Ultimate blog challenge

That Didn’t End Well!

October – here one minute and gone the next. I can remember sitting here at my keyboard on the first day of October, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Now I’m sitting here on the last day of October wondering what the heck happened? Where did October go? And all I can say is – well – that didn’t end well. 

It always sounds so easy. Just post a blog each day, for a month. What could go wrong? 

Life!

That’s what could go wrong – and it did! I knew I was in for a busy month; I just didn’t anticipate how busy it would get. The committee I’m on needed attention – a little more than usual – and WordCamp happened. Add to that a sick neighbour who needed assistance and you’ve got a whole lot of too-tired-to-write nights. 

Okay, WordCamp Brisbane 2018 was only one weekend – but it entailed a lot of planning. I live about one-hundred and thirty kms from Brisbane. At the very least it takes about one-and-a-half hours to drive there, but factor in road-works and heavy traffic – and you’ve got a more realistic time of close to two hours. Now that’s a little too far to drive to and from each day, so the first planning that had to be done was finding accommodation. With the first morning being a seven-thirty start, the accommodation was needed for Friday and Saturday nights.

The Options…

I looked at a few options, but because I was driving there, I had to find accommodation for my car as well. Has anyone found car-parking in the city that didn’t necessitate mortgaging the house to pay for it? The options weren’t too exciting:

  • Park on the other side of the river and drag luggage across the bridge (at least the parking is more affordable on the south side) 
  • Park in one of the parking stations in the city and be prepared for the hefty cost at the end of the two days (at least I’d be on the right side of the bridge)
  • Phone the hotel and see if they have parking and would it be affordable (I seriously doubted both)
Photo of Level 4 Row 1 of the Myer Centre Carpark
A photo of the carpark is a good reminder of where I left the car…

The last option won

I chose the Ibis Styles Hotel (right next to the Myer Centre) for two reasons:

  1. I have AccorPlus membership which gives me discounted accommodation; option of using my accumulated points; free WiFi; discounted food in the restaurant; priority check-in; 
  2. Location – the Hotel is: an easy walk to QUT (Queensland University of Technology), the venue for WordCamp; in the heart of the city; oh, and did I mention there is a Starbucks on the corner? Getting my morning coffee is not an option – it is a ‘survival-choice’. 
But first, coffee! 

A call to the Ibis Styles Hotel on Elizabeth Street cemented the deal. I could park in the Myer Centre carpark for $20 a day, as long as I remembered to have my ticket validated at check-out. Bargain!

Then there was the planning of what to pack for the weekend. I usually take three cases when I travel: one in case it is too hot; one in case it is too cold; and one in case it is just right. And then there is my technology bag, which usually weighs more than the other three put together. This time I had to economise. Even though the hotel is next door to the Myer Centre, I still had to drag my luggage from the carpark, through the shopping centre, out onto Elizabeth Street, and up to the door of the hotel. I ended up with one small bag for clothes and my usual large backpack for technology. It worked.

And WordCamp?

Two days of non-stop learning! Even though it meant more than two days away from writing (remember all the planning?), I figure it was a great investment in my blogging. What I learned that weekend will help me work faster and smarter – not harder.

WordCamp is all about using a WordPress website which is great for Blogging
Looking towards the path leading from Z Block at QUT
QUT – Z Block

So even though October has gone and the Ultimate Blog Challenge didn’t end well, I came through relatively unscathed – although exhausted – and a lot better off, knowledge-wise.

Life is a journey, and every moment taken for learning is a giant leap forward. 

Maureen Durney

So until we meet on another Ultimate Blog Challenge – this is me signing off. And now I’ll go back to just ‘blogging’. 

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments
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
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 17 – UBC – Follow That Blog!

I don’t care that today is the twenty-third day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge (July) and I’m officially six days behind – I’m persevering, right to the end. The challenge for Day 17 is to make a list of blogs that I follow. So, rather than giving you a list of my favourites, I’m going to explain why you should follow that blog you’ve been reading. We all have favourite authors – I know I have – but are we as loyal to bloggers? My favourite author is Bryce Courtenay, and before he sadly passed from his earthly existence a few years ago, he was publishing a book every year. I read almost every one of them. He was my favourite author because I had come to expect a certain style in his writing and I trusted that every book would hold my attention.

