M O V E M E N T

M O V E M E N T

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“My Grip it Loosens

My Faith & Trust Strengthen

My Fantasies Released

My Reality Recognised

My Talk, one of Love

My Pain not so Sharp

My Courage Arises

My Healing Progresses

My Surrender to God

My Life he Leads”

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The Tough Cookie x x

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At times in life it can seem like there is very little movement or that in fact you’re going backwards, not reaching those goals/visions that you have and so hope for. One moment it can feel like everything is on the right track and you’re moving forwards, things are aligning within the Universe and you’re right where you’re supposed to be. This place can feel so reassuring, comforting and safe.

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Other times it can be so unsettling then when you realise that it isn’t as aligned as you had thought, that job doesn’t come your way, that relationships ends, that opportunity missed. This can feel very unsettling, scary and disheartening. It can be really difficult to find the reasons or the meaning behind it. How do you cope with these disappointments?

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❓Do you distract yourself and pretend you’re not bothered?

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❓Do you hit rock bottom, feel sorry for yourself and a go to ‘victim mode’ a bit? Do others need to tend to you and give you attention?

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❓Do you trust that there is some higher power at play, believe there’s a reason and have faith that a better more promising outcome lies ahead? This can be extremely hard to do however I do believe it is the way forward. If I look back on my life I can see how various disappointments weren’t the right fit for me, I was grateful that ‘my vision’ didn’t work out.

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TRUST that today you ARE right where you’re meant to be, that no matter how ‘stuck’ you may feel or how much you believe you’re going backwards instead of forwards, there is movement. The tides don’t lie still for any given second, the sun never ceases to rise and fall so believe that your life is in constant motion and you’re being guided to the best outcomes for you. Pray, Trust and Believe 🙏❤️

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#higherpower #trust #belief #pray #keepgoing #alignment

F R I E N D

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“An inner calling

Between our hearts

A beat, a breath

Travels along

Connections come

A shared language

I for you, You for I”

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The Tough Cookie x x

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Who are those people in your life that show up for you? Those that you can call, reach out to for those times when life throws hurdles on your path?

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Do you reach out to those special people when you’re struggling or needing a listening ear/helping hand? Or do you wear that mask, say you’re ‘grand’ (typical Irish response!) cover it up and not want to be a ‘burden’ to another?

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Are you taking time out of your schedule to catch up with those friends that are dear to you? Are you adding some FUN into your weekly routine along with those that ignore joy and laughter in your life? As they say the friends are the family we choose, sometimes they even feel closer to us than family.

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I am so extremely grateful for those ‘soul pals’ (a term a dear friend shared with me this week which I love!) that are in my life, for showing up for me, for hearing me and showing their love by listening rather than fixing 💜🙏⭐️👭

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#friendships #soulpals #gratitude #laughter #fun #connections

Is this the End…? 💪🏻🍪🦋

Lately I haven’t been feeling inspired to write, I have a bout of writers block. I have been contemplating finishing up the Tough Cookie Blog completely and wondering if maybe it has served its purpose, was it for my healing, for the transition I struggled with in moving from Abu Dhabi back home, in facing my mother’s grief, admitting my pain and hurt surrounding my adoption and birth parents, the battle with my mental health and old, debilitating wounds? It certainly served as an outlet for emotions that had been suppressed and locked up for years, it gave me the platform to hear my authentic and honest voice fully for the first time ever. What an important and crucial piece of my journey and path it has been. One I started over 3years ago!

I have shared myself wholeheartedly, opened up about the pieces that I believed were my darkest secrets, shameful stories and parts that I had labelled as broken, defective and wrong. How Wrong I was. There is NO part of me that is shameful, wrong, defective, ugly or broken. This is what my writing has helped me to see. The Tough Cookie helped me to hear those untrue beliefs, that old story that I had stuck on repeat constantly playing in the background. The demo was a dud! I had to rewrite the lyrics and hear the new melody that was reality, that was my true sound and rhythm in life. But I didn’t know it. I had to feel myself, my beat, learn my steps and find out for myself. I had to stop dancing to other’s beats and rhythms, I had to trust my own path, my own song and hear it within my soul.

