Courageous, Confident or Just Plain Crazy!..Driving tips for Ireland from a Canadian Girl

“If you believe you can-YOU WILL!”

 Upon returning safely from a 3 week trip to Ireland, I thought I would share a few driving tips. 

Being a Canadian girl, traveling alone in Ireland…  

Driving on the ‘left side’ of the road- was my biggest fear. 

Do one thing a day that scares you!  Check!

Do one thing a day that scares you! Check!

However, I am a stubborn Virgo and my desire to see the countryside on my own timeline…outweighed my fear.   I was praying to find a cute Irish driver to drive me around, but apparently that was not in my divine plan.



It was just me, my rental car, GPS and a few trusty road maps.  

With a quick lesson on a deserted beach under my belt- I headed out. 


Driving lesson on the Beach

Reminding myself that people drive in Ireland everyday.  I am proud to report… I survived the challenge and conquered my fear. 


I have to say I was never more PRESENT in my LIFE!

Happily, I returned my rental car without a scratch, covered many miles, saw beautiful vista’s, almost on one tank of Diesel.


My Rental Car- Safely returned

If you’re planning a road trip to Ireland…Read on.

Tips before you leave-

  • ·      GET a GPS- it will be your best friend
  • ·      Bring a CDW Insurance travel letter-if you have coverage on your credit card
  • ·      Bring music or buy a good Irish music CD-Irish radio talk is endless and not very soothing for the nervous soul.  

Most of the rental cars in Ireland are manual- Shift on the Left.  Pedals and Clutch are the same as in North America.  Automatic Transmissions are available, but harder to find and more expensive.  I rented my car before I left through Costco online and brought a travel letter from my visa company to wave the insurance.  If you’re not covered… I highly recommend getting the insurance.  The roads are rather narrow and the tour buses are very large.  Don’t be scared.   If I survived, so can you!  

Here are my Tips… 

  • ·      Put the correct spelling in GPS- A 1 letter slip up sent me the opposite direction.
  • ·      Make sure Rental car has insurance, floor mats and a good old fashion road map- it rains a lot in Ireland and a missing floor mat makes for a very slippery clutch.  Learned this the hard way.
  • ·      Gas- for you and the car.  Road snacks and proper hydration
  • ·      Stay LEFT- LOOK RIGHT, TURN LEFT… repeat, repeat.
  • ·      Always keep body to middle of road or white line to middle of road
  • ·      Learn Roundabouts- Trick: you can ride them around and around if you miss your exit.  I also heard the locals do stop and wait, if you happen to go the wrong direction.
  • ·      For the most part Trust your GPS- It will reroute you, however when in doubt or in the middle of nowhere.  STOP and ASK a local for directions.  Remember all roads eventually lead somewhere…unless the road is closed…reroute via a local.  The Irish are very kind, patient and more than willing to help.
  • ·      Use side mirrors to gauge the edge of the road. 
  • ·      Back into parking stalls whenever possible.
  • ·      Travel early to avoid Tour buses.
  • ·      Have money for toll roads on the M50.
  •        Give yourself ample time.  Time pressures create stress and not a clear mind.
  • ·      Practice YOGA.  Breath Deeply, Fully Exhale.  Relax shoulders and fingers.  Stretch occasionally.  Pull over and cry when necessary.  Set intention for safety and good weather.  Expect a few roadblocks. 


    Bonus: The sheep do not move.

My Mantra’s

  • ·      If you believe you can, you will!
  • ·      I am a good driver… I will get to my destination safely.
  • ·      All roads lead to somewhere. 


Benefits of driving on the opposite side:

  • Increased Alertness & Awareness= Present Moment Living
  • Challenge your fears.  Success= Empowerment
  • ·           Senses are heightened.

Go dté sibh slán…May you go safely


Enjoy the beauty!


Bonus tip:  Bring a 3 prong adapter.


Adapter for your electronics.



Austen Fine Art




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Are Goblins eating up your Creativity?


Without fear and illness, I could never have accomplished all I have.~Edvard Munch

Question:  What keeps me from creating?

Answer: The Goblins.   They are the thoughts that run around and around in my mind causing all kinds of FEAR and DRAMA.

I recognize the demons of anxiety that scream all my faults at me LOUD and CLEAR!

They are not the truth of who I am. This I know for sure.

They just yell really loud… Like annoying music… it grates on your nerves.

The Goblins lure you to play with them. They are masters at persuasion.

I can choose to participate or sit on the sidelines and watch the show.

It is similar to watching a painfully bad movie…worse because it is harder to turn off the big screen in my mind…it is even harder to detach from the reactive emotions that raise my blood pressure and make me short of breath.

The Goblins and I are closely related. We know each other well.

On good days. I choose not to play.  On a bad day, the game is harder to say NO to.

The pressure takes its toll- like any good pressure cooker – this can result in the top blowing off at some poor passer by or worse yet someone you love.

If you can catch it early, just as it starts to boil, you can make a change.


Play better music or cool down in an Epson salt bath (throw in some Lavender for extra spice)

Make a better choice.

Choose to stay out of the fire. I prefer to sit on the sidelines and roast marshmallows.

This takes lots of patience.

It is not easy. The Goblins are very quick and efficient.

Invite them in. Get to know them intimately.

Tell them to have a rest and then turn up the good music and go CREATE!

Happy Halloween.


