Wanderlust

I arrived in Ireland two days ago, along with my mother and my son.

They are here to do family research and find the homes of some of our relatives who left many years ago to come to America. It’s been an emotional experience thus far.

I came along to basically be their driver. ( they are the genealogy experts ) I enjoy the family history, and I shed some tears at the sight of my great grandfather’s home. I imagined him as a very young man, heading out the old gate of his home as he left to find a better life in America. Back then, the families would have a “wake” after a relative left, knowing they would never see them again. I can’t imagine the bravery, fear, and sadness that went along with it all. So it was a powerful experience to come all the way to Ireland and find his home.

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My mother and son, feeling much satisfaction after years of research and a trip to Ireland, as they stand in front of the home where my mom’s grandfather grew up.

I needed the time away. My favorite part so far was spending about 20 minutes all alone, listening to the sea splash against the rocks. Yes, this extrovert sat all alone for a bit. Of course there were other people walking around, which I suppose comforted me in some way. They were a ways off, so for myself it was more solitude than I usually get. I quickly discovered the importance of it.

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My view as I enjoyed some solitude and peace

I sometimes try to find a “place” to be alone and think. I am always searching in life and looking for answers. I’ve come to accept that’s just who I am. There is no cure….only temporary fulfillment when I allow myself to express what I have discovered.

Sitting in a beautiful, natural environment filled my mind, my senses, and my soul. Trying to find that inner peace all alone with a cup of tea at Starbucks doesn’t do it for me. Perhaps I came all the way to Ireland to figure that out.

I am from a small area in the midwest of America. When I get back home I won’t be able to smell the wonderful smells, hear the calming sounds, and see the lovely sites that come with sitting near the ocean. I’ll have to search for something else. I need more time in nature.

I find I am happiest when I am out of my “element.” I am already itching to go somewhere else and I am not even back home yet.

I have also found, while in new places, my mind opens. I think there is such an importance to it. Perhaps it’s the realization that there is an entire world out there….not just my world. Everything is thought provoking when in a new city, state, or country. I love experiencing the food, music, everything in a different culture. It all touches a part of my brain that is untouched in my daily routine.

More than anything, I love meeting new people. Absolutely, the highlight of my trip has been talking with locals. I love people so much. My family laughs at me (in a loving way ;)), because I grow attached quickly, and I will miss people I’ve only spoken with for a short time. To me, people are the best part of life.

I’ve been here a few more days since I began this post. Since then, we also discovered the cottage where my great grandmother grew up, mourned at sites where mass burials occurred during the great potato famine, visited in the evenings with our wonderful bed and breakfast host, (who is filled with fabulous stories and information about this country he loves), and just sat and pondered at what our strong, brave ancestors endured.

We are hopping on a plane tomorrow, and heading back to the states. I am sad to leave, but excited to see the rest of my family.

I’ll rest for a day or so….then begin planning the next place. I am thinking Italy.

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My great grandmother’s cottage use to be a darling little thing with white washed walls and a thatched roof. Thankful there are still remains of it.

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Touching the gate my great grandmother might have touched, as she left on foot for the beginning of her journey to America.

 

 

 

Chlorine, Baby Oil, and Orange Crush

 

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I’m passionate about antiques. I’m quite sure I was supposed to be born in the early 40s. Nothing stirs me like walking through an antique store, especially one filled with vintage treasures that now remind me of my childhood. Guess that makes me “vintage.” It’s cool, right?

I’m in love with these old metal gym baskets I’ve been finding for a while now. One look and I’m taken back to the public swimming pool across the street from my childhood home. I can instantly smell the chlorine.

They’d hand us a basket with a key attached to it. You had to safety pin the key to your suit, (no one did that – we pinned them to our towels). Then we walked through the locker room, conspiring how to look like we showered without really showering. Showers were required to swim. This basically meant throwing some of that cold shower water on your head so the lifeguard watching you come out wouldn’t send you back in. This is why I don’t attend public pools as an adult….gross.

Next, to find the perfect spot to rest our towels and jump on in to practice opening our eyes under water. Are kids allowed to do that these days? The soda machine would need to be nearby so we could get our fill of orange Crush. I lived in a tiny little town, a bit behind the times. So that fabulous soda machine spit out glass bottles…yum.

