Round, rounded, roundabout

Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.                        J. R. R. Tolkien

No sharp edges, no straight lines. The challenge was to be more rounded.

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Shackled

Shackled.
Distracted by craving,
Greedy with hunger,
An appetite to create.

Eluded.
The subject remains hidden,
Blank pages unscathed by ink
Canvases bald.
Languishing.

Barren are the recesses of innovation.
Desolate—the wastelands of creativity.
No spark.
No glint or glimmer.
No muse.

An impoverished artist—
Defeated
Beaten
Cast away
Aching.

Accepting life’s plot twists

“Life is a story, if you wouldn’t read the one you’re telling, write a different ending.” Good Life Project

 “Would you want to read the story of your life?” Jonathan Fields asks in the Good Life Project podcast.  You know what, I actually wouldn’t and I realised in that moment that having taken a different path the plot of my story diverged and was reshaped.

I had a plan mapped out and before the plan could be realised, circumstances dictated I go another way. For several years I have craved to go where my heart had planned and now I realise a strong physical yearning has taken up residence in my core.

As the author of my life I know I can edit and rewrite my narrative at any stage. I am reassured that the strong pull I feel is confirmation that I haven’t missed the opportunity. That it isn’t too late to go where I had intended. That I may still develop that arc more fully and weave new adventures into the fabric of the tale.

Fields’ question helped me realise that even though the current plot line I’m living isn’t the most absorbing, it is purposeful and so one not to regret or lament. I realised too that there is still colour and texture and taste and smell. It it might not be the stuff of legend but it’s real and it’s honest and it’s part of the short time I have on this magnificent planet and therefore not to be erased or footnoted.

Armed with this reframing I understood I was still the main writer, that I could confidently tell my story identifying its richness and look forward to the time I can take that other path and explore it more fully.

Are you shining the best light on your story to make it worth reading?

 

 

Framed

 

If the eyes are windows to the soul, what are windows?

Arches, doorways and windows offer perfect frames through which to present the world.  These photos are a handful of the many, from my travels, that offered me a chance to observe and absorb the world in digestible portions. (Above: Duomo in Florence)

The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi—can’t believe my luck to have this view from both the restaurant table and my convent room window.

Ruins in Rome

A glimpse of the sea from my room in Riomaggiore

Within Rembrandt’s house museum, Amsterdam.

 

The curious act of collecting

“When we are collecting books, we are collecting happiness.”― Vincent Starrett

Losing interest in proceedings my mind wandered and was ignited by the idea of collecting. Curiously, this had no remote link to the lecture I was in.

Intrigued, I began following thought webs as they spun in seemingly random patterns. My mind’s eye posed snapshots; images of rooms full of collectables,  articles I’d read and interviews I’d seen with crafty and committed collectors.

I wondered, with the astounding diversity of collections, what compels us to collect things― stamps, coins, teapots, snow globes, dolls, Elvis memorabilia, matchboxes?  Is curiosity, interest or habit the driver? When did it all begin?

For a short time as a child I collected stamps. I was introduced to it by my father. While it wasn’t something I chose on my own my interest was definitely piqued by his old album of small pieces of paper from all over the world. I remember receiving bags of mixed, used stamps every few months, some still attached to envelopes, from a club I joined. I would spend hours gently  removing the torn envelopes, arrange the stamps by country, date, cost. In retrospect, it was a relaxing pursuit. I could do with some of the calm it bought me, now.

Some stamps were beautifully decorative, others simple and plain. The shapes too were a source of interest, for among the small and large squares and rectangles of all sizes were triangular stamps. There was a fascination too in wondering who had purchased that stamp, who had received a missive with the stamp glued to the  envelope. Of particular interest too was looking for the first edition stamps and envelopes printed in Australia. My father would take me to the post office to purchase these beautiful mint condition treasures. It was nice to share an interest together. Why it lapsed I don’t know. Age, school, lack of real drive and passion. Perhaps a combination.

I haven’t collected anything since, though I do love teapots and sweet antique tea cups and I have several of each but I wouldn’t class it as a collection, merely an interesting display in a cabinet. I do have a habit of picking up shells on the beach and random seed pods and dead leaves that interest me. I have a few glass vases and pottery bowls filled with these treasures.  Maybe they are collections after all? I wonder?

I have seen incredible collections compiled by people who have dedicated their lives to sourcing different versions of a single item. I love the look of a collection. I admire the dedication and the single-minded focus. I’m lazy. I don’t have the dedication to follow through as some do.

Collecting has a history. The Egyptians collected books at the Library of Alexandria. The Medici family, had the first private art collection. Of course our museums and art galleries are collection houses.

A Preston and Child crime novel introduced me to the idea of a “cabinet of curiosities” which was common among scholars, with the means and opportunity to acquire unusual items, from the 16th century onwards. Some of these collections were quite hideous indeed.

In time, with advances and improvements in the general standard of living and the emergence of leisure, more and more people had the means and opportunity to begin collections. But the question remains — why do we collect?

