first, peel your banana

andy-banana

Bananas don’t last long in the extreme Australian summer heat. Five were dying in our fruit bowl this morning. Mr FD manned up and added two to his lunch time salad, but two from five still left three. I decided to make the two ingredient cookies my granddaughters love (2 bananas : 1 cup rolled oats, bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes) . Except somehow I never manage to follow the recipe correctly – this time not quite enough rolled oats in the pantry- and so I topped up with muesli!

Earlier this morning I had noticed all the New Year Resolution posts popping up online. This year’s resolution for me was to be creative and I have given myself a 9 out of 10 for that resolution. Not quite a 10 because sometimes I am too lazy to do anything but sit and mindlessly flick through Facebook or mindlessly resort to old habits! By creative, I don’t just mean “arty”, I also mean trying too look at a world with a design mind – seeking new uses for things, being innovative in my life as well as creative. I am happy with what I achieved overall though.

Looking at the sad bananas in the fruit bowl, I though that maybe 2017 could be the year to work on food waste. We buy so many vegetables and fruits that just wither and rot in our refrigerator. Much of this is due to the fact that I have great plans for the week, but as each day passes and I get tired and the school work piles higher, I resort to pulling in for takeaway at night rather than even think about making a simple meal.  Bad girl!

Looking at it creatively, trying to minimise food waste also means that I am planning our shopping better – maybe even save money in the process. We will certainly eat better meals, and that will impact positively on my health, which we all know needs all the help it can get!

Mr FD  in recent weeks has become quite the hand at the barbecue, so if I  plan meals around that to start with, I can’t see how we can’t prosper. I have a slow cooker to use in colder months. It also continues on my 2016 creativity resolution, which makes me self-pleased. I am feeling superior already.

So, that’s it, folks – my resolution for 2017 is to reduce food waste in our home. Good for me, my family, the community and the planet. What’s not to love?

Just going to tell Mr FD what his first resolution for 2017 is…

 

 

 

right place

red-typewriter

Do you have a favourite writing place? So many writers say they love writing in busy places. I have read that J.K. Rowling and John Green both wrote in cafes. I don’t think that would work for me. I suppose being an introvert to start with, I seek quiet spaces.

I have imagined two scenarios of writers writing – one that would not suit me, and one that certainly does. I am writing this in that very spot!

Venue not suited to me:

She sat in the shopping mall café, surrounded by the pell-mell of human existence. The notebook was open before her, but her attention was focused on the coffee cup beside it, more that the blank pages. Every time someone walked into the café she looked at them, perhaps searching for inspiration, but finding none she would return to the coffee cup. Lifting it to her lips for the umpteenth time she discovered it was now empty. Lifting the hand with the unused pen in it, she signalled to the waitress for a refill. Obviously, this was not to be her writing place today.

Venue suited to me:

The bed was wide and she was the sole occupant. The day stretched before her and she has nowhere to be but there. One, two, three large pillows were lifted from the floor beside the bed and placed, just so, behind her back and head. Then the laptop and tray were placed, also just so, upon her lap as she lay back against her pillow bed throne. She knew she would get lots of work done today.

facts and some fiction

red-typewriter

I have registered for a short online writing course through the Open University as part of my being creative year, my Red Shoe Project. I hope also that it will assist me in teaching my students creative writing.

The first task was to write a paragraph with three fiction elements and one fact.  Then, the task was to write a paragraph with three facts and one fictional element.

FICTION Paragraph.

I find peace in the rain. It drowns out the voices, and the memories of what went before. It is only when the rain falls that I also know that they won’t be searching the streets, sniffing the dark spaces where I might possibly seek protection. Chasing me. The rain is the one thing that halts their progression. I pray for rain, every day. Today, I rise to blue skies and sunshine. The pursuit resumes.

 

FACT Paragraph.

I lost my eye on Friday the thirteenth. By lost, I don’t mean that I forgetfully left it on the bus, or sitting on the bathroom shelf. I mean that it my eye was surgically removed on Friday the thirteenth. The next day, propped up in my hospital bed, a mile of bandages covering the right side of my head, a religious minister appeared at the door of my shared room to visit the old woman, slowly dying in the next bed. The sight of a young girl, for I was only eighteen, head swathed in bandages, must have prompted him to think he had to speak.

