Australia · books · challenges · realities · writing

Excited trepidation

Sometimes, even birds get in a tizz.
Sometimes, even birds get in a tizz.

This morning, the university study schedule and information has been released for the two units I am enrolled in for session one, which begins next week, and as I printed out Study Guides and Unit Information Guides this morning I felt the familiar bubble of excited anticipation I usually feel at the beginning of a new learning journey.

Mingled with the excitement, however, I also experienced a fairly large chunk of trepidation.

I’m enrolled in the Associate Degree in Creative Writing and have so far completed three of the sixteen units. The first two units, which I completed well before the end of last year in session two of the study year, progressed wonderfully. Nothing untoward happened, I learned lessons which I will continue to carry with me throughout the associate degree and beyond, and I became friendly with some like-minded, ‘mature aged’ students who are experiencing a similar learning process to my own. I took the opportunity to complete my third unit over the Christmas/New Year period, during session three, again feeling eagerness and anticipation over the content of the coming twelve weeks study and assignment tasks.

It was during the latter weeks of this third unit that I began to feel the effects of information overload, brought about by political leanings, opinionated unit content and the evident desire of the authors of the learning materials to neatly package groups of people together in what they described as minority group and label each group with its (apparent) appropriate sticker.

At the point in the unit that I began questioning the learning process, we were discussing the book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

An academic may, upon the mention of Jane Eyre, nod knowingly and mutter ‘ah yes, Jane Eyre‘, whilst realising the popular train of thought offered by university lecturers and those people who possess a biting, critical and analytical mind for all texts written since the beginning of time. For the uninitiated student such as myself, however, the Study Guide materials and ensuing discussions came as something of a shock.

What did I expect when I enrolled in this unit? Jane Eyre was listed as one of the Written Texts students would study during this unit, along with several other books. I’ve read Jane Eyre and although I found Brontë’s 19th-century style of speech difficult to read in the beginning, after the first few pages I began to enjoy the experience of reading a book written authentically in the time frame. Historical writing, such as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, whilst written historically, were not written in 1743, the year in which the female protagonist, Clare Randall, found herself after falling through a time-warp amid the stones at Craigh na Dun during a visit to Scotland in 1946. Jane Eyre, on the other hand, was published in 1847 and written during a time when females were not regarded as having anything worthwhile to say and not accepted as authors worthy of publication. Charlotte Brontë, like other female authors of her time, stepped around this technicality by releasing her early writing under the nom de plume of Currer Bell, a fact which I found fascinating and a sign of those times. During reading Jane Eyre I marvelled at the changes in society during the past one-hundred-and-seventy years and silently thanked the suffragettes, and various other the women throughout time who have fought the battle, and won, for equal right for women. I had expected discussions throughout this unit to be comparisons of writing styles during various time frames; I expected admiration for female authors, such as Charlotte Brontë who led the way in fighting a male dominated society, hence breaking down the barriers, enabling the opportunity for me to write today.

I was wrong. We were expected to read the assigned texts from the only point of view we have available to us, which is now, placing all of the judgements we know to be ‘correct’ today, on a text which was written one-hundred-and-seventy years ago. Apparently, Charlotte Brontë wrote from a narrow and limited point of view and should have known better than to portray Rochester’s first wife as a Creole, which (apparently) emphasised the bigoted outlook of the English.

This line of discussion, (especially relating to the apparent prejudice of English folk whose soul purpose was to colonise and the entire world) was held right at the time when heated debate was rife over Donald Trump’s controversial election as the American President. And perhaps this unit’s discussion board conversations fell victim of the overflow of anguish spilling across from the other side of the world. It didn’t help the situation any when these events coincided with Australia celebrating yet another ‘Australia Day’, meant to bring the citizens of this country together as we sing the praises of the country we love, yet in recent years has been described as ‘invasion day’ by some people who are indigenous, part indigenous or indigenous sympathisers in this country. Before I realised what was happening, the discussion board debate turned political. In the university environment, where the study guides describe our once heralded ‘Australia Day’ as invasion day (a point which I usually overlook, and read on) my once-expected-to-be pleasurable debate and learning experience turned into an emotionally draining nightmare.

If you have read this far, and are a regular reader of my blog posts, no doubt you are asking why I chose to participate in the discussion board debacle, when it obviously upset my equilibrium. Ten percent of the grade awarded at the end of the unit is assessed on personal participation to the discussion board. I seriously considered whether it was worth the ten percent, but as the unit was nearing the end when I became positively rattled, I chose to stick it out.

