Friday, 30 December 2011

Good Company

The evening closes in on a warm summer's day and also another year.

The wine is coursing through me and through my friends but not down into the tributary of political discourse that can end up in an almighty row, but down the waterfalls of laughing memory.

Long forgotten stories and cackles emerge of times past while grand plans are made for the future still to be lived.

Sharing bread, barbeques, wine and those generous anecdotes - the simple gentleness of caring for the people we love.

Here's hoping 2012 is an awesome year for all of us. May everyone experience calm, peace, excellent health and success.

And may it be filled with good food, good friends and good memories......oh yes and good wine!

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."
~~ Oprah Winfrey

When barging in Eastern France in July 2008 my friends and I experienced good food, good company, good memories and good wine!

I have put my favourite photo taken in Norway as my header photo and imagine floating away into the mist on a wonderful adventure.

"Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy."
~~ Lao Tzu

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Reading Poetry

It's a forgotten pleasure in our rushed days, to leaf through a slim volume of verse, perhaps while sitting in a train or when resting by a tree in the city park.

Everyone should keep a book of poetry about their person.

Even to read four lines of Keats while waiting for a friend will enrich your day.

Here is Keats, for example, on the pleasures of red wine:

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long ago in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!

What a phrasemaker he was!

Words well chosen can fill your heart with joy.

So reject the empty clatter of the penny dreadfuls and keep a book of poetry on your person at all times.

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words."
~~ Robert Frost

I was out bushwalking in Cromer, Sydney in April 2010 and came across this heart carved out in a made me smile.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my very special blogging buddies a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hol­i­days, and Happy Hanukkah! May all of your aspirations be realized. And please take care and stay safe.

Warmest heart hugs
Peggy xxx

Monday, 19 December 2011

Choices Not Goals

It is amazing by changing the use of a word, we can change our thought patterns.

When I thought of the word "goal" I thought of the word "should" and that lead me to rebelling against achieving my project/task.

By changing the word to "choice", I felt freer and less stressed. I found it to be a much more powerful motivator and the pressure subsided.

Consequently there is no timeframe when I "choose" to do the project, resulting in a pleasurable experience as opposed to the pressure of achieving a "goal".

Once again it comes back to enjoying the journey rather than focusing on a specific destination.

So I choose to be open minded and curious and accept my shortcomings, just as I welcome the rainbow.

I also choose to accept and love myself unconditionally and to love, nourish and take care of my body.

Today I choose to embrace the silver lining of my imperfections and as always am thankful for the abundant blessings I have in my life.

"Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit."
~~ William James

I want to be like this tree on Sydney Harbour, I want to grow and succeed even when the odds are stacked against me. Photo taken October 2011.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Walking with Toddlers

Toddlers don't understand the concept of walking as a function. For them it is a chance just to amble about while staring at bricks and clumps of earth and marvelling at how they came to be on the pavement.

They double back, walk sideways and often simply stop walking altogether before staring attentively up into the sky.

Instead of getting cross and trying to hurry them on, embrace the way they follow one impulse of curiosity after another.

Toddlers are the masters of instinct. Once you have rejected your agitated impulses that seem intent on driving you on and on you will discover what it truly means to be relaxed.

At first this process may be frustrating for a hassled adult, but once you have abandoned the hope of being somewhere at a specific time you will find yourself revelling in a state of childlike torpor.

While following this nobler means of perambulation the world around you will begin to morph into a more magical place.

Sticks you would have otherwise trodden over turn into the staffs and swords that swoosh through the air to the echo of brave, long-forgotten heroes.

"The fundamental job of a toddler is to rule the universe".
~~ Lawrence Kutner

These are photos of my beloved Joseph when he was a toddler. He is now 5 years old and will be starting school in 2012. I feel so blessed to have shared one day a week for 5 years looking at the world with this beautiful soul.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Philosophising and Art from the Streets

Sometimes you have to talk to find out what you think!

"The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it."
~~ Bertrand Russell

My friend Rosemary invited me to an exhibition on Cockatoo Island in Sydney on 7th December called "Outpost Project" - "Art from the Streets".
Below are some photos I took at this vibrant event. It was such an enjoyable day and we also treated outselves to a delicious lunch with a glass of wine and listened to some fabulous reggae music.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Shadow Watching

We're told we're hiding in the shadow of others if we don't "achieve" as much as we could.

