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Friday, November 30, 2012

The power of a place

The darkest days of winter are arriving and it’s really putting me in hibernation-mode. The fire’s lighting, the music’s playing, I’m snuggled in 2 dressing gowns, 2 pj’s, 4 pairs of ‘cosy socks’, fingerless gloves, and a blanket around me… just in case the cold STILL creeps in. I swore that this post WASN’T gonna be about the weather… So I’ll stop here…. After adding that I’ve now got 4 duvets on my bed (okay, the duvets aren’t the fluffy feathery extra warm type ones… but still… 4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Okay, that was my short little ‘cold rant’ for today (I could go on a little longer, but the more I focus on it, the colder it will feel!)

Regardless if it’s a challenge to keep myself warm in badly insulated cottage, I’m loving this time here, more and more. So grateful to be paradise :)

It was only during the week, I actually took the time to realize my surroundings. Of course I knew I was in a great place, but I didn’t fully open my eyes to see it; I’d been too stuck into other things, letting myself get away from the moment.

So, one morning here during the week, I went out to explore the area of land that belongs to the farm. It was the perfect morning as well; frosty with bright blue skies, the sun hanging low in the sky, but creating a warm glow. I wandered and explored, hoping to leave the stress I’d created throughout the morning, behind. It worked a treat. 

Suddenly I found myself sitting on top of a fence, surrounded by fields, with the sun heating my face. Not a drop of rain (!), not a gust of wind… only the birds, the bees and beyond that, total silence. I sat, eyes closed. And in that moment, I actually STOPPED as a result of where I’d placed myself. I STOPPED the stress by embracing this place. And I became shocked at how my mind had been racing and racing up until that moment of sitting there on the fence soaking up the Irish late November sun. I realized just how powerful it is, to tear ourselves away from the worry, hassle, burdens and pressures we create ourselves, in our own minds, if we just take a moment to consciously connect with our surrounding environment. Wow… how asleep we can be, and how blinded we can become to the beauty that’s right here in front of our nose!

For this to have happened, was huge - even if it sounds so simple, even if it’s something I’ve experienced before. But when we temporarily loose sight of the light and beauty around us, it’s startling when that light and beauty does reappear… Wow… It had a powerful effect on that particular day, because, only before stepping out of the cottage 15 minutes prior to finding the fence, I was journaling, worrying, analyzing, trying to make sense of the chaos in my head (which had exploded during meditation). I was actually, in that moment of journaling, following the chain of my thoughts. It was like a map, and I saw, on paper, how my fears had escalated and brought me to the conclusion: ‘Niamh you need to leave this country!’

What the hell!!!!That came out of absolutely nowhere! It wasn’t until I was sitting on the fence, enjoying the sun, that I realized I’m EXACTLY where I want to be in this world, at this very moment! There’s nothing I don’t have, nothing I can’t create – be it another book, or simply a feeling of heat! I can create everything RIGHT HERE AND NOW… by simply coming into this moment, relishing in what I’ve got RIGHT NOW, without pushing to find answers as to WHY I’m pushing for a move around the planet! When it’s not even what I want… Not at this moment. Because what I have, and where I am, is all I need!

I sat, I sat, I sat… I could’ve been anywhere on earth and life was truly alive inside. I opened my eyes, to be greeted by a fox! This was a first! It was off in the distance, didn’t come close, but wow… so beautiful. After been given such a precious little moment, I was only getting started… I hopped off the fence, wandered down another pathway, stumbled upon an old well, walked through the woods, climbed over an old bridge that was hidden beneath the earth, trees and leaves…  I then found myself sitting on a wooden log, still with the sun shining down on my face, looking out over another field, flat. Beautiful. Still.

A view of Athenry town off in the distance – where everyone is running, distracted and ‘stressed’…  (well, at least compared to the sense of calm I was feeling in that moment) Just the thoughts of the traffic, the high school buzz, the few shops doing their business and the supermarket running non-stop… It was too much and it didn’t need to filter into this moment… How blessed I felt to not be a part of it and to just BE a part of REAL life… My gaze fell over those low fields of Athenry! The song really DOES tell the truth: the fields they lie so low! I’ve witnessed it now. And it creates a feeling of grounding and home; without ever needing to push for things to happen or for miracles to appear. Because they are right here. All we must do is open our eyes. 