As I begin to study two new units, again verging into the unknown, I have not developed any expectations of the unit content. I now know to expect the unexpected, however, the trepidation is there. I do not wish to feel like an emotionally drained, rung-out old dish cloth at the end of what should be a pleasant learning journey. I hope that this most recent experience is a one-time event. I question how the topic of discussion I endured will help me to become a better writer, (which is why I signed up for the Associate Degree in Creative Writing) and will remain open to a proverbial penny dropping moment in the future.

For assignment 4, discussion board participation, my grade was a high distinction, yet in hindsight, I feel I paid too a high a price for the ultimate accolade, which was such a small aspect of the unit.

And please, anyone who feels inclined to comment regarding anything political or controversial, I respectfully ask you to please refrain from any such observations. These mentions were only made to describe a situation, not to open further debate.

Thank you, dear reader, for lending your ear (eye?) as I again venture into the unknown, this time literally prepared – in a suit of armour.

challenges · In My World · pets · Uncategorized · writing

Making time for writing.

Making time to enjoy the important aspects of life. Meet my new little girl, Brontë, a seven month old Labrador.
Making time to enjoy the important aspects of life. Meet my new little girl, Brontë, a seven-month-old Labrador.

For those of you who haven’t heard what I’ve been up to this year, there is a logical explanation as to why I haven’t added any new posts to In My World for nearly three months.

Late last year I began an online course through the University of Tasmania, a Diploma of Family History, which whetted my appetite for writing to such an extent that I searched university websites for something – anything – where I could formally learn more about the art of writing.

As it turns out, a local university offers an online Associate Degree in Creative Writing, just what I wanted, but there was a catch – I had to have completed high school before they would allow me to enrol, which I hadn’t done. But an alternative to returning to high school was offered, a short course which, if I passed, would guarantee my enrollment in the associate degree.

I couldn’t sign up quick enough! And after having successfully completed the preliminary course by June, with three distinctions and one high distinction, I am now tackling my third unit in the associate degree.

An assignment is due tomorrow, which needs my immediate attention, but isn’t it ridiculous not to have a regular writing routine when studying writing? I don’t know how successful I will be in finding time to add more regular posts to my blog, and I can’t make promises to regularly visit my friends’ blogs either, but I can try.

Only time will tell if I can succeed in arranging my time management skills to this extent. Hopefully, I can.

 

Australia · challenges · happiness · In My World · new beginnings

An Indulgence In Emotive Writing.

kookieAn intense wave of sadness came over me this morning, which I still feel as I begin to write. And I need to write now, before the feeling subsides, as I know it will. Let me explain.

Last year I spoke of wanting to write more. The longing to write has always been there, even before I could write. I would look at picture books as a child, before I could read, and make up my own stories. Writing, no matter whether my attempts are good or bad, is as natural as breathing to me.

I wanted, and still want, to learn how to be a better writer.

But I didn’t finish high school and acceptance into higher education, called university here in Australia, requires the successful completion of high school.

Rules change, so over the years I have occasionally contacted various universities to see if I could enroll without completing high school, and in short, always given the same answer – “no”.

Last year, I tried again. I made a phone call to a local university. I had scoured their web page and discovered they ran my dream course, ‘Creative Writing’. What was even better, I could take the course online – perfect! I could still work from home; still do the office work for our business; keep the house in order…

“Could” – if they accepted me.

I made the phone call, and initially I felt that same familiar deflated feeling, as the friendly young man on the phone told me that no, nothing had changed, I had to have finished high school, then he continued, had I completed any diplomas? Participated in any courses? I told him no, I had been too busy juggling the building and running of businesses for my entire working life, in between being a mother to four children.

“It sounds like you have a lot of life experience”, he went on. Yeah, sure I did, but that wouldn’t get me into university!

He continued… “I may have just the thing for you”.

That day, with the help of a friendly man who took the time to care, I had enrolled, at university!  It is a short course, just three months, full-time and online. All I have to do is pass, which guarantees me a place in my life-long dream course, Creative Writing.

So, here I am, two months into the course and what a learning experience it has been so far! After my first online lesson, my head was spinning at one-hundred miles an hour, at least! During that first lesson, our lovely teacher informed the class that at university we would be required to write in an academic, non-emotive way.

What had I gotten myself into??!!

During the first month of the course, I doubted my abilities and asked myself “Who am I trying to kid? I can’t do this”, then booted myself up the rear end, figuratively speaking, and continued.

To date, for the assignments I have submitted, I have been graded with one credit, three distinctions, and one high distinction. I’m coping. I don’t do much else with my days, other than sit at my computer and read, then write, then read some more, but on the 29th of May, the final assessments will be submitted. If I can hold it together for another four weeks and continue to receive at least a pass in my grades, my dream will begin.

During the weeks of writing in an academic, non-emotive manner, I have held onto my dream, with the ‘creative’ part of Creative Writing foremost in my mind!

