Ten years have passed since Hannah died.
One hundred and twenty months.
Five hundred and twenty weeks.
It seems such a little time.
It seems such a long, long time.
And my world is a completely different place,
because she lived,
because she died.
A world of strangers came into my life
A world of friends
The bereaved parents came...
and stayed through thick and thin.
I began to write.
I found new work for my heart and hands.
And long dark night gave way to dawn.
And still the days roll on,
with Hannah in my heart,
without her in my life.
One hand full.
The other empty.
I hold you gently.
Have you had a time in your life when you were asleep?
And then you woke up?
You woke up and you changed....
yourself or something in your life.
If someone gave you the opportunity today,
to wake up and change something,
what would that SOMETHING be?
The only limit is the sky!
On International Womens Day... remembering the Chinese proverb
"When sleeping women wake, mountains move!"
Check out the Happy Book here
A young girl growing up in small town Ireland,
Met a young boy
and was swept away by feelings
no-one had ever told her about.
She had a baby.
She reared her baby for years.
Then one day he was taken from her.
She never saw him again.
She yearned every day for him.
He yearned every day for her.
She searched for him.
He searched for her.
A group of people lied to them both.
she sought him still,
she found his grave.
Other babies were taken
from other young girls.
A group of people lied to them too.
Many of the girls died with lies.
Time to tell the truth now.
Please support the #PhilomenaProject http://thephilomenaproject.org/
My small granny kept a holy water font beside her door.
(this water had been blessed by a priest or came from a holy well)
Every time we left her she sprinkled water on our heads.
In this loving action she blessed us and wished us a safe journey and a speedy return.
Today I send a blessing to all my friends.
May you feel loved wherever in the world you find yourself.
May you be in good company.
May you have a safe roof over your head.
May you be warm and well fed.
May you be forgiven for your mistakes.
May you forgive your self for your mistakes.
May you find comfort in your grief.
May you find hope in your heart.
May courage not fail you,
When rough winds assail you.
Most of all may you be blessed.
I remember the longing,
the absolute hunger to be home.
I remember counting down the days.
I remember shopping for gifts,
and worrying about the weight of my suitcase.
I remember watching weather forecasts every night for a month,
and praying that my boat/airplane would get me home before the storm.
I remember not being able to sleep with excitement.
I remember leaving far too early and hanging around cold train stations,
and later sweating in airports.
I remember seeing old men cry silent tears.
I remember crying in the arms of loved ones 'I'm home. I'm home.'
Then, I remember the smell of turf,
the sound of soft Irish accents,
the taste of familiar foods.
I remember a sense of pride,
that I had money in my pocket,
money that I had earned myself.
I remember moments when I sat,
and watched the smiling faces,
and felt that sense of belonging...
And I carried all that goodness,
back to London with me,
until it was time to come home again.
I think you know how much you love your work when your car breaks down and you can't get to the meeting and you come home and start searching online databases for long lost families!
This is me today.
My car is at the garage and I am sitting at my computer answering queries on behalf of Ireland Reaching Out
The past few months have been a whirlwind as I have been getting to know the highways and byways of West Limerick, it's townlands and civil parishes, it's church parishes and it's people.
I have lovely memories.
(Most of them in family kitchens)
The day we helped Ann to find her father's people
The day Sean (who was new to computers) opened up the internet link and helped Eamonn find a map of the family farm
The day Michael found a whole parcel of children that the enquirer didn't know existed
The day Sharon began to manage a Facebook page for the first time
The day Mary answered her first query on Ireland Reaching Out
The day another Mary found her family on the 1901 Census
The day I gave my first formal genealogy talk, Create Your Family Tree, and no-one noticed that an hour and a half had gone by!
And these memories are just a few of the many happy times I have spent with the volunteers in West Limerick.
I have had frustrating times too.
I'm thinking especially of Liz, Joan and Paul. I am so disappointed that we hit the famous brick wall after such a promising start. But all I can say is that the details are in my family tree book and you aren't forgotten.
My world is so much bigger now than it used to be.
It is so much richer too!
And I want to thank each and every one of you (including those whose names I have not mentioned) for welcoming me into your kitchens, village halls and local pubs.
And my smallie says thank you for the swirly buns too!
What happens when our view of the world becomes fractured?
What happens when there is an event in our lives which mangles the old way we saw life, people and even ourselves?
We try to cling to the way it was.
But sometimes we are unable to cling, too shocked to panic.
Instead we fall into 'not knowing.'
'Not knowing' is not such a bad place...
It brings gifts, if we can allow ourselves to have them.
'Not knowing' slows down the pace.
If I don't know what to do then I cannot rush into action.
If I do not rush into action, maybe I will avoid an action which would not be good for me.
Maybe my old way of thinking no longer serves me and the person I am becoming.
Maybe this chaos I experience is an opportunity in disguise.
However I see it, I am being moved on to another stage.
I can fight it but I will only tire myself out.
I could let the tide take me.
I could just ride the wave and let it's energy take me into the unknown.
I could look around with curiosity and marvel at the sights.
I could do all this...
and maybe this time I will...
As the nights began to draw in, I felt low.
A feeling of sadness enveloped me.
The things that would normally lift me up,
just didn't work.
Then I remembered that today, the Celtic new year begins.
The end of the old.
The beginning of the new.
I became willing to let go of the old.
So I took a look at my sadness.
I stopped struggling with my sadness.
I began to feel compassion for my self in this sadness.
I held it lightly.
I remembered Byron Katie's question in The Work.
'Can you find any good reason to hold onto this thought?'
(This thought that is causing pain)
Then I let these thoughts, this struggle, go.
I watched it dance on the waves and disappear.
And I felt the seed of hope within me.
Not an arrogant 'everything will be alright'
but a gentle curiosity 'how could I make this better?'
