For most of my life, I have wanted to be a writer.
Yet, when people asked me what exactly it was I wrote or wanted to write - even as recently as last week - I would pause for a moment, as I struggled to frame the answer for myself as much as for them.
The standard answer is usually "anything" as I have dabbled in most forms, from poetry and short stories to newspaper and magazine articles and editorial content, with a recent foray into web content and copywriting. I also usually neglect to mention that I blog, for some reason forgetting that composing my thoughts into a 500-1000 word post is certainly a writing exercise, and occasionally produces something actually worth reading. And, like many or most writers, I mention that I hope to have at least one good book in me...somewhere.
Yet, for most of these last 40-odd years, I have done everything BUT become the writer I have always believed I would be.
Something I read today has crystallised all I've been pondering on recently, in terms of my plans and direction in the New Year. One of the incredibly inspirational writer/bloggers I am presently enjoying, Barbara Winters of Joyfully Jobless, wrote a wonderful newsletter suggesting 10 things to do instead of making flimsy and short-lived resolutions. (I am planning on working on her suggestions once the wee man has gone to sleep tonight...a much better use of New Year's Eve for me than drinking champers and partying late, both of which give me headaches these days! Sign up for her Joyfully Jobless News if you want to know what I'll be up to...and no, I'm not paid to say that.).
Barbara quoted Cher as having said that her greatest fear was not living as well as she knew how to live and those words, and the ideas they triggered within, have hummed through my skull and my bones for most of this morning, until I had to sit down and write this post.
"That is my fear", my bones sing, and I realise how a lifetime's passion for learning and self-examination and truth and well-being are guiding me to this moment, to these pivotal thoughts on the eve of a new year, and a new decade.
As you know, this has been a very introspective year for me. A relationship of over 10 years ended last year, and the dreams and plans I held for the future have had to be examined and re-framed in the light of the very significant changes this ending brought to my life. Joyfully, I have realised that I am actually in a better position to acknowledge and achieve my true heart's desires than I was while in that particular relationship.
I have taken concrete steps towards these goals, by enrolling for university and taking baby steps towards a freelance career. For every forward step I take I stagger backwards two, under the force of self-doubt and procrastination and an over-abundance of gurus and how-to's and must-do's. It is mostly self-inflicted, as I feast at the buffet of information online while shaping my vision to become a successful freelancer and entrepreneur, and I'm not missing the opportunity to beat myself up about it.
Yet I also recognise that out of this struggle the seeds of my new future are being sown, and I trust - yes, I really DO - that they (and I) will flourish. My life has been an adventure in learning to live well, even those times when I seemed to doing the opposite. Many times, the people in my life have credited me with helping them find hope and inspiration and direction in their own journeys to living well; occasionally a bittersweet pleasure when I reflected on my own situation at the time, stalled (or so I thought) in one way or another on my own journey.
Ever a work in progress, I confess that that fear will not leave me, no matter what I achieve with the rest of my life. But rather than call it a fear, I prefer to see it as a motivating force, and I have placed my own interpretation of that quote on the top of my monitor, to remind myself every day, not just for New Year, what it's all about:
"I will live my life as fully and as well as I know how to live."
Since I'm always learning, every single day, I know I will find new ways to fulfill that aim, and to share that knowledge with the world.
At 42, I can finally call myself a writer. It's what I know. I might not be the best writer in the world, or even an extensively published one (yet!), but it's one of the things that makes my soul sing.
In 2010, I will be living my life as I fully as I can, one day at a time. Read about it here, or in other places shortly to be unveiled. And go gently into the new year and decade yourselves, with love and light in your hearts. Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
The cricket song is reverberating in my ears now, as the last of the light fades. It's funny - moments after stepping out of the car this weekend, my brother's girlfriend was asking me what all the noise was, and it took a moment's pause and a re-tuning of my mental filters before I realized she was referring to the crickets. And yes, they ARE loud.
In our own everyday environment, we become used to certain sounds, smells, sights. In my world, much of the light and colour and sound comes from my little boy. He was long-ago nicknamed "the EveryReady Kid" (a nod to a battery advertisement) for his astonishing energy and ability to be "on", and on the go, from the moment he opens his eyes till the moment his eyes (and mouth) finally close.
