Friday, March 27, 2015

Luck of the Irish

Top o the Mornin' to Ya.

Ireland is on my bucket list. A bucket list that I have not formalized because that is bad luck. It's also why I haven't written my book yet- this story is still working itself out. Would like to keep the plot twists to a minimum from here on out. And until my fairy godmother appears with grand plans for a great european tour- I keep on the building suspense part of the story.

I grew up in a good Irish Catholic family. I remember my uncle and his family making the trek to Ireland to find our roots years ago. The funny thing is we are such a melting pot-but yet somehow the Irish part resonates with us.  I think one thing I've learned from this heritage is that luck is what you make it. Certain things are just chalked up to luck. I am a very lucky woman.

Phil often jokes that he is more Irish than me. It is true. I think ancestrally speaking- he has a much clearer link to that island than I do through his Bourne side. I remember the day Phillip was born and the doctor looked from me to Phil and back to the ginger haired cherub we produced. Didn't expect the red hair- he told us. But Mallory sounds like a pretty Irish name. Despite the fact that it isn't really. The Irish blood comes from his mother's side. I've joked with him for years that Mallory means unlucky. And it is probably french in origin, from "malheure" meaning unhappy or unlucky. The Mallory name travelled from France and England to Germany and the US. Some from Ireland.

I am of the Connolly clan. Meaning, valiant, wise. Also more English by way of Irish. My other half is Eberle, French-Canadian and German. I am truly a mutt. My children even more so. I embrace this part of us. I find that mixed babies are the most beautiful and I sincerely hope that the genetic diversity will help them overcome some of the shortcomings. Balance. Luck. But that is where the strength is. I remember my uncle brought us back cards with the Connolly crest on it- I still have mine tucked away- I thought it was interesting that it had 5 seashells on it. That was it. I don't know what I was hoping for- rainbows-lions-shamrocks and scythes- something that felt a little tougher than seashells. Yet if you think about it- shells are homes, they are travelers, they are a hearty bunch.  I looked up the Mallory crest and it had a weird Lion beast on it. And a horse- which I thought was fitting since Phillip means lover of horses. Oh yes the jokes there have been exhausted. And during our most recent discussion as to our familial luck and whether or not it hinges on the name- I found this...

The meaning of Mallory in German is - War Counselor. And somehow that seems most appropriate of all. Which is good- Germany was already on the list of European bucket list destinations.

Just as in life- where you've been influences who you are but also where you are going. How you look at obstacles can really truly affect whether or not they are surmountable. The shell is shaped and weathered by the sea. If you go through life thinking you are unlucky, bad luck will find you as you will attribute every unfortunate event to that omen. Yet if you approach it from the other direction, as an opportunity to direct change- then new paths open up. Sure there may be roadblocks and you may have to lay some paving down- but just think of those who follow not having to pave their own way. When I travel one of these metaphorical roads, I wonder who was responsible and send out thanks to the universe. Some people call this praying. Some people give thanks to God. But God was working through individuals like you and me- and that is where the beauty is. Simple people with some bad luck that turned a journey into something greater than an anecdote. By sending out thanks to the universe, I have to trust that my grateful energy will go where it is needed most- just as in times of trouble I close my eyes and allow it to be returned. 

So luck may throw some challenges- but when you resign yourself to knowing that your role or strength is in meeting these challenges as a trusted advisor- a war counselor- it takes some of the power away from the unknown and puts it into our hands. It does not make it easy. But as humans we are in the constant search for meaning- and sometimes we have to choose which meaning we would like to believe. My truth is this- my unlucky circumstances have made me the luckiest woman in the world. 

I met my husband when we were children.  Somewhere in all of our losses, we found each other. In a way that most people never experience. He asked me a few nights ago what I wanted my legacy to be. He is not the first one to ask. I've had friends and relatives jump in on many projects- and recently a friend asked me outright- do you want this to be your legacy? I hadn't honestly thought of it in those terms at all and the suggestion horrified me. No. My nonprofit work, LivingLFS and the support group are not my legacy. It is needed, it is one of my many families. But it is not mine, it belongs to everyone who has LFS or loves one of our war counseling families.

When Phil asked about legacy I cried for quite some time. We both have been drifting in this choppy water. Not knowing the timeline. Not knowing the plot twists to come. I don't want to have THESE discussions. But I also know- no matter how well you know a person, or their wishes- these conversations need to be had. It is always better to be prepared, but preparing sometimes feels like taunting the cancer Gods. Perhaps if I don't finish my story- it cannot have an ending. Which we all know is flawed logic, as sometimes the main character gets offed in the midst of the greatest battle. But then you see how strong the supporting characters are. 

And in that realization, I found my legacy. My legacy is the thing I have spent my entire life building. My family. Our children. My supporting characters.  They are the best parts of me. They are parts of my parents and their parents. And the worst- my stubborn, valiant little mutants. Through this great melting pot- they are my work, my memories, my time on this earth and the things I am most proud of.  And it is appropriate that they are only half mine- because you just can't beat an amazing collaboration. And a little bit of Luck.

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)