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The Band-Aids are blue. Four that I can see. One masking each little knee poking from below her skirt’s hem and one on each elbow, like patches covering holes on an old man’s cardigan. The rest are hidden, but I know they’re there. They’re always there.

Back one night as she lay on her firm cot, she whispered into the lamp’s soft glow; “They can change, you know. When I’m happy, they turn purple. It’s like magic.”

I’d stayed very still, blocking the breaths of the nine other girls asleep in the room. Silently willing Evie to share more secrets.

“But they’ve been blue for a really long time.” She said with a sleepy softness before drifting off.

Alone now, we sit facing one another. She scans my expression. I see her brown eyes, upturned and massive through strands of mousy hair. Her lips look dry. Her petite hands are folded in her lap. Her eyes dart from me to Jiffy. He’s trying his best not to squirm.

I’d planned various greetings while waiting for them to arrive today. Even said them aloud while fussing with the fruit bowl. But when the doorbell rang, I’d merely opened it and stood, my gaze dropping from the social worker’s eager eyes to Evie, her backpack and her Band-Aids. She seemed even more fragile out here in the big world and everything I thought I’d say had left me.

My heart thumps. What do I do with this helpless creature? Adopting Jiffy was so different. A single pat had sparked instant love. But this? I suddenly feel like a fraud.

I finally stand and she pulls herself smaller. Shrinks into the chair’s dark corner.

Resisting the urge to scoop her up like a curly new pup, I present Jiffy instead. “Want to hold him? He loves kids.”

She shakes her head. Unfolds her hands. Gathers her skirt into two mid-thigh rosettes.

“It’s okay,” I assure her. “He might want to get to know you first anyway. He’s smart like that.”

I smile and her body seems to grow just a tiny bit.

“You should definitely come see your room though. I think you’ll like it in there. At least, I hope so. I read every decorating magazine out there trying to make it look cool.”

She doesn’t laugh, but gently leans over and picks up her backpack. It’s a small victory.

I walk delicately. Terrified she’ll break along the way. But when I open the door, I hear her draw a quiet breath behind me.

It’s cliché, really. A room much like the ones most girls her age should find themselves in. Shades of lavender. A single bed. A fluffy rug and an old bookshelf I’d bought at a yard sale up the street. I’d been pleased with my efforts but now that she’s here, they seem somehow not enough.

My doubt mounts as she walks in and drops her knapsack. Kneels in front of the crammed bookcase.

“I’ve never owned a book.” She says in a Christmas morning kind of whisper. “We weren’t allowed to take them out of the reading room in foster care.”

“Which one was your favourite?” I ask, hoping I’ve masked the sadness in my voice.

“I don’t know what it was called,” she answers. “The cover was ripped.” She picks up one of the books I’d bought at the same yard sale as the shelves. Runs her hand across the front. Already lost in it.

I set Jiffy down and am amazed when he doesn’t rush at her like he would anyone else. We watch in silence. She takes the book over to the big beanbag and sinks in. It’s like she forgets we’re here. Her body becomes so engulfed in the chair’s violet fabric all I can see are the milky cotton socks spilled around her ankles.

I sneak away to make some lunch. She must be hungry and I’m sure I’ve burned through a thousand calories by now my heart rate is so high.

I smooth jam over bread, but can’t help myself and tiptoe back to Evie’s room for a peek. I find her and Jiff asleep on the beanbag and as I move Evie’s backpack out of the way, a frayed, coverless book falls out onto the floor. Stooping to pick it up, I notice she’s scribbled over her blue Band-Aids with a pink hi-liter, turning them a mottled purple.

“It is magic.” I whisper.

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I remember hands.

When I think of someone I haven’t seen for a long time. Or someone I will never see again. I see their hands. My mind pictures the shape of their nails. The length of their fingers. Slender. Wide. Rounded or squared. The curve of their wrist. The gestures they made.

Unique. Personal.

But they change. Our hands.

Fingers bend with an arthritic curve. Skin tells of our days in the sun. Scars. Lines. Creases. Spots. Yes. They change. And yet, there’d be no mistaking them. We would still know them anywhere. And to whom they belonged.

And that’s true for us. We bend. Curve. Digress. Succeed.

Scar. Fail. Fall. Fly. Hurt. Heal.

And change.

Because nothing ever stays the same. Even if it seems so. Not our hands. Not us.

But we will always reach for the familiar. Seek the uniqueness. Strive to see the recognizable.

The memorable. The unforgettable.

We’ll always look for what we understand. We will always know each other. Even through continuous change. Because despite sometimes believing we want things to stay the same, we thrive on growth. Diversity.

Spice.

The things that make us look closer. Use our minds. Feel. Find. Connect.

The things that give us a hand…to hold on.

AlanaHanad

I really don’t watch that much TV so ignore the remote and focus on the fact that I was brave enough to post this extreme close-up of my unmanicured mitt. It was a spontaneous shot. ;0)

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Autumns, roses, loves, leaves. Leavings and losings. Moons, stars, sorrows, souls. Forevers and goodbyes.

Fine webs spun off the tattered edge of a torn heart.

