29 Things I Have Learned

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Hello, in honour of turning 29 today (what!) I came up with 29 things that I have learned so far, which may be of use to you. I’m hoping for a low-key celebration involving family, Gap coffee co, friend catch ups and hopefully cake.

  1. Worry is pointless. Though that barely stops me. Worry unsettles your mind and really takes over. Stop worrying! Easier said than done and I struggle with this every day.
  2. In times of hard stuff, self care is important! I know it’s a buzz word at the moment. But I love when people say ‘Be gentle with yourself’ You really should. I like lattes and cake in pretty cafes, getting lost in a book, spending time with life giving people and the occasional massage.
  3. TRUST YOUR GUT. It can be hard to do, but deep down you know. Please listen.
  4. A loving family is priceless. When everything has gone terribly wrong, they are there for me. So many people don’t have that and I’m grateful.
  5. Hard and horrible life events can be overcome. Things are changing daily. Stuff is happening behind the scenes. Trust, take another step.
  6. Josh Ritter is the best songwriter in the whole world.
  7. You don’t have to be nice to men on public transport or customers in work who are being inappropriate/ in your personal space or making you feel uncomfortable.
  8. Kindness is so, so important. And you will get it back if you give it away.
  9. Reading is a magical gift. Words can soothe, distract, educate, amaze.
  10. Social media is exciting, addictive and fascinating. It can be a major curse too. A necessary evil. Be careful.
  11. It’s ok not to know what you want to do with your life. I feel upset and confused about this all the time. But enjoy the journey and keep moving forward. If you can’t see where to go next, bloom where you are planted.
  12. Grannies are so very special. My Granny Mc was my biggest fan. My Granny Breslin had the most amazing story and raised a big, beautiful family. I lost them both in 2017. But I feel them with me, and love doesn’t go away.
  13. Being a bridesmaid is a beautiful honour.
  14. If you don’t ask for and demand respect in a relationship, you won’t always get it.
  15. RuPaul’s Drag Race is the only and best trash TV that I watch (on Netflix). The transformation of men into beautiful drag queens is amazing. And it’s so quotable. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Truth, queen.
  16. The days are long but the years are short.
  17. Big families are cool. I always say it’s only good at Christmas, but I think as a support system even for future it’s a definite comfort.
  18. The truth is the truth, even if everyone else believes a lie.
  19. We are all addicted to our phones. It’s so bad for human connection. And won’t end well.
  20. Giving your time to someone is one of the most powerful and special gifts you can give. Children and romantic partners will especially appreciate it.
  21. Walking, away from busy roads, preferably in nature is a zillion times better than walking along a main road, when ‘out for a walk.’ Walking is great for getting out of your head a bit.
  22. I know I will probably go on about it forever, but a personal, old fashioned letter in the post is both beautiful to receive and joyful to post.
  23. “Was she crazy? Or did he make her crazy?” Oh I hated when my friend said this, in response to how a boy I cared about described his ex. She is so right though. I have definitely acted so crazy, but only in response to upsetting and disrespectful behaviour pushing me over the edge.
  24. Going out for breakfast is such a lovely way to cheer yourself up and ease into the day. Underrated.
  25. If a door is completely shut in your face, no matter how disappointed or upset you may be, trust that God will open another.
  26. Life is a balance of holding on and letting go – Rumi
  27. If you don’t go out of your comfort zone, it gets smaller and smaller. If you step outside every day, eventually it stretches until you’re doing things you never thought possible. (I have this is theory but not often practice)
  28. Always try to write more. I have taken to writing down thoughts and feelings, but I’d love to finally start writing something properly.
  29. I have arrived at this age, 29, feeling rather defeated. It’s been rough the last month especially. Truly don’t know where or what I would be without people who love, support and don’t judge me too harshly. I have almost descended into cliches and quotations here, but I’m taking one day at a time, trying to see the next step. I’m home again, in every sense of the word. This birthday seems scary and very serious but I’m also grateful for a new start. A fresh year, what could be nicer?

