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My Summer Soundtrack

My Summer Soundtrack

It’s funny how the music we listen to changes with the seasons. In the winter I find myself listening to slow folk and acoustic songs that make me feel cosy on the inside. But in the summer it’s all about dance, soul and R&B. The kind of music that has me moonwalking my way to the back garden with a cold beer in my hand despite the fact that it’s a rainy Monday evening.

 

When we were growing up my Mum would play music in the kitchen in the evenings especially in the summer when the back door would be thrown open and the music would filter in to the garden. She had a big influence on my taste in music and introduced me to artists I’m still in love with today; Prince, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, KC & the Sunshine Band. We listened to songs that taught us how to move and that allowed us to lose ourselves in the rhythm. Songs that taught us soul and about things we were too young to understand (singing along to Prince lyrics as an eight year old is a little disturbing looking back).

 

I thought I might share a few of my favourites that have become my summer anthems over the years. These are the tunes that I play loudly after a shitty day at work and are guaranteed to lift me up and remind me that it’s summer and there is no call for being sad. They are the summeriest of summer songs and you have my total permission to use them for your own summer soundtrack. I recommend being barefoot and having all the windows open. Just don’t blame me if the neighbours get at ya!!

 

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Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Say what you will about MJ but this song is a classic disco tune that will have you moonwalking your slippers.

Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere

Ugh, Fleetwood Mac and their friggin’ melodies get me everytime.

Van Morrisson – Into The Mystic

“Smell the sea and feel the sky; let your soul and spirit fly in to the mystic”. Lyrics that floored me as a teenager.

Beyoncé – Crazy in Love

Because you can’t have a summer party without Queen B.

Bob Marley – Three Little Birds

This song reminds me of a trip I took around SE Asia with two of my best friends. We got matching tattoos of three birds on our ribcage and every time this song comes on we have a knowing look between the three of us.

10cc – Dreadlock Holiday

The second this song is on I slow down and smile.

Toto – Africa

I love trying to sing along to this song, especially in my car when I know I terrify all other drivers.

Prince – Raspberry Beret

Probably his least filthy song so you can play it a family party.

Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up

Makes me want to have a glamorous poolside party in California.

Will Smith – Miami

Cheesy but so so good!!

Cornershop – Brimful of Asha (Norman Cook Remix)

An oldie but a goodie.

Len – Steal my Sunshine

Despite this being played on every day the sun shines in Ireland I still love it.

U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

The guitars, the drums, the vocals. An Irish classic.

Angus & Julia Stone – Mango Tree

Brings the tempo down for sure but this brother/sister duo melts my summer hear.

LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk Is Playing In My House

To be played loudly preferably with some couch dancing.

The Clash – Rock the Casbah

This was my ringtone in Uni I loved it that much.

The Knack – My Sharona

I defy you not to dance to this song!!

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes – 40 Day Dream

The happiest of summer songs that has me stamping my little hooves with sheer glee.

All Saints – Pure Shores

No one can do 90’s beach chic like All Saints

Jurassic 5 – Work It Out

This is my summer bath tune. Yes that is a thing.

Fatboy Slim – Praise You

A song that will never go out of style. Never.

 

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My Irish Summer Bucket List

My Irish Summer Bucket List

I think most of us have a romanticised view of the summers of our childhood. The days were always warmer, longer and filled with adventure from the moment we woke up. The days stretched out before us in a haze of languid afternoons spent hiding amongst the fields, chasing the sun as it refused to go down. Being sent to bed was the worst punishment as the stubborn daylight continued to haunt us as we lay yearning to be amongst the laughter we could still hear outside.

 

As adults, the punishment now isn’t being sent to bed. It’s being sent to an office where we are forced to stay in and attempt to work while the stubborn daylight haunts us all over again. We are jailed by social responsibilities but are set free for the weekend and in order to make the most of the precious hours, we must think of as many fun things to do to save us from the guilt on a Sunday evening.

 

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Irish people can be a cynical bunch and many smirk at the mention of summer since the weather here is as reliable as our government. That sense of adventure has waned with age but Ireland has so much to offer and we can relive those childhood days, even if it’s just for the weekend.

 

I’ve rounded up a few things I want to tick off this summer in the hope that it might allow me to feel excited about the weekends and less flustered about feeling the need to fill every hour. Having these wee goals helps me look forward to the weekend and appreciate just how much this island has to offer – even when the rain tries to dampen my spirits!

 

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Go to a GAA Match

I’m an Armagh woman and the county football team was at it’s peak when I was a teenager. This meant that a lot of Sundays in the summer were spent on the side of a pitch, wearing the immutable orange jersey while screaming “Go wan Armagh!!” about a million times. I haven’t been to a game in forever and I miss the buzz of the crowd, the embarrassing insults the poor ref always endured and the terrible homemade sandwiches that were snacked on. This year I’ll make sure to don the jersey again and who knows, maybe Armagh might be within a chance of winning the Sam again.

