Desire

It’s a word that makes me instantly uncomfortable. 

Perhaps it’s because of my evangelical Christian upbringing. Perhaps it’s just my Irish DNA. Perhaps it’s the reinforced message from the patriarchy that to be a woman and to desire is a bad thing. 

When I first came across Danielle LaPorte and The Desire Map, all my alarm bells rang. What was this woo woo shit that she was spouting? Feelings? Desires? Goals with soul?

Listening to her soothing Canadian drawl on podcasts was very alluring though and I was enamoured with her down to earth approach to ‘wellness’ and ‘light work’ (those phrases though! Ick!) But feelings? Desire?

No, no, no Miss LaPorte, we Irish women don’t have feelings. We learn from a very young age that you cannot do anything substantial if you base it on a woolly thing like feelings.

There are rules. There are morals. There are lines in which you firmly stay put. Feelings muddy the water. Feelings are messy things that spill over and affect other people if you’re not careful. If you have a lot of feelings, you’d better find something productive to do so that you can avoid them or at the very least keep them contained.

Here’s the thing. Feelings are messy but as anyone who has dealt with depression or addiction knows, feelings that aren’t felt and carefully dealt with can become toxic, even carcinogenic.

As women, particularly if you have been brought up in the Christian church, we’ve been told to sublimate our feelings, to sacrifice them on the Altar of Everyone Else. I think this is why as Irish women, we have a very special, very powerful super power;

Passive Aggression.

There’s an old joke that I think is funny but painful at the same time.

How many Irish mothers does it take to change a lightbulb?

‘Ah sure, don’t you be worrying about me, off you go and have fun,

I’ll just sit here in the dark.’

 (c) Anne Taintor

Feelings that aren’t felt and expressed in a healthy way become resentments. Feelings that are ignored and denied become anger.  Feelings are messy but as anyone who has dealt with depression or addiction knows, feelings that aren’t felt and carefully dealt with can become toxic, even carcinogenic.

Behind every desire is a feeling and feelings will lead you to your soul.’

Danielle LaPorte

But what if you could choose how you wanted to feel and in choosing how you wanted to feel, you were able to make choices in your life that lead to deeper sense of fulfillment.

This is where The Desire Map comes in and I’m looking forward to sharing more about it with you in the coming weeks.

If you’d like to hear more, then why not go here to get information on when I’m starting workshops delivered straight to your inbox.

I’m back…with a woof!

Hi there,

I know, it’s been a while. I’m not even going to go into the whole ins and outs and the whys and wherefores of why I’ve not been blogging or vlogging or podcasting. Suffice to say, life.

I wrote the last post ‘How to survive the summer’ and felt really pleased with myself for how I was going to nail creativity and parenting and be able to share my amazing success come September.

Then we added a puppy into the mix…

Everyone told me that having a puppy would be like having a new born baby and I did that scoffing sound (pshaw!!) you make when you’ve already had 3 babies and how could a dog be anything like that. I mean, I won’t be breast feeding for goodness sake!

Yes well, they were wrong. It wasn’t like having a new born baby in the house.

It was worse.

Because a new born baby doesn’t nip and chew and wee all over the floor and run away from you when you know she’s got a piece of lego in her mouth and she’s determined not to let you have it.

Summer 2018 will be forever remembered as the summer we didn’t go anywhere because we couldn’t leave the puppy. It was the summer that the ‘real’ children found the cuteness wonderful until her tiny, innocent, playful puppy teeth grabbed their flesh. It was the summer when all my plans for getting them out of the house and in to nature on lovely walks with the dog were dashed and they spent more time on screens than ever before. Gah!

In fairness, the puppy is fab. She’s a little clever clogs and she’s settled in really well. Yes, it took a lot of adjustment. Yes, some plans had to be shelved but all in all, it was the best idea to get her when we were all at home to mind her and teach her.

