WRITING IN THE CHAOS

One of my new year’s resolutions this year, was to concentrate more on my writing. And as I was announcing this at home, I also bemoaned the fact that I do not have a dedicated writing space. I have since spent many house imagining exactly what kind of ‘writing space’ I would like to have.

Would I be happiest with a garden room? A posh shed as it were, located at the bottom of the garden with a view of the house but a walk across the grass to separate me from the hustle and bustle. I like the idea of being under a tree, beside my buddleia bush, working a little bit closer to nature. I dream of how I would furnish this wooden cabin in simple but cosy style. I would like to be able to use the space to meditate too. It would be my own personal oasis. But I am a bit put off by having to traipse over the grass on rainy days or late in the evening in order to commit my thoughts to laptop.

Then I think that maybe a room within the house, from a comfort point of view, would be better. It would be warmer in winter and I wouldn’t have to risk getting wet when on my way to write! As most of my writing is done in the morning when the house is quiet I would prefer a room in the front of the house which faces east and catches the morning sun. But unless I evict my photographer husband from his office there really is no other option at the front of the house.

The final option would be to convert the attic into a space for my writing. The idea of being at the top of the house, under a velux window which will provide me with a view of the every changing sky is appealing. But to convert our attic would be a big job and not one that is possible at the moment.

So here I am, in my usual spot, tapping these words into my laptop, sitting at the breakfast bar just off the kitchen. I have now almost trained my mind not to notice the noise or the mess in my immediate area. As I type this, the kids are playing ball with ‘Dylan da Dog’ who has the most awful yappy bark when he is excited.

The best thing about this spot, is that I am under a velux window. When it is raining (a lot of the time), the sound of the rain on the roof window puts me very much in touch with the weather. But even better than that, is the fact the Mrs and Mrs Starling have again nested in the eves directly above my velux and so I can keep an eye on their very busy comings and goings. And when it’s not raining (occasionally) I can hear the insistent cries of their newly hatched little ones. Sure how much closer to nature could I get – unless I could join them in their nest!

Somehow I think this fairly chaotic spot is probably perfect for me! Although I still aspire to a proper writer’s den, quiet and peaceful!

Where do you write or blog?

Photo of Starling by Foxypar4

WELL… HELLO… BLOG

STOP PRESS…

I am really delighted to be now blogging for Hello Magazine’s website. So if you like reading my ramblings and musings and have a passing interest in the going’s on of celebrities, check out the Hello Magazine website – which I have naturally added to my list of favourite websites!

My Hello Blog is called ‘A View from the ‘Burbs’. Check it out and let me know what you think? And does anyone else feel the same about Marco Pierre White? And before you say anything I do think that the Alan Sugar thing was the result of eating too late at night!

So check out the Hello Magazine website, click the celebs link and follow to ‘A View to the Burbs’.

Move over Soccer Mom – Here Comes a GAA Ma

Almost nine years ago, my youngest daughter Mia was born. I remember well a conversation I had with a nurse in the hospital who enquired as to how many children I now had. “3” I replied, “all girls.” “Oh”, she said, wondering if I was sad I did not have a son. “I always just wanted girls, “ I explained, “probably something to do with growing up with 3 brothers.” I was truly delighted with myself and remember remarking to her that at least I would not have to stand on the side lines of football matches and deal with mucky boots and kit. Boy – how wrong can you be.

Middle daughter, Roisin is a member of her local GAA football team. Up till about 2 years ago, I knew nothing about GAA. Growing up in suburban Dublin, I assumed that GAA was something that people from the country got involved in! Sure wasn’t Croke Park full of culchies, was my attitude. Mmmm. Well I can now say that I am a total convert to GAA even though I still have only the most tenuous of grips on the rules of the game and still can’t work out the scoring system.

But every week during the season I am at Roisin’s match. In the beginning it was just another chore. Now, I hate not going. I stand on the side line and do a great ‘embarrassing mom’ routine, shouting instructions and encouragement to all and sundry. And it’s fine.

There is great excitement at these matches – I really can’t imagine an All Ireland Final being any more thrilling. But beyond that, there is a great sense of camaraderie among the families involved. There is a sense of belonging and of pride in our local community. And I am sure a lot of this comes from the amazing people who train and organise the kids in local clubs all over the country.

So as they celebrate their 125th anniversary, I am proud to say that I am a keen supporter of our local girls GAA team. I think that makes me a GAA Ma. And I love it!

Music in the Mountains

We had a wonderfully musical Sunday last weekend, thanks to our youngest daughter, Mia. Mia plays with Cumann Naomh Brid Music Group and they had their annual ‘Ceol agus Stroll’ day in Avondale House in Co Wicklow. The day began with Mass in our Parish Church of Cabinteely. The group added a very celtic feel to the ritual with their spirited playing. A lament played on the Uillean Pipes was very moving.

