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liz

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.

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

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I hope there are fab things happening for you.

slan

Liz

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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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Here are some better photos.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Slan

Liz

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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It’s Thursday and all day I’ve kept thinking it was Friday … cool … another day to do some SKIL2 work.

I posted my work To Do list at the beginning of the week and I’ve achieved about 90% of it … plus all the extra stuff that comes along.

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Life Dreaming got the short straw so I have designated all next week as Life Dreaming Week … much to my brother Marc’s (and business partner) relief … that boy can nag ever so gently… even when he’s travelling through the US.

SKIL2 has meanwhile bounded along … I’ve been doing up a pile of notes from the two 3 hour meetings that the Depaul Ireland SKIL2 Team have had (with me as Chair) … heaps of great stuff.

I’m also typing up notes I wrote for a SKIL2 information pack … which Marc will make fab with his genius design touch.

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And … I created an invitation only Group on my SKIL2 network for my Depaul SKIL2 Team. The rest of the areas on the network are open to anyone.

This will be the space where we email … upload and share files … chat about ideas … and generally develop SKIL2 between meetings.

It’s the first time for some Team members to participate in an online network (other than Facebook) so I’ll be interested to get peoples feedback.

I think it’s miles better than just email.

And … I’ve taken Coco on 2 one hour walks a day since Tuesday … we both enjoy it.

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Yesterday we got caught in a quick rainstorm (what? rain in Ireland in summer … how unusual … not) and I happily sheltered under a tree.

Coco went and checked that the sheep were ok.

It’s 3 days now and she still comes back and lies down like a trained sheep dog when I call ‘ Back Here’ … it worked even when she was chasing a rabbit today.

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So proud of her.

See how she goes into the point position?

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We had a lovely sunny morning walk today and I love seeing how the light comes through the trees … it makes it kind of magical.

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When we were walking along Coco spied a pigeon … who tried to quietly sidle away … pigeon not Coco.

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And … all the plans for healthy eating have been met … not a chip … chocolate … cake … take away … alcoholic beverage … has passed my lips since Friday.

It’s all healthy and about 2 litres of water a day … I’ll have to do something crazy soon as all this clean living is OTT for me.

And there’s always something that puts our lives in perspective.

Someone I love very much has been going through a very hard time … and this week we spent hours emailing back and forth … listening and sharing and just being there. They are feeling much better than at the beginning of the week and also realise there’s a way to go … pretty much a life time.

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I’m so proud of them … it takes immense courage to say you need help … that your life is really unhappy … and that you want to create a better life for yourself.

And it takes even more courage to start taking the small steps to connect to your own power … to really reflect on the habits, patterns and pain that you want to change … to speak your own truth … and worry less about what other people think … to make some real choices about who you want to be and how you want to live your life.

I stopped being a good girl about 20 years ago and as a result I am really happy and content most of the time.

I visit the Sunny Funny Garden every day and it’s getting a kind of Secret Garden look about it. If the sun shines over the weekend I’m going in to do some weeding.

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Anyway dear reader … I hope your week has gone well.

I’m off to walk Coco again.

Slan

Liz

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Big Reminder before I start the main post from Sharon Sweeney

Just to let everyone know that the Blood Donation Clinic returns to the Community Centre in Ballinamore on Monday 8th June 2009.

Clinic times are 3.00pm to 4.45pm and 7.00pm to 9.30pm.

We were below the 100 donations at the last clinic so we really need to get above this number at the next one or we may lose it to another town.

Thanks to everyone who attended the previous clinics.  Please try to get to this one and if you can get there please bring a friend.

From Liz – My blood is RH O Neg so I’m going to be very brave (I’m needle phobic … runs in the family) and go down there on Monday. I’ll be the one whimpering in the corner … and staying the longest. My blood takes forever to come out … and I sometimes have to have the needle moved around between my arms … I feel dizzy just writing this … don’t want to do it  … fear fear fear … but the blood is needed.

Love Sunday … a lovely slow day … street is quiet.

I read until 3am this morning and was still up at 7am to let Coco out … and then … back to bed to sleep for another few hours.

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I’ve been uploading and resizing photos from my Dublin trip this week and Coco is sitting in her chair … looking at the photo and around the office I see I’ll be doing some tidying tomorrow morning.

The Dublin trip was a great success.

I went over there on Thursday by train … very comfortable and I love seeing the countryside go by … lovely and sunny.

My meeting wasn’t until Friday so I had a great wander on both the Northside and Southside.

They are separated by the Liffey and connected by a heap of bridges.

This photo shows one of Dublins favourite bridges … the Ha’Penny Bridge.

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I used to live in one of the apartments in the red brick building on the northside (the left) … 1 minute from the bridge.

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Some of my favourite streets in Dublin city include:

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Dame Street … at one end is Trinity  and at the other is Christchurch … and my Juries Hotel. Temple Bar runs off Dame Street and faces onto the Liffey.

