How did that creep up on me? It feels like only yesterday I was wishing my teens away, dancing away my twenties, embracing my thirties with a trip to New York and getting all grown up by going self-employed.

Now I'm drinking tea, typing and thinking. I'm two children richer, almost 10 years married and 39 years wiser.


JSB turns 39

Let's face it, turning 40 is not something I'm wildly excited about, nor is it something, that scares me. However, as I (hopefully) skip into a new decade, and, take a look at the other side of my youth, I thought it was an opportune time to get some personal fun in! So I'm doing 40 before 40 in what I've packaged as #JSB4040.


The rocky road to now

I love the fast pace of life and the excitement that every new day brings. I am thankful for every experience, both good and bad, as each one gives me a stress wrinkle or a laughter line, and both serve their own purposeful purpose.

I embrace challenges with vigour, and problem-solve with ease but the answer might not always come quickly. I've learned that good times must be celebrated and bad times mourned. I take s**t on with both arms and look it straight in the eye.

The life journey is the best teacher and if you don't learn from life's teacher then my friends, what's the point of having those experiences? - Joanne Sweeney-Burke


So I thought I'd write a letter to myself (this blog post) and take a trip down memory lane and really think about the 40 life lessons that have brought me to now. This will also serve as my personal writing journey this year.

I would like to think that I've managed to get here in one piece and with more laughter lines than wrinkles! (This point is subject to debate of course!)

The future was something I always thought about

I always thought about the future. My earliest memories at age seven (yes that's me age seven) were about what the future would be, or more importantly, what it could be. I was always a dreamer. I always had notions and visions, thoughts and ambitions, a busy brain and a bigger imagination! The secret I believe to harnessing that headful of stuff was action. Just doing stuff. That's what I use to call it and I often still call it that (maybe I'll use business terminology if in a business meeting, but really JSB's DOES stuff - emphasis on the action verb).


Mini JS

Mini JS & Pooch

The best way to predict your future is to create it. - Abraham Lincoln

I've always been a bit obnoxious like that, predicting my future by having the fearless ambition to just create it. I learned very early on that waiting is tantamount to reversing blindly around a corner. Not only are you going backwards but you are certain to bump into something!

I'm more of a 'put the foot down and let's get going' type of a character, with a rainbow-coloured visor at my eye-line.

So as I celebrate my 39th year, I thought I'd make it one to remember and one to savour. I've been an adult since I was a child and I've had my foot on the gas for three long decades, and as I wave off my thirties, I decided that JSB should go on a personal adventure.

Like who is this child? I recognise her but I don't know her.

I've always been busy, so busy I often missed out on me. I was speaking to a friend recently and I said, "you know I don't understand the concept of 'being good to yourself'". And it got me thinking. Even the fact that I talk about myself in the third person often suggests detachment, so I have decided to get to know this little girl a bit more and this woman too.

On the 16th December I posted a status update on my Facebook profile which claimed:

I'm going to be better to myself!

It got an awesome reaction from other women who clearly got lost along the way.

So come on jump onto my personal adventure. I'm not allowing myself to have any business goals or challenges here. They always get too much of my attention and after eight years of being my own boss, I have to just accept that everything will work out because I put the work in. So this is personal! :)


The personal adventure challenge

I'm closing my ears to the 'she's having a mid-life crisis' chants. I'm sure as you chant, you'll secretly be wishing you could come on my journey with me. So let's be nice to each other and I'll teach you a thing or two along the way.

Without a plan, it's just a wish. - Unknown

I love plans! I'm bloody great at making them, sticking to them and celebrating the results. So it goes without saying that this year requires it's very own Evernote folder. And it also requires a list!

So come join me on the #JSB4040 adventure and even suggest new adventures for my #JSB4040 list!

Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures. - Lovelle Drachman


It wouldn't be a JSB adventure without a digital element, so I'll document the highways and byways using the hashtag #JSB4040 and I'll also vlog each of the 40 personal challenges.

