The Door is Always Open is about why we explored our values in the context of moving to a new community, what we were looking for and how we moved to a completely new community. Once we had moved the next step was to ensure we took responsibility to integrate and how we have been rewarded this year when we have needed help.
4 Key Takeaways:
- Prioritising what’s important to us in a community
- Participating in the community
- Giving and receiving
- Appreciating others
About Carol Passemard:
moved to Ireland from the UK 10 years ago; along with my husband and it was the best thing we have ever done. I have lived in many different places both in the UK and the Middle East and been through the ‘University of Life!’ In moving to Connemara I finally feel as if I have come home even though I am not Irish. I also moved my business, Breakthrough Retreat. Most of my clients come to work on a 1:1 basis (or as a couple) – they usually stay in Clifden for 2 to 3 days. Why do they want my assistance? because they are stuck and at a crossroads in their life. They come from all over Ireland, UK, Europe and I even had a client come from Brazil last year. What I do is help them discover the tools and techniques that can help them to build a better life for themselves. Despite the challenges clients have to deal with clients they usually leave here knowing what they need to do in make change happen. My approach is holistic and it is not counselling. Should they require further assistance after their Breakthrough Retreat we work online. It is very rewarding and a privilege to work with clients who then go and make a significant difference to their lives.
Contacting Carol Passemard:
By Carol Passemard
During 2005 we started to think about our Autumn years and to explore places that we might move to when our own much loved home would be too big and difficult for us to manage.
We wanted to be near the sea and although we loved the countryside where we were living, in the Pennines between Manchester and Leeds, we were a good two hours drive from any kind of sea.
At the time I was completing some training that focused on the importance of values in peoples’ lives. Using the techniques I was trained in we started to discuss what was really important to each of us and where we dreamed of living.
- What would it look like
- Were there any sounds that were important to us
- Were there any feelings we had
- What would we say to ourselves when we finally found the place of our dreams?
The list we came up with was as follows:
- Big skies (we had those already)
- South facing – Light was important to us (in the Pennines we had learned about the lack of light in the deep dark valleys around us)
- Sea view – not something we had
- A place we could renovate and make it 3 bedrooms
- Close to a community (we had had a taster of community but never really felt that we belonged)
- Have somewhere close to where we could put a boat in the water.
Little did we expect that this wish list would take us to Ireland and Connemara! In January 2008 we took possession of the keys for the house of our dreams in Clifden. It ticked all the boxes and we felt very excited about our move.
Community we decided was something we had to work on: We were very conscious of being regarded as ‘Blow Ins’ and decided it was our responsibility to reach out to the community and gain rapport with them. Why should they have to come to us?
They assumed we were just going to have a holiday house here but once we established that our intention was to live here all the year round they were more welcoming – shaking our hands and becoming far more chatty.
We would walk around the town; make conversation with the shop owners. Ask them about their business, listening to their concerns about the economic crash that had recently occurred and empathize over their worries.
We joined various organisations and found out about the various activities that were available in the area. And of course everyone was very curious about who we were, where we had come from and why had we chosen Connemara?
The first year living here was like the honeymoon period – people welcomed us, questioned us, entertained us and we in turn made an effort to reciprocate. We discovered the things and the people that we enjoyed and the things we decided were not for us. We made our own choices.
During the following years we made our mark on various committees and took on various roles that we believed would contribute positively to the community.
And here we are now in 2019 when in May we had the biggest shock of our lives:
During the first May bank holiday, my husband, Paul was feeling unwell. We discovered there was a walk in clinic in our local hospital and decided to take advantage of it. We were quickly seen by the locum doctor who advised us to go straight to the University Hospital in Galway.
After many hours of waiting in A&E Paul was admitted to the short stay ward and I drove home alone. I had trained as a nurse in the early 70s and through my training, although very out of date! I knew and trusted that Paul was in the best place.
Throughout the following two weeks I started to learn the true value of being part of a community.
While we had been waiting in A&E I had contacted one friend to tell her about our demise. She was someone I knew I could call on as a listening ear, she invited me for meals, she, and her husband were there for me.
During the next two weeks. I was in and out of Galway everyday and gradually others offered to feed me, provide help in anyway or generally be there.
At first I felt I could do everything for myself – being an independent soul! I cut the grass and realised I was 10 years older since I had last done that in Yorkshire and it wasn’t quite so easy anymore. The next time it needed to be done a friend came and did it for me. I was contacted by someone else whose son ran a gardening services business and he offered to come and see what needed doing.
Now he comes regularly and helps us out. Eventually Paul returned home and then came the diagnosis. His consultant invited us to Merlin Park where he felt we could have a quiet conversation without the hussle, bussle and demands of the teaching hospital. He explained to us what they had found and that he had already set up an appointment for us to meet with the Oncology Consultant – 2 days hence. It all came as a huge shock but we both appreciated the sensitivity of the consultant and the hospital staff as they were there supporting us.
We made a conscious decision then to share our news in our community. We did not want people talking behind our backs and wondering what had been going on with Paul and possibly misleading others with information. We chose to be up front with them and the response we got was phenomenal.
All the ladies gave Paul a hug and words of encouragement – of course he loved all that attention! Men shook his hand and said how much they admired his courage in being so open and honest about his situation.
There were offers of help and one particular person offered the use of her house in Galway during the times when we had to be in for treatment. That has been incredibly helpful because it means we are able to drive to Galway the afternoon before, go out for a meal (at a romantic table for two) and then be in the outpatient oncology unit the following day for 8am.
We also told everyone we wanted life to continue in as normal way as possible and for as long as possible. We continue to be invited out for meals, entertain and have fun. Knowing that the community is there for us when times get more difficult.
During one particular evening; as we were departing from another enjoyable evening meal I was taken aside and told to remember that “the door is always open”.
This year we have both recognized that we are in the right place. There is a very special kind of love in our community. People want to help and support each other and for this we are eternally grateful.
This is the community we dreamed of and we have found it here in Ireland.