Random Observations about Dublin

Hello my friend! While I’m still organizing my photos and notes from my mission from the universe, I thought I’d share some random observations I had while in Dublin.

Dublin is a city of activity. The hotel I stayed in for all but one night was along Merrion Road in the Booterstown section, which fronts the Dublin Bay. In the states we’d call it a beach, but in Ireland it is called a strand. Booterstown is about a 15-minute train ride away from the center of the city. Merrion Road is a main thoroughfare from the city to the suburbs along the sea, and boy, was it busy! It didn’t matter what time it was, there was constant traffic. Cars, double decker and regular busses, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians…you name it. I found it interesting that the busses (both regular and double decker) had to share the very narrow “bus” lane with people on bicycles. Bicycle after bicycle after bicycle, too! I’d guestimate that about 95% of the people on bicycles were wearing safety equipment, like helmets and brightly colored safety vests. If I had to select the best “lane maneuverers” though, it would definitely be a tie between the bus drivers and the bicycle peddlers. I was frightened just watching them from the hotel window!

I could see key locations on the James Joyce maps I plotted right from the hotel: Poolbeg Lighthouse, Sandymount Strand, and the Poolbeg Twin Stacks (power generation plant). The stacks didn’t exist during Joyce’s time or in his books, but the area did; it was one of the routes taken by his characters. The route today would lead you through this power station and dockland area, which isn’t the safest or prettiest, so I was glad I could check these off my list right from my hotel room.

Air conditioning is pretty much nonexistent in Ireland, and most homes and hotels do not have screens on the windows. Luckily, no buggies came into the room while the window was open. I got used to the sound of the traffic rather quickly, and it became a lullaby of sorts. By the end of my stay, when the noise stopped for a few minutes in the middle of the night, I would wake up.

The tide on Dublin Bay was fascinating. At low tide, I swear you could walk almost half a mile out onto the strand, then at high tide, the water would be slapping up against the sea wall. I wonder how many people have been stranded, no pun intended, due to the tide? Low tide meant a variety of sea birds would be scavenging for a quick meal, and there was a type of gull or tern there that looked just like the kind here, but it didn’t caw or cry. Rather, it screamed. And loud! The Booterstown Nature Reserve was across from the hotel about two blocks away, so there was no shortage of critters to observe. There were also very large pigeons, about twice the size of the ones who frequent my yard. Gargantuan pigeons.

I saw wild butterfly bushes, just like the one in my front yard, everywhere. Little bushes would be growing in the sidewalk cracks, in tree bark, and even in bricks and cement on buildings. My butterfly bush was an anniversary gift from my husband, and I know it was a bit pricey, yet here they are growing all over in Ireland. I believe they are even considered a nuisance species there. I didn’t see many butterflies though, only a few white ones here and there, and I did spot a red admiral in city center.

The sun rose right across the street along the bay, but I unfortunately slept through the one day that the sunrise wasn’t obscured by clouds. My friend was able to get some photos through the window, and was it beautiful.

The time change? Dublin is 5 hours ahead, and true to form, I got used to the change on the last day. I’m still adjusting to my normal after returning 5 days ago, but the good thing is that I’ve been waking up early, which is prepping my body for back to school.

One of the things that I found most striking was the overall calmness of the Dubliners. If things didn’t go their way, they went with the flow instead of getting angry or irritated. They didn’t make a scene or resort to posting their dismay immediately on social media. They just moved on.

Additionally, I noticed every day that parents were actually playing with their kids, instead of taking pictures of the kids, say, at the beach front or on the rides, and then sitting on their phones and posting those pictures to social media. Parents INTERACTED with their children, and I probably observed it so much because that’s not the norm that I’ve grown accustomed to seeing when out in public. Instead of seeing heads down in a phone, I saw smiles, laughter, joy, and memories being made versus shared. In general, PEOPLE INTERACTED WITH EACH OTHER: talking. laughing, walking, genuinely enjoying each other’s company, with no phone or technology out, for the most part. No posting of pictures, no checking for “likes,” none of that. Sure, when alone, a lot had earbuds in their ears, but when together, their company came before their devices.

