Jan 27

Dear Daughter Starting High School…

IMG_1743Two years ago, I became a high school mum for the first time when my older son started Year 7.  At the time, I wrote this letter to him, published at Happy Child.

This year, my daughter starts her high school journey. Like my son, she is moving to a high school where she knows no other students. She will enter into a grade of 180 boys and girls with only a couple of faces familiar from orientation days and information sessions.

At times I think my daughter is far better equipped to deal with the challenges of everyday life than I am, but I still want to send her off into this new adventure with some words of encouragement and advice. I have adapted the letter I wrote for my son, as it still represents what I want to share with my children as they move into this next life stage.

 

Dear Daughter,

First and foremost, I want to tell you how overwhelmingly proud I am of all that you are. You bless me every day with your wonderful sense of humour, your gorgeous smile, your quick wit, inquiring mind, warmth and amazing creativity.

In some ways, it seems incredible to me that you are here, on the threshold of high school and teenage years. The last (almost) thirteen years have passed so quickly. In other ways, it makes sense to me that you are moving into this next stage. I know that you are ready for more challenges, more independence, more opportunities to make decisions and carve your own path. I am excited for you and look forward to seeing what is ahead but I know that you will have moments of doubt and uncertainty, so I want you to remember these things:

You are more than the marks you achieve in tests and assessments.
You are an intelligent girl who works hard and shows an amazing willingness to give your best to every task you complete, but you are so much more than the marks on your test papers, which only measure one aspect of who you are. You have gifts and abilities that will never translate into a grade or assignment mark, yet they are a very real indication of the woman you will become one day. You are creative, compassionate, kind, gentle, insightful, wise and funny. Your test results show what you can do, but your character is who you are.

You are not alone.
Teenage years, and high school in particular, can sometimes leave you feeling isolated and disconnected, but even if you feel alone, you aren’t. You are surrounded by friends and family who love you. We’re a bit dorky at times and not always as funny as we think we are. We miss the point, misunderstand and make mistakes, but we will always have your back and be willing to hold your hand, both literally and figuratively. Always.

And when you look at others who seem so happy and connected and carefree, remember that some of them are looking at you, wondering how you can be so happy, connected and carefree when they are feeling isolated and discouraged. I was astounded to discover at my high school reunion that many of the ‘popular’ kids struggled with the same feelings of being an outsider and not fitting in that I did at school. Your friends and classmates are working through the same issues you are, even if it doesn’t look like it from the outside.

I understand.
I know that I seem hopelessly old and outdated. I don’t know about the ‘cool’ music, fashion or words (see, I still think it’s okay to call things ‘cool’). Believe it or not, I was young once and I do remember what it was like. My parents’ rules frustrated me; I felt both annoyed at the childish limitations they imposed and nervous about my new freedoms. I worried about physical changes, struggled with new emotions and rode the same hormone rollercoaster that you will.

I remember and I understand.

Cherish good friends.
I know that you’re sad about leaving so many friends behind as you change schools. I know their friendship and your shared memories are special to you. For some of these friends, taking a step away will make your friendship stronger. You will have new things to talk about, new ideas to share and your time together will seem more special because it takes some effort. Sadly, for some of these friends the time apart will change things in a less positive way, but this may well have happened anyway. The coming years will bring lots of changes, in you and your friends. You would naturally move in different directions even if you stayed at the same school and that’s okay. Your memories of these friendships will still be precious.

You’ll make lots of new friends at high school. Some will be friends for a few weeks or a term, some for a year, others for longer. People will let you down sometimes, you’ll misjudge some people and you’ll be disappointed by others, but at the end of the day, the true friends will stll be with you and the trials you’ve gone through with others will be worth the treasure you discover in those few who remain. I’m still friends with someone I met on my first day of Year 7. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

You get to choose.
You can’t opt out of writing essays and assignments in subjects that don’t interest you (sorry about that), but when it comes to what you say, wear, eat and do, who you hang around with and who you allow to influence your actions and your thoughts, you get to choose. You have such a wonderful sense of style and confidence in what makes you happy. Don’t let others undermine that because of their own insecurities, jealousy and other issues. Don’t let anyone make you feel that you are powerless. You aren’t. Ever.

Reach for the stars, but keep your feet on the ground.
The next six years will be amazing. Embrace the opportunities that come your way. Try new things, meet new people, think new thoughts.

Know that you can achieve amazing things. While you reach for the stars, we’ll be here cheering you on, keeping you connected for those times when you need to temporarily backtrack so that you can follow a different path.

Mistakes are okay.
In fact, they’re kind of inevitable. Everyone makes them, even parents and teachers. (Don’t tell anyone, but I might even make a mistake or two myself occasionally.) Your friends will make them and so will you. Learn from them and then move on. No-one expects you to be perfect. We love you exactly the way you are.

Everyone changes at a different pace.
It’s really hard to not compare yourself physically with the other girls, but no-one can control when hormones will kick in. You will grow and develop at the time that is right for you. Girls who are comfortable with themselves no matter what stage they are at will always be happier, whether they are tall, short, busty, sporty, slender, or curvy, whether they shave or wax their legs, fuss with their hair and makeup or would sooner poke their eye out with a sharp stick than use an eyelash curler.

Society’s definition of beauty keeps changing. Comparing yourself to photoshopped images and chasing ever changing social ‘standards’ regarding your appearance cannot make you happy. You ARE beautiful and unique. Don’t wear yourself out trying to achieve impossible appearance goals. Set your own standards and encourage your friends to do the same.

Summary for a busy pre-teen.
I love you, I believe in you and I’m proud of you. Work hard, have fun, enjoy the moment. Cherish the good times, learn from the tough times and continue to be the amazing person you already are.