It’s at the core of the human psyche and there are several reasons collecting is a hobby pursued by many. As you might suspect, collecting often goes hand-in-hand with an interest in the objects collected and what they represent. For my friend, blue and white porcelain antiques reflect an interest in an age where delicate, beautiful objects of quality were produced.  There is an enchantment that emanates from a room of blue and white antiques.

Collecting is relaxing.  Tending to a collection is meditative. It can take the collector away from the stresses of life and provide a meaningful and satisfying pastime. I’ve visited a few model train expos and it is evident too that the social connections forged through a shared interest can be strong.

Then we go to the other end of the spectrum where compulsion is the motivator.  I’ve often thought of myself as obsessive and so have tried mightily to avoid or give up habits that see my compulsions escalate. I know for sure if I’d not found Pinterest my love of  tea cups and teapots would drive me, and my husband, to distraction and financial ruin. Pinterest allows me to collect without financial outlay, without having to worry about space, or breakages or dust.

A little tidbit that captured my attention is the link to our past. As hunters and gatherers we were primed to collect food and supplies for survival. Interestingly too, collecting is linked to memory and the making of meaning. The human brain, adept at cataloging and organising information,  associates meaning with objects.

My reverie into collecting was refreshed when, delighted, I came across the tribute (below) to collectors everywhere at the Swell Sculpture Festival. Do you have a collection? I would be interested to know what drives your passion.

Nature’s micro structures

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge from The Daily Post is for the topic:

STRUCTURE

Here’s the prompt the good people at The Daily Post offered:

Today, take a moment to notice the structure of everyday things around you. Note the lines, freckles, and tiny hairs on your arm, and imagine the biological blueprint that created them. See the bricks of a building, and realize that they were individually placed there by another person. Then, share with us a photo of the structure of something wonderful. We’re eager to see details through your lens.

There are examples of structure all around us.  I am fascinated by the intricate way things fit together and work in conjunction with each other.  I marvel at architectural structure and the process of building but my focus today went to the natural environment. With so much on offer I could not settle on one image, nor do the several below fully sate my curiosity.

Looking into the micro structures of life

The spaces we inhabit are extensions of us

“Houses are like the human beings that inhabit them.”
— Victor Hugo

I have owned only two houses in my life. The first for seventeen years. It was heart wrenching to leave having inhabited the space for so long, seen my children grow there and begun my married life there. It was my first really grown up thing to own.

It flooded you see. After a huge renovation that transformed the house it was inundated with filthy flood waters in 2011. While others left the area, part of our house was still habitable but changed. The sense of peace and tranquility we’d established felt sullied. Each time the rains came, panic rose in my chest. Would we flood again?

So having loved that space and the surrounding area we made the difficult decision to leave. Four years on, I feel really comfortable and settled. I inhabit a new space. A large, open, light space. On a hill. Each nook and cranny of this space reflects our personalities. It’s comfortable and convenient, close to the city and facilities yet tucked away from the hustle and bustle with a forest close by.

Now, my beloved and I find ourselves at a new juncture of our lives. Nearing retirement, with a moderate debt still in play. We have discussed ways to become financially independent. One solution is to downsize. My anxiety levels rise at the thought. I feel like I belong here. There are so many positive reasons to stay. There are so many features of where we live we couldn’t find elsewhere for a fraction of the price.

We’re at a crossroad.

I know it’s only a house we inhabit and that it’s the people you are with that make life full and worthwhile. I do know that. I also like comfort and beauty and space. It is more than just the house too.  One becomes settled in a place, part of the landscape, especially when that landscape appeals to the senses, as the river did (before it flooded) and the forest now does.

There is another element in our mix. Do we stay in this city, my beloved’s hometown, or do we move to a much-loved holiday destination in the Blue Mountains? Crossing state borders as well as a new threshold.

Why is it so hard to make these decisions about a material possession? Well, I think it’s because, for me at least, my home is my safe place. My retreat from the world and a place I can craft to express myself. A house is not just a place to inhabit but a place that creatively reflects who we are. Location too plays a role, as mentioned earlier. Where we live is as much an extension of us, or we become and extension of it, as much as the house itself.

What is special about the place you inhabit?

Ooze

The vile, fetid sludge oozes like a toxic vapour from every pore. The noxious cocktail of disheartened discontentment is an infection that oozes like pus from a boil. Once lanced virile, vibrant positivity radiates in its stead.

It’s Monday


Wake up. It’s dawn.
The birds are rousing.
It’s time to meditate, to enjoy the freedom of a morning walk, in the still quiet landscape.

Shoes off, shower running, dress for the day
Eat breakfast, grab lunch
It’s 7am and the trance begins.

Leave sanctuary behind,
Join the queues
Locate a car park
Slump into the lift, with the other drones.
Computer on.

Trance is in full swing

The fog is thick
Meetings endured
Briefs written.
Where is the colour?

Hark! The signal to depart.
Escape
Freedom

The trance is broken; for now.