A QUICK STORY. Forever. Since I was eight and a half and I played the sailor in the school production of "The Wishing Moon", I wanted to act. Every day for a week (and twice on Saturday), I got to do my little sailor dance and eat the rosiest red apple as part of my performance. Imagine my excitement each day as our next-door neighbour Margaret popped by to make up my stage face with the most blissfully scented creams and cosmetics. By the time I'd slipped into my silky blue bell-bottoms, sailor top and pill box hat, I was transported into character and on the stage. I was hooked. It was the acting life for me.
Interesting sailor-theme aside - Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow is my favourite screen character of all time
Ah yes. The madness of an eight and a half year old! So I got on with real life and Meryl Streep got all my parts.
Then one day last year I made my baby cry (youngest never stops being baby right?) Katie was helping me clear out the attic. We came across an old handbag stuffed with photos from 'the olden days' which yielded a small square snapshot of me in costume and stage ready for the school production of "The Wishing Moon". I'd forgotten all about those days and as the memory came flooding back I recounted my childish excitement and short-lived passion for the stage. Something shining within my words though caught Katie's observant eye.
"Why don't you take up acting Momma?" she asked me. And then I said it. The three sad words that made her cry. "It's too late". Her eyes scanned my face as she tried to make sense of the words and the saddest look crossed hers as she glanced back at the photo. "Don't say that please Momma". In that moment, I realised that those three words were a story I told myself. 'It's too late". A story handed down through the ages and I was about to pass it on to this beautiful young adult again. "It's too late" meant I'd given up. And the story I was perpetuating is that at a certain time in life, we must begin to suffer little deaths of joy and passion so that we turn into what? Acceptably aged? Every time we say the words "It's too late" we do a little bit of dying. My daughter cried because she saw through "It's too late" and heard my grief.
WHAT AGE WILL YOU BE IN SEVEN YEARS TIME?
To make the point let me share with you this little gem. (bear with me - another short story). A caller to a radio chat show shared her sorrow at discovering her dissatisfaction in her chosen career - let's say she's a school teacher. She explains that it was a toss-up between teaching or medicine when it came to her college studies many years earlier and she'd grown to realise, TOO LATE, that she really wanted to be a doctor. Now the host of this talk show was the most positive and enlightened man I've ever come across, Dr. Wayne Dyer. Sadly now deceased but there's a wealth of life- enhancing/changing resources available on his website http://www.drwaynedyer.com. He listened with sympathy to the caller and he asked her age.
"I'm 47" she replies.
"And how long will it take you to become a doctor?" he asks.
"About 7 years" she replies with a deep sigh of resignation.
"So what age will you be in 7 years time?" asks Dr. Dyer.
"I'll be 54" caller replies, more deep sighing.
"And what age will you be in 7 years time if you don't study to become a doctor?" Ah the canny Dr. Dyer!!
"I'll be 54" giggles the caller.
"So whadda ya wanna be?" he cries. "A FIFTY FOUR YEAR OLD DISENCHANTED TEACHER or a FIFTY FOUR YEAR OLD DOCTOR? YOU DECIDE."
So. I booked some acting lessons. Turns out all the kids loved me for improv. They needed: An alcoholic Landlady. An immigrant storekeeper. A silent psychotherapist. My wealth of life experience came into its own and guess what? I got all the best parts! Not too late at all.
So UpStarts what's it to be? I know an Auctioneer who, in his sixties, hung up his gavel and took his camera into the skies. His passion has produced several hugely successful, ultra glossy books on ariel photography. http://www.dennishorgan.ie There's a photograph of him, about to take to the skies, enormous camera in hand. He looks like Hemingway. Tough, Ready. And so thoroughly Alive.
When we follow our passion and seize our joy, it gives others permission to do the same. That should be our legacy. Share your passion in the comments below please. Let us know what's lighting you up.
If you need some help re-igniting your passion, or re-sourcing the joy of your eight and a half year old inner child, join me in my UpStarts DESIRE MAP workshop June 11th and 12th. We focus on - Clarity. Mindset. Freedom. email@example.com
Dennis Horgan - 'The View From Above"
What's not to love about being a Goddess? According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, Goddesses Never Age. I've downloaded her book of the same name on the Audible app and I listen to it (read by the author) in my car as I drive to the gym. I listen to it on other journeys too but somehow I feel I'm contributing more powerfully to the goddess image on gym trips and Dr. Christiane's words get to carry greater impact. Let's be honest, driving about getting sweaty about getting sweaty isn't inspiring in the least and my mind is more likely to drift into the mundane lane than to elevate my sense of higher purpose but from time to time, some juicy goddess guidance hits home nicely.
ABANDON YOUR AGE
Dr. Christiane has done all the research on the science of ageing and it seems to me that the two main components of ageing are chemical and mental and the connection to, and effect on, each one to the other. Put super-simply, 'we think, therefore we are'. Our bodies believe every word we say. So - tell it some superpowered steroid pumped new truths. Now dear UpStarts, I'm assuming you are one of our over 50's (but the earlier you start the following practice the better ) - so - When asked how old you are, check in with your body and assess how old you feel. Then answer with sincere conviction "I'm 33 today" or "42 today" or - go for it - "22 today". It doesn't matter what the enquirer thinks but your body will love you for it. "Thank you" it will say. "I like that look on you". Everything will fall into place so much more easily when you assume the age you feel 'today'. And skipping to the park to take in a couple of laps will seem so much sweeter. Go Goddess!
