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.

Do I look stupid in this?


Well, hello you! Here we both are (you and me) in the last week… of France, of the daily blogging, of the travelling, of the waking up in a new place every morning. Now what? What will we do next week? What will I spend my daily budget for writing on? What will you be reading with your morning coffee?

(Flowers in the park in La Flèche)

Will we try something different? Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo? Well if you haven’t you might like to google it or hang on, listen, I’ll give you a synopsis: It’s 20 years old and began with a few people challenging themselves to write 50,000 words of a novel for November in 1999. The novel doesn’t have to be finished. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be 50,000 words. (Yep, I know, that’s a lot.) It’s a way to build the habit of writing every day for the month of November. It’s like a kickstart to your next book. Do you want to write a book? Ah go on, you do!

(Look at that lovely sky)

Will we do it? Are you even remotely interested? If you have even a smidgen of interest, could you consider making a commitment? Even to tell one other person? Could you tell me? I won’t tell anyone… unless you want me to.

(And this lovely lane)

What’s stopping you? If you start this November you could have your novel published by next year and then you’ll be able to start your second book, it all starts with this first one. Don’t let anything stop you this year.

(That’s the military college in La Flèche)

Can I tell you a story about what stopped me for so long? Yes? Ok. Once upon a time, I had ginormous fears about what might happen if anyone else saw my writing (let’s be honest I still do…) Or if I told anyone I wanted to write. Or, god forbid, I wrote a book and someone thought it was awful. I would shudder just thinking about how terrible it would be if I made a show of myself. That might be an Irishism, I mean I had ginormous fears about doing something that would make me look stupid.

(Walk towards the light…)

That was enough to stop me doing something that felt very exciting. Something that made me smile just thinking about it. Something creative. Something that was just me expressing me in the world. Looking stupid is not terminal. Stopping myself expressing myself could be.

(Very old gate)

A weird thing happened when I finished Everyday Fearless… nothing. Yes, nothing bad happened when I finished writing, finished publishing and finished sharing my writing. Nothing. To be clear, when I risked looking small and stupid, nothing happened. In spite of it not being perfect, the writing police did not prosecute me. I’m sure some people think it is awful but the big gang of people I imagined laughing at me, didn’t show up either. On the other hand they’re all still out there or more accurately in here but now I know the thing that lowers the volume on their laughter or their criticism, is expression. My expression. Expressing myself. Express yourself. Writing. Or painting. Or drawing. Or whatever creative pursuit excites you.

(Attic windows, red brick chimneys, the church spire and a blue sky – happy day)

Will you take a chance? We could make a show of ourselves. Don’t think too long about this, it’s nearly November. You and I have writing to do. Are you ready?

Making a show of yourself is not terminal, Mairead.

Cut and Paste

2018 4

(Very close up of ice on the bike seat, northern Spain)

Well wouldn’t you know it, I talk about taking photographs and then I completely stop taking them (it’s cold out…) Instead I’m doing something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. Cut and paste photos together. Not sure how to do it yet. Well I can do it with a scissors but I’m not sure how to do it digitally. So I’ll give that a go and add the results here.

Cut and Paste Picture

(Motorway services restaurant in Spain😳)

Hmmm, I find technology very frustrating… Probably shouldn’t blame technology though. I expect it to work a certain way and am disappointed and frustrated when it doesn’t. In this case I don’t have the right software to do the thing that would be a doddle with a scissors and paper… If I had a colour printer here I could do that. I always expect technology to work faster too. Learning how to use it is not part of the plan. So I’ll try something else…

2018 5

(Fuzzy close up of seagull feathers, northern Spain)

This is not very satisfying, I must admit. Maybe I’m going too extreme. On the next one I’ve moved the balance dial just a little and now it’s possible to see the house lights in the distance. So maybe that’s the trick – small balanced changes.

2018 3

(Sunrise at the lighthouse northern Spain)

Might be time for us to move on, the pigeons are starting to think we’re a fixture here. There’s one looking in the window at me and another tap dancing on the roof.

From the pigeon fields of Serpa, Mairead.

Crafting Sunday

2018 6

(Surely no one would attempt to drive up this lane?)

Today is an indoor day. The rain came back so it’s become Crafting Sunday. I brought a cupboard full of craft materials from Ireland. Not a big cupboard by house standards but we could have fitted a small washing machine in there… Fortunately we don’t need a small washing machine because more and more of the supermarkets have laundry facilities. Lucky.

