Running Into Second Class

“Modern Family’s” ‘Lily’, running to her first day of school.

Last year she clung tightly as she walked into her first day of first class. This year she excitedly ran to the yard with her friend in tow, to catch up with class mates she hadn’t seen all summer.

There was such excitement and chatter in the yard as classmates complimented each other’s new uniforms; spoke about how many books they have and the realisation that that might mean more homework; and revelled about the fact that they were one of the  “Big Kids” now as they start their first year at the Senior School.

A couple of times she looked out for her Dad and I. No words were spoken but those looks were telling us she was fine, happy that we were there, but we also needed to give her space. Her eyes were filled with excitement, anticipation and joy.

When her teacher arrived, she stepped into line with her classmates, gave us a final nod and off she went to start her first day as a second classer, as her dad and I stood back and watched with pride.

Always  know, dear girl, that (your dad and) I will always let you run free but will also be there in the background should you need a reassuring glance, a squeeze of your hand, a big hug, a pep talk, or to just stand with you in silence while you figure out what your next move is. This is your journey and we are excited to see you turn into the person you want to be as, in your words, you “shine your own way”.

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Life According to ‘El Pueblo’

I’ve spent the last eight days in a Spanish Pueblo.

The residents are mainly retired. There are a few (very few) young adults, working adults and young families (all moving to the town because of affordable housing) – but the majority are retired pensioners. Watching them live, really live (and love) their life has been an eye opener.

Most of the town’s residents worked hard their whole lives and are only now getting to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

One resident said to me, “When I moved to “El Pueblo”, I said I would never live my ruled by a watch again! For forty years, my clock/watch would wake me at an ungodly hour. It would then stress me out – I was constantly keeping an eye on it to make sure I got to the train station on time; checking it again to ensure that I didn’t miss my connecting bus; and then hoping the next time I looked at it, it would tell me that I wouldn’t be late for work. I’d then do that all again at the other end of the day to make sure I got home at a decent enough hour to have some me time, before having to do it all over again the next day. Watches caused me so much stress. The day I got to the pueblo, I took my watch off and I refused to let time rule me like that again. I was going to do things in my own time and for the last ten years I have!”

Living in “El Pueblo” isn’t only about not adhering to time (because there still is a little time keeping). It is about living life and connecting with what’s important in it – other human beings.

I am a stranger in this town but am never made to feel like one. My family and I are embraced by the locals because we are important to one of their own.

We are stopped for chats as we walk the streets – many of the locals trying to learn a few words of English so they can communicate with my husband and kids (mainly to tell them to learn Spanish). When words fail them, they turn to a game of charades to communicate – all so my family can feel welcomed and included; my kids are spoilt with play and affection; my Spanish mum was given three jars of Kalamata olives because one of the locals heard my mum is Greek and thought I might like a reminder of home; a neighbour knocked on the door with some gluten free bread because she heard I was running low and might not be able to make it to the neighbouring town to buy some more (because one of “El Pueblo’s” biggest tragedies is to be without bread).

“El Pueblo” is a place where no-one in the community is made to feel less worthy because
of their age. Everyone is included in everything. Age is not an exclusion. Children are embraced and enjoyed – yet scolded and pulled into line (by any adult in the pueblo) when needed. Adults look out for each other. And the elderly are cherished, revered, and very much included. Fiestas start at 10pm and people of all ages are expected to be there enjoying the festivities and each other’s company.

Food and drink are a delight – they are not the enemy! Food is fresh, many times straight out of a neighbour’s garden, and it’s marvelled over. It is a source of happiness for their stomachs and souls. Sharing food with friends and family is a time where many great, fun and sometimes not so life shattering conversations happen.

The people of “El Pueblo” are not embarrassed to take times for themselves. The siesta is still seen as an important part of the day. There’s no shame in having to recharge the batteries and getting some you time.

I love walking through the streets of “El Pueblo”. People take the time to acknowledge your presence and you, theirs. A mere three minute walk to the local bread shop can take forty five minutes as you stop for chats with many of the locals you encounter.

