Do your friends help you fly?

“The good government of our nation has decreed that whilst witchcraft is to be sought out and destroyed by death, the practice of flying is not, in itself, objectionable!”  or so says the Lost Art of Being a Lady, A victorian Self help Guide for Modern Women.

Have you ever met a total stranger and was gobsmacked by how identical your life experiences were? 

Have you talked about something awful assuming you were the only one in the world who could understand only to find that your problem was not unique to you? 

Are you constantly surprised when you meet people who seem to come from the same tribe? 

When I grew up Witches were either cartoon figures in Disney fairytales or burnt at the stake during the Salem Witch trials. But in modern times I think we have a new breed of people who would have been definitely dunked in a mud pond had their conversations been overheard by the people in charge 🙂 At many of the Artist Way courses over the last year I noticed a group of strangers develop, without discussion, a mental telepathy or shorthand, and many times I heard the phase “we must have been witches in a previous life” as people who had  never met, realised that they had similar values, experiences or aspirations as the person sitting beside them.

Something happens when you meet someone who “gets” your way of thinking. Who likes the things that interest you. Who speaks your language. A mutual inspiration occurs when ideas are swapped, experiences compared and energy is most definitely raised. You often come away from such a meeting feeling reinspired, re energised, reassured. There is a whole world of support out there for you from people you already know or at the very least have the contact details for. People you admire, people you inspire to be like, people you like spending time with. People who encourage you to fly.

In short, spending time  with people of your own tribe makes you happy and is good for you. 

If you are not sure what someone from your own tribe is, think about how you feel when you spend time with a friend, colleague or family member. Do you feel energised or losing the will to live? Excited about life or looking around for a crucifix to hop up on? Do you laugh at the same things? moan about the same things? value the same things?

If you feel better about yourself after spending time with someone, then that person is going to make your life better. And a little bit of magic happens. You feel your wings.

Think about the people you spend time with and how you feel about yourself when you do. Is there someone you like spending time with that you have lost touch with? Someone you used to tell your hopes and dreams to that because of work/kids/family/life you dont get to see too often? Social media is a fantastic way to connect with people from the comfort of your own home and is a lovely way to connect to people who live across the ocean. But nothing replaces a cup of coffee and a chinwag. A hug or a handshake connecting two people is like a promise to keep in touch. If meeting up is not possible then at least try to write a card or a letter. If that is not possible (and why not? ) then an email is good. If you cannot  email someone then a text will connect you. And if all that fails then “poke”them on facebook.

As far as I know, no-one ever went to their grave regretting spending too much time staying in touch with people they liked. 

So this week, why not make an effort to meet your fellow witches? Your other tribe members? The people who “get” you whether they are old friends or new acquaintances. Share a coffee, share a meal, go for a walk. Spend and hour in the lobby of a hotel in a comfy armchair and find out what is happening in their world.

And if the person you are thinking of as you are reading this makes contact before you do, dont be surprised……

Over weight or Under Creative?

Have you ever seen an overweight animal in the wild?

This time of the year we can often be paying the price for overindulgence and identify more with an elephant than a panther after a season of sweets and turkey, cheese and more wine than our recommended daily dose.

The Christmas pudding and chocolates did not help our new year’s figures, but what about if the reason we are extra heavy is not just down to piggery or careless eating alone? 

Animals in the wild have to be constantly creative about finding ways to eat or they die. They rarely make nests they dont need or dig burrows for decoration to give other animals inspiration. Animals live a creative life on a daily basis, and those that fail to hone their creative thinking starve. The more a wild animal devises new and unusual traps for prey, the stronger and more nourished they will be.

They  eat when they are hungry and rarely hunt out of boredom.

As small children we play without thinking, making up games, languages, pictures, rhymes and cakes and houses out of blocks or binoculars out of toilet rolls.  We draw on walls, paths or paper without thinking too much about the outcome. If we are lucky enough to get a train set the fun is in watching the train go on the same journey many times over just for the sheer joy of it.

