Gratitude and Wonders Upon Turning 21

Hello, everyone!

Admittedly, I have barely journaled at all since returning from Europe some weeks ago. Fortunately, this is not due to a depressed lack of motivation, but instead because my mind and heart have felt more stirred and alive than ever!

I feel like I’m finally developing a beautifully well-rounded, passionate, creative existence. I want to share some thoughts on this with you!

Ireland: As a result of early stresses and problems, I spent much of our first weeks and months in Ireland feeling so let down, so disappointed, and so frustrated. I wasted a lot of time on jealousy and regret. Since coming back I’ve realized what a loss that’s been, and so I’ve thrown myself more than ever into breathtaking new travel plans and experiences!

Already, we’ve visited the beautiful sixth century monastic settlement of Glendalough, the gorgeous coastal city of Galway, the green and rocky island of Inis Mor, the cute little city of Cork, and we’ve even gone kayaking and moutain biking in Killarney!

I’m going to blog more about these later – especially Galway/Inis Mor and Cork/Killarney – but for now, I just want to express that I’ve finally, finally fallen in love with Ireland, and I’m so thankful I get the chance to experience it while I can.

Life Perspective: I remember, when I first got back from Paris, I wondered how to translate my flexible, enjoyable, carefree backpacker’s life into my ordinary, hard-working, productive student’s life. Since then, I’ve come to realize the importance of taking time for my own personal fulfillment and hobbies.

Stealing a few moments to talk, relax, walk, and read for fun has made me a happier person and a better, more loving friend and partner. Sometimes it does require a delicate shifting of priorities; sometimes it does necessitate moving a little more swiftly over homework assignments. But the benefits of slowly savoring a book by Patrick Kavanagh over a cup of hot chocolate in a Galway coffeeshop, toes touching Chris’ under the table, is simply irreplaceable and uniquely inspiring. I can afford to buckle down on my efficiency if it means I can come to love and cherish my soul in this way.

Speaking of souls: Maybe it’s the recent joy and observance of Holy Week in Ireland, but every day I feel closer to God, and more receptive to the message and grace of a practicing way of life. I can’t call myself a Christian – I’m not one yet and I don’t know if I would be – but I’m growing, and it’s a powerful journey.

I’ve never felt more alive before, and every day I feel a little bit more enveloped in love. The details of my specific theological viewpoints are still present, of course, but they seem to be taking a backseat to the overall importance of a loving, guided, joyous, community way of life. I’m looking forward to cultivating this further!

Nourishment and fitness: Food, health, and home goals have been so much fun! Chris and I have been fully self-catering for the last few weeks, and I’ve never had more fun with grocery shopping and meals! Planning and carefully selecting meals for the week creates a better, more responsible grocery trip and a connected, less wasteful week. It’s been a blast to pick out dishes and ingredients, cooking often and wasting less. We’re saving a lot of money too!

I’ve also taken up yoga and pilates, and I’ve begun to get serious about walking and/or running every morning. I feel too wonderful to pass up the opportunity to improve my body, my health, my fitness, my shape, and my continued wellbeing and happiness. I’m being given a gift with this life, and I can’t waste it!

As far as home is concerned, we’re beginning the first steps of a long journey towards our dream: living in a fully self-sustaining farm/cottage. That means we’re starting to learn some skills and habits now! Our first goal is to use (and dispose of) way less plastic. I’m really excited to learn!

Summer awesome: Lastly, I’ve gotten some really good news in the past few weeks! First things first, Chris and I have officially nailed down an adorable little studio apartment in the Highland Park area, right next door to Ellen and Adam and Mikayla!

Second, my internship is going to be absolutely awesome – I’m going to be working for Saint Paul Area Council of Churches, the Interfaith Youth Leadership Committee, and the Saint Paul Interfaith Network! Mostly I’m going to be working on developing training packages for area religious communities and working on funding/development for interfaith non-profits. Amazing!!

And best, best, best, best, best, BEST of all – I won a position with the 2010 summer collaborative research program! I am going to be spending all summer doing the legwork and drafting my senior honors’ thesis: “Crosses of Straw and Stone: Brigid and Cultural Narratives of Irish Catholic Observance and Heritage”. It’s going to be SO exciting and such an amazing, learning, growing, awesome time! This summer is going to be great!

So, thank you, life. Thank you, universe. Thank you, love. Thank you God, whatever you may be. I love everything and I am so, so, so grateful to be alive for these twenty-one beautiful years!

Up next, I’m going to be putting up some posts and pictures about our recent adventures in Glendalough, Galway, and Cork. Between working really hard on homework this week and going to the Guinness Factory this weekend, it might be a little while in coming, so please be patient! Thanks!

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