I’m Here and I’m Now

As someone who has always worked to deadlines, I’ve spent years struggling with learning how to live one day at a time but now I think I’ve finally got the knack. This has come about through a close relative’s attitude to her diagnosis of terminal illness and the example she is setting in living each day as it comes. I have been convinced that, without question, what’s important is ‘right here and right now’ and simply being in the present moment is the best place to be. The past is gone and the future’s to come. Why bother worrying about either of those? Therefore, I didn’t start the year with a heap of resolutions. Nor am I in my usual state of panic because I am only just, on the edge of the end of the month, penning a January blog.

I’d already decided at my November birthday (see blog 27 Nov 2015) that I had been doing too much since I retired in March, so I dropped those activities that made me feel like I was still ‘working’. For example, I came off the Committee for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle (though remain a member).

I believed that saying ‘no’ was to be a new mantra for me in 2016 but, as always, life had a different agenda and presented an obstacle to that last Thursday. The speaker for the next Writers’ Circle session had to cancel and I felt obliged to provide something for the members to come along to – seeing as it was me who had booked the speaker in the first place.

So much for saying ‘no’ then…

The next best thing to not saying ‘no’ is to look for damage limitation. With that in mind I reached for a reliable cliché and killed two birds with one stone, ie, the first exercise planned for the session is to write a blog of how your year is going so far.

Ta Da!

If you are in Scarborough on Tuesday next (2nd Feb) you are very welcome to join us. We meet at 7.15-9.15pm at Vernon Road Library, Scarborough. The meetings cost £2.50 (including refreshments) or £1.50 if you are a student or member.

The outline for the evening is as follows:

Bit of a blog talk from a personal perspective…
Sharing of blog/journal/diary entries (those who have done one).
Three quick warm-up exercises for ideas in gathering inspiration to kick-start a piece of writing.
From a selection of news stories to be given out on the night:
Choose one headline and write a blog/diary/journal entry using that headline as a subject
Choose a news story – rewrite it from the POV of one of the ‘characters’ as a blog/diary/journal entry.
Read and share the above (and any blog that’s come to fruition during the evening.)
Discuss the process/progress of the writing.


And so it is with enthusiasm that I embrace my new found inner peace and feeling of well-being as I continue to follow my relative’s example by enjoying being in each moment… whatever each moment holds for me as it encompasses the conception of living in the here and now.

With peaceful blessings to you all,


New Year’s Eve

The end of the year feels more like the end of my life as I know it. I am unable to engage with my in-depth writing on social media for the foreseeable future and will be using my private journal. I am too wounded to share.

I leave you with this thought:

It is better to come to the Lord in prayer with a heart full of love and no words than many words and an empty heart. 

Jesus bauble




It’s time to claim back my butterflies

Since retiring in March, I’ve thrown myself headlong into various activities. I had many of these interests during my working life but, like so many new retirees, I thought I would have more spare time so added new interests to those. Hence, I have taken on so much that I am no longer enjoying my freedom from the routine of a working life. I realised this when I reached my birthday recently, a number that does look quite attractive, and took stock of myself. I looked at what I’d committed myself to and compared it to what I was actually enjoying. And it was a chance encounter with a friend that helped me reach a decision about taking drastic action to cut down on activities.

My friend’s name is Julie too – and she asked, ‘Julie, where have all your colourful butterflies gone?’ She went on to explain this as being the aura I usually carry around with me that she was so used to seeing and it is what makes me… well, me.

I thought about this some more when I got home and looked in the mirror. I looked tired and dull and there was definitely no sparkle. I’d confided in my friend about a stressful period I’d been going through in recent weeks and how I’d felt quite unwell, both physically and mentally, at times. She advised me to stop pleasing others and please myself more, to encourage my butterflies back. Looking in that mirror again, I think I saw what she saw: I was surrounded by dark moths that had taken my light and they were flying around me like prophesies of doom.

Over the next few days, as people made demands on my time, it finally came to a head with me reacting badly to a situation. I demonstrated traits of my character that I do not like. I knew I had to do something immediately. Once I’d made that decision, it was easier to sort out what I would keep and what I would let go, and I felt in control again.

At the moment I am honouring two commitments that end in mid-December, have dropped two things I am no longer enjoying, and I have two commitments to honour in early 2016. I feel refreshed knowing that after this I will have a clean canvas to work with. I have already started saying ‘no’ to things I’ve been asked to do that I really don’t want to do. And I owe it to myself and my butterflies to continue with that promise to myself.

