Yesterday I came across a quote from Brené Brown when on a PD course that really struck me:
“The opposite of belonging is fitting in”
I thought over those words for a fair amount of time yesterday and marvelled at how simple, yet how astonishingly true they were.
There are times when we don’t want to be seen as different, we want to fit in like everyone else, so we make changes, we alter who we are in order to fit in, in order to assimilate and not stand out. Yet you see, whilst we may ‘fit in’ by doing this, we are not being true to ourselves, this is not belonging.
To belong, I meant to truly belong, is to be ourselves, our true self and to be and feel accepted as such.
No mask, no façade, no wall to protect us.
To be accepted for who we are, our true self, exactly as we are meant to be, this is belonging.
When we strive to fit in – we lose ourselves
When we strive to belong – we find ourselves
To belong can be one of the greatest gifts of all.
When we belong, we have the rare gift of being able to be our true authentic self. Belonging contributes to our overall well-being.
So may we all strive to belong, instead of striving to fit in.
It’s been a while, I’ve been too busy enjoying the serenity of my surroundings and adjusting to a new job.
My own surroundings are actually quite more serene than the Kerrigan’s at Bonnie Doon. There are no high voltage towers buzzing overhead, but “it’s the vibe of the thing…” that remains the same.
The peace and tranquillity the Kerrigan’s feel when they pack up the car and go to Bonnie Doon for the weekend, is what I enjoy each and every day of the week.
Now, if you’re not from Australia and all of “The Castle” references are going completely over your head, do yourself a favour and watch the movie, it’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made. If you’re an Aussie and don’t understand the above references, shame on you! How can you even call yourself an Australian?
Now, moving on.
Before I get to the reason for today’s post, I wanted to give you a little insight into why I have been MIA for quite some time.
I haven’t posted anything in quite a while, this may leave many of you thinking and believing that I am not writing anymore. I promise you that I am, it’s just a different type of writing I am doing lately.
You see, my new position actually helps to provide an outlet for my writing and creativity, it’s just not the type of writing that many would think or consider. I am writing prayers, liturgies, helping to preparing mass and so on, for school children (as well as all the usual classroom teacher things as well!)
Some of you may think of this to be somewhat pompous, or find themselves rolling their eyes with an “Oh, she’s that religious person.” You can roll your eyes if you want, I don’t mind, I even understand it. The way I see my work though, is that if school children are at a Catholic school and attend school liturgies and mass, then it’s important to make it meaningful for them, and I feel that I am able to do this through expressing my creativity.
At the end of a day of teaching, preparing liturgies and everything else my new role requires of me, I pack my own children into the car and make the 25 minute journey home.
The town I work in is stunning, a true country town. It’s a far cry from a big city CBD buzzing with lights and people and endless activity. Yet, as you step outside this “bigger” town of the region, you are hit with the true and natural beauty that is Australia.
This is where I will make my home, my home among the gumtrees.
Give me a home among the gumtrees With lots of plum trees A sheep or two, a k-kangaroo A clothesline out the back Verandah out the front And an old rocking chair
I’m still waiting patiently to have my own home among the gumtrees, although I might swap the old rocking chair for a porch swing from Bunnings when I do get there. What I have found though is the area, the land that calls to me, it calls me home.
I think this is what comedy duo Wally Johnson and Bob Brown meant when they wrote the song, “Home Among the Gumtrees”.
The song was originally their tongue-in-cheek, satirical answer to the Australian Government running a contest called the Australian National Anthem Quest to find a replacement national anthem to “God Save the Queen” in the 1970s. However, the song grew in popularity and with a few small changes in lyrics and it subsequently being recorded by Australian country music star John Williamson, the song was firmly placed in Australian history and in the hearts of all Australians.
I believe that the meaning behind the song and its lyrics isn’t necessarily about being surrounded by gumtrees, in the middle of the Australian bush. It’s about finding that place where you feel free, the place that you are at peace, the place that you not only call home, but that calls YOU home.
