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by Deirdre Ward

"Being adopted leaves you with a lot of questions unanswered and pieces of information missing."

Am I finally appreciating ALL that I Am?

I’ve become extremely aware, mindful and analytic since beginning my journey as a blogger and therapist. Pondering Life, its mysteries, its interactions and experiences. What events or people sparked this inside of me or was it always an innate feature I held, and I just had to find the key to unlock and unleash that part of Deirdre? I’m unsure of the answer but answers don’t matter. What matters is it’s happening, I’m evolving and to answer the question from above: am I wilting or blooming? I believe it’s a journey of both!

When I state that answers don’t matter, I can’t help but giggle slightly to myself as answers were the be all and end all for me previously. I had to try to control my life, figure it all out, find those answers so that I had reasons, explanations and logic.

Being adopted leaves you with a lot of questions unanswered and pieces of information missing so I think it makes perfect sense that that’s how I operated, don’t you? However, there is little joy in trying to live life that way. Nobody can control life, other people or find out all those mysteries. Imagine if we did know everything, could control life and others, the world would be either a very mundane place or extremely chaotic. There is beauty in not knowing and I can see that now. Destiny unfolds a day at a time, and I’ve learned (and continue to learn!) to trust the plan that is paved out for me.

While teaching in Abu Dhabi, my mental health took an extreme low due to grieving the loss of my mother, being immersed in a culture where I didn’t feel I had any voice or much freedom, I did feel as if I was wilting away! Being crowned Abu Dhabi Rose and heading for Tralee really was one experience that to be truthful saved me in a sense. I had something positive to aim towards. I would say it, along with a lot of self-help and healing got me out of a black hole of depression. In a sense it helped me connect with the true Deirdre Ward, my identity and what I stood for.

I remember openly sharing my journey of Mam’s illness and death, teaching in Ireland and Abu Dhabi and most importantly to me, sharing my faith. I was beginning to bloom and become my authentic self.

The Rose of Tralee helped me learn a great deal about myself. I remember standing on stage in the Dome when the winner was being announced and my heart sank when I didn’t hear my name. Not out of greed, not out of selfishness, but I felt hopelessness in that moment. I had attached a lot of meaning and significance on winning, as the saving grace I was looking for to help me escape Abu Dhabi.

Looking back now if I had won, I wouldn’t have unfolded a lot more about myself and thankfully a few more petals began to grow! After the festival I went back, I had to find my voice to stand up for my wishes, my beliefs and my LIFE. That’s when the real Tough Cookie began to emerge. I found my power and my voice. I left work, I began my Tough Cookie Blog and I made the decision to become a Play Therapist. Aren’t I so grateful and glad I did!

So where does that leave me today? Wilted or Blooming? I like to think I’ve shed the petals that were of no use to me – the fearfulness, the low self-esteem and self-doubt, the small voiced Deirdre unable to stand tall and speak her truth. I have gained so many beautiful new petals and most definitely I am blooming.

I’m honest with myself, I’m acknowledging my gifts and uniqueness, I appreciate my past and how it’s moulded me, however I don’t allow it to define me. I’m excited and enthusiastic about my future and determined to keep hitting those goals.

I have established my business of Play Therapy – UNLOCK wherein I provide a whole family approach to well-being and support so that no child or adult has to grow up feeling restricted by their beliefs, experiences or self-doubts, so that everyone can see their unique talents and gifts in a positive way. YES Blooming for Sure!



  • Nobody can control life, other people or find out all those mysteries.

  • Imagine if we did know everything, could control life and others, the world would be either a very mundane place or extremely chaotic

  • There is beauty in not knowing, destiny unfolds a day at a time

  • Find your power and your voice, stand up for your beliefs - that's when your real Tough Cookie will emerge!

  • Appreciate your past and how it’s moulded you, but don’t allow it to define you

  • Be excited and enthusiastic about your future and determined to keep hitting those goals

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My name is Deirdre Ward, 2015 Abu Dhabi Rose, Proud Donegal Woman and Champion of Children's Well-being!

I am a qualified Play Therapist practicing since January 2018. Prior to this I worked as a Primary School Teacher for over eight years in Ireland and Abu Dhabi. I have a wealth of knowledge and experience working with children from two years, up to adolescents with varying and diverse needs. I have volunteered alongside Aid Roche’s charity in Chernobyl, in Barrettstown Camp and also worked with children with severe needs, such as a child with Quadriplegic Cerebal Palsy through the Jack & Jill Foundation.

In January 2018, I launched the UNLOCK Programme - a programme tailored to the family to support the whole unit - Play Therapy Sessions with the child so that they feel happier, less anxious and more confident, Parent Sessions to support, listen, educate and advise on how to best help your child.

I have learned so much about myself through representing Abu Dhabi in the Rose of Tralee in 2015, having lived in the UAE, and also by beginning to share my experiences through my Tough Cookie Blog. Writing brings healing and insight for me and I love to share this with others hoping that it touches and helps others to overcome challenges, see their uniqueness and chase their dreams!


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Wilting or Blooming?