Tag Archives: Experiences

Missing Ireland.

7 Nov

Ireland-Summer 2012

I’ve been missing Ireland recently, and with that strong sense of missing I am filled with a sense of hope….hope that I found another place I love and hope that one day I will return to a place that showed me what it is to feel truly alive. My 5 weeks studying abroad in Ireland this past summer were the hardest and best 5 weeks I’ve ever had. Heck, I made the decision to spend 5 full weeks in a foreign country where I didn’t know a single person beforehand. Thankfully, I could speak the language, though at times the accents took some getting used to (no matter how much I loved them). I experienced things I never dreamed: I climbed to the top of an Irish castle, I sat in numerous pubs and enjoyed traditional Irish music, which the locals called “trad,” I experienced the horror and excitement of having to remember which direction traffic was coming from, I enjoyed Bulmer’s Hard Cider to my heart’s content, and I made some of the most incredible friends. For the first time, I really did take a bite out of life. Actually, I ate the whole dang cake!

A quote from Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy sums up my experience perfectly:

“Sometimes the briefest moments capture us, force us to take them in, and demand that we live the rest of our lives in reference to them.”

True Writing Lies In Vulnerability.

29 Mar

“Your task is not to seek love, but to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”-Rumi

I came across this quote by Rumi this morning, and for a while, I just sat and stared at it. Do you ever come across those quotes that seem to say what’s in your heart better than you’re able to say it yourself? Well, this quote did that for me this morning. Through the process of writing my book, I’ve broken down a lot of barriers inside myself. Barriers that housed the pain, the fear, the details of the really hard memories. Now that the barriers are slowly being bulldozed to the ground, my true self is showing. I kept so much hidden for so long, and now that everything’s being exposed, I feel so vulnerable. It’s scary to think that through my writing everyone will be able to see so much more. They’ll see all the pieces, rather than just the parts that are relatively put together.

Though allowing others to see all that I went through is a big part of writing this book, it means that I’m pouring out every memory, every ounce of pain and fear, to put myself in an extremely vulnerable position. Last year in my Freshman English class, my professor (Dr. Cox), who is now one of my writing mentors, pointed out that reaching the point of vulnerability in our writing was the best place to connect with others, and ultimately, who we truly are. Dr. Cox also told me that writing isn’t “true” unless it costs the writer something. Though I understand what Dr. Cox means, it’s scary to know that by sharing so many details of my life, strangers are going to get a picture of who I truly am, inside and out. Though I have no doubt that putting myself in a vulnerable position will allow others to better connect with who I truly am, I feel like I’ll no longer have certain memories that are mine and mine alone.

However, through this book, I want to connect. I want to show other kids and families that have kids with Cerebral Palsy that they are not alone. I want to show them that I’ve been there and I understand. However, to do that I must break down all these walls in order to share the memories that will put me in the most vulnerable position possible. However, though vulnerability is scary, it’s also raw, true and the most honest portrayal of myself I can provide to my readers.

Tuesday’s Tunes: Dulling The Pain With Alan Jackson.

20 Mar

On the drive up to Shriner’s Hospital for my second surgery in 2003, my mom and I stopped at Best Buy so that I could get a new cd as a present. I picked Alan Jackson’s Greatest Hits Volume Two. From the time until I bought that cd until I went into the operating room for my second surgery (and afterwards), that cd played in my Walkman. Now, when I hear a song from that album, I think of how I replayed that cd in order to drown out fear. I remember my roommate at Shriner’s, Jocelyn, and her bouncy blonde curls and heavy southern accent. I remember how Jocelyn and I would go to the computer room down from our room and play Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, laughing at how much money we “won” or “lost.”

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned how specific songs have brought me back to a specific moment, a specific time in my life. But in terms of the Alan Jackson album, I’m not only reminded of specific memories, I’m reminded that music could also make me happy. Though my parents most likely got sick of the fact that I listened to that cd on repeat for months, it dulled the pain in a way. Or rather, it brought a small smile to my face in between the grimaces of pain. When I think of the Alan Jackson cd though, I remember how it didn’t take me long at all to memorize the words. I remember listening to it as Jocelyn wished me luck in surgery, and then later learned that she had been discharged while I was in surgery, but chose to not go home until after my surgery to make sure that I was okay. Or as okay as could be expected. I remember the good things. The things mixed in with the bad that reminded me to keep trying even though all I wanted to do was cry.

