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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The value of values // Plus a 7 step creative exercise for you to know yours..

vision day jan 2017-17

 

I’m not a fan of cheesy clip art. But for the sake of illustrative purposes, this one does the job!

Vector-BoatIf our goals are like the sails on a sailing boat, then the keel is like our values. The keel is the central axis which helps to keep the ship afloat and provide ballast. In choppy waters, it’s the keel which will help to bring the boat back to upright (note addition of choppy waters in said illustration!) Same too with our values- they act as weights and axes around which we can centre and steady ourselves, and keep ourselves true to our intention and truth.

However like the keel, our values are below the surface, which is why they are often hard to identify and to appreciate the role that they play in our decisions, actions, and outcomes. And yet, deep down, it’s our values which help us sense if we are on the right path and feel aligned or congruent with our sense of self- which is why making a conscious effort to identify them is so important.

Getting clear on our values helps us to design our lives, businesses, interactions and projects with more clarity and intention. They help us have better relationships- personally and professionally. When it comes to business they can help us to design customer or client interactions. And importantly, when we hit choppy waters, they help to keep us resurface and stay afloat.

Trust. Integrity. Honesty. Quality. Joy. Play. Freedom. Leadership. Creativity. Adventure. Responsibility. Kindness. Compassion. Authenticity. You’ll have a set of values unique to you, some more prominent or stronger than others.

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How can you identify them?

Well interestingly we often sense them most clearly them when they have been breached. If trust is a really strong value for you, and someone breaches your trust, you may feel the reaction at a very deep, visceral level. If professionalism is a value and you attend an event which is so poorly run, you may feel a personal affront and anger at the low quality of service. Or if kindness is a value and you witness someone being unkind to another it can alter how you view and in turn value that person. We can also identify them by recalling times in our lives in which we felt a consistent happiness, aliveness or sense of pride. It is likely that your values were being honoured and amplified during these times.

Our values shape the quality of our collaborations too. For instance, understanding where values overlap and where values differ is critical to successful collaborations and so learning to have open conversations with our partners and collaborators is vital to thriving interactions.

We often assume that we hold similar values to those around us, but it’s surprising how much variance there actually is, especially when we see how people individually prioritise those values. If one business partner has a top value priority as ‘freedom’, for example, and another has ‘safety’, then there is a potential clash zone. Maybe the ‘freedom’ person is more likely to take risks in the project and wants take big leaps than the safety person, who values gradual iteration and growth. If you are thinking of going into partnership with someone, doing the values identification exercise below is a great way to tease out potential synergies, challenges or even clashes in advance.

vision day jan 2017-3Plus, when we get explicit about our values it can help us to figure out what to do when we are stuck in a rut or facing a challenging decision. Let’s say you have listed ‘integrity’ as a value, then, when you need some inner direction, you can ask yourself (or your team), ‘What would integrity do now?’ Or if creativity is a value, ‘What is the best use of creativity here, or what is the best creative solution for now?

So, you can see, not only do are values act as stabilisers, they act as propellors too!

(Herein ends the cheezy boat/ ship/ sailing/ choppy waters analogy. RIP clipart)

 

 

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How to identify and prioritise your values: 7 Step Process

Below is a 7 step value identification exercise, developed as part of the Thrive School curriculum. This exercise can be done alone, however it works best where there are at least 3 other people in the room working on it, as it gives you a chance to compare notes and learn together in conversation towards the end.

Time: Initially 45-60 mins. With a 5 review one week later.

Needs: Sticky notes. Blank wall space. Pens.

 

The Process:

Step one: The big list

Write out as many values as you think you have, each one on a separate sticky note. Give yourself about 10 minutes.

A good way to accessing your values is to think about times in your life when you were most happy, and most proud. It is likely that your core values were being honoured during these times.

Or maybe you can recall a time when one was breached? You’ll know if you felt it at a really deep level and it may have been hard to let go of the experience or build trust again.

Step two: Viewing platform

Place all the sticky notes on the wall- take a step back and view. Are there ones that should not belong there? Are there any missing?

Step three: Identify patterns and clusters.

Start placing values which you think belong together in clusters. For example you may think that ‘ integrity’ and honesty should be side by side, or ‘fun’ and ‘play. You may find a clusters of values coming together. Review your clusters. Are there any patterns you see in your values?

Step Four: Prioritising values

vision day jan 2017-9Select your top value from each cluster and place them all together. Depending on how many clusters you had you’ll have a set of values. From these, can you keep removing or adding one until you have 5 values in this group.

Again take a step back. Are these your top five? Sometimes the arrangement of how you place your sticky notes on the wall can tell you something about your priorities. For example: you may have placed them all in a row and have given them all equal value; one may be in the centre and the others radiating from it like spokes on a wheels; or one may be above another. Look at the shape and the form which you choose to place the sticky notes in. Spot any patterns or does the formation give you any clues?

