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The transition from lazy, relaxed holiday season to busy, hectic come on I’m going now whether you are in the car or not school season has gone surprisingly smoothly here at Crabtree Cottage.

The teen has settled back into the early mornings and organising her time so homework is done while vlog watching and music listening can’t be compromised because we all know how detrimental to future life those things are.

The nearly teen is delighted to be in sixth class and is delighted that he has been bestowed the task of being the bus prefect. A job, according to the teen, that means he has finally arrived in primary school terms, a job that everyone secretly or not so secretly desires but only a chosen few get.

I have very mixed emotions about this particular aspect of school life and while I am delighted for my youngest child and believe that he will be fair and just in his role I am disappointed for my eldest as she also would have been fair and just. However, her quiet, reserved type of fair and just doesn’t seem to be valued in our school system, primary or secondary. But that’s a  whole other blog!

I have had the luxury of an extra week or so holidays and had many productive plans for these extra days. All these plans involved work, organising classes, organising trips and tackling corrections.

Best laid plans etc, etc. I spent my time cleaning, baking, chatting to friends and now I sit here with a couple of days to go before I am in the thick of it again. I am surrounded by books and papers with a cup of coffee at my elbow.

karens photos 003

Sure it will all get done. No need to hurry……

Have a great week wherever you may be. And if you have the time leave a comment, tell me about your day or week.

Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life. ~William Faulkner

Slán agus beannacht,


September Fatigue!

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Family / Life / Love

Gratuitous Picture of Pigeons no relevance to blog whats so ever!

I have September fatigue already.

This is not a teary eyed post about the first day of school, I promise. My two are long past their first day at school.

I am tired of the back to school posts, advertisements and memes that are rejoicing in the school’s reopening after the summer holidays. you know the ones, they tell you how great it is to be getting rid of the kids for most of the day. They illustrate how upsetting the first week is for the teachers. They tell of how the ‘poor’ teachers dread these initial few days.

They have hundreds of likes so there are pockets of people out there nodding sagely in agreement.

I’m tired of them already and it’s only day two………..

As a parent I can honestly say that I like the kids being home. I like the energy they have, their sense of humour, their witty (ok cheeky) remarks. I like to watch them together or with their friends and see how they have grown, witness the great people they are becoming. And ok, the break from making school lunches that inevitably end up in the bin isn’t bad either.

The thing is I have a niece and nephew who are adults now. They were like two and seven yesterday! Then I looked around and one is jetting here, there and everywhere and the other is living in Dublin and attending college. And I miss them. I miss calling to their house and hanging out with them, hearing about what’s happening in their days. Getting to witness the witty, smart fantastic adults they are growing into.

So I confess, I love the summer months. I love the time spent doing nothing. The time spent watching, listening and falling a little more in love with the two humans myself and my lovely husband brought into this world.

I’m also a teacher. And not for one moment do I dread going to work in September. I pick up my bag and smile thankfully to myself that I am one of the lucky ones. I have a job, I’m doing something I love and my day is mixed and varied. I get to meet students, to encourage and support them in their academic journey.

So I just wanted to put it out there, not every mammy is home tangoing around the sitting room thanking the universe that at last the schools have reopened their doors and those pesky kids are out of her hair. Isn’t it rather sad to think like that about your own flesh and blood?

And not every teacher has to force themselves out the door come September.

You are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing. What! Is it nothing to be happy? Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long? Never in his life will he be so busy again. ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762

Slán agus beannacht,


Stone Walls, Sea Breezes and an Old Mill

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Life, Love, Family

I think it was during the Easter holidays that I decided we needed a break away from home this summer. I turned the laptop on and searched the net for somewhere that would appeal to all. Not an easy task considering we have two children who have very different interests. Our eldest is a book worm, a budding artist, a writer of sorts and an internet addict.

The youngest loves the great outdoors and has a huge interest in sports and I mean all sports. From swimming to cycling to golf and everything in between he can be found either having a go or watching others havinng a go. When he’s not playing or watching sports he can be found playing on his game console.

Our budget was small, my work is on a casual part time basis so a trip abroad was out of the question. A cottage or house in the Irish country side was what we needed. Somewhere free from the demon wifi, preferrably without a TV or game console.

I know you think I’ve lost the plot, travelling to some secluded spot without home comforts with a teen and an almost teen. You’re wondering how long I’m mad now.

