Good Morning From Northern Ireland

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. These are the words I always start my day with on Twitter so I thought, why not start doing the same on WordPress. It’s a great way to initiate conversations and create new online friendships. You get to meet folk from all corners of the world and learn more aboutContinue reading “Good Morning From Northern Ireland”

Breathe Kindness Into The Lives Of Others

Whenever I’m doubting myself, something or someone tends to come along to bolster my crumbling confidence. Take this morning for example. A review landed on my Twitter feed at just the right time, cheering me up no end. Words like these are oxygen to a writer, they erase the doubting voice that is a frequentContinue reading “Breathe Kindness Into The Lives Of Others”

I Needed To Hear That

I’ve been a bit hit and miss with my blog posts in recent months. I’ve been focused on editing and publishing my second book and starting to write the third instalment. Blogging has taken a back seat at times and I’ve got out of the habit of posting on a daily basis. You could argueContinue reading “I Needed To Hear That”

On The Brink Again

When the first wave of COVID struck little Northern Ireland in March and the country entered full lockdown, it was a surreal experience. We huddled around our television sets and watched the story unfold as cases, hospitalisations and deaths rose. It impacted massively upon our lives and lifestyles as schools and offices closed, the economyContinue reading “On The Brink Again”

Happy World Mental Health Day?

Happy World Mental Health Day! Well, maybe happy isn’t the adjective I should be using. When people think about happy they normally don’t associate it with such a taboo subject. Think mental health and most of us conjure up dark, negative images. It’s something we shy away from and are reluctant to think about, letContinue reading “Happy World Mental Health Day?”

Even Wise Men Need A Star

I was out running at 05:45 this morning and was pleased to find dry conditions after a couple of soakings earlier in the week. Chilly, but dry. In fact as I left the street lit village I looked upwards to discover there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, my path illuminated by the harvest moonContinue reading “Even Wise Men Need A Star”

It Is What It Is…Is It?

I hear this phrase on my travels quite a bit, particularly in recent times. It is what it is. It is delivered in a stoic manner, conjuring images of plucky resolve and British stiff upper lipness. Yes, times are tough but we just need to roll up our sleeves and get on with it. TheContinue reading “It Is What It Is…Is It?”

I Don’t Want To Face The World Today

It’s wet and wild outside and I don’t want to get up. Thankfully it’s Sunday so I don’t have to, well not yet anyway. I’m not budging, content to stay under the covers and write some words instead. It’s still dark, very dark, so I can’t see what is going on outside. But I canContinue reading “I Don’t Want To Face The World Today”

Welcome To The Real World

It’s the weekend, a time when we should relax and recuperate from our efforts during the preceding week. It’s when we recharge our batteries and switch off a little from the trials and tribulations of work. Saturday morning should be good news. Yet, when I checked my social media accounts this morning and watched theContinue reading “Welcome To The Real World”

Clear Skies, Clear Head

I’m not a fan of early runs but, such is my schedule at the minute, it’s realistically the only opportunity I have to do so at present. Even then, I’ve been a bit hit and miss at getting out on the roads first thing. Today, however, I was awake before my alarm went off andContinue reading “Clear Skies, Clear Head”

Today Is The Day

I was more than a little surprised yesterday evening when I got an email from my publisher to say that the new book was now available to buy as a paperback, ten days ahead of schedule. The culmination of a years work, a year of writing, editing, promoting and the million other things that aContinue reading “Today Is The Day”

Too Much Of A Good Thing

I’m a creature of excess. We can thank the OCD for that. I can’t do anything in moderation, that’s my default setting. I have no handbrake, it’s flat out on the accelerator, until I run out of petrol or crash into the nearest wall. Normally, the latter. Because of this, I’m an expert at screwingContinue reading “Too Much Of A Good Thing”

10 Days To Go…

My new book, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: A New Jerusalem,’ is released in ten days time on 06 October and I’ve been writing about my thoughts and feelings as we near the big day. Two days ago I blogged about my anxiety over the release but today I want to focus on a more positiveContinue reading “10 Days To Go…”

Death Keeps Me Alive

Death keeps me alive. Let me rephrase that, the thought of death inspires me to live. I hit the ‘big 50’ in April, a total game changer in more ways than one. It was difficult not to react by thinking time was running out, as opposed to I have all the time in the world.Continue reading “Death Keeps Me Alive”

Belfast In September

Irish weather is renowned for its schizophrenic nature and today was no exception. The evenings are getting darker and the leaves are starting to fall, giving the place a distinctly autumnal feel. Christmas is a mere three months away (there, I said it) and there have already been some heavy handed hints in the BlackContinue reading “Belfast In September”

Quietly Happy

I’ve been writing consistently all week and my current work in progress (wip) now sits at 46,000 words. It’s a challenge as I’m juggling multiple storylines, locations and characters but one I’m relishing all the same. I’m ahead of schedule and able to write 1000 words a day fairly comfortably without it eating too muchContinue reading “Quietly Happy”

Draw Back The Curtains

Another dawn run today, thanks to Fionnuala who makes sure I get up when the alarm goes off under this new regime. It was mild and dry this morning but very dark as I headed out off the village on a 5K route I know well. The occasional field of curious cows were my onlyContinue reading “Draw Back The Curtains”

What If We Could See Coronavirus?