We then adjourned to the magnificent surroundings of the Avondale Estate in Rathdrum, in Co Wicklow for lunch, which was followed by a seisiun! It was great fun! And we were all very proud of Mia… particularly her Grandmother, who had long waited for someone in the family to be musical! She finally got her wish!

Bollywood At My Door

I have missed the opportunity to get a photo of this… but outside my front door is a dark pink cherry blossom tree which has been at the height of it’s beauty for the last couple of weeks! As it’s beauty fades, it is showering the garden in pink petals. My car space is directly under this magnificent tree and so for the last number of mornings I find my car festooned in pink blossoms. As I drive up the road, the pink petals take to the air, leaving a trail in my wake.

It is so pretty. My car looks like a prop from a Bollywood Movie! I love it!

SUMMER EVENING (for Paul)


Summer Evening
The autumn of the day
Light dimming
Earth doused in soft orange light
Work done
Dinner over
Maybe a walk?
Or time in the garden?
Pace slows
A chance to savour the final hours
A glass of wine
Gently, gently
Day is closing
Night waits in the wings
When darkness shall enfold our planet
Like a duvet pulled up against the chill
Stars, hidden in the light
Twinkle as they revel in the blackened sky
Moon rises
Sleep now
Summer night…

Simple Pleasures

When life is getting you down or you are just have a bad day try this to lift your mood. Take 10 or 15 minutes to list the simple things that make you smile, things that lift your spirits.

Make a list just some of the simple pleasures of your life. Here are some of mine……

The sparkly, jewel encrusted pen with which I write.

A warm fragrant bubble bath before bed.

The first sip of a glass of ruby red wine, preferably taken at a winter fireside or in the heat of the land of it’s origin.

Coming home to find my cats all curled up and content in various corners of the house.

The silence that slowly envelopes the house, as humans and animals take to sleep.

Fresh bed linen.

A walk in the rain

Watching the birds feed from the freeders hanging from the tree just outside the window.

The smell of baking.

The taste of chocolate cake about 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven.

The comfort of knowing that everyone is in on a stormy winter night.

The chatter of family conversation over Sunday roast.

Seeing a washing line full of washing on a bright and breezy day.

Coming across a squirrel while on a walk in the park.

A warm sunny summer afternoon spent reading in the garden.

Our postmen – who seem to always be cheerful.

Going for a walk and realising that Ireland is still a country where strangers often smile and say hello as they pass by.

Fridays – no homework, no cooking and no school lunches till Monday.

Coffee and a scone at the kitchen table, while reading the paper, having completed the weekly marathon of grocery shopping.

How beautiful my garden looks on a frosty bright winter morning.

A sunrise walk on Dun Laoghaire Pier.

Listening to my kids deep in childish conversation, oblivious to my presence.

These are some of my simple things, simple pleasures. Most cost nothing. All that is required is making some time to stop and think about what makes life so beautiful. And the more you think, the more you realise that it is not the big shiny things but the little things that happen every day… these are the things that make life beautiful. Grab a pen and begin your list. And the miracle is that once you train yourself to look for these golden moments, you will find that they will multiply. So revisit your list often and add to it.

And on a down day, take out your list and have a read. You will feel much the better for it!! I promise.

Magic in the Kingdom

OK.. so what is it about Kerry?

As soon as those amazing mountains appeared on the horizon I was aware of a change in the energy. Kerry has a mystical and magical air about it that I have not experienced in any other part of Ireland. Perhaps that is why they call it not a county but a Kingdom!

The people of Kerry also seem to be infected with the same majesty, which manifests in their quiet confidence, their openness and their air of calm; something which I particularly enjoyed in the current climate and especially during the week of our mini budget! Where else but in the Kingdom of Kerry would a dolphin choose a solitary life engaging with locals and tourists alike?

This is the land of St Brendan, a man who clearly dreamed big dreams and then made them happen – against all odds. This is also the county that gave us Tom Crean – another explorer whose quiet confidence played no small part in the amazing story of the Endurance Expedition in the Antarctic. To have lunch in his pub, The South Pole Inn in Anascaul was one of the highlights of our week. And in Ballinskelligs we learn of the lives of the monks who carved, quite literally, a life on their rocky outpost on Skellig Michael, 8 kilometres out in the Atlantic, almost 1.500 years ago. The fact that these monks not only survived but built an Oratory and their famous bee hive huts on such an unforgiving island is again testament to the Kerry spirit.