Right now, for all the incredible reverberations of the crickets and the murmur of the TV in the background, my house is quiet. It's not unusual for him not to be here - he spends every second weekend with his father, and has been doing 4 days a week at preschool this year. Yet, somehow, when his father picked him up for their Christmas holiday in Northern Queensland, something stilled inside my house, and within me. This will be the first time my little man sees Christmas in without me, and me without him.
Sadness is probably not the right word for the feeling I'm experiencing. Fairness demands that I recognize that his father has already been through this last year, when I took the wee man to my mother's for Christmas, and I'm nothing if not fair.
Part of me is actually quite exultant at the unique pleasure of a quiet, stress-free, totally-mine-to-do-as-I-please Christmas week. I've an invite to a street party on Christmas Eve, which I'm looking forward to, but apart from a last bit of shopping and groceries tomorrow I plan to make like a hermit, and immerse myself in writing and developing the various projects I am setting up for the New Year. (More on that in the near future...look, I'm even going to have time to blog!)
Yet, as well as fair I'm also honest, and it's true that not being able to watch my baby's face light up as he realizes that, once again, the magic of Christmas has touched his world and the jolly fellow in the red suit has heeded his dreams is going to be worthy of the odd tearful moment.
But don't feel sorry for me. Think about all the things I'm going to get done! After all, it's so quiet....
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
I've come to see it as part of the healing process after my marriage breakdown, as I regained my spirit and focus after feeling lost for so many years. Last year, I needed to be able to do things for people because helping others helped me. Using my skills and passion and drive in service to others without having to justify it to anyone was a freedom I delighted in.
Sounds sad when I put it on the page, and I dare say it is. Anyone who has come from a relationship hedged about with suspicion and justification and fear will know what I mean.
Since I put the Fun Day to bed earlier this year, I have found myself turning further and further inwards. As this is the last year the wee man will be in the preschool/playgroup world, my time on the various committees I have served with is coming to an end. With each AGM rolling around, and new people taking over my positions, I have felt a sense of relief.
I have come to realise that this year has been about drawing back and turning my focus on me, and what I need now and where I am heading in the future. The future that I am creating for myself and the wee man. Examining all that esoteric stuff about who I am, and what my purpose is here on earth, and how I can better align myself with this purpose...
I have spent much time on the Internet this year, yet almost no time blogging or sharing much of my internal life online (apart from an on-going flirtation with Facebook...but, for me, that is an extension of my real-life world.). What I have been doing is learning...and also, learning about learning.
Yes, I am returning to school. I have finally enrolled to do the university degree I deferred nearly 25 years ago, a dual major in Writing and Media.
I have also been absorbing as much as I can, from the incredible resources available for free on the 'Net, about freelance writing and article marketing and internet marketing and Wordpress and platform building. So much information, in fact, that I have resolved to do 2 things: become more focused in my reading, and take action as I read. I am limping through the set-up of my first online writing portfolio...I say limping because I feel totally inadequate doing it, and am of course absolutely unimpressed with my first efforts...and intend to experiment with some other simpler web-pages in the coming weeks to use as launchpads for various online enterprises.
Doesn't sound very esoteric or deep-and meaningful, does it? What it does sound like is a way to provide for myself and my boy, to give me the freedom to study and apply and hone my skills. A lifelong dream of myself as a published author doesn't seem so far away when I am actually writing and being paid for my writing, even if that is just small change for article mills and magazine fillers. Learning to craft ebooks about topics I can write with clarity and passion, and set up to sell 24/7, seems like the next logical thing to do.
And creating a structure for my writing, making a habit of it, is the best remedy for the procrastination I have struggled with for so many years. I'm starting my uni course as an external student, accessing lectures and tutors and coursework online, so I can't afford to let myself procrastinate.
So does this mean I'm going to be blogging more often again? Have I come out of my little cave, finished with my navel-gazing? Well, it's been rather quiet and peaceful in there....but next time, I might take you with me.
Posted by ruddygood at 12:37 pm
Monday, July 06, 2009
Enter, stage right.
Mugging, waving desperately to those few friends still sitting waiting in the wings patiently for my next grand entrance.
