New Year, New Beliefs

I have had such an amazing Holiday season here in North Carolina. I haven’t spent Christmas with family for about 20 years. I also haven’t received actual Christmas presents from people besides co-workers since my last partner in 2013. Sure, my friends would buy me a little something here and there, but it was never consistent. As I observed my thoughts, (which is what I do now!) it seemed odd for something like receiving presents to make such an impact on my state of mind and self-worth. Perhaps I saw this as a confirmation of love and acceptance. Which sounds a bit silly and shallow. I grew up in a family with beliefs that money meant to struggle and hard work was the only way to succeed in life. While on the other side of the coin, too much money was considered greedy and was morally compromising to the receiver. Needless to say, lots of hard work and struggling to pay the bills were part of my family’s entire history. Therefore, gifts were taken with high regard because of the struggle for the money needed to purchase these ‘things’. Then it’s common to identify with these gifts and it feels good when we receive something we really wanted. We feel heard. “This person really knows me.” I sometimes take pride in the feeling of getting someone something they really enjoy. It feels good. However, at the same time, I am noticing my reaction and attachment to the feelings that gifts/money can bring. I am currently in the process of changing my beliefs around money so that I can break the family chain of never having enough. I am doing this by waking up. Allow me to share my process.

Eckhart Tolle clearly states that the Egoic mind is entirely conditioned by the past. We believe we are who we are due to our history and life situations. We identify with our past pains which are actually our current pain since there is only Now. We take this information and trauma and package it into the body that is sitting down reading these words. Then not only do we identify with our ego, but we accept it as our own. Identification with the mind prevents us from Being or living in the Now. Listening to our thoughts creates a false sense of self, one that is filled with shadows of fear and suffering. Then our past essentially turns into our prison because it has become our present. I hear statements like, “I am who I am and I will never change.” It feels comforting to, “know who we are” when really we are limiting ourselves while oblivious to our full potential. As Tolle would put it, we are following our past beliefs while still remaining unconscious to the true essence of who we are and only here is where we can we truly change. This information is dense and at first, I was completely overwhelmed. But I can’t stop reading, re-reading again and again because deep down it feels true. Our thoughts can make us miserable and sometimes they don’t even seem like us at all. Around four or five months ago I discovered that when I cry, it is because I am identifying with my thoughts. If someone hurts me, my mind spins with self-deprecating thoughts all the while resisting/bringing closer the idea that this certain someone is correct. It is such a relief to know that my thoughts aren’t even me at all, it is my ego. We can choose to identify with the thoughts which then create more pain and suffering or we can just watch them pass by. Mastering this skill is very much time well spent. I struggle with consistency, but overall I am hoping to be able to replicate it again and again until the thoughts are just a whisper in the background.

Not only does the ego connect us with beliefs about ourselves, but it also causes us to identify with things. I have, unfortunately, fallen victim to this over the years. I’ve always had the stigma since I was a child, that wearing certain clothing would allow me to attract the right kinds of people into my life. Since nice clothing was a luxury I didn’t have when I was a child, I assumed this was the reason for my feelings of loneliness and isolation. This was the sole separation. My younger self would reason if I could somehow look the part then I would magically transform and feel the love I was so desperately missing. Children are so pure and such incredible creatures. ❤ Unfortunately, I held onto this belief through most of my adult life. When I worked in an office, I remember a shift when I kept getting passed over for promotions. This was a marketing company so they were image-conscious. I got it into my head that if I started dressing up then I would be more recognized for my talents and then eventually be promoted. I hate to say it, but I do believe this worked. Because so many people cannot see beneath the surface of what an individual has to offer. I then went crazy with it!! I bought a new wardrobe, new shoes, boots, and my credit cards were accommodating to the weight. All the while, not realizing that I was trying to fulfill a desire that went much deeper. I was trying to give that little girl the love she deserved. Again, blindly identifying with my past. Designer labels take advantage of this identification with our egos. They are in a sense, identity enhancers. These clothes make us, the users, feel special and exclusive. After all, if everyone could acquire these styles, then the psychological value attached to them would be gone. We would be forced to pay only the intrinsic value for the materials which is a minute fraction of what people will actually pay for a Prada label. Of course, this is the extreme side of materialism as most of us fall somewhere in the middle. After all, aren’t the most expensive Christmas gifts the ones that mean the most? This year I was fortunate to be showered with lots of amazing gifts. It made such an impact that it literally brought me to tears. I was so honored and possibly felt a little undeserving, hence the crying/identifying with my thoughts. It felt like a confirmation that my family did truly love me. That little girl in me was finally getting love. Kinda messed up when you think about it 🙂 But when I look around these beliefs do not seem that different. There are so many people that spend more money than they have in order to fill a void within their lives. All the while knowing deep down that this will only create more turmoil in the end. It is a vicious cycle and marketing companies are happy to magnify these moments of unconsciousness. Advertisers know that in order to sell us something that we don’t need, they must project a feeling that the object will add something to how we see ourselves. Or better yet, how others will perceive us. We become easy prey.

