Woo! First blog entry….so psyched!! Okay…so usually when I have been asked to write blogs it has been for other people, for websites, for promo and so on…sooo this idea of ‘write whatever I want’ is new to me so bare (do we use bare or bear for this??) with me!
Months ago I had intended to start a blog and vlog to talk about all the ways the reader/listener could improve their life, so I set up a Facebook page and made a bunch of ‘self-help’ videos and started editing them aaaaand found out that I sounded like an entitled gobshite who thought I had it all figured out, which I most definitely do not! Who was I to tell everyone how to move forward with their dreams when I was so freaking lost as to what I was going to do to start making enough money to pay for the fab kitchen getting put in this summer?! Self-help videos are AMAZING, as are many of the books, and I looooove listening to my coaching training videos but me? I am just about as put together as the wedding cake that falls apart in the van on the way to the reception! But life is fun and while I am currently researching the crap out of my business idea that may actually be the path I’ve been shying away from for the past year, I thought you might like to share the journey with me!
First and foremost…who the bloody hell am I? Well… we’re all figuring that out but here’s an insight as to me so far! My name is Sonia (woo! One answer I can always get right!), I live for theatre and drama and all things fabulous. This March my friend and I celebrated the 2nd birthday of our Theatre Production Company The Rabbit’s Riot Theatre Company (check us out because we are awesome) where we have been creating a tonne of amazing work about all sorts of topics that no one wants to talk about and creating stunning designs on a crazy tight budget. Also, I am obsessed with sewing, I love sewing costumes, dresses, cushion covers, princess dress, upcycling whatever I can find… Total sidetrack but…When I was doing my Junior Cert (GSCE’s for you UKers) I was determined to make this outfit but I was meant to be studying so mum confiscated the sewing machine so I would sneak out my sewing box whenever mum and dad were out of the house…#rebel… needless to say, the outfit was a disaster, rushed and made in sneaky 30 minute sessions and of course my mum found out…lol! Anyway, I love sewing. So when I became a grown up and had weird curves in weird places and had smart weddings and stuff to go to I found that all the ‘body-con’ dresses that I loved didn’t fit me in the right places, skater dresses were often too long (I’m a short-arse) and smart trousers? Forget it! Clothes shopping just became depressing (probably why my bag and shoe collection grew so monstrously, it was pretty insane at one point). I’ve never been large or skinny, just short with super narrow shoulders, a small bust and waist and a fabulous set of hips paired with a round bottom! But feeling frumpy and short (despite the crazy high heels) was a regular feeling and I couldn’t afford expensive luxury clothes so I took all the times I had watched my mum sew and create and started to teach myself how to sew clothes.
Number 1 rule: If you aren’t going to look for a solution, don’t waste your energy or my time complaining about it! Every problem is the opportunity to find a fabulously sparkly solution 😀
So I started ‘borrowing’ the college sewing machine until my sister bought me my very own IKEA sewing machine for Christmas, it has been the most used gift I have ever owned. Now my wardrobe actually fits me, and I can wear whatever I want! And if I see something I like online, I can create my own version of it and it is the beeest feeling ever when people compliment my dresses!
Fabric stores are pretty few and far between here but when I’m having a bad day it’s heaven browsing all the sparkly lace, shiny satin, dreamy silks, buttons…oh god the buttons and the beads and the ribbons and all the different trims! …the list can go on for a while. If happiness could be a place, a well stocked dress-making store would be it! And Mary at Crafters Basket has this covered…she has luxury madeby the angels! (#notsponsored but seriously she’s got fab stuff!)
So there you have it… theatre design fanatic, sewing junkie and the proud owner of bright orange hair! Pink is usually my go-to but it’s just so mainstream now 😉
So what’s up with the blog? Well…after much contemplation and literally all of my friends telling me to, my boyfriends mum, her friends and anyone who is unlucky enough to wear my mad costume designs and borrow them for nights out (Maresa my girl ;p) I am taking the plunge and currently designing my first collection of party dresses!! Some of your faves from my wardrobe are obviously making an appearance! Also… if you haven’t done my survey please please pleeeease do it or share it so I can get as much feedback as possible before launching my collection!
Sharing the craziness of this adventure with you seemed like way more fun than sounding like a pretentious prick telling y’all how I have got it all figured out! Real coaches are amazing…just not my calling!
Also…follow me on Facebook and Instagram (sonia_loves_happiness) to come along my journey with me as I start this crazy adventure!
In my last blog post Waking up to the Perfect Snowfall I wrote about how beautiful it would be if the world could work together to live in perfect harmony. Over the past few months I have been reminded that in order to work together to create the perfect snowfall, we must first accept ourselves and strive to be the best snowflake that we can conceivably be. Although always wanting to be a better version of myself, sometimes it can be far too easy to lose sight of who I am right now, accept my shortfalls, acknowledge my weaknesses and forgive my mistakes as I learn from them…knowing who I am right now is the only way to progress and learn but in forgetting these things it can become far too easy to start doubting myself, doubting the strengths that I DO possess, doubting my ability to achieve and a result I begin losing the battle to the daemons in my head. Every day I am faced with a choice, for months the choices have lead me down a path of exhaustion, misery, anxiety and ill temper but that can only go on as long as we are willing to forget that we can always change the path we are on, no matter how far down it we are.
Easter has just happened…whether you are ‘religious’ or not, Easter is a national holiday here in Ireland. Everyone comes home and it is, in many ways, a less expensive version of Christmas. If you work in the food industry expect to be working Easter Sunday because everyone who is not working that day will be out with the family for Easter Sunday lunch!
