t is 100 years since the ANZACS stepped ashore at Gallipoli.
It's been a few months since I've posted. Life has happened and challenged me in many ways, but I am a better person for having come through the struggles. It has been a time to learn about the person I am and how I see the world. The start of the new year is a good time for me to get back into blogging and re-joining the world.
The first week of school has ended and I feel excited even though my son has left the family nest and is on his unique journey of life. Today I reflect on the first week of the home schooling years. Back to when the box of books and lessons arrived on the door step. We opened the box with curiosity and anticipation. What would the theme of Dan's learning be this year?
There is no other smell that comes close to that of new books. For me it brings pleasant memories of hours spent in the library, choosing books, checking them out and taking them home where I anxiously waited for the first quiet moment when I could sit and let the words fill my imagination and take me places.
This week, students all over Australia opened books, smelled the freshness of new paper and hopefully are looking forward to the year with anticipation and curiosity as they learn academically, socially, physically and spiritually. For some students, school isn't greeted with the same enthusiasm. I feel for you. You require a different approach to learning and life, but I believe schools are looking for new and innovative ways to help you, too. To all the students from prep to university and mature aged, grasp hold of these opportunities, learn much, but most of all have fun.
I write this post with tears in my eyes. I woke up early this morning thinking about Anzac Day and the mothers of the young soldiers who left Australia in November, 1914 to fight half way around the world. My chest tightened with fear and sadness as I put myself in the mother's shoes visualising my twenty-one year old son leaving for foreign shores to fight an unseen enemy. I can't describe the pain and anguish that clenched my heart so hard I could hardly breathe. The women didn't know how long their men would be away for, or if they would ever see them again.
Some mothers lost two, three or more sons as well as their husband. The pain must have been indescribable. It is often said that time heals, but I'm sure the ache is carried in these mother's hearts until they die. Likewise, the men and women who came back with the memories and/or injuries of the events shared with their mates who didn't make it would leave a perpetual agony inside them for those lives lost. I'm sure they wish it had been them who had died instead of their mates. The soldiers march today with memories and, I'm sure, feeling the presence of their mates beside them while they pray for future generations that they will be spared the pain that war brought to them.
What impresses me about the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in the early part of last century was their eagerness to serve the mother country, Great Britain. They held an allegiance in their hearts that spurred them on to want to protect. Their efforts have given us the freedom we enjoy today.
Thank you men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and to all those who have returned, I honour you. You live with the memories of war every day. That can't be easy. To all our soldiers who've served on foreign land since Gallipoli and are serving today, I salute you, too, for your willingness to serve and protect lives throughout the world. Please know that your courage and work inspires others. Anzac Day is your day to accept, without reservation, the admiration and respect of our community . Thank you for the priceless gift of yourself to Australia and New Zealand.
Lest we forget...
Did you know there's a lot of similarities between doing a jigsaw puzzle and writing a book?
Several years ago, I completed a jigsaw puzzle of an orchestra. It was all musical instruments, bald heads and red noses. It was a challenge and it was fun. I worked the jigsaw to keep my mind quiet and focused during an extremely busy time in my life. Putting all the pieces together helped in reducing stress when I felt my life was out of control.
I also found the shapes, splashes of colour and the slotting together of all those shapes and colours aided my creativity as I planned my manuscript. Ideas for my work come to me at different times and places. I jot them down on loose pieces of paper or in my trusty notebook with its worn, grubby edges. When I'm ready to start a new writing project, I have my puzzle pieces to hand, ie., the research content, characters, plot ideas, and setting. I sort and swap, change and rearrange all these elements together to make the plot of my new novel. I approach my jigsaws in the same way. I paddle my fingers through all the pieces, searching for all the straight edges and when that outline is finished, I start filling in the middle.
While I'm writing and puzzling, I have my earphones on and listen to my favourite musician, James Andrew Black. These two activities keep me focused and in the world I've created until the work is done. An added bonus is being able to rest the eyes on colour and shape, which is a great relief after looking at black and white text for extended periods.
Recently, I understood why the travelling around Australia exercise sabotaged my writing. I had no jigsaw puzzle time while writing Web of Lies and this project took much longer than I'd planned. Now, I'm one hundred percent focused on my new novel, Broken Dreams, working title. My new jigsaw, of two swimming dolphins, a Christian Riese Lassen puzzle, is laid out on my dining room table, ready for me to place random pieces whenever I get up and walk around to release the tension in my shoulders from hunching over the keyboard. By the time I finish writing my first draft, the puzzle is done, too. It's also a great visual tool to monitor the progress on my novel, as the puzzle comes together so does my manuscript.
I'm preparing my first novel, African Hearts, for uploading to Amazon. As I prepared the text, I was drawn to the conversation where Kam and Gina are on Monkey Rock taking some time out to look at the elephants washing in the creek down in the valley. To this time Gina has been challenged by village life in more ways than one. She questions Kam about belonging and what it means to belong. She also challenged me when I re-read this scene. I've just returned to the Gold Coast, so I began to think about the word 'belong', and a question came into my head: Does anyone belong anywhere?
I don't know about you, but I use this word lightly in conversation, especially where the meaning of life comes up. I looked up the dictionary and realised I've used this word incorrectly for most of my life.To belong is to be possessed, as in an item to be owned by someone. No wonder I became confused whenever I thought about where I belonged.
So what words should I be using instead of 'belong'. After much thought and free writing on this subject, I've come to the conclusion that belong is not a good word when we're meaning we want to 'fit in'. We don't want to be anyone's possession, we want to be a contributing part of a group, helping others and ourselves fit in, and sharing ideas with each other.
Kam thought he wanted to work as a surgeon in that big hospital in Kampala and Gina has been confused for some time about where she fits in; back in Australia or in Gumboli? So I've come to the conclusion they're talking about their life's purpose.
Nobody can own another person, however, they can live together contributing to and sharing a lifestyle and encouraging each other on their life journey. Is this the issue that Kam and Gina were dancing around while they were up at Monkey Rock? I've changed this scene and all the other belonging issues in the e-version of African Hearts. Watch this space for the new cover and when it will be available on Amazon for download to your Kindle.
So, I'm left to ponder further: belong is a strange word, I wonder where it belongs? I'm eager to hear your thoughts.