Strangest Things

How cute is this??

Gods, there is just so much to do!!

(…she cried, as she was enjoying the shit out of all the insecurity, chaos, and rapid change)

But seriously, it’s getting a little scary. I’m currently on a weekend shift, and come Monday, I’ll have all of two more weeks left at my job. I’m still madly organising the move and all the bits and pieces connected with it, and juggling this with friends who are coming to see me because, well, they won’t see me again in a while. Obviously, I’m making time for that, but it’s not easy alongside working my hagish backside off for my two businesses, which will have to carry me financially a few short weeks from now.

Before I continue with the interesting stuff, here’s a few practical announcements, to anyone here in Ireland: I’m selling off some of my stuff! As in:

  • 3 tall bookcases, black
  • 1 chest of drawers, black
  • 2 more chests of drawers, pine and a darker wood
  • 1 IKEA double bed in pine with hardly-used mattress
  • 1 IKEA wardrobe

Anyone who’s interested, and able to pick up what they wish to buy here in Mayo, they’re yours at a nominal price. And the piano – in excellent condition and only a few years old – is 2,000 EUR and will be transported professionally to wherever you live. Get in touch, shoot me an email or a Facebook message, and we’ll sort something out.

Piano in excellent condition – 2,000 EUR!

To those of my friends who usually send me seasonal cards: I’ve moved from the place I was in last year, and while I’m happy to give you my current (temporary) address, please do keep in mind that I’ll leave right after Christmas. So either send your cards really early, or consider waiting and sending me a different greeting to my new home in Croatia a few weeks later! I’m happy to give you that address as well.

Because yes, I’ve found a kućica, a little house to rent. It’s lovely, perfect for me, just outside of Rijeka and in the garden of my landlady’s house, as you can see above. The interior is just as pretty! Cue happy hag.

So now this headache is dealt with, I’m finding pockets of time to contemplate the huge shift in my life. Anyone who reads this blog, will hardly be surprised to learn that while I’m a fairly rational person who likes factual evidence and all that, I’m also up to my neck in the woo-woo – magic, intuition, the spiritual world, and the classic elements of earth, fire, air, and water are a hag’s natural habitat. And thinking of the latest developments and my upcoming move, I can’t help but wonder how it all came together and fell into place.

There are little things I never mentioned before, because they either seemed insignificant or just me being a little silly as usual. In hindsight, they make me go “hmmmmm!” For example, when I first decided to learn Croatian in March/April this year, I passed the weeks until the sign-up to the beginner’s course opened (in May) by reading up and watching every documentary I could get my hagish claws on, about Croatian nature, people, geography, history, politics… I’ve always loved maps, and so I also spent hours on Google Maps.

But I didn’t just look at places, I found myself looking up towns and districts and contemplating which would be the best place for me to settle down in. Then I’d pull myself up and think, ‘what am I doing, I’m only ever going to spend a holiday in Croatia. It’s not like I’m moving there.’ Little did I know! And this is just one example out of about a dozen things that were not-at-all-subtly nudging me. It wasn’t just a once-off either, I found myself obsessively coming back to the map, and Wikipedia, and looking up places for rent (yes, really) all over the place.

In hindsight, it was perfectly obvious. But my stubborn head was so intent on buying a house here come hell or high water, I didn’t even see it.

When the house in Kilmaine fell through near the end of August, my first thought was: “Fine, I’ll move to Croatia then.” This is the first time I remember thinking it in this clarity. I still dismissed it as a slightly crazy Sibylle-plan and only told very few people I was even considering it. But I found myself getting unreasonably excited at the prospect. Eventually, I strictly told myself that it was time to act like an adult and be a homeowner, and then I jumped right into the attempted purchase of the house near Kilkelly. It was only when that became impossible despite me allowing no doubt and thinking of it as “my house” and fighting tooth and nail, that I remembered that “other option”.

You may make of this what you will, but I believe some things happen for a reason, and this is clearly my path. I’m very, very curious what it’ll bring.

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Fun Facts

Look what I found! This is just one of many tourism videos about my soon-to-be town. Be sure to set the resolution to the highest value possible (by clicking on the little cog wheel), and you’ll get a slideshow of the town, historical buildings, market, harbour… It’ll give you a bit of an impression.

As for me, I’m caught up in a whirlwind of preparations. There’s so much to do, and time seems to fly and crawl at the same time. I’ll spare you the details of all the things I’m organising right now and instead entertain you with a few fun facts:

  • I’m about to move just over 1,900 km South-East, as the crow flies. Holy shit!
  • Because roads aren’t straight, I’ll actually be driving closer to 2,500 km.
  • Exactly seven weeks from now I’ll spend my last night in Ireland. Early on the 28th, I’ll drive to Dublin port and board the ferry to France.
  • Within three days, I’ll cross five international borders, driving through Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and finally Croatia.
  • My new home is eight degrees further South than my old one, and six degrees further East.
  • This means that on the day of the Winter Solstice each year, Rijeka gets a full 1 hour and 20 minutes more daylight than my little village here in County Mayo.

