May Day! May Day!

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(Here’s me in happier times… at my favourite breakfast place in the town with the house of the oranges, having my favourite breakfast)

We’ve moved on! We are not at the house of the oranges, we are in Ruby! So, the clutch is fixed. We arrived at 5pm on Monday to pick her up, Denis went for a test drive and all was great. Then he went in to pay… This might be useful information for you some day… the garage doesn’t take credit cards. Nope. What were we thinking? We were thinking, how else would you pay such a huge amount? The answer is: In cash…

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(Most, maybe 98%, of the houses are painted white… here’s the rebel)

We went to the bank to get out the cash. The bank was closed. The bank closed at 3pm. Never mind, there’s an atm. You can’t take that much money out, there’s a daily limit on bank cards. Never mind, we’ll ring the bank, get that raised. Yes they can raise it but… only after midnight, come back in the morning… Nooooo! We looked at each other… now what? We rang the Swiss doctor. Remember him from the day we broke down? He said ring anytime we needed help. We needed help.

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(We have a translations app (above) and this is how we were going to explain to the mechanic that we didn’t have the money. Do you remember the Popeye cartoon in the 70’s where one of the characters says, I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today?)

He didn’t know what to do either. We went back to the garage. On the way we extended our stay at the house of the oranges… again. We didn’t really know how to explain to the mechanic that we didn’t have the money. We had both started to say, Problem! when a man came up to us and said, it’s ok I’m here. Do you remember the Dutch man who just happened to be in the garage the previous Monday and translated for us? Well, he happened to be at the garage this Monday to arrange a chat with the boss mechanic about selling his car! He translated that we didn’t have the money but we would be able to get it tomorrow. Then the mechanic said something… It didn’t look like, that’s great! It looked like, that’s terrible!

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(Helpful poster in one of our favourite restaurants in the town)

It was terrible, because the next day was the 1st of May – a holiday in Portugal. The garage would be closed. The banks would be closed. Most business in the town would be closed. We would have to wait two more days. Another extension at the house with the oranges… But no, it’s ok, our Dutch translating angel told us he was hoping to meet the boss mechanic for a quick chat the next day and maybe he could arrange for us to bring the money then. He took our number and said he would ring later when he knew. We went to sit in the square. He rang, yes we could meet the boss next day at 10am!

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(Saw these olives on an olive plant (remember plant not tree!) on the road near the school)

I did not sleep. At 9am we arrived at the atm. Everything was going to be fine…right? Not yet. Our limit had been raised, we started taking out the bundles of cash and then we reached the atm’s limit per card. There’s an atm limit per card… (I hope you’re taking notes.) We still didn’t have enough money. We found another cash machine… it was out-of-order. We did that look again, the one where hope ebbs away. We rang the bank again. Ok, if we buy something using a card at a shop it will reset it. We bought a box of After Eight (I found them very useful later) at the only shop open in the town. The After Eights didn’t reset the card.  We wandered around the town for another twenty minutes looking for another atm… Then we realised we could get cash out on our credit cards… We had two credit cards, we started withdrawing money. (FYI: There’s a card limit on those too.)

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(One of our favourite tapas dishes last week)

We sat on the footpath outside the bank counting the bundles of notes. (It was a lot of notes – the atm’s in Portugal only handle €20 and €10 notes…no €50 notes.) We finally had enough cash. We set off for the garage. The boss mechanic was there, we handed him the notes and he handed us the keys. We said goodbye to out translating angel and we drove back to the house of the oranges one last time to load up our stuff.

I might have cried on the phone to the lovely lady called Leanne from the Revenue help line later that day but that’s another story. Mairead.

Sometimes it rains in Portugal…

It’s raining! I know you will be disappointed for me but I’m ok, I have some work to do so it’s probably just as well I won’t be able to sit outside sunning myself… I hear it’s sunny in Ireland!

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(Rocky and a bit cloudy in the distance on Saturday)

My friend Linda (of the tours around Porto) and I ran a workshop called MindCraft at the beginning of February and we’ll be running another one in May and again in June. This week I’m working on explaining what it’s all about for our website. I’ll send you a link as soon as it’s up and running but I thought I could start explaining now to get my thought processes working.

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(Smooth and blue skies on Friday)

MindCraft is a combination of Mindfulness and Crafting in a one day workshop. The Mindfulness part of it is all about staying present with what’s happening around you and within your body instead of the usual things we do. The usual things like  thinking and worrying about the future or thinking and worrying about the past. Or regretting the past or wishing we could repeat it or change it. Or wishing the present could be different. Or wishing we were different. Or wishing other people were different. We sure do a lot of useless thinking when all we really need to do is stay present and aware and deal with what’s right in front of us, right now.

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(There are lots of small gardens like this around here, all dug by hand. In need of rain, I suppose)

Last year when Denis was diagnosed with prostate cancer, everything slowed down to the essential – what do I need to be doing now? I don’t think it’s the big things that cause worry and anxiety… it’s the thinking about what if the big thing happens. In my experience when the big thing does happen you are kinda too busy dealing with it to be thinking about anything.

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(Another one, the small plants look like potatoes, maybe))

Mindfulness is about making us strong enough to deal with whatever life throws at us. So we have a little calm, contentment and the space to think about the important things… love, joy, peace, purpose, relationships, family, connection, community. The crafting is all about creativity and creativity is the route to finding solutions to our challenges. This is important: Thinking and anxiety are not the route to finding solutions to our challenges. Creativity is the route to finding solutions to our challenges, problems, concerns, difficulties, dilemmas, quandaries, troubles, irritants, stumbling blocks, obstacles, the lot! Creative solutions are what it’s all about. Every one of us is creative but not every one of us knows it.  MindCraft wants everyone to know they are creative and that they can come up with their own creative solutions.

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(And another one, I think there’s spring onions there)

So here I sit doing the work I need to do to make the message clear and simple… Mindfulness Strengthens Your Mind, You Are Creative, Creativity Solves Problems!

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(Interesting looking rocks on the beach)

But it’s not enough for me to just make the message clear for myself or others. Writing about mindfulness will not help me to be mindful, thinking about creativity will not help me to come up with creative solutions. So here I sit, also, doing the work of living the message. Everyday I practice mindfulness, I practice noticing what is around me, I practice exchanging worry and anxiety for beauty, I practice exchanging thinking for feeling my feet on the ground, I practice writing and photography and I practice telling myself, this is enough, you are doing enough, you are enough.

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(Behind the harbour buildings there are tables where the women sell the newly caught fish. That’s a cat on the fish scales. Fish weighing scales I mean…)

Step 6. Do the work, Mairead.