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Apparently I am that kind of person.

July 2, 2019 | Blog | 2 Comments

A little while ago I was talking with a dear friend about staying in hostels. She said she was never one of those people who can make a new friend and then you see them post something about “this cool place I went with my new best friend.” I’m not that kind of person either, I agreed.

I was wrong.

I just spent my day with a super cool hippie from the south west corner of Ireland. I mean a literal Birkenstock-wearing, dreadlock-having hippie.

Geraldine and I started talking in the hostel kitchen last evening. She was headed to Kylemore Abbey in the morning. It’s a 5-minute drive or a 50-minute walk along a narrow, windy road. So I asked her if I could hitch a ride with her in the morning. Her 56-year-old self and my 38-year-old self laughed like giddy girls at finally getting to see this beautiful place when we arrived in her car this morning.

This was a great moment for me because as a teenaged girl, I bought a poster of Kylemore Abbey from Hastings in Yukon, OK. That poster hung on my wall for years. And now I was seeing it for myself.

This was a great moment for Geraldine because after her father passed two years ago she became very depressed. She made a list of things she wanted to see and the Abbey was one of them. “And you’re here today Geraldine. With a big smile on your face,” I said to her.

Geraldine and I after our day together.

We toured the house and walked the enormous walled-garden. She pointed out plants she knew and told me stories. I did the same except with less knowledge of flowers and vegetables. When I mentioned mint tea is my favorite, she told me about the chocolate mint growing outside our hostel.

After our lovely day together Geraldine kindly dropped me back at the hostel before she headed on to her next destination. We exchanged addresses and promised to send each other a post card.

Here’s to you Geraldine.

Mint tea made from the mint growing at the hostel. Delicious!

Birthdays Abroad

June 7, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

In my social media profile and on this blog, I try to maintain a positive but real vibe. I am not a fan of the “show you’re awesome stuff all the time” because there’s a boatload of research on social media, comparison, and the damage it can do. Aside from the research, I’ve felt it. You probably have too. I do not like the possibility of contributing to that. But laying it out there on rough days is just a tad more difficult….

It’s very interesting for me to note that in moments of vulnerability, my “I’m going to talk about the good and the bad” tendency starts to falter. Like everyone, I want to hide on the rough days.

Birthdays can be a bit of a trigger for me. It’s when I need friends around to celebrate and enjoy the wonderful, fabulous community of friends I am lucky to be a part of. There have been a couple of years where I didn’t have that and it was a tad depressing.

So I knew that if I wasn’t careful, my birthday last weekend was going to make me sad. Yes I’m living my dream of living in Ireland. Yes it’s awesome. But it’s also sometimes lonely.

It helped that last week included seeing several people I can now safely call friends. But that doesn’t replace hanging out with all my wonderful peeps that I really miss. Damn I miss ya’ll.

Part of choosing happiness is making it easier for yourself to choose happiness. So planning a few activities was a must if I wasn’t going to be sad on my own birthday.

Who doesn’t want a super weird painting of themselves to commemorate their birthday?!?

After painting I headed home for a 2 hour “it’s-my-birthday-and-I-can-indulge” 2-hour nap. Which made it easier to enjoy a late night at the pub hanging out with a few friends. By coincidence, they happened to have planned a get together on June 1. I didn’t bother mentioning my birthday. I don’t like the obligatory “Oh it’s your birthday!” moment nor do I want people (kindly) buying me alcohol that will likely go beyond my limit.

I forget that cold glasses sweat when you’re not in a dry climate.

My 21st birthday happened to fall at the end of my study abroad tour in college. I was alone in Paris. I went to Versailles, called my parents from a payphone (remember those?), and had a dessert of champagne-soaked strawberries in a Paris cafe.

Having that birthday alone didn’t bother me then. Not sure what that says about my 21-year-old psyche versus my thirty-mumble psyche. Or today’s culture and it’s effect on how we feel about ourselves. I’ll ponder that and get back to you.

In either case, I had a lovely birthday. Even if I miss my friends and family, I’m in freaking Ireland!

I Have Friends!!!

