The E of Living Imperfectly: Aiming For Excellence Rather Than Perfection #atozchallenge

Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence. I am not remotely interested in just being good – Vince Lombardi, legendary football coach of the Green Bay Packers.

E Challenge letterVince Lombardi is heralded as a great coach and motivator who has strong views on winning and achieving success. True it is he took the Packers to a Super Bowl win but has he got it right with this quote? And would it work for everyone?

I stumbled upon this quote a couple of days ago and it really resonated.  Then I began mulling it over and I have to respectfully disagree with Mr Lombardi.

In our formative years we are taught that to strive for something less than perfection is somehow substandard. We grow up with the notion that the aim of everything we do, from our deportment, manners, fashion, education and relationships is perfection. Unless we have reconciled our position in relation to perfection in our teenage years, we end up taking this concept into adulthood and into the workforce. And we tie ourselves in knots in our attempts to reach that goal.

If Mr Lombardi were still with us today, I would ask him why is he coaching others to strive for something which he himself acknowledges is impossible? Why is it not enough to aim for and reach excellence? This seems to be a tacit acknowledgement that humans can never reach a target. Instead of making the target realistic and hitting it, the target is over inflated so that some perceived lesser standard is reached.

This is not only bunkum, it is dangerous as many a parent has subsequently found out.

Michal J Fox got it right when he said:

Michael J Fox excellence

 

 

 

 

The Oxford Dictionary defines excellence as ” the quality of being outstanding or extremely good”. Perfection on the other hand connotes the concept of being flawless.

And yet, we so often confuse excellence with perfection. Business and academia often subscribes to the notion that if something is less than perfect then you haven’t done your best.  A lot of businesses and consultants proudly proclaim that their product or service is better because it is the product of perfection. And how could we be disappointed with perfection?

We need to be careful not only of the marketing hyperbole but also our own self talk. Often what we are really striving for is to be extremely good or outstanding, rather than to be flawless. But like Mr Lombardi, we tend to raise our own bar artificially high, thinking that’s what we need to do our best.  To further demonstrate the incongruity that this creates, take the grading system for universities in this country. Universities generally grade students on a scale from Fail to High Distinction. The grades that you can achieve are:

  1. Fail – less than 50%
  2. Pass – 50-64%
  3. Credit – 65-74%
  4. Distinction – 75-84%
  5. High Distinction – 85%-100%

There is no grade called Perfect for 100%. You reach 100%, you will get the same grade just like all the students who achieved excellence. The difference may be in the percentage, but I have yet to see an academic who has awarded a perfect score on any assessment based on subjective criteria.

Aiming to do our best and for excellence keeps it real. Anything more and we sacrifice our humanness. And we need to remember that it is more than acceptable to be human. Indeed, my very best friends are.

PS. To my fellow A to Zers, I am running really behind on responding to your comments and commenting on your blogs due to a crushing work and academic load. I am hoping to catch up in the next couple of days. I beg your indulgence until then.

 

The D of Living Imperfectly: Dancing and Daring #atozchallenge

Lead the lady through the quadrille ; do not drag her, nor clasp her hand as if it were made of wood, lest she, not unjustly, think you a bear.

You will not, if you are wise, stand up in a quadrille without knowing something of the figure ; and if you are master of a few of the steps, so much the better. But dance quietly ; do not kick and caper about, nor sway your body to and fro; dance only from the hips downwards; and lead the lady as lightly as you would tread a measure with a spirit of gossamer –  Martine’s Handbook to Etiquette and Guide to True Politeness, Arthur Martine, Dick & Fitzgerald Publishers, 1866.

D Challenge LetterIt’s been heartening to see a few comments come through about dancing. Most of us love to dance yet most of us hesitate because we think we are not good enough. I have never danced with a spirit of gossamer, but as a teen and twenty something I loved to dance. I still do, although now I get to do it far less often.

I recently saw a documentary about a dance troupe called the Hip Op-eration Crew. Billed as the word’s oldest hip hop dance group, these spirited men and women are dancing up a storm. The members of the crew aged between 67 and 95 all live on Waiheke Island, near New Zealand and hip hop together. Whilst the majority of the 25 members are women, there are also a few males brave enough to take to the dance floor. 11 members are in their 80s and 90s, with the average age being 78.

Recently the Crew performed at the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas and stole more than a few hearts amongst the hip and famous. Here’s a glimpse of their performance at the Worlds (photo from the Group’s Facebook page).

