Notes from the Edge

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Many of regular readers here will be familiar with my monthly newsletter where I share some reflections on the month that passed, news of updates and happenings and links to resources from around the web to inspire, cajole and education us on our own path. I’ve recently added an audio section to the letter too, called Notes from the Edge. For for those not familiar here is a sample of this months below and you can listen back to last month’s here. I am excited to see how all this evolves. It feels like a beginning.

Click on the image below to have a listen and/or continue reading to the text format

 

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Notes from the Edge// September 2017. 

‘There should always be a healthy tension between the life we have settled for and the desires that still call us. In this sense, our desires are the messengers of our unlived life, call us to attention and action while we still have time here to explore fields where the treasure dwells’ – John O’Donohue 

I have the above quote scrawled at the beginning of my current journal. I like to inscribe the words in my own hand, hoping that the re-writing of them will endorse their memory, drawing their wisdom deeper towards where their essence can touch; which is inwards.

I reread the quote aloud a few times then circled the word ‘tension’. It seemed a peculiar choice. So often we are sold the notion of ‘life balance’, and in many body practices we are instructed to ‘release the tension’, or ‘let go on the tension’. It is an instruction I have both followed, and in turn given.

Writing the quote down a few weeks ago almost feels preemptive now, given the turn of events in my life. But it has certainly made me think; what is the role of tension- in our bodies, our lives and our dreams; and what is a healthy version of it.

Let me explain.

I’d followed the marketing book: word of mouth, testimonial, posters, newsletters, Facebook Ads, Instagram posts, linked in updates, other networks and all several times over. I was promoting a new round of Thrive School in Dublin aiming find the next cohort. It’s a powerful programme, and the content and connections among participants had been powerful too. I was looking forward to this round. But the raw truth is, not enough people applied, this thing I had poured my heart into. And so with the same heart, a little heavier, I need to cancel it.

I have learned not to take it personally. It’s never personal. It’s to do with timing, and price, and offering and cultural context and where people are in their lives. All that said, it doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging, or the day I realised I needed to make the call, I didn’t shed a tear. It’s usually emotional for me- whatever I am doing, because, well, I care. I know the tears are cleansing, a way for the tension to transform. You see this was a thing that I was building.  It was going to be my core income for the coming months, and the way to channel my skills.  And the core truth of it is that, yes, sometimes it is tough.

The irony is not lost on me either. Here am I running programmes called ‘Thrive’ and I am absolutely deep in the question of how. To Thrive, in some sense is an aspiration.  Thrive School is very much my own schooling too and I have much to learn.

And yet, I have been here before- with other programmes, and ideas, and things I put out into the world which didn’t land the way I thought they would. And so I have learned too: it is never the end and it is never back to a blank drawing board. Looking along the trajectory of our lives the essence of our callings or what it is that drives us is usually there from early on; its just the form that changes.  Now I know the form needs changing. I don’t think this is the end of Thrive School- (I have a one day workshop coming up soon)- it’s just the model of these longer programmes needs to shift.

We hear the phrases, ‘one door closes and another opens’, ‘what’s for you won’t pass you’.  Bantered around we can dismiss them for their familiarity. But Seamus Heaney knew of these things too. He wrote about them, with a twist, making me pay attention.

‘Getting started, in art and in life, seems to be the essential rhythm’. 

He’d said the words to a group of graduating students, as commencement advice. They were words I scrawled years ago, and returned to them again and again.

‘Getting started, in art and in life, seems to be the essential rhythm’.

Heaney knew the path is never linear but filled with the mystic poetry of the journey; the potholes; the undulations; the points at which you glide and the point in which you ditch. The essential rhythm of art and life is punctuated with texture, if we are lucky.

There seems equally to be a secret symmetry in the folding and re-folding of our lives. It is to do with this essential rhythm and this healthy tension. There is power in maintaining the quest, and there is power in letting go in order to build again. It’s between these folds that we can seek the balance. The balance may then be this bridge between where we are now and where we aim to go, holding both with a soft focus and a loose tension. Focus too hard, we squint and go off track anyway. Loose focus, and we loose traction. But find that point of balance between present and future, and our focus is both guide and companion. It’s how we stay attuned to this unlived life within us, as John O’Donohue speaks about. So with each iteration, our resilience is strengthened and, like an elastic band when pulled, it never goes back to its original shape. Even in our failings we are forever altered. It is the essential rhythm; the healthy tension.

