Monday, 31 December 2012

2012- You Beauty

I have been looking forward to 2012 for a long time. 
Since the 6th July 2005 to be precise. 

I was sitting in the kitchen of a church in Belfast on a summer mission team. It was around midday and my team was having lunch. I was sitting beside a girl named Rebecca and across the table from Ben and David. I still remember I was eating a hot dog and the bread was piled on floral fine bone china, the type that you encounter at grandparents houses and country church fete’s. 
I had been waiting on my mum to text me to let me know where the 2012 Olympics would be held. I knew London was in the running and although I didn’t think we had a chance (it was our first ever bid, this was the 3rd for Paris) I was hoping it would be in Europe so I might be able to go to something.
I screamed and danced up and down on the spot when my mum told me that London had won the bid. I can’t tell you how many times in those years of waiting that I watched the footage of the bid team reccieving the news and the crowds in Trafalgar square celebrating with wide eyed shock and unquenchable enthusiasm. Everyone knows what happened the day after on 7/7 on the transport network, but for me 2012 showed the triumph of the human spirit. What can be achieved when people are united under a common goal or banner. This summer was glorious, but it was only a small part of this year, which for me, was greater than many of the previous put together.

Anyone that knows me will know I love the olympics, so 2012 was always going to be an exciting one for me, but I decided that because it was a home olympics, something I won’t see again in my lifetime, I should make the year memorable, do something amazing, an olympic challenge. I read Bear Grylls book ‘facing up’ which documents his ascent of Everest and I decided that I was going to do something amazing this year.
I decided on a Marathon because it seemed insane enough for me take on, but simple enough to accomplish.

In January I had the opportunity to be on Desert Island Disc’s after submitting a track and my story. 30 minutes in Uncle Hugo’s studio in Broadcasting House and my story was told. You can listen to the programme here:

In February I turned 24 and started a relationship with a friend who had been sitting across the table from me that afternoon in Belfast, when I began to get excited for 2012. It seems strange to me that after so many years of waiting 2012 was finally here and two months in it was already better than I could ever have hoped for. We stayed together until the middle of June when we mutually went our separate ways, but those 4 months were some of the most fulfilling I have had.

March and April were filled with much running, an average of 60 miles a week and renewed writing efforts. They were also filled with Northern Ireland being obsessed by the Titanic- in Belfast you could not get away from it (you’d almost forgotten that part hadn’t you!) I went to the Titanic Light show in the slipways and it was one of the nicest things i’d seen done in Belfast, by Belfast, for Belfast.

May brought the Marathon and after 6 months of training (something I never thought i’d have the will power to do) I completed the Belfast Marathon in 5:54:54 and raised over £800 for my two charities.

June was the wind down from school and wind up to the busiest summer of my life. July and August saw me in London twice, walking in the Swiss Alps, singing in the Royal Albert Hall, watching Jess Ennis do her 100m Hurdles and High Jump in the Olympic Stadium, watching the gymnastics, sneaking into the athletes area and meeting some of my favourite gymnasts, holding Kayla Harrison’s Olympic Gold medal, watching live olympic basketball and generally enjoying the Olympic spirit and atmosphere in London. I also went to Seville and had an amazing time in the sun with beautiful food and 5 bottles of beer for three Euro!

The autumn felt really slow after the buzz of the past two months and much theatre was seen, many books read and many gigs attended.
November and December brought all kinds of fun and more live sport, including a trip to Glasgow to watch the world's best compete!

I have loved this year and this blog post is more of a personal reminder for me of how blessed I am to be able to do all the things I love and have the resources to go to the things I want to go to. I have an amazing set of friends who put up with a full 12 months of olympic mania from me, and for that I will be forever in their debt... until Rio and they have to do it all over again!!

I wish this was more concise and coherent, but maybe 2013 will see me hone my writing skills... Everest this year is to write a novel!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Italian Job: Il Pirata

I recently paid a visit to one of Belfast’s best kept (relatively new) secrets. Il Pirata in Ballyhackamore, situated in the building that once housed KFC, is without a doubt the finest Italian I have had in Belfast.
We’ve come a long way with what we can offer as a city in the past few years and the standard of eateries has not been left behind in these improvements. Belfast now boasts a culture, arts and food scene to rival any European City, but we still hold that grotty charm that I love about this place.

