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Tell Your Story 101

Tell Your Story #2 {Where have you lived?}

Where have you lived

Number 2 in our Tell Your Story series.  Yay!

Today we are going to look at where we have lived.

Where we have been very much shapes where we are, and indeed who we are, today and I find that the houses we have lived in elicit immediate memories of days gone by.

I have mentioned this before:  I have lived in 3 countries and 25 houses in my 46 years of life.  That is one house for just under two years of life.  It’s a hefty thing to imagine really, not living in any one place for very long.  As I get older, I am sad that I have moved around so much.  Most of it is through no fault of my own – as children our parents moved a lot and as an adult circumstances or jobs created our rolling stone lifestyle.  But the reality is the rolling stone gathers no moss and I do lament not having a history, a community, a tribe.  A sense of belonging is created when you get to hang around in one place for a length of time, and I am sad I have missed out on that.

On the other hand, I have friends who have never ventured even interstate and envy the travelling that I have done.  Life is what it is.  It happens as it happens and through that process it shapes us.  It shapes our story.

So, here is a little interactive exercise for you to visually tell your housing story.

You may have heard of Google Earth (you can download it here).

Using Google Earth, you can look for every house that you have lived in.  Now, I have only lived in English speaking, westernised countries.  I have not tested it on countries that may have really remote areas.  I would suggest you just plug in that address and see what comes up.  Whilst I remember all 25 houses, I don’t remember all the addresses.  I am sorry for that because I think that it would be awesome to see all the houses I have lived in, in my lifetime.

Once you have found the address, get the street view.  {You can find a Google Earth tutorial here on how to do this}.  Once you have the street view of the property staring at you, take a screen capture (Ctrl-Prt Sc on Windows).  Pop the image to your desktop and save it.  It will be a full screen dump.  Don’t worry, we will crop it later.

Once you have saved all the properties you want, we are going to move onto our next step.

I used Picmonkey for this {you can find that here}, but you are at liberty to use any graphic design software you like, e.g. photoshop.  I opened Picmonkey and chose Collage.  I then created a Collage of all my houses.  I then saved the image and then selected Edit.  This then allowed me to put text on my images.

The end result is this:

Some homesPretty cool, hey?  I would also pop the address onto each image.

Now, print this off and put it into your folder that we discussed last week (or save it to your online folder).  Over coming weeks, I will write a few memories about the houses that we lived in and file it in my folder.  I encourage you to do the same.  That way we build up a story of the movement of our life.

I hope you have enjoyed this and please do send me photos of your properties.  I would love to see them.  Either put them in the comments below, or on my facebook page.

Happy life-story telling,

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Ramblings

Ramblings {Find the kindness, be the kindness}

Find the kindness 2

It occurred to me the other day that there is an awful lot of exposure given to the unkindness in the world.

We live in an online world.  That world seems, to me, to be full of negativity and tearing down.  It is what fills our social media feeds, TV, news and blog comments – trolls and vitriol and the like.  Our movies are becoming more and more violent.  It is nothing these days to see people ripping heads off, or doing other unspeakable things, in all its gory detail in the name of entertainment.  There is war, bad sportsmanship, people doing horrible things to other people, and on it goes.  We are bombarded each and every day with images that leave us feeling that humans aren’t a very nice race at all.  At times, it all feels so hopeless, don’t you find?

And yet, there is so much kindness in the world.  As a race, we wouldn’t survive without it.  Good vs evil and all that.  You just need to look for it, find it.  And then, once you have found it, you need to remind yourself of it, constantly.

So, this is a challenge.  I am challenging you to aid me in tipping the scales.  I want you to find the kindness.

You don’t have to go far.  Look for it in your family, your friends, your local community.  So often, kindness is reported where it occurs in a way that seems impossible for us to achieve, like any small acts of kindness don’t matter (let’s be honest, very few of us have the ability to abandon and our lives and families to set up orphanages and schools in remote, war torn countries).  I’m here to tell you that it is the small acts of kindness that are the most important.  They are the bread and butter of the kindness world.  They are what sets us apart.

Let’s change how people see the world, let’s change what they see every day.

I am asking that people put up on their Facebook statuses, twitter feeds, instagram feeds or pinterest boards acts of kindness of which they have become aware.  That person who knits tirelessly to make beanies for the homeless, let’s hear about them.  Your child that has raised $7 for the local animal shelter, yep, we want to hear about it.  Is your dad a member of Rotary and volunteers his time to raise money for charity, put it on up there.  Your husband that is doing the dishes for you because you have the flu, we want to know.  Any act of kindness, no matter how small, we definitely want to hear about it.

