HEARTBEAT

H E A R T B E A T 🖤

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“My Mark imprinted

Upon your waist

A daily reminder

That life’s too short

To waste!

Out of Love?

Out of Fear?

Both entangled

While my

Heart beat near.

A distant sound now

Too painful to touch

The Fear lingers on

But surely LOVE’s

Beat remains strong?”

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The Tough Cookie xx

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A VERY personal poem to share this Friday morning. In the past I used to open up and share my meaning and interpretations however I now rather you, the readers to take meaning of your own from my words to help you in your world. 🙏🖤🌎

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I am healing and becoming stronger and it feels great to be able to begin viewing painful past experiences in a differing light. Perspective is crucial and as long as you’re flexible and adaptable I do believe you can handle no matter what comes your way. Remember you’re a Tough Cookie 💪🏻🍪

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#toughcookie #healing #perspective #gentleness #understanding

Letting Go of My Shadow👤

I thought when I shared my blog post for the first time about being Adopted that it would be the hardest thing to openly share with the world. I distinctively remember sitting in Abu Dhabi alone in my apartment feeling lost and empty, sharing stories from my life in a very raw and open way, feeling nervous and excited to begin the Tough Cookie Blog. That’s almost 3years ago now which is hard to believe, in ways it feels like it was a lifetime ago and some part of me wonders did I ever live in the UAE?!! Funny how the brain works.

Well today I’m venturing deeper.. (you’re probably wondering what’s left in the mind of the Tough Cookie at this stage.. surely she’s shared it ALL?!!) Do we EVER stop sharing? I hope not for as long as I live. Sharing sparks connection, love, trust, faith, strength and most importantly healing.

This Blog is undoubtedly my Biggest Secret! I have grappled with this notion of sharing this piece of me for a few months now, one minute deciding yes and the next backing away from it, unsure how it will be received. But the stronger mindset of mine said GO FOR IT there is nothing to worry about, why wouldn’t it be well received, why wouldn’t I be making a difference and why wouldn’t I let go of something that is restricting me, holding me back from being the best version of myselfDeirdre Nicole Ward. It’s really not even mine! Today I’m leaving it in the Past where it belongs, it’s not ‘my stuff’, it’s transcended down from my birth parents, two people I have never even met, it’s theirs and I never agreed to holding on to it for them.

Today I’m GIVING IT BACK. 💪🏻

Get on with it already Deirdre I hear you say! Ok well my secret that I’m unleashing is that my birth parents were first cousins. This little ‘dirty and shameful‘ secret that I’ve been carrying around for the last 5years or so. Carrying it around feeling like I was different, I was a defect, something broken to be fixed, something that was shameful, wrong, a secret and never meant to be here. I feel as though I was living in a shadow of myself, not fully connected to my body, mind and soul. Not being authentic. Feeling unloveable, feeling different and blaming my birth parents. Imagine what that does to a person…? Well I won’t go into the gorey details but it isn’t pleasant, it eats you up and I’ve had ENOUGH!!

This is a Story I’ve told myself, a context I’ve lived and based my life on. How could transformation happen, how could my health be restored, my self-confidence fully rise, my energy and love for myself develop when I continuously played this broken record over and over again in my mind. Of course it was eating me up. It was eating up my whole being, my relationships and my self-belief. I felt like I could overflow with emotions such as anger, frustration and fear some days. The fear of being judged, of not being good enough, the anger of it being wrong, of me being wrong and rejected, being shameful, sadness that I didn’t have enough time to digest and process it with my beautiful Mam, frustration in not allowing my true voice be heard.

Why do we let such stories run our lives? Experiences/Information from the Past seep into our Present moment and allow it to drive our Future? Surely we ALL have some story, some negative self talk that we constantly tell ourselves that is deeply rooted from an experience, an encounter, a trauma, a rejection, a loss etc that is in the Past? What’s YOURS? What did you tell yourself a long time ago? Was it that you have to be strong, was it you have to be perfect, was it you have to make everyone love you, or was it the world can’t be trusted, you’re ugly and repulsive, you’re not good enough…? There are SO SO many the list could go on. Take time to become present to the moment that shaped that thought for you? What age were you? What happened? And now ask yourself WHY does it affect you still today? Why do you give it power? Why do you BELIEVE it?