I continued to wander onwards through the woods, looking at the earth, covered in brown leaves, crunching beneath my feet, looking up at the sky, beyond the leafless trees, the birds flying overhead. Amazing so close to nature. I then found the lake and again, wow… Those still waters have been there all along! 4 min from the place where I rest my racing head each night! The voice inside became louder… names of famous authors came to mind, their style of writing, their wisdom, their dedication. Then I was reminded of remarks I’ve made in the past whilst speaking with inspiring people regarding my path in life. 

There, I stood, observing the lake, listing to the flowing river just behind me, relating to my inner voice so clearly and I knew that I was making everything work. Inspiration, clarity, creative juices. I knew and felt that I’d have the power to balance everything in life, without letting things slip through my fingers. And if things do so happen to slip, yet if those things are meant to be, then they'll always come back. Nothing is ever lost. This is something a person only realizes when they suddenly find themselves, once again and again and again… over and over… The journey never ends. Wow.

With that I went back to my little cottage, a blissful hour had passed, the fire was lighting. It was 1pm, time for lunch, time for writing, time to be creative. And oh yes, how it’s flowing!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The tears and joys of writing

I never realized, or at least I’d forgotten, how relieving it can be to release an emotional blockage that’s been stuck for so long. 

This week, I’ve been working through a writer’s block. And holy smoke, I never realized how much it was holding me back and weighing me down. But, at the same time, I never realized how hard I’d have to work to get passed it. At the beginning of August I closed the concept of the second book I’d started working on. 3 months passed by and I was unable to go near it. I’d lost the mojo, lost focus, was totally distracted but still knew that working passed that block was one of the main things I needed to do. It was the main thing that brought me to this cottage… so I couldn’t cop out when the going got tough.

Throughout the past 10 days, the going got seriously tough. I’ve been emotional, stuck, trying to restart the book, lost and searching the kitchen cupboards for answers. Well, Niamh, you aint gonna find the answers in the presses are ya! Nope! The only thing that told me was that I was deeply dissatisfied with myself due to holding myself back, when I know full well, with all my heart, that I’m more than capable to see this book through! And finally… last weekend it happened. I opened it up again, I took it slowly though. 1 day at a time, gently gently. I started going over what I wrote all those months ago and was totally shocked, surprised and massively motivated by what I came across! 

During this past week it was taking up momentum. Most mornings, I’d be up at 6am, skip morning meditation, but instead dive straight into the laptop… meaning a whole days work would be done by 10.30am! Yay! This morning, Sunday, same thing. And I totally cracked it today. Today I overcame the sorest spot of the book so far, the spot that’s been lingering and loitering in my mind for past 3 whole months! And today I broke FREE!!!! Oh my god… There’s nothing more clearing, more liberating or exhilarating than that. Really… and I’m not even exaggerating.

The whole book has opened up now and with that I’m able to face my whole personal world in the face! My past, my present, my future! Why was it so excruciating to get through to this point though? Because I realized today, due to writing about my experiences, there’s huge emotional attachment to ‘things’ that haven’t been dealt with in the way I’m accustomed to. With a block, instead of clearing and cleansing and freeing myself, I’m letting things fester away, weighing heavy on my heart and blocking my visions as to how things can flow forward. Wouw… it amazes me, everytime, just how delicate this process is.

The place I’m at has made this possible; it’s just me, alone… living in the most perfect place of peace… Yes, so peaceful. But it was only once I realized how peaceful this setting is, just how little at peace I myself was at. There was little of the tranquillity I was seeing around me, to be seen within me. Then it became obvious just how my mind was letting my fears drown out that silence and blind me to this beautiful place. Having nowhere to run to, this situation has made me sit it out, it’s made me face this emotional block and work through it. And today was the biggest break I’ve had. Amazing!

