Sunday, November 20, 2011

To Facebook Or Not To Facebook???.....That Is The Question!

  My Facebook friends may have noticed that the word aspire features in my job description.   According to the dictionary to aspire to something is to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal.  The Fiona Cooney definition of this word ……..sit on your ass and wait for everything you’ve ever wanted to fall from the sky into your lap.   I’ve been aspiring for many years now and needless to say it hasn’t led to much.  You might ask why a 27yr old qualified journalist has yet to make a mark on the industry.  The answer I give to that question has varied throughout the years.  At first I was ‘taking a year out’ after graduation. Four years of studying had taken its toll, I needed a break (or so I kept telling myself). My plan was to work full-time for a year, save a little money, then put operation Cooney Career into full swing.  Deep down I knew that I was really just doing what I do best….procrastinating.
The gap year argument wore a little thin after the first year.  It was time to come up with a new reason for not pursuing a career. Luckily for me Ireland found itself in the midst of a recession, the old ‘lucky just to have a job’ excuse became my best friend.  My parents were told repeatedly that there were simply no jobs available in the journalism field. Truth is I never bothered to look….sorry mum and dad!  I have no doubt I’m not the only one to fall into the retail trap.  A steady guaranteed wage is hard to walk away from, not to mention the fact that the recession and cuts to the unemployment benefit have turned virtually any job into a keepsake.  However the state of the economy was hardly the real reason I failed to ‘spread my wings’ so to speak.  A combination of laziness and the fear of failure were the real forces at work here.
 Two more years past and like its predecessor –the good old recession excuse lost its mojo.  It was now time to work another angle. I thought back to the last time I felt like I was actually furthering my career and putting my creative forces to work. I realised it was back in my college days.   As Oprah would say-I had a ‘light bulb moment’.  I decided to go back to the place where the foundations of my promising future had been laid….college.  What better way to dodge the look of disappointment on the faces of those who dare to ask ‘what are you doing with yourself these days’?  I could now tell people I was in fact studying-perfecting my craft in preparation for my assault on the media industry.

 Going back to college proved to be more than just a valid diversion on the road to career success. It actually served as a system reboot.  That urge to create came creeping back and as cheesy as it may sound for the first time in years I felt like myself again.  I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed or the most sensible sister around, but I do pride myself on having a decent ounce of good old creativity.  My childhood memories are filled with images of yours truly putting on concerts and acting out scenes from my favourite movies (this probably explains the delusion that a Hollywood career awaited me).  The life of a retail assistant had led me to forget or perhaps neglect the things that had once brought me so much satisfaction.  I forgot how much I loved the process of writing. For me there is no greater feeling that putting my fingers on the keyboard and just letting rip (by letting rip I am not referring to the passing of gas-instead the process of releasing my inner thoughts and attempting to string them into sentences that both make sense and provoke some amount of interest). 

 It was around this time that I decided to do something that I hadn’t done in years….take a risk.  In the past any of my written work had only been seen by a teacher-with the exception of the odd time when I allowed a family member to glance over an article or two.  For me, writing has always been a very personal act, one that I was hesitant to make public.  I tend to pour my heart into whatever I write with little interest in censorship. For that reason the idea of putting it out there left me feeling exposed, laid bare if you like.  However with the encouragement of my amazing sister I decided to challenge those fears and start a blog. Cue the birth of ‘Yours Faithfully Fiona’.   The response to my first post helped put to rest any previous reservations.  To hear that people liked my work meant the world to me.  My purpose on this planet soon became very clear.  My name is Fiona Cooney and I was born to write!

 However now I find myself back in familiar territory.  College is well and truely over and there is nothing standing in the way between me and the life I crave.  That’s what scares me the most. I have nothing to hide behind, if I’m not succeeding or reaching my full potential it’s no one’s fault but mine.  Believe it or not I even tried blaming Facebook for my lack of achievement.  The temptation to spend time in other people’s worlds instead of my own was proving too powerful.  I realised I had not written in a very long time and decided Facebook was the culprit.  This led me to conduct a little experiment over the past weekend.  I temporarily deactivated my account thus removing the temptation. So did my hypothesis ring true? By removing Facebook from my life did I manage to allocate more time to my budding writing career? I’m guessing you already know the answer to that. However it did lead me to write this blog so I guess on some level it worked.  But Facebook or no Facebook, recession or no recession there will always be an excuse for me to fall back on.  I read a brilliant quote recently that really hit home, it said ‘what will be is up to me’.  I couldn’t agree more, so with that in mind I Fiona Cooney vow to have some of my work published within the next six months so help me god. And if I don’t feel free to give me that look of disappointment, and whatever you do don’t let make an excuse, we both know it’ll be nothing but bullshit.

