Bloganuary #6 Who inspires me?

“Inspiration is a feeling of enthusiasm you get from someone or something, which gives you new and creative ideas.”

I have been lucky to have been inspired by many people over the years. 
Some are my favourite authors whilst others are artists or photographers. Some of these influencers have enthused me into trying out my own creative ideas.

Steven Covey and his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” had an influence on my thinking about leadership in education. One year, I wrote 365 daily reflections based on the 7 habits.  This led me onto the path of self reflection and writing. His 2014 sequel, “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness” included the 8th habit which essentially urges: “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs”.

I have a close friend I met through my early childhood education career.  She is passionate, empathic, courageous and has the strength to reinvent herself whilst enthusing and valuing others.

 Whether it is walking the  El Camino, volunteering in Peru, getting spiritual in Machu  Pichu; or pursuing her professional goals. She started another chapter in her life by creating a consultancy business so she can upskill and train others. Always energetic, fun-loving and generous, she is an inspiration to me and to everyone she communicates with. If only I had half her eloquence and inner strength. She has inspired me to maintain my habit of lifelong learning, especially in my leadership role. 

She essentially ‘found her own voice and inspired others to find theirs’.  I took that inspiration and still do even into this life of retirement.

365 days has been an important theme which has inspired me in other spheres throughout the years too. Several years ago I joined the 365 project online and met such an inspiring community there. 365ers are  a positive and talented, creative community of photographers- their daily photos inspire me to try new camera techniques and challenges. That is a fun and challenging way to keep my brain active too.

And now I have this blog community to inspire me with challenges to follow my creative aspirations. Thank you for the inspiration.

Bloganuary Catch-up – first week!

#2 Road trips – Wherever the road leads is where we will go.

Any road trip that does not depend on negotiating our own rural road (currently closed to the public)  is totally welcome these days.

The very best road trip I would love to take is around my own country which is probably well overdue.  I have been on a lot of road trips in other countries and some of these I would love to repeat. However there are many roads in my own country I have yet to explore. 

The North Island of New Zealand has so many choices! Should we travel the most direct route to Auckland, through the central North Island on State Highway One, enjoying the mountain views of Tongariro, Ruapehu, and Ngauruhoe, past Lake Taupo  and into the geyser land of Rotorua, or should we meander slowly along the West coast past Mt Taranaki, then head on the Forgotten Highway into the inland countryside.

The Coromandel on the East Coast is another long and winding road I have yet to travel so plenty of options.  Once past Auckland city there is Northland to explore.

From Cape Reinga in the top of the North Island to Bluff at the bottom of the South Island, not only would I love to take this road trip, it is very definitely on the plan.  

For now, we will complete a full circuit of the South Island this summer. From the top of the south we will go on our road trip to the East and West coasts, traversing the inland routes to the mountains and lakes, from the coastline to the Canterbury Plains, and hopefully reach the bottom of the South Island before returning as the summer days cool into Autumn evenings. We will go wherever the weather is kind and the road leads us. 

#3 Write about the last (first) time you left your comfort zone.

When the heart starts beating rapidly it is time. Don’t think about what others might think, just speak. Believe that the words will come. Sage advice given to this nervous first time public speaker many years ago. 

Standing up and speaking my mind was a scary thing to do. It’s not that I didn’t have words to say. It’s just that I felt too strongly about what my words meant to me. Where else would or could the words come from if not from my heart. And yet they resisted.

Where are the pages of my notes? What if my voice croaks? What if they laugh at me?My fears threatened to overcome me. Who else has felt that fear? 

Hidden deep within the hidden  tunnels and crevices of my beating heart, I felt them start to stir. With each surge they got stronger. The words were on their way. 
It’s true that we speak when our heart is in our mouth. I hummed to myself…,

“Drums keep pounding rhythm to my brain.  And the beat goes on! “

Then I thought; What  is the worst that can happen?  I set aside those notes. Just breathe. Just do it. And I did.   My heartfelt words found their way. And it was good. 

4 What is something you wish you knew how to do?

If only I could keep on task and actually respond to these daily prompts and write every day!  

#5 What was your favorite toy as a child?

Is it sad that I can’t remember what my favourite toy was?