And so, my friends, while I find myself re-entering this gap of not knowing a little sooner than I hoped, I know I am working my way through this rhythm. Sometimes I jump to solution too quickly without staying in the unknown a while, to listen for what is really needed. Autumn is coming, the blackberries are ready for the picking, and there are lessons and learning to be harvested. I’m telling myself not to jump ahead too quickly. I’m telling myself to listen.

So I am going to take some time to walk the shoreline, to mark this essential rhythm with my feet. Tomorrow I move into a new house, where I will be writing, and writing some more (yes, there is a new book brewing) and then to find my way into the next phase of the form, until it too will change, as surely as it will. Yes, I know I’ll start again. Just writing these words is starting again, and that, is both comfort and commencement, for his is the way of a lived life. So I lift my head, I brush off my heart, I pick up my pen, and I’ll take the next step on this camino, as always, onwards and with love,

Clare x

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A day in the light…

A trip to an island, meandering the shoreline, noticing how the internal questions shift from large to small and back to large again, but carry on with deeper meaning and more perspective. There were the swims, of course, and a boat trip circumnavigating the island, and friendships kindled, and a love of the wild which swelled to new heights and set the heart a flame.

A photo essay meditation, from Inishlacken, Connemara- to pause, to take in the light, to carry that light onwards.

with love.

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(This post is dedicated to my aunt, Annie Meehan, nee Mulvany, who passed away, aged 86, earlier this week. She was a bright spark, a woman of the flame, and I always remember her as being the last person on the dance floor. As I was taking these photos, she was being laid to rest; with the light beaming and the birds soaring. Our memories carry)


In their own words

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Thrive School is back. It’s been a journey too, starting this thing, and in the process I have been learning and one of the best things has been getting to know groups of amazing open individuals and support them as they grow, connect and learn together.

ts-final-day-june-2017-61As the new Dublin programme is soon to kick off (application deadline Aug 29th), and dates are in the planning for the next Cork programme, I thought it would be a nice thing to tell you a little more about some of the past participants, where they are now and the learning that they have been taking with them…. the people below are just a few of the gems in the mix. It such a pleasure to introduce you to….

Máirín O Grady

mairin_aoifephotos20webMáirín is one of those people who lights up a room. When she arrives she brings insight, fun, delight and a dazzling commitment to her practices of yoga and teaching. She’s been practicing as a freelance yoga teacher for a number of years, has a passion and flair for creative writing, and was seeking ways of creating a more systemic approach to her work- how to creative programmes and courses which would reach new audiences and have a greater impact. Thrive School offered her space and community to do just that… (and also teamed up with fellow Thrive Schooler, photographer, Aoife Giles to have these lovely portraits taken)

 

 

In her words: 

Thrive School has been an enlightening adventure into a more holistic picture of my life. It has offered me a fresh and reassuring perspective on how I am living my life, providing me with the space and also the structure to dream. It helped me to identify my values, my story, my why and to move from a space that honoured this and facilitated me in analysing my work/life balance and finance/life balance and in identifying what is enough. In identifying my values and my story it allowed me to see my unique offering, and to value this offering, aided by the support and feedback of Clare and my fellow Thrive Schoolers. Thrive School provided me with a license to pursue what brings me joy and excitement and to offer that to my students and clients with renewed energy. 

Máirín has kicked off this new approach with The Sunday School of Yoga, which captures her passion for yoga. Here she is again:

mairin_aoifephotos11webSunday School of Yoga is a dynamic workshop series where we come together to map our path towards inner connection, to hone our physical practice of Yoga, and to develop our skills of Breath and Awareness. It is a guided and supported journey where we build a toolkit for a sustainable and virtuous practice of care in our lives, allowing you to discover, sustain and root YOUR Yoga. It’s not a drop in class. It is a workshop. A chance to ask questions. It’s a chance to stop and reflect upon our practice. …It is a chance to pour the tea and grow as a community. Sunday School is the day where we digest, reflect, nourish, and refuel. It is the kind of school where we make friends. It is it the kind of school that teaches us the road home.  