Those who have been kind enough to follow me for a little while will be aware that I’m a self-stifled creative. Once a prolific writer and sketcher, I’ve allowed age, work, love and self-doubt get in the way of the creative expression that used to be second nature to me.
Being a seasoned procrastinator doesn’t help any. I think about things a lot; story ideas, drawings and paintings, craft projects, journal entries. Heavens! even blog entries. I turn them around in my head, refine and polish them, commit to getting them down…and then I don’t.
Even I can notice the irony, that I’ve described my ex-husband as a serial self-sabotager when I so clearly suffer from a version of the same. In the early days of a relationship, we are all attracted not just to another’s sparkling eyes and witty repartee, but also to certain darker, hidden qualities that mirror our own fears and idiosyncrasies.Obviously this is one of those qualities that he mirrored for me, that sub-consciously drew me to him. For I wouldn’t want to consciously choose someone comfortable with allowing themself to be any less than their best…would I?
Without plunging us all into a lengthy self-analysis better suited to the privacy of a therapist’s room, I have unravelled enough of my psyche to realise that the habit of hiding my light under a bush, of resisting opportunities to shine, or even to explore the concept of being “okay but not world-beating”, began young. It had some roots in the need to smooth out my abrasive “differentness” as I enrolled in new school after new school in my primary years as we travelled, and then popped my bright little head up in a still-fairly conservative country high school.
I was different – I was extremely well-read for a child, and well-travelled. I was brought up to believe I was talented and special in an era when many kids were still being told they should be seen and not heard. Anything that I became passionate about, I worked at till I could begin to do it to my satisfaction.
Writing and drawing were my two main loves. I remember looking at some of my drawings when I was about ten, and realising that they weren’t good, didn’t truly represent the thing I was trying to capture, and learned for myself how to see what was there and not what my brain thought was there (the essence of the rightly famous Drawing On The Right Side of The Brain book and course). I truly believed I was capable of anything if I just tried hard enough.
My dreams of the future always had me working for myself in some creative capacity – most probably, the author of a series of best-selling and much-loved books, who perhaps dabbled in a little illustration on the side.
So what happened? What happened to me, and millions of other little shining stars? How did we let the doubts in, see the “reason” in Society’s expectations about how we made our way in the world and how we expressed our truest selves? I can remember quashing my Mum’s dreams about me entering art school, by telling her I could never make a living if I had to work creatively to a deadline, that it would smother my creative spark. Instead, I put it out myself, by not trying at all.
And there’s the rub, kids. What this is all about. Fear. Fear of trying, fear of failing, fear of being different, fear of just not being quite as brilliant as the next person, or fear of being too brilliant and not being able to meet people’s future expectations of our brilliance – it doesn’t matter. By not trying, by not attempting to build on my talents, by denying their very existence, I have created my own self-fulfilling prophecy which can reinforce all the flawed self-judgement that come after it. See, if I was really good enough, I would have done it anyway.
Well, I’m tired of living in fear. I have moved out from one kind of fear, over the last couple of years, but I know that I have plenty more to tackle. For someone who basically comes across as confident, self-assured, forthright, I am a master of self-doubt and self-sabotage. (There – I AM good at something. *hollow ironic laugh* )
Apart from recovering from the frenetic activity of the beginning of the year (staging a children’s event as a volunteer coordinator), I think I’ve been quiet over the last few months as these and other thoughts have been percolating in my brain. I’ve known for some time that I am well and truly ready for a change of direction career-wise. Twenty-some years of retail and customer service were not the future I envisaged for myself in those childhood musings, but they did equip me with some useful skills, not least the ability to recognise where my strengths lie. I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the last few months, both on-line and off-, and I know that I have something to offer, and that it is a move closer to those childhood passions, using some of the talents I was born with.
The saying “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived” has long resonated with me. I know at times I have been living very much a half-life, full of compromise and doubt and a painful awareness that I was here to do so much more. I am a long way from having all the answers or even knowing clearly where I am heading, but I am shaking some of the shadows from my eyes and my heart. I am investing in my own future and the Wee Man’s, by staking my next moves on my own talents and abilities, and I trust that I will be able to rise to the occasion.
