Swim swim – a Musing

I have severe arthritis. I was diagnosed in my late 20s and practised determined denial for the next 20 years.

Now I wear braces on both legs, from thigh to calves, to assist me to stand and walk, while I wait for surgery. (I’m not even on the list yet.) On bad days or where ground is uncertain or I know I might have to manoeuvre around many people or small spaces, I use a stick as well. The arthritis is everywhere but my hips. Go hips!

I have been battling with fitting swimming into my schedule. I work full time, go to yoga twice a week, participate in two choirs and am assisting with a community group. Plus gardening, art, writing, craft, family and life.

I’ve tried a few times to fit in swimming, unsuccessfully. I seem to have solved the timing now and have been going regularly.

When I walked into the pool today, the relief as the water took the pressure and the pain was immense. It was wonderful and warm and weightless. I walked, swam, exercised, swam and walked. Then finally had to get out of the pool.

Now my difficulty seems to be, not getting there, but getting out and leaving.

Dealing with liars – a Musing

This is a tough one. I really struggled with dishonesty. It took a lot of working through for me to understand that lying is a reflection of the liar, not me.The impact of lies on me was massively challenging to let go.

I came to understand that making them wrong for lying didn’t help anyone. Where I got to, and it’s a hard road, is no longer minding what other people say.

I’ll give you one example. My eldest brother would visit my state and call me to tell me that he couldn’t get out to see me. It was a cruel thing to do. It falls into lying as it shows an insensitivity and lack of care of the impact of this behaviour and the implied promise that if they came to my state they would come to see me.

I came to undestand that most of my upset came from my thwarted expectations. I expected them to visit, I expected to matter to them as they did for me. I expected them to treat me with respect. You know what? They don’t have to. Isn’t that a bugger?

When I looked closely at my upset I found that most of it was due to my own expectations being thwarted and unfulfilled. And that hurts.

I changed my expectations of my brother and stopped calling or expecting anything from him, I was able to appreciate when I did see him and not look for anything more.

There came an occasion where he apologised, one out of the blue visit, for not seeing me for over a year. I stared at him in absolute astonishment and said no, you were here in summer. No, he said, that was last summer. Oh, I said surprised, I hadn’t noticed. I truly hadn’t. He was so offended! How funny is that?

I will say that others’ duplicity is one of the things I’ve really struggled with. It’s been very painful. My expectations on others now do not impede the development of my relationships or enjoyment of my life.

PS I still love him & think he’s a lovely man and am pleased to see him whenever I do.

The Cockatoo Share Store: Community Conversations

As a number of my friends and acquaintances know, I have long wanted to set up a Share Store. This is a social enterprise that is self-sustaining and accesses under-utilised resources within the community.

For example, now that I am down-sizing, I have a large slow cooker, large cast iron frypan, a variety of baking pans, dog crates, spade, shovel, pitch fork and other items that I either no longer use or use infrequently enough that they are just taking up space.

What if I, and everyone else with languishing items, donated these things to a library where people can pay a joining fee and borrow items as needed? When I need my spade, fork and wheelbarrow, I can borrow them for the weekend. When I don’t need them, which is most of the time, others can.

There are numerous tool libraries set up around the world, in fact there has even been software developed for registering items and their hire and return. Tool Libraries are predominantly for tools for gardening and DIY. There are many other resources that can be shared and borrowed, hence the name The Share Store.

The Brunswick Tool Library is one example for automotive, renovating and gardening tools. http://brunswicktoollibrary.org/php/ourtools.php

Research into the development and value of tool sharing (G. Kool, UNSW July 2003) shows just how long tool sharing has been going on in Australia and evaluating the possibility of tool sharing libraries. http://www.changedesign.org/Resources/EDFPublications/Articles/Papers/Tool%20Libraries%20in%20Australia_contents.pdf

Shareable http://www.shareable.net/blog/how-to-start-a-tool-library gives the instructions needed. Local Tools http://localtools.org shows us how to manage a tool library. “Local Tools make it easy to setup and manage rental shops, tool libraries, as well as, lending libraries for tools, kitchen goods, sporting goods, or just about anything.  You can manage inventory and members using a web-based system.  Create community, save time, and help provide access to the things people need.”

An annual fee pays for borrowing rights along with access to the web portal for borrowing. The fees assist ongoing costs, such as, electrical items that have to be tagged and checked each year, plus rent, maintenance and upkeep. A collaboration with the local Mens’ Shed would be in order to repair tools. Our Mens’ Shed sells repaired items at the local market. The Share Store could combine to sell donated items that cannot be hired out.

I’m pretty keen. Who want’s to play?

Wellbeing: A Musing


Today I travelled with my colleagues on Puffing Billy then coffee and lunch and more coffee. Along the way we hung out the train, waived at every passer by and laughed at ourselves. The youngest of us is 30.

