The Magic of Friendship

Wednesday night I headed 90 minutes south to get together with my nearest and dearest friends  – a group that combines grade school, high school and college friends. It is a gift that they all live in the same area and that I am close enough to see them as well (though not often enough :().

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The girls minus MaryEllen who met us towards the end of dinner

We met up at Zen Asian Fusion restaurant which was very good and served huge portions! Sadly we were unable to take our leftovers home as we were going right to a show from dinner (the smell, if nothing else, would have been a bit of a bother to those around us!).  All of these women have kids in college at various stages and 4 of us have Freshman as well.  While driving down, I talked with my mom and told her how much I was looking forward to seeing the girls and that I also was a bit anxious ‘if they all say their kids are adjusting to college with no issues and life is flying high, I will feel really bad’.  What I was saying is that I needed some validation that what we are going through is normal which will provide reassurance that the boyz will be ok.

And of course, I got just that…while everyone is doing well and the kids are adjusting, it is not perfect for any of them.  There are little things – different for everyone, that they are dealing with – stress of athletic and academic schedules and how to take care of themselves amidst that, meeting friends that they click with when they are somewhat shy, managing time and sometimes going back to their rooms to sleep midday (which stresses parents out to know!), missing friends at home and the ease of the connection that comes with knowing people for years….But this is the biggest transition of their lives and they are managing bit by bit.

The power of friendship is amazing …each stage we go through in life, our friends are there to support us in a way that no one else can. Family are not usually going through the exact same stage (unless you are a multiple:)) and are often too close to you to be objective. Friends can be so close yet maintain a sense of objectivity at the same time. And friends who have been with you through so much….childhood so they know your family and where you come from, adolescence so they know the awkwardness and pain that you have experienced, college so they had the ups and downs that those 4 years (hopefully 4!) bring, first jobs, weddings, marriage, births, parenting, and now having kids in college and parents that may need care as well.  There is so much with this group that does not need to be said…so much that we understand about each other because of the history and because we are navigating these phases of life side by side.  The validation I received that night was magical – it transformed my worry to acceptance. It took the catastrophizing thoughts away and replaced them with thoughts of a normalized college experience.  These friendships are one of the greatest gifts that life offers.

And lest you think we were all serious and philosophizing the night away, let it be known that the initiation of the plan to get together was Alicia seeing that ‘Menopause’ the musical was playing at a theatre nearby. So we ended the night with lots of laughs and joy.  It was a great show well worth seeing if you are a woman who is at this stage of life. Though there were some men in the audience,  undoubtedly dragged by their wives, who the performers made sure to capitalize on by singing directly to them and creating even more laughs.

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The show was 4 women singing various cover songs with the words changed to make hilarious renditions about this stage of life

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 Thank you girls ❤

I had a 90 minute drive home and by the time we left the theatre it was 9:30pm – already past my bedtime! But the energy I had from the night – the connection , the laughs, the love….it kept me going and I was not the least bit tired until I hit my pillow. These girls and their friendship most certainly feeds the love.

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

 

Dublin Take 2

We truly are not jet setters though it may appear that way currently as I have been to Dublin twice in less than a month!  In the past, I never would have imagined doing this but things change when your child is across the pond for an extended time.

Much of what we did on this trip was a repeat of our trip in September.  When people hear that I am going to Ireland, they ask what I will do there and inquire about all of the sights and beauty I will see. I realized I was feeling a bit of pressure- like ‘am I supposed to be doing more than I am?’ But in the end, I realize that the visits have been extremely short -3 days in Ireland in September and 2 1/2 days there in October.  In that time, we want to do what parents of college students typically do – support Brendan and make his life just a little bit easier for the next week (aka take laundry, cleaning (kitchen was a bigger mess this time if that can be believed!) , some cooking and grocery shopping off of his plate.  I took that pressure off of myself and focused on having time that we could enjoy -even if that meant repeating a restaurant instead of trying a new one.

So here is a recap:

 

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The Book of Kells was available for viewing this time – last visit it was only a replica.

For those planning a trip to Ireland, a visit to Trinity is almost always on the ‘must see’ list and The Book of Kells is a big part of that. There has not been any time that we have walked through that area when it was not a massive line.  We had the benefit of Brendan’s student status which allowed us to jump the line and get in for free (free would be a relative word here given the tuition we are paying  ;).  And we continued on to the very impressive Long Room once again. Brendan also told us that Trinity gets a copy of every single book that is ever published in Ireland.

