Back to the blog… And what I’ve been up to! (I think!)

Someone mentioned they were going to check out my blog the other day. My little heart jumped a bit!

I realised I hadn’t posted since summer, when my days were spent filling my car with sand on trips to Brittas Bay to swim my heart out and to connect with the awesome tribe that has become the Wicklow Bluetits. Gosh I miss those beautiful lazy days spent planning the swim, swimming the swim, chatting and laughing and getting tangled in tight vests and tricky knickers, all the while laughing in the warmth of the sun and each other. We are still swimming. It’s a few times a week. It’s currently at the harbour beach in Wicklow, which is stoney, deep, sheltered and unless there’s particularly stormy weather, calm. It is a great winter alternative swim spot. We do the changing dance at the boots of our car – the same tangled items of clothing and laughter, with the addition of sticky boots/socks, gloves and always, always a drink of something hot in the flask and a quick chat and giggle while we attempt to get warm. But I miss the sand. And the sounds of the waves on the sand. And the feeling of being part of nature while you swim – no noise other than the sea, the birds and the wind. December 1st, Brittas Bay. Me, the sea. It’s a date.

The big news in my world is the awesome and very important work undertaken by daughter in her transition year of school this year. Aisling supported and watched as we all struggled to guide Niamh through a particularly difficult time of anxiety and school refusal over the last few years. Thankfully this is becoming a memory for us now and Aisling’s steadfast interest in making a difference to kids going through this at school has resulted in a massive positive being made from something so painful. Some day, I’ll finish writing the story in full, but for now the newspapers are telling it for us. You can find out more on her new, currently under construction and constant improvement, website here. I’m working on a petition along side this and it will be shared here as well as through the Mental Health in Irish Schools website and socials.

Since the girls returned to school I’ve had a little more time for myself. Honestly I’ve been breathing, taking some time and probably procrastinating more than is healthy! I’ve been feeling the dip of energy that my low thyroid can bring, but am balancing this out with some tlc and the help of my lovely friend Gráinne Flanagan of Ayam Healing.

I’m finally now getting to grips and have made some wonderful connections in the last while. For the last few years I’ve been chatting with Melanie Clark Pullen of Strut and Bellow, who is a fellow Desire Map Facilitator and crazy swim lady. We both shipped in planners in bulk this year and have worked together to shepherd people looking for planners in the UK and Europe to the right person. I think I have a new sister of choice! Mel and I are working on a Heart Centered Circle for those bought planners, which will run for the month of January and also be open (at a small fee) to those who want to learn more about Desire Map, working with Core Desired Feelings and planning your day from your heart centre. For anyone interested, please email us at heartcenteredcircle@gmail.com. There’ll be a launch party soon – watch my Instagram for details coming up!

This program has kept me on track, grounded, in touch with my joy and has been instrumental in improving and expanding my resilience this year. It’s been a tricky one – I needed the help! It’s a monthly program with oh so many strands of magic and beacons of hope for your day to day joy. Here’s the list of what’s what you can look forward to.

  • A monthly Perspective to get the heart and the ego on the same page.
  • A meditation + mantra—technologies to heal and expand.
  • Full and New Moon Write + Burn exercises for cleansing our energy bodies. Release emotional suffering, make room for clarity.
  • Members-only Heart to Heart Q+As every other week on Zoom. Pre-submit personal questions (relationships, esoterica, heart centered business… anything!) This community is DEEP. 
  • A practice to support the embodiment of the perspectives.
  • A playlist in sync with each month’s theme. On Spotify and YouTube.
  • Desire Mapping prompts, rituals, poems, recommended oils, and more! Generosity is a Heart Centered favourite
  • .A tree planted on your behalf every month you’re in Heart Centered.

Doors are open today ‘til November 30th. If your heart is feeling the tug… Click here and explore the membership.

Ah I think I’ve saved the best till last! I’m working on my Nutriri training. It’s taking time as I’ve found it difficult to restore some work balance in my life! I’m determined not to rush so I can give the best I have to offer when I do begin to work as a facilitator. Helen James, Nutriri founder and another sister of choice, gently placed an idea in my mind a while back – FreeMind: Inner Child Healing Hypnotherapy. I’ve just completed the first half of this training with an amazing bunch of like minds and wonderful people over four days last week. I’m still processing but I’m so excited to bring this to my guidance offering soon.

So that’s the update on my working life right now and the current projects and passions that have my attention. I’m totally free to facilitate Desire Map journeys and will also soon be available for Nutriri facilitation and weaving these together with FreeMind Hypnotherapy to guide people on their quest for their own path home to their hearts. I’m excited for what’s coming.

