Onwards & Upwards

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

This quote is by Winston Churchill and it really resonates with me. I’m sure as hell not always an optimist but I’m learning to be, so when Brian from climb.ie asked if I’d like to climb a sea cliff, I was totally game.

Obviously, this wasn’t my first day climbing. I had done a little in the Alps in September then the crags in Ballyvaughan became my playground for a bit! We started from the top, and Brian went down first.  When I got the OK from Brian to abseil down the adrenaline was alive and kicking. I made the effort not to look down, but I did notice how smooth the rock face was. GULP…

I stopped about three quarters from the bottom where Brian was waiting at a cliff edge. It was slightly slanted and there was just enough room for one foot straight, with the other sideways. I held onto ropes to keep myself steady and comfortable as there was a 15 meter drop beneath me. I was completely oblivious to the fact that my job now was to belay Brian up. Now with the tables turned, he was the one trusting me, and trusting my ability to keep him safe on his ascent.

‘Christ on a bike’ I thought, ‘I hope he’s a fast climber…’

Now, I was completely outside my comfort zone but I’m learning to be OK with that.  I do things like this to challenge my mind and body and push my capabilities. After all, great things happen when we have self belief. Sure, the sense of fear could have risen in me and it was trying to, but fear is just a word, and I try not to let it become a mindset.

I had belayed climbers before, but not in this kind of environment. At this point, my focus was to keep my right hand firmly on the rope whilst my left hand fed rope to Brian as he moved upwards. I was so grateful there was literally no wind.

When he was safe up I gave a huge “whoooo hooooo!” Now the fun started – It was my turn to climb. It was by no means a very technical climb. The foot holes were minuscule at times but the hand holes were great. I could push myself with confidence. I used to think that climbing depended on a lot of upper body strength, and at times it does help, but really it’s all about a good technique and trying to conserve as much energy whilst climbing.

When I got to the top I felt an overwhelming sense of achievement. A high five was in order!

When Emily asked me to write a blog about my experience I was a little morto as I’m still a novice climber. I struggle to even remember the names of all the equipment involved, hence I didn’t try name any! but I do continually strive to learn and be challenged, so like the climb, I said I would give the blog post a go.

So if you can take away anything from this, perhaps take away that we as human beings are capable of achieving great things if we believe in ourselves. Be it running that extra mile or applying for the job you thought you might not be qualified enough for. Whatever it is, don’t just talk about it, make it happen!

I’ll leave you with another quote – Nelson Mandala said “It always seems impossible until its done”.


Bitchmittens Norma

Dear Rhona

A letter to my (almost) sister in law:

Dear Rhona,
I write this with just over one week until your wedding. One week until you start the next leg of your adventure with your chief partner in crime. 6 years, I’ve known you. A lot less than a lot of people but in that time you have well and truly bloomed. You are a gorgeous human inside and out, you live to your fullest and you drag us along (not always willingly, I might add!) for the ride.
I admire you so much. You constantly inspire me to try new things (prime example being becoming a contributor to this amazing blog), you encourage me to be a bit mental and you plan madness with me – I’m holding you to the next city running tour!!!
I guess what I want to say, and want to share, is that if you continue to grow (well, not grow – you’re tiny now, another massive achievement btw) and develop at the rate you are going, the world better watch out. Cormac is a lucky fella. I look forward to carrying on encouraging each other, and dare I say being a little bit competitive with one another. If I am ever jealous of you, it is not because I want what you have, but rather it is because what you are is so truly fantastic. I am so excited for you and I am so utterly utterly happy for you.
Love (and bags of admiration),

CREW: Six Reasons To Celebrate Your Crew

So as you all know I took up rowing again about a year and a half ago. And as you rowers know, all you ever do is train so you gotta really like the peeps you row with!  Since rowing has began I’ve become really close to the women I train with. They work hard, they train hard and I find them a constant source of inspiration. So I’ve made a small list of how I know they’ve cemented themselves into my life… Maybe your team has become the same. Let’s see!


1. You don’t own any socks.

You own several socks. Odd pairs that don’t actually belong to you. They belong to one or all of your crew but you have never given them back because well, you need socks. And they’re not going to begrudge you at all. After all crew is for life and they’ve some of yours!


2. Your training wardrobe just got much larger.

You know when you borrow your friend’s fabarooni white dress!? That one that always gets compliments? Yeah, it’s like that except you are borrowing her ultra snuggly Nike tech top thingy which is way too long on you but hey, you were stuck! And you are so comfortable with each other that gear is not a personal thing anymore. She doesn’t mind if you get it all dirty or sweaty!


3. Non-crew people don’t get you.

So you hang out with your crew so often that when it’s time to be around regular folk you have a hard time not babbling on about your sport. Your coworkers learn a lot but frankly only your crew besties care how much you can squat and whether or not you beat your score from last week. But it’s ok, you’ll see them later on today for training and you can tell them then.


4. Post training chill out.

Post training normally just becomes a squishy couch and warm drinks binge that inevitably goes on a lot longer than it really should until you Significant Other (SO) comes home and states that he feels like a third wheel! But you’re sleepy and have DOMS and these people are going through the same so why not chill for an hour or two… You get them and they get you so there is no need to move. Besides your SO is actually thrilled because he can go and play Grand Theft Auto for the billionth time.


5. You’re outings become one of two things.

Training or eating. When you guys venture out into the world it is either to stuff your faces (because you are always hungry and so are they so there is never any judgement) or to get a personal best! Ye can’t drink so that’s out the window  and let’s face you don’t have time to do anything else. But hey you love to eat! Andy ditto for training… somedays.


6. They are why you push yourself.

In all seriousness, you know you’ve made some serious besties when you are in the middle of the race and your lungs are burning and your thighs are screaming and your head is thinking about nothing but stopping and you realise that if you give up that you’re letting your crew down and that’s when you push. And that’s when you know you’ve made friends for life…. When you do it all for them.


I’m glad I’m friends with my crew… because they keep me going when nothing else will.





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