About Me

My photo
Redbanks, South Australia, Australia
Contact me if you'd like to know more about this writing group. My email address is jeebers@aussiebb.com.au

Ananka - one of our Pharaoh Hounds

Ananka - one of our Pharaoh Hounds
Ananka knows how to enjoy life - catch and eat birdies!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Let Your Creativity Help

I'm sure most people at least one thing they love to do that shows their creativity. It may be visual art, or writing. It may be cooking, or singing, or it may be any number of other 'creative' things. Personally, it's writing for me, whether it's prose of poetry, it makes me happy and I feel proud of what I create when doing it.

If you have your thing you love to do, but can't find the time to do that, it can have a deadening effect on your life, and can make you sad. I say, why not think carefully about how you might be able find some extra time in your life and let your creativity bloom!

Creativity and better health, as well as feeling more energetic and keen to be 'involved' in life have been linked in many studies over the years. From my own life experiences, I certainly agree with them. The people I know in my writing life would agree with me on this too, and are living vibrant and active lives, getting involved in their community as well as with their writing friends ...

So if you're trying to do something good for yourself, why not turn off the TV and be creative. You won't harm yourself and you most probably will be doing good for yourself!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A New Challenge

I was reading a library book the other night, and I was struck by something I read, and thought, yes, I can do that! I placed a bookmark in the book, marking the relevant page and then did pretty well nothing more about it, beyond picking the book up a few more times and sagely nodding my head, as if to say to myself, yes, that's what I'll do.

It may not have actually looked like I was doing it 'sagely' - I'm not totally sure what that might look like anyway. But I'm here now, and I'm going to look at the book again, and then get on with it. The book is a non fiction book - "a field guide for {MEMOIR, JOURNALISM, AND TRAVEL}immersion writing" written by Robin Hemley,

I love the way that most of the book title on the front cover is in lower case, with the bracketed words all in upper case. It seems quite hard-arsed (or -assed, if you prefer), and up-yours, which is an attitude I've been playing with recently. I have a particular new poem that has been well received by my friends, and is a very hard-arsed poem indeed.

So, this book talks about being there with the thing you are writing about, not being a dispassionate observer, but writing more about how you react to, or are affected by what you are writing. I like that kind of thing, and am using that style a bit more often in the monthly newsletter I edit, the 'Mallala Crossroad Chronicle' ...

Getting on with what this is all about, it relates to Exercise 4 in the Immersion Memoir chapter of the book. This exercise calls on the reader to start a blog,where they engage in a project and report on it. I almost immediately thought of my role as the Writer-in-Residence at the Poetic Justice Cafe Gallery (PJs) in Gawler. I go to this cafe three times a week to be the W-in-R, and sometimes at other times for various reasons (to get a great coffee and something yummy to eat, for instance!).

I began doing a poetry workshop every Sunday morning at PJs, and I'm involved with a small group of women who get together there and chat about life, the universe and everything. It's a terrific collection of people, getting together in a lovely supportive cafe/gallery/community. The person in charge of the place Gayle, is an amazing woman, well versed in community work, and a marvellous cook. The food, the coffee, the art, the people, it all adds up to being a wonderful place to be. When you add to that the fact of my three self-published books being on sale there at the cafe/gallery, where I will sign a copy for anyone who buys a copy, it's a match made in heaven!

So, Sunday is the day I do the poetry workshop, Monday is the day for the Precious Gem group get together, and Thursday is because my weekly writing group (I'm the President) meets in Gawler at a venue across the road and a bit further along the way. So I go there for lunch that day, sometimes have a meeting there with the secretary and/or the treasurer, and then I head off to the other venue, which is the P/A Hotel (Prince Albert). It all slots together well, and I'm loving Gawler more and more as I meet more Gawler people. I don't live in Gawler myself, but it's the biggest town close to where I live, further north in the country. Gawler is a near-suburban place, trying to hold onto its rural/country roots. There is a lot of interesting history in Gawler, and a strong cultural feel, that will fade away if more people don't get involved in the things happening.

