Charming Margaret

gorse in Mayo
Gorse just starting to blossom in Mayo earlier this month

I was this close to losing my faith in the people here in recent weeks.

If anyone doesn’t know about this: This Friday, Ireland voted on whether or not to remove an amendmend to our constitution which puts a blanket ban on abortions. No other country I know of has a blanket ban written into their constitution, for the simple reason that it doesn’t belong there. Constitutions are for black-and-white stuff like human dignity being inviolable. Abortion is far too complex a subject.

The problem is that those in Ireland who campaigned for a “No” (to removing the amendmend), brought the issue down to personal beliefs about abortion. Their posters spread outright lies – such as “1 in 5 babies in the UK are aborted”, when in actual fact it’s about 8 in 1000 (1 in 5 would be 200…) – and proclaimed that repealing the amendment was “too extreme”, often explicitly stating that repealing meant to allow abortions anytime, anywhere, right up to birth.

None of that’s true, of course. I happen to believe a woman’s body is her own and she should be the one to decide, but the thing is, all these details will have to be discussed when they bring in proper legislation about abortions; the referendum was only about making such legislation possible by removing the blanket ban. It was about preventing horrible deaths and hardships (google “Savita Halappanavar” or “Michelle Harte”) due to women being denied life-saving treatments, 14-year-old rape victims forced to carry out their pregnancies, and other atrocities.

The No-side was very well funded, among other things by American pro-life groups, and there were sickening incidents like a TV debate in which people actually laughed at tragic deaths due to the 8th amendmend, and towns like my beloved Ballinrobe plastered with No posters (I counted 19 No to 2 Yes posters there the other day). It seemed we were inundated by people who would place a foetus’s life above that of the mother, who cynically told women to keep travelling to the UK for abortions, and who attacked and harrassed Yes-campaigners.

That’s not the Ireland I love. Before I continue, please let me clarify what I mean by “love”: I mean the country as in, literally, the land, and the beautiful, big-hearted, witty and wry-humoured people here. I’ve never loved the political construct of a country as a state and believe that patriotism is vile (in my opinion, things like a functioning democracy and its institutions should be appreciated and upheld and forever improved, but in a rational, intellectual way. There’s no place for personal pride or emotions there; I find they always have a nasty aftertaste of fascism).

Then came voting day and it turned out that the vast majority of people – two thirds, in fact – are in favour of removing the admendmend. My relief and joy was mirrored by my wonderful friends, there was an atmosphere of giddy, tearful gratitude in the air as the voting counts trickled in yesterday. What had seemed like a majority belief turned out to be just a very loud minority – and I now believe, it’s an even smaller minority than one third of the population, because many foreigners like myself didn’t have a vote, and even those who voted No were often simply uninformed.

I was sitting in my favourite cafe at lunch, tears in my eyes as I saw the first results, when a woman sat down at my table (the place was crowded), introduced herself as Margaret, and in the inimitable way of people in this country, started chatting to me. She said she hadn’t voted but would have voted No, because she believes “babies shouldn’t be aborted.”

I took a deep breath.

Here I was, overflowing with love and gratitude, and now this. We started discussing the matter and it turned out, she had no idea of the actual issue at hand. She hadn’t even heard about Savita, who died of sepsis because of a drawn-out miscarriage. The miscarriage was inevitable, but because it took so long, infection set in. “But they should have just taken the foetus out of her!” exclaimed Margaret. “Exactly,” I said. “But they couldn’t, because the amendmend forbid it.”

Lough Cullen
Lough Cullen

We kept talking and then parted as friends, and I felt another wave of love as I realised that many who voted No must have been just as uninformed. It’s hard to fathom in 2018, but many people in rural Ireland still don’t have internet. All their information came from those vile, lying No campaigners. That’s why we need to keep having the conversations, the way we’ve all done in the past few months, especially those legends, the Yes canvassers. The actual haters are a tiny minority, and face it, there’s a few assholes in every place and every group of people. The No campaign has tried to divide the people; we need to flip them the finger and extend the love and compassion we have for pregnant women, to the Margarets of this country.

My faith in humanity is restored.

I went on to do archery in Massbrook and felt like I’d slipped into mythological Ireland. Dappled sunlight through the trees, birds singing, mild air, soft moss. Afterwards, I drove back home and went on to a birthday BBQ at a friend’s house, with more joyful, relieved people, great food and good music. It was a charmed day, every place and every person steeped in magic.

