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Archive for the ‘Share the Joy’ Category

In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d be blogging about a pandemic. Yet here we are…smack in the middle of Covid-19 and it is testing humankind in a way we haven’t been tested for 100 years. To fight the novel coronavirus in our counties, cities, states, countries, we have to act as one and shelter-in-place. In other words, in order to stem the number of deaths we may face, we have to social distance.

We have to hole up with our family, with roommates, or as singletons for the greater good of our species. And, as easy as that is to say/write, it’s not something we humans are particularly good at. We are, most of us anyway, social beings.

So, what can we do to protect the collective and stay well? That is the question that I, as a mom, have been pondering for the past few weeks. As connection is so important not just to my family, but yours too, here are 35 tips I have found on how to come together while staying apart.

  1. At home, get creative about staying positive: call, email, write a letter or send a card. Leave a note in someone’s door or mail box or on their doorstep.
  2. Use Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp, Houseparty, Hangouts, and FaceTime to see one another
  3. If it’s safe to do so, set up a “gate” chat or “driveway” chat with neighbours.
  4. Set up a gratitude message board either in the kitchen or by mobile phone {texting, WhatsApp, iPhone, Facebook, Instagram} where every one can post a message or send a message to share something they are grateful for.
  5. Set a group daily challenge. It could be a healthy habit, a mindful practice, a creative pursuit, a new recipe. Check in daily to stay motivated.
  6. Set dates and times to watch the same TV shows/movies with others and message one other your thoughts along the way… I’m enjoying Derry Girls and Ozark, both on Netflix, right now. Netflix Party is a new way to watch Netflix with friends online. You need Chrome to access this service but it sounds like a great way to host and watch movies with friends everywhere.
  7. Join a local social media group. This will keep you up to date with what’s going on directly around you. It may also include ways you can perhaps reach out and connect with someone less fortunate than you and ways to assist them.
  8. Younger children might enjoy learning how to draw with Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems. Mo is a best-selling author and illustrator and he is teaching drawing every weekday on YouTube.
  9. Help younger children, teens and college-age young adults cope by giving them extra attention and reassurance.  Watch news together and talk about what you’re viewing. If someone feels overwhelmed by what’s they’re seeing, allow them to step away and then circle back and talk about what’s not sitting well with them.
  10. Check-in and share feelings so everyone knows it’s ok to be anxious, nervous, scared.
  11. Involve everyone in home management chores. It’s easier to stay positive when you have a job that’s important to everyone.
  12. Seek professional help if you are concerned.
  13. Watch a live concert, take a virtual tour of a museum or join or start an online dance party. Yo-Yo Ma, via Instagram, the Seattle Symphony and others are finding news ways to share their services during these challenging times. Enjoy free live broadcasts of the symphony from the comfort of your own home. You can learn more about upcoming concerts and how to watch these live broadcasts here.
  14. Many museums around the world are now offering digital access to their collections. The Louvre, Guggenheim, the National Gallery of Ireland, the British Museum of London, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea, and the MASP in São Paulo are all available to tour online thanks to their own efforts or through Google Arts & Culture.
  15. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is offering free nightly live opera performances.
  16. The DJ of Boogie Down productions fame, DJ D-Nice is hosting house parties on Instagram. He calls it Club Quarantine! Tag your friends. Tell me about your experience at the party.
  17. Coldplay front man, Chris Martin, is the curator of the annual Global Citizen festival. He launched the “At Home Together” series with an Instagram live video, during which he played several of the band’s hits and spoke to viewers who are in isolation during the coronavirus outbreak.
  18. Billboard Magazine has compiled an enormous list of quarantine music events online to watch on their website.
  19. The Kennedy-Center offers a wide variety of free videos of live and on demand performances and educational activities online.
  20. Join an online game, bookclub or discussion group. Discussions groups, found on sites like SeniorChatters, offer a way for older adults to engage in different topics online. Use these tools to meet other seniors from all over the world and discuss your favorite hobbies.
  21. If you’re a reader, Celadon Books shares their five favorite book clubs that you can join online.
  22. Play games online. Whether you prefer cards or board games, it’s easy to now play a favourite games online. Websites like Arkadium.com offer a variety of card and board games that you can play with others or on your own. You can also download apps on your phone to play games with others, like Words with Friends.
  23. Little ones might enjoy watching Storyline Online, on Youtube, a children’s literacy website created by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, which provides free storytelling videos and resources for parents and teachers to foster a love of reading in children. The website features an expansive library of videos of new and classic picture books read by well-known actors and actresses like Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, and James Earl Jones. In a style akin to Reading Rainbow, stories come to life with dynamic voice performances and animated versions of original illustrations, encouraging children to see reading as a transformative imaginative experience. Arnie the Doughnut is read by Ireland’s one and only Chris O’Dowd.
  24. Save with Stories, started by Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams in partnership with Save the Children and No Kid Hungry, is offering stories on Instagram and Facebook to provide fun and education to kids and parents stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak.
  25. Audible has launched a free collection of audiobooks for children. Amazon’s Kindle is offering two free months to its unlimited ebook service for new users.
  26. Broaden the mind and take a class. Ivy League schools have made nearly 500 online courses free to keep individuals occupied while stuck indoors. The online courses can be found on Class Central and include subjects in mathematics, programming, personal development, education and more.
  27. Coursera, an American online learning platform, started by two Stanford professors, offers classes for free that are taught by top instructors from world-class universities and companies.
  28. Move your body and quiet your mind. Joining the Fitness Blender community, and others like it, will give you the chance to take free classes and stay healthy. Fitness Blender, in particular, offers 600+ workout videos and an online network of fitness-friendly instructors.
  29. Meditate with Headspace, is a guided meditation service, being offered for free through the Headspace app. The programs include meditations, sleep and movement exercises which you can listen to any time.
  30.  Core Power Yoga, a popular yoga studio chain in America, is currently offering free online classes through its Core Power Yoga On Demand platform. The classes are pre-recorded and range from 30 minutes to up to an hour long. The studio is also offering online guided breathing practices and meditations.
  31. 305 Fitness, one of NYC’s most popular dance-cardio workout classes is now offering free cardio dance live streams twice a day on YouTube at noon and 6PM EST.
  32. No Peloton bike? No problem. In response to Covid-19, the Peloton App is opening up to new users for a full 90 days. The app, which includes at-home bootcamp, outdoor, and running workouts. After 90 days, there is a fee, so be sure to mark your calendars.
  33. Food feeds the soul…and the empty stomach. Learn the basics, and not so basics, of cooking in all forms from online experts. Massimo Bottura, for example, is teaching from his new Kitchen Quarantine classes on Instagram. Also, Chef Thomas Keller takes us inside his own kitchen while teaching technique and recipes on Instagram. Chef Jose Andres does the same with his #recipesforthepeople. Irish chef, Donal Skehan has his own YouTube channel, if you want to get caught up on cooking Irish style. And while Rachel Allen doesn’t have her own channel, you can find many of her Irish cooking recipes Rachel Allen.
  34. Learn a new language…Spanish, French, Mandarin or even Irish perhaps?! There are online learning platforms offering free language skills including Babbel, Duolingo, Busuu, Learn a Language.
  35. Teach a class. I love to cook and have started using social media as a way of connecting to others who like to cook too. I’m teaching my first bread making class this Thursday to a group of ladies via Zoom. Think about a skill you have and reach out to your family, friends, and social media followers to see if anyone would like to meet up weekly to share or teach a class.