With age, we would instead find the perfect spot to show off our baby oiled, glistening bodies as the cute boys walked by. I remember actually watching someone put melted butter on their body! My generation keeps dermatologists in business.

My most vivid memory, however, is the young boy who decided to show his unwavering love for me, by pushing me in the pool. I have a permanent scar on my leg from sliding down the scratchy bricks as I fell in. He should have pushed me harder so I’d miss the edge.

All of those memories from picking up an old, metal basket. To some, old treasures are not treasures at all, but old junk. To me, I see items that need to be rescued. How sad to see something completely disappear that can trigger a precious walk down memory lane.

 

 

Soundtracks

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It’s not silly to mourn the loss of an artist whom I never knew.

The artist known as “Prince” died yesterday. Today I am listening to his music non stop, all day long. I am mourning this man I never personally knew….and I think it makes sense.

I’m not literally grieving the person….I’m grieving a piece of my youth disappearing. He, along with many other artists, were and have been part of my life’s soundtrack. Our soundtracks are formed early, and those early songs are very important to us. The music we listened to helped shape us, helped us discover things about ourselves, and was always there when we needed it. Spinning records, fast forwarding and rewinding cassettes to get to our favorite songs. Or how about, holding the cassette recorder up to the radio to record?

We could count on a deep soul searching song when we just needed to cry over a broken heart. Then we could count on a rockin’ I’m going to take on the world kind of song to pick us back up. In some ways the teenage years were like a constant musical…..each emotion defined by a song.

So along with Prince, goes a bit of my youth. There will be more losses to come, unfortunately – that’s life. But as long as I am alive I’ll keep tuning in to my personal soundtrack. I’ve added new songs as I’ve aged, but nothing stirs up the young, passionate girl in me, like those first ones that spoke to me and seemed to know my heart even though we’d never met.

Mom’s Faithful Table

It’s about six feet long, four feet wide, made of a sturdy, old formica….and it knows all of my secrets.

If mom’s kitchen table could talk, I’d be in big trouble. It’s edges are lovingly worn from our elbows leaning, and our hands running across the smoothness as we share our hearts. My mother and I have many of the same habits, one of them being rubbing the edge of the table as we reveal our deepest fears, give advice, and help each other make this life less confusing.

I believe there is a phrase, “If tea cups could talk.” This is true, but I’d say wine glasses know more.

When I was in my twenties I thought I knew more than my mother. Everything she said irritated me and I was so horribly judgmental of her. After all, I was married with a child by age 22…..what did she know about that? (ummm, a lot) In my thirties I began to understand a little more. As I made some mistakes in life and felt some emotions that I recalled her going through when I was a child, my eyes opened to the fact that my mother was a fountain of wisdom and maybe possibly not just mom, but a…..woman?

Now in my forties, the wine or tea flow freely at least once a week at that formica table. I don’t just enjoy the time now….I need it. How often we’ve taken advantage of the fact that the children are playing or watching a movie in the playroom, the men are watching a sporting event in the living room, and the table sits empty. We don’t ask….we just know. Time to snag the table and open up about life.

I used to think that formica table was a bit tacky. I’d only buy real wood. I’d still choose real wood. But it dawned on me last night, that I could never see that sturdy, old table go. It’s like a friend now. A weaker table couldn’t have done the job. All of the leaning, the tears, the laughter, the spills, holiday dinners, birthday parties….. It’s been there for mom and I and many others, standing the test of time and never wavering.

Nope- I wouldn’t trade it for a more sophisticated piece. To some it’s just a table, but to me it’s a piece of history, and an oasis of safety and comfort in my life.

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Just Sad

We need to come up with a better phrase than, “cancer sucks.” It isn’t strong enough.

I recently received the news that a dear friend has breast cancer.  A year ago I received the same news from another friend. I wish in our lifetime it would be so rare to hear this sort of news, that the chances of two friends within a year would be near impossible.

I hate that they both have to deal with this. Not only the fear of this wretched disease taking their lives, but the horribly long road to fight it. I hate that they have to lose their hair and have multiple surgeries. I hate that they have to put their perfectly lovely lives on hold.

