Waaaaaaaaaaah!

piano
My new (used) piano

After careful deliberation, I decided that the above was the most appropriate title for this post. Oh man, if only you knew.

I got my piano! See the above picture. It’s fairly crappy, and yet, for the price it’s actually quite decent, and best of all, it’s mine! I considered borrowing the money to buy it, but then decided to use my own money. Which feels fantastic.

The incredibly painful process of trying to recover some of my former skill has begun. I was prepared for this, which doesn’t make it any less horrible. At the same time, it’s sheer bliss simply being at a piano again, and it brings up all kinds of memories, good and bad, from the first three decades of my life. I now get to sort through which parts of me I’ll keep and which I’ve definitely outgrown and therefore won’t pick up again.

Having my own money has other advantages, too. In the aftermath of paying back my last loans, I can once again use my salary for stuff like savings and books. I also have a travel budget!

Remember the “I want to go to the Maldives” travel post a few months ago? And then the “I’m going to get a piano again” post? It feels like I’m now combining both, on a mission to regain even more pieces of myself.

I already told you about my trip to Vienna in March. Holy smokes, the excitement! And now that I’ve actually got a piano again, and cry and curse and do horrible boring but necessary etudes to try and coax my fingers into moving again, I use listening to music as an antidote. Kissin is definitely my No. 1 pianist these days, but I’ve got other favourites to rediscover again.

In the course of that I realised that my first love among pianists, Ivo Pogorelich, is actually going to play a recital in Nuremberg in February. When I call him my first love, I mean that literally: When I was 18 and other girls in my class had posters of rockstars in their rooms, I had an album cover (this was vinyl, so a fair size) with his face pinned on the wall over my piano. He was and remains the most unusual of living classical pianists and a category of his own, pure genius, and when I saw that recital announced for a Sunday four days after my 49th birthday, I started doing some rapid maths.

Long story short, I’m going to fly to Germany where I’ll see my dad and stay with my friends the first night, then take the train to Nuremberg and go to the recital, stay at a small hotel, and then go back on the train in the morning. I’ll visit dad one more time and then fly back home.

My travel budget is now spoken for up to and including June 2019, haha!

To say that I’m excited is the understatement of the century. I’m positively vibrating in ecstasy. This is my birthday present to myself, exactly 31 years after Eveline gave me the ticket to my first Pogorelich recital for my 18th birthday (yes, she was “only” my piano teacher and not yet a close personal friend at the time. Did I mention she was amazing?). I came home as though bludgeoned; the experience completely revolutionised my understanding of music and changed the course of my life.

Just listen to one of these (they’re six pieces)

I feel like I’m about to come full circle. As other circles are closing, too: This multi-passionate is realising what “passions first” truly means. I’m exercising and getting stronger. I do traditional archery at the most beautiful range ever. I practice the piano and listen to music. I dance, freestyle on my own and Salsa with Salsa Bay Galway. I coach wild spirits to break up with “busy” and focus on what lights them up. I feed the wild birds and am planning on creating a paradise for them once I get my own place.

I no longer swing swords, but then I do have a chronic injury, and maybe there’s a reason why I can no longer do an activity that can and does lead to hand/finger injuries on occasion (hello – piano!). There are other passions which are parked right now, gaming for example, because being a multi-passionate always means focusing on a few passions at a time. It’s just the way we roll (and maintain a semblance of sanity).

79 days to go! I wish I could fast-forward the time. Or hibernate. Wake me the day before my birthday, all right?

In reality, I’ve lots to do until then. You should join me at Wild Spirits Coaching, by the way, I’m planning a stress-free holidays challenge and lots of goodies. Join up on www.wildspiritscoaching.com (fill in the form in “Wild Freebies” or take 10 minutes to do the free Life Audit, and then fill in that form) so you won’t miss it.

I’m off to practice some more. Grounding, what’s that? I’m floating somewhere up there.