Also shadows are said to be where bad people lurk!

But shadows are the essence of something far more meaningful than a reflection of physical form. Shadows are the corners of our mind the light of reason rarely touches.

They offer a window into another world. The world of eternal darkness that all too many of us love to fear.

It was the Chinese Han dynasty that gave us shadow puppets. One of Emperor Wu of Han's concubines died and he was so stricken with grief that he ordered his servants to raise her from the dead, and so, with a lamp and a figure made of donkey leather, they brought her shadow back to life.

Things turn even more eerie when it comes to shadow people. These are dark figures that are said to inhabit our peripheral vision (accompanied by a feeling of terrible dread) only to vanish if you try to look at them directly.

But these metaphors of fear hide a much more relaxing and wonderful truth.

Those dark corners of the mind are not full of fear and woe, but are the first steps on the path of truth if we allow ourselves to find out more about them.

"Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides".
~~ Junichiro Tanizaki

"Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings - always darker, emptier and simpler".
~~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Holidaying in Broome, Western Australia in May 2007 we went on a camel ride along Cable Beach. The sun was setting and I took this photo while up on the camel.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Want-Self verses Should-Self

Who/What is the stronger our Want-Self or our Should-Self?

How often do you find when decisions are being made, our want-selves take over and we do things that ignore the ethical implications of our actions.

Psychologists say we have different systems for wanting things and liking things. So some of the stuff we really want, and spend a lot of time pursuing, doesn't give us as much satisfaction as we thought it would once we've got it.

This explains why children will spend weeks nagging parents to buy them a guitar or a pet but quickly lose interest once they have it.

One of the most ubiquitous problems in daily life is achieving self-control.

We need to control our natural urges to eat too much, to smoke, to drink too much, to gamble too much, spend too much, watch too much television, get too little exercise and even to work too much.

Here, again, we seem to have two selves at work: an unconscious self that's emotional and shortsighted and a conscious self that's reasoning and farsighted.

We have trouble controlling ourselves in circumstances where the benefits are immediate and certain, whereas the costs are longer-term and uncertain.

When we come home tired from work, for instance, the benefits of slumping in front of the telly are immediate, whereas the costs - feeling tired the next day; looking back on our life and realising we could have done a lot better if we had got off our backside and played a bit of sport, sought a further qualification at tech, spent more time talking to our partner/children/friends etc - are not so clear-cut.

Similarly, the reward from eating food is instant whereas the costs of overeating are uncertain and far off: being regarded as physically unattractive, becoming obese, becoming a diabetic, dying younger, etc.

As everyone who has tried to diet, give up smoking, control their drinking, save or get on top of their credit card debt knows, it's hard to achieve the self-control our conscious, future-selves want us to achieve.

"The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn."
~~ David Russell

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Nov 2011. The artist Peter Tilley called this "Domestic Bliss" and his statement said:
"Contemplating the next move in an ordinary domestic situation".

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The 11:11 Phenomenon

The 11/11/11 is a very special day, a date that occurs only once in a century.

Please join me and 3 of my close friends in sending light and love into the Universe....especially at 11:11am. By opening our energy centres to earth and sky we can become light conductors.

I believe the use of Light was once (or many times in our history) a very important component of everyday life, and that with time its knowledge has been lost and found time and time again.

Being a Lightworker is not a special dispensation reserved for just a few....we are ALL potentially Lightworkers.

So Lightworkers Unite. Our world could certainly use an abundance of light, love and peace.

Above photo taken at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi on 8th November 2011. The artist, Alison Lee Cousland called it 11:11! Her statement about the sculpture said:
"All places on our planet are unique and special. As 'inner sacredness' is activated, we come to recognise a sacred place as if for the first time. 11:11, a universal gateway, dedicated to world peace. Releasing the past. Being grounded in the present. Welcoming the future"

My friend Stoneweaver, who is visiting from New Zealand, and I spent a wonderful day admiring the beautiful sculptures as we meandered from Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach and back again.