I'm doing my part, the writing group is too, and the Poetic Justice Cafe Gallery is also working toward promoting Gawler as a great place to be! So the project I will be reporting on is the Writer-in-Residence project, perhaps focussing on the the Poetry Workshop. The workshop group is called Write Yourself Well, and is based on my strong conviction that Creative Writing is an excellent therapeutic way to get a handle on the things going wrong in your life, whether physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. When life hands you more than you feel you can handle, your mind can go into overdrive, or it can shut down, or it can just start running around and around without ever slowing down to do anything useful. Creative Writing can certainly help you get a sense of control back.

I have certainly been up-lifted by writing creatively about my own journeys in life. I've written a poetry collection about some very personal issues (damaged children, Precious Gems), and my memoir about how I felt about Multiple Sclerosis coming into my life (Mick Jane and Me - Living Well with MS) these two are sombre books in part, but with a strong feeling of hope for future times, and written with a feeling for the positive things in life. The other book is the oldest of the three, an illustrated book (Dig It! Gardening Tips for Dogs) written way back when my son was at Primary school (he's now 22). My friend did the illustrations, while I wrote in the voice of Buster, a dog who loves gardening. This fun book has gone through around 5 reprints (of quite small numbers each time, but still ...) I have the following up to Dig It! written, illustrated, printed and ready to be launched at the end of next month, during the Gawler Festival of Words. Exciting times.

Much of this second book in the Buster series (Doggone It! Mindfulness from a Dog's Point of View), was written at PJs, and the book, and another of mine are being launched at PJs, which seems entirely appropriate! Some of the members of both the Sunday and Monday groups (some of them the same people) have helped me with this book, and they are all supportive to me. Having written all of that, it feels like I have books coming out of my pores, I almost hesitate to say what I wanted to write next ...

Here goes: I've begun working on book three in the Buster series, and book about the thoughts of the Dog Buddha, called, not surprisingly "Dog Buddha's Thoughts!" with this book I stayed with the title beginning with a D, and there being an exclamation mark at the end. The beginning D is almost like the head of a dog, with the exclamation mark being the dog's tail. I just thought of that, I'm glad the thought came when I had a screen, and my hands on the keyboard!

I'll end this here, stay tuned for more, I will write so that you almost feel you are at PJs with me, sipping the coffee and savouring the wonderful food!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Who are you?

If someone asked you, 'Who are you?' How would you answer? I've been thinking about this subject, off on and on, for all of my life, I think. The reality of course is that I am many things, wife, mother, former dog breeder, poet, writer, thinker of sometimes deep thoughts.

I am also a friend, and a community member, whose 'community' brings together the things that interest me. If the question was changed to this one - 'What do you do?' I would have to say, I write and I try to enjoy my life. They may have been expecting me to say what my profession was, as in, I'm a public servant, or I'm a stablehand, or some such thing. I've been both of those things and others, and both earned me money, the public servant earned me the most. (as a teenage stablehand, I wasn't paid much, but I was working for my dad, and didn't expect much money from it anyway - I was still at school).

image from my most recent self-published book Doggone It! Mindfulness from a Dog's Point of View
to be launched at the Gawler Festival of Words in July this year

This question of being labelled by how much money I earn is obviously not terribly important to me. If it was, I would write fiction of the kind that sold thousands of copies (or try to, anyway), instead of writing the blogs I write, poetry, and self-published bits of fluff, or things of interest to me and some others perhaps, but not well marketed. If I was a crack self-promoter, I may be able to make lots of money with the kinds of writing I do. I'm not sure that's the way I wish to go though. I have a chronic illness that slows me down somewhat at times, and that means I don't go well if I'm feeling stressed. (This is a proven thing, not just me having a whinge ...)

Living a stress-free life means I can live well, and that is certainly a good thing. I'm happy to be a good-enough whatever it is I'm going. Surely being Good Enough should be all I need to do? And sometimes other people tell me they find my actions inspirational, or say a poem I've written speaks to them in good ways. To those people I always say 'Thank you', and try to continue to act in ways that seem good to me. Good Enough is the starting point, and I hope Good Enough becomes Good, the more I do it.

So, thinking about who I am, I suspect the main thing about who I am, is that I am a person who tries to be a good person. Good in word and good in action too, for if I say I am doing good things, but don't look like I am, if my actions don't match my words, then I may not be a good person at all. Some good actions are unseen, a smile at a stranger that is given back to me by that person, that is a good thing to do, but I certainly wouldn't hang a sign around my neck proclaiming that good action to the world. I feel doing good things is its own reward, and when I look at my day and think on my own actions, I'm happy that I can almost always say inside that I have been a good person today.