“Did you lose your eye on Friday the thirteenth?” he chuckled.

“Yes,” I replied.

He turned and fled the room.

“What about my dying?” asked the old woman.

I shouldn’t have got to my age without knowing these things

red shoes 1

Immerse myself

Cherish imperfections

Take whatever time it needs

Play with the elements

Know what I can control and what I need to let go

Pay attention to my world

Embrace experiences, big and small, negative and positive

It doesn’t have to be complicated

Slow can be give unexpected gifts

Trying thing you aren’t good at, can help you find your talents

Time and motion proceed together, so just start

Expect rejection

Expect success

Use the tension

Capture moments

Use the ugly

What is today, may not be tomorrow, so try again, again and again

Nurture your need, your passion, your obstinacy

Show my flaws

Pick up the pieces and start something new

 

Where does creativity hide?

girl 1

Where does creativity hide? In deep, dark, unfathomable places I have never really been able to fully uncover. I think my self-censor has dug a hole and buried it so deep it may never see the full light of day.

I have had no deep childhood trauma and maybe that sealed my creativity’s fate. There are few tales to tell from a happy childhood. Too much balance, nothing to work out through words, on paper, or in art. Such a fate.

I am a multidimensional person, we all are. There in should lie creative spaces; I am sure they must. However, I also allow ambiguity to dwell beside creative intentions. Happily, though, this is counteracted by the universe sending me messages, or what I think are hints, or messages. This focuses me for a few moments, maybe ever a span of hours, before uncertainty, that ever present chorus of negative voices in my head, and the pressure of being observer of my own self, sends creativity back to whence it came.

So any creativity by this time is pretty dizzy from forces turning it in circles, up and down and all around. Somewhere in the middle, the vortex, is a small individual who still remains committed, but not wholly steady, feet not yet fixed on the right path. A clock is ticking her hand, the only sound inside her space. Tick Tock, the days go by, the weeks go by, your life goes by; so much uncommitted.

 

Tick Tock.

tip toeing through the Red Shoe Project

red shoes 2

This year, my  intention is to be more creative. As some of you may be aware, I have name 2016 The Red Shoe Project.

I have to claim that is is going really well, so far. I have been much more creative at work, if not at home, but the increased creativity is becoming matched by an increasing level of frustration. I just don’t have the time to undertake or complete all the things I have planned.

I started a newsletter for students, and I am using a software program I haven’t used before, so I had to take time to teach myself how to use it. Rewarding but laborious.

I have dozens of ideas for library displays but lack the time to source the resources and build the displays.

I am about to launch a competition for students in which they are to decorate old fashioned wooded rulers in their medium of choice, but can’r find the time to make the promotional material.

Time, Time, Time.

Oh and extra energy. I am a person who needs a good night’s sleep to get through the next day. Some school nights I am asleep by 7.30pm. There have been nights when Petite Fille and I have been in a race for who could get to bed first. She usually beats me as she has two other people helping her into bed.

So to be creative, I need time. I’ve tried being creative with time but it isn’t working so far. No being helped by the fact that Petite Fille and her parents are lodging with us during their house renovations. Not a complaint, merely an observation.

No wonder artists live alone in garrets and don’t have day jobs!

And while I am complaining, I have has a cold that has led to a continuous dry cough and I hurt my shoulder opening louvres in the Library and now can’t raise my arm above shoulder height without crushing pain. And you thought your life was tough!

Anyway, what the Red Shoe Project has taught me that one needs good health, sleep, organisational skills, and time to be creative. Maybe next week.

Maybe if I click the heels of my red shoes like Dorothy, I can go to a Creative Space, far, far away…

 

 

 

reality at the end of the tunnel

pink-chair

This is back to the real world week. We report for work on Wednesday for the first of a couple student student free days, then a two day conference which includes an overnighter. The students return on the 27th, the day after the Australia Day holiday.

I should not complain as poor Minerva had to report this morning as she is classed as a school officer and so do not have the same holiday conditions. In fact they don’t get paid over the holidays at all. They annualise their wages to cover the holiday downtime. People in education are not paid nearly enough for their loyalty, or for what they do.

I have been missing in action lately. I went back to the City for a couple days, only to return with a stomach bug that poor Petite Fille had suffered first. A day or two of fasting certainly won’t hurt me! I just want to be well by Wednesday.

This is my year of creativity. I have a number of projects I want to initiate at work, and I wonder where I am gong to find the time and possibly the energy to complete them all. Not that they all have to be done at once, but there is only me to do most of it. We are officially understaffed but there is no way I am going to get extra staff. The few times I have been loaned an extra person to assist for a few hours it is someone who has absolutely none of the skills we require. Once or twice a “Work for the dole” person has been assigned to us and it has always ended in disaster. Low literacy is not what we need as a library assistant, and especially someone with severe dyslexia!

Everyone thinks working in a library is easy work. They don’t realise how much attention to detail is required, nor how physical it can be moving large amounts of books, especially heavy textbooks. I saw a photo of a coffee mug yesterday which had the statement, “Don’t confuse your google search with my library degree!” ‘Nuff said. It’s actually an applied science degree.

library degree

To jump start, I spent a day last week putting together a welcome newsletter for staff. We have a number of new staff and so I have tried to make the list of dos and don’ts for the Library not actually look like a list of dos and don’ts. I don’t want to be lecturing, but there are some nasty misdemeanours the teachers do every year that really come back to haunt the library as the year goes on. It seems as long as it comes out of the school budget and not their own pockets that many teachers do not care about resources or textbooks, except when they can’t get something they want NOW! Hopefully, I accomplished a short two page newsletter with information and procedures that is attractive and interesting enough to actually get them to read it. At least I have something in print to prove that were officially told so I can bite them on the knee cap, or sic Minerva onto them, at a later date. It’s how we get our big jollies after all – being mean to teachers and students.

It’s a lovely day outside, and not too hot, so I am going to wake Augie Dog from his midmorning nap in the hallway, (obviously the coolest place in the house at the intersection of a number of breezes) and walk around my garden for awhile. Taking time for me.

 

 

A step at a time, a day at a time: new habits

image

A post of the Red Shoe Project 2016

 

Next Wednesday, the teachers’ school year starts for our school. In the spirit of living a simple life and minimalism, I have been thinking about how I am going to approach a new school year.

Four years have passed at this school, and things were not always great towards the end of last year. I brought a few things to a head and asked for more than a few changes, which I hope Admin with honour after all their promises. I have my part to play as well.

So, I have dusted off the holiday grey matter and tried to craft a little set of new habits to support my intentions.

Stay focused. I can go off agenda fairly easily when I choose. Make my to do list, my tomorrow list. This year, I am going to break tasks up into small chunks, but follow through with more care and attention. Not just the stuff I want to do, but the staff I have to do.

Be creative. Or rather, find a way to include a creative aspect to every day. I want to upscale my displays and add more wonder and awe to our library, so I am aiming to put aside 30 minutes each day to plan and follow through on a creative endeavor.

Read books. I’ve been spending too much time on Pinterest for a start. Okay, a lot of it is curating resources and information for teachers and students, but I need to read more of the books on our library shelves. So, maybe a target of twenty pages a day? I think that is attainable.

Express gratitude. This can be damn hard some days. Our Principal is in the habit of saying that the students are ”gift to us”. Not sure that I can be that grateful, but at least I can try to listen more to others and  to walk a little in their shoes before adding them to my stick list (the people I am going to hit with a stick on my last day in the job). Maybe collecting the positives and not the negatives in each day? Perhaps, if I try to have one amusing, or interesting anecdote to share with my family at the end of each day, it might help me to express more gratitude.

Meditate. Not something to do at school, certainly, but if I try to spend five or ten minutes either end of the day meditating, or just being silent and still, it may help me through the noise and bustle of my school day. Focus and refocus.

Innovation. One can only try.

a minimalist life lesson

useful

After a lifetime of living with myself, it appears I am still learning things about the person that I am. Since commencing my own Red Shoe Project and working towards minimalism I have learnt:

  1. Pace the project. I can’t start a project “gung-ho” if I mean to sustain it. This is because if I work for large chunks of time the quality control on my decision making diminishes in proportion to the length of time worked. My discipline goes right out the door.

