What I’d like to do today.

I’m ready to start. Had a good sleep. Drunk some coffee. Head bouncing with ideas and possibilities: “I could…”

Get out my “today” book. New page. Heading:

ready to start.

ready to start.

“What I’d like to do today” (recognising that after I’ve slept well I’m likely to attempt the impossible- all the things I’ve been wanting to do but have been too tired or too busy or …)

  1. See my Uncle in the Nursing Home and my Book Club friend who lives alone and is unwell.
  2. write and publish a post.
  3. go to the gym, swim and use the steam room
  4. sort out my study
  5. write thank you cards
  6. fold and put away the washing
  7. organise my diary, plan and book the trip to Canberra
  8. wander around my local shopping centre and window shop
  9. visit Greenpatch nursery and buy some vegie plants
  10. garden- weed under the deck and pot up some plants
  11. make some phone calls

That’s only the beginning and it’s already midday.

Years ago I experienced one of those rare moments of insight that lead to  self understanding:  I was- completely, hopelessly, totally- unrealistic about time.  It came about like this:

My current man (boyfriend? lover? partner? my significant other? never quite know what to call them) was organising a conference and ferrying delegates from the airport. I was to pick up one international arrival. I suggested to him that we have dinner en route. Well! He looked at me as if were crazy- “Dinner!” he said. “Where’s the time to have dinner?”

It was one of those optical illusion moments for me. You know the ones, where the vases turn into a profile or… I have personal moments like that, when a set of facts transform into something else. I looked at my watch- thirty minutes to the airport, fifty to the accommodation, home for me, back to the airport for him… an impossibility, absolutely no spare time. Whatever was I thinking of?

a swan and a squirrel- an optical illusion.

a swan and a squirrel- an optical illusion.

A light went on. This was why I could sometimes be late, didn’t get things done and kept running out of time… it was because I was so completely, totally unrealistic about time. (And about money, maybe the two go together.) I believe there is an unlimited amount, or at the least, much, much more than there is in actuality. And so I run into trouble.

Since that moment, if I’m functioning well, before I need to be somewhere I will sit down and work backwards:

if I need to be there by two o’clock then-

it will take me forty minutes of travel, thirty minutes to shower and dress, fifteen minutes to organise the things I need to take, that adds up to eighty five minutes. I must start getting ready, then, by half past twelve.

Sound over organised? Frankly unbelievable? You can do all that without even thinking?

It’s the only way I can be sure of being on time and even then my head will sometimes do its optical illusion trick and I’ll switch the appointment time with when I need to leave. Oh dear!

You will appreciate that I remain ever grateful to that particular man for his shocked reaction to my simple “we could have dinner.” If he’d said calmly that he didn’t think so, I may never have reached this level of self awareness and I could be back in that land of rushing, being late, wondering why I never get things done….instead of being calm, organised, accomplished, poised…(if only!

Today? Well, I realised the list- just a beginning mind, was possibly a little long…

Feed the kookaburras!

Feed the kookaburras!

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It’s been a while, Kate, maybe it’s time for a review.

a very long time ago.

a very long time ago.

Who am I ? Why do I blog?  What am I on about?

It’s time to review,  recharge the batteries, re-connect and go back to the basics. A time to remember what drives me.

I blog because I must. For many years I lived with an urge to write.  Something inside  kept on pushing me to write. Web 2 happened and with it blogging. That vague, constant “I want to write,” became “I could write a blog.” It’s taken a very long time but I’ve finally started, instead of merely thinking about it.

This year I have had several months when I haven’t written and I said to one of my friends, in a moment of misery, “If I don’t write, then I might as well be dead.” Not because I’m accomplished, not because I think I’m good but because I must. Without writing, I lose a sense of purpose

in writing mode.

in writing mode.

Years ago I used to write a column in a small magazine. Come the deadline and I would sit at my computer and ask myself “What’s in my heart today?” That’s how I want to write.

Cheryl Strayed (author of “Wild: A journey from lost to found”, now a movie) says “When you’re speaking in the truest, most intimate voice about your life, you are speaking with the universal voice.”

You  probably know that feeling when you strike a chord in the heart of the person to whom you are speaking. That’s what I want to do.

Most likely these are some of the things I write about:

  • I love and cherish this Earth, our home. I care about what we have done and am committed to living in a way that is least damaging. That means living simply and sustainably. I was a city dweller and now live in a small rural town in Australia. The garden beds are begun so we can grow some of our own food.
  • the garden begins.

    the garden begins.

