Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category


Anyone that has read this blog over the last few years will know that I’m basically a very optimistic person.

I believe that feeling hopeful is why I get out of bed in the morning.

And the last year and a half have provided a lot of interesting challenges and opportunities … most of which I have met with a measure of good cheer and creative thinking.

Yup – there have been duvet days and I love them.

And I’ve had fantastic support from family and friends … my love and thanks to you all.

I believe that nothing stays the same – good or bad – and part of thriving in this crazy chaos is to build your capacity for resilience and humour and patience and persistence.

Even in the worst moments I knew that it wouldn’t last.

Not being clairvoyent is a gift … I really, really, really … really … don’t want to know the future.

And many of my friends and family have faced their own big challenges this year – ill health, death of loved ones, financial woes … loss of some kind.

People’s capacity for courage and just damn good humour in the shittiest situation never ceases to encourage and amaze me.

Many of you have been my inspiration this year … thank you so much.

And now for the good news.

I heard a week ago that myself and a Dublin consultancy had won a nice contract.

It means that I will have more money guaranteed for the next 6 months.

The relief is wonderful … and the genteel poverty of the last 18 months wasn’t all bad either. It’ll just be nice to be able to pay bills and rent on time …and then buy some winter clothes.

I’ve also applied for an Entrepreneurial Internship grant with the National Digital Research Centre in Dublin. If I win one then I have to move to Dublin for 3 months and build a SKIL2 prototype.

Special thanks to my brother Marc for doing all the visual branding for SKIL2 and for agreeing to be my Brand Director.

More thanks to my good friend Margaret Lonergan who has agreed to be my Visual Interface Design Director [a bit of a coup as Margaret was Head of Visual Communications in the National College of Art and Design until feb this year when she went back to her visual communications consultancy] as we design the most beautiful + practical + affordable online learning space.

And even more thanks to Amy [one of my international SKIL2 Mentors] who read through the application form and gave me detailed and brilliant feedback that made it even better.

I gave everyone fab titles because currently they have been giving me their time and talents for free. When SKIL2 makes money they are sooooo getting a bonus.

Exciting and scary … as all adventures should be.

I’ll hear whether I am invited to pitch the idea to a panel by tomorrow.

Writing the grant application was really useful as I had to further refine and clarify what SKIL2 was all about.

And I got to do it twice!!! Lucky me.

I had to work online within their site …and when I went to save a pile of work I’d typed … it disappeared …never to be found again by the NDRC techies.

That was fun …rewriting everything. On the sunny side …I further refined my ideas.

When shit happens I tend to give myself a moment or two [or 20 … depending on the crisis] to feel angry, sad & scared.

Then I get on with it and find a solution and ask for help.

My fundamental power is to choose my attitude in any given situation.

Smiles in the sunshine are easy … smiles when crap hits the fan … well … that’s a tad more challenging.

To be honest, I really don’t like what happens when I get angry. Lots of chemicals flow thru my system and make my body hurt and I feel sick.

Calm tends to be my default state.

And things are happening in Ballinamore.

This Friday Mary from Cara Pharmacy is having a fundraiser for the Northwest Hospice at the Commercial Hotel.

It’s free entry and there will be:

  • a make up demonstration
  • Fashion parade
  • wine tasting
  • Flower arranging demonstration with Gail
  • Goodie Bags
  • Cannaboe Cake decorating demonstration from Sharon
  • Finger Food
  • Raffles

A great night out.

I’ll miss it as I’m starting work in Dublin on the new contract on Thursday and Friday and then I have 2 fully booked Blogsite Design workshops for Artists + Creative Entrepreneurs on Saturday and Sunday.

They are in Koh Restaurant and the owners have given me a private wified dining area for free – many thanks to them for sponsoring the workshops.


I  love finding beautiful places to create learning events. All the participants will be able to order food and refreshments as they learn.

koh seminar room

I hope there are fab things happening for you.



p.s Coco dog is fab as usual. We’ve been getting straight up and out walking at 7.45am every morning. Coco loves it … and I yawn my way down the street.

I let her loose at the canal at the bottom of the street and she just runs and runs and runs. I stroll and enjoy the morning quiet.


For the last 3 days we’ve seen the rare and shy kingfisher bird … tiny and a dazzling blue. It skims along the canal and yesterday it stopped and sang. This morning it skimmed twice and then we saw 5 swans fly across the sky and a rainbow.


p.s.s I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been a time billionaire while I’ve been experiencing genteel poverty.

