Carol has recently retired from teaching having ventured through chalkboards, overhead projectors, whiteboards and smart boards! She holds a Bachelor of Education and a Masters degree in Guidance and Counseling. Carol has taught in primary and secondary schools in Australia and the US. She was an adjunct professor at Chaminade University in Hawaii and a tutor at the University of Canberra in Australia. Her passion is literacy and she is a volunteer tutor for adult literacy and children at risk. Writing is the 'love' of her life along with her 3 kids, 1 rather nice husband and a spectacular but naughty border collie pup. She lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.
In his memoir, “On Writing” Stephen King includes two quotes before the foreword.
Honesty’s the best policy. – Miguel de Cervantes
Liars prosper. – Anonymous
So how does this apply to the 90s phenomenon which began as web log and is now globally embraced as blogging? I wanted to better understand the concept of blogging so started with a definition – “a person who regularly writes material for a blog”. Ok, so that summary was not particularly insightful so I tapped deeper – “a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a web page.” I will confess (the honesty part) that I had guessed it might have been a play on the words ‘bragging’ and ‘logging’. Personal and published – the two Ps, now that makes sense, after all isn’t the intent of all writing to be read, just as we speak to be heard and with both, understood?
New to the concept of blogging because in the late 90s and the decade that followed I was navigating the mothering of three wonders, trying to hold on to a teaching career in the midst of the touch and go life of a ‘military spouse’ which other partners of service personnel and those who must up stakes regularly for employment will understand. Now that the life bag of excuses is depleted, the old but new to me arena of blogging is sitting right in front of me – literally.
Writing that is compelling and raw with honesty is my blogging choice. My choice to read, my decision to write. I do though agree with ‘Anonymous’ in every facet of life, liars do indeed prosper – I am sure we can all dredge up examples as such but in this new domain of blogging, honesty is the best policy, the only point really.
What is my blogging goal? I do not think that I am very good at goal setting – I tend to rush at things but I am a pretty darn good finisher. If the blogging is to have a purpose other than to write, to express – it is about gathering and sharing thoughts, ideas, joys, memories, hurts, disappointments, hopes and providing legacy.
So here I begin, blogging on about everything with Miguel’s words ringing in my ears.
How can that possibly be one year ago? My goal to start was achieved. Honesty in my words, achieved. Baby steps – still in progress as my posts reach a small audience as I had intended, small yes – but authentic. Legacy – well underway.
Love of writing – ever present. Writing for me – is a must!
A few days ago I was waiting for my student who was meeting with me for the first time. We had arranged to meet in front of the local library. It was a glorious day – made all the more special after a week of relentless rain.
I was early as I am ‘painfully punctual’. I tag that for myself as I must not be late and the annoying flip side is that I am impatient with others who are tardy! On this occasion I was very content to sit in the beautiful gardens encasing the library, simply enjoying the breeze and the early morning activity between the gallery, park and library.
I left my phone at home.
I could not submerge myself into facebook, messenger, texts, google, duolingo (Spanish) or any number of gathered apps. Mind you, I usually don’t pull out my phone when I am in a situation of waiting. I like to enjoy the to and fro of my surroundings although I do resort to my phone if kept waiting too long. Mainly in anticipation of an explanation!
On this morning though, at a perfectly civil time of the day in an absolutely normal waiting place – I noticed that the overall reaction to my sitting and looking out and around was – discomfort.
There were others in proximity – and you have guessed where this is going – they were all disengaged from the trees shading us, the shine of the sun which always seems brighter when missing for days on end, the softness of the air, the birdsong and the passing of workers, shoppers, students, toddlers, parents and people – a steady interesting stream of them. For a host of reasons on that stunning morning in a pretty town square, everyone else in the near vicinity poised in a position of waiting or taking pause – were all fully invested in their devices.