This new year I challenge everyone to just begin observing your thoughts throughout the day. Without labeling or judging, just watch. I was surprised by how much time I spent thinking about the past. Even knowing that’s not what I wanted to focus on. The ego is a tricky thing and pops up continually over and over again. But after observing without emotion to the point when it becomes a habit, eventually, the ego begins to feel like a separate entity entirely. Which makes it much easier to simply ignore, turn off. Then once this veil has lifted, we are free to live and enjoy life exactly as it was intended.

From the Ashes

True transformation is not beautiful. It’s not a bunch of yogis sitting in a prayer circle breathing with enlightenment. It’s raw, grisly, and when we finally break free/surrender and can begin to see the light; we realize we are quite a different creature from when we entered. Even if we’re ready for a change, why does this process feel like we are being drugged along kicking and screaming? One word, resistance. I’ve recently become a Tolle reader, so I will more accurately state this fight as resisting the Now or the present. Tolle and The Buddha teach that resistance is the root of all suffering and it is impossible to make big changes until this resistance can be calmly monitored and observed. Tolle (probably Buddha too) also explains how there is no past or future, these are only trappings of the mind. Unfortunately, we spend most of our time here dwelling on the past or the looking forward to the salvation of the future. Never simply enjoying the present, which is all there is. Which is why we have to keep catching ourselves over and over when we begin to think about the past or future. Only here is where the true work resides. 

My plane landed in Denver on May 11th, 2019 and I was not the least bit prepared for the shift that was already taking place. I felt like a flower that was violently ripped from the ground and forced to take root in a completely new environment. My body and mind were in the US, however, there was a part of me still back in the United Kingdom. That part was very much alive and this contrast was tearing me apart. I would wake up in the middle of the night struggling to breathe. It felt like I was in the wrong place! I wanted to be back in England having breakfast, taking a walk and petting ponies. There is a very real condition known as reverse culture shock and it made my integration back to the US extremely difficult. I had so much resentment toward border policies, pretty much the US as a whole, my former romantic tryst for leaving me to the wolves, and then anyone and everyone that didn’t understand what I was going through. It was like existing in two separate worlds simultaneously and completely alone. Unfortunately, this tail spinning continued on for months because my resistance was so strong. I was determined to blame others for my current situation. Not to mention fending off onslaught attacks from those I once thought of as allies. I quickly became an enraged victim filled with spite, caught within a whirlwind of pain and despair. To say this was the most difficult time I have encountered, would be an understatement. This shook me to my core and forced me to allow, accept, and eventually discover the Now. 

