That time of year….

The season to be jolly, is now upon us, but is it all twinkles and sparkles?

I took this picture yesterday. It is one of Brown Thomas’s windows in Dublin City. You will see the writing at the bottom left says ‘possibilities’. To me there is drama in the photo, a space woman and her space pod surrounded by baubles or mini planets, but isn’t she fabulous. The possibilities for her starting somewhere new, starting something new, are endless, if she is brave enough to try.

At this time of year, as Christmas approaches, we may all take time to reflect on the year behind us. The hopes and dreams that were realised, the gains and the losses we have experienced, the paths we did not intend to take, but took nevertheless and the new goals and wishes we intend to set for ourselves as we step into the next new year.

I love the idea of Christmas. I love the twinkle and sparkle of the lights, the decorations, the shop windows, the excitement of children looking forward to Santa. The reality of Christmas though, is often a stark contrast what we perceive it to be or believe it should be.

As I walked along the streets in Dublin, where decorations adorned the buildings, cardboard and makeshift beds, with damp sleeping bags lay in an alcove, or by a railing, tucked to the side, to be used later in the day and night.

Where some people were busking and demonstrating their many talents, others were sitting, despondent and defeated, holding out a cup, in the hope of getting a few coins.

I wondered where both cohorts would sleep that night. How warm, how comfortable, how joyous or how full of dread they would be, heading into the Festive season or whether it would be just another day rolling into the other for them.

It is a season of conflict, a season of extremes. For some children there will be no Santa on Christmas morning, no food, no comfort, no warmth, but instead deep sadness, loneliness, perhaps fear and despair and wondering why Santa had again, forgotten about them and not called to their home.

Each year many children telephone Childline, for numerous different reasons and this is a critical support for children of all ages. Most of Childline’s funding comes from fundraising and donations from the generosity of ordinary people like you and me. I once organised a fundraiser for them and raised almost a thousand euro, and the event I organised was fun and interactive and the people who came had a great time and were very generous with their donations.

Barnardos, the ISPCC, Make a wish, Jack and Jill to name but a few more charities that actively support disadvantaged and sick children, could not do it without the help and generosity of us, joe blogs, by donating money, goods, our time etc etc. The possibilities are endless when we come together, seek out, dig deep and remember that so many of us are more fortunate than others, and at this time of year, especially, seek out what can we do to help those less fortunate.

Times are tough, and some people may just want a listening ear, or a call to see if they are OK. Christmas is, after all, about giving. Even giving someone a hug or a compliment can make their day.

It may be someone’s first Christmas without a loved one, and they may be struggling with that, knowing their future will never be quite the same. I understand that feeling, having lost my dad and best friend withing 6 months of each other. It is tough. What can we do for people who have suffered loss? We can just try to be kind and understanding and offer hope and our presence, that is often the best present someone can receive.

Like the spacewomen entering her new phase, starting out somewhere new, or something new, it doesn’t have to feel or be hopeless, it can be hopeful, exciting, curious, but it has to start with what she will seek out, what she will try, what she will surrender to and what she can offer. It is often in the offering and giving, that the greatest joy is felt.

Photo by Kat Smith on

‘Good will to all men (women and children)’, is the best way for ‘the season to be jolly’. We cannot fix everyone’s problems, but for those of us who can, we should try to give what we can to those who need it most.

Happy holidays!


How we take this form of writing for granted. We do it without thinking. It is quick, instant and can land near and far in a nano second. It can be swiped, discarded, deleted and forgotten about at the flick of a button. This is text!

Photo by Lady Escabia on

Since time began what connects us with each other is communication. Before text, communication came in different forms such as symbols, drawings, paintings, dancing, smoke signals or different sounds.

We have always managed to find a way to communicate and have evolved so that each nation has their own written word and language and communication has become much easier to read and translate.