Il Pirata is an authentic Italian restaurant that serves far more than pizza and pasta, I would highly recommend the polenta chips, they were scrumptious. On offer are a range of ‘small plates’ and main courses. The menu has plenty of choice without being too crowded and the portion size was good (though I would suggest ordering a side with the main meal)
I had the salmon and it was delicious, perfectly cooked and the flesh just flaked off and almost melted in my mouth. Everyone else in my party of 7 was also impressed with their dishes of choice. The atmosphere was casual and the wait staff were attentive and could offer good advice about what to order. (it took forever to get the bill though)
I will definitely be back to this restaurant and I am so glad that Belfast is finally coming into its own as a city and 2012 has most certainly been ‘our time, our place’. Get used to the increased numbers of tourists wandering about with cameras because I have a feeling we are only going to be seeing more of them!

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Water Sustains Me

I am so thankful I live on an island. There's something about the water that sustains me, there's something about the river that restores my soul and I love it!

 Today on my way home I took a walk down by the docks. The clouds were streaked pink coming off Cave Hill and I sat looking at Samson and Goliath reflected in the water until they faded into black to mirror the sky.

It's so quiet down there and it's mindblowing to imagine the noise that was there 100 years ago, the absence of rivet on steel is almost eerie. So as I sat and watched the last streaks of light fade from the sky I played this song [below] out of my phone, and at that moment I was so happy I could have just let the river carry me away. I am so blessed to live in this battered little city. I love its grotty charm and its wonderful people, I love its history and the future it has infront of it. Thank you Belfast for being so wonderfully you!

All that I have is a river
The river is always my home
The water sustains me without even trying
The water can't drown me, I'm done
With my dying
Where the blue of the sea meets the sky
And the big yellow sun [cranes] leads me home

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Northern Soul meets Urban Wannabe

I have been having some serious writers block. I was hoping 2 weeks of at Easter would go some way to sorting it, but we’re one week in and i’m not much further on.
I’m really excited about what i’m working on at the moment, but I just can’t seem to get any of it out onto the page.

I’m in the middle of writing a collection of poems on the changing face of my city. I’ve been studying the works of the old school Northern Poets; Longley, Heaney, Kavanagh, Hewitt etc.. and looking at how they viewed the changing landscape of their time. I’m trying to verbalise how I view the city in light of it’s literary and historical past, but also what this city means to me now and the hope I have for it’s future. I believe we are standing on the edge of a very pivotal time in our city’s story and I want to blend that beautiful Northern soul poetry with the modern literary heartbeat that is radiating from Belfast at the minute.

I don’t know if it’s possible, but if I get anything halfway decent i’ll let you know!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Alma Mater

I wanted to blog more than this in 2012. This post is more of a personal documentation than a carefully crafted treatise!

I'm at a pretty transitional point in my life at this moment and it's been a little disrupting. I've just left a wonderful school, where I have met inspirational teachers and taught confident and perceptive pupils. I had the chance to work in a brilliant department amongst a staff who value everyones individual contributions. In short I LOVED THAT SCHOOL.

Now i'm moving on

To the place where everything began for me. My alma mater. The school which shaped me, which nurtured me, which encouraged me. The school where the teachers I had have become my friends, where I found people to champion my dreams and encourage my talents. Where I feel at home.

But I am scared.

I'm scared that i've got expectations (something I try never to have) I'm worried that I will fail to be the person my friends here have championed me to be. That it will be too hard to fit in with a different role, that I'll mess everything up and disappoint those who have believed in me the most.

But I trust in my abilities, in the joy I get from teaching, that everything will work out fine. I trust that there is a God who is for me preparing my path, who knows the number of hairs on my head. A God who loves me more than anything I could ever do or fail to do.

