Friday 29 August 2014

The only cure for vanity is laughter, and the only fault that's laughable is vanity. - Henri Bergson

Some of you know, I regularly enter short story competitions, and those that write fiction know that each time you write, you fall slightly in love with the characters (even the wicked ones). So every time their tale of woe is deemed uninteresting or their beautifully crafted history is rejected because it's just not good enough, there is a small sting, because you really thought this time, you were in with a chance....

So it was with high hopes I opened the email from the Hunter Writers Centre...but this time, instead of the instantaneous sinking feeling that usually follows, I learned that my little story had been long listed and would be published in the anthology. I was thrilled! I have been published and translated online, but never in cold hard print. For an old lady like me, print means more (even though intellectually, it shouldn't, and wouldn't, if I was a hip young thing).

I am eagerly awaiting the copy of the book I ordered.

Now for the honest, greedy confession...while I was on a high for a few weeks about making the book and being long listed, I then desperately wanted to be shortlisted...and in with the running at the prizes...not for the money, it was purely driven by ego.

By the time the night came, I knew intellectually I would have received an email, but I still half hoped there was some chance I'd look at the site and discover I'd made the cut.

I hadn't. I can laugh at the fact that what I was thrilled with as a first for me, and huge compliment, was in a few weeks usurped with desire for more. This is one of the great flaws in us humans. We quickly stop appreciating what we have.

This morning, I am happy again just to be published, and I am celebrating that achievement. I also have an idea for an Aesop style fable, based on my own vanity.

I am glad I can see the irony of my thinking, because without that self awareness it would actually ruin the moment of success for me. I would have spoilt the experience all by myself.

I leave you with a quote I've shared with a few other bloggers of late, and yet still needed it said to myself last night.

"I don't believe you have to be better than everybody else.
I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be." -Ken Venturi

Linking up With Some Grace

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Conversations with Colour

I had planned this to be a colourful photo montage, and even went out taking some interesting photos but then I read something that has made me take a more complex turn. So if you want a happy, carefree read, here is my ColorRun post from awhile back (and you can even catch a glimpse what this old lady looks like, mid-exercise - it's a very rare sight to behold). For a more interesting yet slightly heavy discussion, read on...

As a devout follower of Big Boi's Facebook page, I have been pondering this since he posted a photo of Andre 3000 at Lollapalooza with this on his suit:

"across cultures, darker people suffer most. why?"

Steering away from the obvious oppression with black and white, I'm thinking in European cultures, or Chinese, or even Fijian. Is this the case? And if so, why?

I remember being horrified at skin lightening creams ads on tv in Hong Kong for Chinese women. So while I don't know for certain it is a 'thing' there, I suspect it is, due to the commercials.

A friend, when discussing this offered: "In Italian culture, the southerners are darker and are poorer, and treated like criminals, idiots and worse. "Another friend countered with "In Japan, most woman assiduously stay out of the sun and use skin lighteners. In Bali or the Med, it is the fair skinned Brits turning bright red in an attempt to have a tan."

I keep trying to think of a culture where this isn't the case, as I'm sure there must be many but I don't know enough about the world and it's people, and I don't know how to find out.  I'd love it if someone can offer something up, or even a reason as to how this came to be. If it is something based in history, why haven't we evolved? Why would a prejudice a thousand years old be relevant today? I am perplexed by the world we live in.

Linking up with Conversations over Coffee

Monday 25 August 2014


I received a txt from my young son, a thirteen year old, asking if he could do a tandem skydive jump with his friend. I replied I thought not, but would discuss with his dad. His father was equally quick to say no.

While I believe it is the right decision, I felt mean. So I put it to my FB friends 'Would you let your 13 year old do a tandem skydive?'. They all came back with a resounding no.

I went to another online group I'm a member of, that spans the globe. Men and women of all ages were also a collective 'no'.

I am ashamed to say I showed my son all of this, the Facebook polling because I still felt mean. He was annoyed with me, even though his father is equally to blame in the decision. It is the cross of the stay at home mum to bear, taking all the blame for joint decisions. I hate being the bad guy. It hurts when you know they don't like you.

I'm not proud I felt I needed permission to say no, and I'm not proud that I wanted my son not to blame me. I wanted him to see I wasn't being unreasonable. The fact is, I'm the parent. It's my job. Knowing I am making the right choice should be enough. I am not his friend, I'm his parent. Denis Leary sums it up in his book 'Why we suck' which I have quoted many a time to friends. "Will your kid hate you? Yup. And here's a little headline for you: your kids are SUPPOSED to hate you. YOUR KID IS YOUR KID - NOT YOUR GODDAM BEST FRIEND.
Believe me - they may hate your fat-ass now but they will thank you immensely later on." He goes on later, with what I think is the hardest part of parenting. "My mom always kept our feet nailed hard and fast to the ground.  She told us no when we wanted to hear yes and my dad was right there to back her up." This book is not for everyone, and it's not really a parenting book, but I find this truth useful to clutch onto when struggling with the difficult teen parenting in this world were you often feel alone in standing up to their children. Leary seems extremely fond of his parents, and is now promoting their hard line rules that were the norm in the sixties and seventies, but seem old fashioned now, so his comments seem to hold water to me.

