After taking some time to process her recent stay in Ireland, Lisa drops in to share the experience… from the people, to the places, to the life-altering conversations… grab a box of tissues for this one.
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Hey, so it’s been a little while since I was in Ireland and I know that many of you are following along on socials and in stories about our two weeks there. And something happened there that I still am finding it hard to articulate. But I’ve broken down a few different reasons why I found that particular two weeks in that particular place with those particular people so incredibly healing and expansive.
I guess it all sort of started with when we arrived and we’d been traveling around for a while and we walked through the doors. I messaged Joan, the woman a friend of my dad’s. She’s been friends with him since they were in high school. He’s a really important part of his life and mum’s life and has always been so amazingly generous to our family. I actually stayed with her when I moved to Ireland when I was 21, 22, I can’t remember, it was 2002. I ended up living in her mum’s house. Her mum had a really bad fall and so my boyfriend at the time and I moved into her mum’s house. That was actually the house that the kids and I stayed in for the first four days of Ireland.
And anyway, I had messaged her and said, hey, we’re just collecting our bags now. We’ve arrived, I’m grabbing the higher car and we’ll see you at yours. I had the address and we’re just going to make our way to their house. And as we walked out the door of coming through customs and all that stuff, there she was with Morris, her husband, waving at us. And I still actually feel a little bit tyrion saying it the feeling of being welcomed, the feeling of you’re on the other side of the world and there’s people who would come and meet you at an airport and just fully embrace you wholeheartedly and your children. It was such a beautiful thing. I’m still not even too sure why. It just felt so beautiful.
It really did. And I think it was also a bit of a relief. I mean, I’ve been holding it all together and we’ve been moving place to place and there’s something about leaving one airport or one destination. It’s just this most exciting moment. I love it. I love being at airports, waiting to get on a plane to go somewhere new. And then there’s the arriving, the reality of arriving with three children sometimes, who are quite tired or completely wired about being in a new place. Everyone’s excited or everyone’s something, it’s always a little bit heightened.
And you just got to figure out how the heck to get from where you are in that airport, sometimes even just getting out of the airport. We had a lot of trouble getting out of Tokyo Airport and I thought, oh, my God, this is the first place we’ve been, and we literally cannot get out of this airport anyway. That’s a whole you know, then you’ve got to get to where you need to be, and there’s usually public transport involved in that and then some sort of check in process that seemed simple, but is suddenly complicated. It’s a lot. And so to have someone there to just say, higher cars are down here, and then walk us with our bags to the higher car, which I could not figure out. And this was just one of the most perfect examples of how special a place Ireland is, because the kids were going home with Morris in his car, or two of them were, and Joan and I were driving in the high car. She was just going to give me directions to their place. And I had my youngest in the back and turning on this car, and it just wouldn’t go on.
I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. We ended up calling Morris and he came back because Joan couldn’t figure it out either. And he’s like, yeah, there’s something up with this car. I was thinking, I’m going to have to take the keys back and get a different car. Know what’s going on with this thing? Anyway, guys, I think that they had the trolleys, like collecting the trolleys. There was some sort of airport workers. Anyway, they had just pulled in and they could see that we were having a bit of trouble. I said, I can’t get this car to turn on.
He’s like, oh, would you like me to have a look? So he jumps in this car and he presses the button like we all did, and then it just starts moving forward. What have you done? What was I missing? Because it was giving this sign that there was something about a back door. So we’re trying to figure out the back doors, thinking that’s stopping it from being able to move. And it was actually just that the car was a hybrid. And it’s really, really quiet. You can hardly tell that it’s on. It doesn’t turn on the engine of the car like a normal car. So it was actually on the whole time.
And all you have to do is just press your foot gently on the accelerator and off you go. But this guy didn’t know us from a bar of soap was working and just got out of his car. So so helpful. I mean, if that is not the Irish just up for a conversation. Genuinely helpful. And then off we went. And I just thought, oh, man, this place is special and every single step of those two weeks I was just reminded of the specialness of the people, the beauty of the place. I think also arriving there was something very special.
I remember saying to dad, so my dad is Irish, he moved to Australia when he was 21. I first visited Ireland when I was 18, I think, or 90. I was in first year uni. I was just fascinated, I was just so grateful to be able to be there and people who had been just stories or pictures or pen pals suddenly came to life. This place that I’d heard about my whole childhood suddenly came to life. I really did love it so much then. I felt connected to it in a way I didn’t fully understand. And so when loads of friends were going and doing gap years in ski resorts in Canada or doing a year in London or multiple years in London or something like that, I was always going to be going straight to Dublin because I wanted to get to know it and the people there a bit more.
