Supporting those living with Depression #AwareNi

350_million_people_worldwide

On Friday 24th June I am talking part in the Derry Aware NI Mood Walk, a 5 (or 10k) walk to ‘lift your mood’ and raise money to support local people living with depression and bipolar disorder. To me, this is a vital service. I have definitely suffered a form of depression in my life, and to watch someone you care about suffering is painful. It’s important that as much support as possible is available! I would really appreciate it if you could spare a few pounds for this worthy charity, Aware NI.

Easiest way to do it is this Just Giving link:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Fiona-McCallion2

Thank you so much x

AWARE is the only charity in Northern Ireland working exclusively for people with depression and bipolar disorder. A Derry born charity they now have two offices; one in Londonderry and a second office in Belfast where the helpline is based.

AWARE has an established network of 24 support groups in rural and urban areas across the country, which are run by our trained volunteers. Support groups welcome people with depression and bipolar disorder as well as carers for people with the illness.

AWARE deliver mental health and well being programmes into communities, schools, colleges, universities and workplaces. These programmes include our suite of Mood Matters programmes, Living Life to the Full, Mental Health First Aid and Mindfulness.

AWARE has a fundraising department organising fundraising events in schools and communities throughout Northern Ireland.

At AWARE, we believe that the people who use our services should have a say in how they are developed and delivered, so we employ people with experience of depression at every level in the organisation, including the Board of Trustees.

We rely on our dedicated and caring volunteers who run our support groups and helpline. Many of our volunteers began as service users themselves and as such are an excellent asset to us and keep us informed on staying in touch with people’s needs. Become an AWARE volunteer. 

AWARE is registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC100561. Company No. N.I. 30447

Birthday Bubble

I turned 27 on Saturday, and am somewhat disturbed by this. However, after two nights out I think I have hit a bit of a depressive stage today. I have been feeling so loved and spoiled all weekend I thought I would let it spill into a blog post.

I had to work on my birthday, just from 2-7 (27!) and I did try to swap it, alas. But in the morning I was spoiled with a coconut cream finger, and many paper creations from Ellen and Jacob. Well really just Ellen. Jacob gave me 70 cents from the windowsill. Ellen who is 9’s masterpiece was a big map with a 3D library, a ‘gorgeous garden’ made from a Graze Box and our house complete with 10 family members. There was a really cute note on it saying I didn’t have to keep it if it was too big.

After my sweaty shift manning the stationery department, I rushed home and enlisted my lovely visiting Belfast sister to do my hair and make up which was happy days for me. She had bought me some lovely make up from Soap and Glory which we tried out. We have become really good friends of late. We don’t contact each other that much when she’s not at home, but we have late night chats and laughs when she’s back, we are weirdly similar and different, and herself and her boyfriend are so good to me and our family.

I got several lovely cards and packages, and because people know I love snail mail they probably feel under pressure, but they are not and it was a lovely surprise. Thank you Ruth, Mammy, Abbye and L! Too kind and generous. What funny, pretty birthday parcels.

Caoimhe and me had already had quite a good week of events, she got me a ticket to Lisa Hannigan in Belfast for last Sunday, which was beautiful and then we had the time of our lives at Sarah Millican on Tuesday! Still laughing about that. We are both more and more determined to make the most of it and it is working out well for now!

So, I was ultimately late to my own birthday night, but five of us went to Claire’s house to have a few drinks including pink prosecco before heading out. Two are friends for 16 years, one about 8 years and one is a new friend.

We got carried away and had such a laugh, and a serious conversation about sexism in the workplace. We celebrated being 27, some being single, that pHD, we took selfies and learned about snapchat. And this is what is so important to me about friendship, and in particular female friendship (one of my favourite subjects and indeed things) all of us have difficult things happening in our lives, some really hard stuff for some of my best friends that I know of, but there is just a constant circle of support, and closeness and yes, love. This often gives way to the best laughs, and teasing. There is nothing like it. We left it so late to go out that we weren’t sure where to go, but you know what? It didn’t matter. We got a wee corner to dance in and everyone was happy and I mostly remember laughing!

