The turning of 40

Today I turn 40. 
I promised myself I would do this and this is a promise I must keep. So hear goes:

I’m tired. I’m tired of looking in the mirror and not celebrating what I see. I’ll rest that here.

I’m tired of running away from my power because I am afraid of what my family, or friends, or that person on the internet who doesn’t even know me thinks. I’m going to leave that here.

I’m tired of feeling ashamed of my extra bit of belly, or curve or that part of my body that does not want to be tamed. That stays here.

I’m tired of all the ways I let fear shout louder than my love. From here on out, love wins.

I’m tired of trying to explain what I do and why it keep shifting- a life lived, flows. From here, I’m with the flow.

I’m tired of being spoken over, cut across, under valued, under represented, overly forgiving. That stops here.

I’m tired of being tired. Here I rest, to begin again.

These words, this, is a marker, a threshold, my rite of passage.

As I step across I honour my late father Jimmy, whose big wild heart is wrapped up in mine, still gifting me his lessons in kindness and laughter every day. I thank him.
 And I honour my mother, Geraldine, my first home, who with one hand offers me her gifts of generosity, and with the other, reaches out with her gift of unconditional love; the essence of a mother. To this I give my heart.
And I honour my grandmother, Molly, who sacrificed her own truth for the sake of her children’s belonging.
 And I honour my great-grandmother, who was silenced because she did not fit the mould, and whose silence has led me to find my own voice. I honour her, indefinitely.

And to Ireland, this land of my birth, I honour her too. She tells me to listen to her wild ways, for not only is she beautiful she has the power to transform. She is in my blood.

And to the ocean that wrapts it all up; I swim in my honour of her unfathomable depths, for she rises as storms do, then travels as the rain, nurtures the food that I eat and becomes, me. As I honour the ocean in me, I honour the ocean in you.

These words I place as a marker.
 Now I step over them and declare, on this my 40th birthday:
I will not let fear dominate or shame violate this body of mine.
 For I am the power of the ocean and the magnitude of the mountains. I am the wind and the rain.
 I am the wild woman and the forgotton voice.
 I am a white horse running with her wild.
 I am everything that woman contains.
 As I am womb, I am also home. 
As I am here, I am everywhere. As I am heart I am also the music of the heart beat.
 And if I am these things, then you, woman, you are these things too.

I have stepped across into the flow on this wild edge of becoming. I declare: I am finally, home.


Vernal Equinox Guidebook

We are travelling through the cycle of the year, traversing the quarter arc, the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, a time when day and night are in equal measure, an auspicious moment in the calendars of many cultures across the ancient world. This marker of time, this nod to the celestial orbit of the sun, was a moment to pause, to create rituals and traditions where stories of identify, ethnicity, religious and cultural roots could be told, weaving cohesive bonds through global evolving societies.

With origins in Zoroastrianism, the Persian Spring equinox marks the New Year (NowRúz or NawRúz), meaning ‘New Day’, commencing the first day of the first month in the Iranian Calendar (Farvardin), a moment symbolically carved into the rock of the ancient site of Persepolis, where the bull (earth) and lion (sun) are duelling with equal strength. For members of the Bahá’í Faith, NawRúz arrives after an extended period of fasting, a deep inner spring clean, marked as a holy day- a commemorative shabbat- to honour the crossing of the calendrical threshold. The celebrations for the Vernal new year span as far as Kurdish lands in Turkey, across the Black sea and into the Balkans, across Iraq and on into Tajikistan and to Uzbekistan, where ‘Pisanka’ or decorative eggs are hand-painted, echoing the Easter orthodox tradition of decorating the ‘egg’ of fertility, a tradition which, in turn, can be traced down to Greece. We can travel West too, as far as Mexico, to the ancient Mayan pyramidal tombs of Chichén Itzá and witness the vernal sun lighting the side of the tomb dedicated to the snake god Quetzalcoatl; the light revealing a serpentine

creature descending to the earth; the mythic return of the God to bless the forthcoming harvest.

So it may not be surprising then that this quarter cycle of the year was marked in Celtic lands, this time with a turning towards the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Eoster, Ostara, to which ‘Easter’ can trace it’s etymological as well as pagan origins. In Ireland we can find alignment of the equinox sun most notably at Cairn T at Loughcrew, part of the Knowth Megalithic Cairns, when the dawn rising sun, lights up the Sliabh na Caillí, the backstone of the passage tomb, highlighting engraved and decorative sun symbols.

