Towards Dreams


Stormy Mayo coast

I’m quite literally on the eve of my dream life.

Sure, I thought that I would have my main base in Ireland, and that didn’t happen. I will, however, live in a beautiful place, radically be non-busy and focus on the things that light me up – my businesses and my other passions:

  • Coaching (which will be my main income).
  • Languages (freelancing as a proofreader and translator, also continuing to study Croatian).
  • Piano (more about that below).
  • Music in general (regular concerts, recitals, opera, whenever I get the chance. So many planned already for 2020).
  • Archery (haven’t found a club in my new home yet, but I’ll ask around once I arrive).
  • Nature and wildlife (plenty of that in Croatia).

I’ll also spend several months a year in Vienna. Come to think of it, every last thing I dreamt of is coming true, which is almost a little scary. No, not just almost. It’s actually not all that easy – people sabotage themselves all the time because they suddenly panic when things get “too good”. It’s what Gay Hendricks wrote about it The Big Leap. I’m already working on expanding my capacity for happiness, and I suspect this will be an ongoing process for a good while yet.

It feels surreal to write this on my last evening in Ireland. The last time I left this country, I cried the whole time and later fell into a clinical depression. That’s not going to happen this time; I’m ready to go, and the world is very different from the way it was then. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not possible to go back. Nostalgia is the false promise of a lost paradise, when actually the only time to be happy is the present, and the only true promise is the future.

I said good-bye to friends over the last weeks; watched a last solstice sunrise, or rather, watched the clouds changing colour once again, because in all the last 14 years since I returned to Ireland, I’ve never managed to see an actual sunrise on the winter solstice. But it was beautiful. I then spent a wonderful morning in my favourite place in the world with my friends from the Mayo Archery Club, having great food, tea, a good chat and a laugh, and of course shooting the course in Massbrook. Without question, this is what – and who – I’ll miss most.

Mayo Archery Club, Winter Solstice 2019

Last week, I went on a drive through Mayo to say good-bye to my county. It was a miserable day and therefore perfect: Storm and rain and that particular greyness which brings out the incredible colours of the landscape. Brown-red contrasting with the silver-grey of the rocks, the green of the grass, and the dark grey of the sea. It was beautiful.

I’ll miss the fresh, salty air the most. But I suspect I’m going to love the mild mediterranean climate, the beautiful nature, the food and the lovely people in my new home. It’s been quite an experience to prepare the move, sell off my things here and throw out others. I’ve never been a hoarder, but nothing forces you to clear out junk like an international move. It’s a relief to let go of things.


Winter Solstice dawn between two lakes (Mt. Nephin in the distance)

The hardest part was letting go of my piano. After my solstice celebrations, I’ve had the first few days off in a long time over Christmas, and I would have loved to spend hours practising. I do not know how I ever managed to live without a piano. They were desperate times, and I hope I’ll never be in such a dire situation again.

But really it’s not all that sad because I’ve fulfilled another dream – one I’ve had for over 20 years. You see, before the little Laniem I bought last year (and now sold again), I’d never really owned a piano. My parents always stressed that the piano I practised on at home as a child, belonged to the whole family. Later I rented pianos wherever I lived at the time.

It was in a piano store in Vienna some time in the 90s that I sat down at an August Förster upright and felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. An attack like silk and velvet, and a full, bell-like sound made my chin drop. I fell in love then and there and have been dreaming of my own Förster since.

By now, I’ve saved about half the 13k Euro for the smallest August Förster model (how they manage to keep them so affordable, I do not know – remember a piano has more parts than a car and lasts many decades longer than a car, if looked after properly!). I had the choice of either buying another cheap compromise that I’ll sell at a loss when I have the money for my Förster saved, or being bold. And I made a decision, took the other half out of my savings (which I’ll have replenished in about three years), and ordered a Förster from a piano store in Austria.

I have told very few people about this. Mostly because I wasn’t coherent for the first weeks afterwards. I’m still tingly and can’t believe it’s actually happening! I’m getting my own August Förster piano!!

The best part? When I ordered it, they started building it, and I kept getting updates. If you’d like to know what this process involves, here’s a short video – Förster are the only traditional piano manufactory that still builds their pianos in Germany from A to Z. After some weeks, the update was that they were doing the final voicing and tuning, and a little later my piano arrived at the store in Austria. From which it’ll be delivered to me in early January, once I’ve moved into the kućica!

How gorgeous is this?? And trust me, it sounds even better.

The next time you’ll hear from me, I’ll be in my new home. Please understand that I’ll not be able to reply to messages or emails in the next week; I’ll have limited access to internet and stay in guest houses and similar. I’ll probably still see your message, but please don’t expect to hear back before the 3rd of January or so. Until then, a very happy New Year to you!

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8 thoughts on “Towards Dreams

  1. I’m so excited for you! You’ve talked about a Förster piano for about as long as I’ve known you so this is amazing!!!
    Have a great trip, I hope you’ll take lots of pictures along the way and I can’t wait to hear all about your new home. Lots of love!!!

  2. Ali

    Good luck with your new life and everything that you do.
    I hope you and your new piano will be very happy together in your new home. X

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