Although I do not consider myself a religious person, something about this Easter got me to sit down and write a blog post…something that I haven’t done in a while. When writing a blog post, I attempt to insert some sense of meaning, something possibly helpful or thoughtful that has been playing through my thoughts. They may not always make a whole pile of sense but, I suppose, there is some hope that the words will strike home with someone somewhere and that that person might find solace, knowledge, hope…something…in it. The past few months I haven’t written because honestly, it felt like I would be lying to any readers that I may have if I attempted to shed some hope or inspiration on the world because I have not been feeling inspired or hopeful about much recently. This is not meant to sound depressing, if anything it is the opposite! After all…I am now writing again!
This year I started with such hope and passion in things that I had hoped to create, to become, to achieve. I wanted to grow and develop, become a stronger, more resilient professional, while becoming stronger and more resilient in every other part of my being on a pathway to success. At every turn I have faced obstacles, the stress and upset in my professional life has leaked into my personal life, I’ve been distressed and agitated more often than not and my energy levels have all but been drained. So much of this year has been spent defending my professional value while simultaneously trying to figure out how to develop as a professional. When one wishes to improve but spends most of their time defending what they already are it begins to drain the will to develop and excel while leading to questions of doubt around who you even are.
This Easter we were asked to create an interactive Mad Hatters Tea Party for a local venue, I spent two days working on costumes before packing up the car and driving down to collect two of our cast members. Despite the challenges I have battled with myself (and with others) this year so far, I realised something while driving to our Mad Hatters Tea Party…it’s Easter Sunday, considered by many as the day of Resurrection. I realised that I have battled the demons in my head for years BUT, one way or another, I have always won the fight, why should now be any different? I realised that I do what I do because I love it and that is something I am not required to prove to anyone. I realised that if I want to become the best at what I do I will have to make sacrifices of comfort and start pushing myself harder than I have ever pushed before. I realised that the only person holding me back was myself, I had let my demons win for months, they were slowly eating away at my brain AND I HAD LET THEM! In that moment I made a decision, this Easter I would rise again, resurrect my love, my passion, my joy. This Easter I would be reborn and I would continue to fight for what I want, for a platform to serve others, for the love and kindness that the world deserves and for the life that allows me to do what I love.
When friends have come to me for advice over the years I have always told them that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to. I have always believed that through hard work, discipline, dedication, passion, faith and a belief in magic, we can achieve whatever we want, we can be a part of making the world a better place. Always, when a friend is beating themselves up I always tell them to talk to themselves as though they are a friend talking to a friend, because we are often kinder to the people we love than we are to ourselves. I realised that I was not following my own advice. This Easter I stopped and I thought ‘Sonia, what would you say to a friend?’. I would probably say ‘Fuck the haters, you are worth more, cut the crap, get out of bed and believe in yourself because you can ultimately achieve anything you set your mind to. Look at what you have achieved so far! Pick yourself up and keep going!’ And so I did, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and faced the week ahead with as much of the passion, kindness and determination as I could muster. It was going to be a tough week, I knew that, it was yet another battle of project planning and playing the hand that we had been dealt but I had a choice; I could face it pissed off, beaten and defeated or I could strap Duracell batteries to my back and bring the joy (thank you Brendon Burchard, I say ‘bring the joy’ a million times a day now!).
Was the week tough? Yes, absolutely. Did it exhaust me? One hundred percent, I missed the table quiz fundraiser on Friday night because I was asleep! Was I frustrated? Absolutely, but I got up early every morning, made breakfast and coffee, played my favourite songs, thanked the beautiful universe for the blessings of life, food, COFFEE and the stunning sunshine every morning and soaked up every bit of life that I could. This week, and the weeks ahead, will bring a tonne of new challenges, I know they will, I’m not tempting fate by saying that, I’m just very consciously aware of the ongoing professional battles that I am fighting but I HAVE to treat them all as training, preparation for something bigger that is coming, I have to bring the joy to every situation that I can and learn to control my frustration when I want to slap someone but take a deep breath instead.
My point is that no matter how much you might feel like you are drowning in the life that is surrounding you right now, no matter how lost you might find yourself, or how defeated you may feel, there is always a choice. Stop for a moment, take a deep breath and talk to yourself as though you are talking to a friend, if you wouldn’t know what to say to a friend then go talk to an actual friend! Sometimes all we need is some gentle words of encouragement and the decision to get up, dress up and show up NO MATTER WHAT. Show up for yourself every day. That is largely where I had got lost, I was trying to show up for everyone else, be the person everyone else needed me to be, put on all the hats that I thought I needed to wear and in the process I lost my way, lost my focus, started losing my battles with the demons in my head and forgot to bring the joy and gratitude to every day. I forgot to show up for me, for my values and my dreams.
This might just sound like another ‘self-help talk’ and maybe it is but if you have been waiting for an external sign that you need to get off your ass and stop making excuses for yourself, start showing up for yourself and start taking steps to become the best version of yourself…then this is it. Win the battle in your head, start following some inspirational figures on Instagram (Mel Robbins is one of my favourites!), make the decision to invest in yourself, set some achievable goals, start that night course, read that book, go for that walk, say yes to that social activity, get out of your bubble and start pushing your comfort zones. No one else will do it for you. It isn’t easy, some days will be tougher than others, some days you will feel on top of the world and others you will want to Netflix binge but challenge yourself and you will be shocked at how accomplished you feel when you start to break those niggly habits that hold you back.
How to get up:
1 – Alarm! I leave my alarm in the hallway so I have to walk the length of the house to turn it off! (Always set it early enough to have time for breakfast)
2 – Ritual! As soon as I turn off my alarm I go straight into the kitchen and boil the kettle for coffee
3 – EAT! So many people have said over the years that they ‘can’t eat breakfast’…it is the MOST IMPORTANT MEAL! Sometimes I have overnight oats prepped the night before, sometimes I have avocado on toast, sometimes it’s mashed bananas with coconut but I make it my business to have a good breakfast, sometimes it’s all I get in before dinner time.
