Posted in Life

Un/scrambled

You  might think this is a post about eggs.

It isn’t.

It’s a post about ideas … or maybe not ideas so much as thoughts.

Or threads, but not of the clothes variety.

As an introvert I have a very quiet outer world – I’m not the ‘greeter’ – you know the one, the person who exuberantly says hello to everyone in the office each morning, or the one who bounces up to each person at a party to welcome them even if they aren’t the host.

I’m going out on a limb there you realise. I’m such an introvert that I don’t go to parties – apart from the one I’m going to today. But that’s different because that’s my eldest granddaughter’s birthday party and the only other people there will be my children and grandchildren. Maybe an odd friend or extended family member as well, but ostensibly a family party.

Family parties, when everyone there is an introvert, are interesting, particularly when there’s so much family.

Only three of my five children will be there, but between the three of them they have 10 children, plus four steps. It makes for a lot of people – who, yes, are all related, but who have more conversations going on in their heads than from their mouths.

I’m making it sound as though we stand aroung not talking, and that’s not the case at all. We talk non-stop. We’re just all so worn out at the end of it from talking so much that we need alone time to recharge.

But I digress.

Scrambled.

Thoughts.

Threads.

My sister wrote a comment on my previous blog post along the lines of ‘you have so many ideas’ and she also wrote, in her own blog, ‘I might look like I’m doing nothing, but in my head I’m very busy!’

I completly resonate with that sentiment – it’s a hallmark of an introvert – the quiet on the outside but busy on the inside thing.

And that called to mind this image I saw on social media a while ago. 

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I love those opportunities to have deep conversation with someone in which the scramble of thoughts/threads gets unscrambled.

I usually pay for those conversations, but that’s okay because the person I’m paying knows how to take the tangle and unravel it a little. Or maybe it’s because they listen so that I do the untangling myself, just by getting the threads out of my head and therefore out of the ravel.

[If you can unravel something, does that mean you can ravel it?]

When my students didn’t know where to begin in writing a university assignment, I’d tell them to just start, to put something down on the page and keep tugging gently at the idea/thought/thread through writing, so that eventually there are lots of ideas on the page and you can re-arrange them as required, throw some out, develop some further, add new ones, so that eventually you have a piece of writing that is as clear and unscrambled as you’d want a university assignment to be.

[Unlike that paragraph, which had too many ‘so that eventuallys’ in it. I could edit it but I like the forceful movement forward it implies.]

Deb’s right. I do have lots of ideas/thoughts and I’m getting much better at recognising when they’re in a tangle and knowing how I might go about untangling them.

I talk.

It’s exhausting. But ultimately far less exhausting than having the thoughts continually scrambling around my mind.

If you want some clarity – talk to someone trained to listen.

An unscrambled mind is so much less exhausting and far less heavy to carry around.

 

Posted in Learning, Life

Confluence

I click on the ‘add new post’ button and a blank page opens, with the blinking cursor sitting in the ‘Title’ box.

The word ‘confluence’ pops into my mind, so I type it in, then quickly check the dictionary definition to make sure it’s the right word for what I want to say.

A title is important. It helps synthesise our ideas in a way that suggests there’s a core idea the author wants to communicate and the author knows, at the start of the writing process, what that idea is.

Sometimes when I start writing a blog post I have no idea of the core idea I want to communicate, and so I leave the title blank. The act of writing helps distill my idea and it’s at that point a title emerges.

But not this time. In this moment, as I sit writing, I know the core idea I want to communicate and so the title is easy. Plus, I’ve been thinking about this for over a week now and that thinking has acted as a distillery.

Over a week ago I saw this on my Facebook feed.

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I remember being struck by the sentiment because we mostly hear ‘you only live once’ as an exhortation to make the most of things.

I’m currently, with lots of support from others, developing an ethics unit and am constantly on the lookout for case studies, resources, stories of ethical misconduct in the financial services sector (which is not hard to find at the moment), but when you search online for something, you enter into a rabbit warren of ideas and perspectives and views and things the internet believes you might be interested in.