I think we can learn alot from the Irish with such examples.

Some of my favorite things in Ireland?

IMG_9075Fanta. The EUROPEAN version, not the soda crap we have here in the USA thanks to the Coca-Cola company’s cheapness.  The orange Fanta in Ireland contains real orange juice and real sugar, mixed with carbonated water and NATURAL flavors. It is truly delightful, especially when cold. I have a bottle of both orange and lemon waiting for me in my refrigerator to enjoy before summer ends. Fanta was actually founded in Ireland, and I wish that their version was available in our stores.

Applegreen. Applegreen is a gas station/convenience store, and one was right next to the hotel. Pick the best parts about Wawa, Quick Chek, and a hometown little corner store, and that’s Applegreen. They had freshly made “tartlets” available every day, which was a cross between a little custard tart and pound cake and one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The lemon was my favorite, of course. So many different things, like yogurt in a glass container, all kinds of different candy, breads, and sandwiches…you get the idea.

IMG_9152Strawberry Rice. Made by Muller, Strawberry Rice was like rice pudding with the strawberry you’d find at the bottom of a yogurt. If anyone finds this around New Jersey, please let me know! It was divine!

Teddy’s Ice Cream. You can get an ice cream cone pretty much anywhere (even IMG_9246Applegreen), but the only flavor is vanilla. They keep it simple…vanilla only, instead of a thousand flavors with a thousand more toppings. Since I am a basic person, that was fine with me! The “99” version is where a piece of chocolate called a “flake” is put in the side of the cone. You can also get sprinkles, crushed oreo, or marshmallows to top your cone. My favorite brand was Teddy’s, which I enjoyed on the Dun Laoghaire pier and in Bray.

IMG_8976Irish breakfast. Specifically the mushrooms and the beans. Yes, that’s right. Beans. Batchelor beans are like baked beans but in a spaghetti-o type of tomato sauce. I could eat them as a meal. I just love them, which is strange because of my very finicky palate. I sure wish they’d grace the shelves here. I found them on Amazon, and there are 2 restaurants in the Jersey Shore area that serve them, but they are so much better in Ireland.

Let me finish with a funny misinterpretation. In Ireland, the bathrooms are simply called Toilets. When an office building is available for rent, the word that is used is “let,” not “rent.” As such, there were many signs around that read “TO LET,” and more often than not, I read “TOILET.” Some real nice buildings were toilets in my brain.

My goal is to share more from my trip with you soon, focusing on my maps/route, what I saw, and more. Have a splendid day my friend

Until next time,

Jill

 

The Story is Just Beginning…

“Eyes, pale as the sea the wind had freshened, paler, firm and prudent. The seas’ ruler, he gazed southward over the bay, empty save for the smokeplume of the mailboat, vague on the bright skyline, and a sail tacking by the Muglins.” – James Joyce, Ulysses (Episode 1 – Telemachus)

Wow. Just Wow.

I now understand the magnitude of the above quote from Ulysses, and so much more.

What an amazing experience I had while in Dublin!

I’m sitting here trying to absorb everything I saw, heard, felt, tasted, and learned, while contemplating what might come next along this journey.
I have so many photos and so many stories to share. However, the universe has other plans: somehow the charging port on my computer stopped working while I was away. Very weird, since I left my computer at home unplugged for the whole time I was gone, and nobody else used it. Anyway, my computer is at the local repair hospital. 

In the meantime, I am writing and posting from my phone for the time being.

One of the best parts of the week was having a poor wifi signal at the hotel. With an international phone plan that did not include data, I was forced to abandon technology. Which was GOOD. I filled my notebook with handwritten comments, thoughts, responses and more. Old school! And I think everything was more meaningful that way.

I am very grateful that my health cooperated for the most part while in Ireland.  I’m still adjusting to the time change back here at home and I’m having some issues today health wise; I’d much rather feel like this here versus while away.