Hip Operation Perfermance Las vegas

The Crew’s main message is about fighting ageism and promoting respect with youth. They seem to be doing a fantastic job having been picked up by main stream media around the world. The documentary I saw was a two part special on ageing disgracefully and also featured a 79 years young Florence Henderson embracing life beyond Mrs Brady. The story begins with a shot of two senior citizens sipping tea with a comment to the effect that this is what is expected of our elderly. It then unexpectedly morphs with a delightful cascade of colour into a blaze of imperfection.

I am all for fighting ageism and growing old disgracefully. But more importantly, for the purpose of this post, let’s focus on the dance. The dance steps are not perfect. Neither is the co-ordination. None of it seems to matter, for if the Crew had waited for perfection they never would have made it to Vegas.

And this is the point. What opportunities do we deny ourselves by our strive for perfection? Could it even be a spot on the world championship stage?

There are no world championships for perfectionism. And if there were, the chances of earning a perfect score are pretty slim.

And speaking of dancing, I am off to a highland festival tomorrow. My first ever. There will be dancing, there will be kilts, there will be extreme imperfection.

fools dancing

The C of Living Imperfectly: Choice and Career #atozchallenge

Talk as little of yourself as possible or of any science or business in which you have acquired fame Martine’s Handbook to Etiquette and Guide to True Politeness, Arthur Martine, Dick & Fitzgerald Publishers, 1866.

C Challenge LetterA couple of years ago, I went to see John Farnham in concert. For those who are unfamiliar with Mr Farnham’s work, he is an Australian legend singer whose biggest hit was a song called You’re the Voice from an album by the name of Whispering Jack. This particular concert tour was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the release of the 1986 album. He sang the whole album track by track in order. As John (who has a wonderful sense of humour which comes through in the concert banter between songs) explained he had the idea of undertaking this concert tour in his kitchen one night and that unfortunately, he didn’t really think it through. For you see, his biggest song was track number 2 on the album which meant it was sung early on in the show.

I feel the same way about the letter C and the concept of perfection as applied to career. This is a real big one for me. And it has come earlier in the Challenge than I would have liked. So much for building to a crescendo.

For this post, I have no real wisdom to share other than my own experience.

Career has always been a big issue in our family. Being the child of immigrant parents it was drummed into me form an early age that education was a priority and that I should pursue a profession. My parents had sacrificed a lot in delivering to me a world of opportunity in this land called Australia. I just had to do my bit.

And I did. And it was good for about the first 20 years. My identity and much of my energy were firmly tied to my career. The one other thing I really wanted to be outside of career woman was a parent and thankfully, the Universe blessed me to have that experience twice.

But one day, I woke and it was good no more. Every job has its ups and downs, stresses and strains, wins and losses. Mine was no different. Every other time though the feeling of malaise lasted a matter of days or weeks. This time was different. This was a lingering, confusing doubt that had me thinking “what if” and what really was on the other side of that office divide. I remember leaving every office at lunch time and breathing some real air and watching people having a life and feeling very disconnected.

For the next seven months I tried everything to push through the feelings as I had always done in the past. And with every passing day, I sank perfect careerdeeper and deeper into despair and confusion. Tasks that had been easy and second nature seemed insurmountable and I had lost my will to learn. My thoughts swirled round and round in my head in ever-increasing circles, the answer was there somewhere but it was just beyond reach.

It was dumb I suppose, but the thought of changing careers was impossible. Based on the remuneration and status I had achieved, by earning and being anything less I felt I was letting both myself and my family down. How could I possibly justify such a radical change given the sacrifices my parents had made, given how much I had invested in my career? How could I justify having to spend money on being retrained and reskilled whilst not bringing in an income and how could I justify being so selfish? How could I do any of it at my age?

The perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter and the perfect income earner all were at stake.

So I quit. I quit so I could think and strategize and I firmly believed that when I walked out the door, I never wanted to work again. Everything that I held certain was  up for grabs. It literally felt like I had walked off a cliff and had no idea whether the landing would be painful. I had never, ever just walked away from anything before.

During my time away from work, I explored that non-office life and provided for my family in a non-monetary way. I walked and thought and thought and walked and came to the realisation that priorities can and do change in life and that it was quite acceptable to change track to give effect to this new world order. That was my light bulb moment, career perfection blown away by the wind that was enveloping me on the cliff tops which formed my favourite walking path.

