Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Another year, another many grey hairs.


Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoorIt is finally here. 33.
One more year until I am 34, the year I decided I would have no choice but to consider myself a fully fledged adult, after all, at 34 I will be older than Jesus.
Those of you who have kindly read my blog over the years will be aware that every year I have a wee look back as well as a look forward.
Every year, for the last few, I have been full of change. All I have wanted is change.
This year is different.
I always said that 32 was my year.
I had a feeling in my bones that I would have a good year being 32.
I got a new job, which pushed me to my limits but which satisfies my thirst for learning and growth.
I moved into a wee flat on my own which if we are honest can only be described as cosy but it fits my books, a kettle and my enormous box of Lyons teabags so I really have nothing to complain about.
I have friendships that have blossomed into truly beautiful friendships in this past year.
Steve and Jocelyn have become such a huge part of my life this year, and keep me on my toes with their practical jokes at my expense, enormous birthday balloons, and have kindly supplied me with a years supply of toilet roll (yet another joke).
Other friendships have just continued to grow and grow over the year, really helping me to settle myself in my life here in Aberdeen.
Musically, I couldn't have asked for a better year.
I got to see the Avett brothers play in London
Foy Vance literally brought me to tears in December
The Courteeners, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, The Temperance Movement were glorious.
I got to live a teenage dream of hearing Noel Gallagher and Richard Ashcroft play life.
I dated a lovely guy for a few months who made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world.
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and indoorI got to spend both the first and last day of being 32 with one of my favourite people on this planet, Claire.
I spent St. Patrick's day with another Irish person, Alma. Who is simply a dote.
I got to see my dad quite a few times over the year too.
I went to Ireland with my friends, and got to show them where I am from.
Beau was here not long ago for a visit, and he mentioned that I have inspired a story in him. The title is 'The girl who wanted to move to Glasgow but never quite made it'.
While I have never stopped wanting the move, it is now not the end all and be all of my existence.
I go into 33 wanting to embrace what I have.
Be the best that I can be, for me and not for anyone else.
I go into 33 quite content with where I have gotten myself in life.
I don't feel that I need to prove myself to anyone.
I am looking forward to the next 12 months. As always, I have no idea where I will be this time next year, but hopefully it will be a similar place. With similar optimism.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hometown Pride

A person I know came to me the other day with a problem.
Something that they were struggling with and something they really needed to talk about.
I did what anybody in my shoes would have done.
I listened.
The issue involved mental health. It wasn't their mental health it was that of a loved one.
Those of you who know me are aware of how important it is to me that the stigma surrounded mental health is dispelled.
So after she had finished speaking to me, I shared my story with her to show her that their was no judgement on my part.
She appreciated it.
I could see she felt better and we then carried on with our day.
The following day she came to see me again and she thanked me for my time.
I didn't need thanks
As I said above, I did what anybody in my shoes would have done.
I listened.
She felt I went above and beyond her expectations of the conversation.
I felt a bit embarrassed.
I didn't feel I had done anything special.
I came home and I started the think.
I will never turn away a person who needs a chat.
I might ask them to come back a little later but I will always make time for them.
Surely this is just something that people do.
Apparently it is not.
I wondered where this desire to help had come from.
I didn't have to wonder for long.
It came from my home town.
14 years ago, my entire town did that for me.
People I didn't know that well held me when I cried.
People I had spoken to once or twice hugged me when I looked down.
People I had seen since school sat beside me and held my hand
Or walked with me when I needed a walk.
One memory that will always stay with me is my neighbour Dominic who I knew but not particularly well. He actually held me up while I stood and watched my sister be buried.
Nobody ever expected thanks.
Nobody ever recognition.
I was one of them and they were going to be there for me.
I look at who I am now and that love that I received from my home town is what made me who I am today
That love is what taught me the importance of just being there.
The importance of listening
The importance of caring.
My town had a tragedy last week.
I knew one member of the family involved but I feel as though I know them all.
I have watched a little girl grow up via Facebook because she was in photos with my friend's children.
I felt all the over here, my town grieve for a little girl.
My friends hurt over their loss.
I felt their love pouring out for her parents.
As broken hearted as I was watching all this from abroad, one other thought ran through my mind.
Of all the places in the world to live in the time of tragedy, they are probably living in the best possible place.
My Facebook feed has been a web of love and support.
Of mourning and grieving as a community.
It took me back a decade to when I needed that love and support.
I felt proud of my home town
I felt proud of my friends.
The resilience they share is inspiring
The love they spread is inspiring
And not once does anyone expect anything in return.
That town has gone through so much loss
It has had more than its fair share of tragedy
But the people in that town just share their love and kindness.
My dad was talking to a girl the other day who I had helped source a gift over Christmas.
She told him what I had done.
It was a simple task for me, my feeble effort astounded him.
When he and I spoke about it, I said to him that it was nothing. I was able to help so I did.
I will always try to meet or support or help people from my home town.
It isn't because I am nice.
It isn't because I am overly generous with my time.
It is because I will spend my life thanking my hometown for their kindness to me
and showing them that the love they showed me is returned in kind.
Growing up I couldn't wait to leave my small town.
Idle gossip is a curse to any teenager.
As an adult I am so proud of where I have come from.
It has made me a stronger person
A more loving person
A more tolerant person.
Ennistymon, please never change.
You truly are the best place in this world.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Life of Lu. 2017 so far....

