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Gratitude diary!

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Not sure if this blog can end up being a continuation of my previous one (https://jayceemoon.com/2020/04/29/be-positive-a-way-of-life/ ) but I aim to that! The more thankful you are, the more positivity you attract.

Be grateful, indeed! I am not sure when I started to focus on gratefulness, I may have doing it unconsciously before I set it up as part of my daily routines. As far as I can think it was the end of August 2017! You may be wondering why I can remember that with such clarity. Let me fill you in: I had moved to Ireland to make my dream come true (that is for sure another blog, coming soon indeed) and I was struggling to find a job. I was getting close to having to go back when I was offered a role on the 24th of August! You cannot imagine how grateful I was! The following morning as I was driving to work, I could only say to myself how lucky I was, having a job was allowing me to fulfil my dream! It was then when gratefulness became part of my everyday life!

Waking up, getting out of bed being thankful for having found a job was there every single day on my way to work! Radio was always on, so whenever an upbeat song was being played, there I was, thanking the universe!  Depending on the day I also added a couple of more positive thoughts. Eventually, it settled down as powerful habit. Despite having had a bad night sleep, although things weren’t going as planned, regardless of those blue days, gratefulness had become my companion!

Time went by, life surprised me with its weird twists and gratitude diluted. It never abandoned me though, it faded a bit but we sailed the ocean together. Last year, my life coach recommended me to start a gratitude diary on numerous occasions, I guess I was not in the frame or the mood to go for it. Experience has taught me that, only when you are ready, you will find time and motivation. No matter how persuasive others can be, one needs to be willing to! At the end of the day, a piece of advice is just a piece of advice. I do not hang onto any regrets for having taken my time to process and digest things. Just another reason to be proud, indeed!

Four weeks ago, thanks to both my partner and the current situation, I found myself digging a notebook out of my drawer. The right time had come!!! The urge was there, a new challenge had to be set! What an exciting journey ahead! Having the thrill empowers you to go for it! My gratitude diary was born! Happy out, I said to myself!

It is said that it takes 21 days (3 weeks) for a habit to form. After having done 30 days, I can state my gratitude diary routine has settled down! It can be tough to remain positive and have the strength to be grateful when difficult times surround you. Hardship definitely makes everything more valuable! Overall, it has been so rewarding, as well as addictive! I have ensured that I had time to myself to put it down in my notebook, to relish it, to treasure it. I have surprisingly come across more than just one thing to be thankful for! It is easier to presume there is nothing there to be appreciative of rather than cheering those little things which bring a spark into our days.

On top of this, it has made me realise how lucky I am. Having grounds to be grateful for brings along a rainbow of positive thinking. Despair can easily drag you down, gratitude can lift you up. There is a tight connection between gratefulness and positivity: the first one is a strong magnet for the second one. Be grateful so you can enhance your positive way of life!

A smile, a glance, a ray of sunshine, a raindrop, a touch, a kiss. Even in the darkest moments, there is always something to be thankful for!

Even in the darkest moments, there is always something to be grateful for!

Jay Cee Moon ©

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Be positive, a way of life!

It is raining today, grey and apparently miserable out there! It is so tempting and effortlessly addictive to focus on the dark negative side of things. Negativity has a weird power to take control of our minds. In the blink of an eye, it turns up and powerful as a tsunami washes your positive thoughts away. You find yourself trapped in the swirls of pessimism and desolation. Hopelessly devoted to a deep well without access to the surface. Dramatically drained by a twister of blackness. You can help giving in! I have been there, still am sometimes but nowhere closer to as much as I used to!

I think I have been negative enough so far! Let’s be positive, because there is hope out there! Ohhh yeah! Mind can be trained to focus on the bright side of life as Monty Python sang! Not easy but very rewarding! Over the years I have had the privilege to learn from others around me. Seeing how they face and cope with life has been an incredible gift! My creative magni (as per my previous blog https://jayceemoon.com/2020/04/08/one-day-more-one-day-less/ ), always encouraging me to stay positive, reminding me to smile more.

My brother also. He probably doesn’t know the influence he has had on my positive life approach transformation. He has unconsciously been teaching me the power of an optimistic way of life. Despite having been through a lot, he has always held on with a remarkable ear-to-ear grin. Always looking for those little things that bring so much joy. One of his quotes is: “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Just turn something sour, bitter and difficult into something positive! Despite being a bit younger than me, his endurance to remain positive is outstanding. Massive thanks!

More recently, my partner! He is probably one of the most positive person I have ever met!!!   Evergreen positive mindset. Always carrying a broad smile on his face. He is capable of finding the bright side in the most difficult situation. His action plan is to positively focus on the here and now and to look forward to the future. Constantly encouraging me to snap out of those low moments and walk them off, so I can change my state of mind and radiate positivity. He has given me the last kick for me to hugely progress on my positive way of life path.

The more positive I am, the more positivity I draw into my life. The more positivity I bring in, the more I relish life. The more I enjoy life, the happier I am! What you think it is what you attract! It takes great effort to create a new habit but the outcomes are priceless! A year and a half ago I was driving back from The Hill of Tara when I got stuck behind a tractor! My first reaction was to complain about it, but then my positive approach kicked in! I turned up the music, fully opened the window and took in as much I could: the fresh air, the sun shining through the trees, the colour of the fields, singing along! What an enjoyable experience it became! To my surprise, I completely forgot about the tractor in front of me! It is just a matter of creating a positive reaction practice: we cannot control what happens to us but can definitely learn how to positively react to it.

