“Brooklyn” & Opportunity

brooklyn

I recently saw the movie “Brooklyn”,  based on the book by Colm Toibin, about a young woman who travels from Ireland to America seeking opportunity.  I immediately thought of my great grandma, Mary Healy, who left her home in Riverstown in County Sligo, in 1907 and arrived five days later at Ellis Island.

At the young age of 11, Mary accompanied her aunt Bridget in search a better life but mostly the unknown.  Unknown because there weren’t televisions, iPhones, computers and barely a telephone.  I can’t imagine the hope and fear they must have had similar to Eilis (pronounced Alish) in “Brooklyn”.

Eilis arrived at Ellis Island around 1950 all alone with no family or friends except for a Priest.  He helped her get a job, a home with other Irish immigrants and eventually an education.

I don’t know if my great-grandmother had a plan laid out like Eilis but most importantly, she survived.  Mary found a home in Newark, NJ, eventually met my great-grandfather (O’Hare), started a family and had six children.

Great Grandma Mary & I She lived to be 97 and passed in 1993.

Great Grandma Mary & I
She lived to be 97 and passed in 1993.

My grandmother is now 95 and had a family of her own, one son who died shortly after birth and three daughters; one of which is my mother.  I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m telling this story!

First, let me say that I think the evolution of my family is amazing.  I think I get my fire from my great-grandmother and grandmother; smart, witty, wise cracking and family above all else.  That’s where I come from.

Second, you reading this are a relative of an immigrant.  If you don’t already know your story, find out.  You might be amazed.

Lastly, the world we live in today is a scary place and very different from 1907 and 1950.  ISIS and other terrorist groups are threatening our freedoms.  As an American, we are the land of the free and home of the brave which will never change but I’m very conflicted on the topic of refugees.

We have our own citizens that are sick, dying, homeless and without food.  Syria is a place of terror and poverty beyond our imagination yet I fear for our own safety of terrorist.  I don’t have an answer, but if we didn’t have immigrants then you or I wouldn’t be here.

 

 

In Our Hearts

Today marks 20 years since the death of my brother.  The amount of time that has gone by is shocking.  I am sharing this to provide comfort to those suffering a loss:

In Our Hearts

We thought of you with love today.

But that was nothing new.

We thought about you yesterday.

And days before that too.

We think of you in silence.

We often speak your name.

Now all we have is memories.

And your picture in a frame.

Your memory is our keepsake.

With which we’ll never part.

God has you in his keeping.

We have you in our heart.

liz sean

An Ode to The Feehery’s

Family Quote

When I was about two, my mother met a wonderful man from a large Irish Catholic family.  They married shortly thereafter and I suddenly had about 20 new cousins and 12 aunts and uncles.

Not being blood related is not a factor in this family.  They welcomed my brother and I from the beginning.  I can vividly remember Christmas parties at Aunt Joanne and Uncle Pat’s house with all the cousins, I was in my Aunt Jane’s wedding, summers in Stone Harbor with Uncle Jef and Aunt Kathy, playing at Aunt Marie and Uncle Mike’s house, Aunt Eileen holding my family together when my brother died and New Year’s parties at Aunt Chris and Uncle Joe’s house.  And then there’s the countless weddings…

Last night I attended a wedding for my cousin Alicia.  It was a beautiful day and the family gathered to celebrate the special event. My cousins are mostly in Pennsylvania but some are now in other places like Virginia, California, Colorado and Minnesota so it’s not easy to see them often but they were there (some in spirit).  Seeing my cousins is like that friend you’ve known for years and even though you don’t see each other that often, you pick up right where you left off.

Looking back on the conversations I had last night with many of my cousins, aunts and uncles, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with love and gratitude.  Each of them are such special and loving people who want the best for me and each other.

Over the years this family has seen a lot of tragedies and lately, thank God, a lot of triumphs.  I just wanted to give a special message to the Feehery family and let them all know how much they mean to me.  It’s not very often you have special relationships with family who truly come together in good times and in bad.  Mom Mom and Pop Pop would be proud.

Never Give Up

babe ruth

In August I started back at Ultimate Fit Zone .  It was going really well three weeks and then I went on a trip to Bermuda.  I packed my gym clothes for the trip and visited the gym the first day to get acclimated but never worked out.

I returned from my trip and took off another week because I just wasn’t motivated to go back yet.  On Monday I finally pushed myself and it was a disaster.  I started out jumping rope with five meter long jump in between then we moved onto weights and pulls ups.  I nearly passed out and stopped the workout.

Embarrassed, I left the gym as quickly as I could.  I was not focused, didn’t want to be there and taking the time off was a big set back for me but I sure as hell wasn’t going to quit.

