A Walk Round Vartry Lakes, Wicklow

It was a gorgeous warm, sunny and still day. The lake reflecting the sky perfectly.

Our picnic ended being a stand up and run around affair for the girls who were terrorised by wasps! Silly women!

Dylan is not the most enthusiastic swimmer on the planet. He prefers a paddle. And who says animals do not have expressions. He is clearly saying “I am trying to bloody fetch it, but it has sunk and I hate getting my bloody face wet!”


As long as we can see the Sugar Loaf we know we are not far from home!

Heading over the reservoir and back to the car

New Term’s Resolutions

We have just one week left of Summer Holidays. Today is Sunday and this day next week, my girls will be making sure they have all they need for their return to school on the Monday. A new school year and both of them move on to new teachers and a new classroom. And as I will watch them walk into the yard on Monday week, I know I will think of how quickly years pass, of how summers come and go and how much older they look as they set their faces to new challenges that lie ahead.

And as I return home, I will, no doubt, relish to silence and the calm in the house as I once again reclaim it as my daytime territory. I will put on some coffee to brew and then I will begin to plan how I can achieve my new challenges – my new (school) year resolutions.

As we turn towards autumn and the days shorten and darkness arrives a little earlier, I am conscious of more time indoors and therefore more time to spend on things I wish to achieve. The reintroduction of routine also allows me to shape my time into ways that work for me. And perhaps I mirror the children’s progress through education by attempting to persue something not yet accomplished.

Since I retired from full time (paid) employment, I have been able to explore lots of things that catch my interest. I have become a Reiki Master, have discovered the joy of baking, can read acres more than I could in the past, got involved in volunteering within my community and have dabbled with writing. So my resolution this year is to attempt to narrow my focus and gather my energy back my varied interests and direct it to my writing. I am hoping to devote at least 3 mornings a week to writing and by Christmas will take stock on what I have accomplished. I am not expecting to have a book ready by then you understand…. but it would be nice to have perhaps a story or two achieved and maybe some clear ideas of how I can become the best writer I can be. Another step on the road to understanding who I am and to living my best life!!! (http://serenityspace-barbara.blogspot.com/2009/08/living-your-best-life-1).

So – are you making any new term’s resolutions? What are they?

Living Your Best Life – 2 –

First of all, thanks to all who left a comment on my previous post on the subject of Living Your Best Life. Having had a week to mull this over and the inspiration provided by your thoughts, here is some of what I think.

Know who you are: I know this sounds maybe a little like psychobabble but I really think it is important to know yourself. We all wear masks and play parts much of the time, trying to be a great daughter, mother, sister or friend. Trying to be capable and strong or perhaps shy and retiring and put upon. But it is vital to spend some time really searching within, in order to find out who we are. Take away all the labels and masks and think of yourself by your first name. I am Barbara – but who is that? Who are you? Who is the real you? What are your passions? What really makes you tick?

Slow down. We can often live our lives at breakneck speed. Charging through our days in a very task orientated way. Perhaps we think we are really good at multi tasking and getting lots done. And that is good but not if it is at the expense of noticing beauty and joy all around us. I really think we all need to slow down. We need to develop the habit of taking time each day to just be! And the problem is that when we do stop, we feel guilty. We need to realise that by caring for ourselves, we are practicing self love and that so good for all the parts of yourself. Minding yourself will improve your physical, emotional and psychological health.

Live in the moment. Be in the Now. Be conscious of when your energy flies off in all directions. We spend endless hours worrying about the future and fretting about the past. We need to develop the habit of checking ourselves regularly. Where is your energy now? Drop the worry habit. It serves no purpose. It achieves nothing but ill health for yourself and it poisons the world around you. A great way to do this is to hand your worries/concerns to God or the Angels or Allah or the Universe or whatever. Hand them over and then hold your energy in the now.

Choose every day to be joyful, happy and positive. We choose our emotions. Learn to regularly take your emotional temperature. How am I feeling? If you are in some negative mood, make a conscious effort to bring your focus back to all that is good and positive. And smile a lot!

Remember that life is mainly a bit of a laugh. All of us have traumatic events in our lives, but never lose your sense of humour. See the ridiculous as often as you can. Live life lightly.

