Well, hello there, I can’t believe it has been so long since I last wrote to you amazing people. Huge apologies, but sometimes you just need to give yourself the gift of time, and so that is what I did. A whole year of it in fact. But I am back, and my eager heart and fingers are ready to share some good stuff with you, and hopefully connect on an even deeper level.
“The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.”
― Arnold Bennett
How are you? Maybe like me, you have been on a journey of discovery and decisions? If so, I am sure that our paths will lead us to even deeper knowledge, new ideas, unexpected surprises and wonderful victories. It is true, that our life experiences can add such value to how we impact the world and those around us. What we experience and survive allows a deeper awareness to grow in us, and we move from a place of shallow living to a depth we never before imagined. This also impacts our writing, and we suddenly feel even more sure that we have something bursting inside us that is worth writing. I am sure you have felt the same at times.
“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.”
― Sarah Dessen, (Just Listen)
Every season has its time frame, and it is vital that we enjoy the season we are in, even with its lessons. But an even more important aspect to seasons, is that we know when it is time to start something new or end something old. If we are not careful we can end up remaining in a season much longer than we are meant to, and so we miss what is coming next. Don’t linger longer than you need to, and don’t allow past disappointments to hinder the ‘next thing’ for you. It is always good to ask yourself, “what next?”, but sometimes you must simply as the question, “what now?”
So what is your “what now?”, maybe you need some time to make some choices and get ready for a change. What next must first start with a what now! What you do now, will magnificently impact your tomorrow. Only you know what it is that needs to change in your life, and only you can make these changes happen. It’s not always easy, but the good news is that there are lots of people around you who want to support you and see you win. So reach out to someone who cares, and let the others help you achieve new things. I’ve learned so deeply that God is my greatest source of strength. He holds my world together, especially when I let everything go and trust Him completely. He is all we truly need. His always perfect strength!
“Don’t waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy.”
― Roy T. Bennett
Before I go, you may be wondering why I have mentioned 700 words in my title. Well, it’s simply a quirky challenge I have set myself, that all my future blog entries, from today, will never exceed 700 words. I am absolutely 100% sure that there will be many days when I will want to write way more than 700 words, but I will restrain myself and meet this new challenge head-on. So, dear reader, is there a small little challenge you can set yourself, that adds fun or humour to something you do every day? If so, do it! ⏱
Sometimes you must simply allow your life to change, and there’s no better time. So I will see you soon dear friends, and remember it is time for what is now…so let us begin!
Most people don’t walk around with a deep awareness of how they make an impact on the people or world around them. In truth, most of us just follow the path that ignites our passions and keeps our souls alive with excitement. Even as you read this, you may be truly blinded to the incredible way you use your gifts and talents to motivate, encourage and inspire others, but you do.
“Don’t worry if you’re making waves simply by being yourself. The moon does it all the time.” — Scott Stabile
Many have said that the most influential people in the world, are those who just humbly did what kept their hearts on fire. They helped people, lifted the hurting, reached out to feed the poor, painted their dreams, built beauty out of clay, and never stopped dreaming – even against the odds. You are one of those people, if you open your eyes every morning with a sense of expectation at what another day brings. You are one of those people, if you truly want to make a difference in the lives of others. You are a wave-maker, even if you never actually see the impact your waves make.
Think about the moon; it literally makes moves nothing else can compare to. You will never be as powerful as the moon, but you can make moves right now, where you are. Today can be the day that you dramatically choose to focus on the strength of purpose you carry. You are faced with the choice to give your all and channel your best efforts towards the dreams you carry in your heart. It could be time for you to build on the waves you are already making, or it may be time for you to make some changes in the direction you are moving in? The choice is always yours to make!
“It’s wonderful to be grateful. To have that gratitude well out from deep within you and pour out in waves. Once you truly experience this, you will never want to give it up.” – Srikumar Rao
Gratitude is a great outlook to encourage in your heart, even if things may not be as you would wish. There is always something to be thankful for, you just have to take the time to find it. Once you start looking, you will find even more than you previously imagined.
