Archive for the 'Personal Reflection' Category

Highs and Lows

I have been in Ireland for 25 days now.  In some ways it feels like i have just gotten used to the country and now I am getting ready to leave. Perhaps the anticpation of my looming departure makes the remaining days here feel more cherished then those first ones nearly four weeks ago when a month seemed so long.  But I have done and seen so much since I have been here and everything looks different from this side.

I have successfully covered a big part of the country and have had some life-changing moments of solitude and some life-giving conversations with people…but it’s too soon to think about what I have done because my trip isn’t over yet.   That blog will come later.

For now I’ll tell you some highlights–and some lowlights for that matter–of the past couple of weeks.

I have been so incredibly blessed in Kilkenny where my host, Ann, took me to see everything from Monastic ruins, cathedrals and castles to a famine workhouse, and an emigrant ship museum.  We even had lunch in the small town of Inistioge where the movie Circle of Friends was filmed. There is nothing like site-seeing with locals to really get to see an area. But perhaps some of the best moments have been conversations over dinner and wine with Ann and Nial in the evenings.

After about a week at Great Oak I went west and spent a few days in the town of Lahinche where I saw the Cliffs of Mohr and took a ferry out to the Aran Islands.  It was one of my favorite days on the trip (minus the queasy ferry ride) and if I were to do it again I would spend a night on the island. They are beautiful and still hold an old Irish culture tha thas been lost in most of central Ireland.

I have also successfully driven on the left without drifting into oncoming traffic! I consider this to be among my great accomplishments. Navigating the narrow Irish roads, however, was not one of my favorite moments. I rented a car in Limerick and explored for a few days, but my first day (in Galway) ended with me being lost for about 5 hours.  By the time i finally found the place where i was going in the city i was far too frustrated and tired to see anything.  The next day i got early and headed to the Dingle peninsula (side note: very amazing. If you are in Ireland it’s worth seeing) and then on to the town of Killarney.  Everything was going much better then the day before and just as i was reflecting on this and feeling quite confident in my new driving abilities, I got a flat tire.  There i was stranded on a back road and couldn’t get my cell phone to work.  The thing about Ireland is that their regional and country roads have no shoulder and the speed limit is often 100. It’s quite terrifying actually. So i pulled over as best i could (into the bushes) and started walking down the highway to the nearest house. Thankfully the owners were there gardening and took pity on me. I used their phone and then sat and had coffee with them as I waited for road side assistance. As it turns out they were quite a lovely couple who had decided to retire in Ireland after living in England most of their lives.  They were so kind that I decided to return after my tire was changed in order to give them a thank-you present. Once again they welcomed me in and what I had meant to be only a quick stop turned into one of my favorite nights! Bernard and Birdie told me story after story about their neighbours, their family, their lives, and culture in Ireland.  One story would not be finished before another began, and before i knew it i had been there for hours drinking tea and enjoying their company. Bernard, a very well-read man, had lots to share once he found out about my MA topic and even sent me home with three books!  Before i left we exchanged addresses and they sent me off with a big hug. It was the the best flat tire i have ever had!  It’s funny how sometimes the set backs end up becoming golden opportunities. I think what I have been learning the most during my time here in Ireland is that it is only in letting go of expectations that you can really embrace what Life is offering.

The next day I left Killarney for Cork to visit a museum in Cobh which was the port where many immigrant ships left for Canada, US, and Australia (including the Titanic). After a week of travel on my own i decided to head back “home” to Kilkenny and spent another few days at Great Oak. I went back to St. Canice’s cathedral in the city in order to climb up a 108 ft tower. The view was great, but sadly as I was climbing down my camera fell out of my bag and down the tower!  Needless to say, the camera is toast.

And now I am in the great city of Belfast which has been nothing but fun! i have been relaxing after a long few weeks of site seeing and enjoying the company of some great people here. After my time in Belfast I head back to Dublin where i will visit a few more sites before leaving Ireland altogether.

You can check out www.ssu.ca/traveltheworld in order see more about what I have been up to here in Ireland. But for those of you who are wondering, i have tried some authentic Irish food (not just beer) while i’ve been here including Black Pudding (made from pigs’ blood).  To my total surprise, black pudding isn’t actually pudding at all but comes in a roll which you slice and fry. It’s part of the traditional Irish breakfast.

And that’s my brief update. Hopefully i will find time to share some of the things i have been thinking about during my time here but first I need to process that myself.