An E-Book Gathers No Dust

Before technology took such a formidable hold on our lives, bookshelves bulged at the seams with our favourite books. Most of us collected the works of a few authors, but we probably had a smattering of non-descript interest books as well. I know my shelves had their fair share of DIY projects;  recipe books; self-help books; and anything else that held my interest long enough to read about it. Gradually, my bookshelves gave way to a Kindle e-Reader. Technology had opened up a world of reading. I could search the Internet for e-books (electronic books) and download them to my Kindle with just one click. But the best thing was, e-books cost a whole lot less than hard-copy books and I didn’t need a lot of shelves to hold them. E-books gather no dust!

There’s An App For That!

The Kindle eventually gave way to a Kindle App on my iPad and iPhone. My i-devices are just as portable as the Kindle, but much more versatile. I can choose any book from my e-book library, wherever I am; I always have at least one of my i-devices with me. Another advantage is, whichever device I am using, the reader automatically opens the book at the page I was up to on the other device. Alas, I now have a box full of redundant bookmarks that I have collected over the years. But, that’s a small price to pay for convenience. Technology is marching on, and we now have Bloggers – and God Bless every one of them. We no longer have to search for and buy books on every subject from Arthropod to Zephyr. All we need to do is find a blogger whose expertise matches our interest, and Voila!, we have an endless supply of reading material. Not only can we read about our favourite subject, we can interact with it. Bloggers usually provide a section somewhere on the page that allows you to ask questions and/or make comments.

And the best news is…

Bloggers usually have a wealth of information up their sleeve. Their blogs might provide an overview, or a sample of a much longer discourse on the subject. And they often write e-books. By reading their blogs, you can get a feel for their knowledge and expertise, and make an informed decision about buying their e-book. It’s kind of a try-before-you-buy offer. So, rather than just read a blog that you like, FOLLOW the blog. That way, you’ll keep up with current information; get to know the writer’s style and level of expertise; and, buy their e-book with confidence, if they have written one. Perhaps the Comment Section on their blog site would be a good place to suggest an e-book, if they don’t already have one. An e-book would be everything you wanted to know about the subject, in one handy format, rather than wait for the daily/weekly/monthly instalment in blog form.

Follow That Blog!

All you have to do is search for blogs on your favourite subject, read a few, decide which one meets your needs, then Follow That Blog!

Simple!!!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 4 comments

Day 14 – Putting the Social – in Social Media

Social Media – you either love it or you hate it. I’m not sure if there is a middle road, but if there is, I am travelling right along the centre line. My first encounter with Facebook was in 2006, in San Francisco. Back then, Facebook was relatively new, having only been launched by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard friends in 2004. In fact, 2oo6 was when the group opened up their project to the world.

Are You Friend or Follower?

Since signing up for Facebook, all those years ago, my list of Friends has steadily grown. That is probably why it is called Social Media, right? I’ve even attracted some Followers, although I’m not sure what the difference is. The Facebook that I connected with back in the early days has evolved into something very different. In the beginning, it was a ‘digital diary’, where people posted everything, from what they had for breakfast, to how complicated their relationship was. While we still see some diary entires on Facebook pages, there is now a more sophisticated approach. Social Media, including Facebook, is now widely used to highlight goods and services, and link to websites promoting someone’s blog (like mine…) And this is where the Ultimate Blog Challenge (UBC) enters the picture. Through the UBC, I am able to have my humble blog posts read by a wider audience than my smattering of Facebook Friends and Followers.

Here is the Deal…

This is a test to see how many new friends I can gain from this humble blog post. Oh, before we start, maybe I should clarify the ‘Friends’ label. I said the word ‘friend’ once in the hearing of my Bestie (Best Friend), who turned and said “Who died and left you a friend?”. Oh, and just for the record, she is still my Bestie.

It isn’t for the purpose of proving my Bestie wrong!

But it would help. So, I thank my new-FB-Friends in advance, for joining my growing list of Facebook Friends. Or, you could become a Follower, and you would be joining a really elite group (all twelve of them!). Just do whatever it is you do to be-Friend someone on Facebook. I’m guessing you need to start with the link below, but if that doesn’t work, I’ve added the name and photo you will see if you land on the right Facebook page. https://m.facebook.com/Maureendurney/ I’m not sure if the link will work, so just in case it doesn’t, this is the photo you will be looking for when you search my name on Facebook: I look forward to a long and lasting friendship, and I am excited about how many places across the world my new friends will come from. Perhaps we will share travel stories? I could post more stories about my homeland, and would love reading about yours. See you on Facebook!  
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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 2 comments

Day 12 – UBC – What Question?

In today’s blog post I’m supposed to answer a question that comes up often in my comments. I don’t have the answer. In fact, I don’t even have the question. But what I do have is a question of my own. It’s a question that I ask myself constantly.