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Return To The Heart

Eveline, Vienna 1997

The above picture shows one of the two most influential people in my life (outside of family). Eveline was my piano teacher throughout my childhood and adolescence, and later became a dear friend. She taught me pretty much everything I know about the piano and was an amazing teacher. And when I was in my 20s, we’d frequently visit each other and go on adventures, “stalking” our favourite pianists, slipping into rehearsals where we had no business being present, and sneaking into the back entrance of concert halls to get a handshake and perhaps an autograph (Eveline), and basically faint from being so smitten (me).

I’ll never forget her. She had vast knowledge, strong opinions, and a dry, deadpan sense of humour that still cracks me up whenever I think back. There’s been an Eveline-shaped hole in my heart ever since her untimely death in 2011.

Music is one of the few constants in my life. Being a multi-passionate, I’ve often moved from one shiny thing to the next, and still do. But I’ve always loved music and I’ve always loved the piano more than anything else in the world. If anyone had told me when I was growing up, that there would be a time, years even, without me even practising, I’d have laughed at them.

To put this in context: When I almost died of pneumonia at 19 and was only released from hospital for Easter on the condition that I strictly kept to my bed, I waited until my parents went out grocery shopping, and then staggered to my piano to play. Years later, when I had a broken shoulderblade, I took my arm out of the sling bandage so I could practice, until there was an audible “crack” and jarring pain. I could literally not live without playing. It was my life.

The picture of Eveline was taken in a flat in Vienna where I lived for a few months after getting my M.A. in Frankfurt. I spent the summer there before moving on to Romania to teach at two universities in Iasi. My most important criterion for choosing a flat was that it had to have a piano. This is me at the place in Vienna, probably playing my favourite piece of all time, a Nocturne by Chopin:

In Vienna, 1997

But it all started way earlier. Here’s me at around age 14 or so, practising with my school friend Sandra, also one of Eveline’s pupils. We often played four-handed pieces together.

Sandra (foreground) and me at the piano, ca. 1984

I always had a piano, although I didn’t always practise very regularly, for example during the last years of my M.A. when I was working to make ends meet and studying at the same time. But I never gave up on it. I needed that sensual feeling of the cool keys under my hands, and the full-body experience of playing, the keys with my hands and the pedals with my feet.

Until the early 2000s, when I ran into financial trouble – you may have heard the story – and couldn’t even afford having a piano any longer. Then came the move back to Ireland and working 16 hours a day to dig myself out (which I managed, by the way), and after that followed the depression and the “dark years”, when my only ray of light was coaching and my inspiring clients, as well as the coaching qualification I got.

And then I re-emerged in 2015 and began the long journey of healing. Like I said in my last post: I’m amazed that three years later, I’m still putting together the pieces. I feel like this is the last one, the most important one.

Many years ago, and once again in my magic city Vienna, I discovered the best pianos in the world. This is completely subjective – there are quite a few excellent brands, and which one a player prefers, depends pretty much on personal taste. When I first touched an August Förster piano, I fell in love, instantly and irrevocably. It’s got the most amazing attack/”feel” to it, soft as velvet and yet crystal clear, and it sounds, oh man, out of this world.

Here’s my dream piano:

Piano by August Förster

The problem is that it costs about 14,000 EUR. Which isn’t expensive, by the way. These pianos are built by hand by highly trained craftsmen in an insanely painstaking process. It’s worth every cent, but I still don’t have 14 grand lying around, as my dear Inga puts it. So I thought I’d get to it after I buy my own house and can save up for something else again.

The point of this post – yes, there is one! – is that I realised I can’t afford to put off playing any longer, just because I can’t afford the piano of my dreams just yet. I’ll still buy it one day, perhaps 3-5 years from now, but I need to get back into practising, and pronto. I need to, if I want to have any hope of recovering a degree of my lost skill. And I definitely need to in order to complete the healing of my heart and soul and life. Nothing matters more than this.

And so I started researching and found that there’s a small but fine and very well-run piano store just down the road in Athenry! Where I found a decent, beautifully restored second-hand piano for just over two grand. It’ll do me very well for recovering my skill and practising for the next few years.

