Monthly Archives: September 2011

Trepidation…..

New beginnings are always difficult for me…. Outwardly I can appear to be a gregarious social person who can be the life and soul of parties and gatherings, but inside there is an extremely shy person who hates the limelight. I pretend a lot and I can fake it with aplomb although not many people know this. At parties I can shine and chat- while all the time I am wondering if people will see through me and realise that I am completely phony.

I am quiet when I am first introduced to new people and it takes me a while to settle. When I do, I struggle to join conversations and to eventually get to the stage where I can add my opinion or thoughts to whatever is being discussed. I get to know people by listening to them, and as I discover their personalities and gifts, their very human vulnerabilities and frailties, I realise that I am not too different from most. Everyone has their own way of disguising who they are and we can all wear masks at different times.

I am embarking on a new stage in my life and I will face many difficulties in the near future including meeting new people in new environments. I am hoping that the mask I usually wear will not be slipped on automatically as I attempt to navigate this new landscape. I have used humour in the past as a shield to hide behind as I battle through uncomfortable new beginnings and I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be able to be myself.

I want people to see the real me- not the pretend funny fat girl who is the life and soul of parties. It’s too hard to keep that mask in place, and for the first time in my life I simply just want to be me.

Hello world… I’m coming at you.

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Monkey on my back……

Having left formal State education at the tender age of fifteen, (rebelling against strict parental rules) I was thrust into the labour market at a very young age with limited skills and a whole lot of attitude. I survived, and with various bumps, joys, and disappointments along the way I clawed my path through life. I married my husband when I was twenty and he was twenty four. We were in love with life and each other, and I truly believed that we were invincible. We both had jobs and we bought our first house together shortly before we were married.

I continued working full time during those first few years but we wanted to start a family and our son was born when I was twenty three and our daughter arrived when I was twenty six. I quit working outside my home for a few years to concentrate on rearing my children.

I loved being a parent but often wondered if life had more to offer me. As the kids grew older I began to see gaps in my education and at times it was difficult to address homework issues with them. I always figured that I wasn’t stupid, but lacking formal state examination certification because I was an early school leaver, I believed that I was somehow worthless in comparison to my smart and clever children. This was the monkey on my back and I didn’t like him.

As time went on I enrolled in day classes and night schools. I participated in various courses in many disciplines and I slowly began to build up accredited learning. It sometimes felt like a never ending quest , and that old monkey was always present. In time when my children were teenagers I returned to full time employment and although I was better equipped skills wise, I still lacked that all important state educational certificate. This was a major factor that contributed to stagnant opportunities and cul de sac promotional prospects.

In conversations about qualifications, people always began with the the question” What grades did you achieve in your Leaving Certificate” (which is the final State examination at 2nd level before embarking onto 3rd level at University). I felt so ashamed so often admitting that I never completed that stage having voluntarily left school early. My mistake. My Monkey.

I continued reading and learning during the years that my children became young adults, and despite the fact that I had well paid jobs during this time and was happy in some of them, that monkey was still lurking.

When my children finally finished college and were on their own chosen career paths, I often considered the advice that I had given them over the years. I thought about the importance of education, and about how their father and I had supported them emotionally and financially, and paid for extra curriculum help when it was needed. Education gives you power and I wanted that for my children. I had never compromised on it. I took a long hard look at my own life and wondered why was it that I placed such importance on their education, but didn’t rate my own. Was it too late for me, and had I missed the boat?

Destiny has a funny old way of working.

On New Years Eve in 2008 I met a neighbor at a party who had a few drinks and was feeling happy and full of enthusiasm for her New Years resolutions. When we started chatting, she told me that I had inspired her to look beyond her then boring job, and to reach out and do what she had always wanted- which was to be a teacher. She told me that I was the most positive person that she had ever met, and that because of me she was currently a mature student in a University getting her teaching degree and that she was on her own personal path to fulfillment.

