On depression as a necessary winter before the spring…

suicide placardImagine if we, as a culture, could embrace depression. Imagine that in any life cycle there are, as in nature, seasons. Depression does not always have to be viewed as pathology.

The industrial age introduced clocks, the digital age upped 9-5 to 24/7.

We are not meant to operate outside of the natural order of things. Riotous springs are followed by productive summers. In fall, as energy wanes we’re motivated to prepare for winter and muster the energy to get things done. In winter we accept that little grows, days are short and if we give over to the darkness and rest, we’ll recharge.

I’ve learned from the creative people around me, as well as my own experience, that a depression is a terrible thing to waste. We will emerge from them. When we do, we can allow for the riotously creative personal spring that follows. It will be there when were ready to embrace life again.

To every season there is a time and a purpose.

Accept the winters. And please keep faith, your personal spring will follow.

 

Courtesy GardeningAtTheEdge.wordpress.com

Courtesy GardeningAtTheEdge.wordpress.com

See also: The Rose, Bette Middler’s timeless hit.

“Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows,
lies the seed that with the sun’s love in the Spring becomes the rose.”

Reframe your understanding of it. Imagine it as a love song for yourself.

Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD), is also predictable and seasonal, but the above reflection is on the experience of major depression.




Forgiving and Moving on…

Not.

Not now. For some, perhaps not ever.

How much energy, creativity or progress is lost to us personally, professionally or civically, because we don’t choose to address  this?

Post conflict is complicated, human nature is not.

Holding anger -Crumlin-3

This wisdom is over 2500 years old.

Clearly, our limitations haven’t
eased in nearly 3 millennia.

 

Ironic that I was propelled here by a shift. A decades long process of forgiving freed for me the energy required to move…

…to this place of unforgiveness.

Accepting what will likely not change is an option. We can put aside forgiving. We must, however, “act as if” we have forgiven.

What would that look like? How to proceed?

Why? Ask yourself one question:

When will we love our collective children enough to consign our ancestor’s hatred to history?

Because it matters.




Why Write? “…it is human nature to write”

So says Julia Cameron in her introduction to The Right to Write.

We should write because it is human nature to write. Writing claims our world. It makes us directly and specifically our own. We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and mediation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance as well.

Cameron’s best know tome is The Artist’s Way and it is regularly referenced in lists on the best books on writing. “Show up at the page” is the message – both in pursuit of your art and in the discipline of the “morning pages“. She uses the habit of three long hand pages of writing every morning on awakening as a means to clear the mind of distractions and anxieties, freeing up space for creativity to flourish.

She concludes her introduction to the Right to Write with:

It is my hope that this book will help to heal writers who are broken, initiate writers who are afraid, and entice writers who are standing at the river’s edge waiting to put a toe in.

I have a fantasy. It’s the pearly gates. St. Peter has out his questionnaire, he asks me the Big Question, “What did you do that we should let you in?”

“I convinced people they should write,” I tell him. The great gates swing open.

I share her fantasy.

Show up at the page. If it’s hard, get in touch!  eve@eveearley.com

 




On Storytelling & Learning to Repair the World

imagesA few years ago when a colleague’s grandson was only 6, he came home from school having been taught the biblical story of Joseph.

“Daddy, why did his brothers throw Joseph in the pit?”

“Because Joseph was his father’s favorite. Jacob didn’t treat the other brothers as nicely.”

The wee one went off. A good while after he was back, having seriously contemplated the matter at hand.

“They should have thrown Joseph’s father in the pit!”

That, dear readers, is precisely why we tell stories.

Whatever your relationship to, belief about or even disdain for The Bible, the Book of Genesis is a good read. A psychology professor of mine once opened a class in group dynamics with:

“…and if you’re working with families don’t underestimate the complexity. Everything you need to know about that can be found in Genesis”

In an earlier post on Storytelling, I explored the archetypal nature of stories. Simply put, it’s the way in which groups, families or societies behave, illustrated by common threads, patterns or characters that appear across most human behavior.

