Monday, February 21, 2011

Isn't attachment such a curse?

I was at a Thrift shop a couple of days ago and happened to notice this mounted photograph.  My heart leaped with joy as I savored the sweet sentiment and rustic setting of this simply charming composition.

I had to have it in my home where I could enjoy it over and over again, so I was only too pleased to part with $4!  Now if that isn't a bargain :)

This last week has been a week of exceptional accomplishment for me.  I finally got round to going through several boxes of my 'possessions' from almost four years ago when I last moved house.  They'd been living under my friend, J's worker's cottage.

I was delighted to find almost everything in perfect nick and both thrilled and dismayed at the sight of all my books (over 10 boxes of them).  Thrilled to reconnect with 'old friends' and dismayed at the thought of having to part with them again.  I simply don't have the room in my tiny studio apartment.  And, to be fair, there were a few of them that I was actually ready to let go.

So, J and I took some of those books along with a whole heap of clothes, plates, glasses, cups and crockery and other bric-a-brac to the Salvos.  I've got a couple of boxes of books that I've saved for a friend of mine as I know she'll enjoy them.  They are mostly on personal and spiritual development - books that have served me well over many years.

I still have about 3 boxes of books that I'm not quite ready to part with and I'm vacillating between keeping them (but where or where???) and giving them to one or other of those Opportunity Shops (isn't that the most gorgeous name???  Although, sadly, it's often abbreviated to Op shops which kinda makes us forget what they really are!). 

I must admit that as each day passes, I feel stronger about letting them go too especially when I think they could land in the hands of people who would really get something from them (as I have).

Do you have possessions from a previous life that you find hard to part with?  What are they?  And what have you done about it?

PS  Have you checked out my 'newish' blog with my pictures and poems including a couple of digital paintings that I've done?  Right here :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

And what's it got to do with the price of cantaloupes?

I love books.  I love touching them, smelling them, leafing through then, looking at them, buying them, keeping them, seeing them pile up on my coffee table or neatly organized on my bookshelf, discovering them, feeling them around me and reading them.

I have been so enriched by the books I've read.  There is almost no book that I've read where I've felt it was a waste of time.  I almost always find something, no matter how insignificant or incidental, that causes me to think a little more, a little farther, a little deeper, a little wider.

Right now, as I'm writing this, my head's brimming with thoughts about my relationship with books and I'm finding it a little daunting just trying to keep track of them and share them in some coherent, easy-to-read way.  Perhaps it's best if I just write them as they stream through....

When I was a kid, my family was too poor to afford books for me and my siblings.  It was a challenge enough just getting us our school books.  So I found myself reading over and over again, this one torn and tattered, hand-me-down book about families and children which had a few black and white photographs in it.  How I cherished that book! 

There was one picture that I can still see so vividly in my mind.  It was a picture of a boy and his little sister holding hands in this wonderful, blurred field.  The boy had his face lifted and the girl had light through her hair.  They looked so happy.  I must've spent hours looking at that picture, often wistfully.  Yes, a child of three or four can be wistful especially if it's made to grow up in a domestic world of violence and rejection.

I remember pointing to that picture and imploring my brother, 4 years older than me, 'Why can't we be like that?'.  What I meant was, why couldn't he be loving toward me so that we could be happy just like those kids.

You see, my brother was very mean to me and remained mean to me for the best part of twenty-odd years.  My offense?  Being born, I suppose, and usurping his position within the family.

In truth, his position was never threatened as he continued to remain the 'pet' son and child long, long into his adulthood.  But I can appreciate how he could have felt threatened.

For my part, I was deeply hurt that I could be so loathed and by implication, so loathsome!  I believe it was something that I carried well into my adulthood as well.  Sheesh!

These days, with life experiences that have both tortured and healed us, we have discovered the deep love that was always there between us.  It is a love that is expressed in gentle ways, like keeping in touch, listening to each others woes, not often but when it happens, it takes the form of true, deep listening where we just want to be present to each other and where we instinctively feel that we are there for each other.

That's precious.  And, if you haven't already wondered or noticed, not got a quiver of a thing to do with books and my relationship with them which is where I started this post.  At least, not in any obvious way.  Ah, but that's a typical TB post now, isn't it ??? :)

Books on my coffee table

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Self-Interview and some Invitations

So my dear blog friend, Dieter of Confessions of a Wannabe Writer was just too kind and mentioned me as one of the 4 people he'd like to participate in this Self-Interview (which I think was started by another blogger).

Just being mentioned on his blog (which incidentally has over 140 followers - compare that to my paltry 19...sheesh...) was already a wonderful surprise for me.  But to be invited to do this self-interview was like a Christmas gift that wasn't thrown in with the rest but time-picked to arrive just now... :)  Thanks ever so much Dieter, you're a sweet, sweet friend )

I generally find interview questions about your favorite this and that painfully tedious and limiting...I mean, it would take me forever to give meaningful answers and most people don't appear to be too interested in *meaningful* answers.