You can find positivity everywhere, in everything and whenever you are ready for! Even though it may look unachievable, it is easily doable! Get up with a smile every morning. Be grateful for every single little chance life offers you. Admire the beauty that surrounds you. Embrace the sunshine, the rain, the clouds, the blue skies, the stars, the moon. Cherish what nature presents you with: that tiny flower making its way through the foliage, that unexpected butterfly flying next to you, the birds singing out loud, the water flowing down the hill after heavy rain. Breath in the pretichor, the sea breeze, the smell of freshly made coffee. Savour the taste of homemade jam, the joy of cooking, a nice meal al fresco. Squeeze every second, every opportunity. Just take a deep breath and smile.

Life wakes us up with plenty of choices to be positive! Don’t waste them! Make “be positive” your way of life! You will never regret it, for sure! As Buddha said:  “We are what we think! “

Jay Cee Moon ©

The Emerald Isle, my five years anniversary!

Today is the 28th of June, which means that five years ago, I landed in Rosslare!  This followed: saying goodbye to family and friends; an epic drive through France with my car packed with clothes, houseware, and some food essentials; tearful goodbye to my parents at the harbour in Cherbourg; a sixteen-hour journey on the ferry; I still can feel the sea breeze on my face while I was standing on the decks watching Europe mainland disappear in the horizon. The image of the sea waves and foam created by the ferry will remain in my mind forever. A rollercoaster of emotions and feelings embraced my travel. Excitement, worries, happiness, fears, thrill, tears. I was brave and bold. Despite the craziness of my decision, I knew I was doing the right thing for me. I woke up the following morning, grabbed a coffee and went up to the decks, and Ireland was just in front of me.

I am so glad I followed my dream and bought one way ticket on the ferry to Ireland. No regrets, just the fact that If I had not done it, I would have regrated it the rest of my life. It is not easy to go ahead and do what you want to do if you listen to what others says, or if you worry about what others may think, or if you focus on what will happen if everything goes wrong. I was in my forties, I had no job lined up, savings to keep me going for a few months, no accommodation sorted, just the will to give it a go. Ireland had caught both my soul and my heart a long time ago. I owed this to myself!

These five years have been an amazing journey, with plenty of ups and downs: with many great experiences and unforgettable memories made; with a never-ending list of places discovered, pictures taken, and miles driven; with lots of stories to remember, people met, and cups of tea shared. And at the same time, moments of loneliness, solitude, hard work, struggles, tears. Moments of not knowing what to do, where to go, how to deal with things. Moments of despair, confusion, helplessness. I can only say that relocating to Ireland has all been well worth it!

I have gained a place called home, where I can be just me, where my creativeness can flourish, where my soul has finally found peace. I have regained my life, so I can fearlessly follow the less travelled roads, so I can embrace the good vibes around me, so I can become a better me. I have achieved an outstanding milestone with these five years, which has allowed me to be proud of myself, which has entitled me to be able to choose, which has given me the chance of a new start. At the same time there have been some losses, I guess it is the price one must pay when moving to another country. Contact with friends has become scarcer, not being there leads to growing apart, nobody’s fault though, they are still part of my being somehow. The mourning period for family has come to an end, they are now living their lives without me there. What used to be home is now a place to go and stay. Things have changed, relationships have evolved, nothing can remain the same. I have changed.

My last five blogs have been a humble homage to the Emerald Isle. This one is a homage to myself for having made my dream come true, having been up for such an amazing challenge, for having achieved such an impressive goal. To celebrate and highlight this achievement, I have indulged myself with some nice presents:  a fantastic trip to Inis Oírr, we were gifted with a smashing sunny day while we could see the rain passing us by and heading to mainland; a new claddagh ring together with a trinity knot one; a crocheted green sheep by a local crafter ( we now call her Sheepy); a pendant with a message in old Irish – Ogham –  (my heart is in Ireland) made by a very special lady; a tweed hat by Triona in Donegal to keep my head warm; a handknitted green woolly scarf from the Aran Islands and a poster I found at the market in Bloom with the perfect message: born to be Wild on the Atlantic Way.

This blog is also a homage to those whose paths have crossed with mine and shared their stories with me, without them I would not have been able to write my last five blogs. To those who have helped me along the way, without them it would have been more difficult to settle down. To those who have believed in me, without them I would not be where I am today. To my partner, who has joined me in this amazing adventure. Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir!

A new stage of my journey is now ahead of me, exciting times again! The opportunity of another five years in the Emerald Isle, plenty of more stories to come, plenty of more memories to make, plenty of more challenges to face.  I still have two more dreams to come true, who knows, may be in five years’ time I will have had a book published, or will be living in a cottage near the sea somewhere on the west of Ireland, or both. Dreams come true, you just need to be brave and bold to go for them. Emerald, the colour of hope!

Slán anois!

Jay Cee Moon ©

The Emerald Isle, its Irishness

June is already here, which means my fifth blog on the Emerald Isle is due! This series started in February as my humble homage to this amazing island which is home to me. Here I am, in June getting the last one ready. I have to say it has been incredibly enjoyable to try and put into words what these five years have meant. At the same time, it has not been easy to summarize all the good memories, the funny anecdotes, the amazing experiences, the unforgettable paths, the moments shared. Let’s get down to business: The Emerald Isle, its Irishness.  The initial list was long, but the chosen are for me the most remarkable ones. This time, I have made my mind up beforehand so I can officially say that I have the finalists aligned: thanking the bus driver, saying sorry, The Late Late Toy Show, the generosity of the Irish, the weather, the world goes green, Saint Brigid’s Day, ceol agus craic and the friendliness of the Irish.

