Weekends

We’re back from spending a hectic 48 hours in a regional city. It was awesome, the weather was great, the selection of activities was amazing and I also snuck in some shopping at the retail giants.

It’s nice though returning to our small town and appreciate the stillness that comes with it.

We’re heading into Melbourne this week and I’m literally bracing for the onslaught of noise and crowds. I’m becoming much more of a quiet seeker in my aging years. We lived for nearly a decade right in the middle of Melbourne and thought nothing of the constant light, noise, people pressures. But now we’ve embraced the regional life it’s changed our thoughts completely on what makes a great day out.

Do we really need to be so overly stimulated? I certainly don’t take it well anymore. I crave the quiet and time to think and not be rushed.

Low tech child raising in a high tech world

I’m upfront here about my wish to install in my own child a very low tech childhood. Yes I do let him use the computer once a day on school holidays to play computer games for an  hour, or research his favourite television shows – under supervision. But he doesn’t have access to a smart phone, an Ipad or any of the other devices that a lot of other children his age appear to have. (We have a PS2 but that’s rarely used too).

We’re the rare family, who when we go out, we all sit together and talk. No one has a screen at the table, and I don’t babysit my child with a screen. We do have a take away bag filled with drawing paper, pens, textas, crayons, and books to read. So if he does finish early and wants to draw, then we do let him – it gives us that extra few minutes to catch up with him, and finish our meal.

However I look around and see the number of children propped in front of a screen – the parent sits immersed in their digital world and the children each have a screen each. There is no or limited conversation going on. I wonder if they perform this ritual in their own homes and if so how much of the quality face time they give each other. (Or is updating their twitter or facebook posts that important?).

We’ve also read to our child since he was born. Passing to him the greatest opportunity ever – the written word. He thrilled me last year when I walked passed his room and he was sitting on his bed with a book in his hands devouring the pages. This to me was hitting the goldmine.

Call me old fashioned but the book is the ultimate entertainment device. It needs no electricity, no batteries, but it fuels the imagination like nothing else. Transporting you to ancient worlds or far flung universes – it will take you where you want and back again.

I also feel that the jury is still out about what happens when we expose young brains to the high tech devices too early. I want to raise a child who can use his imagination when he’s bored, to pick up a book, play in the sandpit, chase the dog, to transport himself into his imagination. Not be fed worlds to him by a screen. So far my son seems to be enjoying the fact he can entertain himself, and the children who approach our table when we’re out eating, attracted by the child who sits drawing elaborate worlds, who ask if they can draw please, reinforce my belief that we’re on the right track.

Cyborg

So I’m sitting here typing into the computer, and reflecting on a conversation my partner had with his class this week. As he looked around the classroom where all the heads of the students were bent over their computers interfacing with their digital worlds, he asked how many of them thought they were Cyborgs. After some conversation they came around to his interpretation of what a Cyborg is now.

I don’t use social media, so I’m not as connected as most folk. I don’t own a smart phone either. So my own interactions with digital worlds are when I’m sitting down with my child when he needs help establishing a colony in Age of Empires. We grow and build the colony until he’s ready to go off and wage war.

So I don’t consider myself a big C Cyborg – I walk down the street and greet people personally. I live in a small rural town where the majority of folk on the street don’t have their heads down, or ear phones on as they live their digital lives. I live here, now, in the present. Not waiting for the promised lands of the digital environment.

I use the internet but not as a reference tool, as an entertainment tool. (I’m hanging out for the next Star Wars movie but that’s another story). I prefer my interactions to be face to face, but have been known to text and email folk who just need to know that I care and love them. (Usually when they’re going through tough times and don’t want to talk….).

I wonder at the future my child will inhabit if the vast majority of the world is caught in the digital world. How often they will interact one to one, not through the safety of the digital tools, but in person. Will it be better? Or worse. He’s growing up in a world where the internet is the norm, Facebook is everywhere (at least amongst the teens at my school), and Minecraft is what you do with your lunchtime.

Unlike the Cyborgs of the present, I’ll be shutting down the computer soon, and heading out to spend the afternoon gardening in my veggie patch, and watching my child play with the dog. I won’t be waiting for the next Facebook update or any of the other digital “musts” that this age we live in seems to insist we do. Instead it will be me, the earth, and the sky – as I prefer it.

Back blogging

So much time and space has flown between now and my last blog – and I apologise. Life got busy – going back to work, learning a new job, learning a new small town, and all that life could bring with that.

I’m now living in a town with a population of 800 people. Imagine that – imagine walking down the street and everyone knowing who you are – you can’t hide. Especially as my job involves customer service to a large proportion of this population.

It’s taught me that country folk are welcoming, and also so much more friendly then the city counterparts. When was the last time you were personally greeted by folks down the main street? I love it, they say hullo and genuinely want a chat. They’re not like the city folk who would rather freeze then make eye contact. (Don’t get me started on the fact that most city folk are attached to their electronic devices and wouldn’t even know you were there so caught up in their electronic selves…)

So life is growing, and changing and I’m loving it……I hope you are too and hopefully I’ll be back with a longer update soon!

The 2015 Stella Prize Longlist announced!

Because we need to support the writer in us all and an opportunity for the female voice to be heard….

International Book Giving Day 2015 is nearly here …

I almost missed this one this year….

International Book Giving Day 2017

I spy with my little eye lots & lots of excitement and preparations across the globe.

Tales of events in Cambodia, Hungary, Australia and the Philippines are reaching our ears.

There are book fairies (librarian Angela Reynolds) dusting off their wings to deliver books in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Routes To Reading are taking nominations of nurseries in Bristol, UK for their IBGD giveaway. You can nominate here.

Fiona Roberton has designed this gorgeous poster, which I’m totally in love with. After the weekend, a copy is definitely going on my wall!

Fiona Roberton Fiona Roberton

The response to our bookmarks and bookplates has been astounding. Here they are being used as a wonderful centre piece ready for the big day …

Marlleen Montelongo Marlleen Montelongo

Mowmacre Hill Primary School in Leicester, UK are not only holding a bookmark competition, every pupil in the school will receive a bookmark and book on Friday!

The Itty Bitty…

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Loss

Why is it that in this world of ours that we fail to acknowledge the impact that grief and loss has on our lives? That it’s easier to ignore these strong overwhelming emotions and just hope for the best?

I hit a wall two weeks ago, I’d moved house, started a new job and was trying to be the best supportive Mother and partner I could be. Then the anniversary of my Dad’s death came and went – I happened to start the job on his death day, and so had pushed and pushed my loss so deep, that it was there – a cold lump of sorrow burrowed so deep that it ached in the lonely hours of the night.

It emerged on a Saturday following the start of the new job, it erupted, bringing with it near hysterical tears and sobbing. The type of breaking in two sorrow, that I’ve felt before, and had so hard to ignore.

But this is the thing about sorrow, no matter how hard you push it down, try to ignore it or move on. It catches you and freezes you until it emerges, strong and fierce and at times frightening for all. Because we are not built to hide this type of emotion – even though in this society of ours, strong emotions are feared and ignored.

I had thought that I had moved past this time, but realise now that in times of extreme stress I have to be more careful on how far I am pushing myself. That by heaping all that stress onto my shoulders, my grief would need an outlet. An opportunity to feel the losses of all those folk I’ve known and loved. To allow myself this opportunity to grieve openly and for as  long as it took to get that sorrow out.

It worked, I’d never felt so at peace then I did afterwards, I felt cleansed of the hard cold sorrow, and the fire of my grief.

I wonder how many folk try to carry on, to try and hide this grief, when it should be allowed to emerge….do you hide yours?

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