When we are hurting and in pain it can be so easy to point the finger, look outside of ourselves and blame another. We have ALL done it at some stage or another, I’m sure. In the past I found it extremely difficult to take responsibility and onus for my actions or words that may have been wrong and that may have caused upset. At times I felt that I had been hard done by and that I wasn’t fully to blame.
Looking back, what was behind it and why did I find that so difficult? It was down to the immense pressure that I put on myself to get everything just right, to be perfect, do everything the ‘right’ way and if I didn’t well I sure as hell wasn’t going to admit to it or be found out! I can remember as a child I would have been sneaky at times, when I say sneaky I do mean in an innocent way (see there I am again trying to portray it nicely!!) Is there any nice side to sneaky? I doubt it! OK I was sneaky!! I won’t worm my way out of that one. I used to quietly go about my business and plan how I could get that biscuit before dinner time or how I could sway my family to siding with me whereas in contrast my sister was being much more authentic and honest as she would either just take the biscuit or ask outwardly!
That was about the height of my sneakiness however now at 30 it has got me thinking as to why I felt the need to be that way at all? As you know most traits, beliefs, values stem from childhood and we can take on ways of being to compensate for something that we feel is ‘lacking’ inside. So where did the sneaky side of me stem from? How and Why was it fueled?
Reminiscing as I sit and write this, reflecting on my personality and my ways of behaving, I hate confrontation, I don’t like it when people fall out or there is tension. I do think that I believed it was a better way out to be sneaky, quiet and at times dishonest rather than getting the blame for something, feeling like you were a let down or that you disappointed someone. I HATE that sense that I have disappointed someone, let someone down, but surely that has to happen too in order for us to learn? Disappointments happen, they are a part of life and what I have learned is that these disappointments are not fully in our control.
You cannot control or please another, keep them happy and free from disappointments. They have their own EXPECTATIONS of how you should be and act in relation to them. I have my own EXPECTATIONS of how the other person should be and act with me. If there isn’t communication, if we are being ‘sneaky’, well how are you supposed to even know what thoughts that other person has, the level of expectation or their beliefs about how you should be? I do think that this lack of honesty, openness, communication is where blame begins. I also know from my own experiences that blame originates within. Probably most significantly this is the source as if you blame yourself, feel ‘not good enough’, feel like a fraud, a failure (Whatever beliefs and story you have told yourself) the expectations stem from this for how you behave and how you expect others to behave in relation to you.
‘In Relation’ being another factor that must be taken into account. As they say ‘no man is an island’ it is all about how you relate and interact to yourself, with others and your world. With my work with children and parents each and every day it boils down to how I relate to myself, who I am? how I relate to others, how I see others around me and what I believe the world to be like? These are the Core Values that we form by the age of 3! These can still be the very reasons why at 30, at 60 at 70 years of age we can struggle and find our old ways creeping back in.
Where is YOUR FINGER pointing?
‘You’re to Blame!
It’s NOT ME
You just Can’t SEE!
You Believe its ALL
Drop Your Hand
Take a Stand
Does it Stem
These last few days I’ve been more aware and alert within my conversations with people and those chats I have with myself. I’m noticing how at times I hold back with what I wish to say, hold back out of fear, fear of offending, fear of sounding ‘silly‘, fear of being powerful and getting it ‘wrong‘. If you look at these two words in bold it sums up why I hold back, how at times I don’t trust myself, my feelings and my words. Worried about being embarrassed, out of order or wrong.
We all feel Fear. It can even keep us from ‘feeling‘ it can have such a hold over us and cause us to feel miserable. As I mentioned these last few days I’m much more conscious as to what I’m leaving out of conversations, what I’m shying away from saying. I’m pushing myself to not succumb to the fear, to go ahead and speak my truth. We all know honesty is the best policy! Why then do we feel we can’t fully say what we’re thinking or feeling? For example I know so many times people have asked me how are you? It’s like an automated response of I’m grand, yeah all good with me! Wonderful if it is, however I do feel strongly that we believe we have to nearly say this, that we can’t let that somebody know actually today I’m having a shit day, I feel down in the dumps, I’m worried/scared etc! Has this happened to you? Do you find you do this often? Maybe at times you think that the other person is just saying it to be polite and doesn’t really care about how you are? Lots of thoughts circling around in your head!!
