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’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”.
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”.
Again it has been almost a month since my last blog post. I have been doing a few things with my small business, made a few cards and gifts and even wrote a real estate description with the potential for more work on the way!
However, nothing big enough to justify my absence or the fact that I haven’t written anything substantial since January.
The truth is, I think I’ve lost my way.
Since returning from Budapest twelve months ago, I’ve found it a struggle to not only to find the time to write, but also to find the motivation. Things in Budapest were so much simpler, without the school drop-off and pick-up, without the alarms, without the interruptions that day-to-day life as a family of five.
All of these things drain my creativity, my motivation.
In Budapest I didn’t have to worry about driving multiple hours a day commuting for work or getting the children to and from school.
I know this is reality, but why does it have to be like this? Why does reality put so much strain on people? What ever happened to family time? To time just to sit back and smell the flowers? It seems that more and more people and families are experiencing a life of working dawn to dusk, almost every day of the week and it’s not even so they can try and get ahead a little, people have to work these ridiculous hours just to make ends meet, trying to make it stretch that little bit further until their next payday. Sacrificing time with their families, children, loved ones.
There’s a difference between living and surviving, at the moment most families are simply surviving and only just for many of them.
So when this is the reality for so many families, it’s a wonder that creativity still exists in the world of overworked, over-stressed and overstretched finances.
I know what you’re thinking. If you’re one of my fellow creatives, you’ll be saying to me to find the time, to chase the motivation and inspiration and I completely agree with you, in fact I’ve written about that type of thing before, about not waiting for the inspiration to strike, but to chase after it.
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
I still believe this, completely and wholeheartedly. However there are times when you find it almost impossible to give chase.
This is where I am now.
I’m lost in a world I’m not sure I belong in and I’m struggling to find my way.
I need to change, to find a place where we belong, not just for me, but for my family. A place where we can slow down, take a step back from reality every now and then and just be, without worrying how much damage the next utility bill is going to make.
I think I’ve found that place, at least I hope I have.
I might have lost my way with my writing, but it doesn’t mean I have given up. Every day I wake up, determined to find my way, to find which road to take, to get to the place I need to go, where WE need to go, to find the place my family needs to be.
Until we reach the next destination, I will continue my search and I will strive to find what I’ve lost.
Until then, here are a few random thoughts I’ve put together in a rough piece of writing called “The Journey of a Writer.”
The Journey of a Writer
The journey of a writer is a twisted one.
The road is never straight,
There are many twists and turns and forks in the road.
It’s hard to know which road to take,
Sometimes we choose well, other times not.
These are the times when we learn the most.
We learn about ourselves, our craft, our journey.
Sometimes we lose our way,
But the constant search for the right path to take drives us on.
Our journey takes us to many destinations,
But we do not know them until we arrive.
Yes, the journey of a writer is a twisted one.
The road is never straight.
But the journey of a writer is also an endless one,
I know it’s been over a month since I last posted and things have been rather irregular lately, but there’s a reason for it.
Lots of things are changing, in a good way (which I hinted at in a previous post “Seasons of Change”). However, it’s the good changes that you have to fight for the most. You see, the things that you really want in life definitely won’t be handed to you on a silver platter.
You have to fight for it!
Sure, the news might report on an “overnight success” story or two, but these are either complete and utter blind luck or, the more likely scenario is, you never saw the years of hard work those people spent working towards their so-called “overnight success”.
There will be setbacks.
There will be times when you need to stand back and change your strategy.
There will be times when people (including yourself) tell you to just give up, that the dream is too big, that the goal is so far out of reach that it’s beyond the clouds in the sky.
That’s when we need to stand back and them them all to go and get stuffed!
Continue fighting for it with everything you have.
Sure there will be times when you even doubt yourself, so in that case, take a step back and remind yourself that “you’ve got this” and keep on fighting.
As long as you keep on working towards your goal or dream, you can never really fail. The point is that you fight for it, don’t sit back and say “It’s too hard” or wait for someone to hand it to you on that magical silver platter, there is no silver platter.
You need to do it for yourself, you need to fight for it.