In the ancient celtic calendar, the Vernal Equinox was one of eight points on the annual wheel of the year, mid-way between the festival of Imbolc (Celtic Spring) and Bealtaine (Celtic summer). While not one of the main festivals in the year, it is a time of celebration of the re-birth of life, a resurrection of visible growth, as the budding of leaves and spring greens arrived in ever increasing abundance as the season turns. It is a time of equal exchange between the light and the day, the ying and the yang, the masculine and the feminine, and it is a time of planting and getting back out into the land to do the work which will be harvested at the end of the Celtic year, at Samhain, six months down the line.

So, as we move through this arc of time, let’s take some pause, to tune into our light, to re-calibrate our intentions, consider our relationship to equanimity and to actively plant what we want to harvest, with intention and with hope.

I have designed a planner to help you do just that. It incorporates meditative and journalling practices alongside some powerful questions to tune you into your intentions for the season ahead.

Sign up here to my mailing list to download your free copy.

 

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Stewards to our Rage

 

You can listen to this post too

 

The redwoods stood so tall. Some, I heard, were over 1200 years old. When I climbed up into the ‘mother’ tree, one of the oldest in the forest, easing my back against her broad trunk, I noticed the tarnishing and burnishing on her bark. This tree has been through fire, and has survived. It was scarred through time, and has survived. Not only that, now this ancient being is offering solace and shelter and comfort to others. It’s strength is in it’s stillness; it’s beauty in it’s stature.

The word ‘steward’ came to me, and ‘perspective’. As we are stewards to these trees, they are stewards to us. Their protection is a cycle. When I relaxed a little deeper into the redwood, the tears came. I cried, not out of sadness but of joy and awe for this grand perspective of time. These trees speak a language which the ancient parts of us understand. It made me think of the great Navaho ‘Seven Generations’ tradition- a way of longitudinal thinking which, like an arrow, catapults us through a long arc of time. It asks us to think about how our actions will land seven generations down the line; the span of a redwood life.

Back in Ireland, on International Women’s Day, I attended an entrepreneur event in West Cork. There were amazing, talented and motivated women in the room. They spoke of the power of emotional intelligence, of speaking up and out, and of the drive to get their visions out in the world. I tried to listen, but there was a rage rising in me; a rage which was stemming from a little pink aerosol bottle which had been placed in front of each of us. The bottle was a spray-on fake tan. The female entrepreneur behind the product is a passionate and driven individual, with a lot of skill at getting a product out to market. But I could not help but read the ingredients- many synthetically produced. As the can is pressurised, there is also a fatal warning on the label and a flammable warning sign too.

The rage continued to rise. What are we doing to ourselves? What on earth are we creating in the name of ‘beauty’? How long will it take for that bottle to degrade? What chemicals is it releasing into the air that we breath and the skin which houses us? The entrepreneur has won awards and recognition for her product, but I thought, what could that entrepreneur do if she put her talents and determination into creating a product which heals rather than harms our mother earth. Who, if not the women, will be the stewards in this long arc of time?

The other evening I found myself listening to a podcast on Sounds True with Joanna Macy. Macy,  now 88, has been instrumental in a movement called the The Work that Reconnects, incorporating Buddhist teachings and scientific thinking into environmental and social change work. There is an effervescence in her voice; a joy and air of reverence which comes from years of hands-on experience. I could listen to her forever. We have a choices, Macy explains, to participate in parallel narratives of our time. She names them as ‘the 3 stories’ which are simultaneously being written at each level of society. We have a choice as to what story we turn our attention towards. 

The first of these ‘3 Stories’ is Business as Usual- the story of our industrial growth society. It is the paradigm of profit and power in which economic growth is given prominence and provides for the wealth gain of the few- the 1%. This is the story of corporate rule, perpetuated by mainstream media. Next, there is The Great Unravelling. This is the story of the disintegration of our systems, including our ecological habitats. The Great Unravelling is narrating the death of our oceans, the obliteration of our environmental diversity and of climate change. It is the tale of the sixth extinction arising from the perils of the unchallenged ‘Business as Usual’ way of thinking.

