Bankers’ Self-Interest, 2 Households Homeless & Suicide

The Author will remain anonymous as this case is still in litigation. We share the story to encourage others who were similarly treated or misled by their banks – to come forward.

My story:

The “Bank” is now involved in trying to repossess my family home, along with my partner, his wife and children’s family home. And it looks like they will be successful.

We both have been left with no money at all. One of our employees committed suicide and both my business partner, a husband and father of five young children and myself, a single retiree, have had a decade from hell.

We were transparent in all our dealings with our bank manager (we have had at least eight of them). We were careful to give them prior knowledge of our plans, to provide them with expert reports on planning, development, finance, architectural and engineering strategies, and in every way, we were model customers.

The fact is that this bank decided to take over and sell our assets to save their own balance sheets and no court in Ireland seems able to help.

We never stood a chance. As one of our eight assigned managers said, “You have cracking properties”. Another said, “We’re not playing games”.

How could this be?

Most people who fell foul of the Irish banks could not pay their mortgage because they had lost their job in the recession, or for some other reason were prevented from making their monthly repayments.

Since the publication of the independent report on RBS which investigated the treatment of small and medium sized businesses, I have looked around the Irish banking scene, and it has become clear that the Irish banks followed along the lines laid down by RBS’s global restructuring scheme.

We fell into that category of customers severely injured by the banks.

We were the customer who had a good business, a family home, and whose assets were claimed by the bank, sold off either by receivers or the bank itself, and the money used to swell the bank’s own coffers.

Our bank followed exactly this plan.

In 2004 we had a hundred-year-old property rental business, part rent-controlled tenants, part commercial lettings. We had almost no borrowings and the business had €5 million in cash reserves. Today we have nothing.

Our bank, with whom the company had a long and satisfactory relationship until 2008, suggested two things to us.

First, that we should keep our cash on deposit with them, take out a mortgage for our respective homes, and expand our business for which they promised a very substantial loan.

Perhaps I am a fool, perhaps I am just too trusting. Myself and my business partner agreed. I’ve always lived at the same address in Dublin. My grandfather and my father lived there in a unit on the top floor. The rest of the property was let out. When my father died I bought the house over from the rest of my family. I mortgaged the property to our bank and just drew down what I needed to purchase their share. That would have left enough money to repair the property to allow the commercial letting of all but the top three rooms which is and was my home.

My partner and I concentrated on the business, and repaired and renewed various buildings, to make our property business more efficient and effective, and to increase the value of our assets.

We came up with a plan for a major development on one of our sites. We needed to buy some adjoining properties. We had talked about this to the bank over a period of years from 2004-2007. They had agreed to support us.

In fact, the development was their suggestion!

In conversation, they agreed to lend us €8 million to fund the purchases and the renovations and to develop the site so that it would be lettable.

When it came to look for the money, two things happened. The bank made us wait for more than a year and then came back with an alternative proposition; they would not lend us the €8 million, but a considerably lesser amount, about €7 million. Second, by telephone call a senior official of the bank told us that we would have to invest €1 million of our own money if we wanted the loan. We took the money, invested our own million euro with the bank and waited for the €7 million loan approval.

Now, the story gets a bit strange.

The bank transferred us into the specialist property group, which seems to be just like the RBS GRG, i.e. a group of valuable properites and other assets ripe for the banks taking. We were summoned to an important meeting at the bank. One manager told us that the meeting he would work with us, that we had such a good track record with the bank and so on.

But at the end of the meeting another manager said “we’re going to cancel the €7 million loan”. Shortly after which, the bank began to put serious pressure on us.

It told me to let out those parts of my home to commercial tenants. To do that I asked to draw down the balance of the mortgage to bring the lettings up to a current standard. I was and have still been refused.

We could not continue with this. As for developing the business development site, we had spent much of our cash, buying the properties, but the banks failure to provide the development money meant we couldn’t continue.

And it is from this I conclude that the bank deliberately brought about a situation which enabled them to take the company assets (17 properties) by appointing a receiver over the companies. To date this receiver has never notified us. We are the directors and sole shareholders of the results of the receivership.