I’m far from perfect and we all have bad days.  That was mine.  The important lesson though is that I didn’t give up.  I went right back to it another day and kicked ass.  Below is the workout I did and was damn proud.

WOD

The point is, no matter what you’re doing in your life you will have a set back or a bad day but never give up if you want something.

Choose Hope Not Fear

chemo

Every week, my very good friend drives up to North Jersey from Ocean County for her chemo treatments to fight breast cancer.  Last week, I had the honor of going with her.  Admittedly I was nervous because I’m queasy around needles but mostly because I didn’t know what to expect of others.

The hospital in which the chemo treatment took place had a floor dedicated to the treatment.  A whole floor that ran like a well oiled machine from checking in, getting your name called, taking your blood, getting a seat number, picking up warm blankets and a pillow and then your cocktail is delivered.  Each and every one of the staff was friendly and upbeat.  I guess there is no other choice than to be positive in a fearful place.

In true life fashion, my fears were unnecessary.  The needles made me light headed, yes, but fearing the unexpected wasn’t all that scary.  There were a few patients that sat in the chair next to us who had ports.  (Luckily for my friend, a port isn’t necessary.)  The ports remind me of something sci-fi; getting plugged up to tubes delivering your custom cocktail.  The “plug” reminded me of my iPhone plug but instead of going into the wall, it was going near the patient’s heart.

The real scary thing was how many patients were there.  I wonder quite often why so many people have cancer.  This can go into a whole other topic but it’s important to acknowledge that treatment is more available than 10, 20, 30 years ago.

In the end, the experience is very humbling.  Each patient’s diagnoses and experience is different yet there is a special connection between them like their own lingo: WBC numbers or counts, chemo brain, how many treatments are left for them, sharing after-chemo experiences.   My hope is that all those people I saw today are able to walk away and live happy healthy lives.

I am so very proud of my friend for being a strong and beautiful person throughout her journey to health.  She is way more beautiful without her hair because of her strength.

What Are You Waiting For?

what are you waiting for

The other day I was sitting on the beach with my friend explaining how hard the dating scene is.  I had been on a couple dates and had a couple coming up.  Unfortunately, the one had cancelled our 2nd date the day before due to work schedule which is totally understandable.

Since I’m an open book I have to admit I took a blow to the ego.  Did he not want to see me again and this was an excuse or maybe he really was just busy with work?!  This is how my brain functions: I question things and think things to death until I exhaust myself and build anxiety that’s unnecessary.  A lot of people think I’m calm and collected, which I generally am, but I’m a basket case on the inside.

Going back to the relaxing beach scene….my friend gave me really good advice:  Stop over thinking and do something for yourself.  That can mean different things to different people but to me it means focus on me being happy and healthy.

The gears start churning in my head trying to think of what I can do to change things for me and I asked myself, what have I done in the past that makes me feel good, not only mentally but physically?

If you haven’t been following my blog, roughly two years ago I started at Ultimate Fit Zone by joining their boot camp classes.  I did it for about three months and then went into running. (I quit way too early!) It was the only workout that worked for me.  Encouraging trainers and peers and I did things I never imaged I could do with my body.  So, the bitch is back…

I figure we only live one life so live it happy!  In closing, I ask you…what are you waiting for to do what makes YOU happy?

Sunscreen – Help Needed!

I think most people by now have come across the article on 2015 sunscreens to avoid and what you should be using. (http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2015/06/neutrogena-sunscreen-toxic-avoid/)

I take sunscreen very seriously because of my Irish fair skin and family history.  In the past I only trusted Neutrogena particularly on my face.  I only use Neutogena face cleansing products on my face and have for years and years.  It’s Dermatologist recommended, right?

As you can imagine I was very disheartened to hear it may be toxic for my skin.  Whether that’s sunscreen only or all of their products, I decided to explore the suggested products according to the “Environmental Working Group” (EWG).  I don’t know who this group is and frankly sounds like a new category for the Westminster Dog Show but what the hey – they explored an important topic.

Reading through the list there are many brands on the “best” list that are familiar to me:  Bullfrog, Burt’s Bees, Earth’s Best, Jersey Shore Sun (GTL), and The Honest Company.  If you don’t know by now, The Honest Company was founded by Jessica Alba to make baby and home products available that are safe and healthy for all.  I’m sure there are many wonderful products people have tried but I can tell you the sunscreen is going in the garbage.

honest sunscreen lotion

One important feature of a product that is a must is that it’s not greasy/oily.  This was about as greasy as baby oil in the 70’s and totally skeeved me out.  I couldn’t get it off my face fast enough that I used Bath & Body Works antibacterial hand soap to wash it off.

So, I am asking for help on sunscreen recommendations.  If you know of any brands on the “best” list in the link listed above that not only is a good sunscreen, safe for the face, water-resistant and non-greasy, please let me know.  My skin thanks you…