One year ago today and the wisdom of Teddy Roosevelt.

One year ago today I was starting a masters degree in Creative Writing in TCD and literally wondering how on earth would I compare with the brilliant group of writers from all around the world who were so bright it would take your eye out.

I realized very quickly that comparing yourself to anyone is a complete waste of time and energy. So I stopped comparing and wrote instead.  Plays, poems, spoken word pieces and 90K words of a historical novel.  In December this year, my first collection of poetry (Crow’s Books) will be coming out, much which was edited and made better by the ideas and inspiration of the same group of writers (once I stopped being totally in awe of them and listened to their ideas and suggestions 🙂 ).

I am beyond excited. 

One year later, its all over and not only did I survive the workshopping, the critique, the constant submissions, but I am also now delighted to be facilitating a Creative Writing Course for adults in Palmerstown Community School starting Tuesday 24th September from 7pm to 8.30.  The course is designed to encourage you to write and enjoy it, develop your voice and above all, find a safe space to try out new ideas or your very first piece. (no comparisons allowed! 🙂 ) check it out at the link below; 

The always inspiring Fiona O’Rourke (@fionamkorourke) always says your writing is like a newborn baby, you don’t say to people “it’s is not finished, it’s a bit rubbish, I am going to fix bits of it/him/her” about a newborn baby, so why do we say it about our writing?

Fiona’s words rang in my head for much of the last year, particularly when I got to perform at the wonderful Women Of Wit gig in Bewley’s Cafe, ( with an amazing, talented bunch of women. Delighted to be joining them for more gigs in October and November but in the meantime, I will be going along to see this month’s fantastic lineup on 28th of September.  

Will I be nervous if I compare myself to any of the brilliant performers?? Yes indeedy, I will.

Will I let it stop me doing my thing knowing that it’s more fun to take inspiration from others than comparing myself when each one is unique and different and have their own super talent?

No, I will not! 

Instead, I will focus on writing the material and making it the best it can be and then trusting that on the night it will all be grand….and it will! 🙂

I am also delighted to be facilitating another course of The Artist’s way in Portmarnock Community School starting 28th September on Saturday mornings. Every time I do this course I learn something new, take on something different or find the courage to aim for something special.

Each group is unique and different and generates so much energy and creativity that it’s hard not to be inspired to take a chance….which is why last year I took a chance and applied to Trinity to do the Masters in Creative Writing…..the rest is history.

Next month I will be launching my new business called “Personal Poetry” crafting commissioned, personalized poems to celebrate significant life events and special people.  The new website is in the oven, the poems are in the kiln, and some of the same group of amazing writers that I was in awe of this time last year are among my most supportive critics.

With new coaching clients and clients I had the pleasure of working with before full of ideas and goals and journeys and things they want to achieve in the year ahead, it’s impossible NOT to be inspired for the coming year.

And yes, Teddy Roosevelt was definitely on to something when he said

Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

So how about this week you stop comparing your self to others and start taking inspiration from people around you instead? 

Stop giving yourself a hard time thinking you are not smart enough, slim enough, solvent enough?

And whilst you are at it, see who you can champion, who you can encourage and how much more interesting life gets when you do? 

and the last word goes to the wonderful Susan Jeffers who told us all as far back as1996 that we can all stop struggling when we realise we are, have and do enough, just the way we are.



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To compare or to celebrate, that is the question!

The man on the left is from Poland, living in England, supporting Ireland in Lisbon at the Eurovision. Poland was not in the semi-final competition and his best friend is Irish so he chose to put his flag and wig on to support Ireland. Every year he picks a different country and every year, no matter who wins, he makes loads of friends from all around Europe.

Poland finished 2nd in 1994 and did not feature since.

Ireland won it 7 times in total, winning it 3 years in a row.

Does Jakub compare the two and get depressed about his country’s success or lack of it?

Does he heck! He gets his passport out like every year and goes to wherever the contest is and joins in the fun.

Coming near the end of a year doing a big bucket list thing (Creative Writing Masters in Trinity), I am ever conscious of how much or little I have got published. And how old I am compared to many of my peers.

