Wednesday, 31 December 2014

12 Things I Noticed This Christmas

How was your Christmas? Are you still recovering from the feast? It’s crazy to think that it’s come and gone that quickly - quite shocking. I’m not a massive Christmas person myself (I know, I know) but I hope yours was great, and that you spent it how you wanted to spend it. 

As the years have gone on, Christmas and everything that comes with it has changed. The transition from being a young’un to someone on the verge of adulthood is quite stark. Admittedly, it isn’t an easy time of year for me for my own reasons, but what Christmas meant to me 10 years ago is completely different to how it is now.

And while I am recovering from this God-awful dose of the flu (that half of Ireland has), I thought it would be fun to put together a list of some of the quirky things I’ve noticed in the last couple of weeks.  Let me know if you can relate to any of these!

Please bear in mind to take these pointers with a pinch of salt, and not to take them in their literal sense, it’s  just a bit of craic!

“I hope we have enough food for the gang that’s coming. They’ll want something in their belly when they come”
There is ALWAYS enough food, so Mammies of Ireland, don’t be fretting. At the best of times, there is even too much. This leads to second servings, feeding the visitors.
“We can’t let it go to waste”
It’s hard to win.

“We had a fine feed there in the gaf. 3 deserts I tell you, 3! You should have seen the size of the turkey, it’d feed half the village.”
Have you noticed that there is almost a competition to see who had the biggest feast? 
“We had a lovely bit of Christmas cake and some pudding. T’was gorgeous”
“Yeah? Well Mary landed down with some pavalova, homemade like, if you don’t mind. It was awfully filling; we had to give a slice to anyone that landed in the door.”

EVERYONE had a big feast, so EVERYONE wins. Happy?

At Christmas parties and nights out over the festive season, it’s inevitable that you had to shake the few hands over the past few weeks. I was told once that you can tell a lot about a person judging by their handshake. There are various types I have come across as of late:
A) Regular handshake: Lasts no more than about 5 seconds, good grip, dignified and confident, no fuss.
B) Cold and clammy
C) Weak: Am I not worthy of a decant hand shake? My hand is very small, and there is only so much that I can do. It’s a two way thing.
D) The Crusher: Squeezing so hard that they nearly cut off the blood supply.
E) The Hand Hug
F) Pull and Grab: This one has happened to me the most lately, and it’s hard to get it right without making a complete show of myself from once in a while. This is where you put your hand out for a handshake - that is all you are looking for. Then out of nowhere the other person grabs you over, no regard for personal space and pulls you into an embrace. It’s perfectly fine for people I know quite well. But honestly? I don’t really want to kiss 20 strangers’ faces, believe it or not. At times, it is the ultimate recipe for disaster.
‘Tis the season and all.

I don’t drink as I am still underage. But that doesn’t mean I don’t encounter those who do. I like to think I am a patient person, and a lot of the time I am, I like to listen to what people have to say. However, there comes a time when I have to switch off, smile politely, nod, sip from my Cidona, and come out with responses, such as:
“I know, yeah”
“Sure this is it!”
“Isn’t it the way?”
“That’s what I was thinking”
“And what did he say to you?”

For the first time, I have sent Christmas cards. I really feel like patting myself on the back. I sat down one evening, after gathering all of the addresses, and just did it. I was starting to feel bad really; ever since I can remember, we have been receiving umpteen cards to our house every year and we actually don’t send any. As it was me that bought the cards and sat down for the evening, I was either signing off the cards as Catherine or Catherine & family. My mother was lamenting that “It would take the bad luck off us”. It felt strange, but really good at the same time. It’s something so simple, though it’s quite rewarding to see your little pile of envelopes at the end. It’s just really lovely, alright?

I have met and shook hands with people I hardly know for the past month. And I honestly don’t mind, I love meeting new people when I can! As I live in a small community, whoever I’m with will try and explain who the person is - most of the time I catch on after a minute or two. But as I said when I was younger, I am not the postman who knows everyone. They will explain, as if to open the heavens in my mind and make a non-existent light bulb go off. I just look like a fish, racking my brain of every person I know. There is nothing worse than standing beside a local person who you don’t know. Nothing.
“Can you not hear me Catherine?”
“Yeah yeah, I can”
“Don’t look at me like that.”
“I’m thinking!”
The struggle is real.

The weather is an integral part to Irish life, and there is no exception in our house. It was just after the dinner on Christmas day that my mother commented; “You know, there’s a fine stretch in the evening, a better day to put the clothes out. Fine drying so it is”.
No truer words were ever spoken.

