??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness


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Walk a mile in my shoes!

This post is in response to the WordPress  Weekly Writing Challenge

 Leave Your Shoes at the Door

In my FaceBook feed I once saw a poem that is  supposedly (dare I say hoax)  based an old man who died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town. It was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions they supposedly found a poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were  supposedly made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

Cranky Old Man….. ( an abridged version)

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?

What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?

A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,

Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?

The poem then goes on to relate the life events that define him. It ends with  (causing  tear or two)

So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.

Not a cranky old man .  Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!

After reading this I began to contemplate my thoughts on what the author was trying to express. Maybe they were just talking about the aged but my opinion is the ideals within the poem can go much further. How easy is it for us to view others from our own shoes rather than considering those they are walking in?

We see young children around us. How often have you heard people complain they are too loud, moving too fast, breaking something. 

“That would never have happened in my day”,

“I’m too busy I have (insert whatever it is adults / older siblings do) I can’t play with you”

“I haven’t got time to coach a junior team”.

Young children are just opening their eyes to the world. They have so much to offer yet can be overlooked because too often too many see experience as only coming with age. I work with children and I could write a book based on the classic wisdoms that come from their mouths.kids

Not a time consuming child.

Look closer . . . . see … ME!

One full of enthusiasm, zealous, not jaded, maybe loud and fast but there is so much to try!!

Picture today’s youth.

“Too outspoken”

“No manners”

“Spend too much time on electronic gadgets”

“Don’t socialise correctly”

“Life is  too easy ”

“ Too full of self-worth”.

They have grown up in an era where we have moved beyond communication being limited by distance. They live in a world where ‘friends’ may have wider concept than it did before. Their mode of communication may be new but expression of feelings, ideas, beliefs and desires are still important. Having two grown up children I have witnessed their passions for such things as universal well-being of all, fights for justice, desires to conform, desires to be different. They may want different justices etc but they still have the same desire to be heard as did others before them. Does it really matter if they call friends parents by their first name not “Mrs/ Mr”. Should their wisdoms be dismissed and all we see them as are youth dressing different and walking around with an electronic device attached with love to their hand? Can we not learn to LOL , text and share emoticons as we converse, opening ourselves to a wider friendship circle. Dare I admit to having a friend I met via an internet game on an iPad app??  LOL   🙂

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Not an obnoxious  youth .

Look closer . . . . see .. .. ME

 The passionate, caring one eager to try new things and    excited that the world boundaries are gone.

Then there’s that time that stretches out into many long years. I’m going to call it mature years though that may only be in namesake ha ha. It takes us along the journey of life from when we leave the technical youth years to become the parents and then on until we reach the old person referred to in the poem, the one who has seen all seasons.  We demand parking spots in shopping centres be it for our pram or our age.

““Don’t understand us youth!”

“Wear clothes that aren’t appropriate!” (the audacity of a grandma in shorts let alone swimmers!)

“”Puts the children in day care so they can work – so selfish”

“Won’t mind the grandkids so I HAVE to send them to childcare – so selfish”

“Don’t visit the aged parents enough”

“Work to have expensive holidays and don’t save for old age”.

Just as others before us have done we want the best for our families, we are just as loving and caring. The world is different. We might have different ideals such as the larger home, more cars and overseas trips but it’s still with the best in mind. Who decides what’s best…does difference have to be graded?study-cognitive-training-aids-older-people-in-L-4_U8lESource

Not an greedy, uncaring mature person.

Look closer . . . . see .. ME

 The one who realises with careful planning you possibly can have it all!

And so to bring my rambles together, I think we need to remember we all bring a bucket full of experiences to the table. They are all valuable to us and can be of use to all if shared. When you observe the actions of another, look first through their bucket. Value them in whole, sneak a few things from them and your bucket will soon be brimming with exciting new dreams and a picture of the world coloured in a way you have never seen before.

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Do crocodiles read ?

With almost no words…

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Wangi Plunge Pool in Litchfield National Park NT Australia.

Notice the people swimming happily in the clear cool water, such a godsend on a humid day of close to 40C, just days before  the start of the Wet Season .

Sure hope crocodiles new the calendar date.

croc sign

This is the not so fine print on the above sign .

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Days of Freedom Gone

Always liked the humour of this joke ( is it really humour though? ha ha )

Mother goes into her daughter’s bedroom. “You’ve got to get up for school.”
Daughter pulls the blankets over her head and replies, “I don’t want to go to school, mother.”
“But you have to,” Mother said.
“I don’t want to. All the kids make fun of me.” Mother pulls the blanket back a little, “You don’t have any choice. You’ve got to get up for school.”
“OK, OK”, says the daughter, “But only if you give me one very good reason!”
“You’re 53years old and you’re the teacher.”