And how heavy I am. And how broke I am after a year in college. And how disorganized my filing system is compared to everyone else.

Recently I had the opportunity to read some poetry at a recent Women Wit & Wisdom event organized by the indomitable Yvonne O’Reilly in Bewley’s Cafe.  ((

When I got the gig I was delighted. When Saturday came I was sick with nerves. When the first four acts came on I wanted to leave quietly and run as fast as my legs could carry me down Grafton St roaring “what the fuck was I thinking??

Each act was polished, perfect, funny, amazing and profound.

Then it was my turn.

I did my thing and nerves aside had a blast.

But I wondered how much easier it would have been if I just focused on each amazing act and decided to take inspiration from them instead of worrying that I would make a hen’s knickers of my lines?

So this week how about you give yourself a break from the comparison game?

How about you stop yourself every time you see someone you think is slimmer, wealthier, happier, more successful and instead of comparing yourself give them an internal salute and take inspiration from their achievements?

Saying “well done” to someone is much more fun than saying “I will never be like you”

The first makes people happy, the other makes them feel guilty for what they have achieved.

I  have no doubt that some of us writers will make it quicker than others. Some may give up and do something else, and some may take a long time to publish the “book”.

But I also have no doubt that energy encouraging each other and taking pleasure in each other’s success will create much more possibilities than worrying about trying to catch up or outrun someone with a different skill set at a different time in their lives.

That said, it would not be this time of the year without a picture of our Johnny, Ireland’s most successful Eurovision winner EVER, who continues to entertain comparing himself to no one…..inspiring thousands of Eurovision hopefuls  🙂 🙂 🙂 



.…. you’re welcome! 🙂 🙂 🙂 


Making a difference by being yourself, Albert Cashier and Jennie Hodgers, a real life ordinary hero.

Did you ever feel that to make a difference you needed to do something extraordinary?

That you would need a special kind of superpower not available to ordinary people?

Or that ordinary people are rarely extraordinary compared to people like Elvis, Nelson Mandela or Annie Lennox? 

Thinking we cannot make a difference without doing something magnificent can often blind us to the many ordinary people who paved the way for what we take for granted in an “enlightened world”.

This month I have been looking up extraordinary Irish female history makers in preparation for a new course for the autumn and one of the most extraordinary women I have come across (and there are many!)  is one Albert D. J. Cashier, who was born Jennie Irene Hodgers,  on December 25th, 1843, in Clogherhead, Co. Louth.

As a young emigrant, Jennie adopted a male persona somewhere between leaving Ireland and arriving…

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Goals and Obligations, what makes you happy?

My last post was about buckets and bucket lists….and the reason its taken so long to write another one is that some of the big things in my bucket have happened -the Eurovision in Lisbon being a big one, but whilst I was there I got a place on the M.Phil in Creative Writing in Trinity…epic! And now we are into week 2 of my favorite thing to do at the weekend, The Artist’s Way!


So its that time of the year when the leaves and trees are lying down to have a rest and we are all running to night classes to take up ukulele lessons and Thai cookery. Nothing wrong with that….whilst the evenings are bright and we are still relatively connected to summer. However,  it is a really good time to adjust our compass and see where we want to go, rather than where John Lewis, Guinness or Marks & Spencer takes us as the nights close in and Bulmer’s Horses beginning to trot across the television screens followed by the Coca Cola trucks.

And so begins the insidious build up of stress. The obligatory Christmas parties you would never organise the other 364 days of the year, the piles of candles, slippers, autobiographies of reality tv stars and tat we buy that end up in the charity shops in February (NOTE, that’s when the best bargains are!) and the feeling of your hard earned cash developing wings and leaving you feeling broke, tired and hard done by.



You can decide this year to box clever and take a little time to think about what is important to you over the next few months and make sure you have a clear idea about where your resources are spent.  There are lots of opportunities over the next few months to choose what you want to do over what you feel obligated to do.

You never know who you will inspire if you say “No, this is what I would prefer. “ and God knows who will be inspired if you “No, this is what I prefer, so this is what I am doing.”


You might have a red face or a stutter but afterwards you can look in the mirror and it will be fine, truly!