This suffering mainly happened on my own behind closed doors. This was both good and bad. Because although I felt very isolated in my grief, I came out of it realizing that we are never, ever truly alone. I’m not talking about other humans, I’m talking about our inner self/source/ancestors/God, whatever you want to call it, they are always there supporting. Understanding this and the fact that others humans are also important; there are a few individuals I want to personally show my gratitude toward helping me reclaim my power. I am very grateful to my roommate Bill, who without realizing, provided a great distraction and sense of normalcy that was invaluable to me during this time. With his support, I was able to get out of my head and stop the downward spirals. Also, I am forever indebted to my most wonderful friend, Yamila, who expertly and repeatedly held the space for me, allowing me to sob and purge this resistance that was consuming every part of my being. I didn’t know what was wrong at the time, but I knew I had to release it, whatever it was. I owe a huge thank you to Yamila and her husband, Gene. Finally, my dear friend Traci, who never shied away from hearing my pain. There were very dark moments when I was stubbornly determined to linger in agony and she brought me back from the brink, several times. I will always treasure these strong relationships with these amazing and wonderful individuals. Friends are so important to me and there was a time when I thought they were all I had. I have a history of blurring the lines and falsely associating friends as family and when they didn’t reciprocate to my standards it felt very traumatic. I felt this huge void, which as it turns out, actually wasn’t empty at all. This brings me to my second and most valuable takeaway from the past five months which was to understand the tremendous power and value of family. 

My mother died on June 27th, about 6 weeks after arriving back in the states. In fact, I arrived just a week before I had to make plans to go to Kansas to see her before she died. I had no money, no car and no way to get there. Here is where my incredible family stepped up and became a solid rock in my life. My cousin Kim, who I think of more as a sister now, paved the path to bringing me to my mom. She and her father enabled me to get those final moments with her. This was a gift that is beyond the price of any measure. Before this experience, I didn’t realize anyone (besides a partner) was capable of such an offering. It is a little sad that this took so long and I had to be at my most desperate time to truly understand this. My mother raised me under piles of her own resentments and the lessons from which were to “not trust family,” and “no one ever has your back.” In a strange way, her death enabled me to let go of her pain and accept this fresh new bounty with open arms. I finally have a family!! Something I have fought and strived to achieve for as long as I can remember. They were here all along. 

Currently, I am happily living in North Carolina. I was welcomed without hesitation by Brynn, Kim’s mom, now my new mom. 🙂 She is sharing her wealth of wisdom on a daily basis and more importantly teaching me how to receive and trust. I am understanding the value of allowing someone to give in order to have the space to create. I honestly don’t know where I would be without her. Chewy is also settling in nicely. He seems very weary from so much traveling and I have made the decision to stay put as much as possible until he passes. I am finally in a place where I am happy, present and looking forward to the future. A future that isn’t someone else’s dream and I’m just tagging along in the background. A future that doesn’t include being trapped in a job I don’t like because I think it’s the fastest way to bring me fulfillment. I am going after my true dreams and abundance. I am already there. I have arrived in the Now. 

Ready or Not

I’m almost packed and ready to move ahead with my new life back in Colorado. I am sad, but ready to take the plunge. Positivity and confidence are my main fuel source at present and I’m trying to burn them as copiously as possible while approaching my next steps. Why is this so hard? I have had two friends recently inform me that there is a surprising adjustment between living abroad for an extended time and then coming back to the US. I already feel this in my body, in my soul. Uncertainty continues to poke its head into my every frame of being. There isn’t a moment that passes where I’m not caught up in the reverie of where I’m going to live, buy clothes, get a car or a job. All of which is out there right now for the taking. Even though this is the land that I left, I am entering it a stranger in many ways. Very few of my old friends are able to reach out with support. There is nothing more humbling than asking to sleep on someone’s couch and the most I could scrounge up were three nights. Please, please don’t feel sorry for me! This is life and most people have continued on with their own as they should. I completely understand and am not feeling resentment in any way. I expected this in many ways. How strange, to travel alone within four different countries, only to come back to feeling true solitude. Imagine the feeling of being completely in debt with only the items I can fit in my suitcase. How does one pack for a new life? Again, I want to be very clear that I do not desire pity or remorse. I made these choices and I will never regret them. I merely ask you to be present and see what comes up for you when your eyes cross over the words. It’s surprising, but there is a lot of raw power when I am stripped down from things or people that were once apart of my normalcy. It turns out my material possessions aren’t important. I have things I carry with me that I am attached to, but even those I can leave behind without much after thought. Friends, family, people we think will show up for us even in our darkest days turn out to only be another belief. A nice thought that gives us comfort. Ultimately, they can change as easily as the wind when timing and circumstances come into play. I think it’s important to happily (with joy and appreciation) let them all go, along with any other evidence of my old ways of thinking. Ask anyone of a certain age and they will affirm that everyone will eventually fade away. The only thing that ties us to this world is our love and compassion for ourselves.

