Category: lifestyle

The ICA and Me – Great way to make friends

ica imageThe Irish Country Woman’s Association (ICA) has been going for 105 years.  I heard about it soon after I arrived in Ireland, but never got around to joining, mostly due the fact that I was living far out in the country.  I can honestly I wish I had joined years ago.

A week after moving to Westport I saw a little piece in the local paper about ICA.  I picked up the phone and got straight through to our chairwoman Ann – and a few days later, I joined the ICA family.

Just recently my son had two work related social occasions.  I excitedly asked him what he had learnt.  I was expecting to hear about the power of twitter, or the something new to do with gaming.  His answer surprised me.  ‘More than anything, I  learnt that I can walk into a room full of strangers and act like I can fit it’.

I think that when I moved to Westport this is exactly what I had to do.  I am a very bubbly outgoing person, but it is still hard to start over and make new friends.

Joining the Westport ICA Guild was one of the best things I ever did.  I walked into a room full of  fabulous ladies who have now become friends.  I was welcomed warmly and I have never for a minute felt like I was a stranger.

I learnt loads of new skills including how to crochet, and I was given an opportunity to share my own crafting skills, but more than anything I have learnt about life.  About the town where I live, and about the lives of my ICA friends.

I think a lot of people don’t really know about the ICA.  Ask me out on a Tuesday night and my standard answer will be – sorry, I have ICA.  I get some strange looks and questions about what we actually do. It is a lot more than knitting I can tell you!

Yes, there are craft skills that are shared but there are also other activities such as quiz nights, sporty evenings, charity activities and visiting speakers.  Mostly though ICA is about people.  About making friends and connecting with the lives of others.  All ICA meetings end with a good natter over tea – a truly special time and not to be missed.

In some of my other blog posts I have talked about balance.  ICA balances my life.  It is a commitment to attend on a Tuesday night, and that is important in itself.  It gets you out and gets you motivated to say farewell to the TV and the sofa for a few hours.   Many evenings I have walked home still giggling away at something that has been shared.

Thank you Westport ICA – you are a great bunch of ladies and I am super proud to be a member.

Almost every country has a version of ICA – I would encourage anyone to join – it is the support of fabulous woman who quietly work away doing amazing work.  Think of the now famous ‘Calender Girls’.  The aim of the ICA is to provide a welcoming and fun organisation which offers support, friendship, personal development, education and live long learning.  It has certainly done exactly that for me.

The photos in this article are of the Federation meeting held here in Westport.  The craft display was an amazing display of work completed by members, and the cake display was a work of art and tasted even more delicious than it looked.

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to leave a comment if you have your own woman’s group stories you would like to share.

Kerry xx

 

Getting my life into balance

Balloons in a box fabuliciousfifty(3)

 

The concept isn’t unique, but it is something that I have adapted for my own use and how I try to keep myself  in balance.

2012 was all about balance for me.  I started with one inflated balloon in the box a few partly shrivelled ones, and some that had almost no air in them at all.

So the basic idea is that you have 7 balloons – each one represents an area of your life (in my head these balloons are all different colours) – all these balloons have to fit into a box.  So, if one balloon is over inflated, the others must shrink to fit.

Now of course  it is impossible to get them all even, but the idea is to strive for balance.

The 7 balloons are :

  1. Family
  2. Spirituality
  3. Friends
  4. Work
  5. Health
  6. Hobbies
  7. Relationships/Love

There are many theories that talk about the areas of our lives that we need to master.  My thoughts are not that sophisticated.  Simply an idea that I fixated on during the time when I was striving for balance.

When I started  work was the biggest balloon of all.  I think that perhaps I threw myself into work, to avoid thinking about other things.  I was running my own business and as any entrepreneur will know this is quite consuming.  It had come to a point where work, friends, social life, health, and hobbies had all become rolled into one.  Not really a healthy state.  This was a big balloon.

Although I had a wonderful relationship with my son, and I was lucky enough to have one of my sisters living close by, the family balloon was sadly deflated.  To be honest I think that I had forgotten how important family was.  I was having problems in my marriage, and my close family lived miles away.  Through the year, I worked towards rebuilding and analysing the relationships in my life.  It is extremely sad when you realise that you are better off letting things go, but then it is hugely uplifiting to rebuild relationships.