Well it’s that day for me. The alarm is due to go off in five minutes but I have actually been awake since my husband’s earlier alarm.

I have had time to calculate this term has 53 work days . So little time in reality to do so much. I’m excited to return. I think most kids are like that too. I look forward to catching up with my colleagues and setting up my new class. I look forward to getting to know my new class and helping them to rise to new challenges and to have many successful achievements under their belt by the end of those 53 days.

But I do rue the days of laziness, doing things when I want and as I want and completing tasks I’ve set myself. I will miss the ‘no alarm’ wake up and no pre-made lunches.
But I’m lucky that I’m going back to a job , a job I love even, as not everyone is that fortunate.

Wishing all the children, parents and teachers an exciting , prosperous school year.


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Bucket list Sunrise

This story starts maybe even as far back as eight years ago. I’m a Kochie fan. If you aren’t an Australian reader of my blog, you may be wondering who, or what, is ‘KOCHIE’. If you are an Australian reader you may be thinking ‘There are Kochie fans??’ lol. Kochie (David Koch) is in fact a male host of a morning show called Sunrise. This airs on free to air TV each weekday 6 am until 9 am.

He’s not ‘manly’ in the Australian sense of the word, he frequently relates stories about his family, has been awarded Father of the Year in 2007 and isn’t afraid to voice politically incorrect viewpoints without rudeness and has a blog based on finance. He is a product of state education, has been reported as being an average scholar and is of average appearance but has made good in a world built on appearances. I refer to him as ‘the thinking woman’s crumpet’.

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The show is broadcast from a studio in Martin Place (CBD Sydney) and I have often said I wanted to visit this but each holiday break would run away and I never achieved this bucket list item. This year however is the new me. I’m making plans and getting them done (it is only January, so I hope I’m still as enthusiastic when I revisit this in say June ha ha).

Last Monday I decided Friday would be the day that I would travel to Sydney. I even tweeted @kochie_online about my intentions (another bucket list to be retweeted by him). Instead of a retweet I received a reply!! I realised it was just a ‘polite’ reply but still the bucket list tick off happened and I decided to keep up the momentum and attend the plaza where it all happens.

My day started at 4:45 am on Friday as I needed to be on a 6 am train.

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It is a 20 minute car drive hour trip plus one hour and 45 minutes train ride to the city. I saw the real sunrise from the train carriage as the train sped over the Hawkesbury River Bridge.

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Arriving at Central station I had to ask for help as to where my next train went from. Arriving at Martin Place I faced 7 train exits so with a quick check of google maps I was off up the 20 or so steps to daylight and ‘my’ Sunrise. I walked down to the windows for a vantage point (hardly anyone was around). The blinds were drawn but they were of the type that block out sun but not view, and so through the muted black, there he stood! The view was much better through the curtain than it appear in the photos.

                                                      Look VERY carefully ! Image

Over excited I began posting photos on FaceBook and replying to friend’s comments like a silly school girl. I checked with the security guards about if/ when Kochie would be in the plaza and was it common for him to hang around long enough for photos. With a smile and a look that said, ‘Hmmm is this crazy lady a stalker??’ in his eyes (or was that my guilty interpretation) he assured me there would be ample photo time. Just the words I wanted to hear. With a hint Kochie was coming outside for a segment, I  didn’t even say ‘Excuse me, sorry’ once as I bustled my way to standing within arm’s reach of my man of the moment. There was no time for niceties in this pilgrimage. I watched him eat the succulant lamb cutlet. I just realised writing this now I should have had one myself then I could have  truthfully stated we dined together 🙂 Bad slip up on my part haha. Of he went back inside as the show ran overtime. I think it may have been relate to the breaking news about Justin Beiber but all I was worried about was would this deny me my photograph!

My patience was eventually rewarded when Kochie came into the plaza for photos, at the end of the long over due show. He displayed a humble approach to each person waiting for photos and autographs, engaging all, young and old alike, in easy conversational banter. His smile appeared to give a genuine sense of being a warm human with a caring disposition. I had the most exciting morning and it was a fantastic tick on the bucket list.

The only photoshop needed was to remove the security guard from the background. Not sure why he lingered close hahaha!

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And, a TV screen capture with a feeble attempt at pixilation to hide the identity of the strangers around me

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A Thing of Beauty

A thing of beauty is a joy forever

      Its loveliness increases,

        It will never

     Pass into nothingness.