We found her through Sophie’s Dog Foster Rescue who don’t have a centre as such but rather a network of foster carers who look after the dogs until their forever home can be found. Our wee pup was found in a hedge with her young mum and 3 siblings when she was two weeks old. A fabulous woman in Antrim took the whole family in and cared for them until the pups were big enough to find homes. We met all four of the litter and our little miss was a firm favourite. We’re delighted that every one of the family have found loving homes. A true happy ever after.

Sure, this all sounds like ‘my dog ate my homework’ but hey, it’s true.

And now we are back into the autumn term with a bang and I have lots of fabulous things to share and one big announcement which subscribers of my newsletter will hear first – so if you want to get ahead of the crowd, sign up!

The children are back at school which means I’ve more time on my hands than I’ve had in nearly 8 years!

I’ve sooo much to share. Stay tuned!

 

Shout Out Friday – Tara Doolan

 

 

When Cerstin Mudiwa emailed to say she was working on a project with an up and coming female director I wanted to know more. Today I got to chat with Tara Doolan who, with her partner Pius McGrath has created Honest Arts, where together they create theatre (writing, directing, designing) that deals with the issues we’re all facing today.

Their latest collaboration is Punt, which runs at The New Theatre in Dublin from 2nd of July for two weeks.

Listen in to our chat and be sure to check out the show if you’re in Dublin over the summer. It’s gathering momentum and is sure to be a good night out.

Honest Arts and The New Theatre present

PUNT

A story of gambling culture and the adventures involved with a life investing in chance

Written and Performed by Pius McGrath

Written and Directed by Tara Doolan

Composed by Aine Doolan

Video content creation by Mario Beck

The New Theatre

43 Essex Street

Temple Bar

Dublin 2

July 2nd – 14th @7.30pm

Opens July 3rd, Preview July 2nd

Tickets EUR 16/13 (conc.)

Booking www.thenewtheatre.com  or 01-6703361

Please note this show is suitable for audiences 14+

 

Shout Out Friday – Go BIG

There was lots to talk about in today’s Shout Out Friday.

Angela Josephine’s new album Daylight went LIVE this morning. Check out her dawn chorus live on Facebook!

You can listen to Angela and I chat about the album on the Strut and Bellow podcast.

Karen Hickey’s solo exhibition Clothed launches tonight at the Signal Arts Centre in Bray, Co. Wicklow, my home town. Definitely worth checking out.

Isabelle Gaborit from Wildfire & Wax is exhibiting as part of As Na Studioeanna at Secret Garden Gallery in Kinvara, Galway.

Lorna Watkins’ exhibition heartfelt will be on later in June at the Hyde Bridge Gallery in Sligo. More details nearer the time but gosh, I love her paintings.

And Mel Wiggins is doing some mighty work with Assembly Gatherings – definitely worth checking her out if you love some soulful, soothing women centred creative community. I feel so excited to be part of her membership circle. We’re all going to do some exciting things together, I can just feel it.

Apologies to my newsletter subscribers, April’s newsletter and ebook are a bit delayed but both will be in your inboxes soon.

It’s a bank holiday weekend here in Northern Ireland so I’m looking forward to chilling with family. Hope you have a great one too.

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The why.

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Never underestimate the power of women, friends.

At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t have imagined that in a mere 4 months I’d have a sell out show on my hands and a demand for it that right now feels daunting considering the size of the cast. But each of the women in the photo above, as well as our director Jo Egan, (not to mention our male assistant director Colm Gorman and two crew members David Willis and Stephen McVicker) have given their time and energy without compensation for this play. The box office receipts for Friday’s show have yet to come in and hopefully there’ll be a small amount for each of us but it’s nothing near what they all should be paid for the work they’ve done.

Friday night was very special. We arrived at the Black Box in the afternoon and walked through some of the play to get adjusted to the more limited performing area. There was no time for a full dress nor technical rehearsal. We hadn’t all been together in the same room since the show in February. We’d managed ad hoc rehearsals working around people’s full time work, child care and family commitments.

At one point, the twelve of us crammed in the tiny dressing room back stage, moments before we started the show, someone said what we were all thinking,

‘Why do we put ourselves through this?’

