Praise Be to the Ice-cream Gods!

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I’m thankful for so much these days I actually have to stop, take a breath and list them all in my head before I continue on my merry way. For starters, my kids are ten and twelve, they have me as a mother but somehow I haven’t managed to emotionally scar them too much and they seem to like sleeping in the coat closet under the stairs during the long winter months. But I only hope they learn to pick up after themselves very soon or they will be brutally decapitated in their sleep by a crazed Irish woman wielding a blunt but deadly wooden spoon.

A certain long-suffering hubby is indescribable in his far reaching, positive outlook on life and its possibilities. Well most of the time anyhow, he’s only human. We laugh and smile every day and I mean that. He challenges me to aim high and nudges me in the right direction when I’ve screwed up and have wandered aimlessly off the path. Well okay, he sometimes lectures and nags and bellows but I am getting hard of hearing in my youth (only in the left ear mind.) We sing, or at least I do, skip, dance and have been known to spend long, wet, steamy hours lounging in hot tubs talking nonsense and sipping a glass of wine or two while trying to yank each other’s swimsuit off. Sorry too much information, but I have to reinforce how grateful I feel.

My family, especially my parents are still around and they make me smile when I think of them back in the old country surrounded by wily sheep and straying donkeys. My two sisters, God how I love them, and I’m not even religious. (Sorry Mom, but I tried it for nineteen solid years and it just didn’t gel with me.) Back to my sisters, they’ve matured and succeeded in their lives and have made me so proud of them. I love their boys too – such characters and geniuses like their aunt.

I’d like to get a little personal and pay tribute to my body, for it’s hard work and diligence over the past 28 years. I’m listening to a psychology research book that basically says there are physiological benefits to lying to yourself about your age. And frankly I’m still 21 in reality and feel great. Yes, if I sneeze too aggressively, I might have to change my drawers, (I know tmi) or I limp when I’ve been sitting at the computer for too long following deep and scary dialogues in my head. I can’t remember words sometimes, for example dreadlocks is a tricky one and that word comes in handy when I don’t brush the back of my hair for a week, as I’ve been known to do. I can sometimes hit a tennis ball over the net if I aim three feet higher and keep my elbow jammed into my side, it seems to work and all the professionals do it so my generous and patient coach says. I might have to ice my elbow and wrist after my lesson but it sure beats sitting around and whining all day about the price of butter or nappies, (sorry diapers) for you Yanks.

Now to pay homage to my zany, wacko immature personality, it’s got me through life very efficiently thus far and I have an inkling it will carry me through till I’m placed lovingly into an environmentally friendly and recyclable coffin and laid to rest on the moon or wherever they’ll be firing us at that point. I really feel blessed that I enjoy making an ass of myself in order to hear my friend’s and family laugh. I used to feel a pressure that I had to be over zealous and be the center of attention and yes that egomaniac still exists, but I’ve found a quieter place to listen to friends or at least try to. I spend as many hours as I can writing stuff in the vain hope that society will want to preserve my brain in pickle juice. A renowned neurosurgeon may consider delicately removing my brain from my thick skull. He’ll drill a teeny wee hole from which he can gently suck out my brain, which in fact I know he can’t do as your brain consists of a jellylike substance. Who knew that our spiritual essence is really wobbly, solidified sugar water and gelatin. Pretty miraculous!

Back to the writing, I have slowed down recently with my editing. I guess I needed a bit of a time out. Getting distracted comes easily and a few seasonal viruses and premenopausal issues etc. have kept me busy. But I’m so privileged to receive regular advice from an array of amazing writers. Just this week, Sidney suggested that I should make my main character Kit’s motivations clearer in the opening chapters. A simple step you might think, but it intensifies the roots of story. So thank you again Sidney. I look forward to continuing my work on each chapter of “Northern Branches” with love and respect. That’s what it eventually boils down to.

My final tribute is too my friends. It feels weird that I have friends. I grew up a very insecure little fruit-loop. I could talk but didn’t feel that comfortable in my own skin or with my peers. But now after 28 glorious years I’m beginning to appreciate that I have collected a personal tribe of friends who I adore and for reasons unknown to me they’ve stuck around. So here’s a shout out to Graham, Bea and Julie in the UK, my fav. people. They create smiles-a-plenty, or bounce me back to earth with a gentle jolt if I’ve misbehaved or forgotten boundaries. Oops. There are too many others, and I can’t believe that they span many parts of this grand planet and WOW is all I can say.

My final thank you is to the Gods of Ice cream. I don’t partake that often but on those indulgent days I add a British Cadbury’s milk chocolate Flake and that is just … I guess words can’t really muster up that delicate moment of ecstasy.

Be well my Darlings and let me know if you have anything in your lives that wants to burst out of you and yell thanks into the stratosphere.

Northern Branches” – a captivating tale of a young girl growing up in the Northern Irish countryside surrounded by family angst during the Troubles in the 70s and 80s. A story of suspense and redemption is packed with encouragement and seeks to find life’s true values.

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About Jackie Cartwright

Jackie Cartwright spent her childhood in Northern Ireland, during the Troubles, in a farming town called Limavady, where “Northern Branches” takes place. She is a former English and Theatre Studies high-school teacher, who attended Leeds and Oxford University. She taught in London for five years, finishing as a Department Head. She has worked as an Assistant Director for successful British TV dramas such as “Daylight Robbery”, and dabbled as a radio presenter for an English hospital radio. This novelist ‘wanna be’ lives in New York with her husband, a hungry Guinea Pig, five goldfish and two small kids. She fell in love with the U.S.A while working at a Summer Camp in Maine and during a semester at Ripon College Wisconsin as part of her B.A. She is active in several local not-for-profit organizations, acting as a mentor at Women Care and as the leader of the Westchester Chapter of the Holistic Moms Network for four years. She adores volunteering for WNYC New York Public Radio and is an active PTA member. Jackie partners with the Sound Shore Writers Group in Rye, and has attended several writing courses at Sarah Lawrence and Gotham Writers Workshop. She teachers writing when she finds the time. On her Tumblr blog, www.egotasticearthmom@tumblr.com, Jackie shares her Irish wit, a passion for writing, and holistic parenting. “Northern Branches” is her debut novel.
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