Thank you for the birthday visit! I can scarcely believe I am 29. Comparison is the thief of joy so I’m not comparing myself to any other person, at least for today. I’m healthy and I’m loved. I hope you have a beautiful day, maybe we can celebrate soon. Much love x

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Happy Birthday Josh Ritter! 40 Lyrics

So, the most joyful of 40th Birthdays to Josh Ritter, the best singer/songwriter, lyrical genius, happiest smiling performer, political commentator, novelist, sound tracker of my life! Anyone who knows me knows of Josh, because I am such a fan of all his work, and have been for many years. Age 16 I was swept away by the lyrics on a random CD my first ever boyfriend gave me, it was a copy of 2002’s Hello Starling, and from the first song, Bright Smile, I was captivated. The music has gone in many wonderful directions since then, but I have to say that one little pretty song has always held a special place in my heart.

There’s been 5 albums since, I have had 11 or so years of listening to this wonderful wordsmith. I have never found any lyrics or music that spoke to, comforted me in difficult times and buoyed up my successes like the works of, or should I say the Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. I think I have saw him in concert here in Ireland 10 times, and met him on a handful of happy occasions. My favourite time was the porch of the Empire Music Hall in 2009, during my first month or so of University. We bonded over Muriel Spark if I remember rightly.

My bestie Aisling and me bumped heads trying to hug Josh after one of my first times seeing him in Letterkenny, probably in 2007. My Mammy still feels a little ill when she listens to Kathleen because she was pregnant with Ellen when she listened to the album a lot and it calls up the morning sickness. Josh was there when relationships came and went and the words surrounded me on my best and worst days. Every workplace I was in or class I took I always converted a few to the Book of Ritter! To the point of being teased.

I have made so many memories, and met some good friends. This music has really enriched my days and I’m not doing it justice here.

As part of the celebrations, to let the birthday boy know how much all his songs are loved and appreciated, I bullied  requested that my friends and family help me out on a little lyrical project. Aisling gave me the idea of my 40 favourite lyrics, and I loved that idea, so these are at least 40 significant lyrics (I probably could go on forever.) And then to make it interesting, I assigned different people in my life some lyrics to hand write, and decorate as they saw fit. There are some works of art here. I think I might finally get an idea for a tattoo…

These lyrics all mean something to me, so take a wee minute to be inspired. 

In no particular order, I give you 40 lyrics from the man of the moment, Idaho legend Josh Ritter! Happy Birthday, Josh. Thank you for writing such rich and magical poetry to music. These songs have genuinely made a big difference in my life.

I think I will let the lyrics mostly speak for themselves. It’s only little snippets, but I strongly advise you chase the song up and give it a listen. Enjoy!

#JoshRitteris40

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Beginning how it began, Bright Smile.

@thebadactress is now my username for most things… including Twitter. Where Josh follows me! Huzzah.

 

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I find more and more depth to this song every time. Considering ending the world just to stay in an underground bunker with your love…

 

 

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A magical story of a ‘cursed’ Egyptian Mummy falling in love with an archaeologist.

 

 

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Beginning of relationship questions and wishes!

 

 

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Like, what a compliment… and Ellen did a great job of the mini Aurora Borealis.

 

 

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A beautiful story song that gets me right in the feels every time. Also cleverly inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee. The first time I heard it I assumed it was an old cover of a classic song.

 

 

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A definite ‘up there’ for my favourite song.

 

 

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This song was a bit of a commentary on the Bush administration 10 years ago… but so apt today.

 

 

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If you’re familiar with the next line, Jacob (7) drew a blackbird, a starling and winter being over by spring flowers. Awww.

 

 

 

Joy to you, Josh, wherever you are on your 40th Birthday. You have done the music world, and the world in general so much good by being here. Thank you for keeping me company through music, and offering so much inspiration through your words. Keep doing what you’re doing, and please come back to Ireland when you can.

Happy Birthday!

Fiona x

Huge THANK YOU to my artistic contributors who were put under some pressure! I am so impressed and I owe you :

A. Breslin

Dr. A. Duffy

L. Gilmour

C. Lafferty

R. Harley

Dr. M. Montague

E. Mc Callion

J. Mc Callion

P. Mc Callion

S. Rooney

M. Turner

C. Tracey

And an extra special thank you to A. Nelson who really made me want to get my friends involved cause of her calligraphy skills. Beautiful! 