Everyone knows everyone’s business. While sometimes this can be overwhelming, it ensures that no-one is ever alone. No-one is stuck. No-one is afraid to call on neighbours/family/friends for help. Even if you are one of the shier ones, afraid to call out for help, someone is there before you get a chance to pick up a phone or knock on a door.

There are drop ins for chats; drop ins to say I heard you were looking for this; drop ins to find out how doctor appointments have gone; how the family is or just to catch up on the goings on of “El Pueblo”.

The people of “El Pueblo” are connected to one another. Many people (myself included for a while there) would say that they couldn’t think of anything worse than people constantly interrupting you. But it’s not an interruption. It is genuine human connections. Human love and concern. Love being shown in many different forms and depths – and that is never a bad thing.

The people of “El Pueblo” are happy and content. That’s not to say that “El Pueblo” isn’t without it’s problems, politics and gossip – because there’s plenty of that. Or that it is not without heartache, sadness and disappointment. What gets them through all of this is that even though sometimes they may be alone, they’re really not because they’re part of a community who have their back.

To paraphrase “Coccoon”:
Ben: “We’ll keep an eye on each other. You watch him. (Pointing to Joe)
Ben: “You watch him. (Pointing to Art)
Ben: “You watch me”
Art: “Perfect”

After being her for just over a week, I’m trying to figure out how we bring a piece of “El Pueblo” back to the our big towns and cities to ensure that we all start reconnecting and remembering that together we can make this world a better, loving, wonderful place to live in.

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“We Need A National Stadium. We Need To Create A Home For Hockey” – World Cup Finalists Deirdre Duke & Gillian Pinder

The Irish Women’s Hockey Team created history last week when they were the first ever Irish Field Team to make a world cup final.

Their achievement is amazing but even more incredible when you realise they got to the top with hardly any support. The ladies are juggling life/study/work with training commitments. Representing their country, while an honour, costs them money. This should not be the case.

Their silver medal has ensured that they will finally receive the support they deserve – to what extent is still uncertain but Minister Shane Ross has promised that there will be a significant increase in funding for the sport.

It was an honour to be able to chat to two of Ireland’s sporting heroes, Deirdre Duke and Gillian Pinder. Listen as they share what the reality of the past few years has been like, how they are dealing with the new found attention and what they really need to further this success.

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“I don’t look back. I look forward.” – Denzel Washington (‘The Equalizer 2’)

For the first time in his career, Denzel Washington is staring in a sequel as he returns as  Robert McCall in “The Equalizer 2”.

I got to sit down with Denzel to talk about what he loves about being Robert, how he feels at the end of an action scene, what he thinks about awards and why he never looks back – it’s all about what’s coming for you, not what’s behind you.

“The Equalizer 2” is in Irish cinemas on Friday 17 August.

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“I try to get better with each movie” – Antoine Fuqua (‘The Equaliser 2’)

Antoine Fuqua is directing his first ever sequel with “The Equaliser 2”.

I got to sit down and have a chat with Antoine about what he loves about getting to revisit a character, why he doesn’t like to use the term franchise; the amazing rhythm himself and Denzel Washington have; and how he feels about setting the next “Equalizer” in Ireland.

“The Equalizer 2” is in Irish cinemas on Friday 17th August.

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Paul Rudd: Super Hero vs Super Dad (“Ant Man and the Wasp”)

Paul Rudd is back as Scott/Ant Man in “Ant Man and the Wasp”.

During our chat there were a couple of accent mishaps but once we got past those, we were able to talk about about how he feels when he puts the Ant Man costume on; what he finds harder – being a super hero or a super dad; and what fans want to talk to him about the most.

“Ant Man and the Wasp” is in Irish cinemas today.

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“Be Loud. Be Bright. Be Bold and Unafraid” – Evangeline Lilly (Ant Man & The Wasp)

Incredulously, Evangeline Lilly’s character of “The Wasp” is the first female in Marvel’s 20 films, to be named in a marvel title – “Ant Man and the Wasp”.

We spoke about this, why Evangeline wanted to be a super villain; how she feels about getting her own super hero costume; and why she used to hide the real her but not anymore – now, her mantra is, “Be loud. Be bright. Be bold and unafraid!

“Ant Man and the Wasp” is in Irish cinemas on Friday 3rd August.

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