Don’t let me into this year with an empty heart…

Hello and Happy New Year to followers and readers of LLL <3

I’ve said it on Instagram this morning but I am, perhaps typically, wholly unprepared for 2014! I hadn’t gotten used to writing ’2013′ yet when it was whisked away.

I turned over my very hungry caterpillar calendar (with reward chart) this morning and am vaguely pondering what this very space-agey sounding year will bring.

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Foyle Hospice charity Annual Female Walk/Run June 2013.

In 2013 I turned 24. I’m struggling to remember the former part of the year, just I was getting increasingly antsy in my job, after more than a year re-working there after university. After a conversation or two, I started seriously thinking about Journalism. At the end of August (was that really only 4 months ago) I took a chance and left my job. I accepted a place studying for NCTJ Journalism.

It’s been very challenging to say the least. I was SO lucky to get a placement with a very prestigious local Newspaper and I have been there on Fridays since November. Well apart from my holidays. This is the first Christmas I have had a proper break of more than two days in six years or so. It’s great.

Highlights of my work placement have been interviewing a Holocaust Survivor who lives in Ireland, the wonderful Tomi Reichental. Being trusted with interviewing four people who work at Christmas which gave me the chance to meet so many interesting people. Some of these are here. I was particularly touched by Paul who volunteers with Foyle Search and Rescue, preventing suicide and saving lives along the river in the city.

And – phone interviewing Josh Ritter! It was very unexpected and more than a little cringy but it had me on a high for ages. Just in case you’re interested, here it is.

I have also passed my first Teeline Shorthand exam, 60 wpm. I am hoping to get to 100 wpm before the end of the year to reach the Gold Standard.

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Derry/Londonderry/Legenderry being crowned UK City of Culture for 2013 has been transformative and amazing for my home town. I keep coming across the pink tickets and smiling at all the events. From the hopefulness of the huge fireworks display at 20:13 last New Years Eve, Sons and Daughters Concert, The Fleadh, The Walled City Tattoo, Music Promise, Music City, all the visiting acts: I saw Elvis Costello, Rokia Traore, and of course Josh Ritter, One Big Weekend (I’m not bitter about not getting tickets), and then magical events such as The Return of Colmcille and a major highlight Lumiere.

It’s been special, the city has been basking in it, and has never looked better. It was also an excellent year to begin a Journalism course! There is a lot of work on keeping a Legacy and I sincerely hope that the magic continues for many years.

I’ve had many personal lows, thank goodness my family are well and there has been no tragedy. Sometimes my path just gets so lost. I’m thankful I have so many people close to me that I trust and can bend their ear if I need to. I just hope they don’t think I’m crazy.

A good friend went off to Australia to fulfil a life long dream in April, and in August I took a chance and met an internet friend Miss G from Edinburgh for a weekend in Belfast and it was wonderful.

Book-wise I haven’t read as much, highlights I can think of are Kate Atkinson ‘Life After Life’, Matt Haig ‘The Humans’ and I’m the middle of ‘The End of your Life Book Club’ by Will Schwalbe. Abbye sent me the emotional and beautifully illustrated ‘The Gifts of the Magi’ by O Henry a Christmas story I had never read.

The day after boxing day I attended the wedding of a childhood friend. I enjoyed it so much. It was a wonderful, love-filled day and it was good to see so many faces again.

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The usual sense of hope I feel in a new year is slightly escaping me, but I’m waiting for it to return. I do feel on the brink. May good things be just around the corner for us all. My blog was created to keep me writing while I did the day job, now that I am doing a lot of writing it’s getting a bit neglected. I’d love to keep it up a bit more regularly in 2014. Inspired by my friend Caoimhe, maybe I will have a thankfulness box this year. Write down everything positive or that I am grateful for on itty bitty pieces of paper.  Since reading A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp I’ve wanted to do this in notebook form but maybe this is a good compromise. I am a blessed girl.

writing this has calmed me some. It’s my Daddy’s 49th Birthday today and my Mum is preparing us a big dinner. I will go down and join them soon. I’m listening to Disney’s ‘Frozen’ soundtrack and wishing you a very Happy New Year, and as Josh Ritter once signed my record, may all the finest things find you. Thank you for reading.

“Don’t let me into this year with an empty heart…” Josh Ritter

Humble Christmas – But not yet!

Oh my wee blog. You’re sorely neglected and I miss you lots and lots. Much like the friends and family who’ve become even more neglected since I started being all studenty journalisty.

I want to do an update soon on how everything is going, from my double page spread in the Sunday Journal yesterday, to my first Vox Pop on Friday, oh horror, and how the old Tee line is going.