I could be wrong of course, but it seems to be that *meaningful* answers don't compete too well with tiny, speck-sized, tweetified snap, crackle and pop word sprays that people can snatch glimpses of (rather than actually read) in-between their email, the latest celebrity gossip, text messages and updates on their ebay bids. 

But the questions in this  Self-Interview  interested me enough to want to take my time and answer them as meaningfully as I could.  And that, if nothing else, has served their purpose.  If you happen to enjoy reading my responses, that would be bonus.

But now that the easy part is done, I have the job of inviting 4 other bloggers to do the same Self-Interview.

Who shall I choose from my meager list of followers and even leaner list of commenters?  Not a lot of choice, I'm afraid as Dieter  has already done his and Will of Gay Arab Guy has already been 'tagged'.

But, I believe I can just make the number by asking the next most frequent commenters on my blog.  Folks, forgive me if this feels like I've no one else to choose.  In one sense, that's true.

But, it's also true that  what you've already shared interests me enough to care to know more about you.  So, if you please, do indulge me and the readers of this blog :)  Many thanks in advance.

Frank's Musings and Prose
Mark of Success
Freedom and Flourishing
Margs Animals

Frank, Mark, Winton and Marg, hope you enjoy doing this Self-Interview as much as I did!

And now, my responses :)
1. If you have pets, do you see them as merely animals, or are they members of your family?

I wonder if they would consider me a member of their family!  My 'pet' dog (my cat got run over last year) is one of my best mates.  We co-habit.  We have agreements and understandings and compromises.  I've learned that she deserves respect just like anyone else I know and over the years (5 now), we've really got to know each other more deeply.  Hmm...I guess that answers that question :)

2. If you can have a dream to come true, what would it be?

Hey, I've got so many dreams it's hard to pick just one for this survey.  But since I have to, I'll tell you one.  Just remember that it is one of many and it is one that I've chosen to mention in this moment in time.  Give me a couple more minutes and it could well be a different one.

I'd like to meet my blog friends in their own country, hang out with them in their favorite places, eat their favorite food and do some of the things that they'd do when I'm not around.

Dieter (and Will) watch out!!!! :)

3. What is the one thing most hated by you?

Oh no, do you really want me to tell you?  You'll probably be cheesed off as  most people don't seem to give it a second thought. it is:

Loose hair (especially wet hair), on the floor, on my clothes, on my skin and horrors of all horrors, in my food.  It's the sort of thing that I would throw up on and have done...Sorry, but it's almost like a phobia.

4. What would you do with a billion dollars?

First, I'd pay off all my debts (to the friends who've kindly lent me money) and then give them at least $2000 more each.  I'd take them (and other good friends) on a cruise to some idyllic part of the world, perhaps Greece or Scotland or Finland.

I'd buy gifts for my children and family and friends.  I'd say: Get anything over $500 and go as high as you want to.

I'd book trips to various parts of the world for up to 3 years and spend time in each destination getting to know the locals and their lifestyle.

I'd get in contact with people in social and humanitarian organizations that I feel I can trust and seek their advice on how best I can help both in cash and kind.

I'd hire someone to help me promote my music and my writing so that I can influence people much more widely than I'm currently able to.

I'd buy homes in England, Europe (probably Italy but it might be Spain), America (probably California) and South America (where it's more cool than hot).  I'd spend time in these homes when I'm taking a break from my musical/spiritual tours and I'd encourage friends and people that I get to know in my humanitarian work to stay in them when I'm not there.

I'd fund people who truly wish to innovate our economic, housing and education systems and work directly with them.

I'd go to some of the big music festivals around the world and spend time work-shopping with some of my favorite musicians.

Well, these are some of the big ticket items... :)

5. What helps to pull you out of a bad mood?

Remembering what a waste of time and energy it is and remembering how easy it is to shift my attention to something desirable (like my ideal partner or what I'd do if I had a billion dollars.... and how much more pleasurable that would be :) )
6. Which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?

I don't know about being loved by someone but I do know about feeling loved and that is a wonderful, wonderful feeling.  Loving someone is equally wonderful.  That said, I feel I've still got a lot to learn about truly loving someone unconditionally, freely and for the sheer heck of it!
7. What is your bedtime routine?

Honestly?  Well, when I don't crash next to my laptop, I would change into my PJs, brush my teeth, wash my face (presuming I've already showered earlier), put some moisturizer on my face and my arms and body, drink a glass of water, finger comb my hair (actually I kinda massage my scalp), do a little bit of stretching and bending, take my clothes off (in summer) and get under the sheets. 

Then I lie down thinking about all the things that I'm grateful for in the day just gone and think of all the things I want for myself (if I haven't already fallen asleep).

8. If you are currently in a relationship, how did you meet your partner?

Sadly, I am not in a relationship but if anyone has any ideas how I might get into one, do let me know :)
9. If you could watch a creative person in the act of the creative process, who would it be?

