This Introverted Irish Girl’s Guide to St Patrick’s Day

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.   ~ W. B Yeats

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” perfectly sums up how I feel about life in general, but is especially pertinent on St Patrick’s Day; not because it was written by an Irish poet about life in rural Ireland.  But because I seek peace, quiet, and solitude.  I long to be in a place where people are outnumbered by birds,beasts, flowers, and trees. I will celebrate a not so distant St Patrick’s Day (and many other days) in a place just like the poem mentions. Because I need it to thrive.  But for now, I am in a city in a country far away from Ireland.  And I live among a bunch of people who pretend to be Irish for one day. How do I know they are imposters –  they wear silly hats, drink green beer, and act appallingly in public in the middle of the afternoon.  I choose to not so silently judge these people.  But its ok – because I am outlining how I choose to observe the day of the Saint  who got some metaphorical snakes to follow him out of Ireland, and those rowdy types can feel free to judge my choices.

*I spent the majority of the day spring cleaning. St  Patrick’s Day seems like a good day to get rid of dirt and toxic energy. Everyone knows that weren’t actually snakes in Ireland during the 5th Century, and snakes were most likely a metaphor for evil (you know Adam and Eve and the apple). I figure cleaning is a good way to honour Ireland’s Patron Saint.
*I have a drop of whisky, with a little bit of soda, and lemon. It’s irish whisky (obviously).
*Usually I would make my mom’s potato pancake recipe, but Im not eating potatoes right now, so dinner is salmon and asparagus (green has to figure into this day somehow).
*Tonight we will watch one of my most favourite movies of all time, The Secret of Roan Irish. Its an incredible Irish fable. You can view the trailer here.

And to prove that I am not some total judgemental prude – I leave you with this.





Now That I’m Home


I’ve been struggling since I’ve been home. I’m still not sleeping well, I am living with a new auto-immune diagnosis (although its not much of a surprise, its forcing a lot of change in my life), and while I want to go outside, I think I have gone out once in the 10 days I have been home – and that was to get a bottle of wine – which I am not allowed, due to the new auto immune diagnosis. I am feeling dissatisfied with life, am extremely anxious, and am really irritable. I need to make some changes.

Here is what I propose to do – starting the moment I finish this blog post, and get out of bed. After all its 11 am on Saturday morning.

Regarding the Hashimoto’s Disease diagnosis I received last month, starting Monday I am fully committing to a 30 day elimination diet, and am researching other diets geared towards auto immune diseases.  For years I have experimented with vegetarian and vegan diets – and I feel really good on them, but its quite clear that they aren’t really helping me.  I am nervous about how I am going to feel while eating meat – my little experiments eating meat in Austria were met with a great deal of pain.  But I made a promise, so I will keep it.  My doctor thinks I can turn around the diagnosis with just diet, and not have to take hormones -so I am willing to give this a really good shot. Today is the day I go to the shops to turn my life around.

I have no idea what my fear of the outside is about – but the only way to conquer it, is to just go outside and enjoy it. So while I am not going to pressure myself so much, I am going to plan to go outside for an hour every day – rain or shine.  It should help now, that there is some extra daylight hours happening.

Being dissatisfied with my life, is nothing new. I’m kind of the girl that just keeps plugging along, thinking that this is my lot in life.  But I have some very big dreams, and I need to start pursuing them. We start small.  A business plan is the first step, and finding some like minded people to hang out with.

Finally, I have been reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and its been helpful in getting me to connect with my creative self. One of the ways it does this, is by suggesting you go out on a solo date once a week.  When I’m traveling, I do this all the time- but not so much, when Im home.  So I’m going to start doing this again.  The only rules are that you must do this alone, and it must be something that you do outside your home.  It doesn’t have to cost anything, but I think she suggests investing at least $5 into the activity – but I don’t think its necessary.  Im starting the project this weekend, by taking myself to the VIMFF Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival – where Im going to see this.  The VIMFF is my most second most favourite film festival – second only to the Samurai Festival that is shown every year or two at The Cinematheque.

What are you doing to get out of your rut – Id love to hear some suggestions.

Photo Credit –


I found a zither. I said hello. And then I said goodbye. It broke my heart.
The zither was in such a state, that my heart actually broke shattered. There was mold all over it, the strings were broken, and those that were still intact were rotting, the action was terrible (though not certain what appropriate action is for a zither), the fret board was warping, and some tuning pegs were broken. The only good thing was that the wood isn’t soft (yet). I wanted so much to take him home (yes, its a him), but I don’t know what I can do for him. I have never restored an instrument before – and I am unaware of any zither fixers in Vancouver.