At the Scarborough Writers’ Circle this week, one of the members led a session in celebration of Thanksgiving Day. The remit was to bring a piece of writing to read on the night illustrating the subject of ‘giving thanks’ by way of our own interpretation of that.

This was my offering:

I’m thankful that I am able to express my creativity through writing, painting, music and dance; I am grateful that I am blessed with the means to do this because of my sense of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch… thus enabling me to use the therapeutic qualities of my creativity as a celebration of my life.

I give thanks that my response to this creativity highlights what is important to me, and it is through the gift of my creative self that I recognise my belief in a God who gave His only son as an atoning sacrifice to pay for my sins… so that I may be forgiven and receive salvation for my soul.

I give thanks for the people I encounter on my life journey who help me grow into the kind of person fit to serve a loving God… and I also give thanks for those I encounter who bring out distasteful traits in me by their challenging behaviour, because this helps me strive to change my own reactions to that behaviour.

Mostly I give thanks that in His mercy God does not look on what I am now nor on what I have been but on what I desire to be.

I am grateful that in this world of manmade rules and regulations there are none that govern how I should pray; there is no right or wrong way. I simply talk to God, sometimes baring my soul and falling before Him like an open wound. And He picks up the pieces and fixes me within the boundaries of my broken life.

And in the midst of all this, there is love.

I give thanks for the love I’ve known; the contented feeling of loving arms; the warmth of a human heart from a random act of kindness; a loving touch of support from a friend; a visit or phone call from a prodigal – returning home – and I’m grateful for a bond so strong that time apart has allowed for a reconciliation and a rebirth of that relationship.

I give thanks for the love of my partner; my children; my family; my friends; the people in the places where I work, rest and play – yes, even those who are ‘not like me’. I give thanks for our individuality – our diversity – and that I am surrounded in love, completed in love and enabled to share my love with others.

So then at the end of each day… when I’m stripped of myself – of my expectations – of others’ expectations – of what I am or should be, and love, even love for myself, flows down like grace into my empty vessel, I can become full of what God intended me to be – for His purpose, His plan – not mine, or yours.

And I pray that God’s glory will shine from me, reflecting the love I have received, so that others who touch the edge of that radiance will know that they are in the presence of God – because God is the essence of me.

At the end of my reading I sat down and I knew that I’d just described what my butterflies look like.

And I want them back!


Belated retirement thoughts

So, while I’m waiting for the release from Customs of the PROOF Anthology for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle, I thought I’d play catch up with my journal notes and look what I found! A note to self to type up (amongst other things of course) notes from opposite page (in my journal) re my retirement (which happened in March and it is now October!). I have been busy…

This then is a record of my finale as Administrator to the North Yorkshire Coast Methodist Circuit.

The two weeks leading up to my retirement was not a time to reflect on my working life as I was still busy working and I was in a state of anxiety and panic – not about retiring but about fitting everything in that needed to be done before I left – in order to hand over to the person who was taking over from me. We all know that no-one is indispensable. There is always someone waiting to step into our shoes – no matter who we are or what we do.

Instead of slowing down to enjoy my final two weeks, I found myself making lists about lists of things to pass on. However, the time passed so quickly and the final day arrived. I was left with one hour alone in the office at the end of that day to heart-wrenchingly surge the filing cabinet of information that was no longer relevant to the new post.

I did not have the luxury of time to ponder and reflect on each piece of work as I stripped it from the files. I simply threw away the last 8 years of my journey as if it meant nothing. However, knowing I had the most important paper files backed up on disc was a consolation. I borrowed these and when I have more time to reflect I will salvage the files that contain my own creative self therein. I’ve been so busy that it hasn’t happened yet – apart from a frantic search through for information I required in regard to a worship writing project I undertook. It felt good to know that my work for the Methodist Circuit was still useful.

Almost at the end of this final day, my husband called into the office to pick up my personal adornments, ie, pictures and icons from the walls, books, cards, etc. When he left, I sat with a mug of tea looking around at the space, resting in the quiet, being in the moment, indulging in a little nostalgia. Then, I simply grabbed my bag, rose from the chair and walked out as if it was just another day – which it was really.

All the above had been interspersed with well wishes via cards and email messages from around the Circuit, from those people I have come to know and love, albeit with challenges along the bumpy way that only served to make my journey more rewarding as these were met.