I mentioned discomfort and that is exactly the vibe I picked up more than once when a passer by mistook my lack of attention to a device as an over interest in their good self. It reminded me of other situations when not adhering to the new era of digital attendance in all situations (even walking and for goodness sakes crossing roads with real traffic – let’s hope the drivers are not on their devices too) has led to an aura of strangeness. Do we feel compelled to look into our phones in any waiting situation so we don’t look ‘strange’?
In a medical reception recently I was content just to wait without using my phone and had no interest in the usual out of date, cheap magazine fare. I was ok with just sitting and waiting. I noticed the receptionist raised her eyes to me more than once and I realized that I was making her uncomfortable because I was not following the new social norm or at the very least – the old one of flicking magazine pages.
Today it seems that connectivity is key and no doubt a whole lot of great connecting is achieved in all those ‘waiting’ situations. There’s nothing wrong with browsing, gaming or using time wisely. I just hope that there never comes a time when it is just not ok to just sit and wait, at least every now and then, especially when it happens to be somewhere very beautiful.
It was a difficult decision to reply to you. In the end, my beautiful partner shared his enduring wisdom telling me, “Perhaps this is a chance to give that broken boy a voice.”
For my part in the despicable behavior that went on between us, I am truly sorry. I did not live my life that way before or after. I do not think often of those terrible years but when I do, I still feel a worm of shame so deeply, it must surely be in my soul. How could I have allowed myself to be treated so appallingly? It was the darkest of times, ugly and hateful.
My life since then has been joyful, abundant and successful – but I have no intention of sharing my stories with you. You were never worthy. It is not my job to ease your guilt and yet, here I am, prepared to give you this one small memory. I do so solely because you share a sliver of the outcome.
Take it and put me out of your thoughts forever. I have gone, have been gone to you since that moment and I refuse to allow you to enter my life in any way.
It was a night when once again I had convinced you to come over to my place, to talk, to sort some things out, to eat together. I was hopeful. I was young. I was broken and thought that only you could stop the hurt. The apartment phone rang and it was you, calling from a phone box to say you would not be able to make it. I recall it as though it was just a moment ago. I held the receiver away from my ear and said calmly into the mouthpiece, “thank you for letting me know”. I hung up before you could reply. Before you could lie. Before you could bruise me again and again.
I remember thinking – at last you’d done the decent thing. An act of deceny in the brawl and deceit that was our – whatever it was at that stage. That simple ordinary gesture set me free.
I picked up my car keys, turned off the oven and went out to find my friends. That night I felt unburdened for the first time in years. I knew you would never be the person I had so wanted you to be. I would manage. I would get by.
That night, that amazing night, I met the wonderful person who became and remains my world. My everything. My real family.
Your choice and decisions are your own, as are mine. Door closed.
What do I know about thirty? Well, I have a clear memory of a time when I did not know a single person over thirty aside from my parents, their relatives and friends. When I began my first job at a law firm, I was left with about thirty dollars a week after paying board to my parents (back when this was normal and you felt proud to do so) and I can clearly recall celebrating my thirtieth birthday.
I was about three months pregnant with our second child and could not zip my skirt up fully but wore it anyway as the suit jacket covered the opening. My parents came to mind our little girl Alexandria, who would turn three shortly after her brother Harry would be born. We were living in our first house and I was a founding teacher at the spanking new school built for our growing bayside area. We had fabulous neighbors whom we remain friends with to this day – although we moved away, travelled the country and the wider world with my husband’s military career which demanded resilience but also delivered adventure and financial security.
We spent a year apart when he was completing officer cadet training and became engaged mid way through that year. We had no time to enjoy selecting a ring together so I was to narrow the choice ready for his brief return so that we could have an engagement celebration at my parent’s home. My sister and I had some fun looking and as I was set on a gold band with a solitaire diamond, the choice was quite easy. We picked the ring up together when he was visiting me for his short leave and it was sweet and lovely – but not quite the same as looking from scratch together.
