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Is there a fire stirring in your heart?

Wow, Spring is definitely in the air today with this beautiful sunny day. I have been reading a lot about this wonderful time of year referred to as Imbolc in the Celtic calendar (February 1). Imbolc means 'in the belly' referring to lambs yet to be born, the planting of seeds in the belly of the earth, and the sowing of new ideas. February is also the time of Brighid the Celtic Goddess of fire, women's issues, poetry, healing and inspiration. The name Brighid is derived from the Gaelic "Breo-Saighit" meaning "fiery arrow". The fire represents the rising of the sun, the coming of warmer days and the fire in our hearts - inspiration and courage. The arrow represents focus, direction and movement towards a goal, dream or vision.

When I look at images of Brighid they excite me because of how she epitomizes power and compassion, skill and strength, creative expression, care of the environment and the ignition of courage. This image of Brighid as the Creatrix is inspiring the projects I am envisioning for 2016. Sit tight, this process takes a while, so more will be revealed in March! However, I thought you might like a sneak preview of what's to come by seeing some of the photos from a Creatrix Day of 'Dreamin 'n Scheming Beautiful New Things into Being...' which took place last year with a group of Inspirational Women. As you can see from the photos on the right the creative process was a lot of fun! Step 1: Gather inspiring women...

Step 2: Begin the creative process...

Step 3: Remove anything that's blocking you...

Step 4: Courageously step forward...

Step 5: Celebrate! Creating Space for Inspiration Besides that wonderful fun day I have been gathering information, meeting inspirational people, and preparing my inner soil for new ideas and projects to take root this year. One such incredibly important and inspirational project from 2015 was the Courageous Women project commissioned by the Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation. Through this project I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing 10 community leaders in Northern Ireland who have dedicated the past 30 plus years to building peace and reconciliation.They generously allowed me to record some of their stories into a radio style podcast as well as write and produce a booklet outlining their knowledge and contribution as peace builders. It was very humbling to hear how they have transformed the pain of loss, anger and fear into hope, understanding and respect; and in so doing have become inspirational leaders and role models for members of their communities. They explained that as part of their development as leaders they pay close attention to their assumptions, beliefs and behaviours and regularly review and liberate themselves from those that have become out-dated and self-limiting. While they wouldn't necessarily describe themselves as Courageous Women Leaders, that's exactly what they are. Building Courage The stories the women from Northern Ireland shared with me have shown me how it is the small daily acts of courage (as with kindness) that change us and the world around us. By consistently speaking our truth, standing up for ourselves and others, especially when others cannot stand up for themselves, pointing out injustices, and persistently valuing our own contributions, we are taking courageous action. Interestingly, the root of the word courage is ‘cor’ the latin word for heart. Originally the word courage meant to speak our minds by sharing what is in our hearts. So, in this time of holding Brighid close to our hearts I invite you ask yourself: 'What do I need courage for this year? And then 'Who can help me to create this new reality?' Because there is always someone you can reach out to for support, understanding and encouragement.

Another way we can build our courage is by connecting with the alchemical properties of poetry. The act of learning a poem 'by heart' can help us to explore the hidden recesses of our own heart and hear its longings. If you are strongly drawn to a particular poem ask yourself what does it want to teach me? Does it have particular medicinal properties that soothe your soul right now? If so, I would encourage you to embrace it and begin the process of learning it by heart. A wonderful teacher on this topic is the poet Kim Rosen who I had the great pleasure of doing a workshop with a few years ago and I highly recommend her book 'Saved by a Poem'. The poem I have chosen for this time of Brighid, Imbolc and the coming of Spring is... The Journey

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice – – – though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. ‘Mend my life!’ each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations – – – though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice, which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do – – – determined to save the only life you could save. by Mary Oliver Wherever you are on your journey, and whatever it is you want in 2016, I wish for you the courage to go for it and live your most creative life yet! :) Shirley X

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