Do you want to be a better writer?

Have you ever signed up to something and later regretted it? Have you a dream but keep making excuses not to pursue it?

Since I began this blog eighteen months ago I have discovered just how much I enjoy writing. I have written about all sorts of everything, stories from my past, moments from my day, thoughts that were buzzing around my head. However at times I have wondered. Was I a blogger or a writer? Was there a difference? small__5188097200

In recent times I’ve had a niggling thought, as annoying as a tickly cough. There was no getting rid of it. I wanted to learn about writing. Or did I? Because in truth, as soon as I had that one thought, I quickly replaced it with every reason I could think of for not pursuing it.

Last week I received an email from Fish publishing advertising online writing courses. Oh my goodness, maybe fate was intervening? I opened the link and became immersed in ‘maybe’. Looking through the link I particularly liked the idea of short story writing, which had been the foremost niggle in my head over the past few months. However as I began to read more, I decided it was not for me and I quickly ‘X’ed my way off the site.

Twenty four hours later I couldn’t help myself opening the link once more. Once again I allowed myself to imagine being a part of that course. Learning, reading, writing, being challenged. I began to feel a bit braver. Why not? So what if it was too high brow for me, surely I’d learn something? Then I imagined how I’d feel if in fact it was full, or if I was too late applying. Would I be disappointed? Yes, I definitely would. So without any further hesitation I clicked ‘enrollment/fees’ and with a couple more clicks I’d spent quite a bit of money and I was in.

I sat back and felt a wash of satisfaction sweep over me. I was delighted. At last I was doing something, not wondering or doubting myself. I could do this. I would make the time. In no time at all I had built up my own confidence to such a level that I even told a couple of my children what I had done. One was full of praise, the other, who is studying in school and is not overly partial to English, looked at me in pity and said, ‘What would you ever want to do that for?’ I smiled, my confidence not dented in any way, then she added, ‘You freak’. Don’t you just love children?

Before I had time to defend myself an email arrived. My ‘teacher’ was getting in touch. I nearly burst. This was real. I quickly opened the email and read it’s contents. Within minutes all confidence had died. Deflated I thought to myself, ‘Sweet Jesus, what was I thinking?’. It is nearly thirty years since I sat an English exam. There’s no fool like an old fool. I looked at the suggested reading list, it was long. I looked at the first module and I felt out of my depth. I couldn’t even figure out what exactly the assignment was, surely that was a very bad start? My ‘teacher’ had stated to be sure and drop a line if I have any queries. Asking her what my first assignment was, was definitely not going to be a good start. So, you may ask, what did I do?

I quickly ‘X’ed out of the email, took a deep breath and poured myself a glass of wine.small__7658051014

After a short while I was once more drawn to my laptop. I opened the email and read, re read, and yes read again, the email I’d received. Maybe it was the wine, but now I could understand it better. I was getting a bit excited about it all. Yes I could do this, and yes I would enjoy it.

Now a few days later I have managed to train myself to feel those positive thoughts, without the wine. I have, you guessed it, re read my assignment a few more times. I have downloaded a couple of books from the suggested reading list and I’ve read what I have for ‘homework’. I’ve not actually written anything yet, but I’m further along than I was this day last week.

So I will keep you all posted. I have no idea how to even present my ‘homework’. There are words I have had to google, and I’ve to learn about ‘pacing’, which I assume is not what I teach my competitive swimmers! God help my poor ‘teacher’. I can only imagine her reaction to my first attempt, but we all must start somewhere, and I am hoping against hope that she is a long time in this game and therefore has come across worse.

Yes it seemed a good idea at the time. Now I’ve blogged about it, not to mention paid for it, there is no going back.

Help me, I’m very thirsty all of a sudden. Where’s my wine?

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we all need a good sleep

Do you nap?

Do you power nap? Are you someone who can close your eyes for ten minutes and wake up completely refreshed? Or are you an all or nothing sleeper,  someone who must go to bed and sleep, unable to imagine waking after just ten minutes?
Personally I am a power napper, but it is my husbands ‘naps’ which in our house are a constant source of amusement.