(I did this at about age 14. It is called - yes, you guessed it - “River Evening…Or The Story of My Life” - typically teenage melodramatic, but essentially true…my life then WAS about horses, and dreams, and nature, and drawing and myself. I still like it. The baby and the girl are self-portraits, by the way… lucky I got cuter as I got older, eh?)
Posted by ruddygood at 2:34 pm
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Trust me - this is a valuable use of the next 7 minutes of your time. I've been refining and re-focusing my use of this incredible tool for well-being recently, and when I happened upon this video I felt that I should share it. There is no-one who cannot benefit from this.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is something I have dabbled with for a number of years. Funnily enough, for a long time I forgot to use it on myself except in moments of extreme emotional crisis...usually in the middle of the night, when my troubled mind whirled and fought sleep. It has always given me relief.
My greatest success with it has been in using it with children. Firstly, on my stepson when he came to stay with us, and was anxious and homesick at bedtime, and inclined to have nightmares. I taught the routine to him, and his anxiety subsided, and he slept well from then on. He continued to use it after he went home, and would occasionally mention it to me casually over the phone. (I was thrilled and proud that he has continued to explore its uses.) I have only recently started teaching the wee man how to do it, again for night-time anxieties, and he also has taken to it well, though he doesn't always want to "do tappings" when I suggest, so I surrogate tap for him which seems to work too.
Gary Craig's website (www.emofree.com) is a wealth of information and ideas and case histories, as well providing the free PDF manual and the training CDs (not free, but they can be re-distributed by people who have bought them, and a lovely friend of mine is passing copies on to me shortly). Dr Mercola is a big fan of this technique, too, and has been advocating its use on his website for some years
You have nothing to lose. Check it out - I'd love to hear from any of you who have a particular experience with EFT you'd like to share.
Monday, February 09, 2009
"Lukewarm" is how the wee man described us last night, situated half-way up the eastern coast of Australia, sandwiched between the searing temperatures and horrendous bushfires of the South (Victoria and South Australia) and the torrential downpours and heavy flooding of the North (Far North Queensland).
The irony struck me this morning, reflecting on this conversation, as I remembered that around this time last year I was blogging on the string of natural disasters that had touched our little part of the world (first here, then here), and wondering what was next.
I can live with "lukewarm".
Like all Australians, I'm incredibly sad for the people affected by the terrible bushfires in Victoria, now being described as the worst natural disaster in Australia's history. At least 107 people killed, and many more to be discovered, and countless families left homeless - entire towns razed to the ground. (See here for information and images.)
At the same time, I worry about members of my family, and many others, who are still threatened by rising floodwaters around the Townsville area.
Just as we all wonder how we're going to manage through a financial "crisis", Nature reminds us what being in crisis is really all about.
(PS. You can make a donation to aid the fire victims by direct debit with these details: Victoria Bushfire Relief Fund; BSB: 082-001; Account: 860 046 797. Money is the greatest need right now - many families have nothing more than the clothes they are wearing.)
Sunday, February 01, 2009
The last night of the school holidays for us – yay! We’re both looking forward to the start of the new year of preschool (the wee man’s last before moving on to “big school”). I have not used my camera much again – couple of unmissable episodes of “cuteness” are all I have for you. It’s about time I exercised my creativity again, pointed it at something other than cute kids and animals (though I know we all enjoy them anyway).
A stroll across to Lotus at Sarcastic Mom should find you some serious A.R.T. photography – that, or some more cute tushies and fluffy bunnies.
This is a sketch I did one night of the wee man in his ‘jammies that he hasn’t wanted to wipe off – he asked me to take photos of it so he can use his MegaSketcher again…lol.
The furry babies like to hang together – Mahlia and Rusty
Yup, it’s that pirate again. Eye eye, Captain!
What can you do with a face like this, except love it?
Sunday, January 25, 2009
It's nearly the end of the summer holidays - 5 weeks gone, only one more to go. (Can you tell I'm counting down?) Summer has well and truly arrived, too - this week we've melted through sweltering humid days. All of which contributes to total brain-fade for me, where any coherent thought or act of creativity goes right out the window, as I struggle to maintain my equilibrium and my temper.