Magazines To Make You Happy

The only magazines I buy are ones that don’t push beauty or fashion or promote female body shaming. I have never been interested in those type of magazines. What’s that line from Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) ‘Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.’

I totally agree. Lately I have been spending a little more money on these, and gaining so much comfort and joy and inspiration.

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Despite these particular covers, neither of these magazines dwells on woman’s bodies and how they should look at all.

Flow magazine is my especial favourite. A magazine for paper lovers, one back issue claimed. I thought it was going to be about crafts, but the pages are made from different weights of paper, you always get a free wonderful gift, in paper form, this time it’s a Tiny Pleasures Art Journal. I have a little flip calendar that I had to press out and loop on a ring by my bedside and the daily thoughts, advice and illustrations brighten my day no end. I sometimes Instagram them under #366daysofflow via @thebadactress. I love Instagram. In fact I think I may have first heard of Flow through @miekesmakes.

‘Celebrating creativity, imperfection and life’s little pleasures.’ In this issue, the gorgeous letter from editors Irene and Astrid celebrates the ordinary. There’s an article within this issue from Flemish psychiatrist and professor Dirk de Wachter. It’s a Dutch magazine, so I think translated into English quite recently so you get to discover all kinds of experts and creators who you would normally have no way of finding. Anyway I can’t wait to read Dirk’s article which is quoted here, ‘The coincidence of fate, finding without searching, noticing the little things and being open to whatever crosses your path: that’s where the beauty of life can be found.’

This is a beautiful magazine inside and out, so far I have found a lovely thoughtful article that talks about when we are feeling unhappy, we tend to think we need to make drastic changes in our lives. ‘But solutions can often be found in small things, and much closer to home.’ Also a celebration of rain, a story of how a journalist lost all her pictures including baby pictures on her hard drive, and how bad of a loss was it really? And the art of good conversation, and how the writer craves deep conversations. (Me too!)

It’s the most wonderful, different and amazing magazine, four per year. My work stocks it, and you can subscribe or order individual issues at flowmagazine.com

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Oh Comely is next up. Again, a beautiful quiet magazine, this one is printed in London. So many curiosities here, and I gobbled it up on my little propeller plane to Edinburgh recently. The girl beside me was reading Marian Keyes’ Under the Duvet on her ereader and I really should have made friends with her. I was hoping I looked cool with this magazine.

There is a lot of white space on the page, and the white cover make it feel clean. There are beautiful illustrations and interviews. I especially enjoy the readers letters. There is actual photographs of the snail mail the magazine receives which I find charming. There was a letter and illustration from a girl who is like my soul sister @cerezinspring. I feel exactly like you about snail mail!

I loved this article by Lara Watson about Freya Stark (Women who changed the world) It reminded me of you, Abbye.

Stark took advantage of her gender to experience the aspects of women’s lives hidden from her male counterparts and, when she wanted, to bend the rules. “The great and almost only comfort about being a woman is that one can always pretend to be more stupid than one is and no one is surprised.”

I remember the first time I saw this magazine in a WHSmith in Belfast there was a piece where all this strange stuff had been put through the post, maybe a banana that looked like a gun, icing sugar that looked like drugs etc to see if they would reach their destination. And then just silly things too.

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Illustration By Meera Lee Patel

Other articles I enjoyed was ‘Cocktails: A brief history in six drinks’ by Jason Ward. ‘The main ingredients of Sex on the Beach are peach schnapps, vodka, melted Rubik’s Cubes, a Wham! cassingle and orange juice.’ A piece on climbing trees as an adult, and a beautiful article by Becky MacNaughton called The Adventurous Aisle in which she writes ‘You can learn a lot about a person in a supermarket, you know.’ ‘I decided I loved him in a Tesco. It was partly in the way he spent a little too long choosing a fabric softener.’

I used to have a subscription to this magazine, I think I will again.

I felt more warmth towards those than I thought, thank you for bearing with me! And do check out these magazines, I don’t think you’ll regret it. Magazines still sell surprisingly well, one of the biggest jobs at work is ‘The News’ and they work really hard and get through a big pile of magazines every week. I am obvs also a ‘Hero’ gang member of Standard Issue, Sarah Millican’s ‘no bullshit’ magazine. Love that also. Happy reading!