Yours Faithfully

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Family Ties

    The arrival of my sister and her son to Ireland last month resulted in possibly the best three weeks I’ve had in years.  The Cooney’s were under the one roof again for the first time in five years.  This was some feet-considering my brother Matt now resides in Cork, my sister Sharon remains in Perth, Western Australia and then we have little old me living here in Dublin. I think back to the time when we all called Oz our home, Mum and Dad living blissfully as man and wife, Matt and I winding each other up-correction me winding Matt up, whilst Sharon worked long days as a teacher and kept us amused with stories of her little subject’s antics.  Although I enjoyed my own space and often retired to my bedroom to escape the madness, I secretly loved our full house especially when we all piled into the living room to watch shows like Aussie Big Brother or dad’s favourite Survivor.  We were certainly a reality TV loving family.  It might sound weird to say but shows like Big Brother and Survivor actually brought us closer as a family.  We would have intense discussions/debates about who we thought was genuine and who had to go. I remember wishing we could temporarily vote Mum out of the house, as she had a tendency to talk non-stop during TV time.

  No one took these shows more seriously than my dad! I remember one instance when he brought a pen and paper into the living room and proceeded to tally the nominations made by the Big Brother housemates, that way he would know who was up for eviction before it was officially announced.  Another of Dad’s favourite shows was The Osbournes.  One of my most cringe worthy memories takes me back to age 17, Dad and I were glued to the telly watching Ozzy and his crazy family.   Next thing out of nowhere Kelly begins to talk about her special 'lady area' and reveals that her sister Amy has made an appointment for her with the all important ‘vagina doctor’ and she doesn‘t want to go. Ozzy’s advice was to insist Kelly tell the ‘vagina doctor’ to fuck off!! Hearing the v word in my dad’s presence was nothing short of a nightmare scenario.  I didn’t know where to put my head, luckily Dad was bent over in hysterics and I made a dash for the kitchen insisting I needed a drink!!

  Fast forward ten years and I would give anything to have my family back together, sitting around the TV.  Perhaps I would have cherished those days a little more had I known they were numbered.  We Cooney’s found ourselves back together last month, although our encounter was far too brief for my liking.  It’s funny how time can creep by and yet somethings never change.  Matt and I fell back into our slapstick mocking behaviour, Mum’s never ending rants picked up where they left off, and Sharon resumed her role as the sensible/normal one (that is until you get a glass of wine into her).  The obvious thing that had changed unfortunately was the relationship between Mum and Dad.  A big fat elephant had now entered our living room and there was an undeniable tension lying below the surface. Like a volcano it could errupt at anytime. Still I had to appreciate the fact that we were all back together and Jeremy Kyle was nowhere in sight!

    The demise of Mr and Mrs Cooney wasn’t the only change within the family.
Something was notably different between us siblings too. Thankfully this change was a positive one. It became clear during Sharon’s stay that the Cooney kids were now closer than ever. Perhaps being so far apart all these years had resulted in a greater appreciation for each other’s company.  Instead of being jealous and resenting my sister, these days I spend our encounters trying to get her to realise just how fantastic she is and how much I admire her strength both physical and mental.  Not to mention the fact that she is without doubt the greatest mother I have ever seen! Then we have ‘golden balls’ himself Matthew Cooney.  There was a time when I used to beg Matt to leave me alone, however these days the roles have definitely been reversed.  I’m the one itching to spend as much time with him as possible, something I‘m sure he finds slightly annoying.  His gentle nature and quiet confidence makes me very proud to be known around Nenagh town simply as Matt’s sister.