If you think about it your sisters (and brothers) are your first friends.  Re-establishing a true friendship with my oldest sister has been such a ray of sunshine in my life.  We work at it our relationship and I consider both my sisters true friends.   I can honestly say that despite my separation I have moved toward re-inflating the family balloon.  I need not say that at this time the love balloon would have been hard to find in the box.

My health was at an all time low.  I had received diagnosis after diagnosis and I was terribly unfit.  I think that this was one of the biggest wake-up calls and learning how to pay attention to my health and give this balloon priority was a huge part of getting my life into balance.  Although I reached the end of 2012 with better health, this remains a priority.  The health balloon for us all is something that needs to be constantly monitored.  I always need to keep my eye on the ball from a health perspective, and yes, sometimes this balloon gets forgotten in the bottom of the box.

My spiritual life and beliefs are not something I am very vocal about.  It is a deep and personal part of my life.  It is sad however that when we go to a dark place this is when we need to be in touch with our spiritual self.  Meditation and prayer are a great solace for a life out of balance.  This was yet another balloon lying deflated at the bottom of the box.  It was actually through my walks that I reconnected.  As yes, bubbly Kerry goes silent and meditates regularly!

Friends are a great joy in my life.  Thankfully this balloon has never really deflated.  When I reflected on my life in 2012 however I did realise that my friend group was very closely linked to work.  I had met some of the most amazing people through crafting.  I will always be so grateful for the friends I made through crafting.  I met some amazing people who will always be in my life.  I do believe however that a good diverse bunch of friends makes you truly rich.  I am proud to have friends from 18 to 80 plus from all works of life.  Thank you for being my friends  – it means everything that this balloon remains inflated.

Hobbies or pastimes is balloon that is more important that we often think.  It is important to have fun times and hobbies help us explore and learn about all sorts of things.  I used to craft and paint as a hobby.  When I opened my shop, my hobbies became my job.  As I have worked towards balancing things out, I have started to enjoy my hobbies, and have even added a few more.  I joined the ICA (Irish Country Woman’s Association) where I have learnt a few new skills and made new friends.  I am of course, back painting and crafting as a hobby, but I know that I need to expand and try new things.  Hill walking perhaps?  Or maybe a spot of history.

 

Thanks for reading and thank you for all the lovely feedback.

 

Kerry

 

 

 

 

Arthritis to Zebra – the A-Z of me

A great idea for bloggers.  Thanks to Danielle LilliWhiteRose for the nomination.  It is a great fun way of taking stock!  I challenge you to do it.

A – Arthritis. It is in my hands, and although I deal with it the best I can, sometimes the pain does get me down.

B – Busy.  I keep myself very busy between my real job, my blog and my craft teaching.

C – Card making.  Teaching card making and craft is something I really enjoy.  It is a great hobby.

D – Diabetes.  Part of my life and my quest for better health and fitness

E – Energy.  I have been told I only have two speeds, go and stop.  Sometimes I have energy and sometimes I don’t

F – Food.  I love cooking and strive to create yummy healthy meals.  Love sharing food too.

G – Girlfriends.  I am so privileged to have some amazing girlfriends in my life.  They are my true wealth

H – Would have to be health.  It is a real struggle for me as I battle with a number of auto-immune conditions.  Keeps me focussed though

I – Inspiration.  It is like food to me.  I get inspired by people, by nature and by random things

J – Jeans – they joy when they fit.  I like to measure my size in different jean sizes!

K – Kindle – I love my little kindle.  Easy to hold and contains hours of escapism.  I have to read – it is like food to me.

L – Laughter. I love to laugh and make people laugh.  Trite but true, laughter is the best medicine

M – Motherhood is so important to me.  Even though my son is grown-up being a mother is the thing I am most proud of.

N – No.  I really need to learn how to say it.  I tend to be a people pleasure and I don’t want to let people down.  As a result I overextend myself – trying to learn moderation.

O – Oranges.  My favourite fruit.  My mom would make oranges in caramel as my birthday treat every year.

P –  Painting.  I love to paint – not sure I am very good at it, but I am happy with a brush in my hand and a day in front of me.

Q – Quiet time.  I am chatty, and bubbly but I really need my along quiet time.  It keeps me sane.

R – Relaxation.  I need to do more of this.  Sometimes I push myself too hard and need to learn how to switch off more.

S – Sex – I have a fascination with the psychology of sex.

