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Christmas Time Anxiety

23 Dec

Throughout my life I have avoided making decisions at all opportunities. I have preferred others to make my decisions for me or I have coasted along life with my go with the flow attitude. This way life just happens to me organically without having to decide on them. However as I am growing older I am trying to more control over my own destiny and life.

This time of year especially, people around us always feel slightly on edge. There is often an overwhelming sense of nervous energy around us. For example; have we bought enough presents for our loved ones? Have we spent enough money on each other? Should we buy a new tree? Have we got enough bobbles on the tree? Can we make all of these Christmas nights out? Can I wear the same thing twice to different parties? Have I written all of my Christmas cards? Do I have time to go to work and still wrap everything? What should I wear on Christmas day? Hopefully we can please everybody?

Over the past ten years my mind has been overly polluted by these various thoughts and stresses over Christmas. But this year, after a tumultuous and difficult 2016 I am trying something different. I am practising contentment every single day. If I am content and present none of the above really matter. This Christmas I will be present and spending quality time with loved ones, practising contentment and enjoying a good rest. That is all that is important to me.

Recently I was in Morrisons recently and watched everybody racing around the aisles with their trolleys panic buying everything in sight. It felt like the world was about to end. Shoppers were buying everything in sight in a panic. The queues were a mile long. The staff were all wearing Christmas jumpers and Santa hats. Christmas music blared through the store. The nervous energy was so contagious that I found myself joining in the madness and putting everything in my trolley too. I was looking at the cheeseboards on offer and there was an intense shopper breathing down my neck behind me. Clearly I was blocking her view and I needed to get out of the cheeseboard traffic jam. As someone who never ever writes lists after twenty minutes of wandering around aimlessly in the Christmas consumerism frenzy I had completely forgotten what I was there for. I walked away from my trolley full of unessential items and returned home. The next day did I say to myself-

“Oh I really needed those Santa Claus pyjamas for my cat to wear on Christmas eve?”

Erm- no. Much to my cat Alfie’s relief.

My therapist says that anxiety is sometimes a result of having too much choice. Worrying about whether or not we make the right decisions. This creates a niggling sense of discontentment in our sub- conscious. Prolonging the decision making process- and in this process making some really impulsive and terrible decisions. In the procrastination period we often use various vices to ease the stress; some use the Xbox; some use shopping; some use drugs; some use alcohol; some use food; some use Netflix; some use the internet; some use a variety of all of these. These vices are used to ease our anxiety ultimately make it ten times worse.

I remember when my anxiety was at its worst I couldn’t even order a Subway sandwich without having a meltdown. As I walked through the door the stench of the food instantly made me feel like being violently ill. And then, after waiting in the queue ogling at all of the options and different sandwich fillings I felt incredibly confused. What the hell did I want?

“can I take your order”

I realised. I have no idea what I want. What do I want? Which sandwich will make me happy? Which sandwich will fill this hole in my heart? That is the question. I had only really stepped in the door and I was expected to immediately be self-assured by my choice of lunch.

“You ready to order yet mam? Which type of bread? Toasted? Plain cheese? Spicy cheese? Salad? Sauce? Meal deal?”

I remember feeling these questions from the server hitting me like bullets. My back turned itchy and I started to sweat. My breathing became shallow and sharp. I felt like screaming and crying in the shop. In full fight or flight mode I just robotically said:

A meatball marinara please. Italian bread. Plain cheese. Toasted. All salad.

What if I regret this decision? As I left the establishment I saw an older homeless man sitting in the doorstep of a shop being questioned by the police and realised that I didn’t need this stupid sandwich in the first place. I could have made myself a basic cheese sandwich of my own. I was influenced by consumerism and my own greed. I mean I still ate my sandwich in the comfort of my own home (I never eat a subway in public as I eat them like an animal) but I felt guilty eating it and didn’t enjoy it. What a waste.

I thought of what my therapist said about the correlation of anxiety and choice and it really made perfect sense. Even making a simple decision like picking a sandwich overwhelmed me and that is how I knew I needed help. Many of us are lucky that we are in the position of being able to choose as we have options whereas others suffering real poverty in third world countries still can’t have access clean water. But this doesn’t mean we should disregard our stresses as they are real for many of us. There is just too much going on in our day to day lives and it can drive you loopy.