Love Mum xx

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Jan 26

My Australian Author Reading List

IMG_9034For a country with a small population, relatively speaking, Australia has a rich and diverse literary heritage. From picture books to literary fiction and everything in between, Australian authors take their place as some of the best in the world.

Below is a list of Australian authors whose books cover a range of genres – picture books, junior and middle fiction, YA, contemporary fiction, romance, memoir, chick lit, classic novels, thriller and more. I’m aiming to read at least one book by each author on the list and I’m hoping this list will inspire me to read more Australian authors across a range of styles and genres.

If you are interested in focusing on Indigenous Australian authors specifically, I have shared Anita Heiss’ two Black Book Lists here on Reading Upside Down (or you can find them on Anita’s blog here and here). You can also visit the Black Words section of the Aust Lit website if you are keen to find our more about Indigenous authors.

I have listed authors alphabetically by surname. I will list book titles as I read them, including books I have read prior to this date. I will note in brackets if I have written reviews either here at Reading Upside Down or at Kids’ Book Review.

This list is a work in progress. I’d love to hear your suggestions for further authors  to include, so please leave a comment below.

 

  1. Abdel-Fattah, Randa
  2. Adams, Glenda
  3. Alexander, Nicole
  4. Alexandra, Belinda
  5. Allen, Pamela – Alexander’s Outing; Belinda; The Potato People; Brown Bread and Honey
  6. Anderson, Jessica
  7. Apel, Kathryn – This is the Mud
  8. Arthur, Keri
  9. Astley, Thea
  10. Baker, Jeannie – Window; Mirror (KBR); Belonging;
  11. Bancroft, Bronwyn – Remembering Lionsville (KBR)
  12. Base, Graeme – Animalia
  13. Baxter, Carol – Breaking the Bank
  14. Bell, Johanna – Too Many Cheeky Dogs (KBR)
  15. Betts, A J – Zac & Mia (KBR)
  16. Blacklock, Dianne – Wife for Hire
  17. Birmingham, John
  18. Bland, Nick – The Magnificent Tree
  19. Bowe, Steph – Girl Saves Boy (KBR)
  20. Bowen, Victoria – War’s End
  21. Brooks, Geraldine
  22. Brugman, Alyssa
  23. Byrski, Liz
  24. Carey, Gabrielle
  25. Carey, Peter
  26. Carmody, Isobelle
  27. Carnavas, Peter – The Children Who Loved Books; Jessica’s Box
  28. Clarke, Marcus – For the Term of His Natural Life
  29. Clarke, Sherryl – Runaways (KBR)
  30. Clement, Rod
  31. Collum, Karen – Samuel’s Kisses
  32. Courtenay, Bryce – The Power of One; Tandia
  33. Cox, David – The Fair Dinkum War
  34. Crew, Gary – Memorial
  35. Crowley, Cath
  36. Cusworth, Fran – Hopetoun Wives
  37. Davis, Tony
  38. Delaney, Kaz – Dead, Actually (KBR); Almost Dead
  39. Dennis, C J – A Book for Kids; The Sentimental Bloke
  40. Divaroren, Demet
  41. Do, Ahn
  42. Douglass, Sara
  43. Dubosarsky, Ursula
  44. Duncan, Susan
  45. Dunstan, Kylie – Same, but little bit diff’rent (KBR)
  46. Earls, Nick – The Curious Dictionary
  47. Facey, A B
  48. Falconer, Delia
  49. Fedler, Joanne – The Reunion
  50. Fitzsimons, Peter
  51. Flanagan, John
  52. Flanagan, Richard
  53. Fogorty, Renee – Fair Skin Black Fella
  54. Ford, Jaye
  55. Foster, Sara – Shallow Breath
  56. Fox, Mem – Where is the Green Sheep?; Possum Magic;
  57. Franklin, Miles
  58. French, Jackie – Diary of a Wombat; A Rose for the Anzac Boys; Shaggy Gully Times; The Night They Stormed Eureka
  59. Funder, Anna
  60. Garner, Helen
  61. Gemmell, Nikki – The Bride Stripped Bare; The Kensington Reptilarium
  62. Germein, Katrina – Big Rain Coming; My Dad Thinks He’s Funny; Little Dog
  63. Gibbs, May
  64. Gleitzman, Morris
  65. Goldsworthy, Peter
  66. Graham, Bob
  67. Greenwood, Kerry
  68. Grenville, Kate
  69. Griffiths, Andy
  70. Gunn, Jeannie/Aeneas – We of the Never Never
  71. Gwynne, Phillip
  72. Hardy, Frank – Power without Glory
  73. Harmer, Wendy – I Lost My Mobile at the Mall; I Made Lattes for a Love God
  74. Hartnett, Sonya
  75. Harvey, Roland – Everything We Ever Saw (KBR)
  76. Hawke, Rosanne – The Messenger Bird (KBR)
  77. Heidke, Lisa
  78. Hein, Cathryn
  79. Heiss, Anita – The Diary of Mary Talence (KBR); Manhattan Dreaming; Paris Dreaming
  80. Herbert, Xavier
  81. Hill, Anthony – Captain Cook’s Apprentice
  82. Hill, Loretta
  83. Hooper, Chloe – The Tall Man
  84. Howell, Katherine
  85. Hunter, Kate – The Parfizz Pitch
  86. James, Rebecca – Sweet Damage
  87. James, Wendy – The Steele Diaries
  88. Janke, Terri – Buttlerfly Song
  89. Jeffrey, Belinda – One Long Thread (KBR)
  90. Jennings, Paul
  91. Johns, Rachel
  92. Johnston, George
  93. Jones, Gail
  94. Kelly
  95. Keneally, Thomas
  96. Kent, Hannah
  97. King, Stephen Michael – Never Ever Before; Bella’s Bad Hair Day
  98. Klein, Robin
  99. Koch, Christopher
