A number of years ago, on a sparkle bright January morning, I drove the half kilometre or so to the place where Christmas trees are brought to be mulched after their service.
I am always sad doing this and to be honest, a bit misty eyed as I pull that most welcome of Christmas guests out of the boot of my car and haul it across to join the others waiting to complete their cycle.
It’s surprising then, that in this state that morning, I spotted in the gravel a little christmas tree decoration. A tiny wooden skiing angel. I picked him up and noticed he had only one wing and was mising his ski sticks but in this sad graveyard he stood out and somehow shone bright with the spirit of the festivity he’d been witness to in someone’s home over the past few weeks – and quite possibly many Christmasses before that.
I couldn’t bear to think that this precious ornament, in all probability lovingly hung in a carefully considered place on a family’s tree, had been overlooked when it came to dismantling it and returning the decorations to their place of rest until next year. I imagined it lit up with twinkling lights and the reflected sparkle from baubles and tinsel. Perhaps children chased each other around it, a family dog barked and sniffed at it, visiting neighbours marveled at it as they caught up with each other’s festive plans for the big day.
I held the delicate little ski angel - tiny, broken and lost and for a moment I wished to turn back time and like a film running in reverse, pull my tree back out of the pile, return it to its place at the heart of my home, draw my family back together to me once more, their smiling faces reflecting the tree lights like heartbeats, beating out a rhythm of those precious, treasured hours of gold, those jewelled few days when love shines bright like the star at the top of the tree.
Perhaps it was the thought of my darling daughter, now returned from her Christmas visit home to her own darling in London that this little tree angel, almost lost, suddenly became my treasure. I would take him home and he would continue living on our kitchen shelf all year round enjoying the family life that goes on throughout the whole year.
Every now and then over the past few years, my eye is drawn to him on the shelf, perhaps when I’m washing dishes after a Sunday brunch or stirring a sauce for a supper with friends. Then for a moment, Christmas hangs in the air and I’m reminded that our family will be together again.
This year he’s especially precious. We know that our love for each other is not just for Christmas but it can feel that if we can’t continue the traditions and rituals of bygone years that it somehow won’t be the same. But this year, we have learned to adapt, to do things differently and many family members will not make it home as usual.
This year when Christmas is over, I’ll carefully replace the Christmas decorations into their storage boxes before returning them to the attic. The little ski angel will once again take up his place on the kitchen shelf but I've decided he’ll be joined by another of the sparkling tree ornaments. The star, a symbol of hope, light and divine guidance will also ramain with the family. As I consider it throughout the year to come, its light will shine bright from the heart of our home out across the the land and over the sea to the place where our own precious darling herself shines bright.
……..and all in good time, it will lead her safely home.
I came across a term the other day that I'd never heard before - at least not in this context. It's called a 'future gift'. It's a gift received which is unappreciated at the time but turns out to be the exact thing you need or require at a future time.
At the moment it feels like we are all learning new things - about ourselves, our strengths, our challenges, our resources and those of the people who live with us. Inspiration and insight can come from almost anywhere. Have you noticed for example that your dreams are more vivid? Or that long forgotten memories come flooding back insisting on your attention?
The absence of an alarm to waken us up means that we can slip slowly out of our dream state and this allows us remember our dreams so much better. There are gifts - messages from the unconscious, whispers from the universe - to be found in these and dream experts advise us to keep a notebook beside our bed so that we can jot down words, images, experiences and symbols rising to the surface.
Each morning for the past week or so, shortly after waking, a memory of an incident I'd experienced over twenty years ago would cross my mind. It persisted until I decided to journal on it and to my surprise I realised that this memory was actually a kind of 'future gift', unappreciated all those years ago but showing me a way forward at this time.
At the time our twin girls were ten years old and our youngest girl was about six. We were spending the October bank holiday in Wexford and were visiting the Wildfowl Reserve just behind the sea wall, north of Wexford harbour. It was a blustery, sunny day and we had the place to ourselves. We had just finished feeding the ducks when a sudden blast of wind almost knocked us off our feet. Instantly we were drenched in tons of water. Out of nowhere it seemed we found ourselves struggling to get our breath as the wind roared and the wave of water kept coming.
Managing to get our backs to the wall of the reserve, my husband Alan and I inched ourselves and the children to the revolving gate and to our car just behind the wall. We made a desperate attempt to get the children into the car and as we pulled the doors open they snapped back on their hinges and every single thing inside the car was sucked out and flung into the air.
We had no time to think. It was as though we were caught in a nightmare and every move was for the survival of our family.
There were a lot of things lying about in our car - Barbie dolls, My Little Ponies, blankets, sweets, books etc. and we were helpless as they literally flew past us and up into the water drenched air all about us. In seconds, but in slow motion if you can imagine that, we managed to get the girls to safety and fastened into their seats.
But now I have to tell you an aside story.....
MISS O'D's SCHOOL READER
Katie, our youngest was learning to read at school and her teacher was most particular about the condition in which the readers must be kept (quite rightly of course). They were lent to the girls to take home and then would be passed to the next person in perfect condition each time. Surprisingly - truly for our Katie is to this day a delightfully pleasing and sunny natured person - in her two years in Miss O'D's class, Katie never managed to raise a single hint of approval or warmth from her teacher. On this day I watched as the precious school reader rose out from the door pocket and flew up into the sky and Miss O'D's disapproving face came sharply to mind.
