Monday, May 20, 2013

Reviewing where we are

Sweet Maybell, doing what she does best.
 Things have felt busy lately. Nothing in particular it seems. We've just been consistently finding ourselves at the end of the day asking, "Wow, what did we do today?". And that's a good thing, trust me. I don't feel like anything substantial has changed. Maybe it's just the time of year or we've just found a groove and we're riding it. But I sure do love being busy.

I feel lately that I've been consistently getting the same message. Does anyone else get that? You can believe it's the universe or your subconscious.  Believing what I do I feel like it's God trying to keep me on track. And that message that I've been getting in various forms, from speakers at church to conversations with friends, is happiness. It brought me back to my 2013 "To-do" list and evaluate how I'm progressing.

We're just going to blissfully ignore #1 on the list for the time being. That still stings a little too much to get in to. But how to be happy, even joyful, is a subject that the Scarecrow and I have been talking about a lot. I have really successful moments with #2 on my list and some substantially unsuccessful ones as well. Happiness is a choice. Isn't that we hear all the time? There are a lot of things that I/we can't change right now, at least not quickly. And so despite these difficult circumstances we have to make the decision to be happy in spite of them. The internet is full of 5 easy steps to (fill in the blank). There's a reason for that. They're good and they're helpful sources of inspiration. This week, this is my list of what I'm going to personally do to be happier.

  1. Write in my journal EVERY DAY of the blessings that I have. Focusing on what we do have helps us to think less on the things that we don't.
  2. ACTIVELY work towards changing our circumstances. Work, strange as it sounds, has always made me happy. I like having a project, digging in the dirt, putting my back into it. This whole unemployed thing has not sat well with me. There's a potential future opportunity which I'm going to be annoyingly vague about, but for now I need to find ways to better our circumstances. Stay tuned for that.
  3. I've said this before, but the Scarecrow and I don't get out much. This is in part due to our financial circumstances. It's also because we don't particularly have many close friends here who we associate with regularly. We NEED this kind of association. We spent a lot of time yesterday with family and good friends. And we felt AMAZING afterwards. I need to find a way to make more of an effort in this department and surround myself with more good, supportive, loving people. 
  4. EXERCISE more regularly. 
    "Exercise gives your endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't kill their husbands." 
    Thank you Elle Woods. And the Scarecrow thanks you as well.
  5. I find I forget myself when I'm thinking of others. I need to get out and SERVE in some capacity. I'm so grateful for my assignment at church with the youth. Here's to looking for more opportunities.

They're a little strange. Love them anyway.
Oh, and I'm going to try and blog more. Stay tuned for upcoming format changes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wait, is that summer I just felt?

The beautiful Shannon river
Bank holidays are one of the special little treats of living in Ireland and the UK. Seriously America, we need to get on this concept. And no, Memorial Day and Labor Day are not enough as barely the banks close on those days. I love Scarecrow's work hours as we always have the weekends together plus they observe bank holidays.

We started off the weekend on Friday night where we watched a soapbox derby sponsored by Red Bull. It was one of many events lined up for the annual Limerick Riverfest. For the derby they blocked off Denmark Street (a block over from the Milk Market for those familiar) and started at the top of the hill. It's not a steep hill but enough to get the job done. They built in an obstacle with some hay bales which made for some interesting moments. Despite the rain it was fun to watch the teams and see the various creations. Sometimes you need to go out and do something silly once in a while.

Saturday was a BEAUTIFUL day. Sunny for the majority of it with highs around 16 or 17 C (about 61 F). We slept in as much as possible with the early daylight. Thank you northern latitudes, still not used to that yet. Did a few chores and then set out to spend the afternoon in the city at Riverfest. First we picked up Scarecrow's aunts who live in town to have them come for the stroll. They're both real characters and I love them to bits. We walked along the stalls for the BBQ festival and got to taste a few samples. It wasn't the American Royal in Kansas City but it wasn't half bad at all.

Mardie kept getting ahead of us and having to wait so myself, Scarecrow and Molly snuck past her and snapped this picture.
From there we wandered down what was called the continental fair. The street was lined with all kinds of different vendors and completely packed. I couldn't even count the number of stalls selling candy and treats. There was all kinds of different food and different goods. We settled on getting a 99 and having a little sit down to watch the people. A 99 is one of life's simple joys, just a cone of vanilla ice cream with a Cadbury flake stuck into it. Divine. The Red Viking tour company had a short, free bus ride of the city which we availed ourselves of. If anything else, after all the walking it was good to put our feet up and listen to a bit of history. It was pretty funny, the Scarecrow would point something out to me and no more than 2 seconds later the bus driver would start talking about it. It was so nice to see the  city centre so busy with people and with so much life happening. I could literally feel summer in the air despite the rain coat I was wearing. Just in case.
How fabulous are these hats!