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Such an impressive place to see…so much history there

We headed to the ‘first 15s’ rugby game right on campus. The ‘first 15s’ are the top players – almost like varsity vs JV but not quite.  We were fortunate to meet up with one of Steve’s friends from high school (actually originally from Indian Guides when they were 8!). Bob and his wife Laurie were there to celebrate their anniversary and he saw on the lovely Book of Face, that we were going to be there so he reached out to Steve. They are such a nice, easy going couple and we had a great time catching up, watching rugby in the rain and then going to a warm dry place to eat 🙂

Collecting for the club….then imbibing with the club 🙂

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Personal tour guide

We had been to O’Neills when Eileen and I visited – it is where we tasted the Guinness. And Steve had been there with Brendan and Granddad in August so we went back there for a delicious dinner.  It is a pub but I actually felt like I was in the Weasley’s home (think Harry Potter) – there are different short staircases around and it feels like a maze. Plus there is a ‘cafeteria’ style set up downstairs – you go there and let them know what you want from the options and bring it up to your table on a tray.  We all loved our food and were rejuvenated from the wet  and cold of being outside.

 

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I love the look of this restaurant at night

Sunday’s main feature was Brendan’s game which was at ‘Old Belvedere Club’.  Brendan slept in while Steve and I ate at our B&B and went grocery shopping for him.  We went to his suite, cleaned, made stew in the crock pot for this week, and gathered up his laundry. Our host at the B&B graciously offered to finish his laundry while we were out (no small feat at he had a lot of it and the washer there was tiny!  With our ‘chores’ all done, we headed out to see the coast…

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Beautiful coast

We had to scarf down a very yummy lunch at ‘The Purity Kitchen’ before hustling to the game. Thankfully it was a gorgeous day so we could really enjoy. 🙂

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Brendan doing what he loves most

We took Brendan back to shower and get his things as he was going to stay with us Sunday night (while our room was much smaller than expected during my first round in Dublin, our room was much bigger than expected this time with an extra room and 3 beds ). We revisited Cornucopia which has a similar set up as O’Neills in that you let them know which options you want in cafeteria style line.

A note about eating away from home. Many people feel that eating the food of another culture is possibly the most important part of experiencing that culture.  While I hear that, and I know that part of traveling is being flexible and open to new things, including food, I also feel that we can still honor our own needs and preferences.  Part of what we have been doing this year is finding that there are ‘go to’ places we love in Dublin, Boston and Annapolis. It is comforting to have a place we revisit where we know we will have a great experience in our meal, environment and company. And to scatter in new places here and there as well.

Cornucopia ‘slop’ as my brother would call it…deliciousness would be my word!

And since Murphy’s ice cream is right across the street…we just had to have some…

Murphy’s is a must for any ice cream lover

Brendan then did what all rugby players must do – meet the guys at the pub for a pint. Though you do not have to drink a pint, in rugby culture, meeting them there is almost as important as playing the game. He tends to just stay for a little bit then they all go out for a bigger night at a club which is not his scene.  While he met the guys, Steve and I went back to O’Neill’s and were fortunate to catch some live Irish music and dancers. It was a lot of fun and we watched with the couple next to us who are from Boston:)

 

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Traditional Irish Dancing

We met up with Bear and headed back to the B&BIMG_0406

Walking down Grafton St

Sunday was short and sweet. We went again to ‘Honey Truffle’ for breakfast before Brendan’s class and while he was in class, Steve and I hit the bookstore. We were supposed to meet one of the rugby people at Honey Truffle again at 10 so we headed back for more coffee, another sausage roll for Brendan, and a great chat with his coach before heading back to the airport.

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Such a great breakfast or lunch spot

We laughed more than cried when we said goodbye as coach was there telling us  how his mom used to be so dramatic whenever he would leave her. It lightened a sad moment and distracted me from the ‘I won’t get to see or hug Bear until Christmas’ thoughts.  I will not lie – it is a challenge to have all 3 boyz away and to have Bear so far, definitely makes it feel different.  But I am SO grateful that Norwegian Airlines offers incredible fares and the trip is direct and relatively easy for us.  And I will look to these trips as time to do what works for us, with no expectation, no rules, and nothing to prove. And that, for sure, will feed the love in Dublin.

