I remember the longing,
the absolute hunger to be home.
I remember counting down the days.
I remember shopping for gifts,
and worrying about the weight of my suitcase.
I remember watching weather forecasts every night for a month,
and praying that my boat/airplane would get me home before the storm.
I remember not being able to sleep with excitement.
I remember leaving far too early and hanging around cold train stations,
and later sweating in airports.
I remember seeing old men cry silent tears.
I remember crying in the arms of loved ones 'I'm home. I'm home.'
Then, I remember the smell of turf,
the sound of soft Irish accents,
the taste of familiar foods.
I remember a sense of pride,
that I had money in my pocket,
money that I had earned myself.
I remember moments when I sat,
and watched the smiling faces,
and felt that sense of belonging...
And I carried all that goodness,
back to London with me,
until it was time to come home again.
I think you know how much you love your work when your car breaks down and you can't get to the meeting and you come home and start searching online databases for long lost families! This is me today. My car is at the garage and I am sitting at my computer answering queries on behalf of Ireland Reaching Out The past few months have been a whirlwind as I have been getting to know the highways and byways of West Limerick, it's townlands and civil parishes, it's church parishes and it's people.
I have lovely memories. (Most of them in family kitchens)
The day we helped Ann to find her father's people The day Sean (who was new to computers) opened up the internet link and helped Eamonn find a map of the family farm The day Michael found a whole parcel of children that the enquirer didn't know existed The day Sharon began to manage a Facebook page for the first time The day Mary answered her first query on Ireland Reaching Out The day another Mary found her family on the 1901 Census The day I gave my first formal genealogy talk, Create Your Family Tree, and no-one noticed that an hour and a half had gone by! And these memories are just a few of the many happy times I have spent with the volunteers in West Limerick. I have had frustrating times too. I'm thinking especially of Liz, Joan and Patrick. I am so disappointed that we hit the famous brick wall after such a promising start. But all I can say is that the details are in my family tree book and you aren't forgotten. My world is so much bigger now than it used to be. It is so much richer too! And I want to thank each and every one of you (including those whose names I have not mentioned) for welcoming me into your kitchens, village halls and local pubs. And my smallie says thank you for the swirly buns too!
What happens when our view of the world becomes fractured?
What happens when there is an event in our lives which mangles the old way we saw life, people and even ourselves?
We try to cling to the way it was.
But sometimes we are unable to cling, too shocked to panic.
Instead we fall into 'not knowing.'
'Not knowing' is not such a bad place...
It brings gifts, if we can allow ourselves to have them.
'Not knowing' slows down the pace.
If I don't know what to do then I cannot rush into action.
If I do not rush into action, maybe I will avoid an action which would not be good for me.
Maybe my old way of thinking no longer serves me and the person I am becoming.
Maybe this chaos I experience is an opportunity in disguise.
However I see it, I am being moved on to another stage.
I can fight it but I will only tire myself out.
I could let the tide take me.
I could just ride the wave and let it's energy take me into the unknown.
I could look around with curiosity and marvel at the sights.
I could do all this...
and maybe this time I will...
As the nights began to draw in, I felt low.
A feeling of sadness enveloped me.
The things that would normally lift me up,
just didn't work.
Then I remembered that today, the Celtic new year begins.
The end of the old.
The beginning of the new.
I became willing to let go of the old.
So I took a look at my sadness.
I stopped struggling with my sadness.
I began to feel compassion for my self in this sadness.
I held it lightly.
I remembered Byron Katie's question in The Work.
'Can you find any good reason to hold onto this thought?'
(This thought that is causing pain)
Then I let these thoughts, this struggle, go.
I watched it dance on the waves and disappear.
And I felt the seed of hope within me.
Not an arrogant 'everything will be alright'
but a gentle curiosity 'how could I make this better?'
And I discovered that there are possibilities that my closed down thinking had not allowed.
My beloved simple things.
So today, dear readers may you cease to struggle with thoughts that bring you pain.
May you release them onto the waves.
May you too find peace and hope on our new year's day.
Dagda's Bowl, Tralee, Pic by Martine
This small house is part of who I am.