These past few weeks, I had seriously considered leaving the country. It felt hostile. At the same time, I’m so rooted in this place, interwoven with the very fabric of the land, the bones of the earth mother, that the mere thought of leaving is unsettling. I still might do it one day, I’m never saying never, but now I don’t feel like I “have to” any longer because I realise that it’s still, in fact, the place and the people I love.

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My Personal Manifesto (And A Quiz!)

My magic town Galway at dusk

Currently, I’m once again wondering whether blogging is still the right medium for me. Fewer and fewer people seem to read or engage in conversation, especially with my usually happy posts. I’m just not interested in holding a monologue! People are my lifeblood, one of my main passions actually, and talking to myself is not my thing.

To liven things up, I thought I’d do a fun “How well do you know the hag?” quiz. Answers are given at the end of this post. Here are the five questions:

1. What are my top three favourite bands of all time?
2. What’s my favourite symphony?
3. What’s my favourite piano concerto?
4. Who’s my favourite poet?
5. What’s my favourite movie?

Tee hee. If you manage all five, you really do know me well!

The thing is, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I love pretty much everyone, so people often get the impression that I’m an open book. But actually, I have a lot of different interests (multi-passionate…), from music and people and Coaching to birds and archery and HEMA and gaming, and I only let a very few, select people get really close. Those are treasured, trusted friends whose number I can literally count on the fingers of one hand.

I am, however, happy to share fairly personal things here on my website, as you’ve probably noticed. And I’ll continue to do so, as long as I get any sign from ye that you’re interested in reading this stuff. So, give me a sign! Joining the conversation by leaving a comment is one way; signing up to receive a quick email every time I post a new article, another.

Finch at my feeder

So what have I been up to? Working. A lot. I’ve been talking about building up my Coaching business for years, and then never quite seen it through. It’s got a lot to do with personal issues like fear of visibility, and “what will my friends think if I get successful?” I may even make money, shock horror! Of course, none of this is conscious thinking, but it’s there in the background of a woman who grew up in the 70s and 80s when every cultural message to women was: be good, be there for others, do what you want in theory – but whatever you do, don’t stick out.

Screw all that, is what I say with my conscious mind. And I’m making another effort to bring this across and see it through this time. Amazingly, whenever I mentioned anything about my business here in my personal blog, people have patently ignored it. I’m sure you never meant to do this, but: It really re-enforces the message of: “Yikes, who does she think she is? How embarrassing. Let’s just be quiet, hoping she’ll get the hint and drop the subject.”

I’m not going to drop it. The other day, I was thinking through the concept of Wild Spirits Coaching, and realised that what I’m doing is nothing less than changing the world. I’m helping people to break free from this nightmarish version of “reality” of working one’s ass off to pay bills, buy stuff, and consume, and for what? “Security”? I say screw security and go for joy instead. Dare to do what you love. Dare to build your life around it. If you’re ready to do that, come to me, I’ll be happy to help. You’re here for a reason, a purpose, and it’s time to find it and align your life with it.

My prices are among the most affordable in the industry because I want everyone to be able to do this if they’re serious about it. So get on my email list. Sign up for a free checklist on beating procrastination, while you’re about it. You’ll get weekly Coaching magic into your inbox to boot, and no spam ever – solemn hagish promise.

The world needs this stuff. I’ve had it with playing small. If this makes you uncomfortable, then trust me, I get it. I was for the longest time, but I’m done. Don’t expect to ever see me return to silence and “normality”. The norm is a nightmare we badly need to wake up from. The real world is beautiful, so are people, and life is an ecstatic adventure, if only you dare to take your eyes off the media for long enough to notice. I’m a herald of this beautiful reality. In a way I feel like Morpheus in the Matrix movies, waking people up out of the artificial illusion of life and to what’s real.

What’s real is unconditional love, joy, passion, and authenticity. It’s also people feeling shit and battling trauma and loss and all that. But they’re choosing to battle, not succumb. They’re choosing joy. In a world of Trumps and Brexits, nothing’s more revolutionary than being relentlessly optimistic and overflowingly happy.

If you dare to be all that, then you’re part of my tribe. Welcome. If you’re not, I still love you, but you might not find much to your taste on this website (or my Coaching website, for that matter).

Nerdy hag. This is me, too.

Here are the answers to the hag quiz!

1. What are my top three favourite bands of all time?
Number one: Yes (or rather, whatever they did in the 70s). Example here.
Number two: Jethro Tull. My favourite song here.
Number three: the early Marillion years, with Fish as their singer. Another favourite song.

