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THE FREEDOM TO CREATE BRINGS US THE FREEDOM TO LIVE



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

East Coast FM - No more secrets - Interview Concluded

To conclude this interview - please, I know how busy you all are...but this post will truly only 'hit home' if you read the previos 2... by all means take your time, but I'd be forever grateful if you were to read all 3 posts about this interview...

You may wonder; why such difficulties answering this first question? And WHAT WAS THE FIRST QUESTION? Why such a big deal? Isn’t it a topic you’re well-educated on? Isn’t it what the book is based on? Yes…! 1 million words nearly… I’ve written them all… devoted to this topic.

A lot of people know what I’m referring to. And many, who have since entered my life, DON’T… After yesterday, I really feel it’s time to start opening-up and saying what my book is based on. I figure, if it’s to reach the world, then these tiny feelings of shame I have for what I went through in order to create this book, will stop the flow of the book-publishing process. I’m seeing now that it’s THIS feeling of shame, that’s always been stopping me from honestly answering the question many people have asked: “What’s your book about?”

Whenever I’d be asked this question, I’d choke and the words weren’t able the roll off my tongue (just like yesterday during the interview!). I’d simply answer: “this book is about a period in my life, when I experienced some difficulties”. That could mean anything – and to me it meant I was safe and distant and disengaged from the book. But, after a brief encounter I had on Monday afternoon (with a friend of Ma’s who asked me what the book was about), the meaning of this vague response started to change. This response started telling me: “Niamh, you're still holding back that once shameful secret you always felt the need to hide from everyone else, for fear of how they’d judge you”. And relating this to the interview yesterday, I now know why I couldn’t answer!

I have to face facts that I’ve written a book based on an illness that represents shame – in the eye of the beholder – which once was me, but no longer is. I have to face facts that I haven’t done anything wrong by writing this book. It’s something that I needed, wanted and longed to do. And this means, I have to start projecting that feeling of pride towards the world – because, secretly, there’s been some contradiction going on within me.

By taking this step, right here and now, as I’m typing these words and letting those who DON’T know, know about that part of me, I'm stepping away from secrecy. It doesn’t have to be a shameful act and something to hide, that I recovered from an eating disorder, 2 years ago. Yes, there you have it! As simple and easy as that! I’m letting go of the shame that anorexia once made me live through, by letting others know, who have since entered my life, about this part of my past. After all, it’s what’s made me the person I am today. And that holds no shame.

So, it’s out there! Yes, I suffered from anorexia, for nearly 2 years of my life and the book I’ve written is based on my recovery, on what I discovered, on what causes the illness and how I grew to become the person I am today. It’s a story of my soul journey that led me to eventually journey the world.

Wow… Shifting from NOT ONLY WRITING about the eating disorder but to ALSO TALKING ABOUT IT to others, is such a recent development. One that started only yesterday! And this is the reason WHY I COULDN’T ANSWER THAT FIRST QUESTION DURING THE INTERVIEW WITH EASE!

I only listened back to the recording of the interview last night. And of course – I criticized myself. I’m forever my own worst judge. But then I realized: “to give myself a BREAK! It’s the very first time to speak ‘publicly’ about the eating disorder. How can I be flawless at something that’s so new (and so unprepared)? It’s a different level of expression, it’s my voice, it’s not my writing… When live words are spoken, that’s it… they’re gone, there 'out there'. Typed words are reread and edited… and ‘perfected’. Speech can so easily fly off your tongue and there’s no backspace. It’s the lives of others I was trying to enrich, with this seemingly small step I took yesterday. How could I choose the ‘perfect’ words, when it was the first time for me to speak?” and when it comes to sufferers of any eating disorder, there’s no such thing as either speaking or hearing words of perfection”.

I had to focus on how big a step I took yesterday. The words that came from my heart were in aid of inspiration. They were for suffers to feel somewhat hopeful… Also, if the publisher/agent was listening… who knows where it could lead…

Last night, I couldn’t sleep a wink, for thinking of how to start openly and honestly speaking about what my book is based on. Soon the time will come for me to continue speaking about anorexia… For now though, major leaps are being made. Yesterday was the first and today is one that may appear to be less significant, but to me, it’s just as important…

Due to this book, I’m settling myself into the ‘status’ of being recovered and proud of what I’ve since achieved… God, my feelings were 'on the ball', when I knew yesterday was the start of something big!

Thank you so so so much for reading this far.

If you want to listen to the recording of yesterdays’ interview… copy and paste this link: http://www.eastcoast.fm/onair/programmes/morningshow
Then scroll down to "The Morning Show with Declan Meehan, 25th of Jan" and click on 11am hour… and hop to the 47th minute of the show.