I Go Swimming

“Swimming might be the closest to flying
a human being can get. There is something
about your body displacing water

in order to propel through space that makes you feel
Godtouched. That makes me understand evolution,
that we really must have crawled up from the sea.”

― Elizabeth Acevedo, Clap When You Land

My first memory of water was when I was about three years old I think. A wave washed me over on a family holiday. I can close my eyes and see the froth and bubble and my mother’s hands as she searched for me in the surf. I had no fear, just fascination for the sounds and the sea. It lasted seconds. My next childhood memory was being brought to Dun Laoghaire baths for swimming lessons. The teacher wanted me to hold my breath underwater for as long as I could. So I did. I wondered as I watched from below the water why they all looked frantic – I stayed longer than I should apparently, and they were worried. Swimming lessons it seems, were not for me.

My siblings and I are all swimmers.  We swam as kids – anywhere there was beach – usually Sandycove, Dun Laoghaire Baths, Brittas Bay, Silver Strand, or any of the many beaches we frequented on trips away as a family.  I swam as a teen, all day every day, camped out at the Vico Bathing Place (Up the Ramps!) with huge packed lunches and a bunch of friends.   I was always at home in the water, at peace there.  It was second nature.   I’ve always lived beside the sea.  I went to school beside the sea.  It was never an option to live away from the sea for either myself or my husband.   Work and life get busy though and somewhere in adulting I lost the brave that overrides the comfortable feeling of being warm!   I lost the urge to push past that.  But the sea; on it, in it, by it, has always been and will always be my happy place.   My husband knows this too – opting to either run a bath or take me to the beach when I get grumpy and out of sorts.   He instinctively knows.   It’s where my calm is.   It’s where I find myself.  

My daughters love the sea.  One is always at the harbour with her friends and my youngest is always with me when I swim.  It was her love of the sea and her enthusiasm for staying in and diving and playing that brought me reluctantly back into the sea this year.  There was a day, foggy, misty and magic, that I got particularly cold and full of aches and pain after my swim.  I was devastated to think that I needed to rethink my approach to the beach and a swim – but find it I did!  The next day I brought a spare pair of togs to change into if the weather didn’t dry me out.  I brought socks and oversized sweatshirt.  And tea.   It worked.   I think I’d two swims that day and went home feeling better than I had so far this year.  

Then a dear friend expressed a wish to get into the sea and start swimming.  We said we’d give it a shot.  No pressure.  No aim in mind other than enjoyment.  I’ve been swimming nearly every day since and never been to the beach alone.   We’ve very quickly morphed from a vague commitment to pushing ourselves into a beautifully casual group of women who organise times daily on WhatsApp for the next swim.   

Since then I’ve resurrected the brave.  It’s pushed me out of bed in the mornings, out of the armchair in the evenings and out of my comfort zone daily.  I used to take about 10 minutes to get my shoulders wet but now, when I get to the beach, I march into the sea like my life depends on it.  In fact, it’s my joy that does.   There is always Joy.    Joy at peeling the layers of clothes off to go swimming.  Joy at the invisible comfort/self-doubt/fear barrier I imagine at the water’s edge.  Joy at the cold as I stride into the waves and feel the water as it creeps and splashes it’s way over my body.   The biggest joy is the dive – head first into the sea as soon as it’s deep enough. Surfacing new, replenished, bathed, alive and JOYFUL.  It’s like coming home.   In the water I feel graceful, young, agile, nimble, at peace.  I’m water in water.   It’s part of me and I’m part of it.  I’m lolling about on waves chatting, diving and swimming and jumping and giving my daughter piggy backs. She’s giving me piggy backs!   (How old am I?  I forget in the water!)  There is laughter, yahooing, bad language and no holds barred conversations that are funny, insightful, educational, moving and enriching.   Everything is steeped in Joy.   And in In the words of an amazing woman  “… if you can get to Joy just once today, and then once again tomorrow and the next day…you will start to create grooves to your Soul — a map to Joy. You’ll remember your way back to your natural state when you slip out of it — which you will. And you’ll do whatever it takes to stay in Joy as long as you can — even if you have to fight for it.”  Danielle LaPorte

We’ve joined up with The Bluetit Chill Swimmers and formed a Wicklow Group – The Wicklow Bluetits.   Follow us on Facebook and Instagram!  Get in touch by message and we can notify you of swims as they happen.

