Posted in Learning, Life, Writing

2016 Writing Challenge: Day #2

Looking up

The topic for today is to dig through the couch cushions, your purse, or your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find, then share what you were doing that year.

The first coin I laid my hands on was from 1993. It makes me wonder how many pockets it’s been in in the intervening years, and what it’s been used to buy, but that’s getting off-track, and I need to focus on the task at hand.

In 1993, which was twenty-three years ago (in case you were trying to do the calculation) I was in my first year of university. It was an exhilarating time, scary to be sure, but exhilarating. I turned 31 that year, and had had many years of wanting to use my brain and here I was, finally doing it.

I’d been volunteering (full-time) at a community radio station the year before I started university, doing everything from gathering and reading the news (in the time before the internet), updating the music database, creating music playlists for 16 hours of programs (each day), recording and editing sponsorship announcements, interviewing ‘celebrities’ (some of them were even real celebrities: Jeanne Little springs to mind), producing and presenting a talk show in the after lunch timeslot, organising the Schools Out program, and a host of other duties. I loved every minute of it, except the part where the station manager told me that her prayer group were praying for me because I was living in a ‘sinful relationship’. But everything else was fabulous. It was real work, I was learning heaps, and surprisingly I was good at it all.

I was enjoying this work, even though it didn’t pay the bills, and not thinking of venturing into other things. But then an opportunity came knocking, and a deep-seated desire for learning reared its head, and you can’t ignore deep-seated desires now, can you?

The opportunity was in the form of a brochure which appeared on the front counter at the radio station. It was from the University of Tasmania and was promoting a teaching degree in English, Speech and Drama.

I had no ambition to be a teacher, but the English and Drama bits appealed to me (a lot).

I applied, went through the interview process, and was accepted. I can gloss over those moments now, but at the time each of those steps was fraught with self-doubt, what if …, how do you…, but …; agonising over whether I could/should, considering what the practicalities meant (one practicality was having to move to Launceston. I lived a two-hour drive away and it wasn’t possible to travel every day.) There were other, more important, considerations, but this isn’t the place to air them. Suffice to say that throughout the process I was feeling all sorts of trepidation but when the acceptance letter came through, excitement took over. For a time, and then, when the reality struck, trepidation made a return.

I enrolled, bought a house, moved to Launceston mid-February, found a wonderful woman to look after my three-year old daughter, Emma, and in the final week of February started university.

First day, Monday morning, 9am, Drama in the Auditorium. The class was relatively small, less than 20 students, many of whom knew each other, all of whom had studied Drama in college, all of whom were 17 or 18 years old. I sat on the edge of stage wondering what on earth I’d gotten myself into. I was struck by how much I was behind, before we’d even started. I had been in a theatre group in my teens, but that was around the time these young people were born. I’d completed senior secondary education, but that was 10 years before (we don’t have time for that story now) … I felt overwhelmed by my lack of experience, my lack of knowledge, my advanced age, my newness to Launceston, even by my lack of work experience. These young people had had more jobs in their 17 or 18 years than I’d had in my 31.

But they were generous and because we had all of our classes together, we got to know each other quickly. I don’t know if that was helped by having to get up close and personal in many of our classes. In Voice and Speech we spent time in the early weeks massaging each other, in Movement we had to choreograph, rehearse and present dance pieces together which sometimes meant rolling over each other on the floor (or eating cheezels off each other’s fingers), in Theatre we had to pair up to run seminars, which meant hours of working closely together, in Drama we had to devise performances and rehearse which again meant working closely with others. We were at uni a lot! We had 24 contact hours that first year and many (many) more spent in rehearsals of one sort or another.

The age difference wasn’t ever an issue; in fact it was an advantage. The others soon learnt that I knew when assignments were due, that I could bake biscuits, that I was reliable when it came time to rehearse, that I wasn’t scared of the lecturers, that I was prepared to negotiate on their behalf, that I would accompany them to meetings when they were worried about those meetings being at the lecturer’s house after dinner (that’s just creepy, Sharon/no it isn’t Ashley, he won’t hurt you), and that I had done the readings. I was worth getting to know!

That first year I studied Voice and Speech, Movement, Theatre, Drama, Tech Theatre, English Literature, and an Education subject. I spent my time outside of class in rehearsals, preparing for seminars and presentations, being an assistant stage manager for the third years, on a two-week placement learning what it was like to be a teacher, sourcing or making costumes and props, creating lighting plans, learning lines, learning how to use the library and how to write academically, reading, talking about plays and poetry and monologues, rolling my pelvis to release my breath, learning how to use my organs of articulation more effectively … learning, always learning.