So, what did I do? In a nutshell:

I lived as a Dubliner for a week. I walked in the footsteps left by James Joyce (and his characters), Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, and Seamus Heaney.

I walked up the steepest hill I ever climbed (which was a challenge) to see 5,000+ year old artwork left inside a cave. I completed a pilgrimage to the Hill of Tara and the Stone of Destiny. I saw medieval stone towers, stone Celtic crosses, and the decapitated head of Saint Oliver miraculously preserved in a bog.

I walked over the Samuel Beckett Bridge, saw the Famine Memorial, and went to a storytelling dinner at The Brazen Head Pub. 

I laughed a lot with my traveling companion as we journeyed through downtown Dublin and suburbs Sandycove, Dun Laoghaire, Howth, and Bray. 

Most of all, I abandoned my fear by fulfilling my mission from the universe while honoring the spirit of my treasured friend. I hope my eyes showed her everything she could have ever wanted to see with her own eyes.

My journey to Dublin might be over, but I think the real story is just beginning…

Here are some pictures from my phone to give you an idea of some of the things I saw and did while in Ireland. Trust me, more is definitely coming! Thank you for following!🙂

Buying lemon soap at Sweny’s Pharmacy, just like Leopold Bloom did in Ulysses
Statue of Molly Malone
the Oscar Wilde statue in Merrion Square Park
James Joyce statue on Talbot Street. Check out the gal on the right.
The actual door from 7 Eccles Street, Leopold Bloom’s address in Ulysses. The door is on display at the James Joyce Center.
Outside Trim Castle, with “Sir Gallahad.” Trim Castle was the castle in the Mel Gibsom movie Braveheart.
At the James Joyce Tower in Sandycove. This is where his book Ulysses begins.
Along the Irish Sea in Bray

“Mission from the Universe” Part 7: I Go!

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go!

It sounds like something my 2-year-old nephew or Ivan Drago from Rocky IV would say.

It is time.

Tomorrow evening I will be walking onto a United plane in New Jersey, and after about 7 hours or so, walking off in Dublin, Ireland.

I’m in awe that I had the courage to make this trip idea a reality. I’m actually doing it!

I am open.

I expect nothing.

I will be mindful and present and let life happen as it should.

I will treasure each footstep and everything I see.

I will watch the sun rise and set in a new land.

As suggested by John Keating in Dead Poets Society, I am doing something I consider extraordinary.

Most importantly,

I seize the day.

Thank you for reading, for listening, and for supporting my journey. I am immensely grateful for the loving support of my husband, family, and friends who have had to listen to be jabber on for months now about my mission from the universe. Most of all, a huge thank you to my travel partner in crime, my dear friend for over 20 years now, who is accompanying me on this adventure.

As I will be focusing on LIFE and LIVING while in Dublin, I do not plan to post here on SoulSEAker until I return. I will most likely post a few photographs to my Facebook and Instagram pages only, depending on access to technology. If you are interested, please follow me there for updates (links below).

The time is here.

Let’s do this! 

Jill

SoulSEAker Instagram

SoulSEAker Facebook Page

Personal Instagram

 

“Mission from the Universe” Part 6: Who am I?

20160812 3 Days Blog Photo New Fonts

(Click HERE to read Part 1Click HERE to read Part 2 – Click HERE to read Part 3 – Click HERE to read Part 4 – Click HERE to read Part 5)

Today is August 13, 2016.

Who am I today?

I Am…

  • Kind
  • Honest
  • Open
  • Worthy
  • A Wife
  • A Sister
  • A Daughter
  • An Auntie
  • A Godmother
  • A Writer
  • A Teacher
  • A Student
  • A Friend
  • A Dreamer
  • A Traveler
  • One of a Kind

I am a lover of blue, sunrises, butterflies, summer, the sea.

I help when I can and find a lesson in every day.

I value honesty and kindness.

I am excited about opportunity, concerned about my health, enthusiastic about living.

I need laughter, waves, and words.

I give compassion, respect, encouragement, and support.

