Lessons from the past about intuition, empowerment, and ocean views
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, May 2018.
I'm 51 years old.
Eight months before that my life collapsed, and the world as I knew it had been shattered, scattered and basically destroyed.
(I might tell you THAT story some other time)
I knew I needed a change.
In February I booked myself a trip.
I have been a traveller all my life.
I used to fly UM (Unaccompanied Minor) in airplanes when I was a kid and my parents would send me to spend my summers in Greece with my grandparents (and yet another story for another time).
I have traveled with my parents.
I have traveled with my husband.
I have traveled with my kids.
I have traveled with my friends.
Not ever since these UM days, had I traveled alone.
And I knew, this cold February day of 2018, I knew I needed that.
To TRAVEL. ALONE.
After so many years of the whole family, motherhood, partnership, business life, jobs, duties and generally getting lost in the routines and nitty-gritty of daily life …
After the traumatic, life defining, emotional earthquake that literally ripped my heart open and left me searching for breath and meaning…
I needed that.
To TRAVEL. ALONE.
Spend time with just me.
No duties, no strings, no to-do lists.
Sometimes the messages from the big U are crystal clear.
That is where I was “instructed” to go.
No clue why.
I did have some attraction to Ireland. But nothing clear.
I felt it would be interesting.
After some investigation I made up my mind to go for it.
I sensed I needed to stand on the cliffs of Ireland, watching the ocean, feeling the wind shake all the cells of my body, and bring them to a new order.
I needed the ventilation, the airing, the renewal.
So I decided ( and yes THAT is the most important part, the decision, I'll get back to that later) … I decided to organise a trip for myself. Just me, myself and I, driving along the Wild Atlantic Way.
I would rent a car and drive from Galway to Cork, and more if I felt like it.
I would go at the end of as many peninsulas as possible, stand up facing the ocean at these “end of the world” places and breathe.
So I booked the tickets and the B&Bs for ONE.
And don't get me wrong.
I was terrified.
I had never done that.
My life was now at disaster point.
Everything that was my comfort zone had just been shattered.
Still, I acted upon this crazy intuition. and once the bookings were made …
I got a Spotify subscription.
And I created a playlist. The playlist of that road trip. I'm still listening to it while I write this today.
The playlist was an act of brainwashing myself, of hypnotizing myself into the idea that this trip could be good, fun, easy and just simply possible.
My world had ended.
I needed to start dreaming a new one.
For three months, I listened to that playlist all day long, learnt all the lyrics by heart, and sang my heart out while washing the dishes or folding the laundry.
By May 12th, when I left for the airport I was almost believing myself.
This was happening.
And it was going to be great.
And you know what ?
The trip of a lifetime.
This gift I had given myself was the best thing I have done in my life.
On a typical day, I would wake up in a cosy sweet bed and breakfast room, eat an incredible homemade Irish breakfast, and jump in my luxury rented car, blast the Irish playlist on the stereo system and drive by the ocean, along the most incredible, breathtaking sceneries I had ever seen.
I felt at home.
Some part of my soul remembers. I have lived here. The land knows me and I know the land (and yet another story to come).
I would stop twenty times an hour and take pictures, and sing along all day to the Kilkennys, the High Kings, Celtic Woman or The Dubliners.
By 6 p.m. I’d be arriving at my next bed and breakfast, dropping my bags and asking for directions to the nearest pub with live music.
And I would end most of my days eating great food while listening to incredible musicians singing more Irish songs.
This trip changed my life.
I DID stand on the cliffs of Moher, watching the sunset on the Atlantic Ocean, feeling the wind agitating my cells and rearranging them into a whole new different puzzle.
My five senses were all bombarded with beauty, spectacular amazingness and my whole being was filled with love; the view, the salty smell of the Ocean, the salt on my tongue, the lush green grass under my feet, the sound of the waves and the singing birds in my ears.
I DID drive a car for 2 weeks on my own, a car with a steering wheel on the “wrong” side.
I DID drive that car on the left side of a road.
I DID sing out loud in pubs with strangers, and I wasn't even drunk.
And again it terrified me.
Less and less though.
And by the end of that trip, I knew I could do anything on my own, I knew I could be anything on my own, I could have anything on my own.
I am not sure I would have used that word in 2018 but I did feel it: empowerment.
I was my own woman.
I am my own woman.
I will always be my own woman.
It was 3 years ago.
It was 3 minutes ago.
It was 3 hundred years ago.
I feel like a completely different person. On the inside.
All because I couldn't think straight and thus stopped thinking… and trusted my gut, my intuition.
And then the decision obviously. Through the fear, the doubts, the questioning … Making a decision and sticking to it, taking responsibility for that decision and acting upon it.
THAT is what changed my life.
Oh, and if you want a story in the story, let me tell you about that night in Kilkenny. It has a lesson of its own … and some lovely music ...
Wet hair from the shower, I’m rambling in the beautiful streets of the small elegant town. The air is sweet, the temperature is mild, the sun is setting, I feel relaxed, quite tired, secure and on the whole enchanted.
The shops are closed already and all the tourist attractions too. I have no goal for now just wandering, leisurely.
