Moving to the UK – it’s further than you think


small__8645846222The title of this blogpost will surely, one day, be the title of a book. I will write of how I took the 300 (ish) mile journey from Kildare, Ireland to Newport, South Wales – only to find that I might as well have come from the centre of a densely populated (but only by trees and macaws) jungle.

We have been here over a month and we are still filling out forms. Long forms, with tiny boxes, wanting nitty, not forgetting that gritty, information about who we are, where we have been and what emissions we are emitting into beautiful Welsh air; from our car, you understand.

We’ve gone through the job seekers allowance application twice since we got here (that must be some kind of record). We made the mistake of leaving the country for a few days, so had to close down the claim and reopen it. Having lived in the UK before, I have a UK National Insurance Number already. A huge relief, as I’m not sure there’s enough ink in my pen to fill in that form.

Job hunting has begun in earnest and there’s one application and impending interview that I’m very excited about. If you’re of the praying persuasion, do please pray for God’s will in that one.

forms
A selection of said forms…

I get that there have to be checks to make sure people are who they say they are. I’m happy to wait my turn in the dole office and actually BE a jobseeker to get Job Seekers Allowance. Having been an NHS patient before, I am REALLY grateful for the health service. It’s not perfect, and many may think it’s a shambles. In Ireland, you PAY for the shambles, so I’m happy to wait my turn in a doctor’s surgery here too… That reminds me; I must register with a doctor. (Note to self, buy another pen!)

I will make one complaint, that is the process of reregistering the car from Irish reg to UK reg. That is still not done, as the hurdles we have to jump would challenge Red Rum on his best day. As well as it being complicated, it has turned out to be very, VERY expensive. So if you’re considering importing your car from Ireland to the UK, my advice is… don’t. I’m not kidding; had I known, I’d have sold mine and taken the loss on the chin.

Having said all that we’re very happy to be here. Enjoying being back in Malpas Road Evangelical Church, and hopeful for the future.

My heart is in Ireland, always will be. Difference this time is, it’s not broken to be away from Ireland. Thanks God for that.

photo credit: amandabhslater via photopin cc

Starting the New Year with reasonable demands


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I can still say that can’t I? I’m never sure when it’s too late to wish someone a happy new year… I’ve probably come back just in time.

Speaking of my absence… I’m delighted to see that even though it’s a month since I’ve written here, you’ve still been checking in and having a read. Thanks for that. As always, it’s much appreciated.

In case you missed it though, I’m now living in South Wales; the homeland of my husband. I’ve lived here before, so it kinda feels like home anyway. We moved back just before Christmas, so the last few weeks has been a haze of boxes – thankfully some of them were covered in Christmas paper.

This week we’ve spent a lot of our time filling in forms and taking or sending those forms to the relevant office to be processed. Bank accounts, registering the car, applying for job seekers allowance, applying for jobs. I’ve written my new mobile phone number so many times, I nearly remember it. (I’m not great memorising numbers – so this is a bigger feat than you realise.) I confess, a lot of it has been tiresome, answering the same questions repeatedly, trying to ‘prove’ who we are and where we live. Times like these can make me want to keep my head down. “Just leave me to do what I need to do, I’ll pay attention to that other thing when I’m done.”

Since I’ve written here last, Glasgow has had its 2nd tragic event in 2 years, another plane somehow fell out of the sky in Asia, and it seems the whole of Paris is on a lock-down as they try to track the terrorists who shot 12 people.

I don’t want to look up.

small__320922694I want to stay buried in the humdrum of bureaucracy. I can feel the call to look up, to look around and take in what is happening; I’m resisting it. The form filling is boring, and safe. And now that I’m nearly done with it, I wish I wasn’t!

I’m not sure what it is God wants me to understand or learn. I don’t know what it means and I’m not sure how to respond; but He is demanding my attention.

 

photo credit: runnx via photopin cc

Someone’s on the naughty list…


I have broken my very own rule of not leaving my blog idle for weeks on end. As a reader of blogs, I really don’t like to visit one, only to find it dusty and in need of a fresh post. And here I am, rocking up for the first time since Halloween!

Naughty Amo!

small__180146202
The Poolbeg Lighthouse & the east coast of Ireland

I do have reasons (excuses) for my absence though. It’s a frantic time for me at the moment. I’m 5 days away from relocating to the UK. If you missed that bit of news, you can catch up here.  I’m trying to pack my life into boxes, say goodbye to people, clear the decks as it were, and… AND I’m battling one of my winter lurgies. *cough *splutter

Yeah, yeah, I know, poor me, boo hoo… 🙂
I would be a firm proponent of the ‘let nothing stop you from writing’ ethos, but I have indeed let things stop me. Busyness, tiredness, coughing, crying, more crying, packing, and a heart bursting with emotion at the thought of leaving my homeland.

