Shout Out – Mel Wiggins

About this time last year, an artist friend from Dublin posted a photograph of a gathering she was at with a bunch of creative women. They were in an orchard, wrapped in scarves and blankets. They were smiling, laughing, connecting. And they were in Northern Ireland!

I did a bit of digging and found out that Assembly was the brainchild of one Mel Wiggins and the more I read about this amazing woman, the more I wanted to be her friend. So, and I don’t know to this day how I had the balls, but I emailed her and said ‘I think we should be friends!’ And thankfully she didn’t think I was a loo-laa.

Mel has a passion for women, justice and sustainability and she lives out her passion in such a beautiful way, making stunning spaces for others to shine along with her.

I’m just finishing up her Movements online group coaching course and it has been transformative for me. She is a fierce and gentle facilitator who brings out the best in people.

She is the founder of Freedom Acts, a charity that raises awareness around issues of human trafficking in Northern Ireland. Freedom Acts has just teamed up with Aerende, the life-improving homewares store to make these stunning linen pouches. Every part of the chain of making aims to support and help women thrive through working with different organisations in each area.

Go make a cup of tea and sit down with us as we chat women, creativity, the Enneagram (?! look it up!), Assembly and Movements. It’s a terrific chat and I’m delighted to share it with you.

Head to iTunes to subscribe to the podcast or you can also listen in Soundcloud. Or click play right here.

To find out more about Assembly community and the wonderful gatherings Mel hosts go here.

Click on Freedom Acts for more information on what they’re doing in Northern Ireland.

To buy a stunning ethically made linen pouch bag that supports women in difficult circumstances, check out Aerende.

Or to just have a look at how fabulous Mel is, check out her website and maybe sign up for her free e-course A Simpler Start.

Free and Clear

I used to hate Hallowe’en.

The scary masks, the fake blood, the over-sugared children – it really is the stuff of nightmares. I was brought up in a home that didn’t celebrate Hallowe’en. We were taught that it was linked to the occult and therefore was evil. Ghouls, ghosts, witches, spells and scary stories were banned in my house. It wasn’t even the consumer, E number fest that it is today when I was growing up and let’s be honest, if anything is evil it’s the amount of sugar in haled by small kids in one evening.

Then in October 2016, I went to the Cliffs of Moher Retreat centre where I attended a Sovereign Woman Samhain retreat with yoga teacher and life coach Mari Kennedy. I was at the beginning of deep shift in consciousness and was beginning to emerge from the spiritual box I’d built for myself.

Mari incorporated yoga practice, Sacred Feminine teaching and the Celtic Calendar to explore issues of emotional and spiritual growth in women. To say I was out of my comfort zone would be an understatement. I was deeply invested in a patriarchal religious system while, at the same time, outgrowing the structures that surrounded me. I craved a connection with a more feminine spiritual authority but was stuck in the ‘good girl’ role of not wanting to rock the boat.

There was lots about that weekend that was transformative but the thing that resonated most strongly and which I’ve carried with me since is the profound importance of seasons and how the Celtic Calendar can be helpful to understand the ebb and flow of life.

Mari used Dolores Whelan’s excellent book Ever Ancient, Ever New as her textbook. She taught that the Celts charted the year by four seasons and were goverened by the lunar cycles. The four seasons are Samhain (winter), Imbolc (spring), Bealtaine (summer) and Lughnasa (autumn). Each season corresponds can correspond to a stage in life, a stage in a creative process and has connection with either lunar/feminine or solar/masculine energy. (I’d highly recommend getting Dolores’ book if you’re interested in further reading as it’s so accessible and engaging.)

Samhain (which incidentally is the Irish word for November) is the beginning of the Celtic year. In ancient Celtic culture, the three day Samhain festival was a pause for breath between the old year and the new, a time when people could relax after all the work of the harvest and preparation for the winter. It was a ‘time out of time’ when the veils between the seen and unseen were thought to be particularly thin, when ancestors were remembered and honoured. This is where we get the name All Hallow’s Eve, because 1st of November is still the day when we honour the souls (hallows) of those gone before. It was a time when normal societal rules were relaxed and tricks and pranks played on neighbours and friends.

It initiated the time of letting go, and allowing the body, soul and the land to rest in the darkness before the sun began it’s strengthening in the spring.

Understanding the true origins of this weird festival we call Hallowe’en, helped me reclaim it for myself and I now embrace the energy of fun and laughter, while at the same time using the time to reflect on what I need to let go in my life in order to continue to grow. It’s allowed me to keep a better physical rhythm, understanding that my body needs more rest during the cold months, more nourishing warm food and snuggles by the fire. More importantly, this is the time for the gaimos or feminine energy, the archetype of the crone in all her old age and wisdom.

