Travel

The F-K of Doors and Windows

The F-K of Doors and Windows

The F-K of doors and windows is a journey through some of the places I’ve visited here in Australia, and across the world. Some of the photos might need to be viewed with a little more imagination than others – but – most  fall neatly into their assigned category.

F Well, this kind of qualifies in the F category. A stroll down Flinders Lane Melbourne opens up a whole new world of ornate doors and windows. How beautiful are these?  The curves, the panels – it all adds up to a beautiful piece of architecture and craftsmanship – or – should that be ‘craftspersonship’?

On to the G’s…

G The Treasury Casino is on George Street Brisbane. The windows and doors are stunning and provide the perfect backdrop for the colours that magically transform the Brisbane night sky. It doesn’t matter what angle you view this building from – its beauty is exceptional, especially at night. The former life of the building was a Government Office, dating back to 1886.

Old brick building, the Treasury Casino Brisbane, with red lights highlighting the sides of the building.
George Street Brisbane: Treasury Casino

Oh gee – Microsoft Windows!  

Buildings on Granville Street Vancouver at dusk with the Microsoft building highlighted in a bubble
Granville Street  Vancouver

H is for….

H Hamilton, Brisbane. The Kookaburra Queen entertains diners as it steams its way along the Brisbane River. The light coming from the windows on the old Paddle Steamer is reflected beautifully on the water at night. If you find yourself in Brisbane, you can dance the night away on a dinner-cruise onboard the Kookaburra Queen.

Old paddle steamer boat on the Brisbane River at night with the lights from the boat reflecting on the water
The Kookaburra Queen at Hamilton, Brisbane

I – well – it has to be India

I India! What comes to mind when we think of India? The Taj Mahal, of course. The magnificence of the buildings has to be seen to be appreciated. The windows and doors that make up the total experience of the Taj Mahal are spectacular! Just to stand in the shadow of this romantic building is amazing.

White dome-shaped ornate arches of the Taj Mahal in India
The Taj Mahal – India

And then, onto J

J Jiangsu – well – Nanjing to be precise, but it comes under the broader heading of Jiangsu. I love the way the new buildings can be seen through the archway of the old. Not exactly a door or a window, but I love the colours on the old structure. The colours in this elaborate entrance would welcome even the most weary traveller.

Typically old Chinese colourful arch structure with modern buildings behind it.
Jiangsu, Nanjing – China

On Jefferson Street you can stand and peer in this window and watch the experts mould the sourdough into delicious sourdough bread at the Boudin Bakery. There’s nothing better on a cold day in San Francisco, than going to the Boudin Bakery for soup in a sourdough bread bowl. Just thinking about it brings back so many memories…

Baker shaping sourdough into buns at Boudin Bakery San Francisco
Boudin Bakery, Jefferson Street (San Francisco)

The journey ends at K

K Kangaroo Point in Brisbane – home of the beautiful St Mary’s Anglican Church. The windows, as expected in a building like this, are spectacular. I sat in the church recently (at a wedding) and was mesmerised by the colours. I was grateful that the bride was a little late because it gave me time to take photos and admire the beauty of the stained glass.

Old stone church with stained glass windows in Kangaroo Point Brisbane
Kangaroo Point Brisbane

As I meander through the twenty-plus thousand photos I have stored on my i-Devices, I wonder why I have so many photos of doors and windows? So far I’ve covered the A-E and F-K of doors and windows, so stay tuned – the journey will continue until we get to Z.

By the way, if you know any place that starts with the letter Z, please let me know in the comments section below. Otherwise, we’ll only get to Y.

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 2 comments
What Has Changed?

What Has Changed?

Where do I start to describe what has changed over my lifetime? The obvious would be to segment my life into two categories: childhood and adulthood. But is that too simplistic?

The changes that have mattered most, happened on the brink of, and well into adulthood. 

But there is one consistant theme that has run through all the changes that my life has been witness to – and that is: learning.

Can I separate change from learning?

No!

