Archive for the ‘leisure’ Category

Yup … it’s the kind of day to stay cosy and warm inside.

Unfortunately I had to go into town [sounds like a bleedin’ trek across the himalayas … it’s only 5 minutes in non icy weather] to pay the rent and get some more books from the library.

My good friends Miriam and Jimmy are staying with me for a few days [as they wait and try to get up the icy back mountain roads to their home] so we walked carefully in convoy into town.

As we walked down the road from the estate the army drove up to grit the roads … better late than never lads.

It’s slippy in town but it felt great to be out and walking even if the windchill factor is minus 5.

Dropped in and had a chat with Maggie … then off to say hi to the fab women in the Credit Union … then to the bank to pay the rent … then library to get books and say hi to the lovely women there … then Hi to Maggies Mum and Dad who have had no running water for weeks and still look neater and dapper than me!

Was about to slide my way home when I was hailed by Sharon Sweeny [Cannaboe Confectionery entrepreneur and wicked witch baker of my favourite carrot cake … no Liz … it is not a health food!] who offered me a lift back to my home.

Lovely to see her and I want to sent my best wishes to her mother who had a wee fall [like thousands and thousands of others around the country] on the ice and broke a few bones. It could be any of us no matter how careful we are.

Thanks Sharon for the lift and I have to give you a jar of honey that the wonderful Anne sent us from the Liz Biz beehive in America. The honey is delicious and I want to send a big hello and happy new decade to Anne. May you, your husband and bees all flourish and prosper.

Home now and enjoying the swedish cinnamon buns I made for the first time yesterday. They were delicious and I was very pleased to serve them to Jimmy and Miriam.

notice carrot cake in background?

I bought the best cook book ever last week and have been making stuff from it ever since. It’s a book that was commissioned by the Irish publishers Mercier Press from a food blogger … a young Irish lad called Donal Skehan. He writes a blog called Good Mood Food and I’m loving the cook book.

Tonight I’m cooking his recipe for Thai Green Chicken Curry and later on in the week I’m making big batches of 2 soups to freeze – Red Pepper and Tomato soup & Pea and Mint Soup.

And just in case you think I’m lolling around cooking … I am!

I’ve also sorted my office and have already booked Koh restaurant for a new round of Blog Design workshops in Dublin on Feb 6 and 7.

blog design workshops in Dublin

The workshops I did in November were a great success and I am really looking forward to doing more this year. The people I get to meet are really interesting.

The cost of the workshop is 80 euro and runs for 5 hours. People leave with a fully designed blog site and the skills to insert content and vids and photos and heaps of other stuff. People also get a 60 page info pack, chocolates and a fun learning time with me.

What’s not to love?

Someone sent me an email from an organisation [who will remain nameless] who is offering a 6 hour workshop in Dublin on setting up a blog and writing content … and they are charging 295 euro!!!

So I feel like I’m offering a quality bargain.

Coco and I are now ensconsed warmly inside and I’ve just put out heaps of bread for the birds.

All is well in my world.



p.s If anyone around town [or family in Oz and Singapore] has a Wii console they want to sell … I’d love to buy it. I really want to get the console, buy the EA Sports Challenge and just go for it in the privacy of my own home. You can email me – focusedsolutions1st@gmail.com

If there are none going I’ll buy one with the profits from my blog workshops in February.

When it comes to being physically fit I realised that I needed some new solutions to a very entrenched old problem. I decided to bring the exercise into my own home and make it varied and interesting with clear goals and feedback along the way … so that’s why I want a Wii.

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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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I love writing.

This blog started as a place for me to write whatever came into my head … and that hasn’t stopped.

In the first year or so I had about 250 to 300 hits a month … now that’s what I can get in a day sometimes.

It’s not the end of August yet and I just checked the stats for the month … the highest ever in the history of Liz Biz … 4,007 … and rising.

Thanks folks … for visiting … for reading … for commenting.


A number of my international readers have become friends … and that delights me.

I know some of my family read the blog regularly … hi Dad … hi Siobhain … hi Marc.

And the people of Ballinamore … and their relatives and friends everywhere … read this old thing … thanks so much.