Peggy

It seemed really odd to me a few years ago to think of publishing this Eulogy on my blog, but I’ve had a few people ask about it since, and on the anniversary of her passing two years ago, I’m thinking it’s time. Mum slipped away so slowly over the years preceding her death that the grief process has been slow and long. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I think it has softened the sharper edges of the grief for me, and it made her passing something that set her free rather than took her from us. As the years pass I’m seeing that she was a master at loving people. She’s in how I love. Every day. Always will be.

“Firstly the family would like to thank everybody for coming here today.   No doubt, wherever Mom is, she’s hopping mad that she is missing such a great gathering. 

Mum lived a very full life and was born in Waterford on May 6th, 1932 to Alice and Michael O’ Connell.  She was the second youngest of ten children and grew up on Scotch Quay in Waterford city in what was, by all accounts, a happy and busy household.   Mom told lots of stories about her childhood when we were growing up:  from Sunday boat trips on the river Suir with her father, to her sister Maureen not being in school because she was tied to a tree in the People’s Park.

Mum left school at seventeen, did a secretarial course and was soon running the accounts department of Hearn’s department store in Waterford.  She loved her job but after meeting our father, Billy and getting married, she gave up work. Their shared sense of fun and the outdoors led them to embark on a daring honeymoon adventure on a small motorbike to Mom’s brother Jimmy in Donegal.

After marriage they lived in Waterford for about a year and moved to Dublin in 1959. They fell in love with south Dublin and were delighted to be able to buy the house in Bellevue Avenue.  Mom set about her new life in Glenageary with great enthusiasm.  Being the independent woman she was, she bought a grey Mini and learned to drive – that mini was to transport us for many magical picnics at the beach and trips to the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, where the drop down boot was used as a picnic table in all weathers!  Mum was an avid crafter and loved to knit and sew as well as spending long evenings gardening.  Her talent even extended to making Deirdre’s wedding dress and bridesmaid dress and I remember her being up late into the night getting everything perfect for the big day.

Whilst she loved her new life in Dublin, she still kept strong links with her family and the south.  She spent a large amount of her time writing letters to them as well as many family trips to visit everyone on a regular basis. 

As we grew up, Mom never showed favouritism to any of us and wholeheartedly understood each of us as individuals. She always made time to listen to our troubles and, as others can attest, to listen to people in the broader family as well as friends and neighbours.  I’m sure many of you have fond memories of sitting around the kitchen table in Bellevue with Mum providing scrumptious meals, warm cuppas and a sympathetic ear and shoulder.   She provided support, but not so you’d notice and had an uncanny way of making everything seem better.  

Her true spirit and sense of character shone when she faced surgery for a brain tumour in 1977 and for a second tumour a year later.  Her surgeon considered her something of a miracle for the way she came through the surgery. The thought that she might not be there for her children terrified her and I think we all believe that this is what brought her home to us too.  I remember the day Mum came home from her first brain surgery vividly.  I’d just come home from school and Deirdre – who had at a young age very competently stepped into the role of caregiver for the rest – told me to go see the surprise in the sitting room.  There was Mum –head shorn, bruised, forehead stitched back to together and sitting by the fire in the back room.   I’ve never been so pleased to see anyone in my life and will always remember her that day as the most beautiful person I’d ever seen. 

The strength and bravery she showed in those years served her well as she faced in to various surgeries in subsequent years. In addition she faced in to 25 years caring for Dad as he went through numerous heart attacks, bypass surgery and a heart transplant. 

The arrival of grandchildren through those 25 years helped to lift the spirits of both Mum and Dad. They always gave freely of their time and home and thoroughly embraced the joys of being grandparents.  Mum kept a fine secret stash of pom bears and treats for everyone.  I know some of the grand kids will also recall mum hitching up her skirt to slide down the bannisters at home just for fun.  She loved to laugh and poke fun – particularly at Dad when she saw the chance to get under his skin – a pastime best recognised by the Peggy titter!

Mum realised the dream of a lifetime when she went on holiday to Ithaca in 2008 with Conor, Sian and Gabrielle.    One day, when Conor and mum were sitting having a cool drink by the harbour side and the girls were having fun and giggles fishing from the little jetty just beside them , Conor started to thank Mum for the huge amount of love and support she had given them in the difficult years that they had just been through.  Mum smiled and said ,  our kids “ are “  love , once you understand that you don’t need anything else to have a happy life.”  Classic Mum. 