So what led to the wave of sadness today? In class this morning, we were asked a question – ‘What is the purpose of writing?’ The usual answers were there, the “right” answers, ‘writing is to inform the reader’, and so on.

But that isn’t all that writing is meant to do!

I had to add another definition, my own, my familiar this-is-what-it’s-all-about definition. You can write to make the reader feel something. That’s what I want when I read, to feel something. That is what I want to convey when I write – a feeling.

Of course, it was pointed out that feelings have no place in academic writing. Yes, yes, yes, I know…

But oh, the wave of sadness! How I miss writing creatively! It’s like missing a loved one, or losing a limb!

This is the reason why I haven’t written anything about what is happening ‘In My World’ lately. I’ve had to learn a different style of writing, to get me to the course in which I will learn how to write in a completely opposite way to the one in which I am expected to write before I reach my goal.

Crazy, right!

As this morning’s lesson continued, I jotted down notes, (e.g. “back up your ‘gut-feeling’ with academic evidence”) as always. And beside those notes, I had another list of notes, those to follow as I wrote an emotive, non-academic post today, filled with all of the “I”, “me” and “my” words that I cared to indulge in! I feel like a reformed chocoholic who has fallen off the wagon! But in the nicest of ways. 😉

Before I go back to my academic alter ego, I’m sure you are wondering in which class I have been awarded a high distinction. Wonder no more, my friends. My high distinction was for…*drum roll*…Maths!

I know, right? Go figure!!

See you all next month. xx

A Sense of Spirit · challenges · grand-baby one · In My World · son

The Day After Tomorrow

pink gerbera

Tonight I am wishing tomorrow away. It’s a day that I’m expecting to be difficult. One I never could have imagined would ever happen.

Tomorrow is the funeral of my stillborn grandson, Samuel.

Samuel’s other grandmother has arranged the day, and I know that my son needs me to be with him on the day. He needs the support of his family, to know we are there for him to lean on while his heart is breaking. To comfort him as he bids his son a final goodbye.

Life will go on, just as it should. The trees will continue to sway in the breeze and the birds will sing, assuring me that the world has not stopped spinning, yet for one small part of tomorrow, time will stand still for me. The clocks will stop ticking. I will be with my son. My heart will break for my boy.

And the day after tomorrow we will move on again. Life will begin again. The ticking of the clocks will resume. My son’s heart will mend, but there will always be a scar, a scar which he will wear with pride.

Baby Samuel will never be forgotten.