It’s given me space to develop SKIL2 and Life Dreaming as well as do a pile of probono work and fundraising.

Well, I’m at it again.

Aine Martin and I are running the Big Clothes Swap Party in Ballinamore on November 27th. As far as we know, it’s the first one in the Northwest of Ireland.

Marc has done his usual design genius job of creating a poster.

I’ve attached it here just in case you want to print it and share it around.





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It’s all been a bit [lot] busy the past few weeks … my apologies for not writing … missed you.

As a you can see I haven’t been idle.

I decided to run these workshops for artists after I chatted to a few at Shani & Mia’s engagement party.They were all saying how they needed sites to promote themselves but couldn’t afford it.

Voila … my fab workshops.

The first one was booked out within days and I’d only begun the pr for it.

So … another one is now available.

You can copy and paste the wonderful poster that my brother Marc designed and send it to all your friends … and even interesting strangers.

Or …email me and I can send you info[focusedsolutions1st@gmail.com].

In my next post I’ll bring you up to date on what’s been happening … here’s a wee taster:

  • developing the 1st Northwest Clothes Swap Party as a 3 charity fundraiser in Ballinamore – Nov 20
  • did a week of free online pr for MariaTecce to promote her NYC gigs
  • going for an entrepreneurial internship at the national digital research centre to develop a SKIL2 prototype
  • developing Life Dreaming
  • walking Coco
  • thinking about new adventures for 2010

I’ve decided that genteel poverty is an interesting place to visit [and I’ve learnt heaps] but I am not gonna live there!

I have declared 2010 the Year of Abundance in Everything and you are welcome to come join the party.

Hope your life is full of health & hope.



p.s I had to give my loaner pc back and have been working on Diva the last few weeks. I love her dearly but she is a netbook with a 7 inch screen and a teeny tiny keyboard with a space bar that sticks.

everything [including this wordpress post space] is teeny weeny tiny …and I’m soooo not Alice in Wonderland.

Good news is I may have my first big contract since March and hope to buy a laptop within the next month. They are priced below 500 euro and Diva can go back to doing what she does best … working with me in wified cafes in Dublin [or Paris or London …she’s a city girl] as gorgeous young men serve me …tea.

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You all know that my dear friend of over 20 years … Mary … has been visiting me from Oz on her European hols.

She spent 10 days in Edinburgh during the Festival with another dear friend of hers Anne.

They had a great time at dance and music and  a food festival. One thing I loved hearing about was a bar that served Pottails.

Yup … cocktails in a teapot … my kind of place.

Think I might organise a Pottail party in Ballinamore … are you up for it Mags?

Mary arrived in Ballinamore last Friday … and as you know from previous posts and Facebook notes … I had been cleaning for days before she arrived … I lost the will to live a few times.

As soon as Mary arrived we went down to Smyths pub for a great lunch …. Mary is fascinated by the Irish tradition of chips and mashed potatoes on the same plate!

For the next day or so we literally sat by the fire … yeh … in the summer. It feels like it’s been raining for 3 years.

Mary says that staying in the cottage with me is the only time she actually slows down and does nothing … she knows she’s in the presence of a lolling zen mistress!!

Just to give you a comparison.

If ‘normal’ humans have the drive and energy of 1 gerbil running in a cage …. Mary is the equivalent of about 5 of the little devils!!!

So … we chill and chat and watch the rain come down …  and in the 5 minutes when the rain stops …. We take Coco for a walk.

Mary is charmed by Coco … big surprise.

I think Coco is the dog equivalent of a super model.

On Sunday we get the train to Dublin and go the apartment we booked in Capel St.

Capel St is a great old street on the northside and just off the Liffey River.

The apartment was stunning and is over a great gay bar called Panti Bar. The bar and apartments are owned by Miss Panti and was really gorgeous …. High ceilings … big bedroom …. Big couch that I got to sleep on … nice bathroom.

All for the amazing price of 70 euro per night during the week … min booking of 2 days.

Mary gets the bedroom because she’s paying for the whole trip as a 50th birthdayth present for me … I am blessed with fantastic and generous friends.

Speaking of fantastic and generous friends … many thanks to Mags for looking after Coco for 3 days.