Sleep Under the Stars

Falling asleep listening to the lullabies of leaves rustling or waves crashing might just be the tonic of the summer. I am a keen camper but I don’t make it enough of a priority to just pack up the car and get away for a night. But a night under the stars is always worth the hassle – even just for the melted marshmallows alone.

Run 5km

Running seems to be the trendy thing to do these days and for that reason I am severely unfashionable. I am not a runner and even though I have a good excuse not to be (the old CF lungs are easy to blame), I still really want to be able to run a decent distance. I have an aim to be able to run 5km in one session by the end of the summer so the practice will be starting this week. Just don’t expect me to to talk while I’m running – those freaks can stay well away from me.

Solo Picnic

I love a good picnic and Andrew and I will find time for one on weekends that will allow us to eat outside without being frozen. But this summer I want to take advantage of a little time to myself. Time to chill out, read a book or just listen to my own thoughts bumbling inside my noggin.

Island Hop

Although we live on on an island, there are still lots of little satellite islands that adorn our lovely coast and so I want to explore a few of them this summer. Last summer we visited Rathlin Island which was a blast and my first time seeing puffins up close (ish). This year I hope to visit an island or two off the west coast and get a good dose of that Atlantic air in to my lungs.

Surf

I learned to surf while living in Australia but only really stood up a few times. My lovely Aussie friends bought me a foam board as a birthday present and it has been shamefully lying in our box room gathering dust and no doubt feeling very depressed. This year the board will get wet and I will brace the ice-cold water that will surely have me wanting to dart back to dry land in an instant. I will be brave and I will try and stand up again even for just a second.

Attend the Fleadh

The Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is an annual music festival that displays the best of Irish traditional music. I’ve never been but every year I promise myself that I will go. This year is no different but I hope to actual make it this time!

See a Play

I live in Belfast but it’s embarrassing how little I appreciate living in a city with a thriving culture scene. There are plays and musicals every week to take advantage of and so I will be sure to get my thespian head on this summer!

Host an Outdoor Cinema

We have a projector that has been lying lonely alongside my dusty surfboard which will be of much better use when hosting our own backyard cinema. I hope to string up on an old bed sheet, throw a load of cushions on the grass and gather some good mates for an old classic or two. Let’s just hope the weather plays ball!!

 

If I manage to get even half of these ticked off then I feel like I’m in for a fun summer!

Have you your own summer bucketlist? Is there anything you’re hoping to tick off this summer?? 

 

 

Mother’s Day Post: Part 2 – 10 Signs You Are Becoming Your Mother

Mother’s Day Post: Part 2 – 10 Signs You Are Becoming Your Mother

After a weekend with constant sunshine it’s no surprise I’m feeling a little depressed this Sunday evening. Setting an alarm for another week of work is enough to fill anyone with dread but I can’t help but feel content too after such a happy few days. We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather and it was a perfect chance to spend some time outdoors and take that Mum of ours out for a dander in the sun.

 

When I spend time with my Mum these days I find more and more habits and idiosyncrasies of hers that I have slowly started to inherit. It’s enough to scare the bejaysus out of me when I start to snort like her or correct other people’s grammar but it’s nice to know there’s a part of her in the woman I’ve become. Even if that part can be a cynical nag at times.

 

To finish off Mother’s Day I thought I’d share a few signs that you too are turning in to your ma. Try not to let it worry you – it happens to all of us so we might as well embrace the moments of walking in to rooms and forgetting why we’re there (it was probably to make yet another cup of tea).

 

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and here’s to turning in to the women we love most!


10 Signs You’re Turning In To Your Mum

1. You Hold Your Phone a Metre From Your Face To Read Messages

I have caught myself doing this so many times when I’m trying to read a message and I also do that super-attractive face-thing where I pull the corners of my mouth down. It doesn’t even matter if I have my glasses on – it’s just a natural state I find myself in when scrolling through Instagram.

2, You Make Sandwiches for Journeys

My Mum would have had no qualms about sending me off to the airport with a load of ham sandwiches wrapped in cling film when I was headed off travelling. She knew rightly that I probably wouldn’t eat them after they were squished within 5 minutes but it was just an extension of her looking after me. I find myself making wee snacks for long journeys now just in case I find myself in the wilderness and fancy a hob nob – you can never be too careful.

3. You Wear Your Glasses on Your Head and Forget They’re There

My favourite moments are when my Mum walks around looking for her glasses when they’ve been on her head since she put them there to make tea. I don’t tell her of course because the entertainment is just too much.

4. You Make Excuses for the State of the House

9 times out of 10 I’ll walk in to my Mum’s house and she’ll try and excuse the disarray (even when there’s no real mess) because she’s in the middle of some recent deep clean. She takes herself on these notions of gutting out all the cupboards and then gets bored halfway through when she suddenly finds old school reports she knows have always been there. The women has the attention spat of a gnat (but I do love her).