So whatever it is, get out there and fight for it!
Here I sit, with my laptop repaired and restored, except for a few minor issues (DirectX or something). New super-fast and super-quiet SSD, rather than the old faulty HDD that caused all the issues to begin with.
I finally feel the hunger to write again, to express my thoughts and imaginings through words. To create, to explore and to escape the world for just a moment, all through words.
Things are changing for the better and I’m not just referring to the laptop issues.
Change is definitely in the air, both literally and figuratively.
While the nights are still cold, the days are warm, sunny and full of promise. When winter came along it brought with it the feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt, but the season for change is upon us again.
Some changes happen naturally, others are triggered by a series of events and happenings.
Change is not always good perhaps, but change is necessary and this is seen in nature.
No matter which season you enjoy (or detest) the most, each season plays a necessary role in renewal of the earth.
This is the same for us. While some changes get us feeling down, they often lead to others that leave us feeling renewed and full of life again.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu
Now here I sit, the changes of spring making an early appearance with flowers cautiously poking out of the ground, testing the air and revelling in the sunshine.
These are good changes.
Being able to comfortably write again at my laptop, renewing my hunger to express myself through words.
These are good changes.
Making decisions for our family, about our future.
These are good changes.
In life, in nature in everyday living, we go through seasons of change.
Whether they be spoken, written or expressed in song, words evoke a range of emotions.
Happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, excitement, wanderlust, calmness, a sense of peace or even agitation and restlessness.
So many emotions, with just a few words.
But they need to be the right words, in order to evoke the desired emotion.
Words can call forth memories, reminding us of better times, or perhaps of sadness.
Yet the power of words is sometimes lost.
Lost in translation perhaps or beyond the understanding of the audience.
You see, in order for the words to be powerful enough to evoke the range of emotions, they first must be understood. If the words are too complex for the reader (or listener) then the power of them is lost. If the words are not in the language of the reader, then again, their power is lost.
Music however, is different. Music is a language all of its own, instinctively understood by all, no matter their age or language(s) spoken.
The notes, the key, the instruments used and so on, are the words, understood by those who can hear it.
Even the very young can understand and interpret the language of music. Some are more fluent in this language than others, for some this language comes naturally, for others it is something that is developed over time.
Even an infant can interpret and respond to the language of music, through the expression of emotion.
Don’t believe me?
Take this for example….
My youngest, who is now four, has always been particularly fluent in the language of music. Even as an infant baby he would cry when certain songs were played and express happiness or content when others were played. He would sob (not scream and cry, but sob) uncontrollably if someone was to sing to him “rock-a-bye baby”. He was the one-year old who would be listening to a Disney CD and would also sit sobbing quietly, tears streaking down his cheeks when the song “Baby mine” from Dumbo would play. As he got older he became more able to express the feelings evoked through music by saying Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” made him sad, but also like he wanted to cuddle and sleep.
Have you ever heard a piece of music that evoked such strong emotions that you just couldn’t handle it? A piece that hit you “right in the feels?”
For my youngest and I, that song is “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins.
There’s something about that song, it’s a combination of the music and the words, combined with the imagery of the old bird woman that gets me every time, no matter how many times I hear it. I can’t even sing along without getting choked up, which can be a little annoying when it is one of my favourite songs.
The beauty, the pain.
“Though her words are simple and few,
listen, listen, she’s calling to you”
“This song makes me cry,” he said from the backseat as we listened to the soundtrack in the car. All I could do was nod in agreement, because for some reason, it has the exact same effect on me., no matter how many times I hear it.
I’m also that person who chokes back tears during musicals, especially at the theatre. Sometimes they’re happy tears, sometimes not, but always they are an expression of thanks. Thanks that I can experience and interpret the language of music and words.
Words are powerful tools for evoking emotions.
Music with the notes, key and instruments are just as powerful, perhaps even more so, as they can be understood by many.
So when music and words are combined, either for an audience or perhaps to bring out the emotion in the words as you write, music is a great and powerful tool.
Feed the birds.
Feed your creativity.
Use music to find the right words.
Because music and the right words have a power that we can’t always explain.