Storytelling: The ancient art

Stories are powerful, captivating and enable us to transcend our immediate cares, albeit briefly.  I am a story junkie. I always a stack of books on the go at the one time. I am eager to hear the stories of those I meet amidst the pages, trusting them to help me further understand myself, others and the world around me.  Books are one of my great loves,  and I genuinely grieve when I close a book for the last time, feeling torn between wanting to know the end, but wanting it to go on forever.  However, some of the best stories of all are the ones that are a part of us, a part of our own history.

 

Reminiscing is one of the most beautiful forms of storytelling in my opinion.  Retelling the stories of our childhood, our school years, our courtship, our mistakes and embarrassments keep the memory, the sounds,  the smells, the emotions of these stories alive. Retelling these stories to our children is  a great gift, and one that those who have gone before us knew all too well.  Storytelling is an ancient wisdom, yet sadly, we often rely too heavily upon authors to fill the storytelling craving within us.

 

Imagination is the author of stories of every kind.  Imagination is not something we should leave behind as a distant memory of our childhood. Imagination can be our constant companion through life, enabling us to live creatively, laugh hysterically and escape reality for snippets of time. Imagination is also one of the most, if not THE most useful tool for parenting.  You would only have to eavesdrop at bedtime to hear the delight and the call for “just one more story Mummy!” to know that a story that comes experience or imagination is pure delight for a child.  I know my children will have fond memories of the characters and places I have told them of before bed.  We like to create stories where one person chooses a character, another a setting, and another an object. Simplicity at its finest, enthralling my sons.

 

Then there are the real life stories that need to be told. During a visit from my dad, I had the urge to ask a few questions about one of my grandfathers.  My Pop was an Englishman loved by all he knew.  Smiling eyes and bulging muscles, he often reminded me of Popeye.  I remember vividly walking with him, and wherever we went he was warmly greeted by people, old and young alike.  The kids used to call out to say hi to “Mr Bill!” He was a friend to all.

Pop died when I was 7 years old, so I have limited memories, but the ones I have are rich and tangible. However, without the reminiscing and the stories being retold, these memories are in danger of fading, or being lost forever.

When my dad started to tell stories of Pop, his face lit up, the room filled with laughter and we all felt it – we all felt that we touched the mischief and the ebullience that was my Pop.  There was one story in particular that I wish I could tell my own kids, but they will have to wait a few years – we don’t want them testing this one out…

Pop worked at the railway, and was getting sick and tired of his sandwiches being stolen. Going hungry day after day he decided it was time to take action and get the last laugh.  He made some special sandwiches for the lunch box bandit, and spread a layer of dog poo between his bread.  Wrapping them as usual, placing them in the usual spot, he waited for the usual suspect to take their first bite.  Old Pop never did have to worry about his lunch being stolen after that.

 

Motivated by my own childlike responses to hearing such stories, I  share some more of my childhood memories with my sons often. Their eyes fill with wonder, excitement and shock with these real life “this is what we used to get up to” stories as much (if not more) than they would with the most enthralling picture book by the most popular children’s author.

 

I want my children to catch a glimpse of me as a child – because they relate to that.  Adult stuff isn’t that interesting to them. They don’t really want to hear about the book I am reading, or that the interest rate just went up again, or that plums are on special this week.  They want to hear adventure, mischief, strife and hilarity – so let’s start telling them the stories that live in our memories, before we forget them.

 

It’s amazing how much we can remember when we start to tell the story. Keep this ancient art alive. Tell stories, everyday.

Reliving my bookworm childhood through my bookworm children

The feeling that comes over me when I catch a glimpse of a book from my childhood is almost embarrassing. I mean, I almost squeal. It’s everything in me to refrain from running around asking the people around me if they remember the book, in case they too might share the ecstasy of my find. I’ve been able to restrain these impulses to date, but one day, I will likely stumble across something that will reveal to my fellow op shoppers that I get a tad too excited over small things.
Here are some of the books I have scored from the thrift shop in recent times – I wonder if you enjoyed these too?

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The thing is, the lads don’t always share my excitement when I come home with these treasures. Some of them, they adore (like ‘Choose your own adventure’), but I am still waiting for them to catch the excitement of Encyclopedia Brown (it will happen, believe me. Watch this space).