I have loads of cousins, second cousins, about my age, and I had so much fun when we were there. And so I had also been back again with Nick, I think it was just after we got married, and so I got to introduce him to all of my special Irish people and we had some very fun times. And here I was coming back at 43 years old. It just gave me such a sense of the huge amount that’s happened since Nick and I were there in what was probably 2009. On that trip, we actually came to Munich as well, and Paris, and I just think, wow, I have my three kids with me. Obviously we lost Nick and there’s been another significant relationship and here, you know, I’m not the Lisa that was here, but I am. But so much has know, so much has happened in such a short amount of time. And so I think when you have those markers, when you think, wow, the last time I was here, 2009, bright eyed, bushy tailed.
There was no children. There was no serious plan for life, but there was a lot of excitement about life. I mean, I just committed to this man and we were having such a good time traveling around the world at that stage because he worked for Qantas and we had staff travel benefits, it was the best. And I just got this sense that so much has happened and then I could see also in these people who I have so much affection for. Their lives had changed too. My dad’s cousins, so the people, his ages and his friends, their houses were suddenly filled with bunk beds and Legos and toys and backyard equipment for grandchildren and for my cousins. They’re raising kids and they’re building careers and everyone’s life has moved on so much, it was beautiful to see and it was sometimes hard to see because sometimes some people aren’t well, some people have passed away and there’s gaps in the family. It was a whole load of stuff.
But this really poignant reminder that life is constantly moving and we’re building it bit by bit as we go and we’re so out of control of so much, we really are. We don’t get to choose the kids that we have, our health, what happens to our bodies, what aging looks like for each of us, going through tough times in relationships, coming through that sometimes not, and starting something new. It was amazing. And I had such beautiful conversations with people and a lot of conversations about, you know, with the people around my age about sort of what’s next. I feel like this is a bit of a theme that’s coming through a lot is after the COVID years especially, and amongst people around my age who have either reached a point of their career where they’re looking for something new or they’ve taken time out and had children and are now getting back into things in meaningful ways and wondering how all of that’s going to look. A lot of overwhelmed women and mums just getting by, just getting through and thinking, is this it this sense of sort of what’s next? What are we creating from here? I had lots of conversations like that and it’s refreshing to know that so many of us are in that same spot we have this time. Still, I think I had thought we had the COVID years and we had this opportunity that was ripe for change and deciding to do things differently and reimagine life, especially around how families operate, and that things had just gone back to the way that they were. And a lot of the conversations in Ireland were about, no, it’s actually changed things.
Fundamentally, people are different and the world is different. That is definitely a strong sense that I got in Ireland. Similar, mostly hybrid, working now, which is working for some people, not working for others, as is everywhere. But I did get a definite sense it had breathed a new life, new imaginings into life in Ireland. And I think that’s also because Ireland as a nation right now is doing very well. I heard that a lot. They had come through, they had a big sort of financial crisis and all of that around 2008 and now they’re in a position where they’re doing really well. That was something that people spoke to me about a lot and yet that is a certain demographic of person that I’m talking to on the news.
One night there was the biggest rates of homelessness that they’ve ever experienced in Ireland. There’s this big disparity between the people who are doing quite well and people who are really genuinely struggling. Like all European countries, they also took in a whole load of Ukrainian refugees. That’s a big theme that I’m talking to a lot of people about as I travel as well. I think 90,000. And I mean, that’s a small town. That’s a town in Ireland. And so housing those people, supporting them, embracing them and figuring out how all that’s going to work is a big job over there right now as it is everywhere.
I mean, I’ve arrived in Munich and talking to my friend Tony Ann about that and there’s millions and millions of them here and people are quite traumatized for what they’ve been through, for obvious reasons. Anyway, she’s a school teacher and has some really interesting reflections on how it’s all playing out in schools. Really, really interesting, really big issues, making me think a lot about what we’re going to be moving into in the future in terms of climate refugees, which will absolutely be a massive issue in our lifetime. And how somewhere like what’s happening here in Europe, the countries who end up doing it well will serve as case studies for other countries who need to create housing and support for people who are without their home anyway. I mean, okay, now we’re going down totally on a tangent. I’ve gone totally off my notes now talking about this, but it was this sense that Ireland’s doing quite well that leads into something else that was really interesting, which was just this sense of nationality, this sense of pride in being Irish. Such a huge history. The kids loved learning about Ireland.