Until then…

The Cliffs of Mohr

The Cliffs of Mohr

Advertisements

Dubh Lin

Well, after a year of hoping, wishing, praying, and planning I have at long last made it to Ireland.  Currently in the capital city of Dublin, I am finishing my day as most of you are just getting off work.

It’s quite strange to be in a city where everyone speaks English, and yet everything is still so foreign. Despite the common language I question how well i can actually communicate with people.  I mostly get strange looks when i talk so I have refrained from doing so too much today since I am already rather sensitve and tired after a long journey.

John Mannion, a historian on Irish immigration in Canada, wrote this about early Irish immigrants:

Once the Irish peasant had left his native townland, he said farewell to kin and neighbours and to almost everything that was customary and familiar. For the first time, perhaps, he faced the world virtually alone, as a stranger. To his eyes the novelty of the move must have appeared overwhelming.  (John Mannion, Irish Settlements in Eastern Canada, 1974)
In a very very small way, I think i can relate.  Although I have travelled lots, this is my first time travellign in a foreign country alone. I don’t think i anticipated how overwhelming it would all see..for the first time facing the world alone, as a stranger.

Despite the initial experience at Dublin airport (not the friendly place I imagined), everyone has been helpful so far. I had my first day at Trinity College where I passed through the groves of tourists and into the Berkley Library with my very own TCD student card.  The head librarian was particularly lovely. She went out of her way to give me a tour, collect material, and provide me with direction to every place I would ever want to go.

Although my accomplishments today only involved staying awake and getting the basic of TC library use, my suspicions were confirmed. Most of the primary sources I need are scattered around Ireland at local history site (archives, libraries, museums, etc.).  I didn’t imagine there were any sources Trinity College didn’t have as it contains over 4 millions books. Copyright laws automatically give them a copy of every book published in England. I understood today why you need a master’s degree to become a Libarian! I can’t imagine having to catalog and organize all those collections!  In fact, only about 20% of Trinity’s sources are on the shelves for public access–the  rest are stockpiled or electronic.

I suppose some people are wondering (and the rare few maybe even interested) in what I am actually studying here in Ireland.  Well, this is all research for my classes at St. Stephen’s University and eventual Masters thesis.  Specifically, while I am here, I am focusing a research paper called “Cultural Transfer and the Irish Immigration Narrative in New Brunswick.”  Of course  i am looking at Irish settlement in all the Maritimes, but often New Brunswick (saint john and st. andrews) was an entry point for irish immgrants.

Here is a short excerpt from my project proposal which i am using as an outline which may give you an idea of exactly what i am doing way over here across the Atlanti:

The Irish Diaspora is a compelling field of study in both Canada and Ireland. With the help of the Ireland Canada University Foundation, I plan to explore in depth the historical phenomenon of cultural transfer and the Irish immigration narrative in New Brunswick and Maritime Canada. Through the study of the Irish exodus and the eventual settlement of Irish Catholics in New Brunswick (1765-1850), Atlantic Canada as a whole will gain a clearer understanding of the Irish contribution to Canadian identity.  This work will provide a detailed case study of early Irish settlement communities in the province of New Brunswick (particularly the Miramichi and Saint John regions) to determine what cultural traits and traditions were both left behind in the “Old World” and which were kept in particular “New World” settlements.  To achieve this research objective, a thorough analysis of the cultural transfer of early Irish communities is essential. I plan to uncover the ideals of these early immigrants, how their expectations were met (or not met), how the economic and social status of the Catholic immigrants in particular affected their migration and settlement choices, which folk traditions were kept and which were lost, and finally how fully appreciating the Irish Diaspora in the Maritime Provinces will help preserve Irish culture and enhance Canada’s Irish identity.