Last Christmas I was a complete spoiled brat and had a Christmas day strop as – despite previously buying me a bag and boots a few weeks before Christmas as my main gift- my other half bought me an electric tin can opener and an actual oven glove to open on Christmas Day. I cried and ran to my room. Then I came out again sheepishly feeling stupid because Christmas is not about me- it’s about my little boy. It took me an LONG time to get over the electric tin can opener gift!

However thankfully I have let go of the resentment. I have a busy mind and over-active thoughts- therefore I don’t find meditating easy. During my yoga practice and meditations over the past few weeks I have been visualising the word contentment. Let go of all the negative thoughts. Let go of all the mistakes I’ve made.  Forget worrying if I have bought enough for my sons Christmas. He won’t care. Forget it if his Christmas Eve pyjamas don’t arrive on time. Forget it if nobody likes the cream of cauliflower soup I made- as my dad probably has a backup lentil soup prepared anyway. None of this even matters. This Christmas I just want to enjoy the company of family and friends. It takes practise for me to be present and content and that for me is all that matters this festive season and for the rest of my life. But if I get an electric tin can opener again- I’ll be practising being present and content in a prison cell as I’ll be doing time.


OLSP School News Report 2014

27 Mar

O.L.S.P BBC School News Report  

Thursday 27th March 2014



Our aim for this report is to investigate the impact technology has had on the art of reading. We will interview various experts on the topic- we are making up this backup paper version of the school report just in case technology fails us.

Days before Technology

Correspondent Craig Butchart interviewed our school Luddite Mr McGarvey on his views based on the topic. Mr McGarvey attended University and is an English specialist. He was brought up and educated before the days of technology.

Craig: “What is your favourite book?”

Mr McGarvey: “My favourite book has always been 1984 by George Orwell, because this book is like the bible. Everything Orwell wrote in this book came true. There is a mistrust of technology in this novel.”

Craig: “If someone put a Kindle and a book down on the table which one would you choose and why? “

Mr McGarvey: “Well I would have to say the book- as it never runs out of charge. And there is no risk of it exploding.”

Craig: “How did you cope during your Education, without technology? “

Mr McGarvey: “We coped excellently. In fact I think technology hinders the Education of you all today. We used various utensils such as rulers and stencils. In fact stencils fit the Curriculum for Excellence criteria. Literacy and Numeracy across the curriculum. ”

Advantages/Disadvantages of the Kindle

Correspondent Mitchell Wilson interviewed school Mathematician and whistling guru Mr O’Donnell. Again, Mr O’Donnell also grew up before the days of technology fell upon society.

Mitchell: What was your favourite childhood book?

Mr O’Donnell: As a young boy, I was really into fairy tales. I particularly enjoyed the “Pied piper of Hamelin. My mum used to read it to me time and time again.” Mitchell: Have you ever used technology to read?

Mr O’Donnell: “Yes I have, I’m always on my mobile phone checking the BBC news and sports page.”

Mitchell: “What are your thoughts on the invention of the kindle?”

Mr O’Donnell: “It’s a great idea! It’s very convenient and lightweight. It’s easy to carry around with you and you are able to store the amount of books that would fill a suitcase on one device. However, I’ve never owned or read on the kindle but I would hope to do so in the future.”

The History of Books

Our correspondent, Kelsi Simpson, investigated the history of the classic books. Kelsi: Traditional books have existed ever since the first Bible. Classic authors and poets from Jane Austin, the Bronte sisters to J.K Rowling all handwrote their work. Story telling has been going on for thousands and thousands of years and this was all without the aid of technology. Can you image Jane Austen using a Kindle? There are many benefits of reading:

  • Reading can help prevent Alzheimer’s
  • Enhances your memory
  • Boosts your analytical thinking
  • Expands your vocabulary.

Never underestimate the importance of reading.   All about Kindles Nowadays the Kindle has become immensely popular in the last three years since it was released. It is an electronic reading tablet that enables you to purchase books, magazines and newspapers directly to your device. You can also purchase games, puzzles etc. The benefits of the kindle are:

  • It’s lighter than books
  • It’s easy to take on holiday
  • Takes up less room,
  • You can see in the dark.

However, you never need to charge up a book and many use Kindles for other sources of entertainment, rather than reading.

The effects of Kindles on our Local Libraries

Our correspondent Zoe, investigated the effects that the kindles has had on libraries. The head of West Dunbartonshire libraries- Allan Gordon has spent time discussing with us how technology has affected our local libraries. Here is what he has to say; Allan_Gordon_Portrait_White_Background

“As you can see from the figures, book borrowing is still very popular even if it has declined slightly. We have a lot of people who have borrowed E- books and E- magazines from us. People are still reading, but not with the traditional book.”

