Tired feet and a full heart

Following on from my last post – complaining about how busy I am, I thought it would be good to reflect on what I’ve been up to, and why the diary has been so full. I made it sound awful, to be constantly on the go and not have a minute to stop. But much of what I’ve been doing has been enjoyable, worthwhile and uplifthing. So I should quit complaining really.

One of the great things I did took place on Saturday 26th May. I took part in my 2nd Cancer Research UK – Relay for Life, in Pontypool Park. I was part of a team who, for 24 hours, walked to raise money for Cancer Research in Wales. I was privileged to be asked to start the ‘Survivors Lap’ with some actual real-life heroes.
It was an amazing experience.

 On the Saturday, I walked over 20k. I raised over £400, our team raised well over £2000; and we were just one of many teams. The weather forecast wasn’t great, but we managed to dodge the showers most of the time. It was the last hour on the Sunday morning when we were about to do our final lap, having received our medals, when the heavens opened and the rain fell. We were rushed into the marquee to escape the thunder showers. It took me about a week to fully recover but what an amazing 24hours it was.
Thank you! to all who donated and cheered me on.

I was also at a family wedding. It was such a beautiful day, with lots of beautiful people. The groom is officially some level of cousin by marriage, but in my heart he’s a nephew, and I was so proud to be part of his day.

As well as that, other events included:

  • a trip to Ireland (yes, another one)
  • I met up with old friends I hadn’t seen in a long time – one f2f – we spent a whole day together drinking coffee, walking and talking, also a virtual reunion with a friend in the US who is also my editor. She’s doing some work on my non-fiction WIP, so we got to catch up AND get some work done
  • at church we hosted a Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea
  • I also spent a couple of nights with the MIL while himself was away.

That is by no means, an exhaustive list (though maybe a little exhausting).

When I looked again at my diary, I realised how blessed I am to have so many people and events in my life. I shouldn’t complain about my to do list when it includes such delights.

2 weekends of inspiration and encouragement

I had the blessing of scooting off for two weekends, one after the other, on my own!

The first was a weekend in Dublin. I caught up with lots of family, with two dear writing friends, with one of the first Christians ever to make a real impression on me, and I went to a baby shower. It was full to the brim.

I had a bit of a revelation while chatting to my writing friends (neither of whom knew each other – so it was nice to connect them). I consider myself a failed writer – that’s not the revelation bit, I’ve always felt that. BUT, I’ve let it stop me writing. It’s like I’ve been waiting for someone to give me permission to put my heart and soul back into it, as I did in those lovely days before I cared whether anyone read what I wrote.

It was a liberating conversation in the middle of a fab weekend.

The following weekend I was in London, blessed to stay a couple of nights with a good friend, have chats and a hot chocolate with one of my smashing nieces, and join with other Christian writers for the ACW Writers’ Day with Glen and Emma Scrivener. What I took from it, as well as some great books and practical tips, was a confirmation of what my writing pals had told me the previous weekend. Get it writ! 🙂

I asked a question during the panel time. Basically, what if the crushing doubt that writers feel is actually valid in my case? What if I’m just no good?

The answer was like a welcome splash of cold water on my face. Basically it was to stop whinging. Amy Robinson compared my questions and hesitations to Moses when God called him.

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ Exodus 3:11-15 

I’m paraphrasing here, but what I heard Amy say was, if God had given me stuff to write, then I should stop finding reasons not to do, and just write it.
Whoosh!!! How refreshing.

So, that’s what I’m going to do. My #NaNoWriMo2017 novel idea has been shelved, and I’m going to write the non-fiction book that’s been forming in me for the last year or so. Will fill you in soon… 🙂

Thank you Amy Robinson! Thanks too, to the other panellists, James Prescott, Glen Scrivener and Emma Scrivener x

A couple of the ACW members have shared their take of the day – well worth a read. You can read them here and here.

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

10 Day You Challenge, Day 2 – 9 Loves

Day 2 of the ’10 Day You Challenge’ & I’m doing this on the iPhone because the Wi-Fi where I’m staying is a bit dodgy… 😉 so… it’ll be short & pics will have to wait til tomorrow!

10-days-you-challenge2 copy

Today – 9 loves… 😉

1. Chocolate
Love is not a strong enough word. Yes it’s bad for me… Yes it’s just sweetened cocoa… I don’t care 😉

2. The West Wing
The box set is a treasured possession!
Don’t agree with everything (obvs) but well made, well written and well acted. Can’t say that about everything on TV these days.

