Naomi McCarthy

artist, writer, animateur

Busking in a public space whilst juggling two things with a hat out to accept cash

Whilst staying for a few days in a local village in Fiji on an island called “Nacula” in the Yasawa islands. Eric and Mards complete another dare at the local market.  .

Eric  showed off his amazing juggling skills and Mards sang, 'Shake it off’ by Tay Tay. Needless to say it was a hit and they made $10! Obviously there’s a future in it for them? Wish I'd been there - looks like a hoot!

Truth: What do you long for when you are alone?


interesting question… I don’t think I long for anything. When I am alone it’s usually an intentional choice to take the time out for myself and so I embrace it for what it is, not wishing an end and enjoying it whilst it lasts. However usually my private alone time is a chance for me to spend time with God (so actually, never alone - crazy weird as that sounds to say). And so I long for deeper intimacy with God when I am alone. But as a blanket thought, I don’t long for anything else :)


More Time! Undoubtedly when I am alone, I am worried, worried that an interruption is coming and I will not have finished all the things I need to finish before I am not alone again. Luckily I am getting better at being alone with other people, for example, putting earphones in at work to block out distractions or closing a door and asking not to be interrupted when at home. Segway - I owned a dog once, I loved walking him, as the little patch of creek we walked along was always deserted and I was undoubtedly always alone. The best part was, I decided how long our walk was, so I never needed to long for more time. Maybe I should start longing for a dog when I am alone….

Kathleen's truthful assessment of her goodness and badness

21 March

What percentage good or bad are you?

...I have no idea.

How can you quantify "good" or "bad" without first having a baseline of morality? Is being "good" having the same desires as someone who is bad, but simply not acting upon those desires? Is being "good" based on what you do for others, even if it's at the expense of your own happiness?

Here's what I think. I am more good than bad, but I am not as good as people think I am. Maybe 65% good, 35% bad? I don't know how to measure this, but I'll let you know some of the things that I do wrong:

 - I think negative things about others, though I'm not likely to say them. Instead, I swallow these negative thoughts, which makes me "worse" because I'm more resentful.

- I'm not a malicious or a violent person, but I have a fairly low tolerance for what I perceive as incompetence - both on my part and on the part of others. Thinking about the things that I'm not good at, as well as the things that I get frustrated with others for not being good at, makes me feel "worse" than I actually am.

 -  I'm more competitive than I let on, but I end up hiding the competitiveness - instead, it's as though I have a running tally going on, thinking that I must be better or worse than that other person - a better writer, a better cook, worse at researching, worse at social skills, worse at not being self-centred. If I spent all the energy I expend comparing myself to others on creative pursuits, instead, I'd be a more productive and happier person.

- Guilt has played a big part in my life, and I'm trying to make it less of a part of my life. Again, it makes me feel more convinced that I'm bad, when really the worst part is that it leads me to think too much about what I perceive as "bad" - which in itself is bad.

This is a fairly long answer to a fairly simple question - but the truth is that I don't know how to say how good or bad I am, because it happens sometimes that I'm a bad person - grumpy, impolite, ungrateful, lazy - without good reason. I'd need to take a survey of those who interact with me on a daily basis to try and figure out a percentage. Even then, the results would be skewed. And why do we need a percentage, anyway? We live in an age where so much information about the state of the world is easily available, quantifiable, ready for analysis - but how is it possible to plug a person into a machine to analyze their goodness? So much depends on the situations that people find themselves in, as well - you may never know how good, or how bad, a person is capable of being. 




Is Kathleen Happy? Read her blog post to find out.

Kathleen chose to deliver another truth, beautifully written and  bravely honest, this is a lovely heartfelt post from this player. 

15 March 2015

Am I happy? Why or why not?

(I just realised that I’ve been 28 years old for four months, today. That means I’ve been back in Canada for…seventeen weeks? And it’s been eighteen weeks since I ended my Camino. I feel a bit sad that nothing really feels DIFFERENT).

I am more-or-less happy – and I’m certainly better at being happy than I was at this time three years ago. In the spring of 2012, I cried almost every day, was convinced that I had no friends, worked at a job that made me miserable, beat myself up with guilt, and woke up most days feeling nauseous. If my past self saw me now, I hope that she’d be surprised and proud of the difference in my mood and my outlook.