Sunday School – Term 1 is an earthing and delicious collaboration with The Market Kitchen by the flowing river of Mullins Mill, Kells, Co. Kilkenny. 

Find out more about book online here

Niamh Gallagher

selfie-1-2017When Niamh Gallagher speaks, you listen. Her voice is melodic, hypnotic and so very wise. She speaks from a wealth of experience and an expansive reservoir of practice. With a background in fundraising, copywriting and marketing, Niamh made the transition into becoming a reiki practitioner, yoga nidra and meditation teacher, and a health coach. ‘Through my work, I want to bring people together so they don’t have to struggle alone; to provide a space for stillness, self-compassion and coming home to yourself’, she told me, ‘We are often led to believe that our struggles are either a sign of personal failure…or something that we can just take a pill to get rid of. The truth is that we are supposed to turn to each other and to heal in community. To rely on those who have been through similar struggles for support when we, in turn, need it’

Coming to Thrive School Niamh was seeking a community she could collaborate with. She dived right in, with grace and elegance, as only Niamh can….

In her own words: 

What I got from Thrive School was exactly what I was hoping for (and desperately in need of!) – community. A community of like-minded people in Dublin who were on the same journey as I was. The importance of social support can’t be underestimated when you’re starting a new business or project. Online courses have their place, but there’s still nothing like building real relationships face-to-face!

I’ve made some great friends through Thrive School and a year since taking the course, I’m still partnering with other Thrive Schoolers on successful classes and events. When your start-up business does not fit the conventional mould, it can be hard to find the support you need. Thrive School fills the gap for anyone with a vision to offer the world something soulful, healing or creative.

A very important aspect of the course for me was Clare’s coaching which helped me move through some big fears and blocks. She’s a really talented and intuitive coach and just a fantastic cheerleader. 

Niamh teamed up with some other Thrive Schoolers- Ffion and Jane, to collaborate on new meditation programmes in Dublin, and has since started a series of yoga and message. The next in the hugely popular ‘Sunday Sanctuary’ events takes place on Sunday 20th August at Fumbally Stables – deep relaxation, meditation, massage and lunch. More info and bookings here: http://createawholenewyou.com/sunday-sanctuary/

Niamh practices reiki at Oscailt Integrative Health Centre, Dublin 4. All details here: http://createawholenewyou.com/reiki

Máirín Murray

fullsizerender-3Máirín’s interests have many currents- from yoga to holistic therapies, but it is in the digital and tech realm where she is focusing her passions and interests. Since completing Thrive School she has set up the Tech for Good branch in Dublin- a group promoting the intersection of technology and social impact and is also involved with setting up an non-profit called ‘Refugees Welcome’. Her main work comes from her new business, Digital Doddle, a content and production studio for digital innovation products. It’s all taken off since Thrive School- she is scriptwriting, making digital products and working mainly in the health education sector to bring digital learning to patients and families…

Mairin was in the first Thrive School cohort and I asked her what it is she takes with her now… her’s what she said:

  1. To think big and be ambitious. No-one is served by playing things small and safe. As Marianne Williamson says when we shine our light we give others permission to do the same. This has led to huge growth for my projects, and my vision.
  2. Action has its own momentum. I learned that it is important to start now and today to do the work. The answers and insights come while the work is in progress. The important thing is to keep moving.  Small actions, consistently taken, have helped me find the work I am being called to.
  3. That having multiple interests and passions is good. I found others in Thrive School who were just like me, who do not want to pigeon hole themselves but instead contribute their skills meaningfully to make a difference.

You can find our more about Máirín on Digital Doddle, Tech for Good Dublin

Catherine Weld 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACatherine Weld is an artist and teacher living in West Cork. When Thrive School started, she jumped on board. Catherine had a dream of starting her own art workshops in the area and also getting her work out to more people. During the Thrive School process she worked on launching her website, designing a new series of art workshops and planning for more exhibitions. Just this week she has launched a new group exhibition in Schull!