Well I found the exact spot I was looking for. An old mill secluded in the depths of the countryside. It was going for a song and was available the last week in August. A sign I tell you. I showed it to the teen ( yep I was having a moment of doubt) who thought it was wonderful. I booked it before I cold change my mind. Then promptly put it to the back of my mind as I got on with the school year.

As August drew near my lovely husband revealed that Craughwell, where the lovely old mill we were heading to on our holidays, was a stones throw from Roscommon. He found this most amusing as we live a stones throw from Roscommon too. Look on the bright said I told him, we won’t have a long journey there or back!

As it turned out we were quite a distance from home and only twenty minutes outside Galway city. The house itself was full of character and charm.

A four hundred year old stone building surrounded by trees with a river flowing by it, this tiny house was the quirkiest little place we had ever stayed in.

As soon as we pulled up outside we knew we were going to have the relaxed, tranquil week we had hoped for and we weren’t wrong.

The flow of the river sent us to sleep at night and woke us gently in the early morning. We were up and out of the mill early most mornings which meant we had lots of time to explore and ramble around Galway and it’s surrounds. There is something quite as peaceful and enriching as being beside water.

I won’t bore you with evry little  detail of our week away  but I really do have to mention our trip to Inis Mór. We had the best time from beginning to end. I love to be beside the sea and relished every moment of our day on the island. I find being by the sea renews my spirit.

Our non sporty eldest child sat up on a bike in Kilronan and cycled to Dun Aengus and back which surprised and shocked us all. The lads in true competitive style took off at speed and explored a lot more of this lovely island than we did.

Inis Mór

Inis Mór 

Inis Mór

Inis Mór

However, I enjoyed the leisurely pace we took as I was able to stop and take photos here and there along the way. I have to admit that they do not do the island justice. It really is a place that has to be seen and experienced to fully appreciate it’s natuarl rustic beauty  and charm. As you can tell I was completely smitten.

Inis Mór

Inis Mór

While I truly enjoyed my time in Galway I wondered if the locals get a bit weary of the influx of tourists throughout the summer months. On more than one occassion I felt that it was a chore for sales assistants to drag themselves away from converstaion and actually engage with us. In one very well placed establishment I even heard the sales staff call shoppers ‘amadán’ and speculate about charging an enterance fee!

While getting a take away coffee Darren asked the lady behind him would he leave the cap of the milk for her, she burst into her native tongue, Gaelic, to which he smiled and moved on. He asked her as bearla (in English) as he had heard her having an animated conversation with her companion in English. It’s nice to be nice as they say. I just couldn’t help thinking that maybe the influx of tourists gets to people by the end of the season.

To end on a more positive note I’ll tell you about a lovely coffee shop myself and the teen found one afternoon as we rambled around Galway in the rain. Goya’s is the loveliest spot you could find. Happy, helpful staff, bright airy atmosphere, coffee and food to die for and the toilet faclities were spotless (always important!).

We stumbled on it as we strolled down Kirwan lane and ducked in to take refuge from the rain. Am I glad we did. The selection of baked treats and pasteries was mouthwatering. Spoiled for choice I had  a delicious carrot cake with  coffee which was served with hot milk to enhance the taste. The teen had an oreo cupcake. We sat and savoured our sweet treats while the rain fall and the world passed by.

We brought the lads back with us as our week neared it’s end and sampled the soup and toastie special and this time I made sure to sample some of the red velvet cake that I had spied earlier in the week. I was not disappointed. The staff were so pleasant and our youngest who has some very fussy eating habits was catered for.

It was great to get away from the hum drum rhythm of life for a while. The old mill was the perfect spot to recharge the battteries and reconnect with each other and nature. It was wonderful not to be reliant on technology and instead be engaged and in the moment. The only thing I missed was a good cup of coffee in the morning. Did I forget to mention that the mill had a supply of rain water that was filtered for consumtion?

While the coffee may have not been to my liking the sense of peace and calm that enveloped  us was priceless.

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. ~Author Unknown

Slán agus beannacht,


Summer Days

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Family / Life / Love

It’s hard to believe that the school holidays are drawing to a close. The days seemed to roll into weeks and the weeks just disappeared and didn’t even have the manners to leave behind memories of sun soaked hours!