This has been one of the hardest things I had to learn how to do, and to follow through on it has been a rollercoaster. One ride I wanted to jump off at so many points, and undoubtedly I still will want to in the future too. Life is a rollercoaster it can uplift you with a rush of exhilaration, or leave you feeling like you’re plummeting into a dark hole. It can be sensational yet utterly shit! What I have learned is how to steer myself and trust the route I’m taking on this more fully. Even those bumpy parts as uncomfortable they can be usually do have significance and some meaning behind them (as difficult as that can be to see and often never visible to the human eye) there has to be some reason. My faith in God helps me to believe in that higher plan that is already pre-orchestrated and laid out for us. How can you explain ALL those little and big coincidences that happen to us all in life if there wasn’t some truth in this?

So right now I am also trusting my gut that a break is needed from the world of blogging and social media with The Tough Cookie, my sense is that this is a time for me to immerse myself fully within my own connectedness, developing my awareness within to a deeper level and to focus on myself, my goals and aspirations. I have shared so much of my past, my present and my future vision that it is now time to be that bit more selfish with my time! From the Camino one massive lesson I gained was the importance of taking that solitude, that time out to hear, see, touch and smell what was hidden, blocked and numbed by the busyness of life, of our thoughts and those all too familiar stresses!

For now I sign off with much love and gratitude to all my fabulous Tough Cookies out there, I’m sure you’ve not heard the last of me…. And sure one goal is to get back to this autobiography I had started 👍💪🏻🍪🙋🏻🌸💜

Love Deirdre x

“A Minute

A Second

Words Used

With no ‘Presence’!

TIME we Think

We’ve Got

So Much

We Put it Off

Till Tomorrow

Then the Sorrow!

Time is not Eternal

It Runs Out

There’s No Doubt!

Seize the Day

Trust what YOU Say

It’s Simple if you

Pray &

Follow YOUR WAY!

Tough Cookie

Finding JOY 💛🐥

🐣🐣 Happy Easter to all you Tough Cookies out there 🐣🐣
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Do you take enough time to have Fun, be Playful and forget about all the stress, commitments and workload that life brings?
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Is it sometimes difficult to ‘Switch Off’ from the never ending to-do list? I frequently find it a challenge to just forget about the workload and be fully present at times. With my work as a Psychotherapist and Play Therapist you’re constantly thinking and reflecting on the clients and families you’re working with so some times ‘your time’ can run low! It’s crucial that I do take time for myself as I’m sure you’ve all heard the quote about not being able to pour from the empty cup.
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My niece and nephews (all 4 of them under 5years!) are Home at the minute and it’s a great excuse to let my hair down, play outside and release my inner child. There is nothing better than giggling with them and having innocent fun. Do you find Joy each week? Do you try to practice Gratitude as best you can? I watched Brené Brown’s documentary ‘A Call to Courage’ last night all about Vulnerability and Courage. It was excellent, she makes the valid point that being Courageous is when we feel Vulnerable. She also highlighted the importance of Gratitude of the very ordinary things in life because sadly some day they may be the very things or people you miss and wish you had. I had to recall lying in bed beside my late mother helping her with crossword and sudoku puzzles.
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*Ways I’m Finding Joy:
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Inner Child: Allow yourself to run wild and free like the child you used to be. Go to the Park/Beach/Playground and have FUN!
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Finding Gratitude: Each day I try to identify at least 3 things/moments or people I am Grateful for to remind me of how much I already HAVE rather than ALL I want to achieve/find.
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Being Vulnerable: Lately I had wondered about my Tough Cookie Blog again and whether I have the same buzz and excitement from it. Again it was my inner critic wondering whether my story and words were valid enough. YES they are and it brings me healing, I do it for ME in the hope it’ll touch someone else. I’m continuing to be Vulnerable in the hope of helping others!
#joy #vulnerability #gratitude 💜

Fight the FEAR 💪🏻🌟

Does FEAR of Failure & the Unknown Hold you back? Are you afraid to give it a go incase you let someone down or more importantly Yourself?

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I had signed up for a Half Marathon last weekend. I had it booked over a month ago. I was really contemplating cancelling it as I had been unwell & hadn’t trained very much. I hadn’t gone past 10miles in training so I really didn’t feel confident to be able to reach the 13mile mark. I was afraid of failing.