The cry of my heart is to be someone who makes a difference.
It's not ok to me that kids go through their schooling thinking that they are useless. It's not ok to me that in schools children feel lonely, vulnerable and alone. It's not ok to me that school aged human beings think their voices are not heard or don't matter. I want to be a competent enough professional to ensure that I can make a difference.
This is all I ever wanted from life.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

World on Mute

It's like someone put a veil around me, a shroud of uncertainty and isolation. The world, usually in technicolour, seems somehow dulled. The mist engulfing the city tonight engulfs me too, pulling me into its unsearchable depths. My heart aches, my eyes feel heavy, like my soul. 
The river courses its gentle stream as I walk beside her, unaware of the raging torrents of emotion contained inside me. One foot in front of the other I carry on walking. I want to walk into the mist, to disappear from everything, to leave my responsibilities behind me. I want to leave the Lagan to her ageless journey. 
I envy her.
She knows where she starts and where she ends, coming to the final few meanders of her path here at the mouth of the ford where her secrets become the lough's; where the lough becomes the sea. Her path laid out before her every step of the way. But me? I wander at her shore on the edge of a knife, veiled and muffled. 
One foot in front of the other is all I can manage tonight.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

You have the capacity to be incredible!

I have just watched I have Never Forgotten you: The life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal and I have never wept so much at a documentary before. This man was exceptional.

Friday 27th January was Holocaust Memorial Day and I did a few lessons on it with some of my classes in school that week. When I was researching information I came across this man Simon Wiesenthal the 'Nazi Hunter', I recognised the name but I didn't know who he was. I've only just got round to watching the documentary I found on him and I am so glad I did! His story moved me immensely; he encapsulated the grief of an entire generation lost at the hands of the Nazi's. He raised a daughter who would never have anyone to call auntie, uncle, cousin, grandmother, grandfather. He continued remembering and fighting for justice for those he was never able to forget. And he kept going even when people accused him of making the holocaust up, refused to believe the things he went through and spat at him on the street. Because of this unrelenting vision he had it is possible to quote the paragraph below from the aforementioned documentary:

“Without Simon Wiesenthal’s activity, there would not be war crimes trials today. The reason that there is a permanent UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague is directly attributable to the work that Simon Wiesenthal began in 1946. No one had a more stacked deck against them than Simon Wiesenthal who came out of the holocaust with nothing, nobody, was 99lb and barely alive and with that he wouldn’t give up. To me that’s the lesson of Simon Wiesenthal; that one person if they want to and if they try can make a difference. He made a difference to the world”

For me the year 2012 will always be synonymous with the Olympics, but I want it to be much more than that. I want it to be a momentous personal year. I'll never win a gold medal, but I want to do amazing things, see amazing places, spend amazing times with great friends. So i'm keeping an 'Olympic diary' of all the really cool things I'm going to make a conscious effort to do this year. But after watching this documentary I think i'm also going to add 'find out amazing things that people have done' to the 'Olympic year' list.

Human beings are capable of incredible things, in the same way they are capable of unspeakable things. It is up to us to be incredible in order to prevent the unspeakable from happening in our world! You have a voice, and if you want to, if you try, you CAN make a difference!!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

If you were here beside me...

I can't explain what Snow Patrol's music does to me. Gary Lightbody is the best lyricist of the decade, hands down! There is just no arguing with me on this point!
To write a blog about how much I love Snow Patrol would never do my feelings justice, so I won't try. I'll just say that last night was a special experience, and as long as Gary is up there, it always will be!

"I miss it all from the Lough to the Lagan
and the lack of it splits me in two"
-New York

I just love the way he writes. His music is laced with Northern Irish idioms, you're listening to an amazing song and them BOOM, there's references to 'The Lagan', 'Ireland in the World Cup' and setting 'Fire to the third bar' The way he describes emotions is so beautiful it sometimes takes my breath away. Seeing Snow Patrol is always a profoundly spiritual experience for me, the lyrics are so special. It's like he sees into my soul and sings at exactly the frequency that makes it hum.

That is all I have to say.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Silent Conversation

"Words may be less important than I'd previously imagined."

Over the past few months it has become very clear to me that I love conversation. I long for words.Words feed my soul, they make me feel relevant, they make me feel human, they make me feel wonderfully infinite and completely inconsequential all at the same time! I cannot feel fully alive in a world without discourse.
Chat, dialogue, Pow-wow, debate; call it what you will, I will talk to you about anything! Made in Chelsea, Shakespeare, Celebrity Big Brother, Particle Physics advances in CERN; I'm not fussy, but please don't say nothing!