Now anyone who knows JSB knows that there won't be any jumping out of planes, going on safari or swimming with sharks (although I think I may have done that with the proverbial kind.) No no, my list is more of a 'get more fun stuff done', type of list and slowing down the pace of running in business heels.

Here's the provisional list (subject to change by the author), hence why I'd welcome your input.

#1 Run a half marathon (DONE!) 

The farthest distance I've ever run was 10 miles. So I want to reach the half marathon milestone this year.

UPDATE:  I completed the Kinvara Rock and Road Half Marathon on Saturday 5th March after training consistently for nine weeks. I self-trained and with some professional input I could have performed better. However, I had the race of my life! I took each of the 13.1 miles, one mile at a time and I was in a complete running zone. I didn't have any pains or aches and I was able to manage my mind even in the last tough three miles.

JSB Half MarathonEveryone talks about the 'finish line high' but guess what...I didn't get that! Why, I hear you ask?

As I came around the corner into Kinvarra Village, it was seemingly quiet. In fact not quiet, it was deserted! A feeling of dread came over me, as I realised that I was actually going to be the very last person to cross the finish line.

Now I had joked about this to family and friends but didn't think I would be last! A number of people didn't make it to the finish line and dropped out for whatever reason, but JSB was last!

So as I crossed the line there were two organisers waiting for me as they were dismantling all the equipment.

Am I last?

No, I don't think so.

Actually yes you are!

So with a sore ego and dropping blood pressure I got my medal, tucked into a banana and off I went home back to Galway city.

So with a few weeks to think about my first half marathon experience I have this to say.JSB Half Marathon

I took George Anderson's advice when he told me to 'enjoy the experience' and not just the goal. This was super advice for me and that's exactly what I focused on through each mile. I also Snapchatted each mile for my family to let them know I was still alive and running! I only stopped once to tie my shoe-lace and even refused a lift a few miles from the end as I continued to repeat my mantra in my head - "one mile at a time JSB, one mile at a time."

So here I am. Last. But feeling like a winner! #JSBcompletes13miles

JSB Half Marathon

#2 Complete a triathlon

I've completed two full Gaelforce adventure challenges comprising running, mountain climbing, kayaking and cycling of 46km and 27km distances respectively, but I've never taken on any challenge that had the swimming element. I can swim, but I'm not great.

I'm hoping to do the Cultra Castle Triathlon in May! Watch this space.

#3 Go on a retreat

I am going on a mediation retreat in Galway in June. I'm so looking forward to it because learning to meditate and practising it is on my list of challenges!

#4 Take a writing break

I love writing as you know. So for the first time in my life I will take a writing break on the Aran Islands. campsite4bcI've never been to the islands off Galway, so this is another first for me. I will stay in glamping pods for three days with the aim of writing 20,000 words - so that's almost 7,000 words per day.

#5 Digital detox

Imagine a full week without pings, beeps, buzzing and reminders! I'm looking forward to this one.

#6 Take dance classes

Despite numerous public appeals, I've never been asked to do a charity strictly come dancing event. I consider myself pretty damn hot on the dance floor, however Sophie my daughter says my moves are out-dated. So I'm going to take dancing lessons and wear my 21-year old tattoo with pride. I'll explain that story at a later date.

UPDATE: I have started on this challenge and have my vision of how I want to play out but am trying to partner with the right dance team/teacher. If you know a dance teacher in Galway please recommend them to me!

#7 Go on holiday on my own

I travel a lot on my own and get lost a lot, but how about getting lost on my own, like in my own thoughts. So I'm going to chance it.

#8 Learn to meditate

You know my busy brain? Well I need to temper it and so learning to meditate is a great personal challenge.

#9 Get an internship

I've always worked in media and business communications but I want to try something new! So I'm going to work as an intern for a week! And I'm going to do it for free. So if you're looking for an intern for a week, send me the link to apply!

UPDATE: I've had three offers from companies so I'll keep you up to speed. I've decided to do a day in 5 companies.