It is a good feeling to be able to look at this fear head-on instead of crumbling beneath its weight. I am basking in it. Right now, in this very exposed, vulnerable moment I have the realization that nothing can hurt me. I know the key to creating an abundant life is as easy as opening myself up to it. I have the capabilities of excelling within a career that brings me happiness. While working alongside coworkers that I will enjoy and respect. I look forward to sharing brunches with new friends who are more closely aligned with my compassion and morales. It makes me smile to think about living with someone that appreciates the warmth and laughter I bring into a home. All the while loving myself enough to let it all in. I no longer have to live feeling trapped or locked in chains of fate or the belief that shit just happens. We all create our own world every minute of everyday. I am so grateful for the tremendous feat of understanding this on essentially every level.

Since I’m on the topic of gratitude, I am very fortunate to have a big powerhouse in my corner. Joe will never allow me to be homeless. His love and support has have given me courage to pursue anything I wish to accomplish. He has allowed me to settle in to the perspective that anything is achievable. I foresee remarkably fabulous times ahead.

New Chapter

Well… my trip from Ireland to the UK was pretty smooth until Border Patrol scrutinized my passport shortly after the ferry docked. I had a huge misunderstanding in regards to  my travel Visa. Apparently, Americans are only allowed six months in the United Kingdom every year. I don’t get a freshly renewed batch of six months just by leaving for a month or two. This is contrary to information I researched online. However, Britain is on high alert at the moment regarding any type of possible immigration offense. After 30 minutes of explaining my situation to the customs officer, I was fortunately allowed back into the country. However with a warning that I was currently in an illegal status. I’ve met travelers from all around the world who have struggled with customs and have often had to bounce to nearby countries for a day or two in order to be allowed to remain in their current place of residence. I thought my situation in the UK was similar. Unfortunately, it’s not and after much consideration, I’ve decided to return to the United States. I can’t bear the feeling of being in an illegal situation. If I get pulled over by a police officer or get into a car wreck, I will be immediately deported. Then I would be banned from ever coming back. I just can’t risk it and have decided to return to Colorado next month and get settled once again. After 10 months of traveling I look forward to having a home again and stable employment. These are things I had taken for granted before. But sometimes the grass isn’t greener. It’s just an entirely different type of grass. Or better yet, an entirely different way to experience the grass.

I am incredibly grateful for being able to travel and live for as long as I have in four different countries. It has been an experience I will never forget and may eventually do again someday. I jumped over many hurdles, worked hard, fell in love, and got to spend a lot of time in the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I have absolutely no regrets, in fact if money wasn’t a factor, I would continue to keep traveling. But right now I have to be rational and there is a strong sense of clarity when I think about coming home. I’ve missed my friends, Mexican food, tumble dryers and wide straight roads more than I can articulate. I also look forward to being in a place where I don’t always have to repeat what I’ve said again and again due to the different language or dialect. I’m ready for life to be easier again. I am determined to never take working in a cubicle for granted again. Words I never thought I would hear myself say. Ahhh perspective!

