The eBook is out!

Well it’s finally happened…The eBook is live on Amazon! You might remember I mentioned it last September on this blog post in Creative Calm. So I wrote, edited, got scared, edited some more, went into a small decline, edited some more and finally figured out how to put it up on Amazon. Then there was another round of getting scared, editing, curling up in a dark corner and editing some more. Finally, I told my little sister, Moira, that it was ready. Telling her was kinda accidental, kinda on purpose. You see, she thinks I’m great. It’s best to pick someone like that when you want help breaking out of a fear cycle.

 Untitled 5

(The eBook is here!)

My little sister has always thought I was great, ever since she first recognised me pushing her pram, carrying her in my arms or letting her play with my friends. So whenever I tell her about something scary I’m about to do or that I’ve already done she says something like “Get over yourself, that’s a great idea!” (that’s an actual quote, I never said she was easy on me.) And somehow I get over myself and I come out of the small decline or the dark corner and get on with doing my thing. Anyway, I told her and she went off and bought the book and then she started telling and selling and I woke up this morning to her overnight messages (she lives in Canada) about who had been responding to her methods and I realised I had to Get Over Myself. So this is me getting over myself and telling you about my first eBook. Yes, first because there will be more and yes I may be going into a small decline about that in the future but that’ll mean I’m doing my thing and sure isn’t that the point of life?


(She hates photographs but I had to show you her Get Over Yourself! face)

So, here’s the link for you to click:

It’s called Finding Graiguenamanagh (yes I know the title should be easy to spell…. next time…) and it’s about ten days we spent in Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny, a beautifully special place in Ireland. There are pictures and words and it’s very short. When you click on the link (all going well) you’ll be brought to where you can read the first chapter and where you can buy it… if you want. While I’d love you to buy it, I am working on not caring whether you buy it or not because that’s not my thing – writing the next one is my thing! Despite the anguish and dark places I have mostly LOVED this process and I will keep going and keep learning how to allow myself do my thing without fear.

Look Moira! I think I’m getting over myself! Mairead.

I have a very little fridge and I’m not going to fill it up with rain


(Some perfect scraps of paper)

It seems to have rained all night so the ground was very wet this morning…. but it’s sunny now so I’m sitting outside on the swing. Since we got here I’ve been making craft stuff everyday (except at the weekend) and the weather has been nice enough to work outside. Until this week. It was hard to come back inside when I’d got used to working in the air. Even when the sun wasn’t shining it felt good to be outside. Now there were downsides. For example every piece of paper had to be weighted down so that it didn’t blow away. It’s painful fishing for those perfect scraps of paper in the rose bushes. But working inside the glue smells and the spots of paint I’ve been dropping may never come out of the rug… 


(Bits and pieces)

So, instead of reminding myself it will be a lot colder and wetter when we get back home and how’s that going to suck… I starting thinking….. all this talking and thinking about cold weather or wet weather or bad weather gets me no closer to the thing I want to be doing. It’s just a distraction. 


(Mara came back today and she made up a vegetable basket – all from the garden. And later there’s promise of chocolate zucchini cake – no idea…)

Like when I go into the supermarket here. I bring a list, it’s a very small list because we have a very small fridge (note to self: bigger fridge is not always better fridge, you tend to fill the fridge and the only advantage is that there’s more room for things to go off…) But on the way to getting the things on the list I see lots of attractive other things. Like cute knives and forks, you can never have enough knives and forks and they have a gingham pattern. Or cake… well who doesn’t want more cake? Or those funny orange sticks in the fish section – what are they? Anyway, by the time I find the things on the list the basket is full and I’m ready for a nap. 


(Who could pass these?)

How is that like this? Maybe not a lot but it reminds me… when I’m in the supermarket I forget why I’m there – to fill the little list. When the rain falls I forget why I’m here (in France, but maybe also in general) – to fill my other little list. My other little list has joy and love and fun and crafts and glue and paint and scissors and fabric and pins and thread and wool and other people’s hens and…..

If I fill my other little fridge with rain and cold and problems and worry it’ll be hard to get anything else in, Mairead.

The rainy season has arrived…. time for a story change!

25 9a

(Lovely day in Cashel, Co. Tipperary on Saturday)

It rained all day yesterday and it looks like it’s ready to do the same today. As always it’s funny how I get used to the weather and think it’ll never be any other way…. then it changes. At the weekend it was dry a little cold and sunny, I thought that was going to last, in fact I can’t remember where I put my rain coat and I don’t remember when I last needed it. It’s like the story of our lives…..