T – is for Tea.  I drink far too much of it.  I love it – also love the ceremony of afternoon tea, my favourite is at the G Hotel

U – Untidy.  I am desparately untidy in most instances, and then I have weird quirks of OCD inside my wardrobe where all the tops must hang  together etc.

V – Voluptuous.  Say no more.

W – Writing and walking.  Writing is my passion and walking my goal

X – X-Factor – my guilty pleasure.  Used to have a tiny crush on Simon Cowell (I know!!) until he made rude comments about fat people in the press.

Y – Yellow.  My favourite colour.  It is such a happy colour.  My shop was called Siopa Buí (Irish for Yellow Shop) and my arty name is Kerry Buí

Z – Zebras are my favourite animal.  I think they are the most fashionable animal.  They also have a great sense of community.

Thanks for reading x

I challenge these bloggers to do their own A-Z challenge

Áine McManamon of Social Onya

Kerrie Burke of Bella and Vogue 

Rachel Burke from The Wholesome Nut

Zoe Behan from Day Dreamer Chic

And any other ITWBN member who feel inspired.

The power of rest and relaxation

Rest and relaxation (2)

The importance of a sofa day

I am one of those people who try to pack as much living in as I can.  The one thing I seem to struggle with is how to include rest into this life of mine.  This week I learnt a powerful lesson.

I plan my life and try to pack in as much work, play, socialising and self improvement. I laugh about the fact that I have a real job and my hobby jobs (blogging and crafting).  I know I need to rest but, there is a part of me that simply loves life. The famous line from the Dead Poet’s Society lives in my brain – Seize the day!

I landed up at the doctor this week literally shaking with fatigue.  Four days later I still hadn’t stopped and gave myself a bit of a fright when I realised that I was literally too tired to stand up.  It is scary enough that it took four days for the penny to drop.

The Doctor  kindly explained that people who are dealing with what I am dealing with, couldn’t do what I do. The word she used was comobidity (I had to google it when I got home).  Basically it means dealing with more than one disease at a time.

I suffer from a number of conditions including diabetes, arthritis and pernicious anaemia, all which contribute to my tiredness. Methotrexate treatment doesn’t help either, nor pain which makes me tired too.  There are weeks where I am in pain every day.

Using my rational mind I can understand why we need to rest, however, I find it very hard to do.  I just have this burning need to pack as much life in as I can.  This week I learnt a hard lesson.  I pushed myself until I literally stopped.

So today, a Sunday I have rested.  I wanted to share a few lessons that I have revisited some thoughts about rest that I need to remember.

  1. We all need to rest.  Don’t forget that.
  2. True rest is for the mind, the body, the spirit and emotions.
  3. It is ok to switch your phone off and take time out.
  4. A TV marathon never killed anyone
  5. Meditation is a mighty powerful form of rest
  6. If you can, prepare for your day of rest by stocking up on snack (healthy is good, but a little indulgence isn’t the ned of the world either.
  7. Drink lots of water – it gives your system a rest
  8. An early night is a good idea
  9. Listen to your body
  10. Spend a little of your rest time contemplating the good things in your life.  Your friendship circle, your beautiful home and the joy of a day where you can simply do nothing.

I am sure that my day of rest will set up for the rest of the week.  All I need to do now is remember to include rest in my schedule.  Please feel free to share, especially if you know people who forget the importance of rest and relaxation.

Kerry xx

Take the path that challenges you

 

Take the path that challenges you (2)

A new series on my little blog.  A quotation every Wednesday.  A combination of my love of photography and my love of words.

Take the path that challenges you.

There are days when I just want things to be easy, but I know that I need challenges to grow.

When I do take the path that challenges me, be it on my fitness journey, or my career, or just my life’s journey, it is always worth it.

That sense of achievement knowing that I have challenged myself and overcome.

Happy Wednesday and thanks for stopping by.

Kerry xx

Online friends are real friends – especially ITWBN bloggers

 

itwbn

There is some debate online as to whether online friends are real friends.

I am going to come right out and say that these are real friends.  And this, to me is the theme of the Into the West Blogger Network (ITWBN)

Yesterday I attended my second event.  I was greeted with hugs and kisses and genuine compliments from people who I have only really seen on ‘screen’.  I recognised faces and straight away associated the real live people with the beautiful bloggers that I know from reading about them online and swopping comments on Facebook and Twitter.