Usually, I can rely that there will be decant things on the box over the Christmas. But I noticed that there is hardly anything worth my viewing, and the rest of the house agree with me. Netflix has been the life-saver in this scenario.

“I paid through the nose for that turkey, and I am not letting it go to waste. Sure it was beautiful.”
This is a practical way in dealing with the supply of food left over. 

As you get older, this is something that becomes more apparent. But I also notice it with those around me. Presents are becoming less important to some of us. Yes, it is lovely to get some nice gifts, and I am grateful for everything I received – but really, I didn’t want anything, or as they say “I couldn’t give tuppence for a want of anything”. I much prefer seeing people and having a good catch-up, than receiving anything off them. It’s the way to be I think!

Gone are the days I wake up at 7 o’clock on Christmas morning. Why do that when you can stay in bed for another couple of hours? I’m sleeping in a lot over the last week or so. And I have no shame – I’m relishing every moment of it. 

When I was younger, I had no love for vouchers, because mainly I never made the effort to go to the specific shop and buy something. But as I’ve gotten older, and how the economy has turned out, spare cash to spend is coming few and far between – so you’re crazy if you’re not making use of your vouchers! In fact, I’ll be using mine in January so it’s out of the way, job done. 

Let me know what you got up to over the holidays.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A Warrior Awaits | A Tribute to Conor McGregor

A Warrior Awaits
By Daithí O'Connor

A shadow cast on eight, the sides of test and tradition;
A warrior awaits.
Darkness, strobes, music and noise;
The change in tune, the tact in tone, always calm.

Emerging in strides, superior and significant;
Bare skinned, bearded, braided and born.
Tattooed and untainted, capped and comfortable;
a celebration of confidence and indulgence in honour.

A right hand raised, an emblem to roars;
the approval all round answers acceptance to accolades.
The face of focus; fuelled, ferocious and physical.
Relaxed and relishing raucousness', a revelling renewed in expected conquest.

Surrounded by stalwarts, saluting strength in their standing;
the goal always glorious, the going a grateful gift.
A fighter famed on feeding fiercely on the fallow; a freak of fearlessness inside the fence.

The pride pronounced previous to participation, a publicity in positivity and persistence;
A prize proudly personal and a promise... to his own person.

Bold and brash, a champion challenging collective conclusions of characters contained.

The tribal triggering, tastefully targeting those testing the temperament;
trials always trumpeted, a top flight performer present not to take part, but only to take over.

Inspiring, the self-respected ruthlessness that raises rancour;
Rushing relentlessly in triumph, an Irish artist, flawless, fine-tuned and firm.

Sweating in supremacy, selfishly succumbing to the stalks of success;
second to none in notions that nurture the needs of a nation,
No nonsense negotiations; 'I will win. I will win'.

The calculated carnage, the bellows of belief;
The narrow aisles, the path to righteous inevitably.

A warrior awaits, but not in the shadows.
The beaming light with eight sides around him;
Ready, zealous and namely, Notorious.

Daithí O'Connor is a blogger and writer from Dublin. He wrote this as a tribute to McGregor, an Irish mixed martial artist currently competing in the UFC's Featherweight division. You can read more from Daithí on his blog at Reeling in the Fears. You can also read's coverage on this piece here.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

My Year | In Music

I hope you all had a great Christmas, and enjoyed yourself however way you spent it. I am unfortunately suffering with the flu along with half of the country. While I'm recovering and getting back on my feet, I thought it would be a great idea to put together a playlist of ALL of my favourite tunes I have been listening to the past year. Some of these are new, oldies, and maybe some you haven't heard before. I have spoke about my music taste in previous posts - I have a slight acquired taste - but I hope you enjoy the tracks all the same!

You should find a direct Spotify widget of this playlist on the right hand side or click here. Or Click here to listen via Youtube. You'll also find the list of songs mentioned in this post.

Let me know what you think and be sure to let me know what music you've been listening to this year.

