I came home from my Eastern Europe trip deeply moved; the experience brought to surface a multitude of feelings that I couldn't simplify into words if I tried. Everything I learned about brought me home with more questions than answers, calling me to do a great deal of reflection on myself and humanity as a whole, and how the will of God is woven in and among us all. Like all great learning experiences, it is from these questions that a certain restlessness is stirred up within us; our curiosity is ignited, doors of opportunity start to become more apparent, and we are driven by a passion to understand God, ourselves, others, and the beautiful world by which we are all connected. My initial plans upon coming home were to flow into a cascade of books, documentaries, prayer, and conversing with family, friends, and colleagues, but something was stirring in me to do more; I was so distracted by this stirring that I could hardly focus.
After taking a few days to recover from an awful case of jet lag due to some travel mishaps, I knew this stirring were "those" butterflies and was feeling the drive to keep traveling, although I had no idea where to go. My initial feelings were to continue exploring in Eastern Europe; I love it there and feel deeply connected, it is such an overwhelming, powerful feeling going to areas in the world of which you have ancestry. With those sentiments in mind, after talking with my parents, it was clear where I needed to go, but it was somewhere totally new, the other part of who I am. In less than 24 hours of this conversation just a week after coming home, I was on the phone with a travel agent, and after consulting with my extremely logical, responsible big brother to make sure I wasn't being irrationally impulsive, I booked another trip. A trip to a place that has been dear to my family, in our traditions and our identity, particularly my pure-bred, red-haired, green-eyed, sweet Mommy who was born on St. Patrick's Day back in 1947. A place that has always felt surreal to me, more of a dream or rather a "maybe someday" destination, that the mere thought of brings tears to my eyes, warms my heart, and sparks my soul.
And, well, I suppose today is "maybe someday" because, well, I'M GOING TO IRELAND!!! I'm a bit overloaded with emotion and have got another case of the jitters; I'm not sure I believe this is really happening! I am just so beyond grateful for this blessing and hope to do whatever is willed to me along this part of my travel journey. I will try to post pics along the way if I can.
I still have yet to sit down and write about my summer travel experiences thus far, but if I can share a few words in reflection it'd be these: when you are struggling, suffering, unsure of where you are in life, don't fight against who you are or give up on the tugs in your heart. Those feelings are just signs that you are really living; I don't completely understand why, but I think that perhaps it's the cost of our free will, the free will that allows us to choose to love God, each other, and ourselves. So don't despair or settle for less, but rather look up, know God's plan for you is bigger than your own, and keep going knowing that you are accounted for, wholly accepted, and deeply, unconditionally loved for exactly who you are.
I suppose it would only be appropriate for me to conclude this post with an Irish Blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
And with that, Check ya later, CLE (...until we meet again)! See you soon, Dublin!!!
Dipping right into Irish culture: Guinness and live music! ☘️
Live music everywhere, on the street and in the pubs. Joyful, kind people and such a happy environment. Feels so much like St. Patrick's Day in the CLE!!! ☘️
In beautiful Kilkenny, home of ultimate hurling! ☘️ Fun afternoon biking and learning about the history and culture here; the Irish have SO much pride in who they are and where they come from. Don't be deceived by the blue skies, they weren't there for long, LOL! I totally underestimated how chilly it is here, but no worries, it was just a good excuse to get myself a made-in-Ireland scarf to keep warm and take home with me.
Free range beauty
First European bike tour that actually gave out helmets (they were good for the rain HAHA) ️☘️
Made it to the top and kissed the Blarney Stone! Daunting (but not as creepy as it looks LOL). 🤣
One of the rooms in the Blarney Castle
Stunningly beautiful Cliffs of Moher. Attempted to walk to the edge of the cliff past the fence buttttttt it started to torrential downpour, it was super muddy, and I didn't want to drop my phone (or fall LOL, came pretty close coming back down ) Heading to the Aran Islands tomorrow!
Dinner= beef stew marinated in Guinness. ☘️☘️
One more pretty castle pic: Dunguaire. So incredibly beautiful here.
Blessed with a picture perfect day today!
Spent all day biking the insanely BEAUTIFUL Aran Islands. Truly felt like I was in a dream. People speaking Gaelic, green/blue water, gorgeous rock formations, sweet cows and horses everywhere. Peaceful, serene, gorgeous (with the exception of trying to remember to bike on the lefthand side of the road. I could never drive here. LOL 🤣). ☘️
Pretty Irish ponies
A story I must share from tonight: I took a little post-dinner solo walking tour (need to burn off those potatoes!) of Galway since we'll be heading up North tomorrow and there's still so much left to see here. While trying to make my way back to the hotel, I got a little confused at a round-about, and pulled out my map. Within 20 seconds, literally, an Irish man pulled over, rolled down his window, and asked if I needed help. How sweet?!?!? When does that happen?!? It can be hard enough to get directions when you ask in many places, let alone have them offered to you without having to ask. The humble spirit and genuine kindness of the Irish is so uplifting and just so, so, so heart-warming. ☘️
Exceptionally amazing walking tour today in Londonderry/Derry, a dash there as the name is controversial in and of itself, led by a very wise, inspiring Northern Irishman man who's part Chinese and part Irish, interestingly enough! As a Buddhist, he gave us his perspective without Protestant and Catholic bias, and WOW, there is a whole lot I didn't know. One of the things he said that I found most inspirational was with respect to conflict. He said his Buddhist mother taught him to always find resolutions to conflict as quickly as possible, whether it be conflicts with your family, your friends, within your country, or even with yourself. Without quick resolutions, conflicts fester so deeply and consume us to the point where we can't even explain why we had the conflict in the first place. There's still a great deal of conflict here in Northern Ireland, in fact we've been strongly advised against wearing green or orange or discussing politics or religion while here, but our tour guide persisted that despite the unrest there is hope. He said that our presence as tourists is evidence enough that there is hope. He firmly believes that peace is possible, but not through the bombs and violence they've been inflicted with in the past, but rather education. It is through education that we learn how to understand one another, appreciate our differences, and recognize our similarities, because after all, what we all need is the same: to be accepted, to be respected, and to have the ability to love and to be loved. ️More Londonderry/Derry tonight, and Belfast tomorrow!