    I’m a woman, a single woman. For many reasons I have little financial security, but I am one of the fortunate ones. I live in my own home, paying neither rent nor mortgage. To do this, I have chosen to buy a house with one of my friends and become a co-houser. I have been fortunate. The spectre of homelessness as an older woman no longer looms so close. However, I remain passionate about the plight of many older women.

  • I love ideas and reading, listening to and watching stimulating programs. Favourite activitiesof mine include discussing ideas endlessly with friends, thinking and pondering  things I’ve heard, read or seen. Ideas fill me with enthusiasm and I want to share them, to pass them on, to let others know.
  • Illness has affected my life. I understand exhaustion, fatigue, insomnia and extreme illness because I’ve been there. I am alive because I have a stoma and ileostomy. Many times I have longed for another person who understood, really understood what I was experiencing. If someone who is exhausted, can’t sleep or been ill for a very long time, reads something I have written and feels the relief that comes with finally being understood, then I’ll be happy. And I want to show how it is to you who may not have been there, to deepen your understanding and empathy.
  • I need to feel I belong. It’s one of our most basic needs- to belong and be part of a group. One of my aims in this community, as always is to help to bring people together, to do what I can to make sure no one is isolated and alone. Community matters.
  • One of my kookaburras yesterday. A simple pleasure and a delight.

    One of my kookaburras yesterday. A simple pleasure and a delight.

    And sometimes I write about nothing very much, because life is mostly ordinary and nothing very much, but greatly to be treasured.

Imagine walking a mile in someone else’s headline: Monica Lewinsky speaks at TED2015

In praise of a noble woman.

Monica Lewinski. We are all familiar with that name. But we can forget that behind the name stands a human being, a person, a woman.
I have thought of her over the years; I have wondered how she was; aware, in some way, of how much she must have suffered; wondered how anyone could possibly survive such a maelstrom.
I am so glad she has survived- through great pain and at great cost and has become a person of great integrity, honesty and compassion. I am awed by her courage- in choosing to live, in facing the pain and now in choosing to stand tall and proud, to hide no longer.

I have been moved and inspired by her TED talk and by her recent essay. This is the TED blog summarizing the talk she has just given. The post contains links to the talk itself and to the essay in Vanity Fair.
Thank you Monica Lewinsky, firstly for your courage in choosing to live and now for your courage in choosing to speak with vulnerability and integrity. You are a hero of our time.

TED Blog

At TED2015, Monica Lewinsky calls herself "Patient Zero" for online harassment. Photo: James Duncan Davidson/TED. “Public humiliation as a blood sport has to stop,” says Monica Lewinsky onstage at TED2015. “We need to return to a long-held value of compassion and empathy.” Photo: James Duncan Davidson/TED.

Monica Lewinsky is one of very few people over the age of 40 who has no interest in being 22 again.

“At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss,” she says bluntly as she begins her talk on the TED2015 stage, her hands clasped in front of her. “At the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences. “

Lewinsky asks for a show of hands: “Who didn’t make a mistake at 22?”

“Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of my mistake, and I regret that mistake deeply,” she continues. “In 1998, after having been swept up in an improbable romance, I was then swept up into the eye of a political, legal…

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Image? What image?

My essence?

My essence?

“Kathryn, you need to be careful. You don’t want to present the wrong image,”

so advised one of my friends. I couldn’t disagree. He went on to say, “Be careful you’re not coming across as untidy or disorganized or chaotic or…” Umm, where was he going with this?

Then “The image you want,” he continued “is of the well groomed woman, sitting with a drink in her hand, beautifully dressed…” I could understand what he was getting at. That I needed  a certain look, a look that conveyed the successful, affluent career woman. At least, I think that’s what he meant.

Yes, but I’m not like that! I’m not arguing against the successful and confident. I’m questioning how that’s presented. And I’m questioning that whole idea of  choosing a deliberate “image”. I want authenticity. I want whatever I write or present to come from my heart, to be as authentically me as I can. I want you to see me as I truly am, not some manufactured version.

That's more like it!

That’s more like it!

And I’m not always well-groomed. I’m seldom dressed in leisurewear, lounging somewhere picturesque, sipping a drink. I’m more often grubby, dirt under my nails because I’ve been working in the garden; or it’s mid-afternoon and I’m in my pyjamas- or what passes for my sleepwear; or I’m wearing my oldest, daggiest and favourite clothes (often hand-me-downs from this friend).

