An Easy Guide to an Easy Mind

How do you cheer yourself up? Is there something you do that just helps to wash away the stresses of the day?

It was from a conversation around those questions that a young women’s group from Arklow put together a small journal called ‘An Easy Guide To An Easy Mind’.

 journal cover

During the year we worked with the girls group from The Vault youth centre in Arklow.  The result of that work was a 42 page well-being journal filled with ideas from the young people about things they do to relax, distress and generally cheer themselves up, and now we make it available for free download.

journal spotify

The journal doesn’t aim to tell young people ‘how to be happy’, but shares some of the groups favourite things to do, while leaving space for users of the journal to create their own lists or activities that fit with the different sections. Some of them are simple and easy to do, like a playlist of feel good songs or think about the simple pleasures that we do day to day, while other section help us to think about how to get a good night’s sleep.


The design of the book tries to bring a personal scrapbook type look to it. Hours were spent cutting out letters from magazines to create page headings, and old typewriter was found to try give it an old look. The girls worked with an artist who helped them with the design, but also by bringing to life the girl’s ideas for a little cartoon figure (called Alan) who would pop up from time to time (including to the cover) to offer some tips.  So if the journal isn’t always the most slick professional looking book of all time,  this is (mostly) done on purpose.



If you like mindfullness colouring books, then we have a drawing especially done for the journal by Deirdre Burke, a local artist from Arklow who worked with the girls.




We aim to distribute the book among all of the secondary schools in Co Wicklow, as well as Youthreach centres and youth centres in the county.  We currently have a very limited amount of hard copies available from YouthSpin office in either Bray or Arklow.


You can also download the journal from this page. We would encourage you to share the journal, or links to this page if you think it might be of use to people.

Try our Spotify Playlist of feel good music

Click HERE to download An East Guide to an Easy Mind


Why you should join your local library

A library is like having the internet in a building. If you can imagine it, chances are someone has written about it. And in the same way that clicking a link brings something new, each shelf or room in a library offers more and more new discoveries for the curious mind.

If you think a library is a dusty old building full of old people telling you to shush, where all you can do is get a book…then think again.


I was going to a flowery, romantic piece about how brilliant libraries are, how they open portals to other worlds found only in books, are a playground for the imagination, and can take you to places you might never visit. But, while all of that might be true, the reality is the Library Service speaks for itself on a much more practical level.


Yep – That’s MY library card 🙂

What my library card does

A good library service really is one of the best things our County Council provides for us.

Think about it for a minute.


That’s just the stuff you take away from the library!

Stay in the library and –

  • You get free wi-fi,  and use of computers
  • There is study space if you are a student – quiet space for homework
  • You can sign up for, and take, e-learning classes (Not available in all of Wicklow’s libraries)
  • You can sit and read a magazine or newspaper freely available for all
  • There are places to find out about your local, and sometimes, family history
  • All libraries tend to have story time events for little ones, so a great place for both parents and children to meet with friends
  • There are book clubs for adult, teens and junior readers
  • There are different holiday activities including arts & crafts or different workshops (check your local library for dates of different events)
  • Blessington Library for example, hosts a lego club, autism support and citizens advice among its services.
  • It is also a great place to find out about local services on the various posters and flyers on the notice boards
  • You get REALLY friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff


And you know the jokes about FINES?  If you are late, they only charge 5 cent per day. So if you were a week late it would be 7days x5cent =35cent.  That is a fair deal by any standard.



Image Source: Otis College of Art & Design Library – Found at


Where can I join?

We are well served for libraries in Wicklow.  There are ten around the county, and if you can’t get out to a library, or there is none near you, Wicklow has a mobile unit that travels to different locations right around the county.


A tiny bit of history

I got my love of reading from my dad. I fed that love through the library in Enniskerry.  Another reason I’m fond of that library in Enniskerry is because it’s a Carnegie library. One of three in Wicklow (Bray and Greystones are the other two).  I love that fact, because Carnegie libraries are names after Andrew Carnegie from Scotland who made his fortune in America, and one of the ways he shared his wealth was by building almost 3000 public libraries around the world.


A short flowery bit

If I was king of the world, I’d give everyone a library card. Of course, it would be a little unnecessary because, everyone can already get a library card for free, or at least they can in Co Wicklow.

Libraries are for everyone. They don’t discriminate.  Whether you are a millionaire who could buy their own library, or a poor family that can’t afford to buy a single book, your library card entitles you to the same service, the same welcome and the same experience.

