Sunday, November 22, 2015

Singapore Writers Festival 2015

While travelling recently I took the opportunity to participate in the Singapore Writers Festival. My friend and reading mentor has been a lover of the Sydney Writers Festival and the Newcastle Writers Festival and has been encouraging me. While I’ve been to random sessions at the Newcastle events, I’ve never really had the time to surrender to a suite of events. 

In Singapore I attended sessions on Feminism, Japanese Literature, and sessions defining Singapore and Singaporean Stories. I really enjoyed the whole event, which was really well organised, and many of the sessions were held in the historical parliament house, giving the event a real connection with the history of Singapore. Singapore is celebrating its 50th birthday since independence and is marking the occasion with events like this, reflecting on the past, and visioning the future. In some of the sessions I felt like I was part of a turning point for this young nation. 

Sessions on Singapore:

Singapore is proud of its multicultural community, and respects the four main ethnic groups (and therefore languages) – Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English. So in the session I went to on ‘what is Singapore’sUltimate Dish?’ it was not surprising that the panel couldn’t decide! One member said he could not decide on one dish, but he thought Singaporean food was best represented in their love of the ‘buffet’. Another panel member argued that the definition of the ‘ultimate dish’ was the critical part of the question. He finally decided that the ultimate dish was one that international guests must try when they visit – Chicken Rice. The final Panellist agreed it was a matter of definition, because for him, the ultimate dish was one that is ‘internationally renowned’ – therefore it was Singapore noodles and a Singapore sling. At the end of the session, I had to ask – what about sweets? Well, the panel remained divided – but apparently they love their Chinese pastries.  Panellists included: 

In celebration of their 50th birthday, grants were made available for works that help celebrate Singapore. In this session, What makes Singapore Singapore? Authors of anthologies about Singapore presented their different works.One was editing a compilation of 50 stories about Singapore. His collection ended up in two large volumes. One of the other anthologies looked more like a photo collection but included interview with ordinary Singaporeans. This interested me, but was quite a large publication. One collections was titled '50 things to love about Singapore' - and includes commentary on things like Highway Slang, cultural tit bits, and other odd things. This book was produced with the traveller in mind. So at the end of the session when I commented in the question time on the size of the collections, I ended up receiving my own copy of this little collection. Of which I am enjoying reading a bit from now and then.

I'll  post something soon on the Japanese Literature Sessions I went to and what I learned but as a teaser, I must say that I loved the discussion on Murakami, and especially enjoyed the Japanese Women Writers who both read and sang in Japanese!

The Chamber, Singapore's Old Parliament House
The event was held at the Art House in Singapore, which was the Old Parliament House. It felt like a fitting venue to be gathering with authors and readers of current day Singaporean thoughts. It was also great for tourists like me (and I don't think there were many there) to enjoy the movement around this building and to consider what sorts of decisions were made in this building. I attended a few sessions in the Chamber, a regal and historic place, making me feel a very special guest.
Singapore Art House, formerly the Parliament House.
 I promise to post more from my holiday experiences soon. This photo was taken at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. I'm choosing to post it today as an image of Love. Imagine floating through a river of flowers. Imagine that for all those people who are suffering in the world right now. Imagine flowers are the future, not the one-off.
Floral display inside the Dome at Gardens by the Bay

Thursday, November 12, 2015


We all love them
We capture them in our holiday photos
They are faultless

As I am sorting out my holiday photo's (and I have thousands), I am reminded of just how many sunsets I sat back and enjoyed when I was on holidays, travelling along the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. 

What is it about sunsets? They happen every single day! Rain, hail or shine, the sun will set. But do we notice? Yet on holidays, it's the highlight of a day (maybe because there's a cocktail involved). 

I met with a colleague today who commented on just how relaxed and peaceful I appear this week. We talked for sometime about what happened on my holiday to impact me so much. I think it was a combination of factors (and I'll post more about this later, maybe), but a key factor was that this holiday was not over planned. Each day unravelled in it's own unplanned way - but routines developed (based on weather and energy levels) that meant we made time for watching sunsets. 