2. What’s my favourite symphony?
Brahm’s 4th.

3. What’s my favourite piano concerto?
Prokofiev’s 1st.

4. Who’s my favourite poet?
Hugo von Hofmannsthal. You really need to know German to appreciate him. Absolute magician with language.

5. What’s my favourite movie?
The Age of Innocence. My favourite male and female actors together, incredible dramatisation of an amazing novel. Perfection.

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Birthday, Bows and Birds

Here’s a rather dark video with lots of appropriately blurry pictures of the party last Saturday. I had a great time dancing and hugging people I love. Inga, Rachel and Maeve had even come up from Cork!

It was my friend Andrew’s birthday that day and mine yesterday, so we celebrated together and he even organised a DJ. All three of us took turns putting on music, so yes, I did get a chance to play some 80s – the good kind, I hasten to add. It made me realise how many younger people I know – those 30-somethings didn’t know half the tunes! Makes me even more determined to put together a full night of 80s music somewhere, some time. Watch this space.

Dancing with Rae
Hag DJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It feels more like a birthday week to me this year, which is brilliant. The morning after the party I got more hugs and presents, this time from our lovely people at the Gort Community Market. And yesterday – my actual birthday – I dragged Jack along with me to Mayo. We had lunch in my favourite cafe, they refused to let me pay for it (awww!), and then we went to Massbrook for a round of archery.

The weather was spectacular, almost no wind and bright sunshine. It was icy cold, though; we had on so many layers, it felt like wearing a duvet.

Jack shooting his longbow
Me with my recurve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, Jack actually makes longbows, he’s a master bowyer by trade and rather scarily good at what he does. I know I have a lot of readers who are into traditional archery too, so I just thought I’d give you the link to his new website Living Longbows (still a work in progress, but definitely worth bookmarking). My own longbow is in the first blog entry!

So, I’ve had a wonderful birthday and I’m a very happy 48-years-old hag. I mentioned before that I’m currently using every cent to pay back a rather hefty loan, but right now I feel rich, and it’s not just because of the presents – although they were spot-on!

Even the birds got something: Jack and Ziva and the hobbits gave me a metal-grid feeder for fatballs (among other things) and my rooks are fairly pissed off with me. The smaller birds did exactly what my budgies used to do whenever I put anything new into the aviary: They were scared of it at first, then patently ignored it for a while, and then their curiosity got the better of them and they started eating from it. Bets are now open on how long it’s going to take the rooks to figure out that they can simply lift the lid and take out a fatball.

Before I go, here’s a picture of me tired on the evening of my birthday:

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You’re Invited

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Gort Community Market January 2018

I don’t have a lot of pictures that aren’t of birds these days, so I thought I’d use one from our latest Gort Community Market day. It was soooo beautiful! Lovely people and great craic as usual. Since it’s winter now, we’ve also added open fires and a little market extension in the cosy back room of Hennelley’s Bar, where people gather around the fireplace and chat. The whole thing is the perfect environment for a cuddly hag.

Before I continue: Did you know you can get a sweet little email from me every time I update my blog? All you need to do is subscribe here. Obviously, I’ll guard your email address the way a dragon defends its hoard. Nobody else will ever see it, promise!

I’m now going to write about woman stuff, so if you’re squeamish or don’t want to know about these things, simply skip this and the next two paragraphs. Start reading again below the picture and you’ll find the invitation mentioned in the title. But for now, it’s pussy zone and if you’re still reading, I’m going to assume you’re fine with that.

You see, I haven’t had a period in five weeks and two days. Now, my cycle’s never been all that regular to begin with, but it tends to be below four weeks – something like 26 days – rather than longer. And now I’m fantasising about finally starting menopause and can’t contain my excitement. The time of its onset seems to run in families and my mum as well as my sisters all started perimenopause around this age. All I can think is, please pleeeeeeaaaaase let this be what it is! Yes yes, I know, hot flashes and depression. But they’ll pass, eventually.

The point is, I can’t wait to get rid of this bloody (literally) nuisance every month, and please don’t tell me about my divine femininity now! I’m on board with all that, I honour and welcome it, but I’ve also had a really painful time of my period for the past 20 years or so and I’m so done. I’m looking forward to being just like a guy – being able to run around, go camping, swing swords, and be fully functional instead of curled around a hot water bottle in excrutiating pain every few weeks. So, fingers crossed this is indeed the start of the whole thing getting less and less frequent until it finally stays away. Yay!