Change and learning have been lifelong partners. Each change was the vehicle for valuable lessons. Things I wanted to learn – and those I needed to learn – albeit reluctantly.

My learning distance isn’t measured in time, but in experience.   

Maureen Durney

Every move I made, whether it was across town or to the other side of the world, taught me something new. At eighteen I moved Interstate; leaving home to become an adult with responsibilities. I learned independence and dependence, both at the same time. Independence: when I had to mend a fuse in the middle of the night because the man of the house was away; dependence: when I relied on him to do it, because it was his job as the man of the house. That’s how it was back then.

Map of Life 

Most people have their lives mapped out in the usual order: study; career; marriage; children; return to career. I was never good at fitting in with what everyone else was doing. College was put on hold until my children were both at school.

College Days …

I finished College and worked in a temporary, but full-time position while waiting for my appointment to a school. The offer came at the same time as the opportunity to move to Malaysia. Malaysia won. Teaching was put on hold. 

Crossing Oceans

Leaving the shores of Australia, I called Malaysia home, for two years. I learned resilience. New cultures, routines and a lot of diversity. I was an outsider in my new country – but I fitted in. 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

The return to Australia – and the beginning of my career

On returning to Australia I reclaimed my career, and teaching began in earnest. I learned confidence. My goal had been to work in Special Education, but I started out in mainstream, as every teacher should. I served what I felt was sufficient time – then moved into Special Ed.

Circumstances changed; I packed up my career and belongings, and moved Interstate. I learned aloneness. Aloneness goes beyond independence. Aloneness was when I realised that I wanted to go home at night, close the door, and shut the world out – if only for the next twelve hours. 

More Study

Post-Graduate courses filled the night-times, and every other waking hour outside of the school day. Two nights a week I sat in classes, having driven almost an hour to get there. I learned persistence. Days and nights rolled into each other; always filled with journal articles; always filled with note-taking. I graduated three times in three years.

Graduation Day – Masters Degree 

The confidence, persistence, resilience and independence that I’d learned along the way, led to advancements in my career. I progressed from the classroom to an administrative role, but still with a teaching component. Instead of having one classroom, I had many. My role was to support students with disability, their parents and their teachers. I learned advocacy. It wasn’t easy explaining to a teacher that Ben could listen better if he didn’t have to look at her. And it wasn’t easy mopping up the tears of a mum who felt she had let her child down by not being an expert in disability. Nobody is an expert in disability; but every mum knows her child best. Babies aren’t born with an instruction book attached; we simply do our best. And that is all that matters.

The New Phase

Thousands of students later, career gave way to retirement. Time to put my feet up; sleep in; take life a little easier. Time to travel. I learned spontaneity. When an opportunity to pack my bags arose – I packed – sometimes with only a week between trips. Thousands of photos and a lifetime of memories that will now spill out onto the pages of my blogs.

New York City skyline with US flag flying high

The changes and learning in my life have led me home. Moving Interstate at eighteen; across the world at other times; and back to my home-state for retirement.

I’m home.

The changes may be less significant in this phase – but they are still happening. And each one comes with new learnings.

And that is how it should be.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 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!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 14 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?

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 1 comment

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.

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments
Day 31 – UBC – Did I Learn Anything?

Day 31 – UBC – Did I Learn Anything?

The last day of the July Challenge – and despite all efforts, I only managed to post twenty-three new articles on my Blog in July. Did I fail? Did I learn anything? Was it worth it?

Did I Learn Anything?

Whether I consider it a failure or not, I managed a lot more this time than the last time I accepted the Challenge. I might have only made it to Day 23, but I definitely learned a lot, so it was worth every word I typed; every late night I had; and every nightmare about the 31st July, looming menacingly above me, as I slept.

I can now write a shorter blog, find the image I need faster – especially with Pixabay.com, and get the green SEO lights from the Yoast Plugin, without too much effort. But I still need to work faster. If nothing else, at least I know where my shortfalls are, and hopefully how to fix them.

Write On!