In spite of knowing how far I've come, I still have lots of ideas concerning what would improve my life. The usual: having a partner, losing weight, not needing to worry about money, getting recognition for my creative outlets. Yet I do have many things in my life that make me happy. And most of what makes me unhappy is worrying – worrying about how I compare to other people, worrying that I won’t get the promotion I’m after/will fail out of school/will alienate the people around me, although I care about them/wont ever amount to anything. Its all in my head. On the Camino, though, I spent a lot of time living in my own head, and that was great! It also got better once I got out of the habit of negatively comparing myself to others. I wasnt happy all the time, but I had a general sense of contentment.

  Id say that my life here at home is the same in that theres a general sense of contentment, though the highs seem less joyful and the lows a bit more frequent - I have an acceptance that this is How Things Are. Im far from perfect, but I have a good sense of my goals and where I want to be (owning a condo doesnt appeal to me at all, Id rather take that money and travel to a new country every year). I know what brings me closer to contentment – a chat with a close friend, a long walk through a lovely neighbourhood, cooking, daydreaming on the back of the bus. I live where I do because I have built a life for myself in a place I thought Id like living in. Its a process – building something to be proud of. Happiness is a process, too – not every day sees me take strides towards contentment, but I do think that my life in the past three years has taken me further in that direction than I thought was possible.


New players Truth and Dare Post Camino: Mardi and Eric

Mardi and Eric are two more fine individuals that I met on the Camino de Santiago who have agreed to play Truth and Dare with Dandelion Projects. They are both high spirited, generous individuals who enthusiastically supported the delivery of many of my Truth and Dares on the Camino. For which I am eternally grateful and I have to say I miss them daily as I miss many things about walking the pilgrim's trail. I'm delighted they've taken up the invitation play Truth and Dare Post Camino. True to their adventurous spirits they've started their game with a Dare.

Dare: To go somewhere you've never been before and convince a stranger to let you sleep in their house.

Photographic evidence including a yellow dandelion, has been posted -  with the tagline Thanks Ron and Kate. The photo leads me to conject that making dumplings is a convivial social occasion that supported the giving and accepting of hospitality between strangers. Way to go guys.  

Mardi, Ron and Kate

Mardi with hosts Ron and Kate ,- strangers no more.

New Player Truth and Dare Post Camino: Kathleen's First Truth

I met Kathleen whilst walking the Camino de Santiago. We were both walking solo and she started out with an enormous novel for company and I with a smartphone full of podcasts and music. It didn't take long for Kathleen to post her novel home and for me to leave my recorded 'company' in my backpack as we both opened ourselves up to the delights of The Pilgrim's Way.

Kathleen was a willing participant in one of my dares on the Camino: "To do something I had never done before." On a wild and stormy night,  in the communal room of a medieval, stone monastery with an open fire, after being welcomed by a nun in traditional black and white habit, I chose to offer free foot massages to pilgrims. Kathleen was one of those pilgrims. Whilst not following any formal religion, I do have a primary school grounding in the Christian bible stories> Massaging feet was an offering to my fellow pilgrims informed by Jesus's act of humility when he washed the feet of his disciples. It was an act born of that moment, in that town, with those people, that makes me feel humble when I think of it now. To serve is  divine and there is grace in the offering and accepting of acts of kindness. I am thankful to those pilgrims that trusted the integrity of my offer.  

When invited to play Truth and Dare Post Camino Kathleen's answer was a resounding Yes.

Here is Kathleen's first Truth:  

 In what way do you feel inadequate? What makes you feel insecure?

12 March 2015

A lot is making me feel insecure right now – my job situation, my school situation, my worries about money, my worries about the future in general all combine to make me feel as though I’m floundering. The feelings of “maybe it’s too late” flood me at my worst moments. Maybe it’s too late to resuscitate my thesis project. Maybe it’s too late to make a good impression. Maybe it’s too late to find a partner when “all the good ones are taken”.

But…what is actually making me feel insecure? I think that, more than anything, it's my impression of myself in comparison to others, particularly other women around my age (my friends here tend to be between the ages of 24 and 35). My feelings of failure are intensified by looking at those around me. Of COURSE I’m going to feel inadequate if I look at my friend who just had a baby and my friends who are doing brilliantly at work and my friends who are in happy partnerships in adorable houses and my friends who are travelling and having new adventures every day. Not only because I'm romanticizing their existences, but also because I've combined all of their experiences into a composite, a reminder of Everything I Will Never Be, a superwoman who really *does* have it all. It’s all in the comparison, these feelings of inadequacy. I've never been an openly competitive person. Instead, I turn inward and concentrate on everything She (She who is Everything I Will Never Be) is, all that I've done wrong to not become Her.

