New Year brings a New Season

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Hawaii 2015                                            Photo credit: Debbie Smith

A New Direction

At the end of 2015 I resigned from my teaching position in Brisbane to start a new phase in my life and begin something I’ve been dreaming about for awhile. After two years of commuting two-and-a-half hours each way from Noosa to Brisbane, a lot of the time in standstill traffic, and after much discussion with my lovely husband, it was decided.

Was this a hard decision?

Short answer – yes.

And, no.

Yes – because I will miss my lovely students, work colleagues and working at one of the best places you could wish for.

No – because I will not miss spending so much money on fuel or tolls. We own an economic 4-wheel drive beast who is very good on fuel, but also owns a massive fuel tank and the Brisbane City Council have a shark tank that’s called Go Via that just seems to be more hungry these days for business vehicles.

And no (again) – because I won’t miss the restrictive five hours of sitting behind the wheel where mostly I thought of all the things I could be doing. Believe me, I did try to keep busy or find ways to entertain myself like ‘writing’ via recording, but I found out I’m not really cut out for this and found it very distracting. I tried listening to POD casts, and that was okay too. But, what I really wanted to do was be behind my desk, just like I am now, putting words on paper and watching ideas spill out onto the blank sheet. It’s a favourite thing of mine to do.

And yes (again) – because I will miss the companionship and singing hubby buddy who commuted for half of my trip both days. We’d often be found with the easy listening community radio station Sunshine Coast FM 104.9 cranked up to sing along with all our all time favourites. At least on 104.9, we knew all the words to most of the songs. Now I’m giving away our age, aren’t I?

But like the old adages say, ‘all good things must come to an end’, and ‘when one door closes another opens’.

Coming to a Decision

Well sometimes sayings aren’t always helpful, though they are good as general reminders.

It took me months of deep thinking on my own before I even raised the idea with my trusted confidante – hubby. After I discussed my thoughts with him initially nothing changed or was sorted. I just tested the waters and listened to what my ideas sounded like.

Then came months of mulling it over in silence, writing down my T plan to work through the positives on one side and the negatives on the other. After this I located my life plan goals and read through what I had written down years ago. Then hubby and I had more discussions. He was sold on the idea. I needed more convincing, although by this stage, I was leaning more towards making the decision to resign.

Everyone’s circumstances are different when it comes to making a big life decision like this. I know some people don’t think as hard or take as long as I did, but I just wanted to make sure I’d make the best decision for everyone it would affect. I have a very loyal nature and stay true to those I am committed to, including employers. And for some of us who are a little more mature than others, it is also very scary to be taking the plunge into new and uncharted waters. Sometimes it pays to play things safe. But for me, playing it safe isn’t always the best option. Taking risks can be empowering and can drive you to creative problem solving techniques.

Once the decision was made – EVERYTHING just seemed to fall into place.

People ask me, how’s retirement? And I cringe and burr up a bit when I hear these words, surprisingly. Some are joking, while others, aren’t. I’m one of those people who will never retire unless my eyes fail me or some other health condition robs me from being able to do what I want to do. So, there’s no retirement plans in place for me. But, I do know one thing for sure – an adventure beckons.

So, for the record … I’m not retired.

I am busier now than I’ve ever been; setting up a new business, proofreading for a couple of SunnyCoast authors and being where my heart is – behind my desk, or finding creative and interesting places to write near.

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Pelicans – Noosa River                                                                       Photo credit: Debbie Smith

There is also a very small ‘happy secret’ I’m keeping close to my heart that’s taking up a little bit of my thoughts and plans during my days and nights, as well. One day soon, I hope to be able to share with you what it is, but for now, I’m keeping it a secret.

I hope you follow along with me and experience my new journey. This commute is one I’m going to treasure and I wonder where it is going to lead me?

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Allow time to feel the wind in your hair                                           Photo credit: Debbie Smith

Thanks for taking time to read this.

Until next time,

Miss Debbie

A Month of Manuscripts, Illustrations & Other Things

I haven’t been journalling here for awhile and I’ll take that as a good sign. That’s because I’ve been busy doing what I’m supposed to be doing – writing!

Since I last posted about the bee in my bonnet I’ve completed a number of projects including:  a new short story for children called, Willow’s Broken Shells.  I’ve entered it in a competition run by Creative Kids Tales and will know the results later this year. I wrote it for the experience and I grew to really like the story in the process. The characters, Willow and her mother, won me over and it was a pleasure to tell their story.

