Saturday 31 March 2018


I find it quite difficult to write at times. Often, when I look at this blog I wonder what it's all actually about. I stare at the menu on the top of the page and instead of seeing hours upon hours of work and thought and an inability to want to dedicate myself to being only a food blog or a travel log or a gardening advice column, I see a messy amalgamation of all of those things along with whatever else I feel like throwing in at the time.

If I'm in a positive mood, it doesn't bother me that there is such a mix of items and topics that interest me that all come together on a public space where I feel happy to share, help and dive into. When I'm in a doubtful or negative head space like this morning, however, my monkey mind would rather spend three hours deliberating over ripping the entire blog layout to shreds, deleting entire sections.

(read: "What the hell is Kai folk anyway? WHEN exactly did I think I was going to do an entire series of gardening and sustainability blogs? Wouldn't it be better to have separate blogs for each area of interest? No, we've been through this; that's far too complicated. It's better to keep everything in one place. You're not three different people. You're the one Grace and these are all the areas you're interested in. So what if it's a little confusing. It's not a business! It may as well be. There's no way we can write a new blogpost after a year's absence. What were you thinking? This is such a mess. Oh F@?K it we just won't bother at all").

Still there?

That's my brain. That's what it sounds like on an almost daily basis. The to and fro, wish wash of my mind.

January last year. That's the last time I wrote here. There have been other gaps and breaks and I'm usually inclined to apologize for such absences. Readers of this blog have read the reasons why. They normally involve a loss of creativity or zest for life, a stolen camera, a broken heart or a forgotten job. Rarely do the reasons for coming back to this space involve a sense of obligation. No one is forcing me to write here. There is no editor to check my words or tone, no boss to appease, no approaching deadline to meet. It's just me and often when life is dealing me a hard blow (read challenge/life lesson), I don't feel like writing and so I stop.

I may not feel like writing but neither do I feel like stopping. In fact, I am usually fully aware that writing is what will save me, carry me through the darkness, help me to make sense of the situation I find myself in and lead me towards a clearer, brighter image of what's actually going on in my life. Writing will guide me to the truth of the situation. And yet I stop. Stop writing my feelings, stop taking a step back, stop letting my creative voice have a say instead of the analytical and critical one that is so dominantly prevalent.

And so a year went by. Last year was a blur of upset, isolation, darkness, struggle, panic and fear. What a year! I had gut issues, allergies, fatigue, intense apathy and agoraphobia. I had days when the sun came out where I was surfing, laughing, volunteering, cheering on friends, going to weddings and parties and greeting customers at work. I was swimming in the sea and watching sunsets and having heart to hearts. I was planning retreats and fitness regimes. Slowly at first and then like an inevitable avalanche, it all came tumbling down. These things happen. They seem to happen a lot to me but there is also so much to be thankful for about last year.

True friends rallied around once more. They didn't sigh and comment that my struggle with dealing with anxiety and depression had crashed "again". They hugged and listened and made cake and lots of tea. They visited and stayed in touched and didn't judge. Family supported and listened and made an effort to learn more about my condition than ever before. I admitted to myself that planning my life with such rigidity and declaring that with every new move "this was it", I was going to be happy forever in this chosen spot, was no longer the way to go, to live, to be.

Lahinch and the wonderful friends I've made in the year and half I was there, will always be important to me. I'll visit and enjoy its beauty and wildness and feel blessed to have faces to look forward to looking out for, doors to knock on, tea to drink, pancakes to eat, waves to surf and share with friends and beds to sleep in and I am thankful.

I realized I needed somewhere out of my comfort zone where I could work, be warm, be relatively close to home and take time for myself.

For the last two months, I've been in Valencia in Spain. An underdog of a city when you compare it to the mighty size of Madrid or the party and art scene of Barcelona, it's a manageable, creative little bubble of a port city. A park set in the dried out river bed runs through and loops around the city. There's a beach thirty minutes away by bus that has long stretches of Mediterranean sand and sometimes, some pretty good waves. Fruit and veg are cheap, beers are drunk by everyone at 11 am and there are bocadillos, bakeries and hairdressers everywhere.

It's manageable, friendly, fun and now that Easter is here, it's also starting to get warm. I have a job where I can work and plan and save and for now, it's lovely to rest. It may seem like quite a simple and maybe even boring life here to some but for me, right now, it couldn't be better.

Week by week, I can look back and realize I'm stronger than I ever thought I was. I've been to more official police, tax and government offices than I can count. I've meandered my way through bureaucracy through limited Spanish and come out the other end unscathed with a health card, tax number, social security number and pay check in tow. For me, that's all progress.

The pace in Valencia is much more serious than the horizontal attitude in Andalucia or the irresponsibility loving Barcelonians but it is teaching me very important lesson that I never would have learnt in Ireland last year or now. Poco a poco. Little by little.

I'm giving myself these next few months to get back on my feet, ground down into the earth and connect with myself and what I want. I'm giving myself a breather financially and I'm also giving myself time to reconnect with writing. I wish I hadn't stopped last year but at least now I know how important and fundamental it was all along.

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