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Weekend – What Weekend?

Weekend – What Weekend?

Weekends: those magical hours between Friday night and Monday morning. You close the door of your office on Friday afternoon, and look forward to two days of blissful R&R – that’s Rest and Recuperation in old Military terms. There’s nothing like waking up on Saturday morning, knowing that you can roll over and go back to sleep. The weekend looks good from any angle!

But what happens when the weekend loses its lustre? What happens when the weekend becomes just like any other day? 

We call it Retirement!

When you close the door on the office for the very last time, you know you’ve hit retirement. The defining line between weekdays and weekends disappears. Timetables are for bus and train trips, and reports only relate to weather. Work!, becomes a dirty, four-letter word (anyone remember Maynard G Krebs’ reaction to the word?)

Retirement – the new phase of your life where – Yes!, the world really does revolve around you. Possibly for the first time in your life you are free to make decisions that are best for you: “Will I go out today? Nah… I think I’ll sit on the verandah, drink coffee and read a book.” I can do what I want, when I want.

When you settle into retirement, either every day is now a weekday, or every day is now a weekend. I chose the latter. Those days that start with M are no longer feared or dreaded. 

Cup Half-Empty or Half-Full?

Mine was always at least half-full, but since I retired, my cup is closer to full (usually with coffee). I have filled it with all the things I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. While I was working, every time I came across something interesting to do, or new skill to learn, I promised myself that I would do it when I retired. Needless to say, the list of things to do and learn was pretty long by the time I closed the door on my work-life.

Working my way through the list!

The first, and most important task was to learn to write creatively. My career was filled with factual report-writing. And there’s nothing like report-writing to stifle any creativity that you may have had prior to your career. Reports: a case of re-telling ‘the facts, and nothing but the facts’. Not much wriggle room for being creative.

And now there’s my Blog – where I get to try out different styles of writing. There is still a lot to learn, but I think I’m slowly moving into a zone where I feel more confident. I can relax a little, and really enjoy the whole writing experience – well – as far as my experience has taken me so far. I’ve only just started flexing my creative muscles so I know I have a long way to go, but I’m definitely enjoying the journey. 

Being retired, and being the centre of my own Universe, means I can be flexible. I can write when I want to – not when I have to. 

But What About the Challenge?

Ah, yes, the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Where am I up to? 

Day 6

As a blogger/writer, do you take the weekend off? 

Paul Taubman – Ultimate Blog Challenge

I had a bit of a chuckle when I read the topic for Day 6 – which is roughly where I am up to – despite it being the tenth day of October. My first thought was, ‘Weekend, What Weekend?’. Every day is a weekend. 

And I guess that answers the question…

I have posted Days 1, 2 and 3. I’m skipping Days 4 and 5 of the Challenge – until later. So that means I’m up to Day 6. Just saying….

Maureen
Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 2 comments
Fall!

Fall!

Here in Australia, we call it Autumn, not Fall. And where I live, there are no extreme differences between any of the seasons. Autumn is recognisable by the array of leaves on the ground, and being able to sleep comfortably at night for the first time in months. And yes, Autumn does signal colder days to come, but nothing like the cold days of the Northern Hemisphere.

An Autumn day in Brisbane

In some parts of Australia, like Central Queensland (CQ), there are seemingly only two seasons: Hot and Cold. But in Melbourne, you can have all four seasons in one day (or, so the saying goes…).

Kids Don’t Feel The Cold!

Out in Central Queensland, it would be hot one day, and then cold the next. That’s how you would know it was winter. Autumn had been by-passed – there was no in-between. Just hot, and cold. I’m not talking – Northern Hemisphere big-heavy-coat-cold, just an extra-layer-of-jumper cold.

When I was teaching in Queensland, the only sign of winter, as demonstrated by most of the students, was the addition of a jumper (sweater) early in the morning. They still wore shorts! Some of them would pass an occasional remark about how cold it was, but didn’t connect wearing shorts, to feeling cold. Long pants seemingly got in the way of running fast at recess. And by lunchtime, the jumper would either be safely stowed in their bag or lost in the playground; usually the latter.