January is traditionally goal setting time. When we are all broke, tired and waiting for pay day. We even have Blue Monday just in case we were feeling good to remind us that time time of the year is traditionally miserable.

So why wait until January to get clear on what is important to us?

We can set goals or intentions. Focus on things that are meaningful and mean something to us. 

Anyone that has ever struggled with weight or money will know that Christmas can be  a nightmare. 



So why would I wait until January to set a goal  or intention around a healthy weight/size/shape? Or wait until January to start a “comfort” money fund?

No reason really….except its easier….except it isint! 🙂 

Night classes and weight watching clubs peak in September and January…by October motivation begins to wobble and then its November and then the Christmas do’s start and sure it’s going to be Christmas and then there is no point and then we might as well wait until January to make a real start and get a good run at it! …Sound familiar?

How about doing it differently this year?

How about deciding, DECIDING what you want to feel, do, be and have when Christmas is over.  

Then make a start and make a plan.

Write it down, keep it near you.

Find like minded souls who will help you out. 

So you have a blueprint for where YOU are going, no matter what the festive season throws at you.

There are over 11 Weeks left in this year, nearly 3 months – yours to do what you want with.

That’s a lot of days….80 odd to be exact. 

How will you spend yours? 


eurovision 2018 Lisbon

No one else wants what you want (see above!) so make a point of trying to figure out what it is what you wan then enjoy making it a priority!

Buckets or Bucket list?

This month, next monday myself and my daughter are going to the Eurovision in Lisbon. 

This has taken many many years waiting for a country to win whose name we can pronounce and who has an airport we can fly to direct from Dublin. 

We have had plenty of “feedback” from people who can’t understand why on earth we would want to go. 

Do we care?????

Do we feck!

This week I will buy flip flops, a new bag for the plane (no check in suitcase nonsense) and a pair of green feather boas.

I could do with a new washing machine.

But a washing machine is not on my BUCKET LIST. 

Ever since I can remember we watched the Eurovision at home.  Every year it’s got a bit wackier (Australia? really?) But every year for a few days a lot of people turn up dress up and have a blast singing pop songs and generally making a lot of people happy (maybe not the Russians!)

This year the Irish entry is from Skerries…down the road from where I live.

So that’s a big tick off the list.

Another thing on the list is to be a happy successful published writer. (not the tortured kind in a garret eating beans out of a tin)

This year I have had some pieces published/short listed and I can tell you it makes me happy. I got to take part in the amazing Label Lit event which had poets the length and breath of the country leaving poetry on labels to make people smile or think. I came home from Roscommon Poetry Day with labels from poets I never met and left labels on hedges/statues and in hotel beds. Kind of like the Eurovision of poetry!

Does anyone deep down really care if I go to Lisbon or write a poem?


And they won’t care if you travel to the Himalayas or learn to play the trombone. If you take up tap dancing at 55 or go vegan after eating meat all your life.

Really, no one cares.

You, on the other hand, will care a lot if you dont make time to do the things on your wish list/bucket list. You will spend a lot of time resenting work/family/friends who make demands on your time, money  and resources which stops you getting anything you really want done.


You could take the time (yes, it takes time) to sit yourself down and write you honest, truthful personalised bucket list. Just for you. No point if writing “I want the kids to be healthy and happy” if you really want to learn origami or try ballroom dancing.

The universe needs clear instructions from you to give it some chance of giving you what you want. Otherwise, you get what is left over when everyone else gets what they want.

And then you feel sorry for yourself, or hard done by. Your bucket list becomes a bucket with a hole in it.

So how about this week you make a few minutes to genuinely draw up a bucket list so that on the days when work is hard and kids are sick or the weather is shite you have something to look forward to, to dream about, to plan, to research, to set a goal about?

Your  clocks only go one way. You can’t go back. You get this one life.

If you set your list you may make it happen.

If you dont your time will go anyway.

Then you could end up with Johnny Logan on a permanent loop in your brain singing

“What’s another year?”……:) 🙂


Where does inspiration come from?

Crows Books & God’s Horses

Did you ever read a book, a poem or a story and wonder how the hell did someone come up with that idea?

