A Message from the Birthday Queen
I recently told Peter that I loved my birthday so much, I was tempted to take over the world Pinky and the Brain style. Once the power was mine (all mine!), I'd declare my birthday a worldwide holiday. Everywhere, on the 27th of July, people would organise parades, participate in agricultural activities, fish, hike, and search out Big Swinging Boats. But then I realised the fatal flaw in my plan - if my birthday was a holiday and the entire world was doing my favourite activities, I would have to put up with large crowds. So, the world is safe ... for now.
The birthday preparations are in place and I'm ready to kick some birthday ass during my rule as the Birthday Queen. We're in Tramore for a long weekend. I've got several Birthday Outings planned: a pony trek in the Ballyscanlan hills, a hike in the Fenor bog, a visit to a pet farm, pizza for dinner and a visit to the beachfront amusement park (which appears to have something that nearly approximates the thrill of the Big Swinging Boat). Yes, all that in one day. You only get a single day a year to preside as Birthday Monarch, so you have to take advantage of it.
Looking back over the past year, I think I've done pretty well in my efforts to master the Irish zen way of life. I've also changed my entire life - moving from busy Dublin to the sleepy but lovely Middle of Nowhere, West Cork. I've written a load of pages, some of which might eventually become a book. I joined a new camogie team and managed to score my first goal. It's been a busy year and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.
I've always been a goal-oriented person and I think I can trace the few regrets I have in life back to that characteristic. The problem with being goal-oriented is that you tend to lose sight of everything else in the pursuit of the goal. That can be dangerous, especially if you've been misguided in your goal selection process. It can also lead todisappointment if achieving the goals turns out not to be what you expected.
In addition to my goal-oriented madness, I'm also a planner. Again, not always a bad thing (if you fail to plan, you plan to fail), but obsessive planning tends to act as a giant spontenaity vaccuum, sucking up your ability to seize unexpected opportunities. It robs you of your flexibility and adaptiveness, plunging you into chaos if your plans are forced to change.
This year, I think I've learned to rein in those two traits. I've come to realise that the journey is as important as the destination. When we first moved to Ireland, I found long-distance car journeys difficult. I'd plan the route using AA Road Watch (Note to U.S. readers - please mentally throw an extra 'A' into that name so you get the right idea and don't go off thinking I'm an alcoholic). With my directions in hand, I'd grab a map and away we'd go. Within 10 miles, we'd be off my carefully plotted route, usually on some tiny squiggle of a boreen that never managed to catch the attention of the Ordinance Survey guys.
The only way to drive in Ireland is to point yourself in the general direction of your destination, follow signs if and when you find them, and eventually you'll arrive where you want to be. No sense wasting time looking for nonexistent road markers when there's scenery to enjoy.
Developing a certain flexibility and willingness to roll with the punches has made me a happier, less stressed out person. Learning to savour the journey instead of fretting about arriving at the destination has improved my outlook and left me able to spot opportunities. When I look at our front window and see the landlord's cattle grazing on a knoll across the road, I can't help but feel a sense of wonder. I never planned to end up here, but I can't think of any place I'd rather live. I'm only here because of an unexpected change in my plans.
Instead of worrying about what I'm not achieving and focusing on what I haven't done, I'd much rather revel in what I'm doing now. Hanging out in the Middle of Nowhere, West Cork with a fantastic husband and a crazy dog, going to a job I love even if I sometimes dislike the work, and developing my skills as a writer. I've lost a great deal of bitterness that all those piles of rejection had fostered in me. Now I see how my work was flawed and what I need to do to fix it. I've also realised that like a meat-packing plant, a writer's mind is designed to use everything but the oink. Every experience and observation provides fodder for future characters, stories or even just for blog posts. It's all valuable. The only way to write about life is to live an interesting one and that, by necessity, requires spontenaity and a sense of adventure.
So, that's my only real goal for Ann Year 35. Okay, I minimize a little bit - of course there are small goals I want to achieve (like doing NaNoWriMo, finishing my chick lit book, scoring more goals in camogie, and finally losing this damn extra stone of weight I've put on since we moved here). But mostly, I just want to go out and collect stories, have adventures, and gain experience.