A beautiful Autumn day in Murwillumbah NSW

Cold One Day – Hot The Next

And the reverse occurred at the other end of the season. Cold one day, and hot the next. The only sign of Spring was the emergence of new buds on trees. But temperature-wise? – hot!

Spring has sprung, here in Murwillumbah

I can’t account for other parts of Australia because my experience is limited (mostly) to Queensland and the northern end of New South Wales. However – there are places in Southern parts of our beautiful Australian landscape that apparently have distinct seasons. Trees put on seasonal colours that are seemingly spectacular, and the early morning chill creeps in and warns of colder days to come. Nice places to visit – but I wouldn’t want to live there.

The Beautiful Fall Colours of Boston

Speaking of nice places to visit, one of the most memorable journeys I have taken, was Boston US, in November. I was mesmerised by the beauty of the Fall colours. A travel-buddy that I had met while on the cruise from Southampton UK, shared my enthusiasm. On a bus from the cruise ship, to and from Salem, we must have driven the Fall-hardened passengers crazy. We (two Aussies) darted from one side of the bus to the other, cameras poised, trying to capture every golden leaf along the way. It was spectacular!

This photo doesn’t do justice to the beauty of the Fall trees in Boston 
Or this one….

Do we have spectacular Autumns (Falls) here in Australia? Yes! But not where I live. Beautiful – yes – but not Boston-type spectacular. Would I swap where I live for a place that has distinct seasons? Probably not. I love the way our seasons just ease gently into each other here in Northern New South Wales.

Oh, and yes, I did turn my heater on last winter – about three times, I think. And only for about an hour each time.

And that’s the way I like it!

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 14 comments
The Dawn of a New Tomorrow

The Dawn of a New Tomorrow

The bell signals the end of learning for another day. Students make a rush for the door, and the temptation to join them is overwhelming. You sit down at your desk and dream of the dawn of a new tomorrow. A tomorrow with no bells; no lesson plans; no marking; and no report-writing.

When you are a teacher, the lines between day and night are blurred. Three o’clock signals the end of learning for students, and the start of paperwork for teachers.

It’s going to be another long night. Before you start tomorrow’s planning, today’s marking screams at you. Thoughts are sloshing around your head – and they need to find their way into the books to be marked, before they settle into a pool of useless, random words. Leaving the marking until later never ends well. So you open the first book, pick up your pen – and start.

Image from Pixabay.com

And Lunch?

Image from Pixabay.com

Your stomach reminds you that playground duty kept you from the staffroom, for yet another lunch break.  Along with the empty feeling in your stomach, you crave coffee. Another one of life’s simple pleasures that eludes you in your teaching day. Hot coffee and students don’t mix – Workplace Health & Safety posters adorn the staffroom walls.  No chance of forgetting. You make a mental note to stop by the coffee shop on your way home.

When is Enough, Enough?

The teaching weeks roll into teaching months. Before you know it, you’re beyond retirement age, but you are still on the treadmill. Love for your job, and dedication to it, are no consolation for the tiredness you feel. That weariness that chases you down at the end of each long day. Your non-teaching friends are in bed at a reasonable hour – you are up late, planning and writing reports. It takes its toll. Your health starts to flash warning signs – Enough is Enough!

And one day it all comes to a grinding halt. The plans you made to keep working until your seventies, not that you are too far from that magic number, disappear. You wake up one morning and think “I can’t do this anymore”. And that’s the day the resignation papers fall out of your pocket – onto the Principal’s desk.

The dawn of a new tomorrow

When I closed the classroom door for the last time, I didn’t have time to think about it too much. As soon as I made the decision to fill in the retirement-forms – I booked a cruise. I needed something to separate my working-life from my new retirement-life. And I needed something to console me in the raw days following my departure from the world that had absorbed me for more than half my life.

I poured myself into planning for the cruise from Sydney to Singapore. That trip was to close the door on my working life – sealed shut – never to be reopened; and it worked! I came home refreshed, renewed and excited about settling down into a normal life. 

Or, So I Thought!

