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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.”

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(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.

Feeling the Sky

IMG 0045

(Star rising)

I wish I could show you the sky last night. It was the same as the sky above you but maybe you weren’t outside. Or maybe you were busy and you forgot to look up. Anyway, last night the sun started to set at 7.30pm and by 8.30pm I was sitting outside. I thought of taking a picture but they just don’t look the same and anyway it’s the feeling of being outside combined with the looking up that makes the difference and no one’s invented the camera to reproduce that… yet.


(We are here)

It felt like I was surrounded by a warm blanket, a knitted one that lets the light in, but in small pin holes. The blanket was black and dark black in the places where the trees blocked the sky. Surrounded by the blanket I felt safe and loved. I read somewhere recently the exact amount of time it takes for the light from a star to reach our eyes on earth. I can’t remember the number now but it was big – years and years. I heard that before but a bit like forgetting to look up at the sky I forgot that we live on a small rock in the middle of a huge space…


(Coffee and cards)

I worry about lots of little things. Like being late for something. Like saying something stupid. Like insulting someone unintentionally. Like doing something that makes people think about me. I never consider that people might be thinking something lovely, I worry that they are thinking something unlovely. The thing is, people rarely think either lovely or unlovely things about others, they mainly think about themselves… like I do when I worry. I worry about big things too. Like the rough seas between Ireland and France. Like the health of my family. Like my children. Like the people who are living in war. Like the people who are escaping war to find peace.


(Isn’t the postal system great, though?)

But then sometimes I don’t worry and I am not afraid… and when I am not afraid I am like I was sitting outside last night under the sky with the light of billions of stars reaching me on this small rock in the middle of a huge space and all is well. I am at peace. I am loved.

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(Star setting)

I wished I could show you the sky last night so that you would feel at peace and you would know you are loved, Mairead.

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.

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(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: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Graiguenamanagh-Mairead-Hennessy-ebook/dp/B014V4EPXS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441479315&sr=8-1

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 Amazon.co.uk 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.

Kickstart Your Creativity in 2014


Creative Space Sessions.

You might think you haven’t a creativity bone in your body and you might be right!

Creative bones need to be nurtured and what have you been doing to nurture them? Saying things like, “I’m no good at drawing… “, “I’m useless at sewing…”, “I’m not as good as….”, “I have no talent for…”, “I can’t write… ?”

What if you were saying “Everyone is Creative”, “Creativity is Good for Me”, “Creativity is fun” instead?

Come along to some Creative Space Sessions. You can exercise your creativity by making stuff, or copying stuff already made, or getting inspiration to make something you never thought of making. You also get loads of encouragement.


Combining Life Coaching with crafts helps you notice how useful Creativity can be in all aspects of your life. You’ll learn how to connect with the less logical,and more playful you, the you that sees lots of possibilities.

You don’t need any previous experience (but if you have ever glued paper together then you’re ahead of the posse!)

Would you love to make stuff? Are you making stuff? Would you like to be making (more) stuff? Coming along to a place that allows you to make stuff sounds like a good thing, right?

If your life is busy, it can be difficult to slow down when you want to, or need to… Creative Space Sessions provide an opportunity to slow down and catch your breath.


Sessions Starting From Monday 20th January 2014  – but you can join anytime….

Where: Greystones, Co. Wicklow

Time: Every Monday 10am to 12.30pm

Cost: €15 per session (includes supplies) Minimum 4 sessions.

Contact: Mairead Hennessy 086 827 2332 Email: mairead@hennessynet.com

Note: Places are limited.

More information at www.maireadhennessy.com

Fearlessness in Baby Steps


(French window)

Ok….. so, I’m supposed to be practicing (from the dictionary: the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use) my fearlessness this week. I was figuring that might include some standing up on a soapbox or knocking on people’s doors or listening to a lot of criticism. It turned out to be a lot simpler than that. (Thankfully.)


