On my morning run a random pick from my playlist was Bagatelles Summer In Dublin.  And without a shadow of a doubt………. rock and roll never forgets! Though I was physically in Dubai amid a global pandemic, for the next 4 minutes I was transported back to Dublin and the summer of 1990. That summer I graduated college and was working in a Youthreach programme in Inchicore. That summer I was living on Clonliffe Road. That summer was hot! That summer I was very young! That summer was the first and only summer I have spent in Dublin. So far……

It was two busses to get from Inchicore to Clonliffe Road. But because it was summer and I was young, unhurried and unworried by life, each evening I swapped the second bus journey for a walk from the city centre to home. Today as the music transported me back into the sights, sounds and smells of my walk it was as if I was there again retracing my route. Even the incline on Rutland Street felt real! I experienced the hustle of the businesses, the vibrancy of the Dublin people, I watched my bus pass me by as I walked and saw the pizza place and Quinn’s Public House which indicted my right turn onto Clonliffe Road. I saw the wide street of beautiful red brick houses, the low branches of trees in full bloom, heard people in and out of the corner shop, and chatting over hedging and fencing in the evening sun.

That was the summer in Dublin that started my journey to where I am today. My final teaching practice placement for my B. ED had been with the Youthreach programme earlier in the year. It hadn’t been my choice. As it turned out it was this placement that brought me back to Dublin that summer, and that experience lead to a teaching position in Blakestown Community School, Blanchardstown. The school principal decided to take a chance on a young, inexperienced and very green college graduate. I was offered 10 hours a week! I was delighted! In hindsight I was so fortunate. There I met a fantastic group of openminded, committed, talented, forward-thinking and fun people who opened up the world to me. There I made a lifelong friend. She had just returned from a year travelling Australia. She was a free spirit. I aspired to both. I still do. Though Australia broadened to the world.

As a new graduate from a sheltered upbringing much of that time was challenging for me on so many levels. But my recollection is of my growth, of friendships, of some wonderful students, of tremendous commitment to education and community, and of six more years living and working in a city that I grew to love. I recognised at some point that I didn’t want to teach in the school system for all my working life, and I took a career break to see the world and be that free spirit. I am still on that journey. But that is a whole other story and totally different play list!

Today so many of my wellbeing practices and lessons are rooted in that Summer in Dublin. My knowledge has broadened, I apply my practices more intentionally, there is science now, but the fundamental lessons remain.

So, here are my wellbeing Oldies but Goldies; My Greatest Hits. For the science buffs, each lesson links to one or more elements of Dr. Martin Seligman’s PERMA model of psychological wellbeing (pic below).

  1. Music is powerful, choose it wisely. It can transport you to times and places and can help create and alter your emotional and mental state.
  2. Walking not only lets you meet people and experience life up-close; it is also great exercise for both body and brain.
  3. You may not always get what you want in life wrapped and delivered the way you expected. But it will get to you. Sometimes it has a fancy bow, sometimes it is unwrapped, sometimes it is delivered, sometimes you have to collect it yourself. Be open to it all, and the lessons and gifts it brings. Usually the best lessons come from the unwrapped version you have to collect yourself.
  4. Place yourself in discomfort and challenge yourself. Discomfort and confusion are central to learning and growth. If you stick with it you will get through it, and it becomes easier. Even leading to mastery.
  5. Work with people who will help you grow, and who believe in you. Choose you circles carefully. Family, friendships, relationships are key to thriving. Or not.
  6. It is true that you don’t need to see the whole staircase. Just the next step. 30 years has passed quickly, and I still don’t see all the steps. But I take the next one. Keep going and make the most of every single moment.
  7. And finally, believe in yourself. Something I didn’t know for a longest time was that I’ve always had the power.

“And if sometimes I tire of the quiet, and I want to walk back up that hill,
I’ll just get on the road and stick out my thumb.
I know that you’ll be there still.”