 

Many Blessings, 

Suzanne

Speaking of Polls…

It’s that time of year when everyone is talking about the polls. I do not know about you, but I cannot imagine being evaluated publicly with percentages of people who approve or disapprove of me.  Yet in some ways we all take polls albeit on a bit of a smaller scale. This is the kind of poll we take when we are unsure of ourselves..when we want reassurance that we are making the ‘right’ decision…when we don’t want to take full responsibility for our choices.

My friend, therapist, mentor, Mary,  always used to say to me ‘stop taking a poll’.  It is easy to develop this habit. We all want feedback from time to time and we can learn valuable lessons from others and get some much needed perspective. At the same time, like anything, too much poll taking is not a good thing.

“The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.” 
― Shel Silverstein

Looking outward for answers takes us away from our inner voice. I recently did something for my boyz because someone I respect had done it for her sons. It did not feel congruent for me but I went through the motions anyway. Every time I thought about it, I felt off in my stomach- like my gut was telling me it was not my truth.   I went ahead and did it despite that gut feeling, because I gave more credit to my friend’s decision than to my own voice. I recognized afterwards that there was no right or wrong and that whether I did it or not would not make a whole lot of difference to the boyz and certainly not to anyone else.  But I was reminded that I need to step back into myself. Why do I look to others to be the authority of what I should/should not be doing in my life? Why do I think they have it figured out and must be doing things in a ‘better’ way than I am?

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We look outward for answers on what to wear, what to say, what to eat, how to exercise, how to decorate our house, how to parent our children…But for almost everything, there is no one ‘right’ way. And how boring would the world be if we all did everything the same way? Learning to tune into ourselves is crucial to our well-being . We are here for a purpose and no one else knows what that purpose is …heck -most often we do not even know.  But the more we follow the inner voice and the more we tune in, the more we will hear our own truth…our own answers. It takes time and patience to cultivate this relationship but it is the most significant relationship of our lifetime…

 

This flower is blooming in a completely unnoticeable place in the woods off my driveway – stepping fully into itself without concern for: what is around it, if it fits in with this autumnal shift, if the trees, dead leaves, or pine cones are wanting it there….it is just Being…in it’s fullness…in its truth…in its beauty.

So I am consciously intending to call myself out when I find myself taking a poll…spend time tuning in instead of tuning out…and feeding the love of my inner wisdom.

 

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

 

 

 

The Art Cabinet

For years the idea of ‘cleaning out’ has been a huge desire but overwhelming thought. We have so much stuff!  Of course, Steve and I both have said that it is part of how we will cope during ’empty nesting’.  If nesting is a time to acquire, make cozy and create a home…empty nesting is a time to clean out clutter and make more space and time for other things. In an attempt to make this task more manageable and palatable, I have been taking on small areas where I can clean out, throw out and organize a drawer, cabinet, corner in a relatively short time…under an hour.

The art cabinet is something we bought when the boyz were small to house the obvious – crayons, colored pencils, paper of all kinds, markers, craft materials, tape, etc. It is where they went when they made cards …they made their own construction paper cards until they were 16 or so. Then I realized – oh yeah, they maybe should send something a tad more sophisticated now  :-0 – especially for thank you notes.  In later years the cabinet has also been home to extra school supplies and some wrapping supplies.

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Just a bit of a mess has accumulated!

 

While I did accomplish my goal of ‘cleaning out’….we have a big bag of things my great niece and nephew might like (oh how happy my niece will be to have more stuff in her house ;)…we have a big bag of things for Steve to take to school for students – binders, looseleaf etc…I was not prepared for the emotions that came with this project.

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Crafts, cards, crayons…oh my!

 

In the midst of pulling all the contents of the cabinet out into a pile on the floor, I felt a huge wave of nostalgia and sadness wash over me. Casey was home for the weekend so I did not expect to be in a mode of missing the boyz. Plus this cabinet is not home to their past art projects or school work (we have bins for that downstairs that I now do not want to go near!) so I just did not think I would go down memory lane. But just seeing their pencil cases with the supplies still in them, some old notebooks with names on the front, and the many half pieces of construction paper as they make cards with only half of the sheet, all brought the memories so close. How many times did we say – ‘go get that from the art cabinet’…’that is in the art cabinet’….’please clean up and put it back in the art cabinet’?  I missed those times. It was also a rainy, dreary day which brought a memory of us all being home, doing crafts, making cards…the boyz running around the house with no thought of going anywhere else, for where else was there to go unless it was with Mom and Pop? There is a simplicity to that time of life that I miss. Yet I also know, as my rational brain is still in check here, that it is not all rainbows and roses…it comes with a lot of care taking, stress, teaching and guiding.