Now I feel lighter to finally say it and share it out loud. I have shared it with a few friends and other people in my life. It’s funny how I immediately look to the non-verbal cues for reactions – their faces and whether they’re accepting of me or not and this dirty little secret! But it’s not dirty, as the old saying goes you can’t help who you fall in love with. I was created, how could that be dirty? I am alive, I have life. I am a gift. I actually find it funny that my journey in life brought me to Abu Dhabi in the past (a place that is also full of arranged familial marriages!) in some countries it’s the norm! Ironic??! 🙈😂 Is anything really by chance?! I don’t believe it is.

Thank God I have finally accepted it, it doesn’t define who I am, it is what’s so – the reality being two people fell in love and I was produced. It has no other meaning. I have ended that story that I told myself. I can release myself from those old negative, soul destroying thoughts that held me back, that quietened my voice, that riddled me with fear and inferiority.

The new story I’ve created is that I Deirdre Nicole Ward am a powerful, loving, honest, courageous, inspiring and genuine woman who is making a difference to her world and that of others.

My MISSION is to help children, teens and adults to accept and love themselves fully, to leave the hurtful, degrading parts of the Past in the Past. To help a child to have that strong, solid foundation in order to never allow those thoughts or stories in or be formed in the first place. To realise that it is just a Story that is made up, that isn’t reality and certainly isn’t YOU!

My WISH is that everyone will love themselves, feel empowered, confident and reach their full potential in this short life that we have. That is the work I fulfil with UNLOCK. I will help you find your key! 🔑 The key that sets you FREE.

I am a Tough Cookie 🙋🏻💪🏻🍪 I have began my autobiography and I had some writers block. I fully believe I needed to share this to clear the headspace for creativity, inspiration, goals and productivity!!

Watch this space, the Tough Cookie is getting bigger and better!! 🌟

What Defines You?

Are there Pieces of Your

Puzzle that don’t Fit

And Are Untrue?

Take Command

Use Your Power

Pause those Inner Rackets

Make a Stand!

For Your Life

And Others’

Let Go of the Shadow

And the World will Follow”

(Deirdre Ward)

A Walk Down Memory Lane 👣👣

On Saturday I ventured up the north of Donegal to Fahan and revisited the Home that I was in for the first 3months of my life before being adopted by my Mam and Dad.

Did I feel a sense of having been there before? Did I have flashbacks? What emotions surfaced for me? Why did I want to go?

I wanted to see and walk the surroundings of the place where I have lived, where my Mam and Dad met me for the first time and where my birth mother left me for the last time. It has taken me 30years to visit it, yes I’ve passed by, I’d even say accelerated past it in my car before, not wanting to see it or to accept it. I was now ready. By visiting on Saturday it helped me to have closure, to accept, to understand some more and I now feel a sense of Peace. This chapter of my life I can now close and move on from, until it reappears again (I’ve no doubt that it will!)

It was quite sad to see this Home completely dilapidated, run down and closed up. Despite the sun shining there was a dark and eerie feel to it at first. This feeling did settle somewhat and I could sense a quietness, a tranquility. Perhaps it was my emotions of fear and sadness rising that then releasing turning into acceptance and peace. If you’ve ever been to this part of the country you’ll understand that there is a tranquility and for me it’s because it sits right on the waters edge with breathtaking views of the Donegal coastline and mountains. For me this gave me solace and also reassurance as to why I am such a lover of the sound of waves and the beach. Course this makes sense!

Myself and my Dad wandered around nearly searching for remnants of the memories he had of the day he met me, the day they took me home. Most curtains were shut so very little was evident from inside the house. I found two windows open and was able to stand up and peer in. I was shocked, stunned and weirdly comforted to see childlike wallpaper of teddy bears, Teletubbies and circus themed paintings/design on the walls and curtains. Yes there were clues of my life lived there. Very small but still something to help me imagine and accept it.