In short, look for the kindness.  No longer dwell on the unkindness.  Find the kindness and let us know about it.  Tweet about it, take photos, put it out there.  And to help us remind each other of the amazing acts of kindness out there, I suggest using #SHWfindthekindness.

But it isn’t to end there.

When we communicate, either through the written or spoken word, we have an opportunity.  Our words or actions can either be used to build up the person or people to whom we are communicating, or they can tear them down.  How incredible is that power?  And the fact that we get the choice on how to use it.

I’m asking you to use it kindly.  To be the kindness.  No matter what, no matter how crappy your day is going, it takes nothing, costs nothing to show a bit of kindness.  We all have times when we are so angry at the world that the last thing we feel like is showing compassion or kindness, but I’m asking you to do exactly that.

Before you communicate, ask yourself, is this going to build up or tear down.  And then ask yourself what you choose to do.  Because it is a choice.  I believe we all would prefer to build up.  Call it #mindfulkindness, if you like.

Again, I want to hear about your own acts of kindness.  Too often we are told that we shouldn’t let the world know about the good we have done in the world for fear of sounding arrogant, un-altruistic (yes, I know, that’s not really a word).  I say nonsense.  Your light is amazing and as humans, we follow by example.  How are we meant to follow it, if we don’t know it’s there.  Shine a light on your kindness.  Show us the way.  Fill our social media feeds with your acts of kindness.   Use #SHWbethekindness.  I dare you.

Are you willing to take up the mantle?  I hope you are.  I believe you can do it.  See you on the hashtags.  Remember #SHWfindthekindess and #SHWbethekindness.

Let’s change the world!

Much love,

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Categories
I'm curious

I’m Curious…Do you make films?

Do you make films?  I’m not a natural photographer or film maker.  I find the whole thing of carrying a camera and taking photos or video a little intimidating.  I didn’t used to.  There was a time when I joined the merry throng of parental film makers avidly taking footage of our wee ones singing, or dancing, or jumping, or having a tantrum, as you do.

But my kids have long since grown up.  My 16 year old would rather gouge his eyes out than have me take a movie of him and my daughter has flown the nest.  There doesn’t seem to be much reason to take movies.  Which is sad, because documenting life is so very worth it.

Recently, I watched a mastercass over at Kidspot.  Tahnee from Milk Please Mum inspired me to consider making movies again.  I made this one for my mom just before she died a few years ago.  She loved it and I loved how it made her feel, knowing that she was so loved and that her selflessness was so appreciated.

Despite it being only a couple of weeks before she died, and being an event that happened only because she was going to die, this is still a very endearing memory of her for me.  I watch it, tinged with sadness, yes, but also with such pride.  That there is my mom.  Shaving her head for charity so that a little girl may live a better life, long after mom has died.  And I captured it on film.

It was the last one I made.  It was also the last gift I ever gave her.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9uU34-JL9k]

That, my friends, is the value of film making.  It may not be artistic, or beautiful, a true home video really, but it is real, and priceless.

By the way, the song, I am Woman, was mom’s favourite song.  She and my aunt made it their anthem and they passed it on to us girls. Now, when us girl cousins get together we belt it out like there is no tomorrow.  It was sung at mom’s funeral as her casket was being carried down the aisle.  She also insisted no-one wear black.  That was mom for you.

I am woman, hear me roar!

Thank you very much Tahnee for inspiring me to bring this out into the open and to pick up my camera again.

I encourage you to do the same, my friends.  You never know when you’ll need them for memories or for comfort.  Besides, they are really fun to do.

From my heart to yours,

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I'm curious

I’m Curious…{Would you like a cup of tea with me + my 5 favourite things}

Tea.  Are you a fan?  I’m a fan.  But not really in a connoisseur kind of way.  I couldn’t tell you how tea should be made, or even what different kinds of tea there are.  Well, I know there is black tea and green tea and herb teas and fruit teas.  That’s about it.  Oh, and Rooibos too.  I just like tea, really, in a weak and willing kind of way.  No sugar.

Over at Blog With Pip, we are all having tea with Pip Lincolne from Meet me at Mikes.  She’s a creative sort that one.  Full of vintage goodness too.  You should pay her a visit.  I’m sure she’d love to have you over.

So, my tea loving friend, what would you like to know about me that perhaps you don’t know already?   I pretty much share my life on this here blog, you know.  There isn’t much you won’t know.

What’s my five favourite things, you ask?  Ah well, now there is a question. And I shall answer it, except I can’t really limit it to five.  I hope you’ll understand.

ONE

Kindness.  It is one of my favourite things in the whole wide world.  I love the feeling I get when I am kind to someone and I can see I have made a difference to their day.  I love seeing other people demonstrating kindness.  It is my mission to make the world a kinder place.