1.   All Those Friendly People - Funeral Suits
2.   Undercover Martyn - Two Door Cinema Club
3.   Jackie and Wilson - Hozier
4.   Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap
5.   From Afar - Vance Joy
6.   Angry Hill - George Ezra
7.   Photograph - Ed Sheeran
8.   Budapest - George Ezra
9.   Latch (Today FM Live Version) - Kodaline
10. Cough Syrup - Young the Giant
11. Georgia - Vance Joy
12. Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene - Hozier
13. She's So Fine - The Strypes
14. Angel Eyes - The Strypes
15. I Don't Want to Change You - Damien Rice
16. Afire Love - Ed Sheeran
17. Cherry Wine - Hozier
18. Not About Angels - Birdy
19. Called On - Hudson Taylor
20. Sail Away - David Gray
21. Left Alone - Hudson Taylor
22. Brand New Day - Kodaline
23. Way Down South - The Young Folk
24. Waiter - Heathers
25. JCB - Nizlopi
26. Never - All The Luck In The World
27. Weapons - Hudson Taylor
28. Nothing Arrived - Villagers
29. Welcome Home, Son - Radical Face
30. Flightless Bird, American Mouth - Iron and Wine
31. Naive - The Kooks
32. Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
33. Do I Wanna Know? - Arctic Monkeys
34. Entertainment - Phoenix
35. Home - Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zones

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Blogging Business | Avalanche Designs | ArtNouv

Some time ago, I decided I would come up with a series that would help to support and promote Irish businesses. It is vitally important to support the enterprises around us, especially considering how times are at the minute. Each post will contain 2-3 businesses that you should be keeping an eye out for!


Avalanche Designs - founded in 2012, is a company that specialises in graphic design. It begun as a one man operation and have since expanded adding several more people as they have grown. I spoke to Aidan O'Carroll, its founder about the businesses' exciting ventures of late. 

1. In a nutshell, who and what are Avalanche Designs? 

Avalanche is a digital solutions firm operating from Kerry, Ireland. We are a team of six that primarily develop extraordinary websites for businesses all over the globe. The name 
Avalanche was chosen directly from our favourite video game, Final Fantasy VII. The group aims to change the world & we thought it was the perfect name for what we want to do! We are always looking for new projects that excite us and help us to make a real difference to people and help them reach their goals.

2. What makes you stand out from similar businesses? 

We believe that our design work is totally unique and it is for this reason we believe, exciting and innovative businesses choose us. We analyse all the little details that a lot of people overlook and instead of just providing a website/service we provide an experience. Our websites are totally unique and I think our design signature is very evident.

3. Avalanche Designs has been recognised worldwide by some VIPS! How does that 
make you feel?

We are of course delighted to welcome some big names such as Macklemore and Miley 
Cyrus to our client list but it is the SME’s in Ireland and beyond that are the spine of our 
business model. We love taking a small business and giving them an online presence, it is 
such a pleasure knowing that we are helping make a difference to so many small businesses.

4. How important is social media in the day-day runnings of your business?

It is imperative, I can honestly say that Avalanche would not be operational if it were not for social media. Upon founding Avalanche, I utilised social media as a low cost platform of advertising. Using our individual marketing model & the Highwind software I created. We have managed to grow our online following to over 20,000 people across all platforms. It is something we are very proud of at #teamavalanche

5. What are your plans for the future at Avalanche Designs?

We hope to keep growing and pushing boundaries. We have managed to hit all of our growth targets in the last two years so hopefully we can continue to do so. We are looking forward to the challenge ahead and hopefully we can go on to help a lot more small businesses.

We are a team of experts in digital solutions, at least that's what we like to tell people!
At Avalanche - We design websites and stuff! We put you online. It's what we do and we are good at it.


Originally founded in 2002 - ArtNouv has been converting memories into art - they use your photographs to make custom handmade paintings. They also take on any other commissions - such as abstracts done on paper or computer, landscapes or anything that means something special to you. All of their paintings are handmade by specially-commissioned talented experienced artists (ranging from €90 and commissioned works from €140) hired directly by ArtNouv. I got in contact with Kritika Ashok to find out more.

1. You guys saw a gap in the market for a product like yours, what made you have the initiative to set up "Art Nouv"?

The main reason ArtNouv came about is I wanted to get a painting of a penguin! The 2 co-founders and I were discussing that and realised with prices so high to get commissioned paintings, I would be unlikely to get it. However we also then realised that art is like wine - a person knows what they like or don't like but they don't necessarily know what's a good investment. 

2. How important is it for you to ensure your products are 100% handmade?

It's absolutely integral. We do now offer certain prints but these are also using a handmade method of carving the stencil and therefore, still true to our core. Should there be a need to change our plans in the future, we shall definitely reconsider it but, for now,  we don't to sell prints of paintings.

3.  What is the process from a photograph to a handmade oil painting?

It's a very simple process! You send us a photograph, we get it painted. We send drafts for approval through the process so there are no surpirses and you have been able to give real time feedback throughout. We want to ensure you absolutely love the painting when it arrives. We love it when people who get paintings as gifts hate parting with them because they have fallen in love with them themselves!