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After saying goodbye to the old….

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Ahhhh…so much nice to access what I want or just to walk by 🙂

It was good to feel the sadness and miss the ‘old days’- even if it did not feel good in the moment.  The feeling has passed through me and now I am on the other side of it…enjoying my cleaned out space! 🙂 And both the sadness of missing the past and the enjoyment of the organization feed the love.

Many blessings,

Suzanne

Life is Cycling

So Steve and I went to the Open House at school last week. I was there to sit at the  Dollars for Scholars table (no, I do not miss open house so much that I had to go back despite having no kids there!). I went to sit in the hall at the DFS table as I waited for my fellow board members who were bringing the supplies and across from me was the Parent Teach Organization table. There was a mom and her 2 elementary aged daughters there and then several other moms came up and talked with them, some of whom were other PTO members.  I am not sure I can adequately describe the feeling I had watching this…I was on the PTO when my boyz were in elementary school, though we called it the PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association)….I remember it vividly – sitting at the cafeteria tables having meetings with way too few people, planning activities for the kids as well as fundraisers….all of the things I now do with the DFS board. I was acutely aware that while I recognized most of the people – we do live in a tiny town- I did not know them and they likely did not know me.

We live in a very small town, my husband is a teacher and I am a therapist at the local health center so we know a fair bit of people – especially at school.  Yet I felt like a stranger in there. And I truly felt like I was watching the cycle of life continue right before my eyes. A place that was integral to the boyz lives and our family’s lives, that felt so familiar and comfortable for the last 13 years, suddenly felt strange and slightly unfamiliar. Yet I could watch and listen as these other families were in the midst of the busyness, the involvement and the social life that is parenting and volunteering when you have a young, active children. The feeling was palpable …I did not feel like crying, but there was a sense of grief, of loss and of time moving regardless of what I am/am not doing.

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Seeing the colors change, as they do each year…going through their own cycle of life

Looking around the halls, it seemed like much more than 4 months since Seamus, Brendan and Casey roamed those halls so fluidly and naturally. They did have a particularly likeable and hard working class so teachers always said how much they would be missed.  As much as we know it is true that people are missed,  we also know people quickly move on….it was surreal to feel it so gutterally. When I went on the 3rd floor, aka, the high school floor, several teachers asked about how the boyz were doing (many know from working with Steve), but the rest of the building was oblivious to our change, to the students that have moved on.  It reminded me of grief – when someone dies and everyone rallies around the family but quickly people get on with their lives while the family is still living the loss every day. While it is not that strong, it is the same sentiment, the same idea that was playing out.

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As some leaves have already passed their time,  others are in their beauty..

When Steve came home we talked about it as he also felt it that night. He has been in school for a month and has not talked a lot about how different it feels without the boyz there. They went to his classroom daily from the time they were in Kindergarten…yet much of his year is different so he has not felt their absence at school as profoundly as he expected.  Until Open House.  Steve had previous students, now married with kids of their own, who came to his classroom to say hello. He was also reminded of the cycle of life, how quickly time moves forward and how especially true this feels in small town America where many do not move away so you see the generations repeating themselves right before your eyes. This is both beautiful and sad- it is reassuring to know life goes on….yet sad that phases that feel so significant to us at some point are just over.

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Turkeys moving thru our front yard…just like the ones who preceeded them last year…

Yet are they over? They do stay within us and shape who we become. We would not be the same if we had stayed in Maryland and never moved here….we would not have been touched by the same people, the same experiences, the same natural environment… So I can know that each one of the boyz is inextricably linked to this place, our home and yes, even the school…and with that they, and we as their parents, can move forward with wonder at what will come next…and with appreciation for what we have had here and what resides within us because of that.

Obsessing

Obsession is a word we use freely to describe many things in a lighthearted way. We ‘obsess’ about a boy in high school,  we become obsessed with a avocados or peanut butter M&Ms,  we are obsessed with a certain kind of music…but true obsession feels different. Obsession is defined as ‘a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling’. It is a struggle to have obsessions and can intrude on your daily life.  I have had a tendency towards obsessive thinking – when my brain catches onto something and does not want to let go even though it is not serving me to continue thinking that way.

quotes, life, and inspiration imageMy obsessions often come in the form of ‘if only’ or ‘what if’. In other words – if I had just done X differently, than things would be so different now or might I say even ‘perfect’ now. So the perfectionist and the obsessive are like friends here. But they are not my friends – they are not adding to or improving my life. They are taking away from my values and what I know to be true. That is, that all we have is the present moment….that I want to be a loving kind presence to those around me, and that we all do the best we can at any given moment.