When the next Ultimate Blog Challenge comes around, I hope I am more prepared than this time. Yes, I had a few drafts ready, but they weren’t easily tweaked to fit the day’s agenda.

For the next challenge I plan to have some short blogs drafted – based on general topics – not too specific. Oh, and I will have a long list of photos ready to cover any special day that might arise that month – how did I not see the Fourth of July coming!

If you made it to the finish line with all thirty-one blogs posted, you are amazing! If, like me, you were dragging the chain a bit – I know we’ll get there next time. Now, I’ll catch up on cleaning a neglected house, and wash the car.

As I bid my fellow-bloggers goodbye, I hope that we will meet again. I will continue to enjoy reading your blogs, and look forward to meeting you on a page somewhere, sometime soon.

RyanMcGuire / Pixabay

Thank you for reading my blog posts, and for taking the time to comment.

So until the next Ultimate Blog Challenge – that’s it for me.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments
Day 22 – UBC – In the Shadow of Mount Warning

Day 22 – UBC – In the Shadow of Mount Warning

The only trouble with living close to an iconic landmark or attraction is that you rarely get up close and personal with it. How many attractions are in your area that you seldom, or have never visited? You know they are there but you keep saying “One day I’ll climb that mountain”, or “One day I’ll visit that castle”, but that ‘one-day’ slips further away until you start saying, “I’ll get there, some day”.  And that’s how it was for me, living in the shadow of Mount Warning, in the beautiful Northern Rivers area of New South Wales – my one-day just kept slipping by.

Then ‘one-day’ a friend mentioned a cafe she had been to, that I hadn’t. We consulted our diaries, decided on a day and time, and headed out of town.

Rainforest Cafe

We were in search of the Rainforest Cafe, nestled in the leafy surrounds of the base of Mount Warning, otherwise known as Wollumbin, which is the Aboriginal name for Mt Warning.

So we sat by the creek at the Rainforest Cafe, under the trees, and sipped our milkshake, and coffee, and ate amazing Middle Eastern cake. In the process, we managed to prove that there is no better place for a relaxing breakfast, lunch, morning or afternoon tea than the Rainforest Cafe at Wollumbin. And then, to offload the calories, we walked through the trees beside the creek, taking photos of nature at its best.

Okay – this isn’t the best photo I’ve ever taken, but I love the effects..

There is no shortage of colour, shapes and rays of sun to capture in photographic spleandour. You just need a full battery on your smart phone and you’ll have plenty of content to upload on whichever Social Media you subscribe to.

On the Steep and Narrow Road

When we left the cafe, a right-turn took us up the hill towards the majestic Mount Warning. The road was steep and narrow; there isn’t a lot of room for passing another car on that road. But luckily there wasn’t much traffic and my friend’s car made the climb seemingly effortlessly.  Although, when we reached a plateau’d car-park near the top, there was a slight ‘hot’ smell coming from the engine. Compact car – steep climb, what more could we expect?

Rise and Shine, Australia!

The Bundjalung People are the original custodians of the land surrounding, and beyond Mount Warning. For them, the mountain is a sacred site. With respect for the Bundjalung people, I would rather treat the site as sacred ground and not climb to the top of Mount Warning. Just to be able to see its beauty up close and personal from a lower point, is all I need.

Mount Warning is said to be the first place in Australia to witness the birth of every new day, as the sun peeps over the mountain, ready to warm the earth below.

While it boasts a New South Wales address, Mount Warning is still close enough to be a short trek for South East Queenslanders, and visitors to the Gold Coast. The uniqueness of its peak makes Mount Warning easily identifiable, from both sides of the border. Seeing Mount Warning from a plane, while taxiing into the Gold Coast Airport, is the warm welcome-home you look forward to, after travelling far and wide.

The only thing that says “Welcome Home” louder than Mount Warning, is the Tweed River, as you drive along Tweed Valley Way on your way into Murwillumbah. Only then do we appreciate the real beauty of where we live.

What! You don’t believe me?