I’m open now to seeing that I have to be writing this book for myself. Yes, of course I’ll eventually try and hope to get it published. But at this moment, it’s more for me to make peace with this path. And in that sense, I’m free to let it flow the way I want it to. Suddenly expectations cease to exist and boundaries fall away as to how far I can go. There’s no pressure as to how fast I must ‘produce’. It’s simply me, seeing what I’m made of as a writer, tapping in to what I’ve so far come to learn and to maybe astound myself in how I bring it together. So exciting… and I’m MORE than blessed for this experience. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Question time

Today I realized that this whole set-up – cottage in the west of Ireland, tea in the pot, fire at night, snuggly in a blanket – is actually something I envisioned myself to be experiencing, in around 20 or 30 years’ time! Wouw… I must be old before my time! Not to worry... I know this is only temporary. I know there's a time for coming, a time for stationing and a time for moving again. And now, is my time to be stationed.

I’ve only been here just over a week, and already it feels like a whole lot longer. The space feels to change every day, depending on what I’m doing or how much time I spend here. So much happens, but I can’t exactly say what! I have moments when I think… ‘oh god, what have I let myself in for…’ Putting myself in a cottage, so alone and only connecting with people if I consciously go out and make the effort. But then I have moments when I’m so excited by how much work I can get done here. In my moments of panic I have to realize that this is the only situation that would reveal what needs to be unveiled and I couldn’t have chosen any other direction, other than this. This is exactly what I wished for. And I got it. For now, I’m still adjusting and settling. I’m still trying this… (even if it's a trial for 6 months). I can't know yet if it’s actually what I want. But I guess it’s what I need otherwise it wouldn’t have come to me so easily?! 

As well it’s like, for so long, we can want something so badly. We do what we can to make it happen, we wait patiently and we trust that it’s on its way. And then when it suddenly appears and we make it happen… It suddenly becomes the ultimate test to see if what we wished for really is the thing we want and if we have what it takes to make it work out for us. It will be interesting to see if I can actually do this; staying here by myself, without too much isolation and still working on writing a book and promoting the first.

Oh, just touching the subject of the book… The best thing happened the other day. I was in Galway city, had a few bits and pieces to sort out. I randomly walked into the Dubray bookstore on Shop street (the main street in the city centre). I thought I’d check out the genre Irish Biography. And wouw… there it was… 2 copies of Digesting Wisdom right beside a very well-known Irish author Martha Long. Yay! What a cool moment that was. It’s actually the first time for me to walk into a store and to see it on the shelves! Woopdidoo!!!!!!!!!!! 

To stay on the topic of the book. I keep hearing myself saying: 'I’m working on promoting the book'. But what am I actually doing? Well… give me a minute… hummm… Ah yes… At the moment promotion involves contacting quite a few organizations that are focused on eating disorder treatment. As well I'm  networking with some therapists and a few authors, offering them my story for reading and further recommendation. We’re starting to organize a few signings too! The first one is set on the 1st of December in Arklow! Brilliant… And in relation to that, we’re getting the advertisements sorted. I think so far, we’ve contacted every radio station in the country to see if they’ll let me on for an interview. But to be honest, only a tiny fraction has replied... Ouch! So that’s proving a little difficult.

On a whole, it’s quite a slow process. And I – unrealistically – expected for it to be something that would take off without any effort whatsoever. Oops… Ah well, not to worry. I guess this all a part of learning. Because I’m only a novice, a beginner, so new to this business. It helps that I'm starting to be more patient and more trusting that the media channels we’re trying to get to open up to us, will soon start working with us, so the book will reach those who need it. 

In the past I've read articles from authors, sharing their experiences with publishing. Some say that the writing of the book is the hardest part. I’m not too sure about that… Because this step in the publishing journey, is quite tough. And because of this, it’s also quite hard to sit back, relax and savour the fact that the book is in print and that the hard work I put in, whilst I was writing it, is already paying off... Because there’s still work to be done… On certain moments I wonder WHAT exactly. Because I’ve no real idea what could come my way, or what direction I actually WANT to steer this is in. Maybe I’ve spent far too much time waiting for something to happen and now it’s time for me to stand up MAKE things happen for myself. And maybe this space and the time I now have is all in aid of that… 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Creating... HEAT