I had been stuck in a prison of my own making and at last I found the key.

What then transpired was that I went back into the workforce in a similar, but not the same area. What I lost in income, I gained tenfold in motivation, focus and learning.

Career perfection or career satisfaction, the choice was always mine to make and I didn’t even know it.

In the words of John Farnham, from You’re the Voice”

We have the chance to turn the pages over
We can write what we want to write
We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older

The B of Living Imperfectly: Beauty and Belonging #atozchallenge

As the ladies and gentlemen arrive, each should be shown to a room exclusively provided for their reception; and the gentleman conducts the lady in his charge to the door of the ladies’ dressing-room, while he goes to the gentlemen’s apartment, each to prepare their toilet suitably to entering the reception-room – Martine’s Handbook to Etiquette and Guide to True Politeness, Arthur Martine, Dick & Fitzgerald Publishers, 1866.

B Challenge LetterResearch for this year’s Challenge has led me to find some great reading material. One such treasure has been  Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Let Go Of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be And Embrace Who You Are. The title says it all, doesn’t it? If a book could be a mirror, this one would be mine right now.

In it, she describes midlife in a nutshell:

People may call what happens at midlife “a crisis”, but it is not. It’s an unravelling – a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you’re “supposed” to live. The unravelling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are.”

It truly does feel like an unravelling. And after the unravelling comes the sifting, the sorting and finally the reassembled product. Perhaps it is our discontent with perfectionism that finally brings us to this point. Maybe we discover that we can truly never control perception, because by its very nature it is in the eye of the beholder. And perfection is all about perception, our own and that of others.

Which leads me into today’s topic of beauty and belonging. As Brene Brown so eloquently puts it, belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves and we so often try to acquire it by fitting in and seeking approval. However, according to Brown this is a false pretext because:

true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

Strong words. Strong concept. Holy Guacamole!

To most of us beauty plays a central role in self-acceptance. It is the basis upon which the cosmetic, cosmetic surgery and fashion industries are built all of which sell the outward ideal of perfection. The messages start early and young, especially for women. Being physically beautiful is essential to social success and possibly even success in general. Physical beauty should be a priority, because physical beauty (or lack of) is the first thing people notice about you, it is essential to perception, it is a worthy investment. Beauty is an industry and perfection is its weapon.

Which brings us to the recent phenomenon of the no makeup selfie. You may have seen invitations through Facebook or may have given one Being yourself battleyourself to post a no makeup selfie to raise funds for cancer research. Whether this concept actually raises money is still up for question as is the issue of whether it actually has merit in the eyes of cancer sufferers. Leaving both of these aside,  what I have found extraordinary about  is that posting a no makeup selfie should cause such a level of angst or be seen to be a brave thing by women.  This has been expressed in various ways including some expressing relief that they did not receive an invitation to post. Have we really come to a point where showing your true authentic self without “your face” on is that novel or indeed that newsworthy?

To belong, we need to accept ourselves first. And that means with make up and without.

Sleep, nutrition and self-love are really the only make up we need to put our best face forward. Further, none of these run or smudge.

The Clock Strikes February, Time To Think About the A to Z April Blogging Challenge #atozchallenge

Time really does fly. It feels like the last A to Z April Blogging Challenge just finished and here we are again.

February is the perfect month to start thinking about and planning for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge.

A to Z Participant Badge

Whether you’re new to blogging or have been blogging for some time, the A to Z April Blogging Challenge is a great way to build content and a following. It’s also a great way to field test new ideas for posts or consolidate and build on the direction you already have.

This is my favourite Challenge. There are three factors which work hugely in its favour.

Sense of Community

Achievable

Rest Days

Participating in the A to Z blogging Challenge makes you part of the A to Z community. Last year approximately 2,500 blogs from all over the Sphere joined in the event. It is an amazing site to see posts pop up from all over the world all starting with the same letter. Quite apart from building your own content and enhancing your blogging skills the Challenge is a nice way to find new blogs to read and to make new connections.  Moreover, the A to Z Challenge family has engaged a vast team of experienced Challenge veterans to help make participants welcome, to provide tips and encouragement.  This year the Challenge has 11 co-hosts who lead an able team of ambassadors to guide participants through the event. All of the Ambassadors have been through the Challenge before, know the benefits and pitfalls and are more than willing to give you the benefit of their learning.