5. You Call Your Children Every Name but Theirs

Now, I know I don’t have children but I couldn’t help but put this in here since I’m sure everyone can identify with it. When we were growing up my Mum would shout for me but come out with my sisters’/dad’s/cousin’s/postman’s name before getting to mine. I couldn’t help but feel slightly wounded when after getting through all those names she still couldn’t get to mine. Definitely something I still carry around with me.

6. You Become Petrified of Being a Car Passenger

Anyone else’s Mum make them feel like Schuhmacher when they’re a passenger in the car? My Mum does this whole dramatic door grab act when I’m turning a corner even though I’m only doing 25mph around a roundabout. Drives me bananas!

7. You Drink At Least 10 Cups of Tea a Day

I have timed my cups of tea to an art form which is something I have definitely inherited from Mother Dearest except she has a good 8 – 10 cups a day in comparison to my 4. I actually don’t think the woman drinks any liquid other than tea which makes me a little afraid that she’s slowly turning in to a used teabag.

8. You Overfeed Any Visitor

Especially male visitors. Having brought up three girls my Mum thinks that men must eat twice as much and forces them to eat everything she has in the house. What she doesn’t realise is that one of her daughters (me) eats just as much as a man. I find myself doing this now though – I’ll insist on feeding anyone that comes in to my house even if it’s just to deliver a leaflet. Definitely an Irish mammy thing.

9. You Hide Evidence of Snacking

As a child my Mum would have never have had a sweet tooth – something she always prided herself on. Fast forward twenty years and she’ll now easily inhale a whole tray of cupcakes and wash them down with a Fanta. It’s gotten so bad that she’s now taken to hiding the evidence for fear of ridicule. I am guilty of hiding this little habit too though – don’t open my car door because there will be mountains of sweet wrappers that will fall on to your feet.

10. You Don’t Care About Looking Like a Stalker

If I miss a call from my Mum and don’t call her back within a half hour I’ll usually get a text followed about another 5 calls. The poor woman instantly worries and doesn’t give a damn if I might be in a meeting or driving my car. We’ve tried to tell her that when we’re free we will call her but I don’t think that’ll ever get through. At the end of the day it’s only because she loves us and how lucky are we that our mothers love us so much that they just can’t wait to hear our voice?

Mother’s Day Post – Part 1: How To Treat Your Mama

Mother’s Day Post – Part 1: How To Treat Your Mama

Happy Mother’s Day weekend! And what a weekend it is! The weather man was actually right for once and the sun is shining down on our wee island leaving us with bucket loads of stuff to do with our Mums. Sometimes it’s a little easy to just grab a bunch of flowers before a Sunday roast dinner (most likely made by her) but this year I’ve been trying to think of better ways to spend some quality time with the aul doll.

 

My Mum lives about an hour away from me so I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like and when I do see her it always feels too rushed. I try to squeeze so much in to my weekends sometimes that I forget how grateful she is when I take a minute to just have a cup of tea with her while we fill out the Irish Times crossword. My Mum is so undemanding of my time and yet she is so quick to be there for me when I need her so tomorrow is her day.

 

What are you doing with your Mums this year? If you need a little help in thinking of ways to spoil her with your time then have a gander at the below ideas I have been thinking about. Whatever you do, be present in the moment with her. Leave your phone in your bag and start a conversation that you don’t want to end. Let the memories and words fill your day together and allow yourself to remember just how lucky you are to have her.

 

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Happy Mother’s Day!


How To Spend Mother’s Day

Cook Together

Big T (our adorable nickname for our Mum, Theresa) is the champion of the Sunday Roast, queen of the beef gravy and chief of the spud. We so rarely cook for her so I’ve been thinking how great it would be if we prepared a meal together. Spending time in the kitchen with our Mum is where we can see her at her best and it’s a good way to pick up some tricks and tips too. Why not invite your Mum over this Sunday to cook a feast? Play music you used to listen to her cook to as a kid (The Lighthouse Family and M People were on repeat in our house) and shut the door so you get her all to yourself for an hour or too.

Go Through Old Photos

I love doing this with my Mum. We usually discover old albums when we’re supposed to be doing something else! We sit cross-legged for hours pouring over photos from an age ago and wondering what the hell we were thinking – who ever thought crimped hair was a good idea?! It’s a beautiful way to hear your Mum’s version of events, how she felt on that day or hearing stories you had completely forgotten about. Have a tea party on the floor while your Mum tells you about the time you chucked a fit at the fun fair (or some nicer stories) and remind yourself of some pretty wonderful moments.

Go on an Adventure

One of my favourite memories of my Mum is the time we took a road trip down the east coast of Australia. She was over visiting me at the time and we drove south of Sydney not really knowing where we were headed. We laughed so much over those few days (I still laugh when I remember the time she saw a sign saying ‘Horse Manure’ and thought it read ‘Horse Manicure’ – she thought that horses were getting their hooves filed!) and we both felt free to do whatever we wanted. I saw her at her most relaxed and I was so happy to have been a part of that. Why not take a spin with your Mum this year and explore a bit of the country with her? Don’t plan it too much – just allow yourselves to be free for the day together.

