The Haven

The best laid plans

At the beginning of this year, I said that THIS year was going to be my year of knowing a healthy balance and outrageous joy.  I set myself a theme for the year based on what I find in my journals from the year before rather than making a list of New Year’s Resolutions, and it works well.  Normally. 

Time Tardis

My year of  “healthy balance” turned out to be the busiest of my life.  Ever; and that’s pretty impressive for someone who has been told that she lives in a Time Tardis with 48 hours in her day.  Except managing to squeeze even more into my life isn’t necessarily impressive (and has meant some things that are really important to me, like family, friends and spirituality have been somewhat squeezed out).

Let me tell you that had I not had this theme to return to constantly, I don’t think I’d have handled the pressure this year brought.   When I came up with that theme, I couldn’t ever have expected my year to unfold in the way it did, so I became a campaigner,  for a while forced into the spotlight and going down a route I never saw when I resigned as a JP.  All I wanted to do was get people talking about where our society is failing us, and our young people.  I was only ever going to be a reluctant face at the forefront of any campaign; I’m always happier in the background of any party, even my own.  Which is funny as I did end up standing for my own “party” as an MSP! A route that I went down after requests to do it and in the end I realised I couldn’t lose if I did stand, as it would keep attention on the issues – which it did, and in all sorts of ways I could never have anticipated! And I don’t regret any of it, even the lessons I learned, or the fractured ankle which I realised in hindsight gave me breathing space when I had none.

My Path

My only problem was other people’s expectations.  I forgot that I lived for 40 years doing what other people expected me to do before deciding to walk my own path – and I fell back into that pattern.  Up until two weeks ago I was really struggling with all I wanted to do and what was expected of me, getting to the stage where I just could not think and I could not see how all the parts of my life could be integrated.  With Lee’s support, we chose to go on a two week holiday to two out of the way places in Scotland just so there wasn’t much to do and so I’d have time to think, and journal.  I knew I needed a haven – and I found several.  In the space they created, and with the magic of journaling, I found my answers.  I realised my ultimate purpose is to inspire, nurture and encourage (pretty cool that these happen to be the last three initials in my name, eh?); and that includes ME.  There are others who are taking the fight on knife crime and sentencing forward with more skill and energy than I can (thanks to Campaign for Change).  I will continue to keep this in the public eye where I can, but I know now my heart (and therefore my true ability to make a difference) is in supporting some of the victims of crime and in getting involved in projects that change hearts. 


I also know that is only one hat I will wear, as my main focus will be on journaling and happiness.  I’ve had all sorts of amazing adventures and experiences of serendipity as well, confirming this is the path I need to walk (including finding I was staying at a place called the Haven, and sitting down on a bench to enjoy the sun, getting chatting to the lady on the next bench and finding out Anthea was a retired behavioural psychologist running a stress course on the island.  Which I attended the last day of, as others had pulled out due to other commitments – which created the space for me!)  This is my path, not the path others would want for me, but my path.  And I’m loving it.

My Haven

And – you heard it here first. One day – and I don’t know how, but that really doesn’t matter – I’m going to run a Haven.  A place where people who’ve got to overload or who can’t cope with life as-it-is-at-that-point can come to reconnect with themselves or find peace and calm.  I’m also going to live by the sea.  I’ve come off the roundabout that was life for a while, and finding a healthy balance.  I know there is more to life than making it go faster, so I’m just enjoying the way my life is unfolding, the new friends I’m making, the fact that that one step is leading to another…. and I’m beginning to know outrageous

What to do when you’re feeling stuck…

Some people say that being stuck or feeling blocked or confused is a terrible thing to experience.  But what if you weren’t really ever stuck, blocked or confused?  What if your current place is right where you are meant to be, and it’s just that you can’t see what is going on underneath the “stuckness?”

I’m naturally very curious.  There are so many things I could be interested in, it’s been hard to focus on the ones that might really matter to me and that sit with my overall goal to “use my words to empower, heal and encourage happiness.”  Yet without this focus, there isn’t power and there’s not much impact. 

Sometimes life just seems to take over; it rarely does happen like that, as more often than not, what is happening now is due to choices we made yesterday, last week or a lifetime ago. But when it seems to be like that, and you face overwhelm and just don’t know what to do, it’s an awful place – and I was there in the first weeks of May when I needed to make a lot of choices about next steps given I only have so much time and energy.

At times like these, I am fortunate to have a group of women around me that I can turn to for advice.  Some of them are Wild Women – and Jane Talbot is one.  I met Jane in 2006 when she trained me as an NLP Practitioner. I was in awe of her intellect – this woman has more degrees than I can remember, has a photographic memory and is even more curious about life than me.  Since then she’s become a dear friend,and I marvel at her resilience and generosity of heart.  She’s moved to Northern Ireland in another adventure – and surprisingly, she’s taken up gardening; and like so many things in life, it proved to be a very useful metaphor for me.  Today’s guest post is from Jane, sent to me at the time when I was particularly “stuck,” knowing I had a lot of things I could do, but how on earth did I make the choice.  I couldn’t see what to DO next, and it was a reminder just “to BE.”

I am busy in the greenhouse just now…planting seeds…The brilliant thing about a seed is that it knows how to grow. ou need to prepare the ground… use the best soil… feed the seed in the right way to start with.. and then just let it grow.  It will do it all by itself…usually when you are not looking!
Maybe it’s worth not looking for a while.  Over-cultivation can be as damaging as under-cultication. When a plant has “grown hard,”it uses up all the nutrients in the soil – and no matter what you plant.. not much will grow.  There’s nothing to feed it or let it take root. So then, what you have to do – before you grow anything else – is fertilise the soil,grow something like clover to fix nitrogen in the soil,so that the next crop can grow fully..
If you are considering growing a new crop.. or even the same crop.. or a mix of crops… it’s always best to grow clover first if the soil has been heavily cultivated in the recent past.  Pretty much anything can grow when you’ve let the soil recover and fed it with something that is easy and gives back to the soil rather than takes.’s the briliant thing.. sometimes if you leave the soil, you’ll notice that the wind has blown new seeds into the soil… and all sorts of unexpected things pop up while the clover is doing its work…

And as I relaxed and let the clover do it’s work, what I couldn’t see was that underneath the “stuckness” were lots of goodies just waiting to grow.  I’m not even sure what some of them might grow into yet, but so far, it’s all looking healthy! 

You’ll find more information about Jane here, at: Coleraine practice) (her new blog)

or here