 Reading books is how I spent much of my childhood time. I did have the obligatory doll or two however  I have fonder memories of the great outdoors building huts and swimming at the beach than playing with an actual toy.

My first camera at the tender age of 10 became my favourite ‘toy’ instead.  Not much has changed for me, except my age, the camera (and book)technology of course.  These days it is a digital camera or iPhone instead of that Brownie Starlet – and the Kindle for the reading might just be my favourite toy!

The starlet that started it all

Bloganuary Day 1: What advice would you give your teenage self?

I’m taking the leap – and attempting this Bloganuary challenge!  Hmmm… I will see where this takes me. Already 3 days behind though!


I thought back to those dim and distant years. Hindsight is such an interesting position from which to share advice. And to be fair, it was a VERY long  time ago.


I was such a ‘good’ teenager….. by that I mean I was way too compliant and indecisive and confused and shy  and…..boring!

But…. knowing what I know now, I would advise that conflicted teenage self to:

  • Find and follow your passions. Who knows where they may lead you. Your passions may change as you navigate your teen years  -and that is ok.
  • Remember to be true to yourself. Self belief is so important. Find your truth and trust yourself.
  • Choose your friends wisely and nurture those friendships. 
  • Make your own decisions rather than follow the crowd.
  • Remember – You are striving for independence. That is your teenage task. Make it worthwhile. 

Life is for living –  Every. Single. Day. 

WQWWC #50 An almost Forgotten post

I love light, I love to write and I love life – I create my words and images to capture the light in my life.
Capturing the light leads me on many different journeys – wandering with my camera is one of my favourite things to do. 

“If I didn’t have my camera to remind me constantly, I am here to do this, I would eventually have slipped away, I think. I would have forgotten my reason to exist.”

Annie Leibovitz

Once upon a time, my habit was that I always took my camera everywhere I went. Over this winter, I had forgotten that habit.  Part of the problem was that due to being locked in with road closures and locked down through Covid, I wasn’t actually going anywhere. Yes, I could still walk on the beach unless it was raining and blowing a gale – which it did regularly throughout the winter months.


Thankfully, as the weather is warming up- and (even though the roads are only slowly being fixed), I am getting out a bit more – and I am becoming reacquainted with my camera after misplacing my ‘phojo’ for a couple of months. I had forgotten the joy I feel when wandering with my camera.

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

Aaron Siskind

I write to capture my thoughts…

“People have forgotten how to tell a story.”

Steven Spielberg

I thought I had forgotten so much of my childhood but then I started to write my story, and those memories came flooding  back. They were much closer to the surface than I had thought. I had not forgotten my life experiences and yet I struggled to write them as interesting stories. So I researched how to write memoir. I used some writing prompts. I revisited Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey (adapted for Covid heroic journeys), and also found an updated version or two of the Heroine’s journey.  My memoir writing journey has just  begun. I hope to record those memories I thought I had forgotten. Watch this space.

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

Rudyard Kipling

A little story about coffee. Alarmingly, we run out of coffee so had to do the 120 kilometre round trip to town on a Monday – not our usual habit. Finally, we arrived home after a fraught day of road blocks, delays and overheating in our masks. I unpacked the groceries (yes, we bought so much more than we had planned) and noticed… HE had bought beans not espresso grind! That HERO had to return the very next day as HE was not popular – he will not forget again!

Life is about creating memories – and art!

“So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.”

Gaston Bachelard

I’m playing with art again. Practicing my creativity through daily pencil sketches and creating art journals.  I put on some music, and immerse myself in paints, pastels and crayons.  Out comes the water paint, the felt tips and the stencils. I have rediscovered the pure joy of messy fingers, and scribbling with charcoals and ink. I’m having fun!  I have not forgotten how to do that.

And just like that, all my hobbies are back on my playlist – and are remembered.

WQWWC #45 Fortitude/Resilience

“Life is a journey that takes us on many paths – and tests us and shapes us in ways that allow us to aspire to even more challenging directions”

This was the message on a farewell card when I was leaving a much loved job to further my career.  The card was decorated with forget-me-nots – I never have forgotten the fortitude I needed to take that leap and change direction. I left the well trod path and ventured onto the rocky track.

I wrote these poems in the aftermath of painful family feuds.

