Bored? Don’t Be! Here are the Top 5 Things you should be doing right now.

As the summer break approaches the halfway mark, you can be one of two types of people; those who live to seek out more things while there is still time, and those who lie and wait for something to pull them out of their approaching autumn blues. Regardless of how proactive you are, it can be still very easy to miss the hidden treasures that surround you, and of course the great events that are ready to be experienced and the landmarks to be explored.

imageSpeaking solely for myself, I find pleasure in 5 simple things…Theatre, Literature, Fashion, Culture and Food. And when you thing about it…maybe these little moments of gratification could become yours too.

Everyone wants that feeling of happiness that comes from doing something you have always wished to do, finally getting that article of clothing you’ve had your eye on all this time, visiting a place of beauty, catching up with friends and family at your favorite cafe, or even reading a book that speaks to you personally.

For all the peeps back home, here are my TOP 5 THINGS happening right now:

1) THEATRE: It’s Wine O’ Clock at The Iontas Arts and Community Resource Centre, Castleblayney, County Monaghan

imageIt goes without saying that the Nuala and Noleen hype has got us all full of excitement and anticipation at what their next stunt, skit or on-stage show will be. One thing is for sure, they are sure to please us each time with their hilarious characters, and wild antics. Their latest show has went down a storm so far; with sell-out performances North and South of the Border, and now its coming to the Iontas in Castleblayney, to dish out tonnes of belly-aching laughs and moments of outright hilarity.

The show welcomes you to the craziest wedding of the year! Vera, the farmers wife who is so excited that her only son Seamus is getting married, has invited you all to the special day. Attending also are the farmers Pat and Eamon, the Bridesmaids, the Yummy Mummies, the Grannies, and of course Nuala and Noleen who are always looking for love. The shenanigans that go down and the situations each character find themselves in, will have you raising the roof with laughter and applause.

It all goes down FRIDAY 10th November @ 8PM. Get your tickets by clicking HERE.

 

 

2) FASHION: Couture Grandeur Newry Road, Crossmaglen (SUPER SUMMER SALE)

Ladies and Gents…correct me if I’m wrong, but we all aim for a little sprinkle of magic when it comes to our wardrobe selection, and love to know how smart, cute, sexy, handsome or sophisticated we look in a new number we have just added to the collection.

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In the words of fashion supermodel Miranda Kerr“…fashion doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated – just worn with grace and confidence.”

And what better place to embrace your inner style goddess than at Couture Grandeur. Even better, word has traveled my way that their SUMMER SALE has now started. Yes, you heard right people, prices have been slashed to Up To 70% OFF summer stock, as well as well as dresses and formal wear by up to 50% OFF.

 

We all love a great deal…even better when you’ve had your eye on something for so long, and now its right at your finger tips for a fabulous, affordable price. As you may all know, Couture Grandeur fashion has been racking up wonderful recognition for Best Dressed Ladies at the official races in Ireland, and now these award winning pieces could be yours, at a fraction of the original price.

 

And fret not people…there are shoes also. This is my ultimate weakness…my Kryptonite in many ways. Who can have ‘enough’ shoes? Not me, that’s for sure. And with this footwear being reduced to 10,15 and 20 pound, I am just jealous that you are able to avail of this opportunity, when I am thousands of miles across the ocean.

With Couture Grandeur going from strength to strength, I cannot wait to see what awaits the public for the Autumn/Fall Line. Until then… get down there and GET SHOPPING, whilst this incredible stock lasts.

 

3) CULTURE: Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze in Castlewellan, County Down

Each time I see photographs of this historical and natural wonder, I am in awe of the beauty of how much it has to offer. For many people, we take these tourist attractions for granted, or even dismiss them, as we know little about their history or origins.