"In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment."
~~ Thomas Carlyle

Monday, 31 October 2011


Dreamland is the original cyberspace, our own built-in spiritual virtual reality.

Our dreams take us into other worlds, alternative realities that help us make sense of day-to-day life.

Dreaming is a connection to our unconscious, to our selves.

It is to be treasured.

Isn't it extraordinary that an activity which takes up so much of our lives is so often relegated into the realms of unimportance.

We are based on dreams, they are our centre.

Listen to them.

"Dreams are like may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny."
~~ Anonymous

Top photo taken in Wisconsin, USA in August 2010. It was early in the morning and we had gone to the pier to watch the Tall ships arrive. As you could imagine we saw very little.

A pottery sculpture by my multitalented friend Dianne - December 2007

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Déjà Vu Sensations

There are many theories as to what causes déjà vu.

One hold that our "spirit" can actually travel faster in time than our earthbound bodies so it charges off into the future from time to time for reasons we can't explain.

Another claims that it's because we are reincarnated and old memories from past lives are seeping through into our current consciousness.

And then there's the parallel Universe theory that suggests our lives are always splitting off into different directions whenever we make big decisions and that at the point of experiencing déjà vu we are connecting with these parallel worlds.

All of which rather ignores the actual sensation of déjà vu that is simply joyous and mesmerising regardless of what it actually is.

Déjà vu experiences stay with us too, logging themselves into our memory banks where they can be withdrawn whenever those "déjà vu" conversations occur, usually over a few glasses of wine late at night!

"There's an opposite to déjà vu. They call it jamais vu. It's when you meet the same people or visit places, again and again, but each time is the first. Everybody is always a stranger. Nothing is ever familiar."
~~ Chuck Palahniuk

Top photo is a sketch penned by my friend Dianne in 2004 after she has suffered a stroke in 1999. She said it described how she felt when everything was muddled in her brain.

When Annemarie and I were in Norway in July 2010 and we stopped at this place for a short while, an eeriness came over me as I photographed this scene. I wanted to hop in that boat and paddle into the mist.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Yin and Yang Worlds

In the yin and yang worlds of work and life you'll often find opposite methods of doing a similar thing.

Usually one is quicker and more efficient.

For instance, take the speedy commuter train verses the dawdling bus.

If the commuter train is spawned from the world of "work" then the bus is surely from the world of "life" and the top deck of a bus, therefore, is a slice of heaven.

The mental map you draw of the landmarks on your journey will soon join up with mental maps of previous journeys - then the once dark and daunting city will become familiar and bright.

From the top deck you can gawk at people milling in the streets below, hide behind shades in the summer sun or doze freely, knowing that a little bell will precede every stop and wake you if your slumber threatens to sink too deep.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge; knowledge is limited, while imagination encircles the universe."
~~ Einstein

My friend Dianne loves her garden and made this "tree face" person to welcome visitors to her house. - October 2011

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Make a Pot of Tea

When life gets too much don't fall for the doctor's potions and pills that conspire with your body to get you straight back to work.

Have the confidence to listen to yourself when you can feel that something is wrong.

It's not you that's wrong!!

You're having an entirely reasonable reaction to the chaos of the modern world.

There's nothing wrong with having enough of chaos every now and then.

Put a "Do Not Disturb" sign up outside your front door.

Ignore the phone when it rings.

Turn your mobile to silent and fling it into the bottom of an old drawer.

Forget about the newspaper.

Unplug the TV.

Unplug the computer.

Leave all the chores for tomorrow.


"Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty and dies with chaos"
~~ Will Durant

Back in April 2008 when I was addicted to Scrapblog several friends and myself formed a Tea Pot Club and we each made a scrapblog of our teapot. This is my grandmothers teapot.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Patience - It Ain't Easy!

There are moments when other people just set you off, and you lose your patience.

It is the downfall of many of us — co-workers, children, spouses, other drivers, irritating people on the train — they can grate, they can anger.

And it can ruin your day. You clench your jaw, you replay imaginary arguments in your head, or worse, you snap. And then you feel like crap.

How can we find the patience?