In pre-Islamic Arab society a person commanded respect based on their command over words. For them words literally were power. The Qur'an talks a lot about the power of words and the eternal consequences of them, so does the Bible. And I guess that I really do believe that words are power. As the most beloved headmaster of Hogwarts once said;
Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.

I have just been to see the silent movie 'The Artist' in the QFT. I'm not very good at writing reviews of things, but I really loved this film. It was a beautifully told story with an exceptional score and I enjoyed it more than I expected to!
I didn't miss the dialogue and the story was perfectly relevant and moving and enjoyable without it. Humans really are the most wonderful creatures- although this film also has an exceptional dog! If you get a chance I would really encourage you to go and see The Artist.  If you heard 'silent movie' and were put off I encourage you to think again.

Tonight was good.

And while I crave and long for conversation; I am willing to admit that there is, perhaps, more value in silence than I previously gave it credit for.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

From the Lough

The flat light swallows the line between sea and sky
and the hazy grey horizon holds it's secrets.

Dreaming of times long passed
The cranes lie sleeping

Silent steel and rope and rivets
inhabit their memories

Giants that built Giants,
White Star Liners and men

Thousands upon thousands of men
streaming through the gates as the siren summons

Silent now, a shadow of what was before.
2012 will resurrect her memory

But memory will not bring life
Not like before

In the flat grey light
The Giants keep their watch
and the Lough keeps her secrets.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

My Everest

Along with my early mornings and book reading; another thing I have taken up this year is running. I’ve always wanted to run a marathon, i’m thinking this year might be my year. If you know me you will know how much of a ridiculous challenge this is going to be!

My fascination with marathons began when I read Paula Radcliffe’s autobiography, she quickly became my favourite British athlete and that book started my love affair with autobiographies.

So this morning at 9am (an hour I rarely see on Saturdays) I got up, forced my sleepy little toes into my trainers and set off for my first run on the roads in Belfast. Marathon runners are, in my opinion, alongside rowers and gymnasts; the hardest working and most awe inspiring atheletes of them all.

I am not a marathon runner

But I have a problem. I want to do everything! If I had a hundred lifetimes on this earth it still would not be enough to do all the things I want to do and accomplish all the things I want to accomplish.
Marathon runners are driven, highly motivated, unbelievably disciplined... these are not really characteristics that spring to mind about me and my life! In fact i’ve started a lot of things with the best intentions only to leave them by the wayside in a few weeks

List of things I have started in my life but never finished;
-NaNoWriMo; Writing a novel in a month (twice)
-Learning Latin
-Started learning the piano/ tin whistle/ Bodhran
-Various cross stitch boxes
-Paint by numbers
-Reading The Bible in a year
-War and Peace (I just couldn’t do it)

2012 is my year! I can feel it. It’s an Olympic year, the culmination of years of training by Olympic hopefuls, the pinnacle of their careers. If someone can train for a decade for a chance at a medal, I can get off my ass for 5 months and train to run for 5 or 6 hours.... Oh dear goodness who am i kidding? This is going to be tough, but i’m determined to do this.

I’ll be raising money for SANDS and Life after Loss, two charities that help families in Northern Ireland cope with the tragedies of stillborn or neo-natal deaths.

Today when I was running (a measly 2.4 miles) and my body was telling me I needed to stop, I was thinking about Bear Grylls, who’s book about climbing Everest brings my total this year to #3.
My Father was the Base Camp Manager on the First Irish Everest Expedition in 1993 and I have heard countless Everest stories from him and his friend Dawson Stelfox (who successfully summited on 27th May 1993, becoming the first Irish man to climb the mountain) but until I read this book I really had no idea how hard it was to climb Everest! Possibly quite naïve of me, but I really never really considered just how hard it was to reach the top of the world. No amount of cash or medical advances can get you up there. You cannot be dropped off by helicopter because the air is too thin for the blades to catch, you cannot parachute from a plane, it is too high, and for every 6 people that summit 1 dies trying! The only way you can get to the top of the world is by sheer will/man power and a slice of luck.