I'm hopeless in hot weather, far too inclined to fly off the handle at the smallest thing. Whoever thought that summer was a great time to have your children at home with you all day every day was a raving sadomasochistic #&^$#@@...
All of which is a long-winded and unnecessary explanation for why I have hardly touched my camera all week. One lovely image of Miss Furpants, just to say "hello" and give me an excuse to go dip into all the other wonderful photos featured at the lovely Lotus'(Sarcastic Mom) weekly photo meme. I'll gaze longingly at some exquisite snowscapes from the other side of the world, and remember what it's like to see steam coming out of my nostrils...instead of my ears! LOL!
Friday, January 23, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Well, here it is. What do you think? *does a little twirl for the benefit of viewers* Does it suit me? I've been wearing black for too long, and wanted a fresher look. I've still got a fair bit of tweaking to do, so forgive the scaffolding and empty paint tins lying around (and apologies to anyone having trouble seeing me, as I haven't yet checked it out in all browsers yet).
Due credit for my new look must go to the folks at Our Blog Templates for this lovely free Spain template (have a look at how good it can look when someone knows what they are doing!), and to Amanda at Blogger Buster, for sooooo many great tips, tutorials and a fantastic free e-Book on Blogger templates - any problems with this template are down to my incompetency, not their fine work.
I've found heaps of great resource sites, and I'm learning some wonderful tricks, which will be the subject of a future post (for other CSS/HTML virgins like me who want to learn how to tweak what's under the hood of their Blogger blog!).
I've been fiddling with this thing all week, therefore haven't taken many pictures ! So, for some REALLY good photography, go look at Lotus and all the other Weekly Winners. In the meantime, you'll just have to put up with me:
My little sunshine
Not quite my Pocket Pussy any more...
Summer perfection...ripe papaw...
...though size can be deceiving! (Isn't it cute?! It was gorgeous, too...mmmmm...)
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Actually, a part of me would like that biblical fury to be raining down on someone right now - some smiting and burning furnaces and two-edged swords and smoke and brimstone could be delivered unto the arse of my son's father while I sit, box seat front row, with popcorn and a digital camera.
Which is kind of interesting because, if I were to categorise my religious inclinations (and that would be hard, because I follow no religion as such), it would be Buddhist rather than Christian. My belief set runs more to karma and inner-leading-to-outer peace than to fiery vengeance wreaked by avenging angels.
Yet recent unexpected revelations have certainly given me cause to wish that karma came with a fast, on-line order version. It's such a bummer having to trust that his transgressions against me, his son and others will be repaid in full through his karmic debt, this lifetime OR the next OR some future lifetime.
Give me some avenging angels and a good plague.
(Btw, the stunning image above is the work of ecstaticist - view more of his exceptional photos on Flickr.)
Monday, January 12, 2009
You know how I mentioned that I am changing the look of this blog?
That wasn’t a tease – I feel very ready for a change of look, to reflect the change of outlook and direction my life has taken since I first started this blog.
I have 2 problems. One, I cannot write any kind of code – CSS, HTML or anything else. I am at the mercy of existing blog template designers, though I am prepared to have a little play around to tweak things once I’ve got the overall style I’m after.
Two - I was born in October and am, therefore, a Libran. We are known for having something of a problem with making decisions. I’m normally pretty good at it, actually…but do you know how many amazing template designs there are out there?
Posted by ruddygood at 2:57 pm
Sunday, January 11, 2009
It’s late (for me). Here’s my best. Here’s some even better by a whole lot of other bloggers – including, and hosted by, Lotus at Sarcastic Mom (she’s a Goddess – you can tell because she keeps wanting to eat her offspring).
Little boy blue…(soccer guru in the making)
Send in the clown…
In my footsteps… (mine, casually cast off; his, not so…)
Our backyard (aka the Jungle)
The elegant “Miss M” (Mahlia)
He’s my angel…even when he’s not…
Posted by ruddygood at 11:33 pm
Friday, January 09, 2009
What a difference a year makes!
This time a year ago, I was filled with trepidation and incredible uncertainty about what lay ahead, yet I knew that nothing would change my mind from the course I had decided on.
