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Bruises

Purple punches on the skin like berries perched upon a branch.

A sample so sweet, a flavour so bitter, an aftertaste like a broken heart.

Brownish blue scratches turn to stitches sown in patterns to the quilt.

The mirror has no time for excuses nor for the regret or the guilt.

 

Then there are the layers beneath, the shield before the heart and soul.

They will heal you from within like a guiding hand on a broken throne.

Although the pain will still be felt the bruises they will fade.

You’ll pick the berries from the branch and savour the strength in each taste.

 

Roots

You only see the surface, not the roots that grow inside.

The mask that covers the cracks and the secrets we like to hide.

But roots are the reckoning force to which we all cling.

We cannot become who we want to be without first looking within.

They ground us in so many ways both physical and not,

but roots too can weep, deteriorate and rot.

Ripped up by some trauma, they dangle amid the air.

Unfamiliar territory, unscathed, unprepared.

But watch ever so carefully and watch them over time.

They won’t do it boastfully, they’ll trick even the sharpest eye.

Gradually those roots of yours will morph back to the ground.

A little different to before but with new strength once unfound.

Some day you’ll show the surface and the roots alike.

They’ll become the driving force, your ambition and your pride.

 

Gutter rain

I was in town earlier today doing a few bits and pieces. The usual errands that can only get done on the weekends. I came out of an internet café after printing some work to find it raining pretty heavily. I threw my scarf over my head and made a dash for my next stop. About 5 seconds into that dash I abandoned the idea and found the nearest porch I could stand under until it calmed. I stood there for about five minutes lost in my own world and my own worries. I faced the opposite direction that I had been looking and spotted a homeless man sitting in a doorway. The rain was beating down on top of him and he sat their motionless. In that moment my heart went out to him. Sometimes a look, expression or glance can describe a pain that no amount or arrangement of words will ever do justice to. The pain was visible all over his face. For a few moments I just stood in my shelter still waiting for the rain to ease. I quickly grew impatient but could not bring myself to pass this man. I gave him the few euros I had in my purse and offered to get him some tea or coffee. He was almost afraid to look me in the eye. As I stood there for a moment the rain began to spill out over the gutter and landed straight onto the side of his face. It was awful and perhaps I am just more aware of the homeless issue now seeing as it is in the media so much more and because I work in the sector but it puts things in perspective.

 

 

Snowflake

Glistens in the morning sun against a smoky, dewy mist.

Double take at the beauty, an apparent, soft and gentle kiss.

Hidden on the leaves and branches it shines upon the darkest browns,

But don’t be fooled by her attraction, she’ll seduce and smile with silver charms.

Glimmers that wink to entice you, drawing you to that one touch

and that is when her edges trick you with just one look, one glance, one cut.

Butter wouldn’t melt they say, oh how butter wouldn’t melt.

An illusion to the senses but one that all insist is felt.

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Image – Bing Images

Are you afraid of the Dark? Amsterdam

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This past weekend saw me return to the lovely city of Amsterdam. Known for many things from arts and culture it also has shall we say colourful social life. Whenever I visit a city personally I’m drawn to the architecture of the buildings, the colours and the similarities and differences that exist between home and the location. Amsterdam is no different and I very much enjoyed the trip. It had a few highlights including a fantastic fireworks display on New Years Eve but one particular thing we did while there was dine in the dark. It was definitely an experience to remember.

I had heard of this concept before. The idea is it is like any other restaurant that you go to except for one major difference. You dine completely in the dark. As we arrived we all knew in theory what we would be doing but in the moments before we went into the dining room there was certainly an air of unease of what this would be like. A member of staff sat us in a waiting area and explained that shortly our table would be ready so we waited nervously. We were given a locker for our bags and phones and left our coats in a cloak room by the entrance. Soon after a member of the waiting staff (who are all visually impaired) instructed us to follow him, imagine a conga line through a curtain into complete darkness and I mean complete darkness. I don’t think any of us were quite prepared for just how dark it would be. I was second in the line to be seated and as I was guided by the waiter I was a bit overwhelmed. Eventually all six of us were seated and tried to get our bearings. Other diners were chatting but again you could not see your hand in front of you let alone the other guests.

At first I was quite panicked and unsettled. If I’m ever in a situation where I can’t see because of darkness I tend to close my eyes. I feel more comfortable that way but having your eyes wide open and having no idea what is in front, behind, next to or across from you is quite daunting and it certainly took some adjusting to. The waiter had asked us if we had any allergies or are vegetarian etc. as the second difference with this restaurant is that you have no choice on the menu. You only find out afterwards what you have eaten. There were five courses in total including an appetiser, a starter, a main course, and two desserts, one small and one large. As your sight is now just a sea of black you have to rely on your other senses to get by so touching the table to find your cutlery and glasses and also pouring the jug of water. Your smell and taste to figure out what you are eating and sound to gauge who at the table was speaking. Even though I couldn’t see any of the others at our table it was interesting that once you did figure out where everyone was sitting if they spoke you do turn towards them and nod along as if you can see them.

The food itself was delicious although eighty percent of the time I didn’t know exactly what I was eating and cutting the meat was definitely a tricky challenge. As we finished each course we tried to identify the different flavours and textures on the plate and while we did get some ingredients correct we were far off from guessing the whole menu.

The entire meal lasted about two hours so it’s a significant amount of time from start to finish. When the meal ended the waiter again guided us out of the room and instructed us to look down at the floor for a few moments when we returned to the lit room. It was a strange sensation coming back out and it did take a minute or two to readjust and get my balance. I certainly left with a renewed appreciation for my eyesight and it certainly was an eye opening experience (no pun intended). For me personally it gave a stark reality check into what it must feel like to be visually impaired. I would recommend people to try it if the opportunity presents itself. At the moment I don’t think there is a restaurant in Ireland that does it but there are many internationally so if abroad and you come across it give it a try. You’ll appreciate your senses a lot more afterwards!

 

Crocodile

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Learn to be still, to watch, to observe,

Seamlessly lay beneath the surface,

Breath, always breath, but do so in a way that no one will notice.

Learn to be quiet but never unheard,

Motionless movements until the last moment.

Master your skill of pretence and patience,

Then strike when you’re ready with subtle confidence.

Learn to be gracious in success and defeat,

your prey will challenge you even if they feel meek.

Learn to accept, to evolve, to transcend,

to move with purpose, poise and strength.

The once murky water will soon become clear,

and you’ll be still, observe and watch without fear.

 

 

Photo – Bing Images

 

Senses

A look in the wrong direction,

A glance that would mark the start.

A stare that is still remembered,

In a blink that could break the heart.

A bond that could never be broken,

A connection to be felt.

A twist of fate that fooled you,

A rapport that once made you melt.

A whisper of words of comfort,

An utter of pain as well.

A declaration of I love you,

but for how long is left unsaid.

A bank of memories to reflect on,

A dozen good and a matching dozen bad.

A vault that is seldom opened,

A safe with no known combination,

Until someone else breaks the code.

 

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Picture – Bing Images

Fear

Fear.. a small four letter word that takes up so much space in our minds and lives.  Anything that threatens or challenges our survival results in fear in one way or another. Something we haven’t done before, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, of pain, of loss, of not being good enough or not being accepted, fear of illness, not being financially secure, fear of being alone or left behind. The list is endless. Stepping outside of our comfort zone induces fear more often than not but what comes from that fear on the other side is significant growth. Acknowledgment from ourselves that we can be good enough, that we can and will survive and that although we may be unsure and at times unsteady the worst thing we can do is allow fear to prevent us from growing.

Some of the best decisions I have made so far in life have scared the absolute you know what out of me. They have often been the result of an impulse (but not always) and the lessons I’ve learned from them have come from experiences that I would never change although they were difficult at the time. My first semester in UL I knew nobody. I remember waking up one morning and getting ready to go to college but before leaving I sat on my bed and wondered what the hell was I doing there when all my friends and everything and everyone I was familiar with was in Cork. I doubted if I had done the right thing. I had UCC down as my first choice up until the last minute and changed my CAO to have UL as the top slot based solely on a gut instinct that the course choice would suit me better. UL went onto be one of the best experiences of my life. I met some wonderful people there and some not so wonderful. It opened me up to so many experiences I don’t think I would have had now had I stayed in Cork. I met some really significant people who have taught me a lot.

Another decision drowned in fear was my decision to move to Thailand. When I look back now I know clearly why I made the decision but at the time I was blinded by naivety and the attitude of why not. My flight was from Cork to Bangkok via Amsterdam in April 2012. I was terrified. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling of watching my brother and mom walk out of the departure lounge at 4 in the morning. I spent 6 months of what should have been a 10 month stay there. An absolutely crazy experience is the only way I can sum up that time. Culture shock on so many levels I won’t even begin to try and explain. Lost and found friendships. Extreme highs and extreme lows but again an experience I would never change, not even the bad bits. I came home a broken woman from that one but I’m grateful for every single aspect of it.

Even going to Geneva by myself earlier this year startled me a little. I have done far more risky things and gone much further afield than Switzerland but because I hadn’t travelled alone in a few years I was definitely apprehensive. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it reminded me that sometimes having that little bit of fear is worth it.

Fears I have now are everything from rollercoasters and spiders to loss and loneliness. The latter two make me vulnerable and being vulnerable is scary but regardless I try and overcome those fears with patience. I know that from other past experiences that I was fearful of that something good will come from it, perhaps not all of it will be good but even from those parts there will be another opportunity to learn. So goes the saying of feel the fear and do it anyway.

I trust even my impulses now. I know that I will take something from the experience regardless. Fear or no fear.

 

Image – Bing ImagesthP82QQUAO

Resilience

When we reach a certain point,

we think that’s all there is.

We’ll  be happy when we get there,

when we cross that final bridge.

It seems that we forget,

to see the most important parts.

The time, the effort, the hardship,

the journey from the start.

So when you reach your next milestone,

look back at what you’ve achieved.

You thought that it would break you,

but YOU brought it to it’s knees.

Resilience is a skill we need to practice and to mould

and once you do you’ll learn to handle whatever does unfold.

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Image – Yahoo images

Copenhagen – A Beast of a City

This time last week myself and two good friends, Íde and Mairéad, were basking in sunshine in a place called Paper town in the heart of the Danish capital, Copenhagen. It resembled an atmosphere similar to the Port of Cork with an industrial type surrounding yet it’s one of the most popular places for Danish to grab a beer and food. There’s an impressive food market inside with everything from Korean and Thai food to Western and obviously Danish food to choose from. It was an afternoon well spent but let me go back to the beginning before I get side tracked again.

Many people asked us, why Copenhagen? It’s not a place you hear too many people going to. The decision to go to Copenhagen stemmed from the girls having thought about going there a few months back but instead opting for Prague coupled with my travel philosophy of why not go there.. so the decision was made and flights were booked in April. Our journey began at 6 am last Thursday morning. We flew from Dublin so left Cork with plenty of time. The two hour flight was a relatively pleasant one and when we landed our first impressions of the city were very positive. We hopped on a 15 minute train from the airport to the heart of Copenhagen and with Mairéad leading the way we reached our hotel which was in a fantastic location.  The room itself was small for three people but comfortable, clean and with complimentary snacks! The staff in the hotel were also extremely helpful and friendly as was almost every Danish person we encountered.

The first evening was low key, tired from traveling, we ate dinner in the hotel restaurant and went for a stroll through the city. The wide open streets and the cleanliness were two things which struck me. There’s a vibrancy to the city yet with a chilled atmosphere. We were already hooked.

19399130_10213749975732559_8534638507980276365_nFriday morning we ventured out for breakfast followed by a boat trip in Nyhavn. In hindsight, this was a fantastic way to begin exploring as it gave us an idea of the layout of the city and later helped us navigate our way through the streets and various sights. The thing I loved most about Nyhavn was the array of brightly coloured buildings which are lined down the strip of land next to the water. It’s so striking. An unusual wall in the area also caught our eye. This wall had large gaps where it looked as if windows had been removed. In place of the windows were hundreds upon hundreds of bright orange life jackets. Not only was it beautiful to look at but it was one of the many examples of how people in Copenhagen use their buildings in such a diverse way. The balance between contemporary and traditional is definitely something which adds to the charm of the city.

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After our boat trip we headed for Rosenberg castle. Only a short walk away, this castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and although a quick visit for us, it was certainly worth seeing. Onward then to the incredible Tivoli Gardens, a quirky almost antique like amusement park right in the hub of Copenhagen. You could be casually walking down the street only to see giant roller coasters and swings tossing people into the air. Now, for those of you who know me well and know how much I like my feet to be firmly on the ground this was still an incredibly enjoyable experience. The surroundings are nothing short of magnificent. It’s like Alice and Wonderland meets the orient. Lane ways reminiscent of scenes from Harry Potter, food stalls, restaurants, music, rides for young and old and a fantastic stage where concerts are held. I did conquer my fear somewhat by going on one small roller coaster which was deceptively scarier than it looked but Íde and Mairéad went on almost everything. I was very impressed with their nerves of steel or at least their ability to remain calm… but that might have been Íde a little more than Mairéad 🙂

Exhausted from it all we headed back to the hotel that night and got a decent night’s rest. Day two had plenty more adventures waiting for us.

Like many European cities Copenhagen is no stranger to bicycles. There are hundreds of them and seeing as our hotel had them for rent we decided that Saturday we would make like the locals and hop on some bikes. Now bare in mind I haven’t been on a bike in about 14 years let alone in a busy city where people casually cycle on motorways alongside cars, buses, mopeds you name it. First off, I could have done with being slightly taller. My toes just about reached the ground and I was slightly thrown off by the fact that the brake was only on the left hand side. Mairéad again led the way and although we had to take a few pit stops to regroup every now and then we eventually got the hang of the rules of cycling in Copenhagen. There were a few false starts and a little beeping from both cars and bicycles alike but it all added to the hilarity. We ventured to Old Town, eventually managed to lock our bikes and headed to the top of a church which had an amazing view of the city. By the time we had climbed to the top the wind had picked up considerably but nonetheless it was a beautiful view. Afterwards we sat in the grounds as a wedding took place. We admired the laid back, effortless style of both the men and the women. They have the balance between smart and casual down to a fine art and the bride strolled in as if she were heading to the supermarket. The ease of it all was refreshing. From here we walked down the road to Christiana, an area in Copenhagen where things are a little more relaxed shall we say. As we wandered in the direction Íde was approached by a man offering to take a picture but what we soon realised was that he actually wanted my ipad. When Íde politely said no thanks to the offer for the picture his reaction was less than positive. Thankfully, he continued on his way and nothing further came from it. Cue the food market I mentioned at the beginning which was packed with people but easily one of the highlights of the trip.

With only one full day left in Copenhagen we still had plenty of things to see. One of the main things I wanted to do was visit the grounds of Bisbejerg cemetery which was about 20 minutes outside the city centre. I know a cemetery is not something you would normally do as a tourist but those grounds are the home to 2 rows of beautiful blossom trees. It doesn’t sound like much but they really are amazing when in bloom. It took us a while to find them and my heart sank when two Danish people told me I had just missed the right season to see them. It turns out the blossoms only last for a number of weeks but it wasn’t a total disappointment though, we embraced our inner fairy and found a replacement in willow instead of blossoms. Next on the list was a skate park called Superkilen, this was an interesting excursion to say the least. Outside of the fact that we stood out like sore thumbs it allowed us to see a different side of the city. It wasn’t quite what we expected but it was interesting to see a more raw, urban side of the city.

One of the most popular attractions in Copenhagen is The Little Mermaid connected to Hans Christian Anderson. Despite her fame she was the last on our list and to say she nearly finished us off after what was an eventful day was an understatement. Tucked away on the very tip of the city the symbol of Copenhagen didn’t disappoint. Still busy with tourists she sat perched on her rock despite having been through her fair share of travel and distress in recent times. She felt our pain. We bonded. Tired and with the reality that our time in Denmark was ending we headed back to the hotel before heading out for one last dinner.

Our time in Copenhagen was definitely one of the best trips I have had in a while and I think I speak for all of us when I say I would go back in a heart beat. There was so much to do and plenty more we wanted to do too. The variety of shops was great also with a good mix of Danish brands and familiar labels from home. The people exceeded our expectations. The cafés and brunch options were perfect to set us up for our jam packed days and the weather was mainly good. I had been warned that Copenhagen was an expensive city and it wasn’t cheap by any means but no where near as bad as I was expecting or no more than any other capital city. All three of us have come home with fresh eyes, fond memories and all I can say is thank you Copenhagen, you beast…