I can't believe I have made it to mid-February without a blog.
I can't believe that my pal Claire hasn't sent me a few reminders that I haven't written in a while. Usually I get a message followed by life events she feels I should or could write about! Ha!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and indoorSo, we are into 2017. I can't believe we are so far into 2017. It seems that the older I get the faster time passes. I was in Ireland last week. I went to a gig and of course to see the man himself for his birthday. Naturally I stopped off to visit my granny too. I make it a point to see her every time I am back in Ireland. I brought two friends of mine with me. One of my cousins was too shy to come and say hi because the guys were with me so I went out to her house to see her. I was astounded by how grown up she has become. I said as much to my granny and my aunts when I went back into Granny's house, and they started telling me how old my 'baby' cousins now are. I was so shocked! In my head they are roughly the size that they were when I left over five years ago. I suddenly felt so old, and so very far away. I remember when I was a child, my aunts had cousins come over from the UK to visit them. It was always a little bit scary but very exciting to meet them, especially when they brought friends or boyfriends. I realised as I sat in my granny's house that I am now that cousin. I am the one that comes home with random strangers and a peculiar accent. As always, I was given a talking to for now having a more progressive love life from my grandmother. She actually came out with 'All work and no play makes Louise.....'
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, grass, sky, outdoor and natureThough, I wouldn't have her any other way. My friends adored her and she was very excited that my bearded pal gave her a kiss on the cheek. I think it might be her highlight of 2017! Ha!  When we left my Granny, the boys and I were chatting about grandparents. My heart swelled with love and affection for my granny as we talked. I simply adore the woman. Her love, warmth and acceptance is always unwavering. Her tenacity is inspiring and I think that I get a lot of my strength from her. I will see her again in a few months and I can't wait.

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and foodImage may contain: 3 people, people smiling, close-up and indoorI loved being able to show my little bit of Ireland to the boys. They have both been good friends to me, and have both let me see where they are from. I really enjoyed being able to return the favour. Galway was wet but as beautiful as ever. County Clare was amazing to visit too. We stayed in Kilfenora for the night, met my Dad for a birthday meal and some cake, we went set dancing, saw the Father Ted house, met Da for lunch the next day and saw the falls in Ennistymon, and we went to see Lahinch. I loved showing this part of my life to my friends. I love that I got to introduce them to the people who mean the world to me. My dad loved meeting the boys, I think he liked seeing how much they care for me over here in Scotland. I can't help but feel their paths will cross again.
It was great to get to spend some time with my Da, This is the third birthday in a row I have been able to spend with him which is the first time in a long time that I can say that!