It’s been 5 days since I moved from east to west; from Arklow to Athenry. Can I call the little cottage 'home' already? Slowly it’s starting to feel that way. The first day or so, I was in total limbo. During the second, I was on the move… or, the furniture was on the move and I was trying to arrange it in a way that would bring the purpose of this whole move to Athenry, into this space (I basically figured I can’t sit and write, if the space isn’t set-up properly). So on day 2 and 3 I was on a mission... moving, rearranging, sitting, standing, checking every set-up from every angle and trying to make best use of the area and the furniture. I was like a whirlwind. At one stage I didn’t think I’d find the right arrangement. Panic panic panic… Help! Somebody… Second opinion?!??! But nope, I had to do this alone. And suddenly I cracked it! Yes!  And oh, how the whole house feels to have changed since the furniture has been properly set-up and things have been laid out to mark the place as being (temporarily) my own little sanctuary. 

On the 4th day, yoga was coming to mind… ‘Oh god… it’s been a week since my last practise and I’m missing it...’ Huummm… This was a huge barrier to overcome. Because - even though this place is perfect in almost every way - it’s freezing cold… Since the first day it's been a challenge to prevent the cold from seeping through me, but it’s like it’s rooted itself in my bones, paralyzing me almost when it comes to being able to move freely. 

Referring to yoga, I realized how much I want and need to keep practising. But, at the same time, I realized how much of a challenge it would be, to practise in a relaxed sense, if I’m constantly feeling tension in my muscles. A part of me thought to accept that it’s not doable – six months without yoga is easy! But then a larger part of me thought this morning: ‘I don’t care… This cold ISN’T gonna kill me and I want to do yoga! (I might shrivel in the process…but that’s probably the worst that could happen). So I rearranged the spare room to make it more spacious, I rolled out the yoga mat and took of my dressing gown and slippers (oh my holy smoke… as I was doing this, I was looking outside… the frost was covering the trees and with that I felt my muscles so tense due to the outside temperature slowly creeping into this space… ouch!). But I happily convinced myself that this is simply a case of ‘mind over matter’. The more I tell myself I’m cold, the colder I’ll be. The more I tell myself I’m warm, the warmer I’ll be. (Isn't it so easy to babble the theory like this...?! But putting it into practise is a whole different ballgame...)

So… there I went… Stretching into the sun salutations… Oh how I love love love this! At the same time I was wishing for the flow of energy to warm me from the inside out. I switched-off to the sight and feeling of my toes slowly turning white with every salutation I did… Every other part of me was warming up nicely and I was feeling a whole lot better about the temperature. I wasn’t as tense, I was open again, tuning in to my body – and it wasn’t because of it being slightly frozen ;) but because of the practise itself. Amazing… It gave me such a boost to realize that I CAN be fine with the cold if I just relax into it and STOP rejecting and fearing it. I’d like to add, that afterwards - with toes that were now turning purple - I jumped into a hot shower (which is probably going AGAINST everything they teach regarding yoga practise… ‘never shower afterwards’… but… again, I thought… I don’t care!).

Reading this, you’d probably think I’ve moved to the Antarctic or somewhere like that. Well, that’s not the case… (not yet anyhow ;) Instead I’m just living in the west of Ireland where it rains a lot (meaning it’s a damp climate and therefore the weather feels to be colder than it actually is). The cottage is also in the middle of a woodland area, meaning there’s little shelter around; no houses, no enclosure. And the walls aren't greatly insulated, so the heat escapes. Wouw… and how this ‘cold’ has brought me to visit many places in my head (which doesn’t help when a person is trying to settle into one particular spot on this planet… Soooooo contradictive!) Anyhow... The first few days I was in India… where feeling warmth is just as natural as breathing air. I’ve been in Spain… where the winters are mild. I’ve been running away to another apartment, just to have a more dependable source of heat… And I wondered… ‘Why did I choose to stay in Ireland for the winter?!?!?!’ 

The whole ‘heating challenge’ is raised a few notches, given the fact that I’m the worst person when the cold kicks in. My feet become instant blocks of ice even when it’s nowhere near freezing. My hands crumble, my skin turns to sandpaper and my muscles ache. I’ve had a cold nose for days now… (except for when I nearly sat on top of the open fire here last night... suddenly it was burning… much to my delight!). 