Apologies to those who aren’t as fascinated by numbers and facts as I am. I’ve been known to pour over maps and globes endlessly and read up on places I’m interested in. Geography Now! is my favourite YouTube channel bar none.

In the meantime, I fluctuate between ecstatic happiness and fits of being “scared of my own courage”, as the Germans put it. What if I can’t live off my businesses? What if I never ever ever ever find a place to rent in Rijeka? What if they don’t like hags in Croatia? What if I never find any friends ever again??

Don’t worry; after being me for 49 years, I know not to take these phases too seriously. They are few and far between, and they’re simply a result of being highly sensitive and highly emotional. In fact, this meme I found on Facebook a while ago, perfectly describes me to a T:

I’ve never felt so understood in my life! LOL.

One thing that does make me sad is that I won’t be able to take my piano. Now, this is still the cheap-ish model I bought last year, but it’s actually really decent for its price, and it’s the piano that helped me begin to regain some of my former skill. Well, very little of it, actually, but that’s down to my lack of time for practice. This will change next year, and ironically that’s when I won’t have my piano anymore. So fingers crossed that I’ll find an affordable and decent one somewhere around Rijeka.

And if you know someone who’d like to buy a piano that’s easily worth 3 grand (ca. 5 years old and played for only 1) for 2,000 EUR, let me know. It’s a steal.

What’s absolutely typical of me is that I’m far more worried about finding a good piano than I am about finding a house, haha! Maybe, just maybe I should put my efforts into getting a place to stay first, or I’ll end up with a piano and no house to put it in. That’s hagish priorities for you.

I’m enjoying the excitement so much, but it can make it a little difficult to concentrate on work and do things like, you know, get enough sleep. The best way of grounding myself at the moment is to remember that I’m still here right now, and Mayo is as beautiful as it’s always been. And nowhere am I more grounded that when I’m in Massbrook, shooting.

In the kill!

Two announcements before I close:

  1. If you’re in Ireland and would like to see me before I leave, please get in touch now. It’s slightly frightening how little time I’ll have between now and the holidays, I’m going to have to plan for it if I want to see you (and if you read this, rest assured that I do want to see you!).
  2. If you’re going to come to my 50th in Vienna, keep an eye on the Facebook event tomorrow – I’m going to post a few things we could go to around my birthday, some of which I’ll order tickets for within the next few days.
This is one view I’ll definitely miss

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Preselim Se U Rijeku

Lough Conn, Co Mayo

I once swore to myself that I’d never move away from Ireland again.

From the first time I set foot on this island, it’s been my home. I still can’t explain why. For years, I cried every time I left. It’s why I usually got a window seat on the plane: I could turn my face away and look outside while tears were streaming down my face. I don’t remember when exactly this changed, but it must have been around 10 years ago, when I finally believed I was really, truly at home here now and would be coming back.

When I had to return to Germany in 1992 after being here for a couple years as a student, I fell into a clinical depression. That was when I made myself the above promise, a promise I’m about to break. But after the initial sadness, I’m actually happy about it. I know I’ll miss this place and its beauty and its people, and my favourite cafe, and the lakes and the hills and the storms and the rainbows. But people have always been forced to leave this island, and I’m so much better off than the millions who went before me. I’ll stay in Europe. I’ll be able to fly back and visit at any time. And I might even return; the jury’s still out on that.

So here’s what happened: My bank pulled the plug on the mortgage. It’s a long story I won’t bother you with. Disgusted, and not one to give up easily, I offered the sellers a rent-to-own deal, which they considered but then declined.

Did I really really want to buy a house here? Yes. But I’ve tried for 10 months, had three deals fall through, I fought for each of them tooth and nail, and you see, I have this pact with life: I trust and in return it guides me. I made this pact long ago and it’s never failed me. Fight for something, yes, but if you keep getting hit over the head, there’s a message there: This isn’t for you at this time.

I’m not sad about it. Or angry. I mean, the mortgage system in this country is ridiculous and rigged against anyone who doesn’t have parents who give them a piece of land, or 50 grand to pay down. But I’m not adding my energy to it by ranting about it. I might still get a house at some point. For now, I’m investing the little money I’ve got and saving some more. I’m actually grateful, because as I said in my previous entry, I’m giddy with excitement about my next adventure.

Here’s the plan.

Actually, I’ll start with what prompted me to come up with this particular plan: I realised that if I was going to keep renting, it couldn’t be in Ireland, where the countrywide average for a 1-bedroom apartment is now 1,300 EUR a month. Excluding bills. So I began to ponder a few things. If I had to move away, I reasoned, then at least I’d escape the terrible weather. Heck, why not go somewhere with really nice weather. And a coast, because I can’t be without a big water near me (I mean, I can, I have been for decades, but it’s miserable).

Have you put the title of this post into a translator yet? It means: “I’m moving to Rijeka.”

There it is! Click for a larger version.

