Come Join Me Over Here!

Hi there!

I'm glad you've come to read my blog, but unfortunately I don't live here any more!

Feel free to trawl through my archives or look up my posts on Scoliosis which will always be at home here, but when you're ready please come and join me at my new home:


See you there!

Catherine Ann x

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Happiness... What's the Point?

This is gonna be a teeny little post which can only loosely be filed under  "happiness".

I just logged onto my Facebook account and saw that someone had put up a status asking a question that's probably been asked by everyone at some point, since before cave paintings, let alone Facebook:

"What's the point?"

I thought about how I would answer. Mine was fairly simple: "The point is to be happy," I thought to myself. But then I wondered, "What if you're already happy?" "Then it's to stay happy... no, it's to make others happy."

Aside from a conversation with myself, which can't be a good sign, the question gave me an idea for a blog post. Posts will be a bit sparse due to my exams, but I hope to have one up every weekend.

So for the rest of the week I'm going to be asking people "What's the point?"

I won't give them time to think of an answer, to come up with something smart and witty... I just want an honest opinion that perhaps they themselves didn't even know they had.

And then I'm going to share them with you.

See you soon! x

Friday, 21 February 2014

It's Not Easy Being Beautiful...


A few weeks ago, I was involved in a survey about body image in teenage girls. It was for a college student and, along with a lot of other girls from my school, I was pleased to help. It was really interesting and gave me a chance to think about what “body image” and “confidence” really mean.

In doing so, I realised just how little I am affected by my body image.

We had to write down things we were unhappy with about our physical appearance. There was space for several; I could only think of two. That’s not to say that I love everything else about myself, but those were the only two that really stood out. The rest of the issues I might have with my appearance, I thought for a second and realised, “Well, that doesn’t really matter.”

The survey went on to ask how long we spend, daily, thinking about the things we dislike in our appearance. I was surprised to see the shortest time given was twenty minutes. Often I’ll get frustrated and wish I looked different, but this never lasts long for me and I can certainly go days or weeks without worrying about the way I look. On average I’ll spend about seven to ten minutes applying make-up in the mornings, three minutes taking it off at night, and in between I might look in the mirror to fix my hair or something throughout the day. I try not to look at the mirrors at school, because really, as a leaving cert student, I’ve got enough to worry about…

There was another question which scared, perhaps saddened me slightly. It asked us to think about the topmost negative feature we had picked. I can’t remember which I chose, so it can’t have affected me too deeply! It was probably either my weight or that I don’t have very good skin. Anyway, the question was this: if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, does this feature affect yoru relationship? If not, do you feel that it would affect whether you have a boy/girlfriend?

I answered with a big, fat no.

Let me give my opinion on this. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is making you feel anything other than confident and beautiful, then there is something wrong. I’m not judging anyone else’s relationship, but personally I don’t think I would stand for that at all. And if you’re not in a relationship… it’s ridiculous to say that looks don’t have anything to do with attraction, but remember that everyone is attracted to different shapes, sizes and features. And that’s OK. Look at it logically: someone will be attracted to you. There are eight billion people in the world. The odds are in your favour, no matter what you look like! And your other half will not only be OK with the bits you feel self-conscious about, but will probably even love you for them.
But before you think about starting a relationship with someone, you should make sure that you feel confident in yourself first. Take care of yourself before you start looking for another person.

The same goes for friendships, too. It’s not necessary for a friend to complement you all the time, but you should feel comfortable around them, not self-conscious. A good friend might joke and laugh with you, but will know not to knock your confidence, and know when you need to be built up. Appearance should have nothing to do with whether or not you are friends with someone, or how you feel around them.

I don’t know if my survey answers will be useful to the project, but taking that survey certainly taught me an awful lot.

Do I think I’m gorgeous? No. Do I have the confidence to walk around in a bikini, or post numerous selfies on Facebook? Not really, no. Are there things about my body I don’t like? Of course!

But would I change myself for the world? I can’t say that I would. I might get spots all the time, and I’m still rocking my holiday pot-belly, almost two months after Christmas… but I really do like my eyes. I think my hair looks pretty good today. My spine is straight as the next person’s---which might not mean a lot to you, but for me it’s a gift. Perhaps having surgery has gone some way in making me feel lucky to have the healthy body I’ve got.

Really, I’m just like any other teenage girl. I envy the person with the flat stomach, or the perfect tan, or the legs up to here (imagine me doing an appropriate hand gesture). But the difference is: I don’t let this affect the rest of my life. My appearance is just a part of who I am, not the whole package. I’m more concerned about getting to university, becoming a professional writer, having fun with my friends and loving my family than I am about dropping ten pounds for swimsuit season.