Then I thought about it & decided that I wouldn’t be failing, I’d go & remove any pressure on myself, that I’d enjoy the trip to Connemara & do the best I could. A friend of mine had also signed up so it was also going to be a sociable trip of catching up with great friends. I had been working & studying constantly the last few weekends so I knew I needed a little break away!

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Once I removed all pressure or targets from myself I didn’t feel as scared or worried about the race. My goal was to try to keep jogging without stopping. Mind you I did stop once during a never ending hill! In the past that would have even eaten me up! I have noticed that I’m not as hard on myself, I’m acknowledging my efforts & ability much more & I’m proud of myself for deciding to Try rather than Avoid! It really is Mind over Matter & Self-Chatter is crucial.

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Ways I got by:

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*Positive Self-Talk: What we tell ourselves really does affect what we believe & how we feel. At times when I felt tired or unsure if I’d make it through I repeated positive mantras to myself such as “I am strong, I am fit, I am fast, I am doing this” It helped me to keep believing in myself when all too often that doubting voice can creep in & tell me I’m not good enough.

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. *My Why: During it I kept the vision of the end Feeling in sight. I know the buzz I get after a race & the sense of achievement I feel. I kept connecting with that & visualising what the end line would look like & more crucially what it would Feel like.

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. *Gratitude: I know there is a LOT of talk out there about being Grateful & having this ‘Attitude of Gratitude’. Again there is Truth in what they say! I dedicated a mile to someone in my life. It kept me focused.

#nofear #goals

Start Afresh Today! 👍💛

Start Afresh Today, None of us know what’s Ahead so try as much as possible to Be Present each moment of Today. It can be a really difficult task, we all have worries down the line, commitments, plans however sadly life can end in an instance so really is there any point worrying too much about next week? –
I became an auntie today for the 4th time to a beautiful baby boy. It got me thinking about how innocent, care free we are as babies, FULL of potential and happy with the basic needs of being fed, loved, warmth and rest. Some days it is about bringing it back to basics, being Grateful for what we’ve got in this moment today. Children can be such free souls, living life this way. We can learn a lot from them. –
Don’t allow life’s worries and stress to Rob you of your joy, happiness and sense of peace today. Dig deep if you have to, reach within and find that place of reassurance, trust and love for yourself and your world. –
Ways I help myself be present in the moment:
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*Flip my Thoughts: If I find a negative thought entering my mind I try as much as I can to catch it, recognise it and then reverse it. eg. You’re tired today and it’ll be a long day = today will be a fun day with work, with helping the children and families you meet and as a result you’ll feel energised. .
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*Deep Breathing: As I can be on the road a lot I’ve taken much more notice of how I’m sitting in my seat, what my posture is like and how it affects my whole body. I also have started being more conscious of my breathing, practising some deep breaths and holding them for 4sec. This helps me calm my whole system down.
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*My Basic Needs: just like that baby, each day I am ensuring that I too have my needs met, have I eaten well, have I rested, have I moved my body and have I felt loved. It’s so important to begin with these as if we don’t those higher needs like self-esteem and productivity wont happen! –
Start Afresh Today! .
#newday #basicneeds #context #possibilities #takeaction #nurture

Hand in Hand 🤝

The phrase ‘No Man is An Island’ comes to mind. Who have YOU got to help you through each day, each week, each month? We can all be hit with challenges and struggles however we can all be carried through by others when we don’t feel strong enough. –
I went for a wander around my locality on Sunday evening. It was such a beautiful evening, the wind blowing through my hair, the sun bright on my face, the fresh awakening of a rain shower and the clashing sounds of the waves against the rocks. It was the perfect way to spend the last hour of my weekend and to set me up for the week ahead.
During my stroll I met a couple who too had the same idea, their faces really struck me as to how much Love and Joy they showed, while chasing each other up the little hill, admiring the beauty of the world around them, giggling and embracing one another as the sun set. –
It brought a smile to my face. In the work I do we often talk about Mirror Neurons – how our brains actually mirror facial, body features and non verbals from others. This was a simple example of how seeing two people full of love and happiness also brought a feeling of happiness to me. It sets off those happy hormones and brightened up my day. –
We can’t be happy, upbeat and full of life each second of the day. I don’t believe it’s possible, fair play to you if you are- what’s your secret!! It’s normal to feel depressed and down some days, normal to feel elevated and full of beans another, normal to feel sad and lonely, excited and optimistic. Each Feeling is NORMAL. We are not mere rocks at the side of the ocean, lifeless and emotionless. It’s OK to FEEL each and every Feeling. –
Seeing this couple on Sunday and chatting to various friends and family of mine over the last few days really emphasises for me the importance of having those other people to help you get by, to be your stronghold when you’re not so strong, to be your ‘lighthouse’ when your light is dimmed. Nobody can do it ALL on their own. Surround yourself with those who uplift you, who will sit with you in the darkness and who will show their love. Who can You Love today? .
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#love #lighthouse #support #feelings

