We’re going to be friends

 

After the first week or so of the whirlwind of tea and relatives and more tea, the kids and myself realised that we were a bit lonely for our friends.  We went from having people that we could pop in on without a thought and be ourselves totally to, well, not.

As an adult, I rationally knew that friendships come with time but the children and my heart weren’t listening.  There just may have been a rainy day where I could have been found crying in my car in the parking lot of our parish chapel.  I had my cry, dried my eyes, and drove back to my father in law’s home with my chin up.

My father in law was as gracious to provide us with a home for the first three months of our time here as we got settled and to give us time for the home that we were going to be renting to be available.  I loved being able to have that time with him for myself, my husband, and the kids. Even so, there were times that I needed to get away to deal with my emotions.  I needed a girl to hang out with to have the craic with.

One afternoon I was making the dinner at Dad’s home and the kids were outside playing in the field behind us.  Suddenly Molly burst inside excitedly and said “Mum! Mum! MUM!!  The girls I saw playing outside the last day just called over and asked if I could play with them!” I said of course you can but I will have to walk you down to make sure that it is ok with their parents.  Turns out, they were cousins of ourselves.  The girls loved that we share a surname.  The one sister was going to be in Molly’s class and the other was in the class behind.  To say that they all got on like a house on fire would be an understatement. With a sigh of relief I noted that their mum was funny and kind.  Someone that I could have the craic with over a cup of tea.  At the time I didn’t realise that my new friend, Leanne, had a bit of a cuppa problem  I may have to stage a Lyons intervention on her behalf one day. 😉

Through the girls’  friendship and numerous activities ranging from Gaelic football, hip hop (which I initially thought that I was going to have to participate in much to Leanne’s horror or humour?), and tin whistle classes; my husband and my friendship with the girl’s parents has been cemented.  It may have even survived a recent dubious movie choice of mine for our double date. (side note, you may want to take a pass on seeing Zoolander 2, just sayin’)

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This was all well and good for Molly but my Malachy was finding this all a bit girly.  There’s only so much playing with wee princesses that a boy can take.  Thankfully, through the power of Facebook, I connected with one mum who lives down the road from where our rental is who has a son around my Malachy’s age.  We also were fortunate to reunite with a boy who we had met when, well to be honest when his mum and myself were pregnant over 13 years ago.  Those two boys are but a few weeks apart in age.  Once Malachy connected with Odhran and Alexander, this island has not been the same.  Any chance they got, the three of them or two of them depending on the day were together.  There was computer gaming, kayaking, and a bit of farm work as the case may be.

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This gorgeous shot of Malachy and Odhran kayaking was captured by Patrick Higgins photography early in the Fall 2015

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Not a bad life for the kid.  And as it happens, I also got to know and really enjoy the company of Odhran’s mum (I’ve already been friendly with Alexander’s mum for years).  I know that I can depend on them to help out and they know that I am there for them as well.  The foundation of friendships started.  And man, the craic can be mighty!

 

Since the first weeks I’ve made more friends as have the children.  School started and boom instant social life!  I have dear fledging friendships with girls from our church (yeah I’m looking at you Anne!), ones that are cousins (wait, that’s most of the ones here 😉 ), and the ones I met in the initial weeks when we were home in Ireland.  Friendships grow over time and while they are not replacements for my loved ones in Maryland, there’s no doubt that we’re going to be friends …

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No matter where this path may lead my family will always keep me strong and joyful.

 

Slow down, you’re moving too fast.

 

One thing that I have learned over the past eight months of living in Ireland is that good things come to those who wait.

When we first landed I was still in my Yankee state of mind; things must be sorted and quickly at that.  It may have been the third day in Donegal when I landed at the Garda Siochana station in Milford to register as a resident alien.  I was as proud of myself with all of my documents in order.  When I landed I was informed that the Garda who handles that paperwork wasn’t available that day and may be available in a few days time.  Nails on a chalkboard time for this Yank.  I was told that I would be grand and if they could take my number, the garda would ring me.  Breathe, Karen, breathe.