                John Keats

He surely wrote this with Hamilton Island in mind. I have seen the island in all seasons, each with its own beauty. The sky is a lighter blue in winter but temperatures hover mid 20C , the springtime breezes caress the palm fronds, afternoon  storms are more spectacular in summer and in autumn hardly any rain seems to fall  and the skies are crisp blue. But enough words , for this post is supposed to be a wordless . But I just couldn’t resist adding a few ‘brushstrokes ‘with ‘word paint’.

Make sure you click on the image to see the beauty in greater splendor.

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A Different Kind of Family Album

This blog post was written by my sister. It has touching memories of my childhood and is a a piece of the big puzzle that makes me ‘ME’. Blue Bird Cafe has some great ‘retro stories with a twist’ that I’m sure you would enjoy. http://bluebirdcafe14.wordpress.com/about/


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A Letter to Parents

As the clock ticks on, here in Australia, that day of ‘Back to School’ or ‘First day at School’ looms. For most, it’s a day of excitement to renew or begin new friendships, buy new, or prepare the old, school uniforms and shoes as well as filling the pencil case and getting the lunchbox and back pack organised.

Slate

I am the first to say for my first few years at school I hated going to school. Dread filled me as the holidays drew closer to the end. Each day, instead of being enjoyed ,was a reminder of where I was headed soon. I’m not sure why I had this fear. I had an older sister already at school and she enjoyed it from what I remember. My family promoted education and so I know I would have been encouraged to enjoy the place.  In the primary years it got more bearable and I enjoyed learning. Apart from my 2nd grade teacher as far as I know my teachers weren’t evil.

She however lacked compassion. I was in the non-enviable position of having an older sister attend the school and she was one of the extra smart ones. The situation was compounded by having a younger sister two years behind me, who was also of the extra smart group. My 2nd class teacher told me such inspirational things as:-

* My handwriting was like that of a fly walking across the page. I’m guessing it was pretty poorly structured though I must admit I had never watched the path of a fly on a page (we had Mortein in a pump delivery gadget.)

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* My younger sister could read and write better than I did. I’m not sure how this was substantiated as my school reports show was at the top of my class. I can only guess my sister excelled the whole grade basically. (Maybe)

Luckily I took these both to heart and now have a beautiful handwriting style and I’m more than happy with my writing and reading ability.

The point this leads me to was, my mum knew I was an anxious child (how one gets to be anxious at 4years and 6 months I don’t know but it happens). I know from my mum telling me when I was older that despite her speaking with the teachers about my school readiness they dismissed her (as was done in that day) and told her I should enrol to keep the numbers right and then not attend as I was anxious. I know my mum and dad could have told the school ways to have helped alleviate my stress but in those days (have they really gone? I think they have in most.) it seemed many teachers felt not valued if they consult with a parent. I would say though, now this is a minority case not majority thankfully.

My post today was written in response to a post I read on Colour My World  – Not just another anxious parent. It was a heartfelt post and as a parent truly felt her frustrations.

As a teacher ,  I would like to pen this response and hope that it will strengthen her conviction (and other parents) to never stop being the voice of children and for parents to  never feel their opinions and understandings are of no consequence to educators. All parents are anxious in their own way as are children and all deserve respect and attention. The opinions expressed here are solely those of my own and in no way reflect those of my employer or other members of staff at my school (though as my school is full of fantastic teachers , where I’d be proud to have my children attend were they still school age, I’m sure they see things this way too ) or all those wonderful teachers out there.

Dear Parent,

As a teacher I am entrusted with the most precious cargo any parent has, that in itself is an honour. To do my best work I need your trust in me that I know my ‘craft’ and I really do have your child’s best interests at heart. Like you, I want your child to reach their true potential and for me personally, the two things I want all the children to leave my classroom with, is a positive sense of self-worth and a love of learning.  I can only achieve this if I have two things from you – trust and support. Both these things are two way streets and so in saying that, I know you need my trust and support just as I need yours.

Remember most of the teachers your child will experience will be dedicated and welcoming of your voice, as am I. The most meaningful interviews I have are those at the beginning of the year, when I ask the parents to tell me enough information for me to help make each child’s transition into my class as easy as possible. Sure, I don’t want to hear everything, for sometimes the children will react differently to me than to their support network (I call this me getting to know them) but as a parent you know so much more about your child than I ever will. Also, unless it’s for funding I don’t even want labels. They don’t define the child nor should they. Tell me instead the idiosyncrasies, their favourite activities, likely responses and triggers for joy as well as stress. This applies to EVERY child in my class. Children are not machines nor do they function identically.