After Dad passed away in 2010, Mom worked hard to maintain her independence. She was challenged by ill health and the onset of dementia.  Despite everything,  she maintained her sense of humour and strength of character, living up to her own motto of  making the most of life and continuing to let her love, devilment and life still shine. 

In the last couple of years she started to sing again –  in English, in Irish and in Latin. Right up to the end she was singing a few lines of the Jug of Punch and other songs that had a bit of divilment in them.  Of late, even into her final days awake,  when asked how she was feeling, Mum would wryly reply, “with my hands”. 

 In her last few weeks we were truly amazed at her bravery and steely calm. If each of us could carry even a few of Peggy’s traits we know we would be doing her proud. 

Over the last number of years many people have cared for Mom and her medical needs – her GP, the staff at St Michaels, St Vincent’s and of course the staff at Beechfield Manor nursing home.  Beechfield has been a home from home for Mom and for all of us in the family and we believe Mum to have been very happy, comfortable and cherished there.   To see the genuine love and fondness the staff had for Mum has been hugely comforting for us all and goes above and beyond the call of duty.  A special thanks to Blackrock Hospice for the very careful consideration they gave to mom in her final weeks and days too. 

In summary, Mum was a tiny powerhouse of unconditional fun, love, support and determination.  She loved her life no matter what it brought her.  Family meant everything to her and we grew up knowing it every single day.  She lives on in us all, but leaves us much to miss.  Godspeed little woman!”

Desire Map Free Access

I can’t recommend this enough – especially now at this weird time for us all. I’ve been delving deep with the help of Desire Map and it’s been a been beacon of light on some very dark days of late.

Sometimes the heart choice is right there, easy to access. Other days, we’re going to have to breathe deep, and pray, and ask for assurance, and talk ourselves into that higher feeling.

We’re going to flow and falter and learn and love. We’re going to find the sacred and lose touch with it, maybe for long periods of time, and we ARE going to come back to it. I just want us to meet this Earthly life with our holy hearts, you know. Awareness.

Heart-centered living is not all flowy, but it’s all worth it. We do have the power to learn our lessons with more joy and ease. And THAT is real progress.

Your FREE access to The Desire Map Course ends on May 13, 2020. If you’re not in there yet, I hope you join us soon: https://www.onecommune.com/a/25212/Jfx47UsS

As You Are

I came to Nutriri through my involvement with Embrace and The Body Image Movement and I’ve been lurking and supporting where possible for the last few years.   What started as a journey into body positivity, turned into an adventure into body and personal acceptance.  Nutriri really represents that adventure for me and the coming together of so many of my own experiences and passions over the last few years.  I love that Nutriri is about much more than just body image. An open hearted, compassionate and accepting will to work with people where they are to improve their relationship with food, exercise, freedom, happiness and more can in my humble opinion, only serve to make the world a better place.

I’m so excited to share that now we get to do some work and spread the word about body acceptance and ending weight stigma in Nutriri’s upcoming online summit, ‘As You Are’.    I’m where I’m at now because of so many amazing people and the work they have chosen to do – Helen James included! 

Sharon Smith, Photographer and I will be speaking about our recent photo shoot, what brought us there and the positives that it brought since for us both. 

I’ll be gifting an online intro session for Desire Map to the summit too as without Desire Map I don’t think I’d be where I am now – doing work like this and loving it!  So what’s the summit about?  Well (in Nutriri’s own words) it’s… 

“More than just another summit!

It’s a fundraising, activism and personal development summit!  Nutriri is a social good organisation working hard to end body/weight stigma and disordered eating, we need YOU to be the one that knows how to change the conversation in your family and friendship circles.

For MOST of us – weight and health judgements are causing more harm to individuals than weight itself.  We’ve known FOREVER that restrictive eating doesn’t sustain health and when we’re constantly pursuing thinness, our mental health suffers.

You don’t need to change – the conversation does!”  

So come join the conversation and be part of the change. 

You can see the line up here: https://www.nutriri.org/summit-line-up

If you’d like to sign up please follow my affiliate link here:  https://www.nutriri.org/a/wx9hv

If you’d like to know more about how Nutriri works:  https://www.nutriri.org/why-do-we-charge

I am…

I recently took part in a photo shoot with two friends, hosted by photographer Sharon Smith, who is inspired by the work of American photographer Jade Beall. It was a magic, empowering and wonderful morning full of support, love and laughter. The photos will speak for themselves when they are ready to do so but I really want to get my words down about the absolutely massive ripple effect of these few amazing hours.

