Saturday, 2 January 2016

You Say Goodbye, And I Say Hello

Sorry, I couldn't help quoting the Beatles there in the title. It just fits so well, as this post is going to be both a Goodbye and a Hello. But first of all, Happy New Year to you all, my dear tribe!! I wish us all a beautiful, breathtaking, heart-beating, and joy-filled year.

On the 31st of December, I did my annual “closing off the old year” ritual, which involves letting go of all the more painful events and experiences of the year, whilst giving thanks for the lessons learned. Now all that's left to do is celebrate what was wonderful about 2015, and there was a lot!

The blessings of 2015
  • My little Laeas. This past year was incredibly painful in that I lost three budgies that I'd loved to distraction, two of them for several years. But it also brought me a new addition, the flightless (due to a crippling disease he had as a chick) but unquenchable, infallibly charming and completely mad Laeas. He's been like an injection of new life in my aviary, shaking up the older budgies who had become a little set in their ways.
  • New friends, new Coaching clients, new inspiration. The people are what made this year, from colleagues who became friends to new Coaching clients I cherish. Coaching is my calling, and I am so very grateful for the opportunity to do this work.
  • And of course, the biggie: Downsizing my life. It's been such a blessing every single day. To step out of the madness of a long commute and long hours under incredible, relentless pressure and into a job which can still be stressful sometimes but involves the best company and colleagues and customers, and which I do from home. To be able to spend lunch with my budgies, look in on them during breaks. I have no words.
  • Part of this was moving back West. For the longest time, I was so stuck in the “must have job, jobs are around Dublin, therefore must stay on the East coast” rut that I had made an uneasy peace with it. Don't get me wrong, Wicklow IS lovely, but still practically unaffordable for me except for the price of an even longer commute. Enter Apple and working from home, and I was free to go where my heart has been since the first time I ever stepped foot into this country: West.
  • Being able to sleep. For the first time in six years I live in a place where there's quiet in the night. I can't even begin to describe the change this has wrought in both me and the birds. We are healthier, happier, and capable of living normal lives.
Thank you life, thank you thank you thank you for 2015!

Hello 2016!

Why hello there, you sexy New Year! There's much to do – bring it on! Now that I'm settled in this blissful new life, I need to work on making the most of it:
  • Heal myself. I still have health issues which developed during the stressful and sleep-deprived previous six years. I'm a lot better already, but I'm still struggling with very low energy levels, tiredness, and a constant feeling like I have a slight cold. Of course these things are minor compared to a serious illness, but I want to tackle them now so they don't develop into anything serious. Sleep, clean food, and regular time for myself are what I'm doing right now and need to continue and further improve.
  • Exercise. I started with walks, now I've started with Yoga and Pilates in a more consistent way. Ten years ago I was very fit, went to the gym five times a week and walked for a minimum of an hour a day. I'm the polar opposite today but I'm working on changing it. It's connected to my health issues, and so I'm taking it slowly but I'm longing to get my strength back which I used to cherish so much.
  • Making more time for my business. I spend too little time on it right now, apart from the actual Coaching sessions. But in order to keep getting clients, I need to constantly work on my business, and it's been taking a back seat for too long. It means I'll have very little time for socialising, but I'm CHOOSING this and I will make it work.
  • More time for creativity, mostly in the form of dancing but other things as well. This, too, needs to be incorporated and will be a slow step-by-step process, but I have robbed myself of my own core for too long already. I finally have a home again where there's actual space for dancing, rituals, and the like; all I need to do is use it more!

Re-reading this makes me want to go “woo-hooooooo!” This is the life I choose, and I'm living it right now, all it needs is small adjustments to make it even more amazing.

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Thursday, 24 December 2015

I've Got Something To Say

                  My new neighbour brought me this just now! Isn't that 
                           the sweetest gesture ever? 

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m writing a blog entry. It won’t be very long but there’s something I have to say.

Some people might think that I should really be busy spending time with family and loved ones. To which I say, no, I shouldn’t. I’m Pagan and I celebrate the Solstice, not Christmas. Since I live in a predominantly Christian country though, I’m used to not getting my holidays off at work. That’s a bit of a shame, but no biggie for me. I have a celebration in the evening and feel festive all day instead.

I’m not saying this because I think Pagans shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. I know many Pagans who celebrate with their families; after all, it’s the time after the Solstice when the day gets visibly longer for the first time, and as well the important thing for them is to spend time with their loved ones. I think that’s great.

