Journey to Wisdom

My father says some people learn lessons by listening to the wisdom of others while others learn their lessons the hard way. I am, unfortunately, one of those people, so far. These past four months, I have learned a lot about myself, the way I operate in various situations, and what my default is in life in response to stressful situations.

I came to Ireland with an optimism and naivete about the world I was living in and coming to. Call it being too busy working multiple jobs before I came here, but I didn’t do my research. I came almost impulsively, signing up with the program that got me here shortly after graduating from university. Why, they asked. Why not, I responded. I didn’t really have a why other than that it was outside anything I or my family had ever done, and I did not want to settle for a job at that moment. That is exactly what I would have done because I didn’t have my career path figured out, and I still don’t. It is both a curse and a blessing to have an insatiable curiosity about most things. I want to do everything, and I fear if I choose one, I won’t be able to do the rest. Routine jobs don’t have a lot of free time to do hobbies and other interests. I came to Ireland to buck settling. So I didn’t have a why. Know that this is the most important question you must ask yourself before making any decision. The answer to that question must be from the depths of your soul and for you alone, as you are the one making the decision. I found my why after I got here though. The cliche: to find myself, or more accurately, to know myself.

Fear.  A very powerful, paralyzing and dangerous thing. It’s like a disease that lays dormant, with flare-ups every now and again, with no perceivable cure. It is something that’s always there, that can be felt perhaps at all times, even in the smallest of measures. If not caught in time, it becomes worse and worse until it is no longer dormant but dominant in every situation. Merriam-Webster defines fear as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” More accurately defined might be perceived awareness of danger. There are those in this world who have irrational, anxious fears in regards to themselves and how their actions affect those around them and those affectations change the way they are perceived by others. I have mentioned high school before, but basically I didn’t belong. I never fit into any one group. On one hand, that’s alright. I had the love of my family and of God. It made me independent, having the knowledge that I didn’t need other people to enjoy and savor my life. However, on the other hand I had always felt something was missing. I felt/feel like I have a hole in my heart, perhaps formed by years of feeling like I didn’t belong. This is not supposed to draw sympathy, but is my musing on how I might have become the way I am.

A short summary on my life, for those who don’t already know. I had family when I was younger. They say a child’s memories, that is the normal ones, have sun-washed memories in that the memories you have from your childhood are distorted in that you remember only the sunny days and the good times, thereby forming strong nostalgic emotions. This is the way I feel about the few memories I have from childhood. I had a large family that, to my memory, always had reunions or dinners/birthdays and they actually got along. Then, my Papaw died when I was seven. He was the best, and seemingly the glue that held my family together. When he died, we had granny of course, but it just wasn’t the same.

For a few years, things seemed to glide for a bit with a few bumps along the way. Then, when I was 11, my brother and sister moved into their mother’s house. When I was 12, my mother died of breast cancer and around the same time granny got sick. Through the following year, she had open heart surgery, was in and out of the hospital, had two strokes, and ended up with dementia. After living with my aunt for a year, she moved in with us and stayed for about eight years before passing. This small part of my life, over the space of about 1 year, I remember more vividly than any other part of my life. I think when mama died, a part of me did too. Why, you ask? Because it feels like my life before was a dream. I remember bits and pieces that bring a bit of pain because of the happiness I feel in those memories, but otherwise I remember nothing. Either I repressed most of my memories subconsciously or God took mercy on me during that time. I think it’s perhaps both. One day hopefully I’ll get those memories back. To get to the point, shortly after that, I went into high school. One might say I was fragile and thinking back on it, I would have yearned more for acceptance to fill that hole that had just blown my heart open. I was not unloved at home. Dad took care of me and encouraged me and got frustrated at me when I let others’ opinions affect my happiness. But, it was apparent that I was seeking that sense of belonging anywhere I could find it. Though I became fiercely independent and strong, I was/am still mush underneath it all.  I have a very tender heart and soul and much love to give, but I have realized only recently this crippling need to have the validation from others. Having this has given me a life of fear for the last ten years. I think back on conversations I’d had years ago, still cringing that I said something that might have been taken the wrong way and I hurt someone’s feelings. It has been hard for me to make new friends in the past years due to being cautious and well, fearful, of not being valued, of being hurt. I have feared getting sick; feared that I would not live up to the expectations of those who have supported me and literally gotten me where I am today; feared that I would settle for a job and live a life that meant nothing, that made no difference; feared that I would make the wrong life decision that would send me down a path from which there was no return. Fear, you let it in, you embrace it, it becomes dominant throughout every part of your life. It has enveloped mine so much that I realized lately that I think I actually feared this entire time getting to know myself. What is she like, Rachel Lauren Anderson? What kind of person is she?

Being here has forced me to do just that. I’ve been through situations that have held the proverbial mirror up to who I am. I don’t like who I am, who I’ve let myself become. I never really liked myself though, as I thought I was of no value.  No, I never really liked myself and as a result, other didn’t. Someone who loves themselves, not in a conceited way, lives differently, acts differently than someone who doesn’t. I have thought for so long that I was of no value to others, but what I should have been focusing on was the value to myself. Before others can like you and perhaps before you can truly like/love others, you have to know and love yourself first. So how do you do this? No, you will not have the lovely long legs of the girl next door as you are short and you’re not getting any taller. You can always improve your mind, but you will not have the genius intelligence for mathematics that the guy in your class at uni has. Your genius, your value, lies in something else. Maybe you haven’t found it yet, but it’s there. You’re a brilliant musician, a great painter, or an ability to inspire others to better themselves.

There are those who perhaps are meant, who only want, to do one thing. Perhaps yours lies in multiple things and areas. Finally, and most importantly, stop fear in its tracks before it even enters the situation. It is believing in yourself and knowing that with effort, you can beat back and even eradicate those negative thoughts that stop progress. For me though, it is God. He has been responsible for everything that has happened to me, both good and bad. Though I would rather argue that it’s all been good because I wouldn’t have reached this point had all of that not happened. In these four months, I have learned that I am selfish and impulsive; that I still yearn for validation from others, which causes more fear of my actions affecting others’ view of me; that I am more out of touch with the world and people, which makes me kinda dense. I am not demeaning myself, but these are things that the mirror has shown me. I don’t like the person I have become, so I can sit here and stew in my flaws and regrets, or I can cleanse and move forward out of this state. How will I do this? Guess. Yep, God. I serve the most powerful being ever, and I am one of His children. Of whom and of what shall I be afraid?

