Just Frances

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    A day at Dirleton Castle - Oct 4th, 2015
    I spent yesterday exploring Dirleton Castle with a friend. It’s one of the nearby castles I’ve wanted to see for quite some time and I was so pleased to have someone to explore with who is just as silly as I am! We even managed a wee stop to see a few boats and gather some shells in Cockenzie. That last stop also counts as one of my stops along the Making Plans Goal of seeing those 14 amazing places near Edinburgh! [more...]

    Saving the best for last! - Sep 28th, 2015
    I ran my last Loch Ness Marathon yesterday. (Maybe.) And I accomplished a PB whilst doing it—which was totally unexpected. Even better, I am nowhere near as sore as I was the day after my first (and slowest) Loch Ness back in 2011. [more...]

    The love point - Sep 24th, 2015
    Once again, National Punctuation Day is upon us. And that means I am going to talk about one of my favourite things—punctuation! But I’m going to change things up this year by talking about punctuation as it (may) relate to love. Because we all need a bit of love (and punctuation) in our lives. [more...]

    Scottish half; take two - Sep 19th, 2015
    Today was my second time running the Scottish Half Marathon and my second half marathon of the month. Unfortunately, I was a bit slower than last year, but I did manage a better time than last weekend’s race. And with that, I only have one race to go for my September madness! [more...]

    Half BraemarAthon - Sep 13th, 2015
    My crazy month of races began today with the Braemar Half Marathon—after forgoing last weekend’s planned 10K in favour for a wee ride on the choo-choo train. I am a bit disappointed with my time, but as I went into the race with the plan to go slow and just finish, I’ll not complain too much. [more...]

    Choo-choo to Abbotsford - Sep 6th, 2015
    Today was opening day for the new Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank. And as I am a bit of a train buff who enjoys being “first” to try new things, it made sense that I should make the journey. So that’s exactly what I did today: I rode the rails between Edinburgh and Tweedbank. Along with all the other train geeks in Scotland! [more...]

    A very a-peel-ing day - Sep 5th, 2015
    I was chatting with my friend Iris yesterday and learned that she’d never been to—or heard of!—Linlithgow. And as it’s one of my favourite places, I needed to remedy that. (Which also means I'm keeping up on my desire to be more adventuresome.) So we boarded a train this morning to make the 20-minute journey to the ancient royal burgh. Once there, we wandered around the Linlithgow Peel—with a wee stop off at St Michael’s Parish Church and Linlithgow Palace, of course. [more...]

    The king has left the building - Sep 1st, 2015
    Today should be my Uncle King’s 53rd birthday. Only he left this world for the glory of Heaven a few days ago. I knew it was coming, as did he. But that doesn’t make his exit any easier. And so here I am, wondering what to do with the birthday card I bought him; wondering what to do with all of these tears. [more...]

    Balancing lonely and love - Aug 15th, 2015
    Some days, I think about how lonely I am, and about how I want to find someone to share my life with. I think about how I want to find someone I can love, and who will love me back; about how I want to find someone who makes my heart sing with a joy so loud that it drowns out the loneliness. Only it’s not all that easy to find that person. If it were, I wouldn’t still be alone after more than six years of widowhood. [more...]

    The brew master - Aug 9th, 2015
    I love beer. But I bet you probably knew that by now. Especially if you follow me on Untappd. I also love cooking and making edibles from scratch. I love learning, too. And I really love a good adventure. So yesterday, I combined all of those loves together for one great make-your-own-beer adventure. [more...]

    From Roslyn to Roslin to Rosslyn - Aug 2nd, 2015
    I grew up a couple of miles down the road from Roslyn, Washington. So when I first moved to Edinburgh in 2001, I was excited to learn that there was another Roslin here in Scotland, on the outskirts of the city. And since beginning my PhD, I’ve been living on a rural estate south of the city, and just two miles down the road from—you guessed it!—the Scottish Roslin. [more...]

    Training month - Aug 1st, 2015
    As September is a month of races, I’ve decided that I should probably make August a month of training for races. And so, I’ve started the month off with a seven mile run and I’m looking forward to increasing my mileage throughout the month. [more...]

    Blue moon demands - Jul 31st, 2015
    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but my parents were really mean when I was growing up. As in they were so mean that they denied us sugary cereals and junk food. And if we got soda, we had to share a can. (See, I told you they were mean.) When we got special treats, or when we asked for special treats, we were told those things are allowed “once in a blue moon”. [more...]

    Over the Pentlands - Jul 30th, 2015
    Remember when I mentioned I am going to have more adventures? And that I am going to fill up my diary with all sorts of fun things? Well, today was one of those adventuresome days! Even better, I managed to visit two of the 14 places BuzzFeed says I should try to see this summer. (Yay!) [more...]

    Making plans - Jul 28th, 2015
    I’ve talked a few times about my desire to build healthy routines for myself, to get out and be more active, and, of course, to prioritise myself a bit lot more. And I’m pleased to say that I’ve been working on all of those things over the past few weeks. In fact, I’ve been making all sorts of plans to ensure I keep filling up my diary! [more...]

