Life Lessons on the Importance of Slow

26749-4Busy as a Bee

I come from a long line of busy people; both my parents worked extremely hard to provide for our family. The first forty years of my life embraced their hard work ethic, but after my father’s untimely death in 1995, I took the decision to leave my busy natural medicines practise behind and move to the home of my ancestors in Donegal, Ireland.

I have never regretted this decision.

Slowing Down

The slower pace of life suited me well, and I built up a small but successful healing and teaching business over a period of four years. One of my long held dreams was to travel to India, and it became a reality in early 2003, when I spent six weeks on a spiritual pilgrimage.

Sadly, five months later I developed a series of frightening symptoms in the aftermath of a raging bog fire which had circled my home. Fire is often viewed as a cleanser that paves the way for new growth…

Stopping the World

The first sign of imbalance was an ache in the upper part of my left arm. Several days later this developed into severe shortness of breath, accompanied by pressure on my chest. Further symptoms were soon added to the list:

  • Swollen lymph glands in my left armpit
  • Inability to lift my left arm above 90 degrees
  • Swelling in the middle fingers of my left arm
  • Multiple joint pains like hot knives
  • Difficulty in keeping warm
  • Aching over my left shoulder
  • Aching eyes and whites that turned bluish grey
  • Insomnia…

All investigations proved negative, bar lung function tests which showed my left lung was not inflating properly, and my lungs were working at 70% capacity.

I was unable to work for more than a year, and I had to face one of my deepest fears – lack of financial resources. It was incredibly tough having to rely on benefits but I had no choice.


Facing these fears brought a remarkable change on my outlook on LIFE.

Instead of spending my days inspiring others on their self healing journey, I had to focus on my own inner healing.

Thus I finally learned to SLOW DOWN.

One night I had a dream of rebuilding a house with new stronger foundations, and I felt reassured that I was making good progress.

I found that keeping a gratitude diary helped me enormously.

Small steps in my healing progress were included, as well as simple JOYS that filled my day:

  • ENJOYING NATURE – one highlight was watching the birth of a neighbour’s calf
  • CREATIVITY – joining a local singing class and a creative writing class

My natural medicines toolbox helped me enormously as I tweaked my diet, benefited from treatments of both reflexology and massage, practised daily meditation and visualisation…

Life in the Slow Lane

In April 2006, I moved to a new home that had once belonged to a keen gardener. I had always enjoyed gardening and felt the spirit of the previous owner inspiring me to travel in a new direction.

A few weeks later, I inquired about retraining in organic horticulture a short distance way.

Fast forward to June 2006, and I was working and studying part time, earning a wage and forging a new career that eventually led to my teaching in schools and inspiring children to create organic wildlife gardens.

However, the most important INSIGHT I learned on my self healing journey was:

“First, learn to love thyself.”

Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from debilitating illness.


  1. I used to run business networking groups and one of the life-long friends I made from that time told this story …. she was always called ‘Tam with a Plan’ from an early age. And she mapped out her life ahead from the time she left school. By the time she was in her 20s she had a highly paid job in the City, a fast car and a flat. She worked all hours, she was always in the office late into the night and back again early in the morning. Her relationship didn’t survive but she felt that her career was all that she needed. One day she was hoovering her flat (a fabulous penthouse in a very smart part of London, by the way) and her back simply collapsed. She crawled to the phone and rang her mum who said ‘NOW will you listen’ by which she meant not to her but to her body and to the Universe. Tam sold her flat and her car, she gave up her job and she went to Australia where she spent many months sitting and healing inside and out. She retrained as a therapist and eventually she came back to Britain. She is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met and she absolutely embodies your question at the end of this equally inspiring piece of writing. Slow down is the greatest of messages. Sometimes the Universe needs to take a blunt instrument to us to make us listen. If we hear her then we can heal and grow. Slowly!

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  2. Yes. I was a career gal! Director Warden of a work release, top of my field at age 30. Then passenger in a car accident. I struggled with pain and work for three more years until I was medically released. Permanently. I have fibromyalgia + (Plus a lot of stuff!) I’m 20 years into this disease but have become an advocate for fibromyalgia awareness, a support group page administrator, a blogger and have coauthored my first book due out next month on Amazon. The Shadow Boxers. So I guess, if we learn to see the beauty in each day we are alive, learning to grow and not stay stagnant we will become a person who lives a purposeful life. I enjoyed reading about your journey and will reblog. Thank you for sharing! ~Kim

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      • Thank you for sharing this with us. We often discuss this point of how the world wants us to believe we are to be on the go all the time and how we are to determine our self worth. We have learned the contrary. Isn’t it something how it takes us years to undo what was poured into us.