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Off Dame Street is Georges Street and the beautiful Georges St Arcade … a covered market. Great little streets run off it and you end up on …

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Grafton Street … which is a key pedestrian area with a lot of shops. Stephen’s Green Park is at one end.

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Parliament Street runs into Dame street on the South side and then you go across a bridge to the northside and one of my favourite streets … Capel Street.

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It has some great pubs and really old shops.

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One of the main shopping streets on this side of the river suns off Capel Street … it’s a mix of Mary Street and Henry Street … and there are heaps and heaps of shops as well as open markets.

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It ends up at O’Connell Street which is a major part of Dublin history … a little run down but always full of character. The O’Connell St photos were taken on Saturday morning when I was on the LUAS train to Connolly train station … it was bucketing down after days of sunshine.

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I was in Depaul Ireland nice and early on Friday for my 11am SKIL2 Team meeting to set everything up. I keep meaning to take a photo of the team but we just get so engaged in our chats that I forget.

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The meeting ran from 11am to 2pm and I organised for sandwiches, fruit and cheese to be brought in so we can eat and talk.

The major part of the meeting was spent standing around the SKIL2 learning space design that I have developed … commenting … questioning … adding … changing.

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My design mantra is

BEAUTIFUL + SIMPLE + AFFORDABLE

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So … that mantra informs every design decision and discussion and the Team are very aware of it … to the extent that they are now commenting on other sites I show them in those terms.

After 2 meetings I feel we have captured the key design elements and the Team has been of invaluable assistance in making it even more user friendly.

This week I’ll be transferring the paper design to a new open source design software called Scribus … which I have to teach myself to use first!

As we are standing looking at the design it raised all sorts of great questions, ideas and comments from the Team:

  • how can we engage people to use SKIL2?
  • SKIL2 will be a great way to capture organisational memory
  • what if we ….. they have heaps of ideas
  • here’s how we can link it into existing systems and processes
  • it’s a great tool for challenging good practice and sharing our knowledge
  • how do we deal with people who abuse the space? [my response … the same way as you do in face to face encounters … link back to your policies on best practice, bullying etc … have clear written codes of conduct …]
  • let’s open SKIL2 to our volunteers as well
  • how can we eventually include service users?
  • etc etc etc etc

The discussions are amazing and I facilitate in a way that makes people feel safe enough to be challenging and excited and unsure.

We also started our Elevator Pitch exercise … where we will develop a 60 second SKIL2 pitch.

I asked people to throw in their thoughts and ideas on the following questions:

  1. who is SKIL2 for?
  2. what problems/needs does it solve?
  3. what opportunities does it seize?
  4. what values/benefits does it offer to an organisation and individual?
  5. what are it’s key features?
  6. what calls to action do we need to develop?

We got to number 4 and we’ll finish it off via a group email.

Over lunch I showed the Team a range of interesting sites … a social media for non profits site ... a cool tools for schools site …a site that shows you alternative open source software to the paid stuff … and open course ware sites [I gave the links in my last post].

At each meeting over lunch I will be showing the Team different aspects of social media … online learning … open source etc.

It’s like a literal and figurative Bite Sized Learning session … their knowledge, skills and confidence in these areas will grow as I show them more and more ways that it all works.

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SKIL2 and everything I develop is based on an interesting mix of conceptual models and my own experience:

  • adult learning theory
  • social justice theory
  • social media and Web 2
  • community building
  • change theory
  • group theory
  • facilitation theory
  • knowledge management
  • learning organisation models
  • learning styles theory
  • communication models
  • a range of learning models
  • social action research
  • organisational development theories
  • feminist and power theories
  • structure and process systems theory
  • psychology
  • neuro lingusitics programming
  • sociology
  • design theory
  • art
  • information architecture

It all informs the way I work with people … and the kinds of things (products, processes and services) that I want to develop and share with the world.

And at the end of the meeting as we were setting a date in September for the next Team session … I apologised for having to convene 2 three hour long meetings in 2 weeks and I explained that I wanted to get key feedback from them on SKIL2 design before the summer holidays.

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I promised that the next meeting would be shorter … maybe 90 minutes to 2 hours … and they all said they wanted the meetings to be longer and stay at 3 hours … they really want to learn and discuss and build SKIL2 into Depaul Ireland.

First time in 25 years people have asked me to make the meetings longer … they are really engaged in the whole SKIL2 process … and … I facilitate meetings that are always results oriented … and fun.

After the meeting I went to stay with a good friend Mary and chatted into the night … love that.

Then back on the train in the rain on Saturday … thanks William for picking me up.