I am proud to have been chosen as an Ambassador for this year’s Challenge. My team is lead by the founder of the Challenge, Arlee (Lee) Bird whose main blog is Tossing It Out. I got to know Lee through my first Challenge participation in 2012 and  was grateful to have been chosen as one of his ambassadors for the first time in 2013. Lee has assembled an able crew comprising:

Tim Brannan – The Other Side Blog, The Freedom of Nonbelief, Red Sonja, She Devil With A Sword, Amazon Princess

Yvonne Lewis – Writing For Pleasure (seriously suggest you visit Yvonne’s blog just to be able to groove the alphabet while you’re reading)

Jami Barone – Divine Inspiration (a fellow WordPress blogger)

Doreen McGettigan – Doreen McGettigan

Corrine Rodrigues – Everyday Gyaan

Rob Z Tobor – the Slightly Eccentric Diary of Rob Z Tobor

Yours truly.

Each of the other Challenge co-hosts have also assembled teams of able ambassadors ready to reach out and bring you into the Challenge fold.

Not yet convinced? Not only fun, the Challenge is achievable by bloggers of all standards and experience. I have been Arlee-Ambassadors-medinvolved in some Challenges which are run by beautifully professional business orientated blog sites. They are pitched at those wanting to run their blogs like a business and often I have felt like I am participating in one long advertisement. If you are blogging because you love writing or because you love being creative but don’t necessarily want to push products through your blog then this Challenge is for you. It is run by a bunch of down to earth bloggers, who want to have fun and get creative and understand the art of promotion but are not solely driven by it. So refreshing.

And finally the rest days. Some challenges mean you blog every day for a month. I have found that it is very beneficial to have a few blog rest days during an intense period of blogging. There are four rest days during the Challenge, generally falling on a Sunday which allow you to catch up on any missed posts, rethink your Challenge direction or plan for the next week’s Challenge posts. If you already have all your posts planned you can use the time to spread some comment love or catch up on your blog reading. It’s nice to have a pressure release available because nobody is perfect and sometimes life happens.

I’m already planning my Challenge theme and scouting the Sphere for new Challenge blogs to follow. So, if you are looking for a Challenge that is:

artistic, brazen, brisk, brash and boisterous, captivating and creative, dynamic, exhilarating and engaging, fun and frantic, genial and gratifying, huge, intense and interesting, juicy and justifiable, known and kinetic, lucrative, memorable, neighbourly and noticeable, opportune, productive, prominent, quaint and quirky, rewarding and researchable, social, tenacious, ultimate and understanding vibrant, versatile and variable, wild and worthwhile, (e)xtreme, yearly, zealous, zesty and zippy

come join me and sign up here.

You don’t have to be an A type personality to enjoy or complete this Challenge, any letter will do.

The World According to Low Cost Airlines #zerotohero

Assignment 5: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you have. Include at least one you would never think of using.

Assignment 6: publish a post that includes a new-to-you element.

One of the shows I used to watch with monotonous regularity in the early noughties was Airline. The show gave a fascinating glimpse into the operations of a UK based low cost airline, EasyJet operating out of Luton airport. Whilst air travel is meant to be glamorous, this show gave a no holes barred look at the travel industry, human nature and low margins.

Here’s a classic episode:

Fascinated by the myriad of personalities which featured in the show and the myriad of problems they encountered, I was hooked. Human beings are such fascinating creatures and holidays seem to bring out the best and worst of us. The show centred around conflicts and conflict resolution and how Easy Jet dealt with their delightful difficult customers in dealing with the complexity and unpredictability of air travel.

From the show I learned that:

  • low cost airlines have only a small window of opportunity for their aircraft to depart
  • they will not hold boarding open even for five extra minutes
  • there is nothing you can say to a low cost carrier to let you on the aircraft if you arrive late
  • losing your nut is particularly ineffective when trying to resolve conflict and only attracts tv cameras
  • I never want to go Luton airport
  • there is no story you can tell a low cost airline that it has not heard before.

Roll the film forward to 2006 and in a particularly non lucid moment, I booked an internal Europe flight with Easy Jet. 2006 was a time when the self help travel industry was in a fledging state and travel forums like Trip Adviser were largely centred on accommodation. There were little or few internet forums discussing travel and I had yet taken to social media. None of that stopped me though from booking the family holiday to Europe from beginning to end myself. The hardest part was booking the Europe domestic flights because I knew nothing about that market. So recalling Airline I went with Easy Jet on a flight from London to Athens.