4 – GET DRESSED!!! I spend a lot of time working from home so it can get super tempting to stay in pj’s all day! Even if it’s just sweatpants and a hoody, change out of your dressing gown and brush your hair…I feel like my life is together if I brush my hair! It’s all psychological but in pj’s we want to watch TV but in clothes we are more likely to be productive.
There are so many things that I try to bring into my days to keep me motivated, keep goals in focus and keep me moving forward but of all the daily rituals that get me started, no matter how insane my day is going to be, whether I am out all day with children’s camp, climbing scaffolding, sifting through a week’s worth of emails or just want to catch up on all the ironing and housework neglected as a result of a hectic work week, these 4 steps get me off to a good start.
Hopefully, if you have been in a battle with yourself recently these might help. Try things out, find what works for you and create your own rituals that help you get started each day. Your path is out there waiting for you, you owe it to yourself to show up and find it.
The power of your resurrection lies in you and you alone, strap on your Duracell and bring the joy!
Happy Easter ❤
(Also, go read High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard, it is a game changer!)
Last night I couldn’t sleep, I tossed and I turned and I counted sheep, I counted my breathes, held them and exhaled, I talked my way through my sleep meditation but all to no avail. Suddenly I realised that the room was bright, daytime bright, a rising sun creeping through the curtains bright. Out of bed I crept and down the passageway, the flagstone floor cold against my toasty soles, to the front door where the light switch for the outside light is. When I poked my head outside to see if the lights were definitely still on I was met with more brightness, but not the yellow light of the street lights, the white light of daytime! Flicking off the street lights (they were still on) I turned to see if it was dark again, nope…still bright as a fresh spring morning…except that it was 2.30am and the sky was still a shade of navy. It had snowed for the first time in almost 12 months, with a bright, shiny pendant moon hanging against a dark, inky backdrop, the moon was reflecting its rays like the sun on the ocean on a mid summer afternoon. The rest of the house was just as bright with the snow reflecting the moonlight into all the rooms, like the early hours of the morning. So I went back to bed, dug out my sleeping mask and eventually rocked myself to sleep. When the alarm went off at 6am I wondered if I had dreamt the 2am expedition to find the source of the light but sure enough, bright as ever, the snow had continued to fall and what a spectacular sight to see it was.
Growing up in Kenya, snow at Christmas didn’t exist. Christmas was spent on the veranda or under the branches of an acacia tree. My Grandad lived his entire adventurous life without ever seeing snow close enough to touch, the closest he got was the snow capped peaks of Mount Kenya as he ate his breakfast on the veranda. Although every place on earth has it’s own beauties, it’s own unique sense of place, it’s own sunset that is quite unlike anywhere else on earth there is something so incredibly pure yet ruthless about the snow. Perhaps it’s because snow was a novelty when I was growing up. When we came to visit my family in Ireland, on the rare occasion that it was…my poor superhuman of a mother dragging three unimpressed, grumpy, cranky children half way across the world…we would pray for snow at Christmas.
I will never forget my first snowfall. We were staying in a cottage, not far from my grandparents house, it was small and quaint with lino floors and probably decorated in the 70’s but cosy with a 2 foot Christmas tree made of tinsel that my Granny had found to decorate the house a little for us. We woke up one morning and there it was…pure, beautiful, untouched…like the icing on the Christmas cakes we would see in mums magazines. We had only ever seen snow in films about America…and even those were few and far between. We pulled on our winter coats and bolted for the door! Mum, ever tuned into our shenanigans, stopped us before we got to it. Socks were layered on, jumpers were layered on, plastic bags tied up to our knees inside our wellies just in case any snow got over the top of them and out into the freezing, crispy air as our feet crunched through the glorious snow. I definitely underestimated how cold it was going to be…it soaked through my gloves and soon enough I was back in by the fire admiring the snows’ beauty from behind the safety of the sitting room window. That winter I went for a walk with my aunt along the promenade, the cottage was beside the sea our grandparents, aunts and uncle would take us for walks down to the beach to give our mother a quiet break. I can’t remember what we talked about but I remember sitting on one of the benches on the prom, looking out across the bay (or what we could see of it through the early evening fog) and my aunt showing me how to make a snow ball. It’s one of those memories that sits in a magical box in my mind that comes out every now and again, the purity of a child’s excitement over something so small.
After that we didn’t see much snow, but now as a grown up it holds so much more meaning. Although harsh and dangerous, bringing life threatening challenges with it wherever it goes, there is something so beautiful and deadly about waking up to a world reshaped by just one striking colour, millions of trillions of unique individuals forming a blanket of fresh ice, waiting for someone, anyone to leave their mark.
When getting up this morning I watched a YouTube video (link to it is at the end of the blog!) by a friend of mine. She’s sweet and poised with a heart made of love and kindness, her smile is golden and she would brighten up anyone’s day. The video brought me to tears as she discussed the bullying that went on when she was a teenager in secondary school and going into college, the harsh and thoughtless words that were spoken, the mean comments that were made, the challenges that she faced when she thought she had finally built a strong enough wall of protection only to watch it come crumbling down all over again. The thing about walls is, when they fall down we can learn how to make them stronger, every time we face a challenge we become better equipped to work through it. In the video this friend addresses those who have been bullied but she also talks to those who are bullies. She points out how they are going to feel when they look back and realise the type of person they were and the shame they will one day feel, she reminds any victims of bullying that it is the bullies ‘lack of ability to be a sensitive and nice human being’ rather than the victims lack of ability.
