Be Happy

Have you seen the Yarn Bomb?  If your spirits need a little lift, or even if they don’t, take a walk down through the Liffey Linear Park and marvel at the Yarn Bomb.  The park is always a beautiful place, an oasis of calm in the midst of our town and lovingly maintained by the volunteers of Newbridge Tidy Towns.  But this month as part of the June Fest 2018 the park has been transformed.  Each tree holds a surprise, from the bumble bees to the snakes, the bird cages and the world cup tree.  Every year the display gets better.  A special word of thanks to the Kildare Yarn Bombers.  It is a unique exhibition and I would urge everyone to visit the park before June Fest 2018 ends.

Sometimes all we need is the simple things to trigger happy emotions.  The yarn bomb is joyous and colourful and automatically makes you smile.  Songs can have that effect on your emotions too, the first ones that spring to mind are, ‘Be Happy’ Bob Marley, ‘Pencil full of lead’ Paulo Nutini, or ‘Because I’m happy’ Pharrell Williams.  Does anyone remember the rendition of ‘Because I’m happy’ by the girls from the Holy Family School?  Do those songs lift your spirits and set your feet tapping?

Courtesy of youtube.com

I think I might make myself a playlist on my phone and set it to play every morning immediately after my alarm so that the first few minutes of every day are full of uplifting, happy music.  That would have to be better for my mood than listening to Morning Ireland on the radio.

Sometimes we get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of everyday life.  Work, school, relationships all take their toll.  Problems with family, problems with health, problems with making ends meet, all fight for space in our thoughts and we can get overwhelmed.   We overthink our problems and forget to count our blessings.  We forget to just breathe and take time out for ourselves, to just take pleasure in the simple things.

So today and every day, take a walk in the park, read that book, listen to happy music and overall be kind to yourself.

Advertisements

Google it!

My youngest turns 20 in June.  I can’t remember life without him in it, but I feel like those twenty years have gone by in a flash.  They say as you get older the years go quicker.  Take my word for it, that is very true.  The Ireland of 20 years ago bears no reflection to the one we live in now.

mobile phone cartoon

In 1998 I didn’t have a mobile phone, neither did any of my friends or family.  For entertainment, we watched TV, usually the home stations RTE1, RTE2 and TG4.  In September 1998 they got a new rival.  TV3, an independent, commercial alternative.  For English channels, we were dependent on cable television provider Chorus, but in October digital satellite television came to Ireland, operated by Sky Digital and opened up a whole new world to us.

1998

We flocked to the cinemas, we still do, but in 1998 our cinemas were mainly single screens and locally owned.  We went there to watch Armageddon, Saving Private Ryan, Godzilla, There’s something about Mary, Deep Impact and Shakespeare in Love.  We brought the kids to see A Bug’s life and Mulan.

Mary McAleese was our president and Bertie Ahern was our Taoiseach with Mary Harney as Tánaiste.  The Celtic Tiger hadn’t yet been born but the twinkle was there in Bernie’s eye.  As a nation, we were sure about our future in Europe and our place in the world, due in no small measure to the Good Friday Agreement, the most significant event of 1998 for the people of Ireland, north and south.  It was the promise of peace, the building blocks for a new era.  The people of Ireland endorsed it by referendum a month later with the majority on both parts of this island voting in favour and Ireland looked forward instead of back with a new confidence in ourselves.

On Saturday 29th August that confidence was shaken by the dreadful news of a massive bomb in Omagh.  29 people died that morning and hundreds were injured.  It was a day which will scar our memories for years to come.  But perseverance and hard work on all sides kept the agreement on track.  Bill Clinton came to visit in September and we gave him a hero’s welcome, along with Tony Blair, when they spoke to the people of Omagh and to the whole island.  Then in October 1998, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to John Hume and David Trimble.  The Norwegian Nobel Committee expresses the hope that the foundations which have now been laid will not only lead to lasting peace in Northern Ireland, but also serve to inspire peaceful solutions to other religious, ethnic and national conflicts around the world.’ 

nobel peace prize

Yes, 1998 was a momentous year for the island of Ireland culminating with the demise of the punt on 31st December and the launch of the Euro on the first day of the new year.

But on the world stage, the most momentous event of 1998, was the formation in California of ‘Google Inc.’  It is hard to believe that 20 years ago we had never heard of Google.  It is now listed in the Oxford dictionary as a verb, i.e., ‘search for information about someone or something on the internet using the search engine Google.’ I googled that information!  How else would you access information on practically anything in this universe and beyond it?  It is an amazing resource, utilised by millions of people every day.  Google’s European headquarters is in Dublin, employing over 7,000 people.  Don’t know about you, but twenty years ago I wouldn’t have thought it possible that any internet company could employ that number of people, especially not in little old Dublin.

google-clip-art-2018-2

Immediate access to information has changed the world we live in.  If we want to know something, instead of weeks of research at the library or other research centres, we now ‘google’ our query and get immediate answers and thousands more questions.  The trick is to decipher which information is relevant and correct.

We have hundreds of television channels yet watch only a select few.  Currently one of the most popular programs is one which stars ordinary people watching television, (if you haven’t yet experienced the humanity of Gogglebox, indulge, it is unique).