CALLING ON ANGELS
Instantly and instinctively, I called on the angels to bring the book back. In that moment I didn't just trust that I would get the book, I knew I would get the book. Alan and the girls were horrified as I shut the door instead of climbing into safety and with every ounce of energy in my body, I inched against the mighty storm as the book flew higher and higher into the air. Then suddenly the book dropped like a stone right on the ground in front of my foot. 'Thank you, thank you.' I yelled relief flooding through me as I lunged for the book and almost laughed at the impossibility of it all. Here I was, holding the featherlight reader yet struggling to keep my own feet on the ground.
I managed to get back to the car but no matter how I pulled at the door, I couldn't open it against the might of the wind. Alan tried to manoeuvre the car so that I could shelter somehow but there was nowhere to hide. Helplessly my family watched from inside as I struggled to get my breath and stay on my feet. Then in one second, as suddenly as it begun, the sky cleared, the wind dropped and the sun came out. The silence was striking after the thunderous roar of the wind and the only thing to show for what had just occurred was the drenched foliage and sea foam scattered all around us.
The car door creaked on its hinge as I pulled it open and climbed in. 'What just happened?' we all cried. We were drenched, soaked to our skin. Our faces were stung red from the freezing cold water and our hair so matted, it was to take hours to carefully comb out.
As we drove home the news came on the radio. A tornado or waterspout had made landfall just north of Wexford town at 12.45pm. There was tragedy too as the Rosslare ferry had been in its path and a passenger had been blown overboard. A search later recovered his body. My family was soaked through but we were alive. Our car was damaged but could be repaired and Miss O'D's reader was saved when all else was blown to the four corners.
WHY THIS FUTURE GIFT?
The memory of this experience had been so persistent that it demanded I look at it in my journaling practice which I do each morning. Most often I journal on simple things such as blessings I encounter or ideas which I'd like to explore but from time to time old stories surface and journalling is the perfect place to give them their moment, oftentimes resulting in 'letting go' or in forgiveness of others or for myself.
On this occasion it dawned on me that the experience of the waterspout, although different, is similar in certain ways to the current situation. It came out of the blue and was never in our wildest dreams imagined. It involved taking a swift act of survival. It involved total uncertainty and no idea when or how it would end. Most importantly it involved asking for help from a divine source. The message to me of this persistent memory was not simply to ask the angels for guidance and help but to know that I would get the help I asked for. I was reminded that ...
Miracles happen when we tap into the Divine energy outside of ourselves and magic is the result of harnessing the Divine energy within each of us.
During my phone conversation with Carol Dooley on her Saturday Live show last Saturday (click here to listen to podcast) we talked about how there can be any magic in these times and concluded that magic is harnessing the divine energy within ourselves - our innate wisdom. Our dreams and memories - or our future gifts - where experiences of the past come back to bring us the blueprint for the way forward now, is the magic of the day.
Keeping a notebook beside your bed, journalling, meditating, setting up your sanctuary or sacred space, making a divine connection with your angels / loved ones in spirit / saints / guides etc. will all bring us to Good Orderly Direction. There we may even find miracles.
A short while after the tornado incident, I sent Katie into school with a note explaining the circumstance that caused the reader to be in its less-than-perfect condition. When she returned home from school, I asked Katie what her teacher had to say. "She scrunched up the note and threw it in the bin and told me to go back to my seat." she said.
Hmmmm. Perhaps I should have told her the dog ate it....
Please feel free to share your thoughts and let me know how you are getting on. And do please join us on the Wise & Ageless Goddess Facebook page here
Wishing you peace and pleasure in your home at this time and most of all that you stay safe and well.
A memory came back to me this week and it wasn't so much what happened as what we felt during the experience that I remembered so sharply.
🐇Many years ago when my children were young, from time to time we would spend an afternoon at a petting farm in the Glen of the Downes about fifteen minutes from our home.
🐥We'd park the car and the only fee was if you wished to purchase some seeds to feed the hens, rabbits, pigs and goats wandering freely in their pens. If memory serves there were some bad-tempered Llamas there too.
A sweet memory of my children's childhood full of delightful moments and photo opportunities - (note to girls: - there's a whole box of them all nicely filed in the attic anytime you want a walk around memory farm). But why now? What was so striking about this memory at this time?
🐐Something strange happened one afternoon as we neared the end of our visit to the farm. We wandered over to a field of goats and held our hand out to a very young goat who, in his curiosity, popped his head between an upper and lower rail and stretched his neck towards us. We admired his sweet face for a little and then just as he was slipping back through the rail, one of his little horns (or buds I believe they're called) caught and was torn from his head.
The poor little goat was terribly shocked and cried out in his pain and distress. We were shocked ourselves and held our breath wondering how we could help. Should we call the farmer?
✨Then the twenty or so goats in the field suddenly stopped all their chewing and bleating. In unison,with what appeared to be a sense of herd 'knowing', they silently formed a wide circle, all facing inwards towards the little goat who instantly stopped crying.