Changing behavior, becoming resilient and recovery of any kind all rely on our ability to observe behavior, elucidate patterns and reflect on their origin.

So whether it’s about a personal recovery – or a societal one, the lessons apply.

The six year old who has genuinely contemplated the parenting lesson at the core of the Joseph story, will parent differently in later life. There is little doubt his own father’s parenting is at the core of his power to observe, reflect and conclude.

There is application also to our wider human family and more specifically to us here on the island of Ireland. I would encourage you to consider the divisiveness of our “Green” & “Orange” narratives in the context of families, human behavior and Genesis.

This Joseph story doesn’t begin with Jacob’s poor parenting. Jacob’s own father rejected him for his twin. His own favoritism of Joseph was born of his grief at Rachael’s death. Joseph was a motherless child, the youngest and the only one of a favored wife; how much of this story is owed to that accident of birth? To the times in which he was born?

And if you never knew the historical context or the family background does it inform your understanding of Jacob, Joseph and his brothers? Leave you more compassionate, perhaps?’  A “family conflict of legendary proportions” is how it is further discussed by David Lewicki, Our Dysfunctional Families (Genesis 37: 1-4, 12-28), an excellent read.

3cc4bee70e877c0133a073f41c368d1aI would argue that were we to explore the Irish historical narrative in this way, we would come to a more compassionate understanding of ourselves and each other.

For more on changing narratives in Ireland see On Changing Conversations in Ireland or listen to a range of speakers from the Changing Conversations series at XChangeNI Summer School 2014.

 

 

 

 




Progress not Perfection

What would I do if I didn’t have to do it perfectly?images-1
A great deal more than I am.

Julia Cameron

 “Progress not perfection” is a mantra heard frequently in support groups. I repeat it often in my work with clients and when I am trying to be gentle in my own self -talk.

It’s a reminder that “good enough is good enough”. Whether one is recovering from addiction, writing a resume or adopting a new food plan – beating oneself up for “missing the mark” is self-defeating.

Perfectionism is paralyzing!

How many things haven’t you tried because you were afraid to look silly? I did and among others – missed an opportunity to learn to ski. I still mourn the courses I didn’t opt for in college because “I can’t afford a ‘C’. How much richer would my experiences be in the museums I love, had I been satisfied to “get” even just 2/3 of what an esteemed Art History professor had to say.

You get the point.

welcome progress road sign

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence

Vince Lombardi Jr.

Let’s take Mr. Lombardi’s advice on board – he never had a losing season while coaching in America’s NFL.

No perfect seasons – but all winning.

 

“If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything.” – David Foster Wallace




Welcome

wecome doorway

The change I encourage is to repair and restore your own sense of self and to bring those lessons and habits into an effort to repair and restore your world.

Whatever attracted you to this blog and my work, you are very welcome.

I hope it serves as an inspiration or impetus on your personal or professional journey. Its essence simply reflects the lessons of mine.

I now live a prosperous life, trust abundance and am, for the first time in nearly six decades at ease.

My dis-ease or discontent had different manifestations over the years. Depression, obesity, an interrupted career path & a broken marriage to name but a few.

A life and work here in Ireland presented itself as the youngest of my three daughters reached adulthood. The gift of my struggle to mother well is that the “mothering” skill didn’t escape me. Nurtured, both by learning self-care and to accept nurturing from them, I was available and confident enough to seize an opportunity when it unexpectedly presented itself.

My work supporting personal change, career development and entrepreneurship is anchored by skills I began to develop in the 80’s when an unexpected mentor guided me from an ill chosen profession to this one.

Availability is the common denominator to both life changes.

These changes began ages ago, which I highlight as proof that we all have the capacity to change, by degrees, with steps forward and slips back, over the long haul.

Personal change is where it begins. The lessons are developmental and universal. Well-reared children in all cultures come of age with the skill to live at peace with themselves.

They move from dependent infants, to terrible toddlers, to determined and rebellious teens and through the course of adulthood they evolve into confident, consensus seeking adults who negotiate calmly, both personally and professionally, to establish their place in the world.