 

In her own words: 

The Thrive School material helps participants identify and work with the foundations that will underpin their creative and entrepreneurial activities. Motivation and self discipline are important requirements – the monthly meetings form the framework around which the course develops while weekly checkins with other participants offer a source of support and advice. Working as a group is a very important element as it adds hugely to the potential for valuable ongoing connections and can provide access to high levels of skill in areas that are complementary to our own.

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It is so very excited to witness how Catherine has been stepping up into her own artistry and fulfilling life long dreams- this is the stuff of inspiration.

You can see more of Catherine’s work here and find out about her art courses here:

https://www.catherineweld.com/courses/

 

 

Cathy Kolbolm- Kelleher

ts-final-day-june-2017-79Cathy Kolbolm- Kelleher packs a powerful punch. Literally. She’s been training in boxing. When Cathy shared her story with us it knocked us off track too. Having had health challenges as a child she was determined to change her life around. She became passionate about fitness, nutrition, science and wellbeing -and is …. an Applied Health Nutritionist, Sports Nutritionist, Exercise Scientist, Fitness Instructor, Clinical Exercise Physical Activity Specialist and Phlebotomist!  ‘I am on a mission to activate a revitalisation in health, wellbeing and performance’, she told me.

Cathy came to Thrive School seeking structure, fresh perspective and people who would ‘get’ her. Since she finished the programme in June she has gone on to seek external funding, grants and additional support from the local enterprise office, set up her business name and is very much on track to develop a wonderful business which blends her expertise in health, nutrition and fitness. She’s defiantly one to watch…

In her own words: 

I feel now I am much more clearer, structured and confident in my ideas going forward and over the course I have gone from not having clear plans, lots of chaos to something I can start to roll out over the next few months. I also found Clare’s feedback and guidance invaluable. Even from what I was able to take away and learn from the feedback from the pitch has directed me to fine tune details.

…..

The next Dublin Thrive School starts on Sept 9thFind out more over here, and apply online by Aug 29th. 

PS- Thrive School is not just for women! There have been men too :)

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On tracking the trails of our callings

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I’ve been going back over my journals, tracking the trails and the storylines which I have been navigating. I’ve been keeping journals since I was 11, and in those pages are the many layers of me where the iterations a life moves through are laid bare. Next year I am approaching a significant birthday, turning 40, and to move fully forward I am in a phase of looking back, narrating the threads and weaving them together so that I can use them to lay the next part of the track.

The journals are in many ways a blessing. Here is evidence, here I can see entrenched or repeated patterns. It is bringing delight to reencounter the moments in my life when a person entered it, opening a whole new door, a new love, or a new trail.

What strikes me is that the seeds of what I am doing now were laid a long time ago. The blank pages help give voice to the inkings of ideas, and slowly, with time and circumstance, the right seeds start germinate and take root.

Below is an extract from a journal in 2012. Back then The Trailblazery was just emerging through my collaborations with Kathy Scott and Ciara Cavanagh, and, with hindsight, I can see that the impetus behind Thrive School was also making noise. It has been rumbling in iterations before, and here, I see it again.

From my journal, in 2012

The birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it? They fall, and falling they’re given wings. Rumi.

As I read the above I also thought of a beautiful video called ‘Murmuration’ – which has been doing the internet rounds. It captures a flock of starling on Lough Derg, a place on the river Shannon I spent many a day during my teenage years. 

Every time I look at it, it takes my breath deeply away. It reminds me of the beautiful power of the natural systems and the importance of gathering. Making their ‘great sky circles’ together, the birds make their falling and their swooping into a game of dance. 

There has been a bit of falling and swooping for myself of late. When trying to put new and fresh things out into the world, and at the same time fulfil a social need, there are inevitably mistakes, and falls and stumbles as I negotiate the hurdles. Juggling lots of projects it is hard sometimes to keep track of all the balls, let alone not let any fall. Admittedly I feel I’ve let some fall recently. Just like the physical act of juggling, juggling projects is a skill- one which I’m ever trying to learn. It is project management, time management, energy management. With each project come the element you are familiar with and then the ones you are not. And sometimes you have to learn how to anticipate them. But with each new thing comes new falling, and new learning. Each time a ball falls, the learning is about picking it back up honestly, exploring why it fell and putting it back on track. And, as projects expand there is a growing realisation that one person can’t physically hold them all, or at least all at the same time. Which brings me back to the Rumi quote, and the footage. 