It did not take me long to realise that people do actually thank the bus driver as they are getting off the bus. It took me a while though to feel comfortable saying thanks myself. One would never say thanks to a bus driver in Catalonia. Five years later, I feel kind of annoyed when people do not thank the driver! It is such a nice thing to do, it shows good manners indeed. The same as people saying sorry when they accidentally bump into you on the street, in the supermarket, wherever. They may not even have touched you, but they still do say sorry. The thing is that now I say sorry when I in Catalonia visiting family, but nobody seems to understand why as they look at me confused! Politeness, many countries lack it. Thanking the bus driver and saying sorry, what a nice heritage!

Since 1975, The Late Late Toy Show has become a Christmas tradition in most Irish homes. It is not just for children, or for families with kids, it is for everyone. It gathers families together, in the sitting room, in front of the tv, with a cup of tea and a blanket. It brings the whole country together. It makes us all feel special! It would not feel like Christmas if the show was not on. I have been watching it every year since I moved to Ireland and now, we even mark it on our calendar in the kitchen. Full of surprises, funny moments, touching stories, great opportunities, and human kindness.

The Generosity of the Irish is a must for me in this blog. Being such a small country, Ireland has a big heart when it comes to support others. I would dare to say it is the most generous country in Europe and very high up in the world ranking. During Covid, when people were out of work, donations kept going to contribute to uncountable projects in need. At a national level, or at a local level, people just give as much as they can to help others all year round. Whether it is money, food, clothes or whatever is needed, the Irish are more than eager to give what they can. It is contagious, you cannot help but do the same. The kindness of the Irish is for sure a heritage to celebrate!

The weather, the number one topic of conversation in Ireland. It is the perfect ice breaking on any occasion you may find yourself: in a lift, at the queue for the toilet, at the till at the supermarket, when ordering a coffee, waiting for the traffic light to turn green, talking to the shop assistant, or just simply when sharing a look with a stranger on the street. No wonder why it is such an important matter: four seasons in one day all year round! You get up in the morning to a beautiful, blue-skied day, not a cloud on the horizon. By midday the sky has turned grey, and the wind is howling. It is lunch time, you look outside and the wildest of the wildest weather is there: hailstones, strong winds and of course, torrential rain. And then, as if nothing had happened, the sun is back, and it feels like summer! Going out for a walk is the best thing to do, one naively thinks. Halfway through, it is starts to rain, one of those showers … at least we don’t melt in the rain …Lol.

Nearly everyone knows or has heard of Saint Patrick’s Day. What amazes me is how Ireland and its people have managed to make the world go green! It is so powerful: people from all over the world travel to Dublin to join in the celebrations as well as people all over the world wear something green to cherish the festivities. It is a day to embrace the Irishness!  My great discovery has been Saint Brigid’s Day, on the first of February, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. She happens to be the saint patroness of Ireland. This day marks the beginning of spring and celebrates fertility. It has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc, where Brigid was known as a pagan goddess. I am drawn to Celtic traditions, for reasons unknown, and my soul nourishes with the power of the ancient Celts. I do now have my own version of the Brigid’s cross hanging behind the door.

Ceol agus craic (music and fun) are also part of the Irishness. The immensity of Irish music is incredible as I said in one of my previous blogs. Wherever you go music is being played, is being sung: at the hairdresser, on the street, in a craft market, in a public garden, in a pub. People sing along without any worries on what others will think. Most of the Irish have that wicked sense humour, sharp and bitter. Luckily, I also have it, probably thanks to my dad. They laugh about everything, including themselves. They call it sarcasm. I love it, it is so me.

The last, but not the least, the friendliness of the Irish. I have already written about it on the first blog of these series, but I feel like I have to add it to this last one. They make you feel welcome straight away, they are always ensuring you are part of the conversation, they treat you as one of them. They offer you a cup of tea even though you are a stranger, for them you are just a nice soul to share a brew with. They are always ready to help. Their home it is always your home, and they do mean it when they say “call by and say hello”. You have not even finished asking for something that they are getting it for you.

My humble homage to the emerald isle as I am heading to my fifth-year anniversary of moving here, has come to an end. Thanks to all of you who have read and commented on my blogs, who have given me the pleasure of your company along this journey, who have inspired me to discover the uniqueness of this amazing island which is now home to me.

Go raibth mile maith agaibh go leir agus sláinte anois!

Jay Cee Moon ©

The Emerald Isle, its language.

May has flown so quickly, just a couple of days more and it will be gone, which means I am behind schedule with my fourth blog on the Emerald Isle. It also means that my five year anniversary is nearly there, so excited! People, landscape, music and now its language: Irish and Irish English. Even though I am far from being fluent in Irish (another five more years will be needed, at least …Lol) I have managed to acquire a great deal of Irish English expressions as well as to adapt my pronunciation, so I do not sound like the ones from the island next door. Thanks to plenty of funny situations, I have commandeered a nice range of Irish English words and sentences. Not aiming to mention them all, otherwise I may bore you to death, I am going to share the more outstanding ones.

For example, you should have seen my face when a colleague of mine said to me: “Your man is not coming today”. My what? Excuse me but I am single, I do not have a man and I do not intend to have one! Obviously, I did not say that, I kept listening and wondering who “your man was”. One day I found out that ‘your man’, or as some say ‘yer man’, is used to refer to ‘that man’, and it has nothing to do with one being single or in a relationship. ‘Your one’, or ’yer wan’, is the female version, just in case you think it’s only men.