Aisling, the George to my Fred had sent me this quote which I love;

The best kind of friendships are fierce lady friendships where you aggressively believe in each other, defend each other, and think the other deserves the world.

We met some interesting people as we weaved our way home, and my friends looked after me really well! Plenty to tease me about in future, I am sure but that’s ok!

I dragged myself out of bed after a few hours to do the Foyle Hospice Walk/Run and it wasn’t that pretty, but it was for a good cause and I got to see Ruth and baby Luke and properly meet her sisters and mum so it was all good.

A power nap and some Chinese food later, Claire and Aisling decided on Sunday Sips so away we went again! Quieter drinks in Claire’s and the bar later. But we all felt happy and I really appreciated the friendship and the love bubble.

I think I just really wanted to get my gratitude on, and really appreciate all the kindness that has been shown to me over the last few days, but really all the time with these girls! Again as I always say, I am at a bit of a funny place in my life, and I at least thought I would be married off by this stage, and making a bit more money but I really am trying to be appreciative of the wonderful gifts that I do have, and keep hoping. I did have a huge disappointment, and a mysterious bouquet of flowers within a week so I guess anything could happen, ha.

This could be our year! And I will get by with a little help from my friends.

DSC_0688

IMG-20160612-WA0008

Take Offs and Landings. Or Guy Garvey helped me through two break ups

In 2014, an almost 8 year relationship ended for me. I was 24. He dumped my stuff unceremoniously on the doorstep the next weekend, when he knew I was not going to be at home. I think my Mammy cried. He had a subscription to Q Magazine (which I had bought for him). The latest issue had ended up among my things and Elbow featured on the front. I really like Elbow. I read the article by Dorian Lynskey. It was gold dust.

Q is a music magazine, and Elbow (of London Olympics song One Day Like This fame) had just released a new album The Take-off and Landing of Everything. Front man wise, lyrical ‘funny bastard’ Guy Garvey had also recently had an 8 year relationship end. With a novelist, no less. (Emma Jane Unsworth)

His thoughts and attitude towards the break up were so valuable to me, I still have the magazine, and recently photocopied the article to pass on to a friend who is going through a tough split. (I sound a bit crazy, don’t I?)

At the minute I can’t stop listening to this album, the lyrics are so wise and kind and helpful. I have since recently went through another break up. Garvey says, ‘I wear my heart on my sleeve. Always have. I think it’s a form of defence mechanism to tell everybody everything.’ OMG me too, Guy.

In the song ‘Honey Sun’ he sings, ‘I cannot stay where all the broken plans were made’ and Garvey admits ‘My knee-jerk reaction was: get me the fuck out of here, run away as far as possible. But you can’t outrun things like that.’  In my experience that’s the exact male reaction to any break-up!

My favourite part of the interview is Garvey saying, ‘I don’t regret a single second of my relationship and she feels the same way and we’re friends because of that. I grew as a person in her company. She’s the most excellent of people. It’s important to acknowledge that it wasn’t a waste of time because it came to an end. It was the best use of time.’

DSC_0592
The article by Dorian Lynskey appeared in April 2014 issue of Q Magazine and has been rifled through by me numerous times since.

I think the reason I like this article so much is that I would want someone who has been in a relationship with me to think of me/the relationship in these terms. I possibly want Guy Garvey to break up with me. The next paragraph addresses the title track of the album:

‘There’s such a relief when something’s run its course and you put it to bed. Not, “Thank God I’m not doing that any more” but “Thank God I haven’t done too much damage to someone I care about deeply.” I wanted the song to be a celebration, not just of the throes of a great relationship but of the timely end of things. The landings are as important as the take-offs.”

I LOVE that. Some actual lyrics from the title song are

A prayer to the take-off and landing of everything

Leaving your lips as we took to the sky

And a prayer to the take-off and landing of everything

I’ll say for you and I will for all time.

Nothing is ever wasted. I really believe that, and as my mammy says, at the moment you are looking at the back of the tapestry. All rough and muddled and untied threads. Someday you will see it from the other side and everything will fall into place, and you will see the beauty in it. Everything you went through, or shared with someone has meaning and purpose in your life and theirs.