So how can I change this?  I do my go to practices….meditate and journal..write my gratitude list….practice tapping…talk with Steve (who can always present a positive view on anything)…get feedback from my mom or friend Mary Ellen…go outside…listen to a podcast. Sometimes I feel a shift that lasts for days and other times I have to repeat the above steps every hour or every day depending on the potency of the obsession.

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Focusing on the beauty of nature that surrounds me

For today I am choosing to live in the present. I will work, walk, do a few errands, talk with my mom and get ready for my mom, aunt and uncle’s visit tomorrow. I will see my obsessive thoughts with awareness, acknowledgement that they are there and acceptance that this is a thought but it is not who I am. When I accept, I can shift and it is in that practice that I feed the love.

 

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

BC Parents Weekend

I remember parent’s weekends from when I was in school…..the dinner dance on Saturday night, the out to dinner with mom and dad, and the shopping trip with mom to the mall to get a little something (think 80’s style sweater-lovely!). We also took advantage of having our parents there for a trip to the grocery store for room snacks. I always lived in a dorm with just a small fridge in my room and of all of the 8 girls we lived with, not one of us had a car on campus in all 4 years! Unheard of these days (and actually by senior year it was unheard of in those days as well!)

We went to Casey’s Parents Weekend knowing he was going to be incredibly busy with his band commitments. They had a performance on Friday night at the Boston Pops Gala (fund raiser for scholarships – thank you donors!)  so from class ending til 11pm he was with the band. Saturday was the football game and he had band 7:30am-4:30pm, and Sunday he had a parade 11:30-2pm.  All that to say, we only saw him for dinner Saturday, and for a few minutes before the parade then lunch/ice cream Sunday afternoon before we left.

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We saw more of Casey like this than up close and personal!

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These very cool dancers ‘Sexual Chocolate’ performed during the half-time show – phenomenal! Love their names 😉

We have been beyond blessed to have met the Russells during orientation in July. I was sitting outside after the parent’s group one night, waiting for Steve and everyone had left except this one man sitting on the stone wall a few feet from me. I asked the standard “so do you have a son or a daughter coming to BC?’  He responded in a way that is oh so familiar to me ‘daughters…actually 3, I have triplets and they are all going here’. Coincidence? I think not! We were meant to meet as Paul and Kelley became our fast friends and we have already seen them a few times since then. They have been incredibly generous to us helping us out in getting tickets, parking and this past weekend we stayed with them at their house about an hour from BC. They are down to earth, easy to be around and Casey has become friendly with the girls as well.

 

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Our triplet friends 🙂

Steve’s parents were at their time share in Lenox ,Ma so his dad met us and came over to spend the day – Casey was so excited to see him there ❤ Our friends, The Crotty’s joined us as well since BC was playing Temple, where their older daughter goes to school.  They sat there with their Temple shirts and did not get eaten alive ;)…Katie was smart though and bought a BC t-shirt to be safe!

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Enjoying the game

It was a great game and especially nice since BC won – always a good thing with all those parents and families there for the weekend.

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Our selfies need some improvement !

We tailgated with our friends from LeMoyne and with the Russells friends…

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Casey ran over for a few minutes to our friends’ tailgate

Then headed out to eat…

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Dinner at City Side Grille

We dropped Casey off – he was exhausted so was going to wish his friend a happy birthday and head to bed.

We drove out to the Russell’s house – in a beautiful beach town. My run Sunday morning was so peaceful…

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Not to shabby of a background to my morning run

We chatted with Paul and Kelley and finished up Casey’s laundry (very thankful they let us use their washer/dryer….oh my did his clothes need to be washed!!! ) Interestingly, there were very few pairs of underwear and socks for the length of time it had been since he last did laundry…anyone else with boys who can relate????

We were to pick Casey up for breakfast but lo and behold he was still sleeping….just going to wish his friend a happy birthday turned into a bit of a later night 😉  So Steve and I went to get breakfast and bring bagel sandwiches back to him.

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Amazing bagel shop where Steve had ‘the most incredible bagel sandwich of his life’…with ghost pepper cheese on a sirachi bagel…sweating during breakfast anyone???