Try Something New Together

We all can get in a bit of a rut and our Mums especially can be reluctant to try anything new. Register the both of you in a class where you’re both beginners – learning something new together will surely bring you closer and might even fill you both with a little more confidence. It’s important to push ourselves no matter what age we are and your Mum might be a little bit chuffed regardless of how nervous she might be.

Go on a Date

Why not dress up and get a little fancy this Mother’s Day? Take your Mum to her favourite restaurant, just her, and treat her to a little decadence. We’re taking our Mum to Castle Leslie tomorrow and I can’t wait to be a wee bit posh for the afternoon. After that we’re taking her to the movies to see Beauty & The Beast – a childhood favourite in our household. I’m a little bit excited about it, mostly for the popcorn.

Remake a Childhood Memory

Did your family ever have a tradition or a place you would visit regularly as kids? Our Mum used to take us to Gosford Park in Armagh when we were tots and I have so many memories of climbing giant trees before getting too scared and wanting her to help me down. Pack up a picnic and take your Mum back to a special spot that will bring back lots of good memories and remind her that she was once a Mum to wee terrors!

 

 

 

5 Ways to Get Out of the Winter Funk

5 Ways to Get Out of the Winter Funk

Hello friends, it’s been a while. I am well aware of the fact that I’ve been neglectful of this wee space over the last few weeks and I want to use the excuse that it’s because I was without a laptop (no lie – it was more difficult being without Pinterest more than anything!) but in truth I was in the middle of a major funk that I am only starting to resurface from. I’m not sure if it’s the weather and my neediness for Spring to be here already but whatever it was it really dragged me under.

 

When I get in to this negative mindset my confidence and motivation are the first to go. I become lazy in just about every area of my life which only makes me feel worse about myself. I am the eternal optimist in the eyes of my friends and yet when this fog comes down I turn in to the person I least want to be; needy, insecure and just a little sad. I don’t really know what triggers the fog but I do think being cooped up inside and forever yearning for a sunny day does tend to influence my pattern of thought – living in Ireland doesn’t help this at the best of times!

 

This state of limbo is not something I talk about often because it doesn’t really happen that often. It’s so common for people to feel this way at this time of year; we’re all waiting for the chill to leave us and for the sun to warm our souls again. But why shouldn’t I talk about it? Because I might share a part of myself that I don’t like? This part of me that’s far from perfect and far from the positive shiny person I want people to see me as is not something I should be ashamed of. Learning to like ourselves is such a necessary step to happiness and so accepting these little negatives is a lesson I will always be working on.

 

The weather is turning though and I can feel the weight being lifted already. Right now I’m writing with speed for this first time in what feels like ages and my fingers can’t keep up with the ideas that are flowing out. Yes spring is here. Actual sunlight is streaming on to the table I am writing at and I can see blue skies from my seat. How good it feels when we can finally see the light at the end of a tunnel we didn’t think would end.

 

Of course the dark moments will come and go but they are always a temporary blip that I shouldn’t pressurise myself to get out of as quickly as possible. I will endure them at my own pace. I will talk as much or as little as I feel I need to. I will like who I am even when I feel I shouldn’t. I will be the first person I am kind to each day.

 

If you are feeling a little burdened by our long winter and are in need of a little positivity to help guide you in to spring, then try a few of the below ideas that I turn to even when all I want to do is throw my jammies on!

 

Make Plans

Every Sunday I like to make my plans for the week which can wreck Andrew’s head because it means planning his as well! But knowing that I have people to see and fun things to look forward to allows me to get excited about the week ahead of me. Surrounding myself with people I like reminds me that I am in a much better place than I think.

 

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Practice Yoga

I went to my first heated yoga class last week and walked out with my mind and body buzzing. I was soaked in sweat but I also felt like I shed a tonne of baggage that I hadn’t realised I was carrying that day. I have known how much good yoga brings in to my life for a long time but the heated class only heightened the positive change. Please try it out! I couldn’t recommend the Flow Yoga Studios in Belfast enough but there are sure to be classes near you if you’re not in the city.

 

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Do A Little Good

I am lucky enough to volunteer on the ‘Time to Read’ programme but to be honest I feel like the children do more for me than I do for them. Watching their confidence grow and the wee improvements they make over time is such a joy and it’s usually one of my favourite parts of the week. You don’t need to volunteer to do good, all it takes is a drive to make someone else’s day a little better. Bringing a smile to someone’s face will surely bring a smile to yours so it’s win-win all round.

 

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Notice Pretty Things

Being a self-confessed Instagram addict means that I am always looking out for the beauty in the things around me. Some people might think that Instagram can create a constant need to share everything and can lead to comparing ourselves to others (which is never a good idea). But keeping an eye out for the little things that I might usually take for granted encourages me to appreciate the corners of my wee world.

