It was over 20 years ago. I had decided to take a trip with an old friend to the west of Ireland.
It was a typical late summer’s day. It was raining and windy, with bouts of sunshine trying to burst through.
We wanted to go over to the Aran Islands from Galway; this meant a short crossing on a ferry.
The sea was rough and we could hear and feel the wind and waves, the rain stopping and starting as we set out on the journey across the bay.
I have always loved boats, ever since my father took me fishing as a young child. My instinct is to stay out in the wind and breathe in the fresh air, feel the spray and rain on my face.
I left my friend and weaved my way to the stern of the ferry, I wanted to be outside.
Up ahead another woman was doing the same thing.
Her walk was lilting with the waves and what I learned later was difficult post-operative hips (and perhaps some whiskey too!).
She had sneaked out for the air and a cigarette!
I was immediately drawn to this wild looking woman with grey long hair, a very colorful jumper and a mischievous grin on her face.
I introduced myself and we began chatting. I immediately loved her!
Mo was a true free spirit. She had up and left her two ex-husbands and adult kids, her restaurant business and she had sold her house. She bought a camper van and was travelling around the world.
She went where she could find temporary cooking jobs and then as her spirit guided her, moved on to new places.
Within 15 minutes she invited me to come with her to Scotland and work as her galley slave on a boat. I immediately said yes!
That night, in a pub on the Island, accompanied by traditional Irish Music, stories and some great whiskey, we planned the next few months.
It was as wonderful as it sounds. Mo taught me how to make the best bread (fresh every day), how to chop lettuce to the tiniest strips and how to keep vegetable dressings crispy fresh when you garnish fish.
We had some of the funniest times; balancing on the underside of a harbor wall with a bucket and a stick as Mo yelled where the best mussels were so I could knock them off and we’d cook them for dinner!
We worked hard together and played even harder.
We told stories, sang, laughed and cried together.
We drank great Scotch!
Not long ago, I learned that Mo passed away in the village that had become her home and her community for the last few years of her life.
With all her joy and fun, she had an immense sadness in her. I am glad she found a home and peace throughout those last years.
She was a true inspiration for me; a free spirit with a deeply adventurous soul.
She taught me to follow your instinct and go where your heart leads you. She showed me that life is full of fun, joy and freedom, if you can only reach out and grab them!
I am blessed by her brief presence and lasting resonance in my life. Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected places and in unpredictable times.
Who has inspired you with tears of joy, laughter and adventure?
When have you listened to your instinct and jumped at a chance that will change your life?
Leave a comment and tell your story!