Stories from our childhood are special. They remind us of times of imagination that ran wild, secret reading sessions when we were so quiet that perhaps we could almost be invisible. Visits to the library were a tradition for me in childhood, and I am so thrilled when I see my lads in libraries and op shops scouring book shelves for their next adventure. And sometimes my lads are almost invisible too, cloaked by the cover of a great book and an adventure on every page.

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I am here, under this pile of books and papers…

I have been somewhat MIA. University studies are proving to be more consuming than I anticpated (!!). With family and work, I have felt that my creative side starving and losing energy. I am truly grieving this and know that I must continue to pursue the creative life, keep feeding it, so that it gains strength and momentum in my life once more, despite academia, work and the everyday things that simply must be done.

So today, even though I have papers that must be done and readings that are piling higher than the sky (well, almost) I decided to enjoy the creativity that was going on around me. Matt and the lads jumped onto www.allfortheboys.com and were captivated by the Spy Week activities. I, however, felt ripped off. Here they were, doing the fun things that I have always loved to set up for them, WITHOUT MY ASSISTANCE!

This is a good thing, right?

Hmmmm…

Anyway, I had a friend ask me what I was doing tonight. I said I couldn’t play because I had to study. Then I got the guilts. I felt like a bad friend. So I contacted her and made her banana bread. She is about to arrive any minute. You see, I get obsessed with things and I forget that life is made up of MANY wonderful things – I just lose sight of them sometimes. It is hard to see (and breathe) under a pile of books, papers and highlighter pens. I get fixated, I go over and over and over sentences trying to get them “just right”. But the words of my ever wise husband ring in my ears…”You do not have the luxury of perfectionism this time. Not with a family and a job and uni.” He is right. I can do my best, but I must remember that boundaries are a good thing, they actually help me to suceed in ALL areas, rather than sacrificing some to succeed in others. Like my creativity.

So, it is here that I am reminded again that getting top grades (which, by the way, I rather like!) is not the goal of my year. The goal is to be balanced, whilst finishing my degree. I can finish it, even without a long line of High Distinctions. Credits, or even a Pass (GASP!) will still get me to the goal.

And here I was thinking that my few years of slowing things down reprogrammed my driven nature. Let’s try this again, shall we?

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Gentleman at the Library

I am sitting at the local library doing some readings for a uni assignment. But I keep thinking about the gentleman who waited for me to catch up at the doors of the library so he could open the door and usher me in this morning.

It made my heart smile, and got me thinking about how sad it is that such acts of kindness are perceived by many to be old school, unnecessary and anti-equality. Personally, I want my lads when they are elderly, to be the gentlemen waiting at the door of the library for the young woman behind him, holding the door and ushering her in. I want them to be the ones who offer the pregnant lady a seat on the bus. I want them to be the ones who use terms like, “After you” on a regular basis and help little old ladies with their groceries. Call me old fashioned, but such acts add something beautiful to our lives. If only the man who held the door open today knew what an impact his simple gesture has made on me today. Something makes me believe he’d do it regardless, because he is a gentleman.

Long live chivalry!

P.S.
To top it off, as I walked OUT of the library, and elderly lady stopped me and said, “Don’t you look nice with your top and handbag?” This got us talking about my handmade recycled bag made by my friend, and made my heart sing at the impact words and kind gestures with strangers can have. This reminded me again as to why I talk to people wherever I go. Yes, it feels strange at times, but it can really set the tone, or even better, change the tone of their day.

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Book store crush and all things vintage.

I love books. I’m compelled to look in second hand bookstores whenever I pass one. I love it when one jumps out and surprises you. The ones you don’t expect are delightful.

We found this gem in Ballarat, Victoria last week.

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Here, I was surrounded by titles from my childhood, enthralled. Books are one of my great loves in life, and now my sons share that love. I know I’m a lucky woman, when my 7 and 5 year old sons will stay in a book store, happily, for a long time. No tantrums or screams of boredom. Just pure enchantment.

Some bookstores cause you to feel like you’ve entered a new world. These are the ones that are hard to come by.