In our early days together I should have taken note. Here was a man who regularly went to the cinema and never made it past the titles. As we continued through life children came along. God love him this time in our lives nearly killed him altogether.

However in recent years we have no crying children, and as far as I have noticed he manages to sleep a reasonable amount by night, yet the napping continues unabated.

Recently we were away for the weekend, just the two of us. Our flight was very early which meant a four thirty start. By the time we had landed and were on the train sitting comfortably in a nice warm, carriage, I observed the familiar drooping of his eyes as he sat opposite me. I knew it would not be long before I lost him, so I decided to have a little fun.

As we entered a tunnel, I began to speak knowing he was too exhausted to listen. He sat upright feigning interest, and I smiled inwardly as I saw his eyelids close over, only to open suddenlysleep with a start every few minutes. Each time he opened his eyes he struggled to focus, staring in my direction with a glazed expression. Straight faced I’d ask him questions such as ‘Do you agree?’, or ‘What do you think?’. Puzzled he’d look at me and slowly answer my made up questions with a very weary ‘Ehhh, ye’, or ‘Mmmm, I’m not sure’. As we entered a tunnel I knew he was losing the battle. I watched as he raised his eyebrows when I would speak to him, as if this would pull his eyes open. Sometimes he would answer, but his eyes were now glued tight. Realising my fun was over I let him sleep.

The ticket inspector entered the train carriage. I looked at my poor, exhausted, sleeping husband, and felt bad because our train tickets were in his pocket. I’d have to wake him. I waited as long as I could then gently woke him, asking for our tickets. It took a while for him to return from the land of nod, but eventually he did and handed over the tickets.

As the inspector walked away my husband looked at me and smiled. ‘Sorry I was exhausted, he said. ‘I feel much better now, I really needed that sleep’.

We were still in the tunnel!

photo credit: BlakJakDavy via photopin cc
photo credit: Jessie Romaneix © via photopin cc

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Living in the past.

I am finding it impossible to write. My block is not because I’m too busy, nor because I have no ideas to put on paper. It is because my thoughts are elsewhere.

This weekend last year Daniel came home for the fist time since leaving four months earlier for a bone marrow transplant . There was much excitment around his return. And there was hope. If he was strong enough to travel home it must be a good sign. Maybe that infamous corner was about to be turned? Maybe it was the start of weekends at home? Maybe eventually there would come a time when he would travel to Dublin just for dialysis? Maybe the day was coming when Daniel would be cured?

The reality was very different. The young boy who came home was not the boy who had left. Seeing him in his home environment showed us, not how well he was getting, but how sick he was, and the long hard climb ahead of him.

Daniels anniversary is on the 29th of November. Six weeks away. It is so difficult not to spend each day remembering. Remembering, ‘this day last year’. I cannot imagine how it is for his parents, siblings and family.

For over the next few weeks Daniel suffered a lot of pain. During that time all efforts went into curing him, at a cost. During that time on two occasions Daniel was ventilated. There was a real chance he would die miles from home, in ICU and on a ventilator. There were occasions when we cried imagining his parents never again hearing him speak, imagining that last goodbye.

I cannot even begin to tell you of all those awful days, as they were too many to speak of. Watching from a distance I often felt sick with fear. I cried so many tears alone and in company. Even now a year later I cannot forget. I cannot forget those conversations I had with my friends, Daniels family, about things we should only be saying, if we were speaking about an elderly grandparent. Those next six weeks were a nightmare, a nightmare which keeps flashing back into my everyday life.

I know it will pass. I also know it is nothing compared to Dans families nightmare.

So over the next few weeks stick with me please. If I repost an old fun post maybe it’s because I’m just having a bad day. Maybe now I’ve spoken my mind I will be able to write again. However I’m not sure. Daniel is gone and yet I seem to find memories of him everywhere, from his smiling face in photos, to the nightmare flashbacks from last year. The memory of Daniels pain and suffering, and the knowledge that it was all for nothing is sometimes just too much. The only positive in the weeks ahead was Daniel being ‘well’ enough to travel home. Well enough to know he was home, and to have a full day there before he began to leave peacefully, with all who loved him beside him.