I had a WIP (work in progress) adult short story on the go at the time and it’s this story where the idea for my latest children’s short story grew, and I’m so glad it did. The original idea for adult story, The Blessing Boxcame from my summation that things or people need to be broken to let in the light. The Blessing Box is completed and entered into the Sunshine Coast Literary Association’s 2015 Poetry and Short Story Competition.

In addition to the two stories above, I completed a second reworked adult short story called, Sisterly Acts, which is entered in the SCLA’s competition, along with two rhyming poems, Life Lessons – Time and Cherished Family and a free verse poem called, What the Artist Knows.

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Photo credit: Debbie Smith

As if that isn’t enough, I completed my first children’s picture book manuscript, yes the one I mentioned in my bee in my bonnet post, fully editedand have completed a number of illustrations. I worked to a strict deadline and yesterday, entered them in the CYA Conference’s Competition.

So, since my last blog entry here back in March, I’ve been working … working, and it’s felt so good. I think I’ve managed to squeeze in quite a lot in a short space of time, although, because I’m not really an illustrator, I found drawing really quite time consuming. But, I’m not complaining.

I have also used my time to network and grow my sphere of influence…oh, and design my business card to complement my website…the list just grows. It’s actually good writing about it so I can see for myself just how productive I’ve been.

Keep in mind, this is just about the writing goals, and then there’s the personal goals and I’ve kicked some of them too.

What latest projects have you been working on? I’d love to hear from you.

Please leave a comment and let me know.

The Bee in my Bonnet

I’d like you to meet the latest bee in my bonnet.

He’s a little guy who began life as someone quite different many years ago.

This is Olly

                              This is Olly

Olly, as he was known back then, breezed into my life when I was dreaming of a character who would be perfect for a children’s picture book story I had to write and illustrate for a Uni assignment many years ago. I needed someone simple, yet loveable and when Olly introduced himself to me, he was perfect.

Back then, he was a little cloud guy on legs who lived down at the bottom of Mr Wilson’s flower garden and enjoyed the simple things in life like packing picnic baskets and spending time with friends. Something most of us enjoy doing.

I lovingly bound Olly’s story and handmade illustrations in a small sized book for safekeeping and dedicated it to my beautiful young daughter.

My daughter loved the simplicity of the story and my very amateurish illustrations. For you see I am not really an illustrator, can you tell, but I do enjoy drawing. One thing I have discovered about myself is I like to have a go at doing (most) things myself. The exception is, if what I am attempting to do is way out of my league, then, and only then it seems, will I hand it over to an expert.

Olly sat around our various homes on a bookshelf for years. Not many people every really knew about him. But he has been here with us for what is now a very large chunk of our lives. We do think about him from time to time and he occasionally crops up in the odd conversation.

For sometime now I have watched the phenomenon of eBook publishing develop and fill the market place. More and more people have turned to this media for legitimate reasons and it has captivated my interest. At first, what was merely a passing interest has become a mini driving force.

Almost a year ago I decided I’d like to have a go myself and join the ranks of people who seemed to be having a great time publishing their stories and work on Amazon, but little did I know what the journey would entail and the lessons I would need to learn.

Admitting that I’m not a digital native exposes my age, really, doesn’t it? However, it is true. I’m not a digital native and the road I seem driven to go down is very slow for me. I’m trying to learn a lot of information, in a very short amount of time, as well as learn a lot of new IT skills, to boot.

Why, you might ask, would I even bother? And I have asked myself this question too. The answers that come ringing back in my ears are varied, but the one that seems to be driving this train, is, if others can do it, then why not me?

I think I can!

I think I can!

I think I can!

Does this remind you of anyone?

What have I got to lose?

Time, I hear you answer.

And you’d be right. But, if I’m using my time doing something I love, then am I really losing anything?

I think the only person to lose anything will be me if I don’t give it a shot.

When I read back through this post I discovered there are probably a few more bees in my bonnet than I first thought.

So, what does Olly have to do with anything?

Olly, once again inspired me to tell his story, but this time in an eBook format. But the twist came when I went to start. I took Olly off the shelf, dusted his jacket off and opened up the book and read.

The story is still there, I found, but …

There was a but!