This has been my busiest summer since the arrival of my first-born almost 14 years ago. I was fortunate enough to have work during the summer months for the first time since I started working in adult and community education. It has been a learning curve but an enjoyable one.

We have worked together as a family unit and managed to keep everything ticking over and have lots of fun during the not so sunny summer holidays.

My trips to Croke Park, I managed two, for two very different occasions, are on my list of highlights of summer 2015.

 The first trip to Croke Park was to attend The Script concert on the 20th June, a concert I had been eagerly anticipating since receiving the tickets in December of last year. It was all the more exciting as we were attending as a family and it was our youngest childs first concert.

Father’s day was the following day so we decided to squash in a visit to Glasnevin Cemetery . Darren had been saying he’d love to do the tour and I never refuse a chance to visit the final resting place of my own dear Dad.

I have always found Glasnevin to be a peaceful, calm and tranquil place. Time has changed it and now when you enter the gates it feels like you are being embraced…by past generations, ancestors from long ago…I’m not entirely sure.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the fleeting thought ‘how many are resting here and how many more will’ as my gaze lands on the familiar and the new.

I watched One Million Dubliners with interest and pride. Glasnevin Cemetery is steeped in Irish history and there resting among it are my kin. The love and pride that Shane Mac Thomáis conveyed for the cemetery, the city and the country throughout the film was incredible to watch.

So on June 20th when I wandered through the entrance with my family I saw Glasnevin through new eyes. During my school holidays I would walk from Phibsboro to Glasnevin Cemetery to have a chat with my Dad. The funny thing was I never really needed to make the journey as I  spoke  to him randomly throughout the day.

I would stop at the flower shop down past Des Kelly Carpets and buy a single rose, this I would stick to Dad’s name in the garden of remembrance before strolling along the path by the boundary wall until I came to a tall mature tree that shades the spot where my Granny and Granddad Ryan were laid to rest. I would stop a while and remember stories my Mum had told us of her Mum and Dad and her young siblings who had left this world far too soon.

From here I’d walk deeper into the cemetery taking in the different styles of headstones some so old I couldn’t even begin to imagine what kind of life those who rested beneath had led.

On June 20th we entered the museum and got our tickets for the tour and took our place with the rest of the group and so began my formal introduction to Glasnevin Cemetery.

We walked among the graves of Ireland’s past leaders, activists, poets and writers. Some quite ornate and others so very plain. As I walked I recalled the opening chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses and was secretly delighted when I realised my Dad is not a stone’s throw away from Joyce’s Father’s grave.

When we were ready to leave my youngest asked if he could be buried there, among the great and the ordinary and most importantly his Granddad!

We left Glasnevin loaded down with books and I realised anew what an empty experience visiting a grave is. As I sat in the car heading into the city I thought about Dad’s wish to be cremated, his wish that his family, my mum, my sister and I would not stand around an open grave. His belief that you hold those you love in your heart and mind, easily visited at anytime of the day or night.

He was right. I feel nearer to my Dad in my kitchen as I cook or bake. These are things I loved to watch him do. I feel closer to him on a windy beach or on an open road with the radio blaring…because I am reminded of our round trips and our camping expeditions and singing loudly as we travelled the highways and byways of this lovely country. I am so grateful that I had such a wise young man as my father and thankful that in his wisdom he never placed any guilt on our young shoulders to maintain and keep a grave. A monument to the past.

We never got to look around the museum properly as we were concious that the time for the concert was drawing near. Another day.

And then we were there! We were sitting in Croke Park. The excitement was palpable and while our eldest was way to cool to show it, myself and the youngest were absolutely dying for The Script to get out onto the stage and sing their hearts out.

We were definitely not disappointed. They rocked Croke Park, from beginning to end. The set was a mix of old and new. We danced,  sang our hearts out, had sore hands from clapping along and yes I cried. I know, my poor kids!

I had a lump in my throat as the first few bars of  If You Could See Me Now floated out over the crowd, the tears where making steady paths down my face as the song came to a close. I could feel two small hands pat me gently on the back and knew I’d been rumbled.

We don’t remember the walk back to the car, we were still on a high. We sang, laughed and spoke about what a great show the lads put on. We debated the merits of the support acts, if we really liked them or not and why. We made lovely memories.