Ultimately, I will make a conscious effort to find value in myself for my sake. I am still a work in progress, that God is still cutting the rough edges off of, but coming here, being here has significantly sped up His process. I have had more tension and fear here than I have ever had. I found I don’t react well under large amounts of stress and feeling alone and away from my comfort zone. I feared. Through the past few weeks however, with what God has gotten me through, I truly realized I have nothing to fear. Does it still seep back in? Absolutely, as I am still working on the cleanse, so to speak. But when it does, I pray and basically flush it out. That’s what you have to do with poison, keep flushing it out until it’s all gone. So, I will be feeding myself positivity, love and good thoughts on a daily basis. Yes, I still have my flaws and I will still make mistakes because I’m human, but with this and with God’s help, I will become the person I’ve always wanted to be and someone who will serve Him well. So, to conclude, these four months have been difficult and I haven’t done many touristy things, but I can’t/won’t regret them. They are the reason I’m changing, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.



Day 3 in Ireland

Woke up at 10:00. USIT Orientation was at 11:00. I jumped out of bed and into the shower. I ate the doughnut that I had bought the night before for dessert from The Rolling Donut. Then, I headed down to the office. I smiled when I walked in, and said, “Good Morning, I’m here for the Orientation?”

“Yes, you can just wait over there,” they said.

I sat down with my water and just looked around. This was the resource center. It looked like a computer lab, really. It had postings on the wall for jobs and accommodations. I made a mental note to come look at that after orientation.

“Hey, Rachel? We’re actually going to be in this smaller room. Normally, we’re in the board room upstairs, but they’re having a meeting. Hope you don’t mind.”

“Oh, no I’m good.”

I learned at the orientation what I needed to know about the processes of becoming a temporary resident of Ireland. I have to get a GNIB card (Garda National Immigration Bureau) that gives me eligibility to work. Then, I have to get a job and obtain an official offer letter for a position. Then, I find accommodation, although this step doesn’t have to wait for anything. After I have a job and accommodation, I can get a PPS number (basically our Social Security Number). After this, I can fill out a tax form, and until then, I”ll be on emergency taxes which is basically taking 50% out of what I make. Once I fill out a tax form, then I’ll be being paid normally, and I can get a bank account. There are multiple steps to do once I leave as well, but they didn’t explain it, and I didn’t want to know about it yet. After that, I went back to my room and did some searches again, sent some emails. I’m discovering that they don’t really respond to emails. I decided, despite the fact that I wanted to keep looking to really find a place to stay, I needed to get out. I went for a walk and took pictures of statues that were pretty looking. They were in Gaelic though, so I didn’t know who they were or why they were up there.

William O’Brien, according to Wikipedia (I know, not always the most reliable source, but the most accessible), was convicted of sedition for being part of the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848, which was short-lived and failed. He encouraged the use of the Irish Language. He was sentenced to death, then got deported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). In 1854, he was released but still exiled from Ireland. In 1856, he was released from his exile and returned, but was not active in politics anymore.’Brien

Sir John Gray “was an Irish physician, surgeon, newspaper proprietor, journalist and politician.”  Through his offices, the Vartry Resevoir water supply work were completed, provided fresh water to Dublin and its suburbs. He was involved in other political movements, but is most well known for his work with fresh water and its health benefits for Dublin.

James “Jim” Larkin “was an Irish trade union leader and socialist activist.” He founded workers’ unions, the Irish Labour Party, and is most well known for his role in the 1913 Dublin Lockout, the most lengthy and violent industrial dispute in Irish history.

This quote was at the base of his statue: “The great appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise.”

That night, I had dinner at Beshoff, a small cozy seafood restaurant. I had basic cod fish and chips. The chips were very large fries that I was unable to finish because there were so many. It was good, and tasted healthy because they used vegetable oil. A bit of history about the lineage of the owners, is the founder lived until 104, his father lived until 108, and his grandfather lived until 115. That’s insane to me. That’s really old, and though it didn’t say, I’m sure they weren’t decrepit either. Eating healthy really makes a difference. After I got my food, I sat by myself at a table that was half booth and half regular chair. I felt awkward at first sitting by myself, and even felt bad because the place was picking up. I felt like I was taking an extra chair, but I looked to my right and my left, and there were at least three other people eating by themselves. I thought, “I’m gonna fit in here.” I went back to my room, and finally finished the book. It’s not that long, but it’s one you have to take time on or you’ll miss it. The essence, the spirit of the book. You might think I sound like a weirdo, but just read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s kind of like L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle. That book is sooo slow in the first ten chapters. If you can stick with it that long though, it gets amazing and is my second favorite book ever. Jane Eyre is first. I love history and learning and new experiences. Despite rough beginnings, I’m excited about this, a lot.


Ireland-Day 3

I woke up late, around 11. My phone with my alarm had died. The hostel breakfast ended at 10:30. For the first time since I could remember, I woke up in a pool of drool. That meant, once I had finally gone back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night, that I had slept goood. I showered, then went to a nearby coffee shop, SOHO Coffee Company. I got a raspberry pound cake sort of thing and a mocha with soy milk. I then went to USIT down the street and got my SIM card from them to put in the phone that my brother-in-law had let me borrow, his old phone. It was so much better, so much faster than mine. I spent nearly the rest of the day getting the service for it set up and researching and trying to figure out why the adapter on my laptop was getting hot, even though it has the right voltage. Turns out it was the replacement battery. I spent the rest of the day emailing about accommodation and looking up jobs. It got dark again and I went to Tesco, the local grocery store and got some cold Falafel and deodorant. I went back to my room, ate, and again, almost immediately went to sleep. I woke up at 3 again. Woke up late again. I had to figure something out.

