Monday, April 6, 2020

New Seasons!

It appears I missed a whole season on my blog - summer just came and went.... and here we are in Autumn already. There's no way I can catch up on a season - especially the one we just left behind. Oh gosh, it's been a summer. My opening image, I think its called 'yesterday, today & tomorrow' bush, is my meditation for today...

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that this past summer in Australia has been tragic. Bushfires have destroyed so much of our precious and loved bush, many millions of our loved wildlife, so much of our heritage, and many of our communities. The smoke haze that covered our land suppressed the joy of a real Australian Summer, and many of us spent our summer indoors to avoid the heavy haze and impacts of smoke. 

It is with a sad an heavy heart that I realised, we are going to be spending much of this year indoors now. While the global pandemic known as COVID-19 has surprised health officials, it has probably scared our governments and our communities even more. Here in Australia, and many parts of the world, we're learning to live with the rules aiming at keeping us safe - distancing. I dont want to call it social distancing - because I am a firm believer in the need for socialising - especially in times like this. And, there it is, the reason I am back at my computer and 'Thyme-for-Tea'.

Only just last week I've had 2 people ask me if I was going to host Paris in July this year... and to be honest, it had barely made it to the forefront of my brain in this years planning.... but the question did make me stop and think. I found myself reflecting on why I've had a break from blogging... and its essentially about emotional energy. This is a new personal insight for me, and one I want to hold to for a moment. [side note - have any of you listened to Esther Perele's podcasts? - she speaks about 'sitting with that thought'].

Traditionally I am a new years reflector - as the year turns over, I take time to consider the year in review, and play forward to new year. This year it didn't happen. So, this new insight, didn't come to me earlier....

Over the summer period, as a volunteer with the state emergency services (which I something I do ontop of my working life)... I was deployed to assist with bush fires. I dont fight fires, but I go to the 'staging area' where fire fighters and other emergency workers congregate morning, noon, and evening. There I support these people with welfare checks, debriefing, advice, and generally care for them. My role is to ensure they have enough energy to keep going - that they are safe to keep going - and if there're not - I support them to have a rest.

Guess what? Did I do this for me??

I have not been blogging because I have had some big stuff going on. for more than 18 months, I've been leading a big (like massive) project at work. Something I'm really proud to be involved in. But I wanted to make it perfect. I wanted it to be a career changing moment for me. This project with the outcomes that blows people away. However, this high expectation on myself was unsupported by my workplace. I've been running this high expectation all by myself. [note to self - ot's been going really well and people are noticing].

This pineapple flower has appeared recently in my garden (planted from the top of a shop bought fruit), and when I discovered it, I felt a new sense of joy. I helped this thing find it's flower!

Summer was difficult. Emotionally draining.

On top of that, my second hip (first hip was replaced 3 years ago) started deteriorating. Pain started coming back into my routines. I new I would be up for more surgery. Again, I set high expectations to be physically fit for the procedure. I used whatever energy I could find over summer to focus on exercise, diet, sleep, and well-being. The surgery was 3 weeks ago, and I am already feeling an improved sense of movement, and sleep. and in the next 3 weeks I will return to work, walking and (hopefully) the gym...

So, the question remains - will I be hosting Paris in July this year?
The answer is yet to reveal itself to me - but I hope that I will find new emotional energy that will allow me to pick up the things I love in life. Paris is one of those things.... Gardening... Bush walking.... and being with my friends.

The challenge I set myself now - is to sit with the new insight that work has been very demanding. My own high expectations have been demanding. The world, and the way I relate to it (by volunteer in disasters) is also demanding.... and I need to make my own Summer - find my own time to do the new years reflection.... and find new ways of being in a world with distancing rules.

Even if we cant be social, we can see beauty in the world around us. I am so lucky to live near the ocean, lakes, bushland and mountains... places where I can witness such breathless beauty thats refreshing for the soul.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Reflections - National Dyslexia Month (Australia)

Many of you know I love my garden. A place of contentment, and a place for me to reflect. 
I spend alot of time in the outdoors, and a lot of time at work.... 

Especially in spring, now, I enjoy the new life, new flowers, and new animal life in the garden. 
Here, my newly established passionfruit is showing me it's intentions... 