I just wish sometimes doing the right thing felt better.

Linking up with MummyMondays

Friday 22 August 2014

First of the Month Fiction - September

Going a little early as I have a number of posts this week, so thought I'd put some extra time on FOMF.

Put your short story (of less than 30 words, or 100 words exactly) in the comments, then link your blog so we can see your unrestricted craft. (Examples here).

Mine is of the 30 words and HAPPY for a change...

The months of needles and heartbreak faded from her mind as she saw the second blue line appear. Her dream was finally here.

Linking up with some Grace for FYBF

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Come and get your happiness

Was very busy this weekend , so for #NaturesNotes  I'm linking this old post as the photos are full of nature at it's best! Focus on simple joys. Stay safe and be happy. See you next week.

I'm currently getting a lot of happiness from this song:

which is on constant rotation in the car since the CD turned up last week - play while reading (sorry no clip - if you want to watch more of the magnificence of the incredibly cool Alice Francis, try this one, which I'd already overplayed on iTunes before the disc turned up in the post - and I'm old, I like CDs - leave me alone!).

In an online group I'm in, someone posed the question what does it mean to "live life to the fullest"? They elaborated that they had 'spent the past few years trying to live life to the fullest, but sometimes real life gets in the way.' My response then, I share today (and look at me, quoting myself!) "It's not big, it's small. It's making the most of as many moments as you can. Chase the dreams, see what you can of the world, do what you enjoy but also treasure those around you who bring you happiness. Treasure the sunny day and the flowers, all of it. You can travel the globe but not really see it. So I guess I'm saying live life to the fullest, but the secret is actually in enjoying 'real life'. Think hard about what you want to see and do, and set about making them happen." The real secret to happiness is its achievability. Always remember there is no weighted value on what makes you happy. If buying a book brings you happiness and so does buying a house, the state of happiness is the same. If seeing a movie makes you happy and so does visiting Paris, then their value to you is the same. The intellectual idea of one may carry more importance than the other, but the happiness they bring is interchangeable. That is the lesson often missed.

I get happiness from the fact that I just have to see a movie poster and get a flutter of excitement at the pending enjoyment of seeing the film.

I love that despite living in this harbour city for my 107 years, I still am elated by the beauty of the harbour on a sunny day.

I am happy that while I am failing in my current job search, it has allowed me to stay home stress free with a sick child for 2 days running.

I am happy at the thought that soon I will be booking and planning my dream holiday to see lava fall into the ocean on Big Island. I am even more excited that I will hopefully actually see lava fall into the ocean in my lifetime. (2020 edit. This happened but we didn't see the lava fall into the ocean. So that's still on my list, but clearly not for awhile...)

I love that social media has allowed me access to smart and intelligent people that broaden my world view and make me think, and that I see pictures from far flung places (currently following those on the #MongolRally and seeing a great adventure unfold in countries I will never get to).

The world is truly an amazing place, and I am happy to be part of it. To borrow from the genius of Kurt Vonnegut "If this isn't happiness, I don't know what is"

PS All those photos make me smile - they were all taken when happy, at moments when I paused to think how lucky I was to see such beauty.

Monday 18 August 2014

Three Cups of Deceit

I'm reading this book, Three Cups of Deceit, by Jon Krakauer, only because I read all his work, and I'm not familiar with the bestselling book he's discussing or the humanitarian he is talking about, so I will not get into specifics here.

The issue it has raised, which I'm curious to discuss, is when charity goes wrong - if some of the money goes missing, does it take away from the good the person did, as they still did SOME good that wouldn't have been done otherwise. Another example would be that cyclist, who did do a lot of good for a cancer foundation, does his current disrepute lessen the good work done for the charity?

Lastly, the book also raises some of the issues that plagued Mother Theresa, about where the money came from, prompting her to say "I don't care where the money comes from. It's all washed clean in the service of God."

So does the good done outweigh other moral and ethical issues? I see both sides of the argument, and swing back and forth in my thinking. Thus the curiosity on what others think.

Linking up with Reading Writes, while treading carefully to avoid any legal issues...because it's been a week and I still don't really know. I think it's terrible if he was using the charity as 'his personal ATM' but if, as someone else in the book points out, 'no one cares about muslims in Pakistan', they just give money to charities for the Sherpas in Nepal, then it's good that he got schools built in areas that wouldn't have been built or funded otherwise, as long as the schools get used. Our world is not a simple place and the shades of grey exceed a mere 50 (see what I did there? Bahaha!)