The Irish Catholic settlement communities in New Brunswick remained unassimilated longer than other regions of immigration in the region.  They still retain a vibrant Irish identity.  As such, these communities can be used as a case study for both Irish and Canadian scholars alike.  However, to be credible, this research initiative must have access to significant sources contained in the archives and libraries of Dublin; sources such as emigration and ship records, censuses, newspapers, and periodicals, as well as immigration and folk literature and related first-hand accounts. The Irish people in New Brunswick have much to offer both Canada and Ireland, but cultural transfer and the Irish immigration narrative needs deliberate attention and investment. As one scholar of Irish Diaspora Studies put it, “If Irish Diaspora Studies – and, indeed, Irish Studies – is to be anything more than a ragbag of predilections then we must make good scholarship our first aim.” (Patrick O’Sullivan, University of Bradford, 1997)

Le Update

It’s saturday morning and I am sitting in my livingroom staring out my bay window at very green trees.  I think that summer has finally come.  I still feel the need to pinch myself because I dreamt of this moment all winter long and was starting to believe it would never come.  I don’t know about you, but this past winter felt so very long.  In some ways it was like I took a deep breath in November– the way you do when you are about to get a needle in your arm–and didn’t let it out until i saw the first buds on the maple trees, sometime in early May.  Six months is a long time to go without breathing.

But i am alive and i am well, and i have been told i am so very neglectful of my blog!  I have been waiting for something grand to report but it turns out that changes in life are mostly gradual–seldom happening all at once.

My roommate moved out last month and I have decided to move into an apartment just upstairs at the end of summer.  It’s nicer but a bit smaller which will be great because I have decided that I would like to live alone for awhile.  This is my attempt to bring some sort of balance into my own life. I can be a social butterfly and a people pleaser and if I don’t force myself into contemplation it may never happen–a tragic thing as those moments are among my most treasured. I am also hoping to start my Master’s thesis in the fall so I will need all the help i can get to concentrate!

In other news I started gardening. I don’t consider myself of the domestic sort and have never grown a thing in my life but I am actually enjoying the process.  It is a test of patience.  I like to see immediate results and I am not good at waiting but  I think there is lesson in this.  The more time and space and attention i give the vegetables, the better they grow.  If I am patient and responsible, i will see the reward of my efforts.  We are not used to waiting for things in our culture. We are not used to bearing the responsibility of producing that which we need to sustain our lives. We are only used to consuming it.  But there is this strange freedom and ownership that comes along with knowing that I CAN do it–that we all have that ability because we were meant to be connected to our land. I think the more we are connected and actively working with the land, the less we are inclined to abuse it.  But that is a blog for another time…

ON IRELAND…

I promised to keep everyone updated on my plans to go to Ireland.  The short story is that i still have not heard news from the research grant I applied for.  They said it could be as late as the end of June when i would find out…i was just hoping it wouldn’t take so long!!  But I am making plans to go either way. The grant will determine how long I can actually stay (probably 5 or 6 weeks if i get it, but only 3 if i don’t).  I have done a great job at compartmentalizing it all so far, but as the departure date draws nearer (2nd weeks of july, hopefully) the more anxious I am getting about it all.  I worked so very hard on the proposal and in many ways it is like the seeds i planted in my garden. It is a small action that represents a bigger hope.  For me this is more than just a trip, it’s part of a bigger dream.  Perhaps the only dream that is fully mine that I have ever dared to pursue independently–therefore, in many ways, it is like I am on the line, not just  a cool opportunity.

But I have had overwhelming encouragement and support which I will honestly say has been the only that has gotten me this far. I am so inclined to doubt myself and lose confidence so quickly.  People’s prayers and support have been like the wind that keeps me in the air. I am reminded daily that I can do nothing well when i am fully alone. I need people to help me “grow” my dreams, and I need to help others do the same.  I am learning that the things I deem worthy are valid and I have a right and a responsibility to pursue them.

So, despite the fact that I was overcome with anxiety last night and unable to sleep thinking about logistics and how I am going to make this possible if I don’t get the grant, i am stating with confidence that i WILL  go. Someway, somehow, I will be in Ireland a month from now.

If you are DYING to help me I could use all the prayer and encouragement i can get. If you want to donate, I actually have found a way you can do this and get a tax receipt.  You can donate to an education fund for me through  a non-profit organization within St. Stephen’s University  called “St. Stephen Association for Christian Education” (SSACE). Anything received for me will go toward this trip.  Unfortunately you cannot be an immediate family member (no parents or siblings…sorry mom!).   Make cheques out to SSACE (with my name in the memo) and sent to: SSACE; 8 main st.; st. stephen, NB; E3L 3E2….

or you can call toll free to donate: 1.888.call.ssu.   FYI this can be done for any student at SSU, in case anyone out there is interested! It is registered in both canada and the US as well for all you americans 😉

Well, thanks for following along in my journey and pushing me to share my life with you on this blog (i am still stunned that people want to read about my life).  I hope you, too, are enjoying these new summer days!