Then there is the story of The Great Turning. This is the story which understands the other two stories but refuses to ‘let them have the last word’. It is the story of conscious action and of communities of practice- from business to activism-  who have the longitudinal arc in mind; who are actively choosing to turn attention, power and skill towards the work of crafting this new narrative and the corresponding, sustainable, systems necessary for our time.

The writer Ben Okri’s words come to mind here too when he asserts; “A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick storytellers can make nations sick…. Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger’.

The question then becomes, ‘What is the story we want to participant in?’ or even, ‘What is the story we want to write to make our hearts larger?’

Throughout the On Being gathering, there was much talk of this Great Turning story. ‘What is the new story we want to narrate’, asked our host Krista Tippett, echoing Joanna Macy’s work. We heard snippets of The Great Turning being crafted in the simple interactions and kindness of strangers, in the saying ‘No’ to racism and hate, in the reaching out to ‘otherness’ both internally and externally, and in thinking in these longer timeframes. The peace-builder John Paul Lederach, for instance, only takes on projects in which the leaders on both sides are thinking in decade cycles; underscored with an appreciation that we need to work beyond political election cycles for real change to make progress. We heard too from Parker Palmer, Courtney Martin and Omid Safi who spoke about the importance of actively cultivating intergenerational friendships to help us tap into different perspectives and wisdoms, and Dr. Lewis Mehl- Madrona paid homage to the original indigenous peoples who inhabited the land we were on, reminding us so directly that we are not the first ones here, and if we are careful, we will not be that last ones here either. Stewards, all of us.

Back at the Entrepreneur event in West Cork all I could see were little pink bottles. When it came to the questions and answers section, my heart was racing. I sat on my hands so that I would not raise them. I knew that if I did speak, anger would blurt out in a pacy rant. I get emotional that way- overcome sometimes, and in those cases, I am learning that it is best to pause, collect my thoughts and frame my emotions into a question- one that can highlight the challenge and potentially nudge the culture of what we find acceptable forward. Only on this day I seemed to be in overwhelm and my anger had hijacked my coherence. I turned to the lovely woman beside me, and the rage spilled over onto her (sorry lovely lady). Then, after the event, after calming down a little, I turned to another group of friends to ask for their advice: ‘How would you have framed the question’? Orlagh simply and gracefully offered- ‘How about… ‘have you considered a environmentally friendly version?’ Bingo. That’s all it would have taken. ‘Have you considered…’  Those little words pack a lot of punch. They nudge. I wished I had thought of that question at the time. Instead, I sat silent, and raging.

I know I need to work with this anger and surging emotion. I want to learn how to channel it more, and speak in ways which settle into the nudges. So since both the US trip and this entrepreneur event I have been asking myself, ‘How do I harness this anger and emotion, in the moment? How do I learn to speak up and out in ways that nudge the conversation forward?

I brought these questions to my own mentor. Her advice was a gesture back to the trees: be like the redwoods. She encouraged me to sit, so as to expand my capacity to be in the unruly discomfort, to be in the resistance, in the questions, in the anger. Sit for thirty minutes, she suggested, before you get into the whirl of the day. She means; sit to listen; sit to learn how to respond.

‘Stand still’, writes the poet David Wagoner, ‘The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost/  Wherever you are is called Here/ And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, must ask permission to know it and be known’

So, I make my way to my to ‘here’. I sit still (ish). In the sitting, I am finding that there is also a turning. The rage is getting re-shaped into a willingness to allow it to inform and highlight what I need to learn. The sitting is exposing the gaps, and then it is slowly giving me courage to go into those gaps to see how I can fill them.  As it is unsettling, I know it is also nudging. “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’. Leonard Cohen knew of these things too.

In this case, the crack came in the shape of a little pink bottle. And the light? Well, perhaps that is the rage.

And then there is the little question of ‘Have you considered?

So, have you considered the story you want to nudge towards, The Great Turning, the seven generations, and the trees which will still be standing if we can learn to be stewards to our rage.

 

Stay in touch: Sign to my newsletter for more resources and happenings! 

 

From this article… 

Listen to the interview with Joanna Macy on Sounds True here. Her book ‘World as Lover, World as Self’ is a wonderful outline of her Great Turning thinking.

You can read my reflections from the On Being Gathering over here. Omid Safi also shared this reflections on his encounter with the redwoods in this elegant post. 