(French gate)

But before fearlessness there came little drops of sunshine. I have no idea who reads my words, unless they tell me. So I don’t know if the person who sent me this beautiful Ted talk about creativity read my last post. Or the person who met me for coffee…. Or the two people who gave me massages… Or the person who listened without asking me anything… Or the person who sent me a text to tell me she was doing lots more creative things since talking to me… Or the person who told me she was thinking of me… Or the person who sent me a link to hens (yes hens)… Maybe their kindness was a coincidence, but this week I got a heap of kindness. And the best bit? No one encouraged me. No one told me it was easy. No one told me to just do it. No one told me not to do it. No one pointed out that I didn’t know how to follow my dream… The silence was beautiful, thank you 🙂


(French garage doors)

And in the silence there was the first fearlessness – listening to myself. You might be surprised to learn that the one who thinks I should be doing things better… is me. Funny that. (Well, no not that funny, really.) Yep, there’s no group of protestors with banners outside my door calling TRY HARDER IN THERE! The protest is inside. This might be a good time to silence the protest inside my head.


(French church door)

And in that (at least partial) silence there was the second fearlessness. Anytime I’ve encouraged others to practice fearlessness (or any other new behaviour) I’ve known it needs to be done in baby steps. And it needs to include gentleness as you would towards a baby taking their first steps. Loudly shouting at the baby to GET UP OFF THAT FLOOR AND WALK, NOW! rarely brings success. This was a good time to practice the baby-step theory.


(French hiding door)

So, my itsy, bitsy, baby step happened quietly, gently at a small table in a pretty little coffee shop. I sat with an old friend (she’s not old, she’s… ah, you know what I mean) who definitely didn’t read my post and I haltingly (at first) began to tell her about my hopes and dreams for getting other people to connect to their creativity and to their peace… and no one died… and she understood… and then we talked about something else.

Brene Browne

(And my favourite sister sent me this photo-quote… It’s Brené Brown who is also running a creativity course… with Oprah! Creativity is very in…..)

I’m grand, how are you? Mairead.

I’m bursting to share this thing…..



AAAAAh I was taking to someone over the weekend and they asked me what I was up to and I mentioned my Kickstart you Creativity course was starting in November. And as I mumbled and stuttered through some kind of an explanation I realised I couldn’t talk about it. I can’t talk about this thing I’m bursting to share…. It. Is. So. Frustrating. And of course my fallback for a solution to my inability to talk is to beat myself up. Today, I’m going to do something different for a few minutes, here….


(Love in the Mist)

Because I know most of you don’t live anywhere near the town on the east coast of Ireland and the west edge of Europe where I am going to run my course it makes it easier for me to tell you. I’ll write to you about my tiny little dream that I’m too afraid to speak about out loud… and I can hide behind my writing. This post is just for me (note to self: is it time to admit that this whole blog is just for you?) I don’t know what I’m going to write. Maybe by the end I’ll have a moment of acceptance or a moment of clarity or just a big meltdown. I do know I will stop at the bottom, post it and tomorrow I will write about something else.


(Mushrooms… bursting through the soil)

But today it’s about this: I’m bursting to share a thing that brings me peace and calm! But it’s too, too, too precious for me to bring it out into the light. It might get attacked by marauding bands of baddies….. Ok that sounds crazy. I know. I know it sounds crazy, but… Remember when you were little and you got this great present from your favourite uncle/aunt/mother’s best friend/rich shopkeeper? It was so great! And you wanted to show your friends, didn’t you? And you ran out to the green/road/school and you said in your little girl/boy voice “Look at this great thing Uncle John gave me!” And that moment when you stopped speaking was the happiest you were for the rest of the day because kids can be cruel and they didn’t share your enthusiasm or even your interest in your great thing or your wonderful Uncle John.


(Beauty underneath)

So you learned a clear lesson – keep the best stuff to yourself. Keep the stuff that means the most to you to yourself, hidden from the light in a safe place. Even if it means you can’t use it. Like the tiny china tea set that I got one year out of the blue from a friend of my Dad’s. It was fun sharing it with my dolls but it would have been so much more fun sharing it with my brother and my friends… but I couldn’t trust my best stuff, the things closest to my heart, with them so we all lost out. When I couldn’t share my china tea set no one got to experience how great it was – not even me. I was afraid it was going to break or my heart was going to break because they wouldn’t think it was as amazing as I did!