In a sense I am realising the wings we are given are the support networks we build around us- the people I can call upon to bounce ideas with, curl up with, share the highs as well as the lows. They help to take me though the rough and the tumble and they are there for the climb. At the top, they celebrate. But that support network doesn’t just miraculously happen- it takes time to build, nurture, coach, and support. It is about finding the right people at the right time. Creating that network and support is a core theme of my own work over the last few months… 

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And so it evolved.

 

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The journals are offering me a gift- to see what was calling then, and reenter into those callings to see it they are still there, how they have transitioned and what they are calling for next. They help me to see that yes, I am on the right track, no matter the great swooping and fallings, for this is a game of dance, with the birds, and the flock, and the great circles in the sky.

Time, I believe, is not linear, but circular. We are in a spiral of growth, introspection, extroversion, expansion, contraction and spin. There are times for inwards, and times for outwards. So, my friends, you may not have journals, but you do have memories. Maybe take a quick glance over your shoulder, stop at a particular place in time, and check in with yourself then. What was calling? What was emerging? And how is that showing up in your life now? Are their callings which want to been seen again, or given voice to?

May the grace of the falling and swopping birds be with us, and all the expansive possibility of the sky.

Clare xx

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Summer Solstice and finding the wild within…

Arriving into Gougane Barra Hotel today a sign at the door seemed to read the language of my soul. ‘Not all who wander are lost’.

I’m wandering today, but I don’t feel lost. It’s summer solstice. It’s a turning point in the year, when – in the northern hemisphere- the light is full and the days are at their longest. As a day to celebrate, it did not feel like a day to be sitting at the kitchen table, so I packed my bags and drove the hour or so up here, laptop included, swimming gear too.

Gougane Barra is a special place. Surrounded by high mountains, it’s an ancient monastic site where St Finbarr said to have built a church in the 6th Century on a little island in the lake. The river lee- the main river running into Cork city has its source close by too. The water here is clear and today calm as glass. With summer is in its full, the foxgloves are necklacing the shore; wild daisy and buttercups too. And there is a quiet here that can only happen inland; a kind of quiet that was calling.

I like to mark each solstice. Ancient as the rituals are, the solstices seems like a brilliant chances to place some pinpoints on maps: the map of where you are now and the map of where you want to get to. I find that wild places are the best facilitators of such conversations. It’s out in nature when I can think more clearly; tune into my deeper voice and shut out the noise.

So, arriving here to Gougane Barra this afternoon there was only one thing for it; to jump into the lake and let her dark waters embrace me. Below the surface, there is a different quiet too; the one that feels so alive, so vital, so energising. Sometimes we have to dive deep to really find our way. It’s only after jumping in that I can write, set the intentions, do the work. It’s through that wandering that I find my way.
So today/ tonight, the invitation: 

To wander. To find a wild spot for yourself, and see you can find a wild spot in yourself too. To celebrate all that you are and all that you are becoming. To write some intentions. To feel your body move in the light. To inhabit more of yourself and therefore the world. And do whatever it is you need to do to feel enlivened. And may the long day is here to be your guide… your inner wildness too.

(The photo above with from a recent Whale Watching trip… but more on that soon… I don’t quite have the words yet)

summer-sessions-thrive-schoolA reminder too that midnight tonight is the last chance to book the Summer Sessions package- 3 months to blast your projects with insight and momentum, and harness the energy of the season ahead. You can read more and book online here. 

 


Transforming procrastination into progress…

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Longer days, brighter times. There is a buzz which summer brings.

Which got me thinking about harnessing this energy with my own creative projects and through my work. And so it is that The Summer Sessions are here.

As the days are alive, why not utilise this time of year and bring your ideas to life too.
So, maybe it is time to finally start that project you have put on hold for ages- a book? a film? an exhibition? a new business? Maybe you are already running a business but need some fresh direction and momentum? Maybe you are feeling stuck and long for some clarity on the next steps to take. Or maybe you are busting with ideas but struggling to put some form and structure to them.

Yes- it is time to turn procrastination into progress, and I can help.

Let’s use the summer to shine some big light on your creative power and potential.

