Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Spotlight- #reverb15

Go on, show us your selfie! You know you want to.

If you've been a part of Reverb before, you know that this is the bit where I invite you to share your favourite photo of yourself from the year (selfie or otherwise). 

I avoid taking selfies on principle.  Most of my photos are of other people. My favourite photos from 2015 feature family members or friends beside me.  I chose to post this particular picture because it was a colorful, carefree moment last summer. Having FUN is a priority in my life, and this image captures our light-hearted mood!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Surprise- #Reverb15

What surprised you this year?

Last winter my partner, with the help of a good friend of mine, threw a surprise birthday party for me at our local pub. We had just finished a romantic dinner at a nearby restaurant. I wanted nothing more than to linger over my glass of wine while enjoying my boyfriend's company. I suspected something was up because he couldn't stop fidgeting and checking his phone.

My plan was to quietly ease into the next decade without much fuss. To be honest, I didn't want to draw attention to this particular milestone. After all, I was still adjusting to the idea of approaching midlife.  My actual age doesn't reflect how I feel.  I have a lot of energy and I'm physically as fit as I was in my 20's.  It doesn't help me to accept my age when people mistake me for being at least 10 years younger.  When strangers ask if my oldest son is my brother, I'm sometimes tempted to play along.

In light of this, imagine my surprise when we walked into the pub and everyone jumped out singing Happy Birthday.  I was photographed looking dazed and confused beside a large cake bearing my name with the big four-o etched in the icing. Within minutes photos were posted on to social media, announcing to all and sundry that I had indeed turned forty.  I couldn't have been happier.  

Some may say it's only a number, but that's simply not true.  I've noticed big shifts within myself since that cold January night.  My hair is beginning to turn grey, spider veins are increasing, and my laugh lines have slightly deepened.  These external differences are admittedly minor, but some of the physical changes are more significant.  "The change" is looming ahead. Every time I see a newborn, I'm aware that my childbearing days are nearly over.  My 3 children are quickly growing up. I'll never experience their childhoods again.  I'm proud of the people they are becoming, but I miss those early years, despite how exhausted I felt during most of it.  

By the time  I graduated from college, I was already the mother of a small baby.  For a long time I dreamed of freedom.  I looked forward to my kids growing up so I could travel and pursue other ambitions. It's ironic... now that my home is filled with teenagers on the verge of independence, I frequently dream of the most gorgeous, soft, cuddly babies.  Admittedly it's a relief to wake up and realise there are no diapers to change.  Yet some part of me wishes I could do it all over again.  Age has a funny way of playing tricks on us.  When we're young, we imagine the lives we wish we could have.  When we're older, we realise that we had what we needed all along, it just wasn't so clear at the time. 

Perhaps that's just my experience. 

Surprisingly I've grown to love being forty.  I've stepped into my power as a woman.  I'm not afraid to speak my mind.  I trust my judgement. I know and accept myself. I care less about what others think of me.  I've learned to cope with heartbreak and loss; grief won't kill me, and my scars have their own kind of beauty.  Even the mistakes I've made have been a gift. Failure has led me to deeper understanding.  I'm grateful for every twist, turn, and misstep I've made because they have brought me here, to this precious moment.  Thank you for sharing it with me.

For the month of December I will be participating in #reverb15. If you're interested in learning more or receiving prompts such as the one I explored today, click here

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Lists and Prayers #reverb15

What sort of lists do you have on the go at the moment?  What do they suggest you are praying for?

  • Help my son pack for his upcoming transatlantic move!


let go gracefully

care of the soul

  • Commit  to craft projects… Finish knitting my daughter’s Christmas gift.  Move on to handmade felt and sewing projects in the New Year.


  • Prepare for teaching new dance-fitness programs I plan to launch in January


  • Try cooking one new healthy recipe a week.  


  • Write my annual family newsletter to post with Christmas cards. 

enduring friendships

Home improvements: redecorate... paint, take out the old carpet and put down wood floors, print and frame recent family photos, put up the holiday decorations 
*resume reading & implementing The LifeChanging Magic of Tidying Up

beauty & tranquillity

Plan a kid-free weekend away with my partner. 


Find thoughtful presents for my loved ones this festive season. 


Research and discover an interesting course to enrol in next year. 


For the month of December I will be participating in #reverb15. If you're interested in learning more or receiving prompts such as the one I explored today, click here. Big thanks to Kat McNally for bringing us all together once more!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Inspiration: #Reverb12:16

Who inspired you in 2012? And why? What gifts did they give you?  
                    How will you carry these forward in 2013?

I’d like to share an excerpt from a post I wrote two years ago on a blog that no longer exists:

When I returned from America a couple of weeks ago, the postman delivered a mysterious package to me.  There was no return address or note inside, only a box wrapped in Christmas paper.  I eagerly tore open my New Year’s surprise.  I held a cardboard box in my hand with the following words written on it.  

