Just Frances

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    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...]

    Looking for love - Mar 4th, 2015
    Dating is hard. Dating in your late 30s and early 40s is hard. Dating as a widow is hard. And trying to do all three at once is a massive challenge! (I imagine that had I been blessed with children, dating would be nearly impossible!) [more...]

    Just a widow burden - Mar 1st, 2015
    From time-to-time, I get emails from people reading my blog. And today was one of those days. It seems that a relatively new widow, Lucy, found Just Frances last week and has spent several days scouring old posts about widowhood—as well as posts from my old widowhood blog. [more...]

    Always the sun - Feb 22nd, 2015
    The weather forecast today was for sleet and snow. But I was enticed out for a walk with a friend, so bundled up to face the elements. I admit that part of me hesitated to go because I was in a mildly sulky mood. But then I remembered that spending time with dear friends always warms my soul. So when my friend arrived to pick me up, I happily went out into the sleet. [more...]

    Spa 41 - Feb 21st, 2015
    Astute Just Frances readers may know that today is my 41st birthday. And curious readers may wonder how I celebrated the day. So, that’s what this post is all about! [more...]

    Deconstructing 40 - Feb 20th, 2015
    Today is my last day as a 40-year-old woman. It’s the last day of what I had hoped would be an empowering and fabulous year of my life. But really, it’s just the last day of another year of my life. Nothing life-changing; nothing that will carry me through to the next year. It was, just a year. [more...]

    Lenten rice - Feb 18th, 2015
    Today is the first day of Lent, and also a fasting day in the Catholic Church. I’ve decided to observe several fasting days over the Lenten period and I’m oddly looking forward to it. [more...]

    Letters home - Feb 12th, 2015
    As part of February’s letter-writing challenge, I’ve decided that I need to think a little more about who I write to. Obviously, I can write to family and friends, but I want to spread the joy a little further afield. [more...]

    Stripy popcorn afghan - Feb 11th, 2015
    Way back in October 2012, I started to work on an afghan that was intended to resemble a faded flag. Only my Mum came to visit a couple of days later and then I was busy applying for PhDs and then I was busy sorting visas and starting my PhD and, well, you get the point. [more...]

    A month of letters - Feb 5th, 2015
    There’s a fabulous challenge taking place this month to write a letter for each day of postal service. (That’s 23 letters in America, as Sundays and Presidents’ Day don’t count.) I think it’s a great idea, though I acknowledge I’m not going to manage it. [more...]

    Random memories: Why green? - Feb 4th, 2015
    My favourite colour is green, and has been since I was a young child. I’m sure most people know that, but I doubt that anyone knows why. Well, today I’m going to tell you! [more...]

    Compliments and criticisms - Feb 3rd, 2015
    What do the words “you’re pretty” and “you’re wrong” have in common? I struggle to accept them! Compliments and criticisms are very similar to me in that way. Though I don’t suppose I’m alone. Especially among my fellow low-self-esteemers! [more...]

    Joyful pennies - Feb 2nd, 2015
    Things don’t always happen the way we’d like them to. In fact, I can fairly say that things seem to work against my desires the majority of the time. But I am blessed because I can still find those little moments of joy in along with the frustrations. (And those little moments keep me going!) [more...]

    Focused in February - Feb 1st, 2015
    I’ve decided to dedicate February to getting back into a good, healthy routine. The idea is this: If I can re-focus enough of my energies, I can spend more of my days feeling accomplished and less of them feeling scattered and lost. [more...]

    Life laughs - Jan 19th, 2015
    Sometimes I feel like the world is laughing at me; like life is laughing at me. Sometimes I feel like my entire life has been one failed attempt at happiness after another—though with short bursts of joy before tragedy strikes! [more...]

    A dress-down skirt - Jan 11th, 2015
    When I was back home in America on my holidays, I was offered a couple of dresses that didn’t fit just right. But as the previous owners were happy for me to experiment on them, I gladly brought the garments back to Scotland with me. [more...]

    Every penny counts - Jan 7th, 2015
    What’s a penny worth to you? Is it worth stopping what you’re doing so that you can bend over and pick it up? What if I told you that one penny could make a real difference in someone’s life? [more...]

    Castles and hillforts - Jan 4th, 2015
    Between yesterday and today, I’ve managed to get a bit of walking and sightseeing in. It’s been a great way to spend my first weekend of 2015—and my last weekend before heading back to the office tomorrow after two weeks’ holiday. [more...]