Red Friday

blackheart

Is it just me, or is it kind of funny that Friday the 13th, the day horror movies are based on, falls right before Valentine’s day this year?  I didn’t realize until this morning that this was the case and it made me chuckle.  Kristi has affectionately decided to title it “Red Friday.”

I figure Love owes me this year.  In the past few week I’ve been asked by 4  couples to help orchestrate romantic events…which I did happily. It’s quite funny actually.  Oddly, matchmaking is one of the things I really enjoy doing. Just ask my friends;  I’m always scheming to hook people up.

(Side note: despite my enthusiasm to help love along whenever I can, I personally hate over-the-top romantic gestures if I am the target. I have actually broken up with guys because of this. )

A single gal on Valentine’s Day, it seems, has only two choices. The first is to embrace the day and her current state of single-hood. This includes wearing pink and red all day, watching romantic movies with other single girls while giving each other spa treatments, and showing the world that “I love ME and am secure in my oneness”. This generally involves cocktails and chocolate fondues.

The second is to boycott it completely. In doing this it becomes not Valentine’s Day, the Day of Love, but rather Black Saturday–the Day of Death to All Things Romantic. This includes wearing black all day, staying in and watching depressing movies where one or more of the main characters (preferably the man) dies in the end, and not communicating with the outside world—particularly happy couples–whatsoever, while consuming copious amounts of vodka. In essence, giving Love the finger and pretending not to give a **** about such a ridiculous “holiday.”

Now I am not a dark person, nor am I very romantic, but something about Valentine’s Day mocks my aloneness, and brings out the deeply disillusioned romantic in me. After all who is this holiday really for anyway? Well clearly not for those of us who are without a better (or worse) half. But it’s also not really for those who have been together, or married for a long time and barely mark the day on their calendar. So actually this not-so-nice February holiday (really February? There’s nothing romantic about the month) caters only to a select group of people. People who still have butterflies in their stomach when he phones. For that the rest of us suffer.

But there is a 3rd option–throw the term “holiday” around loosely and use it as an excuse to live it up (any excuse!!). Tomorrow night, one of my absolute favorite bands, The Family Band (www.sonicbids.com/familyband) is playing and I shall spend the evening with my friends–male, female, single, married, and in between–listening to FANTASTIC music.   And sure, it might end up being a guise for romance for some people, but I can accept that because, hey, Love owes me, right?

Mr. Vulnerability

It’s a new year and already only 3 and a half weeks in, I can tell it’s going to be a transforming one.  Why?  You ask. How do you know what is coming? I know these things for the reasons we all know in part, what our future holds…we look at the past. One of my favorite writers, Henri Nouwen, holds firmly that our past is the biggest indicator of our future. I agree– being a student of history I think I have to. But nonetheless I have always believed that we cannot  safely move forward in our future until we have understood our past.  I believe that sociologically and personally.
But that’s for another blog. All that is to say that I know what is coming because I have had this experience before.  2008 began with a deep conviction that we were all severely lacking hope. Hope that though so many things go bad, someday something will go right. Hope that love will overcome hate. Hope that miracles and good do exist. This year began in a similar way. I felt that familiar conviction again, only this time that 2009 would be for me a year of trust–learning to trust myself, others, and God once again. But you must learn to crawl before you walk.

A very wise man told me just a couple weeks ago that I MUST learn to be vulnerable with others–that it would the very hardest lesson I have ever learned but it would also be the most rewarding.  I know, for me, this will be a life-long learning process, but I am in the beginning stages and since i want to become a person of trust, I think that I must also become a person of vulnerability.

Just typing the word scares the crap out of me.

But what does that even mean?? It really is like the blind leading the blind (both blind people in this scenario are me).  The Miss Independent that I am wants to figure this out on my own, which, as it turns out is the very opposite of the meaning of the word.

Well actually, the meaning of the word is a bit precarious. I looked it up, because, well, I have no idea what I am doing and I figured that would be a good place to start.

The dictionary defines Vulnerability as: Susceptible to physical or emotional injury.

Oh goody.

Why do we think this is a good thing?  I don’t know. But I have a feeling I am going to find out.  I hate this very much to be quite honest. And Honesty, incidentally, is Mr. Vulnerability’s sidekick.  I have always done everything by myself. I figure things out by myself. I know how to be on my own and I am good at it.  But as soon as we are unwilling to change and grow then we put ourselves in a box and miss out on the Goodness that Life is offering us.  So, as scared as I am, I am willing to go forward and do what I have to do to learn to be Vulnerable with others.