PS/ sharing one of my favorite poems



I LOVE travel.  Small things always stick with you.  Today I remembered the saying “Mind the Gap”.

More than a few years ago, on a trip to London, England, was where I first heard the saying “Mind the Gap”.

“Mind the Gap” is a warning to train passengers to take caution while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform.  The voice played over and over again.  The message was clear.  Pay attention.

The voice did not say “Do not Cross” or “Stay on your side of the line”.  It just reminded you to be mindful when you cross.

It is hard to step on the train with one foot.  The end result would be a physical disaster.  Split in two- not a pretty sight.

Yet in my life the things I really LOVE, I carefully place one foot in.  Soon, I begin to feel split in two.  Trying to be the best at everything ( gift and curse of a perfectionist) eventually not doing anything well and feeling drained and frustrated.  The other foot I leave in familiar territory, my comfort zone.  The place I know well.  Even when this place is no longer serving me, I feel safe here.  This split causes me great suffering.  It is hard to be pulled in many directions.

This summer I spent a few days alone in Victoria, wondering what I was doing there.  Reminding myself that I was there to take time for me.  So I sat on a rock for 4 hours in contemplation.  With an amazing view of the ocean.


I realized that I needed to JUMP.  Both feet in!  What would that feel like?

As a child swinging off a rope into a safe pond-Jumping is exhilarating!  As an adult with responsibilities and preconceived ideas of what is right and accepted…the thought scares the crap out of me…Yet I suffer.  Complain…excuses, always excuses…all to familiar with this pattern.  Not going there.  I realize to end the suffering I need to jump into my life fully committed.  Good thing I was wearing my purple favorite Nikes.  JUST DO IT.


It was in that moment that I decided to just step fully into my authentic life.  Stop hanging on to the edge.  Let go.  Be Clear-Set my intentions.  Be my own captain.  Steer my ship.

Mind the Gap.  Eventually to get to your destination you must step on the train.  With BOTH feet.  It is not that scary when you have someone to walk with.  We can lean on each other.

Let’s walk together….


“There are always two choices. Two paths to take.  One is easy.  And its only reward is that it’s easy.”  ~ Unknown

Art Camp 2013-Conquering Fears

First Annual Art Camp 2013

You teach what you need to Learn… Nothing like spending 4 Days,  28 hours with 8 pint sized artists 7-11years old…

Will I survive?? Heck ya!  I get to be a child again.  I was up everyday early, excited like a kid on Christmas morning.

The girls arrived each day a little earlier.  That is a good sign.  They are COMMITTED!

Number ONE skill to have as an artist.  Discipline, Commitment and a LOVE of ART is key to leading a creative life. We began the day with Yoga.  Finding our breath, looking inward, grounding and connecting.  Day 1- they can barely stay still vs Day 4- when half way through class they asked, “When is the story coming?  When can we lie down and rest.  That is my progress…


“What next?”  Favorite question of the day (Actually this question is on constant replay)

“Art is next,” I reply.    We played with watercolor, pastel, acrylic, sketching, printing.

Creating our Masterpieces with intention.


What I loved most was the sense of community.  We had guests come share their expertise.  Jesse the Fire Twirler, Jay the Balloon Artist and Shauna the Prayer Flag Artist all helped to empower the kids to believe in themselves.   Providing a space to create with freedom, teaching them to share, watching the fears set in.  Balloon twisting and popping struck a few nerves.  Does that fear ever go away??

IMG_0235IMG_0275 IMG_0174

Bike riding was a challenge that I was not quite expecting.

All was going well- until the first BIG HILL…

Top of the hill

T: “The hill looks so BIG!  I am scared!”

M:  “It’s ok, just take your time, go slow.  Use your brakes.  YOU CAN DO IT!” Bottom of the hill

T: “ I DID IT!  It wasn’t that bad, I am proud of myself.”  I smile.

Off we go…then I hear sssssssszzz.  I stop smiling.

T:  “Michelle, Something is wrong with my bike.”

M:  “It’s a flat tire-oh boy.”  My challenge.  We are far away from home- no tire tube.

T: “What are we going to do?”

M:  I pause, “Lets go play and sketch at the river.”  Truth is I need to think about this one.

We all had a great time at the river.  Cooling off, playing with dogs.  It was 37 degrees.  Time to get back.  Little 7 yr old trouper artist, pushed her bike over 5 km home.  Not a tear shed- I was so proud of her.  She is a true artist!  Brave, Strong, Committed.   The other girls get a GOLD STAR for their patience and understanding.  Popsicles for all!! IMG_0933

When you have a Fear it is wise to find someone you respect that has walked the path ahead of you.  The teacher can relate, as they have had their own experience.  The unknown is scary. You wonder…Am I good enough?  Will I be accepted?  Will other judge me?   Am I capable?   Very Fearful thoughts indeed.

The teacher has learned through personal experience to challenge those thoughts.

Nourish yourself, have fun, choose Love over Fear, Support others. Be Brave, Be strong, Be authentic.  JUST BE!

In the creative process we take time to look inward- to stir our imagination-to feel what inspires us and turn our inspiration into something we can share.

Together- We MAKE ART!!!!    MAKE ART!!!!   MAKE MORE ART!!!!

It is in the process that we learn to overcome our fears, our self-doubt, have some fun Explore. Inspire and Believe…

 Manifest your Masterpiece.

In Creative Spirit,



“When you face the fear…it loses its power”