“some people grumble that roses have thorns; i am grateful that thorns have roses…”


this particular quote {by alphonse karr} resonates deep with me.  in a world that can be harsh and cruel, it is easier most days to focus on the bad instead of the good.  as a person who tries with every fiber of my being to see the light in a dark tunnel, i have much to be grateful for.

’tis the season.

the season for giving.  we americans kick it off with our tradition of thanksgiving…which for any of you history buffs out there who have educated yourselves past the kindergarten version we were brainwashed with…was a bit of a bloody mess when it was first established.  the bottom line of the holiday, massacres and turmoil aside, is to give thanks to those around you who you care about and share your life with.  as a member of a fabulously loud irish brood who overflows with love and adoration for each other, using every possible excuse we can to get the whole crew together for good food, strong drinks, a re-telling of the hundreds of stories we have created over the years, catch up on the time we have spent apart, revel in the success and accomplishments of our fellow O’Reilly, thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays.

i don’t know if i have the words to describe how much my family means to me.  they are literally the beat of my heart.  last year, i was very far away from them for my favourite holiday.  i was in a gloria jean’s coffee shop in hobart, tasmania on my purple samsung flip phone, using up VERY expensive international phone credits, talking to the familiar voices of my family back home in the states.  i had just departed from my soul sister and travel mate after our 3 week adventure in the tassie wild and was deeply homesick.  this year, although the reality of being back in america for just over 2 months hasn’t quite settled in fully, has been a constant struggle and felt a bit suffocating at times…i will be able to attend my family’s thanksgiving dinner and share time with the humans who make my heart beat.  some i have seen since returning…most i have not.  excited is an understatement.  since this is the season for giving…i’ve been thinking a lot about what i will be giving for the holidays.  last year, by being in a different geographical and emotional place, i escaped the overwhelmingly cliche consumerism that covers my homeland with the color green…for greed.  each year it seems to get a little more intense than the year before.  as a backpacker,  i gifted thoughtful postcards and spent money on international postage to send some adventure stories to the hearts i hold dear.  this year, i am physically here…but emotionally, i am torn between two homes.  because of this tearing, i have made a big decision of refusal to feed into the american consumerist culture that i fled over a year ago.  i am choosing to give gifts to the world as a whole…because it has given so much to me and the people i cherish in my life.

i am uncertain of how or why i have been fortunate enough in my life to meet the most incredible human souls.  people who live in their heart space, who stand up for who they are and what they believe in…lads and ladies who don’t take people, places or things for granted…who give back to causes they can relate to or appreciate, the kind of people who want more for themselves, for the world and for their people in it.  because of these people, i am forever changed.  throughout my 28 years, i have become more and more opinionated and action oriented as i experience new opportunities and grow in my worldly education.  after a year of traveling, seeing various sights and situations in australia, removing myself from the american “dream” constantly shoved down my throat, i have emerged with clarity and an endless amount of gratitude.

so to my amazing family, who has shaped me, showered me in support and love, been the daily smile in my heart, to the incredible souls i connected with throughout my time as a backpacker this past year…the hospitable people of australia who offered me shelter, transportation, helped me get jobs, offered me friendship that created a lifelong bond.  to my amazing world peace family that changed my life forever, kept a smile on my face even with time slipping away, to a beautiful soul who taught me what being appreciated and adored really feels like…to my irreplaceable friends from several of my life chapters who were there for me from the dreaming stage to the “holy shit, i booked my ticket” stage, to my current “re-entry sucks” stage…who stuck with me through several life journeys.

to ALL the people who have allowed me a place in their lives…thanks for giving.  thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the chance to smile at you, to learn your name and who you are, to hug you, to laugh with you, cry with you, have adventures with you…you have all shown me that in a world full of thorns…there will always be roses.


{a donation has been made in the O’Reilly family name to YouthCare, a seattle based NPO organization that has been working for 40 years to provide effective services to homeless youth.  i chose this organization because we are all very child oriented.  we are passionate about the youth of the world and giving each and every child a positive start in life to be safe, cared for and to follow their dreams. i wanted to give back to the youth of the city that has given our family a place to gather and call home…learn more and make your own donation here}

{a donation has been made in the name of La Familia de Peace to Bush Heritage Australia, an australian non-profit conservation organisation dedicated to protecting australia’s unique animals, plants and their habitats.  i chose this organization because la familia wandered kilometers of australian national park land and beaches, hidden places and magical forest land as we explored together.  we encountered wildlife and beautiful landscapes and i wanted to give back to australia since it gave so much to us on our journey together…learn more and make your own donation here}

{a donation has been made in the name of Around the World Friends to SeaShepherd, an international organization going strong since 1977, that works diligently for marine wildlife conservation.  this is an organization i became familiar with in my time in tasmania as i stayed with a family and worked on their bio-dynamic blueberry farm.  they took me to a sea shepherd event that showed the 2013 mission documentary film and i met one of the captains who helped stop the whaling in japan.  stead fast and strong in their missions year after year, sea shepherd is changing the world with every animal life they save.  learn more and make your own donation here.}

2 thoughts on “thanks-for-giving…

  1. What a beautiful message – I am so proud of the fabulous young woman you are and continue to be.
    And thank you for my share of your wonderful Christmas gifts – “exactly what I wanted”.
    Grandma Joan

  2. thank you for the kind words, grandma. you continue to be an inspiration to me in life and for this blog. i adore you! xx

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