It was a wellbeing day for our office. Working in welfare and community development can be taxing. I am always intensely grateful that I get to work in an area that I find interesting and get paid for it. I have been struggling of late, as Christmas looms, to think of good things, so this wellbeing day has been timely.

How often do we get to go out with our colleagues to be social and human, without alcohol or workshops, or both? I got to see a different side to everyone. Some much more silly than I have ever seen. Others far more taciturn than I knew they could be. A good bit of fun teasing and for a moment just being people, not co-workers. Much appreciated.

It did make me think though of all those people who never develop such camaraderie or work in places that foster its development. It made me think about the many people who don’t like the work they do or can see no value in it. It made me think about the people who work so hard and see so little for their efforts. How lucky are we that we get to work, see results, be able to write and fight for them? Everything that we work so diligently for is what our current government is working diligently to erode.

Then again we have the education and the articulation to express and fight back. We are not standing in front of tanks or laying down across roads to make our points. Still it is wonderful to live in a country where I can find work that is meaningful and co-workers who share my dreams for our communities. I will count my blessings and for this I am grateful.

That is all.

Zero to Hero: Day One/ Why I blog.

One of the many (and I do mean many) blogs I follow was blogging about setting goals and undertaking Blogging 201. Now I’m always up for a bit of a challenge (unless it’s abseiling, not that kind of challenging) so I clicked over. Apparently it was a follow on from 101. As you know I like to have my ducks in a row, so clicked to Zero to Hero: Day One, Blogging 101 and here I am.

There are a few questions to prompt thought and being logical, I’ll answer them.

Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
All that I write is personal. I am in there somewhere, whether it be a traditional story I’ve adapted, a story I’ve created or an introspective. In fact I’ve categorised my blogs into Adapted Tales, Journey Tales, Jumbly Tales and Introspectives. When I write things tend to fall into place, even if I have been thinking about a particular issue for a long time, writing helps me sort it. I found myself writing my first introspective when I had muddled through some rather large upheavals and facing some sad sad truths in my life. I did not write directly into the blog and kept the writing for some time before sharing it. I felt I was complete with that and it held universal themes that I believed others would resonate with plus I needed to set it free. Setting stories free, to see what they can be, no longer works for me in a private journal. What readers contribute in their thoughts and responses can shift and change the way in which I perceive things. 

I have been a storyteller for decades, in fact I earned my living for ten years as a storyteller in early childhood settings, both as performer and educator/ trainer. I ran my own agency and encouraged other oral storytellers to branch out. I told a lot of personal stories. One particular gig comes to mind (yes, we call them gigs too). I performed for the Association of Relinquishing Mothers and told adapted and contemporary personal tales. As an adopted child myself and foster carer moving into permanent care, I found myself in an unique position to tell those stories. More than ten years after the performance, I still bump into members of that audience who remember me and the stories I told. Now that I am not telling regularly, I needed to find another outlet for my stories.

I blog because it allows me to resonate with readers.

What topics do you think you’ll write about?
I write my stories. I started with commentary before the stories, then moved quickly into the tales. Very early on I found that I had some stories to tell, such as Tricky Tricksters, that called on all my skills but were of a personal nature. At one point when I thought I was going to tell one story another came up for telling. That is how the Jumbly Tales came to be. I have not had opportunity to follow my characters through before and my blog allows me that.

I thought I would tell adapted tales but it is my stories that have finally found an outlet. The instrospectives, when I am pondering something, seem to find resonance or dissonance with others. Either is fine with me. For now I will stick with my categories of Adapted Tales, Journey Tales, Jumbly Tales and Introspectives.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
Other storytellers are always welcome but I am interested in people who are interested in the same subjects I am. I am very curious about the human condition (why I read so many blogs) and why people respond in the way they do. I am interested in people who have adopted or are adopted, foster carers, community development and engagement workers, people involved in sustainable living (ah, those tiny homes, I love them), autism and parenting a child with disabilities, children and teens, conditions that set us back and move us forward (rape, abuse, violence) as a civilisation. I am interested in Community, with a capital C. I am interested in reaching out across communities and connecting in common humanity to make this world a better place for future generations.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
I would like to accomplish a body of work of which I am proud and to reach as many people as possible. I want to develop as a writer and teller of tales that resonates within Community. That doesn’t look to have much meaning when written on the page so I will put it this way.. I see the lines of connection that light our way and link us one to the other. When we pull on those webs and find like-minded people, we strengthen the bonds that bind and support us. To contribute to the strengthening of those bonds is what I want to achieve. To do it through the telling of my stories is what I would like to accomplish. There!

Finally, of what benefit would it be to you to read my blog?
You will be amused. I know that I am frequently entertained by the contents of my brain and how they juxtapose and connect. You may be inspired or moved or relate to my stories or introspectives. You may feel moved to respond. You will find me delighted that you have. You will meet a story of mine that you want to share with another. Then we will all be happy!

