Sunshine

image of yellow sunflower representing sunshine blogger award

Sunshine blogger award

What a treat and honour to be invited by my fellow blogger Mary O’Connor at the lovely blog Life is Full of Sweet Spots,  to participate in this sunshine award. I so enjoyed Mary’s post on her nomination, check it out here.

So Rule 1. Link back to your nominator: Life is Full of Sweet Spots blogger Mary O’Connor.

Rule 2. Display the image, as you see to the left. Sunshine carries so many connotations – energy, life, brightness and light. Here it seems to be represented by the deep yellow of the flower and by the delightful blue sky.

Rule 3. List ten random things about yourself…I’m stumped! But following Mary’s lead, I allowed my mind to wander through all the links to sunshine that cropped up in my mind. Unsurprisingly, the first batch were songs, poems or images that mean a lot to me or that have made an impression on me throughout life. The rest are random and started to spin out as I went along. So, here goes….

ONE: A wonderful Poem by Irish poet Louis McNiece. Sunlight on the Garden

This poem starts sad but reminds us that no matter what happens, nature is there. Here’s a link to a post I did on the poem, with some photos from our garden in winter.

TWO: Sunshine on my Shoulders by John Denver

The simplicity of this song belies its strong message, like many John Denver songs. Perhaps somewhat misunderstood and under appreciated as a singer songwriter, John Denver has been a favourite of mine since schooldays. This youtube video with wonderful images was compiled by Greg gts.

THREE: We have been loving the unusually long sunny spell in Ireland and the UK for most of July. Getting used to it! No doubt it will end soon and we’ll be brought back down to earth.

FOUR: My favourite destination is Greece and the very sunny island of Antiparos. Though enjoyable times were spent way back in the eighties with my husband to be, the more recent trips with our daughters were absolutely delightful. Retirement, bucket list, walk there….who knows?!

FIVE: Can’t wait for the Avatar sequels as I was totally carried away by the first movie. My all time favourite is DUNE though, Arakis, desert planet, spice….

SIX: Blogging has become such a wonderfully social event for me. I love the opportunity to get to know fellow bloggers and read their brilliant posts. Ten links coming up soon….

SEVEN: Blown away by the courage and creativity of people I’ve encountered during my work in mental health recovery, some of whom will be on my nominee list below.

EIGHT: Rollo May has gripped my interest of late, especially his work on the search for ourselves through claiming our freedom and by making meaning, learning how to allow ourselves to shine.

NINE: Hooked on Anthropology since 1997 when I took it as a subsidiary module, loved it so much I had to change my degree pathway.

TEN: The Sun Up image in the Australian Aboriginal Flag.

Red and Black bars with yellow circle in the middle - Australian Aboriginal Flag

Australian Aboriginal Flag

Thanks for dropping by and taking time to look through the post. Now please check out my friends and nominees at the following blogs:

Social Bridge

Beyond Meds

Matrignosis

Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking

Bell Night

Folio and Ink

Roz Morris

Mommy Mystic

Zen Mandala

Chasing Avian Voices

Thanks and enjoy your blog tour 🙂

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A Very British Blog Tour

Thanks to Viv (author and blogger of the re-blogged post above) for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour. Viv’s nominator Roz is linked into her post as well and from there you can also track back to others in the chain and read their responses. So here’s my contribution – not sure if I’m going about it the right way but here goes anyway!
Q: where were your born and where do you live now?
I was born in Belfast and still live there with my husband and children. Being connected with both sides of the border, there is a kind of multi-layered quality to living in Northern Ireland. I personally feel enriched by both cultures and have difficulty accepting attitudes that exclude rather then include and celebrate diversity. There’s an interesting slide show and a stimulating piece on Belfast on Sinus Sister blog,  Here’s a view from our back door on the outer rim of South Belfast 

Q Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere?

Most of my working life has been based in Belfast where I trained as a mental health nurse, with a short stint working as an agency nurse in London in the eighties. As a family we spent some time living in Galway in the west of Ireland which was a fascinating experience as I was doing fieldwork research for my PhD. I spent several years as a mature student at Queen’s University studying psychology and social anthropology and have been writing fiction, poetry and non-fiction for a number of years now.
Q Have you highlighted or showcased any particular part of Britain in your books, a town, a city, a county, a monument, well-known place or event?
When I branched into fiction I had a short story published in The University of Ulster literary magazine Reflexion. It was called Clashed and told of a young man on the brink of suicide, living on the outer perimeter of a housing estate in west Belfast beside Black Mountain, who is brought back from the edge by a group of friends who inspire him with tales of the punk rock music scene in London (late seventies). My interests are growing in this relationship between the centre and the periphery, NI and London, indeed the whole of Ireland and the ongoing exchange of ideas, people and labour. This relationship between post-colonial societies and the individual lives who are negotiating the shifting identities to be found therein is a source of inspiration for several projects on which I am currently working.

Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish- about British people that I would like to discuss. Many see Brits as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is this correct?
I really don’t like to generalise about cultures and people. There are reserved people everywhere and flamboyant people too, though I do suspect that both British and Irish people treat children with a certain degree of ‘should be seen but not heard’. Needless to say this is a practice I would personally challenge. I love the way our societies are becoming more diversified – we are all enriched by each other in my experience.
Q: Tell us about one of your recent books.
Up to now my work has been published only in journals- academic mental health titles and then recently literary magazines (poems, shorts). Here is a link to my first poem The Front Room published online in Mused.
Q: What are you currently working on?
I am completing my first book based on a review of service users’ views and other research on the role of creativity and social support in mental health recovery, for Palgrave UK, to be released later this year. I also plan to complete my first novel about a mental health nurse suffering her own breakdown and the consequences of that for herself, her family and friends. At first I located her in London but changed the setting to Belfast for a number of reasons – they say write about what you know, plus Will Self’s book Umbrella was set in London and located in a mental health hospital so I was worried my story might look too familiar.
Q: How do you spend your leisure time?

Reading, painting old furniture and devising quirky uses for it ( I just created two book nooks from old drawers and used the cabinet section to create a standing table for my laptop – sitting is not good for dodgy back!). Cinema and family life, walking when I get the chance and browsing Pinterest.
Q Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?

Global. The issues I try to weave into my work are universal ones like sanity, emotional well being and the complexity of relationships.

Q: Who’s next?
Since I’m not sure how to operate this section of the exercise, I am hoping for volunteers so feel free to join in if you meet the criteria- just link back to the previous bloggers through the chain in Viv’s post I have re-blogged here. Thanks in advance for looking in.

Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking

A Very British Writer blog tour

I’m quite a reserved sort and it always discombobulates me to be asked to participate in various events. I’m the wallflower, standing at the side hoping no one asks me to dance. But this one intrigued me because on several occasions it has been remarked upon how much I clearly love my country and how it influences my work. So when Roz Morrisnominated me, I stammered my thanks, took a deep breath and started to think about the questions.

http://nailyournovel.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/a-very-british-blog-tour-post-at-authors-electric/?replytocom=17531#respond

YOu can see the previous post here: http://authorselectric.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/a-very-british-blog-tour.html

Q: where were your born and where do you live now?

A: I was born in a small village about fifteen miles from Cambridge. I’ve lived all over Britain but about six months ago I moved to a small, quintessentially English market town in Norfolk. My family is originally a mix of Welsh and…

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The song of the thrush

I was delighted to discover this blog during a search for R P Hewitt who wrote the school poetry anthology A Choice of Poets. I too have my old school copy from Carolan Grammar School, Belfast, about 1976-7 with my pencil notes in the margins. Like the citation here, Gerard Mankey Hopkins is one of my favourites, especially Binsey Poplars, though Thomas Hardy never appealed. Wilfred Owens’ poems made a lasting impression, not least down to the fact that I had two great grandfathers wounded in the First World War, one of whom I remember well telling me stories of pigeons and ‘muck and bullets’. Lately my poetic tastes have been broadened to include Seamus Heaney, WB Yeats and Louis McNiece, whose work will be the subject of new posts to come. Let me end with an excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol:
Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword.

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chasingavianvoices

I first really encountered poetry in 1978, at Mount Lourdes Grammar School (http://www.mountlourdes.com) in Miss Reihill’s English class. Of course I’d been exposed to poetry in primary school, but my vague recollection now is that it was the kind of whimsical doggerel that is customarily used to patronise children, engaging the senses rather than the emotions. My first three years at grammar school were a desert of dullness, enlivened only by a Touchstones anthology where I discovered an excerpt from John Masefield’s Reynard the fox (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/38052), which I sneaked readings of under the desk while the rest of the class laboured through whatever novel it was that the teacher insisted be read aloud. I, of course, had long since read to the end of said novel, and was withering with lassitude and boredom as a result. Thus, entry to Miss Reihill’s class to begin my O’level English courses (I…

View original post 1,729 more words

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