Paradoxically, the third step is both humbling and empowering. What will become of me when I surrender? When I surrender I become me.
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We surrendered to the mystery of life and love?

This month we take a closer look at Step 3: "We surrendered to the mystery of life & love (God)", or, in the old language, "We surrendered to the healing power of God". In so doing, we remind everyone that GROW is non-denominational and is open to people of any beliefs and none. We also recall that when GROW was founded by Con Keogh (who happened to be a priest) and others in 1957, it "grew" out of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) movement, which has a spiritual dimension to it. Dory, from Australia, has kindly allowed us to reproduce her piece on this subject.
Have you heard this one? What gets bigger the more you take away from it? Answer – a hole. This classic children’s riddle relies on paradox to make its point. There are many paradoxes on the road of growth. One of the greatest is the paradox of finding our true selves through the act of surrendering. It is the experience of many GROWers that the true self becomes more evident the more we dig away at our false values.

Step 3 of our Program involves surrendering to the healing power of God. How we kick and scream in resistance to the notion of surrendering control! We believe that in such an act lies betrayal of ourself, our individuality, our person, of all that we are (as if we have come to GROW on the basis of being utterly content with “all that we are”!). Will we not become shells of ourself? “Nothing” people? Besides, who knows what God is? Who or what are we surrendering to? Or “I don’t even believe in God”..... Read full article

The GROW in Ireland Newsletter Team

Mental Health News & Updates

Irish Mountaineer to climb Everest

This May Irish Mountaineer Derek Mahon will climb the world’s tallest mountain to raise awareness for mental health.  Derek, a senior manager at Danske Bank, is a seasoned climber and climbing the world’s tallest mountain will be dream becoming reality.

Although he is currently in the midst of a gruelling physical training programme, Derek knows that in order to summit Everest, he will need to draw on immense mental strength. It is for this reason that he is partnering with the mental health organisation GROW and will be using his Everest climb to raise awareness of the importance of supporting good mental health. Read full article...

Thank You - Mount Juliet

GROW was delighted to win the new Toyota Yaris at the recent Run Mount Juliet event and we are very grateful to all those at Mount Juliet Estate, and to all those around the country who voted on-line, who made this possible. Read full article...


Local swim club raises funds for GROW in the North West Region

Doe Amateur Swimming Club in Dunfanaghy announced that all proceeds from its 2014 Annual New Year’s Day Swim will be donated to GROW in the North West. GROW North West Area Co-ordinator, Maria Whelan said “the organisation is extremely grateful that the Doe Amateur Swimming Club has selected GROW as the recipients of proceeds from its 2014 New Year’s Day Swim. We are delighted and very much appreciate that the Doe Amateur Swimming Club has chosen us as their beneficiary this year.  It is an opportunity to raise much needed funds for the organisation and, most importantly, it will raise awareness of GROW in the area and let people know that we are here to help if they are experiencing mental health difficulties”
Josephine Keaveney, representing GROW in the North West, attended the presentation in Lizzie’s Dinner, Dunfanaghy on 3rd February 2014 and received a cheque in the sum of €3,182.20.  We would like to thank the committee, and in particular the club members and GROW volunteers who gave their time and support so generously at the recent swim. 

The lowest ebb is the turning of the tide.


Raising public awareness is a key element in the prevention of mental health problems. Early intervention is vital. This is especially the case when it applies to young adults. It was with this in mind that GROW recently participated in NUIG's annual Health Fair held in February.

With over 17,000 students, NUI Galway is like a city within a city. The variety of information stands on the day testified to this. Organisations promoting Medical health, physical health, sexual health and overall wellness were represented. Students received information from organisations ranging from Galway Rape Crisis Centre & AIDS West, to Thai Chi & Knitting and Crochet. There were even free back massages available. There was also a good attendance from groups representing mental health promotion. GROW was joined by Aware, See-Change, Pieta House, Samaritans and the Student Counselling Services. GROW got the opportunity to inform students about our young adult group in Galway city, which has had many NUIG students as members over the years.

Overall is was a great day, which helped raise awareness, reduce stigma and promote the many free services available to students. In particular it was a great way of normalising the issue of mental health. A big thank must go to Cindy and Ailish from NUIG Student Services for inviting GROW to participate in the NUIG Health Fair.