Sadly, most of us don’t experience this ideal and uninterrupted progression. We reach adulthood struggling with our dis-ease or discontent. At best, we wish we were happier at work or at home, at worst we self medicate that dis-ease with substances or behaviours to numb it.

Thankfully if motivated by our discontent, we can all choose change.

Whether the dis-ease is in your personal or work life there are stories for you here.

And if you recognise the dysfunction of our social, economic and political systems rooted in the dis-ease of our leadership, then there are stories to inspire and empower you to challenge that leadership.

That is “servant leadership”.




Emerald Valley – One year old!

It has been a year to the month that we set up on Canal Street, and we are Empowering Change in Emerald Valley now!

We’ve grown, we’ve pivoted and we’re better than ever!

…at the Bath House:

Artful First Fridays is now a regular feature. Launched in October, Peadar Jackson generously shared his work. Ten pieces are on display through November. It has transformed the space. Visit and tell us which should become part of our permanent collection!Rostrevor artist Colum McEvoy will exhibit in December with an Artful First Friday reception on December 7th. We are open by appointment and most Friday evenings.

Winter Showcase!  “Good News” stories abound.  Join us Friday, 23 November.

The Women that Work group is hosting an open house and members will display their products and services. Start your holiday shopping or visit to see how our professionals can help market your business with their services.

Our partners at Absolute Entertainment Ireland have kept the Bath House busy! We were delighted to have hosted the filming of a music video by Allison McGrath.

With Wasted, we added film to our arts & culture repertoire. Cathy Brady and her film crew were resident for two weeks. A Newry native, she returned from England to set her latest film in the Mournes and Donegal. We are hoping to host a screening soon! Whet your appetite with a look at  her work.

We hosted Minister Arlene Foster on a Newry visit arranged by Councillor Connaire McGreevey. She toured the Canal Street co-working space, chatted with our resident start-ups and SME’s but seemed most taken with our young volunteers. …on Canal Street:

Our Summer Showcase introduced you to three new businesses we were proud to have “incubated” on Canal Street. Phlok.me – sponsored the Belfast DANI (Digital Advertising in NI) and I was delighted to join them. The application offers loyalty points and a social network to keep you up to date with friends & participating retailers between Dublin and Belfast.  Sign on and get points for following Grounded, Jack Murphy Jewelers, Maypole Interiors and more from Newry.

Then add merchants from Belfast to Dublin. You are on your way to a points award of £25.

Resident company,  SocialClix biz won recognition for their work on Tyrone Timber Frame. If your digital marketing is “do it yourself”, follow them on Phlok, Facebook or Twitter for a stream of updates to maximize your digital marketing impact. If DIY is exhausting visit SocialClix.biz – they’d be happy to review your strategy and propose a plan to streamline it.

We were delighted to read what Kallsafe.com had to say about their experience at Empowering Change:

The offices provide everything a start-up needs; space to grow when you need to, meeting rooms, good infrastructure and an environment of collaboration where entrepreneurs come together, meet, exchange ideas, challenge each other and celebrate successes.

Mobipaypoint – another pioneering resident has rebranded as Mozobi – after worldwide market research indicated this had the broadest appeal.  The rest is hush-hush until the official announcements – we can’t wait! Tech startups are not our only residents.

Traditional businesses and consultancies form the core of our residents. Prestige Design & Print (PDP), NetCare & Relive Productions – all resident for a year now, offer support – sharing their combined 1/2 century of experience – with folks just starting out.

New startups, residents & members include: Anabu, BMM People Development, Terra Nova and The Gaelic Foundation.

Startups don’t just happen.  Eve Earley and Empowering Change associates create the environment to energise success.

…at Empowering Change

We support your change in a disciplined, collaborative & supportive environment with individual coaching & counseling, group work and courses or by inviting you to participate in events with like-minded people at “Cafe Conversations” or “Friday Meet-ups”.

We also support Neo Ireland, a social enterprise whose board comprises our pioneering residents. Its mission is to grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem by supporting businesses and projects that will help change the culture to embrace the idea of self employment. This will make the way easier for us all.

