From The Heart

The Mother In Me: What can we gain from activating the mothering relationship with our own inner child?

Mother’s Day has been and gone, and I took the opportunity to re-focus on the joy and privilege of being a Mother; to hold a position of such importance to someone else is no small thing. It’s easy to forget, amidst the noise of schooling and feeding, toilet-training and discipline, that as a Mum you are, at least for some years, the very centre of another person’s existence. And even when those early years are past and your little ones are not so little, when they are claiming their independence and acting out the much-warranted stance of going it on their own, you, as Mother, exist within them as a foundation of love and support, as a basis from which they will attune to the world around them. It is a privilege, certainly, and a massive undertaking. Even when we get it “wrong”, the impact of what we do will cause a chain reaction within our offspring, either of rebellion or of errors, all of which is learning for them and for us on where to go next.

So it is easy to forget this great honour when we aren’t living mindfullly in the Mothering space, when we are taken up with the responsibility of the role without always seeing the pared-back reality of holding the space of “Mother” in someone’s heart. The word itself conjures up so many positives but the meaning of the word can often get lost in the concept of a mother merely being a woman who gives birth and /or is the primary female caregiver to a child. Mothering is so much more than that. Every human being has had a mother to bring them into this world, but every human being also has the capacity for Mothering within themselves. Granted, it encapsulates feminine traits but we do not have to be a female to incorporate the feminine way-of-being.

There are so many types of Mothers: mothers-in-waiting, hoping to some day carry life within them; expectant mothers, both those who are pregnant and those awaiting the arrival of a child not biologically their own; bereft mothers, the pain of which experience no-one outside of it can truly know. But there are also those who have never given birth to a child and do not hold that longing within them, and these women (and men) can also have within them a mothering figure, a soul who can connect with and care for another soul in the most selfless ways. It is this Mother-within I would like to celebrate today.

When a client sits in the therapy room, seeking connection with another human being and looking for a space that can be completely theirs, a form of Mothering can often take place. The therapist usually does some form of “holding” for their clients. It is a symbolic holding, the holding of the space, not unlike the cradling of a baby at 3am when the rest of the world (and house) sleeps but Mum is content to simply wait and hold, confident that when baby is ready to sleep she will. This type of holding, this patient love which puts another human being’s needs at the fore, sometimes comes naturally into our everyday relationships, often borne out of an appreciation of that person, but can also be created and tended, like a muscle that is built up over time. Whichever one it is, it works best when the “Mother” figure is able to look after themselves first.

So what if each of us, as adults, were able to apply that same dynamic to the relationship we have with ourselves? Because just as there is the capacity to mother within each of us, there is, without exception, a child within each of us. Some of these children have had their needs well attended to in every imaginable way, others have not. But all of them still have needs. There is no magical formala for parenting which dictates the point at which the job is done. There is no parent on Earth who has managed to attend to every aspect of their child’s needs to the highest degree; the very idea of that is an oxymoron as the human condition is one which is ever-changing and ever-adapting. The “perfect” mother does not exist; Winnicott’s idea of the “good enough” mother is, instead, one we can all aim for.

So, somewhere along the journey from childhood to adulthood, we have been mothered and we have been left with a version within ourselves of what a mother is, or should be. Imagine what we could gain, as individuals, if we could turn that Mother-within towards our own inner child and tend to them with the patience and unconditional love that each of us deserves. Imagine what we could gain, collectively, if each of us listened to the “Mother-in-Me”.

International Women’s Day

When International Women’s Day first came within my radar, I noticed it for its emphasis on the undervalued women in the world, for the role it played in advocating for the rights of women in the most impoverished and unjust societies, and I celebrated the opportunity to promote fairness and justice for these, for all women. Since that time the Day seems to have expanded its reach to incorporate the concept of celebrating ALL women, in and of themselves, regardless of their circumstances, their power or lack of it. The global understanding of what Feminism is and what it can do, has altered and evolved to include a much broader remit. For me personally, and professionally in my role as Therapist, I am celebrating International Women’s Day as something a little different from either of these camps. Today I would like to celebrate the feminine within. Not just the feminine within me, or within the women I know, but the feminine within all of us. All of us humans.

It is commonly accepted that all people have both masculine and feminine traits, to greater or lesser degrees than others. We have the stereotypical version of what it means to be “male” in what has been, for much of history, a patriarchal society. This stereotype encompasses traits both “positive” and “negative” in the world’s eyes. We have the opposing stereotype of what it means to be “female”, again portrayed both in “positive” and “negative” lights. What if we were to ignore the concept of what a positive or negative trait is, and simply accept the feminine or the masculine as is?

In this version of exploring our gender, we might be able to note the feminine or masculine traits within ourselves and simply appreciate them for being there, without judgement. In this version of appreciating our own identity, we might then be able, today, to welcome-in the feminine within each of us, men and women, and be curious about what it allows us to do. Perhaps the feminine part of you allows you to care for another person with a focus and intensity that, at times, obliterates other, more utilitarian or practical considerations. Perhaps this aspect of your femininity paves pathways for solid, lasting, trusting relationships. Perhaps the feminine within you allows you to empathise with those you meet in a way that brings connection and meaning to even the smallest aspects of your life. Perhaps the feminine within you alerts you to another person’s need so strongly that you feel it at the deepest place within your being. Perhaps the feminine within you gives you the capacity to push through any manner of physical pain when you know there is light, or life, at the other side.

