29 Things I Have Learned


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. I should 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



Another Blogiversary: 6 Years

I am proud and amazed to note that today January 27 marks the SIXTH Anniversary of this blog, Life, Lyrics and Lemon Cake. I can’t tell you the comfort and connection I have received from writing and getting feedback from my little thoughts and words. Thank you so much for reading, whether you are old or new! It’s meant so much.

I have talked about it before, but I still remember clearly the ‘launch’ of my blog in Melrose Street 2011, my second year at Queen’s University. When my housemates (and besties!) were so supportive and meticulously went through and commented on all the blog posts I had been secretly publishing.

I have never had a ‘niche’ for my topics. It’s made it harder but I just try to be honest and maybe write something that will help someone, or make them think ‘me too.’ So it can be difficult if I’m feeling a bit down or not myself. My lovely good friend Ruth mentioned that I hadn’t been blogging much lately and I voiced my fear that I didn’t want negativity to leak into my posts.  I like to be positive and helpful and I didn’t really feel up to it. I hope that can change soon! The writing sometimes helps in and of itself.

I was so inspired by female bloggers back in the day, and as a person who really wishes to WRITE blogging seemed attractive. I’m glad I did it.

My friend Aisling suggested I choose 6 significant posts. I had a little wander down memory lane. It’s strange as always to see mentions and traces of old flames, for example and I almost have the urge to purge like one does with facebook! But this is all part of my story and perhaps better to be preserved in full. Do you know I have had a few recent requests not to be written about recently too. Ooh the power!

I didn’t put too much thought into this, just trusted my gut and highlighted 6 posts that I feel proud of or are worth a mention again. Also those archives are vast! And a little scary, ha. 6 posts for 6 years!

  1. Traps 

This is an article that almost broke my rule of no ranting. But I think it’s very appropriate in this week with all the amazing feminism examples around us. Just really about not having to be nice to creeps when they have you cornered! I have linked to an excellent article by Daisy Buchanan.

2. Slow Burning: The Electric Michelangelo

I like to read, and therefore write book reviews, and this was one that really stood out last year. I still have a quote pinned to my wall. ‘But sometimes what choice have we? Life conspires to plant us in the funniest of gardens, where the trees need an especial form of tending.’ Beautiful book by Sarah Hall

3. Send Some Happy

There are actually several posts regarding one of my favourite subjects and past times, snail mail! Really enjoyed collaborating with Zoe on this.  See? The friends you make through blogging. Like minded letter writers!


4. Josh Ritter! On Meeting Your Heroes

Hey, we couldn’t do this without mentioning THE reason for the ‘Lyrics’ in LLL? This made me smile to read how excited I was. Still so proud to be Josh’s biggest fan. I was very proud of my more recent celebration of the main man’s 40th birthday. Keep on rocking, Josh!

5. Ode to 15 Journo Students

An important time in my life, that NCTJ accredited Journalism course that I left my job for in 2013. A lot changed for me that year. I got to test out my writing skills in a different way, I drank an awful lot and I made a few firm friends.

6. Trust Your Gut

A somewhat scary, raw one for me to post. But I had to do it. Some of it maybe is too much, and things have changed a little, but this lesson was a hard one learned over many years of trying and failing to be happy within relationships. I really hope it was able to help someone!



Are there any posts that have stood out to you? Is there anything you would like to see?

So, lets all have a slice of lemon cake and a coffee the next chance we get, and thank you sincerely from my heart to yours for your support for these 6 years. It means the world to me when people mention my blog in ‘real life’ or even old fashioned comments. And I feel better for having this little corner of the internet and a connection with you.


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!



Beginning how it began, Bright Smile.

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
























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…











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






















Beginning of relationship questions and wishes!























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




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.










A definite ‘up there’ for my favourite song.








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











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! 

Loose Ending

When I’m not in work, it’s how I’m feeling mostly. At a loose end. Applying for better work positions requires more energy than I feel I have, but I’m constantly worrying about my lack of savings and what people think of me. I fear no one is going to be interested in the person ‘wasting’ their education/training.

Most girls are guilty of neglecting friends when they are in a relationship. I know I am. And then when it ends you don’t want to lean on these friends too much, for fear they think you’re using them. I’m trying not to be too needy but I’m still feeling lonely. Last weekend my beautiful friend Abbye drove up from Belfast and we both stayed at a B&B in town. It was an uplifting, funny adventure. We went for a long lunch with dessert and impassioned catching up, we bought PJs in Primark, we went to a Lego Exhibition in the Nerve Centre, we bought a bottle of gin and plastic wine glasses, we did Crow Stands, we listened to Josh Ritter and Toots and the Maytals and got ready in half an hour, we went to Walled City Brewery and had flight boards of local craft beer, ‘pintxo’s’ and cocktails, talked about EVERYTHING, decided it was a Ventathon 2016 and I didn’t realise how much I needed it!

I had the worst driving lesson on Thursday night. I’m almost regressing. How can I be so forgetful? I’m half convinced I have memory problems. I nearly decided to park it (pardon the pun) for now -I’d never be able to afford a car anyway- but I shall persevere.

I’m trying to be open, and kind, and connect with people. Deep down I know everything is ok. I have a lovely present for my Mum and I’m looking forward to appreciating her tomorrow.