Coco loves going to Mags as she gets to play with all the other dogs …. And she adores Patsy cat …. Who treats Coco with suitable disdain.

So … Mary and I throw the bags in the apartment and go for a wander to the Jervis St shopping center right around the corner.

As evening approaches we go back to the apartment and get dressed up for dinner at Koh.

It’s a Thai/asian restaurant that I had read about online and wanted to check out as a potential venue for Dublin Design your own Blog site workshops … and I also love Thai food.





We were given a private room … and we proceeded to eat some of the best food I have tasted in a long while.

Check out the menu here.

Top that with a lovely bottle of French wine and some great chat and you have a fab evening.

Mary wanted to take some photos … no probs … until she says ‘do something silly’

‘Like what?’ says I …. Thinking ‘yeh … right … I really want a photo of me looking like an eeedjit’.

And here you have my eedjit photo …. Lovely …. Not.


Here are some better photos.





Mary also turned 50 this year so we had a long chat about the new plans we have for our lives.

We ate a lot of starters as we love lots of different tastes … brilliant food at very reasonable prices.

We introduced ourselves to one of the owners (hi Connor) and congratulated him on a great restaurant … and excellent staff.

Here are a few more photos I took of the place … we went there again last  night and I talked with Connor about using their large private room for my workshops with cultural and creative entrepreneurs …more about all that later.



we were the last to go … that’s why there’s no people in the shots.


this is the large private dining area where I hope to run my Design Your Own Blog Workshops … beautiful … and wified.

Mary and I then went to Panti Bar for our free welcome drink as part of the apartment package … I had a great margarita.

We ran into a friend of mine … Sean …. And his mate Jack …. And had a great chat about …. The Lisbon Treaty … the Civil Partnership Bill … science …. Urban planning …. Design …. Multi media.

Yeh … the usual trivial stuff.

Home and in bed by midnight.

Up at 7am on Monday for a major day of wandering and me being Mary’s personal shopper and introducing her to some of Dublins great shops … Penneys in Henry St … Brown Thomas … BT2 …. And funky shops in Georges Arcade on the southside.

We went into one of my fave shops … Om Diva where Mary had a great time.


This shop is amazing with some of the best jewellery … sparkly shoes …. And vintage clothes … all at good prices.



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The shop assistant was a delight and has the best name … Clara Belle.


I’m love the shop and will be popping in whenever I’m in Dublin.

We went to Mao for lunch and more great Asian food.

More wandering in Grafton St …we charmed the very attractive man in Ted Baker into letting us take photos of the shop. Mary’s husband John runs the top menswear shop in Perth and sells Ted Baker clothes.

It’s late afternoon and we were due to meet Shani for afternoon tea in the Queen of Tarts café in Temple Bar.

A lovely place … where the iron sign fell on my head last time!

When the staff saw me coming in they all got a bit wild eyed and gave me a table well away from the sign … but near a huge mirror!

Shani joins us but is off to work at my fave restaurant … Eden …. where she is one of the managers.

Every celebration I have had in the last 5 years (when I’m in Dublin) has been at Eden … including my recent 50th birthday.


Billy. Mary, Liz, Shani & Mia celebrating with me in Eden

(and here’s a special offer to my lovely readers … if you become an Eden Facebook fan you will be able to use the special offers they will be posting only for their Fans. Things like discount cocktails and meals … love it.)

By this stage it’s about 5.30pm and we’ve been out and about for nearly 8 hours … time to stop for a drink.

We were at the lights in Georges St on our way to the Bar with No Name in Fade St when I hear a voice call out ‘’ Hey Liz’.

It’s another good friend of mine from Leitrim … Anna Legge.

Anna is Artistic Director of the Glens Centre and one of the most amazing  women. She organizes and attracts some of the best Irish and international music and literary talent to the (relatively) small venue in a small rural community … people like Sheamus Heaney … Dermot Healy … Pat McCabe … Damien Dempsey.

I invite Anna to join us and we chat for an hour or so before she leaves to drive back to Leitrim.




Meanwhile … Mary and I are chatting about where we will go for dinner …  do you sense a theme running through this adventure?

Yup … great food … great wine … great people.

As we’re chatting Mary gets a text from Shani letting us know that Monday nights there is a pre theatre menu going all evening 3 courses for 29 euro.

And because I am a cosseted and much loved customer … Shani offers us free cocktails as well … life is tough folks.