The above photo was taken in August 2015 when I represented Abu Dhabi in the Rose of Tralee. At that time I was going through a shit time in the UAE. I was merely existing. I was really depressed, miserable away from home and fear had most definitely it’s hold on me. Yet to look at me on the stage being interviewed you would think I had all my ducks in a row! That life was treating me well. I remember Daithí asking me about my life in Abu Dhabi and how I talked about it in a real positive light. I wasn’t being authentic or genuine. I felt I had to portray it in this light. Perhaps I did. But Why?
It fascinates me to think of what is unsaid or what is missing. What do we leave out? This may be consciously or subconsciously left out? Within my work as a Play Therapist we are always reminded to take note of elements that may be missing within the session with a child. For example if in every session the child plays with the sandtray, if one week they come and don’t do this usual routine, there is huge significance to this. This has got me thinking to other areas and contexts within life. During conversations, what may be missing from your speech, your behaviours, that of others? Are they leaving out pieces of information, words unspoken, feelings unexpressed?
Of course it’s hard to know the answers to this all the time but you DO know and have Control over what’s there for you. What do you find your not saying? What elements do you intentionally or unintentionally leave out of scenarios? Do you ‘forget’? Are you holding back from telling somebody something? It’s in your mind yet you keep shying away from it? Why’s that?
I’m being more honest and genuine in listening to myself, speaking my truth, not holding back and also being present to what may be missing for other people while I interact with them. As I said I may never fully know but I can have fun wondering! It also makes me more compassionate and empathetic as I’m not as quick to judge or make them wrong.
Give it a go!
“Words Left Unspoken
In my Mind
They were not Chosen!
Is it Fear of being
Or Fear of
It Causes you to
Suffer each Day
How would it Feel
To Be Real?”
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 👌🙌🏻
What lens are you viewing the world with? Is it one of cynicism? Is it a loving view? A mistrustful one? An angry set of eyes? What perspective do you automatically take when you’re feeling threatened/inferior? Do you have many different lens that you see from?
For me, of course in different situations I would have viewed scenarios, myself and others with various different sets of eyes. When I feel comfortable and safe with someone I’d have been seeing from a trusting and loving stance, if I felt threatened by a situation or person I’d automatically change to that of wariness, caution and mistrust. I’d often see from the lens of being tough, getting on with things and fending for myself. I didn’t get the name Tough Cookie by chance!
It’s amazing to reflect if we can at different times, to check into our minds and bodies as to why we behave, think and react in various ways. For example lately I felt threatened by someone and internalised it that it meant they thought I was incapable, inferior to them and that they didn’t believe in me enough. When I look back I was wrong, the reality was that they were looking out for me, my best interests and keeping me safe! How wrong we can get things!! Another example lately was how I found out I had been lied to by someone close to me so that led me to doubt this person’s love for me, that I no longer could believe them entirely and that they must have a lot to hide from me.
How we are programmed and conditioned from experiences we have had in our pasts affect how we react and respond to others. If we tell ourselves it’ll always be a particular way or that a particular person will never change and always behave in a certain way that for sure is how it will remain!!
Change happens when we change, when we let down our guard and act in a new way so that you see yourself, others, scenarios and the world in a new light, with a fresh set of eyes.
Try on a new set of eyes today, view someone in a different light an unfamiliar way of seeing them, of being around them and responding to them. It’s like seeing them for the first time! Let go of any notions that you have of them previously and see what happens!!
Look out from the lens of L O V E
“If you See
The way you Always See
That’s the Way it’ll Always Be
Try a New Way
A New Set of Eyes
You Might just Be
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?
Last weekend I completed a personal development course and then on Tuesday I went exploring Glendalough in Co. Wicklow for the day. The course was an intense 3 days of self-reflection, on challenging past stories that inform our present and future and on how to be more fully ‘present‘ to our lives right here, right now.
Sounds like mindfulness doesn’t it? But NO this was much much more. I’ve read the self-help books, the books for becoming present and aware of those thoughts and on how to take action and become powerful. For me it struck a chord within but it never reached the core of me, that deep inner piece of me that was able to fully feel and resonate completely with all my being! This course did that.
