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Water, water everywhere.

Counselling — admin @ 1:25 pm

Here at Counselling Connections we are without water this week. It could be an awful lot worse because we have a mains supply but we turned off the water and drained the system before the Christmas break as a precaution on account of the sub zero temperatures. It’s just as well we did because we had a frozen pipe which has burst and when the thaw came, because of our foresight we avoided a calamitous flood. We just need to get our friendly plumber to call and fix the leak and we can safely turn the water supply back on. Others were not so lucky and we are aware of colleagues whose premises have suffered bad water damage over the holiday.
Before coming to work this morning I cleaned up after breakfast, loaded and flicked on the dishwasher. Its something we do without giving it a thought nearly every day of the year. It is so easy to take a supply of clean running water for granted. We expect it to be there and we feel a bit cross and put out when it is cut off. The same goes for central heating and for electricity which we have come to regard as basic requirements. We are not accustomed to doing without these things which in the space of a couple of generations have gone from ‘mod con’ luxury to basic requirements.
Our grandparents’ generation and their parents in particular would have had to manage without these things. One topic of conversation this week among those whose water has been cut off is how to fill the cistern and how to manage the toilet. It seems many have resorted to supermarket bottled water for flushing the toilet. It would be interesting to hear what a great grandparent would have to say about this were they alive today. We are living in a time of convenience and of plenty where our needs can largely be met at the local supermarket. The weather induced deprivations of the past few weeks have reminded us to appreciate the basics that we have come to take for granted.
There has been an admirable level of stoicism and even good humour surrounding these difficulties. Some were laughing at the incongruity of boiling the Christmas Brussels sprouts in bottled water while we heard of another joking boastfully of mopping the floor with a brand of French mineral water! A spirit of neighbourliness has abounded with the old Irish ‘meitheal’ co-operation being found in stories of friends and communities giving each other a hand through the weather related difficulties. Ironically, given the talk of how previous generations would have taken these ‘deprivations’ for granted the internet and social network sites have facilitated some of this spirit of neighbourliness.
Our hope for the New Year is that we will all maintain an awareness of each other and that a spirit of neighbourliness and of passing on some of what we have to others and to new generations will thrive. In this, in good natured getting on with it, and in bringing this spirit to commerce in particular we will find a way past the challenges facing our country and our world. We can start small, start local, enjoy and embrace life and reject the temptation for stagnation and depression in favour of moving on, living and sharing.
Happy New Year.
Dundalk, Counselling Connections.

When a child is born.

Psychotherapy — admin @ 1:57 pm

Here at Counselling Connections we are looking forward to celebrating Christmas together as one big family. This got us thinking and reflecting on the subject of bringing a child into the world. The birth of a baby is indeed a cause for great celebration. The expectant mother in particular will already have a close relationship with the baby that has been growing inside her. The father too will be anticipating the birth of his own baby and looking forward to holding it close and getting to know him or her. It is time of new beginnings and of hope for the future.
Being in the line of work that we are in we also spare a special thought at this time for all parents and children for whom this early hope wasn’t quite realised. We offer our support and understanding to those who have lost babies this year and in years gone by. The thoughts of every parent who has suffered such a loss will turn to these babies and this time and of what might have been. We remember too all those desperately trying to become parents and we hope with you that the doctors and nurses can help make your dream a reality.
It is also a reality of our modern world that two people who bring a baby into the world may part before the task of bringing their baby to adulthood is complete. This can be sad for parents and children alike. Sometimes too we find in our work that some parents quite simply get it wrong and don’t do a good job. This is often something that is hard to face. Sometimes talking this through in therapy helps to come to terms with it.
A big well done too to all the parents who are trying their best and who will be doing all they can to make this Christmas a happy one. It takes quite an amount of planning to make sure everything works out right and we hope you enjoy the reward of a smile or a thank you along with the quiet pleasure of watching your young ones happy and enjoying themselves.
So, we’ll light a candle this Christmas Eve in hope in remembrance and expectation. We’ll enjoy a few days off with family and we’ll be back at work next week and we’ll work hard and try to ensure that some of the hope and expectation of when a child is born can be fulfilled.
A Happy Christmas to all our clients and friends.

The solstice sunrise is coming!

Psychotherapy — admin @ 1:02 pm

Here at Counselling Connections this week we are looking forward with anticipation to the solstice next Tuesday. The longest night of the year is the culmination of an increasing darkness that has been building for months. When the sun appears on the horizon the following morning it is greeted and celebrated as representing the longer, warmer days to come. Its appearance on this day means we are putting the dark days behind us and looking forward to better, more abundant times ahead.
At least, that is what it used to mean to the people who lived in these parts in ancient times. A small number still gather on the nearby Hill of Tara to celebrate the solstice sunrise and a good deal of attention is focused on Newgrange where the passage and chamber of the megalithic tomb is still illuminated by the solstice sunrise just like it was when it was built over five thousand years ago.
In pre-Christian times there would have been a week of celebrations at this time of the year. To those ancient people, our ancestors, the weather and the seasons mattered greatly. They relied on a bountiful harvest to see them over the lean winter months. Even though this coming week represented the very middle of those dark months, it pointed none the less to brighter days ahead.
We have electric light now and central heating and well insulated homes. We get our food by and large from supermarkets, it is brought to us. We are less tuned in to the turn of the seasons than our ancestors were. They celebrated the promise of more light to come for very practical reasons but they also understood the spiritual aspect of it: the idea of renewal.
As we lift our heads from the daily rush at this time of year we can look to the solstice sunrise in the week ahead and allow ourselves some hope for better times ahead. The dark days may not be finished with completely but there is hope for renewal and brighter times. Just as our ancestors had studied the seasons and the movements of the earth we can look back to previous cycles in the economic life of the country and the world and see that bad times passed and were followed by better ones. We can be sure of that. Maybe what we need to learn then is to store up some of the abundance we create for like the turn of the seasons we can bet that there will be bad times again. And so it goes.
So, here’s to the last of the dark days; to the promise of brighter days ahead and to renewal.
Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