Dad’s memory began to resurface and he could recall which room I slept in and the meeting room. He reminisced how my older sister Gráinne played with other boys & girls that were there the day they came to take me home.

Two stickers on two doors, one of Jesus and one of Our Lady showing that the home was filled with faith, the nuns that cared for me and this too gave me solace. Why? Because I have a strong faith and to know that this would have been a central part of the life of the women who cared for me for those first 3months gives me strength.

I left feeling at peace, that I had closure on something that was completely out of my control, it gave me some control back to revisit, to imagine and now to accept it and move on. This part of me has missing pieces but that is ok, don’t we all have some pieces missing, that we may never fill!

“Home is a Feeling

It’s not a Place

Even if we have to Retrace

This can be hard to Face!

Build Your Home

From your Heart

You’ll not Feel Alone

It’s Where to Start!”

(Deirdre Ward)

You

Time for Tea & a Chat 🙋🏻☕️

Who would you pick, if you could choose anybody to sit with, have a cuppa with and a chat? Would it be somebody you miss? Someone you idolise? Somebody you’ve left things with on bad terms? Somebody you’ve lost? WHO?

For me my initial instinct was to imagine having a cuppa with my Mam again but after rethinking it, she is always with me, every second of the day, sending me signs, feeling her presence so therefore knows what’s going on in my life. Instead I have chosen my birth parents. WHY? So that I CAN ‘let go’, stop living in the Past, focus on the ‘here & now‘ and the Future. I’m excited for my life to come, to keep pursuing my dreams, meet new people, fall in love, get married, have a family, make & share memories with those special people already in my life and most importantly have no regrets! So the kettle is boiled & we’re ready to chat!

Hi!

Well where to start! As much as it might seem strange I want to ‘thank you’ both. Thank you for bringing me into this world, for making the best decision for me out of love and for wanting the best for my life. I got just that! I got the best parents I could have asked for. Just yesterday a lady told me how she read somewhere that WE pick our parents, we pick them for various lessons that we need to learn here in this life. So what lessons have I learned from my Mam and Dad? What lessons have I learned from you both?

To be honest, kind, loving, helpful and to always do my best. I have grown up with terrific morals, beliefs and values. I have been supported, cared for and loved, in every decision I’ve made. However in the past I didn’t have to make many as it was always a joint decision, and opinions I asked for and appreciated! To have FAITH that there’s a reason for everything and to trust in God for guidance and protection.

I can’t say I’ve always thought about my Adoption, about you both and the life I could have had with you but what I can say is from loosing my Mam it forced suppressed emotions and memories to surface, to face and to accept them. I HAVE accepted it, well within my mind, logically but emotionally and through a ‘feeling’ sense I may still have a little to go! But I’m on the right path. I’ll get there!

So what have you both taught me? (Indirectly of course) You have taught me to make decisions with love, to be selfless and think about what’s best for others, to be brave. You have also taught me not to attach negative emotions and thoughts to situations in life that have happened that are out of my control, that I don’t know to be 100% correct/true in my mind & body, to feel every feeling, to voice my opinion, in what I believe in, to celebrate my struggles and past rather than block it out and ignore it.

I was angry, I was saddened and hurt by you both leaving me, giving me away but I needed to feel those feelings to face them, accept them and let them go. I’m not angry anymore, I understand your reasons, I can’t imagine the pain it has caused you both and to live for 30years with possibly feeling guilt, sadness and loss. Wondering about me each day.

The past shapes us but does not define us. WE define ourselves and from today onwards I no longer allow my Adoption to be portrayed negatively, I’ve learned so much, felt so much, understand so much and now I celebrate it. It’s part of me but not ‘fully‘ Me!

Thank you both for being part of me, I wouldn’t be me without you and for this alone I am grateful. I can’t say I love you both, I don’t know you but I know I love who I’ve become and who I’m becoming!

This tea & chat may never happen, I’m not even sure whether I want it to but I AM sure that whatever the future holds, the outcome I’m ‘letting go’ with Love so I can live my life from a place of love & positivity, acceptance and trust.