How the heck do you work out the Comments section on a blog site?

This is the one thing that has kept me up at night since the Blog Challenge started. I have ‘plugged-in’, tweaked, and deleted everything that isn’t nailed down in the back-end of my site, and still I haven’t worked it out. I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with my tech-guru on the weekend (thanks Ricky), who went straight to the source of the problem. He unchecked a box here, checked a box there, and Voila!, I was able to find the comments, under the heading of Comments. I walked away from the table, confident that I would now be able to see the comments people have been leaving, and know where to find them in future.

Problem solved – Except?

I still can’t get the comments to land on my actual blog page. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. When I didn’t know much about my website, and my site was much more simple, comments used to just land at the bottom of the blog post. I would approve, or not approve them, and that would be it. But when I got a bit more technical and started adding more Plug-ins, the wheels started falling off the wagon. It seems that plug-ins, much like humans, have fall-outs with each other. And when they don’t get along, or stop talking to each other, it gets ugly.

And there, in a nutshell, is my problem.

How do I get the Comments to land at the bottom of a blog post on a WordPress Website? All answers to this problem will be gratefully accepted, and I thank you in advance!
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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments
July Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day Five – Growing Old Disgracefully

July Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day Five – Growing Old Disgracefully

Day Five – and I’m still on track – well, sort of. I didn’t post last night, which was technically Day Five for me, because I spent the day and night trying to fix the Comments and Subscribe buttons on my website. I’m still not sure they are working as they should be, but I learned a lot in the process. It’s all part of my ‘Growing Old Disgracefully’ story. And that, very conveniently, leads into the topic for today:

Teach something!

I spent more than thirty years of my adult life, teaching. Planning my career was the only long-term planning I have ever done, and luckily it turned out well. I knew from when I was five years old that I wanted to be a teacher, and even though I took the scenic route to get there, I got there in the end. See ‘Blog Challenge – Day Three’ for the low-down on how ‘unplanned’ my life has been. I’m used to teaching children, not adults, although I have shared some skills along the way with the teachers I worked with. I have always valued learning, and because of that philosophy, I have valued teaching – you can’t have one, without the other.  Our attitude towards learning, shapes our lives as we get older. And that is where I am heading, because this is what I am going to teach you today.

How To Grow Old Disgracefully

Let me start with the traditional view of an aging person. How many of our grandmothers sat on the front porch, knitting needles in hand, watching the world go by? Or were in the kitchen, whipping up another batch of scones? And where was Grandpa? Well, he was either on the golf-course playing a social round of golf, or down at the creek, waiting for the fish to bite. Okay – that’s a bit of an overstated view, but you need to see the comparison I’m about to make. Sure, you’ll still find some older people, knitting and fishing, and that’s a good thing. They lived through the Depression and really tough times and they deserve to put their feet up now and take life a lot easier. But a new breed of retiree is emerging. We, the Baby Boomers, or Boomers, as we are sometimes called, are hurtling full-on into retirement, if we aren’t already there. And we are different! Our world, from the mid-forties to the mid-sixties was very different from that of our parents and grandparents. By the time we came into the world, the Second World War was just about over, and the stringent rationing of goods and services was about to end.

Life, for us, started well.

Education played a more prominent role, simply because it could. My father was forced into employment, rather than waste time on Secondary Education; he had eight hungry siblings to help provide for. I, on the other hand, finished my full quota of Secondary Education, and a lot of years at University as well. My future options were a lot better than those my father faced at the same age. And speaking of ‘eight-hungry siblings’, have you ever wondered why families back then had so many children? For those of us lucky enough to be born into the era of contraception, spare a thought for those who went before us. That’s all I’ll say on that matter; the rest is up to you to figure out.

The Early Sixties!

They say if you remember the sixties, you weren’t really there. I’ll let you figure that out on your own as well. And just for the record – I remember the sixties well – and I was there. The position of young people in the sixties was so far removed from young people two decades ealier, that it is difficult to discuss them in the same article. They were worlds apart! From our privileged beginnings, the recently, and about to be retirees of today, have a very different view of the world.

