Caterpillar Contemplations

"What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly." Lao Tzu

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Blog June Challenge

First Blog for June Challenge

I’ve never been one for peer pressure, being able to resist the friendship pull to do things that don’t interest me or involve me staying awake when I should be sleeping … but I’m a sucker for jumping on bandwagons. Got some crazy idea that we can do a two hour walk before sunrise – if you do it, I’ll do it*.  Want to bake a different cookie every day for the month of March – sure why not*!  Want me to cut out carrots and eggs from my diet for three weeks – I’ll give it a go*. So … when I arrived to pick up my son from my sisters house, her idea of attempting the #blogjune challenge piqued my interest, but it was her suggestion of giving each other topics each day that really sealed the deal.

Her ‘topic’ for me today is:

The pros and cons, hopes and nightmares, dark and light of our #blogjune idea.

A well thought out prompt.  Much better than my gift to her:

Babies born with the help of science are NOT miracles.

Not that I articulated it that well to her. I think I rambled something about the overuse of the word ‘miracle’ and how it annoyed me because they weren’t miracles, it was the advances of science and medicine that made so many ‘miracles’ possible.  Anyway … it’s not my topic anymore.  Ha!


CON: There is a strong possibility that my darling sister will give me a curly topic or two during the month.  A topic that I will have little knowledge of or will need to research which will be a strain on my time.
PRO: I respond well to enforced ideas.
CON: I tell myself that I am time poor but really I’m just exceptionally good at distracting myself from working consistently and utilizing my time efficiently.
PRO: I WANT to write regularly but I don’t write regularly. I’m a pick myself up and brush myself off type of girl who knows that multiple attempts are needed to form new, life changing habits. Could this be the one?
CON: I’ll have to think of cool topics for my sister … and I often feel drained by coming up with new ideas all the time for my work.

I sincerely hope that this challenge will give me direction, creative release, stimulate my writing muscle and open up doorways of communication between myself, my friends and my sister. I hope that it will potentially lower my stress levels and introduce me to new ways to source information, network and brainstorm my ideas / lesson plans / recipes / relationships.  But I fear that, like many of my projects and habits – evident on this blog (Project 365 & my 365 days of gratitude) or in my life (Weight Watchers, exercise, writing, getting off the computer at 10pm, taking fish oil every day) – that I will fail!  I know I just gotta keep on trying, new habits weren’t built in a day – although it certainly feels that way sometimes with the bad habits.

There will hopefully be dark humor, dark chocolate, dark wintry nights with dark themes of dark horses and dark carriages trundling along a dark track in a dark, dark forest.  The light will appear at the end of June, when I make it through each blog day – or perhaps when I reflect on how amazing the experience has been and how, it really wasn’t so difficult after all!



* I’ve never actually agreed or attempted to do any of these things … but the cookie one sounds good … if I had the time I’d be tempted to give it a go. Fortunately March is SO far away and no one will a) remember or b) want to do it with me – so I’m safe!


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Project 365 – 26th August 2013

New beginnings

New beginnings

I think about this blog often … it’s a like an old friend I never make contact with but know is always there and I write to it in my head.  I’m waiting for the day that I can just think and my thoughts get converted into words on a page.

I have a friend at work (one of the several jobs) who has just completed two years of a ‘photo a day’ – called Project 365. It’s impressive dedication.  Something I attempted with my Days of Gratitude.  I struggled to fulfil my own goal – I frequently do – but I believe that it’s important to brush myself off and try again, in all areas of my life.

And today, after seeing Mika’s post on Facebook, I decided to try again.  There have been times when i’ve thought about scrapping this blog and starting a fresh but I think it’s interesting to see the waves of interest and passion rise and fall.  It’s not so contrived.

After all … I never started it with something in particular to say … it was never about creating something that fed into a particular market or audience … right now – I don’t know what it is – it’s enough that it is here and that I’m writing and that I hope to keep writing and taking photos. In fact. I’m hoping to eventually write every day.

On reflection, what held me up with my days of gratitude was a) my perfectionist tendencies wanting to take ‘perfect’ photos and for me or others to look ‘perfect’ in those photos and b) making the time.

Lots of new beginnings

Lots of new beginnings

So.  My Project 365 starts today. I’m going to do it here – not on Facebook … because although I’m hoping my new approach will be less self-analytical and more of a picture journal of day to day stuff that will include photos that are … meh – if I was sharing a daily photo on Facebook with the ‘definite’ audience rather than the occasional audience I get here, the knowledge of that audience would really restrict how I do this project.  And I would feel the need to be witty – and we know how I feel about that.

I also started running again with the assistance of the awesome app – Ease into 5K. This will be the 5th maybe 6th, possibly 7th time I’ve started. At least three times I’ve managed to get to 5 kilometre runs and be very chuffed with myself – then stop completely. I need to raise the bar. 10km?

