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    Grief and the art of “moving forward” - Oct 15th, 2017
    I am a widow. I was widowed when I was a young woman of 35 and my life has never been the same since. In the blink of an eye, I went from eagerly awaiting becoming an adoptive parent with my amazing husband to being a grieving widow. [more...]

    An ambitious October - Oct 1st, 2017
    After returning from my Homeland Holidays at the end of August, I had great hopes for a spectacular September for my PhD. Only I got sick that first week and spent the whole of the month recovering from my visit to my deathbed. Sadly, that less-than-spectacular September means that I need to have an overly ambitious October to catch up. [more...]

    Exploring the past: Greenwood Cemetery - Sep 29th, 2017
    I spent a bit of time exploring the “old” Cle Elum cemetery when I was in the Homeland this summer. And in doing so (and talking about it with others on Facebook) I realised that not many people know about the place. So I’ve decided to share as much information as I can—with a hope that others will chime in to share any information they have. The abandoned graveyard, Greenwood Cemetery, was an active burial place for people in the Upper Kittitas County area from 1903 until 1923 when Laurel Hill Memorial Park became the main cemetery. When Greenwood closed, most of the inhabitants of the graves were moved to Laurel Hill. Most, but not all. [more...]

    Tolvaptan tales: A four-month reflection - Sep 16th, 2017
    It has been about four months since I started taking tolvaptan, which is a great opportunity for an update. As with the post I shared about my experiences in the first month, the information shared here is meant as an information starting point. It is not medical advice; it is simply one woman’s experiences. Your own experiences may vary. [more...]

    The holiday ends here - Aug 29th, 2017
    After three wonderful weeks in the Homeland, I am heading home to my Heartland of Scotland. My bags are packed, I’ve checked in at the airport, and I’m waiting for my flight to board. And I am crying. As I always do when I say goodbye to my parents. [more...]

    Summer reunions in the Homeland - Aug 27th, 2017
    One of the great things about my American holidays this year has been the reunions. Each of my three weekends has brought another group together, which means that I have been able to catch up with a lot of people with ease. [more...]

    Caching up with Parker and Haden - Aug 26th, 2017
    Holidays to the Homeland means time with my nieces and nephews. I treasure that time as it allows me to catch up with what everyone is doing—especially as they’re all growing up and starting to live their lives as adults. My catching up time with Parker and Haden was especially treasured, as I got to introduce both of them to geocaching. So in addition to catching up, we got to cache up! (I am so punny!) [more...]

    Caching up on the Old Highway - Aug 24th, 2017
    Before my trip to the Homeland, I checked out the local geocaches to see what new adventures I could enjoy. That’s when I found that there was a trail of 24 caches along the Old Highway that links Upper and Lower Counties. But as my holiday has progressed, I began to wonder if I would have time to enjoy the trail. [more...]

    Casting shadows as the sun disappears - Aug 21st, 2017
    Today was one of those “once in a lifetime” moments that I hope (and expect!) will happen more than once in my lifetime: A total eclipse of the sun! It’s something that happens fairly often in the grand scheme of things, but it’s not all too often that it happens at a time and place that allows me to enjoy the wonderment. Of course, if it weren’t for the fact that I am in my Homeland for a holiday, I would have missed this year’s Spectacular Event! [more...]

    A Sunday hike to Pete Lake - Aug 13th, 2017
    I always knew how lucky I was to grow up in the beauty of Upper Kittitas County. I loved that I could escape into the woods around town during the summer. I loved that I could relax in the quiet bliss of nature. I loved knowing that my backyard was the whole of the Cle Elum Ridge and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I loved that I could just hike in the great wilderness that surrounded me. Anywhere, anytime. [more...]

    Child at play - Aug 9th, 2017
    I’m in my Homeland for three weeks and that means I’m ready for some playtime! This is my first visit home since my Daddy’s 70th birthday party and my first visit home in nice weather. And that means that my beloved bike, Sarafina, gets to come out to play with me! [more...]

    The holiday starts here - Aug 7th, 2017
    After nearly three years, I am finally heading home to America for a holiday. My bags are packed, my tickets are printed, and my excitement levels are high. And, apparently, there is a cold root beer waiting for me on the other side of the customs and immigration barriers. (Along with hugs from my parents.) Yay! [more...]