Her conversation staggered me. I had no idea that my simple encouraging words to her at a previous party had led her to take such a huge step, and I left that night feeling bewildered and flummoxed by her apparent sincere feelings of gratitude. I came home and reflected on what had happened and realised that I was so busy encouraging other people to find their own destiny that I had completely relegated my own.

Before I went to bed on that fateful night -Jan 1st 2009- I had applied online to Maynooth University as a mature student for a Double Honor Arts Degree in English Literature- Sociology and Anthropology.

I have that wonderful woman to thank today as this is the eve of my Graduation. Without her kind words I would never have had the courage to leave full time employment to take up the College place that I was subsequently offered. She told me that I inspired her, but she actually inspired me to act, to take a chance and to grasp life. I have had a wonderful three years in a University where I have had the education that I had previously only dreamed about. My world has expanded beyond belief because of this experience, and I am so happy to say that finally, that monkey is off my back. Goodbye- I won’t miss you.

Destiny feels a little closer tonight.

Letting go and saying goodbye.

We say good bye to people all the time. Every time we leave our home we call out good bye to who ever has been left behind. We say goodbye to people that work in shops that serve us as we leave, and in turn people say goodbye to us as they depart from our presence and the space that we have occupied together. Saying good bye is usually said with the unconscious belief that we will see that person again. It’s the greatest presumption that we will-and we continue to believe that nothing terrible will happen to either of us in the meantime, and that we will get to see each other again soon. That’s the way we go through life. We expect to live indefinitely and when death comes to call unexpectedly and cruelly there is often no time to say good bye.

My darling younger sister died shockingly 2 years ago, 9 days after giving birth to twin boys. Her death was as a result of an undisclosed aneurism that ruptured between the central lobes of her brain. The medical staff in the emergency Dept that she was rushed to after she was found at home collapsed and unconscious, could not stem the bleed and she remained on life support for two days until we- her family took the decision to turn it off. We said our good bye’s that moment and over the blur of the next few days before she was eventually cremated.

Tonight while tidying out a press I came across an old mobile phone. I had changed my phone to a smart one shortly after her death and must have put this one away. I charged it up to see what was on it – and shockingly and unexpectedly there was my beautiful sister. All our texts to each other prior to her delivering her babies- reports from the hospital gagging over the unsavory food- the thrill of coming back home with her new boys to greet her 5 year old (whom she adored and called her “Prince”) and settling in back home with her 3 beloved children and husband. This time was short lived and 3 days later her aneurism ruptured.

Finding all those sweet messages that we shared before, during, and after her hospital stay really made her come alive for me briefly tonight. The texts from her friends and family were all still there too, and although it was heartbreaking to read them, it also allowed me to reflect and recall that terrible time and to say goodbye privately to her from my heart. We were very close and I loved her so. Her love for me was evident in those messages too and I am glad that I had the opportunity to read them again. I know I must have read them when she died, but I was crazy with grief and don’t remember doing so.

My dear and much loved sister may be gone from this world- but her beauty lives on in her children and her kindness lives on in the many people who were the beneficiaries of her generosity. Goodbye to a wonderful sister, friend, companion and confident….. I miss her every day, and although life continues it does so in a different way. I believe implicitly that she is part of my ultimate destiny, and I too held onto that simple assumption that we would see each other again and that we would share the joys of watching her children grow. I was wrong.

Chandeliers….

There is something beautiful about Chandeliers…

It’s about the cut of the glass and the way that they reflect the light that is center to their existence. The prisms of light that shoot out of a chandelier when lit from from a particular angle is something that I never get tired of looking at. Rainbow colors dancing across the ceiling and bouncing off every surface allow for the merriest of daydreams, and every time I am faced by a beautiful cut glass chandelier I am enchanted by the colors that are produced by the light or sunshine pouring through it.

Simple pleasures like this are part and parcel of looking for beauty in the inanimate objects that surround us. Not that I have the opportunity to gaze upon a chandelier every day, but when I do I really appreciate it’s beauty and the work that it took to create it.

We can all be chandeliers if we want to be, shining brightly and letting our colors show.