Broken

Bleeding

Beautiful

Pain. Ache. Loneliness. Things that make it hard to breathe. Things that make it easy to cry.

Things that turn on the light before we reach the switch.

The wishes we shouldn’t make. The things we don’t know we want. Endings leaving happiness to interpretation. Beginnings making unhappiness clear. The hope that turns the page. The rock that keeps us anchored. The robe that makes us feel safe while we dream.

The pocket that carries us.

Every song worth hearing. Every story worth reading. Has these. And they are the things that hold us.

While we listen.

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Killyleagh Castle, Co Down, NI (Photo credit: Me)

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I’m crazy.

 

I say this with a sigh, so you get a feel for where I’m at. Oh, I may try and pass it off as Hazy, but no. There’s no doubt in my mind I’m certifiably nuts.

 

And sometimes I forget to tap into that. To use it to my advantage.

 

Because it works for people like me. People with a creative inkling. So does a little shot of something strong and throat-blazing first thing in the morning, although I’m holding off on going that route just yet.

 

But I have been pondering this blog lately. Wondering what its really about. And I don’t mean the content. Because honestly no one ever truly knows what the hell I’m rambling on about. Including me, most of the time.

 

And because of that, my sentiments will mean something different. And serve a different purpose. To whomever who reads it. Which I like to believe is a good thing.

 

No, what I mean is. Why am I doing it? At the end of the day, it doesn’t seem it’s getting me any closer to this “making it” thing I hear people referring to. And I’m not using it to get ahead. Or herd myself any closer to what I want to be when I grow up.

 

So yeah. Just when I was thinking the sky was falling—creative people have a tendency towards the fatalistic—I received what I feel compares to a loved one at the finish line cheering me on. Just as I’m about to give up on completing the last grueling marathon mile…

 

It was a morning text.

 

Right after a restless night’s sleep. And I honestly couldn’t have dreamed up anything better than what it said. That I’m talented. And write beautifully. I’m prophetic and a gift! And that I should publish my posts into a book.

 

Now, I know that had I not received that message, I’d still be here, my friends. I know because this blog helps me. And I can only hope it does the same for you. Writing is my passion. And we know there’s no stopping what the heart wants. The heart’s a stubborn bugger, don’t you know.

 

I simply need to bring the scarecrows in off the fields. Shake the birds from their nests. And trust that even though it’s hidden from my site, there is a wild blue over yonder.

 

And trust me. Believing it’s there, even though I can sometimes barely see it through the clouds, is like finding a secret tenner in the glove box just when I thought I’d used my last penny.

 

Boom.

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County Down, Northern Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

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Did I mention we have pups?

 

Ohhh yes. We sure do. Well, they’re pups bordering on adulthood. But when we got them back in October 2016, they were wild and bouncy babes.

 

And because of them, all kinds of things are happening.

 

They are mini magicians. These doggies. They’ve magic’d our entire carpet into one big potty. And all of a sudden, our kitchen table seems to be about two inches closer to the ground.

 

Yes, they are as cute as all get out, but me oh my, are they a handful.

 

Times two.

 

And as I say, they’re making things happen.

 

We are currently in the process of replacing the carpet in question. Which is, of course, a very welcome change of scene. But as all updates and renovations do, one thing has led to another and we are now replacing the entire lower level flooring.

 

The stairs.

 

And the landing.

 

And doing so, has prompted us to hire an 18 foot long skip to clear out the last 18 years of our life in this house. One foot for every year. A somewhat eerie coincidence, don’t you think? (Okay now…where’s my little pensive emoji guy)

 

And as I’m sure you know, the arduous task of clearing out. Unburdening. Is both entirely painful and hugely liberating. But to make it especially challenging, I have apparently kept every single card

 

ever

 

given

 

to

 

me.

 

Not to mention every single card I have ever given to my three children. And my husband. And I sat there in the driveway, on a little stool beside the skip, and read through…

 

every

 

single

 

one.

 

It took days. And it was lovely. Tucked inside every card was a memory that made me smile. Things I thought I’d lost. Photos that melted my heart. Sentiments that had me in tears. Events I’d forgotten.

 

And some that I will never forget for as long as I live.

 

And after reading. Deep breath. Eyes closed. Surrounded by the ones who’d sent them. I frisbeed each of them into the dumpster’s abyss. No, not the people silly monkey. The cards.

 

And it’s okay.

 

I’ll be okay.

 

Because once they’d disappeared. In amongst the trash. And the treasures. I looked around. And everyone…all who’d sent me those special somethings that are now in the bin…were still with me.

 

In my mind. My heart. And in my soul. Because what matters will always dig its nails in. Cling to the side. Refuse to fall away. Or be lost in the darkness of a skip.

 

So we can hold on to them for dear life.

 

Or we can let go.

 

See what sticks.

 

Because what sticks once we’ve let go, is what we hold life-dear.

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When I was young, I read all the fairytales. The pretty ones. The sparkly ones. The dark. And the doomful.

 

Most of us did, right?

 

But I wonder…did they have the same effect on everyone else? (If I were feeling silly, I’d insert that little guy here…the one with his finger and thumb resting on his chin. And a pensive look on his little face. (Ah, go on. He’s one of my favorites)

thinking-face

Stories like Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. Sleeping Beauty. And The Three Little Pigs.

