How an Afternoon of Happiness Moved Aisling on From a Place of Being Stuck in Her Thinking to a Place Where Inspired Thoughts Came Flooding Through

And the Words Flowed Onto the Page – An Important Happening as Aisling Is a Writer

Learn Through Stories
Learn Through Stories

Aisling had locked herself away from the world – she had to, she had a book to finish and a deadline to finish writing it.

Staring at the empty page on her screen, she just couldn’t find the story idea she needed for the chapter on Happiness. You see, as a writer and a WorkLife Learning Practitioner, Aisling creates resources to help people manage their own learning and their wellbeing – stories, case studies, books, e-learning programmes, tips, techniques and tactics. She writes stories based on real-life situations of people’s struggles and successes in their WorkLife. She shares the exercises that helped them navigate through these situations, which she presents as assignments for people to adopt and adapt to their situation. 

But today, Aisling was stuck. The idea she needed to tell a story about a struggle with happiness just wasn’t coming to her. And without the idea, the words she needed to fill the page weren’t about to flow anytime soon. 

And so, Aisling continued to stare at the blank screen of her laptop. 

In locking herself away from the world, she had turned off all possible distractions – email and social media alerts. Her phone was on silent and strategically placed away from her – so she wouldn’t be interrupted by calls, texts or messages. 

Another hour or so, staring at a blank screen, as she glanced at the clock on her laptop for the umpteenth time, it signalled it was time for yet another cup of coffee. Copious cups of coffee was the only interruption Aisling was allowing herself until she had this chapter put to bed.

It was as she made her cup of coffee that out of the corner of her eye, she saw her phone (which she had banished to the kitchen, so it would be out of sight) light up. On seeing it was her grandson, Mike, calling, she immediately answered it – Mike wasn’t big on making phone calls, so Aisling figured it must be something important.

And it was. The latest Superheroes film had hit the screens, and Mike wondered if Aisling would take him and his brothers, Andy and Alex, to see it. Going to the cinema together was their thing, and Superhero films were their BIG thing. 

Aisling immediately said YES. Actually, she had never said no to her grandsons. They weren’t boys who ever asked for much, and so when they did ask, Aisling was always quick to say yes. And, anyway, always saying yes to grandchildren is a grandmother’s prerogative. 

From a young age, Mike had always been an excellent organiser and planner, and now aged fifteen, he had taken all of the necessary details into consideration in choosing the best time to see the film. He was allowing for the time Aisling needed to get to their house to pick them up and then make their way to the cinema together. While also allowing that it couldn’t be too late because his younger brother Alex, who was aged just five (or five and a half, as Alex was always quick to point out), got sleepy towards the evening. 

Mike suggested the 1 pm screening, which gave them two hours – knowing Aisling liked to walk to their house, Mike had considered her journey time of one hour, along with the twenty-minute walk from their home to the cinema, as well as time for Aisling to catch up with his parents briefly, and his baby brother Janis, time to pick up the popcorn and drinks at the cinema, and to get good seats (it was a free-seating cinema, so it was important to arrive early to get the best seats) – including one of the soft cushion bumper seats for Alex – they were always quick to go, and once gone, Alex was left with one of the harder seats – not ideal for a long time sitting, for a boy aged five and a half.

Knowing how much thought Mike had put into choosing the best time for the film to meet everyone’s needs caused Aisling to smile to herself. He had always been a caring boy, which was just one of his beautiful attributes that made Aisling immensely proud of him.

On hanging up the phone, Aisling immediately booked their tickets. It was only then she realised that in her joy of speaking to Mike, she had forgotten about her intention to lock herself away from the world until she had the chapter finished. Had it been anyone else, she would have called back and asked to rearrange – but it was time with her grandchildren – that wasn’t something she wanted to rearrange. And so, she showered and dressed (she had been working in her PJ’s), donned her trainers and hit the road walking, to pick the boys up.

On arrival at their home, Aisling stopped briefly to catch up with new parents Diego and Marite and baby Janis, who was just a few months old. 

Then with the boys, she hit the road walking to the cinema. The boys had long since stopped asking, “why can’t we get the bus?”. And so Aisling had long since stopped responding, “because the exercise is good for us.” That was true, but really it was more that Aisling loved their time walking together. Because on the way there, it gave her a chance to catch up with everything that was going on in their lives, and on the way back, she loved listening to their take on the film. Aisling learnt so much through her grandsons and their thinking at their different stages of life – Mike at fifteen, Andy at ten, and Alex at five.


It was after 5 pm when Aisling got back home, having left shortly after 11 am. That was six hours away from her laptop. Six hours away from her blank screen. Sx hours of breaking her own enforced time away from everybody and everything.

As she picked up her laptop, she was prepared to pull an all-nighter if needed to get the chapter done and dusted. But to her surprise, the words started to flow – she had found the idea she needed for her story about happiness – the title came immediately: How an Afternoon of Happiness Moved Aisling on From a Place of Being Stuck in Her Thinking to a Place Where Inspired Thoughts Came Flooding Through. As did the subtitle, And the Words Flowed Onto the Page – An Important Happening as Aisling Is a Writer (When writing stories about her own experiences, Aisling writes in the third person).

Aisling shared how from the moment Mike’s call had lit up her phone. It had also lit up her happiness. She shared how their big smiles and even bigger hugs the moment they saw her added to her happiness. She shared how listening to their chat on their walk to the cinema, as they shared what was going on at school and with their friends, and listening to their thoughts on the film on their walk back home, along with their comfortable silence as they watched the film together, instilled her happiness even more. As did catching up with Diego and Marite and hugging baby Janis. And the walking too, with the boys, and also her walk alone, that made her happy too. 

And with that happiness came the inspiration for the chapter she had been struggling to write. She had been looking for a real-life story, now she had found it. By locking herself away from the world, she had locked herself away from her own happiness. Mike’s call was the key to opening that locked door, and once opened, it had allowed her to walk into her own story of happiness. 

Bring Happiness and Inspiration Into Your WorkLife Assignment 

Often when you’re at a place where your feeling stuck, whether in your thinking or in your happiness, the key to opening yourself up to what you need is to step into your own story – literally by walking – alone with your thoughts or with people who you care about and who care about you.

So, instead of locking yourself away, open your door to whatever it is that brings happiness into your WorkLife, and when you do, you’ll find inspiring thoughts will come flooding through too.

Words of Wisdom

It’s the simple things that bring happiness – spending time with people who light up your life bring about not only instant happiness but also happy memories that you can tap into when you need that shining light of happiness to brighten up your day. 

If you found this post helpful, you may also like to take a look at The School Of WorkLife books, which are designed to help you fine-tune your learning, development and growth in the areas that are most important to you.


Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.