  100. Kostakis, Will - The First Third (KBR); Loathing Lola
  101. Kruszelnicki, Dr Karl
  102. Kwaymullina, Ambelin – The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (KBR); The Disappearance of Ember Crow
  103. Kwaymullina, Ezekiel
  104. Ladd, Kylie – Last Summer
  105. Lanagan, Margo
  106. Lane, Karly
  107. Lawson, Henry
  108. Lawson, Sue
  109. Le, Nam
  110. Ledson, Kathryn – Rough Diamond
  111. Leffler, Dub
  112. Lester, Alison – Are We There Yet?; Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo;
  113. Lette, Kathy – Puberty Blues
  114. Lindsay, Joan – Picnic at Hanging Rock
  115. Lindsay, Norman – The Magic Pudding
  116. Lord, Gabrielle
  117. Lucashenko, Melissa
  118. McCallum, Fiona
  119. McCartney, Tania – An Aussie Year (KBR); Beijing Tai Tai
  120. McCullough, Colleen – Tim; The Ladies of Missalonghi
  121. McDonald, Fleur
  122. McGahan, Andrew
  123. McInerney, Monica
  124. McInnes, William
  125. McKenna, Ebony
  126. McKinlay, Meg
  127. McMullin, Neridah – Kick it to Me (KBR)
  128. Magro, Mandy
  129. Malouf, David
  130. Marchetta, Melina – Looking for Alibrandi
  131. Marsden, John
  132. Marshall, Alan
  133. Matthews, Penny – Show Day (KBR)
  134. Miller, Alex
  135. Modjeska, Drusilla
  136. Morgan, Christopher – Currawalli Street
  137. Morgan, Sally – The Last Dance (KBR)
  138. Moriarty, Jaclyn – Finding Cassie Crazy
  139. Moriarty, Liane
  140. Morphew, Chris – The Phoenix Files series
  141. Morrissey, Di
  142. Morton, Kate – The Forgotten Garden
  143. Moss, Tara
  144. Mulligan, David – Heroes of Tobruk
  145. Murphy, Sally – Toppling; Pearl Verses the World
  146. Murrell, Belinda – The Forgotten Pearl (KBR); The River Charm (KBR)
  147. Musgrove, Marianne
  148. Nicholas, Caitlyn
  149. Niland, Darcy
  150. Nix, Garth
  151. Nunn, Judy
  152. Odgers, Sally – Rainforest Lullaby
  153. Oliver, Narelle
  154. O’Reilly, Benison Anne – Happily Ever After?
  155. Orr, Wendy
  156. Osborn, Margareta
  157. Overington, Caroline – I Came To Say Goodbye
  158. Pajalic, Amra
  159. Palmer, Fiona
  160. Park, Ruth
  161. Parry, Bronwyn
  162. Pascoe, Bruce – Fog a Dox (KBR)
  163. Paterson, A B (Banjo)
  164. Phelan, James
  165. Pryor, Boori Monty
  166. Reeder, Stephanie Owen – Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea (KBR)
  167. Reilly, Matthew
  168. Reynolds, Alison – The Littlest Bushranger
  169. Richardson, Henry Handel
  170. Riddle, Tohby – The Singing Hat; The Royal Guest
  171. Robotham, Michael
  172. Rogers, Gregory – The Boy, the Bear, the Baron and the Bard (KBR)
  173. Rudd, Jessica – Campaign Ruby; Ruby Blues
  174. Safran, John
  175. Shute, Neville
  176. Silvey, Craig – Jasper Jones; The Amber Amulet
  177. Simsion, Graeme – The Rosie Project
  178. Sparrow, Rebecca
  179. Stead, Christina
  180. Stedman, M L
  181. Stewart, Lolla – Savannah Dreams
  182. Tan, Shaun – The Lost Thing
  183. Temple, Peter
  184. Thiele, Colin
  185. Toltz, Steve
  186. Tozer, Gabrielle – The Intern
  187. Treasure, Rachael
  188. Tsiolkas, Christos
  189. Turner, Ethel – Seven Little Australians
  190. Wagner, Jenny – John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat
  191. Wakefield, Vikki
  192. Walker, Anna – Peggy (KBR)
  193. Wall, Dorothy – The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill
  194. Wallace, Adam
  195. Wang, Gabrielle – Little Paradise
  196. West, Morris – The Clowns of God
  197. Wheatley, Nadia – My Place (KBR)
  198. White, Dee – Letters to Leonardo
  199. White, Patrick – The Twyborn Affair
  200. Wild, Margaret – On the Day you were Born (KBR)
  201. Williams, Sean
  202. Winton, Tim – Breath; Dirt Music; Cloudstreet
  203. Wood, Charlotte – Love & Hunger
  204. Wood, Fiona – Wildlife (KBR)
  205. Young, Felicity
  206. Young, Helene
  207. Zorn, Claire
  208. Zusak, Markus
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Jan 15

Review: The Tulip Eaters

the tulip eatersI have a definite leaning towards historical fiction and particularly enjoy stories with a European historical context of some sort. I also have an interest in holocaust fiction and non-fiction, so when I read the back-cover blurb for The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten, which includes information about the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War 2, I added the book to my Christmas wish list.

Young paediatric surgeon Nora de Jong returns home from work one day to a nightmare scene. Her mother has been murdered, there is an unknown man lying dead on the floor next to her and Nora’s six-month-old baby daughter, Rose, is missing.

Nora’s attempts to find her daughter take her from her home in Houston, Texas to the streets of Amsterdam and into the surprising history of her family. Nora must unravel the mysteries of her parents’ past and reveal some secrets of her own if she is to have any hope of finding her daughter.