The years of getting by on less than eight hours sleep had become stuck somewhere in my Body-Clock, and it wouldn’t budge. I found myself unable to put my head on the pillow before midnight – but I was still waking up at five or six in the morning. The problem was, there was no planning or report-writing to fill the evenings. I subscribed to paid television – but that didn’t work; there never seemed to be anything worth watching. 

I started writing. I had always loved writing and promised myself that one day I would write a book. Perhaps that ‘one day’ had arrived.

The website I dabbled in, while still teaching, suddenly had meaning. It had been sitting there, half-baked, for years. Now it was time to get it into the oven. 

And the idea of a Blog started to gel. I’d been hearing about, and reading blogs, for a long time. 

Writing; Website; Blogging

The three started to overlap, then merge, until it was only natural that they would become one. And from the ashes, my Phoenix arose.

MaureenDurney.com emerged.

My humble musings from the early days are often painful to revisit. But put into perspective, they are a yardstick by which to measure the distance I have travelled. I can see the improvement in my writing, in my website management, and therefore in my blogging.

What has had the most impact?

The Ultimate Blog Challenge!

Writing within a time-frame and to a specific topic has reined in my verbosity. The challenge dictates a blog-a-day for thirty-one days. You can’t allow yourself the luxury of extra words when the clock is ticking away beside you. Well theoretically, anyway. I still need to work on the length of my blogs. And that is a work-in-progress.

MaureenDurney.com is keeping me focused. It is absorbing me – drawing out the passion that I used to pour into my teaching. It is my new life. Learning new skills is exercising my brain, just as Professional Development did in my teaching days. 

And The Book?

The book is another work-in-progress. And the Ultimate Blog Challenge is pre-requisite learning before launching full-on into it. With my long teaching days behind me, and with the dawn of my new tomorrow, I can now devote my life to Blogging. 

MaureenDurney.com is alive and well!

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 4 comments
October Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day One

October Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day One

I’ll call it ‘Third Time Lucky’, for want of a better philosophy, but the Ultimate Blog Challenge is back. I made a weak attempt in January, then slightly better in July, and have signed up again for October. I’ve dusted off my iPad and sharpened up my keyboard, so let’s go! 

Why Am I Doing This?

I learned so much from the first two challenges that I couldn’t resist coming back for Round Three. I saw the difference the challenges made to my writing, and I know I can learn a lot more. 

And one of the great things about the Ultimate Blog Challenge is the people you meet on the journey. Accepting the challenge is a lot more than simply posting a blog each day – it’s about reading other people’s blogs. When someone makes a comment on one of my blogs, I immediately feel connected to the reader.   Leaving a comment for another blogger makes a connection with them. And it makes a difference. We don’t sit and write each day to have nobody read our writing, no matter how humble it might be. Seeing a comment at the bottom of a blog, validates the time and effort of writing it. It makes it all worthwhile. 

So, what is the Ultimate Blog Challenge?

The challenge lies in being able to address a set topic, within a specific time-frame. Since there are only twenty-four hours in a day, that’s all you get, from the time you get the topic of the day, until the next one arrives in your inbox. 

For someone like me, the ticking clock is my biggest motivator. Without the time-frame I’d spend way too long writing each blog. Writing within the confines of a day ensures I get a hurry-on. And that in turn makes sure I use less words instead of more. 

One of the things I’ve noticed about my writing is that I’m getting much more contained in my ‘wordiness’. 

“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”

N.H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poets Society

When recycling isn’t a good thing!

Recycling waste is great for the environment. Recycling blogs isn’t good for the challenge. Each blog has to be new content. Perhaps a new spin on an old theme would work, but re-posting something that has already been posted doesn’t fit within the Blog Challenge guidelines.

Here’s to writing one blog a day for the month of October!

May we all succeed and arrive at the end of the October Ultimate Blog Challenge with thirty-one blogs, done and dusted.

This is my first blog for the month.

Enjoy!

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 8 comments
The A-E of Windows and Doors

The A-E of Windows and Doors

I can be walking down any street, in any city, and be captivated by an odd shaped window or an ornate door. Luckily my iPhone is always in my pocket, so the camera is always ready to capture the moment. The downside is, I now have thousands of photos of windows and doors! When I look back on the photos, I often wish I could open some of those doors, or peer in the window to see what is on the other side.

