A little late look at the lemoncake year of 2014

So, being late as seems to be the usual case for me, I just wanted to wish you all a very Happy 2015 filled with wonder and adventure, and love. I also feel the need to recap my year a little, so if you’re with me. 2014 you were a good year for me in all the ways that matter.

On 6 January I signed up for Slimming World. Typical new year thing to do. I attended the wedding of good friends on 27 December 2013 and I think it was the photos of that which finally prompted me to make a change. It was difficult the first few weeks and I had to change quite a lot. I lost 3.5 lbs the first week and continued to do quite well. My Mum helped so much by cooking me the slimming world chips, which are just spuds and 1 calorie spray, almost every day and making healthy spag bls and curries which arent from a jar. By May 2014 I had lost about 2 stone. I never quite got to my target weight of 9.5 stone but I was very close a few times, and I have managed to more or less maintain (Afraid to look at any scales after Christmas!) But I am much happier with my shape and size, I have gained a bit more confidence and appreciated the compliments. I would recommend Slimming World to anyone. There are no tricks really, and it’s surprising the things you can eat which are ‘free.’ Perhaps when the last selection box is empty I will dust off the book and go back to counting my syns to lose that last bit of weight.

2014 was the second semester of the NCTJ course in Journalism that I took the risk and left a job to do. I deepened friendships with the amazing class of 13/14, and firmly believe that they were the best thing about the whole course. There were about 16 of us and we were a tight group who got along brilliantly and bonded over many drinking sessions and iNews editing. You can read about them here. I continued with my placement at the Derry Journal and interviewed people, wrote up stories and had many pieces published. I faced a lot of fears and surprised myself more than once. At the end of the year I received an award for excellence and I got called back to do some shifts for my newspaper a few months after my placement.

Molly was a new friend this year. Don't know what I did without her!

Molly was a new friend this year. Don’t know what I did without her!

About March time I made some tough decisions. It led to big changes in my personal life. It was a long time coming, and I coped surprisingly well. Like a wise lady once said to me, sometimes it’s not about chasing what you want, it’s about distancing yourself from what you definitely don’t want.

March also saw me taking on a video project for the journalism at the Humdinger! Children’s literature event. I don’t know why I didn’t fuss, I just got up there and filmed and interviewed a few authors and illustrators and chatted with the lovely Dog Ears team. That weekend I returned to volunteer at their main events and they made me Volunteer Manager on their busiest day. My proudest moment is probably collecting Tony Ross (Of Horrid Henry fame) from his hotel and befriending him, his posh accent and his cravat as we walked through Derry to his event in front of a packed St. Columb’s Hall. He was a dote, and I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t interview him on camera!

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I loved my visit to my great friend Time to Talk Beauty in Edinburgh at the beginning of the year. It’s a beautiful city and she and her fella were generous and fun and wonderful to spend time with. I’m dying to go back and I was so happy to see her in Belfast in the summer for Biffy Clyro.

I watched my sister graduate with a Cardiology degree, and shortly after get an amazing post at a Belfast hospital as a trainee Perfusionist. She is going to be put through her Masters and goes to London once a month for training. Not even jealous….

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I struggled with my own career after my placement and course ended. I applied in Edinburgh and London, thought Belfast with my sister was the answer for a while. So disheartening to receive radio silence when you are more than qualified. I wasn’t even sure what I wanted anymore. I had no job for what felt like a long time. I worry what people think more than anything. I hated thinking people were pitying me or exasperated at my slow progress compared to others. There’s a hint of ‘When is my break?’ I even did an Alternative CV the week I had to ‘sign on.’

My fairy godmother is better than yours.

My fairy godmother is better than yours.

I had a surprise, a kiss out of the blue. Someone who had been literally sitting opposite me for most of the year, but who I had failed to ‘see.’ I decided to ‘go with it,’ most unlike me, and it has been the most beautiful, unexpected blessing! I have been constantly surprised and delighted, sickeningly happier and I just haven’t looked back. I’m grateful to him for being brave, and I’m just dying about us. He got me a typewriter for Christmas. Need I say more?

Babies were born to friends, congratulations Cathy, Kelly, Sara and Laura. I am delighted for you all.

Baby Cara Rose and me. Love this little one! Know her Mummy since we did altar serving together many moons ago.

Baby Cara Rose and me. Love this little one! Know her Mummy since we did altar serving together many moons ago.

It’s been harder to see friends, but there have been treasured times of deep conversations into the night (my favourite), support, inspiration and love even from afar. You know who you are !

I got a Christmas job, on top of the casual job I had been doing. The hours were good, it’s basically a book shop, the people kind and the atmosphere pleasant. I have recently learned that I shall be kept on beyond the Christmas period, and although I said never retail again, and I can feel people’s disapproval, I am comfortable here for now. I am grateful for the work and I take each day as it comes. I try to brighten someones’ day and be as helpful as I can. I’m growing in confidence and keeping my creativity alive in ways not just through work. I’d appreciate your support as I try to navigate my life as best as possible.

