Friday, July 27, 2007

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.

11 Comments:

At 27 July 2007 at 13:31, Blogger Fence said...

Happy Birthday Ann.

I think it'd be kinda interesting to read an Alcoholics Anonymous version of the road map. Especially if they were suffering a relapse at the time of writing :)

 
At 27 July 2007 at 14:09, Blogger laurie said...

happy birthday, ann!

here are your birthday gifts from me:

1) a compliment. i love your blog, and i'm always happy to see in bloglines that you have updated it. it's the first blog i started reading on a regular basis, and it remains one of my favorites.

2) a wish for you. that your magical life in the middle of nowhere just gets better and better. (and that you continue to tell us about it!) (oh wait--that second sentence was a wish for me.)

3) an award. someone nominated me for the "thoughtful blogger" award, and i am passing it on to you. you must go here to pick it up.

 
At 28 July 2007 at 19:54, Blogger Col said...

I know exactly which ride you are talking about at Cedar Point. I haven't been there in over 15 years, but it is the one ride at that park that never fails to induce in me a head-spinning, gut-churning nausea that takes several hours to shake.

So anyway, I hope you found something similar in Ireland.

I'm also very glad that you have found your peace in the Cork countryside. Here's to another year, another adventure, another bend in the road!

--Colleen

 
At 28 July 2007 at 23:23, Blogger Cait O'Connor said...

Yours is a lovely blog that I have just discovered via a visit to me fom Laurie, if you get me (you can tell I have the Irish!). I see you live in West Cork, my favourite part of Ireland, my roots are there and in Kerry.

 
At 29 July 2007 at 00:22, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to my favorite niece/sista. My card will be late but I have not forgotten you. You probably don't know that I love your writings and musings. I do. And when I have time to read and ponder I realize the gift that has been given to you and what a journey it is to develop such gifts. I cried when I read your thoughts on Tom. How beautiful to be able to share the deepest feeling there are...Keep writing, keep sharing. I always knew the tiny girl that slept in her crib with books instead of stuffed animals and dolls was different, different in a wonderful way...... Love AL

 
At 29 July 2007 at 11:44, Blogger -Ann said...

Fence - Thanks. Yeah, I'd like to see that map too. I imagine it would list all the pubs, off license, garda stations, and potential checkpoints.

Laurie - Thank you so much, on all three gifts. Glad you enjoy the blog so much.

Col - Really? It makes you sick? It's my absolute favourite - I could ride it all day. (I think my record is 4 times in a row and I only stopped because I didn't want the operator to think I was weird.)

Cait - Welcome, fellow Rebel. Although, if your roots are from Cork and Kerry, to you find that you develop rivalries with yourself?

Aunt Lois - Thanks for commenting. I had no idea you read this but I'm glad you do.

 
At 29 July 2007 at 17:34, Anonymous Harlequin said...

Happy (slightly belated) birthday! I am also an obsessive planner and find it terribly difficult to be spontaneous. Maybe I should plan to be be more spontaneous - and do make sure I do it, I can put an alarm reminder on my to do list on my phone...

Oh dear.

 
At 30 July 2007 at 00:13, Blogger Dave P. said...

Happy birthday! Great post, too.

It's funny you mention AA -- our new house is just around the corner from Dr. Bob's house, the birthplace of AA.

dp (posting from Akron, surrounded by unpacked boxes)

 
At 30 July 2007 at 03:22, Anonymous Anonymous said...

belated happy birthday Ann,
missed you in Kerry, say hi to Pedro
- a\x

 
At 2 August 2007 at 04:50, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Happy Birthday.

But mostly, I just want to go out and collect stories, have adventures, and gain experience.

That is what I love most about life, the journey.

 
At 17 February 2010 at 22:08, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today is my lucky day :)
Apple is giving review copies of iPad to 100 lucky person. Go to http://bit.ly/d9QOON and apply for it.

 

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