Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Plans - New Journey

photo credit
There are times when life takes you on a different journey, down unexpected pathways, along roads unplanned.... these journeys could be 'feared' for the changes they will bring - or they can be anticipated with willingness to experience the change.

I am realising that I was on my planned journey, the way I wanted to go... when those plans were interrupted.

In my work life, I spend quite a bit of time and energy promoting 'disruptive' change - innovation - for better outcomes in the public sector - which is well known for doing things the same old way because that's the way we've always done it.

Well, now it's time to live my own mantra.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Lao Tzu
I have a dream to be a champion for the women and girls of the village of Thirichuli. I like to visit them often to see how they are growing and developing, and I like to support the NGO that manages those programs. I was hoping to be there right now. I'm not. I'm currently still in Oz. I waited patiently for my paperwork. But it was time to change my plans. I'm about to leave for 6 weeks in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I wont be volunteering - I'll be backpacking and experiencing.
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”  Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

So, here I go... Anything can happen.... I may come back different... that might be a good thing. I'll try and keep you posted.

Ps. As I'm heading off to somewhere I've never been and really never thought about going to - I'd love any travel suggestions...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Change and Constant

 Rhubarb, Spinach, Mustard Leaves, Kale  & Banksia lower
 Lettuce, Leeks, Strawberries & Beets
 Mandarin Blossom
 Strawberry, Kale and Spinach Bouquet

Hugely Grateful to Becs, because her mentorship and garden advice has made gardening this season rewarding and I feel invigorated because the garden  in. Becs offered some gardening advice earlier this year, just when I was needing to give the garden a thorough re-start. As we head into spring, the garden is now brimming with yummy stuff. Sometime soon, we need to get chooks - cos Kale & egg muffins have been a fairly constant meal round here recently.  The above bouquet was my innovative strategy to get the strawberries inside without bruising them. If I leave them on the side until I get a basket, one  little four legged garden helper thinks they're for her!

I recently posted that my intent is to be travelling in the next 2 months - hopefully to visit the girls I support in India. It seems however there may be a hiccup to my plans - so while I wait [patiently] for word on paperwork, I am taking time to rest in the moment - see hope around me. When a friend asked me recently about how my plans were going, I responded that when I am still, and calm, and rest in the knowledge that there is a divine purpose in my being ready to leave - I am OK - BUT when I am not that person, I am frustrated because I am not in control - so it's time to just rest in the present.

View from my friends place.... enjoyed a BBQ here last week

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Interest in Indian Literature

Very soon I hope to visit these girls again. They live in a remote village in Tamil Nadu India. I have been visiting for the past 8 year, watching them grow up, learn English, gain confidence in their studies and develop dreams of their own. Some of these girls had a difficult start to life, commencing work from as young as 4 years old. Most have come from very disadvantaged families. Yet through the accelerated learning program at the KGBV primary school, they are catching up and, in many cases, far outreaching their parents and siblings learning achievements. If you would like to join me in supporting these girls - check out my charity information on the top right of my home page.

So if I get to go to India soon, I could be there for up to 6 weeks. Quiet nights in the village mean lots of reading time (especially if there's a power outage). So I've started downloading my books. Along with my JLC reading list, I've got some Indian Literature also.

I have read many Indian novels in the past, never disappointed. Do you have any recommendations? 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Living in the moment - Spring

Today felt like Spring! 

I achieved my PB at the local running festival 
10.5km in 66 mins

Sharing moments like this with friends

Enjoying the Lake

Spent the afternoon in my garden (recovering!)

Enjoying this

Monday, August 24, 2015

Japanese Literature Challenge No 9

 Dolce Bellezza hosts this fantastic literature challenge - now in its 9th year! I've joined for the last 7 years and, now Paris in July is over, I'm collecting my reading for this challenge. The only rule is read at least one work of Japanese Literature between June 2015 and January 2016. That's not hard is it... everyone can join in. The review site here, lists other bloggers review, which offer great suggestions if you haven't got any leads yet. Here, Dolce Bellezza outlines her reading  plans which is also an inspirational list.

This is my list to start with.... 

 recommended by my Kindle store

 here's a review I liked..

 because I love Murakami....

inspired by this review..

My reviews from previous years are all here on this blog, but here's the recent past links

Any other recommendations? 

Join us..

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Paris in July Reading

Do you remember that I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew with these reading goals for my Paris in July? Well, I have made it - albeit 2 weeks late. I have had quite the visit to Paris with these great wintertime reads...

My reading journey to Paris started with 'Ransacking Paris'. Patti Miller, an Aussie women who's dream to discover Paris and France was postponed while she raised two boys in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. But when the chance came for her partner to work in Europe and she could spend a year writing in Paris, she couldn't resist. This was a great book for me to read - I associated with Patti's Australian, far from the rest of the world, rural life experiences, and also to her dreams. I loved that the journey she took me on was a personal story, discovery, and also a piece of literary education. She introduces the reader to some of Paris most loved classic authors and memoirists over the years.

I couldn't put this book down until I finished it.

My next step was the Red Notebook. A novel with a simple and yet dreamy storyline. A wonderful man discovers a lost woman's handbag, and the red notebook. While she recovers from the robbery, unawares to the events happening in her apartment, he is searching for her - to return the lost property. A story with some interesting twists, it kept me captivated - probably hopeful that this 'romantic Parisian male' finds the unknown heroin and makes all her dreams come true.. I did love that the story was set in Paris and involved bookstores, cafes and apartment buildings.