Aaaaaah and here I am again!


(Fence in Altamont)

When this thing began it was a tiny dream and a minuscule little thought. I wanted to uncover a process that would allow me to share what I found – peace, calm, and the fun of creation – with others. It grew when I was in France, when I went out to the garden each day and I felt myself connecting to peace as I began the process. And it worked. I started to think I could really do this. I could definitely share this process and maybe it could help other people connect to peace.


(Moss growing quietly on a rock)

Then I began to have doubts… Would it actually work? Is there a path through creativity to peace and calm in a human’s life? A sometimes difficult, challenging, even awful life? If there is would my little process find it for others? Who would want this, maybe I’m the only one who wants to connect to peace and calm? Now that I think of it, maybe getting basic physical needs met is more important. Needs like food, warmth, health, money….



But the doubts (even if they are valid) are just a smokescreen… they are hiding my fear and my sadness. And I can’t blame the children who taught me the lesson. I can’t blame their parents. I have no one left to blame but myself… and that isn’t working too good…. so I’m going back to my precious things. The precious things, the china tea set or my course are so connected that I may be able to free one with the help of the other.


(Butterfly and Lavender)

I don’t need encouragement, I have lots of encouragement, I have to step out on this ledge on my own….

I don’t need anyone to tell me you big eejit just do it! I am telling myself that all the time…. and it isn’t working.

I don’t need anyone to tell me it’s easy…

I don’t need anyone to point out that I have been encouraging others to follow their dream and I can’t even do it myself… I know.

I don’t need encouragement not to do it…… I am bursting out of my skin to do this… and I am scared shirtless.

And that reminds me, I read a quote this morning: Fearlessly accept the reality; then fearlessly set about transforming what needs to change. — Elena Brower.

So while I’m revving up my fearlessness, maybe you could share your precious thing? Mairead.

If you only had one… What would you do… With that day?

0910d(Cute (Little gazebo in the walled garden in Marley Park)

I have lots of old magazines. I brought three with me to France to use in my collages and montages. I didn’t really think three would be enough, which reminds me of the glue and how enough that was… Anyway, it turned out three was more than enough and I’ve decided not to break into my big magazine stash until I really, really need to. Maybe keep them for my course (details here!)


(… and nice door…)

So yesterday I was paging through one of the three – an Image magazine from 2010 – and I was selecting colours and pictures and I stopped at a page with a photograph of the fashion designer Paul Costelloe. He was smiling, surrounded by lovely models. The headline of the page said “if I only had one day…” and the text was full of the things Paul Costelloe would do on his perfect day. You’re probably way ahead of me in terms of what he wanted… It was simple things, like cycling in his scruffy jeans and eating fluffy potatoes!


(… and strange carving….)

Something made me stop on this page. When that happens usually I start thinking about it but my time spent in France putting my attention on big picture thinking (creativity) has had an effect. So, I got out my tools and started to play with the page. I tore it out and roughed it up a bit with paint, ink and sandpaper. Only then did I notice his hands… In the picture he’s clapping, as they do at the end of the runway when all the models have modelled a new collection and everyone is clapping the designer and the designer is clapping too. So his hands were up and I could see the palm of one hand. There was a long jagged cut running down his thumb to his palm which was covered in plasters. He must have hurt his hand.


(…and a Medlar tree  – thanks to the Happy Pear for the name)

It turns out I had some preconceived notions about this man and they fell away as I looked at his hand…The story I was believing was about a famous man with loads of money, who could do anything he wanted and he had it easier than me… And now? Now I was making up a new story about him… about a man who worked hard, his job caused him some pain, in fact it might not be easy, it’s possible he found it hard to drop everything and do some things I take for granted. Sure, he still had money but now I was wondering what my perfect day might hold, because simple things like scruffy jeans and fluffy potatoes are well within my price range.

So… what would you do with your perfect day? Mairead.

Where do all the clothes come from?