Whatever aspects of yourself are connected with the feminine, today might be the day to ask yourself, which of these are currently serving you? Which of these are not? And what parts of your femininity may need to be fostered and appreciated more….by You?


Today is the first day of Spring and the feast of St. Brigid – a woman known for her kindness, her care of the sick and for what I view as her dogged self-belief. If the story of Brigid’s cloak is to be believed, wherein she legitimately acquired a large tract of land – large enough to house the convent she dreamed of building – through convincing a wealthy King to gift her as much land as her cloak would cover, then Brigid’s self-belief and determination knew no bounds. Such was her faith in what she was doing and how she must go about it, that she didn’t waver when both her father and this King laughed at the audacious nature of her request. She was not only courageous enough to have a dream of great magnitude, but she held such integrity of spirit that she used her confidence in the good of what she wanted to achieve, to achieve it.

For most of the Western World, the first day of January is celebrated as New Year’s Day. This is traditionally the day on which we welcome new beginnings and make resolutions as to what we would like to achieve in the year ahead. While this is an encouraging thought and possibly much-needed after the festivities of Christmas have tapered off and we face into another month of Winter, it can also be difficult to muster all the necessary energy to initiate those resolutions at that time of year. This New Year’s, in particular, was more challenging than most, for most people. Given the context of a pandemic which, in Ireland at least, was resurging, it may have been hard for many of us to have the clarity of mind, or spirit, to make New Year’s Resolutions this January.

If, like me, you found yourself needing to devote that extra bit of attention to your own self-care these past few weeks, rather than reaching for additional goals to achieve; if, like most people, you have been working at simply keeping your head above water and dealing with each day as it comes throughout this past month of lockdown, then I invite you to join me in making this day – the first day of Spring – the beginning of your new year!

Tradition has us creating St. Brigid’s crosses from the common green rushes found all over the Irish landscape. I am aware of a most beautiful ceremony involving the making of the cross, in which each rush represents an aspect of your life you would like to honour. With this in mind, I will be making a St. Brigid’s Day cross today which not only marks the beginning of Spring, the Celtic Festival of Imbolc and celebrates the many wonderful qualities of an independent, strong-spirited yet gentle Irish woman, but which also gives me the opportunity to symbolically invite into my life every blessing I would like for this year ahead. As I add each rush to the cross, I will welcome into my life health, self-belief, kindness, connection, friendship, determination, love, self-love, joy, peace, compassion and courage. These “resolutions” need not be a form of pressured expectation, the failure of which can leave us doubting ourselves, but rather an open invitation to ourselves to work at noticing all of the good things we already have in our lives, even if some of them are yet to bloom. Welcome to the Spring!

Minding Mothers Minding Babies

This week’s national news regarding Mothers and Babies brings with it a depth of sadness and loss that could be overwhelming. Yet despite the horrific reality being brought to our attention – the tragedy of so many mothers left helpless and shamed, so many babies forced out of their mothers’ arms, their rightful place – there is a simultaneous outpouring of love and collective sigh of relief around the country, that we have at last reached the completion of one major step in the process of recovery. There is a long way to go, and much healing to take place, to recover any sense of dignity and atonement for the victims. However, as I watch the fearless Catherine Corless being interviewed on tonight’s Late Late Show, and listen to her heartfelt conversation with Ryan Tubridy about the need for people to ask questions, to be curious and to be open, I am struck by the power of ONE WOMAN. One woman and her courage to follow her intuiton.

It doesn’t take a national transgression or a widespread tragedy for there to be a need for courage and intuition. Each of us CAN be that woman (or man), have that courage, in our own lives. Each of us can live up to the challenges we are faced with daily – the challenge of being THERE for the friend who needs a listening ear, the challenge of speaking our mind about how we are feeling in ourselves, the challenge of owning our own part in another person’s narrative. When each of us takes responsibility, as best we can, for minding the Mothers – and babies – in our lives, we can heal so much pain, we can prevent so much suffering.

World Mental Health Day

As World Mental Health Day 2020 draws to a close, I take a little time to reflect on how I cared for my own mental health today….

I spent time with my family; I prepared nutritious (and delicious) food; I worked at creating and maintaining a comfortable and supportive environment (i.e. I “did housework”!)); I listened to music; I danced round my kitchen; I read stories to my children; I breathed fresh air; I stretched my muscles; I noticed – the world outside and the world within. And in those moments when Life started to move faster and my own bodymind began to struggle at keeping up, I paused, I breathed, I felt, I moved, I let go.

The road to recovery from mental illness is paved with small, everyday steps. The road to maintaining good wellbeing is the very same.

Treasure what you have.

New Beginnings

Delighted to announce my recent relocation to Ballycasey House in Shannon. A tranquil spot within easy reach of Shannon Town Centre. The perfect setting in which to take a breath and reflect. Looking forward to connecting and reconnecting with clients here.