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  3. thank you for sharing Brigid, to know the journey you had to travel on to get to where you are now and comfortable with what you have achieved is amazing and so inspiring! I am not sure I could have been so strong and resilient. your quote learning to love yourself first resonates with me, I always put everyone else first but that has changed recently, I finally realised I would be a better person to others when I was first good to myself. So that was a life changing moment and I worked hard to be good and kind to me. your words show a very strong determination never to let situations get the better of you. you rise above it each time and become stronger than before. I really enjoyed reading the sharing of your heart. And proud to know someone like you.

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  4. I, too, was an overworker, overachiever for much of my life. Upon reflection, part of the reason was striving for approval from a family that never gave it; the other reason was because I am part German, and a Capricorn! We don’t know how to stop. Well…stop I did, three years ago when I developed fourth stage metastasized cancer within a week of my retirement from teaching. I survived and, yes, my life has changed a lot. My new mantra is to try to do only those things which bring me pleasure. Period. Whenever a challenge comes up, I ask myself whether this or that will make me happy. If not, I don’t do it. Of course I still continue to do the daily tasks of cleaning, cooking, caring for myself and my family, but those things are still a pleasure for me. My new approach includes more immersion in writing my blog on Two Writing Teachers, writing poetry and attending poetry readings, participating in a Great Books discussion group monthly, some involvement in local political action groups, a Gentle Yoga class, and lots of tiny occasions that include lunches and walks with good friends. I think I am finally finding peace and it only took me 70 years to do so! Thanks for your inspiring post today.

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  5. Totally inspiring Brigid 🙂 As you know I had ME which stopped me in my tracks. From a busy life, burning the candle at both ends, it gave me the lesson, like yourself, to look after myself. Part of that self care was studying naturopathy, nutrition and flower essences, and for ten years I have been trying to empower others to do the same. Thankfully my health is excellent now, but that’s because I practise daily self-care, and balance my life so much better, Lots of me-time to recharge and reflect !! I’m now studying Bush Flowers more in depth and reading your story about the bog fire, brought to mind Mulla Mulla. I wonder if you have come across this. Thank you for sharing your story. 🙂 x

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    • Thank you Judith. Illness is such a great teacher. I am so glad for my lessons. I used to use the Bush Essences but I gave them to sister after I retired from therapies. I used them a lot. I am not sure if I used Mulla Mulla after the fire. I did buy the Abundance combination essence a few months back and I have found it really helpful. There are so many wonderful flower essences out there. I used Arthur Baileys essences too and the Native American animal essences plus a few others.

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  6. It is amazing how something so physical like a fire can produce a long term effect on health directly though the impact on our emotional state and stress levels. I wonder how much else we think we shrug off on a day to day basis that comes back to haunt us in a way we never even associate with the true cause. It is great advice about Slowing down because only be getting off the treadmill and taking stock and time to re-balance ourselves can we actually make space to face the demons we have buried because we never have time to examine them. Brilliant article.

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    • Bless you Paul. I think the fire put my nervous sysyem into overdrive. Major stresses seem to precipitate fibromyalgia and a lot of other illnesses. How are you doing ? And how is your garden. We have had rather a wet June. May was so nice..

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  7. Dear Brigid, I am doing great thank you. I will send you some photos of the garden… As you say May was glorious but June… well June! Your post left me much more cognizant of how much life rips through us and made me aware that the time spent pottering in the garden or sitting on my bum doing nothing.. is not something to feel guilty about… it is in fact letting life heal me by giving myself time for the accumulate toxins of day to day stress to leak out. If I am wrong please don’t disabuse me of the notion…I quite like sitting on my bum! And it’s nice to feel I’m doing me some good doing it!

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  8. Thank you for sharing your experience – so many can gain by it. I believe in the value of slow thinking, slow BEING and slowing down the minutes so we can stay healthy and happy. I surely try to do this every day.

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  9. Brigid– thank you so much for your open honest post– You’ve learned so much from all you’ve gone through… And I really agree about doing a gratitude journal– I keep a little journal when I read my Bible in the morning and always start with reasons to be thankful– it sets my heart in the right direction. Love you blog-friend. xox

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  10. Hello Brigid,
    All I can add to your wonderful post is… I’m so happy I read your book. It is utterly enjoyable and very eye-opening, while being nourishing at the same time.
    Wishing you well,
    Di 💐💕

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Hi Bridget, I am so sorry to hear about your terrible experience and the resultant illness you experienced. I myself have always been a strong and healthy person. My children, however, have been a very different story. My son, Gregory, was born in 2003 and he had a condition that resulted in 18 operations due to unforeseen problems and another very unusual condition. My son, Michael was born in 2006 and nearly did a cot death at 3 weeks. He suffers from brittle asthma and a chronic sinus condition. I have spent so much time in hospitals over the past 14 years I find it hard to even feel anxious anymore. It is almost as if I am worn out from the anxiety and so I just wait it out and “ride the wave” so to speak. Thanks for sharing this lovely post.

