Old ways, new ways: Planning for business & life using the celtic cycles.



January seems like a long time ago. All that talk of new years resolutions and the push for ‘a new you’.

You know that feeling: January arrives, the planners come out, you look at the year ahead and think, this one will be better. So you set goals, and intentions. You do great for about 6 weeks and by mid- February you are back to your old tricks. We’ve all been there, done that, back to the drawing board.

The challenge with the year-long planning mindset is multiple.

Firstly, it’s a timing thing. What brain actually works in 12 months cycles? Plus, at the beginning of January – at least in the northern hemisphere- we are right in the thick of winter. June is but an aspiration, and as for October, well it’s moons away.

Secondly, it’s to do with goals. Well, not goals per se, but the factors we take into consideration when we set goals.

So often we set goals based on an external sense of what success ‘should look like (a certain weight, a certain salary, a certain number which think we should attain). We work to attain this external validation, but when we get there it is never enough and so we choose another number to reach for. The striving is endless, and exhausting…

So, what if there was another way? What if we could introduce points in the year for celebration and reflection, moments for recalibration and checking in with our goals incrementally. What if we took time to tune inwards, to listen deeply to what our inner selves are craving, sense into our dreams and visions, and plan from that inner place? And what if there were other rhythms and cycles which we could harness to help us to all through all of this.

Well, thankfully, there is another way, and it’s been under our noses for centuries helping the world spin from time immemorial. Simply put: the seasons. 


For a long long time, before time was regulated with clocks and mechanical things*, our ancestors used the natural turning of the earth to set their patterns. They knew when it was time to harvest, and time to rest. They learned when it was time to sow, and time to wait. They knew that every season had a rhythm to it, and to live well was to honour that cycle. In between these seasons there were points of pause, celebration, and sacred moments give thanks for the world’s spin.

In the old celtic calendar, the four points of winter and summer solstice, and the spring and autumn equinox became markers in the year, plus each mid-point between the season, making 8 points on the yearly cycle.

For the last number of years I have been working much more with this celtic calendar- both on a personal and a professional level. By creating my own planning ritual on each of these 8 points of the year, and tuning in with the intention of each season, I have found  an new/ (and old!)  way to set learning objectives and check in with my business and project growth.

photo-1-copyNow as I turn inwards to listen, I find that my planning cycles have shifted significantly. I use winter as as time of quiet and reflective creation, the spring as a time to nurture new projects, summer leaves room for play, and autumn has time for allowing what’s not working to fall away. I create project deadlines and targets within this structure too- so, for example, I have set the winter solstice as a writing deadline for myself, and Imbolc (early Feb) as another. In this sense the cycle of the year has become a way to understand and navigate the creative process too- particularly when it comes to allowing new projects and ideas time to percolate in the unknown (winter), and then, in their own time, to germinate (spring).

So by reclaiming these old cycles and honouring the points of ritual throughout the year, I have found a way to break the year into ‘chunks’, creating projects and rhythms which feel much more in sync with the wider systems in nature, and therefore in myself. Things tend to flow better this way, and I’ve more energy too because I have come to appreciate the value of rest and the value of the unknown. So, come January, there’s no need for new year’s resolutions- instead, I look forward to the points in the year when I mark each season with ritual and intention, and create goals and plans from there.

Interested in finding out more and taking part?

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 13.28.38Living Seasonally is my online course where I share my process. Over 10 days we tune in to the wisdom each season has to offer, learn more about the celtic calendar and, using a seasonal planner and a series of creative and reflective practices, set our goals and intentions from an inwards place. Along the way there will be poetry, journalling, meditations and time to contemplate and recalibrate.

My intention for the course is to create an online sanctuary- a gathering place, a watering hole- where we can learn new skills and creative practices and where we can share our own insights and stories while soaking in some nourishment for the season ahead.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 22.35.52The Winter 2017 edition is now open for registration and starts on Nov 1st.

You can sign up over here… 

Hope you will join us!

Clare xx





*for a great read about the history of time, I recommend Jay Griffiths book ‘Pip Pip: A Sideways look at time’.

The Wintering Questions…




You can listen to this post here: 





How are you all doing out there? It’s been a swirling time. Ophelia made the force of nature very much known, and with more storms forecast for Ireland, the inward pull is even more alluring! So I am feeling very grateful to be back in the creative den, working on my new book, Home on the Edge, but also enjoying updating my online programmes, particularly Living Seasonally. 