 

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Get Outside

Yes Ireland brings an awful lot of rain but this also means that there are endless fields, rivers and forests to get lost in. My favourite place to clear my head is Helen’s Bay. It’s my spot where I go to on my own to feel the sand, let myself get battered by the sea winds and watch dogs lunge themselves in to the waves (dogs make me SO HAPPY). Make time for those solo moments of gratitude, a time to sit and think of nothing. No internal arguments you will never actually have. No memories that make you feel bad. Just your own piece of wonder near you which makes your heart sing a little. Feel free to use mine if you don’t have your own!

 

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Do you have any methods of bringing a little lightness in during the darker moments? Any ideas that will always guarantee a happy head? Would so love to hear them!

 

 

Live Wild & Free

Live Wild & Free

I was about ten years old when I accepted that I was different from other children. It was when I learned that having CF meant I wouldn’t have a normal future and that I would always have to be mindful of my health. I think being aware of my own mortality from such a young age encouraged me to be grateful for every moment that I had. Yes, it was probably a fairly big burden to have as a child but it instilled in me the wisdom to believe that life can be brief but beautiful.

 

A friend of mine lost her life this week and although I have always been aware of the shortness of my own life, it didn’t prepare me for the shock of losing a friend the same age. When someone has their health and lots of people who care for them, it’s difficult to understand how they can feel so alone and lost. Mental health is an enigma to so many of us yet 1 in 4 of us will suffer form a mental health related issue this year – why are we still struggling to understand?

 

A young woman taking her life has rocked my friendship groups and the community I used to be a part of in Australia. As they are united in grief they are united in knowing that life is not endless. It is fragile, fickle but above all it is fleeting.

 

My advice to anyone who has lost someone, or who is scared of the future, is this: let the fear wash over you for there is no fuel like it. Fear is what we need to live a life more wild and free. We are not meant to be confined to one path but to take many paths that we are lucky enough to have in front of us. Our hearts our there to be broken, our skin to be weathered and our brains to be exposed to as much learning as we can squeeze in to it. We have all lay in bed I am sure, terrified of the future and how little control we have but we have more control than we give ourselves credit.

 

The problem for most is change. Change can often be a scary thing which is what stops us from leaping from our singular path and in to another. We are creatures of comfort and afraid that we can never turn back. We can always turn back but what might be most surprising of all is that once we’ve made the leap, we won’t want to. Embracing change encourages us to accept the unknown and that is what can free us.

 

If you feel like you are lost or alone please look around you. Not only are there people surrounding you who love you now, there are people who are yet to fall in love with you who you are. We make so many wonderful connections in our lifetime, connections that change and later define us as people. Humans are not solitary creatures. Enjoying our own company is hugely important but there is too much good within us all to be contained. We need to share the love we have and align ourselves with people who only make our light shine brighter.

 

So today let’s live wild and free. Be the you you want to be. Grab your coat and feel the wind batter you. Listen to a song that makes you dance like a mad thing round the house. Watch the sun rise with your morning cuppa. Tell your loved ones when you’re thinking of them.

 

Yes, life is brief but it is also flippin’ spectacular. And there is no burden in that.


If you feel like you might benefit from getting some advice from professionals or just want to have a chat, please follow this link which will take you to a list of really useful phone numbers and websites 🙂

 

 

Live The Little Things

Live The Little Things

Oh Friday, thank goodness you’re here because I have been dragging my tired ass from one day in to the next. My days have been rolling in to one as I hide in my cosy house after work (with the odd jaunt to the gym for a half hour of pure pain) and my wee hooves have been practically sighing with relief as I shuffle in to my slippers as soon as I’m through the door.

 

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I almost feel embarrassed about the sheer joy I have been feeling at doing feck all recently but this is the only time of year when it’s completely OK to hibernate and watch all 6 seasons of Downton Abbey with a cup of tea permanently balancing on my ever-growing pouch. We need these little things to keep us going in the darker evenings because by spending so much time indoors, we can easily succumb to darker thoughts. Silly worries about whether we should be doing more after an exhausting day at work (and maybe eating fewer blocks of chocolate) can permeate and fester. Things that we wouldn’t give a second thought to during the warmer months can suddenly become more considered and worth our time.

 

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I try to be aware of this feeling that can creep in during winter. Instead of allowing myself to feel guilty about enjoying the simpler way of living, I relish in it because I know when the longer days arrive I’ll be drawn to the outside again. I might not have as many pretty photos but I have lots of time to write, read and cook – things I completely neglect when the sun comes out. Most of all though, I use this time to appreciate the little things that happen to me throughout the day that can make me just as happy as the big moments in life.

 

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During the next month or two when you may feel a little restless or stressed, try to be mindful of the small things that have maybe made your day a little better. Put on some music while you’re cooking dinner and have a wee party in the kitchen. Listen to the fire crackle as you read your favourite mag. Buy yourself a bright bunch of flowers. Call your best mate for a chat. All these little wins add up to a pretty happy winter.