I will admit that I’m no saint. Just like everyone else, I get annoyed, and I will say things in a less-than-kind tone........I’m learning!

Here’s what helps me:

First, I learn to be aware of the emotions that rush up from nowhere.

I learn to accept those emotions as perfectly fine.
And I watch them, but don’t act.

I will talk to those emotions, like they’re a little child:
it’s OK to be mad, but breathe.

I remind my childlike emotions:
other people are different, and that’s good.

When people live and work together, there will be friction, and that is a part of the mix of humanity.

I remind myself:
life is too short to waste my days in irritation and anger. Don’t let other people’s problems become my own.

I then give thanks.

Gratitude solves all problems.

I am grateful for having this friend, or stranger, in my life, and I’m grateful for the chance to even be here, and for the incredible life I have.

Patience isn’t an easy thing, but the alternative is much worse.

Love will triumph if we let it.

"Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears."
~~ Barbara Johnson

Ellie, one of my cats, is teaching me patience and I love her dearly for it. Photo taken March 2008.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Greatest Speech Ever Made

Charlie Chaplin's final speech in "The Great Dictator".

What makes this even more amazing is the fact that this is Charlie Chaplin, a comedian. He wrote this movie. And within the comedy there is this message, a man's powerful message. He drops the comedy for a few minutes to spill this.

The passion he has is just amazing.

2:05 "Machine men, with machine minds, and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are MEN." I love how he says that.

"Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness"......

"Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening."
~~ Dorothy Sarnoff

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Creator or Consumer

We live in interesting times.....we’re blessed that way.

The world is changing rapidly.

The way we work is changing, the way we live has already changed.

Entire industries are crumbling, and more are growing on their ruins.

People are empowered to express themselves, to create, to become a part of a global conversation and transformation, in a way that has never existed before.

What will we do with that?

What will our place be in this new, interesting world?

Will we have a voice? Will we be a creator, or just a consumer?

I suggest we do something.


Here are a few thoughts to get the ball rolling.

• Help others achieve their dreams.
• Read and read and then write.
Love and love and then help others to love.
• Start a new company doing only one thing, but doing it very well.
• Inspire others by being inspiring.
Be the voice of those without one.
• Be profound.
Say something that no one else dares to say.
• Put your heart into something.
• Explore the world and blog about it.
• Write poetry and put it on the web.
Teach young children to do amazing things.
• Take old stuff and make new stuff from it.
Be open-minded.
• Be brave.
• Be honest.
Be hilarious.
• Put a smile on someone’s face......every day!
Dare to be wrong.
• Start NOW

"The beauty of empowering others is that your own power is not diminished in the process."
~~ Barbara Colorose

I took this photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Pylon Lookout looking north. Amazing 360 degree view of Sydney from the Lookout - May 2011

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Ask a Child

The older we become the more we tend to be influenced by our experience and set in our ways.

Children on the other hand have a much less tainted view of things. They tend to see things from a totally different perspective than adults.

Because children have fewer assumptions (if any) and are less inhibited they tend to give a more honest and black and white view of the world.

Often they'll give us a totally left of field response without any concern for convention.


Mind you you'll need to phrase things in a simplier way - which in it's own right is a good thing!

"Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they're looking for ideas"
~~ Paula Poundstone

This young boy is my teacher! (Three photos of Joseph in 2010)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Choosing Happiness

I can honestly say right now I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. And what I know for sure, is that happiness is a choice.

I did a lot of work to get where I am. But before the reading and research, before packing a camera in my purse every day in the hope of capturing interesting images, came making up my mind to be happy.

The first step, in everything in life, is making a choice. We make choices in every moment. Right now, you are choosing to read this article rather than fold laundry, watch TV, or give the dog a bath.

Right now, because I want to spread joy, optimism and inspiration, I am choosing to write this article rather than wander into the kitchen and fill a bowl with chocolates for a late night snack, which would really only bring joy to me (at least until regret sets in and I begin calorie counting).

The point is, we choose every second. Even when we lay about doing nothing, we are making a choice every moment to continue to lay about, rather than getting up and doing anything else.

