Social Media Detox part II

Good evening my lovely readers and Happy Monday! Let’s motivate ourselves this week by diving headfirst into the next step of Social Media detoxing; ‘Accepting that you cannot control everything’. That is one of the most hardest concepts to accept, accepting that we can’t control everything, and I use the word control in a manner not like controlling a person, but rather our environment. We cannot control the words or actions of another being, but we can learn how to deal with behaviours. Alas, fear not as we are all in this together and we are all continuously learning each and every day about our surroundings. I do apologise for the gap in releasing the next issue of the series. I’ve got quite a bit on at the moment, which I will talk about another time! For now, let’s get stuck in…

Accepting that you cannot control everything

After a couple of months being social media free, I noticed a lot of benefits physically, mentally and spiritually. My mind was a lot freer and less intoxicated by the negativity of the world and my mood in general was better than ever. I had a lot more motivation in going to and enjoying the gym, I was a lot more productive in work, I had a bit more peace about praying and my anxieties had gone from every little thing being a trigger, to rarely feeling so much as a twinge in my chest! Let me just say that I am not entirely blaming social media for all my stresses, but it was and sometimes still can be the highest offender when it comes to setting off my triggers.

Having a mind that was more relaxed and at ease gave me the opportunity to reflect on life and recognise the areas on which I needed to improve. The mental fog cleared quicker than I had imagined, and things became much clearer as to why something would affect my mood. Not wasting time scrolling through people’s unnecessary updates about their life drama allowed me to see what was important and what wasn’t even worth a second thought. I could identify the things that triggered my anxieties and quickly learned how to remove them from the equation. I had time to think. I had time to see. I had time to live. The world became 3D around me, technicolour and first-hand experience instead of the flatscreen universe I had previously been consumed by.

Being in this mindset of real life and not the fictitious timelines of your everyday Kim Kardashian wannabe, allowed me the space I needed to accept and realise that I simply cannot control everything. Realising and accepting that we cannot control everything is one of the best revelations we can have in our lives. If someone is going to judge you, criticise you, speak badly of you that is their business and their issue to deal with. It is out of your control. If your boss decides to shut up shop and close the business down, change their minds numerous times until unfortunately there is no other option, that is their decision. Guess what? It’s out of your control. If a close family member gets sick and is taken into hospital, if the weather man gives the wrong information, if a Mean Girl shows up on Wednesday wearing yellow instead of pink, if an earthquake shakes your world, no matter what that earthquake might be, hear me when I say: IT IS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL.

If you’re like me, the initial realisation of this can kind of mess with your brain and freak you completely out! But please, take a few minutes, deep breaths and think logically. Of course, not everything is in your control! You are one person, one human, one life in a sea of billions of possibilities. Instead of fearing these possibilities, take delight in them and know that there is one thing you can control, your reaction. How are you going to deal with your situation? How are you going to approach moving forward from an abusive relationship? How are you going to survive financially? Are you going to lie down and let the world go by, or are you going to stand up face yourself in the mirror and a bit like Barney Stinson; be awesome instead?! That choice, that potential outcome is your choice.

Accepting that you cannot control everything frees up so much more mind space and allows you to consider your options. It gives you a chance to listen and hear what is being said rather than trail off into pandemonium in your mind. Accepting that you cannot control everything is one of the most liberating revelations you will ever experience.

While I am far from a control freak, having anxieties I find is partly because things are out of our control naturally and we exasperate ourselves with the idea of unlikely things happening just because we know, there is nothing we can do about it should it occur. Having this realisation become clear to me also made my life a heck of a lot easier. Thankfully, I am still growing and continuing to learn about myself, dealing with my anxieties head-on,  and I find that Social Media detoxing is something I do a lot more regularly to keep things at a level ground. As the saying goes, everything in moderation. When I eventually came back to Social Media, I came back with a purpose that was not only something I wanted to do, but something I could do to give and support others. I came back to support and help my church grow their platforms. I also came back with something I am passionate about and want to pursue more and more in the coming years. I was encouraged to share my positive mindset with the world through my writing and that is how Illuminare came about.

My challenge for you all this week is to make a list of things that give you anxiety or you have worries about. Then, I want you to consider the options you have around them and come to a realisation that some of the outcomes are out of your control. For example, going for a job interview might give you a hint of anxiety, not knowing how it will go or if you will be liked enough to get the job. The options around that are to either allow your anxiety to completely overrule you OR… you can go into that interview and just be yourself. Act as though they need you rather than you need them. Once the interview is over, reflect on it, think about it, consider if you would even like to role yourself and then let it go… You cannot control what happens next, you cannot control the decisions made by the panel of interviewers, all you can do, is accept that it happened, appreciate the experience, and move on…

So with that in mind, consider your week ahead and make it your business to identify things that you cannot control and allow the peace and serenity of that feeling of release to soothe you through the motions! Let me know how you get on, I would love to hear from you guys.