I fear lost time and Kingda Ka (the rollercoaster).

I would like to see a world filled with humanity instead of acrimony.

I live to live and dream to make my life come alive.

I believe in filling my soul with joy and my heart with love.

 

Stay tuned the final installment, Part 7: I Go!, tomorrow.

“Mission from the Universe” Part 5: Walking the Path

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Bewley’s Oriental Cafe – I will be eating lunch on what is known as the “James Joyce Balcony” at some point.

(Click HERE to read Part 1Click HERE to read Part 2 – Click HERE to read Part 3 – Click HERE to read Part 4)

It’s only 3 days away now.

When they hear about my trip to Dublin, most people immediately ask, “What are you going to do when you are there?”

To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure.

I’m open to all possibilities, especially to seeing things in a new way, but one thing I must do is walk the path.

I plan to explore by walking in the footsteps left by James Joyce and his characters Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom. I’ve created 4 maps of different areas of Dublin that contain sights that Joyce, Dedalus, and Bloom saw. The important sights are “must-sees”, such as Trinity College, the James Joyce tower, Dalkey, and Grafton Street, to name a few. There are a lot of pins on my maps, and I will do my best to see as much as I can.

I will appreciate everything I see with a new outlook and with a new awareness.

I will be present for each moment, for each minute, for each second.

I will look at the details and take in the colors and the visions for both SHE and for me.

SHE cannot see these sights, so my eyes will be her eyes. I will be her light.

While my own eyes will be looking out, they will also be looking in, looking inward, as I learn more about ME.

I will be my light.

The only set reservations my traveling companion and I have are dinner at The Brazen Head and a day trip to the Boyne Valley to see ruins and the like.

Everything else will happen as it unfolds.

Trust me when I say there are some locations I plan on seeing that have a huge significance.

I will see what the universe needs me to see, and learn from the universe what I need to learn.

When in Ireland in 2014, I had the distinct feeling that I had been there before. I felt comfortable and at home. In a way, it kind of feels like I am going home again, but this time, I am open to Dublin letting me experience all that I can, and all that it wants me to experience.

I’ll be honest. I’m a bit concerned about my health since I am not feeling as good as I had hoped. Even though I’ve been able to rest and have had 85% less stress in my life living as “Summer Jill,” I’m still very fatigued and in moderate pain most of the time (legs, back, hips, head). My energy drains very quickly, and even simple tasks wipe me out.

It’s very frustrating, wanting to experience life but being held back by my health. I will definitely listen to what my body needs and wants, and put my health and wellbeing first. I will plug along the best I can.

The one thing that I know?

Without a concrete reason, without a set itinerary for each day, and without fear, I HAVE TO DO THIS.

I have to go to Dublin.

I’m excited to meet ME.

Stay tuned for Part 6: Who Am I? tomorrow.

UPDATE:

For the doubters of the signs, here’s one that literally just happened. The video below appeared randomly at the top of my news feed, having been shared several times then shared by someone I follow. It is an animated introduction to James Joyce and his literary works. Parts of it describe exactly what I have written about my “Mission from the Universe.” Check it out to learn more about James Joyce, his works, his life, and even yourself.🙂

“Mission from the Universe” Part 4: The Web of Connections

20160810 4 Days Blog Photo New Fonts(Click HERE to read Part 1Click HERE to read Part 2 – Click HERE to read Part 3)

I’ve been aware of these so-called signs for about 10 months or so. It kills me thinking about all of the signs I might have missed before I figured out what was going on, but alas, that’s doing the very thing I vowed to STOP doing, which is looking at the past.

Move on, Jill. Move on.

The signs or clues come in a variety of forms and through a variety of means, including through the words of others, through technology by emails and posts, through song lyrics and recurring songs that “randomly” are played, and through books and articles, to name a few.

Some of the signs have actually been physical, tangible items. Those are the ones with the strongest punch, the ones that fill me with chills and awe and joy.