I swear that’s not what I was planning to do when I decided to learn Croatian earlier this year! In fact, my idea was to study for a few years and then reward myself with regular holidays in Croatia, so I could practice. I’m nowhere near a level where I could actually have a conversation with native speakers yet.

But now that I’m in this situation, I realise that it’s a perfect fit. It’s a EU country, beautiful, with lovely people and reasonable prices – at least for someone who works internationally and location-independently the way I will once I’ve given up my job.

Rijeka is the third largest city in Croatia, it’s all of two hours away from Zagreb on the motorway, and it’s on the coast of Istria, not far from Slovenia and Italy. It’s got a university and quite an international community, but it’s not one of the main centres of tourism (thank the gods). And it’s got a harbour, and I’ve always loved ships and boats. It’s also a three hours’ drive from Venice!

There’s another, more serious issue I haven’t really spoken about yet. For the past several months, something weird has been happening to my lungs. Basically, every time I breathe, there’s a rattling and a feeling like my lungs are coated with something. I also cough at times, but not in the way of an infectious cough. Now, my entire breathing tract has always been the weakest part of my body health-wise, and Ireland is incredibly damp and has one of the highest incidences of asthma. It’s quite possible that life really is watching out for me here – general wisdom has always been to recommend a mediterranean climate for such matters…

Rijeka waterfront

So in December, I’ll put my books and most of my stuff into storage here in Ireland (in a year or so, I’ll either come back or bring it over, depending on where I decide to settle down), and then after Christmas, I’ll load my clothes, computer, and sheet music into my car and take the ferry to France. Then I’ll spend two days driving through France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia – visiting Helena along the way – before crossing the Croatian border and arriving in Rijeka on the 31st, in time for New Year’s Eve fireworks!

There’s tons to prepare and arrange of course, but the most important stuff is done. I’ve got my ticket and my overnight stays booked, as well as a hostel called “Music House” (!) in Rijeka for the first week. After that, I’ll either have a flat or I’ll find another temporary place – early January is hardly the height of the tourist season.

I’ve reached out to a few archery clubs, researched banks, and am keeping an eye on property to rent. The best part is that all the people I know from that part of the world, are really excited and happy for me (and my Croatian teacher pointed out that I’ll have to actually speak Croatian every day then! Haha). Yes, I’ll miss my soul’s home, but this is an adventure and it’ll be fabulous. And just think: You’ll all have a place to stay if you ever decide to holiday in Croatia! Otherwise, if you want to see me, you’ll just have to come to my 50th in Vienna.

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Falling Together Or Falling Apart?

Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna (more pictures of Vienna in the FB event for my 50th birthday – remember, you’re invited!)

Holy cannoli, the amount of things that have happened!

To spoil the ending: The insecurity isn’t altogether gone, but the future is taking shape. Some things can still go wrong, but it’s beginning to come together.

The less cryptic version follows in the next paragraphs.

The house I was going to buy in Kilmaine fell through at the end of August. Funnily enough, I wasn’t too upset. It all happened in the most amicable way between the sellers and myself, and the short version of a long boring story is that in order to sell it, they would have had to make an upgrade that was so expensive, it wasn’t worth selling any longer, at least for the price.

I would have loved to live there, but I knew that something better must be around the corner. Around the same time, my landlord told me I had to move out at the end of September when my contract ended – up to then, he’d said I could stay for as long as I needed. Argh! I had a few days to my trip to Germany, then another week before leaving for Vienna, and then I had to move out a day after my return.

Bob Proctor once said that stress only happens when a time factor is added to a situation. And that’s so fucking true! I decided not to panic. I was outrageously happy in those days, I wasn’t going to let anything spoil it. So off I went to Germany.

I still can’t tell you what I’m bursting to say, but the trip to Germany and most of all, the recital in Hamburg, were worth all the expense and the effort. It was incredible! There I was in the beautiful Elbphilharmonie, and I arguably had the best seat in the entire hall. You can see me at the back of the stage, third seat from the left, in the lavender dress. I was really close and had a direct view of his hands – perfection!

Ivo Pogorelich, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, 27.08.2019 (picture found here)

The recital was incredible. He played a long program, and yet it seemed to fly past. It blew me away and made me think, smile, catch my breath, cry… I should be used to it by now, but in truth, I probably never will be. Thankfully, I didn’t fall down a rabbit hole of blackness afterwards, partly because I actually went and got his autograph this time – after 31 years it was about time, don’t you think? – on the new album, no less, which I bought on CD for this particular purpose (I usually buy only digital these days).

I returned home on a high and spent a week frantically working, packing my belongings, organising for my piano to be moved, and packing for Vienna, and then I went to my magic city for an amazing three weeks. I saw old friends, met new ones, went dancing, did some sightseeing, and most of all, studied my hagish ass off, because Croatian is difficult!! It’s also a gorgeous language I completely fell in love with. We were a nice little group, and our teacher is amazing.