    Back to Blackness - Jul 22nd, 2017
    I was invited out for a mini-adventure with a friend and her kids. And as you know, I can rarely turn down an offer for an adventure! So, it was off to Blackness Castle we went. It was the first visit for my adventure partners, but I was going back to someplace I’ve been before. [more...]

    Falkirk for a fortnight - Jul 20th, 2017
    I have just returned home after two weeks in Falkirk where I was house sitting (whilst taking orders from the resident cat, Phoebe). It was a nice little break away from my typical routine and gave me the opportunity to “live alone” for a short time. It was also a great way to focus my brain on a grant proposal I’m working on. Importantly, it was also an opportunity to finally see a bit of Falkirk. [more...]

    Busy presenting - Jul 3rd, 2017
    In recent weeks, I have been busy presenting work related to my PhD. The first two of these presentations were as workshops designed to help others understand how to manage their online information. The second two presentations were sharing the findings from my empirical work as an academic poster and a conference paper. I think that Just Frances readers might enjoy some of the materials I sent, so I’ve decided to share a bit about it here. [more...]

    It was his loss, too - Jun 16th, 2017
    When we think about the grieving that happens after the death of a loved one, we often think about the suffering those left behind are left to face. And certainly, that is what’s talked about most. We talk about our pain; we talk about our changed paths; we talk about what we lost and we’ll miss out on. Because when we grieve, we’re not just grieving the loss of our loved one; we’re grieving the loss of the life we had; the life we planned. [more...]

    Tolvaptan tales: The beginning - Jun 10th, 2017
    Last month I shared that I was getting ready to start a new medication called tolvaptan. The drug is meant to slow the progression of my kidney disease (polycystic kidney disease, or PKD) which is the best I can hope for as there is no cure for it (yet). I struggled to find any good, in-depth reviews before starting the drug, so I decided to share my experiences here. [more...]

    Toasting twelve years - May 22nd, 2017
    Yesterday was (would have been?) my 12th wedding anniversary. And much like last year, I spent the day distracting myself with my PhD before taking some time to reflect and remember my happy days as a happy wife. This year was a bit different, however, as I didn’t spend the day alone. Instead, I travelled to Falkirk in the afternoon after spending the morning in my office. [more...]

    Talkin’ tolvaptan - May 11th, 2017
    Tomorrow morning, I will start taking a new drug called tolvaptan, which is meant to slow the progression of my kidney disease. When I was first recommended for the drug, I went in search of some user experiences online. But my search didn’t bring up any blog posts or laypersons’ stories and testimonials. So I’ve decided I would get my experiences out there for the next person Googling about tolvaptan and PKD! I will try to share a couple (maybe a few) progress updates, too. All posts related to my experience with tolvaptan will be tagged as such, in addition to my general PKD tag. [more...]

    Mental Health Awareness week: Knowing my limits - May 8th, 2017
    It is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK, so I thought I’d share a bit about my recent efforts to keep my mental health in check. As someone who does not live with mental illness, keeping things in check is a bit easier for me. But as someone who lives a largely isolated and lonely life, I am aware that if I do not make concerted efforts to maintain my mental health, I could well end up with mental illness. [more...]

    May madness - May 1st, 2017
    As I enter the lovely month of May, I am aware that it will be a manic month filled with mayhem and madness. There is so much to be done and I know that I risk becoming overwhelmed and stressed because of it. So, I’ve decided to embrace May’s madness from the start because I manage better when I know I’m entering a mentally challenging time. [more...]

    A shattered heart, still beating - Apr 26th, 2017
    Today marks eight years since his heart stopped beating. And in that very same moment, my own heart shattered into a million pieces. Remarkably, my shattered heart still beats… though I don’t know how that is possible, as a part of me died at that same moment, too. [more...]

    A fairly fun weekend - Apr 24th, 2017
    I have been trying to get out for mini-adventures a bit more often and am pleased to say that I managed two of them this weekend! (Don’t worry: I also managed to get some of my thesis written along with some work on my non-thesis PhD tasks!) [more...]

    Tilted eyes - Apr 17th, 2017
    When I went to see an optometrist last November, I did so expecting to be told that my eyes had deteriorated slightly, as would be expected with age. (The fact that my last eye exam was six years prior made this expectation even greater.) And in fact, I was told that they had deteriorated. Slightly. Ever so slightly. In fact, a lot more “slightly” than would be expected over the course of six years for a woman of [cough, cough] my age. [more...]