SMILE 🙌🏻😃

Do we take enough time to focus on what makes us happy and brings a smile to our face? I often wonder if we put as much effort and energy at times into focusing on the things, people, experiences and memories that bring a smile to our face rather than complaining about the weather, the traffic, relationships, finances etc whether we would begin to feel better and as a result happier?

Over the weekend while reading I read the question ‘what are ten things that bring a smile to your face?’

Ashamedly I had to stop and think and I’ll be honest it didn’t come easy to me at first. Why? Do I not have many areas of my life that will give me that feel good factor? Why was it so difficult for me to think of 10? Then I nearly got into a panic and I certainly wasn’t feeling good!!!

I took the time out to reflect and wonder about what 10 things/people/places etc bring a smile to my face. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Adventures

I love hitting the road, going off on a little exploration and adventure to a place I’ve never been before. I really feel free when surrounded by and immersed in nature. It is one place that I feel relaxes me when I can hear the birds singing, feel the fresh air on my skin and also getting exercise while exploring.

2. Family

I don’t get to see my niece and nephews very often as they live in Glasgow but these kiddos certainly bring a smile to my face. There’s nothing better than releasing your inner child and enjoying fun and play. No better way than to join them! Yes I am a Play Therapist at work and you might wonder is that not what I do every day, however Therapy is a different story, you’re not playing as such as you’re facilitating a much deeper process of healing and helping support the child within their play. When was the last time you got down on the floor and played?!

3. Friends

Where would I be without my dear friends to help bring a smile to my face?! Especially on those days when all you feel like doing is cry!! I’d be lost without some really special friends that I have to listen, care, laugh and at times lean on.

4. Exercise

Although at the time of exercising I may look like I’m far from smiling, It always helps to cheer me up and feel happier. I’m very fortunate to be able to move and exercise. I know at times I complain about health issues and how I used to be able to run faster or longer etc however I try my best to feel gratitude for having the ability to exercise and to be healthy enough to do so. This brings a smile and even during the ‘pain and torture!’ at times there’s a laugh, a giggle and a smile with those around you!

5. Faith

My Faith makes me smile because there are plenty of moments that just seem to ‘fit’, to fall into place and as if the Universe has responded to my calls!! I also know that my prayers are answered and that the angels, God & Our Lady respond to my calls. They may not always deliver things in the way I have asked or pleaded for however I trust (most of the time!! It’s not an easy task!) that they are guiding me and know what’s best for me and my life.

6. Confidence

When I’m feeling confident, powerful and attractive! When my self image is positive and loving I smile. Surely we all smile when we feel good about ourselves, perhaps we’ve achieved something, fit into that dress we have been aiming for, got asked out on a date, gave a presentation. I know my confidence waxed and wanes, goes up and down and it depends on whether I feel capable, worthy and accepted a lot of the time. If I’ve achieved something like when I won Donegals Best Business Idea I felt like I could soar and reach all my goals, then other days you feel like that is all a dream and that you may never get there. That feeling of being powerful and big enough to surpass all your dreams gives me the biggest smile! I know I will 🙋🏻💪🏻

7. MusicMusic fills my heart with joy! I love listening to Spotify blaring in my car, singing my heart out and at times ‘escaping’ life to the rhythm and lyrics of a song! It certainly brings a smile to my face. Although I’ve also been known to shed an odd tear at some music too!!

8. Giving

It might sounds clichéd but it always brings a smile to me when I can give myself to others whether that be time, love, skills, brains etc! I also love to see other people giving to help others out, to brighten someone else’s day. There is something infectious when you see others sharing a tender moment, crying with joy, giving a loving embrace etc.