Ready for some serious 70s and 80s dancing

To learn the equivalent of a semester’s course – the entire A 1.1 level – in just over two weeks for the test brought me to the limit of my mental capacity. I loved it, but gods, there was just so much to remember! I spent the last four days before the test hardly leaving the house and studying pretty much all the time. But it was worth it. I officially completed the level, and my teacher agreed to lessons through Skype, so now I’m doing A 1.2! I only wish I had more time to study. Did I mention I’m in love with this language?

While in Vienna, I found a house to move into back home, and movers to help me get there. Yes, really. I’ve moved to the East of Mayo, where I’ve also found another house to buy, or rather, a lovely little cottage in the countryside a few miles outside Kilkelly. But the house needs some work – insulation mainly – and so the auctioneer who handles the sale has offered me to rent a house in Kilkelly in the meantime, for three months until the end of the year. It has perfect internet, which is great for my work, and although it’s in the middle of the village, it’s surprisingly quiet. The people here are lovely!! I’ve really fallen on my feet.

Finding someone to insulate and damp-proof my cottage for a price I can afford proved to be difficult, so there were times when I thought I might not be able to buy it after all. And since my mortgage approval is about to expire, that would have been it – my plan B was to move out of the country. I love it here, it’s my soul’s home, but I simply cannot afford the hobby “renting in Ireland” any longer. If I’m going to be renting, it’ll be somewhere else.

Now that I’ve found a builder I can almost afford (well, I can’t, but I should be able to earn the extra cash), it’s beginning to look good. And if not, well, then I’m, in Bilbo’s words, “quite ready for another adventure”. It’s like I said in my last entry: Whatever happens, I’m excited about it. Life is pretty amazing when all your options are equally appealing. This is no accident, by the way. I’ve consciously built my life this way and sacrificed a lot else for it. And was it ever worth it!

The little cottage I’m buying

So now I’m going back and forth between my solicitor, my builder, the house, and the auctioneer, all whilst working full time, working in two businesses to make enough money to pay for it all, studying Croatian, practicing the piano, going for archery, and even trying to find time for the gym in between. Who needs sleep, eh?

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Insecurity + Transition = Joy

Sibylle on a hillside
Hag on a Hillside II

I haven’t updated this blog in such a long time, not because I didn’t have anything to write about, but because I kept hoping I’d have something final to say about the house! Unfortunately, it keeps dragging on. I’ll spare you the boring details; to be honest, it’s nothing unusual here in Ireland. Almost everyone buying a house goes through some major delays.

The problem with all this is that I’ll of course be in Vienna next month and by the end of September I need to move out of my current place, so it’ll be inconvenient at best – I’ll have to move in without painting first, what a pain in the arse – and at worst, the purchase will fall through because I’m running out of time. With my job, I can’t just sleep on someone’s couch for a few weeks, I need an office with a tested internet connection and give advance notice of the move.

I’m not actually looking for comments or even sympathy on this bit, just wanted to keep you up to date. I’ve been through some emotional storms about it, but by now I’ve regained not just my balance, but my exuberant joy, because I just know something absolutely amazing will come out of this. Either my own house, or a new adventure! At times I can’t tell which one I’m hoping for most. The possibilities are sheer endless, and life has got my back.

So many great things have happened, some of which I can’t talk about just yet. But I’m really, really looking forward to the next few months in general. Vienna and the language course will be amazing, I’ve scheduled meet-ups with friends and can’t wait to be back in the most magical city in the world. I’ve got opera, concert, and theatre tickets and so much studying to do, apart from my own business work, of course. It’s going to be amazing.

But first comes the evening I’ve been counting down to for over five months. In two weeks’ time I’ll be in Hamburg; actually, as I write this, in exactly two weeks’ time I’ll still be sitting in the Elbphilharmonie and, judging by the program, Ivo Pogorelich will probably be playing Gaspard de la Nuit. It’ll be the highlight in an amazing – and long! – program. I’m too excited for words and just wish I could speed up time and then put that one evening on repeat for a while.

It’s such a high-vibrations time. Filled with love and wonderful friends, and music, and the sheer magic of life unfolding its abundance. I’m so very ready for the next steps! This includes my transition to a life of freedom, which at this point looks like it’s actually going to happen as planned, at the end of this year. I’m working insane hours right now, but it’s so joyful, I hardly mind at all – oh, it does get too much sometimes, but my friends are there to catch me, they come up for an evening or meet me for a tea somewhere nearby because they know I can’t travel much right now.

I believe transition is the word that applies to pretty much all my life right now. And I’ve always loved these times of insecurity and change. They’re sometimes exhausting, but nothing makes me feel more alive.

Lough Mask
Lough Mask

Yes, the house purchase is stalling and may fall through. Yes, my osteoarthritis has become so bad I can’t shoot a bow with my hand anymore and had to get a wrist-release which is awkward and means I have to almost learn how to shoot from scratch again. Yes, I’m in front of a computer up to 16 hours a day. But I’m so very, very happy! I go to the forest (or somewhere green) once a week. I get to hug lovely people on occasion. And then there’s the music, having a piano to practise on, listening to my favourite recordings, and did I mention it’s only two weeks to go to the recital?? I may just burst with anticipation.