The only thing was it left just after 6.00am…. from Gatwick airport…miles out of London. At 4.30am the trains to Gatwick don’t run. How lucky that the limo driving friend of the hotel receptionist did. How unlucky that we got onto the freeway and it was blocked by police due to a traffic incident. How unlucky that driver dude had to stop for gas. How even unluckier that driver dud took twenty minutes to fill the tank and whatever else he did when he disappeared into the gas station shop.

You know where this is headed, don’t you?

That’s right, our own Easy Jet moment. Arrived five minutes too late for boarding. Frustration welled up and our only day in Athens flashed before my eyes. This was the day we were to conquer the Acropolis. Instead, I was waiting for the Airline cameras to arrive to film my pleas for clemency. Yes, they would still take us, but next flight out was 13 hours away. In the end we took a flight with another airline, had a wonderful evening twilight and ate the most amazing Feta whilst gazing up at the backlit Acropolis. However to this day, my bottom has not graced an Easy Jet seat.

Then I vowed never to use another low cost airline.

Well, until last weekend. I am currently DIYing the bookings for our European vacation later this year and this time I have no lack of information for an excuse. However, the flight I wanted, the one on the right day at the right time is operated by a low cost airline. This time, the friendly Norwegian Air Shuttle. I’m not going to bore you with the whole sorry saga of why I had to change the booking ten minutes after I made it, but a call to Norway was on the cards. After dialling the number, I received a wonderful friendly greeting in Norwegian which then lyrically read through the phone menu in Norwegian for about five minutes. The very last sentence of which was “If you would like to hear the options in English please press 0”. The English version took 1 minute after which I found myself on hold having been told their website was experiencing problems which meant an unusually high call volume. Lucky me, I chose the one day when Scandinavian efficiency was on holiday. After about 10 minutes a most pleasant young Norwegian man broke through the musac peaking brilliantly in English. He listened to my plight with enthusiasm and empathy after which he thought he had to decline my request but would speak to his supervisor.

They must have been having coffee because it took a while. And he apologised profusely for keeping me on hold before officially declining to make the change request. He then apologised profusely for keeping me waiting once again and again once more before finally ending the call. Clearly, this guy did not talk to Australians every day.

He was so freaking’ polite and nice. And he had such a cool accent. So I bottled up my frustration and wrote a few non frustrated emails to sort out the issue. Here are a few examples of Norwegian’s friendliness from their twitter feed. They are so thoughtful that even their planes have thought bubbles.

I am pleased to report that since my conversation with Norway, Norwegian Airlines have since come to my European party in all of its orange and white livery.

So takk så mye, Norwegian Airlines . You have given me my right of passage and also the vehicle for learning how to embed a tweet into my blog posts. And for this, you deserve a

thumbs-up-smiley-hi

Now, if we can only make the flight…

PS. As for the theme assignment, I did this on my own over the Christmas break. White on black or black on white? That is the question. I almost went with a black background this time, but reverted to the white side at the last minute.

A straw poll: What do you prefer dark skin, light writing or light skin with dark writing?

Zero to Hero Assignment 1: The Existential Guide to What I Am Doing Here

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

Warning: This post is unsually long and deep.

The WordPress Commissioners clearly don’t muck around.  They’ve gone straight for the juggler on day 1 with a rather a deep exercise in blogging existentialism. And with many thanks to Wikipedia, I will use the main concepts of existentialism to try to answer this most pertinent question.

Existence Precedes Essence

According to Wikipedia:

A central proposition of Existentialism is that existence precedes essence, which means that the most important consideration for individuals is the fact that they are an individual—an independently acting and responsible, conscious being (“existence”)—rather than what labels, roles, stereotypes, definitions, or other preconceived categories the individual fits (“essence”). The actual life of the individual is what constitutes what could be called their “true essence” instead of there being an arbitrarily attributed essence others use to define them.

midelife recreationOne of the main reasons for starting my blog was to better understand the changes that were coming at me as I was approaching middle age. Hence the name of this blog, Raising The Curtain. I felt that writing about the uncertainties I was experiencing would assist to focus my strategy in dealing with and understanding the changes. I also felt that writing about things which generally were only talked about behind the curtain and to the select few, may help others going through the same thing. This was and is  my vehicle to deal with middle ageing with irreverence and authenticity.