 

And here are my little wins for this week…

  1. Listening to Jurassic 5 in a bath full of bubbles – Andrew definitely caught me trying to rap along
  2. Laughing out loud in my car on the drive to work in the morning – I was listening to the radio, I’m not completely demented
  3. Having just enough milk for the last cup of tea of the day – YESSSSS
  4. Getting to the gym and remembering everything – I usually forget a sports bra or socks in my morning stupor
  5. Waking up and realising I still have over an hour left in bed – definitely the cosiest feeling in the world
  6. My herbs still clinging to life despite living on an hour of daylight every day – you go basil!
  7. Ordering a knitting kit on Amazon – quiet time means time to get creative (and knit a scarf as we’re coming in to Spring)
  8. Made my own fishcakes which were absolutely delightful – hello potential blog post
  9. Reading a magazine in bed at 10pm – #grannylyfe
  10. Funny emails from my mates to keep me going in work – they’re the best!

 

Have a cracking weekend folks and whatever you’re up to, don’t feel a shred of guilt as long as you’re happy 🙂

 

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Things To Be Proud Of

Things To Be Proud Of

“That’s it for another year” is a phrase that is spoken by every person on this island once the Christmas festivities come to an end. I said it myself today as I slowly packed away our tree and decorations and sadly realised I won’t be seeing tinsel for at least 11 months – we need to find more opportunities for tinsel! It can also feel a little rushed when we’re frantically buzzing around trying to see all the relatives and friends we can so that when the moment does arrive where we can finally put our feet up and appreciate the music, decorations and festive tipples, it flashes by us and we’re left wondering where the days have gone.

 

I’m back to work tomorrow and although I have thoroughly thrown myself in to life as a lady of leisure (I made soup AND brownies today!), I’m a creature of habit and miss the routine of a working week albeit not really the working bit. However, what the last few days of doing pretty much nothing has enabled me to do is to reflect on the year that has passed me. A New Year brings half-assed resolutions which some of us (me) will never keep and make us (me) feel like failures by February. While it is a healthy thing to look ahead and give ourselves goals which will give us the motivation to get through the rest of winter, I like to take a moment to look at the things I’ve already achieved before I’ve decided it’s not enough.

 

This year saw a fair bit of change for me. Andrew and I moved in to our first home together which I love and after years of living abroad, I finally feel settled and happy in Ireland. I also got a new job working for a big finance institution which again was so far removed from what I was used to but an opportunity I felt I couldn’t pass up. In between these changes, I’ve also had up’s and down’s – skiing the French Alps, a hospital admission, friends getting engaged, family loss, seeing Copenhagen with my little sister. There have been days when I have felt lost and alone and there have been days when I have felt so much joy I could burst. The dark days can feel unbearable but it’s having the ability to push through them in the knowledge that it’s all temporary. As the wondrous Leonard Cohen wrote,

 

“There is a crack in everything, 

That’s how the light gets in”

Yes, 2016 was a year of changes and no doubt 2017 will have a few more in store for me but I want to take a second to give myself a pat on the back for a few things. Things that have scared me but instead of shying away from them, I have relished in the challenge. Here are a few of my own for this year…

The Blog

An obvious one! But the one that stands out from everything. Writing a few posts a month has taken a lot of dedication but above all bravery because there is no scarier thing than sharing your words with others. It wasn’t so much the judgement of strangers I was most afraid of but those of the people who knew me which is why it took me so long to share the blog on Facebook. How wrong I was because when I did decide to share the blog with friends and family, I got the most amazing feedback! What I thought was just rambling nonsense was in fact an important message for some people and while I still don’t see myself as a writer by any means, I do have so much more confidence in what I’m trying to say. It has also led me to other bloggers from NI who I greatly admire and have been able to take so much inspiration from. I will be blogging away in 2017 but 2016 will be the year I laid my heart bare and I will always be hugely proud of that.

 

New Industry

I have a degree in Ecological Science so a career in a financial institution is not exactly where I saw myself going so when I interviewed for the job and walked through the sleek offices and past the people in suits, I felt a little like a sell out to say the least. However, in this part of the world there are few places where you can climb the career ladder while learning a vast set of skills so I felt it was an important move. Nearly 6 months later I still feel like I’m getting to grips with the corporate scene but massively grateful for the benefits it’s given me. I’m now volunteering weekly at a local school, taking part in mindfulness classes on lunches and yoga classes after work – I have the whole work life balance down! It wasn’t all easy for me but I’m proud I took the leap of faith because it’s introduced me to a pretty great career.