As an aside, the book gives 100% of the proceeds to the "Stop Girl Trafficking" project at the American Himalayan Foundation. I was unaware of this problem, and amazed that up to 20,000 young girls are trafficked annually from the poorest parts of Nepal to end up in brothels or basically slaves, yet we don't seem to hear about it.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Can you make your dream reality?

An interesting discussion has popped up on my Facebook feed - I follow Ray Villafane, the talented pumpkin carver and sculptor, who does the massive pumpkins in Central Park each year, and just recently did sand sculptures in Europe. An incredibly talented artist.

Image with permission from Villafane Studios from their website

He was discussing those that give up their dreams for more stable jobs. Ultimately, there are people that do this, as the security and demands of daily life lead them to make this decision. He sees it as fear.

There are those that don't, who follow their dreams, and for some, make it happen. For others, a hard slog on a road that doesn't take them where they want to go.

I don't sit in judgment of those that gave up. I was one of them. I've a had a life where I worked for 11 months a year to travel for one, and had a great time on weekends and in the evening. I was happy enough with that.

I am currently trying to follow a dream, but this is only made possible by someone else working the hard work, while I try to find a balance that means I get the work I want and no one else in the family's lifestyle needs to suffer. I've yet to see if I can do this.

Villafane says "Optimism can be such a valuable trait. It allows you to imagine and thus see the possibilities." While not my natural inclination, I am currently working on this, thinking 'why not me?' when applying for jobs or submitting stories and articles, instead of not bothering because I know it won't be what they want. His thoughts on the subject were exactly what I needed to hear at this time.

The quote I want to leave you with is Villafane's final remark "In the end I guess the world has lots of positions for frightened workers that help the dreamers to achieve their goals." (full post & interesting discussion on his facebook page)

I'd be interested to know what you think of this, and where you stand on the subject. Is this what you need to hear right now?

Linking with #Blogtober21 on GOALS

Monday 11 August 2014

Riddle Me This? Mysteries of the Universe

1. When you get nits, does one or two jump onto your head? Or a pregnant one? If it's just one, how do you end up with eggs? (if this is common knowledge, I really don't know so tell me - I may be more stupid than you realise)

2.Is there a language where Q stand alone? If it always has to be Qu, then why doesn't Q just make the Qu sound by itself?

3.How does the song 'Dem Bones' end up talking about 'Hear the word of the Lord'? Is the skeleton hearing it? Or is the skeleton walking around the work of God? Or was it just written when everyone chucked a bit of religion into every song?

4. Why don't more people rob banks in ambulances?

5. How can you get too scared to do something you worked up the courage to do the year before?

6.Why does your phone lose internet connection whenever your car breaks down?

7.Why does the cold snap suddenly end whenever you accidently leave food in the boot of your car?

8. Stealing from They Might Be Giants, but who put the alphabet in Alphabetical Order?

9. Why do kids tattoos come off every time with olive oil until the day you put them on her face?

10. Can you send your kid to school with tattoos on their face? Will you or the kid get in trouble?

Linking up with Things I (don't) know

Friday 8 August 2014

A single moment

I've been thinking about this blog theme, and I'm coming up blank. Which is not to say I've done everything right, but more that I don't have something gnawing at me to change. I am greatly flawed and I've made mistakes. That is life.

If I could change something, I'd change the way I think about things, the way I react to things and the way I bottle things up.

If I could go back to a single moment to relive, there are too many great ones to narrow it down to just one - I've had a life time of fabulous moments, both shared and alone. Visited a million places I'd return to in a flash, just to see again. Laughed a thousand laughs, and smiled a trillion smiles, all worthy of revisiting for the joy experienced.

I have too many precious memories that I hold on to dearly, too many to say one is more worthy than another.

So I'm opting out of this prompt, though I will read with great interest what others say. I've enjoyed the exercise of trawling through my memories, only to decide that the task is too difficult, that the choice is too great to single out merely one. And that fills me with a great contentment.

This is not the quote I was after to finish with, that still eludes me, but it will do:

“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. You must experience each one before you can appreciate it.”
Sarah Ban Breathnach

Linking up with Thankful Thursdays

Tuesday 5 August 2014

The good, not the bad nor the ugly

I've been getting more upset by certain moves in the current regime of late, and I realise it must make this blog a rather angry and depressing place to visit. So today, I'm turning the tables - tell me something good that the Government is implementing, either in your life or for someone else.

Make me realise the error of my ways!

I am being serious, so as always, I will delete any offensive comments aimed at myself, other commenters or members of either the Liberal or Labor party.