As adults in a currently competitive world, we tend to encourage children to play but attach learning to the outcome in terms of educational toys and flashcards, cognitive building sets and books with in built morality. With the children developing their cognitive and reading skills, we can sometimes feel  that  “play” with something we adults do “after work” and if we “have time”. 

Play can often be considered a less than useful use of our time and so we dont.

Instead we can develop  a vague gaping need that has to be fed. Literally. Cakes, curry, chips, chocolate are all good substitutes because they make us feel good …but for a very short time.  Apart from preparing the food, there is no tangible evidence that it existed, unless you count the dishes in the sink or the extra inch around your middle bit.

When you create something, you can wear it, hang it on a wall, send it to a friend, use it to hold flowers, admire it, but most of all acknowledge that you made it and before you did it did not exist.

When you eat a pie it is gone. 

When you create you play. Your mind is awake and your hands are busy. When you create for the sake of enjoying the process you feed the part of your mind that can be your greatest ally in your battle with excess weight – your imagination.

So what about if “play” for the sheer joy of it could be embraced as part of a healthy lifestyle? What if your play time was just as important as your running time, your calorie counting time, planning/cooking/preparing your meals time?

What if you feed the need in us to “play” ?

Think about the things you loved to do when you were younger that made you lose track of time? Did you draw? knit? sew? look for bluebells? frogs? birds? play the tin whistle badly? Make stick people out of matches? Make a jigsaw? Make a paper plane? Make a bead bracelet? Earrings? Crochet cushion covers or winter hats?

When I am overweight I am under creative. I am also overweight when I am over tired. I am over tired when I am not making time for “play” …in my case writing or painting. And on the cycle goes…until I stop and make something. Or write something. Or paint something. Anything.

What  if you included an old hobby, a new hobby, a skill you used to have or a skill you want to learn as part of your healthy lifestyle with just as much value as running or planning your meals this year?

What if you reclaimed your right to “play” to give your mind a rest and feed that hunger for creativity instead of feeding your body food it doesn’t need instead?

On an emotional level you may have to get over the guilt or feeling silly when you start to create something that looked very different in your head to the executed version.

On a physical level you may have to calm your itchy feet to sit for  a while to use your hands while you  make something out of nothing.

On a practical level you cannot eat a curry when you are tie dying a t-shirt.

If you are learning a new routine for line dancing, its hard to wonder if the chippy is open whilst you concentrate on the steps.

You cannot sing and eat at the same time. 

So what if you include something creative in your new year as part of your overall healthy lifestyle, whether its something you did, something you would love to do, or something you love doing but never seem to have the time between work, house, kids and gym and commitments?

Resolve to give it 10 minutes a day.  Just 10 minutes.

You have 1440 minutes in a day, try giving 10 of them to your creative self and see what happens? 

Give yourself a gift of those 10 minutes and have a creative, healthy, inspirational start to your new year!




To bed or to weightwatchers?

Are you full of new ideas and resolutions but physically bone weary tired?

Mentally buzzing but physically fizzled out?

Do you WANT to get out in the evening in your new lycra leggings and day glo hat but struggling to find the energy?

Slimming World, Weight watchers, fat club, fight club, anything that supports anyone getting fit and healthy is good stuff in my books, but this time of the year I often find myself in total conflict with the size of my seating area and the amount of energy in my petrol tank. In short, at this time of the year I am mentally enthusiastic and buzzing with ideas and new year’s resolutions but physically tired. Not depressed, not despondent, just bone dog weary tired.

I have several explanations for why my physical body is trailing behind my super buzzy mind and they are simple.

1 I was born in November so I am guessing I spent much of Christmas and New year during my first festive period sleeping my brains out. 

2. My mother did not know how to spell the word “relax” and worked long hours to keep us all fed and watered and then spent the hours when she was not working in the garden, at the sewing machine or feeding the elephant sized twin tub washing machine. She was a powerhouse of energy so lying in bed on a Saturday morning was not an option, ever.  

3. All around me nature is having a rest, having a sleep, taking a physical break. I have no doubt that under the surface of the soil there is a lot of activity going on which is equivalent to my busy mind, and this year the daffodils have already started to appear due to an unnaturally mild winter. But in general, at this time of the year, nature  sleeps.