While searching for the mysterious women who owned the handbag, I started to read David Lebovitz's book "My Paris Kitchen". While 'Ransacking Paris' was a mix of visiting the Old Paris and the New Paris, My Paris Kitchen was about today's markets, recipes, and the comparison of the Paris of today with the images of Paris of the past. David speaks openly about his Paris life and his American roots. I skimmed over delicious recipes, but spent time with his descriptions of products, markets, techniques...

On a different path - reading "the Paris Apartment" was a tour through the Belle Epoch with April, the American with a specialty in French Furniture and Auctions. This story took me back and forth to the Paris of Victor Hugo's daughter and the society of artists around Pablo Piccasso and Boldini, and the mixed up marriage of April. Paris for her was an escape from difficult memories and difficult relationships - as it was for the other leading lady of the Novel 'Marthe'.

While experiencing some of Sydney's coldest days, I made my way to Paris through the eyes of five authors, and the stories of Patti while she finally got to discover the Paris she'd dreamed of in her youth, Laure & Laurent whose lives became entwined in Paris, David who's love of great food transported me to markets and cafes of Paris, and with April, who found rest and reflection in Paris.

The fifth author, Julie Kraulis, took me to Paris with Arlo, the Armadillo. Arlo discovered the classic highlights of Paris on his journey to meet the Iron Lady. It was a grand finale for my Paris in July. Simple, elegant and romantic. Paris means different things to everyone. Through the magic sights of the Sacre Coeur, the Seine, and the Iron Lady, or the lane ways, the Louvre, the view from the Galleries Lafayette, and the stories associated with the grand characters of the past - Boldini, Picasso, other artists, and Montaigne, Rousseau, de Beauvoir, and other memoirists - the journey to Paris this July was complete for me with Arlo - who fulfilled his grandfathers wish for him to visit Paris. 
 For me now - it's time to head to Japan... for Dolce Bellezza's Japanese Literature Challenge 9.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Why I do Paris in July

 Paris in July is a  month long blogging event that my friend Karen and I dreamed up more than 6 years ago. Karen has been a mentor to me for a long time, particularly for encouraging me to read more and to enjoy books. As a child I struggled to enjoy reading, and had greater opportunities to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle and my music studies - so outdoors or music always got more of my attention than books. However, as an adult, i realised that there is so much to learn from books, and there is a vast world of amazing history, thinking, politics, story telling and so much more that can be enjoyed from books. So when I watched Karen devour books (long before her little one appeared), I sought her encouragement. She introduced me first to book club, which I loved - the motivation to read something so I could join in the discussion. I read things I would never have chosen, and learnt to be honest about how I reacted to those books. When book club folded, Karen introduced me to blogging, and a whole new world of book readers.

However my blog is more about the wide range of things I think about in life - books, films and live performances are one subject I bring here, but also my gardening, permaculture and social justice thinking too. So Karen and I proposed to bring her book blogging friends, and mine, together to celebrate all things Paris in July. As a side, here in Australia, July is a cold and dreary time, so dreaming of Paris in July makes us feel happy.

 This year, Karen has taken a break from co hosting, but she's never very far from me and has supported this event in the background - thank you K. So hosting this year fulltime has in fact been just that - a very busy month. I was trying with all my effort to read and comment on all the posts - and loving what I could get to. The participants list was growing, and there were some wonderful contributions. But for me, I didn't get much of a chance to do my own Paris in July Posts, and I found myself feeling a little stressed about that. However, on reflection, hosting, reading all the posts, and visiting Paris with you all, is just what Paris in July is about for me. I'm a parasite of sorts...virtually traveller.
 I've reflected on why I do Paris in July, and why I love it, and it seems to me, my strongest motivation is that I do love Paris - the real city, and also, the romantic notions that have been associated with Paris for centuries. I've been studying French, in a very part time way, for more than 8 years, and in these studies we learn about the culture, the politics, and the society - we study events like the Charlie Hebdo shootings, the many strikes that occur in Paris, the refugee crisis and Calais, the elections - and I've come to like the way Parisians and the French are very public about their opinions.
The Parisians live their life in the streets - the markets, the cafes, the protests, the shops, the metro.... we can observe all this - as authors have done for centuries. I reflected on that this year as I read your book reviews, and as I enjoyed Patti Millers "Ransacking Paris", where she introduced me to literary heros of the past who enjoyed visiting Paris - I think I love Paris because it challenges my Aussie upbringing - where private is private....  I love watching people.... and Paris is where people live in the streets..
When I was a child, my parents were world travellers, and I spent the first 5 years of my life amongst some of the worlds busiest and intense cities, moving alot, but I was always watching people, learning about the world through other peoples public lives. When we returned to Australia, we moved to a very quiet and remote rural setting where public lives were hard to observe - Australians, and country folk at that, are not very social creatures - and I missed that.
There's so much to love about Paris - the artists that come from Paris, the artists that are inspired by Paris - fashion, film, food, literature, architecture, music, and the lists goes on - they all share with us their take on the character of Paris.
Paris in July is an event that brings observers of that to a forum where we can share and learn more... but for me, it's a new window for me to observe life in Paris through your eyes....