Watching her video made me think about the snow, it made me think about how every snowflake is unique, every single one is as different as our finger prints are to each other and every single person on this planet is as unique as each snowflake. We are all different, we all have strengths and weaknesses, we all have different skills and abilities, we all have both light and darkness in us, in our lives, in our paths. I have no doubt that everyone has made decisions that they later learned from, that everyone has struggled with family or friends, that everyone has felt less than their worth at some point in their life but it is our job as humans, our mission on this planet, our undeniable purpose, to become a united front against the darkness in the world, to work together to protect the beautiful planet, to use our own unique skills and personalities to create a world that our children can be proud of. But we can only do that if we can allow each other to truly be ourselves, to nurture the love and kindness in each other, to celebrate each others successes and release all judgement just as we do not want to be judged.
It takes millions and trillions of snowflakes, each one unique, to create a blanket of pure snow, to reshape the landscape, to use the highs and lows of the landscape to create something new and beautiful. What if we worked together, like snowflakes, no judgement, no hatred or fear of peoples differences, just acceptance and love? What if we used that acceptance and love to create a fresh start, used our knowledge to help each other grow and celebrate how unique and incredible everyone is? In her vlog, my friend talks about the importance of being yourself, accepting who you are and accepting others for everything that they are. In a world where so much has been achieved despite the differences in humanity, can you imagine a world where we worked together to build bridges and learn from each other instead of building walls and expressing hatred towards the unknown?
Growing up we were raised in a very Evangelical Christian family, we went to Christian camps, learned verses of the bible off by heart and were told that Christianity was the one true religion. We were told what to believe and so we believed it. As I grew up, and more in recent years, as I have begun to look at and question who I am as a person, how can we decide that someone’s beliefs are wrong just because they are different from ours? The more I learn about life, religion, beliefs, thought processes, emotions and identity the more I have to question humanities obsession with copy-cats. Everyone has to be like everyone else and if anyone is not like everyone else they become the subject of bullying or are surely on the pathway to becoming a social pariah. Why must we all be the same? From what I can tell, when man started to decide that ‘different = wrong’ that’s when the world began to turn on itself. If believing in a different faith makes it the ‘wrong faith’ or having a physical disability makes you the ‘wrong body type’ or having a different colour of skin makes you the ‘wrong social class’ or having a different sexual orientation than a ‘majority’ means you are attracted to the ‘wrong gender’ then where do we draw the line? Where do we stop deciding what can be right and wrong in a person and just accept and love people as they are? Surely humanity remembers when a certain Narcissist decided that humanity must all have blonde hair and blue eyes and almost wiped out an entire race of people? That didn’t go so well. By the nature of humanity each person is different and therefore two people will NEVER be the same. So many of these ‘traits’ are decided by birth, by genetics, by social circumstance, by an endless list of coincidences that a person had no control over whatsoever? And if there can be such a long list of what is ‘wrong’ then who can possibly be the ‘perfect’ human? Surely everyone who exists on the planet is ‘wrong’ in some way, shape or form according to society.
Can you imagine, for a moment, a colony of snowflakes where they all have a specific shade of blue in their genetic make-up deciding to wage war on the other colony of snowflakes because they have a silver streak through their genetic make-up? Silver are then forced to fight back to defend themselves against the Blue Snowflakes but this need to defend, protect and survive leads some of the Silver Snowflakes to fear and then to hate the Blue Snowflakes. The war of snowflakes ends up so convoluted with hatred, fear and terror that eventually no one really understands why they are at war…only that they are at war to survive. If that was the case we would never have a beautiful, crisp, fresh snowfall to wake up to. We would never experience the piece and tranquillity that comes with a heavy snowfall as sounds are absorbed, light is reflected and everything just becomes brighter, calmer and more mesmerizing.
If humans worked together like snowflakes, stopped questioning and condemning each others beliefs, started working together to share love and kindness, where there is war encouraging peace, a clean slate, a chance for friendship and bridges, where there is hunger sharing food, where there is hatred showing love and compassion. If we looked deep into the souls of the people who hurt us, look into the soul of the Blue Snowflake who started a war of hate, we would often find that there is a fear and hatred towards themselves that has resulted in the projection of hate towards the world. We are not born enemies, children are not born with a prejudice towards race or religion, humanity created prejudice, humanity decided that there was a right and wrong way to exist but humanity has forgotten that it is through these decisions that we have brought war, famine, hunger, sickness and death to our race and in doing so we have brought these on many other species as well. We often think that without humans the world would not survive, in fact it is quite the opposite. Without bees the world would not survive, without humanity the world would flourish and excel. Do we really want to keep being that race that the world could do without? Do we really want to continue to be the cancerous plague that is slowly killing the planet, or at least killing the planets ability to house humans? We take great pride in our homes, in our jobs, in our achievements but what would happen if we applied that same pride to the planet and treated each human as family? Wouldn’t the world just become the most incredible place? We have the chance to treat each other as equals, we have the choice to disregard the hatred being preached every day on the news, we have the choice to spread love and peace, build friendships and dissolve boarders, but it is a choice that must consciously be made.
Next time you find yourself judging another human, thinking an unkind thought about someone because of the way they look or dress or the colour of their skin, ask yourself why you think like that? Then think of you each as a snowflake, both beautiful, both unique, both incredibly blessed with love and kindness and the ability to change the world, create the snowfall and give our children a world of calm, tranquillity, brightness and love.
‘Did you really have a bad day or did you have a bad 5 minutes that you milked all day?’
I love that saying…it rang so true with me when I first heard it! There were so many times I would drive down to a rehearsal and get stuck behind so many incredibly slow drivers and I would be so frustrated by the time I got there that I would bring all my negative energy and complaining into rehearsals…and then I realised what I was doing and was furious with myself. Just because my journey to work had been frustrating did not mean I had any right to bring pointless complaining into a room full of wonderful people who, no doubt, have all their own shit going on yet are happy and excited to be in rehearsals.
Have you ever had one of those days, weeks or months (hopefully not years!) where everything just kept going wrong, shit kept landing in your lap, no matter what you did it wasn’t right, you seemed destined to get stuck behind every slow driver in the country, that the world was against you and that, sometimes, you would love to just disappear for a while and take a break from all the shit?