The Absurd 

Once again from Wikipedia:

The notion of the Absurd contains the idea that there is no meaning in the world beyond what meaning we give it….Because of the world’s absurdity, at any point in time, anything can happen to anyone, and a tragic event could plummet someone into direct confrontation with the Absurd.

This blog is definitely about the absurd. In it, I try to highlight the absurdity of life and laugh in its face. There is no better way to deal with absurdity than through humour, because no matter what else you do life will keep throwing it at you. This blog looks at the absurd in a way that conveys the notion that we are all at the mercy of life’s absurdities and none of us is really any more silly (or better) than any one else.

Facticity

More Wikipedia mastery:

Facticity is both a limitation and a condition of freedom. It is a limitation in that a large part of one’s facticity consists of things one couldn’t have chosen (birthplace, etc.), but a condition in the sense that one’s values most likely depend on it. However, even though one’s facticity is “set in stone” (as being past, for instance), it cannot determine a person: The value ascribed to one’s facticity is still ascribed to it freely by that person. As an example, consider two men, one of whom has no memory of his past and the other remembers everything. They have both committed many crimes, but the first man, knowing nothing about this, leads a rather normal life while the second man, feeling trapped by his own past, continues a life of crime, blaming his own past for “trapping” him in this life. There is nothing essential about his committing crimes, but he ascribes this meaning to his past.

However, to disregard one’s facticity when, in the continual process of self-making, one projects oneself into the future, would be to put oneself in denial of oneself, and would thus be inauthentic. In other words, the origin of one’s projection must still be one’s facticity, though in the mode of not being it (essentially). Another aspect of facticity is that it entails angst, both in the sense that freedom “produces” angst when limited by facticity, and in the sense that the lack of the possibility of having facticity to “step in” for one to take responsibility for something one has done also produces angst.

This concept is highly relevant to this blog. In reaching middle age I instinctively understand that I have to let go of old notions that no longer serve me. Whilst most of my perceptions and learned behaviours from the past have served me well to this point, they are not going to do so going forward and in fact may be a hindrance to my further growth. I therefore have to ascribe a far lesser importance to them, but recognise that ultimately I am who I am. This blog is a journal of sorts of my personal journey and I have much still to learn. However I do know, that if we needlessly hold onto outer beauty, we may miss seeing our inner beauty which is far more sustainable in the long term.

Authenticity

More wonderful words from Wikipedia:

Many noted existentialist writers consider the theme of authentic existence important. Authentic existence involves the idea that one has to “create oneself” and then live in accordance with this self. What is meant by authenticity is that in acting, one should act as oneself, not as “one” acts or as “one’s genes” or any other essence requires. The authentic act is one that is in accordance with one’s freedom.

Living authentically is extremely important to me and authenticity is the  main quality I look for in others. Middle age has a tendency man is nothing elseto hone one’s bullshit radar and frankly, I have had enough of dealing with it to last three lifetimes. With this blog, I strive to write authentically and to put a piece of myself in each blog post. These stories of me and my life are real. My writing is real. My comments are real and the connection that comes from me to fellow bloggers is real. This blog is designed for those whose feet are firmly placed on the ground, no matter how high they may soar or how low they may go. It’s my good, my bad and my ugly. Leave your masks at the door.

The Other and the Look

From you know where:

To clarify, when one experiences someone else, and this Other person experiences the world (the same world that a person experiences), only from “over there”, the world itself is constituted as objective in that it is something that is “there” as identical for both of the subjects; a person experiences the other person as experiencing the same things. This experience of the Other’s look is what is termed the Look (sometimes the Gaze).

This blog is also about being introduced to others’ perspectives, about the ebb and flow of conversation, about learning new things and exchanging ideas. The comments that I have received over the time I have been blogging contain a treasure trove of information, insights and viewpoints. We all exist in the objective WordPress world but each blog has its own community. This blog is about building community and contributing to community.

Angst and Despair

Wikipedia says:

Angst is often described as a drama an adolescent troubles with during their developmental years. This adolescent trouble or self-loathing is often tied to sexual attractiveness, both males and females often feel this angst and worry that they will not find both a partner or romantic conditional love for who they are. As adolescents face the prospect of adulthood where they must take control of their life the dread of both facing life alone and the fear of freedom and responsibility often lead to depression.

and:

Despair, in existentialism, is generally defined as a loss of hope.[ More specifically, it is a loss of hope in reaction to a breakdown in one or more of the defining qualities of one’s self or identity. If a person is invested in being a particular thing, such as a bus driver or an upstanding citizen, and then finds his being-thing compromised, he would normally be found in state of despair — a hopeless state. For example, a singer who loses the ability to sing may despair if she has nothing else to fall back on—nothing to rely on for her identity. She finds herself unable to be what defined her being.