Peace and all the love, Illuminare x

Social Media Detox Part I

Good day to all you lovely people out there and welcome to Illuminare. I hope you are managing this week to kick anxiety in the butt! Today I am continuing on from a series I introduced this Tuesday called ‘Social Media Detox’! If you missed my last blog, you can catch up by clicking this link or simply scroll to my previous post. Like all of my writing, I am brutally honest in this series so if my content stirs something up inside of you, maybe you need to look at yourself and ask why and what it is that makes you feel that way. I am not a perfect human or in fact a perfect example of Social Media Detoxing. However, I wanted to address the topic to not only help you guys, but also help myself! As I write, I learn and therefore I grow. I hope you all enjoy this series and take something away from it. I have learned a lot about myself and am very excited to see what it does in your lives too. So let’s get down to it…

Identify where your stress comes from

Identifying where our stress comes from can be tricky. It can take us some time to experience a revelation but trust me, if you can’t point it out, it will eventually point its ugly self out to you! One day I realised I was a lot crankier than usual. I was irritable and very easily set off by the littlest of things. While feeling like this, I didn’t see myself and it wasn’t until I started crying that I noticed there was simply too much going on and my head-space was very foggy.

That evening I opened Facebook, as you do these days to ‘wind down’, and I came across numerous content that just made me feel very unsettled. There were quotes about how we can’t trust each other, people cheating, friends back biting, and all other sorts of carrying on. Quotes of being independent and not needing other people. Photos of guys and girls completely altered by filters or posing with their designer gear acting as though life is peachy, while in the next breath or in this case, next post, they were body shaming celebrities! Photos of couples being on cloud 9 (which is wonderful) yet they pursue other love interests with their comments, tags, DM’s and simply by cheating with their eyes; ogling another’s photos. There were photos of animals that were abused horrifically by ‘humans’, stories of women and children (sometimes men too!) being abused in their homes and photos of their bruised and bloodied faces/bodies. What shook me the most was that this was just the mild stuff…

*SIGN OUT AND SWITCH OFF* – that was it I had had enough. Stress inducer identified!

The matter of the fact is, that all of these images whether we stop to look at them or continue scrolling past them, the mere glimpse we get creates a chemical reaction within our brains that we may not recognise straight away, but feel the effects of as time passes by. Our brain releases chemicals for both good and bad things, depending on your perception of what you are witnessing or experiencing. Using the example of social media content, the same chemical is released again and again when you see the image/video/status etc creating a grander reaction each time. Bigger chemical reaction equals deeper emotional affect!

While I am not a scientist nor a psychologist, learning about the brain, its reactions and chemicals it releases has become of great interest to me over the last six months. As humans we are likely to have some stress in our lives which is completely natural, however, becoming sensitised to it is something I want to reverse, avoid and eliminate!

Continuing from that faithful evening, I received a message a couple of weeks after signing out from a friend who was pretty peeved that I had not responded to a request they sent me on Facebook. Now besides the fact that you can see when the last time someone was online, I had informed close friends and family that I was taking a little break and was only contactable via WhatsApp or an actual phone call. After explaining the situation, apologising and still being treated how I was afterwards, this was the moment I realised that Social Media was affecting my mental health in a very detrimental way. It was then that I decided, you know what, not only am I signing out, I’m deleting it all. This crap just isn’t worth it.

I identified a chronic stress inducer and realised that the many natural stresses going on in the background were being piled onto a dormant volcano, and the stress from Social Media was the tipping point to make it all go KABOOM! I needed to make a change, I needed a break and so I deleted everything. Just like that. Gone. And in an instant, my mood had already begun to improve…

My challenge to you all today is to reduce your usage of social media over the next few days. Try to meet friends over the weekend in physical form instead of just catching up over messenger. Go for a walk by the beach, or take time to read instead of staring into the endless dramas of our generation. Have a wonderful weekend instead of just a usual one, do something different, do something out of your comfort zone, do something challenging and exciting!

Illuminare x

Social Media Detox – The Intro

Hello my lovely readers and welcome to anyone who’s new to Illuminare! This post starts the series about ‘Social Media Detoxing’ and as it turns out, I have quite a lot to say about it! So, to make things easier I am going to split it into a series of posts to reduce the amount of reading per post. I really hope that you enjoy, but also take something from this series and apply it to your life – and maybe do a cheeky dance like the gals starting their own detox in the GIF above! 😉

As many of you know, I took what I like to call a ‘Social Media Detox’ for the entire summer of 2019. From the beginning of June to the end of August, I had logged out from both Instagram and Facebook on my phone and refrained from using them whenever I was on a computer. Something I was very surprised and rather frustrated about, was that my phone would not allow me to uninstall the apps. (As a side note, re-investigating this, I realise that I was doing it incorrectly and you can in fact, uninstall the apps! Silly me!) My point is, what if I simply did not want to return to Social Media? Ignore the apps? But sure, that’s almost impossible in this day and age, I’ll definitely cave and login at some stage… or so I thought!

My reasons for doing the detox were personal and I firmly believe that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. A lot was going on in the background regarding my job, some family members’ health issues, growing up into adulthood and realising that not every friend we make is for life. To put it into simple terms, the world was changing around me in many aspects and the pressures of it all coming at once was just too much. I needed a break, I needed to go off the radar, and I needed an escape. (I would highly recommend everyone to at least try the detox and see what benefits you experience on your own journey).

My first thought was not to get rid of social media, no way! My first thought was to run and jump on a plane and get out of here! But fortunately, I had good people around me to be the voice of reason and a very supportive other half keeping me sane. So instead of some VACAY island off the Bahamas (which I know would have been marvellous), I started small. I looked at my life and decided on where the stress was coming from and how I could minimise it in order to deal with it. When I realised that Social Media was having a major impact on my stress levels and my mental health, I decided that I need to come off it for awhile and give my mind a bit of breathing space. Once I began the detox, I noticed that the other stresses in life were a lot easier to deal with and comprehend.