 

Health

Getting older with CF is a little scary to say the least so fitness is not an important but a necessary part of my life. I was hospitalised in June for the first time in three and a half years and although that was a great achievement to have been out of hospital for so long, I found it very difficult to be away from Andrew. I promised myself that I would concentrate more on health and less on trying to pretend that I’m just like everyone else because as frustrating as it can be, I’m not. Luckily my good buddy Gareth opened a gym in Belfast a few months ago and he took me under his pumped up wing and flung me in to PT sessions. I am by no means a natural gym-goer so it took me a few weeks to get used to the shame of not being able to lift the teeniest of weights but after a while I started to see some changes. Not just in my muscles (hello back muscle I never knew existed!!) but also in my lung functions which stayed in the high 70’s most of the year – woop woop! Just call me Arnie guys.

 

Skiing

We went skiing in January which was my second time on the slopes (the first being 12 years ago!) so needless to say I was bricking it when I put on the skis. I hadn’t realised what I was doing until we hopped off the gondola and were clipping our boots in place while staring down the most beautiful mountain I’d ever been on. What the feck was I doing?! I should’ve booked lessons!! Off I went with my knees quaking and pretending to Andrew that I was grand and telling him to go on ahead when in actual fact I was wondering how to get back on the gondola again. I carried on though and after a few hairy moments I remembered how much fun it was and how amazing it felt to glide through scenes that were straight from a post card. On the fourth day I even braved a black slope with Andrew and his friend Simon which was basically a glass bottle. I was terrified and amazed I managed it but I felt like a champion so for that I am proud.

 

Creativity

Now I know the blog sort of falls under creativity but writing aside, I’ve also been taking the last year to flex my creativity muscles which, like my back muscles, I didn’t really know existed! I’ve always been interested in making homemade products and my Pinterest is clogged with ideas so eventually I pushed myself in to making a few candles. Once I realised how easy it all was I branched out in to soap, lipbalm, exfoliants, body butter and next thing I know I’m drowning in essential oils! I decided to hand out a few in Christmas hampers this year and they went down a treat so I now know what everyone will be getting for birthdays this year!

 

So those are a few of the things that have made me chuffed to be me this year. I will be making a few intentions for the year ahead but looking back on the past year has allowed me to appreciate the little things I have achieved and knowing what I can do differently.

 

Please let me know what you’re proud of doing in 2016 and the accomplishments (little or small!) you’ll be taking in to the New Year! Let’s bring as much positivity in to 2017 as we can!

An Irish Goodbye

An Irish Goodbye

An ‘Irish Goodbye’ usually refers to a person who leaves a group without saying farewell and sneaks out the door however here in Ireland, saying goodbye is a much more dramatic affair and is usually the longest event of the night with several breaks every few metres until eventually the host is practically on the guest’s lap in the car.

When I think of this type of goodbye that is all too common here it reminds me of how reluctant we are to say goodbye to the people we love. We cling on to every moment, not wanting it to end for fear that once they’re gone, the party is over and we are only left with the memories.

This is the most tragic and bittersweet thing about life that we know to expect but are never prepared for in any case. No matter how we knew the person, saying goodbye to someone who has made us feel a little less alone in a world that we continually battle to understand is something we never get used to. It pushes us in to a place we don’t want to be, away from the living that feels cold and barren and allows thoughts to gather in our minds that only propagates the feeling that we are all alone after all.

Losing my sister was a traumatic experience as most losses are. She was too young and experienced too much pain which meant the only condolence was that she wasn’t going to suffer anymore. My problem with this was just that – she wasn’t going to suffer anymore. She wasn’t going to feel anything anymore and we were all left to feel everything; joy, sadness, excitement, love, hate. I struggled, and still do, with how unfair it all was that her ability to feel was taken away.

These struggles are what led me to never take for granted the ability to feel the best and worst things that life can throw at us. Suffering a great loss can shake us to our core but being able to feel this despair is one of the life’s most cruel of gifts. It might sound a little masochistic but even on the days I feel in pain or scared or angry I am at least relieved to feel.

Unfortunately grief is a lifelong experience that never really goes away. When we lose someone who we weren’t ready to let go of we are left with a hole that can grow big and small even years later. We lost Amy six years ago and there are days when I feel such an urge to talk to her it can overwhelm me. She was the middle sister that glued us three together and it’s difficult to pretend that we don’t need that link to make me and Shannon feel whole. Which is why I don’t pretend. When I need to talk about her or share a funny story I will. When I miss her uncontrollably I’ll call my parents or sister. I will never shut her out because I need to embrace her in my life wherever possible.

The thing is, I appreciate all too well how much of a miracle it is that I’m even alive in the first place. It’s a miracle our planet is in the position it is in the solar system. It’s a miracle I was born in a country with access to modern medicine. It’s a miracle my parents decided to fancy each other and get it on (in the most romantic of ways I’m sure).  And it’s a miracle I am the only one in this world who was lucky enough to be a big sister to Amy.

Sometimes we’re forced to say goodbye before we’re ready. The reality of how delicate and uncontrollable life can be is thrusted upon us and we are bereft with the knowledge we may never see our loved ones again. What we do have and what can never be taken away from us is the memories. The moments shared together happened and can never unhappen. They will always remain and that’s how we can ensure that the people we have lost are never truly gone from us. They need only be on the edge of our thoughts and the end of our breath. We can take as many breaks as we need before we reach the door and say our final goodbye.