This year, I have thought a lot about going back to weight watchers (or whatever your chosen support club is)  but dont want to go back to lose weight to put it back on over winter to have to start again.

So instead of the usual “I am not handing over a tenner to have someone to tell me to stop eating the pies” type of procrastinating talk I regale myself with, I have decided to do something different.

This year I am going to combine the two options of taking a rest, AND going to weightwatchers. 

Sometimes its the simple solution that is the hardest to see. 

So I will be handing over my weekly tenner, not to be told how to “eat less and move more” which is the essence I think of all weight loss programs (and rightly so), but to join in the fun of a group of people all turning up in the skimpiest lightest clothing modesty will permit, once a week to make a commitment to getting healthier. 

And I will  have ALSO a rest, so that when nature gets out of bed refreshed after a lovely long rest, I will hopefully do the same !


Clothes from the road.


Clothes from the road campaign.

Have you seen this image before and thought it was shocking?

Have you ever passed a piece of clothing on the road, in the street, caught on railings, soaking wet and covered in mud?

Have you picked it up or passed it by?

Chances are these were dropped or lost  and the chances are they will be left to rot or disintegrate.

For many years I have seen hats, gloves, sweaters, jackets and scarves abandoned, lost, driven over, rained on, walked on and covered in mud.

For many years I have been thinking of making a large piece of art out of reclaimed clothing, just to highlight the sheer waste of often very good quality pieces of clothing.

Then I had an epiphany! On the 6th of January 2017 I am launching the “Clothes from the Road” campaign, where I hope to encourage people to stop, pick it up, launder it and donate it to a charity. Or wear it yourself, the choice is yours.


You will need; a plastic bag to carry it home in, a washing machine or sink depending on what you have found and that’s it. There is no need to clutter up anyone’s house, garage, spare room with black bin bags full of stuff, pass it on, put it on or find a home for it!

If you can, photograph your item on the road or street and after you have laundered it and share it here.

The aim; to stop the needless waste of good clothes and redistribute them to keep someone warm. Simples!

Have we really got so much that we  need to walk over something because we are too proud to pick it up, too lazy to wash it and too posh to put it on our backs?

So let’s get over ourselves, join the “Clothes from the Road Campaign” and give something back.



A little bit of Feng Shui and Elsa

Do you have clothes you paid good money for that you are going to “slim into” ?

Do you want have things in your house that it would be a sin to throw out? 

Do you need new things to help you business, project or goals for the coming year ? 

Somewhere, in some blog on some site I read about the 243 Feng Shui Challenge and for someone who is not, by any means a hoarder I thought it was a bit mad!

It suggests you get rid/recycle 27 things for 9 days +243 things. 

Thats 243 things! I thought that would never work but being a great believer in giving things a go,  I did, and on day five now I am itching to start my clear out for today.

Things like old fuses, biros, keys that dont belong to any lock, glue sticks with no tops that I will never get around to cutting the top of and covering with cling film. Clothes that are a “good make” but dont fit. Bags that I dont like but have a good zip for things. Books I should but will never read. Batteries that I dont know are good or not. Things that are in good nick. But never used.

But here’s the magic *******

The more bits I get rid of, the more things I find that I will use. Today I found a packet of Poppy Seeds from the Victorian  & Albert museum that my daughter bought me for a gift a year ago…they can be planted now in spring. 4 sets of googly eyes that I will use this week for a session in an upcoming class. A notebook with a whole list of email addresses I thought I had lost.

Now here’s the thing….

For as many things I have found that I will use, I have also found some “things” that would be great for an idea I just haven’t figured out yet. A Christmas bauble made of tin that had cosmetics in it for a gift and is now discarded. I thought “thats a sin to throw that out” so I have it. But I still dont know what to do with it.

So here’s the idea…

If, like me, you can’t throw out beautiful boxes or jars or packets but haven’t got around to doing anything with them, give yourself a day to figure out WHAT you are going to do with each one, or release it into the recycle bin where at least it will be used for something. And with that in mind, I have decided to give the Christmas bauble to the dog, who has been trying to take it off the desk anyway. It’s made of tin so it won’t burst and she will get hours and hours of pleasure out of it, rather than me keeping it in a box with other “things” and then getting fed up looking at it and throwing it out halfway through the year anyway.

