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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sneak peek

I can hardly believe how this has happened! Suddenly I’m walking around town and there’s Christmas lights everywhere and the shops are full of festivities and every child I hear speaking, is talking about what Santa will be bringing them. Wow! This really is speaking of something I never saw coming. How unplanned this is - but then again, I had no plans to start with.

4 whole months ago I came back to Ireland, I got off a Ryan Air flight, and I’ll never forget the feeling of Irish summer air that hit me - with the clouds sitting so snugly on the terminal building. My Mam asked: “So Niamh, how long do we have you for… A week?” I was afraid to answer, because I didn’t have a clue. Mam was putting as little pressure on me as possible, so as to still give me the freedom to stay or to move, without the guilt of visiting either too short or too long. Nobody here at home had any expectations, neither did I - and this “common ground” in family relations is such a precious thing to have…

Anyhow, the season that I was initially reluctant to experience here in Ireland this year, has suddenly started. And it’s been the thing that’s forced me to make a decision for the first time in ages. Up until 2 weeks ago, I kept on flowing and had no plans. Even though I was constantly eager to move, so I could focus on travel, as well as eager to ground myself, so I could focus on writing. Such a contradiction was going, because I was so afraid I’d loose my passion for travel by totally giving way to something I’ve been wanting to do for the past year and half. And by possibly hitting the road I was afraid I’d loose my passion for writing something more than this blog contains. Either way, one thing has been happening and I’ve managed to ground myself in the process that is now ongoing. And I can honestly say, there’s no stopping me now!

Getting slightly sidetracked… Christmas…: to be or not to be? I had to make some sort of a decision 2 weeks ago - at least for as far as the next 6 weeks are concerned. It felt like such a big one though! I’d been pushing the decision away and didn’t want to think about it. But time stands still for nobody and it was approaching! The thoughts of ‘committing’ to staying up until the end of December were making me panic and I felt like a failure for still being here, because I initially was only passing through! I really had a mental block I needed to remove, which was actually easily done once I thought rationally about how far along I was with the writing and about what organizing would be involved, if I really wanted to get myself on the road before Christmas. I found myself secretly setting goals that wouldn’t be achievable, even if I worked day and night… This would have meant the love for the work I’m doing would be out the window and my brain would probably have crashed and burnt! And for what? For who? Just to prove that I didn’t want or need to be here for the festive season? Just to prove that I’m still ’travelling’? When rationality hit and I placed both feet on the ground (all for 15 whole minutes) I realized that I can experience Christmas with my precious family, share in the love and see the materialistic values and needs simply as the way in which the world works, whether I like it or not! Because really it’s a special time of year and I don’t need to reject it, just to keep myself distant from values in life that are determined by the amount of money that’s spent, instead of the amount of love that’s shared!

So, yes I’ve decided to stay until after Christmas, and I’m happy to do so. I know in my heart that I can’t let myself move freely or go anywhere until I’ve totally completed this part of my journey (the book). I don’t like to over-emphasize what I’m doing, but it’s happening either way. I reckon by speaking about it so much, I’m making it even more real. Others are encouraging me, which I also use as a positive drive to keep my flow going. Because, yes, the story is unfolding and it excites me so much and the fact that I’m here at this time of year, I can choose to see as an extra bonus. Because I don’t know where I’ll be over the next year. I know so little really. But knowing so little is why life is so exciting and it’s where we can embrace every moment, because we don’t know how long it will last or if it will ever be experienced again. It’s why my everyday is so unique when I sit down to write in the mornings; it’s unknown what will happen on the screen of the computer as my imagination takes me everywhere, just from the chair that sits behind the desk. I just realized: Being grounded here in Ireland - through writing each day - is giving me all the flights and travels I need which will sustain me until this chapter is done! This is truly proof that we can be happy anywhere in the world, as long as we’re doing what we love doing most.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A magical morning - 2

We ended-up continuing along the path I was first reluctant to follow. I was brought to the B&B and introduced to the loveliest bunch of people from Ireland and other parts of the world! They were all really intrigued and wondering where I had sprung from! “Winnie (which is this special ladys’ name) goes for a walk and suddenly she comes back with this girl, who has obviously just gotten up out of bed - judging by how untidily she has her hair tied back into 4 little buns - and is also a local but sounds strangely foreign, how odd!” Anyhow, the group of 20 welcomed me and they were happy for me to sit in with the service they had planned. But first, Winnie and I had time to kill, or actually, the clock was ticking way too fast and we only had an hour to continue this extremely interesting conversation.

