Didn’t want you to miss out on a discount!

This feels a bit like confession – it’s been three months since my last blog. And since then I’ve been learning how to make videos in the fridge for my Instagram. Applying to be on the Late Late for Small Business (wasn’t picked😏) Figuring out how to get started on Twitter. Getting (almost) comfortable on Facebook. Risking extreme embarrassment asking local shops if they would stock the cards – without success 😳 while an adorable shop (called Sunfleck) in Dungarvan found me and asked to stock them! So, they’re in a shop! And today I sent my first newsletter.

These past five months since I launched Permission Cards have been a blast and in case you don’t know, you have played a huge part in that. I didn’t know it when I started but a big part of selling online involves writing. Writing posts to different social media platforms, different accounts, groups, writing copy for the website, writing and answering comments, writing thank you notes to customers, writing emails, writing a newsletter. So all the times I was writing to you from our travels in the camper van or on the motorbike I’ve been in training for this season of my life. If you hadn’t been reading I wouldn’t have been writing to you. Go raibh maith agat! Look at what you did – you have been supporting my small business! Thank you! May we continue to walk each other home for years to come.

And finally, just in case you don’t follow me on social media I wanted to tell you about the discount I’m sharing at the moment. It’s 15% discount off Permission Cards until Sunday 28th November. Go to https://permission.cards and use the code THANKYOU at the checkout.

No pressure, I just wanted you to know too.

Big Hugs, Mairéad

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/PermissionCards

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/permissioncards/

I’m not a complete idiot…probably

Saw this in Portumna, Co. Galway. For some reason it makes me think of social media…

Well I’ve never been more grateful that I write a blog… well I haven’t actually written a blog post since March but I’m still grateful I wrote a post in March. Let me explain… it’s been 5 months since I wrote to you and a lot has happened.

Wild flower. Not weed!

The website (https://permission.cards) has changed utterly. The cards are different. And I think it’s possible I’m different too…for one thing I’m making videos. Yes, I don’t know what inner voices I shut down to do that but I shut them down. And now I’m talking to camera like it’s ok, like I’m not a complete idiot, like I’m even comfortable exposing myself (fully clothed at all times.) And I am comfortable. Mainly.

Got a new coffee jug

I’m comfortable until I wake up with a thought in my head that I’m a fraud or too old or ugly or a failure. Those days are hard because it’s kinda natural to want to hide away on Bad Thoughts Days. And sometimes I do hide. Do you have this experience where you start the day with those thoughts and you go into social media and every post you see confirms your thoughts? I have. So on the really bad bad thoughts days I can’t go into social media and I can’t post anything. And posting on social media is kinda my whole marketing strategy (that’s a blog all to itself!)

Muddy track near Shannonbridge Co. Offaly

Funnily enough though, this routine of posting to social media makes me notice those bad thought days in a way I never noticed before. In the midst of a Bad Thoughts Day I think every day is a Bad Thoughts Day. I completely forget that yesterday wasn’t. I think “this is going to go on forever” and sometimes I believe that thought longer than I need to.

Having to post everyday makes me realise Bad Thoughs Days are not everyday. My posts show me that I must have been grand on lots of days because I have lots of posts.

Big sky near Fethard-on-Sea Co. Wexford

And why am I’m grateful I write blog posts (even inconsistently..)? Because when you’re in the middle of change you don’t notice it and you don’t think anything is happening. And maybe it’s time to start having Good Thoughts Days… what do you think? Wishing you good thoughts about yourself ❤️ Mairéad.

End of the road

(Here’s our entire route from the Rego app…)

Thank you for being with us on the journey, now we’re all back where we started. We’ve been back a week and have managed to do some travelling in Ireland in that time. It’s just as beautiful here as it is in France and Spain and Portugal, by the way. The weather? Not as different as we used to think.

(Listening to a busker at the Rock of Cashel)

Ruby has been emptied, the washing machine has been filled and emptied many times and we are getting used to having extra space, extra power sockets, unlimited electricity, unlimited data and a wild garden. We’ve noticed having a car makes us walk less as does having a washing machine. During our forced stay in Benet I hit my step count just by going over and back to the laundry machines.

