Great Expectations

Dec 07, 2023

Rolling hills, jagged cliffs, wild waters and an emotional rollercoaster — this is how I would sum up a recent adventure (and life)

I laugh when I recount how I recently did a ‘big girl’ thing. I planned a trip, booked flights, hotels, and mapped out events, ferries and an itinerary for a road trip to coastal Ireland with my daughter True in celebration of her 18th birthday. A first for both of us. Alone and in a tiny car for over 1000 miles.

While this may not sound like a big deal to most, it actually was a huge deal for me personally. For most of my life, my wings have been clipped. In fact, truth be told, I didn’t feel like I had wings. I didn’t travel and was stuck in a very controlling relationship where I locked my spirit away.

I pretended it was enough, that it didn’t matter, or that I wasn’t envious of the stories people would recount to me of travels across the globe...but that wasn’t the truth. I was desirous of it all — I craved the taste of adventure.

When that all finally changed and I allowed my travel bug to emerge, I initially relied upon others to help me navigate it all — to make the arrangements, tell me where to show up and schedule the events. I was simply happy to be along for the ride.

But not this time.

I think deep down this was bigger than me. It was also what I wanted to model for my daughter. I wanted to give her the world and for no one to ever clip her wings. Actually, I wanted her to give herself the world.

All of those beautiful sentiments aside, what I didn’t plan for was an eclipse and a full moon, with two Scorpios in a tiny vehicle for hours upon hours nervously trying to figure it all out — a blessing and a multitude of raw reveals.

A little background: True is my person, the one person I would live and die for without a second thought — someone who has taught me more in life than anyone else, the one person that inspires me daily, and the one I pray for the most.

Believe it or not, we are quiet folk. Maybe it’s because my job is so social that I am quieter at home — or maybe because I had speech delays as a child and social insecurities as an adult — I’ve always found comfort in stillness.

True has always been a remarkable child (and not just because she’s my kid), seemingly wise beyond her young years...aware of her surroundings, observant. She was never the child who babbled and talked a lot. She wasn’t excitable or rambunctious and still isn’t. But when she has something to say, watch out [wink]. It is clear, direct, straight to the point and not couched in a lot of BS. It’s quite remarkable to me.

Back to the trip...

Planning this trip was a dream come ‘true’ (pun intended) — and of course, unconsciously laden with great expectations. I wanted it all to be know, like the Tik Toks on social media portray.

Plans were made, everything fell into place, anticipation bloomed. Off we went.

I had so many visions about traveling to Ireland. I expected connection with the land, to receive messages and feel that magic of the fairies. I guess it’s fair to say that these aren’t items to be ordered a la carte, despite my desires.

Needless to say, despite the gorgeous and lush terrain with epic views, the charming cobblestone streets and local people, the inviting pubs overflowing with Guinness and celebration — stick two people in a car for a long trip and a lot unfolds...more than I can even convey. It was a mixed bag of belly laughs, floods of tears, moments of awkward silence and even a bit of screaming.

I guess it was what needed to be, itinerary aside.

There were instances that I felt trapped with nowhere to go; I was stuck in my head and literally in another country on Godforsaken, endlessly windy roads driving on the wrong side. I was forced to deal with a few things that I thought I had previously dealt with...but apparently not as messy emotions tumbled out all around us to tell me so. One thing’s for sure, there was no more shoving them back in the closet.

Perhaps it was all divine timing after all — and we were ready to see it, deal with it...heal it...together. And that was beautiful in its own backhanded way.

All l wanted was for this to be perfect, as pretty as the pictures I was posting and sending back home to friends. But instead, all my past insecurities were whispering in my ear, “You could have made this trip better, smoother, more fun. True isn’t having a good time.” I guess as they say, you bring yourself (all of you) wherever you go. I felt hypersensitive to sounds, smells, my own mind...and began to slip into ‘lack of worth’ mindset. Who invited you on vacation?

Three days into the trip, having spent too much time in my own head and following an hour of angry silence after a petty argument, we were waiting for the ferry to cross the Shannon River when True called me out (as True does). And the dam broke. I started to cry very ugly, messy tears and just let it rip — sharing my insecurities and how I felt trapped and wanted to run away from myself and hide. This purge led to her tears and sharing how difficult it was for her when I ‘run away’ from myself, which equals running away from her.

Aaaah, the gift of breakthroughs — hard, honest healing was underfoot and staring us both in the face as the rushing waters flowed beneath us.

As we drove onto the ferry we were nurturing and loving each other’s wounds (literally and figuratively). I took the opportunity to use the Shannon River crossing for a ceremony (you likely know by now just how much I love water). I used it to release and leave behind all that was still holding me back — and to be fully present, grateful and honest. I let it all out and declared what needed to be left behind. I asked for help and cleansing.

Oh, the power of declaration — out of my body the words floated in the moist, cold air and were carried away. As we drove off that ferry the river kept my pain for me. I didn’t look back. I was done. Instead, I felt lighter, renewed, and hopeful and it suddenly allowed me to connect the dots and see that THIS was the very purpose of this trip.

That was the magic, the blessings, the gift for True and I. Ireland didn’t fail to impress or disappoint, the packaging just looked different than I thought it would. And since my return home, much to my surprise, the Emerald Isle has been with me more than when I was there. She has visited me every night in my dreams. Signs, messages, breathtaking beauty and imprinted memories.

I share this deeply personal story of great expectations to say that we live in a wondrous world if we care to hold onto that hope and courageously allow ourselves to look at it in a new way. It is OK to plant a seed of intention, to hold a desire and vision, but we must always leave room for these expectations to far exceed our limited desires — to trust and breathe it all in. 

Especially during these hectic times of holiday overwhelm and world chaos and divide — please allow yourself to simply go with the flow, be in flow, let it flow...whatever that may be, whatever is calling to you to be seen and healed. Most of all be kind to yourself as you navigate it all so that you can flow in this glorious world we have the privilege of calling home. And don’t be afraid to dive deep, dear ones.

“Only be like water.“

~ Bruce Lee

And the happiest of holidays my dear friends. May your presence be the present. See you in 2024!

—Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock


P.S. I would be remiss if I didn’t share the gorgeous mystery that continued to unfold upon my return, even a month later. 

Behold the stunning café holiday windows (which were awarded 1st place again this year) created by the incomparable beauty-maker, Myoshin Thurman. I could fill 10 newsletters with adjectives singing her praises — each creation designed and crafted with great love, intention, spirit and sparkle (not to mention 100’s of hours of labor).

Upon return from Ireland, I shared much of this personal journey with my friend Myo, who was already well on her way designing this year’s masterpiece with a focus on water. Should I have been surprised? Of course not. There are no accidents or coincidences — we are currents in the same stream. This is the mystery of the Universe, God and those who are connected.

As Myo states, water is transformation. It is the only substance that can take 3 forms; liquid, solid and gas. It can flow over boulders, around cracks, underground. Water is powerful, gentle, forceful, energizing, soothing, persistent, elegant, life-giving and full of mystery. It reminds us to be graceful in turmoil, to be fluid and easy while remaining fiercely loyal, true, unafraid of change, determined — to never stop moving.


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