Also remember that your child’s teacher is always trying their best to make the environment good for your child just as you are trying to support us. Let us know if something is going on at home or routines have changed, no matter how trivial they may seem at the time. We’ll let you know if things are going askew at school too.

One more thing to be aware of, is that your child’s teacher may slip up sometime in preparing the day for your child. Haven’t you sometimes forgotten which child eats ham sandwiches or accidentally slipped the wrong juice into their lunchbox sometime? We have up to 30 children to care for and we are not perfect. Don’t chastise us for being human. Support your child to understand that in life these things happen with no malice meant.

Choose times wisely to chat with us, just as we will with you. Entering class is a busy time and we can’t give you the attention you deserve. Make appointments and trust we will contact you if we need to and will never conduct that interview while you are trying to prepare the evening family meal.

Above all though, NEVER stop being the voice of your child!! You will always hold the key to our learning in that regard. Good teachers are easier to find than mediocre ones. Don’t give up on one unsatisfactory experience. In my mind there is no such thing as “just another anxious parent”.  Support other parents, they may have anxieties, but like your child, they too deserve respect and understanding from others as well as the teachers of their children. “

Thank you for listening,

Your child’s teacher


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Let sleeping dogs lie!

I found a link to a Blog challenge, Michelle’s Weekly Pet challenge on a blog I follow A DAY IN THE LIFE.

The challenge is to include a photo of your pet , so here is a favourite one of mine. This is Sheldon. He is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Cocker Spaniel .IMG_2020Its a favourite because he wrapped himself up this way . We used the old suitcase as his bed. He was about 4 months old. I was the only one home and was madly trying to write school reports. He didn’t like being alone and kept whining so I would play with him. After playing with him and his tug a what toy (in photo) feeling guilty I left him and went back to writing. After a while his whining stopped but  the unnerving quiet bothered me. I sneaked out to look at him hoping he was asleep. He was! He had got my son’s -shirt from the dirty clothes pile in bathroom and had dragged it to his bed (dragged it over himself) along with his toy. Unfortunately photographing him woke him up. That is when I learnt the true meaning of “Let sleeping dogs Lie!”

 

 


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A Convict comes a’calling

Although the precise dates are a little sketchy, I’m relating here a story of a series of dreams my mum had. The sketchy dates go back to around 1970 when the dreams started, although I was told the story maybe five years later when I was older. These stories relate to the old home I told you about in Dundas Dreaming, although my mother had the dreams long after she had moved out of the home and was living in her own home.

Her dreams started with a convict visiting her in a dream. She told me and my sisters of the feeling of being awake while he spoke to her. He wore the traditional arrow styled clothing.

black_arrow  Convict Arrow to show ownership of property by British Government

His message to her each time he visited was that he had been wrongly convicted of a crime of theft. He needed her help. He told her the records were kept in a storeroom underneath the stairs at the Dundas house. He wanted her to get the records and cross out his name. She said he virtually begged her to do this for him. Mum knew this storeroom existed but had never in all her time gone down the stairs.

He visited often, each time revealing more about himself. He told her his name was John James Huntington and he had a friend called Molly Brown. Each time he implored her to help him retrieve the records. All he wanted her to do was to strike off his name. Each time he visited, Mum said she had felt no danger from him (fear yes, of the unknown though).

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We frequently visited my grandparent’s house and Mum told of how she always thought, with a sense of uneasiness, about the dream when she was there. One day she felt compelled to look down in the storeroom. We were outside with my grandparents. She apparently opened the door under the staircase but said fear overcame her and she couldn’t go down the stairs. He came that night and told her she was so close and to go finish the job but she knew she couldn’t / wouldn’t.

One night he came to her, but this time his message was different. Recently the house had been sold to a developer. Sadly the plans involved bulldozing this old homestead down and replacing it, and the large land parcel, with new modern homes. The old homestead had been bulldozed down that day, a chunk of history reduced to rubble that probably became landfill for the new homes.

This was to be the last time he ever visited.  He told her that there was nothing she could do now. The records were buried forever now. He apparently looked disappointed but again Mum felt no menace from him. With that message he was gone and never returned (to my knowledge).

Ball_and_chain

Once the internet opened up the world to us (maybe mid 1990s) one of the first things I did was search this convict. The dreams Mum spoke of had always captured my thoughts and stayed on my mind despite no further talk of the topic. I am a believer, as was my mum, in spirits returning. I didn’t have high expectations but was intrigued.