Watching sunsets for me, mean
  • resting, reflecting on the days activities
  • drinking in the colours
  • feeling the calm of dusk
  • closing one day 
  • hoping for the next
What are your thoughts on sunsets? I love them and I wish I could sit and watch more.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Returning Home


Returning home. (6 weeks away)
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore. 
Delightfully enerizing.
Time for reflection.
Time for learning.
Time for discovery. 
New people.
New food.
New cultures.
I'll share more soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Plans - New Journey

photo credit
There are times when life takes you on a different journey, down unexpected pathways, along roads unplanned.... these journeys could be 'feared' for the changes they will bring - or they can be anticipated with willingness to experience the change.

I am realising that I was on my planned journey, the way I wanted to go... when those plans were interrupted.

In my work life, I spend quite a bit of time and energy promoting 'disruptive' change - innovation - for better outcomes in the public sector - which is well known for doing things the same old way because that's the way we've always done it.

Well, now it's time to live my own mantra.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Lao Tzu
I have a dream to be a champion for the women and girls of the village of Thirichuli. I like to visit them often to see how they are growing and developing, and I like to support the NGO that manages those programs. I was hoping to be there right now. I'm not. I'm currently still in Oz. I waited patiently for my paperwork. But it was time to change my plans. I'm about to leave for 6 weeks in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I wont be volunteering - I'll be backpacking and experiencing.
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”  Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

So, here I go... Anything can happen.... I may come back different... that might be a good thing. I'll try and keep you posted.

Ps. As I'm heading off to somewhere I've never been and really never thought about going to - I'd love any travel suggestions...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Change and Constant

 Rhubarb, Spinach, Mustard Leaves, Kale  & Banksia lower
 Lettuce, Leeks, Strawberries & Beets
 Mandarin Blossom
 Strawberry, Kale and Spinach Bouquet

Hugely Grateful to Becs, because her mentorship and garden advice has made gardening this season rewarding and I feel invigorated because the garden  in. Becs offered some gardening advice earlier this year, just when I was needing to give the garden a thorough re-start. As we head into spring, the garden is now brimming with yummy stuff. Sometime soon, we need to get chooks - cos Kale & egg muffins have been a fairly constant meal round here recently.  The above bouquet was my innovative strategy to get the strawberries inside without bruising them. If I leave them on the side until I get a basket, one  little four legged garden helper thinks they're for her!

I recently posted that my intent is to be travelling in the next 2 months - hopefully to visit the girls I support in India. It seems however there may be a hiccup to my plans - so while I wait [patiently] for word on paperwork, I am taking time to rest in the moment - see hope around me. When a friend asked me recently about how my plans were going, I responded that when I am still, and calm, and rest in the knowledge that there is a divine purpose in my being ready to leave - I am OK - BUT when I am not that person, I am frustrated because I am not in control - so it's time to just rest in the present.

View from my friends place.... enjoyed a BBQ here last week

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Interest in Indian Literature

Very soon I hope to visit these girls again. They live in a remote village in Tamil Nadu India. I have been visiting for the past 8 year, watching them grow up, learn English, gain confidence in their studies and develop dreams of their own. Some of these girls had a difficult start to life, commencing work from as young as 4 years old. Most have come from very disadvantaged families. Yet through the accelerated learning program at the KGBV primary school, they are catching up and, in many cases, far outreaching their parents and siblings learning achievements. If you would like to join me in supporting these girls - check out my charity information on the top right of my home page.

So if I get to go to India soon, I could be there for up to 6 weeks. Quiet nights in the village mean lots of reading time (especially if there's a power outage). So I've started downloading my books. Along with my JLC reading list, I've got some Indian Literature also.

I have read many Indian novels in the past, never disappointed. Do you have any recommendations? 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Living in the moment - Spring

Today felt like Spring! 

I achieved my PB at the local running festival 
10.5km in 66 mins

Sharing moments like this with friends

Enjoying the Lake

Spent the afternoon in my garden (recovering!)

Enjoying this