So for my thirtieth birthday I wanted to go out together and select a pretty ring which is exactly what we did. I love my dainty bowtie ring with diamond wings and a deep blue sapphire bow. I wore it to dinner that night which was in a refurbished lighthouse on the bay. Celebrating my o birthdays (really they should be called zero’s I guess) have been – interesting. My one and only birthday party was my 21st – at home, under Mum and Dad’s house with friends, a bbq and a flin flam man (yeah it was that long ago). My other 0 birthday for 40 was spent unpacking boxes in an apartment in Jerusalem looking for the 2 minute noodles I had stashed for our – three kids by now, (Annie born two years after Harry) whilst the UN had the military Dad in East Jerusalem at a particularly good turkish restaurant. The date was the 6th September, 2011 and we could never imagine the tragic events that would soon alter our own paths and countless others across the world.
Sadly for my 0 birthday for 50, I was losing my father and our sweet Mum would follow just five weeks after Dad had passed. My birthday was a deeply private affair with just my children and my sister. Military Dad was in the middle east, had been so for the past year and was awaiting the arrival of the new commander to do the handover. He did not make it home to spend time with my Dad, but I am forever grateful he was there for the funeral and to help with the comforting of Mum. My parents had given me five hundred dollars and wanted me to select a gift. With my sister again, I selected a solid, silver bracelet which I was able to show to my Dad and Mum. Seven years on, I wear it daily and feel happy and comforted to do so.
There is another 0 birthday on my horizons – a 30th for our first-born. Thirty, really and just when did that happen? Alexandria turns 30 on May 4, 2019. Her due date was actually June 15 which is my mother’s birthday but Alex showed her true personality very early on, as was her birth – which was six weeks early, complicated but able to be sorted out with time in special care. I came home without her but after two weeks we were able to experience the full joy and absolute fear of taking our first baby home.
Now here we are, happily preparing to have a small celebration of her own 0 birthday. This is a smart young women with outstanding academic and career achievements already gained. She is married to Greg and they have faced the excruciating loss of Greg’s Mum Julie, a beautiful soul taken way too soon, bore it together and like any of us have ridden the waves of love, loss, fun and weariness in their family. They have two tiny dogs, (‘rats’ the military Dad calls them secretly – well, not so secret anymore) busy jobs and a house in construction. They live happily except for each winter in the southern and yes, very chilly part of the country!
So my baby is turning 30 – do I feel old? No time for that as I have been playing at organizing her boho themed garden party (oh lord do not let it rain) and making sure she has the very best afternoon possible. It is a blessing, a gift to be so privileged to see my ‘children’ grow up. I know how young thirty years into the world really is and how many more wonderful and fulfilling adventures and life experiences are ahead for our daughter and those whom she loves and chooses to share her life with. 30 – oh my, what a joy to celebrate.
Prayers, well-being and strength to all those impacted by the horrendous criminal acts perpetrated in Christchurch, March 2019. May the loved ones and families find their paths again, one step – one heartbreaking step at a time. All our thoughts and deepest hopes for coping are with all of you.
Let’s face it, we all have them! A secret crush, a gross habit or those cheeky pranks pulled long ago – we all have those little deeds that we tuck away. For the last twenty odd years I have been a devoted watcher of “Bold and the Beautiful.” Now, that may not seem like much of a secret but there is no-one outside of my immediate family who would believe it! It started innocently enough as a young Mum when a playgroup I joined would plan the activities around the early afternoon B&B screening, which centred around the outrageous competition between Brooke and Taylor for Ridge’s ever wandering love! I was writing my thesis at the time and secretly and smugly felt above all the soapy drama. Look how that turned out!
I often wondered myself why I persisted with this particular soapy and came to realise that it had become somewhat of a constant in the touch and go life of a military spouse. Just a little snip in the day that was always there regardless of the state or indeed the country we were calling home. My kids are now adults and they love teasing me about watching B&B. Even though it is possible to download and record pretty much anything these days – I still do it old school and plonk with a cup of tea most afternoons. I call B&B my daily brain and booty rest. By the way, Brook and Taylor are still at it!