Image may contain: sky, mountain, grass, plant, outdoor and natureAs starts to 2017 go, it was been a good way to start. I have done so much exploring of the county in the last month especially around Inverurie and the area north of Aberdeen. There is a lot of changes happening at work over the next few weeks and I am thinking about moving flat again. (I know, I know... but double glazing is vital this far north and I have just spent a winter without it.) There are so many gigs coming up and trips around the country with work. I am so excited to see where 2017 will take me.  I am also spending time with my favourite lady in Scotland and hitting the Brewdog AGM again this year for my birthday. Lesson was learnt the hard way last year. Gin is NOT my friend.

So here is to a fun-filled, fantastic 2017. I look forward to blogging about it a lot more.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016... oh what a year!

When we look back on 2016 in future years, without a doubt we will wonder what kind of mockery of time 2016 really was. So many of our idols left us, Trump became president, Brexit happened. It was a trying and emotional year for many. So many people want to forget 2016 ever happened. Not me. 2016 was one of the best years of my life. It was one of the toughest years so far but without doubt it was one of the best.

I want to start 2017 satisfied that I did myself proud in 2016 which is the purpose of this blog. Nostalgia and self indulgence at it's finest! Ha!

Image may contain: mountain and outdoorI made myself a wee list of things that were great about 2016 and it is honestly going to be a struggle to choose a favourite. There are many things that are potential favourites, one of which was the reunion of Lu and Tif after 9 nine years. Not only did I get to see Tif, I got to meet Joe and their families, I met Schonie and her hubby Preston, and of course, I got to catch up with Beau. I spent a week with Tif and in that week she showed me half of Utah. I got to see the snow of Pine Valley, the rusted landscape of Zion National Park, the inversion of Northern Utah!
Image may contain: 4 people, people smilingEvery day of that trip was superb. I met so many wonderful people, saw so many wonderful places of which I had heard multiple stories over the years from Tif and Beau, and I finally got to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing live. It was such a great visit and it was the visit that made me decide that I needed to change my life and that I needed a change of job. You can read about the trip here.
I also got to see Adrian and Chrissie in North Carolina,meet Uisce and Echo, go to a proper college basketball match and meet their lovely pals and I headed to Vegas for a few days. It was amazing.

It has been a dream of mine for many years to hear the MoTab sing. Not only did I get to hear them in the actual Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, I also was afforded the opportunity to listen to them sing in Brussels at Palais des Beaux-Arts. I love music, but the MoTab has an amazing ability to draw all emotion out of me. I cry with each crescendo, I cry with each lamentando, I cry and cry and cry but never out of sadness. Simply out of awe and exhilaration. Brussels was so much fun, so much chocolate, beer, culture, laughter. It was a good three days.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smilingBarcelona was also amazing. I went with my Auntie Vera, the most important woman in my world. It was a brilliant trip. We saw the fountains, Poble Espanyol, some Dali stuff, Parc Guell. Oh it was fabulous, but the highlight was possibly getting stuck in a thunderstorm with Vera. The photos were hilarious!!

There were many other visits throughout the year, home for father's day, home for weddings. I got to travel around Scotland quite a bit too. It was a good year of adventure. Looking for Oor Wullies in Dundee, exploring the sights of Fettercairn, finding ducks in Glasgow. Home was as much fun as abroad.

Image may contain: 4 people, crowd and indoorMusic featured massively this year. I had the fortune to hear so many great artists live and meet so many wonderful people along the way! I heard Richard Ashcroft sing 'Lucky Man' live, I heard Noel Gallagher sing 'Don't Look Back in Anger' and 'Champagne Supernova' live! Iain and I also went to the Courtineers which was great, and I can't wait to see them again in May!
Mark's influence played a huge part on my year musically. I got to see the Temperance movement (Though with my pal Craig), We saw the Avett Brothers in London with Caoimhe, and I got to meet some of the loveliest men there, including his dad. We saw Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, in November and Foy Vance in December. So much music, so much laughter and twirling and so many great introductions!! I also went to see Blue Rose Code who is one of my favourite artists here in Aberdeen, and I look forward to seeing him in Galway in February with Mark and Iain!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, indoorSpeaking of Galway, 2016 saw two crackingly good Galway weddings. Davet and Caoimh in April and Donagh and Maria in October. We also had the Rowse wedding of September 2016 which was a kilt filled banterful day oot. I got to see so much more of my dad this year, including seeing him on father's day. I have a new job which I love even when the going gets tough and as a result I have made so many new friends. One of whom even adopted me for Christmas this year. I also got to spend my birthday with my favourite at the Brew Dog AGM... passionfruit sour beer.... mmmm....

