Optimism

This week my lack of this quality has been centre stage. It it makes me smile. Laugh out loud even, because I don’t actually agree.

I consider myself a pessimistic optimist, otherwise known as a realist. I’ve been dealt my fair share of hardships, so much so that when dealt yet another blow earlier in the year, I accepted it.

This was a somewhat new phenomena, the acceptance thing.

My track record with acceptance was dire….having always opted to ignore heartache and trauma. I’d shield myself from pain with layer upon layer of denial, ignoring my human capacity to self-heal.

I’ve come a long way, have begun to accept things on a daily basis, for what they are and not shy away from complex feelings that may surface.

But to be told that I’m not an optimist – it’s just not true.

I’m a pessimistic optimist, other wise known as a realist.

When my best friend called me this week, before she was to board a flight, bound for the  UK, Italy and Iceland. I answer the phone and utter down the phone ‘ I hate my life’.

I’m part way through the delivering an orientation program to group of international students….but I can’t say these four words with enough seriousness and we both start laughing.

‘You are too funny’ smirks my bestie.

‘Just do little things each day that remind you of holidays’ states the beauty who is about to be spa side in Iceland. I swallow hard on that advice and truly mean what I say next ‘ Have the best holiday’

The following day my personal trainer asked post orientation ‘ How are your student group’?

My response ‘ I hate them all’

We both laugh – that is also not true, in fact, this is the first group that I feel totally at ease with. After doing this role for close to 2 years, I finally feel like I have got my role as internship coordinator down to a fine art.

Reflecting on the week that was with my Mum, her advice was to take a bit of optimism from those in my inner circle. Perhaps what she was really saying was to choose my words wisely. Comments such as ‘ I hate my life’, especially to those who don’t know me would be truly confronting. They would not have points of reference for such jaring remarks, that would enable them to appreciate my black humour.

So I’ll take from this self-reflective practice that one must know their audience. And upon careful consideration I am a pessimistic optimistic realist. And a very happy one at that!!

 

 

Cafe Culture

As a young girl, growing up on the South Coast of Wollongong, not really into underage drinking, parties or surf culture….there was little to do.

What I did want to do was hang out in cafes, drink coffee and look more adult, head in a book or engaged in high brow conversation with other like-minded folk.

But this was the South Coast circa 1992 and no such place existed. There was Jim’s Fish and Chip Shop ( were $2 brought you a kilo of hot chips) or the Rex Hotel, Thirroul – complete with topless bar maids and $3 schooners.

My life was miserable….

And then it appeared….a cafe….in Thirroul…name of which I cannot remember…but it was a cafe….

A planned was devised.

My friend Clare and I would catch the bus home from school, we would have a milk shake at the cafe for afternoon tea, and then Clare’s Mum would pick us up.

I felt so grown up, like all my Christmas’ had come at once. This could also be due to the fact that my friend Clare was two-year levels above me at school….I just felt so lucky.

The day arrived, the bus from school to Thirroul seemed to take longer than usual – such was the anticipation levels of engaging in cafe culture my ‘Sydney’ teenage peers, a mere 1.5 hours from the South, often took for granted…cafes on every city street, open till midnight….

Alighting the bus, we set out on foot to the cafe on the opposite side of town, smiling ear to ear for we were soon to be wrapped in the sweet aroma of coffee beans, home-made cakes and conversation about art, history and of course, and most importantly, local gossip. I knew the importance of this day, it was to be life changing – somewhere to hang out, to chat, to feel a sense of belonging, in my home town….

And then I saw it….a sign of the cafe door, in bold red letters:

‘ Closed’

Yes, cafe culture in Thirroul locked us out – opening hours was 9am – 3pm daily and clearly not accommodating of high school aged teenagers. A sense of bewilderment overtook us. All hopes dashed, and the cloak of misery and hopelessness hung heavy on my shoulders….

I glanced in the direction of the Rex Hotel, I thought of Jim’s Fish and Chip Shop, 1km away….and just felt sad.

We walked to the public phone box and called Clare’s mother to come and collect us.

Epic fail.

Afterward

That was 1992 and so much has changed in 25 years. I did leave Thirroul for a 2 year period upon graduating University and drank my first cup of coffee whilst living in the UK in 2001. It was my Spanish friends who introduced me to the art of cafe culture and I am forever thankful.

Returning to the South Coast in 2003 I got a job in one of Thirrouls first cafes. Oscar’s Wild Bookstore, a magical place that served coffee, cakes and conversation for many years.

Fast forward to 2017 and Thirroul has in excess of 10 cafes in this tiny coastal town – all with strong customer followings and opportunities for patrons to sip coffee and converse for 6am – 4pm most days!

This blog entry was inspired by an article that features in the local newspaper, the Illawarra Mercury, on March 4th, documenting cafe culture on the South Coast. An article I wish had appeared many moons earlier but better late than never. And yes, a sense of belonging to this region is well engrained in me now!

 

 

Happy New Year

It’s a New Year and yesterday’s star sign for Virgo’s read ‘ You prefer things neat, clear and orderly. Yet this week’s more likely to be full of flux, mystery and unanswered questions. If you feel like you are heading in to the same old familiar terrain yet again, trying a radically new approach it highly recommended’

Last night I stayed in, I ignored universe’s advise to ‘try a radically new approach ‘ to life, to party like is 1999 as Prince sang in his infamous party tune. I feel about 27% disappointed with myself and 63% sure that I made the right decision to watch the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie and drink mojitos with Flora the cat.