The writing group I'm president of has a theme of Identity for the Festival we're holding this year, and that thing is why I began writing this blog post. I identify as a writer, and poet professionally, I suppose, I will never be a mega rich one of those, I am only know as these things in a small way, but they are important to me, and they add meaning to my life. I certainly don't in my heart, identify as being a 'disabled person' although I am that too. My disease is a part of me, yes, but it certainly isn't who I am. Who I am, goes well beyond multiple sclerosis, and is a limiting kind of label for me, although I'm aware some people are able to use their illness in an uplifting way, but for me, it is a minor part only of who I am.

That's it for this post, but I may go on pondering these thoughts for a while yet. Identity certainly was part of my first poetry collection - I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, and that is where some of my labelling of being an inspiration to others has come from. Being inspirational to other people who have also been abuse is one of the things I am most proud of. The journey from victim to survivor, and then thriver is a difficult journey and I wish my fellow travellers well.

So who are you, which labels are you happy to wear? After all, many people may try to label you, but we all have our own story, and only we, are the ones who should have the permission to apply our labels in life. What do you think? I'd love to know your thoughts about this ...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Handling Life's Rubbish

"You don't have to accept rubbish, just because it's being handed to you."

I wrote this  in response to a comment someone had written on Facebook, and after I'd written my words, I started thinking about what I'd really written. People often give opinions about you that you feel are unfair and untrue. 

We are all the best judge of the truth of things in our life (if we are truly honest with ourselves). But if people say things about us and we just accept the so-called truth of what they say, we can begin to believe the lies too. This sounds ridiculous, but some people can be so powerful in the way they say things, and the talk can be so consistent, we can indeed doubt ourselves.

But the reality of it is that no-one knows more than you than you do, and if it really feels like a lie to you, after you've properly considered it, then the other person probably is lying. And if the thing being said, and the unwanted things being handed to you are wrong, you truly don't have to believe the words or accept them.

And if people constantly give you tasks to do that don't seem like they're actually yours to do, then you don't have to take on the task. If it's your actual paid job, and the task is your job to do, then of course you have to do it, if it really is in your job description, and it's not illegal, or against the rules for doing that thing. 

If people are loading your life up with rubbish, you never have to accept the rubbish. Turn your back on the giver of rubbish, close your ears to the untruthful words. Live the life you believe is really yours.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Write Yourself Well

This is the name of a poetry workshop I am running every Sunday. It takes place in Gawler at the beautifully name Poetic Justice Cafe Gallery. The workshop is based on creative writing, about many different things in life, and has a small but dedicated band of attendees.

There is a payment for attendees, but the cost is minimal, because I feel I am still very much a trainee at being a workshop presenter. I am confident though that I am worth at least ten times what I am asking for. To me, the important thing is that I am introducing people poetic ideas to people who formerly thought poetry had to rhyme, or who hadn't written anything poetic for many years.

The venue and the people whose venue it is are supportive of what I do there, in fact, one of the couple attends the workshop if and when she can. Sometimes she has to get up and serve a customer, because that's her job, the poetry is just for fun.

The workshops last around an hour and a bit, the coffee is good, and the food is great. The art works on the walls are interesting, with one artwork in particular that is interesting to me - it's a portrait of me, that one of the artists on display painted, using a photograph she'd taken of me. I feel humbled that this lady felt compelled to paint me, and so thrilled with the quality of her work.

This cafe is a special place for me, I am there three times a week as the writer-in-residence, and copies of three of my books are there for sale. If anyone buys one of my books when I am not there, the people there take the money to hand on to me, and they let the book buyer know that if they come back when I am there, I will sign their book for them. It's a terrific arrangement for all involved!

I believe deeply in the therapeutic power of creative writing. Two of the book I have on sale at PJs helped me a lot as I was writing them, and putting the words together. I feel my health is going well partly because of my creative writing. Partly medication too, of course, I can't deny that. But feeling positive about life, and looking further into the ins and outs, the bits and pieces that make up a life, these are good things to look at!

Waiting for night to come

Waiting for night to come
I love sunsets