Looking back at 2016, it is easy to think about the bad stuff. There was lots of it. There still is.
But for me, when I think of 2016 I want to think about how much love, music and laughter the year brought. And anyone who reads the life of Lu will tell you , there are three things which I think are important. Love, music and laughter.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and indoorThere were some huge life changes for me this year too. I moved into my own wee flat, started a new job, dabbled in the dating world again for the first time in a long time and in staying in Aberdeen I met some amazing new people. Personally I am excited about what 2017 is going to bring. I am already booked up for some amazing things. Galway with two of my favourite people in February, and getting to see my dad then too. Going to see Foy Vance again in May with Mark, and the Courtineers in Manchester with Iain AND I am returning to Utah for a wee visit too!

So, Happy New Year folks, may you all have a wonderful 2017! xx

My ten lessons from 2016 that I will bring into 2017 are as follows:

1. Music makes everything better. Sing, dance, hum, twirl. It works.
2. Gin is NOT my friend
3. No matter how lonely you can feel, you are never really alone
4. I have no ability as a gardener. All plants in my ownership will die. Slowly.
5. Baileys Haagen Daas can be bought at Sainsburys.
6. Laugh through the tough times. Silliness makes everything easier.
7. When you ring home, remind them that you love them before you hang up. 
8. Keep writing.It along with music makes things better.
9. Keep drinking tea for the same reasons.
10. Be ok to let go when you have to. Trust your feelings.


Go mbeirimid beo an am seo aris!

Monday, November 28, 2016

12 years and counting....

It is that time of the year again, my sister's anniversary. 12 years since we bid her farewell.
Well, tomorrow is her anniversary but I am having a very lazy morning and as a result I am writing this today.

For the past 11 years, the entire month of November has been a struggle for me.
In the beginning it was a raw struggle. Every single day from the 10th (her birthday) to the 29th (her anniversary) was like a hot blade slicing through my heart.
I think it is because the loneliness of not having her with us to celebrate her birthday is intensified by the fact that her anniversary is so close, and there is an awareness and an emotional surge in the three weeks between that just lingers in my subconscious.
Now, I definitely do become very low for those three weeks, but it is much easier to bounce out of it as we approach the anniversary and I realise that my irrationality of the last three weeks was simply bottled up emotion from the remaining 49 weeks of the year.

This year was a tough year.
The theme of this year was loneliness and I allowed myself to get sucked into a vortex of a fabricated loneliness. I often tell my team that a problem shared is a problem halved yet I am the worst person in the world for heeding my own advice. It is funny how, for someone who enjoys story telling so much and who talks so much I really dislike talking about my feelings or my emotions. I think that is why I enjoy to blog so much. It is like my own little release. Just I share it with an awful lot of people.

Image result for friends  quotesThankfully, I have built a solid foundation of friendship and love here in Scotland.
In hindsight, it was so rude and unappreciative of me to feel like I was alone here.
I have the best friends any woman could ask for.
I really do.
Some I don't see often. Years can pass between catch ups.
Others I see once every couple of months.
Few I see more frequently.
Yet over the last few weeks I have been showered with love and affection.
Hugs, dinners, beers, twirls.
Showered in an abundance upon me!
My friends saw that I was in a low place.
The lowest that I have been in the last few years.
Together they worked to pull me out of it.
Successfully I would like to add.
My heart is again soaring.
Thank you, friends.

This year, as I think of Marguerite, I think of how much love and joy she brought in to my life.
What is it that I miss about her?

I miss her smile. She had the best smile. When Marguerite smiled you couldn't help but smile with her, unless her nose did a weird little crinkle thing... that is when you started looking around in a panic to see what she practical joke she was playing on you.