(We had no idea there was a lovely walled garden in Marley Park, about 30 minutes from home)

Right so we’re back where we started, everything’s the same but nothing’s the same. And my most pressing question is… where did all the clothes come from? I spent the weekend washing and drying the clothes we brought to France. Lots of clothes. Plenty for a month of warm, little chilly, warm again (in other words, mixed) weather. But as these clothes were washing and drying there was still a wardrobe full of other clothes that we had not taken to France. Somehow we had survived without them. Somehow we didn’t need them. Then what are they for? Why are they lurking in our cupboards? If I packed them up and put them in the attic for a few months would we even notice? Probably not.


(…with a fountain)

But I’m not going to do that. I already have a ton of other distractions to fill my time, de-cluttering will have to wait until my schedule allows…. ah and therein lies a problem. I need a schedule…. a schedule that allows for stuff that can’t be ignored and yet gives the important stuff (creating stuff) high priority. A schedule that notices when I am tired and insists on rest. That notices when I am spending too much time wandering around having great ideas and not enough time implementing the previous great ideas and insists (gently) on focus. Complaining bit in next paragraph, skip if you’re having a nice day and/o you have real problems and don’t need to hear my “problems”….


(… and hens! And a cockerel…)

It was so easy when I was away….

  • Grocery shopping only once a week.
  • Lovely coffee and croissants.
  • Waking in the countryside.
  • Nowhere I needed to be.
  • Able to ignore notices from Revenue.
  • In fact able to ignore all the post – what post?


(… and pigeon houses…)

Ok I’m back… I need a schedule… hang on I just realised something. I can have all (almost) of those things I’m lamenting. Right? Ok you’ll have to read the previous paragraph after all… First, I can go grocery shopping once a week – we’ll call that Eat the Fridge. Second, the coffee won’t be a problem until we run out of the supplies we brought back (probably a month)  – we’ll call this Cold Brew at Home. Third, walking – just walk – we’ll call this Just Walking. Fourth, where do I need to be? Probably not as many places as I think…. We’ll call this Staying Home. I could so ignore Revenue but we’d probably have to call it Paying the fine. So instead I could open the post once a week? We’ll call this Friday feels like the best day for post. Sorted – no problems.


(… and flowers)

I feel better now, oh hang on what about all the clothes? Mairead.

Just Walk

You might remember my budding exercise regime? I was going to walk everyday. I was even thinking of walking on the wet days.Well, it’s been faltering a bit. Now, I had read somewhere that if you can repeat something for 21 consecutive days it will become a habit. That’s what I wanted to do with the walking. It was having a shaky start. Then yesterday it got a bit of a boost. I was reading twitter (it’s shorter than email or Facebook…) last night and someone had retweeted a comment from a lady who wished “that I could wake up in the morning on the Camino and just walk.”


(Some more free food)

It was a simple enough sentence but something about it was captivating. This woman had been walking on the Camino (the Pilgrim’s Walk in Spain) earlier this year and her love for it came through in her very few words. It was a practical example to me of how one person’s passion transfers to another. It did to me.


(No hunting here, seen on edge of forest I passed)

I read twitter to get recipes from The Happy Pear, to look at cartoon drawings, to hear the news (in very small chunks), to be inspired by Brene Brown or to be amused by Ellen. But last night I went to sleep dreaming of what it must feel like to want to walk, even walk all day long. It wasn’t something I had really felt before… the wanting bit.


(Big sunflower face, lots of sunflowers on my walk)

So when I woke up this morning I was raring to go. I put on my new walking shoes and set out the door. Backtrack, first I had my breakfast and then I put on my shoes and went out the door. Although my mind was very excited and ready for a long walk, my body was less than enthusiastic. So I promised it (am I the only one who talks to her body?) that we would just take one step at a time and if things got tough we could always turn back. And then I began to think about the lady and her wish to “just walk” and it was different. Just walk is much easier than exercise regime. Just walk is simple and reminds me of something old-fashioned, an older time, maybe a time when the shops closed on Sundays and a half day on Wednesdays. And walking was entertaining, fun, social.


(One little flower popped out after the rain)

It was so easy I took another Just walk after lunch, Mairead.