Want more poetry? Read David Wagoner’s full poem. I also recommend Mary Oliver’s collection ‘Felicity’ where you’ll find, ‘When I am among the trees’

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On Being Gathering- Reflections

Travelling has a way of uprooting us from the familiar and offering new doorways into perception, insight and connections.

As many of you know I recently had the privilege of travelling to the first On Being Gathering, hosted in the new and magnificent 1440 Mulitversity outside Santa Cruz, California, surrounded by 1200 year old redwood trees.

For four days we immersed ourselves in conversations, connections, poetry and nature. It was a time for listening, for questioning, for asking how we collectively can play our role in shaping the world to embrace our full humanity with compassion; asking ourselves some of the big connective questions of our time.

In travelling to the gathering I was aware of the many wonderful people in my own community who were cheering me on and wishing also that they could be there. I was very aware that I was, in some way, representing all of these people- especially those in Ireland, and I wanted to offer something back to this community on my return. This too evolved into having a desire to offer something back to the new community which I met at the On Being gathering.

And so, since returning, I have spent some time attempting to syntheise the key themes and patterns from the conversations that were happening on an off stage. What emerged is a work of amalgam, and in putting this out, I must acknowledge the wise words and presence of all the speakers, participants, On Being staff and our host, Krista Tippett.

It is also a work in progress as I am sure that, with time, I’ll be able to see different patterns and ripple effects from the conversations and experience, allowing them to inform my own path onwards.

I have created my first Medium publication (thanks to my friend Orlagh who told me about the possibility of this) as a digital version of these reflections-

View Medium Publication here

And I have also created a PDF version for download and printing, which also includes a little more of the poetry which was shared or referenced at the Gathering, and have added this to my resource library.

Sign up to my newsletter to receive the link

 

I’d love to hear any responses you have, or what questions it stirs for you. And I also hope you find it useful in your life and work as you navigate your own questions and choices in this powerful time we are in.

Until soon

Clare. xx

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An invitation to slow…

It felt a bit ironic that I read ‘Slow at Work’ quickly, but the ease in which it reads is part of its charm. Aoife McElwain writes in such an earthy and grounded way that reading her new book is like sitting down beside her in her favourite Fumbally Café as she openly and honestly talks you through her quest to get to core of the often ‘elusive’ concept of ‘Work/Life Balance’.

Aoife is a freelancer. For a long time that meant, like so many, running around like a mad thing, chasing deadlines, and juggling multiple projects. Then, one summer, after a bad back injury – induced by too much work and carrying heavy loads, both physically and mentally- she clearly realised the trap she was in: a distinct unbalance modulating her between extreme activity and burnout. And it was taking its toll.

Slow at Work, published by Gill, is the result of Aoife’s year long (ish) investigation in this core question, essentially: how to stay sane in an always ‘On’ world. Alongside extensive reading into the topic she interviewed about 100 people from different sectors- wellbeing professionals, coaches, other self employed people, restauranteurs, artist and creatives- gathering insights. Over the year she then experimented with new approaches and tools to actively apply to her personal and professional life and kept a list of her own nuggets of insight and ‘aha’s’ along the way (which she shares at the end of each chapter).

Diving into topics ranging from managing our inner critics, procrastination, technology and social media, burnout, energy management and gut instinct, Aoife provides a useful distinction between ‘percolation’ and ‘procrastination’ and a handy approach for getting to know (and tame) your inner critic. There are also plenty of insights into how our working environments, diet and physical activity have an impact on our overall wellbeing, alongside an open conversation about money and also our relationship to social media.

It would be tempting to wrap up such a book with the presentation of a ‘Seven Steps to having it all sorted’, kind of list. Refreshingly Aoife instead gives a considered evaluation of the evidence for ‘slow’ in the context of her own life. In that sense ‘Slow at Work’ is not a prescription, more of an invitation. “It turns out you can slow down and keep up’, she writes, ‘it just depends on what your idea of keeping up is”. Like many of the interviewees, Aoife is open and frank about the pitfalls of the entrepreneurial lifestyle- that the promised freedom can come at a high cost unless clear boundaries around time and a very very conscious commitment to wellbeing is applied – with discipline.