On Monday & Tuesday I felt fully awake and alive like I had never before. I went to a spa on Monday and it was like I could feel my body fully for the first time ever. How had I not felt this way for 30years? Had I previously and just forgotten how to? Did I allow life and life’s circumstances/events numb me? I must have been quite disconnected and never fully realised. I remember stepping into the swimming pool Monday and my body felt so light, so free and each part of me ‘felt‘ the cold water like never before.
Tuesday was a day for exploring Glendalough and just like Monday it was like I could hear, see, feel and smell everything around me in its entirety. The stillness and calmness of the lake, the uphill climb of the mountains, the interactions while passing people and also the ‘lack of’ interactions from people. I noticed nature, I escaped everyday life and I was being fully present to myself and the world around me.
Do we take enough time to slow down, fully feel, fully free ourselves up to the beauty that is around us? The beauty that is YOU and the endless possibilities that your life holds? No, we become stuck in our limitations, our doubts, fears and worries.
Take time today to sit and ‘be‘, not to sit and think, take time to look around you, within you instead of at that screen we are so used to. Smile at a stranger, spark a conversation and open yourself up that little bit more. You never know what will happen, what opportunities exist and what life can unfold!
“Open Fully Your Eyes
You Might Find
There’s More to See
A Different Way to Be
It’s Called Being ‘ME’!”
Here are some phrases that have helped a Tough Cookie. Most were learned the hard way. And they’ve meant a lot at different times to this person.
What are your daily mantras/quotes/reminders?
Thanks to another Tough Cookie for sharing a piece of them 💪🏻🍪💜
Lately I’ve been contemplating LOVE – what it looks like, feels like and hope it to be like.
A basic need, right? To be loved and to love in return? What does it look like and feel like for you? Are our impressions on love shaped by our parents? Our childhood? Our experiences? How could they not be? Thankfully going on my childhood and my parents, LOVE was always present. Growing up I felt much love, I felt cared for, protected and safe. I think you’d agree – one of the highest criteria for love to exist.
I did have a romantic and somewhat disillusioned picture of what love is and I think it’s down to TV programmes, films and the notion that love is like one big fairytale, blissfully smooth, easy and happy. It’s NOT! Love is in those little gestures you perform for your other half, for your friends & family, for yourself. It’s in a cup of tea/coffee, a warm smile, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, the honest truth – the list goes on.
Surely it can be more flamboyant, more expressive and sweep you off your feet every once in a while but that isn’t the glue that allows it to stick and last. What I can see as the glue, the moulding and the life lasting is in consistency, is in honesty, is in openness and is in effort.
My experiences? When I think of LOVE I don’t reminisce on my own story anymore, what I see is the love that existed between my Mam & Dad. My Dad, one of the most unromantic people on this planet, who didn’t need to show his love in those false and showy ways, no, it was in his quiet reassurance, his calming presence, his silence, his touch. An honest love. A simple love and a love that would do anything for his better half. This is not false, not showy, this is raw, true and wholesome.
Love has been reframed for me. My impression and view has changed. My ‘criteria’, my ‘checklist’ has been adapted. My worthiness informs my decisions now. As a person who naturally loves, who likes to openly show it and share it, (and may I add I wouldn’t change this) however, this past year I have learned to pick & choose the people, the circumstances, the times when it’s deserved, it fits and when it really and truly is LOVE – the proper kind! ❤️
“Lasts a Lifetime
All my life I’ve been swayed by other’s opinions, asking what I ‘SHOULD‘ do about certain decisions. I was afraid to trust myself most of the time, feeling that I couldn’t possibly know what’s right and taking somewhat of a ‘safe’ option by instead trusting in what OTHERS said was safe/right/wrong etc.
To be honest I have been working soo hard on trusting myself to know what’s right for me, trusting my gut (yes that’s hard when it’s so wonky and faulty!!!!!) It’s NOT EASY! Sure wouldn’t it be easier to ‘blame’ someone else for failures, things going wrong after decisions were made?? Thinking about it just now, that is what I have essentially been doing for so long, I sound like a bit of a fraud then?!!!! I’m a firm advocate of believing in oneself, ones dreams, taking risks and seizing the day!!! Yet I have contradicted myself. I’ve been a bit of a cheat because only YESTERDAY I allowed others opinions to rattle me, to ‘nearly’ change my mind and I began to ‘DOUBT’ myself and what I know to be true for ME!!