(Noticing sunset near Cloyne)

I am, as I decided when we reached the journey ending, at a beginning. It’s up to me to decide what this is, what I want to be telling myself and you for the next few months. Do you think it’s possible to live intentionally with a story you tell yourself? I think we live in stories we tell ourselves all the time, just accidentally. Telling an intentional story would mean choosing what you really want to be, do, feel, think.

(Smiling at the cute postbox in Dungarvan)

Our attitude to the weather is an accidental story we tell ourselves. In Ireland we believe the weather is supposed to be good, we are disappointed when it’s not. We complain about it all the time. What if we believed the weather was supposed to be terrible? On a wet and miserable day we would nod our heads and carry on. But on a day when the sun rose to a cloudless sky (like today) we would be astonished, in awe. We’d still just carry on but we’d notice the beauty… and we’d feel it.

(Remembering Lisbon scooter rental at the bike rental in Dublin)

I am quite nervous about sharing my plans for this beginning because I’m not at all confident that I can successfully complete them, so maybe I shouldn’t even start them. Weirdly, that’s a helpful realization and leads me to the first intention: to notice myself thinking, you never finish anything, you won’t be able to do this and carry on doing what I’m doing anyway.

(Listening to the son making music…)

So here’s my intentional story for the next few months… I will compile the blog posts over these last eighty-something days into an ebook and put it up for sale on Amazon. You never finish anything, you won’t be able to do this. When that’s done I will create a short and simple video course about how to compile your writing into an ebook and sell the course. You never finish anything, you won’t be able to do this. I will get up every day at 6am to get this work done. You never finish anything, you won’t be able to do this. I will incorporate healthy habits, like walking, eating well, practicing mindfulness and noticing beauty. You never finish anything, you won’t be able to do this.

I’m just getting started, Mairead.

Rust and Decay

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(Welcome. Settle yourself. We are in the vines… can’t you just imagine?)

Yesterday we were in Beaujolais and I am completely sure of that because we stayed at a wine farm and the wine they produce is Beaujolais! We had a lovely conversation with the farmer’s wife (in french! Denis’ french comprehension is coming along in leaps and bounds.) Her husband’s father bought the farm in 1959 and now there are three generations of the family involved in the business. They are not connected to a cooperative so they grow, press, bottle and sell everything themselves. They are very busy.

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(A Renault truck, just one tyre remains…)

I didn’t get around to asking but I think the grandfather must like old machinery because the farmyard and camping field had lots of old tractors and farm machinery. Laid out really neatly, by the way. Well, they are French. They also had modern machines, one very like the funny tractor I saw trimming the vines in Prisse. Old machinery always reminds me of my childhood because from time to time my Dad would bring home old cars or motorbikes. I think they may have been in lieu of payment for services rendered at his service station.

(The man-made colours of autumn. Can you see there’s still a little piece of glass in the headlight on the right? and the one remaining tyre? and the number plate?)

One motorbike in particular was a favourite of mine and my brother’s because of it’s position between a wall and a shed we were able to climb on without fear of falling over. It provided no end of imaginary play. This french farmer’s collection reminds me I love the colours of rust and decay and the feelings they invoke.

(Can you see the opening to a tank, just above the Renault badge? Is it for petrol or water?)

As well as machinery there were hens! And a cockerel… who wakes at 7am. I was making Christmas cards (I’ll tell you next week…) in the afternoon when I first saw the farmer and his wife in the hen enclosure. He had a bucket and was on a ladder against one of the trees picking fruit. His wife was holding the ladder. The hens live in an orchard!

(Here’s Henny and Penny just being chickens)

There are also nut trees in the farmyard and thanks to Stewart (from the houseboat) who taught me, I was able to identify walnuts. Whoever discovered them first was very persistent because it takes a lot to get to the tasty bit of a walnut. It’s very well hidden.

(This is what a walnut looks like when it falls from the walnut tree. Peel off the outer layer and you’ll find the shell. Crack the shell and you have a walnut!)

From Beaujolais (or nearby) Mairead.