Then come and see for yourself. Oh, and let me know when you’ll be heading into town and we’ll meet for a coffee, I know all the best places, and they are all in the shadow of Mount Warning.

See you in Murwillumbah!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 4 comments

Day 20 – UBC – Five Ways to get Rid of Ants!

It isn’t a picnic without ants, but having them take over your kitchen is a whole new ball game. The tiny ones find their way into places you didn’t even know you had. Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of ways to get rid of ants, so here’s a list of my top five suggestions.

How to Get Rid of ANTs

  1. Talcum Powder – this was one of the first things I tried. The theory is, if you leave a trail of talcum powder along the path ants take, they won’t step in it. I tried it. It worked. But it didn’t stop them completely. The ants outsmarted me by finding new paths into the same kitchen. WARNING! Don’t breathe in the fine powder, as it could be harmful.
  2. Ant-Rid – Yep! This worked – temporarily. I used Ant-Rid a very long time ago; long before ants built up an immunity to it.
  3. Borax – mixed with anything that is sweet. I used Maple Syrup, but you could use honey. I mixed the concoction into a sticky, gooey mess and then dripped it across the top of the cupboard, which is where the ants were making their pilgrimage. It worked – but it was SO messy. WARNING! Don’t use this method if you have young children or fur-babies. Apparently, Borax isn’t kid-friendly or pet-friendly. Actually, I think the jury is still out on whether it is good for anyone to be exposed to it. There are warnings about prolonged use – it can cause skin irritations; and even warnings about the risks of ingesting it (I can’t imagine why anyone would want to). But, I’ll let you decide that one, if you choose to try this method.
  4. Cornflour – that’s what we call it in Australia. I think it is called Cornstarch in the US – but don’t quote me on that. Whatever it is called, it works. I don’t know how it works, but it does. It is safe to use – after all, we cook with it – right? You just have to get used to the white trails around your kitchen. I’d rather a solid, static white trail any day, to the moving, black line of ants climbing the wall.
  5. Diatomaceous Earth – (DE) – Food Grade. This one definitely works – and is safe to use around the house. Not only is DE safe for pets, you could add some to their food to improve their overall health, as well. Oh, and it has health benefits for humans too. BUT – with any fine powdery substance, be careful not to breathe in the fine dust.

Call the Ant-Busters!

If you have a serious problem with the little crawlies that insist on lining up along your kitchen benches, you might need to seek professional assistance. Finding the nest will help.

Even though I have shared my list of five ways to get rid of ants, I would prefer using methods that deter them, rather than cause them any serious harm (or fatality!).

Deterrants:

Keep benches free of anything sticky and sweet that might attract ants; wipe benches with Pepperming Oil; keep food in sealed, airtight containers; wipe known ant-paths with Peppermint Oil.

Hopefully, with these proactive measures in place – I won’t have to use any of the more deadly strategies.

Well, that’s the plan, anyway.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments

Day 13 – Number Thirteen – Lucky or Not?

Of all the numbers that make up our world, number thirteen probably has the worst reputation of them all. Whether you are superstitious or not, you more than likely avoid walking under ladders, or crossing paths with a black cat on any Friday that has the number thirteen (13) attached to it. I know I do.

But on the 13th August, 2013, I didn’t have time to think about superstition. My day started, as it usually did, at 7.30am. That’s the time I would put my cafe-bought coffee down on my desk, unpack my laptop, and start sifting through the hundreds of emails that greeted me each day. From then on, it was full-on. Classes to visit, students to attend to, paperwork to handle, and if I was lucky, it wasn’t a day that I had to drive an hour to another school. I was lucky that day.

And then it went pear-shaped, in a BIG way!

The bell had rung to signal the end of learning. I frantically put the finishing touches to a report that had to be written, and started gathering up the information I needed to take to the Staff Meeting. The one that usually started at about 3.10pm and finished anywhere between 4.45 and 5.00pm (if we were lucky).

