By Vita Forest
As some of you know, I have just experienced “The Great Flood” of 2016, where a hidden hot-water tank exploded, flooding most of my flat with water and destroying wooden floorboards, carpet and parts of the magnesite underlay… all while I was over five hundred kilometres away.
It meant I could not live in my home for over six weeks (and the “unexpected renovation” is still not quite complete – carpet will be laid next week).
It was an interesting time, with some lovely family and friends lending me and my kids their homes while we waited on ours to be repaired. The kids’ Dad even had them for some extra time which was very helpful.
But when we were together, it was interesting to discover what we needed to make ourselves feel at “home”, to make ourselves feel safe and at ease. (I have just started teaching a unit on The Need for Shelter where my little people of six, seven and eight were able to articulate that shelters make us feel safe and relaxed as well as providing protection from danger – how wise they are!)
For Max and Lucy, what they needed most was familiar bedding. Despite the comfy beds and bedding on offer, they quickly requested their own sheets (flannette – delightful in our Sydney winter), their own pillows and their own doonas when next I visited the shell of our flat to feed the cats. I too retrieved my doona from the garage, the familiarity of its weight and the design on the cover, bringing a slight unclenching of the muscles around my neck.
What else made me feel “normal?”
- there was my silver triangle necklace hung like a talisman around my neck during the day and tipped like a handful of sand through my palm at night, to land and settle in a little mound on various bedside tables.
- a change of glasses every now and then (it’s what you can do when you buy 5 pairs from Dresden Optics at a cheaper price than your single last purchase).
- some good comfort reading (Fleur rang me after reading a This Week post and discovering I was rereading Possession – things must be bad!)
- my black leather boots which I practically lived in, good for work and short moments of play. They became my uniform, one less thing to think about.
- my pink notebook and a sharp lead pencil to get some of the junk out of my head and to continue exploring ideas for blogging.
- my phone – rather than a laptop – how many phone calls, notes, google searches, blog posts did I do on that tool over those weeks?
It’s not much really. Not much stuff that I needed. And now I am sorting through the cupboards and boxes and piles in the garage and am finding we can get rid of a lot of it. I do tend to lean towards minimalism and this experience has confirmed that trait.
What do you think? Do you have a security necklace too?
By Vita Forest
A to Z challenge April 2016
A few days ago, I signed up to the Blogging from A to Z April 2016 Challenge
which certainly sounds challenging. Basically, participants have to do a post a day for the whole of April, with Sundays off for a bit of a breather. The first post should be about something beginning with A, the second B, and so on, until we reach Z at the end of April…
I have thought of a few topics and plan to write a mixture of Travel-type observation posts, but with the bulk of them being intensive flash-fiction sessions to build my creative writing muscles. I will give myself a time limit and a topic and produce… something. There are few topics for longer works that I might start exploring too.
Apparently, some bloggers have written all their posts already and will just post them in the coming month, but not me I’m afraid. I have made some rather nice pictures containing the letters of the alphabet, but that is as far as my preparation has gone. So good luck everybody! Looking forward to seeing some fine work and discovering new blogs.
It’s really going to be a challenge. Come along for the ride!
By Vita Forest
Seen this year
It’s time to look back at 2015 and be grateful for the year that was.
In 2015 I am grateful for:
- my children and family. My children continue to develop into insightful, quirky and genuinely good people. They impress me with their resilience and energy. My family as always, loyal and down to earth.
- my friends, new and old, for their inspiration, honesty, support and acceptance. Lots of laughs this year.
- my job, this is the year I won a permanent teaching job. Phew! Makes life a little easier and it’s
- meaningful work, where what I do has real effect, where I work with inspiring people who care and make a difference, where children feel valued and have the opportunity to shine in their own special way.
- my home, never underestimate the value of having a peaceful nourishing place to refresh, reflect and relax. A place to feel safe and in control.
- my health, both physical and mental. Not much you can do without it.
- my creative outlets and the satisfaction they provide. Whether teaching, writing, crafting, knitting, designing, choreographing, directing or blogging, creativity has made me feel alive right to my nerve endings.
- books and their opportunities for escape, new understandings, experiences and delight. They have been the source of many lively discussions with family, friends, students and even strangers. At school this year we devoured Fearless, Matilda and Harry Potter (amongst others). At home I discovered the wonders of Barbara Trapido and Cheryl Strayed.
- adventures both near and far, beach holidays, bush walks, art galleries, museums, gardens, city and coastal walks, festivals, music and visits to Canberra to see my friend Fleur and to float in colour in James Turrell’s Perceptual cell.
- the great outdoors. I am lucky to live in Sydney where nature spoils us.
What are you grateful for in 2015?