2018 7

(Love these balconies)

But the problem with bringing so much kit is I have to sort through it all to work out what I will make. That’s why Linda’s craft kit was so useful. It had enough but not too much. Too much of a good thing isn’t better… it’s clutter. The great thing about living in the camper is there’s no room for clutter. At home I’m always tempted to leave things hanging around until tomorrow or the next day or next week. After a month of that you can gather a lot of clutter. If we did that here there’d be no room to sleep or eat or cook… or drive away.

2018 8

(Walking through Serpa)

So I tidy after each activity. One thing that used to stop me even starting a craft session was that I’d never get it finished before it was time to tidy up. Today I really needed to make something. You know that feeling? The need for colour or paper or glue or scissors? Maybe it’s not being able to take pictures in the rain. Whatever it is I had to unpack the craft cupboard.

2018 9

(No idea)

I uncovered some supplies and worked away until it was time to go for a walk. Exercise is important, even in the rain. Then it was time for writing. Writing is important even when there’s glue on your fingers. And soon it’ll be time for dinner. Dinner is important… it just is. Anyway I got about an hour of play and I haven’t tidied it away yet but when I do I’ll have a kit of half-finished cards to work on next time and that will make it easier to get back to crafting even when there is very little time.

Happy Crafting Sunday, Mairead.

Spending time with Vera…

2018 2

(Notice the colour for the houses here is white and grey)

I hear there’s more bad weather on it’s way to you. So I won’t mention that it’s been a lovely day here and I’m outside as I write watching the sun go down. There may be rain here tomorrow, may be. Although I was in the tourist office today and the poster was saying that Serpa gets more than 3000 hours of sunshine a year… In one year? Every year? Yes. Yes. It’s going to be very hard to leave now.

2018 5

(Look an angel on top of the spire)

I had a great day in other ways too. You’ll remember the day I interviewed the young man about a week ago? Well since then I’ve been a little bit confused about what to do with my interviews. I keep forgetting they’re still gestating and I wake up in a cold sweat thinking I should be feeding them… if you know what I mean. So today I had a talk to myself and went back to meet the parallel universe me, she wasn’t free so I met someone else.

2018 3

(I like number 26)

I decided to fit in a few pictures of the castle first, then on my way back I spotted a shop called Serpa Lovers. I didn’t know what kind of shop it was but it looked very inviting so I went in. There was a lady behind the counter and all I can say is my Portuguese must be improving because after I said Ola (Hello) and Bom Dia (Good morning. Yes I know… it was afternoon!) she started talking to me in Portuguese. She reverted to English when she saw my face.

2018 12

(They love Serpa… and so do I)

Serpa Lovers is her shop and it supports local produce like the cheese, olive oil, wine, crafts, art and activities. (When I looked at the website there’s loads of other stuff, like music lessons, romantic dinners, hot air ballooning, walking tours, tile painting… Their website has an English translation) I had missed lunch and she said she could make me some tapas. Tapas is my new favourite word so… of course I had tapas. The local cheese had been calling to me for a couple of days now so that’s what I choose and it was lovely. Also, there was herbal tea, not tea bag herbs but dried-and-still-looks-like-herbs herbal tea. I didn’t know which one I wanted so the lady (later I discovered her name is Vera) let me smell all the herbal tea containers and I choose a mix of three, mint, verbena and anise. It was lovely.

2018 4

(I do love the weathered effect)

Then halfway through my sandwich her two sons arrived. How did I know who they were? Sometimes language doesn’t get in the way and you just understand. Not the details but the gist of a scenario. Anyway, somehow we got talking after they left, Vera and I. It turns out she and her husband and the boys used to live in Lisboa. I was thinking, “brave woman to move to a new town with young children” but she talked about the hectic lifestyle, the expensive private school and something being missing so I started to lean in for a story. I wasn’t recording but some words stuck in my head, “the children were growing up between the hours of 8am and 7pm and that’s when they were in school.”

2018 10

(Here’s Vera (on the left) she was smiling all the time not just in the photo! That’s her friend on the right (forgot to ask her friend’s name!) And that’s Serpa Lovers. Look at the cute lampshade!)

An opportunity came up here in this place, Serpa, to do interesting work and also to start a business, so they moved but first they asked their then ten-year-old son’s opinion. And he replied with a question, “will this mean we four will spend more time together?” And that’s when tears came to my eyes because that was such a beautiful, wise thing for a child to ask. Of course the answer was YES from the parents and YES from the wise old soul. And although they work very hard they do spend more time together because they now live in this beautiful town where life is lived at a slower pace. Their children spend less time being driven places or collected from places, they walk to friends houses, they walk to school. At the end of the story both of us had tears in our eyes and I’m welling up again now.