Thank You.

Love Deirdre Nicole xx

“The Past is in the Past

YOU choose whether You

Want it to Last?”

(Deirdre Ward)

I Choose LIFE 👶🏻❤️

I’m not one to usually rock the boat regarding my political views, I tend to stay quite impartial despite being a fiery and feisty female when I want to be!! After all you don’t get the name Tough Cookie for nothing! However at times yes I do have an opinion and I share it, my opinion is no way gospel and I for one would be the first to say I may be wrong..

I haven’t been entirely sure as to how I stand with this upcoming Referendum (the 8th Amendment-despite having a strong faith) but for me it was confirmed on Saturday what I believe in. I believe in LIFE. After being involved in a truly motivating and heartfelt event ‘iNSPIRE 18‘ on Saturday (organised by Joe Coyle) where the main theme was ‘CHOICE’, sharing my own personal story of the Tough Cookie, my Adoption, my Struggles, my Achievements, my Blessings and my Uniqueness and later that evening hearing a touching letter read out at mass from the Bishop; something just clicked for me, within me.

I easily could have been non existent. The Tough Cookie may not have lived to tell her tale. It struck me while listening to some other speakers at iNSPIRE 18 that my choices were very much out of my control from the very beginning of my life. Aren’t they all for us all, you might ask? Yes to a degree, but I never had the CHOICE to know who my birth parents were, the CHOICE to see somebody who resembles me, the CHOICE to know my birth family history, my bloodline. These facts a given to most of you, facts you take for granted. Two of the above photos (- bottom left & top right), two I have hated for so long, the only two I have that connect me with my birth mother. I’m beginning to cherish and value them more but in the beginning all I could see was a fearful, cautious looking baby. But a baby that WAS given the choice of life, despite being 8weeks premature. A Tough Cookie from the beginning!

I shudder to think of being in my birth mothers situation: pregnant at 19, unable to tell my parents because of their strict religious views. Having a baby out of wedlock- a sin, a shameful act. So no other choice in the matter but to keep me a secret, to conceal her pregnancy and my birth. To this day I may still be a secret. I can’t help but wonder what if abortion was on offer? What if that CHOICE was available? I can’t know and I’m not suggesting my birth parents would have aborted me but I do wonder well would it have been considered if the option was there at that time? Would I even exist today if it had? Could my life have been over before I had a chance?

This is one scenario of what could arise if abortion becomes legal in Ireland. Why would I not have had the right to live? Because of ‘mistakes’ my mother may have made? Does that make it right and ok? Yes I’m aware there are horrific stories and scenarios where children are seriously ill, women are raped to name a few and yes that’s why I couldn’t make my mind up on which way I would vote; but a life is a life. We cannot play GOD. We are NOT GOD. So for me nobody should be able to decide to take a life into their own hands.

So many couples out there are praying and hoping for the gift of life in a beautiful baby and sadly are unable to conceive. Something that can be taken for granted. It’s unimaginable to consider taking a little foetus life, a life full of potential and possibilities.

“A Life is A Life

Yes! It can come with plenty of

Strife!

But what gives YOU

The Right

To Take Life

Into Your Hands

I’m not so sure YOU

Fully Understand!”

(Deirdre Ward)

The🔑to my 2018! 👩🏻‍💼

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be your typical New Years Resolution Blog about all the changes I’m going to make and to better myself physically, emotionally, mentally etc etc etc.

NO! What it IS going to be is that I’m beginning to accept where I’m at, who I am, who I’m not, who I can’t be to others and to be OK with that. Because of my beginning in life, being adopted ( and yes I firmly believe I have carried the feeling of being ‘unwanted’ subconsciously all this time ) I used to try my damnedest to ‘fit’ into role for everybody in my life. Jeeeez! Tough going when you’re only ONE person and when you consider ALL the people in your life that you meet! But Deirdre tried it! And Yes failed miserably at times, but not ‘all’ of the time!!! 😉😂

Well this year definitely was one of major learning and no longer am I playing ‘Guess Who’ for who I need to be for others. Who I need to be for ME is ALL I need to do.