It’s therefore the perfect time to take stock and reflect on all that the previous year has brought and start to gently feel out what the next will bring once energy is renewed ready for the spring. And with that in mind, I’ve decided to offer my first introduction to Desire Mapping as a licensed facilitator. (Whoop whoop!)

Starting on the 5th of November, I’m offering FREE & CLEAR – a prequel program to Danielle LaPorte’s highly praised and well-loved Desire Mapping process for soulful goal-setting. This is guided introspection to look at where you’re at in your life, what’s in your heart of hearts, what’s rubbing your spirit the wrong way, and how you define “free”—before you create your great plans. With that kind of clarity, manifestation becomes a super- charged process. And you can really put your Soul into your goals.

FREE & CLEAR incorporates six daily live videos and worksheets, private Facebook group and the chance to win a gorgeous 2019 Weekly Desire Map Planner (valued at £40).

The best news is that it won’t cost you a penny. This is a free offering, a taster if you will, to get you thinking about where you are so that you can begin to think about where you want to be.

The week of the 5th of November is also the week of the new moon, the official start of the Samhain season, so it’s a perfect opportunity to let your hair down, take some time out and snuggle into your soul’s embrace.

Sign up now for the course and let’s get Free and Clear together.

Aspire

Ever since I saw Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, I’ve wanted to be an actress. I can’t remember what age I was but it left a strong impression and a kind of ‘aha’ moment, that this was what I was going to be when I grew up.

In the film, Streep plays the forlorn and melancholic red haired beauty in 19th century England, who becomes fixated on a man (played by the tortured and stunning Jeremy Irons) who tries to help her and who, despite her reputation as a ‘fallen’ woman who had had an affair with a French soldier, falls in love with her. But she also plays the American actress making the film of the story who has an affair with her co-star. It was the fact that Streep plays two characters in the same film and with two different accents that was the light bulb moment. Doing voices, using my imagination to create characters was what I did very naturally already. There was a use for this gift, I reasoned, in acting.

And so, I aspired to become the ‘Irish Meryl Streep’.

I didn’t do too badly for a while. I got roles that enabled me to play characters with different accents, I got to play characters with complex stories. I’ve had a small measure of success as an actress. I got to work with Jeremy Irons’ wife Sinead Cusack and have his son Sam do my headshots, so I guess I’m a couple of degrees away from La Grande Dame du Cinema but I’m a far cry from achieving my goal.

If anyone deserves the title of ‘Irish Meryl Streep’, it’s the stunning actress Saoirse Ronan who I love to watch almost as much as the great actress herself.

The dictionary definition of the verb, ‘to aspire’ is

To direct one’s hopes or ambitions towards achieving something.

And it comes from the French word aspirer meaning to breathe.

Our hopes and ambitions can become the air we breathe. When we have a goal to strive for, it can become all-consuming. There’s not a thing wrong with ambition, indeed I’d like to see more women speak about their dreams, visions and ambitions but it’s really important that we direct our energies toward something that is going to be ultimately for our good and the good of those around us.

If I’d been determined to have ‘becoming the Irish Meryl Streep’ as the end goal of my life, if that had been my life-breath, then I think I’d be a fairly embittered, jealous and dissatisfied person right now. And, if I’m truly honest, I have wasted time and energy over the years coveting other people’s success and bemoaning my perceived lack of it.

What was engaging about seeing Meryl Streep in that film all those years ago was seeing someone thrive and excel at what they did. Seeing her switch from playing the frail and romantic red haired English woman to the autonomous, modern American actress. Here was a woman who was really good at what she did, and getting to do it as a job and also getting to reflect on the role, the industry, the role of women within the very story of the film itself. Her talent was recognised, she was seen.

The feeling of getting to do something you’re good at, getting to do work that you love, of being  seen, that’s what I really wanted. And there’s a really important differentiation to make at this point; there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to being recognised for your gifts and talents. It’s only when that core desired feeling isn’t met that the ego will turn to attention seeking and we make choices that are not in our soul’s best interest.

If all I wanted was to become the ‘Irish Meryl Streep’, I might have made choices that diminished my spirit. In knowing that what I really aspire to is to use my gifts, get to do what I’m good at and be seen, then I can direct my energy on working on my craft, becoming someone people enjoy working with, being professional in every aspect of career. But I can also derive satisfaction from writing a blog post and having a good friend write and say ‘I liked that, well done.’ I can get the same feeling when I make a meal that results in my children’s empty plates. I don’t need to be a famous, award winning actress to feel like a success. I don’t need that to feel enough.

When I’m on a stage, or a set, I feel more at home in myself than anywhere else. I love it! I love the energy that zings between me and the audience. I love the electricity that ripples between the other actors and I when we are being our very best. I aspire to being the best I can when I’m given the opportunity to play a character. But I don’t need to rely on it to feel whole. My desire can be fulfilled in other ways that allow my spirit to soar and my soul to breathe.

And for that I’m very grateful.