My friends, I am neck deep in end of semester assignments…but I miss you guys! I needed to rest last weekend, oh my, I so needed a rest. I still rose early, but instead of working on something, I curled up on my comfy armchair under a blanket and read a novel. You know, one of those wondrous inventions where a writer has come up with a story for the sole purpose of entertaining and enriching a reader? Yep, one of those babies :). A leisurely breakfast followed by a spring lunch at a friend’s house, where we ate delicious food, talked with interesting people and lay idly on the cool green lawn admiring the profusion of flowers and natural beauty. That kind of day creates space for me by opening up the windows of my mind and letting in nothing but sunshine and the sweetest, softest breeze.
And then you know, it’s been head down, bum up ever since :). This week was the final teaching week in the semester; we have another week to get our assignments done and in, and then…holidays! Which I’m bat-shit excited about, because I am going away with my mother for seven nights to the Sunshine Coast :). My mother has a five day course to go to, and she wants someone to help her with the driving and keep her company. I have no problem being that person :). Meanwhile, we will be staying in a beach-side apartment in Maroochydore, and I will have five whole days to myself to do whatever I want. Whatever I want may be writing, reading, having adventures, seeing places I have never seen before, cafe hopping or shopping. Likely it will be a combination of all of the above :). Yes, I am going away, just me, for a whole week, in the school holidays. Indulgent, yes? A small army of people will be needed to fill in for me while I am gone, yes.
Mostly I feel happy, excited and grateful. Except when I am feeling guilty, selfish and irresponsible for leaving my family in the middle of the school holidays and staying away for so long, the longest I have ever been away from my family. I acknowledge the part of me that feels her responsibility to her family so keenly, and I admire her for her 100% commitment to being a mother and for always being there for her children. But she doesn’t get to decide whether I go on this holiday, and she doesn’t get to decide how I feel when I am there, either. Have a rest, uber-mother! It’s time to let some other selves come out to play.
Meanwhile, I need to get those assignments in two days early so that I can go away in peace, as well as make sure my kidlets have some fun in the first week of the holidays. I sense some 4am starts this week – my definition of burning the midnight oil :). Whatever it takes, people, whatever it takes.
How do you feel when you go away from your family? Is it a female thing, the going away guilt, or do you men feel that way too?
Wisdom. I am reading a gorgeous little book called How to Love, by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn. Each page has a snippet of wisdom or a little story about love. It would be easy to read it in less than a day, and a most enjoyable day that would be too – but I am stretching it out, just reading two or three pages before I go to sleep at night. Here’s one of my favourites so far:
Feeding Our Love
Each of us can learn the art of nourishing happiness and love. Everything needs food to live, even love. If we don’t know how to nourish our love, it withers. When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love. That’s why to love means to learn the art of nourishing our happiness.
Making time for fun. A couple of nights ago I went and saw some live music at a funky bar with a good friend. It was cold, rainy night at the end of the week and an hour’s drive away, but I didn’t even consider not going. For starters, I haven’t seen my friend in weeks, and I miss her. Secondly, we were going to see The Mae Trio, a gorgeous folk trio who sing like angels and can play any stringed instrument you can think of like you would not believe. There was something else that got me there too – something I had been thinking of over the past week. Some people have forgotten to have fun in their lives. They have put aside their dancing shoes, their sketching pencils and their paintbrushes and have settled into a hum-drum life of paying the bills, cleaning the house and cooking the dinner. Maybe that’s what their parents showed them being an adult was all about. Who knows? I like working, I like having a clean house and Goddess knows I love a good home-cooked dinner :). But those ingredients do not make a life, my friends. Having a fun, creative, productive, soulful life with good, deep relationships takes commitment, effort and organisation. It is not the way of least resistance. So what? Who wants a life like that anyway?
The wisdom of children. My uncle showed me this gorgeous clip yesterday, of a little girl (maybe three years old) giving her mother some advice on how to manage conflict with her husband after she witnessed her parents having an argument. It has to be seen to be believed, seriously. Check it out:
Poetry Reading. I found this gorgeous poetry reading on Brain Pickings this week: Amanda Palmer reading Life While You Wait by Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska. For those of you who don’t watch videos (which kind of makes you out of luck in this post, sorry about that!), you can click on this link to read it. You want to watch it though, I promise.