25 9b

(Livestock in the grounds of Cashel Palace enjoying the sunshine)

When we’ve got past childhood and we’re making our way in the world we take with us lots of goodies. We’ve got skills like cooking, organising, speaking French, etc. We’ve got lots of baddies too, like nail-biting, eating with our mouth open, etc. And we’ve got our story. The story that defines us, tells us and the world who we are. Trouble is we are not completely aware of our own story. We’re not completely aware of the story of others either but at least we see their behaviours.

25 9c

(Evening walk beside the Rock of Cashel)

When someone’s behaviour includes repeatedly putting themselves down, you can be sure their story includes a reason to be put down. When someone repeatedly allows others to bully them you can be sure their story includes them as the victim. When someone repeatedly makes fun of themselves, you can be sure their story includes the fool. But there’s good news, we can rewrite the parts of the story we don’t like, the parts that we notice when we notice our behaviour.

25 9d

(Fence post perspective)

We don’t change it by putting ourselves down – that’s just more of the old story. We change the story when we are inspired. When something lights you up, lifts your heart, or just plain interests you – wallow in it!  Play with it. Allow it to inspire a different story.

What lights you up? Mairead.

Hit the nail… not the thumb!

20 8c

(Love my little empty frame)

I was hanging some picture frames on the kitchen wall yesterday. I think it took me two hours but the time flew and my mind wandered to thoughts of “noticing what’s right“, again. Putting my attention on what’s wrong is like hitting my thumb with a hammer…. when what I want to do is hit the nail.


20 8b

(Some of my finished wall… Look Nolene it’s your painting!)

We’ve all had the experience of hammering a nail into a wall. When I was being shown first by my Mum or my Dad, I can imagine I was hyper excited to get the hammer into my hands. It looked so easy and such fun, whacking a bit of metal and making loads of noise. I held the nail in one hand and the hammer in the other and took a big swing… and hit my thumb!


 20 8a

(Hit the nail, hit the nail!)


From that moment on it was no longer fun… I watched my thumb like a hawk and each time I aimed for the nail I was looking at my thumb. Of course I hit it again. After that first lesson it took me a while to go back to hammering a nail and it never seemed as much fun….

20 8d

(Hen picture… Look Ciara it’s the charity shop frame!)

Put your attention on the nail – the thing you want to hit! That might be good grades, or good health. It might be a life purpose or employment. It might be a holiday or friendship or even peace. If you continuously worry (i.e. think about) the opposite – bad grades, ill-health, lack of purpose, unemployment, no holiday, no friends, war – then that’s what you’re aiming for.


You don’t want that do you? Mairead.


Early morning Bath, England…

Big Bird

(I often see huge birds as we drive along French roads and now British roads but I have never managed to get a picture – it took three drive-bys but I eventually got one picture of this bird of prey on a road in Buckinghamshire)

This has been a very busy trip with only small pockets of time to write. This pocket of time is very, very early. The rules would say it’s too early for a sane person on holiday to be awake. One could conclude I am either not awake, not on holidays or insane… or rules can be broken. We’re in Bath today. This will be our last stop before Swansea. We arrived yesterday about 6pm having instructed the sat nav. to stay off all toll roads, all motorways, all highways and to do so via Oxford. It duly obliged and although by the time we arrived in Bath we had been on the road for seven hours we had travelled through the most beautiful places.

Tea at Polly s

(Iced tea and green tea at Polly’s famous tea shop on Marlborough high street – notice I got two tea pots, one with tea and one with extra hot water – like like like)

Every English television program and every movie I have ever seen must have been set on these roads and I relived my childhood as we rode along. Black Beauty could have trotted up beside us at a crossroads and I would not have been surprised. The two guys from Brideshead Revisited may well have passed us on a straight stretch. I definitely heard the voice of the posh guy in Four Weddings and a Funeral when we stopped for tea on Marlborough high street – could it be the town in Birds of a Feather?

Bath Houses

(Bath is beautiful… we’ll be back)

The journey could not have been more different to the previous day when we instructed the sat nav. to take the shortest route, which turned out to be the A1 – a scary place full of big trucks and fast cars – but very efficient. On that day my knowledge of English geography grew exponentially. Not because we visited any of the places but because I was reading the road signs. We were on a mission to visit Bletchley Park where secret messages were decoded during World War II. There’s a museum of computing there also, because it turns out decoding led naturally to coding and so to computing.