In a way it feels strange to come back to my old stomping grounds as I feel so very different than when I left. More accurately, I feel like a separate person, like 10 months ago was a completely different reality. It’s a strange, but good feeling. I still plan to continue updating my life and progress with Joe now that he is the one that has to come visit me. 🙂 I look forward to introducing him to those that still remain very dear to me. I can’t wait to help him conquer his first fourteener and glide through the mountains on a full suspension mountain bike. There is still so much ahead that I am so ecstatic about. I’ve managed to see my way through a situation that was very stressful, then sad and now truly embracing the change. What a pleasure to be able to look through the foggy crap in order to see the beautiful, peaceful wonderful life ahead. This was something I was unable to do before which feels like quite an achievement. Unfortunately, coming home is also stirring up uncomfortable feelings as well. I am in the process of updating my resume and renewing coworker relationships from the past. This has forced me to take a long, hard look in a direction I have been avoiding for some time now. I won’t go into the details of why I left my previous company, but it wasn’t what I would consider a comfortable split. I still have deep feelings of resentment which are now materializing in the form of self doubt. What I resist just becomes magnified! It doesn’t go away. Over the past year I have done everything within my power to fight, prove myself, push myself, or anything that would avoid me looking at the possibility that I was wrong. That I didn’t do a good job. I know these things aren’t often easily quantified or objectively judged. But just writing it down right now is an incredibly difficult task. The fear of what I would be if I failed at something. I have always worked hard my entire life. At least this is what I would tell myself as protection from my worst possible fear – failure. I always had strong arguments and excuses for why things went sour with my previous job. I never stopped…NO, I refused to stop and think I was inherently the cause. Which goes against everything I believe about how we create our own reality. I wasn’t happy, I wanted to get out. I tried to do it passively and became apathetic which was my true detrimental mistake. I created my own failure. Then I worked very hard to blame others for something that was my own creation. Deep breath. I now have all these fears and doubts about being a productive addition to the workforce. Will anyone want to hire me? Will I make the same mistakes again? These are all very important feelings to process. I don’t have to take them in as fact or self shame. I already know where that rabbit hole goes. At least these insecurities are out in the open and not buried in bubble wrap within my subconscious. Once this has been unearthed I can move past it and concentrate on doing a good job here on out. It feels more empowering to simply own up and recognize what I did wrong while doing everything in my power to do better next time. I have a strong belief that my next role in a company will be my greatest and most productive yet. I look forward to my manager appreciating my work again and my unrelenting commitment. This is such a wonderful place to be. I couldn’t see it before because I was caught in the fog. It’s so hard to attack these shadows from my past, but not nearly as hard as it is trying to avoid feeling them altogether. Thank you for continuing to take this journey with me throughout all of my ups and downs. Life has truly never been so sweet.

Couch and Life Surfing

I am finally seeing Ireland in all it’s glory. A week ago, Chewy and I drove through an area called the Ring of Kerry. I had to keep stopping the car and gazing at the beautiful rocky mountainous backdrop. The pictures just don’t even begin to capture the true essence of Ireland’s beauty. As a child I remember seeing pictures of green mountains and steep cliffs that jut out into ocean enveloped by the powerful waves. Now, seeing it finally in the flesh is almost surreal. It’s like I walked into the paintings from my childhood. I guess that is why I travel, there is such a contrast between viewing something in person versus looking at photographs. Sort of akin to watching someone eat instead of savoring the flavors myself. It doesn’t just add depth, it is actually a different experience entirely. Feeling the breeze against my skin, inhaling the flavors of the air, provides a truth within the experience that leaves no room for question. I become part of the environment instead of just the observer. Even the smallest of interactions with others affirms the ties that connect me to the present moment. It is incredible what I am able to take in when I just surrender and enjoy.

Being able to see this amazing country provides a good diversion while I’m away from the UK. I miss Joe. I plan to post some pics of us soon. I’ve had several requests for this and I am normally much more mindful in remembering to take photos. However, when I am around Joe I am so busy indulging that snapping a selfie is the furthest thing from my mind. What an incredible feeling it is to be so captivated by someone.