 

Step five (if you are doing this with a group of people)

Bring your top 5 values together as a group. Invite others to view them and ask you questions about your set. Why did you choose this one over that one? How does this one relate to that one? Why not this one? Spend a bit of time teasing out your choices in conversation with others. After the conversation review your set again. Are you happy with this selection?

Step Six

For the following week keep your list of top 5 values visible to you (post them on your bedroom door or beside the bathroom mirror to remind yourself). For the duration of the week track to see how you represent your values in day to day life. In what ways are they honoured? In what ways have they been breached? How have they helped you make decisions during the week?

Step Seven

After a week of tracking your top values take a few minutes to review them. Are you satisfied with your selection? Do you want to swap in one for another? Write out your values in a journal to come back to when you need a reminder.

Thrive School Support Image 2The exercise above is one of many clarifying exercises as part of the Thrive School curriculum.
Thrive School Dublin is soon to start on March 11th – a four month process which leads people through a process of value and vision clarification, into idea forming, through creative blocks and into action.
Applications are now open. You can find more over here. Application deadline is March 3rd.

Want to stay up to date? Sign up to my mailing list for more resources, updates and happenings. Sign up here


In hope I trust…

Shankill Castle Feb 2015-138

I am sitting here looking at a blank screen, cursor flashing. I’ve been sitting here for at least 30 minutes. I’ve written lines, and deleted them again. I’ve made two cups of tea. I’ve checked on the fire, numerous times. I’ve written some more words, and deleted them again. Ahead of me is a blank document. All that white space. It’s terrifying. It’s daunting. It’s confusing. It’s exhilarating.

You see it seems like there have been so many words over these last few weeks, some of which have been sending the world into topspin. There have been unsavoury words which have led to unsavoury action. There have been words of spite, anger, shock, uncertainly and fear. But then, in consequence, written on the streets through the feet of millions and held up high on placards there have been words of hope, solidarity, compassion, justice, inspiration, power and beauty.

Watching global events unfold it strikes me that we are facing a collective blank page. The cursor is flashing. Unfolding before us are two narratives- internally and externally: the narrative of fear and the narrative of hope. We get to write how the story continues. We are part of the unfolding. The ancients and our ancestors have been through this before, of course.

 

The evil. The good. The fear. The hope. The one that wins is the one that feeds.  Right now it can seem that hope is hungry and fear is full; but only if we choose for it to be so, and that choice, I think, requires connection.

As we plug our own lives into the grand narrative of global affairs, our own individual actions can seem, well, insignificant.  ‘But I’m only a _______’ .  A blank. That maybe so, but whatever your ‘blank’, that blank has it’s own soul, energy, skill, talent, breath, movement, texture and form. That blank has power. Then, put lots of blanks together and you get a whole new tapestry of possibility.
+_____________ +_____________ +_____________ +
+_____________ +_____________ +_____________ +
+_____________ +_____________ +_____________ +
+_____________ +_____________ +_____________ +
+_____________ +_____________ +_____________ +
+_____________ +_____________ +_____________ +
Those blanks make units, and those units make patterns, and those patterns have weaves and those weaves are strength. Together those blanks make families, communities, neighbourhoods. friendships, even movements. The narrative of hope is a narrative of action, and connection.

I write these words to myself as a reminder. To reach out. To listen to the other. To pay attention to what hunger I am feeding. To connect.  And as I write them I am also aware that there is a simplicity to them which could be called idealism or even naivety. I’m OK with both, because ultimately it all boils down to this: we all live on the same planet, we are are all the one species, we breath the same air and need the same fundamental things. We have so much more in common than any ideology would lead us to believe. We are all one. It’s really that simple. Whether I agree with you our not, we are still one. You are my sister or brother on this planet. That air we breathe, that sun we share, that gravity that holds us, holds us all, together. That’s the natural law. Now it’s up to us to keep it so.

And so, feeding the hope is not to deny the fear, it’s just not giving into it. It’s not to deny the history of what we have been through, nor to turn away from what is happening, but instead to turn towards what the earth already knows, intrinsically. Hope then is not passive acceptance, but an active appraisal; an earthly honouring. It can be a push, a shout, a scream. It can be saying no. It can be standing up. It can be reaching out. It’s the warrior within rising up, for the narrative of hope gets written through action.

Ahead is the blank page, awaiting attention. It’s still pretty terrifying, and daunting and confusing and exhilarating, but by reminding myself what hunger to feed, it seems just a bit less so. Especially the terrifying bit.

And so to the ancients, I bow; to this mother of earth, I bow; and to you, I bow, whoever you are, wherever you are. It’s in hope that I trust.