Living in the midst of a pandemic has heightened levels of personal hygiene to unprecedented levels. We are (meant to be) forever washing or sanitising our hands, cleaning work surfaces and wiping down communal areas. We catch and bin our sneezes and sniffles and follow many other catchy slogans in order to keep ourselves andContinue reading “What If We Could See Coronavirus?”

Wear A Mask

Wear a mask people!

Today I Wrote

The alarm woke me this morning at 05:20, or rather the snooze function after I had ignored the initial 05:15 summons. I stumbled out of bed and into my running gear, determined to keep to my promise to run before work, where possible. As I said yesterday, not that most pleasant prospect but an essentialContinue reading “Today I Wrote”

Be Consistent Today

I got up at 5:15 this morning, my first night run in many months. What with the ongoing pandemic I can’t run at lunchtime in Belfast so this is really the only time I have to fit some exercise in. I don’t like running first thing but I’ve made a resolution to suck it up,Continue reading “Be Consistent Today”

Demons And The Dull

It’s rained all week. Dank, dull and dreary. The rain has descended in icy sheets across the Northern Irish landscape and I battle through it on the daily commute to and from work. My head is down, shoulders clenched, I think of nothing but making it to the dry, warm confines of the office. ThisContinue reading “Demons And The Dull”

Muddling Through The Storm

I woke up to the sound of Storm Frances battering against our bedroom window this morning. We have been told to expect heavy rain and high winds all of today and into tomorrow. It was dark, cold and I really didn’t want to get out of bed. But needs must so when the alarm clockContinue reading “Muddling Through The Storm”

Walking Towards Normality

After five long months, Adam and Hannah return to school tomorrow. Rebecca starts back the following week. It feels like forever since we have seen them in their school uniforms but tomorrow morning the alarm clock will be set for 6 a.m. and organised chaos will again descend upon the Black household. No more lyingContinue reading “Walking Towards Normality”

The Stardust Of Ability

I’ve hit a purple writing vein of late, averaging around 1,000 a day on my latest book. I’m hoping to pass the 25,000 mark today and have decided to work at it on my lunch break at work. If the weather is decent I will head out into the square opposite my office, appropriately namedContinue reading “The Stardust Of Ability”

OCD 101 – Kill The Stereotypes

This One Is For You

I was up early this morning running. 5.1 miles at an unspectacular pace but I got out and did it which was the main objective. I’ve recovered from a back injury but my motivation levels were at a low ebb for a variety of reasons. I needed several kicks up the backside to get outContinue reading “This One Is For You”

Are You Suffering From COVID-19 Fatigue?

It’s on the news every day, it’s the only topic of conversation in work, you see it everywhere you go. Mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing. COVID-19 has taken over our lives in an unprecedented manner. Will it ever end, Will a vaccine ever be developed to confine this terrible pandemic to the history books?Continue reading “Are You Suffering From COVID-19 Fatigue?”

The Elephants In Our Rooms – OCD 101

Would you trivialise or joke about someone with cancer? About a friend or relative who had suffered a stroke or had a heart attack? Debilitating, life threatening physical illnesses? Well the same goes about mental health and, in particular, the horrors of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It destroys lives. Don’t belittle those afflicted by it.Continue reading “The Elephants In Our Rooms – OCD 101”

Are You Anxious Today?

I was interviewed last night for a podcast hosted by a fellow Irish writer. All day the thought of it lurked at the back of my mind, a ball of anxiety and worry growing with each passing hour. I started to regret agreeing to take part, convinced I was going to make a mess ofContinue reading “Are You Anxious Today?”

How Has Quarantine Been For You?

When they vote for the most frequently used words of 2020, surely quarantine must be a front runner. The pandemic sweeping the globe has meant that it has jumped onto our lips and out of our mouths on a regular basis. Most of us have experienced lockdown from behind closed doors, watching our television setsContinue reading “How Has Quarantine Been For You?”

Let The Pain Drive You On

There is always a reason for pain, be it physical or mental. It doesn’t just magically pop out of the ether, determined to ruin your day, year or life. There is a cause, something lurking behind. It can be anything – a pulled muscle, strained ligament or faltering organ. That’s the physical side of it,Continue reading “Let The Pain Drive You On”

Hedgehog 1 Charlie 0

I sat up way past my bedtime last night to watch the Manchester United match which means I’m an extra sleepy Stephen this morning. But at least they won. By the time I was nodding off, however, it was nearing midnight. It was also a very muggy night which made drifting off to sleep evenContinue reading “Hedgehog 1 Charlie 0”

Dawn Run

Via a combination of the alarm clock and ‘gentle encouragement’ from Fionnuala I got up at 5:30 this morning and ran 10K. My running mojo has been virtually nonexistent of late which has done nothing to help my eating choices and anxiety levels. Lunchtime running is no longer an option now in Belfast and IContinue reading “Dawn Run”