My first day(s) in Ireland

October 21st, 2017 Part II

(Cont. from Part 1) I was gone at this point. I probably looked a bit frazzled on the outside as I was trying to appear calm, but I was frantic that I would not make it. I had enough money to buy another flight, but then I wouldn’t have enough to get into Ireland (2500 Euro). I was going through all of the scenarios, how I’d have to go back home, somehow save up again, then come for whatever remaining time was left. Finally, I was able to move my things through the scanner. No one else had been taking their shoes off so I left mine on. I went through the scanner. The agent on the other side said, “Oop, you have to go back, take your shoes off.” (AHHHH!!!!) I went back, took my shoes off. The angry looking agent on the front side scanned my boarding pass and I moved through. I threw my shoes on as soon as they came through, put my laptop back in its case (has to be scanned separately), grabbed my bag, then sprinted to my gate saying out loud the whole way, “Please Lord don’t let me trip! Please Lord don’t let me trip!”, as I hadn’t taken the time to tie my shoes. I ended up running past the gate because I thought it said 822, and mine was B22. I ended up asking a janitor, who very deadpan said, “It’s right behind you.” I sagged in relief, frantic sweat and tears as there was a long line, which meant I hadn’t missed it. I didn’t look at the time. I didn’t care. I was getting on the plane and was hopefully past the most stressful part of my trip. I got on, put my “2” carryons in the overhead bin. This plane was a bit bigger, with three rows on each side of the aisle instead of 2. I double checked that I was indeed in 20E. There was a stiff looking girl with earbuds in the window seat, and nice looking lady in the aisle seat. I was trying to hurriedly put my things in the overhead bin as I had people behind me, but she said, “Oh, take your time,” in a lilt that sounded Irish. I said sorry for bumping her, then sat down.

It was only about 3:00-4:00 at home, but it felt like years had passed since that morning. I just kinda sat there in a daze for a bit, too shell-shocked to do anything else. I don’t remember who started it, probably me, but I struck up a conversation with the lady to my left. I told her about my day so far, and she tutted sympathetically, then said, “Well, you’re on it now and good to go.” We fell silent. The plane was moving and we were about to take off. I didn’t film it. I didn’t care. Still was not prepared for the stomach drop. Almost immediately, I fell into a very deep sleep. Not so deep though that I didn’t stop myself from falling to the right where the stiff girl sat. She probably would not have liked me falling in her lap. I woke up, maybe after an hour, and got some water from the flight attendant when he came around with the cart. I’d had that Cracker Barrel breakfast and Pringles all that day on the first flight. This flight, you could get a full meal, but I wasn’t hungry. Still too upset. I was staring at the back of the seat in front of me, thinking, “What if something goes wrong at customs or immigration when I get there? I might break if something else goes wrong.” I then thought of God. He has to get really irritated when His people don’t have faith in Him, especially when time after time He shows them He’s there. That’s when I thought of the ordeal I had just been through. It could’ve been much worse. I thought back to the really long security line. If I hadn’t gone to the help desk, I wouldn’t have been escorted and given the length and speed of that line, I would have missed my flight if I had just gone into the line regularly. Thank you God. Sorry I always doubt you. Then, as my thoughts centered on something else, my eyes widened. I forgot my hostel vouchers at home. That was the last straw, even after the thoughts about God. I just started crying, not loudly, as I never do, but I was thinking this was a huge mistake, I needed to go home, what had I been thinking, I was totally unprepared and scatter-brained, I was probably gonna end up homeless and penniless with no way to contact my family because I didn’t have a phone service.

After my literal breakdown, I started talking with the lady next to me, and she said once we landed I could use her phone to call my folks. I calmed down a bit and we chatted some. I told her where I was from, and she said she was from Newfoundland, which is where the plane was going to stop, St. John’s. Their main industry is oil, so when oil prices go down, it really affects their economy. She asked what Alabama’s main industry was.

I said, “Uh, farming?” I had no idea.

She said, “Oh? What kind?

“I guess it depends on what part. Some are crops, some are hogs, chickens, cattle farms.”

She found out I was going to Ireland an said her ancestors were from there. I could tell from her accent at the very least. She said she and her husband were supposed to have gone recently but he got sick. She had just got back from a trip with 9 other “girls” as she put it, the oldest of which was 80. They had gone down to Fort Worth, TX, as they had all taken a vacation together every year. She was a lab technician at an X-ray lab up in Alberta. She’d fly up and work for 2 weeks, then fly back down and have 2 weeks off. I said that was awesome but that it must be exhausting. She said, “Oh yes, it’s about quitting time.” We fell silent for a bit again, and I silently began to cry again as I thought of what everyone was doing back home, wishing I was there. We began our descent and landed. She handed me her phone, and I called my sister. No answer. Dang it. I called my bro-in-law. No answer. Dang it. I handed the phone back to her, “Ol well,” shrugging. She said, “Oh dear!” We sat there for a minute as I assured myself it would be fine.

“Maybe you could text them,” she said.

I did, saying it was me. No response.

Another 2 minutes passed, and her phone started ringing, “Ah! Here we go!”

I answered, almost dropping the phone.


Kayla. A familiar voice. Home. I almost lost it.

“Hi,” I said.

“What’s the matter?”

“I think I left my vouchers for the hostel at home on the black bookcase. I can pay for the hostel, but do you think you could send me photos of them? Maybe the hostel will take them.”

“Sure, are you crying?”

“Yes, it’s just been a very long day, and I’m tense. I’m fine.”

“You’re sure no one’s been mean to you?”

“No, its just been a stressful day.”

“Okay, well I love you. It’ll be fine, ya know.”


“I love you.”

“I love you, thank you.”

I hung up, still crying. “I’m a mess,” I said, giving a watery laugh.

“Oh no, you’re fine!”

She got me to talking again, I think more to calm me down than anything else.

I finally calmed down, but missed home. I guess it was, “I want my mommy” syndrome. I had had a bad day, I was tired, stressed, and I just wanted to go home.

She said, “You’ll be alright. Maybe we’ll see each other on your flight back.”

“Maybe,” I said. Laughing. I never got her name, in all my stress. A perfectly nice stranger. Well, I’ll either see her again, or just pay the immense kindness and support forward.