And my eating plan … to eat better-er.

Supposedly all these habits become ingrained after 2 weeks – I’ve found good habits notoriously difficult to continue. Any suggestions?

My workspace

My workspace

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The Bane of Casual Jobs


I’m sure everyone is familiar with the usual  issues surrounding casual labour. No holiday pay, no sick leave, no long service leave and no Christmas bonuses.  Today, I discovered a new quirk that I’d only vaguely considered in the past–no ‘goodbye’ party and no ‘we’ll miss you’ cards.  A matter that was brought to my attention when I noticed an advertisement in the local paper–clearly intending to be a replacement for one of my colleagues who has either resigned or been sacked.  To make things worse (for me), I’d only just gotten to know this colleague and had finally graduated to ‘hugging’ terms–meaning we would hug to say hello. A big step up from ‘hey–how you going?

With the increase of casual labour due to businesses desire to contract workers and the return of women to the workforce whilst juggling child-raising–I think this issue needs to be addressed. We should have a national holiday dedicated to casual labourers. Something along the lines of “Sayonara Day”–celebrating casual workers across the nation that have either graduated to full or part time work, or have quietly been given less and less shifts–so, in households across Australia we can have a moment where we silently acknowledge our long lost casual colleagues that we never truly got to know but are probably a damn sight more interesting than most.

But then, being interesting, has it’s downside too.  Asking me what I do for a living is a complicated conversation that can last for 30 minutes for the actively engaged or 30 seconds for those who are asking out of sheer politeness and were hoping the response would be a simple “I’m a bank teller”.  Unfortunately the dreaded “what do you do?” question leaves me in a pickle.  With six casual jobs and a tentative small business, finding a name to rule them all is not easy.  A conversation with me should be like a choose your own adventure.  Which job would you like to know about?

Would you believe that between all those jobs I still don’t have enough work?  In some cases the word casual extends to once every two months.  Hence the possibility that I’ll be adding job number 7 to my list and hopefully adding more to job number 4.  That’s if all goes to plan.  Please, cross your fingers for me.

Happy Sayonara Day everyone.

Bring In Spring

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At the start of the year I made some bold sweeping brush strokes of possibility when it came to my New Years Resolutions.  It seems that there is one resolution in particular that has failed miserably – my glorious statement of “one blog a week”.

Since it is spring – the time of dusting off, shaking out and  breaking through the crusty layer of dirt – I thought perhaps I could make amends.  Perhaps there is time to redeem myself before the year is out.

Here is what I propose!  I shall write a blog A DAY for the next 35 days to make up for the 35 weeks that I have missed plus an extra 5 to make up for the 5 weeks I’ll miss catching up on the first 35.

Sound like a challenge? Sure is. But since doing the Max Challenge earlier this year I’ve been in need of a new goal.

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Sayonara 2011, Bonjour 2012!

The road to hell is paved with good intentions!