I still love writing this blog … and will stop when it feels like a chore.

In some ways it’s become a kind of journal for me to look back on in my older age … which I think is lurking around next week!

I love documenting events and seasons in Ballinamore … a small town that seems to always have something going on.

my cottage

And in a few hours my dear friend Mary will be visiting from Oz (we are sooo not in Kansas anymore Dorothy) … and I think I’ll have to light a fire.

And it’s still summer … sob.

In anticipation of Mary’s visit I have been cleaning and tidying the cottage all week … a few hours here and there … really don’t love doing it.

The place is looking much better … although she’ll probably walk in and offer to help me clean it! She’s a tidy tidy tidy person … and I love her.

Still got a few things to do so will pop away.

Just wanted to say thanks for reading.




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I know … I know … I really shouldn’t moan about something that is totally out of my control.

I wouldn’t even mind if we got full days of rain (like yesterday) and then full days of sunshine (like … when?).

Take today for example.

I went for a walk with Coco and Maeve about an hour ago … sunny and warm … lovely.



Just as we got home it bucketed down … I think it might have stopped now.

’tis a bit of a misery sometimes.

I really enjoy the teeny tiny moments of sunshine we get as I can then take Coco for a walk.

On Saturday I took her down to the lock and watched her be very nervous around the water … she is soooo not a water dog.



I walked onto the steel bridge and she went ballistic barking … she hates it when she can’t go where I am.



As soon as she saw me coming back she lay down and waited happily.


Maeve is great with Coco and I think she’s very brave around such a big dog.

Coco runs at a huge pace and Maeve always stays still.

I took a couple of photos of them both … and in the year since I’ve had Coco both Maeve and the dog have grown.




Maeve took all these shots … it’s fun to have some photos of me and Coco together … me looking windswept … Coco looking fab.





We also noticed that the level of the canal has gone over the actual gates so there were Waterways Ireland men trying to sort the electrics for the gate so it would open … there’s always the option of buckets guys.

My big plan for this week is to totally tidy and clean the cottage for Mary’s visit on Friday.

I had a skype vidcam call with her this morning and she actually said she’d love to help me clean (sick or what?).

I told her that if she saw the state of the cottage right now … she’d fall into a coma for the rest of her visit.

As it is … I told her that I’ll probably be cleaning for 4 days and she’ll come into the cottage and say something like ‘ Don’t worry … another few hours and we’ll have it ship shape’.

Have to think of a pile of rewards for all this effort … all suggestions will be taken on board.

And if someone says ‘ah Liz … the inner satisfaction of seeing the cottage spick and span will be it’s own reward … ‘

I’ll hunt you down!

I hope there are many fab and delightful moments in your week.



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I feel a great deal of satisfaction after getting 2 big things done this week.

I worked through the night until 5am one morning to finish writing and developing the 8 Life Dreaming modules.

I really ‘get’ why some writers love writing late at night … it’s quiet and there’s nothing to distract you from getting into the flow.

I found myself in a great writing zone where everything just came together … it helps that I love writing.

My patient brother Marc is my partner in developing Life Dreaming globally [nothing wrong with Dreaming BIG] … and he has the gentlest nagging process in the world … just little hints every now and then ‘how’s Life Dreaming going Liz’.

As regular readers know … I retreated to a cottage up the mountain a number of months ago and wrote a heap of stuff for the modules … expanding the Life Dreaming workbook (free copy available on this blog at the top of the page) waaaaay beyond where it was.


I even  started typing up all the new material … and then … stopped.

It got to the point where my Dad, sister, Life Dreaming Test Team (bless all 13 of you around the world) kept asking ‘ when are you going to finish typing the LD notes?’

Dad wins the prize for persistence … congrats Pa and thank you.

I was wondering myself what was the underlying reason/s for all this procrastination.

But my intuition/spirit just kept keeping me away from finishing the typing … and I have a very very healthy respect for that part of me that doesn’t have words … but can send strong messages.

And … over the last months … and certainly since I turned 50 (and 3 weeks now … a newbie) … I’ve felt a deep restlessness and confusion and ennuie … and just stayed with it because all those feelings are signals for change.

