As the earth has spun its annual pirouette, the days have brought topsy and turvy, and indeed, interesting times. This year, more than previous ones, I feel I have lived a few years in one, for there has been much change and movement, learning, loss, pain and the tipping balance to gain again. Between it all, I write a statement of gratitude in my heart for all that has come my way, and all that I thought would come but didn’t. There are lessons in it all.
Towards the end of each year, I like to do a review of the months past to help me prospect into the year ahead. My word for last year was ‘Embrace’, and looking back now there was indeed lots of embracing of new opportunities which came my way, while simultaneously learning to let go of expectations or outcomes. Here are some of the highlights….
2014 started, deep in storm, on the wilds of West Achill. I had just returned from a few months in Greece. The New Year brought a sense of unknowing- were would I live, and where to next? As the clock rung midnight, we rang in the year with a marching band and a parade under the night sky. In times of unknowing, the rituals of marking time, together, brings a sense of ease. The answers started to unravel themselves as the weather passed. Sometimes there needs to be a wild storm for a clearing…
January followed, with me moving from sofa to sofa in search of a landing spot. This came later that month, right in the heart of Dublin. January also presented a cello to me, and cello lessons, and the opportunity to join a community orchestra. Thus opened a whole new experience of learning to read music from scratch and just a few months later, bringing me to my first concert performance. The close of January brought me back to Greece for some Art of Participatory Leadership training. It was an opportunity to learn new skills and connect with a wider community of people who are interested in these new methods and skills for social change facilitation.
February provided a working space in the wonderful Fumbally Exchange, connecting me to another new community of people and some inspiring entrepreneurs. I loved the connections, and while I don’t have the desk at the moment, I also love the continued networks and friendships which it helped to foster (I wrote about the Fumbally here).
In March, ‘We Need to Talk about Ireland’ was beamed across the globe, in a whirlwind of intense Trailblaze activity. The videos are still out in the world. You can view the full event here. And Myles O’Reilly from Arbutus Years also created his own film from the night which is here.
March also saw visits to the School of Life in London and to Hazelwood House in Devon, which was to spark another train of activity…
April brought another Be Retreat, which I hosted under sunny spring skies alongside my friend Jenny. There were also a few photo and interview trips to Northern Ireland, a weekend in the beautiful west of Ireland, and a week of photographing a friend’s community farm in Austria.
In May, I made my way to Bosnia, for an intense and powerful journey which I am still processing and experiencing inwardly. It gave me a whole other level of appreciation of life in the full spectrum of dark to light. There are many stories from that time which I still have to unpack- they seem to be a waiting in me for the right time to do so. But the stories and the memories are there, and I take pause to remember them and give honour to the amazing people who shared them with me. You can view more photos from my journey here.
In June, there was my first cello concert, and a weekend at the colourful and beautiful Body and Soul festival and a wonderful camping trip to visit friends in West Kerry- picnics and oceans swims in full flare.
In July I packed my bags again to move house, with the intention of moving to the UK, but the winds of change blew strong, and a little health scare brought me instead into hospital for some tests. There followed some months of uncertainty, further tests, change, and a realization that Ireland really is home. (Just last week I got the final all clear- so all is good and I have a renewed appreciation for health and home).
In July my family and I also commemorated my father’s ten year anniversary, remembering his special, loving and wonderful ways. I wrote about him here, and many of you commented on how much you enjoyed reading about him. As ever, thank you Jimmy!
I then headed to Greece to host a yoga retreat and a learning gathering at Axladista, a learning space, olive farm and home of my friend Maria Scordialos. The gathering brought together a whole range of practicioners- from an environmentalist, a monk, a dancer and social activists, asking questions about what is the learning which is needed for this time. There was a lot of discussion about Rites of Passage and eldership, while also having lots of time for swims in the wild ocean!
August was a month of returning (via a short trip to Italy) to the old house I used to live in, and to life in Dublin. I painted my walls and hung art. It was a time of nesting and planning more yoga classes and events.
September brought me back to cello, and teaching and figuring out my plans. In October, there was a Trailblazery jaunt to Paris with Kathy Scott, and then in November, a little four legged creature came into my life, exploding it with love and endless delight. Finn has been a wonder. I also took up my pens and paintbrushes again, after nearly 20 years of not drawing. It felt great to be creating in such a way again and then there was the sale of my first drawing, which somehow felt significant. As the nights have drawing darker the urge to paint and draw has grown strong too. I am listening.
December has been hibernation, friends, community and Finn time. And I have taken up driving lessons again, determined this time to see it through…
And jotted through the months were hill walks, poetry nights, sea swims, photo shoots, lectures, facilitating workshops, teaching, meals with friends, yoga time, visits from friends around the world, and special days out with my niece and nephew.
We patch our days together and weave a life. When we look at a year of time we can see patterns and the shape of things, and you realize how much there is to be thankful for. I feel I have let a lot of things go this year, and not always done it all with grace or elegance but with intentionality and an effort to do things well. There are many elements that have shifted in my life, internally and externally and which continue to move and shake me. It has not all been easy but this is the way of learning and growth. This, I learn, is what embracing a life is about.
I would like to say a big thank you to all the people along the path this year who have journeyed with me- supporting me, challenging me, offering friendship, sofas, refuge, hugs and hope. And to Finn, of course, for her furry snuggles and endless tailwags of happiness.
I am blessed.
I am looking forward to seeing how 2015 unfolds and perhaps our paths will cross along the way.
Wishing you all love and peace of heart,
Thank you all- Clare xx