Now, let’s keep this hope on the road.


Learning to do Business and Life as Unusual

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As you know, starting your own project or business is not easy. It brings up a whole host of questions and challenges. It brings up internal fears, vulnerabilities and doubts. There are logistic challenges, timing issues, design issues. There are lots of ‘what’s, how’s and why’s’.

It has been 7 months since I launched Thrive School and in that time it has been evolving, and I have been evolving too. One of my benchmarks for learning is when new questions show up. If I’ve no new questions then I’m not entering new territories of growth and development. At the moment, I have a ton of new questions!

Thrive School emerged from a vision to create networks of dreamers and do’ers; people who have a passion and drive to make a difference through their lives and work, and naturally have lots of questions too. I know that the questions can be overwhelming when we don’t have support, community and a framework for asking them. So in many ways Thrive School is evolving into that- a place to ask questions, learn through them and in doing so expand what is possible for each of us. It’s a place to evolve our dreams, ideas and ultimately ourselves too.

And so Thrive School a much about how we learn as what we learn. The how is so important as is will impact on our future how- how we bring the learning from the programme into our projects and lives. Here’s a few principles behind the Thrive School ‘how’, and why we think they matter….

 

Values based development

Think of your values like the keel of a ship. Our values help to keep us upright, especially in choppy waters. They give us weight, and support, and around them we can build our ship and sail it. Gaining a understanding of your personal values and how they impact and influence the business or project you are designing is critical to your own personal sanity and the project’s sustainability. Our values help to keep us grounded and on track. They help us to value our time, ourselves, our products and our pricing. They are the foundation stone and so we start there.

Life and Learning happens in cycles

Transformational learning is not a linear process. We learn in cycles and spirals. Sometimes we need to make the same mistake a few times before we really learn how to navigate the challenge in a fundamentally different way. Learning is accelerated when we take a cyclical approach: conscious action, then review, then adaption before we take action again. This way our learning is taken out of a linear process and into a spiral. This is the learning not just of growth but of adaptability and flexibility- two key skills necessary for any business or venture to thrive.

Structures Create Flow and Freedom

So many of us strive for freedom- freedom from 9-5, freedom from debt, freedom from certain external demands. Think of a bird- for it to fly a bird needs to instinctively know and respect the structure which the dynamics of wind currents, gravity and physics impose. It’s by embracing these that flight is championed. Our ultimate freedom comes when we understand and embrace the structures which work best for us. What boundaries do we need to have around our time, for instance; or what perameters do we need have around our spending and savings to give rise to financial flow. It’s the boundaries that give rise to the freedoms that we choose.

Energy management, not time management

Life happens in seasons and cycles. There are weeks when we have more energy and weeks when we have less. There is a season to launch something, and a season for letting go. Gaining a deeper appreciation of our own energy cycles helps us to move our days in relationship with what we are creating.

Peer to Peer and non ‘expert’ driven discussion and feedback loops

We are our own experts. The age of the guru is dead. At Thrive School we celebrate and honour expertise, know we each have something to offer. No one person has the ‘right’ answer for you- only you do, but we can listen to each other, learn from each other, and each strive for our own version of excellence.

Prototype, iteration, experimentation and play

We grow our ventures through cycles of experimentation, iteration and prototyping- each one building upon the next, which gives rise to the next. We encourage early prototyping, trying something small out, then making adjustments. We dream big but understand that it will take iterations to get there.

Time is precious

Our time is one of the most precious things we have. Time for ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities, our hobbies. There is a lot to pack in. At Thrive School we look at how we can best  value our time by developing business services, products and offering which respect our expertise and reflect back to us the value which we bring to the world.

Elegant next steps

Our big vision is powerful but we get there one step at a time. What is your elegant next step?… we ask this over and over of each other. And yes, we believe the process can be beautiful and elegant too.

 

These are just some of the core principles. As the school evolves, so too will they. This is learning in action, one elegant next step at a time.

… 

 

 The next 5 month Thrive School programme is about to happen in  DUBLIN.

Applications are open until noon on Tuesday 1st November.

 Apply online here now. 

Not in Ireland and interested in Thrive School? Stay in touch… I’m looking at ways to bring the material to a wider audience- it’s in evolution too. And if you’d like to offer me your input or ideas please do share with me via email: clare (at) claremulvany.ie – thank you!

Clare. xx


Writing the Way to our Answers

 

On Writing our Way to our Answers

Friends,

How are you? Really, I want to know.

What’s on your mind? What keeps you up at night? What questions do you carry? What is your heart longing to say? What is it that you want to birth? What is it that you want to jettison?  What is it that you plan to do with your own wild and precious life? 