Whenever I got to the part in Facing Up when Bear reached the top I burst into tears. I don’t cry a lot and I hadn’t even been feeling emotional throughout the book but I had been up that mountain with him, I had felt his pain and frustration, shared in the worry of his family and spurred him on when the going was hard. Whenever he reached the top I was there with him and I don’t know why, but it moved me. I asked my dad what Dawson said when he reached the summit and he told me these exact words which can be found in the book Everest Calling (an account of the 1993 Irish expedition)

... Dermot, the altimeter is reading 8848m and I'm sitting on the summit of the world.
... Dawson listen to me - you're the tallest man in the world ... and you've just made the first Irish ascent of Mount Everest and the first British ascent o f the North Ridge - absolutely magnificent achievement Dawson - we're surrounded here by people - Irish, Nepalese and Tibetan, everyone offering congratulations.

I am not insane enough to desire to scale the heights of the Himalyas, but if Bear Grylls can climb Everest after breaking his back just a few years earlier I would like to try to run 26 miles! Running a Marathon is my Everest and I can’t think of anything that could motivate me more than being able to raise money for these two charities.

Whenever I feel like I can’t go any further I think of Paula Radcliffe and her commitment, Bear Grylls and his determination and my baby cousin Max who I never got to meet.

I have a feeling that 2012 is my year.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

I am a self proclaimed night owl. Mornings? Not my thing. Anyone who has ever lived with me or seen me in the morning can testify to this. On weekdays I usually roll myself out of bed at the latest possible moment, running out the door with both shoes just about matching, no time for breakfast. Stopping at the traffic lights involves frantically rubbing the foundation streaks off the side of my face because I threw it on in a half asleep daze. The 25 minute journey to school is just about enough time to allow me to feel semi-ready to face the day!

I can imagine the shock and surprise on my mothers face if she had been in my house this morning. My alarm went off at 6.50 and I pulled back the covers, exposing my toasty limbs to the freezing blast of air outside the duvet; a full 40 minutes before it was totally necessary. I showered and went downstairs where the timer on my coffee maker had prepared me some warm, delicious roast Columbian. I had a bowl of cereal and for 20 glorious minutes sat with my back to the radiator, Bear Grylls in hand, sipping coffee and reading. I left the house at 8.00 after properly applying my face for the day and arrived in school early enough to get a parking space (very rare for me) and mark some work before my form class came through the door.


I loved it, I still hate mornings, but this morning as I drove up the motorway I felt ready for a day, instead of my usual general annoyance that it’s still dark and darkness is for sleeping!

I guess you can call this a new years resolution, and it’s going to be very beneficial if I plan on actually taking a decent stab at this 100 books in a year thing. And on that note i'm off to the gym, let's hope this shiny new enthusiam lasts...

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Flitting Things

I have a pretty addictive personality. It’s just a part of who I am, I don’t really know why I get addicted to the things i’m addicted to, but as long as it’s not crack cocaine or something I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to live with it!

When I was 16 I wouldn’t leave the house on a Saturday night unless I had set the tape recorder (yes, good old VHS) for Casualty and knew my best friend was also recording it, you know just incase mine didn’t work or I missed a few minutes off the start or the end! This was back before the days of the miracle invention that is iPlayer! But I literally would not leave the house unless I knew there were two machines taping it!
I even wanted to become a paramedic for a while until I realised I didn’t really like gore and I’m not that great in medical emergency situations, I tend to flap about a lot! But where is this going you ask me?
well... my latest obsession, though I’m going to use the word fascination here, is with the Amish! I’ve been watching the Channel 4 series ‘Living with the Amish’ and I’m hooked! The way other people live their lives has always intrigued me, be it in a religious order, in cultural antithesis to me or just in a different geographical location. I’ve said it once and i’ll say it a million times people fascinate me!