Christmas is coming

Counselling — admin @ 2:51 pm

I was reluctantly walking up from the counselling centre here in Seatown Place towards Dundalk town centre yesterday at dusk. The footpaths are hard to negotiate with compacted snow and ice. That fear of falling is one only an adult can comprehend… I saw a little toddler running along gleefully in front of his Mammy, not even considering the possibility of a fall for a second and I thought of how we lose those childlike qualities.
I was very struck by the number of older people who were out getting their few bits and pieces, two ol’ fellas having a chat and a laugh, no hurry on them. I particularly noticed one old woman who was walking slowly along with her tartan shopping trolley (you know the kind I mean). I was cold, my feet like blocks of ice in my new purple (Lidl) wellies bought just for the snow….she smiled the broadest smile at me, no words passed between us, just a nod. As I walked on I found myself wondering what sort of Christmas she was going to have, if there was anyone to get her shopping on a day like this?. Had she any relations, any children, grandchildren even? Or did she just want to get out and be independent? She might even have been getting a pint of milk and a loaf of bread for her even more elderly neighbour, I don’t know her story but for sure she has lived through many Christmases….
It got me thinking about how Christmas is ever changing for us as we continue through life. From being the child whom Santa (hopefully) came to, through to the woman of eighty odd years I met on the street. How many Christmases had she loved, endured, been in love through, had babies, excited toddlers and indifferent teenagers? Had she a loving husband, was he still alive? Maybe she had had a difficult marriage and was glad it was no more. She might have remained single … was she lonely or content with the choices she had made? How did she feel about this Christmas approaching?
Life is ever changing, nothing stays the same….people leave us through illness and death, babies are born, new relationships bring the oddest of families together, separation and divorce divide families and create new ones, people grow apart and remain under the guise of marriage, children will grow up, leave home, start their own families, maybe emigrate. Christmastime can magnify our ‘situation’; it can highlight the pain that is already there, the loneliness that we are busy ignoring. On the other hand it can make us really appreciate the relationships we’ve got, imperfect and all as they are…
Maybe Christmas is a time to be honest with yourself, accepting where you are at and doing the best you can. Sure, you may wish some things were different but for now it’s enough of a starting point to want things to change in the future. You are where you are at as a result of your experiences in life. Like the woman I met on the street, her life of eighty odd years has led her to be out in the snow, doing her own shopping in Dundalk, kind enough to give me a smile when there was nothing I could see to smile about! Knowing and accepting yourself and your situation is essential to effecting change. There’s nothing to be gained from beating yourself up about it. Forget about putting huge demands on yourself. Be kind to yourself and this will reflect in your relationships with others. If you are lucky enough to have children in your life be proud that Santa is surely on his way in these recessionary times, bringing what he can. Of course spending time with children is more important for them than all the toys. The benefits for adults are immeasurable too and it can be just what we need to bring us back to ourselves, like the toddler in the snow, unafraid of falling, uninhibited by fear.
Counselling Connections.

Clear blue skies and silver linings.

Psychotherapy — admin @ 11:05 am

Here at Counselling Connections we have been carefully watching the weather this week like everybody else. We have seen record low temperatures for November and significant falls of snow. It makes life difficult; for a start it’s very cold, then there’s the difficulty getting around and anxiety about the state of the roads and of missing important appointments. We nearly fell into the trap of concentrating only on the bad news aspects of the weather but we were reminded to lift our heads and look around by a remark by a television weather lady.
We were attentively listening to the weather forecast on Sunday night when the presenter informed us to pay particular attention to the sky. Because of the northerly airflows over the country the air we are getting is pure, unpolluted arctic air. Watch out for the sky she told us and you’ll see.
Well, we went straight outdoors and looked up and sure enough there was a beauty to the clear blueness of the sky that is beyond words. We’ve been watching out for it all week, it makes for beautiful early evening sunsets and clear views of the surrounding countryside. Monaghan’s drumlins are crisp, clear and cosy looking and the Cooley Mountains are resplendent in their winter coats with the backdrop of the clear blue arctic sky.
When you meet someone on your travels and the talk is of traffic chaos and disruption to business and you reply by asking if they’ve noticed the sky you might get a funny look. It is not part of normal discourse to point out something beautiful in the midst of the day to day busyness of life. We get very caught up in being busy. A good deal of psychotherapy is about remembering and working through the problems of the past. We can become preoccupied and even stuck on certain things. It is important work and it helps us to clear things up and invite in to our selves a clarity similar to that provided by the pure arctic air this week.
Once everything has been analysed and, if you like, picked apart its time then to begin to join things back together again. Its time too to let go of the dark clouds of the past and get in touch with an aesthetic, with the beauty of ordinary, everyday simple things. This beauty can be found in loving relations with others and with an appreciation for the beauty of nature which is all around us, even in town. It can be found in our selves too, in a non-competitive, non-defensive generosity and inquisitiveness for the world around us. And in taking responsibility for our own lives and actions in an independent, grown up way.
So, that’s a lot I suppose to draw from the simple beauty of a clear blue sky . . . but it is worth taking a look. Maybe it will help us step out of our over reliance on being busy and distracted and have a look at some other aspects of life which we may find rewarding.
Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

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