‘What’s the story?’ I was so confused the first time I heard someone saying that to me. Am I supposed to tell you a story? I do not really get it. The thing is, it’s just a way of saying hello or asking what’s going on? Glad I did not come up with a story! ‘Hiya, how are you?’ is probably the one that has caused me more trouble. In Catalonia, when someone asks you how you are, we usually talk for Ireland, we go on and on for ages. The Irish do not. It is a simple and polite greeting, with no real intention or interest to know how the other person is. With years of training and discipline, I now mange to just say “I am fine, and you?” rather than explaining how my day is going, or how my life is, or a mixture of both … Lol

I am grand. That’s grand. We are all grand! Here it comes, what is probably the most versatile word I have ever come across: grand. It is widely used, although its meaning changes depending on the situation, the mood, the weather, the day or where one is. Your man can say he is grand, even though he is having a tough day. Your one can reply she is grand because she has just booked a weekend away. If you are trying to load a heavy box into your car and someone offers to help you, you can always say: no worries, I will be grand. One can be trapped in quicksand but at the same time still be grand!

That’s gas! Oh no, hurry up, open the windows, let some air in and dial 112. Luckily, I did not do that when I first heard that. No need to panic, no one is in danger, everything will be grand because it is the Irish way of saying that something is very funny. It would have been gas If I had called the emergency services!

Let’s have some tea. Tea cures everything! When you are upset, tired, angry, depressed, lonely. Get yourself a cup of tea. When you need to talk, to relax, to get things done, to think, to disconnect. Get yourself a cup of tea. If you are cold, if you have had a tough day, if you need some space. Just get yourself a cup of tea and everything will be grand.

When someone says to you “I am just around the corner” or “I will be there in a minute” you’d better find yourself somewhere comfortable to sit down because it is highly likely you will be waiting for ages. You could have plenty of time to do the weekly shopping and still be waiting! And, do not forget to get yourself a cup of tea.

On the phone: How are you? I am grand. I shall talk to you later as I am heading to a meeting now. Ok. Bye, Bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye. I have never stopped to count how many times ‘bye’ is said! The thing is that in Catalan we do exactly the same.

My Irish is very limited, just a few random words that I have somehow learnt how to pronounce: oíche mhaith (good night), conas tá tú? (how are you?), go raibh maith agat (thanks), uisce (water), bainne (milk), cáca milis (cake), mo ghrá (my love) and cupán tae (cup of tea) among others. Who knows, maybe in five years times I can write some sentences in Irish … Lol !

At this stage after five years, there will probably be more words and expressions that I use daily without knowing it!

Anyway, time to go, and get a cup of tea!

Sláinte!

Jay Cee Moon ©

The Emerald Isle, its music!

There we go again, my third blog on Ireland, this time music is the chosen one. If I had plenty of struggles in my last blog trying to narrow down the list of places to be mentioned, not sure how I am going to put the final full stop to this new one: its music! The fact that music is a great part of my life is definitely going to make it even harder. Over the last few days, songs, singers, and bands have been bustling in my head, although no sort of shortlist has been easily arranged. I guess I will just follow the lead of my inspiration. I must admit that it has been more difficult than I thought it would be to write this third blog: it has taken me nearly two weeks to get it ready. After reading it over and over again, it has finally met my standards.  

I moved to Ireland thinking I had a great knowledge of its music: U2, Sinéad O’Connor, Enya, The Corrs and The Cranberries. How naive was I! Do not get me wrong, they are all great musicians but at the same time just the tip of the iceberg of Irish music. Over the last nearly five years I have had the greatest pleasure of discovering a never-ending list of musicians who have been singing for me along my journey. I have also realised how important music is for the Irish people, it is part of who they are and it is now part of who I am.

Among the great bands which have been added to my playlist, I have to mention Aslan, their “This Is”, is probably one of my favourites since it has a very special meaning, never mind “Crazy World” a timeless song that resonates well these days. The Script, Hudson Taylor, Picture This, Kodaline and The Coronas, they all bring a fresh modern approach with plenty of lively songs to sing and dance along with. Hermitage Green with an acoustic folk touch, their “Quicksand” makes my feet tap but their cover version of “Dreams” gives me goose bumps all over, harmonious voices at perfection.  A more recent discovery, We Banjo 3 with what they call Celtgrass, always cheering me up as they sing “Happiness is just around the corner”, in those down moments this song works as great therapy. The Fureys, more traditional but at the same time still engaging, looking forward to seeing them live this year. “Colours” by Rory and the Island is perfect for when those gremlins of mine turn up, it helps me sing them away. I couldn’t finish this paragraph without mentioning the amazing “Hothouse Flowers” which I had the privilege to see performing not so long ago. Despite not playing my favourite song “Gypsy fair” it was an unforgettable experience. They offered the audience a trad session at the end of the concert, what a gift! Needless to say, I was dancing and singing away.

When it comes to solo singers the list is long enough too. Mundy with his “July” and cover version of “Galway girl” together with the talented Sharon Shannon. Imelda May, a bit of a rockabilly, “Inside out”, what a great song. The two Damiens: Damien Rice probably more melodramatic and Damien Dempsey, so deeply rooted to his tribe. Glen Hansard who I came across thanks to the film “Once” on one of our camping outings. Nathan Carter, brings a modern touch to Irish country music, cannot help dancing around the sitting room to his “Wagon Wheel” cover version.  Although Christy Moore is probably one of the first ones I discovered, he is simply brilliant. We saw him live recently and he is an outstanding performer, musician, and entertainer. Not sure if I can just mention one of his songs, though “Ordinary Man”, “The Voyage” and “Lisdoonvarna” are amazing … so many are good ones, but his cover version of “Beeswing” blew my mind away! I highly recommend you listen to it; you will not be disappointed that is for sure. On a very different note, Clare Sands, who I got to know thanks to my job, is well worth a listen, especially her “Awe na Mná.” And last, but not least, Emma Langford. My partner came across on the radio  her with “The Winding Way Down to Kells Bay”, no words needed.  We have been to Kells Bay, cloudy day but the song brought some brightness to the place. Emma’s music is somehow always there. We saw her in a small venue in Dublin at the end of 2019 for the first time, what a great gig, and she even dedicated us a song as requested, looking forward to seeing her again soon.

