Trip to the American consulate and more moving prep…

Tuesday was a big day… we finally took the boys to the American consulate to apply for their American birth certificates and passports! They are now on their way to officially being American citizens. Since we’ll be living in Ireland, they won’t be Irish Americans, but American Irish! Strange to think that I didn’t even have a passport until I was 20 and my two boys ages 2.5 and 6 months, will have not one, but TWO passports and are already international travellers! Crazy to think how different they’re childhood experience will be from either Richie’s or mine, although I suppose that’s true for most kids in one way or another. Things change fast!

Next I have to sort out dentist appointments for myself and Richie, because doing that here will be much cheaper than in Ireland. Besides, we haven’t been to a dentist for YEARS and it’s just way past time we got that done. And then I have to do a bit more research on shipping our stuff. It looks like we won’t have enough to go with an actual moving company, so we’ll just send things with UPS or something like that. This move is a great opportunity to minimize our possessions again. We arrived here in Istanbul with two rucksacks and two carry-on bags. We won’t be able to go with quite as little as that, especially since we’ve added two people to our travelling party, but we’re only taking and shipping the necessary stuff. It’s hard thinking of leaving things behind, even stuff that wasn’t ours to begin with but we inherited when we moved into this apartment… possessions become an extension of yourself and symbols of your life, but at the same time, it will be liberating to leave behind unnecessary clutter and try to just stick to the essentials. Besides, we’ve got quite a bit of stuff back at Richie’s parents’ house, from our ‘former life’, so it’s not like we don’t own anything at all! I bet there are loads of things packed up there that I don’t even remember having! It’ll be like getting a load of new stuff!

Well, Fred’s awake so that’s the end of this post!

So, is it seriously February of 2014?

How did this happen!? Time goes too quickly. Also, the weather here in Istanbul has been very un-wintery (which I’m not complaining about!), so it is a bit difficult for me to actually get my head around the fact that is is February. Woah.

Well, life has been pretty good around here. I won’t even bother trying to do a proper re-cap of the last month + since my previous post…. just too much to say, and if I start along those lines, let’s be honest, I’ll NEVER finish this post!

So, everyone is happy and healthy. Liam is now 2 1/2 and Fred turned 6 months last week. I did a couple of weeks of work (teaching a one-to-one lesson with a teenage boy at my school), and it was a bit rough the first week, but better the second week. Fred is not big into the whole bottle thing, which isn’t a big surprise since we never tried to give him one until about 2 days before I started work! Ooops. That’s procrastination for you. Luckily, I wasn’t gone for long each day, so taking a few sips from a cup was enough to keep him alive until I got home!

Other big news!!!! We booked our flights back to Ireland! This whole move thing is really happening! I’m really excited about, but it is sort of a bittersweet sort of thing. There are so many things about Istanbul that I’ll miss and it will be hard to leave behind this part of our lives. We’ll miss our lovely friends and wonderful relaxed lifestyle most of all. Being in an amazing beautiful crazy busy interesting city. Delicious food, gorgeous fresh produce, street markets, etc. Having a real summer with sun and heat (and sometimes fantastic holidays to the sea and that sort of thing). Lots of things. It’s hard to list them all.

January 2014 196

Looking at this photo makes me feel like I might die of the cuteness!

One thing I think about a lot is how lucky we’ve been to start our family while living here. We’ve been able to comfortably live on one income since Liam was born (although I did work part time before Fred was born), and I know I’ll always have fond memories of our tiny little cramped and sort of crappy apartment, with it’s lovely windows, sunshine, amazing view over the city, sparrows darting past in the summer mornings and evenings, and even more than all of that, I’ll miss all this time we’ve had together. First the three of us, and then the four of us, just spending so much time all squished in here together, talking and playing and eating and reading stories, and snuggling together for naps, having the luxury of family time ALL THE TIME! How many people get to enjoy that!? Not too many I’d imagine. I know that our current lifestyle isn’t sustainable, since we have no savings (and actually, no jobs at this particular moment!), no insurance, you know, that grown up stuff that you need, especially when you have kids to look after! But the four and a half years we’ve spent here have really shown me that it is possible to live simply and just enjoy the people you live with, make lots of time for friends, find pleasure in small things like cups of tea, visits to playgrounds, picnics in parks. I haven’t even shopped for clothes for over two years (apart from a couple of maternity items), and I don’t miss the shopping at all! In a way, I just feel liberated! Don’t get me wrong… occasionally I’d love to go out for a fancy meal and a bottle of wine like Richie and I used to, but I know we’ll do that again someday, and for now, I’m very satisfied with life. Doing with out all the fluffy things also makes me appreciate it more when we actually do get a treat, which is nice too.

