Monday, March 17, 2014

The Irish Make Their Own Luck

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  What do you think of when you think of Saint Patty's Day?  Looking back, its meaning has really changed for me over the years.
Forty Shades of Christianity - Whitney Lemme 2006
The early years:  I had no idea March 17th had anything to do with Ireland.  It was just the day you put green food coloring in everything, and everyone pinches you if you forget to wear green.  When I tried pinching back, they'd tell me they were wearing green underwear.  Wanna see?  No thanks.

The teen years:  I had a lot of fun with it in middle school and high school.  I would wear every possible article of green clothing I had, plus a goofy, tall cat-in-the-hat green hat, those ridiculously large green clown sunglasses, and those cheap plastic green Mardi Gras necklaces.  I'd even plan ahead and ask my orthodontist to put green rubber-bands on my braces this time.  I had so much fun watching myself get ready at home, but then suffered a humiliating walk to school.  I would panic all the way there and wonder if I accidentally dressed up a day too early.  Once I got to school, though, my confidence would (mostly) return and I would silently knight myself: the school's most spirited student.  No one could out-green my green!  One small self-confidence victory at a time.

The college years:  What?  Saint Patrick's day?  Oh, yeah.  All my non-essential possessions are in another state, and I can't afford a green shirt, let alone lunch... but there's a grass stain on my shoes, so I'm covered.  And I'm 0.00004% Irish, so that should count.  Or maybe I could use that green underwear excuse from kindergarten...

Present day:  I celebrate St. Patrick's Day every day!  This is the story of how my green-blooded mom made it so special:

Meet My Mommy: Ever since she was little, my mom has dreamed of castles, dungeons, antique candle-lit scounces and suits of armor.  Her heart has always been drawn to (medieval) Ireland.  She's not just a dreamer, but also a go-getter, so she's made her dreams come true.  She has made multiple trips to the Emerald Isle, and her own home looks more and more like a castle every year.
Mom's Suit of Armor: Sir Eggleston
No one tells my mom she can't do something.  I mean, you can try... but if you tell her something is impossible, she will make it happen!  She is a conqueror!  It fills her with joy to step where no man has stepped before!  So, go ahead... tell her, "There's no trail up to the top of that arch; you can't climb on that one."  Try it and see what happens:
Mom and Dad on Top of Double "O" Arch - Arches National Park, UT
Yes, she found a way to the top!  This is a perfect example of her spirit.  If she dreams it, she can do it.  Telling her something is impossible just adds fuel to the fire.  She turns criticism into motivation; it's just another obstacle, and she'll scale it.

Of course I've always noticed this about my Mom.  However, on my 19th birthday she taught this spirit to me in a very unique way that has stayed with me ever since.  It is a memory I will carry with me and treasure for the rest of my life!

The Starburst Story: One August my mom took me on a one-way road-trip from our home in Oregon to my first semester of college in Provo, UT.  It was a 14-hour drive, so we brought some snacks.  As mom drove us across the desert, I ripped open a bag of Starbursts.  I started snacking and commented that I wish they would sell a bag that only had the pink and red kinds inside, because nobody likes the yellow and orange ones anyway.  It was just a passing comment, but my observant, loving mother was listening.
Mother-Daughter Road-Trip to BYU
We arrived in Provo and spent about a week together before classes started.  Mom drove home and I jumped into my new schedule.  My birthday arrived only a few weeks later and I found a package from Mom and Dad in the mail!  Among other things, I pulled out a bag of Starbursts.  I didn't even make the connection until I saw the little piece of paper she taped on the front: "Maybe this will be the lucky bag of only pink and red candies."  I chuckled and thought, "No way, that's totally impossible."  I ripped open the bag and my jaw dropped.  Nothing but pink and red Starbursts.  I dug around looking for even a single yellow or orange, but instead I found a small slip of paper.  It had my mom's handwriting on it!  It read: "The Irish make their own luck!"  I inspected the bag and found a small section of seam that had been carefully opened and re-melted back together.  Now I understood.  She surgically removed the candies from the bag and reinserted the pink and red candies from two bags.  WOW!  Now that's a personalized gift if I've ever seen one!

Over the next few days as I was processing what I had just seen, I started to see the beauty in what my mom had done.  I saw two different people facing the same obstacle.  I looked at it, complained, and walked away.  But she looked at it, took matters into her own hands, and ended up with the result she wanted.  Wow!  What an example!  I don't know if my mom realized it at the time, but she had just taught me a VERY valuable lesson that I would look to for the rest of my life!  The Irish make their own luck!  Why sit back and wait for "luck?"  Get off your rear and make things happen!

Have you ever read a history of Ireland?  They have to be one of the least lucky nations on this planet.  They have endured so much oppression and persecution.  So why do we talk about "the luck of the Irish" on Saint Patrick's day?  In my opinion it's because they're the ones who have learned to make it themselves.  They've never been dealt luck, but they make it.
Kylemore Abbey - Photo Credit: Mom
My mom is my hero.  Happy St. Patrick's Day, Mommy!  To me, St. Patrick's day will always be about you and the valuable life lesson you taught me.  The Irish make their own luck!
Mom at Humewood Castle in Ireland (Where she lodged 3 days & 2 nights)
 Photo Credit: Mom


  1. Wow! Thank you, sweetheart. I am speechless and my heart cannot contain the love you just sent my way. You are my treasure and my joy! I love you! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    1. I love you, Mommy! What goes around, comes around! Keep chasing those dreams!

  2. What an awesome mom you have! I also smiled when you talked about your walk to school in all your green clothes, afraid you had dressed up a day early. Ha!

    1. Haha! Natalie, I still did that at BYU. I would dress up for Halloween, and on my walk up to campus I wouldn't see anyone else dressed up and start to panic... haha! I need to work on my confidence... ;)