Of course, there’s also a full moon coming up in three days, which makes the whole thing even more intense right now. Lughnasad is over, the days are getting noticeably shorter, the luminous weeks are done, but for once I don’t dread the rest of the year. I have so much to look forward to in the coming months.

P.S. Sorry for some rather cryptic bits in this post: I will disclose more when I can, but I didn’t want to delay writing an update any longer, and now you at least know some of the news!

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5-Oh, Vienna, And You

The Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) The Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera)

This post contains an invite and stories. They’re connected. The invite is for you, and the stories are of my recent trip to Vienna, where you’re invited to. Let me explain.

Next February (13.02.2020), I’ll turn 50. I’ve decided to spend “half time” (on my journey to the 100 years I’m determined to reach) in my favourite city in the world, and also to invite absolutely everyone I know. I’m not sure about the details yet, but the 13th will be a Thursday, and of course the following day is Valentine’s Day, so in case you’re part of a couple, you should definitely bring your partner, because Vienna is hands down the best place to be in love. Seriously, forget Paris.

You could make a four-day weekend out of it. And because a trip like this requires advance planning, taking time off work etc, I’m telling you now, nearly 11 months in advance. I’m fully aware there might be 5 or 50 people showing up. I’m good either way, just know this: If you do come, you will get hag-hugged! There’s simply no way around that.

Read on to get a taste of the most magical city on earth. It’s steeped in the history of an entire continent (Habsburg empire, anyone?), art, theatre, music… you name it. Most major cities have one famous opera house, and/or world class theatre, and/or concert hall. Vienna has two of each of these, and that’s not counting the many excellent smaller stages and art galleries and museums and the sheer beauty of the architecture – look up anywhere and see artwork and sculpture on the sides of houses – the excellent food and drink, and the unique wry humour of the Viennese, who like to appear grouchy at first glance but really have huge hearts.

Yes, I'd love to go to that concert and hear Liszt playing live! Yes, I’d love to go to that concert and hear Liszt playing live! Alas for being nearly 150 years late.

I made it a musical trip this time, but please remember that Vienna is also the city of Gustav Klimt and much of the Art Nouveau movement of the Fin de Siècle. This is where Hofmannsthal and Schnitzler wrote their works and so many more lived and worked.

On my first evening, I felt a little lonely because my dear Kati, who was going to go to the opera with me to see Figaro, caught pneumonia of all things. I went on my own and sold her ticket to a Korean conductor who lives in the US and was stranded in Vienna for a night because his connecting flight got delayed. We spent all our time before the opera and during the breaks chatting about music – it was one of those Vienna encounters that happen all the time there. In between, we admired the view from our seats, from where we could see the entire orchestra and the conductor, as well as having a perfect view of the stage.

View of the audience and orchestra from my seat View of the audience and orchestra from my seat

The production was incredible, just the right mix between modern and traditional, and the singers were all excellent, in particular Cherubino, the Comtessa and Figaro himself. Thoroughly enchanted, but knackered after only three hours of sleep the previous night, I went straight to the hotel afterwards, still humming “Voi Che Sapete“.

I’d decided that after over 10 years away, I had every right to call myself a tourist again (forget for a moment that I used to live in and around Vienna for over six years), and so I went sightseeing the next day. First came the house where Schubert was born, where I was just about moved to tears listening to a recording of the “Wanderer Fantasie” played by Anatol Ugorski (note to self, look up more of Ugorski’s albums).

At Schubert's birthplace At Schubert’s birthplace

Then I went on to one of Mozart’s apartments in Vienna. What I love most about all these is the handwritten originals of famous pieces that are on display there. On Tuesday at Beethoven’s house, I even saw an early version of my favourite sonata. As well as an actual lock of Ludwig’s hair, which I found strangely touching.

Then there are the historical instruments, of course. Check out the five pedals!

This belonged to Schubert's brother This belonged to Schubert’s brother

In the afternoon, just when my feet began to protest, I met Tom for dinner and drinks and a good long chat and putting the world to rights. I almost forgot to take pictures but Tom remembered – this is us outside the Stephansdom (St Stephen’s Cathedral) which stands right in the centre of Vienna.

With Tom With Tom

The entire trip was like closing a wound from the past, putting yet another piece of my life’s puzzle back into place (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read yesterday’s post). I reconnected with friends, re-visited places I loved, and basked in the most incredible music. Bliss!

The undisputed highlight of the trip was the recital of my other all-time favourite pianist (yes, I have two!), Evgeny Kissin. I knew I had a good seat but nearly fainted when I realised that I was actually in the front row, by the piano and just a little to the left, so I could see his hands. The piano was so close that when he stood to bow, I could have stretched out my hand and touched him.

The view from my seat! The view from my seat!