And in complete silence, unmoving, all of the goats simply held their gaze on the youngster. My family and I were captivated. We stood quietly stock still too. For about five minutes, the little goat was held in this protective circle of absolute safety and peace. It felt as though the group were holding a protective, healing space for their injured one and for us it was as though we were witnessing a profound moment of natural wisdom.
Then, again as one, the group returned to munching grass and moving amongst each other. The little goat, seemingly completely recovered, rejoined the herd and continued his grazing contentedly.
This experience kept coming back to my mind this week. For a while, I couldn't understand why it seemed important and then it struck me. The healing of the weakest one occurred when the whole herd stopped what they were doing and focused their energy on him. This feels a little like what we are doing worldwide, in our herd of humanity at the moment. We are all stopping, pausing usual activity, for the good of the sick and the vulnerable and each other, to hold humankind in an energy of healing and safety.
I found comfort in this memory and although this period of the suspension of usual activity feels strange, it's also the exact right thing to do.
This is our healing pause.
It's nature's way.
Photo from Unsplash by Virginia Long - thank you.
By Trina Keane
Perhaps it’s the new spring light or maybe the sunny daffodils and primroses ribboning the roadsides and parkways but I’ve always felt a powerfully uplifting energy shift around the time of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland.
I have to admit, I’m a bit of a S.A.D. sufferer once the Christmas decorations have returned to the attic so this time of the returning light is precious to me. And how perfectly timed is the March 17th day of celebration near the spring equinox and the March full (worm) moon when the thawing earth delivers up nourishment in time to feed the early nesting birds.
As a child St. Patrick’s Day was so very welcome because children who had given up sweeets and chocolate for lent were excused their lenten promises for the day. We wore emerald green ribbons in our hair and sprigs of delicate shamrock as we headed off to church, after which we’d take the bus and join the cheering masses, waving flags and catching sweets being thrown from the floats at the city parade.
Once I’d learned to drive, my friend Carol and I would take off in my dad’s Volkswagon - the Blister Beetle we called it - and head to the Wicklow hills. We’d park on the roadside near the lakes of Glendalough and the ruins of the ancient monastic settlement of another early christian, St. Kevin. Nestled between two lakes and surrounded by steep wooded hills on all sides, an iconic round tower stretches up here, between the crumbling gravestones and chapel walls.
From our roadside vantage-point, young people would sit in and around their cars playing music and carrying rounds of drinks from the nearby pubs with the music of the celtic rock band Horslips and the unmistakable opening riff of Dearg Doom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5G8AJf4Xzw bringing everyone to their feet to joyously proclaim ourselves contemporary Irish. We were modern young men and women with heroes like Cuchulain, the Red Destroyer ( the Dearg Doom), to remind us that this now is our time to own the culture, the myth and the music of what came before us, and to us, down through the ages.
As the years pass I’ve noticed more and more that my calling on this day, is less a need to express my heritage through tribal gatherings and parades and more a returning to my roots, to something that goes back much further back than Patrick.
A bit like the ancient druids, I feel the desire to be with the trees and rivers and lakes. These days my celebration of the greenest day of the year is to spend time in nature, awakening after the dark months of winter to birdsong echoing through the canopy of a cathedral of trees. Being with trees was how our Druid ancestors lived and healed and drew spritual connection.
Each year, very early on the morning of the 17th of March come whichever season greets us (for St. Patrick’s Day is also known as the day of all four seasons), my family and I pack a picnic and head out once again to Glendalough not to sit in our car, as Carol and I in our youth found so liberating, but to immerse ourselves in the woodlands and lakes and take deep lungfulls of the fresh spring air.
This year more than ever our ancients would urge us to go to the trees. There is real healing in trees and the practice known as *'Forest Bathing' or 'Shinrin Yoku' is fast becoming an antidote, a social prescription if you like, to modern living in the age of technology. Trees emit plant essential oils to protect themselves called phytoncides. Studies show that inhaling these oils can boost your immune system for up to 30 days. And the practice of opening your senses mindfully to the sights, sounds, smells, touch and sensations of being immersed in a natural environment, reduces stress which in turn reduces inflammation and benefits the immune system.
In the graveyard at Glendalough, there is a remarkable celtic cross, carved from a single block of granite and said to date back to the 5th or 6th century. The celtic cross is the symbol which most expresses my roots, my connection to the ancients. For Patrick in his wisdom chose this cross to encourage the transition from the old to the new, blending the new Christian message of the son of God with the reverence held for the sun by the learned Druids who were the doctors, scientists and spiritual leaders of the time. The Christian cross overlays the sun circle.
Standing here for a few minutes I give thanks in the way Patrick did and in the way those who came long before him expressed their reverence and gratitude for the bounties of nature. I give thanks for the renewed flow of life-force which this spring day delivers within me, before me, behind me, beneath me, above me, on my right, on my left, and of course always within my heart.
This year, our schools have been closed and people have beeen asked to work from home if they can at all. As I write, gatherings of more than 100 people in closed spaces and 500 outdoors have been banned and our St. Patrick’s Day parades have been cancelled as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19, now a global pandemic.