I have been very good at keeping the secrets of others. There have been a few, none illegal – thank goodness! Being a confidential caretaker can take its toll. I know I lost a dear friendship in such a role. As time passed and relationship decisions were made, I could see that my knowing what had happened would be a hurdle and sure enough as time went on the friendship distanced and eventually ended. That secret though, I have never shared it.
As much as we all have our little secrets, we also love to divulge them especially if we can do so anonymously. It can be a great relief to spill the goods on ourselves in a manner that can never be traced. It’s fun and cheeky or sometimes a way to give some air to a deep ache.
What is your naughty little secret? Is it something funny or a cheeky revenge secret? Do you honour a secret anniversary that nobody else knows about? Have you spilled a secret that caused havoc?
Lost in the lovely chaos of Christmas and summer but better late than never. I found a little time somewhere in the holiday crazy wonderfulness to write a little, but forgot to post. I couldn’t leave it behind so here’s to a little late Christmas joy!
A white Christmas in Australia means sand between the toes! I have lived in the USA, the Middle East and in the UK and it is true that a cold, snowy Christmas or holiday season is truly exquisite for many. Steeped in traditions centered around crackling fires, delicious mulled wines, silly sweaters, beautifully lit churches, winter frolicking and snow sports, could it possibly get any better?
Well, not necessarily better – but certainly different, though still with all the joy and sparkle of celebrating family, friends and wishing to be generous and hopeful for all people.
Here in the summery southern hemisphere it’s all about the extended school holidays, beach, boating, chapel services under the stars and on the sand. Bare feet rule! Mulled wines give way to icy champagne and cranberry cocktails and chilled beers peeping metal heads out from icy blankets! Many of the trimmings are understandably different with an emphasis on outdoor cooking, seafood, seafood and more seafood. The retail organised chaos at the fish markets around the country claim the news headlines.
The handed down traditions from migration trails are alive and well this year and I tapped into them as I was hosting for the first time in our forever home having recently retired. I cooked chicken on the bone resting on cranberries and basted with an orange, ginger and garlic sauce. The potatoes were mashed with cream and parmesan and placed next to the sweet variety of spuds roasted in rosemary and garlic.
There was gravy, plenty of it – spiced with home grown herbs simmering as Paul Kelly’s, “I’ll be making gravy” blasts in the background interrupting the loop of more tradition Carols and the heavenly harmonies of ‘Na Leo’ from the Hawaiian Islands. Cold sliced ham and a fresh take on the Caesar salad – crisp baby cos with tips dipped in homemade dressing then panko crumbs with lashings of crispy bacon and no less than a dozen fresh eggs cooked with still bright yellow yokes, gives us a hot or cold option for the day. There has to be roasted carrots with almonds and plenty of greens tossed in butter. We went old style with a twist and celebrated at our long table overlooking the lake. Happy days with all the kids/young adults and their partners home with us and at the table dressed in a variety of swimmers and t-shirts! Christmas on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Bucket list worthy!
We started a new tradition this year. Borrowed from a dear friend of Texan origin who spent this holiday season grieving the loss of her husband and the father of her three exceptional young wonders. Shelly invited us to their home on Christmas Eve when we lived in Florida and we were warmly folded into their awesome long held tradition of Mexican fare for extended family and friends. This year we used her authentic recipes and all chipped in to cook up a feast – our new tradition in honor of the good times and friendship we shared with this beautiful family.
One final mention of the boat. Boxing day boating is a new treat for our family – new boat, new tradition. We packed drinks and munchies and loaded up the ‘Patricia Joan’ (named for my husband’s dear Mother who passed this year) to take the whole lot of us in various groups across the Pumicestone Passage to the white sands of Bribie Island. After such a wonderful but busy Christmas day, lolling about in the crystal waters was wonderful. Later as we sat in the shade of the umbrellas watching our precious three and their partners playing beach cricket in the water we could not have felt more blessed. Christmas and special holidays whether north or south of the poles are most special when shared with loved ones.