In Cygnet, Tasmania, we found our second “other world” in a week! Vintage toys for children to pass the time were a nice touch, not that my book worm bambinos need such distraction!

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Up the road, a cafe by the name of “The Red Velvet Lounge.” The coffee was great, the food delish, but the icing on the cake, the classy old school tunes that filled the air.
Matt indulged in an “Elvis Jaffle” which was filled with bacon, banana, peanut butter and jam.

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On our way home we stopped to explore a vintage warehouse. My goodness, I could settle in for an entire day uncovering all kinds of treasures! I tried on some 1960s dresses, or should I say frocks?
The boys were not as easily tamed in this environment, so guess where I will go alone later this week? Rummaging through history is my idea of fun!

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Hammock time

Lazy Sunday’s really are one of life’s great and simple pleasures. Today, the sun was shining and our new hammock beckoned me. Of course, I obliged.

I indulged in a coffee and book on the deck, in the sunshine, swinging lazily, eventually, sleepily. I didn’t even have to share with the lads, as they were too busy practicing their newfound chess knowledge.

I sit here on the couch tonight, content as can be after enjoying some of my favourite things, all bundled up in one lazy Sunday. Lucky me!

solitude
reading
coffee
sunshine
family beach walk
pear cider

What is your idea of an indulgent, lazy Sunday?

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Summer Lovin’

It has been a few months between blogs, so I will share some pics to tell the story of our summer break!

Isaac is learning guitar.

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Cafe times.

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A spontaneous trip to Melbourne. Isaac still had his head in a book! 🙂

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Hot days=ice cream. Ice cream is a full body experience for Asher!

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Fishing with friends at White Beach, the day before the fires ravaged parts of our beautiful state.

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Helping out at the Evacuation Centre after the devastating fires. What a humbling experience.

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Ten Pin Bowling.

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Cafe wisdom in Ballarat, Victoria.

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Panning for gold at Sovereign Hill, Ballarat.

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Photo story

Amidst weeks of unwell kids (flu season) we have still managed to play, laugh and create. Seasons. Go with it, I say.

Isaac won a book competition for the MS Readathon.

Asher painted my nails.

Olympic Fever hit. Lego diving platforms and Equestrian courses were constructed, as well as teddy bear pole vault. Bolt and Blake impersonations being perfected by the lads, and regularly medal tallying, just to ensure the Aussie’s made it to the top ten!

Play doh poo. Scientific research, of course. (according to Asher).

Dogs Home visit. We are thinking about adopting a dog. This is Portia, she’s adorable.

Coffee. A good book. Solitude. The rare day that both boys were well enough to go to school, I indulged.

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A-z of Gratitude: W is for Words

Words. They shape, Tear down, build up and can change the atmosphere in a room. Words can make us laugh or cause tears to well up in our eyes.
When we have our head stuck in a great book, we can become so engrossed in the written words that we are oblivious to the spoken words around us.

I love words. Books. Letters. Facebook updates that make me giggle. Friends sending crazy text messages just to make me smile. Words from a friend that come at the right moment to encourage, inspire or challenge. Small clusters of words from little mouths that hold more power in my life than the most grandiose monologue from the most acclaimed minds on the planet…”I love you, Mummy.” “I need a cuddle.” “Please, will you play with me?”

Words are free, but they are worth their weight in gold. I want mine to count. I want my words to water lives, not suck them dry. I want my words to leave a fragrance, not a stench. I want my words to propel others, not depress them. I want my children to one day shower their own children with words of love and affirmation, because that’s what their normal experience of child/parent relationship has been. I want to correct them with love and calm, rather than screeching and exasperation. Words are so powerful it blows my mind. We basically have super powers. Our words can be used for good or evil. Spiderman has webs, Superman can fly, our secret weapon… Our words. They stick, so we must be careful with our words. It can take years for the sting of words to heal. On the flip side, kind words are free yet they deposit something of great worth into a life.

My husband would say I love words a tad too much, or maybe that’s just the sound of my own words. So I shall end with words of those wiser than I…

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are endless.”
Mother Theresa

“By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.”
Sir Winston Churchill

“Kind words are like honey- sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” 
King Solomon, Proverbs 16:24