Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Time to Reflect?

My Intuitive Vision Board - September 2019

Happy New Year.  As I write I wonder what the New Year of 2021 will bring?  What I wish for most in 2021 - the demise of the coronavirus pandemic!  It has been an extremely difficult and challenging year for all in 2020. We lost so many loved and beautiful people to the pandemic.  We waited tentatively and patiently for life saving vaccine news.  We heard stories of hope, courage and dedication and clapped in appreciation of our health care workers and keyworkers.  

We are extremely grateful for the work they continue do as we move into 2021. I am thankful and grateful for those who come together and make a difference in these challenging times.  I’ve been reflecting on the year of 2020.  Who would have guessed when January 2020 started how the year might unfold… certainly not me!  

There have been changes, many changes, to the ways we work, play and exercise. In this blog post, I reflect on some of my own changes. Let me take you back pre-Covid to a creative workshop I attended with a friend of mine, a workshop where intuition plays a considerable part!

I created an Intuitive Vision Board in September 2019 long before the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic.  I recall a peaceful and relaxing Saturday morning facilitated by Mary Nondé, gathering the group together, preparing us for a visionary day ahead.

I enjoyed the skilled meditative process that Mary creates prior to the making of our respective boards. This wasn’t my first Intuitive Vision Board with Mary.  As with the others I set to work to create my board quietly and intuitively, selecting and deselecting images as the morning wore on.  

Upon completion, I viewed the board curiously and wondered how and when my unconscious mind which had created this board would engage with my conscious thinking?  In September 2019 life was ‘normal’ …as we knew it.  But everything changed in March 2020 and I don’t think anyone anticipated the magnitude of the 2020 changes.  I viewed my board regularly and I wondered what work/life changes might unfold for me personally.


Within days of making this board, I was gifted with a beautiful drawing of an Octopus from my 3-year-old Spanish niece, a beautiful picture in her best colouring-in, not unlike the octopus on my board.  Her creativity is developing as I write - beautiful handwriting, colourful drawings and mastering four languages.


The group of ladies surrounded by poppies surely represent the group of friends who rallied together to help me create my website for my children’s coaching project: Poppyfields Coaching.  This same website that had lain dormant for months when I was too busy to work on it prior to lockdown. Lots of discussions over virtual cups of tea and one day we’ll celebrate with Champagne in real time – both tea and wine on my board.  

The boy and the apples

Prior to pandemic, my coaching with children was face-to-face. Suddenly I had to learn and adapt to online coaching practice. Fast and flexible I needed to be, stretching me well outside my comfort zone. It was stressful and tough at times learning new skills however, I am amazed to find that both the children and I enjoy this style of coaching.   And as a coach I can offer more, different and fun interactive tools like the apple bobbing.

Cosy by the fire

The cosy living room with a real coal fire? My dream of sitting in front of a coal fire however is but a fantasy, a remnant of a bygone day in Donegal.  Each year in Ireland on Nollaig na mBan, we celebrate Women’s Christmas (6 January) and a talented group of female musicians used the opportunity to fundraise for their local hospice.  The theme for their event, ‘Cosy by the fire’ while I sat ‘cosy by my fire’ to enjoy it.  This image has quietly prompted me also to explore contributing to my own local hospice in 2021.

Pandora’s box & the weaving of threads

The image that intrigued me most on my board was the wooden box and cotton reels. While I admire those, who create beautiful pieces with a needle and thread and I love needleworks of art, crafted pieces and craft fairs, sewing is not my talent beyond sewing on a button or two. 

Writing is my craft of development. I love to write and find the whole process enjoyable and therapeutic.  Many a solution has occurred to me through a hastily written rant and a reflective read. But why this ‘sewing box and threads’ on my board?  During contemplation an idea unfolded to bring creative people together – and there has never been a better time to offer this to people in lockdown and since I now have a grasp of the technological skills required.  The box is yet to be opened and when it does, I’ll share. While this week I’m busy clearing space for that particular project.

