Desperately seeking …Me!

First published in the Irish Independent on May 18, 2016

We are a nation of lost souls. We have swapped the security blanket of religion for the cold harsh light of truth. We wander like bewildered two-year-olds lost in a grocery store. What began like a moment of freedom has swiftly translated into a terrifying ordeal. We have three choices: stay out in the cold, embrace it even; return to our mother’s arms and the refuge that lies within. Or we can seek new truths, new comforts.

 jordan belfort

The latter choice, the era of self-enlightenment is truly upon us. It is the new drug of the thinking classes, the opiate we choose in the search for fulfilment. We had become a nation of fast food snackers and now we need substance.

The route to enlightenment has many paths. Last year, I attended a Jordan Belfort seminar – he of the Wolf of Wall Street fame. The seminar was aimed at making money but he caught the mood of the audience at an early stage.

Jordan scanned the crowd and sympathetically called us out. We were there to learn how to make money but he ringed our wings by calling on our pain. No one with a successful business attends a motivational sales seminar by Jordan Belfort, pictured below. Instead, injured souls seeking assurance gather to hear the magic patter. If the lottery is a poor man’s tax, then motivational sales seminars are an aspiring (or is that failing?) entrepreneur’s levy.

Jordan’s heart-spring moment was when he explained why some people were ducks and some were eagles. No one wants to be a duck, not even the ducks. Belfort told some funny stories about the duck mentality and in a move splendidly focused for the Irish audience, spoke movingly and compassionately about how a lot of the eagles in the audience had taken a beating in the recession.

How we had been flattened and lacked certainty. How we had begun thinking like ducks but that was okay because it didn’t mean we were ducks. The very fact that we were here today meant we were so, not ducks, oh no, but eagles about to get a new lease of life. And everyone clapped and everyone believed they had a chance to win the lottery.

Last month, I attended the Landmark Forum, a pathway to personal development and sometimes dismissively termed a cult, a case which it energetically rebuts. It may have some of the appearances of a sect; it focuses on obedience, it demands commitment and it extracts promises from its participants. It practises secrecy in some parts and full-on proselytising in others. It does not advertise its wares, but uses the Forum members to bring in new members.

Personal development is a different kettle of fish to financial development. For one, the end goal is a lot more significant and for another, it is possible without the intervention of external and random forces. It is possible. And this is the foundation of the Forum – the possible.

The course unfolds under three non-stop days of intense training. Then there is the sharing – the even more intense bonds formed through people sharing at the deepest level of their lives. It felt like being in the trenches; there was nothing too base to be shared and nothing too insignificant to be celebrated.

It may sound as though this is a transitional, gradual process but in fact it happens very fast. At 10.30 on day one, I shed my first tear. However, I had already laughed – big guffaws of laughter – at least an hour before. It had become a family event very quickly, only we moved from the trauma to the resolution at the speed of light.

Does that sound a little mad? It is a little mad.

Taking part in the Forum was a rollercoaster of a ride. Aside from the tears, the laughter and the sharing, there was plenty of anger. It is not easy to tear people apart without breaking a few long-held beliefs and opinions. But when the silence surged softly backward when the plunging hooves were gone, we looked at each other and we were all good. We were our word. We were made man, re-made man.

Just recently, I attended the funeral of my father’s best friend.

They are both now in the Summerlands, as they say in these parts, hotly discussing the politics of the day no doubt, going to the bookies or sharing a laugh. To my surprise, I found a resurgence of traditional comfort; maybe my seeking had re-opened a door backwards as well as forwards.

His son, a fine musician and lecturer in music, invited a Trinity choir to sing in the stalls. Being a Protestant service, we had many fine hymns. Being a Protestant service, the congregation all sang the hymns lustily, myself more so than anyone.

It has been some time since I was in a church and longer still with the benefit of a powerful choir at my right elbow. I reached back into the childhood of my beliefs and the comforts of hymns settled around me like a blanket.

Lame ducks, shared emotions, the endless possibility of humans, and hymns – all are beautiful and empowering and good – but the greatest of these are hymns.

Mixing your genres – Feminist, Activist, Comic ….Erotica!

How do you make the medicine go down? With a spoon full of sugar of course.

Watch me explain on video here

 

Last year when I found myself speaking into a vacuum about debt and austerity in Ireland, I decided to use the one weapon at my disposal, the one thing the banks could not take from me – namely my pen – and I wrote a trilogy that has at its core the harsh human cost of our economic tragedy. And I say tragedy because most of what has happened to Ireland was so unnecessary. I can guarantee that in all the reviews of 50shades there is not one mention of the collapse of the American banking system. Whereas in the reviews of my humble trilogy there are loads of references to the social and economic landscape that is Ireland today.

