... is a powerful act.
My first attempt was 1986 when I was 21. I had just failed out of college and had nothing on the horizon. I booked a 3-week solo backpacking trip to Ireland. My paternal grandfather, Michael Clancy, came to the U.S. at age 18 from Kilrush, Co. Clare in Ireland. Growing up, I was very influenced by the story of him leaving his family and his home. Off I went with no plan, other than wanting to meet Bono of U2. That's me on the right with a donkey and big hair in Co. Kerry, Ireland on that trip.
Although I managed to meet some great people (but not Bono, dang it), I came home early.
I felt like a complete failure, and I was ashamed.
Truthfully, I was overwhelmed and alone while I was in Ireland. Back then, I didn't like my own company. I did not like myself or my life. I felt totally uncomfortable in my body, and I had zero understanding about how the world worked.
This month, I turned 50. To celebrate, I planned a trip back to Ireland. I also tacked on a trip to Scotland, where my paternal great-grandfather was born and raised before he emigrated to the U.S.
Going back felt like a reclamation of a lost part of myself.
I know that I was not a failure back then. There was and is nothing to be ashamed of. I have such compassion for the big-haired girl back in 1986. She was really struggling. She was searching outside of herself for her place in the world. She wanted desperately to feel better and at ease.
Now at 50, I enjoy my own company. I'm at ease in my body and make it a good home for myself. I have a much better understanding of how the world works and my amazing and unique place in it. The second photo is a selfie on my 50th birthday, at the edge of the River Ness in the Highlands of Scotland.
When I look at 50-year-old me, I love what I see. The light in my eyes and the joy on my face. As I walked the earth of my ancestors this time, I felt deep healing take place. Into my bones. I gave thanks to my ancestors and felt deep compassion for them, too. Leaving the places they knew and their families could not have been easy. I thanked them for their courage and have made it my own.