Why do I ask? For many reasons.

I’ve been asking these questions of myself, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

You see, I’m marking several thresholds. Firstly, it’s been six months since I made the big move out of Dublin down to the wilds of West Cork. I’ve had six month of open landscape and big skies, of wild encounters and starry nights. I’ve had six months of coastal walks and hedgerow viewing, and each time I’m out in nature it seems like I am seeing it all for the first time-  it always seems like the first time, for it always is. The new is in the way the light arrives each day, or the uprising of a wave, or the tumble of cloud or the particular shade of green at that particular moment. Six months seems like nothing at all but it is enough for me to realise that the space has been releasing me from certain ideas I’ve had of myself, or even certain ambitions, and in turning inwards I am finding the energy and drive to turn outwards again, reimagined. It is exciting, and daunting, and I am so so grateful for this space, this landscape and this remarkable piece of land I get to inhabit for a while…

I’m stepping over another threshold too. It’s been 10 years since I started blogging, and 10 years since I set out on my crazy journey to write what was to become the book ‘One Wild Life’. It is so hard to believe it has been 10 years. (I have a surprise down the line for you all on that matter by the way- it is in development, so watch this space).  As I cross the threshold I have been reflecting in my journal on my journey since then; what I have learned, how I have changed, and what now wants to emerge.

I realise that I must have written hundreds of thousands of words over these 10 years, many of which were discarded, many of which sit in journals, some of which wound their way into blog posts or articles- yet each word in itself, whether kept or unkept, remembered or forgotten, is somehow life-giving. I say that even though I’ve abandoned two books in the last few years, and burnt the whole manuscript of my first novel. Yes, gone.

But they are not really gone. It is just that the form I was placing upon them was forced, and the words I was choosing to share were not really the true ones. I was pushing them into a shape that they didn’t fit into. And beyond that, I was scared to let them take me to my edge, to that raw place of truth and beauty were great writing goes. Now I know that the fear is a signpost; it tells me I am on to a good thing, the honest thing, the brave thing, the uncomfortable thing, the thing that pushes as my edges and takes me outside myself to be able to go inside myself with more force, grace and determination. And so in a funny way my fear tells me to trust that more words will come, and those words will change me. What shape they land in doesn’t really matter because the words in themselves are the life-giving force. The words themselves generate. They carry new ideas, insights, possibilities, connections. It is in the writing that the magic happens.

And yet, there is power too in the witness. When we do choose to put our words into the world, we never really no where they’ll land, who they’ll touch, how they may stir things, who they could infuriate or who they will resonate with. Whatever happens afterwards is beyond us. In the space between us and the reader is another clink of magic.

So I know words matter and I sense that how they land is out of our control. But what I think really matters is that we write them in the first place; for the love of it, for the connection to our creativity and our fear, and for the fundamental need to give voice to our voice. While I have not always been entirely consistent with mine, writing has given me a channel to my voice and a place where I have full expression. It’s both liberating, and connecting, and yes, I repeat, life-giving.

And so I ask again.

What’s on your mind? What keeps you up at night? What questions do you carry? What is your heart longing to say? What is it that you want to birth? What is it that you want to jettison?  What is it that you want to do with your own wild and precious life? 

Write it out, my friends, write it out out out. Listen to the place where fear tells you to go. Listen to the places of solace too, for you’ll be writing your very own map to your own answers. It’s your personal guide and who knows where it will land you.

And if you need a witness, I’m also here. I’d love to read what you have to say. So, feel free to write to me my friends… What’s on your mind? What keeps you up at night? What questions do you carry? What is your heart longing to say? What is it that you want to birth? What is it that you want to jettison?  What is it that you want to do with your own wild and precious life?

Replies to clare (at) claremulvany.ie

I’m curious to see where this takes you. And me.

Onwards,

Clare xx

 

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(And for a little musical treat, I heard Ger Wolfe perform in Levis Corner House in Ballydehob on Sunday Night, and this song, with all its magical simplicity and charm, had me in tears. So if you need some respite from all the questions, for the TV, from the radio, from the government, from the crazy times, may this be it! )

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Thrive School potential 3

 

Thrive School is DUBLIN and CORK is open for applications. How about 5 months to dive into your dreams, vision and a support structure to bring your plans to life. Find out more and apply online here.


The Anatomy of Thriving 

The anatomy of thriving insta

 

What does it mean to really Thrive? How does it feel in the body? And how can we thrive in both business and life?

We were huddled around the table at the last Thrive School gathering when the idea of collectively creating an ‘Anatomy of Thriving’ came to us. It was a way of opening up the conversation about what it means to really thrive as we create our own ventures.