I’m no longer waiting for life to happen. I’m alive now. When I move out (and hopefully into my own place), I’ll pay for professional transport of the piano. It’s affordable, and worth it. And I’m practically vibrating with excitement and anticipation. Pictures will follow once it’s arrived!

For now, here’s the piano I learned to play on, in my parent’s house. Another excellent German manufacturer (just like Förster), Schimmel.

Me at my parents’, with my gorgeous old Schimmel piano

Soon, I’ll be complete again.

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Vienna By Night

Wien bei Nacht (Vienna By Night), by Reinhard Fendrich

(pleeeaaaaase, read to the end, this isn’t just about one subject)

Being a bird person, I’m not talking about “birthing” something when I describe a new thing I bring into the world. No, it feels more like I’m a hen sitting on her eggs, incubating not a fluffy feathery chick (although, come to think of it… they are very cute), but my own work.

I’m all kinds of fed up.

I’m also all kinds of happy and on fire with joy.

It’s one heck of a mix, I’m telling ya. So the story is, I’m carrying this amazing message into the world, of doing what lights you up and not just thinking about it and going: “One day, I’ll…” and shit, but actually feeling the joy of putting it into practice. And it’s transformational for my clients and a huge privilege for me to witness and help with.

But. It’s not happening fast enough. I’m not a patient hag. I’ve dreamt for long enough, I need this stuff to manifest already, dammit (I feel like this cartoon of the buddhist whose apprentice goes: “Come on, blissful detachment – I haven’t got all day!”). Most importantly, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m capable of so much more.

Coaching is the way it is for a reason. That reason is because it just works. And yet, there are new ways being discovered all the time, and I’m an innovator by nature. It’s dangerous to come into a new discipline and try to revolutionise it all before learning the ins and outs of the existing system, but I’m rather familiar and comfortable with the coaching toolkit and so I feel ready to… well… break new ground.

I currently have a week off work and it’s frustrating because I know I need at least another week to even begin developing this. There’s nothing worse than never getting to what I need to do! This is exactly why I’ve talked about growing my biz for so long and up to about six months ago, never really taken consistent action.

This is it, and I’m announcing it to the world:

You’re going to see (even) less of me for the coming year. I’ll be working almost all the time. By autumn of 2019, if I haven’t made significant progress in my business that makes it feasible that I’ll be able to live off it without a daytime job at some point, I’ll make a change.

Because I no longer want to never have time to spare for people I love. If it doesn’t work, I’ll either stick with my job, or go freelance, or think of something, but I won’t work as much anymore. That’s a promise.

Until then, though, I’ll disappear. And here’s where I hope my friends won’t give up on me. It means I may miss the occasional party. The Gort Community Markets (which kinda died this summer, but are now thankfully being picked up by a bunch of amazing people who’re making a go of it). Workshops, gigs, gatherings. Please don’t forget me, I’m still here. And keep inviting me – if I can make it, I’ll come. And you’re always welcome here, as long as I know a few days in advance. Deal?

To stay sane, I’ll keep walking my talk and working on my own passions, and I’ll also break the 1 1/2 years of no holidays anywhere by actually going to Vienna in March. I know it’s a few months still but gods I’m so bloody excited, I could jump up and down all day! I can’t even begin to describe the emotions flooding me. So many memories. So much I’d clean forgotten in the “dark years”, things that are part of me, of the fabric of my very soul. Music, mostly. In March, I’ll hear Kissin in the Musikverein and see a stellar production of Figaro in the State Opera. Oh gods, I can’t wait.

Check out one of my favourite recordings of Kissin:

Evgeny Kissin playing Liszt’s piano transcription of the Schubert song “Gretchen am Spinnrade”

I’ll write more about Vienna next time, suffice it to say that I can’t believe I’ve existed so long without visiting. This used to be my life. I dislike cities usually, but this is one’s akin to the love of my life. Pure ecstasy.

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My Irresistible Love

Clew Bay
Clew Bay, Co. Mayo

So the “Wanderlust” post I made a while ago? I need to qualify this a little, and at the same time, I can introduce you to the process of a highly emotional person.

