Learning to slow down & speak a little slower

A little about life

Growing up performing in front of large groups of people never seemed to phase me. Music was one of the subjects I chose for my leaving cert for which I sung. In preparation for our practical the school organized a mini concert for younger years and the odd family members to attend. I remember loving the rush before stepping out on the stage and the relief after singing the last note. I often get the same rush when giving a presentation or making a speech.

I vividly remember a couple of weeks before starting my final year in college I was asked to give a presentation to incoming first years about the society I was involved with. For anyone who knows DCU it was in T101, a large lecture hall with tiered seating. The lecturer politely made an introduction followed by one of my peers kicking off the presentation. A few moments later he turned to me signaling that I was to take over. I stood there for a very painful 30 seconds before looking blankly at him to continue. I walked out of the lecture hall swearing that I would never let that happen again.

In the summer of 2013 I was lucky enough to get a one on one coaching session from Barbara Moynihan, MD of On Your Feet. By the end of the summer I was able to confidently give a 17 minute speech to a professional judging panel with 4 other society members.

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I believe in my line of work it is important to be able to confidently present in front of your peers, colleagues, clients and strangers. I have found the more passionate or excited I am about something the quicker I talk, even my parents have difficulty understanding me at times. I am working on a really exciting project in work at the moment and get quite exciting when bringing the team up to date. One member of the team tends to smile and nod, then if I ask a follow up question his reply without fail is ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t understand you’. For this reason I recently enrolled in Toastmasters. This is a global public speaking organization. The club I joined is small with the recent attendance being between eight and twelve people.

The club runs for one hour every Tuesday night. There was a once off membership fee of $20 and then to enroll until September it was $30. The structure remains the same weekly however, the roles change round depending on who volunteers. You have the toastmaster who leads the session, a person presenting the word of the day and another presenting the joke of the day. There is an opportunity for two people to present their prepared speeches and an opportunity for short 2 minute unprepared speeches. During the second half of the session we hear feedback on the prepared speeches, members vote on the best unprepared speech and we also hear from grammarian about how many filler words the speakers used.

I have volunteered to do a prepared presentation the first week in June. I am looking forward to that feeling I use to be so familiar with, the rush of excitement, that sigh of relief when it is all over and sense of accomplishment. I hope this is the start of many more (hopefully successful) presentations, improving throughout the process and maybe in not so long that certain team member will be able to understand me, even through my excitement.

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#BeMyYes

#BeMyYes

On Saturday the 9th of May, members of the Irish community in San Francisco gathered together to encourage those back home to use their vote in the upcoming referendum. It is estimated that there are over 1 million Irish citizens living abroad. That is 1 million Irish people that can not vote in the upcoming marriage referendum. The #BeMyYes campaign was launched at the start of May encouraging people in Ireland to ‘be the voice of those who cannot be heard’.

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With this in mind, on Saturday a group of us gathered together beside the picturesque Golden Gate Bridge to take a photograph encouraging our loved ones at home to get out and vote. The turn out was fantastic and we even managed to convince some Scottish/Australian tourists to hold some letters for us. As mentioned on Saturday, ‘it doesn’t take a lot to show up’, the real credit goes to Adel for organizing such a successful event and putting together the short video below.

Be My Yes

After the main photo a handful of us made our way to The Castro, one of the first gay districts in the United States. This is where we took one of my favorite photographs of the day, at the rainbow flag cross roads. We waited for the lights and then in order of height quickly ran halfway across the road and posed for a quick photograph. I have to say this Saturday was one of my best days in San Francisco to date.

It has been difficult watching all the campaigning being done in Ireland from abroad. It has been inspiring seeing people of all generations stand together in the hope that their voice is heard. One of the best stories I read online is to do with a secondary close to my home in Dublin. ‘No’ posters were placed outside the school grounds and students responded by painting a rainbow on the ground at the school gates. Now bare in mind the voting age in Ireland is 18 years old which means over 80% of the students are unable to vote, however, they are aware of what is happening and want their voices to be heard.

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I was also delighted to see Dublin City University revised their exam timetable so students can be at home to vote. They are also proudly flying the Rainbow LGBT Flag on the main campus building. Another reason why all students past and present should be proud to be associated with a university standing strong and leading the way once again.