3 goofy girls
It was warmer than it looks.

Monday we took Toto and a couple of her friends to Lahinch to jump in the ocean. It was a bit more grey to start but that didn't stop them. Let me just say that the water off of Ireland isn't quite as warm as the water, say, off of Florida. It's freezing! Thankfully the temperature climbed to about 18 C (65 F) and they had a ball. While the girls splashed the Scarecrow and I threw a baseball back and forth. I'd say we were the only 2 people on an Irish beach that day playing catch with a baseball. After about an hour the girls turned blue and got out of the water. They got dressed and we walked and played along the beach and played on the playground. After a large bag of chips each and another short walk we loaded back in the car for the hour drive home. Those were 3 tired little kitties, let me tell you! But it was so fun to get to go out and do something fun like that with the family. It made me long for warmer weather and more bank holidays.
This one's for you Christina! Remember?

Despite the shorter week it already feels long. These first couple of days of the week we're extra busy for some reason. Here's to an early bed time tonight!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We now return to Oz

I'm sorry for those who are diligent followers of this blog. I appreciate you greatly and hope that you'll continue to come back despite the gap in time. I've been away the past few weeks. Clicked my heels and headed back to Kansas for various reasons. Here they are in no particular order and with their subsequent outcomes:

1. I got to see and hang out with my family. Despite my ridiculous work schedule (more on that later) we had a great time. Got to hang out with my MoH (Meg of Honor), various friends from church, parents, siblings, and of course the sweet little niece and nephew. My Button got so big and decided to start walking/talking/singing after I left. And of course W was his usual sweet, silly self. Oh, and my sister's dog ate her ducks and they subsequently got new ducks. Hysterical.
He's such a character
Peek-a-boo! Big brother taught her how to say "Boo!"

New ducks!
2. Scarecrow and I were able to go to Denver and be a part of one of my best friend's weddings. She and I were roommates and friends all throughout college and have managed to stay really close since then. It was so much fun to be part of it all and her husband is such a sweetie. A happy life lays in store for them. Oh, and between the newlyweds, the Scarecrow and myself, and our other college roomie and her husband we are totally planning a vacation together. And now to start saving...

A beautiful day for a wedding.

Gorgeous bride getting done up.
Hair up!
The "04" club. We all met the bride in 2004. One of us was born that year...

Before heading back we got to catch some of the Kansas City Blues v. Denver Highlanders rugby match. The Blues were staying in our hotel and Scarecrow went up to chat with them. He though it was funny chatting with a fella from Cork who plays for Kansas City in a hotel in Denver.
3. Alright, the main reason I went over was to defend my thesis. For those who don't know I have been working on my Master's degree for the past 2 1/2 years. It was something I always thought I wanted and have worked really hard to get to this point. However, for the majority of that time I felt like I was swimming upstream. I knew it was going to be hard. Nothing worth having is ever easy. Particularly over the last few months I've felt my thesis fighting back. I wasn't getting clear results, I felt unsure as to the actual application of some of my data and in general have just felt lost. I was working towards what I realize now was an unrealistic deadline, forcing me to compromise my work and to not allow myself sufficient time to prepare. And so the day of my thesis defense was excruciating. I couldn't defend it or myself. I felt like an utter moron in front of my committee and to myself. My mind quite literally went blank and I was a fumbling idiot. Unsurprisingly, they didn't pass me. I suppose you could say they told me this in the nicest way possible but there really is not soft way to put it.

Scarecrow met me in the hallway after it was all over and we raced to the car so I could bawl my eyes out. I felt empty and scared that somehow I had wasted the last 2 1/2 years of my life, that I was now unemployable and  going to have to work in a Supermac's (Irish McDonald's essentially). But the Scarecrow told me he still loved me and was proud of me. We went home and my sweet mom who doesn't swear hardly at all hugged me and told me KU could go to hell. I know, but that's pretty strong language coming from her. Then we sat down and ate dinner with my parents and little brother. Afterwards the rest of the family including aunts, uncle, cousin, grandparents, and my sister's family came over and we ate cookie bars and played games. I was still hurting from the day but it was made less so knowing that everything was still ok. My nephew still thinks I'm Spider-Man. I can still laugh and play cards with my aunts and cousin. And Grandpa will still say I'm "dynamite".

The next day we flew home and now here we are. We're getting back to reality and I'm working towards new goals, finding work and finishing my thesis. This time though I'm going to do it the right way. Work towards completion, not a deadline. I'm going to work towards happiness and taking care of myself, my husband and my step-daughter. With new priorities aligned here's hoping for the best.