4 Remedies for the Sniffles

4 Remedies for the Sniffles

While I have welcomed autumn with open arms and have been happily retrieving my much missed hats, scarves and gloves from the back of the wardrobe, there is one thing that I fear when the chilly air arrives: The Sniffles. It’s appearance can almost be timed to the very second because once September comes round it’s like everyone around me has noses like taps and eyes that continually weep.

I work in an open plan office with nowhere to hide so it’s like an absolute bonanza for bacteria. To prevent cross-contamination I try to avoid getting close to anyone who looks even a smidgen under the weather. What made this difficult recently was a training day I had to attend last week. One of those interactive, show-everyone-how-fun-you-can-be workshops with lots of exercises and TOUCHING. To my joys I was sitting next to a girl working on the floor above mine who seemed lovely but appeared to be on the brink of death. The woman was dosed to the high heavens and was throwing strepsils in to her at such a rapid rate I was surprised her tongue was still hanging in her mouth.

As I talked to her without actually turning my head for fear of breathing in whatever deadly, menthol-riddled fumes she was exhaling, I calmly told myself I’d be grand as long as I didn’t have to touch her. And then the speaker chimed in telling us we’d be playing a game. In pairs. Feck. We were paired up and told to face one another as we’d be playing a game of strength and usually I would be ecstatic in this circumstance because I’m competitive to the core and having to compete with someone who could barely see me through the Lemsip haze would have been no contest. However I was too busy thinking how I could touch her hand without really touching her hand when it was too late. She had already taken it, as it seemed she was happy to pass on the malady she had been stricken with, a little bit too happy if you ask me, and I waved farewell to breathing through my nose for a week.

The thing is though I hate being sick and for good enough reason. I try my hardest to avoid the hospital at all costs which, unfortunately, is not easy with CF. When you’re inside (I refer to it like prison because the meals are crap and you are subjected to the shouts and roars of the crazy people in the cell/room next to you) it’s a reminder that I have CF and will always have it for the rest of my life.

When I do have to go in some people say things like “I wish I could get a few weeks off work!” or “Think of all the boxsets you can watch!”. Now I fully understand they mean no malice with their words and the last time I was in I did ingest A LOT of GBBO but I still despise the place. Hospital can feel overwhelmingly lonely despite the fact there are nurses, doctors, physios, dieticians, cleaners, social workers and visitors in and out all day long from 6am to 12am. It’s great to be in my jammies all day but I would much rather be at home complaining about a day at work.

While I have already fallen once this autumn (I’m writing this from my couch and my surroundings are something akin to a drug den), having the day off feeling lousy started me thinking of all the wee remedies we have here for the cold. Living in a damp climate means that most of us will catch whatever fun things are going round and although buying painkillers or cough mixtures over the counter can be a quick fix, it can also be expensive. I’ve listed a few things I like to try out in desperation and old remedies that I’ve been taught over the years.

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Hot Ginger Tea

Ginger is great for inflammation which causes that whole blocked up feeling you get. My head feels about 20 tonnes at the moment so this is something I like to turn to to help get a bit of a relief. All you need to do is grate a few tablespoons of ginger and add hot boiling water, lemon juice, honey and cinnamon. I like to leave the ginger to stew a wee while to get a good kick of flavour.

Steam Bowl

Nothing reminds me of childhood ailments than sitting at the table with a towel over my head and a bowl under me with Vicks Vapour Rub dissolved in water so hot it felt like your face was melting. When I would come up for air I’d be shouted at because it wouldn’t work – darling memories! What works just as well is about 10-15 drops of tea tree or eucalyptus essential oil in hot water which clears out those sinuses – just keep the bowl underneath you for the drippiness.

Hot Whisky

This is a drink I look forward to if I’m sick or not but it’s a great tonic for a sore throat or a crappy Wednesday. I throw about 50mls of Jameson’s whisky in to a mug along with a slice of lemon, teaspoon of honey, a cinnamon stick and 3 cloves and that’s it! You’ve got yourself a PJ cocktail party. Just go easy because no one needs to be sick and suffer a hangover.

Garlic

My Grandpa Francie was a great advocate for the benefits of garlic and took garlic tablets regularly. It’s nicknamed as the Russian penicillin for its healing properties but it’s also really great for the heart too. You can take it crushed with some hot water if you fancy or you can buy the tablets if you’re a lazy Susan.

 

One last tip though is to always have yourself stocked up! Make sure to have all the goods you need ready for the mornings you wake up feeling like a half of a human by gathering the essentials at your next grocery shop. You’ll thank yourself later!!

 

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Good luck to all of you this autumn! Wrap up and stay at least 50 metres from just about everyone you meet and you’ll be just fine 🙂