And of course, all the buskers of Grafton Street, who despite the rain, the cold and the freezing wind keep the music going on while people walk up and down the street. I have myself stopped to listen more than once, lots of talented musicians there. They somehow offer the walkers an amazing life soundtrack. Priceless to be wandering along there while the ears are presented with a haven of melodies. If you venture it to the right pubs later in the evening, you are guaranteed live music, another great source of talent. I have myself sung along to “Dirty old town”, “Molly Malone”, and “Caledonia” countless times, among many others. It was in a pub in Curragha (Co Meath) when I first heard “Grace”, probably one of the most touching romantic songs ever written.

As I am writing away, the music guru John Creedon is on the background. I could not talk about music without mentioning him. He has been there so many evenings: in summer while having dinner outside in the courtyard, in the spring while admiring the new blossoms with a cup of tea around the garden, in the autumn while working on some crafts with a candle brightening up the room, in winter while having a hot brew well wrapped on the couch and writing one of my blogs. As one of his twitter followers said recently: “Why does the music always sound better when John plays it?”.

I am aware that these few lines do not do justice to the amazing amalgam of Irish music, it is just my humble homage to the immense range of talent the emerald isle holds. I still have loads to discover. I could say my next step is going to be trad, I may need some Irish dancing lessons first though…

I was driving home the other day and was listening to one of those country music programmes, and a song caught my attention. I am going to finish this blog with its words, so as Margo sings: “you know Ireland is dear to me, and that Ireland wills always be, so deep in my heart, forever I may roam, you know Ireland’s where I call home”.

Jay Cee Moon ©

The Emerald Isle, its landscapes!

I could not have a series of blogs about the amazing Emerald Isle without writing about its landscapes. Captivating, breath-taking and a soul haven. Relaxing, peaceful but at the same time invigorating. Colourful, majestic but dull at a times. Full of contrasts, completely different from the North to the South, from the East to the West. The sun enhances its magical beauty offering a powerful scenic view wherever you may be. The rain brings a mystical touch, and of course, a nightmare if you are outside driving or walking. The wind clears the air and blows the heads off us too, at least your hat, or your umbrella if it is also raining! Whether if it is sunny, rainy, or windy, the Emerald Isle welcomes you with plenty of hidden corners, still unspoilt and untouched by the hand of the modern world.

The two years before moving to Ireland I tried to relish as many long weekends here, summer holidays, Easter breaks, Christmas holidays, or any available breaks I had. I visited most of the spots for tourists, not ashamed of admitting this but it was the easiest way for me to rediscover some of the main attractions as well as getting my soul reconnected to Ireland. Thanks to my adventurous soul, once I was settled in, I abandoned that path to follow the road less travelled by, as Robert Frost poetically embroiders in his poem “The Road not taken”: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference. It has indeed, for me. I have driven through the narrowest of the causeways to end up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by stunning views, all to myself. Simply priceless.

After nearly five years I have taken thousands of pictures, gathered loads of great memories, and lived unforgettable experiences while travelling around the Emerald Isle. Having said this, it is not difficult to understand my struggles to choose the best ones to feature in this blog. The list is never ending, I could say. What I have had the pleasure of visiting cannot be written down on a blog, cannot be summarized in just a few lines, cannot be described to do it justice. Simply precious.

I have seen many beautiful sunrises and sunsets, like over the top of a mountain, in a remote trá (beach) looking over the Atlantic, tainting the sky red over a field of crops, vanishing over the horizon along the river Liffey, and simply disappearing in the distance while the cows next door are mooing away. I have walked along many paths stopping every two seconds to admire the magnificence of some wildflowers, hiked strenuous trails to reach the top to take in mind-blowing views, strolled along beaches in a lovely summer day, but also on a grey and cold winter day, and felt the sea breeze embracing me. I have been brave enough to swim in the cold Atlantic waters, in summer of course, freezing but worthwhile. I have wandered around the busy streets of Dublin, Cork and Galway without feeling like a tourist. I have stood in Trinity College’s Parliament Square, in front of the Campanile, and felt peace. I have reached the top of Knocknarea, trekked to the cairns of Loughcrew, rambled in The Hill of Tara, and experienced the power of the ancient Celts holding my soul. I have sat in many piers, coffee in hand, to let my mind relax, to let my thoughts get some clarity. I have visited numerous gardens and savoured nature in a unique way, breathed in the perfumes of countless daffodils, roses and many other flowers and sat down on benches to just listen to the wind make its way through the branches. I have admired my moon reflecting on the sea, glanced at the stars in a secluded beach, woken up in a tent to absorb the sounds of the night.