Ending my marriage was the best thing I did all year (and I did some pretty good things last year). I have never regretted it, not for one tiny moment. In fact, as various bits of information came my way over the year, I have had even more reason to know that I made the right decision, for me and the wee man.
It’s been hardest in relation to him, the little guy. He loves his daddy, bless him, and though I know that loving and seeing both parents is good and right and best for his emotional development etc etc blah blah blah, I also know that it is going to bite him in the arse down the track (if you’ll forgive the colloquialism).
His dad is not a very good person, though he tries to convince himself and everyone else that he is. He lets people down, badly, and worst of all those he loves. Self-sabotage is his specialty, which means if you are in his orbit you get hit by the fall-out. His relationship with his other son has already accumulated a critical level of damage, just as the boy enters his teens. He began last year with an opportunity to do it differently with the wee man, to be the person he always claimed he wanted to be, to be the father he wishes he’d had. To a large extent, he has failed.
That’s his journey, their shared journey, and I can only do what I can in terms of being the best parent I can be, and a constant and a comfort to the wee man. The little guy made it a bit hard for me at the beginning of last year, taking his father’s cues and blaming me for the split. He never said so, exactly, but he was angry with me often, and took his father’s line that he could live with him any time literally, and used to threaten me with it whenever he wasn’t getting his way – I didn’t tell him it would have been an empty promise. When he came back after that 2 week holiday/road trip with his Dad in (?) April, things had changed – he had a new appreciation for me, and most of the anger was gone. That made life much easier, because his anger and my unexpressed frustrations and anger and fears were rubbing very badly together, and I was afraid that instead of taking him from danger I was leading him into it. We were both damaged, and there was a point where I worried if the long-term consequences were beyond my control.
Yet, at the back of my mind, I knew that this, too, would pass. After all that we had been through, and with all the other goodness in our lives, we would find a way through these feelings. And in the end, we just did.
So far, this post has focused on the negatives, which was never my intention - there were so many positives to the last year, such a sea-change to my life that I celebrate today.
Returning to myself: living in tune with my beliefs; many small and large achievements in my community work; being able to pick up the phone without fear of drama or debt collectors; running for local government, making choices about where I live and what I wear and where I’m going without having every single thing examined, questioned and misinterpreted; watching my little man grow and blossom and smile and see ME grow and blossom and smile – there is so much that makes this an occasion to be celebrated.
This Christmas was a gift in itself.
Spending time with my family at my mother’s home on the Sunshine Coast was something we had done a few times over the years, including twice in the wee man’s lifetime. Every visit was marred by some kind of drama, and last Christmas was really the final straw for me – 2 weeks later I declared the marriage over, and weathered the blustering, begging, and belligerence until it finally, truly, was over.
Going to Mum’s again enabled us to lay a new track down over the old. We lived a fun, laid-back, loving, drama-free Christmas, such as the wee man has never known in his lifetime yet had always been my experience before being with his father. I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel. Look at the picture – Mum took it on Christmas evening, and it tells you all you need to know .
So, happy anniversary to me. I’d thought of having a little party or drinks with friends, but it did seem somewhat tasteless – ending a marriage is not something I chose to do lightly. Anyway, the real party is in my head and in my heart – I’m the only one who can hear the music, and I’m happily dancing alone.
Posted by ruddygood at 7:46 pm
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Let's not talk about how long it's been since I've stumped up for Weekly Winners - indulge me, by ooh-ing and aah-ing at the gorgeous Aussie Christmas the wee man and I shared with my family up on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. It was warm, fun, relaxed and a wonderful antidote to the tainted memories of past Christmases.
And say "Hi" to the gorgeous Lotus (Sarcastic Mom), whose fabulous institution is the Weekly Winners. Give her a big hug while you're there - just because...
The wee man adored doing workouts with his Uncle J
The self-titled Saucepan Man (How many readers of the Magic Faraway Tree here?)
Gorgeous beach afternoons, each of us to our own passions: me, with my camera; the wee man, sand and water; my mum, her yoga; Rusty, socialising...
And then it was Christmas Day...
...back to the beach...
...before home for the Christmas BBQ. These 2 just as fascinated with fire as last year!