    Preparing for September - Jul 26th, 2015
    At the start of the year, I began thinking about my 2015 running goals. I knew I would want to improve my times, and that I’d likely end the race season with the Loch Ness Marathon at the end of September. What I hadn’t realised is that my plans would slowly morph into me running a race every weekend in September, for a total of 58.6 race miles. [more...]

    Weekend jazz - Jul 19th, 2015
    The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival started on Friday, setting the tone (pun intended) for my weekend. I admit that the weekend has been slightly less active than originally planned, but the jazz quantities have been maintained, thanks to a well-stocked iPod. [more...]

    Juniper girls - Jul 16th, 2015
    Last night, I did something I (almost) never do: I enjoyed mid-week cocktails with “the girls”. Or rather, with a random group of girls, some of whom I had never before met. All thanks to an online voucher deal and Facebook. (See, the Interweb can be a very good thing!) [more...]

    Dress like today is important - Jul 14th, 2015
    Over the last several months, I got into the habit of wearing jeans most days. And that slowly led to jeans and a casual top. And that soon led to jeans, a casual top, and sneakers. Which soon led to hair-in-a-messy-bun. Which soon led to me feeling a bit old and frumpy when I left the house. [more...]

    Real ale, Scottish style - Jul 11th, 2015
    I went to the Scottish Real Ale Festival with a couple of friends today. I always enjoy beer festivals because they’re a great opportunity to try new brew and meet new people—both of which were done today! [more...]

    The jazz plan - Jul 9th, 2015
    As part of my plan to have more adventures—even if I have to have them alone—I picked up a programme for the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. And I’ve marked some gigs I’m interested in attending. And I even added them to my calendar. Now, I just need to find the courage to actually go to the various shows on my own. [more...]

    Polka dots and beads - Jul 8th, 2015
    Once again, my work day saw me walking to-and-from my office for all-important errands. And, once again, I seem to have stumbled into a charity shop (or two) along the way. [more...]

    Lost and found - Jul 6th, 2015
    I had a meeting in town today, and on the way back to my office I managed to get a little lost when I took the wrong path through The Meadows. I didn’t realise it until I emerged at the main road and the crossing was different than what I’d expected. [more...]

    Tasty tots - Jul 5th, 2015
    I love tater tots. I love, love, love them. They are an amazingly delicious treat and I would eat them all the time if I could. Only I live in Scotland. And Scotland doesn’t do tots. In fact, they don’t even know what tots are. So if I want tots, I have to make them myself. Which is what I did for the first time today. (Yum!) [more...]

    An American flag in Scotland - Jul 4th, 2015
    Today is Independence Day in America; the day we stood up against The Crown to demand self-rule. As a proud American, this is a very important day for me. But as an expat American living in Scotland, it’s a little difficult to find a traditional Independence Day celebration, so I did something a little untraditional. [more...]

    Certifiably sane - Jul 3rd, 2015
    For nearly two years now, I’ve been experiencing an extreme amount of stress. Some days and weeks have been harder than others, but there hasn’t really been a period of un-stressed time. And a few months ago, the stress got so bad that I was struggling to function. [more...]

    Happy things - Jul 2nd, 2015
    It’s day two of Journaling July and I’m running out of time to journal. Worse, I don’t really have anything to journal about. So, I thought I’d look at the photos on my phone for inspiration. And that’s when I saw the folder “happy things” where I store photos of random things that make me smile. [more...]

    Journaling July - Jul 1st, 2015
    Regular Just Frances readers may have noticed that I haven’t been writing on a regular basis lately. In fact, they may have noticed that I’ve had a couple of irregular writing periods over the last year or two. But I’m going to change that this month by journaling the entire month. (Subscribers, you can unsubscribe if daily posts are too much for you!) [more...]

    Adventuresome - Jun 29th, 2015
    I want to have adventures. Ideally, I want to have some of those adventures with someone I love. Or at least I’d like to have some of those more of those adventures with friends. But since I’ve managed to be an absolute failure in finding new love, and the vast majority of my adventure-having friends are loved-up (or have children or are very busy or all of the above), I only have two choices: Skip the adventures or go on adventures alone. [more...]

    Friends and forces - Jun 28th, 2015
    I went into town yesterday for Edinburgh’s Armed Forces Day parade and celebration. I had put the event in my calendar weeks ago, and intended to go alone [enter pathetic violin music here] but ended up spending much of my time with friends. [more...]

    Coffee me happy - Jun 7th, 2015
    As part of my desire to create better, healthier routines for my physical and mental well-being, I decided I needed to get back into the habit of enjoying my morning routine. After all, I need something to entice me out of bed in the mornings. And since the only thing I’ve consistently done every morning for the majority of my adult life is to drink a cup of coffee, I decided that I would pin my morning routine on that. [more...]

    The tears of Tabata - Jun 4th, 2015
    I joined a gym last year with the aim of improving my overall physical health. At the time, I eschewed the idea of taking any of the classes they offered because I don’t enjoy group exercise. But I decided a couple of weeks ago that maybe I should give it a try, in the hopes that it would be a motivator as well as a core-strengthener. [more...]