Fortunately, this was a stop and not a layover, so I didn’t have to go through customs/security again. I immediately went to the WestJet desk in the small airport and asked if I needed to pick up my bag as the lady at the last one said I should check. The info desk lady without blinking said, “Oh no, it’s the same flight so they won’t take it off and put it back on.” That was a dumb question, I thought. But with my exhausted brain, I wanted to make sure nothing else went wrong. I went to the little convenience store type and got a Chicken Caesar salad and a large water, though I wasn’t hungry. I ate it though because I hadn’t had a substantial meal in a while. Afterward, I got on Facebook and was messaging Kayla and someone from work. I started crying again. I really was a mess. Now, you see what I mean when I thought if I started, I wouldn’t stop? They both helped me calm down.

It was quiet at the airport, everyone tired and subdued. We boarded again, and I started reading, as my eyeballs felt puffy and I was just a bit too wired to go right to sleep. The book was good. Weird, but good, and ironically perfect for me for this trip, even though I was skeptical at first. So absorbed in the book was I that when a flight attendant came around, it was like coming through fog to come back out of the book.

“You can spread out.” I noticed that the window seat was open. I looked at the gent to my left. We both shrugged. I unbuckled my seat belt and moved, “It’ll be better for both of us.”

“Yeah, the last trip my arms were like this,” motioning his arms closer to his body, “now I can spread out a little.”

I smiled and went back to my book. They had the lights on in the cabin, but when we started to move, they shut them off. I turned on the light, but soon became drowsy. The captain came over the speaker, “Good Evening, this flight will be 3 hours, and 6 minutes. Weather over the Atlantic is fair, 6 degrees (Celsius).” I tuned him out after that. I didn’t lay my seat back, not once on either flight as I had read you shouldn’t do that because it creates a domino effect of everyone leaning their seat back. So I tried to make my travel pillow as comfortable as possible without my head lolling to the side. I leaned my head against the side. The plane rumbled louder than I remembered shortly before. The cold was seeping through the window. I put my jacket on, and soon fell asleep. I slept fitfully, but it was enough. The captain came over the speaker all too soon, “We are beginning our descent and should land in about 30 minutes…” I didn’t catch the rest of it as I was just waking up. I looked out my window. I wouldn’t have been able to see the Atlantic anyway, as dark as it is. I did see sparse and low lights scattered around the land. “Wow, Dublin goes to sleep, I thought.” Then Dublin came into view, so many lights as all the cities I’ve seen. “Ah, that other bit was the outskirts, the country. I couldn’t go back to sleep, but the lights were still down, so I just rested my eyes. I sat up about 15 min later and pulled my phone off the charger, scrolled through it even though I knew I’d have no messages.

I looked over at the gent next to me. He smiled and said, “You were sleeping pretty good, I was all,” and he started twitching as if sleeping in awkward positions. I laughed and said, “Well my butt was numb, but I was tired.”

We struck up a conversation. He’s originally from Estonia and had been living in Ireland for 7 years. He had been to Orlando, trying to get his green card approved. He had brought too many clothes and said it was hot. I agreed as I said I was from Alabama. He asked, “Are you here on holiday?”

I stiffened a bit, but hopefully not perceptibly as I said, ” No, I’m here for a year. I’m staying in a hostel.”

“Oh? Where?”

Still suspicious, I said, “Dublin City Centre,” saying no more than that.

“Oh aye, you can get a bus easily enough from the airport.”

He stretched and said, “I’m going home, and immediately going to sleep.”

“Well, I’ve got about 7 hours before I can check in, and I have to stay awake all day.”

We kept chatting for a bit, then fell silent.

I got off the plane, probably smelling to high heaven and looking worse, but I didn’t care. I arrived and got in line for immigration. A little apprehensive, I approached the window, handed the agent my passport.

“How long are you in Ireland?”

“A year.”

“What are you here for?”

“The Work in Ireland Program.”

“You got a job yet?”

“No ma’am, but I still have a job for a little while with an American company I worked for, until they find someone new.”

“Oh yeah? What do you do, then?”

“It’s order entry,” thinking she wouldn’t want a long explanation.

“That’s nice.”


“Welcome to Ireland,” *stamp* “enjoy your stay”

I walked through, and went and stood near belt 5. It was the only belt that was moving. The gent from the place moved to stand beside me.

“So, you made it through, eh?”

Laughing in relief, I said, “Yeah, thankfully.”

“Your bag look like the rest of yours?” pointing to my carryon.

“Yeah, it’s a set. I was worried it would get lost between the flights and everything.”

“No, it’ll be fine.”

We got to chatting again while we were waiting.

“So, where do you live?” I asked

“City Centre,” he said,

“Oh, cool. That’s convenient.”

He got his very large gray suitcase off the belt and waited until I got mine. I walked off toward customs, and he was like, “uh, uh, you got anything to declare?”


“Well then you can just go out the regular exit.”

We walked through together and was at the airport exit.

“So, you gonna stay here for a bit?”

“Yeah. Relax, maybe get some coffee.”

“Alright then, the buses are right outside, McDonald’s is up that escalator. See ya later.”

Smiling, I said, “Thank you. See ya.”

I didn’t get his name. Too tired. Also didn’t want to seem too sociable because, you know, I’ve seen Taken. For descriptions of the nameless people, the lady on the plane was middle-aged, with bangs and blonde hair that curled inwards all the way around. She was wearing a melon colored shirt and jeans. She had the nicest smile. The gent was wearing a leather jacket, jeans, had a buzz cut of dirty blonde hair, and what looked like biker boots. He seemed nice enough, but you never know.