So often on the entrepreneurial journey personal wellbeing is sacrificed in the face of financial or social goals. We can drive projects onwards to the point that we may have a thriving business but we are left depleted. Or we may be so cautious about expending our own energy or stepping out of our comfort zone that we don’t manage to build the momentum needed to carry our creative energy and momentum forward. So where’s the balance? And what are the ingredients to that sweet spot of thriving?

I rolled out a long piece of paper and drew the outline of a body (which we reckoned looked more like a flat Morph than anything human, but none the less…. )

Here’s some of the thriving elements we came up with. It’s a collective work in progress, a Thrive School prototype. As it stands, a helpful guide. I’d love to hear what you’d add too….

Stay earthed: It’s that ground beneath your feet. It’s your community. It’s your sense of place. It’s your values. It’s your gravity and your gravitas. To rise one must first root.

Take the first step: You may not know the final form, but your first step will help determine it. The first step can be tiny. Take it. Reach out to another. Send that email. Ask that question.

Create boundaries: Boundaries may be conversations you need to have with potential partners, or the way you structure your time. They may be decisions  about who you share your dreams with. It may even be how much sleep you get. Your boundaries, like the banks in a river, help to give you momentum and direction. Build some. Let them guide you.

Follow your Gut: More often than not your gut is right. It’s the primary and visceral response. Does it feel right in your gut- then it probably is. Does it feel wrong or wary? Then it probably is too…

Be young at heart: Play. Prototype. Experiment. Where’s the fun in it? Fun is a signpost too. It’s there to be followed.

Try your hand: Give it a go. If it fails you can give something else a go. There is learning in that, and where there is learning there is growth.

Amplify your voice: Your story is your gold. You’re worth the weight of it. Get to know the nuances of your own story and then let your voice carry you onwards. Always.

Open your Eyes: There are opportunities everywhere. See patterns. See connections. Join the dots. Make the connections. Observe, then act.

Allow trust to infiltrate everywhere: Trust is the weave of connection between it all. Trust your gut, trust your instinct. Trust that there will be people to guide you and support you. Trust will lead you in the right direction. Trust is the currency of action. Believe in goodness.

Now over to you? What would you add? Dissect away..

Interested in Thrive School? Applications are now open for new cohorts on Cork and Dublin. Apply online here. We start in Cork on Oct 15th and Dublin on Nov 6th

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What to do on a slump day…

What to do on a slump day

 

We all have them- those days we’d rather not. The day the internal weather turns on us and we’d rather hide.

I had one last week. It had started with big intentions-  to get up early, to do yoga, to dive into work and turn up my energy and productivity. It didn’t happen. I fell back asleep. I did a very brief bit of yoga. I felt resistance to being at my laptop. I ate cake.

Working for myself I try to put best habits in place, be consistent and show up to my work with gratitude for the opportunity and the freedom. But that day, quite simply, I didn’t want to. I wanted to hide. I wanted companionship and I started to question it ALL.

What does it matter in the bigger scheme of things? And I doing the real and important work? Does what I do make any difference at all? Who am I kidding?

The latter question in particular is an open door to my inner critic. For me it’s the ‘your so lazy you’ll never get there’ voice. And when that voice starts it gives rise to lots of others. There is the ‘imposter voice’- this is the ‘who do you think you are’ voice. Then there is the voice which is constantly worrying about building my business and finance- this is the voice which says ‘here you go again, it will never work’.  Then there is the more personal one that thinks I’ll be single and alone for the rest of my life- the ‘you’re not good enough voice’. Pretty soon there is a party in my head and the chatter so deafening it is no wonder I want to hide.

It turns out though that most of us have parties in our head. I know of no person who doesn’t experience it from time to time; and of course, I know for some people, the conversation is so loud it challenges longer term function.

What I say now is directed towards the days when you do feel in a slump, and need to find ways to quite the critic. That voice is so sabotaging, and learning to manage it and speak calmly to it is one of the most valuable learning adventures we can go on.

Here are a some of the few ways I find useful. It’s not a definitive list and quite personal to me, so I’d love to hear yours too… 

 Go for a walk

Nature has so many answers for us. The rhythm of the day, the pattern of the seasons, the crest of a wave reminds us that everything passes. The voice will pass too. When I put my ear up against a gush of wind or the whirl of the sea, the inner voice softens and I hear a deeper wisdom, ‘this too shall pass’.

Open the ‘cheerleading folder’ 

I have a folder in in email account called ‘cheerleaders’. These are emails I have kept on file from friends, readers and clients who say the good things. They are reminders of the small or big ways my work has reached and influenced them. They are like electronic bouncing castles for the spirit. Everyone should have a cheerleading folder!