We don’t know what was sold, when and for how much.

If there is anyone out there who has had the same or a similar experience, please let us know so that we can show a pattern and see what can be done.

Empowering Change here – you are welcome to share your story – or invite one of our colleagues to interview you about your similar circumstance – message your details in the box at your right.




Irish Mothers & Property Rights

Our guest contributor highlights the very different outcomes when it comes to the property rights of a married vs. an unmarried woman:

“Unmarried Irish Mothers Have No Rights”

Yvonne Walsh is an unmarried Irish mother.  Perhaps not a politically correct distinction to make in this 21st century Ireland of alleged equal status for all.  But no such basic property rights are enjoyed by these women.

Before the law, it seems nothing has changed.

Yvonne has been detained in Mountjoy prison for almost two months* based on a charge of contempt of court. She refused to abandon her family home with her twin girls based on a court order to vacate her home back in 2015.

Equal status does not exist for Irish unmarried mothers,

Yvonne’s rights were ignored by her ex-partners’ solicitor; he was required by law on the conveyancing of the family home to obtain Yvonne’s Consent, to guarantee Yvonne got independent advice, to insure Yvonne and her babies were protected, to register Yvonne’s name on the property. This practice has occurred for centuries across Ireland because solicitors ignore the rights of unmarried mothers.

Life happened, Yvonne and her partner broke-up, years later Yvonne found herself as a lay litigant in person before Judge Marie Baker desperately fighting to keep her family from homelessness. It is a home that had no mortgage, a property embroiled in her ex-partners commercial dealings.

Yvonne sits in prison because she is an unmarried mother in Ireland with no rights.

Contrast this with the outcome for the married Catriona Fitzpatrick

Also appearing before Ms. Justice Baker, she claimed she knew nothing of her husband’s financial dealings, she did not consent, and her informed consent was not obtained.

She is the wife of Sean ”Seanie” Fitzpatrick, former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, who, while acquitted of all charges of financial irregularities, had resigned in December 2008 under a cloud when details of secret loans he had taken out with Anglo were revealed. He was declared bankrupt in 2010.

Catriona Fitzpatrick prevailed. She walked away from the same courts with millions of euros in property and her husband’s Anglo Irish Bank pension retained. A pension funded by the Irish taxpayers.

Yvonne Walsh still languishes in prison.

 

*Jailed Friday, 4. May 2018.

Tom Darcy, Author, Waiting for the Sheriff; Co-founder Right2Homes

#YvonneWalsh  – for more information on hashtags currently in use on the subject – See Driving Excellence in Ireland, a Hashtag Primer




“Where will you be five years from today?”

The question is posed by author and creativity consultant, Dan ZadraHis book has the look and feel of a child’s book, which leaves us open, available and curious.

This book celebrates the “want to’s”, the “choose to’s” and the “I can’t wait to’s” in your life”. Whether you’re just finishing school, starting a new venture, celebrating a milestone or envisioning your retirement, you are the hero of this story.

It’s less a work-book than a play-book.

Random list-making exercises invite us to explore what we value.

“Live your life on purpose” is a call to action – and we’re encouraged to write a personal mission statement.

It’s a book of motivation and inspiration. This isn’t a to-do list – it’s a road map.  And a training manual.

“You are the hero of this story”

…and you’re thinking – “Who me? There’s not a heroic bone in my body!”

So, let’s make “hero” a bit less intimidating.

First, throw off the superhero images. Just showing up and being available is Job #1.

Accepting the challenge to live life more purposefully, to imagine a new future and to lay the foundation for a new life stage – is what we in the storytelling business call – “The Hero’s Journey”.

It was described by Joseph Campbell, author of The Power of Myth.

Myths give external explanations and stories for internal strifes. Slaying monsters is slaying the dark things inside of you. If you’re telling yourself “oh no! I couldn’t do that! I couldn’t be a writer!” that’s the dragon inside of you, and you have to slay it.

