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Saturday, October 20, 2012


At the end of October I’ll be moving into the little cottage in Athenry. I didn’t want to stay in Galway until that time. I’d had enough of roaming the streets, searching for sanity and places to write whilst coffee-shop-hopping. I couldn’t ‘do’ city life or hostel life anymore. I felt like I was on the outside looking in, unable to relate with the world or the people around me. I was getting flattened by everything, no longer on top of life and the pace was way too fast - even though Galway city is known to have a chilled-out vibe. I never imagined that being in a city for only 2 weeks would turn out to be so draining. Because, at one stage, I literally felt I was running the rat race of life, on a treadmill with 1000s and 1000s of others… But, unlike most, I was aware of it and therefore desperately trying to get off! 

When I found the cottage in Athenry I knew the race was slowing down and soon I’d be changing the pace again. Yes, that cottage was apparently what I’d been looking for. I can see now that I really DID put myself in hostel life in search for something. I wasn’t sure if it was physical travel (so as to experience space and a free existence) OR if it was just ANY space on earth where I could just be me. Without forcing, as a result of having lost myself in the city, what I was desperately searching for was given to me… and I’m so relieved that – for now – the search for a place of space has complete itself.  

So, during those 2 weeks in Galway I found what I needed. Last Saturday I left the city; I didn’t want to waste more time and energy forcing myself to be somewhere I no longer wanted to be. So I came to Arklow for a few weeks, giving myself time to sort out some practical bits and pieces and to pack up my ‘stuff’ (not that I’ve a lot… I travel lightly!). But most importantly it's to spend time with my sisters and their little kiddies who just so happen to be over from Holland during these weeks. I’ll be here until the end of October and on the 1st of November I’ll be moving over to Athenry.

Things really are falling into place. And I’m at the start of something big. It’s like – and I know this will sound silly – for the first time I’m truly becoming self-reliant and independent. That does sound strange, especially since I’ve been travelling by myself for the past years. But this time it’s different; simply because it’s Ireland and because what I’m intending to follow through, and to actually materialize, is what’s been sitting inside, waiting for expression and wishing for growth for so long. 

For years, we can dream of these things to happen, we can hope, wish and pray them into existence… And then when the journey unfolds in such a manner that EVERYTHING we need in this physical world comes to us so we can fulfil those dreams, hopes and wishes… it’s like: wouw… can we actually DO this? But there’s no time for second guessing and pondering, we can’t go back nor do we want to. The intentions of a person’s life have been set firmly into place in an inner space and we have to follow them through. Then, only as time passes, can we realize if we’re strong and courageous enough to keep going in that direction, leaving outside influences for what they are – things that don’t affect us – and let the mystery unfold.

At times it’s as though I’m pressing the ‘play’ button, after having ‘paused’ everything throughout these past months. I’m restarting things; the writing that I’ve been forced (by something of a gut feeling) to put on pause; the yoga that I’ve been wanting to expand into but have struggled with; the reading that I can't seem to let myself do; the creations in the kitchen and on the blank canvasses. I’ve been making excuses when it comes to doing any of these things… saying: ‘The space isn’t right…’ And now that the space is coming, I guess I’m going to find out whether or not it was the environment around me that temporarily stopped the creativity to be flowing or whether it was just me.

I know that everything we experience ALWAYS starts inside; what we see around us is a reflection of what’s going on within us. But what if the environment is so overpowering in the sense that it brings our old energy to the surface and we can’t help but be held back by that old force (that’s actually a fear) and those old ways? What then? If this is the case, are we meant to force ourselves to stay in that environment and overcome the challenge so as to grow beyond those old ways of life? Or… do we simply… relieve ourselves from the situation? Well, I believed I needed to constantly confront that energy, and grow and progress… But, if we know that we flourish when we’re in a different setting, then we simply need to change it. And then, what’s meant to be will always appear. 

We’re not meant to remain in places and situations that are holding us back, ESPECIALLY if we’re aware that it’s happening. Because if we’re aware and we remain ‘stuck’, we’re our own worst enemy… punishing ourselves for the sake of… progress and growth? But holy smoke… Life can be, and is meant to be, so simple! If we’re connected to our own truth and living from that space, we know what’s what, we know what’s not. We ‘simply’ must be brave enough to break away and follow what’s right. And this is what I’m doing. Finally I’m doing what I want. I’m breaking away from making decisions based on fear and I’m moving towards a life that’s only lived through making choices based on truth. Because, to be honest, I don’t see the point in anything anymore, if I don’t follow my own ways.