When mobile phones first appeared and became the most sought after device in almost every house hold, we learned a new way to communicate; TXT. Abbreviated from Text. It was the new order, the fashion, the new next big thing. Words were shortened and abbreviated all the time, so a new form of language evolved, like LOL, BRB, FML, BFF and our fingers and thumbs worked at quick speed to send txt to our fiends and families and everyone else.

Social Media came next and a whole new degree of communication was possible. But, with all this evolving of communication and txt, something went missing and is almost extinct, because we have been so progressive in moving forward. The art of letter writing. The only letters most of us get these days are perhaps hospital appointments, bills, summonses (perish the thought) and maybe a post card when on holiday.

Friends and families send txts to eachother, thousands every day, and it is a great facility. It works at quick speed and is instant and we would be lost without it. But, I do find it sad, that me included, do not send letters, written on note paper, popped into an envelope, stamped and sent to our nearest and dearest. It is sad, because it is a record, a physical record of not only the text contained, but the art of seeing and recognising the senders handwriting, whether good or bad or illegible!

I sent a letter to my daughter who worked during the summer at a camp in Canada. I wrote her a couple of letters, rather than only sending txts and emails, because, I wanted her to have something arrive in the post that she could open and read at the end of the day, and keep it safe somewhere, so that when she is an old woman and I am not here, she can open that letter and be transported back to her summer in Canada.

I have a stack of letters from my youth, from when I moved from the UK to Ireland. My friends and I only had letter writing to stay in touch. I kept my letters, and to this day, they are so precious to me because I can be transported back to my youth, laugh at the tales of woe and glee contained in the letters. I can see the post mark on the envelope denoting the date. Feelings and emotions rise up in me as I hold and read the text and it feels like treasure in my hands and brings warmth to my heart.

I am not saying we should go back to only letter writing, but I am saying, we should reintroduce it, don’t let it become extinct. Send someone you love a letter, the old fashioned way and I bet you will get a surprising txt back saying how wonderful it was to receive it!

My father…

My Father

I never thought about him being vain or conceited

Proud yes

In his work, in his family, in his faith

He wanted for nothing, except that his line be happy

A man that wandered as a child over cliffs and strand

But never learned to swim

It didn’t bother him

For he would run

Over sand and grass, field and bog

Catching waves, catching breath, catching ball

with a hurl in one hand and a sliotar in the other

what luxury this simplicity was

for a boy who walked three long miles to school bare foot

paying no heed to distance or time 

counting rhythm and beat of the mooing and bleating

of cows and sheep

crows and curlew over – head crooned their symphony

and on his 12th summer, books and pencils were exchanged

 now it was time to pick up the shovel, the pitch fork, the mantle

and work the land until he too could fly south for the winter

and migrate for a different labour

Soon the sea would carry him to foreign shores and foreign places 

The sound of the cattle replaced with the sounds of the traffic

The hum of the curlew exchanged for the drumming of the drill

Leather now cover the soles of his feet  

pressing down on pedals and pulling on levers in his JCB 

the pull of home tugging at his heart strings

my father, and thousands like him, come rain or shine, built the English motorways.

A stab in the dark….

Modern medicine saves so many lives, increases our life span, but sometimes we need to trust in the alternatives and ‘give them a shot’. To listen to our body and try to get to the route cause of every day irritations than can impact and cause us major problems on a daily basis.

Photo by cottonbro on

We put a lot of trust in other people such as, experts, professionals, doctors etc. The other night I was woken up with the most unusual pain in my abdomen that slowly grew worse and worse, a real stabbing pain that was gripping the entire, of my now very swollen tummy. I often suffer with bloating. Apparently I have the worst bloating my consultant has ever seen in 35 years, but it never came with pain. IBS. That is what he said I had a good few years ago now, when I was referred to him, and he told me I was to cut out certain foods which ‘I THOUGHT’ might trigger it. It was a case of trial and error, but I never quite seemed to master it!