In our fast paced, ‘always on’ world, it’s reassuring to meet someone life Aoife who is writing so candidly about the perils of ‘ON’. It’s reassuring too that she’s not alone in her quest to switch gear, still do brilliant work and find ways to create flow and freedom. So if you are looking for new ways into considering what ‘keeping up’ means for you, you’ll find a fresh, friendly and honest voice in Aoife. So grab yourself a coffee, turn off the devises, and in finding your way to Aoife’s words you are already finding a way towards your own quest for sane…

You can pick up your copy of ‘Slow at Work’ in any good bookshop, as they say, or over on Gill Books website.

Happy reading 🙂 And if I have one piece of advice: take your time…

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(I was honoured to be one of Aoife’s interviewees in the book, alongside many wonderful Irish voices who I respect and admire. I am also so delighted that Aoife’s work is out in the world in book print form- such a great achievement and a valuable addition to the wellbeing conversation.. well done Aoife! )


What’s in the belly? //

 

Today, as the Spring light filters onto my desk, as a little bluetit rests awhile on the bird-feeder outside, as the sea beyond shimmers with her openess and depth, to honour the Goddess Brigid, to honour the goddess within, to honour the creative spark of inspiration and insight, I place my hands on my belly and ask: ‘What’s in the belly? What wants to be birthed? What wants to come to form?’

The questions are an invitation to the creative muse within to give voice. The questions open space to listen, to acknowledge, to pay attention to the life which is stirring inside.

From this listening, I journal some new ideas, inklings, tender saplings of projects and possibilities. And then ask… what is my elegant next step?

So often we dismiss our ideas before we give them space to land. We push down the stirrings because they seem too crazy, irrational, ill-timed or inconvenient. We dismiss. And what happens to a friend when we keeping dismissing them? They are afraid to return in fear of rejection.

I think ideas and creativity are a little like that- always stirring and wanting to befriend us, to accompany us on our journey in life; to spark things within.

When we give space to listen, we are creating a welcoming ground for the creative muse. We are staying, ‘Come here, I’m open, and you are most welcome to sit for a while. It’s safe to land’.

So today, on this day of Imbolc, let’s take a few moments to pause, to place our hands on our bellies, and to ask ourselves,

‘What’s in my belly? What wants to be birthed? What wants to come to form’

Then take to your blank pages, your notebooks, your napkins, and write down all those ideas, even the crazy and the inconvenient- let them land.

Afterwards, take a few deep breaths and take note of how it feels in your marrow when you honour the stirrings. And then, only then, ask yourself, ‘what is my elegant next step’.

One elegant next step after the next, we move, onwards, with creativity in our pockets and a new spring in our stride…

Happy Imbolc.

With gratitude to the creative muse within us all, and the goddess too.

Clare. x

Living Seasonally: The Spring Edition starts on Saturday 3rd February, where we will be gathering online to listen inwards, and harness this spring energy in the full spectrum of our lives.

Find out more and register today


Imbolc Ritual- A practice for kindling your creative spark

 

After a long winter the time for the season’s turning is upon us. The days are slowly lengthening, we are emerging from the dark cycle of the year and moving towards the light. Life in the land is beginning to stir and new possibilities are starting to unfurl.

Imbolc, the ancient Celtic festival, celebrates this beginning of Spring. Marked at the new moon on the 31st January/ 1st February, it is a time to welcome this turning. Imbolc derives it’s name from the Irish, ‘i mbolg’, meaning ‘in the belly’, which in turn relates to birthing season, as the soon to be born lambs are growing in their mother’s bellies.

As we cross the threshold from one season to the next, we are witnessing a re-awakening in the landscape. Imbolc also gives us pause to notice the stirrings in our own internal landscape- what’s in our bellies and what ideas want to germinate or be kindled. It also gives us a chance to ask the nurturing and supportive questions of ‘how can this fire be tended’ and ‘how can the inner creative stirrings be harnessed’.

To support you I have designed an Imbolc Ritual to guide you towards your inner stirrings and your creative potential.

To access your free copy, sign up to my mailing list and you will be sent access link! 

The ritual  includes some breathing and meditative practice, and also encourages us all to do a bit of spring cleaning– internally and externally, so we can make space for fresh possibilities. It also includes some tools and practices for nurturing your creative ideas until they are strong enough to be planted into the wide open world! (This ‘greenhousing’ idea has totally shifted how I ask for feedback for my ideas)

I have recorded a short video to tell you more (click on my mug shot here to view!)

 

The guide is a prelude to the Spring Edition of Living Seasonally, which starts this coming Saturday, 3rd Feb. 