The move that’s approaching is for me to continue accepting who I am, what I must do and what I can give to others. I can only find this, realize this and give full life to this, by creating a space where creations can come alive. Of course I don’t know if I can live up to what I’ve been dreaming of, been longing for and been wishing into existence. But I won’t know unless I try! What’s meant to be, will appear... And on that note, I’ll sign off for now with a big smile and deep trust that the mystery comes with every step.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

CRC FM!!!!!!!!

On Thursday morning at 9.30am I got a call from CRC FM, the community radio station for Castlebar (check out the pinpoint on the map below – I’m in Galway by the way).

It was the presenter from the Johnny Oosten show himself who rang me, so Johnny Oosten! He’s a lovely guy who invited me on the show for an interview that very same morning. Well, who was I say no! Yes!!!!!!! Seeing as though it was last minute, I couldn’t get on a bus and head to the radio station in Castlebar. So it was going to be over the phone.

When he rang, it was 09.30 am and I was in NUIG (the university here in Galway – it’s a cool place to be doing some work, some writing, some people observation ;) and to be meeting with my little bro who has only just started studying there). I had until 11.05 to prepare and enter that 'space'. To do so, I had to find a quiet spot… I couldn’t afford to have any distractions…

This is actually the second interview I’ve done over the phone. And I find it quite a challenge, compared to actually being in the studio, sitting face to face with the person who is taking the interview. Either way, this was another great learning curve. When the time drew nearer for me to come on air, I really hoped that I’d do a better job than the last phone interview… Because the thing is… chatting on the phone, you’re inclined to forget that what you’re saying is actually going live to hundreds (possibly thousands) of people… Wouw. (Just writing about it now, I’m nervous! haha).

Yesterday though I wasn’t too nervous… The phone rang and first I was listening to a song of the pretenders… Once that was over, I knew it was my cue… So I was sitting on the first step of a staircase in the hall, just outside the college cafĂ©… Hummm… I had to envision the presenter to be in front of me (headphones on, speaking into a mic), so I wouldn’t forget that I wasn’t just having a casual conversation with one single friend. And it was working a treat! It felt great to be keeping the interview going the way I did. Students were passing me by, things were happening around me… but I continued to sit on the bottom step and speak about something so delicate, so deep, so personal and so important. Brilliant! Johnny Oosten is a lovely person to be interviewed by, so that helped alot. I knew I was doing a better job than I did, during the last phone interview (by the way, this is my 5th interview since the book has been launched… I’ve had 1 on East Coast FM, 2 on South East Radio, 1 on Dublin City FM and now 1 on CRC FM. 3 have been face-to-face and 2 over the phone). 

So far, I feel it gets more satisfying as I (hopefully) progress and reach more people.

The most daunting thing I find though, during these interviews is that you never know what question will come next… and there’s no time to hesitate, because it’s live on air… There’s little time and space for mishaps and those minutes are so precious… But I think I’m getting the knack of keeping my talk flowing, even when I’m not too sure how to answer a question, or if, on hindsight, I’d have wanted to answer it differently. 

Anyhow… this interview I really enjoyed, because of how Johnny approached the subject. He stressed the availability of the book, the importance of it and was eager to draw from me, things I’d learned and was/am willing to share. The highlight I found was when he asked or suggested I talk publically about my experiences. This happened during the Dublin City FM interview too… and both times I'd get such a buzz for 'public talks' to be suggested and highlighted. Every time that comes us, there’s me… hoping that somebody somewhere out there is listening and snaps me up! Haha… 

Oh well… who knows what can come of it. We just have to keep it flowing and things will keep unfolding.

