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).
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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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You’re Invited

IMG_5913
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.

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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!

Please feel free to leave a comment below. It will be visible after approval and I respond to every comment, so do check back later!

If you’d like a quick email notification every time I post something new on my blog, fill in this little form. I give you my hagish word that I’ll never spam you or pass on your data!