Last month I attended the funeral of a cousin. We were not close but he was the cousin I saw the most, and that wasn’t as frequent as it sounds. My cousin and his wife were the ones who kept in touch with my parents and the rest of the family. I probably met him a handful of times in my life. His death was unexpected, and so a bit of a shock.
At his funeral I met 3 other cousins and their families. I doubt if I have met those cousins more than 3 times in my life. If I meet them again in this life I will consider myself lucky. A funny thing about funerals: they bring families together where a wedding doesn’t.
In his eulogies, I heard his friends talk about him and a side of his life I had no idea about. Yes, I knew he was into horses, but not to the extent he was. I considered speaking but what could I say? I was his cousin and that is about all. On the drive home I kept thinking.
Thinking of my cousin and his family, I decided I would set up a legacy in his memory. Not one through crowd funding but one I hope will trickle through and spread out.
In today’s world of email, telephone, and social media, there is no excuse to lose touch with relatives. We are so busy with keeping up with the latest feeds, and tweets, collecting more and more followers and friends, we treat our families like an ornament pushed to the back of the cupboard and brought out on the odd occasion.
I ask you to hit Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and search for a relative or friend you have not seen for yoncks and reach out to them, re-establish contact, and post or send a message every few months. A simple, 'Hi, Just thought of you. Hope everything is fine with you', type of message.
And there is still good old snail mail and the yearly Christmas card.
After attending a writers’ festival I have decided on my number one pet peeve.
I truly hate podcasts, workshops and webinars where the presenter spends the first quarter of the allotted time going on about how good they are, what they have achieved, the famous person they met when they were 10 years old, how they come to do what they do, and so on.
I do not care. I go to workshops and festivals for a multiple of reasons one of which is to broaden and consolidate my knowledge base.
When I pay for a workshop, and have the good manners to attend it, I expect to learn something. I do NOT want to hear how wonderful their ego is. I WANT to learn something new, to finally understand something that has puzzled me for years.
So I upset someone’s applecart, by telling the presenter to get on with the workshop. It was worthwhile when another participant came and thanked me as she thought the workshop was about a completely different topic.
The participant beside me had the ill-manners to write ‘qualitative research process’ on my notepad, without my permission. Why? I don’t know, but I guess they thought they were being helpful. What ‘qualitative research process’ is exactly, I have no idea, but will hazard a guess it is a form of learning. Unfortunately for the presenter, it is not my style of learning.
In my tertiary studies, I learnt about the different types of learning. I know some people are audio learners, and others are visual learners. I know there are kinetic learners and concrete learners. I know about the role of primacy and recency in the process of learning. I have come to accept my learning style is a mostly kinetic with a dash of visual. I loathe on the spot exercises. I actually have a very linear and logical thought process, and it does impact on my learning style.
I want information in neat and complete bundles. A 1, 2, 3 process. I do not want to waste an hour and half of my time sifting through stories looking for kernels of information. I guarantee while I am looking for one kernel I have missed three new ones. My mind needs to focus and storytelling is not a good way for me to focus. Storytelling is for the dinner party.
So the moral of this story, friends, is simple. If you are facilitating a workshop, be aware of the participant who wants to learn the greatest amount in the shortest time and leave the storytelling to the evening meal. Use storytelling to illustrate and highlight the points you are making.
Your reputation as a facilitator is dependent upon the ability to impart knowledge, not on your ability to entertain.
Three months ago I waved my Numero Uno Granddaughter off on her Grand Adventure. I did not want her to go for I knew if anything happened I would not be there to help her. By the same token I knew I had to let her go. If you knew my children and grandchildren you would know they NEVER forget. I could not live the next forty years with her looking at me and saying ‘I could have gone there and done this’ etcetera, etcetera, yada, yada, yada.
Now she is coming home. The Grand Adventure turned sour. I thought at first it was a massive case of homesickness, but her mother (she does talk to her mother) said ‘no’ it was deeper than that.
I am of the opinion nothing happens we cannot bear, and every event in our life reveals something about ourselves. A lesson learnt.
So I learnt how helplessness feels. I learnt you can cry for another person and the loss of their dreams. I learnt how courageous and strong a young woman my granddaughter is. Yes, the little cute child has become an independent woman, and I have to treat her as such.
I hope she learnt something about herself. Things like: how strong she is mentally; how resilient she is; her innate nature; she is a homebody at heart; no matter how well you think you are prepared, reality is quite different; she can stand on her own two feet.
When she gets home, the struggles haven’t stopped. She will need to find herself a job; get a car; pick up her life here at home. And there will be countless explanations and post mortems on what went wrong, and what she ‘should have done’ to contend with.
Will I help her? Of course, what else are grandmothers for? The problem? Time.
Like I said, Life’s a bitch and the learning is painful.
Everyone talks about setting goals, but few of us do.
In thinking back over my life, I realise I never heard of setting goals for myself until I went to TAFE. Why? I don't know.
I don't think my parents ever set goals. There was always 'some rainy day', 'what's your dream', and other trite sayings, but I was not taught about goals. I don't think my parents knew the word. I realise whatever goals they may have had may have been pushed to the back of the cupboard as they grappled with sick children, eye surgeries, pregnancies and miscarriages, and life in general.
