Stepping into the flow.
These stories are from South Donegal in Ireland. The emerald Isle has beauty, mystery and magic at its core, the seas that edge this land, bring never ending waves of inspiration ashore.
My life’s work is to continue finding the flow. Some days it’s easier to find than others. Being in the flow helps me to enjoy my life more fully.
I write this story to remind us that we all have our thing, that brings us back into our realm of new possibilities and expansiveness.
“Magic and beauty are all around us,
you can see it and feel it, when you are in the flow with it.”
I bring you this story to inspire you and other people, to take the time to notice and take action on what helps you step into your own natural individual flow of peace and contentment.
The flow is when you are not judging yourself or others.
The flow is what helps you feel truly alive to be yourself, for yourself.
A way to notice your own vibrant healing energy, that helps you choose to feel re-empowered, and get lost for a little while in the joys of nourishing your own superpowers.
This story weaves the threads of five passionate Donegal women, Sheros, aged 43 to 83 who also practice the nourishing flow, that nurtures their mind body and soul.
Deep thanks to all women involved. I feel enriched by our connections in growing the community spirit of living in Rossnowlagh and Co. Donegal. Your love for this part of the world shines brightly from your beautiful souls. It has been a joy to meet you all in this way. Thank you for saying yes!
“When I am in my flowing river anything is possible.”
“You can’t stand in the same river or ocean twice.”
My purpose in life is to enjoy it as much as possible and help others find their health and strength of who they were born to be. I work as a Biomagnetic Therapist. Every treatment has a place for the question – what do you do for yourself, that nourishes your flow and makes you feel well, peaceful and contented?
At this time in my life I choose to support my own flow, by practicing what brings me structure and freedom.
Daily I practice creativity, Qi Gong, sea swimming with the local Mertails, using herbal medicine from my organic garden and practicing energy healing for good health and well-being.
This combination balances my immune system and helps me stay healthy and curious about feeling really alive.
I have been coming to Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal since before I was born, in my mummie’s belly. Joan McAskie Scott and her mother Rebecca McAskie also truly loved the freedoms of this place. Through these women and the vision of their men, I have the luck to make my home in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal.
The energy of the waves of colour here at the edge of the sea refresh me, the singsong of constant changing tides and weather, rolling in from the wild Atlantic create the big picture. Donegal has it all.
I used to swim in the sea alone, not every day but when I felt like it. When I entered the waters in the winter I didn’t stay long.
Susan inspired me to join with a few others to swim daily. I stayed in the water longer and showed up for myself and the other Mertails.
Rain, hail or shine – I swam – to let go of frustrations and feel my vitality zing through my body, choosing fully, to be alive.
Susan Finnegan (in her 40s), is the instigator of the local, all year round sea swimming group. A photographer who also runs the local shop and Post Office with her husband Liam. They are the hub of the Rossnowlagh community. Liam’s ancestors have run the P.O. here since 1895. Susan and Liam came back from the U.S. in 2000 and have developed a thriving business living in Rossnowlagh with their family.
I first started swimming in the sea every day on 1 January in 2021. I have always loved swimming, and over the last few years I would swim in the pool every week day before lockdown came in.
I never thought in a million years that I would be swimming in the Wild Atlantic everyday.
“Donegal is the most beautiful county in Ireland. The people, the lifestyle and having the Wild Atlantic Sea on my doorstep inspire me.”
Swimming first thing in the morning sets me up for the day. It leaves me with a clear head, like I can face any difficult tasks that may come my way that day. The thing I love the best is letting out that big roar, so the whole world can hear me. It’s a great stress reliever, when I first dive into the water and the shock of the cold water touches my skin. Cold water swimming has huge benefits. I haven’t been sick once since I began to swim daily.
I challenge myself to swim in the ocean every day this year. Swimming on your own is lonely. I definitely like the company of friends which helps me do it and I love the social aspect of meeting new friends too. I know I’ve found my tribe.
“Being one with the ocean.
It’s just something inside, connects me to the water.”
Sea swimming and getting into my energy flow helps me to find freedom by connecting with the wild nature of the ocean. It’s my time for me. The feel-good endorphin release revitalises and nourishes my energy. Nothing will ever get in the way of my sea swimming, I plan to swim every day as long as I possibly can.
I feel energised, alive, reinvigorated. Cold water swimming is the best thing that ever happened to me, I still sometimes can’t believe that I actually do it daily, as I used to think people were mad swimming in the sea all year round, as it’s so cold. Now that I am acclimatised I absolutely love it. Best therapy ever!