Well it did take a few days but the Garda rang me and we met up in the station in Milford.  Talking to himself was like talking to a long lost friend.  He quizzed my husband on who his people were and was delighted that he had played GAA games with two of my husband’s uncles.  When my interview was over he told me that if i wasn’t in a hurry, that he could hand deliver me my resident card as he would be coming to my new hometown in the next few weeks.  He said that I wouldn’t have any problems without my card for a while and once again, You’ll be grand.  What a lovely difference this was from the experience my husband and I had in the States going through immigration for himself.  While no one was terrible to us during the process, it was not like having a cup of tea with a mate.

True to his word, a few weeks later I had my resident card in hand.  Not a bother at all.

I am learning a lot from my time in Ireland.  The number one lesson being that while I am stressing on getting things done right away, I very well may be missing out on the beauty around me.  Things always gets done even if it isn’t on my own personal time frame.  What’s the bother if your internet is installed in a week or in four months (that may be a story I share another day).  The point is that no one is harmed by waiting for their resident card or internet.  Life keeps going on and if you don’t slow down and stop worrying, you might just miss out on the best bits.

 

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

cockles and mussels or Molly’s last stateside birthday.

Another last that is putting us a few steps closer to firsts occurred mid December for our family.  Our Molly dolly turned 8!

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We are so blessed to have a small but tight circle of friends and family who we love so very much.  Even with Molly’s birthday being so close to Christmas, we had a good turn out for her last US birthday.

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Maybe it was the cake that made them join us?  If you bake it, they will come!!  Yes, it had to be said. If you haven’t seen Field of Dreams , go see it now, it is awesome. Of course we are a baseball and softball oriented family, we may be a bit partial to this type of film.

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I love this picture. The love that Molly shares with her god-mother, my best friend ever – Shannon, is so apparent here.
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The joy that Molly and her friends have when they are together is a beautiful sight. I love them.

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Molly has been so grow up about this process.  She told me that she is excited and sad at the same time to move.  She will miss her best friends here but knows that she will make really good friends in Ireland.  Plus she is excited to learn Gaelic and gaining a cool accent.  I think she also has a feeling that she may be spoiled rotten by her grand parents and aunts and uncles when we are home in Donegal.

Spirit of Christmases to come.

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How exciting will it be that next Christmas time my children will be with their Irish (a few British ones that we love anyway 😉 ) grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  We will be surrounded by family that we have, up until now, been denied knowing properly due to geography.  The geography has always been felt by my husband and myself.  It became all the more poignant when our first niece, Maddie, was born in the springtime of 2013 and now our wee Erin (aka the Kiwi) has been born.  A trio of Irish girl: Molly, Maddie, and Erin.. God help us all.  Poor Malachy, he is the only boy cousin so far. 😉

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The brothers: Brendan, Donal, and my Ronan during a Christmas past. Mischief incarnate times three!
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The last time that the brothers were all together for Christmas with their mum (and Charlie and MaryAnne) 2002

While we will be the only ones living in Ireland, all of us will finally be in the same timezone, a puddle jump away from one another.  Each holiday, birthday, and vacations between our three homes will bring our stories and lives closer together. The cousins will grow up knowing one another. What a treat!  They will most likely scheme against us.  Thinking that they have hoodwinked the old ones, not knowing that we all have a hint of the Divil in us as well.

These are the things I am looking forward to and hoping for.  I love the idea of it all.  Sorry Donal, Vickie, Brendan, and Linda, but my ones may be the cool older cousins that lead them into the mischief.  But as long as they don’t do anything that we wouldn’t have done.. er wait, what?!