In this generation, we tend to live off likes, comments, shares and friend requests. We long for a new follow to only accept it and refuse to follow back because, well… ‘Why would we?’.  Social Media has given all of us a self-inflicted desire for self-gratification and self-entitlement. Whilst it can be a very useful tool for keeping in touch with distant friends/family, exploring new avenues for promoting small businesses and even for resourcing content for positive motivation and inspiration, Social Media has latched onto our humanity and ensnared us. We are so entangled with insecurities and social comparison which tend to casually lead us into our own self indulged bubble of loneliness, anxiety and depression… aka FOMO. For those of you like me, who had to google FOMO, it means ‘’Fear Of Missing Out’’ an anxiety that something exciting or an interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, most often aroused by posts seen on social media. We are so caught up with watching people’s stories instead of making our own – and I don’t mean posting to your story, I mean experiencing and writing your story!

FOMO, YOLO, JOMO – How did we even come up with this language?! It’s amazing, yet terrifying that our lives hang on these hashtags and acronyms that describe how we are feeling rather than living our lives out of fear and enjoying what’s happening before us instead of wondering what’s going on elsewhere!

*Sigh of exasperation*

Life is for living. If you’re going to a concert, go and enjoy it, take a couple of photos, but don’t let your experience be through your recording! Put the phone away and live in the moment. Sing to your hearts content, link arms with the other fans and raise your hands in the air – like you just don’t care!

If you’re going to a friend’s wedding, go to celebrate the lovely couple. Of course, we all love to take a few photos, but leave it at that and don’t video record you and your pals dancing to every single song the DJ plays! Make memories, don’t try and record them. The best memories are the ones you have imprinted on your mind, the ones you can’t stop laughing about yet don’t have videos of you staring into Instagram’s camera…

Enough of the negative! Enough of the criticism! Let’s get down to how we can turn these platforms into positive resources instead of negative vortexes.

Below are my three steps to minimising stress in your life which I will share in detail over the next few weeks. I’ve applied these steps for the sake of this series to Social Media, but they can be applied to any area of your life. As part of the detox, I have also come up with several things you can do instead of scrolling through news feeds. I’ll give you a heads up on what to screenshot, but I’ll also make sure its downloadable so that you don’t need to sign on to find out what’s next. 😉

All of my love and best wishes to everyone for 2020! I look forward to seeing what happens with Illuminare, but for now… let’s kick anxiety in the butt!

Illuminare x

My steps to minimising stress and living a freer life:

  1. Identify where your stress comes from
  2. Accept that you cannot control everything
  3. Eliminate and restructure

A Daughter’s Thank You to her Daddy…

Today is my wonderful Daddy’s birthday and I wanted to wish him the happiest of days and dedicate a short piece to him, so here it goes. In celebration of Noel Gerard Fagan, I Love You! ❤

Dad, thank you for being exactly that, My Dad! You have encouraged me to be unapologetically myself from the moment I came into this wonderful world. Being your daughter, I have always wanted to make you proud, to impress you with my achievements and to earn your approval in almost everything I do, yet never once have you made me feel like any of my efforts were not already Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Every drawing or crafted ‘thing’ I made, every dance I showcased in our sitting room, every song I sang from the top of my lungs with all I had inside of me, each and every jigsaw puzzle I completed; you were there by my side cheering me on and congratulating my every success. ‘Bualadh bos!,’ you would chant as you clapped your hands and smiled from ear to ear in delight!

Thank you for all of that. Thank you for always supporting me even when I felt I couldn’t do it. Thank you for making me laugh and for taking me out on Daddy Daughter Dates! Thank you for showing me what it is to be treated like a Lady and for showing me how to act like one too. Thank you for your strict curfews and the rules under your roof, we may have complained about them then, but looking back I see the benefit in our lives that they truly had! Thank you for showing me how to respect others without losing respect for myself. Thank you for encouraging me to chase after my dreams but to have a good solid job I can always fall back on. Thank you for being sensible yet supportive of my crazy imagination. Thank you for your prayers and for always having wide open arms for me to run into and get big bear hugs when I need them, you are so wonderful and I am so blessed to have a Father like you.

You used to be tall and slim with the darkest hair and a moustache, now; you’re still tall, a little less slim with slightly brighter hair and a beard… Appearances may change, personalities may change, circumstances and relationships may change, but you have always remained the man I look to as my Hero. Change is something you have helped me to accept, change is something you have helped me to grow through and change is something you have helped me to embrace. Although change is not always easy, it is another chapter in the book of our lives awaiting to be written, waiting for the mystery to be discovered. So, thank you for walking with me through many changes and holding my hand enduring and celebrating it all.

There will come a day when we embark on a different kind of walk, a walk we will only ever take together once in our lives, a walk in front of our friends and loved ones, a walk towards the beginning of a new chapter for all of us, a walk that only you have the honour of being by my side for, a walk down the aisle to meet with the next Hero in my life, a walk to give me away. While I wait in anticipation for that magical day, I can’t help but tear up with emotion thinking of our conversation as we support one another down the aisle. I can’t help but think forward to the dance we will share together to the song you said was ours. I can’t help but imagine how wonderful it will be and how your little girl will finally look like a real princess. But as you always say ‘You always look like a Princess in my eyes… .’