But in the same moment,wrestling with that 27% bit of disappointment made me take a long hard look at myself and I made a pact, that as the clock strikes midnight to herald in 2018 I would be out and an about, somewhere, with someone in this big, bold and bright universe.

2017 come at me – I am ready.

And just for laughs I had a great conversation in the local supermarket this morning, when discussing travel plans for my birthday next year.

The question was ‘ Will you be forty next year?’

My mind raced, did my friend just ask if I will be the Big Four Zero?!?!

My fear and dread so evident as I was consoled with the following ‘Its only a number’

That is it – just like the New Year, 2017, it’s only just numbers, nothing has changed, everything is but the same.

And we have every possibility to make the most of today, tomorrow and all the days that follow.

Mentorship

I stumbled across the Sydney Story Factory after yet another encounter with the black dog. My Mum sensed I needed something extra, something to draw me out of my inner world, and at the time, volunteering seemed as good an idea as any.

So I did a google search ‘ volunteering opportunities in Sydney’

And there in bold appeared ‘ Sydney Story Factory – creative writing volunteers needed’

It was as if the heavens had sent a sign – a golden light shone forth from my Apple devise, bathing me in a warm glow.

As a trained primary school teacher with a passion for writing, coupled with an over active imagination – the stars aligned that day in March 2013. I registered my interest there and then.

In an instant I became immersed in the world of creative thought. Imagination of the pencil to paper variety…My smile returned.

And all thanks to one remarkable women ( well two if you count Mum) – Cath Keenan. Founder of the Factory. When our paths first crossed at the volunteer induction I wanted to knit her into blanket form and wrap myself in her positivity, optimism, passion, energy & commitment to ‘ sparking creativity in every child’.

Resisting this urge, I did the more sensible thing of volunteering.When work- life balance tilted heavily in the direction of work, I supported the Factory through donations and my work as Internship Program Coordinator, sending the best of the best for placements. Often I was so jealous of the student nominations that I held off for weeks!! Pick me Cath, pick me!!

Instigators of ideas, people whose passion, energy & vision embodies them, wholeheartedly driving them forward. On a mission, one that they communicate to others with such eloquence, that the curious can’t help but be swept up in the joyous movement of the community.

And truly great mentor’s  have a strong, supportive and loyal community around them. They keep these people close, they understand that without them, their ideas lay dormant, never morphing into a thing of shape or substance.

From my three years experience in network building, I say to those new to the concept, find a mentor that ticks your boxes and stick by them. For great mentors are generous, they share their good fortune with their flock, their tribe. Their network becomes your network.

But take note, from someone who has trodden the murky and foggy networking path to seek out like minded individuals –

You cannot fake connection
People can see through falsehoods
Mentors seek authenticity
Be true to you and the rest will follow

It with a new found ease that people of substance enter my inner circle….knitting needles at the ready, new crochet squares continually being added to my colourful, collaborative, diversely delightful networking patchwork quilt.

Temporary Holding Zone

I am stuck
Literally- locked in, caged, wings clipped.
I close my eyes, my ears prick at the suggestion of footsteps in the room.
I imagine them walking with purpose towards me, a key chain rustles
With great precision, they prise open the cage door
I taste, smell, touch and see freedom- happy tears flow.

But the cage is a self imposed one, it has no physicality
There are forces holding me back that I cannot articulate.
It is an inner state of turmoil.
Outwardly, this is evident in my behaviour
I am irritable, on edge and tired.

I am stuck but I know it won’t be forever
For the first time in a long time, I accept the situation for what it is and know it will pass
Each day I edge closer to a new beginning
As I wait it out, it is important to the search and find a silver lining in every situation
All those beautiful shiny lids on the ground, sparkling just for me.

Beautiful Shiny Lids

A self-diagnosed trouble maker
She loved that – and was proud to think he knew himself that well

Gold dust, glitter, sparklers and beautiful shiny lids
Head in the cloud, heart a flutter, day dreaming a future
Time floating overhead represented her past.

And now?

A cup of instant coffee, sunshine and Donald Trump had her grounded.
Though it was easy to loose herself in lofty thoughts….she knew better.

Reality was a bitch, but the effort required to stay present was liberating.
Human interaction, a conversation, sharing of ideas, a smile, a hand shake, a hug.

She loved the ‘ shiny lid’ outlook recently acquired.
Happiness could be found in the mundane and the sublimely beautiful.

As long as she remained present, grounded, with two feet firmly on the ground.

Spring has Sprung!

 

Words fail me, I cannot articulate how or why I know this. My sense of smell deserts me, my hands reach out in its direction yet it’s texture, size or shaped cannot be detected.Though my ears are pricked and at the ready, deafening silence.

Put simply,it is an inner feeling, that has been accompanying me these last few months. Can people see it in aura form? Can others see the change in store for me that I am yet to identify?  I have an inkling others do for I meet a new business contact this week who instantly felt we were kindred spirits and that we would do great things together. I felt it too true connection, a rare & precious thing.

But what is it she saw? She felt?

It is all about timing.

And I must be patient and wait. And past experience has taught me that the more energy I expend wanting, hoping, pleading for the change to reveal itself – the more elusive it will be.

But I have been waiting f.o.r.e.v.e.r and I am t.i.r.e.d

But the change that I sense is coming demands of me just that little bit more patience and grit.

What ever is in store for me, when it finally, if ever, reveals itself, I know my best self will be ready to meet it face on.

Happy first day of Spring, 2016.

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