Should we go there?

A journey through the photos of windows and doors that clog up my digital albums would not only fill these pages, but probably bore you in the process. So I’ll break the journey by sorting the photos into alphabetical order. The hardest part will be deciding which photos make it into the blog – and which ones will be left behind.

The A-E of Windows and Doors

A This beautiful building, with lots of windows and doorways, is in Amritsar, India. I’m sad that I didn’t have time to stop and get a photo from the best angle, but at least I got this much. India has some of the most amazing buildings. Obviously there is more than a touch of British heritage in the architecture of some of them, but the beautiful materials used, brings the focus back to India.

And, on to B…

B  This is window-and-door Heaven! The old Bank of New South Wales building (the one on the left) is on the corner of Queen Street Mall and George Street in Brisbane (Australia). The building on the right is the Treasury Casino. If old buildings are your thing, come to Brisbane and take a walk around the Central Business District. You’ll be amazed at the number of beautiful old buildings.

Crazy, I know, but…

…this is one of my favourite photos from the Queen Street Mall. I’m sure real photographers would quickly point out the photographic errors, but I love the lines and angles I captured in this photo. Oh, and of course, the windows!


Another B Building…

B is for Boston, USA, and the windows in this fabulous building reflect the amazing colours of the sky and the autumn (Fall) foliage. It also takes me back to my childhood. I used to have blocks that looked a lot like the colours and shapes in this building.

C Christchurch, New Zealand – the city that rebuilt itself after a devastating earthquake. I love the rustic look of these doors, as well as the shape of the glass panels. One of the advantages of photographing windows, or glass doors, is the bonus image in the reflection. 

D Devonport, New Zealand. On a very cold day in September, these windows offered some hope that there might be a warm fire glowing on the inside. If you find yourself in Auckland, take the ferry across to Devonport and investigate some of the beautiful buildings. 

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

E Ellis Island, NY USA. When I visited the home of immigration almost two years ago, I wondered if any of my relatives had walked through the door, or looked through the windows of this building. My grandfather left Sweden when he was young and sailed around the world many times before settling in Australia. Having taken the DNA test offered by Ancestry, I know I have a link to the USA, and I’m guessing it might be through some of the Swedish family that we have no knowledge of. Who knows, maybe their new life started right here in the Immigration building on Ellis Island.

What is your favourite thing to photograph?

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 2 comments

Just An iPhone Click Away

It doesn’t matter where I go, there are so many things to take photos of.   And thanks to modern technology, most of us carry a camera in our pockets, courtesy of our mobile phone. Unlike the chunky cameras of the past, today’s cameras are smaller, but incredibly sophisticated. That little window in the corner of our Smart Phone is capable of taking fantastic photos. Nowadays, great photography is as close as an iPhone click away.

In the Old Days……

I’m not going to say how old I am, but my first camera was a Kodak Box Brownie, back when they were the latest innovation in everyday photography.

StockSnap / Pixabay

Before the world of digital cameras, you had to

  • buy a roll of film
  • insert the film into the camera
  • take photos
  • remove the roll of film
  • have the film developed
  • cry over blurred photos

Too bad if you missed that once-in-a-lifetime photo, because the opportunity to take another one had probably long since disappeared. Imagine how it felt when you arrived home from your first trip to Europe – collected your six rolls worth of photos, only to find the special photo you took in Zurich – was blurred. Ughhh!!!! It’s not like you could jump in the car, drive a few miles, and take the photo again. It just didn’t work like that.

And then someone came up with the idea of the Digital Camera. No more rolls of film to be developed, and instant feedback on whether you had captured the image – or not. The digital camera revolutionised photography.

Could it get any better than this?

Oh yes!, and it did. The DSLR and Smart Phone Cameras, took photography to a new level. The Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera had been around for a very long time, but adding the Digital component brought them into the modern world. A zoom lens, added to a DSLR camera, brought the world up close, and very personal.

And Then We Got Really Smart

The mobile phone became smaller and smaller. The smaller it got, the smarter it got. And eventually it evolved with a built-in lens. As phones became more sophisticated, so did the camera. The quality of the Smart Phone camera today is outstanding. You simply aim the phone, take the photo, and check the image. Of course, there’s always the option to switch the camera around, aim the phone at yourself, and take a selfie. What could be easier than that? And photos taken with most Smart Phones are nothing short of spectacular.