Look at what you are doing; is it moving you in the direction of your dreams? When you think about the things you do on a daily basis, will the end results be ones you will feel proud of? Is it time to write that book? Change careers? Make that move? Ask that question? The answer is right there in your whispered reply. Don’t ignore it. Come on, an ocean of opportunity awaits you, don’t miss the next wave. Somebody else may be waiting on your waves to motivate them to start their own.
“Just like a surfer, when the right wave comes along, you better be ready!”
– Denise Kennedy
“Don’t give yourself the opportunity to regret the chance you didn’t take.” @roxanamjones
A story is told of a king who went into his garden one morning, and found everything withered and dying. He asked the oak that stood near the gate what the trouble was. He found it was sick of life and determined to die because it was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was going to throw its life away because it could not stand erect and have as fine fruit as the peach tree. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac.
And so on all through the garden. Coming to a heart’s-ease, he found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. “Well, heart’s-ease, I’m glad, amidst all this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least disheartened.” “No, I am not of much account, but I thought that if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac, you would have planted one; but as I knew you wanted a heart’s-ease, I am determined to be the best little heart’s-ease that I can.”
Hearts-ease, is a flower possibly so small that it goes unnoticed and unseen. So tiny that it can seem to be unimportant or insignificant. But this tiny little flower carries probably one of the most loveliest of flower names that I have yet to discover. When I think if the word ‘hearts-ease’, or ‘heart’s ease’, I am immediately drawn to the condition of my heart, and the hearts of those I care about. The dictionary gives the following description of ‘heart’s ease’:
n. 1. Peace of mind.
2. A smallEuropeanplant(Violatricolor)havingspurredflowersmarkedwithpurple,yellow,andwhite. It wasused to develophybridvarieties of cultivatedpansies.Alsocalledwildpansy.
Today, this tiny little flower, created by a God who wanted it to exist, brought ease to my heart. Some seasons in life can bring challenges and trials, and it can feel like your life is very much hidden from the One who breathed it into being, but I assure you the very opposite is true. You are seen, known and very much cared for by God.
You are loved by the Creator of everything, and He is enough. He restores, redeems and gives back everything that has been stolen from you. He has more in mind for you than you can every dream up all on your own. So today, let your heart be at ease: free from worry or awkwardness; relaxed, tranquil, content, comfortable, secure, safe, chilled, serene and unworried.
Today I echo the words of our opening story, and decide to be a brave little flower!
“But as I knew you wanted a heart’s-ease,
I am determined to be the best little heart’s-ease that I can.”
As I sit here writing to you, the very first snow fall has started outside my south Dublin window. I am mesmerised by the fluttering white flakes as they chase each other to the ground below. They are each so different and beautiful in their own right. Winter is here early, and the white visitors contrast against the backdrop of autumn colours that my trees display; it is so beautiful that it is hard to keep my eyes from the window. So I stopped writing, wrapped my warm faux scarf around my neck and opened my window to really feel the white wonder, and breathe in the crisp cold air. So refreshing.
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Today I am relishing the thoughts of an impromptu walk I took yesterday in our city’s main central park. It was unplanned and turned out to be perfect. I found my deer friends, and captured a few beautiful photos of them, as I always do. Today I want to introduce you to one of them, he’s one of my favourites. I call him Scar.
When I go to the Phoenix Park, I always look out for Scar. This time I was more concerned about him because of a recent deer culling in the park, and I was not sure he was still with us. I was glad to see him. For some reason he tends to be a loner and wanders off on his own, something I love to do too. If you look at his face you will see why I gave him the name I have. To me, even with his scars, he is beautiful. And today, my friend, I want to tell you the same incredible truth is true about you.
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When we look at Scar, we see his outside wounds, and the proof that he has been hurt, but we also see that he survived what it was that hurt him. The battle left its mark on him but he lived on, and so will you dear reader. Scars are a sign that you are strong, that you overcame something that tried to take you out. Your battle may include disappointment, divorce, the loss of a dream, the realisation that life sometimes gives you what you do not ask for; and you have a choice to make.
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Your scars may be on the inside, where nobody can easily see them, they may be wounds that truly only you and those who you allow to come close can understand. Let me tell you that these wounds, whether internal or external, are things to be proud of because they are proof that you are stronger than the hurt, tougher than what tried to knock you down, and more resilient than the battles you have endured. Your scars tell others to hold on, and not to give up. They shine around your neck like a medal of honour, and you should see your scars as a sign of great victory, even in days of loss or pain.