Her laugh was great too. I was always afraid that I would forget what it sounds like but sometimes I still hear it when I think of her. We had an amazing ability to fight like cats and dogs but we also shared a lot of laughter together. Her impersonations were the stuff that legends are made of!

My sister could read me really well. She knew when to give me a hug. Even at the tender age of 17 she had a certain maturity about her and could read people quite well. I loved when we had our sisterly chats. She was coy about what she divulged but it was always a good giggle.

I always feel that Marguerite is close to me. I always feel that she is around.
Today, as I read back on what she meant to me, I realise that the life I have created has all the same richness that she had in her as my sister.I will never have the chance to speak again to my sister, but in my life here in Scotland, I have all the love and laughter that was taken from me 12 years ago tomorrow just in a very differently wrapped package. This anniversary, I will be smiling as I toast her with a glass of Framboise.

Image result for friends strength quotesThank you to all the friends and family who have allowed me to regain that joy in my life.
Thank you for reminding me of my own strength when I feel like I am breaking
Thank you for reminding me of how much I am loved when I feel all alone
Thank you for making me laugh when I am drowning in sadness
Thank you for giving me a twirl when the music has stopped playing
Thank you for the care packages when I am too tired to care for myself
Thank you for just being.

 Thank you. A million times over. Thank you.



In the immortal words of my darling sister

'Il y a beaucoup de fleurs'



Sunday, November 20, 2016

Oh Glasgow... you have done it again

I spent the last two weekends in Glasgow with my friends.
Two weekends off in the lead up to Christmas I hear you say?
A store manager who is away from her store in this peak period.
Yes. I was off. I booked it at my interview and I loved every second of it.

Last weekend I went to see Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats in Barrowlands.
If you ever get the opportunity to see them play, do. They are superb.
It was such a great weekend.  I got to catch up with Craig and Mark. I got to twirl. I got to just chill out with some of my favourite people and it was amazing.

This weekend, my pal Iain and I went to Glasgow to see the Courteeners. It was such an amazing weekend. We found tayto (they were NI version but still a tasty surprise), an amazing wee restaurant in the West End that does a mean steak, we hit Brewdog and Innis and Gunn, got to play with a puppy called Molly,  saw the gig, had chicken pakora on the way home. I got to meet my Glaswegian adopted brother who gave me the loveliest gift bag of goodies and more importantly a hug. I miss his hugs terribly. They are always so warm!

As we walked through Glasgow last night, I lamented about how much I miss it. Iain's suggestion was 'well move back down south!'. In this limbo existance of post-Brexit Britain it is a tough decision to make. Should I wait and see if I can stay in the country before I move or should I just get the ball rolling and have a conversation with work about what the future looks like. I guess all I can say is watch this space...

Most of you who read this already know that November is a difficult month for me. My sister's birthday is at the start of the month and her anniversary at the end. The three weeks in between are a constant reminder that she is not here. I become rather emotional. Not in a 'I cry at the drop of a hat' way, but in a 'I feel so lonesome' way.  Definitely my move to the Siberia of Scotland has exaggerated that feeling. The last few weeks have been so draining, I have felt myself sinking into a pit of self pity which is a horrendous place to be. I am so grateful that I have the friends that I do, who have recognised that I need a bit of love right now and have gone out of their way to show it.

My 'chill out fairy' who for the purposes of this blog I shall call Claire... arrived at work during the week to leave a wee care parcel for me anonymously. Hot chocolate, face masks, a colouring book, fluffy socks and chocolate. It was such a lovely sentiment and it made me feel so loved and cared for. Yesterday, Paul gave me a similar gift yesterday and again I was so taken aback by it. Both care packages came with a very strong message and that was that I am not alone, even when I am on my own, even when I am feeling the distance between me and my friends. Not only that but that I need to care for myself better. I need to practice what I preach and stop to smell the roses.