TWO

I love my family.  All of them.  Even the ones that I don’t like very much.  Because, you know, we all have those.  But I still love them.  Because they are a part of me.  And that counts.  I love how my family surrounds me with love from all corners of the world, how connected I feel, even when I can’t remember that I am connected.  I love them for that especially.

THREE

Writing.  It is my oxygen, especially when I find I can’t breathe in a world that seems a bit too complicated for me to navigate at times.  Words just fill me with all the juju goodness anyone could possibly imagine.

FOUR

Feel good television programs.  I’m addicted to them.  It all started with Extreme Makeover Home Edition back in the early 2000s and pretty much snow balled from there.  I just love to see all that goodness being spread into the world.  Oh, I know, there is the cynicism around it all being done for entertainment, or that there is too much commercialism.  I simply don’t care.  Volunteers make it happen and those families all benefit and that is all I care about.  And it makes me cry.  I love that.

FIVE

Homewares.  I’m a bit addicted.  I love decorating my house and I’m always looking for something to fill a corner, a shelf, a nook.  Homeware shops are to me what perhaps fabric shops are to sewers or designer fashion is to fashionistas.  Prettying up my home is what I do.  It fills me with joy.

SIX

My blog.  It is my newest obsession.  And it is an obsession.  I wish I could say it wasn’t but, alas, it is.  It is pretty much all I think about these days.  How can I improve it, what am I going to write.  I try to ignore how much reach I am getting, but, you know, sometimes I just have to

SEVEN

I love the new friends that I am making, both in the real world and the virtual one.  I have always been a bit of a loner and to have all this human goodness around me is just simply amazing.  It has enriched my life no end.  So, friend, thank you for stopping by.  It is very much appreciated.

EIGHT

Ted Talks.  I am a massive fan of the TED talks.  TED stands for Technology, Education and Design and if you haven’t heard of them before, I do implore you to have a look.  The talks are inspiring, and witty, sometimes sad, often moving, always thought provoking. Here is a taste for you.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX78iKhInsc]

And there you have it.  Simple and to the point.  Not at all like me, HA!

Until next time,

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Categories
Ramblings

Ramblings: {Note to self: Be kind, help make the world a better place}

As a writer and blogger, there are numerous things that go on inside my head that spawn as ideas for posts to send out into the world.  And then, sometimes, nothing comes.

Today was one of those times.

Until I opened my email to find an email from the indomitable Alexandra Franzen.  Contained within that email was a link to this.  Do yourself a favour, please do read it.

It made me think a lot about what I want to put out into the world.

I’m not a massive one on hero worship.  I find that the world has gone a little crazy with putting people on pedestals.  People seem to be forgetting how amazing they themselves are, in favour of wanting to live and be like someone else.

But I admire Alexandra so much.  She has no idea who I am and it is unlikely she ever will.  That is okay.  What I admire is the message she sends out through her blog and her business.  It is simply riddled with kindness.  She is in the business of building people up, and she encourages you to do the same.  How you do that is up to you, but the message is clear, kindness is the only way forward.

I LOVE THAT.

I read her work and it inspires me to do better, to be better.

What do I want my blog to represent?  Kindness, for sure.  Pure kindness.  There are enough people tearing each other down without me adding to the fray.  I also want to encourage people to see the value in themselves.  Yes, that means you.  It is why I started the “Tell Your Story 101″ series.  Because, you know, you matter and people should know that.

It is absolutely a great thing to admire someone and to take qualities that you like and want to apply them to your own life.  But it is important to remember that your life, and how you live it, is just as valuable, just as valid, as the way they live theirs.  Remember that.  You don’t need their life.  You cannot live their life.  Sure, they may have fame and fortune (or not), but you too have an amazing gift to give the world.  Your place in this crazy world is an amazing thing.  I believe that and I want you to believe it too.  And if you don’t, then, my friend, I am going to do my damndest to help you see it.

I just wanted you to know that.

Plus,  I made you this.  Because, truly, you are worth it.

Have a lovely day,

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I'm curious

I’m Curious…What keeps you awake at night?

It’s 12:30am.  Winter.  There is what can only be described as a mini hurricane raging outside.  Torrential rain pelting our roof and windows and wind whipping at our plants bending our palm trees over almost in half.  I can’t sleep.  Not because of the noise, which is, admittedly, loud.  As I lie here listening to the rains of hell descend upon us, I cannot help but think of the homeless.

They have been on my mind lately.  A lot.  We have over 105,000 homeless people in Australia.  This is compared to an estimated 2181 in the UK (with a population three times that of Australia).  I wonder how in a country that has the 12th largest GDP in the world there are over a hundred thousand people living without homes.  I wonder how this is even remotely okay.

