Friday, November 7, 2008

Goodbye Ireland...for now

I’ve been listening to a song on repeat during this trip. It’s called What A Day by Greg Laswell. The first part goes, “What a day to be alive. What a day to realize I’m not dead. What a day to save a dime…” The first part of the song resonated so much with me on this trip, especially that first line which I belted out with gusto everytime I heard the song come through the short rotation in the CD player. (Travel tip- be sure to burn a CD to listen to in the rental car so you have some good music you can depend on). Each day was one wonderful adventure after another and I’m so grateful that it happened. More than that though, I’m proud of myself for going through with it and making it happen.

Although I’m not ready to go, I’m okay with going back home. I miss Steve & Clancy, Susannah, The Girls, my friends, my home and my bed. But I’m very content here. I have really enjoyed this last leg especially. Getting the chance to do my own thing, on my own time has been completely restorative and liberating. It’s helped me slow things down a bit. Being in Ireland you kinda can’t help but slow things down. But as I was meandering around the back roads of Ireland only having a partial clue of where I was and where I was headed, I felt happy and content and completely at peace with having no real agenda, no real contact with people and just being left to my own thoughts and wishes.

In hindsight I love the way the trip was broken up. I loved starting out all in a group touring all around. It was exhausting going to a new place each night, but we got to see so much of the country. Going to The Thatch and celebrating our birthday there with 14 friends from all over the US was an amazing experience. I still can’t believe that we managed to pull that off. I was so happy to introduce everyone to Gene and to how much authentic and genuine Irish fun you can (and will) have when you visit The Thatch. It was by far the best night of the trip. I got to see parts of Ireland that I’d never seen before- Dingle- and felt once again, that my heart really belongs along the west coast, especially County Kerry- nicely enough where some of our family originated. It’s so beautiful and green and I loved being near the ocean. After being in the country for five nights, it felt great to get into the city. Although I was hesitant about Dublin, not loving it the first, and only, time I went in 2000, it was a great contrast to what we had been doing. Apart from the fact that we were staying in the same place for a few nights at a time, it felt good to be in a city and get the energy that comes with being around so many other people, places and sounds.

The second leg, going to Italy, was intended just to see Amy and meet Rebecca and Amy’s other friends. I didn’t do any research and had no agenda. Amy and I figured we’d wing it; I knew no matter what we did (even if it wasn’t anything at all) it’d be great to just be in each other’s company. And you know, get some pizza  But I got to see three totally different places in Italy: Milan, Venice and Lake Como. We did so much walking there too. Everywhere we went we used public transportation and then hoofed it around our final destinations. There were also a lot of stairs involved in Italy. There are 56ish steps to get up to Amy’s apartment and we did a lot of climbing up and down. After spending so much time in a car in Ireland, it felt fantastic to be outside and moving. Apart from that, Italy was really beautiful. Beautiful in such a different way than Ireland. Impressive buildings and history in a way that you don’t see in the same way in Ireland. Although I find the people to be completely unfriendly (to be fair it’s hard to top Ireland but still), there was so much beauty in each place we went to and I loved getting to see it all in such a short period of time.

The last leg here, the solo trip, was meant to be an opportunity for me to just do my own thing and most importantly, spend time by myself. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not something I’m good at or comfortable with. I always find ways to fill my time so that I’m always keeping busy…so this week has been a great exercise in helping me understand and benefit from the importance of slowing the f down and living a quieter, simpler, easier life. I’ve loved talking with and meeting new people. I’ve enjoyed becoming comfortable with eating (and sometimes drinking) on my own. I’m starting to understand how valuable it is to spend time with yourself. It’s helped me become clearer on how I should be spending my time at home and how easy it is for me to consciously slow down the pace of my life. There are enormous benefits to doing so and I’m looking forward to seeing how it affects me at home.

I don’t hate my life by any means. There are a million things I love about my life and am looking forward to resuming when I get home today (waaaa). But I do need to make some changes to how I go about my life. Yesterday when I was driving and felt stress (pretty much a foreign feeling to me since I got to Ireland but especially since the solo leg of the trip), I just took some deep breaths, looked around and started smiling. And then I tried to locate the stress. It was mainly because I was unsure of where exactly I was and where I was going and then how much time did I have left to do the other things I had hoped to. I had two choices- 1. Try and fit it all in and be stressed out by cramming more things into an already full day. Or 2. Turn around and go back to Westport where I can have time built into chill out after all the driving. Completely within my control and in a matter of minutes, I was feeling much, much better and had decided to head back to Westport and save the rest for my next trip.

I pile too much on. I try to do too much. I don’t take enough time for me. I have a hard time saying no. I work too much. I don’t spend enough time with Steve. All things that can and will be changed in time. But this trip has provided me with a great start to making some changes. One of the things I’m proudest of myself for is not doing a single bit of work at all!