Driving in Ireland is a bit different than other countries. The roads are not very good, but not in the ways you would expect. Normally when I am on a rough road I look out for potholes or obvious imperfections to avoid the contact with my tires. But when I drive here, the roads look smooth most of the time. But my car will suddenly lunge up and down as if I have just driven across a huge wave. I don’t feel the sharp, short jolt if my tires have hit a hole. Instead it’s more of a series of tight small hills. To avoid this, I now drive looking more at the edge of the road. It’s easier to see the hilly dips along the dotted yellow line on the left side of the asphalt. If I had to guess, it looks as if the ground wasn’t leveled before the asphalt was laid down. Producing an even and consistent dip every hundred meters or so. Despite the roads being wider with less curves than in the UK, I find driving here challenging while generating more wear on my car. On the good side, I don’t have to worry about being honked at by the driver behind me. Besides its extraordinary beauty, Ireland has some of the nicest people I have come across while traveling. The Irish are always there to chat, lend a hand while enjoying the process entirely. Don’t get me wrong, people are very nice in the US and the UK. But here the Irish are very genuine. They want to connect and masterfully do it in a non-threatening and relaxed way. They often give friendly waves to others in acknowledgment for giving the right of way or just saying, Hi. Not just lifting a few fingers up from the steering wheel; like actually arm out, hand flapping, proper wave. It makes me smile. The accents are so curious, very strong, yet flowing like a song. When I hear people speaking Gaelic/Irish it sounds like they are quoting poetry or song lyrics with perfect rhythm. Which is another incredible thing here, the music. I wasn’t so much into Irish music before traveling here, but it is growing on me. Most towns I travel through have live music in one of the pubs most nights of the week. In fact, the pubs in Ireland are struggling right now. This is mainly due to new regulations put in place recently that tightened down on driving under the influence of alcohol. The penalties are so severe where even a first offense when driving over the drinking limit would invoke a three month license suspension. An unfortunate consequence to this is that the local pubs are suffering. They often provide trivia, board games, and live music to bring in the business. I just attended a board game event last night with my new friend, Sam whom I met on Couchsurfing.com. Ireland has been my introduction to couchsurfing. It seemed a little scary at first not knowing the person at all before sleeping in their house, but overall I think it’s a great way to connect with people and the culture of the area. It helps that I only consider hosts that have references and a common tie. With Sam, who is 26, we share a love for music (he plays the flute) and board games. We met at a coffee shop near his home and it was like chatting up an old friend from college. Sam is actually my second experience with couchsurfing. About a week ago I stayed in Carlow with a woman, Deirdre, who is also a Star Trek fan 🙂 along her 10 year old daughter, Lainey. I had such a good time walking, eating, and playing board games with them. I learned so much about Ireland. Did you know that Halloween originated in Ireland? Here I thought Halloween was basically the Mexican Day of the Dead with an American twist. I had no idea pumpkin carvings originated from turnips! As always I am ever grateful for my experiences and listening to my inner guidance. I am very particular at who’s home I choose to stay in. I have had a couple of shady characters come into the periphery with odd questions and requests that may initially seem subtle, but I don’t question it and just move on immediately. Listening to my gut is ever so important in any type of host/guest accommodation. If there is ever even an inkling of doubt about someone’s character, I rule them out automatically.

Chewy and I are staying with Sam a few more days before we make our way back to Dublin again. I am hoping that when we cross back over on the ferry, my passport will be easily stamped once arriving back on British soil. Oh how I long for the days when I no longer have to worry about customs and border crossings. As an American, I really didn’t understand how difficult and nerve racking it can be to do this. “What if they ask a question I don’t know the answer to?”, “I just paused when I answered that, is that suspicious?” I now truly understand this obstacle right alongside the rest of the world. It feels wrong to keep adding borders globally, pulling people further and further apart, instead of looking at our fear head on and surrendering to it.