So yes, life is about chasing your dreams, fulfilling your wishes and ‘a daring adventure’. Perhaps some of the points I have raised might help a little along the way.

What say you?

Living your best life…. 1

I am sure that all of us want to live our best life. We only get one shot at this particular existence and so we owe it to ourselves and to those with whom we share our life to ensure it is the very best version we can make it.

But what does living our best life really mean?

Well, I don’t know for sure. I presume that it means different things to different people. Have you thought about it? What would you consider be living your best life?

Perhaps to help you to guage your response, you could imagine you are the end of your life… and this could be tomorrow, rather than when you are aged 100 or so.
So if tomorrow you realised that you had not too long left in this life, how do you think you would be remembered? And is that how you would like to be remembered?

As you look back over your life (so far) what are the moments that shine forth for you?

If you only had a little time left, have you done all you would like to? Have you made peace with all those you let go? Do those around you whom you love, know you love them?

What is your best life? What are the things that make it your best life?

I would really like to know what you feel about this? Leave me a comment and maybe we will take this further…..

The Butterfly. Symbol of transformation… he has to ensure he lives his best life as he only has a day to do so!

ALL IS WELL

Welcome to Autumn! Yep, old lore has it that 1st of August is actually the first of autumn. And the 1st of August is also the pagan festival of Lughnasa which is the first harvest festival, celebrating the end of the growing season.

But we are clearly not ready for autumn yet. The kids still have another month off school and we still have hope in our hearts that the sun will return during this month to allow us some more time to dine in the garden and bathe our bones in the heat.

However, as we turn into the month of August, we are aware of the shortening of the days. Evening comes just a little earlier each day and we are reminded that, like it or not, we are sliding into autumn.

But there is something immensely comforting in the relentless turning of the Wheel of the Year. No matter what is going on in your life, the Earth continues her journey through the seasons, just as she has done forever. And that is reassuring. Earth’s whisper is always the same. – “all is well”.

So take that thought with you – all is well. And allow the heart beat of Mother Nature calm and soothe you.

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Pic : Simba is watching out for autumn!
His rather worried expression is because he has actually managed to get himself locked out in the front garden again. Due to his rather wide girth, Simba is no sprinter and has given up climbing trees. So if a local dog should come along he might be in some trouble. So he gets on the bench and (wearing this worried expression) stares into the hall until someone sees him and opens the door!

What 5 things would you hate to have to live without?

What are the things in your life that you really could not bear to be without? What are the little pleasures that you indulge in regularly? The things that make your day or week complete. Kids and partners/family don’t count. But list just 5!

Here are mine (in no particular order).

Red Wine – have I a problem? Don’t think so, but am big enough to admit that as the week rolls on and as Thursday and Friday afternoon heads towards 5pm, I like nothing better than the pop sound of the cork being wrenched out of the bottle, followed by the glug, glug of the red nectar splashing into a suitably large glass!! And the first sip of red wine.. mmm.. What time is it?

Books – what’s to explain? I always have at least one novel on the go and possibly have another one for dipping in and out of being read also. I get very antsy if I don’t have another 3 or 4 lined up waiting for my attention.

Baths – really cannot understand how some people get rid of their baths in order to make way some huge, fancy, jets coming from all angles shower. Showers are OK for waking you up and revitalising you. But for relaxation and the sensual pleasure of sinking your weary bones into warm, perfumed, bubbly water – YOU HAVE TO HAVE A BATH. Most of my days finish with a lovely, lazy soak…

Cats – As regular readers of my blog will know I have a dog I adore and who adores me. But I also have 4 cats who treat me with differing attitudes but none of whom adore me. All like (and probably love) me, but they balance their affection with occasional sympathy (like they know it all and I am more than a little daft), contempt (try moving a cat off your place on the sofa) and sometimes they just like to ignore me – no doubt ‘cos they think that I am getting ideas above my station. Even though I spend my life getting rid of cat hairs from everywhere, I love the way my four cats decorate various corners of my home and garden. And cats always know how to look terrific!

Chinese Take Out – I can’t wax lyrical about Chinese food cos I know it’s full of msg and stuff that makes you fall asleep about an hour after eating it! But Friday nights in front of the telly in my PJs (having had an early bath), book at the ready in case the telly is crap, cat beside me (and hubby beside cat!), glass of wine in hand is complete when the ‘chinky’ arrives!

M&S €12.50 dinners for two are a newcomer to my list and may replace the Chinese in time.

Anyway there are mine! Now what are yours?

Oh… and the classy photo is by that hot shot Sherwood guy again…. check out http://www.sherwood.ie

Village Ceili

Cabinteely Crossroads Ceili is always a bit of craic and a great chance to catch up with neighbours and friends.

Last night we gathered at the Horse and Hound Pub and enjoyed the music, the mad Irish jigging about on the road, a few jars (drinks) and plenty of craic and chat.

We left the pub about ten pm and walked home in the rain.. Mia losing her flip flops every few steps – so it was a long enough walk. Tired and wet we ran baths and ordered chinese food which we ate in our pj’s. I think we all (adults and kids) headed to bed about 2am! A proper Irish party!

OOPS….. forgot to mention… wonderful photos by some hot shot photographer called Paul Sherwood…. see my favourite websites!

Spiritual Scones

The other day I twittered that I have been neglecting my spiritual self. Twitter can be a very useful tool to excavate, very quickly, just how you are feeling, particularly if you are very spontaneous in your tweeting.

So how do I know that I have neglected my spiritual side – other than my recognition of the fact that some of my normal practices have fallen by the wayside over the last few weeks. Is this due to the unstructured days of summer holidays, unfettered by routines and school timetables? Possibly. But I just feel somewhat at sea with myself. A bit lost and very ungrounded.

My inner self, my deepest self, my god self, needs quiet time each day in which to reassure my other selves (physical, emotional and psychological) that all is well. My deepest self is what communicates with God, with all that is, with the Universe and with life itself. My spirit or deepest self, is what enables me to keep everything in perspective. My deepest self is always calm, always happy and always serene. And so if I ignore my spirit, I lose all perspective on life. Instead of seeing the big picture and being able to discern what is important and (more importantly) what is not in life, I get bogged down in the nonsense.

Having a spiritual dimension to one’s life is not something that is automatic, no matter how practiced one is. Lessons I have learned over the last seven years or so of my personal journey can be so easily forgotten. But at least now, I can recognise the symptoms of my own, albeit unintentional, spiritual apathy. Being ungrounded is one of the main ones and leaves me feeling unconnected to life. I feel out of synch somehow.

So at the first recognition of spiritual lack, I ground myself by doing something creative. And so I baked scones. My spiritual scones! I will also make time to pray and to meditate. My favourite affirmations will also help me to facilitate an immediate change of gear. ‘All is in divine and perfect order’, ‘Thank you God/Universe for blessings already on their way to me (and thanks Susannah for reminding me of that one!).

And already I begin to feel better. Feel more me. Feel more relaxed. More trusting that this world we live in, is just full of abundance and miracles. I have reminded myself to look out for them. And to remember the attitude of gratitude! Thank you God and so it is!

NEWS FLASH

I was very thrilled and flattered to have been asked to ‘Guest Blog’ on one of my favourite blogs – ‘Writer on the way Home’ – a blog written by Niamh Griffin. Niamh spent many years living abroad and so her blog is all about moving to Ireland – whether you are returning to your homeland or making a new home here. It’s usually great reading and often gives us another way look at ourselves in Ireland.

Anyway, my post ‘GAA is the way to go’ has just appeared. Check it out at www.writeronthewayhome.blogspot.com.

We’re Back!

So, then what to tell you?

England was full of….

Hot sunshine (30 last week – thank God for air conditioning in the car).
Flowers, flowers, flowers.
Pretty villages with cricket greens and sagging ancient houses.

Red bricked pubs with great food and peculiar names (we owe our girls a trip to one called The Donkey which himself insists has a resident donkey!)

A wonderful B&B in the pretty village of Lower Langford near Bath with the quintessential English country garden which was bursting with flowers and heavy with fruit! A piece of Heaven.