They loved they were fascinated by the potato famine. They had so many questions about that. I took them up to Belfast as well, and we did the Titanic Museum and also showed them around the Peace wall and that kind of thing. And we talked a lot about what’s going on there and it led to lots of conversations about Australia, actually, who is our indigenous people, how we as white Australians. I mean, I’m a first generation Australian, both of my parents are immigrants, but we are on the side of the people who decimated a population. And we talked about the voice referendum. We talked about how people need to feel that what home is for them feels like a fair and good place to live. Like we get to in this referendum, be on the side of moving things forward for our first nations people.
And Ireland was a really interesting country to discuss all that with them. I mean, I am 100% voting yes in that referendum. To me, there’s loads of different reasons why, but ultimately it looks to me like I would be contributing to things staying the same, which isn’t okay, or being a part of moving things forward. No brainer to me. Irish people have a strong sense of who they are. I don’t know. I don’t think I have that really as much as a first generation Australian. I definitely identify as being Australian, but it doesn’t form who I am.
Perhaps in the way that it does for the Irish. I find it so beautiful. They can tell you the stories of different cities in Ireland and why they’re important. So many stories, so much history. And right now it felt like a real pride in where they found themselves once again. It’s kind of like it’s that underdog story they’re oppressed. And now here we are, we’re doing certain things very, very well. It was wonderful to see.
But with this disparity and obviously me hearing it through one particular lens, that to me was inspiring. I think that they have progressed in lots of different ways since I’ve last been there. I mean, the vote on abortion as well is a really great example. The way that older generations can talk about what happened in the church and how they still believe, but they feel differently about the church. They would never stand up for what happened. It was wrong and it was horrible. And yet church often feels like a nice place for them to go. I had some really great conversations about all of that too, whereas when I went to Ireland when I was 18, my dad deliberately said to me, selling, I know that you have decided you don’t believe in God.
You aren’t a Catholic anymore. I was brought up Catholic and then I met George Pell when I was in year twelve and also learned all about Vatican too, and just learned a lot more about it and was like, this is not for me. And he said, Darling, can you please just not talk about that? I’m happy to talk to you about it, it’s fine. You can believe whatever you want to believe. It’s just that people are very into it over there and it’s just going to start something that will be confusing to them. And if we could just leave it, that would be great. So I kind of held my tongue. But it’s been really interesting to have conversations now with people of all different ages about how they feel about religion, about Catholicism, I guess in general, and their own beliefs.
When I went there when I was 18, all my cousins were still going to Mass every Sunday. That was an expectation. Now that is really not happening. Anyway, let’s move on to another thing that happened there. And this has sort of been happening everywhere. The beauty of natural surroundings has affected me so deeply and it always has. Over the last few years, where we didn’t really get to travel all of that much, it was still so important for me to try to get away and get into nature. My favorite things is mountains and rivers and I do love the ocean as well, in a different way.
I feel home, I feel recalibrated and energized by rivers and that’s bush. And so party Boy and I would always try and take the kids somewhere beautiful just to experience it, because living an urban life, just love it and need it. But there’s something about seeing landscapes that take your breath away, that shift you internally. You cannot be anywhere else except absolutely in the present moment, when you are looking at something so beautiful, your eyes can’t even imagine that this is real. Traveling around Ireland, specifically the ring of Kerry, was just jaw droppingly beautiful. And I felt these internal shifts. It was like a cleansing. It was like a reminder that the world really is this beautiful, that these cliffs have been here for how many years? This place was created.
And it’s magical. I just don’t even know how to express in words. It’s genuine wonder. Genuine wonder. When you are looking at a view that feels like food for your soul, it’s tangible. It’s like I was consuming it and it was filling me up. And all of these parts of me that might have felt depleted or dry or lacking, it was just all filled up by the beauty of the place. It was like depositing into my soul and I let it have its way with me.
I just drank it in every chance I could possibly get. And the beautiful thing is that the children were similarly affected. We would just sit and watch and look out. We would turn a corner and just go, Whoa. I mean, that level of natural beauty is going to change you. And it was a reminder of why we travel, because something happens to us when we’re jaw droppingly inspired by the beauty of nature. And I am so grateful I got to experience it there. There’s been so much beauty on this trip.
So much beauty. But because it was Ireland, it was something special for me as a person. So a lot of this was happening, right? The beauty, just the being there, the reconnecting with people. And then there was some just really good conversations. One in particular, and I mentioned this on socials, was with Joan. So Joan is my dad’s age. A fit as a fiddle. Still very, very connected to her work, though, on the other side of a very big career.