Linking up with Things I (don't) Know

National offence

I am floored and disgusted that anyone in Government would make light of the tragic murder of the environmental compliance officer, who was ambushed and shot in the back while doing his job. In my opinion, there is nothing more valuable than a human life. I hope that what I have read was taken out of context, and while it appears to imply Mr Joyce is saying the land clearing laws caused the incident, that there was another part of the statement not quoted.

If we condone this murder, 'pushed to it by bad laws', is Mr Joyce implying we should grab our guns and target the unpopular policy makers whenever we don't like the law? I don't think so. Is he just using somebody's death to parade around a political argument? Yes, from the articles I've read, it appears he is, and that is offensive, not just to the widow and the children who lost their father, but to all of us, showing disrespect for the people of Australia in general.

Perhaps it is time that our politicians take some sensitivity and media training, as apparently certain members of the Government are in dire need of it. If it had been a police officer or judge doing his job, would Mr Joyce be arguing the murderer was driven to it, that our drug manufacturing laws are too tough or that our embezzlement laws to strict? Or is it just okay for environmental compliance officers to be murdered while enforcing the law? Imagine if your husband never returned from work, and your children would never see their father again and to add to your grief, you had to read the subtext that it was his fault for enforcing the law.

Murder is NEVER the answer. Going outside the legal system is NEVER the right way to resolve anything.

If you are being adversely affected by something or someone, seek help. Seek legal advice. If you are losing control, seek help IMMEDIATELY. NEVER take matters into your own hands.

If you are in Government, don't use murder and somebody's death as a political point scoring exercise in the media. Keep your mouth shut if you have no empathy.

Monday 4 August 2014

Crooked smile, wicked style on 'em

I am not a fashion blogger - I know this news is probably astounding to you. But seriously, I'm not.

And here is why.

I saw a super cute dress online. It's a purple sundress for daywear. However, it is one shouldered. And I am 107. Years old, not pounds (that's meant to be a joke but I don't even know if that means I'm fat or tiny?) So while I want the dress, I'm not sure if I can pull it off.

I questioned my FB entourage, explaining it was not an evening dress, but a day time one for strutting around the supermarket, hanging in the playground or heading for lunch. What age is too old for a one shouldered dress?

Of course, because they're my friends, they all said I'd look great in it. All of which I discounted instantly because they're my friends.

So I am asking the fashion bloggers and strangers out there for the honest truth. What age is too old for the one shouldered dress? (I understand evening wear in the style can be worn at pretty much any age, it's the daytime thing that I'm pondering).

I would put a picture up of the dress, but I'm too old to be able to download it, apparently.

So let me have it. What is the cut off for the one shouldered dress?

Linking up with #StylishMonday

Sunday 3 August 2014

A quick word with my 18 year old self...

My English teacher said to us, her class of 16 year olds, 'You'll think this is funny, and you won't understand it yet, but I still feel the same as I did when I was your age'. We did think it was funny, as she was old (all of 40, I guess).

Yet it stuck with me, and it is something I truly appreciate having learned so early in life. At my grand old age of 107, I still feel like a child. I still feel all the insecurities at times, of a teen. I still feel out of my depth and a fraud, someone pretending to be a grown up*.

All this is normal. For some people, there is no magical age when you suddenly get your shit together. You won't transform into a glamorous, sophisticated, intelligent being overnight, like television portrays.

Sadly at 107 you'll still get pimples (seriously, what is that about?). You will still like clothes that are probably not described as sensible. You will still like toys, not to play with, just to have (and I mean like a playmobil Dakar truck, not a pervy euphemism).

There will come a time when you hate what you see in the mirror, because it is not a reflection of how you feel, just some strange old lady fading from existence.

Even worse, there will come a time when the majority of your friends will implode - there is midlife crises and depression in your male friends, and divorce and cancer in store for your female friends. The calls bearing good news are few and far between. Those bringing death or sadness are more frequent. The worst part, with all this pain, is there is little you can do to 'fix' it. That is in the hands of others, and the lap of the Gods. But you can try. Try to help, try to take a tiny bit of sting out of their pain, try to be there for them. Never ever judge or ignore, as your turn will come. (Never tell them to snap out of it, pain has a longevity we can not measure, as each person needs and feels differently).

So enjoy your youth, enjoy the feeling of freedom, of being open to possibilities. You may feel insecure, or that the odds are against you, but age will not change that. So make the most of what you have.

“Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life. ” Norton Juster

Linking up again with #MLSTL

*I've told this story before, but I love it. When staying in a bush youth hostel, two kids and I were the first awake in the wee small hours. The kids discovered there was a large snake in the lounge room, let in by the lazy teens who left the door open overnight. One of the girls looked at me, wide eyed in panic "What do we do?" My reply, as I shut the door, locking the snake in, was "Let's wait for one of the grown ups to get up, they'll know what to do." This answer prompted two small faces to screw up in puzzlement.