Don’t just smell the flowers – make them


I’ve tried to be more creative this year, professionally and privately.

In the school library, I have tried to make displays that are big and “in your face”, or interactive. Minerva, my erstwhile assistant, and I spent several weeks making large flowers from tissue paper for a “bloom and read” display. It was a big compliment for us when the art department asked for the flowers when we dismantled the display. They will be reused in their arts gala later in the year.

The interesting side bar, or maybe even the most important result, is the change that our flower making brought about in Minerva. In the six years I have worked with Minerva she has always claimed that she has no creativity, no creative abilities or talents. Of course, we all possess “creativity”; what we lack is confidence. Minerva was no different.

The simple act of folding paper flowers, experiencing the joy of creation, and sharing the positive reactions and comments of our community has opened a new mindset for Minerva that was totally unexpected. Now, instead of standing back and watching me create displays she is participating, to the point the she is picking items up off the side of the road to include in our work. She is also taking this mindset into her own life, looking at the world through a different lens.

It really is true that every journey starts with the first step, or in this case, the first tissue flower.






right place


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.

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.

a story of beetroots and little girls


conversation 2

Hello, Peoples!

My week has been varied. First week of term, new classes for me, more students to remember. I am dreadful with names, especially if they are Pacifika names. The names of Sudanese girls often trip me up too, and though I try my hardest to get the pronunciation correct, but it is not one of my better skills, so I often exasperate the students. I can but try my best.

Friday I went to a Teacher Librarian conference which had no TL focus but rather was on innovation and creativity; and was great. I really enjoyed the content. The brown paper bag lunch they provided was obviously at the lower end of the budget, but we survived. These days, I find, because I have been thundering around for a couple of years and making my opinions known, I have people seeking me out at conference, which is great for my ego, but it is so exhausting being nice. I am an outlier, and there I sit, and in these days of innovation and creativity, it appears a little more welcome.  Maybe, it is because I show that I really don’t care anymore. I don’t care about being mainstream.

I was told to cease and desist on my the makerspace, but if you can’t go over it, go around it, so I am seeking less visible ways (to administration) to achieve my goal. First up is seeking out two exercise bikes. I am hoping a couple of someone’s will donate them to us. One can but ask. If not I will put into my next budget  as library “furniture”.

The house is much quieter since Petite Fille and her parents moved back to their home. The conference I attended was in the city, so I spent the night before at what I now call their boutique hotel (they have a butler’s pantry bigger than many kitchens we had in previous houses!) Friday afternoon I was to return home to the country, but Petite Fille had a sad face, so Grandma agreed to spend another night.

Saturday morning we decided on coffee and cake, and Petite Fille was so excited at the thought of a “treat” – she is a no sugar child. She was allowed a lamington, which we hoped would go under the radar of her father’s approval (he was absent though!) When it arrived it was a vegan, beetroot lamington which ticked all the boxes. The Big Whatever must have been watching over us today! I could hear generations of long gone CWA Ladies (Country Women’s Association) rolling over in their graves – no sugar and beetroot in a lamington. From the way it disappeared I suspect there was in fact little to complain about!

I dropped into an office supplies store on the way home and purchased a set of neon coloured sharpies, so I am off to play with my pens! Not that I can draw, but I shall amuse myself never the less.


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


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.



Red Shoe Project 2016 or Creativity + Minimalism = 2016

red shoe project 2016

A couple of years  ago I attended a teacher librarian’s conference in Hobart, Tasmania. There was several keynote presenters, several of whom were authors. I noticed a common denominator. Red shoes.

The majority of the female presenters (there were a couple of males represented, fear not, though education and librarianship are heavily dominated by females) wore red shoes. The obvious conclusion for me, was that creative people wore red shoes. Therefore, I wanted to be creative, I needed to wear red shoes.

Eventually, I found the red shoes that suited me. They didn’t turn out to be magic shoes of creativity, but I really didn’t think that I would ever click my heels and go to Oz. Aus maybe, but never Oz (sorry little joke for me, as I am Australian! Okay very, little joke…)

What my red shoes are however, is that creativity is a mind set. A mind set that I need to cultivate and nurture. It ain’t going to happen if I don’t!  When I look down at my shoes I am reminding myself that I can be what I want to be, and that, yes, I can do it!

So,  fast forward to the New Year. My mantra or theme for 2016 is Creativity + Minimalism = 2016. I don’t have any hard or  fast plan as to what form that will take, but my goal is to be pursue creativity in all things – personal  and professional life which naturally includes my interactions and relationships with others. Our home will be crafted into our absolute sanctuary where we can live simply and slowly.