Have you watched a film recently that you loved but wondered how  someone could take a script on paper and turn it into a visual masterpiece?

Have you ever looked at a painting and wondered what put the idea for that into someones head or what were they smoking when they painted it? 

At a recent writing workshop with the fabulous Fiona O’Rourke, we were asked to write down the first things we heard as babies. Simple enough exercise for a thursday evening.

What we heard or did not hear produced a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration so much that my head was going to burst….and that was only listening to four or five peoples sounds apart from my own!

I heard the sound of O’Donnell Abu on the radio first thing in the morning.

Wood pigeons.

The shipping forecast (including Malin Head, knots, decibels and the Irish Sea)

The low moan of Jersey cows across the road. 

Racing commentary from Aintree on a Saturday on the tele and from Newcastle on the portable radio in the shed at the same time.

The Sunday Game on the same portable radio. 

The Angelus which seemed to go on forever.

The theme tune to the Magic Roundabout and the bastard Zebedee who always said “it was time for bed”.

The Kennedys of Castleross.

The wind which I thought was a banshee whistling on the wires in Mornington.


The sounds also brought alive the other memories. The smell of burning porridge (sorry mam!) a sink full of prawns, pheasants hanging on the back door of May Mullen’s kitchen (I loved the colours of the feathers) my granny’s many cats howling like dying babies in the night. Frost, daffodils, bluebells, rabbits and leaves.

My mother would not have been particularly known for being creative, and yet like so many people of her generation she was creative on a daily basis which we took for granted as “just how she did things.”

She told me casually that black furry caterpillars were “God’s Horses”. Pine cones which had fallen were “Crows’ Books” and a flock of crows flying overhead were “Crows going home from school”. I believed her as any four or five year old would. And why not?

I doubt very much if Peggy was being profound or inspiring or literary in those moments, I expect she heard the same thing as a child. When I decide to write or paint or make something I could go to an art gallery for lofty inspiration, read a book of classic poetry or see a play.


I can go back the Bettystown in my head, to being four or five years old and see what I could see then. Listen to what I heard then. Smell lilac, honeysuckle, gorse bush for the May alter or feel chestnuts smooth and brown picked on the way home from school. See the mussel beds at the sea or the crunch of sand in the sandwiches on the beach. The salt smell of scutch grass and the smell of whitethorn blossoms and hot tar on the road in summer which was great for poking sticks in.

As I type I have a bunch of daffodils picked from my cousin’s garden on my desk. There were daffodils growing in the same garden when I was small and they smelled just as lovely then as they do now.

From one simple exercise on a thursday evening I have a hundred different smells, sounds, visions memories that I can draw on.

And I didnt have to go anywhere.

It was all there anyway.

(Peggy would think I have lost the plot 🙂 )

My guess is that most people write/paint/make from what they see around them and what they know,

what they remember

and what they feel.

So this month if you feel uninspired and a bit fed up of doing the same thing over and over but being too tired to “think up” something different, why not find a few minutes to   yourself with a pen and paper.

Remember what your favorite smell was as a child (I also remember the smell of silage!)

What season or type of weather did you love?

What did you like to look at? Water? Grass? Meadows? Houses? Sky?

And write it down, or paint it, or find something that smells the same now as it did then.

If you want to go to town or out in nature to get inspiration then by all means do.

But I am guessing there is a whole world of inspiration just inside your head, behind the worries about bills and kids, parents and work, underneath the fears for the future and just beside your hopes.

You never know what you might find.

You never know what you might make with it! 🙂 🙂


…and if you are feeling inspired to take your creative muscles out for the spring then join us in Portmarknock on 14th April for a seven week intensive course of The Artist’s Way on Saturday mornings.




Fabulous “starter” and rubbish “finisher”?

Do you absolutely love starting out on a new project?

Does your head constantly generate new ideas?

Do you love the idea of new ( or old but new to you) books, knitting needles, paintbrushes, tools, canvass or baking equipment?

This time of the year is a great time for starting new things. Habits, exercise regimes, night classes, ways of working, ways of dealing with people, books, projects, jobs and random things you have decided to stop procrastinating about.

