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'This turning toward what you deeply love saves you' - Rumi

I hope you are enjoying these crisp Autumn days. This month's blog takes a look at what we LOVE and how bringing more of that into our lives makes us feel whole, complete, and at peace with ourselves and the world. I love this image of a young Mongolian girl and her eagle which she has trained to hunt for her community. The connection between the two is evident. But what does 'turning to what you deeply love' mean to you? Is it your work, your relationships, your connection to animals, nature, art, music? Where does it reside for you? No doubt in many places! But often we can also pinpoint specific moments when we feel most alive, most connected, most at one with ourselves. This turning to what we deeply love provides an anchor, a port in the storm, a place we can return to time and time again to be nourished and replenished. For me, my work is one of the places that provides that nourishment and over the past couple of weeks I have had the incredible privilege of interviewing women whose work I deeply admire, and provides inspiration for my life. I wanted to find out why they have devoted many years to their field/subject and how their work provides sustenance for them, as well as the impacts it is having on their communities and wider society. This first group of women I'm interviewing are all feminist academics. They are women who are deeply passionate about their work and its capacity to influence advances in social justice, gender equality and community development.


The interviews are part of a podcast series I am producing for NearFM community radio station based in North Dublin. The focus of the interviews is to de-mystify academia, explain different strands of feminist philosophy and practice, and inspire women to follow their curiosities and interests and those issues and topics that provide deep meaning. I am also hoping the interviews will inspire women who have not yet been to university to consider applying, and for those women who have been thinking about re-training or studying to take the plunge and allow themselves the opportunity to participate in third level education again. I know there are economic and social barriers and other reasons why this may be difficult, so we do also discuss these and access routes and other opportunities in the interviews. I was 37 years old when I did my degree, my academic supervisor was 42 when she returned to university to do her PhD. We met recently and part of our conversation was about our mutual satisfaction in pursuing work that has deep meaning for us and that has shaped our lives in so many ways, far beyond our expectations.

This first podcast series called 'Lifting the Lid', due to be aired early in 2017, interviews six inspirational women to share their stories of academia, women and history, community development, activism, being a mature student, feminism, and making a difference. I have to say, I am blown away by these women! By their vision, their knowledge, their commitment to research, and their enthusiasm for making the world a better place. It is clear that for each of these women their work is a turning towards what they deeply love. I will keep you updated on exact dates and will send links through once they are finalised.

Here's a photo of me with Dr. Claire McGing, researcher on Gender & Politics and Eco-Feminism at National University of Ireland, Maynooth, during our recent interview.


There is still time to join us at this fantastic festival in Ennis over the weekend. It looks set to be an incredibly insightful and inspirational event about women, storytelling, voice and community development. If you are ke coming along make sure you don't miss the fabulous Siobhan Madden, researcher, activist and former Chair of Banulacht, who is talking at 10am on Sunday morning. More information is available at: WOMEN AND SACRED SEXUALITY

My former Passionate Woman student Michela Sborchia is facilitating her new workshop, an introduction to sacred sexuality, in Monkstown tomorrow. It sounds truly beautiful and informative. 'This half day workshop is a gentle and playful introduction into the realm of Sacred Sexuality in a safe and relaxing space. Together will shall explore the anatomy and energetics of our sexual organs using mandala drawings, meditations, movement and other tools'. Check out the full details here:

ACCESSING INNER WISDOM & KNOWLEDGE As part of the Inspiring Woman programme I have recently been sharing some of the practices, tools and philosophies we use in the programme to empower, deepen self-knowledge and build confidence. The first practice in the series is called 'Free-writing' and if you haven't yet accessed the information on my Facebook page I thought it worth sharing here again. As always if you have any questions please feel free to email me at

Practice #1 FREE WRITING

What is it?

Free-writing is stream of consciousness writing. It takes a bit of practice but if you persevere it has powerful results. Ideally, this practice is done first thing in the morning. The reason for this is that you are still in that relaxed place between sleep and fully awake, the perfect time to access your subconscious mind and silence your inner critic.

What are the benefits?

Free-writing clarifies your thinking, makes you feel more grounded and centred within yourself, answers difficult questions you have been stuck on, increases self-awareness by connecting you to your deeper self, expresses deep seated anger/rage, can heal trauma, helps to silence your inner critic, releases trapped emotions, reduces anxiety, builds resilience and sparks creativity and new ideas.

How does it work?

To begin make sure you have an A4 jotter and pen by your bed the night before, then when you wake up put your hand to paper and write whatever wants to come out. Do not stop. Do not censor yourself. It doesn't matter if it sounds like jibberish, is whingey or angry, in fact the more it is those things the better! This is an opportunity for you to download whatever has been swirling around your mind onto paper so you can gain clarity on it.

You are not trying to tell a story with this practice or to be poetic or do anything artistic, what you are doing is downloading the incessant chatter in your mind onto paper. If you can't think what to say, keep writing, and just write 'I can't think what to write', quite quickly your thoughts will begin to flow freely again.

Trust the process this is you talking to yourself. This is not for public consumption. Knowing that you will only ever be the person to read what you have written will give you the freedom to be honest and express everything you need to say. Your writing may move you to tears or rage, this is normal. Keep writing and see what else wants to be expressed. Are there answers to questions surfacing, even if you don't like what you hear keep writing! This is your un-censored self expressing itself, this is YOU. Listen to what you have to say, because you are deeply wise and knowing and you have all the answers inside you :-)

When three pages of writing are complete, stop. Put your pen down and breathe deeply. Become aware of any emotions that surfaced during your writing. Notice how those emotions feel in your body. Where are they? As you pay attention to them do they soften? Now you can write down in your jotter what those emotions are, without judgment. If you felt very strong emotions such as anger, envy, frustration, practice self-compassion and speak to yourself kindly like you would if a dear friend had just shared with you. Soothe yourself and make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee and begin your day.


The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, Rising Strong by Brene Brown and Expressive Writing by James Pennebaker & John F. Evans.

Photo Credit: Christian Schloe Digital Artwork​ TRANSFORMATIONAL MENTORING

In response to a number of requests for one-to-one mentoring by women who cannot attend my Inspiring Woman courses based in Dublin, I have created this new offering. I am really excited about supporting and guiding the development of individual women's projects and plans. More information is available at:

Thank you for making the time to read this blog I hope you found it interesting, if you have any queries about any aspect of my work please feel free to contact me at

Warm wishes,

Shirley x

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