It was the start of a learning journey that hasn’t stopped.

Do you have memories of 1993? Was it a big, risky, scary year for you too? Please feel free to share your memories in the comments section below.

Posted in Learning, Life, Writing

2016 Writing challenge: Day #1



Remember me? I used to write posts on this blog, something I haven’t done for a few months. I admit to missing it, so here I am.

I was re-working my blog last night – putting all my writing onto the one page so that if anyone wanted to find it and read it, they could. I had a reason for doing this, but this isn’t the time to go into that.

I have been thinking about writing something for some time now, as I’m aware that while I used to blog using words and ideas to express myself I now use images. That’s a big shift. A shift in perspective as well as a shift in the form I choose to communicate my world. It’s hardly surprising though, given that my world has changed quite significantly in the past two and a half years. The word and ideas part has diminished somewhat.

It’s almost exactly two years since I moved to Melbourne. Maybe just as significantly, it’s now six months since I left the job I walked into as soon as I got here. Oh, I’ve worked since then – in fits and starts admittedly – but I haven’t had to get up every morning and head to a workplace. I transcribe audio interviews from home; I develop content for the university course I’m teaching at home; I work on a teacher toolkit for a volunteer organisation at home; I record lectures and upload them to the university’s learning management system from home; I supervise research higher degree students from home; I meet with the publisher of my textbook to talk about the next edition from home; I mark university assignments at home. I do, however, go out to teach. Well, I did, but semester is now over and only the marking remains. To be done from home.

Of course, I also I think about applying for jobs and intermittently spend the day looking for something I want to, am qualified for, or not too old to do. I write applications, address selection criteria, and ensure my resume is fit for purpose. I have, on occasion, attended interviews, then waited (and waited) for the inevitable ‘no thanks’.

It’s fair to say that I’ve spent a lot of time at home. I bake much more now than I used to. I read a lot. I’m up to the second season of Seachange. (It holds up really well, in case you find yourself with some time on your hands.)

So, why this post? Well, in re-organising my blog I came across two writing challenges I had been set a number of years ago. One was from my husband Tim, who challenged me to write about writing every day for a week, and the other challenge was from Jill, a former student, who challenged me to write each day for a week about what I’d learnt outside of formal learning. I remembered that while they were challenging (I guess that’s part of the inherent nature of challenges) I enjoyed writing them, and I particularly enjoyed the interactions some of those posts sparked with those who read them.

So here I am: about to spend a week being disciplined, achieving a goal – one post per day, thinking. Those of you who know me well know that how I love to think. I will work to a particular topic each day, the first of which is: when you started your blog, did you set any goals? Have you achieved them? Have they changed at all?

Please realise that I find it extremely challenging to write to a topic, so there will be times when my writing only tangentially applies to it. A bit like a beginning university student writing an essay! Oh that’s cruel Sharon … perhaps, but if you’ve read as many first year university students’ essays as I have you’ll know there’s a lot of truth in it.

So, to the topic. Did I set any goals when I started my blog? [Three hours later] I’ve just trawled back through my blog to find my initial post to see if I had expressed a goal. And yes, I had. This blog is for me to determine whether I have anything to say. That’s a goal. Isn’t it? I also thought, back then, I might write on a weekly basis. I even joked about scheduling time to write. I never got as far as scheduling, but for a while I found things to write about. Now I’m not so sure, but I’m prepared to give it a go.

Are you willing to travel on this journey with me? It’s only for a week, and you never know what we’ll discover along the way. And I might just discover whether I do have something to say.

Posted in Photography, Travel


The Table Cape Lighthouse at Table Cape (Wynyard, Tasmania).

This is another photo that was highly commended by my photography tutor.


The lighthouse was built by Chance and Luck (one was the designer, the other was the builder) in the late 1880s.

Posted in Food, Photography


Some buy cupcakes and coffee to eat and drink …

I buy them to photograph.


Or to be quite honest, I photograph what Tim buys to eat, drink and photograph!

Posted in Photography, Portraits


My photography class finished tonight. Where did that eight weeks go?

This image won the approval of my tutor for lots of technical reasons: leading lines, diminishing perspective, repetition, lines, colour, texture, framing a subject within a subject …

I just like it because it has Tim in it!