Saturday, March 17, 2018

Thanks to your understanding and support I can continue to share my story

And so the journey continues
and starts for real on Wednesday.

My deepest gratitude to all of you who made this happen.
UK, here we come!

Póilin puppet says Thank You Corina Duyn to Nottingham Puppet Festival
Póilin says Thank You

What an amazing few weeks it has been.
Two and a half weeks ago I received an email with the disappointing news that I was refused funding from a government and council funded Arts organisation to go on the Biggest Creative Journey of my life. To develop my Arts Practice.  But it brought out the best in all of you. 
Thank you.
I have yet to receive a response to my email in which I expressed my disappointment and asked for feedback.

Many of you truly understood the hugely significant opportunity to share my explorations of illness/disability through art and puppetry, and to engage with many others involved in puppetry and disability. To share, to learn, and to share again.

My brother Kees and his wife Janet, and some friends suggested I'd start a Crowd Funding Campaign. I was hesitant as I know we all struggle to keep our finances in tact. Also, I did not have the energy to embark on exploring the usual crowd funding platforms. Time on the computer has been severely curtailed the past 6 weeks or so, due to being ill (more ill than normal). And I had to write my presentations.  But, I thought, I could perhaps make a page on my website.

Oh boy, did you all come out with such kindness and understanding.

I received 50 donations and book orders to date. And thereby reaching my basic target, to have funds to pay for accommodation and one meal a day. THANK YOU. 
But besides the funding, I also received such amazing emails, and letters, and cards, and messages. Others shared my story on social media. And in doing so brought awareness of the challenges of living with M.E.
My goodness, you all truly warmed my heart.

I was in tears by every notification. I am in tears now, while writing this.

Tears from gratitude.

  • I was interviewed on The world in View in which Bernadette and Stan Philips were supportive of my journey and were very disappointed that I did not receive funding. They highlighted M.E., and being an advocate for M.E. through M.E. Advocates Ireland . They highlighted disability, the power of art, and of course the travels to the UK.
  • And by by Emily Ahern from the Avondhu Newspaper.
  • Rachel Reeves contacted me for an article for the Nottingham Puppet Festival: The Power of Puppetry.
  • And Greg Crowhurst made a (tribute) video to celebrate the making of his puppet through distant learning: Here comes Johnny which is a celebration and the power of sharing the art of puppetry to bring people out of isolation.

Avondhu newpaper, page 22, 15-3-2018. Emily Ahern
Avondhu newpaper, page 22, 15-3-2018. Emily Ahern


I am ready to go.
As ready as I will ever be.

If you like to stay in touch with the stories emerging from my travels:
  • please sign up for email updates - see top right of screen when viewing web version or on laptop/computer.
  • Or "like" my Facebook page
With every best wish, and thank you So much for coming along on my journey.

UK dates:
  • Both are Free events, but tickets can be booked in advance 
  • Talk in connection with Puppet Place Bristol 29th March - details to be anounched  

Monday, March 12, 2018

Cecile's story will live on through Póilin (Puppet)

Life can be so amazing, 

and sad, and inspiring, 

and full of contradictions 

and syncronicities all at the same time.

Cecilia Maier Gilchrest March 23, 1944 - March 03, 2018

The past few days I have finally started to put words and images together for my first talk in Nottingham Puppet Festival. The thoughts were well formed in my mind. I just hadn't found the moment yet to put the thoughts in order and into a presentation.

Friday was the day 'it happened'.
The thoughts, and the many notes I had made during the past 6 weeks of pretty much 'hugging the couch', were put in a reasonably orderly manner on a large blank page!

One of the notes I found were by my friend Cecile

"What an auspicious way to begin spring*. 
The energy that propels you so gracefully to give the gift of puppets to others."

* 21st March is first day of spring in USA & Holland anyway

21st March also happens to be World Puppetry Day.

My first talk is on the 23rd March. Cecile's birthday.

Yesterday I added a very short film to my presentation, of Cecile and Póilin Puppet having a moment of deep connection.
A few hours later I heard that Cecile had passed away on the 3rd March.

Rest in peace my dear friend.

Cecile and I met last month for the first time. But we had been in contact via email, and via our spiritual beings for over two years. Read her/our story here. It is beautiful.

"And then we stood on the wall, held hands, 
and flew in one of the most beautiful dreams of my life."

Cecile Gilchrest

In short, the book-in-a-box format of my book Into the Light  was conceived in room 4 of the Care Centre at Dzogchen Beara. Cecile stayed in room 4 a few months after the book was officiallly launched there. She connected with the words and images, and with the author on a very deep level. When made aware of the connection with the very room, email contact was initiated.

How beautiful a journey we have had over the past two and a half years. Not beautiful in terms of our health challenges, but beautiful to develop a deep understanding of our lives, and the way we find ways to live the best way we can.

We often shared a 'cup of tea', while I'd sit beside her bed.
All via our emails and thoughts, as Cecile lived in the USA, I am in Ireland.

We often shared 'virtual' time in the conservatory of room 4 at the Care Centre. Again in our thoughts, and with the idea, that ONE day, we will actually be together.

It became a reality.

We booked a stay at the Care Centre for the first week in February 2018. Cecile was accompanied by her daughter Monique and friend Dolores (Dee). They travelled all the way from the USA.

I am so immensely grateful for having had time with Cecile.
We talked. Cried. Laughed. Hung out.
Unfortunately I was ill during my stay, so didn't get to spend as much time as I would have hoped, but we met every day in room 4!

Last year we realized we also both have a connection with puppetry.
Cecile used puppetry until the age of 26. She clearly never lost her skills, as watching her animate my puppet Póilin, was just pure magic. I had only seen my puppet as an object I was working on.
In Cecile's hands she came alive.
So, Póilin was truly born on the 2nd February 2018.

Thank you Cecile.
Your story, and stories, and I have many in my head and heart, will live on through Póilin.

Rest peacefully my dear friend.
It has been an honour to have been part of your life.


12th March 2018