Tag Archives: life


I think it’s safe to say that 2016 is a dumpster fire. Between the deaths, Brexit, the impending US election, rising xenophobia and racism across Europe, terrorism, natural disasters…

Every year has its horrors, but it does feel like the status quo is being given an almighty shaking down this year.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but it’s scary. Some of what has been unleashed – racism here, for instance –  is truly horrific, but I suppose it was there all along. Perhaps this is the year of things coming to light, being laid bare, a mirror held up to ourselves.

After all, there’s Trump and there are the baying crowds cheering him on.

There’s Farage and now the spectacle of so-called mainstream politicians nicking not only his clothes but his manifesto.

The Establishment, intellectually exhausted and/or simply unwilling to admit that the neoliberal consensus has failed the many, takes comfort instead in populism. It is willing to “listen” and”pander” to only the most extreme and rightwing voices, deriding the res of us as the “metropolitan elite” – as if prejudice is a justifiable response to poverty..as if only poor people are racist. They offer no solutions. We have big problems, but our politics is small, its view of our humanity diminished, its perspective on that of the “other” even more so.

For me personally, the last few months have been a wild ride – highs and lows, sweet moments and heartbreak. There comes a point when you start to fear that this might be “it”, maybe you can’t come back together again, hope – and in my case, sleep – deserts you. A few more things happen and you start to wonder, is this the worst year ever?


But you rally. You always do.

I am hopeful that the 2016 tide will also turn. Maybe we won’t have President Trump, though the effects of this vituperative campaign, as with Brexit, will be felt for a long time to come. Things have been said and done which cannot be undone.

T’was ever thus.

We rally.







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A Life Well Lived

When I was an awkward 13 year-old ill at ease in my own skin and self-conscious about my eczema scars, this poem changed my life:

Phenomenal Woman- Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
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New Shoots

Today I bit the bullet and tackled the garden, uprooting weeds (well, most of the plants actually; at this point I can’t tell what’s what) and getting rid of empty snail shells and (cat? fox?) poo.

It was gross at times, it was hard work, but it was also therapeutic. Underneath all the mess, I can see snow drops and hydrangeas peeking through – they’ll be ready in a few months.

As I get more busy, my gardening has become more infrequent, which is a shame because gardens have life all year round . Even in the dead of winter there are always little signs that spring will come eventually.

It’s comforting. It’s hopeful. It’s a timely reminder that no matter what happens, life goes on.

I was dreading looking at my roses, which have been swimming in their pots thanks to the torrential downpours we’ve experienced this winter. But as I drained the water from the pots and pruned off the dead branches, I saw delicate little buds tucked away beneath the leaves, waiting for Spring.

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2014 or bust

2013 was electric for me. It’s the year that I began to write again. It’s the year that my inner activist woke up and the year that I resolved to overcome my fears and take more risks. Towards the end I burned out but I can’t wait for 2014 (and one of my resolutions will be to avoid that happening again. )

I know some of what to expect for next year: I will continue to write. I will try to be more bold but also take more care of myself. I will write my first dissertation and graduate with a Masters degree. At times I will struggle but at others I will soar.

As with every year, I will have to learn afresh how put to one side the blueprint I unconsciously assumed would determine my life and learn to roll with the rhythm of what is, not what I would like to be. I will be frustrated by dreams deferred and warmed by the hearth of dreams that I had forgotten or allowed to grow cold.

The rest is a delicious mystery.


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Tick Tock

At school it’s all so straightforward: you and your peers are moving together en masse towards adulthood with your life events punctuated primarily by exams. In your 20s, while some get married and others start work, a large number of you go to University – either way, you’re embarking upon THE REST OF YOUR LIFE*

(Along the way, you find out that it can be more of a stumble through the undergrowth but if you’re lucky you emerge scarred but not fatally so, and perhaps a bit more wise about the people and things that might cause you harm)

And then come the spates of weddings. Next, the rash of babies. It’s a very predictable course, but for some reason I’m a bit staggered: I have no less than five friends expecting this year and there at least four more that I’d wager are going to send me a text or email over the course of the year with the happy news that they are pregnant, to which my first thought is always, if I’m honest: “Wow, you’ve been busy!” followed swiftly by “Eww..didn’t want to go there” and “Oh my goodness a little you!”

At first, I guess I took the “miracle of life” for granted, but with some of my closest friends falling pregnant this year, watching them grow, both in size and knowledge, has been nothing short of amazing. I feel at once awed and humbled by the female body. Hearing all the detail about baby growth and development I find my thoughts immediately shifting to women in less fortunate circumstances, who bring their babies to term and into this world in poverty or instability, sometimes by themselves. I think of the statistics and how despite medical advances, pregnancy and childbirth is still a dangerous act that’s miraculous and grounded, visceral and wonderful, ancient and timeless all at the same time.

And yet, I still don’t feel it, that supposed tick-tock of the biological clock. I marvel at, and yet have no desire to enter the sisterhood of the motherhood, that secret, incredibly intimate but powerfully symbolic space. When I was 29, I fretted that perhaps I had taken a wrong turn somewhere in the undergrowth and emerged scratched and staggering into the wrong clearing while everyone else was getting married, buying houses and having babies in the next clearing over.

I hope I will one day; but right now I have filled my house with words, music and flowers. I love and am loved. I tend my garden. I explore my clearing.

*and for some reason, it is always presented as this neat and tidy finite thing, when in fact it’s a bit of a plan, a bit of a muddle and a lot of pretending you’re all grown up when you actually still find a video of cat pushing another one down the stairs utterly hilarious.

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