Allow me to let you in on a secret, everyone has felt like at least one of these things during at least one point in their lives, we’ve all felt at some point that the Universe is stacked against us.
We live in a world of fast-paced chaos. Although we try to be organised and leave the house on time, we plan everything out and think things through, sometimes everything can just feel like it’s all just too much. Does this mean that we are inadequate? Does it mean we should just stop and let someone else deal with the crazy shit? Does it mean we should give in to the niggly voices in our head that tell us that we just aren’t able and to ‘leave it to the experts’? Of course not! What it could mean is that we are letting our emotions run our daily routines for us. Everything we feel is a reaction to something, although we cannot always choose the actions that befall us we can ALWAYS choose our reaction to it.
For a long long time, I believed that it was just life to be ruled by my emotions, that my emotions would dictate what kind of a day I had. It was life and fate if I had a good day or a bad day and my emotions were just how I ‘processed’ what was happening. Then one day I woke up and realised that if I kept following the thought processes I was following, and kept feeling the way I was feeling, I would lead myself into an early grave. There are endless amounts of research to prove that we have control over our thoughts, our emotions and, consequently, our actions.
Now, although 100% still in the learning process, I have learned that we control our emotions, our reactions and how we experience our day to day schedule. Yes, sometimes it can feel like the world is weighing heavy on our shoulders but how do we react to that? Do we soak up the emotion and just let it be or do we react to that thought? The Me of the past, Past Self, would have soaked it up, Present Self knows better. Past Self would have sat and wallowed and taken a few days or weeks of thinking ‘things will get better in time’, Present Self knows that things get better when we take control and make them better.
We often hear stories of people who have achieved phenomenal things in their lives, the ‘rags to riches’ stories where the most unlikely people push through the most incredible challenges facing them. I often wonder, if I was in the same starting position, how would I do? How would I act? How would I think? Would I give in to the hand life had dealt me or would I be grateful for the breath in my lungs and a beating heart and work like I have never worked before? Honestly, I don’t know. So often when we hear these stories we have a strange habit of begrudging these people, assuming that they had some sort of ‘special luck’ befall them, that they must have sort of hidden super-power or perhaps the whole thing is just made up. Well…one thing is for sure, they don’t have incredible superpowers, and I believe that we make our own luck. Begrudging others and what others have is a sure-fire way of bringing yourself bad luck, what we put out into the world will come back on us ten-fold so why would we put negative thoughts out there?
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘the more you are grateful for, the more you will have to be grateful for’? Honestly, I have no idea who coined this phrase or how far back this form of thinking goes but one thing I know for sure is that when we focus on all the horrific and challenging things happening in our lives and all around us, when we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by the obstacles and difficulties and let our emotions control every reaction to every negative… we will find little to be grateful for and the odds can feel stacked against us. When the world feels against us, it can be so, so hard to find a reason to keep moving forward because nothing will work out anyway.
However, when we focus on the beautiful things in life that we can be grateful for, the roof over our head, the friends we choose to have, the rain for watering the plants, the sun for the smiles it brings, even if it’s as simple as being granted another day of life when we wake up, our minds get into a wonderful habit of looking for the good, the possibilities and opportunities rather than focusing on the obstacles that may appear to be in our way. It might sound ridiculous, I know. There have been many times in my short life where I have felt like the world was against me and I just kept struggling through, reacting emotionally, focusing on the obstacles rather than looking for the solution, allowing the world to dictate what happened each day…but a part of me has always put my head down and worked, kept moving forward, working towards goals and keeping a smile on my face because do you know what? If we smile often enough we eventually begin to believe that smile. Through the ‘trauma’ of being a teenager, moving across the world, having our lives turned upside down, I built a facade of positive bubbles, a facade I could hide behind when I didn’t want people knowing what was really going on in my head and a facade that eventually was broken down as I eventually realised that I couldn’t hide from myself.
I think, to an extent, we all do that. We all build a façade that we hide behind but the problem with building a façade, although there are times when we may need it, is that we get so used to hiding behind a facade of ‘everything is fine’ that we can forget that a facade is what it is. We can hide behind our walls of smiles and act as though everything is ok, because not everyone we interact with needs to know what’s going on behind the walls, but we have to be honest with ourselves along the way too and remember that what goes on in our head is what is really important.
Life can be tough, life can throw curveballs at us that can take a while to adapt to, life can be a freaking bitch…let’s be honest! But it’s like that for everyone. Let’s go back to the ‘rags to riches’ stories, they weren’t super humans or blessed with incredible luck, they had often been dealt the toughest cards…tougher than many of us have been dealt! But they took control of their thoughts, their emotions and their actions. They made life work for them, against all the odds, their hard work, positive thought process and discipline paid off…they overcame their obstacles, they worked through the challenges, they took the bull by the horns and won the fight. Did they have a ball of a time doing it? Probably not. Did they doubt themselves? Probably often. Did they give in to the doubt? Possibly but they always got back on the horse. Their facade was not going to get them through…because they had to face up to the facts that life had taken a tough turn and pretending to smile at it would not fix it. They had a decision to make, they could stay as they were or they could find out what they were truly made of.
It always astounds me what humans are capable when they put their mind to it. All over the internet at the moment people are posting their 10 year challenges, what they looked like then and what they look like now but that is just the surface. 10 years have changed me, I have loved, I have lost, I have faced challenges that I never thought I would have to face, I have grown and built and continue to do both. Some of the change happened without intention…the first half of the decade just happened but the second half? The second half of this past decade I learned about intent, I learned about free will and choice, I learned about the control (or lack thereof) of my thoughts and emotions, I have grown mentally, physically and spiritually and there have been knock-backs at every turn but the stronger you are and the more you challenge yourself, the stronger you will become. Would I change any of it? No, it was all written in the stars and without the toughest challenges I would not be the warrior that I am today.