The first flower bulb I ever planted was a hyacinth. I remember needing to leave it in pot under a dark shelf at the back of our primary school classroom. For a long while, nothing. I wondered if the bulb was ‘broken’, or if I had done something wrong. My teacher insisted on leaving it in the dark for longer. I waited, getting down on my knees to peer deep into the low shelf, ‘Are you alive in there?’

I waited some more, and more. Then suddenly, one day, the growth. A shoot appeared, taller and taller until the bloom appeared, slowly at first, but then finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the opening. I had expected the bloom, but not the fragrance- the magnificent perfume that wafted into the room like an unexpected, welcome visitor. It was one of the closest things to magic I had ever experienced.

It left an imprint: first the dark, then the blooming. 

For a long time after though I used to hate the winter. I hated how it slowed me down. I dreaded the long, dark evenings and I particularly wanted to avoid the commercialism of Christmas (especially when it all started to kick off in October)

However, when I first started learning about the Celtic calendar,  and the seasonal wisdom of my ancestors, there was a remembering and an inner awakening to the knowledge that the celtic new year begins just after Hallowe’en, or Samhain, in the darkness. Just was it was for that hyacinth, the darkness is the beginning. Yes, first the dark, then the blooming.

Now, I can honestly say that I look forward to winter. I’m still not a huge fan of the dark evenings, but I do have a new appreciation for what that darkness brings- space for reflection, contemplation and deep creativity, and in it’s own time and place, the blossoming. I realise that winter has many gifts, if I care to stop and appreciate them, and also offers wonderful metaphors to work with, helping me tune in with my deeper longings and callings, and to plan from there. When I honoured the seasonal cycle of time and energy, I knew I was honouring my own inner cycles and wisdom and when I stopped resisting and trying to run away from the dark, and instead sought its refuge and sanctuary, then I found more flow and acceptance in my day to day life. 

It’s these learnings and more which I have taken into Living Seasonally, designing a course to help us all cope with the increasingly busy and stormy days- internally and externally.

Over the course of 10 days we work through a seasonal planner, accompanied with journalling practices, creative exercises, reflections, meditations and questions which help us to harness our own inner wisdom. By the end of the course, participants have a clear plan for the season ahead, based on their inner dreams, callings and longings.

I am delighted to say that the next Winter edition starts on Nov 1st, and registration is now open. I’ve made video to explain some more. Please get in touch if you have any questions- I’d love to have you on board!

(For those of you who have already taken the course, I’ve made a few developments to this one- the course is a bit longer, and also will incorporate fresh meditations, reflections and creative activities- in all a deeper and more robust process- plus fun too!)

Until soon friends.. I’ll be sharing more creative practices and tools with you over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Clare. xx

In memory…



My friend John passed away last night. He was 88.

I met him last year, and we struck up a friendship. He’d tell me stories about being a filmmaker and photographer, crossing India and Asia with reels of film in the 1950s and 60s. There were stories of strange airport encounters, kind people he met along the way and insights he still carried; traveller tales. He took out an album of black and white stills and recalled the moments each frame had frozen in time. There were staged photos of a hollywood actress, a portrait of Eamonn DeValera and other political figures whose names are now in the buried annals of time.

Some days he read me poems, other days we just sat and watched the garden birds. He’d hang out nuts in bird-feeders by the large kitchen window and counted the passing robins, chaffinches, blue tits and the precious rare sightings of goldfinches. There was a little bird identification chart beside the window to check he was correct, for John was a man of principle and exactitude. His days had an order which gave rise to a freedom within. Or so it seemed that way.

In this last year John knew his body was failing- he was in a wheelchair now, and in need a lot of nursing care- but as his limbs gave up, his mind resisted. Instead it was a treasury of memories which he added to with scrabble, sport scores, headlines, stacks of biographies, a book about the life on the Blasket Islands, contemporary fiction, other stories. When it all got too much, when headline after headline became too intense (American politics, Brexit, refugee crisis, housing issues) , it was to poetry he turned, more and more as the days passed. He had read a book review in The Sunday Times about a new poetry anthology, and ordered it immediately. He particularly liked a poem about a cockroach, or was it a turtle, I can’t remember, but he did, and asked me to read it twice. He loved the turn of words, the way the description left space for the imagination and the poetic exactitude of each line. Once, he read me one of his own poems, a short simple one, about an overcoat and an umbrella- the kind a gentleman would use. I could picture him standing right in the centre of the poem with space and sentiment entwined.

John was polite in that old gentlemanly way too, never refusing my baking and cooking attempts. He tried everything from the courgette fritters with tzatziki, to the spelt lots of things, to the floppy sponge. The flop did not seem to matter, but the gesture did, which in turn made me feel good.

