A Shapeless Life Right Now

Something’s wrong with my stupid screen. The image cuts out all the time and I can’t seem to fix it. I think I need a new screen to connect to my laptop.

Who knows how to blog? I’m not sure why I still do this. What am I sharing that’s of interest? Reading my old psychotherapy book the other day about ‘I’ve Lost My Big Dream – There’s Nothing Left’ made me think about what next. The author (Barbara Sher) mentions that it’s okay for our lives to feel shapeless for a time after a big loss. Such as loss of a career? Even if we initiated that loss ourselves? Probably.

So – welcome to a shapeless life. Not sure what to do about that.

https://youtu.be/H2rG4Dg6xyI

Listen to this TedTalk from Barbara Sher! And oh no – she died in 2020 – at age 84. But the wisdom is still there, amazing.

We arrived at 2022.

I can hear the tractor outside – Chas is pulling the huge trailer (with both dogs sitting on top) down to the dam to get water. We have a drought now. And we are still in #inthetimeofcoronavirus. Our government here in New Zealand has adopted traffic light settings to ‘control’ and ‘slow down’ the spread of the virus.

We are in #RedTrafficLight. What does it mean? There are limits on gatherings. We must wear masks everywhere. We must scan in. We are supposed to be double vaccinated and have our booster shot too. We should have a vaccine pass (some resisters won’t do any of this so people like me are doing the heavy lifting for them…thought about that?).

All these measures are to protect our health system from getting overwhelmed. I hope this works. We were at the airport this morning putting our son on the plane for Sydney (plague capital of Australasia) for his new job. I have my fingers crossed things work out well.

The airport was eerily empty and quiet. Too quiet. Pandemic travel looks so different now from what we had. The brave new world?

I have taken nearly two years to get back to writing on WordPress. Today was the day I was to cancel my subscription. But I decided not to – perhaps this can be useful for writing practice…who knows. I wonder how other people are coping right now with their changed lives.

I have gone back to art class. And quit my university job. Everything went online in 2020 and has stayed there – and my ex-colleagues are still working from home. Who knows what the future holds for tertiary education? But it won’t be part of my future now, and that’s alright.

Half completed – yacht in acrylics. Unfinished.

#AlertLevel3IsLockdown

We have moved to Alert Level 3. This is still Lockdown – we are allowed to expand our ‘bubbles’ ever so slightly (not too much, now).

I like the pandemic lockdowns. Not being able to go out and run on the work treadmill by going into the office every day with a long bus ride at both ends suits me. I have finished my favourite book ever “How to Be A Writer”. I can’t promise you my blog posts will improve as a result of reading the Book. But I can say I am practicing writing every day and faithfully following the exercises in the Book. I have made it a capital “B” because of the importance of the Book in helping me move on.

There are lots of ways to becoming a writer. It seems though that some of the best ways are to faithfully write each day. Free-writing is the first activity to learn. Then comes focused free-writing. It is all good to me.

Now we are in Alert Level 3, I might have to think about what to do next. My first visit to the supermarket was last Wednesday –  after nearly 6 weeks without going to a shop, what a novel experience it was. I even remembered how to drive the car. I am sure that many people all over the world are having a similar experience.

I still can’t quite believe that we have been in a pandemic. This only happens in movies, like the film ‘Contagion’. That was a scary film. Now life has mimicked art.

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We now have autumn (fall). An early misty morning on the farm.

#WaysToLive

Well, here we are with one week of lockdown completed (plus two days). This is weird. I have not been off the farm for 13 days – not anywhere. Is this my new normal? We have enough food to last for months but have been running out of the ‘good stuff’ like, you know potato chips…yummy dips…tonic waters of different flavours (hellooo Fever Tree tonics ) and ice cream treats for the guys.

I’ve been thinking about #WaysToLive. Living differently might be more important now. We might need to live more gently on the planet. On the farm, it seems as if nature is taking big, slow breaths now we are silenced. Almost as if she is recovering. I can feel the farm breathing…

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Can you see the hawk in the photo. I took the photo on an early summer morning, about two months ago before the pandemic took hold of us all. Hawks are hard to photograph because they move so fast, swooping and diving over the paddocks looking for tiny prey.