Hell sounds like a pretty wicked place to be so I’m going to intend away in a most goodly fashion.
But perhaps I should wrap up 2011 and tie it off with the incredible ribbon of what was …
A year of so many firsts you could be misled to believe I was back in Prep or hijacking the podium at a sport’s carnival. In fact, there are some similarities, I suffered a few restless nights before first days and held the trophy of accomplishment above my head.
The year got off to a cracking start with a short course in micro business which led me to start Echo Editing (although officially it hasn’t been launched yet as I’m still getting a website and fliers and … ). This also resulted in my first client – which was very exciting; subsequently led to my first client falling off the face of the earth – which was a little disheartening. But since I haven’t really truly launched the business yet then … well … maybe that first client can be classified as a trial run – just so my spirits aren’t diminished.
At much the same time I started teaching drama at Performing Arts Headquarters in Bacchus Marsh to kids ranging from eight to twenty. This was a breathtakingly scary thing to do and I recall spending most of term one staring into the mirror, asking myself what the f*&k I was doing. Teenagers – wow! It got better, by the end of the year it was my most enjoyable part of the week. We brainstormed and improvised a show from snippets of inspiration which led to my first co-written (with some notable students) full-length play!
Whilst I was dragged kicking and spitting (not really – but it sounds far more dramatic to say it that way) to my journalism classes – I was quite chuffed with the firsts I produced. One of which was a letter to the editor which was printed in the … wait for it … actually – don’t hold your breath – it was in The Courier.
Two of my short stories got accepted into last year’s anthology which results in my first published stories and can be purchased here!
**Don’t let the name of the author think that I’ve linked you the wrong page – that is the designers name and it’s her publishing account.
Gabriel and I had our first existential conversation when he asked the, if a tree falls in the forest question, about God – “If God created us, who created God?” – I’m telling you, it was deep.
I taught TAFE students about the wonders of writing for performance and embracing performance – which was a whole bundle of firsts rolled into one massive OMG but ended with some positive, encouraging and supportive feedback for me to teach round two (if it goes ahead).
Div, Gabriel and I went on our first camping trip with Diana and her family which was beautiful and I saw my first fish on the end of a fishing line, fresh from the lake (too small to eat though).
On joining Weight Watchers in September, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it worked (for me – perhaps more on that journey another day) and in early December was ecstatic (not an exaggeration) to see that I had dropped below the 70kg mark for the first time in four years. I am now in my healthy weight range. Go me.
I crossed off another car related goal – there isn’t a list of car related goals written somewhere, it’s just this ethereal idea I have in my head – of driving a column shift car. I don’t know what the next car related goal is or when I will accomplish it, but it’s out there – waiting for me.
Whilst the next first isn’t one I hope to repeat, it has given me a greater empathy for those who suffer from back related injuries. I was crippled (that is a slight exaggeration), with back pain when a muscle in my lower back decided to seize up. It apparently took great offence to being used for the seemingly simple task of placing an incredibly light pot plant into the boot of my car which took the slightest amount of twisting to accomplish. I have since resolved said issue with said muscle and have agreed to only lift large, heavy and awkward objects in future.
I got to experience Christmas with Div’s family up north for the first time before driving the torturous route to Main Arm (inland from Byron Bay) to visit my friend on her gorgeous plot of land – where I encountered my first roadside koala and bush turkey – fortunately both remained on the side of the road where it was safe.
Many of you would already know that my father died last year. I experienced, for the first time, looking into my father’s eyes and knowing he wasn’t there, scattering his ashes and supporting my son’s first ‘viewing’ of a dead body.
Whilst this isn’t a pleasant first to finish on – it didn’t feel right to place it amongst the others.
So whilst 2011 was challenging, it was also filled with inspirational people and experiences.
Four of my friends took up running, two of which completed fun runs – I now feel the peer pressure (of a good sort) to possibly, maybe start running myself. I’ll let you know if I’ve been swayed.
One of my Performance Workshop students beautifully rewrote a short story as a short film which led me to look at my own work and go – what if?
My drama students constantly surprised me with their wit, creativity and talent and have inspired me to seek out avenues to reconnect to my passion for performance.
One of my four running friends was also responsible for the subtle push towards Weight Watchers and well … you’ve already heard about those results. 80kg+ to 69.1kg = loving it!
My kick-ass boyfriend knuckled down to produce excellent results at uni and in the gym – reaffirming my belief that hard work and dedication pays off!
And as I’ve said before – my little guy is a constant source of inspiration. His persistence in learning to read fluently and to ride his bike (don’t give up!). The kindness he shows to kids at school (do unto others). His commitment to learning his lines for his school play (know your stuff!).
Now what?
Those good intentions …
*Write a blog every week
*Submit at least one story (or other piece of writing) to a competition
*Save some money for **** insert something rather expensive here
*Get editing work
*Write a play
*Be more understanding, compassionate and patient
*Improve my teaching skills
*Find acting classes or some other avenue to express my wanton need to perform before I shrivel up into a prune that is left in a sticky bag at the back of the cupboard that no one cleans out.
** Please note – I don’t know how to attribute photos yet … I found the image above here submitted to Flickr by uBookworm

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A cup of tea?

Argh! I’m suffering a Facebook moment. I want to start blogging but I’m ridiculously compelled to find humor in the mundane. I want to pontificate and speculate and ruminate, but my inner voice is sitting there with a big blue pen pre-emptively correcting my words before they make the screen.