I never lived in it but this is the house my great grandmother Bessie (Elizabeth) married into in 1897.
It is the house in which my grandmother Catherine Hurley was born, in 1905.
It is the house she left to go to Peabody, Massachusetts in 1925.
This small house is part of who I am.
There is something solid about this house.
There were hard times and sad times in this house.
There was rejoicing...
And all of it... part of who I am.
In coming to know these women, my mother's mothers,
I come to know myself.
I too am solid and enduring.
I too have known hard times and sad times.
I too rejoice.
I am one of the mothers now.
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Last year was different.
I was new to blogging.
I worried about 'doing it right' and being 'consistent' and all sorts of other things that never cross my mind now.
This year I revel in the unknown, the unexplored.
I wonder what will happen if I try this or that.
I feel curious and hopeful and light inside.
Since this time last year I survived a serious car accident.
I took on a new job in the world of heritage and genealogy.
I started to grow my hair again.
I turned 51.
I stopped fighting the inevitable changes of my life.
I did some good things.
I did some stupid things.
I've been human!
Not perfect, just human.
And I've made friends, good ones,
friends who share my interest in writing and genealogy and community.
Together, we make changes in our world.
So here's a big HUGE thank you to all my blogger friends.
You enrich my life,
those of you I have met and those I may never meet. Blog Awards Ireland 2013
A friend of mine is going through a separation.
Her marriage is ending.
I started to think the other day about this use of the word separation.
Years ago, I only knew it as a baking term.
Do you remember it?
'Separate the yolk and white of one egg.'
But when a marriage ends, it seems to me that the egg has most definitely been scrambled and it may become a quiche but it definitely cannot go back to being an uncooked egg!
The only question that remains is what kind of a quiche?
Hot and spicy or smooth and creamy?
When my first marriage ended, my whole wardrobe changed... and changed again.
I experimented with my hairstyle and went from long to short... very short!
And of course there were other, deeper changes.
It took me a long time to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be.
I wish I had someone then to say 'it's ok to not know,
it's ok to experiment,
you might be going through this even if you weren't going through a separation.'
We all change...
whether we stay in the marriage or whether we go.
Living means changing, and changing again.
Fear of change can hold us back.
But for better or for worse,
we only get to live one life.
So let's make it count!
pic by Martine 2012
There is a rhythm in everything.
Sometimes it takes some time
to find our own right rhythm.
Sometimes it helps to stand back
and gaze kindly on our
And wait in quiet expectation
for the stillpoint
Lately, I am deep in the realisation that there is more life behind me than in front of me.
Daily, I am aware that life is short and that dreams can no longer be put on the long finger.
Though I still feel 37 inside, the outside says at least 47!
(Actual age 51!)
Questions come up.
The awareness rises again that life has not turned out as I planned.
On the plus side, I take better care of myself than I used to.
I say no more often.
I don't push myself beyond my limits.
I like myself more than I did when I was younger.
I accept the things I cannot change.
And in doing so, I have found a peace that underlies whatever troubles me in the moment.
Through my work, I feel strongly connected with all that is good and true in my ancestral line.
I live in a beautiful place with glimpses of my beloved mountains at every turn.
I have a roof over my head, food on my table and the company of those I love.
Even though I am sad about what is lost and cannot be restored, I am happy with my life.
I am playing the cards I have been dealt with much more ease these days.
And I am so, so grateful for that.
At the weekend, I heard Finbar Furey's new song for the first time and something about it touched me deeply. I hear sadness in it but I also hear pride and pleasure. I hear something of a life well lived.
And through all the pain and all the pleasure, I can hold my head up high and know that now my life is well lived. It is a rich and varied tapestry and uniquely my own. It is full of music and song and learning and lovely people. There are some things that I may never know or do, but that is only because I was doing something far more important...for me.
Pic credit Cragganowen by Aine 2013
There is a world of possibilities on that quiet path that beckons you.
It leads you away from the others, the chatter and the noise.
It takes you to a quiet place.
This quiet place enfolds you.
It whispers 'listen'
And in the quiet
there is peace