Here is a short video that pretty much sums up our day on Saturday. Please go to your local polling station on the 22nd of May and be our yes! <3

From the dance studio to the GAA pitch

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I remember the day I walked into my very first ballet class, excited and hopeful that this would be the same class my neighbor and childhood best friend attended. Our teacher Marie Cole walked around the room with her remote gently tapping our knees when our first position was over turned. I remember drawing an imaginary line on the floor, pretending it was a tightrope, and playfully fell over, as I prepared for our performance in the National Concert Hall.

I remember the day I arrived to class upset over homework, Ms Cole took my hand, thinking I was upset due to my friend missing our weekly class and lead me to my place. I remained with the ‘Irish Ballet School’ throughout primary school, secondary school and during my first couple of years in university.  Weekly classes became bi-weekly and increased further before the occasional performances.

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I contemplated joining a dance class when I first moved over, while also looking for other opportunities. To my father’s delighted I found a GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) club to join, Clan Na Gael. My friends back home find this concept hilarious… and tbh so do I!

Growing up sports were just not my thing. Now don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of people that dance and take part in competitive sports, I was just never that girl! However, in my opinion there is no better time than now to change that. So much has changed over the last year so why not give this a shot!

I have to admit I have not been as dedicated as I would like to be, but I plan on changing that. We train twice a week and have the odd match on the weekend against the only other ladies team in SF.

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I love the feeling of accomplishment after training, the fitness aspect of it and the community the club offers. The only thing that has been holding me back is the feeling I get during training… It reminds me of when I returned to dancing after being out with a knee injury. Everyone had learnt a new dance for an upcoming performance. I had sat in on some of the rehearsals to avoid falling behind, but watching and actually dancing are two very different things. My first class back I messed up the steps and found myself getting extremely frustrated. At training I feel like I am reliving that dance class, over and over again. I know with time and practice I will improve (I really can’t get any worse) and I am determined not to give up! Sure I’ve already been told I have the ‘spin’ defense move down ;)

The Age of Adaline

Adaline

Last Thursday I went to see ‘The Age of Adaline’ a story of a women born in 1908, who was in a car accident in 1935, and as a result cannot age. Adaline played by the beautiful Blake Lively is a movie a would highly recommend going to see.

Having only previously seen Blake star in popular the television series ‘Gossip Girl’ this was a much welcomed change of scenery. The one and only similarity between ‘The Age of Adaline’ and ‘Gossip Girl’ was Blake’s stylish outfits and ever changing hairstyles.

A big bonus was that some scenes are set in San Francisco showing new and old footage of the city and how things have changed over the years. It is always nice to watch a movie/television show and be able to relate to the setting.

‘The Age of Adaline’ is currently out in cinema’s in the U.S. and is hitting cinema’s in Ireland on the 8th of May.

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My Enactus Experience: What’s it all about?!?

Students of Ireland’s top universities are busy preparing for this years National competition, competing to represent Enactus Ireland in this years World Cup in South Africa. In 2013, myself and five other students from Dublin City University (DCU) represented Enactus Ireland in Mexico for the 2013 World Cup.

Following the competition I was asked to write a guest blog for Enactus Ireland on my experience of Enactus. I recently came across my blog post and with minor changes I have decided to share it here.

Good luck to everyone in this years competition!

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I got involved with Enactus in my final year of university and I can honestly say it was one of my best and most rewarding experiences in university. People often ask me ‘What is Enactus?’ or ‘What’s so great about it?’ both questions I struggle to answer, however, in a few words I will try! Enactus for me is, students from across the world seeing situations that need to be changed, these students realise they have the power to make a difference! I have always enjoyed helping other people and Enactus gave me the opportunity to continue helping others.

I initially got involved as a dance teacher for one of DCU’s projects, HeadstARTS. HeadstARTS is an organization that enables and empowers people with intellectual disabilities through the arts. I really didn’t understand the impact this project was having on our member’s lives and to be honest I still don’t think I do. We enabled and empowered, similar to all Enactus projects! Our member’s lives were changed and we gave them a creative outlet in the arts.

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I am proud to say I went on to represent DCU at both the Irish National Competition and Enactus World Cup in Mexico. The whole experience feels like a dream and trying to explain it to others is close to impossible. I was astonished to see how students from all corners of the earth shared the same passion and excitement for helping other people as myself and team. The joyous atmosphere was contagious. Everyone dressed up in their traditional clothes, music was blaring, people were dancing and exchanging gifts from their native countries. We even taught the Egyptians a few ‘one, two, threes’!