Another sidekick of Mr. Vulnerability’s is Wisdom. Being vulnerable, I am learning, is not about being stupid.  It is about making conscious choices every day that give others the power to hurt you.  But not everyone deserves that power so these choices need to be made with wisdom.

So you see, it’s not so easy. And being a vulnerability amateur, I have a long road ahead of me. Right now it just feels like being in front of your 8th grade class totally naked.   I am not even sure what the reward in learning all of this is yet, but I have trust that I will understand someday.

I’ll keep you posted on the journey.

And in case you are wondering…NO, i will not be posting all the details of my personal life online as an act of vulnerability.  That would take us back to the aforementioned stupidity point.

New Year Top 5s

Champagne Toast

To say that this blog is overdue is a bit of an understatement. But since I begin EVERY blog with an apology about not writing, I am going to try something different this time. It’s getting old anyway, and well, it’s my blog so I can do what I want, right?

Sometimes my lack of writing has more to do with deciding on a topic than anything else.  Without a bit of direction I think the idea of simply “writing” is overwhelming.  So, that being said, the theme of this blog is New Year (i’m only a couple weeks late…). Possible titles included “Feeling Fine in 2009” ; “Up for Debate: 2008” ; “Unwind in 2009” and “2008…It wasn’t THAT bad!”  I realize that last one doesn’t rhyme, but it was the actually words I used for toast on Dec. 30th with two of my friends.

But, instead I am going with an old favorite– “Tops 5s!!!”  These are my “Top 5s” for this coming New Year, and the year which is now behind us.

Top 5 things to be grateful for in 2008

I know it sounds, well, anticlimactic, to raise a glass to toast 2008 and declare with confidence that “it wasn’t THAT bad!”  BUT, the truth is, it has been a bit too long since I could say anything of the sort about an entire year. However, it is true that 2007 significantly lowered the bar–beginning with a stressful family feud, the death of a friend, the death of my grandmother, a “break-up” of sorts culminating in a terribly broken heart, a broken bank account, and a great deal of what I will affectionately call “friendship drama.”    I had never been so happy to see a year end.   So it is with great gratitude that I look back on 2008. Here is my list:

1. A supportive family: every family has it’s ups and downs and mine is no different.  Both together and apart we have all had our share of hard times, but the thing I love THE MOST about my family is our commitment to one another. That even though we do not necessarily agree with one another on every issue, or personal decision, we can argue and move on.  We are family because we are family (we have no choice), but I now realize that we are also friends and genuinely enjoy one another’s company. This past year  I had so many moments where I felt truly supported and loved by my immediate family. I also had many moments where I saw each person’s greatest assets and talents. I had so many laughs, so many deep conversations, and just in general, a lot of fun.  We actually ended the year by spending a few days together in New England just enjoying each other company, and getting to know the soon-to-be new member of the family–my sister’s fiance!

2.  Parties: This is a given, I know. But looking back on the year I realize that I participated in a lot of great parties and the truth is,  I love going to parties (i hate hosting them).  Highlights include my birthday part,y themed “Mardi Gras” with guest appearances by Shannon & Brian (sister and fiance), Peter and Steph, and other long-distance friends; Christmas in July (with someone even dressing up as the baby Jesus);  St. Patty’s Day (need I say more?); Half-way to St. Patty’s Day (really, this should be a twice-a-year celebration);  and of course New Years Eve (both years).This isn’t even mentioning spontaneous parties, bonfires, and wine nights.

3.  A New Job–as much as I complain about this, I am thankful to be considered a good candidate for a demanding position…and a pay raise!

4.  Really, really good friends–I say this, like, every single blog. But it’s because it’s true! This year I felt so supported from friends I see everyday and those I don’t.  This is particularly something to be thankful for because since I started new job AND a master’s degree, I have become a much more terrible friend.  I hope to find balance this year and remedy that.

5.  School–It’s funny how, after you have been out of school for a while, you become so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to study. Or at least that’s what happened to me. I love everything about it, and even though it might take me forever to complete my master’s degree, I don’t mind. I have the two best advisors any graduate student could ask for, who have taught me more than just history and literature. I am learning how to teach, how to mark, how to study, how to think, and how to love learning.