    Caching around Rosshall Park - Apr 8th, 2017
    I’m in Glasgow for a much-needed writing retreat (and a bit of cat-sitting). And one of the things that helps to keep me going on writing-intensive retreats is getting out for mini-adventures. So once I finished today’s to-do list, that’s just what I did—I went on a mini-adventure! [more...]

    The law of adventure - Apr 1st, 2017
    I have a personal outlook on life—a law, if you will—that says I will have as many adventures as possible. It might be a 5-minute adventure that sees me popping into a wee art exhibit on the way to the dentist. Or maybe it’s a long weekend to somewhere fantastic or a long-term move to a foreign land. Whilst long weekends away and moves to foreign lands can’t happen on a regular basis, mini-adventures can! [more...]

    Bridges and sunshine - Mar 25th, 2017
    Life has been pretty thesis-centric these days and it’s been causing me a great amount of stress. Part of that stress is because I have felt a need to work on my PhD every moment of my waking day. And so, I decided that today would be an adventure day out! [more...]

    Broken ankle update: Broken running - Mar 14th, 2017
    There seems to be a bit of interest in my on-going ankle recovery, specifically around running. So, I thought I’d give a wee update for those who’ve already asked—and for those who’ve not asked but might care! This post will also serve as a general “my experiences running after a break” post, to address those specific questions. [more...]

    Bordering on 43 - Feb 20th, 2017
    This past weekend was my birthday weekend, so I enjoyed a wee road trip to the Scottish Borders to explore in and around Kelso. It was a great way to shake out the cobwebs and a fun way to celebrate the end of another year. And, it was a great excuse to eat lots of holiday food! [more...]

    A visit to Crookston Castle - Feb 11th, 2017
    I’ve been away in Glasgow house and cat sitting for the past week. And as the ruined Crookston Castle is only a mile away, I decided it was high time I made a trip to see it. [more...]

    Thesis writing season - Feb 1st, 2017
    I am entering thesis writing season now and am really looking forward to the stress and excitement that it will bring. I am not sure how long this season will last, and I’m not sure how my well-being will survive it, but I am really looking forward to it. Not because I’m looking forward to experiencing the stress, but because getting through this season is a massive part of getting to the Doctor Ryan bit of these PhD Dreams of mine. [more...]

    Dangerous widows - Jan 25th, 2017
    When the Dangerous Women Project was launched last year, I immediately found myself wondering if I was a dangerous woman. I wondered if there was anything about my life that could be construed as “dangerous”, or if I was just your average, run-of-the-mill woman. Of course, I knew that just the act of being an outspoken woman who would dare to live an independent life, doing as I pleased, made me dangerous. In that respect, most western women are dangerous—but is that dangerous enough to be called dangerous? (I don't know.) [more...]

    A Dunfermline day - Jan 24th, 2017
    I spent a day in Dunfermline over the weekend and am now wondering what took me so long to make the journey*. After all, it’s only a wee 30-minute train journey across the firth. But now that I’ve been, and now that I’ve realised there is so much to do and see, I am sure I will be back! [more...]

    The plastic planet predicament - Jan 15th, 2017
    Anyone paying attention should know by now that the gloriousness of plastic is less than glorious. And, in fact, our planet is in quite the predicament because of it all! Sadly, part of the predicament we’re in is that we can’t really live without plastic in the modern society. Not, at least, at the present. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Right? [more...]

    Just a wee half - Jan 8th, 2017
    Oops, I’ve done it again. After declaring that I would not be running any half (or full) marathons this year, to ease back into post-broken ankle running, I have officially signed up for the 2017 Scottish Half Marathon. I didn’t intend to do it, but my running partner has convinced me to do it. (He didn’t have to work hard for that. At all.) [more...]

    Dating disclosures - Jan 2nd, 2017
    Since (a few failed attempts at) re-entering the dating world post-widowhood, I have learned that there are many struggles to dating in the modern era. From the drama of online dating to the drama of just dating at all, I have learned a lot about how to navigate the dating world as a “young widow”. But I am realising that there are still things I have yet to figure out. (And maybe I’ll never figure them out!) [more...]