    I am sad and lonely - Jan 3rd, 2015
    I took myself into town today for some sightseeing and struggled over how I felt about the day. I had originally planned to spend the day with a friend, but our plans were cancelled so I found myself alone. But alone isn’t always a bad thing, and I was determined to enjoy myself. And I think I did, mostly. [more...]

    10 to-dos for 2015 - Jan 2nd, 2015
    I really do love the start of the New Year, because it’s a great opportunity to start fresh. To that, I generally love the end of the year, too, as it’s a great motivator to finish one year’s tasks before moving on to the next. [more...]

    20 and 15 in 2015 - Jan 1st, 2015
    In addition to my general New Year’s resolution to be more optimistic and hopeful, I have set myself a few goals to reach over the year. I’ll talk about some of them from time-to-time, some might never be talked about but will be written down, and some will remain within my own mind, known only to me. [more...]

    A hope-filled start - Jan 1st, 2015
    Welcome to 2015! It’s a new day; a new year; a new opportunity for happiness and joy! And as always, I’m choosing to start the year off with hope! [more...]

    Reflections of 2014 - Dec 31st, 2014
    The end of a year can only mean one thing: An obligatory end-of-the-year reflections post! At the start of the year, I had grand visions of joy and laughter. Things were going rather well and I felt confident that it would be a year of mostly good and happy things. [more...]

    The charity exchange - Dec 30th, 2014
    I like to start the New Year with a fresh, clean start (as much as possible), which means doing a bit of de-cluttering and organising. I’ve spent the last couple of days clearing through various cupboards and dressers to help with that fresh start. [more...]

    Berry nice; bargain price - Dec 28th, 2014
    There’s something berry nice about a wee nip of flavoured vodka on a cold winter’s evening. Only if you’re a starving PhD student who is working hard to trim her budget, it’s difficult to justify the extra costs. [more...]

    Groovy new shoes - Dec 27th, 2014
    As any runner knows, shoes are an important part of the kit, but I’ve always been a shoe-deny-er, hating to part with my hard-earned money for something as silly as a foot cover. Which probably explains why my two pairs of running shoes are six and seven years old, and each have hundreds and hundreds of miles on them—far more than their recommended distances. [more...]

    Christmas wishes - Dec 25th, 2014
    Christmas is a special time in my world, because it is the celebration of my saviour’s birth. And as it’s a birthday celebration, birthday wishes are a must! So these are my Christmas wishes for you, for me, and for humankind. [more...]

    Remembering Murray - Dec 20th, 2014
    Today was the funeral service for my dear friend, Murray. It was a hard day, but I am so pleased I was able to go and pay my respects to a man I had nothing but respect for. [more...]

    Hand-me-downs - Dec 13th, 2014
    Growing up in a large family, hand-me-down clothing was a regular part of life. It wasn’t necessarily something I hated (after all, I really wanted some of them!) but it certainly wasn’t something I was immensely excited about. I mean, everyone else got brand-new clothes all the time. Everyone. All the time. [more...]

    Vintage smiles - Dec 2nd, 2014
    Some of you may know that I am really a big fan of vintage clothing. And that I have slowly been acquiring my Mum’s old wardrobe over the years. From old handbags to jewellery—and even my wedding dress—I’ve enjoyed taking over her vintage rags. [more...]

    Birthday reunions - Nov 27th, 2014
    Today is Paul’s birthday and I am a mess. No matter how many steps I take forward, there are some moments in time that send me sliding back to the raw grief I felt in those early weeks and months. Birthdays and anniversaries are a couple of the major culprits. [more...]

    Surprise! - Nov 24th, 2014
    Greetings from America! Are you surprised to read that? Well, you should be since very few people knew about my trip. I mean, even my parents didn’t know! Which was the plan, as I was trying to surprise my Daddy for his 70th birthday. [more...]

    A year of PhD dreams - Nov 16th, 2014
    Yesterday marked one calendar year since I matriculated as a research student in the Institute for Informatics and Digital Innovation at Edinburgh Napier University. It’s hard to believe that more than 15 years after first thinking about a PhD, I’m finally making progress on one! [more...]

    The harm of not running - Nov 13th, 2014
    Today’s journaling prompt was to write down five things I do to harm myself, and to talk about what I can do to take better care of myself. It was, like many of these “self-reflection” prompts, a bit hard to look at myself critically. But I did, and what I realised is that one of those harmful things is most damaging of all—even though the harmful thing is based on non-activity. [more...]

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