In every given moment we have two options, to step forward into growth, or to step back into safety – Abraham Maslow

Often hidden amidst words of anger or hate
Underlying fear creates a sense of panic. 
Flight not fight becomes the norm. 
Habits thus formed are hard to break 

Stop for a moment and think
How does your anger help you?
Do you just live to hate
Or do you hate to live?

What if you choose to love 
Would that calm your fear?
Replace those feeling of anger
With actions of hope?

You may be surprised at how good you feel 
when the fear recedes. 
And the peace returns. 

My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself an accomplishment.  Steve Goodi

One day I was counting up the surgical scars I had  due to caesarian section, melanoma, knee replacement and rotator cuff repair when I realised just how resilient I had become through these experiences. I wrote these words. 

Some of us carry our scars externally.
These are a physical sign of our survival.

Scars are often hidden within us,
Internal injuries sustained through harmful words.

Scars are gathered over the passage of our lives,
They are both the symbol of - and the price for -  this life.

AND……


When I peeled back the layers, I found a beautiful resilience inside – this is how I know I’ll always thrive – Lori Schaefer

WQWWC #42: Communication and Connection

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” – Steven Covey

I am a huge fan of Steven Covey’s 7 habits. Habit 5 encourages us to “use empathetic listening to genuinely understand a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to be influenced. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem-solving.”


To clarify my own understanding I wrote this slightly random A-Z poem on communication.

Again I start writing 
Because I can better
Communicate my 
Desires by using words that 
Energise me to 
Feel differently about these
Grand ideas although
How they find form
Inside my mind by
Jumbling around
Kinetically seems
Like
Mindful 
Nonsense that 
Originates without
Purpose yet  
Quickly
Random thoughts
Scramble
To be heard and
Understood and at least the 
Veracity of my
Xenial
Writing is
Zealous.

It reminds me of these words too:

"Write to be understood,
Speak to be heard,
Read to grow"

I definitely needed to read to grow my understanding of the meaning and usability of several of the words that tumbled out of my subconscious thought. Stream of consciousness is certainly one of the ways I communicate my random thoughts. All I need is an empathetic listener or reader. I hope you can understand it. When I read back what I had written, it made me smile anyway. 

“Great communication begins with connection” – Oprah Winfrey

Thank goodness for the internet, FaceTime, Whats App, and Zoom. If you can’t meet face-to-face, then an internet connection is the next best thing. I heard a radio talkback session considering the benefits of using video or not when zooming. How can not being visible assist effective communication? 


I attended a community zoom meeting recently with 160 participants, many of whom had turned their video off so there was a better internet connection for all. Unfortunately not everyone had muted their microphones so we could hear all their groans, snuffles and coughs. It was a good reminder about the need for social distancing, and yet… also about the value of face-to-face communications.   Eventually, the facilitator managed the mute buttons and the presentation continued. 


The meeting was to share and hear about the progress (or lack thereof) of the road repairs.  Our road has been closed since an extreme weather event  in mid-July which resulted in massive road slumps, slips and property damage. We heard the road closure will be in place for at least the next few months, if not a year for some residents, and that to use the road, residents have to apply for a pass to be used before 9am or after 3pm only. However this is only available for those of us within the first 10 kilometres of the 72 kilometre road. The others have to rely on boat access through barges and water taxis to get their groceries, fuel and mail. This highlighted again the importance of finding other ways of staying connected.

The chat message window was instantly filled with questions – some of which were answered during the presentation or in the Q&A session at the end. People had an overwhelming need to communicate their questions and anxiety. Needless to say there were lots of questions, although not many answers – yet!  I guess we will just have to keep talking or communicating in any way we can.

“lt’s not distance that keeps people apart, but lack of communication”

In these times of social distancing, it is even more important that we communicate well.  Yet talking and hearing messages through masks brings its own challenges. And just how can we read non-verbal communication?  Are our eyes able to convey our emotions?  How else can we communicate?

Communication is not a one way street– Jim George

Except, just for now, for us it is – and that one-way street is closed.

The Changing Seasons – August (and a bit of July thrown in)

It started in mid-July with an extreme weather storm event on the West Coast and Marlborough regions. Roads were so badly damaged with many slips, slumps, under and onto the two main roads into the Marlborough Sounds, they were impassable for most of the residents and those of us that could drive out had to negotiate muddy unstable roads.

