Little boxes … are taking over my life

Ok, so this song is actually social protest against suburban conformity and morals.  In my own life, my little boxes are quite literal not symbolic.  In a short 14 weeks we will be on a plane  flying towards our new life, but right now my life is packing little boxes.  

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Help! They’re taking over!!!!

This box is my tea times that I am looking forward to having with my family and new friends. The sheer luxury of waiting on the water to boil, adding the tea, waiting for it to be just the right strength, pouring the tea, and slicing cake or serving cookies err I mean biscuits to my friends.  I love the conversations that can ensue over a good cuppa tea.  You know that is when you get the best gossip: I mean local news!  I swear that I am not a gossip, unless you have something in particular that you want to tell me. 😉

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I am looking forward to warming this pot, and my other ones, with my family and friends.

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This box here is for when I need solitude and escape into my own world, after I have caught up on all of the local news of course.  Have I mentioned that I am a bookworm? I just love the feel, smell, and look of books.  There is a chance that I missed my calling in life as a librarian. 😉  I have given away more of my paper friends than I have kept.  Ronan, my dear husband, is impressed that I have kept it to 3 small boxes of books.

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I do so love my books. I am loving that i am able to bring over my Terry Pratchett novels, may he RIP. I am a bit sad now.    😦

This one, well, it is just silly little things that make me feel like I am home no matter where home may be.  Isn’t it funny how that odd tea-cup, blue bird figurine, or shot glass can make you feel right?

Old Bay will ALWAYS be a taste of home ;)
         Old Bay will ALWAYS be a taste of home 😉

Even with what I have aforementioned, the thing that becomes more and more evident as I pack up my little boxes is that my boxes are not my life.  I only need a few things …

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Lasts leading to Firsts : Malachy’s (not Malachi’s) last stateside birthday

My poor middle child has been saddled with a name that he has had to constantly correct people’s pronunciation on, politely I must add. I blame Frank McCourt. If I hadn’t read Angela’s Ashes shortly before he was conceived, I would not have been charmed by the name. If not for this twist of fate, he would not have had to, from an early age, learn to say “Actually my name is Malachy, like a key, but you can call me Mal”.

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My sweet Malachy just had a birthday a few days ago.  His last birthday before becoming a teenager also happens to be the last birthday he will celebrate in the US.  We were able to celebrate at home with ice-cream cake, family, and a small group of his friends.  I must ask, when in the world did Middle school children get so loud?? There were only 3 of them over as guests but I was scared that the police were going to be called in for breaking several noise ordinances in our area.  😉

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The weather cooperated with us for the entertainment, thankfully.  It has been quite snowy in the midatlantic region of the US this winter, as you may have heard or experienced yourself.  While it was not snowing on the day of Malachy’s party, there was plenty of snow on the ground for a massive snow ball fight.  I wish I had pictures but we lived in the moment and enjoyed watching the kids and *ahem* some adults enjoy in the terror of snow!  I don’t want to say that this was instigated by my husband, but I would be lying if I said that he had not.  Not sure if my big fella will ever grow up completely, but he is great craic the way he is ( and a great daddy) so I don’t want him to change.  shhh! Don’t let him know, the head is big enough as it is already. ❤

It was such a joy to see my wee boy enjoying his day so much.  He doesn’t always know it but he has the key to my heart.

Look out! She’s got a ticket to ride (to Ireland)

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We couldn’t resist flying home on Aer Lingus. Bring on the 22nd of June!

Gulp! We purchased our tickets to Ireland this week.  Things are certainly moving quickly from a theoretical move to the magical land of Ronan’s childhood to the reality that we are really moving our family to Ireland in just 16 weeks time.  To say that we must be excited is an understatement.

Items on my to do list that seemed to be too far in the future to start checking off are now being completed.  It’s the items that still remain to be done that are giving me palpitations!

These next few weeks that we have left in the states will be packed full of to do list items, friends, family, cleaning, packing, paperwork, tears, and laughter. (Could it also include my losing approximately a gazillion pounds … sigh stress eater here! 😉 ) We are living the dichotomy of both wanting the next few weeks to fly by so that we can join our loved ones in Ireland (and England) while simultaneously wanting to hold on to every precious moment with the ones we love at home.

I thank G-d for my friends here and abroad.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

C. S. Lewis

Be the change that you want in your life / take a chance at happiness

Sometimes life lessons come from surprising sources.  No one was more surprised than myself that I was taught a lesson by Jim Carrey.  I urge you to watch his commencement speech, it is beautiful.  When he stated “I learned many, many lessons from my father, but not least of which is that you can fail at something you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love.”  His words resonated deeply within my soul.

