Sticking the Landing

You can visualize it, pray for it, practice it and wish for it, but until you actually land something, you never know how it’s going to turn out. I watched a lot of gymnastics when I was growing up (probably because I was told I was too tall to ever be a good gymnast) and I remember how important the landing was in any routine. Even if the rest of your routine was awesome, if you blew that landing, there was no way you were going to medal.

No complaints from this one

No complaints from this one

Now that I’ve been in Ireland for two months, I can look back at how fortuitous our landing here has been. The universe was definitely taking care of us when it popped us in our neighborhood in this specific part of the world. We could not have asked for a better living situation.

The neighborhood we live in is full of children and Eli’s school is a 15-minute walk away. A coworker of mine lives around the corner from us and has already become a good friend. She’s not only introduced us around in the neighborhood, but also invited me to join her book club. (Squeee! I’m in a book club again!) Her husband is a talented musician and includes Adam in a weekly jam session, providing both friendship and creative inspiration. They have shown themselves to be awesome friends, right off the bat, and cannot escape us if they tried.

A scene from my morning commute to the train station

A scene from my morning commute to the train station

We don’t have a car, but there is a grocery store and pharmacy across the street from our house, as well as a bus stop right outside of the development where we live. A bike lane that is situated 500 yards from our house takes us into downtown Greystones and to the beachfront in 10 minutes. I walk to the train station in the morning, about 20 minutes away, and my commute to work takes all of 9 minutes. Dublin and all it offers is a mere 40-minute train ride away. Public transport rocks.

All of this to say that I don’t think we could have chosen a more ideal place for us to land in Ireland. We rented our apartment sight unseen because we needed somewhere to live. There aren’t many homes for rent in our town so we jumped in blindly. I honestly believe that our leap of faith was rewarded by the universe with all of the benefits I mentioned above. We didn’t question what we were doing and things have sorted out much to our liking.

It’s only been two months but we already feel like a part of the community. Part of this is our willingness to say yes to any invitation (clean up the nearby mountain? sure!) and our desire to take part in local events that sound interesting, but the biggest reason is just how friendly and open the Irish people are.

Doing our part on Sugar Loaf mountain

Doing our part on Sugar Loaf mountain

We now go places around town and see people we know. There was a moment one morning, when I was out running downtown by the seafront. I heard someone call out my name and in that second, I felt it. The happiness of being in the right place, the certainty that we’ve done the right thing and the pleasant surprise of seeing another mother from Eli’s school who not only knew my name, but called it out to say hi.

I give this landing a solid 10. As does the German judge.

The First 48 Hours

Now that I’ve survived them, they’re much easier to write about. But boy, what a rush of adrenaline I was riding those first two days we were living in Ireland. This trip was much more different than our first trip here, as this time I had a job, we had a place to live and our life here was just waiting for us to jump into it. And jump is exactly what we did.

The first thing we did after landing was to rent a car. Adam had used the 13 hours of travel time to adequately psych himself up to do two things: remember how to drive a stick shift and drive on the left side of the road. And he did both with aplomb. Of course, Google maps took us on a crazy route from the airport, leading us down a narrow road with only enough room for one car, on the side of a hill. It was quite the adventure but we made it to our new home safely. Adam only got honked at while in roundabouts, but in his defense, we’ve found out since then that even the Irish aren’t very good at navigating roundabouts.

We unloaded the car and checked out our new digs, which we rented without ever seeing. After looking around our new apartment, we made an inventory of what we needed to purchase. Our apartment came furnished but that didn’t include any bedding. So it was off to IKEA with a list and a limited amount of time to get all we needed.

WOW. We’ve been in a busy IKEA store before, but this one was fairly spectacular. It seemed that most of Dublin was at IKEA, leisurely shopping and taking their time with it. We picked up sheets, towels, pillows, duvets, hangers and a sweet cutting board. It took all the energy I had to keep Adam on track (he loves him some kitchen gadgets) and get us out of there in an hour. Three hundred euros later, we had most of what we needed to get to sleep that night.