The Amish live their lives so close to the rest of the world yet they are so separated from it. They wear simple clothes, work really hard, have simple pleasures and for the most part they seem really happy. They genuinely like what they do and how they live their lives. I think sometimes I envy that simple life that they have, no credit card bills to pay, no Facebook to waste their lives on, the knowledge that there’s a huge extended network out there of people who are willing to give you a hand with things, just because it’s the right thing to do.
But then communities like this make me angry because they are depriving their children of a chance to see how wonderful the world really is. Yes there is joy and beauty in the stillness of the woods and creeks in Pensylvania and Ohio but there is also joy in the bustling city and the roaring ocean. There are other cultures, other sights, sounds and tastes.
“Taste and see that the Lord is Good” Psalm 34:8

I want to taste and see everything wonderful that God has created on this earth. I want to go to the desert in Africa and look up on a cloudless night to see the heavens teaming with uncountable, unreachable stars that seem so close you could touch them. I want to stand at the top of the Empire State building and look out over the most famous concrete jungle in the world, and see the city dwellers carry on below. I want to climb to the top of Macu Piccu and hear the Peruvian jungle hum with life, just like it did when the Inca’s lived there. I want to see the architecture in St.Petersburg and in The Vatican marvel at the roof of the Sistine Chapel. There is too much good on this earth to spend a lifetime in one small corner of it.

The book I finished reading today (#2) was the autobiography of Elissa Wall, a girl who escaped the strict regime of the Fundamentalist Later Day Saints (FLDS) a breakaway sect of the Mormon Church who practice Polygamy. She was married at 14, abused by her husband, manipulated by the ‘church’, suffered multiple miscarriages and escaped the FLDS community at age 18.

Stolen Innocence tells the story of her childhood, the beliefs of the FLDS movement and her life after escape. The book was disturbing to me in many ways. It does not surprise me that people can be as brainwashed as she was before she realised she needed to leave, and neither does it surprise me that their Leader Warren Jeffs (who is currently in prison) could be so cold, manipulative and repulsive. What did surprise me however was seeing that even when she knew something was terribly wrong, as did many others around her, she still didn’t think she could leave. The hold the FLDS had and still has to this day on their community is frightening. When I read about religious cults like this it helps me think about my own beliefs.
Jesus being born of a virgin, walking on water and rising from the dead are all pretty bizarre things. But then i look at Christianity and I see the freedom that can be found in Christ, the grace, the humility, the total transformation that being a follower of Jesus can cause. There was no freedom in Elissa’s early life, and even though she has escaped the FLDS and started a family of her own, she still grieves for the people she loves who are still inside the closely guarded community, who are still under the control of manipulative men and young girls who will go through the same ordeal that she suffered.

I don’t have all the answers and I certainly don’t claim to know all there is to know about what others believe and what they don’t. But I like what Emily Dickinson once said;
“Opinion is a flitting thing, but truth outlasts the sun”

Monday, 2 January 2012

Will Grayson Will Grayson

Book #1 Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
I love good young adult (YA) fiction and this book is one such example. Co-authored by two of YA's finest authors it is a triumph of wit, grit and substance. The story is about two boys, from different areas, who both happen to be in the same place for long enough to meet. They are both called Will Grayson. One Will Grayson is authored by John Green (Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska) and the other by David Levithan (Nick and Norah's infinite playlist) and the narrative is told chapter about. The novel explores being gay, being in love, getting through high school and the difficulties associated with the aforementioned things. It's pretty hilarious and I laughed out loud on more than one occasion.

Will Grayson (whose name is always capitalised) is trying to live his life without being noticed, which is hard when your best friend is a 6ft 6" American Football player called Tiny, who is also the gayest boy in school and writing a musical about his life!
will grayson, who is never capitalised (in fact there is no capitalisation in his chapters) is on medication for depression and the only person he has found who understands him is a boy he's friends with online named issac.

I flew through this one, the narrative was witty, the characters completely three dimensional and there were some cracker quotes. My favourite character was a smart indie girl called Jane who makes every scene she is in utterly brilliant. Will Grayson says of her;

"Sometimes I think, like, God, she's superhot and smart and kind of pretentious but the pretentiousness just makes me kind of want her, and then other times I think it's an amazingly bad idea, that dating you would be like a series of unnecessary root canals interspersed with occasional makeout sessions."

and she says of herself;
"'There are probably some girls who don't want guys to show up at their house randomly on a Tuesday night with questions about Edward Schrödinger. I am sure such girls exist. But they don't live at my house.'"