The people in the seats around mine were lovely and the perfect company for this. Kissin is just so unbelievably good, it’s almost surreal. I’ve never had such a close view of a pianist’s technique and I drank it all in, trying to take mental notes whilst being completely ravished by the beauty of the music. He played Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, and Scriabin, and I loved all of it, but the Scriabin (the very short 4th sonata) was probably my favourite.

The entire Musikverein was on their feet applauding every time he reappeared, and we got him to play four encores! And still it was all over way too quickly.

Beyond happy, just before the recital. Beyond happy, just before the recital.

To top it all off, I ran into him afterwards, and managed to thank him and exchange a few words! He’s friendly, unassuming, and funny, and I couldn’t help thinking that it wouldn’t make a difference to his playing if he wasn’t, but it’s still nice to know that the guy who’s probably the most ingenious pianist alive at this time, is also a lovely person.

This post is way too long already, so I’ll leave it at that. Go and plan your visit! You’ll be pleased to find that Vienna is a very affordable city to stay in as well. I paid all of 135 EUR for four nights in a simple, but clean 3-star hotel.

See you in February 2020!

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Waaaaaaaaaaah!

piano My new (used) piano

After careful deliberation, I decided that the above was the most appropriate title for this post. Oh man, if only you knew.

I got my piano! See the above picture. It’s fairly crappy, and yet, for the price it’s actually quite decent, and best of all, it’s mine! I considered borrowing the money to buy it, but then decided to use my own money. Which feels fantastic.

The incredibly painful process of trying to recover some of my former skill has begun. I was prepared for this, which doesn’t make it any less horrible. At the same time, it’s sheer bliss simply being at a piano again, and it brings up all kinds of memories, good and bad, from the first three decades of my life. I now get to sort through which parts of me I’ll keep and which I’ve definitely outgrown and therefore won’t pick up again.

Having my own money has other advantages, too. In the aftermath of paying back my last loans, I can once again use my salary for stuff like savings and books. I also have a travel budget!

Remember the “I want to go to the Maldives” travel post a few months ago? And then the “I’m going to get a piano again” post? It feels like I’m now combining both, on a mission to regain even more pieces of myself.

I already told you about my trip to Vienna in March. Holy smokes, the excitement! And now that I’ve actually got a piano again, and cry and curse and do horrible boring but necessary etudes to try and coax my fingers into moving again, I use listening to music as an antidote. And I’m rediscovering not only Kissin, but other favourites as well.

In the course of that I realised that my first love among pianists, Ivo Pogorelich, is actually going to play a recital in Nuremberg in February. When I call him my first love, I mean that literally: When I was 18 and other girls in my class had posters of rockstars in their rooms, I had the cover of one of his albums (this was vinyl, so a fair size) pinned on the wall over my piano. He was and remains the most unusual of living classical pianists and a category of his own, and when I saw that recital announced for a Sunday four days after my 49th birthday, I started doing some rapid maths.

Long story short, I’m going to fly to Germany where I’ll see my dad and stay with my friends the first night, then take the train to Nuremberg and go to the recital, stay at a small hotel, and then go back on the train in the morning. I’ll visit dad one more time and then fly back home.

My travel budget is now spoken for up to and including June 2019, haha!

To say that I’m excited is the understatement of the century. I’m positively vibrating in ecstasy. This is my birthday present to myself, exactly 31 years after Eveline gave me the ticket to my first Pogorelich recital for my 18th birthday (yes, she was “only” my piano teacher and not yet a close personal friend at the time. Did I mention she was amazing?). I came home as though bludgeoned; the experience completely revolutionised my understanding of music and changed the course of my life.

Just listen to this.

I feel like I’m about to come full circle. As other circles are closing, too: This multi-passionate is realising what “passions first” truly means. I’m exercising and getting stronger. I do traditional archery at the most beautiful range ever. I practice the piano and listen to music. I dance, freestyle on my own and Salsa with Salsa Bay Galway. I coach wild spirits to break up with “busy” and focus on what lights them up. I feed the wild birds and am planning on creating a paradise for them once I get my own place.

I no longer swing swords, but then I do have a chronic injury, and maybe there’s a reason why I can no longer do an activity that can and does lead to hand/finger injuries on occasion (hello – piano!). There are other passions which are parked right now, gaming for example, because being a multi-passionate always means focusing on a few passions at a time. It’s just the way we roll (and maintain a semblance of sanity).

79 days to go! I wish I could fast-forward the time. Or hibernate. Wake me the day before my birthday, all right?

In reality, I’ve lots to do until then. You should join me at Wild Spirits Coaching, by the way, I’m planning a stress-free holidays challenge and lots of goodies. Join up on www.wildspiritscoaching.com (fill in the form in “Wild Freebies” or take 10 minutes to do the free Life Audit, and then fill in that form) so you won’t miss it.

I’m off to practice some more. Grounding, what’s that? I’m floating somewhere up there.

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My Irresistible Love

Clew Bay
Clew Bay, Co. Mayo

So the “Wanderlust” post I made a while ago? I need to qualify this a little, and at the same time, I can introduce you to the process of a highly emotional person.