I was talking to a fellow colleague of mine today and I was talking about how I am spending Christmas alone again this year. She went quiet for a few moments and then came back to tell me that it wasn't an invitation as much as it was a statement, but that she would be picking me up at work on Christmas eve and dropping me back to work on Boxing Day. I would be staying with her , her hubby and the in-laws for the duration of the Christmas period. I am overwhelmed to say the least by the invitation. I know it is just a day, and I know that a lot of people spend it on their own or just with their own immediate families, but that day feels a hell of a lot more significant when you are on your own, in a city miles away from your friends and family with no where else to go. This year, I am being adopted. Though Lou is just for Christmas, not actually for life.

So I guess the point of this post is thank you. Thank you to everyone who has gone out of their way to show me so much love over the past few weeks. Thank you for making me realise my own self worth and helping me rise out of the pity pit I was creating for myself. I said 2016 would be a good year in the life of Lu. It was (though it sucked in pretty much every other way!), I said that 32 would be my year and it hasn't let me down too much yet.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Day 2 → Write a short story/scene using the following words: luscious, debilitating, sunny and brick.

Aubrey sat with her back to the other children trying her hardest to ignore their shenanigans.
She had been warned not to let them stir any trouble that day.
She had been warned not to let them spoil their dinners.
Her pleas and warnings to her siblings to behave had fallen on deaf ears.
What child in their right mind would give up the chance to go blackberry picking on a sunny day?

Knowing that her protests would be futile against the promise of an afternoon of luscious berry tasting, Aubrey had set down a few rules.
Rule one. All berry picking was to be done by the stream so that hands and faces could be washed quickly if an unwanted visitor or parent happened upon them.
Rule two. No berry was to be placed inside any garment of clothing due to staining
Rule three. No berries were to be eaten within her eyesight so that she could honestly say that she had not seen the children eat a single berry.

Aubrey sat on a mossy rock, her bare feet dangling in the cool waters of the babbling brook. She had always loved this little stream. As a child, she had planned it as her escape route if ever she were followed by a wicked witch. Everyone knew that witches couldn't cross running water. Aubreys father had even made her some stepping stones to pacify her and ensure her of her safety in such a situation.  Her only fear in that scenario was that the witch would strike her with some debilitating curse before she made it to safety but her father had told her that moss people would protect her as she had a gentle soul and a kind heart.

A shot from behind her pulled her from her memories. A cocophony of shouts for her brother Conn brought her to her feet before she even realised she was standing. She could see him, crouched over, further up the stream. She ran to him as quickly as she could.

'Conn! Conn! What is it? Are you hurt?'

The child turned his head towards her shaking it from side to side. His eyes were filled with fear.

'No. I'm not hurt, but Aubrey... look....'

Aubrey looked at the spot where her brother was pointing. There was a peculiar ripple of water swirling around what appeared to be an old brick in the middle of the water.

'Conn, it is a brick. You gave me such a fright, I thought you were injured'.

'No, Aubrey! Look at it!'

The urgency in his voice startled her. She stepped further into the stream to inspect the brick. There appeared to be some writing on the surface. As the symbols became letters, the recognition of the words forced a gasp to escape her lips.

'Aubrey, Aubrey, pure and fair
Cross this water if you dare
A young child stolen years ago
Will now inflict an awful woe.
Aubrey, Aubrey find your home
For soon you shall be all alone.'


'Aubrey! What does it mean? What is going to happen?'

'I don't know Conn, but we need to leave her now!'

The other children began to whimper in fear.

'We all need to leave her now. GO GO GO!'

The children grabbed their belongings quickly and began to run towards their nearest farm. Aubrey's heart was pounding in her chest. What could all this mean? How was her name on the brick? She knew no other Aubrey. It had to have been for her. What child was stolen? What woe? She needed to speak to her grandmother, that much she knew. Her grandmother knew things that other people didnt. She would understand what the message meant.

Sitting on the opposite side of the brook, a hare watched the children scarper into the distance. She twitched her tail in delight. This plan was going even better than hoped. They hadn't expected the children to discover the brick for at least another 10 tides. Soon Aubrey would be home. Soon peace would be restored. Soon she would be able to return to her human body and leave the confines of the hare behind and reign her lands once again.