The energy around a new idea, project or plan is invigorating and exciting, interesting and a lovely novelty… for a while. Then, if you are anything like me, the workbook, novel, plans to paint the apartment, write the play, cook new dishes from around the world (lost the run of myself with that one!) is exciting for about a week.

Then the “idea” of the new thing is often far more exciting and interesting that the actual “doing” of the thing.

The doing of the thing often involves mundane aspects like shopping, typing, stopping doing twenty things and reading, or putting more time and energy in than you realized it was going to take.


In the last week I learned a very valuable lesson from a wise woman called Nikki Weston. We were talking about finishing things and she suggested that when I finish a project I have been slaving over (loving it but slaved over it none the less), that I contact someone (in this case the lady herself)  to say “I finished!”

I thought it was a “nice” idea until I finished the project yesterday afternoon. On my own, In my house. The dog and cat were not remotely interested or impressed. There was no brass band or troop of cheerleaders with pom poms in my house  to celebrate six months of my hard work.

Then I remembered Nikki’s words and emailed to say “I finished it!”

Of course I got a lovely email back full of encouragement and only short of a hand made medal. But, childish as its sounds, it was a great way to validate finishing a “big thing”. Simple, costs nothing except a bit of time but for a serial starter of things like me, it was a lovely idea to have someone acknowledge that a project was finished.

It got me thinking….do you have  ideas, books and projects and concepts that you started, are thinking of starting or never finished?

How does it feel when you don’t finish something?

What would it be like for the serial starters among us to actually take one thing at a time and finish it? 

What energy would that free up? 

Half finished projects are the creative equivalent of “clothes I am going to slim into”.

Every time you open the wardrobe the clothes might scream “fatso!”.

Every time you think of a project you did not finish it might scream “failure!”.

There are many reasons why we don’t finish things.  Fear of failure, fear of success, losing interest (my own particular default setting) or running out of energy, resources, steam or support.

How about this week, as we are coming to the end of the month, you think about one thing you haven’t finished and see if you can put it to bed once and for all?

How about you find your finishing line cheerleader or set yourself a reward for tackling it (if you can do both even better) so that someone somewhere knows you have finished it?

The world needs starters or there would never be anything new. 

Starters need a bit of assistance getting over the finish line. That’s not the end of the world. 

But the best bit about finishing something is you can get to do your favorite thing of all….start something new!!! 🙂 


finishing a book







A new year and a new you? Really?

Do you find you make the same kind of goals every year?

Do you start off full of puff and end up a bit knackered two months in?

Do you then decide that there is a series of upcoming events and holidays and you might as well get that wedding, holiday, birthday party out of the way before you tackle your weight, the weight of your wallet or your career aspirations? 

This time of the year we are inundated with ideas for setting goals, joining gyms, taking up the ukulele and losing the Christmas pudding fat that seems to have attached itself to our arses with a steely determination.

February and October are apparently our lightest times of the year. Given that January and September are our usual “get myself in shape, solvent, happy, gainfully employed in a wonderful job” months, what follows is a surge of enthusiasm which no doubt yields very definite results.

And then the resolve weakens. Its Paddy’s day, Easter and sure look, its nearly summer then so it all falls to bits. Or its Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas …then it all falls to bits.

So how about instead of setting goals for a “New You” this year, you have a look at what the original (and perfectly acceptable) “YOU” got done this last year?

Did you survive Christmas and still stay on speaking terms with most of your family?

Did you survive a year in a job that takes a lot of what you have to give and some of what you haven’t?

Did you get kids up, dressed and fed and off to school for most of the school term and throughout the year?

Did you stand freezing your nips off at the side of a football/hurley/rugby field watching junior sport in the rain on a Saturday morning when you would much rather be in bed?

Did you spend time trying to write a poem, craft a story, write a blog post when the sink was full of dishes and there was no clean socks?

Did you spend time with a parent even when you had a million other things that need doing before you go back to work/school/college.

Were you kind?

Did you make anything? Write anything? Create anything?

Did anyone have an easier day/hour/week because of something you did or said?