No Need For Need

I woke in a bubble of calm. It’s the weekend so I don’t have to face the daily commute to Belfast, I don’t have any office drama to deal with. I don’t have to worry about masks and social distancing and work colleagues spluttering and coughing. The world with all its incessant drama can waitContinue reading “No Need For Need”

Causeway Coast Road Trip

We took a drive along the Causeway Coastal route today all the way to Portrush. Fionnuala took around a zillion photographs and here are some of them. Special guest appearances from Hannah, Rebecca & Charlie the border terrier. I hope they capture the beauty of Northern Ireland, this wee country we call home. Hope youContinue reading “Causeway Coast Road Trip”

Read Us & Weep

Writing is about emotion. It’s about creating something substantial from the whirling eddy of hopes, fears and dreams rattling about an author’s skull at any given time. We are creatures of extremes, all of us, and the writer’s role is to connect, to bridge the gap, to let others know that they are not aloneContinue reading “Read Us & Weep”

Do We Ever Truly Recover?

We’ve all been through difficult times in our lives. It could be anything – sickness, injury, bereavement, financial or family turmoil, addiction or mental health issues. The list is as long as your arm and then some. Such struggles might be in your past, you may be battling them now, or they might be justContinue reading “Do We Ever Truly Recover?”

Writing Matters – When You Phone It In

I have an admission to make. I have, on occasion, these past few months been going through the motions with my blog posts. In our office it’s known as ‘phoning it in.’ It’s a half hearted effort, I’ve done the minimum and little more. I’ve been posting because I felt I had to as opposedContinue reading “Writing Matters – When You Phone It In”

OCD – The Silent Killer

I have OCD and I’m not in control. There, I’ve said it, that wasn’t so hard was it? Even a few years ago, I would have veered clear of ‘outing’ myself and identifying with the mental illness. It was embarrassing, shameful and humiliating. But the longer I’ve walked this path, I’ve realised I have aContinue reading “OCD – The Silent Killer”

Writing Matters – My Safe Haven

Have you ever been hurt by the words and actions of another and they’ve been completely oblivious to the damage caused? They are so wrapped up in their own affairs the offence they have caused fails to register? It happened me the other day and I must admit it stung. I can have a lessContinue reading “Writing Matters – My Safe Haven”

I’ve Lost My Wife To The Hallmark Channel

During the current pandemic there has been unprecedented boxset watching. Oh, to own shares in Netflix. Many of us have escaped the sad reality of the spiralling global death toll by seeking escapist refuge in our television sets, tablets or phones. We have dropped anchor on our sofas, disengaged our brains and floated off intoContinue reading “I’ve Lost My Wife To The Hallmark Channel”

Me, My Mask & I

Yes, I know I need a haircut. My return to post lockdown society has not included a visit to the barbers yet. I hope to fit it in soon. Or allow Fionnuala and Adam to do it, seeing as they did such a good job last time. But today’s post is about my mask wearingContinue reading “Me, My Mask & I”

Coming To Fractured Faith Soon

I’m always looking at ways to freshen up the blog and keep it relevant. There are times when the creative juices dry up and you feel you’ve taken one too many trips to the well. On other occasions, you pour your heart and soul into a post, only for it to sink without trace. ThenContinue reading “Coming To Fractured Faith Soon”

How Is Your Mental Health Today?

Now and again I ask this question on the blog, and I thought now was as important a time as any, given the current world we live in. As we emerge from lockdown at various paces and with varied levels of success, many of us bear the mental as well as the physical scars. SomeContinue reading “How Is Your Mental Health Today?”

Happy/Unhappy 12th July

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. Happy 12th July. Or Unhappy 12th July. You see, it depends on what part of the community you originate from in this fair land that I call home. Anyway, it’s a big deal whatever way you look at it. For this day 330 years ago the Protestant army of KingContinue reading “Happy/Unhappy 12th July”

Bloggers Don’t Wear Masks

I wrote yesterday about compulsory mask wearing and how it was an issue for some people. I watched a video the other night of a mature American lady screaming like a chastised toddler because she was asked to wear a face covering in a store. I don’t know what was more shocking – the seismicContinue reading “Bloggers Don’t Wear Masks”

Expose Your Scars

Good Morning from Northern Ireland. I saw this on Twitter last night and shamelessly pilfered it. Apologies to all concerned but this is OCD in a nutshell. OCD is voracious, forever hungry and on the prowl for its next meal. It will suck you dry, bleed you out. It is cruel, merciless and without pity.Continue reading “Expose Your Scars”

Don’t Suffer In Silence

I fear I’m getting old. For everything hurts. A lot. Take last Saturday for example. I bent over in the kitchen to put some rubbish in the bin, only to discover I couldn’t stand up straight again. A sharp pain in the base of my back ensured that. Hobbling over to a nearby chair myContinue reading “Don’t Suffer In Silence”

Down The Rabbit Hole We Go

I’m easily distracted at the best of times but when the OCD hits it’s hard to maintain focus and concentration when it’s seductive, velvety, barbed wire tones insist you drop everything and succumb to the latest intrusive thought fluttering onto your mindscape. As innocent as an autumn leaf drifting in the breeze, as deadly asContinue reading “Down The Rabbit Hole We Go”

