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.

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,

SHW Signature

 

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.

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

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

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.

SHW Signature

 

 

 

 

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.

I’m curious…Do you have a life coach?

Life Coach image 1

Recently, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to work with a life coach.

Now, I think it is really important to state that I was, in fact, pretty disparaging of the life coaching fraternity.  I, like many others perhaps, believed them to be part of a pseudo-science genre that took your hand and told you that all you need to do is think positively and all will be well.  I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

Kate, my life coach (and it still sounds so weird to say that), is so much more than I could ever have imagined, ever hoped for.  In the two weeks I have been seeing her, I have had more emotional and psychological progress than I have had in years of psychotherapy.  And I am not overstating this.

This isn’t to say that psychologists aren’t vital in the realm of mental health, of course they are, and please don’t stop seeing one if you are reading this.  But, unfortunately for me, the three psychologists I have seen in the last four years were just not for me.

Firstly, they were all about talking. And I do love to talk.  I can talk about my problems all day, but I wasn’t being given any strategies to DO anything about them.  I was in a pit of despair and I did not know how to do anything about it.  I did not have the tools to dig my way out of that hole.  I had a great understanding of my thinking, why I thought like I did, and how my thoughts controlled my life and the misery in it, but I did not know, for the life of me how to get past the barriers.

Kate, on the other hand, requires me to DO.  Talking is vital, but DOING is even more so.  Her methodology works differently to the standard life coach model.  Her first few sessions are up to four hours long.  She calls them “break through” sessions.  And they work.  Break through sessions are where you get to talk ad infinitum about (in my case) your demons, or the problem you are having, and as you talk she guides you to make some pretty phenomenal, you guessed it, breakthroughs.  She helps you to come to your own understanding of your problem and what YOU can do about it.  It is incredibly powerful and empowering.  And yes, the sessions are long but oh so effective.

At the end of my first session I had a major breakthrough.  A true AHA moment.  I had never had one of those before.  Ever.  It made such perfect sense to me.  A true light bulb moment.  I could see how my thinking was affecting me, but more than that I could see my role in that and that I have the power to change it.  For the first time ever I could see the light at the end of my very dark tunnel.  For someone who has had suicidal thoughts, this is incredible.  Suddenly there was, dare I say it….Hope!

I was given homework.  Doing is the name of the game.  I had to make a commitment to doing the homework and to make some adjustments to my thinking.

We are creatures of habit and our brains like patterns.  The brain doesn’t care if they are negative or positive, if there is a pattern it’s going to stick with it.  Become aware of the negative pattern, adjust the thinking using a couple of easily learned techniques and over time, your brain adjusts to the new way of thinking, takes it as a habit and voila!  the day is suddenly brighter.  But, this is only possible, once you have that breakthrough.  You can’t fix the problem unless you know the very root cause.

It sounds simplistic, I know.  But it works.  And it does take commitment.  But that commitment is so much easier than you think.

I’m in the early days of this process.  But I am extremely hopeful.  I haven’t had hope in an extremely long time.  Having no hope is just waiting to die.  I now want to live.  And that is a rare and incredible gift.

If you haven’t considered life coaching, I would urge you to give it a try.  It is an investment in yourself.  And you are so worth that investment.  Believe me, you are so worth it.  It might take time to find the right one.  Please persist.  You owe it to yourself to move forward in your life and create that peace of mind everyone deserves.  You deserve to have hope.

If you have a life coach, I would love to hear about it.  How did you find them, what differences to your life did it make?

Kate, my angel.  I cannot thank you enough.

From my heart to yours,

SHW Signature