The gentle unfolding of what I would do in The Netherlands began here. In this moment, at the Sagrada Familia. I didn’t realise it then but a significant shift was moving within me.
‘In the shadows’ I called the shot. I’d looked for the typical tourist shot. The one that would capture this grand, whimsical masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí, architect and artist.
I enjoy running, I always have. I’m not a fast runner nor will I ever be. I don’t run for speed or times (I did years ago). Now, it’s purely about the meditation, time out, fitness and endorphins.
This trip I am endeavouring to run often. It can be scary heading down a path you don’t know. Really scary. Some days there are overgrown paths, graffitied abandoned buildings, some days the paths are silent bush paths, others the beach is alongside me and my fellow joggers pass by with a “bonjour” or a “hola”.
Many thoughts come when I run and on some days, I’ll get the big brain farts. A new term I picked up from the lovely Cybele Masterman of Blah Blah Magazine. It’s the brain farts I’m going to write about while I travel.
Around this time last year I watched a few insta friends as they took to the streets snapping photos for the @24hourproject.
Could I do that? No way. a. I would need to ask people if I could snap them (remember I am a shy introvert). And b. I’m a photo-taking hack, not a photographer.
Fast forward a year and a I’ve taken a whole lot of photos. I have built some confidence after helping Zoë with her One Girl fundraiser. That fundraiser showed me that one of the reasons I keep my life simple is so that I can jump on board when something I care about crosses my path.
So, when this year’s project came up and it turned out that I would be in Dublin on my own for the weekend and a little gentle encouragement from Rachael aka @thebowerbirdgirl (an actual real street photographer), I signed up.
It would have been easy to say no but what an adventure I would have missed out on. I’m not sure how it happened but I adopted the persona of Fran the street photographer. I actually thought I was one, maybe I really was.
Some time ago I decided to create a life that I didn’t need to holiday from.
The majority of my life has been lived in this way, moving, adventuring, trying new things.
It’s not that I can’t commit or that I don’t like to nest, I love both of those things. I’m just a mover.
When I was younger it was just me, and then just Greg and me. No one questions you when you’re young and moving. Everyone’s doing it.
I am also a minimalist. Again, I’ve always lived like this, wanting less, letting go, moving on from situations that don’t serve me well.
As we leave Ireland after 3 months of slow, quiet living to hit the road in our 6 berth camper for the next 5 months I think it’s important to acknowledge that a trip like this and living like this isn’t something that you do overnight. It’s also why this doesn’t feel like a holiday for me, it’s the next life chapter.
This post uses photos from a recent camper trip to County Kerry, no doubt Ireland has a little of my heart. It’s a lyrical country with a language that sings and a landscape that touches your soul. There’s a reason so many poets and writers come from Ireland. As Seamus Heaney said ‘it’s the thing that’s in the air and part of who we are’.
“Let yourself gravitate to the writers who attract you, pull you in, because their work is showing you something of yourself. Let yourself imitate them, until you notice those spaces where you can’t help but do something different. In those spaces, you start to make your own voice.” – The fabulous Justine Must.
That is conscious consuming right there. For me it’s a pull towards the voices of brave, honest women sharing their stories and seeking their truths. Women who want to make a difference be it food, environment, each other, lifestyle, travel, adventure all while choosing their own path and using their hearts. Living creatively.
Writing, well that’s conscious contributing, to yourself, the people in your life, those who read your words and one day if you keep at it, to what matters. All the voices count.
Today I took another step towards finding my voice and contributing to a conversation that I think matters.
I’m going to quote myself here.
“Adventure with kids is about having fun, stepping out of the routine, [developing skills] and spending time together. It’s about instilling a lifelong passion for the outdoors and the real world while creating an opportunity to experience quiet and stillness in their increasingly busy lives”
On this particular afternoon at the beginning of February I answered the call of the roaring wind.
I ran a little further into the rain to the top of the cliff and stood in it, head on. It was wild and revealingly thrilling.
An awakening that can only happen when there is solitude and space and an openness to feel.
We’d been here just over a month. The high of the newness was wearing off and a new phase, new feelings had started brewing.
Here on this cliff I knew I was me. A truth revealed. This life, this choice, being exposed in this unknown journey was far less scary than the idea of permanence, of what could have been.
How easily I could have slipped into the other life we had planned. The one we thought we wanted, the one that seemed ‘normal’, easier. Yet, for me, it wasn’t.
Something deep down was unleashed here on this cliff in this moment, something strong and powerful and raw.
The perfect prelude to a trip we would do later in the month into the wild west of Ireland.
Let me take you there. I’ll even share our first dad or in our case papa joke.
Oh Ireland, you are lovely as your seasons change.
February has breezed through (sometimes howled) and with it new learnings, adventures, family visits, a change of season and the arrival of ‘The Travelodge’.
In the background a little niggle, some uneasiness. Something is shifting, in part the season and definitely me. I’m changing, adjusting.
March is now upon us and the shift is slowly unfurling and we’re in Spring, full blown Spring.
A layer of clothing has been shed and we’re surrounded by daffodils and blossoms. The tiny buds are appearing on those big, strong, bare winter trees.