I went and just sat. Got on the WiFi on my phone and caught everyone up, including texting dad from my email. Then I walked over to a little cafe in the airport called “Upper Crust.” Got a butter and sausage English muffin and a mocha with an extra shot of espresso. The mocha was bitter, but it was coffee and the muffin was very good as I was, finally, starving. After that, I hung out for about 4 hours, alternating between putting my head down, reading, and scrolling through my phone. I wasn’t ready for what I knew would be another ordeal. Around 12:30, I got up and went to foreign exchange to get some Euros, then went to the bus stand to get a Leap card (public transportation card, you just tap it.), then bought a ticket on Air Coach, a bus. I put my bags under in storage, then got on. I leaned my head back and nearly went fully to sleep. I didn’t want to miss my stop though. We were going through town, and I didn’t see any really tall buildings. No buildings taller than four stories. Architecture was beautiful. I know, I know pictures right? My phone was about to die and we were moving. The lady at the airport bus stand said, “Get off on O’Connell Street, then just cross the bridge and you’re there.”

I got off, and there was no bridge in sight. I had a really heavy personal item, my carry-on which I tried, unsuccessfully to loop around my larger one and carry that way, so I just ended up rolling both of them. I chose a direction and it turned out to be the wrong one. I finally said screw it, I’m getting a taxi. I asked the taxi man if he only went to Dublin airport as there was a sign next to his car that said Dublin airport. He asked where I was going.

“Aston Quay (pronounced key)”

“Oh, that’s just a two minute walk that way,” pointing in the opposite direction of where I had walked for half a mile.

I looked in that direction, still seeing no bridge. I debated just telling him to let me ride as I was tired of lugging my stuff. I sighed though. He wanted to a better fare, and I needed to save my money.

“Okay, thank you.”

I eventually made it, and checked in. The hostel was unable to accept pictures of my vouchers, but I paid the $141 for 5 nights (not bad) and went upstairs. I sat down on the bed for a while. Just sitting and staring at the bunk above me, listening to the street noises outside.

“Wow, I’m here.” I breathed out loud.

I called Kayla on Facebook. She was getting Starbucks, of course. It was nice to be here and hear her voice. I showered and then got on my computer, scrolling through Facebook, looking up accommodation. trying desperately to stay awake. Then, I remembered my compelling book. I read this until dark, taking in every word. Then, I decided I was hungry. I went out and walked around and around and around, crossing the bridge over Liffey River about 4 times before I decided on something to eat. I had gotten my bearing though. Ireland doesn’t have street signs. At least Dublin doesn’t, so I was making note of landmarks, restaurants that stood out, and I had my map with me so I’d know where I was making these mental notes. I got a burrito bowl from Pablo Picante. I ate it, and almost immediately went to sleep around 8:30. I woke up around 3 and couldn’t go back to sleep, and my phone died so I woke up at 11 the next morning instead of the 7 I wanted to, but I had rested and that’s all that matter. And that concludes, the longest, most adventurous day of my life.

My first day(s) in Ireland

October 21st, 2017, Part I

I woke up at 6 am. Well, more like 6:15, as I hadn’t gone to sleep until around 1 or so. One, because Kayla (my sister) and I had gone out. It was my last night in Nashville. Our initial intent was to go do karaoke. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe first for dinner. I had a burger and a salad, as I wasn’t entirely certain Ireland had burgers. So, I got a burger, she got a burger, and we both got something Irish for dessert. After dinner we went to Printers’ Alley, one of the more historic places in Nashville. Here, there was supposed to be a karaoke place that was pretty good, but we couldn’t find it. We ended up having to ask two people hanging outside a bar. We asked if they knew where a karaoke bar was.

The guy said, “The Wild Beaver.”

Kayla said, “Is it the best?”

The lady said, “BEAVER!”

I’m not sure if she misunderstood us, or we misunderstood, but later it was something we shared a laugh over. We went to the Wild Beaver Saloon, our first impression being that we were going to have to sing a very country song. We decided on Man! I Feel Like A Woman! Can’t get any more cliched and country than that other than that whiskey and horses song. We got drinks from some grumpy bartenders and stood around people watching, waiting for our name to be called. We then noticed that there was a mechanical bull. Kayla said, “You do it.” I insisted she do it with me, but she said she had a headache. I ended up doing it twice, no three times. Two originally because we only had our cards, and the bar had a $10 minimum. Tickets were $5 each. I got thrown off almost immediately the first time. Second time, I stayed on a little longer. The third time I got for free because the operator motioned for me to get back on it. Some new people had walked in, and I was doing a little advertising, so cool. We ended up not doing karaoke because it was one of those “tip to skip” deals, and people kept going like two or three times in front of us. Anyway, I got to bed late, then couldn’t go to sleep for nervousness and also fear that I would forget something or not wake up early enough. I woke up at 6:15, was showered by 6:30 and began to pack any last minute items. Time seemed to fly by, and we decided to leave by 7:15. We ended up leaving around 7:30-7:45, I think. We went to Cracker Barrel and I started filling with emotions, most of which I couldn’t identify. Most prominent was sadness. This was my family, and always would be, but I would never live with them again. I would be out on my own. Being on my own wasn’t a sad thing, just that you can’t hold on to a moment.

After Cracker Barrel, we went to the airport. It still hadn’t sunk in that I was going to Ireland for a year. We might as well have been going to church. After some hiccups with parking, we arrived and walked into the terminal. We walked around a bit looking for WestJet (my airline). We found it, checked my bags, then walked around to the ticket gate. At this point, I would have to go on alone. I tried not to get too emotional. It was becoming more real. I wished I could bring them with me. I didn’t want to leave, but I knew I had to. It would change, I would change, once I had gone, but I wanted to stay right there, forever. We all stalled a bit. Kayla got me a travel pillow, Daniel picked up a wifi card for me. I stood looking at them both, taking it all in, because I wouldn’t see them for a long time. We all then proceeded to stare at each other awkwardly. I looked at Kayla, and she looked like she was about to tear up. I said, “Don’t!” I knew if she started, I would, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stop. We said our final goodbyes, and I looked back for a picture. I saw as I was walking away that Kayla was turning red, which meant she was about to cry. My own emotions started boiling but I only had about 10 seconds before I encountered the security officer who scanned my boarding pass.

She asked, “Are you Express?”

“No,” I said.