There was an outburst of nervous laughter, an admission of nausea, a crampy tummy, an irrepressible need to pee and at least one of us asked quietly ‘Do you actually think I can act?’ Someone’s babysitter was not following the plan at home, someone else’s elder child had been left in charge, someone had had to leave work early, someone else had exams looming. We all had other places we could have been that would not have needed us to go out in front of over 100 people and perform a show about vaginas, that would not have needed us to remember lines, overcome fear, expose ourselves to criticism, risk making a mistake and looking foolish.

But we lined up anyway, and on the word from the stage manager, we marched on stage and began;

TVM APRIL‘I bet you’re worried. 

We were worried.

We were worried about vaginas….’

It turned out to be a great show. The bar was raised high and every actress gave her all. There was laughter and tears and sounds of agreement and affirmation. It was with great relief that we bowed to a standing ovation from the audience who had been engaged and respectful throughout. It was good to leave the stage on a high.

At the interval, before we showed excerpts from Eve Ensler’s documentary film and hosted a post show discussion, a woman came up to me and introduced herself. Her name was Karin and she was my contact from Woman’s Aid, to whom we had donated the proceeds of the last show. This was her first time seeing the show and she loved it.

I want you to know,’ she said ‘that all of the money you raised from the show in February went towards creating Northern Ireland’s first rape crisis helpline.’

There it was. The why.

I was approached by a young guy in his twenties who seemed visibly moved. He talked about his mum and how she had instilled in him a respect for women that he was grateful for but that the show had really touched him and made him realise how important this conversation was for men as well as for women. He said he was going through a transition time in his life and had recently moved back to Belfast. He was questioning the model of masculinity he had grown up with and seeing some of its toxicity.

There it was again. The why.

In the post show discussion, a woman rose her hand to share that having been the victim of a violent attack in the past, she had ‘shut up shop’ but that the show had made her think that perhaps it was time for a ‘refurbishment’.

The why.

In the light of recent swinging cuts to arts organisations here in Northern Ireland, and a patronising attitude towards practitioners where we’re accused of being bad at business and incapable of managing our resources, Friday night proved to me how vital and valuable a show like ours can be.

Right in the heart of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, on a Friday night, we packed out a top venue and talked about issues central to women’s experiences; menstruation, birth, body shaming, the male gaze, sexuality, violence and rape. At one point two audience members left after collapsing in giggles during the monologue inspired by the rape of women as a weapon of war during the Balkan conflict in the 90s. We later discovered that each of them had been victims of rape and that the piece in question had triggered a nervous reaction that manifested as laughter, a very common reaction to trauma.

With the #metoo movement highlighting just how prevalent sexual assault is and with numerous women all over the world rising to say enough, there was never a more important time to talk about these things in the public arena. We are proud to be taking the conversation out of the kitchens and behind the closed doors and into the heart of public discourse. Come with us as we continue our journey.

The Vagina Monologues will be returning to the Lyric Theatre in Belfast for two nights on the 1st and 2nd of June. Tickets will soon be available from the Lyric box office. Spread the word and sign up for the email to keep updated on news about the show.

 

 

 

 

 

Shout Out Friday – Angela Josephine

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I’m so thrilled to be able to share with you this wonderful recording artist who I had the pleasure of talking to back in October of last year. Her new album Daylight – Stone, Bright, Solid Vol 2 is out on May 4th and her latest single, Got to Believe, which she sings on the podcast, releases today. You can hear the single here. And pre-order the entire album here.

Based in North Michigan, Angela is a folk musician and songwriting who began her career in 2002 and has since recorded three albums. She has been compared to “a modern, female Nick Drake” (David Faulkner, CRD), while Northern Express reviewer Kristi Kates cites “a more jaded Sarah McLachlan.” She’s going to be performing next month here in Belfast as part of Pete Rollins’ WAKE Festival so I’ll be sure to keep you informed of details nearer the time.