Trip two to the hallowed ground of Croke Park was on August 15th  to watch my youngest play hurling at half time during the Waterford v Kilkenny hurling semi final. He was fortunate enough to be part of the Cumann na mBunscol/I.N.T.O Respect Exhibition Go Games. What  a fantastic day that was. If you have followed the blog for a while you may know that I am not in the slight bit interested in sport, especially anything GAA related!

However I have a very different view of the game after seeing the skill and effort the players put into it. I have the utmost respect for all involved in making the day special for the kids who took part in the exhibition game, it was so organised and ran without a hitch. It’s not everyday that you get to play on Croke Park. Another fantastic day out and the conversation in the car on the journey home flowed. More memories made.

A snap shot of some of the highlights of summer 2015, granted you got a glimpse of two of the most exciting days of the summer and the sun shone on both.

What about your exploration into stoicism I hear you ask. After a bit of a wobble I’m back on track. Acceptance, self control are back in use. I’m feeling much better for it however I am not as productive as I had hoped to be. Maybe it’s the mad back to school rush, I was beginning to panic but decided panic was futile! I’ll enjoy the last full week of the holidays and take each day as I find it.

I’ve had to include a vegetarian option in the menu here at Crabtree Cottage and it’s much easier than I had anticipated. We’re all benefiting from fresh produce cooked in exciting and tastey new ways. I had always hated the idea of a vegetarian getting a plate of spuds and whatever veg was going when they sat down to dinner. We’re eating a variety of beans and pulses and sure the herb and spices drawer is seeing more action than ever before.

I hope you are all enjoying what’s left of summer, it won’t be long until we’ve the curtains drawn and the fires lit.

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. ~John Steinbeck

Thanks for stopping by and reading,

Slán agus beannacht,


Preparing for Winter

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Life, Love, Family

Hello and a big thank you and welcome to anyone new. While I was gone a lovely thing happened. Over 200 people read my blog in the one day! That hasn’t happened in quite some time and it was a lovely surprise to get. I’m attributing this increase in readers to the fact that Jane from That Curious Love Of Green shared my post. So, thank you Jane.

I have hit a little bump in the road on my journey into Stoicism. All was going well until I started to lose the run of myself. One little treat lead to another and another until I had returned to my old habits.

The upshot is that I have been feeling sluggish, slow to rise in the mornings and my mind has slipped back into a chaotic mess!

The calmness and order that I had developed disappeared rather quickly. This was not  how I had planned to start the winter.

I’m on holidays from work until early September and I plan on revisiting and reestablishing my sense of well-being, mindfulness and general calm. Entering the bleak winter months with a positive outlook and disposition.

This week I am going to relax and rejuvenate. I have lots of reading to do and a cardigan that needs to be finished. We’re on the count down to back to school so I plan on enjoying the next week or so with the kids which will only add to my feeling of well-being.

At the beginning of every winter people are careful to install storm windows. These extra panes of glass protect their houses against the bitter winds. We do something very similar to protect our minds through the practice of meditation. ~Eknath Easwaran

Slán agus beannacht


What’s In A Name?

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Family / Life / Love

Good morning. After a day of blue skies and sunshine it’s back to blustery weather that is very reminiscent of winter here at Crabtree Cottage.

You may have noticed that I changed the name of the blog. It never really had a name because when I started blogging a couple of years ago I had no idea what to call it and it ended up just being tagged with my name.

So why call the blog What Karen Did Next and why now you may ask?

What Karen Did Next seemed rather fitting. When I first began the blog I had returned to full time education. I had been studying psychology on a part time basis for a number of years and in 2009 my youngest child was starting school and I thought it would be a good idea to return to education myself. 

I applied to NUI Maynooth and was fortunate enough to get a place on their Arts degree and I spent the following 5 years wrapped in the arms of academia and I loved every moment of it. (It didn’t take me 5 years to complete my degree, I also completed a post grad in Adult and Community Education and a Masters in Education.)

Well, maybe not every moment as my family and very close friends will attest to. There were some hairy moments during those years but for the most part I grew as a person, found out a lot about myself and made some lifelong friends along the way.

I really enjoyed my time at NUI Maynooth and after a shaky start choosing subjects I enjoyed those that I chose. You can probably guess that I went back to education with the intention of studying psychology however, after the first 6 mths I had decided that psychology was not for me. I fell head over heels in love with sociology a subject that I fell into when I decided 4 weeks into my degree that geography just wasn’t for me.