I hate goodbyes and because my days are full of them, I don’t want to write them. And it’s not just goodbye to Ireland, and my family & friends. It’s goodbye to an era, as we experience the first Christmas without my dad in the world. He WAS Christmas to us, and to think we’ll never gather in our family home on Christmas morning again is hard. Very very hard.

So I have allowed the pen to dry up a bit as I pack stuff, hug people and eat chocolate.

HEY! people keep buying it for me, what am I supposed to do…?

Not sure if I’ll be back here before 2015, So I want to thank you all for reading, and the support you’ve given me during the year as I’ve wrestled with loss, and rambled on about it here.

Here’s to another year of words. There might even be a few good ones.

I’m thankful to each and every one of you who has liked, followed, commented or just popped in for a quick read. Have a great Christmas all.

auntyamo x

photo credit: Corey Leopold via photopin cc

Having a Hopeful Halloween


I read the article written by J John about Halloween and I did agree with most things he said.  As a Christian who believes in the spiritual realm and its power, there is no denying that this particular holiday has a gruesome side to it, which has increased over the years.

I remember as a child, it was a very innocent holiday.  It was fun,  it was safe and we went around each other’s houses bringing home a ton of goodies similar to what our parents had spent the evening giving away to others. Being from Tallaght, I was aware that there was some strange goings-on up at the Hell Fire Club. I’d heard the folklore of the footprint of the devil himself in the foundations of the building. But all that was far removed from the fun I was having on Halloween Night.

medium_2992510617I get J John’s point about child safety, how it’s not ok for kids to wander aimlessly knocking on stranger’s doors any other day of the year, and that all our teaching of right and wrong to young people is, if not thrown away then put to one side for this particular night. 31st of October comes along and young people are encouraged to dress up as the most convincing axe murderers or witches. And let’s not even go there with the delightful horror movies.

These days, special effects don’t solely belong to the film makers. I’ve seen some very convincing photos of deformities, demons and more than a few pre-pubescent Draculas. I’m not saying, it’s nothing. I agree it’s all gotten darker – so has the world, but that’s another post… What I am saying is that the roof is not on fire just yet.

A lot of people will knock on a lot of doors tonight. In a time when the ‘open door’ culture has passed, here is one evening when a community literally opens up. Of course we need to protect our children and keep them as safe as we can. But I don’t think the ‘Christian’ answer is to keep our doors closed and keep our children inside them. On this one night, the whole community will be wandering around. It just feels wrong to shun it because there is a dark side to it; which by the way, is not the focus for majority of people. To most it’s about having fun.

If we’re going to talk about ‘evils’, are they lesser when it comes to the mass consumerism of Christmas (a holiday I defend far more vigorously!)? And what about the TV we watch the other 364 days of the year?

I just think J John missed an opportunity to offer some alternatives. ( In fairness his article may have been edited, but his own blog post on the subject says much the same.) And I think he omitted one very important point – the Light of Christ is brighter than any darkness. Many people don’t really believe in the significance of spiritual light and darkness. Those who believe in the Light of Christ know that the darkness is powerful, not as powerful as God though. I don’t like the idea of trivialising evil, but I also don’t think it’s a reason to close ranks and dismiss the whole thing with disapproval.

My hope is that families will have fun, communities will connect, and the Light of Christ will shine in the darkness. Tonight, and every night 🙂

photo credit: FGPhotography2008 via photopin cc

Arrgggghhhhh! What’s the point?


What the heck was today all about?

I left the house without my phone – a thing I NEVER do. I came home hours later than planned, having not bothered to check email acc #2 – even though I was on a laptop logged into #1.

Email from employment agency came in at 9.02 am “The phone number on your CV is wrong and we need to contact you.” But I didn’t see it until almost 5pm.
Hang on…..

THE PHONE NUMBER ON YOUR CV IS WRONG??????? I think not. I proof read that CV 100 times. They must have called and the phone rang out cos it was AT HOME! But no… I look at the CV and the number on it is wrong. The phone number is wrong, on the CV that I have sent out for admin jobs.

Note to self: Take ‘attention to detail’ off the CV when you amend it.

So I reply apologetically, then try his number, and lo! he answers. We have a great conversation. He loves my CV and thinks it’s perfect for the job. The job that is due to start at the end of August and will last for 3 weeks! NOT the job I applied for, the description on the job I applied for was wrong.