I’m beginning to see that not all the memories in my book will be sad. As I push through the really bad ones, I’m reminded of the good ones (from the hospital)….like dulling the pain with Alan Jackson, my first hospital roommate (Ginny), the benefits of craft night, the weekly visit of the therapy dogs, the ICU nurses….and more that I can’t think of right now. When I visited my best friend Skidmore this past weekend and she read what I’ve written so far in regards to my book, she suggested that I alternate chapters between good and bad memories. She pointed out that a “happy” chapter may be a nice breather in between the really sad, painful tear-jerker type chapters, which is a good point.

Finding Home.

10 Mar

Yesterday, I spent some time driving through my hometown with my mind full of memories. It’s the next to last day of Spring Break, and the end of Spring Break means getting back to the hum-drum of college and academics. That’s not why my mind is full of memories though. A while back, I wrote a few posts concerning the fact that my parents are moving from St. Matthews, SC to Saluda, NC. Though I’m looking forward to them being closer to me since I’m in Asheville at college, I guess I never let it all sink in.

The “For Sale” sign in front of our house is hard to see. There will be someone else living in our house, someone else playing in the backyard, someone else making memories in the place that I called home for so long. It’s weird. I think we all hope that we’ll leave our hometown behind, and yet still be able to come back once we’ve grown and moved on to find that nothing has changed. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case. And it isn’t…in the face of life. Things change whether we want them to or not. We can either flow with the change or have it leave us behind, looking for light in a place that’s been pitch black dark for quite some time.

I drive down my street and am flooded with memories. Memories that marked how I’ve grown up. Driving my Barbie Jeep up and down the street…which later turned to driving our gocart up and down the street…which lead to me having my first car (a Jeep Cherokee) that I drove around town….and now, I’m not in a Jeep Cherokee but a Ford Escape. And instead of driving around town….I drive an entire state away to a place that’s already starting to feel like home even though I’ve only been there since August. I never thought that it was possible to “find home” in numerous places. However, I’ve grown to realize that we CAN find home in numerous places…we can be part of a lot of different places depending on where our heart lies and what we find comfort in. Until I was 16, home was our house in St. Matthews, SC which included my brother, my parents, my dogs, and all the laughter, tears and hugs that were held inside these walls. For the next 2 years, home was my boarding school in Winston-Salem, NC (It wasn’t quite home my junior year, but by my senior year I didn’t want to leave to go beyond the walls that had provided with so much love, support and room to grow). When I was at Wofford College for my freshman year last year, I didn’t find home. It didn’t fit quite right. However, I had to go there in order to know that it wasn’t the right fit for me. Plus, I met one of my best friends there, and so for that, I’ll be eternally grateful. Since August, I’ve found home in Asheville. In the land of the Blue Ridges. Amid a landscape that still causes me to stop in amazement sometimes.

So maybe it’ll be a little sad to leave the place that I called home for the majority of my childhood. But by relinquishing the hold I’ve kept on this house, my heart is free to “find home” in many more locations. I have no doubt that as the years go by I’ll have many more places that will hold a piece of my heart. But even leaving won’t change much. My hometown will still be here, in all its small town glory. And all I’ll need to do to experience it again is close my eyes…and open my heart to all the memories that can come flushing back. Because maybe, just maybe, all our homes that we find along the way are contained, memories and all, inside the chambers of our hearts.

The Writing Has Begun.

1 Feb

For all of you who read my post last Thursday on thinking of writing a book, thank you. Also, thank you for all the suggestions and advice that I received! That being said, I’m proud to announce that I began writing my book on Monday night. Many of you just suggested I start writing. Not focusing on much of anything other than getting the words out. Honestly, I thought this would be harder. I’ve always had trouble getting started on things, but the words just seemed to come as if they had been needing to get out for quite some time. It’s such a freeing feeling.

