helen James. When I sent it to her in a voice message, she said something like, “drop everything and blog it now!”

For so many years now, I’ve been in a constant state of learning, betterment, the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. I’ve been doing a lot of journalling and planning this last while and it’s made me realise something about “getting there” that I’ve often heard people speak about but never really felt myself before. It’s the fact that there is no “there” or that there is no “place of arrival”! The magic holy grail of knowing/enlightenment/happiness/achievement blah, blah, blah…

I’m declaring my own “There” today. It’s called HERE. It’s exactly where I am. Messy sometimes, brilliant sometimes, always learning and open of mind and heart. It’s the best because there’s no where else to be except HERE. I am here was actually my declaration when I posed for my natural state photos over a year ago! I knew then it seems, or part of me did, that the quest for some form of “there” was over.

It’s morning. The house is still. I’m sitting at my kitchen table watching the sun paint the sky and I just want say, “I’m here”. I hope that your here is magic and messy sometimes too and that you get to live today to the fullest. HERE.

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2021 Core Desired Feelings

I arrived at my core desired feelings a while ago, but wanted to sit with them, get to know them and try them on for size before I shared about them.    It’s such a sacred part of my Christmas/New Year process (and sometimes part of my summer!) that I really like to make them mine before sharing them with anyone else.  Of course, fellow facilitator Mel got a preview as I arrived at them, because… well because she’s just that person! 

Of course, for the full immersive Desire Map experience you should read the The Desire Map book or have a fabulous facilitator take you through the process, but I’m hoping that if you haven’t done either of those things, then this will give you some insight into the magic of how the process works and why it’s so important.  

My Core Desired Feelings for 2020 were Faith, Grace and Light and am I ever glad that these were the rocks that took me through this most challenging year!  I considered keeping them as they have served me so well this past year, but I believe I now have them so ingrained in my day to day and in my thinking, that further expansion and different ways to be needed to be explored.  There are grains of these old feelings in all the new ones, because they are so much a part of my life now.   After much lounging around scribbling and journalling and desire mapping I have arrived at these three core desired feelings for 2021.   Courage, Lucid and Suaimhneas.     I’ve done a little pic for each feeling – with the dictionary definition, my definition, and my touchstone quotes to be remembered.  

There’s an exercise in desire mapping that you do to get to know your CDFs a little better, and how they might express themselves.    You run through things your CDFs would like, adore, do etc.,   You can do this for each feeling, but some of mine this year are:  Courage loves to put her big girl panties on and take action.    Lucid adores when I’m organised.    Suaimhneas feels joy when I go swimming.   Lucid remembers to pause.    Courage wears whatever the fuck she wants to.   Suaimhneas listens to the sounds of nature/mother earth.    It’s a beautiful way to give your core desired feelings character and to see the traits that you want or need to embody yourself.  

Desire Map, Heart Centered membership and Grace for Impact have all been rocks in 2020.  I’ll be leaning into them and on to them even more in 2021 and hoping to bring their magic to even more people too.    I’m happy to discuss how I might be able to take you through the process and tailor a package for you so please feel free to get in touch with me to discuss it if it’s something that calls to you.    

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Letting 2020 be…

When the news broke of another lock-down last night my hubby convinced us to get our warm gear on and we went to the beach to howl at the moon and let it all out (yip there were many expletives too!).   It’s been difficult watching my 12 year old and 15 year old struggle against the tide of restrictions we are under and parenting them through that.  We’ve banded together and reminded each other constantly that whatever happens our best way through it all is together. So far so good (or so far so managing to hang on as best we can!).  

This year I’m not eager to release myself from the year that was in it.  I’m not anticipating a big letting go of the year or planning a list of new year resolutions I won’t keep.   I feel that 2020 deserves more respect.   Those who lost so much to this year and our front-line workers deserve more respect.   It’s not a relief to let this year go, it’s an achievement to have survived it and I’m glad to have made so much progress in the midst of so much difficulty.   For my wild New Year’s Eve 2020, you will find me home with Spud, the girls and the doggos, dozing and trying hard to stay awake for midnight, glad that we made it and thankful for all the lessons and growth.   

I’ll be digging deep to stay grounded, resilient, calm and peaceful through yet another lock-down and focusing on what really matters – staying safe, minding loved ones and making the most.    From my heart to yours and our home to yours, stay safe, be well and I hope 2021 brings us all some peace, joy and radical compassion.   