Name the inner critic

Give that voice a name, an actual name, like Betty or Bob, or Hilda. When the voice arrives, welcome it and say, ’Here’s Hilda again, I wonder what’s up with her today’, then thank her and ask her to leave now because you are busy and have work to do. Naming the voice does’t deny it but does help to put it in its place. It helps to separate yourself from it too and opens some space from a more positive reaction and response.

Do a job on your list that you enjoy 

So maybe the day that your inner critic is speaking loudly is a day you have all the nasty jobs on your list. Scrap that. Instead, do a job that brings you joy, or if it’s not a job, ring a person that brings you joy. Or if not a person, dance in the kitchen, sing in the bath, jump up and down, shake something out. Some action is important. Physical activity really helps. Chats with good friends can work wonders too. Share it, shake it!

Write it out

Journal. Journal. Journal. Scribble. Getting the voice on paper is another way of distancing it. If it is on paper it’s not in your head- or at least not in your head as much.

Shake up your environment, shake up your routine

Walk to work the same route every morning? Change your direction.

Sit at the same place in your house if you are working from home? Move. Work in the garden, or in the bathtub, or on the floor. Changing your external perspective can help to shift your internal perspective. I love to go to a coffee shop and work there too, depending on my mood.

Get off your screens

Turn off your phone, laptop, tv and social media. There are so many messages swarming at us that on days when we are not in great headspace they are amplified and can be so utterly tormenting. Reducing tech stimulation helps to quiet the mind. When it’s not possible to entirely switch off, can you become more aware of your reading and viewing patterns, and limit the time you are using?

Get dressed up

Even if you are working from home, get dressed as if you are going to a really important meeting, or date! Put on the good clothes, put on the red lipstick (or whatever your equivalent is!) , brush your hair. Showing up to yourself, especially on the days when you couldn’t be bothered, helps you to see yourself differently. The inner critic hates that…

Give in (for a day… )

Somedays it just doesn’t budge or you don’t have the energy. Let the day slide. Stay in bed. Go to the cinema. Give yourself permission to have a slow day… the inner critic loves to chime in when you are tired but feeling obliged to be full of energy. Giving ourselves permission is one of the biggest game changers, and one of the hardest to implement… so before you go to bed that night, set some intentions for the following day. Plan your schedule. Set your outfit out and pre-empt some of the critic thoughts. Tomorrow is always another day.

And when all else fails, find a puppy! 

It’s hard to be down when there is a little playful animal around! For me, it’s Milly. On days when I just don’t feel up for anything, she still demands love, attention, cuddles and walks. In giving them I receive then all too… and somehow the slump is de-slumped!

Over to you.. any thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? 

………………………………………………………

Thrive School potential 2Thrive School is soon coming to Cork and Dublin. It’s a 5 month programme to build momentum, learn strategies to design your life and business and take your elegant next steps with grit and grace… Find out more over here. 

 

 

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testimonial

Time to Thrive…

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It is time to open the doors again.

Inside, connection awaits. Learning, support, friendship, challenge and opportunity too.

Inside, there is a gathering of rich ideas and eager hearts. There is vulnerability, doubt, bravery, questioning, imperfection, courage and momentum.

I’m talking about Thrive School.

Thrive School has been running now for 5 months, and I have been learning so much. I am encouraged and inspired by the participants. Each have a spark of an idea, want a better life for themselves, and others. There is so much talent, so much potential.

Part of my learning is this:

Universally, I see that keeping momentum going is so hard. Universally, the inner critic chimes in and sets the internal sabotaging demons on the loose. To have a dream, to believe in it, and then to get up and do something about it- well that takes guts. No one said it was going to be easy. But necessary, yes…

I don’t use ‘necessarily’ lightly here. I am a big dreamer. I am always always thinking of the next thing, the next solution. What I have learned is that those dreams are like fuel for my soul and my sanity. The dream is momentum. The dream is my gold. The dream helps me to stay connected to my essence, divinity, power, energy.

Thrive School potential 3And when we are each connected to our dreams and our vision? Well, we have collective rocket fuel. We have a world which is evolving.

You see, I think we need it all now- the talent, ideas and creativity. We need people who are awake, on fire, in love, devoted. The world is going through complex change. It’s easy to loose hope, and the alternative of despair will only set us in circles. We need those dreams;  we desperately need new creative solutions.

But we don’t have to do it alone. When we share our dreams, we find allies and supporters, collaborators, clients, funders, beneficiaries, customers, partners and people who we be there for us just at that critical moment when we may be running out of fuel…

Evolve your dream and in doing so you’ll serve others. 

In a way you could also call Thrive School a dream factory- a space where people have a chance to share theirs, work on theirs, prototype parts of it, ditch parts of it, discuss and learn tools to build it. Some dreams may take wings, others may pivot into something else… but at a minimum it will have been listened to, given voice and given space to express itself.