In this year that saw such catastrophic damage by fire to the forests of the Amazon and in Australia as a result of climate change, it’s ironic that on the greenest day of the year – St. Patrick’s Day – we will see the pubs, streets and airports of the Emerald Isle all but empty.
And yet this year, what could be more apt than to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by literally returning to our roots. Remembering that whatever else, wherever we find ourselves throughout the globe, we are a people with a profound connection to nature.
Perhaps after all, this year may be the greenest Paddy’s day ever.
*(For more information on Forest Bathing please visit Deborah Mendes The Nature Connector here https://natureconnection.world/listing/deborah-mendes-the-nature-connector/ )
It's spring. The season of lightening-up and yet for most of us in this time of uncertainty, it feels like we're in the dark.
Like so many, I resisted the 'shop now....for everything!' panic but you know we can't blame others for panic buying. They are simply picking up on the pervasive energy.
A month ago, my theme for Living Magically in 2020 was ENERGY. My post said -
'You are responsible for the energy you bring to this space.'
And it also said -
'You are responsible for the energy you allow into this space.'
On-going news bulletins with numbers rolling in red banner headlines, social media scare posts, message sharing from 'specialists' etc. This energy in our space infects us with its fear and panic. And the one thing we have control over is that we can choose to allow it or not.
This morning I made a decision. I'm going to take all the good advice we've been given and I'm going to follow the guidelines of staying safe. But I will watch only one newscast a day.
The energy I choose to bring to this space is one of calm, nourishing, supportive service. We already know how to thrive. It's our first and most basic instinct and we have a powerful guidance system in our innate wisdom.
The one thing we know is that we need to protect our immune system because its strength is to protect us from disease and viruses. Yet being open to influences such as -
⚡️ Jumping thoughts
⚡️ Indecisive Action
⚡️ Every man/ woman for themselves
-are the very things that will cause a rise in the levels of the stress hormone in our body - a known contributor to compromising our immune system.
IS IT TIME TO SEE THE BLESSING IN DISGUISE?
Isn't it funny that at a time when we have never been more connected, the thing that will serve us best during this global health crisis is social distancing?
And of course a Wise & Ageless Goddess will see this as an opportunity to create her Sacred Space or her Sanctuary.
The next thing is to be clear on who you are.
Go to your space and light a candle. Take out a 'Sanctuary Space' notebook and write down all that you know yourself to be. Begin with the words 'I AM'.
Begin with what is absolute fact. I am a mother. I am a sister. I am a wife, etc. Continue with skills, qualifications, talents. I am a doctor, beautician, farmer, accountant. I am a writer, a nurturer, a poet, an artist, a baker, a grower, a reader, a healer, a decorator, a communicator etc. Take it further - I am wise, natural, strong, fulfilled, cherished, generous, spiritual, beautiful.
Don't worry about who's going to see this. It's for your eyes, heart and mind only.
Move on to owning what you love.
I love, good food, good company, mellow smooth jazz, Grace & Frankie and anything with Meryl Streep in it, creating flower arrangements, I love sunshine and open spaces, the woods, writing, rioja, reading, a glass of Rioja while reading, long walks in the woods, cooking a meal for good friends, travel, listening to Carol Dooley in the afternoon on Sunshine radio, a home spa treatment (no one's looking remember?)
Next you need to ask -
'In this time of uncertainty, what do I need to do first?'
💗 I need to spring clean my home
💗 declutter the cupboards
💗 nourish myself and my family
💗 make a schedule of how to spend my time
Continue with your own list.
Then ask yourself -
'What can I do for myself?'
I can eat well and sleep well, listen to music that makes me happy, talk to others, journal and meditate, breathe, get out in nature and walk, have plenty of play time and laughter.
You can also write down the things you'd love to do but have been putting off - The universe has provided you with the time you never have!
✨ Write the book
✨ Learn to draw*
✨ Knit the sweater
✨ Paint the kitchen
✨ Decorate your Sacred Space
✨ Make your garden great again.
Now ask what you can do for others.
You can -
- stay well myself
- share my store cupboard
- offer to shop or cook for elderly neighbours
- meet up to walk in open spaces
- write letters and make phone calls to people you haven't been in touch with for ages.
The next step is very important otherwise the time will fritter away.
Once you've decided what to do you must write it into a schedule otherwise these are just ideas. Scheduling creates intention and that powers action.
What will happen?
It is now that we can say I'm not sure what will happen as this pandemic unfolds. But I am sure about how I will manage this time of uncertainty for myself and my family.
It's spring, the time of returning light - and we will grow.
Like to spend your sanctuary time doing one of my FREE Soulful Self Care programmes. Contact me at www.trinakeane.com/contact and I'll forward you the link to download.
Be well. 💗
* check out drawing classes on line and Alan Keane Art (☺️) for online drawing and art classes https://www.aka.ie/.
There is nothing to drive my family more crazy than when I say the words “Did I ever tell you about the time Patrick Swayze winked at me?”
The thing about this wink was that it was epic.
It was an acknowledgement of a magical conspiracy.
And there was more to it than meets the eye…..
A number of years ago when our kids were still quite young but old enough to take care of themselves for a few days, Alan and I decided to treat ourselves to a London trip.