We headed to the parade to watch Casey play/march one last time…

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Casey with Dave, his band director

After the parade, we had planned to say goodbye and head out as we were stopping to see Steve’s parents on the way home and had a drive in front of us.  But Casey asked if we could get something to eat and we of course obliged! It is amazing how we spend all of this time with our kids for 18 years…then they leave and we suddenly cling to any time they will give us. That time at lunch ended up being our best connection over the weekend. We were happy to get home late if it was going to give us time with our ‘baby’.  It is funny too that a few months ago, I would be encouraging him to eat veggies and fruit etc but when we see him it is ‘order whatever you want’ with no concern of health, price or any restrictions at all.  It is fun to spoil them  – maybe similar to how a grandparent feels.  So while we still say ‘ try to get some rest’ ‘take care of yourself’, it is SO much different than it was a mere 3 months ago. I do not know when he goes to bed, where he is, who he is with, what he is eating, how often he is showering or washing his sheets (he actually says he does not sleep under the covers so he does not have to wash his sheets…but that begs the question – ‘do you wash your comforter???’) or if he has all of his work done.  This is in some ways a relief and in other ways an anxiety producer. But either way, it is an important step in both our journey and theirs.

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A visit to BC is not complete without a stop here for ice cream – yum!

While we did not see Casey too much, we were grateful to have some time with him .  And it was not hard to leave since he will be home on Friday for the long weekend 🙂

 

I cannot post today without a little shout out ‘Happy Anniversary’ to my one and only…such an amazing life partner…it has been an incredible journey so far and I am excited to see what the next chapter brings. Of course we are starting it out just right – celebrating our 24th with soup and salad at home and early bed – we are exhausted from being away and not up for any special food after eating out all weekend.  Boy we know how to live it up don’t we?! For our 25th we will have to up our game 🙂

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Just a typical day in the life 😉

A fun parents weekend and 24 years of marriage…both feeding the love 🙂

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

 

Hallmark?

In this day of the internet, social media, texting and even emailing, how is Hallmark even keeping afloat? Due to the expense of cards (I have been hard pressed to find a card under $4-5) and time, I have taken to sending most birthday wishes and thoughts by way of text. Adding emojis and confetti make it fun and immediate.  When my boyz were first born I remember my mother-in-law saying ‘Oh Suzanne – you have a year off – no one will expect you to send a card for anything when you have 3 babies to take care of’.  Well that year I was great at sending cards – the boyz were good sleepers so during their naps I could take care of any business like that.  But after that year, I was back to work, naps were shorter, the boyz were on the move….you get the picture. Since then I have had a mental block about getting cards out – I have a belief that I will always be late so naturally …I am always late! It feels like each step of the process is significant…there is :

1-buying the card (which I have to remember when I drive south because there is a limited selection in my town)….

2-writing the card out and addressing it (and potentially having to search for updated address)….

3-stamping the card and getting it to the post office (a mile away but somehow never convenient).

This is how a simple task becomes complicated in my little mind!

So cards have been reserved for some birthdays, sympathy and graduations/special occasions if we attend an event.  But I recently started buying some cards since Seamus started Plebe summer and I thought it would be a way to cheer him up (I can only say so much in letters without boring him to pieces!).  I have sporadically sent some and then to Brendan as well.  I have some for Casey that I will send as a pick me up when there is a stretch where we do not see him.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I called my friend Laura last week when I was feeling particularly sad about the boyz being away.  I received this in the mail the other day and it was such a light for me….

 

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There is something about a physical card, a personal note which is handwritten, not typed, and mail that is a fun surprise (not bills or junk!) that just brightens the day.  So while I am still going to be savvy with my card purchases, I will be aware of the impact they can have on what might be an otherwise down day for someone I love. As frivolous as Hallmark can be…it does feed the love 🙂

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

Bear in Dublin

I was finally able to see Brendan in Dublin over the weekend. My sister-in-law (and Brendan’s godmother), Eileen, graciously agreed to accompany me so we could see how he is doing and what life is like so far for this international college student.

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On our way!

When Brendan came over initially, Steve went with him and saying goodbye at the airport was incredibly heart wrenching for me.  Just knowing how far away he was going, how many challenges he had ahead, and that I would not really know his day to day in any way close to what I have known for the past 18+ years, was hard to conceive of and scary.