Mind Ur Health in Limerick

On Sunday 23rd Feb, Anna Gibson-Steel from the Holistic Centre of Excellence in Co. Limerick, hosted a novel Mind Ur Health event in Clohessy’s, Limerick City. GROW had a stand at this event, along with a number of other organisations (Mental Health Ireland, Pieta House, Samaritans, NOSP/HSE) and a number of holistic therapists and experts in the field of nutrition and exercise. During the day there were also a series of short talks on subjects ranging from panic attacks and suicide to holistic treatments for depression. Over 300 people attended the event, which was excellent value @ €5. Proceeds were donated to Limerick Marine Search & Rescue Services who do great work in the city.

The intimate nature of the venue, aided by many wonderful aromas, created a relaxed atmosphere where many free and open discussions were had. The GROW stand was staffed throughout the day by volunteers, members of the regional team, GROWers and staff, all of whom reported plenty of activity and interest. It also provided a networking opportunity for those organisations and people involved in providing mental health services in the region. We sincerely thank Anna and her team and hope that she is in a position to organise a similar event next year. Interestingly she said that the event worked because there was a mixture of exhibitors, so people would be more inclined to attend than if it had been purely a Mental Health event.

Supports and Developments in Mental Health Care

On 31st January and 1st February 2014 a conference on "Supports and Developments in Mental Health Care" was held at the Park Hotel, Dungarvan. Organised by Councillor Liam Brazil and backed by Waterford County Council, the conference provided expert advice and information on many issues concerning mental health and suicide to help alleviate stigma and to raise awareness of the wide-ranging services and help available. Cllr Brazil said “People need to know that they are not alone”.

High-profile speakers from a number of local and national organisations participated.  The opening speaker on Friday evening, as introduced by Cllr Brazil, was Sr Gertrude Howley, our South Eastern Regional Chairperson. Read full article... or Read Gert's talk in full...

St Patrick's Day Parade

GROW in the South East will join in with the parade in Dungarvan in a combined Mental Health float, lead by Cllr Liam Brazil. This is a great bit of PR for GROW in the region and something which other regions might be encouraged to follow next year?

Karaoke Night

Karen Whelan is organising a Karaoke Night in aid of GROW in Dillon's Bar, Dungarvan, on Sat 5th April. Tickets €5.

Soul Survivors 3 Launches

There was plenty of hectic activity during February with the first book launch of Soul Survivors 3 in Stone House Books, Kilkenny. In the lead up, Mike Watts was interviewed by John Murray on RTE radio and also, with Nell, on the Sue Nunn Show on KCLR 96FM. Mike, Nell and John Rice also did an interview with Sam Matthews of the Kilkenny People. On the evening of 20th Feb, about 50 people turned up in Stone House Books for the launch and there was a great atmosphere with plenty of chat, music & story telling. Guest speakers on the night included Dr Fergus Heffernan & Dr Ronan Fawsitt and they spoke positively about the GROW Program and about the positive effects of “telling your story”. A special word of thanks to Liz Walsh from Stone House Books.

The next launch takes place in Galway in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop on Thursday 20th March at 6pm. The book will be launched by well known local poet & playwright Rita-Ann Higgins.The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided. For more details contact Paul on 087-4187714.

The book is available at GROW offices nationwide, or by post, for €7.99 (or €5 to GROW members). There is also a special offer of 3 GROW publications for €20 (incl post within Ireland): Soul Survivors 2 & 3 and GROWing ot Maturity (Ann Waters).

Staff Movements

During February, the long serving South East Administrator, Eileen Watson, retired and there was a St Valentine's Day retirement party in her honour at which Mike Watts shared some stories highlighting some of Eileen's achievements in her 25+ years of service to GROW in Ireland. Thank you Eileen for all you have given the organisation and though losing her as a member of staff, GROW in the South East is gaining a new energetic volunteer.

Three new staff members have been recruited recently and we wish them well on what we hope will be a long and fruitful journey within the GROW organisation: Martina Collins O’Reilly takes over Eileen's role as South East Administrator; Marian Maguire (Northwestern Region) and Shauna Jackson (Western Region) join GROW as Area Co-ordinators.

Credit Union - Thank You

On 11th February, Chairperson of GROW, Denis Fitzpatrick, gratefully accepted a cheque for €2,000, on behalf of GROW, from the Credit Union Organisation.