  Throughout life we tend to surround ourselves with people we both like and respect, otherwise known as our friends.  We can pick and choose our friends however when it comes to the family we’re born into, well that‘s something we have no say in.  As cheesy as it may sound, if I did have a choice, I‘d still pick the life of a Cooney everytime! I feel privileged to call my brother and sister my friends and have seen enough episodes of Jeremy Kyle to know that this is not the case in every family.  Shaz and Matt I salute you! May life see us back together again sooner rather than later.

Yours Faithfully

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Men Are From Mars??? Here's My Theory.........

   After several years on the ‘dating scene’ I have come to both love and loath the male species in almost equal measure. I don’t regret any of my past XY encounters (well maybe one or two), however I certainly wish I knew back then what I have come to know now. But there lies the beauty of hindsight.  I could get all corny and say those experiences have made me who I am today, but I prefer to see them as enabling me to finally weed out the bullshit and see what’s really there. I’m not claiming to be an expert on men-or some wannabe Carrie Bradshaw.  However I have noticed an undeniable pattern which has lead me to believe that most men fit into one of several categories. I thought it was about time I put this knowledge to good use, as many of my female friends are younger than me. It is with their emotional and psychological well being in mind that I write this. 

  The first species of man I would like to address is that of Girlfriend GuyGirlfriend Guy is the type of male who may literally fall in love with his own dinner. They are usually desperate for a romantic connection of any type, and will more than likely tell you they love you by the end of the first date.  Thankfully for us they are quite easy to spot, and I advice you stay clear unless you are of course Boyfriend Girl but that’s a whole other article. The interesting thing about Girlfriend Guy is that more often than not he has no reason to be so desperate.  They tend to be nice looking lads with normal social skills, the root of their desire to be ‘coupled up’ remains a mystery to me.

  We now move on to The Mumma’s Boy. This species is a little more complex, as it usually takes time to identify it.  You might not realise you are in the company of a Mumma’s Boy until months down the line. With this breed of man you will discover that the main woman in his life- the mother has likely been the one to make all major decisions for him.  The danger with this lies in the fact that he has been unable to develop the initiative to think for himself, particularly when it comes to women.  A Mumma’s Boy will happily take the back seat and allow you to make all the decisions in the relationship.  Subconsciously he is replicating the relationship he has with mummy dearest. His lack of initiative also means that you will literally have to spell it out for him: It hurts my feelings when you don’t call or text me!!!!!  A true Mumma's Boy has no intention of leaving the nest, and why would he when mother has made it so comfortable for him!  So you might want to think twice before suggesting you move in together.  Another factor to consider is that no matter what you will always play second fiddle to his mother, which is fine just as long as you like her and more importantly she likes you! 

  The next species we will examine is The Metro-sexual.  I believe Metro-sexual Men fall into two categories Type A and Type B.

Type A:  A guy who has a genuine interest in fashion and takes pride in his appearance. Let’s face it ladies there’s nothing wrong with that. When deciding whether or not we are attracted to a man, many women start from the bottom and work their way up.  It doesn’t matter how great your body and face are-if we hate your shoes its all over red rover!

Type B: This is the type of Metro-sexual I advise you ignore.  They tend to be completely image obsessed, and will most likely take longer than you to get ready. You also run the risk of having him steal you sacred hair straightener. A Type B Metro-sexual  can be identified usually by the over-presence of hair product, cologne, and of course the turned up collar. Men of the world take note: the only man to rock the turned up collar was The King himself Elvis!!!!!

   We have now come to what I believe to be the deadliest of all male species…..The Pretty Boy Player.  These boys were blessed with natural god given looks.  They achieve sexy with little or no effort, and can usually make even the most sensible woman weak at the knees. The Pretty Boy Player has never really had to work to gain a woman’s attention and or affection and there lies the problem, they’re lazy bastards!!  On a night out he will usually position himself somewhere that allows him to be noticed-for instance the bar. He will then wait for the women to come to him-like flies to shit, and believe me they will!  He has come to believe that he can get anyone he wants, and therefore you are disposable to him-at least until someone prettier comes along. The problem with falling for this specimen is that you will end up doing all the work.  His dreamy eyes and sexy smile will interfere with your brain waves and in no time you will find yourself becoming obsessed with this creature.  The majority of us women love a challenge, so the more aloof and uninterested he appears, the more we will want him.  It is one of the great mysteries of life! We complain that all men are bastards and yet we have no interest in the ones that aren’t. With that in mind we must now move to my final specimen  ….The Genuine Guy