More Praise For ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square’

Some recent reviews of my novel, ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square,’ which is fast approaching it’s first birthday next month. The sequel, ‘A New Jerusalem’ will be published this October by Potters Grove Press. ‘Skelly’s Square’ and the linked novella, ‘Bomb Girl,’ are both still available in paperback and e-book format via your localContinue reading “More Praise For ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square’”

Enjoy The Good Times

Another cheesy shot of me, I’m afraid, but our Hannah worked so hard creating this unbelievable treat containing all my favourite chocolate and sweets. I will have to be winched off the sofa when I finish eating all my birthday gifts. Although I’m sure I will have plenty of help if required. I’ve had aContinue reading “Enjoy The Good Times”

Fionnuala’s Photos – Part 2

Some more photos taken by Fionnuala on her phone the other evening. I was driving. This is the road that leads into our village. These are all natural shots with no filter or special effects added. Isn’t she a talented one? The sunsets are amazing in Ireland at present. I’m off to work later andContinue reading “Fionnuala’s Photos – Part 2”

Start The World, I Need To Get Back On Again

I’m back to work on Monday. Well, I’m dipping my toe in the water, anyway, returning to the office on a part time basis. Our workplace is not officially back to normal but I’m returning in order to break the ice and help prepare for when all the staff are back. It’s been 12 weeksContinue reading “Start The World, I Need To Get Back On Again”

Don’t Forget To Be Silly

I’m currently wading through the final edits for my second novel, ‘A New Jerusalem.’ It’s been a slog but I’m finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. My family have kept spirits high and yesterday’s work was broken up by several Tik Tok videos involving dance routines, silly voices and airContinue reading “Don’t Forget To Be Silly”

Signs Of Life

I’m not saying life in lockdown is dull. For if I did then I’m sure Fionnuala could find plenty of household chores to occupy my time. But the days do tend to drag. I had to ask this morning what day of the week it was. By necessity, we find ourselves staring out of ourContinue reading “Signs Of Life”

Don’t Give Up

My first novel, ‘Skelly’s Square,’ received its 60th five star review in the USA last night. When you add up the totals world wide it has around 150 such reviews. I’m very proud of this achievement as it encourages me that people like my writing and the stories and characters I’ve created. The point ofContinue reading “Don’t Give Up”

Why Did God Create Covidiots?

This pandemic has certainly brought out the best and worst in humanity. There have been incredible displays of bravery, kindness and selflessness. Communities have come together as never before, neighbours helping each other when previously they were barely on nodding terms. We have become more considerate and caring. Rifts have been sealed, feuds forgotten andContinue reading “Why Did God Create Covidiots?”

Nothing Is Normal Anymore

What would we do without Netflix? That’s been the joyous cry from many households in recent months as millions have battled through the lockdown experience by binging on their favourite movies and TV shows. Old favourites, new gems and those series you’ve always meant to finish but never quite had the time. Time is allContinue reading “Nothing Is Normal Anymore”

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

On my rural runs on the roads outside our village I pass a lot of cows and horses, grazing in fields. Ireland has an abundance of grass. We are on nodding terms and I like to think they look forward to seeing the funny looking man in brightly coloured running attire as much as IContinue reading “All That Glitters Is Not Gold”

Social Media Blackout

See you all tomorrow.

Say Yes To The Voice That Says No

There’s always been a darkness within me for as long as I can remember to choose the wrong path, make the bad decision which will lead us down the rabbit hole into a world of pain. I’m not sure if we are born with it but the person who plumps for the morally correct alternativeContinue reading “Say Yes To The Voice That Says No”

I Picked Up A Bible The Other Day

I started reading the Bible again a few days ago. I’ve been thinking of doing so for quite some time, but always holding back. Yet, here I was, staring at Romans Chapter 1. That was then. I’ve reached Chapter 5 now. Hardly setting the world alight but I’ve read a little every day. About graceContinue reading “I Picked Up A Bible The Other Day”

OCD – Don’t Suffer In Silence

Thrilled to be sending a copy of ‘Skelly’s Square’ to Lily Bailey, author of ‘Because We Are Bad,’ the best memoir on OCD I have read. Lily is one of a number of talented mental health advocates who inspired me to write about my own experiences with this vicious, relentless, yet very misunderstood mental illness.Continue reading “OCD – Don’t Suffer In Silence”

Happy Birthday Fractured Faith

Seems like no time but the blog is now three years old. That’s a lot of posts. Some of you have been there from the start, some have joined along the journey, others have disappeared into the ether. We are grateful for everyone who continues to read and comment. As long as that continues IContinue reading “Happy Birthday Fractured Faith”

Too Tired To Care

Tiredness. It’s a by product of this pandemic. A lot of us are tired a lot of the time. Tired of the rising death toll, the deceitful, treacherous politicians. Tired of the relentless trickle of bad news. Really bad news you couldn’t make up in a million years if it wasn’t for the fact itContinue reading “Too Tired To Care”

OCD Tales – Repeat Ad Nauseum

I’ve been on my phone a lot during lockdown. I’m aware of this and it annoys me. I try to curtail my checks but the little voice in my head often wins out. Just one more scroll through my social media accounts, another glance at book sales, a quick nosey at the news headlines orContinue reading “OCD Tales – Repeat Ad Nauseum”

Social Distancing – Northern Ireland Style

Rebecca, Charlie and I made some new friends on our walk this morning. Apparently the cows of Aghalee don’t believe in social distancing, preferring the…ahem…herd immunity approach to combating coronavirus. They were a friendly and curious bunch but a left a lot to be desired with regards their personal hygiene and toilet training. Rebecca lovesContinue reading “Social Distancing – Northern Ireland Style”

Are You Proud Of Yourself?