I have always doubted myself, my beauty, my capabilities, my decisions, constantly relying on my family, my friends and strangers to compliment work I’ve done, something I’ve accomplished, my looks, my figure: you name it the list goes on. That too gets tiring and I’m slowly but surely starting to see my own worth, to see my inner beauty which is what shines through, to see my capabilities and to know & TRUST who I am, what I feel, what I want and what I can do.

I did ‘UNLOCK’ myself because I truly didn’t know who I was for many years, I was afraid to turn the key and open my heart but NOW, well NOW I have an open heart, open arms, an open mind and most importantly an open soul. Only last night while messaging a dear friend did I say ‘why do I open up and let people in so much because it can lead to me being hurt’ but as she reminded me it IS a beautiful characteristic, it IS a gift and it IS how I want to live.

OPEN & UNLOCKED = DEIRDRE 🙋🏻

Today 01/01/18 marks the launch of my business venture “UNLOCK” and I just cannot wait to help others especially children to find their key to live, love and lead the life they long for.

Have a look @ http://www.unlockirl.ie 🌟

‘Different’

I may be

But Making a Difference

Is What I See!

(Deirdre Ward)

I may be Adopted but look at ALL I’ve ‘Adopted’ 🙋🏻💯✔️💪🏻

I Wouldn’t Be Deirdre Ward without being Adopted and my God how LUCKY I AM!! 

For so many years I didn’t like to imagine myself as an adopted child, it was never a secret withheld, it was always celebrated by my family (one favourite part being my ‘Anniversary’ – the day Mam & Dad brought me home! It felt like a second birthday and was always a special day marked with gifts/cake!) Despite efforts to celebrate my existence/adoption I think I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me or that I never thought much about it. I had a wonderful childhood, I didn’t want for anything but I do believe that somewhere deep within my subconscious mind/soul I felt different, I was jealous of my friends who had siblings/parents they resembled, I longed to know those little facts like the exact time I was born, there were pieces missing, the puzzle incomplete and yes it was difficult to accept but I can finally say I ACCEPT it and I wouldn’t have it any other way! 

What I’ve Adopted?? 

An Identity: For too long I behaved, reacted and responded in a way I felt I ‘should’. This was nobody’s fault or pressures on me, looking back I genuinely just feel I felt quite lost/unsure as to who I was. The photo ID was blurry! Now after a LOT of self-reflecting, painful memories, shitty dark days I know fully who I am, what I’m all about and what I wish for my life! Nothing or Nobody is going to Stop me!

A Voice: Mess with me? I’ll let you know ALL about it!! Gone are the days when Deirdre, quiet & shy allowed others to walk all over her, take advantage of that caring side etc Now this new and improved Deirdre will let you know if she doesn’t like/agree with something/someone. Watch Out!! 

An Appreciation/Respect: As mentioned I was lucky to have had a safe, secure and loving childhood however I now have a much greater appreciation for life, for hard work, determination and each individual’s personal struggles/hardships. My admiration has grown for other’s stories and I resist judging as much as I can. Why? Because I know it’s a surprise to so many that I struggled, the external ID/image looked ‘rosey!’ Everything is not always as it seems! 

Love: Did I ever fully know how to love or what love looks like? I don’t believe I did until this acceptance arrived. It literally came with a crash landing on Tuesday! ✈️ This is not to say my family didn’t shower me with love, this Love is my own personal understanding of love and how to show it/what it feels like. In the beginning of my story that sense of Love was lost, feelings of being unwanted, unloved and ‘not being good enough’ were communicated/felt. A tough beginning that resulted in a struggle to value myself, see my worth and love myself. But I can proudly say that I’ve developed/continue to develop that love, that understanding and acceptance of who I am. I’m liking what I see 🤳🏼

Deirdre Nicole: At lonnngggg last Ive Adopted MYSELF! I know who Deirdre Nicole is, I now know what it feels like to be fully ME, I know what she’s going to achieve, the dreams she has and the life she envisages. It IS BRIGHT! 🌟

“Adopt the YOU

You Wish to Be 

No Labels, No Tags 

What Do You Wish to See? 