So thanks Dorian Lynskey and thank you Guy Garvey! Friends, let me know if anyone else wants me to copy this article for them. Ha.

 

Leaving a Paper Trail (of Letters)

It’s #sendsomehappy time again, a fun blog collaboration with my good fellow letter loving friend ZoeProse celebrating all things snail mail. Promoting picking up your pen and making someone’s day.

‘You can keep this, and when I’m a famous writer…’ I’m only half joking. But letters are such a physical, personal thing. I love the thought of actual examples of my writing, thoughts and sentiments -aged but treasured- turning up in a loved one’s attic or something years in the future. Yes, I know.

I’m obsessive about dating cards and letters. Something I think I have learned from my Godmother! I like to keep track of when things were sent and written. And have been known to pencil the date on to cards the younger siblings give me or letters I received with no date included.

I keep all my incoming correspondence in smallish boxes. Currently I’m running out of space in a gold perfume gift box. Usually my letters only come from the same four or five people. I should probably organise them better.

c009296
When you run out of space… Photo from here🙂

Weirdly, I like to think of my friends and loved ones I have written to for years lovingly keeping bundles of my letters, to be saved until further notice. It’s reassuring to have evidence of your life out there, you know? Even to be morbid enough to say that after death, there will be personal words to remember me by, now that people barely print photographs any more! I’d rather my words than my face be remembered anyway. Deep.

In saying that, I’m by no means Virginia Woolf and my letters will be doubtlessly embarrassing as I worry and whine about something or someone. However, letters can tell us something about someone’s thoughts and feelings in that snapshot of time. And that is precious.

Many a time I have wished I kept all the letters my cousin sent to me when we were 10 or 11. I have also mourned the burning of the majority of Jane Austen’s letters for confidentiality by her sister Cassandra, and Chris’s from my recent read Dear Bessie.

I have written before that one of the attractions of letters is that you can keep it to reread and comfort you, and it has physically been with your loved one, sent to you, and there is so much comfort in that! So let’s send as many letters as we can, and in turn be conscientious about hoarding-er saving them.

Challenge This time simply to create a small box where you can store letters and cards. The crafty among you could decorate with a mail theme. Let us know what you come up with!

#sendsomehappy !

All the Light…

51MfO0a70ZL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

‘Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.’

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her they way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is the most beautiful book. It’s been on my list for ages, and is the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner. I was so passionate about it, telling everyone about it and recommending it. I had forgotten that it is a WWII book, I find the subject so interesting, and because of the angle of French Revolution, really from the viewpoint of a child/16-year-old it is very unique.

I found the character of Marie-Laure a wonderful creation. Her relationship with her father is the most loving, magical thing. ‘The despair doesn’t last. Marie-Laure is too young and her father is too patient.’ The wooden replica of the city, the little wooden puzzle boxes that her father fashions with a bon bon or truffle inside for her birthday, are so precious and intricate. Marie-Laure and her father are forced to flee to Saint-Malo and a ‘76% crazy’ great-uncle when the Germans arrive.

At the beginning I found Werner’s story boring, and I just wanted to get back to France and Marie-Laure, but Werner’s interest in science and technology and Etienne-the-great-uncle’s attic secret interconnect and I began to hope for/dread the connecting of the two characters. Werner is eventually posted in France…

Here are some tweets on the matter. Follow me on Twitter for such stuff!

img_20160409_220408.jpgimg_20160409_220431.jpg

The writing is absolutely beautiful. There are so many devastating moments made beautiful by the sentences. The observations, the relationships, the trust. I pretty much loved it and I think you should read it.

‘Do you think, Madame, that in heaven we will really get to see God face-to-face’

‘We might.’

‘What if you’re blind?’

‘I’d expect that of God wants us to see something, we’ll see it.’

The war intensifies and Werner is forced to do more and more things that haunt him, bringing him closer and closer to Marie-Laure who is doing her bit with her nervous great-uncle for France. The story flashes forwards and backwards and it flows. It’s full of suspense and is utterly captivating.

I can’t wait to read more by Mr Doerr, and this story will remain with me.