When I discovered that I’m actually ready to think of travelling once again, I went overboard and enthusiastically thought: “I’ll see all the things!” That’s how I function. After a while, I calmed down and realised that I don’t really want a package tour to the Maldives. I mean, I’m not ruling it out altogether, but there are about 200 things which are higher on my bucket list.

Instead, I honed in on the things I really love and enjoy. It astonishes me that almost three years after coming out of depression and returning to life, I’m still catching up. Add to that the years of being broke when I simply couldn’t afford doing what I love, and you have a list of stuff I stopped doing almost 15 years ago.

Wanna see?

The first realisation was that there are things I simply can’t do in Ireland, so I’m going to combine travelling with doing stuff I enjoy. One example is music. I used to see Evgeny Kissin live at least once a year, and now it’s been altogether too many years since I heard him live at all.

Thankfully, he’ll play in the Vienna Musikverein in March next year, and so I’ve decided that I’ll spend St. Patrick’s Day in Vienna. I’m currently in the process of contacting my friends in Austria to try and see as many of them as possible. I’ve even found another, stellar concert that I’ll go to while I’m there, Kent Nagano with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, playing among others, Le Sacre Du Printemps (I adore Stravinsky).

The other thing I used to love and have stopped doing is hiking. You may not know this, but in 2002 I sub-let my flat for a month, packed my backpack and set out one morning. I went on to walk about 1/3 of the East-West length of Austria (the link is in German, but there’s a map). I meant to make it all the way to Salzburg on one of Europe’s long-distance hiking paths, but my Achilles tendon started making trouble and so I took the bus and train for the rest of the way. I’ve never forgotten the experience, though, it was profound and has shaped me.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my friend Lee, who told me about the time he did the coast-to-coast walk in the North of England. It sounded amazing and reminded me of when I used to dream about the coast-to-coast walk years ago. This conversation has definitely put it back on the bucket list! I’ve even got a timeline.

In fact, there’s something else. I’ve fallen for a tall, strong and silent type over the past months. I see him from afar every time I go for archery in Massbrook. He’s just gorgeous, and I won’t be able to resist him for much longer:

Mount Nephin
Nephin

I believe it may be too late this year to prepare and get it done, but I’m still making enquiries. It’s a four-hour hike to the summit of Nephin, with very few actual paths, and in winter the top is covered in snow, so I need to be well equipped and able. But I’ve been getting back into shape since June and feel a lot more confident than I used to.

It’s become a goal of its own. In 2016, I decided that at 50 (in 2020), I’ll be in the best shape of my life. And so I’m going to hike up Nephin next year at the latest, and do the coast-to-coast walk in England in 2020, as a celebration of sorts, of reaching the half-way mark to my goal of living to 100 years! Also as proof to myself that I can do it and that I’ve recovered and healed my body and soul.

There’s still a long way to go, figuratively, until I can go this actual long way, so to speak, but I’m getting there. And I love having plans that are aligned with who I am and what I’ve always loved doing!

More about this some other time, I’m going to have lunch and then do some more work now. If you like, would you let me know what you think, as well as what’s on your own bucket list? I’d love to read about it.

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Staying “Permeable”

The hag in Massbrook Woods
The hag in Massbrook Woods

I once read something by Luisa Francia, one of the wise-women whose life’s work have given me so much inspiration and teaching on my own pagan path. She described how she’d dealt with being burgled by allowing, rather than resisting, her attacker, and letting his energy flow through her without doing any damage. In recent years, I’ve started to learn to apply this principle to my own emotions as well.

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) and also highly emotional. Most of my life, I’ve struggled to embrace this rather than view it as a liability. I’m currently in another phase where I experience fairly intense emotions – mostly, I’m overflowing with happiness, but there are other periods, too.

I was talking to my wonderful Inga the other day, when I was in quite a lot of emotional pain. We talked about the difference between drawn-out, relived or self-tortorous pain versus the “clean” pain of simply experiencing different things in life. Today, I was reminded of Luisa Francia’s story, and I think the key to it is to allow it to happen and feel the full extent of the emotion, but without putting up any resistance, so that it can run its course and then flow through me – and leave my system.