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However, as home to one of Northern Ireland’s most famous lakes, a stunning Victorian Castle, incredible panoramic views, scenic walking trails, 27km of Mountain Bike Trails, Nature Park perfect for the kids, an onsite multi-activity centre, a breath-taking hedge maze and equestrian centre, Castlewellan Forest Park boasts all of this and more; making it a must-see for all ages.

imageThe castle itself is an architectural treasure and to me, the perfect set for Hollywood movies. With the beauty of the surroundings, anyones creative ideas would spring to life on their first visit to the 19th Century stronghold. However, the main attraction that has everybody talking, has to be The Peace Maze. The Peace Maze is located on the grounds of the castle, and is in fact one of the largest permanent hedge mazes in the entire world. The maze represents the path to the peaceful future of Northern Ireland. Planted in 2000, it is now the intended height for public enjoyment. Visitors are encouraged to enter the maze and try to make their way to the centre, where a bell awaits to be rang. The hedge maze is a wonderful representation of how agreement and harmony can be achieved, if you put your mind to it, be open of the challenges that lie ahead, accept your mistakes and move on to achieve a common goal.

This is a definite must see for not only natives but visitors too. More information can be found by clicking HERE.

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4) LITERATURE: The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan

Huh? The Waiting Tree, I hear you ask? I know, I thought the same too. Not once did I ever see this book advertised on the shelves back home, or even in the book stores of Toronto. But thanks to the generosity of a close friend, she kindly gave me this novel to read…and since starting it, I cannot put it down.

This incredible book is the story of 18 year old Simon Peters, who falls in love with Stephen Levesque. When Stephen’s parents discover that they have been having a romantic relationship, they ship him of to Christian Center to “see the error of his ways” and be “normalized.”

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But Simon can’t let him disappear from his life.  He needs him and ‘the heart wants what the heart wants.” With his parents recently deceased and his brothers picking up the responsibility to raise the rest of the family, Simon’s mute twin, Jude, shows him that the secret to setting him free, lies within a tree at the bottom of their garden…The Waiting Tree.

imageThe Waiting Tree is a wonderful book for anyone to read, but especially for those struggling to come to terms with their feelings of who they are. Whether you are from a small community who doesn’t accept you, or from a family who fails to make peace with your happiness, there is always comfort in the written word. Stories have a way of helping us find hope, whether it is fictionalized or not. And this is no exception.

 

5) FOOD: Jackie’s Cafe at The Market Square, Dundalk, County Louth

Still to this day, I am so glad I came across this gorgeous, chic-style cafe on a day out with my mum. In an area we always frequented, we never seemed to venture beyond its doors, as it was always so busy during the mid-day coffee rush and lunch breaks.

But to my delight, we finally got to try it out and since then, I would not go to any other cafe in Dundalk for a bite to eat.

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Not only is the selection of food wonderful; appealing to everyone, but it tastes unbelievable as well. With warm daily specials, as well as a huge selection of salads, sandwiches, deserts, coffees and teas, baked goods and gluten free/vegetarian options, this culinary gem is a must stop on every visit to the town.

For the extremely reasonable prices, the portions are so generous, that you are genuinely satisfied for the whole day. But most of all, its the staff that brings the customers back again and again. They cheerful attitude and friendly manner is so obvious when you enter the establishment, that you are already subconsciously planning your next visit before you even order. My favorite part of all my visits is the one thing  that clientele love, and that is how staff remember you personally. With each visit, your time there is individually personalized and you are made feel welcome and appreciated.

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When I moved to Toronto, the one thing I wished to take with me was Jackie’s Cafe, as nothing has beaten it yet in the 16 months I have been away…so that just shows how good it is.

Next time you are in Dundalk, make sure to drop by and see for yourselves why this place is as good as it sounds.

SO THERE WE GO MY IRISH FAIRY FOLLOWERS, MY TOP 5 THINGS TO DO RIGHT NOW. GET GOING AND SEE WHICH ONE OF YOU GETS TO EXPERIENCE ALL 5 OF MY FAVORITES.

xoxoxoxo

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Being Emily: LGBT Book Review

imageHave you ever wondered what it would be like to be born into a body that did not match who you really were? Imagine the emotions, feelings, fears and internal struggle that would live with you throughout your existence.

Many people would argue that no one is happy with the body they were born with; that there is always an aspect of their body that they’re unhappy with. However, what if that little issue was your gender? Your biological sex determines several things in life; be that from your upbringing, to society’s expectations of you, and from restrictions of fashion style to controlled barriers of emotion.