Give yourself a day to decide what you WILL rather than COULD do with it and if nothing comes to mind let it go.

So dont put it away until you think of something to use it for, put it to use or let someone else use it! Don’t  put it way, give it away!

If you need a new laptop, then keeping a drawer full of usb cables, an old monitor, 2 spare keyboards and a box of old plugs is not likely to manifest a laptop. A box full of paint tubes with no tops and the contents gone hard but good if you cut them with a scissors at the bottom (sure fire way to destroy your clothes) is not likely to manifest a new set of paints. A box full of old handouts is not likely to manifest a new workbook and a fridge full of near empty jars is not likely to manifest a healthy meal.

So how about you give it a go, 27 things you get rid of for 9 days in a row, and if you are keeping a “thing”, decide if you love it enough to fix it, polish it, recycle  it or trip over it. If you can’t then let it go…it worked for Elsa! and if you want to get a bit of music to help, have a look at Elsa and sing along! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Warning, best sung at the top of your voice with grandiose arm gestures! 🙂

Welcome to the tribe!

Do you find this time of the year a time of peace/stress/shopping/rest or somewhere in between all four?

Are you getting ready to set big goals about losing weight, giving up drinking, smoking, swearing, and taking up running, herbal tea and affirmations?

Are you feeling that in between all the shopping, cooking, working, caring and making sure everything that needs to be done is done….but there is something missing? Something you can’t quite put your finger on or are afraid to look too closely incase it might come out and it will be too big, too much, too hard to achieve?

Are, a secret, functioning creative?

If so, then welcome to the tribe, and know that there are a gazillion of us in it, of all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of aspirations and if you are reading this then I am guessing you are getting ready to come out.

For ever all I ever wanted to do was write and paint. Simples. So I did write a bit, got a few pieces published, won a few competitions and sold a few paintings. Even sold a design for a jeans label. Then I did just about everything else you could think of. Working in a timber merchants, a supermarket, as a tour guide, in a bar, a restaurant, travelled, learned a foreign language (greek to be precise), taught English as a foreign language then returned to Ireland to spend a very large part of my adult life working in the homeless sector and social care industry.  Dabbled in both writing and painting but was far too busy to do either in any great depth, despite having minor successes in both along the way.

Then I became a professional life coach, a mentor and a trainer of coaches. So I could coach people to become artists and writers. (Sound familiar?) And train people to become coaches so they too could coach artists and writers. By all accounts I was a successful coach too, being featured on the Tern TV/BBC series The Last Resort as the consultant  coach and working with clients in Ireland, UK, New Zealand, Australia, France and Germany. I had very little time to write or paint because I was so busy empowering people to write and paint, or whatever their dream creative goal was.

Along the way I discovered may inspirational books and people including Julia Cameron’s seminal book The Artist’s Way. Another career change followed by a couple of bucket list achievements  including opening a second hand bookshop and a return to education in Trinity College Dublin to do a B.A. Hons in Irish Studies, I was now writing at a rate of knots, essays, dissertations, summaries and selling other people’s books, who had no doubt being coached by someone to be a writer or an artist.

A second book shop and a growing facilitation and training business followed until finally,  by chance, and it is usually how these things happen, a conversation with two customers gave me an opportunity and/or the courage to put on a course that was not predetermined by a brief, nor a request from a company or organisation, but based on the 12 week program that I had been using consistently throughout my 30 year “career”.

The first Artist’s Way course took place in The Scarecrow Book & Gift Emporium in Sonairte, ( in Julianstown, Co. Meath in May of 2016. What happened next took me by surprise in a big way…the second and third course filled up and by the end of this year there has been five successful courses with another three booked for 2017. Although we started out with the 12 step program, all the tips, tools and exercises I had come across and developed over the years became an integral part of each session, as did a make and do section, and of course, plenty of tea, coffee and a fair amount of biscuits.