How AWFUL?? RIGHT!! It is awful to hand power over to others based on YOUR LIFE and the decisions you have to make. Why are you allowing someone else to decide about YOUR DREAMS, YOUR LIFE?? Madness!!!
Yes I know it’s great to get peoples advice, opinions and especially from those in your life that you value, trust and know that are upfront and honest. Don’t get me wrong that IS needed at times. Just not ALL the time!!
I felt rattled yesterday, I was completely shaken off my ‘path’ and nearly redirected. Thankfully I went back to MY GUT, to MY DREAMS and to MY INNER VOICE and stuck to what I KNOW to be TRUE for ME!
Of Course they Do
But Don’t Allow them
To Sway You
For YOU KNOW
The part of this quote that really struck a chord within me was the first line. How often do we look down at the ground instead of holding our head high? Avoid making eye contact, avoiding connections with others? Too occupied with looking down at our phone screen? Do you look up enough each day, take notice of the people and things around you?
Personally I know some days I’m quite observant, I’m naturally curious and I like to wonder about my life. Wonder about why things worked out the way they did in the past, curious to know how my life will unfold in the future. But all too often I avoided being in the present moment, being content with what I have/felt/faced right here, right now. It’s no easy task!! Wishing I could turn back time to better, happier days, wanting to fast forward to my vision, to reaching various goals. At times I’m very impatient about all of this! However, most importantly I don’t acknowledge ENOUGH how far I HAVE come, goals I HAVE achieved and differences I HAVE made!
We don’t give ourselves enough credit or praise. We aren’t a nation that’s bursting with confidence and pride. On Wednesday I had the honour of judging the Student Enterprise Programme, an initiative by the Local Enterprise Office. I met, interacted with and listened to 20 groups (some individual) of teenagers from Secondary Schools around Co. Donegal who had developed an idea and were running mini companies. I was blown away by the standard of products/services but the biggest observation I had was how CONFIDENT these pupils were, the PASSION and ENTHUSIASM that oozed from them was inspiring. I ‘wondered’ about how I was at that age growing up, I began to be ‘curious’ about how the world is changing and evolving!
At the minute there is so much talk about the problems with social media, with bullying and the worrying effects of too much exposure on young people today. Yes I agree to an extent it is a problem and one that needs to be tackled but my view changed on Wednesday when I saw how these pupils used social media effectively to run businesses, when I saw how socially engaged they were when interacting with myself and the judges and most importantly how much they had SELF-BELIEF and a VISION. I for one most definitely didn’t have those skills at their age. Another word comes to mind is RESILIENCE, there are talks of our young people today lacking resiliency but if that group of young people are anything to go by it’s safe to say resiliency is still present today!
What’s All Around?
Are YOU A Part
It’s OK to Restart!”
Happy International Women’s Day!! 👭💪🏻🙋🏻
I hadn’t written a poem in a while so I put pen to paper of what I see when I think of myself and so many other strong, determined, inspiring and beautiful women that I know and have met along the way.
Lately I have been struggling with trying to not be ‘so strong’, trying to not live up so much to my Tough Cookie persona. Why? Because I feel I have toughened myself too much in ways, hardened my heart from allowing myself to occasionally break down and cry, feel my emotions fully and let ‘loose’. Don’t get me wrong I love how strong and determined I am, I take pride in it and have always been that way but it does take its toll on the body and unconsciously my mind and body don’t know any different! But it’s not healthy to be tough and tense all the time. It’s like I’m in constant fight/flight mode at times. 👊🏼✈️
So for me, this morning pondering Women’s Day, it’s those women who are emotional, who wear their hearts upon their sleeve, who feel every feeling that comes their way and that aren’t afraid to express it or show it that are truly inspiring and strong. At times women are ridiculed for being so emotional and ‘sensitive’ but what a beautiful trait that is, that’s a sign of somebody who is fully connected to themselves, to others and to life. Everybody has a heart, it’s there to feel. We ALL have feelings and it’s my opinion that if we all showed and bore our feelings that little bit more the world would be a healthier and more beautiful place with less arguments and misunderstandings.