Simply stated – our heroic journey begins with saving ourselves.

And then:

“Strong people stand up for themselves. Stronger people stand up for others”  Chris Gardner

And #DontGoItAlone – get in touch if you think I can help.

Not familiar with Joseph Campbell’s work?

Hollywood film development director, Christopher Vogler summarises it brilliantly.

 

Here’s what we know about heroes, they-

  • are usually reluctant
  • are often resistant
  • will have to face down fear
  • will survive, wiser for the experience

 

 




Driving Excellence in Ireland, a #Hashtag Primer

If you’re new to following current events in Ireland – this is for you.

Ireland in 2018 is a very hard place to be.

Correction. Ireland until late 2017 was a very hard place to be. Thanks in large measure to #Housing & #Homeless activists as well as #Together4Yes and #Repealthe8th campaigners, things started to change in late 2017.

Now, at least, there is hope.

My February post, On Social Change in Ireland, “we’ll get there…” reflects that shift. And some of the challenges.

On arriving in 2008, “You can’t say that!” was a near constant refrain when I’d reflect back the insanity of life here. A New York reared blow-in, I was identified in my earliest days as “that cheeky American woman”.

After a lifetime recovering from a shaming and silencing childhood (just like most here), I wasn’t buying the idea that the silent-secret-keeping was anything but toxic.

My attempt to address it in a 2012, TEDxBelfastWomen talk met with mixed reviews; novel then, the message seems to be hitting home now.

So, I’ve been cheeky. I’ve found cheeky Irish people. And together we’ve helped to inspire many who were contemplating cheekiness – to get over their reluctance. Our message is simple: #GoForIt (or #JFDI if you’re not easily offended).

If you’ve found your way to us lately, perhaps it was by way of one of these-

  • #YvonneWalsh – A mother of two jailed for refusing to leave her home which would render her children homeless.
  • #VultureFunds – The world has it’s share of problems with them, but our government invited them in and gave them a tax free and virtually unregulated status. #MichaelNoonan
  • #Homelessness The current tally is over 10,000 homeless with over 4000 of those children.
  • #Whistleblower It’s not safe to be a #Whistleblower in Ireland. Pretty much guaranteed you’ll be permanently unemployable, broke and ostracised.
  • #DisclosureTribunal is a current (#MauriceMcCabe) #Whistleblower investigation. Before him @WhistleIRL Nothing will come of it – it never does. Perhaps because any evidence obtained is inadmissible in court. It’s the way the powers that be remain untouchable.
  • #TrackerScandal– Originally 5000, then 33,000 now nearly 40,000 deliberate bank overcharges. The highlight of which was that no one believed it until #PadraicKissane had 5 clients appear before the Dail Banking and Finance Committee. “How did the banks think they’d get away with it?” he was asked. “They used our Irishness against us”. Meaning – they counted on our shame to keep us silent.
  • #Nama – The National Asset Management Agency – great idea in theory.
  • #FF/#FG – Fianna Fail the party in power at the crash/Fine Gael the party in leadership since first in coalition with #Labour, currently in a confidence and supply agreement with #FF.
  • #CervicalCheck No news blackout here. The they tried. The #HSE didn’t advise women or their doctors of misread cervical smears. But news got out on the back of #VickyPhelan‘s lawsuit and subsequent testimony before #DailEirann. The scandal is described in this Irish Times article.

And a few we’d like to see take off –

  • #CherishedChildren – A reminder to many that in Ireland’s founding document, there lies a promise- “cherishing all the children of the nation equally”
  • #Transparency & #Accountability – A reminder that we must relentless demand it. Transparency International produced a report for Ireland in 2009 and updated it in 2012 – the measures they suggested have, to date, been ignored. Nevertheless – there is a SpeakUp.ie site and a on it a helpful video on how to “speak up safely”. #GoForIt – please.

#CalltoAction

Ireland moved from a Third World Country in the 50’s & 60’s – with 1/2 the economy dependent on remittances, to a First World country during the 70’s and 80’s – owed in large part to Diaspora investment. Philanthropists built universities, brought jobs and significantly impacted the business and civic culture.