Yes my friends even after one year it is all as raw and as real as if it were yesterday. And I cannot forget.

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Young Ben we salute you.

A year ago today a heartbroken mother and father kissed their small boy goodbye forever. He was six years old. A year ago today other mothers and fathers kissed their sick children goodbye. Hours later these children returned to their parents, having received young Bens organs.  No longer sick. With ben on holsthe potential of a long and healthy life ahead of them. All because of a small boy aged six.

No doubt it has been a very hard year for Ben’s family, and friends. The beginning of a life sentence. However, today I would like to raise a cheer for young Ben. His life mattered hugely to his mom and dad, sister, friends and family. It may have been short but it was filled with fun. He was a much loved young boy, and will be forever in his families life, even in absence. Today, as his family grieve and remember, there are others who are dearly loved, running about, laughing, and living. Within them a part of Ben lives on.  I hope whoever they are and where ever they are, that today they have a really good day. I hope their family and friends take some time out today, to pause and remember, a small boy aged six, who changed their lives forever.

In honour of young Ben, and to celebrate his life, I would like to once again share this video, and urge you to buy it. As anyone who reads my blog will know it was made earlier this year and features the families who bravely gave life to others, as they hold photos of their loved one who is gone. I think it is one of the most powerful videos I’ve ever watched, even if it didn’t feature young Ben.

So today let us all raise our glasses and celebrate young Ben, the hero. I also hope that my positive thoughts, and the thoughts of all those who read this, will in some way give his family strength, today and in the future.

Codladh Sámh Ben.

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What is the real reason parents sign their children up for after school activities?

Do your children do after school activities? Do you feel you are a taxi driver as you race to class and collections? Why do you bother?

I am over twenty years parenting, and in that time my children have attended  many after school activities. Ballet, art, music, football, camogie, swimming, gymnastics, Taekwan-Do, and Scouts to name but a few. All took time and money, effort and energy. While I was ferrying my children to and from these classes I filled the car with the other children. These classes took time out of their playtime, and home time out of my day.

Looking back I ask myself ‘Was it worth it?’. Did any of them become Irish or Olympic champions? Did they discover a love of music, martial arts or sport? Would I do it all again?

Thinking it through I believe that yes, if I had my time over again, I would once again sign my children up to those activities, even the ones that were disasters. Take the art class I enrolled my then seven year old daughter in. She had shown a flair for art in school, or so I thought. Looking back maybe she was just better able to control a pencil than others. Anyway one day the after school art teacher called me in to show me one of my daughters creations. It was a bowl of fruit. I was briefly surprised, that my daughter could in fact draw something I’d recognise, as I, who was many years older, had still not managed to ever draw anything that looked remotely like the picture in my imagination. As I listened to the teacher speak,  she told me that this painting showed wonderful perspective for a child so young. I smiled, looking at a bowl of childlishly drawn fruit, and nodded in agreement, while inwardly laughing at all I obviously didn’t know. I went home small_5841210855delighted to know I had a talented young daughter. Two weeks later my daughter looked at me and said, ‘I hate art’. Ten years later she has not changed her mind. Even now when I tell her she had a talent for it, she just laughs.

Then there was Scouts. My son was not interested in sports of any sort, and especially disliked ball sports. So we thought Scouts would be perfect for him. He enrolled in beavers and proudly wore his uniform. He went to the group every week, and even went camping. We were delighted. Until the day we discovered that the drills and inspection and rules were terrifying him. That he was taking everything too much to heart and was unable to relax and enjoy it. Another year of activities put to bed.

Then there were the sporting activities. These meant not only did we have to attend lessons, we also had to spend weekends involved in competitions. Whole days of our lives we will never get back, watching children compete in gymnastics. We even travelled 200km to Belfast for our daughters to compete in a National Trampolining competition. This involved twelve bounces. Can you imagine driving that distance and staying overnight, for a total of 48 bounces on a trampoline! Such is the madness of a parent whose children are involved in any type of after school activity. I was not there for the glory of winning, but because my children loved it, qualified and wanted to go. I don’t believe I was the only one.