We have the highest mobile phone ownership in Europe so we can keep in constant contact with each other, yet how often have you seen groups of teenagers starring into their phones and forgetting to communicate with each other.  In our hurry to explore new methods of communication, have we forgotten the joy of human interaction?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google it!

My youngest turns 20 in June.  I can’t remember life without him in it, but I feel like those twenty years have gone by in a flash.  They say as you get older the years go quicker.  Take my word for it, that is very true.  The Ireland of 20 years ago bears no reflection to the one we live in now.

mobile phone cartoon

In 1998 I didn’t have a mobile phone, neither did any of my friends or family.  For entertainment, we watched TV, usually the home stations RTE1, RTE2 and TG4.  In September 1998 they got a new rival.  TV3, an independent, commercial alternative.  For English channels, we were dependent on cable television provider Chorus, but in October digital satellite television came to Ireland, operated by Sky Digital and opened up a whole new world to us.

1998

We flocked to the cinemas, we still do, but in 1998 our cinemas were mainly single screens and locally owned.  We went there to watch Armageddon, Saving Private Ryan, Godzilla, There’s something about Mary, Deep Impact and Shakespeare in Love.  We brought the kids to see A Bug’s life and Mulan.

Mary McAleese was our president and Bertie Ahern was our Taoiseach with Mary Harney as Tánaiste.  The Celtic Tiger hadn’t yet been born but the twinkle was there in Bernie’s eye.  As a nation, we were sure about our future in Europe and our place in the world, due in no small measure to the Good Friday Agreement, the most significant event of 1998 for the people of Ireland, north and south.  It was the promise of peace, the building blocks for a new era.  The people of Ireland endorsed it by referendum a month later with the majority on both parts of this island voting in favour and Ireland looked forward instead of back with a new confidence in ourselves.

On Saturday 29th August that confidence was shaken by the dreadful news of a massive bomb in Omagh.  29 people died that morning and hundreds were injured.  It was a day which will scar our memories for years to come.  But perseverance and hard work on all sides kept the agreement on track.  Bill Clinton came to visit in September and we gave him a hero’s welcome, along with Tony Blair, when they spoke to the people of Omagh and to the whole island.  Then in October 1998, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to John Hume and David Trimble.  The Norwegian Nobel Committee expresses the hope that the foundations which have now been laid will not only lead to lasting peace in Northern Ireland, but also serve to inspire peaceful solutions to other religious, ethnic and national conflicts around the world.’ 

nobel peace prize

Yes, 1998 was a momentous year for the island of Ireland culminating with the demise of the punt on 31st December and the launch of the Euro on the first day of the new year.

But on the world stage, the most momentous event of 1998, was the formation in California of ‘Google Inc.’  It is hard to believe that 20 years ago we had never heard of Google.  It is now listed in the Oxford dictionary as a verb, i.e., ‘search for information about someone or something on the internet using the search engine Google.’ I googled that information!  How else would you access information on practically anything in this universe and beyond it?  It is an amazing resource, utilised by millions of people every day.  Google’s European headquarters is in Dublin, employing over 7,000 people.  Don’t know about you, but twenty years ago I wouldn’t have thought it possible that any internet company could employ that number of people, especially not in little old Dublin.

google-clip-art-2018-2

Immediate access to information has changed the world we live in.  If we want to know something, instead of weeks of research at the library or other research centres, we now ‘google’ our query and get immediate answers and thousands more questions.  The trick is to decipher which information is relevant and correct.

We have hundreds of television channels yet watch only a select few.  Currently one of the most popular programs is one which stars ordinary people watching television, (if you haven’t yet experienced the humanity of Gogglebox, indulge, it is unique).

We have the highest mobile phone ownership in Europe so we can keep in constant contact with each other, yet how often have you seen groups of teenagers starring into their phones and forgetting to communicate with each other.  In our hurry to explore new methods of communication, have we forgotten the joy of human interaction?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The head of Oliver Cromwell, War and Baptism

Well done to the organisers of June Fest 2018, taking place in Newbridge over three weeks.  june festOver 60 events, music, drama, literature, yarn bomb (more about that later) and the Military Seminar last weekend.  Thank you to Mario Corrigan, James Durney and everyone involved in the Seminar.  It was informative, fun and interesting and I learned some interesting snippets of information such as the mystery of Cromwell’s head.  A little over a year after his death, from natural causes in 1658, Oliver Cromwell’s body was dug up by Charles the 2nd, tried for regicide, found guilty and hung, beheaded, with his head placed on a spike outside parliament.  Go figure!  The whereabouts of his body is unknown, but his head is in Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge, his alma mater, possibly in an unmarked grave but certainly not for public viewing.

The debate on Friday evening was thought provoking.  A panel discussion and public forum discussing the practicalities and challenges of commemoration history, which probably raised more questions than it answered but it was good to hear the subject debated.

I was surprised so many people attend the Seminar on such a beautiful weekend.  For the third weekend in a row, the weather was warm and sunny.  After spending Friday evening and all-day Saturday indoors, we took full advantage of the glorious weather on Sunday and drove to Greystones, County Wicklow.  After strolling around the harbour, we took the Dart to Bray.  Himself and hundreds of others took the cliff walk back to Greystones, while I took the Dart.  A short, picturesque journey.