About renvois. You know, I’m kind of sad that this semester is nearly over, because I have enjoyed both of my subjects so much. My media subject, Media Convergence and Culture, has been alternately fascinating and disturbing, with the last two weeks being no exception. I have been learning about news – genres, framing, values and agenda setting – with a focus on Rupert Murdoch who is the subject of my final essay. Disturbing. The Bear laughs at me for studying media, because of my refusal to follow the minutiae of current affairs and politics as well as my dislike of celebrity culture. My argument is that I have always been interested in media, but I am a discerning consumer. I have always asked questions of what I read, see and listen to. I want to know who is giving me that information and what their agenda is. I also know that whatever I fill myself up with, eventually becomes a part of me. That makes me cautious. And who knew, that kind of attitude makes me a good student of media :).
Now, back to renvois :). In the 18th century, with the advent of the printing press, there was an explosion in knowledge distribution. Scholars wanted to create a universally accessible collection of all knowledge, thus birthing the encyclopedia. Firstly, they had to figure out how to organise this information in a way that made sense, and secondly, they had to try and avoid censorship and persecution from vested interests in Church and State who did not like people having access to information. Denis Diderot’s Encyclopedie, a set of 35 encyclopedias written from 1751 – 1772, was considered one of the longest and most complete collections of information of this time. In Michael Zimmer’s article, Renvois of the past, present and future: hyperlinks and the structuring of knowledge from the Encyclopédie to Web 2.0, he says:
Diderot wanted to collect all the knowledge previously held by a
privileged few into one public work accessible to all, and to ‘discover all the
secrets painstakingly concealed by ignorance, hypocrisy and falsehood’.
This was phenomenally subversive and dangerous thinking in those times:
By exposing these ‘religious and social myths’, the Encyclopédie was
considered a threat to seats of authority, both intellectual and religious. Opponents of the Encyclopédie tried to block its publication and many church and state officials attempted to censor its contents.
To get around these difficulties, Diderot invented the renvois, or as we know it, the cross-reference. Diderot and his team used the renvois to direct readers to other radical or subversive readings, all while eluding the authorities. For the first time, anyone who could read was able to access information that up until then had been hidden from view. The renvois is the father of the hyperlink, the Encyclopédie is the mother of the internet – and all old media was new once :). Fascinating.
For my second subject, Storytelling and Genre Writing, I have been hard at work writing, re-writing and editing my travel story that forms the major part of my final assignment. I am ridiculously fortunate to have an academic mentor who has offered to help me in my studies, so this week I emailed her my story to read over. Within 24 hours she had read it and sent it back to me complete with comments and technical suggestions. Gratitude hardly begins to describe my feelings about this <3. I am learning little things like keep the same goddamn tense all the way through a story, and see the difference when you swap an ‘and’ for a ‘but’ and if you describe the weather at the beginning of the piece, make sure you are consistent with that description all the way through. Plus so much more. When I get the results back, I’ll share the story with you, okay?
And that is it from me – I hope you have found something that makes you smile and opens your heart today. It’s a cold, rainy Spring Sunday in my part of the world. When I’ve finished this, I’m going back into the underworld that is researching Rupert Murdoch’s appearance at the Leveson Inquiry :). Wish me luck! Meanwhile, have yourself a beautiful day. Don’t forget to nurture your creative spark; your soul will thank you for it <3.
may your happy seeds
of love & compassion be watered
along with the seeds
of family, friends & teachers 🙂
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Thank you my dear
As may yours
Yay! The holiday with your mum sounds wonderful – enjoy every minute! Sending you lots of good vibes in finishing everything up. And looking forward to reading your story too. 🙂
Thank you Aleya, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for sure!
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All the best with finishing assignments and happy times with your Mum! xx
Hey Ardys, thank you. I am SO looking forward to spending all that time with just my lovely mum and me. Such a gift.