June 2, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

I may be in introvert but I need people in my life. As the thrill of I’M IN IRELAND! I DID IT! has begun to wear off, there have been a few lonely evenings. I knew that would happen so I have been pretty dedicated to going to meetups and the like.

I will not be this girl. For several reasons….

That means I’ve introduced myself a hundred times. It’s a little hard to convince yourself that you want to go to a new group and do it yet again. It’s also hard to convince yourself to go to events alone. It doesn’t bother me too much but it was/is starting to get old.

But – it’s paying off!

Last week, I’ve was invited to a dinner party in early June, attended my first Iftar (sunset meal breaking the day’s fast for Ramadan) at a friend’s house, had a night out with my former AirBnb hosts, and ran into a friend at my new coworking office. And I’ve made friends with a couple who frequents Edinburgh so I’ve even started a community in Scotland for when I move there Aug-Oct.

One thing about being alone in another country- you start to really appreciate things like invitations or accidental run-ins with friends. We take these things for granted, forgetting that they make us smile and feel welcome.

Speaking of Coworking Spaces, What’s all the Fuss About?

I did not previously understand what I might gain by paying for an office to go to when I had a desk at home. I have a dedicated office at home in Denver. A desk in my bedroom here in Dublin is not the same. A coworking office membership has allowed my to separate work from life. It has provided additional focus and motivation as well as a much-appreciated community.

The enhanced focus and motivation to get work done without attending to distractions hopefully means this endeavor will pay for itself. But the community aspect is almost priceless in a city where I know so few people. Something as little as having a chat with the front desk staff in the morning becomes quite meaningful. Not to mention free pizza and beer on the last Friday of the month.

People from Everywhere

I have made friends from Turkey, Algeria, France, Italy, and of course Ireland. It is my hope that at least some of these connections will continue through the future. Either way, I am meeting and learning from some pretty cool people. I’ve met people who’ve moved here for love, for work, for school. And just because.

Denver is an Ace in the Hole

The Irish and many others know the US well enough to know Colorado is cool. I usually get a delighted “Oh you’re from the Denver” reaction and have been told my American accent is fun to listen too. Many have not been to Denver but love the idea of skiing or hiking in the mountains.

The Downside

I’m bummed that I’ll have to leave Dublin in July and start again in Scotland. I wanted to stay in Ireland for six months but couldn’t find a (cost-effective) way around the 90-day tourist limit. Edinburgh is beautiful and I found other reasons to be happy to go there as well. Far be it from me to complain about any little snags in an otherwise amazing adventure.

What do you Want to Fail Gloriously at?

May 26, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Open a coffee shop? Make it big as a Broadway star? Invent the next Wonder Mop?

I like the question of what you would do if you couldn’t fail. Thing is, having your answer doesn’t take away the possibility of scary idea of failure.

Instead, what would you do if you know you might fail? What to do want so much that you are willing to fail for it?

Let’s say you would love to fail gloriously at trying to be a Broadway star. You save up, take acting, singing, and/or dancing lessons and go to NYC for a few months. You get to the Big Apple and stop to think “I’m really trying this!”

You manage to get a few auditions. Maybe you blow it, maybe you do OK. Statistically speaking, you don’t get any parts and go home after your stint in The Greatest City in the World.

You tried. You failed. Whee!

If by some crazy chance an agent sees you and starts you on a path to Broadway brilliance, all the better.

But probably not.

So what did you get for your time and money spent on acting lessons? What did you get for paying NYC’s exorbitant rent costs for a few months? Not stardom.

Instead, you learned that you have the power to direct your own life. The ability to set a goal and go after it. You were a brilliant failure and an inspiration to others considering their own crazy goal. And you probably learned many other things on your way to failure. If you learned anything at all there is no real failure.

So…what do you want to fail gloriously at?

On Housemates

May 18, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

Until now, Daniel is the only person I’ve lived with (other than my parents, obv). People are often surprised to hear I didn’t do the housemate thing in college.

As an only child who had a choice in college, I knew then that having a roommate or living in a house full of people wasn’t for me. I attended a college that was primarily a commuter college so it wasn’t too hard to avoid this. I know my dad was afraid I was missing out on in important experience. And he was probably right.