Without warning, one of my favourite students came rushing in. He was obviously upset about something, and proceeded to unleash his pent-up frustrations on my office. It looked like a bomb had exploded, well, it sort of had, by the time he was finished. I managed to calm him down enough to get him onto his bus, headed for home, when the second attack arrived.

Strike Two!

Another student, also having had a bad day, unleashed a verbal barrage in my direction, then stormed off. I could only hope that he had settled down by the time he walked home.

The first thing I had to do was phone the mother of the first student, and warn her that she may be collecting a tornado from the bus that afternoon. Given that the bus ride was an hour long, she may be lucky enough to have him arrive in a calm state – but I doubted it.

I made the call, gathered up my staff-meeting documents, and arrived late. What could I do? Some things take priority over meetings, and warning a parent of impending trouble was one of them.

The Paper Trail

At the end of the meeting, I trudged wearily back to my office. It was now time to face the paperwork that goes with any kind of student melt-down. Oh, and before I could sit down to do that, I had to put my office back together.

By the time the paperwork was done, reports written, parents called and plans put in place for the next day, it was after 7pm. And it was dark! I put my jacket and briefcase over my left shoulder, turned off the lights, and locked the office door.

Wow, it was dark!

It wasn’t the first time I had left school that late, but it just seemed darker than usual. As I turned the corner near the Administration office, I noticed that the sprinklers were still on. As I was wondering why Barb (our Groundsperson) had left them on, my foot stumbled across a hole in the cement. It all happened so fast, I can’t tell you much about the next bit, except that the weight of my briefcase and jacket, slung over my left shoulder, pushed me faster and more heavily towards the cement path. I put my right hand out to stop my fall and felt the weight of everything on my left side come crashing down on me.

There I was, sprawled out across the path, grateful that anyone with any sense was already home. My not-so-elegant departure had not been witnessed by anyone, therefore my dignity (what was left of it) was reasonably intact.

But First, a Milkshake…

Somehow, I managed to get myself back into a vertical position, gather up all my belongings, and wonder if my laptop had survived the fall. Everything seemed fine – except for my right wrist. I hadn’t ever had a broken bone before so I had no way of knowing if my wrist was broken, or just severely sprained. It looked odd, felt odd, and it hurt.

I managed to drive with my left hand only – very grateful for the automatic transmission – and made it to the local cafe that was still open. As you do in any crisis, you stop for a milkshake. But my right wrist was not ‘right’. Luckily, home was not far away, and I made it there with everything intact – with the exception of a bone in my wrist that was making its fractured state well-and-truly felt.

The Emergency Department

Figuring that I would have to sit in the emergency department at the local hospital for a few hours, I managed to put on some warmer clothes, and drive myself the short distance to our very small hospital. The first question that was asked, of course, was how did it happen? As I recounted the story of falling over in the dark as I was leaving school, the bewildered look on the faces of the medical team prompted another question. “Why were you leaving school in the dark?”. That question didn’t warrant a legitimate answer. It was too complicated. A simple ‘Paperwork’ sufficed.

And to this day, I remember the date that I broke my right wrist. It was 13th August, 2013. Am I superstitious? Nah. It just happened.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments
July UBC – Day Six – Was I Stronger Than I Thought?

July UBC – Day Six – Was I Stronger Than I Thought?

You never know how strong you are until something goes wrong. When life throws all it has at you, you can either crumple, or stand up to it. I found out I was stronger than I thought.

There was a year in my life when everything came apart – it just slowly unravelled, and by the end of the year I knew I had to do something drastic. Without going into too much detail, the problem centred around the job I had at the time. I was a teacher, but I had taken on a promotion position that involved a lot of stress. It’s funny with teaching; you go into it for all the right reasons, but the only way to progress to higher ranks, is to leave the classroom. And in my usual non-planning way, I kind of fell into the promotion situation – temporarily at first – and then for the long haul.

Stress is a Killer!

Along with the stress of the job, I had a few personal things happening as well. It was complicated, and it was really bad timing, but, when are problems ever well-timed? I loved the core essence of my job – the kids – but coping with the other things that make up the sum of what keeps a school going, is hard. Anyone who knows a teacher, knows what I’m talking about. Could I handle another year of stress? Could I handle even one more day of stress? The answer was a resounding, No!