I must admit that there is nothing like the west coast though. It is wilder, rarer, somehow warmer, and acts as a magnet, where one is drawn to inexplicably. The forgotten gem of County Sligo, a box full of surprises: waterfalls, mountain trails and stunning beaches usually to yourself. Belmullet Peninsula in County Mayo, I ended up there unexpectedly and I was taken away by its beauty and remoteness. The spectacular Connemara National Park with countless turquoise water and white sand. County Clare offers you the great opportunity of having an improvised homemade picnic over one of the cliffs in the Loop Head Peninsula. County Kerry, wisely called the Kingdom, has plenty of unspoilt conners to discover. And for me, the winner is West Cork with its trio of peninsulas: Mizen, Sheep’s Head and my beloved Beara. Thanks to a very good friend of my partner, I have, we have, had the chance of discovering the wilderness and the magnificence of probably one of the most remote piece of land on the Wild Atlantic Way. Beara alights my soul, lifts up my spirits and holds my heart delicately. Unfortunately, and in my mind in order to protect the uniqueness of its landscape, I have three rules about Beara:

  1. You cannot tell anybody about Beara
  2. You cannot talk to anybody about Beara
  3. You cannot spread the word about Beara

I could write for Ireland about its landscapes, stunning views, and the stunning coastline, truly incredible. Luckily for you, dinner is ready.  Slán anois!

Jay Cee Moon ©

The Emerald Isle, its people!

I have finally managed to focus on my exciting blog project: my five blogs about Ireland. My humble homage to the emerald isle as I am heading to my fifth-year anniversary of moving here. It is somehow scary to realise how quickly time passes by and seems like only yesterday when I landed in Rosslare. What an exciting journey, what an amazing experience, what an incredible opportunity!

This, the first of the series will praise those who I have met along the way; probably without knowing they have helped to make me feel like I am home. I am aware that there are all sorts of people wherever you go, but most Irish are welcoming, warm, helpful, generous, talkative, funny, and of course good craic.

In one of my trips, returning from Ireland, just before moving there, I sat next to a couple on the plane. I cannot remember how we started a conversation. Five years later I have no doubt that as they were both Irish, the horrible weather we were leaving behind and the hope for some Mediterranean climate must have gotten us to chat. They were eager to listen to my plans of leaving everything behind and making my dream come true. They were so fascinated with my determination that we exchanged phone numbers so we could stay in touch. They also helped me to get in touch with a recruitment agency. I felt like I had won the lottery, as if I had got the lucky seat! Five years later, I can tell that this is what many Irish do; help others even if they are strangers.

Another memory, after I moved here, on a cold winter afternoon; I had gone for a stroll in Phoenix Park and decided to treat myself to a nice cup of tea and some cake. All the small tables in the café were taken so I took a seat at a nice big table with a bunch of fresh flowers. I felt bad for having such a big table to myself because in Catalonia we do not share tables. Imagine my surprise when a man on his late seventies and his grandson (probably on his early twenties) asked me if they could sit down? What? At my table? Really? Am I supposed to say yes? Cannot they see I am sitting here? Despite that, I smiled and agreed, at the end of the day the table was big enough, so there was no need to interact with them. Famous last words! We chatted away for a couple of hours, talking about following your dreams, enjoying many moments and being true to yourself. What had started as a shock for me ended up being an unforgettable experience!

At one stage I decided I had been to Phoenix Park too many times, and spotted Saint Anne’s Park on a map. It seemed big enough for a nice long stroll. As I was waiting for the bus, I asked the lady next to me if this was the right one, which triggered a nice chat. The usual banter, the weather! Talking about it brings you anywhere, helps you get what you need, makes you seem like a local. The bus arrived and we got on together, while still talking away. A couple of stops later, the lady announced that she was going to make sure I got to the park by getting off the bus with me and walking me to the door. She added “it is only a couple of stops away from mine, and I can do with a bit of walking”. What a nice thing to do! There we go, chatting away about life, making memories, and following your dreams all the way to the door of the park. Just before walking down the road to her house, the lady congratulated me on my bravery and wished me the best of luck.

Last summer, while on a camping outing with my partner, we decided to go for a walk and explore the countryside, as we always do. Warm evening, blue skies, taking pictures, making plans, relishing the sounds of nature in the middle of nowhere. We caught sight of house with a lovely garden, flowers, pots, unusual ornaments, and a stream. We got lost in time admiring the inspiring beauty of the place when the owner came out to greet us. After a few compliments on the beautiful display, he offered to give us a tour around his farm, so off we went. What a great opportunity! As we were about to leave, the wife came running towards us to apologise on her absence. She had been getting ready to go and collect their grandson from town, which meant unfortunately, she wasn’t able to offer us a cup tea and some cake. Just to make up for that, she had brought out a couple of ice-creams for us to enjoy. What a nice thing to do! I still remember her disappointment at not being able to invite us in, and her willingness to apologise and share a treat with us – two complete strangers!

I have lots of stories that I have collected over the years along the same lines, maybe for another blog though. I cannot thank those whom I have crossed paths with enough. The Emerald Isle, and its people, have made me feel like I am home.

Jay Cee Moon ©

Home is where the soul finds peace…

I cannot believe it; my last blog was in August last year! Time flies, doesn’t it? My 2020 blog postings were very productive with plenty of inspiration. On the contrary, my 2021 posts turned out to be a bit quieter, not as I had thought it would though. As I look back, the lack of posts is disappointing and a bit annoying and I must confess that I feel like I have let myself down over the last few months. But the thing is, despite the fact it may sound like the perfect excuse, I have been busy with my crafts. I have had to channel my creativity into that direction, as plenty of fairs were planned. 2022 is here and the push is back, words cannot wait to be released. I want to write, I need to write, I deserve to write.

I have been trying to make my mind up on what I should be writing about on my first 2022 blog. It hasn’t been as easy I thought. Leaving my blog aside for so long has made me a bit rusty. Nothing that a cup of tea cannot cure. There we go, the smell of freshly brewed tea has awakened my inspiration. It is pretty overcast out there, hence my good friend the candle twinkling away embracing the hustle and bustle of my words.