3 sessions. 3 months. 1 season of momentum.

Find out more and book online here. Limited spaces available. Book by June 21st.

Onwards we go… into the light.

Clare. x


what to do when you don’t know what to do

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Figuring out what to do with our one wild and precious lives; that seems to be a universal eternal quest.

What a beautiful gift we have, the questions. But sometimes the questions seem so dense and impenetrable that they seem to turn us away from the very things that bring the wildness and preciousness to our life in the first place. We get stuck in a loop asking ‘what next?’ We think we are far removed from our own answers. We become disillusioned, and when the going gets really tough we get tired of asking the question, and so we stop. Yet the questions are our lifeblood, and the questions raise the quest.

So instead of letting the questions push you aside, can we learn to invite them to come along for the ride, step by little step. If you you are struggling to know what to do next- with your life, in your job, in your relationships, remember that there is always the invitation to do the simple things; and as you are doing the simple things, you can ask for some clarity; for that next elegant step that would be good for you to take.

The ‘Simple Things’ list is beautifully individual and remarkably universal:

Journal. Go for a walk. Spend time with an animal. Walk along the beach in bare feet. Star-gaze. Have a bath. Sit in silence on your mat. Exercise. Mend a bike. Bake a cake. Garden. Paint. Sing. Dance. Scribble. Sit some more. Write a letter to someone you admire. Help a stranger. Share your lunch. Share your knowledge. Share your joy.

The challenge is this: the simple things are often labelled as ‘procrastination. They can be seen as keeping you away from the thing that think you need/ should to be doing. Do enough of them and some may even deem you as wayward, lazy, unfocused, unsettled, misguided. But what if we flipped all of that? What if deep in the heart of the simple thing there was a clue or a signpost which has the capacity to carry you onwards, into your own deep clarity of knowing what to do next. The simple thing then becomes a map.

There is one secret ingredient though which you’ll need to apply, consistently. It’s the raising agent otherwise known as intention.

Our intention is what refines our action. Without intention our actions can indeed fall in towards procrastination, but by focusing our intention we start to be able to use the action of it, the doing of it, as a way into the deeper knowing of what to do next. The answers are within us and our intention takes us there.

That may sound abstract but I suspect we have all experienced this. Head in a muddle- go for a walk and later the idea pops in the shower. Frustrated and annoyed? Dance that dance and the anxiety dissipates too. In the space of the doing we make room for the next step to reveal itself.

So here’s the little practice:

Next time you are feeling stuck, take your question on a walk or to the bath or to the trees. Kneed it into the dough or onto a canvas. Dance it out. Scribble it out. Plant it deep in the veggie patch and watch it evolve.

And the added bonus is this: Piece together enough simple things- the walks, the wanders, the star-gazing, the frenzied nights at an easel, the shared meals, the shared gestures, the secret letterbox goody drops, the silent moments on a mat- and it makes for a pretty wild and precious life- filled with moments of intention and questions and evolutions- intentionally.

If you want to take this #toolsforthriving practice to your journal, here are a few steps.

Step One.
Make a list of the questions you are carrying with you. Keep going. You likely have many.

Step Two
In a different coloured pen circle the questions which are really niggling. The ones that are waking you at night or the ones that are particularly entrenched.

Step Three
Make a list of your go-to simple things. (they are likely free or inexpensive, easily accessible and things that bring you joy)

Step Four
Do that thing! As you are doing it, bring just one of the questions you have circled with you. There is a discipline to this to keep our intention, and attention, focused on that question. If you find your thoughts going astray, bring them back to the question. As you are doing the ‘thing’, you can internally ask for clarity or insight. And for your next step.

Step Five
Jot down any next steps that come to you. It may not be the obvious thing. You may think of a person you have not been in touch with for a while- maybe that person has a clue for you too. Or you may think of resource which will available to you which you have not thought about for a while

Step Six
Take action quickly on the thing that popped. Write that email that day. Phone that person as soon as you can (this is the key difference and way to utilise the thing- otherwise the circle of questions will spin and spin.

Step Seven
Repeat for another question. This is a practice as much as a process.