As One Year Ends…

As the end of the school year came hurtling towards me, I  knew there were some tough decisions to be made. There were a few options – okay, they weren’t brilliant, but they provided a faint light at the end of the tunnel. And I was reasonably sure it wasn’t the light of an oncoming train. The first thing I knew for sure, was that at least for a short time, I needed to walk away. Scanning the online job portal became my morning routine for a few weeks. I scoured the pages of jobs, always finding an excuse for not making the call that could take me away from it all. Days turned into weeks, and the situation suddenly had urgency. Then one morning, I made the call that would change my life.

Central Queensland needed a teacher for six months. If I could talk my way into it, this could solve two problems: I would be back in the classroom, and I’d be away from the stressful situation of my current position. Six months was all I needed. Because I already held a permanent position at my current school, I had to do a lot of talking to swing the temporary transfer. Government departments are so technical!

Moving On

The Principal understood my position and had actually suggested I take leave, so he was happy to endorse the move. The problems I had faced were the result of some serious mis-management issues, mixed with a shot of bullying. By the time the Principal became aware of the full extent of it, it had gone too far. My motto throughout life had always been: I can handle this. But I had slipped to one of the lowest points of my life, and would have contemplated resigning from the job I loved, if I hadn’t made the decision to take time-out, instead of leaving – with with my soul and spirit in tatters. This was one time when the I can handle this motto, failed me.

That year was tough, but so was the emotional roller-coaster I felt as I packed up my car, ready to drive the 677 kms to a place I had never been. The trip would take close to eight hours and my car was packed to the rafters, with everything I imagined I would need for the next six months. Yes, I even had my trusty old Espresso coffee machine on the back seat. Thank God I had the foresight to pack it, as I was to discover that good coffee was nowhere to be seen on weekends and late-nights in the tiny town I was headed for. Accommodation was part of the deal, so I only needed the small stuff. My teaching resources accounted for every other available space in the car.

When I couldn’t squeeze another thing in, I headed out of town. But first, a coffee with my best friend. We met at the coffee shop on the brink of the motorway; the motorway that would lead me to one of the biggest changes of my life. Saying goodbye to my best friend, the one who had been my closest ally for the past year, was hard to do. But, I reminded myself that it would only be for six months.

Leaving the sun and the surf behind…

On The Way

As I turned the car onto the highway, a wave of terror descended on me. What could I have been thinking? Was I serious? Yes, it had been a tough year. But, driving eight hours into the unknown? Was I crazy? My mind started doing a juggling act between the lesser of two evils. I kept driving. Ideas rushed through my mind, one after the other, each posing valid arguements, for and against. I kept driving. At one point I almost gave in – I almost turned around. But then, thoughts of the most stressful elements of the past year took hold; I maintained the position of ‘straight ahead – keep going – it will all be okay. I kept driving.

Within days of arriving, the new school year began and I knew I had made the right decision. It was like a huge weight had lifted off my shoulders. From the first day at my new school, I felt like I had come home. The effects of the previous year weren’t easily shaken off, but it did get better. It took at least six months to be able to breathe easily again, and fall asleep without fear of nightmares.

Six Months, And Then….

Oh, and the six months? By June, my new Principal asked me if I could arrange a permanent transfer. That was one decision I didn’t have to think about. I picked up the phone and rang my past Principal – he was happy to sign it off. And the six months? I stayed in that tiny town for five years, and met some amazing people. In my second year there, I was asked to step back into the Administration role, and I was ready for it. That same year, parents and administrators from the six schools I serviced as part of my role, nominated me for a national teaching award. I felt very undeserving, but honoured, and made it into the final round.

There is absolutely nothing like a country town and country people to restore your faith in yourself. You just have to be brave enough to accept the challenge of surrendering the known, in exchange for the unknown.

I did it! And it changed my life!

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 4 comments