Heating is something I’ve never appreciated before… Or, something I’ve massively appreciated but have never been responsible for creating myself! Wouw… What a wise lesson this is for me. Yes, because suddenly, for the first time in my life, it’s up to me, and me alone, to keep myself warm this winter. Nobody else is going to light my fires! Nobody else is going to turn the only radiator in the cottage, up to full blast. Nobody else is going to pay the bill. Nobody else is going to buy woolly jumpers, tights, pj’s and (more) blankets. Nobody else is going to regulate or control the heat that fills this space. Only me… 

Just as I’m writing this, I feel like an 18 year old girl, stepping out in to the world for the first time. But then again, who cares…?! I accept that this is how I’m feeling and it’s making me feel so strong as I’m slowly seeing that I CAN do this and be totally self-sufficient, in every which way. I also realize now, the more I reject the cold, the harder this is going to be. So I have to steer my focus  away from it, otherwise I’ll forget what all of this is in aid of… 

And when I look at how I’ve arranged my space, when I focus on what I want to be doing, when I cherish the freedom I have to do and be as I wish, when I feel the excitement that comes when I’m cooking dinner in my own kitchen… and when I DO feel the heat coming from the fire that I, myself, have lit… then wouw… everything makes sense and I'm reminded of the purpose. Throughout the past days I’ve already learned so much and for that, I’m massively grateful. I know I’m still settling, still finding what works best and how to create the comfort I need, so it’s fine… 

As well, this morning, doing the yoga, was the ultimate test and a huge break through because I passed with flying colours and I really CAN move freely in this home, without being paralyzed and crippled by the cold. I awakened something of an inner heat and inner power. And now I just need to keep it close, so I can put it into the work I want to be doing, as I continue to settle… The process is unfolding, which will be constantly changing, ONLY for the better. Happy and (warm) days await!    

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A brief moment

Well, today's the day! I'm moving moving moving.

It's November 1st... the start of a new new new chapter! Last night was Halloween... It was full moon, with a bright clear sky... I turned off the light to go to sleep and the torch was hanging just outside window, lighting up my room here at my Mam's home. I was dosing off, but something was awakening. Something contradictive was ocurring... Trying to sleep, but something was else was trying to wake up... The energy was strange, something was moving, dawning as the night grew colder and colder.

Waking up this morning, frost on the grass for the first time this season. Yet the sky is bright blue, it's clear... It all feels so new.

And here I sit, right in middle of loading up the car, I'm taking the quickest pause... a 4 hour journey and I'll be in Athenry... They say moving house is one of the most stressful things to do in life, and that it brings up the most emotions... Hummmm... Well, so far so good! I'll be off for now, cause the road awaits!

Synchronicities at play...

Over the past month or so, my focus deviated itself from book promotion to house hunting. I lost so much focus, that, at one stage, when anybody would ask me: ‘So, Niamh, how’s the book going?’ I’d actually be a little speechless and wouldn’t know what to answer, because I felt I’d hardly done anything to keep the promotion going and chose not to engage in the sales figures (not just yet anyhow). I’ve since been able to make peace with the fact that I let my focus slip away… for the first time in my life! Being ‘fine’ with something that would usually wreck my head completely, means, again for the first time, that I wasn’t judging myself from a place of anger, resentment, force or frustration. Nope. I just simply said… ‘Wouw… I really did loose focus for reasons of which I’m aware, and I’m totally fine with the fact that I had to deviate slightly…’ (Without having focused on house hunting and moving onwards, I’d not be where I am today… so it’s all perfect!) 

As well since this realization has hit home I’ve been able to see everything from that same angle… from a vision without force, or frustration, or criticism.  And everything feels so much more… accepted, easy, exciting and light... I’m more open due to feeling less pressurized and less angry with myself for experiencing a brief period of de-motivation. Also I’m appreciating MORE of what I’ve got, how far I’ve come and the responses (in relation to the book) that have been coming my way, without searching for them. I’m once again connected to the magic of life and can see the synchronicities that are happening…

Just an example… Today (Thursday the 25th) I arranged to meet with an eating disorder therapist in the holistic clinic BODHI, which is in Gorey (a town just 15 min south of Arklow). Her name is Louise Doran and I found out about her around 2 months ago when I contacted the Eating Disorder Resource Centre of Ireland (EDRCI). The founder of EDRCI, Suzanne Horgan, was delighted when I told her about the book and was eager to read it (hopefully this will lead to further recommendations as well as a review). So we’ve since sent Suzan a copy. When we were in contact, she also gave me the contact details of Louise in Gorey saying she’d be interested too. I rang her shortly afterwards, we chatted on the phone and she too was excited to hear about the book (I’d said I’d drop a copy in the letterbox) and we also arranged a meeting. And that meeting was today (the 25th of Oct).