Exploring creativity has been been a great source of inspiration for me during lockdown - sharing words, letters, and exchanging ideas. It has helped me stay focused on days when work was quiet and lockdown days became routine.  It has permitted me to think about doing things differently.  My work has changed and that’s okay for now.  My thoughts about tackling the impossible have changed too. From a health and wellbeing perspective, creativity has been most welcome and enjoyable too. And should you consider ‘tapping into that creative and intuitive part of self,’ add it to your 2021 ‘to do list’, you can read more about Mary’s Intuitive Vision Board below.

In the meantime, Stay safe and Stay well. 

Wishing you good health and happiness for a better year ahead.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Whose woods are these?

Nature is something I am enjoying more and more particularly during these pandemic times.  Thanks to a good friend and a great map reader, I have enjoyed exploring new areas of countryside over the last few weeks. This has resulted in improved fitness, lots of laughter and a greater appreciation of what Mother Nature has to offer.  So, thought I'd write her a little thank-you note. 

Dear Mother Nature
    A loud bang from the harvesting woods stopped us in our tracks yesterday.  Several herd of deer dashed right across our walking path in the early morning sun. They ran fast and frightened to the safety of the opposite wood.  A mighty stag stopped, brayed and led his brood to pastures new. We watched mesmerised from a safe and hidden distance until the mass exodus was complete.  The day's walk had only just begun.
    Long before our arrival you had already created a welcoming space, festooned with flowers, hawthorn, blackberry bushes, trees of beech and oak.  Saplings planted side by side, nurtured daily with sunshine and soft rain. Gentle winds whispered quietly encouraging the silent growth of forest ferns. And the sprinkling of early morning frost on fallen boughs added a touch of magic to our early morning walk. Strong branches unwieldy and artistically woven created a welcoming shelter for us and other animals who ramble the earth. 
    Your architectural sculpting of the taller trees enhances the dappled light, balancing just the right amount of light and shade.  All co-ordinated beautifully for the seasons and the enjoyment of these walks.  Each walk a magical mystery tour weaving in and out of wooded vales, stopping only to admire the ancient oaks and beechwood and wondering who might have walked this way in bygone days.  Fallen leaves in painted reds, yellows and greens. Listening for the crunch in each footstep taken, noticing the glossiness in the rain soaked leaves. Side-stepping the deeper well-walked mud tracks in the dark brown earth. The feeling of calm and wellbeing in your natural woods affords a soothing balm in these anxious times. 
A quiet space, a sacred space, a spiritual space?  Thank you


        Gratefully yours,

Máire Rua

Wishing everyone well over the festive season. 

Monday, 30 November 2020

The travellers of the field


As the month of November closes, I am reminded of Autumn, Keats and the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’.   

Thoughts of recent walks during this season prompted a few lines today.  

Normally at this time of the year the fieldfares (travellers of the field) have returned from Scandinavia to the UK, for the winter.  Their acrobatic flights across the open fields can be mesmerising, stopping walkers in their tracks! 

A misty morning morphs into a sunny day,

Unfurling leaves of red, green, yellow.

Travelling the fields, a flight of fieldfares

Unploughed countryside awaits the new season,

Muddy boots, woolly hats, walkers in conversation,

Nests and hawthorn berries ready for cooler days.

Friday, 2 October 2020

To Write or Not to Write?

Procrastination Monster whispers in my ear, 

 ‘Check your emails first. Make a cup of tea before you settle down. Remember to write your shopping list. What’s for dinner? Music before you start? You can always write tomorrow, can’t you?’

True, I could but …  

In the other ear, Writing Muse, advises assertively,

‘Write, write, write!  Ignore him.  He’s such a distraction.  You know he loves when you abandon writing time.  Don’t listen to him.  He’ll boast with pride knowing that he has persuaded you to stop.