And Now?

Now there’s a small camera with wide and zoom lens capability that you can attach to your phone. The Olympus Air 01 is, without a doubt, my favourite camera. It clips onto my iPhone 6S Plus easily, even when the phone is in a solid case. Photos are easy to take, and even in Auto mode, they are amazing.

I’m glad I gave in to that temptation!

When I retired from a long career in teaching, I took a cruise to Singapore to celebrate. And on that cruise, I was introduced to the Olympus Air A01 camera. Because I have always loved gadgets, and technology, I couldn’t resist the temptation, and bought the camera. I have to admit though, I deliberated on the decision for a few days before deciding it would be an investment in my future. At that point I had no idea what my future would look like, but I figured it would have to involve technology at some level. 

This photo was taken at ground level in front of the Statue of Liberty, with my Olympus Air A01 attached to my iPhone.

That tiny camera has delivered some amazing photos as I’ve tried out my travel-legs, in the first phase of retirement. There’s not much point in travelling if you can’t bring back lots of photos, and thanks to my Olympus Air A01, I’ve managed to take some amazing photos from my trips.

Small in size – big in content

The Olympus Air is so portable! The monitor is your phone. It doesn’t have to be an iPhone like mine – it works just as well with Android versions. And because it works through WiFi and Bluetooth, you simply select the Olympus Air WiFi setting, open the specific App (once you’ve paired the camera with the App), and start taking amazing photos. The zoom and wide lens are simply a setting away. No need to change lenses, it’s all there. The selling feature for me was the ability to enlarge a photo taken with the Olympus Air, without losing detail.

When you are not paying for rolls of film, and having them developed, you can take a few extra shots of that sunset, or the parrot in the tree. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped, you simply take another photo – and delete the not so good ones. You can even use software to touch up any not-so-perfect shots.

There’s no such thing as a bad photo now that photos are just an iPhone click away.

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 2 comments

On That Dark, Dreary Day

The air was frosty cold on that dark, dreary day in Seattle. Like most days, the first decision centred on coffee – the where, not the when. From that decision, all other decisions would follow. 

It was Monday. Had it been any other day, the decision would have centred on the when, not the where. On Mondays, the RedWing cafe was closed. On this Monday, the where led to another place – another suburb. 

Walk to the end of the block on 63rd Avenue – turn right – walk another block – turn left – cross the street. Wait at the Bus Stop. Watch cars passing, thankful for the warmth of a coat that is redundant back home in northern New South Wales. Wait for the bus.

The bus stops – you board the bus and feel the instant warmth from the heated interior. You wish for a traffic jam – anything to delay the inevitable moment of reaching your destination and facing the cold.

Change buses at the Interchange. The cold bites at your heels as you walk to the bus that will take you the rest of the way. Again, the warmth of the bus, albeit short-lived. Only a few stops this time. 

Then, the coffee. Starbucks. Because you know what to order at Starbucks. You know how it will taste. You slowly drink your coffee. But you are not ready to face the cold, so you order another coffee.

You watch the people. The young couple with the four-year-old – Grandparents arrive – they go through the motions. Grandpa wants to be somewhere else. The College student staring at the screen of his laptop, looking for inspiration. People come and go. You stay, until you can’t justify staying any longer. The morning coffee has dragged on. It is almost lunch time.

Put on your coat – leave the warmth – brave the cold. 

Take the bus back to the Interchange; find the bus to Rainier Beach. Feel the warmth of the heated interior.

Leave the bus, turn right and walk to the corner where the solar-powered flamingos stand – waiting to illuminate the path at night. You wonder how solar power works in that climate.

Turn left and walk along 63rd Avenue. Feel the cold, but embrace the experience.

Home – where all other decisions can now be made, on that dark, dreary day in Seattle.

