on being a ship, not in a harbour


When I wrote this piece I was in a state of flux, and now some four maybe five years later I can only gasp at how much we were yet to know.

It seems that when you leave the harbour the waves do get higher, the winds can be angry or still, and without a map or a chart to find your way, well you just don’t know what is coming.  If only I had known then what I know now.

We ploughed on through our adventure and have found ourselves in a safe haven of hope and lovely things.  We have friends that mean the world, who we would never have met had we not moved with the tide.  I have spent years in an amazing job, with wonderful colleagues and amazing young people, and everywhere we look the sun is shining today.

The best bit?  Well we haven’t lost all the good things we had.  We still have our friends, we talk to people we love every day, we are planning a retirement and will hopefully spend it in the beautiful town that has become home.  Unless those worldly winds decide it is time to move again, and if that happens we will set sail again, knowing that the journey is possible, and carrying the memories made with us every day.


for as long as I can remember I have had a quote on a wall where I have lived.  Several different versions, from the first one I purchased from a religious book shop in Liverpool as a student, to the present bought in a gift shop on the North Antrim coast several years ago.

You see I always understood that being safe wasn’t the same thing as living well.  Despite, or perhaps because of, Mum’s determination I would never do anything dangerous and uncontrolled, I longed for adventure.  I recall many arguments as I tried to explain to Mum, if she didn’t let me get lost, I should never find my way anywhere.

So, today I am thinking of the recent few months.  The upheaval of packing up a home, the chaos of belongings I had no idea we owned and the decisions of what to do with them.  The people left behind, the people still to meet.  It seems that the worldly winds are lessening, the storm is passing, but by no means over yet.  I awoke this morning wondering where I was.  I remembered, and instead of being happy in this, my happy place, for a brief moment I felt dissatisfied, this was not how it was meant to be.

The sun is shining here, to be fair it often is, washing has dried on the line, yet more possessions have been dealt with, and plans for the coming weekend are forming in my mind.  It seems to me that I need to pay attention to my own favourite quote.

‘a ship in a harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for’

I was comfortable in my harbour, and having been forced to set sail amid a storm, it is going to take time to find my feet again.  We are, I believe keeping an even keel, and the pitch and toss of the sea below us is becoming less unsettling daily.  Land is not yet in sight, but we are safe and moving forwards.




the truth about motherhood

it is a universal truth than nobody ever tells anyone what it is really like to be a Mother.  You learn, by osmosis, by watching firstly your Mother and later other Mothers come into view.  You assume you understand it.  A year of so of broken nights will be followed by fun making things with toddlers and supporting them until they go off to university and a life of their own.  What could be easier?

The reality is so different.  What no one ever talks about is the all consuming fear you get from loving that little person so much. From the first night they sleep without waking, to waiting for them to come home from partying Mums live life in fear.  There is the fear that something will befall our precious babies, to the fear that we are not good enough parents.

I doubt there is a woman in the world who thinks she got being a Mum right.  Despite the evidence of mature functioning adults, living useful lives, she will always remember the times it went wrong.

It is time to believe in us, the Mums who did their best, that were good enough Mums and understand that our children love us, the best bits and the not so good.  Mums make the world go around, we need to be proud.

not losses but gains

we all have rubbish times, we all have days, maybe weeks when the world seems against us and the future looks bleak.  Sometimes bad things happen and we have to learn to deal with them.  I know about these times.  These times have happened throughout my life, just as they have for everyone else.  We lose people we love, we worry about illness, we struggle for money.  All are familiar and normal part of being a human.  I think the clever trick is to not allow these dark times to overwhelm us.  To look for the light in the dark, even if it feels very far away.  That way we remember that day follows night and we can survive

Despite having lots of experience of dark times, I have found the last three years a challenge.  Those worldly winds took their time in throwing us about.  The worry of illness, coping with change, well it has been quite a time.  There may well be more to come.  However in this years Advent, which will start on 1st December, I am going to look at the gains and not the losses.

You see amid all the sad, difficult, life changing events of recent years, we have had our share of light.  It has come in the form of people and places, actions and kindnesses, that had we not been thrown into chaos, well we would have missed them.

We have found our happy.  We have stuck together and laughed, cried and sometimes danced our way through, four house moves, two hospital stays, and through the darkness we not only saw the light we claimed it for our own.

Happy has been a long time coming, and we know more that most that it might not stay, but here right now I will be celebrating the light in the dark, that led us to find our happy.

on waiting for the right time

it seems to me that there never really is a right time for anything.  A bit like the ship that hovers near the dock but never quite comes in to shore, or the dreams for tomorrow that disappear with the new day, for tomorrow never comes.

The right time has to be right now, always.  We don’t have any other option.  What actually was I waiting for all those years, I will be a writer when I have time, I will learn to cook, to knit, to sew, one day, one day.  Suddenly you relalise that the day is here already, the time is waiting you just need to decided how to fill it.

I am not talking about the big stuff here, of course it takes time to get a degree, to grow a family, to loose the weight, gain the information or whatever it is you need to do.  It seems to me that none of this happens with a beginning.  Without actually doing something, about not waiting until the time is right but making the right time now.

I used to think about the future, when I had a houseful of babies, then toddlers and eventually teenagers.  The spacing of my family meant I had children for twenty eight years, before they were all adults, and even then they needed me.  It came as shock to me that now is the time I was thinking of through all those years.  Now is the time for me to choose what to do based on my needs, not theirs.  It isn’t easy.  For example, I love to write, I have several ideas for books developing in my head, some have even made it to screen and paper, but nothing is ever finished.  I didn’t have time.  That is not true, I had time I just didn’t do it.

So now is the time, I need to do it.



walking and listening

The loudest sounds happen in the quietest places.  Mostly I hear my heartbeat, regularly thumping with a rhythm of its own.  It echoes in my ears as I climb the hill.  It is beautiful here, always.  My thoughts are loud in my mind, as usual I am comfortable with them rattling around my brain.  It is different thinking when walking, I move to a meditative state along these familiar roads, trees and views.  They give me the space to hear myself.  I mustn’t get too insular though, I don’t want to miss the crash of the waves as I reach the top of the hill.  I hope there is no one around, for this is my favourite place to be, and I would rather not share it.  Down at the shore I am letting the noise of the waves wash through my head, listening to the gulls calling,  the clouds are running by and the wind is whipping up.  There is a peace in this place, for here I can hear my ancestors, also on this beach, perhaps also thinking thoughts.  For nothing is new, all my troubles have  been dealt with by those gone before.  There is a peace to that, and to the silence of the noise of the sea.