I Thought I Had It All Figured Out

There I was, not so long ago; no, it was only last week.  It feels like forever only because I was so sure then. I had it all figured out; then, gut instincts kicked in.  The direction I was about to go, all of a sudden didn’t feel right.  Maybe it’s not the direction, as much as the way I intended to get to the destination.  If opportunities sound too good to be true, they probably are.  So now what?  How can I encapsulate all the directions I want to take my life?  Can we have it all?

Happiness comes down to knowing what is most important and being grateful for what you have, while not settling for what you don’t.  The important part is getting to the place where all these feelings collide and feel real.

There is so much more to offer than working 40+ hours per week and paying the bills for things that just keep us mundane.  We have covered that in the past, no need to rehash that. How we end up and what we give up in order to live life to the fullest is interesting.  What I’m willing to give up seems insane to some people. We are not all made to live the same life, though I want elements of normalcy in the mix.  I don’t feel troubled about life as much as hopeful and excited to see what we can make of it.  I say “we” because it’s not just about me, it’s about my best friend and husband too; the husband is also my best friend so that makes life a little less complicated.

“They” think I’m crazy to give up cable.  I say it’s crazy to spend hours in front of the TV watching other people live.  I’m willing to work hard for the type of life I want, I just don’t know what it should all consist of yet; writer, historian, mother, student, broadcaster, traveller?  It is very easy to say I can do it all, harder to do.

Time will either tell or speed by; in the meantime choices will need to be made and I hope a little divine intervention can help my mind along. I don’t doubt I will make something of myself, though I am anxious. I just need a little more direction than I ever expected or wanted to admit.

Irish Sheep

I always just liked my photography the way it was. Not the fact that it was simple and mostly luck, but I might have felt it was cheating to alter it in any way. That being said, I had a Groupon for a large canvas that I needed to order and I need a nice piece for my new home office. I played around with an image I found that just felt so calming to me. It is of sheep.

This picture was captured while my husband drove us from the tip of Northern Ireland to Dublin, at the very end of our last trip there. We were desperately trying to beat the huge snow storm we had dodged our entire trip and this was taken just before we lost our luck at outrunning it. There is something calming about sheep; except the sheep that have the red blotches; this just seems morbid to me. I can deal with splotches of green or blue on their coats for farmer identification, but the first few times I saw splotches of red on a sheep my first reaction was
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

I realize the sun is supposed to set on Galway Bay in Ireland, but I can guarantee that these are early morning shots as we awoke in Salthill, Galway and headed north toward Connemara. Though I thought these might be terrible at the time, capturing the sun this way, I’ve grown to love these because I can almost feel how bright and crisp that morning felt as I revisit these.  The road was icy and the glare was strong, but it was tough to complain after a full Irish breakfast and a long ride to Westport ahead of us.

I love a reason to post about Ireland.

 

One Hundred Years Was Not That Long Ago

As we approach the on 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I think to myself how recent it was, but just how different life was; or was it?

My great-Grandmom was born in 1912, one month after the sinking and she only passed away two years ago.  Her little sister is still kickin’ at ninety-eight and there are several people alive today that are well over one hundred now.  Think about the transitions they’ve made in life.  We laugh about teased hair from the 80’s and disco music at Studio 54 but this older generation changed fashion, music and pretty much everything life had to offer, repeatedly.

It wasn’t that long ago that women wore corsets, couldn’t vote and got picked up for a date in a Model T.  Most people who served in WWII were born about ten years after the Titanic sank, and just like that generation, soon they will be gone as well.  We only just lost the last WWI soldier in the last year.

It put it in perspective for me when our little town newspaper mentioned that a Titanic survivor lived a couple little towns over.  He was the head barber for the White Star Line, who operated the Titanic.  The man journeyed over seven hundred times on transatlantic ships and nearly perished that night in the cold waters of the Atlantic.  The article touts him a hero, who assisted the crew as they tried to get as many as they could to safety in the few lifeboats available.  He was eventually swept off the ships edge when it split in two and after clinging to dining chairs in the water, Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Journey

Journeys come in many shapes and sizes. I actually have a niece named Journie, but I won’t be posting pictures of her today. I thought about posting pictures of the band to be funny, but I’ve yet to see them. I do love the Statefarm commercial when those two guys have a “Journey moment” though.

It’s already three hours after Saturday has ended but I’m trying to hold up my end of my daily posting plan and feeling annoyed because I’m having trouble finding anything but literal pictures of traveling or journeying (if that is a word). There have been many emotional and transitional journeys made over the last few, no, over the span of life that we can remember.

Instead, I’ve found a picture that was taken out of fun with one of my greatest friends. I was trying to capture what it’s like to be his passenger, but it really does depict how I feel inside as I journey through life and try to decide what is best for me, not as just an individual, but also as an “us” with my husband. I often get complimented on how calm and peaceful I appear during hard times. I don’t believe I actually attempt to cover up my true feelings, but I am good at remaining physically calm while inside I’m reacting more like this photo – capture by cellphone by the way. Obviously, this is was not taken with the intention of sharing at the time.

The way I feel inside as I journey through life.