Now I’m off to walk Coco and begin a new pattern of health  living:

  • cycling to Riversdale (10min each way) and swimming for an hour … 2 to 3 times a week
  • walking Coco every day … at least an hour 4 times a week … and shorter on other days
  • eating healthy … which I’m doing anyway
  • 4 to 5 alcohol free days a week
  • try the You Tube free personal trainer sessions … twice a week

I intend to be Fit & Fabulous for my 50’s … coming up in 47 days.

I will enter that age fitter than I have been in over 30 years.

Slan

Liz

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That lovely golden ball in the sky has been shining over Ballinamore for 6 days now … and we’re all a bit giddy.

Given the amount of rain we had in May … we need this dose of Vit D.

I’m off to Dublin to do my free SKIL 2 work with Depaul Ireland.

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They have been amazing in literally giving me their organisation to trial the whole process … and eventual product … of SKIL2.

I’m now working with a Depaul SKIL2 Team of people from a project worker to a senior manager … and they are already adding enormous value to the design and implementation process … they’re a great group of intelligent and motivated people.

We are playing with the design that I have done for the online learning space … tweeking and adding features … while staying with my core design philosophy … beautiful + simple + affordable.

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One of the activities I’ve designed for our meeting is the Elevator Pitch … where you communicate the core benefits and features of a product in 60 seconds … I’ve created a process that will be a lot of fun … and result in some cool insights.

One of the other things I do is show them different aspects of social media and how it can benefit them, their workers and their clients.

I found some great sites that provide free lectures from leading universities and speakers globally … in social media and WEB 2 terms they are known as … open courseware:

  • Open Learn – free courses from Open Uni in UK
  • Open Culture – some great talks and lectures on a range of topics
  • Academic Earth – lectures from leading universities from their academic programmes. I watched a great vid on clinical psychology last night.

So … if you are interested in learning and don’t want to do formal courses … check those sites out.

With Marcs genius design help … and a few people from around the world who are my SKIL2 mentors … I will build the SKIL2 online learning platform by the end of this year.

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Then I’ll have a SKIL2 process and product that non profits around the world can buy … and I’ve had some interest from small profit organisations as well.

OK … off I go to pack and get sorted … thanks to Maggie again for letting Coco stay with her pack while I’m away … she loves staying at your place.

I won’t be writing until Saturday so have a great weekend.

Slan

Liz

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It’s another glorious sunny day in Ballinamore … hush all you people who live in sunny climes … we see that golden ball in the sky so rarely that every sunny day is a celebration.

I was up at 7.30 and took Coco for a walk while it was cool.

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The street was nice and quiet.

I saw this boat in the canal basin and thought how lovely it would be to go on a wee boat trip and wake up in different places.

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The trees by the canal are really beautiful.

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Coco and I walked to the road that takes us down to the water treatment place.

I let her off and she went dashing down the road … I think she does have greyhound in her the way she races and runs.

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I was taking this photo and admiring the morning light when I turned and saw Coco running after a rabbit across the road … as a car came along!

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The driver was going very slowly and slammed on his brakes … I thanked him and Coco noticed nothing but the rabbit … gave me a mild heart attack.

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We walked along and I admired the boats that Locoboats hire out … think I’ll loll on this one.

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Coco ran to the fence to say hello to all the sheep … not sure they were as happy to see her … they all kind of moved away at a rapid jog.

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She just stood there smiling at them … gotta love the dog.

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Sometimes in Ireland you need to look very closely at our flowers because they are wee things … tiny flowers mixed in amongst all the green.

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The meadow is nearly all yellow now and the whitethorn is everywhere.

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I love looking up at the light as it filters through the leaves … amazed I haven’t been hit by a truck yet.

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We were walking along the road when I saw a car coming from the water treatment plant … nearly called it the waterworks … which would sound like a place where people cry a lot!

Anyway … I’m trying to call Coco back … no result.

The car slows down as she runs back … luckily not at the car… more to the side of it.

The car stops because Coco just keeps running close to me and then away. Good to see she’s not running at the car.

I pretend to be walking away from the car so Coco will follow me and the car can move on … that worked.

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divil dog

I then said to Coco ‘sit … lie down … stay’ in a very firm voice.

She did it all and I was able to catch her and put the lead on … with lots of praise for her.

I’ve been working on SKIL2 (note to self … update the site and thanks to Marc for adding stuff) every since … had a call from my dear friend Lisa in Oz … great to catch up.

Dropped in and saw Mags who told me this hysterical story about waking up at 5.30am this morning to the sound of guitar strings playing!

Spooked her as she’d never heard of a burglar serenading the house before ransacking it.

She got out of bed and saw Adrians guitar up against the wall with one string loose … and Patsy the cat batting the strings!

As Mags was telling the story I was laughing so much I had tears running down my face.

I want a picture and video of it.

I want to send out a heap of love to someone I just adore … my sis Siobhain.

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I think she’s one of the best people I’ve ever known and I miss her.

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I love living in Ballinamore … just wish we could pull Oz a little closer.

