What I learned in 2015

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The majestic Uluru, in central Australia, which I saw in person for the first time this year. Squee! I’ll post more on that later.

It’s February, which means that the year has started – the working/writing year, that is.

I know that for many people, the year starts on the first of January, but in Australia, January is the long summer holidays.  My girl is growing up too fast, so I like to spend as much time hanging out with her as possible .  Also, January is my month for cleaning house (literally), taking stock (of house and self) and making plans for the rest of the year.

This year the taking stock has been both wonderful and painful (and has led to a long post – fair warning!).

Wonderful because, for the first time in two years, I feel normal.  Optimistic, energetic and fired up for the year ahead, instead of sad, exhausted, fearful and overwhelmed.

Painful because I now realise that I could have been feeling like this much sooner if I had just asked for help sooner.

Painful because, in all that time, while I managed to do some things, I could only manage those things by neglecting others, including my friends and family.  I have some making up to do, but at least now, the thought of that is not so crushingly guilt-producing as it was just a few months ago.

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Thinking of applying for Britain’s Hardest Grafter? Read this first.

Stark and scary and brutal and true. ‘Poverty Porn’ seems to be a new thing and I hate it. I hope this wretched show and all like it are soon cast into the abyss where they belong.

EDIT: The original link included here to a post by Jack Monroe, doesn’t work any more, but the post is up elsewhere and you can read it here

Jack Monroe

TwentyTwenty productions are looking for applicants for a new television show that has been described as ‘Benefits Street meets The Hunger Games’. Are you thinking of applying for the chance to win that staggering £15,000 sum? Here’s what you should know first – and I am probably doing myself out of ever getting another job in television by writing this article but you know what? Fuck it. Because I wish someone had told me.

1. Only one of you will win that £15,000. It’s also classed as ‘earnings’, so you will have to pay tax on it, and National Insurance contributions.

2. The rest of you will be ‘recompensed’ ‘not less than the National Minimum Wage’ for your time on the show. Bear in mind that the people you will be surrounded by, the presenters and camera crew and the ubiquitous ‘celeb’ they’ll roll out here and there, will be…

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How to save your own life.

This. This is why I cannot forgive Belle Gibson or any of her ilk, who make money off desperation with no care for the results. Real life and real science can only tell you the truth. Hard to compete with shiny, sexy lies…

fivefairiesandafella

December 11, 2013 was a golden day.  I remember it well, how sunny it was, the light that shone through the window and lit up my children’s hair as I looked at them in the rearview mirror.  I told them we would take them to the beach that night, and we talked about how much we were looking forward to santa, and our annual Christmas holidays.  It was a day so filled with promise.  It was, in fact, a LIFE filled with promise.

We never went to the beach that night.  Instead, the children marked their afternoon being minded by the staff in an endoscopy clinic, while a doctor showed my husband and I a photo of a large, obstructive, and he assured us, definitely malignant tumour in my bowel.  Further scans showed that it had jumped ship to my liver and the fight was almost certainly going to be…

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Hello world!

Hello friends

So, once again I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a while. There are all sorts of reasons, but one is that I had some quite overdue tax returns to do. No, I’m not saying how overdue, but let’s just say that banks keep back copies of statements electronically these days…

But now they are done and with the accountant and that monkey is off my back. Huzzah! So I got up this morning full of pep and ready to do some baking for the fundraising High Tea I am hosting on the weekend. (For 150+ plus people. Yes, I volunteered. No, I don’t know what got into me either.)

But then I looked around my house – something I haven’t done much of lately, between the taxes and just feeding people and trying to keep up with all the other volunteering and carry-on of my general life – and I had to laugh. I have many good qualities, I’m sure, but housekeeping clearly ain’t among them.

My sister is dropping in this afternoon for a flying visit (from another State) and I’m thinking that before she gets here, it might be a good idea to sweep up the dead cockroach from the entrance hall, pack up the 4 teapots and a jug on my bench (for the High Tea), get rid of the decorative spray of cocoa pops on the kitchen floor, deal with the piles of mail before they become a OH&S hazard and give the bathroom at least a lick and a promise.

And I think I have at least two things I need to post to the interwebs on behalf of the Romance Writers of Australia this morning too.

The baking might have to wait.

What are you up to today?

Can we stop talking about bodies?

Last week, a dear friend ended up in the intensive care unit with, among other things, septicemia.  (She is much better now and at home again, before you worry, but thank you!) So I spent several days in the ICU, mostly with her, but also seeing all the other people who were in there, and it makes you think.  Then, when I opened my computer today, I found this half-finished rant about magazines and body talk and it seemed the right time to share it.  I’m not a prude.  I like a nice bum as much as the next woman and I don’t want us to stop looking.  But can we talk about something else?

Dear Magazines:

It’s not me, it’s you.

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I love this project

I came across this project today on Facebook, thanks to a writer friend and I had to share it here.

It combines several of my favourite things: helping kids at risk, using business for social justice, helping people to help themselves and gorgeous handbags!  I have been thinking lately that I need a new bag (I’m kind of hard on them) and for the last few years I have made a point of only buying fair-trade or otherwise helpful handbags.  (Which, by the way, is so going to be my band name: Imelda and the helpful handbags.)  So this project came along at just the right time.  I have signed myself up for a ‘loop’ bag and am looking forward to it being in my Christmas stocking!  So if you are in the market for a handbag, or a little social justice action with your Christmas, hop over and pledge.  The project is here: http://www.pozible.com/project/186203.