    2017: The year of doing - Jan 1st, 2017
    Welcome to 2017. This is the year. This is the year that so very many very wonderful things are going to happen. This is the year of greatness. This is the year of doing; of getting things done; of success and joy and everything else wonderful. [more...]

    Bye-bye, 2016; you’ve been wonderful! - Dec 31st, 2016
    It seems that 2016 is a year that has left a lot of bitterness for people across the world—for so many reasons. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard negative sentiments people have shared about the year. And, sadly, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve complained about what an awful year 2016 has been. [more...]

    Revamped running resolutions: Realised! - Dec 29th, 2016
    Thanks to this summer’s broken ankle, I had to make some changes to my 2016 resolutions. Today, those revamped running resolutions were realised! (Yay!) [more...]

    The goal that wasn’t meant to be - Dec 26th, 2016
    I started 2016 with the high hopes of meeting (and exceeding!) one simple running goal: To run a sub-2:00:00 half marathon. I knew it would be a challenge, but I also felt quite confident that I would manage it. However, it was a goal that wasn’t meant to be. [more...]

    A Christmas graduation - Dec 23rd, 2016
    It’s Christmas Eve Eve (which means that tomorrow is Christmas Eve) and I am acutely aware that this Christmas is different from all of my previous “post-widowhood” Christmases. I feel, I don’t know. I feel less sad. Not happy; not cheerful and Christmassy. Just, not sad. It’s almost as if I’ve graduated from the deep sadness that comes with a widowed Christmas and I’ve moved into a slightly melancholy, not sad, but not happy, place for the holiday season. [more...]

    Just published - Dec 7th, 2016
    One of the cool things about having your own blog that is just about you (as Just Frances is) means that I get to shout from the keyboard when I’ve managed to reach a personal goal. So, here goes: This week, I had an academic paper published! (Yes, a successful academic career is a personal goal!) [more...]

    Preparing for cosy - Dec 4th, 2016
    Winter is sneaking up upon us and that means cosy nights in front of a crackling fire. But in order to enjoy those cosy evenings, I need fuel for the fire. So today, I combined my much-needed daily exercise with gathering fire-starters. (Also known as pinecones.) [more...]

    Ran a mile in my shoes - Nov 12th, 2016
    (Nearly) sixteen weeks ago, I broke my ankle. And that means I haven’t broken any running goals in nearly four months. In fact, I haven’t been running at all. Until today. And then, I ran a mile. A whole mile. Yay, me! [more...]

    I wobbled - Nov 7th, 2016
    Sometimes in life, you wobble. And no matter how strong and sturdy you thought you were, you begin to sway back and forth; wobbling. That’s what happened to me these past few days: I have started to wobble. [more...]

    The buck stops here - Oct 27th, 2016
    That’s it folks: the buck stops here. Actually, I suppose I should say the pound stops here. Why? Because my last PhD stipend payment was today, and that means I have no more money coming into my bank accounts—bucks, bobs, quids, or otherwise—until I am finished with my PhD and I get a job. [more...]

    Broken ankle, Phase III: Getting back to normal - Oct 17th, 2016
    It has now been 12 weeks since I broke my ankle, and I’m pleased to say that I am well on the road to recovery. Though, sadly, I am not back to normal. Yet. However, I am now into the next phase of the healing process, so I expect to get back to normal… eventually. (Eventually, but not soon enough for my impatient nature. [more...]

    Twelve weeks broken - Oct 16th, 2016
    Twelve weeks ago, I broke my ankle whilst walking home from the shops. Twelve long, long weeks ago! And twelve is the magic number because that’s the number of weeks I was told it would take to go through the first bits of the healing process. And that means that today is the last day of Phase II: Learning to walk again. It also means that I am allowed to attempt running tomorrow. (Don’t worry, I’ll be careful!) [more...]

    Denmark bound! - Oct 15th, 2016
    I am off on my travels again. This time, I am heading to Denmark for the 2016 Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) Annual meeting in Copenhagen. The adventure is largely supported by a grant from the John Campbell Trust, and my school is making up the difference. Just one of the (many) wonderful things about PhD student life! [more...]

    Finding calm - Oct 10th, 2016
    My time at Serenity Lodge is coming to an end, and I am finding that the calming serenity I found here is starting to fade away, too. Not because this has become a less calming place, but rather because I know that the calm will (mostly) end when I re-enter my reality later tomorrow. [more...]

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