Imagine living in a world where the most important thing is your presence. Mairead.

Expectations and Surprises

2018 1 2

(You might see some smoke coming from the street half way down and off to the right… there’s a woman barbecuing fish outside her house)

I’ve been on walkabout in our new town today, inspired by another exercise from the Creativity Workshop… The one where I meet me (or to be exact me from a parallel dimension) in a piazza in Florence. I’m sitting there in Florence having a coffee while I write in my journal and along comes me. We have a great chat about the differences in our lives. There’s not many differences, actually, but there is one big difference. Love.

2018 6

(Can you see the cute metal steps into this grocery shop?)

Remember how I was telling you about my idea pregnancy? How I get these great ideas all the time and how I fall in love with them but ultimately I fall out of love with them? I think there are a few reasons why I fall out of love, one is fear. Fear of failure. Another is giant expectation. Giant expectation that everything will go well. And finally a huge reason I fall out of love with ideas is to do with money. Financial success. I think they are useless… unless they bring me money, when I already have enough money to survive.

2018 1

(This is a statue of Pedro Nunes, he’s a famous mathematician, google him. He was born here)

It turns out I was disrespecting my amateur status. The dictionary (well the apple dictionary) says amateur is a person who engages in a pursuit especially a sport on an unpaid basis. Or more cruelly, a person considered contemptibly inept at a particular activity. Fortunately, these are not the only definitions and last week at the workshop I got the definition that best suits me. The me that lives in this parallel dimension (note: anytime you think this is weird remind yourself, nothing weird is going on here…) An amateur is someone who does what they do for the love of it and not for financial gain. Me in the other dimension (note: you know what to do) has embraced this definition. She does what has to be done to bring in enough money to survive and then she nourishes the idea she loves. She still has fear but that does not stop her. She has dropped giant expectations and instead enjoys the giant excitement of surprises.

2018 5

(Ciara! Fred has a Fred in a parallel dimension sunning himself here in Portugal)

So this morning after breakfast (and after doing the jobs that have to be done) I went off to meet the other me at a cafe by the river. I brought my journal and I ordered a coffee. She’s a great listener. She understand me, she doesn’t judge me, and I think she might even like me. I wanted her to tell me what to do now, this minute, to move my latest idea along faster but she wouldn’t. She reminded me of the slow gestation period. So I got a bit irritated with her. She didn’t mind, she just looked at a seat two tables over. I followed her gaze.

2018 2

(Blue tiles, blue sky)

Right so, we have to jump back here. To the Interview exercise. You remember Virginia? From a couple of days ago? She of the great story? I know I haven’t told you her story and it’s not ready yet but I will tell you as soon as I can. For now you just have to remember that I was interviewing Virginia and the process of temporarily becoming Virginia had a huge (maybe even profound? no, too pretentious, remember expectations? huge is grand) impact on me. Well that’s kinda my latest idea. (Are you keeping up? Should I set up a help desk?) Can’t go into details about the idea as I’m honouring its gestation period. Suffice to say it involves interviewing people… Got it?

2018 4

(An open door…)

So there I am this morning following the gaze of me (from a parallel dimension) when I see a young man sitting at a table two over. I say, you can’t be serious! Me (from a parallel dimension) says absolutely nothing…

Me: I can not interview him!

Me (from a parallel dimension):  Still says nothing…

Me: What if he doesn’t speak English?

Me (from a parallel dimension): …silence

Me: What if he thinks I’m selling something?

Me (from a parallel dimension): …silence

Me:What if he thinks I want to be his friend?

Me (from a parallel dimension): …nothing

Me: What if he wants to be my friend?

Me (from a parallel dimension): …nada

Me: What if he expects something?

Me (from a parallel dimension): What if he doesn’t?

2018 5 1

(I love the way this door is shedding its skin)

I can hardly believe what happened next… I picked up my bag and phone, I got up and went over to the young man and after confirming that he did indeed speak English (he was bilingual! Portuguese and English! I’m not joking) I told him about my idea. He talked to me. He didn’t expect anything and he didn’t want to be my friend.

This is me enjoying the giant excitement of surprises. Mairead.

Is this morning sickness?