         The Genuine Guy is considered by many to be the most rare species of man.  However I disagree with this.  In my view Genuine Guys are everywhere, they just tend to get over shadowed by the other species we have examined.  Like their title suggests, they are genuine down to earth fellas.  They are often quietly confident and self assured-this allows them to avoid playing mind games. With a Genuine Guy what you see is what you get, and you will always know where you stand with them.  Unfortunately many women find this prospect boring and safe, they crave the danger and complexity of the above species.  However Genuine Guys of the world fear not-in time us women grow tired of the antics dished out by the other breeds, we will come to our senses and learn to appreciate you! Just be patient!!!

 Please be aware that some men fall into several of the above categories.

Yours Faithfully

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

  As I sit here with one week to go before my 27th Birthday, I can’t help but think about just how far I’ve come in the last ten years.  The 17yr old Fiona Cooney was a very different person to the one you see today.  She had a mouth full of braces, hair so long it would make any traveller girl jealous, and let’s not forget a face full of caked on make up that was always a shade or four too dark. As you can imagine I was quite the vision! The braces were unavoidable, the hair and make up however were weapons I deliberately chose in an effort to shield the world of what I believed to be one of the ugliest faces imaginable!!  Think ‘Cousin It’ and then you can get some idea of how I wore my lovely locks back in the day.  The purpose of my hair was to cover up as much of my face as possible-paying particular attention to the hideous pointy thing sticking out of my face-otherwise known as my nose.  You couldn’t have paid me back then to tie my hair up. During one of my earlier jobs, my manger insisted I wear it up in a pony tail-I remember this almost sent me into cardiac arrest. The idea of having my face fully exposed terrified me, to the point where I contemplated leaving the job. My manger wasn’t the only one who had a problem with my ode to Cousin It look.  My mum and I fought constantly as she begged me to let my hair off my face. 

  The second tool I used in my mission to disguise the ugly truth of my appearance, was god’s gift to insecure women the world over-makeup! Inches of makeup were applied to my face on a daily basis in an attempt to mask my pale, freckly skin tone. I remember a boy in my class asking me if I had fallen into a puddle of makeup!!  The funny thing is I wasn’t always like that.  For the majority of my childhood I was a take no prisoners tom boy with one mission: make it to the Olympics as a gymnast! I couldn’t have cared less about what I looked like! I think this all changed once I hit High School.  All of a sudden boys stopped being impressed with the fact that I could beat the majority of them in an arm wrestle-or that I could do 10 back flips in a row. Instead they turned their attention to the girls with the increasing bust lines and shapely figures.   I did not fit into this category, infact there were lamp posts in my school with more curves than me! I always blamed the dam gymnastics for my lack of development!!  

  The point where my insecurity turned into obsession was around age 15. The mirror and I began an unhealthy rollercoaster of a relationship.  I could spend hours looking at my reflection- picking out my flaws and trying to come up with ways I could hide them.  There were days when the person staring back at me was so hideous that I couldn’t face leaving the house.  I remember one instance when I had agreed to go with my friends to a disco, however I backed out of it at the last minute as I believed I was too ugly to go. I now know that what I was going through back then was a condition referred to as Body Dimorphic Disorder (BDD).  BDD works in a similar way to Anorexia. It is a disease of the mind and results in people seeing a distorted vision of themselves when they look in the mirror. A person with Anorexia sees themselves as fat, even though the rest of us see a skeletal frame. People with BDD see nothing but ugly, even though to the outside word they make look completely normal if not attractive.  For years I allowed this disease to rob me off a normal life.  It affected my relationship with my family and my friends, as they struggled to understand why I was so hard on myself. It also resulted in me shying away from the opposite sex, I mean how can you accept that somebody wants to be with you when your convinced you’re hideous! 