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Happy hag in the car

Here’s where you continue reading if you skipped the previous paragraphs. You’ve probably been wondering what invitation I’ve been going on about? The things is, I’ve a hag birthday coming up on the 13th of February, and since next month’s Gort Market is on the 11th, I’ve decided to have a little – or a big – celebration on Saturday the 10th. I’m not sure about the details yet, but it’ll involve good music and dancing and will likely happen either in Gort or Ennis. Soooo, if you’re close enough to visit, and you read this and I’ve forgotten to invite you on Facebook, do get in touch because you’re most certainly invited.

What I’d actually love to do is the 80s disco I’ve been sitting on for years and years. I’ve never DJ-ed before in my life, but I’ve been putting together a playlist. Without repeating a single artist, I’m now at 153 songs and counting. It’s going to be epic – if it happens. Actually, it’s more like when it happens, because I’ll do it one day for sure, it’s just not certain yet whether it’ll happen on my birthday. If it doesn’t, we’ll just go dancing somewhere else. I hope the Gort Market folks will all come, then we can all be tired and hungover the next morning at the market together!

If you’re too far away to make it: Don’t worry. We’ll take lots of incriminating pictures.

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Bliss

In Athenry (my nearest town)

I accidentally joined the nicest gym in the world.

Part of my benefits at my job is a gym re-imbursement. It explicitly excludes martial arts involving weapons, so I’ve always ignored it so far. But now, after almost a year and a half of forced inactivity due to injury, now that my muscles are once again non-existent and so is my endurance, I could actually use a few classes to build up some strength again. And so, in the proverbial last minute before 2017 was up, I signed up at a gym in Athenry over the phone.

Before I continue: Remember what I said about people only reading the first few paragraphs of my blog articles? It’s happened again with my entry last week. Hardly anyone even got to the juicy bits further down, so please please, bear with me. My articles aren’t that long, after all!

Today I went to my first class. I used to go to large gyms in Austria and loved the anonymity, the way you could show up to a class one week and a different one the next and nobody would notice. Here, it’s different, and to my surprise I love it. I was introduced to the class (I don’t remember all the names, but give me a few weeks!) and looked after, encouraged, and had a good laugh with my training partner. Oh, and in the end it was: “Well done for keeping up!” and: “See you on Wednesday!”

It was a circuit-style class, deceptively “simple” but by the third round I had serious trouble sticking it out. Now I’m back home and trying to determine what’ll hurt most tomorrow: My arms and chest muscles, my thighs, or my abdominals.

And I’m ecstatic. I’m finally, finally moving again!! The last year and a half have been tough. You may vaguely remember an entry from 2016 where I explained how my energy is kinetic (in the last four paragraphs of that article, actually – in case you’re going to click the link), how I slip into depression if I don’t move. I haven’t quite been that low lately, but the overflowing love and joy had become infrequent spikes, rather than a continuous flow. Being constantly sick since September didn’t help (I’m still coughing but I believe that this time, I’m actually getting better).

Getting back into it is going to be tough, too, but I’m loving every moment of it. I’ve got my life back. Again. I’m going to go slowly this time, listen to my body, take care of it, and not push myself into injury again, that’s a solemn pledge.

It’s always so good to be recognisably me again: The dancing hag in black velvet and lace. Silly, awkward, happy, in love with people and everything else. Such as my birdies. I said the other week that I used to have the cutest budgies, and now I’ve got the cutest garden birds. The air is full of chirps again.

And tomorrow I’ll go to Mayo to recharche my soul. I’ll get a haircut and dye, have lunch at McHughs, and get new arrows from Harald – and if the weather’s not too horrible, I’ll go on to Massbrook afterwards. In other words, I’ll have my favourite kind of day bar none; it’s like a very special holiday every time, anticipated with tingly, delirious happiness, a bit like Christmas used to be when I was little.

Mini hag, ca. 1974

All’s as it should be. 2018 has got off to a great start!

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New Year’s Hag

Every year when I wake up on the 1st of January, the first thing I do is to play U2’s “New Year’s Day” at top volume and dance to it. It’s easy to see why I live alone.

But seriously, the song’s got such energy and promise. It’s exactly the way I want to start a year, in motion and breathless and happy, music in every cell of my body! I did it again this year, although I’ve a bit of a fuzzy head and haven’t slept a lot over the past week or so because of my persistent cough.