I’d consider myself pretty advanced on my body image journey as well as my own internal one. I’ve embraced where I’m at right now with my body and what I need to do to improve my health, well-being and happiness. I’m taking charge and being proactive. I’m learning to live in a heart centred way and expanding into a very rich and diverse inner world that brings me daily joy and cause for celebration! Life is good. Things are changing all the time. I’m a work in progress and I’m more than happy that way.

The prospect of this shoot didn’t bother me in the least – I was excited to do it and looking forward to it.  On the day – especially having watched my buddy jump in first, I wasn’t nervous or anxious – I had no issues taking my clothes off and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.  Nothing though, could have prepared me for the feelings that came up after this shoot and that continue to ripple out daily for me. 

During the shoot we discussed, among many other things, areas of our body where we have scars or issues.  When asked what part of me that was, I replied that it would be my stomach I guess, but I was unsure why.  I gave it a lot of thought afterwards.  In fact, I was reluctantly prompted to it again the next day when someone chose to rub my stomach and ask “how is all this coming along?”  (That is a whole other blog post).  I started by tracking back my relationship with my body from when I was a child and overheard a relative tell my mother that she needed to feed me up as I looked miserable.  I moved through my teens being encouraged to gain weight – my thin body seemed to concern others and make them uncomfortable.  I blindly did this until I reached a weight that collected less comment, happy to put up with being the tall thin girl well into my twenties.  This was when I started to gain weight unintentionally – travel, way too much good living, age, hormones – I went all the way up to a size 12 (yeah seriously – this was big for me!)  in the space of a few years and the comments about my stomach and weight began as did the encouragement to keep trim.  I can vividly recall an old co-worker remark and get agreement from others on my looking “better with a bit of meat” on me.  I am not sure how I didn’t scream.  In hindsight, I was way too gracious. 

I attended weight watchers to lose weight for my wedding.  Not because I was unhappy with my size 12-ness, but because my sister was going and it was something you did for your wedding – you know, the “happiest day of your life” has to be preceded with months of point calculation and weekly fat shaming!  It didn’t last.  I do remember deciding that I was much more concerned with enjoying it all than reducing my food to numbers and points.   Unfortunately it wasn’t the end of my diet journey…

Through my thirties I continued to diet (and yeah, the comments kept coming about my poor dear round tum).  I went back to weight watchers, I tried juicing, Atkins and others I thankfully fail to recall the details of.  I’d lose and gain over and over, in a never ending cycle.  Then I had my first child and totally took on the messages of “getting back” my old figure (not sure which one!).  I discovered Lipotrim – meal replacement shakes and no food.  Jesus wept, what was I thinking?  I did this a few times too – ultimately losing what felt like tonnes of weight, and slowly putting it back on again.  After my second child I ran back to Lipotrim before I started to cop on that the results were amazing yes, but short-lived too and it was more difficult to lose weight each time – it was impacting my metabolism and the deprivation was just not worth it.  I was and continue to be very conscious of my daughters’ perceptions of my body image too.  How do you explain not eating food to a five year old without it impacting negatively? 

Over the next few years l continued to weight cycle and to struggle with ill health – low energy, headaches, mood swings, depression,  aches, pains, foot problems, joint problems, Raynauds – all checked, medicated, improved slightly and then returning to their previous status.    Weight was blamed on a number of occasions and I was told to lose some.  I didn’t believe this was the problem, but I tried anyway – I would have done just about anything to wrestle back some health.  After counselling and medication for depression I still felt no better and there was talk with my doctor of upping my doses, I decided it was time to take things in hand for myself.  I weaned myself off the  meds I was on, did a month of “clean eating” to really wipe my physical state clean and returned to the doctor for a full check-up.  I was then diagnosed with hypothyroidism and prescribed a synthetic thyroid medication to take daily.  I can remember the doctor telling me the meds were for life, that my thyroid was destroying itself and that I would start to feel better after about a month and that the weight would “fall off”.  They don’t tell you you’ll walk away wondering what you did wrong, why your body wants to attack itself or that you’ll end up feeling that you’ve yet another thing to “fix” about your deficient malfunctioning body. 

I did feel better after a month, for about a month, but the weight didn’t budge and after three months I was feeling rotten again.  There began a constant ebb and flow of up and down in my dosage and very little time when I actually felt well.  At one point I believe my dosage was too high and I tipped into hypo – that was when I decided there had to be a better way for this too!  I’ve had big chunks of time where the thyroid symptoms are under control by just eating well and looking after myself.  Big life events tend to knock that balance totally out of kilter, so after my Mum’s death last year my thyroid health slumped again and I ended up back on the meds and playing upsy downsey with the doses all over again.  I’ve stopped now.  I’m working with a homeopath friend to take it in hand again and calling on the knowledge, wisdom, self-care and self-mastery I’m working on these last few years. 