We need that leadership now more than ever.

 

We used to ask you to come home or send money.

Neither are required. Simply share your experience, your wisdom, and the optimism that seems to characterise the Irish when the leave here.

And if you’re here in Ireland – speak out.

  • Tell your stories.
  • We have nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Nothing changes until we do!

The #CherishedChildren of the Republic need homes, healthcare and stability.

#WereBetterThanThis

 

 

 

 




A Failure of Leadership – Ireland 2018

On Housing and Homelessness

Who is Yvonne Walsh and why does she matter? Think of her as the canary in the coal mine.

Thank you, Caroline Lennon-Nally

#YvonneWalsh, the poster child of everything that is wrong about home repossession in Ireland.

Yvonne’s efforts to engage with the government approved Vulture Funds, to protect her home and children, were undermined and short-circuited by a technicality. As a result, Yvonne has refused to back down on the charge of contempt; and her children can stay in their home as long as she’s kept in prison on the contempt charge.  Whilst the detail is complex, the situation is not. Under no circumstances should any woman, in this modern age, be sitting in prison on a contempt charge defending her home.

The National Housing Agency has no suitable options as is the case for thousands of other families defending their position.

This situation needs to be recognised and resolved by the Irish Government. Yvonne, innocent of crime, incarcerated and degraded, needs to be released from prison to rerurn home to her children.

This entire issue of forced homelessness for families and children needs a National solution and Yvonne needs our full and immediate support. Let us not forget that Yvonne is representing a vast number of women and mothers right across the social structure in Ireland.

The Irish Government has a number of solutions at their disposal. Yvonne must be released now.



The Eighth…if you’re on the fence please consider this

The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution was added in 1983.

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

In a ludicrous adjustment to reflect reality, a provision was passed in 1992

Since the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment (Travel), the right to travel for an abortion has had constitutional protection.

Hence only women of means have a right to choose. On 25 May 18 we’ll be asked to change this.

I won’t ask why you’re on the fence. I respect your right to an anti-choice view. I do not, however, consider you pro-life. Because you see, I am for choice and pro-life.  I steadfastly believe that every child should be a wanted child, welcomed into this world by one or two loving parents who can and will provide a safe and nurturing environment.

I respect and will protect your right to believe life begins at conception. I would never support legislation to force you to use contraception or to terminate a pregnancy.

I’d ask you to consider only the compassion in which my passion is grounded.

I’m passionate about this because I, among millions of others, grew up with an unfortunate message:

I’d have been better off if you’d never been born

as I heard it – or in the versions of the message countless others heard:

I curse the day I met your mother/father…

If abortion had been legal…

What becomes of these children who “should never have been born”?

Some of us make it. After decades’ long journeys of hopelessness, depression, addiction and despair.

Many don’t. It is to them that I dedicate my efforts to see that the 8th Amendment is repealed.

The anti-choice people will tell you that they are the disabled who will be aborted. And yet, disability groups in Ireland have asked them to stop using their children as an excuse. Most disabilities won’t be identified by 12 weeks. Please work on legislation to protect the disabled children of your concern. I will support your efforts.

I will tell you there are many more otherwise able-bodied children born, whose lives and potential were undermined by being unwanted, unaffordable or simply born to parents who were too young.

I’ve met many.

Those in addiction treatment centres and 12 Step rooms where substance abuse is little more than numbing the pain of being unloved. Never having experienced that unmitigated love of parents – many addicts believe themselves to be unloveable and unworthy of life. Carers and partners may try, but that earliest rejection is not easily overcome.

Those who gave up and finally completed suicide attempts. Consider the expression – the light at the end of the tunnel. The experience in a cocoon of utter and complete parental care – is the first ‘light’ humans experience at the end of the tunnel that is birth.  Unwanted, unloved newborns instinctively can’t trust that there ever will be a ‘light’ at the end of any tunnel.

To the very young offenders I have met, born to very young parents.A few will have turned their lives around. Many will not. Sixty percent of their children can be expected to offend. That’s a lot of knock-on pain for families and communities.