I had numerous unexpected emotional moments, especially at the end of my final Circuit Meeting when I was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, which bloomed for 3 weeks afterwards. I still have the now dried multi-coloured petals from the rose in a keepsake box and, of course, photographs. I was unaware at the meeting that there was a monetary gift from all the churches inside the card I was given with the flowers as I didn’t open it until I got home. I hope everyone received my words of thanks via the email I sent to the ministers, circuit stewards and senior church stewards. (This would have been a good measure of the communication system I instilled in you all!).

My celebration continued after leaving the office for the last time on 27th March 2015 as cards and gifts kept arriving and, finally, on my favourite day in the Christian calendar (Maundy Thursday) I was taken for a farewell lunch at Raven Hall by the ministerial staff, where I received several surprise gifts. It was an emotional and beautiful farewell, and I felt much appreciated as a person.

I want to thank everyone in the Circuit (belatedly) for being part of my journey, not only in my working life but also for encouraging me in my walk of faith. I was not a Christian when I took up post on 8 January 2007 but that changed dramatically when, on 10 March 2007, I came to believe in Jesus Christ as my saviour. This single revelation has to be the highlight of my time working for the Circuit.

Almost there…

A project listed on my last blog has almost reached completion! HOORAH!

With a closing date for submissions of 28 July, I can now report that everything has been gathered in to bring the Scarborough Writers’ Circle Anthology 2015 to fruition. The anthology’s interior is in book format, cover design will be ready later today. All that’s required is for me to upload both to the publisher and off it goes. It will be 8 days before a proof can be delivered back to me for one of our eagle-eyed members to read through to check for errant typos – those annoying little errors that always seem to appear after a print run. Hopefully, we can capture these (if there are any!) before ordering that.

So… watch this space… initially for the appearance of the book cover so you can gaze at it whilst anticipating the temptation to investigate further when, on 1st October, the book should be available to purchase (at the cheapest price possible, I promise).

Many thanks for your patience, both to those who are awaiting this publication with bated breath, and to the contributors, my fellow writers with whom I share two hours on alternate Tuesdays at the Scarborough Writers’ Circle group meetings.

You are welcome to join us if you are interested in writing. Simply come along as a guest to any of our sessions.

More info at www.scarboroughwriterscircle.com (the website is in the midst of an update but you can still access it).

Many thanks for your interest.



Blog Neglect Alert!

The recent neglect of my social media sites is due entirely to my retirement from employment at the end of March this year. I have been engulfed in creative energy which has involved creating things for other people to enjoy (hopefully!). It’s like a burst of joy having time to spend on things I love doing though I am aware that I take too much on and need to focus on my own projects to get them finished. Come the end of September, I feel I will be in a position to do just that.

But first…

Remember the Peace Wall at Vernon Road Library. http://juliefairweather.co.uk/2015/04/wall-of-peace/ Well, I have now collated the hundred plus comments and photos from this and it will be on here for you to enjoy as soon as I set those into a presentation. This presentation is also to be interwoven with poetry/reflections about peace –  to be written and performed by local writers. Please watch this space – and the local press – for details of when and where that will be.

But second…

In relation to demonstrating my faith, I have prepared various talks to illustrate how my creativity links to my faith, i.e., ‘my creative faith’, some of which have been executed; others pending presentation at their destination venue. I hope to gather these together into pamphlet form for distribution as soon as time permits. I’m also coming to the closing stages of the creation of a prayer/meditation book… and I have a file of personal pilgrimage journal writing screaming out to become a collection of meditations. As well as writing, there is the ongoing preparation for the Sacred Space Prayer Station display at my local church.

But third…

I am overseeing an anthology of short stories and poems for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle, due to be published in autumn. This is at the stage of my bringing together all the SWC Members’ submissions into one document in book format, for a final proofread. The book’s cover, title and blurb will be decided by the whole group at a session I’m leading on 1st September.

Attempting to bring all of the above nearer to fruition became extremely challenging during the recent chaotic renovation of my flat – new kitchen, bathroom and heating system – which caused the most unbelievable mess of dust and rubble. Don’t get me started on it – please! I have a long list… not least having no quality concentration time for creativity.

I am so aware of the focus on mindfulness these days and being too busy to relax with a colouring book is a sign for me that I have taken too much on. I say this after enrolling on three pleasurable courses due to start at the end of September: Circle Dancing, Singing for Health and Well-being, and Drawing – the latter because I would like to use my own sketches for illustrating my projects. I will also be participating in a Poetry Salon – a new venture for winter months set up by two local poets/writers.