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  12. I love how you generously share your life lessons with the world Brigid. I’m naturally a Type A “go go GO!” person who needs continual reminders to “be still; go slow”. Your writing is good for my health. Thank you! 💛💫

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  13. Wonderful advice, Brigid. I’ve always noticed the odd paradigm that when we slow down, time slows down. It seems like it should work the other way around – the faster we go, the more we get done and the more time we have for other pursuits. But it’s just not so. Have a wonderful slow weekend of slow time. 🙂

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  14. So inspirational! Amazing, what a health concern forced change, can bring light and awareness of strength within. Go you! Proof that being grateful for what we have can create a door to open, where once there was a wall. I am honored and humbled. Hugs ❤️ 🌷 K

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  15. Brigid! Having shared your experiences shall no doubt be of help to many which is already in process.
    Yes. I can feel, imagine and have experienced what you have said. Oh My God how it disturbs the mind and it gets carried over by the pains. Thereby affects the other body parts.
    What you have arrived at slowing down is the Best Ever medicine one should adopt. After-all what the hell we are going to achieve being so super fast, again the same pains will result in to long chronic diseases and shower the hard earned money being super fast. Hahaha


  16. I truly believe you’re frame of mind is what lets people deal with what is dealt to them. I had a medical problem back in 1996 and I stayed completely positive. People would comment on how upbeat I was and they couldn’t believe it. So sorry you went through this! Life is so short, sit back and enjoy as much as you can!

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  17. Thank you for sharing your lovely words once again, I’m in the middle of many things and your healing suggestions are calling to me…I’m so blessed to have read this post, I’m looking forward to taking a walk by the ocean with your words in my mind…to take it slow and just breathe.

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  18. Brigid, I very much enjoyed reading your book. Here is what I commented on Amazon, should anyone be interested:

    A wonderful memoir on the importance of simply enjoying life. I enjoyed reading Brigid’s thoughts on her family, her struggles, and the “whys” of accepting a slower life. Each chapter shares tiny quotes that are listed as insights from the chapter, and I very much enjoyed reading these as well. I, also, found it fascinating that Brigid traveled abroad alone, but then again, she was never really alone as she connected with others throughout her travel. The lesson on slow is not about simply watching life go by, but is really an example of how to connect and enjoy one’s life. A valuable lesson for all and enjoyable read.

    Thank you for sharing so much about your own life to help others, Brigid!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Oh Brigid, how I love the thought of slowing down to a pace such as you have. Although the need was forced on you, you managed to take the right steps for you and build a wonderful life that suits you. I sometimes feel trapped in my life and I am afraid to take the necessary steps to extricate myself. XX

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  20. Brigid, I also definitely can relate to everything you wrote. Remember the saying, “Stop to smell the flowers?” How we each need to do that more. It was when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that I took an even deeper look at my life and choices I had been making. I have always been a positive-thinking, meditative person, but I became even more so to allow my body, mind, and spirit to heal from this chronic disease. Cancer actually brought more meaning into my life and though I remain busy as an advocate, blogger, and author, I not only smell the flowers, I plant them. I invite you to visit my blog where I write about health/wellness, relationships, and spirituality. God bless you and thank you for sharing.

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  21. All too often we are forced to heal ourselves. The healer has to on themselves before healing others again. It is a time to grow stronger and refine our own health. It is a hard part of the journey at times but it is worth doing.


  22. Thanks for sharing this lovely and inspirational post. When I lost my Father in December 2015 it felt like my world had caved in. I began writing on a daily basis and haven’t stopped since. I knew I needed an outlet and this felt like the best way of getting my feelings out. So creativity and walks in nature are essential for me. I have a poetry blog here on WordPress and today’s post is about slowing down in case you have time to look? Wishing you a good day, Sam 🙂

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  23. This is a wonderful post. We run so fast in this race called life hoping that we will find happiness and content after crossing the finish line. What we do not realize is that the race never gets over, and even if you feel you have finished the so called race, you have reached the twilight of your life. You ran so fast hoping to find contentment at the end of it that you missed out on finding them when it was always around.

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  24. This really resonates with me. Through illness I was also forced to slow down from my previously busy lifestyle. At first I hated it! However, despite all the pain that can comes with illness (ME), I have learnt to really appreciate life so much more from slowing down. I find great peace and healing in nature. I notice things much more. I’m more creative than I thought I was! I find I “need” to meditate most days and enjoy it! I will check out your book! I love the name as I also love daisies! 😊

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  25. So Lovely to see you back Brigid and thank you so much for visiting my blog. Hope you are well, all ok here 🙏. Made me smile to read about witnessing the birth of your neighbour’s calf. My uncle r.I.p, neighbour n vet thought it ‘interesting’ that I chose to witness the birth of uncle’s calf when on holiday on uncles farm when doing my midwifery training. The cow was having difficulty delivering hence the vet. I asked ‘I would like to compare’. Uncle’s neighbour had difficulty containing his laughter whilst uncle n vet maintained eye contact. Happy days 😃

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