We walk across to Eden and are just about to go inside when Mary hears 3 people chatting about where they can go to eat for the evening.

I know what it’s like to be a visitor in a city and not know where the good places are to eat … so I walk over and tell them about Eden and their Monday offer.

They thank me and say they will go and talk with their other companion … and yes … they came in later and had a fab time … and I ended up giving them a Dublin map and marking where the cool shops and other places to eat … including Koh.

Shani shows us to our table and we are soon seated with our cocktail.


I have never had a bad meal in Eden (and I’ve been going there for 5 years) and the staff are wonderful.

Everyone exceeded themselves and the meal was amazing.


when Mary cut into the chocolate (it’s hot) it oozed out … and then there were the hot cherries and honey comb icecream.

We had finished our meal and were thinking of calling it a night when Shani came over with a complimentary after dinner liquer … so we stayed a little longer.


Shani suggest we go outside with her on the terrace for an end of evening chat.

We’re outside when 2 guys come out and join us … one of them knows Shani.

We all get chatting happily about the food and then natter away about Japan (Shani learnt and speaks Japanese) …and architecture … and design.

One of the men asks me where I live and when I say Ballinamore in Leitrim … he says ‘I didn’t think anyone lived in Leitrim’.

I smiled and told him that not only was it the best kept secret in Ireland  but it was chock full of great people and some of the finest artists, entrepreneurs, writers, musicians, film makers, architects ….

We get chatting about some of the really interesting contemporary and sustainable houses that have been built in Leitrim … specifically the Mimetic Home designed by Dominic Stevens in Dromohair.

Turns out one of the guys is an architect who knows Dominic … he’s also Italian so Mary and he get chatting about Italy … she’s Oz/Italian and will be there in a few days visiting her rellies.

The other guy asks me if I have seen the work of a particular Japanese architect and we chat happily away about how he uses light and space … and how great designers can integrate traditional and contemporary influences in their creations.

We all start talking about travel and he says ‘I’m off to New York shortly’ … a city I love and want to visit again … and Paris and Rome … and ….

I ask him if he’s going to NYC for work or pleasure … he says work.

Mary asks him what work he does …. And he says he’s in a band.

‘What’s the name of your band’. Asks Mary.

‘U2’. Says he.

‘Oh … that band … I think I’ve heard of you’. Says I.

I said ‘so it was your fault that my train was packed on the Sunday I came up to Dublin for my birthday … all your bleedin’ fans were going up for one of the concerts!’.

We all laughed and just keep chatting away.

I asked him if he was enjoying their world tour and he said that they were having a great time.

Mary asks ‘what instrument do you play in the band?’

“drums’ says he.

‘ You must have very strong arms’ says me

Mary and I are obviously right up there with who’s who in music … not!

And we all chatted for a while before his party called him in to go home.

When he got up to go he shook our hands and said it was a pleasure meeting us (but of course!) … and I wished him only good times on the tour.

A really lovely man …. regardless of the fact he plays in a band that a few people know about!

After he left I asked Shani ‘’ What a lovely man … what’s his name?’

‘Larry Mullen’ says she.

‘Oh’ says me.

Too funny.

He was delightful and before I knew he was in a band I thought he was hot and wondered if he was single … yup … nothing like repeating my pattern of finding unavailable men attractive.

Anything can happen when you’re open and friendly … and eat at Eden.

Up again on Tuesday after a good nights sleep.

We met Shani for morning tea in Lemon Jelly … a lovely café around from the apartment.


Then more wandering … I can recommend the newly refurbished Arnotts in the Jervis Centre … some lovely fashion.

I didn’t have any money to buy anything but I had a great time helping Mary spend hers.

We had lunch in the Italian restaurant in Arnotts and a glass of prosseco (in fond memory of the trip Mary and I made to Rome a few years ago) … delicious … and once again a gift from Mary.

We were in the homewares section of the store when I saw some really interesting merchandise that gave me some ideas for Life Dreaming … Mary took some photos for me and I’ll send them off to Marc …. The Life Dreaming Chief of Ideas.

Back to the apartment to relax before going out again to meet my dear friend Feargus.

The weather had been sunny all day … I think September will be the new Summer.

On our way to the bar we popped in again to Om Diva as they always have new stuff coming in … Mary bought this lovely neckpiece … and they gave her a discount.