Today I look at life differently, my thoughts are changing and developing every day.
I haven’t got every day figured out, not by a long stretch. I wake up some mornings excited for the day ahead, prepared for the week and ready to take on the world, other mornings I wake up and want to stay there because there is a pile of crap waiting for me. Life can be tough, that’s kind of the whole point, it tests us, it tests our willpower, our willingness to learn and gro. The Universe wants us to be the strongest and most powerful version of ourselves but we can only do that if we keep growing mentally, physically and spiritually. Rocks will get thrown at us, that is an inevitable fact of life but we can choose to be buried by them OR we can use them to build our empire.
‘Two mice fell into a bucket of cream, one struggled for a while and then gave up and drowned. The other mouse continued to struggle until he churned the cream into butter and walked out…which mouse are you?’
Approach every day with the affirmation that you can and will find a solution to every challenge that you are faced with, know that your thoughts control you, your reactions and your emotions so choose your thoughts carefully and find gratitude in even the smallest and simplest things for the more you are grateful for, the more you will be blessed and the more you will have to be grateful for. It’s the Law of the Universe.
Happy New Year to each and every one of you! May it be a year of growth, love, peace and change in all the best possible ways!
How is everyone settling into 2019? It always feels rather odd writing new figures down when booking dates for things…this is the first year that I haven’t spent the first week writing the wrong year each time! I think that comes from running a business though…we’ve been writing ‘2019’ down for a few months now as we planned for the beginning of the year, but that does not mean it has been a chilled transition by any means!
For anyone who has found the first week a bit rocky…hang in there, you are nearly there! For any of you astronomers out there who haven’t quite realised that you can feel the energy shifting…the energy is shifting and the moon was doing weird things last week so that’s probably why you feel like crap BUT we are now officially in a new year! Christmas is a weird time…the rush, the mayhem, the crazy shoppers, the family get togethers…and then there is the New Year sing song, holding hands with people you barely know as you sing in the next faze of your life and give everyone hugs and kisses…and then there’s the New Years Resolutions that we’ve been making since we were old enough to make one: 1) learn to skateboard, 2) actually do my homework the day I get it, 3) study for 3 hours every day so I can get into college, 4) run for an hour every morning, 5) STOP EATING SUGAR! 6) Dry January… (lasted about 6 days in college!), 7) earn an actual salary 8) Travel the world and climb Everest! … I filled non of these…ever! January always started well but then life gets in the way, the gym membership gets paid every month and neeever gets used, ah sure one drink with the girls won’t hurt, my homework was NEVER done the day I got it (unless it was due the next day ha!) and for the record… I still don’t know how to skateboard! Maybe one day! I tried taking up running in 2017…got really good at it in the gym but driving the whole way to the gym just for a treadmill?? So I tried running outside but it was cold…and snowy…and running made me sweaty so I couldn’t wear too many layers but getting cold resulted in a kidney infection and antibiotics and bed for a week sooo… not for me! College I did manage to get into but I have a sporadic personality so one day I could study for four hours and the next day I would just doodle for four hours. Sugar has always won… I tried, like I really really reeeeeeally tried, last year I did pretty well over the summer but I was on a Slimfast diet and if I was giving up my elaborate dinners for shakes I wasn’t about to waste that effort and gorge on sugar! Sugar is still a beautiful part of my life…in moderation of course! Ya…one year I was determined that Dad and I were going to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya and then work our way to Everest, the closest I got was visiting my Granny who lives in the foothills of Mt Kenya where we could see the snowcapped peak from her veranda! That was close enough for me!
Although I have endless amounts of respect for people who manage to maintain their ‘New Years Resolutions’ I have never been one of those people. Setting goals and achieveing them is one thing…I teach goal setting and action plans to students so I SHOULD know how to do that (and follow through LOL!) and I smash goals all the time along with my business Girl Boss, we whoop the ass of every goal we set and then some but NYR’s I just cannot get my head around them. Always and forever, as far back as I can remember, I have not enjoyed being like anyone else or being ‘part of the crowd’, it’s never been an enjoyable experience for me…and I am an Aries through and through! Bull headed, hot headed and fiercely passionate…but on my own terms. So NYR’s are on everyone else’s terms, someone somewhere said that they should become and thing and now they are a thing and as long as I have tried (and I have triiiiied!) to go along with the generally global time frame of NYR’s I have consistently, almost admirable, failed.
So, as the last qaurter of 2018 was taking over my life and work was going bananas and awful things were happening and wonderful things were happening and pendulum of balance was sending me flying off the trampoline with such a wonderful high just to come crashing back down with such force the canvas might break, my mind occasionally wondered into 2019 and what was waiting for me on the other side of that midnight chime and awkward hugging. Often what we do when wondering about the future is to hope that it will be better than the present but then do nothing about the present in order to make the future better and in the end we blame our past selves for our shitty present and the circle continues. Now, in 2017 I learned that this circle of shitty now and shitty later and crazy pendulums must be levelled out by a gradual process of choices…but here I was October 2018 having disregarded EVERYTHING I learned in 2017 and blaming shitty past self for shitty present self and so predicting a shitty future self to find itself in the exact same predicament! “NYR’s are going to change this for me,” I thought to myself…then laughed as I thought of every other failed NYR over my lifetime and scolded myself for letting all my hard work in 2017 become yet another of those unfulfilled, somewhat failed, goals of ‘self improvement’ ‘stress management’ ‘smart choices’ ‘positive self talk’ etc, etc, etc. And then scolded myself for scolding myself becasue that is regarded as negative self-talk and was not going to help the situation!