Well that’s my gratitude list. Now, quickly, here are my Top 5s for 2009.

Top 5 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2009!

1. Ireland!! Nothing is set-in-stone just yet, but I am hoping to FINALLY take this dream trip. Right now I am applying for some grants in hopes of finding funding. The trip will be primary research for my thesis (intertwined with Guiness-tasting sessions) and will hopefully include the Scottish Highlands as well.   If anyone has any fund-raising ideas please let me know!

2. Balance: I did NOT do this very well last year. I had many many moments of pure anxiety and panic about my work load, nearing a burn-out sort of state, especially in the fall. I do not plan on repeating this, but instead I am striving to find some balance in my life.

3. No Speeding Tickets–I got another one in Massacheusettes in November.

4. My Sister’s Wedding–I realize that for her, right now, this more a point of anxiety than excitement, but I know it will all come together fine. She deserves a beautiful wedding and I love being a part of the process!

5. The Great Unknown–I love not knowing what the year holds. Likely some hard times, but surprises too.  Not just for me but my friends and family as well.  I’ll try to keep you posted on the really significant stuff!

A Decade in Review…

I reached a milestone this week–a day that I never actually imagined would come, and yet it is here and gone already. I had my ten year high school reunion (gasp! gag!). I know what you are thinking…aren’t you too young to have been out of high school so long? YES! That’s what I thought too!! But it turns out that ten years is, in fact, a decade, no matter how much you try and rework the numbers. I figure this is as good a topic as I will ever get to blog about so I might as well take advantage of it.

Rightly so, I have been spending a great deal of time lately in reflection. What have i learned? Where am I going? What the heck have I been doing for ten years? I think it’s actually really great to have these moments in life…these milestones that keep us in check and encourage us to go forward. My reunion was actually (to my surprise) quite poorly attended. I figured Facebook would have come through for us, but I suppose even Facebook isn’t strong enough to overcome the utter dread that some people would have felt in attending such an event. Fortunately (or stupidly) I am not one of those people. Sure, I approached it with some anxiety, that is to be expected, but I found I was really looking forward to seeing old friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Those who know me have probably figured out by now that I love social events. I figure I don’t have many marketable skills, but one is that I love to socialize so I might as do it to the best of my ability. In fact, in my graduating year i was even voted “Friendliest Girl.” …and no not in the way YOU’RE thinking. I think many people are insecure in their life status, which, I would like to say right now is completely silly. One thing I realized this weekend is that we are all at totally different places in life and no one is better or worse than another. Some people are married with three kids, while others have just started post-secondary school. Some have been in school since they left, while others settled into a career straight away. Some have travelled, others still live in Summerside. Some are married to their careers, while others still have no idea what they want to do. I cannot stress enough that there is NO MEASURING STICK! Who makes up these ideals anyway? My philosophy is “screw them!” (…and no, not in the way YOU’RE thinking…).

O.k…that is my rant to those who did not come to the reunion because they felt inadequate. For those who did not come because they are bitter, I say, “get over it. Life is too short.” To those who could not come but wanted to, I am sorry we missed one another. The truth is that I had a great time! I did not know what to expect but what I found were adults (when did THAT happen?) who were genuinely happy to see an old friend. Nothing beats that. We watched our grad video (YIKES) which was probably the most painful portion of the weekend. We read the prophesy that predicted where we would all be in ten years, which was humorous. I fell short of mine which predicted a nobel peace prize for international development in Africa. Give me another ten years…

So, that being said, upon reflection, here are the things I have learned in ten years of adulthood…

1. Everyone is better looking at 28 than at 18. WITHOUT EXCEPTION. It’s actually quite bizarre. I doubt I will say the same in another ten years, but hey, it makes me happy to be 28 right now which is a reason to celebrate and not give in to feeling old.

2. Bitterness is a poison you drink and expect the other person to die. A good friend who has had more than her share of suffering told me this and it has stuck with me. Hanging onto grudges is something that only hurts yourself. It might be the cruelest jokes of God…or life’s hardest lesson–that we have to love other people when they hurt us, but I firmly believe this is the secret to joy. My new motto is “I will do whatever it takes to let go of bitterness.” It’s hard, trust me, but the truth is I don’t want to look back on my life and realize I spent a huge percentage of it being miserable.