So, forgive me then for not keeping up with my blog… and other social media, I hasten to add. I have been too busy to spend time procrastinating (even with one of my favourite pastimes – colouring in my doodle books).

Colouring for adults is not a new thing. In fact, I bought several doodle colouring books from Boyes’ store in Scarborough ten years ago to aid relaxation for the management of stress/anxiety… so all the fuss about the new mindfulness creative colouring books is beyond me. The books from Boyes, by the way, were completed a long time ago. Now, when I colour, I doodle my own patterns. Remember how we created them in Reception Class? Simply, take your pencil and scribble a pattern … then colour it in. And here I am once more, making time for mindfulness colouring as a form of procrastination. Ah, bliss! Who knows what doodles I will be colouring in when I’ve completed the drawing course?

I hope my retirement lasts for a long time.   It needs to with all these things I have yet to enjoy.

See you soon on here… promise!

Wall of Peace

Putting the World to Rights at the Wall of Peace

This simple idea stemmed from a personal experience at a special service for peace that I attended last year. We were asked to use post-it notes to pin prayers for peace onto a wall and I asked myself: ‘how can I take a similar idea into the community?’ Answer: I could ask people ‘when you think of peace – what do you see?’ The perfect opportunity for this presented itself and the Wall of Peace in the Foyer at the Library during the Books by the Beach Festival April 2015 (when lots of visitors come to events there) was set up.

I also created a Facebook page to start the responses off by printing these out to pin on the wall at the onset of the event. (https://www.facebook.com/jmfairweather.co.uk). In addition, I received contributions via text and email from friends – including two from friends holidaying in Berlin (with photos of The Berlin Wall attached)!

The first day was quite slow as library users came and went, barely looking at the wall, and festival goers looked over suspiciously on their way up the stairs to the concert room where their chosen writer was speaking. I encouraged all those who glanced my way to come over and discover what it was about. It was an interesting day watching people’s first tentative steps to make a move towards the wall. The highlight of this particular day has to be a spontaneous truce between two people taking place at the wall – which made it all worthwhile.

On the second day, people were beginning to get used to me standing there, waiting to catch their eye, and they were more relaxed about coming forward – without being prompted in some cases. The same people tend to come in each day, as well as an additional mix of folk, and the regulars ambled over for a chat so I was able to coax them more naturally to complete a response through that. This second day saw varied individuals at the Wall of Peace, thus – to all these people in turn – I was a stranger, a friend, a confidante, a listening ear, a puzzle solver, a bag holder, a loo director, a pathfinder, a writer on behalf of those who couldn’t hold a pen, and so on. People have such fascinating complexities and I found it challenging to see who would walk in and talk to me next. I ended the day needing to trim the contributions down to make room for more. As an added bonus, I made several connections and contacts to help develop this project further.

On day 3, I felt I was coming to the end of my energy and was grateful for the ongoing cover support from the Scarborough Flare Committee – and a friend who continuously checked in to help out – which stopped me flagging.

As the library was closed to the public after 3pm on day 3 and the whole of day 4, we had to try not to encroach too much on loyal event goers and wait until they showed an interest before approaching them. However, many of them were happy to take a card and several brought them back to the wall as they left the building. So the end of day 3 saw more trimming and tidying of the contributions in preparation for the last day.

By day 4 the wall was pretty packed after a last trim and tidy before the final event of the Festival. Many event goers returned for the finale (Val McDermid) so most of these had already contributed a peace card though there were a few people writing cards as I left that event with more promising to return – therefore, the display will be left up until Friday 24th April.

The Peace Wall was a beautiful experience of community working together and a great team effort. I met some intriguing people with diverse opinions about peace – all of which will make for a good melting pot for the planned follow up performance from the responses. It is exciting to be part of something that started with a simple idea that the community embraced by their willingness to participate and develop together. I am looking forward to preparing the performance with fellow local writers and performers.

A notice will be available on social media, in the library and Scarborough News giving details of the performance date and venue a.s.a.p. It will be a free event with voluntary donations going to the Scarborough Amnesty Group.

(Please do call into the library up to 24.4.15 to read the responses and/or add one of your own.)

Julie Fairweather 21.4.15

Photos on Day 2, 3 and 4:

                                             Day 2 WoP

Day 3 WoPDay 4 WoP pre final event

Reaching a milestone… and letting go of a friend

Today I became as old as my mother was when she died – not that it’s my birthday – it’s 5 weeks from my (not telling) birthday – which was where my mum was at when she died. She was quite ill for the 2 years before her passing, being immobilised by a stroke… and other factors that I won’t go into here to save any embarrassment for family members. Mum could only move her right arm since her stroke, which she used to carry on her 50 a day smoking habit. Well, she had nothing else to do then, did she? She couldn’t let go of her friend. This is probably what contributed to her fatal chest infection.