This was a recent harvest which then converted to a variety of meals during the week. 
I get a great sense of satisfaction knowing that I grow my own food. 

This month is national Dyslexia Awareness Month. I didn't know there was such a month until recently when I read blog post. I was moved by the authors story to reflect on my own story. I have Dyslexia, which wasn't really diagnosed until I was in my 3rd year of Uni, and sitting in a child psychology lecture and recognised many of the symptoms in myself. I did go for a formal diagnosis, which resulted in this -  "it's clear you have learning difficulties, but you've clearly found lots of skills and tools to manage well at Uni, so keep doing what you're doing".

So I kept doing what I was doing... almost 25 year laters I have multiple degrees and multiple master degrees and an executive career. It seems like I developed strengths that helped me in my career, despite the difficulties I have reading and recalling facts & figures.

as an example of how dyslexia impacts on my life - in my business, we spend alot of time on teleconferences these days - this involves dialing into (often) 12 digit phone numbers, followed by a 6 digit ID code, then (often) a 8-12 PIN no.... By the time Ii actually get dialled in, my heart is racing with nerves, and my anxiety takes minutes to settle. This pattern is repeated when logging into banking sites.... numbers are so important in daily life. 

Recently I was talking with a friend about how hard I find reading for pleasure, and how I'm trying to set aside time to practice reading for pleasure. I read on a kindle, and I set reading goals by percentage - ie, dont stop until you've read another 10%.. but it's hard work to do that. I'm easily distracted, I'm not engaged, and I feel like I'm running a marathon.. My girlfriend said - just stop it. If it's not pleasure, dont do it.

She's right! it's not enjoyable. Except for a few genres and authors I've found I can engage with, I just dont have fun reading.

[warning - this is disturbing] I have another friend who says she doesn't get why people blog book reviews. SHe's a prolific reader, and says what she thinks and feels about the books she read are her experiences. However - I do like book reviews. They help me learn about the world, without having the run the marathon of actually reading the book.

Thank god for Podcasts! I love podcasts. I love listening to information. . Any recommendations for new podcasts are always welcomed in my life!

For Dyslexia Awareness Month, I ask you to reflect on reading in your life.  Enjoy it if it's your thing, or move on if it's not! Podcasts are the new world of books...

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Fires & Surprises

 A couple of weeks ago we had a bushfire in the neighbourhood. This is what I could see from my back deck. We knew it was the bush growing in our swamp area. It was about 2km from our house.

On the night, the house was filled with smoke, but it wasn't too scary, I felt safe and confident it would be unlikely to come this way. Still, as a child I lived in a bushfire zone, so my auto pilot went into motion. I packed a light o'night bag, I grabbed our 'important papers' file, and the photo album we haven't scanned yet from grandmas. I made sure I had the hard drive packed, and other necessary items.

Through the evening, my friends called a few times to check if we wanted to go and stay at their place. A lovely gesture. At one stage someone had called me to check on us, and they commented "Australlia's so dry, even our swamps burn!".  Sadly, we know the fire was light by youths.

So now, a few weeks on, I'm discovering things I didn't know. The fire engulfed my favourite cycling path. I've been riding this path, almost weekly for more that 10 years. It's usually a lush green forest, filled with frogs, bird life and snakes.

 What surprised me most in the new naked landscape, is the landscape that has always been behind the greenery... I had no idea at all that the swamp came this close to the path! and I had no ideas there were sand dunes in the mist...

 an old railway line used by the mines, there are also remnants of mining equipment and infrastructure. While horrified what fire can do, and why these fires occured... I'm enjoying the new discoveries.

and watching the new green life appear....

So long live my bike path, and come forth new green growth - I look forward to seeing what the new forest will become!

And thank you to the firefighters who faught this blaze for three days. Your dedication and skills ensure no house or life was lost.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Lilac Girls - Book Review

Last month I hosted Paris in July, and I was also swamped with work and other important commitments, so I didn't get the chance to do any of my own posts for Paris in July. So this month I will get a few done, starting with this review.

I took the recommendation to read this from  a list of books for reading during Paris in July published by Mel U at the Reading Life, I'm glad I did, although it's not an easy book to read. A couple of reasons why it wasnt a easy book for me to read.