I wanted to visit Kensington Palace and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Alan wanted to have dinner in Rules Restaurant and take in an Art Gallery or two.
And there was one other thing. I’d seen Patrick Swayze on TV and he was talking about about Dirty Dancing the show, coming to the West End. I didn’t catch all the interview but I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was going to see Patrick Swayze, my absolute hero, on stage on this trip to London.
I was only just getting the hang of online bookings and had managed the hotel, flights and train bookings but getting two tickets to see this legend couldn’t be too difficult could it?
I called on all my angels, dear departed loved ones, saints and the abundant universe to yield two tickets to see Patrick Swayze on stage in the West End on this upcoming trip.
I checked out tickets for Dirty Dancing and there were indeed two. I clicked all the right buttons and links and filled in all the requested information and pressed SUBMIT. Nothing happened. The little coloured wheel spun and spun and spun. Then a message appeared on screen - You Have Timed Out. I tried again, this time with two different seats and once again I had timed out as the slow speed internet of the day held up each purchase.
The next morning I set about the ticket hunt again. I tried another booking site and this time – oh boy, the ticket prices seemed to have jumped from £55 each to £95. And this time there were no two seats together.
I phoned Alan and I knew when he responded that he’d have been just as happy for me to book one seat but that’s not what he said. "Would you need to try another booking agent"? he asked. And once again, I went down into that hole that searching online leads to. Ever further down, down, down, following the thread, further and further until yessssss! It finally delivers what you’ve been searching for. At least that’s what you’re led to believe.
I was now looking at a booking website that was showing me the availability of two practically front row seats for the evening performance of Dirty Dancing. For £200 each!!!!
I phoned Alan.
I could hear the patience in his voice. "Trina check at the top of the screen that there’s a lock symbol." Indeed there was. Still good. We decided to go budget on the rest of our trip and purchase the ‘once in a lifetime’ tickets instead.
But just as I completed the form, I decided to check out the website and there I found complaint after complaint about double booking and rip off prices. And what’s more, when I went back into the site, the original tickets were no longer available but two even more expensive ones were. This wasn’t working out and I didn’t like the feeling that the ticket prices seemed to increase along with my desperation. It was time to take back control. It was time to let it go.
My prayer to see Patrick Swayze on stage in the West End was not to be. So be it.
Later that evening as I packed for our upcoming trip, Alan suggested we see a show anyway. We both love Musical Theatre and neither of us had seen Guys and Dolls, so we decided on that. Quickly and easily I found two tickets available at a reasonable price and I booked them. Easy peasy, nothing to it.
The following evening we had arrived in the heart of the West End. We enjoyed a plate of pasta and a glass of wine and set off for the theatre to collect our tickets at the booking office. Once in the theatre we followed the directions of the ushers and found ourselves with centre aisle seating, sixth row from the front. Fantastic seats with a clear view of the entire stage.
As we made ourselves comfortable and the lights went down, I breathed deeply and took a moment to savour the feeling of giving myself over to the pleasure of being transported by the performance ahead and deep appreciation for everyone involved in making it all possible. It was then I heard the words I will never forget.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, The Piccadilly Theatre is delighted to announce that the role of Nathan Detroit will from tonight be played by Mister Patrick Swayze."
Truly in my wildest dreams I could never have imagined a prayer so sweetly answered or the universe more perfectly aligned than this.
I was about to see the Patrick Swayze, on stage, in the West End – exactly as I had asked.
The show was wonderful and all my senses were filled to overflowing with appreciation of the wonderful talent and for the fabulous show and as the final song finished and the cast took their bow, I was catapulted by sheer joy, up out of my seat . It was then, at that very moment , that Patrick Swayze not six rows away from me, turned his head, looked me straight in the eye and gave me the most enormous wink. Applauding, grinning from ear to ear, I nodded my head in acknowledgement. I got it. ‘You see?’ said that wink. ‘We got here in the end’. Indeed we did - and I am forever grateful.
NOTE: I post this blog today as it came sharply to mind over the weekend when our beloved little companion Rocky passed on to the next world.
When I was growing up and at school in the 60’s and 70’s, the prospect of a school retreat was a most exciting affair. Of course they were religious retreats and involved a bit of prayer and breaking into groups of six to discuss ‘The Compassionate Heart’ or some such – but mine was a feather-head (or so I’d been told by many a stern-faced teacher) and these retreats were a place where I could unleash my curious soul allowing something within me rise up to explore the potential for a life that didn’t depend on the rigid structure of school - that place dedicated to achieving grades which deliver a career which secures a future and station in life thus guaranteeing happiness.
I wasn’t a rebel. Far from it. But from my earliest days I was convinced that happiness was an inside job.
I was a dreamy kid, not really religious but content with knowing that we are joined in this life to an unseen world and I embraced the rituals that were part of school and community life. I loved the arrival of May and would eagerly fill a vase with wallflowers picked from our front garden placing it on the May alter I had made in my bedroom. It held a little statue of the Blessed Virgin and a holy picture or two which we school children received every once in a while from the Bishop.