I found myself thinking about my own ex-habit with a similar friend… whilst longing for this day to be over so I can finally rid myself of the psychology of reaching this particular milestone – 5 weeks before my (something/something) birthday. The fear of history repeating itself is strong in my family because it does tend to be a habit that we never learn any lessons from each others wrong choices.

I first met my friend behind the bike sheds at my secondary school. It felt so good to hold my friend between my fingers and suck in the calming properties between a pursed pout. Blowing rings of smoke was impressive and I won many a round of applause for perfecting the art. More than a friend really – it was a necessity, a fashion accessory. You were known as ‘cool’ and ‘in’ when you were seen out with one.

By the time I left school I was up to 5 a day but it didn’t bother me. I knew I could stop any time. I’d heard the old wives’ tales about it stunting your growth but that wasn’t serious was it? I could do with a bit of stunting as I was starting to put weight on. It couldn’t be serious could it? They sipped Martini on the adverts whilst holding a friend in the other hand. It was a social thing.

The years started rolling and my friend stuck by me through thick and thin, calming me down when I needed it, helping me relax. There was nothing to worry about I thought, though I did stop for a while because pregnancy made me feel sick and I couldn’t face my friend at all. It did save me a bit of money as I was on 10 a day by then. But, after the birth, I started to experience some strange feelings in my body – urges from the pit of my stomach – and my nerves were on edge. I couldn’t relax.

I looked for my old friend to comfort me and found an unopened pack in my pre-maternity drawer. It was empty by the end of the day. My brain had remembered how much it used to need to function. Oh, I felt fantastic – like my old self. I could face the world, do anything I wanted. Wonderful! Maybe there was some truth in those articles about its drug-like properties. There were no warnings on the packs back then so nothing to worry about.

Five more years and my intake had doubled. I had no money in my pocket for treats – I spent it all on my friend. Another five years and the coughing started – only a tickle – didn’t bother me – didn’t hurt. Ten years on and the addiction held fast. Then the warnings came out from the government. They were plastered all over the packs, the walls, and the news. Adverts were banned from TV – no smoking signs sprang up and multiplied like weeds. It was official. Smoking kills.

I felt okay though; so maybe I was immune to it all.

Two years hence and still holding, I began coughing up obnoxious fluids, couldn’t catch my breath, and my chest sometimes felt like it was exploding with pain.

I finally gave up my friend – after dad passed with cancer at the end of 2003 – but the damage was done. Diagnosed with angina in the 3rd month of stopping, I had a stent fitted in the offending artery in February 2005, suffered a heart attack in 2008, then in 2012 developed difficulty in breathing, initially diagnosed as asthma. It was a year before my body found a treatment to bring it under manageable control. By then I had another diagnosis: COPD (chronic obstructive airways disease).

I’m in REHAB at the moment – learning how to manage these diseases of my own doing… through education on exercise, breathing control, relaxation, diet, technique of taking inhalers, etc, etc.

It seems so far away from the days when I was puffing away on my friend, and as I wheeze my way through a life sentence with no cure for undoing the damage to my smoke filled arteries, I reflect on my life with my friend and wish I’d left it at school and gone my own way instead of being one of the in-crowd.

I really hate those damn bike sheds!

Giving up a friend

Writers on the Loose… well, one writer anyway

My recently performed readings with Writers on the Loose held at Taylor’s Cafe and Bookshop, Bar Street, Scarborough, are available as a FREE PDF download for visitors to my website.


I welcome feedback if you feel so inclined. 


After reading please visit my Publications page for the link to my complete collection at Amazon – where you can read the longer title story ‘Picking at the Bones’ from the ‘look inside’ link. The stories in the collection vary in length. Or simply click this link to take you there now.

PS  Kindle Version £1.84 not £1.79 as stated in PDF File.




Writers on the Loose are at it again…

A new selection of writing from Writers on the Loose will be performed at Taylor’s Cafe, Bar Street, Scarborough, at 6.30pm on Friday 12 September. Tickets £5 (to include a glass of prosecco – or alternative). Tickets are limited and will be available from Taylor’s from the afternoon of 11th August.

WotL Members (in alphabetical order):
Ian Baird, John Cooper, Julie Fairweather, Shirley Waite.