It’s the Ordinary that Inspires me the Most – By Nicola O’Hanlon

I love what Oprah Winfrey said about telling our stories being the most powerful tool we have. Of course, she hasn’t been the first person to say this, but she is most definitely right. I’ve been hearing it for ten years from different camps during my long and sometimes treacherous crusade to recover my mental and emotional health.

It is through that crusade that I had the glorious opportunity to write and share, some, not all, of my story with the world. For many years now, I’ve been a writer and editor in the field of Mental Health and Addiction Recovery. I’ve also had the great fortune to connect with magical people from all over the world, who have overcome their own adversity and taught me how to overcome my own.

It’s been the greatest privilege of my life to now be able to offer support to other people on their own journeys, through online women’s groups I run and enabling them to share their own stories. These people are as ordinary as me and struggle as much as me.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t relate to most celebrity lifestyles. I certainly don’t get up in the morning bouncing with energy in a beautiful designer pyjamas. Most days I fall out of bed at 6am in my knickers and some t-shirt I pulled out of a drawer. After tripping over at least one of my seven animals that I’m not supposed to have in my rented house, I feed them and let them out for a wee; I might even have a wee myself if time permits. I wake my two children up for school and then scramble for my obligatory two cups of strong coffee to get my brain to function, still in my knickers and t-shirt. My head is full of what I want to write that day or what needs editing and generally what bills I can put off paying for another week or two. And did I mention I’m back in school fulltime myself? There’s school runs, dropping and picking up from gyms and drama classes, and answering emails while I’m waiting in line at the checkout.

So, you see, I’m as bog standard as they come and it’s this bog standardness that allows me to live peacefully and successfully. And that’s exactly what I can relate to in other people. I don’t want to be made feel like I’m a failure, unattractive and generally substandard because my living doesn’t align with mainstream medias “ideal” version. Hands up who hates Instagram?

All people inspire me in some way, even the ones that I can’t totally relate to. But the ones that really get my attention are those who get up every day, to their completely imperfect lives and do amazing things under seriously difficult circumstances. The people that are the very fabric of this world. The people that will support another person in the blink of an eye without judgement.

Some of the bravest people I know go completely unnoticed. Behind their seemingly unremarkable lives is a remarkable story, of passion, anguish, fear, joy, loss and everything in between. They are farmers, mothers, fathers, hairstylists, world champion athletes and furniture upscaling geniuses. Some of us wear bigger jeans than others, some of us are bicultural, some of us deal with long term health issues but each and everyone of us are absolutely brilliant in our own right.

Never underestimate your decision to follow your own rules and continue to grow and evolve despite the “disappointment” of those who feel they know better. These days the only thing I align with, is each person’s right to be who he or she is, however that looks for them.

I will always be interested in your story, where you have come from in your life, and where you are going now. These are the things that are at the forefront of my mind every time I meet a new person. What is your story and what do you do everyday to make the world a better place?

Nicola O'Hanlon

About Nicola O'Hanlon

Meet our Editor-In-Chief, Nicola O'Hanlon. She created this website, along with the help of the InTheRooms team in September 2015. Her work has been published in several recovery magazines, including Recovery Today, In Recovery Magazine,, Psychology Today and Reach Out Recovery to name but a few. She has also had her work published in two Feminist anthologies and a book of personal recovery stories. Born and raised in Wexford, Ireland she still lives there with her two children, Christopher and Jessica. Her background is in healing through Massage Therapy, Reflexology and Sechiem Energy Healer. She has combined her professional and life experience and now coaches women on how to empower themselves. She runs the Womens Wisdom Healing Circle meeting, on every Sunday (Noon est 5pm UK & Ireland), which is a non program specific gathering of women seeking support, encouragement and healing. Already an expert on how not to live life she is a constant seeker of new and better ways of being. Nature is her Higher Power and she believes in magic, crystals and blames the phases of the moon for her multiple personalities.
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  1. Spot on!

    If only more people in this world had your attitude Nicky.

    Great and grateful read. Thank you.


  2. Was so happy to see this today Nic! You pretty much know my life and my story. In fact I shared a funny with you today with my Houdini cat making his Escape. Was such a pleasure to read this and anything that you write. Your support mean so much to so many. With love and respect always.

  3. Love this piece Nicola. Right on target. If I was unable to learn to enjoy the ordinary things, I’d miss most of my life waiting for the extraordinary.
    Disillusionment set in when life didn’t turn out as fabulous as I thought it should when I got sober, but I discovered it didn’t have to be as bad as I thought if my expectations weren’t met. It had everything to do with my ego. I eventually found a way to be content somewhere in the middle, where there’s a lot of room.
    I’m fortunate my recovery wasn’t conditional to having a rock star life. That’s not who I am.

  4. “Never underestimate your decision to follow your own rules and continue to grow and evolve despite the “disappointment” of those who feel they know better”. Love this piece and the ability to relate. I recently moved outside the LA area where pressure to mock the celebrity lifestyle runs rampant. So far I’ve been able to stay true to myself, but not without loud voices in my head screaming, “but look at them and their beautiful whatever!” Love this reminder that we are all beautiful in our ordinary. Thank you for your powerful story, truly brilliant.

  5. Big Hugs Nicky, Thanks for telling your story (it is a lot like mine) some differences ,such as the path of Recovery I have been put on, living 90 miles from any large town. Dealing with my Adult ADHD, PTSD and working the Recovery Program (it helps with a lot of other emotional, mental offsets) But the idea that I’m right where I’m supposed to be- Is spot on. I have everything I need and more than I deserve. Woodworking in the Black Hills of Wyoming was not on my list, but as the effects of my RA have limited much physical activity- I do my best at everything I can. Thanks Again for such a inspiring truth of how you have come to accept who and what you are- Light, Love & Hope my Friend

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