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My “How To”

What a week!  I’ve been busy – some of it on the QT and some of it too exciting not to shout it from the rooftop which is where I currently am in my mind!  

If you visit this blog regularly, you’ll know I am a Nutriri advocate, supporter and now facilitator.   Nutriri is volunteer run and everyone gives of their time, expertise and passion because we believe in the work we do with Nutriri and it’s value to anyone looking to find food and body ease and acceptance in a compassionate supportive environment.    And that’s what we’ve created! 

I describe Nutriri as my how to – having decided to embrace my body as it is a few years ago, I was left wondering how.   I mean there’s a mindset switch you make when you decide to release the conditioning of a lifetime and accept your body in all it’s fabulous flawsomeness, but there are practicalities and behaviours that take some work and encouragement to really help you shift your soul to a position of loving acceptance and appreciation.  I was still seeking that true transformation when I came across Helen James and Nutriri and found my how to.

If you’re looking for a compassionate, inclusive way to find your own way to peace and ease around food and body image then Nutriri might be for you.  

The course lasts 12 weeks and is entirely easy and enjoyable to take part in.  Every second week there’s a live session with one of our wonderful Nutriri Facilitators to chat through the issues arising for you and to jam on what we can help you with.  Each facilitator comes with their own unique set of skills and lived experience, but we all come with an open heart and mind and a wish to be of service and to help others.   These live sessions end with beautiful hypnotherapy and are a highlight of the course.    Because we’ve structured the courses to launch gradually and over the weeks into new year there’ll be a vast range of Facilitators for people to choose from.   We’ve endeavoured to accommodate as many options as we feasibly can so that the course is available to and resonant with anyone who is interested.  

Of course, there is the practicality of having to fill enough spaces to make this a viable enterprise for everyone concerned, so we are aiming to have a certain number of spaces filled in each cohort in order to launch whilst being open to changing/adapting/relaunching if necessary in order to make this successful and enriching for all.   We love, love, love feedback!   So if there is something you’d like to see, or something you’d like to be different, or that you believe would made it more appealing or accessible for you, then please get in touch and let us know.   

I believe I’ve found my version of food and body peace, together with my own way incorporating the right self-care, practices, rituals, routines and learning to be able to accept the ebb and flow of how I feel about food and how I appreciate what this amazing body of mine has done, does and will do.  It’s an ever-fluctuating thing but Nutriri has taught me acceptance and joy in realising that I am right where I am supposed to be – and that’s true each and every moment!  And it hasn’t just been around food and body ease.  My involvement with Nutriri has taught me so much and helped me to grow and learn as a person in ways I never considered needed my attention.   I feel part of a really special community of entirely accepting and loving group of people.   I feel understood – even on my worst days!   The support and community Nutriri has gifted me is something I can’t even begin to quantify.   And then there’s the introduction to FreeMind and the difference that’s made in my life too (see previous post on FreeMind here.

But now!   Now I get the chance to give back and share that with others and I’m stoked to be a part of something that I believe will change lives and bring much needed kindness, compassion and tenderness to the world.   

I’d love for you to go and check this out.  I’d love to hear what you think – whether or not you think it’s for you! So please do get in touch if you feel you’ve something to contribute that we need to hear.   Of course, if you’re massively impressed, enthusiastic and want to sign up – then fabulous!  

Obviously as volunteers we still have expenses that need to be covered – so we have an affiliate link system that we are hoping will do just that.  My affiliate link is here and will bring you to all our products.   We’re also offering to hold places with a small deposit so you can do that here

#nutriri #weightneutral #HAES #bodyacceptance #intuitativeeating #self-nurture movement #mynutriri #alisonmurphynutri #alisonmurphyblog

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Mental Health In Irish Schools

I’ve posted on social media recently about my oldest daughter’s TY project to run a Mental Health Fair in her Transition Year (4th year) in school this year. Aisling was inspired by two things: 1) our own family struggle with her younger sister’s anxiety and the experience we had with her then school in getting compassionate support through school for her; 2) her own experience of the lack of sufficient support in secondary schools for anyone in crisis or needing intervention with their mental health. I am working on a blog post about our own experience but I’m finding it difficult to make my way through! It’s cathartic and wonderful as Niamh is now thriving and it’s taught us so much, but it’s one experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone else too.

I’m incredibly grateful to Aisling and Nicki Ringwood for turning this into such a wonderfully positive piece of proactive caring in the form of the Mental Health in Irish Schools project . They’ve been incredibly busy working with pulling together the fair for next month, podcasts for the future and so much more, and I have been busy doing the admin/backroom side of things!