Four special people turned fifty in the last month or two. Including my Daddy today! Congratulations you inspirational folks. I love you! Thank you for being a great part of my life.

(I lost about 600 words from this and am trying to rewrite. Aghh)

My last few days of 2014 and the Christmas period were some of the best days. I have enjoyed spending what time I was not in retail with my big, mad young family and my G and his family. I have just felt surrounded by a bubble of love (and chocolate!) and haven’t stop smiling.

It has ended perfectly.

I have no idea what to expect from you, 2015 but plenty of adventure, happiness and love for us all please. I intend to write. Blog posts and maybe other things. I need to! Thank you for supporting my little blog. And for bearing with me today. Let us go forth with hope. Happy New Year!

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2014 in blog review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Enjoy!

I will put the blog in the New Years resolutions for 2015! Several people have told me that they miss it and I certainly do. I have tried to at least update once a month but that’s not enough! I have plans for a project with Zoe and I have had such a life changing year . Thank you for supporting LLL!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Passing Comets

Picture from here

Picture from here

Just home. I went to a wake with my parents. They have two to go to today. A young man of 27 has died of Leukaemia after a recurring hard, hard battle of 20 years. I was at Search youth group at the same time as him ten years ago. My parents and his are friends. The house was packed. His mother, devastated but smiling and hugging. She wanted it to be over for him, but she didn’t want her eldest child to go. His tall, funny, friendly father now sombre but thankful for mercies. My mum and dad keep saying that they are ‘salt of the earth’ people. And they are.

Young men guarded the door and wiped away tears. You search for the words, get in the way. There’s not much to say. I know that his suffering and his friendship and his life will have touched others, and I hope that he’s not in pain, that he is happy and at peace. I hope love and prayers will envelope his Mother, Father and three siblings, and they will have the strength to go on, always remembering.

My only clear memory of this brave man is from my first induction weekend to Search Youth Group. There’s a special prayer time, after all the fun and the show of the entertainment, and everyone settles on the floor, late at on a Saturday night with candles burning before bed for prayers. It was always my favourite time if I’m honest. He sat on a stack of chairs, high above the rest of us (where he no doubt shouldn’t have been!) and eventually spoke into the dark about the cancer that almost killed him as a child. I’m not sure if his brave tears were pain, fear, or relief. He was 17 then. He was in long-term remission if I recall, and he was grateful. It always stayed with me, I don’t really remember his words, but his emotion and the huge ordeal he had faced, and unknowingly had yet to face. The example of speaking out and of voicing thankfulness and maybe fear.

I don’t feel qualified to talk about him, and I’m truly not jumping on the bandwagon or attention seeking in any way. Being confronted with such sad death wont leave my mind and heart and I’d like him to be remembered. It’s devastating when someone so young dies, and after so much pain. I truly believe that nothing is wasted and there are many reasons, and someday we will know.

Maybe I will someday share this with his family, or maybe it’s rambling and selfish. Maybe we could all do with remembering what really matters. ‘Focus on loving’ is what my dear Mammy says and I agree for once.

A lovely man who sang in the choir at mass for many years died today, also after a short illness with brain cancer. At the wake the young man’s Dad told us of another Derry man who died today aged 29, six weeks after his wedding, from sudden cancer.

Last night myself and my bestest buddy found ourselves free at the same time and went out for a drink last-minute. We just were able to talk about everything, which I actually don’t know has ever happened! Despite being a little afraid of half of Wetherspoons knowing my business (gin=loud) I feel better. And closer to her, and just some magic human connection that we all need. Grateful to have her and loved ones in my life.

Yesterday at the amazing Women of the World event that has come from Southbank Centre London to Derry twice now, I recognised a woman and it took me a while to place her. She’s a Life Coach that I went to a few times last year. I had almost forgotten about it. Immediately I felt dread in case she saw me. My life isn’t looking like much at the minute, specifically career wise. Then after a beat, I realised that the main things that I was struggling and discussing with her, and giving me much pain – are things that I have totally turned around. I said this to her, and she ‘squee-ed’ at my going for the Journalism, leaving the job and all the relationship stuff. But she nodded knowingly ‘I thought that might happen’ ‘I’m so happy!’ and although she wants to take the credit, I left feeling happier. Maybe I don’t have it all figured out at 25, maybe I worry and beat myself up so much, it’s looking like I’m going to have to eat humble pie and go into retail for a bit. But I’m blessed and loved, I do my best – everything does happen for a reason. When I’m not crying at my keyboard I do ok!

I raise my mug of tea to good people gone, families’ strength, life and loving and friendship.

I’m just a big bag of emotions and I hope I don’t hurt anyone or say too much. Feel free to let me know.