If you read this and you have any idea why someone who’s normally healthy as a horse and gets the flu about once every decade, can be sick on and off with light flu-light symptoms for 2-3 months, do let me know please. I’d say I’m allergic to something in my house, if the exact same thing hadn’t happened in the last two places I lived in. This is the third year that I’m more or less sick from October to December – in this case, January, because it’s been worse this year and there’s still no end in sight.

It’s getting on my nerves. Like I said, I don’t have much experience of being ill, and I don’t deal well with it. I want to be fit and move and exercise and jump around and be happy. Instead, I’m stuck at home most of the time, feeling tired. It sucks! I try and make the most of it: For example, I decided not to go out on New Year’s Eve but stay at home and raise a mug of hot mulled wine to my loved ones at midnight, which I did, outside my beautiful little cabin, hugged by a beautiful mild wind and with the nearly-full moon above my head.

The moon just after midnight last night

Staying at home has the additional advantage of saving money. I’ve made a pact to pay back the rest of my student loan early (if you’re wondering why I’m still dealing with this in my 40s, it’s because I was exempt for much of my 20s and 30s – long story). It’s a huge commitment and means I’ll be very, very skint until the summer, but then it’ll be done! Right now I need to get people to visit me, rather than the other way around. The occasional trip to Mayo, and East Clare maybe once or twice a month is all I can afford these days.

Feels good to be taking control, though. Last night, I’ve also reviewed my goals for 2017 and set new ones, and with a slight shock I realised that I haven’t really achieved much of what I’d set out to do last year. This is a first, by the way, I usually manage most of the list, sometimes all of it. Thinking back, it’s been a good year anyway, full of people and adventure, so I’m not taking it to heart. It’s been a year of great intentions and not much follow-through but much in terms of experiences and love. In 2018, I’ll try and combine the two.

Whenever I think of what I need to do to get to my goals, I keep coming back to the same thing I coach people about: Prioritise my passions. As long as I let joy guide my decisions and my daily work, I’m going places. It’s not as easy and obvious as it sounds, because it also means that I won’t put undue focus on things like my job. It’s just not a priority, I needed a reminder of that. Something to work on with my own Coach!

Whilst we’re speaking of Coaching: I’m offering a chance to win a free 1-on-1 session worth 149 EUR this week, and it’s exclusive to subscribers of my Monday Sparkles newsletter. If you’re not subscribed yet, goeth forth and do it! If you subscribe by tomorrow (Tuesday), I’ll manually send you today’s newsletter so you can still participate. As with all communications from me, your email address is completely safe.

What else is new? Oh, I had some interesting conversations following the previous article on our ageist attitude. One insight from those is that it’s ageist even when someone tells me: “You don’t look 47 at all!” I know it’s meant as a compliment and I appreciate the good intentions, but it’s basically saying “Gods, you’re old. But hey, you don’t look it, at least.” I maintain that 47, or 57, or 67 aren’t “old”, they’re right in the middle of life when things can still improve.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to descend into another rant. Today, I just wanted to wish you a very Happy New Year and much joy and love in 2018!

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You’re Ageist

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Tits are so tiny, they usually sit *in* the bowl rather than on its edge, much like Dagobert Duck bathing in his gold.

This year, I find myself quite unexpectedly in a festive mood. I think I’ve managed to truly detach myself from the materialistic aspects of “the season” and now I can appreciate all the magic and the true meaning of Advent, the expectation of the returning light. And oh how I crave light. Winter’s darkness can be cosy, yes, but to me it’s mostly oppressive. Solstice morning, the sunrise which proves that light is coming back and the days are starting to get longer, is one of my favourite mornings of the year.

I’ll write more about the year past when it’s time; today, I have something else to talk about. But before I do, I want you to take a moment to admire the fluffy featheriness of the birds at my feeder! I get robins, blue tits, sparrows and the occasional crow. By now, I know the regulars and their habits and favourites, and they’re beginning to lose their fear of me.

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A jackdaw sifting through the snow, after inhaling the cashews I’d put on the steps earlier this morning.

Before I find my stride and keep talking about birds for the rest of this article, I’ll try and arrive at the subject I actually meant to discuss. If you’ve known me for more than five minutes, you will have heard me talk about it before; I’ve written articles about getting older and the wild woman over 40. To paraphrase, I don’t buy the bullshit our society puts out about being “old” when you’re 30, 40, or even 70. It used to be true, but these days we live so much longer and it’s insane to spent 3/4 of our lifetimes feeling old.