However the greatest madness of all, in my opinion, are the parents of children involved in competitive swimming. I feel I am perfectly qualified to speak about these parents being one myself. I am also the coach to these swimmers so I am able to look at both sides of this particular coin. These parents get up at 5am. They bring children to the pool for a ninety minute swim session, and drive them home to breakfast or for some straight to school. The vast majority of these swimmers will never make the national team, nor indeed make division one. It is commitment of the highest order. These young swimmers, in the majority, swim because they enjoy it, and are challenged by it, and parents bring them to the pool knowing that.

Last Sunday morning at 6.30am,  my fellow coaches and I boarded a bus for a town two hours away, with forty swimmers on board. Others chose to travel by car. It is at these events that I begin to clearly see what swimming gives to these young swimmers. Last Sunday I watched a few of our young swimmers overwhelmed by nerves, cry . After a few gentle words I watched those same young swimmers line up for their races, biting fingernails, and fidgeting as they did so. I then smiled as these same swimmers dived in and swam their hearts out. I celebrated with the other coaches when we watched them finish and saw the huge smiles of achievement on their faces. This was a lesson in life they could not learn in school. Other lessons were also learned that day. Such as the swimmers whose goggles fell off on the dive, yet they swam on at full pace regardless, showing a strength of character some parents did not know their child possessed. Towards the end of photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/yarashus/982391062/">C-Serpents</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>the day we had a lot of weary swimmers. The 5.30am rise was showing. Yet, when their moment came, they raced as if they were fresh. Once again demonstrating their ability to dig deep and tap into courage and strength of mind they may never before have used.

As we drove home that night I remember thinking that in years to come these same young swimmers will probably forget most of what the day brought. However, I think they will remember the friends they spent the day with, and the many lessons swimming that day taught them.

This, to my mind, is what parents are looking for when they sign up a child for after school activities. It begins with the hope that their child may be talented at this activity, but for the majority it becomes an activity their child enjoys, and hopefully one which will enhance their lives in so many ways, without necessarily bringing them glory.

As I say goodbye to my early morning young swimmers in the mornings, I am always conscious of how much they have already achieved before most of their classmates are even awake. Lessons they will not learn in the classroom. Lessons that their outside school activity gives them in spades every day. Lessons that will remain with them throughout their lives. Definitely well worth the time, effort, and money the parents invested.

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Reunited.

So how did I get on without my smartphone? Did I crack? Did I cheat? Did I suffer any withdrawal side effects? Have we been re united?
Well to cut a long story short, I have survived and yes we have been reunited, but the experiment has definitely given me food for thought.

I first acquired my smartphone for my birthday in March. Prior to this I had been quite proud of being the owner of an ancient phone which had almost no functions at all. A phone which I used for all that a phone was meant to be for, in days gone by. Then, as it began to breathe it’s last, I decided it was time to step into the real world. I thought it would be useful to be able to keep an eye on comments and visitors to my blog, to never miss an email, and to have easier access to facebook etc. I would mean I could just check into wordpress without actually sitting down and formally going online on my laptop. It sounded ideal.

So it was for a while. I did enjoy the way I could see if my blog was getting comments, and I enjoyed being able to tap into twitter or facebook if I was waiting for one of my children to come out of a class, or sitting alone somewhere. Knowing I had emails to answer as they arrived allowed me to plan how much time I needed to address them. Initially it was all good.

However slowly I began to feel things change. I began to take my phone everywhere. I carried it from room to room, even on the shortest car journey it came along too. I was also checking it regularly, whenever I passed it. Then one day I noticed I had it at the dinner table!