And she’s right.  Like me, she knows the master of procrastination only too well.  

Usually when we reach this point of inner conflict, she directs my attention to one of the many notebooks on my desk, a travel journal, a book of quotes, a poetry book, the latest writers’ magazine. 

‘Choose a page.  Any page,’ she shouts.

Her invitation is welcome. Writing Muse has a gentleness with her persuasive powers. 

His expertise excels in the dark act of distraction.  Not helpful for a writer.

‘A biscuit, a chocolate biscuit and a cup of tea?, he taunts. ‘Have an another break, just a minute or two before you start. Relax. ’ 

I’ve fallen for his charm in the past and the lure of chocolate is enough to distract any writer.

Her look. My hesitation. His snigger.  We’re getting nowhere fast.

‘Writing time.  Focus. Choose a notebook,’ she insists.

And I do.  My notebook of quotes.  A random page falls opens.

She giggles, as do I.

‘What’s so funny?’ he grumps.

‘Go on, read it aloud, share your writing prompt for today.’

With a little clearing of the throat, I enunciate in finest voice.

‘Procrastination is the natural assassin of opportunity’.
He is not amused.  He slithers off in disgust, muttering as he goes. 
‘Okay, let’s get started’, she says. 

I write … and write ...  relishing the opportunity to write some more. 

Friday, 4 September 2020

Fancy a walk?


Avebury, Wiltshire 

Surrounded by books, notebooks, pens and the new all singing, all dancing MacBook, I'm ready to write.  Emm ... but what about?  News? Events? Photos? Picture prompts? Some days the creative juices flow well, other days not! Today, It’s a wild and wet day so I contemplate transporting myself to somewhere else … 


‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ … so I grab my mobile phone in search of inspiring pictures and sunnier days of rambling in the countryside.  There are pictures of garden visits, walks walked, family weddings and events attended over the years.  Unfortunately, fewer family gatherings this year as we continue to abide by Covid pandemic rules and restrictions.


The picture that speaks to me today is one of a series of photos taken when The Man and I visited Avebury henge and stone circles, in Wiltshire several weeks ago.  Despite a relatively busy car park, there was ample space to walk at our leisure, exploring these magnificent neolithic stone structures. Records indicate that the henge and stone circles were built between 2850 BC and 2200 BC.  The site, henge and stone circles are currently managed by the National Trust on behalf of English Heritage. It’s remarkable walking around and admiring these huge structures.  How were they built?  What was the significance of these formations?  Who was responsible?  Who commissioned henge architecture?  Did they know such pieces would continue to be viewed many years later?  What was life like back in those Neolithic days?  How were the various stones moved from place to place?


'The chronology of Avebury's construction is unclear.  It was not designed as a single monument but was the result of various projects undertaken at different times during late prehistory.  Experts date the construction of the central cove to 3,000 BCE, the inner stone circle to 2,900BCE, the outer circle and henge to 2,600 BCE, and the avenues to 2,400 BCE.  The construction of Avebury and Stonehenge indicate that a stable agrarian economy had developed in this region of England by 4000 to 3500 BCE'.

Source: Lumen Learning


Avebury, my amateur snapshot speaks words of relaxation, history, awe, amazement, time travel, incredible structures.

 Walking boots and a picnic complete the perfect day ... far from the madding crowd.


Sunday, 26 July 2020

How is the ‘new normal’ for you?

The field of unknowing

On a recent Zoom call with friends the lockdown conversation continued.  How has it affected you?  Your work? Your lack of work? What do you miss most / least?  What do you appreciate?  What do you find most challenging?  How has it made a difference to how you do things? How do you feel about the ‘new normal’? How do you plan for an unknown and uncertain future? How is the ‘new normal’ for you? How are you ‘being’ in the ‘new normal’?

