The final year files: November

The final year files: November

Hi again!

Welcome back to the bitter cold of late November night in final year. I’m going to land you straight in here during “study week” after surviving the brutal battles of week 12. Last week involved handing in two final essays worth 60-70% of modules so, good thing you didn’t see me last week is all I’ll say. But we got there in the end and honestly, for once, I’m happy with how it went down.

Meanwhile exams are just around the corner, and if by the corner I mean the weekend, then quite literally. It’s hard to believe that the first semester is complete and my friends and I have nearly come out the other side intact, amazing right? Well, we’ll just complete the final hurdle now – but frankly it’s 4 hurdles as there’s four exams. But I can tell you I’ll be the happiest wanna-be jockey or athlete if I jump these last few without any falls.

What I came to realise this month, regarding college life and the big-bad-world, is that really, you’re at it alone. But not at all in a bad way. The thing is, nobody is going to stand up directly for your own beliefs and passions bar you. This is not necessarily the case all the time, of course we have our few trustees on it, but there are times when you’re left to face challenges by yourself, with your game face on. So you need to be ready and willing to go that extra mile for what you believe in and value.

It’s all about strength in not allowing the pressure from others penetrate your mind too much. Everyone’s got their stuff, a given – but don’t let yourself be a dumping ground for others. Not a pleasant time or something that represents your worth. Be a safe haven instead, where others come to you to share, to overcome or solve problems, not make the situation worse. Working together for a solution and having a few giggles along the way.

I’ve come to see that this year is a different one, for many and maybe for me, there will be no more college after this. We aren’t in the middle of it, even though it might sometimes feel that way: no. In the coming months we will all go our separate ways, and like a sieve, only the important friendship and information grains we’ll keep.

Sure, this is a scary thought but it’s also a motivator. Like all or most, I want to do well in my exams. But, I know it’ll be nobody elses’ fault if I don’t. I think that’s the essence of adult life (I say now as a 22 year old of last Sunday). That song about doing it “My way” is really all that it comes down to. I’ve seen my friends (who aren’t my elders I might add) take on the big smoke in the last months and start new jobs in large firms. I’m proud of them, they’ve grabbed the big guns and are holding on but I know their leap of faith can’t have been easy.

Following this, some hard-hitting home truths appeared to me over the past month to do with friends, family and health scares. These showed me again how life is truly unpredictable. We really just don’t know how it’s going to go. Now, you can either live in fear of the unknown or embrace this fact and try to move with the flows of life in this way.. you let me know which aspect you enjoy more.

While I write this sniffling away in getting over my annual study week cold, I realise I don’t have it too bad. I need to stop building up problems and making my collection of rubbish for the dumping ground a large one. From now on, I’m not going to sweat the small stuff and be more accepting towards the little not-ideal situations that life throws. While always reminding myself that I’ve a decent family around me, friends to call on and treasure and a boyfriend who’s cute as can be (I mean just look at the picture for this blog, oh my!). 

So going into the final month of 2017, I wish for little change in order for me to accept how things are, and live in the now. Oh yeah and do well in the exams, while we’re wishing for things.

All images are taken from my personal instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

Advertisements

21 blog posts series sixteen

21 blog posts series sixteen

Sixteen: “Finding common ground within family”

They say you can’t choose your family, like this is a bad thing. But it’s not necessarily, because you can choose to accept your family members for the individuals that they are and appreciate the role they play and have played in your life up to now. We all know families are complex, family secrets and irregularities are fairly common place when you think about it. But when you begin to appreciate your family, you can then go about coming to terms with your roots and be proud of the differences within family more than anything else.

Change occurs in the lives of those in your family and I think the best thing for anyone to do, is to accept this change wholeheartedly. This brings about the realisation that you can’t really pack up and start an entirely new family from scratch. Those connections we are born with and make along the way are still going to hang around. Individual things such as shared memories stick in your mind and honestly, others can always trace you back to where you started from so there’s no point in trying to hide where you came from.

More often than not, a family is a place to call home in terms of them being settled in a place or being surrounded by certain people easily identifiable. They’re never too far away and it’s important to remember and appreciate that fact. There’s a connection there that is unique and it comes in the form of knowing that something special that you share with your relatives. Whether this be parents or grandparents, these people know better than your friends what those people mean or meant to you and the relationship you once shared.

One thing of importance to note about family is that absolutely guaranteed, they’ll know you better than you can possibly imagine. They’ve watched and seen you at every stage, every phase and you really can’t hide too many things from them. I can also say that for the most part they’ll have your back and defend you to the bitter end. What we need to realise that a family isn’t complete without its people to make up the pieces, and play their individual role. We can have a laugh and reminisce on the similarities in the family, how we might do things alike or even follow the same interests – this is really important. But the differences are essential too. Outcasts shouldn’t exist in families.

Disagreements, arguments and fall outs can happen within families and really that tarnishes things if they aren’t handled in the best way. What I’ve learned is that losing an argument is not a hard price to pay in order to keep the peace. There’s a little bit of self control involved in this is knowing your relative well enough to know where and when that point is, that point of no return, to be aware of it and not to go on further. I would say voice your concerns if you disagree with someone’s actions but remember: you will still have to look this person in the face again tomorrow and the next day, so definitely decide beforehand if it’s worth it. A little bit of forgiveness goes a long way in family.

To those reading this who may not identify with any of this, I’d recommend reaching out – no matter how difficult it may seem. Rekindling a family relationship is probably something tougher than that of a friendship. But, if a small bit of forgiveness is what it takes to reconnect with someone you’ve lost who you once cared for, that’s not such a big thing. You can still remain headstrong, knowing you were right deep down but for the sake of peace, keeping it to yourself when you need to.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

21 blog posts take ten

21 blog posts take ten

Ten: “Learning from mentors, appreciating wisdom”

I’m learning to drive at the moment and I now see exactly what all the fuss is about. You hear about the trying times and the challenges it brings along and I get that totally. You’re placed in control of a machine that has potential to be very powerful and it’s not something you should take on lightly. But I will say, when you’re learning to drive to make sure that you’re surrounded by those you trust when you’re in the car. Be this the instructor, family members or friends. These people are forms of mentors and rightly demand the respect that experience brings in these situations.

Sometimes it’s better to shut your own inexperienced mouth and listen to what the other person has to say, but I will say don’t be a robot. It’s about striking the balance of self trust between taking on the instructions of others. Appreciate the fact that skills take time to learn and practise is very much key, a little reward or two is fine as well during this time. So the point being that I would see my driving instructor as something of a mentor to me, but I’ve come to realise that mentors and wisdom can come from many sources, not just your elders or those with a certain skill set.

Everyone can possess wisdom and I feel it’s something very disrespectful to doubt the thoughts and ideas of a person just because they’re younger than you. Sure, young people are trying to find their feet and place in an ever changing world but really, it’s not your job to make that task even harder by placing doubt in their abilities. I think wisdom comes from understanding, and each and everyone’s youth is something that was involved in that process.

Alongside appreciating the worth of youth, is respecting the place of the wisdom age brings with it. With this I would say, place value on the time you spend with older people. The stories they can have of their past lives and challenges they faced can be something truly fascinating. No matter how highly or lowly educated these people are, they’ll possess knowledge of things that you really wouldn’t think.

It just takes a little bit of time to dig this information out. But once you dedicate yourself to doing just that, it can really be something eye opening. The most important thing when it comes to this is how indeed you can apply this wisdom into your own life. The past generations had some good ideas and qualities and of course I know that times have and are changing, but it doesn’t mean that this way of life be completely lost.

For the most part anyway, we all love our grandparents and we cherish the fact that we are lucky to have them around. Show that you respect that fact and give your free time to sit down and lend them an ear. It doesn’t have to all be stories from way back when, you can throw in some of your own as well. The best way to start a dialogue is to simply freely open it. This can be something truly rewarding.

I attended a family reunion last month which had over 160 attendees of relatives from near and far. Looking around the room at happy faces it could be seen how although everyone lives separate lives, there was a respect and honestly about the room as everyone wanted to listen to one another and just simply share a joke or an old story.

This is something we should place value on. These stories get passed down through generations for a reason and I think we all have a part to play in keeping this alive.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

21 blog posts series six

21 blog posts series six

Six: “Loss happens and plays a role”

As I’ve gotten older and I suppose in some sense matured, I’ve started appreciate the role that the happening of loss plays in our lives. Life is a fragile thing, even when it doesn’t feel that way all of the time. I’ve experienced loss in my life, I only know of a few people who are yet to experience it. Circumstances play a part in terms of where to place blame on the sadness and even anger that you feel from loss. But sometimes the circumstance isn’t great and the loss simply shouldn’t have happened.

I think loss rattles us and brings up feelings you never even knew you had in you. This year and late last year I saw two dear friends experience loss and both had completely different situations that brought about the loss. But it was interesting then in contrast to see how both of my friends  has similar experiences in terms of how to possibly deal with the emotions of loss.

I write this on Mother’s Day, thinking of those I love who don’t have their mother to spend this day with. It’s something incredibly hard because that person who was once in your life is truly irreplaceable. No matter the individual strength of the relationship between mother and child, it is something that holds importance and is special in its own way.

