‘I thought there was no way out. Creativity saved my life’- Inspirational speech by actor and activist John Connors

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John Connors accepting his speech at the IFTAs 2018

“This is a huge moment for me. Seven and a half years ago I was sitting in my house in Darndale in a little box room in the darkness contemplating suicide. That’s no mess. I thought there was no way out. My brother Joe reached out to me and we spoke for hours and he said I needed something. Something to latch onto. Something where I could put this energy into. he suggested acting. I dunno why but it was just a lightbulb moment. I remembered coming out of my first class… and it was like I was walking on a cloud.

I just discovered something. This world I never knew existed called creativity. It saved my life, it really did…… Creativity can be a component to heal people.”

I’m a huge fan of John Connors. I have heard him speak out over the years about his background, his community and give voice to many people who feel disenfranchised by Irish politics and the fragmentation that exists in society today. I think he is a great role model for loads of people. He is trying to break out against all the stereotypes that society is putting on him.

He is extremely proud of his traveller background and of course he should be, but society tells him that he shouldn’t be and that being a traveller is something to be ashamed of. In his IFTA acceptance speech for ‘Best Actor’ for ‘Cardboard Gangsters’ he talks about the fact that he can’t get an agent or a casting director to look past the fact that he is a traveller.

Forget all his activism. He is also a great actor. I loved him in Cardboard Gangsters and he thoroughly deserved his award. I saw the film in the cinema and it was one of my favourite Irish films in recent years.

He also talks about seven years previously when he was sitting in a box room in his house in Darndale contemplating suicide. His credits his brother with reaching out to him and suggesting he try acting as an outlet. Suicide is an huge problem in Ireland, but in the traveling community it is an even bigger problem.

He describes finding acting and a way to release his creativity as being a ‘lightbulb moment’ and credits creativity with saving his life. He believes “Creativity can be a component to heal people.” and I believe he is 100% right. Continue reading “‘I thought there was no way out. Creativity saved my life’- Inspirational speech by actor and activist John Connors”

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One teacher’s way of trying to prevent school shootings. (It involves looking at how young people are connecting with others and lots of empathy)

Following the latest school shooting in America there has been lots of questions about how authorities can pick up warning signs and stop such atrocities from happening. It turns out in this case and many of the others there were many warning signs but it just wasn’t enough.

I saw a story shared on Facebook today and I really loved it. The story I read told the story of a teacher and how they changed the way they teach following the Columbine school shooting. The writer Glennon Doyle Melton was speaking to the teacher who teaches her son and is recounting their conversation in the article.

Below is a direct quote from the article.

“Every Friday afternoon, she asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student who they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her, and studies them. 
She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who can’t think of anyone to 
request?

Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

The teacher is not looking to rearrange her classroom and choose a new seating plan for the children. She’s not looking for the most popular children or those that the other children admire. She is in fact looking for lonely children. Continue reading “One teacher’s way of trying to prevent school shootings. (It involves looking at how young people are connecting with others and lots of empathy)”

Learning to drive and what it taught me about stepping outside my comfort zone

Today I passed someone doing a driving test with my old driving instructor. I’ve been driving for about 10 years now and passed my driving test around this time 8 years ago.

I’ll be honest, driving scared the absolute shit out of me. I was an anxious person and the thought of combining that anxiety with driving. Well it was pretty horrifying. I never had any money for a car or insurance so I put it off as long as possible. But when you live in a rural area, there’s only so long you can put driving off.

I started simply by driving around our house and up and down the lane and over the road a bit. I did this for a couple of weeks until I got a bit braver. But I didn’t venture out onto the main road until my very first driving lesson.

The driving instructor was great and tried to calm my nerves. I started off getting one lesson a week and I’ll be honest I started dreading the next one immediately after the last one. I was so nervous at the beginning and used to ask his permission before I touched anything in his car as I had zero confidence. ‘Is it ok if I turn off the heat?’, ‘Can I put on the air to clear the windows?’ Each time he would always tell me that I was the driver and that I need to take control when in the car. Gulp…

Continue reading “Learning to drive and what it taught me about stepping outside my comfort zone”

That time I was given an award by South By South West (SXSW) Festival and flew to Texas to pick it up

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Outside the main conference centre in Austin by Marie Duffy

The time I flew to Texas and was presented an award by the prestigious South By SouthWest (SXSW) festival. Definitely an experience of a lifetime! Sat beside Jeffrey Tambor on a plane from New York to Texas and couldn’t figure out who he was until I saw him on stage as the festival. Left in the middle of George Takei’s talk when I checked my emails and realised I mixed up my flight details by 24 hours and had to leave for the airport immediately. Doh.

This time four years ago I was furiously in the middle of co-writing a book. I’m a writer so obviously I had always wanted to write a book. But for this project I had a really tight schedule- basically write it in three months and do my other duties at work at the same time. I get anxious just thinking about it lol

I also knew that I was going to the South By South West Festival (also known as SXSW) in Austin Texas to pick up an award for my work with Spunout.ie but also my work over the years as a mental health advocate and lobbying for change for better mental health services particularly for young people. Continue reading “That time I was given an award by South By South West (SXSW) Festival and flew to Texas to pick it up”

Rules to live by: 25 Principles of Adult Behaviour by John Perry Barlow

You may or may not have heard about the passing John Perry Barlow at the age of 70 this week. He was a Silicon Valley visionary and the Guardian describe him as a “Cattle rancher, lyricist for the Grateful Dead and internet pioneer who became a digital rights activist”. You can read their obituary here.

When he was 30, John drew up a list of what he called Principles of Adult Behavior. I’ve listed the principles below. I love them and think everyone should have a read of them and  they’re pretty good rules to live by.

Principles of Adult Behaviour

By John Perry Barlow

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, never blame. Say nothing behind another’s back you’d be unwilling to say, in exactly the same tone and language, to his face.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible. Continue reading “Rules to live by: 25 Principles of Adult Behaviour by John Perry Barlow”

Mental health survey

Fill out a mental health survey and help inform a project to boost people’s mental health.

I have to design a health promotion project that will benefit people’s mental health as part of a college course I’m doing. The course is called Mental Health in The Community and I’m studying it in Letterkenny but it’s with University College Cork . I need help and would love if you could fill out this survey.

It shouldn’t take long and you do not to have experienced poor mental health to take part.

http://bit.ly/mentalhealthsurveyucc

Thanks in advance.