I am grateful to the many who were born unwanted, wounded or not, and who have enriched my life in my experience of having known them.  I a defer to the words of John’s Hopkins University Professor of Psychiatry and author Kay Redfield Jamison. In an interview about her book on her own experience of manic depressive illness  An Unquiet Mind, A Memoir of Moods and Madness,  she shared and I paraphrase from memory, that

while there were times in my life that I was suicidal, I never ‘wished I’d never been born’

I share her sentiment, on my own and my brother’s behalf. I loved him and he enriched my life. And yes we were wounded by my mother’s sentiment, regularly.

Our experience went on to inform my choice in 1972 when, availing of the change in New York State’s abortion law, I terminated an unplanned pregnancy. Absent the law, I’d have sought an illegal abortion as did many of my older friends, one of whom died.

I chose, not without regret, not without prayer, but with the conviction that I would never bring a child into the world who would not be the ‘light of the world’ he or she was entering.

Nearly half a century later I pray for that lost soul and celebrate the lives of the three well-enough loved, well provided for and entirely wanted, planned and celebrated children I went on to rear.

Let God judge me. Let women in crisis choose and let their higher power judge them.

And let us all remember:

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 

Matthew 5:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




On Social Change in Ireland, “We’ll get there…”

In 2012, I closed a TEDxBelfastWomen talk with “We’ll get there”.

In 2018, I find we may actually be ‘there’.

It referenced my call to throw off the adaptive behaviours common to many on this island – our silence, passivity, self deprecation and shaming ways, in order to take our place on a global stage.

In 2010, I co-founded a coworking space in Newry. The intention was to support the emergence of a more dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem outside of Dublin and Belfast, on the border. Our contention was that the “peace process” had gone as far as it could go. What was then and now required for Ireland is a “prosperity process”.

That required culture change. And for us to share a different vision of Ireland.

From my vantage point on Carlingford Lough and the border, both Northern Ireland and the Republic were, as C.S. Lewis depicted them, a magical, medial place. A space in-between and one where opportunity abounds.

Culture change is a tall order!

It has been a hard road. Yet, the interesting thing about having a vision, setting an intention – and even failing from time to time, is that when you fail – you fall forward in the direction of your dream.

So imagine my delight in 2016 – when the Centre for Cross Border Studies added this tag line to their Cross Border Social Innovation Conference – “Lagan to the Liffey”.

The Emerald Valley facility had by then closed – but “from the Lagan to the Liffey” – our carefully chosen turn of phrase was designed, where innovation was concerned, to render the border invisible – and it lived on. We’d  fallen forward.

This week, I had notice of an event in Belfast focused on telling Northern Ireland’s story. Two things were heartening. I self-describe as an evangelist for Northern Ireland – both economically and civically.

Economically in trying to drive home-grown innovation and inward investment by highlighting our opportunities and accomplishments. Civically in both America and the Republic of Ireland – in efforts to drive a change in both attitude and language.

We are nearly 20  years on from the peace process – but nonetheless, many in both places remain unreconciled to it.

Control, Alt, Delete: Resetting How We Tell Northern Ireland’s Story 
sounds remarkably like this 2015 blog post:
Ireland 2.0 – America, try ‘Ctrl, Alt, Delete’ .

The journalists on this panel will, undoubtedly, be less impatient than the tone taken with my American readers, out of touch with what Northern Ireland looks like 25, 50 & 100 years after their families emigrated.

My point in these illustrations is not “I told you so”. It is to encourage. I’ve not been alone in writing and repeating these sentiments, and it’s not been to win hearts and minds. It was to support people who clearly felt the same way. To let them know they were not alone. And in time, to make it safe for them to speak up.

Failing and falling forward was worth it!

Robert Reich, Berkley Professor and former Labor Secretary under President Clinton has opened a series of lectures to the public. The course is called, In Focus: How to Ignite Social Change.

This slide speaks to “The Three Elements” it takes to reach the tipping point at which social change happens. Thankfully, in Ireland we have reached that point!

