Round the World 2016

PART 1 – Oxford UK

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 Ostensibly our trip to Oxford was to share hugs with Katelyn, Steve, Miles (9) and Julian (7). They are in the last few months of their overseas experience in the UK. They head to France, Italy and the US from here at the end of next week. It’s been great to catch up with them, but also to appreciate the historical and eclectic ambience and architecture of this incredible seat of learning.


The weather has been superb, with blue skies and a couple of Spring showers yesterday, which brought the blossoms “raining down”. The vividness of the flowers and blossoming trees along with the hi-tech buses with wi-fi freely available has made it an enjoyable sojourn for us.

 

 

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The death of my son

For half his life my son, Jarrod Allison fought the demon of mental illness. Multiple suicide attempts, and hospitalisations, despite expert psychiatric care, loving family and some amazing friends were the story of his life. His illness and injuries sustained in his first suicide attempt ultimately resulted in social isolation, inability to work, and paralysing anxiety. Though he loved his bodyboarding, golf and basketball he became unable to do what he loved. His family and close friends supported him but love could not remove the mental anguish. We are free now to lift the lid on another example of family sadness. Jarrod ended his life knowing he was loved.

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Loved by so many

We are so comforted by all the beautiful posts, cards, words and thoughts others are sharing with us about Jarrod.

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A new creative outlet

In the space of a week I encountered a synchronicity of experiences relating to creative writing. On Sunday 26th October I heard the author, Fiona MacIntosh, speak about her research for her newest novel, “Nightingale”. She talked of the masterclasses she had engaged in with Bryce Courtenay, having only started writing 14 years ago, and gave her audience great encouragement to write the story within them. Later the same week, I heard the ABC891 Drivetime Presenter, Michael Smyth, speak with someone about the NaNoWriMo phenomenon – National Novel Writing Month – which has spread internationally. NaNoWriMo encourages people to write everyday for the month of November, commencing a novel and completing the month with 50000 words. When I heard of this my immediate thought was that it was likely to spur my younger daughter to get back into her passion for creative writing. I shared the concept with her, and offered to write also as a writing buddy and encourager. I never thought I had it in me to write creatively, especially for a public forum. However here I am at Day 4 having written 6500 words of a novel focussing on life in the Middle East. I cannot believe the excitement I am experiencing as I write. I write before I go to sleep at night. I write before I get out of bed in the morning. I write in the afternoon. And the words keep flowing. It is a new and thrilling experience for me – the process of creatively expressing myself in the printed word.

As if to affirm this, on Conversations with Richard Feidler on ABC891 at 11am today contained an interview with the wife of the late Bryce Courtenay. She was speaking of Bryce’s book, A Silver Moon, being published posthumously. The book is not a novel. It is Bryce’s writing, when he didn’t have a deadline to meet, a novel to produce. He believed it was necessary to have people in all generations writing. If the writing results in a published book it serves the nation as a product. It provides continuing work for people in the publishing chain, and promotes the written word, which serves the future as a record of the history of our society.

I have written weekly to my parents, since leaving Melbourne with my family in December 1978, apart from holiday breaks although I would always send a postcard. Even when I lived in the Middle East, I wrote emails to them through my sister. I thrive on their letter every week, and I know the feeling is mutual. Through my letters, recalling events of our lives, shared memories, news of their great-grandchildren, and travelogues of our trips into the outback, I have written as if I was talking with them over coffee.

I found when I set myself to begin writing my Middle Eastern novel, which I now realise has been percolating in me since living there from November 2008 to April 2010, that I was able to let the words flow, as if I was retelling a story to my parents. I am not writing critically, or allowing myself to be controlled the inner editor my daughter speaks of. I have no grandiose plans that this will be a best selling novel and will secure my future for me.

It is part of my ongoing learning since retiring that the mantra “I must be productive and achieve” is a disservice to a balanced life and a healthy mind. It is sufficient to be kind, to be helpful, and creative just for my own personal expression and well being. My focus is on living a simple life now, being a social activist through social media, and appreciating the ordinariness of each day.

So I am returning to my blog with a new enthusiasm – to record my reflections about life, just for the sake of enjoying the process of writing.

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Is it in my best interests?

When options present themselves through the day/

Just ask this question to keep you sane/

Is it in my best interests?

With resolve weigh up options/

And follow where your thoughts lead/

Listen to your body/

Listen to your heart/

Follow your values/

This pathway/

Protects/

You.

another 10 to 1 by Dorothy in the Land of Oz

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What did you learn today?

Every day’s chances to learn something new

Are windows of opportunities

To open our minds and our souls

To receive the beautiful,

The hopeful, grain of truth

New exciting paths

And directions

Blessing

All.

another 10 to 1 by Dorothy in the Land of Oz

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Mindfulness

I notice the warble of the maggies/

and the crowing of the large black crows/

My mind is in tune with nature/

Sounds of footsteps, sounds of life/

Just being near water/

Ebbing and flowing/

Today is new/

Breath flows/

Through.

another 10 to 1 by Dorothy in the land of Oz

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