Go with the flow…

From http://hypernews.ngdc.noaa.gov

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Recently I was reading a book about living in the present and being mindful of my environment. I have always found this so difficult to do. Some times I master it for a little while and then I slip back into old habits.

Then I was thinking about my need to be ever vigilant to my environment; always trying to pre-guess what will happen next and the need to be ready to respond in a way that would keep up the peace and harmony around me. For me, being (1) in that state of  “high alert” and (2)being present in the moment,  are very different states of mind.

 Some times in my life I have experienced being ‘in the flow’. My first memories of that were at school when I was sewing. I had an incredibly strong need to get to the finished product and then I felt free of the enormous pressure within. I still don’t really understand what was going on. I don’t think I was comfortable with a creative urge. I didn’t know how to handle it.

 I also experienced this ‘flow’ with my school work – in things such as spelling, grammar, writing, maths, singing… Today I experience it when I am engrossed in writing.

 In many of the roles I undertook in the community sector I experienced this ‘flow’. When I was working with others of similar minds and we were working to meet similar good outcomes for disadvantaged people – it just felt that I was in the right place at the right time and experienced the feeling that our loftiest goals were attainable – and often they were reached.  

There are times when everything seems to “come together” and that is a great feeling. I don’t believe it is accidental though. I think it has a lot to do with knowing what I want and putting in the work to achieve it. Maybe there is a little bit of magic there as well, that makes it all work out.

It feels great when I can use my skills and abilities to get a good outcome and really enjoy the process as well!

cheers

Lorraine

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Plans for today?

Toilette+Salome

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Well, I was up bright and early this morning as I had a hair appointment at 9.00am and following that, I was to do my once weekly, voluntary job at the Citizens Advice Bureau from 10.ooam to 2.00pm. I headed off from home and said I would be back at about 2.30pm. All was well!

It was good to see my hairdresser and outline what I wanted her to do with my hair (changing styles at present). She knew I had the 10.00am commitment and she made sure I was free to leave by 9.50am. I walked across the lawn to my vehicle parked by the curb.

It was at this point that my plans were thrown into disarray! Unbeknown to me there was a hole in the ground of the verge but it was not clearly visible as grass was growing in it. My foot went into the hole and my entire body (head first) moved at speed toward the bitumen road.

I experienced that sense of slow motion of what was happening, knowing I was powerless to stop. I didn’t have the chance to put my arms or knees forward to cushion the blow. My head collided with the bitumen and my new glasses hit the ground and then bounced a metre away from me. I was more upset about my new glasses than my head at this point in time.

I was lying face down on the road and trying to figure out what had happened. I was a bit cross with myself as this wasn’t part of today’s schedule. Next I heard someone coming toward me and looking very concerned about my welfare. I tried to reassure him I was ok. Then my hairdresser was also on the scene expressing her concern and helping me to my feet. 

My kindly hairdresser took me inside and sat me down. It was at this point I realised that my head was bleeding quite a bit. She cleaned the wound up a little and I called for Tom to come and collect me as I was a bit too shaky to drive the car home. I rang and put my apologies in for my voluntary job.

When Tom arrived I suggested we check in at the doctor’s just in case I needed to have any stitches. The nurse very kindly checked my injury and the doctor decided I needed some stitches, four in all.

So, the moral of this story is, when we get up each morning and have grand plans for the day, sometimes things happen beyond our control. Fortunately for me it was only a minor injury and I have had a great excuse to take it easy all day today.

cheers for now

Lorraine

The good life…

Here is one I prepared earlier.

I am stuck for a topic to write about today as I wasn’t at all inclined to write about Donald Trump and his suitability as a presidential candidate. That is a very scary thought that I don’t want to contemplate. I came across these comments of mine about “the good life” and decided to share them today.

What makes up a good life? Does this mean having a good life or leading a good life or both? The much asked questions! What would my answers be? The following thoughts are for starters:

  • adequate material goods so as not to be deprived
  • friends and family in near proximity
  • some sense of making a difference to the community I live in
  • ability to sleep peacefully at night
  • enough food, water and clothing to feel adequate, relative to the society I live
  • transport to enable access services
  • leisure time and a hospitable environment
  • medical support in times of need
  • laughter and a good sense of humour
  • good physical and mental health
  •  communication with others including considering the big questions in life
  • debate to support an agile mind
  • a connection to the natural world
  • a fascination and wonder of nature and beauty
  • the ability to show others I care for them
  • the ability to encourage others in their times of difficulty
  • ability to inspire others to be courageous in their own lives
  • gratitude for what I have
  • resilience to overcome difficulties
  • humility to accept my limitations – ability to overcome ego
  • music
  • hugs

What are your thoughts? Did I leave some out?

cheers

Lorraine

Homelessness

Homeless in Amsterdam

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What is it like to be homeless? Can I have any inkling of how it feels? How do I think it would feel? Well for starters I think feeling vulnerable would be near the top of the list!