Thank you for reading.
Yours in Story,


Mrs. Higginbottom – A Jumbly Tale

Mrs. Higginbottom – A Jumbly Tale

How often are we impacted by the frustrations of others? When another person is frustrated by your ability to understand exactly what they are going on about, it is difficult at times to remember that it is a reflection on them, not you.

That’s pretty much all I wanted to say about that. How about a Jumbly tale?

Let me tell you a story

Mrs. Higginbottom and the Jumbly Man

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, Mrs. Higginbottom came to live in the Jumbly Man’s village. She didn’t know anything about Jumbly at first but everyone knew just how important she was because she told them.

Mrs. Higginbottom had come to view the delightful cottage on the corner of Market Road and River Rd and the villagers had ample opportunity to view her. She had the unfortunate habit of tilting her head so she could look down her nose, over her glasses, making a moue of distaste. This gave clear viewing straight up her nostrils and small boys would hover about for a glimpse.

Mrs. Higginbottom really liked the little cottage and she could see that she would be a person of some importance in the village. They all knew this because she told them. She really liked the little garden gate, and the tumbles of flowers in the garden, the roses growing up the outside of the cottage and the cosy cottage itself.

The cottage and the village were missing it’s previous owner. Miss Lilly had gone to Heaven and they all felt sad at her passing. Jumbly most of all. So when the new resident moved into her cottage all the village watched with voyeuristic pleasure to find out if she would be anything like Miss Lilly.

Miss Lilly had been Jumbly’s very best friend and the closest he had to a mother since he was a small boy. He was in the habit of visiting her every day, helping with chores and chatting in his jumbly way. Miss Lilly had never the least bother in understanding him. The riotous tumble of flowers and scents that was Miss Lilly’s garden had been their favourite place. Many happy hours of jumbly words and laughter were shared. As Miss Lilly had aged, the Jumbly Man would make sure she had wood for her fire, her errands run and always flowers in her yard.

Everyone liked Miss Lilly. They all took it hard when she rocked herself to her final rest, one slow sunny afternoon, sitting on her porch enjoying her garden and passersby. Jumbly had found her. He was bereft. Everyone understood and they let Jumbly grieve in his own way, keeping their eye on him.

When Mrs. Higginbottom moved in, everyone was intensely interested in their new neighbour and were keen to see how Jumbly would take to her. Mrs. Higginbottom was not so keen. The villagers soon learnt all about her importance in her previous village and how she practically had to run the place herself. How they would all get by without her, she didn’t know.

Mrs. Higginbottom took to sitting in Miss Lilly’s rocker on the front porch, calling greetings to passersby. She did her best to let them know when their dress was not up to scratch, and how the Elders needed her help when she wasn’t quite so busy, and dear me those rascally children needed taking down a peg or two and don’t get her started on the Jumbly Man, after all what kind of name was that? At this point she found that people began walking swiftly by her cottage, too busy to stop and chat. Her only visitors were the same small boys, keeping silent until the soft summer day sent her to sleep and snore. There was considerable discussion about her snoring, exactly what sound it was she made. Small boy treasures were known to change hands when she would snort quickly three times in a row, if the timing was guessed right.

The Jumbly Man watched from a distance as Mrs. Higginbottom settled into Miss Lilly’s cottage and made it her own. He watched as she harangued the villagers and set her tongue to scolding. Jumbly heard her calls unheeded and watched people scamper out of her way when she went to market.

Mrs. Higginbottom found this village just like her last. The people who were so friendly at first, now avoided her and wouldn’t listen to her good advice, and she had so much good advice. Why she had an opinion on everything. It was just the same all over again as if she was invisible.

One bright morning as Mrs. Higginbottom settled herself on her porch, she noticed the Jumbly Man standing directly across the road looking at her. At first she looked away, then snuck her eyes back to see he was still looking. Not only was he looking, he was smiling. Well. Mrs. Higginbottom pulled herself out of her rocking chair and marched to her garden gate. Jumbly crossed the road and marched up to the other side of her gate.

Mrs. Higginbottom tilted her head back, looked down her nose, over her glasses and made a moue of distaste. The Jumbly Man deftly avoided her nostrils and looked down into her eyes. He looked for a long time. Mrs. Higginbottom stayed very still. Slowly her head resumed it’s normal position and she looked right back at Jumbly. Jumbly smiled.

For the first time in her life, Mrs. Higginbottom felt seen. She felt that someone had noticed her and she felt Jumbly’s smile go right down into her heart. Mrs. Higginbottom smiled back.

The Jumbly Man jumbled some words at her. Mrs. Higginbottom nodded, oh of course, come right in, I will put the kettle on for tea, and the Jumbly Man was welcomed in through her gate.

and that is the end of the story.

(c) 4th September 2013