I needed a plan…a plan that was most DEFINITELY going to reduce future self’s stress levels and that future self would be thanking present self for rather than scolding present self and every self would be a lot happier… I looked around, the world was making me sad, articles of the global plastic problem and species going extinct and fish dying suddenly decided to jump onto the tramploine and start throwing the pendulum out of swing! Why could I not just focus on one daft thing at a time instead of freaking out that the world was going to die and the turtles were going to go extinct because my re-usable coffee cub broke and I was back to using single use coffee cups… I was tired, stressed, way happy when I was happy and seriously thick with myself when I was sad and now I was killing all the damn turtles!! FFS!! I needed a new cup… I needed a cup and then the turtles would be ok…so I bought a cup and felt better. Still needed a POA for future self though… why was I so bouncy??!! What would past self, who seemed to have her shit way more together, do? Past self would meditate and have a nice long yoga session and chill the F out… NO TIME! Sleep was being scheduled and God if I fell asleep driving becasue I had to make time for meditation I would be pissed with Karma (can one be pissed with Karma?).
Ok… So… Turtles have been saved, coffee addiction getting worse and NYR destined to fail. Well, I was still alive and was managing to muddle through so my solution? Sure just keep going, get to Christmas then figure everything else out! 11 days before Christmas present self is SCREAMING at past self… “WHY THE F DIDN’T YOU START MEDITATING! SICK, TIRED, LOST MY VOICE, PASSED OUT BETWEEN SHOWS AND YOU COULD HAVE PREVENTED THIS!!” New goal: stay alive until Christmas Eve then sleep…alot…
Lots of sleep, a few drinks on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and I feel the need to make a plan… New Years Eve is only a few days away and anything started on the 1st of January is DESTINED to fail. Present Self has a solution! Start now…no time like the present! Present Self wants to set a goal, do something that future self will thank you for not scream at you for while dying of the flu, still working and on the brink of collapse. Past Self begs for change because future self will not survive what past self endured… so 2017 self gets involved and helps set a goal! Short term, manageable, achieveable and vitaly important for the success of 2019 (and to process the insane roller-coaster, trampoline, Takashi Castle emotional obstacle coarse that was 2018)… start in 2018 so teeeechnically it isn’t a NYR! Yaaaaaay!! So 5 days before New Years I did 30 minutes of Yoga and meditation as the 1st day of a 30 day challenge. I now am on day 15, half way through, the 30 day self-care challenge! Whoop!! Future self will be singing the praises of present self as we make better choices, enjoy life more and face every challenge with a calmer head than 2018.
Weird thought though… all this meditation and yoga has me re-aligning my chakras and reconnecting with nature and the universe (some may call this gobbledeegook but if it helps me stay grounded and gives me a greater good to feel connected to then no harm done) so I looked up my horoscope, just for a browse… when I discovered how much of a text book Aries I was a few years ago I’ve gradually started to question this whole ‘written in the stars’ way of thinking… According to my Horoscope this year is to be a year of learning, teaching, writing, growth, adventure and beliefs… a movement in everything I’ve been hoping to fill this year with is written in the stars and I just have to go out and get it!
With all the chaos that comes with the end of a year it is often balanced with reflection at the start of the next. Reflection, harvesting the lessons and skills, showing grattitude and humility for the incredible blessings and creating a path through which we can move forward, being ever present as well look to the future. Regardless of whether you read your horoscope, believe in a God, live a religion or are just mosying along trying to do your best, remember, always do something today that your future self will thank you for, do something that makes you happy, that takes a step towards finding your destiny, living your purpose or just putting a smile on your face…because without our present self feeling happiness, peace and excitement…what are we doing here?
Challenge for 2019:
Find your Happy Place, make time for your Happy Place and live for the blessings that will flow as you acknowledge and accept the beauty that is Happiness and Peace ❤
Hey!! How is everyone?? It’s been a while since I posted and I super apologise…this will happen every now and again when our theatre obligations get craaaazy! Last month, with a local cafe, we pulled together and sold out our first ever Haunted House tour…in less than 4 weeks!! We have also had Panto rehearsals three days a week and we had our play ‘One of the Lads’ on (amazing story and if we ever bring it to a theatre near you, you MUST see it!) for two nights in October so it has been bananas! But we love every second of it!
Having not written anything for a while I hadn’t a clue what to write about. It’s been a manic few months and finding thinking time has actually been challenging! Every spare minute has been spent figuring out rehearsal schedules, solving the challenges of the Haunted House tour…and planning strategies for 2019 all while trying to get my tax returns in on time! Things have not stopped! But, they always say…write what you know…
So…what do I know??
Well…I know how to maintain strong, colourful, vibrant hair. It’s one of my most asked questions! Currently, my hair is bright pink (finally!) but I’ve been dying my hair crazy colours for over two years and I have got really good at keeping it in really good condition. Have you ever gone to a hairdresser with something particular in mind and you’ve let them talk you into something else because…well…they are the professional! But when you get home you wish you had gone with your original plan? Yes, I have!!!! We have all been there…we have all come out of the hairdressers at some point in our life and gone WTF??!! We might not have liked our idea either but sometimes trial and error through our own decisions is the best way to learn.
Well… my hair care has been developed over almost 3 years of trial and error. Finding the right brand of colour for your hair is only the start! Everyone’s locks are different and what works really well in one person’s hair might not work as well in another’s! Then there’s the bleach volume… some hairdressers will use a higher volume of bleach to bring up the colour faster and whiter but it’s also far more damaging to your hair! Always use a low volume, it may take longer but the results will be far better! It’s also super important to only bleach the roots, bleaching over old colour will damage your locks something crazy and might cause it to all fall out (this has actually happened to people!) and the remainder of any previous colours in your tips will add an extra dimension of the rainbow so win-win!!
