A New Perspective

  My grandfather passed away 2 years ago and it was a time of perspective and learning for me.  Each person understands death, and life, so differently.  We react and cope differently.  Some people reach out and want love and comfort, want to come together and a family and feel the closeness and reassurance of love.  Some people prefer to separate themselves from life, to look inside and evaluate emotions and memories for a while, and wait a while before reaching out to people.  It's often a time of spirituality in reflection - what does death mean and is there a God?  I've only had a couple experiences with people close to me passing away, and it's always been difficult.  I don't like the idea of funerals or cemeteries, I find myself feeling bitter, feeling the loss of this person in my life.  But I've wanted to learn a new perspective, the perspective of rejoicing in their life even after they are gone.


The most interesting thing to me when my grandfather passed away is how my mom and her siblings used to talk about taking walks through the cemetery when they were growing up. Grandpa would even take a picnic lunch and go with them on a Sunday, it was almost like a park.  My described something beautiful that I couldn't begin to understand. Death is painful, I've always wanted to tried places that represent death in my life.  But my last day in London, I saw a new perspective.



I love to get lost in a new city.  So many people just hop on the tube (the underground train system) when the destination would've been less than a 10 minute walk.  I had about an hour, so I opted to walk this time.  Turned out I walked in exactly the wrong direction, but I keep telling myself I enjoy being lost, it worked out :)


I stumbled across a beautiful stone archway that led into a picturesque park, flowers and trees and everything was so green.  There was an older couple walking arm in arm down a dirt path and I couldn't help but smile.  So I said "hey, I'm lost anyway.  May as well take my time and walk through the park".  Relax, breath, clear my head, and take a few pictures.  A few steps in and I saw a tour group , with the tour guide pointing to headstones and crosses and talking about something.  I got really confused.  If this was a cemetery, why would people other than family members of those buried here come visit? But dozens were just walking around, so I convinced myself to keep going. And it was beautiful. And heartwarming. Walking past the gravestones and the flowers placed by the cross, I felt peace.  I felt something about death that wasn't just uncomfortable.  And I'm grateful for that.  There was something so perfectly beautiful about the way in which these people's lives were honored with this atmosphere that was more like a park.  Seemed perfect to me.



I took a few photos for istock as well, you can purchase them here




And I walked away with a new perspective, a new appreciation, and greater understanding.  I hope to hold it in my heart forever so I can remember the beauty and the peace, the joy that can be found in celebrating someone's life even after they have passed.





London Bridge is Falling Down

  My mom's originally from England, so I always took a little bit of pride in being half-British.  I've been to England once before with my family (when I was about 9), we saw Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and all the ABC tours as I heard them called (apparently stands for the not-completely polite phrase "another bloody castle" but as an American, it was always funny and never seemed crude)...  I have a few distinct memories from the trip when I was 9.  Visiting my cousins, collecting a souvenir pin from each castle I went to, fish and chips, crepes, the awesome candy store... One day my cousin convinced me to go to school with her.  It was interesting, and I liked meeting her friends and getting attention as the American, but my older sisters and Dad used that day... wait for it... to go to Paris.  I wonder which I would have chosen if I were given all the information before making my choice ;)  Oh well, one day I'll make it to France also.  I also remember standing in front of a castle... I think the Tower of London, but I'm not sure... and this guy in the photo below asked me where I was from.  I told him and he said "TEXAS!  Your house must be bigger than this.  Everything's bigger in Texas!"  I'm sure I stood there awkwardly and giggled as a response.




It was interesting coming back as an adult though.  I'm much less of a tourist in that I want to see all the famous sites, but I did want to see people, culture, and have a chance for some good photography and food.  All in all, London didn't impress me nearly as much as Ireland.  But it was interesting and I'm glad to have taken the two days to stop there on my way to Spain.


The tunnel to the tube (subway, metro... everyone has a name for it!)  London's was a bit cleaner than New York's but not much!  I saw mice on several occasions and no matter how tired I was, I always stood when waiting for the train, I didn't want to sit on the dirty benches or floor... The colors and walls, however, were very cool.



From my perspective, life was much more fast paced and impersonal in London.  Even when compared to my experience in NYC, people in New York seemed interested in me and willing to chat, London people seemed very focused and annoyed if I got in the way.    Certainly when compared to Ireland.  Friendly people everywhere in Ireland, I only had 2 real conversations in England.  One of them I was pretty excited about, though.  There was a man staying at my hostel who worked as a butler.  Actually, he used to work as a butler, now he was interviewing for short-term positions where he trains the household hotel staff.  He made the joke  (note: numbers have been changed to protect their identity.  Ok, ok, I lied.  Numbers have been changed because my memory is terrible) that in England the glasses were supposed to be at 4 o'clock in relation to the plates, in Italy they were supposed to be at 3 o'clock, in America, you can put it wherever you want on the table.  That felt like a very British experience, though, talking to a Butler.  I wanted to say "that's so cool!  I call my GPS Jeeves" but realized that it would be a rather odd comment to make... just because it's the only connection in my life to British butlers doesn't mean he wanted to hear it!


Ok, more photos from my walk through the city:




Some of the little restaurants were very British...


...and others were not.  Doesn't matter where you go, it seems there is no escaping of the fast food!



We saw the show "We Will Rock You" that evening, the musical set to Queen's music. Now, I have studied music all my life, but I seem completely illiterate when it comes to knowing pop culture, artists, songs, and name of songs.  I've tried to educate myself over the last year or so, studying up on the artists that I like, learning the music and lyrics and learning to identify the song when it's playing.  I'm pretty successful with recognizing Beatles and Queen now.  So I was thrilled to hear about this show!  And next I need to go see Cirque du Soleil LOVE with the Beatles music in Vegas.  We Will Rock You was full of British pop culture jokes that went right over my head and it was all a little cheesy, but incredible talent and I thought it was cute.  Music by Queen warms my heart and makes me smile (speaking of cheesy... haha)  And the verdict is: I would definitely see this show again!




And some cool night shots.  I have no idea what this building below is, but they had flags strung up across the streets in celebration of the queen's 60th Anniversary as queen.  If I understood correctly, she is one of two queens who have ever reached the 60 year mark, so it's a pretty big deal! Between that and the olympics coming up, London was ready to have a party!



The Tower of London




And the famous London Bridge.  Not falling down.  But looking pretty amazing at night.  Some of the photos showed the towers lit up with that blue light, some of my photos didn't.  I didn't remember it changing as I took the photos, but I'm on a quest to find out what/why/how they light up the bridge there.  Anyone know?  (p.s. I secretly wanted to dive in and swim over to that ship, I have no idea why, but I had to fight that urge all evening, haha)