For a long time I wasn’t proud of myself, how I looked, how I spoke. I wasn’t proud of my thoughts and actions. I became embarrassed and awkward when people complimented me, because I believed I didn’t deserve it. I was unworthy of their praise. And yet, I sought the limelight and attention, I pushedContinue reading “Are You Proud Of Yourself?”

Should I Blog More?

Eight miles yesterday, out to the shores of Lough Neagh and back. The sun continues to shine in Northern Ireland although a cool breeze was most welcome on the return journey. The country roads were quiet apart from the occasional fellow runner, cyclist or dog walker. Dogs must be loving lockdown, they’ve never been walkedContinue reading “Should I Blog More?”

Woke up…Ran A Half Marathon

Five loops of the village this morning in bright sunshine amounted to a half marathon. I haven’t run this far in some months now, so was quite anxious at the prospect. I actually tried to talk my way out of yesterday until Fionnuala gave me a pep talk, ‘encouraging’ me to lace my trainers upContinue reading “Woke up…Ran A Half Marathon”

Seven Years Ago

Tomorrow will mark the seventh anniversary of when I decided to pack in alcohol. I thought I was Oscar Wilde when I was drinking, an irrepressible wit and the life and soul of the party. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I was, on the contrary, an idiot of epic proportions, putting my ownContinue reading “Seven Years Ago”

Painting Away The Pain

I was on painting duties in the bedroom today, as our enforced home improvement programme continued. Fionnuala had chosen a lovely shade of dark blue and my job was to paint an awkward high section of the wall behind our wardrobes. My DIY skills are ‘limited’ to say the least so I approached the taskContinue reading “Painting Away The Pain”

We Will Slay Them

Last night I got an e-mail from my publisher containing the latest edits for the new book. I had expected a literary bloodbath, as my inadequate grammar and punctuation were torn apart by expert eyes, attuned to high quality prose. I envisioned the red pen being wielded like a bloody blade, glistening in a murderousContinue reading “We Will Slay Them”

The Internet – A Double Edged Sword

Since we went into lockdown six months ago, grocery shopping has been quite a stressful business. Maintaining social distancing, one way systems around supermarkets, the handling of items that maybe a dozen people have already handled. Your mind is in overdrive and you’re on constant alert. Even Fionnuala, a veteran at this new way, admittedContinue reading “The Internet – A Double Edged Sword”

Are You Wasting Away?

I’m in a queue. The council have arranged a rubbish collection in an adjoining village and we’ve seized the opportunity as our wheelie bin is full to the brim. Being in lockdown means more food consumption and general waste. The queue itself is very orderly. Us Northern Irish are good at waiting in line. EverybodyContinue reading “Are You Wasting Away?”

Country Folk Are Friendly

I’ve been regularly running the country roads around our village since the lockdown of six weeks ago. Yes, it’s that long since I’ve been in Belfast as my office remains closed. Running during my lunch breaks is a dim, distant memory as I’ve embraced the rolling, rural terrain for my daily exercise. This has meantContinue reading “Country Folk Are Friendly”

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

Never let it be said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. For lockdown has provided me with an unexpected opportunity to expand my household repertoire under the careful, often bewildered, supervision of Fionnuala. She’s had me painting fences, assisting with wallpapering, baking flapjacks. But more than all that, she’s taught me theContinue reading “Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks”

I Want To Stay In

As the lockdown in the United Kingdom enters its sixth week there is evidence that the public resolve to adhere to government guidance to stay at home is wavering. Footfall and traffic figures are steadily creeping up again. At a time when the number of hospital deaths from COVID-19 passed 20,000 yesterday. That’s not includingContinue reading “I Want To Stay In”

Toxic Positivity – What Is It?

I stumbled across this image earlier on Facebook and it got me thinking; or rather accelerated something I had already been mulling over in my head. It was a hammer that nailed a series of loose thoughts into a cogent steam. Toxic positivity. It exists, it’s a real thing, not just the product of myContinue reading “Toxic Positivity – What Is It?”