I woke up another day, also a few years ago with the most horrendous pain in the center of my chest, which spread across my entire chest. I rang the consultant. ‘Its just your IBS’ he said. ‘No, No No’ I said, this is something different, there is pain its a different sensation’ I continued. I could sense his irritation coming down the phone. ‘What do you want to do’ he asked….Isn’t he supposed to suggest what ought to be done, I thought? ‘Well’ I said ‘I think you ought to maybe put a camera down or up or somewhere to see what is causing the pain’. He had an opening a few days later in his diary and I snapped it up.

‘You have to sedate me’ I said ‘otherwise I will gag and you will never get that tube down my throat’. I know he thought I was being ‘precious’ but I know my gag reflex. He agreed, reluctantly.

I was unaware of it all, thank goodness, and when I woke up my other half was patiently waiting beside the bed, bored to tears most probably as these things do tend to go on! The consultant finally came to see me, pulled the curtain around so he could talk in private. That makes me smile, because of course you can hear everything going on the other side of any curtain! Anyway, its a gesture I suppose. ‘Well’ he said,’ I have to apologise, you have an olympic sized ulcer on your duodenum. No wonder you were in pain’ he smiled as he showed me an image of my said olympic sized ulcer…. delightful! Prescription at the ready and follow the instructions and all will be good, adios amigos….

Fast forward to the other night, the stab in the dark, that I could have done without. There I was pacing the room like a woman in labour, swollen to the point of a woman in labour about to give birth execpt there was no baby. Just enormous swelling and pain. Was it my ulcer again, was it my IBS or was it my rare cyst?

Cyst, what cyst I hear you say. Oh yes, I also have a rare mesenteric cyst in my abdomen, behind my intestines and right beside my aorta, the shape of a hot water bottle! A fancy cyst, not your normal circular ones!

This too, was caught or diagnosed quite by accident. I was having what I thought was kidney pain and was eventually sent to a urologist. Who couldn’t find anything wrong who sent me to someone else who on first sighting couldn’t find anything wrong who sent me back to the urologist who sent me for an ultrasound….

‘Voila, there is something there, but I don’t know what it is’ the Doctor said. He needed to consult with other professionals and consultants and would get back to me.

I got the call whilst giving a facial to a client (this was in my Beauty Therapy days, when I used to be a beauty therapist, one of my many,many jobs) anyway, I digress. I could hear my phone buzzing and was berating myself for not turning the phone to silent. Once I put the mask on my client, I left the room to let her relax, to let the mask work its magic and to see who kept calling me.

It was the consultant. ‘You have a rare cyst, a mesenteric cyst’ he said but I sensed apprehension in his voice. It is hot water bottle shaped, behind your intestines and beside the aorta. You will have to come down to get it drained. I have never come across one of these in the 30 years that I have been a doctor, he continued…. mmmm I have heard that before I thought!

That was also a good few years ago now and I carry on, as you do with life, hoping the pesky little thing will just remain quiet and not give me any bother. So, you see my dilema, the other night whilst, rocking on the bed, pacing the floor and wondering if morning would ever come so that I could go see a doctor and figure out what was going on. Was it my cyst, my ulcer or my IBS, was it all three deciding to rock up together and give me a hard time…….

The lovely Doctor saw me, performed an ECG (to be sure that the old ticker was behaving itself), he wrote a prescription for pain killers, tablets to take down the swelling and tablets treat any ulcer that might be there. He then wrote a letter for A & E for a CAT scan, should my condition stay the same after taking the meds, in case it was in fact, the cyst.

‘It could be an ulcer, it could be your cyst, it could be the IBS, OR, he continued, it could be gall stones! Wait, what, gallstones….. hell no, not something else to be joining the party in there I thought, feeling very despondent.

The tablets eased the situation so I didn’t bother going to A & E to sit with possible covid patients for 12 hours. I thought about the alternatives. I googled, dieticicians, Nutritionists, Hebalists etc until I came across Kinesihealth… Kinesiologist….. I really felt that if it was the IBS or indeed the ulcer, or indeed gall stones, aren’t they triggered by diet? so instead of treating the symptom, I wanted to get to the bottom of the cause of all this pain and bloating. The Cyst? well, there is nothing I can do about that, that just appeared, perhaps had been there since birth an no one knew, but food wouldn’t disturb it.