Remember – we are all in this terrible time of Covid-19 together. If we can find creative ways to stay together but stay apart…we have a fighting chance to see a better tomorrow. And, as An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said yesterday, “We cannot lose focus. What we’re doing is difficult but it is making a difference.”

Stay healthy. Stay safe. And, message me if you have any more ideas.

~ XK

 

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A few weeks ago, I participated in a Joy workshop. It was exactly what a full-time mom (or dad) needs heading into the holiday season.

The gathering started with a meet and greet cocktail hour on Friday evening and then, over two days, became a thoughtful consideration of:

  • what zaps us of joy?
  • are we choosing emotions other than joy?
  • how to connect with our own joy
  • rituals for creating and keeping joy

There was conversation, teachings, things to read, skill drills, time for journaling, laughing, crying; it was deep and messy and wonderful all at one time. Most importantly, it was a reminder of how and why we lose our joy and what it takes to find it again. Woven into the workshop was yoga, delicious food, and the chance to meet like-minded women who want to connect with themselves and each other.

 

What came up for me during the workshop was the profound loss I have felt the last eight years since my mother and grandmother passed away. My life changed instantly with their passings. My mother’s sudden death was particularly hard. She and I were not close, but we loved one another. When she died, I truly did not know what hit me. More importantly, I did not know how to grieve.

 

My grandmother’s passing was quite different. Her dying took place over many months. We were close and her slow exit from this life brought us closer. I am incredibly thankful for the time we had together and for the wisdom and guidance she shared with me in her life. With her last breath, she was teaching me something.