In Northern Ireland with the collapse of the Stormont executive and no devolved government for over a year and in the Republic with an ineffective government, as evidenced by crisis after crisis in Health Care, Housing, Homelessness, and a scandal ridden An Garda Síochána, there is, undeniably, a –

  • Widening gap between ideal and reality
  • Broad public knowledge of that gap

And what of the third?

  • Widespread sense of efficacy  ability to narrow the gap

“Ah sure, you’ll never change it” was the language of hopelessness that had undermined us.

But the last decade has offered proof that citizens could achieve a sense of efficacy – 

The populist genie was out of the bottle. Activism could clearly drive change.

Inspired, in the summer of 2017, a group of activists sent out over 200 press releases, yet couldn’t get media coverage for a “National Housing Cooperative Bill” to be introduced on Dáil Éirann’s return in September.

Undaunted, they then held a press conference at the Irish Hunger Memorial in New York City – the proverbial “33rd county”. They were joined by Cornell University Law Professor Robert Hockett and got the attention of homeless and housing activists there, academics, politicians, philanthropists and investors. And won their hearts, as in true Irish fashion, when the formalities had passed, music ensued. Imagine visitors to the memorial serenaded with an impromptu rendition of “I’ll Tell My Ma When I Go Home.

The Irish Central – a digital newspaper with a reach of 3.5 million unique views a month covered the story, and the media in Ireland took note.

More and more stories began to surface here, “broad public knowledge” of “the gap between the ideal and real” led four brave individuals to join Financial Advisor Padraig Kissane in testimony before the Oireachtas Finance Committee – ultimately breaking the news of what is now estimated to be 33,000 tracker mortgage holders cheated by their banks.

When Mr. Kissane was asked how the banks got away with it for so long, he responded: “They used our Irishness against us.”

Clearly the banks were counting on our silence, passivity and shame. No longer.

Housing rights advocates and financial reformers are on the move. New legislation is to be introduced and the Oireachtas Finance Committee and it’s Chair TD John McGuinness are holding banks to account.  He and TD Pearse Doherty have called on Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe to support class action legislation because “the culture won’t change until the banks are prosecuted” – even though Ireland does not yet have a mechanism to bring one.

Watch this space!

Back to the subject of “getting there” –  my Irish-American father favoured an expression I am only now beginning to appreciate:

“We’ll get there, by degrees, the way an Irishman gets to heaven.”

Alongside wisdom I have always embraced:

Ours is not to complete the task, but neither may we desist from the labour.

For more on activism in Ireland, On Echoing Irish Voices Congruent with Irish Values

 




Nothing changes until we do!

In a recent LinkedIn article, Ready for a Change? – I made the case for choosing change. On one level it’s selfish – I work with people and small businesses when they’re ready for a change.

On another level it’s in service to those clients, neighbours and friends who require change in their wider worlds. More on that later.

Navigating change, personally, professionally or systemically, requires safe spaces.

So whether that involves creating a safe space personally – by throwing off old habits, distancing yourself from the crazy-makers in your life or quieting your undermining self-talk (all three?) – the work begins when we make up our minds that the pain of changing outweighs the pain of staying stuck.

Or more eloquently – as pictured, it’s time to blossom.

Change in our work lives is no different, although creating this safe place is somewhat more fraught. It requires us to bring equal parts of self-confidence and humility to the process.

Unsafe at work may look like

  • the boss is mad
  • the workplace is intimidating
  • I’m a payday away from disaster

Let’s accept that every situation is “out of our control” and all we can control is our reaction to it.

What if we agree that-

  • the boss is mad! We might ask ourselves: Am I bringing my best self to each encounter? Am I consciously or unconsciously pushing his/her buttons? Have I even asked what they might be?
  • the workplace is intimidating! Does my demeanour (fear, lack of confidence, reticence) inadvertently contribute to the dynamic? What changes in my response might change my experience of it?
  •  am a payday away from disaster! How can I manage money more mindfully, get out of debt and expand my options?