On nights like tonight, I imagine them, trying desperately to keep warm, and dry, with the howling wind and rain, desperately trying to find shelter somewhere where they won’t be moved along.  They do get moved along, you know.  Because we don’t like to be reminded of how we, as a society, have failed these people.  We don’t want to think that we might be, in some part, responsible.  So we turn a blind eye and move them along, to where we can’t be reminded.

I once did a Community Development placement at a not-for-profit organisation in Frankston.  For the uninitiated Frankston is considered the scourge of the state of Victoria.  A wasteland for degenerate drug affected criminals where any sane person should never consider to live.  Recently, I attended a Jeff Dunham concert and even he cracked jokes about the din of iniquity that is Frankston.  We all laughed, marvelling at how this Canadian comedian could connect with us Victorians so well.  I hate that I laughed.

But I digress.  Part of that placement involved going around with an ‘Ambassador’ of Frankston, a council appointed person that was like a civilian police member, to see where all the homeless people ‘lived’.  I remember being completely inappropriately dressed for the occasion as I tried to navigate the foreshore bush in my high heeled boots, and the muddy wasteland of derelict buildings, many of which were boarded up so that homeless people could not gain access into them.  Instead, they were forced to huddle up on the steps and in doorways.  Even a building left to rack and ruin was not allowed to welcome them into its far from safe, but sheltered, clutches.

I was told that during the day they would migrate from one social service to the next which is why they were not there (and presumably why it was safe for us to intrude their living space, if you could call it that).  But evidence of their living was there – old blankets, rubbish, dirty nappies, needles.

How is it that we think this is okay?

Watching a Richard Dawkins program the other night about religion, he interviewed a professor who had studied human atrocities and how we, as humans, are capable of such grotesque acts.  She cited the Nazi regime in particular.  They found that when we are convinced that another person is less than us,  the part of our brain responsible for empathy shuts down.  This process, she termed ‘Otherisation’.  A process whereby we are able to convince ourselves, or be convinced, that the person to whom the atrocity is occuring is less than human.  This is how Hitler was able to convince those German soldiers to commit such awful things and this is how we, as a society, are able to switch off to the inequality around us.  We tell ourselves that the homeless deserve it, that they use the money we give to take drugs, that they don’t hold the same values we do, that they are ‘other’ to us, less than us, not human.  We have switched off our empathy.

It is how Tony Abbott and his ridiculous government are able to sleep at night knowing the atrocities they are committing against refugees, and single mothers, and gays, and the aboriginal people, and the homeless.  Because, inherently, they believe in ‘otherisation’.  These people are less than them, money is god, and all else be damned.  Their empathetic brains have been switched off and there is a swathe of anti-humanism sweeping our country at their hands.

Homelessness keeps me awake at night.  Inhumanity keeps me awake at night.  How about you?

So, what do we do?

We donate.  Our time, our blankets, our old clothes.  We donate money to schemes like Swags for Homeless so at least they might be kept dry on nights like these.  We donate food to places like Foodbank and we sure as hell buy that copy of The Big Issue the next time we are accosted in the street.  We encourage our work places to take on Corporate Volunteer schemes at places like Sacred Heart Mission or City Life, organisations that make it their business to ensure the lives of the homeless are that much more bearable.  There is much we can do despite a government hell bent on destroying our country’s Social Intelligence.

Let us do this.  Let us ensure that we reduce that number.  Let us make a stand for humanity, all of humanity.  So that it is only the driving rain on the roof that is keeping people awake at night, and not the lack of shelter.

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Categories
Tell Your Story 101

Tell Your Story #1 {5 Things I have learned in life}

So, today is the day we kick off with “Tell Your Story 101”.

Before we get into it, let’s ponder the question of why we NEED to tell our stories.  If you are anything like me, you question if your story is worth telling.  I would counter that with this:

Your story is absolutely worth telling and more than that, there is someone somewhere, be it your children, your spouse, your family, or even a perfect stranger that NEEDS to hear your story. You are an amazing, unique individual with a unique perspective on life.  It is your duty to tell it.

Secondly, we all feel the need to connect.  We yearn for significance and we want our lives to have had meaning.  And we want to be remembered.  Telling your story, in whatever format suits you, ensures that your story, the essence of you, continues long after you are gone.

You may question why this is even important.  Again I would counter with this:

Imagine Anne Frank had not written about her life.  A simple 15 year old girl who was eventually taken by the Nazis and died would have just remained a statistic, one of the estimated 6 million who died in what must be considered as the darkest time in humanity.  Instead, we have Anne’s words, her legacy, to remind us that despite all the evil that us humans are capable of committing, there is always beauty to counterbalance it.