Sweet Goodbye

Today is the eve of my final day working on the farm here in Ireland. It’s been just over 2 weeks and I have had nothing but good experiences here. The animals are so incredible. It’s quite profound to observe their transition from being shy of humans to lively and snuggly, trying to crawl into my lap. Cathy Davey is the founder of My Lovely Horse Rescue, she is a warrior and saint for all these magnificent animals. Cathy was once a famous singer in Ireland and found her true calling in welcoming these once abused animals and allowing them to live out their final years with extremely nutritious food, a comfortable home and the abundance of love from the volunteers that keep this organization going strong and successful. It has been such a joy and I am grateful to have helped make a small impact in the further development of this cooperative.

I have also immensely enjoyed the other volunteers who I have worked beside during my stay here on the farm. It’s been years since I have truly bonded with individuals in their early 20s. I think as adults, we tend to spend our time with people within our own age bracket. Perhaps out of security or to protect us from the fear that we do not belong. At least for me, I didn’t think I had much to learn from young adults that were 20 years younger than myself. I mean, don’t we typically learn from those that are older, wiser and have a bounty of life experience to pass on? I’m proud to have discovered this isn’t even remotely the case. I have learned so much from these individuals, about myself and the human experience in general. Tessa is a 20 y/o American who has lived the past three years in Korea. She has taught me that cultural boundaries and borders exist only if you allow them to separate yourself. Her openness and vulnerability will allow her to absorb a lot more happenings yet to come. Asuka is a strong, young dental student from Japan, who always kept a positive attitude. I enjoyed watching her steady consistent development of strength and stamina during her time on the farm. Julien and Marine are an exemplary couple that allowed their love to burn strong even while they were mucking up horse poo. Their passion and boundless connection is something we could all strive to attain. Lucie is a dear, sweet friend who has the potential to accomplish anything in this world. At only 22, she is far more knowledgeable and confident than people three times her age. I look forward to watching her create her own hero’s journey. I have experienced such wonderful, genuine connections, enjoyed laughing until I was out of breath and appreciated the encouragement when I felt exposed. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to have met here in Ireland. It is with a heavy heart that I pack and leave this wonderful community.

As I mentioned previously, the work was often very difficult, but this is only part of the reason I am moving on. I also long to see more of Ireland during my stay here. I welcome the new experiences that will invariably arise. Some of you might ask, “Why would you go work your arse off on a farm when you don’t have to and for FREE??” The best answer I can give to this is because I can. I am so proud of the rigorous activity my body has withstood and I was able to perform well without a hitch. There was one morning, my sixth day of hard work where I hit a mental wall. I put down my pitchfork and could no longer keep going. So at 10am I crawled back into bed and slept for another three hours before getting back out there again. I am very proud that I took the initiative to nurture and take care of myself when I physically couldn’t do anymore. What a great situation that allowed me to understand myself better. I love the quote from Neal Donal Walsh, “You life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” How are we ever to truly understand ourselves unless we push the boundaries of our reality? Sure, it was uncomfortable and downright hard at times. But I am currently left only with a feelings of achievement and sweet, sweet victory.

