Category Archives: How

Four Books Of Impact.


Words of wisdom and wonder, which change lives…

Many of us – most of us – have a portion of our life filled with regret. Or worse…nothing.
The feeling of being empty? That is worse than the feeling of sorrow, whether for loss, for past decisions, past actions, or past words. We look for answers, from “someone”, or “something”, and may find a temporary shift in our mood or being.
A guru here, a life-coach there, a member of this or that church, a friend, an elder relative…we turn to any or all of them. We go to our medical practice, to a counseling service, a retreat, a clinic…we seek what we need in any or all of them. We distract ourselves from our real needs by filling the void with people in groups or clubs in which we have no real interest; we go on a shopping spree; we go on a drinking binge – alone, or with other people…we try to find what we’re looking for anywhere.

Does it work? Do any of them work?
Some do, whether by coincidence – a connection between the ‘source’ and our situation, or real effect. Some don’t – from a lack of connection between the ‘source’ and our situation, or lack of a real background of applied theory.
Me? I’ve not had a lifetime of settled emotions, nor of constant good health. I’ve had times when I’ve faced misery, misfortune and misjudgment. Having a vivid imagination hasn’t helped keep my head clear of disruptive thoughts (“stinking thinking”, as it is known in some circles). I’ve blame-shifted. I’ve grown my resentment by never expressing it to anyone who mattered. I’m guilty of having at times expected more than was possible of myself, and worse, of others in my life. I’ve chased my own ‘gurus’ of one type or another. Neh – hasn’t worked.

Time for a change! Time for a kick up the proverbial. And I have to be the one to do it! I got myself into this mess – and that being unknowingly, does not change who’s responsible for where I go to from here. I have to make the change – me, myself, on my own.
But…but where to start?
Books.  Why not? A one-off price, available at any time you need, the facility to return to earlier sessions and review what you’ve faced, learned, or wondered at. Portable. Permanent.  You can annotate them, highlight, turn corners down to mark great passages (hold that ‘gasp’, please – bear with me here… Oh, alright, you can tuck a card bookmark in them). And now, the question arises :: Which Books?

cover_King james BibleWell, the Holy Book is a start.
Christian or not, I’ve lugged my Bible with me wherever I’ve lived. Firstly a small version of only The Bible, now a fully annotated King James Version. I hear a quote, and check the whole Chapter. Maybe even that before and that after the one I’m reading.
Please take note: the Christian Bible is not the only Holy Book.
The Torah to those of the Jewish faith, and the Koran for those of the Muslin faith, are of equal significance to their people. All three religions are collectively known as the Faiths of The Book – and not for nothing.

For me, coming back to The Bible arose from a most unusual inspirational book. For my last year (to my shame) I had spent my non-learning moments at a Catholic Convent Girls’ Boarding School – as a “day girl” – denigrating the Catholic beliefs. This for the spiteful reason of denigrating the school, inadequate as it was. But the nuns (and my parents) had more patience (tolerance) than I had realized. I could not get myself expelled for any reason. So, because of my determination to “strike” during my whole last year of compulsory education, I never did qualify.
{Grumbles to self – “All that work for nothing!”

cover_Mr God This is AnnaThe book which brought me back to the Bible was an unusual one. A tale of a London dock-worker who late one night on the street befriends by accident a four-year old child. At home, his mother and the rest of the household discover the child has been a victim of physical abuse. She never leaves their home, but attaches herself to the writer.
He in turn is educating himself, and as the girl observes his gadgets being created and working, and as he observes her “way” of interacting with other dock-side people, and questioning Sunday Services and other people’s interaction, each helps the other come to understand life…and God.
Even in the sadness of the final scene, there is a moving message.
The book is Mister God, This Is Anna, by Fynn. Look for editions which include the Foreword written by the then Archbishop of Canterbury. This is the book which made me do more than drop in on the Bible, but read it – a continuing process.

