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Ancestral Home

7.31.21

Ancestral Home

I grew up in a family that barely acknowledged let alone celebrated its Irish ancestry. Casey and Cronin blood flowed through the branches of my father’s family tree, but my understanding of our heritage was limited to tongue-in-cheek faith in leprechauns and shamrocks, love of beer and potatoes, and devotion to wearing green on St. Paddy’s Day.

Ireland’s culture and history were not part of my education. I did not know that the Irish people spoke their own language prior to British colonization. That they created a unique style of music, art, storytelling, and dance. That their Celtic folk tales, myths, and pagan mysticism predated Christianity. That a potato famine caused millions to starve, die, or emigrate.

Such superficial understanding of my ancestral roots changed after traveling to Ireland when I was a college student.

Upon arrival in Dublin, I remember feeling an uncanny sensation of “home.” It was notable because home was never a physical location for me. My parents lived like nomads, moving the family seven times before I was thirteen. Wherever we lived was where we lived until we lived somewhere else.

This feeling of at-homeness was new. And I experienced it the moment I debarked from the plane. There is no rational explanation, but perhaps one memory from my trip offers a clue.

It was early evening. Cobh (pronounced “Cove”), a small coastal port in County Cork, was our last stop of the day. The winter sun was starting to set so there was little time left to enjoy the view. Stepping off the tour bus we separated ourselves into smaller groups and scuttled along the shoreline.

Despite the boisterous lightheartedness of my cohorts, I felt solitary, quiet, and somewhat wistful. The surrounding jibber-jabber receded from my ears as a pungent fishy smell got tangled in my nose hairs. Brightly colored buoys dotted the sand, like breadcrumbs paving a path to nowhere. A dilapidated wooden boat listed against the ragged rocks. Perched there, I suspect, after losing its wrestling match with an Atlantic temper tantrum.

Dense fog was rolling in. A clammy shroud enveloped me as I peered across the brooding ocean that blended seamlessly with the sky. A heavy weight pressed upon my shoulders. I could not see too far into the distance. Still, I was transfixed by what I saw.

Distinct outlines of a very old ship appeared through the mist. It was sailing away from the shore toward the horizon. The vessel, faintly visible, was as grey as the water and sky. Inexplicably, I “knew” it was transporting people desperate to flee the potato famine of the 1800’s, in search of a better life in America. Goosebumps prickled my skin. I was spellbound. I felt certain my ancestors were aboard that boat!

Were the fairies playing tricks?

Waves of emotion swelled and threatened to capsize me. I turned away from the scene and my companions, trying to hide the torrent about to gush. Without speaking aloud, I admonished myself to get a grip. It was ridiculous to feel these feelings, to think I had seen something real. I choked off the welling tide of tears and focused on my friends.

Luckily, they hadn’t noticed my inner turmoil. Their playful banter continued unabated. Tears quelled, I shrugged off the gloom and joined their fun.

Months later, researching Irish emigration for a term paper, I discovered pictures of “coffin ships” that were used to transport Irish emigrants during The Great Famine. They were called coffins because of the rampant disease and death that plagued the passengers aboard. The images startled me. They were identical to the ship I had seen that day at Cobh!

I don’t know if what I saw was a freak psychic vision or simply spontaneous imagination. But I can say with certainty that the moment forever altered my perception of who I am and where I come from.

Proudly I wear the chains of my forebears, the ties that bind me forever to The Emerald Isle. The Land of Magic, Beauty, Charm, Creativity, Wit, Soul, Struggle, and Privation.

Ireland vibrates within every cell of my being.

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The River

7.23.21

The River

Being stuck is an illusion
The river never ceases to move
No obstacle can impede its motion
It’s impossible to stem its flow

The river knows its destination
It requires no guidance from us
Our mental gyrations are merely distraction
From hearing its water fall

Why not jump in?
Relax in the life raft and float
Follow the current wherever it leads
Perhaps, even enjoy the ride!

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Writing Contest Feedback

7.22.21

Due to travel, social re-emergence, and relentless contractor intrusions, writing has been dormant the past few weeks. But I want to share the outcome of the Fiction Writing contest I entered a few months ago.

Sadly, I did not make the second round of the contest. But, I received a personal critique from the three judges and was buoyed by their very positive feedback on my storyline, character development, and wit. They also offered good suggestions for improvements to consider.

Perhaps a tiny bit disappointed, I remain interested in writing and will continue onward. Stay tuned….

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Jen

My friend, Jen, recently passed away. I wanted to talk to her one last time.

7.6.21

Jen

Our friendship was new
But our souls connected
You touched my life

Your qualities left their imprint
Humility, Courage, Tenacity
Wit, Grace, Authenticity

I will always remember you

When my sails were torn and tangled
And stormy seas thrashed me about
You threw me a life preserver

Thank you

When we last spoke you said
You don’t have to be cured to be healed
You knew you were healed

That comforts me now

I smile, thinking of you hanging with the angels
Chuckling at our earthly chaos and confusion
Grinning your Cheshire Cat grin

I won’t say goodbye, but farewell
Fare well in your new life, my friend
I pray we meet again one day

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Mea Culpa!