    Edinburgh half: Take three - Jun 1st, 2015
    Yesterday was my third running of the Edinburgh Half Marathon. It wasn’t my best showing, but it wasn’t my worst. But I’m actually really pleased with my time and my overall performance. [more...]

    I laughed - May 21st, 2015
    Ten years ago today, I became Mrs Ryan. I stood there at the altar in front of God, family, and friends—with my beloved Paul beside me—and I laughed. Oh, how I laughed. [more...]

    A religious day in Glasgow - May 17th, 2015
    I went to Glasgow for a bit of museum-ing yesterday as part of my efforts to get out of the house a bit more. I didn’t have a real plan for my visit, but I expected that I would enjoy myself—and the day did not disappoint! [more...]

    Time for new routines - May 10th, 2015
    I mentioned a while back that my life was suffering because I was unable (and in some ways, unwilling) to set a few routines for myself. So I’ve been kind of floating around for the last couple of years. And it’s had a very negative impact on my overall physical and mental well-being. [more...]

    Alarming nightmares - May 6th, 2015
    For the last six years, I have experienced a wide variety of what I call “widow dreams”. Some are more upsetting than others, but they are rarely (and in fact, almost never!) panicked nightmares. And, for the most part, the dreams don’t impact my overall sleep patterns. [more...]

    Deletion therapy - May 3rd, 2015
    Clutter is everywhere. It’s in our closets. It’s in our kitchen cupboards. It’s in our bathroom cabinets. It’s in our desk drawers. It’s in our glove boxes, garden sheds, attics, and handbags. Clutter has taken over our physical space. And it has taken over our digital space, too. [more...]

    Between sleep and awake - Apr 25th, 2015
    I rolled over this morning in a sleepy haze to snuggle up to Paul, sure he would be there lying next to me. But he wasn’t there—I was merely fooled by that moment in between sleep and awake; that moment when your realities merge into a peaceful memory of what once was. [more...]

    The difference in grief - Apr 19th, 2015
    Eight years ago today, my dear friend Joe passed away. And next Sunday will mark the sixth anniversary of my beloved husband, Paul’s, death. And I am very aware of how different my emotions are for each death; for each set of memories. [more...]

    Resetting routines - Apr 13th, 2015
    I spoke the other day about the higher-than-normal levels of personal stress I’m experiencing, and that I feel I need a break from my current way of life to re-set my soul. Part of the problem is that I’ve been unable (unwilling? unmotivated?) to create a routine over the past 18 months. [more...]

    Breaking points - Apr 9th, 2015
    Life is hard these days and sometimes I wonder what my limits are. Sometimes I wonder how many more disappointments and frustrations I can manage before I reach my breaking point. And, to be completely honest, I’ve felt very close to finding out in recent weeks and months. [more...]

    Carving out time - Apr 6th, 2015
    I carved out time in my Easter weekend to travel to Stirling for lunch with friends today. Afterwards we went for a wee wander around the Back Walk at Stirling Castle and, to my pure joy and amusement, there were several new carvings along the walk to enjoy! [more...]

    An Easter treasure hunt - Apr 5th, 2015
    As the Easter Bunny didn’t leave me any eggs to find at home today, I had to arrange for a wee treasure hunt of my own. And I did it in the way of a geocache near where I live. [more...]

    Close call - Apr 4th, 2015
    I spent the day walking to-and-from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, following the various closes, wynds, and steps as I went along. The initial inspiration came from a post on Healthy Edinburgh’s blog about an “urban step class”, which then led me to an idea to explore every single close off the Royal Mile. But as I investigated my route and thought about the best way to tackle my objective, my plan changed. [more...]

    A widow dating rant - Mar 28th, 2015
    I think one of the hardest things about dating as a widow(er) is the guilt that comes along with it. Worse is that some of the guilt comes from other people—and is sometimes laced with a bit of shame for good measure. And it means that the already emotionally charged act of dating is complicated by the confluence of so many negative and frightening emotions. [more...]

    My PKD story - Mar 11th, 2015
    As part of World Kidney Day and National Kidney Month, the PKD Foundation has asked people to share their PKD story. This is mine. [more...]

    Half a disappointment - Mar 9th, 2015
    Yesterday was my first race of the year, and was my slowest-ever half marathon. I am, to say the least, disappointed. Still, I finished the 31st annual Inverness Half Marathon and I feel good for having done so. [more...]

    The Wardlaw Mausoleum - Mar 7th, 2015
    I’m up in Kirkhill this weekend for tomorrow’s Inverness Half Marathon, and have managed to get a bit of sightseeing in—along with the obligatory pre-race carb training. And, of course, I’ve been enjoying the fabulous company of fabulous friends. (And some fabulous cooking, too.) [more...]

    Edinburgh’s Wild West - Mar 5th, 2015
    I finally got around to downloading the Geocaching app on my phone, which means I can do a bit of urban geocaching now. It also means that I get to learn about quirky little places I might otherwise never know about. Which is exactly what happened today when I found myself on what could be mistaken as a low-budget movie set. [more...]

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