I may have missed out on a “right of passage” but I feel I’ve collected enough experiences in the world to make up for that. When I was younger I was afraid to venture out much. Risk-aware is the nice way to put it. Not so much any more.

Anywho, back to life as an adult with housemates. As an only child, I gave those roommate horror stories a lot of consideration and decided it wasn’t for me.

As seen on “Roommates from Hell”
More roommates from hell.

I spent the first year of college commuting and it worked well. After that year I got an apartment of my own near campus. I loved living by myself. I could set my own schedule, not worry about being a nuisance to a sleeping roommate, etc.

But now I’m a 30-something living with 5 housemates. And I love it. Being in a house full of adults who are friendly, ask about your day, and then go about their lives is pretty great.

My semester abroad is a bit late. I have housemates in my 30s. I know I’m doing things out of order. But it’s better that way I promise.

My life looks more like the photo above than below. So I think I’m doing it right.

Also, searching for “bad roommate” pictures is just fun….

Holy Crackers, ya’ll. I did it.

April 20, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

It’s a little anticlimactic but there’s been no one moment of “VICTORY IS MINE!” Instead, there have been lots of little moments of accomplishment. When I bought an airplane ticket last November. When I booked my AirBnB in January 1 this year (an auspicious start if ever there was one). Of course, these moments are interspersed with times of “well, crap there’s a housing crisis in Dublin” and “I can only stay 90 days in Ireland, what do I do the rest of the time?”

The goal was 6-9 months abroad. I knew 9 would really be pushing it. I figured if I said 6-9 I’d be more likely to make it to 6 months. I wanted the full time to be in Ireland but as I looked for ways around the tourist stamp with a 90-day maximum, I found Scotland to be a fortuitous alternative.

Mom and I fell in love with beautiful Edinburgh 2 years ago.

(Not so) Little Victories

Landing in Dublin on a sunny day, having a pleasant cab ride to my AirBNB, and meeting my wonderful hosts felt more monumental than if this were a vacation. It was making a reality of a 3-year-old goal. And it meant discovering my home (for a little while).

But of course this victory was only temporary. I had three weeks in my AirBnB to find a place to stay for two months thereafter. So began the apartment (or flat) search.

Whee, I found one!

There is a well-publicized housing crisis in Dublin, with rents DOUBLING in the last 7 years. Tax incentives have brought Facebook, Microsoft, Dell, Google, and more to make Dublin their European headquarters or at least a major office location. So finding a room could have been a serious stumbling block.

Turns out I’m a perfect fit for a house full of med students, with a couple of them heading home for two months between their exams and starting internships. They’re a friendly lot, with one American in the bunch.

So, what’s the point?

I can’t believe things have gone so well and I am so lucky. But I do believe that you create your own luck. I believe in smart bets.

I know not everything will go smoothly on this trip. But hopefully preparation will put me in a good place to deal with challenges as they come. I believe growth happens outside your comfort zone, which includes dealing with it when things go wrong.

But until they do, I’m sticking with this feeling- Holy crackers ya’ll. I did it!

Jet Lag & Cousin Eddie

April 13, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

I’ve decided jet lag is the Cousin Eddie of International travel. You know it’s coming (even if Clark doesn’t), it’s more annoying than dangerous, and it can’t go away quickly enough.

No Surprise Here

I slept on the plane, stayed up until 11pm local on my first night, and tried to prepare myself for this. Unlike Clark, I was not surprised to be visited by jet lag. But it still sucks.

Jet lag- even if you know it’s coming, you can’t possibly prepare yourself enough to make the visit pleasant.

Not dangerous until combined with volatile substances

Knowing jet lag and overstimulation would be an issue, I only set one goal for my first day. A pint of Guinness. Besides, I wanted to stay up until at least 10pm local rather than going to bed at 8pm. So I went out for a pint. Then I was gifted a second “welcome to Ireland” pint. Can’t say no to that right?


Jet lag, airplane dehydration plus 2 pints of Guinness made for a headachy morning. This was not a real nice surprise.