Want to be a writer? Great- let’s looks at the support you need to make that happen, the ways you can bring in income to fund it and the ways you are going to get your voice out into the world?

Thrive SchoolYou’re a yoga teacher but finding it hard to find you niche in a community already flooded with yoga teachers. What a great challenge. Let’s looks at ways you can connect with others, design a new programme, and bring yoga into places where it is needed to most…

Your already an artist but find it so so so hard to promote your work and share it online? You are like so many others… let’s take it one step at a time, looking at how to get your work into the right places and the right story to accompany it…

Want to eventually leave your current job to develop a new creative business venture? Great – come and prototype your idea, learning what may work, refine your target audience and test your thinking before you make the big transition…

Thrive School opens it’s doors again in Dublin and a brand new programme in West Cork. 

Topics include visioning, marketing, programme development, finance and sustaining momentum. There are 15 places on each programme.

We start on 15th Oct in Cork, and Nov 6th  in Dublin 

Applications now open, and come along to the open days…

Find out more here.

And if you want to discuss more, message me and we can arrange a skype call to see if you are a good fit.

Thank you…

Clare xx


Creative Islanders: Miceal Murray

Miceal Murray Creative Islanders

The Creative Islanders is a blog series showcasing creative and social entrepreneurs and practitioners in Ireland who are stepping into their dreams, purpose and passions and choosing to do ‘business as unusual’ while being based in Ireland. The series aims to be a ‘behind the scenes’ look into their creative practices, process, motivations and mindsets, shining light of what makes people tick, and how, collectively Ireland is alive with creative possibility.

Next up in the series is Miceal Murray, a forager and cook who has recently founded ‘Taking A Leaf’, a new business running creative food events with a focus on wild and local foods. Inspired by the celtic cycles, Miceal has created a series of seasonal dining experiences and coupling them with music and art. With over 25 years in the cafe and restaurant business it was time for him to step onto his own path, combining his passion for sustainable enterprise with his love of nature and the wild. Miceal is also a Thrive School participant. And so with great pleasure I hand over to his lovely and kind self…

What keeps you in Ireland?

What keeps me in Ireland is the sense of home I get from here. It’s in my bones. Being from the country the connection is strongest felt from the landscape and the wild. And it is specifically the Irish landscape and whatever magic emanates from it. It seems to hold a mystery and a richness that I can’t find elsewhere. Obviously there is beauty all over the world but I find something else here; something hard to put into words. It is a distillation of many things, history, stories, art, music and memory. And of course my husband, family and friends.

What makes you tick? What motivates you?

A deep and heartfelt desire to live more in tune with the natural rhythms of nature and self, and to express these in a creative and meaningful way.  It is also the desire to live in a way that is more connected to nature in an urban setting.

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Why do you do what you do?

I think that part of me might shrivel up and die if I didn’t. It keeps me vital.

What do you do just for the love of it?

Discovering new things, be it music, food, books, magazines or places. Plus, jumping over a wall or crawling under a hedge to get to a new patch of land.

What does the creative process teach you?

Be open to change. I can visualise an idea or concept but to actualise it I must be open to change. Ideas can change or they can grow into something completely new, or they can be shelved and returned to at a more appropriate time.

What were some of the key moments along your own journey that helped you to get where you are today?

I learned so much from a wonderful lady called Judith Hoad. She is a teacher, healer and author and she introduced me to so many plants and explained their medicinal and edible properties. She inspired me to think differently.

DSCF4056Where do you find inspiration? Any hidden gems?

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. I recently watched a film called “Juliette of the Herbs” it stayed with me for days, as did “Embrace of the Serpent”. Although the content doesn’t directly inspire me the magic of the characters involved does. But you can’t beat a good walk to get you out and get the juices flowing.

How do you get through tough times? What sustains you?

It is pretty simple really: get outside and walk the dogs.

What key lessons have your learned about doing business or being a creative practitioner along the way?

It is strengthening to know that everything changes and nothing is constant. Whatever you are going through, whether good or bad, it will come to an end and change into something else.

Do you have a morning routine? 

Ideally I like to do an early Astanga class. It really sets my day up and I am more determined to get on and get stuff done. I have an on/ off relationship with meditation but this too helps. But most of all walking the dogs first thing through the very wild Liffey Valley park gets me going.

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What books have inspired you?

The Global Forest by Diana Beresford Kroger

What advice do you wish you had received as you were stepping onto your own creative path?

Make lists. And then make more lists.

Be kind to yourself if mistakes are made. I am learning all the time and am very new at this game so I have a long way to go and many mistakes to make.

And what advice would you give to your future self?

Work less, garden more.

What is coming up next for you?