We met in the same bar as the previous evening and chatted over a few wines.


Feargus is one of Ireland leading landscape architects and Mary runs a brilliant consultancy that looks at Place Making in cities and communities … so they bonded immediately.


We were having such a good time chatting that we all decided to continue on to dinner … back to Koh where they welcomed us with open arms and gave us the same private room.

Feargus hadn’t been there before and was blown away by the food … it was exceptional.


The conversation was wide ranging and as delicious as the food … as was the bottle of prosseco … which was accompanied by a iced glass filled with strawberries.


I went and had a chat to Conor (owner) about using their larger private dining room as a venue for my Design Your Own BlogSite workshops.

For 55 euros I will be running a 5 hour workshop in his place. The cost includes a cup of tea/coffee and I’ll bring in chocolates … and if people want food or drink as they are learning … they can.

The whole restaurant is wified and beautiful … and I believe that we can learn in beautiful and social places better than in boring old rooms that remind us of school.


This is the area where I will be teaching the blogsite design course … beautiful.

I’m going to target a lot of young cultural and creative entrepreneurs that I know who want to develop a site to promote themselves but can’t afford to pay thousands for a designer.

For 50 euro they will:

  • Learn and design their  blog site – totally hands on learning
  • Meet and network with other entrepreneurs
  • Have a good time eating chocs

What’s not to Love?

It’s a very low price but these crew don’t have a lot of  money … but they know heaps of people … so I’m going to ask them to promote my workshops to their friends.

If it all goes well I’m thinking of then having 4 to 6 weekly gatherings at Koh of everyone that does the workshops so they can network … bring along their computers … and do some free learning.

And … running the paid workshops every 6 weeks or so.

Shani is going to help me promote it … I’m starting by opening a Fan Page on Facebook when I get home today. [update … it’s done].

We had a night cap in Panti Bar and then off to sleep.

Mary and I were up and packed and had breakfast again in Lemon Jelly.

The hot waiter gave me a free tea to take away.


Then Mary and I said our goodbyes … both got a bit teary but we’ll see each other within a year.

Mary has asked Marc and myself to kick her consultancy brand up a notch … Marc doing the visual branding of the site … and me doing the words.

I said that instead of giving me a fee … that all the meals and wine and accommodation she had  paid for on the Dublin trip would be the barter … she knew I didn’t have any money … and I felt better doing a barter … rather than feeling like I was sponging off a friend … although Mary definitely did not see it that way … generous lady.


So … I am Marys Wordsmith and Multi Media R&D person for her business … cool.

As I type the Irish countryside blurs past … I’m on the train home.

I had the best time with Mary and my friends in Dublin … it was a wonderfully rich adventure for 3 days … and now I’m looking forward to getting home to Ballinamore and seeing Coco and Mags and just chilling down.

I feel that there are big changes about to happen in my life over the next 6 months … all good … and I intend too put myself in the way of new adventures and experiences.

I said to Feargus and Mary last night that we can get stuck in what I call Ruts of Competence …. Being great at what we do … enjoying our life … and maybe not being as mindful and aware and open to new ways of being.

I think I’m about to shake up my life … and that delights and scares me.

Bring it on.



p.s I’ve been home a few hours now … Coco and I had a happy reunion and I’ve been doing this blog post and setting up the blog workshop facebook fan page … all while lolling on the sofa bed.

Many many thanks to Mary for being part of a wonderful few days.

Think I’ll just chill down now.

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I know it’s been 2 weeks since I last wrote … just getting used to the 5-0 zone.

Will write about my birthday and year long celebrations next week.

It’s 3am (and moving to 4am as I write and upload the millions of photos) in the morning and I’ve just spent 1 hour uploading and resizing photos from John & Paul D’arcy’s twin 40th birthday.


It was a western theme and the saloon was a beautiful marquee at the back of John and Helena’s new home.


I think the whole town was there at the party … and as John said in his speech … many thanks to Helena for making it all happen.




There was great food and drink and multitudes of people … and a live band that had Mags very excited … Boxty.


They were amazing.

People danced their faces off.














And then there were the groupies …





I turned up early (for Ireland) at 9pm and enjoyed talking to people … but I’m not a big crowd person … funny … because I stayed until 2am!

We all got dancing and chatting and just having a great time.

A lot of people know about this blog so I hope their relatives and children enjoy the photos.

