Tag Archives: west of ireland

Treat Yourself

Chinese Medicine teaches us that it’s important to boost our Yin Energy. Yin Energy is a cooling energy. It’s the energy of rest and stillness. Its opposite is Yang, which refers to heat and activity. When Yin Energy goes down, Yang rises. Alternatively, when Yang rises, it burns off the Yin. Either way, when Yin diminishes, the ageing process accelerates, disease sets in, and the person becomes irritable, suspicious, and “hot and bothered”.

Aside from treating yourself with acupuncture or Chinese herbs, there are many other wonderful ways to boost your Yin. All you have to do is relax, unwind, and enjoy life. Medicine never tasted so sweet.

Here are some ways I treat myself…

Taking myself out for coffee. I nearly prefer going for café solo as I’m free to cover myself in yellow cupcake icing, before licking my fingers and thumbs and perusing the Sunday papers.

Silent meditation – just sitting in the quiet, and not having to do or be anything. Becoming aware of my thoughts and bodily sensations. Letting go and surrendering so I can tap into the oneness of the Universe…

Midweek Movie Mania – this is my new favourite hobby. Every Wednesday, I make the trip up to Dublin to meet a few mates. And each week, one of us decides upon the film and the venue. This is promptly followed by a pint and a laugh in the pub. What better way to shake off the stresses of the week?

Booking a trip – be it backpacking in South America, a sun holiday in Spain, a retreat in the West of Ireland, or a weekend splurge in a European city, it’s always nice to have something to look forward to. And getting a breather away from everyday life is a tonic in itself.

A walk or a cycle or even a sit-down or picnic outdoors. Nature always calms and inspires me and puts things into perspective.

Buying myself a new outfit and applying my best makeup. Just because.

A bath. With bubbles. And candles. And relaxing music.

Long yoga stretches that one instructor described as “delicious”.

A great book, a cup of tea, and an ultra comfy couch…

Turning off all the lights and gazing at the flickering flames of the fire. Mesmerising…

It doesn’t require much effort or cash to boost your Yin. So go on, take the (Chinese) doctor’s advice and treat yourself! You don’t have to ask me twice!

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Tracing memories…

A few weeks ago, my aunt gave me her unused copy of Cheryl Richardson’s Turning Inward, a lovely journal of self-discovery. I’m loving this unexpected hand-me-down as it’s forced me to really reflect upon what’s important in my life, what I fear most, and what’s blocking me from unleashing my potential.

Tonight, I turn to page 22, where I’m asked about a favourite memory. I struggle against the memory that immediately pops into my head as it involves an ex, with whom things ended badly. Despite this, I start to write…

"Recalling days of sadness, memories haunt me. Recalling days of happiness, I haunt my memories.' Robert Brault

Last summer, my ex-boyfriend bundled me into his van and brought me to Ballyferriter, a small Irish-speaking town in County Kerry on the west coast of Ireland. This was where I had spent my childhood vacations. I hadn’t been there in 16 years so I was extremely excited to revisit this special place.

This impromptu trip has elbowed its way into my patchwork quilt of favourite memories because it was beautiful in its own right and because it awakened a whole landscape of wonderful older memories…

We peered into the boarded-up caravan where I’d spent summers playing heated games of cards and Scrabble, where I’d listened to the tap-dancing rain when I wasn’t warbling along to Mariah Carey on the Walkman, where my cousins and I had huddled together as we whispered ghost stories and feasted on apple drops and Dip Dabs, where my grandma had taught me how to knit a tea-cosy while my granddad completed the Irish Times’ crossword, where we’d dipped bread soldiers into runny eggs with RTÉ Radio One  playing in the background…

We visited the beach where my family and I had picnicked and ridden waves, built sand castles and squelched across seaweed, savouring the sounds and smells of the ocean. This was where I’d drunk my first can of cider and chatted up boys in my native tongue.

We pitched a tent (which was an experience in itself) and drove into the village. I pictured myself, as a child, walking into town, stopping to pick black currants and suck on fuchsias. I remembered dangling from monkey-bars in the hotel playground as I gazed out at An Fear Marbh

An Fear Marbh (the dead man)

We wandered around the village as I regaled my beau with stories of my brother, cousins and I going to the pub to drink  Coke “in a bottle, with a straw”, playing pool against the locals, then buying lollipops and turnover bread with our winnings of punts and pennies, and investing in my first pair of dangly earrings…

Having showed him all the sights, we munched on fish and chips, washed down with a pint of the black stuff. That night, we cosied up on the beach while the crashing waves serenaded us…

The following morning, we woke ourselves up with an excruciatingly refreshing swim. We warmed up by running the length of the beach, then executing a number of yoga moves while still in our bathing suits (much to the astonishment of the well-wrapped-up passers-by). Afterwards, we used a small camping stove to make the most delicious breakfast I have ever had (no exaggeration) of poached eggs and tea…

Writing about this bittersweet memory has taught me three things:

  1. The most wonderful memories are made up of the simplest scenarios.
  2. Even though life hasn’t turned out the way you expected, what happened before still counts.
  3. Just because someone is no longer in your life, doesn’t mean the memories you shared with them should be tinged with sorrow.

Last summer, I was happy and in love. Last summer, I delighted in spooning and holding hands. Last summer, the man I loved made it possible for me to rediscover some of the best moments of my life and, in the process, gave me a wonderful new memory that will stay with me forever. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Images: http://mydeardiamond.tumblr.com/; http://crunchy-little-human.deviantart.com/art/Childhood-198323794; http://inphotos.org/2006/12/21/an-fear-marbh/; neon-stories.tumblr.com; http://www.bigonbuds.com/category/uncategorized/