Beautiful and fierce birds. Will we see more hawks? Perhaps the pandemic is forcing us to rethink how we live. So more hawks will come. But, you might say, that’s alright for the ‘wealthy west’ where many are so well-supported by their governments. I get this. But our business went from hero to zero overnight so we are suffering too, and we don’t know if we will start up again. Depends on what happens with the construction sector, of which we are a tiny, tiny part.

Decided to listen to a recommended podcast from Jack Kornfield about achieving calm and peace in the chaos we are in. Once I got past the tonne of advertising (huh ??) I found the ideas shared very cool. He talks about reframing our responses to the #inthetimeofcoronavirus. Grounded in Buddhist philosophy. Not usually my scene!

But if you’re interested, here’s the link to the talks: Philosophy

A wee warning though – it can be a bit fluffy…or a bit confronting. Maybe both. And he’s right – he also asked the question “how do I want to live now?” What a question. No answer yet…

One thing I have been doing carefully now, and that is only connecting to news of the day briefly. And, not too much social media either. In fact, I’ve nearly withdrawn from social media which has created a bit of a problem with Zonta now. I should be posting more stuff but it doesn’t seem to be relevant right now. Like, what can we all do collectively about empowering women and girls if we can’t actually meet with each other and some of us will have problems with stumping up for the annual subscription…end of rant.

So. The big question remains “how do I want to live now?”

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Into Lockdown #inthetimeofcoronavirus

Strange times indeed. Day #2 of a 4-week lockdown where we in New Zealand are on Alert Level 4 – stay home, don’t interact with people outside your family group (who you are at home with), work from home, stay home, stay home…and so we are.

The virus is horribly contagious and our cases are rising. But we have a Government that has moved fast to lockdown New Zealand to avoid community transmission so our hospitals won’t be overwhelmed. Will it work? We won’t know for a couple of weeks.

I would rather be here than in some countries overseas I keep reading about. Seems to me even Australia is muddled. Their response is inconsistent and I’m sure people must be confused. Their cases are rocketing up, too. Sad!

What am I doing with my time? Lucky me – I have a lot of writing I want to do. No shopping of course – just essentials of food – and for that we have designated our lovely Ben as he is faster than me, won’t dawdle looking at ‘stuff’ and hopefully youth is an advantage against #coronavirus. Chas and I are ‘oldies’ now (sigh) so had better stay out of the way.

My no shopping for stuff year will be helped by the lockdown. I fell out of the waka a bit on February and was seduced by Max Fashion’s summer sale so bought (I am fessing up here) one denim jacket (it is very cool but nowhere to wear it right now), a nice pair of black pants for work (ha ha) and a cream silk shirt. All looks good but not being worn – unless I dress up for zoom meetings!

Apart from that, have been sticking to no spend. And right now, it’s hard to spend although I guess I could go nuts and download from Amazon for the Kindle. But I have lots of material to read so I’ll stick with the program.

I wonder how this will end? IMG_0015

Day 1 of the No Spend on Stuff Year.

Day One, Saturday February 1st (or Ground Zero, if you want): Usually shopping gobbles up Saturday morning (that includes food shopping). But my No Spend on Stuff Year started on Saturday the 1st so I had to think of something else to do.

I collected seeds from our trees and thought a lot about shopping. The seeds are for a woodlot on our farm. I will need plenty of time to grow those seeds into 200 trees. Before the No Spend Year, I would just pay a visit to my fave hardware store (Bunnings, you know who you are) and buy trees – you know, grown-up trees.

That once planted, look like a woodlot already. IMG_0064

So back to thinking about shopping. What is it about shopping that’s so seductive? Is it the whole instant gratification thing of buying something? Buying a thing makes me feel like I’m participating somehow. “Everyone” goes out and buys things, right?

That’s what we do with our time off.

Here’s a thought – are we so well-trained to go out and buy, that when we can’t/don’t/won’t, we have a problem with what to do? I had a wee brush with anxiety at that thought. What to do with a whole day ahead of me that had no shopping in it?

I could clean the house. I could take all the clothes out of my wardrobe, sort through them and only put things back that actually fit. I could scrub the mold off the back deck. I could clean out the fridge that might have bio-hazards in it by now.

