sober St. Paddy's Day

March 20, 2017

It was the best St. Paddy’s day I’ve had in a really long time.

 

I’m feeling really grateful.  These feelings of gratitude are becoming more and more common as each day passes, and it’s refreshing.  That feeling of being refreshed becomes a feeling of gratitude, which becomes refreshing again.  It’s a really nice cycle to be caught up in at the present moment.  

 

This year I gave up alcohol for Lent.  As someone who is not Catholic but who still appreciates practicing sacrificing something to become a better version of oneself, I’ve been really appreciative of the people who don’t negatively question my choices.  Curiosity is always encouraged because sometimes a simple question can lead to great conversation.  That’s what happened on Friday.

 

St. Patrick’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Growing up as part of a very Irish family, St. Paddy’s was always an exciting day to be celebrated.  Green beer, corned beef and cabbage, soda bread - you name it.  This year, however, I didn’t partake in all the normal things I’ve done in the past.  I didn’t make corned beef and cabbage, I didn’t dress up in all green, and I didn’t go out and get drunk off Irish Car Bombs (a drink whose name is truly offensive but taste is awesomely delicious).  I decided to do things I wanted to do while reflecting on what it means to grow up Irish-American.

 

I woke up Friday morning at 5 in order to get to the gym and start my day off right.  When I woke up, I was pleasantly surprised I’d received a message from one of my Australian friends I’d met four years ago when I’d taken off to Ireland by myself for St. Patrick’s Day weekend.  We messaged back and forth for a little while and decided we should plan an upcoming reunion trip - maybe somewhere in Italy.  I now look very forward to the photography and writing that will accompany that trip!

 

After the gym I came home, poured myself a cuppa Lyons tea, and read some Joyce and some Yeats, as well as some journal entries I’d personally written during my time in Ireland.  It’s becoming more and more clear to me that when something is written with true emotion and feeling, it is timeless.  Reading the words of those authors and then reading my own words of what I was feeling at the time, I felt immediately transported back to those moments in Ireland.  Time machines may not yet exist, but written words are the closest thing we have to traveling back to the past.  Classic literature is referred to as that for a reason.

 

The day started out great and only got better.  I published a blog post about choosing to be the hero of your own story, I called my parents and my brother, and I spent the rest of the day reading, writing, singing, hiking, and taking in this amazing life for which I’m truly grateful.

 

I also reflected back to what I was doing a year ago on St. Patrick’s Day.  In 2016, I went out to a bar with two of my closest girlfriends, and we had a really good time.  Most of my best memories of last year don’t actually include the person I was dating at the time.  I’m not saying this to put that person down; we had our own multitude of special memories I will always hold dear.  I’m saying it from a place of gratitude that I was able to still have these special memories remain untainted by a breakup.  Last St. Patrick’s Day, that ex had missed the cut in one of his tournaments but still found a way to still pursue his dream the next day working with his coach, and he had my full support.  I know what it’s like to pursue a dream, so I never wanted to be the thing to get in the way of that.  If memory serves me correctly, he’s probably preparing for something big at this time.  I think it was around this time last year he went off to qualify for PGA Canada, but I’m not sure, really, because I haven’t checked.  But if it is that time of year and he does have that coming up or if it already happened, I really hope he qualifies/did qualify.  Two months out of that relationship and I still want him to succeed.  I always cheered on his goals, and I’m happy that I still feel that support for him.  I want him to have everything he desires in life, as long as he is happy and healthy.

 

And the reason I feel that way, still, is because I have found peace and happiness.  And I am happy and healthy.  Now that I know how amazing inner-peace and happiness feels, I want it for everyone who has ever been - or will be - a part of my life.

 

I was supposed to go out on St. Patrick’s Day.  I had actually volunteered to be the DD, but the other person ended up being too tired and wasn’t up to it (as I found out a little later on in the evening).  I’m glad I didn’t put all my eggs in one basket and that I remained open to change.  Around dinnertime I got a text from a friend of mine from one of my former advanced study improv classes.  We’d been trying to hang out since he recently moved back from New York, and when he asked if I wanted to come hang out and check out his new place on Friday night, I jumped at the opportunity.  I brought him a couple beers as a house-warming and a soda for myself.