We’d been told we could talk to the saints in prayer but I preferred to have proper conversations. I’d ask ‘Mary-Mother-of-God’ questions each day and I hoped she’d divulge to me who really shot the sainted President John F. Kennedy or what kind of punishment did Hitler get for his terrible sins. One year I was very worried about poor Judas. How could Jesus fulfil his prophesy if Judas hadnt agreed to be the bad guy and betray him with a kiss in the garden of Gethsemane. However the question which preoccupied me most throughout my childhood was where do the animals go when they die. The Bible was very vague about dogs and cats and rabbits and things once the story about Noah and the Arc was out of the way.
Once a week, in the year leading up to our First Holy Communion my classroom at school was scrubbed clean, desks polished to a high shine and not a scrap of paper out of place in time to welcome the local clergyman whose task it was to prepare us for this most sacred of sacrements. We girls, hair brushed and neat as pins were the very model of virtue by the time the great man swept through the door. One of those days in particular will always stand out in my mind.
Father Dooley had just arrived and Sister Maria, our young teacher was neatening her habit pleats as she quietly took her seat at her desk. “As your priest,” said Father Dooley, “It is my job to explain to you what God wants you to know.” Perfect! I thought. I have something I want to know and this holy man can tell me. Before he could proceed any further, I waved my hand in the air and he turned smiling at me. “Father, do dogs and cats go to heaven?” I asked. The glint from the flash in Sister Maria’s eye slashed me from the far side of the room. Father Dooley took an enormous breath and seemed to grow by several feet. “Of course not.” he bellowed in response. “Havent I already told you that only those with the cleanest white souls can get through the gates of heaven. And dogs and cats do not have souls. Only the children of God have souls!!!"
Despite this loud and righteous response from the fine priest – it was something inside of me that registered loudest. A sensation that felt and sounded like the jarring claxon on a game show when a contestant gets the question wrong. NAH-HAH. WRONG!!!! As Father Dooley got his spiritual lesson underway, I pitied such clever and sincere people who had learned their catecism and bible so well but weren’t free to trust the wisdom of their own heart. They couldn’t dare to believe what I knew to be true. That of course all of God’s creatures go to heaven.
On that day, I couldn’t yet articulate it but I knew that although many learned and wise people will share their knowledge and experience of what they believe to be true, it’s only when a truth resonates positively within the depths of your being, you’ll recognise it as a pathway to your own sense of joy and purpose.
In his beautiful film, The Shift, the late Dr Wayne Dyer opens with a scene of him rising early and going quietly to his desk where he reads a short passage from a book and then moves into quiet meditation. His voice narrates this process which he would undertake every morning of his life. A kind of daily retreat where he would accesses the wisdom of his soul while connecting with Source.
Dr. Dyer (in the film), says that everyone has a destiny, a calling of the soul. Every bird, every tree, every person comes into the world with something it is destined to do or deliver to the world. “It is only we humans who tend to get confused and we slip into identifying ourselves with our outer symbols of success and achievement and loose touch with the extra-ordinaryness with which we were born.” Watching that film for the first time and hearing these words, I experienced a spiritual ah-ha! moment. I knew then that all living things other than we humans, can only be what they are. A daffodil does not try to be a rose or a bird try to be a spider. Neither does each think the other is better than, or less important than itself. Of course there’s no issue of these going to heaven. For they are so pure they are already living expressions of the grace of God!
A few years back I experienced my own shift or calling of the soul. I was experiencing a number of the markers of the midlife transition - empty nest, the passing on of the parents of both my husband and myself, and of course the inevitable menopause. Overtime, life had got in the way of that early childhood conviction that I’d know the great truths of the universe when I’d hear them and that I could be anything at all in the world I wished to be. I had come across Dr Dyer’s film on Youtube and as I watched the story unfold I felt that sense of absolute truth that we are spiritual beings inhabiting the many bodies of our lifetime. Each of us through our lifetime have the possibility of inhabiting many forms, that of a child, a teenager, a young mother, a mature woman - and here I was transitioning once again. I have since come to know that it’s no accident that as a woman moves beyond her reproductive years she inhabits the body of a Wise & Ageless Goddess who begins to understand her powerful connectedness to Source, the Universe, the Divine or God.
My spirit was here to experience an extraordinary life and it was time to return and reclaim the wholeness with which I was born.
The poet T.S. Eliot said, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” I was arriving at where I started.
Since then I, like Wayne Dyer and many others all over the world, set about preparing a ritual of early morning retreat. A little journalling, some affirmations and expressions of gratitude, a short meditation etc. and bit by bit over time, I was learning to pay attention to the inner wisdom and spiritual connection which every day opens or points to the pathway of the endless potential of all of God’s creatures. And in this I found a healing connectedness to every living thing.
Over the years I have been the proud owner/ parent of many waggy-tailed companions who’ve shared my world and when I return to the spiritual realms, I very much look forward to watching them run freely through sunlit meadows, ears flapping behind them in the way they would when they’d stick their head out of a moving car window. I’m looking forward to meeting up with Father Dooley again and I’ll thank him for his wisdom that day in the school classroom as it woke a desire to remain curious on my own spiritual quest. I may also ask him a very cheeky question and risk causing him to blush. How had he reacted as he reached the pearly gates and found himself sharing the queue with none other than the presbytery cat!