Angela’s album Daylight is at once a folk-rock opera and personal exploration. A project spanning seven years, from its demo inception in a pole barn in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (2011) to a fully produced album recorded in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan (producer Chris Bathgate) (2018), Daylight delves into themes of darkness and light .  The cinematic prelude “This Light” invites one into an expansive landscape that unfold with unexpected beauty and lush discovery, culminating in the haunting finale “Face to the Wind”.

Check out the video for “This Light” here. For more information on Angela and her tour dates.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud and sign up for the newsletter to be the first to hear about new events and opportunities. 

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Shout Out Friday – Vicky Blades

Here’s the video of my Shout Out Friday chat with Vicky Blades. Details of the event she mentions, Investing in me, in Belfast next month are below.

 

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Investing in Me – An insightful and inspiring day of mindfulness, coaching and learning to support good mental well-being for those involved in the Arts in NI.
We will be hosting a variety of workshops, classes and talks on the subject of Resilience and Self-Care. Come along and learn practical tips on how to build self care practices in to your life, including yoga, mindfulness, EFT and coaching. 

12 April at 10:00–16:00

Accidental Theatre   12-13 Shaftesbury Square, BT2 7DB Belfast

Other helpful links:

Aware NI

Inspire Well Being

Theatre NI

Lifeline  Dial 0808 808 8000 All of the people who take calls from this number are trained counsellors and there is free crisis counselling for anyone who has the need.

Samaritans – you can call 116123 from anywhere in the UK or Ireland for free and you’ll get an compassionate voice on the other end.

But don’t forget if you or anyone you know is in immediate danger from self harm, or in need of urgent medical attention, please call the emergency services on 999.

 

Shout Out Friday – Amy de Bhrún

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I first came across Amy de Bhrún when I heard about her through her sister, actress and singer Fiona Browne. My sister and I went to see her one woman show The Female of the Species at the Mayfield Restaurant in Dublin a couple of years ago. She was funny, poignant and gorgeous, clearly a talented actress and a terrific writer to boot.

Hopping between London and Dublin, film work and a thriving career as a voice over artist, Amy has diligently set about creating a model of being an actor that has an autonomy and independence that is seldom achieved.

Now about to take her new show I See You, inspired by the life of trailblazer Lady Mary Heath to the Theatre Upstairs in Dublin this May, Amy has created a crowdfunding campaign so that she can properly finance the venture. People seldom think about the cost of doing a show and assume that we make theatre for the love of it, which we do, but we also have to eat and pay the rent.

Amy’s aim is to raise €4000 which will go towards paying her actors, director and crew. costume, set and promotional materials. This is not a huge amount of money and she’s almost there! Let’s get behind her and get her and Lady Mary Heath’s story heard.

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Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Photo on 05-02-2016 at 12.36 #2Two years ago today I launched the podcast and blog at the Waking the Feminist event in Dublin for International Women’s Day. I invited my friend Noni Stapleton to be my first interviewee and we mostly cackled through our chat. My vision for the podcast has grown and expanded and only now am I beginning to get the chance to create what I’ve always hoped for the site.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be writing a series of posts on keeping creative. I went back to my conversation with Noni and took notes and came up with four things that I think were key to her creativity and mine. The best way to come along for the ride is to listen to our conversation and follow along as I unpack it. Then we’ll catch up with Noni again in a few weeks and find out what’s been happening with her and her play Charolais in the intervening couple of years (spoiler alert: a LOT has happened!).

I’ve lined up conversations with some other inspiring women who I know will have a lot to offer to us.

So stay tuned and if you’re interested in getting the whole series as an ebook at the end, sign up for my newsletter. Subscribers will also get to hear first about a couple of upcoming events I’m involved with. The newsletter goes out next week so be sure not to miss out.

There’s no Live Friday Shoutout tomorrow as I’m at a conference for a couple of days but check back in next week when I’ve got a great chat lined up with a wonderful artist who you’re going to want to get behind!

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, so you never miss an episode.

In the meantime, keep struttin’ and bellowin’!

 

Shout Out Friday – replay

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Here’s the low down on how our sell out show The Vagina Monologues that played at the Lyric theatre on the 25th of February came to be.

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to get the latest information on upcoming shows and events first.