I seem to be surrounded by people having babies. My friend R is living in Belfast and she had a little boy near the beginning of February, I was up to see her a week or more ago and I just feel fiercely proud of her. He is very beautiful. I’m not really panicking on that end. Yet.

I’m getting so much comfort from the songs of Josh Ritter. He’s always there. I love to find new meanings to the rich lyrics, I’ve used certain lines this week on a 10 year anniversary card, my Mother’s Day card, and my BFF Aisling gave me a wee shout out on a local radio station with ‘Snow is Gone’  and it really cheered me up.

I’m worried I won’t get all the time off I need for wedding related things, and I won’t fit into any bridesmaid dresses.

I never feel I’m doing enough, you know? I feel like everyone else thinks that about me too. I want to just have faith and trust that things will appear, and work out. I’m craving being around friendly faces. I don’t want my job to define me or restrict me, and I don’t want to kill myself looking for the perfect one either.

To my shame I have been writing nothing but blog posts, but I have been reading an awful lot. I’m simultaneously reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and Making it Up as I Go Along by Marian Keyes. One heavy and distressing and over 700 pages, the other light hearted and laugh out loud funny. Books are a major comfort too.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you all this. I’m sure it’s boring and self centred. I just had to write and kind of sort my feelings out. I’m nothing if not honest.

Today I dyed my hair Honey Chocolate and kind of basked in a patch of sunlight reading and browsing and eating cake based things. And hoping.

Weekend Coffee Share

First of all, this post directly inspired by the Monster in your Closet. A blog I have followed for years.

If we were having coffee today, I would most likely over share because that’s how I am! I would tell you how I have been feeling stressed and worried and questioning what sort of person I am, and my relationships and everything. I cried on a driving lesson and cried a lot and felt like I was stuck.

I haven’t really been writing. Blogging has slipped again. BUT the last thing I wrote was an attempt at a Shakespearean Sonnet which I wrote for SHIFT magazine and they said they would print it. I’m delighted but half dreading it because it is so simple. Their theme was women though and recent events have made me even more fiercely feminist so I had to!

I had a fun day at work dressed as a Gryffindor student on Halloween. And then although no one had a clue, I loved channelling Virginia Woolf at a Gothic Ball we went to that night.

Thanks GC Photographics !
Who’s afraid of Fi?

I can’t stop listening to my old favourite Josh Ritter’s new album ‘Sermon on the Rocks.’ It took me a few weeks to buy it – I thought it was a bit close to the bone for a wee struggling Catholic like myself.

However, it’s a masterpiece as usual. Ritter’s songs always seem to provide the best backdrop to my life, and although he definitely pushes it a bit with the religious imagery, there are many grains of wisdom and truth in there. Also gorgeous lyrics, as per. Loved this review from Rolling Stone.

Men  in my life always assume I fancy Josh haha, but I just have this soul connection to the music, and I always have. Since 2006 anyway age 16.

Do yourself a favour and buy this album!

I’ve written four or five letters in the last few weeks. And adored one from an old Uni friend R, who has moved to Liverpool and sent me this excited letter about meeting/kissing/starting a relationship with ‘the most beautiful man I have ever seen in my entire life.’ Don’t you just love love?

I’m really enjoying Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling. Not being a fan of crime I didn’t pick it up until now but it’s J.K Rowling for goodness sake of course I will love it. We got the third instalment, A Career of Evil in work and I thought it seemed great but I better start at the start.

Oh, had a lovely date at an Indian/Italian place that we like to go to last night. I like remembering the first time we went like five days after the first kiss and how nervous I was! When we came home we watched Song for Marion on BBC2 – I really recommend you watch it. Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave were phenomenal in it and it will make you cry. BBC iPlayer right now 🙂 Gary said he loves when old people are in love. Don’t we all? What hope! It’s the most beautiful, devastating but ultimately hopeful film dealing with love, family and cancer. And singing.

Well that was cathartic and although there was no rhyme or reason to the post I feel a bit better for having written something. Hope you all have a lovely Sunday.

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

Hello and Happy New Year to followers and readers of LLL ❤

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.

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.


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.

Happy-New-Years-sayings-quotes-1-570x759 (1)

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

My first Vinyl (aged 23) & The Beast

Last Friday, M collected me from work. After doing the late shift, as per usual, and with no prospect of a weekend to look forward to, I wasn’t in the best of moods. That is, until he reaches into the back seat as we pull up to my house, and hands me a present. Josh Ritter’s ‘The Beast in it’s Tracks’ (Or tBiiT as I have been affectionately calling it.) in a clear bag, the Limited edition vinyl, vinyl single. CD and lyric book. ‘How?’ It wasn’t supposed to be out until March 5th. But I had forgotten, Ireland always releases music early, the Friday before. And Cool Disks, a lovely wee independent music shop on Foyle Street, Derry always sticks to the ‘Irish’ rule of thumb although we are in the no man’s land of Derry/Londonderry. Excitement abounds. It’s my first vinyl, believe it or not, and I am pleased as punch with it. I haven’t actually got a record player but I would happily buy one.

I’m still in the first few listens (to the CD) and still making up my mind. (It’s Josh Ritter, I know I’m going to love it but I’m finding my reasons why right now!) It’s come out of pure heartbreak. This Hotpress article is really good about it. It’s a lot simpler album than ‘So Runs the World Away’ (2010) I feel like it’s something he just had to do…

Anyways, here are some of my excited photos: