Wednesday 26 August 2015

Conversations with a Superhero

I really struggled over this post. I couldn't think where I wanted to go with it. Then in defeat, I decided I'd just repost the story of Aki Ra, who is truly a superhero in his quest to rid Cambodia of landmines. It occurred to me, I probably need to mention LeBron James, the basketballer who just gave $42 million of his personal wealth to send 1000 underprivileged kids to college.

Then the names came flooding - J.Cole, the rapper, consistently gives his time, money and encouragement to make a difference to many causes; Jackie Chan, whose charitable works, charities he runs and generosity in giving his time and influence (as well as money) to causes is so great you need a book to list it all; that barber, Courtney Holmes, who gives free haircuts to kids, as long as they read to him in the chair; Sheik Umar Khan who worked with the ebola patients until he the week before he died of the disease himself; Elizabeth Blackburn, who stood up for what she believed was right for the good of mankind at her own personal detriment; Jean Moulin, and other Resistance fighters - the list is endless.

These are everyday Superheros. We don't have to have tonnes of money, or even raise money to donate (though that is always needed). We do, however, need to do our bit. We need to start thinking how we can make a difference. It can be big, it can be small. We can help someone we know, or strangers we'll never meet.

So the conversation with a superhero is the moment you ask yourself, what am I doing to make this world a better place?

Linking with #Blogtober21 on Superheros

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Just when I thought I was wasting my time...

I've missed out on a few things I really wanted this year, in blogging and writing terms. The constant rejection can be quite devastating and erode all confidence.  Just when I was wondering if I should give up completely, I got the email letting me know my story was in the Hunter Writer Centre's Grieve Anthology again this year. It really gave me the boost I needed to continue, and know that I just need to keep at it.

I know I'm not alone in these feelings at the moment, so I will quote myself from last year's Proud Moments post " anyone else who is struggling with the crappity crap of life, sinking in a sea of uncertainty, search your blog for 'proud' and 'pride'. You'll be amazed what long forgotten memories and ideas are sitting there, waiting to cheer you up".

With Social September upon us, I'll be trying to write a few more stories, and focus a little more on the fiction side of happy holidays to you all, and see you in October (I will still be on twitter and the travel blog).

Linking with #FYBF & Flat Bum Mum

Monday 24 August 2015

First of the Month Fiction

Story first, explanation later:

She stood looking at the wall, behind which her girlfriend was packing a bag. There is a rot that has set in, she thought to herself. Barely noticeable at first, but slowly it eats away to the core, making the structure weak. Tainting everything, spreading over their lives.

She heard the bag zip shut, footsteps and a door slam. No goodbye.

She put down her cup of tea and looked at her phone. She pulled up the search from yesterday and dialled the number.

“Hello? We have a problem.”

“Yes, in our kitchen.” She responded.

“Great. Thanks. See you then”

This story was prompted by this photo on a road overpass. I don't actually know if it's concrete rot or not. It looks distressed in any case.

My partner also complained I always make the men in the story nasty (to which I argue I make everyone in the stories nasty, regardless of gender). However, I will take his 'criticism' as a note that I am too conservative in my world view, so in future, I'll mix it up and share the misery around. Thus this time, it's an unhappy same sex couple.

By now you know the drill, but anyone new, in the comments add your 100 word story (exactly) or a story less than 30 words, then link up your blog if you have one....

Have a wonderful September, everyone!

Linking up with #MummyMondays

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Social September - disconnect to reconnect

There is a movement afoot. I've noticed it starting quietly. A few friends have taken themselves off Facebook, a few have left their twitter account untouched for months and slowly but surely, people are trying to manage their time online a little better.

Personally, I've been wasting a lot of time online. I've had to limit my engagement to set times, and leave my phone in another room once my partner gets home. I'm trying hard not to look at it when the kids are around. As I discussed on Her Collective last week, I want to engage with them, at their leisure, as I feel I've been missing those moments with my head in my phone.

Social September is a movement, like Dry July and Movember, where you disconnect from your digital life in order to reconnect with each other, and more importantly, yourself.  I think when things get difficult in our lives, it's easier to play around on facebook than deal with the real issues, as I've previously discussed.

There are two ways to participate - either challenge yourself to disconnect, or organise an event to reconnect face to face (start making time to see those friends you've let slip through the cracks) or both. Money raised goes to Reach, the youth organisation, founded by the late Jim Stynes OAM and Paul Currie.

Personally, I'll be disappearing for a little bit (digital diet) and work on catching up with some long lost friends.

Why not try it and see if it makes a difference?

Linking with 

My Random Musings

Monday 17 August 2015

When the bar becomes a limbo stick

I have noticed the trend to post pictures of yourself naked or in a state of undress on the internet to prove a point. Your point might be to show off your post baby body, or that you're skinny & proud, that you're curvy & proud, that you're sexy transgender - anything really. Celebrities old enough to know better are doing it to prove that they're pregnant, that their boobs are real, that they're not too old to be sexy.

Ladies, and it is ladies, (men do not feel the need to prove points without their clothes on) if you have a barrow to push, could we try using words? Could we have a think about whether women are worth more than their appearance, even on appearance issues?

I can read. I can understand. I just don't want my Facebook page and twitter feed inundated with naked, sexy photos.

I get I'm older than all of you, so many of you will shrug it off but I don't think the internet is a place for naked photos (unless you are actually in the porn industry, then go for it). Our online behaviour models through to our children. Our distorted thinking model imprints on our children.

I've said it before, when Elizabeth Blackburn told the President of the United States what she thought of his decision, she did it with her clothes on. When Mother Theresa went out to help the poor, she had clothes on. Can we start to focus on achievements rather than sexiness? Smart is sexy, confident is sexy. The constant state of undress seems desperate and implies a neediness to be accepted (that you're not too old, too fat, too anything).

Don't get me wrong, nude it up at home, on the pole, even at the beach. All fine (except the skin cancer). Be happy and proud of your body both dressed and undressed. Just don't plaster it on the internet.

Pre internet, would you walk down the street naked? To the shops in your underwear? No, you wouldn't dream of it. That is what the internet is though. Your naked image is in the shops, in the street, all over the world. And our kids will follow suit if we treat it as acceptable and normalise it.

If Betty White's topless photos from when she was 17 are still following her around, after her successful career, then let's remember our moment of 'empowerment' will be thrown back at us when we want to be taken seriously in a career.

So as a call to action, could we please not click on the links to these photos, don't press like, don't encourage this behaviour. Or tell me that I'm just too old to understand it, and explain it to me...

Linking up with #FYBF and later, #WeekendRewind and the UltimateRabbitHole

Sunday 16 August 2015

Fear and the news

We were listening to a podcast the other day (NPR TED talks on Maslow's Human Needs April 17) and they said 'We shouldn't fear what we read in the news, as that's rare and unlikely to happen to us. It's the things that happen so often they don't make the news; that are so frequent they're no longer news worthy, that we should fear. Car accidents, domestic violence and so on'.

I think it is true - as I look at the terrible calamities around me, it's cancer, childhood illness and divorce taking their toll, not the incidents gracing the papers. I'm not sure if that's something to be thankful for or not.

This may be a small shift in the lens I view the mankind with, but I think it may have seismic results.

Of course, it doesn't take away my responsibility to instigate change for others, to try to help my fellow planet dwellers and to save our planet and all species on it. Just focus a little more clearly on the world around us, and the little universe around me.

“There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.”

Marshall McLuhan

I know this is a little unfinished thought, but it's been buzzing around my head for days, and I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with I'm putting it to bed.

Linking with Flat Bum Mum

Monday 10 August 2015

Do you protect your phone?

To everyone who lets their kid skate board without a helmet, here's a question for you? Do you put your phone in a hard case? If so, why? What is going to damage your phone that won't damage your kid's skull?

The sponsors of the pros insist on helmets (maybe only for advertising space but it's still required) so if your kid wants to get in the big leagues, they better get a helmet (not to mention all the money to be made with merch later's the helmet design that differentiates them).

I know it's not popular but is it really a risk you're prepared to take? Which is irreplaceable? Your kid or your phone?

(And for those of you that argue with your teen on this, ask them the same question).

Linking with #MummyMondays

Sunday 9 August 2015

Liebster Award

I was chuffed to be nominated by Deep Fried Fruit for the Liebster Award (the same week I was nominated for the Travel version on the other blog, so it was like a double up of love).

I have been nominated before, but as of yet, failed to complete it. This time, I thought I would actually answer the questions!

1. What make you happy?
Time with my partner, time with the kids. Up tempo music. Movies in cinemas. Playing games (boardgames, charades, whatever). Seeing the wonders of the world, be it grand or small. Writing.

2. Why did you start blogging?
I thought I could make a viable business (but I can't) and still be there for the kids. I'm focusing a little more on fiction now, but the blogging is almost like a therapy for me, so I'm reluctant to give it up. (By therapy, I mean a way to process thoughts and ideas, not necessarily dealing with stuff on a personal level - that would not make interesting reading at all!! Or maybe it would be too 'interesting' Heh heh!)

3. What is the best thing anyone has ever said about your blog?
It wasn't so much about my blog, rather about something I said on their blog. I got a message that said "Know that today, you made a difference to someone". It really meant a lot to me, and I do like that about the blog. I may be a small voice in a sea of bigger fish, but 'even the smallest axe can fell a tree if it's sharp enough'.

4. What are your top 3 bucket list items?
This is tough but see the Northern Lights is pretty high. Galapagos Islands, for all the wildlife. I guess live a long and happy life (is that even possible anymore??)

5. What is one thing you cannot live without?
Air - boomtish.
My family, I guess. I don't know. I think we can live without everything, we just may not want to, or may not be very happy. But when you look at what goes on in the world, and what people survive, my mind stretches at the capacity some people have to plough on in the face of horror.

6.  What is your favourite Australian travel destination?
I loved Esperance - it's just amazingly beautiful. I like to check out new destinations so I'll say I've yet to visit my favourite Australian destination. Mona, Whale Sharks and Uluru as still high on the list to see....

 7.  What two countries make you happiest to visit?
France - I love France. I think it's so beautiful, and the people have always been fabulous to me and the history, art and architecture is always worthwhile. The food is great and I think you can't organise a bad time there.

Cambodia - we only went to Siem Reap but it was an absolute game changer for me. It really changed my view of the world, and what I want to make happen in the world. On a purely superficial level, it is the coolest city in Asia - cool vibe, cool bars, great food and the amazing Angkor Wat thrown in to make it culturally worthwhile too. If you want a holiday that's both fabulous and amazing, that's the ticket you're after.

8. What's your favourite and least favourite word?
Words are just words, it's how you use them that matters. That said, as someone who listens to hip hop and rap, I hate the N word. I can't singalong and I have to pause or mumble. It's just awkward. Stop using it. (It's also really hard to explain to kids).
I will have to say Torshlusspanik is my favourite - you know why....

9.  If you found out that due to a mix up at the hospital one of your kids wasn't yours, would you give it back?
Nope - as the Little Prince says, it's the time spent with the rose that makes it special. Would not change a thing.

  I will nominate who first nominated me, all those years ago - the lovely 'Me' from My Journey, am I there yet? in an attempt to lure her back to the keyboard.

Also Grit & Giggles, RhiannaWrites and Help! I'm Stuck

Linking for #OpenSlather

Monday 3 August 2015

That's a goal!!

For blog exchange, we are asked to write on goals. One reason why setting goals is so hard sometimes, is we don't recognise them. It's very hard to set about achieving something if you don't know what it is. So for the next week, start to listen out for them. Say it to yourself when you realise something you are wishing for could actually be achieved with some effort, or better yet, be the cheer squad for your friends. If they lament something they want that's not happening for them, highlight it for them. Ask them what the next step is? Or simply say 'That's a goal! Now set it."
When put in such simplistic terms, nothing is impossible. We just need to do it.

So like Eric Cantona, at the 2 minute mark (and preferably with a fancy cane and French accent, just to make life more entertaining) we need to start saying to ourselves, and our friends, 'That's a goal! I love it!'.

Linking with Blog Exchange and #TIK

It's not just about the main event

Press play while you read...

I have started 8 blog posts and abandoned them all. I have no idea why I'm so blocked at the moment (though lack of time at the computer isn't helping).

I've been quite down about how many rejections you need to take in this writing game before a win...I can see how easy it is to chuck it all in. Then you get a small win, and the resolve to continue (but more of that to it's not quite official yet).

I went to Mark Ronson last week (mainly because I love Theophilus London). The opening set was by Jones Jr who, despite having to engage the mostly empty Hordern and being allotted the shortest time to perform, still basically stole the show. They were fantastic, and if you can see them live, definitely go!

The best part, they reminded me that small doesn't mean it's not good. It just means you need more time and opportunity to impress. You may not be the thing everyone one is wanting to see, but it doesn't mean some people aren't enjoying your work the most.

The EP Step On Sleep is on iTunes. (The other songs are funkier dance numbers - Don't laugh at my old lady jargon! Back off! I'm pretty feisty for a 107 year old!)

"This thing we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.”  Mary Pickford

I'm not ready to stay down just yet. And so it continues for my small but very dear readership.

Linking with #OpenSlather

Sunday 2 August 2015

Hello, My name is Lydia and I'm addicted to the internet.

I've discovered I have a problem. A big problem. I'm stepping away from those I love and those around me, in favour of a fleeting hit of the virtual world. I'm addicted to my phone.
If you are spending more time thinking about what you're going to say to entertain random strangers (or 'friends' or followers) than actually talking to your real friends, then I suggest you do to.
As a result, I've decided to actively try to limit my online time - I'm trying to reduce my time on social media by limiting how often I look at it (3 set times a day) and leaving my phone in another room for periods of the day, or when in a social setting. I have noticed a negative impact on my relationships and concentration and I want that to change. I want to tune into my real world and the people actually around me.

We were listening to Freakonomics podcast (if you don't already listen to them, get them on your playlist now!) and the fabulous Aziz Ansari basically summed it up perfectly "all that shit people email you about all the time, all day, none of it is important. None of it is pressing. And if you just focus on the work you’re doing instead of focusing on it for like two minutes and then getting distracted to answer some question that isn’t pressing at all, you do a worse job...So I’d love to just throw out, if I could throw out the Internet as well, that’d be great. I never read anything. I’ve never read all these novels that are like these beautiful stories that have continued to have a resonance with people for so many generations...But instead, I choose not to read them. And I just read the Internet. Constantly. And hear about who said a racial slur or look at a photo of what Ludacris did last weekend. You know, just useless stuff. It’s like, I read the Internet so much I feel like I’m on page a million of the worst book ever. And I just won’t stop reading it. For some reason it’s so addictive.... I’ll say, the times where I haven’t read that stuff, the stuff that I normally read on the Internet, just nonsense blogs or whatever, the next day I’ve felt like I’ve missed nothing. You know? I deleted Twitter and Instagram off my phone. I mean I use them to like post stuff but I don’t have them on my phone. I don’t have, like, a feed. I don’t follow anyone. And I used to read that stuff a lot. And now I don’t read it. I don’t see those pictures. And I don’t miss it. And I feel like a lot of people do a lot of this stuff. And if they cut it out I don’t think they’d miss it that much. I really don’t. I mean when I don’t check in on those blogs and stuff, if I miss it I don’t go back and, like, if you don’t read [a] blog for a week, don’t go back and read Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Cause you’re not reading it for the information. What you’re reading it for, and this is just my personal theories about this stuff, what you’re reading it for is a hit of this drug called the Internet. The phone world. You just want a hit of it. Like when you scroll down and you see a new blog post you’re like oooh! That gets your brain excited. It’s like, oooh! There’s something new! And you click it and you read it and you’re like, oooh, but it’s garbage. It’s nothing. Like ok, alright. Somebody dropped an N-bomb. Great. Alright. I mean that is kind of a cool story, but, but you’re just searching for this new thing. When you look on your Facebook feed and you see these pictures it’s like, none of that shit really matters. You just want to see a new thing on there and it just gives you something to do. I’ve sat at my computer. I still do it. And I go on like Facebook or whatever and I’m like, what am I doing? I’m going on a loop with these same four sites for no reason. I’m not genuinely interested. Like, here’s a test, OK. Take, like, your nightly or morning browse of the Internet, right? Your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Twitter, whatever. OK if someone every morning was like, I’m gonna print this and give you a bound copy of all this stuff you read so you don’t have to use the Internet. You can just get a bound copy of it. Would you read that book? No! You’d be like, this book sucks...It’s not that interesting."
The fact is, it's not really the information that's addictive, it's the checking for the 'latest hit' or the attention. So as I've found, the easiest way to limit the time spent in the phone world, is to take the phone away. If we're at home, it's in another room. If we're out, it's for checking with the babysitter only. Otherwise, the FB or twitter checking is for when I'm in a queue, or on the bus. One quick visit in the morning, and one before bed. Ansari agrees "if I go to dinner and I don’t have my phone, I don’t miss those moments of looking at my phone. But if I have my phone with me I want to look at it because it’s drug-like. You want to check it and just see what’s going on. And anytime there’s a lull in the conversation, our attention spans are so short you just have to look at it. But I don’t like that I have to look at it. I don’t like that I’m that compulsively addicted to checking my phone or the Internet. I definitely don’t like that. So it’s, you know, I’ve found the way to fight this kind of addiction is to kind of take the phones or whatever out of the equation. And then you end up being able to kind of resist it. And then you forget about it and your mind’s at ease."

I'm embarrassed to admit that what prompted this for me was my attention span (and not the fact I was ignoring the kids and my partner - shame on me but I never profess to be perfect) - I noticed it was harder for me to focus on reading books. My mind would start to wander midway through a chapter and I'd pick up my phone for a bit, then suddenly half an hour later, I'd still be on the phone. So now the phone goes in another room.

Interestingly, I have noticed others looking at their phones in restaurants or even dinner parties - there's nothing pressing. It's rude. That's all there is too it. I'm not judging because I'm still a work in progress, but I am taking a step in the right direction.

Do you rely on your phone world a little more than you should?

Linking with #MummyMondays

(PS I'm sorry that's such a huge cut & paste but I think he really nailed it. He has just written a non-fiction book on Modern Romance so I'm hoping this shameless plug of his new book will help him forgive me)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons:Aziz Ansari, Peabody Awards