Happy listening…

East Coast FM - Continued!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just before you start reading this... It will make soooo much more sense if you read the other piece East Coast FM - Interview!!!!! (which is the previous post... Thank you so so much... ;)

There I am, sitting in the reception area of the radio station. The minutes were passing and my live interview was coming closer. I was having a cup of tea, calming the nerves… And, as I sat there, waiting and anticipating, my mind was wandering. I actually started feeling the same motions as I did, when I was just about to do a Skydive in New Zealand, years ago. Back then, the actual step INTO the plane was a bigger ‘jump’ than actually JUMPING OUT OF THE PLANE IN FREEFALL! Once I’d boarded the dinky plane, I just wanted to dive and experience. Yesterday, the step INTO the studio and coming face to face with the presenter – Declan Mehan - was probably the biggest step. And it actually only took place, all of 20 seconds before I due to speak live on air!!! Talk about being thrown in the deep end! Wow…

Meeting Declan and hearing what his first question would be… with only 10 seconds to prepare my answer… was the biggest JUMP. I could hear the advertisements finishing up, the seconds were racing by, the first question was one that made me freeze… and I hadn’t a clue how to answer it! Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Before I knew what was happening... Declan was speaking down the mic: “We have Niamh Keoghan here in the studio with us today… “ and off we were! Stooopppp!!!!! That first question! I couldn’t answer it! It was a question that was based on the topic of my book! I’d just studied the subject thoroughly for 6 months! Throughout my whole life I’ve written nearly 1 million words devoted to this topic! And, do you think the answer to the simplest question in the world came rolling off my tongue? Hell Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Those first 20 or 30 seconds were torture. I’m sitting there… in silence. It seemed to last for an eternity. There weren’t any words coming from the person who so desperately wanted to speak to the world about her book! What was happening to me? Visions of my mam came to mind. I saw her standing by the radio, coaxing me to open my mouth and just SAY SOMETHING! I then thought… “Oh my god, I’m not going to get through this interview…” I froze… I closed my eyes, and dug deep to find the answer… and it came from a deep place, because off the top of my head, it never would have been such a complicated one! Those first words I spoke will probably haunt me for the rest of my days… BUT BUT BUT… I needed to squeeze out something! And I’m so glad I did… Because then, the ball slowly started rolling, the words slowly started flowing…

Throughout the first minutes, I had to close my eyes, focus on what I was trying to say. I had to block the thoughts of 1000s of ears being hooked up to my voice. I had to keep on track, for my words to make sense. As the minutes ticked by, I became more and more confident. I got to a stage where I was able to open my eyes and meet the eyes of the presenter that were peaking above his computer screen. I didn’t loose the thread of words expressing my own experience and the message I was bringing to the listener. Yes! I was able to look him in the eye, without feeling shame for what I’d been through and I knew I’d done a great job – both with the book and with this very first interview…

Yesterday I walked away, with my head held high and reality hit in, when I wasn’t able to recall the whole event! Haaaaaaaaahhhh… I realized I probably sent myself somewhere ‘high’ just to flow though such an exciting experience.

But I was learning so much. I realized only yesterday that it was the first time in my life to speak so openly to anybody, other than my closest family and Diann, about this topic – the first time and it’s LIVE on the radio… Man, talk about diving into the deep end! It’s just as well I only truly became aware of this fact, AFTER the interview!

Sometimes going at things with such a fast approach actually means we don’t dwell too much on just how ‘big’ or how important or how significant a certain event can be. Because if we do, then there could be a tendency to actually NOT go ahead with that particular event or action, just for fear of what it can bring up. Right… to continue revealing…

This interview brought up so many fears. Yesterday was the first step, in overcoming them. Today is the next. By writing the next post… all will become clear… Please bear with me… haha… I’m getting there!

East Coast FM - Radio Interview!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday afternoon – the 24rd – I received the best email in my inbox… It read: “you are invited to fill a slot tomorrow morning on the local radio station East Coast FM, to talk about your book!" Whooohooooo!!!! Did that email just come falling out of the sky? No, of course not. This is how it came about…

I’ll rewind back to Friday the 14th of Jan. I was meeting up with my Da to have some coffee down town. We’re sitting, having a chat and in walks a friend of his. A woman named Monica. I’d never met her before but we hit it off and soon we were talking about my book. She was so excited for me and said how brilliant it would be if I could get an interview on the local radio, about the book – because you never know who could be out there listening! I got butterflies just at thoughts of sitting in a studio, talking down the mic… I could see it happening… yes! Monica didn’t suggest this interview, to tease me with something that would be impossible for me to experience. No…, her son actually works at that particular radio station! Connections, connections, connections, they can all lead to so many wonderful places!

Anyhow, to cut a long story short. This cup of coffee on the 14th got the ball rolling. She got me the right contact details, I got in touch with the producer of the Morning Show last week, and Monday afternoon they answered, telling me to be at the radio station in Bray (just south of Dublin) the following morning (which was yesterday, Tuesday the 25th) for an interview Live on Air at 11.30!