When I discovered that I’m actually ready to think of travelling once again, I went overboard and enthusiastically thought: “I’ll see all the things!” That’s how I function. After a while, I calmed down and realised that I don’t really want a package tour to the Maldives. I mean, I’m not ruling it out altogether, but there are about 200 things which are higher on my bucket list.

Instead, I honed in on the things I really love and enjoy. It astonishes me that almost three years after coming out of depression and returning to life, I’m still catching up. Add to that the years of being broke when I simply couldn’t afford doing what I love, and you have a list of stuff I stopped doing almost 15 years ago.

Wanna see?

The first realisation was that there are things I simply can’t do in Ireland, so I’m going to combine travelling with doing stuff I enjoy. One example is music. I used to see Evgeny Kissin live at least once a year, and now it’s been altogether too many years since I heard him live at all.

Thankfully, he’ll play in the Vienna Musikverein in March next year, and so I’ve decided that I’ll spend St. Patrick’s Day in Vienna. I’m currently in the process of contacting my friends in Austria to try and see as many of them as possible. I’ve even found another, stellar concert that I’ll go to while I’m there, Kent Nagano with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, playing among others, Le Sacre Du Printemps (I adore Stravinsky).

The other thing I used to love and have stopped doing is hiking. You may not know this, but in 2002 I sub-let my flat for a month, packed my backpack and set out one morning. I went on to walk about 1/3 of the East-West length of Austria (the link is in German, but there’s a map). I meant to make it all the way to Salzburg on one of Europe’s long-distance hiking paths, but my Achilles tendon started making trouble and so I took the bus and train for the rest of the way. I’ve never forgotten the experience, though, it was profound and has shaped me.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my friend Lee, who told me about the time he did the coast-to-coast walk in the North of England. It sounded amazing and reminded me of when I used to dream about the coast-to-coast walk years ago. This conversation has definitely put it back on the bucket list! I’ve even got a timeline.

In fact, there’s something else. I’ve fallen for a tall, strong and silent type over the past months. I see him from afar every time I go for archery in Massbrook. He’s just gorgeous, and I won’t be able to resist him for much longer:

Mount Nephin
Nephin

I believe it may be too late this year to prepare and get it done, but I’m still making enquiries. It’s a four-hour hike to the summit of Nephin, with very few actual paths, and in winter the top is covered in snow, so I need to be well equipped and able. But I’ve been getting back into shape since June and feel a lot more confident than I used to.

It’s become a goal of its own. In 2016, I decided that at 50 (in 2020), I’ll be in the best shape of my life. And so I’m going to hike up Nephin next year at the latest, and do the coast-to-coast walk in England in 2020, as a celebration of sorts, of reaching the half-way mark to my goal of living to 100 years! Also as proof to myself that I can do it and that I’ve recovered and healed my body and soul.

There’s still a long way to go, figuratively, until I can go this actual long way, so to speak, but I’m getting there. And I love having plans that are aligned with who I am and what I’ve always loved doing!

More about this some other time, I’m going to have lunch and then do some more work now. If you like, would you let me know what you think, as well as what’s on your own bucket list? I’d love to read about it.

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Le-e-et the sunshine in…!

blossom
Massbrook Woods in full blossom

I write about this every year – the luminous weeks, the period from around the end of May to the end of July. My favourite time in the year. I’ll try and shake it up a little so it won’t get boring – promise!

This year, we’ve had a beautiful late spring, with temperatures well into the 20s and lots of sunshine. The last week or so has been cooler and rainy again, but we’re slowly recovering from that, and I hope that I’ll get to spend a lot more time outside in the woods with my bow, and around various fires with friends. The thing is, my hayfever happens exactly around this time as well – June – and that’s cruel, of course, but on the other hand I think it might be life trying to keep me attached to the ground in some way, lest I float off in my bliss (I am an air sign, after all!). I probably wouldn’t get any sleep at all in June if I wasn’t exhausted from stuffed sinuses and a buzzing head every night.

I’ve been thinking about Nova Scotia a lot recently. This time last year, I was practically vibrating with excitement about my upcoming holidays in July. I hope I’ll be able to return some time, it’s such an amazing place and I haven’t seen enough of it by far.

Tomorrow’s the Summer Solstice. Contrary to popular belief, it’s neither always on the 21st nor is it necessarily “the longest day of the year”. This year, however, it is both these things, at least here in Ireland, and so tonight I’ll be celebrating Solstice Eve and taking it a little easier with my work for once. Today’s the first of only three days which are over 17 hours long. Around the winter solstice, they’re only 7 1/2 hours – that’s nearly ten hours difference! How people can claim to not be affected by that much more daylight, is a mystery to me. It makes me buzz, drunken with happiness and bursting with energy.