3. Being the ‘baby’ of 8
Having a troop of older siblings is more than a bit brillo.

4. Social Media
Twitter, Facebook & even Pinterest lately. Love it & many folk I’ve met through it

5. Reading
Books books and more books… gimme gimme gimme 🙂

6. Writing
My new found love.
What did I ever do before I was writing?

7. My 27 nieces & nephews
I never had babies of my own, so these kids, and their kids – are my kids 😉
So proud of them all x

8. Richard Miles
A patient man who loves me more than I deserve 🙂 x

9. God
What can I say? God is very faithful and merciful to me and I wish my life did more justice to the salvation the death & resurrection of Jesus achieved for me.
Also love that I am loved… by Him!

Ephesians 3:18,19 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge

Photo credit: The image above doesn’t seem to come from any central website but can be found on many that have done the challenge. Many use it but there does not seem to be any original source info available

Five Minute Friday – Last

Here we go with this week’s Five Minute Friday… five minutes of unedited, non stop writing on this week’s given theme ‘Last’

Being the youngest of 8 children isn’t so bad. And I challenge anyone to hold the title of ‘baby of the family’ as long as I did, with oodles of nieces and nephews arriving hot on my heels. (The first one when I was 2½!)

Now that I am a mature adult (*coughs) I try to balance the ‘kid sister’ thing (cos let’s face it, it comes in handy the odd time) with the equal family member with all associated privileges, rights and responsibilities. 🙂

Me with my husband, parents & 8 older siblings on my wedding day 19th August 2000
Me with my husband, parents & 7 older siblings on my wedding day 19th August 2000

There is one striking memory I have of being last; one of those bitter-sweet ones.
It was when my mother had died and she had been waked at home and now it was time for her removal to the local church. We had to leave the room so that the funeral directors could get ready to take her from the house for the last time.

my mammy
my mammy

I can’t remember who asked the question but it was thought that we should file out in order. Initially I was to go first, but then it was decided we would do it the other way – and start with the eldest. We said our final goodbyes, got into a line, and after my Dad, one by one we filed out of my parents’ house, with me the last to leave.

I was proud to take my place in the line. I was the last one to be born to her. The last of her children to live there with her and the last to leave the house; just before she did, for the last time.

Click the image to find about more about Five Minute Friday
Five Minute Friday

A Tribute to my 27 nieces and nephews

I love my nieces and nephews so much and am very proud of them. In their honour (cos they are extremely cool), I’d like to do a roll call and share a little memory of each one.

Love you guys, Aunty Amo xxx

Mark Keeley – You stayed with us while your mam was in hospital having Sarah (I think). We got a call in the middle of the night to say she had been born. So I went and woke you up to tell you. I made you cry cos you I mentioned your mammy and then you wanted her. The plan was to make you happy…. #fail 

Lyn Keeley and Sarah Keeley – remember when I used to mind you in the afternoons? We used to listen to music. I think we made up a few dance routines! I remember we listened to Michael Jackson’s Thriller a lot and every time it would get stuck at ‘the funk of 40,000 years’ 

Claire Keeley – has to be when you visited Wales with Laura. We had the craic visiting the Millennium Stadium and the…. information centre! We laughed a lot… mainly at Laura: D Quote of the week has to be, “to the MAX”, sharing joint first place with, “I mean seriously, thank God for hair straighteners!”

Katie Keeley – Kates you were only a few days old when I went to my 2nd debs. Your mam and dad came to the house. I had a Debs dress and a Mohican. You seemed to survive it tho.

Mick Keeley Jnr – Dancing Michael! Mick you were happy to dance with an audience of 1 or 100. I’ve seen many stunning routines over the years. The best has to be Lyn’s 21st. I wasn’t there, but I had heard so much about your performance I had to get the video! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so funny.

Maria Brett – I spent a lot of my childhood with you  I remember all sorts of mad things like ‘the White Mariah Show’ and playing in the poppies in the back garden in Limekiln Farm, when we weren’t supposed to. I remember going to Brownies once and I don’t think I went again. Remember those twins who put their hats on over the bobbins in their hair? It looked like they had rabbit ears 😀 Oh and there was the time when most of you stayed in Granny’s and you called in (you were staying in Liz’s) and you showed us your line dancing moves, in a space about 1 foot by 1 foot. Wasn’t easy but you did it 😀

Karen Conlon – Bugsy Malone! That was great craic wasn’t it. You played a young black boy if I remember :D. Your song was great and we had the best laugh. You socked it to Breda Sweeney if I remember…. Actually I think you were a bad influence on me. I often got into trouble when I was with you!!!

Brian Sweeney – To be honest Brian, I think you were drunk when this happened. But I bumped into you in the Dragon (or Ahernes can’t remember). We said hello and you gave me a hug and as i walked away someone said, “Who the f*/@ was that?” and laughed. You replied, “shut up you, she’s my aunty and she’s cool!”

