Happy New Year


(Way too much chocolate….)

Is it morning already? I’ve been away in the land of Christmas and I have jet lag (or… sleigh lag.) So just enough time and energy to wish you a Happy New Year – it’s 2013 – and encourage you to consider your hopes and dreams and wishes this year. For a start scribble something you really, really want on a bit of paper and stick it in the back of your purse or wallet. Don’t look at it again until 2014.

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(Way too much food…)

Or if you’re really brave…. send your bit of paper to someone who will encourage you; or send it in an email to lots of encouraging some-bodies; or do what I did and set up your own team of people to encourage you! That’s why I’m off out the door now to draw and paint at this un-holy hour (well 8.30am…) instead of lying in bed. And even though I’d rather be lying in bed at this moment…. I am very glad I started this journey.

Happy 2013 and start scribbling, Mairead.

A Town of Runners – beautiful.

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(Remembering my girls)

Last night we went to see a beautiful movie  – A Town of Runners. It was set in Ethiopia, in a small town called Bekoji. There was only a dirt road from the town so it has stayed small. The story is told by a boy who works in his grandmother’s small shop. The one thing that is not small about the town is the number of successful runners that have come from here. When the movie was completed in 2011, there had been eight olympic gold medal winners, ten world records and thirty-two world championships won by people from Bekoji. Not small at all.

31 7c

(The path to our dreams is not always straight)

The movie is about two friends Hawii and Alemi. Hawii loved winning races and was happiest when she was first and Alemi was second…. She was fourteen when she said this and her honesty was touching, she loved when her friend did well, but there was only one winner and Hawii wanted to win.

31 7a

(Broad Beans)

Then there was the coach. The man who trained those successful athletics was called coach throughout the movie so I had to look up his name, Sentayehu Eshetu. He trains the children in this town and continues to train them until an athletics club from a big town picks them for their team. That’s the dream, to get chosen, just like the young Irish boys wanting to be picked for their favourite English football club. He smiles a lot, he is very respectful and the runners love him. He is on their side. He also has rules. At one point he has them pulling weeds and clearing grass from their running track – a red clay circle in a field with a shed for coach’s office. There is sadness in the movie also when the dream becomes difficult for Hawii.

31 7d

(Water… we complain about rain but we need the water)

This movie shifted my outdated perceptions of Ethiopia. My memories of Live Aid in the eighties and the images of famine had drawn a detached, far away, not-my-world, picture that I held as true. Watching A Town of Runners I felt a connection to these girls, to their hard-working parents, their grandparents, to their coach. When they were clearing the weeds from the track I was remembering my weeds. When Hawii’s grandmother was worried about Hawii, I was remembering being worried about my children. When Alemi’s father was harvesting a vegetable crop, I recognised it as broad beans and was remembering my time in the wilderness. When a hen scratched in the red clay, I remembered my girls – the hens.

Movies can do that, shift your perceptions. Mairead.

Little Signs of Creative Misery.


(Busy insect in Mount Usher gardens last week)

I’m immersing myself in creative things. Making and doing but also reading about the creative process and watching movies about creative people. And everywhere I turn I see more articles or books or movies about creativity. It’s almost like there’s a catalog of creative information following me around, showing me more and more. But why would it be following me around?


(View from the gazebo)

Maybe it’s true that when we decide we want something, everything around us conspires to give it to us? Conspires to show us it is possible (to have this thing we want) at every turn? To tell us there is a way and the way is not as difficult as we think? To pull us out of our habits and our normal thinking? Maybe we are too stubborn to notice? Too happy in difficult, troubled, heavy work? Too content in awful life? If I can just ignore the little signs, then I can continue to be content in misery. Ah, lovely misery!


(A place to rest?)

The Little Signs…. the project we can’t find time to do. The book we can’t find time to write. The painting we can’t find time to paint. The quilt we can’t find time to sew. The holiday we can’t find time to take. The blog we can’t find time to write. The photograph we can’t find time to capture.  When we wish we could do something but just don’t have the time to do it… it’s a sign. In fact, in general when I wish, it’s a sign. The signs draw me in, a reminder of joy, but if I just can’t pull myself away from the luxury of misery…..

Time to take a break from misery, Mairead.