We have heard it so many times, we have read it countless times, we have said it in numerous occasions: home is where the heart is. Somehow, I could agree to disagree. I do prefer my own version though: home is where your soul finds peace. How often we do forget to look after our soul. Life is a busy madness of never-ending useless commitments, life is full of ridiculous chores which require immediate attention, life is a fast-paced race towards what society claims to be needed. How often we do make emphasis on the matters of the heart. Love is all you need. Love brings you happiness. Love will keep you going. How often we do ignore the fact that our soul is restless, is troublesome, is simply unattended. Once one fully understands the importance of having a happy healthy peaceful soul there is no way back.

Not that long ago, as I was unpacking some of my belongings, I came across some old photos of me. Having a look at them, I realised how abandoned my soul had been. It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul, I couldn’t agree more. Those pictures highlighted a sad soul, an empty soul, a very unhappy soul. My aura was nothing but dull, lifeless, gloomy. The focus of my life had stuck to trying to find the dream job, the perfect partner, the right path to follow. I had lost sight of where my soul was heading to. I had overlooked what was important to my soul. I had disregarded the peace my soul was crying out for. I had been wandering on the path of my existence as a mere soulless being. If it had not been for those images, I would not probably have been aware of the importance of my soul being at peace.

On my first trip back to Catalonia after having moved to Ireland, one of my aunts pointed out to my mum that I look different, that my eyes had a special sparkling shine, that my aura was full of life. Her words made me smile, however I did not pay much attention to that. In fact, I had completely forgotten about it until the day a few boxes with my stuff arrived, which my parents had stored for me. I could not believe my eyes, the words of my aunt rushed to my mind: my soul had changed! As if a gigantic bucket of shiny sparkling twinkling glitter had been poured over me. My soul had finally found peace.

Pictures are great to determine if our soul is well looked after. They capture the essence of the aura so we can have a glimpse. In my case, they made me realise how much I had ignored the call of my soul. Life has its ups and downs, days can be tough sometimes, nights may awake those old gremlins of mine, but my soul has eventually been able to treasure moments of peace.

As I am heading to my five years anniversary in Ireland, my next blogs will be a tribute to the Emerald Isle and its uniqueness where my soul has found those moments of peace.

Jay Cee Moon ©

Downtime…

The storm seems to be over; puddles are now a pool for the birds. The sun is shinning again, petrichor is still around. The courtyard lushness enhances the view from the kitchen. Inspiration is definitely here and so is my cup of tea.

A while ago I was talking to one of my students and she said something that piqued my curiosity. We were chatting about plans for the weekend when she told me that Sunday was her “nothing to do time”. What? Nothing? How come? I was shocked but at the same time eager to figure out how to teach myself how to do nothing without feeling guilty about it. I am always on the go, keeping myself as busy as possible, having never ending “to do” lists. In other words, I find it difficult to just sit down and do absolutely nothing. When I am not doing “this” I am doing “that”. If I manage to sit down, it is just to think what to do next. Do I really need to be busy all the time? Does it make sense to be always doing something without a break? Do I really need to push myself that far? Her words stuck in my mind.

We are always running, trying to get thinks done, just because this is the way we were brought up. We are always far too busy, aiming to finish all our chores, just because we think this is how life is supposed to be.  We are always worried we will not have enough time for all our tasks, just because we are constantly reminded of the importance of accomplishments. We are always overloading ourselves with meaningless responsibilities, just because the focus remains on what it has been achieved. We are always thinking tomorrow will be too late, just because postponing is not the right thing to do. We are often forgetting that booking some downtime is vital. We are often ignoring that rest is essential. We are often overlooking the need of doing nothing. The power of guilt is so strong. The power of shame is so cruel. The power of failure is so devastating. But in fact, we should not feel guilty for having nothing to do. We should not be ashamed of not being busy. We should not feel like failing for not getting things done.  It is simply ok not to be doing anything.

Nothingness should be part of our daily or weekly routines. Since doing nothing is not a crime. I can assure it is a good way of looking after ourselves indeed. Downtime is not being lazy, it is not procrastinating, it is not slackness. There is not anything wrong with making sure, we have time to do nothing. We should not be judging our need for downtime, accusing ourselves of not being disciplined enough or even worse, stigmatising our behaviour as inadequate. I so often run myself down for wasting time by doing nothing. I so often tell myself off for not being productive. I so often look down on myself for not making much progress. Every now and again, I even find myself getting annoyed for just pottering around and letting my mind wander. One day, I will be able to enjoy my downtimes without guilt. One day, I will be capable of doing nothing and feeling great. One day, I will be ready to just chill out and appreciate the peace of mind by doing nothing.

The storm is back, puddles are now a pool of circles. The sun is hiding behind those dark clouds, raindrops falling symphony. The courtyard is soaked, raindrops draw a lavish picture. My cup of tea is finished but the candle is now burning. Inspiration is still here.

Downtime, still struggling with it. I do have a long journey ahead, but I am making some progress though. The other day, my partner said to me that he was going to lay down and rest, he looked at me and added “I guess you will keep buzzing around as you always do”. He was wrong, I joined him, laid down and did nothing but rest. I did not feel guilty afterwards. Improving!

Downtime, time to do nothing at all! No guilt, no shame, no failure.

Jay Cee Moon ©

The unknown path…

I cannot even think of the last time I sat in front of my laptop to write on my blog! The only thing that I am sure is that it was a dull day, I had my cup of tea, a candle trying to brighten up the room and my inspiration was on fire! It feels like a Groundhog Day as it is miserable out there, heavy rain, strong gusts of wind, my cup of coffee is here and so is the candle. I can feel that my inspiration is on its way. Let’s get those words make sense!