Peaceful Day on the Greenway

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(A grey day in the town at the top of the hill)

We’re still here beside the Voie Verte (Greenway) and it’s so peaceful. Just a few cyclist, some walkers and two other motorhomes here today. Monday is always a quiet day in France. I went for a walk up to the town this morning. Fortunately it was overcast and a little chilly so climbing (walking, really) the big hill was very pleasant. Not too many people around there either but tomorrow will be different… there’s a market!

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(Strange wooden bridge joining the clock tower and bell tower)

Already there are signs around the center telling motorists not to park from 6am on Tuesday. I don’t think I’ll be there that early. At this time of year the market takes place only on the first Tuesday of the month so I suppose it’s a big deal for the town. I’m imagining crowds of people and lots of nice things for sale… but it might be just groceries. I suppose groceries can be nice.

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(Can you imagine the train going under that bridge?)

Yesterday afternoon when it got a bit cooler we took the bikes down and went for a cycle along the path. For some reason we have been very active on the bikes this trip – go us! It’s very flat along the greenway because the train tracks needed to be on the flat or at the most only a slight incline or decline. Trains don’t like steep hills. I have a lot in common with the trains…

(View from the bench)

Just outside the station the vista opened up onto a huge plain with vineyards, wheat fields forests and hills. We stopped at a bench, there’s always a bench near where you want to sit everywhere in France. There was an oak tree nearby and all we were missing was a picnic and a tablecloth. We have noticed the French people always have tablecloths when they sit outside to eat. It’s such a lovely idea and it looks adorable. I think I’ll look out for one in the market tomorrow.

Sending peace, Mairead.

This is Burgundy…

(Tourist map of Burgundy – Bourgogne in French)

My trip on Valerie and Stewart’s boat has definitely affected our travel distances over the past week. (By the way, the boat is for sale!) It’s possible to fit our last seven days of travel onto a tourist map (see picture above) of Burgundy.

(The beautiful city of Auxerre. Lots of old buildings, churches and half-timbered houses. Can you see the boats moored on the right? The motorhome parking is to the right of the boats)

Ok, last Sunday we were in Cravant where we had coffee on the houseboat. On the Monday the boat left for Auxerre with me on board. I got off after four kilometers and cycled back to Cravant. The following day Denis and I drove to Auxerre, even though it was in the wrong direction – northwards – because Valerie and Laura made it sound so beautiful. It was very beautiful. And honest… that’s where Denis lost and found his phone.

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(Entrance to one of the cathedrals in Auxerre)

Next day we moved to Arnay-Le-Duc where we met Marc whose battery was on the blink and where we got a great lunch. After that, Autun, a very old and very pretty large town where we parked between a huge graveyard, a Roman Amphitheatre and a lake. We did get bitten by bugs but the neighbours were very quiet.

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(Covered walkway between the old part of town and the very old part of town in Autun)

On Saturday morning we drove to the small town of Givry where they are especially proud of the fact that Henry the fourth’s favourite wine was Givry. He’s dead now but they still produce the wine. We saw a bottle in the supermarket and it must be good because it costs the same as a bottle of wine in Ireland.

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(That’s the paved greenway path along the disused railway line. Can you see the giant water tap? For steam trains?)

That’s where we found the Voie Verte, the Greenway. Like the ones we have in Ireland, where the old disused railway line is converted into a cycle and walking path. Here in France they also provide aires for motorhomes to park at the old disused stations. We had breakfast at a lovely shaded one in the town of Buxy – unfortunately shade isn’t our friend when we are generating solar energy, so we moved on.

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(Just as I was reading that the greenway was for biking, walking and rollerblading along comes someone on roller blades! It look like fun!)

Now we are beside one in a town called Saint-Gengoux-le-National. We haven’t visited the town yet but the brochure I found at the station here looks very interesting. It’s a 25 minute walk uphill and 26 degrees so maybe I’ll go for a walk when it’s cooler, in the morning.

Maybe I should get some rollerblades? Mairead.

Paying it Backwards…

(Look! It’s Camille’s house!)