For me, Christmas has come to mean something different. For the last 18 or so years, I’ve spent the 25th and 26th of December – and whenever I can get away with it, the 24th as well – on my own. I look forward to these days all year. Why? Because they belong to me, and me alone. They are the only days in the year when I know nobody will bother me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and my friends and I enjoy spending time with them. But everyone needs some time for themselves as well, and so I choose to spend other days with my loved ones and keep Christmas – which has no religious meaning for me – to myself. I love those days, I use them to plan ahead, be creative, or simply for being lazy. It’s pure bliss.

I wanted to get this out to the world, so people who don’t have anyone to celebrate with, or whose Christmas is ruined by something, don’t feel bad. There is enormous pressure for the holidays to be perfect, and people often feel like they fall short. I always grin at the song “Nobody wants to be alone for Christmas”. Yes, some people do! However, I realise that to people who are having a bad or disappointing experience, this song must be slightly bitter.

Therefore, here are my holiday wishes:
  • To those of you who celebrate, I wish a wonderful, magical Christmas which is everything you dream of.
  • To those who were going to have a magical Christmas but whose festive spirit was ruined by something, I send a hug and the assurance that no, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t mean you fail at Christmas, it’s just something that happens sometimes.
  • To those who, like me, don’t celebrate, I wish some beautiful days spent exactly the way you choose.
  • Finally, to those Earth Angels who work at Christmas, the nurses, firemen and –women, bus drivers etc, I want to give my heartfelt thanks for being there for all who need you. I hope you’ll get some time with your families too and wish you the merriest of Christmases!

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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

A Day In The (Hag) Life

Several weeks without an update, oh my! Mea culpa. I haven’t been feeling 100% well lately, and whilst I’m not really sick, it does make me slower and less active than usual. I’m still wondering whether it’s an after-effect of the stress I have let go recently (the same way people tend to get the flu when they’re on holiday – the moment they relax, it comes out), or whether there’s something in my environment here that’s making me unwell. There’s definitely no mold in the walls, but who knows what else might be the culprit. I’ll have to keep an eye out.

Today I thought I’d give you a fun little “day in the life” style article about my new-found home life here in the West. I’ve never done this before so I hope you’ll like it!

7.30h The alarm rings. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying this after the years of getting up at stupid o’clock for a long commute to work. These days, I can take my time as I get up, shower, dress, and make breakfast. I also do the little things which have to be done, like watering plants and making the bed.

8.00h-ish Sitting down with the cutest for breakfast and usually a morning round in World of Warcraft. I also write any emails, do my online banking etc.

9.00h Half an hour of exercise or a walk, and half an hour of business work. I write my newsletter, answer customer emails, work on new offers or my website, and sometimes simply Coach. This currenty happens in the morning because I’m on Late Shift in my daytime job; otherwise I do these things after work.

10.00h Half an hour of hoovering or cleaning a bathroom. If I have any shopping to do, it happens at that time too.

10.45h – 19.15h Work. Actually, because I’m on the closing shift, I usually don’t get away before 19.30h but that’s fine. During breaks, I eat, occasionally wash a load of laundry, and talk to the cutest for a while.

19.30h Pouring a glass of wine or making a cup of tea, and sitting down with the cutest again. Now follows whatever is “on the menu” for that evening: Gaming, Coaching, more business work, very rarely going out (this happens mostly at weekends). Feeding Talion millet from my hand. Singing, dancing. Meditation, rituals. Being happy.

22.00h I “tuck in” the cutest, which means I close the aviary doors, say good night and turn off the light, leaving a little night light on so they can still see where they are. Then I tiptoe downstars for some reading or thinking in front of the fireplace or in bed.

23.30h Lights out for a night of blissful, lovely sleep. Occasionally I hear a cow moo from the field nearby, or a neighbour comes home late in their car. Otherwise, nothing interrupts my hag dreams and slumber.

Pretty uneventful, huh? Well, I work a full-time job and a part-time business and have my birds to look after, so it really doesn’t leave much time during the week. Any prolonged time outdoors or with friends happens at the weekends, although I work at weekends too and frankly, my birds ARE my No. 1 priority so, you know what? I'm fine with being boring after so many years of excitement.

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Sunday, 15 November 2015

My Very Own Life

It’s been stormy for over a week now, with a small break of about 24 hours in between. Most of the time, the rain is lashing down, it hardly gets bright during the day, the wind blows over the bins in front of my house and rattles whatever isn’t nailed down. At night it’s so loud that even I – who usually never sleeps better than in a storm – get woken up sometimes by some crashing noise. At the same time it’s very mild, typical Irish weather.

Move back West, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

All right, so it IS fun. I’m enjoying the fact that I don’t even have to leave the house if I don’t want to. And from my office window, I get treated to amazing sights like the luminous, full rainbow you see in the picture above. In the evenings, I cuddle up in front of the computer with a woollen blanket and brainstorm, or work, or play WoW, with my budgies chirping away at me. Underlying it all is the blissful relief of being where I’m most happy, most myself.