I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.

I imagine that someone, somewhere whilst going through some hardship of some kind would have found great solace in this quote.  Here was Anne, having to hide from the Nazi’s, embroiled in a time when life seemed, and indeed was, hopeless, yet she managed to find light in her day.  It is only one sentence, written 70-odd years ago by a 15 year old, yet it remains a diary of hope and history.

This is why I believe our stories are so important.  REALLY important.  Yours, mine, everyone’s.

So, let’s begin.

I am going to tell you how I do this.  Life is busy, frantic and is becoming more so.  It is important to make it as easy as possible.  I love to write, but finding the time to keep a journal or diary is difficult for me, not least because I love the sound of my own (writing) voice and therefore can write for pages.

First of all, we are going to get a lever arch file and fill it with page protectors.  I opt for this route as opposed to online record keeping as I am a tangible kind of person.  I still prefer to hand write, post actual letters and read actual books.  It also means I can stick in actual things that mean something to me (like say, an autumn leaf that I absolutely love).  However, if you prefer to work online, that is also fine.  It is YOUR story.  It has to have meaning to you.

I am currently writing a book on my life.  It is, sort of, chronological.  I am not going to cover this here.  Each week we will be tackling a subject, building a dossier, in bite size bits to create that which is the essence of you.  Imagine this dossier is a time capsule of your life inside of which contains snippets of you and your story.  Much more fun and interesting, no?

To start us off, I have included for you to download what I call The Skeleton of Me.  It is a one page sheet that contains the basic information of you.  It’s a simple form and a bit boring to fill out, but quite important.  It is your starting point.  You can download this here.  In the coming weeks, we will be building on this information.

Once you have done that, we are going to move onto our first exercise.

I would like you to write down 5 things you have learned in your life.  These can be whatever you are compelled to write at this moment.  Please don’t feel compelled to write anything life shattering or profound.  Just write whatever comes to you.  Don’t forget to date the document.  Once you have written it, pop it into your lever arch file (or online file if that is what you are doing).  Remember it isn’t a definitive list.  We’ve all learned more than five things, feel free to repeat the exercise whenever you want.

Here is my list:

5 Things I have learned in life:

  1. I have learned that life is an ever changing state of being.  Nothing ever stays the same.  Ever.  This is a good thing.  It means that when life gets really difficult, it will pass.  At some point it will pass.  Of course, this also means that the good stuff doesn’t last forever, but that is okay too.  More good stuff is coming around the corner.
  2. I have learned that kindness and compassion are the only things that really matter in life. It is free, and yet the rewards are innumerable.
  3. I have learned that when it comes down to it, all we really want is to feel loved, feel connection and to be somehow remembered.  To have these things we need to love, connect and remember.  No man is an island.  Reach out.  It’s worth it.
  4. I have learned that motherhood is by far the most wonderful and most challenging thing that I have ever encountered and that it’s perfectly okay to find it challenging.  As long as you love your children all will be okay.
  5. I have learned that despite what the media tells us, there is no such thing as perfection.  It is a fabricated construct aimed at making us feel less than we are in order to encourage us to spend money to make us feel better, and closer to said fabricated perfection.  It is an economic paradigm.  Break free from this.  Let us banish the notion of perfection.  You are amazing JUST AS YOU ARE.  Believe me.

And there you have it.  Our first exercise in the telling of our story.  How did you go?  Do let me know.  And feel free to share your 5 lessons, if you feel you want to, either through the comments below or on twitter, facebook or instagram.

Next week we will be working on where we have lived throughout our lives in a fun and interactive way.

Until next time,

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I'm curious

I’m curious…Why do you write?

Why do you write

Have you always known what you wanted to do? I bet you have. I bet when you look back, you will find that there were things that you were naturally drawn to, naturally did well and when you did them time would stand still. That, my friend, is your innate talent.

I have this (completely unscientific) theory. I believe that the universe is a massive ecosystem. In order for that ecosystem to survive different organisms need different skills to get things done that are necessary for survival of the universe. Bare with me on this.

If you look at Earth, we have, for example, bees that are vital to the survival of our planet. In the big picture, they cross pollinate and ensure that things continue to grow, which ensures we have food to eat and oxygen to breathe. On a micro scale, within the bee population, there are bees that have different roles (the Queen bee, the worker bee, the bees that look after the nursery, etc.) that are necessary for their survival.

I believe that humans are the same. The big picture is that we are here to take care of Earth. On a macro level, in order to achieve that, we are all genetically assigned a talent – some gift that we are meant to use in order to maintain the balance of our own species. This is why, I believe, some people are born naturally good at maths, science, art, cooking, cleaning, whatever it is. And this is why until we are fully immersed in that gift, our lives feel empty and meaningless and we are always searching, never feeling totally fulfilled.