Two back-to-back deaths however, left me lost…and I didn’t even know it. What I realise now is that I was living in a haze colored by loss. I compare myself, pre and post their deaths, to being severely concussed. In my sorrow, I walked through life unable to feel, think, participate or do anything fully. That phrase “the lights are on but nobody is home” says it all. In a textural point of view, it felt like I was walking in a sticky web and could not get free.

I am a fighter, so to be sure, and I struggled against the darkness but it always pushed back hard.

 

Slowly, the stickiness of loss has lifted. Last year I noticed that I was finally coming back to myself. I was feeling joy again. In a moment of absolute “what the heck happened to me”, I saw a therapist who explained that it can take one to three years to fully process a loss. Two losses, one right after the other, may take twice as long or longer. And grief comes in waves…you’re fine and then you’re not…you’re fine again and then you’re not…again.

I have grieved for my beloved mother, grandmother and myself. I include myself because I have lost precious momentum and time: eight years to be exact. I forgive myself for not being able to see my way clearly.

Sadly, I acknowledge that I can’t get back those years. I can’t change what I did or didn’t do…did or did not say. I can only be aware of what happened, love myself, acknowledge my pain, and the hurt my emotional absence may have created in other people’s lives, and move forward.

Love

This past year, my intention has been “Love”…love of self, love of others, love of work, love of learning and travel and so much more. Love and time have brought me back to myself…brought me back to today. And the Joy workshop I did last weekend helped me to look at what has been holding me back from having as much joy as I had before my mother and grandmother died. That information I’ll save for another blog post!

When I woke up this morning the phrase “Today, I Begin Anew” popped into my mind. I wrote it down on a sticky note and put it on my mirror as a reminder of the new awakening I feel for my beautiful, complicated, messy life.

This is my journey. It is perfectly imperfect.

Maybe God, the Universe, the Powers that Be are molding me for something I do not yet know. Loss is part of being “molded”. And, with grace, I am open to the possibilities of the journey. So, today, I begin anew. Perhaps this post will help you in any loss you are experiencing. Today, please know that you are not alone.

~XoK

 

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Saoirse Ronan and Martin McDonagh at 2018 Golden Globes

Photo Credits: HFPA

It was a cracking night for the Irish at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony in Beverly Hill, CA last night as Saoirse Ronan and Martin McDonagh took home top honours.

Ronan won the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category for the film Lady Bird, in which she plays a headstrong high school senior experiencing a turbulent relationship with her mother. It has been praised in many circles for capturing the poignancy and craziness of late adolescence {something this Irish mother of two teens can relate too!}. The film Lady Bird also won the award for the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

McDonagh won not one, but two awards, last night: Best Motion Picture – Drama category and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture category for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. For McDonagh, there was additional success as actress Frances McDormand won the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture award and actor Sam Rockwell won the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture for Three Billboards as well.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is both a wickedly dark comedy and searing drama that takes audiences on the journey of a vigilante single mom forcing the police department in her fictional town of Ebbing, Missouri, to investigate her daughter’s unsolved murder by buying ad space on three billboards. {please note, there is profanity in this trailer}

 

 

For Ronan, this year’s ceremony was not her first appearance at the Golden Globes as a nominee. In 2008, at the tender age of 13, she was nominated for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in an Motion Picture category for the film Atonement. And she was also nominated in 2016 for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama category for Brooklyn.

 

As the mother of two, it was refreshing to see both Saoirse Ronan and Martin McDonagh mention their mothers in their acceptance speeches. Ronan said this: “My mam’s on FaceTime over there on someone’s phone right now so hi!…I want to thank all of the women who I love so much in my own life, who support me every single day…my mother, who’s on FaceTime…!”

Not to be outdone in the humour department, McDonagh said: It’s my mum’s birthday tomorrow; she likes this kind of thing…So happy birthday, mum – even though I think she wanted Lady Bird to win!”

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* To read all full list of all the winners and nominees at the 2018 Golden Globe awards, visit here.

** Read more about Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn at the Sundance Film Festival 2015 here.

*** Visit the Lady Bird website by clicking here, and the Facebook page by clicking here.

**** Visit the Three Billboards website by clicking here and the Facebook page by clicking here.

 

 

 

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There’s something exciting and wonderful about January and the start of a new year. It’s a blank slate…don’t you think?…the chance to create something wonderful in our life and the world at large. It’s an opportunity to renew relationships and commitments or scrap the ones that didn’t work for us in the past.

Resolution, intention, purpose, goal, conscious thought…whatever you/we call our outlook for the coming twelve months…I am glad we are here today and have the chance to think about the next 363 tomorrows in 2018.

My intention this year is LOVE. 

I thought about other words and phrases: do better, be more, simplify, focus, get healthy, gratitude, travel, family, thankful, be positive, trust, faith, find joy, be present…but they didn’t resonate as much as LOVE did.

So this year…I’m going to practice Love of Self, Love of Others, Love of Work, Love of Learning, Love of Travel, Love of Being Strong, Love of Cooking, Love of Parenting, the Love of Letting Go…and more. Love, love, love…isn’t it just grand?

What is your intention, purpose, goal, conscious thought, resolution or “word” for 2018?

~ XoK

 

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Hello my lovely friends, fellow bloggers, and visitors! It’s almost New Year’s Eve and our home is a buzz with preparations for a celebration…teen style! Our two daughters are hosting different groups of friends this year…their first time ever…which should be interesting. Wish us luck!!

In return, I wish for you a New Year’s Eve celebration that fills your night with everything you need: romance, love, friendship, quiet time, family time…whatever!! And for the year ahead, may you enjoy good health, much happiness, peace, and abundance.

God bless you. And, thank you so much for your friendship and support this past year. XoKim

Happy New Year 2018!

 

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Please stay connected with me in the coming year through: Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

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It took me a long time, a very long time, to fall in love with Ireland. I was young and foolish, when we first arrived, and I longed for the familiarity of the country I grew up in, the people I knew well, and a life faster-paced. But, slowly, oh so slowly, this serene country grew on me…like moss taking over a field.

Rolling green Irish countryside with ancient trees and cows grazing in the distance

Today I appreciate what I once did not. I love how at every turn something arresting catches my eye…like this field near our home. Notice how the land rolls softly at crooked angles, emerald green. Imagine cow bellows being carried softly on the breeze, and leaves rustling loosely in the wind. See the old trees huddled together, while one brave one stands tall and stately on its own. And sense the darkened cotton-ball clouds rolling overhead.

If you will, take a moment…blot out the words…and just look at the photo. Drink it in. Does it make you feel serene? I hope it does: then you too will share a tiny bit of what it took me a long, oh so long, time to realise: Ireland is an extraordinary place. Slán.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

** Want to stay at an Irish farm? Check out this article from The Irish Independent newspaper!

 

 

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Wishes from In an Irish Home to You and Yours

I have so much to be thankful for today and every day: my sweet family {the inlaws and the outlaws!}, wonderful, supportive, friends, and you…the fabulous visitors who call-in to this blog every day!

From the bottom to the top of my Irish heart…THANK YOU!

Thank you for visiting In an Irish Home, for leaving your comments, and for sharing what you like with me and others.
Wishing you and those you love a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

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Three candles in pumpkins with autumnal leaves

With two daughters in our Irish home, there is always a craft project in the works. And, happily, these sweet little pumpkin luminaries are a doddle to make. In fact, we a had a few odd shaped and left-over candles on hand, so I didn’t even have to buy wax for this activity. Wicks are readily available, as are tiny pumpkins…so there’s no excuse not to try making these pumpkin candles in your home. Enjoy!

Candle Pumpkins

Materials & Equipment

Small pumpkins

Wax flakes or left over candles

Wicks {if you have odd-shaped or old candles you are repurposing, you may also be able to repurpose the wicks}

Aluminium

Cutting board

Knife or store-bought serrated carver {the later worked well for us}

Spoon

Paperclip

Wooden skewer

Old pot

Tape

Instructions

1. Line your countertop or work surface with aluminum. Set out all your supplies.

2. Carefully, cut out the top of the pumpkin with your knife or store-bought serrated carver. This is the trickiest part, especially for little hands. Discard the top.

3. Hollow out the pumpkin with the spoon. Scrape out all the seeds and strings. You can save the pumpkin seeds for roasting later, if you like.

4. Tie one end of the wick to a paperclip and place in the hollowed out pumpkin. If you buy wicks with the metal ring already attached, press the base of the wick into the hollowed out pumpkin.