A few of those projects include: BizCampNI,  Learn 2 Learn 4 Life and Newry’s POP – Newry’s Pride of Place.

Interested? Call in for a chat or join us on a Friday evening to catch the buzz on the Quay!

*Wondering about the “for Rent” sign on Canal Street? Help us out! It’s only the ground & 2nd floors that are available. We want great neighbours!

Our “pivot” moved half our residents to the more comfortable 1st floor (nearer the coffee!). We still offer memberships, desks and conference room rental.  We’re also supporting “The Hub” and “Mind Your Business NI”. There are now 3 co-working spaces in Newry. There is no excuse for spending the day at work in a hotel lobby or coffee shop. Take your small business seriously with a professional or virtual home with one of us!

 




Cross Border Development Zone, Business led!

Brian Morgan raised the question in a Border Counties Forum on Linkedin: Can Local Authorities really lead the development of a Cross Border Development Zone?  http://goo.gl/Fu2d0

The success of BorderBizCamp proved: good things happen when 15 business folk conspire and drive the engine of government agencies.

This can happen on a as wide and broad a scale as the border counties themselves. Bradley & Best’s study (see above link) is what we have long known. The very nature of the region itself, geographically and politically made us an entrepreneurial sort. “Bandit country” has the potential to lead the way for economic recovery on the island of Ireland.

This consideration of a 32 county economy and a market of 6 million vs. 4+2, is without a political agenda. Collectively we must conspire to grow and export our IP, our goods and services and not our children.

Where to begin? Well versed in your own industries, you know better than I. A blow- in with a private technology and entrepreneurial incubator, and as a passing experience of running businesses in medicine and Real Estate offer the following:

No mother with a child complaining of a sports injury is prepared to wait 8-16 weeks for an MRI. I was impatient with an 8 week wait for an echocardiogram. Skilled technologists – not doctors are largely responsible for the delivery of these services. In US emergency rooms (A&E) in rural areas and during the late night shifts in urban settings, technicians perform the scans and doctors in Asia read them during the middle of their work day. A shortage of radiologists or junior doctors does not impede the delivery of health care. In fact, it drives down the costs. These machines, staffed and run in underserved areas would create jobs in sustainable businesses.

Currently, cardiac surgery necessary in NI but not available, is paid for by the NHS to Dublin hospitals. Residential treatment for eating disorders not available on the island, is paid for by both health services for treatment in England and America. Insurance companies pay both services. It can be done and it need not be elitist. If private industry can provide this service more efficiently and cost effectively, then let’s explore health care as an economic engine for the border. It can simply subcontract to the health services.

Similarly, investment in ambulance services pays off. Across rural America, many local hospitals serve as triage centres for regional trauma centres. State of the art motor and helicopter ambulances are staffed by physicians, physicians assistants and/or skilled medics.

This system began to evolve following the return of highly qualified medics from the Vietnam War theatre. The UK has announced such a pull back from Afghanistan and of late Iraq. Highly qualified medics and trauma nurses are already trained and available. While I know the proposed introduction of helicopters to the border is dicey – these would be well received. It could become a jobs program for returning veterans. They could lead the training of local professionals.

New York City investors in the 40s & 50s, impatient with banks and other available finance mechanisms created a new instrument , the REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust). Oversimplified it is a mutual fund run by real estate professionals. If great minds could create that lasting & secure financial instrument, we can adopt the method, or create a new one. Individual investors here and in the Diaspora could buy shares creating substantial funds. Public-private partnerships can then build relief roads and technology parks.

Lastly, currently bringing investment to the Newry/Dundalk region has taught me that the single greatest opportunity will come at the hands of an attitude change. “What would you be movin to this feckin country for?” – It needs to be replaced by:

I live in a beautiful region – the prototype for C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. I live and work 15 minutes from home, all within 1.25 hrs drive of two capital cities with world class museums, theatre and restaurants. My business is within a 2 ½ hour drive of 75% of the population of the island.