Today I Want To Hear From You

Over the last few weeks I’ve been blogging about our experiences as a family during lockdown in Northern Ireland as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the world. I’ve been encouraged and heartened by the response these posts have received. I’ve felt a real sense of community on WordPress that has been lacking for some time.Continue reading “Today I Want To Hear From You”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #14

The U.K. death total passed 6000 yesterday, an increase of over 800, which showed how premature the calls of some had been for a relaxation of the lockdown rules. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but this is a very long tunnel. There were three deaths in Northern Ireland, bringing ourContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #14”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #13

People. Sheesh. We are in our third week of lockdown in Northern Ireland, yet some are already asking when the restrictions will be relaxed. Three weeks! Look around, there are still thousands of people dying across the globe every day from this relentless pandemic. Yet, you’re playing the martyr because you’re being asked to stayContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #13”

Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #11

The forecast for the weekend remains good but the furthest we are going is our back garden. We are digging in for the long haul. Adam and I are power hosing the yard today, Rebecca is on weeding duties and tomorrow we are fence and furniture painting. The pandemic does give you the time toContinue reading “Coronavirus – Northern Ireland #11”

Happy Birthday Fionnuala

Happy Birthday to a wonderful wife and mother today. Fionnuala is the reason I took up my pen and started writing. She is constantly supporting and encouraging me, putting up with all my quirks and oddness. She is the kindest, strongest person I know and the love she pours into our family on a dailyContinue reading “Happy Birthday Fionnuala”

Are You Weird?

Yes, I’m weird, I’m awkward, I’m a geek, but I’m me. I spent a large part of my life trying to be somebody else, trying to fit in, to please people. It didn’t get me anywhere. You can’t force people to like you any more than you can control the tides. It took me aContinue reading “Are You Weird?”

What Mental Illness Looks Like

I think I’ve ticked every one of these boxes at some point in my life but, thankfully, not for a while now. But I’ve been there and I know I could return there, we all could. Nobody is immune from mental illness, we are all vulnerable and few will live their lives untouched by it.Continue reading “What Mental Illness Looks Like”

Things I Do At Work

I’m on the train as another week in the office looms ahead of me. I’m not quite representative of the diagram below but I’ve certainly had my moments. I’m grateful to have my job though. Much as I detest Monday mornings it pays the bills and affords me the financial stability to pursue other interests.Continue reading “Things I Do At Work”

Walk Away

No words needed. Walk away.

We All Need A Log Cabin

Now, I’m not talking UnaBomber isolation. But sometimes we all want to pull down the shutters and take a break from the relentless babble of life. Which is okay. Society doesn’t require you 24/7. The world will keep rotating on its axis. But if you don’t take care of yourself you might not be spinningContinue reading “We All Need A Log Cabin”

You Matter

Good Morning WordPress. This spoke to me today. Sometimes I feel useless, not as much as I used to, but it’s still there occasionally. Yet I know I matter to my family. They are the reason I keep going, the reason I get up and show up. I’m an idiot but I’m their idiot. That’sContinue reading “You Matter”

I Don’t Like You Very Much

I don’t like you very much. You’re hard work. An acquired taste. You make me cringe, retch, squirm. With your words, your actions, your thoughts. We’ll never see eye to eye. Yet here we are. Staring at each other in the mirror. Eye to eye. Stuck with one another. I don’t like you very much.

Is Your Future Exciting?

I woke up this morning and groaned as I faced another wet and windy Monday morning. But after the initial shock I realised I’m incredibly fortunate and have so much to look forward to in the coming days, weeks and months. My default setting is ‘glass half empty’ but I’m making a real effort nowContinue reading “Is Your Future Exciting?”

Care Enough To Look

No words needed. People with mental illnesses may not have broken bones but they have broken dreams, broken minds and broken hearts. Their illnesses may be invisible but the signs are there if you take the time to look for them. The onus is on you to reach out to them, not for them toContinue reading “Care Enough To Look”

Don’t Be Afraid To Start Over

When I started this blog, I started all over again. Turned my back on the past and threw my energy into new passions. Almost three years later, I’ve published two books and completed a third. I’m training for my tenth marathon and been promoted at work. I’ve living the happiest & healthiest life I can.Continue reading “Don’t Be Afraid To Start Over”

Churches Are Funny Places…

This quote pretty much sums up why I stopped going to church. People who talked a good fight on a Sunday morning but then disappeared for the remainder of the week. Especially when you really needed them. It’s sad in a sense but I actually feel more settled and safe since I left the churchContinue reading “Churches Are Funny Places…”

Reach Out

The Right Ones Will Always Stay

Good Morning WordPress. A short word today. It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but learn it I did. Have you?

The End Of Your World

I missed the early train by about thirty seconds this morning. It was so early the ticket office, which provides a modicum of shelter, was closed so I cut a sorry sight on the platform. The wind picked up, the temperature dropped and wicked blasts of snow cut across me as I faced an interminableContinue reading “The End Of Your World”

My Thoughts On The Oscars

Good Morning. I hope you all enjoyed the Oscars. But, has anyone actually seen ‘Parasite’? Fionnuala and I get to the cinema about once a decade. The last film we saw was ‘Bad Boys For Life,’ and before that I think it was ‘Gone With The Wind.’ Yes, that’s how bad it is. We stillContinue reading “My Thoughts On The Oscars”

Hannah Wins The Cup

We have cause to be very proud of our Hannah this weekend. Firstly she has started attending Slimming World classes with Fionnuala in recent weeks and between them have lost almost a stone in weight. I’ve been very impressed with their dedication and willpower, not to mention the many delicious sin free meals they haveContinue reading “Hannah Wins The Cup”

I Must Survive

There are days I feel a failure. A failure as a husband, father, son, colleague, runner, writer, you name it. Where it’s one step forward, ten steps back. Yet, here I am. Still hanging on. Surviving, somehow. Doing it for my family, for the people who believed in me when I was at my lowestContinue reading “I Must Survive”

I Am A Man….

