The power of now

Yesterday I went to see a psychic/ healer/ quack- depending on your take on the whole thing. So as to not offend anyone, I won’t say what Andrew referred to him as.
I am a fairly cynical person but this whole concept of somebody analysing me fascinates me. As a teenager, I used to do a thing with my friends where we tried to sum people up in three words. And so it was with great excitement I hit the road, wondering what handsome strangers and crossing water I was going to hear about.
Well, the good news is I will apparently cross water twice this year (I reckon that’s heading to Bofin but I’m quite happy with that!). The not so good news is that I got given out to for the majority of the time I was there.
Apparently I am a ‘control freak’ and am ‘a crazy, box- ticking bitch’. That I am such a pessimist that it’s surprising I haven’t managed to die yet from the sheer volume of negativity that I have drawn onto myself. That Andrew has learnt to have selective hearing because otherwise he’d have cracked up long ago.
Well after I got off my high horse and stopped arguing back to him (note to self; probably not the wisest thing to do with someone who has some sort of mystical powers!!), he probably had a bit of a point. Not about Andrew obviously- he knows just how lucky he is! But the rest of it didn’t sit well with me because I knew there was an element of truth in it. And maybe it took a quack in a log cabin to make me see it.
I make lists as soon as I get up in the morning, working out what I have to do and when. I am constantly planning and need to know everything before I’ll agree to something. Case in point being my hen party which I organised myself, not because I didn’t have fantastic bridesmaids to do it but because I was happier sorting it myself. My teeth are ground to bits at night and I am out a bloody fortune on neck and shoulders massages because they are one solid mass of tension. It’s probably not the healthiest and definitely not the happiest way to live. Especially when I’ve nothing to be stressed about- heaven knows what I’d do if I really had problems!
So instead of writing him off as an obnoxious git from Meath who told me I was so neurotic that I had to be ‘a first cousin of a Cavan woman’, I am going to take his message and try to chill out more. I will try to ‘live in the now’ (it is so difficult to not sound like a pure dose saying that!) and enjoy the blessings of every day. God knows it can only help my teeth and shoulders, not to mention the mental health of my nearest and dearest!
So, who’s up for a crazy night out??? Obviously though it will have to be next month as I have a very busy schedule over the next few weeks and I will need a time and motion study before I can consider any suggestion!!!!

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Juggle, juggle, smash!

We’re both completely shattered, there is a week’s trail of shoes, scarfs, coats etc strewn throughout the house and there’s damn all food in the fridge… Yip it is Friday!!!
I am the first to admit that I’m not exactly a mover or a shaker within my career but by the bags under my eyes and addiction to work emails you would be forgiven for thinking I’m much higher on the pecking scale than I actually am. And at times I wonder why I bother!
Ever since we got married, the question most posed to us has changed from, “Are you all set for the big day?” to “So, any sign of children yet?” The last two weeks I have been a bit under the weather with the flu that is doing the rounds and yet I could hear the underlying question in my mother’s voice when I told her I wasn’t feeling well. Sorry to disappoint Mum but the 25 grandchildren you already have will have to do you for now.
And that has got me thinking- always a dangerous prospect! I have always been fairly driven- I suppose you’d have to be in our house in order to get anyone to notice you. I am always trying to push on up in my career (we are told to think of it as a career, not just a job these days, you know!), even though I’m not quite sure where exactly I want to go. Yet, every now and then, usually cued by a procreation question, I wonder what happens next. If we are blessed enough to have children some day, can I still keep pushing up? Do I want the infinitesimal juggling that comes with combining careers and family?
When I think of my own childhood, it genuinely takes on a Waltons-esque quality. Mummy walked me to the bus every morning and was there waiting to walk me home in the evening. That was our “us time” as I suppose it would be called now. We had no such terminology back in the day!! But those twenty minutes in the day were the chance for us to catch up and talk properly away from the chaos of Aughafad. And in a way I want to be able to have that time with my children if I am lucky enough to have them. I want to see them off to school and hear about the playground wars. I want them to have the security of knowing that their mummy is a constant presence for them. Yet, I don’t feel ready to sacrifice all that I’ve worked for- especially when I haven’t gotten there fully yet.
There are many sides to this debate and millions of women, and I have no doubt men also, struggle with it. For those who say you can have it all, I have to say I disagree. With just the two of us in this house, we struggle to make it to Friday so I’d hate to see the poor hand we’d make at it if our population increased by 50%!
So what do we do? Do we sacrifice our careers and ambitions? Or do we submit to missing out on some of those precious moments? There is no easy answer. I just know that my mummy was the best ever and I hope that some day it will be my turn and I will do her proud.

“But of course, they all have lovely bottoms!”