I'm learning so much as we're publishing and slowly reaching the people. An important thing I’m realizing is that there’s no set destination to reach. It’s like the book has been brought into circulation now and it can ONLY reach further and further. Circulation can never go back on itself… Nor will we reach a point in time, when it comes to a halt… The book will just move through different stages of publicity. And right now, we’re at the stage where bookstores need to AGREE to put it on the shelves… even though it's available to order in all bookstores, it's not the same as the book actually SITTING on the shelves! Because if it’s not physically on the shelves, then it can’t fly off them! So, that’s our mission at the moment… And THEN people will get to know it’s out there… And only THEN can signings be organized… (Another lesson: there’s no point in organizing such events, if people don’t know who I am or what’s being shared) 

Step by step, things will unfold. Trust, trust, trust…

Okay, I’ve linked yesterday’s interview here. It’s up on Johnny Oosten’s facebook page. (For those wondering, the reason I’ve not linked all of my interviews to my blog, is because not all stations have podcast, or ‘listen back’.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Where trust can lead

Saturday afternoon I finally packed my backpack and moved to another hostel. All it took was literally a 200m walk from one corner of Eyre square to the other… It was a tiny distance but still the difference between probably one of the worst hostels in Galway city and one of the best! This new hostel (Kinlay Hostel) – reviewed as being the best in Galway city – really does live up to its reputation. The cleanliness, friendliness and – most importantly – the space, is amazing! The atmosphere is so fresh and positive… and I’ve been feeling a lot better since the move. Life has become so much lighter. The city feels less invasive. I’ve not been roaming the streets as much, I’ve not been losing myself as often as before and I’ve been sleeping more and focussing better. So I’m moving in the right direction (even if I don’t yet have space for meditating and yoga practise, but for now I have to be fine with that because I know for sure my circumstances are changing and daily practise will soon resume… I’ve total faith that things are moving in that direction).

Over the weekend, as I was feeling more positive and clearer about things, I was processing and reflecting on this entire situation and this is what I came to: I made a promise to myself that if I wasn’t to find a place within the following 12 days, I’d start making plans to travel abroad. I was putting total trust in the ‘fact’ that my search for space would complete itself, if Ireland was my place, at this moment in time. If it was meant to be, I’d find a place that would feel right, instantly. If something feels right, then there’s never a need to analyse, persuade and convince ourselves that it’s the right thing to do… we just ‘know’… without needing to explain. 

But before making any rash decisions, I really WAS going to make a big effort in finding a temporary place to live, here in the west - preferably one of Galway’s surrounding towns. 

I turned on my laptop on Monday morning. I hopped on the housing website and the first thing I saw was a holiday cottage available for ‘short term’ rent (meaning 6 to 8 months). I called the owner straight away, arranged a viewing and an hour later I was on the bus heading to see this little cottage. It was the strangest bus journey… It was a dreary day; raining, dark and damp. I was the only passenger, the bus driver spoke with such a strong country accent that I couldn’t understand him… I was exhausted, low on energy, not even thinking or expecting anything from the viewing… At moments I even forgot why I was actually on the bus, just for being lost in my own confusion… I was soon snapped out of my daze, when the bus driver mumbled something. I’m gathering he was telling me that we at our destination: Athenry. 

30 minutes east of Galway city… Athenry town. I’d never been before and only knew if from the song that sings ‘…loooooooow lieeeeeee the fiiiiieeeeeelds of Athenryyyyyyyyyy…’ (I love that ballad by the way… anytime I’ve been travelling, hearing this song would always bring me bouts of homesickness… it’s so earthly, so Irish, so moving). Anyhow… it’s a quint town, very ‘country’. I asked for directions from a local man who runs a little tea and gift shop in the centre of town (I was tempted to order tea and have a chat… but thought best to keep on moving!) The place I was looking for was apparently only a 10 min walk. Brilliant! So I went on my way, feeling better already. Regardless of what was to come from the viewing, I was upbeat again, just for moving myself forward and trying to make things work in some way… 

Before I knew where I was, I came across a sign: Caheroyan house. Yes!! The sign brought me down this little winding pathway, steering into a woodland area, overshadowed by huge trees with the red leaves. Everything was becoming more quiet… Wouw… I felt… so… relieved… as I walked that pathway… Hummm… This little walk alone was soothing… Was I finding a hidden little gem?? I was wary to jump the gun and run away with myself. So, I let-go of expectations and stayed in the moment. 

