Ireland Review


When I think of Ireland, I remember it both in snapshots of moments in time and in fluidity of the senses.  I remember an exhaustion that seemed to permeate by body all the way to the bone.  Perhaps because we left on election night, perhaps because of the overnight plane ride and 3 hour bus ride, perhaps because the sun set by 4:30 each night.  I remember the bus ride through Connemara and feeling like I might explode if I were able to adequately take in all the sights before me.  Hills and sheep and a double rainbow and famine walls and loughs and stories of killer sheep and mussel farming and sheep dog training.  Driving through these rural and isolated villages, I began to feel as if one day, I too could live a simpler life.  I learned how peat is collected and dried for home fires and I gradually began to appreciate the smokey smell that permeated my clothes and nostrils and all of the night air as we walked through Salthill on our final journey home each night.  Like the damp, you can never quite shake it. 

I wish we had slowed down a bit.  It was lovely, but rushed, as so many trips are.

Dublin --> Galway --> Connemara --> Galway --> County Clare --> Galway --> Dublin

I want more time.  Time to stroll along the Salthill Promenade.  To sit on Quay Street, drinking a Coffee Werk + Press latte.  Eating woodfired pizza and delicate cakes from Kai.  Listening to music with a Guinness.  Savoring a cup of tea.  Soaking in the people and bars and parks and gardens and sitting with pen to paper and pouring it all back out.

It was such a quickly planned trip during such a personally and globally wretched time, that I don’t know if it lifted me up or wore me more down.  But I suppose that since I can look back and remember fondly the natural and architectural sights, the timber of Irish voices, the taste of black tea, the feel of rain and salt air and wool socks, the smell of peat, that it was the right decision after all. 


Congrats!  You made it all the way!  This country was so beautiful that I couldn't decide on fewer photos.  These encompass Galway, Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, the Burren, and Cliffs of Moher.

Weekly Dose of Gratitude and Joy

Don't Hesitate

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don't hesitate.  Give into it.  There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.  We are not wise, and not very often kind.  And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left.  Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.  It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.  Anyway, that's often the case.  Anyway, whatever it is, don't be afraid of its plenty.  Joy is not made to be a crumb. -Mary Oliver

My week, in general, was pretty fucking craptastic.  Depression, like the Swamp of Sadness, came creeping in with a vengeance this week, causing me to break down sobbing (not just in tears, but the ugly, nearly hiccuping sobbing) more than once and for more than one seemingly trivial reason.  I'm not ready to share all the details here, but it hasn't been fun.

Despite that, there were moments, like Mary Oliver said, when I experienced "sudden and unexpected joy."  I'm trying to focus on those.


1.  Phone calls with my besties.  I fell out of touch with most of my community the second half of last year, those far away and those close by.  This week I had calls from two of my best friends from Pittsburgh, and the instant I saw the name on the caller I.D. I reverted into my joyful, giggling, girly self.  I love these girls so hard.  They know me and they get me.  We grew up together out at the barn, riding, nerding, later teaching.  I was in Niki's wedding and Jessie was in mine.  Any time I'm with either of them, I feel little parts of my soul start to fill back in.

2.  Let Your Life Speak / We are imperfectly gifted.  When I was in Albuquerque last weekend I had a conversation with Greg, one of my brothers and fellow board members, about my struggle to find my next path in life, after realizing several months ago that I'm not in the right place (mentally, physically, spiritually, vocationally...).  It began over Brene Brown's "The Gifts of Imperfection" that I'm currently reading, after which Greg mentioned Parker J Palmer, the speaker, writer, teacher and activist, whom I had not yet heard of.  When I got home Monday night, his book "Let Your Life Speak" was waiting for me, a perfectly timed gift from Greg.  If that wasn't enough, the following day I found a sermon online given by Greg, a Unitarian minister, from this past summer delving into Brown's "Gifts of Imperfection."  Synchronicity at work indeed.

3.  Camera Lens.  I'm following my creative curiosity (thanks Liz Gilbert!) and pursuing a life-long love of photography.  I'm taking some classes and lectures and taking my camera everywhere I go.  It's already led to some interesting conversations - an ESPN photographer I met along the river in Austin, my massage therapist who was a former product photographer of 25 years.  This week I bought a wide aperture lens and was giddier than a kid on Christmas morning when tried it out and I realized that I can take low light, active, indoor photos with no flash!  It felt like the best $200 I have spent.  Can't freaking wait to start using it!

4.  Running across a field with a dog.

5.  Email from a grateful student for quickly helping them out.

6.  James Corden's Carride Karaoke with Chris Martin of Coldplay.  Don't ask, just do yourself a favor and watch.

Stream Restoration

I've been lucky enough to be asked to do the photography for my new-ish company, capturing construction, new techniques and post-restoration over time.  It's a great opportunity for me to get out and hone my own techniques and have my photos used for more than just taking up space on my own harddrive or publishing here for kicks and giggles.  Here are a couple from a site we completed this past summer. Rigdon05 Rigdon04