Today is Yellow Tuesday. And how do I know this? Well, from my earliest memory, I could see days of the week in colour. And each colour, gave each day it's own particular energy. Synesthesia, meaning sensory-fusion is a condition which fuses two senses, generally that of colour concept, to days of the week, months of the year and to numbers and letters of the alphabet. Imagine my surprise to discover that some wise-wordy academics had actually studied this and written whole books on the subject! I took for granted that Monday is brown. What else would the first day of the working/school week be? Tuesday, as I said is Yellow. Wednesday is a vibrant sky-blue, hopeful and curious. Thursday is a silver-grey, steady and strong and Friday is grassy green, lush and rewarding. Saturday is reddish orange, active and alive and Sunday is a crisp and clean, white. Sunday changes however as the day progresses. Starting out white, it develops flecks of silver-grey towards evening time. It never dawned on me that others could not see these colours too and when I read that Synesthesia is a fairly rare condition, I wondered could it not simply be that those with it, took it for granted that others see colours of the week too and wouldn't consider bringing it up in conversation. "I love your dress" someone could say. "Well thank you." the Synesthesiast might respond. " I thought it would match the blue of the day just perfectly".
Is there something in Yellow (and all its sunny hues) that is so uplifting and energising? I get most work done on a tuesday. I make my best plans, feel more creative, am at my most sociable and in my very best mood.......all on a tuesday. My friend and guru, Shaughna Whelan http://www.shaughnawhelan.com runs The Creative Rainbow workshops (and her highly accurate tarot card readings offer positive guidance and enlightenment). Shaughna tells us that colours carry vibrational energies which can improve our creativity and wellbeing. Today we are becoming more aware of the knowledge that the ancients of other cultures took for granted. That we have centres of energy located down through the midline of our body called chakras - and each chakra, when open and unblocked contributes to the wellbeing and physical health of specific areas of our body and spirit. The chakra is depicted in colour and each of the seven responds vibrationally to the energy of a specific colour. Yellow, for instance, corresponds to the navel or solar plexus and is associated with our self-esteem and personal power. Maybe that's why, when my mind is in a state of Yellow Tuesday, I feel so optimistic and in control.
It is suggested that a pregnant woman visualise breathing-in certain colours and to measure the changes in the baby's movement. Breathing in blue calms the baby, and the mother. Pink wraps it in womb-like love, red encourages movement and exercising and yellow is nurturing. Sometimes the mother is drawn to eat foods or drink in particular colours, depending on their urges or needs. Red counters anaemia for example. Visualising wrapping mother and baby in gold, keeps them protected and it is good for the mother to concentrate on this, coming close to delivery and even during the birth. Practicing breathing-in of colours in waves is a useful tool for the birth itself as it's a great distraction to add colour to the rhythm during contractions. For those of a spiritual mind, it's preparing baby's chakras along with keeping mother's chakras energised at the time when she is most in her Goddess state.
Shaughna tells us that wearing a particular colour will attract the energy associated with it. We all feel stronger and more visible wearing red which relates to the root or base chakra. That lady in red, will get more glances. The purple robes of the priest is to signify heightened spirituality and relates to the crown chakra and connectedness to a higher source. Personally, my preference till now is to wear black or grey. I wouldn't choose to decorate my home in those colours - but perhaps I think these dark colours suit my blonde highlights so much better (so speaks my higher self!) I think though that I like colour to surprise me in my outer world rather than to show up in colour myself but I do think I'll be more in tune with colour and the possibility that wearing it may offer me a new perspective, opportunity or even health benefit on any given day. Definitely worth exploring.
Kahlil Gibran writes:
"Let me, oh let me bathe my soul in colours. Let me swallow the sunset and drink in
That reminds me of the current advertisement on TV for Skittles sweets. A giraffe is happily munching a candy-floss rainbow and a smiling Jamaican chap is 'milking' skittles from the giraffe into a bucket.
Chakras. Kahlil Gibran. Skittles. Doesn't matter.................it's Yellow Tuesday.
Most of us reach a stage in life where we realise we have less years ahead of us than behind us. I have a little trick where I imagine the number of years I can reasonably expect to have ahead of me, and then check back to where I was in life the same number of years in the past. I convince myself that I was a mere youngster at that stage and so it seems, I have a fairly reasonable length of time to…… what? Fulfil my destiny? Write the novel? Move to Fiji and sip cocktails forever? Recently, I found myself asking the question, Do I want to live thirty five more years? Or do I want to live one year, thirty five more times?
The actress Jane Fonda describes life, not as a bridge-like arch with the rise of youth, the plateau of nurturing and the decent of old age, but instead, an ascending stairway. Taking each stage and building upon it, rising all the time. So where does that put those who choose to live the same year over and over again?