I was young and inexperienced when I wrote Olly all those years ago.

If I were to write and publish Olly on Amazon, I’d need to know who he was. After reading Olly recently, with my writer’s eyes firmly engaged, I realised that for all these years, we’ve only ever known Olly as the little Cloudman who likes picnics, playing with his friend, and that he lives at the bottom of Mr Wilson’s garden. We’ve never really known who Olly is or where he’s from. Wow! Imagine my surprise.

After spending quite some time with Olly, asking him questions and throwing some ideas around, I discovered a whole new character and a whole new story in the process.

So, whilst Olly has inspired what I hope will be my first eBook series, it won’t be his story. But without Olly, I doubt this new series would ever have been dreamt up.

The original Olly, his life and story, will always belong to my daughter and hopefully will be shared with my future grandchildren.

So, within my Journal here at a Garden of Verse and Stories, I will begin to share my writing experience with you.

If you have read all the way down to here, may I please say a very big warm and friendly, thank you. I really appreciate it. I know time is precious.

I would love to hear if you are on a similar journey as me. Please leave me a comment and share your thoughts. I’d love to meet you and hear what you’re working on.

Until next time…

Happy writing,

Debbie

Journal Entry ~ Running the Race

Photo Credit: Jamey Price

                                                                                 Photo Credit: Jamey Price http://www.jameypricephoto.com

Do you ever feel like the proverbial horse that’s bolted from the barriers, energised and trying hard for a win and yet the faster you run, the slower you go because someone keeps putting up barriers and obstacles along the race track that seem to take forever to get over, under or around?

I’m feeling a little bit like that horse. I’m energised and on the go, go, go, but my race is on a very steep track (aka learning curve) and each time I hit a brick wall or obstacle, my confidence gets a little dented. I forge on but find myself wishing I was quicker at working things out than I am. A lot of my current obstacles are of a technological nature and with things constantly being updated and changed, I feel like my race is more like a dance; two steps forward, one step back.

The key is giving myself permission to spend the time I need to learn the new skills I wish to acquire and also to write. Today I spent time playing with my website/blog and trying to get familiar with blog speak and experimenting with how things work. I feel I learnt something today and the best thing for me today was seeing the number of other bloggers taking time away from their own work to visit my site and show me some appreciation. It was a real wow factor for me. I went from zero followers this morning to a small handful of followers by tonight. I posted some smaller bite sized pieces of work up and real people, strangers to me from other parts of the world, stopped by and liked what I posted. They didn’t have to do that, but they did, and I certainly appreciated it…and still do.

I tried to reciprocate by visiting their websites and liking some of their work. I found quite a big world out there today, whereas last night when I was trying to find my way around in WordPress cyberspace, I didn’t have much luck.

One thing I already know is:  networking is the key to growing your sphere of influence, and

One of the many things I learned today:  there are a lot of people out there with very interesting things to say and show the world. I enjoyed a fun day or exploration and entertainment.

I understand there will continue to be many obstacles and barriers for me to work my way around, over or under and I accept that. I also accept there will be bruising and dents to my confidence along the way. But, I know I must forge on and chase the reward. It’s all part of the race. The race is not a pushover. It’s a challenge and it’s hard, but I’m going to win my race, for I am not racing others; I am racing myself.

A most respected imagineer, Mr Randy Pausch said this of brick walls…

Quote Credit: Randy Pausch

Shopping Trip to Causeway Bay

Photo Credit: Personal Post Card

Photo Credit: Personal Post Card

Mother says to hurry fast

Keep moving don’t delay

We’re going on a shopping trip

To good old Causeway Bay

We catch a tram, then next a train

To take us into town

We can’t be late, there’s much to do

When we are underground

The subway is a scary place

To pass through on your way

I never like to stay too long

When going to Causeway Bay

We ride upon a Hong Kong tram

That is so rickety

It hurtles down the longest street

Its wheels spin, clickety

I like the tram because it’s cool

It rocks along its tracks

I like it best when up on top

Sitting alone, right up the back

At every stop more folks climb in

Until it’s full inside

And on we clatter down the track

It’s such a crazy ride

It’s not too long before we’re there

The tram slows down to stop

And all the people pay their fare

And off they go to shop

Mum grabs my hand and off we go

Keep moving don’t delay

We’re going on a shopping trip

To good old Causeway Bay

© Debbie Smith