Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Working From Home

                 The view from my office window!

I’m in my third week of working from home now, so I thought I’d tell you what it’s like. I have worked from home before, of course, but that was before the time of video conferencing and other technical advances! The way people react when I tell them I’m home based, tells me that many have no idea what it’s really like.

Of course, “what it’s like” differs depending on what kind of work you do and also your personal preferences. I know some artists who don’t have any “work hours” at all, and others who need a schedule in order to produce anything. Therefore, please don’t take anything I say here as set in stone.

“Cool! You can work in your pyjamas!”
Err, no. I work with video conferencing a lot and so I need to be presentable at least from the waist up! But apart from that, my recommendation would be to dress for work in any case. It’s one way of showing yourself that you are serious about this, you are not lounging about at home and doing some work whenever you feel like it. Professional dress makes for a professional attitude.

“So you might be sitting at your kitchen table with your laptop…”
No, again. I have an office with a work computer and am required to close the door and have no noise or distractions around me. It doesn’t matter if it’s the daytime job or my Coaching; concentration and focus are important.

“Having no commute must be amazing!”
It is. It’s the best part of working from home. Compared to my previous job, I save two hours for the commute alone, EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s great! I use this time to take up my beloved walks again, get some exercise, and spend more time with my budgies. When I’m done working, I switch off the computer and walk to the other room, and bam, there’s my free time. I looooove it!

“Don’t you miss your colleagues?”
Nope. I talk to them just like I would if we were sharing the same office. However, being at home leaves me more time to do what I really want to do, and see who I really want to see, outside of work hours.

“Are your work hours flexible?”
Yes and no. My j.o.b. has fixed hours, and as for my Coaching, I SET fixed hours. Thinking that you’ll “do something in the evening” is naïve; it just won’t happen that way. So just like I schedule the actual sessions with my clients, I schedule my business work. It’s the way to get things done, at least for me!

So this is it. I haven’t even touched on the bonus of watching the cats play in the field behind the house, and the crows and magpies in their daily routine, or popping in to say hello to the budgies during breaks. The time with them is so precious, especially with my Talion. He’s holding up well so far but sooner or later the gastric yeast is going to kill him. I’m enjoying every minute with him, talking to him, watching him sleep, feeling his silky feathers when he’s on my hand eating millet… It’s such a privilege.

I meant to write about the Equinox and establishing a routine of rituals and other practice here, but I think I’ll do that another time. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying early autumn! Many blessings from me.

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Sunday, 20 September 2015

Nutella Waffles And Making Friends

                Note: Not my photo. I got it from the cafe's Facebook page

The moment I entered, I knew this was “my” café. The tables are plain natural wood, and over the counter, there’s a blackboard with the writing: “If tea can’t fix it, it’s a serious problem!” I liked it so much I made an exception to the suger-free diet I’ve once again adopted after leaving my last job, and ordered fresh (fresh!) waffles with nutella and cream. They were divine!

I’ve also found my local supermarket, greengrocers, health-food store, and techie store. In other words, I’ve got all I need and am happy.

The house is nearly done too, there are still bits and pieces I need and it will be a work in progress for another six months or so, but the rooms have stopped looking empty and I no longer have to run around for 20 minutes looking for something before I locate it. I’ve settled into my home office and done the first week of training for the new job.

Magically, I am preparing for the first proper ritual in years because I’ll finally have enough space again! Tuesday evening I’ll celebrate the Equinox in my living room, and it’ll be the first evening I make fire in the fireplace too. Very much looking forward to that! There’ll be dancing and stomping and whirling, and a feast to boot.

As for making friends, I still need to find some humans but I am getting to know the animals in the area. The crows quickly realised that a hag had moved in, and now they sit on my roof and on the garden wall cawing every day, especially in the mornings. I leave out nuts for them on the garden wall, which makes a good dozen of them decend within minutes and demolish it all. They’re such beautiful, wise birds.

