chronicle of an empty nest foretold

Off they went, both my little people, for a week. A week of Irish dancing and carrying on with others from different parts of Europe, in Poland. Parents and grandparents scoured social media for updates from the festival or dancers. It’s entirely possible that one of us actually waved with excitement at a screen on seeing a pic with daughters in it. (Technology, eh?)

pier jumping not dancing

And back in Belfast we looked at each other, and around us, a bit like meerkats. Is this what the rest of the world is like? What do people do with their days?

We had adventures, doing things we don’t normally get a chance to do. There were cocktails, afternoon tea and a fancy lunch or two. We explored Parliament buildings, listened to music in a pub, and went to a different beach. We watched a box set, read multiple novels and had boring financial conversations with someone who understands these things. The house stayed tidy. There were no random explosions of energy or noise. No complex taxi arrangements negotiated with known unknowns via snap chat. No daytime TV. All was calm. Ordered.

We’ve had fun, of course. But yet…

Half of us are missing. Jake keeps having a sniff about to figure out where they’ve gone. We haven’t laughed as much. I remember now that watching soap operas is meant to be a social activity. My arms have ached with the empty. I didn’t start counting down the days until they were half way through; now I’m at hours. They’re coming home today, and I’m very excited.

A week, people. It’s only a week. They’ll be grown up in the blink of an eye, and we’ll all be laughing at my excitement of today.

This evening chaos, noise, squabbling and laundry return in full force. My arms and my heart will be overflowing.

(Expect the next post to be grumbling about chaos, noise, squabbling, laundry and teenage attitude.)

feeling the buzz again

After months of busyness and exhaustion, I’m beginning to recover. Maybe it’s the prospect of long days in the middle of nowhere, or family time with Nana and Grandad. Or maybe it’s dancing free weeks ahead. Whatever the reason, I’m chuffed to feel the space, to consider that I can use that, to feel that all my energy isn’t being subsumed by just keeping going.

Today, tasks seem like a bit of work, rather than enormous, shapeless mounds which defeat me as soon as I think of them. I’m going to apply for a part time job. I don’t expect to be considered for it, But I’m going to apply anyway, because I think I’d be great for the organisation. (Where did that confidence come from? I hope it stays.)

I’m going to figure out how to be organised. Rumour has it that nifty apps make that easier than I’d think. I just need to learn how …

I’ve had plans, for far too long, to add all sorts of patient information and rare disease information to the blog, so I know where I can find it. That would teach me how to curate content, which is apparently a good thing. I can do that.

I even applied for a bursary to go back to the summer school I was at a few years ago. Memoir, poetry, talks, drama- how exciting would that be?

Our book club recently read Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel. There’s a lot to like about this book- don’t let it’s partially post apocalyptic setting put you off- but I particularly enjoyed how Shakespeare and music continue to survive and enhance lives. There is humour and empathy, murder and broken hearts. There are lists of what’s lost and a museum of the pre apocalypse mundane. There is a wonderful reference to Star Trek Voyager, as the motto of the Travelling Symphony is ‘Because survival is insufficient.’

I like that sentiment. I want to do more than simply survive. I want to have fun and be inspired. I want to connect and challenge. I want to learn new things, and share the things I already know. I want to laugh on beaches and cry in chapels and snuggle on sofas (or any variation on those). I want to spend time with my people and have little adventures together.

We know that my ME means that my grand plans may stay as simply plans, but we know also that I like to mark the good moments, to remember that behind the added weight, the pyjamas, and all the snoring there are times I feel like myself. That’s always worth celebrating.

the hungry eye sees far

When something is on your mind, you see variations of it everywhere. If you have a wee notion for someone, you’ll spot them the instant you walk into a crowded bar; if you are broken hearted due to miscarriage, all you’ll see are babies and toddlers, swarming about the park, giggling and beautiful. We’re preoccupied, and our mind focusses on that theme.

It should be no surprise that I clicked on three links on the same topic the other day- two of them were connected to Module 1 of my #SHCR experience (it feels like a different thing than a course). The other was on Marie’s blog- a regular read, full of good thoughts and challenging thinking. Well, it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but my head exploded.

Link #1- Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability. Brown talks about connection giving meaning and purpose to our lives, and that vulnerability is vital in making those connections. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable means we can be joyful, whole hearted, and kinder to ourselves and others. She also tells us about the nervous breakdown she had on the way to believing that for herself… It’s a very entertaining, persuasive talk.

Link #2 – Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer. We know that Marie’s blog is always worth reading, but this post chimed- reflections on blogging, life and health- storytelling, connection, vulnerability.

Link #3- just in case I wasn’t getting the message, I clicked on this post by LeadershipFreak The Most Powerful way to Enhance Influence. By this stage, you’ll not be surprised that I found the message Connect by gently stepping toward people with an open heart. And, in the comments, a thought that summed up all of the messages I’d been getting that day Vulnerability is like a hug. You can’t embrace anything without first being OPEN.


We spend much of our lives protecting ourselves. This may not be the way to get things done, and, counter intuitively, it actually damages us. Life is easier when we have support. But we have to acknowledge that need first. It’s not a failing: it’s our humanity.

Feel the love, people. Go and hug someone (dogs & pillows count). Let’s all try being openly imperfect humans. No need to pretend we know what we’re doing. Muddling through, together, trying and failing and trying again- that’s grand. That’s how it works best.