Getting forgetful?

21 1c

(Morning! Or afternoon?)

As I sit here at 8.30am on Monday morning I wonder why I don’t sit here at 3.30pm on a Sunday afternoon. Why wait until the last minute? Why set up a habit that doesn’t support the good and the healthy? Why not set up a habit that makes life and the living of it easier? Why indeed?

21 1a

(One of my buttons on my art project)

It’s something I’ve considered previously, with some success too. There was the walking for twenty minutes a day habit, the drinking three pints of water a day habit, the blogging at 3pm every day habit, the photography every day habit, even the drawing every day habit. But for some reason it’s much easier to let those kinds of habits go and forget that they were even a consideration.

21 1b

(Focus on the important things….)

Now I’m considering…. and it seems like this might be the perfect time to reinstate some useful habits. I’ll have to be ruthless when I’m deciding which ones to reinstate. Probably best if I ask myself what I want to be doing in six months time (when my habits have taken hold.)

This could take a little time, Mairead.

Practice makes perfect…. bit by tiny bit.

08 10a

(Printing practice)

It’s before dawn on an autumnal wet kind of day here in County Wicklow. I’m up early because there’s a lot to do before I leave for my classes. Today it’s drawing… not my favourite but I want to improve so I continue to practice. Last week on my day off I found myself near the National Art Gallery on Merrion Square. Although I do love to visit, usually I go there only if I have time to kill while waiting for an appointment or a meeting. When I realised how close I was I went there purposefully… to practice my drawing.

08 10b

(Printing practice… possible wallpaper design?)

Practicing my drawing might seem straightforward, all I need is a pencil, paper and a subject, right? No. Well, yes I do need the pencil and paper, but I carry those with me all the time now and non-moving subjects are readily available. There are other requirements… 1.Making a choice – it is sometimes tempting to wander from potential subject to even better potential subject  and the available time is gone before I have even started. 2.Opening the notebook – it is also tempting to wait until the coast is clear and there is none nearby before I open the notebook and take the pencil in my hand…. (“Oh look, someone drawing”). It’s scary but I must be brave.

08 10c

(Printing practice…. using a net the oranges come in)

3.Making a start – possibly the most important requirement, the potential for disaster is huge. Well… disaster might be too dramatic a word but if I don’t start there’s no drawing. 4.Perseverance, defined as, the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. Very useful because at this point there are many thoughts going through my head…. You don’t have enough time. On consideration, this is not a good subject. You need more practice to attempt this one. There’s someone coming, quick put your notebook away! What about a nice green tea and a scone instead? Time’s up!

08 10d

(Then we went for lunch)

So much of what I’m learning on this course of drawing, painting, printing and ceramics can be applied to any area of life. 1. Make a choice. 2. Open the notebook – be willing to be different. 3. Make a start. 4. Persevere in spite of difficulties. Last week in the art gallery I found a statue, sat down and practiced drawing and my drawing skills are improving… a bit…. very slowly, so I’m learning patience too.

Go Practice, Mairead.

PS not ready to share the drawing practice…. yet.

Helen Kearney’s welcome home.

16 9l

(Picture of Helen Kearney in London. Source: Scott Heavey/Getty Images Europe)

I have more photos and things to say about Canada but first I want to tell you where I was on Saturday afternoon. I went to join hundreds of others in Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow, to welcome Helen Kearney home from the Paralympics. She won three medals – two bronze and one silver – in Equestrian Dressage and she got to meet Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late show!

16 9d

(Some of the supporters. When she was younger Helen was in the Newcastle Lyons Pony Club)

Helen has a progressive degenerative disorder called Friedreich’s Ataxia and when she was diagnosed at the age of twelve her parents did something amazing – they bought her a horse. I’ve known Helen’s mum, Mary, since I was little – she’s my cousin – so it doesn’t surprise me but it does inspire me.

16 9h

(Supporters came from Hollywood… Co.Wicklow)

I arrived early on Saturday as the groups of supporters were getting ready. There was great excitement and pride and everyone was smiling. Bunting had been stretched across the street and between the houses and almost every window displayed a picture of Helen. I had forgotten to bring my camera but had my phone – the pictures are a bit fuzzy.

16 9j

(At the GAA club, speeches and clapping… lots of clapping)

The celebration began with a parade of horses and ponies and vintage cars and local groups, and it seemed like the whole town had turned out. We followed the parade to the GAA club and there were speeches and presentations and even poetry. The community of Dunlavin had organised the event and had baked cakes and buns so after the speeches we retired to the club house to drink tea and eat the cakes.

16 9k

(One of the cakes, yum)

It was lovely meeting up with my cousins and my aunt Brigid (Helen’s granny) to celebrate a brilliant achievement and an inspiring young woman. Oh and I nearly forgot while she was in London competing Helen also graduated in absentia from University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Commerce!

Thank you Helen, for following your dream, Mairead.

Friday Quote – Begin it!

14 9c

(When my sister began planning her move to Canada I wonder did she ever dream of this picture of her daughter swimming at their private beach?)

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe.

(Attributed to Goethe… may not be his… still like it.)

What are you dreaming you can do? Mairead.

Don’t be scribbling over your signature with a bob.

(Wakey, wakey it’s 5am)

We’re on a ship again. This morning (Thursday) I’m sitting in the lounge of the ferry going from Rosslare Harbour (Ireland) to Fishguard (Wales). We’re off to see the daughter again. We’re also going back to beautiful Bath and to revisit Bletchley Park – the location of the code breakers from World War II and the birthplace of computing. This time we’re taking the car so it’s a bit different.

(Sunshine at 10am)

In preparation for the trip I went to the hairdressers yesterday afternoon. My hair is quite well-behaved when a professional pulls it into submission and can remain in place for a few days so I had booked a wash and blow-dry. When I arrived there was a woman sitting at the desk, I told her my name and the time of my appointment and she sent me over to the sofa. Although I had been in this salon previously I didn’t have a regular stylist and was willing to accept whoever was available. Within moments the same woman from the desk guided me to the sinks and proceeded to wash my hair.

(Oooo, there’s a craft shop here!)

I had assumed she was the receptionist… could she be my stylist? No clue. As I don’t enjoy the small talk I usually like to close my eyes and drift off while I’m getting my hair coiffed so I proceeded to settle into a little snooze. But, it was not to be. My hair was hardly wet when she said, “your hair is quite fine but very thick”. At a bit of a disadvantage in my laid back position and not knowing exactly what that meant or if it was good or bad, I said, “yes…” This was the first clue that she might be my stylist or someone very interested in my hair….. Well, although I do like the snoozing bit I prefer the bit where they talk to me about my hair (yes, I am that vain.) Not necessarily the… your hair is great  talking but the… did you know there’s a kink in your hair? and have you ever tried it this way? talking. Well, I had a treat in store.

(Checking out the survival options)

Her name was Esther and she was very interested in my hair! “Have you always had it in a bob?“,”Oh yes, for at least ten years, maybe more (lots more) it suits my face.” and she says “No it doesn’t!” Picture the scene me dripping wet hair sitting in front of a mirror looking up at Esther, who’s standing over me with a scissors in her hand. I let out one of those loud guffaws and laughed for a good thirty seconds. Esther joined in for a bit and then told me exactly what the bob was doing for me….. well it wasn’t doing anything for me in her opinion, except covering my face. She wondered if I was still wearing clothes from ten years ago, I said no (although I do have a very comfortable red cardigan…) She wondered if the bob was easy to manage, I said no, in fact it that’s why I came today. She said she couldn’t do it. “I’ve been watching your hair since you came in and I could hardly hold myself back.”  That sounds bad. “Is it that bad?“, “Yes.” Oh.


I laughed. I had been at a workshop that morning pondering the concept of shame and had learned that connection with others at the precise moment you want to sink into shame,  kills the shame. So I looked at Esther and decided she was more friend than foe and Esther, knowing I wasn’t going anywhere proceeded to tell me what she wanted to do. She spoke about the natural flow of my hair, how it was neither straight nor curly but had a kink. “Yes Esther, I know that kink – it’s the bane of my life, that’s the thing that makes it impossible to get the bob right.” But Esther said no, the kink was my hair’s signature and I had been scribbling over it with a bob for long enough. I want to let your hair flow. (Well she didn’t say those exact words but that’s what she meant.) “So, are you up for it?”

Let your life flow, Mairead.