Well, never before have I met an African woman who I’ve gotten so closely acquainted with in such a short space of time. Never before have I been offered an insight into the harsh life of crime, injustice, struggle and poverty that is their natural way of African life. Never before has a 5 minute walk on a Sunday morning in late October blown me away so much due to the randomness in meeting such a gentle woman who looks amazing yet seems to have lived 9 lives! Never before have I been asked to write a book on her tales! Which is what she did. Who knows what lies ahead…

The service took place in a sunroom and it was like we were in this huge glass cabinet that hung above a view that was out of this world! But I was only 5 minutes away from home!! These words were constantly screaming in my ears! These people felt so lucky to be staying in such a place……… and I LIVED JUST DOWN THE ROAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, I questioned who exactly was the lucky one. I felt it was me!

I sat and listened to the service. Some of them gave talks on life situations, lessons and growth. A lady from Dublin, a guy from Korea and a lady from South Africa. I related to them but had these fleeting moments of being unable to grasp how I had landed myself in this glass cabinet with 20 people who were so welcoming and open. I was sitting beside a lady who I had only met 2 hours ago, who was so warm and cosy, so wise and yet still questioning her past, her present and her future - she was 20 years my senior and still on a journey to find out what the purpose of her suffering was. Does it ever end? Will we forever be searching for our faith and questioning our beliefs with every circumstance life presents us with? A question that has answers without end..

So there I was, in Arklow, my hometown. I was looking out over the Irish sea, the bright blue sky, the green hills, the cows in the field, the heat of the sun coming through the glass ceiling. I was surrounded by people who didn’t question my faith, who didn’t judge my beliefs, who didn’t preach me to take on theirs. I couldn’t help but question religion, beliefs, Christianity, spirituality, diversity, unity, journey‘s of life.. And so many others things. Did I agree with everything I heard? No I didn’t. Did I feel like a hypocrite for being there even though I don’t believe? No, which I actually thought I would. Did I feel out of place? No, because I didn’t even feel to experiencing this, it was too random! And so, when you don’t feel to be in a certain place, you don’t feel to “out of a certain place” either!

What a morning this turned out to be! It was 1pm by the time the service ended. Winnie brought me back to that spot where she had so magically appeared out of the shadows. We wandered that same path again. She said she approached me because I too seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. This was a meeting that happened for some strange reason. And I was already becoming aware of them. Just on my doorstep here in Ireland, there lies so much magic. Do we have to go the ends of the earth to find that magic and to have such experiences? Some people wander their whole lives and this whole earth, in search of just such moments that will offer a spark to brighten their days. And, I was offered it without straying more than 5 minutes from my desk on a bright Sunday morning in Arklow. On your doorstep there can be just as much magic as there can be anywhere in the world. All you need to do is open your eyes, open your front door and become aware.. Because it really is all there!

A magical morning - 1

The morning on which this random meeting took place, was last Sunday the 24th of October. I got up bright and early, full of the joys of Spring, even though it’s the middle of Autumn. But it didn’t look like Autumn when I was gazing out the bedroom window as I sat down to start writing. Spring was in the air and also in my step and I had to let it bounce! The weather was way too nice, so I set-off for a short walk before diving into the writing and I left everyone sleeping. The whole house was having a lie-in, taking advantage of Cian - our bundle of joy and energy in the body of a 1 year old young man - who was acting the role of sleeping beauty!

I walked along this path leading away from the town. It’s a country-road I’ve been down many times before. I like to call it my “playground”. It’s got the most amazing views on a clear day and I always feel to be somewhere else, other than Arklow. This time I followed a path that was leading off the country-road. Usually I’d never head down that particular road, because I figured it was private property. But it’s actually just for everyone to walk along! Yay!