For his birthday I gave John a little squirrel print, one of my watercolour drawings. He didn’t wait around, had it framed, and hung it among his other artwork- some from his mother, which she had bought in China in the 1920s and some paintings by his brother Patrick. My little squirrel became part of the furniture, and in doing so brought me happiness too.

‘I’m too emotional’, he’d confess to me, with tears streaming down his face, remembering the days in the past, or appreciating his two children. Still, he let the tears come, wiping them away with a handkerchief and returning it to his breast pocket, as a gentleman would.

When I visited him in hospital a few weeks back he was distressed. ‘I’m afraid I’ve made a show of myself Clare’, he said. He had been up during the night, in a lot of pain, and had been shouting. His body was failing and his mind was kicking back, loudly. His son wheeled him out into the lobby of Bantry hospital, overlooking the carpark. There were no little bird visitors, but there was sky and light and that seemed to help. We filled the gaps with tea and presence. It was enough for the moment.

I saw him one more time after that, briefly, last week. He was at home, sitting up in his chair, in pain; the cancer in his spine was moving and shifting and darting aches and discomfort around his failing body. ‘It’s difficult, this dying’, he told me. He did not want to return to hospital and was willing to make some compromises in his medical treatment to keep him at home. ‘I’m not afraid of leaving’, he added, with another tear… ‘this earthly plane’, and in those moments all the truth and pain and courage and knowing that the life he had was leaving. His mind had accepted it now. You could see it in his face.

The local Church of Ireland minister arrived, to give him solace, and I stood up to leave. I was about to walk away, but turned back and planted a soft kiss on his cheek, accompanying it with a ‘smooch’ sound. We both laughed. A little friendship sealed. ‘Goodbye John’, I said, ‘I’ll see you soon’.

I’m not sad that he is gone. I’m touched, and moved. My heart is full for this little friendship that came into my life in his last year. No, I’m not sad. He knew it was time, and there was living in his dying. Our friendship was full of the simple things of floppy cake and goldfinches and poetry. It’s the simple things that we move our way towards in the end, that, and friendship. In his dying John opened a door to those things for me, and for that I’ll carry a little pocket of this year of friendship with me on my own travels. I also want to get a bird identification chart, to help me remember.

In memory of  Mr. John Sarsfield, 1929-2017

10 Oct, 2017.


Notes from the creative deep…



You can listen to this post here.





It has been nearly a month since I pressed send on an email to my mailing list which nearly turned me inside out. Since then I think I have literally turned inside out, in the good kind of way.

Let me explain.

The email was a leap into the unknown and a simultaneously declaration of faith- in an idea.
The leap was to finally and publicly fully commit to a hunch/ calling/ feeling that had been following me around.

For a while the idea was a shadowy figure which tracked me like a fugitive. It followed me on walks, popping out from behind trees and from under the waves. It followed me into the shower, tugging at my heart as I was standing bare. It crept into my dreams and deposited it’s wrappers in signs and symbols which would later pop out from behind trees and from under the waves. Yes, it was one of those ideas which was more than an idea; it was a feeling. It was more than a feeling, it was a gut feeling, which is a demanding thing in that it comes from a place deeper than our heart and inhabits our whole self. You could call it a soul thing.

When our ideas are our soul things, then not listen to them is to give part of ourselves over to a death. I knew that if I didn’t do something, even a small thing, about this calling then something in me would die. I also had a sense that the thing that would die would be intrinsic to my sense of self: hope in myself, or trust in myself, or even belief in myself, and when those things go, it’s a dark place to find oneself. I had been there before and I didn’t want to go there again. So, you see, I really had no choice, but to write, but to press send, but to walk out to the edge of the cliff and say, ‘I am here, listening, take me’.

It has taken me, this soul thing, and it has been a beautiful, and wild, and soft, and difficult and demanding and luscious thing. So, this idea: to write a book. Yes, that is it. Words and blank pages. Something that has been going on for years and years. Who knew it could be so revelatory! I had written before, so why was this to be so different.

As I write, I am learning: it wasn’t the book, it was the stories to be placed in the book. My stories.

You see, part of the calling was to gather my own stories, the dark and the light, and to bring them into constellation with each other as my own rite of passage, in time for my 40th birthday next year. The writing was to be my ritual, my honouring of my own cycles and a way to move into the next phase of my life with intention and with hope. My stories.