When it comes to loss, I would firstly say that it’s something that happens and is something we must accept as part of life without a choice in the matter. I know that’s crappy and doesn’t really have a lot of positives but maybe, there’s something good to take from that about appreciating the time you have with a loved one. When somebody dies we are left with memories to cherish and hold dear, which of course we all do in our own way.

But for those left behind, death acts as a reminded of the frailty we are faced with. It gives the renewed chance to try our best to appreciate the time we spend each day, month or every once and a while with the ones we love and maybe even make more of an effort to appreciate that the power is in our hands to make the time for people that deserve it, be they family or friends.

Always place value on those around you that we may be sometimes guilty of taking for granted. It’s really about recognising that fact that you’ll truly miss these people when they’re gone and vice versa. Make the most of your time with them and create the memories yourself as I think we all have a role to play.

A slam poet I know recently realised a video for his spoken word poem that deals with appreciating our mothers and the role they play in our lives, demanding our love and respect for simply being themselves. The Irish Times did a feature on it too and I think it’s something spectacular, having seen him perform it himself. Follow the link here: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/watch-mother-s-day-video-reminds-us-we-are-only-given-one-mother-1.3023336?mode=amp

We have a bit of a habit here in Ireland of not talking about the difficult things and I think death and how the ways that people die come into that. I get that it’s uncomfortable and we create these nicknames and things as escapism from reality. But, from what I’ve seen and experienced of it – dying by suicide is the worse than death as a result of any disease. It leaves behind a heavier grief, an impossible one. So please, if you’re having any form of suicidal thoughts be they big or small, seek the help that you deserve and should get. Your life is as valuable as anybody else’s.

http://www.yourmentalhealth.ie/about-mental-health/common-problems/mental-health-problems/suicidal-thoughts/

http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/different-ways-you-can-get-touch/what-happens-when-i-email

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

Packs

By Cathy Lee

The house of cards is falling
The contents are calling 
Reaching out to be saved

But they are being left to face alone
The fall down of a home.
Ripping the numbers, all small things and signs within to something meaningless.

What’s the power of red without black to contrast it to?

Nothing but a pack of cards
The house is nothing but a gamble
Crumbling,
The hearts and diamonds, all flowing into just red.

Dig me with the spade, I might as well be dead
The weight is too much, to hold.

The diamonds aren’t precious anymore
The hearts are broken
Spades with no purpose and clubs abandoned left to wreck.

So we fold,
The house of cards is falling. 

Yeats Exhibition Review (2013)

yeats1

On the 29th October 2013, some enthusiastic sixth year English students, with a keen interest in poetry and culture, made the trip to The National Library of Dublin.

Here at the library located on Kildare Street next to Dáil Eireann, the students visited the fantastic exhibition of the life and works of the poet and playwright William Butler Yeats.

The award winning exhibition was first opened to the public in 2006, with the intent of being open for a single year only. Nine years on, the excellent exhibition is still as popular as ever with visitors of Irish nationality and for foreign tourists.

We were welcomed into the exhibition by our friendly and helpful tour guide, organised to assist us throughout. On first step into the exhibition room, we saw the poetic works of Yeats brought to life visually, as the poems were read aloud to changing images which one could sit and enjoy.

The exhibition was organised in a way that captured the changing times within Yeats’ life.

First we saw protected heirlooms from Yeats’ childhood, including a school report and pictures of his childhood home and surrounding area, which he later captures and refers to in his escapist era of poetry. This was followed by a glimpse into his teenage years, where we see him explore some more complex issues in attempt to gain understanding about the world around him and indeed himself.

The next section of the exhibition focused on the women within Yeats’ life and the role they played in his works as a playwright and poet. This particular room had framed photographs of different mistresses and love interests of Yeats, from Countess Markievicz and Maud Gonne to his own wife, Georgiana Hyde-Lees. This was interesting to see the total amount of women and how crucial their involvement with Yeats was in such ways to which they influenced his writings.

Following this we saw Yeats’ special connection to the older Lady Gregory, who Yeats was very close to in having similar interests with artistic and cultural projects, the major one being the setting up of The Abbey Theatre.

In glass cases were original letters Yeats and Gregory wrote to each other and it was clear to see the exceptional bond they held. Yeats in middle age explored different cults and religions. The exhibition portrayed this graphically with detailed robes and symbols from different cults and religions Yeats became fixated on. It was interesting to see how this influenced his works, bringing forth new ideas of self expression in a slightly romanticised fashion.

From the exhibition it was clear to see how Yeats was heavily involved and interested in politics. From his poems ‘Easter 1916’ and ‘September 1913’ Yeats comes forth holding  his own stance as a well established poet in society at the time, as he notes his reactions and views to these national social and political events which he lived through.