And people kept kindly offering to take photos of me … thinking I was missing out … I was the Sheriff for the evening and funnily enough when I came across any male badges … they were keen to be my deputies … I think my gun was bigger.




I think it’s one of the best parties anyone has ever been to   … and as I left (at 2am) they were just about to bring on the dj!

Ballinamore people know how to party!

I took a HUGE amount of photos … enjoy.

I’ve made a lot at thumbnail size in this post … just click and you’ll see a bigger version.

Sorry I couldn’t make them all big … but some of my lovely readers have slow broadband and I want them to enjoy the photos as well.

Thanks Helena, John & Paul for a brilliant party … what an amazing way to start the Ballinamore Festival … which I will be wandering around and taking photos of during next week.


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congrats Mrs & Mr Murphy … marriage suits you both

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A man and his horse will never be parted

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It’s now just after 5.30am and I’ve uploaded all the photos one by one … 3.5 hours.

Hope you enjoy them … I have a feeling that there’s still a pile of people there right now dancing away.

I’m off to sleep until noon.



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Nearly 10pm on the last day of my 40’s and it’s been really lovely.

I relaxed this morning and went outside with Coco to play … sunny at last.

Maeve Hamill dropped in an early birthday present from herself, James and Eoin (my prince) … a beautiful pair of earrings.


My dear friend Lisa (we’ve been friends for 30 years) rang from Oz and we had a great chat … also got to say hi to her partner Kath.


oh look … more bubbles … celebration time

I sent them photos of Ballinamore to tempt them over and Kath printed them all off … they’ll come here in the next few years and see why I love this town.

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In the afternoon a dear friend from Sligo … Marian … drive over to take me to Lough Rynn Castle for afternoon tea and champagne.


She gave me a card and told me I wasn’t to open it ’til tomorrow … I will show restraint and new found wisdom … and not even look at it … no really … I will … trust me  …

Marian also gave me a bottle of this wonderful sparkling red … it’s a deep rich red wine with champagne added.

I do love efficiency … 2 of my fave drinks in one bottle!

And … she gave me flowers.


I do soooo love being spoiled … I never did understand when people look at their presents and say ‘you shouldn’t have’ … me? … I love presents and the fact that people have thought of me.

We got to Lough Rynn Castle and there was … a huge wedding and a crowd from the John McGahern festival.




My heart sank … would we get a table?

Yup … we ended up with our own room! … big couch and table.

We ordered the afternoon tea and a glass of champers … more (supposed) bad news … no champers.

So he gave us free prosecco which I prefer anyway … lighter bubbles.

And if anyone is reading this from the management of Lough Rynn Castle … the man that served us was exceptional … he had a problem (no champers for the lovely lady turning 50) … and found a solution (give her some free prosecco) … and was charming and helpful when the place was teeming with people.


notice stylish haircut … Mags did it! And … thanks Mum and Dad for the great genes and smooth Irish skin.

We sat and chatted for 3 hours … me sipping a few glasses of bubbles … Marian sipping tea as she was driving.


And guess what folks … you can have your cake and eat it … slainte.


We went for a stroll around the walled gardens … beautiful.

Click on photos to enlarge

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I also enjoyed the forrest … particularly this japanese tree … love the curves and colour.


The castle is beautiful and overlooks Lough (lake) Rynn … and … is only 15 minutes drive from Ballinamore … amazing.

The John McGahern crew were in the mobile cinema watching a movie … we get it in Ballinamore (the mobi cinema) once a week during the winter … interesting films.


Seats around 50 ish … and is a big truck with wheels when it’s on the road … no idea how they open it all up … cool idea though

We came back home and Marian took a few photos of me and Coco … me still posh dressed … Coco just naturally beautiful.



After Marian went home … and many many thanks Marian for such a delightful treat … spending time with you … and drinking bubbles … you started my birthday celebrations so very very well.

I went across to Brendan to give him the key to come in tomorrow and say hello to Coco when I’m in Dublin.

And there was a delivery of flowers from a wonderful woman and fellow blogger in Americamany thanks Anne & Patrick.

The bouquet is amazing … full of life and colour and glorious scent.


I’m a very lucky woman to have so many wonderful friends all over the world … and a family I adore … and Coco.