Christopher and Susan Sweeney – Your house in Mountain Park was sold and you came and stayed in Granny’s for a while before the Hollow was built. On the first night I looked after you while your ma and da were finishing off emptying the house. Sue, I think I gave you my teddy Aongus McDougal didn’t I? (the low point of that time was when we all had chicken pox together! 😀 )

Peter Kennedy – I remember the day your mam brought you home from hospital. She brought you to Granny’s first. I ran home from school cos I knew you would be there. I ran in the door, through the hall, into the sittingroom… shouting something and was swiftly grabbed by the scruff of the neck and removed from the sitting room and got a smack for making noise and waking you. I owe you one for that 

Emma Kennedy – I remember when you were nearly due to have Jamie. Your mam and dad were away for a few days so I stayed with you. We stayed awake really late talking about the last few months and how crazy it was that you were about to have a baby!!! He turned out tho alright didn’t he 

Brenda Mockler – You and ‘Sinéadds’ spent what felt like a week (but was probably only 5 minutes) telling me about a fella that you fancied. You asked me for advice (which made me feel very cool) and when I told you what I thought you basically told me that I had it all wrong. Then you started giving me dating advice about Darren Byrne. In fairness… it worked 😀

Susan Keane and Jennifer Farrell – more babysitting and dance routines. This time to ‘Hey Frankie’ by Sister Sledge. I still remember the moves! Susan you were an absolute pleasure to mind. Jen…. you weren’t! 😀

Philip Keane – Phil my abiding memory of you is at family parties you would tell dirty jokes. Your ma would be dying a thousand deaths in the corner. You stood in the middle of the room and made us all laugh.

Dillon Keane – Ah me godson  When you were only a few months old I went on holidays to Wexford with you all. The car broke down in the middle of nowhere and it felt like about 3 weeks before anyone came to rescue us. I had to keep you occupied. You were a fun baby  x (PS I have a picture of that day…)

Jean Keeley – I remember a hilarious conversation with you. I think you had just started secondary school and I was asking you about it. You told me that you had to wear slippers in school. I didn’t believe you and you worked hard to convince me. (Actually I’m still not convinced you weren’t winding me up.)

Laura Keeley – (see Claire Keeley 😀 ) Also, when I moved to Wales first you used to write to me. I still have the letters. You were going through a tough time we had this long distance conversation about it. You drew hearts all over the letters and the envelopes. I used to LOVE getting them. 

Beth Keeley – When you were born, you were (and still are) the image of your mam  With so many people in the family, I rarely got to hold babies for very long. (all 27 of you were passed from pillar to post, you know that don’t you?!) But your mam let me hold you and I was delighted that no one took you off me. At one stage you woke up, opened your eyes, looked at me and… went back to sleep. I took it that you were ok with me holding you, and I did… for ages 

Jack Keeley – You were still living in Tallaght at the time. Can’t remember what age you were but you were just about talking. I was in your house. I sat on the floor beside you as you emptied the toy box all over the floor. You had a very serious look on your face. I thought you were looking for something. When it was empty you looked and me and said, “now, you.” Then you went out the back garden. So I put everything back in the toy box – you bossy boots!! 

Jennifer Keeley – Your 1st birthday Jen! Forever preserved on video! Not my favourite memory of you though and you share it with Susan S… It was Granny and Grandad’s 50th wedding anniversary and I came home from Wales for the doooo. You and Susan were practising ‘Ride On’ by Christy Moore. I stood outside and listened to you then burst in the door at the end. You and Sue lept a few feet in the air and screamed. Got a big hug from you both tho 

Christopher Keeley – I remember when you came to Wales with Liz. Everywhere we went you wanted music on in the car so you could sing. We had some monster singsongs in the car – I nearly crashed, more than once  If I’m not mistaken you ended up with a few quid that weekend too 

Kevin Keeley – The first time I saw you on stage in the Olympia I knew you were going to be a star! You were ‘one of the gang’ but you stood out a mile. The bit where you did the news report in Irish was brilliant. Was VERY proud to be a Keeley and an Aunty that night. I have another memory of you as a kid – but it’s about one night when I was babysitting and you called me to come and see what you did and where you did it…. I can’t tell the story, I wouldn’t do that to you… 😀

Liza Keeley – when you were a baby I was staying in Liz Ken’s house and I minded you there for a day and night. There was no cot so you were in the double bed with me. You’d gone to bed about 8 but by 2 am you were wide awake and all chat. You kept crawling under the covers and hiding down the far corner of the bed and I had to pretend I couldn’t find you. You were lots of fun. (for about an hour, then I wanted to brain you 😀 )

Bobby Keeley – you were in Granny’s and you were only a toddler. I was out in the back porch ironing (that in itself is an event!) I could hear you singing Garth Brooks. “Aaaaahhhh got fwends in yooooow paces….” I could hear you but I couldn’t see you. I knew you were close but I couldn’t work out where you where. Then I spotted you, standing underneath the ironing board – singing away 😀 !