Having trained under Dr. Madan Kateria ( as a laughologist  somewhere along the line, (I know!) it seemed a great fit to put on laughter workshops to complement the groups, so we did. A one day workshop “Life Lessons from Fairy Tales” came out of an interest in how things really affect us empathically and “Heal Your Money Story” is now also part of the 2017 program and was developed out of an interest in how some people are successful with money and how their skill set and approach to money is from a lot of others.

So now I am writing and painting and working with people who want to write or paint or sing or make stuff. So if you are reading this blog and have an itchy scratchy feeling that there might be something more out there for you than you are doing at the moment, join us here on Creatively Thinking and meet like minded individuals, get inspired to get creative and recover the things you did that made you lose track of time when you were a child. All courses start in late January when the Christmas pud will be a distant memory and nature will be starting to make stuff every where we look! 🙂

And for today…do One Little Thing...

A stick figure, a doodle, a four line rhyme, an apple pie, just make a start and if you think you are too old check out Debra Eve’s Later Bloomers here  at, the woman is a treasure trove of inspiration!


So I wanted to write a blog…

Several years ago I had a lovely blog. Published, regular posts, images, comments, the whole kit and kaboodle. It complimented my work as a trainer and facilitator and coach and people gave me lots of lovely feedback on the ideas, tips and information.

Then the recession hit. So I took a “real” job. It was a disaster. Nuff said. A few years on and I am back doing what I love most and the technology is way more accessible than it was when I had my original blog. So the process should be piece of pie. Well, it turns out my brain has pressed “delete” on the file that uses technical knowledge and I am now back with the stabilizers on my technical tricycle. “It’s like riding a bike” they say…

If you are reading this then I have managed to reclaim some part of the process and will no doubt “remember” more apps, taps and widgets over the next few weeks but it got me thinking. This is way more difficult than I remember…or am I older and less confident than I was a few years ago? Or do I want it to be worth your while reading it so its a lot more precious to me that it works this time?

What if things were too difficult when we tried them second time around was nature’s way of checking if we really want it? Is it twice as challenging the more you want something? And does that make it all the more worthwhile?

I love what I do. Delivering coaching, training, courses, workshops and one off facilitation sessions. But there is a limit to where I can get to in a given week and how far I can drive to on a given day. The internet is many things, and one of the most important thing is its ability to remove the limits. Unless you are up a very high mountain or in a very remote forest you will get a signal (and if you are up a very high mountain you would be better off looking at the view instead of trawling the internet for inspiration. Likewise in a deep forest you will see and hear far more interesting things than any words on a screen can show you.)

But if you are at home, and its raining, or you have little time to go out out night classes, a blog can be like a mug of hot chocolate or a glass of wine, and every now and again someone’s words will trigger an idea that was lurking behind the bills and bother of everyday living. I read many blogs that inspire me, make me laugh and very often make me think.

So with this in mind I will persevere and figure it out, I know I know how to do it…I just need to find the write tools in my head, and the moral of the story is that I will NEVER forget such a valuable skill because I didn’t realise how valuable it was when I had it.

What did you used to do well that you can’t do now?

A woman who attended one of the Artist’s way sessions recently blew us away when she calmly announced that she could play the clarinet (Deirdre, you know who you are! 🙂 ) but it needed to be fixed and she had not played it for a long time.  And play it she did, on our last day and with grace and elegance. To my knowledge she has not played since and if she dosen’t play shortly she will be back to joining me in the stabilizer section of the courage school.

What would happen if you decide to try your hand at your forgotten skill?

Would the sky fall if you took out the sketch pad? The note book? The cookery book? The sewing machine?

Would you make mistakes? Will that stop you?

I  changed my facebook image a few days ago as the page no longer reflected what I do and used an image of a painting I did a long time ago as I had the image on the laptop I was using. The response took me by surprise; lots of people commented on the painting assuming it was a recent work. In fact, such was the lovely positive response that I have now purchased a new canvass and once I have mastered tomorrow’s technical high jump I am going to paint!

What will you do that you haven’t done for a long time?

I would love to hear what you get up to, no matter how fantastic or how big a failure…and dont get me started on “failure” 🙂 🙂 🙂