9. Being Creative

I LOVE to draw and paint, I find it so relaxing and therapeutic! I haven’t taken the time to sit and draw in ages. Also being creative within my writing, I love to write poems and writing these blog posts help me to smile. Even if I’m writing a blog that is full of sadness and pain after releasing it through my writing I usually tend to feel a whole lot brighter. If I feel that my sharing a piece of me may help just one other person I smile!

10. Books

New Books make me smile! I get so excited when I read something new that helps me to feel inspired, creates wonder and reflection. Yes I’m a deep thinker and it’s one of my qualities that I love. In my opinion we just exist if we don’t question some of our beliefs, attitudes and behaviours!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading 10 things that make me smile and I urge you to take some time out of your busy schedule to notice 10 things that bring that all important smile to your face ☺️♥️

Find A Friend for Life 👭👫

Sometimes when your having a bad day, when you feel like nothing is going right and you just need someone to ‘get it’ and ‘understand’ that one friend you reach out to, have a chat with, a cry with, a smile with can make the ‘worst’ day all ok again.

Does this happen to you? Who is that person you turn to when you need cheering up, a hug, a rant, or even that person you need to set you straight and tell you as it is?!! An honesty they possess that is admirable, no bullshitting!

I’m very grateful and lucky to have many good friends and within those I can say I have a handful that I could go to no matter what, I could go to them with the ‘good, the bad, the ugly!’

Do you ever stop and think about what people have come into your life at a particular time? Was there a reason? (There’s always a reason if you ask me!!!) Did you need to meet them at that particular time? Did they help you learn a lesson? Maybe that lesson was full of positivity or perhaps it was a tougher challenge in order to become stronger within, to respect yourself more and know how you deserve to be treated?

Perhaps it’s time to reflect on the kind of friend YOU have been to others? Have you been a good listener? Have you given your time to check in and connect with friends? Have you helped a friend out recently?

Life can get hectic. We all become really busy, however what good is life if we don’t make TIME for the people we have in our lives, to make memories, share ourselves with others? Human beings need connection, face to face interaction in order to survive. No matter how terrible you feel or how shit your life may feel right now, reach out to that friend you can rely on, that friend you wish to make amends with, that friend who needs some support.

You might just be making a really BIG difference. In giving we receive 👌🙌🏻

Tough Cookie Travels 🌎✈️

Tomorrow morning the Tough Cookie is taking her Dad off on an adventure to one of her most favourite, treasured and special places she has ever visited – Medjugorje.

This place I and so many call ‘Home‘, is hard to sum up in words, to explain and to understand. It’s an Experience and I guarantee you one you’ll have never witnessed before. This magical land is full of miracles, blessings, healing and light.

I’ve shared memories previously of the signs I’ve received while there of butterflies, the sun, the peace and feeling my beautiful mother close by me. For the last three years I’ve been trying to get my Dad to visit Medjugorje but one vital element was missing. I always said he’d have to go on his own with a group for his first visit. To my disgust I used to believe that we would ‘kill’ each other if we went together. How dreadful to even say those words never mind think them. That WAS the space I was in, full of grief for my mam’s death, in pain, angry and confused. Sadly I took this out on my Dad, the one person closest to me and whom I love above and beyond. It is so so true that those closest to us we can at times hurt the most.

Thank God I ‘saw the light’, I can now see clearly, I unravelled those blockages and continue to do so each moment of each day, we can be so blinded, so unwilling to go inwards, self-reflect and instead blame others around us, blame life for not working out, for feeling stuck etc

I, the Tough Cookie had to be weak, be vulnerable, to breakdown in order to rise again, to find clarity, to want change, transformation and to feel love, peace and light in my life once again.

My prayer, faith, trust and determination has helped me with this and I must add along with very special family, friends and strangers I’ve met along the way. Courses such as the Landmark Forum has helped me to take action, to create magical and magnificent possibilities for my life, my future and those BIG dreams I am manifesting into reality.

I feel fully blessed and grateful for my life, for myself ‘Deirdre Nicole Ward‘ for the first time in a long time (if not ever!!)