So … I end my 40’s with champagne … and …

… will start my 50’s with champagne cocktails in Dublin with friends tomorrow … dinner (early bird special and still gourmet) in one of Dublins top places … Eden … with Mia and Shani and Mary and Billy and Jo and George. Then cocktails at a private club … Odessa … on their roof terrace … a gift from Shani.

It’s a damn fine life.



p.s if you are a regular reader (love you) and you think the whole blog looks a bit different … never fear … you are not experiencing early onsent dementia … I’ve been experimenting with a new theme and can’t get my banner back.

Never fear … my fearless brother Marc will sort it next week.

I wanted more space for Pages and my banner and the old Theme was … old.

Time for a change … in more ways than one!


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Lots and lots of children (I counted over 50) worked all week with Orla McCaffrey and Lorraine Sweeney learning dance and music and song routines.

I chatted with some of the kids during the week and they were having a great time.

They had a concert today to showcase their talents … and I was amazed.


Firstly … at all the work Orla and Lorraine must have done to prepare the children.

Secondly … all the work the children did to remember so many routines and songs in such a short time.


There was a large and appreciative audience and I had great fun watching and taking photos.






They danced … and sang … and played the spoons and the tinwhistle and many other instruments.


I loved their dancing and the dance to Michael Jacksons Thriller was a highlight for me.

Here are a pile of photos that I hope families and friends … and the children themselves can enjoy.

Congratulation children … you were a talented delight to watch.

Many congrats to Orla and Lorraine … specially as Orla gets married next week … and Lorraine the week after.

Note: Click on the photos and they will usually enlarge.



















i love this photo of the young ones playing the spoons … particularly the wee one at the front bending over and playing with such energy













this would be the line dancing








love the photo below … a little girl from the audience walked on to say hello to the big girls … sweet.







Thriller dance









There you go … a good time had by all.

If I can find some energy I’ll go to the opening of the group artists exhibition at the Solas Gallery down the street tonight and take more photos.

The week has gone well and I out in a tender for a very small piece of work in Galway … had a vid chat with my Dad in Australia … Brent and Mary bought me lunch at the Mountain Tavern … and Mags Dad is in full recovery mode and home tonight … great news all round.

Have a wonderful weekend.



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Has it been a week since I last blogged?

Last week just seemed to fly by and the weekend ended up being particularly busy.

On Saturday I had the Blog Design Workshop.

Many thanks to Jane in Shaylyn for the idea and the space … and much thanks to Laura on Saturday for all your help setting up.

We had the usual technical hitches setting up and had to change rooms … this all happened before the participants showed up … so it looked like all was perfectly organised.

This was my first blog design workshop and I wondered if I’d get through all the material … I did … and everyone left with a newly designed blog.

I really enjoyed it and I’ll let Pam (another blogger , friend and participant at the workshop) tell you what she thought of it all.

There’s Paul (Pams husband) and me chatting before the workshop started.

It was a wonderful relaxed and informative workshop -with Liz teaching us how to blog via WordPress.com (yeah, I know I can already blog via Typepad but I needed one that is free to use for work and Paul knew nothing!)

We were joined by father and son team – Phil and Dennis,  from the new Kidscafé Youth Centre, Ballinamore, and we all learned how to set up (and indeed we did set up) a blog each! Liz is a deadly teacher and made it all so easy and answered all our questions. Well done Liz and thanks for a super afternoon. We learned loads and will be sharing it all with our students come September. Thank you!

On Sunday I was up at 8am and took Coco for a walk … she saw 2 sheep loose and ran to say hello … much to their delight … not!

I called her back … and she came … good Coco.

I was relaxing in the afternoon reading the papers when my good friend Anna Legge dropped over and said she was taking me to lunch at the Mountain Tavern … past Aughnashellin … yup … up the  mountain.


I laughed because every time Anna has me in the car and we go to the Tavern for food … it’s been shut.

I actually refused to get out of the car when we got there … and told Anna that it would be shut.

She said ‘wanna bet?’

‘Sure’ says I ‘ A million euro’

So … now I owe an extra million euro to my expenses!


We had a lovely lunch … all organic and I’m pretty sure all the vegetables and salad are from their polytunnel next to the tavern.

After lunch Anna decided it was time for one of her Mystery Drives along the back roads of Leitrim.


I love them as we end up seeing places and landscape that I’ve never seen before … and this drive was no exception.

We stopped at the waterfall and it was running very fast for the summer … but then we have had some big rain.