I’m doing my own Life Dreaming … exploring what’s important in my life ... what I want to change … what I want to bring with me into this decade.


Having no work and a lot of time has been enormously helpful … although financial poverty is a place I choose not to stay in for too long.

It’s given me the space to just reflect and relax and wander.

I’ve made some decisions … both short and long term … and feel really good about them … excited and re energised.

And … I realised that this whole unsettled and confused period of my life was exactly what I needed to bring to Life Dreaming.

As a result … I have been able to create and write a whole pile of new activities and ideas for the Life Dreaming modules … it now more truly captures the messy … chaotic … creative aspects of living.

So … I brought all that new experience and learning to the late night writing of the Life Dreaming Treasure Chest.


It rocks now.

As a reward for all that effort … I treated myself to lunch at Smyths and had a lovely chat with Cathy Smyth … love the food there and it was packed.

Yesterday I sent the 8 Life Dreaming modules to Marc for the whole genius design stage … and I can nag him now!

It also went out to the 13 people worldwide who we invited to be our  Life Dreaming Test Team.

They will give us feedback during the whole development of Life Dreaming and will be our first Life Dreaming lifers … that’s not a jail sentence … they will receive everything we develop and access to all areas of the Life Dreaming site … free … as our deep thanks for their energy and efforts in helping us make Life Dreaming amazing.

By the way … if you want to follow the Life Dreaming story then become a Fan on the Life Dreaming Facebook page.

And speaking of Fan Pages … check out Sharon Sweeneys Cannaboe Confectionery Fan Page.

Well done Sharon for the Bewleys cupcake … it was in national and local papers … and why not … Sharon’s work is exceptional.

I also did some work developing the structure for a friends Wellness Workbook.

And … I had time to walk Coco.

Trying to train her to heel … good luck with that!

She comes back and lies down now on command … very proud of her.

I’m planning a very quiet weekend of lolling and streaming some tv shows online.

I took Coco outside this morning and there was actually mist … lovely cold wet summer we’re having … may have to light the fire today.

Chatted last night via Skype webcam with Derek and Lynda for 3 hours.


On a Friday every now and then we have a Happy Hour (or 3) and catch up … while drinking a few beverages.

Nothing like a bi continental cocktail party.

They send their best wishes to all their friends in Ballinamore and hope to be over here next August.

They are not the kind of people to blow their own trumpets … so I will.

Lynda has been included for the third time running in a horror stories anthology … this year she’s in there with Stephen King.

To put this in perspective … very few writers get included … some get in once … some get in twice … very very few people get in three times.

Congrats Lynda.

Derek has been working on a Terry Gillam (did I get the name right?) piece and is cooking up a major book deal with his London literary agent.

I’m sworn to secrecy … but it’s big … mega big.

So … well done you two … and well deserved.

I’m off now to see what’s happening on the streets of Ballinamore … pop in and say hi to Dee and then Mags … light the fire … read the papers … nap

Aaaah … my kind of living.



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Some things really do stay the same … like our wet July and August for the last 3 years … and I bet the sun will shine on the day all the kids go back to school in September.

Humid and wet and grey … yum yum.

Took Coco for a walk and she loves being out  … so that’s always cheering as I watch her run up and down looking like a drunk dog.





Festival is over for another year and well done to all the organisers and volunteers … mighty effort.

I was in Dublin on Sunday for the engagement party of 2 of my best friends … Shani and Mia.


An amazing time at the Odessa Club … caught up with people including Mia’s parents and god parents … and made some new friends.






Jaime … from the band Cuckoo Savantes … entertained us beautifully with some great songs.



I became a fan on their Facebook page as soon as I got home.

I know Jaime won’t mind me putting their profile page photo here.

I had a wonderful time chatting with Jaime and his partner Michael who runs a brilliant non profit for gay young people across Ireland.

And then there were the DJ’s … and all of us dancing like mad maggots … well me anyway.

Nice to be home so I can concentrate on tidying up the cottage as my dear friend Mary will be visiting next week from Oz … and she is uber tidy … and I’m … not.

Our public servants have been getting a bit of a bashing lately.

And you know what folks … it’s not the front line workers who are at fault … it’s all the senior managers and politicians who have huge expense accounts … and what looks like … little accountability.