Instead of making goals this year, how about making a list of D.B.A’s (Don’t Be Afraids)

If you had a list of things you were not going to be afraid of, would that be easier than a number on a scales to aspire to? For example if you had

“don’t be afraid to try running” instead of “to run 10K”

would it be easier to think about giving it a go?

“don’t be afraid to apply for a new job” instead of “to have a new job in place by June” would it be easier to think about putting applications in for something new?

“don’t be afraid to ask for a raise/fee/payment” instead of “to secure a raise by July”  would it be easier to make the first move and ask for a discussion?

Don’t be afraid to exhibit your work, submit your poem, ask for help, think about what you could do if you used your time differently…the list is endless.

We are often and naturally afraid of doing something challenging. A little bit of fear keeps us safe and on our toes.

But if we embrace it by acknowledging that it exists, we can choose not to be afraid of it. Would that make it easier to achieve something new without the pressure of having an end result which has a 50% chance of success, and an equal 50% chance of failure?

Why not try your own list of Don’t Be Afraids and see what you are open to the New Year bringing your way, you may be surprised at what you find! 🙂 

The opposite to fear is courage, and if you choose not to be afraid…who knows what you might have a go at! 🙂




Finding Your Tribe & keeping your dreams precious.

“What do you want to do that for?”

“Why do you want to go there?”

“Why can you not just be grateful for what you have?”

Have you ever shared something with someone you thought would be supportive only to get one of the above or similar reactions?

Do people tell you all the reasons why you cant/wont/should not aspire to doing something different with your “best interests” at heart, but it ends up taking the winds out of your sails?

The old saying “safety in numbers” works perfectly well if you are trekking in a forest in the dark. Or walking down a street at night.

But if you want to do something different to your friends/family/colleagues, the best meaning advice can be utterly defeating. It’s not that people don’t want you to do well, be happy, aspire to something great. It can often be that they are afraid for you that it wont work out. But more often than not, your dream, goal, aspiration or big idea can highlight the fact that someone else is stuck.

What is important to you is not the same as what is important to anyone else. Expecting anyone else to understand that can be a very disappointing exercise. If you are feeling vulnerable and lets face it, whenever you try to make big changes, the first thing you feel is excited followed immediately by a whole dose of “vulnerable”…so it wont take much to send us back to the bottom of the mountain where the most people are and we can feel safe. Trapped, hard done by, disappointed but safe.

But what about if you changed who you spoke to about your really special goals? What about if you only shared what is important to you with people who will support you to go for it?

If someone is in the same job as you for the last twenty years they may not be the best person to confide in if you want to move on. 

If someone is in a difficult relationship and you want to leave yours, they may also not be best equipped to encourage you to move away to a healthier way to live. 

Your dream may, however unintentionally, highlight their loss or sadness. 

So, you have to be precious!

If you have something you want to do, be or have, then sharing that is one way of letting people know you would appreciate their support. But only if they are in a place in their own lives where they have demonstrated their own journey to a better place having climbed their own personal mountain. 

The you will find a whole lot of encouragement and suggestions, ideas and sharing of information.


Because they are looking at you from the top of their own mountain, not from the bottom of a hill they can never climb. They can see things, pitfalls, shortcuts and most of all the view. And when you get to the top of whatever mountain you want to climb, there is a whole group of people just like you. In short, your tribe. 

You don’t have to stop connecting with your friends and family when you want to do something that is deeply personal or important to you, but you do have to be careful about who and what you share. Your dreams are precious, gossip is cheap entertainment. Try not to let your dreams be todays gossip at the water cooler.

Speak about them to people who understand what it is like to want something different.

There you will find your support. There you will find your tribe. There you will find a sense of belonging.

This week, how about asking someone what their own dreams are and make a point of offering encouragement.  If you can offer information or suggestions that’s good too. You never know, your positive take on their dream may just be the difference between them taking the first step.

It costs nothing to be positive.

You don’t have to understand why people want what. 

But someone, somewhere will appreciate your willingness to understand that this is deeply personal and special to them. And when we are not criticizing why anyone would want to do anything that we don’t feel is of value, we can get on with making our own dream happen….and how cool would that be?