It’s very scary and requires a lot of trust. The thing with sadness or, as I remember from a few years ago, heartbreak, is that they feel so real and absolute. When I fully allow them, they threaten to swallow me whole and I’m convinced that I can’t possibly ever feel anything else again. But the true pain, the kind which leaves behind real damage, only happens when I then try to hold back and resist. As long as I manage to allow it, it invariably ebbs off after a while, and it’s often a much shorter period than I’d thought possible.

I wonder if this makes sense to anyone except myself (I know it does to highly evolved and wise people, but they’re so much better than I am at explaining the concept)?

Mount Nephin, Maigh Eo
Mount Nephin in Maigh Eo

For me, the conclusions are clear, and they’re closely connected to my life purpose, the catalyst work I was put here to do. It’s only possible as long as I feel unconditionally, love unconditionally, and allow absolutely everything. And I can only get through all of these by staying “permeable”, not holding on or resisting, and letting it flow through me.

This is also why depression is my arch enemy. It’s the “dark side of the Force”, the moment when I capitulate and long for respite from the intensity. Depression makes me numb; it’s quite literally the absence of feeling. It’s also the death of me, not in the physical sense but in the sense of all that truly makes me who I am.

People often try and fix other’s pain or sorrow, but if it’s the “good kind”, then that’s really not necessary; it’s part of the deal and it always, always passes and makes the beauty and the miracles possible which also happen. And I’m learning, too. Mostly when I get hurt, it’s because I don’t live up to my own expectations. Believe me, I’m really working on that and I’m getting better. But I still have that expectation to be the best me for the people who deserve it (and most people do), and when I fail to deliver this, then I sometimes can’t help beating myself up about it.

At least for a bit, until it’s run its course and leaves my system. See how this works?

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Wanderlust

This time last year I was in Canada. In fact, at this exact minute (taking into account the time difference) I was on a boat watching seals, seagulls and two sea eagles off the coast of Nova Scotia. Siiiiiigh… such a beautiful corner of planet Earth. I hope I’ll get to go back some time.

Before I continue: I’m painfully aware that once again I haven’t been writing in a while. And I’ll be perfectly honest about the fact that the future of this blog still hangs in the balance, as I see more and more proof that personal blogs just aren’t of much interest anymore. Gone are the days when we all posted mile-long articles in forums and open platforms. These days, it’s all bite-sized and scrollable and blogs only exist for businesses – like my own, actually! Nothing wrong with that, but if I don’t see signs of interest in my personal ramblings in the near future, I’ll simply focus on the business instead.

Back to the subject of travelling. A few years ago, when I was in a withdrawn state and also hampered by the existence of the cutest little budgies in the world who happened to live in my house, I didn’t want to go anywhere, ever. I just died a thousand deaths from missing my feathery housemates every day I was away.

As you know, I let go of the cutest just over a year ago, and now I find my old Wanderlust re-emerging in strange ways. Strange, because I’m considering destinations from parts of Germany I’ve never been to, all the way to the Maldives. Strange also because I’m not at all adverse to conventional package holidays, and that’s not something most people would think of when they hear my name mentioned in connection with “travel”.

I’m the stereotypical backpack-holiday-hippie-chick. In recent years, however, I’ve read quite a lot about travel and how it’s still seen as the cool thing to do by all the woke, hippie, planet-saving folks whilst at the same time being absolutely catastrophic for the environment. And funnily enough, package deals to popular holiday destinations are among the lesser offenders. Charter planes are usually booked to the last seat, and holiday resorts are fenced in and contain the noise and pollution to a small area.

Maldives. Photo by Ishan on unsplash.com

Apart from everything else, I rather enjoy the typical beach holiday. I love, love, love the sea and warm/hot temperatures. As long as I don’t spend too much time in direct sunlight, I can deal with the heat really well – especially if I’m stretched out in the sand reading a book!

The conclusion from all this is that I won’t travel all that much, to keep the carbon footprint manageable, and I’m going to have to budget for it. I spent much of the past year paying back the last of my student debt, and now I’m saving for different things. So a small monthly budget is the way to go for my travel plans, and by next summer or so, I’ll be able to take to the air. There might be a few smaller trips before then, even.