From there, it was straight over to a friend of a friend in a neighborhood on the north side of Dublin. This friend of a friend was holding the stuff that we’d left behind on our first trip to Ireland back in October. At the time, we thought we would only be gone six weeks and so our stuff (a few backpacks, a small suitcase, our cable setup and Eli’s scooter) was safely stored away in a friend’s garage.

Then that friend got transferred to Berlin and he passed our stuff off to his friends, who quickly became our friends, mostly because they were doing us a solid favor. (Confused yet?) After the IKEA trip from hell, we headed to their house to get our stuff out of their attic. Turns out they’re lovely people, so when they offered us beers, we ended up hanging out for a few hours. By this time, it’s almost 8pm. I have to start my new job the next day. We’ve only landed in Ireland earlier that morning. AND I AM SO TIRED.

We got back to our new apartment in Greystones by 9pm and then we had to go about making the beds so that we could collapse in them. By this time, I’m running on fumes and barely keeping it together. I know I need to sleep, since again, I’m starting my new job the next day but my mind was racing and I wanted to unpack my suitcase fully. I finally got into bed around 10pm and set two alarms for the next day, anxious not to fuck up and oversleep.

Since we had the rental car, Adam gave me a ride into the office, which is located one village over in Bray. I showed up, was immediately overwhelmed by names and tried to remember what it’s like to work in an office with other adults. In my defense, it had been six months since I’d last done such things. I hit it off with my team and found out that my deskmate lives right around the corner in the same neighborhood. She kindly offered me a ride home, making my first day commute especially easy.

I also discovered the ways of the new office, including the fact that the test kitchen is always pushing out delicious food that is offered up to employees when photo shoots are over. Turns out that the sugar helped with the jet lag and although I was exhausted, my gratitude at having a job and landing in an awesome place helped me get through the first day at work.

We ordered pizza that first night, unpacked more of the suitcases and passed out, content in the knowledge that our new adventure was just getting started.

 

A reflection at year's end

2016 was an interesting year for our family and for our country. A year of big decisions, big moves and big emotions. I’m ending it, looking out at the Hudson river after living in NY for two months, thankful for the many lessons life has handed me this year.

Inspired by Danielle LaPorte, I’m reflecting back on what has worked and what hasn’t worked in this year of change. We spent the first half of 2016 planning and scheming, while the second half of the year was about implementing and executing the adventure.

What didn’t work this year...

The Visa Approval Process.

Well, it’s not that it didn’t work but my knowledge around what it would entail was lacking. I thought getting a job in another country was going to be the hardest part of our move. Turns out the devil is in the paperwork. And the waiting.

The last few days before we left.

When you’re getting rid of all your stuff and on a deadline, there comes a point when things get fuzzy. You start pushing things into boxes and ambiguously labelling said boxes. A feeling of desperation where you just want the final bits and pieces sorted and gone. For us, that meant storing things with our family without cataloging what was going where. In retrospect, we needed a better inventory of the remaining stuff we do have.

My intentions to share my writing.

I submitted more pieces this year than I did in 2015 but there was a lot that I wrote that I didn’t publish anywhere or share with anyone.

My fitness and healthy eating regimen.

After running the marathon in February for my 40th birthday and completing 4 half-marathons in 2015, I was burnt out on training. So I went to Crossfit a few times a week and began doing more yoga. Then the move happened and my activity levels went way down. I was walking a lot in Dublin but routine went out the window and I only got a couple of runs in a week. Nothing disciplined or regular for the three months we were traveling, in addition to the stress & adjustment of a new place. I’ve gained 10lbs since moving in with my mother-in-law two months ago and while I’m not putting all the blame on massive bagel consumption, I’m definitely looking forward to having my own kitchen again in 2017 and getting back into training.

These guys

These guys

What did work this year...

Our plan for moving out of the country.

We did it. I saved the money, we made the trek to Ireland and I got a job. On top of that, we found a place to live in a progressive beachside community. We made it happen. Not without some bumps, but we made good on our word to start a new chapter.

My reading and writing.