So, if you fancy the idea of reading about Ireland in recession, spiced up with some very naughty bits (for people cannot live by recession alone) then I think it would be a very good thing to buy and read my books. Telling the truth through fiction (and naughty bits) seems like an honourable thing to do. And reading about Ireland in Austerity is also an honourable pastime.

Here is me talking at the Women’s Inspired Network in Wexford to explain how I came to mix my genres.

The Cougar Diaries – thinking women’s erotica – Also read by men (and students of modern Irish history)

The Cougar Diaries, Part One (UK) (US)

The Cougar Diaries, Part Two (UK) (US)

The Cougar Diaries, Part Three (UK) (US)

and if you prefer hard copies – why not visit Lulu.com

xmas picture

Women’s Inspire Network (WIN) kicks off with first conference

For immediate release:  Friday 24 October, 2011

The inaugural Women’s Inspire Network (WIN) formed by Twitter-Goddess  Samantha Kelly kicks off its 2014 programme with a conference to inspire women in Wexford. The lineup includes Victoria Mary Clarke, Carmel Harrington and Jillian Godsil. The venue is The Talbot Hotel, Wexford, on Wednesday 29th October from 9am until 1pm, when lunch and networking will take place. The theme is Surviving in a Recession.

Samantha Kelly, better known as @TweetingGoddess, is well known for her successful appearance on Dragon’s Den, the online group IrishBizParty and Goddess Hour on RadioActive. She formed IrishBizParty as a networking group and that has now grown to more than 2000 active members.  She formed the WIN group this year in response to her experience at formal networking groups. As she explains: ‘I found most traditional networking groups to be intimidating. They tend to be suit-dominated and very male in their orientation. Often, the timing too was geared towards people who either do not have children or who have a spouse at home to mind them.  I felt we needed a fresh channel where women in particular could come together to share experiences, link up and network in a non-threatening fashion – especially where women have multiple roles of mother, worker, wife, carer as well as business person.  This forum is intended to inspire women and we have some amazing women gathered to share their stories and insights.’  Samantha recently was nominated for The Bank of Ireland Startupawards – in the Hero Startup category for her work in helping fellow startup businesses and SMEs.

Leading the charge is Victoria Mary Clarke who is a bestselling author, (‘A Drink With Shane Mac Gowan’ and ‘Angel In Disguise’) internationally successful journalist, television presenter, radio broadcaster, motivational speaker, yoga teacher and angel channeller.   She has spent more than 20 years studying meditation, yoga and different holistic therapies, with a particular interest in energy healing techniques and nutrition.

Victoria Mary says: ‘I am fascinated by exploring the different ways in which we can help ourselves to feel amazing….to feel full of enthusiasm and energy, magnetic, creative and charismatic, and in this talk I will be sharing my top ten tricks for optimising your energy for success!’

Carmel Harrington is an award winning and bestselling author who sprang to fame last year when her self-published debut novel, Beyond Grace’s Rainbow secured her a three-book deal with publishing giants Harper Collins. She then went on to win both Kindle Book of the Year and Romantic eBook of the year in 2013. Her second bestselling novel, The Life You Left was published in July 2014. Carmel lives in Wexford, where she juggles being a wife and mother with writing her third book – The Road Back Home. She is generous in sharing her time supporting aspiring writers through her online writing group Imagine, Write, Inspire and is also one of the founding members of Focal – Wexford’s Literary Festival.

She says, ‘There is no doubt that writing in the current market is both tough and daunting as you try to compete with established authors. But it’s not impossible. By working hard and at all times maintaining a positive attitude, I believe that anything is possible. Three years ago I decided to follow a lifelong ambition to be a writer. I’ve never worked as hard or been as scared. But you know what? I’ve never been as happy either.’

The final speaker on the day is Jillian Godsil, whose claim to fame is to be the brokest woman in Ireland – which is some feat given the state of the nation. Her business failed, her home was repossessed and she was forced into bankruptcy, and is indeed the first female bankrupt under the new insolvency laws. However, she did not take these crushing failures lying down. As a bankrupt she was not allowed run for public office, so she took the Irish government to the High Court for the infringement of her constitutional rights. She won and subsequently ran for Europe, winning 11,500 votes in four weeks, on a null budget and with no party. She is now reinventing herself as writer, speaker and student. She says: ‘Surviving is not enough. We have to live even as we survive. And then we aspire to thrive.’

 

For tickets for the event, please visit http://www.eventbrite.ie/e/the-womens-inspire-network-be-inspired-tickets-12429728653