Suddenly I reached the end of the winding path and was faced with a property that can only be described as an 18th century restored ‘manor’ with a garden at the front, benches, green fields… (later I was to find out about the organic farm, the 70acres of land, the walkways, the river…). I then met the lovely English lady who has been running the business for 19 years, together with her husband. She started telling me that their property has become something of a ‘refuge’ for all the animals, over the past years… I’m like… ‘what animals?’ Oh, of course, it’s those cows, horses, dogs and donkeys out in the back fields! I also thought: maybe this place is my refuge too!

We walked to the back of the house and came to a little courtyard with units/apartments that form the square itself. These are the cottages I’d come to take a sneak peak at! Cool… I got to view a two-bedroomed and a three-bedroomed space. And god… how cosy! 

The more I spoke with this lady, the more I got into what this whole environment is about. I got to know what ‘drives’ their business in the wintertime when the tourists, the daylight, the temperature and the pace of life have lessened… I sussed out how this little gem of a place has inspired many people…   

As I told her my story, she told me the story of previous tenants and those currently still living on the premises… Artists, writers, yoga practitioners, meditators… What?!?!??!? Oh my holy smoke! Wouw… It was one of those moments: Click, click, click… Bang, bang bang... and EVERYTHING suddenly makes sense, EVERYTHING suddenly falls into place and EVERYTHING moves forward as we realize our requests have been granted and there truly is a force that's working WITH us! Wouw!

Well, as I stood there relating with this lovely lady, we were getting deeper into our conversation and I was already envisioning myself to be curled up on late dark winter evenings with the fire lighting, writing whatever I can, whatever I am, for however long I want…

Needless to say, I didn’t want to contemplate whether or not to take it… Even when she said that I’d have to guarantee to stay for 6 to 8 months… I didn’t care! I knew this was an opportunity that wouldn’t come along a second time… so I didn’t need to be second-guessing anything. I secured it straight away with a deposit… that way I was this little space would temporarily be my place…! 

And there you have it: 30 minutes after passing by the sign for Caheroyan House, I passed by it again, walking in the other direction, but feeling a sense of relief, purpose and guidance... Whooohoooo!

This really is more perfect than I ever dared imagining. Ever since, I’ve heard myself saying: 'I can’t believe it…' Then I quickly shake myself about and tell myself: ‘Niamh, you better believe it, because it really IS true!’ It’s the sign of all signs that I’m not meant to elope from Ireland just yet… Yes! The bookssssssss need my attention, it’s what I’m meant to focus on for now and I’m the luckiest person in the world to be creating the circumstances that enable me to do the work that I need to be doing. Finally I can totally move into EVERYTHING, in my own little pad, with ease, pleasure, flow and whatever other amazing feeling that can be experienced when we’re FREE to just BE!!! Yay!!!! 

(For a look at the place, check out the site. It's the picture beside 'self catering accommodation' http://www.caheroyanhouseathenry.com/accommodation.htm) 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 4th - The Galway City Hostel

I sit by the window in the kitchen of the hostel and stare down at the cross roads, just off the busiest spot in town: Eyre Square. People are coming and going, rushing, fighting the wind, trying to keep themselves sheltered from the rain, but still needing to move as fast as possible… The west of Ireland seriously lives up to its reputation: wet, wild and windy. 

I sit, darkness has fallen earlier today… it must be the heavy black clouds. Buses come and go… arriving from and heading towards all parts of Ireland… Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Derry (should I be on one of those busses too... part of me wishes I was) I don't run to catch any of them... I remain seated, surrounded by travellers; Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish… The television is blaring and the radio is playing, all at the same time… I wonder: ‘isn’t just one of the two MORE than enough entertainment!?!’ Obviously not… then again, I should be grateful that the music isn't the alternative rock that was being played this morning during breakfast :)

Reflecting on how this day started… I recall how I woke-up in the middle of the night at 2am – it's the wake-up call I get when something big is happening in my life. I’ve still not figured out why 2am is the time for me to wake, in times of confusion. Yet, still I do. Whenever this happens, I give myself a few hours to fall back to sleep, without frustration… but it rarely happens. So I always end up taking my journal and making my way to the kitchen to drink some tea, to eat some fruit and to pour my thoughts onto paper. This time I do the same; I grab my journal, reach for an orange and sneak out of the 8 bed dorm trying not to wake the other girls up. I walk to the kitchen half asleep, holding an orange and hoping to get some peace in the early hours of the morning. I know from previous experience that by writing before the dawn, I’ll suss out what has woken me from my sleep. 

