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Its our society & our world


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Home Street Home

Posted on April 3, 2016 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (4964)

Home Street Home.

By: Paul Fitz


Being killed with kindness?



Following the deaths of at least 4 people in a short period of time during early 2016, it seems unfathomable that a tragedy such as this could take place in the 21st century, in such a civilized and loving city.


The real tragedy transpired that the street sleepers actually had the option of accommodation/shelter but chose to stay outside – they chose to stay outside in the middle of winter and to sleep rough on the streets. Why would somebody make a decision like this?


One effect/symptom/behaviour of street sleepers is many develop what we have identified and we call it SECONDARY GAIN.

Many street sleepers develop an effect/symptom/behaviour that we have identified and call ‘Secondary Gain’ – or Learned Helplessness.

Picture this:


Allow me to set the scene: You’re sitting in a doorway and an office worker drops a few quid into your cup, this happens for a number of hours until the peak foot traffic period is over, through the rest of the evening there are volunteers coming around and providing you with hot drinks, food, sleeping bags, clothing etc.

Then the pubs empty and you might have people buying you McDonalds and putting some more money in your cup, the quantity of course depends on their level of intoxication.

Now let’s change the scenario: You’ve been given accommodation, what happens at 4:30pm? Where’s the office worker dropping money into your hands? Who knows your door and gives you money? At dinner time, who’s coming around to your home and handing you a meal, a coffee, some clothes – where is this need being filled from?

You now have to look after yourself. Who has prepared you for this? The price a rough sleeper pays for the support they receive is no roof over their head. We’re all familiar with the phrase the nanny state, through no fault or malevolence of their own, is the charity/volunteer sector providing the mummy effect here? To the point that their children don’t want to end up having to fend for themselves?

With this in mind, the common call of ‘open up empty buildings’, would that still work?


Empathy with street sleepers is at a high, this is mainly to do with the recession and that many people are grateful to actually have a home – all of us are all too aware that house possessions have been on the increase. The fear of unemployment, redundancy and job insecurity is all too real and the possibility of facing homelessness themselves is not out of the question – the phrase ‘negative equity’ is perhaps the class shibboleth of our current generation.

With Northern Ireland having the highest percentage of property repossessions in the UK, confidence in the NI court system has recently been undermined by various court actions against whistleblowers who have tried to show the weakness and bias within the court system – favouring the banks over the people is the reality. Who can we trust or turn to? BBC Spotlight recently highlighted this with their NAMA investigation which appeared to show some solicitors and politicians who were heavily involved in banking decisions that perhaps wasn’t in the best interests of the people.




Do real street sleepers suffer from Psycho-social stress? Psycho-social stress is the result of a cognitive appraisal of what is at stake and what can be done about it. More simply put, psycho-social stress results when we look at a perceived threat in our lives (real or even imagined), and discern that it may require resources we don't have. Examples of psycho-social stress include things like a threat to our social status, social esteem, respect, and/or acceptance within a group; threat to our self-worth; or a threat that we feel we have no control over. All of these threats can lead to a stress response in the body.


When psychosocial stress triggers a stress response, the body releases a group of stress hormones including cortisol, epinephrine (or adrenalin) and dopamine, which lead to a burst of energy as well as other changes in the body. The changes brought about by stress hormones can be helpful in the short term, but can be damaging in the long run. For example, cortisol can improve the body’s functioning by increasing available energy (so that fighting or fleeing is more possible although some choose the freeze response), but can lead to suppression of the immune system (does this contribute to the shortened life expectancy of street sleepers?) as well as a host of other effects. Epinephrine can also mobilize energy, but create negative psychological and physical outcomes with prolonged exposure. That's why it's important to manage psychosocial stress in our lives so that the stress response is only triggered when necessary. It's also important to learn stress relief techniques to effectively reverse the stress response so we don't experience prolonged states of stress, or chronic stress.

During ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, psycho-social stress was very evident. People in their own homes simply did not feel safe. This led to a state of mistrust within and communities became very suspicious of strangers and acted accordingly. The tension was in the air, as it were, it seemed to lift when members of these same communities visited other places on holiday for example only to reappear on their return home. This led to increased levels of medication and indeed self-medication through the abuse of substances such as alcohol, drugs and food in both communities in quantities hitherto unknown. In many cases the church, even though it could have been seen as a divisive factor, was a welcome refuge for many. In some communities is this tension being expressed towards foreign nationals who are trying to integrate into Northern Ireland?

Street sleepers are also being taken advantage of by the sudden rise of career beggars, people who imply or pretend to be homeless and in need of goodwill & assistance. This practice is perhaps being encouraged by the public empathy towards genuine street sleepers. The people who choose to be career beggars enjoy the benefit of public goodwill towards homeless people and the donations the public provide to individuals.

Are career beggars clouding and distorting the real problem of street sleepers?

How can we help and protect the people who need it the most?

How do we support the homeless with the long term help they really need?

How do we think in new ways to offer our homeless people effective help?

Should we respect their decision to street sleep and not interfere, all because it's not our normality?

Should councils consider multi-purpose street furniture?

Who is really dealing with the situation and can the various bodies amalgamate to produce a more rounded service?

How do we recognize that the world especially the street sleepers world is a much better place due to the support volunteers who provide around the clock care which is ultimately life-saving.


Grief n trauma

Posted on July 27, 2015 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (4376)

The passing of your mother is your first sorrow wept without her.

A friend recently found herself in this position when her mother slipped away after a long illness, when her mom was dying, her siblings and herself gathered to be with their mother in her final days. None of them knew anything about supporting someone in the transition out of this life into the next.

While they supported their mum, they were, in turn, supported by a gifted palliative care nurse, Gina, who came every few days to care for their mum and to talk to them about what they could expect in the coming days. She taught them how to inject their mum with morphine when she became restless, she offered to do the difficult tasks (like giving their mother a bath), and she gave them only as much information as they needed about what to do with their mothers body after her spirit had passed.

“Take your time,” she said. “You don’t need to call the funeral home until you’re ready. Gather the people who will want to say their final farewells. Sit with your mom as long as you need to. When you’re ready, call and they will come to pick her up.”

Gina gave an incredible gift in those final days. Though it was an excruciating week, they knew that we were being held by someone who was only a phone call away.

Gina played an important role in their lives. She was much more than what can fit in the title of “palliative care nurse”. She was facilitator, coach, and guide. By offering gentle, nonjudgmental support and guidance, she helped the family walk one of the most difficult journeys of their lives.

The work that Gina did can be defined by a term known as holding space.

What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

Sometimes we find ourselves holding space for people while they hold space for others. In our situation, for example, Gina was holding space for them while they held space for their mum. Though we know nothing off Gina’s support system, we can suspect that there are others holding space for Gina as she does this challenging and meaningful work. It’s virtually impossible to be a strong space holder unless we have others who will hold space for us. Even the strongest leaders, coaches, nurses, etc., need to know that there are some people with whom they can be vulnerable and weak without fear of being judged.

It’s not always easy, because I have a very human tendency to want to fix people, give them advice, or judge them for not being further along the path than they are, but I keep trying because I know that it’s important. At the same time, there are people in my life that I trust to hold space for me.

To truly support people in their own growth, transformation, grief, etc., we can’t do it by taking their power away (ie. trying to fix their problems), shaming them (ie. implying that they should know more than they do), or overwhelming them (ie. giving them more information than they’re ready for). We have to be prepared to step to the side so that they can make their own choices, offer them unconditional love and support, give gentle guidance when it’s needed, and make them feel safe even when they make mistakes.

Holding space is not something that’s exclusive to facilitators, coaches, or palliative care nurses. It is something that ALL of us can do for each other – for our partners, children, friends, neighbours, and even strangers who strike up conversations as we’re riding the bus to work.