About 28 years ago we visited France with our two-year old daughter. We took the ferry from Cork to Roscoff and drove our car due south. We stayed in small hotels all along the Loire and loved every minute of it. One afternoon as we were driving in the middle of the countryside steam started coming out from under the bonnet. We were overheating. Fortunately, we had about half a dozen small bottles of water with us, we emptied them into the radiator and carried on down the road. Within a few miles we were steaming again. This time we came to a stop right beside a farmhouse. The farmer saw our problem, brought us into his house and explained to his wife. She cooked us a meal and because the garage was closed until the next morning, she moved her children out of their bedroom and made up their beds for us! Next morning she gave us breakfast, the farmer contacted the garage, she gave us lunch and when the car was fixed all the children lined up for kisses and we kissed everyone and drove off.

(Old tower in the pretty town)

Yesterday we had an opportunity to return some kindness but we only remembered afterwards. We had arrived in a very pretty town with a lovely modern aire complete with payment collection by machine and a personal code for the electricity. As usual now we don’t need the electricity so we just paid for the parking, €7. We went off for a walk at lunchtime and had a very nice “plât du jour” sitting outside on a flower-filled terrace. When we returned to the aire, Denis went to work and I started writing. It’s very unusual for anyone to approach the van so when a man approached we assumed he was another motorhome person. He wasn’t. He had broken down on the edge of town and he wondered if we could help him to charge his battery by plugging in his charger. Of course we said yes so off he went to collect his car. By the way he had great English, he’d been to Ireland and he was often mistaken for Irish because of his hair – he has red hair.

(Church in the pretty town)

He arrived back in 30 minutes with the car and proceeded to take the battery out. He explained to Denis that he was coming from a funeral in Paris (300 Km away) and his battery had died on the way and the garage he found didn’t have a replacement battery but sold him a battery charger and charged his battery. That was an hour ago, he still had another 300km to travel and the car had started spluttering just outside this pretty town. On his way into town he had noticed the aire and thought that’s a good place to plug-in the battery charger. That’s why he was approaching us.

(The charging arrangement)

While the aire had electricity, the only way to avail of the electricity is with a motorhome. He could plug-in his charger to our sockets inside the van but… we only had solar power and it was not up to the power requirement of his battery charger. On top of that because we hadn’t chosen electricity at the modern pay by credit card entrance there was no way for us to get the high power electricity now. Not a problem… he would temporarily become a motorhome and pay the parking and electricity at the entrance, then plug-in the electricity he had paid for into our van and then plug-in his charger to our socket in the van. Are you keeping up? No problems so far… until Denis explained what a trickle charger was… it’s a cute name for slow charger. It’s very slow. We had run out of conversation within an hour and the meter barely registered a charge. When three hours had passed it was dark and no one was talking. I made a cup of tea. That’s when we realised his English wasn’t as good as we had thought. Or maybe we don’t understand English as well as we had thought…

(A terrace built around the tree, Auxere)

It would take at least four more hours to charge the battery, he was staying… overnight. Oh. Ok. Long story short, he slept in his car we slept beside him in our motorhome with the door locked and the electrical cord of the charger squeezed underneath and in the morning the battery was charged. He was a lovely man and very grateful to us. There was no kissing, though. When he was gone we both remembered the farmer and his family in the Loire. How amazing were they to take us into their home and share everything with us, even their kisses.

You just have to love the French! Mairead.

I can’t wait for it to be… right now

(Smelling the flowers)

I’ve been thinking again… not always to be recommended, about how I help myself feel better when I feel down. I’ve read a lot of books about this and talked to a lot of wise friends and I am now convinced that we have a choice of ways to help ourselves but we tend to go for the same things every time. Even when those things don’t work. So, for example, I head to the kitchen. A biscuit or a two or maybe a packet. Something sweet always makes me feel better… while I’m eating it. But then I feel bad again and in fact worse because now I feel guilty about those carbs. A glass of wine has less carbs but I have to wait until the afternoon and one glass isn’t working as well as it used to…

(Appreciating the lichen)

Then there’s planning. Planning is another of my choices. I love planning. I plan a new trip or a new pair of shoes or a new project. The problem with the planning is as soon as I’ve planned something the down feeling returns, because I have to wait until I get what I was planning. Shoes are a great plan because as long as the money is available they can arrive straight away. Great, I feel better. Until I feel guilty about buying the shoes and how could I think shoes would make me feel better? And now I feel bad about the money and the cause of my feeling down is getting more complicated. A trip, planning a trip is much better… go away, forget everything. I can’t wait. But I have to wait. I can’t wait to feel better, only four weeks to go and I’ll feel better. Yaa! I can’t wait. Pity I have to wait so long to feel better. I feel down. Life is hard.

(Can’t have too many flowers!)

A big project, a big project is probably my favourite choice to feel better. It’s grand. It promises wealth, purpose, meaning. Yes a project always makes me feel better. I’ll plan a project. I’ll write another book and it’ll be great, it’ll say exactly what I want to say and it’ll be really easy to understand. I can’t wait until it’s written and published and bought and… oh, it’ll be great when I feel good about having accomplished that. I’ll have plenty of money and I’ll be able to buy those shoes I was thinking about… oh, I can go on a permanent holiday so I’ll never have to wait to go away. I can’t wait… to feel good about writing a book… It’s a pity I have to wait so long and what if it doesn’t sell or what if no one understands it? Oh, I feel a bit poorly and purposeless and meaningless and down. Life is very hard. I’ll have biscuit. What time is it?

Boy, this is complicated.

(Or too much lichen!)

I mentioned earlier about the books and the friends and the more choices for me which all led me to finding a new and very simple way of feeling better. I just have to choose it. Why wouldn’t I choose it? It’s simple! It works! Well, although the old ways don’t work they are very familiar and they’ve become a bit of a habit. Not to mention biscuits taste so good, wine is so much fun, shoes are so pretty and having purpose is so attractive… But they’re complications plastered on to cover up a feeling. Biscuits don’t change the feeling. Wine doesn’t change the feeling, it even makes it worse. Shoes don’t change the feeling. Concocting a purpose doesn’t change the feeling. The simple solution to feeling better… is to feel. Just feel. It won’t last long, about 90 seconds. Then I’ll go back to doing what I do, writing or making. The feeling will come back, so there’ll be plenty of opportunity to turn this new simple choice into a habit. But I won’t have complicated it, I won’t have plastered stuff onto it, I won’t have forgotten that it’s just a feeling and feelings pass.

Feeling the feeling, Mairead.

Lost and Found

(One of the lock-keeper houses)

A couple of days ago we walked to a big shopping center in town. It was further away than I thought, it was lunchtime, it was 26 degrees and it was uphill. By the time we arrived I was gasping and cranky and needed a drink. I got my drink, Denis got what he came for but as they had free wifi, he sat down to update some software on his laptop and I went off to find a comfy seat and read my book. Within minutes Denis phoned, he had just realised he was supposed to be on a client call. Fortunately, there was wifi and he could use his laptop but unfortunately there was loud music everywhere (except outside) and he had no headphones. He went outside to start the call and I went in search of cheap headphones.

(From the animal park in Cléres)

When I came back, Denis was frantically using sign language to ask me for his phone. I didn’t have his phone… he didn’t have his phone… Meanwhile the call was going on in the background and he had to pay attention. I searched my rucksack and his rucksack for the phone. No phone. The call finished. We replayed his steps and realised he had put the phone down on a bench in the car park and walked away from it with his laptop to better hear the call… We approached the bench. It was completely empty.

(This guy is also from Cléres. Can you see he has his beak out through the fence?)

Now if you’ve ever lost your phone you will know there’s an option to find it with your laptop so he began to do that while I decided the best place for me and my opinions about leaving a phone on a bench in a car park, was somewhere else. So I tried the old-fashioned method of finding lost property and went to the security guard. The security guard didn’t speak English so he sent me to the lady at the customer desk. She didn’t speak English either but she rang someone. They didn’t speak English either but they used their phone to tell me… we have your husband’s phone here but we need the owner to come and verify that it is theirs. In that short period of time, ten or fifteen minutes, someone had handed in his phone.

You just have to love France, don’t you? Mairead.