From the word ‘go’ it was as though we’d been friends for ages. Wouw. The connection was instant… And I wasn’t 2 minutes in the door when I met another amazing lady, Neasa. She’s the most humble girl you’d meet, considering the amount of work and training she’s already undertaken as well as the fact that she’s the founder of this Gorey-based BODHI clinic (which houses a massive range of holistic therapies; Yoga, meditation, Pilates, massage, nutrition, Reiki, reflexology, acupuncture… on and on the list goes!) at the tiny age of 30… Wouw… She’s an inspiring girl to say the least.

Anyhow, the welcome I got from both of them was huge… Neasa said it was as though she already knew me as she’d heard so much about me. Hummm… There I was… shocked, excited but oh so intrigued. This girl, a stranger to me… How can she feel to know me already?

Well, this is where the synchronicities come into play… Neasa started telling me this story. One day - around 6 or 7 weeks ago - Neasa, Louise and their friend were meeting for lunch across the road from the clinic in the Book Café… (which is where I launched the book. There are quite a few copies on sale there). The book caught their eye. Their friend picked it up, opened it on a random page, read it and it struck a chord within him (even though he hadn’t any food issues). He was adamant to buy the book and 5 minutes later… Yay! The book was his! There’s nothing strange about that really. The book simply fell into his hands at the right time, right place, and opened itself up on the right page… which was enough for him to want to read the whole story. (Actually, this may sound normal, but I find it quite amazing!)

As little happening was taking place in the Book Café, at around the same time, there’s Niamh… sitting in her room in Arklow… staring out the window, just after getting a contact number from Suzan Horgan of a lady in Gorey. I sat, pondering whether or not to ring a complete stranger (Louise), explain my story and ask her if she’d like a copy of the book! When I finally DID pluck up the courage to ring her and told her about my story, Louise hadn’t yet made the click between the book in the Book Café and my phone call. It wasn’t until later that she started putting the puzzle together… ‘Oh my god…’ she thought, ‘I just got a call from the author of the book with elephant, the book that’s on sale in the Book Café across the road!’

They told me all of this today. Man, the excitement they’d been experiencing, just because I’d randomly contacted Louise asking for her help in reading, reviewing and further recommending the story! This was such a cool moment… I stood there, 2 people who were only strangers to me 5 minutes beforehand, and we were all on the same page… Digesting Wisdom’s page! Whoohooo!

I felt it to be so reassuring to hear that this was happening, without my awareness. Isn’t it magic! Then, Louise went on to tell me that she’d actually lost the copy that I’d delivered, all those weeks ago. She was on the plane and during take-off it dropped to the floor and slid underneath the seats behind her. She went looking for it, once the plane landed, but it had disappeared… She wasn’t upset, because somebody else has now got it! And she bought her own copy from the Book Café! Yay! I was just amazed at how things have been evolving, unknowingly.

It was great to get to know these girls. They’re so switched-on, totally understanding, open and doing amazing work at the same time. We sat and spoke for a couple of hours, which was unexpected but so refreshing. It was also huge for me to hear from strangers that it’s an important book. Because I’ve sometimes been wondering if it’s just me who thinks it’s important? Have I deluded myself into thinking this book can really spark-off chords within ANYBODY? But hearing today that a total stranger, who had never before heard of me (and therefore had no reason to buy it ‘just because they know the author’) and who is unaffected by eating disorders… just tells me soooooooooooooo much! This book really IS for anybody!!! I haven’t deluded myself at all…

It just shows as well that things really ARE happening with this book and it’s taking on a life of it’s own. Brilliant :)