The problem is that we’re ageist. I know the title of this article is a little provocative, but the thing is, I’m ageist too. It’s so ingrained in us, we just can’t manage to escape. Although the more progressive and conscious of us have managed to become sensitive of racism, sexism, and all manner of -isms, we’re still raving ageists, and nobody seems to even notice.

Don’t believe it? When’s the last time you’ve said: “Haha, well I’m getting old!” as a joke? I know I have, and quite frequently. We happily divide living people into “generations” as if that were a thing, as if someone born one year is somehow completely different from a person born the next. It’s a lazy way of not engaging with individuals, and realising how amazing they are, and how much we all have in common, from 8 to 108 years old.

Don’t get me wrong, please: This is not about denying that age and differences exist. They do. What we need to do is re-interpret the differences and the changes as we age, as positive, something to be desired rather than be ashamed or afraid of.

People will point out to me so-called proof that ageing is, indeed, an issue. I say: Of course things change, I just refuse to interpret the changes as a. universally bad and b. an inevitable result of getting older. Here are a few examples:

  1. “Joints do get creaky and injuries happen faster.” Yes, they are, but I argue it’s because of use – wear and tear – rather than age. No, it’s not always the same thing. A ballet dancer might have completely ruined their ankles or knees by the time they hit 30. I dance by just jumping around to good music, so I lived to 47 before my knees started protesting earlier this year. The point is, wear and tear is independent of age and it can also be slowed down if we use our bodies wisely and look after them – which we, sadly, don’t do enough but can learn. I’m starting to, slowly.
  2. “Science tells us that cell regeneration slows down with age.” True, but there are many stories of people who made miracle recoveries from things they technically shouldn’t have been able to bounce back from. Medicine can’t explain it, not by a long road. In most cases, recoveries are attributed to attitude and mental strength, so here’s something you don’t even need your body to work on.
  3. “We get grey, wrinkly, and saggy.” So? I’m objectively a lot less attractive than I was at, say, 20, and yet I feel about 400% prettier and sexier than I did back then. Funny, isn’t it? I may be less firm than I used to be, but you know what, so are the guys I fancy these days. No big deal.

My point is, it’s all so bloody subjective, there’s no point trying to tie it down to a number. And if it’s subjective anyway, isn’t it about time we used this to our own advantage? Why don’t we go and define age as marvellous? I’m honestly so much happier than ever. I’ll be 50 in just over two years, and I can’t wait to be 60, 70 and 80. I’ve plans to build up my body and especially my muscles so they can support my joints better. I aim to be in the best shape of my life by the time I hit my 50s.

We’ve expanded our life expectancy, now we have to learn to make something out of it. Otherwise, in the words of a wise person, instead of living longer we simply die longer. And that was never the idea.

All right, I’m hopping off the soap box. Here’s another bird to make you smile:

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If the pictures look blurry, it’s because they were all taken through my – not entirely clean – glass doors.

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Why I Fail As A Hippie

When I tell people that I’m into historical swordfighting and/or traditional archery, there are a number of typical reactions I’ve become very familiar with. It goes something like this:

Me: I do historical swordfighting.

Guy: Chicks with swords are hot.

Me:

Or if I’m talking to a woman, especially one of the enlightened/spiritual sort, then I often get something like: “Oh you warrior woman!” or “Reclaiming your strength, bravo!” To which I react with something akin to a mixure of helplessness and guilt. Because what I really think is: “Ummmm, no… I mainly just like to hit things.”

Now before I continue: I am a hippie, often call myself one. I’m looking for ways of living a more sustainable life, and I’m most definitely looking to get out of the society-prescribed “sell a significant chunk of your waking hours to an employer, pay bills and shut up” status quo. I’m a card-carrying tree-hugger (and everyone-hugger, in fact) and a pagan hag who believes in free love and true connection over “ownership” monogamous relationships of the type society sanctions as the only valid version.

But when I’m among friends, I often feel like a hippie fail. I don’t join multi-culti workshops to sing to my womb or group-healing sessions of my divine feminine. And here’s yet another disclaimer before I continue: Some of the most amazing humans I’ve ever met are into this kind of stuff, so let me make absolutely clear that I’m not dissing it as such. I love everything that empowers people, and if this is the kind of thing that empowers you, go for it, ya hear me? I mean this with 100% sincerity and not even an ounce of condescension.

Different things empower different people. You needn’t justify what you do, and I don’t justify what I do either – what I share here is done in the name of just that, sharing. I’m always interested in how other people tick, so if anyone’s interested in how I tick, here it is. It’s not up for debate in the sense of comparison or judgment. It is what it is. We clear on that? Good.