I mean…. what…? why….? What a load of wasted energy, then excitement, then angst.
What is the point of all the nonsense?

small__5488847470I don’t know; but here’s the thing. The reason I was late is cos I spent longer than I’d planned with my niece and grand-niece. Guitar lesson, lunch, chats and more chats. It was a fab day. Other news when I got home, I found that a book reviewer who I love is reading my book at the moment and it seems that so far she’s enjoying it. I got an email thanking me for my blogging/tweeting contributions to the Hay Festival in Kells, and the offer of a press pass for next year’s event.

At no stage did I ask ‘what’s the point?’, ‘what did I do to deserve this?’ That is probably because the answer is,.. nothing. Nothing to deserve the nonsense, and nothing to deserve the fun stuff. I reckon sometimes that’s just life; and we get a chance to break Murphy’s law.
Or at least even the scales of rough justice a bit… 🙂

photo credit: yommtde via photopin cc

Nice to meet you, I’m a lame sinner


‘Anagram your name,’ they said. ‘It’ll be fun,’ they said.
Yeah thanks for that!

medium_771321562You mix up the letters of my name and yes, you get some fun nonsense, but smack bang in the middle of the list is raw truth – Annmarie Miles is an anagram for ‘I’m a lame sinner’. It’s up there with the joyful ‘mother-in-law’ anagram right?

How annoying that it happens to be true…

I know it’s an uncomfortable thought for many. To say that we inherently bad, and not ‘naturally’ good. I look at a brand new gorgeous baby and think, “how could there be anything but loveliness and goodness in that little life?” But though I’m not a parent, so can only speak from looking at my own life, and I can tell you this – I didn’t have to be taught to misbehave.  Nor does it seem like the small people I encounter have to be either. I didn’t have to be led towards trouble. I had to be led away from it. My natural disposition was (and in many ways still is) to veer away from the straight and narrow. I had to be taught manners, taught to share, and corrected when I didn’t do it. I don’t know any child who didn’t have to be taught to say please and thank you.

sinner

I know how greedy and lazy I can be. How ungenerous I am – and I’m not happy about it. But I don’t kick my self in the shins about it either. I’m a work in progress. I’m on a journey, one on which I stumble regularly – but I always get back up. I’m somebody with a past I cannot change and a future that is filled with possibilities. I’m someone who believes in the grace and forgiveness of the Almighty God.
I’m a lame sinner – on the road to recovery. 🙂

 

photo credits:
drinksmachine via photopin cc
Terry Rogers via Pinterest

Letter to 15 Year Old Me


On the About Aunty Amo page I added an option for people to ask me questions. A question that came back to me is ‘If you could write a letter to your 15 year old self what would you say to her?’ So here’s the answer… 🙂

Dear Amo

dispic me
Despicable Me

you won’t recognise me but I’m the older, bigger, more frightened, less stupid & probably at first glance, disappointing ‘you’ 27 years from now.

I doubt anything I say will change you – if mam couldn’t get through then no one will, but here’s a few things to keep in mind.

In about 7 years from now, you’ll have a religious conversion that will frighten the life out of a lot of people around you. It will really annoy others – YOU will really annoy others. It’ll take you a while to get the hang of it but you will.
Keep moving forward.

Those nieces and nephews you have… well they’ll keep coming. Every year, there’ll just be another one. And just when your brothers and sisters stop providing them, the grand nieces and nephews will start arriving. Based on the ones you have at the moment, that might sound like a nightmare (I mean they’re great – but you’re talking about another 30 or so…and counting), but believe me they’ll give your life meaning that you have no ability to understand right now. You’ll end up with lots of babies to hold; and you’re gonna need them.

You will not marry L, D or P. That will seem like a bad thing at the time. IT IS A GOOD THING! You will however marry R. 🙂 And he will think you’re wonderful. You will never get used to how wonderful he thinks you are. In fact you’ll go out of your way to prove him wrong. Try not to do that too much; he’s wonderful too.

Your heart is going to be broken; more than once. I don’t mean by L, D or P. I mean your heart is going to be almost crushed – a few times over the years. The key word here is ‘almost’. You will make it. You’ll think you won’t survive, or be happy again, or even be able to keep breathing.
You will. Honestly… listen…
Hear that? Another breath. They do keep coming.

That religious conversion I mentioned earlier? I played it down a bit but it’ll be the single most transformational thing that’ll happen to you. You’ll still end up 42, overweight, frustrated and often very sad. But you’ll have an eternal perspective on things, a hope that makes no sense, a joy that keeps you strong and a relationship with God that will LITERALLY save your life.

Oh and you’ll end up working for a guy called Rob Parsons. He will say lots of great things, but one of the things you’ll remember above all others will be,
“You’re not as great as you think you are and you’re not as bad as you think you are.”
It’ll turn out to be very helpful advice.

amo permKeep singing, keep writing & keep your chin up. Amo x

ps You were right about The Cure – amazing
pps You were wrong about the perm – disastrous

I’ll never be the same again


The last two weeks have changed me forever and I know I’ll never be the same again.