FYI – In case you haven’t seen a Pozible project before, it is another version of crowdfunding, a la Kickstarter.  In other words, it’s an opportunity for people to raise start-up funds for a business or project by offering rewards to people who pledge certain amounts.  As the amounts go up, so do the rewards.  There are some wacky crowd-funding ideas out there, but this looks like one of the good ones to me.  Because the project will produce products, the rewards are simple and easy to understand.  The woman running the project (apart from being a cousin of a woman whose integrity I respect) has done this kind of thing before, so you can be reasonably confident that it will go ahead as planned.  And, as with all such projects, the payment is only processed if they reach their target.  I wouldn’t recommend all crowd-funded projects, but for all those reasons (as well as its intentions) this looks like one of the good ones to me.  See for yourself!

Cheers, Imelda

 

PS – just dropped back in to say something else about Kickstarter and Pozible and other such crowdfunding options.  One of the best reasons to crowdfund something is to maintain independence.  That doesn’t so much apply to the project above, but it does to two others I have contributed to, namely, The Illusionists documentary and the Wonky Health blog about medical policy.  The latter also supports my commitment to paying people for quality content.  I’m a writer.  Writers need to be paid, especially if we want informed, qualified content, which Wonky Health is.  I think I have supported a couple of other kickstarters as well, but those are book-related and I buy so many books, I have forgotten the details.  But I just wanted to make the point that the reason for the crowdfund is one of the things to take into account when assessing whether supporting the project is for you.

It’s been a while between cocktails…

700Ahem. *Clears throat and looks around nervously*

It’s been a while.

If you’ve dropped in while the tumbleweeds were blowing through this part of my online space, I’m sorry I wasn’t here to offer you a cup of tea and a biscuit. Or a gin and cheese twist, if that’s more what floats your boat. If you had been relying on me for party-style sustenance, you’d have faded away to a shadow by now.

And now I’m going to share why I was away. It’s a bit long and a bit sad, so if you have better things to do or just aren’t up for sad, feel free to stop here, with the assurance that I will be around much more reliably in future.

For those who’ve stuck around, here’s the rest…

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Hypocrisy V Compassion

Forgive another reblog but this expresses brilliantly something I have felt many, many times myself as a person of faith. Go Morgan, another storytelling friend. And I love the blessing at the end. St Benedict was a very practical man. It seems appropriate that it comes from a Benedictine nun.

stories in my life

Storytellers are eavesdroppers and liars; we harvest the words of others and transform them into a palatable product for our consumers.  Public places provide ample opportunities for the discerning listener to pluck a phrase, witness a dialogue and record a scene which will find a home in the stories we create for future telling.
So there I was at the gym; yes I drove there to spend half an hour huffing and puffing on a cross-trainer – irony is not lost on my own ‘first world’ actions. It was a quiet morning because I had an early school drop-off, and the cardio area was not reeling under the efforts of mass sincerity. There was only myself, another woman who was plugged in and therefore oblivious to any conversations and two men. It was their conversation I was privy to; or elements of it.
‘Asians.’ This was the word that punctuated…

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Sorrows come tumbling down: A Jumbly Tale

I have a friend who tells stories… Actually, I have many, but this one has special tales about, among others, the Jumbly Man. This one suits the somberness of my mood at the moment. There’s more to this one, so hop over and follow so you don’t miss the next installment.

time for stories

Let me tell you a story

Once, the Jumbly Man was returning from washing his woes, striding along, deep in thought. It was coming close to night and he began to look about for a camp.

As the sun gave the trees ever longer shadows, he saw a she-oak that would provide shelter and fallen needles, a comfortable place to rest. As he came closer he saw a figure huddled to the side of the tree. It appeared to be a small woman, huddled in on herself. He called out a jumbly greeting, saw a flash of a face full of fear as she scrambled to her feet, trying to stumble away.

Jumbly could see she was hurt. In a few long strides, he reached her and caught her under her elbows before she tumbled. The woman whimpered and cowered away from him. He jumbled soothing sounds at her and…

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Storytelling in Australia

I was going to post something else today, but I found this post about oral storytelling, by my friend Morgan and really wanted to share it. You may not know that I am a storyteller as well as a novelist (and copywriter). In fact, I was a teller of spoken tales long before I started writing novels. It is an ancient art form, often misunderstood in the modern world, but one with great power to counter the unhelpful and unhealthy profit-driven stories that saturate our media. If you get the opportunity to hear a storyteller, take it. It’s life-changing stuff.

stories in my life

I was prompted to write this blog after reading a facebook post by Jo Henwood, a storyteller from Sydney, Australia. Jo writes:

“Last Sunday I did storytelling for the Autumn Vibes festival at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney. It was African themed, I had 14 stories (most of them new) arranged in 3 different story safaris throughout the Garden (with all the challenges of time management, sun, seating, and performing to a background of drumming, jazz bands etc) . Only 18 children came through the day. And of them, although it was advertised for 5-12 year olds, 11 were aged 5 or under. What was also interesting, in a depressing sort of way, was how parents responded when given a choice of $5 activities: clay work, drumming workshop, self guided activity sheet, plant material sculptures, storytelling – the vast majority acted as if storytelling hadn’t been mentioned. – ??? Australian culture in…

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