Wouw! This happened so fast.

I’d initially approached them for publicities sake. I wanted to start telling the world that a book is searching for an agent. And based on this intention I ‘prepared’ in my head what I wanted the 1000s of listeners to hear. However, I’d prepared to ONLY speak about the process of writing and what my aim was…

With the ‘certainty’ that I was as ready for this spontaneous interview as I would ever be, I geared myself up and set-off yesterday morning to the radio centre. It felt to be start of something really big…

I was calming my nerves, keeping myself focussed and trying to be as grateful as possible for this opportunity without thinking too much about what I was actually doing... hummm... wise? I'm not too sure...

So, I walked into the radio station. I met the producer, Claire, only 10 minutes before I was due to go on air. What a great lady she was! I felt so welcome and so at home… even with passing moments of feeling physically sick.

When we were talking, I realized that her expectations from this interview were slightly different to mine. Oops! The fact that I’d approached them with the aim of spreading the word about the manuscript, I'd let myself believe that this was all I was going to talk about. But… assuming and having expectations can backfire, or maybe challenge our ability to be flexible and ‘go with the flow’! I realized they wanted to focus the interview on the story of my own past issues that actually LED ME TO WRITE THE BOOK…

If this isn’t making sense… bear with me for a moment… these few pieces of writing, will be so revealing…

So please keep reading… if you haven’t got time… have a cup of coffee, and come back later! Hahah…. No pressure ;)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Agency Urgency!!!!

Bringing the ‘agent story’ back today, to me, and to what I’m doing, as I prepare for take-off…

2 weeks ago, Diann read it. 3 days later, she let me know that she’d finished it and was blown away by what the book had become. I can’t begin to say how I felt, when I heard her say these words. It was all I wanted IN THE WORLD… for the person who was one of the reasons for me to have been able to write this book in the first place - the one who almost ‘provided’ me with the knowledge that’s within the pages - to say how much she’s in love with my baby, literally brought tears of joy to my eyes (god I seem to be doing a lot of crying these days!!!hahah)…

This was a huge accomplishment and suddenly the doubts as to whether or not my manuscript was accessible, logical, accurate, self-explanatory, different and heartfelt… started fading away and I was more confident that it really IS a story that many people will be able to relate to, on some level or other. She read it as objectively as possible, through her professional eyes and her eyes that have experienced many tales and have read 1000s of books! I knew I could count on her for honest feedback, I wanted to hear true advice about what to change, how to maybe adjust a few chapters, what to work on… But there wasn’t a thing she advised me to change… Wouw, I never expected it and so I couldn’t have asked for a more encouraging response.

Since then, the ‘baby’ has been passed on to a psychiatrist – her sister – who can give me feedback from a professional perspective and last week I handed it over to another person who plays a role in the story and whose approval I need, regarding the mentioning of his name.

I also started contacting the agents, further afield – I have to stretch the thinking further than the 6 Irish based AGENCIES… So, through email, my ‘baby’ is also flying to England and America. God, this book, my baby, my script… is proving to have the travel-bug already, in its youthful life!!! I guess my thinking is; there are no limits anymore and the world is a small place and this baby needs to fall into the hands of the right person, wherever those hands may be!

Everyday I’m doing something that will support this process. My god! The thirst I have, is so hard to quench… - no matter how many liters of green tea I drink - and the eagerness to get connected with the whole world, is one I’ve never before had, to such desperate measures. There are 10 AGENTS who have opened their door, there are 3 who accepted to read the book and there are another 180… to be approached! Wouw…

The time that lapses between them accepting to read the manuscript, finishing it and letting me know if they see the potential, will be the thing to test my patience. But I have to fine with that. As long as I keep putting the word out that there’s a script searching for an AGENT - a baby in search of home - a book in search of a shelf – which is done through more internet research – then the right person will ‘snap it up’. Yes yes yes… So each day, I strive for something to happen, for someone to reply, for some new contact to be saved in my mailbox and for a new idea to pop into my head that will keep this process going! Yes!!! 4 more weeks before I’m let ‘loose’… 4 more weeks before China… And just like the sky is the limit, so are the amount of contacts I can make within the book world… between now and then…

What an excitement…

The chosen route

I once read that it pays to speak as much as possible about what it is we’re aiming for in life. Why? Because that way, it’s acknowledged and the positivity surrounding that particular aim, increases the likelihood of it becoming real. This is my reason for sitting down, to tell all, just how the manuscript/my baby/the script is dealing with the world at the moment. And I’ll answer the question: How is my baby coping with the attention it’s been receiving and what exactly has that attention been?

