Introduction to Getting More Out of Life

The articles in this book are a collection of thoughts built around my personal experiences and include a diversity of themes. But threaded throughout them all are the caring, sharing and reaching out with love that I have grown to believe is the most beneficial way to live for our own well-being and that of others.

Writing a book is something that I never thought I would do in my lifetime. However, following a period of grief and pain in the years following my beloved Seamus’s death, and with my own fluctuating health, I began to reflect on my life and see the world with eyes that took into account the diversity of life for others especially those that had touched mine. I also began to consider the value of life experiences and how powerful messages and insights are all too often lost with the beholder. Initially, my reflections were short articles that were at best therapeutic for me at that time as I pondered alternative perspectives and challenged common beliefs and values.

My experiences on all aspects of life over 35 years of service with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, being involved in my own business, acting as coordinator of a second chance education centre, visiting the imprisoned over many years and being a late-comer to university life – all gave me an invaluable insight into people and the unique journey each one of us experiences. This insight has blessed me with the perspective of others, such as prison from the inside, workers’ dilemmas, the poor in health, spirit and life, and many intangible forces that influence our lives, not always positively. Understanding addiction, coping with pain from grief, family conflicts or abuse are also experiences that we have to be touched with to really be able to empathise with. Even though we have been forced to face our deep denial as a society in the recent past, there are still many issues that we find problematic as we progress towards enlightenment. In these articles I try to bring a perspective to lives and ways of living that I hope will inspire you to open your hearts and minds in new ways to those whose lives may be blighted by adversity and challenges, and bring happiness and hope through the gift of sharing and caring to others and to your own lives. I have learned valuable lessons that enriched my life from listening and being with others on their journey and my hope is that the reader will gain an understanding of the importance of that same concept from these articles.