You may or may not know this, but I am a man. A supposedly fully grown, mature one at that, although my family may beg to differ. Yet, for years, I neglected my mental health to the point where it was having a detrimental effect not only on myself but also those around me. ItContinue reading “I Am A Man….”

I Hope You Understand….

If I’ve been a bit quiet of late I hope you understand it has been due to the hectic nature of life. We are a busy family and Fionnuala and I are dragged in various directions with competing demands and priorities. One of us is out every night performing taxi duties for the kids asContinue reading “I Hope You Understand….”

The Enemy Within

The enemy within, the one you can’t run away from, that’s where you will fall, that’s where you will fail. Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will suck your soul dry and leave you for dead. Words are the death of a thousand cuts, the traitorous voice that never stops. Doubting, belittling,Continue reading “The Enemy Within”

I Cannot Let That Voice Win

My brother in law, Gearard, and I embarked on our latest long run yesterday in preparation for the Belfast Marathon in May. This time we stepped the distance up to 15 miles, our longest effort yet. It was chilly but thankfully dry as we set off on the first of several loops round the village,Continue reading “I Cannot Let That Voice Win”

RIP Kobe Bryant

Rock Bottom

I’ve been to rock bottom. It’s not a nice place. I never want to go back there. But it’s made me who I am today and inspired me to push on for fear of stumbling back down into the pit. The knowledge of rock bottom keeps me honest and humble whenever I feel I’m gettingContinue reading “Rock Bottom”

Monday Needs You

Oh Monday morning, how I despise thee. Those are my first thoughts when the alarm sounds and we are greeted with the cold, dark reality of another week. Where does the weekend go? It was only minutes ago we were celebrating Friday and the break ahead. The new week now stares us in the face,Continue reading “Monday Needs You”

It’s Ok Not To Be Ok

Good Morning WordPress. If you’re struggling today, then please be brave and speak to someone about it. Don’t be ashamed. Protect your mental health. It’s your wealth.

Another Busy Day Begins

A grim morning outside but it’s up and at life as ever. I’ve a busy schedule. A big meeting with the big bosses this morning before an afternoon grafting in front of the computer screen. I get quite nervous before such meetings and only settle once I’m in front of my audience delivering the briefing.Continue reading “Another Busy Day Begins”

Lose Your Baggage

I feel like a pack horse trudging into work today. I’m carrying my work bag, running gear, lunch and Diet Coke supplies. I need them all at various times and for various reasons but will be grateful to be less burdened down on the return journey home later today. Carrying stuff around all day isContinue reading “Lose Your Baggage”

Getting Off The Wrong Train

I got on the wrong train the other day. Not on purpose, I might add. I was day dreaming, as ever, and got on a train pulled in at the same platform at the same time as the one I normally get home. Assuming it was mine I got on board without checking it wasContinue reading “Getting Off The Wrong Train”

Don’t Be A Mug

I used to be a people pleaser, so insecure and lacking in self belief that I’d mould my own personality and morals to fit those of whoever were my particular friends at that time. It got me into all sorts of bother and I’m working hard to eradicate that side of my character and beContinue reading “Don’t Be A Mug”

How’s Your Zero Talent List?

Some people think I’m a great runner because I’ve ran nine marathons. Others say I’m a great writer because I’ve written and published a novel. But there are better runners and writers out there who have done neither. I’ve seen numerous people who are infinitely more talented than me drop by the wayside. Why? BecauseContinue reading “How’s Your Zero Talent List?”

Hit The Unfollow Button

I learnt this lesson the hard way but sometimes, no matter how hard you try, some friendships have to end. There are toxic people out there who will bring you down if you allow them. Reminiscent of Icarus who flew too near the sun and paid the ultimate price, it can be fatal. My advice?Continue reading “Hit The Unfollow Button”

OCD Humour

Ah yes. OCD Humour from Lily Bailey, author of ‘Because We Are Bad,’ the best memoir on the illness I’ve ever read. If you want to really, really know what it’s like to live with the disorder, then read her book. It’s funny and heart breaking in equal measure. One of the reasons I decidedContinue reading “OCD Humour”

Here’s To The Survivors

Sometimes maintaining the status quo is a massive achievement in itself. Getting by is all you can manage, keeping your head above water and surviving your current circumstances. It might not seem like much but holding tight and not letting go is a feat to be admired and respected. You need to clear the groundContinue reading “Here’s To The Survivors”

Happy World Introvert Day

It’s World Introvert Day. I never knew such a day existed until it popped up on my Facebook feed this morning. Who decides these days? Is there a committee somewhere locked away in a conference room debating such important matters? I can only assume there’s also a World Extrovert Day, no doubt shouted from theContinue reading “Happy World Introvert Day”