The creative flow
Claire Falconer (43), Fermanagh woman living at Tully, Ballintra, Co Donegal.
Claire has lived in Donegal for seven years. She returned from 10 years in the big cities – Rome and L.A. – where she was involved in Indie film making. “As my energy crashed I felt the pull back to nature, and came back home to Fermanagh. My family booked me two nights in the Sandhouse hotel Rossnowlagh. I walked across the beach and up to the Smugglers Creek and met a bunch of new friends all on the one night that remain friends to this day.
I loved the wider horizons, the wild open sea, different from the lakes of Donegal. A place to spend time outdoors.”
Why Donegal? Divine intervention, cousins passion rubbed off on me. Family close by. Donegal is such an easy place to be alive. I moved to an oldie world cottage Dingly Dell for five years. For the first year I slept a healing sleep, which helped me come home to my voice and creative flow. My feet grew half a size bigger from walking barefoot summer and winter.
Lights up a vast variety of landscape, most beautiful county, so wild and so peaceful. Organise healing gatherings connecting with wild peaceful free and connect with wide skies and the sea and swimming in the lakes up by Pettigo.”
What do you do that connects you to your flow?
“Being in nature – living a close connection with nature – with the changes in the seasons. With the arrival of each new flower blooming. I’ve often thought as I fully sense the smell of each wild flower in turn blooming – is there not undoubtedly perfect medicine for each season in this alone.
Learning about all the plant medicines around us, here for us, calling to us.
Immersion in wild nature – wim hof breathing wild.
Cold swims. Forest being. Barefoot walking.
Another fundamental of mine. Hands in the soil. Muck under the fingernails, between the toes.
If I go too long without my bare feet on the earth I feel the buzz of the modern world seeping into me. It needs to be discharged. We have our own vibrations and they do not benefit from technology overload.
In my body I want to be. Fully.
Movement. Skeleton shakes, imitating my cat Mena in her stretches.
Singing freely – learning to overtone sing.
Feeling the vibrations echo through and open up my body.
Morning pages, mapping my dreams.
Not breathing deeply is like a plant ignoring its tap root, not tapping into its roots.
Real food for real energy and real healing.
Sound – singing – toning – voice – the greatest instrument.
Working alongside nature, witnessing her glow.
‘Creative splurges’ – working with my friend Rob has encouraged creative splurges – 5, 10 minute sketches on a theme with no expectations to revisit or ‘finish’. It has allowed me to put less expectation on what comes and to value the potential to create something great in a very short time frame too – when in the flow.
I’ve found books, like the artist’s way (and quotes from them), immensely helpful in recent years as I recognise more and more that we must ‘learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open’. ‘We need to be willing to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly’ Shakti Gawain.
In essence, connecting all the dots – finding balance, practicing lots of different arts and disciplines, all of which come from and feed back into the same well. Painting is something I’ve done especially a lot of and so it is a honed language for me. I can express myself as I wish to, usually. But sometimes singing channels the energy better, or writing, or cooking.”
Did you always love it, or how did you first get connected to your flow in this way?
“I did always love art and painting, creating.
I was always a nature child and would get lost among the trees beside my childhood home for hours. I then got distracted, went to study law and spent 15 years in the big cities of Belfast, Rome and L.A. on a filmmaking journey.
It was when I returned home to Ireland, heeding the call back to nature, that I began doing inner work, healing and reconnecting with my flow.
Painting has been my passionate life’s work for 23 years now. I was taught while still studying law at Queen’s in Belfast, by the kindest soul Ken Hamilton, who was and is a master of his craft. He taught me that it is possible to dream outside the boxes in life – that you can draw your own path.
For years then I strove to emulate his mastery, it was a beautiful path for he valued beauty so highly but I sought perfection and it isn’t something you can chase. So I would judge myself and feel that paintings were never quite finished.
Then life took me into the cave. Stripping away the layers to connect with the real me. The inner child. The most challenging work and the most powerful healing. Shamanic work. My art has evolved with my own journey and finally become connected to me, aligned with my heart’s work in this lifetime.
Awarding myself the freedom to set my own goals, steer my own ship. I work with the intention to inspire and heal.
Visionary – embracing my childhood knowing that I was a dreamer and a seer of beautiful things. I understood balance. Balance is key and alignment is all.
Allowing myself to dream – plan – goals – step by step and breath by breath.”
Judith Hoad (83), Inver, Co Donegal, is a writer, teacher, healer, carpenter, weaver and calligrapher.
Judith is full of stories, now journeying towards the end of her innovator flow. Her life was dedicated to inspiring people to choose natural living. Judith taught many courses on natural living and is an author three times over. “Donegal Tweed”, “Healing with herbs” and “Need or Greed”.