The first job I will take on is quite a big one! I will by the Chief Information Office (CIO) of the Irish health service for day. I will visit a hospital, attend meetings and suggest my ideas.  So stay tuned for this vlog!

#10 Go camping

I've never been camping. Does glamping count? Probably because of my fear of spiders. Lame, right? But a night under the stars doesn't sound too bad.

#11 Go to a music festival

I kind of missed lots of things as a teenage parent and I haven't been to many music festivals, but I need to go all out and do one this year.

#12 Cook dinner for 10 people

My cooking isn't great. So to improve I'm going to cook dinner for 10 people. If you're brave enough to help me with this personal challenge then nominate yourself now.

#13 Succeed at Lent

I'm going to successfully do Lent for the first time in my life. I was always a rebel without a cause and always broke it. In more recent years I didn't bother even trying! But I'm going to go dry for 40 days and 40 nights and perhaps just drink more tea!

UPDATE: I am currentLy on Lent. I am keeping all the days but not all the nights!

#14 Publish my third book

Write, publish and give away 100 FREE copies of my new book on Amazon "40 Lessons Learned in Four Decades" on New Year's Eve 2017, my 40th Birthday.

UPDATE: I have now written the 40 life lessons to appear in the book. Now I need to write each chapter with a case study from my life. I'm enjoying this challenge.

#15 Read a news bulletin on live radio

OK, so this is a bit of nostalgia for me. Reading the news on Highland Radio in Co. Donegal was my first job and I loved it. So I want to go live again behind the mic and read a news bulletin. I haven't lost my radio voice, I can switch to the news tone without thinking about it. So newsrooms, I'll cover a last minute sicky for you!

#16 Visit a new country (DONE!)

So maybe I won't do this one on my own! But I want to visit a new country this year. Where do you recommend?

UPDATE: I visited Switzerland in February so this was my very first challenge completed on the #JSB4040 list. Here's my vlog as well!

#17 Do stand-up comedy (DONE!)

This was terrifying, I won't lie! On Saturday 25th February, I did my debut (and probably only) stand-up comedy performance. I have always held comedians in high esteem and often commented how I thought "it must me the most terrifying experience."

So when I asked my Twitter followers to suggest a challenge as part of #JSB4040,

I even prepared by asking comedy legend Alan Shortt for some funnyness tips and he obliged me when we met at Pendulum Summit.


#18 Eat fish

Despite the fact that I grew up in a fishing village in Co. Donegal where fresh fish was brought in daily, and often distributed to the local community (for free), I've never eaten fish and I have so far refused to give it a go. But does Donegal Catch count in this challenge?

#19 Fit into my wedding dress

Sad face!

#20 Do a photography course

I did photography as part of my journalism course in the early noughties but I've always wanted learn more about it. So now is the time.

UPDATE: I have reached out a photography tutor so I'm hoping this will happen soon.

#21 Get a boudoir photo shoot

And not bitch about how I look!


#22 Learn about me, JSB (DONE! But this will always be a work in progress)

How did I get to 39 without spending so much time getting to know me? It seems that while I've been busy being a mum, a wife, an employee and business woman, I forgot to nurture JSB. So I decided I would get a shovel and dig deep!

This started with attending my first ever personal development conference. In January I went to the thee-day Pendulum Summit in Dublin's Convention Centre and I enjoyed it immensely! And it has started a new journey for me as I get to understand what make me tick and what will make me tock! :)

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet some remarkable people and even interview the speakers and attendees, all wrapped in this vlog.


#23-40 - over to you my friends....

UPDATE: My friends on social media have been busy suggesting new challenges for me, so there's some new additions to #JSB4040

#22 Play the drums

What will JSB do next?

Here's your chance to add to my list. Send me your suggestions, here's how:


Tweet me to @tweetsbyJSB

Facebook Message

Snap Me to jsbnsaps

Can't wait to hear your ideas!

JSB. xxx