Why am I putting all this in here? It’s where I’ve been the last few weeks – delving into the stories that got me here – the ones that made me feel either not enough or too much, the ones that make me feel wrong, ill, needing to be fixed. The stories that wanted me smaller, quieter, less than or too much. The stories that saw me believe my body was anything other than wonderful for taking me through this adventure I’m on. The messages that somehow ingrained in my psyche that as a woman, I needed to behave and look a particular way to be acceptable to the world at large. The consistency of those messages has seen me diet in one way or another and striving to stay smaller in any way I could most of my adult life and still end up at a very happy and contented size 16. Do they work? Hell no!

I stopped dieting when I saw Embrace.  I knew I would.  It made so much sense. I can vividly remember thinking when I saw the trailer that it had the potential to change so many things.   That was a few years back now and I’ve yoyo’d on the body image and body love scales too ever since.  Mostly I feel very confident in myself and my body – it’s been through a heap of challenges and living and loving and life – and I am very proud of it.  I love my scars (caesarean, collar bone plate, numerous scratches, cuts, burns and mosquito bites), the veins that appeared on my legs after carrying two kids, the tattoos I chose to adorn my skin with- these things all show how much and how well I’ve lived.   I realised during the photo shoot that one of my favourite body features is the dimples I have on my back.  It was out of my mouth before I even knew that was the truth of it – “Please get my dimples in, they’re my favourite bit!”  We really don’t think about our bodies in a positive way at all – we want to constantly fix and tweak and make better to get our bodies up to standard.  And guess what?  That’s someone else’s standard.  It belongs to those who stand to gain from our insecurities about our bodies and ourselves.   

Since the shoot I delved into what my issue with my beautiful belly is and discovered that in fact the issue is not mine.  It was and is always someone else’s issue!  It was my Mum’s issue, my aunt’s issue, it was the issue of the lady who didn’t talk to me for years because when she congratulated me and rubbed my pot I said, “Thank you, it’s a beer belly and I had great fun getting it”.  It was never my issue.  It will NEVER be my issue again.  From here on in – rolling into year 50 for me in 2020 I guess I should be flattered to be thought young enough but the overwhelming feeling when this happens me is embarrassment for the eejit who has let those words spill out of their mouth, and compassion for myself that someone else could be so insensitive.

The big thing for me from all this has been reclaiming myself and rekindling the connection I have not just to this amazing body but the connection I have with my heart and soul.  Life has a habit of knocking the stuffing out of me and I can take a while to recover.  My dad died 9 years ago and it feels like life has provided sucker punch after sucker punch since!  It all went a bit wonky and somewhere between raising kids, losing loved ones and trying to find the balance of day to day life, I lost touch with myself – not just switching off the link with my amazing body but with myself too – mind, heart and soul.  I do believe it is the way we live – life is too busy to actually think about the stuff that matters and we just get on with getting on.  The last few years that’s changed for me and a journey about body image has become an epic adventure about so much more.  I remembered who I am.  This shoot was the final jigsaw piece falling into place and I can say hand on heart, it feels fucking fantastic.  

Last year my mum died.  I had watched her diet all her life.  She had always been small, petite, slim and so well turned out – heels every day and perfect hair!  She’d gained an enormous amount of weight when I was a child and after years of telling doctors that there was something more wrong with her they found two massive tumours in her brain.  She survived but was thereafter always yoyo dieting.  When I was going through her stuff a few years ago I found a very used, worn out, folded sheet on which she had typed up (on an old manual typewriter) her Mayo Clinic diet – what I guess would later have been called food combining – and the state of the paper reminded me just how often she’d do two weeks of this diet to slim down.   When she was doing this diet she’d feed everyone around her instead so it was always a joy for us!  She’d have off days – when the food was scarce and rabbit like but Friday was steak day so you could be guaranteed a very happy Peggy on a Friday!  She loved food – preparation, presentation, eating it (ironic given her taste and smell was lost to the tumours).  She was a tiny force of nature.  Her life wasn’t easy but she always made the most of every day.  She was a fierce, unflinchingly dedicated mother and we always came first.  True to the era she’d grown up in, she put herself on the bottom of that list and bowed to the pressures of a world that just found her more acceptable at a particular size and shape.  I didn’t care what size she was.  I cared that she was alive, with us, loving us, fighting for us, minding us, supporting us through everything.  I cared that our kitchen table was a sanctuary for so many friends and family down through the years who remember her meals and her welcome and her sense of humour.  She was brilliant.  No one but her cared about her size.   What people love and remember about her was her warmth, vitality and spirit. No one could ever make that smaller or better or lesser or more.