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“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ― Kahlil Gibran
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Look at this beautiful Fallow buck, who I have rightly named Scar; he is majestic and strong, and will hopefully live through many more battles, bravely using the skills he learned the hard way in previous encounters. In the same way dear friend, so are you. You are a strong soul with a mighty God who wants to walk through every battle with you. He promises to never leave or forsake you, but to be your refuge where there is found rest in and from the storms of life. Even if you already have scars, you are a display for His Kingdom, shouting gloriously to the world, that you never gave up or surrendered. Your scars tell a magnificent story!
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Scars are evidence of life, of risks, or trying new things, of fighting for something you believed in. They are proof that you moved out of your comfort zone and decided to be brave. So today, instead of hiding your scars, whether they are seen or unseen, choose to find someone who needs the story of courage that you carry in your heart. Tell them how you struggled, but that you are overcoming. Remind someone who is close to giving up, that they do not have to. Look for those who feel so isolated in their battle, and remind them that they truly are part of a great army of those who did not give up. This army may be scarred in many different ways, but their courage unites them. Each has a battle cry put in their heart by the Creator himself. Each one is as beautifully unique as each snowflake falling outside my window.
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Dear scarred one, your scars are the signs of strength and someone who feels weak today, needs to hear your story of strength!
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“Scars show toughness: that you’ve been through it,
Geese are elegant, intelligent, loyal, majestic and creative. They soar through the sky with a sense of destiny and beauty. I recently captured this photo of them as I walked along the port area of Dublin city. I stood there as the sun rose, watching them fly together in a unity so incredible I held my breath.
So allow me to share some of the stunning things I have discovered about geese, that quite frankly distinguish them from lots of animals or birds we have; and to be honest, I found myself wanting to be a lot more like our feathered friend than I had ever imagined before…
Geese mate for life and will live a loyal life of faithfulness to one partner, even after their mate passes away.
A group of geese is called a gaggle – if they are flying they are known as a skein or wedge.
They choose to fly in a”V” shape so as to increase their flying power and range by at least 70%. By sharing the air space they make the flight easier for those flying with them. They look out for each other.
When the goose in front tires or grows weary another goose takes its place and then the tired goose moves back to rest, and into position to complete the formation.
While they are flying in formation they honk at each other to send encouagement to each other on the journey.
Geese care for each other; they look out for the other geese in their gaggle, to see if they are okay. If one gets sick, is attacked or hurt and drifts or falls from the formation, others will also leave the “V” shape and go to protect the injured goose. They stay with the sick goose until it recovers or dies. They will not leave it alone.
A young goose will find a mate for itself when it is only 3 years of age. If one of the pair dies the remaining goose will live many years without finding another mate. Most times the widowed goose lives the remainder of its life without a partner.
Male geese prefer to show very protective and kind behaviour towards the females in the group. They have been known to stand or fly between danger and the female in the situation; so beautiful and so courageous.
Geese choose to vocalize their messages to each other in a variety of ten different ways; it depends on the situation but they can stretch their necks or make loud honks in order to send a signal to others.
Geese live together and hatch a new gosling yearly, then both parents are involved in minding and taking care of the newborn.
The list goes on…
So…which characteristic was your favourite? Possibly, like me, you chose a few. One thing I found myself thinking as I read this list, is that I want to be more like geese. I want to love deeper, care for loved ones in a more devoted way. I want to be known as one who is faithful to the mate I choose for life. I want to go to rescue the hurting and stay with them until they can fly and join the group again. I want to be known as one who looks out for the dangers that are lurking and preying on my counterparts. I want to be so much more like a goose than I had ever thought of before…
If you feel the same then let’s honk and make the choice to stick together…
If my little thoughts today have inspired you then please give me a share and a like…every ‘honk’ lets me know that you are with me…and we are looking out for each other…
It is so important that we do not let our failures break us, but that we choose to bend with the storms life sends us, and find a greater strength than before. Yes, these are easy words to write, but I can safely say I am doing this very thing myself.