It’s that time of the year again. No, I don’t mean back to school or even almost my birthday (although it’s no harm to drop a casual reminder about that every now and again!). It’s time for the Rose of Tralee!
In recent years, the Rose of Tralee has came in for heavy criticism for being nothing more than a glorified beauty pageant, with even Fr Ted getting in on the act by declaring, “But of course, they all have lovely bottoms!” Debate all you will, the stats don’t lie and last year 47% of our population watched it, making the Rose of Tralee number 15 in the highest rating programmes in Ireland last year.
I, for one, watched it. That’s right, I am a card- carrying fan of the Rose of Tralee and a tiny part of me died on my 28th birthday when I had to concede defeat and admit that I was never going to be in the Dome in Tralee. For me, it’s all about the good old family tradition. Our family are big into traditions; from the allocation of chairs for Santa to leave your toys on, to having tea at four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, irrespective of the fact that you could be mid-mouthful of dinner. Thus, the Rose of Tralee was treated like an institution in our house when we were growing up and with it came certain expectations and duties. Back in the days before you could rewind live TV, you knew that speaking when a Rose was talking meant that you’d be the one sent out to make the tea during the break for the news. Dresses were critically appraised and analysed during the first minute or so to establish if the skirt was one of those detachable yokes so that she could do a dance. My Uncle Mickey came over for one of the nights and then we went to his house for the other night, despite the fact that, as a confirmed bachelor, he hadn’t a bit interest in the lovely ladies. It was a finely tuned operation and nothing was left to chance.
Despite my best efforts to remain Peter Pan-esque, I have had to grow up and over the years our carefully honed Rose regime has faltered. Uncle Mickey sadly passed away, slowly the Cullinan girls moved out of Aughafad (some more slowly than others) and the demise of the detachable skirts set in. Being fairly prone to nostalgia anyway, the ritual of sitting down to watch the Rose of Tralee brings me back to those good old days when my biggest fear was that I still hadn’t grown enough to reach the top cupboard in Mickey’s kitchen where he kept the sweets.
You can say what you want about cultural relevance and patriarchal manipulation of lovely girls but evidence suggests that the Rose of Tralee was the pioneer of all the reality shows that we are currently awash with on our TV screens. Look at it objectively; if you have a good sob story (listen up X Factor), have some sort of a party piece (Britain’s Got Talent), can survive in a range of situations and environments over the week (I’m a Celebrity & Big Brother) and look good (see all reality shows), you just might clinch the crown. So for those begrudgers out there who dismiss the Rose of Tralee as out-dated and patronising, you may need to think carefully before you tune into your next reality show.
As for me? I’ll continue watching, albeit supplying my own sweets now and phoning my mummy at the ad breaks to dissect each lovely girl.
“Ah I thought she came across as too cocky. You can be forward and confident but she was just a bit full of herself…”

What’s in a name?

Just how important is a name? How much do you value your name?
In the aftermath of the wedding, I have been struck with the importance of my maiden name and how much it means to me. In the buzz and excitement prior to the wedding, I felt the odd niggle of unease when people referred to me using my married name but dismissed these in favour of actually organising the aforementioned big day. Now, with vows exchanged and the cake eaten, I am faced with the ultimate identity crisis: what IS my name??
In the world of celebrities, names are brands; they are marketed to within an inch of their life. Poor (??!!) Cheryl Tweedy / Cole/ Fernandez- Versini is currently in the middle a complex rebranding process played out in the public arena. Her decision to retain the name Cole after her split from husband Ashley Cole had nothing to do with emotional ties to the name and everything to do with the fact that her public persona was known as Cole. Attempting now to rebrand herself as Cheryl Fernandez- Versini, a name which nobody can either pronounce or spell (well, not without the assistance of glossy magazines beside you at least!), is proving tricky. How much easier would it have been had Cheryl chosen to keep Tweedy as her surname all those years ago…
Meanwhile, back in my world which is just about as far away from Cheryl’s as you can imagine, I can only feel grateful that I don’t need to worry about my public persona. However, on a personal level, I feel very strongly that I am not ready to leave the life of Ailis Cullinan behind and exist as an entirely new person as Ailis Keown. As Ailis Cullinan, I did many things that I am proud of, and probably almost as many that I would happily leave behind!! But overall I am proud of what I have achieved to date; both in my career and in my personal life. It was Ailis Cullinan who passed her driving test (albeit the second time round), Ailis Cullinan who pranced around Eskra stage in her nightie in the name of drama and Ailis Cullinan who fell in love with Andrew Keown. I am proud of both myself and my family, of the name that we have worked hard over the years to build up. There’s no way I want to leave that behind.
And so I think the only way forward is to join the old with the new, keep the old me whilst still looking forward to all the adventures in store as a Keown girl. To that end, I have become double- barrelled; something that in my ignorance I used to mock as pretentious and unnecessary. I have now realised that sometimes it is wholly necessary.

And so it begins…

Well the time has come, I have finally realised that I need to put virtual pen to paper and so the blog begins.
It’s a daunting process, almost exclusively because I have a Masters in procrastination and believe with every fibre of my being that it is perfectly fine to dream big without ever doing a hand’s turn about it! But those who are wiser than me (who? how?) advise that the dream, i.e., writing a real, proper, grown up book, requires something slightly more substantial than random wonderings and lofty assertions about actual published pieces.
To this end, I have decided to take a somewhat ‘softly, softly’ approach, opting to chronicle my ramblings online in the vain hope that this regular writing will break me in gently to some sort of writing routine. Because I largely lack imagination and am too lazy to research the heavy real world issues, most of my blogs will be based around yours truly and the musing of my very ordinary world.
So there it is, a start at least to get the ball rolling and only time will tell how things progress, or don’t as the case may be…