Solution : I work best if I work in 20 or 30 minute chunks of time. A cup of tea, a walk to the mailbox with Augie Dog, or just doing a daily household chore refocusses me and I can return to the task with my decision making refreshed. Then, I can make the correct decision into which pile my belongings belong – bin, donate, save.

2. Don’t get bogged down in the little stuff, too soon. Clear the closet first, before tackling the jewellery and accessories. Chances are a lot to that jeweller that has been lost at the back of a closet, if chosen to be kept, will need some work – chains untangled, cleaning etc. before going into a new place of use. In my experience, it starts a side tour from the main path.

Solution: I have chosen one set of shelves where “tiny projects” such as jewellery boxes can sit and wait their turn. Once the closet is sorted, a home chosen for my belongings that is both accessible and sustainable, then I can sit down and look to the “small stuff”.

Not bad retrospection or reflective learning, whatever you choose to call it, for two days along the Red Shoe Project. It’s nice to find, early in this project, that there are unexpected bonuses – and three tidy closet shelves.

red shoe project 2016

Minimalism : a job for warrior baby boomers!

image

 

Has minimalism been designated as a “young person’s” zone, or am I just unlucky to have come across nothing but twenty-thirty something young persons tell me how to get rid of my stuff?

Try being a baby boomer that birthed three children, now adults, who has been married 38 years and then tell me about stuff. I have multiple potato peelers older than most of the so called minimalism experts.

I started the flirting with minimalism a couple of years back. When we made our tree change I tried to shed as much as I could, but we ran out of time and energy in the moving process and so more stuff than I wanted made the journey to the country with us.

Then my mother went into care and the contents of my parental home of fifty plus years had to be dispersed. That meant incoming, but I managed to keep it to those things I considered important to me. My brother and sister took the mother lode, so to speak.

Not long afterwards, Mr FD’s parents died and though I stated VERY CLEARLY that I desired nothing from their home except for a few select items I thought our children should receive, Mr FD heeded not and a peculiar assortment of household items made their way into our garden shed and home. Most of it pretty ugly.

Now I open drawers and find three potato mashers and five pastry brushes. I make pastry about once every three years, tops.

So, some perky little thing with nice teeth who has only ever collected shoes and drink coasters from holiday nightclubs is not going to know the minimalism I am seeking. I need it in the large family size tub.

Baby boomers have a unique position on clutter. There is the clutter of two lives joined together; the clutter of  children and their lives before they flee home leaving everything in their rooms and the plastic storage containers in the garage. This is then topped by the yours and mine parents’ hoarding of their lives and the stuff we left behind when we fled the parental abode as well.

A weekend, two cupboard boxes and three plastic shopping bags are not going to meet my needs.

I’ve made a decision. I am going to complete the kitchen project kick started by Son while I was interstate. In turn, I think he was influenced by his sister who gave me a set of coffee mugs as a Christmas gift, then refused to leave the house until I shed an equal or greater number of  ugly and mismatched mugs that no one ever used. You know the type – the tiny mugs that only hold a thimble of tea or coffee and so are always pushed to the rear of the cupboard. Also, the cups that were “special” to your children, when they actually were children, but  are now on a top shelf, out of reach even if anyone desired to use them.

I wanted to shed the children’s cups for aeons, but I just knew the gods would go crazy and the very next day one of the children would have a mental melt down that would only be contained by drinking out of the mug they got at Dreamworld in 1997. However, Daughter1, a thirty something, steam rolled me into agreeing to allow her to remove them. That is, I allowed her to think she was steamrolling me and now if her siblings complain about a departed keepsake cup I can point the finger of blame her way. Win, win, for me. She gets to think she got one over mother, which is always a good ploy by any mother. Let them think they win, when in fact you have won big time.

How is any twenty-thirty something going to understand that type of minimalism psychodrama? Move aside this project requires a Baby Boomer Warrior Minimalist!

And no, I won’t be wearing any big girl undies on the outside of a superwoman costume. It’s always the pearls, dahling.