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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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    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. 

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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

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Enjoy the beauty!

Michelle

Bonus tip:  Bring a 3 prong adapter.

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Adapter for your electronics.

 

 

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Celebrating Birthdays and the Element of Surprise

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Nature’s Birthday Candles 18×36 Oil     http://www.michelleausten.ca

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”  ~Dr. Seuss

My Son Tyler is turning 22 tomorrow. Today I am going to bake a cake.

This morning, as I drink my tea and reflect on all the birthdays we have been lucky to celebrated. Soccer parties, laser tag, bowling, water slides, space center YYC, the list goes on.   We always have a family dinner with a birthday cake. The day he asked for a Costco birthday cake with a soccer ball,  I cried…  moms ego took a hit. Thankfully, that was the only year he requested a bought cake.

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Tyler on his 19th Birthday

I love to bake. Warming up the oven on a cold day, the smell of delicious aroma filling my home, feeling the heat of the oven, hearing the whip of the beaters and seeing the smile on the face of my kids when I surprise them with a cake.

I love the feeling of pushing the icing around to cover the cake with a big butter knife. Making sure I get the peaks of the icing just perfect with lots of variation of shape, covered with colored sprinkles in Tyler’s favorite color.

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Watching the element of surprise when they realize their favorite angel-food cake with colored flecks and boiled icing has money carefully placed inside of it.

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I am a mom and an artist. Not a professional baker, but the feeling is the same in every area. Whether painting, baking or theming a birthday party, the familiar feeling of inspiration arises!  Exploring, experimenting and sharing creations.   Spreading the icing reminds me of pushing paint around the canvas, the way it smells and mixes together, the way it feels. Oil paint is buttery, like thick creamy buttercream icing.

The element of surprise is something I encourage you to do in your art. Play with the paint, let go of a desired outcome.  This approach is more fun and less stressful.  Tyler is the master of going with the flow of life. I learn a lot from him everyday.  He is methodical, patient and kind.

A quiet moment in nature.

A quiet moment in nature.

The painting “Natures Birthday Candles”  reminds me of Tyler.

“Wild” is a magical bear with a great imagination and a quest for adventure. I started painting the bear and watched with patience as the painting came to life. His friends magically show up, they are like the sprinkles on the cake. The elements of surprise that make your day more special, like finding money in a cake or having an old friend show up unexpectedly.  Wild and his friends play with the dandelions, imagining they are birthday candles, blowing and spreading seeds of intent and kindness.  I love the way they play together and support each other.  The dandelions mixed on my palette like they were lollipops or maybe gold coins. Magical. Wild feels it is a perfect day, sitting in a field surrounded by the wealth of friends, sunshine and golden lollipops.

All the details and feeling of softness comes from mixing the paint and getting out of the way of trying to make things perfect. I encourage you to have fun, explore and allow things to unfold naturally like they do in nature.

Not all paintings work out. I sometimes burn the cake, go way overboard, eat too much icing, yell at my children… But in the moment I make sure I am having fun and when I feel the work is complete, I invite my children to see, together we savor the moment and celebrate by eating a piece of homemade cake.

Happy 22nd Birthday Tyler– this painting is for you, honoring the “Wise one” that appreciates nature, family, friends and life. Thank you for being you and for everyday-Living life in the present moment!

Don’t forget to make a wish!

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Make a Wish 20×20 Oil

Love,

Mom

 “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Walking the High Line NYC

It has been 5 months since my surprise Birthday trip to NYC.  Not sure why I woke up thinking about this trip…perhaps it’s because flocks of people will be travelling there to celebrate Super Bowl 2014.

I love to walk.   If you go to New York City, be sure to bring good walking shoes.  Packed my Stilettos and my trusty Nike Air purple runners.  All set to explore.

Life is about experiencing extreme opposites and then finding a nice place to settle in between.   We often have to feel both ends of pendulum so we can decide where we like to fall in between.  Goldilocks syndrome- Not too hot, not too cold…just right…sigh.

NYC is awesome for that.  Buildings, people, high activity, cement everywhere.  You can be around millions of people-yet walk in your own world. Image

My favorite part of my trip was walking the High Line.  The Highline is a 1 mile NYC Park built on a historic freight railroad line.  Basically it is a public park elevated above the streets on Manhattans west side.  Perfectly situated above the art district.

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It is easy to see the skyline from here amongst the beautifully kept gardens.  This is a place where couples walk holding hands, artists sit and sketch, kids eat ice-cream, students relax on wooden lounge chairs. 

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When I walk I consciously spend a fair amount of time looking up. 

On the Highline you can look up, look down and also take a photo of where you are in the moment.   I loved the feeling of being in nature.   Here you are close to the sky, with a view of the Manhattan skyline.   See the concrete, metal, glass and feel the softness of the wood, plants and water fountains at the same time.

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The place to contemplate life while the activity of Manhattan continues on right beneath your feet. 

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When I returned home I painted 3 tiny canvases of my walk of the highline.  Perhaps a larger painting to represent my trip is brewing…

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Travel is always inspiring.  Seems there is just more time to notice, look, feel, smell.  Experience all the senses.

Be fully present to what is.   The memories are an added bonus and something to share.  For this I am always grateful.

Enjoy your trip and wear comfy shoes! 

In Creative Spirit,

Michelle