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments
Nature’s Mirror To The Sky

Nature’s Mirror To The Sky

When the water is crystal clear, I look across the river and see the sky, the clouds, and the trees, mirrored on the surface. That’s when I am seeing nature at its best. And that’s what makes the Tweed River so spectacularly beautiful. When I drive along Tweed Valley Way, I glance across to the river as often as I safely can. This really is Nature’s mirror to the sky.

Nature’s Mirror

Mother Nature’s Palette

The colours of the water mirror nature’s palette of colours. It’s as if Mother Nature has spent the dark hours of the night mixing the vibrant blues and greens, for those lucky enough to see her masterpiece in the morning light. Artists and photographers try to capture the beauty, but few can do justice to what nature provides for us, free of charge.

Shades of Blue

Nothing can be more beautiful than looking into the mirror that Nature provides, right here on the Tweed River. 


Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments
Gutenberg Is On The Horizon!

Gutenberg Is On The Horizon!

WordPress is introducing Gutenberg as a new way to add and edit content on WordPress websites, based on a Block Editor concept. The full WordPress 5.0 version isn’t available yet, but the (Beta) Plugin is. When WordPress 5.0 arrives, Gutenberg will be built-in to it, and it will change the way we build WordPress websites.

Disclaimer:

    I’m not an expert in Gutenberg, or creating websites. This post is simply to show you how a novice website builder (me), has installed the Gutenberg plugin, and started using it right from the get-go. I created this page on my iPad Pro, not a desktop or laptop, so if things look different on your screen – that might be why.

MD

At the WordPress Meetups I attend, I’ve been hearing about how good Gutenberg is going to be.  And when I found out that a Gutenberg (Beta) plugin was available, I thought about installing it – but I didn’t.

I sat back for a while, and waited

Eventually, curiosity got the better of me, and I installed the plugin. And then I sat back again, and waited. Installing a new plugin is one thing; activating it is something else.

I was a bit hesitant because I had read some reviews that hinted that it wasn’t quite ready – one review even suggesting that it might break your website. I was excited about trying it, but certainly didn’t want my site to ‘break’, even though I’m not sure what a broken site looks like.

When the videos from WordCamp Sydney 2018 were released recently, I couldn’t wait to see them. I followed the link to YouTube and tuned in to see the Panel Q&A on Gutenberg. An experienced website builder gave it the thumbs up – having activated the plugin – with no adverse effects on her site.

That was all the encouragement I needed. I activated the plugin and figured out where to start. Super fast – super easy.

So what does Gutenberg do?

Right out of the box, I began by adding a Quote to a blog post I had started a few days before I downloaded the plugin.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. 

Albert Einstein 

All I had to do was just click on the + sign, and add a block to write a Quote in. What makes it really easy is being able to add the author of the quote, in a pre-determined place. Before Gutenberg, I used to spend a lot of time trying to make sure the author tag stayed close to the quote, without being picked up in the formatting assigned to the quote itself, usually a Heading. With the Gutenberg block – it’s all taken care of.

It doesn’t matter that I started the blog using the traditional method – Gutenberg just slid into place, effortlessly.

And to see if using Gutenberg from scratch is just as easy, this post was created using Gutenberg – from beginning to end. It couldn’t have been easier. 

Block-based, and easy

It’s the blocks that make Gutenberg easy to use. Instead of building a page in a single block, Gutenberg provides multiple blocks for adding text, images and quotes (plus a whole lot more). By having everything in blocks, I can move them up or down the page without having to mess around with cutting and pasting.

Each item is in its own block. This paragraph is in one block, and the images (below) are in their own. This gives me the flexibility to move things around without the risk of losing the whole page, or messing things up.

It gives the page flexibility

Adding a new paragraph still works the same way. Hitting the Enter or Return button moves the cursor down to the starting point of the new paragraph. But instead of continuing the text in the same Block as the previous paragraph, Gutenberg slips a new block in, without you even noticing – until you want to change something. When you click on the paragraph, you open up the Block – and the manoeuvreability comes into play. You can easily change the paragraph to a heading, or move the block up or down the page, or even convert the text to a list.

Adding a photo

Just click on the plus-sign to add a Block and the available options open up. Select the Image icon, and add your photo. You still have the same features –  either select a photo or image from your Media Library or upload a new image. It’s all just easier with Gutenberg. 