4.  How would it feel to have every house in Ireland with an "Art Nouv" piece on their walls?

We would have done something right if we have managed to spread the love of art to every home! For now, we are hoping that every 7th children born in Ireland for the next 5 years will be immortalised as a painting by us to help us achieve the one million people being affected by our art mission.

Get the conversation going by using the hashtag #BloggingBusiness

Friday, 5 December 2014

How To | Boost Your Immune System

Have you a tendency to become sick and unwell at this time of year? Coughs, colds, viruses are rampant at the minute. Prevention is key to help you stay on top of your game. I’ve compiled some tips to help keep you sniffle-free all winter long.

You hear people harping on about diet all of the time, and I’m afraid it applies here too. It’s a simple concept; what you put inside is going to affect your body’s output and functionality. Foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fats aren’t doing your body any favours. Swapping these for healthier options will strengthen your immune system. Foods high in protein help the growth and repair of cells. If you have a feeling you're ran-down this winter, speak to your pharmacist/GP about the possible use of a tonic. Keeping an eye on your haemoglobin levels is important – remember that Vitamin C is necessary for the absorption of iron!
Some handy foods you can include in your diet are:

- Yoghurt : Probiotics, or the "live active cultures" found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.
- Garlic : This potent onion relative contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria.
- Shellfish : Selenium, plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines—proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body.
- Mushrooms : Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection

Catch Enough Zzzs?
We underestimate the power of sleep and how important it is to help keep us fighting fit. You’ll often notice you’re more likely to fall ill after of period of lack of sleep. A lab experiment bears this out: When students at the University of Chicago were limited to only 4 hours of sleep a night for 6 nights and then given a flu vaccine, their immune systems made only half the normal number of antibodies. Also, it’s no wonder that this rises our stress levels at the same time. Usually 7-9 hours of sleep a night for an adult is key to good heath. Now for you!

Even a moderate 30 minute walk a day can do the world of good. Exercise boots that feel-good-factor and in turn helps you to sleep better at night. A win-win in my book.

Don’t be stressing:
Stress is unavoidable at times for most of us, but it does a great deal of harm over a long period of time. You’ll often find students “burn out” towards the end of their exams, or anyone who has had a particularly hectic few weeks or months at work. This makes you more vulnerable to illness, colds and some serious illnesses.
While you mightn’t be able to get rid of your stress completely – it’s important that you learn to manage it better:

- Find a hobby/activity that relaxes you
- Take a deep breath and slow down
- Seek advice, a problem shared is a problem halved.

Are you having the LOLs?
Ever hear that laughing is good for you? Well believe it or not, it’s true! It restricts the levels of stress hormones in your body and boosts a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Don’t believe me? According to one study, men were told 3 days in advance that they were going to watch a funny video. Their levels of stress hormones dropped. So go out and have a laugh once in a while!

Sometimes illness is unavoidable, but prevention is the best cure. This list is not exclusive, and I am sure there are many other handy tips out there. Be sure to wrap up over the next few weeks during the cold snap!

Have you your own tips to avoid coughs and colds?

Friday, 7 November 2014

Breathing Silver Linings is on Facebook!

Hey everyone, I hope you're all well.

Just a quick post for this evening to let you know that Breathing Silver Linings finally has a Facebook page! You can find it here. Up until now I hadn't felt the need but some people have asked me to set one up as it is easier for some people to follow!

If you could pop over and have a peep I'd really appreciate it. I'd love to get to know all of you on there! I feel it allows more connectivity than some other social media platforms.

I have some exciting posts in the pipeline so keep an eye out for that - I'm really looking forward to them!

Do you have facebook page for your blog? Let me know how you're getting on with it.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Album of the Month #4 | Hozier

If you haven't heard about Hozier, especially this year - you haven't been keeping up with the times. Andrew Hozier-Byrne, known simply as Hozier, is an Irish musician from Bray, County Wicklow. In 2013 he released his debut EP Take Me to Church and his second EP From Eden in 2014. Both titled tracks have been major hits. Take Me To Church has been downloaded a staggering 70 million times, alongside a viral music video that carries a strong meaning. Hozier has struck a nerve, and he is one of the most talked-about musicians at the present moment.