(But who are you to have your own stories? Who do you think you are? Do you think you are special, or something? And what do you even have to say…) That critical inner voice was quick on the scene, pushing harsh words into my ear. I turned my head. It shouted in my other ear.

Then, one evening, a friend, one of those soul friends, looked my in the eyes and said: these are the stories we all need to hear Clare. Write’.

Sometimes we need soul friends to speak to the place below our hearts, so that we can really hear.

So, I wrote and wrote and stayed up late, and wrote, and woke up early, and cried, and wrote, and I am writing, and I am listening, and I am crying and I am writing, and I am laughing and I am dancing, and I am writing, and boy is it a precious and beautiful process, this writing.

I’m not done yet. The stories are coming in fragments. I am letting them fall, one by one, some with a thud, some that need coaxing. I have yet to weave them. That comes later. First, the falling.

As they come, I am learning a few things about the way it is happening too, which I am working to capture, to remember, to share. So here are a few thoughts on this work in progress: the book, and me in evolution in between.


It feels something like this:


This book is a tunnel. A dark one. But by virtue of it being a tunnel, I know that there is light at the end of it. This particular tunnel has a bend it in. I enter into the dark, not knowing when or where this bend is, but I trust that the light is around the other side.

To enter, things need to squeeze a little. Some stories just don’t fit and will get left behind. Some things feel more intense. I take one step in front of the other. I enter.

Right now, I’m somewhere in the bend, yet to come up for light. The dark has it’s secrets for me, and it’s silences. However it’s only now that that I am in there that I realise it is not the scary kind of dark after all (I have yet to meet bats, or even ghosts) but the womb-like dark- warm and fertile and feeling like a home I forgot I once belonged in. Step by step, word by word, story by story I make my way through, nudging the sides and making marks on the skin of pages. The black ink is my tunnel.


Creativity and Wellbeing are wedded.



There’s this myth: that to create is to loose your mind; to be a good artist is to give yourself over to the madness that is art.

Some myths still linger because they feed a fear, and where there is fear, there is ground for exploitation. It’s in someone’s interest to keep the myth alive.

I want to blast it with this: that deep creativity, the soul kind, may touch on dark places but doesn’t have to become it. To create is to be well. To be well means to be listening to intuition, to the body, to gut feelings, to the creative spirit which shows up in the shower and under the waves. It is not linear. It can not be measured in quantifiable, predictable patterns. It can not be sold in pills. Creativity is just intrinsic to our human-beingness. To create is to be fully alive. Creativity wedded to wellness is matrimonial bliss.



When stuck, dance.
Still stuck? Paint.
Still? Then stay… write the rubbish until the dirt has a chance to reveal its gold.

I pinned this note up to keep me writing even when I didn’t know what I was writing.

Which brings me to…



Our stories tend to settle like sediment. The ones we tend regularly (the stories we tell others about, or the stories in our heads with we use to define ourselves) are the ones we feed. Below them are many layers. Hidden stories. Forgotten stories. Silenced stories. We can pick the ones at the top, but to get to the bottom, we must be willing to write our way through the layers and layers until we hit the gold. Once we are there, the stories on the top tend to make more sense again. We are all many layers deep.



To be silent is to surrender to the possibilities of the silence.

To enter the silence we must make some choices. Turn up. Turn off the phone. Tell the internet to go away for a while. Create a parking zone in ours head where all the negative voices can hang out while we get on with the work. It takes conscious commitment to give ourselves the gift of silence. When we do, we will discover that the silence is an expansive place, leading outwards, beyond the boundaries we have placed upon it and into the place that has no name. Our creativity can take us there, if we let it.



Your story = Your power.

When I say yours, I mean it. When I say mine, I mean it too. These stories from the deep, I am realising, have the thread of humanity in them. What is hard for me, is hard for others too. What is challenging for me, others have faced also. What brings me joy is a bridge to another’s freedom. When we share from there, we have the power to weave a new story- for ourselves, for each other and for the world we want to live in. I write to figure out the stories I need to leave behind, the ones I need to heal and the gold ones to add to the cauldron of our emerging world.

More than ever I believe that our stories matter. Mine and yours.

I’ll be adding to this list. Maybe changing it. Maybe not. It is all a work in progress.

To keep in the loop with this process, be sure to sign up to my mailing list here.

And if you are interested in supporting the writing process by becoming a patron, you can find out more and make a one off or monthly donation here.

Thank you.

Until soon,

Onwards and with love…

Clare. xx


Notes from the Edge



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




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.


(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



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.


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:




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 🙂





On tracking the trails of our callings



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… 


And so it evolved.



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




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…


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