Well, 2 weeks ago, I started the ball rolling. I delivered the script to Diann – a lady who is my inspiration, my motivation, my teacher almost. She’s someone who plays one of the leading roles in the script and the third person I’ve physically handed the book over to (after my mam and Poolbeg publishers, in December).
This was a huge day for me, the 10th of Jan and handing it over, felt like a massive step. But as soon as my baby had left my hands, I started to feel liberated and I was filled with so much energy and excitement. I suddenly had the answers as to what road to take, so the ball would continue to roll! I knew how I was going to approach this crazy and complex world of books!

So the answers came, on that day, the road opened itself up to me, and everything was suddenly being pushed forward. What added to my eagerness and clarity was the fact that on that very same day, my visa for China came through! This confirmed that time was, and still is, so very precious and I needed to throw myself into the process… I only had 4 more weeks to establish as many connections and contacts as I could, so the script will eventually reach the shelves.

It was a magic day – still the 10th of Jan - and all the research I’d been doing since the start of this amazing new year, was proving to be serving its purpose – so to cut the chase, the road I’ve decided to take is to get myself an AGENT, instead of approaching the publishers myself or trying to self-publish. Yes yes yes!!! I felt, and still feel, so strongly that this is how I have to start.

The job of an AGENT is to approach the publishers FOR me, instead of me approaching them myself. With an AGENT I figure (even though I can never be 100% certain that it will work out this way) I’ll be freer to keep travelling – as they’ll be finding the publisher, they’ll be doing most of the editing, proofreading, marketing, promotion, sales (!!!!)… I know, I know… “Hold your horses there Niamh… Jumpin’ so far ahead of yourself right now!” I can’t help it though, and I reckon the further I jump the more likely I am to move through this process with as much energy as I can…

So, an AGENT is what I want! And since making this decision, I’ve approached... every single one here on this wee little green isle.. In total….6! haaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! This is hardly nothing by the way, because, in comparison, there are 100s in the UK alone!

I feel like I’m applying for a job. To approach them, I’m writing letters of enquiry, letters to introduce myself, letters to explain of my experiences, letters where I’m selling the book almost and summaries of the of story. Every AGENT asks for different explanations, different parts of the script and they all want to be approached differently. Some want to be called and then want to receive the material per post and others want you to send the whole lot, book and all, via email. And guess what… if you send it DIFFERENTLY than their specific requirements… they’ll disregard it and won’t take even a first glance at the script!! So harsh! Having said that, given the 200 manuscripts/babies every AGENT receives a WEEK.. they have to start the process of elimination somewhere…

I’ve realized that getting through the ‘front door’ is the most important step. However, once you’re inside, doesn’t automatically mean they approve of your work. The manuscript itself still hasn’t been read! They still need to agree to read it. And THEN it’s not until they’ve finished reading it (which could take anything from a month to 12 weeks), will they decide whether they accept your work or not. THEN… if and when (hahah…always be positive!!!) you DO get that far, it doesn’t mean to say that you, as an ‘aspiring writer’, choose to work with that particular AGENT, even though they’ve approved and want your book. Why? Because taking on an AGENT is like taking on a contract for life… And for a relationship to potentially go that far, there’s needs to be some form of foundation, bond, connection and “click” between you and the AGENT. I’m only learning that it’s not ONLY about what’s been written.

When an AGENT decides to assign a writer, it’s ALSO about the person. It’s like the book and the writer come as a package and the AGENT needs to see that the writer has the potential and to offer them the work they desire, when looking at the future. So, the writer needs to be promotable as a person and ‘needs’ to be someone who others will be interested in learning about. How would the writer be viewed in the eye of the public? And what future prospects does the writer offer the AGENT …? Because, at the end of the day, it’s the writer who will be earning their income and providing the profits.

It may appear to be so simple; writing a book and getting it on the shelves – especially if you consider the amount of books there are in this whole wide world!!!

I feel like I’m back at school! It’s amazing to learn so much and this procedure is bringing up avenues I never knew existed!
Whooohooooo....!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Precious time

Suddenly it does feel quick, regardless of the fact that I’ve been dreaming, hoping and waiting for it all to fall into place. Because… now that I’ve opening up this part of myself again, the focus is shifting. From getting the book published, to being the teacher again. What a difference, what a change. Last night, I had the first minor panic attack. Or it was more an attack of excitement, determination, eagerness and wonderment for what’s going to happen and how things will unfold – and how abruptly it will all take place! It’s like… Now my baby (my book) needs more attention than ever before – and certain things need to be set in place, before I head to China… Time is ticking and every single moment is so precious. I’m broadening the contacts, I’m putting myself ‘out there’ and I’m trusting that I’ll have established as much as is humanly possible, in order for the book to reach the right person. It simply has to happen.