#toolsforthriving

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To be an individual drop in the tide of change…

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As news rolls around the world of deeply turbulent times, it settles uneasily in our hearts. It can indeed feel like we are on very shaky and uncertain ground. It can be so easy to feel overwhelmed, uncertain, even cynical. Where to turn? What to do? What difference can I make or will my work make?

The questions are understandable and legitimate. But let’s lay it down on the line: what we choose to pay attention to matters. What we choose to create, support, honour and do with our time, talent and attention matters more than ever. Our kindness, our compassion, our empathy, our trust in strangers, our courage to keep going, our hope and our actions, send out ripple effects. Individually they may be small but even a small act can welcome a stranger, or see the beauty in the broken bits.

You see alongside the turbulence, there is another a rising tide- a tide of people stepping up to their dreams, visions and values. We have seen the rise of creative leadership, a whole new field of social entrepreneurship and investment, the tech for good movement, the environmental movement, and those reaching out a hand to refugees, those choosing not to give into hate or fear, those willing to see beyond the black and white headlines. This rising tide knows there is always a choice.

So, today, as the sad news enters into a deep chamber of the heart, let’s all do something small for another person. Something kind and compassionate; something simple that signals that there is always another way. It’s not to deny what is happening but it is to be part of the countercurrent.

So maybe there is a person you have not been in touch with for a while- give them a call and say hello, tell them how much you have missed them. Maybe there is a cause you care about- make a donation. Maybe a loved one really needs a hug- offer your arms as a home and a haven. Yes, they are simple things, but each act, no matter how small are the individual the drops in the tide of change.

With that in mind I have listed a few things in the resources and shared some happenings which are part of the tide too.

Onwards, with hope

Clare. xx

Resources & Happenings

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Street Feast is happening again, with the big hearted Sam Bishop at the helm. Sunday 11th June. Time to get the tables, chairs and neighbours out..

This Fund It Campaign: My friend Libby set up this wonderful dance company, Traces, which challenges perceptions of dance and disability. Now her daughter, Jessie Rowell is putting together a new show in collaboration with Downs Syndrome Ireland.

I’ve never met Bill Megalos in person, but our paths online paths crossed years back and I have been tracking his beautiful initiatives. This time he is in Greece, making a documentary, Stuck in the Doorway’ about the refugees who are stranded as Europe continues to close its borders.

The indefatigable Ruairi Mc Kiernan is also at it again, this time with his beautiful podcast, Love and Courage. 

I turn, over and over again, to the work and words of Krista Tippett. Her On Being radio show is solace and balm. Dive into the archives. This episode with Joanna Macy is rich with spirit. 

I have been studying the work of Diane Muso Hamilton via her book ‘The Zen of You and Me’– A Guide to getting along with just about anyone (thank you Mari Kennedy for making the link). Both  Diane and Mari are wise women, and the book feels globally timely.

I find a tribe of beauty and compassion gathering around the work of Elena Brower. Her Teach.Yoga site has beautiful resources and connections to great teachers around the world.

I loved this interview on Design Matters with writer and illustrator Maira Kalman. Mario’s curiosity and quest for the extraordinary in the ordinary served a great reminder that inspiration is everywhere.

This TED talk with architect Siamak Hariri, who was the designer of the first Baha’i Temple in South America, speaks about designing for sacred space, taking inspiration from the swirls, twists and texture in nature. It too is a story of hope.

And if you fancy a bit of fun this weekend, and you happen to be in West Cork, the Fastnet Film Festival  in Schull is starting tomorrow. I’ll be hopping over to Long Island to see The Crash Ensemble perform at dusk. Magic in the making..

In Memory

the-softness-sleeps_1777538457_oI would like to make a special mention in the post to the late Eamonn O’Dwyer. Eamonn was a mentor of mine in the early days of Suas when he voluntarily offered his time and impeccable facilitation skills helping us design the leadership training for our volunteer programme. He later became a board member of the organisation and I subsequently became a family friend, getting to know his beautiful wife, Tessa, and his three children. Eamonn sadly passed away earlier this month after a graceful and deeply open hearted struggle through cancer. As much as his life was an inspiration, his death has been too. He was one of those people who sent major ripple effects into the world by his very presence, compassion and insatiable zest for life. He was one of tide changers. His inspiration lives on. May you rest in beautiful peace, dear Eamonn and thank you for all, always.