 I have seen people sleeping rough on the streets. How could anyone sleep in a public place and not feel vulnerable? They are vulnerable to robbery, violence, rejection, abuse, humiliation and all the natural elements such as heat, cold and rain!

 I remember in the 1970’s when I used to pass through Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne as I would walk to work for a 7.00am start at AW Allen (where South Bank is now). There were many times that I came across men sleeping rough in the gardens. I had no fear that they would do any harm to me. I was very moved with a desire to help. It affected me emotionally in a way that I didn’t understand. I began to think that I was attracted to dirty old men who didn’t shave!

 I look at Indigenous homelessness in a different way. From my experience there appears to be a degree of homelessness in Indigenous people when they are away from their traditional land and their family group. It wasn’t necessarily just a case of needing a house to live in.

 I came close to being homeless myself once. I was seventeen at the time and new to Melbourne from country Victoria. I was sharing house with my partner and he took off without notice and there were complications with the other couple in the house. I had to get out. I found a boarding house (something like YWCA) however I didn’t cope very well at all with that type of environment. I became very introverted and shy and that seemed to bring out the aggression in the other young people staying there. I wanted to run away but I had no money and no means of transport. I remember linking up with one fellow there and he talked about stealing a car and driving to Sydney. I was so close to proceeding along that path but something stopped me. It was a case of “but for the grace of God” as people say.

 So if a quiet country girl from a good family can start down that path of homelessness and illegal behaviour, I can see that it could happen to anyone. I have met alcoholics and drug addicts that have been homeless. Their lives were so out of control that they have been kicked out of, or have left the family home. Truth is that they weren’t really living as part of the family – their lives revolved around their drug of choice.

 Any respectable man or women can find themselves homeless at some time in their lives. Mental illness is another case that is most often linked to the addiction problems. There is now a debate about what comes first; the addiction or the mental health condition. It can become a deadly cycle leading all the way down hill.

What can the community do about these issues and how can we work together to help people to stay in their homes and not find themselves sleeping rough? It is not just a matter of putting a highly dysfunctional person into a new home and leave them to it. There needs to be a holistic approach. The community (including government and non government agencies) need to work more closely together to address the issues of addiction, mental health, abuse and dysfunction.

That’s all for today…

cheers

Lorraine

My Mum

a hospital room (Denmark, 2005)

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It is five years ago today that my Mum passed away. She was  83. After Dad passed away in 2004, Mum didn’t have much desire to keep on living. She had dementia but still retained her wit and much of her lively personality.

It was a difficult time when they both became unwell and unable to live at home. I lived some distance from where they were, so most of my contact was by phone or mail (snail mail). My sister had the bulk of the responsibility in looking after them both. Mum was a trained nurse and had been Dad’s carer for several years before his death. It became obvious that she wasn’t coping when Dad was admitted to hospital.

When Dad was in hospital they discovered he had stomach cancer and there was nothing they could do. He lived for about  6-7 weeks after the diagnosis. I was fortunate to be able to spend a few days with him before he died.  It was difficult to cope with their deteriorating physical and mental capacities. In part, it brought home the reality that we will all meet our end at some point. This can be very depressing or it can be a big reminder to enjoy the life we have today. I chose to see the positive side things and tried to learn what I could from the experience.

My Mum lived for fifteen months after Dad died. She really lost the will to keep going. She refused to eat and had no interest in life at all. She was getting thinner and thinner each day. I had a few visits to see her during this period. Each time I left I thought it would be the last time I saw her. And, of course, one time it was! She died on 25 April 2006 from a stroke.

Mum was very well-known in our small town as she had worked as a Nurse at the local hospital for nearly thirty years. She was very well liked and respected. She was present at the births of many local residents and then present at the births of their children!