We shared our thoughts and insights generously and left the call with food for thought.  I’ve been sitting with some of those thoughts over the last few days … note the word ‘sitting’.  Those of you who know me well, know that I don’t do much sitting nor sit around doing nothing for long!  I admit, I’m more of a human ‘doing’ than a human ‘being’.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than participating and engaging in work and community projects, meeting people, making plans and celebrating creative connections. I really enjoy the whole business of social interaction even though at times it can be stressful and painful too. I’ve really missed doing many of the things I’ve done before lockdown. The easing of lockdown means that there is opportunity for a little interaction via ‘social bubbles’ and it’s different in the ‘new normal’ environment. I appreciate and understand the need for face coverings, social distancing and non engagement with shielded people (no hugs just yet!). I’m ‘being’ okay with that.  For me, it’s important, it’s being responsible, it’s being safe.

I’ve noted how our schools are ‘transitioning’ our children with their new classes and different teachers. Taking time to ‘transition’ is really important as many children have missed out on education, learning and seeing friends. With that comes many feelings and emotions.  In many schools, teachers and support staff have really worked hard during lockdown.  I admire their patience, tenacity and resilience with ever changing government guidelines.  There’s been a lot of work in schools preparing our children for  ‘different ways’ and how school will be when they return in September. 

Like the children returning to school, we too need to ‘transition’ to new ways of doing and being. I’m learning to use this time ‘to be’, to re-assess, to think about what’s really important and savour the stillness of the quieter days.  It's tough!  Contemplative walks in nature, I can highly recommend.  For now, there’s time and time enough ‘to be’ in the moment and listen for the ‘what elses’ that are being whispered quietly to me. As a busy ‘do-er’, I’ve often missed these whispers.  In the meantime, I sit patiently in the ‘field of unknowing’ contemplating my transition to the ‘new normal’. 

Saturday, 13 June 2020

What makes you stop and wonder?

Walking on the Pastures of Wonder

Sometimes it takes time for inspiration to nudge my writing pen and me. I confess I’ve sat at my desk often, looking out the window, watching the fluffy white clouds move in slow motion across a bright blue sky, observing the sweeping and soaring of Red Kites and simply wonder. 

Today, I see how well the purple Everlasting Sweet Pea in my garden has stretched and grown from the straggly little stem it once was. It’s a particularly cherished flower, a parting gift from staff and children at a school where I once worked.  The extending branches and tendrils remind me how it has grown over the years and makes me wonder about those children and staff with whom I once worked.  Where are they now? Do they continue to grow and develop?  I loved being part of that growth and development. I continue to do so today albeit in a different place.  I wonder where those staff and children are now?  I wonder how their lives are the same or different?  I wonder how I have grown, developed and changed over the years?  No answers required …merely rhetorical questions at this stage!  However, I wonder if there will be a stage when these questions will be asked and shared again? Perhaps in a favourite space over a cool glass of white wine but not right now …maybe later when Covid-19 has become a distant memory?

During the ‘lockdown’, I have found comfort and solace in reading and writing.  I have particularly enjoyed one of my favourite authors, John O’Donohue. He was recognised by many (myself included) as an inspirational writer. He was a native Irish speaker, born in County Clare, Ireland and wrote several best sellers and poetry collections too, Anam Cara, Eternal Echoes and Divine Beauty.  His last work, Benedictus, was published in 2007.  Sadly John O’Donohue died at the age of fifty-two on 4 January 2008.

I highly recommend his writing.  He writes in a beautiful, lyrical style.  His words encourage thought about many things.  I particularly enjoy his rhythmical writing style and how his words and sentences weave beautifully on the page.  For me, he inspires and permits time for contemplation particularly now in the less busy times … like ‘lockdown’. I am currently reading ‘Walking in the Pastures of Wonder’ and enjoying his conversations on wonder, landscape and balance. This particular book is a collection of radio conversations between John O’Donohue and his close friend and former RTE broadcaster, John Quinn.

I think it’s good to slow down and wonder …

What are you wondering about today?