1. Give people permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom. When they were supporting their mother in her final days, they had no experience to rely on, and yet, intuitively, they knew what was needed. They knew how to carry her shrinking body to the washroom, they knew how to sit and sing hymns to her, and they knew how to love her. They even knew when it was time to inject the medication that would help ease her pain. In a very gentle way, Ann let them know that they didn’t need to do things according to some arbitrary health care protocol – they simply needed to trust their intuition.

2. Give people only as much information as they can handle. Gina gave some simple instructions and left a few handouts, but did not overwhelm them with far more than they could process in the tender time of grief. Too much information would have left them feeling incompetent and unworthy.

3. Don’t take their power away. When we take decision-making power out of people’s hands, we leave them feeling useless and incompetent. There may be some times when we need to step in and make hard decisions for other people (ie. when they’re dealing with an addiction and an intervention feels like the only thing that will save them), but in almost every other case, people need the autonomy to make their own choices (even our children). Gina knew that the family needed to feel empowered in making decisions on their Mom’s behalf, and so she offered support but never tried to direct or control them.

4. Keep your own ego out of it. This is a big one. We all get caught in that trap now and then – when we begin to believe that someone else’s success is dependent on our intervention, or when we think that their failure reflects poorly on us, or when we’re convinced that whatever emotions they choose to unload on us are about us instead of them. Teachers for example can become more concerned about their own success (Do the students like me? Do their marks reflect on my ability to teach? Etc.) than about the success of their students. But that doesn’t serve anyone . To truly support their growth, we need to keep our ego out of it and create the space where they have the opportunity to grow and learn.

5. Make them feel safe enough to fail. When people are learning, growing, or going through grief or transition, they are bound to make some mistakes along the way. When we, as their space holders, withhold judgement and shame, we offer them the opportunity to reach inside themselves to find the courage to take risks and the resilience to keep going even when they fail. When we let them know that failure is simply a part of the journey and not the end of the world, they’ll spend less time beating themselves up for it and more time learning from their mistakes.

6. Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness. A wise space holder knows when to withhold guidance (ie. when it makes a person feel foolish and inadequate) and when to offer it gently (ie. when a person asks for it or is too lost to know what to ask for). Though Gina did not take the power or autonomy away, she did offer to come and give the mother baths and do some of the more challenging parts of care giving. This was a relief to the family, as they had no practice at it and didn’t want to place their mother in a position that might make her feel shame (ie. having her children see her naked). This is a careful dance that we all must do when we hold space for other people. Recognizing the areas in which they feel most vulnerable and incapable and offering the right kind of help without shaming them takes practice and humility.

7. Create a container for complex emotions, fear, trauma, etc. When people feel that they are held in a deeper way than they are used to, they feel safe enough to allow complex emotions to surface that might normally remain hidden. Someone who is practiced at holding space knows that this can happen and will be prepared to hold it in a gentle, supportive, and nonjudgmental way. In The Circle Way, we talk about “holding the rim” for people. The circle becomes the space where people feel safe enough to fall apart without fearing that this will leave them permanently broken or that they will be shamed by others in the room. Someone is always there to offer strength and courage. This is not easy work, and it is work that I continue to learn about as I host increasingly more challenging conversations. We cannot do it if we are overly emotional ourselves, if we haven’t done the hard work of looking into our own shadow, or if we don’t trust the people we are holding space for. In Ann’s case, she did this by showing up with tenderness, compassion, and confidence. If she had shown up in a way that didn’t offer us assurance that she could handle difficult situations or that she was afraid of death, we wouldn’t have been able to trust her as we did.

8. Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would. Holding space is about respecting each person’s differences and recognizing that those differences may lead to them making choices that we would not make. Sometimes, for example, they make choices based on cultural norms that we can’t understand from within our own experience. When we hold space, we release control and we honour differences. This showed up, for example, in the way that Ann supported us in making decisions about what to do with Mom’s body after her spirit was no longer housed there. If there had been some ritual that we felt we needed to conduct before releasing her body, we were free to do that in the privacy in our own company.

Holding space is not something that we can master overnight, or that can be adequately addressed in a list of tips like the ones I’ve just given. It’s a complex practice that evolves as we practice it, and it is unique to each person and each situation.

It is my intention to be a life-long learning in what it means to hold space for other people, so if you have experience that’s different than mine and want to add anything to this post, please get in touch.

Hold space for yourself first

Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

This desire to hold space well for other people is vast and diverse.

PLEASE take the time to hold space for yourself so that you can hold space for others.

It is not selfish to focus on yourself.

In fact, it’s an act of generosity and commitment to make sure that you are at your best when you support others. They will get much more effective, meaningful, and openhearted support from you if you are healthy and strong.

What does it mean to “host myself first”? It means, simply, that anything I am prepared to encounter once I walk into a room, I need to be prepared to encounter and host in myself first. In order to prepare myself for conflict, frustration, ego, fear, anger, weariness, envy, injustice, etc., I need to sit with myself, look into my own heart, bear witness to what I see there, and address it in whatever way I need to before I can do it for others. I can’t hide any of that stuff in the shadows, because what is hidden there tends to come out in ways I don’t want it to when I am under stress.

AND just as I am prepared to offer compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and resolution to anything that shows up in the room, I need to offer it to myself first. Only when I am present for myself and compassionate with myself will I be prepared to host with strength and courage.

In other words, all of those points that I made about how to hold space for others can and should be applied to yourself first. Give yourself permission to trust your own intuition. Give yourself only as much information as you can handle. Don’t let anyone take your power away. Keep your ego out of it. Make yourself feel safe enough to fail. Give guidance and help to yourself with humility and thoughtfulness. Create your own container for complex emotions, fears, trauma, etc. And allow yourself to make decisions that are different from what other people would make.

This isn’t necessarily easy, when you’re doing the often stressful and time-consuming work of holding space for others, but it is imperative.

Here are some other tips on how to hold space for yourself.

1. Learn when to walk away. You can’t serve other people well when your energy is depleted. Even if you can only leave the hospital room of your loved one for short periods of time, or you’re a single mom who doesn’t have much of a support system for caring from your kids, it is imperative that you find times when you can walk away from the place where you are needed most to take deep breaths, walk in nature, go for a swim, or simply sit and stare at the sunset. Replenish yourself so that you can return without bitterness. Whenever you can, take a longer break (a week at a retreat does wonders).

2. Let the tears flow. When the only thing you can do is cry, that’s often the best thing you can do. Let the tears wash away the accumulated loss in your soul. A social worker once told me that tears are the window-washer of the soul” and she was right. They help to clear your vision so that you can see better and move forward more successfully. When my partner was in the psych ward a few years ago, and I still had to maintain some semblance of normalcy for my children, I spent many, many hours weeping as I drove from the hospital to the soccer field and back again. Releasing those tears when I was alone or with close friends allowed me to be strong for the people who needed me most.

3. Let others hold space for you. You can’t do this work alone and you’re not meant to. We are all meant to be communal people, showing up for each other in reciprocal ways. As we mentioned earlier, we were able to hold space for the mum in her dying because others (like Anne, the palliative care nurse) were holding space for the family. Many others were stopping to visit, bringing food, etc. They would have been much less able to walk that path with their mother if they hadn’t known there was a strong container in which they were being held.

4. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply “paying attention to your attention”. In mindfulness meditation, you are taught that, instead of trying to stop the thoughts, you should simply notice them and let them pass. You don’t need to sit on a meditation cushion to practice mindfulness – simply pay attention to what emotions and thoughts are showing up, and when they come, wish them well and send them on their way. Are you angry? Notice the anger, name it anger, ask yourself whether there is any value in holding onto this anger, and then let it pass. Frustrated? Notice, name, inquire, and then let it pass.