But the secret to my luscious locks lies not only in the bleach volume but mostly in the daily routines; the washing, drying and brushing. My hair is usually in a plait or a half ponytail, sometimes also a bun. I touch it as little as possible to keep it from getting greasy too quickly if it does I use dry shampoo in the roots to give it an extra boost without washing it. Washing is important but can be brutal and strip your colour if done wrong! So I use luke-warm water, the shampoo and conditioners have been tried and tested to find the brands that best protect my colour and hair and I leave the shampoo on for as little time as possible, I want it clean but not stripped! Washing my hair is a ritual that happens every 5-6 days (unless I have an important event). Washing it every day is REALLY BAD for your hair and doesn’t allow your hair time to soak up all those natural oils that are there for a reason…and every shampoo will lift the lightest layer of colouring ergo the more you wash it, the faster it fades.
After washing, the next step is combing your hair. I brush with a wide tooth comb when it’s wet as combs are more gentle on wet hair than a brush, but a wide paddle brush is ideal for brushing out those tangles when it’s dry…just go gently! The last stage of the cleaning ritual is the blowdry. Now… a lot of people don’t like using a hairdryer for the protection of their hair, which I totally understand! But I live in Ireland and leaving the house with damp hair means a week of the flu! So I use argon oil heat protection (Vo5 also have a fab heat serum!). The heat setting on my hairdryer is on medium to get a good blast at my roots then turned down for the rest of my hair. Straighteners and curlers are only ever used for special occasions. Most people know that heat will damage your hair, leave it frizzy and broken, increase your split end count and generally leave your hair in crap condition but what most people don’t know is that heat also strips your colour… luke-warm water, low heat settings and no straighteners maintains my vibrant colours so I only touch up my colour every four months or so!
There was a time my hair was long and dark, I loved the length but it was in such a terrible condition that I ended up chopping it off into a bob to let it grow out healthy again. It was around that time that I saw a picture on Pinterest of a girl with long, beautiful pink hair and I wanted to have hair like hers. After years of trial and error and taking great care of my hair, I now LOVE it and it’s often a discussion point with new and old friends! Sure sometimes I wonder about chopping it all off…because it would probably be easier to maintain… but I never do, it’s valuable to me and I take great pride in keeping it looked after.
The other important secret to great hair is found in the body and the mind. The healthier your diet is and the happier your mind is the healthier your hair will grow. Similar to my trial and error hair care I’ve spent the past few years training a positive mind and learning about my food intake. Being physically healthy has never been my forte but reducing my deep fat fried food intake, reducing my sugar intake, increasing my greens/veg intake, increasing my water intake and choosing my snacks carefully is slowly becoming more and more of a habit…just like my hair, it is all in the daily routines.
This leads me to the other question people seem to ask me ALL THE TIME! ‘How do you keep going?’
Since Treasa and I started the Rabbits Riot Theatre Company we have produced 18 projects and the Pantomime this Christmas will make it 19, we started 2 years and 7 months ago. Amongst those are 2 festivals, outdoor site-specific pieces, interactive children’s theatre, re-tellings of famous tales, re-creating myths and legends, immersive theatre, one man shows, verbatim performances, pantomimes and now haunted houses…you name it we have probably done it (or something in the realm anyway!) while doing adult drama workshops and production workshops with Performing Arts Students along the way. All of our work is original, Treasa writes all of our scripts, we both direct, I design sets and costumes, Treasa is a marketing genius and for the first time, we are currently working with an outside producer as well! So ya…we keep ourselves very busy! But do you know what? No one ever became successful by sitting at home moaning. So we work hard, we hustle and we keep moving forward no matter what challenges we come up against (and there are a lot of those!) and we keep fighting for what we want, what we are worth and what we will one day become.
But the secret? We have spent the past few years (around the same time I started colouring my hair, coincidentally!) learning what works, what doesn’t work. We have gone through so many trials and errors that I lost count a long time ago. So many people question whether all of our grinds are worth it, the late nights, the stress, the scheduled sleeping hours, the planning, the meetings and the difficult people, difficult situations, fighting for what we have worked to built, the setbacks, the losses, the tears, the injuries, the occasional antibiotics as we crash every now and again… But nothing on this earth can compare to the smiling faces of children and grown-ups on stage in costume, the excitement and chaos backstage, the stomach aches of laughter in rehearsals as Prince Charming gets hit on by an unusual character, the overwhelming emotions that fill our auditoriums as we tackle alcoholism, mental health and tell the true stories of revenge-porn survivors, the hugs of strength, gratitude and humility from collaborators as we give voices to those who struggle to be heard, the excitement and awe of audiences as we create magic in places no one thought possible and the family we have begun to build with the most generous, big-hearted people who have taught me so much about life.
This is why we do what we do… sometimes we want to chop it all off into a bob, sometimes it can be so overwhelming that I think I might explode! But then I look at all we have done when so many thought it wasn’t possible and I keep moving forward.
It’s the small things, the day to day care, that makes life manageable. It’s the trials and errors as we find the best ways to do things, the patience as we accidentally strip the colour because we trusted a professional who didn’t understand our needs, its remembering that sometimes a straightener is worth the risk but that we need the regular support of the cool setting hairdryer, learning when to adapt to a wide toothed comb or a paddle brush and using all past mistakes to ALWAYS remember the heat protection.
The ability to keep going when things get crazy is in the day to day habits that we have learned over time, it’s in the vitamins I remember to take, the healthy eating habits I have come to love, the mental health habits, the positive affirmations we repeat over and over again when faced with a challenge and faith…faith that no matter what, we will endure.
Have patience with yourself. I did not wake up one morning with long, beautiful, unicorn locks. It has taken years of product testing, trial, error, hilarious disasters and lots and lots of patience to have well nourished, loved and cared for, unicorn hair. When we allow ourselves to learn from mistakes and keep moving forward despite the challenges, that is when we truly begin to see the possibility of what we are capable of.