Sometimes I feel her presence so close to me, especially these last few weeks. They are often times I think to call her and remember that I can’t. I would love her to meet MY grandchildren and for her to guide me how to be a good Grandma. As I get older I can see her more as a person and understand her better and appreciate more and more how kind and generous she was to me.  Love you, Mum xxx

All for now

Lorraine

Hunting in the Kimberley

Fitzroy River looking north from bridge at Fit...

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Many years ago my husband and I went to live in Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. Fitzroy Crossing has a large Aboriginal population. I had two young sons and pregnant with my third son.

I was unsure how to involve myself in the community and, as I had a strong Christian faith at the time, I prayed for God’s guidance. After some time in reflection I saw that my greatest strength was in my English language skills (I based this on the fact that I always got good English results at school and I loved the subject.)

An opportunity arose for me to teach English to  a group of Aboriginal women. They had classes before however the teacher had moved on and there was no-one to fill her place. There was no class-room and no facilities. I had no prior training apart from High School.  The women were really keen to learn and didn’t give up encouraging me to be their teacher. I finally agreed and committed to doing the best I could with what I know.

As it turns out, I really loved that time working with the Aboriginal women. They were an incredible group of women who already spoke 3 or 4 Aboriginal languages (not dialects – but real complex languages) and were very keen to learn English.

We first started meeting under a shady tree in my back-yard. Later an old house became available and we moved there for classes. I used all sort of strategies for teaching: phonetics (they didn’t have some of the English sounds in their languages eg d and t); we used to do activities together and then write a few sentences about what we did (this worked really well); and we used newspapers as resources as well. Real progress was made and I loved every lesson.

A friendship developed with the women and we shared other aspects of each others’ lives. I was the only one of us that had a vehicle and they asked me if I would go “out bush” with them so they could go hunting. I agreed and the day was arranged.

We drove several kilometres out-of-town and then we stopped and everyone was out of the vehicle. I was given the job of collecting wood to start a fire to cook our dinner. Now that is what I call optimistic!

It wasn’t long before I heard yells and screams (not in English) and several of the women were very excited. They had found a hole where a King Brown snake was quietly minding its own business. They poked and prodded until it had come out to see what all the fuss was about. And then it was attacked with sticks from all angles until they were happy it was sufficiently dead. It was brought over to me and put on the ground in preparation for cooking. It was the biggest, fattest snake I have ever seen, and it was still wriggling. They giggled at me for being concerned but to keep me happy, they cut its head off. I felt a little better after that.

Later they came back with a big goanna. It was decided that we would cook the goanna and take the snake back to town. They asked if I would keep it in my freezer but I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing it every time I went for the ice-cream. The most precious part of the goanna was the kidney fat – it was  like something really special. This would have been very important in their traditional lives to sustain them for long periods where they may go without food.

The goanna meat was surprisingly tasty – a bit like chicken. A few months ago I had some crocodile at a restaurant and that tasted like goanna as well. What a day! Such great memories to hold onto. I would love to go back there one day. Those women were amazing and I am sure they still are today.

As an aside to this story – my marriage broke up when I was in Fitzroy Crossing. These women were a great support to me during this period. I learnt so much from them.

cheers for now

Lorraine

Photo source: Zamphour 22 June 2007 via Wikipedia

Lost in London

Marble Arch as it is now, standing near Speake...

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In 2008 I finally visited London. It seems to be a rite of passage for most Australians (mine was a bit later than most!). Today, most don’t think of the UK as the “motherland” but for me it was bit like visiting my grandparents!

We arrived at Heathrow at 6am on a Sunday morning. After checking in at our accommodation (a nice spot near Hyde Park) we looked for some breakfast. It was a strange introduction to English cuisine as the only place nearby was a Turkish Cafe. At the next table, several men were using smoking implements – I have no idea what they were smoking and I didn’t ask! It is still one of my first impressions of London.

After breakfast my partner, Tom and I, decided we would overcome jet lag by keeping busy all day.  Tom was born in England and has worked in London, so he was an ideal tour guide for me. I quickly became adept at using the Underground railway to move rapidly from one significant venue to the next. [“Significant” was a bit subjective – eg a pub he used to drink at] 🙂

It was great to see where Tom used to work at County Hall and I really loved seeing the Houses of Parliament. The London Eye was just like I expected. My favourite part of town was The Strand and the boundaries of Old London. I was also spell-bound by the Royal Courts of Justice – what amazing buildings! I have often seen them on the TV news.