“You’re in the wrong line, but that’s okay.” She proceeded to open the barrier and let me through to the correct line. I guess she took pity on me because my eyes were blurry from tears. I made it through security, surprisingly easy, then walked past all the shops and Starbucks, thinking “I’ll come back.” I ended up sitting in the waiting area until my flight started boarding, one: debating whether I’d have time to go get it; two: deciding I didn’t really need coffee and I needed to save money; third: I wanted to sleep on the flight. Tried to get wifi on my phone, but it didn’t work, so I just watched people or closed my eyes. Let it be noted that I didn’t have service on my phone as I had canceled it on the 18th to prevent it from rolling over to another billing cycle. We started boarding. Now, I was excited.

I got on the plane, had my heavy personal item, with my laptop, bible, journal, Insanity workout, and important papers, and my carry-on suitcase. Turns out, a personal item, on takeoffs and landings, has to be put under the seat. Mine was too bulky and didn’t fit. Fortunately, there was room in the overhead bins. Luckily though, because now technically I had 2 carry-on’s, which weren’t allowed.

I was sitting in an aisle seat next to this nice looking lady who didn’t look like she wanted to talk. Like, she didn’t look unapproachable, but she was looking down at her book. Fine by me. I started reading The Alchemist. Apparently, the most bought or most read (can’t remember) book in the world. She opened her book and it was Nora Roberts, my favorite romance author. Debating whether to say something, I just said, “I love Nora Roberts, she’s my favorite.” It actually didn’t occur to me that she might not speak English. Fortunately, she said, “Oh, I read so many authors, I don’t know the difference.” Not knowing what to say, I smiled and went back to my book. I was too scattered to focus though, so I put it down and looked around at the people, the plane. A young gentleman came up to me and said I was sitting in his seat. I pulled out my boarding pass, “15B.” I looked up, and I was actually sitting in 15D. I had not noticed that there was a 15 on either side of the aisle. I had just noticed the number, thinking another one was across the aisle. He just said, “That’s okay, I’ll just take your seat.” It was a window seat. Ol well, I shrugged, I was on my way to Ireland, I do not have a preference of where I’m sitting to get there.

The plane started, and I felt nauseous, going back and forth between thinking excitedly, “Am I really doing this?” and “What the heck am I doing? I need to get off and go home.” The propellers started. Yes, my first plane had propellers. We began backing out and moving forward. We moved around a bit, then finally sat still, waiting to take off. I simultaneously was looking out the window and had my phone camera on too. We launched. That’s what it felt like. I was forced against the back of my seat, unprepared for the stomach drop as we took off, and I said “OH!”  We were finally in the air. The flight passed fairly uneventfully except that I chatted from time to time with the lady next to me. Her name was Shelley. I thought she was American from the sound of it, but she was from Canada. That’s where we were headed, Toronto. Her husband was still back in Nashville, staying at a conference one day more. She helped me fill out the declaration form, which was surprisingly confusing, and we fell silent again. A little while later, we got to talking about traffic, and she said traffic was awful in Canada. They don’t have any merge lanes like we do, just yield signs. So, you basically have to gun it to get on the highway as there’s no room to get up to speed. She talked, at my questions, about her life in Canada. All fairly “boring” according to her, but it was a culture different from mine, so it was exciting. She talked about how the fall leaves only stay on the trees about a week, then a good strong wind comes through and everything is bare. She asked about what I was doing, and I told her, trying to be concise as I am always trying to do. As we began our descent, I asked her about customs and Toronto in general. She told me I might need to physically pick up my luggage and take it through security again. She then said, I think a little biased, that Toronto didn’t really have anything original to offer. It had tall buildings that were mostly headquarters or businesses but had nothing particularly special. I pointed out a body of water, and she said, “Oh yes, I think it is Lake Ontario, or at least one of the Great Lakes.”

We landed, and I said if it was okay with her, that I was going to wait until everyone had gotten off as I had two heavy bags and I didn’t want to accidentally bean somebody in the head.

She said, “Oh, I’ll be the last one off of the plane. I clean it.”

Surprised, I said, “Oh, really?”

“Yeah, that’s my job. I work for the airline.”

Our jobs hadn’t come up in conversation, but I was still surprised. She laughed and said she had once  been an accountant but got tired of sitting in an office and doing that so she changed careers. I could relate on so many levels. I hadn’t really started my career yet, whatever it’s going to be, but I didn’t like sitting in an office. After saying goodbye, I got off the plane and followed the thankfully English signs. They were in French too, but I was still able to read them because of the slash. Once I arrived, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. Some people kept going and some were stopping and getting in line. An agent started directing the people coming from another flight to the line. I didn’t know what to do, so I just got in line. While waiting, I saw Shelley walk by. I wanted to say something, but refrained. I eventually got to the top of the line, and there were multiple machines that were about the declaration forms we had filled out. The light above the machine turned green, and I took it. I filled out the information, put my passport under the scanner. It didn’t read it because I had it upside down. I turned it around, and it read it correctly. The camera whirred down to my eye level and took my picture. I saw the picture and thought, “Good Lord, I look a mess!” but confirmed the picture because I only had like 2 hours for the layover before my next flight. I wasn’t worried though. I followed the signs to an escalator and walked into this larger room, known as the customs hall.

Waiting in line there too, as the declaration machine had given me a receipt with codes I couldn’t understand on it. I waited in line, then finally got up there. The agent checked my receipt, then told me where to go. I went through and headed for the WestJet info desk. She told me baggage would be coming through on Belt 5. It came through, and I watched for mine, watched for mine, saw a leopard print suitcase. “I’ll watch that one come around again, just to get an idea of if mine’s in there.” I watched it rotate 4 or 5 times, but not seeing mine, I went back over to the info desk. I showed her my sticker, and she was like, “I’m so sorry, we have a new system. I’ll have to call downstairs to see if yours is automatically being moved over.” It was, and she said I could just go all the way down to the end and enter security.