But for now, I just wanted to give my nearest and dearest this Christmas message/warning. As you all know, I have for now given up employment in my pursuit of my all-consuming journalism course. Therefore I have much less money to play about with this year, and when I ever get around to buying presents they will just be small ‘tokens.’

I’m a wee bit skint but I certainly don’t love you any less, and this just seemed the easiest way to get it out there. I’m very sorry about this. 

If I was crafty I would knit or fashion you something beautiful, but alas. Maybe some day. I dropped into the annual Christmas Craft Fair in the Guildhall here in Derry yesterday and the gorgeousness was overwhelming. Actually, I haven’t written a letter in a long time. (I’m so sorry Abbye!) So if anyone wants to do this, with or without a little present, that would be nice? Christmas letters! 

Above the Craft Fair in the beautiful Guildhall at the weekend.

Above the Craft Fair in the beautiful Guildhall at the weekend.

So anyway, if you were thinking of buying me something just keep it small, or text me and say we are boycotting presents this year. I love giving presents so I don’t want to give it up, I just need to kick the habit of giving one person five things because one didn’t seem enough. 

We’re hoping for a job for my Dad soon. It’s been very difficult for him, but he’s a man of faith. I’m very proud of him. My Mum says we are having a ‘humble Christmas.’ We all are. And it will be lovely. 

Um, what are you doing with that reindeer Santa?

Um, what are you doing with that reindeer Santa?

Six Strings and Stigma

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The Clarendon Street Beacon Centre presents…
CD launch of the “Six Strings & Stigma” project.

14 Stories and 14 Songs – all penned by local artists. Featuring songs by:

Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas • Little Hooks feat. Tillie & Henderson • Declan Mc Laughlin • The Ard Ri Band feat. Roy Arbuckle • The Wood Burning Savages • Teknopeasant • The Murder Balladeers • Jeanette Hutton • Tracy Cullen • Tara Gi • The Gatefolds • We Are Aerials Intermission • John Deery and the Heads

‘Six Strings and Stigma,’ delivered by the Beacon Centre and supported by the Public Health Agency (PHA), captured the experiences of individuals with enduring mental health needs. They presented their stories to local songwriters such as Paddy Nash, John Deery, Declan McLaughlin, Little Hooks and Eamon Friel, who created an album of original songs that highlight the stigma associated with a diagnosis of mental illness and how people have overcome it and achieved recovery in their lives.

(I submitted this to HotPress magazine around 16th October to The Write Touch Competition. Still haven’t heard anything, so hope it’s ok to put it on my blog.)

(As one of my BFFS said, it’s been a while since the Lyric part of my blog got a look in.)

The launch of ‘Six Strings and Stigma’ took place in the City of Culture on Saturday 12 October , in the wonderful Culturlann Ui Chanain building. 14 stories. 14 songs.  Local artists were approached by The Beacon Centre and supported by the Public Health Agency (HSC) with the individual stories of people’s experiences with mental illness. What resulted is a compilation of songs that capture and challenge the stigma associated with being diagnosed with a mental illness, and the individuals’ recovery. Being honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but with Mental Health Day coinciding with the launch, and the promise of Paddy Nash, The Murder Balladeers and John Deery to name a few artists, I was intrigued. It was a chance to see a few bands I hadn’t had previously.

The venue itself was small, and as I am too, I resigned myself to only seeing a little bit of the stage. However, between each set the stage alternated to one on the opposite end of the room, so I turned around and to my surprise I was now near the front. Beginning with the wonderful Tracy Cullen, each act played around 4 songs, and in this way it was a perfect showcase of Derry’s talent. Most singers offered some human relation to their story, and there was high emotion in the room on more than one occasion. Highlights for me was the final gig for Intermission who are now going to perform under Glenn Rosborough, and Paddy Nash and the Happy Enchiladas whose mere name is enough to bring a smile to my face. Most catchy: ‘Seized’ and ‘Rushing In.’ An excuse for a night of music and a step towards stamping out stigma.

Six Strings and Stigma is available from Cool Discs music in Derry, or on http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sixstringsstigma . I urge you to get it, it’s very impressive. Mental Illness is a cause that is close to my heart, also.

http://www.beaconwellbeing.org/

M got a nice t-shirt out of it. Your CD was included in ticket price, which was lovely. Thanks to Aisling and her bro Cormac for my ticket!

M got a nice t-shirt out of it. Your CD was included in ticket price, which was lovely. Thanks to Aisling and her bro Cormac for my ticket!

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Photo by Jamie Mollison