I had a day on my own and decided to take an organised tour of London to fit in the usual tourist attractions. This included St Paul’s Cathedral, a boat trip on the river Thames, Buckingham Palace and a visit to the Tower of London and the Crown Jewells. The tour group travelled on a deluxe coach and I sat next to a woman called Doris from Texas. It was hilarious, as even though we were both speaking English, we had a lot of trouble understanding what each other was saying! It was the first time I was really aware of having an accent!

Doris and I spent most of the time together during the tour. We were scheduled to meet the coach at 5pm near a cafe, under a tree, where we first arrived. I was a bit negligent in making a note of the site. I realised this when it was getting near home time and Doris and I went to look for our departure site (under a tree, near the cafe). It was only when it was after 5.00pm that we started to get concerned about where the coach was. I finally found my tickets and rang the company to find out why they weren’t there. They told me the bus had left and it was too bad and I must find my own way home.

Doris and I were a bit unsure what to do. I had no context of where we were in relation to where I was staying. Doris and I decided to part and I have often wondered if she is still wandering around looking for her way back to her hotel. I told myself to be brave and to keep walking until I could get some bearing on where I was. After some time I saw a sign for the Underground Railway. I decided to take my chances on catching a train back to the hotel.

I was so pleased we had spent our first day in London getting on and off trains as I was able to find my nearest station, Marble Arch, and get myself back there in good time – probably quicker than the coach.

Now I take delight in telling the story about the day I was abandoned at the Tower of London. That was one of the biggest highlights of my holiday. There were more but I will save them for another blog on another day!

cheers

Lorraine

Desperately seeking…

linkedin

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What more can I do? In my quest to become self-employed I have used a range of strategies. The following are examples of what I have done:

  • designed some business cards describing the writing services I offer and distributed them on notice boards and to friends and contacts
  • emailed a range of community organisations offering my writing services
  • emailed the editors of my local newspapers and offered to write for them on a part-time or regular basis
  • emailed all the local printers and offered to proof-read and offer copy for their customers
  • send a story off to a magazine – I got a nice reply but my story wasn’t suitable
  • put an ad in the local paper – no response
  • learnt how to advertise on Google – that was fun but no success in gaining business
  • contacted my local college to see if there were any opportunities
  • utilised my networks and passed on my resume to lots of people
  • joined Seek
  • joined LinkedIn
  • set up a page on my blog related to my business ideas
  • read several books: Facebook Marketing; Consulting, Contracting and Freelancing; Work from Home; Make a Real Living out of Freelance Writing; Magazine Article Writing; Style Manual; various books on grammar etc.
  • practised writing by doing my blog as often as I can
  • offered my skills to the local Member of Parliament’s Office
  • offered my skills to my local council
  • explored doing some more training

I acknowledge that I need to be patient and keep writing and keep trying. It is my dream to be able to be fully occupied working from home through using what skills I have in writing.

Perhaps I need to stand back,  give everything a good shake and then re-look at where I am going and what I want to do.

Cheers for now and have a happy and safe Easter!

Lorraine

Recurring dreams

Flag of Lorraine.

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I often dream that I am hosting an event where lots of people are coming and they expect to be fed. I only remember at the last-minute that I have committed to holding this event. People start arriving and I am not ready. I don’t have the table set and I don’t have enough food. I frantically try to find some food that I can stretch out to feed the invited guests. The event is a real disappointment. Afterwards I am left to clean up a massive mess and I am doing it all on my own!

Another dream I have is that I have to travel a great distance in the bush (hundreds of kilometres) and I need to get there before it is too dark as I don’t want to drive in the dark. As the trip progresses I come across floods and inaccessible roads. I then need to decide whether to try to go ahead to my destination or stay put. It feels like an impossible task to complete.

I dream about babies a lot too. Often I am responsible for looking after someone else’s baby but I get busy and forget that I am supposed to be the carer. When I remember, I panic and go looking for the child. Sometimes something tragic has happened to the child but other times I find it and it is ok and I am very relieved!

Another common one is that I wake up in the morning and get busy doing all sorts of mundane activities and forget that I am supposed to be at work. I then debate whether to ring in and say I am sick or to turn up late. If I do go to the office I find that someone else has taken my seat.

For years I used to dream about crossing a bridge, a very scary swinging bridge that was broken. There is usually a raging river underneath. Until this week, I had never successfully crossed the bridge to the other side, however I DID make it (quite bravely too, if I may say so 🙂 ) this week. I am sure that must be a good sign.

Cheers for now

Lorraine