With lots of time on my hands, I read tons of books and worked on my writing more this year than any other. I didn’t share what I was writing, but I did lots of it. From taking a Second City satire writing course to signing up for Sarah Selecky’s daily prompts and getting back into completing 750 words a day, I’ve spent the entire year investing in my craft. Journalling has also been helpful in dealing with the loneliness of leaving my friends and the emotions brought up by the election.

My second marathon.

Whew. Ran it. With my best friend. For my 40th birthday. Injury-free. It wasn’t pretty but it’s done.

My meditation practice.

It’s been consistent and I’ve made a lot of progress since starting with a meditation coach in April. I’ve been sitting with my breath, looking into my third eye and asking hard questions of the universe. It hasn’t been easy, but I credit meditation for helping me stay present and remain sane throughout the big changes this year.

My family.

Traveling and moving to a new country has brought us closer. We’re stronger, more resilient now. Whether we're protesting down 5th Avenue, riding bikes around town or camping in the desert, my favorite adventures are with my husband and son.

Downsizing.

It’s a part of the moving process I already mentioned but it bears repeating as it was such a big accomplishment. We went from a 3-bedroom house where we had lived for 4 years, accumulating toys, books & gear to leaving the country with 2 bags each. Getting rid of almost all our stuff helped to free me energetically, lighten the load physically and enabled me to make decisions easier.

I'm ready for anything. Bring it 2017.

 

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I have the job, we have the place to live and all I need now is approval for my work visa. I initially thought the process might take two weeks and crashing at my mother-in-law's place for that long didn't seem too bad. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it could take up to six weeks. Holy shit.

Patience is something I've never been good at but this is a deep dive into the importance of it. Sitting with my impatience, breathing and enjoying the present moment without looking forward, as much as I want to. It's right there. My future. My new life. I can see it. I can almost touch it.

Photo credit: Suzan Bond

Photo credit: Suzan Bond

Instead, the universe is throwing some lessons my way. Looks like I still have lots to learn about waiting and why it's good for me. I'm sure I'll look back at this time as being special, but in the midst of it, I'm struggling.

Waiting sucks.

I thought getting rid of all my stuff and traveling to Ireland would be the hard part. Then, once we accomplished that, I realized finding a job would really be the hard part. But both of those things were cake compared to what I've been doing for the past six weeks: waiting.

The patience it requires to sit by and wait, give up all control over something I want desperately and simply let it unfold. I'm not good at it but the opportunity to practice this skill is a gift. I don't worry about the visa because worrying doesn't do anything.

For me, this time has been a chance to hang out with my son, have dinners with friends, attend yoga classes in the middle of the day, go on trail runs whenever I please, read a shit ton of books, and in the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, write my way out.

I can see through to the other side, the place where the next chapter starts and yet, I sit here. There's nothing that I can do to make the process go any faster. It reminds me of the last days of being pregnant, when you knew that something exciting was coming but you didn't know when exactly. A work visa is a bit like a baby, in that way. The beginning of something new, the next adventure in life and this thing that I want but must wait for. As I type this, Usher is singing Wait for it. Don't worry Usher, I am.

(And yes, I am currently addicted to the Hamilton Mixtape. It's some of the best money I've spent and since I haven't won the Hamilton lottery, it's the closest I'll probably get to the show.)

My meditation coach tells me that there's a reason for me being in NYC and that I'm learning important lessons. I agree. I'm open to it all. She also told me that I'm going to be much stronger when I go back to Ireland and of that, I have no doubt.

Danielle Laporte wrote a post on active waiting and while the entire thing spoke to me, this gem really resonated...

“Take solace in the fact that you’ve done all that you can do. This is a really gratifying place to be in. You’ve put in your time, you’ve pulled all the strings you can reach. You’ve lined up your ducks, planted your seeds. Nuthin’ to do now but… wait. You’ve shown up. You’ve met the universe halfway. Good job. Focus on the rest of your life now.”

Waiting, whether for your future to start or the light to change, gives us a chance to appreciate what we have & be grateful. The future will take care of itself. But what we do in the present moment is what makes us human.

Starting Over

Delete. Reboot. Let go.

In writing, technology and life, starting over is difficult.

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