So, if you have new ideas stirring and you want some time and space to explore them, then Living Seasonally is for you. Plus, it’s a lovely thing which I pour my heart and soul into. Every day I record fresh videos and I am active on the forum- so it is not a plug and play course, but a responsive and facilitated one, evolving as I learn from each participant.

You can find out more and sign up here. 

Thank you so much all, as always.

Clare x

PS. If you are joining the course, can I encourage you to sign up sooner rather than waiting until Friday please. That way I’ll have a better sense of numbers… and this really helps. Thank you!


Working with the dark receptive…

 

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It’s three weeks into January. Christmas holidays seem like a century ago (right?!) And right about now the slump can hit. Slump= procrastination/ doubt/ fear/ wanting to give up on whatever it is you set out in 2018 with and instead curl up in bed. Familiar?

First up, curling up in bed in a wonderful thing, especially with a good book or a cuddly person beside you, or both! I’ve a new found appreciation for naps, for naps are dreamtime and dreamtime is our subconscious/ unconscious helping us to figure out the unknowns in our lives and reminding us of the mystery. So, yes to naps, especially when we are only still 3 weeks into January and (at least in the Northern Hemisphere, and very much in West Cork, it is wintery outside and the hailstones still insist on coming at us horizontally).

And secondly the challenge is that default dominant cultural mode is to do. Get things done. Do things quickly. Like many of us, I’m a do-er. I get a buzz from starting projects and catalysing shifts. I love to see ideas made manifest in the world. So, I know it takes conscious effort for me to tap into the power of being. To be. We often associate being with ‘not doing’, which can, quite frankly, put the fear of God into all the default do’ers out there -and, yes, there are many of us!

The other morning I got up and immediately jumped into my ‘to-do’ list. By 11am something was really off. I felt out of sorts, stressed, worried. Then it clicked- ah, my ‘to be list’. You’d think I would have learned by now. But learning is a cycle too.

I am actively working with the celtic calendar at the moment and in these weeks before Imbolc (early Feb), we are in the dark receptive cycle. In this phase, ‘to be’ is to be receptive- to be open to receiving- to be growing with intent.

I am realising that there are two layers to this receptivity- the inner and the outer.

The inner layer is an inwards orientation to our own bodies. It asks us, what is it like to be receptive to our own presence, to the space of our bodies, and to our breath. What is it like to be open to feeling the textures we come in contact with on a moment by moment basis, and how does it feel to be aware of our intrinsic connection to all beings and all things, purely by virtue of our being-ness. To be is to be enough. That is baseline. This is the actual default of our lives, and yet we cover it up with busyness to safeguard ourselves from not feeling like we are enough.

The outer later is the external ‘being-ness’: how we show up in the world around us. ‘To be’ in the dark receptive cycle is to be willing to give time to those parts of our life which are still in germination or gestation; to be engaged with the world as a receiver of knowledge, emotion, experience, grace and then to express this receptivity through a trust that life is forever unfolding, always, just as nature does.

And so, with the remembrance, I return to my ‘to do’ list with a calmer breath. Suddenly the ‘to-do’ is put in perspective. I cross off some of the things which I realise are not urgent and return to the things which will help me to engage with the full presence of the day’s receptive unfolding.

PRACTICE

So, during these weeks, here is a really quick practice for you which could radically alter your day:

As you start you day, begin with your ‘to-be’ list and only then write your ‘to-do list. This way you will be making room for what is essential and important, plus you’ll have a way of prioritising, especially when it comes to longer term goals. The urgent will suddenly seem less so. Try it for a few days in a row and notice how different your week is…

JOURNAL PROMPTS:

And here are a few journalling questions for you:

What part of your life is in gestation – if could be an area of personal life or business?

And how can you attend to it with the care and support, as if you are nurturing the very beginnings of a tender sampling? 

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Learn More about Intentional Living and the Celtic Calendar

If you are interested in learning more about the celtic cycles and using the wisdom with in your own life and business, Living Seasonally, The Spring Edition, is open for registration. We start on Feb 3rd. We will be actively looking into how we refine our intentions and cultivate nurturing inner and outer habitats for our ideas, projects and lives to grow.

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COMING SOON! I’ll be sharing a beautiful Imbolc ritual with you all towards the end of this month- so watch this space. If you are not on my mailing list already, hop on over there, add your contact details and the ritual will be sent directly to you.