August arrived and whilst the roads were still closed, some of our quiz team could make it to our local tavern. We were very organised for the 70s dress up theme – and the questions. We won by a big majority – probably something to do with the average age of our team. We had lots of general and specific knowledge of the 1970s. After all, it was a great decade dedicated to music, movies and fashion, and we had all lived through it. One of us had even been to the ABBA museum and sung Dancing Queen as the 5th member of the group.

We socialised at dinner parties and popped into the tavern again to watch the rugby.  I prepared and printed our community newsletter at the local school. Chopping up several fallen trees and mulching the smaller branches occupied my significant other for most of the month – when it wasn’t raining and blowing some more. 


Due to the road closures, I had already been having a couple of SeniorNet committee meetings via Zoom so when I got the invite to join a zoom workshop on how to make stop motion animations, I thought – why not?  That was fun. 

After an eye check in Blenheim on Tuesday, we stocked up on groceries, had a meal in Picton then carefully negotiated the wrecked roads towards home, and settled in to watch the tv news……. And then came the Delta variant of Covid-19. 


Suddenly, overnight New Zealand went into Level 4 lockdown. Not only were we locked in by closed roads, we were now locked down as well. We had to cancel dental and car service appointments as we hunkered down to stop the spread. At least we had sufficient food, beer and wine for a couple of weeks – oh – and toilet paper! 


Whenever was I going to be able to get my new spectacle lens fitted? Last year’s lockdown resulted in the dental appointment being cancelled too. Bad timing I guess.

Still, we are luckier that most. We still have the beach to walk on, and that dreaded exercycle was put back into regular use. After half an hour panting and pushing those pedals, I reward myself with a dabble in my art journal, and listen to some of that 1970s music.

Painting, sketching, writing and photography are back on my lockdown project list. And reading – lots and lots of reading – and maybe some more writing.  

I am grateful for not being too affected by the current lockdown but I certainly feel for all the essential workers, the home-schooling parents and those who are being impacted financially and emotionally. 


As September arrives, our road is still closed to the public and residents drive in and out at their own risk. Another zoom meeting, this time with the road recovery team, informed us that the road repairs are likely to be ongoing for several months. We have had to make a decision about cancelling this season’s homestay bookings. Our guests cannot use the road whilst it is closed to the public. I guess this means we may have time to enjoy summer ourselves this season. There is always a silver lining.

And the silver lining is – that 70s music!  – I am so very excited this week to hear the best news – ABBA are back and the words of their new song ‘Don’t shut me down’ speak to me ….

"I'm like a dream, within a dream, that's been decoded, 
I'm fired up, I'm hot, don't shut me down”

Needless to say, this song is on repeat on my playlist.  If you haven’t heard or seen it yet check it out but be warned – its already addictive for me. Enjoy!

So despite all the doom and gloom of July and August, September is springtime in the southern hemisphere – a time of renewal -and there is always HOPE and ABBA to look forward to.

https://bushboy.blog/2021/09/01/this-is-august-2021/

WQWWC -38, Education, Schools or Learning for life

Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself”  – John Dewey

So where do schools fit in with this concept? Do we need schools so we can be educated?

 
During last year’s lockdown, learning was delivered online, and parents became their teachers. Our most recent and very sudden lockdown happened so fast, that schools have not yet had the time to deliver the laptops to the students. Overnight  the population were in Level 4 – locked down with no access to schools – but there is still education and learning.


Looking at my grandchildren’s experiences last year, it appeared that the learning was vastly different yet somehow more holistic. They learned science through numerous baking experiments, social skills through having to share the dining table to do their schoolwork, and they learnt to work together peacefully ( well most of the time).

‘Knowledge is a process, not a product”  – Ruth Nanda Anshen

Its all about the process – As an early childhood educator, I adhered to this notion of the importance of the process (free unstructured play) over the product. As educational institutions became more prioritised on standardized tests to assess educational outcomes at the expense of dispositional learning, it sucked the joy out of teaching for the love of learning. 


Leaving the pressures of formalised education behind on retirement, it still took me several years to regain my love of lifelong learning based on my passions, interests and strengths. 