Now, what brought this post about…I am struggling with artist’s block. And I’ve been looking all around the wide, wonderful web, at blog, self-help and writers’ help sites, reading how other writers deal with this. If I’d saved everything I’d read, I’d fill an external hard-drive. Then, I found mention of firstly, “Morning Pages”, and then of a particular book. Reviews on Amazon, and blog posts describing and recommending it, led me to the author’s website. As soon as I read the website’s content, I shot back to Amazon, and purchased it.

cover_Artists WayIt is The Artist’s Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron. Mine is the 25th Anniversary Edition – that alone helped me decide it was worth a shot. When it arrived, I browsed the contents (read the T O C), and began with the Foreword and Introduction. There arose a glimmer of hope.
This is more than an artist’s self-help book. It is a life book! Ms. Cameron’s guide to self-examination is presented as weekly readings, with probing self-analysis, questions to ask oneself, and suggestions for finding the answers. Hers is the concept of “Morning Pages”, of which I’d begun written a few while awaiting delivery of her book—albeit not every morning.
The Artist’s Way applies to all the arts, design, and creativity in general—and writing is one of the creative arts. I began Week One, and within only two days discovered something important bout myself and my artistic efforts in the past. (I continued through the first week’s Tasks, and am writing this as part of the end-of-week Check In.)
My discovery about my past art attempts has led me to renew my interest in visual art. Which leads me to the fourth book of impact.

cover_Drawing With ChildrenThe fourth book? Back in the 90s, I was laid up recuperating for plastic surgery for metastatic melanoma. Well, not really “laid up” – being in that state was to wait for the late 2000s – but resting each day in a LazyBoy chair, leg raised. I had a book in a back room which I’d bought for using to teach drawing to children, but never at that point opened and read. I asked for it to be brought to me, and a pencil.   By reading through the beginner activities in Drawing With Children *, by Mona Brookes, and trying some of the tasks (drawing in the wide margins) I found I could draw. I drew a self-portrait, from my reflection in a nearby wall mirror. I drew a perfect drawing of my jacket which had been left for days draped from the back of a chair, in such a way that both the outer side (dark blue, with metal studs for fasteners) and the lining (a broad tartan) in view.
So confidant I felt after creating those drawings, I began using Brookes’ method in my Junior Primary classes, for three years. Moving on to HOD of the Intermediate division of a secondary school, I applied the techniques there as well.

Sadly, I decided to quit teaching. Nothing to do with the job—more to do with the ridiculous over assessment required under the most recently deployed new curricula.
Even more sadly, after graduating in IT, I “culled” my teaching books collection, and tossed the Brookes’ Drawing With Children.
But, since beginning to read The Artist’s Way, I have bought a later edition of Drawing With Children.
* (My first copy was the edition with a child’s drawing of an elephant on its cover.)

All four of these books have given me inspiration, understanding, and courage. I am so grateful to have all four beside my bed, to read and refer to regularly.
I would strongly recommend any of these as a “must have” in your book shelves.

Please, share your views on any one of these books, or any other book you have found inspiring to your artist.

 

How to Write Effective Constructive Criticism


Good advice for any writer, and especially those who are asked to critique a work in progress.

little dahlia

Have you wanted to help a writer, but wasn’t sure what to say? Have others asked for your critique or have you simply wanted to improve your critiquing skills?

That’s what this guide is for! I’ll be going over the general steps that need to be taken along with tips on how to do them.

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21 House-hold Cost Cutters


21 Household Cost-Cutters

  1. Budget, budget, budget
  2. Allow your children to learn–let them see the budget, till runners, household bank statements, the bills and paying them, parents discussing the monthly household running costs
  3. Buy long-store consumables in bulk for discount–but not if they require refrigeration or freezer costs to keep
  4. Eat healthily–reduce illnesses and doctors’ and prescription fees
  5. Everyone exercises–(walking or cycling, sport, gardening, a recreational activity) to avoid bad muscle tone and health conditions, and avoid gym costs
  6. Keep the children’s allowances low–open a savings account for each one
  7. All boarders pay for their keep—even your children after leaving school
  8. VOIP—do away with that telephone bill each month
  9. Combine gas and electricity providers—possible dual fuel discounts
  10. Internet banking—pay an estimated “half” of the bill a fortnight before the complete amount is due
  11. AutoPay—avoid late fees
  12. Grow your own fruit and vegetables–organic is cheaper than chemical gardening
  13. Search for bargains on essentials–online or in catalogues
  14. Forget fashion–practical is longer lasting
  15. Everyone in the house learns basic clothing care and repair–even makeover dressmaking
  16. Buy on LayBy–get what you want without any price hikes while it waits until you have all the money saved
    • Chart children’s LayBy payments so they see how many more payments to go.
  17. Pay off the highest interest credit card or overdraft first–no matter what
  18. Call your credit card supplier and arrange a temporary spending block on it–ensure it’s Your choice when to unblock it
    • As the balance drops, arrange for a reduction in the allowed overdraft
  19. Learn to do without–especially it’s not within your budget
  20. Get rid of the DVD player and the DVD hire card
    • Prefer reading – the library is free
  21. Sell redundant kitchen gadgets–they use $$ to run them, whereas hand equipment is cheaper to buy and free to use

How to “Burn” Your Hubby*


* and destroy kitchen equipment.