One such example is a post I wrote last month, where GALICIA, a region I had never heard of before, popped up twice in one day from two completely separate sources. You can read that post here.

Now, did SHE actually send me that connection or that word?

Probably not.

Can I connect her to that line on my web somehow?

Yes I can.

Because I am headed to Dublin, I began researching my family history to see if we have an Irish connection. Through that research, I unearthed the region of GALICIA on my family tree, as well as read about it in a book given to me by a former student from where SHE was my colleague. Roundabout yes, but without this trip, I probably wouldn’t have even thought to take a look at my heritage.

It’s like a massive 6 Degrees of Separation thing.

I’m still hoping to find an Irish connection in my heritage before the trip, but if I don’t, no worries. Perhaps that story I was told about one of my great-grandfathers coming from Ireland wasn’t accurate. With the way my luck goes, I’ll find a connection on the first day I return.😉  And if that happens, that’s the way the universe wants it to happen. I’m okay with it.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the terms on my Web of Connections that I’ve been led to over the past year. While I am comfortable sharing these terms, I am not open to discussing possible meanings at this time, as this is very personal. I have an idea about what some might be referring to or where some might be leading, but I need to figure everything out on my own.  I kindly request that you refrain from providing any insight, comments, interpretations, or opinions about what you think something might mean or symbolize. The time will come when I will ask for opinions and the like (believe me, I’m looking forward to it!).

Now is not that time. Thank you very much for your understanding.

  • Ireland/Dublin (of course)
  • James Joyce

    FullSizeRender
    My Web of Connections, intentionally blurred to protect confidentiality
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Midnight
  • Light
  • Dark
  • Open
  • Serve
  • Galicia/Austria/Poland/Russia
  • Malcolm Gladwell
  • Dig/Digging
  • Write/Writing
  • Soul
  • Me/We
  • Treasure
  • Signs
  • Sun/Sunlight
  • Sky
  • Green
  • Pilgrimage
  • Paulo Coelho
  • Triskelion symbol
  • Terms from the past that have made an appearance include ships and ghost story.

Stay tuned for Part 5: Walking the Path tomorrow.

“Mission from the Universe” Part 3: Be Open

201608089 5 Days Blog Photo New Fonts(Click HERE to read Part 1Click HERE to read Part 2)

So, what am I supposed to do with my life?

That is a question I’ve been asking myself since I was a teenager.

I get increasingly frustrated by the answer that comes immediately to mind:

I DON’T KNOW.

Mr. Hand calling out Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High for his tardiness is funny: “’Mr. Hand, will I pass this class?’ Gee, Mr. Spicoli, I don’t know!”

I know you want to watch that scene right now, so click here to watch it on YouTube.

Like I said, Mr. Hand is funny.

My soul and my being not knowing what my purpose is for so long?

Not so much.

Throughout every stage of my life, while I might not have had a gut instinct as to what my purpose was, I’ve at least had goals or an outline of what I wanted to accomplish. I adapted to change, made the best of bad situations, and learned as I went along.

I’ve been successful in my careers, both present and past.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had, the skills I have mastered, the knowledge I have learned, and the lessons I have been taught by pretty much everyone who has been a part of my journey so far.

Despite all of that, I still feel that there’s something more I should be doing.

So the question remains:

What am I supposed to do with my life?

This feeling of floundering was evident in my word for 2015: DIRECTION.

Yes, I did find some direction. The fact that you are reading this is proof of that, as SoulSEAker was created to help me find my way.

This year, I chose the word DETERMINED as my word of the year. As all good little bloggers and writers do in this age of Zen, Mindfulness, and Intent, I penned a list of 6 personal goals I hoped, rather I was DETERMINED to accomplish.

Afterwards, I really thought about each one of those goals, and this is the first time I am admitting this:

I was full of shit.

Coming up with strategies and lists and doing things I don’t enjoy, just to say I accomplished what I set out to do, is asinine and a complete waste of my time.

Let alone I already have difficulty with daily responsibilities and tasks because of my health, now I was devising goals I didn’t believe in to take up more of that time I spoke of yesterday, time that I vow not to waste anymore?