What’s going on here is a kind of archeology. Or as it’s called in 12 step rooms – taking a searching and fearless inventory. We’re not judging or chastising, we’re observing our patterns. Not for anyone else’s purposes – just our own.

Because-

  • Every insight is power
  • Every repaired or rejected relationship emboldens us
  • Every safe place we create empowers us

Empowers us personally, professionally and should we choose to widen that sphere of influence – civically.

Back to what I meant by service.

Typically my clients (and often I) am stressed by failures in systems meant to support.

  • Caregivers waste time, energy and resources navigating the social service and health care delivery systems. Should it require a whole day off to take you ageing mother or child to the doctor, or for a scan? Should you have to go on a day that suits the health service or on an appointment day of your choosing?
  • Healthcare professionals are faced with uprooting themselves and their families while retraining or emigrating because working conditions have become too stressful, chaotic and in many cases dangerous.
  • Financial institutions insistent that they “owe no duty of care” to their clients – exacerbate homeowners attempts to renegotiate indebtedness – causing unimaginable pressures on families.
  • A culture of silence renders workplaces and schools inherently unsafe. Our default to, “sure you can’t change that”, “it’s always been that way” – allows for bullying, sexual harassment and exploitation.

Collectively more confident, we would be willing to speak out against systemic ills – without worrying about being labelled bold or cheeky.

Choose change, find your voice and take care to create safe spaces for yourself. Ask for help if you need to – just don’t go it alone!

Finding our voices simply means we willing to tell the truth. For more on what that would look like, I’ve profiled some ordinary citizen-activists doing just that in a blog post On Echoing Irish Voices Congruent with Irish Values.

The systemic abuses I was addressing were unique to the Republic of Ireland. The call to action is equally relevant to my Northern Irish, British and American colleagues where we face different, but equally concerning failures of leadership and governance.

Change is hard, #DontGoItAlone.

If supportive peer groups, workshops to help you gain clarity or one-to-one coaching would would help – learn more.

 




A Collage, A Vision Board & Action…

“It works if you work it”

Simple, tried and true – it’s an adage heard often in 12 Step fellowships.

So what is a “Vision Board”? It’s a tool for creating authentic outcomes in our own, ideal life. And yes, they work.

This Huffington Post article got my attention in early 2015: “The Reason Vision Boards Work and How to Make One“.

The term “Vision Board” was new to me. Somehow I’d missed the years of evangelising by Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and other celebrities – and I was skeptical.

Yet, I knew they worked, I’d actually been doing them for years.

It Works…

Twenty five years ago, I discovered the book and 12 week The Artist’s Way program.

This was long before ‘vision boards’ existed.

There was a “collage” assigned during Week 7, and it opened the door to a career change and more lucrative work; five years later a second collage inspired a major shift personally. Fifteen years ago, another collage catalysed a move from America to Ireland. 

Twice yearly now, I usher Artist’s Way groups through the process of making their own – and often, I join them.

Updating the images provides an insight into the effectiveness of your efforts. It’s like the infernal voice emanating from a GPS after a wrong turn: “Recalculating“. It’s a call to action. Re-route and get focused on the path of your own choosing.

Clarity about and a focus on your destination, keeps the chaos, distractions and busy-ness of life at bay.

From Seeing is Believing: the power of visualisation:

There’s ample science to support the fact that “Mental practice can get you closer to where you want to be in life, and it can prepare you for success!”

If you work it…

Doing a collage or a vision board just didn’t seem like work, so I was skeptical.

And thankfully it’s not! But occasionally, we need reminding: work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

Work is our linear, thinking, logical brain, in action. And our logical brain is our “censor”. In the “Basic Tools” of The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advises: “Logic brain was and is our survival brain. It works on known principles. Anything unknown is perceived as wrong and possibly dangerous…the brain we usually listen to, especially when we are telling ourselves to be sensible.”

Creativity resides in our “Artist Brain”. It’s our inventor, it’s childlike curious and apt to take chances – collecting images, being present to possibilities while silencing the “censor” is what’s unleashed while we’re creating the boards.