Thanks to modern technology, we have had regular contact with Bear since he arrived in Ireland in the beginning of August.  He was there early to get accustomed to things, start rugby practice and settle in a bit before school started.  We are grateful he was able to do that as he has met some wonderful people, spent time with his dad (only a few days) and Granddad (stayed on an extra week) and met some friends of friends, the Gaffneys who have basically adopted him as their own. He also was able to visit our very close friends, the Ring’s, who are there for the year in Killarney.  Of course even with arriving early, some things still are not settled (immigration, school financial details…). The Irish definitely are on a different schedule than we are!

We arrived earlier than expected – 11pm as opposed to 11:45pm.  We caught a taxi to our Air B&B (the owner called that morning saying our room was no longer available and he just had a room with a double bed – we reluctantly took that and he reduced the price for us) and upon arriving entered a room that was pretty small.  The sink in the bathroom looked like the little dentist’s sink that you spit into when they are cleaning your teeth, the shower had NO hot water (eek!) and there was no toilet paper!. I mean really – none? at midnight? Thankfully Eileen had tissues to get us by, the room was clean and warm and the bed felt fine for the 2 of us to share.

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Our first cafe –  there are SO many in Dublin but there are also lots of people to support them all

We met Brendan at lunchtime on Thursday – I cannot express how great it felt to see him. He is my most affectionate boy and big hugs were an absolute! So I will tell the tale of the visit through photos and then recap my emotional journey while there.

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Oh so happy to see my second born 🙂

Exploring Trinity’s campus

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The library is incredible and Harry Potter library was based off of this one…The Book of Kells was not available to view that day but still amazing to see everything this inspiring library full of history

 

St Stephen’s Green is beautiful and just down the road from Trinity…lunch at a local Pub

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With a little time before his next class, we squeezed in Bear’s first Irish haircut. Not quite like the boyz India cuts (amazing and only 50 cents each!) but still good!

Aunt Eileen (GeeGee to her littles) found the Disney store – uh oh!..Bear enjoys some dessert to fuel up before a long wet walk home Thursday night

Friday was the best day by far….a little windy and very short sprinkles and then just cloudy and chilly but we were warm enough to be outside for extended time in our coats. Brendan seemed happy..we had more time together than we had planned (his class was out early and he unfortunately got a concussion last weekend so could not practice Friday night – not good but a bonus for us with time together and he is really fine they are just being extra cautious.) He was relaxed, enjoyed all of the things we did, ate well and said how much he loves doing things like walking on Grafton St, watching street performers, exploring… He much prefers that speed to the party/club scene.

We started the day meeting Brendan’s rugby coach for coffee at ‘The Honey Truffle’ (how cute is that name?!)

Coach Smeeth is truly amazing – so generous with his time, kind, encouraging. It is such a comfort knowing he is there looking after Brendan. Kay is his office manager and is equally friendly and helpful. He treated us to coffee and bought Bear a sausage breakfast sandwich which he insists they need to start making in the States. (like a croissant with sausage in it). We loved the “Honey Truffle’ so much we returned there meeting Brendan for lunch – unbelievable salads with grains, sweet potatoes, beans…right up my alley!

We did lots of walking while Brendan was in class and then met up with him after class for the rest of the afternoon/evening…

Some sights in Dublin

Grafton St is one of those streets with no cars, lots of shops/eateries and street performers

Went to exhibition on Irish Famine – powerful. And this article speaks of missing people who had family in Troy, NY looking for them. Made it even more real

 

Walked through St Stephen’s Green again

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Eileen’s maiden name is Murphy so when we saw this across from our dinner restaurant (Cornicopia – delicious!), we knew it was a must! What different flavors they had! The mix of chocolate and raspberry sorbet on a waffle cone was phenomenal! Dingle Sea Salt is their most popular

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Street performers were amazing

We rounded out the night with a obligatory visit to O’Neill’s Pub for a Guinness. Neither Eileen nor I drink beer so a sip was all we needed and Bear finished it for us (he is legal there!)

My favorite was that they sold hot drinks everywhere – including the Pub!

Saturday was a little more difficult.  Brendan was tired and congested and I am now recognizing the ‘Sunday feeling’ like Seamus had on our 2 visits to him. The energy and excitement of the visit is coming to an end.  Also we went shopping for things he needed for his room and for food- but it was busy and chaotic which is stressful for all of us but particularly Bear who is not a fan of big crowds.  We were successful  in our purchases though and went back to his suite to clean, cook and eat.