He also added;

“Technology has had a big impact on libraries. Our computers in each brand are used almost constantly. They are used to share the internet and print out important documents. The advent of ICT has brought a lot of new people into libraries. We provide classes in using computers, tablets, digital cameras and smartphones. The negative impact is that people have more leisure options and there has been a slight decrease in people using traditional books. Some people just buy their books for the kindle or other types of E- book readers and don’t feel the need to use libraries’ as much as they used to.”

Finally the results are in…..

Our two S2 reporters Mitchel Wilson and Siobhan McKinley took charge a survey and asked over 50 members of the Our Lady and St Patricks Community whether they preferred traditional books or new age Kindles. They asked a wide range of community members- from parents, to teachers- including the Head Teacher Mr Rooney to the pupils of the school. Surprisingly the tradition book was by far in the lead!


Overall, from the statistics and figures we can see that the art of reading books is still very popular. Perhaps in the future physical books and Kindles will both thrive together. There are benefits and disadvantages of both forms. Don’t forget- it is National Book Night on the 23rd of April- will you be a book owl?

dr seuss

A big thank you to all those involved:

S3- Craig Butchart, Liam McQuade, Demi Sullivan, Jenna Meenan and Aleisha Vincent. S2- Sarah Docherty, Mitchell Wilson, Siobhan McKinley, Innes Campbell, Rose Moran and Kelsi Simpson.

And finally thanks to Miss Clarkin for leading the team and Mr Dunlop for his help too.


Dog Syndrome.

12 Jun

Cutest thing ever. Fact.

On one occasion at Bookclub, one of our members Abby Bowes and our co-co-ordinator Ms Clarkin shared a special bond over their childhood. Apparently they were diagnosed with ‘Dog Syndrome’, not as a disease but a way of living…..As children, for a year, they responded to others, only as canine characters.  They were known to eat and drink and even bark and bite like dogs.  Does anyone else share this experience? Is it a rare condition? Nobody else at bookclub could understand this situation. Ms Clarkin states ;

“This outer body experience only lasted a year of my childhood. I completely blame Walt Disney’s The Fox and the Hound. The character of Copper changed my life. So cute! I only responded to the name Copper. I ate out of a bowl. I howled.  And I bit my older brother on the back during a family holiday to Ireland. Safe to say, that this incident put an end to my dog phase.”

Does anyone out there relate to this issue?

On this note, enjoy this classic!

Bookclub Anecdote Box…..

12 Jun

“It was formed five months ago. It is where we go every Friday and eat lunch. Currently we have been issued the book ‘Looking for JJ’ by Anne Cassidy to discuss. Other books we have read are ‘Eclipse’, ‘The Killing Sea’, ‘Apocalypse’ and ‘The Flood.’ Book Club was originally formed for an Integrated Learning Challenge, but the response it received made it continue on. It counts as an extra-curricular activity. As a new member I feel very welcome. We have also set up a blog and is up and running. It is a fun and easy way to interact with others and I hope to carry on at Bookclub. All the teachers that run Bookclub seem to think they are all ‘batman.’ Also Mrs McConnell pops in occasionally to help us out.”

“Bookclub is like one big happy family.”

“We also have Mrs McConnell who is the clown of the group.”

“Bookclub occupies our Friday lunchtimes. It may not seem like it, but it really is a lot of fun! The basics of the club are that we are given a book and are allocated a certain amount of chapters to read for the next week.  Although we work hard discussing and debating about books- we also find time to gossip!”

“When we go to Bookclub we know we are looked after because the teachers (who, by the way are the best in the world) bring us cakes and sweets!”

“It’s all great fun and it gives us all the opportunity to make new friends.!”

“Bookclub takes place in Mr McKendrick’s room however he isn’t a part of the club. At one point I believe he tried to break in. “


“There is no such thing …

1 May

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”

Wise words from Oscar Wilde, (1854 – 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891, preface


‘Hunger Games’ V ‘Looking for JJ’

1 May

The Battle of the Books continues....

Various members’ have spoken- a campaign to read and discuss Suzanne Collin’s popular novel the ‘Hunger Games’ for the club has been started….Any thoughts?

Bookclub Boogie

1 May

Guess Who?