So am I beautiful? Am I gorgeous? Or am I ugly? Do men turn to stone when I look at them, do children cry, do animals head for the hills?

I reckon I’m somewhere balancing between the two. I reckon I look all right, most of the time.


And I reckon that’s enough. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

When You're Smiling... A Brief Encounter

In my last post, I mentioned the benefits a smile can bring. Smiling also makes you seem more open. If you offer someone a warm smile, they will be more likely to want to chat, to be your friend. A hostile expression which I see every day on streets and in corridors (and, I’m sure, am guilty of myself on many occasions) will not encourage someone to stop and chat to you, but a little smile might.

Irish people—if I’m honest, the older generation or Irish people—tend to be very talkative and apt to make friends with anyone and everyone. It can be confusing as a child when you are told not to talk to strangers, but see your parents doing so. I guess the rules vary!

Yesterday I went shopping with my parents and their friends. We sat down to a cup of tea in the shopping centre and an elderly gentleman sat at the next table. As is my custom, I gave him a big smile and he smiled back.

A few minutes later, my dad said hello to him and they made a few passing remarks on the weather.

The next minute (if you’re Irish, you’ll find this normal), he was telling us his entire life story.

And what a story!


He is the fourth generation of a family of blacksmiths, and owns a forge where he makes anything that can be made out of metal, all the old-fashioned way, with particular emphasis on ploughs. I don’t know if he still works there, being presumably in his seventies or eighties, but he has taught many younger people the trade.

He took us through the years with his stories, talking about “The Emergency”—what neutral Ireland referred to the Second World War as—and how iron was so scarce that it was necessary to melt down one horse shoe to make the next one. You all know I enjoy craft, and I got a lesson not only in metalwork, but in good old-fashioned husbandry.

Speaking of old-fashioned craft, he mentioned that his sister was a dressmaker, and was best friends with their next-door neighbour—both girls “could make anything with a bit of cloth.”

It transpired that this neighbour got married to a man who owned a sweet shop…in my dad’s hometown, where he bought his sweets as a boy!

This again is a bit of Irish trait… everyone in Ireland knows everyone else, and that’s a fact. You just have to join up the dots.

Anyway, this man’s story turned out to be ever so interesting, and it struck me that if we hadn’t smiled at him and politely said hello, we never would have heard it. Perhaps we’ll visit his forge one day. I believe he did a demonstration for a DVD made as part of “The Gathering”. Maybe we’ll try to find that.

There’s always time to be polite, and if you have a few minutes, you might make a new friend.


Smiles not only spread happiness, but it turns out they can open a whole lot of doors!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Happiness... When You're Smiling.




By my reckoning, we smile about fifty per cent of the time for ourselves, and fifty per cent for other people.

Yes, I’m lucky enough to have people in my life who go to a huge effort to make me laugh or smile. 
Sometimes I’ll catch sight of a picture from ages ago, or I’ll remember something sweet, and I’ll smile all over my face without being able to help it.

But smiling is also about manners: when you pass by someone or sit down opposite them, you smile. It’s polite. It’s a kindness. It’s nothing, really.

Except that it is. Sometimes, it’s the whole world.

First of all, the fact is that every single human being looks their best when they smile. A smile lights up the eyes, gives the face a pleasant shape, and generally makes someone look like you’d want to go up and talk to them. If you see someone glaring around the room, they don’t look very approachable!

Smiles are also infectious. Seeing one person at peace with the world can often make us feel a lot better.

I remember going into school on my own one day—I normally travel with Phoenix—and for whatever reason I was really upset. It was a time when I was being picked on, and I dreaded going in to school on my own. I hated the thought of walking through those corridors, terrified someone would start to say or do something mean.

I was just walking down the corridor when I passed by a girl in my year, and she gave me a big smile and said “Hi!”

It was the simplest thing in the world, but it made me feel so much better. I don’t even really know this girl, but she brightened up my day. It just made me feel like one person was on my side, and that was all I needed.


What I hadn’t realised was that I was capable of doing the same.

A couple of months ago, I came home from school and my dad said he had something very important to tell me.

We’d ordered something online to be delivered, and when dad answered the door for the parcel, the delivery man said he remembered our house.

He distinctly remembered delivering a Vax steam cleaner (detail important for some reason) to our house, because it was his first day on the job… and it was going to be his last. He really hated it. 

“When I rang the bell,” he told dad, “Your daughter was by the window, studying hard! She turned to look out and gave me a big smile! She was so kind to me. That was when I decided to keep going with the job.”

My dad explained why I had been studying: “She has her school-leaving exams next year.”

“Ah!” He said. “She will get all ‘A’s!”