I was anticipating a suspense-filled contemporary fiction novel with some interesting historical elements. The historical aspects of the story were really quite fascinating, particularly has I haven’t read much about the Dutch occupation during World War II. I enjoyed the Dutch cultural and historical references and felt quite stirred by the plight of the Jews in the Netherlands during the war and afterwards.

I was particularly moved by the impact of Nazism and the concentration camps on the families central to the story. Two of the characters in particular were a stark reminder that not all holocaust survivors were able to pull their lives together after their experiences. The bitterness, anger, and resentment of these characters served as a reminder that the horrific impact of the camps did not end when the gates were closed.

I was disappointed that the suspense elements of the story weren’t as engaging as the historical aspects. There were several character and plot inconsistencies that were quite distracting and as a reader I was aware of most of the major plot points early in the novel. It was simply a matter of reading along as Nora discovered them for herself and pieced together the puzzle, assisted by a series of rather convenient coincidences.

Largely because of the historical and cultural references, I did find The Tulip Eaters an interesting read. It stirred my interest once again in this period of world history and in European culture.

 

Book Details

Title: The Tulip Eaters

Author: Antoinette van Heugten

Publisher: Harlequin Mira, $29.99 RRP

Published: November 2013

ISBN: 9781743564646

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Jan 14

Anita’s Black Book Challenge #1 and #2

macquarie PEN anthology of aboriginal literatureIn 2011, in response to a BBC book list, Australian author Anita Heiss compiled her own BBC book list – a Black Book Challenge with titles by 99 Indigenous Australian authors across a range of genres. In 2013, Anita published a second Black Book Challenge list with an additional 99 titles. You can go directly to Anita’s lists by clicking on the links.

I have combined both of these lists below, as a way of keeping track of how many of these books I have read (sadly, nowhere near as many as I should have) and to hopefully inspire me to actively seek out books by Indigenous Australian authors. I hope that you will find the list equally useful and inspiring. I will mark the titles of books I have read in bold and will include links to any reviews I write at Reading Upside Down (RUD) and Kids’ Book Review (KBR).

 

