2014 or bust: big goals for the year ahead
Becoming a local councillor, writing a second novel, becoming a make-up artist and making it in Aussie rules: seven people reveal their disparate dreams for the coming year
Author Liz Nugent. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Mamori gumshield designer Mark Dillon. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Make-up artist Lorcan Devaney
Martina Genockey, who wants to be elected as a local councillor
Deidre Veldon, Paul Cullen and their four children in Nicaragua
Daniel Flynn of Port Adelaide Australian Rules football club (pictured playing for Kildare). Photograph: Inpho
A change is as good as a rest, so with the new year looming, and with it talk of resolutions, is it worth going a step further and and signing up for a complete overhaul?
Cathal Keegan is a registered counselling psychologist with Turn2me and has a master’s in work and organisational psychology. He says prolonged dissatisfaction in work can lead to repressed energy. “That’s where addiction starts to kick in,” he says. “We need to be stimulated.”
When assessing someone for stress, Keegan breaks their life down into three areas. “It’s like a three-legged stool. One aspect is work, another aspect is home – your actual physical environment – and the other aspect is relationships, either marital or family. And if any one of those is a problem area, we need to address it. It’s a simple approach that people can apply in seconds to get an idea of where they are at.”
However, he finds many of the people he talks to view their careers not as a third of their lives but as 80 or 90 per cent. With this in mind, we spoke to people who are making big changes or taking big risks with their careers in 2014.
Sheryl Crow’s A Change Will Do You Good is playing in a coffee shop in Dublin’s Citywest. Judging by the 29-year-old, who looks remarkably well after a wet and windy morning of door-to-door leafleting, Crow might have a point.
After following an arts degree with a master’s in journalism, Martina Genockey got a job as a reporter with her local paper, the Tallaght Echo. “Being honest, when I went into the master’s I was doing it because I wanted that job.”
Her family moved from the northside to Jobstown when she was three. “When we moved to Tallaght, there wasn’t much there. A lot of community facilities were built over the last 15 years or so, and my parents would have been really involved in that. So that was the kind of background I was coming from.”
Genockey left the Echo but continued to work within the community, most recently with South Dublin County Partnership, and this year was asked to run in next year’s local elections.
One of the reasons she said yes was the recent decision of local councillor Marie Corr to stand down after 10 years. “She’s who I would have voted for. I just felt that having a young woman from the area is so important,” she says. “I never would have gone knocking if I hadn’t been asked, and not just asked but really encouraged. But it just felt right.”
She enlisted her brother Darragh as director of elections (“He’s the reason we were out in that weather – cracking the whip”), while her boyfriend, Stephen, also chips in, as well as family and friends. “After Christmas it’ll really kick on in terms of getting out there, meeting people and canvassing.”
Goal for 2014: to be Cllr Martina Genockey.
“I was working in the drama department in RTÉ for the last 10 years – a permanent, pensionable, secure job,” says Liz Nugent. “But I had just completed a first novel, which took me years to write because I was only doing it in dribs and drabs.”
The pace was slow until Nugent spent two weeks writing at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Co Monaghan. “I sent it to Marianne Gunn O’Connor, who I just knew by reputation as being a brilliant agent. [She] said that she’d represent me, and then quite quickly afterwards she got a deal for me with Penguin.” The book, Unravelling Oliver, is out in March 2014.
The 46-year-old then quit her job to focus on her writing. “I just decided that, if I was going to capitalise on that, I would need to have a second novel coming fairly quickly afterwards.”
What does her day look like since leaving RTÉ? “I don’t set an alarm. Getting away from the tyranny of the alarm clock has been the biggest leap in my life, I think. I get up when I get up, usually around half eight or nine, slob around in my pyjamas for a while and I’m in the library by about 10 or 10.30. I work straight through then – no lunch – till about four or 4.30. So I do about six hours, but it’s solid work, no distractions.”
She is researching her next novel. “This week the challenge has been to see how long does it take for a body to decay and where can a body disappear [so] that it would leave no trace. This is 1980s, pre-DNA.”
Goal for 2014: To finish the first draft of her second novel by May and adapt to the life of an author.
Dillon, a 23-year-old product designer from Ballinteer, Co Dublin, made it to the shortlist of this year’s James Dyson Award with his final-year college project, the Mamori gumshield.
“Mamori uses basic electronics to measure the force of an impact and let someone know: ‘This player is in serious danger of being concussed.’ There’s no ifs or buts. The problem is that no governing body has really take a stance on it,” he says
“Players and coaching staff don’t want to have their best players missing for games, which is reasonable – it’s their job. But the problem with concussion is not just that you’re out for a week: it’s the repercussions throughout the rest of your life.”