The Impacts on the Boomers

  • The end of rationing – which coincided with the end of the Second World War. Food and essential items started flowing freely again. My mother scrounged coupons to buy her wedding dress – I went into a store and bought mine with very little thought about the cost.
  • Education beyond Primary School (Elementary school) became the norm, not the exception.
  • Tertiary Education was affordable – no longer just for the privileged elite.
  • Development of the contraceptive pill –  gave families choices on how many children to have, and when to have them (I’m not taking a stand on this, I’m simply stating the facts).
  • Television – introduced to Australia in the late 1950’s – became more sophisticated and brought the world to our living rooms.
  • Vietnam War – Australia’s involvement impacted us in the Sixties and again, in our sixties. Our Vietnam Veterans are owed a debt of gratitude for their commitment then, and need our understanding now. I won’t add to this, but anyone who knows a Vietnam Veteran, knows the impact this war had, and continues to have on them.
  • Beatles and all things Rock and Roll! The music of the sixties belted out across neighbourhoods, loud and proud! It changed the way we danced, dressed, and looked.
  • Mods and Rockers – found their way into our existence in the mid-sixties. Crazy times!
  • Happy Days – featuring Henry (The Fonz) Winkler, and Ron (Richie Cunningham) Howard, showed us the cool way to breeze through our teenage years – hanging out in diners, driving groovy cars, and drinking soda’s, and milkshakes. Oh, and dancing in the diner, despite the ‘No Dancing Allowed’ sign. Perhaps this was the start of our irreverent view of authority.

SKI Club

For us Baby Boomers, the times were a-changing, and dictated much of what we do now. In our parents time, there was an emphasis on leaving our children a reasonable inheritance. Their motto was ‘work hard, save hard’. I am very grateful to my parents for all they did, but I would have loved for them to have spent the money they worked so hard for, on enjoying their retired lives more. And that is where the Boomers differ. I love the Bumper Sticker proudly displayed on the back of many motor-homes I see, “SKI – Spending Kids Inheritance’. This new breed of retirees are known affectionately as ‘The Grey Nomads’. They’ve got it right! Travel and learning are what Growing Old Disgracefully is all about. Our more affluent formative years have given us a different view of the world than our parents had at retirement age. We’ve had it easier than our parents did, worked hard and raised successful children who are financially stable. I’m sure they understand that it’s now time for us to get out and see the world!

Shanghai

Since retiring two years ago, one of the most memorable trips I’ve taken was to China. And there were three ninety-year olds with us; they kept up without any problems at all.

Flying into Seattle, one cold December night.

Now it is time to party!

Our roads are dotted with motor homes and caravans being driven by Boomers, seeking new adventures in this vast country of ours. Airports around the country, and around the world, are full of white-haired travellers going to, or coming from, distant destinations. And they are all smiling! As for learning?, and this is the best part, we are still at it!. How many of the Bloggers on the July Ultimate Blog Challenge are over sixty years of age? I know I am. Let’s face it, if we’re retired, we have more time; if we’re retired, we’ve got more to say (think ‘Grey Nomads’ and ‘World travellers’); if we’re retired, we want to learn – and have the time to do it.

Fast Fiction Podcast Channel

A friend of mine is in her seventies and has been teaching me about Podcasting. She has written a lot of books over the years and is now turning them into Podcasts. Without even trying to promote it, her Podcast Channels have over two-thousand subscribers, in a very short time. This is not a traditional view of what a seventy-plus year old would be doing in her retirement years.

Growing Old Disgracefully, is alive and well!

In fact, I recently spent a day with this friend, and a friend of hers, for a day of learning and sharing. We had our technology of choice (mine is my iPad Pro) and we shared tips and tricks for podcasting and website creation and maintenance. It didn’t seem odd, until I stopped for a coffee on my way home late that night and the young Barista asked me how my day had been. As I told her of the day’s events, I noticed a look of bewilderment on her face. Here I am in my late sixties, relaying my journey with podcasting and my website, to a young person of today; only then did I have an awareness of how far from the expected norm we have ventured. I finished with “uh-huh, I guess we should have been knitting or basket-weaving, but I don’t think any of us know how to do that”.

The Boomers

The Boomers have lived through amazing advancements in technology and products and services that have had a life-long effect on us. It is only natural to think that our retirement years are not going to be the same as those of our parents. My seventy-two year old cousin is in the final stage of his solo-motorbike ride across Australia. Sleeping in a tent under the stars, meeting other (grey) nomads along the way, and gathering enough content for a mini-series on Aging Disgracefully (if only he would produce it!). Look on a map of  the Nullarbor Plain, to get an idea of how gruelling the trip would be, especially solo, and especially on a motorbike. Russel is an inspiration to us all. Whenever I find myself faltering on the brink of traditional versus disgracefull aging, I think of my cousin. And then I plough through whatever it was that was holding me back.