It is always beautiful.

Here are some shots … can’t you just imagine yourself relaxing there?







Anna then took us to a pub that still has its front grocery shop … it was in Ballinagleara  … and we stopped to read more papers.


We then spent hours wandering the back roads … getting to dead ends … reversing back on tiny roads so tractors could get by … trying to herd a donkey …

Yes … you heard right.


these are the safe … off the road donkeys


we obviously needed Mags … animal whisperer … along

We came across a donkey that had escaped it’s grazing … I tried to coax it back … but it ignored me completely.

As we went higher the views just make you so happy.


We ended up at another waterfall …



yes folks … we travelled the country side


…. and I was interested to see the turf cut and stacked on the mountain.



Anna dropped me home at 9pm … a lovely day thanks Anna.

At 11.30pm that night I was interviewed by Paul (on 1105-107FM in Dublin).

Marie Bradley had mentioned me to Paul as an interesting person to interview … thanks Marie.

We had a lovely chat for about 20 minutes about:

  • Life Dreaming … the free workbook … and the whole package that Marc and I are developing to launch in late 2009
  • LizBiz and blogging … I raved about how much I love living in Ballinamore and Leitrim … and how I have so many lovely readers all over the world … thanks folks.
  • Why I came to Ireland
  • Surviving and thriving in the recession … I told him about how I’m bartering my skills and time for things like massage (thanks Marie you are the best masseur) and coal and stuff. I also said that with my consultancy business being so badly affected … I was really taking time to look at all my skills and how they might make money … more on that later.

It was great fun … I had let people know fairly late on Facebook that I was doing the interview … and Derek and Lynda streamed it live in America ... gotta love social media folks.

Surviving and thriving in the recession

It’s a challenge ... no doubt about it.

And an opportunity.


Friends have been great at helping me brainstorm a pile of ideas:

  • I’m available to babysit over the summer period … particularly the Festival. You know I love kids … and even better … they like me. Ring me on 9645443 if you want me to sit on your children!
  • I’m going to see if I can do some more Blog Design workshops in Carrick and Dublin.
  • Sending some information to the Cavan and Leitrim VEC’s about the training I do
  • Developing a Training Info Pack and sending it to some national charities
  • Still sending in tenders for work … I have 2 or 3 to do this week
  • Have applied for social welfare while money from the consultancy is non existent
  • Can develop peoples resumes and help them name and define their skills
  • Will develop and design a blog for a family, business or community group/club
  • Can walk dogs … or maybe they walk me!
  • Continuing to develop Life Dreaming and SKIL2 with Marc ... that will have long term payoff
  • Can teach swimming … I used to teach swimming for people aged between 4 and 60+ … I can also help ‘fix’ people swimming styles so it’s easier to move through the water.
  • Still available to barter my skills and time for … other skills and products
  • If you’re a business then I can help streamline work processes and help you think strategically about the future.

Not a bad list off the top of my head.

See … what I ‘ve realised is that it’s easy to get into a rutto only see yourself in a certain way.

Not having contracts for my consultancy has forced me (because it’s often external circumstances that start change in our lives) to relook at myself and what I can offer … and … it’s starting to be fun to think of new ways of earning money.

My Dad said to me many many years ago when I was a girl

‘ I don’t really care what work you choose to do … as long as you do the best you can. If you want to be a hole digger … then dig the best hole’

He’s a wise man is my Pa.

Every job I’ve every had … from cleaning peoples houses … to tending bars … to developing a major training plan for St Vincent de Paul Ireland … I’ve given it my best … and always enjoyed the people in the process.

Now … the bills and debts haven’t gone away … they are actually growing.

What I know is this … I am doing everything within my power to earn money and reduce expenses … and stay happy and content in the process.


All the things that are outside my power … I give up to the Universe … or the deity of your choosing.

In the Life Dreaming Treasure Chest that Marc and I are designing … I have created a Resource Wheel … which is pretty darn useful to me at the moment.

I took it out yesterday and had a look at what I was using and what I needed to draw on … was very pleased to se how many internal and external resources I was using … I really do use all the tools I create for Life Dreaming.

It acted as a kind of checklist … just in case I had missed anything.


what you see when you look at things differently

So this week I keep developing ideas and ways to earn money as well as spend time with friends … write this blog … and walk Coco.

I send you big wishes for abundance and prosperity this week.




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