So one day I started playing again. Exploring my repressed energies and setting free my creativity through art. I began putting my fingers into the paint as it were… Am I in my second childhood already?  Yes and No. Whatever it may be, I am enjoying my creative processes again. 

“ To be able to be caught up into the world of thought- that is to be educated”  Edith Hamilton

To think or not to think –  therein lies the learning…  I’m still thinking, and I’m still learning. And it is still fun. The best part is that I am sharing this sense of fun. achievement and the learning of new skills with my granddaughter via FaceTime or text messages now we are in lockdown again.

“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way” – Doris Lessing

https://alwayswrite.blog/2021/08/11/wqwwc-38

Pictures of the past – precious memories

I have a picture in my mind’s eye.


Once I was a little  girl with blonde curls and blue eyes, clutching a cuddly soft toy under my arm.

Those eyes blinked once, and then suddenly I am ten. Already I have found some interests to pursue. 

I had my first riding lessons on a black racehorse named Chunkette. She left a lasting impression on me (and not just on my tender bottom) Gentle to ride yet she had a quietly determined character. She liked to lead the way when trotting along the jungle path.

I took many photos with my brand new camera and instantly I was hooked into an abiding passion – photography. Such magic to be able to capture pictures of the present which would become fond memories of the past. What an exciting and absorbing activity this has become. Little did I realise at that moment how my childhood interests would become my lifelong passion.


I blinked again and it was the next decade  I kept up my horse-riding. I took  pictures to record my interests and life experiences but alas they  went missing over the years.


I learned to develop and print my own film photographs in the school darkroom. Precious pictures of those schoolgirl years long since past but still they remain in my albums.


A decade after my first riding lessons, I bought my own horse. Yes it was another beautiful black racehorse. It seems I had a certain affinity with racehorses. I took pictures of course.

My first job when I left school was hand-painting aerial photographs using photo oil paints. My second photographic job saw me making large mosaic aerial photomaps of rural properties. No horses but plenty of farm animals in the photo maps. Lots of time spent in the darkroom, developing and printing very large aerial photographs, using copy cameras and retouching negatives.

Once again I was making pictures to identify the present land use and to record these for posterity.


In my third decade my passion for photography was set aside for a short time as motherhood and parenting took priority.  However there were still plenty of photographic opportunities in that part of my life journey. I  took many pictures of my children and I put them in my family albums.

I look at these pictures  of the past quite often these days. 


Fourth decade: As I travelled the country with my work in early childhood education, I became aware of the emerging importance of photo documentation of children’s learning journeys.  I took many pictures of early childhood environments, examples of best teaching practice, and of the many work colleagues who became close friends. I was able once again to focus on my lifelong passion for photography. 


I had also discovered digital and video cameras. Now there were limitless images to capture and record. And so much more to learn. The internet arrived.  I started a 365 project – a photo a day for 365 days.  I’m now into the 8th year of my 365 project. What can I say… it is an addiction. And I’m still learning.

Over the last three decades I have been capturing my travel memories in photographs. So many pictures to record our amazing trips around the world.  Travelling internationally may now be a distant memory. 

These memories are already my pictures of the past.

Fortunately, I now have 7 grandchildren. My latest and greatest joy is when I capture pictures of their blonde curls and blue eyes. The pictures of the past have become the pictures of the present generation.


I must have blinked my eyes at least once for every decade as my life changed direction, yet I still remain focussed on my abiding passion.

And the pictures of my past? they are still there to remind me of my lifetime memories. 

#Sunday Stills – Geometric shapes – a look at angles and perspectives

It’s all about perspective when it comes to geometric shapes.

Geometry –  It is concerned with properties of space that are related with distance, shape, size, and relative position of figures.


It was not my favourite school subject. I couldn’t tell a tetrahedron from a square pyramid, or a hexagonal pyramid from a hexagonal prism – even though I could spell these mysterious words – the usefulness of these shapes made no sense to me.

Then I discovered the angles, shapes and perspectives to be captured through photography.  At last the geometric shapes made sense and I could relate.

I went looking for geometry and symmetry wherever I pointed my camera.


From spheres to squares…

From proportions to perspectives in buildings and bridge construction… 

In ceilings and walls and up steps or stairs……

I even found a square pyramid or is it tetrahedron?

Geometry in photography has forced me to shape and clarify my own perspectives. 

#SundayStills