Calling it Good

‘Some time when the river is ice ask me

mistakes I have made. Ask me whether

what I have done is my life.’

[William Stafford]


I walk along the beach and what I hear, in my mind, is the phrase: “let this be your good work”.

It is crisp and it is beautiful.  I look at the sea and the coastline, at the dark outline of Mussenden Temple in the last moments of daylight.

Let this be your good work.  This walking.  This breathing deep.

Let this be your good work.  This paying attention.  This finding words to tell about it.

Let this be your good work.  This making space to think and listen, to plan and to write.

Let this be your good work.  This honouring of your nature and your needs and, maybe, even, your gifts.

Let this be your good work.  This consideration of why you write and who you’re writing to.

You are writing, of course, to the ones who think their work isn’t good enough and their contribution doesn’t count.  You are writing to the ones whose homes, and heads, are noisy and demanding, the ones who are longing for a little quiet.  You are writing to the ones who have been suppressing the stirrings in their souls and the phrases in their minds.  You are writing to the ones that isn’t working for.

You are writing because when you listen to your own disquiet it is hard, but when you don’t, it isn’t your life.  You are writing because you want to be one of the people Parker Palmer writes about, the people who “decide no longer to act on the outside in a way that contradicts some truths about themselves that they hold deeply on the inside”.  You write to stop conspiring in your own diminishment, to encourage others to do the same.

Let this be your good work.  This weekend.  This one ordinary thing.  This doing your own life.  This stopping and calling it good.


Body: Insights from a Beauty Therapist

Today’s guest post adds the voice of a thoughtful beauty therapist to our conversation about ‘Body’. This is an important one for me. Some of us will never be the woman with perpetually manicured nails, or want to be, but we struggle somewhere over at the other extreme – we are busy and tired and feel guilty or indulgent very easily.  I suspected my friend Deborah Murray might have something to say about this, and she does.  She advocates here for the power of space, smell and touch.  I wanted to book in with her the second I read it…

Body 365


I am Deborah.

I have been a beauty therapist for 12 years.

I love people and I love hearing their stories.

I have a much deeper understanding as to what it means to be beautiful now than I did 12 years ago…

…and it has nothing to do with makeup.

It is all about how YOU feel about YOU.

In the words of Mr Baz Lurman:

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth.
Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded.
But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.
You are not as fat as you imagine.

I see and hear women constantly criticising themselves. Spend 5 mins asking a woman about her skin, or earrywigging in changing rooms. We focus on every flaw. So, my advice – avoid magnifying mirrors. Throw away the celeb mags. Learn to feel good in your own skin. Smile. It is the warmest, most open and endearing feature of any person. It puts people at ease and it draws you towards them. Smiling is beautiful. I truly believe that a beautiful person is a contented person.

What I have also observed about people is that they are busy. People are always going somewhere, doing something, looking after someone, planning, working, shopping, meeting, emailing, texting, exercising, feeling guilty. Always feeling guilty for having not done, should have done, tried to do, meant to do, will do…

It is constant, persistent and it takes people to dark, lonely places where they experience no peace, contentment or joy.

How does this relate to how you feel about your body?

Well I passionately believe that if you look after your mind, your body will feel the benefits and you can take care of the mind by also taking care of the exterior. This is not superficial or indulgent – it is, I would argue, essential.

I am not going to speak for all beauty salons because not all will have the same ethos in their business but I will tell you what I aim to achieve every day, for every client.

From the moment you come through the door of the salon, you relax.

There is a lovely smell, there is a smiling face, you take a seat, you turn your phone off, you sip a glass of water, you have 5 minutes to breathe, there is no noise, it is still, quiet and peaceful.

Already something has happened in your day that you probably don’t get the chance to do very often. You simply sit.

So the next bit…the smiling face returns and now tells you to follow them into a dimly lit room, candles are sparkling, there is a treatment couch with a towel on it. The therapist gives you instructions and you are left, in the dark, with the candles, the towel and you have to lie down.

Lie down!!!!? In the middle of the day?

(yes, and you do cause it would be weird in this story if you don’t.)

You lie down, and the friendly girl comes back in. There are lovely smells, you experience touch. You breathe deeply and the fears begin to pass and the sense of wellbeing increases.

This doesn’t just happen in a massage, I have seen people relax deeply during a 15 min eyebrow wax, a pedicure, file and paint, a facial. This is your space. If you want to chat you can, if you want to close your eyes, fall asleep or simply flick the switch in your brain to off-mode that is all good!

I cannot explain just how much this matters. You will feel brighter, you may feel emotional (and we all sometimes need a valve to release the pressure), you will feel your spirits lift and you will have something nice to show for it! Pretty toes, lighter shoulders, neat eyebrows, hair free upperlip, buffed and polished soft skin.

Give it a go.

And finally…

Surround yourself with beautiful things.

Buy yourself a bunch of flowers and display them somewhere you will see them and appreciate them every day. Go to a cupcake shop and buy a pretty iced treat. Burn a candle that reminds you of your favourite time of year! Go for a walk in every season of the year and breathe deep.







DMDeborah Murray is a business woman and beauty therapist.  She has created a haven of calm and peace at Deborah Harper Makeup and Beauty in the charmingly restored  1863 Railway Station at Helen’s Bay Square.  Last year she got married to the wonderful Andrew and they live in Bangor. Deborah loves putting her walking boots on and getting out around the beautiful north down coast. You might spot her around Helen’s Bay with her camera, capturing the beautiful things she passes each day on her walk to work.

(Read the rest of the Body series here.)