By Vita Forest
Hats off to some fabulous blogs
Earlier this week I had a surprise. Jen from A Venturing Girl has nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award! Thank you Jen and please check out her lovely blog too.
I only started this blog in July, so am pretty new to the blogosphere, but am enjoying it so much. It has been a wonderful way to connect with so many people – around the world and here in Sydney, both on and off-line.
Jotterizing started as a place for me to practise writing, to become disciplined, to explore topics of interest and to connect with like-minded people. You can read more on this here.
Some advice to new bloggers…
- schedule it into your week/month/whatever time-frame and stick to it. Give yourself permission to post things that you don’t think are perfect. This is not your novel, this is your blog – get it out there!
- be prepared to be surprised – ideas for posts come from the strangest places. Be open.
It’s been wonderful seeing what others out there are doing too. So many creative and hardworking individuals. Thank you for your generosity and bravery. I’d like to nominate the following blogs for the Blogger Recognition Award:
The Daily Think
A Narcissist writes letters, to himself
Follow your bliss
Through open lens
The Stone Soup
Things we like
James Radcliffe. com
A little bird tweets
The Renegade Press
Aniket Sharma Photography
Ann Wood Handmade
If you blog appears in the above list, here are the rules of the Blogger Recognition Award:
- Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you
- Give a brief story of how your blog got started
- Give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers
- Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog
- List those you’ve nominated in the post and comment on their blogs to let them know you’ve nominated them.
If you haven’t seen the blogs above, take a look! They are great!
By Vita Forest
I was here
Above is my submission for Chart Collective’s “I WAS HERE True micro-stories set where you stand” initiative. I made the meme yesterday, adding some appropriate theatrical bling by way of a photo of an old dance costume of Lucy’s.
There were a lot of restrictions on this piece of writing (which I like as you may know). These included:
- the stories had to be true
- they had to be set specifically in Melbourne
- and the real doozy – they could only be up to a total of 300 characters long (that’s right, not words, but characters. 300 words is hard enough).
This last rule meant I did many drafts, and then cut and cut and cut, until I distilled my memory into only three typed lines. There could be no lazy words, no padding. This post is already about three times longer than the text could be…
If chosen, they will be printed on posters and displayed near the site where they took place. I really love this idea, reading stories directly related to the place where you are standing. They were submitted anonymously, so you have the inside scoop if mine gets picked.
Maybe I should start an online Sydney equivalent – a blogging event about places in Sydney. Let’s call it Sydney in Sixty (that is 60 words). Have a go, then reply to this post and send me the link.
By Vita Forest
Having fun with Diptic – how do you make your illustrations?
As a teacher, I spend quite a bit of time reflecting on how lessons went, how successful programs were, how effective certain strategies are with my students. I thought I would apply the same logic to this blog.
I started this blog in July for a number of reasons:
- to have a place to do some writing.
- to make myself write regularly.
- to explore and experiment.
- to connect with other people.
This is what I have learned so far…
- some discipline. I committed to writing at least one post a week and have done that. Instead of writing being something I did when everything else was finished, and if I had any energy left, I have prioritized my writing and built a kind of routine.
- it doesn’t have to be perfect. James Clear has written some very good articles about creativity and the fact that you need to do a body of work. Sometimes it won’t be amazing, but producing something regularly is much more effective than waiting for inspiration to hit. I have become more fearless and open and hit that Publish button with relish.
- sometimes it’s good to have constraints. (Actually make that all the time). Whether it’s word limits, time constraints, or a very particular designated topic in a blogging event, limitations of some kind seem to bring focus, and paradoxically, they free up the mind from the paralysis of the open-ended. (So far I have participated in two blogging events, producing An unfortunate meeting with a fairy and He loves me, he loves me not… )
- unexpected topics have a way of cropping up. I thought I had to have everything mapped out, but sometimes I start writing about one thing and it turns into something else. And that is OK.
- how to make visuals I get to create my own images (mainly photos doctored in Diptic). This is another way to be creative that I hadn’t expected.
- feedback and community are fantastic. I have now completed two novels. I send them out (occasionally) and wait indefinitely to get any response from agents or publishers. Sometimes it has been positive, but more often its impersonal, months later and in the form of standard rejection letters. Blogging is a way to instantly connect with people from all around the world, and I really appreciate people taking the time to read, Like and respond to my work. It’s so helpful (and I have to say I get a buzz out of it!) Maybe one day, someone will publish my novels, but until then, I’m loving the blogging.
Now I’m going to try and transfer some of my newfound discipline to the rather tedious and often soul-destroying task of sending out my second novel to agents and publishers. Because nothing will happen if I don’t DO something.
So that is what this newbie blogger has learned so far. How about you? What have you learned from blogging?