 

Ohhh yes. I slurped that sinister stuff up like it was flowing from a big huge straw.

 

And it’s strange. Because I’m a realist in most areas of my life. Yet somehow, I’m gullible in this one regard. Probably because I’m a sucker for a great story.

 

I want to believe. Buy in. Exist amongst enchanting pages. And nestle safely between their protective covers. But hey. Only if there’s a good bricklayer about to keep the wolves at bay…I wouldn’t chance landing over in Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and HAM.

 

Anyway, back to my point. And it’s this. As a young girl, I believed in fairy tales.

 

I believed I could wish upon a star.

 

Or a birthday candle.

 

Or a dandelion.

 

And that it would come true. My wish. Whatever it was.

 

And I want that back. My faith. My belief. My gullibility. My trust in the process.

 

That if I dare to wish. Take the leap. And drink from the fountain. That it’ll pay off. That I won’t just be left holding a smoldering wick and a wilting stem.

 

That I can erect my own fairy tale.

 

That I can get back what I lost when I was young.

 

But I need you to believe with me…

 

So are you ready?

 

Okay now…

1

2

3

Blow…

Wish

Photo taken at Nendrum Castle Lookout, Co Down, NI

 

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Memories are fickle things.

They try so hard to keep us happy. And other times, are set on breaking us. Into the tiny little crumbs we find in the seams of our pockets.

Remember those?

Memories are illusionists. And they are the boss. They can have us staring off into the star-studded sky. Cue the dopey grin. And in one fell swoop. Taking a swipe at tears we swiftly find kerplunking into the darkness of our coffee cups.

But whatever the case—sad or happy—memories are invaluable. Irreplacable.

And we’re glad of them, aren’t we.

Always looking to make more. Searching for the next chance. The next stolen moment.

And while that’s okay—it is, after all, what keeps us going—it’s important to relish in the ones that already exist. Invite them in. Spend time. Offer them a teacake. Make them feel special.

Wanted

Needed

Important

And loved

Because sometimes. When we’re busy searching for the next best thing.

We forget.

That we can just put our hands in our pockets. And drag our fingers through those unexpected, joyful and delectable little tidbits. Relish their different shapes and sizes. And say…

“I’ve got everything I need right here.”

TunnocksTeacake

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My time here is coming to an end. Normally, the word slowly might have been in there, but not so…this time. This time, time is running round the room. And I’m chasing its cheeky little naked bum, telling it to stop.

And settle down.

Behave.

But time is a rascal, isn’t it? It doesn’t listen when we pray for it to hurry up. And it sticks its fingers in its ears and hums a defiant little tune when we beg it to slow down.

We can plead with it. Finesse it. Scold it. And we can try to get it into that elusive bed. Tuck it in tight.

So it can’t move.

But those mischievous little hands will keep right on ticking. Showing us who’s boss. No matter what tactic we take.

And it’s because of this I’m finding it best to ignore time. Ohh yes. For now, I’ll just set it in front of the telly with a big bowl of sweet stuff. And maybe. If I’m lucky. I’ll be able to steal away a few more of its precious moments. You know…while its having a good chuckle at something we wouldn’t understand.

Because, you see, time also has a truly wicked sense of humour.

TheShrigleyClock3

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Moments…

 

They come and go. And most times, sneak past us on tiptoes, slipping away as silently as they entered.

 

And we miss them.

 

But not lately. Lately, each one is noticed. And appreciated.

 

Whether it be…hard or sad. Crafted. Fleeting. Special or mundane. Every single one is precious. Unrepeatable.

 

And sometimes, all we’ve got.

 

So stand strong. Watch from that lookout that’s threatening to collapse around you. Hunt for them. Steal them if you have to. And hang on. Don’t let even one escape.

 

Because these are the moments, my friends. And it’s tempting to believe that they’ll never end.

 

But they will.

 

Over and over again.

Nendrumlookout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ironing.

 

I have to admit that although I have 100% British blood racing through my veins, I don’t iron a damn thing unless it’s absolutely necessary. But it’s different here. So I’m different here. And when I first arrived, I had to iron, of all things, sheets.

 

And a duvet cover.

 

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted this task, but I’ve lived in the land of tumble dryers for many years and I can say with certainty that I never have—Okay now…it might not be just because of where I live—and that particular morning, it was arduous. Trying. And taxing. For me.

 

Five weeks I’ve been here now. In the UK. And this morning, I once again, saddled the old board with yet another billowy, seemingly endless sheath of heavy fabric. But this time, the iron glided over it as smoothly as skates on ice and before I could have the satisfaction of shouting, Blimey, I hate ironing, I was done.

 

A very different experience than the first time round.

 

And it proved to me, it really is all about frame of mind. Whether it be that you’ve simply decided ironing isn’t all that bad or that life has shown you what the meaning of hard truly is, it’s the way you think about things that will make the difference.

 

And a difference can sometimes be your steam. And that steam’ll blow the wrinkles out from where they have no business being.

Iron

 

 

 

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