The men and women who built Silicon Valley, the research and technology centres in Colorado and the Golden triangle in the Carolinas – they don’t live and work in New York City or LA. They live and work where the quality of life is like our own. Offices are on campuses not in skyscrapers, there is access to nature, the mountains and the sea. Good schools and a great place to rear children.

The island of Ireland is uniquely positioned to be the conduit through which the research, development and customer service needs of North and South America – meets Europe and Asia. One thousand a week don’t have to emigrate.

A decade from now we can be bringing them home with their new skills and new found love of life in “these feckin countries”. But only if we all conspire to tell the world.

Please follow the link, join the discussion on the Border Counties Forum and let your voice be heard!




On Communities Growing Professionally…

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

People often ask me what BizCamp is. An unconference. What’s that? Quite simply: it’s a labour of love.

Congratulations to the BorderBizCamp team; the day was brilliant, every detail was attended to and operations ran like a well oiled machine. The speakers were outstanding, the range and quality was excellent.

It was as it should be everywhere. A small group of motivated and determined business people took what works best about their relationships with each other,  the local enterprise agency and the M:TEK  location  and modeled it for the world. You genuinely brought the best out in everyone.

Thank you also to the Monaghan Enterprise Agency staff for volunteering on the day; business is business and I have often heard it said that agencies “don’t get it”.

Not this MEA team; look at enterprise defined and it could be seen in the energy and enthusiasm of every volunteer.

[ √]  A project undertaken, especially one that is important or difficult or that requires boldness or energy;

[ √]  The participation in such projects;

[ √]  A company organised for commercial purposes

[ √]  Boldness or readiness in undertaking; adventurous spirit; ingenuity.

Among the synonyms suggested:

[ √]  plan, undertaking, venture

[ √]  drive, aggressiveness, push, ambition

They definitely ticked those boxes.

Thank you to the sponsors who fed us and to the young volunteers. In the end it’s about the children. They watched more than 100 people come together to create a prosperity to allow for enough jobs on this island. They’re entitled not to have to leave home!

That’s leadership.




Storytelling…What it Helps to Know

Kevin Kling came into his own as a storyteller when while in college he realised, “Saturday night was only as good as the story you could tell about it on Sunday”.

Stories are the way in which we share the full measure of our experience.

The onus is on the listener to ‘take what you like and leave the rest’. Carefully chosen words unconsciously deliver a full message. Just how full becomes apparent not only in the first telling, but when compared to subsequent retellings.

We in the West let go of the gift of storytelling in the last half of the twentieth century. Arguably, in large part because we devoted ourselves to science. Science, we believed, would reveal explanations for everything “unexplainable”. We no longer needed to spin yarns for children about things like what the noise of thunder was or from whence the rain comes.

Filmmakers, songwriters and poets never lost sight of the value of a good story. Interestingly, and most notably in the case of film, consciously or not, they kept retelling the old stories.

  • If I said that StarWars was the Jesus story redux, a few might agree, some would deem me blasphemous, others just dismiss me.
  • If I argued that the Matrix was like the Abraham story, perhaps the same result. It doesn’t really matter, the telling of a story is enough.
  • J.K. Rowling got a generation reading again!  Harry Potter’s adventures don’t require interpretation, but it too is a “hero’s journey”.

Monomyth is a term academics use to describe one story common to the mythology of all cultures– the Hero’s Journey. The visual says it all:

Our task is to further explore how this universal story can inform our own. How we can grasp the significance of it in order to recognise a call to action in our own lives. There are heroes among us.  You are invited to explore your own story.

We live in challenging times. We can choose to despair, or to allow your stories to be transformative. You can choose the journey. It begins with you.

 

 

If you are intrigued, these links may be of further interest:

The developer of the Matrix, Christopher Vogler, describes it in his words http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73c36lzbyNw

A lovely comparison of the myths of different cultures and life stages can be found at: http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00212/monomyth.html

Our own history on this island was well preserved by the efforts of the Irish Folklore Commission: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Folklore_Commission

The archives are available to the public, and many on-line thanks to University College Dublin: http://www.ucd.ie/folklore/en/