One Life that’s All

Too Short to Feel Small”

(Deirdre Ward) 

A Piece of my Jigsaw I may Never Fill 🌸

This part of me has been extremely private and this past year it has been a difficult story to unravel and read. The ending? Unfinished perhaps in your eyes, in mine perhaps the ending is to be continued some day but very much for now it’s a closed book. 

I am adopted. It has always been known to me and was never a secret. I have fond memories of going to special adoption masses with my family and it was a day out to meet other adopted children in Donegal. I did feel special but at times I couldn’t help but feel different. This was by no way fault to my lovely parents, they were always so open, loving and supportive but what I’ve learned this past year is that no matter how logical and understandable the situation was for my birth parents to give me up for adoption that feeling of being rejected and not being good enough remains. 

I have nearly finished my first year sudying as a Play Therapist and it has been a very interesting but undoubtedly challenging year. To sit in class and to learn about how crucial and important the bond and attachment between mother and baby in the womb and then in the early days of life is was heartbreakingly tough. I couldn’t help but wonder and think of my own personal story. To be carried by a woman for almost 9months, to hear her voice, to feel her heartbeat, her laughter, her cries – to be connected to her whole being to suddenly being removed from that and to not hearing her or feeling her again. I never realised before how huge this would impact on my life. People talk about having trust issues well here here!! No wonder I was wary and cautious as a child and can still be to this day (however through my own hard work and self reflecting I’ve learned to trust and can see that being an open and loving person is the most rewarding way to be). I am so lucky and grateful to have the parents that I have. I never wanted for anything, I was loved to the ends of the Earth and I’m still the apple of their eyes! I never gave my birth parents much thought until loosing Mam. 

Death is scary. No matter how prepared you ‘seem’ and tell yourself you are it is never a welcomed visitor. It is heart wrenching to say goodbye to someone you love with your whole being and who loved you in return unconditionally. To never feel their hug, their kiss on your cheek or the sound of their voice again. Unknown to me at the time (I did not connect the two events) it was the second such experience I had had. For the second time I lost my mother. For the second time an attachment was broken and lost. For the second time I was scared. For the second time my body was grieving and in pain. For the second time I felt lost. For the second time I felt alone. 

Logically I was not alone. Logically I knew Mam had to die for her own sake. Logically I know she died for me to grow and learn so many lessons to which I am forever grateful. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today only for the beautiful woman that sacrificed herself for me. Logically all these things and events make sense it’s Emotionally wherein the problem and struggle lies. Isn’t that like everything else in life? We struggle with our feelings? We suppress the painful ones and cling on to the happy and loving memories? Life doesn’t work like this we cannot go on in this way, sooner or later the pain/anger/hurt will bubble and boil over. 

My pot certainly boiled over. I had suppressed feelings of anger, hurt, rejection and betrayal for years. I had told myself it didn’t bother me that I was adopted. Sure I was so lucky? However the true feelings and thoughts surfaced. I felt rejected, not good enough and sad that as a tiny baby the people who brought me into this world left me. I found it utterly incomprehensible how a person could leave their newborn and say goodbye. For a better life? Out of love? Yes I’ve heard them all, yes I feel so lucky! NO! Feeling once again is not outwon by logic or reasoning. I know it was out of love for me. I know it was for the best life for me. But I couldn’t ‘feel’ that it was. As a tiny baby you feel, you cannot make sense of the world yet so feelings are what you base the world upon. No wonder my world was one to not trust and to fear. 

Thank God today I have worked hard at and continue to work at eradicating those feelings. Why? Because deep down I know I AM good enough, I AM precious and worthy. I have all the parental love I need/needed in life. Through my Faith and prayer I’ve become stronger, more trusting, open and more loving. I see why my story has unfolded the way it has, I see both the reasons logically and emotionally now. 

Finally I ‘See’. 

“You must Feel to Believe!

If You Fail to Feel 

Your World can Never be Real” 

(Deirdre Ward)