challenge

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
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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 2 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!

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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!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 8 comments
July Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day One

July Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day One

This might not be a good start to the July Ultimate Blog Challenge! Am I doomed before I even start? I spent ages writing a blog post to prepare the few faithful followers of my blogs for what was about to happen. I announced that I was embarking on the challenge, explained how it had come about, and launched into a lengthy dialogue about the website for my blog. And just for good measure, I posted the blog on my website yesterday, which was the 30th June, in my neck of the universal woods. The topic for Day One is out now, and I’m doomed.

Let me go back a step. One of the major rules of the Blog Challenge is that you have to post a new blog ‘on the day’, not submit a link to something you posted earlier.

Why is this such a major catastrophe? I have been waiting anxiously all day, the first day of July here in Australia, for the Blog Challenge to begin. Because of the time difference between Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the Challenge only officially started a few hours ago.

Can you guess what the challenge for today is?

Tell your readers about the July Ultimate Blog Challenge and why you are doing it!

I’ve already done that! I posted it yesterday! That means I can’t post it again as the first blog of the challenge.

Disaster! Chaos! Heck!!!

Wait a minute. This is a challenge, right? And a challenge isn’t meant to be easy. Hmmm; that puts it into perspective.


I can do this. I have already told everyone about the Challenge, so now all I have to do is post these humble thoughts about how challenging the challenge is. Simple!

Okay, I’ve got this. This is my post for Day One of the July Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Oh, and another rule is that I can’t do the automatic post to my Facebook page, like I usually do, so you’ll need to check back on my page each day to find the post. Or, you could subscribe to my posts on the form below, then you will get an email to tell you when I’ve posted a new challenge. Either way will work.

Enjoy!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 10 comments
Blog Post Challenge

Blog Post Challenge

The Pen Is Poised And The Gloves Are Off!

Let The Blog Post Challenge Begin

Today I signed up for a Blog Post Challenge – to post a blog each day of January. So, I’ve taken off the gloves, the virtual pen is poised, and I’m ready to write. Given that I’m already a few days behind, I either have to write fast to catch up, or resign myself to the fact that I’ve failed before I even begin. I’ll try the former but live with the latter if I have to.

Ready To Write…

It’s Personal

My idea of blogging is that it’s a personal thing, well, for me anyway. I don’t have a set theme for my blogs, apart from the majority of them just neatly slipping into a travel theme. But I like to think I’m a personal blogger – someone who just writes because it’s fun and it usually seems like a good idea at the time. So if you choose to follow me on this quest, don’t expect miracles because there won’t be any. I’ll just be plodding along, building up my mental muscles and stretching my creative biceps as I go.

Inspiration?

When I travel, my blog is filled with photos, held together with the memories of being there. Inspiration comes easy when you have stood in front of the magnificence of the Taj Mahal, or the splendour of the Bund and Shanghai Harbour at night.

Standing in front of the Taj Mahal

The Bund – Shanghai

Or ‘No Idea’?

When I am not travelling, my blog is interspersed with silent pauses as I sit in silence, wondering what the heck to write about.

My day usually starts with a ritual coffee on the verandah to ease into the morning, and continues with nothing more exciting than a trip to the mailbox.

So dear followers, if you are subjected to a flowery description of the path leading to the mailbox, you’ll know I’m home from whatever exotic island I’ve recently travelled to, and I have no idea where the next inspiring thought will come from. And this is indeed the blog post challenge.

The path to the mailbox

Time Will Tell

One my favourite songs by Air Supply is ‘Making Love Out Of Nothing At All’. Now let’s see how I go making a story out of nothing at all. Can I create a gripping read out of something as mundane as opening the mailbox? Will I post a blog a day with the Blog Post Challenge? Only time will tell.

Given that I’m already a few days behind, I either have to write fast to catch up, or resign myself to the fact that I’ve failed before I even start. I’ll try the former but live with the latter if I have to.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments