The Coping With Life Book


I am a terrible impulse buyer. But when I saw you sitting there, with thick pages and a hardback cover, I knew I had to have you. I am of course speaking of my sketchbook that means more to me than diamonds. (If I had any diamonds of course) It may not have cost much and I’ll definitely run out of pages at the rate I’m flying through them, but this little thing makes a difference. I’ve dubbed it the “Coping With Life” book.

Rather than bake cookies at 2am and maybe, probably, definitely burn fingers in the process, I’ve delved into the therapeutic realm of art as a method of de-stressing. Too many deadlines? Consult the book. Don’t get paid for another week? Consult the book. Feel betrayed by your cat who walked right past you to his food when your arms were clearly open wide for a hug? Consult the book.

I find myself consulting a sketchbook more than I consult the advice of human beings. Sometimes talking is hard, but sometimes it’s okay to shut the world out for a few hours and spend time with your new best friend Faeber Castell. The “Coping With Life” book used to be the “Wall of Emotion”, but I’ve been running out of wall space for my pictures.

Summer is coming and you may not see your friends for a few months. Maybe you’ll visit each other and of course there’s Skype, Facebook, goofy filters on Snapchat you’ll almost certainly spam them with. But sometimes we get lonely. That’s okay too.

Consulting the sketchbook might be lying on the floor with your dog, or holding wool while your granny knits you a scarf because it won’t be long before that grand old stretch in the evening is gone again. It could be football and bruised ankles with your brother, a drive with your girlfriend who will always remind you to fasten your seatbelt as you pull out of the driveway. It could be anything. But always do something and remember you’re still alive.

I’m betting on you to remember that.



Defending An Arts Degree

I am a university student, a fact about myself that I am rather proud of, and not just any university either. I’m currently studying a joint honors B.A in English and Sociology, in University College Cork. This means that out of my 60 credits per year, I take 30 within the field of English studies, the other 30 within the field of sociological studies. Broadly speaking, I’m doing an arts degree and I am here today to staunchly defend my decision to do an arts degree.


You hear it all the time in secondary school, or I certainly did at least. “You’ll get nowhere with an arts degree! It’s a waste of time”. I remember the arguments with both career guidance teachers in my school throughout my 6 years there, as they tried to convince me to do nursing instead of English. (I would like to take my opportunity now to say “IN YOUR FACE! I got my way..”)

However, I feel (and I have seen in with my own eyes) that people who go into a degree simply for the sake of being employed, rather than because it’s what they’re passionate about, are more likely to end up feeling miserable. I know I would have been absolutely dismal if I had listened and gone into nursing. (Not to mention I’m incredibly squeamish. I would never last!) Getting your degree isn’t easy, I won’t sugar coat that fact. But if you’re studying something you’re not even that interested in, how could you possibly find the motivation for it?

I’m halfway through my second year in UCC, which means I am literally halfway through my degree now. I couldn’t be happier with my education if I tried. I’ve met amazing people, study something that actually has me motivated to get out of bed in the morning. I even make flash cards. I’ve been given opportunities that I don’t think I would have gotten if I did another course. I wouldn’t have had the courage to do things like be part of a campaign team during Student’s Union elections or go on the freaking radio every week (for almost a year might I add!)



Most importantly of all, I’m happy in my degree. I was miserable in school. I hated doing maths, it turns out I really suck at geography (even though the formation of gem stones is kind of cool) English was always my biggest love, with art not that far behind. I fell in love with sociology within my first week of lectures and haven’t turned back once. I’m happy and achieving my dreams. How many people can say that? I work just as hard an an accounting or engineering student and I am damn proud of my arts degree.

So for you school kids thinking of doing arts but being put off by the words of those who don’t like/understand an arts degree; stick that middle finger up and do it anyway. Never let someone’s crappy opinion get in the way of your happiness.


Unapologetically Myself

We live in a world that is quite frankly -and pardon my French- shit. The United States elected a tangerine, tantrum-throwing leech, I believe he’s named Trump? In some places, little girls still can’t go to school and some people can’t get married, or recognized for who they actually are. Right here in my home, a beautiful emerald isle that pleases the eye, I don’t have bodily autonomy. Apparently I wouldn’t know what’s best for an organ only half the population actually have. How dare I have a uterus and thoughts of my own! I don’t mean to loom on the depressing aspects of the world, but my eyes are open and this is what I see.

There are things in the world that are less harrowing; it’s almost time for daffodils to grow, my cat snuggles my thigh every evening, the smell of coffee greets me every morning and Ed Sheeran is making music again. There are people who will greet you on the street with a cheery ‘hiya!’, despite having never seen you before. The world still has goodness in it, though sometimes we may need reminders. I like to tell myself that I’m made of stardust- thank you science. Everything in this world is made of atoms, from the star that exploded when the universe was born. [this is the big bang, for all you physics fans out there]


Sadly, there are times when we may feel the need to apologize for the way we are. I’m telling you now, don’t ever be sorry. I am difficult- I will get cranky, I am temperamental, albeit an angel when you compare me to a previously mentioned president. I only speak through grunts in the morning and I’m a demon if I’m hungry. I cry at hedgehogs I see online and will do all I can to avoid watching a horror movie. (Sorry future boyfriend)

But guess what? This is just who I am and you’ll just have to like it.

There are people out there who feel the need to tear others down, be it for sick fun or to cover their own insecurities. Do not let them win, ever. They will see someday, or so I like to believe, that they were wrong and cruel. They will learn their lesson surely. The best revenge is a smile plastered on your face, even though you may not feel that way. You are strong, you are beautiful. You’re a king/queen/beautiful little nugget and you’ve got this.

I am unapologetically myself and that will never change.





The Recovery – A Study in Deception

Let’s keep the recovery going”

The February mantra, men in expensive suits with even more expensive wages, calling door to door. “Let’s keep the recovery going”. Posters, signs attached to poles, there was no escaping those five words. Luxurious cars, personal chauffeurs. Wine for when the seats were won. Who sat in those seats after the election? Nobody. A government did not exist.

“Let’s keep the recovery going”

Children left waiting with their nightmares, sadness sitting upon both shoulders. ER full to the brim, the sick litter the halls. No beds to spare tonight madam. Tremendous holidays, empty seats. No new legislation, no one to spare a thought or penny. Money taken from the piggy bank that held our emotional stability together. Goodbye to sweet young men who could find no escape.

“Let’s keep the recovery going”

An icy chill that settles, souls left queuing in the street, in hopes of a meal this approaching Christmas Day. Souls sleeping in doorways, abandoned. Forgotten. Buildings seized, empty halls for months, years. Money for water, money for car insurance, money to dispose of your rubbish. Where are my wages? In Dáil Eireann, in pockets lined with gold, bursting at the seams. Why can’t I see mummy this weekend? She sleeps in the streets now darling, the bank took her home away.

But don’t forget; let’s keep the recovery going, say the pigs without their snouts. I didn’t know that animals could be so deceptive, unruly and untruthful. Clearly, I was mistaken.


I’ve been writing for a little over 9 years. It’s second nature to me now. Not writing would be like losing a limb. On my darkest days, it’s been what has allowed me to heal and move forward. Writing is what makes me whole again, a time when I am truly living. But a career in writing isn’t easy to attain. But if you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything you want to.


Sometimes I wonder where this drive and ambition comes from. I’ve never loved anything else as much as I love to write. In school, English was my favourite subject. (I haven’t really changed much in that regard.) Maths boggled my mind and biology grossed me out.  The only time I was happy, was sitting in English class (and art to an extent, but a five hour craft exam tends to ruin that joy). Writing was what got me through six horrendous years of school. I didn’t relate to many of my peers, struggled with bullying and dealt with many teachers finding my decision about my future rather laughable.

I was miserable. But this is where writing came in. Writing was like the sun; it was a bright light, guiding me through troubled times.


Inspired by writers like Anne Frank and Sylvia Plath, I found solace in poetry and short stories. These days I’m known for taking annoyances out on fictional characters. They suffer on my behalf.