I feel motivated by the deep emotion shown by the 2016 Olympians. Their enthusiasm and dedication has awakened a new desire in me to overcome obstacles and hindrances in my own life. How we handle defeat reveals more about our character than how we handle success. I am so moved by some of the Olympians who gave their very best, but were unsuccessful in winning a medal. Today they make their journeys home and try to pick up the pieces that disappointment and loss have dealt them. I want to tell them that they are champions too, whether they wear a medal around their courageous necks or not.
One such Olympian quoted the following:
“The only thing I ever wanted was to compete in the Olympics.”
(Syria’s Yusra Mardini, representing the Games’ first ever refugee team, after winning her 100m butterfly heat.)
I want to say to these amazing Olympians that you can bend without breaking; that what you’re waiting for could be just around the bend…if you can choose not to let the challenges drive you aroundthe bend or lose your mind in the process.
For so many Olympians like the horse jumping champion Nick Skelton, taking part in the 2016 Olympics was a matter of great courage. The veteran British Olympian, aged 58, who quit the sport in 2000 after breaking his neck in two places, vowed: “I am not going to stop now.” Nick Skelton, riding Big Star, won a dramatic six-rider jump-off to claim GB’s first show jumping gold to become the oldest winner of an equestrian event.
Imagine what Skelton would have missed had he given up in 2000, or allowed the fear of ever recovering from a broken neck govern his future. His horse, perfectly named Big Star, had almost been put into retirement too, but Nick Skelton believed that they could come to Rio and win. To even have the opportunity to be an Olympian was a huge achievement for both rider and horse alike. If he had allowed a broken neck to literally break him, his future would not hold the amazing gold medal achievement he enjoys today.
But Nick is a winner, even if he had not won gold. Each Olympian is a winner simply because they overcome so many tough and challenging circumstances in order to compete. There are so many motivational stories being shared every day about the obstacles and personal health setbacks that many overcome in order to finally be in Rio. I am sure a book could be written with all their moving and exhilarating accomplishments. To me, it is one of the reasons I found myself glued to the televised overage each night.
“When life’s strong winds come blowing, bend with them and let go. By bending, you will become stronger in new places. By letting go, you will be making room for the new and the better.”
You are all amazing individuals; you have chosen to bend, but not to break. How you choose to handle your defeats speaks volumes to the world waiting to see strength overcome weakness. Well done! I applaud you because you move me to keep persevering and bend with the storms of life.
The 2016 Olympics have ended, and as I watch the energy of the closing ceremony, I want to awaken a desire in us to overcome the obstacles that try to break us. Make a decision now, that by the time the 2020 Olympics start, you will be able to look back and see how very much stronger you have grown!
Welcome to my latest blog piece for the Irish Academy of Public Relations…
What is your PB? (And no, I don’t mean peanut butter…) =) If you have been gripped by the exciting moments of triumph and devastation that the Olympics bring, then you will know that PB means ‘Personal Best’, and it is usually the absolute desire of every athlete to beat their previous PB record, and win an Olympic gold medal on the way.
Every time I have watched these amazingly well trained Olympians champion their course I am reminded of my own PB, in various areas of my life. When I wake up in the morning I am learning to remind myself that today is a new day to challenge my personal best. I can always try to improve on the choices I made yesterday and give my absolute best in all I endeavour to do.
Michael Phelps has astonished all who have been watching his journey. He has come back from great challenges and a retirement, to win more medals than he even believed he could himself.
Michael’s 200m butterfly gold medal made him the oldest swimmer to win an individual Olympic title at 31 years of age. He has earned the title, ‘GOAT’ – ‘the greatest of all time’, and quite frankly he is a medal machine! As I watched him shed a tear as he held his new three month old son, my eyes filled with tears with him. It felt exhilarating to watch him kick his doubts, fears and physical challenges to the curb and go for gold. My blood raced with motivation and excitement as I watched the faces of the crowds who applauded him; I thought to myself how many of them have overcome their own PB challenges too, and are living testimonies to the same courage we see in Michael Phelps?
Your PB may only matter to you…there may never be a gold medal placed around your neck, but that does not diminish the innate value in giving your best. You can award yourself every day; every time you overcome a challenge or advance towards something you dearly want.