I acknowledge that this will be more than a year long journey.There will be good days and bad days, probably good weeks and bad weeks, if not months!  I can make a solid start in the next few weeks while the school vacation continues, after that the road will have more twists and turns as I return to work, but I will be kind to myself and just try my best.



nothing stays the same for evermore, or will you trust your child to a driverless car?

Roger Wilkerson, The Suburban Legend

Chatting with Daughter1 on the telephone (landline, how quaint) I asked what Petite Fille was up to, as I could hear various play noises in the background.

Daughter launched into a rather long explanation of how they needed new saucepans and how they had used some free points towards buying a set of saucepans etc. etc. While I was happy for Daughter to have new saucepans, nothing she said appeared to relate to Petite Fille’s present occupation.

“Lovely dear, but what is Petite Fille doing, right now?”

“Oh, she is sitting in the box.”

Like all imaginative two year olds she was sitting in the now empty saucepan box and “driving” it around her play world. I believe she had even improvised a steering wheel.

Writing this, it has caused me to wonder what will children of the future do, when all cars are driverless and we merely sit and wait to be delivered? Will they sit in their pretend back set updating their social media instead of brooooomm brooooooming, honking horns and steering with plastic plates and round objects, madly?

Will Mums doing the school pick up be made redundant, as parents will simply send a driverless car to school for their child? Perhaps a robot will ask children “What happened at school, today” to receive the “Nothing” reply that Mums traditionally receive.

average is just another so yesterday word

lego librarian

Last week, I attended a Teacher Librarian’s Conference at which Professor Erica McWilliam, scholar in the field of pedagogical innovation  and creative industries at QUT in Brisbane,  was a key note speaker. Whether you are a teacher, a librarian or a parent, I think it is important to heed what she said. These are my notes:

Professor Erica McWilliam , based much of her presentation on the theme explored in Tyler Cowen’s text; “What if Average if Over?”.

The premise of Prof William’s thesis was that no longer is coming from a “good home” with “good parents”, and going to a “good school” and getting “good results” before going to a “good university” enough to insure a “good job”. Or a “good life”. Our “A graders” may no longer go to university, and if they do certainly not for an undergraduate degree. These students, a small creative, cognitive elite, will go straight into specialized roles with the economy maybe accessing university at master’s levels when they may be sought out by the universities rather than they asking to go to that university.

What we term as our “B grade” students may be the only one going directly from high school to university, but there will be no notion of a “career” as we know it.

All learners need to  be smart editors of our information overloaded world!
Teachers and Librarians need to equip learners with the skills to obtain the signal from the noise (signal and noise as in communication theory). Learners need the ability to make smart judgments.

The creative, cognitive elite with these skills will be dynamic and agile, enabling them to add value to high-end services. Low-end services, which may even mean teachers and lawyers in some fields may find their roles outsourced globally. Individuals can no longer stagnant as employment will be short term, contract and project driven – the data shows this already.

For example, if a student wants to be a lawyer, for which there is an oversupply already, they should specialize in a high end, personal areas such as divorce law. There are hundreds of students undertaking journalism degrees for which there are no longer jobs. They should be publishing online before they leave high school. Students should be positioning themselves as a brand, and using tools such as LinkedIn.

Learners need to be creative and be able to enter the so-called “third space”. They need to enter that space we didn’t actually know was there, with unanticipated ideas. More than thinking outside the box! A little like thinking to add a fish gene in a tomato. (my note!)

The comment was made that once computers learn to fix other computers that level of IT technicians will also be redundant.

To be employable our learners will need to perform without requiring management. They cannot be needy for praise! They must be able to add value to computerized processes. Whatever they do, they must be able to do it extremely well. 

Teachers can no longer teach learners what they need to know.

2. What will wellbeing mean?

Spiritual wellbeing
Physical wellbeing
Financial wellbeing
Educational wellbeing

Educational wellbeing: not just going to university; not just academic success.

The role of teachers and librarians is to assist in personalized learning for self-improvement, for learners will be self-selecting their learning. This is outside of mandated learning.

Historically, there have been scientifically educated artisan classes and a new breed of inventors would arise from within. However, specialization and IT have meant that we are becoming more ignorant… but our learners need to be “usefully ignorant”! They will need to value add specialization.

Libraries have the position for self-directed learning and educational well-being. Libraries need to be different to the classroom.

Article to read “ No child left untableted” New York Times.