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A tale of serendipity in Dublin first featured on my Intuitive Vision Board

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I recently took a random call from a good friend with a random outcome.

Four days later I’m flying to Dublin for the weekend, all expenses paid, as a kind of tour guide!  I'm to discover the hidden gems of Fingal on the northern shores of Dublin during a music festival in honour of Séamus Ennis, a genius for his uilleann pipe playing. 

The craic
On arrival I am to be collected at the airport.  One hour later my male escorts had still not showed. That’s because they’d gone to departures! That's Irish right?
 
I was taken to nearby Skerries, a charming fishing village where I enjoyed my first taste of real Guinness in a fisherman's pub that has been looking out to sea forever.   I took a photo of the charming boats. I ask you. Do you see any resemblance to the image on my vision board I’d created 11 months earlier when a trip to Ireland was completely off my radar?  A lovely example of precognition.

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That’s my daughter there too if you’re wondering.  She plays her part in this mystery.  Back home when I’d contemplated this section of my vision board, Denmark kept coming to mind.  I’d even thought I might go to Copenhagen but hadn’t got around to it.  Celine, on the other hand, did - this summer! Not that she’d planned to do so when I’d pasted her up onto my board next to the colourful boats.  Curious isn't it?

It also transpires that Fingal is historically linked with Denmark because the Vikings decided to land here.  I also learnt from the Irish organiser she has a sister living in Denmark, and suggested I might visit her.  The plot thickens....   

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering where you might go next year, come and make a vision board with me on 25th November and all will be revealed.  I’ll show you how to side-step the conscious mind and engage with the unconscious through active imagination and access this extraordinary intelligence we all have but so seldom tap.

More 'Irishness' to follow....  
 After Skerries I was dropped outside my hotel to chill. At check-in the owner asks for my name but says the only reservation he has is for Mary and Jerry.  “I really don’t want to share with Jerry,” I said smiling, “I want my own room.” 

At this point it’s clear I’ve been dropped off at the wrong hotel - and this one is full. I then sit tight to wait for the men to return (2 ½ hours later) to take me out to dinner.  I kept myself entertained listening to the gorgeous Irish brogue and their wonderful sense of humour, while the owner plied me with drinks and snacks on the house. The meal that followed in an ancient pub was fresh and delicious.

Next day, I’m required for a family fun-run.  However my lift is late fetching me and by the time we arrive at the fun-run, everyone has run off and the school hall is empty.  The two of us decided to walk part of the course and pass the lead runners on their way back yet apparently I am still required to give away the prizes. 
 
‘It put the heart crossway in me to hear it’ as I’m introduced as “Mary, who has come all the way from the London Athletics club to support this event.” I look just about the least athletic among them, especially as I didn’t even manage to run the course.
 
We’re on the road again, destination Fourknocks.  This is awesome - a Neolithic site that predates Stonehenge, yet we’re the only people there.  The key to this ancient burial mound resides with Eileen down the road and if you don’t get on the right side of her, she won’t let you have it.  There’s no charge.  No supervision.  Just the four of us under the ground, marvelling at the abstract art painted on the interior walls 5,000 years ago.  

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Afternoon tea follows in a lovely artistic café.  Then to round it all off we’re at the music festival in the pub listening to pieces that Séamus Ennis would have been proud of.  A 15-piece band spanning five generations of musicians, the youngest about eight.  

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When my hostess finally left me at the airport (she didn’t entrust this to men this time), my flight is cancelled due to fog.  No more flights that day so Aer Lingus kindly put me up in a comfortable hotel and treated me to a splendid dinner.
 And since I had to wait 12 hours before I could fly home, I’m also due a £200 refund too.  I think I should invest this in a flight to Copenhagen don’t you - and follow the signs.

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Shed a skin and make a fisherman friend

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Shed a skin and make a fisherman's friend

Descending the causeway that declines steeply to the pebbled beach, I encounter the remains of Beer’s fishing fleet that still braces the sea every day. Past charming Lillie May, bearing the same name as my grandmother and about the same age too I imagine, I admire her colourful beach garden.  

I’m in Dorset here for a weekend of Sumara meditation and dance-movement in the landscape.  The plan is to spend the mornings in the studio awakening our bodies and preparing them to move outdoors in less familiar terrains.  We round off the day seated in meditation.

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 I'm now toggled up in outdoor clothing expecting to roll, glide, slither, crawl over damp rocks revealed by the rapidly retreating shoreline.  The sun has already broken through the patchy clouds and the temperature is rising.  I reach for the zip of my jacket that’s sealed around my neckline and find it won’t budge an inch.  I’m trapped inside this waterproof, windproof skin and I've already broken into a sweat on the inside.  If this continues I’ll be throwing myself into the cold sea.

And then I remembered the fisherman … sitting outside his stone hut selling the catch of the day.  Surely he’d have a knife to cut me loose! 

As so it was Alan, captain of the fleet, who came to my rescue but using a large pair of scissors.  Quite an intimate operation it was.  And thankfully I was saved the large knife that removes the heads and tails of fishes and splits their guts open.  In all his years Alan admitted he'd never had to perform this procedure before and alas my jacket didn’t survive the surgery.