5. Find sources of inspiration. There are many, many writers, artists, musicians, etc. whose wisdom can help you hold space for yourself.

6. Let other people live their own stories. You are not in charge of the world. You are only in charge of yourself and your own behaviours, thoughts, emotions, etc. Often when you are a caregiver, you’ll find yourself the target of other people’s frustration, anger, fear, etc. REMEMBER – that’s THEIR story, not yours. Just because they yell at you doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Take a deep breath, say to yourself “I am not responsible for their emotion, I am only responsible for how I respond”, and then let it go. When you’re feeling wounded by what they’re projecting on you, return to the points above and walk away, practice mindfulness, and let others hold space for you.

7. Find a creative outlet for processing what you’re experiencing. Write in a journal, paint, dance, bake, play the guitar – do whatever replenishes your soul. Few things are as healing as time spent in creative practice. Try a thing called Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing,

done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–

they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about

anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes

only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and

synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put

three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.


Religion means so little when someone means so much

Posted on July 12, 2015 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (1346)

Religion means so little when someone means so much:

I was born & reared on Sandy Row, a loyal Orange Prod;

I stood for good King William, that noble man of God!

My motto - No Surrender! My flag - The Union Jack!

And every Twelfth, I proudly march to Finaghy, and back.

A loyal son of Ulster, a true blue, that was me,

Prepared to fight, prepared to die for faith & liberty.

As well as that, a Linfield man as long as I could mind,

And I had no time for Catholics, or any of that kind.

And then one night in Bangor I met wee Rosie Green.

The minute I laid eyes on her, I knew she was my queen;

And when I saw she fancied me, my mind was all a-buzz,

And I clean forgot to ask her what her religion was.

Next time we met I told her, "I'm a Proddie, staunch & true!"

And she said, "I'm a Catholic, and just as staunch as you".

The words were harsh & bitter, but suddenly like this:

Centuries of conflict and hatred were forgotten with a kiss.

I knew our love would bring us only trouble & distress.

But nothing in this world would make me love wee Rosie less.

I saved a bit of money, as quickly as I could,

And asked her if she'd marry me - and dear God, she said she would.

Then the troubles REALLY started! Her folks went ravin' mad,

And then, when mine heard the news, they were twice as bad.

My father said from that day on, he'd hang his head in shame;

And by a strange coincidence, HER father said the same!

My mother cried her eyes out & said I'd rue the day

That I let a Papish hussy steal my loyal heart away.

And Rosie's mother said, when she'd recovered from the blow,

That she'd rather have the divil than a man from Sandy Row!

We were married in a Papish church, the other side of town,

That's how Rosie wanted it and I couldn't let her down.

But the priest was very nice to me & made me feel at home -

I think he pitied both of us - our families didn't come.

The rooms we went to live in had nothin' but the walls,

It was far away from Sandy Row & further from the Falls.

But that's the way we wanted it, for both of us knew well

That back among the crowd we knew our lives would be living hell.

But life out there for Rosie was so lonely, of this I so well knew,

And, of course, we also had our religious differences too:

At dinner time on Friday, when Rosie gave me fish,

I looked at it and then at her, and said, "Thon's not my dish."

I mind well what she said to me-- You've got to pay some price,

"And to eat no meat on Friday is a poor wee sacrifice

To make for Christ who died for us one Friday long ago,"

Anyway, I ate the fish-- and it wasn't bad, you know.

Then Sunday came and I lay on when she got up at eight.

But Rosie turned to me and said, "Get up or you'll be late.

You've got a church to go to and there's where you should be,

So up you get this minute - you'll be part o' the road with me."

We left the house together, but we parted down the line,

And she went off to her church and I went off to mine.

But all throughout the service, although we were apart,

I felt we prayed together, united heart to heart.