 

And it was a great decision to go.  And I’m grateful he reached out.  He may not even remember this, but we had class together two nights after the election results, and he asked me how I was feeling.  It sounds like such a simple question, but it had such a complicated answer.  He wanted to make sure I was feeling okay about everything regarding the election because he values women’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions.  It was a pretty vivid memory that still sticks with me to this day.  

 

I’m appreciative of his gesture back in November, and I’m appreciative of our night on Friday.  It’s funny when people ask you what you did on a specific night.  The fly-on-the-wall perspective would be of two people just sitting around chatting for nearly five hours.  But, to me, it was so much more than that.  It was getting to know someone you already kind of know but at a deeper level, and, more importantly, it was further proof that there are other people out there who want to connect and go deep, discussing life and philosophy and your personal view/perspective of the world.  At one point Friday night, my friend even said “I love that we’re starting so many sentences with ‘I think.’”  It was true, and I loved it, too.  We were both equal contributors to a conversation in which we didn’t always agree but always remained respectful and interested in the other person’s point of view, wanting to know more and to learn more about the other person.  He remarked that he was enjoying it, and I realized I was, too - finding someone else who is willing to talk about difficult things and who also understands the need for it.

 

Human beings crave community and connection.  Burying things deep all the time is not good and not healthy.  Suppressing your feelings and emotions has negative physical and emotional effects.  It’s no wonder my headshot from last year versus this year looks so drastically different.  I’m grateful I’m not suppressing things anymore.  Writing about life and talking about it with other people has been life-changing for me.  I’ve always been an honest person with a tendency to wear her heart on her sleeve, but there was a hesitation before sometimes that I no longer feel.  It was a hesitancy to share the bad, but by sharing the bad and the hardships, I’ve been able to find such strength and inner-peace, and I’ve been able to connect with people in a way I haven’t seen before.

 

My friend and I talked a lot about life on Friday night.  That sounds like such a nondescript way to explain a conversation, and it is, but we were able to discuss so many more specific topics because we started out so broadly.  I’ve been hearing and seeing the phrase “start where you are” a lot recently, and it’s good advice for a lot of people.  It also ties into one of the micro-conversations we had Friday that I think I’ll save for another post -it’s pretty heady, so it needs its own proper dedication.

 

I’m grateful for my friend and the amazing conversations we had about anything and everything on Friday night.  I’m thankful he was willing to share personal anecdotes and his views of the world with me.  I’m even more grateful that he let me share personal anecdotes and my views of the world with him without feeling judged or like my views were lesser.  When we had questions for each other, we asked them and didn’t take offense.  It felt nothing but respectful and equal.  And I felt fulfilled.

 

The world’s a tough place to live in sometimes.  People are all doing the best they can at any given moment.  But if you find those friendships where people are willing to go deep and actually explain why they feel or think the way that they do, invest in those people.  You’re never going to agree with anyone all of the time, but finding someone who disagrees and still respects your views and wants to know why you feel or think the way you do is something truly worth investing in.

 

I’ve been really lucky lately.  St. Paddy’s Day hasn’t been the only time in the last couple weeks that I’ve found someone (or multiple someones) willing to have deep conversations.  It’s been happening more and more lately, and it is something I truly appreciate in my life.

 

And you know what?  I didn’t even miss partying on St. Paddy’s Day.  During a conversation involving the topic of ice cream, my friend asked if we should go get Lucky Charms.  And we did.  We walked down the block, got some Lucky Charms and some whole milk (treat yoself!), and continued our deep talks over hearts, stars, and horseshoes.

 

Of all the St. Patrick’s Day traditions my family’s had and that I’ve kept up with over the years, I think I may have stumbled upon a new one.  I can’t wait to look back a year from now on St. Paddy’s Day and reflect on how far I’ve come - hopefully over Lucky Charms with whole milk.

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Johny Walsh  |  Los Angeles, CA  |  Johny@JohnyTheGirl.com

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