Generally, I am not an angsty or despairing person. However, I realised approaching middle age that if I didn’t externalize some of what I was feeling, I would be dealing with it longer than I needed to. Hence this blog. Moreover, in surfing the Net for material on middle age, I was struck by the negativity and the sense of loss that surrounded the process. I have not been feeling either and in fact was rather positive about the changes being wrought (even through I was struggling to understand them fully) and I wanted to contribute positive dialogue to the conversation. I have since discovered that there are more than a few bloggers here who are tackling middle age and ageing in general in their positively individualistic styles and they have proved an inspiration. I only hope that I can inspire others.

I also blog because I am the mother of two teenage sons. That should be enough said, but once again I turn to this blog and humour to deal with the trials, tribulations and the joys of parenting teens. I need to be resilient to deal with their angst and despair and this blog is one of my vehicles.

I hope I have adequately answered this first assignment and given you some insights into why I do what I do here.

As a last word, my blog is intended to be mostly humorous. Less often it is serious and reflective. Humour though is the glue that bonds the reflections in this blog together and it is the tie that generally binds me to my readers and fellow bloggers and they to me. Humour can be mistaken for those that don’t seek it as a sign of lack of intelligence or immaturity. Approaching this blog in that vein underestimates it and the writer and ignores the messages. To do so would be the biggest tragedy of all.

Two posts in one day. I know, right!

The Zero to Hero Better Blog Assignment: It’s a Very Good Place to Start

Welcome dear readers to 2014 and my new look blog. Over the holiday hiatus I rearranged the blog furniture, dusted off the curtain and spruced up the place a little. This spurt of activity came hot on the heels of me cleaning up my bookcase at home, emancipating a huge bag of books to good masters and getting reacquainted with two and half bookshelves of empty space as a result.

It feels good and just in time for a cool refreshing Summer drink.

Now to take the new look blog out for a test run.

And what better way to do than to participate in the WordPress Zero to Hero blogging program? This involves 30 blog tips and exercises from our WordPress hosts over January. Happily, this won’t necessarily mean a blog a day, but it will mean a few new blog posts, some bloggy tweaking and learning new skills.

zero-to-hero

Which is a very good thing even though I have been blogging for about 18 months. It has been 18 months of a relatively steep but fun learning curve that has been anything but systematic. This will be good way to polish skills that have been acquired on a need to know basis and by the trial and error of doing rather than studying. I was led to the WordPress platform a few days before the A to Z April Blogging Challenge of 2012 started and being faced with a real life blog which I had to master quickly, I have concentrated only on the basics.

It’s time to take my blog learning to another level through the Zero to Hero assignments. Like Do Re Mi, it’s a very good place to start.

I’m not sure what assignments WordPress has in store but no doubt it will be an adventure.

So I’ve got my bloggy cape, magic lasso and super hero boots at the ready. Not to mention my hero speech bubbles,

Widget Wham!

Publish Pow!

Holy Posts Batman!

for this January journey.

Excuse me, must dash the Blog bat phone is ringing and it’s the WordPress commissioners with my first assignment.

Digital Culture: It is All About YOU!

As some of you know, I’m back at Uni doing a Masters in Law, Media and Jounalism. One of my courses this session requires me to run a blog relating to online and mobile media. I therefore unveil my new student blog, Social From The Middle and my very first post. My first post is all about You, so come a long and join in the conversation. Would love to have your comments and feedback.
Warning, this blog is produced from my non-reptillian brain, under no circumstances will it contain any humour whatsover… well maybe just a wee bit, enough for survival. Isn’t that what the reptillian brain is all about?

Social From The Middle

We hear the term “digital culture” everyday. Usually it is used with a negative connotation, describing a counter-revolution to traditional media delivery and consumption and the death of reading and writing as we know it. But what does the expression really mean and what is our place in this so-called “culture”?

Digital CultureLet me start by outlining what it is not. Digital culture is not the same as being digitally cultured. There is no doubt, our children are growing up more exposed to digital devices than ever before and at an ever earlier age. My children were born before the smartphone/tablet revolution, so it always intrigues me when I see toddlers out with their parents at restaurants with smartphone or tablet in hand. They have replaced books and plastic keys as the distraction devices of the new millennium. And from what I have observed, the practice is almost universal. In fact…

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Paying It Faward Once Again

Time for a bit of bloggy housekeeping and an award catchup.