I think that anytime that you are about to make a big change in your life you are faced with the walls of No, You shouldn’t do that, you are too old to reinvent yourself, if you do this you are being selfish and the No wall statements go on. *edit It depends on the person’s intent if I consider it a no wall.  I know people love us and don’t want us to leave.  I love that people want us to stay. xoxo  end edit*  It goes without saying that we do have to look at the responsibilities that we have towards others but that does not mean that we can’t ever take a chance in life.  How often do we allow ourselves to be walled into paths in lives that we simply don’t want?

When I initially told people that I was moving to Ireland, I got a fair mixture of reactions.  For every positive reaction I was presented with at least four no walls.  “I couldn’t leave my family, won’t you miss your family here?  We are too old, Karen, to reinvent our lives, so why are you trying to do that?  Why would you want to move to Ireland, don’t they have a lot of unemployment?”   I have to be conscious and not receive the no walls while maintaining positive relationships with the people who are in my life.

The harder no walls to ignore are the ones that come from inside.  It can all be too easy to second guess yourself out of happiness.  Who hasn’t done that at least once? You would know that I was lying if I didn’t admit that it is scary to think about leaving my family and friends, who are my chosen family, here in the states.  It is a bit ironic that it is their love for me and my family that gives me extra strength to choose not to live in fear but go above it and truly live.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out every fear. 1 John 4:18

You will only ever have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart. Jim Carrey

Yes, we are doing a lot of research; I spend more time on my mac perusing Irish immigration regulations, employment, politics, and real estate than you would care to know about.  We are setting up our household budget, finding work, and have found a home to rent in Ireland.  There is a difference between doing due diligence and living in fear.  We are laying the groundwork to  increase our chances of being successful. As Ben Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  I have no doubt that we will reach our goal of being happy in Ireland even if I am not 100% sure what this path may show myself and my family or even where it may eventually lead.  Here is the fun bit: even if we are not successful in a conventional sense, we will have gained experience.  We will have gained friendships.  We will kindle relationships within our family.  We will have taught our children that it is ok to take chances even if the world says you have failed.  When you live in fear, that when you truly fail at life.  I choose love always!

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A view of the North Atlantic from the driveway of our, soon to be, home in Ireland. The view alone squashes any fear!

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Let’s be honest, these views are an even better reason to focus on love.

Baby, you can drive my car …. aka quest for a driving license in Ireland

So, apparently my US driving license will only be useable for when we are home in Ireland at first.  I am 43 years old and back to driving school.  Some people who know me are drawing a collective sigh of relief and muttering “it’s about (expletive deleted) time!”

Ok, maybe it isn’t quite driving school but I will have to pass the written and driving test.  I don’t like criticism so I am obviously not looking forward to this process.  Add to that the stress of driving on the opposite side of the street than I am used to and I will have a mild case of tummy trouble.  Hmmm, I wonder if my Mum in law, Ann, will let me borrow her car for the driving test. Well, Mum, what do you say? 😉1924286_56649424760_2134_n

Take me home … well, let’s find one anyway ;) .

Ronan, you need to see this property. It is absolutely gorgeous. Ah yes, Karen, That’s Laura Lanty’s mum’s house .

That is a fairly typical conversation start in our home as of late.  I attempt to navigate the local Irish estate agents websites, they don’t seem to have one central one like in the states, and harass him with real estate links to the homes that I think are nice.  During this process I have determined that my husband knows who owns every home in County Donegal.  He either was friends with the ones, went to school with, or it is actually a family member’s home.

That he knows the property owners, or his mum or dad knows them, is not a bad thing. To be honest it is to our benefit that we are known, or at least that our people are known, when we go to rent and then eventually buy a home.  We will be renting a home for the first several months that we are living in Ireland. This will give us a chance to save money post international move for a down payment.  It will also give us time to decide what exactly we are looking for in a home when we are ready to purchase.

His mum, Ann,  currently is putting the word out that we will be moving home in 20 odd weeks and that we are looking for a place to rent.   Especially for rentals in our (soon to be)  area, word of mouth is much more accurate and helpful than any website that I can find. I have to add, bless our mum, she is putting a lot of leg work in for us as we can not physically be there to look at the homes.  I am looking forward to video chats and pictures forthcoming from herself.

Twenty weeks ahead of time may seem a bit daft to already be looking at real estate, but I am trying to get a head start on securing a home.  For one thing, where we rest our feet will determine to which primary school our Molly-Ann goes.  Secondary school is set for our Malachy, but the primary school is a bit more determined by general area.  I don’t fancy the idea of starting Molly in one school while we are staying in dad’s home and then having to change if we find a home out of her school’s area. 