I had to take a stab in the dark here and try the alternative. So I headed off to see the Kinesiologist a couple of days later. We chatted, talked symptoms, talked previous medical history, talked about stress…. sure I have stress this year, a move, 2 significant deaths and my other half having a significant operation to deal with. We all know stress can affect the body.

She pops me on the the treatment couch I raise my arm, my leg, I press against her arm and she’s checking my muscle reaction I think. She taps here and there, and places a jar by my neck, puts something in it and this rotation happens for quite some time. All the while she is saying, yes, ah OK, yes, great, etc etc.

The diagnosis is that my body is totally intolerant to Gluten and Dairy and completely overloaded. I have to take her word for it. She is the expert. She is the professional and I am open to try new methods of medicine. She makes up a concoction of Bach flower remedy for my emotional state to help heal and calm my internal state. Prescribes a digestive enzyme and some liquid zinc with the promise of sending on a list of food products which are gluten and dairy free.

I can’t do any harm can it, to give it a try? What have I got to lose. But all I can think of is how wonderful it would be, if for once, we could get to the bottom of all this bloating, the indigestion, the fluctuating bowel movements.

Don’t get me wrong. We need medical doctors and I will continue to visit mine and I will now ask for him to refer me for my CAT scan, just to make sure the old rare cyst doesn’t need draining. Sometimes, though, instead of relying on medication to treat symptoms, isn’t it better that we try to find out the route cause of the problem and treat that?

Some people say they are quaks, but remember this. Long before Medical schools and medical doctors, we had alternative healers, like homeopaths, chinese medicine, witch doctors. Didn’t our own grandmothers treat us with salves and balms and poultices for different ailments from herbs and leaves and bread and all sorts of foraging.

Even in the Salon, I would often tell my clients to make their own home made masks. Pineapple for example, on the skin is great for exfoliation, provides vitamin c. Its great for sun damage and uneven skin tone. Just lay a piece of gauze over your face, then on top of that lay some fresh pineapple and a bit of the juice, lay back for 10 minutes and wash off feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Oats, eggs, honey, strawberries, cucumber to name but a few more, all natural, all have healing benefits when placed on the skin and hair. They do the job that a salon manufactured mask would do, so I think these alternative practitioners know their craft and have as much of a place in helping to heal our bodies as our medical doctors do.

Wish me luck….. Gluten and dairy free, here I come!


We get through time, somehow, after loss. This too shall pass, they say, and the intensity and immediacy of it does fade, but the feeling of loss and grief stays and reminders are what keeps us going through each new day that we have without them in this world….. blessed to have known you….. for Jackie

“like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in time of sorrow”

Robert Louis Stevenson
Photo by Pixabay on

At some stage in our lives we all have to experience loss. Loss of a relationship, loss of money, material things, loss of a loved one. Many many years ago when I was courting, my now husband, I broke off our relationship. He was very upset and so was I at the time, but I just felt that the time wasn’t right. Someone said to him ‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’. He told me this when we got back together.

Throughout our lives we have many different types of relationships with family, friends, partners, teachers, work colleagues etc, each with varying depths and ties of commitment, love and connection. Sometimes it is easy to break the ties and other times it is very difficult, impossible even. Some ties will never be broken, whether the person is here or not. So we must count ourselves very lucky when we are able to say ‘Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all’. Loving some one and feeling love is just the most precious gift and one to treasure forever and be thankful for.

Having lost my dear friend one year ago today, I am thankful for the years we had together as friends, like sisters, thankful for the experiences we shared and the memories that linger on, to keep her alive. This post, is for her…….