This energy gets mostly invested in work these days, but that’s far less boring than it may sound. For three years in a row, I’ve been announcing (always around springtime) that I’d be growing my business, and I always got distracted and stopped working on it again. This time I’m still at it in June and I believe I’ve learned enough to stay focused and keep at it this time. Like I mentioned before, it’s simply too important to give up. Look around you, what do you see? Is the world full of joy and passion? Yeah, not so much. I’ve done a lot of deep digging in meditation and ritual, and I’ve discovered that the root of this lies so much deeper than I previously suspected. Basically, it’s all down to passion.

People who are filled with their purpose in life, don’t have time to hate on others. They’re too busy oozing love out of every buttonhole. This is what’s going to save the world, mark my words. You read it here first!

How can you help? You can help by supporting me. I’ve just started another ads campaign, which reminded me of how expensive this stuff is. Holy shit. So any free support is much appreciated! If you’d like to support a small business and earn a hag’s eternal gratitude, here’s a list of actions you could take:

  • Like my Facebook page and ideally a few of the posts on it (this is not for my ego, it’s because of “social proof” which is one of the biggest factors in marketing today).
  • Read my latest article on Pick The Brain and leave a comment.
  • Subscribe to my newsletter. Heck, you can get a free checklist and a mini e-course into the bargain if you sign up here.
  • Follow me on any of the other social media outlets you use: Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube.
Magical forest
Magical light

I’m growing in so many ways. I’m learning to be consistent without burning myself out (this is still a work in progress, but I’m getting there!), and that’s so important if I want to actually stick with it this time. I’m learning to keep proper books and it’s actually fun. Gods, I didn’t believe I’d ever utter, write, or even think these words, but they’re true now. I’ve even finally registered my business name in Ireland, so now nobody else can be Wild Spirits Coaching in these parts! And I’m writing, blogging, coaching, and getting to touch the lives of beautiful souls who no longer believe in just living to survive and pay bills. Who choose to be joyful instead and live their purpose.

Right, shutting up now! I’m off to celebrate – mead and fresh strawberries, here I come! Incense, dancing, lots of fairies and divine beings surrounding a blissful hag – ah, midsummer…

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You’re Invited

IMG_5913
Gort Community Market January 2018

I don’t have a lot of pictures that aren’t of birds these days, so I thought I’d use one from our latest Gort Community Market day. It was soooo beautiful! Lovely people and great craic as usual. Since it’s winter now, we’ve also added open fires and a little market extension in the cosy back room of Hennelley’s Bar, where people gather around the fireplace and chat. The whole thing is the perfect environment for a cuddly hag.

Before I continue: Did you know you can get a sweet little email from me every time I update my blog? All you need to do is subscribe here. Obviously, I’ll guard your email address the way a dragon defends its hoard. Nobody else will ever see it, promise!

I’m now going to write about woman stuff, so if you’re squeamish or don’t want to know about these things, simply skip this and the next two paragraphs. Start reading again below the picture and you’ll find the invitation mentioned in the title. But for now, it’s pussy zone and if you’re still reading, I’m going to assume you’re fine with that.

You see, I haven’t had a period in five weeks and two days. Now, my cycle’s never been all that regular to begin with, but it tends to be below four weeks – something like 26 days – rather than longer. And now I’m fantasising about finally starting menopause and can’t contain my excitement. The time of its onset seems to run in families and my mum as well as my sisters all started perimenopause around this age. All I can think is, please pleeeeeeaaaaase let this be what it is! Yes yes, I know, hot flashes and depression. But they’ll pass, eventually.

The point is, I can’t wait to get rid of this bloody (literally) nuisance every month, and please don’t tell me about my divine femininity now! I’m on board with all that, I honour and welcome it, but I’ve also had a really painful time of my period for the past 20 years or so and I’m so done. I’m looking forward to being just like a guy – being able to run around, go camping, swing swords, and be fully functional instead of curled around a hot water bottle in excrutiating pain every few weeks. So, fingers crossed this is indeed the start of the whole thing getting less and less frequent until it finally stays away. Yay!

IMG_5874
Happy hag in the car

Here’s where you continue reading if you skipped the previous paragraphs. You’ve probably been wondering what invitation I’ve been going on about? The things is, I’ve a hag birthday coming up on the 13th of February, and since next month’s Gort Market is on the 11th, I’ve decided to have a little – or a big – celebration on Saturday the 10th. I’m not sure about the details yet, but it’ll involve good music and dancing and will likely happen either in Gort or Ennis. Soooo, if you’re close enough to visit, and you read this and I’ve forgotten to invite you on Facebook, do get in touch because you’re most certainly invited.

What I’d actually love to do is the 80s disco I’ve been sitting on for years and years. I’ve never DJ-ed before in my life, but I’ve been putting together a playlist. Without repeating a single artist, I’m now at 153 songs and counting. It’s going to be epic – if it happens. Actually, it’s more like when it happens, because I’ll do it one day for sure, it’s just not certain yet whether it’ll happen on my birthday. If it doesn’t, we’ll just go dancing somewhere else. I hope the Gort Market folks will all come, then we can all be tired and hungover the next morning at the market together!

If you’re too far away to make it: Don’t worry. We’ll take lots of incriminating pictures.

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