The other reason for starting the search now, if I am being honest with you and myself, I am one that likes to know what is what.  I want to be able to say “right. State Side friends we are going to live here.  Oh, you want to see pictures? Here you go. 🙂 ”  It helps me feel more settled in this unsettling, but happy and exciting, time to have an address to put in if I pledge to a http://www.kickstarter.com campaign or, more importantly, so I can start to make  “don’t forget me” cards for my friends with our new contact information.

For anyone who is planning an international move, it is in their interest to research the area schools and neighborhoods, see how the real estate market works, and most importantly look into what are the banking requirements to obtain a mortgage. In our preliminary research it seems that the banks are not concerned with what we have had in the States. Their concern is that we have resided in Ireland for a minimum of 6 months and in that time had a good debt payment history, the exact time frame is dependent on the bank.  On my to do list is to contact the banks again soon as mortgage regulations have changed quite recently in Ireland.  Minimizing any financial surprises would only be a benefit to my family.

Yes, there are a lot of headaches, paperwork, and financial hoops to go through for this move, but I am remaining joyful.  For goodness sakes, I am going to be living in Donegal, Ireland in just a few months!  Bonus for me is that I love looking at real estate, albeit via the web for now, it is one of my happy chores.  In this process I am determined that I will find at least one home that my Ronan does not know the complete lineage of. 🙂

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Ireland and Donegal forever!

I’m sorry … my story of being depressed during this journey to Ireland

I’m sorry that I don’t always have a real smile

I’m sorry that at times it seems that i am hiding away from everyone

I’m sorry that i have not gone out and walked with you for a long while

I’m sorry that a visit with me might not seem as fun

Sometimes it is just hard thinking of what we will leave

to face that it won’t be as easy to catch up and have the craic

it’s hard enough just to remember to slowly breathe

But I love you all, affection for you I will never lack.

K.Sharkey 1/31/2015

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It is easy at times to focus on the gray skies and miss out on the joy and beauty of the rainbow.

During this time of preparation I find myself being reflective.  It is easy to have moments of depression hit me during this exciting time.  More people suffer with depression silently because they feel that it means that there is something lacking in themselves that they can’t always be cheerful.  To admit to others that you need help is seen as being weak.  But it is not weak to need our friends contact.  It is not weak to force yourself outside when all you want to do is to crawl under the covers.  It is not weak to make to do lists of what needs to be done before the move and actually make progress on them.  It is not weak to say “sometimes I feel weak but I have the courage to admit this and soldier on”.

Depression is not always a sign that things are wrong with your life or situation.  It simply can be a fun twist of genetic fate.  Thanks papa Kent.  I would have rather you passed on your linguistic brilliance than your propensity for depression.  I find that I have to battle at times to make sure I don’t slide down that dark hill too far.

Karen’s survival list

  1. Take a shower every day.  It’s amazing how much of a difference there is in my psyche when I look and smell fresh.
  2. Make sure that the sunshine hits my face every day.  There are studies that have shown that the increase in Vitamin D decreases the incidence of depression.  Even on a cloudy day, you are still able to soak up the rays.
  3. Drink enough water.  I feel so much better when I am hydrated.
  4. Cook healthy meals for myself and family.  Junk in = junk out  Healthy food in = Healthy out.  It is just common sense that you feel better when you eat healthier.
  5. Tidy up the house.  When the house is not overly cluttered my mind feels less cluttered as well.
  6. Walk daily. I am just a person that enjoys being outside no matter the weather. It makes me feel more in touch with who i am and where i am.
  7. Talk to my confidantes.  Everyone needs to be accountable to someone who won’t judge you for your darkest thoughts.
  8. Listen to my confidantes advice.  If they say that i am slipping too far and they want me to talk to someone, I do it.   If I had pneumonia would i be ashamed of seeing a medical doctor for help?? Why in the world should i feel ashamed if i need to talk to someone who can help me dig out of the black hole of depression??

Thankfully, I have not slipped down the slope too far.  I have found that the stress of making decisions about the move I can feel overwhelmed at times which also leads to feeling blue.  I refuse to let these feelings rob me of the joy of our upcoming move.  Yes, there are things and people who I love who we are leaving and that makes me sad.  That being said, there are things and people that we are moving too who I love and that brings me much joy.  I choose to focus on the joy.

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Scenes of the beach are always my “happy place”. I feel the most alive and like the most authentic version of myself when my toes are in the sand and I hear the crashing waves.

If anyone reading this is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, I beg of you to reach out.  Your life matters and despite what you may think, you will be missed. The loss of you will have longstanding ill effects on the ones you leave behind.

USA Suicide Hotline website

Ireland’s Suicide Hotline website