So here’s the deal. I grew up in a developed “Western” country which taught me a lot about rationality, words, and logic (which was great). Where it fell down was in areas of spirituality, pleasure, the feminine principle, and my pussy. This has certainly damaged me and I have a shitload of healing yet to do. It’s just that I choose to do these things in deep ritual, on my own, or if push comes to shove, with a therapist (haven’t resorted to that in many years, but would again if it should become necessary). It’s what works for me.

Areas I didn’t have to heal, that a lot of others carry deep wounds in, include sexuality, strength, and owning my power. Not that I’m perfect in any of these, and indeed I continuously work on developing them. But I’m not nearly as wounded as many people I know. For example, I’ve never had a single negative sexual experience. While I’ve known condescension and sexism, I’ve never been assaulted or abused. I’ve always known my body and my sexuality and discovered sexual pleasure as a small child.

I’ve also been blessed by knowing that I wasn’t into “girl toys” like dolls. And if I do historical martial arts, I don’t do them to reclaim anything. I do them because I’ve always been fascinated with swords, and blades in general, and with history. Going to the gym makes my brain die of boredom, and I found that swinging swords is a lot more fun. So it’s ideal for me.

Traditional archery is about me being the cuddliest creature you’ve ever met. I am sense-ual in the literal meaning, and archery to me is about feeling the living wood under my hands and the whole beautiful fluidity of shooting, the zen of being in the forest and learning a very practical skill that could conceivably come in handy, in an emergency (I’m non-violent but like the thought of knowing these things in case I ever need them).

I’m not very New Age at all. In many respects, I’m astonishingly conservative. And while I love world culture, I focus on my own heritage, which I believe has been neglected and almost lost in many ways, due to a mix of patriarchy and an influx of foreign religions which have taken over. I love learning about all the world, but my impression is that many people turn to far-Eastern/Native American spirituality or culture or martial arts etc etc, not just out of interest in these things – which is great – but also a perceived gap in a similarly valuable tradition here in the West of Europe.

Our own traditions have been bulldozered over (by our own rulers, no less) for so long, there are only scraps left. But they are there. And before I learn more about anything else, I’ll practice European Martial Arts and archery, and Western Spirituality. I’m not into “goddesses” and crystals (which are mined by tearing up the body of our mother) and chakras, I’m into rolling in the mud and relating to the traditional elements, learning the energies of the plants and the stones and the people, directing them, and hearing the old stories and mythologies.

I’m into meeting the gods of the old pantheons, who are for the most part overjoyed to be heard and seen (and not mixed with deities from entirely different countries and cultures). I’m into experiencing, rather than reading about it. I’m into orgasm rather than meditation. Oh of course I do meditation, too, but I have so much feminine principle to catch up with, it’ll take me at least some more years of pleasure research until I’ll have headspace for anything else (and if you’ve no clue what I’m talking about, read Mama Gena’s Pussy book already).

If that makes me less of a hippie, so be it! It’s my own path. I’m happy supporting everyone else on theirs.

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My Little Paradise

See the little cottage just behind the main house? That’s it.

I’ve such news! After five months of searching in vain, I finally found a new place to rent.

The downside first: It’s further away from here than I like. Then again, I searched around Gort, South Co. Galway and the Northern half of Co. Clare all the way down to Ennis and to the coast in the West, and haven’t found anything. The few places that were detached and affordable, didn’t have broadband of the quality my job requires.

Enter this new place. I had a bit of a tingly feeling about it from the start. And it’s absolutely perfect: Small, yes, but now that I’ve made the sacrifice to let go of the cutest, I don’t need more than one bedroom any more, and it’s very spacious and not at all cluttered. There’s also storage space for some of my furniture, so I won’t have to sell all of it!

The cottage is behind the main house where my completely lovely new landlord and landlady live. I can’t believe my luck, we kind of met and loved each other, they’re so sweet and kind and generous and have basically adopted me as soon as I stepped in. I’ll be completely independent, with my own meters and bills, but if anything’s the matter, they’re right there (and so is an adorable little dog I’ve threatened to  steal, hehe).

It’s just sooooo quiet. Not just detached, but in the middle of the countryside, a few houses around but at a good distance, little traffic from the road out front. I believe I’ll spend a week just sleeping when I arrive, and I can’t wait, although I’ll have plenty to do until I get there – packing, organising, disassembling furniture, and of course still working and Coaching along the way. But it’ll all be worth it. Gort is still within reach and so is East Clare, so it’s not like I’m falling off the face of the earth! As a bonus, Mayo is closer. I’ll have just about half an hour to Ballinrobe and an hour to Massbrook from now on.