Then there’s kitty. I suspect she belongs to the people next door, but she’s outside practically all the time. I would adopt her in a heartbeat, but that’s not possible because of the cutest. Fortunately, kitty seems to be used to come to this house, but never enter it – she jumps onto the sill of the kitchen window when I cook or make a cup of tea, so I bought some healthy cat treats at the supermarket and each time kitty turns up, I open the window, cuddle her a bit and give her a treat or two. She’s such a pretty one, I’ve got to take a picture some time.

My house is the last in its row and on the very edge of the housing estate, which itself is at the edge of town. This means that there’s a field right next to me with a herd of cows grazing, some with calves. I haven’t befriended them yet but I love watching them when I come back from a walk.

Maybe this isn’t the most sensational blog entry, but I suspect there will be more of this kind. It’s my life now, and I still marvel at it every minute of the day. I have slowed down to a pace which allows me to keep up with myself, and I’ve discovered a new energy for things I never had much time for up to now: I spent hours adjusting the length of some curtains (I don’t have a sewing machine so it took forever, but was worth it) and I don’t even mind cleaning.

The house is beautiful, but not in good condition – it’s as if nobody has ever shown it any love. I’m working on changing this, and I suspect it’s changing me in turn.

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Friday, 11 September 2015


I finished up my old job on Wednesday, drove to Ikea, bought half the store, and then drove all the way back to Mayo with my car full of flatpack boxes. And now I'm here, and I'm unpacking, assembling furniture, assembling more furniture, and I'm black and blue and stiff, but also undeniably happy.

Every day I make sure I spend some time with my budgies and do something fun outside as well as working. Today I'd planned a walk all around the town, but the weather is such that I'd have been in danger of drowning so I simply went for lunch in a cafe instead. Yesterday, it was cloudy and a little misty, but dry, and I took a drive all around Lough Mask. I thought I'd show you the pictures I took along the way, turning this post into a page from a photo album. Are you up for it? Then read on.

Apologies, the pictures aren't the best quality as I'm still struggling a little with my new phone camera. Also, I feel bad for how many incredible sights I drove past without stopping for a photo - from the huge field blazing purple with blossoming heather to the roofless ruin of an ancient church. Anyway, here's a selection of what I got! Click the pictures for larger versions.

          The Lough's Northern end, with its many small islands.

The last flowering bushes of summer. I loved the vibrant colour against the grey of the clouds and the lake. It was around there, on the Western shore (the side facing towards Connemara), that the narrow road led through small bits of forest and at one point, I suddenly felt goosebumps springing up all over me and the thought: "This is witchy country," popped into my head. I have no idea where it came from, but the magical energy was incredible.

When I got closer to the Southern end of the lake, the landscape changed to the typical green hills of Connemara with its almost unreal mystical light. I love sunshine, but this landscape looks almost better in the clouds; it's as if the grass was illuminated from within. The picture looks darker than it actually was, by the way. It was cloudy, but not dim. 

I still can't quite believe I live here!

At the Southernmost tip, I got a glimpse at another, smaller lough in the neighbouring valley - Lough Nafooey. It felt amazing to stand on this hill, surrounded by grass and sheep, and looking down onto two majestic bodies of water covered in mists.

So this is my new home! At no point along the journey was I more than 30km away from Ballinrobe. It's almost too much beauty to process.

I just hope there'll be some better weather again over the weekend, because from Monday on I'll be busy - I can finally tell you now, that I got the work-at-home job with Apple that I'd been applying for! Training starts next week. I'm really looking forward to it. My work iMac was delivered the other day, so now I need to get up from the computer again, assemble my new desk and set up the iMac! Life is hard, eh?

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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Farewell To Mermaid Town

The other day, I went to Mayo to sign my lease and drop a few things in my new place. I can’t get over how big it is! My few pieces of furniture are going to look lost in all these rooms, haha.

And while I’m organising and packing and wheeling and dealing, I’m also becoming increasingly aware that these are my last few days in Bray. I’ll be back briefly next week, to clean up and hand back the keys, but by this time next week I’ll no longer have a home in Bray.