All this cleaning. This is starting to sound like a job, or at least moving towards less clutter a la Marie Kondo…Declutter

In the end, as I said earlier, I collected seeds. There’s a lot to think about when looking for seeds. Have you ever tried to find a magnolia tree seed? At first I collected the wrong things – the dried flower stamens, until a YouTube search turned up a cacti-collecting vlogger showing which parts of the magnolia flower really has the seed magnolia seeds

Two hours of scrabbling around under trees with my jars, and I now have: 12 magnolia seeds (turns out they do their seed thing from a pine cone looking arrangement which needs to dry before the seeds pop out); 20 kauri seeds from a dry cone; about a million flax seeds from only three plants; and an uncountable number of manuka seeds of which their viability is doubtful.

After taking the dogs for a run it was half-way through the day. And…quite satisfying. Who ever thought?

In December 2019 The Body Shop entered me into a competition to win a year’s supply of their hand and body lotion – because I am (was) such a good customer. Incredibly, I won the competition – and here’s the proof:

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Wait, there’s only 7 pots! That’s because I gave 5 away as Christmas gifts. I think I have enough lotion to last the year, solving one dilemma – skin care.

 

 

Still an educator on a digital journey but now on a No Spend on Stuff Year for 2020.

Love this store

How am I going to do this? Just downloaded a book onto my Kindle all about a financial journo in London who persuaded her husband and herself to live for a year with No Spend (apart from the obvious things like food, mortgage, utilities, transport, medical).

Since we have a massive mortgage (so did the journalist), I want to go on a No Spend Year. If we don’t kill off a big chunk of the mortgage AND other debt (you know, the debt with the big nasty high interest rates), in the next 3 to 5 years, we will never get financial freedom, and I don’t want to be an old lady with no money. Read a bit about that at the link below (the site is a little out of my zone but the fear is real).

fear of being a bag lady

I do have a savings target for the year: $10 grand. We can call it the No Spend target. Seems a lot, right? Surely I don’t spend that much without noticing? I have a sinking feeling that I do spend that much, in a year, which is really about $900 or so a month. Likely on stuff that we don’t really need.

So I’m signed up (with myself). And to seal the deal I told my family (my son laughed and wished me luck, his girlfriend thinks it’s a great idea, but my husband said he doesn’t spend anyway so it won’t make any difference to him). My two beautiful nieces are all for this journey – supportive, but skeptical and “we are watching you on Facebook Aunti…” they want me to post regularly to prove I am staying the course.

Here’s the three things I faced this morning on my journey to work, walking the 15 minutes from my bus stop to the office – trying not to go in and browse:

The first is the department store wonderland full of goodies, and especially great for significant birthdays. Then, #2 is a fave store with cool business clothes to help me feel updated – especially since I teach tertiary students (I can’t be an outdated frumpy person).

Then a pic is The Body Shop who do so much to help women in tough markets, and I like to support their initiatives.

But the No Spend Year means my wallet stays slammed shut when I walk past these stores. Or I could walk another route.

Thinking about how to make the No Spend Year work, I came up with some ideas.

I can make a birthday gift for my Mom. I can make a special dinner for my son for his birthday, and paint a picture (he wants some art for his walls). I can make my lunch every day and if I don’t, well, then what I spend there has to come off the groceries for that week. I can go to coffee with friends and drink a glass of hot water (I like hot water). This might be called ‘blagging a glass of hot water’ from the cafe. Got that idea from reading The Salt Path (by Raynor Winn). How to blag hot water from a cafe

Feeling anxious already about this commitment. Does this mean that consumerism, or ‘consumpting’ which is what our son called ‘over buying’ when he was little, is a hard habit to bust? Yeah, I guess. Starting on February 1st. That’s Saturday!

Put Your Back Into It and Speed Up!

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Pretty cool travelling at 330 kilometres an hour on China’s fast train from Shanghai to Weifang. Blogging again as I have an Abstract to submit by December 1st to a T & L Conference about technology use in the classroom that might be worth sharing with colleagues, let’s see.

What am I submitting? Well…I am still working on robot-proofing my marketing students. This goal is becoming urgent now since we started our digital marketing paper this second semester. Can we help the students acquire better digital skills by being more skilled ourselves? The work world has changed again too. I see there are more opportunities that are saturated with digital skills and content knowledge. Are we there yet with teaching in this space? I do not think so.

Therefore, I want to share a blended learning initiative using Google’s Digital Garage modules as part of our course work. Our students reflected on their experience with Google Digital Garage and, the most surprising thing to me is that they enjoyed the self-paced learning…and want more. What? How did that happen?

Let’s see if I can explain what happened that made the self-paced learning experience a success.