On the 13th of August I am completing a cycle of dinners inspired by and connecting with the ancient celtic festivals. So this time it will be Lughnasa and the beginning of harvest. Simple local food with foraged elements. After that I will be collaborating with the composer Hilary Mullaney to create an immersive dining experience. Also a series of walks to get people out and introduce them to some plants.

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……..

All photos by Vivienne O’Brien.

Find out more anout Taking A Leaf over here on the website and also over on Facebook here.


The sea, the sea and a West Cork Calling..

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‘I want to live by the sea, not die by the sea’.

Sometimes you’ve just got to dive in. In diving you can’t but go under.

It’s not what I had been expecting, the radio silence on my writing and creative output but that is exactly what’s happened. You see, I have been literally swimming in a world of newness.

For years I have been talking about a vision of mine- to live in the countryside while running a creative school or venture. I always saw the sea and a dog by my side, yet it always seemed in the future. But as the years move on, I realise the future is now, and the future is not coming any sooner unless I act upon my dreams.

It is such a hard thing to give up something that is going well for the risk of something better, deeper, that may or may not work. The questions and doubts are hard too- How will I sustain myself? Will I be lonely? What about my yoga classes? What about my friends? What if that dream was all but an illusion and I will come out the other end with no other dream.

But my body knew. Back in January while on a retreat in the UK, it became clear to me that, for the sake of my very being, it was time to move and the time was soon. I did not feel ready but I knew intrinsically I had to immediately take action. There was a particular part of Ireland calling too; a place I knew well as a teenager, and a place which over the last few years had re-planted itself deep in my heart. West Cork.

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Once I made the decision it all happened pretty fast, which is often the case with these things.

The day I returned from the UK I sent a message to one of the few people I knew living in West Cork, asking if she knew of any housesits available. She told me that they are hard to come by but then said that her mother was actually looking for a someone. So I immediately contacted her Mum, and yes, I could bring my dog, and yes I could borrow her car.

It only took one email.

Flow is a sign of the right course of action. This almost seemed too easy.

But what about my room in Dublin? I sent an email to my friends wondering if anyone would be interested in subletting while I tested the Cork waters. Immediately I found someone.

That only took one email too.

So, ten weeks ago I found myself in Schull, West Cork, with a sea view and a dog by my side. This had been the dream for so long there were days I had to pinch myself. Has it really been that easy?

Sometimes we can be led to believe that what we really are called to do is not the right thing unless it is hard and challenging. Yet this whole experience shows me that the ease is a signpost too. The ease is permission and a gateway. ‘Follow’, it says.

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Ten weeks ago I took that housesit in Schull, really knowing only one person in town. Now, ten weeks on, I find myself walking down the street constantly stopping to chat. One day I went out for milk and came home seven hours later- there was the milk, and then the many many many conversations I had with people along the way. They stop to say hello to Milly and then the conversation opens. It is that kind of place. People have time and space and it is leading to very interesting connections. I am not sure where they are heading, but what’s important is the time and space.

There have been many surprises. I had thought in moving that I would have so much more time for writing, painting and new creative projects, but instead, the silence. Over these weeks there has been a lot of quite and a lot of listening. I have walked and walked and walked the coastline. I have listened to Spring turn into Summer and watched the clouds shift in an instant. The landscape offers its daily gifts. It is a landscape which thrills and embraces and it is a landscape which is alive and supportive. Even when the weather is bad it offers its wild intimacies and the unexpected turns of its stormy ways. The sea is in constant dialogue, the birds and wildlife too. It’s never a dull moment out there. The aliveness of it all envelopes and invites me into a deeper conversation too with my own particular wildness and aliveness. I indeed feel I am living by the sea.

When I first left Dublin I knew it was a trial run of a bigger and more substantial move. Ten weeks on, the housesit is over but I’m still here. I’ve a new friend has kindly offered to let me stay with her from the summer and am looking for a longer term house, trusting that the right one is out there for me. I gave notice on my house in Dublin and packed my bags last week. I’ll miss my yoga classes, and my friends, and all the good things that Dublin has to offer, but I knew I just had to leap.

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And so in the time and space, another aspect of that long held dream has evolved, with relative ease too. I launched Thrive School, and with a bit of marketing effort and conversations with people interested, it is now up and running and fully subscribed. The flow was there, telling me to keep on moving and developing it.  And so, with such gladness, I can say that my vision of the school is alive and evolving too. My plan is to launch Thrive School again in Dublin in the Autumn and a new class in Cork too. How exciting is that!

Diving in, I’m sinking deeper into beingness, into an exploration of what it means to track a dream. I feel lucky, so very lucky, to have the sea and my little dog by my side, and how can I ever be lonely with the wildness outside and the bit of wildness I am rediscovering inside too.

To be continued…

 

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