Oh my goodness, haven't I thought of this often  - Jeff Beck, Chris Martin, Sean Penn, Pranav Mistry, Deepak Chopra, Seth Godin, people from TED,  Oberto Arraudi, the lady who has a blog about 'big women' and has the most gorgeous paintings of them (Looking at them, I sometimes think I wouldn't mind being big lol) and some of those amazing photographers and... children!!!!  Sorry, I should pick one. I'd go with kids.

10. What kinds of books do you read?

Right now, I'm reading a book, How To Get Lucky by Max  Gunther and Life After Death by Deepak Chopra.  Before that, I read King Arthur and the Bloody Cup by MK Hume and I'm frequently dipping into Notes from the Universe by Mike Dooley, Manifest your Dreams by Abraham through Esther and Jerry Hicks, poetry by Rumi, Tagore and Walt Whitman.

11. How would you see yourself in ten years time?

 If this means what I think I'd be like in ten years time, I think I'd be very fulfilled,  very free, excited and exciting, devoting much more of my time to helping people in whatever way I can especially through my music, writing and raising spiritual awareness and altogether having the time of my life.

12. What’s your fear?

I have sooooooooooooo many - snakes, forgetting my keys when I leave my unit, being fined for not putting in my tax returns, doing my tax returns and any kind of paper work (it's more a loathing than a fear) , my laptop freezing, not having internet access and would you believe....dressing just too perfectly!  Sheesh!

13. Would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to visit outer space?

 If that was the deal, I'd certainly give it a shot.  Then again, I'm not much of a junkie...the rare bag of crisps is about as bad as it gets. (I think!)

14. Would you rather be single and rich or married, but poor?

 OMG is this a trick question????  Definitely single and rich with plenty of opportunity to be in a loving relationship :)  Marriage can be such a kill joy!

15. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Try to remember my dreams in detail if I've had one that I have some memory of.  Think how wonderful it is to have another day to have an adventure with and then go to my lap top and check my mail.  Actually, no, I think the first thing I do is check the time on my watch :)

16. If you could change one thing about your spouse/partner what would it be?

Since I don't have one, I can't really answer that.
17. If you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be?

Something like Starwalker or Moondance or Moodflower or InSync or Freedom or Joy but probably in a nicer sounding language like French or Spanish or Italian or Sanskrit.

18. Would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing that special someone has done?

I'd do my darndest simply because holding on to anything horrible just hurts me.
19. If you could only eat one thing for the next 6 months, what would it be?

Should I be wise or impulsive here?  Wise answer - ricotta cheese.  Impulsive answer - salt and vinegar chips (Isn't that weird given that I rarely do junk food???)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Have we been robbed of an education?

I decided to do my Masters when I thought that I wanted to spend the rest of my working life in academia. Fact was, I really didn't have the imagination or the courage (and I do think there's a strong correlation between the two) to fashion a different career path for myself.  I'd been teaching and so naturally assumed that teaching was all I could do or even wanted to do.  Sheesh!

Don't get me wrong.  I love the process of taking information and repackaging it so it becomes easy and fun for others to handle.  That is creative work.  But I felt incredibly stifled in an education system that force fed students (I taught both teenagers and adults) a curriculum that I personally could not justify (as one kid who was taking acting classes out of school made me realize and not for the first time either: 'Miss, how is trigonometry going to help me?)

But this was only one part of a multi-faceted fiasco.  How do you teach a class of twenty odd adolescents who turn up everyday bearing the bruises of domestic mismanagement, parental apathy or compensatory overindulgence  and a frightening variety of other parental/domestic inaptitudes, not to mention of course, their hormonally driven obsession with identity, independence, impressions and shag-meistering?

If I had my way, the core curriculum I'd have for children for the 12 years of schooling that they do would be The Art and Science of Happiness, Health and Prosperity.  Nothing would equip them better for life.  After all, don't we spend most of our adulthood struggling to get just the basics of these right while suffering the consequences of our recurring failures?

Maths, Science, History, Geography, Literature, Music, Art, Economics and Languages would be offered as electives to those who showed good progress in the core curriculum.  Needless to say, teachers would learn a heck of a lot about Happiness, Health and Prosperity themselves by having to teach (hopefully by modeling) them.  And wouldn't that be a boon for all of society?

Oh dear, you'll never believe this but I was actually going to write on a topic in my list of topics I'd said I'd write about (which was in this post).  And  what was that?  It was about the crush that we didn't know we had.  Who?  My Masters/PhD supervisor and I.  You see, it was all related but obviously, I got side-tracked somewhat.  I will write about it in due course, though :)

Anyway, the subject of this post is important too.  I mean, as far as I'm concerned, the core skills that a person needs to have are the skills to be happy, healthy and prosperous.  And if they can't learn this in the 12 years that they spend at school, I reckon they're being robbed of an education.  What do you think?


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