I'VE been writing about the world outside my window for almost 20 years on these pages. How things have changed, and how they have stayed the same.
I've reflected on our issues, cheered on our successes, tried to get my head around our disasters. I hope that through my words, whether I've annoyed readers or not, I've made folks think about things from another's perspective.
As parents of children who are growing up in Northern Ireland, we deserve better than what our political institutions are currently providing. I don't care if you're from the Shankill Road or Creggan, we are being failed ceaselessly. And not only being failed, but voting for that failure time and time again.
We have been left completely rudderless in the roughest of seas, abandoned to the relentless battering elements of crisis – cost of living, health, education, policing and the fall out from an increasingly fracturing society.
And like turkeys voting for Christmas, we cheer on and vote in those whose job it is to fix things as they look on, arms folded, from the wings as Northern Ireland veers violently from one crisis to the next.
It's the job of politicians to talk, shout, wrestle, wrangle, negotiate and make stuff work on behalf of those who voted for them. Not walk away. Walking away is giving up. Walking away shows you're not capable of standing your ground and fighting your corner.
This time and the last time the lights went out in Stormont, our schools found themselves completely on their knees, our health service suffered the same fate, progress stalled on crucially important issues, regulations were not implemented to the detriment of all people.
With no government we were seen as an unstable entity with regard to investment, a place that is perpetually teetering on the brink of some kind of spiralling abyss, not worth investing in.
Political nothingness creates a void in which malicious groups are allowed to grow and thrive. Those groups gunned down an innocent woman in Creggan four years ago. Those groups brought young men out onto the streets of Derry again this week for rioting.
The longer we stay in crisis mode the less chance we have of pulling hope back to this place.
There is literally nothing positive about being a region that is leaderless.
People are passionate about their identities and culture. But surely we vote in our politicians due to our belief that they will use their intelligence and experience to work out solutions and move us forward? In what other line of work would people be allowed to do nothing when a problem arises or a challenge needs overcome? In what other line of work would a problem be allowed to fester so very badly and not be seen as a total and absolute dereliction of duty?
Is what we have now all we think we deserve? Is it all we think our children deserve? And their children? Have we all just got so used to chaos, instability, sporadic violence, rising sectarianism and the sickness in our society getting worse that we don't think we can achieve anything better than this?
I know a lot of people in Northern Ireland have just given up concerning themselves with politics here. They are tired and fed up with the constant drama. They think on what they can control, their immediate surroundings, and not wider society, because it's a mess that looks like a mountain to climb. That is a situation which is dangerous in itself as it leaves those on the extremities to shout and be heard.
If we really want a better future for this place, we all need to work to be part of the solutions. We need to push those who have control over those problems to get in a room and sort them out. We need to start where we are, with what we have and try to move forward.
We need to not give up.