Slán to my twenties

I turn 30 at the end of this month. Thirty. How is that possible? Even just typing this opening line, my heart is hammering in my chest at the thought of no longer being in my twenties. I know “age is just a number” and “you’re only as old as you feel”, but I’ll be dealing with my greatest life challenge just days after my birthday for the next year and, well, the timing is pretty bad.

I won’t get into the specifics of my challenge now, but it is common knowledge that everyone strives to get their act together and be settled in many aspects of life by the age of 30. I was on the right track: I secured my dream permanent job, live in my favourite city in the world, finally found an apartment that I love, am surrounded by an incredible group of friends and I feel settled in pretty much every aspect of my life. I finally feel like an (semi) adult, for the first time in my life. This is all being taken from me, five days after I turn 30. This is why I am having such a hard time entering a new decade, and such an important decade at that. I never dreamed I’d have to start over at the age of 30.

IMG_8786

Let’s turn to the positive: I will be celebrating my 30th with a very dear friend in Copenhagen. Why did I choose Copenhagen? 1) The majority of Europe is too hot for my liking at the end of August. The weather in Copenhagen should be (fingers crossed) perfect. 2) Copenhagen is where the Little Mermaid was born and I am a mermaid, so it is only logical! 3) I have always wanted to go to Copenhagen and didn’t want to celebrate my birthday in a place where there is an overwhelming amount of things to see and do. I think Copenhagen will be the perfect place to relax and just be for a few days.

My twenties have felt as fast as the blink of an eye, honestly. I remember turning 20 and 21 like it was yesterday. The twenties is a tumultuous learning decade for everyone, but I feel I handled my twenties very well. I graduated with my B.A. at the age of 21. I went (and moved) abroad for the first time at the age of 22 and immediately found my place – Ireland. What a year that was. I travelled around the world solo at the age of 25 and I think back on that trip with pure amazement every day of my life. I secured my dream job and graduated with my M.Ed at the age of 28. I’ve had so many beautiful adventures in my twenties and really hope I will continue living this way in my thirties, to an extent.

“We are born not all at once, but by bits.” – Mary Antin

“Uncertainty will always be a part of the taking charge process.” – Harold Geneen

“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.” – Søren Kierkegaard

Advertisements

Reflecting on 2017

Overall, 2017 was a very good year. It consisted of some turbulent times for me, but overall very positive. A few life changes, too! This year definitely flew by faster than any other year for me. I visited 3 new countries (Spain, Czech Republic and Slovenia) and visited an area of Italy I’ve never been to before (Tuscany). I also returned to my favourite destination outside of Ireland (Napoli).

January – I rang in the New Year with my family in Florida, something I hadn’t done in a couple years. — I finally saw Tommy Tiernan live in Dublin.

February – I submitted the hard-bound copy of my dissertation. — I visited Barcelona over my mid-term break.

IMG_8698

March – I presented my research at the IGC’s annual conference. — Celebrated my life wife’s birthday in style (and in the sun!). — Our St. Paddy’s Day celebrations exceeded expectations! We celebrated at the Guinness Storehouse and expected to be annoyed by touristy events, but it was a blast!!

IMG_8863

April – My sister visited me – we had a few days in Dublin, then we went to Prague, Ljubljana and Bled. When we returned to Dublin, my parents joined us for my Master’s graduation.

IMG_0263

May – (and end of April) I joined my parents in Tuscany, Italy for a long weekend.

IMG_0645

June – I treated myself to a night in a luxury hotel since I couldn’t take a holiday this summer. I had 5 days off between the last day of school and the start of my summer job. — I had a 16 week blow dry done for the first time and my life was changed forever! — My Christmas gift from my life wife was a trip to London to see Adele, which turned out to be extra special since it was unexpectedly her last planned live show!

July – Saw Passenger in Iveagh Gardens thanks to A, who got me a ticket for my birthday. — Began living my best life on Mondays with my life wife – where we ditched work to do cliff walks while singing Queen followed by afternoon cocktails in the sun!