And if you didn't know (I didn't), the song Zombie by the Cranberries is with respect to the violence in Northern Ireland. And now it's in your head, in your heaaaaaaaaaaaad. (and hopefully the Andy from The Office version). You're welcome. 🤣
Peace Bridge ️
Very, very intense watching of the Celtics soccer game at Peadar O'Donnell's.
And we're just observing in the corner, soaking it all in. The Irish are most certainly very, very passionate people! 🤣
To fully embrace the cultural experience: Jameson. ☘️
Gorgeous day filled with beautiful views of Giant's Causeway! Remnants of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, science says. Remnants of a Scottish giant running away from a trickster Irish giant, legend says. 🤷♀️☘️
Somewhere over the rainbow (top left)! ☘️
Peace Wall that divides the British side of Belfast from the Irish side. Will hopefully be coming down at some point in the near future. Had another great tour today from a local, who lived during the violent years. She didn't think she'd live to 30; the stories of her childhood living in a war zone and her overall attitude put a lot into perspective. Like our last tour guide, she's also very hopeful for peace here.
Made it back to Dublin this morning and learned about the art, science, and history of Guinness! ☘️
It's science. Pretty amazing.
Even the pour is science! I'm proud to announce that I passed the practical on the perfect pour (and was commended for my precision and conscientiousness; always the overachiever ) and am now officially certified. ☘️
This right here is by far my favorite site in Dublin: St. Patrick's Cathedral! In the park where I'm standing is said to be the location where he baptized the first Irish Christians!!!!!! ☘️☘️
Inside this BEAUTIFUL cathedral. Feel so beyond blessed to be here! ☘️
St. Patrick's story. Will post more on FB later.
Another of the interior of St. Patrick's. Will post more later!
Such a fun night for our farewell (aka see you next time) to beautiful Ireland!
Irish dancers! ☘️🏼🕺
More Guinness-marinated beef and (of course) potatoes of multiple varieties! ☘️
I don't think there was a day that went by on this trip without tears. Tears of gratitude for this amazing life experience. Tears of sadness learning about all the hardships my ancestors and all the Irish have been burdened with for centuries, and all the hardships that still persist today. Tears of awe gazing into the beautiful, Heavenly countryside knowing my DNA at one time had been on this soil. Tears of joy interacting with all the happy-go-lucky Irish; their friendliness, genuine kindness, and witty sense of humor coupled with their distinct accents, twinkling eyes, and sweet smiles warmed my heart and will stay with me forever. Tears of pride for my heritage; I feel prouder than ever to say I'm part Irish American. Tears thinking of my family, in particular my Grandma Rosemary Dean Scully, who's jewelry I wore anytime I got the opportunity to look nice, and my Mom, Kathleen Scully Pavicic, who exemplifies every bit of Irish culture in everything she does, says, and is. It was a bittersweet good bye to this beautiful country last night. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and considering I just spent the past week in Ireland, it's fair to say that I most certainly am! God always has a way of answering prayers we don't ask for; it wasn't in my plans, but this spontaneous trip was the essential, perfect exclamation point to an incredible summer of travel. I'm super excited to come back home; I will be starting my 11th year of teaching, a year that is most certainly going to be a crazy busy one filled with lots of new challenges, but I feel refreshed, energized, and all set to go! SLAINTE, Ireland. I love you from the bottom of my heart, and hope I'm lucky enough to make my way back someday. XoXo ☘️☘️
Maya Angelou said frequently, "When you learn, teach," as well as, "When you get, give." These are words I try really hard to live by. Today, I was blessed to be able to give my crazy long hair to Wigs For Kids. THANK YOU @annierobinson10 for your courage, amazing attitude, and for being such an overall awesome person; you will forever be my inspiration. And THANK YOU to @cartertrista who has been serving my family for the past 20 years (and now up to 3 generations!), you are a true genius, but what puts you on a tier all your own is your heart; THANK YOU for the commitment, love, and care you put into your work, and for all you continue to do so graciously for my family and me. I'm super excited for my much-anticipated new look, and am extremely grateful to have been blessed with this gift I'm able to give and the good people who've inspired and helped me along the way.