"Willow Tree is an intimate line of figurative sculptures that speak in quiet ways to heal, comfort, protect and inspire.  This piece is cast from my original carving, and then painted by hand.  I try to keep the interpretation of Willow Tree open.  I hope this makes it more personal, and allows you to decide its meaning.  May the simplicity of these figures communicate peace and serenity to you and those you love.” –Susan Lordi

I was astonished by the image I uncovered.  It was a small sculpture of a brown-skinned woman with her arms outstretched, birds gently resting on her.  Her face is upturned towards the warmth of the sun.  The woman’s back is arched, exposing her heart chakra to the elements.  She obviously feels safe; the wild creatures must know she is no threat to them either.

Several things struck me about this most treasured gift.  Of all the wonders of the natural world, I feel most inspired by birds and trees. The Willow is special to me and was the first tree I planted in my garden when I bought my house.  It would seem that whoever chose this present knew me very well. Yet I was almost certain the gift was from a stranger.

Back in September when I volunteered at the Rude Health Fair, I connected with an older man called Damian.  Sometimes you hear stories of angels disguised as people walking the earth like the rest of us.  For some reason, it crossed my mind that Damian could be one, even though I don't really believe in earthly angels.  We only spoke for 20 minutes or so, but he radiated good energy and left an impression.  He lavished me with praise that day; I’ll never forget his kind words because they really touched me.  Damian asked for one of my business cards before he left my stall.  I wondered if I’d ever hear from again.  I had a feeling I would.

A month later I received a phone call.  Instantly I recognized Damian’s Dublin accent.  We had another meaningful conversation about the importance of spirituality and the challenges of modern life.  I enjoyed reconnecting with him, but tensed when he asked for my address.  He said he’d like to send me a gift someday.

I had a typical American response.  Part of me was afraid that he might turn up at my door and commit a heinous crime.  I’ve had poor judgment about other men.  Maybe I was wrong again!  Instead of an angel, I could be drawing Mr Crazy upon myself!

Fortunately I trusted my gut reaction and chose to remain open.  Before we hung up, Damian explained that his gift would arrive without a word attached to it. Something had reminded him of me, and he promised to send it when the time was right.

I had been curious but never imagined his gift would be so beautiful!  I don’t have his phone number or any way of thanking him, which is the way he must want it.  Perhaps we’ll never meet or speak again.  I am so grateful for such a heartfelt, unconditional gesture!  It gives me hope for humanity.
*     *     *

Sadly my son accidentally broke the statue and she’s now headless, but the sentiment remains.  Since the time when I wrote the passage above, Damian and I have developed a friendship. Nowadays I hear from him almost every week.  Though we only met briefly that one time, we have a genuine connection.  I’ve come to appreciate the work he does as a high school guidance counselor, and I value his advice.  Sometimes he calls and simply listens while I let off steam.  He has raised 5 children and has been married for close to 30 years.  He knows all about the ups and downs of family life!

He usually sends texts on Sundays with messages such as:
Let your heart soar and your soul fly. Be free. Be at peace.  But most of all... Be.
Forgiveness is the fragrance a violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.  
Sing like birds sing, not worrying who listens, or what they think.  Keep celebrating your uniqueness.

I’ve been inspired by his kind words and continuous generosity.  He has sent me various little surprises throughout the year. Once he randomly sent €20 with specific instructions to treat myself.  The letter arrived on a day when I was really struggling, and the timing couldn’t have been better!  It’s uncanny.  On my birthday I received a mass card with a lovely note attached, even though he doesn’t know when I was born.  He has also given me a couple of books on spirituality. Most recently he sent Awareness by Anthony de Mello.  I also received a copy of Osho’s Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously.  I’m determined to finish reading them in 2013.  Hopefully I’ll be able to apply what I learn to my daily life.

My relationship with Saint Damian (as I’ve come to think of him) is purely unconditional, which is a real blessing.  Who knows if we’ll ever meet face to face again!  It doesn’t really matter.  I’ve also formed bonds with writers online through projects such as reverb.  These friends listen and offer support, they bear witness to my story as it unfolds.  I do the same for them.  In the coming year I’d like to nurture these connections, regardless of the outcome.  

As I approach the New Year, I’m reminded of a quote Damian sent me: “Life is not the pursuit of happiness but the discovery of joy.” I couldn't agree more.

 #Reverb12 is an annual December writing project which aims to reflect on the past year and manifest the next.  Blog, journal, or simply leave a comment. Everyone is welcome to participate! Today’s prompt is from I Saw You Dancing. Follow Kat on twitter @kat_anew

Monday, 25 June 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Create

Serpent by Susy Cramer (photo by me)
At the beach yesterday, creative energy swirled through the air, almost tangible.  My children tirelessly dug in the sand, creating a hole nearly as big as themselves.  They dug so deeply, it unexpectedly filled with cool saltwater, tickling their toes, further delighting them.

Isn't that the essense of creativity? 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Healing Hands

Having attained my most recent achievement- a license to teach Zumba Toning- I rewarded myself with a trip to Flora’s Holistics yesterday.
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