His debut self titled album came out recently. I was eagerly awaiting the release, along with many others. And I have to say, this is a stunning piece of work. From the get-go, we are immersed in his blu-sy vocals. Even when arrangements are low, his voice thunders on with the sound. "Jackie and Wilson" and "Someone New" are lighter, radio friendly tracks that offers the listener a more varied sound. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Dear You

Originality is the key to life in many ways. You are original, unbeknownst to you, you are one of a kind and nothing and absolutely no one can take your stance in this world from you. No one thinks quite like you, walks like you, talks like you, likes the same things as you. No one may have the same weird fear that if you don't wet your toothbrush before and after the toothpaste, then you might as well not brush your teeth in the first place. Another person hasn't seen life through your eyes, heard the things your ears have picked up along the way. You are infinitely you. You should not subsidise a part of yourself for the sake of standards that society likes to throw at us in tidal waves. Sometimes remaining no more, and no less than who you are is about keeping your head above the water.

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Liebster Award

Hello everyone. Last week, I was nominated by the lovely Irene to take part in this great project. I'd like to thank her for thinking of my little blog in her nominations!

The Liebster Award is a brilliant initiative was set up to allow bloggers to get to know each other better, likewise with our readers! Like with many projects of the sort, a few easy rules to follow:

~  Get nominated
~  Link back the person who nominated you
~  Answer the 11 question the person who nominated gives you (Your questions will be at the bottom of this post)
~  Create 11 new questions or use the same ones you answered
~  Nominate 5-20 new people to answer your questions.

Now, without further ado, I'll crack on with Irene's questions. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

Less Stress | More Success

Have you found yourself stuck in a rut lately? Been under a lot of pressure and thinking it's never going to end? I feel you. We've all been there. They say that being busy is good for us, and it is - but what happens when it gets a bit too much for you? Is it worth tearing your hair out for the sake of a deadline? Maybe if we made that deadline less daunting, there would be no hair to tear.

September is a busy month for you if you are back at school or college, my culture shock landed to me towards the end of August. And it's only now that I'm starting to get more comfortable with the whole idea. I like work, as long as I am able to do so. Organisation and a calm head is key to not getting stressed out! I've put together a list of things that are helping me to stay on top of my game.

Organise yourself

Whether you are a student, employed or self employed - we all have a certain amount of tasks we need to get through each day. Being organised doesn't mean going on Pinterest and printing 25 calender templates to stick around your home (But if you do, then good for you!) or having 10 apps on your phone that you don't even use, or having the latest Filofax journal. You have to want to be organised. Organisation is everything from time management, the time you go to bed, when you get up, having your chores all done, meeting deadlines, filing, homework, accounts, meetings... You catch my drift. The list is absolutely endless. Write down the things you need to do today/this week/this month, set out when you envisage these things will be ticked off, establish how you will get through each task. I'm not going to blab on about how you can organise yourself, we all know what we have to do, because I'll be here all night otherwise. (But if you want to see something like that down the line let me know!)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Album of the Month #3 | Jay Woodward | Letters We Told

Some time ago, I was kindly suggested to listen to Jay Woodward's album, "Letters We Told". I took this on board and gave a listen, and I am so glad I did. 

Jay Woodward is an American musician. His music is that of an indie/folk genre, so of course I was going to be all over it. Listening to this album, you can tell it is a solid piece of art. I love the fact the first opening track "Mandolina" is an instrumental. It brings home to us that Woodward cares for music. And even without lyrics, there are simply no boundaries that cannot be met. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Guest Post | A Little Bit About Charisma | By Mingaile

Photo Credit: Mingaile Tarpy

I don’t know why, but tonight somehow I started thinking and “googling” about charisma. I wanted to know what it really meant. Obviously, I would like to know what it takes to be charismatic and whether charisma is possible to achieve for an ordinary folks.

One of the interesting things that I noticed is that to be charismatic you need to have something you are passionate about. It’s hard to be charismatic about something you are indifferent to.

Being charismatic means being confident and optimistic. Nobody wants to listen to somebody who is not sure of what he or she wants and where they are going to. Talk with confidence and people will flock around you. The same applies to optimism – who wants to listen to a grumpy moaning fart when the only thing they see is negativity and failure.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Walk to Now

Below is a piece I wrote this summer for the Scoil Acla Writer's Workshop. In short, it is a light-hearted and positive piece on living with both chronic scoliosis and a mild muscular myopothy, whilst growing up under the mindful care of Temple Street Children's Hospital. My approach to life is summed up in the title of my blog. Living with a disability is something I haven't written about on the blog to date - but I do hope that this post illustrates the approach I have - that the glass is always half full and to breathe in all these silver linings. 

(Letters marked with * beside are the names of villages I wished to keep private, enjoy!)