In later life he furthered his political input becoming a member of the Seanad. His objective as a Seanad member was to be a representative for the area of arts and literature, although he often ignored this and got involved in heated controversial debates on topics such as divorce. Within his final years of life he was still a persistent poet and won the Nobel Prize for Literature. At the exhibition, the top hat which he wore when receiving the award was on display and also a replica of the award itself.

In the final back room within the exhibition there was a place to sit to watch a film playing of literary and public figures speaking about Yeats, the late poet Seamus Heaney featured speaking here which was great to see their own appreciation of Yeats.  The exhibition had an excellent mixture of factual information, social history, politics, romance and religion which gave a detailed look into these aspects of Yeats’ life and works.

All artefacts present were donated by Yeats’ family, and it was really a capsule of dedication to the great poet and playwright he was and so much more. The mixture of multimedia modern technologies alongside original manuscripts was great to see, as the original works of Yeats were brought into focus to modern access.

To take the virtual tour online visit www.nli.ie/yeats .

The Yeats exhibition is just one of many free attractions to visit in Dublin. For those who wish to discover more about the attractions within our cultural capital city, log on to http://www.dublin.ie or www.visitdublin.com .

A Message Amidst Madness Series: The Final Message.

By Cathy Lee

Everything is finite isn’t it? I mean infinity can’t even be defined.

The duration of your favourite film is set. There could be a sequel, but that has to end as well doesn’t it?

Just like this ‘A Message Amidst Madness’ Series, it has to end sometime.

I realise my last few posts have been rather political, but I can guarantee that this won’t be.

It won’t be political because politics doesn’t matter for what I’m going to talk about.

Last week, suddenly, my gran-aunt died for about fifteen minutes, casually, on Friday morning.

Weird right? She literally was at deaths door, said “no thank you” and made her return on back.

It got me to thinking and kind of put things into perspective a little bit.

I had come home to vote on Friday (I’m sorry I said I wouldn’t mention politics – woops!) and my mother picked me up off the train.

We drove for a little bit and caught up on various things. About twenty minutes in she announced that we had to go eat lunch.

I told her I wasn’t overly hungry, just wanted to go vote and get working on a few assignments due – as I knew that’s how my weekend looked like it would consist of anyway.

There was no protesting, we were going to get lunch.

At the table after just starting to eat my mother told me that we wouldn’t be going home and we’d have to go check in on my gran-aunt.

She then explained the reasoning and what her morning had consisted of.

Ambulances had been called and my extended family members had gathered in the home of my gran-aunt after her housekeeper had noticed her fall particularly ill.

“White as a ghost she was, cold, gone I tell ya” – I was told later on when we arrived to the house.

Now, after a near-death experience everyone is usually you know, shook up or panicked.

But not Theresa.  I swear she got a new lease for life.

When I arrived to the house, some relatives and friends were still lurking around.

They all chattered together, expecting her to take another turn.

I took a seat beside her bed when I arrived. We call to her regularly and it’s usually the same questions or trivia discussed.

Today was different though.

She complimented my ripped jeans and asked me what nightclub we’d go to that night.

I quickly informed her that Saturday nights were better for the night-life and dancing.

We laughed and she asked if she could borrow some of my clothes as a hand-me-down saying she missed being in fashion.

I told her no problem, that I would have loved to have had the opportunity to go to the dances with her. I knew this from stories of herself and my grandmother doing a few jigs up at the community hall in their time.

She said of the morning’s proceedings that she remembers being given some cornflakes and it was a regular morning. Then waking up to ambulance men and relatives in her room.

Her first thought was that there wouldn’t be enough cornflakes for everyone and that she hadn’t realised she was throwing a party.

For some reason I’ve always thought that the young and the old get on better than adults and children or adults and the elderly.

It’s simply because neither group take life too seriously.

I mean myself and Theresa could just laugh about going out on the town while the adults conducting their actions in panic over where Mrs. Keane was going next.

Theresa is 87, she knows what happens to people at that stage of life. It has happened for many friends, relatives and neighbours she knew.

I really think she’s okay with it. When we left her home, she got up out of bed and walked me to the door and waved as we drove away.

My mother couldn’t understand why I was smiling.

That weekend I worked at my essays, but I also took the time to see my dear friends. We had dinner at my best friend’s house and she even basked dessert for us.

I told the friend group of this story, we talked about the elections and we planned for the future of the fun things we’d do together.

I know we won’t have the future forever and may not even have each other either.

But I realised the truth that day, and that is my final message for you:

“Don’t take life too seriously, nobody gets out alive anyway”.

That saying used to freak me to my very core. But seeing Theresa face death and come back with a laugh, I’m inspired.

 

And so this is the end of the series. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.