This photo shoot has changed my life.  I reclaimed my self that day;  the Alison that can only be found when the noise of the world is switched off and everything I’ve been wrongly conditioned to think about myself or my body lies on the floor in a heap with my clothes and it’s just me and my wonderfully resilient curvy body.  There is a perception for me of being free from the shackles and oppression of a something or someone that needs me to stay small, quiet and subdued in a corner somewhere.   I’m definitely not small, I have a voice and I’m definitely not staying invisible for anyone else.  If you need that from me you’ll have to move along. 

I believe it’s high time that we began to tackle the pressures put on people of all sizes to fit some ridiculously unachievable and unrealistic model of how they should look.  The thing that makes me, you, the next person to come along, so interesting is the fact that we are all so diverse and so beautiful both inside and out.   The sooner we start sharing our stories honestly and accept not just others, but ourselves, where we are and how we are now without judgment,  the sooner we can pave a compassionate path away from fat phobia and forward to inclusivity and connection. 

We got together in a garden studio one morning and did some all-embracing, empowering, body and soul reclamation as well as making some truly amazing art!  I shed some tears watching my friend pose for her photos – wishing she could see what I see – a powerful, warm-hearted, feisty and beautiful woman.   These ladies are good friends of mine.  They’re people I confide in and love to spend time with.  They are amazingly strong, intelligent, witty individuals whose opinions and friendship I value dearly.  I’ve known them both a while but feel like I’ve known them both forever.  The day of the shoot though, I feel like I really saw them for who they truly are for the first time ever.  And that’s magic.  Oh if we could see ourselves the way others see us…

I think we have some idea of the magnitude of what we have done.  It’s in the goose bumps on my arms and the back of my neck as I write.  It was in the moment I held up my arms in front of the camera and much to my own surprise declared that “I Am Here!”    It’s in my liberation since that day from carrying the expectations and issues of others in any way, other than to support them in carrying and dealing with their own load when they need help.  It’s in my thoughts when I look in the mirror and have nothing but love and admiration and at the very least, fascination and affection for what I see before me.  It’s in the way I ask my body how it is every morning and the gratitude I feel every evening for another day living.   It’s in how I hold myself daily.  It’ll be in how I continue to live true to myself and how I work to help others find the joy and treasure trove they have access to within themselves.  I can only hope it’ll be in how my beautiful daughters continue to grow and thrive true to themselves, capable of filtering out any messages that do not serve to bring them joy and growth.  Oh and just for shits and giggles it’ll be in how I respond to you if comment on my stomach size…

The sooner we start sharing our stories honestly and accept not just others, but ourselves, where we are and how we are now without judgment,  the sooner we can pave a compassionate path away from fat phobia and forward to inclusivity and connection.

Sharon can be contacted through her website at https://hippyandbloom.ie/

2020 Desire Map Planner

I thought before I put my planner order in that I’d run it down for people who want everything in one place. All the cover options come in script or type with the daily coming in gorgeous pink/gold art cover and classic purple, the weekly coming in blue/gold art cover and again classic purple and the undated available in two beautiful art covers – turquoise and what I’m calling heathers! For those of you who are wondering what the big deal is – these planners stand the test of a year of use really well, they are objects of beauty as well as being practical, wonderful guides for planning your life around how you want to feel. Step into Desire Map and Desire Map planning for 2020 and you won’t regret it! Contact me if you’ve any questions or wish to place an order.

Here’s the choice for Daily Planners:

Weekly planners are gorgeous too:

And the incredibly gorgeous and hugely flexible undated planner:

Ideas, Introspection, Clarity and Action

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Mid July. I’ve had a holiday and some time to breathe since the girls finished school.   We needed it all of us – space and time to process the challenges this year brought and the triumph we managed to find in it all!  It’s been pretty shit.  It’s also been a growth spurt of epic proportions for us as a family and quite possibly each of us individually too.  I know it has been that way for me. 

I haven’t worked walking dogs at all this year and made the decision to stop some months ago.   I think I needed a little time to see how things worked out but I believe it was the best decision to make.  I have had a total blast doing it and wouldn’t change a thing.  I count myself honoured to have gotten to know so many lovely animals and their people and to have been in a position to do it.  