So, Toronto Airport is enormous, and I wasn’t sure where to go in. I found a WestJet agent manning some kiosks, and asked him about my boarding pass and where to go. He looked at it and said that it wasn’t updated as it didn’t have the gate number on it. I had just printed it the night before, but I said okay, and went and got in line. 4:03. I looked at my boarding pass. “Boarding ends 4:50.” I still hadn’t gone through security. I thought, “Hopefully, my phone is wrong. Maybe it hasn’t adjusted.” Line’s not moving, and the attendant that left hasn’t come back. Look down, 4:09. One family moves up. One more to go. 4:11.  One more family moves up. Okay, finally, next my turn. 4:15. Waiting, waiting, no one at the desks is finishing up. The one who left finally comes back. I told her I needed an updated boarding pass. She printed it out fairly quickly. I asked her what time it was.


“Am I gonna make it? My flight starts boarding at 4:25.”

“It’s going to be close. Hold on one moment, let me see if I can get someone to escort you, okay?”

She proceeded to go over to a young gentleman and an older lady. The older lady came over.

“They’re not going to hold the flight. We will escort you through to security, but we can’t make them hold the flight for you.”

Standing there dumbfounded, I said, “So, what then?”

“Try to make it, but we can’t make them hold it.”

The young gentleman told me and another lady on a similar flight, “Come with me.”

We started jogging, then skipping through the very long security line. We got up front, put our stuff in the bins, and waited. The lady with me put her stuff up first, but the conveyor belt kept pushing someone else’s backwards, re-scanning it. I didn’t dare look at the time because I didn’t want to know, and I couldn’t make this move any faster than it was. Push forward, push backward, and I still don’t have mine on the conveyor belt. I’m not going to make it.(Cont. on part 2)


There is Nothing So Stable as Change

My sister brought that up today. She’s a Bob Dylan fan and he’s the one that said, “There is nothing so stable as change.” In the following posts, you’ll see me mention her a lot. She, family (including friends I see as family) are an integral part of who I am and who I want to become. We were talking about change, and I was saying how I liked change for me (i.e., me going off to different countries, me doing different things), but I didn’t like change for those around me. It’s a bit selfish, I know. Okay, a lot selfish. If you truly love someone, you want what is best for their happiness. Typically, change is the answer to that question. On the inside, now after this post on the outside, I want to come back to what I know as familiar and know it, more importantly my position in it, hasn’t changed.

However, life moves on. It makes me sad because I want to hold onto every moment. Me wanting to savor every moment links back to my beginning.  I’ve been trying to resolve the past for the longest time. I had bitterness for wrongs done me and it held me back, which is why I was trying to resolve it. And I did. The part I’m trying to resolve now, or perhaps gladly accept is a better term, is the past I can no longer have. Kids in typical, even dysfunctional families, don’t always see what’s going on with the family dynamic. When I was younger it seemed like we had huge family reunions all the time, my grandfather being the central adhesive and that my family got along really well. You hear about sun-soaked or sun-dappled memories. That’s what they are for me.

However, when I got older, after my grandfather died, things seemed to fall apart. I’m not going to go into all the things because it is a very long story and I’m trying to be concise. There were things, tensions I noticed I hadn’t noticed before. Even going back and watching home videos (which always make me cry by the way and those who know me know I’m not a crier), I notice the tensions. Of course, I see little me toddling around oblivious, simply seeing those I love and who love me hanging around. I just shake my head at her.

Ever since it stopped , I have found myself, mostly subconsciously, longing after then searching for a new family. Sure, I still get along well with many of my family members, but more as individuals and not the unit I always thought it was. When I think about it, it’s actually quite pathetically funny. Through the years, I have tried to immerse myself in groups, because I liked the people obviously, but I was always searching for what I’d had. I had a cold dose of reality, or rather a few, when I realized time and again, that you can’t force yourself to become part of a family, not really.

You’re going to think I’m insane when I tell you that in times of deeper grief, I had considered, multiple times, the idea of marrying into various groups throughout time, just to be part of their family. That was how bad I wanted it. Nuts, right? Well, being that I am a much more logical person than emotional, that idea flew out the window. From an emotional point of view, it would be cruel to whoever I married because I would be marrying them for their family. It’s not much better than marrying someone for their money.

Furthermore, I am getting the feeling that things really do work out the way they’re supposed to. It is something I have resented and grieved about for a very long time. Maybe I am meant to be alone. (I know, cue the violin.)

In all seriousness though, it all stems from my past. I’ve always felt the need for family, to belong. I’m not the only one. That’s why there are so many lonely people in the world. It is harder I think because I feel I once had it, even though my logical side knows it was an illusion to shelter a young child. I want it again. I always hope, if I ever do get married, that the dude will have a really big family. That would be really nice. However, I feel as if this is a character-developing period in my life. I already have pretty good character,with flaws obviously, but I am guessing God’s not done with me, and this idea of feeling alone, feeling lonely, will make me stronger for bare years down the road.

Those who are believers would say, “Oh, well you’re never alone. You have God.” There are times I knew God was present and my spirit was at peace, but my human self, this need to have interaction and to belong, felt very much alone. It’s something I’m working out with Him and something, hopefully someday soon, I will gladly accept. I do what I can, love those that Dad calls “My People” with all the big heart that I have, and continue trudging on.

For a disclaimer, I am genuinely and generally a very happy person. I have everything to be happy about. There are certainly those who don’t have what I have, and I have no reason to be unhappy, but I’m one of those people, because of God and how He made me, that values the things  that are immaterial over other things because they are longer lasting and they mean more. Occasionally my past memories will rear their head, and I’ll remember that it’s something I have to resolve so I can move on. It’s very hard to move forward when you are tied, especially by the organ that keeps you alive, to the past. But despite everything, and with God’s help, here’s to letting go and moving on.


Photo Cred:

An Imperfect Diamond

Most of the time I am quite lighthearted and I don’t participate in deep thinking. This is most of the time a good thing as I am merely enjoying the moment and not succumbing to the recesses of my mind. Often times when this happens, I retreat into myself and am not the usually happy-go-lucky person. However, there are other times when I am skipping along the path of life and a bright flower of knowledge catches my eye. This type of deeper thinking is good though because it inspires me to learn more about whatever has caught my attention, which in turn, enriches my life.