I … um … just made a peppermint tea. It’s pretty hot right now. (<— Facebook moment)
I need a mental firearm. A little handgun in my brain that can be pointed (sideways for added affect) at the little inner voice and tell it to STFU (shut the fuck up – for those of you who aren’t internet abbreviation savvy) and no, I don’t apologise for the language. Desperate times call for desperate measures and my inner voice is waaaaaaaaaaay out of line.
It’s probably ‘first time blogging for 2011’ nerves. I have big expectations for this year. I think the year has big expectations for me too. In fact, expectations appear to be flying left, right and centre.
To explain, I’ll start at the end.
Today, I had a meeting to discuss a new teaching job. I’ve been asked to teach drama to students who have returned to study. These are teenagers and adults that have left high school for various reasons and have decided to return and complete their VCE. Some, are looking after their parents. Some have been drug and alcohol dependent and some … have left an unstable nest and are facing the realities of survival.
The expectation is that through my classes they will emerge from their protective cocoons. Getting people to wriggle out of their shells is something I believe I do well – one on one. But on a group scale? Needless to say, after today’s talk, I’m slightly terrified. I take heart in the fact that I believe drama is an effective tool for achieving those goals. Believing in and helping people of all ages to aspire to become better people is a worthy pursuit. Hopefully, my commitment and belief to the overall project will guide me on how the hell to do it!
This gig has arisen from my new job at Performing Arts Headquarters in Bacchus Marsh where I now teach after school drama to kids. I’m terrible at first days but after a hesitant beginning, I am definitely warming to the work. I quake at excess freedom to do whatever I please. I need a nutshell – I thrive on railing against structure and confines. However … I’m beginning to learn, perhaps for the first time in my life, how to create boundaries for myself. I’m learning how to piece-size. And, in contrast to my new panic (mentioned above), I’m beginning to set realistic goals to meet my own high expectations. Mid year performances are going to be fun. And, if anyone is interested there will be an informal teachers performance night in May, where I get to strut my stuff. I’m attempting a German accent!
The fun and games don’t end there.
I’m currently enrolled in three subjects (four next semester) at SMB TAFE to complete my Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing – sliding in to graduate before a course revamp. This year I’m stepping into unfamiliar ground with non-fiction writing. I’m doing Journalism, Non-fiction Project and Writing Histories. More on that later … particularly for my non-fiction project (intrigued? I bet you are).
Next – I got accepted into the NEIS program, which starts next Monday. This will get me a Certificate III in Micro Business Operations, which is a fancy way of saying I should know how to run my small business. The business idea will unfold for you all over time (once it unfolds for me) but suffice to say it’ll be a freelance editing / writing venture. I’m going to see where it takes me, but given my multifaceted approach to life and work, I foresee it producing (at least in the beginning) only a third of my income. Eventually I’d like the majority of income through the business to be focussed on editing and offering advice on fiction manuscripts.
Floating around in the back of my head is to do my TESL (teaching English as a second language) certificate in order to teach English in China and around the world. And potentially at some stage, do my honors or masters relating either to writing or to performing arts – who knows?!.
Midway through last year I completed my Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment and over the summer (if one can call it a summer) holidays I sent my CV off willy-nilly to TAFE’s and training centres. I’d like to teach theatre, writing and editing and business administration. This should make up another third of my income (when I get some work that is).
I’m still working for the Royal Women’s Hospital as part of their education program (and loving it). I still work for the University of Melbourne as a CTA, tutoring medical students as part of their women’s health clinic – teaching patient centered care. I get the occasional gig as asimulated patient with Melbourne Uni as well. Sometimes I float in to see my boss at Gene Ethics, but Div has taken that job over from me so I’m just a ring-in. Given that I enjoy all these jobs for their own unique reasons, I’d like to continue doing them and combined they’d make up my last third. Making Alex a well-rounded income earning girl.
For those that didn’t know, we welcomed a new member to our family midway through last year – a kelpie cross border collier called Echo – quite honestly the sweetest dog in existence. No. Seriously! She tops the sweetness scales.

The cats are still going strong!

Nightmare (this is also my screen backdrop)
My son is doing well at school this year. He appears to be happy and confident. I love listening to him read either whilst I’m cooking dinner or just before bed at night.
He started soccer this morning. It was hilarious watching 6 – 8 year olds tearing around an indoor soccer field and clumping into corners, their little feet pummeling to get the ball out and in play again. He loved it! I loved it. I could handle being a soccer mum. I may not do the whole ‘school mum’ thing very well, but soccer – I can do that. Maybe, when he’s older, I may even graduate to the mum who brings oranges – ahhh memories.
Div, who has been slogging it out in Canberra working at the AIS teaching kids to swim, will be returning to the love-nest tomorrow (one more sleep!!). Huzzah! He’s going to study Biomedical Science part time this semester and it was confirmed earlier this week that he has a job with the YMCA. Much better work than the pathetic, demeaning, pay-crippled hospitality industry provides – there’s a rant for another day.
The garden is going nuts. A horrible year for tomatoes but an abundant crop of everything else. We have at least 7 pumpkins (that we can see), more zucchini than we know what to do with and carrots multiplying like rabbits. We’ve got silverbeet, ruby chard, beetroot, cos lettuce, green beans, butter beans, celery, basil, green squash and sweetcorn – OMG – the sweetcorn! Eggplants are just beginning to emerge but the chilli and pepper plants aren’t fruiting. I had my first ever crop of radishes this year – which tasted fantastic grated on salads. I worked out – after I gave up – what the mustard plants produced. I originally thought it was mustard seeds but impatiently expected them to emerge sooner. I didn’t realise the seeds don’t ripen until the plant is almost dead (much like a pumpkin). Our nectarine tree took a beating from the inclement weather, my berries are non-existent and my lemons still look like limes.
All in all. I’m chuffed. Stoked in fact! The raised garden beds are worth their weight in gold and the produce looks, smells and tastes divine. All they needed were a few more lady beetles.