On Hope

The following is a very short piece I wrote on the topic ‘hope,’ which was the theme of the Women Who Write’s February meeting. (A wonderful monthly group that started last year.) I had been despairing on the facebook page that maybe I wasn’t a woman who writes. I began to worry and run out of time and I even took to twitter to ask people what hope meant to them. I was glad to have the discussions with people, and I ended up being really emotional in a good way! Hope is one of my favourites.

6a00d8341c61d153ef01127911b27b28a4-500wi

I find hope in the usual places; crossed fingers and candles for job applications, a fresh notebook, an unopened letter. First messages, meetings, coffees. Anywhere there is possibility. The new year and spring time are hope’s favourite dates in the calendar.

I’d like to deliver hope to the unusual places too.  Oh, to stand at the end of the bridge like a gatekeeper. And place a little parcel of hope in the pocket of any son or daughter who feels they can’t go on. It would warm their heart and slow their feet. It would provide just enough light to see a way through for the next few hours, until the next phone call, the next conversation. It would whisper of love, family, friends and future.

My 7-year-old brother said hope is waiting for something that you are looking forward to. My colleague said hope is not quite a wish, not a strong as a prayer, but a strong want.  My philosophical friend said somewhat pessimistically, ‘…of little use in and of itself: can be as stifling and paralysing as it can be inspiring to action. Grasped at in a void, you’ll probably take nothing more than self-delusion and disappointment from it.’ In these hopeful conversations, I heard the story of a young woman who died last year, after a battle with brain cancer which spanned her whole adult life. She somehow managed to stay positive through years of pain and setbacks. Ten years ago she named her miracle baby Hope. Now her friend says he can’t think of Hope without thinking of Emma.

In these treacherous Trump times lies are being told. You’re not good enough. You don’t belong. You can’t cope.  A foundation of faith, hope and love is vital. Of these beautiful triplets love may be the greatest, but there is a lot to be said for hope.

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!

6a00e553a80e108834019b0222329f970d-320wi

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!

trust-your-gut1

 

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.

 

Hello 2017

Happy New Year, blog. I’m full of hope, as ever. I really like the feeling on New Year’s Eve especially, and the promise of a bright clean new year full of possibilities. Thank you so much for reading in 2016. It’s been sporadic enough, I know. Perhaps I will try not let fear hold me back in 2017. My desire/ reluctance to write is laced with fear I think. Also, I have said it before but I like that my blog is my one link to writing when there is nothing else going on.

This year I have went to a few warm, funny, gifted meetings with Women Who Write. I have done a bit of freelance feature writing with a local newspaper, got some decent blog posts in, and wrote many a letter (snail mail!) for my friends and family. There was also a lot of writing involved in my Mammy’s recent 50th birthday celebrations, which went sooo well and she loved.

Today I read and was inspired by this article on Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year.

I got a little sad before I went to party with my two best friends last night. Yes. 3 person party. It was amazing. Just basically this: that I have been stuck in a rut for a few years and EVERY new year I hope that things will start falling into place. They have not so far! But don’t get me wrong I am extremely grateful to have a job, a brilliant family, wonderful friends and a good life. And my hoping is unfazed. I have to adjust my attitude, I know. I often have the feeling that I need to DO SOMETHING but I am still figuring out what.

I have been single for almost a whole year now, which is a first for adult me. I am not sure that I have made the most of it at all, but I definitely needed this time. I’m not pining for someone, although I do talk a good deal, and I think I am comfortable being on my own for now. I joke that my bullshit detector is finally working after all these years. I think I am going to be able to work out quite quickly if someone is just not treating me with enough respect, or I can’t see it going somewhere. The way of the world is not usually the way that I roll! So it’s difficult, it is, but relationships are important to me. And playing the game is not something I’m willing to do, soz.

Well that kind of went off on a tangent, but I am glad I was able to write something, however small, to start off the year. Thanks again for reading. A very, very happy and hopeful 2017 to you.

newywar
From The Gate of the Year by Minnie Louise Haskins. 

 

 

 

P.S Look at these persoanlised blog earrings my beautiful bride to be Ruth got me for Christmas. I love them! So thoughtful. ❤

blogearrings.jpg

 

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

dsc_1267

Beginning how it began, Bright Smile.

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

 

img-20161020-wa0018-copy

 

 

dsc_1263

 

 

img-20161020-wa0010-2

 

 

img-20161019-wa0011

 

 

img-20161019-wa0020

 

 

img-20161019-wa0010-2

 

 

2016-10-18-15-04-19-2

 

 

img-20161018-wa0005

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…

 

 

img_0072-2

 

 

 

img_0074

 

 

img-20161019-wa0012-2

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

 

 

img-20161017-wa0005

 

 

img-20161020-wa0015-copy

 

 

img-20161018-wa0002

 

 

dsc_1266

 

 

2016-10-18-15-02-04

 

 

img-20161018-wa0003

 

 

dsc_1262

Beginning of relationship questions and wishes!

 

 

img-20161019-wa0009-2

 

 

_20161020_230539.jpg

 

 

 

img-20161019-wa0017-2

 

 

 

img-20161020-wa0014-copy

 

 

 

img-20161020-wa0009-2

 

 

 

dsc_1265

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

 

 

dsc_1260-2

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.

 

 

img-20161019-wa0019-2

 

 

img-20161020-wa0017-copy

 

 

img-20161020-wa0011-2

A definite ‘up there’ for my favourite song.

 

 

img-20161018-wa0004

 

 

 

img_0073

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

 

 

img-20161020-wa0008-2

 

 

 

img-20161019-wa0018-2

 

 

_20161019_102533-2

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.

DSC_0991[1]

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

DSC_0989

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.

DSC_0944
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!

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 !