Miles and miles of motorways and uniform service areas (“did we not stop here a few hours ago?”)

Friends we had not seen for over a year and a happy gathering in the pub garden.

Grandad’s 70th Birthday and another family gathering in the pub!

Warm ale – he loves it. I don’t really get it!

Ducks – our cabin was near a lake and we woke up most mornings to Dylan (da dog) having a bit of a fit as some ducks quacked along outside!

Not very many King Charles Spaniels – although apparently they are the only breed of dog with the freedom of any pub in England, that they should wish to frequent! Courtesy of course of King Charles. We didn’t test the theory!
Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest and men on horseback in funny costumes – we were staying a mile away from the film set of the latest incarnation of Mr Hood played by Russell Crowe!

A trip to Bath – after many failed previous attempts. Elegant and proud.

A trip to Oxford – loved it! Buzzy energy but not enough time to explore as much as I would have liked.

A visit to the gorgeous village of Cropredy – inspired by Journeys Close To Home (see my blogroll!).
It was busy and funny and tiring and great! And so easy to pack up the car and jump onto the ferry (dog and all). Not sure why more Irish don’t head to England for a holiday. It’s good value now too!

OFF AIR

I have so much to write about and no time at the moment to do so. I was without broadband for 4 days and nearly lost the plot altogether. That’s a bit worrying? Need to work that out. It was like losing my mobile… I felt bereft!
And I really am bereft about the death of Michael Jackson. To my generation, Jackson wrote the soundtrack of so much of our formative years. From collecting his poster in ‘Jackie’ (when he was a kid and with the Jackson 5) to being blown away by the video to Thriller, I didn’t realise how much affection I had for him and his amazing creativity and talent until I heard he had died. And with the stories coming out now about the state of his health…. well I am very shocked. May his music live forever!

Anyway…. this post is really to say that I will be off air again for a week, as we are making the annual ‘pilgrimage’ across the water to the UK to visit with my husbands family and friends. And with the weather being as it is at the moment I am relishing the prospect!

No doubt I will have somethings to write about on my return!

In the meantime …. put on a bit of Michael Jackson and boogie into July!
“I’ll be back”

Some pics of two of my cats to cheer the post up! Simba (above) doesn’t do the boogie… his belly gets in the way! Kitty on the other hand knows she is a pretty kitty and poses on the windscreen in the sun!

SUMMER SOLSTICE 21/22 June 2009

And so we have reached one of the two turning points of the natural year.
The Summer Solstice.
Longest day.
High Summer.

I am pretty sure that in a previous life I was a witch or a Pagan Priestess as the Solstices (and indeed Halloween) in particular resonate with some very deep place within my soul.

I am greatly comforted by the reminder of the turning of The Wheel of the Year.
A marker in time that at Summer Solstice reminds us of all we have to celebrate and to be grateful for.

Nature is at its busiest.
Flowers in full bloom.
Vegetables growing and ripening.
The sun reaching it’s zenith.

The Summer Solstice reminds us to take this time to enjoy all of nature in its abundance.
And to be grateful for all the bounty that Mother Earth provides for us!

And so today make sure you in some small way, capture the spirit of this magical day.
Dance
Sing
Run wildly through the garden
Smile
And then give a big, loud exuberant thanks for all that is given to you.

Enjoy, Enjoy….

Photos of Dylan getting into the wild and exuberant spirit of the Summer Solstice by practicing his newest trick!!!

Rainy Monday

Monday afternoon.

Almost midsummer.
The Solstice waits in the wings of the approaching weekend.
I sit by the open patio door.
Cat is curled up on his chair beside mine.
The smell of the rain drifts in from the garden.
Bringing with it the plop, plop of rain drops falling on the sun umbrella.
Patio stones coloured dark brown in the downpour.
Contrasting with the vividness of the greens of the grass, shrubs and bushes.
The intensity of the rain increases,
smacking hard against the table, the ground.
Fat blobs falling from the tree.
Light is softened.
Temperature drops.
No birdsong.
I close the door against the chilled air.
The sound of the rain now muffled.

The cat stirs and then re-settles himself.
I wonder how long it will take the chairs to dry out.