But, how silly of me for thinking I’d have access to the kitchen at 4am! The kitchen is locked… So, I make my way to the bathroom and I look at my reflection… small puffy bloodshot eyes – for lack of sleep and a long face – for not knowing what I’m doing. A part of me should really be laughing at this scene: an orange in one hand, a journal in the other… but no space to sit and eat, to sit and write… yet still walking around the hostel in search for… peace!? It obviously isn’t meant to be, so I’m drawn back to bed.

I lie there, listening to the snoring lady in the top bunk bed. I start wondering: what on earth have I started? Why am I doing this? Should I move onwards? Should I head down south? If I do, am I then running again? I can’t answer this last question truthfully, seeing as though my mind is foggy. So I let it go… I let my mind take me wherever it wants me to go… and before I know where I am, I’m in the south of Spain, then India and later Indonesia.

Refraining from wrecking my own head, I don’t get angry with myself for letting my mind run off and do what it’s accustomed to doing. Instead I simply wish for guidance. Then it comes… in the form of a dream (as soon as I dose off)… I’m trapped in a house, a place of my own. The back windows of the house are open and I panic. I need to shut the world out. Luckily I do… Then I look out the front window and can’t understand how I’ve landed myself in this new position, in this new home… of my own... in a place unknown to this world! A home that’s being invaded by outsiders and terrifying me at the same time… Terrifying me!!! Since when am I so fearful?!?!?! Still dreaming, I wonder how I’ve created a home for myself and I feel this pressure from inside and hear as well as feel this loud inner voice… it’s urging, shouting, pushing for me to wake up… I nearly scream out loud but luckily it’s the pressure instead of the scream that wakes me up and lets me break free from a space that’s being sneakily taken over. 

Whatever guidance that may be, I'm not too sure of. But it surely does confirm what my surrounding situation is doing to me. 

Hostel life is hard work and a shock to my system. The constant flow of people EVERYWHERE leaves me without a moment to be with my thoughts. I’ve no space to reflect on where I’m going, what I’m doing and why I’m here. I’ve been on the go for days, searching for time to find these answers. I’ve been searching for my space outside of the hostel, but how‘s that possible…when I’m in the middle of the city? Of course I can go for walks to clear my head, but in the pouring rain with the wind burning my cheeks, I’m bringing even more tension to my body and strain to my mind. So the only thing I’ve been doing is coffee shop-hopping, drinking herbal teas and vegetable soups. 

I never thought I’d see the day, when I’d be going to church to meditate in the middle of a vibrant city like this. I never ever thought I’d reach a stage where I can hardly deal with this commotion, without needing to bring my mind to a silent point of balance on a daily basis.

The girls I’m sharing the dorm with invited me to a pub crawl tonight. Ouch… what to say? Am I tempted to give in and place myself in an environment that will drain me even more, just for the sake of ‘keeping face’? Temptation is so far from my mind… as I’d rather sit here on my bunk bed and write.

Wouw… How much I’m learning from this whole experience! How little I care that I’m not in the pubs with the rest. How little I care that I’m having to be quieter and less sociable when I’m in the hostel, just so I can deal with the commotion that’s going on around me AS WELL as inside of me…   

This environment is shaking me about so much and making me conscious of how much I’ve changed, how delicate this journey is, how precious space really is and how important it is to place ourselves in surroundings that complement us and lift us up instead of bring us down.

Even though this is only for a few weeks, the effect already feels huge.

It’s the extremes again: when things aren’t easy, the toll things feel to take can be temporarily unbearable – in that moment. It’s like a weight we can hardly carry. On the other hand, when things are great, the boost we receive is one that brings life to a different level and everything feels to be possible and opportunities spring out of nowhere. Where’s the balance between the extremes? Is that balance in our silence… the space between our thoughts and emotions… the moments of nothingness… the place where all is fine and perfect, no matter how intensely difficult or extremely easy things feel to be?

I know so little, only that I’ll be moving soon, space will enter, clarity will come, answers will appear, energy will accompany and life will continue to flow.