Anyway, on with the book. I’ve settled on writing a book focusing on how it is possible to overcome obstacles and still manage to love your life. I’m planning on it being inspirational nonfiction (written in first person), especially since I’ll be constantly reflecting on my own experiences when giving others advice on how to overcome big obstacles in life. I’ve used the majority of my “Sense of Belonging” post as a sort of prologue, and the title of the first Chapter is “You are not alone.” (No other hints though. Sorry!)

I’ve written 3 pages so far (including the prologue) and I can’t wait to see where this takes me. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from friends and family, some of which have said: “Finally! I’ve been wondering when you were going to go and do something like write a book.” I guess deep down I knew that writing would come back to me eventually, or more precisely, the desire to write. I also knew that it wasn’t something I wanted to force by any means. I knew that one day I’d finally want to share my story with others, and this is my chance.

What I have already come across though is the fact that I wish I could be my own editor. For instance, I have these few sentences at the end of one of my paragraphs that I absolutely LOVE. I think that’s a struggle for writers: Having the desire to write, while also being able to keep a certain distance from their writing. It’s always been hard for me. I’ve come to realize though that everything seems to work out in its own time, so I’ll just keep on writing. On the flip side of that though is the fact that I wish I had someone to edit my writing right after I wrote like (like page by page). I mean, I’ve written a little less than 3 pages at this point, and I feel like it’s pretty crappy. Yes, I know that this is my first draft and that first drafts are always shitty. There will be many, many, many rewrites. It’d just be nice to know what works and what doesn’t right off the bat you know?

I’d love to get some feedback/suggestions from all of you who are experienced with the writing process. After all, you can never have too many pointers when it comes to writing!

Seeing Ireland On The Horizons.

15 Jan

Well, I sent in my application yesterday to study in Galway, Ireland with API from June 20th to July 20th. According to UNC Asheville’s study abroad office, I’ll have no problem getting into the API program in Galway since I meet the GPA requirement. So, YAY! Ah, I am so excited. Actually, so so so so soooooo excited. It’s always been a dream of mine to travel and study in Ireland. To be able to experience Ireland’s beauty for myself…ah, amazing!

With excitement, though, comes the common nerves of traveling to a brand new place with no one that I know. I’m scared, but I think a certain amount of anxiety is good. If I wasn’t a little bit nervous, I’d be even more worried. Honestly, I think once I’m there and settled in, it’ll be great. I’ll get to experience a brand new place and meet people I never would have met if I didn’t have this opportunity. Plus, with the API program, excursions are included, and I’m so happy about that. As well as living and studying in Galway, Ireland for a month, I’ll have the chance to travel to different parts of Ireland in order to fully appreciate the Irish culture. Gosh I’m smiling just thinking about all of it!

I’ve always loved to travel, and since getting older and having the ability to travel on my own, I’ve taken advantage of it. The past 2 spring breaks I’ve flown to Texas to spend time with my aunt and uncle. I’ve taken road trips in order to visit friends that live farther up the East Coast. And I’ve loved every second of it. At the same time, I know that there is so much more that I have yet to see, and I can’t wait to experience it. I feel like traveling is a huge part of the college experience, and life in general really. I feel like it opens our eyes to all that the world has to offer, while also allowing us to “find ourselves” along the way.

I remember going to Peru for 12 days during my senior year in high school with a group of girls from Salem Academy. I was nervous, but it was amazing. I was able to see things I would’ve never seen otherwise, and I began to understand the difficulties that a third world country faces as opposed to what we’re faced with in the US. For instance, it’s hard to say you understand poverty until you see how people live in Peru. Though I knew things would be much different, it’s not something you truly grasp until you go to experience it yourself. So, my trip to Peru was eye-opening, and it helped me learn a lot about myself. After being in Asheville since August and watching myself change since I’ve been here, I can’t wait to travel to Ireland and be able to see how it changes my current outlook on life.