The next step, he says, is money. “The project has to be tested very thoroughly before anything else happens. And that’s where I’m stuck. This is as far as I’ll get without any backing. My next step is to contact the likes of the IRFU or the GAA to try and get them on board.”
Goal for 2014: To get backing to develop a Mamori gumshield prototype and/or to find work in medical device design.
After his Leaving Cert, Lorcan Devaney (24) studied massage therapy in Tralee. “I enjoyed it,” he says. “But after three years or so, I was just bored. I decided to take a year’s break, which turned into three years. I did look for work in massage for a while – which is super upsetting if you go on to Gumtree and look up ‘massage therapist wanted’ – but it’s really hard to get into. So I got a few jobs in retail.”
His interest in make-up started with the Dublin club night Partie Monster. “Bodypainting was my gimmick,” he says. “After doing that for a while I got more interested in make-up.”
He was drawn to the creative side of it. “I really enjoy the art side of it and doing really interesting looks, but it’s not something you’re going to make huge money off, unless you become a famous make-up artist. So that’s my plan.”
Instagram helps him access his heroes in the industry, such as Ru Paul’s make-up artist, Mathu Andersen, and James Vincent. “You can connect with these people. I’ve exchanged comments with this guy who I really look-up to and he’s commented on make-up work that I’ve done, which is really exciting. I’ve found direction now, and I think that’s the hardest part, because I was stuck in a rut. I was unemployed for seven months, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was kind of playing with make-up, but I never thought I could be getting an education and a living out of it.”
Goal for 2014: Finish a six-month course in make-up artistry and get work in the area.
In October this year, Daniel Flynn just about made it back from Adelaide to help his home club, Johnstownbridge, win the intermediate football championship. “I went out for the [Australian Football League] draft combine,” he says, “and just got back the day before. The 20-year-old also played the majority of the league and all the championship games this year with Kildare. “We went out a bit early – we hadn’t planned on that.”
By now Flynn will be enjoying some downtime at home with his family, but for the past couple of months he’s been acclimatising to the Australian heat – “it’s about 40 degrees” – and to life as a professional athlete. During the summer, he got a call from Port Adelaide. “They were interested in bringing me in to have a look, and just wanted to know what I thought of it. I jumped at it, of course.”
The difference between training for GAA and Aussie Rules is vast, says Flynn. At home, he would have had “maybe two gym sessions a week and maybe two pitch sessions a week, but you’d train for maybe two hours. Whereas here, one session we had started at 7.30am and we didn’t leave till . . . I think was 5.40pm. So they’re big days.
“Everything over here is supervised completely – your sleep, your heart rate, your diet.
“We train Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. So we have Thursday and Sunday off, but you’re that tired you just recover really.
“I’m just taking it all as it comes. It’s all totally new and different. I’m looking forward to it.”
Goal for 2014: To make progress and learn the game (and avoid heatstroke, presumably).
TRAVELLING LIGHT MOVING THE FAMILY TO CENTRAL AMERICA
The economic crash has meant many things for many people, but for nearly all of us it has involved putting cherished dreams on hold.
As the years slide by, those postponed ambitions start to look like foolish notions, a far cry from the business of survival. There are always plenty of reasons not to go away.
For each of us, a parent endured a long illness and died, children came along and needed rearing, and the recession reared up to put the kybosh on our ambitions. Or so it seemed.
On one hand, the arrival of our fourth child in 2013 seemed like a permanent end to any plans to travel. On the other, why not just bring the baby?
We cut our cloth according to our measure by abandoning thoughts of round-the-world travel. With four children in tow, we’re not the fastest-moving group on the road. And we had a four-month-old baby to consider.
So here we are. The three girls are enjoying attending a local school here in Granada, Nicaragua, as well as keeping up with their Irish school work. They have adjusted to the heat and way of life in no time.
While this is a beautiful country, it’s also the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, and with a troubled history, so the children’s eyes are being opened not only to natural beauty, but also to the challenges faced by people living in poverty.
We’re learning some Spanish. The baby is lapping up the adoration he gets everywhere he goes.
Life’s a bit more stripped-down here, so there’s plenty of time to do things as a family, enjoy the outdoors and shoot the breeze with new friends.
We’re discovering the difference between living somewhere and taking a holiday. Paul Cullen and Deirdre Veldon
See deirdreveldon.wordpress.com for their Travelling Light blog