Friday, 21 September 2018


Mandarin Duck, Phoenix Park, Dublin

You may be wondering what on earth these three photos have in common?
For a while now I have been reading about the positive affirmation of life which keeping a Gratitude Journal encourages. Middlest daughter keeps one and says it helps her a lot.
I have tried doing one. Really, really tried. Several times.
3 things a day to be thankful for, not a lot.
For perhaps a week it goes alright-ish (although I don't enjoy examining myself or my day) and then I hit a bad patch or something happens and suddenly it seems such a false thing to do, so condescending to myself, such a waste of time.
There are black days when I am flipping well NOT glad to be alive and it would be easier to keep a journal of all the people/ things/ events/ stupidities/ ass-hats etc. which have annoyed me past bearing in the last 24 hours.
There are frantically busy days when I jolly well hope I am in someone else's Gratitude Journal because I ruddy well deserve to be.
And all the days between.

 High tide at Streedagh, Co. Sligo
So I got to thinking perhaps I am looking at it the wrong way around. Perhaps I should not be looking at the subject in terms of 'myself' but focus outwards.
What about an 'Appreciation Journal'?
The day I saw the Mandarin duck, I had stopped to feed the ducks (yes, some people don't grow up!). Normally in that pond there are a lot of mallard ducks, a few crows, some seagulls, and maybe some coots. This day there were three Mandarin ducks!
What a gift! 
So vibrant!
Such a splash of colour and so very out of the ordinary.
They were absolutely beautiful and the sight, enjoyment and marvelling at creation of such a creature still stuns me.
All the various people there soon gathered together admiring, looking over strangers' shoulders at their phones as they tried to figure what sort of ducks they were, and talking about them. That half hour of connection was also an unexpected gift.
Sunday Flowers, St. John's, Sligo
Appreciation is a wider outlook I think.

Appreciation is watching a marvellously coloured duck and saying Wow! aloud.

Appreciation is being awed by the surge and pull of a high tide, listening to the stones roll under the water, feeling the wind in my face, and persuading the dog that now is not a good time to go swimming.

Appreciation is the sun through stained glass windows on Sunday morning, beautiful flower arrangements from people's gardens, an organ which works and the sound of a congregation singing old, favourite hymns.

Gratitude is looking at my day and trying to figure what went right, sometimes many things, sometimes nothing much.
Appreciation is looking for the beauty outside of myself, which I have done nothing to deserve.

You may consider that I am spitting hairs and perhaps I am. But in my mind there is a powerful difference.
The Gratitude journal is, forthwith, an Appreciation Journal.
We'll see how it goes!

Friday, 7 September 2018

Bath Plants

About a year ago I wrote a post about getting back into the habit of blogging.

It didn't work too well did it?

And now, here I am again.

It was the plants in the bath this morning which got me thinking...
bath plants
...about living as best one can, priorities, changes and coping with them, pain, unemployment, and the general Unexpectedness of Life.

One of those plants I have had since 1999. It has moved house, suffered re-potting several times, been munched on by snails, flowered, got sunburned to a crisp when I accidentally left it in a south-facing window, collapsed when I went away for too long, but look at it now- a little minding each time and back it grows! Spathyphillum are not supposed to flourish in Ireland but look at it- happy as anything.

And so I reckon I need to be more like my impossible plant; mind myself, refuse to be quashed, keep growing...and not lounge in a south-facing window!


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