Memory as bright as a button, she talks about the way she flowed through her life from a child, when she had a bad reaction to penicillin, and later, antibiotics. She made up her mind that her kids would not suffer like she had, and went about finding alternatives for her family. Before she left Wales she visited many of the old people and asked if they would share their herbal cures for people and animals that worked.
In those days there were no herbal trainings available. She later trained in Chinese acupressure which was a great combination with herbal medicine, and set up her herbal apothecary in her home. Judith was a self motivated learner. Carpentry skills began at the age of 11 when someone gave her three mice. Her father who was a DIYer wouldn’t make a house for them so she got an apple box and adapted it for a mouse home.
In April 1980 she and her husband viewed the thatched cottage that would soon be their home. Gerry the artist stood with his face to the view and back to the house and said “Judith this is it!”. Judith stood with her back to the view and facing the house and said “oh no not another roof to repair!”. This would be the fourth roof she had replaced so far.
“We left Wales as too many English people were moving in due to Maggie Thatcher mangling British society. Both Gerry and Judith had Irish ancestry, and Gerry always wanted to go to Ireland.
“I love my house and the remoteness of its location. I love the natural wild hill that has a long view over the Donegal bay. I like my own company and am content to live alone.”
Judith also writes a daily dairy and has done so for years. She loves her cats and writing poetry. She read me one of her poems from her diary during my visit. Judith says “just put the penny in the slot and off I go. I have many stories of a long life”.
As we walked to the round house, she picked some cleevers herb. It cures every sort of rash, she said. You learn something new every day! That’s what I love about herbs they have so many qualities and can treat many different ailments.
Her last project, the round house, a beautiful naturally insulated space that looks down the valley out to sea. Because she lived off grid, a man who was helping to build the round house went about sanding the floor and forgot this was not the usual house that was wired with electricity. The charge required for the sander was more than her battery power and blew all the batteries that stored the converted wind energy .
She got used to living life for three years without electricity. Then out of the blue a man in her writing group informed her of a 100% grant that she could avail of to get the electric connected and for the first time she had electric light in the cottage. Another surprise happened last winter when a friend arrived with the gift of a new TV, the first TV she had ever owned in her life.
Judith is writing her story, she loves her books. The flow is the work that keeps her and her home alive. She drives to the well and fills eight gallons of fresh water daily and brings them into the house, feeds and cuddles with her two cats, keeps the fire lit, enjoys cooking, drinking medicinal herbal teas and when all the jobs are done, she settles into her favourite chair (that she made forty years ago with dowel rods rather than nails or glue) with a bowl of little pieces of seasalted chocolate and reads book after book after book.
Gill Keogh (late 60s), Taijiquan & Qi Gong teacher Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal.
Gill Arrived in Rossnowlagh in the 80s when her partner’s father was unwell. She had been living in London, and when they walked out of the door of the house towards the west what she saw before her blew her mind. The vast beach and ocean at Rossnowlagh. Gill had no ideas she was even near the sea. It was easy to make the choice to move, so much space and freedom.
Gill began training in Taijiquan & Qi Gong in the 70s. It took dedication and good tuition, time and practice to understand the energy flow within the body, and get a connection. “As my knowledge deepened, my connection increased.”
“When I practice, I notice my mind, breath and body connecting through movement internally and physically, as Qi flows and the body structure feels strong.
Practicing the flow in these refreshing exercises, mentally calms me, physically strengthens me and gives me stamina, emotionally balances me. I benefit by keeping the mind and body balanced and the Qi flowing freely. Nothing really keeps me from my practice, the continual practise does allow for occasional time off and I feel OK with that. Morning or evening is best. When tired it helps the body relax.
I create structure by taking the time for me, to rebalance my energy flow, and boost my immune system. I receive nourishment and feel good due to endorphin release. I relax, calm and slow down. The challenge is to improve and deepen my knowledge.
A good day (is) when it all comes together. I like to practice alone and with others, and feel inspired in my teaching practice. After a practise session I feel calm yet energised.
Qi energy enhances my body, mind and spirit both through stillness and motion internally – Qi moves through the body like water flows.(Energy like water can gently ebb and flow whilst having depth and potential to move with power. It enhances health, well-being and strength so greater power may both be built or released.
When I practice, I feel calmer, relaxed and nourished. Slow movement practice can both improve and finesse better posture and movement whilst still resulting in re-energising my body, as endorphins release to create a sense of feeling good which allows me to support and nourish others.”