So, there’s a shift being made. And putting this next step ‘out there’, is confirming for myself that it’s all systems go. I may not have the visa in my passport just yet and things can still change, as is always a possibilty, but I’m trusting that big things are happening and that travel and writing now truly need to start merging. So, this blog will now not only be focused on how the book reaches the shelves, but also, how Niamh reaches China, how the world is interpreted, how the freedom can be felt (even with having my name on a contract!) and how teaching is once again experienced. It all is becoming one – in whatever way the road unfolds, I’m trusting, trusting and trusting some more…

New appreciation

To continue unravelling the China Chapter... Back in the Summer I tried to get myself to China, but it was different. I can see now that it was for all for the wrong reasons. Teaching English in China, was JUST to keep myself the road – that was leading me away from Ireland. I remember what my sister Emma said to me when we were speaking of China (in July)… She suggested I take a time-out in Ireland and once my body was refuelled, I’d travel to far east Asia and have fresh experiences. She was actually predicting what’s happening right now! But, I had such a different mind-set than the one I have today. In July I didn’t even think of going to China as being an amazing experience! All I could think about was: get me out of Europe and Please let the journey around the world continue! I didn’t think along the lines of true appreciation for the fact that I could get myself a teaching job on the otherside of the world… Oh no! I was driven by a passion and maybe even an obsession – but was pushing it to its limits and causing myself to be blinded by the experiences I was actually undergoing.

But now, it’s so different. I realized that back in July when I spoke of teaching my heart wasn’t in it. It was purely a means to an end – focussed on setting myself up financially. But now, my heart really feels it already. When I was taking the interview I felt it… and that’s the main reassurance I used when I accepted the position. When that certainty is there, that the job isn’t a means to an end, but a passage that will bring me into the world again so I can healthily continue travelling, appreciating and embracing, then doesn’t the ‘fear’ of the contract instantly vanish! Yes! And when I focus on how much life I feel when I’m in front of a classroom full of kids, then isn’t that sense of life enough to keep me free to express myself and to embrace the next step! Yes! I reckon so…

I kept all of this ever so quiet, up until Christmas, because the visa hadn’t come through. When I accepted the job, they told me it would take around 6 weeks for the working permit to be approved on their end. Then it would need to be sorted, here on my end. For weeks, I put all of my energies into the book and I felt amazed that the road to China was being carved, without any effort on my behalf!

At Christmas I started to tell some close friends in Holland about my plans and when I came back to Ireland, I felt so strongly that my visa WOULD be approved, no matter what! And guess what… Last week Monday I opened my email and there it was! The recruitment agency had sent me an email stating that the visa had come through and that the documents were being sent to me! I couldn’t believe it! It was really happening! I cried (only a few tears of happiness and relief..haha)! The documents should be falling on the doormat any day now, and then it won’t be long before a date will be set. I’m expected to leave around the middle of February!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Conditioned Contract

After the interview, I happily continued my routine of writing until I got an email the following day saying they were offering me the job! I was a little caught off-guard because it was all happening so easily. I let the idea sit, for all of… 2 hours. Then I seriously thought about it and I knew that I couldn’t say no. For some reason this job had come falling out of the sky and landed on my lap. If the reason was for me to have felt more focussed on getting my story out of my system with the ‘certainty’ that travel plans were on the horizon, this position has already served its purpose! It’s actually so funny to use this term ‘horizon’, because the agency that offered me the job is actually called Horizon (that was just a small piece of useless information!).

So, on the 4th of December I signed the contract! This was the hardest part of the whole process. Because it really was all flowing, until I had the contract in my hands! I suddenly felt to be signing my life away. I don’t ‘do’ contracts lightly… They make me feel so committed, cut-off from the ‘flow of life’ (however corny that may sound) and bouts of suffocation take over me. I lived through all of these feelings, only ever so briefly, as I was making this decision. And just some more useless information: the fact that it’s a de-cision, says so much: ‘cision’ = cut. ‘De’ = off… So it makes sense why this de-cision would let me feel cut off from life!

The prospects of having that job however, were too big for me to ignore. And, even throughout the interview, I wanted to desperately to be in China. I wanted to be with those kids, I wanted to meet them and I felt so honoured that I was been given this opportunity. Also, to put the whole ‘signing away my life’ into perspective, I had to realize that the word ‘contract’ and ‘forever’ aren’t synonyms! Contract simply means that 2 parties are in agreement, 2 parties are ‘protected’ from being treated unfairly and each party is providing the other with a service. I had to get over this obstacle! The terms written in the contract didn’t say: ‘Niamh Keoghans’ life is now over and she may not travel after she sets foot on Chinese soil!’ Instead the terms said something FAR MORE REFRESHING: ‘If things don’t work out, you may leave!’ Of course this wasn’t literally what the contract said, but this is my translation of it! Mams translation was: ‘if you don’t feel happy there, they aren’t going to shoot you if you leave!’ What a relief to hear somebody say that! Haha…

But seriously… I figured this was a huge step. Not only would I come to realize that by signing a contract I wouldn’t be imprisoned and I’d STILL and FOREVER be FREE to TRAVEL, but I would also actually BE TRAVELLING and GROUNDED and FREE all at once!!! I'd not be stuck, trapped, controlled or unable to express myself (which is what a contract represents in my mind) and it would feed my need for more of the world! I also realized: how can I get myself back on the road and into a job that will benefit many different areas of my life that have been ‘lacking’ since returning to Ireland, if I don’t take this chance? At this point in my life this job feels to be offering me so much. It’s simply where the road is taking me: ‘Around the corner' to China!