Working on a Farm

Despite my best efforts to try and get a Visa for the UK, I had to leave once my six months had ended on March 15th. I was determined to not go too far away from my newly formed relationship, so I arranged a ferry and work-a-way in Ireland. I drove Chewy and myself onto the ferry and we stayed the 11ish hour journey in a cute little cabin. They even served us dinner and then a super early morning breakfast at 2:30am. Unfortunately, the high winds delayed our departure and route as well. We didn’t dock in Dublin until 4am Friday morning. Then to my surprise, there wasn’t a customs or immigration check. Actually, there wasn’t a check at all, I just drove off the boat and out of the docking area. I asked several security workers if they knew how I could get my passport stamped and they didn’t have a clue. I decided to stay in Dublin and wait until the immigration office opened at 9am. I found a place to park and quickly discovered that I can sleep quite well in the backseat of my car for a couple of hours.:) The next morning was chaotic. After being interrogated by customs officers in the past, I was expecting much the same here in Ireland. I found it comical that I had a lot of trouble in actually getting my stamp. I mean, I spent the next three hours in Dublin driving from Garda (police) to Passport Services, Immigration, etc. I paid for parking so many times that during my final stop, I was getting desperate. Everyone kept telling me, don’t worry, you are in Ireland now, you don’t need a stamp. To which I replied, “No, I need a stamp so that the UK knows that I left!” After repeating this over and over I finally got a Garda officer to stamp my passport with the Ireland stamp. I think he did this mostly because he felt sorry for me. No interrogation, no other words were spoken, he just came back out with my passport and said, “there you go.” When I arrived on the farm where I am currently staying, I met another American who had the exact opposite experience. She wasn’t allowed to enter Ireland. Tessa, who is 20 and originally from Los Angeles, told the customs officer at the airport that she was coming to Ireland to do a work-a-way. Which is the same as WOOFing or volunteering in exchange for room and board. Tessa’s Customs officer told her she had the wrong type of Visa and was not able to “work” in Ireland. After a confusing couple of hours, she was allowed to stay in Ireland for only 2 weeks. When this time ended she then went to Germany and organized her trip back. She had to show her bank account balance, letters of reference from the owners of the farm, her family in Germany and her mother also ended up making a donation to this same farm in order to allow her normal tourism access into the country. I am still stunned at the lack of consistency between our situations.

I am working on a farm sanctuary about 45 minutes east of Dublin. The farm consists of 20 horses, 11 pigs, 4 donkeys, 2 sheep, 2 goats, and 4 chickens. They all have names and are all rescued from abusive and/or neglectful pasts. The work is often very hard, shoveling, lifting, pushing, all movements I haven’t practiced in years. My body was very sore after the third day which consisted of a large amount of shoveling pig poo. It was foul, difficult, and seemed never ending. Yet, while I was ankle deep in mud and poo, feeling like I couldn’t physically do anymore, I had an epiphany. I would rather be right where I was instead of being trapped in a cubicle all day. It’s hard work, but it feels good. My body is becoming stronger and that is very empowering. I am proud of the way I can push myself and the things I am able to physically accomplish. I am able to stay on my very low carb diet so my overall moods, digestion and blood sugar feel great! Overall life is going very well. I plan to take the ferry back to Liverpool on April 16th. That should be enough time to allow safe entry back into the UK for another six months.

My favorite part of the workday is training the animals. I am assigned two miniature ponies, Shaft and Onya. They came from a very neglectful owner and weren’t around humans much and when they were it was abusive. I place my hands around their heads for three seconds and then give them carrots. I’ve moved up to trying to put the halter on them. I can get their noses through them, but when I bring the top part of the halter up around their head they run off terrified. Their association is being beaten by a whip. It’s so sad. But little by little I am earning their trust and it’s very gratifying to see them run up to me as soon as I come into their stable. Even though it’s mostly for the carrots, at least they are associating humans to something positive. Something I didn’t expect about the farm is that my favorite animals here are two donkeys, Peanut and Wayne. I’m sure many of you are aware that donkeys are notoriously abused all over the world, even in America. They often lead a very sad, harsh lives. After training the mini’s I will spend time with the two male donkeys. They have such a somber, weighty energy. Very different from the other animals. Even though they are afraid they still willingly stay close to me when I begin petting and showing them affection. It’s like they have waited a long time for that kind of attention. After about 10-20 minutes they begin to lean in slightly to my touch. In my opinion, they seem much happier. They enjoy a little bit of love. I told Joe I would try not to come back with any animals, but these donkeys are stealing my heart! I can’t wait until one day when I can rescue these beautiful souls and show them a better life. In the meantime, I wonder how hard it is to transport donkeys to the UK 😀