“If only for a moment…”
“If only for a moment…”
“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
- Albert Camus.
What do you do on an island in a hurricane? Get tattooed with your best friends, of course! This fourth of July, Hurricane Arthur rolled in and cancelled all the festivities. For a seasonal place like Nantucket, that basically means that everything shut down. And that basically means that, for once, all my friends had the day off together. So, we had breakfast at our favourite spot and spontaneously decided to text the local tattoo artist to see if he was free. We each wanted to get tattoos that celebrated our love for this beautiful island, each with something different but the same theme and significance. I already have a big Nantucket tattoo but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get tattooed with the girls! A bottle of champagne in hand, we arrived at the tattoo shop and spent four hours hanging out as the hurricane grew stronger outside. I chose a scallop shell, while the girls got the island, its coordinates and Sankaty lighthouse. I can’t describe how much fun it was to do this with some of my favourite people in the world, in our favourite place in the world. Thanks so much to Joe at Nantucket Body Art for agreeing to tattoo us on such short notice and for putting up with us for four hours! No mean feat. He did such an awesome job, once again. To Arthur! ;) :)
New York is a strange place. It’s unique in its ability to be both glaringly ugly and oddly beautiful all at once. The stunning skyline glitters against the night sky while rats run wild below. People rush by, avoiding eye-contact, yet connected in their mutual struggle. My time in New York has been the most challenging personal experience of my life – a constant struggle to keep up with the pace, to keep up with the chase. It is a city of opportunity, with so much to see and do, but so few have time to open their eyes. The city wore me down. I longed for the sand between my toes and the sun on my cheeks; the refreshing therapy of the waves crashing against the shore. Despite the struggle, I will never regret my time in New York. I often say it’s a mean and lonely city, but I made friendships there that I will cherish forever. It sounds cliché but I grew in New York. I learned about myself. It toughened me up but helped me remember to protect my softer side, not to lose myself to the New York stereotype. Most importantly, I realised something life-changing. I realised that success is not defined by money or career. Success is living a happy and fruitful life. Without happiness we are nothing and I realised I would rather scrape by and be around the ones I love in a place that makes me happy than to struggle and be miserable, chasing a life that society told me would bring me happiness. And so be it. I’m bACK.
I’ve always been a doer. A go-getter. A chaser of dreams. My whole life I’ve followed my dreams and set out goals to aspire to. But sometimes doing a lot of things can really burn you out and never has this been more apparent than these past few months in New York. They say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere but I don’t know if I agree. I think this city is unique and it suits certain personalities. Some people thrive in this rough and ready, unapologetically tough urban jungle, while others struggle. But that does not mean those same people cannot be successful elsewhere or that those who thrive in the ‘Big City’ could just ‘make it’ with ease anywhere else. The attitude that New York is this wild beast one needs to conquer is a dangerous one. It fuels an unhealthy obsession in some whilst wearing others down. It burns people out and this kind of burn-out is not just physically exhausting, it’s emotionally draining.
The worst thing about those moments is the feeling of weakness. So often we’re told to ‘be strong’ and ‘stay strong’. No one ever tells us to acknowledge our weakness. But why not? What’s really so wrong with that? Don’t we all experience it from time to time? Let’s stop striving for perfection and success. Let’s instead choose to strive for happiness, take a step back and allow ourselves to just feel what we feel. Don’t feel guilty for your struggles, for your setbacks 0r your weakness. When you fall down, acknowledge that you fell and how it made you feel. Then get back up. We are not superheroes. We are all just doing our best to live happy lives in a world that is often unkind. So, next time you fall, dust yourself off, get back up and mend your cape. Own that patched-up, imperfect cape like the hero you truly are. Wear it with pride because every fall, every setback and disappointment is an opportunity to try again or reevaluate your path. There is no shame in that. Hold your head high.
I’m on a train in New York City on my way to a video shoot and although he doesn’t even know it, I’m here, (via years of domino effect), because of Stevie G.
Without probably ever realising it, Stevie was responsible for my love for radio. Through our radio interviews for Coolaboola on Red FM, I got a sense of what it was like to be in a radio studio and I instantly knew that’s what I wanted to pursue. I would sit beside my radio every evening doing my homework, listening to Red FM. I would spend my mid term breaks from school hanging out at the radio station, observing what Stevie was doing, learning the basics. It was during this time in my life that I decided to study media in college. For a long time, radio was my love and my main focus. This eventually evolved into a love of video and television production. It brought me to IT Tralee where I studied media broadcasting for four years and it eventually brought me to New York City where I’m now pursuing a video production internship. A domino effect that all began that day in UCC back in 2005 at Stevie’s ‘Where’s Me Culture’ workshop.