5. If repurposing old candles, chop them into small pieces on the cutting board…again, taking care not to cut yourself.

6. Put wax into your pot and melt over very low heat on the hob {stove}. It will be clear and totally liquid when ready.

7. Pour the wax, carefully, into the pumpkin. Only fill about half-way. Hold the wick upright as you pour.

8. Tape the top part of the wick to the skewer to hold it in place.

9. Pour the rest of the wax into the pumpkin until it is completely filled.

10. Reposition the wick, if necessary, and leave to cool for at least 6-8 hours or overnight.

11. When the candle is fully set, remove the tape and the skewer. Trim the wick to about 1/2-inch in length above the wax surface.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* While it is still warm, wipe clean the pot you used to melt your wax with kitchen roll {paper towels}. Do not pour hot wax down your sink and do not pour it into your kitchen bin {trash can}.

** For a warm, autumnal smell, add crushed  cinnamon sticks to the wax and stir well before pouring into the hollowed-out pumpkins.

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Today I’m trying something new here at In An Irish Home.  I am going to participate in the #weekendcoffeeshare on WordPress. These are going to be special posts going along with the theme shared by the Daily Post prompt– “Each weekend, bloggers publish posts about what they’d say to their readers if they were sitting down together over a cup of coffee. Some bloggers do it every weekend, while others dip in and out.” I’m not sure if I’ll do it more than this one time, but if feels like a good way to bring authenticity to my writing today. So…here goes…

If we were having coffee we would probably be sitting at your kitchen table or mine, as one does in Ireland {unless, of course, we’re in Avoca Handweavers looking out over a gray or possibly changing soft day!}. We’d be having tea…because that’s what most people do in Ireland. Our tea would be served from a tea pot, not in a plastic cup like you get at Starbucks. And we’d be having something wickedly sweet like a slice of lemon cake or a Mars Bar biscuit…ok, maybe I’d be having something sweet and you’d be having a healthy scone!

We’d probably talk about the simple things first and get them over quickly…just so we could delve into the nitty gritty details of our lives. You’d tell me about your kids, your job, your husband/your ex or how your dating life is going, your stresses. I’d tell you the same. I’d tell you how, just two days ago, I felt like packing it all in and running away to some beautiful beach {maybe Hawaii}…only to settle down after a good night sleep and realise how very much I love my beautiful, sometimes-make-me-crazy family, and how very much I miss my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law and home (America when I’m in Ireland and Ireland when I’m in America). We’d laugh until we talked about your divorce or your ailing parent and then we’d get serious for a little while. We’d talk about our kids and how they’re coping in this crazy world…and making us crazy too. And we’d talk about how short life is and how much we’d like to slow down and spend it with the ones who really matter.

Politics would only come up if we were talking about the ridiculous American presidential candidates. Faith would only come up because we’d talk about how I saw your parents in church last week or how things are going with the plans for your son’s upcoming Confirmation. We don’t really talk politics or religion in Ireland otherwise.

We’d start talking about other friends…but in a way that is supportive…not gossipy. We’d fill each other in on what we don’t already know and we’d encourage each other to get in touch with someone we’ve let slip out of our hands. And, then, before we call it a “cuppa” we’d talk about and make plans for our next girls night out or girls weekend away. We’d whip out our mobile phones and send our other gal-pals a quick text to say, “Let’s meet up!”

And, with the world’s problems solved for another day, we’d hug each other and say our goodbyes. I’d close my hall door or walk out to my car…incredibly thankful for your friendship.

That’s what I imagine would happen if we were having coffee, what do you imagine?

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* Here’s where If We Were Having Coffee… all started: Part-Time Monster

** Here’s where I learned about it.

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Oh my…where has the time gone?!

It’s already 2016 in Ireland, but in sunny California, where we are visiting my husband’s extended family, there is still another hour to go.

It’s “all hands on deck” in the kitchen. Nearly everyone is cooking or baking or mixing. While I sit here typing and photographing my last post for 2015, I’m being handed small plates filled with Tomato-Jam Burrata Bruschetta, Brie with Candied Fig and Chopped Pistachio Bruschetta, and various antipasto salads to test. Each one is as good as the next. Oh joy!

On the cooker (stove) a S’mores Cake is cooling, tempting everyone with its heady scent of burnt vanilla sugar.

There is great excitement in the air.

New Year's Eve

It’s wonderful to be part of a family who love spending time together.

As the clock ticks down on the last few minutes of the “old year”, I am astounded at our many blessings: family, food, love, laughter, shelter, health, the ability to travel. All of these blessings have trumped the occasions of sadness, loss, and uncertainty we have felt.

I hope the same will be true again in 2016….for us…and for you.

From our Irish home to yours, wherever you may be, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016.

God bless and Happy New Year!

 

 

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