I don’t mean that I will always grieve or that I will always be sad. I know that over time I will get used to the fact that my dear friend Tom O’Gorman is gone; and the ‘how’ of his death will become easier to bear.

I know this because I remember in 2002 when it was confirmed I would never have children, I thought I’d never get over it. I lost my ‘sparkle’ and thought I’d never get it back. But I did. It took many years and still at times it makes me sad. But it turned out that it’s true…
Time heals almost everything.

I remember at my lowest, God brought me to this verse, 1 Peter 5:10
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
I clung to that promise then and I do so again now; the promise that Christ himself, will restore me, will confirm me, will strengthen me and will establish me.

When I say I’ll never be the same again what I mean is, I’ll never look at the newspaper headlines the same again. I’ll never pass a shocking front page and wow for 20 seconds before returning to what I was doing without further thought. I’ll never see a leader without knowing that there are people who will be distressed by the giant printed words on a page. I will never trust the papers again. To my knowledge, nothing they reported was untrue. But they were not compassionate, they were not caring or kind. I wouldn’t have expected The Sun to be anyway – but I expected more and better from The Independent. And I will never look at their business in quite the same way.

So though I am sad now, I will not always be sad. But I will always remember that behind the dramatic headlines there are people hurting and grieving.
And I think that makes it a good thing, that I will never be the same again.

Added note (27th Jan 2014) I should add that my comments above re newspaper headlines, refer to the initial reports of Tom’s death. I acknowledge that there were some lovely tributes reported in the following days.

Turn around when possible…


You know when you’re about to set off on a journey but the sat nav hasn’t given you your first instruction yet? So you move forward so it knows which way you’re heading and then (usually in my case) it says its favourite words – ‘turn around when possible!’

compassThe start of 2014 has me feeling a little bit nervous about which way I should go. I’ve never had a great sense of direction and have regularly taken wrong turns – even with sat nav help. I’ve been looking back at some blog posts and it seems I’m the same in life. I’ve shared a few posts on this before, not knowing where to go or what to do next. But through the year things happened with God opening some surprising doors and in some cases he closed doors It thought were for me.
2013 has been fantastic though – who would have thought it would turn out like it did?

This seems to be a time for reviews… so here’s my quick look back at 2013. 

Attended the launch of the National Emerging Writer’s Programme and took to some serious writing
Did the AtoZ Challenge & 1City1Book in April
Stopped short of the Masters in Theology and finished with a Post Grad Diploma (so I could go write some other stuff)
Shortlisted for Blog Awards Ireland
Quit @auntyamo on Twitter to re-emerge as @amowriting
Was made redundant from my 9to5 job
Got to be involved in the Red Line & Dublin Book Festivals as well as the Dublin Christian Arts Festival
Completed NaNoWriMo
PUBLISHED A BOOK! with Emu Ink (still ‘whooping’ over that one 😀 )
Prepared myself to say goodbye to my dad for the third time in my life and… he’s still with us.

Most of that stuff was a complete surprise to me and certainly not where I thought I was heading. And I have no idea what is in store for 2014. So all I can do is start moving. I think I know what way to go, but if I’m going the wrong way my prayer is that God will speak to me. God is my ultimate sat nav and I trust Him to direct me and when I go the wrong way, to tell me to ‘turn around when possible.’

Happy New Year everyone, and thanks all your visits and comments in 2013 x

photo credit: gwgs via photopin cc

Five Minute Friday: Laundry


laundry small_2903032559

It’s time for Five Minute Friday… five minutes of unedited, non stop writing on this week’s given theme ‘Laundry’

I’ve checked a few times and I can confirm there are only 2 people living in this apartment. I like to make sure of this every so often, because the amount of laundry I do suggests that there are at least 7 of us.

I have also looked for the secret tunnel leading from our apartment to numerous others.
Someone HAS to be adding to the washing basket in this place. Surely two people cannot get through so many items of clothing. And towels! What the heck is going on with all the towels?

*sigh

One thing I do know is that if I don’t keep on top of it, it gets out of hand. If I get lazy and miss a day or two, it’s curtains. Well actually it’s towels and t-shirts… lots of them.

I used to find an overflowing laundry basket quite overwhelming. I always found it quite depressing. It was more than just the frustration of trying to find a clean pair of socks. It reminded me how unorganised i was and what a rubbish housewife I am.

Becoming a writer has only made that worse… I mean the pile of washing is worse. There is another difference too… and that is that these days I don’t care;
as long as I have a clean pair of socks 🙂

To find out more about Five Minute Friday click on the image below.
Five Minute Friday

photo credit: silkegb via photopin cc