IMG_8479

August – August was a month full of change and mixed emotions. Celebrated my anniversary of moving in with my life wife on our actual move-in date. I moved into my very own studio apartment, which is a bit of a dream come true. I have no commute to work and live in one of the most beautiful areas of Dublin. However, moving out of my two bedroom apartment in my favourite area of Dublin (Smithfield) and no longer living with my life wife was the hardest adjustment I’ve had to make in my life thus far (I sobbed on moving day). — I found out I was able to return to the school I worked in last year – the most wonderful surprise! — Celebrated my 29th birthday with a beautiful brunch – a place we had never been before, but quickly became one of our top two favourite brunches in Dublin!

IMG_0552

September – Said “see you soon” to my life wife and saw her off to Los Angeles. I threw myself into work once she left to distract myself.

IMG_0662

October – Normally my favourite month of the year, but unfortunately was a very bad month for me for reasons I won’t go into right now. It was all good at the end of the month though – I went to Napoli on my mid-term break and all was right with the world again. I ate 4 pizzas in 3 days… more details to come!

IMG_1014

November – Finally visited the National Botanic Gardens for the first time. Saw the Grafton Street Christmas lights lit up on the first night with my friend N, while eating Terry’s Chocolate Orange McFlurries.

IMG_1594

December – Welcomed my life wife back to Dublin for a few days for her viva… what a beautiful reunion it was! We had the absolute best 5.5 days and did ate everything we set out to do eat. — I am getting ready to fly home to Florida for Christmas and feel very blessed that I get to do so. It hasn’t hit me yet though… I’ve been so busy and it’s also currently very mild in Dublin (today was 13C/55F), so it no longer feels very Christmassy (it did until this week!). I am so excited to be home and watch Christmas movies with my family. I haven’t been home since last Christmas.

thumb_IMG_1869_1024

I am NOT ready for January and February in Ireland, but am pretty excited for 2018! For one, it’s an even number, which makes me feel a bit more calm for some reason. What’s on the horizon? So far the only plan I have is to join my life wife in France over my February mid-term break and to continue Sean Nós dancing. Who knows what’s next for me? I’ll begin a new decade next year, so I’ll try to plan something big! Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas… see you in the New Year!

Siena and Florence

We ventured to Siena in our rental car on the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend (the crowds! the traffic!) and it took us a solid hour and a half to find parking. We were still based in our middle-of-nowhere home in the Chianti region not too far from Siena.

IMG_0707IMG_9911IMG_0706

IMG_9849

The incredible Duomo di Siena – the striped marble is a sight to behold!

IMG_9866

I was so disappointed to not have the opportunity to climb the Torre del Mangia tower in Piazza del Campo, because it was sold out when we got there, even though we were there in very early afternoon. This was #1 on my to-do list in Siena, but we still enjoyed wandering around the sun-drenched piazza.

IMG_9845

Very relaxing lunch in Siena

IMG_9881IMG_0689IMG_0648IMG_0661IMG_0662

Even though Siena got increasingly (and absurdly) crowded as the day went on, we really enjoyed leisurely wandering the beautiful lanes of this unique city and enjoying some down time and gorgeous food. We ended the day by buying a box of Bar Pasticceria Nannini’s gorgeous ricciarelli… unbeatable!!

The following morning, we returned our rental car (which took forever, plus they charged us out the wazoo for not having a completely full tank (even though it was nearly full) – we used up what cash we had to purchase petrol, we couldn’t find a station that was open to accept a credit card!) and took a taxi to the bus stop and waited for the return bus to Florence. We stupidly purchased our tickets in advance. I say stupidly because, as it was a bank holiday Monday (1st May), the bus was only running a couple times that day (this information was nowhere to be found online, I did check in advance!) and we had just missed a bus by two minutes. The next one was not for another four or five hours. So, we had to buy a local bus ticket to take us to the train station and had to buy train tickets. Such a waste of money and time, but we finally arrived in Florence… of course it was lashing rain! We dropped off our luggage at our Airbnb apartment and went for some lunch.