A five-part series of instructions…with notes and photographs of evidence

How to “Burn” Hubby p’t 1

  1. Decide to assist in preparing for cooking the evening meal
  2. Choose to prep for cooking the quickest vege option—frozen mixed vegetables
  3. Prep the Pyrex jug
  4. Prep the wax paper ready to be used to cover the veges.
  5. Tear off the roll a square of waxed paper, fold it in four—wax surface inside
  6. Mould it over the base of the jug

1 mould  the wax paper 1 ready for food to be added

7. Place it inside the jug, ready for veges to be added. Place in obvious sight.

How to “Burn” Hubby p’t 2

Leave hubbby to the cooking.

How to “Burn” Hubby p’t 3

  1. Hear hubby rage: “[expletive]! It’s burning!”
  2. Watch hubby burn hand as throws open the microwave door and grabs the smoking jug’s handle
  3. Wait as he waits for it to cool
  4. Watch hubby as he lifts the jug—and the microwave dish is stuck to it.
  5. Watch as he places them onto the plastic cutting board.
  6. Notice the burnt wax paper
  7. Notice he’s right – no veges had been added
  8. Listen to him blaming you for leaving the paper in the jug as if the veges were in there already.
  9. Refrain from pointing out he could have checked, or noticed the light weight of the empty jug.
  10. Decide to eat the meat and potatoes.

How to “Burn” Hubby p’t 4

  1. Listen to the “crackle” as the cooling glass cracks.
  2. Watch hubby struggle to separate the jug from the microwave dish
  3. Watch hubby as he forces to separate the microwave dish from the plastic cutting board
  4. Tell hubby you’re going to take photographs and blog all the instructions, with illustrations
  5. Wait until he’s gone out for a walk and take photographs

Below and right, burnt wax paper, melted Pyrex jug

3 after cooking non-existent food 4 wax paper and jug

Below and right — close up of the melted, crazed Pyrex,
and its size can be seen under the right pic of its off-balanced effect

5 base of jug 6 bubble on the bottom

Below, the melted dimple where hubby placed the lot to cool down.
Below right, the melted dimple in the microwave dish

7 plastic chopping board 8 microwave dish

Close up of the microwave’s new dimple

8a dimple in the dish

Post-event review next morning

  • The “half-bubble”, concave dimple in the dish is cracked—“work-around” until replacement found?
  • Place an inverted pyrex casserole dish upside down over the turnatble centre. Back to stirring and turning over food while cooking.
  • The jug’s swollen crackled “bubble” has crumbled. Jug totally “expletive”
  • The cutting board is “expletive”.
  • Buy replacement turntable dish online and await delivery

How to “Burn” Hubby p’t 5

  1. Blog it, with illustrations.
  2. Include in the blog a Poll “Whose fault was it?”

_____________________________________________________________

A:         Your’s — you should have left the jug with the paper cover beside it.

B:         Hubby’s — he should have checked before he baked it all
_____________________________________________________________

Readers are welcome to respond ‘A’ or ‘B’ as a Comment.

5 Parenting Tips for Dummies


– or, How Not to Parent: a complicated subject I know about, and will explain it to a friend who knows nothing about it at all.

Okay, fellow parent-dummy. Here are a few tips… picked up from my own muck-ups, and observations on what Not to do.
Unless you want to be a parent-dummy, of course.

First Tip (i.e. My worst muck-up)

If you’re a teacher and contemplating an impending childbirth – Keep right on Teaching!
I did for my first trimester, then quit. BUT (second child at school, and me teaching as a reliever a class of ages eleven to twelve) I took my third baby to visit my class, all of whom fell over themselves in the rush to see what Mrs S. had produced. And, believe it or not, those rushing most were the boys. They were so sweet with my baby daughter, (and confided so accurately (as I was advised quietly by the Principal, later) the inadequacies of their replacement teacher) I softened up, and baby was in day care full time from three months to when she was of school age. And I kept teaching. For years.