Once out of bed I felt great. Of course, that was at 2pm local. I got up at 11:30am local today so progress is being made…?

It Can’t Go Away Fast Enough


“Don’t you go falling in love with [the RV] now, because, we’re taking it with us when we leave here next month.”

It’s only day 3 and I’m slowly adjusting. The nice thing is that I actually have time to adjust. One advantage to jet lag is that I can explore the night life without feeling like an old lady who’s ready for bed.



Opportunity Cost

April 7, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

Well folks, I’m mostly packed for this crazy 6-month adventure. I’m excited but also keenly aware that I’m missing good stuff back here in the US.

The opportunity cost of this is the among highest I’ve ever paid. I will miss Daniel, my family, my friends, and my bunnies. I will miss out on fun experiences with all of them for the next 6 months.

The days before a vacation are always stressful as you try to fit in everything. I’m not going to Mars or anything but knowing it will be six months before I can do this stuff again is…weighty.

This part is really hard. I want to see all my peeps and still be able to spend quality time with my husband and bunnies. Also pack. And continue to build my coaching practice. And maybe sleep.

Time is always precious

Like many people, Randy Paush’s The Last Lecture stuck with me. If you have never seen it or read it, for the love of all that’s great in this world, please do so. He asks  “Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.” Poignant words words from a man who knew he had terminal cancer.

Only when we are pressed for time do we push aside time wasters to prioritize what’s really important. But here’s the real deal- WE ARE ALWAYS PRESSED FOR TIME.  I don’t mean we’re all super busy. I mean you have a limited number of days to spend doing what’s precious to you.

So where does that leave me?

I am taking away time from all of the people who are precious to me. The weight of that could be crushing (some moments, it is). But doing this one big thing is also precious to me. Pausche’s lecture is about spending time with loved ones but it’s also about achieving your childhood dreams. And this is mine.

Remember this poster from the 90’s? It’s Kylemore Abbey in Ireland. It was on my teenage bedroom wall for years.

The “childhood dream” element lessons the guilt but does not erase the reality of my choice.

Coping with Opportunity Cost

There is an opportunity cost for everything you choose. However, we only notice the cost-side of the equation when what we lose is also something we also wanted. Deciding between a day-old cold burger versus Five Guys hot-in-the-bag burger? No problem. Five Guys vs Smashburger is a bit more of a toss up. *Note to self: eat at Five Guys before leaving.

Trading Awesome for Awesome

In her memoir What I was Doing While You Were Breeding, Kristen Newman talks about being somewhat sad to fall in love and settle down. “Thank God I’m sad about changing my life. It means I’m trading awesome for awesome.”

In other words, difficult choices are a sign of multiple good options. If we only notice opportunity cost because there were two (or more) good choices, that means we had the luxury of two good choices. Lots of people are not so lucky. So make your choice, be happy about it, move on.

On that note, I board a plane to London in less than 48 hours. Eek!

Moving to Ireland (briefly)

March 17, 2019 | Blog | 4 Comments

I have a one-way airplane ticket to Dublin, Ireland on April 9th.

Don’t worry, I’ll come back to Denver. Just not until October….

I’m calling it a “workcation.” I don’t fit into the trendy term “digital nomad” as I still have a home in Denver. Also, this is not an excuse to lay around drinking Guinness for months. I will be working from home. But “home” is an apartment in Dublin.

You may have questions. Here are the ones I am most frequently asked.

So what happens when you get there?

I have an AirBNB staying with a nice couple for my first three weeks. I will spend that time looking for a shared apartment with other young(ish) professionals for a few months after that. This is quite common in Dublin.

You’re married…?

This is the question I get most often. Sometimes it’s not even a question but a sticking point. Yes, Daniel are happily married. But we are still two separate, complete entities who love each other generously. We’ve known each other since we were 16. It’ll give us something new to talk about (over Skype).

When I cooked up this crazy scheme a few years ago I asked if he wanted to come. He said no. He didn’t want to be away for that long, doesn’t share my fascination with European history, and understood that doing this alone would be a different journey for me. So he is holding down the fort. For which I am eternally, enormously, colossal-gigantically grateful. And he will come visit.