A dream come true..???

It continues...

From around that time, things just seemed to flow. As my story was evolving and I typed each and every day, to nourish and feed this baby that was growing… I was using my evenings to focus on travel. I was connecting with other teachers who had been working through the same companies… I met one guy in particular, who I since haven’t forgotten about – a Canadian guy by the name of Jay who was living in Mexico and had been teaching in Asia. This contact in particular suddenly amazed me: it showed just how small the world really is and how easy it is to put yourself 'out there', through modern technology! (Says she who writes on a blog just to connect with the world..haha.. how contradictive to actually say this!) But it's so unlimited how contacts and opportunities can enter our lives through the internet.. I think I was blown away by this, for the simple fact that during the day I’d close myself off from connecting with anybody or anything, which meant my world became increasingly small and it expanded only through the power of my imagination. But in the evening the whole world that lay beyond the four walls of my ‘study’ was accessible through a few clicks on the computer! How na├»ve this may sound – but it just shows how we can get so used to a certain way of thinking and being, that when we suddenly experience the opposite, it puts things into perspective and lets appreciation to take us by surprise…

Anyhow, I kept in contact with this one agency and I remember how, after a few weeks, I said to myself: ‘I need to have a job set in place, so I can give all of my energy to the book because I have to reach my deadline of the 17th of December (which had been set in place around this time too). And, this is as true as true can be… The following week, I woke up after having a dream that Jay (the Canadian teacher in Mexico) was chatting to me on Skype, and he asked me when I was all set to leave for China! He told me I only had 6 more weeks to go..! The next thing I know, I’m awake and the phone rings. Ma calls upstairs: “Niamh… There’s someone on the phone… FROM CHINA!” I couldn’t believe what was happening! I took the phone off Ma and the lady on the other end said that I had an interview with a school in China scheduled for 15 min ago and that I needed to get on Skype asap! Well, as freaky as this may sound, it’s really what happened…

Afterwards I found out that the appointment had been set up, but with the time difference and emailing, that one particular mail didn’t get to me on time! Either way, I took the interview straight away (this was on the 3rd of December): just 10 min out of bed, unprepared, on Skype (without the camera switched-on! so they couldn’t see my sleepy bed head) and I ended up having one of the best interviews ever. It was unreal. 50 min it lasted and I chatted about my teaching experience in India, about what I’d learnt, about my good and bad qualities, about my pitfalls, about travels, about what I expected from the position and what I’d hope to gain. Later, I was flying high already – whether I’d get the job or not! I was already delighted that I’d pulled off such an interview without having prepared anything! It was the first time I’d been interviewed in such a way…since… 2008…?

Bringing Travels Back Home...

It’s been a long time coming: this particular update. Since… the 4th of December to be exact! My most recent updates have all been focussed on getting my book ‘out there’ and often there have been hints of the need to still travel. I’ve only been hinting, because I was wary of jinxing the next chapter, before things were more certain. Okay, I’ll start from the beginning. I’ll step away from any ‘book jargon’ – by that I mean any chitchat about how eager I am to get published - and I’ll just update on my travels and how things have come about.

Stepping back, just to recap for a moment (I always seem to do this!). When I first got back to Ireland, or to Europe, in July, I was eager to leave. This wasn’t a secret and everyone who knew me and who was following my travels, may have been shocked by the fact that I didn’t continue to live the travel dream, by heading back out into the world, after what was supposed to be a brief encounter with home and the family. I myself was shocked too! I never planned any of this – I never planned to stay in Ireland nearly 6 months! I never knew that I’d find a place where I could finally focus on writing a book. And the fact that it was unplanned, showed in my actions.

Back in the Summer, when I was in Holland for only 10 days (from the 27th of July until the 07th of August) all I could do was think about how fast I could get myself back to the so-called ‘Asian belt’. Online I searched for jobs and I got in contact with recruitment agencies that solely provide teaching jobs for TESOL certificate holders (that’s the same course I took in India). So, when just arriving back from India and Rome, I found out about particular sources that could benefit my travels. I wanted to get away so badly; I wanted to return to India, or head to China, Thailand, Vietnam or Japan…

But I followed my heart back to Ireland instead. It was simply where the road was taking me, yet the drive to keep journeying was still there. In Ireland, during the first 2 weeks, I still kept searching and nearly landed myself in Russia! It wasn’t for the experience of actually teaching or being in a new and different country – no. It was simply because I felt so much resistance against being here in Ireland.