It’s rare in life to meet someone who inspires you so much that you can thank them ten years later for helping you find your direction in life. I remember being interviewed for a study programme back in my school days and one of the questions was ‘tell us about someone who is a role model to you, who inspires you’. Most people said it was their parents, which, don’t get me wrong, would take another ten blog posts alone because my parents inspire me to no end. But that wasn’t my answer. My answer was Stevie G, because at that time, who knows what I would have been doing with my life if I’d never attended that workshop in UCC and met someone who believed, inspired and elevated us to do things that I still, to this day, marvel at having achieved. It was a platform that pushed me into a life of creativity that I will forever be grateful for – and I’m just one of many people in Cork that could thank Stevie G for the very same thing.
So, thank you Stevie G and good luck with your next adventure. Your dignity and positive attitude, even at a time when it would be easy to act otherwise, inspires me now just as much as you inspired me back then. A true gent.
“You won’t feel normal for a year”, she told me in a thick Long Island accent but with a gentle, knowing and reassuring smile. Somehow, this complete stranger in a restaurant managed to put into the most basic of sentences just how I’ve been feeling since moving to New York. So very, completely, ‘not normal’. As I write this, I’m sitting on my bed, on Day 6 of the worst viral throat infection I’ve ever experienced. Let me tell you now, waking up in a pool of your own sweat, shaking, nauseous and dizzy in a fever is a helluva lot scarier when you’re alone and 3,000 miles from mammy. They don’t prepare you for that in your J1 orientation! (And I like to consider myself pretty capable of looking after myself after four years away from home for college and three summers spent in America).
This lady was right. There is nothing that feels ‘normal’ here. Everything is alien. On the one hand, that’s part of the appeal of the adventure. Why would I go so far to just experience what I know to be ‘normal’? On the other hand, it’s so exhausting. Every single thing you experience here is overwhelming to a degree. Everything is fast. Everything moves. It’s a constant race to keep up and sometimes it’s really hard to keep up when you’re tired and stressed and there’s so much ice on the ground you’re going to end up flat on your face if you move any faster.
Everybody here is chasing something; some dream or some person or some life they’ve imagined. The city is overrun with dreamers, all fighting each other to climb that ladder, to reach that place they’ve conjured up in their minds eye. It’s magical and it’s ugly. It’s beautiful and it’s terrifying. Everybody should have a dream but sometimes I start to think to myself ‘What if we’re all too obsessed with the dream? What if we’re forgetting to just sit back and enjoy the journey?’. If this lady is right, I’ll start to feel ‘normal’ in October, which incidentally is when I have to go home. And how sorry will I feel if I look back on my year in New York and realise, I was working so hard towards that dream, that day when I would begin to feel ‘normal’, that I forgot to notice I was already living the dream?
I’ve been living in New York for just over six weeks now and I’ve somehow turned from hating and being terrified of this city to beginning to really love it here. That said, it can be a real love/hate relationship. One minute, you’re looking around thinking ’wow, this is awesome and I live here’ and the next minute, you realise you’re on the uptown train when you meant to go downtown, which is a real pain in the ass when you’ve been walking all over the city running errands all day. I’ve made a few observations in my short time here that may or not may not be helpful for anyone who finds themselves new and kind of alone in the busiest city in the world.
1. New York really isn’t as mean and terrifying as everybody makes it out to be. Don’t buy into that stuff, it will only grind you down unnecessarily.
2. Get involved. If you don’t know anybody in a city as big as this it can definitely seem lonely, but remember that most people here are also transplants from other places trying to find their way amidst this madness. People here are willing to meet new people. Embrace your hobbies and you will quickly find people you have something in common with. Join a gym or club. Go to networking events. Join a group. There are so many groups for different hobbies, like running groups, knitting groups etc. There are even websites dedicated to this, like www.meetup.com, where people with similar interests and hobbies organise events and activities together. Whatever it is you do, just get involved! It might be scary at first but don’t think twice. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to have doubts. Dive in head first. You don’t have much choice unless you want to spend all your time in your apartment alone, wasting the amazing opportunities that come with living in this city!
3. Happy Hour is both your friend and your enemy. Yeah drinking in the afternoon / early evening for that cheap might seem like a good idea (especially if, like me, you lived in Massachusetts where Happy Hours are illegal), but your pocket and your liver won’t thank you when you’re trying to find your way home on the Subway at 4am.
4. Boric Acid kills cockroaches. Effectively. Especially know this if you live in Brooklyn.
5. Carry a book and/or headphones at all times. Not only will this make riding on Subway trains every day less monotonous, it’s also an effective way of ignoring the crazy person trying to get anyones attention. And there are a lot of crazy people.
6. That said, embrace the Subway performers. Yes, some of them are crazies, but some are actually really talented. Don’t become one of those hard, soulless New Yorkers who won’t look at any of them, even the ones who deserve to be looked at! They may just brighten up your day. And sometimes, in New York, you might need something small like that to brighten up a tough day.