About two years ago, I came across Danielle LaPorte’s “The Desire Map - A guide to creating goals with soul”. Already an enormous fan of Julia Cameron’s “Artist’s Way” and a daily Morning Pages* writer, The Desire Map is a self-development programme with a sassy, funky attitude and its reflections and guidance, offers an inspirational and lit-up application to life. I made the decision to award myself a three day retreat and hit a delicious spa resort where I worked my way through those shiny-bright pages. Powered by my Core Desired Feelings and with a road map to my soul, I was transformed and rejuvenated. I departed that resort with the firm conviction that there would be no contented decent into old age for me. From my elevated position on Jane Fonda’s ascending stairway, I would make a new start. I was an UpStart.
A New Dawn
Some of you will identify with the following excerpt from my Morning Pages* from over a year ago, dated Thursday February 19th (4.35am). My mother had passed away after a long illness just a few weeks earlier.
Sleep has been and gone and the mellow smooth jazz on my iPad is deliciously comforting as I write these pages. The music slips over me like the softest cashmere and I know that in this darkest hour, I am not alone. The start of my day now, so utterly different in its cool simplicity to those other mornings not long gone. I think of all the mad, frustrated, delightful, anxious, rewarding mornings over the years when my primary role was that of mother. I could never, in those days, have contemplated the serene scenario my morning rituals have become. The haven my beautiful old writing desk affords me with my scented candle lit, my pens and paper at the ready, and the barely audible ambient music. My coffee aroma wafts and I not only catch my breath, but I breathe it all in.
I’ve been thinking about it all a lot lately though. How the mother-life dynamism fades. All those head-spinning super fast decisions made, opinions offered, aid administered, kindness extended, explanations demanded and corners fought. The kisses-better, lunch boxes filled, waffles toasted and sharp pleats ironed. Trainers found, keys lost, fees“chequed” , car defrosted, traffic negotiated, school, school, school! And then all over again. Pick-ups, homework, food, food, homework, grocery shopping, dinner, sports wear washed, ironing, more decisions, lectures, permission slips and rules enforced. This life was not for the fainthearted! It was a ride we dreamily climbed into and then hung onto for dear life as it spun faster and higher. Terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.
It’s come back to earth time for me now… and I find myself on a whole new ride. I’m neither daily mom or daughter now. Nothing would go terribly wrong if I took to my bed for a week or packed myself off somewhere. Heavens!!! We got them safely here. Mum has gone and thoughts of her comfort and care no longer fill my waking moment mind-scan. Those days are over. And so………I find myself on stand-down now. The trick of course is to accept that today I’m a tall building and no longer a bouncy-castle. A bouncy-castle is inflated for a purpose. It’s perfectly adequate as a means of entertaining and occupying its inhabitants for a period of time. When the occupants leave, it is deflated and no longer useful. No! Now I must remember I’m a tall, majestic, sky-scraper. Each day I’ve added bricks and mortar, interesting corners and viewpoints, levels of support and areas of comfort, warmth and security. A community has developed within it and my sky-scraper grows taller still. It’s very walls are the structure of our world. My girls can come and stand at the top with Alan and me anytime they like. They can take shelter, sleep peacefully, protected and safe and then spot something in the distance which sings to their soul. Waiving as they run into the sunlit street below, they joyfully begin the construction of their own world.
My role is not diminished. My role is to maintain that beacon atop my sky-scraper. We have built majesty together and I sit comfortably upon my throne.
A New Day
Today I am a Licensed Desire Map Facilitator and I run workshops and retreats for women and UpStarts of all ages. At the heart of the programme is the excavation of our innermost desires, our unique and profound calling in this life. How we want to feel and bringing those feelings into the light, making them central to our choices and most importantly, finding opportunities for their expression in our daily lives.
“Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity
that you can have. And generating those feelings is the most powerfully
creative thing that you can do with your life.” Danielle LaPorte
My Core Desired Feelings are Beauty, Freedom, Inspiration and Shine and I find these at the heart of every choice I make and everything I do. It is my delight to share this map and these tools for a liberated and transformed life. The life you were meant to live.
The day I decided to leave the descending arch of the bridge and step onto Jane Fonda’s ascending stairway, I found opportunities for growth and expansion presenting themselves in every direction. Ms. Fonda, uses the language of an actor in the discussion of her theory on aging. She calls that post-nurturing phase, “the third act”. I believe that Act one is lived with the permission of others. Act two is lived in the consideration of others. But Act three? That’s for me!! Act three is when it’s time to write your own script and claim centre stage of your own life.
For UpStarts…………….magic happens…
*Morning Pages is one of the twelve step exercises to reclaiming your artistic self in the hugely popular, Julia Cameron’s 'Artist Way' books. It is the practice of writing longhand in stream of consciousness, shortly after waking - about three pages. It is not intended as a diary or journal but more a thought depot and a safe space for nudges and niggles to struggle to the surface. This is where a thought can be examined and discarded or indeed to spark an idea to life.