  Luckily for me I had a breakthrough.  Moving to Dublin and taking a job at a local cinema changed my life. In the past I had all but avoided male interaction for fear of being made fun of, however this particular job forced me to work alongside guys.  It soon became apparent that the way I looked made no difference to them. As cheesy as it may sound they took the time to get to know me for me.  Slowly but surely my guard began to drop, allowing my inner freak to break free! These days some of my most treasured friends are guys, which is a testament to the progress I’ve made.

  Although I will never be able to fully rid myself of my previous BDD driven tendencies, I’ve certainly come along way.  My relationship with the mirror-like any real relationship has its ups and downs.  Some days I like what I see and some days I don’t. However I am so bloody happy that I woke up and finally realised life is too short to let fear or insecurity hold you captive. After all the greatest asset a person can have is their personality. In the words of the great Lady GaGa "I'm a free bitch baby"!

Yours Faithfully

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dear Elaine

 Today in work a customer wanted me to put aside a dress for her, she asked me to hold it under the name of Elaine.  You instantly came into my mind. It dawned on me that I have not thought of or mentioned you in quite awhile, immediately a strong sense of guilt came over me.  I worried that you must assume you are forgotten, perhaps as if you were never here. With that in mind I decided to write you this letter in the hope that somehow you will hear my words and know that you are definately not forgotten!

  I often wonder how different things would have been if you had gotten to stay with us. What would you make of me? When Sharon and I were literally tearing each other's hair out would you have intervened? If so who's side would you have taken? I used to imagine that you and I would have had this unspoken bond, and that you'd have always stuck up for me anytime Shaz and I went to battle.  I never took into consideration the fact that Shaz and you would have had five years together by the time I came along. Therefore your loyalty was bound to lie with her. Perhaps I would have thought twice about going up against my two older sisters! I'm sure Sharon's body would have had alot less scratches on it if you were there to referee!

  How would Daddy Cooney have coped living in a house with four women?  Somehow I think he would have done just fine!  Dad has always doted on his lil ladies, and from what I've heard you had him wrapped around your little finger from day one! I'm told the admiration was more than mutual. Apparently you used to jump up in your cot the second you heard Dad come to your door in the morning. You also sat by the front door of our lil blue and white Nenagh house, anticipating his return from work in the evening.  I remember Mum telling me that she could barely get a look in-you were daddy's little sweetheart and that was that!! The fact that to this day he finds it difficult to speak about you is testimate to the impact you had on him.  Mum and Dad weren't even in their twenties when they lost you. I try to imagine what that must have been like for them, but it's too painful.  I think back to when I was nineteen and I know with full certainty that such an experience would have destroyed me.  However they had no choice but to be strong, Sharon still needed them, therefore falling apart was not an option.  It only dawned on me that it must have been just as hard for you.  It certainly wasn't your choice to leave such a loving set of parents and therefore your bravery astounds me just as much as theirs does.

  I wish I had gotten to meet you, but yet somehow I feel like I have.  Anytime something good happens in my life, I secretly believe you were behind it.  I see all the good that is in our brother Matthew and I have no question that you have something to do with it.  I hope wherever you are you are happy and that you look down on us-your crazy fellow Cooney's from time to time and have a little chuckle. The one thing I ask is that you never doubt your place in our family, you are my big big sister Elaine and nothing can take that away from us!

Yours Faithfully

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I'll Do It Later!!!!

   First of all let me start by stating that I am infact the world's laziest blogger!! Have been meaning to add to my last entry for weeks now, but somehow I kept putting it off-just like I do with most other things in life!! I should really get the words 'I'll do it later' tattooed on my body! With this in mind boys & girls today we are going to discuss procrastination and why it affects some people more than others!!  My dad will happily tell you that Fiona Cooney will find a way to be late for anything and everything.  He often reminds me of how anytime we were going somewhere he and the rest of the family would be left waiting in the car while I ran around the house like a mad woman screaming "I'm almost ready", only to emerge several minutes later with my shoes in hand, pants still unbuttoned etc. "Why do you always leave it to the last minute to get ready?" he would ask. 