On the 31st of October (Halloween in fact!) four years ago, a psychic redhead named Dots McGuire handed me a parcel and said "Open it. Your magical life awaits."
Let me take you back……….
…to an ordinary, everyday, average kind of day. At lunchtime I punched cappuccino on the coffee-to-go vending machine and grabbed a cellophane sandwich from the chill cabinet in a busy city newsagent. I played a couple of games on my smartphone while I made my lunch disappear.
….as I drove through evening traffic, I felt the familiar pinching of my jeans about my waist and wondered if I'd anything more comfortable in the fresh laundry basket to climb into when I got home.
And that reminded me.
I'd better get a bottle of Rioja and spend the evening with the ironing. I comforted myself that a glass or two of wine and a few episodes of ‘The Good Wife’ would see me through the hours of being a good wife.
It was as I stopped at traffic lights that the funny little psychic redheaded nurse made her re-appearance.
Dots McGuire was back!
Oh how I adored this character I had dreamed up for the 'musical' I'd been writing for..... how long? I didn't write everyday. Or even every weekend. It was months sometimes before I'd take out the pages of my script for 'Come Back To Stay' and allowed the characters play themselves onto the pages. I'd tell myself that I’d
finish it One Day when .......
I'll write it once I ..............
I'll just finish this first, then I can ............
Now it dawned on me with a shock that it had been five years since the quirky Dots first muscled her way into a starring role in my story.
Always it was 'One Day' wasn't it?
Boy was that day going to be a very full day indeed. But in the meantime we say -
"I'll bide my time. I'll just fall in / pass through / put in the hours like everyone else and get on with my life. Not a unique life, just an average one - following the lead and playing it safe."
In truth I was tired, all-out in fact and the well worn path through the comfort zone was soooo easy. I'd let every day drift by, each just like the one before it and the one following it.
And that's when Dots McGuire came back! Flashing her fiery red hair and yelling "When are you going to get out of your dozy head and start living your life?"
Now you might think this strange, but my response to her - was to respond to her.
These characters in my musical script were my joy.
Within the words they spoke were my words.
Their voice was my voice, my vision and my story.
And now here was my Dots McGuire asking me when I was going to start living my life!
I thought I'd pacify her. Maybe Christmastime I'll have a few days…
"That's not going to happen miss so-called writer" she snapped.
I did mention she's psychic didn't I?
Jesus, I thought. I'm never going to do this am I? I'm going to spend my whole life saying (sarcastic voice here) “I'm writing a musical about a supernatural episode that brings together the eurovision song contest and a star of the Irish showband scene. And 'one day' I'm going to finish it!"
But the truth is, it was more likely that I'd depart this world with a few sad pages of handwritten script of a beautiful idea, filled with mad, wonderful characters that never broke loose from those pages. Now Dots McGuire, the orphaned, redheaded, psychic nurse will never get to save the day.
It was then that she handed me the parcel of magic.
"I predict something" she said. "I predict that at the end of the next thirty days you will have discovered how to find the 'One Day' in everyday."
Something shifted. Aligned. And settled home on its axis. As though the bodies of the idea in my head, the truth in my gut and the longing in my heart found their groove and slotted sweetly together . Suddenly, somehow, my ONE DAY had arrived.
And so, I did go home and I did stop off on the way to pick up a bottle of Rioja. And in fact, I did do the ironing. But instead of watching 'The Good Wife', I had a notebook and pen beside me and I made notes as all the delicious 'one day things' I promised myself I'd do, came to mind. For the gift inside the parcel that Dots McGuire had handed me was a gift of 30 days - the whole of November in fact, to step off the well worn track and to take one day at a time.
I gifted myself these precious days (for indeed we all know, don't we, that Dots speaks for me).
And guess what?
November was lush and mellow and blissful.
And by December 1st I felt flamin' freakin' gloriously fabulous!
So I packaged it up and wrapped it beautifully and renamed this gift November Bliss - 30 days of tenderness.
That halloween night was the beginning of the discovery of my own super-natural, magical life. I learned in the days that followed that each and every day had the potential to be the best day of my life. Now my 30 day programme (titled November Bliss - 30 days of soulful self nurture) is part of my Wise & Ageless Goddess guide to Living Magically and is available for everyone who wants to slow down and spend time on self care and tenderness. It can be done alone – or register to join the group November Bliss with Trina Keane here and we’ll bliss buddy together for a truly sweet November 2019 experience. (Some may choose to make it a NoVino November© although it’s not mandatory). Along with finding magic, I managed to change some tired old habits and even shed a half stone last year!
Oh and, I finished the musical! Where is it now? It's with the gods but I wouldn't worry about it.
Dots McGuire knows a magic spell or two..................
Two years ago I was visiting with my daughter in London. It was a hot September afternoon and as we sipped coffee in her sunny flat, we began to talk about when she would next come home to visit us in Dublin. It looked like it was going to be Christmas before we’d be together again that year.
“You know mum, I look forward to the” ……… and then it sounded like she said hug “I get everytime I come home.” My confused look promted her to explain. “It’s Hygge” she said. “My friend from Denmark says it’s a Danish expression for a kind of hearth-cosy comfort.”