We took a tour of Aviva Stadium where the Irish National Rugby and Soccer teams play..Brendan loves it!

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A display of some American teams that have played there….Notre Dame and you guessed it…Navy and Boston College!

Some sights as we walked through Dublin

 

The toy store…and …do you notice a theme here with alcohol????

We ended the day going back to Brendan’s suite to put all of his things away, clean a bit and cook up some food for him….But first – some kitchen cleaning was in order!

Six  18 yr old college guys makes for a messy kitchen space…before and after

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Aunt Eileen relaxes after cleaning…this is in the main room of his suite where the kitchen and dining are – very pretty with nice views.

Bedroom and bathroom cleaner and more organized 🙂

Saying goodbye was painful and sad. The only way I was able to is because I knew I would see him in another couple of weeks (Steve and I planned a trip for what we hope is rugby parents weekend which we had not known about when I planned this current trip).  I cannot even imagine how I will say goodbye after that one since it will be Christmas before I see him again.  Despite the fact that he is 18 and full grown, I think our kids always feel like our children – we can see them as they were as little guys so easily and adjusting to not seeing them every day, not hugging them, not knowing what they are experiencing – is a tremendous adjustment.

I worry about all that he has taken on. He absolutely has what it takes to make this work though and I know that.  Eileen kept reminding me  ‘he is doing great….I cannot believe how well he can navigate that city after only 1 month…his coach is looking out for him and would let you know if anything seriously wrong’.  I am happy for Brendan to be having this international experience that is providing him with ample opportunities to grow emotionally, academically, athletically, and interpersonally.   I am choosing to focus on that and am absolutely feeding the love by doing so.

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

 

 

Feeling The Empty

I guess it is called “Empty Nest’ for a reason.  We have felt blessed to be feeling quite full since the boyz left – enjoying some calmer evenings after work, early bedtimes and getting a few things done around the house that normally would not have happened, (ie cleaning out a drawer or two) while still being busy with visits to the boyz on the weekends. The boyz all seemed to be doing well so far and I just felt blessed more than empty.

But this weekend it finally hit…the feeling we had been anticipating…the empty. This is my only weekend home during the month of September….we were looking forward to being with friends Friday night and then having 2 days to clean out Steve’s shop, relax a bit and pack up for my trip to Dublin (leaving Wednesday :)). I was not prepared to wake up  Saturday morning with that dull ache in my heart, the heaviness in my chest that is sadness and the sense of clouds overhead when it was actually a sunny bright day.  I think the beautiful day made it harder in some ways – I missed the boyz being home….long slow breakfasts outside, mowing the lawns, playing croquet before dinner and barbequing with or without friends over.

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Breakfast and later lunch on the patio

 

Yard work in action 🙂

 

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Chillin at 13th Lake after a hard days work

Steve ended up going up to Long Lake to meet up with some friends for the evening. It hit me even harder then…I was in the house alone (something I usually treasure) and did not even have any pups to keep me company. WOW – this is strange…this is sad…this is lonely…this is empty.

I did the things that I usually enjoy …went for a walk and talked with my mom and my friend Laura who were validating and empathetic, texted some friends, ate dinner without having to feed anyone else. But there was not joy in it, there was not relief in only having to think about myself. I looked at old pictures and wrote to Seamus, and Casey.  I went through some things that I am bringing over to Ireland for Brendan. I read. I had some ice cream. I meditated and wrote in my journal.

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Meditation spot/puja table

So I got through, though I do not feel a whole lot better yet. It is part of the journey. Everyone asked ‘what are you guys going to do when the boyz leave?”.  My response was always the same ‘we have lots of things we want to do. We are looking forward to having some time together, but nothing can prepare us for the feeling that will come with the total shift of energy in our house’.  So that shift of energy is what I am feeling. No hungry mouths to feed, no big piles of laundry to do, no bickering to listen to, no ‘time to get up’, no ‘what homework do you guys have this weekend?’….and no laughter, stories, teen energy, hugs, and just family connection with the 3 boyz I love most in this world.

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I remind myself that they are where they need to be right now. We have had a blessed, full life with them at home. It was messy at times but it was our mess. And always it was filled with love….as is this next phase…filled with love but in a different way. That love travels through the miles to Annapolis, Dublin and Boston.  Love knows no distance, it is eternal and it is ever present.

Even in this distance we can feed the love to each one of them.

Many Blessings, 

Suzanne