I’ll miss it. Much as I feel like I’m “going home” to the West, and much as my situation in Bray hasn’t suited me for the longest time – that’s the situation, the fact that I am a light sleeper and the walls are thin. It doesn’t change the fact that the people I rent from are lovely, and that Bray is beautiful. I love being so close to the sea, and I love my “stubborn rock” Bray Head, whose steadfast energy and unfathomable strength has nourished me so much over the past three years.

Yes, it was a good thing to come to Bray. I still drive home by the strand every afternoon, roll down the window and breathe in the fresh salty air, and marvel at the beauty of the sea and Bray Head. I’ll miss all that.

Living here was what I needed at the time. I had sorted out my finances, and these past few years were the crown on the “restoration program”: paying back the last of my dues and making savings for a possible deposit on my own place. I finished both, and I’m very glad and proud I did, but I’m also aware of the price I paid – many years of living skint and working in places that aren’t suited to my soul and my entire being, making myself go through it in order to reach my goals. It was definitely worth it, but the task is accomplished now and the compromises are no longer necessary.

It is time.

It is time to look ahead, to live again, to sleep again, to be surrounded by beauty, by my birds, and by my work. The internet in my new place is connected and works perfectly, so my survival is secured. I won’t have to compromise by leaving the house, unless something unforeseen happens. I am very, very grateful and at the same time, I know that I’ve worked so hard and gone through those last years to earn myself this next step to my own life.

On Saturday morning, my favourite movers (if you’re in Ireland and need to move, ask me and I’ll give you the contact. Best people ever!) and I will load all my stuff into a van and then drive the long way across the country. My budgies will be scared, but without drama queen Tia it’s going to be a lot easier. They’ll be fine.

Once arrived, I’ll place the birds into their new, peacefully quiet room and proceed to help unloading. I’ll have a beautiful living room with a sofa (which can be converted to a double bed – hint hint, my friends, come and visit me!), a huge kitchen, a garden, a small office, and FOUR bedrooms upstairs, of which one will be the room I read and game in next to the budgies, one I’ll sleep in, one will be for storage, and one… well, I don’t quite know yet.

After the weekend, I’ll go back to work the last few days in HP, and then I’m back to Mayo for good. For good and for better, and best. Wahoo!

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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

My New Home

Here’s my new house! Well, not mine, obviously, but my rented home from the 5th of September. I just wish I could skip the week-and-a-half in between and fast forward to having arrived – moving house is NOT my favourite pastime, especially when it includes furniture and is spread between two addresses (when I moved to Bray three years ago, I left behind some of my stuff in my old place).

I disassembled an Ikea wardrobe and almost dropped the frame on my toes when I lowered it to the ground. I pulled out all the stuff I’d stored under the bed in my current, tiny flat and nearly suffocated in the dust clouds. My budgies do NOT like all the boxes in “their” room, and me running around and making scary noises. I suspect they’ll like it even less when I dismantle their aviary next week and all three will have to live in Laeas’s cage for a few days!

But that’s what we need to do in order to get to our new place. I can’t wait!! Ballinrobe is such a lovely little town, just the right size for me, and the house is on the outskirts but still within reach of proper broadband. At least I hope so, because I may have a job lined up if I can prove my broadband is fast enough. To do that, I’ll have to test it at some point hopefully next week. Please keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I’m working towards my last month end in the current job, and I’m so idiotically busy at the moment that I almost forget to be happy sometimes. I admit with everything I have to organise outside of work, it’s fairly stressful right now. I keep telling myself it will soon be over.

And then I’ll be living my dream of working from home and being able to sleep! Woohoo! I can’t believe it’s really all happening now. I think I’ll have to pinch myself a lot before I really know it’s true. Waking up in the morning, and instead of rushing around getting ready and out the door, I’ll have breakfast with the cutest and then go to my office in the next room. I’ll make my own, healthy lunch at noon, and when I’m done with work, it’ll once again be just a few steps back to the cutest – to gaming, working on my business, and maybe a Coaching session or two.

Every. Single. Day.

No, I don’t quite comprehend it yet. I guess I’ll have to be there to believe it!

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