Firstly, the book tells the story of three different women, which means each chapter is told by each women in turns. I find that style of narration difficult to get engaged with. It took me more than half way through before I was interested enough to finish.

Secondly, the book is based on real life events occuring in Poland, Germany and New York in 1939 when Hitler was invading France & Poland. Thats not an easy subject to read about. Life in Ravenbruck, a women's re-education camp, the only one in Germany.

Thirdly, is was a story about a young female german doctor, who in a time of war, takes a job in the women's re-education camp believing she was doing the right thing for her country. However, she ends up being forced to do unimaginable things. Things that will haunt her for the rest of her days.

But despite being difficult to read, it was in the end, a story of resilience, women's strength and community. Through out, I was distracted by the New York Socialite, Caroline, storyline. But in the end, she was the angel of grace. What was even more inspirational, was that Caroline was one of the real women. After the war, she lead a beautiful movement to help the women who were harmed during the war. 

Thanks Mel U for the recommendation.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Paris in July 2018 - final wrap up - thank you

When July comes to an end theres a sense of disappointment in the air, a sense of loss, as Paris in July,  the blogging event, comes to a close. Yet, as it is well known in this community........ Paris is always a good idea! The event, with its Mr Linkys, with the buttons, the challenge to honour all things Parisian or French, may end, but we can still read, eat, drink, watch, enjoy & review these things... and i hope we will.

This year we had a collection of different buttons to help us mark our posts, as a reflection of the different members of our community this year. Its the diversity of the participants that I love about blogging events. We come from all walks of life & yet in blogging, in July,  we come together to share our appreciation for the old, current & emerging culture of Paris.

Thankyou all, for sharing your holiday memories, your experiences, the books you read, the movies you watched,  the french food & festivities you celebrated, the recipes, the history, the polotics.... childrens stories, book titles, book covers, things you collect, exhibitions you went to, and parks you spent Time in.  All of these posts, all of your contributions, they are Paris in July!  We did it together .

Merci! A la prochaine!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Paris in July - Week 5

Paris is always a good idea! Haven't we been having fun? I'm wrapping up week 4 and putting up week 5 because I know there's more to come... you've got more to share haven't you? For me, I'm 40% through the only book I was likely to read, I haven't had a chance to cook something, and I had another guest to interview, but time is running out... I'm sure my extra posts will pop up in the next couple of weeks...

This past week has been a week of fun, but also a week of learning...

Fun stuff for me - Mae found Paris inspired Art in Detroit, Jeanies B&W images of Paris, Kwarkito's personal stories of being in Paris, Deb Nance's favourite settings in Paris for books, junkboattravels walk through paris and restaurants and cafes, Mae's review of French style and Carola Bartz' memories of la vie douce a paris - images of pastries and icecreams... Erin @CrackerCrumbLife also posted about books read including the cat who walked across France!

Things to learn - Mae read a book mostly about death and loss, and Mel U read many books, one about G Steins Cook, the Lover by Dumas, short stories translated from Yiddish, and also shared with us some good info about Natalie Clifford Barney. In Fact Mel U proposed Natalie should host our Post Paris in July Party!. Lisbeth posted about Paris Salons of an era past. And there were books set in wartime eras.

I hope I didn't miss visiting anyone's post this week but there were many - thank you for sharing all of these insights into different elements of Paris.

This week, share your posts here. I'll do one further wrap up next weekend. And, here's to Paris and the Champs Elysees for the final of the Tour de France!

Friday, July 26, 2019

We're heading into Paris this weekend! (Tour de France)

This has been this most read book in our house this month. Its the most loved magazine in many Australian TdF homes, because it has everything you ever want to know about the tour.
Articles with a strong focus on the teams all Aussies love...
And all the other teams. 

The magazine guide comes with a wall map of each stage outlined. We might be the only household that actually hangs it up, but we refer to this most nights. We liked to check if we've been there before, and where each stage is heading. Its also a conversation starter with guests... 

What can I say.... 
The editors know their audience!

 And when the race is quiet (rarely), theres many other articles of interest..
And rider profiles...
And here is Caleb... so far, hes won two stages this year. 

Who would like a copy of this? Im happy to send a copy to 2 Paris in July participants. If you're interested, comment below, naming either your favourite team or rider.