 

Want to work one-to-one with me? Clarity Sessions is one month of powerful attention, tools and support tailored just for you. Find out more here.


A Spring of Intention

We are part a large cycles of time. The earth has been revolving for millions of years. The moon has been orbiting. The stars have been forming, flaming and fading. The oceans have been swirling and the seasons have been changing. We are here for a blink of an eye. Our time is precious and in this time we have an opportunity to be part of this magical cycle of life. 

Tapping into the cyclical nature of life can connect us to the deeper parts of ourselves: our old selves, our wise selves; our wild selves- the part of us that is intrinsically related to this longer than our life-span self. When we take a step back and see the larger narratives at play, we have a chance to see our own lives in perspective: what am I here to do, how can I contribute, what is my offering to this turning.

The answers to your questions begins with connection.
The seeds of connection is in engaging with our senses; in the tactility of the earth’s offerings.

The connection starts with intention. 

 

An Invitation: 

I invite you to join the next Living Seasonally course, Spring Edition, when we will be exploring intentionality in relation to the Celtic cycle of time. Feb 3rd- 13th.

There will be invitations to listen inwards through creativity and words. There will be a chance to connect with others. There will be a sense of momentum as you move deeper into this dance of life.

This tuning in can have a positive ripple effect on all aspects of your life: personal, professional, communal, spiritual.

This is our exploration. This is my invitation. 

 

>Register here<<

 

 

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50 Resources for Bringing your Venture to life

50-Resources-web

Getting any project, business or venture off the ground can be a daunting task, especially for those with less technical orientations. There are so many digital tools, resources, apps, methods- it can be a minefield. I know- because I’ve been there and have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what works for me, and what doesn’t. So, I have complied a list of resources and tools which could save you a lot of time and money.

After 10 years as sole-trader (as a mentor, photographer and project starter) here are some of the best and simplest tools I have found. Many are no cost or low cost. I have put an asterisk (*) beside any which are free or have free versions available.

The first and best tools may not be the most obvious: 

I want to start with my best tools, which are not technical at all. They are my best tools because they help me to think more clearly and process what feels like a jumble of thoughts, ideas and the seeds of ideas in my head.

My best tool of all is my journal. In there goes ideas, plans, morning pages, draft posts, course plans, random quotes, scribbles, doodles. I’m a big fan of soft-back large blank or dotted Moleskins. They are a bit expensive and this feels like an indulgence, but how I love their blank pages. The journal comes everywhere with me (except into the shower or bath!), and it is usually beside my bed so if I can’t sleep because of an idea, I can just jot down what’s on my mind, and then it helps me get back to sleep. A journal is the closest thing to a panacea that I know.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 13.28.38The next best tool I use is a large blank roll of white or brown paper (mostly wallpaper lining). On there, comes the big picture views- mapping the year ahead, or a book projects, or a marketing plan. The big sheet helps me to see links between ideas and helps me cluster projects into plans. Coloured pens, post-it notes and some design thinking symbols also help to make the muddles in my head look a little bit logical. These plans then get condense into Trello lists (see below).

I keep a separate notebook/ day planner for day to day to do/ priorities.  This is often just a refill pad- something not too precious.

COMMUNICATIONS

Website: 

These days, it need not cost a huge amount of financial investment to get your venture started. You can build a website, get good design and begin getting your offerings out into the world with some clicks and a few emails. Over time, when you know you have a product which works and the services you are offering are tried and tested, you can then invest in higher end production and design.

My website is a wordpress.org site*, which I got a web designer to create. I have learned some very basic html coding so that I can add and amend a little- but I still need her support with some design work. I use a security plugin (iThemes).

I have also created websites on wix.com * and vibr.com – both of which I’d recommend for ease of use.

I use GoDaddy to buy domain names and Blacknight Hosting.

Newsletter/ Email Marketing

I’ve found Mailchimp* to be very reliable and solid for my email marketing needs so far, also easy to use. Their reports, analytics and help services are excellent.

Email

I’m on Gmail*. The Boomerang* plug-in for Gmail helps to schedule emails and set up replies to send at a given time. This means I can write a batch of emails and have them deliver when I think is the best time for the receiver.

Video calls

Skype video* for online coaching sessions which I record using Ecamm and email back to clients using WeTransfer*.