The weeks & months went quickly by and then there came the day

When Rosie upped & told me that a child was on the way.

We both went down on our knees that day and asked the Lord above

To give our child two special gifts alone-- tolerance & love.

We wrote and told our families--they never used to call -

And we thought the news might soften them, and so it did and all.

My mother, and then Rosie's, said they'd visit us in turn,

And we marvelled at the power of a wee child not yet born.

But we were quickly disillusioned when we found out why they came;

It wasn't to be friendly or to make up with us again.

Rosie's mother came to say the child must be R.C.

And mine said it would have to be a Protestant like me.

The rows before the wedding were surely meek & mild

Compared with all the rumpus that was raised about the child.

From both sides of the family, insults and threats were hurled -

Oh, what a way to welcome a wee angel to the world!

The child must be Catholic! The child must be a Prod!

But the last and loudest voice I heard was the mighty voice of God.

And to his awful wisdom I had to bow my head -

Just one hour after he was born, our poor wee child was dead.

That night I sat by Rosie's side and just before the dawn

I kissed her as she left me to join our angel son.

And my loyal heart was broken within thon lonely walls -

Where the hell's Shankhill! Where the hell's The Falls!

But that was many years ago, long years o' grief and pain

When I'd have given all I had to see Rosie's face again.

But my loneliness is waning now; I'll see her soon I know;

The doctor told me yesterday I haven't long to go.

And when I go up thonder they'll let me in, I hope,

But if they ask me who I'm for, King Billy or the Pope,

I'm goin' to take no chances - I'll tell them straight & fair,

I'm a Loyal Ulster Protestant - who loved a Papisher.

And one way or another, I know they'll let me through,

And Rosie will be waitin' there, and our little angel too.

Then the child will lead the two of us, the Papisher and the Prod,

Up the steps together - into the arms of GOD!

Social Experiment

Posted on February 11, 2015 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (1699)

This Social Experiment what has it highlighted so far?


Social awareness,

Self esteem,

Substance abuse,

Sleeping rough,


Mental Health,

Arts cuts,

Bureaucratic challenges,


Ex Servicemen homeless,

Suicide awareness & prevention,

Action verses debate,

Disadvantages of secondary gain,

Power of social media,

Alcohol Abuse,

Primary reason for Western World Epidemic for Homelessness,

Psycho Social Stress,

Primitive Technology integration,

Public respecting useful property,

Costs incurred by Public purse with rough sleepers,

Amount of resources used to control rough sleepers,

Average amount of hospital visits by rough sleepers,

Career beggars,

Useful integration of public amenities,




Posted on February 10, 2015 at 6:25 AM Comments comments (1970)

Psychosocial stress

Definition: Psychosocial stress is the result of a cognitive appraisal of what is at stake and what can be done about it. More simply put, psychosocial stress results when we look at a perceived threat in our lives (real or even imagined), and discern that it may require resources we don't have. Examples of psychosocial stress include things like a threat to our social status, social esteem, respect, and/or acceptance within a group; threat to our self-worth; or a threat that we feel we have no control over. All of these threats can lead to a stress response in the body.

When psychosocial stress triggers a stress response, the body releases a group of stress hormones including cortisol, epinephrine (or adrenalin) and dopamine, which lead to a burst of energy as well as other changes in the body. The changes brought about by stress hormones can be helpful in the short term, but can be damaging in the long run. For example, cortisol can improve the body’s functioning by increasing available energy (so that fighting or fleeing is more possible), but can lead to suppression of the immune system as well as a host of other effects. Epinephrine can also mobilize energy, but create negative psychological and physical outcomes with prolonged exposure. That's why it's important to manage psychosocial stress in our lives so that the stress response is only triggered when necessary. It's also important to learn stress relief techniques to effectively reverse the stress response so we don't experience prolonged states of stress, or chronic stress.