Education, in its current form, unfortunately is a great barrier to us fulfilling our contract to the universe by using the talents we were born with.  Instead it has the habit of encouraging us to subvert our talents, mostly, but that is for another post perhaps.

For the longest time I denied that writing was my innate talent. When I was 6, my parents were told that I had the writing ability of an 11 year old. Writing came naturally to me. I was quite reserved and often could not find the words to say when speaking, but finding them came very easily when I wrote. It was because of this ease that I discounted writing as my vocation. How could something that came so easily to me, be valued? I was taught that in order to get anywhere in life, you had to work at it. And because writing came so easily, it wasn’t work, and therefore it wasn’t a vocation.

It has taken years of job hopping, countless career choices, and a resulting major depression to realise, finally, I was wrong. Of course, now I bitterly regret not studying writing or journalism, and honing my craft (which is where the work bit comes in). But luckily for me it is never too late. There are a plethora of successful writers out there who all started their writing careers late in life. So I figured if they can do it, so can I.

I have only just started owning my writing. I have only started trusting the universe to help me and guide me to find the words that need to be said. And the universe answered. The lovely Rachel over at The Chronic Ills of Rachel {do yourself a favour, go and read her blog it is amazing} contacted me to ask if I would like to partake in a blog hop on why I write. How lovely is that? And then, I get to spread the love around by nominating a further three bloggers on their writing process. Oh yeah baby! Universe, take note, I am listening!

What am I working on?
Currently, I am working on writing my story. Just my story. That is it. In order to be a writer, you have to write. Writing my own story is a really good way to give myself permission to be and call myself a writer. There can be no judgement since it is my own story and no-one else has lived it. I am working on my craft through my own story. I work on how to tell my story in interesting ways.

I do have other stories in my head, always, but I know that I can’t possibly examine those until I have my own story written down. It is important to do that. I want to empower people, through my own writing, to realise how beautiful they are and that their story is the most important one to tell. I can’t do that until I have done my own.

I am doing this in a formal way (a book) but also through my blog. What you read here will mostly be my story and how I am living my life.

Why do I write what I do?
I write because I HAVE to write. I know no other way of communicating what I NEED to say. Writing for me is like housing an internal volcano. It bubbles away below the surface, gaining pressure, cooking if you will, until eventually it has to come out. If I can’t write it down I get very sick, mentally. I am always writing, either in my head, on paper or on a keyboard. My life is constantly spent thinking in story lines. Literally, every minute of every day I am thinking “How can this be used in a story.” It’s the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of when I go to sleep.

I blog because it gives me a safe avenue to put my writing out there. It is a training ground for writers, and sometimes that becomes a permanent home.

How does my writing process work?
I have a number of different ways of processing my thoughts to the point that they appear on paper. Whatever happens, if I don’t feel a deep connection to it, I can’t write about it. I am not that writer who can write about anything. I struggle with those list posts, or what I did on the weekend posts. The right words never come to me for that. And I am okay with that. There are plenty of bloggers out there who are really good at it and blaze the trail. They don’t need me flapping my hands and stumbling all over the place at the back of the race.

For me, whatever I write about has to have meaning and purpose. I have to connect to it, literally, on a soul level. It sounds a bit woo-woo, I know, but for me that is how it bubbles on out of me.

My process can sometimes be quick. Something happens and before I know it I am clacking away at the keyboard. And then there are days when I have to let it stew a bit before I articulate what I want to say. But there are days when I want to write, desperately, but nothing comes forth. Those are dark times for me. It is like being starved of oxygen. I am learning to know myself though, to accept that I need to feel connected in order to write, and that sometimes the process of living doesn’t always generate a write-worthy connection.

On a day to day level.  I write, then I read it, then I edit.  A lot.  Each one of my blog posts probably has around 7 revisions before I finally publish it.

How does it differ from others in your genre?
I found this a strange question to ask. It is my belief that each of us brings our own uniqueness to our writing by the simple virtue that we are all unique individuals and no-one else has lived our life. We all draw upon our own experiences to bring different seasonings to our stories. Mine is different because it is my own experience that I write about. My short stories and poetry, despite being fictional, are always drawn from my own life and living.

If I had to choose something, though, perhaps that I write with extreme honesty, that I work at facing my vulnerability and fear and write it anyway, that I am proud of the “what you see is what you get” scenario – no pseudonyms, just me. In all my flawed, crazy glory.