I am taking a well deserved break from my Tough Cookie Blog, from work, from my busy schedule to make Magical Memories with my Dad, to feel at ease and peace and to live every second fully this next week.

I look forward to sharing my trip with you all on my return. And remember you’re ‘One Tough Cookie’ 💪🏻🍪💜

What’s been Your Path this Last Year? 👣

This morning I have done something that I usually don’t and something that in the past I would have found quite difficult and challenging. What did I do?

I paused, I acknowledged and I looked back at my past year and I felt proud! I looked at how far I have come over the last year, I checked back at my blog posts and the one below was from this time last year. I felt lost, I felt I needed to have and know ALL the answers, know what path to take, to have CONTROL over my life. I felt my energy dipping, like everything was such a struggle.

What I didn’t know is that I was making it that way, I was blocking myself, not seeing clearly and that having a blank canvas and blank mind IS actually a positive. It’s where you want to be! There is a limitless amount of potential and possibility when the mind is blank, room to create, room to dream, to take action and to fill that blank canvas with brilliant, bright colour!!

This is exactly what I AM doing! I’m excited about today, about tomorrow, I’m trusting the plan for me, I’m facing fears, taking action, not waiting for it all to just happen, that approach doesn’t work if you don’t ‘work’!

Those times last year when I felt like giving up, like I was blank have all been worth it, I now TRUST that all is already well. We live so much in fear, afraid that we won’t survive!

Today take a look back on your last year. Look back at the steps you took, the path you have taken. You’re STILL here. You Got Through, you Survived those challenges. You were guided. You’re provided for. Everything comes good in the end!

https://mytoughcookie.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/blank-%f0%9f%92%ad/

Some People have Invisible Wings!! 👼💕

Do people ever enter your life and you think ‘gosh that was meant to be’ or ‘I feel like I know that person all my life?’ You feel connected immediately as if you’ve met before? Or has somebody ever guided you in making a decision or in a path to follow that has helped you with a challenge or helped you find answers you were searching for?

This has happened me numerous times in the past, no doubt it had been happening all my life but I was unaware of it, I wasn’t open enough to seeing it or perhaps believing it.

So many people I have met I have felt an immediate connection with, shared some similar stories (this can even be spooky at times!!) so many coincidences, too many to mention! Do you believe it’s All Chance? Or is there more behind these incidents? These acquaintances? I believe there is.

I love to think of certain people on this planet as ‘Earth Angels’. There are so so many gifted and talented people out there for many different reasons. We are all gifted, however some of us are still searching for those gifts, struggle to see them, but trust me they’re there. You might just need to ‘waken up’, take a look in that mirror.

Only yesterday I had an experience with one of the many angels in my life! I was dosed with the flu in bed, feeling horrendous struggling with the dose and on top of it my constant struggle with my gut. It was my Mam’s 72nd Birthday, our 4th one without her so I guess you could say that I have had better days! I posted a cherished photo of mine and my mams hands clasped together on social media as a little tribute and one very special friend reached out to me and sent me a message to ‘check in’ with me and send some love. She asked how I was feeling and asked about my health as she’s aware of the challenges I’ve had of late. She also has her own pain with her health and so as before shared how she finds great help from a healer that she visits. This news was nothing I hadn’t heard before but something made me act yesterday, I rang his number in the off chance of getting an appointment. In my mind I was thinking of next Tuesday as I’m travelling to Dublin anyways and thought I may be able to kill two birds with one stone, but I knew this healer is so popular that there is usually a waiting list of a few months.

To make a long story short, I couldn’t believe it when I rang and the lady said he’d just gotten a cancellation for next Tuesday morning!! WOW! This had to be!!

Without that message from my dear friend, I would not have made the phone call yesterday. I also find it comforting that these little signs happened on my mam’s birthday as I know in my heart and soul she’s holding my hand every single day, loving me, guiding me and helping me.

Who are the Earth Angels in Your Life? How do You try to be one for others?

Take A Leap Today 💪🏻🧚🏻‍♀️👟

When did YOU last take a leap of Faith? Tried something new? Took a chance? Did something for the benefit of others?