HSE Consultation Meetings

Paddy McGowan, interim Head of Service User, Family Member and Carer Engagement on the HSE National Mental Health Management Team will continue his series of National 'Listening' Meetings during March.  The aim of these meetings is to hear the Views of Service Users, Family Members and Carers or people who have an interest in Mental Health Services about how Mental Health services should be delivered in the future.

Please see HSE website for full details for remainder of March.The following meetings for 1st week in March are confirmed: -
  • Mon 3rd, 2pm, Templegate Hotel, Ennis.
  • Mon 3rd, 7:30pm, Clarion Hotel, Limerick.
  • Tues 4th, 2pm, Connaught Hotel, Galway.
  • Tues 4th, 7:30pm, Clifden Station House Hotel, Connemara.
  • Wed 5th, 2pm, Abbey Hotel, Roscommon.
  • Thurs 6th, 2pm, Harlequin Hotel, Castlebar.
  • Thurs 6th, 7:30pm, Best Western Hotel, Ballina, Co. Mayo.

Writer's Corner - Overcoming Perfectionism

The GROW Kilkenny Writer's group was discussing how damaging perfectionism can be. Amy gave the example of how as a child she dreaded relatives from abroad coming to visit her home. The week before the visit her mother would be slaving away trying to make the house ‘look’ perfect, and nagging the children for undermining her efforts: ‘Look what a mess you’ve made’. It seemed that making a ‘good impression’ was more important than enjoying their company. The build-up to the visit created a house full of tension. When finally the visitors did arrive her mother was too exhausted to enjoy their company – creating yet more tension.
Read the full article...

Poet's Corner - Suicide

JL wrote this poem about Suicide a long time ago, when life was rotten.

Appeals to stop
Sarcasm to hear
Shouts to prevent
Fights to change.

No plans
Can suicide be planned?
Fierce fear.

Read the full poem...

Community Education / Gatekeeper Update

A very successful 4 week Community Education course (Understanding and Minding your Mental Health with GROW) was rolled out by Mary Purcell and the Midwestern Region in Templemore during January and February. Around 40 people attended each night and entertainer Jon Kenny spoke at the opening night. The outcome of this course is that GROW hopes to soon re-start the Templemore GROW group. Similar courses are currently underway in Ballynacargy (Co. Westmeath) & Fenagh (Co. Leitrim) and there is a 10 week Young Adult course in progress in Gorey.

Kathy Sinnott kicks off the Southern Region course which commences on 4th March at 7:30pm at the Silver Springs Hotel, Convention Centre, Cork. Bookings are also currently being taken for a Gatekeeper course in Ballylynan, Co. Laois, commencing March 25th 7:30-9:30pm for 5 Tuesdays. Contact John on 086-8033126.

Note that all these community education courses are free, thanks to GROW's funding from the HSE, but booking is essential. Details of current and future courses can be found on the GROW website.

Sample New Wisdoms?

  • If you stick in your comfort zone, it will become your misery zone.
  • GROW: caring, sharing and sometimes daring.
  • Leadership is not about being the brightest star, it’s about enabling others to shine.

In the Kingdom of Love, there is no competition

From Anam Cara, by John O’Donoghue
Prayer is the act and presence of sending this light from the bountifulness of your love to other people to heal, free and bless them.  When there is love in your live, you should share it spiritually with those who are pushed to the very edge of life.  There is a lovely idea in the Celtic tradition that if you send out goodness from your self, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times.  In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control.  The more love you give away, the more love you will have.  One remembers here Dante’s notion that the secret rhythm of the universe is the rhythm of love which moves the stars and the planets.

A Friendship Blessing

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to your self.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where there is great love, warmth, feeling and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them; may they bring you all the blessings, challenges, truth and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated; but may you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam cara.



The Last Word

We hope you enjoy reading the GROW in Ireland newsletter. Please feel free to reply with comments and suggestions. The deadline for submissions for the next April newsletter is Friday 28th March. If there are people within the GROW community in Ireland who wish to get involved on a monthly basis, please contact us: Many hands make light work!

During the month, we received some nice feedback from a reader: Thank you so much for sending me the February newsletter.  I am at a loss here as I am now living abroad - GROW has been my inspiration to help control my illness for years when I lived in Ireland...I try to follow the programme but it's not the same without a group meeting. GROW looks forward to the day when no matter where you are in the world, there will be a GROW group within easy reach.

Thank you for reading. Until next time, Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit.
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