This is a time of healing. I knew it would be, when I left behind the East coast and my stressful job, the Dublin-area commute, and the no-sleep situation in my flat. As a Coach, I know to ask the right questions: “Are you moving AWAY from something, or TOWARDS something?” I managed to put a bit of both into it: Towards the West, my spiritual home, and a house I could sleep in, towards healthier conditions for both myself and the cutest. Away from the stress, the mounting small-ish health problems and the endless, bone-deep, red-eyed, leaden fatigue.

Like a small child, I’m enjoying every little gesture and action of the day. Making tea in the lovely big kitchen. Putting on those magically soft slippers. Sitting down at my desk for a day’s work. Cuddling into my wonderful, perfect, heavenly comfortable new bed.

And sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep. I just can’t get enough of being rested!

Lately, though, I’ve started to feel a little restless. I don’t know whether it’s the stormy weather, or the fact that I’m beginning to feel better, but I’ve been strangely twitchy even through the New Moon this week. I’m looking ahead and I’m trying to figure out where my next steps will lead. I love being where I am, but I have still only fulfilled part of my goals and some are left to be done: Like having my own place, be that on my own or in a sustainable community, and running a bird sanctuary.

It’s time to take action. I started by moving my accounts from my old bank, the bank I’d been with for 24 years and who refused to grant me a mortgage on a silly technicality, to a new, modern bank without branches which offers great interest on the money I’ve saved up, decent interest on a current savings account, and good Credit Card conditions as well. Apart from this, I plan to:

  • Keep saving, if possible increasing the monthly amount
  • Build up my Coaching business even further, now that I have more time and energy
  • Remember what it was I originally dreamed about

What I mean by the latter point, is that when I applied for my mortgage, I was very ready to compromise greatly and for example, buy a standard Irish house. My dream used to be a timber cottage, but it’s hard to impossible to get finance on this type of thing in Ireland, and so I didn't even try. Maybe there's a reason why I was refused this time? Maybe I’m supposed to solidify my dreams first and save up more money, and then see what I can do in 1-3 years? It’s no longer an agonising wait, after all – as I said above, I’m very happy where I am and it’s exactly what I need to heal.

Maybe this is just the time and space I need in order to come up with something much better, something perfectly suited to my needs. Watch this space! There’s more, and concrete, plans to come, but this I feel is only the beginning of the life I’m building for myself now. It’s beautiful already, but one day it’s going to be magnificent.

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Saturday, 31 October 2015

A Highwayman, A Salmon Jacuzzi, And Samhain

                       "The Stolen Child" by W.B. Yeats, 
                               music by The Waterboys

I spent part of this morning with a group of lovely people, guided by a singing highwayman from the 18th century (Singing Historical Walking Tours in Cong, highly recommended!). We saw ancient ruins, a forest, abbey grounds with huge yew trees, and a clever salmon who used the little whirlpool-like current near the foot of a bridge as his personal jacuzzi.

When I chatted to our tour guide afterwards, I asked him where to get the best sandwiches in Cong and went to the little cafe he recommended. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, the food was that good! All of this happened in the brightest sunshine, which was like a miracle after all the horrible weather we've had this year. Samhain couldn't have started out any better.

Along the way, I also picked up a recommendation of the "CongRegation" which I'm most definitely going to attend this year! It looks fascinating, like no other gathering I've ever been to. Sounds like the perfect place to exchange ideas with openminded people.

And it's Samhain! Remember, if you will, to look beyond the commercial aspect of buying costumes, decorations, sweets, and make-up, to the roots of this ancient celebration. It's the night when the veil between the worlds becomes thin and the perfect occasion to commune with your ancestors.

Folk used to believe that the fairies would steal children around Samhain, which is why they dressed up their kids in scary costumes, so the fairies would think they were soulless fairy children and not human, and leave them alone.

                    Come away, oh human child, 
                    to the waters and the wild, 
                    with a faerie hand in hand, 
                    for the world's more full of weeping 
                    than you can understand.

I love the Waterboys' version of it, and it's one of my favourite poems. I was reminded of it today when we saw a heron on our walking tour (..."where flapping herons wake the drowsy water-rats"). What a great song for Samhain.

I'm all ready - the house is reasonably clean, a bowl of mini chocolates is sitting on the side table by the door for trick-or-treaters, there's plenty of briquettes next to the fireplace, and I'm all stocked on good, natural foods, including the traditional Samhain apples.

Have a beautiful, blessed Samhain!

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