The Beauty Blog Tag

I have been nominated by the beautiful, talented old Journalism colleague RedHead Beauty Blogs in The Beauty Tag. I do not claim to know anything about beauty, so I will give it my best shot. I’m going to cheat a bit, if you want to take part go ahead! I quite enjoyed it. Thank you Natalie! Please visit Natalie’s lovely beauty blog and subscribe to her YouTube channel. She has the cutest Coleraine accent! Tee hee. And she’s very talented with a make-up brush. I miss that girl. We need a reunion so badly!

Rules for this tag:

  • Tag the blogger that nominated you
  • Answer the questions you were given
  • Nominate 10 or so Bloggers whose blog is about beauty fashion or lifestyle
  • Name 10 questions for your nominees to answer
  • Inform the bloggers you nominated

 

  1. What is your favourite beauty product and why?

At the moment I am really liking my first wee brow kit I bought online. It’s ‘Brow Fix Brow Kit’ by Milani. It contains 2 brow powders, 1hi-lite powder, 1 mini tweezer, 1 mini bow brush and 1 mini sponge applicator. I actually probably badly need my eyebrows shaped but I just pluck them myself and do my eyebrows when I feel like it. It makes me feel better at work sometimes and if I’m going out.

MBF-03 Brow Fix Kit_Dark 3244A-01

2. What are your pet peeves?

Rude customers, who that patronise and talk down to me at work. Or who insist on remaining in the shop after closing time and after they have been asked to take their purchases to the till. Male customers who ‘corner’ female members of staff and say inappropriate things, touch,  and really push it because they can, the woman can’t tell them where to go. See also public transport!

3. Favourite fashion trend ATM?

I’m so out of touch, I have no idea. Have been sporadically going to yoga so I have bought some new sports gear. I like the sports leggings in black, but also my yoga teacher has some really jazzy ones. I have a bright pink vest and black leggings and I feel really good when I wear them. I have noticed cool people wearing sporty leggings as normal day wear and I approve of this trend.

4.What made you start blogging and why?

I think, being a writer at heart, the advent of the internet was so exciting as there was new access to writers and more connections. I became obsessed with certain blogs like dooce.com and the blogs of Keris Stainton and Fluttering Butterflies etc. I got so much pleasure from reading other writers’ words from their everyday life, book blogs and getting my comments answered. It just suddenly dawned on me that maybe I could be part of this too. I kept my blog secret for months and only when I had published a backlog of posts did I make it live.

5.Dinner with one person dead or alive…who would it be?

This is a difficult one. I really do feel that the people I am surrounded by are the important ones. Everyone knows, obviously Josh Ritter. Ha. But I am thinking I would love a chance to talk to J.K Rowling. I admire that woman so much. I actually wouldn’t even talk I would just absorb anything that she had to say.

6. If you had to choose one brand whether it’s beauty or fashion what would it be?

Ahh. Perhaps No.7 because I use their foundation and concealer everyday. But I am not a real girl in that I am just not into brands or beauty or fashion that much!

7.Do you have a favourite movie?

My favourite movie, or film as we say in Norn Ireland, was always Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But I also ADORE ‘About Time’ as well. It’s the only film that makes me sob in a frightening manner any time that I watch it. And Dohmnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy are amazing.

About_Time_Poster

8. Do you have a quote that keeps you motivated?

I really like quotes. It changes. The one my Mum stuck on the bathroom mirror this week was from John’s Gospel, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Jn 13.7 I got comfort from this. She does try to aim them at whoever is struggling that week. I think this one was for me!

9.If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

I would really like to live in Edinburgh! I have never really lived away from home and I have visited Edinburgh several times, and I really like the thought of living there.

10. What are your current TV shows?

I really enjoyed ‘Thirteen’ on BBC iPlayer. I’m watching ‘The Night Manager’ but I’m not 100% convinced. I do love Olivia Colman though. I recently started watching Call the Midwife on Netflix and Aisling is right, I do cry at every episode. It’s so good. And I’m getting braver with watching childbirth!

Thank you for tagging me Natalie! I’m not going to tag 10 people as I don’t follow many beauty blogs. I will tag Time to Talk Beauty, as this is how we kind of met many years ago, if you want to do it you can answer the same questions Natalie asked me.

