Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Seasons of Stories

With thanks to Dolce Bellezza who recommended this opportunity, I'm enjoying short stories again...

Short stories are delivered to my inbox during the week. If I cant finish one, I get a catch up link too.. check it out here.

Have fun reading with us...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Yesterday I treated myself to a lazy morning, coffee and breakfast out, reading, podcasting and blogging.... no uni study  in sight. So today's thoughts have come together because....
I read
  • Karen's post on favourite podcasts
  • A chapter of the book "walking towards ourselves: Indian Women tell their stories
  • Other exciting blogs with many good book reviews
I listened to
  • Lee Sales and Annabel Crab, chat10looks3
  • Elizabeth Gilbert's, Big Magic, interviews with Amy Purdy, and Penelope (episode 206)
So, here's what has come of all that thinking. I am a creative being, and I love to create. One of my favorite things to create is food from the garden, and I like to cook,  and at different times of my life I've played music, crocheted, made mosaics, re purposed furniture, made paper & candles. All of these things have been part of me expressing myself. I recently heard some thing powerful. It was  from a writer, who's mission in life was to speak the truth. She said at the root of her work was a very strong desire and motivation to be seen. This resonated with me. The reason to create things is in some part motivated by contributing to the world around me, and being seen. 

I think we are all creative but some of us struggle to let it out.  We all have some thing to contribute and some purpose to be seen, noticed for.

In reading the stories from Indian women, I loved the story "square peg in a round hole". The author spoke about her choice not to live as was expected of her in India. She's a single woman who smokes, drinks, parties, writes, and appears to have sorted out who she wants to be in a  place where there are rules about who you can be. She's confident in her self, despite the threats of violence, rejection and condemnation. They way she lives her life is true to herself, but it cant be easy. It must be hard most days.

The interview with Penelope and Amy on Big Magic captured my attention because Penelope, a dancer by profession and at heart, has the desire to create a dance for herself to celebrate her 60th birthday. Its a beautiful ambition. But she she struggles with capturing her life moments and experiences. To help her work through the Elizabeth, the interviewer,  connects her to Amy who has a powerful dancing story too. Amy lost both her legs due to a virus, yet went on to compete in snowboarding and on dancing with the stars. Through Amy's story, Penelope was encouraged to think not only of the hard things in life as markers of her story, but of the fun and lighter side.

I'm loving the way podcasts can encourage and inspire me. Lee and Anabel have this lovely chat about all things read, listened to, watched & baked.. as I listen to them I am reminded of the lighter side of life. They laugh at themselves and others in a respectful way. I envy that.. but then again, on reflection, I see elements of that in my life.

Do the hard things in life define you or your story, or can you see how the lighter things in life are part of your story? Can you laugh at yourself? How do you manage to create a life that's genuine and honouring of your true being? Could you benefit from hearing other peoples stories?

It's timely for me to think about how I define myself and how I feel about my last year. I am hoping to introduce a new storyline - one that doesn't focus so much on the hard and annoying (and the pain) - to one that see's the light and soft as valuable moments of definition and meaning. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Buying Hope

Celebrating hope.... 

I had great hopes this morning of visiting our local artisans markets. I like the atmosphere, the sense of being part of a community, and I love looking at the beautiful creations of our local artists. I had hopes this morning to start the Christmas shopping, and to find that perfect item to add to my new office. My hopes were dashed when I arrived at the park to find no markets... a quick look at my Instagram and I discovered the markets were postponed due to weather...   changed plans - now sitting in cafe. 

And reflecting on a great little poscast I listened to while I was on my trainer earlier. Buying Hope... it was about the things we buy with hope of transformative change. It started by talking about how book sales were on the decline, and the whole world on books was experiencing massive change. However, apparently we are still buying cookbooks! Why? The presenter posses the theory that we buy cookbooks out of hope. One day I'll bake the best cake, surprise my family with an amazing life changing meal, concur that best curry ... its all hope. 

 We all do this, we buy things that we hope will change our lives or the lives of others around us. The podcast went on... cookbooks, stationary, exercise machines, diet books, fishing gear, gardening tools or books, craft supplies, magazines, .... the list is endless... I laughed at the callers who collected de-cluttering books or muffin trays in the hope that one day......

But I have had my own hopes dash just this morning. I was hoping to start my Christmas shopping early this year... I was hoping to have a transformative change just by buying things at the markets this morning... I was hoping to transform my office into the most professional.....

What are the things you buy that are attached to hope? 

One of my things - Teapots! One of the things of my past was the hope that the right teapot would offer me a sense of identity as a woman, a host, an artist, refined and warm, patient, constant, elegant and beautiful. I collected many teapots.... all having a different characteristics ... what did I learn from this period of my life? I'm more complex than one teapot... I am many. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My favourite month - September

The garden is flowering, 
the bees are happy, 
the birds are digging grubs in the compost bin, 

and it's time to cook banana bread!  

Saturday, September 3, 2016

New Faces

I try not to take things for granted, and I try  to appreciate what I have. These past few months I have been more aware of the need to appreciate my life each day. This sunset was one of the precious moments I've had in the last week. An impromptu invite to my friends place on the lake, which lead to a fun night with some lovely guys and a chance to take in the moment.

I'm slowly coming to terms with my new 'face' (or my changing body), or more to the point learning to negotiate it differently, and instead of denying reality, I've been trying to find my new Balance. It's about not overdoing the physical activity (at least until I have more medical advice). I have loved being able to be very hard working and active, but now I'm resting a little more. So, maybe reading more..