We all have goals in life, be it big or small – long-term or short-term. Whenever we fulfil these goals, a blanket of euphoria comes over us almost. We are safe in the knowledge that we set our minds to something, we persevered through it and now at the finishing line – we can appreciate what has been achieved. It’s a universal feeling; you don’t have to be a brainbox to experience it. Imagine if one of your wishes was to walk that little bit farther on your regular route you take, to sit a bit longer in a chair that isn’t your own, to attend a full day at school or work. Put this regime on repeat – over and over again. It’s like putting your life in a shuffling mode, trying to skip to the good bit.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Update | Back to School & Blogging

It was back to the grind of work, school and college for a lot of people this week. As it was for me and all. Hence lack of posts! Find out near the end of this post why I need YOUR help.

Coming towards the end of summer, I knew it was high-time that I got myself back into a routine. I completed Transition Year last year, (Google it!) so I hadn't really hit the books too hard, apart from the BT Young Scientist. (Which I may write about soon, would you guys like that?) It's weird to say it, but I missed studying, I missed getting homework, and now? Those needs have well and truly been answered too.

I've entered into 5th Year this year, which will be my second last year in secondary school. And next year I will be sitting my (dun dun dunnn) Leaving Certificate exams! And they are the exams that determine my 3rd Level Education scenario. In short, these next two years are very very important for me. 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Guest Post | 9 Things I Love Blogging About Music | By Esther

I started blogging roughly three weeks ago and I think its the greatest way to share with the world my thoughts and experiences. I'm not the only one, countless other people think so too. I had never even thought about blogging, ever. It was only the other day when the little bulb in my head went on and I got a moment of inspiration that I actually really thought about it. Thinking led to doing and now I have my lovely little blog. Combining with my love for music, I had my first blog and I love it.

Since then, I constantly ask myself: why I'm blogging? What's so good about it that I spend hours in-front of a computer screen typing away my thoughts? Why do I love blogging about music so much? Here are my 9 reasons:

Friday, 29 August 2014

Guest Post | Silent Pressures of Social Media | Take 2 | How to Turn It All Around? by Mingaile Tarpy

I enjoyed reading Catherine’s blog post about social media called The Silent Pressures of Social Media where she talked about how hard it can be to constantly compare ourselves to somebody else, how easy it is to forget that other people’s lives are not perfect irrespective of all the beautiful pictures that we see on Facebook. I decided to extend this blog post and to kind of turn it all around, that is, to give you some food for thought and show you how social media can be used to your advantage if you have the right attitude.

First of all, I would like to make a distinction between various social media channels available, i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram (even though I haven’t ever used the last one yet) and so on… It is important to evaluate what those various platforms are and how we can benefit from them. For example, Facebook keeps us in touch with school friends, long-forgotten relatives and so on. It is great for people who want to stay in touch with each other and it is great for stalkers. There is another group of people on Facebook, that is people who like to show off. They post their best selfies, pics of their kids, parties, holidays and everything else which makes them look like they care about their image more than they care about living a life. Twitter has a completely different tone. Everyone seems to be very switched on there, everyone has a plan and posts tweets that benefit their business, generate sales and alike. Google Plus is somewhere in between; I am not familiar with the other networks well enough to comment, so you can make your own conclusions about those.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Album of the Month #2 | George Ezra

As last months Album of the Month went down well with a lot of you, I decided to fire ahead with another installment! You can read last month's here

I have been listening to a lot of different kinds of music this summer via Spotify, and George Ezra's Wanted On Voyage has been on repeat with the last few weeks. Ever since I saw him perform "Budapest" on Irish chat show - The Late Late Show - I have been following him ever since. Initially, the only way I could describe his voice was - chocolate. Which is a pretty vague description. His vocals are so smooth and mature for someone of his age. I was completely blown away by him and his music so I had to check out the album.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Silent Pressures of Social Media

Do you feel under pressure to be "seen" online through social media or otherwise? Are you trying to conform to something, and you have absolutely no idea what that is. If you're just as confused as I was, you might want to give this a little read.

I am not anti-social media, I use it everyday and a lot of the time it's useful. But I have started to realise the certain strings it has attached to us. Our social media that we are connected to are extensions of us as people and we feel helpless without the Wifey (Wi-Fi) at hand, or when a snazzy picture we took and uploaded got ignored by our Facebook and Instagram friends. 

The idea of Facebook and all the other social networks is to stay in touch with people we know, to see what they're up to and how they're getting on. But is there ever a little piece in your head that goes:

Monday, 11 August 2014

Writer's Workshop | Scoil Acla

Photo Credit: Maura Mulligan
Scoil Acla Writer's Group 2014

Hello everyone.