I’ve found my place, now I just need to make the home.
As we near the end of 2018 and prepare to welcome a new year, let’s take a moment to reflect on the year that was and look at what lies ahead for us in 2019.
As some of you may have guessed from my previous and rather sporadic posts throughout the year, 2018 brought a “tree change” for myself and my family. In many ways we are still settling into our new town and new lifestyle. However in other ways, it was like coming back to a home you never even knew you had.
“Home is not a building,
No matter how big or small.
Home is where you’re welcomed and loved,
As soon as you walk in the door”
-Katherine A. Kovács
2018 has been a year of tremendous change, but the change has been good. As I woke this morning to the sound of the kookaburra’s laugh, I was reminded of just how lucky we are. Waking to the sounds of birds and the wind rushing through the trees, brings forth fond memories of my childhood. Memories of holidays down the South Coast, the hustle and bustle of “city life” left behind for that time being. Now I get to wake up to this each and every day, the pressure, the noise and the traffic of suburban Sydney a distant memory.
Unfortunately, it can’t all be relaxation, reading and writing every day, I need to earn a living too (the pesky technicalities of being an adult!) Fortunately for me though, I believe I have found a place where I belong, a place where even though the work is challenging at times, it is also rewarding and even allows for me to explore my own creativity. The school, the staff and the students have reminded me why I wanted to become a teacher all those years ago, the reasons why I chose to become an educator and why I actually do love teaching.
2019 will bring with it new challenges and a new role in my teaching career. It is a direction that I had never before considered, but am now very much looking forward to. Each year, a theme is decided upon, that will shape and guide the staff and students and be interwoven into all aspects of the school. In 2018 this theme was “A Just Future for All”, in 2019 our theme will be “Walking Together”.
As part of my new role, I need to discover exactly what this theme means and, together with the staff and students, further explore this theme and how it will impact on our teaching, learning and faith formation in 2019.
Walking Together – quite a few images spring to mind when I consider this phrase. Biblical journeys, personal, emotional and physical journeys. I think of the steps taken, the adventures had, the support received along the way. I think of the journeys of others, how they are not always smooth or easy, but often rather difficult. Those who make the most difficult of journeys, are those who need the most support and understanding.
“You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
2019 will be the year of “Walking Together”. Let us build a community of support, understanding, empathy and, simply one of togetherness. Where the journeys we face in 2019 are ones of discovery and joy. When the road get s a little bumpy, we will always have someone by our side,helping us to understand and navigate the treacherous roads.
I didn’t have all the name brand clothes that the “cool” girls had.
I didn’t wear makeup in an attempt to impress the b… actually I went to an all-girls high school, so I’m not sure who they were trying to impress.
Anyway, to make things ever better, I was in the school band. I play the flute… It was right around the time when the first American Pie movie came out… *cue Michelle Flaherty jokes.*
I liked to sing in the choir, I enjoyed the reading and writing assignments in English class, I suffered from a complete lack of coordination in PE (but somehow still managed to pass), yet still managed to be a bit of a class clown while maintaining pretty decent grades.
What I’m trying to say is, I never really fit in. I wasn’t nerdy enough to be with the super nerds, I wasn’t sporty enough to hang out with the Sporty Spice doppelgangers, not Emo enough for the Emos, not slutty enough (or at all actually) to hang out with the skanks… well you get the point.
Luckily I wasn’t the only one and through our lack of being able to easily “slot” into one of the categories of high school groupings, we formed our own friendship group. Our differences helped us to bond, we learnt through each others interests and pursuits and it was through our differences that we found common ground, heck we weren’t even all in the same grade, but somehow we managed to navigate the trials and tribulations that was high school, supporting each other through it all, appreciating each other for their individuality.
To the more popular girls in the school, we were all wrong, but to each other we were wrong in all the right ways.
“So raise your glass if you are wrong,
In all the right ways”
“Raise Your Glass”- P!nk
Sometimes it got to us. The popular girls sending endless filthy looks our way, the rolling of eyes, the talking behind our backs, but most of the time… we just didn’t give a f**k.
Yes, we likely dealt with the usual self-esteem issues, image-issues, self-loathing type of crap that comes with the teenager territory, but most of the time we were happy as ourselves and with each other. We were genuinely happy for each other when something awesome happened, whether it was a first kiss, a terrific grade on an assignment or getting a part-time job. We built each other up, encouraging each other to pursue their dreams, to reach for the stars, no matter what others (including the “cool” girls) thought.
And that’s the way it should be, embracing the different, encouraging others.
Somewhere along the line I lost that.
I began to think I had to change myself to fit inside the box.
Actually not just think, I did begin to change, I did begin to lose myself, to lose my identity, the things that gave me my individuality.
I was almost too late. It took me a while to realise what was happening. I was becoming one of those people who do things simply because it’s what’s expected of them.
I was becoming one of the people in the “Little Boxes”
“And the people in the houses all go to the university
And they all get put in boxes, little boxes all the same
And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers
And business executives
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same”
“Little Boxes” – written by Malvina Reynolds sung by Pete Seeger
It was seriously getting me down,
I feel like I should be saying something like,
“Nobody puts Baby in the corner”
but that’s not quite what I’m going for here, instead I’m going to say don’t let anyone change you in order to fit into the “box”, even yourself.
So again, in the words of P!nk,
“So raise your glass if you are wrong,
In all the right ways,
All my underdogs,
We will never be never be, anything but loud
And nitty gritty, dirty little freaks”
So go out and be the best “you” that you can be.
Be the individual, even if it means that you’re not part of the “cool” group, at least you know you’ve been true to yourself.
Plus, being different is way more fun than fitting into the box!
So to all my fellow misfits, the ones that are wrong in all the right ways, I raise my glass!
I’ve been doing a bit of thinking lately on what drives us and motivates us to learn, to grow, to pursue various ventures and dreams and I have come to the following conclusion.
Now, some of you may be saying right now, “curiosity killed the cat” and in reply I would say, “but satisfaction brought it back”. There’s something about satisfying our own curiosity that makes us feel as though we’ve accomplished something. Now, I’m not saying for you to go out there and becomes the worlds number one Facebook stalker, but if there’s something you’ve wondered about, if there’s something you’ve wanted to do or learn, it often stems from an initial curiosity.
More often than not, my writing is motivated by an intrinsic curiosity to explore an idea, a world, a time or a character. Many of my blog posts, such as,“The Most Famous Reindeer of All” came about as I was curious as to the origins of a certain character.
The series of novels I am working on came about from an initial idea and time setting that piqued my curiosity, motivating me to explore it further and begin forming the characters’ narratives. The writing driven by my own curiosity can certainly be labelled as a creative pursuit, which leads me to the questions: what is the link between curiosity and creativity? And which one comes first? Is it our curiosity that drives our creativity? Or the other way round?
Out of sheer curiosity (see what I did there?) I began looking at some research on the connection between curiosity and creativity. As a result of my curiosity I discovered a few things.
According to an article I read from Psychology Todaythere are two main types of curiosity:
General curiosity- is seeking out different kinds and varieties of information. This leads us to enjoy learning about new and unfamiliar topics.
Specific curiosity- associated with the effort to fill in certain “gaps” in learning or information. This requires more focused and cognitive search.
Research (and everyone else seems to) suggests that curiosity is the key to creativity, that curiosity leads to creative thinking and a creative mindset, higher levels of creativity.
Does it really matter what comes first?
Personally, I don’t think it really matters much which came first. It’s sort of the chicken and the egg argument. No one knows for sure which one came first as there are arguments supporting both sides. When discussing creativity and curiosity, they go hand-in-hand. It is irrelevant which comes first. However the indisputable fact is that they both co-exist, supporting one another.
I suppose I have always possessed a rather large helping of curiosity, it is something that constantly drives me to discover new things, sometimes useful and sometimes somewhat useless bits of trivia, but still intriguing nonetheless.
My urge for creativity and my endless curiosity is something that fuels my writing, you see most of my writing has come from both a place of creativity and curiosity, and I’m often not sure of which comes first.
But like I asked before, does it really matter what comes first?
A quote from Toni Morrison quite neatly sums up my own passion for writing:
“I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” – Toni Morrison
So after my mostly incoherent rambling on the subject, I encourage you all to engage your creativity and your own curiosity. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. It doesn’t matter whether your creativity fuels your curiosity or whether your curiosity inspires your creativity, the point is to just let go of whatever is holding you back and enjoy the journey of your creative (and curiosity filled) pursuits. Ask questions, employ google as a verb, delve into the depths of discovery and enjoy every minute of it.
P.S. There’s a difference between curiosity and just being a “Nosey old Parker”. Don’t be the latter by sticking your nose where it’s not wanted or developing “stalker-like” tendencies, that kind of thing is frowned upon and you know, even sort of illegal! Ha!
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt, like really felt the urge to write. “Urge” might be a bit of a funny word to use, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment so be prepared to see the word several times in this post (I apologise in advance).
I’ve been stopping and smelling the roses quite a lot and have been reflecting on things, but I haven’t really felt that urge to write. It was kind of getting me down a bit, despite being in gorgeous surroundings. It’s all part of a period of adjustment perhaps. After making such a big move and a more permanent one than when we decided to pack up and move to Budapest for a year, I suppose it’s only natural to feel a little lost for a while.
In the last couple of weeks though, I feel as though I am slowly finding myself again and hopefully with it, my urge to write again. I hate writing when it feels forced or doesn’t come naturally, sometimes I have to push through it, because it’s something that needs to be written in a particular time frame for one reason or another, but I never feel satisfied after a forced writing session.
Usually when my writing comes naturally, I feel satisfied afterwards, I feel like I truly accomplished something, even if I end up deleting it later because it was rubbish or didn’t make sense. That feeling after writing encompasses many emotions, you feel accomplished, re-centred, happy, content, so many things.
Often as writers, we lose our way, we feel as though somehow we have lost that urge to write and to create. The truth is though, as I am beginning to realise, is not that it is ever lost, it is always there, inside of us. However, sometimes it can become silenced by the pressures around us, the craziness of the world we live in, it can be stifled and pushed into the background, smothered by what life throws at us. But somewhere, sometimes way in there, way up the back, there is always that little voice, telling us to create, to write and to escape to a world of pure imagination of our own creation.
It’s taken me a while to realise this though, that my urge to write isn’t actually gone altogether, but has just been silenced and pushed back by a variety of factors. Now on the quest to turn up the volume on this, I’ve completely gone back to basics. My first step was reading a lot, my own work, the writing of others, multiple novels (some trashy and some surprisingly good).
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
Now here comes the next step – actually writing again, but remember we’re going back to basics. So instead of jumping straight back into the last manuscript I was working on and trying to force it, I’m writing simpler things, a few sentences, ideas, poetry or even this blog post for instance. In a way I suppose you could say I am exercising my writing muscles!
When I first came up with the idea for this post and a title, I had imagined a very different post to the one that has taken shape here. I imagined it being about going back to basics of living due to being outside of a metropolitan area. However as you can see, it’s not really what this post is about. I let the writing and ideas flow on their own, I simply followed and saw where I ended up. This short journey reminded me of one of my favourite quotes:
“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
So slowly, by exercising my writing muscles and going back to basics, that urge to write is starting to be heard again, louder and louder with each passing moment. Then things like this pop up in my Facebook memories:
This is what reminds me of my passion for writing, the emotions conveyed through words and the ability to create characters and worlds through words. Things like this reignite my need to write and create.
I don’t think I’m quite ready to dive back into my manuscript, but soon I will be, I’m sure of it!
So until then, I will continue to read everything, write as much as possible and then someday soon I’ll be ready to continue József and Anna’s story in “An Anguished Heart”.
You sit there, listening to the rustling of the cows as they graze in the long grass. The kookaburras laughing merrily somewhere in the distance. The gum trees swaying in the breeze. The bright red and blue rosellas nibbling the apples on the tree.
This is Australia.
The sky is a powder blue, with white fluffy clouds. The sun is shining, but it’s not too hot. The air is scented with the smell of roses, apple blossoms and that distinct but somewhat indescribable smell of rural countryside.
Orange and black butterflies take flight as you stroll through the grass, the grasshoppers rustling underfoot, jumping as you near.
This is the Snowy Mountains.
It’s nearing dusk and a small mob of kangaroos are perched on the top of the hill, their ears flicking back and forth. They’re wondering whether it’s safe to come down into the long grass to feed. They make their way down slowly, cautiously. The big fella of the mob is leading the way.
This is home.
In the distance, the colour of the sky is changing from the powder blue that’s overhead. Rain is coming and it will be welcomed with open arms.
The clouds gather, darkening the sky and the rain begins to pelt heavily on the tin roof. The water tank is already overflowing as the rain begins to ease.
The clouds begin to clear, giving way to last few moments of the spectacular sunset of orange and red, the colours changing and shifting as the sun finally dips behind the hills.
Soon, night is upon us, the dark sky speckled brilliantly with the brightest stars imaginable. The night is quiet and calm, a slight breeze raises the hairs on your arms, but it’s not too cold yet.
You take a moment, to reflect on the day. The things you saw and did, the people you spoke with, the chores completed. The smiles on the children’s faces as they played outside, their contagious moments of excitement as they marvelled in the beauty of nature, the animals in the fields.
Things are slower here, but not achingly so. There was never a moment of boredom, but also not a moment when you felt life was going by so fast that you struggled to try and keep up.
You actually stopped and smelled the roses.
You think to yourself, how can I capture these moments? How can I make them last?
The calm, the happiness, the excitement.
You know you can’t always have them all, but you realise that when you do, you need to stop and appreciate them.
Stop and smell the roses, take those few seconds to marvel in the beauty of nature, smile as your children play happily.
Slow down and enjoy life, don’t let it just go rushing by without actually living it.
Sure you need to make a living and pay the bills and there will undoubtedly be times when life will get you down, but those times cannot go on forever.
The sun will rise again.
So take that moment, look up at the night sky and reflect on something or someone that made your day brighter and hold onto it in your heart.
Well summer has well and truly hit where I currently live! The weather these last few days has been ridiculously hot. Not just your ordinary summer hot, but the blazing heat and flames of Mordor. A couple of Sundays ago for example, was the hottest day on record for this area, beating the previous record set in 1939.
I think the official temperature was around 47.3 degrees Celsius, however temperatures directing is the blazing sun were measured at 52 degrees Celsius! 52… that’s just bloody ridiculous!
So, we were all sitting there with struggling air-con (if we’re lucky enough to have it in the first place) experiencing the kind of heat that would turn a day at the beach into flaming mountains of lava as those silly enough to even try cooling down at the beach, burnt their feet trying to get from their carefully placed towels to the water. The kind of blazing heat that has you sweating as soon as you step out of the shower and has you wondering whether it’s the heat or if you’re a relative of the Wicked Witch of the West and you’re actually beginning to melt from the water in the shower.
A little like this:
I have mentioned before that I am definitely not a summer person, I detest the kind of heat that no matter what you do, you can’t cool down. Even air-conditioning struggles in that sort of ridiculous heat. The last couple of days have been a definitely improvement with temperatures in the high twenties or low thirties, but that will be changing again later in the week when temperatures in the forties are again predicted.
I’m trying to enjoy the milder weather while it lasts, but I’m already dreading the returning sweltering heat, with these milder days just a short reprieve. With the drop in temperature and some stronger southerly winds coming through, the alpine regions of Australia have also been enjoying some summer snowfall!
Yes, I am definitely not a summer girl, not only does the sun not go well with my pasty white, freckled complexion, but I hate to sweat! And I seriously couldn’t get a tan even if I wanted to, even as a kid I never tanned with my controlled sun exposure, nope, my freckles just connected and by the end of summer I even had freckles on my eyelids!
Yes, I hate summer and if I had to choose between the heat and the cold, I would choose the cold hands-down any day! With the right amount of clothing, socks and blankets you can somewhat escape the cold, especially indoors, but in the heat, there’s only so many clothes you can take off before you’re arrested for indecency.
So this white, freckled lass says, “Bugger off summer! Bring on winter!”
Now we wind down from the festivities of the holiday season, the time filled with decorating, gift-giving, spending time with loved ones and eating much more than you should!
There were so many things to do and prepare, so many things we need remember but the question I ask of you today is…
“Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?”
There’s Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but it’s Rudolph who is arguably the most famous reindeer of all, with his bright red nose, illuminating the way for Santa’s sleigh in even the worst of all snowstorms.
Last Christmas season, I wrote a post on the story behind “The Night Before Christmas” poem and the origin of the names of Santa’s reindeer. Upon reflecting on that piece I became intrigued as to the origins of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and decided to do a little research.
Now, according to Wikipedia, Rudolph, in all his red-nosed glory, was created by writer Robert L. May in 1939. You see, May was commissioned by the Chicago-based retailer, Montgomery Ward, who had been giving away colouring books every Christmas season, in 1939 they decided it might be cheaper to create their own colouring book, this is where Robert L. May came in.
He came upon the idea when looking out his office window as the fog from Lake Michigan blocked his view, it suddenly hit him, a bright red nose that shone like a spotlight through the fog.
However, the story of the little red-nosed reindeer was initially rejected by publishers, as a red nose was seen as a sign of chronic alcoholism and therefore socially unacceptable as a children’s book character. However Robert L. May persisted with the idea, asking his friend Denver Gillen, an illustrator, to draw a cute reindeer using zoo deer as inspiration.
In it’s first year of publication, 2.4 million copies of Robert L. May’s charming Christmas story were distributed by the retailer. 2.4 Million!
This charming story has then evolved into many forms; including the famous song that was adapted from May’s original story in 1949 by his brother-in-law, Johnny Marks! Rudolph has since appeared in film, television, other story books, comic books, games and so on and is one most of the most recognised Christmas characters around the world.
So, whilst you might recall the most famous reindeer of all, can you name Santa’s other reindeer?
I’m still struggling to find my way lately. Struggling to find the motivation and procrastinating as much as humanly possible.
There’s a saying that my husband has, that has been playing over in my mind lately,
“Don’t wait for claps.”
– The Husband
Sometimes we need external motivators to get things done or we wait to do things because it is “too hard” and we think we need help. The truth is though, we are sitting there waiting for claps, for our own personal cheer squad to build us up and bring us home, to go the hard yards for us or at least hold our hand along the way.
Not everyone has their own personal cheer squad though, not everyone has someone there to hold their hand and handle the tough stuff for them. If you do, then that’s awesome, good for you, but it’s not necessary to success.
Be your own bloody cheer squad, don’t wait for claps!
When you go out on your morning run (or do your two minutes on the treadmill) and are spurred on by the clapping sound resonating around you, don’t be disheartened when you realise it’s your own thighs clapping together. No, don’t get down on yourself, own it! Your own body is cheering you on!
When you’re trying to work through a spot of writer’s block and you hear a slow clap begin and starting to build momentum, making you think you’re finally getting somewhere. Don’t feel let down when you realise it’s just your pen tapping rhythmically on the desk. No, let it spur you into action, because that’s you, cheering yourself on to keep going, to keep pushing through.
You don’t need your own personal cheer squad, you don’t need somewhere there to hold your hand and take care of the “hard stuff”.