Little did I know how much more I was going to hear about this word Hygge, pronounced like a combination of huge and hug ‘hue-gah’ the Danish way of living which is about atmosphere and experience rathar than about things or wealth. That Christmas the shelves in bookstores were full of cute little books teaching us all how to be Hygge.
I’ve come to the conclusion, in the time since then, that hygge is where the heart is. And isn’t it interesting that the words heart and hearth are so similar sounding and of course, we expect something similar from each – we expect warmth.
On that day in my daughter’s flat, her expression of ‘hearth-cosy comfort’ brought me back to that place where we go when we desire to frame something new, into something familiar - in this case, a Christmas of my childhood.
On Christmas mornings, my family would pack up our car and set off on what was a long journey in those days, to my Grandmother’s cottage in the country. We’d be wrapped up warm for the journey and whatever new toy or present which had arrived under the tree, would have pride of place on the seat beside us. At a particular point in the journey, my dad would suggest we search the distance for the lights of Granny’s cottage through the trees and the excitement as I spotted the smoke rise from her chimney, filled me with the absolute knowledge that we were welcome to this place.
To this day, we grandchildren talk of Granny’s hugs. They were enormous and as she wrapped you in her arms and held you to her bosom, there was no other more perfect place in the world. Then holding you away at arms length and cupping your chin in her hands, her beautiful soft brown eyes would scan your face as she satisfied herself that all was well. We felt precious indeed to her as she addressed us with the Irish term of affection, a stór, meaning ‘my treasure’.
It’s easy for me to slip into that scene again now as I remember how each of my senses were filled up with pure pleasure on those Chrsitmas day afternoons in the cottage. The enormous fire in the inglenook-like fireplace where boiling pots rested on the hearth and kettles hung from the hook over the flames. Oil lamps were glowing and candles lit and over by the window, the table was set and prepared for the feast to follow. As we waited for all to be ready, we children sat up close to the fire and petted ‘Silver’ the spaniel of the same colour who lay comfortably under the big sofa, nose curiously sniffing the air.
There was pleasure for me too in knowing my parents were enjoying being together and for a time, nothing to distract them from the world of everyday life - of work and home-making and mending and keeping our lives ticking over in their fashion. Here we simply bathed in the warmth of a family Christmas.
In the evening after we dozed by the fire, the table returned to its place by the wall, leftovers safely stored away, my aunts and uncles and cousins arrived bringing blasts of freezing air through the open door to cheer us wide awake and ready for merryment, laughter and good humoured banter. And this is where the real magic began…….
Pots of tea in festive tea-cosies would be left to brew and Granny’s Christmas cake proudly revealed and admired. And while small hands would steal the little silver balls from the cake decorations, adult eyes were busy finding a comfortable place to sit for the evening of song and storytelling which inevitably came to pass on an occasion such as this. Dad would pour stout and small whiskey chasers for the men and Mum offered to share her once-a-year babycham to aunties Sally and Gretta. Kitty, my Grandmother’s neighbour would call and take up the place reserved for honoured guests – beside the fireplace. No one questioned it. Kitty was old and we children suspected that she was actually a witch. Poor lady was old and she lived alone and that was enough in those days to give creedence to the suspicion.
We children, taking our new dolls and our dinky cars to the stairway, would place ourselves, one seated below the other down the steps, peeking through the banister rails while we carefully sipped lemonade and quietly opened sweets from their jewel coloured wrappers, never chewing or crunching and making each last forever.
In the flickering flame from the hearth and the soft glow of light from the oil lamps, I can still see the contentment sit comfortably on Granny’s face. He home and her heart filled with love - her treasure all around her. There were songs and recitations and recalling of loved ones long gone. A glass raised in memory and blessings sent forth until the time came to wish ‘God bless’ as the family began to ribbon back out into the night and my sister and I turned upward on the stair to the attic bedroom prepared for us above.
As we slid into the enormous, creaky bed, prewarmed by hot water bottles and a mountain of cosy blankets, my sister and I would murmer sleepy words of contentment to each other. And as we drifted off to sleep we knew without a shadow of doubt that within the thick walls of this ancient cottage, lay the centre of the universe. People came and they went and they shared stories and played music around the fire in the room below, but what we felt that night, was that no matter where we would go in the world or who we would give our hearts to, the feeling of warmth and belonging we felt as we snuggled down to sleep was the measure by which all other riches would forever be measured.
So what is hygge?
Hygge is where the heart and hearth is.
Hygge is when you are made to feel treasured.
Hygge is seeing those you love being shown love by those they love.
Hygge is a better understanding of who you are in the world no matter where you are in the world.
Hygge is created with words and warmth and affection.
Hygge is created when it tends to the comfort of all the senses.
Hygge is a feeling that you are treasure beyond measure and rich beyond your wildest dreams!
It’s blankets and flickering light, and hugs and snoozing and cake and shared festive cheer and chimneys through trees. It’s cousins and old neighbours and blasts of cold air as they come through the door. It’s loving eyes reflecting the sparkle of treasure they see before them…..
My daughter returns home to us for her Christmas visit this weekend. She’s looking forward to the hugs. At least I think that’s what she said. I think she said hugs………