Enough I thought. So last Saturday I decided this weekend is a new beginning. I was going to ‘lose’ it. Just to see how bad my addiction was. I hadn’t thought of it in advance, it was a quick decision. I wrote a post on it here,  put my phone on silent, and waited for the side effects.small__7317967922

As it happens I had minimal side effects. On a few occasions I found myself sorely tempted. As I saw the small blue number appear next to the facebook icon I wondered who was posting? What was happening? Was I missing something exciting, or something amusing? However I held tough and resisted the temptaion to look or to interact, and it got easier as the day went on. I had time to daydream, to look around, to sit and just be.

You may think that all this sounds good, however there is an underlying deceipt in my answer. What I am not saying is that I didn’t turn off the notifications for my blog, so I could see on the screen how many ‘liked’ or commented on my post. Also this weekend was so very busy that in reality I had very little time alone, or to be tempted to go online. It wasn’t a true reflection of a normal weekend, nor did it challenge me as much as it could have.

However it was a start. I have decided this is something I will do more regularly. I did feel a great sense of liberation without my phone. A feeling of not being ‘on call’, of not having to stay in up to the minute contact with others. It also made me more attentive to the real world. To those around me. I was not distracted by an incoming text or notification of some sort. Nor did I absent myself from present company to converse with someone who was no where near me.

One aspect of being offline for the weekend which I hadn’t anticipated, was that I hesitated to get back online. I felt tired at the thought of it, at the prospect of going back to square one, to being overly interactive once more. However I have tonight bit the bullet and logged on once more, and I’m sure I’ll be interacting as before in no time. Now though I will try to follow some self imposed rules.

1. Limit my online time.
2. No conversing online when I am in company, even if it is less stimulating company!
3. Stop checking my phone so regularly.
4. Turn off facebook notifications.
5. Turn off email notifications.
6. Have time every day without my phone.
7. Take time to sit and daydream in the present.

I’d love to have made it to ten rules, but it’s a phone, there’s not that much to say about it!

So there you have it, I’m back online, blogging as before. It remains to be seen if in fact my online habits have changed. Whether I am a reformed addict or someone who quickly forgets. I wouldn’t put any bets on either way if I were you.

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photo credit: DaveLawler via photopin cc

Can I ‘lose’ my smartphone for the weekend?

How addicted to your phone are you? How often do you check it? How much time do you spend on social media? Do you itch to upload photos to facebook, or to comment on what you see? Are you a lurker?

It’s the weekend, and I am tired. Tired of talking, of writing, of interacting. As the days are going by life seems to be getting busier and busier.

Tomorrow I will go away with a group of young swimmers. Some are experienced and will so enjoy the day, the competition and the fun. Others are less so. Today for them will be filled with anxieties as they look forward to and dread tomorrow. For them the competition is a big deal, and their fears very real. I imagine tomorrow will be busy, not just coaching but managing mini photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/davelawler/8630623522/">DaveLawler</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>meltdowns, and drying some tears.Today I also have a full day. So all in all very little time to charge my batteries. To sit and just be.

So this morning I made a decision. I will make my life a little bit less busy this weekend, a little more about relaxing in the moments I am free. How? Very simply. I will ‘lose’ my phone. This weekend I will only speak to the people around me, the people in my real world. I will not read my emails, there will be no facebook, no twitter, no wordpress.

I remember about ten years ago realising that wearing a watch was affecting my life. I was overly conscious of time. If I had to be somewhere I was checking my watch regularly before leaving, to see how long more I had. Instead of having an hour free, I was spending that hour waiting for the next one. This morning as I was thinking about ‘losing’ my phone I remembered those days. I also remember how liberating it was without a watch. I wasn’t ever late, but I definitely enjoyed my days much better, in the moment.

So today I hope ‘losing’ my phone will have the same effect.

Wish me luck. I’ll be back here tomorrow night and will let you know if I succeeded, or if in fact I am a phone addict beyond help.

Ps. The irony is that I just have to answer a couple of emails before I begin!

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Remembering that day.

It is almost the exact hour, when twenty seven years ago time stopped for me.