I've recently finished Helen Garner's book of short essays, "Everywhere I Look". This was a gift from a colleague who said he thought I'd enjoy her writing. He was right. As I slowly moved through this collection, each essay had something I could relate to. I particularly loved the chapter when Helen was describing one of her favourite authors, Janet Malcom. The piece was titled 'the rapture of firsthand encounters'. I loved this statement:
She will not be read lazily. She assumes intelligence and expects you to work, to pace along with her. Her writing turns you into a better reader. There is no temptation to skim: its texture is too rich, too worldly, too surprising...

On the theme of new faces... I've been loving the Australian ABCs new short shows called "you can't ask that'. They are issues based shows that aim to demystify disadvantaged or minority groups. If you can find it online, I highly recommend it. Its been really fun, informative and personal.

I've also welcomed this new face into my life. I've  recently started a new role at work, which saw me moving into a private office. After cleansing the office of some bad vibes, and rearranging for my own work preferences, I did something I've never done before.... I bought a large piece of art. I love it....

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Japenese Literature Challenge 10

Dolce Bellezza is hosting the 10th Japanese Literature Challenge, 2016
As regular followers know, this is the one challenge I always do, second to Paris in July of course! I love setting my personal challenges and achieving them - in this challenge - the sky's the limit, but it's up to me to decide how much I can do, and what genres I want to follow. This year, the challenge I set myself is not too onerous, but hopefully achievable in my current life....

I am having some success with reading short stories at the moment, so I've chosen "New Japanese Voices: the best contemporary fiction from Japan" edited by Helen Mitsios. The collection includes works by Haruki Murakami, Masahiko Shimada & Banana Yoshimoto, and the little spiel says 'relfecting the diversity and tensions within one of the worlds most fascinating cultures, and presenting some surprising innovation, this is an indispensable volume for anyone interested in Japan and its writers'. Needless to say, I'm intrigued and ready to go!

Hoping I will get some time to read a novel, I've selected one in a series I have read some of. Malice by Keigo Higashino (reported to be Japan's Stieg Larsson).
My third choice, most likely to be a Christmas break read, is The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.

I've read others from Yoko and recall enjoying them for her ability to describe the relationships.
Here's a little para about her 
Yoko Ogawa is the author of The Diving Pool, The Housekeeper and the Professor, and Hotel Iris. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, and Zoetrope. Since 1988 she has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, and has won every major Japanese literary award. Her novel The Housekeeper and the Professor has been adapted into a film, The Professor’s Beloved Equation. She lives in Ashiya, Japan, with her husband and son. [MacMillan]
Here's my review from the Japanese Literature Challenge 8, when I read works from these two authors.

This Challenge is nice and long - open to January 2017. I look forward also to reading the reviews of my fellow challengers.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

When I'm not who I thought I was...

This little monk is always with me in the garden
I met a women last night who was introduced to me as a 'blogger'. So, needless to say, I also introduced myself as a blogger. The first thing she asked me was 'really, what do you blog about?'.... I was stopped in my tracks. What do I blog about?

My response finally came out... My blog is called Thyme for Tea - that's Thyme, as in the herb, and Tea, as in the comforting warm drink one enjoys at a leisurely pace on the weekends.... and I usually do that in my garden. My blog, is therefore, a place when I ponder the things I think about in my garden....'
it might be the end of winter, but there's a feel of spring in the air

This morning, I have some time for some in depth reflection. And I'm thinking about why I'm feeling upset (and unusually inert) that I'm not who I thought I was..... 

Recently, through work, I participated in a 360 leadership assessment. This is a form of personality assessment that invites contributions from your staff, your peers, your managers and others (360 degrees). You answer the survey questions about yourself, and they answer the same questions about you. Then the results are communicated back to you. In this instance, the focus of the survey was agility, innovation, collaboration, and performance.

On review of the results with my coach, it became blatantly obvious that my 360 assessors (peers, manager, staff and friends) and I, have matching views about me. This means that what I know about myself, the people around me can see this too. This is a wonderful trait to have. I'm pretty proud of that. I'm self aware, and my friends can see how I reflect those things that are important to me. My coach reported that my results were very impressive, and that the assessment has found only a handful of aspects of leadership that I could be working on.

Basically, the 360 leadership assessment has told me that I know who I am in the leadership space, and that my colleagues perceive that about me also. I am who I thought I was......
I never tire of admiring the symetry & hues of Kale
So why am I not who I thought I was? Well, it's about pain. For most of this year I have been experiencing hip pain which has very much dampened my joy of mornings, my cycling aspirations of riding 150kms a week, and training for a 200km in a day ride.... The pain has led me to miss boot camp classes, and to huddle up with a hot wheetbag instead of taking the dog for a walk... It's not as bad is it all seems - I'm probably exaggerating because I miss all of these things in my life. And I have found my new activity, swimming, to be meditative and soothing.

I'm still undergoing tests and consults, but the bottom line is, I'm not who I thought I was  - physically. I thoughts I was still young, I thought I would be climbing mountains and taking on cycling marathons for another 20 years yet..... I thought I could train for the next level of challenge - but I'm not that person.
Nasturtiums share the joy of crisp fresh days

So for now.... Thyme for Tea - my blogging haven - is a reminder for me to keep on finding the joy I can get from drinking warm tea, and the energy I get from growing my own food, the pleasure I get from cooking, and the healing touch of the sun I can find in the garden.

Today, my goal is to repot, weed, plant and harvest, while I take in the health giving energy I can get from my garden.
potted garlic shares the winter sun with me...
varieties of lettuce bring a variety of colours to the scene

And red spinach stems stand out
my bathtub of sweet potatoes
Grapefruit for morning joy!