IMG_9938IMG_995220170501_165356IMG_9960

IMG_9968

Il Duomo di Firenze

IMG_9974IMG_9976

IMG_9987

The lane our apartment was on

IMG_0731

Part of my lunch: Pappa al pomodoro (Tuscan tomato and bread soup)

For dinner, we went to my life wife/bestie’s favourite restaurant in Florence, Il Brincello. It was exquisite and we had the most enjoyable dining experience.

IMG_0783

Bruschetta never gets old!

IMG_0788

My love for pici knows no bounds

On our last morning in Florence, I went for a nice long walk while my parents relaxed and packed up their bags.

IMG_0014

Early morning – no crowds!

IMG_0016IMG_0018

IMG_0058

View from Piazzale Michelangelo

IMG_0082

Pear and pecorino ravioli with balsamic vinegar

We enjoyed one last Tuscan lunch together before we made our way to the train station. I took the train to Bologna to fly back to Dublin and my parents made their way to Venice. It is never enough time, but I am so thankful for this beautiful long weekend with my parents in Tuscany.

What have I been up to lately? I went to London with my life wife to see Adele in June (blog post coming soon!). We spent our summer ditching work to do numerous cliff walks while simultaneously belting out Queen and treating ourselves to lunch, treats and drinks in the sun afterwards. I celebrated my birthday at the end of August – my last year in my twenties! I went through a major life change in early September when my life wife moved 5,200 miles away to Los Angeles (though she is visiting for a few days in two weeks!). I moved in to my dream apartment, a bright, cosy studio in a beautiful, quiet but central area of Dublin. I’ve thrown myself into my career and am really enjoying my work. I returned to Napoli, Italy over my October mid-term break, so more on that later! I am counting down the days until I head home to Florida for Christmas.

SaveSave

My feelings one year ago

Being the extraordinarily nostalgic person that I am, I’ve been overwhelmed with the following thoughts lately. Exactly one year ago, I remember precisely how I was feeling. I worked my last day at my job 2 days ago, and now had 6 full days to complete final preparations for my first round the world trip. My anxiety was through the roof. The below post links to a post I wrote over one year ago – 3 weeks before I left on my trip. My feelings only intensified as the trip got closer. By this time, I had accepted that I made the right decision and excitement was starting to kick in but this doesn’t mean that my anxiety lessened. I was worried about my first major long haul flight (a flight longer than 9 hours) – only because I don’t sleep on planes so I was worried about how exhausted I would be. I was stressed about packing (carry on only! for the first time) because I hadn’t started yet. I was worried about getting Delhi belly and any other strange sicknesses on the road. I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get everything done and making sure I saw everyone before I left. I was wondering why I only gave myself one week and should I have quit my job sooner to give me more time? Above all, I was so very proud of myself for actually taking the leap to go on such an incredible trip. I was a “real” traveler now and it felt so good.

It’s mad for me to think that’s it’s already been a whole year since I was feeling a crazy amount of emotions at one time. If I could turn back time, I would love to do it all over again – and I wouldn’t change a thing. One year later and I am living in Ireland, a month and a half away from finishing my first year of my Master’s degree. Life is crazy and I love it.

How I was feeling 3 weeks before leaving for my RTW trip

2014

I tend to get extremely sentimental and nostalgic this time of year (who am I kidding, I am always nostalgic). My emotions are running higher than ever because I have never not wanted to say goodbye to a year as much as I don’t (do?) this year.

To put it simply, 2014 was a year of pure happiness for me. It was a year of living my dreams and I cannot imagine life getting better than it was all year for me. As amazing as it was, it’s also worrisome to think that 2014 could very well be the best year of my life. Am I capable of topping that? Can I possibly continue this happy streak? I sure hope so.

I visited 6 new countries and 3 new continents in 2014.