When I got to the hotel last night, I found myself thinking about checking work email, you know to get a head start. I mean I was just sitting there with nothing really to do. So why not? Because I’m on vacation. Because I could get out my book, get on the bed and relax! I opted against checking work email and for enjoying my last day in Ireland no matter how boring it was at the airport hotel. I know this sounds like ridiculously easy concepts- don’t work, you’re on vacation. But I typically don’t operate that way. I think, “Why NOT work? I’m not doing anything else.” Now I know the answer is because I’m more valuable than that. And that doing nothing is just as important as anything else I could do be doing. It’s what will help me slow down, maintain a somewhat balanced life and help me keep sane and somewhat stress-free. And it’s not nothing. Doing nothing is a conscious act to help restore and repair my mental and physical stability.

There have been days on this trip where I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Feeling so happy I could feel the tears starting to form in my eyes. And being so grateful to be in these places and with these people. It's been a wonderful feeling.

It started at The Thatch when we were all learning how to dance, but really lasted all night long. Being able to have that party with those people will likely stand to be one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

Another one was when I drove into Dingle. The rolling green vibrant hills with the white spotted sheep were breathtaking and unlike anything I'd seen in Ireland before.

In Italy getting to see the Duomo for the first time, and the second time, and the third...although I was scared at the top (what, apart from it raining, it’s already a height fearing person’s semi-nightmare), it was stunning. I love knowing that Amy & Rebecca go up there sometimes to just write and draw. In contrast, in LA I guess it’d be like saying “I’m going to write and paint on the Hollywood Sign.” But this wouldn’t happen for a couple of reasons. 1. I’d get arrested. You can’t get anywhere near the Hollywood Sign, in fact if you do get too close, a helicopter will arrive within a matter of minutes to tell you to back away or you run the risk of violating a federal offense. And 2. It’s lame. Especially in comparison of saying you’re at the Duomo.

Meeting Rebecca!

On Saturday getting to walk around Venice was another huge highlight. But the moment that made me smile the most was when Amy and I were sitting on a bench in St. Mark’s Square looking out at all the gondolas waiting to be used. Although to be fair, I think the moments on Saturday when I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face was when Amy and I were purposely using the Molly Pole to take pictures just because we knew people were staring. I’d take my own picture and Amy would be off in the distance laughing while trying to get a picture of people’s reactions with her camera. I’m still smiling thinking about it. When I was done, Amy’d use the Molly Pole and I would use her camera to take pictures. We did this atop the Grand Rialto Bridge- you know, it doesn’t see too much traffic or anything :)

Tuesday up at Achill Island while I was driving around somewhat aimlessly, and there was a moment where I saw the most stunning view of the sun poking through the clouds. The sun flooded the scene below and it turned out to be an incredible picture that doesn’t look like I could have possible taken it or witnessed it. I also loved when Farmer Tom pulled over to talk with him and give me a mini history lesson on the side of the road. And the sheep in the Deserted Village where highly entertaining that day.

At 401am I woke up on Wednesday to discover that Barack Obama was going to be our next president. So many emotions were running through my head- happiness, relief, hope, fright, excitement, amazement and comforted by the thought that anything can (and just did) happen. I went back to sleep with a huge smile on my face that morning.

On Wednesday I explored some unknown territory, again, and was blown away by the beautiful mountains, lakes and everything in between that I drove through. I got out of the car a couple of times to take pictures but when I went home and saw them on the computer, they didn’t capture the magnificence.

Then on Wednesday night was one of those times. Although I technically had one more night in Ireland, I knew Wednesday was going to be my last night out. My new friend Norman invited me to his music session at a pub called The Porter house. When I walked in Norman yelled out my name and said “Obama!” with his fist pumping in the air. I felt so happy, proud to be an American, and happy to be in this pub.

I love the pub culture in Ireland. I love the idea that people spill into the pub to listen to the music knowing full well at some point almost every single person will break out into song. The music was so good and I felt so happy to be there.

And my last can’t wipe the smile off my face moment was yesterday when I was walking around Cong Abbey. I walked behind the Abbey and discovered this absolutely amazing nature trail. I stepped in crunchy leaves to get to this little fishing hut type of thing- somewhere I’ve dubbed my happy place because it was so peaceful and private and immediately helped me feel a sense of calm come over my entire body. It was incredibly serene and the soundtrack of the birds singing in the background is so full of joy and natural perfection it sounds 100% fake (I of course have the video to prove that’s not true). I found myself wishing I had more time to just walk around and get lost in the woods to take a walk without any destination. It was the perfect way to end the trip.

Ireland has always been a special place to me. A handful of the best memories of my life have happened there. And I have no doubt that there are more wonderful memories just waiting to be created the next time I go back.

As I get ready to go back home, all I can say is that I had the trip of a lifetime. I feel happy and refreshed, calm and peaceful, stress-free and balanced, restored and renewed. I have no regrets and feel so fortunate this trip went as well as it did.

Best of Molly in Ireland


Rebecca November 10, 2008 at 2:22 PM  

You are absolutely beautiful! Stop giving away so much of your bread.... so that way you can have a place in the cottage with the animals and that babbling brook. We miss you, but you are always here, ya know?... we talk about you all the time. Sorry to add to the emails you have to read, but just wanted to say, thanks for writing and for coming... I will always love that picture...WE ARE HAPPY :-)

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