 Moreover, I know in what ways I feel most inadequate - in all the ways you're supposed to be an Adult. Adults have stable living situations with partners who cook for them and jobs which are permanent. Adults have degrees. Adults have a sense of where they're going. Adults have sheets without holes in them and eat oatmeal for breakfast topped with fresh fruit, not three-dollar cheese scones from the hipster coffee shop near the office. Adults aren't afraid of dentists. Adults don't empty their savings accounts to travel to Europe for two months.

Of course, when I talk about how much focus all this insecurity takes, it's natural that in my work, I've been feeling unfocused the past couple weeks, as though I’m phoning it in. For the first time in months, I don’t know if I have a future in the place I’m trying to build one. I feel less adult than ever – constantly reminded of how behind I am in just about everything. I find myself wondering – am I capable of finding this kind of adult stability? Do I just not work hard enough at obtaining any of those things? Am I on a long road to mediocrity?

What makes me feel inadequate, in the end, is this game of comparison, these milestones I’ve set in place. I can't deny that it is my own brain that makes me feel inadequate, because it is so busy convincing me of everything I’m doing wrong. 

   Kathleen participated in Naomi's Dare on the Camino: Free foot massages for pilgrim's  - a happy outcome all round.


Kathleen participated in Naomi's Dare on the Camino: Free foot massages for pilgrim's  - a happy outcome all round.

Final truth courtesy of Phil beadle. Happy?

Abraham Lincoln said, " Most people are as happy as they choose to be."

I say, "Happiness is ephemeral, you can't attain happiness, you can just notice it when it happens."
Here is a day of noticing my happiness.

9:00am Eating breakfast - happy
9:30am Checking travel bookings - flat line
10:00am Walking in the cold and rain down to Hitchin town - very happy, loving the weather
10:30am Getting hair done, pleasantly distracted, then bored
11.30am Walking back from town in wind and rain - very happy
12 - 2pm Watching Tony do travel bookings - OK
2:30pm Arguing about style of accommodation - angry
3:00pm Back down the town in wind and rain for a walk with Tony (abandoning bookings) - very happy
4:00pm Tea and cake at adorable tea shop and gallery in Hitchin with Tony - very happy
5:00pm Walking up Windmill Hill, turning around to see spectacular sunset - extremely happy
6:00pm Dinner with family - happy
7:30pm Calling cousin to cancel plans to meet, plans remade - conflicted and feeling my run instinct kicking in - not happy
8:00pm Dancing at the village hall - shy, conflicted, run instinct on high alert - not happy
9:00pm Sitting with Tony at dancing - settling in and starting to relax, resisting my run instinct, happiness increasing
10:00pm Dancing the Mayfair Quick step with Tony to a tune from River Dance, wondering why everyone else was out of step and laughing ( a little like a crazy woman) for the whole dance - very, very happy
10:00pm - midnight Drinking at The Plume of Feathers pub in Ickleford village - happy
Midnight Bed - happy 

Finishing the camino in Santiago de Compostela - looking very happy ( back row of this photo) and I was in that moment indeed happy, but I was also conflicted about transitioning out of pilgrim mode back into normal life. The beauty of the camino is the simplicity of the aim, the easy and always available camaraderie, the exposure and immersion in nature, the opportunity to spend six - eight (or more) hours a day under the sky, following the contours of the land moving through the landscape at a very human pace. A calmness descends on you knowing that, it is all a privilege, a gift if you will. Knowing that it is a movable feast and that it too will finish is also important because it makes you take advantage of what is offered, it also allows you to walk away from anyone and anything that you don't like, except yourself. The one constant and inescapable truth - you take yourself with you wherever you go - my best advice about that one is to make friends with yourself, forgive your transgressions and in being generous about your own failings learn to be generous and forgiving to others. Open yourself to life, living it as a participant, be gracious in your attitude to what life offers, not distant and judgemental, which is a 'safe' and cowardly position. My take home lessons from the camino: be brave; be kind; be open to what life offers; be thankful and give praise for the bounty of the world and being given a life to live; it really is a gift. 

Flirt with the most attractive person in the room. Dare courtesy of Phil Beadle

After eight weeks on the road (six walking the camino de Santiago solo), I can confidently say, my husband is the most attractive person in the room, last night we went dancing, of which there is no photographic evidence, but I offer this photo of Tony in The Anchor on the River Cam, as proof of his gorgeousness. 

Contact:  Shirley.dandelionprojects@gmailcom