  My habbit for puttings things off was not just limited to getting ready, I managed to delay many other aspects of my life as well.  None more so than when it came to anything academic.  Assignments that were meant to be done over the weekend were always left to late Sunday/crack of dawn Monday morning.   I even managed to put off studying for my final Secondary School exams until the morning I was due to sit them. I justified this behaviour by telling myself that I was better off waiting till the last minute-that way all the information would be fresh in my brain.  Needless to say my results exposed several flaws in this method of study!!! I have recently discovered that there is in fact a title for this type of behaviour: "Student Syndrome" refers to the phenomenon where a student will only begin to fully apply themselves to a task immediately before a deadline. If only I had known this information earlier-would certainly have given more weight to my arguments with the parentals. "Fiona why didn't you do your assignment earlier?"  "It's not my fault mum- I have Student Syndrome!"

    Student Syndrome aside I still have to wonder why I do this to myself??  Perhaps I subconsciously love the thrill of the last minute panic? Unlikely. I dread any feelings of anxiety or worry, so therefore it would make no sense for me to intentionally bring them on.  I remember Dr.Phill telling a woman with similar habits to my own that she was an attention seeker who got off on the thought of people waiting for her. I was disgusted with this diganoses- and felt that Dr Phill was making a personal attack on my character! However it did get me questioning my behaviour for at least a moment or two. But thankfully I can safely say the good doctor's diganoses does not ring true in my case.

  There was a brief period right after high school when I thought my urge to procrastinate was fading .  Before moving to Ireland I spent six months at Edith Cowan University (how I got into uni with results like mine is possibly the greatest miracle I've ever witnessed).  For the first time in years I was studying something I actually cared about.  Instead of putting off my assignments- I enjoyed spending time working on them, ensuring they were more than just a rushed last minute job. I even managed to do a little thing called 'research', something I had avoided for the majority of my previous academic life!! I began to console myself with the notion that I only put things off when I'm not passionate about them. However once the novelty of university life wore off, my desire to delay came crawling back. For three years I battled the voice inside my head that constantly told me to 'do it later', and somehow managed to achieve the qualifaction I needed.

  After several years of absence from the college scene, I decided to once again hit the books last year.  However it didn't take long for the dreaded Student Syndrome to rear its ugly head again. Years of an 'assignment free' existence had caused me to forget that I am infact the world's biggest procrastinator! Case in point this blog, which I am writting instead of an overdue assisgnment!!  Will I ever rid myself of the urge to procrastinate?? Probaly not, nor will I ever understand why I do it. But one thing I do know is that I will get there eventually, it just might take me a little longer than others! Better late than never I say!

Yours Faithfully

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reality Bites!

    So my sister challenged me to follow in her footsteps and start a blog.  Never one to shy away from a good challenge I accepted. Setting up the blog was easy, finding something worthy to write about however proved to be the real challenge! I'm told most bloggers write about what they're passionate about......problem with that concept is that as of this moment I'm finding it very hard to remember the things I am infact passionate about!! Perhaps my lack of passion has something to do with the fact that I am in the midst of a quater life crisis! Prior to entering adulthood I assumed I had at least until age 50 before I started to question my existence. Never once did I imagine that at 27 I would be sitting at a computer asking myself what the hell am I doing??

  27 always seemed so old to me.  However now that I'm here I can honestly say it looks nothing like I thought it would back when I was a 16yr old lying on my bed surrounded by posters of Leonardo DiCaprio.  I remember establishing 22 as my cut off point for making it as an actress in Hollywood.  I honestly believed that was my destiny- after a nose job or two Hollywood would come knocking, and all the people who had doubted me in the past would then marvel at my success.  Well 22 came and went and I can assure you that I am a far cry from the glittering lights of Hollywood.  So where did it all go wrong??  As of this moment I have no answer. The journey from 16 to now has gone so fast that it's hard to pin point the exact moment when reality came and bit me in the ass. 

  Growing up we are constantly encouraged to dream big, but the danger with that is that sometimes you dream soo big that the idea of a normal life just doesn't cut it anymore.  At some point you have to accept that the cold hard fact that the fantasy life u had invisioned as a teenager might be just that-a fantasy and nothing more.  So here lies my dilemma, do I give up on the pipe dreams of the past and finally accept a dignified normal existence? Or do I make a last ditch effort to ensure I avoid the 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' trap . I think I'm going to change my cut off point to 32!

 Yours Faithfully