We never know what is around the corner for us, and I don’t enjoy that. I am a spontaneous person, often struggling with impulsiveness…..but if there is one thing I’d like control over, and complete predictability, it is my health and the health of those I love.

 

 

Solitide? No Thanks

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Extroverts suck at taking alone time.

I can only speak of my own experiences, and that’s how it is for this extrovert.

Due to my midlife crisis and constant confusion about what I want to be when I grow up….I thought a weekend alone in the city would be just what the doctor ordered – clear my head, do some writing, etc.. I’ve tried  this sort of thing before, and like I said, I suck at it.

My first evening alone I met a friend for dinner because I hate eating alone in restaurants. My counselor once recommended I take myself out to dinner. All alone. Just me. I don’t enjoy dating myself. I’m not my type.

The next morning I tossed and turned trying to sleep in the hotel which was way too quiet. I was exhausted and did not venture out to explore the Art Institute all alone as I had planned. I did however, order room service for breakfast and ate that in bed while watching TV. That alone is not so bad. It didn’t last long though as I called a friend and talked for about an hour. When else do I get quiet solitude to chat in peace?

I wrote nothing the entire time I sat in that quiet room. I actually thought I might lose my mind and couldn’t wait to get out.

My final day I took the train back home to spend the day with a friend, and it was the most refreshing day I’d had in a while.

Moral of the story? It’s ok. That’s the life of a true extrovert. I won’t find my answers when I am alone, because I thrive with people. People are the heart beat of my existence. Extrovert doesn’t necessarily mean outgoing and gregarious (although we often are) …the true meaning is one who is energized around people. Just as an introvert isn’t necessarily shy, but thrives during times of solitude.

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to figure this out – but I don’t need alone time, I need get away time….but with people.

I’ll end by pointing out that years ago when I took a personality test, as my counselor showed me the results, graphed on a chart, he actually began giggling at my results. (never a good sign) I was plotted literally off the charts as an extrovert. That’s so me – always extreme, never subtle.

The blessing of age? Acceptance. It’s who I am and I am thankful for it. My friends would all stay home on Friday night if I wasn’t constantly telling them I need to get out!

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So thankful for friends who “get” me. 😉

 

Some Things About Me

Thanks Rachel, over at www.lifebeyondmommy.com ! I was tagged to answer some fun questions and pass it on, so here goes….

Four names people call me other than my real name:

  1. Mommy/mom/mama (depending on the child)
  2. Honey
  3. Missy (friends who’ve known me since I was a kid)
  4. Sunshine

Four Jobs I have had:

  1. Waitressed pizzas
  2. Loaded trucks at 3M warehouse
  3. Babysitting
  4. Movie theater

Four movies I have watched more than once:

  1. Gone With The Wind
  2. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  3. The Quiet Man
  4. It’s a Wonderful Life
Four books or authors I recommend:
1. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
2. Angry Housewives eating bon bons– Lorna Landvik
3. Pioneer Women: Voices From The Kansas Frontier – Joanna Stratton
4. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott ( It’s old but I love it )
Four places I have lived:
1. Georgia
2. Delaware
3. Kentucky
4. Nebraska
Four places I have visited:
1. China
2. San Diego, California
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
4. Toronto, Canada
Four things I would rather be doing right now:
1. Writing a book
2. Hanging out with friends
3. Vacationing
4. Dressing up for a night out
Four foods I prefer not to eat:
1. Mushrooms
2 Applesauce
3. cooked carrots
4. Lima beans
Four of my favorite foods:
 (does red wine count?)
1. spaghetti
2. enchiladas
3. Cheesecake
4. blueberry pie
Four T.V. shows that I watch:
 (I watch tv about once a month…but if I do I like these)
1. The Office
2. Fixer Upper
3. Salvage Dawgs
4. Rick Steve’s travel show
Four things that I am looking forward to this year:
1. Finding a career
2. Writing more
3. Growing closer with old friends
4. Completing the decorating in my house
Four things I am always saying:
1. Love you
2. What on earth?
3. Hey sweet pea (4 kids at home 😉 )
4. Just a second
Four bloggers I would love to do this:
Just copy and paste the questions for you to answer and add to your blog