The many times I reach for the phone, then realise

No, no now

As I take the milk carton from the fridge and in bold writing the ‘use by’ date

Is that specific date

A wasp as it weaves its way in my direction, like it’s on a mission

Reminds of you running and screaming down the isle of the bus to avoid it’s sting

When the person next to me orders a J D and Coke at the bar

When I see a Sainsbury’s bag, ad, Next, River Island or Karen Millen Label

All signs

A packet of Benson and Hedges, Marlboro Menthol, Vapes

Reminds me of players No.6 and us getting suspended from school for smoking on the bus

And having cigarettes on our person

Oh how we howled with laughter

Vaseline cream and cotton wool to take off your make up and moisturise

how you swore by it

Progressing to Lancôme, Miss Dior and any brand of lipstick, so long as the colour was right

Sunbeds, sun bathing and prickly heat

Strong tea, strong coffee and bacon ribs

Dundalk, Coventry, Nuneaton and South Carolina

Place names remain, all reminders of you

Every time I walk through my front door and your photo is there to greet me

Every pic or meme I post on Facebook, the absence of your like, emoji or comment

Reminds me of that empty space

Laughing, crying, celebrations and times of sadness

My mind transports to you

Every time I see two old ladies, talking, laughing, sitting together

My future longs for you

In the noise and the silence, every morning and the last thing at night

All reminders of you

The staghorn tree in rich rust red, standing prominent and tall

Planted in memory of you

Laughing eyes and a bright white smile

A plethora of ordinary things will continue to, thankfully,

remind me of you.

24/03/1965 – 23/09/2021

For my best friend, my sister from another mister, my heart and my thanks

Mutability [“The flower that smiles to-day”]


The flower that smiles to-day

          To-morrow dies;

All that we wish to stay

          Tempts and then flies.

What is this world’s delight?

Lightning that mocks the night,

          Brief even as bright.

   Virtue, how frail it is!

          Friendship how rare!

Love, how it sells poor bliss

          For proud despair!

But we, though soon they fall,

Survive their joy, and all

          Which ours we call.

   Whilst skies are blue and bright,

          Whilst flowers are gay,

Whilst eyes that change ere night

          Make glad the day;

Whilst yet the calm hours creep,

Dream thou—and from thy sleep

          Then wake to weep.

Safe place….

A child has no say in the family it is born to and when that family break downs, it has no say it the family it is placed with, when he/she goes into care. Imagine how terribly sad and frightening that must be for them. Fostering a child is both rewarding and challenging, but so badly needed. Foster carers are in short supply so if ever you were toying with the idea, go for it. Give a child a chance………

Photo by Brett Sayles on

Imagine leaving home and all you know which is familiar to you and not know where you are going or when you are going back. Imagine being told you have to stay there now. Imagine being 7 years old.

Imagine your child, your niece, cousin, grand daughter, friend…. imagine if it were them that had to leave. Isn’t that just the saddest thing to imagine. In that situation you would at least hope, that they would be happy, safe, cared for and loved…..

As a foster carer, I have looked after 13 children for various duration and various reasons and I would hope that they all feel that they were safe, cared for and loved. As a foster carer I know I put my and heart and soul into them, to take care of them and keep them safe.

This is a poem I wrote about the journey, a sample if you like, of what it must be like for the child……


A door stands between them, white pvc

Nothing extraordinary, just a typical front door

She is small.  Blonde hair and big blue eyes

barely seen as her fringe lays a screen over them

Her shoulders raised, tort and tense, almost

Touching her ears

Nerves and fear swimming around every cell

In her little body

Politely she whispers ‘hello’