I started the year being very brave and quitting my job so I could travel the world. The amount of anxiety I had over this is impossible to explain. I literally had many sleepless nights due to having panic and anxiety attacks wondering if I was making the right decision. I sold my car (huge step for me for anyone who knows how much I loved my Lydia!!) and many possessions including my DSLR camera. On March 1st, I left Florida on an epic journey. I imagined going on a round the world trip would be absolutely incredible and life changing, but I never imagine it could be that incredible. I travelled 38,000 miles around the world in 4 months and saw sights I never thought I would see, ate some delicious food and met some truly incredible people. Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself.

I spent 6 months of this year without a phone and it was the most glorious 6 months of my life.

cowpic

New friend in Bundi, India

I imagined that I would have been very sad going back to Florida at the end of my trip, but I had no reason to be because I had the most exciting day of my life to look forward to. Of course, I was sad that my trip ended but not overly. I got to spend an amazing 6 weeks at home with my family and friends and for the first time in my life, got to see my hometown as a tourist. And it was glorious. I never had much of an appreciation for Florida until then. It’s beautiful and has a lot to offer and I now know that I love visiting, I just don’t want to live there long term. I spent this 6 weeks eating all of the amazing crap food that America has to offer. I don’t even want to know how much weight I gained, but I don’t care because it was worth it. I enjoyed every second of my 6 weeks at home, even though it was summer and I hate the heat. Before travelling to Thailand in April, I used to think Florida was the hottest and most humid place on earth in summer (specifically July and August). Boy was I wrong. Thailand in April is like living in a wet oven (?), only worse. This time around, Florida in July and August didn’t feel so bad compared to what I experienced in Thailand. My tolerance changed – something I never thought would happen.

I became an expat for the 2nd time.

On August 16th, I boarded a one-way flight to Dublin, something I had been dreaming of since early 2011, when I decided that I definitely wanted to settle in Ireland. Leading up to this day, my theme song for this day in my head was “Best Day of my Life” by American Authors. It was, in a way. There are no words to express my pure happiness and excitement over moving back to the one place on earth that feels like home to me; however, I was leaving a big, important part of my life behind: my family.

Donegal

Donegal, Ireland

I was reunited with old friends in Ireland and quickly made new friends. I signed a lease for my very first apartment. I registered for my Master’s program at my dream university and became a student again. I saw 3 of my favourite musicians in concert. I have a part-time job that I enjoy. I am so excited about my future career and (hopefully) my future in Ireland. Since I arrived, I have been really trying to not take any moment for granted. When I do something as simple as walk down the street, I smile at the sky or the cute coffee shop on the corner and constantly remind myself that I am here, this is my home and I am exactly where I want to be. How many people can say that?

My tolerance for the heat reverted back to its old ways. I now once again sweat when it reaches 65 F/18 C.

I successfully co-hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people (and was so happy to introduce my favourite holiday to 8 non-Americans). I spent Christmas in a country I’ve never spent Christmas in before (Scotland).

Christmas in Edinburgh

Christmas in Edinburgh

What do I have to look forward to in 2015 so far? My sister is flying to England in January to study abroad. My whole family will be together for 2 weeks in Ireland when they come visit me (I’ve never been so excited for anything in my life). I will hopefully be doing a road trip around Iceland in July.

My goals for 2015: I don’t want to sound cliché but I really do want to be healthier. I am going to hire a personal trainer and start an exercise regime again. This isn’t a New Year’s resolution, this is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile – just coincidental timing. After eating myself sick on Christmas, I’ve decided it’s time (even though I enjoyed every second of it). I want to buy a blender and start making smoothies/shakes again.

I aim to visit 3 new countries in 2015.

And lastly, I want to continue this happy streak. I want to continue to not take little moments for granted and I want to continue loving life. I want to write more letters and cards and use my phone less.

2014, thank you for the memories that are guaranteed to last my lifetime. Here’s to 2015!