The power of words. A ramble.

I work in a shop at present. A book shop, mostly, but also newspapers and magazines and lots of stationery for Back to School.  I get a little defensive when people judge me. All my work friends seem to be doing second degrees or other courses and I feel left behind a lot. I don’t like to be negative here but I kind of wanted to share this experience.

On Saturday I was serving customers and an elderly lady with a stern manner and a white bob bought the Daily Mail. She pointed out the front page and agreed wholeheartedly with Theresa May bringing back grammar schools. She seemed to press the point and said ‘All my children went to grammar school, it’s not about your upbringing it’s about how hard you work.’ She really seemed to be trying to judge me or something so I said truthfully, I went to a grammar school. In all seriousness, she looked at me, smiled, and asked ‘What happened to you?’ I was so shocked, and so disheartened. My fears coming true. I don’t even know what I said back, I listed my achievements like degree and Journalism qualification, and she still smirked and made me feel like absolute rubbish. The rest of the exchange was horrible, and she went away with a big smile on her face. I really hope she feels better about herself by trying to tear someone down. Even if, and especially if I didn’t have ANY qualifications, what right had she to judge someone?

On Saturday night after too many gins I stood crying outside the bar to my Book Manager, about this and general life insecurities. I wish hateful people didn’t have the power to make me feel like this. I wish they and more importantly, I didn’t compare myself to all my friends, siblings and colleagues who are ‘winning’ at life when I seem to be floundering or stopped dead.

I will go through surges of applying for jobs in Belfast, Edinburgh, but in truth I have no focus, I don’t know what to apply for and I get so bummed out with the rejections that come about 2 months later if ever.

When a colleague who is about the same age as me but who’s been with the company for a long time, got engaged recently and now has a fantastic new job, I was so, so happy for him, but also I was jealous. Or more, just felt terrible about how I was doing. And that’s horribly selfish and I don’t want to feel like that.

My Mammy is right, as she mostly is. I need to concentrate on all the things I have, and not pine for things I don’t. Apart from people leaving all over the shop, the people I work with in the humble shop have become really good friends and support and I’m truly grateful to have them in my life. I have been asked to do a really interesting bit of freelance which I am having extreme anxiety about after so long, but really chuffed to be asked to do and appreciate the flexibility I am allowed.

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Although I know I could be doing more, I am choosing to hope and to trust and to try to live my life in the moment. I try to make a difference where I am, and keep an open heart. What else can I do when I’m not sure what I’m doing. I obsess about being 27 but I am blessed and that’s still young (isn’t it?) and I know I can do a little good for those around me.

I’m surrounded by good people, and beautiful friends and family. Really I want to thank people for being so kind and patient with little broken record me. And encourage anyone who feels like giving up, or that they aren’t keeping up. You’re good enough, no matter what you do, it’s who you are that’s important and all your human interactions. Be someone who builds people up, and doesn’t tear them down.

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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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