After completing my degree I applied for a post grad in adult education. What a completely different experience  that year was. From lecture halls with hundreds of students to a small classroom with twenty or so peers, the transition was a little rocky to say the least! It was during this year that I learnt a lot about myself, my character and the myriad of personalities that exist in this crazy world. A great foundation for entering the world of eduaction.

I was fortunate enough to get some teaching hours in a community setting during this year and so began another chapter of my tale. While I had been a literacy tutor for some time entering a classroom was a challenge of a different kind.

The following year I began a Masters in Education. In NUI Maynooth, at this stage Maynooth campus felt like home and I really didn’t want to leave. All good things come to an end though and I completed my course of study in the summer of 2013.

Since then I have had steady if not permanent work within the adult and community education sector which I enjoy immensely.

During slack times I knit! It keeps my hands and mind busy. Through my love of knitting I got involved with a local craft group Creative Longford. This talented bunch of crafters have hosted a very successful Pop Up Shop as part of the Cruthú Festival in Longford for the past two years.

At the end of last year I had the pleasure of working with a great team of people and teaching a colourful bunch of young people in a local Youthreach centre. It restored my belief in myself as an educator and gave me the impetus to continue in this field despite the difficulties in securing work.

So quite a lot has been going on here at Crabtree, not forgetting the everyday occurrences that crop up in families. As you know, I am dipping my toes into the art of stoicism and finding that the benefits are great. I have decluttered and streamlined the house which has resulted in an uncluttered and less chaotic mind.

Since finishing my masters degree I often find myself bored and at a loss for something to do. To combat this I have decided to try new things or return to old things that gave me pleasure and a sense of achievement. Hence the knitting!

One of the things I’m going to attempt over the next few months is a Creativity Bootcamp run by the lovely Jane over at That Curious Love of Green. You can read more about it here and maybe join us?  My eldest got a violin for christmas and it has fallen out of favour. I am constantly eyeing it up and wondering is there any small chance that I could attempt to master the art of playing it? Maybe, we’ll see. Sure it’s going to be a long winter! And then there’s this niggling desire to take up pilates. I have wanted to try it for quite some time. So as you see  I have been busy for quite some time and would like to keep busy for the foreseeable future.

So that my friends is the stream of thought that the name change came from. Why now? I suppose now was just the right time. The name seems right and I finally worked out how to do it.

Over the next few weeks I will be working on my impulsiveness. As soon as I type the final word my fingers itch to press the publish button. Even though I know how important proofreading and editing are. So over the next few weeks I will be editing and proofreading more accurately and hopefully it will put an end to my typos and habit of leaving keywords out.

Hope you are having a lovely day wherever it is you are.

Slán agus beanacht, 


The Good Life

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Family / Life / Love

Everytime I read a new chapter of Stoicism and The Art of Happiness by Donald Robertson I smile to myself. The ancient stoics were on a journey to reach eudaimonia or in lay mans (womans) terms the good life. For them being wise and a good person was both necessary and sufficient to enjoy a good life. For some reason everytime I read the ‘good life’ I am constantly reminded of the TV comedy that graced our screens during the 70s.

Tom Good decides to make some changes on hitting a milestone birthday. He convinces his wife to join him in his bid to wave goodbye to the rat race by living a simple self sufficient life. They convert their suburban home into a farm, planting crops and bringing in farm animals. This new departure unsettles their very proper neighbours as the Good’s adventures into the good life brings many mishaps and lots of laughter.

Over the past few years I have been trying to be somewhat self sufficient by growing trying to grow vegetables in a little green house we inherited from our in laws. I have so far managed a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes, various herbs,  mostly mint and parsley,and lots of lettuce.

While my crop may not be huge or varied, and the bumper crop of tomatoes was last year,  the experience of sowing and tending the pots has been really beneficial. It is quite calming and relaxing to head outside and get my hands dirty. I get a great sense of satisfaction from seeing the seeds start to sprout and grow into strong plants. Sure not to worry that I have nothing on the table to show for it. Haven’t I peace of mind and a tranquil quiet space to head out to when I need it?