Anyway, I am looking forward to a new start, a new job, hopefully having something rewarding to work at, a new direction, etc., but I know I’ll miss our magical, free-and-easy togetherness years in Istanbul.

On that note, I’ll head off to bed. Here are a few photos and more to come!

Tiny houses…

I just watched this short bit of a documentary on ‘tiny houses‘. I’ve read about a few different people and their tiny homes through some blogs I frequently enjoy, and I’m totally taken by the idea. I don’t necessarily think that everyone can or should live out in the wilderness in a 100 square foot house living off the grid, but the concept definitely makes me think about sustainable living, what’s really necessary in life to be comfortable and happy, and even just living choices!

As an urban dweller for many years now, I actually find it hard to fathom owning a real house with a garden and all the usual trappings, as well as needing a car, having to drive everywhere, etc. I suppose our current apartment is a rather small home, when compared to a normal house, or at least the type of house I’m used to. However, I absolutely love this apartment (except in the winter when it’s cold and I do want to build a fire-pit in the middle of the sitting room-but that’s a separate issue), and it’s convenient location within walking distance of work and all the shops we need on a daily/weekly basis . I know it’s all about what you’re used to, but this place feels quite spacious to me, although I can’t tell you how many square feet it actually is.

Thinking about the prospect of owning a house at some point in the future, one thing that I do want is the choice to buy something small, or at least smallish. It seems that houses just keep getting bigger and bigger, and of course, more expensive, but this really isn’t cool especially if you want to live in something a bit more snug. Maybe I won’t cram a family into 100 or 200 square feet, but still, just a few cosy rooms would really do the trick. Having less space also makes it easier to have less stuff, which is also a good thing in my opinion. Another thing I like about living in smaller spaces is that it means everyone in the house is ‘forced’ to spend more time together! There just aren’t as many places to hide! Or, on the other hand, as I even find in this apartment, being in a small space means you get out and about in the world more. When I find the apartment too small or too boring, it means I go out to a cafe or the park or wander around the neighbourhood a bit, people watching, enjoying the fresh air and the liveliness of everything happening all around. It’s an entertaining world out there and it feels good to get out and be a part of it, even if I’m mostly just a spectator.

Anyway, seeing examples of people building their own tiny houses is a great reminder that it’s possible to go against the trend of bigger=better. I read about one tiny house that a couple were building in the US and I think the estimated cost was around $35,000 for their own custom-built home! That tiny house also gets a pretty tiny mortgage, which is another huge perk! Fewer years of life working to pay off your house sounds good to me.

Well, here’s to tiny houses!

Tiny House Tour: Daniel Aragon’s “Ico” from TINY on Vimeo.

Longing for an open road…

‘Living simply isn’t necessarily that it’s simple; it’s that you strive for understanding what sacred is and what values are.’

Maybe it’s because when I was a kid and my dad was in the Navy, we moved a lot and this involved packing ourselves (and multiple cats, dogs and rabbits) into a station wagon and driving hundreds of miles. Or maybe it’s because I’m a wandering gypsy at heart. Or because I love the freedom of travel and the elusive, tempting nature of unknown destinations, the promise of adventure offered by horizons. Whatever the reason, I love road trips, the idea of road trips, stories about road trips and films about road trips.

