Closing the Chapter on Life in America

It’s been 6 weeks since I posted about our family’s decision to give up the American Dream and move to Ireland from Norman, Oklahoma. This move is something my husband and I have discussed and dreamed about for many years. For many years, our conversations included phrases like, “Someday….we will do this for our boys,” or “As soon as _____ happens, then it will make more sense.” It has been so liberating to transition our dreams into reality and to share our excitement about this next adventure!

My plan was to blog about my weekly progress as we sorted through our belongings, carefully deciding what to pack, what to sell and what to give away. I imagined waking up each morning to run and journal about my emotions as we said goodbye to so many dear friends. I wanted to take video of all my favorite running routes so I could look at them whenever I miss Norman. I planned to take my kids to all their favorite places in Norman to take pictures and create videos that might bring them comfort when they needed it.

Yeah. None of that happened.

Instead, I entered into 3 weeks of moving melee in Norman, followed by 3 weeks of visiting my family in Illinois where I did my best to visit with the people I love before crossing the Atlantic. It was all much more physically draining and emotionally exhausting than I ever imagined possible.

The last few days spent with my family were so bittersweet. Leaving my parents, siblings, nieces and nephew was absolutely gut wrenching. The capacity of the human heart to feel such opposing emotions with such deep intensity continues to astound me. My excitement and anticipation of making the dream of living in Ireland a reality is tempered by profound sadness and guilt of leaving friends and family I love so much.

I arrived in Dublin at 5am Sunday morning with my boys. While we have made this same trip many times over the years for extended visits, this flight was different. Time passed quickly as my mind finally had time to reflect on all the events of the last several weeks. I thought about the questions people asked me about this process, the defiance they expressed when they thought about selling all of their own possessions, the confusion about why we would do such a thing in the first place.

So here's a list of Frequently Asked Questions for those who may be wondering about the details of this life changing decision.

Why Ireland?

It is my husband’s home country where his parents and sister still live. Living here not only gives us tremendous access to mainland Europe, but we get to be near family for the first time in 8 years.

Where will you live?

For the first several months, we will be renting a fully furnished home in Co. Wicklow and will commute to Dublin several times a week for school and work. Luckily, my husband’s parents live in South County Dublin and will let us stay with them from time to time when our schedules call for early mornings in the City Centre. We have no plans to buy a permanent home as we want to give ourselves flexibility to explore as much as possible.

Do you have jobs?

My husband has a job in Dublin and I am going back to school in the fall to become a personal trainer. I might be able to substitute teach from time to time in the classroom.

What did you do with all your stuff?

We either sold it, donated it or threw it away! We each had 2 suitcases and condensed the rest of our family belongings into 67 cubic feet that is being shipped via boat. 

HOW DID YOU DO THAT??

This is the question I get asked most. From the outside, it probably seems strange and overwhelming that we could part with so many material possessions. It seemed impossible to me just 6 months ago! But we started small, one drawer...one cabinet...one closet...one room at a time. While tedious at times, it really did not take too long to do this.

To be honest, I had the hardest time with this process than anyone else in my family! I would go through a drawer or closet once, then have to come back to it two or three more times to get rid of things in waves. I can’t believe how many “backup” items I had! From makeup and lotions to clothes and shoes...I had a lot of stuff! As I came across things I thought might be useful to others, I posted them to Facebook and Craig’s List. It was such an easy process. We sold nearly all our belongings online, even our cars! Once the boys saw that we were able to sell items, they jumped on that bandwagon very quickly and had no problem getting rid of their toys.

Parting with our possessions was a very surreal experience, not unlike a marathon in many ways. There were times I felt so overwhelmed by the list of details that had to be done, that I literally did not know where to start! After a short pity party for myself and some deep breaths, I just chipped away at the list, one step at a time, always moving forward. It was not an easy process but it certainly made me reflect a great deal on the amount of mental energy that the “stuff” in our life can eat up!

Instead of viewing the selling of our possessions as a loss, I thought of each item as a blessing. I reflected on the joy, convenience or comfort each item had brought to my life in the time I owned it and passed on those blessings with love to the new owners. Whether it was a rug, a couch or even our cars or our home, paying their usefulness forward felt deeply gratifying.  

How long will you live there?

We do not have a timeline, and that actually feels really good! Our plan is to live as presently as possible as a family and enjoy all the experiences we can together. You just don’t know what opportunity may be around the corner.

Will you keep running? 

Absolutely! I'm already registered for the Dublin Marathon and will be running several smaller distance races leading up to the marathon in October. I plan to keep blogging and hope to immerse myself in the Irish Running Community as much as possible.