Adams tattoo

“Samuel Christopher ~ Always on my mind, Forever in my heart”. ❤

~~~~~~~~

 

challenges · Changes · gardening · In My World · photography · respect

Words on Wednesday…

Alma

Have you ever found yourself living life on a roller-coaster, both emotionally and physically, when all you really wish for is peace? Managed to get conned into playing the lead roll in dramas, whist yearning for a quiet place back stage?

When your deepest desire is to yell out in your loudest voice, “Stop the world, I wanna get off”, you know it’s time to force yourself into a backseat position, where you can flick through the pages of your book unnoticed, hide in a quiet place in the corner of the garden to take photos of flowers and birds, switch off the phone (and/or take the phone off the hook!), batten down the hatches, take a few deep breaths of sea air (how long is it since I went down to the beach??) and get a hold of your thoughts and feelings.

azalea

When I visit Tess’s Azalea, shown above, I yearn for my quiet, loyal, well behaved old dog, wishing she could still be the pup in my life. She’s been gone now for eighteen months, yet a visit to her grave usually has me with tears in my eyes, remembering. Don’t for a minute imagine that I don’t love and adore my three grand-pups, Porter, Bella and Forrest….they just aren’t Tess, they don’t walk at my pace, they don’t see the world through my eyes. They are not my pets.

butchie

For the last three weeks, just Forrest has lived here, the other two have moved away, and I’ve been able to encourage the birds back into the garden. They fall for bribes of mince and mush every day, and now they are seeing a minimum amount of Dog-Danger about, they are timidly taking their chances and returning to the bird food table.

double decker

The kookaburras are the bravest birds, along with the maggies. Nothing scares them away for too long, not even the pooches! And Forest pup is very young, and trainable. She’s beginning to learn the meaning of the word “no”, which is said often, when I see that little cheeky glint in her eye and suspect she is about to chase a bird!

(Now if I could just train her to stay out of my garden beds!!! Who knows how many “well-matured” dog bones I will find during my future gardening adventures!)

full moon

For my birthday this year, husband gave me a fancy new camera, and when I have saved many, many dollars and cents, I will be in the market for a zoom lens. The lens the new camera came with is marvelous, and the close up photos I have been taking are as clear as a bell, which is very exciting! But when it comes to taking photos of the moon, nothing beats the zoom on my little Canon PowerShot.

gerberas 2

Last weekend I took a visit to our local garden centre to find some colourful flowers for the garden, and arrived back home with a car load. I planted a few, whilst weeding and mulching the new, long garden down beside the driveway, but ran out of daylight. Autumn and winter are wonderful seasons for gardening here, except for the shorter daylight hours!

I’m concentrating my gardening efforts on the front yard right now, as the back yard is a construction zone. An area of the paving at the back of the house had sunk, so a new retaining wall is in progress, the paving (and there’s a lot of it!) will be lifted and replaced and we may even be adding a covering for the patio area, all being well. (It depends on that little matter of the dollars and cents again!!)

happy faces

My son and his lovely financé will be married this September, right here in our garden! So everything around the house and garden must be just right by then….Adam has lived in this house his entire life, and his baby will have the same address on their birth certificate as their Daddy, when they are born in November.

Last Friday, I had brand new carpet laid in the room which is to be the baby’s nursery. It was Adam’s nursery once upon a time, and now he and Mary are preparing the room for their own tiny baby.

How long will the new family live here? I’m not sure right now. They need security, they are so very young, and with the love and support of both families they should have themselves sorted within the next year or two.

honeyeaters (2)

With so much movement within the house recently, every room ended up in a state of chaos! With my daughter and her two dogs leaving, I took the opportunity to have most of the carpet in the house cleaned, so rooms were emptied. Then rooms had to be rearranged and reorganised. And some rooms ended up with the remains of “items no longer required”, which I have mostly sorted through this past weekend. The sorting, tidying and cleaning has seemed to be a never-ending job!

misty day

My work room/office/sewing room is the last room to clean and tidy, although it isn’t in too bad a state. I spend a number of hours every day in this room, and I simply cannot function in a complete mess, so the room stays relatively tidy. Just a bit of a quick clean should see it as good as before.

We’ve had a lot of rain here during the last week, with the valley being invisible behind a huge cloud of mist some days. I love living on higher ground, where the clouds sometimes find you, and you can hide away from the rest of the world. The temperatures are cooler here than ten minutes drive down the hill too, so I can enjoy a tiny patch of winter….my favourite time of the year. 🙂

misty morning

I took the photo above at around 7 am one morning last week, when the low-lying mist sat on the floor of the valley, covering the sugar cane fields and looking as if the ocean had made its way slightly inland overnight. It’s a beautiful sight to see when this happens.

valley mist

I miss blogging. Actually I’m missing a lot of things that are usually an important part of my life. Husband and I try to have an afternoon cup of coffee together every day, just to chat, and to retain some normality in our lives, as some days it feels like everything is moving too fast and spiraling out of control. Even if we don’t agree on all family matters, it’s good to have an ally, a person around the same age, who views things in the light of people of our vintage. By that I mean as opposed to the younger generation who, as much as we love them and have taught them right from wrong, can at times be strongly influenced by significant people in their own lives, who were not raised with our values, yet they wish to try and enforce their ways onto our family.

moody blues

Recently, I’ve had to put my foot down, so to speak, on a number of issues, which goes against the grain for me! I rarely raise my voice, let alone yell, and a couple of family members have pushed my patience to the nth degree recently, seeing a side of me that is rarely shown to anyone. I don’t apologise for being slow to anger, I would hate to be a hot tempered person, and my family knows I’m serious when I do yell! And sometimes, unfortunately, yelling is called for, when a quiet voice is not being listened to.

Now that peace reigns supreme in the household again, I don’t ever want to be placed in an unpleasant situation like that again!

wet

My two cats have remained my constant, cuddly companions this year. My old Phoebe girl, who turned sixteen in February this year, has the most beautiful soft fur, she’s half Persian, half Tortoiseshell, which often blurs in a photo, but my new camera shows her cuddly coat in photos looking just as it does in “person”, so I’ve been taking more photos of her lately. My last photo shows Phoebe in one of her favourite positions, right in front of the window, where she sees the outside world, which she no longer ventures into, yet I’m sure she remembers.

Phoebe

 

Last Wednesday I posted a “Wordless Wednesday” photo, just to keep in touch. I can’t promise that I will return to regular blogging yet, what with all of the “happenings” in my world, but I will try to add a short photo post occasionally. “Silent Sunday” may be another option for me whilst the craziness continues.  My mind is a-buzz with the things that I want to do, yet many a day my body travels through the hours taking care of all the things I have to do!

Until next time, take good care of yourselves, be happy, and I hope events in your world are treating you kindly. xx

The-way-you-treat-yourself