Preaching To The Converted

I look around me in the village I live in, and I see the older, more traditional retirees, and the emerging Boomer retiree population. Well actually, you don’t see the Boomers much, just the empty spot where their motor home is usually parked, and the empty chair on the front porch. They are out there, and they are doing it! Trekking around in a caravan, flying to a distant destination, on another cruise; recording voices for the next Podcast; attending a WordPress Meetup or WordCamp; or sharing strategies for video-editing. They are debunking the myths of what older people ‘should’ be doing. And I love it!

We are Growing Old Disgracefully!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 1 comment
July Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day Three

July Ultimate Blog Challenge – Day Three

I know where I have been, but do I know where I am going? If the rest of my life is anything like the days already past, then the answer is ‘No! I have no idea where I’m going’. Day Three of the July Ultimate Blog Challenge is about where my blog is heading. This has nothing to do with being philosophical, and everything to do with the topic of the day.

I have lived my life on a whim – not a plan

Impulsive? Yes. Forward planning? No. The only thing I consciously planned in my life was my career. I knew what I wanted to do, and I did it, albeit a little later than I could, or should have. But, in the great scheme of things, it all happened in a timely manner. In the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.  And that sums up my life – in reverse. “Life is what happened to me while I was busy avoiding plans”. Not consciously, of course, but as a consequence of my drifting nature. Like a butterfly, I flitted from one thing to the next. If someone was going somewhere, I tagged along. Since I didn’t have any plans of my own, it was easy to attach myself to the plans of someone else. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had made plans? If I equate making plans with stability, then I’d still be in my home-town, surrounded by the people I grew up with. I wouldn’t have lived interstate or across the world. And I wouldn’t have twenty-thousand photos and two-hundred videos on my iPad! Each photo takes me back to another time and place. I remember the day and the time, but more importantly, I remember the feeling of standing in front of the Taj Mahal, or meeting the fabulous staff at the RedWing Cafe in Seattle.

From Stanley Park in Vancouver to the Taj Mahal in India

Lack of planning took me from my hometown on the Hawkesbury River, to iconic landmarks across the world. Walks through Stanley Park on a Sunday afternoon; standing in front of the Taj Mahal; posing for a selfie in Shanghai; sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco; standing next to the Statue of Liberty. I lived on Penang Island Malaysia and in North America. None of the moves were part of any long-term planning on my part. They just happened.  

Shanghai

Even my retirement, two years ago, just happened. While not having any set-in-concrete plans about when I would hang up the chalk for the last time, I thought it would be years from now – there were certainly no immediate plans. And then, I decided one day that the time had come. As usual, I just did it. I went from working long, long hours – to nothing. No transition, no slowing down, just an abrupt end. And in true butterfly style, I marked the occasion with a spur of the moment, two-week cruise to Singapore. Would you have expected anything less?

The End of the Road

My only concession to forward-planning was to buy a unit to retire in. At some time prior to my official retirement, I looked back on my nomadic lifestyle, and had a fleeting need for stability. In that moment of normality, I wanted to move one more time – and stay there. No more packing and unpacking. I would find a place for everything, and everything would be in its place. Well, maybe that was wishful thinking, but I’m sure you know what I mean. I wanted to set up a home and be happy to be home.     And that’s where I was when the reality of retirement hit me. This is it! No more early mornings and late nights; Or Mondays, or staff meetings. No more looking out on Thursday mornings to see if I could see the weekend coming over the horizon. Every day was now a weekend. Suddenly I was faced with the void, the emptiness, the ‘what will I do now?’.  The website I had played around with a few years earlier, suddenly emerged as a life-line. Learning had always been a big part of my life, and getting my website up and running would take a lot of learning. I started going to WordPress WordCamps and Meetups to learn more. It was a slow process. I thought I had kept up with technology over my long teaching career, but this was a whole new ball game.

So what do you do with a website?

You blog! My nomadic, butterfly past will provide an endless supply of content, and those twenty-thousand photos will find a home. Planning still isn’t a part of my vocabulary, but if I look back at how my life has turned out, I’m not worried. The butterfly approach has served me well and I trust will continue to do so. Technology changes constantly. As I flit from one thing to another, learning as I go, my website and blog will evolve. I would like to think my lack of planning will give me the flexibility to change as often as the technology that I am dabbling in. I’m excited about where my website and blog could end up. Who knows, they might be destined for great things that haven’t been invented yet. Day Three of the July Ultimate Blog Challenge has challenged my thinking, but not my lifestyle. The butterfly approach is alive and well and will carry my blog forward, ultimately reaching its final resting place when there is nowhere else for it to go. Only then will I know where it is heading.
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