In your eyes, I hope and pray that I have made you proud because you Dad, have made me the proudest daughter in the world. I am so honoured to call you my Father. I am so blessed to have such an incredible man to look up to. I am so happy to be home! You make the world a little less scary and a lot more fun to be in, thank you for being your true self! Thank you for being my Daddy!

Happy Birthday, with all my love on your day, Keka-Weeze x

You Are Possible…

Do you ever just sit back and think ‘Oh my goodness, I have come such a long way…’

We don’t give ourselves enough credit until we actually sit down and think about how much we have grown, how much we have lost along the way but how much we appreciate the release of that weight on our shoulders now that we are walking that little bit taller. We also don’t take enough time to think about what we have gained along the way; people, hobbies, opinions, jobs, etc. All of which can be healthy or unhealthy gain, and what we need to do is take a look at our inventory and see what it says about us. If it’s unhealthy get rid of it, if it’s healthy nurture it.

As today’s society has now labelled each day with a different hashtag, today is #TransformationTuesday, so instead of only looking at physical transformations let me encourage you to take a few moments today to think about your mental, emotional and spiritual transformations too! Think about where you are now, and where you once used to be. Think about the struggles you faced to get here and how you conquered each and every one. You may not have a dramatic story, and let me assure you:  that’s ok. Not everyone needs to have a long list of aches and pains to have a REAL story. Your story is exactly that and don’t let anyone tell you it’s insignificant just because theirs was a little bit tougher than yours. We are all facing our own mountains.

If you sit and wonder why you haven’t come as far as you would have liked to by now, take time to write a list of what you would like to achieve or change in the next few months and act on it. Don’t just do the exercise of writing the list, work it out! Move that body and challenge that mind to get to where you want to be. I have said it before and I will say it again, the only one stopping you from moving forward is yourself! Yes, people or situations may have an impact on you to keep you stuck in a certain place, but the power that you have given them was originally with you! So take it back, move forward and be confident in your choices. Wanting to live as a better you is achievable and right in the palm of your hands. All you have to do is grasp it!

No matter how small a distance you have come or how vast a dessert you have roamed, the fact of the matter is; you have grown! You have transformed. You were once a baby, then you were a child, a teenager and now a fully grown adult (most of you anyways lol!). Change is something we all experience and it is inevitable. So instead of doubting the change or discouraging people from making changes in their lives; embrace it. Encourage the best in every situation and circumstance to come forth. Now, with a perspective of change being good, look back at your life and appreciate the transformations that have taken place.

Think of the butterfly; it starts off as a caterpillar, then it changes into a cocoon and emerges as a beautiful winged fascinating creature! What stage are you at?! Are you cocooning to rebuild yourself, to reinvent yourself, to protect yourself? Are you waiting for your perfect moment to emerge as your new self? Or maybe you’re at a point where you feel you need to start all over again and go back to caterpillar phase after exasperating a life already as a butterfly?! Starting again can be a tough decision. It can also be a great decision depending on the why we want to and how we are going to do it. Sometimes it might even seem like we couldn’t possibly do it. Maybe we feel too old, too young, too settled, too unsettled – or maybe we just don’t know if it will work out or not. It can be scary starting again, but fear holds us back from our greatest accomplishments. Fear can sometimes be a healthy catalyst for us to push forward and reach our goals. Think of it this way; if you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to gain. It can also be a paralyser so be mindful when identifying your fear. Is it healthy or unhealthy fear? Identify it and deal with it!

Let me finish by saying this, it’s not impossible, in fact there is very little in this world that is impossible. As Audrey Hepburn once said ‘The word itself says I’m Possible!’

So remember this dear, you and your goals ∙ dreams ∙ life changes, ARE POSSIBLE!

Illuminare x

Here’s to you, Mam…

My Mam is a wonderful woman and she has always loved and encouraged my writing, creativity and whatever else I have put my mind to throughout the years. There is so much about her that is so incredibly breath-taking that it’s hard to get it all down on paper, but because of who she is, I’m definitely going to give it a try! Have you seen my Mam? She’s gorgeous! Have you witnessed how amazing and wonderful she is? She would have you laughing and crying all at once with just a few simple words. Have you ever met my Mam? If not, let me introduce you…

My Mam brings colour and light into dark places, when she walks into a room the atmosphere gets brighter. My Mam is that one person in the middle of a crowded room that laughs out loud when everyone else is silent. My Mam is that person who talks for hours in the middle of a super market to someone she doesn’t even know! If you’ve ever talked to My Mam, you know that you’re going to come away with some good advice or simply just experience a good oul giggle! My Mam is a truth speaker – sometimes it’s hard to take, but she always knows how to help.  

My Mam shows love and care to everyone she meets, even the birds in the trees! She’s a modern day Snow White! My Mam loves her garden, the flowers and the aroma of the herbs she plants. My Mam does her best to include everyone in experiencing the best of the best. My Mam helped 25 year old me paint my footprints on her back garden wall! My Mam has a heart of pure love and she shares it with the world. My Mam is that one person I know I can turn to and pour my heart out and trust that she will be there, not to judge me, but to comfort me.