A few years ago the hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I heard these words during an online course when someone who they’d resonated with read them to the group over a call. They’re from Danielle LaPorte.

“Most people will proceed as planned. They’ll stay quiet, suppress their doubts with rationality. They’ll make the choice to save money, save face, not rock the boat. Don’t want to disappoint people. There’s a lot on the line. I said I would, so I should.

Safe. The road to mediocre is always really…safe. And in terms of fulfillment, “safe” is really, really dangerous.

The Courageous Minority will risk being judged as indecisive, unreasonable, and flakey (in fact, they’ll expect it). They’ll take a deep breath and steady themselves for some conflict, a miracle, or both. And they will put on the brakes, throw a wrench into the works, push for change, ask for the unreasonable. Or move on. Completely.

Their risks tend to pay off, because they took them. Even though…they had come so far, invested so much, raised the stakes, had people to please, signed the contract, booked the flight. Even though…it’s really uncomfortable, extremely inconvenient, disruptive and awkward. It’s always awkward.

Courage elevates your perspective of time. You can see that the disruption of risk is temporary, and that playing it safe can extend your numbness for a very, very long time — and that’s how “good enough” becomes toxic.

Mediocrity isn’t benign. Or passive. Or neutral. It’s soul poison.

And “risk” doesn’t seem that risky when you consider that your joy and integrity are on the line.”  Danielle LaPorte

This was like something my Dad would have said  –  he regularly spoke about throwing away the safety nets, taking the risks, stepping out of your comfort zone to be true to yourself – all probably more important to him than a lot of other things in his life (that’s a story for another day!).  It really hit home. It made sense. I had to know more.

So I eagerly looked up Danielle LaPorte. I downloaded the audio books of White Hot Truth and Desire Map and started listening on my dog walks every morning.  Simply put it blew my mind.  That year I spent Christmas to New Year in my chair by the fire desire mapping – doing the work book, diving into myself and absolutely loving the process, the insight, the release of the old and discovering for the first time my core desired feelings for the year ahead.  I used my planner daily (I still do!).  It’s my anchor for the day ahead – my starting point with a full reminder of the feelings I want to feel.  The goal setting that came thereafter was softer, kinder and gentler than any other goals list I’d done before (and in fairness I had not done many as I’m a little averse to the word for some reason!). And I believe I met every one of those wishes that year.  And the next…  And I’m doing it again this year! 

My Mum passed away last year after a very long illness.  My hubby and my girls and my dogs and my lovely friends and family got me through, but a large part of my resilience through that awful time was my daily planning and my CDFs, and endless audio from Ms. LaPorte to keep me company on the dog walks, with her meditations helping me stay calm and centred on the really tricky days and through the longer darker nights. 

So when I started to think about moving on from dog walking, becoming a licensed Desire Map facilitator was the next dream job!  I thought it out of reach but circumstance and persistence lead me to realising it and get to work on it this year.  Every time I sit down to work on my offerings I’m struck by the rich content, the care and love taken with every word and I’m incredibly grateful I get this chance to do this work. I love words, and this work relies heavily on their meaning and magic to inspire, infuse and energise. The Desire Map community and facilitator community is a place of growth, love, kindness and joy. I feel like I’ve stepped into a massive warm virtual hug and I carry it with me as I delve deeper into this work.

Desire Map is a heart centred how to on getting in touch with how you want to feel in every area of your life.  It shows you how to your Core Desire Feelings, and how to use those feelings in your daily life to feel the way you want to feel, and achieve the things you want to achieve.  As Danielle LaPorte says in the Desire Map “You’re not chasing the goal itself – you’re chasing the feelings that you hope attaining those goals will give you.” 

I offer one to one sessions and group workshops both in person and online.  I’m currently planning my first at home intro session with more to come soon and am happy to facilitate these online also.  Intros are a taster of the process of Desire Mapping which will last maximum 2 hours.  These will be followed up with Level 1 and Level 2 Desire Map Workshops.  I hope you’ll join me.  I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

Just contact me and we’ll make it happen.

“Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.  Generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life.”  (from Session 3:  “The Strategy of Desire”, The Fire Starter Sessions

Intro Sessions Coming Soon!

Desire Map is a heart-centred guidance system for making choices, being more present and living your life based on how you want to feel. It’s helped me find ease, joy, alignment, compassion, tenderness and resilience among many others and I’ve been so taken with the impact for me, I’ve become a facilitator for this work. I’m thrilled to share the experience and give you a taste of what Desire Map can do for you. Contact me for more details.