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The Writing Spirit

Feather Pen with WordsThis is a wondefully inspirational video about the spirit of writing, with tips and commentary from some of the world’s well known writers and best known philosophers. They share with us not only advice about writing – but sound advice about life itself!

For example, Sir Ken Robinson tells us “your best insurance for the future is to really think hard about the things you’d like to do and the life you would like to lead now.” Or, as Gary Zukav says “your life is a co-creative endeavour, but you make the choices.”

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The Book Thief

I have just finished reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusack, and loved it!

It’s told from an unusual perspective, because the narrator is Death – though he doesn’t really like that name, or (even worse) “The Grim Reaper”.

It tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a child in Nazi Germany, and I thought it beautifully written!

Such wonderful turns of phrase! So many places where I paused in my reading, just to savour the language or the description.

Here is an example, taken from a passage where Liesel was fighting a young schoolmate, Ludwig Schmeikl, in the playground:

Oh, how the clouds stumbled in and assembled in the sky.
Great obese clouds.
Dark and plump.
Bumping into each other. Apologising. Moving on and finding room.
Children were there, quick as … well, quick as kids gravitating towards a fight. A stew of arms and legs, of shouts and cheers, grew thicker around them. They were watching Liesel Meminger give Ludwig Schmeikl the hiding of a lifteime. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,’ a girl commentated with a shriek, ‘she’s going to kill him!’

Or here’s another passage – a description of a Nazi book burning in the town square:

The orange flames waved at the crowd as paper and print dissolved inside them. Burning words were torn from their sentences.
On the other side, beyond the blurry heat, it was possible to see the brown shirts and swastikas joining hands. You didn’t see people. Only uniforms and signs.
Birds above did laps.
They circled, somehow attracted to the glow … until they came too close to the heat. Or was it the humans? Certainly the heat was nothing.

And at the end of that day … ‘the dark came in pieces‘ …

Beautiful stuff!

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City Lights

I love our city of Melbourne.

I don’t live there .. I choose to live way out of town. Not actually in a rural area, as I’m in the outer eastern suburbs. But I love my little corner of the world at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges, where I’m surrounded by trees, possums use my garden fences as their thoroughfare and I wake to the sounds of magpies and kookaburras each morning.

However I also adore visiting the city, a busy, bustling feast for the senses. It’s a fabulous smorgasbord of sights, sounds and smells. A colourful cornucopia that is ever changing, always fascinating.

I especially love the pastime of people-watching. Such variety and diversity to absorb!

I was in town on Saturday night, heading for a show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

And, as always, the walk to the venue is almost as enjoyable as the show itself! My people-watching hobby can go into overdrive. The noisy, glittering crowd becomes a series of snapshots …

[Read more…]

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How Many Times

Through the work Chris and I do, we have the privilege of hearing the stories of people from all kinds of places, spaces and backgrounds.

So often I am humbled by their wisdom, resilience, humour and strength – often under circumstances that could leave them bitter, bowed or defeated. And I feel honoured they have felt able to open their hearts and share their stories with us.

It’s a reminder in this busy, media-saturated world of ours that the most powerful stories are not necessarily those of the rich and famous.

How often do we give our time, our spirits and our hearts to listen – really listen – to the stories of others? Ordinary people, with extraordinary stories.

Here is a song from one of my favourite Aussie singer-songwriters, Judy Small, which asks much the same question.

 

How many times do they tell their tales to strangers,

Who turn away in silence and pretend they didn’t hear.

How many times do we throw away such chances,

Never knowing what we might have learned with open ears.

(From How Many Times, by Judy Small)

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Decisions, Decisions …

Conventional wisdom says decision-making is a logical, linear process. We start at a certain point, think about it, weigh up the pros and cons as we go along – and move forward logically to a final decision.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? And if it comes to deciding whether to have a cup of tea or coffee, it can indeed be easy. A quick and simple process.

But when a major decision is has to be made – one involving a large investment of money, energy or emotion – the process is almost always far messier than that!

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had those interminable conversations with friends or family members where we (or they) flip constantly back and forth between “Yes” and “No”.

“Yes, I’ll buy it…. No I won’t…. Yes I will…. No perhaps not.”

Or a situation where a relationship is on, off, on again, off again …

Spiralling DecisionsAnd so it goes on.

When this happens we can become very impatient with ourselves, our relatives or our friends. We wish we – or they  – could stop going around in circles! Covering the same ground, over and over. It can be so irritating. So exasperating!

But there’s another way to see what’s happening. In reality it’s not so much a circle as a spiral. Each time we revisit the ‘same ground’ we’re actually doing so at a higher level. Each spin takes us to space that’s clearer, calmer, stronger. Until finally the decision is clear and we’re strong enough to act.

So when we feel we’re spinning in the middle of a decision-making circle, we need to remember we’re actually travelling an upward spiral.

Each spin is taking us one stage closer to a final decision.

We’ll get there! Just take a deep breath, trust the process – and keep travelling that spiral to its apex.