Jonathan Unleashed – Meg Rosoff

I almost met Meg Rosoff once. I was volunteering for the first time at the Humdinger Children’s Book Festival and she was actually taking the only adult event of the festival about novel-writing I think. I had to creep into the room to retrieve my purse so that I could buy lunch. I wish I could have taken part in that class! I think I was going through a big break up then, and I kind of am again and I loved this book, because poor Johnathan reminds me so much of me.

Jonathan is a twenty something who has just moved to New York, got himself a decent apartment with somewhat dodgy conditions, is a creative soul stuck in an advertising job that he hates (he isn’t allowed to write tag lines more interesting than ‘Gel Pens! 20% off!’ He has a pretty, efficient go-getter girlfriend Julie who he is somewhat amazed that he blagged, but we can gradually see is completely wrong for him.

So, the best thing about the book are Dante and Sissy, Jonathan’s brother’s Collie and Spaniel that he has entrusted to Jonathan for six months or so while he finishes a contract in Dubai. He feels they are wise, they are watching and judging him, and he worries that they are unhappy, and not reaching their potential. He takes him to Dr Clare the vet, who asks are they whining or tail-chasing or acting aggressive?

I know they’re dogs,’ he said, struggling to explain. ‘But I get the feeling they’re dissatisfied. Dante should be herding sheep, at the very least. He’s so intelligent. And Sissy…she doesn’t complain, but I often get a sense that she’s missing something. Grouse? I don’t know. They both just seem a bit-off.’

‘I have other concerns. What if Dante’s boredom reaches a peak and then one day, suddenly and for no reason, he takes a dislike to some small child and lunges, ripping its face off? And someone films it on their phone and it goes viral and there’s a massive lawsuit and it makes the cover of New York Magazine. I’d probably end up in jail and they’d make an example of Dante. You couldn’t really blame him and he’d probably have to be put down.’

This particular exchange and many others made me laugh out loud. Jonathan is highly strung, anxious, not where he thinks he should be and I just recognise this worrying SO much.

Julie, the girlfriend who is driven and pretty, gets promoted at her job with Brides 360 blog. She is asked to take part as a real bride for a photograph series for their next issue. Jonathan doesn’t realise what she’s suggesting for an uncomfortably long time.

‘But just at that instant and impulse took him. A crazy impulse to do whatever crazy thing arose because maybe if you said yes to things that terrified you, your life would change direction, open up, get exciting….Wouldn’t it be nice to come home to a person you knew (and maybe even loved) every night for the rest of your life? no more worrying about meeting the right person, no more doubts about the future. He liked the idea of embracing adulthood at a concept and not worrying too much about the fine print.’

No, no, no I want to scream! Only recently have I realised just how common and dangerous this kind of compromise can be and I wrote a little about my experience.

Jonathan is always falling in love with people, like the beautiful French lady in the bakery that welcomes dogs, and he confides in the wonderful Greeley, no one knows what gender, the boss’ PA. He/she gives wonderful spiritual advice.

Jonathan’s relationship with the dogs is wonderful and hilarious, his work escapades increasingly crazy and hyper, I loved his relationship with Max, the best friend who told him Julie wasn’t right for him from the start despite being a complete lad. His thoughts about the wedding, burying of real feelings, referring to it accidentally as a funeral, no one speaking about it, although funny, is very stressful and Jonathan gets actual physiological symptoms which affect his whole life.

You’ll have to read it to find out what happens, but this wonderful witty and intelligent story about growing up in your twenties is a real triumph for Meg Rosoff, who has mostly written YA titles before this.

James Walton in a review for The Telegraph wrote ‘In Meg Rosoff’s last book, Picture Me Gone, the main character was a 12-year-old girl peering nervously towards adulthood, not at all sure that she liked the idea of it. Now, the hugely entertaining Jonathan Unleashed features a man in his twenties doing the same.’

As you can tell, I adored this book, my 14th of the year, and looking forward to reading more by the wonderful Meg Rosoff. I’m going to miss Dante and Sissy, I think I might be becoming a dog person.