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Once liberated I join the rest of the group to crunch across the pebbled beach.  I gaze longingly at the tea drinkers sitting sedately under umbrellas in the afternoon sun, past Barbara Ann who’s hanging out with the bad boys having clearly thrown in her lot with the pirate boats.  Arriving at the far side of the beach, under cliffs strewn with fallen rocks worn smooth as a baby’s bottom, I drapes myself over a sugar loaf mountain wait for the moment when the urge to move arises from within, led by my body and not my head.

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At the tail end of the afternoon I wind through a verdant valley of wild flowers towards neighbouring Branscombe.  This village is enchanting and quintessentially English.  It would seem that thatched roof cottages be-speckled with flowers aren't just reserved for chocolate box covers.

I round off the day with Sumara, the Javanese meditation.  Nothing special about how I should to sit in the chair or on the floor - just not lying down.  Giving my body plenty of time to settle and come to stillness, feeling my weight drop down through my bones, supported by the chair.  I feel like I'm shedding a little more of life's debris. 

No need to follow my breath, a sound, or a mantra.  Thoughts and feelings come and go as I sit here like this for 45 minutes.  If I need to move, cough, mutter, shift position I do so.   My mind wants to dance me around but I reign it back in to where I am seated on the chair with my friends around me, accompanied by birdsong.  The ordinariness of this is completely luxurious. 

On the drive back to Beer I track a deer slowly down the lane until he finds a suitable gap in the hedge.  I then  encounter an out-of-control bonfire threatening to take the hedgerow with it. I summon a rather drunken homeowner from his deck chair and hope he'll succeed in extinguishing it with his pitchfork without falling into the firey inferno.  

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If you’ve yet to discover the rural delights of Jurassic East Devon I highly recommend you do so.  It’s the perfect place to make a fisherman friend and shed a skin or too.

 

 

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What everyone needs to know about the value of "NO!"

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What everyone needs to  know about the value of "NO!"

Have there been times in your life when you’re doing too many things out of a sense of duty only to find yourself over-burdened by the complexity of the juggling act you are performing?  Or perhaps someone else you know springs to mind?

Rather than be able to take these responsibilities in your stride and gain some fulfilment from them, there's a point where it all becomes too much.  Big chunks of life are consumed in this way if you’re not careful.  Don't I just know it!

Tangled up in blue
I went through a period like this once that lasted for five years.  I became very adept at putting my significant other's needs ahead of my own in order to maintain the status quo while my owns lay languishing. Why? Because I was afraid of the uproar that would ensue if I didn’t - and the consequences of it.  It’s a weak reason I know but I didn’t know any better at the time and I was enslaved to the situation.  I kept myself busy so I didn’t have to face up to the fact I was being emotionally bullied and manipulated, trapped in a classically co-dependent relationship.  This realisation had not escaped my body however.

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I suffered from insomnia.  I got run down and regularly picked up colds, verrucae, fungal toe infection – all signs that my immune system was depleted. As I became increasingly dis-empowered by the situation, my confidence sank to an all-time low and my self-esteem plummeted; I no longer had a sense of who I was or where my real strengths lay. 

Why illness is the consequence not the cause
Medical studies have shown that when we suppress a “no” in favour of a “yes”, we go against ourselves and this is a form of self-attack.

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One of my teachers, Anna Halprin, an experimental dance-movement pioneer, discovered this while working with HIV/AIDS patients.

With their immune system compromised by HIV, their body was not able to defend itself sufficiently from infection and she found how difficult it was for them to say “no” in other areas of their life. 

She worked with patients using therapeutic dance-movement to strengthen their boundaries and help them express a clear “NO” and a convincing “YES”, with every fibre of their being.

This helped them to manage and sometimes reduce the number of infections they caught.

Stepping of the merry-go-round
That’s why I enjoy so much to help people find their genuine “YES” – their real passions, desires and motivations. 

When I was caught up in the web of co-dependence, the biggest obstacle was my logical left-brain.  It controlled my thinking and provided me with all the rationalisation and justification I needed for sticking with the status quo.
 
I needed to find a way to by-pass this voice and create space in my body-mind so that a deeper, more wholesome wisdom could get through. This proved difficult when my constant immersion in the detrimental situation prevented me from having access to an alternative viewpoint - so I kept going around in circles.  Now I'm able to recommend people find a moment to step off this merry-go-round by attending one of my workshops or retreats, which would have helped me greatly had I been able to do so.

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Taking downtime
When you take time for yourself along with a suitable guide what it is you need for your sanity and vitality comes sharply into focus.  I use reflective, creative enquiry to help you identify the people, places, and activities for you to welcome in with a resounding “YES”.  With this awareness it will become even clearer when you need to say “NO” as well. 

You won’t find this clarity while you continue to drill away at the coalface.  You’re much more likely to keep on drilling as I did and end up dead on your feet - and we don't want that.  

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