My heart had called me back to Ireland though for a reason I first-off wasn’t aware of. But as time passed, the reason started to unfold. When I started being honest, I was facing facts: I needed to write this book so badly before setting foot into the world again. I had to majorly readjust the mind-setting. My mind had to be eased into feeling comfort in a place I’d always rejected. I needed to ‘ground myself’. How else can a book be written?! It’s impossible. It took quite some weeks before I started to feel enough settlement for the story to unfold. However my mind never totally adjusted – which just shows that travel really isn’t just a whim for me. I found a place I love and a place I can call home – yet still it’s not where I can settle! What a lesson to have learnt… Sorry, getting slightly off-track!

Throughout September and October I was trying to find the flow, so the book would start spilling… And once I found much needed routine, flow and place of peace (which turned-out to be the desk here at home), I could already feel that the story/the book was coming to an end and that I needed to be looking ahead. I needed to know that there were travel-plans being made so I could leave that part of me in peace and use every ounce of energy in the here and now, in order to work towards creating the end of the story.

At around that same time, my call was answered! It was the middle of November and I was suddenly contacted by the same recruitment agencies I’d been in contact with during the summer. The contacts I’d made throughout my 10 days in Holland, back in July, had been forgotten about for months. And suddenly when I knew I needed to get the travel plans moving again, I’m approached by one particular agency, with job offers to teach English! It was freaky and amazing, all at once! Because, even though I FELT I needed to start searching again, I didn’t actually go out to find THEM.. THEY CAME TO ME!

Friday, January 7, 2011

For the record...

Why is that, once something has been said, instantly those who have been told, expect things to fall into place and to happen over night? Doesn't everyone know the way in which the world works? Things don't just come falling out of the sky, once we've wished for them to happen or once we've admitted to the dream we're pursuing, the project we're working on or one particular thing we're trying to 'get off the ground'. The things we dream of and pursue in life don't always happen with the click of a switch. Yet, most people, when they don't see results in the physical world, automatically presume that nothing is being done nor is there any progress being made.

In relation to what's going on in my life at the moment, I can honestly say, that patience and trust, on behalf of the one who is 'getting things off the ground' and pursuing a life long dream, is what must be practised. Those around us, can encourage and enquire: "what's happening.. is there any news and how long more to go..?" Sometimes I'm actually astounded, blown-away and sent into a frenzied state of mind, by the height of expectations others can have when they view somebody's life and expect a life long dream to instantly be realized.

In many ways, this goes with the territory I've been walking upon, ever since I decided to share my book-adventure here on this blog. Telling the world, constantly, of what's going on, brings instant expectations. This can either work with me, when I choose to be amazed and speechless for the support others offer OR it can work against me, when I choose to feel frenzied by the pressure that comes from others (which I feel I must live up to). It was my choice to keep others informed, so it's also my choice to interpret those expectations as either support that will energize me or as negative pressure that will frustrate me (if I feel I can't live up to the expectations others have of me). It's all down to me. I never wanted to stop sharing my dreams, my plans and the steps that have been unfolding, since returning back to Ireland. It would have been strange to stop sharing and life would have been a lot less exciting without having my blog as a method of connection and communication with those I cherish so much. So I don't need to doubt that my decision to share my dream was wrong. It's all apart of the process and the journey of life..

I wonder though... Can I turn-off to others expectancies that my book will be on the shelves within a few months? Can I seriously 'keep it real' in terms of the length of time it could take before it goes to print? I've recently read that many writers have struggled MORE when publishing a book than throughout the actual writing of it. How can anyone expect my book to already be at the printers? How can anybody expect that, within 2 weeks, a publishing house would have taken my book on board? The reality is, a book can be rejected up to 50 times, before a publisher decides to take it! Seriously!!! I've been doing some research over the past week, and this is the harsh reality of the world of book publishing - no matter how positive, determined and trusting a person can be that a dream will be realized!

Given the fact that I'm ALSO dreaming to soon travel again, I figure I need to make a choice. If I decide to self-publish - which is a hard road to take, requiring a constant flow of cash, time, energy and 100% focus, for as long as the process takes - then all travel plans would be put-off for the foreseeable future. If I decide to approach publishing houses, then it's a different road altogether. It could take longer, because it needs to be accepted by the editors - in comparison to self-publishing, where the book doesn't need to be accepted by anybody other than the bookshop, meaning it isn't always as big a hurdle to overcome as the one of being accepted by a publishing house that’s continuously bombarded with hundreds of book each month and may only accept...10!