Writing makes me happy. I suppose that’s where my ambition comes from. If there’s anything you can take from my rambles, is that there is always something that can act as a candle in the pitch black. For some it is sports, others it is music. For me, it was and still is writing.


Achieving Dreams

I’m into my fifth week of the semester, in my second year of university. I’m studying a joint-honours in English and Sociology and couldn’t be happier with my course. Now, like any other student, I’m stressed and have a million and one things to do, but I wouldn’t wish for it to be any other way. I was scrolling through some of my older posts on Instagram recently. (I am a social-media junkie) I stumbled across an old post from when I was in my last year of school, applying to college.



This was almost three years ago, when I was still 17 years old. To think, aged 20, I would be into my second year of my degree. Studying in University College Cork, was a dream of mine since I was a young child. I was very stubborn in Career Guidance class when I insisted I would study English and still have high achievements. There’s a stigma against the arts, that you won’t achieve much if you study arts. I felt that stigma, my whole life until I got into college. However, argue differently to what many of my teachers believed. I’ve achieved a childhood dream of mine, an almost life long goal. How many people can truly say that?

I’ve published poetry (and got paid to do so!), I’ve written and published feature pieces on a national level and I have my own radio show on UCC 98.3fm, with one of my best friends. You can achieve anything you want to and nobody can ever stop you. Sometimes we need to sit back and remember that. It might seem impossible. But is anything ever truly impossible?


This is not without setbacks. There will be hard times, that might seem soul-crushing. I was told by so many people, that I wouldn’t achieve this. They will try to tear you down. But you can get through it. When I finished school, although delighted with my Leaving Certificate results (I got a B in maths and can barely do basic addition), the required points for Arts had gone up. I didn’t get an offer from UCC that year. I will admit, I was crushed at the time. But it wasn’t the end. It’s never truly the end.

I had received an offer from CSN College of Further Education, in a level 5 FETAC in Journalism for the Digital Age. I’m so glad I did that year. I met some wonderful, like-minded people that inspired me and continue to inspire me. It fanned the flames of my passion for writing into an unstoppable blaze. I used my results from CSN to get into UCC. Now here we are today, with me writing this post. I have amazing friends that I am forever grateful for. I am achieving my dreams.


Today, as I write this, is Mental Health Awareness Day. I suppose the point I want to make is, things get better, they always get better. It may seem like generic advice, but take it from someone who never believed in the cheesy, generic advice. You can achieve your dreams. Trust me. You have to fall before you can fly.


Flickers of Orange and Red; The Return to University


When I step outside, I see flickers of auburn and maroon in the crisp, cloudy mornings. Leaves flutter to the pavements, later they are crunched upon by busy feet, rushing to school, work and soon for me, college.  Autumn is my favourite time of year. (Winter is a close second, though I am not fond of braining myself on slippery, ice covered footpaths.) Soon it will be cold enough all day to wear sweaters, scarves, to warm our hands on hot chocolate and in mittens, or perhaps in the palm of another.

I am starting my second year of university in eleven days. Although I am 98% excitement, there is that 2% that is ever so slightly worried. Between paying for my leap card again every month, buying those necessary textbooks (which at times, reminds me of a small devil sitting on my shoulder) and maintaining the sheer workload now that I am actually working towards my degree, I am a small bit anxious. Coffee is going to be my best friend for life, and we’re already pretty tight.

But I am not alone and that is the most beautiful thing. My friends are all going into second and third year of their degrees. Some of us are even in the same course. We’re all fighting the same worries and doubts about ourselves. We fall back on each other. I think that’s something we could all do with remembering. The world is a rough, often dim place. But there are little lights that brighten it up. They might seem little and we might feel unwanted, unloved or simply afraid. But those lights shine the brightest. My friends are my lights and I couldn’t ask for a greater set.

I get to see my dearest lights in 11 days. I properly start working towards my degree in 11 days. In 11 days, I start living again. University has made me happier than I could have ever imagined. Sure it can stress me out at times and I’ll never get the beautiful naps I get during the summer, but I wouldn’t wish for things to be any different. (Except perhaps for more puppy rooms during study week.)

‘Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile’ – William Cullen Byrant.



August 2016 – Monthly Good Reads!