  1. A Bastard Like Me, Charles Perkins
  2. A Handful of Sand: words to the frontline, Southerly, Vol. 71, Number 2, 2011, edited by Ali Cobby Eckermann and Lionel Fogarty (anthology)
  3. Aborigines and the ‘Sport of Kings’: Aboriginal Jockeys in Australian Racing History by John Maynard (biography)
  4. Across Country: stories from Aboriginal Australia (anthology)
  5. Alfie’s Search for Destiny by David Hardy (children) (KBR)
  6. All My Mob by Ruby Langford Ginibi  (memoir)
  7. Alone in the Soaks by Alec Kruger (biography)
  8. Anonymous Premonition, Yvette Holt
  9. Aunty Rita, Rita and Jackie Huggins
  10. Bakir and Bi by Written by Jillian Boyd / Illustrated by Tori Jay Mordey (children’s)
  11. Because a White Man’ll Never Do It by Kevin Gilbert (non-fiction)
  12. Benang, Kim Scott
  13. Bitin’ Back, Vivienne Cleven
  14. Black Lives Rainbow Visions: Indigenous Sitings in the Creative Arts, edited by Jennifer A Martiniello  (anthology)
  15. Black Medea, Wesley Enoch
  16. Black Woman, Black Life, Kerry Reed-Gilbert
  17. Blood by Tony Birch  (novel)
  18. Blue Grass, Peter Minter
  19. Born a half-caste, Marnie Kennedy
  20. Bran Nue Dae, Jimmy Chi
  21. Bridge of Triangles, John Muk Muk Burke
  22. Broken Dreams, Bill Dodd
  23. Bubbay: A Christmas Adventure, by Josie Boyle, illustrated by Fern Martins (children’s)
  24. Bush games and knucklebones, Doris Kartinyeri
  25. Busted Out Laughing, Dot Collard and Beryl Harp
  26. Butterfly Song, Terri Janke
  27. Carpentaria, Alexis Wright
  28. Conned! by Eve Fesl (non-fiction)
  29. Contemporary Indigenous Plays published by Currency Press. (drama)
  30. Dallas Davis by Jared Thomas (YA)
  31. Deadly D and Justice Jones: Making the Team by Dave Hartley and Scott Prince (children’s fiction)
  32. Deadly Readers   (infants)
  33. Delusions of Grandeur by Joan Eatock (memoir)
  34. Demon Guards the School Yard by Anita Heiss and the students from La Perouse Public School (YA)
  35. Digger J Jones, Richard Frankland
  36. Dingo’s Tree by Gladys Milroy, Illustrated by Jill Milroy (children’s)
  37. Dreaming in Urban Areas, Lisa Bellear
  38. Don’t take your love to town, Ruby Langford Ginibi
  39. Down the hole, Edna Tantjingu Williams and Eileen Wani Wingfield illustrated by Kunyi June-Anne McInerney
  40. Down River: the Wilcannia Mob Story
  41. Empty Texas by Peter Minter (poetry)
  42. Enora and the Black Crane by Arone Raymond Meeks (children’s)
  43. Etchings: Indigenous Black and Sexy, Janelle Moran, Coral Reeve, Christine Ward (eds)
  44. Every Secret Thing, Marie Mankara
  45. Fantome Island by Kathy Gibson and Jack Bell  (history)
  46. Fair Skin Black Fella by Renee Fogarty (children’s)
  47. Fog a Dox, Bruce Pascoe (YA) (KBR)
  48. Follow the rabbit proof fence, Doris Pilkington
  49. Forcibly Removed, Albert Holt
  50. Fresh Cuttings   (anthology)
  51. From Our Hearts: an anthology of new Aboriginal writing from southwest Western Australia (anthology)
  52. Full Circle, Edie Wright
  53. Funerals and Circuses by Roger Bennet (drama)
  54. Good Morning Mr. Sarra by Chris Sarra  (memoir)
  55. Grace Beside Me by Sue McPherson  (fiction)
  56. Grease and Ochre, Patsy Cameron
  57. Her Sister’s Eye by Vivienne Cleven (fiction)
  58. Hey Mum, What’s a half-caste? Lorraine McGee-Sippel
  59. Holding Up The Sky – Aboriginal Women Speak
  60. Holocaust Island, Graeme Dixon
  61. Home by Larissa Behrendt  (fiction)
  62. How Does Your Garden Grow? By Lachlan Coman and Tjuntjuntjara Community School (poetry)
  63. I Don’t Wanna Play House, Tammy Anderson
  64. If Everyone Cared, Margaret Tucker
  65. I’m the one who knows this country, Jessie Lennon
  66. Indigenous Australian Voices: A reader, Sabbioni, Jennifer; Schaffer, Kay & Smith, Sidionie.
  67. Is that you, Ruthie? Ruth Hegarty
  68. Itinerant Blues by Samuel Wagan Watson  (poetry)
  69. Jali Boy by Ricky Macourt (YA)
  70. Jalygurr : Aussie Animal Rhymes : Poems for Kids, Pat Torres
  71. Jindah Murray Wind Dancer by Fiona Wirrer George  (YA)
  72. Jinangga, Monty Walgar
  73. Just Like That and other poems by Charmaine Papertalk-Green (poetry)
  74. Just the Skin You’re Living In by Gayle Kennedy and Ross Carnsew  (YA)
  75. Kakadu Man, Bill Neidjie
  76. Karobran, Monica Clare
  77. Kin Island by Jaiki Pitt and Terri Janke (YA)
  78. Kings with Empty Pockets by Herb Wharton (autobiography and poetry)
  79. Learning the Ropes: The life story of a ‘King of Knockouts’ by Keith Saunders  (memoir)
  80. Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines, David Unaipon
  81. Life B’long Ali Drummond: a life in the Torres Strait, Samantha Faulkner with Ali Drummond
  82. Life, Love and Pain: an anthology of poems written by Stolen Generations Link Up (NSW) edited by Joy Williams
  83. Listen to the Old People: Aboriginal Oral Histories of the Pilbara Region of Western Australia (anthology)
  84. Little Bit Long Time, Ali Cobby Eckermann
  85. Little Platypus and the Fire Spirit, Mundara Koodang
  86. Long Time Now: stories of the Dreamtime, the here and now, Alf Taylor
  87. Looking for Bullin Bullin, Brenda Saunders (poetry)
  88. Love Against the Law, Tex and Nelly Camfoo
  89. Love Dreaming and Other Poems, Ali Cobby Eckermann (poetry)
  90. Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature, Heiss and Minters (eds)
  91. Mamang Kim Scott, Iris Woods, Jeffrey Farmer (illustrator), Helen Nelly (illustrator), Roma Winmar (illustrator) picture book
  92. Many Lifetimes, Audrey Evans
  93. Maralinga – The Anangu Story
  94. Marngrook Review: Marngrook the long-ago story of Aussie Rules By Titta Secombe / Illustrated by Grace Fielding  (children’s)
  95. Mazin Grace by Dylan Coleman (fiction)
  96. Maybe Tomorrow, Boori Monty Pryor
  97. Me, Antman and Fleebag, Gayle Kennedy
  98. Meanjin: Blak Times: Indigenous Australia, Minter, Peter (ed)
  99. Mickey O: Determination. Hard work. And a little bit of magic. by Michael O’Loughlin with Jim Main.  (memoir)
  100. Mogwie-Idan: Stories of the Land, Lionel Fogarty (poetry)
  101. Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko (fiction)
  102. My Bundjulung People by Ruby Langford Ginibi