So, for the record, my book ISN'T at the printers! I wish I wish I wish I wish this would be the case.. At this very moment, I'm not going to hold back on how much I wish for me to have reached that stage of the 'unfolding book story'!!! As it stands, I'm in the process of contacting only 3 or 4 people who will proof-read the manuscript. I don't feel like the script has reached its ultimate peak of perfection, just yet. 'Perfect' it will never be in the eyes of the whole world. And that’s not my aim. My aim is for me to feel its perfection when it's reached that status, in my own eyes. It won’t be until I feel I COULD self-publish, because that’s when I know there's nothing more I'd change or edit. When I reach that level of 'perfection', then I'll be confidently approaching publishing houses. Choosing for a few to proof-read the script, is for me to receive constructive criticism, so I can work from that point and feel more certain that it's as good as it could ever be.

I'm not going to let the expectations frustrate the progress, because I'll feel the pressure and I too - just like the rest of the ‘world’ - will need to see results. So, it’s a process that takes time. And the world doesn't always work as fast as we would often wish it to. These are the challenges we're faced with. Visible results are proof of success, to the vast majority within the world. But, I've learnt that invisible and untouchable results can be sometimes even more rewarding and provide a deeper sense of personal success - especially when we turn off to what others expect. That, in itself, gives the reward of freedom from the judgemental world and unaffectedness by the pressures from outside of ourselves and we can still remain happily open and honest about where we're heading in life, what we're dreaming of and how the reality of the situation either supports that dream or makes it slightly more challenging to attain.

So, on that note; my research continues, my script will be proof-read and, even though a result may not appear in the eyes of others, it's appearing on the horizon. The distance between myself and the arising result is so far that I can't determine the exact road, the exact length of time or the exact obstacles. It’s still untouchable. But in due time, it will be touched and not only by myself, but also by others! Watch this space...

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year - New Visions

The start of yet another new year. 2011. I’m back in Ireland, after 10 eventful days in Holland. The past 2 weeks have been manic and I can only say how delighted I am to be back in Ireland. I’m not saying that Holland wasn’t great – because it was. Spending time with the whole family, was so special. It had been 2 years since we were all together like that. And so, it was a break I needed. It wasn’t until I was back in Ireland that I realized why – apart from the time I spent with the family.

The 10 days in Holland confirmed what I’d already knew; Holland isn’t my place. I sometimes feel bad to admit this, because it’s where so many of my close family and friends live and I never really see the point in talking badly about something that gives a loved-one a safe and settled place in which to live. So all I’ll say is that my days in Holland put Ireland into perspective all over again. The timing was perfect too. On the 31st of December, I flew back to Ireland, with something new. I returned to Ireland, knowing that I wanted to and needed to. I felt it was going to be the place from which to start venturing. In comparison to when I returned to Ireland on the 7th of August, when I really didn’t want to accept what I was doing with a resistance to a period of ‘settling’, I felt so relieved to walk off the plane and to breathe the Irish damp air. I felt the space and the ease in being here, even before leaving the airport. I felt so at home in Ireland and this was so new to me!

Yes, all that I’ve learnt, since arriving back in August, is now put into place. Rejecting Ireland, as I did when I first got back here, has proven to be the fear I was running towards. And it paid off! Because now I’ve faced it and I never ever will speak badly of Ireland again. I’ll never resist it and it feels amazing to have established my roots here and to feel good with it. So, on the morning of the 31st this is what I was realizing. At the same time I felt that the period of being temporarily settled here, is also coming to an end. This is what I know so well, because from here on in, I’ll be sorting out the next step. No matter what happens over the next few weeks, I know I’ll be leaving. I feel that new things are on the horizon and what better time for this to have happened – just as the new year started! This was celebration enough for me; the vision of big things... That sent me higher than any amount of Jack Daniels and lemonade I was drinking, when toasting to the new year!

I can’t say too much about travel at the moment, there’s just one particular thing I’m waiting patiently to happen, then I’ll know for ‘sure’ where the next chapter will take me. In terms of the book, I also know what I have to do. An objective opinion is required. I need somebody who isn’t personally involved to read it and provide some constructive criticism. I have to research and approach whoever it may be that will offer help and guidance. It’s up to me. I was wondering whether or not to edit it myself, again. But I can’t. Not yet. It needs some outside attention. My baby still needs to be introduced! Mam has already been acquainted... and she was delighted to meet it ;) Now I simply have to trust that the next person will too express an honest opinion on what my baby has become. I feel so calm that what I’m doing right now, is the right thing.

So, as the new year starts, I’m so excited by what lies ahead. I’ll soon be stepping away from Ireland and in the meantime, my baby is resting and will be waking up soon... once the alarm goes off and the call can be answered!