What the hell was wrong with me?

I guess that since I’ve always had goals and outlines, I thought I HAD to have them.

Then it hit me.

With a rigid goal or plan, I am not open to new ideas or new avenues of discovery, which might lead me to what my purpose truly is. I’m just checking off boxes on a list, and the reward is that I can say I was, in fact, DETERMINED. I can then buy myself a trophy and take myself out to a celebratory meal at Roy Rogers. Big deal.

I’m not promoting irresponsibility at all here, and I in no way mean to belittle the importance of being determined. I’m not knocking mindfulness or intentions, either, as I believe in both. Sometimes true experiences are concealed by buzzwords and media chatter.

Rather, for the first time in my life, I saw the importance of just letting things happen as they do.

I abandoned my strategies and checklists, and became OPEN to what the year will bring me instead.

Once I did, life became less stressful and so much more enjoyable.

OPEN. The perfect word for me.

Then something happened.

I noticed the first “sign,” so to speak, shortly after declaring OPEN to be my new word.

Then the next appeared.

Then another.

The forces of the universe, in definite cahoots with SHE, are having a lot of fun at my expense, and I’m absolutely loving every minute of it.

It’s like a trail of breadcrumbs, one after another, and I’m the bird eating each crumb with excitement.

Some signs point in one direction, some in another. Some are obvious, while others are hidden. The meanings and connections are both easy and hard to decipher at the same time.

There’s a new sign every day, sometimes five or more. I’m open to seeing them, to finding them, to adding each to my web of connections.

And man, for someone who always hated puzzles and guessing games, it’s been ex-hil-ar-ating!!!!

Being OPEN is helping me to further find my DIRECTION. Not a plan, not a goal…just being OPEN.

I still don’t know what the purpose of my life is, and I don’t know why I am going to Dublin.

But for the first time in my life, I’m okay with I DON’T KNOW. Ironically, not knowing has brought joy to my soul and to my heart.

I think Mr. Hand would appreciate that. I know Spicoli would.

Stay tuned for Part 4: The Web of Connections tomorrow.

“Mission from the Universe” Part 2: SHE and ME

“Mission from the Universe” Part 2: SHE and ME

(If you missed Part 1, please click here to read.)

SHE loved James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, and other British and Irish authors. SHE was of Irish heritage, but SHE never got to visit her homeland, the place she loved, the place she hoped to see with her own eyes and walk with her own feet.

While on the streets of Dublin in 2014, I swear I saw her at least three times in the crowd. I recognized her hair, her smile, and her eyes immediately. She was happy and at peace. Those 3 sightings are as clear in my brain as what I just looked at a second ago.

SHE and I were colleagues for 14 years and spent a lot of time together from September through June. We’d share duty periods, lunch periods, meetings, activities, and prep periods together as much as our schedules would allow.

Whenever she’d see me, she’d say, “Hey, you.”

I can still hear her voice say those two words, and I probably will for the rest of my life.

Outside of our work hours and months, we texted here and there and saw each other for lunch usually once a summer. We weren’t best friends by any means, but we confided in and supported each other no matter what. A treasured friend. That’s how I think of her.

As I wrote yesterday, I lost my father-in-law four months after SHE was gone, then was hit with another punch to my soul when my own father died from a massive stroke in his sleep 8 months later.

For the most part, it was a real shitty time for me from December 2013 through early 2015.

The upside since?

I am more aware of LIFE and what the term “living” actually means.

I want to LIVE MY LIFE, which is, unfortunately, a life negatively affected by a very active Lupus flare since last year. My health limitations amplify the importance of “living” as much as possible every minute of every day.

And man, do I cherish the good days and moments.

I am no longer a lackey. Instead, I confidently and unwaveringly say NO when my life, my health, my peace of mind, or my well-being will be negatively affected, nor do I allow the precious time I have left here on Earth to be pilfered away by someone else’s agenda, to do list, or so-called “emergency.”