As she crosses the threshold  

The door closes behind her

It takes a village they say, to raise a child

Soon they would find out

Small steps and quiet voices, calm

Kind, encouraging, acknowledging,

Knowing and Pausing

Curiosity unites them both

Of what the other is like

What the other likes and doesn’t like

Inquisitively, she wanders from room to room

Gently she touches the surfaces of inanimate objects

Observing her demeanour there is something

Soothing about her, but also something

Akin to sadness

And as it seeps from her it connects the two

Together, and so the bond is formed

A sense of permitting the arm of trust to reach out

And be held

Gradually the shield around her

That guards her

drops down

And so too do her shoulders

One day, many years from this one

She is able to shout and protest and make

Noise and scream and punch and stomp

And laugh and cry

Knowing it is safe to do so

She is safe in this place

That this place is her home

Like plasticine, they have moulded to the ways

Of the other

They have integrated, assimilated and absorbed

The others’ disposition

They understand and know

That when the day comes for her to leave

They will still love

They will still care

They will still be open

and the door will revolve

For the bond is resolute


The thing to do is to ‘not expect’, for it is really a folly and foolish to believe that just because we expect it, that it will be…..

Unexpectatations meaning ‘Absence of expectation; want of foresight

“Expectation is the root of all heartache”

William Shakespeare

This time last year we were getting ready to close the sale on our new house.  In just a few days’ time the deal would complete and we could collect our keys and finally be ‘home owners’ again.

Actually it was quite nice for the short time that we weren’t home owners.  It was great having so much money in the bank from the sale of our house in the July, just sitting there waiting, making the bank balance look lovely and healthy.  For a while, we could feel rich, well, money rich.

We were getting a little nervous because the other half was scheduled for major heart surgery a couple of weeks later.  We planned to go away for the week-end.  A nice relaxing spa break in a hotel set on the shores of Co. Sligo. 

It had been a rollercoaster of a year, him getting sick unexpectedly, provoking the decision to sell up, moving away from our family and friends and heading to the North East, but we took it in our stride.  The spa break was just what the doctor ordered.  Good quality time together, relaxing, being pampered before he had to face into the enormity of his operation.

We went up on the Saturday and were booked in for two nights then off to the Agents in Leitrim to pick up the keys to our new house on the Monday.  We were both so excited.

The excitement was short lived and soon replaced with utter shock and fear.  One of my dearest and longest friends, who was like a sister to me, received a devastating terminal diagnosis that her cancer had returned.

The next days occurred in a blur and was further hampered by the fact that she lived so far away in the USA and I could not get over to see her because of Covid and because in a just over a week’s time, my other half needed to go ‘under the knife’.

I would go see her, just as soon as I knew he was over his operation….

We picked up the keys as arranged on the Monday, but there was no excitement, no sense of joy for me as I turned the key in the door, knowing, my dear friend, would probably never get to visit this new home after all.  She had been planning to come the following month, but that prospect was looking very grim.

A new sensation also fell over me – what if he doesn’t make it.  What if the operation is not a success?  What if he is one of the percentage that dies during the procedure.

Very quickly you realise, that no matter what money is or isn’t in the bank, making you look or feel rich, it is of no real consequence at all.  The richness in our lives are the people in it, those that we love and cherish.

Ten days later, my husband had made it successfully through his operation and was in intensive care on his road to recovery. 

I came back from the hospital to the hotel I was staying in as his operation was in a county, three hours from where we were living.  I was feeling relieved and happy that he had gotten through it and happy to know that he should make a good recovery.

That same evening I had my final face time with my dying friend. Somehow, she knew she would go that night and arranged with her family to have me there too, one last time, to say our goodbyes. 

There would be no flights to America to see her, to comfort her or give her a hug.  There was only a screen between us but thousands of miles apart.  This was social media at its finest.  It allowed me to be with her, when I physically could not be with her, and I am so grateful for that.  So grateful that I could tell her I loved her, thank her for her friendship and wish her a safe and calm passage and that I would miss her.

I cherish that face time and I play it over and over again in my mind, every day since the day she died.  I still mourn her, cry for her, grieve her.  I talk to her every day.  I talk about her, every day.  I laugh about some of the things we did or said or got up to and I cherish her and the memories of her.

Yesterday, Queen Elizabeth II died.  What a very sad day and also a shock, as we had watched only two days prior, to her greeting the new Prime Minister.  Isn’t it funny, how we just take things for granted?  Sure, we knew one day the Queen would die, but certainly not now, this week, this month or even what’s left of this year.

