Storyteller.
Business Diviner.
Digital Marketing Specialist.
Social Media Manager.

How to Build a Breakwater

Porthcawl Pier being hit by a huge wave

A very long time ago, I visited my grandparents in England and spent weeks in Porthcawl, a town on the south coast of Wales, about an hour outside of Cardiff.

It was the summer. Annie Burke, my paternal grandmother, would go every day to the seaside and sit with her friend Dyllis, warm in the sun, laughing and talking. I was left a bit on my own during my stay but would poke about mysterious tidal pools finding wonders all day. I remember the visit fondly.

In this seaside resort town, I saw only sunshine. My Nana would tell me stories about how waves would stream up and onto city streets in bad weather. And Porthcawl saw some nasty weather. In the 1800’s they built a breakwater to allow ships in and out safely.

Today, I was pondering that breakwater. It’s Mother’s Day. I am also thinking about my mother and my adult child. 

Watching my child come of age in the last few years, knowing that all I want for them is the best in whatever they choose to do, I was reminded that my mother would have wanted the same. Even though we saw each other infrequently in the last few months of her life, I missed her dearly.

I was already a bit adrift at that time – still struggling with the effects of the family break up about seven years before. Yeah, I know. I process stuff slowly.

And then, of course, Mum died, and the rest of my safety lines to dry land were cut. After her death, not knowing where to call my home port, I became comfortable with riding out storms on the open sea alone, facing down the wind and the rain. Or I thought I did.

Really, I was having trouble understanding what it was all about. Hence, my less than stellar first outing at university. It’s a bit tough to focus on your future when you don’t get the point of it all in the first place. And Burkes are nothing if we aren’t prone to a little existential angst. We don’t half like to stare out at the abyss and say, ‘what the fuck’ a lot.

So, I stared at the abyss throughout my university years, and, of course, I walked away without finishing the degree. If I was in that state today, I expect my friends and family would hip bump me into counselling, but, at that time, we didn’t really think about getting our heads shrunk. We kinda threw people into deep water, and they swam, or they did not.

I swam. And I did not.

Leaving university left me with the nagging doubt about whether I was good enough to finish anything. Getting a degree was a point of character back in the day. Dropping out was a failure only absolved by massive success.

So, to be honest, I walked through life pretty much operating under the quiet assumption that I wasn’t as good as the guy sitting beside me. It’s kinda funny that I achieved as much as I did. I must be an excellent swimmer.

But now, I want a safe harbour. My husband needs a lot of carrying, and, yeah, I can swim, but it’s getting harder. My child sometimes takes the load but is still a bit in tow. I need to bring us home.

So, I went back to school to get the degree I started 40 years ago, hoping that I would get a real job out of it. Much to my surprise, my first marks have come in, and they are ridonculously high. I am gobsmacked, really. I had a profound reaction to the news and sat quietly for most of the afternoon. It didn’t feel like a vindication. It didn’t make me want to crow. In fact, I didn’t tell the rest of the world for a day or so.

It felt like sandbags. It felt like the start of a breakwater. It felt like maybe I am done with storms on the high seas. Maybe I’m building a safe harbour.

So, this Mother’s Day, I am content and hopeful as I sift through my fond memories of my Nana. I am sure my Mum would be proud of me. I hope I am showing my child that you don’t have to, nor should you have to, stay out in a storm.

Happy Mother’s Day, to those who celebrate.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help me out, go ahead and click on an ad on this page. It makes me an incremental amount of money which will encourage me to continue. 

Jacqui Burke is a storyteller who writes and who also directs theatre. Jacqui has been telling stories for almost all her life (if you count the bedtime stories when her child was wee).

Jacqui is also very geeky and loves the puzzle of SEO. She offers SEO optimization and blogging services.

Contact her here for a free consult.

Think we might be a fit?
Let's find out.

Google Reviews

  • 5 star review  Good

    thumb Chas Ellis
    February 11, 2020
  • 5 star review  Whoa! If this is what Jacqui offers in a free one hour consult, I can’t imagine the riches of her paid service. Jacqui shared so much of her knowledge in that small space of time, most of which was applicable and relevant. Thanks so much Jacqui.

    thumb P3 Midwifery
    February 11, 2019
  • 5 star review  Jacqui’s skills as a graphic artist, a web designed and social media expert are solid. I use her for press releases, for social media campaigns, for graphic design and web design and I have nothing but good things to say. I can highly recommend her to you for your part or full time business. And please pay close attention to the need for your site to be mobile friendly, as once Jacqui made the adjustment to my site the number of unique (first time) visitors to those who became serious prospects for my service nearly doubled!

    thumb Eskimo Pete
    February 11, 2019
  • 5 star review  Jaybird Social Media provided excellent knowledge transfer when I needed some advice with online marketing. Jacqui evaluated the specific needs for my small artisan business and pointed me in the direction I need to be going. I felt like she understood my business and the whys and wherefores of social media and marketing and highly recommend Jaybird’s services.

    thumb Lynn Wyminga
    February 11, 2015
  • 5 star review  I approached Jacqui to design a campaign website for me as I seek re-election as a Trustee for the TDSB. From our first meeting, I knew I had made the right choice. Jacqui had done her research and came equipped with a variety of suggestions to enhance my campaign both with the website and other aspects of the process. During the design of the website, my campaign team and I suggested changes long after Jacqui had done the initial layout. I delayed the date for going live on several occasions. No problem! She responded to all suggestions positively and made them work, no matter how far-fetched. Her rates were reasonable and very much worth the money spent. I have already linked Jacqui up with another candidate and will continue to recommend Jaybird Social Media in the future. Jerry Chadwick

    thumb Jerry Chadwick
    February 11, 2015
  • 5 star review  Jaybird Social Media is an excellent resource for social media needs. Jacqui is incredibly knowledgeable and skilled and won’t just tell you what needs to be done but demonstrate clearly through her work the benefits of what needs to be done. She walked us through exactly what is important, why a business should do certain things in social media, and the results one can expect from specific actions. When you’re looking to get your business online and make yourself visible, it’s important to pick somebody who you can trust. After all, every business is your own pride and joy, and it’s important to know that your investments into your own business are worthwhile. Working with Jaybird Social Media was a joy and the results show. Thank you!

    thumb Purple Squirrels
    February 11, 2015
  • 5 star review  Music TORONTO has enjoyed working with Jacqui and Jaybird Social Media. Her professionalism and quick turnaround time make it a pleasure to work with her on projects like app development and movie screen ads!

    thumb Heather Lacey
    February 11, 2016
  • 5 star review  Jacqui and Jaybird Social Media have be awesome to work with and instrumental in the successful orchestration of our social media campaign. They have made a huge difference. I highly recommend them.

    thumb Gregory Neely
    February 11, 2016

Examples of Work

some social feeds i work on
for others

some recent creative and copy I worked on

© 2022 Jacqui Burke. All rights reserved. Please read our privacy policy here.