Why so long?

I was a little obsessed with Ireland as a kid. A vacation there isn’t enough. I want to know the people, customs, sorrows and joys. And I want to live in a foreign place to find out how it will challenge and change me.

When I moved to Denver I could not have imagined all the ways I would grow as a result. If I had stayed in Oklahoma probably wouldn’t have taken up rock climbing, figure skating, or hiking. I would not have climbed 14ers and done all sorts of cool Colorado stuff.

I want to know- How will living in Ireland change me?

Bourdain

Why Europe?

I’ve always regretted not doing a semester abroad when I was younger. I did a study abroad tour of continental Europe for 3 weeks and it was the best experience of my college career.

I grew up thinking all Americans wanted to visit Europe as desperately as I did. This is probably due to a Western-centric education and view of the world (I’d like to expand to more knowledge of the East eventually).

When I read Little Women I experienced Jo longing for “my Europe” and Amy’s delight in going with Aunt March. From King Arthur, Joan of Ard, Catherine de Medici, or Robin Hood, I was fascinated with that part of history and the world.

Moving to IreHow did you pick Ireland?

More than anywhere else in Europe, I latched on to Ireland as a kid. I’m just old enough to remember some of the Troubles. I also have a long-standing attachment to the Underdog. Ireland fought their way to full independence after 800 years of oppression by the British. Of course then it took quite a long time to solve the Troubles with Northern Ireland. I admire that the Irish NEVER give up.

Unfortunately my tourist visa only lasts 90 days so a jaunt over to Scotland will do nicely. Maybe for a month, maybe for 3. Not sure yet.

Are you concerned about safety?

I am a woman traveling alone, which I quite enjoy. From a few days in Paris when I was 20 to a few days in Rome two years ago, I know I’ll enjoy setting my own pace.

There are many single women, younger than myself, who live and work in Dublin without incident. The crime index in Dublin is lower than Denver and the safety scale is higher (source). And not to get too political but gun control is a thing over there. About 1 in 100,000 die a gun-related death in Ireland each year. It’s 12 times higher in the US (source). I’ll likely be just fine.

What about the bunnies?

They would not enjoy the plane ride and Daniel needs company. He is an amazing bunny dad and when the chips are down his judgement is better than mine. I just get all panicked and weepy. This part is difficult for me but I can’t imagine a time in my life with no pets so it is what it is. They will be in the best of hands.

What other questions do you have? Ask away!

Reality Check, part 2

March 3, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

About a month ago I wrote about some of the challenges of being self-employed. I’m happy to say that I’ve made some progress. Though not as much as I’d like. ‘Cause what’s the fun in that?

Accountability

Then: I’m looking into a life coach that “specializes in building your business.”
Now: I found and hired a coach and she’s already been helpful in getting me moving towards my goals.
Status: On track.

Mornings are terrible productive

img_20190303_220920-1
Then: Instead of a”year-long journals seem like tempting the God of Lost Things and Forgotten Aspirations, etc. I [made] a 66 day commitment” to more disciplined mornings.
Now: The first week went really well. I got up each morning to meditate, do deep knee bends while brushing my teeth, etc. Then I went to VA to deliver a workshop. I need to work on the whole “do it every day no matter what” part….
Status: Progress made, needs more work.

Gold stars for grown ups

img_20190303_222604
Then: “I got a wall calendar and pretty sticky notes. The stickies are for (weekly, not daily) tasks and such and go on my lovely new wall calendar.”
Now: I’m a week behind in my “purge the house” chores but I’m pretty sure I’m doing better than I would be without the calendar.
Status: Progress made, needs more work.

Internet, go away for a bit

Then: ” I’ve installed StayFocused, a free Chrome plugin that lets you set a limit to how much time you can spend on” time-wasting website.
Now: Uh…I forgot I installed it until writing this. How’s that for honesty? But the business coach and calendar with To Do items (aka Gold stars for grown ups) have helped me stay more focused.
Status: Improving, needs more work.

Conclusion

I may be early on in my “soloprenuer” journey, but I’m pretty sure these are things that will required continued effort. I suppose that’s why these are called habits and not cures.