I certainly hadn’t expected Jackie to die either quite the contrary.

Now, as we edge nearer to her one-year anniversary I can’t help but feel a renewed sadness, not for me, but for the Royal family.  I can grieve and mourn in private.  Even earlier this year when my dad died, unexpectedly, whilst my daughter and family were visiting with me, I could carry on for them, but step out of the room when I needed to cry.

When I think of Charles now and the rest of the Royal family, who so publicly must carry on with their duty and service, I think how sad it is that they cannot simply step out of the room to have a cry, or curl up in bed for a day, or two or a week, to mourn the loss of their mother, grandmother, great grandmother.  They have to plough on. 

Though death will come to us all and we must all experience loss, those public figures that often get slated, one way or another for whatever reasons, are still human beings with feelings.  I feel so sad for them that they must put on a brave face, and carry on regardless, much as the Queen did when she lost her husband last year.  I have nothing but respect for their loss and their hidden suppressed grief, in the name of duty and service, and hope that the people and the world will be kind to them….

The light

Sometimes, It is difficult being the one ‘in charge’ whatever you may be ‘in charge’ of. It will court controversy, create divisions and even dissent in the camp, but one thing is for sure, some will agree with it and some won’t. Some will agree with some of it, and some won’t agree with any of it…..That is the grey area…..

Photo by Dids on

Life is simple, it’s just not easy – that is how this blog got its name. On the face of it, things should be simple. Basic human needs, our right to have our basic needs met, but, it’s not that easy. Why? Because we want more than just basic human rights, and is the driving force, for good and for bad.

They say money is the route of all evil, but so too, can be power. The powerful can do good and do bad at the same time. To have ‘power over’ is to control, to manage, to take care, to take advantage.

It’s a matter of perspective. Its a matter of which side of the fence you are on. It’s a matter of giving and taking. It’s a matter of enabling or disabling. It’s a coin of two sides. Some are winners, some are losers.

Its a matter of East versus West, North versus South. Tradition and Culture, giving and taking. There are obstacles and solutions to everything, but everything can not be managed in the same way, at the same time. Everything is not fair or equal and I doubt it ever will be.

Today we can be on this side of the fence, experiencing and be influenced by whatever it is we are experiencing and being influenced by. Tomorrow, the opposite could be true. The tables can turn, the balance can be tipped, but we each have our own part to play in all of it. No matter how big or small, we, humankind, mankind, have a part to play.

There is justice in the world and there is unfairness and injustice. People change, laws change, policies change, the climate changes. There are those far left, those right wing and those in the middle.

The poor, the rich the hungry and the dying. We are all victims of our own circumstance, of where we were born, to whom we were born, what traditions we follow, what side of the world, what culture then ultimately, what choices we make for ourselves.

Whatever our opinions, which of course we can have and have a right to, we cannot and will not, please all of the people all of the time…….

It is all an impossible contradiction….

Contradiction …..

I am strong

I am weak

Standing tall

On my knees

I am hungry

I am stuffed

I am nothing

I am enough

I am energised

I am weary

I am fun

I am dreary

I am laughing

I am crying

I am living

I am dying

I am bent

I am straight

I am early

I am late

I am happy

I am sad

I am good

I am bad

I am hot

I am cold

I am quiet

I am bold

I am a coward

I am brave

I am free

I am a slave

I am right

I am wrong

I fit in

I don’t belong

I am woman

I am man

I am saved

I am dammed

I am peace

I am war

I am rich

I am poor

I am fat

I am thin

I am pure

I am sin

I am tall

I am small

I know nothing

I know it all

I am bright

I am dull

I am empty

I am full

I am difficult

I am easy

I am contrary

I am pleasing

I am here

I am there

I love too much

I don’t care

I am black

I am white

I am blind

I see the light

Empty Nest….

authors own… nothing to see here!