7. Download HopStop.
8. Just because a mani-pedi is less than $20 does not mean you should get one every few days. But do get one once in a while because… under $20!
9. If, for some crazy reason, you end up driving in New York City (are you insane?! I was once…) do NOT park in front of a fire hydrant. It’s illegal and carries a hefty fine. Thank you to the kind stranger who told me this when I parked in front of one.
10. Don’t drive in New York City. Unless wanting to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge is a feeling you enjoy.
11. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge at night, towards Manhattan, and bring a camera. Especially if you’ve just had one of those days when you are leaning more towards the ‘hate’ side of your New York love/hate relationship. This will set you right again.
12. Buy a monthly MTA travel card. It’s $112 but you get unlimited Subway and bus travel for the month. You will use it. And don’t lose it! If you do lose it, you can call MTA and they will reimburse you the money that was left on the card but they will only do this twice a year and the second time, you’re charged a $5 fee, so you know, don’t make a habit of it.
13. If you still feel like New York is scary and mean, take a step back, look around, look up, and watch this video by Irish videographer Andy Clancy. If this doesn’t change your opinion, there may be no hope…
You’re in New York. Embrace it for all the crazy, amazing, breathtaking opportunity that it presents!
People often complain about new years resolutions but I’m actually a big fan. I love reflecting on the year that has passed and making goals and plans for the one ahead. It’s always amazing how much has happened in the space of a year and how much has changed since the January before. Even if you don’t follow through with all your resolutions / goals / plans, it’s still fun to make them and set a focus for the year ahead. In many ways, 2013 was one of the best years of my life. In other ways, it was a difficult year of personal struggles. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunities I had and that I was surrounded by so many wonderful friends who made the struggles easier and that the good times ultimately outweighed the tough ones. Here are my 2013 highlights….part 1.
I wrote this blog post about the reality of being a graduate in Ireland and my blog went crazy with hits, comments, shares etc. It was then published in the Evening Echo. Nothing on the blog had ever had such a big reaction. Thank you to everyone who commented, shared, emailed etc about this piece. It meant a lot that so many could relate to the message.
I decided to go back to boxing classes and spontaneously signed up to take part in a white collar fight night that would be happening in April. 12 weeks to get my lazy, unfit ass back to fitness and learn to box well enough to step into the ring… Easy, right?!
I had the first session on my button tattoo that I’ve been wanting to get for years.
Embraced our girly side with glitter and ribbons and did this little photo/video shoot with my stunning cousin, Ciara.
And had my button tattoo finished. Still need to take a better photo of it…
Made this ’30 Days of Film’ video from snippets of my life that I shot over the course of 30 days :)
Shocked myself with my fight-prep progress. I trained hard for twelve weeks and completely overhauled my lifestyle and diet and it completely blew my mind to see the progress. I felt better than I ever have, both physically and mentally. Hard work pays off.
And then, this happened…
Without doubt, the proudest moment of my life. Despite the result being a draw and popping out my shoulder in the first round, I was so proud of myself for stepping into that ring and achieving a goal I had for a long time but had never had the guts to attempt until then. You can read about the fight here.
Then, I got the chance to collaborate with my best friend, Gavin, on this song for the game Bioshock Infinite. It’s always so much fun recording with Gavin but even more so when I get to lend my vocals to a piece as epically brilliant as this. Still gives me shivers to listen to it build up throughout the song and I always smile remembering listening to it in his home studio just looking at each other, both silently thinking ‘this is awesome’ and smiling from ear to ear. A real ‘wow’ moment.
Aaaaand…then, Dream of the Sky made it into the charts, in pretty impressive company..!
…was mostly spent doing all the things I couldn’t do while training for my fight – ie, eating and drinking. And I got to visit my big brother, Paul, in London…where we ate and drank.
…June to December coming next! When my life completely changed. :) Happy New Year, everyone! XO
One of the exciting things about living here in the winter is getting the chance to experience some actual snow. I say ‘actual’ snow, because it’s a very rare occurrence in Ireland and definitely not something I’m used to. While Christmas was actually weirdly warm in New York, we did get some snow the week before. Thankfully, Santa sent me some winter boots right in time and I took a little trip to Prospect Park in Brooklyn for some snow day adventures with my camera and my buddy, Alex. It was so nice to see kids and dogs playing in the snow and to take the opportunity to record some footage. I’ve been taking my camera everywhere with me but I rarely remember to take it out of my bag. Life moves so fast here that you have to remind yourself to take a step back and appreciate things / capture moments on camera! This snow didn’t last too long so I’m glad I took the opportunity while it was there! I’m playing catch-up on blogging now that I’ve finally started to feel like I’m finding my feet and getting more settled here in New York. Lots more updates on the way, I promise! :) Happy New Year! XO