Thursday, April 16, 2015

2015 Challenge Year: March Recap

In February I was so busy that I didn't have much time to be sad and spend all day missing Fionn. I was lonely, but my challenges were coming along and I had something to do pretty much every day. However, my paralegal class finished the first week of March, along with guitar, Spanish and harp, and suddenly I had oceans of free time again. I was lonely, alone, and bored.

I went back to that inspiring question-if my only reason for being in Texas is Fionn, and he's not here, then what would I like to be doing instead?

The answer was easy-I'd like to be with people who love me rather than an empty apartment!

So off I flew back home to Georgia just in time for St. Paddy's day. I did some singing with my old band, did all the Irish stuff I love to do, saw tons of old friends and my lovely family, and had a grand old time. 

And I drank gallons of sweet tea!

After spending some time with everyone back home, I started thinking about a European leg of the tour. Tickets from the East Coast to Europe are pretty cheap in March since it's the off season, so it was an easy choice. 

Spending time at home was so rejuvenating. Just being in a familiar place, with some of the most important people in my life-it made me feel grounded. It was nice to not feel like an outsider. Nice to be recognized on the street. Nice to have people who really know you that you just fall back into easy familiarity with. Nice to have trees and green and water!

It was a great month. Next up, the European leg begins with Ireland!

March Challenge List
(in addition to February's challenges and the official 2015 Challenge List)

-Drink more water
-Spend time with my friends from home, especially the ones who always welcome me back like no time has passed no matter where I end up roaming
-Work on my stage presence and getting over my stage nerves!
-Admit that sometimes I let stress get the best of me
-STOP procrastinating!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

2015 Challenge Year: February Recap

Last week while I was in Ireland, I met a really nice older gentleman who was taking Irish classes with me. Our last night with the group we got to talking and I mentioned that my life was kind of crazy right now-a lot of change, a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of questions about the future as Fionn and I discuss job changes and what to do next.

"Let me give you some advice someone gave me a long time ago. When I was deciding whether or not to leave my good job to try something I was very interested in, I remember asking an accomplished colleague of mine who also happened to be a single mother. She told me, 'You're worrying too much! If this plan doesn't work, then you'll just do something else. And eventually you find something that works.'"

At first it sounded too simple to me, but that night as I was going to bed I couldn't stop thinking about it, and it struck me that they were right. Sometimes we worry so much about making the right decision, as if there was only one and if we don't pick that one exactly then we're doomed to failure and misery. But one thing I've really learned in the past few months is that you've got to get started somewhere.

2014 really threw me for a loop. When we left Germany I was so happy-I had friends, I had a fun routine, and even though my job situation was miles away from what I envisioned in college, I felt so fulfilled and meaningful in the work I was doing. I was making a difference, and I could feel it.

When we moved back to the States, everything felt very temporary. Getting a job was tricky since we were moving to an unknown location within six months. I was offered a dream job in Georgia and had to turn it down when we got news we were headed to Texas. We moved to Texas, every job I applied for wanted a Spanish speaker, I had no friends and my family was 1800 miles away.

And then Fionn found out he'd be gone for most of 2015.

When my birthday rolled around in December, I felt like I had wasted a year of my life. I'd spent all year being stagnant. I felt unhealthy, physically and mentally. The thought of spending 2015 in a similar way, with long months of solitude in an unfamiliar town sent me into a panic. How was I going to survive this?

I changed a lot of strings in February!

Thankfully, lots of my friends and family encouraged me to see our separation as an opportunity to do the things I normally couldn't. After Fionn left I had oceans of free time, so I packed my schedule with Spanish, guitar, and harp lessons multiple times a week. When Lent rolled around I swore off Facebook and brain junk food like gossip magazines, bad TV, trash music, and internet clickbait, resolving to use the time to read, sing or practice instruments, do my paralegal homework, read a devotional or a bit of the Bible, or practice my languages. 

Not going to lie, it was hard at times. It's so much easier to read Buzzfeed or listen to garbage TV than it is to figure out the fingerings on a tricky harp tune or struggle through Spanish verbs. But I could see the difference in my attitude and I felt better about myself.

In addition to working on the inside, I resolved to get more active. I'm as lazy as they come, so I knew I had to start small-taking a walk or doing a little yoga three times a week for 30 minutes. I liked how it made me feel, and pretty soon I was happy to spend an hour walking, alone with my thoughts and some good tunes.