Yep, there SHE is, that spit-fire, coming out through my words! Loving it!

For some reason, SHE has definitely been more in my life since her passing than when she physically walked on Earth, which has been pretty freaking awesome.

Our connection is stronger now than ever. It took me a while to believe it too, so I don’t begrudge you for thinking that I might be a little nutty or if you doubt that this is all part of a bigger thing going on.

But it is. It’s much bigger than me.

I’m following my heart and listening to the universe. SHE’s playing a very active hand with the universe, and at times, she is holding the winning card.

It’s definitely more than so-called “coincidences.”

Things that happened in my past, and I mean like 20 years ago past are now making sense through the massive web of signs and connections SHE has, in part, guided me to over the past year and a half.

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The James Joyce Tower near Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland

SHE is giving me confidence and the gumption to say YES to life on my terms.

SHE is helping me find my voice.

And in 6 days, SHE will have succeeded in her long campaign of getting me to return to Dublin.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Be Open tomorrow.

“Mission from the Universe” Part 1: The Ides of 2014

20160807 Y Days Blog Photo New FontsI’ve been alluding to my upcoming adventure, which I have dubbed my “Mission from the Universe,” for some time now in random SoulSEAker posts.

Now the real countdown has begun. As my mission will commence in 7 days, I am ready to share parts of my story with you.

PART 1: The Ides of 2014. I was originally supposed to visit Ireland, Wales, and England with fellow teachers and students in April of 2014, but it was not meant to be. My father-in-law unexpectedly passed away the day before I was supposed to leave, and instead of kissing the Blarney Stone during Spring Break, I kissed Poppy goodbye for the last time.

Losing him was just surreal, like every death we all have dealt with I’m sure, but this was POPPY. He was the glue that held us all together, and we were all left shattered, heartbroken, and lost. A few times I just collapsed on my living room floor and lay there, in the fetal position and in solitude, sobbing uncontrollably.

Personally, I was also extremely angry, which at the time was misunderstood as selfishness.

That was the furthest from the truth: It wasn’t because I couldn’t go on the trip. Rather, I was angry that we were all robbed of Poppy and his presence in our lives.

I was still reeling in silence at losing a treasured friend and colleague (who I will call SHE for now) four months prior. I kept that grief bottled up inside ever since I received that fateful phone call from my friend D over winter break. Now here I was again, confronted with another huge and unexpected loss over a break, and I was pissed beyond belief.

I mean I literally saw red a few times. Literally.

I wanted to hit, punch, kick, and scream, and I did up at the beach three times. I am sure I looked like a raving lunatic yelling at the waves and the sand as I acted out like a two-year-old, but man, I had to in order to release the anger from my system. Looking back now, I think that was the angriest I have ever been in my life.

When my nephew, who was 8 at the time, heard the news of Poppy’s passing, he cried, “Things are going to be so different now.”

He was right.

It is true that “This Too Shall Pass,” and as each tomorrow became today, things subtlely returned to as normal as life would be, albeit with that sparkle in Poppy’s eye missing, his compassion and kindness now absent.

I was able to get a refund for my missed trip (sidebar: always spend the extra to get the trip insurance).  As luck would have it, my mother and a longtime friend both agreed to accompany me in July/August on a similar trip to Ireland, Wales, and England. We left on July 26 and returned on August 3, 2014. Throughout the week, we visited Dublin, Killarney, Waterford, Cardiff, Stonehenge, Bath, and London.

It’s now two years later, and I am headed to Ireland again a week from today with the same longtime friend.

This time, we will only be staying in Dublin. That’s by design.

Those who really know me know I am a creature of habit, and hearing that I am returning to Ireland next week might not be a surprise.

Others have asked why I would spend money and time to see someplace I already visited.

The reason?

It’s my mission from the universe, and I must go.

Stay tuned for Part 2: SHE and ME tomorrow.

And, yes. The term Mission from the Universe was inspired by Jake and Elwood Blues. I certainly won’t be causing as much damage as they did…or will I?😉