Social Media

I’m on Facebook*, Instagram*, Linked-In* and Twitter*.

I use Tweetdeck* to plan and schedule tweets.

Linktree* for Instagram links.

bit.ly* to shorten links

When I’m really organised I use Trello* to help me map out an editorial calendar.

PRODUCTIVITY

Planning

I use Trello* for keeping lists and workflows. It’s like a way of organising digital sticky notes. I use the mobile app to add to these list on the go.

So, for example, if I am hosting a workshop, I keep each topic as a separate note and can tag on notes, images, memos to self. If the workshop flow changes, I spend a few minutes the next day reviewing my trello board, re-ordering the workshop agenda so that the next time I have it all ready to go, so that it will take less work to organise and prepare.

Other Trello lists include: lists of potential clients, email template scripts for saying ‘No’ (which can be really hard to write on the fly), books I have on loan, and outlines of several writing projects. want to do.

Basically- it’s handy!

Focus: 

When I have one of those days when I just can’t focus and I need to, I use the pomodoro method. So I use the timer on my phone in increments of 23 mins per slot.

Digital Storage

Dropbox* has been my friend. I use the mobile app to bring photos into Instagram.

Online Collaboration

Google Drive* for sharing documents, especially if two or more people are working on the same document.

DESIGN

Graphic Design

Most of my design work is made in Photoshop. I sometimes use Illustrator (although I’m novice, and it takes me ages!)

I have availed of free fonts on DaFont*.

Occasionally I turn to Canva* for poster design.

I have made some one-off books on Blurb.

Business Cards

moo.com. I love that I can have a different image on each card. I also love their new ‘cotton’ option, which is made with recycled T-Shirts.

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

Audio

I use a Zoom H4N to record audio (meditations, newsletters, course content, reading etc), and edit using Audacity*. 

If I am out walking and have an idea, or in bed, and have an idea- I audio record it on my phone’s dictaphone.

Video

Most of my video for my online courses is simply recorded with the Photobooth on my Macbook. Where necessary I use Premier Pro to edit.  I have used both YouTube and Vimeo to host video.

Photography (where it gets a bit more technical, and a bit more expensive)

Images are shot in RAW format, processed with Lightroom, and, if needed, additional editing in Photoshop. I also resize and reformat in Photoshop. I’m a Canon Girl, working with a Canon 5D Mark II, and three main lenses: 50mm f1.4, 100mm f2.8, 24-105 f4.

I maintain a library of my own stock imagery (on back up hard drives)  and keep a selection of these in Dropbox* so they are easily accessible for sharing on social media etc.

ONLINE LEARNING

Hosting Online Courses

I use Ruzuku so far, and so far, it has been good. The format is easy to use and to access. I am also considering Teachable. 

Surveys, Feedback and Online Applications

Typeform* has been good for online applications for programmes and for gather feedback from course participants.

Survey Monkey* has been useful for general surveys (I find their analytic graphics better than typeform)

MONEY

Finance and Accountancy

I use Bullet HQ* to keep track of invoices and income. In theory I use their app to track expenses, but this is not always consistent for me- but it is an option!

Other than that, it’s basic spread sheets.

Online banking with a separate business account (I am always amazed particularly at how many sole traders don’t have a separate business account).

Payments

I use both PayPal  and Stripe for online payment processing- and never had any issue with any of them.

NETWORKS & RELATIONSHIPS

It’s back to old school tactics! Word of mouth is the most powerful tool I know. If someone does a good job, I try to tell others about it. If I do a good job for someone else, I ask them to spread the word and ask for a testimonial What goes around…

Hand written notes, thank you cards, snail mail. Antiquated? Maybe. Powerful. Beyond a doubt. People who come on retreat with me get little hand written notes, someone offer you a valuable piece of advice- popping something in the post as a thank you makes the exchange even more precious. Writing letters to people you admire- priceless!

Picking up the phone. An email might do it, but would a phone call be better? Often because it’s… connection and connection is what relationships and networks thrive on.

WRITING

I don’t use fancy editing or writing tools. Things start in my journal, or a post it note, or a napkin, then make their way to a word document. That’s kind of it. A nice pen helps.

 

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50 Resources rgb A free PDF of this Resource Pack is available. Sign up to my mailing list for this plus more resources, tools and practices for leading your own one wild life.

 

Hope you have found this helpful! Happy plotting and planning!