Off to do some more SKIL2 work and maybe go for a bike ride to Riversdale and check out the pool … and take Coco for another walk later this evening.

Coco has been sitting/sleeping in her chair in my office … when she gets bored she just stares at me as if to say ‘entertain me‘ … I explained that until she got hands and learned to speak English … I was the sole income earner.

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She just kept staring … so I got up and threw the tennis ball around the lounge … yeh yeh … I know I’m a softy when it comes to Coco.

Oh yeh … I was looking at sites for accommodation for Marc and Yang.

They’re off to Washington, Boston and New York next week.

I found this great site where you can rent a room in people’s houses for 25 dollars and more.

The people know about their town/city and you get to stay in cool neighbourhoods.

Marc has emailed a few of them.

I was delighted to have helped Marc  … and … found a website before he did!

Off to Dublin tomorrow and  working with the Depaul SKIL2 Team on Friday … can’t wait … they are a bright and highly motivated group of people.

Slan

Liz

p.s Sharon asked me to let people know that you can give blood next week.

Here are the details

Just to let everyone know that the Blood Donation Clinic returns to the Community Centre in Ballinamore on Monday 8th June 2009.

Clinic times are 3.00pm to 4.45pm and 7.00pm to 9.30pm.

We were below the 100 donations at the last clinic so we really need to get above this number at the next one or we may lose it to another town.

Thanks to everyone who attended the previous clinics.  Please try to get to this one and if you can get there please bring a friend.

My blood is RH O Neg so I’m going to be very brave (I’m needle phobic … runs in the family) and go down there on Monday. I’ll be the one whimpering in the corner … and staying the longest. My blood takes forever to come out.

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My SKIL2 project moves to the next stage with a meeting tomorrow in Dublin in Depaul Ireland.

I have formed a Depaul SKIL2 Team to help with the whole awareness, communication & buy in process within their organisation.

The Team has members from all levels of the organisation and from projects North and South of Ireland.

I’m going to write a more detailed story about Depaul Ireland in the next week.

Basically, they run innovative projects with very marginalised people … a lot of homeless people … women coming from prison … and people with deep drug and alcohol issues … are the clients of Depaul Ireland.

Depaul has always been prepared to take risks on behalf of their clients and were the first organisation to introduce low threshold, harm reduction & wet shelters to Ireland.

I’ve been priviliged to work with them as a learning & performance consultant for over 7 years. I also delivered training on Effective Written Communication and facilitated a number of project & team development sessions in many of the projects.

I love working with them.

I’ll talk more about Depaul Ireland next week.

They have been brave enough … and insightful enough … to volunteer to be my test organisation for SKIL2.

Setting up the Team is an essential part of SKIL2 success … and I’m really looking forward to working with everyone for 3 hours tomorrow.

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Now … all I have to do now is attract some money to pay the bills and get me to Singapore so I can design & build the SKIL2 online space with Marc.

Hmmm … maybe I should have a fundraiser … any (legal) money raising suggestions from readers will be gratefully accepted.

Next week I’ll be working on a few money making ventures:

  1. developing the marketing and focus for my Blog Site design service. If anyone has ideas on where, who and how to market … email me and let me know
  2. developing an info sheet on my Effective Written Communication in the Workplace training day
  3. going to some online sites and looking at potential writing (I love writing reports and copy for maketing … send most people to sleep … I see it as a great exercise in communication)
  4. Contact old clients and people I have met in organisations and let them know I’m available to do work

These are interesting and challenging times … and I’ve seen my revenue drop by over 60% in the last year … right now it’s zero.

So … time to just focus in and reclarify my service offerings … and let people know about them.

It’s all part of living and I’ll enjoy it.

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I won’t be writing again until sometime on the weekend … so I’ll send you good wishes now.

Slan

Liz

p.s Thanks Mags for looking after Coco while I’m in Dublin. Coco loves staying at Mags with the pack.

p.s.s Breaking News … I took Coco for a walk to the land behind the convent yesterday evening.

Now … she usually runs mad free for a while before running back to check I’m still there.

Never too close to be caught mind you.

Anyway … I had brought along one of the whistles Anne had given me and decided to give it a go.

Thanks again to Anne for the gifts to train Coco … they are very much appreciated.

I had let her run for less than a minute and she was about 50 metres away from me … when I blew the whistle (I can hear it and I think it also is pitched beyond my hearing) … she ran back as if I had turned into a steak!

I tried it about 7 more times … three when she was completely out of sight … and she came running back every time!

Good Coco … she got lots of warm words from me.

I’m thrilled to bits and hope it lasts.

Mags is the Keeper of the Whistle until I get back.

It just occurred to me (I was writing and heard a bird sing outside) that the whistle might sound like a bird to Coco … and she loves birds more than anything in the world.

Happy Coco … Happy Liz

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