However, your gender identity is who you feel inside. Do you feel like a boy or girl, a man or woman? Hard concept to grasp? For many it is, for others it is not. A huge number of people in this vast world live their lives, growing up feeling that their assigned gender at birth does match with what and whom they feel inside. They feel that they have been dealt a difficult hand from the very beginning…and forces beyond their control prevent them from allowing themselves to be their true selves.

I have always been in search for a book that portrayed Transgenderism for what it is. NOT a phase, NOT a choice, NOT a fashion statement and most certainly NOT an abnormal mental condition. As a lover of all things fiction, I searched for a novel that would show the reader that being transgender is not a choice. It is simply a necessary & inevitable way of life that allows the particular person to find out who they truly are, embrace themselves with love and most of all, plan their lives from this moment on; through the acceptance and kindness of others.

imageAfter a long search, I was recommended to read a book that was published in 2012 by the author Rachel Gold, called BEING EMILY. The novel is written in memoir format, as if they are looking back on the journey they have come so far. “Being Emily” follows the story of Chris, a 17 year old boy living in Minnesota, USA. To everyone, Chris is a happy guy. He swims for his local swimming team, has many friends, has a girlfriend who adores him and a close-knit family.

What more could he want? Well that’s the trouble. Chris,deep down, knows he is not Chris. Ever since he was a child, he dreamt of growing up and transforming into the girl he always knew he was. For he always felt that he was a female trapped within a male body, and the person screaming to get out…was EMILY.

As I read, from one chapter to another, I could not help but well-up at the developments. When Chris finally accepts that 17 years is enough of playing a role that was not meant for him, he eventually brings Emily to life, by revealing his feelings to others.

The book is fantastic and one of the best I have ever read, as it documents Emily’s transition perfectly. From the moment she tells her girlfriend Claire that she is transgender, to finding a therapist & support network of people like her to feel loved and accepted. From when she meets Natalie, a pre-op trans girl her own age that welcomes her into the world of being a woman, to the inevitable moment that has been building up from Chapter 1…the disclosure of Emily to her parents.

The novel is perfectly constructed to detail Emily’s transition from male to female, as the first half of the book shows us the internal struggle she has with herself and her fears of telling others she no longer wants to be son and boyfriend that people have come to know her as. However, it is the second half of this masterpiece that had the biggest effect on me. After revealing Emily from behind the mask of Chris, the book then follows the loving support of those few individuals around her, but also the discrimination, the prejudice and the hurt caused from those who refuse to accept.

With the strain that her announcement puts on her relationship with her family, it only highlights to the reader the importance of finding a safe network during transition. At the end of the book, we get to find out what eventually happened to Emily…did she become the girl she always dreamt of, does her parents come to accept her no longer as their son, but daughter, and most importantly what is the message for those who feel the same way?

In a time where being transgender is slowly getting accepted more by others, it is important to look back on how far we have come as a society. Every day we are introduced to someone who identifies as transgender, whether they are just coming out, in transition or those who have completed their transformation. This is what makes me love this world, as it would be very boring if we were all the exact same. It’s what makes the world colourful, bright and ever-changing.

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Many media sources claim that “being transgender” has become popular or fashionable within western society today and ‘that’ is why there is this peak in numbers, in recent years. My opinion on this is that “being transgender” is not what has become popular, whereas “being acceptable” and “being human” has.

With transgender icons and role models such as Laverne Cox, an award winning actress for her role as Sophia in Orange is the new Black, to the stunning actress Candis Cayne who graces the screen in both TV drama and reality, we get to see their true talents and qualities shine.

Also, an important thing I got from the novel was that there is always someone out there to talk to. With transgender youtube royalty such as GiGi Gorgeous and Maya (@Transmermaidx), there is no limit on the information and support you can get from these people, with just a simple click or tweet. Whether it’s an online friend who is in the same boat as you, or even a social media site that allows like-minded people to spread their love and guidance…talking to someone is the first step.

Only through the love, acceptance and support of today’s world, can these beautiful people be able to escape from the confines of their former cocoon and emerge as the wonderful butterfly they were always destined to be.

Being Emily by Rachel Gold, can be purchased in any bookstore worldwide. Hard copies as well as kindle editions of this book are also available via Amazon online.

Happy reading everyone…and remember…in the worlds of the famous Oscar Wilde…

“Be yourself…everyone else is already taken.”

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