I was so happy. It was cold but it was such a bright morning at the same time and I was high on life! I had literally taken a “leave of absence” from this life here, and I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.. following the yellow brick road in search of something but I had no clue of what! The difference between my road and Dororthys’, was that this one wasn’t yellow; just plane tarmac! It was winding, twisting and I hadn’t a clue where it would lead me. I didn’t care and I was hopping, skipping, running and jumping in the magic of the moment. I even ventured through fields, climbed over fences, dodged nettles and bushes and ran with my skirt, cardigan, scarf and boots.. Then I felt the “wolly” in me was happy to get back home and start work! A wolly is what others would’ve called me, if they’d witnessed my “shenanigans.. especially as the majority of people my age would be lying in bed with a hangover knocking on their bedroom door at that same moment in time!

So I stopped. I stood for a minute, totally out of breath. I hadn’t ran like that in ages! Man, I’m unfit! I gazed back over the fields and the path I’d just ran along. For a moment I wanted to venture onwards and find out where the path would lead. But I kept standing still, gazing. I looked back over my shoulder and suddenly a woman appeared. She just came walking towards me, from that destination unknown! It was the freakiest thing. I didn’t see her coming out of the shadows. She had a scarf on her head and was walking so calmly. I wondered if we’d get to talking. And, of course we did! She casually started a conversation and turned out to be the nicest woman ever! Within a few minutes we’d already made some kind of a connection. I don’t know why I told her the things I did, within only moments of meeting her. And she did the same. It was so interesting. I was yearning to get back home though! The laptop was waiting! The book needed to be written!

But, where had this woman come from? Originally she came from Zimbabwe, but what was she doing here?? The path I wasn’t planning on venturing down, led to a B&B where she was staying for the weekend with a Christian group. Our talk was so interesting and the way we met was even more striking, so it seemed a shame for me to break away. She asked if I wanted to attend a service they had planned at 11am (at this stage it was 9.30). I hesitated for a short moment because my laptop was calling me and I wasn’t too sure how the service and the group would “fit” with me or how I would “fit” with them. For religious reasons that is. I’ve been raised Catholic. But that’s it. I don’t practise the religion and I have my own beliefs. Hestiations. Humm.. What to do? But I figured, this lady is accepting of me. She wants to get to know me and I want to get to know her too. This meeting is too random to let religious beliefs stop me from seeing what’s in store! I was curious to find out more about this special lady from Zimbabwe!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Goal setting

The flow of a book. I’ve questioned how long it would take to complete it. I’ve wondered if I’ve been devoting enough hours to it each day. I’ve set myself target dates. And even wondered if this would benefit the process or not. Setting a goal, will it force the process of creating a book and therefore stop it from flowing? Or will it keep the process unfolding at a nice pace to prevent it from suddenly stopping?

Goal-setting has different effects on everybody. Different things work differently for different people. So how does it urge me along? It’s important to not get fixated on the date by which I want the manuscript complete, just like it's important for me to not fixate on the timeline I have in my head. It’s a work of quality and not quantity. Quality isn’t measured by the amount of hours, days, weeks or months that’s been put into “getting something done”. It’s about the enjoyment experienced throughout and the knowledge that it’s reaching it’s fullest potential, no matter how short or long something takes to bring it into the world. And then the question arises: who determines what’s short and what’s long? Only the person who has set the goal; which is also the only one applying some pressure.

Pressure applied to get it done. Why? Because the surrounding world is always in need of someone to experience it, wholeheartedly so she jump around it, bounce on it and set alight a fire on earth by using the already lighting fire that’s burning within her heart. And then, to once again, get to a place where the "world of the book" can be created, by what’s been learnt and experienced in the surrounding world. This is the sole reason for that healthy application of pressure, just on certain points, to keep the energy flowing. It’s almost like acupuncture! A steady flow of energy created by applying needles on certain pressure points to then bring balance into the body leading to better general health. It’s just vital that the right points are found and the sufficient pressure is applied. Then the results will benefit not only that one body, but all those who are open to what the outcome has to offer.

In terms of writing, I’m applying the desired pressure, I’m re-creating balance where needs be, which is making me feel motivated and trusting that this process is working as it should and will take the directions it’s meant to take, leading me to places even I’m not yet aware of.