Lazarus, R. S. (2005). Emotions and interpersonal relationships: Toward a person-centered conceptualization of emotions and coping. Journal of Personality, 74, 1–38.

Storch, Maja (Jul 2002). Psychoneuroendocrine effects of resource-activating stress management training. Health Psychology, 26(4), 456-463.

During ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland psychosocial stress was very evident. People in their own country simply did not feel safe. This led to a state of mistrust within and communitiesbecame very suspicious of strangers and acted accordingly. The tension in the air as it were,seemed to lift when members of these same communities visited other places on holiday for example only to reappear on their return home. This led to increased levels of medication and indeed self-medication through the abuse of substances such as alcohol and food in both communities in quantities hitherto unknown and in many cases the church, even though it could have been seen as a divisive factor was a welcome refuge for many. Slowly but surely after the ‘Good Friday’ agreement things seemed to return to more normal proportions and for quite some time both communities enjoyed a state of relative calm.

The next major psychosocial challenge came in Ireland with the sex scandals involving the church and the behaviour of some of its hierarchy. Something that many people had believed in and trusted almost without question for centuries was now ‘unsafe’ as it were, leaving its faithful followers often profoundly traumatized. The increased prosperity brought about by the ending of the troubles and the rise of the Celtic tiger did give some people at least some comfort to cushion the blow.

This relative comfort was shattered during the recession of 2008/9 when the ‘safe havens’ of banks could not be trusted as the general public were asked to bail them out due to questionable lending policies. The effects were devastating and psychosocial stress increases dramatically. There seemed to be no safe places where people could go to get advice as professionals too were not to be trusted. Government at the time however seemed to be doing all they could to steadythe ship as it were and people just got on with everyday life.

The ‘on the run revelations’ increased stress levels in Northern Ireland however when a large section of the community realized that the British government could not be trusted as the famous ‘get out of jail free’ letters to some former republican ‘terrorists’ were finally revealed. At the same time banks were accused of rigging markets in several countries and other questionable practices eroding public confidence and increasing psychosocial stress even further. This was added to by the seemingly impotent powers or lack of will on the part of the judiciary to bring the perpetrators to justice. It looked as if bankers could ‘get away’ with stealing billions and a housewife shop lifting a loaf or garment to feed or clothe her family was incarcerated and labeled a criminal.

Psychosocial stress is very real and the powers that be need to take measures to do whatever it takes to renew public confidence in institutions or the consequences may be dire. Is the judiciary too about to fall on its own sword?


Posted on February 10, 2015 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (2394)

Please respect the choice the people behind this have made to protect their identity at the moment, you may or may not know who they are but they choose to stay anomyous at present and we ask you respect that. 


Posted on February 10, 2015 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (1122)

this is my new saying for this year so if i greet you with it you will understand: "I wish you enough!"


Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport as the daughter's departure had been announced. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said:"I love you and I wish you enough."The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom." They kissed and the daughter left.The mother walked over to the window where I sat. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry.I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking but why is this a forever good-bye?""I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is the next trip back will be for my funeral," she said.When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, "I wish you enough." May I ask what that means?" She began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more. "When we said 'I wish you enough' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them". Then turning toward me, she shared the following, reciting it from memory,"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."She then began to cry and walked away.They say it takes a minute to find a special person. An hour to appreciate them. A day to love them. And an entire life to forget them.


Posted on February 10, 2015 at 6:15 AM Comments comments (233)

I hope that in this year to come, if you happen to make a mistake, learn from it, let yourself off the hook and have another go.


Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.


So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.


Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.


Make your mistakes, next year and forever.


Posted on February 10, 2015 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (1393)

Two Choices: What would you do? make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there isn't one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: 'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son? 'The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.' Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a fatherI also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps. I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play? the boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.' Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. the pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game. Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first! Run to first!' Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!'

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. B y the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball . the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay' Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!

Shay, run to third! As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!' Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team 'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

What would you do? Have a Shay day?