With Mother’s Day approaching on Sunday I can’t help but think of my Mam, one of the strongest and most influential women in my life. Her strength and beauty shone in the way she lived her life: her values, her love, her interactions and her heart. Pain she had and carried like a soldier, love she felt and expressed it deeply, fears she fought and courage she kept. Recently I’ve thought about how just like my Mam, my birth mother must be a strong woman, strength to part with me knowing I’d have a better life, pain felt in making a life changing decision, love shown for me and my family and heartache no doubt every single day. It’s women like these that shine 🌟 Mothering isn’t an easy task, my eyes were opened when my nephew came along. I’ve yet to become one but some day please God I will be blessed with children. But right now I’m enjoying my independence and finding my feet!!
Yes we have our famous female icons, those women that have achieved the unachievable, that have made history and that have proven we are every bit as equal as men. You don’t need to be written about in books, interviewed on the media, achieve the unachievable to be a woman who shines bright and makes a difference. You’ve got the Power, the Poise and the Passion within! 💪🏻❤️
To ALL the beautiful Women today – SHINE! 🌟
Valentine’s Day is upon us and the beginning of Lent. Are you ‘giving up’ on Love??
My 30th Birthday is also fast approaching and to be honest I would have thought I’d be settled and in love by this milestone. Am I disappointed? Yes & No! Yes because I do long for that special someone to share my life with, I have so much love to give but also No as it clearly hasn’t been right yet! Patience really is a virtue.
Am I ‘easy’ to Love? Is anybody?!! Surely everyone has to ‘work’ at Love. Want to know ‘How to LOVE ME, the TOUGH COOKIE?!‘
Listen to One Another
Am I ‘high maintenance?!’ Surely that’s not too much to ask! I Love to Love but I’m saving a special part of my heart for that ‘Valentine‘ ❤️
My favourite piece on LOVE:
Don’t give up on Love, work for it, at it & NEVER STOP! Happy Valentines Day Tough Cookies 🍪
Do we really pay enough attention to each other? To ourselves? To life around us? Or are we too busy ploughing through the day, too busy to say hi, too busy to look around at all that lives, too busy to pay attention?
I know I always haven’t in the past but it is something I try my best to do a little bit more of each day. I try to pay attention to those I meet, the company I’m in, pay attention to myself, how I’m feeling and as difficult as I find it at times to really figure out my mood/mind each day. Is it upbeat, excited or do I feel down in the dumps and why? The WHY being the key!
Surely with all the new technologies, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder (did I just mention Tinder?!) yes been there done that, failed miserably ha, not for me!!!😂🙈🙅🏻♀️we do get distracted, paying attention has turned more to a screen, photos online and profiles of oneself/others. This isn’t paying ATTENTION. 🤳🏻❌
TRUE attention requires eye contact, it oozes with compassion and connection. It feels ALIVE. This feeling that I LOVE hit me out of the blue yesterday and at no better time than when working with a child during Play Therapy. My favourite moments. Exactly why I love my job. #UNLOCK. Play Therapy is connection, it is showing and communicating that you’re fully present and with the other. Why can’t this be shown and given each moment of the day? To yourself & to others.
“Hold the GazeYou’ll be Amazed How Much You See!Of Course no GuaranteeThe Key?Simply ‘Be’! (Deirdre Ward)
Do you allow others to take ‘pieces’ or ‘chunks’ out of you or have you the control to give to others when you feel it’s needed? Do you make conscious decisions about when you help another or do you find yourself being taken advantage of and others deciding for you?
One thing that fascinates me is the energy you can feel and sense from others. Some people uplift you, others bring you down, some you can feel a huge sadness for and some you can sense their love/compassion for you. I don’t stop and take notice enough of how another ‘is‘ with me and in my company. At times I’m too distracted by myself, my life, my worries and workload.
I love to give to others in ways that help them, positively make a little difference and be that listening ear. Lately my own head has felt full to the brim, I need a decluttering so that I can fully ‘be’ with others when in company. I’ve gotten so much stronger at being able to choose/identify who and what brings joy to my life, is impacting my life positively, where there’s a mutual gain and to put my priorities first.
“Giving & Receiving
Both bring Meaning
It’s Not about Needing
You don’t Have to be