I've mentioned in a couple of posts that I took part in the Scoil Acla Writer's Workshop a couple of weeks ago. Scoil Acla was a summer school established in 1910 on Achill Island  for the teaching of Irish; Piping (Irish War Pipes) and the promotion of music, dance, song, and culture generally. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength. People from all over the world, and the length and breadth of Ireland come to attend the Scoil Acla week. There are classes for traditional Irish instruments, Irish courses, Writer's Workshop and a few other non-musical classes are available.

This year was my third year taking part in the Writer's Workshop. There were a lot of familiar faces back this year, which is one of the nicest things about the workshop. Established writer and poet, Macdara Woods was back with us again this year to oversee the week. A few new people showed up to take part in the workshop - with that and a change of venue it took us a couple of days to find our feet. But by Tuesday afternoon we were flying it. 

Friday, 8 August 2014

Skin Care Routine | Acne Prone Skin | Vichy Normaderm, La Roche Posay & St Ives

Hello everyone.

For anyone who is following my blog, you will have noticed there was 0 posts this week :( That's because I was quite busy with the Scoil Acla Writer's Workshop. So I was busy doing something! I'll have a write up of that soon.

In the meantime, I'm going to be telling you all about my skincare routine. Skincare is something I'm really interested in. I love hearing about what products other people use for their skin, and some of you might be interested too. I have normal/combination oily skin. Although as I've gotten older my skin isn't quite so oily. I was never really a proper grease magnet. I would say I have mild acne - with my chin area being my biggest demon! Having said that, compared to other people, it isn't really that bad. I find as soon as I get sluggish with my skin routine, my face begins to show it. So it's important for me to keep on top of my game! I switched up the products I've been using about two months ago and I'm seeing the results in my skin.

Disclaimer: I am not associated with any brand or company. All products mentioned were purchased with my own money. All views expressed are my own personal opinions.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Sweet At 17

Hello everyone!

Before I begin with today's post, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has followed my little blog. (and if you've just stumbled here, hello!) I've gotten a lot of feedback from people, and I am surprised things have come this far already. Thanks very much everyone. 

Since my last post, I turned 17! It was my birthday last Sunday. I've had quite a busy week, hence I haven't posted anything. As I've gotten older, my birthdays are less and less important to me really. Having said that, turning 18 next year will celebrated a bit differently I can tell you! I didn't get up to anything too exciting. I caught up with some friends and family. I headed to my local pub on Monday night (still drinking soft drinks, don't you fret). Every Monday in my local there is (traditional Irish) music on the go over the summer and a bit of a sing song afterwards. Casually, I got Happy Birthday sang to me in Irish (Breithlá Shona Duit) at 2 o'clock in the morning - no biggie. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Reaction | The Fault In Our Stars Movie

I should begin by saying that I am in no means a film critic or even a regular cinema-goer. This post is more of a reaction than a review - because there is so many FEELS. Although I hope to bring some actual opinions while reliving the emotional roller coaster.

Like many others, I read the book. I read it last summer within a day and a half. I feel in love with the novel, plot and the characters. When I was reading it, at the time there was no talk of a possible film. I was reading it purely to read it. 

To briefly summarize TFIOS, it begins with a 17 year old girl, Hazel who has lung cancer. Due to a wonder-drug, she has lived longer than expected. Her mother encourages her to go to a support group. It is then that she bumps into our second main character, Augustus Waters - who at the time is a cancer survivor, but it results in him having a prosthetic leg. To say that Gus pursues Hazel is a bit of an understatement. From here on in, they get to know each other.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Music Taste | Album of the Month

Over the years I have knitted down the music that I listen to. Music is a big part of my life, and it always has been. It's nearly the cliche thing to say that it has helped me along many a journey, but it has.  Yes, I went through that Pop phase when I was younger, bought endless copies of the Now! That's What I Call Music CDs. I was a die-hard Westlife fan back in the day. But as I grew, my music taste did too. I remember when I was 6, I was given a hand-me-down Walkman from my sister, a Kenny Rogers album (don't ask), a Walt Disney CD and  Micky Joe Harte single. (He was the guy with the green guitar that sang "We Got the World Tonight. Does anyone remember him?). It was at this point I was embarking my 10 year stint at regular spinal surgery. When I was 8, I started listening to Declan O'Rourke (His album since Kyabram is a road to my soul) and Katie Melua, among many others. And it was from that point that I knew, I wasn't into mainstream music. So what do I listen to now?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Guide | Getting the Most Out of Transition Year

By the time that you read this, you have either a) started your Transition Year or b) waiting to start in the new school year or c) a parent/guardian, whereby your child is taking part in the programme. I completed TY this year, and I thought it would be a good idea to compile a helpful to help you get the most out of your experience! (If you are completely lost and don't understand, you can read up on it here)

I come from a rural community in the West of Ireland, therefore, resources/funding are even more limited. These steps are more targeted at your attitude towards Transition Year, rather than dwelling on how many trips away your class go on. TY is sometimes controversial among parents and students alike, however, I am a firm believer in what you put into something, you get out of. Although it is not an academically challenged year, there is plenty to keep you busy if you put the effort in. 