  103. My Home Broome, by Tamzin Richardson and illustrated by Bronwyn Houston (children’s)
  104. My Past, their future: stories from Cape Barren Island, Molly Mallett
  105. My Place, Sally Morgan
  106. My Worimi Lovesong Dreaming by Norm Newlin (poetry)
  107. Nanna’s Land, Delphine Sarago-Kendron
  108. New and Selected Poems : Munaldjali, Mutuerjaraera, Lionel Fogarty
  109. Ngalga Mathematics by Stephen Hagan (YA)
  110. Njunjul the Sun by Boori Monty Pryor and Meme McDonald (YA)
  111. No Sugar by Jack Davis (drama)
  112. Noongar Mambara Bakitj by Kim Scott, Lomas Roberts, Geoffrey Woods (illustrator) (picture book)
  113. Not Quite Men, No Longer Boys, Kenny Laughton
  114. Once There Was A Boy, Dub Leffler (children’s)
  115. Ora Nui: Special Edition: A collection of Maori and Aboriginal Literature, edited by Anton Blank  and Kerry Reed-Gilbert (anthology)
  116. Our Stories are Our Survival by Lawrence Bamblett  (history)
  117. Paperbark: a collection of Black Australian writing  (anthology)
  118. Papunya School Book of Country and History
  119. Paint Me Black by Claire Henty-Gebert  (memoir)
  120. Pemulwuy: the rainbow warrior, Eric Wilmott
  121. Plains of Promise by Alexis Wright (fiction)
  122. Post me to the Prime Minister, Romaine Moreton
  123. Pride and Prejudice, Ida West
  124. Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane  (Fiction)
  125. Rain Flower, Mary Duroux
  126. Rise of the Fallen by Teagan Chilcott (fiction)
  127. Ruby Moonlight by Ali Cobby Eckermann (verse novel)
  128. Shadow Lines, Stephen Kinnane
  129. Shake-A-Leg by Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod
  130. Shark, Bruce Pascoe
  131. Singer Songwriter by Alf Taylor (poetry)
  132. Sister Girl by Jackie Huggins (essays)
  133. Skin Painting, Elizabeth Hodgson
  134. Skins: Contemporary Indigenous Writing, Akiwenzie-Damm, Kateri and Douglas, Josie
  135. Smoke Encrypted Whispers, Samuel Wagan Watson
  136. SOLID ROCK Puli Kunpunka (Sacred Ground)  by Shane Howard,  Pitjantjatjara translation by Ruby James and Trevor Adamson, Illustrated by kids from Mutitjulu, Kaltukatjara and Imanpa with paintings by Peter Hudson  (children’s)
  137. Songman : The Story of an Aboriginal Elder of Uluru, Bob Randall
  138. Spinifex Mouse by Norma MacDonald  (children’s)
  139. Staircase to the Moon by Bronwyn Houston, Bronwyn Houston (illustrator) (picture book)
  140. Stolen, Jane Harrison
  141. Stolen Girl byTrina Saffioti, Norma MacDonald (illustrator) (picture books)
  142. Stradbroke Dreamtime by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (life story / children’s dreaming)
  143. Swallow the Air, Tara June Winch
  144. Sweet Guy, Jared Thomas
  145. Sweet Water, Stolen Land, Philip McLaren
  146. Talking About Celia, Jeanie Bell
  147. Talking About Country by Kerry Reed-Gilbert  (poetry)
  148. Talkin’ Up to the White Woman by Aileen Moreton Robinson (non-fiction)
  149. Tell me why, Sarah Jackson
  150. Ten Hail Mary’s by Kate Howarth (memoir)
  151. The Aboriginal Soccer Tribe by John Maynard (non-fiction)
  152. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy: Sovereignty, Black Power, Land Rights and the State, edited by Gary Foley,  Andrew Schaap and Edwina Howell  (history)
  153. The Boundary by Nicole Watson (fiction)
  154. The Cake Man, Robert Merritt
  155. The Callused Stick of Wanting by Romaine Moreton (poetry)
  156. The Chainsaw File by Bruce Pascoe (YA)
  157. The Cherry Pickers, Kevin Gilbert
  158. The Cowboy Frog, Hylton Laurel
  159. The Dreamers, Jack Davis
  160. The Grumpy Lighthouse Keeper by Terrizita Corpus Illustrated by Maggie Prewett  (children’s)
  161. The Imprint of Infinity, Jennifer Martiniello
  162. The Kadaitcha Sung, Sam Watson
  163. The Legend of the Seven Sisters, a traditional Aboriginal Story from Western Australia, May O’Brien and Sue Wyatt
  164. The Little Corroboree Frog by Tracey Holton-Ramirez / Illustrated by Angela Ramirez  (children’s)
  165. The Little Red Yellow Black Book: An introduction to Indigenous Australia (Third Edition) by Bruce Pascoe with AIATSIS  (cultural studies)
  166. The N Word, Stephen Hagan
  167. The Old Frangipani Tree at Flying Fish Point, Trina Saffioti
  168. The Strength of Us As Women: black women speak edited by Kerry Reed-Gilbert (anthology)
  169. The Mark of the Wagarl By Lorna Little / Illustrated by Janice Lyndon (children’s)
  170. The Swan Book by Alexis Wright  (fiction)
  171. This country anytime anywhere (anthology)
  172. This is my word, Magdeleine Williams
  173. Those Who Remain Will Always Remember: An Anthology of Aboriginal Writing, Brewster, Anne; van den Berg, Rosemary and O’Neill, Angeline (eds.)
  174. Through My Eyes, Ella Simon
  175. Too Afraid to Cry by Ali Cobby Eckermann (autobiography)
  176. Too Flash, Melissa Lucashenko
  177. Traditional Healers of Central Australia: Ngangkari Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjar Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council Aboriginal Corporation (NPY) (life story / autobiography)
  178. Two Mates by Melanie Prewett / Illustrated by Maggie Prewett (children’s)
  179. Unbranded, Herb Wharton
  180. Untreated: Poems by Black Writers
  181. Voices from the Heart: Contemporary Aboriginal Poetry from Central Australia, collected and edited by Roger Bennett
  182. Vullah Vunnah Nah A Gunditjmara Lullaby Written and illustrated by Patricia Clarke (children’s)
  183. Wandering Girl, Glenyse Ward
  184. Wandihnu and the Dugong, Elizabeth and Wandihnu Wymarra
  185. Watershed by Fabienne Bayet Charlton (fiction)
  186. We Are Going, Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal)
  187. When I was little like you, Mary Malbunka
  188. When you grow up, Connie McDonald
  189. Windradyne: A Wiradjuri Warrior, Mary Coe
  190. Wisdom Man, Banjo Clarke
  191. Women’s Stories from Laramba  (lifestories)
  192. Write Around Our Country: an anthology of writing by Batchelor Institute Creative Writing students 2007-2008
  193. Wunambi the Water Snake by May O’Brien (children’s)
  194. Wyndham Yella Fella, Reginald Birch
  195. Yami: the autobiography of Yami Lester
  196. Yarning Strong series, various authors
  197. Yinti, Jimmy Pike