We decided to start a petition to our government for mental health supports in Irish Schools as we believe this to be an important issue that needs attention, highlighting and discussion – not just with students and their parents, but in government also.   So far, only one week in, at time of writing, we are at 479 signatures.  

We would love to build on this and see the issue get more traction and attention and you can help us do that by signing, sharing, engaging in our posts on social media and our website and of course, by getting involved if you wish to  – just get in touch!   Please if you’re sharing add the hashtag #mhiis so we can track the shares and love you up for your support.  

https://mentalhealthinirishschools.wordpress.com/

https://www.instagram.com/mentalhealthinirishschools/

https://www.facebook.com/mentalhealthinirishschools

email:  mentalhealthinirishschools@gmail.com

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The pain we would live over and over…

Yesterday my friend and soul sister, Jane, had to part with her beloved Husky Boy Maska. Maska was a beautiful bounding bundle of husky fluff and joy. I only met him a handful of times, but was always welcomed for the husky love when I visited and the thing I’ll remember most about him was his insistence that I love him as much as possible while I was there. I speak to Jane most days in the mornings, and I’ve been through the last while with Jane doing all she could to keep her beautiful boy happy and well.

Jane’s love for her two huskies Rio and Maska, and for animals in general was, I suppose, what brought her and I together in a way – two meddlesome dog lovers asking questions and causing trouble at the pound in Wicklow many moons ago when Maska was only a young lad! I call her in the mornings after my kids have headed off to school. We chat dogs, chat to each other’s dogs (yes really, over the phone) and we generally take on the issues of the day and try to make things right. She’s seen me through my darkest days and I have done likewise for her. We’ve celebrated our wins, mourned our losses, and laughed buckets upon buckets of wonderful cleansing, joy filled laughter. Many of our conversations contain the sentence, “I can’t believe I’m going to say this out loud, but I can tell you…”

If you asked Jane about Maska, she would tell you that he saved her life. If you could ask Maska about Jane, he would say she saved his life. Rescued as a young dog, Maska came to Jane when she needed him as much as he needed her, and they grew with the ever lovely husky Rio into “Mac’s pac.” There were epic long daily walks many times a day, with Jane’s day largely revolving around getting the lads out for the walks! I’d go visit to fetch her from her home in Kilkenny to come visit with me in Wicklow, and while I was always welcomed, I often wondered if the lads hated to see me pull up outside and take her off for a few days – even though her son was always there to mind them in her absence.

I’ve heard her voice change as the realisations dawned about Maska’s failing health and she came to the unhappy conclusion that it may well be time to let him go. I could hear her heart break over the phone. It didn’t come easy but when it arrived, she knew. We know as the guardians of these beautiful creatures that there always comes a day that we have to say good bye, when we have to make that choice for our dogs, when life is too much and their bodies can’t keep going. It’s a bittersweet responsibility, but it never ceases to amaze me that you know, you just know, when it’s time. As dog lovers we sign up for this, over and over again, because the rewards are just to many to quantify with words and the love, joy and life our dogs bring to us somehow outweighs the pain of their loss.

Jane gave Maska the best home any dog could wish for. There were adventures daily. The best of food. The best of love. The best of her. She’d have moved mountains to make him well and have had him for longer, but it wasn’t to be. He’d have moved mountains for her too. It’ll be her and Rio now, walking the walks and making new adventures for the daily treks. A small pack diminished by a third but expanded by the love of Maska.

Godspeed and run free you crazy husky floof Maska. You were a truly joyful Totally Epic Dog and it was an honour to know you.

Love you Jane. xxx

Podcast postponement

I’ve ranted about Melanie Clark Pullen and the connection we have through our work and growing shenanigans/friendship here so many times that I won’t go there again! A while ago we started recording a podcast (Croí) so that folks could join us in our chats about work, love and living a heart centered life. We have both loved doing this.

Recently Melanie had news that her cancer has returned and she has since started treatment and begun adjusting to this change in her life. We spoke last night and while our chats will most definitely continue, for the moment Croí the podcast will be taking a break and returning when/if we both decide it’s time for a comeback.

In the meantime, please join me in holding Melanie in your hearts/wishes/intentions/prayers and sending her your love, light and healing.

Any queries/questions or advice – please contact me as Melanie will be offline.

Much love,

A