Greystones 2

 

Greystones was busy with families and couples out enjoying the sunshine.  I took a rest on a marble bench on a cliff top overlooking the sea.

 

The view out to sea was mesmerising.  Blue sky with feather clouds fading to a hazy horizon.  The cliff top was between the harbour to my left and the beach spread out below me to the right.  I could hear the waves whooshing off the beach, tumbling over the stones, the kids shrieking and laughing.  It was the cheering that caught my attention.  A group of people at the edge of the waves were cheering as two men stood waist deep in the sea.  In between the two men stood an older woman, fully clothed, who they each held by her arms and behind her back, as they dipped her backwards and submerged her in the water to rapturous applause from the small crowd of approximately 12 people watching.  Cameras flashed and there was laughing and cheering.  An image of John the Baptist sprang into my head and I wondered if I had just witnessed a baptism.  The men helped her out of the water and her friends hugged her and cheered and one of them wrapped her in a towel.  I was too far away to hear what they said or in what language, but their joy was evident and uplifting.

Maybe it was a baptism, maybe it wasn’t but that’s how it appeared to me, looking on from my clifftop vantage point and it somehow lifted my spirits.  I loved the idea of an adult washing away their sins, cleansing the spirit of any badness, refreshing their spirit, the same way as the sea water refreshes the body.  Is it possible to wash the slate clean, to start over with new vigour, with joy, with hope for the future?

June and Gemstones

Named after Juno, the Roman Goddess of marriage and wife of Jupiter, June is the first month of summer.  So far, so good, the weather has been lovely.

summer-clip-art-2018-15

June is a busy month in our household with three birthdays in the immediate family.   I find it oddly appropriate that June is one of only two months that have three birthstones to choose from, Moonstone, Alexandrite and Pearl.

pearl-alexandrite-moonstone

Moonstone looks shimmery, like moonlight on water, hence its name.  It is associated with lunar mystery and magic with some believing that its balancing energies mirror our natural biological rhythms making it the ultimate fertility crystal by sparking passion in new lovers and reuniting old ones.  In some countries it is known as the Travellers Stone, protecting travellers at night and was once used to treat insomnia and sleepwalking and to induce restful sleep.

Alexandrite is rare and expensive.  Originally discovered in an emerald mine in Russia on the day that the future Czar Alexander came of age, it is unique in that it changes colour from green to red, the national colours of Russia and so became Russia’s official gemstone.  These days most alexandrite comes from Brazil, although not of the same quality as the original Russian find, its scarcity makes it more valuable than even rubies or diamonds.  It is believed to strengthen intuition, aid creativity and inspire imagination.  In Russia it is considered a gemstone of good luck, bringing healing energy and joy.

Pearls are the only gemstones made by living creatures.  The rarest pearls are made in the wild, but the majority of pearls sold today are cultured or farmed.  The finest stones have a reflective lustre, that makes them appear creamy white with an iridescent sheen.  Pearls have been used for jewellery since time began.  The oldest known pearl jewellery was discovered in the sarcophagus of a Persian Princess who died in 520 BC.  The ancient Greeks believed pearls were the tears of the Gods.  Ancient Japanese folklore says that pearls were created from the tears of mythical creatures like mermaids and nymphs.

But my favourite is Hindu folklore which explains that dewdrops fell from the moon into the sea and Krishna picked one for his daughter on her wedding day.

pearl

Is that why it became traditional for a bride to wear pearls on her wedding day?

Is it really you?

Do you ever look at your newsfeed on social media and feel just a tinge of envy about your social media friends?  Everyone appears to have their life sorted.  The photos are happy, photos of family, of friends, of places and the niggling thought crosses your mind, everyone seems to be enjoying their lives so much.  They all look so well, so content with their lot.  And somehow your life doesn’t measure up.

stop-1013961_1280Well, stop right there.  Just remember that your social media friends post the photos they want to share, the photos that flatter them, the events that made them happy or proud, the events that touch them.  Just the same as you do.  Our lives on social media are very different from the life we live in reality.  We just need to remind ourselves of that fact on a regular basis.

We also use social media to rant, to complain, to rage against the government, against forces of nature, against evil at home and abroad.  That is one of the most important aspects of social media.  It can be used as a force for good.

REL-SocialMedia These days we are bombarded with information, the trick is to decipher which information is impartial, honest and correct.  Images can be distorted; news reports are written by human beings.  And no, I am not a conspiracy theorist.  But if five people witness an accident, there will be five different points of view on that accident as each witness brings their own experience into their situation.  That’s not a conspiracy, that’s human nature.

Those of us who are old enough to remember a time before social media have a responsibility to teach those young people who have grown up with that intrusion in their lives, that everything they see or hear on social media is not real.  That information can be airbrushed, doctored, or it can be genuine.  We need to find the tools to teach them how to decipher what is real from what is not.

So the next time you see that photo of those people looking amazing, just think back to your last post and how amazing your life looked to everyone on your friend’s list.