Now, I can vaguely remember that I was the one who signed for this package. I can’t remember what that man looked like. I can’t remember why I was smiling—there could have been a reason, but I smile by default when I answer the door. Who doesn’t?

I just can’t believe something I don’t even recall had such an impact on another person.

I’m not writing this to preach, or to show off—thought it was an amazing feeling—but to remind you all that happiness really can be infectious.

So even if you’re not in the best mood, you should fool everyone and smile. Who knows? You might even fool yourself.


I doubt I’ll get all A’s in the exams, but hey… it’s a nice thought! 







Monday, 3 February 2014

100th Post... Looking Forward; Looking Back


I’m in the middle of another post on happiness, but I thought to celebrate my 100th blog post EVER I would share some of my more popular pieces from the past… almost-year!

 

 
 
Bread and Butter Pudding Recipe (my first real post that went down a treat!)
 
 
 
  

Now, on to the details for the writing competition!

 

It’s really quite straightforward. Entries do not have a particular word limit, but have to be the size of a reasonable blog post. I won’t be accepting three lines, or eighteen pages, but I won’t be too fussy about it either!

 

Your entry must be entitled: “2013: Unlucky for Me?”

It must include an evaluation of some kind, looking back on 2013. There should be a definite conclusion of whether you thought your year was good or bad overall, what you learned, how you changed…

It does NOT, however, have to be true! I don’t know most of you, so if you want to spin me an interesting piece of fiction then you absolutely may! Just as long as it means something.

This time, there is no age limit, but I do ask that you include your name and age with your entry—even if it’s just a pen name!

Entrants may be from anywhere in the UK or Ireland.

The winning entry will be published here on Unlucky for Some.

The judges will include myself and up to two fellow writers who won’t have any of your personal details.

If you’re the lucky winner, I’ll ask for your address so you can be sent…

A NOVEL as your prize! I’m going to set about choosing one very soon.

The closing date for this competition is 15th April 2014.

 

So, in short, just send your essay/blog post/ short story entitled “2013: Unlucky for Me?” to catherineann.mk@gmail.com along with your name and age, before 15th April 2014. I appreciate all styles of writing, and lashings of creativity—but please, nothing offensive. The aim is to be published on a blog aimed at teenagers but open to all age groups, from anywhere in the world. So if you’re thinking of sending the next “Fifty Shades…” or 2”Why I hate such and such a religion”, you’ve got the wrong competition.

Best of luck to all!

Happy writing,

Catherine Ann Minnock

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Greetings from my FIERY PIT OF RAGE

Well.

I just don't know what to tell you.

This week, something happened to the hard-drive of my laptop. I'm not entirely sure what--though several people explained it to me--so I will instead use the colloquial term:

It's "bollix-ed".

What does that mean? It means my laptop got to enjoy a spa weekend with my family's computer guy (yes, we have a guy for everything) and has come back spruced up and relaxed with new Windows 8... which despite enjoying on my phone, I keep getting lost in on the laptop! I spent the last five minutes stuck in "settings" with no way out because apparently that little "x" in the top left corner of the screen is too mainstream. Obvious buttons have no place in the hipster live-tile Windows 8. Anyway, I'm sure I'll get used to it in no time. First task: find out how to change the theme to "pink". Because that just makes everything better.

Unfortunately, while the laptop has survived, my files have not. That's all my school notes for the leaving cert in all seven subjects, essays, you name it. I had some but not all of this printed. I've lost my voice-recordings of the Sraith Pictiuiri.... not that they were ever gonna make it to number one on the airplay charts, but they were helpful to me.

Also gone are all my pictures of amazing days with Bambi, Crow, Phoenix and Wolf, as well as tons of other friends (Well, OK, a few other friends...) and my family.

But worst of all?

Worst of all is the huge chunk of writing I've lost. As well as blogging, I write a lot of fiction. None of it makes up a finished novel, or even novella. None of it was of publishing quality.

But it was mine. They were my stories, my characters, my scenes, my funny little jokes that I laughed at after I'd written them... and now everything, save from my scraps of paper in a box labelled "writing", my notebooks and the memory stick last updated in 2012... everything has gone.
On top of that, the five posts I had ready to go here at Unlucky For Some.

I did what any reasonable, intelligent young woman would do.

I cried.

I threw some things.

I tore some paper into tiny pieces.

I told everyone to LEEEEEAVE ME ALOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE!!!

And then I decided not to think of this as an ending, but as a beginning.

If you want to find out more, I'm going to write a guest post on www.dearsaul.wordpress.com about it very soon!

In the meantime, if anyone asks me "Why didn't you just back up all your files?" I will be a TAD unhappy.

With lots of love from my fiery pit of rage,

Catherine Ann x