The word Paragon is the bright flower that caught my eye this morning. Like many words, it has different contexts, but one general meaning. Referencing the Google definition(s) that popped up when I searched the word, paragon is:

  • a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality.
  • a person or thing viewed as a model of excellence
  • a perfect diamond of 100 carats or more

They have varying contexts in their meaning, but all in all, it means perfection or the thing or person upheld as perfection. If we’re going by broad standards of  perfection, it is one without blemish, innocence, cleanliness, something sweet and/or virtuous. However, I also like to think perfection is subjective. The saying “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” comes to mind. No, beauty is not perfection, but it’s the same principle. What one person might deem as perfect another might see a flaw.

My second cup of coffee is imperfect to me this morning because it doesn’t have my beloved Coffee-Mate French Vanilla creamer in it. Because of my new health standards and because I am doing Insanity, I only allow myself one cup of coffee with creamer. My second cup of coffee is not bad, and it’s a taste that I’ve acquired and enjoy; however, it is not perfect to me. There are those, like my father, who love their coffee black. To him, this would be a perfect cup of coffee.

In my opinion, no one and nothing is perfect. Perhaps it/they are perfect to the human mind, but speaking from my beliefs, the only being that is perfect is God. There are those who don’t share my beliefs, and the previous statement was not intended to make anyone uncomfortable, but is merely sharing my opinion of what people see various things or people as being the idea of perfection. Perfection is something to strive toward but cannot and will not ever be achieved. My idea of achieving the closest thing to perfection is to form a closer relationship with God, which in my mind, makes me better at everything else I do or achieve because He is helping me. For others, it is perhaps to practice something endlessly, dedicate themselves to perfecting an art or an idea in order to get as close to perfection as possible.

My point is: Perfection is subjective and can never be fully achieved, but it can be striven for. It is perhaps a good thing that we never achieve perfection so that we’re always continuing, always  trying to improve but enjoying the process, and therefore, life.

Photo Cred:

Food for Thought

Anyone who knows me knows that I cook, quite a bit. Especially on special occasions. It is this fact, and the fact that I enjoy it, that has me thinking perhaps I should go to culinary school. While going to culinary school is no guarantee of working in a professional culinary environment, I think it gives one a leg up in that department. Yes, I can start out by becoming a Commis chef (lowest level chef) and work my way up, but I feel the knowledge, rather the specific knowledge I want (pastry and baking) would be best achieved in learning from an official program.

I will continue to pray about it and search, both information wise and internally, but it’s something that I get really excited about. In the right setting, I could cook all the time. I’ve discovered that I don’t like sitting inside all day. I love to do something different everyday and my soul lights on fire when I have a challenging creative project in front of me. This can span various career areas: writing, decorating, event planning, travel writing, food writing, business owner (probably food related), all of which I’m looking into as possibilities. However, I feel my foundation will be culinary school and a Master’s (that is one of the things I am still researching, in terms of a specific area). The point is that I feel my possibilities are endless, open but most importantly, mine.

I went through some rough seas in college. No, nothing was happening externally. Externally, life was perfect and I was one of the lucky few that had been given a gift of God: a scholarship that paid everything plus some. Internally I was in turmoil, asking that question that plague so many, especially in the college sphere: What am I going to do with my life? For the longest time, up until the last half of my senior year, that question tortured me.

There’s this pressure that nearly everyone feels. It’s a pressure about starting out young with a bang and showing those who know you, showing yourself, that you are indeed making something of yourself in an acceptable way. I.E., choosing a career, moving up the ladder, and following all the supposed steps of life. I was feeling this pressure for the longest. I wanted (still want to, btw) to do and try everything. I wanted the world to be my oyster; however, I was feeling that pressure, from myself and others, to choose a more solid path. I almost quit college at one point, but thankfully decided that would be a huge regret down the road. I’m only a year down the road after graduation and I know, I would have regretted it. Through talking to trusted advisers, friends, family, myself, and most importantly, God, I just let go. I had felt that pressure because I had been given an opportunity others would have seized and flew with and succeeded in their careers. I felt less, ungrateful, and quite like someone who didn’t have it together because I didn’t have it figured out like everyone else.

When I finally chose a major (Thank you Dr. W), it was perfect. Communication Studies. The study of communication. Who knew it could be so fascinating? I had always been fascinated with the skill I seemed never to be able to attain: effectively communicating. Sure, I’d given speeches, but they were bare bones at best. Furthermore, I was/am a people person. At the time, mostly because of lack of self-confidence, I wasn’t a great communicator. I’m not a great communicator now, but I certainly know more about it and am always improving. Due to various events in life, I was stilted and awkward, especially around new people. But I knew this was my path. Communication Studies with a Public Relations minor. What I liked best about it though is that it didn’t box me in. One could say no particular area boxes one in; however, I had been a fashion design major for about 30 seconds, and that path is pretty set. With Communication my career possibilities were blown wide open because everything, especially nowadays, is about communication. I could/can/will do anything. Once I realized this, I no longer felt like I was constantly having a heart attack: This seizing panic that I needed to choose something and fast so I could get ahead of my peers. I felt relaxed and happy when I realized I didn’t have to participate in the rat race.

Except for world-changing events that would alter society, which may very well happen, I am all-in-all free to do whatever I want. I realized the degree was a springboard, an opening of doors to do whatever I wanted. I decided to move to Ireland and work for a year. It’s something I had wanted to do since sophomore year and, through the optimistic insistence of my sister, I went with it. I had all these thoughts: oh, it’ll set me back professionally (I don’t really have that figured out yet, so I’m good), oh what if I regret it later (I don’t think I’ll regret Ireland), what will people think, specifically those who have supported me and paid my way? They’ll just think I’m blowing my life away. To myself, and to those who are reading this post, I am making something of myself. I’m not sure what that will be yet, but I am freeing myself to try different things, different flavors (literal and of life), different places in this life to try to find ME. I’m doing all of that with God’s guidance, creator of the universe and the one who knows exactly what I’m meant to do in this world. So, be confident in the fact that I will choose something one day soon, something where I can give back to those who have paved my way, where I can feel that my existence wasn’t pointless, where I can contribute to the world, even in the smallest way.

I am not foundering. I am searching. I am going on adventure. The one of a lifetime. The one for a lifetime.