And so it was with regret that we headed north and back to Dublin, having basked for a week in the amazing scenery and spirit and energy, in what used to be known as the edge of the world. Kerry people know that they have something special. Something unique. They inhabit a Kingdom. A Kingdom full of magic and mystical possibilities. Kerry is good for the soul. I can’t wait to return!

Dreaming of Ballinskelligs

My constant urge to get out of the ‘burbs’ and into the countryside became too much for me the other day. And so having spent a couple of hours online, I found what I am hoping will be a fine cottage to rent (very reasonably) in Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry for next week.

I am dreaming of walks on the beach with Dylan and the girls. Lazy mornings. Bird song. The wild energy of the Atlantic. The echoes of the ancient monks who inhabited the Skellig Rocks. Pen and paper writing – no broadband! Making some inroads into the huge pile of ‘to be read’ books. Time to think. Lambs in the fields – still waiting to see some of them ‘gambling’! And conversations with people whose way of talking is both musical and magical.

We might drive up to see fungi, the Dingle Dolphin. We are also hoping to make a pilgrimage to the South Pole Inn in Annascaul as the girls have both read the Micheal Smith (childrens edition) book on Tom Crean and are as captivated by the story as I was!

God – if you are listening or reading this – can you please put a bit of a hold on typical Kerry weather. I am not really looking for any ‘soft days’. Bright skies and sunshine would be perfect.
I will let you know!!!

It is a beautiful, bright and very breezy day here in Dublin. Washing flying around on the line and daffodils bravely trying to keep their heads on, as they get buffeted by the wind. Kitty thinks a bit too windy for the garden and so has found a cosy place from which she can look out without risking getting chilled!!!
My garden is crying out for some Spring time attention. This year, one of my resolutions was to begin a very modest vegetable patch. Time is ‘marching’ on and I still have not ventured out to really get my hands dirty. If the temperature would rise just a bit I might find it a bit easier!

Gardening is one of those things, that I find really hard to get started but once I do, I relish the experience and get a huge amount of satisfaction from my efforts. Gardening is also good for the soul, as it is very grounding and re-establishes our connection with this beautiful planet. Grounding comes from being totally in the moment. When weeding and planting, our attention is on the task in hand and is generally not wandering into plans for next week or worry about events that happened yesterday or last week. Connected to Mother Earth and being totally in the moment is what gardening is all about!

Baking can have the same effect.. so maybe until the cold wind blows away with itself, I will grab the mixing bowl and make an apple sponge, which I can enjoy with a cuppa later!

I will work off the effects of such indulgence in the garden next week!

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and you know, sometimes this recession just provides us with unique opportunities and experiences and, dare I say it, joy!!!

I decided that, being the day it was, that I could choose what we (family) were going to do! In keeping with budgetary restraints I had issued an edict that husband was not to buy me little gifts from the girls. Their handmade cards were enough. But I did reserve the right to decide how we spent the day. And good ole God was working with me by providing us with mild and sunny weather. And so himself was dispatched to Dunnes to get some fresh bread rolls, I hard boiled eggs and a picnic was prepared. A small bit of research on the web before we left, uncovered a walk in Tinahealy (Co Wicklow) called the Railway Walk.

And so we passed most of the day on this beautiful and clearly little known walk, along the River Derry in South West Wicklow. The air was full of bird song and sheep bleating and the sound of the river. At the end of the walk we were at the entrance of Tomnafinnoge Woods and so carried on walking for another 2kms or so through one of the few remaining remnants of ancient Oak Wood in Ireland. The energy as we walked along a carpet of dead leaves, through dappled sunshine among these ancient trees was truly beautiful.

The dog splashed about in the river, the kids played pooh sticks from a wooden bridge and it was a simply magical day out. As we made our way back to the car, with tired legs, we thought we would treat ourselves to coffee in a gorgeous coffee shop in Aughrim. Totally cost of day out about €20.00

In the past we have rounded up for a mother’s day lunch or dinner out in a packed restaurant which was usually pretty expensive and fairly devoid of magic!

Today all was simply serene and uplifting and joyful! Great.

So – my previous post describes how I uncovered a huge affinity to my Wiccan sisters. So the next step was to open an account with Amazon.com and begin to buy everything I could find on ‘The Craft’. Much of what I read spoke deeply to my soul. I loved the lack of rules, the lack of hierarchy. I loved the feminine essence of this religion. I still have huge respect for the craft and still feel a lot of that connection. But somehow going sky clad and making potions and spells didn’t quite sit with me. And so having educated myself fairly well on the old ways, I took back to the road again. The road to find myself and to inner peace… and as walked, I could hear some giggling in the heavens. God really thinks it’s funny when I get lost and confused!