All bloggers are brave.  We write about ourselves, our thoughts and our lives.  Bravery deserves respect and I know that the bloggers in the network and beyond respect each other.

We are all at different stages of our lives, and I was so humbled to realise how many people were actually reading my blog and knew about my journey.

I blog because I love writing and I feel like I have stories to tell.  I think this is true of so many bloggers.  And many of us pour our hearts out to our online readers, who kindly come back with comments, on the blog or on facebook.

Yesterday was fabulous.  Gorgeous venue at the G Hotel, my very favourite hotel, lots of sparkle and a beautiful welcome.  Food was yummy.  And the glamour of the ladies and gents was top class!  Everyone had made a real effort to celebrate this very important 1st birthday party.  The most fabulous part of the day was the real warmth and obvious friendship around the room, and I know that many people had not met in ‘real life’ before.

In this very special blogger network there is no judgement, only encouragement from a very nice bunch of people.  Being part of the network has given me the kickstart to get my blog going, and to start writing my book.

There is going to have to be a part 2 to this post because I haven’t even started on the motivational speakers, the amazing people I met at the exhibition tables, the goody bags and most of all the most fabulicious Saibh and Sinead.

Tonight I will read a few blogs before bedtime and know that my friendship circle is bigger and richer because of ITWBN.

Thanks for reading

Kerry xx

Why trainers are hotter than high heels

trainers for fitness

I grew up thinking that girly girls don’t wear trainers.    I have had about 3 pairs of trainers in my life and I can promise you I didn’t wear the treads of any of them (until three years ago)

Anyone who has contemplated exercising will know that you might need trainers and you keep telling yourself that you can’t start exercising until you have all the right gear.  Delay, procrastinate, put off, any other words suitable?

I picked a mighty silly day to buy trainers  and it turned out really funny.  I had a hospital appointment about my hand, and didn’t realise they were going to numb it and inject steroids into it …

So picture this ….

Somehow I got myself into my car and got myself strapped in and drove around the corner to the sports store.  Didn’t realise that it is quite hard to fit a shoe on your foot with one numb hand (imagine post dentist numbness but in your hand instead of your jaw).  Added to the fact that I fairly unfit and coudln’t exactly touch my toes.

I wanted pretty trainers, the pink sparkly type ones worn by a 5 year old.  I have size 8 feet!  Not a great start.

The young man who helped me needs a medal – he had to literally put my feet into trainer after trainer all the while trying very hard to steer me towards a practical pair.  I think I tried them all on.

It was a bit like Cinderella in reverse.  One prince one ‘princess’ and hundreds of pairs of shoes.

I left the store with a great pair of shoes, notsparkly, but they have pink stripes.

My trainers first day out – complete with nice pink socks.  Apparantly my son did tell me that you have to wear a new pair of trainers in.  But I wasn’t listening or maybe it wasn’t said at all.

Now before this I had already started walking and built up some stamina – simply working in my normal shoes and boots.  So off I went on a nice circuit – the kind of walk that once you have done half there is no turning back.  Just after half way the blisters started. And continued and grew and spread.  I am quite determined, so I carried on and swung by the pharmacy to buy blister plasters on the way back.

So they don’t make blister plasters big enough for the blisters I had created. By now the exercise bug and hit and I needed another form of exercise that didn’t involve walking in trainers.

I decided the answer was a trampoline.  Don’t panic, just a mini one.

Years ago I heard that if you exercise on a mini trampoline the value of what you do is multiplied by some unbelievable factor.  I wanted one so bad, and a friend kindly gifted me one,  second hand.  I found it so useful. For about 5 years it served as a clothes hanger, laundry basket, Christmas wrapping station, and general depository for stuff.  It also tripped me up a few times on the way to the loo in the dark.

My first exercise was to unearth the trampoline and then to start jumping.  Now the exercise you do on it isn’t exactly jumping in the air, more like bouncing and dancing and generally having a laugh while watching TV or listening to music.

One small piece of advice for fabulous ladies taking up this exercise – get a good bra!!

This all happened 3 years ago.  My trainers are still in use and so is my trampoline.  I am not perfect and I don’t get exercise in every day.  I do try though and I definitely know I am fitter than I have been for many many years.

Thanks for reading, and thank you for all the comments and support.

Kerry xx

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