Bloghop Buddies:
Writing is a solitary pursuit, and it can be lonely. How amazing is it, then, that we get to live in an age where it no longer has to be that lonely? Bloggers are everywhere, and if you are really lucky, you get to meet some amazing ones along the way that become your friends. Here are three that are going to continue the “Why do you write” blog baton:

Michelle Kendergran - Profile for blogMichelle is a writer, artist and blogger. She is the creator of That Summer Feeling, a blog that celebrates life in a way that is synonymous with long, lazy days in the sun with a side order of pineapples, flamingos and cocktails in coconut shells. By day she is paid to work in a city office but on weekends she can be found at one of her favourite beaches on the Queensland or Northern New South Wales coast, camera in hand, ready to chronicle her latest finds. Sometimes that will be a meal, sometimes a cool shop, kitsch homewares, or street art. Often it’s spectacular scenery.  Michelle likes to think of herself as a virtual tour guide, taking you on a journey to the places and experiences she loves. Her tagline is Sun, sea, sand and stories and that’s exactly what you’ll find on her blog.

Cate Brickell - profile for blogCate, of Life Behind the Purple Door fame, is the 40-something, mum-of-5, painter of the purple door who procrastinates on pinterest, shares too much on Instagram, and sometimes manages to write a blog post. If you can’t find her online, you’ll find her on the couch, trying to convince the not-so-newbie to go to sleep.

 

Shani Rare Pear StudioI am Shani.  I am the face behind Rare Pear Studio.  I completed a BA Visual Arts about a zillion years ago…and now find myself living in rural Central West NSW, a mother, a wife, a creative, a teacher.  I paint, I photograph, I make (lots of mess), I write, I am ADHD creative…However, I am currently having a wonderful time focussing my energies into Rare Pear Studio producing artworks, prints and cards.

Categories
Tell Your Story 101

Then, Now and Beyond {Are you telling YOUR story?}

Tell Your Story

I have this belief.  It is a belief that informs and underpins pretty much everything I do.  It goes something like this:

When I imagine Earth, I imagine looking down at Her and seeing a massive patchwork quilt that covers Her.  Each patch on this quilt represents a person.  Not just a person, but their story too.  If a patch is missing then the quilt is incomplete.  I imagine that we are all connected to each other through the thread that holds this quilt together.  No patch is better or more important than the other.  In order for the quilt to succeed, to survive,to thrive, each patch needs to be there and, indeed, has a right to be there.

It is true that some patches are perhaps a bit more old, faded and frayed, whilst others are shiny and new and full of bling. It doesn’t matter, each contributes to the beauty that is the overall quilt and the strength of that quilt is dependent on each piece being there.

What makes the quilt even more spectacular are the stories contained within each patch.  It is my firm belief that in order for the story of humanity to continue these stories need to be told, need to be passed down.  History is important.  It is how we as a species learn, to develop, to grow.  It is also our route to feeling connected, from where we gain our sense of self, both individually and as a whole.

Each patch is important, each story is important.

What is your story?  Are you telling it, documenting it in some way?  Is it too hard? Is your life too busy? I understand.  Do you feel you don’t have a story to tell?  I am here to tell you, my friend, that no matter how boring, how awful or how unremarkable you feel your life is, your story is important, to someone, and to humanity.  Without your story, we are incomplete.  You matter, as does your story, and I am determined to help you realise that.

When my mom passed away, it came as a shock to realise that I didn’t have anything of her life documented.  There were a few photos in a box, a few recipe books she had written in and a china collection, but that was about it.  Her story, her life, her legacy had largely gone.  Of course, I have my memories of her, but the essence of her will almost certainly be lost to my children and grandchildren.  I hated the idea of this.  I felt a massive hole.  We all want to connect, to feel significant in an ever increasing, noisy world.  We don’t want to be forgotten when we are gone.

I am going to start a series on how to tell your story.  I hope that you will play along.  Each week, or maybe more often, I will be posting some way for you to document your story.  It may be a set of short questions for you to answer, perhaps a podcast to create, a simple scrapbook page to do.  Don’t worry, they will be super quick and super easy and mostly free (and who doesn’t love free in this day and age?), but with each week, you will be building and creating your story, your legacy.

It is my hope that through this process you will discover what an amazing person you are, if you don’t know that already, and that you will know that your story is just important as every other story on this patchwork quilt we call humanity.  You count my friend, and I want you to know that.

Tomorrow, I am going to post the first in the series.  Stay tuned.

From my heart to yours,

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Categories
Ramblings

Ramblings {The unlearned art of making friends}

I’ve been doing some deep personal work on myself – you can read about how here.