I’m so grateful that this trip, she shared more with me about her story. And there’s some similarities in our story that just helped me see her differently. And so when we get the chance to really see someone differently and hear more, they become multidimensional and wherever they are, at has more context. And so I’ve always seen her as a very, very successful, ambitious woman who is also warm. And really, I mean, she’s just made so much effort for our family over the years. You notice her when she walks into a room. People know her in Dublin for sure, and we’re sitting, having conversation. I could tell she wanted to have a chat with me.
Obviously, she knows things that have happened in my life and also, I think, maybe had an expectation of me not being 100% great. Which part of the reason why I’m doing this trip anyway, we sat down and we had this conversation together, went out for dinner. There was no kids. What happened in that conversation? I felt like there was this line in the sand drawn. She helped me draw it and it was especially around how I could shift my perspective on balancing. I know that’s a strange word to use, but balancing work and the kids. So as someone who found who also found herself responsible for raising her kids, though they were older than mine are, she made some choices that felt quite difficult, but were for the greater good. And she really did honor who she was and her desires and her ambition and her potential.
And sometimes the kids weren’t all that happy with it. What happened through that conversation as I was listening to her was I could see that I have prioritized my children and their well-being and I do not regret it at all and I will never not have them as a major priority in my life. But I stripped everything right back for them. I didn’t have confidence in myself to manage it all in the way that I had been and be a good parent and be what my kids need which has been very, very available to them. Once again, I do not regret it. But I have really struggled with figuring out how to be the kind of mum I imagined I was going to be for them. The kind of life that they would have, the capacity that I would have for them with the reality that now I solo parent them and I am a person who has big dreams and who wants to do cool stuff and also has to create a reliable and consistent income for my family. Business ownership is a whole thing.
My business relies on me being on my game and I have not been on my game. And it’s because of this sense that to go back, to really ramp things up, to serve and give and show up in the way that would ensure some of the big things that I’ve just had sitting there as ideas and to see them actually come to life and take them where I want to take them means that there will be less availability for my kids. Through that conversation with Joan, I realized I get to reimagine this know she said, Lisa, your kids are going to be okay. And when your kids go through something like what mine did at such a young age, I just want to protect them and I want to give them all that I feel they deserve. And the reality is I actually can’t. There is going to have to be compromises. There is going to have to be this restructuring, this reimagining of how we do it. I am so glad I am running my own business in so many ways I have so much flexibility.
But it’s been a mindset, it’s been this sense of not wanting to disrupt them. Because when I get into work, I really get into it. So I can see now I need to build in structures and support that aren’t just me. It’s been amazing having a partner these few years, even although he never lived with us and there was never a sense of him parenting my children. I wasn’t ready for that. But he had a very unique role in their lives and it was beautiful. And for me too, it felt like I had someone. And now I get to build that in different ways and I get to be creative with that.
Because what happened when I had that conversation with Joan was there needs like this recognition that I really do need to get back in the game. She’s like, Lisa, come know there is way too much potential here and talent for you to waste. It would be a horrible, horrible waste anyway. So there was loads of things that we spoke about, but something shifted in me. Almost like just giving myself the next level of permission to shift things up a notch. They’re going to be okay. And just even just sort of sitting with that and knowing that even if it’s not perfect for them or if it’s not completely 100% regulation, 100% of the time, that we’re still going to be okay. And I have to find a way to be able to make certain things happen.
And instead of just taking my foot right off the pedal, which is what I have essentially done, because I’ve been scared to ramp up again, like it would all sort of fall apart. I can’t be the mum that I want to be with, that I need to find a new way. It was hugely activating for me, that conversation. It was like a huge, huge shift in me. I’m allowing space for that new awareness, that new story, to just kind of sink in, to just be a part of who I am now. And it is crazy what has happened since then. So the beauty of the people was healing. The beauty of the place was healing.
It was all really, really expansive and hugely grounding because I was right there. I was right in it. The most amazing people who embraced me and just so beautifully embraced my children. It was so heart know, the kids now feel like Ireland is their place and that is a beautiful full circle moment that my dad and mum found hugely emotional too. That their kids, their grandkids are discovering Ireland. The way in which people welcome you in there is like nothing else. People bent over backwards for us and I was just so grateful. It was the most perfect two weeks.
It’s just etched in me now. I think I will reflect on it often. I put some distance between recording this episode and being there. And I know that I’ll be going to sleep tonight thinking, I should have said this, I should have said this, I should have said that because it was so much more than I could ever have shared in this episode. But I wanted to give a sense of some of it so that I guess it’s here for me now too, to listen back to and to honor what was a really, really important part of this trip for me. Really important. I don’t know how I’m going to top it, but we’re off to Greece and Croatia, so we’ll see how we go there. Thanks for tuning in.
Hey! I'm Lisa
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