Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The 1947 Club

I like online reading challenges because they are often so bizarre and arbitrary that they encourage me to read something I normally would never consider, or that I have a long way down my "Must Read" list.

I have already signed up for the 1924 Club, but then I noticed that, the week before, they are running the 1947 Club. How could I resist?

So basically, to take part in this challenge you have to read in the set period (10-16 October) one or more books written in 1947. My first instinct was to go to Nancy Mitford, but the book she published in 1947 was The Pursuit of Love, and I have already read that twice this year. It would be cheating to do it the third time, and besides, despite my great love for that book I don't really feel like reading it again just now.

So I checked Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings and one of the books suggested over there was Elizabeth Taylor's A View of the Harbour, so I am taking the opportunity to finally read Elizabeth Taylor. I have also decided to read Evelyn Waugh's obscure novella Scott-King's Modern Europe. In fact, until I googled "Evelyn Waugh 1947" I hadn't even heard of it.

So won't you join me?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A successful talk about Cecil Beaton at Ashfield Library

Photo by Thang Ngo

I did one of my Saturday illustrated lectures at Ashfield Library yesterday and it went swimmingly.

The subject was the fabulous and glamorous Cecil Beaton.

Cecil Beaton and Alice B. Toklas

Good numbers, which was encouraging. I spent some money, for the first time, on doing a sponsored post on Facebook, and I think this made a difference - more of my friends came than usual, I am sure because they had noticed the post. Not sure it had any impact in bringing in new faces, though, but there were certainly plenty there.

I was happy to note quite a few people who usually only go to weekday sessions coming along to a Saturday morning talk, so that was good.

The celebrity-studded audience included Women's Weekly astrologer Jessica Adams, Lindfield Bookshop owner Scott Whitmont, lecturer and literary historian Joanna Penglase and writer and guru Maggie Hamilton.

The talk went seamlessly, except for one slip-up where I showed a slide and said it was Greta Garbo when it was in fact Katharine Hepburn. Embarrassing :-) But they were a forgiving crowd, and I soon got over that little slip up.

These talks take  up a lot of time and requires hours and hours of reading a research, so I am glad that people come along and enjoy them. These kinds of activities are an increasingly important part of the public service that libraries offer their communities, but they can only continue if people actually support them. To see so many there yesterday was heartening indeed. The program at Ashfield Library is particularly good, rich and varied - do check it out, and do schedule in all of the amazing talks and activities you can.

On that note, here are some of my upcoming activities at Ashfield Library:

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Doing the meaningful things first

Sometimes we don’t get around to doing our creative work.

We get busy doing all the things that need to be done and before you know it it’s 3 in the afternoon and we are too tired or have a headache or think we might be more creative tomorrow.

It’s never going to happen if you do it that way. Let's face it, you’ve tried it, and it didn’t work.

Instead, make a small commitment to do something creative every day, and do your small creative commitment first thing. I know some people who even do it before breakfast, but I need food and caffeine too much for that. But you do need to move your creative expression right up the list, right to the very top. Then things will start happening.

Be aware of how you’re spending your time and who you are spending it with. Create your days with some intention – don’t let them drift by in chores and distractions.

Let’s answer these questions:

What did you learn to do better this year?

What activities have been taking up more of your time than you would like?

Do you have enough time for the people you love?

Are there any things you’d like to be doing that you don’t do?

Is there any way you could make faster progress in doing the things you’d like to be doing? 

These questions come from p. 9 of David Riklan’s excellent book 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

40 days of journal writing....

Yep, that's it.

I am making a pledge to journal every morning for 40 consecutive days, and I will chart my progress on here. Of course, I journal 4 or 5 times a week as it is, but I want to explore this as a creative and spiritual discipline and see where it might take me.

We need to create a habit of journal writing.

I would invite you to join me, from today, in your own 40-day challenge of journal writing.

The best thing about a challenge is that, if the well really is dry, we can write about that very sense of not knowing what to do.

But in our creative life there is always something to write about – some challenge, some question, some joy, some realisation.

If we are on the creative path, every day offers a new insight – at the very least a sentence we can write.

Even if we did a sentence a day – what a fascinating 40 sentences that would be!

But I would urge you to consider 40 days, 5 minutes a day, simply asking the page: what do I need to know right now?

There is no right or wrong answer!

Sometimes our creative spirit is expressed in the quotidian. Perhaps the very best and most powerfully creative thing you could do that day is the ironing – it’s been piling up for days.
But write about how you feel – what were your thoughts during the ironing? How might we have made it a creative task? Or perhaps it already was?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Journal Your Challenges - an exercise

Sometimes our challenges really build up and begin to suffocate us.
And sometimes we are not in a position to share these worries with other people. Sometimes sharing them with others is not the right thing to do.
But we can always share them with our journal.


Write down a  few sentences about a challenge you are currently facing in your life.

Write down the principal emotions that challenge evokes in you.

Can you turn this challenge into a question? Or is there some specific element you need to work out? Write it down.

Now lets sit together in meditation for a few minutes, our eyes closed, asking ourselves that question, looking for answers. But please just stay in meditation – no writing anything down.

Keep asking yourself that question, over and over. It is your mantra, your koan.

Now write down any responses or answers you received. They don’t have to make sense. They don’t have to be the perfect answer, or any answer at all. Just write down what came to you as you sat with that question.

Any insights?

Were you prompted to take some action?

I want you to review the observations that come to you during this process. What doesn’t make sense today may be perfectly clear in two days time.

These responses have come from somewhere deep inside you – or perhaps outside of you.

Either way, this is a process that makes you realise that your journal is an invaluable practical friend. And it will never get bored with your silly questions – and it cant be hurt by your doubts or annoyed by your anxieties.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

MONDAY, 8th February 2016 at 7.30pm - Walter Mason will lecture on Om Mani Padme Hum & the Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan



MONDAY, 8th February 2016 at 7.30pm at the Academy of Light

Walter Mason

Walter Mason

Om Mani Padme Hum & the Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan

Walter has recently returned from the remote and mysterious Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. In this tiny Buddhist nation almost everyone is devoted to the practise of the mantra of “Om Mani Padme Hum,” and believe it brings them good health, luck, enlightenment and peace of mind.
In this talk Walter will discuss the practise and meaning of this mantra, and how we can incorporate it into our own lives. We will also explore the crazy wisdom of their beloved sage Drukpa Kunley, devotion to the Medicine Buddha and some of the other fascinating elements of the spiritual lives of the Bhutanese.

Where : Mosman Arts & Community Centre, Cnr of Art Gallery Way and Myahgah Road. When: Monday Nights 7.30pm – 9.30pm Entry : $15.00, Concession $10.00 Finish time is 9.30pm