Now we have all joked how the last person to fix a dripping tap at home is the parent who is a plumber. Similarly, if married to an electrician, one does not expect the fuse to be replaced, nor the hair drier to be repaired. The gardener is the last person on whom to call for landscaping his own garden.
Sad to say, a tired teacher at end of day finds it hard to interact as a mother to the children at home.

Second Tip (i.e. A Dummy move some parents do make)
Buy for your crawler rug-rat those books with tags, tabs, flip-ups etc.
Supposed to involve the young ‘un in the story, it doesn’t do it. It teaches them that books are tactile things, not something with a story to which baby listens, until years later s/he reads it on his/her own for pleasure in both the story and the achievement.

The worst of these “action” books I’ve ever seen, after five weeks only, had been chewed on, slobbered on, and ripped, torn, shredded… Nngaargh!

Third Tip (i.e. Another dummy move some make)

Take on all the parenting. After all, your partner has worked so hard all day to earn the family income … you cannot expect him/her to bath children, serve the evening meal, feed the baby, clear the table, do the dishes, fold the nappies (diapers) and other laundry … relaxation is a right, at the end of a working day!

This will result in the child/ren feeling they can totally ignore their working parent in matters of discipline, advice, school support, etc. and may also result in the children feeling Mum’s too tough, doesn’t understand.
Worse, it can lead to the children learning to play one parent off against the other.
If the working partner resents being asked to parent – sorry, you picked a wrong ’un; should have discussed this ‘way back before conceiving.

Fourth Tip (i.e. Another of my muck-ups)
Choose a day-care facility at which the staff greet your child first thing with
“Good morning {name}, don’t you look good today!”

Instead, demand they compliment your child with a remark on how they have managed preparing themselves for the day. For example:
“Good morning, {name}—haven’t you combed your hair well /chosen sensible clothes for the sandpit, today!” (Or similar)
See Fifth Tip for further explanation….

Fifth Tip (i.e. Another of my muck-ups)
Buy your young daughter a Barbie, a Barbie-clone, a Bratz…doll. Continue buying the doll new outfits, accessories, play houses…all the shite the brand can push.

From this she will learn appearance is everything, not accomplishment. She will throw hissy fits in the mornings because she’s already worn that outfit to kindy, and while her histrionics may give a sense of parental pride in her drama abilities, her self esteem will become reliant on other people’s real or imagined opinions.
Girls with low self-esteem are fair game in their teens for all sleaze bags.
Boys with low self-esteem may defy it with bullying, manipulation, or maybe by finding a sympathetic male figure.

🔹🔸🔹🔸🔹

I could go on and give more tips for Parenting for Dummies, but this is titled 5 Tips, so that’s it for now.  I Hope you enjoyed this bit of fun, and I didn’t upset or offend you.

Writing “in my zone” – (Daily Prompt)


“The zone” – that particular set of circumstances: location, time, space, sound which provide the mood, the momentum, the mindset to become so enrapt in your work it becomes no longer only work, but an obsession  that consumes a day or more… comes to me when the cat is satiated on the extra treats hubby slips her before he left for work, my carers have done their  and left, and I have the house to myself.

First, the coffee – good and hot, plenty of it.
Then the music – do I want quantity today? Hard rock.
(Am I editing/proofing for quality? Ambience-stroke-new age.)

Next – which computer – the one in the sunny warm room which gets the north sun but reflects every glaring light source, or the one on the south side which looks onto a boring road and across it to a boring factory wall. Usually the sunny room wins, so part of getting into the zone entails finding my BRITTEN peaked cap to blinker my eyes.

A few moments of quiet to review yesterday’s progress (or none), then the music, and very shortly I’m there.

I will not hear a door knock or bell. I will forget lunch until my meds alarm sounds off. I will not see the clouds come across the sky, darken the room and drench what may have been dry laundry out on the line. I will not notice that the only light source is the computer screen. I will not have started dinner when hubby walks in and has to remind me that with curtains wide open all around the house I am wasting power costs trying to warm the Antarctic.

But I will have been in my own world, with my characters, fighting their fights, loving their lovers, riding their ranges for a good seven hours or more. It’s a drag, that return journey.

(This post inspired by http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/daily-prompt-zone/.  Thanks)