For those of you who love to scroll through and see photos however, I’ve thrown a couple literal ones in the mix for fun.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Arranged

Linds “Arranged”

I am lucky because I have a group of friends that I have loved since I was 14 years old.  Though we live in all different places in the country now, the friendships still remain strong.  We try to get together whenever we can get a few in the same town.  In this particular trip, one of our girls couldn’t make it, so I printed her face and we “arranged” many pictures, as if she joined us.  She accompanied us all over NYC.  It’s great because I captured a snide look on her face and it gives each moment more character than a fake smile.  She’s my favorite sarcastic person and a wonderful friend.  I hope you enjoy and I hope she doesn’t mind that I’ve plastered her face on here for the world to see.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Through

Clonmacnoise: Founded 545-548 AD

The buildings and monuments shown however, appear to range from the 10th-17th centuries, with most falling earlier in this time period.

This day was bitter cold, but it was impossible to leave and refrain from taking shots through surviving stone towers, churches and crosses, either into other structures or through to the River Shannon, in Ireland.  These were taken with a simple camera and frozen fingers, I hope you can still mentally capture the beauty of a place that holds so much history.  It is the sight of worship and battle.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

Unusual.

Not much surprises me or strikes me as unusual.  So as I perused my photos, I came up with something that might be a little usual.  Us.  My husband and I have an odd habit of posing with manikins or any likeness of people really.  Not in a creepy way; at least I don’t think so, anyway.  Either way, I enjoy them because you can make up different stories about what is happening in each picture and add your own subtitles.  Hell, if anyone actually likes these, we might have a valid reason to continue embarrassing ourselves in public.  We really do get a kick out of it.  Here is just a sampling.

"Excuse me, do you know where the exit is?"
"Don't talk to me about exits, I've been locked in here for 10 years!"

An Irish Ballad for St. Patrick’s Day

It’s only appropriate as we approach St. Paddy’s Day, that I indulge myself in more Ireland talk. On our first trip to Ireland, we tried not to plan and follow the stone walls to wherever they might lead us. We did a few things that Rick Steves suggested too, however. Though we spent most of our trip travelling around the Irish countryside and avoiding crowded tourist destinations, we did spend a couple nights in Dublin and took in the Musical Pub Crawl.

I fell in love with Irish music on this trip.

The music ranged from traditional to humorous and of course included beautiful and mournful ballads. The musicians that lead the crawl vary from night to night, based on traveling musician schedules and we were lucky enough to have Anthony Bools. His voice had so much character and fit the tone for each type of song chosen.

They had a professionally recorded CD compilation of various musicians that lead the tour and it has been a mainstay on my Ipod for a few years now. I couldn’t have been more pleased to have heard this particular song live, with fiddle accompaniment and later have a version to play at home, while I dreamed of Guinness and seisúns. I do suggest the tour if you are interested in learning about Irish music. The real feel of a seisún can be found in a good local pub, where the musicians play amongst themselves instead of to a crowd but this is an opportunity for a musician to take a moment between songs and discuss the fundamentals of the music and the instruments that are so specific to this type of music.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Slainte!

Haunted By My Irish Great-Grandfather

I’ve written about my ancestry research before.  It’s something I love and hate, because it’s thrilling to find a piece of the puzzle and incredibly frustrating to find either nothing or to confirm your initial theories were false.

I found a crucial piece to our family puzzle last night.  I confirmed all the vitals of my Great Grandfather; a man I never met, my father never knew and his father barely knew.  His World War I draft card says he was 5’7 with red hair and green eyes.  He immigrated by himself at the age of sixteen from Ireland.  His ship ran ashore leaving Liverpool before coasting onto Philadelphia.  He was a steelworker and laborer.  He married an Irish girl here and housed her widowed father and two younger brothers; all of them laborers.  They lost a baby girl as an infant and died fairly young themselves.  The census says he could read and write, but the signature on his Naturalization paperwork leads me to believe he was not accustomed to holding a pen of any kind.

He left his family behind at the age of thirteen, to make a living in England as a coal miner.  After three years in the soot, he left for America.  I haven’t a clue what became of the rest of his family.  I’m having difficulty with his parents’ names and the time span of Irish records I need were either lost in a warehouse fire in 1922 in Dublin or destroyed by the Irish Free State purposely.

While in Ireland for our honeymoon, and I met with a county genealogist who gave me records from my family.  It seemed too easy.  I don’t want to say they tried to fool me, but I was fooled.  I have records for someone of the same name, in the same town but it doesn’t add up.  I’ve done this long enough to know that back then, records and dates were not consistent and often disregarded, but I’m dying to figure out the answers.  As a researcher and history buff by nature, I can’t feel settled until I can go further.  I don’t want to go harass any distant relatives; on the contrary, I’ve had Irishmen contact me in regards to possible connections.

There is simply something to be said about learning where you come from and feeling that you share some sort of trait or identity with those who came before us.  I was the only one in my family with hair that glows red and though my eyes are often hazel, they shine green regularly.  I’d like to think somewhere along the way, it’s trickled down to me alongside my fondness for Ireland.  Maybe that is a bit too romantic, but whenever my husband comments on how red my hair looks a particular day, I can’t help but admit that I’ve been dreaming of the Galway Bay.