1. Go into Transition Year with a positive attitude

If you set out on a mission to be negative, this isn't going to help you, your peers or your teachers. Chances are (should the TY programme not be compulsory in your school) you applied for a place - or had the decision to be a part of it. Remind yourself why you applied. However if you're already looking forward to it, then that's great!

2. Get to know the rest of your classmates

Transition Year is a great opportunity to mingle with the rest of your classmates. Some of us like to be in "clicks" as much as possible. Though with group projects, a little separation from your besties is inevitable. 

3. Come up with some ideas

There's a strong chance that your TY coordinators will come to you as a class and ask for some suggestions of projects to be done throughout the year. Use this opportunity, and don't be afraid to give some ideas! Although please try and bear in mind a) is this a trip or a project b) cost c) does this involve teamwork. If you have any interests in music, photography, writing, acting, art etc - incorporate those too! Should you have any disability/illness like in my situation - this is a great way to ensure your voice is heard and to remain included in activities that interest you.

4. Try new things & get out of your comfort zone

You may have some ideas for projects, and so will your peers and teachers. Have an open mind about projects. You don't know that you like something until you try it. As well as that, what have you got to lose by trying? For example, if your TY group has the chance to put together a stage production and you're really not keen on going on stage - be sure to participate in the behind-the-scenes. In every group project, there are roles and responsibilities to be carried out, and each role is important for the end result!

5. Take part in as many things as possible/Volunteer around your school

This ties in with my last point. But be sure to take part in as many things as you can throughout Transition Year. For example; BT Young Scientist, Mini Company/Enterprise, Writing Competitions, Cooking Competitions, Gaisce, Big Brother/Big Sister - the list is endless. I took part in the BT Young Scientist this year with two of my classmates, and I can solely say it was the best thing I ever did, our project did really well. You can read about our project here. Hard graft pays off! But by taking part in various activities keeps you both occupied and interested throughout the year. Likewise if a teacher or fellow student is looking for assistance, should you be in a position to help, then do so! This promotes good communication between you and the people around you.

6. Be a team player

I can't stress how important this is in Transition Year. With group projects, you are going to be working in groups for a lot of the time. Every role is important in projects coming together. Try your best in everything you are associated with. If a team mate is finding a section in a project difficult, lend a helping hand. Speak up if you don't understand something in a project, don't fall behind!

7. Work Experience

If your school offers a work experience programme during Transition Year, then take advantage of this opportunity! Work experience is a great way to expose you to the working world. I would advise to apply for placements that you think you will enjoy. Due to the fact that I live in a rural community, I had to travel for my placements. If you have any relations living near a business/placement you wish to apply to - ask if it's okay to stay with them for the week. Use what you have around you. I would recommend applying for places as soon as you know the dates for your work experience, don't leave it until last minute. I found this one of the most exciting aspects of Transition Year. 

8. Portfolio

If your school asks you to keep a portfolio to document your year, then be sure to put your own stamp on it. In my case, our portfolios were graded at the end of the year. Document trips away, workshops, projects, anything really. You could also include your own things like an article that caught your eye, a review of a book or album you read. Keep receipts and leaflets from events. For example I went to a couple of concerts and I included them in on my entry of them. Also 




They say a picture says a thousand words - so be sure to include them. They help fill up the pages and help to make your portfolio look like yours. Try to imagine yourself looking through the portfolio in 20 or 30 years time. In short, imagine it's like an organised scrapbook of your year. As long as you keep up to date with it, and put the effort in, you'll be very happy with the end result.

9. Have any concerns/questions about Transition Year?

If you have any queries relating to Transition Year, be it big or small, ask a teacher your more specifically a TY coordinator. If there's something at the back of your mind, if your year isn't shaping how you hoped it would be, or simply need some help on availing work experience be sure to ask someone. A problem shared is a problem halved!

10. Most importantly...ENJOY IT!

Transition Year only comes once around the corner, and no - you can't repeat it. So make the most of it. If you bear in mind the steps above, you'll be on the road to having a year jam-packed with memories and good times! 

Have you done Transition Year? Let me know in the comments below what you got out of it.