2018 4

(I like this house in the middle of the city. It’s behind a big gate, I peeped in…)

I think I might be pregnant or I’m a gardener… it’s one or the other, I’m not sure.

2018 1

(Who lives at 55?)

When I write a blog post I just sit down and start dumping all the things that are in my head into the computer. Then I delete some things, add some things, change some things, mix up some things, until I’m happy enough with what I see and then I post it. I never expect the first dump of words that come out of my head to be the finished post. I have to let them come out, not criticise them, not mistrust them, not judge them, not shout at them, just allow them. Allow them to sit in the computer for a while before it’s time for the pruning. Only then will they get a chance to thrive. This week at the workshop I realised I am a gardener for my blog.

2018 2 1

(There’s a garden behind this door…)

Last night I couldn’t sleep (me either, Julie!) because I have a great idea and I don’t know what to do. If you know me or get me or even just read me you will know that I say the sentence I have this great idea, regularly. It’s one of my favourite sentences in the whole, entire world. It’s always closely followed by a bunch of my least favourite sentences in the whole entire world, That’s a terrible ideaBut how will I do it? I can’t do it! Someone else has already done it! People will think I’m ____. What if I can’t do it? I hate this idea!

2018 3 1

(This is a wise owl’s house)

This morning (3am ish) I started to think that maybe I need to be a gardener for my ideas? The gestation period for the blog posts lasts a few hours and then it’s born, but the gestation period for an idea lasts much longer. I’ve heard, a good gardener honours the gestation period of his seeds. He does not prod at the seed. He does not start pruning as soon as the first teeny tiny leaf pops out of the seed. He does not expect every seed will survive. He does not warn each seeds that his entire reputation and the reputation of his family depends on them and they better perform well.

2018 1 1

(Lines, angles and branches)

I am gestating a seed of an idea. It might take a while. It might take months. But nothing is gong to happen unless I put the seed in fertile soil, on a sunny window and water it. Even then nothing might happen. But I love this idea so much I will trust it to do its best to grow. This reminds me of a quote the I love from the Talmud, Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow! Grow!” I will be the angel for my idea.

Turns out I’m not pregnant, I’m an angel, Mairead.


2018 2 1

(Welcome to Portugal)

So it’s the week before my workshop in Lisboa and I thought it might be sensible to create some blog posts so I am doing some overtime to cover myself for the duration of the workshop. I have been wondering what to write because I have already written everything that happens (or that comes into my head) each day and posted it in that day’s blog, so there’s nothing left. But then I remembered…

2018 1 1

(Lunch. Isn’t that an adorable box?)

I didn’t blog much last year and I missed it. So before we left this year I decided I would write regularly, definitely weekly. Then I got kinda excited about the idea of writing every day but I didn’t think that would be possible… turns out it was. And now this week I’ll be writing twice a day. I’m doubly excited and doubly worried… but I’ve written previously about my plan to notice my thoughts and that plan doesn’t allow much space for worrying. So here goes…

2018 2

(Make mosaics)

One of the lessons we are learning as we travel is that when you see an opportunity that you want, you really need to go for it. Right when you see it. Don’t wait. Although there’s every reason to believe it will come around again… after a little discomfort. When we see a public toilet as we have a coffee or as we visit a tourist attraction, we use it (ok not every single one).

2018 7 1

(Fill up your gas bottle when ever you get a chance)

If we arrive at an aire and there’s water we top up and we empty our old water. If it’s possible to empty the toilet cassette, we empty it… usually. Last week we didn’t, I might have been distracted. We were in the grand aire by the flooding river. They had all the services but as we were leaving it started to rain, heavily… sure we’re on our way to a campsite, all campsites have cassette empty services. Turns out not all campsites have cassette empty services. There was a little discomfort. I won’t go into it but we will not be making that mistake again….

2018 1

(Travel to warmer countries!)

Going for opportunities is how we came to be living this way, travelling for months each year. It seemed to be possible so we went for it. Going for it can be harder than it seems. It might seem crazy but I find it difficult to leave home and travel. I haven’t shared that truth with many people. It seems ungrateful and a little insane, when so many people wish they could do this and can’t and I can. Or is that normal?

2018 2 1

(Walk in the leaves)

I suppose I’m saying opportunities come with down sides, like the rain falling as you empty your cassette or having to say goodbye to your sister when she’s only just got home. But opportunities also come with up sides and unless you go for it you’ll never know what those up sides are.

From virtual me, (while real me is having a great time at the workshop!) Mairead.