Because of Enactus I have learnt that I am not alone in wanting to make a difference in the world and anything we may do alone or together will make a difference. As Mother Teresa said “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”. Enactus has also given me the opportunity to meet some inspiring and wonderful business leaders.

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Although my college journey has come to an end I hope my Enactus journey has not! If the opportunity arose I would love to be a judge not only in Ireland’s National competition but also in the World’s. I have been so inspired with what I have seen this year, Enactus students see opportunities to make the world a better place and instead of overlooking the problems, they make it their mission.

If I could give one bit of advice to students, business leaders and companies, it would be… get involved! You will not be disappointed!

Hopwater Distribution

Hopwater Distribution

For the past 7 months I have been in search of ‘proper’ fries. Up until yesterday all fries fell short of meeting my criteria of chunky, real potatoes cooked to perfection. You’d think a city with so many Irish bars they’d at least be serving some proper fries with a good dose of malt vinegar. Anyone looking for a new business venture? I’m telling you there is a market here for some decent Irish food. Now that the beef import ban has been lifted there might be hope of getting a decent Irish fry!

Anyway… Hopwater Distribution is located a short walk from Union Square. Here you will find 31 ‘All-California Beers’ on tap. Don’t worry this list is often rotated so there will always be something new to try! I have been here on two occasions and have enjoyed various light blonde beers. The beers are reasonable prices between $6-$8.

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What to order:

Now for the main event… the food! Last night I ordered the Angus Ground Chuck/Brisket Burger. It was served with scallion aioli, arugula, acme bun and steak fries. While the burger was delicious the main event was the steak cut fries. The fries were fresh and thick cut. Next time I go back I will be arriving equipped with Heniz malt vinegar… it truly was the only thing that was missing. Other members of our group ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich and really enjoyed that.

Price: 

Angus Ground Chuck/Brisket Burger with steak fries  – $10

Beer – $6

Atmosphere: 

Hopwater Distribution is pleasantly bright and open. There is a variation of both high-tops and regular tables. Although only 3 blocks away from the tenderloin Hopwater Distribution draws a good crowd. While both times I have gone it has been with a large group the bar is also suitable for smaller groups! There is also setting upstairs for parties of two.

Overall:

Without a doubt I am giving Hopwater Distribution 5/5 stars. There is only one thing I would change which would be to provide malt vinegar, but to be honest I think that is more of an Irish thing. The bar tenders are on hand to give advice when selecting your beer and do not rush you to make a decision no matter how busy they are.

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Roam Burger

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Anyone who knows me from San Francisco will not be surprised that this restaurant is my first food post… I rave about this place and insist on taking everyone there! Roam Burger, is where the best burgers in the Bay can be found.

They have two locations in the bay one on Union St. and the other on  Fillmore St.. Myself and my roommate actually stumbled upon these delicious burgers by accident. We had been invited to a house party on Fillmore and knew we had to have a bite to eat beforehand. Coming from Ireland I have been blessed to grow up with grass fed meat, a luxury I completely took for granted. When buying meat here there isn’t always the option of ‘grass-fed’ and if there is it is rarely within budget.

What to order:

I always order ‘The Classic‘ which comes with tomato, lettuce, onion and pickles. I personally hate tomatoes and pickles, so I ask for them to be left out. There is beef, turkey, vegetarian and bison to choose from, I always opt for the beef which is grass fed. You then have the option of a lettuce wrap instead of the regular bun for those who are a little more health conscious. I have opted for the lettuce wrap on a few occasions and have found it can be very hit or miss. If it is not ‘wrapped’ properly in the kitchen the whole burger can fall apart in your hands. If you want fries you have to order them separately, I always get the ‘sweet potato fries’ which never disappoint.

Roam Burger

Price:

The Classic – $7.99

Sweet Potato fries – $3.99

Atmosphere:

The set up for Roam Burger is very standard by San Francisco standard. You go in, order your food, pay for your food, take a number and find a seat. I personally prefer the layout of the Fillmore branch, there is more seating and a nicer atmosphere. I find this set up works if you want to eat and go, not exactly the place you can sit and chat after finishing your food as there is a demand for seating.

Overall: 

I am giving Roam Burger 4/5 stars. I attended the Union St. branch when they were very busy and found there was very poor management when it came to customers finding seats before their food was ready. People that ordered after us took seats ahead of people that were previously waiting. Also on the odd occasion I have received fries that were ‘warm’ but not ‘hot’. But overall the food is fab and the staff are friendly, the loss of one star will not stop me from continuously returning :)

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