Good luck with your assignments Sara and here’s to a little self-indulgence – there’s nothing wrong with a little of that 🙂
You’re right Andrea 🙂 The badass stoic in me needs to chill 🙂
Sounds like you feel guilty about taking some time off from family for your schooling. But it’s important to have balance. I’m guessing that you would like your own daughter to develop her whole self. And she will be happier if she has a happier mommy.
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Hi Georgia; I don’t feel guilty for time taken studying, because it’s productive…I’ve had a little bit of trouble with the time I’m planning to take away from my family to go away with my mother. Which is not really at all productive :). But your final point was right on – happy mother, happy family!
yeah that guilt thing is a right pain sometimes and I don’t believe the fellas are graced with it as we are. Have a wonderful trip, enjoy your time with your mum, your alone time, your time to hopefully open more windows, (how gorgeous was that analogy you wrote) and finishing up your assignments.
I LOVE that you have an academic mentor, this week I was lucky enough to score myself a photojournalist mentor. Excited, like jumping out of my skin kinda thing 🙂
It’s great to use those dials that can be turned to select different personal operation modes. On, Off, Standby, High Speed, Low Speed, Auto, Energy Conservation, Remote… Every so often I forget I have them and find myself out of kilter.
I loved Life While You Wait which I read, and I think it’s wonderful we get to take the stage and wing it. We might desire a carefully crafted delivery, hmm not me; improv is challenging but fun & fulfilling. Although we get to do some back stage prep, and of course we have the other players, directors and producers in the wings.
That turned out well, the end of your first uni semester with a mini-break chaser 🙂
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I reckon – that kind of thing happens when I let the Universe make the plans rather than me 😜.
You’re so right – we do have control over the dial. I listen when my body speaks; I don’t usually wait until it is shouting, although not always…😊
Glad you liked the poem – I’m not an ad libber by nature, but life has made me more of one 🙂
Thanks for the wonderful hodgepodge of snippets today. Enjoyed them all. I usually love to comment on each section, but today I’ll just wish you a quick end to your school term, and a wonderful trip away.
Thank you Susan, so glad you enjoyed my hodgepodge!
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You sound like you’re keeping them balls up in the air. And you don’t mind the wisdom of stopping to let them rest! What do I do for fun??! FUN, you said? (What’s that?)
I dunno. For Yours Truly,
Free time = writing on blog
Fun = writing on blog
Passion = writing on blog
Communion with Self = writing on blog
Which all spells a pretty sad woman in the big scheme of things.
Glad you’re enjoying your studies.
Hi Diana ❤
I'm not sure that it does spell a sad woman actually…unless you actually feel sad 🙂
It may also spell a focused woman, someone who knows what she likes to do.
I like to have a bit more variety in my fun, but that's just me!
Would you like to have different types of fun, or are you happy with how things are?
Sara, Lovely to read your “now.” I have just come up from overworking, and am breathing well and taking the time to read you. I love your references to Diderot, I spent a lot of time “with” him in my studies. The strong little girl was amazing, wow, she will be a powerful force for good in this world. Also knowing you went back and saw the Mae Trio too, hope it was divine as I expect it was. I feel your joyful pride in knowing now is the time to go on a holiday, hope it is wonderfully energizing 🙂
I love it when you pop up here! I was absolute fascinated by Diderot, although we only just touched on him. I think what I really enjoy is this idea of cycles and connection. I like to know the origins and the backstory. I love being educated, I really do 😊 I have so much to do in the next two days to finish my assignments before I go away…and plan b of finishing them while I’m away is very much an option – the due date is Monday. Never mind, I can only do what I can! After that though…😍
I just got back from 5 days away from the kids. Actually it was me and my husband…but still –I had a break from being Mom for 5 whole days! All the ducks had to be put in a row before taking off (and yes, it was me who organized those ducks.) I love how you note there will be an army of people filling in while you are away. It’s amazing how much we do, isn’t it? I’ve been back 1 day, and feel totally refreshed. Ready to take on the army load. x x
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I love it Elysha! This mum thing is so consuming, it is essential to have a rest from it from time to time – although as we know, there is always a part of us that is mum. Glad you are rested and refreshed 🙂