It’s truly amazing to me that even during a blogging absence, blogging friends remember and reward. I have some fabulous readers and blogging mates and I am truly thankful.

During April and May, I received two awards from ramblingsfromamum who blogs at Ramblings From A Mum. Jen is a fellow Aussie and a very talented, multifaceted writer. Poetry, Haiku and flash fiction are all on offer at her blog. Jen has also just started a joint blog, words… from here to there, comprising thought provoking poetry and visual delights in the form of photography.

Firstly, Rambly (or mumsy) as she is fondly known, bestowed upon me the Best Moment Award.

Rambly writes that the purpose is for:

Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered –
Savoring the experience of quality time.

Best Moment Award

Rules:

  • Repost the award and award description
  • Give an acceptance speech
  • Pass the award on, and notify the nominees.

Not sure about a speech, but it is a real honour to be thought worthy of this award. Living in the moment and being bold takes continual practice and every day that includes these two things is an achievement. Thank you, Rambly, you really are a model recipient for this award.

If that wasn’t enough, Rambly also included me as part of her WordPress Family Award. The concept of the WordPress family is a good one and the notion that there are people “out there” who actually take the time to care about you and your life and positively impact on your blogging experience fills me with more than a little warmth. Which is needed right about now, given that Winter has arrived. Once again, thanks Rambly, the feeling is mutual.

wordpress-family-award-1

Rules:

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 10 (or more) others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family.
  • Let your 10 (or more) Family members know you have awarded them.

Also in May, dearanonymousfriend (DAF) nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. DAF blogs at dearanonymousfriend regaling us with stories about her role as a grandmother and her local community. DAF radiates a serenity that only the truly wise can muster. If your soul needs uplifting, make your way to DAF’s blog. My biggest thrill though came from DAF’s comment that I was her blogging hero. A simple thank you just doesn’t seem enough, but DAF, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that comment. We all do what we do mostly out of pleasure and to receive that sort of feedback is mind blowing, truly.

very inspiring blogger award

Rules:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements

Now to fulfil the rules. Seven things about me:

  1. I have long hair again for the first time in about a decade and a half and I’m loving it. I just don’t know whether to keep it or sheer it.
  2. I am once again a university student and am finding the experience incredibly stimulating and rewarding. Blogging has really helped with my academic writing.
  3. I love spending time with my teenage boys. They teach me something every day. We had a classic Wayne’s World moment today in the car singing along to and shaking our heads in time with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
  4. My favourite colour of roses is yellow.
  5. I love helping people and being asked to help.
  6. My idea of heaven is an overseas family holiday.
  7. I want to be a female version of Richard Glover. Richard is a writer who pens satirical commentary about everyday life. Richard blogs here .

I would like to acknowledge my WordPress Family and bestow upon them the WordPress Family Award. You all contribute to my WordPress environment and I appreciate our interactions:

Elkement from The Theory And Practice of Combining Just Anything

Bronwyn from The Speeding Turtle Gets Fit

Carrie Ruben blogging at The Write Transition

Hugh Cutler from Hugh Cutler

BTG55 from Musings Of An Old Fart

Tess from How the Cookie Crumbles

Rambly from Ramblingsfromamum

DAF from Dearanonymousfriend

Lisa from Life With The Top Down.

As for the remaining awards, I nominate you, my fellow bloggers who are also my readers. I appreciate all of your comments, feedback and the time you take to read my blog. There is an amazing blogging community out there.

A few honourable mentions from my recent A to Z Blogging April Challenge experience:

Bob’s Wife – creative glimpses into life in the Philipines

Tropical Territory – snapshots of life in the Northern Territory

Ellen M Gregg – Ellen describes herself as is a writer, Reiki master teacher and nutritional vegan. She has an amazing amount of energy and a wide variety of interests. Her blog is worth a visit.

Jagoda Perich-Anderson who blogs at Conflict Tango – an interesting blog about conflict resolution and handling conflict

Michael J Cahill who blogs at Nouveau Scarecrow – Michael signed up just before the Challenge started and came through with flying colours with some magic posts and beautiful writing.

Thank you for your work and your comments during the course of the Challenge. I hope life has returned to some semblance of blogging normal for you all.

Please feel free to pay these faward.