STAY IN TOUCH…

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Morning questions.

 
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How we frame each day is how we’ll live our lives.

Some morning questions to guide us: 

How will I nourish myself today?

Who can I support today?

How will I listen today?

What can I offer today?

How can I honour my dignity today?

What can I let go of today?

How can I amplify the sacred today?

What can I learn today?

Where is my attention required today?

….


Two of the best teachers of all…

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It has been just over a year now since I moved to West Cork. There was a draw here, certainly. I came in many ways in expectation that I would find my next teacher- a yoga teacher? a body worker? a meditation master?- somebody that would lead me deeper into my own practice and therefore into myself. I did find my next teacher, actually I have found two, but they are not what I expected. In fact, they don’t even need to speak, or at least not in a language that needs words.

Teacher One: aloneness.

There have been many hours spent in my own company. There have been long dark nights filled with questions and many hours walking the shoreline and the ridgelines, noticing the calligraphy of a falling leaf and the poetry of open skies. I have spent hours tracing the course of streams until they have become river beds or walking country lanes until they fade into fields. I’ve sat on beaches waiting for the stars to arrive. Storms have come in, and cracking winds, and sometimes the sun set the world aglow. All that time alone but it never felt right to say I was lonely.

I suppose I have learned that aloneness has a richness, depth and a range of qualities to it, each offering their own teachings. At times the aloneness has felt comforting, even sensuous, and at times rigid and difficult. It has been a mirror to my joy and my challenges. It made me face myself like no other teacher could, and in doing so it has been taking me across a threshold into the understanding that all I really have is myself, and when I listen close enough, the boundaries start to melt away to a place where ’I’ becomes ‘each other’ and the breath that links us is but one joyous and lingering dance. The dance makes it’s way into the ebb and flow of the tides, or the current of my mood, offering a remembrance too that emotion has it’s own motion, never static and always available to change.

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Teacher One has been generous. As I walked those mountain ridges they became an extension of an inner challenge, reaching into me to break open resistance and invite me to climb higher, or at least onwards. The meandering streams offered a sign that the journey to the open sea, the expanse, is never straight. I’m less afraid of the dark now too, for as you wait for dusk to turn to dark you sit in the knowing that the darkness is just one aspect of light’s full spectrum. And I am less afraid of taking the hidden path, or the wrong turn, or diving deeper, for it’s in those places where wildness and aliveness inhabit their fullness. I’m still not so keen on the cold atlantic waters though, so I know I have a way to go yet. And woodlice. Not so keen on them either.

Of all the places the hours have taken me, it is the edge that I love the most- those places where the sea shifts into sand and then to shore. The place where rugged, hardened rock is putty to the wind or where a cliff suddenly falls to meadow and then back to cliff again. I love how the edge havens colonies of birds and harbours in its nooks and crannies even the most vulnerable of life. It is at the edge where I have felt most at home.

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All along the clue was in the word. Aloneness : all/one/ness. Not separate, but part of. Not different, but extension. Not singular but syncopated.

Before me, all around me, in the air that I breath and the land that I stand on, my second teacher was with me all along too. Nature has a way of revealing herself to us in gradual, medicinal doses. Her magic this time has been her intimacy and her disguises. Those little robins who visited me each day in winter showed up to tell me that lonely is but a fallacy I have been colluding with.  And that song in the wind, that too had a story of belonging to tell. And, of course that four legged being who has been a shadow to me, with her unfailingly waggy tail and zest for life- espically when it involves walks and even better when it involves the sea- well, she is love, in all it’s finest and tenderest and most innocent of guises. In fact I think she has a special ‘teacher’ status too, but I’ll not tell her yet because the training books tell me that I am meant to let on that I am her master but I’m not so convinced of the order of things.

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In a few days time I will be moving house again (still in west cork, but more town based… for a while…) There is a time for all things and the time of this particular phase is ending. The tide will go out, but a new tide will come in and carry me over. Thanks to Teacher One and Teacher Two, I trust this more now; this coming and going and the life on the edge of knowing and not knowing. For this, I will be forever grateful and so forever will I pledge to be a student to the best teachers of all.

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