I’m writing my completely inconsistent destination bucket list as we speak. It’s so much fun! The hag’s about to descend on the unsuspecting world. Yay!

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Le-e-et the sunshine in…!

blossom
Massbrook Woods in full blossom

I write about this every year – the luminous weeks, the period from around the end of May to the end of July. My favourite time in the year. I’ll try and shake it up a little so it won’t get boring – promise!

This year, we’ve had a beautiful late spring, with temperatures well into the 20s and lots of sunshine. The last week or so has been cooler and rainy again, but we’re slowly recovering from that, and I hope that I’ll get to spend a lot more time outside in the woods with my bow, and around various fires with friends. The thing is, my hayfever happens exactly around this time as well – June – and that’s cruel, of course, but on the other hand I think it might be life trying to keep me attached to the ground in some way, lest I float off in my bliss (I am an air sign, after all!). I probably wouldn’t get any sleep at all in June if I wasn’t exhausted from stuffed sinuses and a buzzing head every night.

I’ve been thinking about Nova Scotia a lot recently. This time last year, I was practically vibrating with excitement about my upcoming holidays in July. I hope I’ll be able to return some time, it’s such an amazing place and I haven’t seen enough of it by far.

Tomorrow’s the Summer Solstice. Contrary to popular belief, it’s neither always on the 21st nor is it necessarily “the longest day of the year”. This year, however, it is both these things, at least here in Ireland, and so tonight I’ll be celebrating Solstice Eve and taking it a little easier with my work for once. Today’s the first of only three days which are over 17 hours long. Around the winter solstice, they’re only 7 1/2 hours – that’s nearly ten hours difference! How people can claim to not be affected by that much more daylight, is a mystery to me. It makes me buzz, drunken with happiness and bursting with energy.

This energy gets mostly invested in work these days, but that’s far less boring than it may sound. For three years in a row, I’ve been announcing (always around springtime) that I’d be growing my business, and I always got distracted and stopped working on it again. This time I’m still at it in June and I believe I’ve learned enough to stay focused and keep at it this time. Like I mentioned before, it’s simply too important to give up. Look around you, what do you see? Is the world full of joy and passion? Yeah, not so much. I’ve done a lot of deep digging in meditation and ritual, and I’ve discovered that the root of this lies so much deeper than I previously suspected. Basically, it’s all down to passion.

People who are filled with their purpose in life, don’t have time to hate on others. They’re too busy oozing love out of every buttonhole. This is what’s going to save the world, mark my words. You read it here first!

How can you help? You can help by supporting me. I’ve just started another ads campaign, which reminded me of how expensive this stuff is. Holy shit. So any free support is much appreciated! If you’d like to support a small business and earn a hag’s eternal gratitude, here’s a list of actions you could take:

  • Like my Facebook page and ideally a few of the posts on it (this is not for my ego, it’s because of “social proof” which is one of the biggest factors in marketing today).
  • Read my latest article on Pick The Brain and leave a comment.
  • Subscribe to my newsletter. Heck, you can get a free checklist and a mini e-course into the bargain if you sign up here.
  • Follow me on any of the other social media outlets you use: Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube.
Magical forest
Magical light

I’m growing in so many ways. I’m learning to be consistent without burning myself out (this is still a work in progress, but I’m getting there!), and that’s so important if I want to actually stick with it this time. I’m learning to keep proper books and it’s actually fun. Gods, I didn’t believe I’d ever utter, write, or even think these words, but they’re true now. I’ve even finally registered my business name in Ireland, so now nobody else can be Wild Spirits Coaching in these parts! And I’m writing, blogging, coaching, and getting to touch the lives of beautiful souls who no longer believe in just living to survive and pay bills. Who choose to be joyful instead and live their purpose.

Right, shutting up now! I’m off to celebrate – mead and fresh strawberries, here I come! Incense, dancing, lots of fairies and divine beings surrounding a blissful hag – ah, midsummer…

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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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