I agree with the Stoics and with Robertson, wisdom and virtue are attributes that don’t fall neatly onto your lap. For them to flourish they must be practised, encouraged and nurtured. In today’s world where instant gratification is king attributes that need time, that can’t be honed by throwing money at them are often forgotten and neglected.

I’m really enjoying Robertson’s book. I find that I am nodding in agreement with much, if not all, of what he writes. Perfecting the art of self control is a huge part of the stoic’s philosophy. As is recognising what is good and worth choosing because according to Robertson the majority of people mistakenly believe that external objects are good and so experience a want and desire for those things that are outside of their control. He explains that the Stoics felt that this lead to frustration and suffering.

Much like the frustrations that exist within the capitalist structures that form much of society today. Chasing the dream is supposed to lead to well being, fulfillment and happiness yet we see people who are stressed out and starved of time.

So as you can see, my minds at sixes and sevens and is full of  ideas and opinions. Not only is stoicism quieting my mind  it is encouraging me to think a little deeper than I have been in quite some time. Apologies if this post is chaotic!

In other news, I have been busy finishing projects that I had started but hadn’t found the time  or the commitment to complete. It’s brilliant, rather than procrastinating about all I have to do I’m actually doing it!

While I am practising the art of stoicism I am wise enough to recognise that I am far from being a sage. However, the act of practising the art is hugely beneficial and it is only through practise that we can hope to perfect our skills. While it is very early days I am recognising the benefits already.

I hope that you all have a great weekend where ever it is you may be. Take care and I’ll leave you with a quote from my favorite Shakespeare play;

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. ~William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Slán agus beannacht 


Adolescence, Vegetarianism and Stoicism

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Family / Life / Love

Hello from a rain-soaked Crabtree Cottage. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was mid November in Leitrim today.

Only thing for it is to keep busy! I’m still practising the art of stoicism and all in all it’s going well.

Acceptance is a funny old thing really. My eldest is in her teens and up until now I hadn’t realised that I was having trouble accepting that she is really coming into her own.

Although I had started this parenting journey believing myself to be open-minded and respectful of my children’s wishes (within reason, obviously!) I have come to the realisation that as I watched my eldest grow and become more independent my reflex action was to try to reign her in. Hoping that somehow I could slow down this marching of time and have her remain my ‘little girl’ forever.

However, the battle within was worse than any of the struggle between the two of us. As I would stand arguing over why she couldn’t do something my inner voice of reason would be asking me ‘why ever not’ in a reproachful tone. Then it would take great pleasure in telling me that whatever it was my darling teen wanted to do at least she had foretold me. It would go on to remind me that I would have just gone ahead and done whatever madcap idea I had gotten into my head, worrying about the consequences after the act.

And there were many consequences. Which is probably why I tried to save my lovely teen the bother and the anguish.

In saving her from the bother and the anguish (or the joy because let’s face it, she’s not me and maybe her choices are much more thought through than mine ever were) I’m also preventing  her from experiencing life. All of life! The ups the downs and the in between parts. I’m not helping her to become the person she so wants to be and I’m not allowing her to build up any resilience, something that is much-needed in this ever-changing world that we are living in.

So how has stoicism helped me let my child develop in her own way rather than follow a predetermined path that I have chosen for her?

She has wanted to be a vegetarian for ages now. I’ve always nodded and agreed while reminding her she hardly eats any veg at all. Last week when vegetarianism was mentioned again I asked what she needed? How could I help? I accepted her choice and realised that without help, support and encouragement from mum and dad sure wasn’t she destined to fail.

That was early last week and I can report that the vegetarianism is going well. Most dinners can be adapted to include a vegetarian option and we’ve had veg korma and lasagne among other things. She is helping out with the preparations and is eating much healthier than before.

While it has been difficult to admit that my child is growing into an independent  young person it is extremely satisfying to watch. She is a great conversationalist and extremely well-informed in areas that interest her. I’m beginning to understand that now is my time to watch, listen and learn. I am no longer the fountain of all knowledge and you know that’s fine. Once she never gets too grown up for a hug!

The vegetarianism links in very well with the eating like a stoic exercise I have been following. I thought that after completing the week-long task that I would be straight back to my old habits of picking at food throughout the day. So I’m really pleased that I haven’t returned to old habits rather I have streamlined my shopping list and am enjoying cooking wholesome hearty dinners from scratch.