Bath Church

(Didn’t realise it when I was taking the picture but between the wall in the foreground and the cathedral behind are the old Roman Baths, from which the city gets it’s name. Turns out the church owned the baths)

And all that gets me thinking about intention. I’m sitting on the bed in another lovely guest house at 5.30am because when we left Ireland last Thursday I intended to write every day of our trip. We found ourselves on the A1 because we intended to get to Bletchley Park in plenty of time to visit before it closed for the day. We travelled through my childhood television experiences because Denis loves to go round bends on the bike. We found ourselves in Bletchley Park because of all the old computers and strangely we also found ourselves together because of computers. We find ourselves in Bath because my friend, Nolene went there once two years ago on a pastry baking course and when she described Bath combined with pastry making, I was hooked and unconsciously setting my intention to be here.

Every place we find ourselves is because of an intention set, either consciously or unconsciously.

Where do you want to find yourself? Mairead.

Is there something you want to do?

One of my friends, Laura, has returned from her second trip this year on the old pilgrim’s way in Spain called the Camino. Laura initially was due to travel with her friends but work commitments meant they had to cancel, so she travelled alone. This was the first time since she got married that she ever needed to travel alone, other than to work related conferences or seminars. Therefore the experience of going abroad alone was not familiar and it wasn’t attractive. Although she did want to go, she was apprehensive about going solo. Anyway, she took her courage in her hands and booked the ticket four days before her flight.

And that’s when she started to panic.

She was able to recall (vividly) every story she’d ever heard of a lone traveler who came to a gruesome end. In an effort to calm herself she started to tell her friends and family how she felt. But far from calming her they were able to provide even more terrifying stories, with definitive advice that she should not go!

Added to this (or maybe because of this) she wasn’t sleeping well, so that by the time she got to Dublin airport she was exhausted and on edge! On the flight things did get a little better because she sat down beside a lovely couple and had a very interesting conversation. That is, until she told them what she was about to do and they had some more stories with bad endings! As the huge cabin door swung open Laura thought the best thing might be to remain on the plane. Of course she couldn’t….. so she got out. Saying goodbye to the couple she set off with her belongings for the next five days (including walking poles) on her back and went to find her bus. There was still time do she stopped at a little cafe, got a coffee and settled herself. As she was about to sip her coffee, there was a loud clatter – both her walking poles lay in a heap blocking the aisle between tables. Embarrassed and annoyed at herself for being incompetent she bent down to pick them up. At the same moment someone else was reaching for the poles, and as happens, smiles were exchanged and conversation began.

“Are you doing the Camino?”

“Yes, you too?”

These were the first words for days that brought calm. For the next four days the two walkers kept each other company. Although some of the walking was difficult it was made easier by the companionship. companionship that just turned up when it was needed.

Since that trip Laura has gone back again – alone – and this time company was provided again. The difference this time was that she found that although she loved talking and listening to the many people she met she knew she didn’t need them to stay with her or to be there for her, she knew she could let them go or she could go and more company would be provided.

In case this sounds a little selfish in the retelling please be assured when the story was told to me I heard only selflessness. The selflessness of allowing others to be themselves and to enjoy them being that without the need to ‘steal’ their time.

Laura is planning to complete the Camino (all 890 kilometers of it!) at her own pace and in her own lifetime.  Alone or not she now knows whatever she needs will be provided.

Coincidentally Mike, a friend I’ve known for a long time called while I was writing this post. I met Mike when he was my boss in a software company, his job was to turn me into a programmer! Since then his life has changed a lot. In 2002 he was a software development manager but now he’s got a psychology degree and works as a counsellor. This isn’t the normal progression of a career in software! It’s also not the way to go to have a normal progression of salary for a man with three teenage children.

Mike was made redundant. He paid off a loan with the lump sum; cancelled his life insurance, his pension and his health insurance; he took a part-time job, and decided to pursue a career in something that had come to his attention by accident.

It’s a terrifying story!

I’m making it sound quick by putting it into one sentence, but it took time and there were lots of scary moments. He says he didn’t have a lot of choice, there wasn’t enough money to pay for the luxury of insurance.

There was only enough for what was needed right now, not what we might need in the future.”

Then he remembers he did have some choice. He could have gone back to a former employer in software and got a full-time job but he didn’t. In software all he could look forward to was retiring, with this new career he was looking forward to every day for the rest of his life.

Even though they had very little money and no ‘guarantee’ that they were protected from what might happen he knew that his (and his family’s) new quality of life was better than it had been. He recalls going for a walk one day after dinner with his wife and noticing the commuters coming out of the train station looking weary and hungry, and he knew he was doing the right thing for him.

And as time passed money came in from unlikely sources and they always had enough. The one near crisis for his teenagers was when they were going to have to sell the car, but in the end the car stayed and the crisis was averted! They now manage to run two cars – without the ‘BIG’ job.