And I discovered that there are possibilities that my closed down thinking had not allowed.
My beloved simple things.
So today, dear readers may you cease to struggle with thoughts that bring you pain.
May you release them onto the waves.
May you too find peace and hope on our new year's day.
Dagda's Bowl, Tralee, Pic by Martine
This small house is part of who I am.
I never lived in it but this is the house my great grandmother Bessie (Elizabeth) married into in 1897.
It is the house in which my grandmother Catherine Hurley was born, in 1905.
It is the house she left to go to Peabody, Massachusetts in 1925.
This small house is part of who I am.
There is something solid about this house.
There were hard times and sad times in this house.
There was rejoicing...
And all of it... part of who I am.
In coming to know these women, my mother's mothers,
I come to know myself.
I too am solid and enduring.
I too have known hard times and sad times.
I too rejoice.
I am one of the mothers now.
Join the conversation on Twitter @martinewrites
A friend of mine is going through a separation.
Her marriage is ending.
I started to think the other day about this use of the word separation.
Years ago, I only knew it as a baking term.
Do you remember it?
'Separate the yolk and white of one egg.'
But when a marriage ends, it seems to me that the egg has most definitely been scrambled and it may become a quiche but it definitely cannot go back to being an uncooked egg!
The only question that remains is what kind of a quiche?
Hot and spicy or smooth and creamy?
When my first marriage ended, my whole wardrobe changed... and changed again.
I experimented with my hairstyle and went from long to short... very short!
And of course there were other, deeper changes.
It took me a long time to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be.
I wish I had someone then to say 'it's ok to not know,
it's ok to experiment,
you might be going through this even if you weren't going through a separation.'
We all change...
whether we stay in the marriage or whether we go.
Living means changing, and changing again.
Fear of change can hold us back.
But for better or for worse,
we only get to live one life.
So let's make it count!
pic by Martine 2012
There is a rhythm in everything.
Sometimes it takes some time
to find our own right rhythm.
Sometimes it helps to stand back
and gaze kindly on our
And wait in quiet expectation
for the stillpoint
We give everything meaning.
When I darn wool socks,
I remember love.
I remember nights by the fire with my small granny.
I remember her darning the socks she had knit for my grandfather.
To another, darning socks could mean poverty,
the inability to buy new socks.
Or even a lack of self care.
But for me, when I darn a lovely pair of bright woolly socks,
I am wrapping myself up with love and paying attention to myself and my needs in a very special way.To put what matters to you at the top of your list get a copy of the Happy Book for yourself or gift one to a friend. (Big Book Sale on now while stocks last)
When did we learn to hide?
Probably most of us learned to hide when we were so young that we cannot even remember.
We hid because
we felt unwelcome,
or because we were trying to earn love.
We hid because we loved our parents.
And somehow we felt that if we came out of hiding we would upset or worry them.
Hiding became a habit,
and seemingly effortless.
As adults, we can find forty thousand reasons to continue hiding.
"It's too late."
"We might hurt someone."
"We have responsibilities now."
We can try to change our thinking but this does not always work.
Since our hiding came before organised thought or even words,
it does not respond to reasoning.
It does however respond to gentle daily stretches.
The Quakers have a beautiful saying "bringing the invisible into the light."
What invisible part of you could you bring into the light today?
What hidden part of you could you give a gentle stretch?
Could you allow the hidden part of you that desperately wants to give up a responsibility, a 20 minute break and an ice-cream?
Could you walk away from a conversation that bores or irritates you, instead of being 'polite'?
Could you allow your hidden self a safe outing?
I think you could and I really wish you would!
Find simple ways to say yes to you in the Happy Book
Ok I know it's not Winter but the weather fairies don't seem to know that!
Outside my window, it is cold and wet and 'orrible.
As I sat and watched the rain, I was reminded of this song and the words it contains "farewell to the old.' And that's what I've been doing over the last few days, saying farewell to the old.
Most especially I have been saying goodbye to some old ways of thinking.
I grew up in a world where every new idea was met with 'you can't do that!'
Well, I'll tell you now, I am so tired of that.
I am so tired of that, I could just SCREAM.
In fact I just did!
I LOVE the question 'how could I do that?'
I think this is why I enjoy the company of Irish Americans so much.
I find them so optimistic, so full of 'get up and go.'
(I guess this is not so surprising when I remember they are the descendants of Irish people who got up and went!)
So wherever you are in the world, whether the sun is shining on you or not, just think of all you could achieve if you stop telling yourself 'oh you can't do that!'
Join me now and instead say 'Farewell to the old!'
Apologies to the few who do comment on the blog, after a spate of spammers I have had to bring comments under review before posting. But don't let that stop you please!
Inspired by the work of Melani Marx
If my small granny could see me now
An afternoon among the women poem
Growing up in a white world
When people say genealogy is boring
Anger and Truth
Where do you come from?
The House on an Irish Hillside book review
Mammies for Mariage Equality
Aw go on, say YES
Homeless in Ireland
When wide sky opens poem
I love my work
Celtic New Year
This small house
Rhythm & Rest poem
The Hidden Self
The Lonely Road
Kerry Pride 2013
Letting the Light in after Loss
Letting go is hard
Pick up the phone
Her name was not Magdalene
Do what you love doing!
My small granny
Praise the child and boil the dishcloths
My invisible brother Michael
I don't want to be Irish anymore
Alone on Valentine's Day
I love my country but I am not blind
Truth no. 2
How we tell the Truth
From Clare to here
Mother's Day is bittersweet
I will not be part of that
No Blacks No Dogs No Irish
Thank you for the days
Baby Marion Howe
My Irish Identity
When my Mam was dying
Violence against women
Take back your power
Draw the line
My small granny and other stories