To quote Stephan Spencer’s article –  Vision Boards, Because New Year’s Resolutions Were So Last Year

“Vision boards help make all of the jumbled, abstract feelings in your head into a foreseeable future. If you’re skeptical about making a vision board yourself, ask what you really have to lose by trying it. Not really much. But perhaps it makes you more in tune to the repercussions of your choices and how they align with getting what you want.”

Images are powerful. This photo taken by Riley Robinson  during a 2005 course we attended in Ireland became my screen saver . Three years later I was living in that very village.

Action

Aligning our intention with our values, staying tuned in to the repercussions of our choices, and focus, is what ultimately determines whether we can sustain the changes we “think” we want to make. Let’s get back to that Logical Brain and the Artist Brain. Creating the vision, imagining what is unknown – requires turning off the logical brain and tuning in to the associative and freewheeling nature of our ‘Artist Brain’.

Keep the vision board up – and return to it’s message frequently, because –

“It’s like selling our own ideas to ourselves.”*

Now you have to close the sale. And I advocate doing that with support.

To that end I’ll be delivering a series of Vision Board Workshops. in 2018. They’ll provide a full day immersive experience during which you can achieve clarity in the company of like minded people. Groups challenge each other. On the day, you’ll find you dig deeper and are supported. Later, should you find your enthusiasm is waning, your peers are there to reflect back the best of what they’ve heard you commit to.

A goal is a dream with a deadline- let’s get dreaming!

The next workshop is on Saturday, 23. June 2018. Interested in laying a foundation for your best future? Click the link or leave your details to the right.

*Lucinda Cross




On Echoing Irish Voices Congruent with Irish Values…

My hope/wish/prayer for 2018 is that Ireland will be a safe place for a #Whistleblower and an increasingly unsafe place for politicians who take cover with “it’s what’s legal” vs. “it’s what is ethical, proactive and kind”.

A government that is far more congruent with Irish values.

To create that Ireland, we need to find our voices. We need to speak up, shout out and demand better leadership. Our silence serves only those who would lie to us, steal from us, and oppress. That individual and collective behaviour in law it is called ‘willful blindness’ and it is actionable.

Action requires embracing our entitlement to a ‘legitimate sense of outrage’. Or call it ‘righteous indignation’ over our leadership’s major failures and small slights.

Major failures among which are:

  1. closing rural Post Offices and locating a new Children’s Hospital in the centre of Dublin (a 5 hour drive from Donegal, 4 hrs from Kerry)
  2. ignoring a tri-city/county regional economic development approach to Cork/Limerick/Galway by continuing to drive Foreign Direct Investment primarily to Dublin
  3. failing to gear up for the additional housing required by post Brexit growth of financial service sector jobs relocating from London – creating more upward pressure on housing costs

…and only one of many small slights

  • a citizenry that accepts that it’s okay for taxpayer funded RTE to make you wait over 1 minute through advertising to hear an RTE Player broadcast of newsmakers interviewed on all the the above

The bold texts links to articles or videos of interest; for more information on the work of ordinary citizen activists –

Homelessness – @Right2Homes; Website; Founder, Brian J Reilly
Healthcare – @Bumbleance; Website; Founders, Mary & Tony Heffernan
Education – @IRLChangED; Website; Founder, Frank Milling
Corruption in Banking – @WhistleIrl; Website; Jonathan Sugarman
Legislative Oversight & Abuse of Powers – @ChangeisUptoYou; Website, Founder, Tom Darcy
Willful Blindness – @M_Heffernan In her book and TED talk

Not one person here is in it for the glory! Most are reluctant activists, they have worked individually and collectively, doggedly determined, while cajoled, undermined, harassed and in some cases bankrupted, to speak up and give voice to others.

Pick a cause, focus and support their efforts. Each have made great strides, advanced new agendas and empowered change. Follow, engage and if it resonates, support their efforts. Or bring forward your own.

*David McWilliams’ testimony references findings published in his 2005 book The Pope’s Children.