Todays paper has information on government ministers and public sector CEO’s who ran up bills in the hundreds of thousands … on 1st class travel and hotels and drinks and taxis …

Here’s a little taste to set your heart racing:

  • A former minister had a travel bill of 126,000 euro in 2 years – including 900 euro a night hotels … 7,591 on taxi airport pickups …
  • former FAS director (for international readers … that’s the government department that helps the unemployed get training and jobs) swapped his 1st class air tickets (16 in 3 years) for 2 business class tickets so his wife could come with him
  • ‘friends’ of ministers often get their travel expenses covered
  • Mary Harney (Minister for Health) spent 190,000 euro on a trip to the USA last year … 11,000 euro on hotel bills … 11,000 euro on minibuses to move her 7 people group around … 410 dollars on a wash and blow dry

Seriously folks … no front line worker gets those perks ... it’s the boys (and girls) in suits at the top of the ladder … who abuse the system … and aren’t even particularly productive as a result.

I mention public servants because I’ve been going through the process of getting social welfare benefits as there is no work in my sector at the moment.

Here in Ballinamore we are very lucky to have good public servants who treat their public with respect … thanks to the Social Welfare inspector and the local Community Welfare Officer for all your assistance.

Thanks to the Revenue Commission staff who are sending me admin stuff so I can get the benefits.

I have had chats with the staff there over the years in Limerick and Sligo … and every single one has been helpful and thoughtful.

And … I hope the FAS office in Carrick is as helpful when I go in there to ask about some online training I’ve seen … may as well use the time to build my web design and computer skills.

I’ll also be checking out the customer service skills of the housing service in Leitrim County Council when I apply for rent allowance.

I’ll let you know how I go.

Hope your week is going well.

Here’s a photo of me at my 50th birthday dinner in Eden restaurant Dublin … with Billy, Mary, Shani and Mia. Best people … best restaurant.




p.s Oh yeh … one of the things I’m thinking of becoming in my 50’s is a civil ceremony celebrant … with a particular focus on providing ceremonies for gay couples.

By the end of the year there will be a civil partnerhsip act/law that will enable gay couples (and straight for that matter) to enter into civil partnerships.

Civil partnership will not provide all the same rights as Marriage … and this is decidely unfair to a whole group of our citizens.


I never wanted to get married or even be in a partnership … but I deeply believe that all citizens should have equal access to all civil liberties … including marriage … if they choose.

I started to do some research on what I needed to do to become a legal celebrant … and as usual … bless Ireland … it’s run by the beaurocrats … the HSE to be exact.

Currently if you are straight and want to have a civil partnership you go to a registrar in your County and go thru the paper trail and then a ceremony done by the Registrar.

You can’t have a ceremony in a field, park, lake, beach  … I think all my siblings have had their wedding ceremonies in parks or on beaches in Australia.

You can have a ceremony in an enclosed public space such as a Hotel or Castle … but it has to be approved by the HSE.

And here’s the kicker … because it’s run by the Public Service (a wee oxymoron) … you can only have your ceremony from 9am to 5pm and not on a Saturday … not sure about Sunday.

Now – there are another group of official people called Solemnisers (only in Ireland would they call this kind of celebration – Solemn) that can perform civil ceremonies … and that’s what I hope to become … when I can find out how.

I’ll be calling our local registrar soon.

And to all my friends who are fighting for gay peoples rights to not only enter civil partnerships … but also marriage … keep up the good fight and damn the begrudgers.


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It’s Saturday and I’m just back from the Children’s Fancy Dress that’s part of the Ballinamore Festival.

Apart from a visit to the Agricultural Show day on Tuesday I’ve not been out at all … just having a nice quiet week.

Here are a pile of photos of the children.

Topical costume themes were centred on: – Swine Flu … Recession … An Bord Snip Nua (for my international readers … a major report published in Ireland by a government appointed body led by an Economist (who I think have even less credibility these days than clairvoyents!) that recommends a pile of cuts in public services across the board) … and a few sweet fairies.

Enjoy … and remember … you can click on any photo and it will get bigger … wish that was true of my bank account!




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