The cool thing about starting a Challenge Year is that as you keep going, you find yourself making more and more challenges. After you change a few things you start to think, "Why am I making excuses for that bad habit and not this one?"

I visited my brother in Arizona and saw the Grand Canyon, which was a nice break from a quiet Texas apartment. I also took a makeup class and finally spent some money on decent makeup brushes (totally worth it).

Two of my biggest personal challenges for February were to stop being so negative about Texas and to stop procrastinating. While the procrastination one was a bit of a toss up, but the time March rolled around I did find myself thinking about things I liked about our new Texas town. Maybe not love, but I'm making progress!

February Challenge List:
(the challenge list is kind of a rolling thing, but this is what I focused on specifically this month)

-Do something active 3x a week for 30 minutes
-Harp lesson 2x a week
-Spanish class 2x a week
-Guitar once a week, work on playing a song
-Finish paralegal certificate (done!)
-Brain junk food detox
-More creative stuff, less screen time
-Visit Grand Canyon like you've always wanted to
-Learn how to do your makeup well
-Cut down on the negativity
-Stop procrastinating
-Read more books

Next up, March recap!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Back to Europe (100 Day Update)

Hello from a train in Ireland! Can I get a round of applause for Irish trains and their free wifi? By far the best train experience I've ever had.

That's right...I'm back to my old nomad ways while Fionn is gone. After a quick jaunt home to the East Coast to see friends and family and enjoy a Savannah St. Patrick's Day, I hopped a flight to Ireland to spend a week taking Irish classes in a tiny town on the coast of Donegal. 

As a language nerd and a lover of all things Irish, learning Irish Gaelic has always been a dream of mine. Since 2015 is my own personal Challenge Year, I bought the tickets, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best-and it was easily one of the best decisions I've ever made (photo heavy blog post to come).

Besides a week of intense Irish lessons in the middle of nowhere, I've also been visiting friends in Dublin and Galway and spending time with brand new friends (gotta love hostel common rooms). I'm a little over 100 days into the year and already I'm happy to report I'm seeing positive changes in myself. My Spanish and Irish skills are improving, I'm in the process of learning my first song on the guitar, I'm traveling, trying new things, getting more exercise, reading more and Facebook-ing less. Honestly, I feel like my old self again. 

After a year of feeling like I was just spinning my wheels in place, I wanted to feel like I was doing something this year-I might not live where I want or have the job I'd like, but I could use my time productively by learning new things and getting a change of scenery. After 100 days, I feel inspired, creative, and excited about the future, which is exactly what this whole challenge thing was about anyway.

Today I'm returning to Dublin and next week I'll be in France for a bit, then off to Germany! If you'd like to see me while I'm on this side of the pond, drop me a line and we can plan something!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Farewell to Bali

Bali was the trip of a lifetime. My first time in Asia, meeting long lost cousins for the first time, finally seeing a land that is so linked to my family's history...this trip was so much more than a regular tourist excursion, and it left its mark on me.

From the perfect beaches, incredible sunsets and sunrises, delicious food, and all the funny, amazing people we met along the way, my Bali trip was probably my most unforgettable.

Until next time, Bali!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tanah Lot, Bali

Our last full day in Bali, my dad and I decided to see Tanah Lot. If you haven't heard of it, you've probably seen it whenever someone starts throwing together Bali-related photos. It's a rock formation with a lovely temple built on it. During certain times of the day, the rising tides make it a kind of Balinese Mont St Michel

My dad and I arrived just in time for sunset, which bathed the rocks in a million beautiful colors.

After taking our sunset pictures, we set off to discover the (surprisingly) deep tide pools created by the outgoing tide.

After much exploring, my dad finally found a kite he liked. He couldn't wait to try it out!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ubud in Pictures

Ubud was a little too Eat-Pray-Love-y for my tastes (where else in the world will you meet two middle aged white women in a row who tell you they are "crystal healers" and "life mentors"?) but it still has a lot to offer. The surrounding area is gorgeous, the town is cute (apart from the yoga ladies wandering around trying to "find themselves") and the bibek was tasty.

Farewell, Ubud! I'll leave you to the Eat-Pray-Lovers.