We seem to equate choosing with changing. Often when we stay the course we feel as though we’re not making any choices at all, yet we are making choices - we’re just not making different ones.

It has been said that we think 60,000 thoughts every day. And ninety percent of them are the same thoughts we had the day before. With that kind of habitual thinking it’s no wonder choosing different thoughts can be challenging.

What you have to ask yourself is, are you happy now? And if not, what are you willing to do to be happy?

For me it was a matter of becoming so uncomfortable where I was that more than wanting change, I felt it was necessary. I got to the miserable, prickly place where staying the course I was on was no longer an option. I didn’t like myself depressed and feeling worthless. At the moment that realisation overtook me, I made a different choice. I chose to be happy instead - to enjoy my life and be a joyful person.

It is through choice that we begin to create our lives. Through choice we grow and feed and prune our days into the life we want.

"Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color. Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense, and choosing your friends by their color is unthinkable."
~~ Anon

I came upon this ancient Moreton Bay Fig tree while walking in the Botanical Gardens in Sydney on 28th August 2011. I stood and admired its beauty for some time.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Quality of Listening

I came across this beautiful story narrated by the prominent Buddhist teacher and Psychologist Jack Kornfield. It touched my soul and I felt I needed to share it with my blogging friends.

"In Africa. There is a story that illustrates the quality of listening that can come through meditation.

In a particular East African tribe or village when a child is born they don't count the birthday of that child from the day the child comes from its mother’s body or even the day it is conceived as in certain other cultures, but rather from when that child was first a thought in its mothers mind, that is the real birthday.

And as soon as the mother realizes that she would like to have a child with this particular partner, she will go off and sit out in a field under a tree, and listen, and wait until she can hear the song of the child that wants to be born in her heart that will come from the wedding or the coming together with this particular man.

And when she hears this song, she sings it to herself, and then returns back to the village and teaches it to her partner so that when they make love together, joined together in love, they sing this song and invite this child to be born.

And later as she is pregnant. She sings the song to the child in the womb and teachers it to midwives so that when the child is born the first song or sound that it hears is those gathered around singing its own unique song.

And as the child grows the people of the village learn the song of this person so that when he falls or she falls and hurts herself someone picks her up and sings her song to her, or in the rites of passage or rituals of the village the song is sung, the wedding ceremony where both songs are sung until finally even at the end of life, the song of this child now as an old man or women is sung for the last time, and say their last words...

When I first heard the story in it touched in me a longing to live in a place where we heard one anothers songs, where we were so in tune with ourselves and with one another that we could greet each other in that way, to meditate allows us to hear the song within ourselves and to be respectful and hear the song of those around us."
~~ Jack Kornfield

Do you know your song? Can you hear the song of others?

Take the time to listen.

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created."
~~ Brenda Ueland

My gorgeous friend Joseph, one day old - August 2006. We sing his song together every week.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Gudju Gudju - The Great Rainbow Serpent

Back in the dreaming when everything was dark and cold, lost dreaming spirits were wondering the land. Gudju-Gudju, the great rainbow serpent spirit roused from his sleep decided to create a world of beauty and purpose. The process of creation began.

He rubbed the coils of his body so hard fire was created for the first time. He called on the spirit of the Kookaburra to call the sun to rise and to create the first day.

All the spirits marvelled at what stood before them. With one great flash of light they came before the Rainbow Serpent and found him pulsating with magnificent colour. The spirits were told to go into the world and to create beautiful living things, animals, birds, trees and fish.

The earth rose into shapes of mountains and hills, rivers and creeks, then he blew on the sky and his breath formed feathery white clouds. The trees began to turn various shades of green, the mountains to violet and purple, and the birds began to display colours of the rainbow.

He told his people: What you are witnessing is part of you, and you are part of it, you must respect everything you see, hear and feel. Without this respect you will drag yourselves back into the freezing darkness for all eternity. I will now sleep forever but will guard the treasures which were created this day.

Story told by Paddy Jerome an elder of the Undami people North West of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Another Aboriginal dreamtime story which is part of the curriculum that we teach to the kids who attend Mt Druitt Learning Ground in Sydney.

"Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high, There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby"

Above mural photo of a serpent taken in Treagear, Western Sydney in August 2006.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Be Here Now

When I studied Practical Philosophy for 3 years the words BE HERE NOW were repeated over and over. There was a very simple reason why these three little words became my mantra.

In the chaos of the modern world, there is a beauty in simply doing.

We’re buffeted wildly by whatever emails, conversations, news, events, demands, that are going on around us.

Our minds become a constant deluge of thoughts dwelling in the past, worries of the future, distractions pulling us in every direction.

But all of that melts away when we focus on just doing.

It doesn’t matter what the doing is: sitting, walking, writing, reading, eating, washing, talking, snuggling, playing.

By focusing on the doing, we drop our worries and anxieties, jealousies and anger, grieving and distraction.

There is something profound in that simplicity. Something ultimately heart-rendingly breath-takingly gorgeous.

So when you are caught up in the sandstorm of thoughts, feelings, to-dos, meetings, readings and communications.

Pause. Breathe. Let all of that fade.

Now focus on doing one thing, right now. Just choose one thing, and clear away all other distractions.

Seriously, clear it all away. Turn off your Internet. Stop reading this article (OK, read a couple more sentences, then close your browser!).

Let all thoughts about anything other than the doing also fade away. They’ll come up, but gently make note of them, and then let them go. And return to the doing.

If you’re washing a dish, do it slowly, and feel every sensation. If you’re eating a fruit, taste it, feel the textures, be mindful of your hunger or lack of it. If you’re writing something, pour your heart into that writing, become the writing, inhabit the words.

Just do.

The rest of the world becomes meaningless distraction. It’s just you, and your doing.

And you realize: this is all that matters. In this, there is everything.

"Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment - chop wood, carry water".
~Zen Buddhist Proverb

This sign caught my eye when I was walking in Paddington, Sydney today - 7th August 2011.

Monday, 25 July 2011

A Tale of Two Writers

Once upon a time, there were two aspiring writers. The first, named Susan, wanted to write a novel and sat at her desk each day, between the hours of 8am and noon, dutifully writing her set target of 1500 words.

She wasn’t sure what her subject was yet, let alone the characters or plot, but some creative writing teacher told her that if she merely continued to put down words on the page consistently, over the weeks and months these narrative necessities would magically emerge, like a time-lapsed image of a Polaroid.

The second aspiring writer, Bruce, also wanted to write a novel. He had a few ideas about the characters involved, a vague notion of the story's turning points but wasn't sure of which point-of-view to choose, or how the drama might resolve itself.

He realised intuitively that novels aren't linear but cellular, tiny patterns of interconnnectedness that, when fully grown, form their own, unique mosaics.

Bruce didn't mind the discipline of hard work but didn't feel ready to embark on a first draft with his ideas in such an embryonic state. So, instead of writing lots and lots of words every day, trying to summon characters, motives and basic plot, Bruce kept a notebook for about a year but he didn't write in it religiously. But whenever he had a "eureka" moment - it could be on a bus, standing in line at the supermarket, or sitting on the loo - he'd scribble it down.

He didn't just jot down plot ideas or character traits; sometimes he'd draw diagrams of imaginary country towns, or the floor plan of his protagonist's house, or the genealogy of his fictional family.

Sometimes, when reading the newspaper, an item would pop out that would either inspire his subject matter or even resolve a narrative problem that had long been teasing him.

He pasted them into his notebook in no particular order, along with pictures and photographs.

Whenever he overheard something witty or intelligent he always made a note of it, in the same book, before time erased it forever. Bruce had learned the art of "writing without writing", a process that allows the imagination to wander freely; to make unconscious connections between narrative possibilities without the pressure of producing a consistent tone, a tight prose style, beautiful sentences and starting metaphors.

When it came to writing his novel, Bruce had prepared himself so well that he wrote it in six months and only had to revise it once.

Bruce was published and lived happily ever after.

Susan, however, is still at her computer, checking her word count and watching the clock!

"Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance"
~~ Dan Greenburg

Full moon 14 July 2011 taken at the front of my house in Sydney.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


I read an article recently that suggested we can make lifestyle decisions that reduce our risk of developing eye diseases like macular degeneration.

