Anne Wotring – Dare to Think


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Changing Habits

This past month Tom and I had the honor of being guests at a quintessential Irish wedding in Limerick.

Driving our rental car into town – already a bit challenging being on the left side shifting gears, we got completely turned around trying to find our hotel. So turned around that Tom actually asked a police officer for directions. Age is serving my husband well.

Tom reported: “The officer said we follow O’Connell Street about 8 blocks, then left on Mallow. At the park ‘proceed true da gate’ and your hotel is right there.” Tom was getting a kick out of imitating the Irish accents. He’s got the knack for sure.


We got to the park, no problem. It’s your classic, city-block sized green-space, surrounded by a high, ornate, green painted iron fence. We could see huge leafy trees, large rose beds, paths, benches, a tall memorial statue in the center, and a few very small stone buildings.

The park’s large iron gate opened up onto the intersection of two busy streets that defined the park’s perimeter. The gate appeared slightly wider than a car.

We studied the situation as we waited for the traffic light to change. A straight asphalt-paved path gave access across the park from the gate. Other paved paths angled off the main one. Women with strollers and others ambled along on the paths.

“Are you sure about those directions??” I asked. “This really doesn’t look like a park for cars.”

“I agree,” Tom replied. “But I’m sure the cop said to ‘drive true da park.'”

I didn’t argue with him… I didn’t offer even a second doubt. I didn’t even have internal ‘I told you so’ in mind to unload later. I just sat back with complete trust and mostly interest in what would unfold.

For those of you who know me, I definitely don’t act this way. My M.O. is to know the right answer and then to second-guess, question and doubt myself and others. This creates analysis-paralysis for me and interpersonal tension and arguments. With mindfulness of this habit, I’ve learned to offer my observations once (or twice if it’s a harmful situation) and then let it be.

You can read the difference between this and a very similar incident last summer — when I insisted that I knew the way and got us into a stressful jam. It humbled and schooled me in a really excellent way.

The traffic light changed and, to my surprise, Tom drove us slowly across the intersection and straight through the gate.

I glanced at his profile; he looked resolute and calm. Here we go, I thought.

We approached the first flowerbeds. I watched to see passerby’s reactions. They weren’t really looking at us. We moved ahead slowly and surely. I began to think that maybe cars do drive through this park.

On we went past trees and people. Then ahead we saw the path’s end at a small building with a tiny European delivery truck in front. Clearly no hotel or one in sight.

We exchanged glances. Tom looked behind us, backed the car around, and retraced our route. As we came out the gate, we saw in front of us our hotel marked by a small sign.

Our story was a sensation for the wedding guests, who all have walked through “People’s Park.” Tom concluded that the cop had set him up as entertainment for his fellow officers’ viewing of the crime camera’s recording of some gullible American tourist who actually drove ‘true da park’ at his direction.

I love that through becoming more mindful of my habits, I can be a more loving companion and friend.