For those of you who know Ireland, my new place is a few miles North of Athenry. It’s not a spectacular part of the country, but lovely all the same, with rolling green fields and little rivers. And did I mention the quiet?

So now I’m busy planning and hoping I’ll get a bit of rest in between, because I am battling the beginnings of what could be the flu. One thing I can’t afford now is sickness! So far I’ve managed to keep on top of it, I’m a little tired and fuzzy-brained but otherwise okay. I’ll just have to take things slowly for a few more days.

This morning, I drove up to the new place to pay my deposit and get the keys. My new landlady hugged me and said she couldn’t wait for me to move in! I assured her that I’m counting the days and hours. In just over two weeks, I’ll be in my own little paradise, and I’m still pinching myself because I can’t quite believe it.

Happy days!

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Travels In The New World

I’ve been back for almost three weeks, but it feels much shorter. I still have traces of jet lag and am constantly grumbling about the cooler temperatures around here every day. So, yes, it was an amazing experience and apart from many heart-warming encounters with beautiful people and sights I’ll never forget in my life, it’s also given me a lot of food for thought.

What’s Nova Scotia like, then?

Imagine a land almost the size of the Republic of Ireland, with a quarter of the population. I’ll never complain about losing arrows in Massbrook again, because the density of the forest in NS meant I lost almost *every* arrow I shot into the underbrush instead of into a target. I saw a deer cantering across a highway (yes, really. We’re talking a massive wide road with two lanes in each direction), seals, whales, and more wild birds than you can shake a stick at.

Back in the middle ages, Ireland used to be known as the “wooded isle”. I imagine it must have looked a lot like that, back then. Basically, Nova Scotia is trees and water, both the sea and lakes are everywhere. There’s pretty picture-book cottages, lighthouses and more lighthouses. A jaw-droppingly beautiful coastline. Cliffs and beaches. And in between are some of the loveliest, warmest, funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.

The temperatures were perfect, just warm enough to be summery without being sweltering – around 20-27 degrees apart from one rainy day when it was closer to 18. I went hiking that day in spite of the rain – I live in Ireland, if there’s one thing that doesn’t put me off, it’s rain – and saw a hauntingly beautiful fairy forest on a small peninsula with wild seas rushing all around it:

Every evening (apart from the last day; I was too heartbroken then), I wrote down a few highlights of the day, lest I forget. I thought I’ll just share these here. Make of them what you will!

 

21.7.

It’s the evening of my first day, and I’ve already:

  • Danced
  • Given someone a gift
  • Got a warm, heartfelt hug
  • Connected with amazing people (a Galway woman, among others)
  • Listened to a live band

 

22.7.

Today, I:

  • Had a lovely talk with a new friend
  • Got more hugs
  • Saw some of the most beautiful nature ever
  • Saw wild geese and a doe
  • Climbed a cliff
  • Inhaled 340g of raspberries in under 10 minutes
  • Drove more than I thought I could drive in one day
  • Saw purple clouds
  • Climbed into bed like a little child – the mattress is so thick, it increases the height of the bed by a lot!

 

23.7.

Today, I:

  • Made another new friend and had a great talk
  • Shot in the BANS shoot with my new longbow
  • Got more hugs still
  • Saw amazing scenery
  • Saw a lighthouse
  • Had dinner on my bed in the B&B and it was heaven!

 

24.7.

Today, I:

  • Wore a dress
  • Made friends with some trees
  • Climbed to the lamp of a lighthouse
  • Sat by the quiet waters of the Bay of Fundy at high tide
  • Met a sea-hag
  • Talked to a painter
  • Fell in love with a town
  • Got lost and drove in the wrong direction
  • Saw a historic ship

 

25.7.

Today, I:

  • Went hiking through a magical forest by the sea
  • Stepped ankle deep into mud
  • Stood on a cliff over the sea and listened to the waves
  • Got more hugs
  • Found a wonderful cafe
  • Closed an important chapter in my life

 

26.7.

Today, I:

  • Nearly got eaten by biting insects
  • Walked around a lake with no other human nearby
  • Saw 300-million-years-old fossils
  • Had lunch with a lovely older couple from the States
  • Saw seals and sea birds
  • Drove along the most beautiful coastline
  • Missed my new favourite cafe (arrived after closing time)

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