Over the past few months, life has been filled with dissertation writing, long bike rides, morning runs, moving houses, serving locals and tourists at the Wild Atlantic Lodge, painting successes and failures, chats with dear friends, and plenty of self-reflection. Time I would usually allot for blogging has been spent elsewhere, but I felt the need to share today.
Above is the house I am currently living in with two AWESOME young women—Kaitlynn Webster and Katie Kramer. Kaitlynn’s birthday was this month, here we are celebrating at the local Italian restaurant. I could celebrate her every day as she’s constantly inspiring me to be more independent and to challenge my own capabilities.
Katie is also a gem and a half. Here we are at the top of Abbey hill after a much-needed hike post a long day of midterm critiques. Katie is not only a stellar friend, but an amazing chef. She generously shares her fabulous baking and cooking…serious guilt over here for how much I take advantage of all of her goodness. Katie makes me laugh and is THE best to curl up in some blankets and enjoy a movie with.
Needless to say, I am really enjoying sharing a house with friends. Though she isn’t one of my roommates, I also have to brag about Morgan Madison. She’s another MFA second year at the Burren College of Art. A few evenings ago she invited me over for dinner and gave me a tutorial on styling curly hair. Morgan’s curls are absolute perfection and she’s great at giving me confidence to embrace my own.
This weekend clocks fell back and we gained an extra hour of sleep, providing a bit more daylight in the morning hours. An extra hour of morning light makes a huge difference in my life, though I know it will fade as the winter sets in. Regardless, I am grateful for the moments it is giving me in the present. Most all of my mornings begin with a run. As the days have been darker and colder, getting out of bed has become less pleasant, but I am never regretful once I’ve returned from the brisk Irish air.
One of my friends from work, Danny, has been joining me on Monday morning runs. Getting to chat with him is an extra boost of positivity for the day ahead. On other days, I’ve been listening to the Optimal Living Daily podcast. I can get through about 4-5 10-minute episodes in my loop. Each episode is a reading from a blog post or book and the topics surround ideas of living well. If you’re interested, you can find it on the podcast app or on Spotify—I totally suggest giving it a try!
Yesterday, I spent the day with my dear friend, Karen Quinn, at a charity cycling sportive called “When in doubt, Pedal it out.” Donations and entry for the sportive supported mental health services for County Clare. My group cycled 85 kilometers through East Clare, stopping for food breaks along the way. It was chilly, but the sun was shining, and spirits were high as we took in the gorgeous scenery and climbed around 700 meters. Here’s a group of us at a rest/refuel stop about 50K into the spin. I’m sporting my usual pink:).
Though I am happy to support most (ethical) philanthropic efforts, I felt particularly good about supporting mental health services in yesterday’s spin. Many individuals are uncomfortable discussing mental health, especially when it is rooted in personal experiences. Despite its taboo nature, everyone is affected by the state of their mental health—positively or negatively. When we accept the inevitability of its presence and share our experiences with trusted others, we weaken the subject’s unspeakable quality.
For me, cycling and running have been a wonderful outlets for enhancing my mental health. On days when I feel low, whether I can rationalize the feeling or not, I love getting out for a cycle or run. Exerting my body physically gives me energy and assists in making my perspective a more accurate depiction of my present state.
Anyway, I hope all of you have had a lovely month of October filled with whatever brings you life-satisfaction. Stay warm as the winter sets in and remember to take time for yourself and your dear friends…there’s an unmatchable warmth that only good friends can bring to drive out the chill.