She almost made the book for me! But my favourite quote came near the end;

"This is why we call people exes, i guess -- because the paths that cross in the middle end up separating at the end. it's too easy to see an X as a cross-out. it's not, because there's no way to cross out something like that. the X is a diagram of two paths."

I really loved that, because I've always hated the term ex to describe someone who's been a part of your life. Just because they aren't in your life in the role they once were doesn't mean they aren't important in the story of the person you have become. It's a very sad two letters, like you've lost a part of yourself when the relationship ends. But actually I don't think that's true. I love the image of a relationship being a diagram of two paths, which meet in the middle for a while and then journey on. I found it pretty beautiful if i'm honest. It's not a cross out, it's not a mistake or a failure, it's just a reference point on the path of your life, a map that shows who you've become and how you got to that place.
That's nice.

N.B. I always love reading the acknowledgements page at the end of a book, and hidden in here was one that said; 'we acknowledge that being the person God made you cannot separate you from God's love'
There was no mention of anything like this in the novel itself and I really liked it hidden in here amongst all the others (which are pretty funny).

Of shorelines, ambles and good friends

I had a wonderful New Years Day.
Sundays are always 'friend' day, I usually end up spending around 8 hours with friends on a Sunday and it always sets me up nicely for the week. I can go into Monday knowing that whatever happens that week I have amazing people around who will be there for me! Today began with an amble around Helens Bay and lunch in the Crawfordsburn Inn, which is beautiful. Then a trip to see the 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' which didn't disappoint, followed by a delicious dinner of lamb with dauphenois (sp?) potatoes and red cabbage cooked by the glorious hand of our friend Matt.

I was never a really big one for resolutions, but i've been looking forward to 2012 for a long time... from the 6th July 2005 to be exact. I was 16, doing a summer mission, sitting in a church hall, eating lunch on the Cregagh Road (little knowing i'd be living there in 5 years) when I heard the news that London had won the 2012 Olympic bid. To say I was excited was an understatement. Some people like trains, some people like birds or chess or pressing flowers... I like the Olympics! I think I ran around the room a few times and jumped up and down, I was planning my summer 2012 way back in 2005.
I can't quite believe the year is here, back when I was 16 being 23 seemed ancient, and here I am, still feeling some days that I am still 16! So what do I hope for 2012, the year I've been waiting for?

There's so much I can't really even begin to blog it! Maybe i'll make a list, because that’s what you do at the end of years, and then you make a list for what’s going to happen in the next one. I like lists. I find myself making them quite often. Top 5 films, books, songs, foods... I could make a list of lists I like to make! Because I don't really like resolutions here's a reflection list

what i’ve learnt about myself in 2011

1. People actually like me and I shouldn't be afraid to be myself.
2. I can play the violin, badly
3. It's true when they say Latin is very hard to learn!
4. I don't really like Barrys in Portrush (I went for the first time)
5. I found a group of people in church who really 'get me'
6. I am getting better at writing- I had a piece of my work published
7. Joining a gym isn't hard, going as often as you should is!
8. Nothing can ever prepare you for the death of a child, and there is nothing that can be said to make anything better.
9. God is eternally faithful and even though I don’t always understand, or even know exactly what I believe, he is a good God.
10. Radio 4 kicks ass!
11. That end of term feeling is even better as a teacher than a pupil
12. Life isn’t always simple, but it’s much too short to live in bitterness or regret.
13. Love is complicated
14. I really like chilli cheese fries from Bens Chilli Bowl on U Street in Washington DC
15. Nothing makes a school more than a friendly staffroom!
16. Say no sometimes- otherwise you will be standing by the side of a swimming pool in Ballymena on a Saturday morning with a stop watch at a gala!
17. A whole bottle of wine will give you a headache the next morning!

The thing with lists is ending them, this one could go on for a while. So I will finish on 17.

My hope for 2012 is that I would be happy, that I would be employed and the one challenge I am setting myself (it's a tall one) is to read 100 books this year. Hopefully this will give me some blogging ammunition