I have signed up to complete this tandem parachute jump on the August bank holiday for a charity ‘No Barriers Foundation’ whose MISSON is to raise funds for an Exoskeleton suit for use in the North & North West of Ireland. This will enable children/adults who have muscle difficulties from mild muscle weakness to severe spinal cord injuries. Can you imagine never knowing what it’s like to walk or stand up? This sadly is reality for so many but this suit can make this dream of theirs a reality with the help of this suit. There are currently only 4 in Ireland.

So WHY have I decided to get involved? I have witnessed the fragility of life first hand, I’ve seen and felt how your whole world can be changed over night, when bad news comes knocking on your door, when health is removed and sickness faces your family. We never know what is around the corner so why do we become stuck? Why do we put things off until ‘someday’ or ‘tomorrow’? Why not take the bull by the horns as the saying goes and live every opportunity that comes your way TODAY?

I had an urge to complete another challenge, to help others and this came along at the perfect time, I like to think of it as divine timing. Every day in my work and through my own personal experiences of being Adopted, loosing my Mam to cancer I’m seeing how life can affect us and how we can become emotionally blocked, anxious, fearful, angry, frustrated. These feelings don’t go away, they can become suppressed and affect us later in life if not dealt with TODAY. Us Irish at times can be renowned for ‘brushing things under the carpet’, not addressing that ‘elephant in the room’. But that elephant will eventually be heard, will make its mark, will use its strength and destroy that room if not dealt with. Why do we avoid help? Why do we put it off?

ACT TODAY. Life’s too short. Value yourself and your family. Love your ‘Best Life’, you’ve only got the 1! I remember doing my first skydive in Dubai for raising funds for Chernobyl (I volunteered in 2016) and I will never forget the sense of freedom and of peace I felt. I felt Alive.

Help me to live my best life, by helping others! My goal is to raise €1,000 but I only have a couple of weeks to do so (4-5weeks). Help me make a difference. Take a Leap or Faith with me!

Any donations are greatly appreciated, every little counts in helping make a big difference.

https://www.gofundme.com/no-barriers-foundation

The Tough Cookie Treks 🏔

Hi Tough Cookies, I’m BACK!!

Thank you to everyone who shared a piece in the last two weeks, each and every story, nugget of insight was invaluable and no doubt touched those people that needed to read them. I for one know that each piece brought some comfort, support, guidance and truth for me. You can feel proud for sharing a piece of your journey to help others.

I have to admit as much as I was SO grateful to others for sharing blog posts I missed writing my own! Doesn’t writing your thoughts and feelings just bring about such healing and help you to understand that bit more clearly what is going on inside your body and mind? It makes us slow down and connect that bit more fully.

Life isn’t easy by any means but what I am really focusing on at the minute is it’s beauty. Especially during this beautiful spell of sunshine we here in Ireland are being blessed with at the minute it is much easier to see and feel gratitude each and every day. Gratitude for the smallest things that we too quickly take for granted – friendships, nature, health, a smile, a hug.

Yesterday I went on an adventure and climbed Mount Errigal here in Donegal, it was just what my soul needed. A wonderful friend, giggles, contemplations on life, fresh air, exercise, one or two stumbles along the way 🙈, meeting strangers and a lovely meal shared.

This is what life is all about. Taking time out to enjoy simple pleasures right on your doorstep, meaningful friendships with those people who uplift you and connect with you, getting outdoors moving your body, filling your lungs with fresh air and feeling grateful for the bright days.

As I write this I have a smile on my face along with a slightly swollen and bruised hand! I smile because reflecting on my ‘falls’ (yes it’s plural) yesterday as I made the descent down to the bottom of the mountain, the first stumble I had, I laughed it off, a shock but relatively unhurt. The second fall (within the next 10mins!) almost mirrored the first, the same impact, the same body part and yes much more painful!

I smile because isn’t life a bit like this? We stumble, we fall, we fall many times, repeating the same mistakes, taking the same path until we take the ‘final’ blow and get fed up of the pain, the hurt. We decide to take a different path, we decide to rise and get up, mustering up all the strength we can find and feel determined to overcome that particular hill/peak/climb.

This is exactly how I feel. I have felt like I have been climbing an uphill battle for sometime in particular with my grief & health, yes along the way there have no doubt been some even and smooth terrain, but there have been many falls, loose stones and shaky ground. I heard the passage at mass this weekend in one of the readings that ‘our weaknesses make us strong‘ and I know and trust that this is the complete truth and every stumble has been for an important reason. Choose to view your struggles and ‘falls’ in this light and you WILL overcome them.