It isn’t easy.  I am a person who doesn’t naturally have a high opinion of herself anyway, so to then do some deep work, well, it is like laying everything bare for the world to see.  And sometimes it isn’t pretty.  At the very least it is incredibly vulnerable.  But the hope is that once all the muck has been coughed up, looked at  and dealt with, what will be left is a stronger woman with a much more sure footed sense of who she really is.  And that is the aim of any self development, is it not?

As a child I grew up in an alcoholic household.  There is much information around about how alcoholism affects a child growing up.  The way it affected me was that I clung to my mother.  In every sense of the word.  The world was, to me, as a child, a scary place and so I developed a friendship with my mom that would become so dominant that I would miss the life lesson on how to form and maintain friendships.  Four years ago when my mother passed away and I returned to Australia to grieve, I had no idea I did not possess this skill.  Through the process of digging deep though, I realise that it is indeed something I am lacking.

It would seem such a natural thing, wouldn’t it, to just pick up that phone, join a few organisations and put yourself “out there” to meet people so that new friendships can be forged.  It would, if I wasn’t so shy.

My mother was a shy person.  She found meeting people extremely difficult.  Hence, she made a friend of me – yes, it was beneficial to both of us.  When I was with my mom I wasn’t shy at all.  I could talk the hind leg off a donkey (English colloquialism there) and mom was happy to listen.   Because of this, I had no idea I was shy.

It is true that I didn’t fit in at school, but I had always put that down to the fact that we moved around so much and that I always seemed to just simply not fit in.  In each school I would manage to find one friend but by the time it was time to move on, I was almost relieved.  Friendships seemed so hard to maintain, they were energy sapping to me.  It sounds bad, I know, but I now know this is a classic sign of an introvert.

When I was 14, I discovered alcohol for myself and the great sense of dutch courage it afforded me.  Suddenly I didn’t care whether or not I fit in, I could babble away without a care in the world.  Most people who would meet me would remark how confident I was, how well I could hold myself and they would always tell me how intelligent I was.  They had no idea the internal hell that was raging inside.  How being around people created such an anxiety in me.  How I didn’t feel confident, eloquent and certainly not intelligent. Pass me that drink!

At the same time, I started seeing a boy, to whom I would form such an attachment I would not look at another boy or indeed friend.  Instead I would fall in love with him and marry him.  Now, I had two friends.  Good.

In my early twenties, I started nursing.  I found my one friend, as is my pattern.  We did everything together.  And I was happy.  This friendship thing seemed to be working.  One day on returning back to the hospital residence after a weekend away, my friend said she needed to speak to me.  You know when someone says they “need to speak to you”, it is never good.  She told me that she wasn’t really a one-friend person and that she needed to have other friends in her life.  As an adult I can now see how that is perfectly reasonable, how I must have been smothering her, almost, I assume, but at the time I took it with the ferocity of a break up.  I was devastated.  I left the course to retreat back home, to my mom and boyfriend.  Well, there were other reasons too, but that was the catalyst.

My point is, that with the death of my mom, I realise that I was left, a woman in her forties, with a fantastic family and life, extremely lonely.  I am confined to being at home because I have a son with autism who needs me.  That is not negotiable, to me.  I have no idea how to reach out and say to the handful of friends I do have, “Hey, I’m lonely today, do you fancy a cuppa” or “Would you like to come on over for some crafty goodness?” or whatever friends say to each other.

I realise that those people that you hear about that have no family or friends to visit them in old age homes, this is how it happens.  Shyness, fear, lack of skills to build a community and tribe.  And it is a self fulfilling pattern if you let it.  I know, I’m there.

Even now, I joined a blogging community to find that much needed sense of connection, but where, in my shy insecure mind, I don’t really belong.  Vulnerabilities are exposed and I feel like I am on the fringes of a friendship group into which I cannot break.  It is, of course, all in my mind, but that does not make it any less real.

The good news is that it is not too late.  There are things that can be done.  Tribes can be built.  But it does take work, especially for the shy, introverted person.  I am working on it.  I have some strategies and I am facing my insecurities, learning to quiet those horrible voices in my mind that tell me that I am not good enough or that people just simply don’t like me (in a way that some people don’t like cats).

On the upside, shy people come with a range of positive attributes, as Sian Prior mentions in her article Shyness isn’t nice, but shyness shouldn’t stop you.  Shy people tend to have greater sensitivity and greater honesty, both of which I have in spades.

Through my process of self discovery, learning that I am actually shy and introverted has come as a shock.  I honestly believed I was an awfully insecure extrovert.  But with knowledge comes power.  I am now able to face those realities, and work with them, instead of working to the beat of something that simply doesn’t fit who I am.  As difficult as it is, I am grateful for this digging deep process.  It is helping me to further align with who I am.  And that can only be a good thing.

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