It’s Never As Bad As You Think

This was me 24 hours ago. Yet I crawled out of bed this morning, shaved off my 5 day beard and squeezed into my suit. The train was less busy than usual and the office was manned by a skeleton staff. And do you know what? I survived, it wasn’t as bad as I thoughtContinue reading “It’s Never As Bad As You Think”

Happy Christmas Everyone

Happy Christmas to everyone from the Black clan. We hope you all have a wonderful day. 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻 🎄🎄🎄🎄

Man Shopping On Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve, so like any normal, self-respecting man, I decided to go out Christmas shopping. Because why be logical and organised when you can leave it to the very last minute and run around like a headless chicken on the verge of a massive coronary? This year I took my strapping son, Adam, toContinue reading “Man Shopping On Christmas Eve”

Happy Anniversary To Us

Seventeen years ago today, Fionnuala and I walked down the aisle. She has stuck with me through the rough and the smooth and been everything you could wish for in a wife. I am very fortunate to have met her and owe everything I have achieved to her. Here’s to the next seventeen years andContinue reading “Happy Anniversary To Us”

Are You Too Comfortable?

It’s been a chilly week in Northern Ireland so our electric blanket had been utilised to full effect. Slipping between the covers now at night is reminiscent of sliding into a hot bath, without the whole getting wet business. The only problem comes the next morning when you are forced to abandon your toasty environmentContinue reading “Are You Too Comfortable?”

Caption Contest – The Circus & The Church

The circus has come to town again this Christmas, pitching up in Writers Square, Belfast, next to St. Anne’s Cathedral. I’m no expert photographer but I thought the juxtaposition of the two structures was too good an opportunity to miss. The church? The circus? Clowns and clerics? Drop your caption suggestions below and let’s seeContinue reading “Caption Contest – The Circus & The Church”

Do You Need A Break?

Good Morning Do you need a break? An oasis of calm in the maelstrom of life? A desert island when you are drowning in the worries of everyday existence? A time out in the game of life? Well, we are here for you then. Fractured Faith Blog will be posting every day in 2020. WeContinue reading “Do You Need A Break?”

Thank you

Another very encouraging review from fellow blogger, Lesley. Thank you very much for so eloquently capturing the essence of Skelly’s Square. I tried hard to address very serious and real issues against a supernatural backdrop liberally smattered with action and humour. The book continues to attract positive feedback while promoting mental health, disability, addiction andContinue reading “Thank you”

Fractured Faith. 12,000 Not Out.

We finally hit 12,000 followers earlier today. It seems like forever since we passed 11,000 which I believe is down to a number of factors. Primarily I haven’t been blogging as frequently and, when I have, they have been much shorter posts. There are only so many hours in the day and I’ve been prioritisingContinue reading “Fractured Faith. 12,000 Not Out.”

Who Is Your Lighthouse?

It was a murky lunchtime run today which highlighted the lighthouse exhibit on Belfast Lough. I focused on it from some distance away and it inspired me to keep pressing forward through the blustery, wet conditions. Most other days I would have run past it without a second thought but it was there for meContinue reading “Who Is Your Lighthouse?”

I’ve Had An Anxious Week

I’ve had an anxious few days worrying about work related matters. It started towards the tail end of last week and preyed on my mind over the weekend, before descending again from on high like a hungry vulture on Monday morning. Various unwanted thoughts have spun a not so merry dance around my head despiteContinue reading “I’ve Had An Anxious Week”

Christmas With Kirkwood

I was delighted to read the most recent reviews of ‘Skelly’s Square.’ It’s not every day your writing is compared to Alexandre Dumas so I’ll happily accept the compliment. The book has now received multiple five star reviews and would make the ideal Christmas present for any bookworms you know. It’s available to buy inContinue reading “Christmas With Kirkwood”

Would You Like To Make My Christmas?

I know a lot of you have read and enjoyed the book. It would been a lot to me, if you haven’t already, if you could post a review on Amazon. It takes 5 minutes, it’s free, and it would be the perfect Christmas present for a first time author seeking to fulfil his dreamContinue reading “Would You Like To Make My Christmas?”

Belfast Christmas Market

We travelled up to Belfast this afternoon to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the Christmas Market. It was a little crowded for us but the girls got to sample some French-Canadian cuisine while I made my annual trek to the gigantic muffin stall. Fionnuala and Adam settled for a drive thru McDonalds onContinue reading “Belfast Christmas Market”

You Know You’ve Made It When….

You know you’ve made it when you get an entire page in the village newsletter. This popped into our letter box this afternoon, and shortly afterwards I passed 90,000 words on Book 2. It’s been a busy day all round what with rugby matches, a visit from cousin Cadan and Fionnuala putting the finishing touchesContinue reading “You Know You’ve Made It When….”

5 Things To Quit Right Now

I’ve been guilty of all five and can confirm they are all counter productive and highly negative behavioural patterns. Today I choose to change and walk a different path. A path that leads upwards, out of the abyss. It is possible but it’s a conscious decision we must make every day of our own volition.Continue reading “5 Things To Quit Right Now”