Passing by a pub/restaurant called Paris Texas I hear “The lonesome boatman” a very famous Irish flute tune that I'd actually never heard before. I suddenly feel really emotional and really called to step in the pub. Bewitched. There is a two men band, a young banjo player who also plays the flute, and an older guy who plays the guitar. It doesn't hurt that the young one is really handsome. But it's truly his singing and his flute playing that are incredible. I stay for an hour completely captivated by the music and the musicians, singing along and even making a few requests.
They finish their set and I decide to leave in order to find somewhere to eat, and end up in another very famous historical and musical pub, called Kytelers Inn.
Fast forward a couple of hours, a nice dinner, and some more music, and singing along, and I was ready to go to sleep. I start walking back Parliament’s Street, towards my eagerly awaited bed.
And then, and if you read until now, you will guess what I'm going to write ... I hear some music … Towards the end of Parliament Street on the left hand side going north, there is literally a row of pubs.
In the first one I enter, there is a nice crowd of traditional musicians with fiddles, flutes, guitars, whistles, banjos, and a couple of bodhrans of course. I stay for a while but there is nothing to sing …
Maybe I should have explained earlier on that I have been an amateur singer for more than 30 years: solo, choirs, bands, you name it. Since I have been singing along to my playlist of traditional Irish songs all day long, by now I know all the songs, first and second voices. And most musicians in pubs are astonished and impressed …
I myself feel like I have found my voice again, after years, maybe decades of silence. And it even knows Gaelic !
Another magic outcome of this trip !
Back to my story ..
Off I go and back to bed … Or so I think. But then I hear some music...
There are three lovely women singing in the next pub and I am truly charmed by their voices … Shame that they are ending their set and I just get to listen to them for a few songs. If you ever get to catch them, their band is called Sola and it's absolutely amazing.
By then it’s almost midnight and I am honestly exhausted ... so I leave the pub ... only to enter the next one, where again, I can hear some music is still playing. It might have been Phelan’s or Ó Ceallaigh, I can’t be sure.
That was going to be the moment when I understood what music meant to Irish people and how this trip actually changed my life in yet another aspect.
So I come into this tiny pub, overcrowded with musicians. There must be at least six people playing the guitar, a couple playing banjo, maybe fiddles, I'm not sure. There is also some kind of audience, although I'm not sure whether the people here are truly only listeners … Anyway the musicians play together in a very loose, disorganized jam session way. After a few songs, the barkeeper closes the door, explaining that this is now a private party.
A couple of beers later, I realize that I've actually seen some of the musicians in one of the other pubs that I visited earlier in the evening. There's this guy that plays banjo, whistle and flute who was singing in Paris Texas.
The minute our eyes connect he actually recognizes me too. I guess my singing along earlier wasn't that bad, since he turns to me and says “would you like to choose a song to sing ?” I suggest “The fields of Athenry” a classic among classics of Irish folk music. And the whole pub sings with us. Later almost everyone gets to choose a song and we all sing together for more than an hour. I feel I’ve entered some magic fairy singing heaven, I sing like it’s the easiest thing in the world, I connect eye to eye with musicians and get truly lost in the moment.
The feeling of connection is incredible. Out of this world. This has been a mystic experience.
It is now more than 1 a.m. and feeling really exhausted, I finally and definitely head back to bed, deciding to leave before the party is over and the magic vanishes into the mundane.
The next morning, after digging a little on the internet, I realize that I have spent a couple of hours singing with professional musicians, some of whom are actually rather famous and that the banjo and whistles player was actually Davey Cashin, founding member of The Kilkennys.
Although this evening and these connections never included a proper conversation with any of those amazing musicians, what it made me comprehend is that music, mostly traditional folk songs, are made to be shared, sung together, played together, and not to be listened to. This encounter has opened my heart to a different way of experiencing music and of connecting with other human beings.
It has also made very clear that travelling alone opened up the possibility for me to meet people daily, thus enlightening the difference between feeling alone and being alone.
Another lesson lies in solitude and empowerment. Only through experiencing true empowered solitude, facing my demons and spending time with myself, was I able to give myself permission to be reborn a different person and then connect again to the world, to others.
This connection with Irish music, as well as Irish scenery opened up the way I am looking at things and changed my beliefs around the possibilities of meeting myself and other people on a deeper level.
I have endless gratitude for the musicians that night who included, not only me, but all the other amateurs, whether this very drunk guy from Germany who wanted to belt yodeling songs, or this young couple from Colorado on their honeymoon singing “When I'm 64” by The Beatles. I feel humbled by each and every one of them.
That night I felt that music could be a vehicle for a deep connection and that there wasn't any feeling of separation between human beings that could resist this connection.
My final lesson here is around following my gut everywhere and every time … not because I’m not afraid, not because I know I’m right … Just because of the Infinite Possibilities it opens up for me everywhere and every time. Connecting with myself and my intuition deep in there, I connected with the Universe.
I found my lost self.
And she brought me home.
I'll be happy to hear from you on these few great ideas. Thank you in advance for your comment.
So much for today ...
See you soon, for my next online adventures!
Until then I send you love, light and gratitude.
PS: If you want to listen to the magic playlist... here's link to it !