3. I am the luckiest girl alive. Every so often, I am completely dumbfounded by this simple fact. It’s true. I have amazing friends, and a family that loves and supports me. Am I rich? HELL NO. Not even close. But i love my job. I love my poverty-stricken town. I love my two bedroom apartment in a run down building. Last month I got to see John Mayer live in Boston. He has been my #1 favorite artist for about 6 years (judge me, it’s o.k.) and I finally decided that it was time to make one of my small dreams come true. How many people in the world get to see their icons? The fact that I am able to make that possible is astounding to me. I have been to 3rd world countries and I do not take the fulfillment of my dreams lightly because i know that so many people do not get to experience a fraction of the things I do. Going to the dentist is another thing that causes me to realize I am the luckiest girl alive. What percentage of the world’s population can afford to pay someone to clean their mouths? I suspect less than 1%.

4. Get Over It. Things don’t always work out the way you want…hope…expect, but there is no use dwelling on that which you have no control over. This goes back to the bitterness thing. I am learning that it’s important to find the support you need (however you need to do it) and to role with it. No one said that we would get everything we ever wanted. No one said that life OWED us anything. It does not. But hope for the best and deal with the worst when it comes. My colleague has cancer and she’s had to lose her breasts and her hair, but she teaches me all the time to tackle life’s blows with flexibility and joy.

5. The purpose of life is…to live. I think it’s that simple. My personal goal is to be good at living. When I die I want people to say “she lived and loved well.” I know i have A LOT to learn and I fall very short but I am working on it. I think joy and hope are also big factors in this one. My 2nd motto is “Do whatever you have to do to hang on to hope and joy.”

6. Friends are the family you get to choose. The point here is that we get to choose them. Your family, you are stuck with so make the best of it, but friends…you get to decide so choose wisely! My friends are like a big cusion that catches me every time life throws me off a building (life is mean). I am so grateful because i know without a shadow of a doubt that I would not be the person I am now without them. They have brought SO MUCH healing into my life…so much wisdom…so much support. I have seen other people whose friends are backstabbing and gossipy and suck the life out of them. This is not friendship but some twisted co-dependent relationship that they should run like hell away from. Once again…life is WAY TOO SHORT for this. I think this is the one lesson we should have learned in high school. I have somehow lucked out and found people that I can be real with which has been more important than even I will ever realize. In return I want to be a good friend.

7. It feels good to break the rules. I grew up Catholic and then was pretty Evangelical for awhile so I know a lot about guilt. Now I believe that God is a God of freedom and it’s a privilege to exercise that. There is freedom to try and fail; freedom to choose what we WANT. Shockingly, it turns out that I cannot fit myself so easily into a box. It is only by stepping outside the lines that I began to discover myself and God and you know what? I love it. It turns out that God hangs out past the lines we created to keep him in. He’s way more flexible than us. I spent far too much time afraid of doing the wrong thing. Now I figure I spend way more time doing the wrong thing but also way more time experiencing the goodness that God gave us in this life. Some people need to learn how to break those preconceived ideas of what their lives were going to look like in order to be happy.

8. Marriage is worth waiting for. I already know several people who have been married and divorced in a decade. Sure, I want to get married, but i haven’t met someone worth marrying yet…and to be honest, I was not worth marrying for a long time (it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted). There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with those who found the right person at age 20. I thought i would be self-conscious about this at the reunion. So many people starting families, and there is me who is on my own. But i wasn’t. I have no reason to be ashamed of that and neither does anyone else. Sure, some family members are starting to ask if I’ve ever thought of becoming a nun (I’m really not good with rules), and I wonder how it’s possible that i have 500 Facebook friends of which none are more than just friends (i need to meet MORE people?), but i’ll figure it out eventually. I am not worried. That’s a generational thing, i know. We are unconventional these days, but we can’t help it. We don’t know how else to be.

So those are my top “8”…i realize 10 would be a better number but I can’t think of 2 more things so this will have to suffice. I know it’s a bit sentimental and mid-life crisis-ish…but that’s just who I am. I don’t want to wait another 20 years to figure this stuff out. For now I will concentrate on the fact that my big sister just got engaged!! I am beyond excited for her and her fiance, Brian and they deserve a beautiful wedding (next September). I think it is time our family of four expanded and I couldn’t think of a better guy to invite in.

…and I will try not to wait until my next high school reunion to blog again!


Good Advice

"Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things"

Currently reading…

"'Tis" by Frank McCourt

a

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031