I couldn’t wait for it. I was ready for it… empty nest that is. After 32 years of being the parent to all the children, I was ready to be just me and just us (me and him). During the 32 years of still being hands on parenting, we also became grandparents to 4 little lovelies….our wonderful grandchildren, so it was pretty much a revolving door kind of house that we lived in.

When we moved away, 8 months ago now, to this new area, 3 hours away from our now grown up children and the semi departed child (living away and in college), it was an exciting new adventure for us.

At first it was busy, busy busy. The other half was recovering from open heart surgery, I was dealing with a significant bereavement and trying to organise our new house and get our furniture etc transported up after the decorating was done.

We enjoyed the ‘newness’ of the new house, the new surroundings, the peace and quiet and discovering new people and places.

Somewhere along the way though came some pretty big lows amongst the highs. Was the holiday period over? What happened to make the cracks appear?

I could sense something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly. I decided to get a new job, part time. That gave me a new focus. A new way to meet people and a new purpose in my week to ‘fill the gap’. It soon became my little bit of sunshine.

What empty nest showed me, or magnified to me, was that all that noise and doing, and to-ing and fro-ing and sorting was part of who I am as a person and suddenly, what was left was a gaping hole.

We suddenly became him and me and as much as we each had our own hobbies and were happy for the other to participate in said hobbies, I noticed a distinct lack of conversation. I mean real chatty conversation. Sure there was chatter, at certain times of the day, but not much.

I was quietly dealing with my grief, when slap bang in the middle of that I unexpectedly lost my father too. It was like another belt in the stomach. I could feel myself retreat.

When you are married there are things you love about each other and there are things you do not like about each other. During my low times I really didn’t like those things that I didn’t like in the first place, even more. I had no tolerance, no motivation, no space to deal with the things I did not like.

Sometimes it is easier to withdraw, make yourself absent and not engage in conversation at all, especially when you feel weary.

I would be and am thankful for lots of things in my life, but sometimes the effort required to carry on, along a road that is very bumpy, is very difficult. But that is exactly what is required…..Effort, Determination, Motivation.

Everyone needs a little bit of sunshine to cheer them up and help them through the tough days. Life seems easier when the sun is shining.

I have experienced a year that involved two significant deaths, a house move, a serious life threatening operation of my other half and empty nest. Was I foolish to think that I could sail through it all, without there being some lows? I think I was.

I am a strong person, but there were times over this last couple of months that I wanted to throw the towel in and start again, on my own. Be on my own, Completely. Not because I don’t love my other half, but because I just needed time to find myself again, as me, a person.

So, I took a holiday without him. I also took a holiday away with him and was able and determined to tell him how I was feeling about everything. Told him how the things I don’t like about him, impacted me, how that just because I am not wailing and crying everyday, doesn’t mean I am not grieving. I just grieve in my own quiet way. I was able to have a conversation with him about the conversations we should be having.

I was able to say that I was afraid that the empty nest exposed what was left and wasn’t sure if we were enough, if we didn’t put the effort in to each other, to reconnect with each other, appreciate each other, understand each other, because along the way of being parents, the children and child rearing dilute the family dynamic.

I have no desire to want a house full of children, but when they come to visit and stay a few days, I love it. We love it. We get to spend good quality time with them, treat them and the grand children and enjoy our time together, but what is also very important, is to spend good quality time with each other, not take the other for granted and understand how we impact on each other with what we do or don’t say and with what we do or don’t do.

Sometimes it is like climbing a mountain and you think you will never get to the top and other times, it is like sailing on the breeze without a ripple. I guess that is the balance.

Habits are easily made and hard to break. It is easy to become complacent and take things and people for granted, but sometimes, you just have to rock that boat, break the bad habits, and look out to a new horizon with fresh eyes and motivation.

Happy empty nest everyone……… Do not expect plain sailing and learn to ride the storm…..

Mullaghgarve Mass Rock, Co. Leitrim

“your child’s life will be filled with fresh experiences. It’s good if yours is as well”

Dr. Margaret Rutherford