This Time Next Year

'Do Yourself Proud' - Johanne McColgan

Johanne McColgan

This Time Next Year

Welcome to Donegal Live's inaugural ‘This Time Next Year’ column.

I got this idea from my friend, Caroline, who said she was going off social media this time next year because all of our digital memories would be swamped with coronavirus posts.

I thought, what if we get people visioning forward from today, to this time next year, we will have something more positive popping up in our social media memories in 2021.

Also, it might take our minds of pandemic, lockdown, isolation and restriction for a wee while. I hope other Inish Times readers will feel inspired to get involved.

This week’s ‘This Time Next Year’ was written by Johanne McColgan, a mum, teacher and GAA stalwart, from Muff. I hope you enjoy her reflections.

Johanne McColgan: Do Yourself Proud

‘Do yourself proud.’ This was the brief and only rule that I gave my 6th class this year.

Those three little words could be used to define their behaviour and attitudes throughout the year instead of a long list of ‘do not or cannot’. 

Those three words can be applied to every human being on the planet right now. 

We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and our children and ourselves are being inundated with new rules for our behaviour and our movements.  This has brought great distress to all of us.  We are struggling to cope in these surreal and challenging times. 

Like my class I try to ‘do myself proud’ every day.  I focus on the positives and the things that I can do in this situation and try not to dwell on the negative thoughts that constantly creep back into my mind. 

In an effort to thwart the darkness from creeping back in I try to focus on the future.  This time next year where would I like to be? Who will I be with? And What will I be doing?

As a teacher, I hope to be back in the classroom, the school yard and ‘up the pitch’ with my ever enthusiastic and smiling students.  Their laughter and giggles, complaints and questions echoing around my head at the end of each day. 

I look forward to Cumann Na mBunscol blitzes, the Finn Valley Sports, The Sports Days, Play Days, Assemblies and End of Year Masses.  These are the occasions that remain in our memories and those of the children for years to come.  When I think back to my own school days, it isn’t the books or work I remember, but the amazing teachers, friends and fun times that I experienced that remain vivid in my memories.

As a parent I hope to be surrounded by my constantly growing kids.  Watching my boys stretch even taller above me and grow into young men that I will be proud of.  Watching my girls run quicker and with more zest in each race they take part in.

I hope to be standing on the side of a Gaelic pitch calling out encouragement and words of support as I stand proudly watching my children play for their club and County.

As a coach I look forward to the many training sessions ahead with my Naomh Padraig girls’ team.  I think about the game plays and skills that we will focus upon. 

I so look forward to sunny evenings training at the Ture pitch overlooking the Foyle.  I am excited at the thought of a new match season with the hopes and aspirations of the girls filling me with enthusiasm for my coaching and managing of them. 

I look forward to watching their successes no matter how small.  Sometimes it’s just that one kick or pass that brings a smile that can last a lifetime.

As a runner, I look forward to running in groups again and hearing the craic and banter as the miles just drift away before we suddenly realise, we are done! 

The camaraderie and friendships that we made on the road will last through these days of brief solo runs and bring smiles to our faces at the thought of new challenges completed with fellow running enthusiasts.

This time next year I hope to be listening to the sweet tones of the accordion and the whistle as my kids prepare for the Fleadh and Feis competitions.  Never have I loved the music as much as I do now.  The house is rarely silent, and a session keeps starting up once one child picks up their instrument.  The music is an escape and a tonic all wrapped up together.  I look forward to the many local sessions, the lessons, the orchestra and listening to the sweet music of many talented musicians. 

As a family the Fleadh has become a yearly activity where we spend quality time together, holidaying around Ireland, seeing the sights, supporting our young musicians and appreciating the talent that has been given to so many.

It’s hard not to dwell on the past or the present in the current situation but remember that every tunnel has ending, every hill has a downhill, every race a finish and every tune a sweet ending.  So, with that in mind, I ask you all to look forward to what will come and to ‘Do yourselves Proud’ every day until we get there.

To share your ‘This Time Next Year’ aspirations with Inish Times and Donegal Live readers, please email: catherine.mcginty@iconicnews.ie or message the Inish Times Facebook page and we’ll do the rest.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email editorial@donegaldemocrat.ie To contact Donegal Post, email editor@donegalpost.com To contact Inish Times, email editor@inishtimes.com.

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