One of those things was an interview Charles Wooley did earlier this year for 60 Minutes. I don’t ever watch 60 Minutes, but on this occasion, when the video was in my ‘Up next’ menu in YouTube,  I decided to watch it because I was interested in who Charles Wooley was interviewing: Ricky Gervais.

The interview opened with them both walking through a cemetery and at one point, Gervais says something like, “you don’t exist for billions of years, and then for 70 or 80 years you do, and then you don’t”.

It’s a cosmic view of life – a long-range look – one that perhaps brings a different perspective to our lives.

And as I sat thinking about his comment, Carl Sagan’s video ‘Pale Blue Dot’ sprang into my mind.

Consider that dot … on it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives … on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. ~ Carl Sagan

I could feel the confluence starting – ideas beginning to merge.

The idea that we don’t only live once, we live every day of our lives.

The idea that we’re here for such a small part of all time.

The idea that we’re all together, on this one tiny planet.

How am I living each day? How am I making the most of the opportunities my being here allows? How am I caring for others and for the only planet we can currently call home?

I don’t have answers; I rarely do.

But the questions are a starting point.

A confluence has to start somewhere and it may as well be here, as I sit, musing from the cold.

Posted in Photography

52 weeks … a year in words and images

As you’re no doubt aware, I like to take photos. Some of them are even okay. Others are relegated to the ‘do not ever open’ folder on my computer.

I generally take photos of flowers*, and when I travel I take photos of buildings and gardens and bridges. And people. Especially people. As someone who prefers not to interact with people, I’m often bemused by my love of taking photos of people.

I’ll happily walk up to someone in the city and ask to take their photo and have a chat with them – but put me in a room with other people at a conference for instance, and I find a corner in which to stand awkwardly, avoiding eye contact with other conference participants in case they somehow, inexplicably, think it’s okay to talk to me. It never is. Ever. Standing awkwardly in a corner is fine with me, and because I’m so old, I can even do it without a phone in my hand.

So, photos of flowers and people. But I’m also part of a small group of photographers who are engaged in a 52 Week Photography Project (note the caps – that means it’s a ‘thing’, an important and significant thing), and that means I have to extend my range, photographically speaking, beyond people and flowers. And it’s often (read ‘always’) a challenge.

We have a theme each week and I generally spend the week thinking of ideas. Or at least knowing I should be thinking of ideas. By the weekend, when no ideas have fallen on me from the ideas generator in the sky (I’m beginning to think the ideas generator doesn’t exist and that I’ll have to do my own thinking!), I get desperate and take a photo of the first thing that crosses my path.

Well, there’s a bit more to it than that, but sometimes my creativity tank is very low and I feel pressured to find something to photograph. I have a few cringe-worthy shots as proof of my depleted creativity – but let’s focus on the positives shall we?

Our themes have included ‘blue‘, ‘still life with food‘, and ‘the natural world‘. We shoot a self-portrait in Week 1, Week 13, Week 26, Week 39, and Week 52; and in Weeks 10, 20, 30, 40, & 50 the theme is photographer’s choice (now, if you think it’s hard to think of something when you have a theme, let me tell you it’s VERY difficult to think of something to shoot when there isn’t one).

The weekly post is released each Sunday night on the 52 Week Photography blog, and we sit and chat (electronically, as we’re spread across the globe) about each other’s images. As my sister Debbie, her husband Grant, their daughter Melanie, my son Daniel, my husband Tim, and our friend Alison form the group, it’s a lovely way to end the week.

I love to see how each person has interpreted the theme and marvel at the photographic prowess on display, and commit (to myself at least) to trying harder next week, which, come Monday I promptly forget, only to be reminded the following week when I see everyone else’s shots.

And it’s already Week 21 (the year really is flying by) and the theme this week is ‘play’ … how would you interpret that theme? Feel free to upload your photographic interpretation in the comments.

[Using my readers as potential ideas generators?? Never!!]

[Please (please) feel free to play along!]

* I don’t actually only take photos of flowers. Sometimes I also take photos of lightbulbs! (This is a shot from last year’s 52 Week Project.)

Fun fact: I was contacted by an energy company in the UK earlier this week asking if they could use this image on their promotional material!

Posted in Learning, Life, Writing

2016 Writing challenge: Day #1

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Hello.

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.