It said certain aspects of the eye are directly related to the physical body. Just like in reflexology, where they press our toes and neck pain releases, symptoms like myopia, cateracts and glaucoma are directly related to parts of the physical body such a back pain.

We can improve our own eyesight naturally, through an approach that begins with the brain.

People can have eye surgery to see clearly but the symptoms held with the brain aren't addressed.

Here is the technique that Allison Fahey, the Dorrigo based Yoga and Pilates teacher, learnt at the Yoga School of Perfect Eyesight in Pondicherry, India:

"The first thing to do is to blink regularly, to lubricate the eyes".

"We like to use our full range of movement in our joints; the eye muscles are the same".

"First look up and down, slowly.
Then look left and right.
It's quite hard as the muscles will be tight in certain areas"

"Other steps include standing in the early morning sun and swaying side to side with closed eyes and gently covering them with the palm and concentrating on seeing black"

"When you have good eyesight, you should see black only; if you see other colours, simply visualise black"

"It should be a pleasant experience".

Other suggestions include:
  • Eyes tire when looking up close for long periods. When reading or using a computer, look into the distance for a couple of minutes every hour.
  • Soothe tired eyes with a cool moist face cloth for 10 minutes.

"The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."
~~ Henri Bergson

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney - November 2009

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Autumn in Sydney

Autumn is a gorgeous time of year when nature gives us a spectacular show of colour and richness to enjoy before we are plunged into winter.

As I walk around my neighbourhood my heart sours as the russets, golds, scarlets, crimsons and the purples of all those wonderful autumn leaves fill my eyes with their beauty.

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns."
~~ George Eliot

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."
~~ Stanley Horowitz

Here are some photos I took recently to attest to it's wonderment. I have included my favourite one as the header photo.

Liquidamber Tree - 21st May 2011

Outside the front of my house where I play in the leaves of the Liquidamber tree each day. - 23 May 2011

This is Diego, my next door neighbours cat, he followed me around while I was taking some photos at the front of my house and insisted in being included in the Autumn photo shoot as he blended in well. - 23 May 2011.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Closing Doors

I am in the process of ordering things.....Not Around......Just figuring out some new sequences and structures and putting things in their place.

Ending things that need to be ended.

Closing all the doors that need closing.

Here are the questions I’m asking myself today:
  • What doors can I close right now?
  • What would make my life easier right now?
  • What will make this more lighthearted and playful?
  • What here needs order?
  • And what here could do with a little intentional chaos?
So. Here’s what came up.

What doors can I close right now?
Well this is a tricky one and the jury is still out on this one.

What would make my life easier and/or better right now?
A grilled avocado and cheese sandwich.

What will make this more lighthearted and playful?
Going for a walk to clear my head before I need it.

What here needs order?
The sequence of doors that need closing.

And what here could do with a little intentional chaos?
Everything, probably. When I intentionally step into chaos in order to regroup, I intentionally choose the flailing and the confusion to force the brain to generate creative solutions.
And then I systematically build new patterns.

What else will give me that sensation of intentional chaos?

What can I turn upside down?....or downside up?

You know what?

I’m going to mess up the pile and spread it all over the floor.

And then pretend that there is a sequence to it. And look for clues.
And then eat a grilled avocado and cheese sandwich!

Big love to you all on this seriously Sunday-esque Sunday!

"Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open"
~~ Alexander Graham Bell

This is Diego, my neighbour's cat, who visits every day. He is wondering why the cat door is closed! - January 2009

Sunday, 15 May 2011

How the Waratah Became Red

Way back in the dreamtime when all the plants and animals, trees and humans were being formed there lived an Aboriginal Tribe in the shadow of a story mountain.

On the side of the mountain there were flowering plants and among them the waratah which shot up above the other plants looking bold and beautiful. Most of the flowers were coloured white. Among them lay a red-bellied black snake called Gurri-Gurri. He found a nice warm spot on the top of the waratahs in the sun.

The women of the tribe came to dig for yams. A young baby girl had seen the snake laying in the sun and crawled towards him. She need not have feared Gurri-Gurri though because he was her totem and her protector. A woman saw Gurri-Gurri just as he lifted his head into the child’s lap and she hurled her digging stick at him.