Books broaden our horizons. They are the gateways to possibility and potential. So libraries are like a great bunch of keys to a humongous number of gateways…yeah, too much!!


Join your local library. You’ll never regret it.


This novel might save a life one day

Could a novel, aimed at teenagers, actually save a life? ‘Asking For It’ by Louise O’Neill might be one that could.

asking for it

Am I exaggerating? Am I guilty of a post heading that is basically clickbait? I don’t think so.  Louise O’Neill’s first book ‘Only Ever Yours’ was dark but ‘Asking For It’, is stark, uncompromising, challenging and will leave you angry with one, some, or even all of the various characters.

I’ve written previously about young adult books that explore important issues and that I felt moved to recommend to as many people as I could. This is another one of those books. If you’re looking for light and fluffy reading material, Louise O’Neill is not the author for you.  If you want your attitudes challenged, if you want something that charges your emotions, then go track down her books.

In Asking For It, we meet Emma. She really isn’t that nice a person. She’s jealous of her friends, beautiful but vain, popular but horrible (even to her friends), generally she’s a bit of a mean girl. She lives in an Irish town that could be anywhere. She goes to a party, she gets drunk, she takes ‘something’, and while its all happening you are shouting in your head (or out loud) at the pages, warning her, berating her, hating the fellas, begging her friends to intercede. Its uncomfortable to read. You know what’s coming.

Thankfully this novel isn’t about the graphic horror of rape, but does explore what the author terms, ‘rape culture’. Its about culpability. Its about consent or its absence. It is about a lot of things, victim blaming, effects on family, shame, attitudes to drink and drugs, young men’s attitudes to women, young women’s attitudes to each other, slut-shaming, small town attitudes, social judgement, the impact of social media, how mainstream media, talk shows, radio phone-in shows cover similar incidences. Its about the speculation and discussion around ‘Whose fault it is!’  Its about sexual assault getting reported, or not getting reported and what happens or doesn’t happen as a result.

I suggested this book might save a life. How?  This story is all too real, all too possible. Young people reading it will recognise characters and situations AND their reactions and consequences. #SlaneGirl anyone?  My hope by recommending this book be read, is that it might make someone pause. They might recognise their own actions on the pages of this book. Hopefully that person will see their actions as either repulsive or risky and just think some more about how they are in that situation.

I don’t know the stats regarding rape and suicide in Ireland, but I’m guessing they don’t make great reading. This novel might save a life one day.

For further support:

Rape Crisis Network Ireland

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

Boldly going where young adult books rarely go

One of the things I like about young adult books is their willingness to explore serious and difficult issues in sensitive and interesting ways. So I was very excited to find two new books to recommend to the young people I work with.

all bright places art being normal

Two new young adult books crossed my path earlier this month. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. They deal with different issues, but both tackle difficult territory that probably don’t register on the average teen’s radar.

With Bray Youth Service having started a youth group for LGBT young people and their friends, the issues faced by young people growing up feeling they inhabit the wrong gender body are something we in the service are slowly learning about. The Art of Being Normal adds to our knowledge in a sensitive, sometimes entertaining, but occasionally heart wrenching way.

Depression is an all too common part of life for some young people, and bipolar disorder a condition that I guess is a confusing and misunderstood form of depression, particularly to anyone looking from the outside in. All The Bright Places has at its heart a love story, but the fact that when ‘boy meets girl’, it’s at the top of a bell tower where one or the other or both are considering jumping, drops a major hint that there might be more to this story than meets the eye.

These books are very different, but have some common themes. Loss, bereavement, identity, self discovery, families and the pressure to conform in school feature in both. But don’t think either book is full of doom and gloom. I won’t lie – there may be tears. A quick flick through twitter, particularly about All The Bright Places will discover tweet after tweet from distraught young people, but all of these people also love the book.

We blogged before about staying ahead of the crowd and reading books before they become films. All The Bright Places presents an opportunity to do just that. It has been pencilled in for development with Ellie Fanning in one of the lead roles. It’s being touted as the new Fault In Our Stars, and it should appeal to the same audience, but it is a very different story.

If you like reading, put both these books on your ‘to read’ list. They will cheer you up and horrify you in equal measure. I got my copies in Dubray bookshop in Bray, but I’m sure they can be easily found in most decent bookshops.

Extra info- If you would like to read more about Transgender issues or about bipolar disorder, below are two links to websites that work with young people.