So that’s what’s been happening here at Crabtree Cottage. Hope your week has been good.

Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves. ~Virginia Satir, The New Peoplemaking, 1988

Slán agus beannacht.

Tiny little update

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Home / Humour / Life

Hello and welcome to those of you who are new to the blog.

Just a tiny little update on how practising stoicism is going for me this week. Quite good really. How do I know? Well, when I was confronted by an overzealous mammy subtly  letting me know that my commitment to motherhood in no way reached the dizzying heights of hers I calmly smiled, nodded and mentally checked my to do list while she wittered away.

The old me would have visibly bristled while I gave her the death stare and thought of witty yet cutting comebacks that I never would have uttered because Mammy Byrne has raised me with the maxim ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all’. I hasten to add that I rarely took her advice as a kid however I did bring it into adulthood and it has served me well.

I have no control over how others express themselves and if they want to live their lives vicariously through their offspring, who am I to stand in their way?

On a more serious note and probably much more in the spirit of stoicism I have been able to integrate it into the way I organise and conduct my work commitments.

I’m not sure if any of you have ever experienced the feeling of heading off to work and thinking; ‘someone is going to find me out, I’m really not the person they think I am!’. I used to get that feeling quite a bit. Maybe it stems from retraining and just not having the experience behind me that my peers have or maybe it’s lack of self – confidence or low self – esteem. Whatever it is, practising mindfulness and reading about stoicism combined with accepting the fact that not everything is controlled by me, has resulted in that feeling diminishing. It no longer sits to the front of my mind trying to sabotage me.

Practising self – discipline and self – control around my eating habits really hasn’t been as difficult as I initially thought it would be. I have cut out snacking, grazing and constantly picking during the day. For the most part I have had three meals a day and once or twice I went mad and had a treat. However, I could take it or leave it whereas, before if I knew there was something sweet and sugary, or even savoury lying around I just had to eat it. I will be continuing with eating like a Stoic. I think I ate out of boredom so now I do something productive instead. It’s a win win situation.

So yes, I’m quite pleased with myself (as I said before probably not very stoic of me as the ancient Stoics did not believe in talking about what they did, no blowing your own trumpet, pride going before a fall and all of that).

In a nutshell that is how my week has been, of course the acceptance and self –  control wasn’t all plain sailing and I have had a few lapses. Like the evening that I spotted a youth recording my attempts to park my car………or the time my youngest was enjoying the loveliest smelling popcorn beside me and I tucked in without thinking. The important part was that I didn’t throw in the towel, I just chalked it down to experience and carried on. I didn’t beat myself up about it either, I accepted my flaws, told myself I’m only human and kept going.

My weekend begins here so I wish you all well. I’m off to put my feet up and read for a bit.

I hope you have had a lovely Thursday where ever it is you are. Please feel free to comment, I really would love to hear from you.

Slán agus beannacht,


P.S. I was thinking of naming the blog What Karen Did Next…….


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It’s all change here at Crabtree Cottage at the moment.

Do you ever find it to be so? Once one thing changes it has a knock on effect  on something else and so on. The kitchen clear out was the start of it, and it has spread out the door and down the hallway resulting in a lovely airy room for my books, work stuff and stock pile of yarn. It has also resulted in me having the loveliest space to sit and write.

I have streamlined kitchen cupboards, chest of drawers and wardrobes. Anything that had not been worn in the past eight weeks was dumped in a black sack and shipped of to a clothes bank. All items that could be reused were sent to new homes. The result is that I don’t spend as much time doing household chores. Lots more free time to bake, plant, knit, write or simply read and practice the art of Stoicism.

Ah yes the art of Stoicism. In the midst of this big clean up I have also been reading about and practicing mindfulness. This week I’m trying to practice acceptance and self discipline. I’ve had a wobble but I think I’m doing ok. The most important part is I am enjoying the journey and learning a lot about myself in the process.

So, yeah, lots of change taking place at the moment. The blog is even getting a revamp! I hope you like the changes that are being made. I’m having fun navigating my way around……….losing posts and finding them again. I hope to have it all done and dusted before too long. I’m even considering naming the blog, that may take a little longer though as everything I’ve come up with so far is really not that great.

Hope you had a lovely day where ever it is you happen to be. Feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Slán agus beannacht,


We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it. ~John Steinbeck, America and Americans