Quickly Gurri-Gurri wrapped himself around the infant so the sticks wouldn’t hurt her. But the women threw more and more sticks and Gurri-Gurri’s blood began to spill on to the waratahs as he crawled away.

The sun came out and shone down on the waratahs, making them grow tall and strong. Their vivid red colour still marks the connection of plants and animals to mother nature. The red-bellied black snake still lies among the waratahs looking for his sun spot.

Story told by Kevin Smith from the Murramarang Tribe Southeast Coast, NSW, Australia.

This Aboriginal dreamtime story and many others, we relate each week to the children who attend Mt Druitt Learning Ground in Sydney. The stories take my breath away.

"When I dream, I am ageless."
~~ Elizabeth Coatsworth

Above photo taken in Canberra, Australia in October 2010. - Waratah (Telopea, Shady Lady)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

What a Nonce!

Nonce words live and die in the moment, or that's the usual fate of Nonce words.

For example Pandora, the planet in the James Cameron movie Avatar , there the blue people speak a language called Na'vi, where trr'ong means dawn and frawzo is wonderful.

Paul Frommer, the American linguist invented the ET-speak from scratch, a language that sounded unearthly yet could still be uttered by humans. In short, an A to Z of nouce words.

Anthony Burgess did likewise in A Clockwork Orange, his fable of urban decay written in 1962. Alex and his fellow droogs (or mates) speak a slang called Nadsat, a hybrid of Russian and Cockney rhymes. Deng is money and bezoomy - mad.....neither word slated to survive beyond the novel's covers.

Because that's what happens. We see a nonce word we like and adopt it. We feed it milk (and oxygen) much like a stray cat.

This happened to the word quark. It was sitting unloved in James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake when a New York physicist called Murray Gell-Mann plucked it off the page and used quark to label one of the three hypothetical particles that form the basis of our Universe......Quite the honour, when you think about it!

As readers, we fall in love with inspired nonsense. We refer to runcible spoons (Edward Carroll) and mimsy wabes (Lewis Carroll), despite not grasping what the terms truly mean. From doh to supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, we collect nonce words like sea-shells. And the moment we pick one up, the term outlives its own transience to become a genuine part of speech.

"Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work"
~~ Carl Sandburg

This very friendly Magpie, that enjoyed sharing our apple in Palm Beach, Sydney, had a very quizzical look on her/his face as I was talking to him/her. Maybe I was talking Nonce! - 12 March 2011.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Eden Gardens

I needed some plants to spruce up my backyard, so my friend Dianne and I decided to combine lunch and plant shopping at Eden Gardens in North Ryde, Sydney last Wednesday. (about 15 minutes by car for my house).

We had a fabulous day, a delicious lunch and I bought half a dozen plants that I hope will survive and thrive.

Some days are magical days, when the weather is perfect and you find a beautiful place where it feels so good to be alive.

"A Garden is a Friend You Can Visit Anytime"

The photos below were taken in the Eden Gardens complex - 20 April 2011

Friday, 22 April 2011

Turning Pain Into Knowledge

Sometimes when I think back on various phrases of my life, it’s hard not to think of all the hurt.

The misunderstandings, the pain, the missed connections. The ways that I screwed up.

The residual frustration about all the ways that other people - weren’t able to be the people I wanted them to be, which by the way is not their fault!

All that time spent being annoyed about how hard it is when you "can’t get blood from a stone".

My focus was in the wrong place.

But here’s what the Word of the Year reminds me to do:

I am allowed to have my grief and my pain. And I can also look at all that agony and remember that it’s business school tuition.

Instead of a diploma, I can just frame the Word of the Year and put it on my wall. And look forward to the next one, because it will be unbelievably useful.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. It’s a process.

We let people have their own experience, and we don’t give unsolicited advice.

"Those who have knowledge, don't predict. Those who predict, don't have knowledge."
~~ Lao Tzu

Spent a lovely day with Charlie and Joseph on 13 April 2011. We caught a ferry from Manly to the city and Charlie who is not quite seven took this photo of the seagull landing near where we were sitting.