His soul and his body are so broken. It kills me to see something so neglected. If I can figure out a way to restore him I might go and buy him anyway – because his life is just going to get worse, without me.

Can you even bring diseased instruments into Canada. Is mold considered to be a disease.  So many questions.  I don’t even know what this instrument is worth, since I couldn’t find a manufactures tag. It would be an interesting project.

*Photo Source (this is *not* the zither I saw in the store) – Thomas Quine via flickr

My Search For Meaning



When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves – Viktor Frankl.

20 years ago, I was introduced to logotherapy and Viktor Frankl through the book, Man’s Search for Meaning.  This book was given to me by my doctor, to assist me through a particularly rough time in my life. It helped me to come to terms with some stuff that I was living with, why I was living with it, and it allowed me to find a way out, and start saying yes to life.  Today, I got to visit his museum.  His book changed my life – and today, I got a big reminder of why exactly it did.

20 years ago, I thought I was losing my mind in a big way. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t remember my own name.  When I improved enough, I slowly read (that was the only book I read that year, and it took me the entire year) Dr. Frankl’s book. I learned how he survived the holocaust, and lived a life full of meaning, and without hate. I am still learning how to live without hate – but I do live a life full of meaning.  It took me until today, to realize that I actually do have a very meaningful life.

According to Viktor Frankl, a meaningful life happens when you are a creating, experiencing, suffering person. Suffering doesn’t necessarily happen, when the first 2 are absent.  The museum shows you how to understand and apply logotherapy in a fairly easy fashion. I won’t explain it here- but its worth reading about. I have found that its a great way to explore empathy.

Today was a profoundly positive experience – one that contained some emotional moments (that I don’t quite want to get into tonight, better to just process them for awhile). But there are 2 things that I want to  mention.  The first being that when referencing anxiety, Frankl suggest that you take your anxiety out for a walk – like you are walking the dog.  This conjures up great imagery for me – and will be doing exactly that, from now on.

The next are the 10 Theses on the Human Person – these are as follows:

  1. Every person is an individual.
  2. Every person is un-summable, cannot be constructed by adding individual characteristics (the person is more than the sum of separate individual parts).
  3. Every person is a new creation.
  4. Every person is a spiritual being.
  5. Every person is real (exists in reality, is existential).
  6. Every person is self directed
  7. Every person is a united whole (of body, mind, and spirit).
  8. Every person is not a closed system, is dynamic and open to others.
  9. Every person can self-transcend the situation.
  10. Human beings understand themselves to the extent that they transcend (reach beyond themselves).

Sometimes we forget these things, especially if others are not like us.  I really enjoy #3 – Every person is a new creation. Saying it this way, gives us permission to make mistakes, to learn – to experience something differently.  It gives us an opportunity to not judge. To view in kindness.

All we can do is our best – The Viktor Frankl Museum reminded me that I often do my best – but I can still do better. But more than that, this museum helped me to realize how strong I am, and that I do have a meaningful life.





Post-it Psychology


I am really hard on myself. I would say that I am my worst critic -though not my most imaginative one (saving that story for another day). I didn’t even know how bad I was to myself until some people I didn’t know well, pointed it out to me. So I decided to do something about it. I started taking notes about what I liked about myself, what I wanted to change, and what things I could live with. It’s been a considerable journey – I filled up a fairly large notebook with my findings.

Once the notebook was filled, I kind of forgot everything I put in there – so I started condensing the notes and writing the good stuff onto post-it notes. Then glued them to where I would see them. You know that I already have a thing about lipstick mantras – if you don’t know, I write mantras and words of wisdom in lipstick on mirrors. Sometimes they stay up for months at a time, sometimes they last for about 10 minutes.  They serve the purpose of a quick reminder to check my attitude. But the post it notes – they are reminders that I’m fairly awesome, or need a little work to get to awesome depending on where the note is located.  For instance the note in the bathroom reminds me to compliment my nose – because  someone once told me my nose was globular – and Ive kept that with me, and now I’m a tad insecure about it. But enough about my nose.

On my music stand is a reminder of how far I have come in a year.  It has a date on it only. Next to it is another note that tells me I can accomplish whatever I want as long as I go slow.  And behind my chair, plastered to the wall is another post-it that says “communist”. Its not about my political leanings. Rather, its to remind me of time when I was a fierce performer, and that I could steamroll any challenge that came my way.  It’s there to tell me that I am on my way back.

I have post-its in every room.  I change them according to what I need to hear. They are not to do lists (those are for the phone),  They are simply a nudge to remind myself that I am pretty great – and that it takes a little work to be come truly excellent.

Do you do anything like this to give your mental health a boost, or a kick in the pants – depending on what you need in the moment?

*Photo by Andreanna Moya Photography via Flickr