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They say it’s my birthday

Earlier this week it was my last birthday in the United States.  I was expecting it to be bittersweet but, if I am honest, it was just a joyful day.  A tiring day, but a joyful day.  I started the day by activating my new fitbit that my lovely husband got me for my birthday.  Once that was sorted I started baking my Birthday cake . Yes I do realize the irony: delicious, decadent, irony.

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My lovely husband and my birthday cake and “candle” 🙂 For the record, Ronan is perfectly capable and was willing to make my birthday cake. Apparently I have a control issue. Plus, I was home and I love to bake ❤

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Yes it was delicious and yes it was worth every single extra step that Fitbit will demand of me.  Shamefully, I am in quite the step deficit at the moment.  eek!

It was a very good “last birthday”.  The best part of the night was that I was able to have a small dinner with Ronan, my kids, and my parents.  There may have been some “random dancing” to Push it by Salt N Pepa while my dad and Ronan went out to get dinner.  Isn’t it funny how the most random and silly things truly make a day.  They become memories that I will treasure.  Yes Mom, the kids will probably here every year on my birthday about the year that Grandma Bonnie was “working it” on the dance floor aka my living room.  Birthdays are fun.  When you are blessed enough to have family that are a safe haven, you can cut loose and be silly without fear of being judged.  It is an excuse to be with  family and just laugh and eat cake!  Who doesn’t like these two activities?  if you know someone who doesn’t, I certainly don’t want to know them.

Rather than making me sad, my birthday this year made me excited for birthdays to come.  I have had so many, more than I would like to admit to (!) , good birthdays  in the states and I am sure that the trend of fun birthdays will continue in Ireland. Personally, I am looking forward to baking on my next birthday with Granny,  my Mum Ann, and with Aunt Dee on supervisory and wine supply duty.  I imagine that we will have a grand time.  We might even let the kids and Ronan stop by for a cup of tea.

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Granny’s home in Braade. ❤

We don’t need no education

We have been really happy with the public schools in the States.  Sometimes they get a bad rap, but we have had really good experiences with the teachers and staff. It makes that darn dust fly up into my eyes when a teacher asks me if our children really won’t be in school next year.  Then when I tell them that the kids aren’t telling tales and the teacher honestly looks upset at the thought of them leaving, my allergies kick in and my eyes get really red.

While it makes me sad to leave I am glad that there is something to miss rather than to be excited to leave behind a school that we dislike. We will always know that the east coast of the US is one of our homes.  We have dear friends, family, and many memories here. My goodness, I have spent most of my (almost) 43 years here.

The chance for my children, and myself, to be able to have both the experience of living in the states and now moving forward in Ireland is one that we can not turn down. Molly is excited knowing that she will be learning Irish.  She isn’t so excited that she most likely will be known as the Yank 😉 .  Malachy is most excited about Irish girls… er no.. he changes his mind.. The Irish language is what he is excited about.  (I don’t believe him)   We are all  excited that my two youngest will be going to the same schools that their dad and uncles went to growing up. Or should I be scared? Nah, they are grand 😉

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Brendan, Donal, and Ronan look like wee angels. 🙂

That made this part of our pre move research a lot easier.  Yes, I still looked up the schools to make sure that they were a school with good educational standards, but knowing that my family has been through this system made it easier to trust.  If I can’t trust my  Mum’s judgement, who can I trust?

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Ronan and his Mum, Ann, when we were all together for Brendan and Linda’s wedding in Jersey.

Not all people have a mum to help them in Ireland.  If you don’t have a wonderful Irish mum or dad, ask questions.  Ask co workers where they send their children.  Personal recommendations are always weighted heavier in my mind.  That being said,  I did find the Irish Government website regarding education very helpful. It answered a lot of my questions (click the hyperlink 😉 ) It is a good springboard to answer your basic questions and has links within that page for other related topics.

Definitely this process can be overwhelming at times: I am trying to keep my eyes and heart on the rainbows and green hills of Ireland.

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Thank you Aunt Dee for this gorgeous picture from home ❤