A Blogging 101 prompt is to write a post to my ideal reader. I’ve been thinking about that. My ideal image of myself? My ideal reader? The introduction to blogging workshop I went to, advised us to have a narrow focus. This makes sense. It’s easy then to imagine my ideal reader- someone who shares that narrow focus. I would know who to aim at.

You know, I’m not sure I want agreement always. I want to encourage discussion, I want to swap ideas and experiences. I want to encounter mentors, people who will challenge me and I want to connect with people who may have shared similar experiences. I find it difficult to narrow my focus. When I think about doing that I can’t choose what to focus on. Country living? Sustainable lifestyle? Co-housing? Illness? Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Insomnia and continual exhaustion? Life with a stoma? Joy? Gratitude? the issues facing older, single women? Fun? Books? Whatever  it is I’m thinking about at the time?

I want to share my life, my thoughts, the insights I’ve gained along the way. I want to connect with others who live with a stoma or with insomnia so we can support each other, whinge to people who will understand and share any wisdoms we may have. I want to talk with older women who worry about facing a future alone or fear homelessness because I understand and share these anxieties.

And I want to share my co-housing adventure with you, the gardening challenges and attempts to live a simple lifestyle. I might learn something from you and I hope that sometimes you might learn something from me.

This is how I want to be- happy and full of life.

Ideal image? I know some of the qualities I want to have. I want to be compassionate and kind. I’d like to be a wise elder, but I also want to be funny and silly and passionate and intemperate. I want to live every moment of my life with gratitude and be fully present, no matter what that moment may be. I want to be me.

Image? Who cares? Let’s just get on and live.

The unique flavour of me

Daily Prompt: A local ice cream parlour invites you to create a new wacky flavor. It needs to channel the very essence of your personality. What’s in it?

My essence?

My essence?

Now that’s a challenge! How do I see myself? What are my characteristics? One day I will have a portrait of myself on this blog that I find adequate, but so far I haven’t managed that, and now I’m asked to create a flavour that is the very essence of my personality??  Come on! And turn it into edible ingredients?? Maybe I’ll go with intangibles and make a fantasy ice cream filled with talking and laughter; books and reading; quiet introspection. Or a handful of roses, a drop of river water, a smidgeon of moonshine…

There are no ice cream parlours around here. Ice cream in cartons from the supermarket, yes; ice creams and splices and other sorts on sticks, yes; but no parlours. I wouldn’t call them ice cream parlours either and I’m not sure what I would call them. And yes, I know I’m  avoiding getting around to defining the very essence of my personality. Is it modesty that makes defining myself a challenge? Or my culture that says I mustn’t skite or act conceited? Or is it because we become so defined by what we do, rather than who we are?

So, what would I include?

I do love to sit around talking with my friends, but I also love quietness and peace; in spite of the anxiety and stress of many years, by nature I’m happy and sunny, summer rather than winter; I’m intelligent and interested in ideas, bored by the superficial; not very practical and sometimes lack common sense; often vague, can be thoughtless and impulsive…An ideas person rather than a doer.

How will I turn my essence into ice cream? It needs to be made with cream because past times at my parents included home-made pies and rich, thick, yellow cream, collected from my uncle’s farm, just a few miles away. The cream can represent both this countryside which is imprinted deep into my very bones and the sense of belonginess from those times.

What else? Apricots for sunniness, walnuts for intelligence, figs- sensitive and easily bruised…and what can represent that ability I have to keep going, no matter what, to endure? SALT! The mineral that traditionally has been used to preserve. Then some smarties for a strong dash of fun.

Delicious!

Delicious!

Thinking about ice cream has brought back memories of childhood. I remember my parents buying their very first refrigerator and before that, the ice man  making deliveries and the big block of ice sitting in the ice chest. Imagine trying to freeze anything, with only an ice chest in an Australian summer?  Anything frozen was almost impossible. My mother used to make ice cream occasionally, beating the semi-frozen mixture by hand. Bought ice cream was a rare and special treat, a luxury. I remember an ice cream cake for someone’s birthday,  On special occasions we might be treated to an ice cream in a cone  and at Sunday school picnics the afternoon would see the thick canvas barrel, filled with dry ice, brought out and the handing  around of ice creams in little cardboard buckets with wooden scoops.

Ice cream tasted better then. Maybe I did too,