It was a Friday morning. I was working on the geriatric ward as a student nurse. I was tired and feeling low, as my Dad was very weak, with motor neurone disease. The ward sister came over and asked me to go home. Thinking that she was just being kind I refused, but with the help of a friend she persuaded me to go. I didn’t know that she had received a phone call. I didn’t know my Dad had died. I didn’t know life had changed.

I asked her would she mind if I gathered a few things for my Dad, some suction tubing and wipes and other hospital bits that the ward were always so generous to supply me with. I was unaware of the hush around me, as nursing friends rushed to help me pack a bag for him. All the time knowing I would not need it.

At about 9.20am I was leaving the main hospital door when I decided to phone my Mom to tell her I was on my way. I knew she was also very tired, and I thought she’d appreciate the fact I’d be home soon, to be there with her and Dad. I went into the phone booth. There was no door on it, and I dialed home. Mom answered and as I told her I was on my way with the bits Dad needed, she interrupted me. ‘He’s gone Patricia..we’ve lost him’.

To this day I remember my utter confusion at her words. What? How could she lose him. He was bed bound. Immobile. I couldn’t comprehend what she was saying. I said, ‘What do you mean Mum, where is he gone?’, Her words spoken through tears haunt me still, ‘He passed away Tric, we’ve lost him’.

My confusion left me, to be followed by such an array of emotions washing over me in waves. I can barely recall the minutiae of those next moments. I do remember shouting ‘No, No, No’, and my Mom trying to stop me. I remember her hanging up, and my overwhelming anger, fury, and incredible rage. I shouted and cried so hard. The security guards came and tried to speak with me. They made repeated efforts to remove me from the phone booth. I knew them well and looking back I am still embarrassed at my display. When I did burst out of that phone booth, lets just say they stayed well back, as I flung Dads needless  supplies all around me, so cross that he would never need any of them ever again. Eventually a lovely old nun, who I was most fond of, was called to rescue the situation. All four foot six of her, stood before me, put her arms out, and said nothing. It was all that was needed. I crumbled.

Twenty seven years have done little to reduce the sadness I still feel at the loss of my Dad. He never saw me qualify, nor shared in any of my many trials and tribulations of life. He didn’t get to walk me up the aisle, to ‘give’ me to a man I know he would have hugely approved of. He never got to meet my children. To hold them, kiss them or love them. He and I have missed out on so much. So much of what we all think is a given. He left us way before his time.

So today October 9th,  I wonder what might have been. I say to Dad,’ I miss you’, but then again, I say that almost every day, and I mourn the man I loved so dearly. My Dad.

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I wrote this earlier today. Writing it was a lovely way to take the time to sit and remember Dad. However be assured I did not spend the day weeping, and all is good in my world. Sometimes, it is only when we take the time to sit and cry, that we can truly be close to someone we have lost. Now if I didn’t get to you with my post, just look at the song I chose for the day that is in it.

 

We have not forgotten.

Anniversaries. We all mark them. We say, ‘One week ago today’, or ‘This day last month’. Our birthdays, wedding anniversaries and memorable occasions. Today is October 7th. To some of you it is a Tuesday of little importance. To others it is an anniversary, a special day.small_3845971398

Today October 7th is a significant anniversary in one families life I know. This day last year their young boy became unwell. Today marks the very last day young Ben, aged just six years, spent any time in his own home. The last day he went to school, spent time with his Mom, Dad and sister, or cuddled up in his Mom and Dads bed.

I have written about this remarkable little boy and family before here, but today I just wanted his family to know, I and many more have not forgotten Ben. With days of anniversaries ahead, as they relive those dreadful final few days, I would like them to know that they are in my thoughts, and I know those of you reading here tonight will join me in wishing them strength and healing in the endless days and years ahead.

Codladh Sámh Ben. Your Dads buddy, your sisters best friend, your Moms baby boy. your baby sisters guardian angel, and to those to whom you donated your organs an unintentional hero.
xxx

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photo credit: Sean MacEntee via photopin cc

Rejected!