I have once again returned from the dark recesses of my bedroom, (kind of, I got out of bed, does that count?) to write you another review of what I’ve been reading this month. I would like to say that I’ve been productive this last month, going on adventures. The reality is I’ve read a lot, making the most of my free time while I still have it, before I’ll be swamped in essay deadlines and exams. In Spain they would call me “una rata de bibioteca”; a library rat. (Bookworm). A name I enjoy living up to. It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines who you will be when you can’t help it. [Oscar Wilde]. Books are a small taste of heaven and an escape from the everyday stresses of our vague and so often dim reality. Books can reimburse that missing delight from your day and lift the heavy weight of the world from your shoulders, even if only for a short time. Without further ado, here are my three recommendations from this month.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Starting the month with a novel that embraces our childhood belief of magic that walks amongst us. The only novel (so far) by Morgenstern, she magnificently captures that childlike innocence that has been hidden away in all of us. Creative, unique and captivating, this book was so incredibly enjoyable. I’ve never read anything like this. It takes fantasy and twists it into something so fresh and delightful. Although the human pain of love and loss are felt, it is backed up by magical imagery that is so hard to find in a book these days. It is like the divergent fairy-tale we have spent all our lives searching for. In summary; this book is incredible and you should probably read it.


Burton & Swinburne in The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder.

There is no other way to describe this book other than the fact that it is strange and I love it. It is a steampunk novel and masterfully composed as such. Steampunk, for those who may be unaware of this peculiar genre, is a specific sub-genre of science-fiction. It takes the 19th century Victorian era and twists it into this technological, hipster world where technology and aesthetic design collide into a world of industrial, steam-powered machinery. Mixing this obscure, industrial world with one man that carries the burden of his past, leads us to the adventures, excitement and danger of this fictional universe, which leaves one gripping the book in eagerness. Hodder creates complex characters and shows off his deep knowledge of Victorian urban myths. It is indeed a strange, yet inviting book, perfect for those looking for a taste of obscurity, or for those who bathe in it.


Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

The beauty of this book is how human it is. Although I am an intense lover of fantasy novels, there is something incredible about books that remind us of the fragility of ourselves. This novel takes a mother’s love and the both struggles and sometimes dangers of being a guiding figure for our children. Not every home is perfect, in fact few are. Every family has its issues and the Hurst family are no exception. Take three children, all with their own intense problems and a mother with a fondness for control and authority. Now we have the fun ride that is Mother, Mother. I enjoyed this book immensely, I hope you do too.



My Monthly Good Reads – July 2016

This month I reread some of the most captivating novels I own. Second time around, they are still as enchanting, some of the most emotion evoking books I have ever been lucky enough to stumble across. These books are of great importance to me. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I have and continue to do.


1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 

Published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas, this was Sylvia Plath’s first and only novel. Much like her poetry, particularly like the poems from her collection Ariel, Plath used her own emotions and life experiences as inspiration. This semi-autobiographical novel follows the young Esther Greenwood, who comes from the suburbs of Boston, working as in intern for a prominent New York magazine. Frightened and disorientated by the large, glamorous city, Greenwood finds herself falling into deep and intense depression. This dark novel is both a powerful story and an extraordinary insight into the feelings Plath struggled with for much of her life. Plath is one of my favourite writers, and The Bell Jar is one of my favourite works written by this incredibly talented woman.


2. Sylvia by Leonard Michaels

Set in 1960’s Manhattan, this short novel tells the fictionalised tale of Michaels’ first wife, Sylvia Boch. Michaels, having finished university, is doing little else but writing during his abundance of free time, when he meets Sylvia. A story of paranoia, drugs and sexual fantasies, it is an emotional tribute to their self-destructive relationship, heavily influenced by Sylvia’s precarious mental health. A short, but beautifully written novel, it is an unforgettable story that will sit with you for days after you have finished reading it.


3. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

Winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award in 2013 and also known as Where The Moon Isn’t in the American edition, this debut novel of British author and mental health nurse Nathan Filer, is one of the most mesmerizing, eye-opening books I’ve ever, in all my days read. It follows a 19 year old named Matthew, who suffers from intense paranoid-schizophrenia, as he struggles to deal with the grief of losing his brother to a tragic accident during their childhood. Written in the form of a diary by our protagonist himself, it gives us an insight into what the struggle with mental health issues, for many people, really looks like. It is both stunning and haunting, a story that you will never forget.


4. Birds Nest Soup by Hannah Greally. 

I first read this book while doing research for a history paper, on the development of mental health services in Ireland, focusing in particular, on the Lunatic Asylums, which became the dumping grounds for people who were different, embarrassing or simply in the way. This book is the story of Hannah Greally, a nurse who came back from London during World War II, traumatised by the war. She entered St.Loman’s Psychiatric Asylum in Mullingar, Ireland, intending to only stay for a few weeks. She would spend the next 18 years of her life there. This book gives us a look into the horrifying and disturbing torment that patients were put through. Mental health was so poorly misunderstood in these days. Unfortunately, this meant that those struggling mental illness, were the ones that bore the brunt of this vacancy in the field of mental health and psychiatric care. This book gives us, even just the smallest perception of what it was like for the thousands of patients who spent some, of if not all of their lives in these prisons.


My Productive Last Week of July

It is typical of me that I decide to be a more productive being, when the summer holidays are now starting to come to a close. My August is going to be attending Fresher’s Orientations as a Peer Support Leader (a programme I highly advise anybody to get involved in while they’re in college) and shopping for stationary. (I am a stationary addict. Nothing pleases me more than a pretty notebook.) It will be a fairly busy month for me, though I do look forward to being out and about again.

However, this week I was a bit busy! I had my last show of the summer on UCC 98.3FM, attended an outdoor production of Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles and attended a free gig by The Academic, courtesy of Cork’s 96FM! It was a fun week being outside and taking advantage of new Pokéstops in Pokémon Go.


First in my week was the stage production of Sherlock Holmes, held in Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens. Behind the stage we had the view of the beautiful early 19th century mansion, with the rolling green hills and gardens stretching behind both us and the house. The show was produced by Chapterhouse Open Air Theatre Company, which focus on outdoor shows, despite whatever weather is thrown at them. The actors were fantastic, fitting their roles perfectly. It was a wonderful tribute to the stories of Sherlock Holmes, written and published by Arthur Conan Doyle from 1887 to 1927, a span of forty years. With only 6 actors, they cleverly juggled the different roles required to tell this entertaining tale. The Company are touring all around, having performances not only in Ireland, but in the UK also! They’re definitely ones to keep an eye on, they do many different productions every summer and seem to make a regular return to Fota House. They’re very talented actors and I have high hopes for their futures.


The next day I had my last show of the summer on UCC 98.3FM. Although a little sad to be finishing, we had a fantastic show full of banter, good tunes and political debates, which seem to make a regular appearance in most of my conversations. No apologies for those I may bore. I’ll be making a return to 98.3FM in September and I truly cannot wait! It was an amazing experience, one I’ll certainly never forget. I never envisioned myself on radio, but I’m so glad I went for it. It made my summer much better than I expected it to be!


Later that day was The Academic’s free gig in Bishop Lucy Park, AKA, Peace Park. Arranged by 96fm, this pop-up party was their way of saying thank you to all the listeners. The band itself originate from Mullingar, made up of four lads who were in school together, hence the name The Academic. From what I’ve heard, they’re only about 19 years old, making me feel just a little bit like a cougar. They’re incredibly gifted musicians however and definitely have a strong career lined up in music. They’re genuinely down to earth people and had no problem meeting fans after the show, signing autographs and taking photos. It was incredibly admirable, especially considering how daunting it can be to suddenly be jumping into fame. Admittedly, I had no idea who they were going into the gig, but I’ve definitely come out of it as a fan. You can dance away to their music, which I did plenty of, despite my dancing resembling something like dad-dancing. The Academic’s new song Mixtape 2003 is available on iTunes and Spotify, so definitely check that out!


It was an enjoyable last week of July, although a bit tiring. It was a lot of fun and I’m certainly hoping that August is just as fun, though I’ll be glad when September comes and I’ll be back in college.