When Laura wanted to go walking on the Camino, she began a journey, she did the things she needed to do to get there (even when she was afraid), and what she needed was provided. Incidentally, one of the things she hung onto in the four terrifying days before the flight was the encouragement she got from people who had travelled the Camino. People who had the courage to begin their journey.

When Mike went to an information day with a relationship counselling organisation as a favour to his wife, he found something he really wanted to do and he began a journey. When he was made redundant, he got an opportunity to make a choice. He did the things he needed to do to get where he wanted to go (even though he had to trust without a guarantee that he and his family would survive financially). And what he needed was provided. One of the things provided was his supportive and encouraging wife, June. Mike says “I couldn’t have done it without her.” And he didn’t have to.

Is there something you want to do? Would it be useful to trust that what you need will come (even if only just in time)? Do you want to start that journey today? Is there someone who has made that journey before? Are you willing to do what you need to do when you need to do it?

Stop asking yourself “Why am I so Stupid?”

Watched a movie called The Fastest Indian on DVD last week. It’s about a guy called Burt Munro from New Zealand who had a dream to set a land speed record on his Indian motorbike across the salt flats in Utah. It’s based on a true story and set in the 1960’s.
In his sixties himself, Burt had perfected his bike to run at speeds above 100 mph, so he worked his passage from New Zealand as cook aboard a ship on route to California. In the end the bike went even faster and the record Burt set is still unbroken over 40 years later.

Anthony Hopkins plays Burt, and really nicely introduces us to a friendly man, with his own ideas and a determination to follow his dream.

He reminds me of my daughter!

I attended a workshop recently where the learning is experiential and particularly about seeing the big picture first. Only then do get to notice the little bits and pieces and to put those bits and pieces into your own jigsaw puzzle. For me this is a very different way to learn and I sometimes struggle and fight with it. But when my picture starts to emerge it is both magnificent and solid.

What’s emerging for me at the moment is the connection between the movies, The Fastest Indian and The Shadow of the Moon and the concept of dealing with problems. In the past when there was something bothering me I thought about it, figured out what I had done wrong, figured out what that meant about me and about others and about life, asked myself over and over “Why did I do …?’, wrote about it, talked to others about it and in general felt terrible about it. I had been doing this for years and had ‘perfected’ my problem-based strategy!

Then I learned a possibility-based strategy. This is where you start at your best and you deal with everything from that place. So, I learned how to use this nearly three years ago, and I am learning to understand it slowly, since then.

Today another piece of my jigsaw fell into place.

When I saw In the Shadow of the Moon (see Recent Post) it had a very strong impact on me. As in life the details of this impact slowly unfold…

When President John F Kennedy predicted that the USA would land a man on the moon and return him safely within the decade he set up a goal for his country and particularly for the men and women who worked in the space program.

The Apollo artifacts in a museum in Cape Canaveral are very flimsy. The pod they parachute down to earth in looks like its made of golden tin foil. The processing ability of the computers they used then is no more powerful than a calculator (just a little heavier!)

Yet… they did it.

Burt Munro had a dream to set a land speed record with his Indian motorbike. When manufactured, this motorbike’s maximum speed was about 50 miles per hour. He worked on it for hours every day, making new parts out of scraps of metal smelted in a pot in the run-down shed where he lived. He used his neighbour’s carving knife to turn his ordinary tyres into high-speed tyres.

Yet…. he did it. Funny enough both stories are set in the 1960’s, but that’s not the link.

When the astronauts and space craft builders were starting to create something that would go to the moon their space ships kept exploding. Lots and lots of problems. I’m not sure but I’m guessing they didn’t spend a lot of time criticising themselves for getting it wrong AGAIN. If they had spent the time going over and over what they did wrong they may never have got to the moon. Their timeframe was set, they had to do the job within 9 years. (Because President Kennedy said they would….)

So they had to look for ways around their problems.

Burt had many, many problems – the biggest – he didn’t have enough money to go to America, was solved by his friends. But when he got to Utah he realised that he could not enter the trials – he hadn’t registered. He didn’t beat himself up and use his energy asking “Why am I so stupid?” His timeframe was set, the event would be over in 3 days.

He looked for ways around his problems.

Both the people in the space program and Burt Munro kept the dream in sight and looked for ways around the problems. All the time assuming they would make it to the moon or to the line drawn across the salt flats in Utah.

Stop wasting your life beating yourself up for doing something wrong. Stop asking yourself Why am I so stupid? Use your problems as feedback to find a way around them, That didn’t work, what else could I try or how could I do this another way? Use the energy saved to keep your moon in view.

By the way, it’s not the dream that’s all that important, they come and go. But the dream is really, really useful because….. in that direction lies your bliss. But that’s another story!