It is with dismay I must let you all know that I did not win an award for Best Personal Blog at the Irish Blog Awards! How did I take the news? Well the words ‘Feck’, ‘Ah feck it’, and ‘For fecks sake, lost again’ featured foremost in my mind. In fact I had to struggle to remember not to say them out loud.  On a positive note I had identified who would win and I was right. For those of you interested the winner was With all the finesse of a badger.

So back to the laptop once more, to reflect on my blog, blogging and ‘My thoughts on a page’.blog awards

As a child I didn’t do rejection well. My younger brother was a real ‘dote’, a ‘pure pet’, and I was most certainly not. He had charm in spades and readily pleased everyone. Both characteristics I lacked. So I learned to huff and puff and annoy everyone in my attempt to be heard. As you can imagine that is not how you go about becoming a child everyone enjoys being around. However as he and I were best pals, I learned to ignore all the love he received. Maybe to get some sort of upper hand I ensured he knew I was the older sister, the one in charge, as we played together. A role he never fought me over. A wise decision on his part, or just another example of his ‘charm’, I’m not sure.

In life I am not one to lie under the rejection bus when it passes. Whenever it did hit me, I was rarely floored. Usually I would spend a small amount of time ‘fecking it’, and then I’d gather myself, stand up, and start all over again.

So my fecking that I didn’t win an award again is done. (Well just give me one more minute… feck, feck, feck, feck, feck) Okay, I didn’t win. I am now over it, and ready to begin again, or at least to continue on as before.

There was actually one very big positive note which came out of Saturday night. For the first time ever I met people who I ‘knew’ online. So many people. I was very nervous before meeting them, and in dire need of a bit of courage in the form of a pre meeting drink. However I was staying in my Mums house and I wanted to be the good daughter she thinks knows me to be! So stone cold sober I got into the car of a complete stranger (mind the baby) and another fellow blogger (proper fud) and off we went, chatting as if we knew each other. We arrived late, but thankfully three seats had been kept for us by fellow Irish Parenting Bloggers. As I scanned the faces of those seated around me, it was great to see so many ‘familiar’ ones. I had to hold myself back not to run up to them and greet them as the ‘friends’ I imagine them to be, so maybe it was lucky I didn’t have that pre drink. Happily I was at ease very quickly, and they really were as good in real life as they are online. Now days later I am so delighted to have actually met them. For this alone the awards night was well worth being a part of.

Over the course of the night many of us were not called out to accept trophies. However there were exceptions. Mama.ie won best parenting blog and was such a worthy winner. As well as her blog this amazing lady set up the Irish parenting bloggers group, which continues to grow and whose facebook group I enjoy enormously.  A mighty roar went up from all of us as she was announced. It was good to see this unassuming lady, ‘The Boss’ awarded.  Another winner was ‘Sunny spells and scattered photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcobellucci/3534516458/">Marco Bellucci</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>showers’. This is an amazing blog about mental health, and a very deserved winner. Finally there was the award for best blog post. What an effort had gone into getting to the final of this one. The top ten posts were selected by public vote, so bloggers had to ask facebook followers, blog followers, family and friends to vote every week to keep them in this competition. It went down to the wire, with single votes at one stage between some of those in the running. The top ten with the highest votes were then judged by a panel of judges. I was exhausted looking at the efforts it took to qualify. Finally after the long battle the post of ‘Beating myself into a dress‘ won. Great credit to her, and to all who made that top ten.

So the night is over. No more judging or being judged. It is back to the laptop for me. Back to the wondering where I will go from here? To wondering what I really want to do with my writing?  And to wondering what exactly are my goals going forward?

I’m not sure what the future holds for my writing long term, but what I am sure is that for now I’ll continue as I am. Writing ‘My thoughts on a page’, and enjoying the many online friendships I’ve developed over the past eighteen months. As for third time lucky, it is too early to decide if I will enter the fray again next year. Thankfully there is a whole lot of writing to be done between now and then.

Oh, and one last thing, just in case you are still not quite sure how I really feel. Feck, feck, feck, feck, feck. For fecks sake, I lost…. again!

photo credit: Marco Bellucci via photopin cc

photo credit: Sean MacEntee via photopin cc