Then daughter number three arrived… 6 weeks early and with little warning. She was a very lardy 8lbs 12ozs which I assumed was great for her. But, apparently not. She was a very sick little baby for the first two weeks of her life. The experience shook me to my core. The thought that I might lose my little baby shone a very bright spotlight on my life. As I made deals with God (she had stopped laughing by the way), I promised to give up work in order to be at home with my little ones, regardless of what sacrifices I might have to make along the way. I held in my heart and in my head the vision of me and him along with our other daughters in our lounge at home with our new baby in her moses basket in the corner. I held tight to this vision and willed it into being. And two weeks after her traumatic arrival I took her home. And as we all sat in the lounge that evening I thanked God for the normality and simplicity of it all! I think God was smiling, a big beamy smile!

And so the journey that began in earnest with the arrival of daughter number two on Halloween in 1998, took a massive leap forward in late 2000 as youngest daughter settled into life at home. I finally fulfilled the promise I made to God in the hospital and retired from the world of paid work in late 2001 and took up my position as stay at home mum and home maker and general dogsbody without pay or status! Initially me and him planned that this would be just for a year. I was sure that by then, I would be champing at the bit to get back into the world of paid work.

Boy – was I ever wrong?

I know that God laughs. I have heard her. I provide her with great entertainment on a very regular basis. It is not really that I am a born comedian, although I have at times, managed to entertain friends with stories that have reduced them to tearful mirth. No God prefers her comedy to be more subtle. Not that I am subtle either. Far from it. But for the last 8 years or so, I have been attempting to find myself and nirvana and inner peace. I have had some success… but I have crashed and burned many, many times. And this is when I hear God laugh. Big loud guffaws from heaven.

My journey towards my original goal of inner peace, more or less began when I gave birth to my middle daughter. She was born on Halloween (which was always one of my very favourite times of year) 31st October 1998. By complete accident I managed to have a natural childbirth and thank God, she was a healthy specimen. All was well in the world. Oldest daughter was delighted with her new sibling and me and him were well pleased too. Without the drugs to take the edge off reality, the post delivery elation was very keenly felt. I was not just clever, I was the co creator with God of new life. (OK so I know my husband had some input too… but male input is not exactly in the miracle realm is it?). It was then, in the immediate aftermath of this wonderful experience of delivery and birth, that I knew that God was not a male God. How could God be male when it is we women who give birth. Oh no.. I knew without one shadow of a doubt that God certainly had a female face.

This was a major revelation. God as a woman made it much easier for me, a woman, to identify with her. The old school idea of God, as I was taught in good repressed Catholic Ireland of the 60’s and 70’s, was of a grandfather figure who was prone to getting pretty cross about stuff and from whom I had to constantly seek forgiveness.

No siree…this new God who visited me after Roisin was born was far more to my liking.
So having discovered that God was not some old grumpy guy in heaven but in fact a universal mother, as well as a father, was a great relevation for me. Suddenly God became much more real. And she became much more connected to creation. (I will refer to God a she because this is how I ‘see’ her. I don’t think that God is either male or female but rather has all the best qualities of both.)

Up until this point I was a relaxed (not quite lapsed – but fairly lax) Catholic. Sure I wasn’t happy about all the scandals etc. that were beginning to rock the church at this time. In Ireland we had bishops exposed as having fathers and ‘charismatic’ priests whose charisma knew no bounds certainly where celibacy was concerned! Things got a lot worse some time later with child abuse scandals. So I felt very disconnected from the church into which I had been baptized. What to do?

During my maternity leave I spent a lot of time in bookshops and one day a book, quite literally fell onto the floor at my feet. It was written by Laurie Cabot, well known American White Witch.

I had my ‘Eureka’ moment…. I WAS A WITCH. A wise woman. Connected to Mother Earth and all of nature. I must have been a witch in a past life. It all made perfect sense. I love ritual. I love rites of passage. I was Barbara, White Witch, Wiccan Priestess, Wise Woman.

Perfect….. or was it? Who knows?

Over the coming weeks, months or years I want to use this blog to weave tales of my journey. I sometimes go forwards, making great leaps of understanding and in the process healing elements of myself that needed sorting (even though sometimes I was not aware that I had a ‘problem’). And then I go backwards… or into the cave as my beloved teacher would say. And I sit in the darkness of the cave trying to work out what’s going on and then pulling myself back out into the light!

It’s all great craic if you keep a sense of balance and more importantly a sense of humour! So check in often. Leave a comment. Share your thoughts, as I attempt to share what I have learned and what has worked for me, along the path to healing!