I find there’s something so pure and amazing about the idea of throwing a few possessions into a car, loading up a few snacks and some great tapes or CDs, and hitting the road. Watch the fields flash past, listen to the wind roaring through those open windows, and just feel foot loose and fancy free for even just a few hours. Longer if possible. Or maybe forever! Amazing.

Anyway, I’ve gotten all itchy-footed watching this trailer for the documentary 23 Feet, about a community of people who have given up the ‘creature comforts’ of modern society to live in vans and buses, pursuing their life passions and love of nature. This is simple living done big style! I’m not sure when the film will be released or how I’ll get my mits on it, but I am dying for more! Check it out.

Here’s a cool article about the project too: 23 Feet: only the Necessities- Living Fully by Living Simply

Oh my, how quickly everything can change…

Well, spring weather and the end of my first trimester (yes, in case you didn’t know, we’re expecting Morkan Baby in September) have sort of come at the same time. Result? I feel like a completely different person than I did a couple of weeks ago! Holy cow, it’s a bit mental how suddenly and drastically your whole outlook on life can shift!

So, with my renewed energy, I’m thinking up and starting to implement a few small changes, starting some new positive habits and beginning some projects. Here are a few of the main things I’m doing at the moment:

1. Eating healthy, home-cooked food: For the last few months I had all day nausea and major food aversions, so I was just kind of eating whatever sounded tolerable at the exact time I was going to eat. Also, I was wrecked and exhausted, so cooking wasn’t really something I wanted to put much effort into, AT ALL. This led to lots of take-away food and delivery, both at work and at home. It was great for a while, but then it just started feeling a bit blah; too fatty, too rich, too expensive.

So, now I’ve been back to simple, flavourful, healthy and mostly-veggie cooking and healthy snacks too, and I’m loving it! I have basically been celebrating my ability to eat good, nourishing food, for myself and baby. I don’t know why, but eating wholesome stuff actually makes me feel really happy.

2. Morning yoga routine: I am really trying to get into good habits here. Get up in the morning, and maybe have a tiny nibble of food to keep me going, and then about 15 minutes of simple yoga to stretch out and wake up my mind and body. It’s such a good way to start the day, and makes me feel more energetic and active. Otherwise I have a tendency to just waste up to HOURS in the morning just not really doing anything. Plus my lower back has been feeling a little sore, so the yoga is kind of necessary. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun!

3. Reading, writing, thinking, being: I have been trying to follow my own advice and make more time and space in my life for creativity. I’m reading a great novel, enjoying some poetry, taking time to write random things, and sometimes just sitting in the sun letting my mind wander. I am definitely a busy-mind person (which doesn’t mean I am an efficient or active person!) so it is SO necessary for me to deliberately unplug for a bit. My mind NEVER wants to be quiet, so I need to give it little time-outs, relax my brain and body and just enjoy sights, sounds and smells around me. Do nothing. Listen to birds. Enjoy that lovely sunny warmth. Lay on the floor. You get the idea.

4. Recommitting to simple living: I’m ready again to give up wastefulness, laziness, stuff for stuff’s sake and having a cluttered mind, home and life! I’ve also been thinking of some priorities I have for the next few months/year, etc., and I am willing to make some sacrifices in the frivolous stuff to have the money and time for what I really want and value, such as…

I want to research birth options in Istanbul, and maybe have a doula or birth coach. A good friend of mine has a friend who is a birth coach and I’m hoping to talk with her and get some recommendations on English-speaking doulas, or other options. First of all, I want to have a natural-as-possible birth, and I don’t know anything about the system here in Istanbul. Also, I know myself that I’m not the most assertive person, and I would really love to have someone on my side who knows what’s going on, speaks Turkish, and is there to support me in all of this. I think it’ll make things less stressful for both Richie and I, because we’re both equally clueless in all of this. Having a doula or birth coach is even more important to me because there is something like a 90% caesarean birth rate here, and I am kind of freaked out by that!

We also have a few trips to the US and Ireland coming up in the next year. Visiting family and friends is definitely a priority, but certainly not cheap. So, some saving and living frugally will be important in making this happen.