Once again, you can find Anita Heiss’ original lists, which include links to booksellers or publishers for most of the titles, here and here.

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Jan 13

Project Susan

2014-01-12 18.14.35-2I am shamelessly stealing the idea of a self-improvement project blog post from the blog of my lovely friend Cathy (you can find her here at Most of us Need the Eggs).

This isn’t a list of New Year’s Resolutions or a Bucket List, it is a list of goals, dreams, wishes and aspirations.  There is no deadline, but if I don’t write these things down, they will remain vague ‘maybe one day’ ideas rather than something that I am actively working towards.

There are lots of things listed, some more specific than others, but I want this to be a work in progress (just like me). I’ll cross things off as I achieve them or add links to any blog posts related to the list. I’m also including a Project 2014 section, so that I have some general goals for the year that I can look back and assess in January next year.

Project 2014 (14 goals for 2014)

  • Have a children’s picture book manuscript accepted by a publisher
  • Visit more places in my home town area of Newcastle/Lake Macquarie/Hunter Valley
  • Take more photos (with my camera, not my phone)
  • Organise my music collection and listen to music more often
  • Organise a work area so that I can have a creative and inspiring work space where I can write
  • Read more widely – include at least two adult fiction novels each month
  • Attend the theatre or a live concert at least twice
  • Eat out as a family at least once a month
  • Attend the Writers’ Unleashed Writers’ Festival
  • Volunteer at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival
  • Fit into my striped London Fog dress by spring 2014
  • Drink green smoothies for breakfast every day for a month
  • Take 15 minutes every day to do something that is just for me
  • Do something creative every day

 

Project Get Out and About

  • See the Christmas lights at Hunter Valley Gardens
  • Visit Melbourne
  • Visit Gold Coast theme parks (ok, not so much for me, but I’d love to take the kids)
  • Visit Adelaide and share a bottle of wine with Cate from I’ll Think of a Title Later
  • Visit Brisbane and share a bottle of wine with Annie from Life and Dandelions
  • Visit Melbourne and share a bottle of wine with Amanda from Real Mums
  • Pacific Islands cruise
  • Family holiday at Port Macquarie
  • Visit Canberra to catch up with friends
  • Visit the Louvre in Paris
  • Visit Monet’s garden at Giverny, France
  • Ride in a gondola in Venice

 

Project Professional Development

  • Attend the Melbourne writers’ festival
  • Attend the CBCA Conference
  • Attend the SCBWI Conference
  • Attend the Writers’ Unleashed writers’ festival
  • Publish a children’s picture book
  • Establish a professional website

 

Project Keep Learning

  • Complete a photography course
  • Renew my conversational German skills
  • Enrol in an editing and proofreading course

 

Project Home Improvement

  • Set up a study area for the kids
  • Start a herb garden
  • Start a vegetable garden
  • Build bookshelves (Lots of bookshelves!)
  • Create a reading corner
  • Paint the walls and hang some artwork
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Jan 01

Book around the World

Source: Bonnie Jacobs at Book Around the World

Aim: To read a book set in each country of the world. The book may or may not be written by an author native to that country, but must convey something about the culture and/or history of the country.

I originally started this challenging in 2009, but I am beginning afresh in 2014. My list of countries (divided into continents) comes from an alphabetical list on WorldAtlas.com accessed in Jan 2014. I will include links to any reviews I have written here at Reading Upside Down (RUD) or Kids’ Book Review (KBR)

Look out world, here I come!

 

AFRICA (54)

Algeria
Angola
Benin
Botswana
Burkina
Burundi
Cameroon
Cape Verde
Central African Republic
Chad
Comoros
Congo
Congo, Democratic Republic of
Djibouti
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Gabon
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Ivory Coast
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Morocco
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
Rwanda
Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Africa
South Sudan
Sudan
Swaziland
Tanzania
Togo
Tunisia
Uganda
Zambia
Zimbabwe

ASIA (44)

Afghanistan
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Bhutan
Brunei
Burma (Myanmar)
Cambodia
China
East Timor
India
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Japan
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Korea, North
Korea, South
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Laos
Lebanon
Malaysia
Maldives
Mongolia
Nepal
Oman
Pakistan
Philippines
Qatar
Russian Federation
Saudi Arabia
Singapore
Sri Lanka
Syria
Tajikistan
Thailand
Turkey
Turkmenistan
United Arab Emirates
Uzbekistan
Vietnam
Yemen

EUROPE (1/47)

Albania
Andorra
Armenia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macedonia
Malta
Moldova
Monaco
Montenegro
Netherlands – The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
San Marino
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Ukraine
United Kingdom
Vatican City

NORTH AMERICA (23)

    Antigua and Barbuda
Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Canada
Costa Rica
Cuba
Dominica
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Grenada
Guatemala
Haiti
Honduras
Jamaica
Mexico
Nicaragua
Panama
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
United States

OCEANIA (14)

Australia
Fiji
Kiribati
Marshall Islands
Micronesia
Nauru
New Zealand
Palau
Papua New Guinea
Samoa
Solomon Islands
Tonga
Tuvalu
Vanuatu

SOUTH AMERICA (12)

Argentina
Bolivia
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Ecuador
Guyana
Paraguay
Peru
Suriname
Uruguay
Venezuela

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Sep 08

Post Election Democracy

ballot paper 2013Amidst the general political discussion on Twitter last night, which was fast and furious, one thought really stood out to me. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t favourite the tweet so that I can attribute it properly. If you are the person who uttered these words of wisdom, thank you for helping me to regain a sense of perspective post-election.

The general message (significantly paraphrased by me) was this:

Voting on election day is only one aspect of democracy. You don’t have to wait another 3 years to engage your democratic rights. You can contribute every day to help create a positive and progressive community if you choose to. That’s democracy – you get to choose, every day, to be part of making the world around you a better place.

So, what are your plans for the next three years? Will you sit on the sidelines or will you take an active role, continuing to exercise your rights to have a say in the decisions that shape your community? Will you cross your arms and pout because you didn’t get the leader you wanted, or will you do your very best to continue to promote the causes and people that you believe in? Will you mock the opinions of others, or will you lead by positive example, backing up your opinions with your time and energy?