As a young woman, I certainly didn't have goals. As a mother I tried to give my children what they asked for, (Dancing lessons for my daughter, horse riding for my son), I worked beside my husband in HIS Business. Yes, his. It wasn't my idea or dream but as a good wife I did what I could to help him. My dreams, the few I had, were immaterial. (And I bet there are more than a few heads nodding in agreement.)
So I go to TAFE and hear about setting Short and Long term goals. Yeah, I understood it in a business sense (Wish I knew about those before my husband decided to go into business). Even so, it was still a bit nebulous. And it didn't really click.
I joined a network marketing company and they talked about setting goals and writing them out five times daily, and all that. Still really didn't register.
Last year, I went to a workshop by QWC. Whatever the blurb was Goal setting wasn't mentioned, but that was the workshop was about. I do hate it when something is advertised and then you find it is something totally different. However, I did pick up a hint. It has taken a while, but it has finally worked its way into the right place and things are finally slotting into place.
Yes, Write your SMART goal out, but include a reward for achieving it, AND a penalty for not achieving it, (Of course, six weeks in traction throws a spanner in the works, but the goal can be adjusted.
So my hints for Goal Setting are:
Specific - put a name to your goal. It does not have to be a gigantuous goal like retiring as a trillionaire. It can be as simple as completing a task, or buying a new mixmaster.
Measurable - this is how you know you are on track. For a mixmaster, it can be saving x amount a fortnight until you have the purchase price.
Achievable - Let's face it, buying a little Holden Barina is a lot more achievable than buying a Ferrari. Retiring as a trillionaire is definitely not achievable when you a living on Centrelink, or working at MacDonalds.
Relevant/Realistic - what is relevant to you may not be relevant to someone else. I am not going to buy a super duper TV when I don't watch TV. I much prefer documentaries on You Tube so a bigger computer monitor may definitely be in the picture.
Timeliness - put a date on it. When are you going to do this by?
Reward - so you are walking out of the Good Guys with your new mixmaster, now reward your self for it. Buy a box of chocolates after all it was on Special and you saved your self $20.
Penalty - dire circumstances excepted, what are you going to do if your deadline comes and you haven't achieved your goal?
Now write it out and pin it where you can see it and read it each day, Set it up as a screen saver if you like.
FOR EXAMPLE my first goal for this year went like this:
Goal: Unbroken Vow
By February 28, 2019 (Time), I will have an outline (Achievable; it is an outline and not the novella) for my Unbroken Vow novella documented (Specific). This will include the chapters that go into making up the story (Measurable). If this is not done I will not watch any YouTube documentaries (Penalty) until it is done. If I achieve my goal, I will buy my self a bottle of wine (Reward).
Although not stated, this is relevant to me, and also realistic. I set this goal sometime in January so I had an entire month to do it in.
I have pondered this question on and off over the years and still have not come to any reasonable answer.
I go to writers' talks and sit there listening to them, eager to learn something new. By the end of their talk I realise they know less than I do.
The problem? I may know more than they do, but I often have difficulty in putting said knowledge into action. I also have never been encouraged to 'get out there and do things'. That is probably the impact of my innate nature and personality. So please encourage your writer friends especially young writers to 'have a go'.
I believe in supporting other writers, and I do so with the optimistic hope when my time comes to shine, they will return the gesture. I fear it may be a forlorn hope, but I can always dream.
Why do people write?
Ask many writers this question and you will receive many different answers.
When I started to write it was more of a compulsion rather than any lofty goal or ambition. Writing has been my sanity saver on many occasions. From the tortured teens, to marriage breakup, to bankruptcy and business failing, through domestic violence. Writing has been my mainstay where I work out my problems, get rid of feelings (especially the hurt), and find acceptance and rediscover my sense of self.
Others write because they have a story to tell. Some write because it is a part of their everyday work. I doubt there is one writer who picked up a pen with the intention to become a world renown writer.
Some writers write poetry, some fiction, others memoirs, and yet others non fiction. Be it a brief flash, a moderate discourse or an epic saga, writers write because they love it. They need to write as much as others need to run, or breathe. It is their drug of choice.
I look back at my first efforts, and where once I would have cringed, I now have a sense of pride achievement. I started writing and I finished many pieces, and most of them are of novel length. Yes there are some I never finished, and they are not as many as I feared. Why should I feel a sense of achievement over pieces with sentences of 50 plus words, and paragraphs giving rambling roses a run for their money? Because I developed my own style, voice. I learnt a lot through the effort. I recognised early where my strengths and weaknesses lay. Not everyone writes poetry with their morning coffee, nor a short story before bedtime. I found my niche and wallowed in it.
When I finally joined a writers group, I looked back and saw the change, the growth. Most importantly, I could see the stack of exercise books and say to the others, I have finished x amount of manuscripts.
Some of those early efforts will probably never see the light of day. They are a milestones in my writing journey. Others I will assess their worth and consider fixing them up, bringing them into a better state. Who knows?
Today I am still writing. I had an hiatus for a few years, but writing was still there. I spent 5 years, scouring the internet on writing techniques, attending workshops, educating myself, acquiring knowledge and getting to know myself even deeper. I still attend workshops and conferences, do online courses and scour the internet for articles on writing.
Why do I write? I may as well be dead, if I did not write.
Why do you write?