I will probably be taking at least 3 un-paid months off of work when the baby is born and after that, possibly not working as much as usual. We hope that with our relatively flexible work schedules, we can always have one of us home for baby-care, but it’ll still probably involve fewer hours worked overall. So, best to save and be thrifty now to make things easier in the future.

On a non-money note, I also want to do a major reorganising and de-cluttering of our apartment! I plan to start with the bedroom and sitting room, getting rid of furniture we don’t use/need, clothes that are never worn, random odds and ends that seem to collect in drawers and on dressers and desk tops, etc. Then we have stuff in the back room/second bedroom that we never ever use, and I just don’t want all this stuff around taking up space! So, that’ll be my big spring cleaning project and I’m really looking forward to it!

Anyway, the whole idea of less life-clutter makes me feel freer and happier! It’s definitely a liberating experiences to let go of the unnecessary and devote more time, energy and resources to the things you really love and value.

So, that’s what’s up today. I hope this wave of energy and positivity stays with me! It feels good to feel ‘normal’ again. I’m going to make the most of it while it lasts.

Fresh ideas and inspiring thoughts…

This morning I felt kind of horrible. I was whining and crying because, in a nutshell, I just want to go back to Ireland and I’m tired of EVERYTHING! I can rationalize all of this by talking about winter blues, being tired, blah blah blah. I know there are lots of factors, and one is just me feeling sorry for myself. Nonetheless, that’s how I felt today (and how I’ve felt many days) so talking about ‘why’ isn’t really the point.

After a good talk with Richie, who is always very supportive and helpful when I’m having an emotional episode, I started looking for some inspiration. I took a glance at some blogs I usually enjoy reading, and I found some very encouraging words, and some new writers with new (to me) ideas which I intend to think about over the next few days.

First, I visited zenhabits and came across this guest blog post which seemed like the prefect thing for me to read in my current mental and emotional state. It’s about the transformative opportunity presented by burnout; how to take those worn out, depressed or dull feelings and let them be the motivation you need to make some changes in your life or to start dreaming and scheming about new ways to make your life what you want it to be.

Reading that led me to a whole new blog, Peace & Projects by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, and I think it is just full of exciting and uplifting ideas. I read a few of her previous posts today and I look forward to reading more throughout the coming weeks. I think I’ll become a regular visitor!

Anyway, I guess the thing is that the process of growing and changing and adapting is never over. Life is in a constant state of flux and so are we. I suppose it’s completely natural to be down sometimes, and the key thing is to work hard to get up again. Today was a start. Reading other people’s inspiring words has made a small dent in my burnout, but change doesn’t happen over night. I intend to take some time every day to do some reading and thinking and dreaming and scheming, and see where it takes me.

Gratitude project and I’m quitting everything…

Okay, for starters, that ‘quitting everything’ bit sounds much more dramatic and negative than it’s meant to. In fact, it’s meant to be about LIBERATION!

Before I continue with this post, I would like to acknowledge the fact that me writing a blog just means that there is documented proof on the interweb that I have a completely fickle personality and am constantly fluctuating wildly between being excited and happy, and then all moody and blah blah blah. I am a one-person roller coaster ride. What can I say?

Anyway, to be a bit cynical about myself, I’m sure this latest bout of inspiration will only last for a short amount of time before I revert to my usual demented over-thinking and all that sort of thing. But I’m going for it anyway. You never know; it could stick!

But basically, I’ve decided to just CHILL OUT because, man, I’m really tired of all my mental clutter. So, in the last week or so, I’ve been taking the time to do the things that have always helped me feel more sane and free and real. That has meant sitting on the balcony watching birds and sunsets and clouds. And listening to music. And enjoying silences. And walking slowly and enjoying the scenery. Smelling flowers, breathing deeply, listening to leaves rustling, feeling cool breezes on hot days, going to sleep when I’m tired and getting out of bed when I wake up. Simple stuff. It’s no big deal. It’s just life. It’s nice to take a deep breath for a change and just let go of all the rest.

So, I’m grateful for a few days of mental freedom and clarity. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!