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    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...]

    Banishing the gloom at Castle Campbell - Oct 8th, 2016
    I spent today doing vital ankle rehabilitation work, in the form of walking to and from Castle Campbell in the hills above Dollar. It was a much-needed outing and a great way to rid myself of some of the gloom I’ve been feeling from missing out on all of my 2016 running goals. (Broken ankle = no races. How gloomy, indeed!) [more...]

    Weir walking - Oct 7th, 2016
    I’ve been staying at Serenity Lodge since last week where I am house- and pet-sitting for a while. I am using the time to catch up on my PhD, but I’m also taking some time for my ankle’s rehabilitation work. And what better way to do that than a bit of weir walking? [more...]

    Ten weeks broken - Oct 2nd, 2016
    Wow! I cannot believe that it has been ten weeks since I broke my ankle. It seems like only yesterday, but at the same time it feels like my fateful fall was a lifetime ago. Maybe that’s because it takes a very long time to walk anywhere these days! [more...]

    Zadar: Everyday life for an everyday girl - Sep 30th, 2016
    Travelling to new places is quite exciting; you get to see new places through the warped lenses of tourism. So when I travelled to Zadar, Croatia, for an academic conference last week, I was very excited to have a free day to explore the city on either side of the conference. [more...]

    Zadar: A Catholic girl’s paradise - Sep 30th, 2016
    I spent last week in Zadar, Croatia, for an academic conference. But the timing of flights meant that I had a free day to explore the city on either side of the conference. (Yay!) When the trip was first planned, I knew I would spend my days exploring the various churches, monasteries, and convents. Unfortunately, a broken (but healing!) ankle slowed me down a bit so I wasn’t able to see everything I wanted to see. Still, I managed most of the highlights. (But there was no climbing up bell towers, sadly.) [more...]

    Serenity now - Sep 29th, 2016
    I’m writing this post from Serenity Lodge, my home for the next two weeks. My view from the deck overlooks the River Devon as it flows through Clackmannanshire on the outskirts of Dollar. It is peaceful, despite the three Labradoodles and chatty parrot I’m sharing the space with, and I am sure the location will help me find a bit of my own serenity! [more...]

    With love from Zadar - Sep 24th, 2016
    I love Zadar! I really do. I arrived here last Sunday for an academic conference and I will be travelling home tomorrow. But in this one week, I fell in love with Zadar. [more...]

    Eight weeks broken - Sep 18th, 2016
    It has now been eight weeks since I broke my ankle whilst on my way home from the shops. And two weeks since I entered Phase II of the healing process. And that means I only have four weeks to go until I’m allowed to try running again. (Yay!!) [more...]

    Croatia bound! - Sep 17th, 2016
    Bright and early tomorrow morning, long before the sun rises, my alarm clock will gently bring me out of Dream World. I will stumble out of bed, groggy and sleepy-eyed, and make my way to the kitchen to get my moka pot started making my morning coffee. And about an hour later—around 4:30—a taxi will arrive to take me to the airport. Because tomorrow morning, I am Croatia bound! [more...]

    No spleen to vent - Sep 10th, 2016
    Regular Just Frances readers will know that I have a rare bleeding disorder called idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP). But what they may not know is that I don’t have a spleen as a result of it. Not because there was something wrong with my spleen, but rather because (sometimes) a splenectomy is seen as a viable treatment for ITP. [more...]

    Broken ankle, Phase II: Learning to walk again - Sep 6th, 2016
    I broke my ankle a little over six weeks ago. At first, there was a bit of novelty to my first-ever broken bone. After a couple of days, I was becoming very unhappy with the lack of mobility—and the pain! However, there was very little I could do at the time other than let nature take its healing course. But now I’m ready for Phase II: Learning to walk again! [more...]

    Six weeks broken - Sep 4th, 2016
    It has now been six weeks since I broke by ankle, meaning I am about half-way through the initial recovery phase. It also means that tomorrow, I will take my fist steps without the walking boot. I expect it to be a bit sore, but after two weeks of flexibility exercises, at least my ankle shouldn’t be too stiff. [more...]

    Third passport firsts - Aug 27th, 2016
    I received my new American passport yesterday. But despite this being my third passport, it will also mark several passport firsts in my life. But then, each of my passports have marked important “firsts” in my life! [more...]

    Getting less thin - Aug 21st, 2016
    I need to start this post by saying that I know I am not overweight and I don’t think that I am fat by any means. However, I am getting less and less thin. And whilst some of that is just the normal process of ageing and inevitable metabolic changes, most of it is 2016. Yes, I blame 2016 for the fact that I am getting less thin. [more...]

    Four weeks broken - Aug 21st, 2016
    It has now been four weeks since my fateful journey out for some salty snacks; a journey that left me with a broken ankle. I am now on the journey to recovery, but it’s a slow and unenjoyable process! [more...]

    Fostering love - Aug 14th, 2016
    My life was forever changed six years ago, when I opened up my home—and my heart—to a young girl who needed me. The year that followed was filled with the ups and downs of foster parenting, all while still adjusting to my life as a widow. [more...]

    Two weeks broken - Aug 7th, 2016
    Two weeks ago, I slipped on a kerb and broke my ankle. It’s my first-ever broken bone and has really been a learning experience! [more...]

    Will walk for whisky - Aug 6th, 2016
    Yesterday was my first proper outing since breaking my ankle nearly two weeks ago. I admit that I probably shouldn’t have gone out, and that I probably shouldn’t have done as much walking when I did, but it was a much-needed day away. After all, it included free whisky! [more...]

    I am broken - Jul 25th, 2016
    It is official: I have my first-ever broken bone. It's a wee avulsion fracture on my left ankle and it hurts like holy heck! And it’s all because I love salty snacks. [more...]

    A Dunblane day - Jul 16th, 2016
    A couple of weeks ago, I visited The Kelpies with my friend Caroline, and we decided that we’d try to get together for some more summer outings this year. So today, we met up in Dunblane for lunch and a visit to the cathedral. And as it happens, it was a first for both of us. Yes, despite my friend living most of her life near Dunblane—and me living just down the road in Stirling for two years—neither of us had been to the cathedral before! [more...]

    Only the lonely - Jul 10th, 2016
    When you live your life without a partner, it can be lonely. Even if you fill your days with friends and acquaintance, it can be lonely. Even if you enjoy a bit of solitude and are generally happy with your being, it can be lonely. Even if you are never alone, it can be lonely. It’s a loneliness that seeps into your soul; a loneliness that only the truly lonely can understand. That loneliness lives inside of me; it follows me around even when I’m happy. [more...]

    Thesis summer - Jul 1st, 2016
    This summer is Thesis Summer for me. It’s the summer when I must, without excuses, get my head down and write, write, write! Luckily, July and August are two months devoid of conferences, training events, seminars, and other activities that take me away from my focus. So I’ve decided that I will devote them to my thesis; I will devote them to my PhD dreams. [more...]

    A Kelpie day - Jun 25th, 2016
    I’m house-sitting in Falkirk for a couple of weeks, so when a friend asked if I wanted to enjoy a day out, it seemed that visiting something local would be the way to go. When she suggested The Kelpies, I was really excited as I hadn’t seen them yet. [more...]

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