My Mam is so encouraging of all of her children, she pushes us past our negative times and encourages our positivity to grow and flourish. My Mam is that one person in the family that will irritate everyone with how right she is about something, but she is also that one person that everyone turns to for love and support when they realise they are in the wrong. My Mam is the glue to my family. My Mam is a warrior! I would say Princess, but My Mam is a Queen! She deserves a crown made from the richest of jewels – and My Dad would give it to her if He could.

My Mam fought many battles to fend for her family, like a Mother wolf protecting her den, there was nothing that could face her when it came to looking after us. Still to this day My Mam is there to back us up, she always supports us through tough times but is honest enough to tell us when we are wrong. My Mam has always been a mother, but she is so much more than that. She is creative and artsy. She is beautiful beyond description. My Mam is a painter, a writer, a joker, an absolute messer, a lover, a gardener, a prayer, a worshipper, a warrior, a reader, a hugger, a Christmas enthusiast and an absolute Wonder! My Mam even knows how to do the famous blogger pose and her selfies are always taken from an awkward height!

My Mam walked me to school every day. My Mam brought out the best in me, she sprinkled ‘Holy Spirit’ dust on my head when I’d be a grumpy little torment, and in an instant we would burst out in laughter together. My Mam made the best peanut butter sandwiches with a little note of encouragement to help me get through the bullying in school. My Mam made me feel like I was worth every moment I stormed up the stairs, every moment I would come to her with a scratched knee, every moment I would come to her to simply ask for a hug while she was busy cleaning or cooking. I sometimes even disturbed her while she was reading – and then she would read to me.

My Mam is so special to me that a poem, a song, a card or a present simply wouldn’t cover how much she means to me.  My Mam is beautiful. Her eyes sparkle the prettiest colour of blue, her smile is the most welcoming one I know, her hair flows golden from her head like a beautiful wave of sunshine. My Mam gives the best hugs! My Mam showed me what it’s like to be excited for life, to live a life that means something and not just exist. My Mam showed me how to love others but she also showed me how to love myself. My Mam took the best care of me growing up and even to this day she still looks out for me. My Mam is actually amazing and while I consider myself lucky to have her in my life, I know that I am blessed tremendously to be a part of Her life and to have become the woman she raised me to be!

So here’s to My Mam, Sandra, thank you for being who you are and for sharing your love and encouragement throughout my life. Have the most wonderful day knowing that you are loved beyond your wildest imaginations and even more than my words can begin to describe.

You are worth celebrating – Happy Birthday Mam!

Flip the Switch!

I don’t know about you lot, but when I look at this picture (see Instagram post), I see the real me; the vibrant, fun loving, happy girl that loves a good laugh. Some days I need a reminder of who this girl is (more than I’d even like to admit at times!) but I’m okay with that. Why? Because we need to be able to remind ourselves of whom we are! We need to recognise that we are spectacular and that we have so much positivity and creativity inside of us just dying to burst out! All we need to do is flip the switch!

What’s the switch all about Jessica?! Well I knew you’d ask. The switch is what happens to us when we get bogged down, for want of a better phrase. For some of us it can be the uncertainty of how a situation will play out, or maybe people using and abusing the foundations of relationships. It can even be the insecurities from our past creeping up to bite us right in the ass at a moment when we thought we were as confident as Tyra Banks on the catwalk. Then all of a sudden, our shoes go from underneath us and we’re struggling to hold our balance looking like a very distressed Bambi on ice! (Sorry for the girly analogy lads!)

The switch is when something happens out of our control or someone says something that’s damaging or simply disappointing. Sometimes the effect of the switch can be as flippant as on and off, or sometimes it can take a little longer for us to even realise that the switch was tempered with in the first place. For some of us, especially the people pleasers (I see you and I feel your pain!), our switches can be tempered with regularly and we can feel the effect of this for long periods of time at any one time.

People are exactly that, people. They are going to let us down, disappoint us, say things that are hurtful and even do things that are just not right. But there are also people who are going to build us up, encourage us, want to spend time with us and bring out the best in us. What I’m trying to get at is, surround yourself with the good people but be mindful that you will still have people in your life that will bring negativity your way. These people may not even realise the effect they have on us, but it is up to us to take control of how our switch operates.

The negativity is what flips the switch! So be mindful of it.

Dealing with negativity is something that I am still learning to do on a daily basis. Sometimes it gets to a point of having to cut the chord with certain people, situations and even job roles and that’s hurtful for both the person on the receiving end and the person doing the chopping, probably more so for the chopper if I’m fair.

Our minds are delicate places and the more we tend to them and take our thoughts under control, the more our minds flourish and grow. It is a hard one to do, but once we get into the swing of things it becomes second nature. My challenge to you and to myself is to take account of the negativity that surrounds us and deal with it, upfront. Instead of allowing it to flip our switches off, let’s face it head on, feel the emotions surrounding it and turn it around just as quick in order to keep that illuminating switch on! It’s not all sunshine and rainbows every day, trust me I know, but why should we accept negativity as a welcome companion when all it does is drag us down? 

Now I’m about to get real here with more sassy and no Nancy’ing around it, so I hope you’re ready!

Pick yourself up out of the slump you’re in, cop on to what truth is and stop allowing lies to infiltrate your mind, drag yourself out of that desperate state and tear off the suffocating labels that have clung to you like a bad case of the chickenpox. It’s time to move on and move up, it’s time to shake off the dust and let it dissolve into thin air, it’s time to cut off the blood sucking leeches and let them shrivel up in their own demise because you are worth more than a repeated cancelled coffee.

Illuminare x


I had the absolute honour of speaking to a wonderful bunch of Young Adults this week on ‘Promise’. This my lovely readers, I encourage you all to read as there is something for everyone in this.

When I speak or write on something specific I like to find out the definition of the word. This helps me to really appreciate how heavy the meaning is and how powerful words actually are. So the definition of Promise, while it’s so simple and we all know it, it comes to life when we see it in writing.

There are so many different kinds of promises; pinky promises, promise rings, false promises (which we don’t like!), people’s promises, and my favourite of all; God’s promises. Stay with me on this!

When you hear the word promise, what does it mean to you? Are you someone who keeps their promises? Are you reliable? Or are you someone who uses this word lightly and breaks promises all the time? Do you expect others to keep their promises to you, yet hold your promises to them with lesser regard? The word ‘Promise’ in my opinion is another one of those words that is thrown around too easily these days, a little like ‘Love’, and it has more power behind it than we even realise.

People’s Promises

As people, we can forget promises that we have made, and sometimes even break them which I have to say is not good practise. What we need to realise is that in breaking a promise or forgetting to live out the promise we have made to someone, we are actually hurting that person. We need to remember that all promises are big to the person on the receiving end of them. If you continually break your promises, people will begin to gradually lose faith in you and hold no weight to your words.

Now you might think that this is a little OTT, but think about it from a personal perspective. Let me give you an example. Someone once used to promise me that they would change a certain behaviour that hurt me a lot and without going into detail, it wasn’t good behaviour. I would continually ask this person to stop or make a change and constantly a promise would be made for change to happen. Again and again the behaviour continued and again and again, the promise would be made and then broken. Every time the promise was broken it meant less and less when ‘promise’ was thrown into the mix, and after that I had to work through the damage caused by numerous broken promises to trust others when they say that they promise. What’s my point you ask? Simple…

God’s Promises

For those of you who don’t know God, or maybe feel like your relationship with God is not where you would like it to be, be encouraged by this next section that you are included in all of the promises to follow! This following video is very powerful and actually reminded me of how many promises God has on my life. Did you know that the bible has over 3000 verses declaring promises from God? We should want all of them for ourselves and for everyone that we know. If you are not a believer in any way shape or form, consider the promises that you make to people and how you will treat them going forward. Think of God’s promises as promises people have made to you and kept and how you felt by their faithfulness!

The best thing about God’s promises is that they are UNBREAKABLE! He is true to His word, and His word is final…

God is faithful! His promise still stands. Yet the flip side of faith is fear! Sometimes it can be difficult to hold onto the promises God has put on our lives. Sometimes it can even be hard to believe and have faith in those promises and that’s okay. But what we need to rest on and remind ourselves of constantly is…

Now this is where for some of you, you’re going to bail out on me and that’s fine. I totally respect your beliefs; however I would love it if you treated my beliefs with the same respect and hear me out! 🙂

The promise of all promises that was ever made, was a promise God gave Mary. He sent an Angel to visit Mary in the middle of the night and tell her that she would give birth to a son, yes even though she was a virgin and was not yet married, she would conceive a child and He would be great and His Kingdom would never end (Luke chapter 1 verses 26 to 45). What an incredible promise that is. How did Mary have such faith to believe this? She rejoiced that the many promises God had foretold before her had come to pass and that if He can hold fast to His word for those promises, then this one would also be held fast and come to pass for He is faithful! This was the ultimate promise God put on Mary’s life. Yes, at first she was scared. Yes, at first she was apprehensive. AND YES, she witnessed this promise come forth in her life and be fulfilled through faith and perseverance.

If you don’t know what the ultimate promise God has put on your life yet, that’s okay, but one thing is for sure, He has a plan and a purpose and in that purpose there is a PROMISE for what you will do in this life for His Kingdom!

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t know, but instead be courageous and ask Him what His promise is on your life. And this is the tricky part, sitting still and being quiet and telling your mind to hush up while you wait… Our minds can wander and create ‘promises’, ‘words’, etc but if you sit and tell your mind to be quiet and ask God to speak, you will be able to differentiate between your mind’s voice and His voice. I guarantee you, you will be amazed!

For those of us who have already experienced God’s promises coming forth in our lives, rejoice in them and share the stories to encourage others. One promise God gave me a number of years ago (in my dark years) was that I would know love like I have never known it before. There are different aspects to this promise, yes romantically and while it is wonderful to be loved by another the promise also held fast to me knowing how to love myself too! I also know love like I have never known before through the love that God has for me. And that, was a process! A long, tough but educating process that led me to where I am today. The battle was excruciating, but the Victory was and is Divine!

To bring this to an end (finally I can hear some of you exhale lol), my challenge to you all, Christian or not, believer in the same God or not, whether you identify to a religion or don’t believe in anything, is… What are you going to do with the Promises on your life? Although I have spoken about promises from God, whether you want to believe it or not, there is a promise on your life! Yes, you! You have a gift, a talent, a something that makes you feel incredible that you are so good at and whatever it may be, that is part of your Promise!

So what are you going to do with it? Are you going to ignore it, or are you going to work your butt off to achieve and witness your promise come full circle? Are you prepared for it? If not, are you preparing for it? One thing is certain, we are never fully prepared for the WOW FACTOR we experience when our promise is right there in front of us and we have no idea what to do next… Maybe you have a promise on your life that you already got a taste of, but neglected and feel like you can’t go back to it. I believe that promises can be resurrected! If you have faith and believe that you can do it, then you will. Believe in yourself and you are already halfway there as the wise old saying goes. AND DON’T FORGET!! Nothing is Impossible with God…

Illuminare x

The True Spirit of Christmas

Inspired by Team Hope’s Shoebox Appeal

It’s coming up to that magical time of year again and whether you are one of those people who love the build-up and the hype and the Falala’s over the radio in the car, or someone who thinks it is far too early to even mention the C word before and only on Christmas Eve, this post IS FOR YOU! TRUST ME!

Christmas is approaching and before we know it, we will be putting on our silly jumpers and decking the halls with holly and mistletoe. (I can sense the shiver of the humbugs and hear the squeal of the fanatics!). Our stockings will be hanging on the fireplace and Rudolph’s treats will be placed by the tree. For most of us, Christmas is a wonderful time of year filled with joy and happiness and loads of food. But for some of us, Christmas can be quite upsetting. Maybe we’ve lost a family member and wish they were here, perhaps you’re going through a tough breakup or divorce, or maybe we simply don’t have the money that the shops are expecting and almost pressuring us to spend! It can be quite a stressful time for some people and that’s why I have decided to write this post. To remind you of the Joy of Christmas and it’s true meaning.

As I am a Christian, Christmas has a deeper meaning for me and always has, even in what I consider my dark years (Yes, it is possible for this human ball of positivity to have gone through some dark times… hence the motivation to inspire ya’ll to BRIGHTEN UP YOUR LIVES!). Whether you believe in God or not, it is hard to ignore that beautiful presence that fills the land all throughout the festive season. For me, church first thing on Christmas day is one of the best events I have ever experienced. Everyone is so happy and full of joy, but the best part is how surreal it feels. You’re all there, from different backgrounds, different families, different nationalities, all for the same purpose; TO CELEBRATE!

Growing up I always enjoyed church on Christmas morning, but one of my favourite memories about Christmas was the year of the mystery shoeboxes! Shoeboxes were collected from every store, Dunnes Stores, Roches Stores and even the ‘Fagan Stores’. Out of nowhere, shoeboxes appeared in the kitchen, the living room, the hall, stairs and landing! Shoeboxes I thought were mine, were now amalgamated into this massive pile while my shoes were thrown back into the wardrobes or under the beds. My granny would have boxes, my cousins would have boxes, my next-door neighbours would have boxes, and everyone everywhere would be asking for shoe boxes! It was pandemonium! Slightly exaggerated, but let’s remember this is from a 7-year olds perspective… 😉

So, what were these boxes for? Why in all the earth was Mam collecting shoe boxes? Was she going mad? Had she fallen into a new, and rather strange obsession? Had she suddenly realised that Barbie needed a house and she was about to build the best cardboard beach house I had ever seen? I wish! No, these shoeboxes had a purpose. One greater than I could have ever imagined at the time. These shoeboxes were presents!

Presents? Sorry, hold up… PRESENTS?! 7-year old me could not understand why Mam was gifting shoeboxes to people. What would they want with a shoebox? Wouldn’t they much rather a box of playdough or giant tubs of Crayola crayons with sheets and sheets of colouring paper? I just couldn’t get on board, until Mam sat me down and explained everything! Now don’t quote me word for word, but this is how I imagine and slightly remember our conversation going…

‘’These shoeboxes are not for us sweetheart, they’re for children all over the world!’’, she began to explain. ‘’But what would any child want with a shoebox Mam? It’s just a piece of cardboard…,’’ I challenged her. ‘’Well, we’re not just sending empty shoeboxes, we’re going to cover them up like a present with Christmas wrapping paper and fill them with lovely things to send to other children.’’ ‘’But… what lovely things Mam, and why are the lovely things not all for me?’’ I reckon at this stage, she laughed and probably wondered how on earth is she going to get this through to me. She managed very well I must say. ‘’Ok, think of it this way, Santa is coming to you very soon and all your wishes will most likely come true. The children that we are sending these shoeboxes to don’t have anything. You have your lovely bed, brand new clothes and all your lovely barbies upstairs in your room. Some of these children don’t even have a house to live in with their Mam and Dad. Some of them don’t even know what Christmas is about!’’ ‘’Oh Mam, that’s very sad. How could they not know about Christmas?! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!’’ ‘’Exactly love, but for what reason do you think it’s the most wonderful time of year?’’ ‘’Emmmmm… BECAUSE IT’S JESUS’ BIRTHDAY AND SANTA IS COMING!!!’’

I was a very spiritual child and I always carried God with me throughout my life. But having this conversation with my Mam made me think about all the presents I would get and how wonderful it would be for me. But what about all those children that wouldn’t get anything? Why did Santa not fly to them? So, I asked the questions and Mam so gracefully answered.

‘’Santa can fly all over the world Jessica, but he needs our help too. He needs our help to share the love at Christmas time and spread the Christmas cheer. God gave His only son to share His love for us and He asked us to do the same, love each other. So, in sending a shoebox, we’re blessing someone with not only the gift inside the box, but the gift that will be placed inside their hearts; Joy, Peace and Hope.’’

Mam thought me so much growing up about how to be humble and how to share and be kind. Being kind got so easy for me that after the Mystery Shoeboxes ordeal, every year I wanted to take part in this fantastic appeal! It became the highlight of my year; it became my favourite part of the Christmas season. Each year, I commit to taking part in the Christmas Shoebox Appeal not to look like a charitable person or to get recognition for being kind, but because the impact of sharing a small box of treats with one child across the world, is far greater than we can ever imagine.

Put yourself in the shoes of these children; some have no food or water, some are surrounded by crime and possibly war, some are simply crying out to be seen and cared about. Now imagine how they feel on Christmas morning. There is no Christmas tree by the fire, no fire in the house, and probably no house at all. Imagine a shoebox landing on the laps of one of these children. Imagine the excitement in their eyes but also the apprehension they feel as they may have never received something before. Imagine the excitement when they realise that this box, the treats inside, the festive wrapping paper, this is all for them! Incredible!

What I love about the Christmas Shoebox Appeal is that not only are you sending a present across the world to a less fortunate family, you are sending the sense of ‘’Someone out there cares for me. Someone out there knows I am here. Someone out there loves me.’’ In sending a shoebox you’re sending love, sending joy, sending hope! The true spirit of Christmas is giving. It’s not about the diamond earrings hanging on the tree, the crackers on the dinner table, or even the stuffing bowl spoon at the end of the night! The true spirit of Christmas is allowing yourself to be selfless and instead of thinking of what you’re going to get, you give what you would like to receive – LOVE!

This Christmas, why not give Love? Why not, instead of spending fortunes on things that will lose value in time, give love to those around you? Check in on your elderly neighbours and maybe make them a cup of tea. Invite your distant family around for dessert so that they feel closer. Give to those less fortunate, whether it’s simply wishing a homeless person ‘Merry Christmas’, or be it you decide to take part in the shoebox appeal. The sheer act of acknowledging another person’s existence and humanity is more precious than any diamond ring at Christmas.

Team Hope run a fantastic operation for the Shoebox Appeal. If you can’t donate anything in the form of a shoebox designed for a little girl or boy, even if you can’t donate a couple of euro, why not donate your time? It’s a huge operation to collect all the boxes from across the country, gather them all in the one place and load them onto the trucks that carry these precious gifts abroad. Team Hope are a fantastic bunch of people and are always looking for volunteers around Christmas time to lend a hand. Give back this Christmas! In one way or another, you can help support this beautiful act of kindness to not only happen in 2019 but grow to an even larger movement in the years to come.

So, perk yourself up, put a smile on your kisser, be humble and kind, and share the love because that, my lovely readers, is the true Spirit of Christmas!

Illuminare x


Hello my lovely readers and happy almost Wednesday! (It is 23:29 on Tuesday 24th September 2019 as I am writing this!). I should be asleep and on my fourth or fifth dream at this stage, but instead I am up pondering life and all it throws at us. Oh the joys of a wandering mind…

As I sit and think, I’m reminded of a short creative piece I wrote earlier this year which was inspired by none other than my fabulous sister, who’s name I will change for privacy reasons, to Xina. Xina is a woman of many talents, such beauty and a heart of pure gold! We spent a weekend in Rome for a wedding a couple of years ago, and I managed to capture some astonishing photos that surprisingly enough, caught exactly who she is. One of these photos, as attached to this post, inspired me to write this piece. Quite like Xina The Warrior Princess, she is a woman on fire! A woman full of determination and aspirations. A woman who knows her dreams and seeks after them with all that she has inside of her. I have always admired Xina’s drive for success and how she always pushes past her limits no matter how hard it can be.

So without further ado, I dedicate this post to the one and only Xina. May you reach every goal you set for yourself, may you keep creating and inspiring those around you, may you have faith in yourself to accomplish your wildest dreams and may you never give up on who you are inside. You are magnificent! With all of my love, this is for you. x

She, is a woman in her own world, chasing her dreams and looking for light in every shadow. She had the green light to go and didn’t hesitate. She took off into the world to conquer it and made life her own. As she walked through the busy streets of Rome, she beamed with beauty. Her hair was like a stream of fire flowing from the top of her head, a rainbow of dreams trickled out from her radiant crown. A boss lady searching for purpose, searching for the next goal to achieve and pushing through with everything she’s got. She is a Queen, a Warrior, Fierce and Bold. 

As the sun shone down upon her ivory skin and her ebony hair she took hold of the positive and strut her way through the Italian streets. Elegant, Confident, Present. Everyone who passed her by turned to take another glance at the magnificence she was radiating. She was a spectacle of light, was she really there or was this beautiful creature a mirage, teasing us with hope for a new day where confidence and beauty collided in the most humble manner.

Like never before, she was alive. Surrounding her was a facet of colours. Monochrome lives envied the luxurious pigments that encompassed this woman of strength and vision.  For a moment, she gave us Hope. For a moment she let go of everything and was simply her. For a moment, she was She.   

She. ©Illuminarexo2019

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