The State of My Nation: Real Life in the Dubs

December 7, 2011
{image from here, but I don’t know the source. help?}

This morning, when I got ready to hit “publish” on a sweet, beautiful post about holiday garlands, I just couldn’t do it. Don’t get me wrong, I love holiday garlands. I’m heading home this evening to finish mine, and you’ll even be seeing them here tomorrow.

But today I have to stop and acknowledge that yesterday real life seeped in, and no amount of garland was going to keep it out.

Like most countries, and more than most, Ireland is in a tough spot. The recession has taken hold and I’m not sure most people here in Ireland can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Yesterday and the day before, the finance ministers here laid out new austerity measures for the country. More of the same on top of last year and the year before. More increases in fees, cuts in social welfare, assistance for the disabled and the elderly, police stations closing and cuts to nursing jobs.

I sat on the train yesterday morning, reading the round up of new fees, gas price hikes, and assessed. We’re still okay. We don’t have kids or pensions, we don’t own a house, we’re still okay. All morning, I watched the Irish Times Twitter feed report more cuts, more fees. Still okay, still okay.

Around noon, I got a text from my husband. It read something like this:

You're not going to believe this. They cut secondary school
guidance counselors from 2012.

Ugh. Cue the panic. Michael was hired for his first job as a guidance counselor exactly two weeks ago. And I have decided to finish my contract with my current job in exactly 7 days.

In my head, I know we’re fine. He”ll keep his job until the end of the school year. I know he can look for work in private schools or colleges, and there’s a chance they won’t end up cutting high school guidance counselors at all; the backlash started immediately and fiercely yesterday. I know I’ll find work after leaving this job, I know we’ll be fine.

In my head, I know we’ll be fine. But all of the rest of me let the panic and the negativity and the fear seep in.

By the time I walked in the door, I’d let myself get totally wound up. So, naturally, I picked a big old fight with Michael for bringing-me-to-this-wacky-place-where-they-don’t-even-think-guidance-counselors-are-important-and-how-will-we-ever-buy-a-house!

There is a lot of fear floating around Ireland at the moment, and I let it get to me yesterday. I let it seep in and blind me to the fact that we are fine. We may not have everything figured out and nailed down, but we are still fine. We have food on the table, a roof over our heads, we live happily and have what we need. We are fine. We don’t know exactly what the future holds, but we will be just fine.

Sadly, a lot of people feel that panic all the time, here and around the world. I know some people are not fine and don’t have enough food or shelter. When I remind myself that I’m fine, I also have to remember that there are people who are not fine. And I hope the fear that’s gripping this country doesn’t keep most of us from helping the least of us.

So at the end of my day, a new vow (or a vow renewed) I hope you’ll share, to help those you can.


When I was in Maine a few weeks ago, I was explaining some current, fleeting problem, to a dear friend, and she said she was surprised because my life seemed so cheerful on my blog. She said it sweetly, but it stuck in my head. My blog is cheerful because I mostly am, but also because my cheerful blog, in turn, makes me cheerful. But on the days that are crummy and panicky and exhausting, maybe you’re feeling the same way and need to hear me say you’re not the only one!

Back tomorrow with garlands. Thanks for indulging my serious side!


  • Reply Andy December 7, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    I love generosity. Despite the state of the nation. Lets all be like this.

  • Reply Gerry December 8, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Ah, you’re thinking straight. Even in recession, we’re still blessed beyond many people’s dreams. Thanks for the reminder.

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