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 

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

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 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.

Thanks in advance.

Updated- Links to some of my work

So I have recently updated a page with links to some of my work. I’ve written thousands of articles over the years but have never really had one place to read a lot of it. I’ve posted links to some of it below. I’m always adding to it, and have lots more to add. So watch this space

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Publications I have written for

I have written thousands of articles for different publications. I obviously can’t list them all here but I’ve included some links to a small sample of them below.

  • In 2008 I won an Investing on Health Media Award for an article I wrote about a young man in my community called Richard Alcorn who suffered horrific injuries in a car crash. Richard does amazing work on road safety and has won awards for his work. Life’s never over you can always start again
  • I was also shortlisted for New Feature Writer of the year in the National Council for the Training of Journalists ( NCTJ) for the article on Richard but also another one I wrote on Ian Howley, a suicide survivor who was campaigning for improved mental health services for young people. ( I don’t have a link to that article but I’m trying to find one so watch this space.)
  • Aswell as editing from 2012-2017, I wrote for them on a regular basis as a volunteer from 2004. From 2004-2017 I wrote thousands of articles.
  • I also published the book- Survival Guide to Life.  It’s currently out of print and 10,000 copies have been distributed around Ireland. You can access a free pdf or kindle version here.
  • I have had articles published in The Irish News ( I did my college placement there and worked on the news desk where I published articles daily), The Irish Times, The Irish Independent, Donegal News, The Donegal Democrat, Tirconaill Tribune, Donegal Daily, The,, A Lust for Life, and I have edited and written thousands of articles for award winning website

Continue reading “Updated- Links to some of my work”