I Love It!

This is only scratching the very outer layer of what the Gutenberg plugin can do. I have only played around with the parts that are relevant to me, right now. As my needs grow, so will my learning.

In writing this naiive and humble outline of my short journey with Gutenberg, I hope I have inspired you to get that domain name you’ve been thinking about, download WordPress and the Gutenberg Plugin, and start creating your own website.

And for the more experienced WordPress website creators, I can’t wait to read about your journey with the new Gutenberg (Beta) Plugin. 

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments
My Annus Horribilis!

My Annus Horribilis!

In 1992, Queen Elizabeth II dragged a Latin phrase out of antiquity, and gave it modern prominence. I remember the speech well. When the Queen uttered the seemingly inoccuous Latin phrase, snickers (I mean – the smothered laugh variety – nothing to do with chocolate) went up simultaneously around the world. Did she just say Annus? Oh, wait, that’s Annus, with two n’s – right – got it. Given the events of that year, Queen Elizabeth had certainly endured her annus horribilis – or, ‘worst year’. My annus horribilis usurped almost all of 2010. Certainly not for the same reasons as the reigning Monarch’s annus horribilus, but just as horrible.

 

Horribilis or Mirabilis?

The year started okay, but took a steep nose-dive somewhere around the middle. I can’t account for how, when, or why, but it deteriorated rapidly.

While the ‘Annus Horribilis’ was unfolding, I kept thinking, “Something good will come out of this”. It became my Mantra. But while I was stuck in the middle of the ‘horrible-ness’ of the year, I struggled to really believe any good would come of it, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself.

I guess we all have bad days, but when a whole year falls apart at the seams, you know you have to do something different.

And that’s exactly what I did.

I packed up my car and drove

I left the city behind, and headed North-West. Away from the surf, sand, and Starbucks; the busy shopping centres and growing trend of ‘chocolate’ cafes, and from the friends I’d hung out with.

But not before kicking 2010 out, and welcoming 2011 in, with open arms. I don’t normally celebrate New Year’s Eve, but I did that year. I booked into a hotel in Brisbane, and watched the clock strike midnight over the Brisbane River, with fireworks lighting up the night sky and the water. As 2010 rolled out to sea, 2011 beamed over the horizon, and I knew things would be different that year.

A long way from home

Isolated – compared to the city I left behind – and yet surrounded by amazing people.

My sojourn in the bush began in January 2011 and was meant to last for six months, but six months turned into five years. Five years of isolation – time to reflect and grow; it’s amazing how strong you can be when you have to. And it’s amazing how your annus mirabilis can emerge out of the toughest moments.

The place that I was to call home for five years had no sand, or surf; no shopping centres full of trendy shops; none of the friends that I used to hang out with. And it was a four-hour round-trip to anything that even remotely resembled a city, or a Starbucks. But I loved every minute of being there. My annus mirabilis lasted the whole five years in that quiet little region.

Time to watch the grass grow

Going from a busy city to a small town gave me perspective – I found out what peace sounds like. When you are immersed in city life, you rarely stop to think about any other existence. The hustle and bustle of a metropolis keep propelling you forward, and you think there is no other way to live. And then you sit on your verandah, in a town of less than 2000 people, and listen to the grass grow outside your door. It is then you realise there are two sides: the noisy and the quiet – the busy and the slow – the near and the far.

After five years of the quiet, I needed the noisy – but not the noisy I had left behind. I wanted something in-between. The not so near, and the not so fast.

I found it in Murwillumbah, where I have the best of both worlds. The not so far, the not so quiet, and the not so slow, is right here in my own backyard.

A thirty minute drive to the busy and the noisy is easy when I want to be immersed in all the Gold Coast has to offer, including the sea, the sand and the Starbucks.

Now I am content to sit on my verandah and hear the muffled sounds of life around me – not the sounds of constant traffic – or the grass growing. Just the peaceful sounds of life – not intrusive – just there.

 My annus horribilis is a distant memory and has never been repeated. Now, every year is an annus mirabilis; each one gently rolls over to make way for the next great year.

Life in Paradise just keeps getting better.

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 2 comments