I though that once I had time to myself, I would be unstoppably writing on my blog. I guess my mind had other plans, I just simply got the priorities wrong. Four months ago, I quit my job. It was dragging my down and draining my energy. It did not come as an easy decision to make but I knew it was the right thing to do. Do not get me wrong, it was not definitely something that happened overnight. Plenty of hours invested in shutting up the devil gremlin which kindly kept reminding me I should not be quitting my job. But life is far too short to be stuck in a role which does not intellectually challenge you anymore. Not only was I demotivated but also wasting my time. I had no idea of what I would be doing next, I just needed to get myself out of there. Bravery and eagerness had won again! Proud for simply being true to myself.

So here I am four months later having finally found time to get down to my blog. Time flies, doesn’t it? The thing is, I have kept myself busy, doing what I had not had a chance to do for a long time. Spending hours in the garden while enlightening my soul with the sound of birds and the smell of the new blossoms; simply sitting outside soaking up with sun while relishing my morning coffee; listening to music and singing along, even daring to dance; being creative and eager to come up with new ideas for my hand painted stones; going for long walks as well as discovering hidden corners; ensuring to have time for my mind to rest; driving with no rush to the supermarket whilst that powerful song is being played; putting time aside to think and process those thoughts trapped in my mind; being aware of the importance of my wellbeing;  smiling to the red sky at the sunset wondering what the next day would bring. The joy of being here and now!

Once again in my life, I stepped out of my comfort zone. It may be addictive. The power of having the reins of your life is priceless. It is like being on a rollercoaster and feeling the adrenaline running all over your body. Scary at the same time though as unexplored paths can be foggy, steep and narrow. But once you have done it, you feel you can do it again since the fears are less. The comfort of the known unknown. Being aware of my own limits as well as strengths has guided me along the journey and made it a bit easier. Being able to handle those old gremlins of mine has loosened the ties of my self-judgement. Being capable of savouring each step I have taken has been the perfect icing on my cake.

As I am moving forward along the path, the fog seems to be vanishing. I still cannot see the end but that is fine. When needed I stop, to savour the views of the path I have already walked, to appreciate where I am now, to embrace what is ahead of me. When needed I take a deep breath, to recover from those steep steps, to take in what is around me, to charge batteries for the next steps. When needed I give myself a tap on the shoulder for what I have already achieved, for me to enjoy the present moment, for me to gain strength to continue my path. Despite not knowing where I am going yet I am sure that I will end up finding that turn which is awaiting me somewhere along the way.

Four months ago, I decided to follow an unknown path… I still do not know where it will take me to, but I will keep enjoying every single second of it. As someone once said, it is not the destination but the journey!

Jay Cee Moon ©

A place called loneliness…

Not sure what happened to my inspiration, it abandoned me on New Year’s Eve. It has been gone for several weeks, as if it has been hibernating, taking some time off. It is grand though, it is what it is. We so often do try to push things rather than going with the flow. Luckily, it seems to be around again, somehow at least, despite the gusts of freezing cold wind outside. May the title of my new blog sound a bit depressing; it surely matches the bitter winter embracing us at the moment. Needless to say, there will be plenty of positive twists.

Another difficult topic to openly write about but at the end of the day, it is part of who I am, of my uniqueness. One of those old gremlins of mine which I am still learning to live with.  It has been around for so long that one would think I should be well used to hanging out with him. On the contrary, I am still struggling to cope with. It is powerful, as if it could not be defeated. Definitely one of those you would rarely welcome in for a cup of tea, not even on a cold winter evening. Years go by and there he still is, determined to pay me a visit as he pleases, obviously without notice.

Loneliness turns up unexpectedly. It hits me by surprise with the strength of a devastating tsunami. Untimely disappointing, unpredictably inconvenient, unannouncedly inopportune, out of the blue, there he goes. The coldness of solitude embraces me, the darkness of isolation imprisons me, the bewilderment of incomprehension takes over me. Tears roll down my face completely out of control. Although I do not want to be alone, no one can see me like this. Tears roll down my face unstoppably out of command. Despite desperately needing a hug, nobody can trespass my barriers. Tears roll down my face, uncontrollably out of reach. In spite of requiring the warmth of a chat, I am too embarrassed to talk. Tears roll down my face, I am in a place called loneliness.

There was a time when I desperately wanted to be capable of annihilating this old gremlin of mine. Life taught me a great lesson: he was here to stay! I have now somehow managed to educate myself in how to live with him. One cannot swim against the stream for too long. When on trouble waters you’d better off just staying as safe as possible so you do not drain your energy. Hold fast, keep swimming close to the shore, do not stop breathing. Remain calm, do not let your fears betray you, make sure panic does not conquer your mind. Stay positive, have faith, do not give up. At some point you will reach calmer waters. Whenever aloneness shows up, I avoid the old battle approach. I simply let it be to let it go.

Rather than hating myself for not being able to get rid of this horrendous, upsetting and overwhelming dark side of mine; in lieu of loathing myself for not having enough strength to avoid the unforeseen storm; instead of strongly disliking myself for surrendering to the depths of solitude… I choose to accept that this gloomy me is who I am. I do sometimes go to a place called loneliness but there is nothing wrong with it. Every now and then, I do give in to feeling miserable and misunderstood but it is ok to do so. Once in a while, I let myself down and cry a river but it is fine!

Tears roll down my face, I am in a place called loneliness… I hug myself while whispering that I will be ok… I just need to hold on, the storm will soon be over… I then smile!

Jay Cee Moon ©