“I have Fallen

Over & Over

I have made the same

Mistakes

Again & Again

But I Trust

In the Path I Pave

Step by Step

It’s How I’m Saved”

(Deirdre Ward)

My Miracle 🙏🌟

A Wonderful Story of Faith and Prayer this morning and how it Transformed this Tough Cookie’s life. Thank you for sharing. 🙏🌟

I did not grow up with a strong faith foundation and due to difficulties in my family; my dad struggling with alcoholism, the concept of God as father was always hard to grasp. I am the eldest of five and unfortunately I was not a good example growing up to my other siblings, at least not during my teenage years. I did not respond well to the family situation at home and by the age of fifteen, I was expelled from secondary school and was spending most of my free time drinking and taking drugs. This chaotic lifestyle eventually got me in trouble with the law, to the point of a court case, wherein I was up for eleven charges. My solicitor told my family that a prison sentence was most likely.

In my desperation, I turned to God in prayer. Coincidentally, my Dad who had been sober for a few years through AA at this stage, had met a man there who introduced him to the rosary, and my dad began praying a decade a night for my conversion. This same man organizes and leads groups to Medjugorje on pilgrimage. My father begged him to bring me, and so he did, although with some apprehension due to my not so good reputation.

I did not know where I was going, and it was probably just as well. Looking back now, God had planned everything the way it needed to be. The first couple of days were rather fruitless, as I spent them mostly in the sun or in the pubs. However, on the third day, I felt impelled to climb apparition hill with the group, and I don’t know what happened but I came down that hill a different man. It is hard to articulate, but halfway through the rosary, which we were praying as we climbed, I felt Our Lady embrace me with a warmth and a love out of this world which broke through all my defences. I basically just fell in love with the Blessed Virgin. I returned to the sacraments in Medjugorje, on the eve of Divine mercy 2005.

Two weeks later, the time of my court case arrived. I was eighteen years old, which meant that I was on stand. However, whenever the judge asked me anything, the three gardai who were present in the courtroom, interrupted and demanded that I be sentenced without being heard. I have to admit, I feared the worst, despite the number of people praying for a successful hearing. Nevertheless, the power of those prayers became undeniable as the judge sent the three gardai out of the courtroom, so that she could hear what I had to say.

I just told her about my visit to Medjugorje, and how I believed that God would help me change my life around. She was obviously touched or maybe she had not heard this kind of resolve before. Either way, I received 200 hours community service, a curfew of 9pm for one year and a suspended sentence. I believed God seen the sincerity in my heart, and that he was my judge in the courtroom not her, and that she was just the instrument of his mercy.

It was the lifeline I needed and by grace of God I made a firm resolution to change and become a new man. I promised Our Lady a rosary every day, which I’m certain kept me on the straight and narrow. I started going to Knock shrine with my mother every Friday for period of time, which helped nurture a strong devotion in me towards the Eucharist.

Thereafter, I started working with my father who is a stone mason in construction. This was divinely orchestrated as it really helped heal my relationship with my dad. A few years later, I joined the legion of Mary, which brought my relationship with Our Lady to a whole new level, and also emboldened me to go out of myself and reach out to others.

Eventually, I felt the only way I could repay God for all the good received, was to lay down my life and enter the seminary to become a priest. I joined a religious order in the Philippines and lived there for almost four years. However, it wasn’t to be and after two years of poor health and then a tragedy in the family, I decided to come home.

I am back in Ireland a little over six years, and am now married to my amazing wife Emily, who is expecting our first child. Moreover, since I’ve been home I have been blessed to lead a number of youth groups to Medjugorje, and have been involved in other evangelization initiatives. None of this would have been possible without God. If one looks at my past, it’s quite clear that God’s touch transformed my life.

Seek first the kingdom and the rest will be added unto you.” This is my favourite scripture as I’ve discovered that you cannot outdo God in generosity. I realized the more I put God first and at the center, the more he blessed my life a hundredfold. God means everything to me, and it’s His great love that keeps pushing me to be better man. He’s my rock.