FOUR PILLARS FOR THE YEAR AHEAD

My first blog post of 2017! This month, usually the slowest and most dreaded of the year, hasn't really felt like that at all round here.  Although I have been a bit quiet on the blog front, I have been squirrelling away behind the scenes writing my first ever e-guide 'A Simpler Start To The Year' and putting some foundational priorities in place for the year ahead.

I wanted to share with you some of these things - put them in writing, almost as a form of accountability to myself.  I mentioned in the e-guide that I there are certain pillars in my life that when I make sure that they are upheld, they sustain me and help me keep my priorities in check. Being outside with my family, doing a job that has an impact, spending time with friends that know me and are for me, and making time for creative pursuits are the main four. So, right at the outset of the year I have tried to mark down some of the ways I am putting things in place to try and keep these pillars steady throughout the year.

FAMILY LIFE

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I really love my two days away from my Freedom Acts job when I get to spend time with Ada, pick Levi up from School, get stuff done around the house and skip off for lunch and playdates with friends.  I feel like it's a good healthy rhythm in my week that enables me to enjoy motherhood.  When it comes to the precious weekend, I want to make sure that we get outside more as a family - even when the weather sucks. We almost never spend the day outside exploring or going on road trips to the seaside and regret it. Every single one of us in our four respond well to the outdoors and fresh air - it needs to be a regular intentional thing.

As an aside - alongside our Instagram hashtag, Aly and I are hoping to start a monthly #MotherhoodAlive Podcast this year! The idea is to dedicate episodes to explore how different mothers work out rhythms to keep their passions and interests as priorities when family life can be so relentless and busy.  We both find this to be such an important thing for us and we know many of you are also working out how to find the space in your life to keep prioritising the things that you ignite you as you navigate parenting so we hope having some discussion around it and interviewing other mothers will be a real inspiration to us all that it can and should be done!  We are podcast novices so it should be fun figuring it all out - Aly and I have such a laugh together so hopefully we'll bring the banter too.  Will you listen in with us?!

JOB

As many of you know, I coordinate Freedom Acts, a project that I lovingly refer to as my third child.  My work involves raising awareness, campaigning and most of all, being strategic to prevent the exploitation of people most at risk in our communities.  Our team is small but fiercely committed. One thing that I've realised in the five years that I've been doing this is that having a creative element to this work is really important to me (and, I believe, to the cause).  It can be heavy, serious work, so I have felt like I needed some offline accountability to make sure that I am leading well and keeping my creative voice well tuned so I've got some coaching sessions booked in with Jen Carrington whose work and advice for creative women that are leading in various roles I've been devouring for a while now.  I really believe that investing in your own development (if you are able) is important and I'm looking forward to working through this stuff with Jen.

TIME WITH FRIENDS

I'm just back from a really beautiful weekend in England with two of my best friends. We decided it was stupid to continue missing each other, playing phone and FaceTime tag and that we needed to just book a long weekend in to catch up and make it a more regular thing.  There is something about being with friends that both affirm and challenge me that is so deeply good for my soul. Less chasing the half-hearted or one-sided relationships and more pursuing those deep soulful ones this year. 

CREATIVE PURSUITS

I used to consider myself a crafty person.  You may have even read a few crafty DIY's in the early days of this blog - there even used to be a whole room in our house that was dedicated to craftiness. However, my denial ran deep, as did my love for craft supplies.  I've realised that my creative muscles are not best flexed in the crafty area - I love the idea of being crafty, but truth be told most of my attempts end up looking like those 'pinterest fails'. I have found that I am at my best creative self when I am writing about things I'm passionate about or planning a special gathering of people so I'm really looking forward to making more room for that stuff this year.  

I can't tell you how awesome it has been to do 'A Simpler Start to The Year' this month and how overwhelmed I was by the response. To be honest, I thought I would launch it to crickets, but it seemed there were so many of us really ready to say goodbye to 2016 and delve into this new year with some intention. The series and content I wrote looked at our relationships with our possessions, our priorities and our perspectives (I do love an alliteration - it's the preachers kid in me).  As well as digging into these themes in each email, the conversations, sharing and support continued into a closed Facebook group where it has been amazing to meet such beautiful people on the same path and learn from each other.  I'm hoping to make the content available on here for anyone who didn't get to join in this time round.

This experience, my first taste of writing an email resource, was a learning curve. I'm so glad I did it and pushed myself to give it a go and I'm hoping to do more of these over the year.  Writing on the blog will continue, honing in on content that I'm proud to have here - posts about ethical living, family life, creativity etc.  I'm also going to be doing some writing for some beautiful magazines and online publications which isn't something I had planned on but I'm excited for nonetheless.  

Finally, I'll be launching tickets for the Assembly Winter Gathering THIS WEEK! We have secured a really cool venue and have lots of lovely things planned for creative females to come together in Northern Ireland. If creative community with other women is what you are craving, will you join us?

Phew! I feel good about putting this stuff out there as intentions and priorities, even if only some of them come to fruition. I know that making the space and effort for any of them will really feed my soul.

What about you? What are you carving out time for this year? What are the pillars or priorities that help you feel more fully alive? Let me know in the comments, I'm always interested to hear...

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