The internet wasn’t as easy for me to navigate then (I’m the Google Queen now). Not knowing where to start, I remember typing in the name. I didn’t find it then but having a personality of a dog with a bone, just wouldn’t let it go. Over time I found how to locate the muster lists of the first to third fleets that transported to NSW.

 Of all the convict lists, I found just ONE convict by the name of James Huntington. He was transported to New South Wales aboard the Matilda. At that point he was just a name on a list , but a real person never the less and the fact that there was only one convict by that name (many convicts shared other names like Smith )made me more convinced this was the man in Mum’s dream. I was able to share this information with mum who, like me, believed it was the visitor to her ‘dream’.

Then I began tracing where the convicts on board the Matilda were sent to. The convicts from this ship were sent to Parramatta for work consignment. For those not familiar with the area Dundas is a suburb of Parramatta city. They were sent Parramatta to help build the settlement and to further farm the land. “resulting in the erection of dwelling places for the governor, the officers, the convicts and some of the troops, together with several store-houses.”  http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/phillip-arthur-2549 

 Unfortunately my mum passed away before I found more information on John James Huntington. I located his details of conviction.

He was convicted of stealing 3 sheep, 2 bushels of barley and 2 hempen sacks.

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Though somewhat hard to read here the original can be found at http://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/ConvictsDetails.aspx?convict_id=2805

As to his friend Molly Brown – a ship called the Mary Ann sailed to NSW with female convicts also bound for Parramatta. On board were two Mary Browns. Apparently Molly is the nickname form of Mary. Maybe his friend? She too had been sentenced in Lincolnshire.

Now ,as if this story isn’t intriguing and spooky enough I’ll let you in on a few other odd facts. As I told in Dundas Dreaming, my sister spent around 5 years of her life in this house. Being an only child her old lady imaginary??  ‘friend’ was dismissed as an invented being. Strangely enough though, one of the names my sister wanted for me was Matilda (the transport vessel of John James Huntington). Was this lady in fact Molly?

I am still searching John James Huntington. Strangely I feel compelled to see if I can right the wrong or at least find out some more. I have found a death certificate in his name (and from the Parramatta district) which I intend purchasing from Births, Deaths and Marriages to see if it’s him. If so, it’s very tragic as his death was just one year after arriving in Australia.

That house held many secrets, some now buried deep, but still it manages to haunt dreams, but now it’s the dreams of myself , my sister and my niece…but that’s a whole other installment ! Trust me it will put more goosebumps on your goosebumps!

 


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Dundas Dreaming

I was reading on a blog I follow about dream meanings. I have had some strange ones in my years as have other family members.

Many centre on the house of my grandparents. So, today I’m going to set the scene for a collection of weird dreams and strange events by describing the family home at Dundas in NSW, in which my mum lived her life until her late 20s. This time span also included her first few years of marriage so my sister lived here too for the first few years of her life.

I have hunted through old photos I have but I have none of the house. This one however is a close match. My grandparents house however had a second storey. The columns however were not ornate as those in the picture.

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This area was originally called The Ponds and if you are interested for more historical facts the article found here contains information about early land parcels in the area.

The main road it was located on (when my mum lived there) obviously wasn’t built at the time the house went up. I say this because the real front faced out towards the plant nursery my grandfather established when he had the property in the late 1920s. The street front was actually the back, a closed in area. The walls were the thick sandstone blocks, about 18 inches thick. The only other places with thick sandstone and similar in appearance that I can locate in that area were those places belonging to James Ruse or MacArthur (Elizabeth Farm and Experimental Farm).

Elizabeth Farm

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Experiment Farm

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Never one to sit back, I have since written to Parramatta council to see what information they may be able to glean on this.

The real front of the house had two rooms off the central hall. One was the bedroom and the other the lounge room. It was rarely used (well not when we were there which was often). Behind those rooms was the kitchen and laundry. My sister suggests they would have probably been separate from the house and reached by going outside originally. There was also a small room under the stairs. Upstairs were two rooms. My sister lived in one when she was a child; the second one was dark and had a closet over the window. I believe my mum pushed it there because of an old time story of a little girl and a lady… but that’s for later. It was a cold room and I couldn’t enter it though I did open the door occasionally. We were never encouraged to go upstairs. When my younger sister and I were brave we would put the house cats into this room. It was the only room the cats escaped from with speed.

I never did understand why this house was allowed to be pulled down to be replaced with a modern housing estate in the late 1970s. This house certainly had its own stories to tell, that’s for sure!

Next installment….A convict comes to call