7.4.21

To those who read my piece on Freedom yesterday, I want to apologize. I later regretted posting it. The words were true, but the feel was negative, and just because something may be true, it doesn’t have to be thrown out into the world. I recognize the power of words to heal or harm, and I want to uplift not depress my readers! So, the post is trashed and I start anew. If I caused offense to anyone, please forgive me. I was caught up in a moment of despair over the state of play in our country. But I don’t want to be one more person putting negative feelings into the world. A lesson learned…

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I want something BIG to happen!

7.1.2021

This piece was written for the “manifestation” workshop I am taking. The exercise was to describe an experience of manifesting something in my life through a passionate but unspecific wish or intention. This experience was my example. I submitted the essay for potential publication on the teacher’s web site.

I Want Something BIG to Happen!

Adrift at age twenty-four, I was living in Washington, D.C. surfing temp jobs to pay rent. One day, walking into Georgetown, my feet halted mid-step as an energetic surge coursed through my body. Six passionate words arose from the depths of my being: “I want something BIG to happen!”

The statement’s ferocity startled me. I didn’t even know what I meant by these words. But they vibrated with clarity and truth.

Shortly after that stunning declaration, one of my roommates came home and handed me a slip of paper containing a name and phone number. Apparently, the White House was seeking someone to screen press calls for one of President Reagan’s senior staff.

I had zero interest in politics, but I did need a stable job.

And what a job it was! I worked on the second floor of the West Wing, directly above the Oval Office, among government’s most powerful leaders. In addition to the perks and privileges of that position, I catapulted from subsistence to abundance overnight.

Uttering those nebulous words just weeks earlier, I could not have envisioned something THIS big happening to me! Political aspirants were plentiful in D.C., and many already had vied unsuccessfully for that job. For some inexplicable reason, the Universe decided to place it in my lap.

This experience taught me at a young age that claiming something with intensity, even without knowing how the desire will be met, can nudge life to respond in miraculous ways.

The White House gig was great, but after a few months, I was offered something even more exciting: the chance to work at the US Mission in Vienna, Austria! Living and traveling in Europe at the age of twenty-five was one of the most impactful and rewarding experiences of my life.

Recalling how the magic of those six little words manifested two amazing life opportunities, I marvel at the magnanimous generosity of the Universe.

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The Traveler

6.29.21

The Traveler

We arrive in the world
With personalized luggage
A unique blend
Of blessings and burdens

A daunting mixed bag
We may choose not to open
Denial much easier
To reject, shun, toss away

Some adventurous souls
Tiptoe closer
Unclasp the latch, peer inside
To investigate what lies within

They find amidst the finery
Some dirty laundry there
The traveler’s task
To air, wash clean, then hang out to dry

Our baggage, a container
Of holiness and fallibility
Suns of joy, wells of sorrow
Perhaps our friend, perhaps not

We choose the road we travel

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The Creative Process

6.24.21

The following is an essay that emerged this morning when posing a question to myself that I lifted from a beautiful book by Hope Koppelman called “The Gifts of Writing:”

What life lessons have I learned through my creative process?

I have learned to trust myself, my intuition, my inner promptings. To open to inspiration from the creative Source. Entering this mystical realm excites me. It is my greatest joy and delight.

Creating something, anything, makes me feel alive, connected to God, at peace, in harmony. Regardless of what may be happening “out there,” when I create something the day is automatically good, complete, worthwhile.

Creativity unveils my true nature. It is the place where I feel free to be unrestrained, fully myself. When creating, I am most genuine, authentic, and real.

The creative process prompts me to face fear: fear of nothing being there, fear of not being able to create something worthy, beautiful, inspirational, fear of exposure, fear of rejection, ridicule, diminishment.

Creativity requires courage, discipline, willingness to fail, eternal hope for success, a love of inquiry, discovery, the play of trial and error. A willingness to confront obstructions and limitations. A willingness to throw it out and start over.

I have learned the value of speaking my truth, regardless of who may or may not wish to hear it. I always search for my own truth, to see it reflected in the works I create.

I have mustered the courage to reveal my work to others. It becomes easier each time. My desire to share is always greater than my need for safety. It is wonderful to discover that others value and are inspired by my work. That is deeply rewarding.

I honor my creative drive and give it center stage in my life. It flies me to the spiritual heights but also roots me more firmly in the world.

For me, creativity is the most direct pathway to Self, to God. It provides the opportunity to manifest without what resides within. It is life’s magic. It is a gift and a privilege.

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The Space Between

6.23.21

The Space Between

The space between
What was
What is
What will be

What was…
A hazy recollection
A wistful memory
A fading dream

What is…
A bottomless crevasse
A freefall
Without a foothold

What will be…
A blank page
Whose story is not yet written
Unknown, unknowable

There is no going back to what was
We are landlubbers in search of sea legs
What will be is anyone’s guess

The space between
Vast, infinite, without form
Awaits our decision

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Summer Solstice

Anticipating tomorrow….

6.20.21

Summer Solstice

A wistful, sad moment
I cling
Savoring sunlight, warmth, languid hours

Ironic
The longest day introduces summer
Yet presages summer’s end

Fall is on the march now

Perched precariously on a pinpoint
I ponder
The seasons of Life

I understand anew
The fleeting nature of it all

We can hold onto nothing

The infinite ocean
Ebbs and flows
Eternally In motion

All we can do
Is breathe in and out
Strive for balance

Teetering on the fulcrum