I have really enjoyed the political discussion over the past few weeks. Not so much the actual political campaigning and propaganda (from politicians and media), but the genuine, heartfelt sharing of ideas and opinions from informed, intelligent people who really want to make a positive difference. I see no reason why this discussion needs to end because election day has come and gone.

It was incredibly disappointing to see statistics showing just how many informal votes were cast yesterday. Perhaps this should be our goal in the coming three years – to help others understand that it is worth thinking about what is happening around them and taking an active role. To help people to see that a world exists beyond their front door that could be improved by their participation and involvement.

It’s easy to find memes, jokes and comments all over Twitter and Facebook mocking politicians and the political process. Some of them are very funny, but many simply reflect a disenchanted and disillusioned population who see little in their leaders worth admiring. This feeling was captured for me most effectively by a cartoon suggesting that a voter list their candidate preferences from ‘least to most disappointing’, a sadly accurate representation of the way many voters were feeling.

I think we can hold our politicians to a higher standard than we have seen recently, if we ourselves aim to take a higher path. I love this quote shared by The Optimism Revolution on Facebook: ‘Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate’. We’re all down on our politicians for running a negative campaign, but we seem to be just as quick to mock, demean and belittle our political leaders as they are to mock, demean and belittle each other.

So, I ask you again, what do you plan to do now? Will you be part of an ongoing discussion to help shape the priorities of your community? Will you speak up for those things you believe are important? Will you encourage your children to respectfully listen to the opinions of others and speak up confidently about the issues that matter to them by modeling this behaviour yourself?

I’m pondering these questions myself and thinking about how I can be become more engaged in the issues that matter to me within my own local community. I’d love you to leave a comment if you have practical suggestions for ways that people can make a difference, both within their community and as part of the political process.

Whether you’re celebrating or mourning the outcome of our federal election, I hope that you are able to look forward to the opportunities the coming weeks, months and years will bring for you, personally, to bring about positive change.

I leave you with a thought provoking ‘open letter from the guy who did that sweary website’. It’s worth reading and thinking about.

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Sep 01

Recipe: 4 Ingredient No Fuss Honey Cake

honey cakeToday, Carmen from Honey Delight and I have used the first day of spring as an excuse to celebrate bees. You can read more about our plans here. We’re all over Twitter and Instagram using the #CelebrateBees hashtag to raise awareness of how amazing bees are.

As part of the general bees and honey theme, I thought I would share one of my favorite cake recipes – honey cake. This is one of those one-bowl, no hassle recipes that it is great to have on hand for those times when you want to bake something but don’t have the time to fuss or concentrate on something complicated.

The cake is reasonably dense, halfway between honey cake and honey bread, and very moist. You can eat it fresh from the oven, with butter or without, or even as a dessert with ice-cream (my husband’s favorite option). The recipe is egg free and can be prepared from start to finish in less than an hour.

HONEY CAKE RECIPE

Ingredients
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1 cup milk (1/2 cup warm, 1/2 cup cold)
1 1/2 cups self raising flour

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180°C (fan forced). Grease and line loaf tin.
  • Combine brown sugar, honey and 1/2 cup of warm milk in a bowl. Use a whisk to mix until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add self raising flour and mix until combined.
  • Add remaining milk and mix until combined.
  • Pour mixture into loaf tin. Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Variations
Substitute golden syrup for honey
Add one mashed ripe banana to the cake mix.

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Aug 24

Don’t Worry, Bee Happy

2013-08-23 16.08.01I haven’t spent much time on Twitter in recent months. I’d almost forgotten how much fun the Twitter community can be and how many interesting and likeable people I have met through this particular social media network.

One of those people is the delightful Carmen from Honey Delight (@Honey_Delight on Twitter). Carmen has been unfailingly friendly and helpful in our conversations on Twitter since we first met many months ago thanks to one of those random Twitter connections when I was looking for advice to deal with a swarm of bees that was making itself at home just outside my back door. She also tweets links to some fascinating information about bees, beekeeping and some of the hardships faced by the beekeeping industry worldwide due to problems with maintaining the bee population, and to her own blog posts about life as a 3rd generation beekeeper.

In the course of a conversation with Carmen this morning, I discovered that Australia doesn’t have a Bee Awareness Campaign, unlike the US (National Honey Bee Day) and New Zealand (Bee Aware Month). We wondered why not and within a few quickly typed tweets, we took it upon ourselves to do something to celebrate the humble, yet amazing, honey bee.

I give you #CelebrateBees.

On 1st September, the first day of spring and a totally appropriate day to be celebrating all things bee-like, Carmen and I are inviting you to do something to celebrate bees and then share a photo via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or your favourite social media network. Add the #CelebrateBees hashtag so that we can raise awareness of the wonderful contribution honey bees make to our environment and lifestyle.

You don’t need to go to a lot of trouble. It can be as simple as a small bee drawing on your hand, bee-themed nail polish or some bee drawings to decorate Dad’s Fathers’ Day card. Maybe you could bake your favourite honey treat, share a photo of the cover of your favourite bee book, make some popcorn and enjoy watching The Bee Movie, or encourage your children to do some bee drawings. Maybe you have a bee tattoo or some photos of bees from your own garden.

#CelebrateBees with a simple drawing shared on Twitter.

#CelebrateBees with a simple drawing shared on Twitter.

Whatever it is, snap a photo and share it with the world. Your #CelebrateBees happy snap will help to raise awareness about honey bees and hopefully get a positive conversation started. Maybe we can even trend on Twitter? Who knows.

Carmen and I will both be chatting about this during the week encouraging people to join in on September 1st. I’ve included our various social media contact details below.

We hope that you’ll join in our #CelebrateBees campaign.

Carmen
Honey Delight blog
@Honey_Delight on Twitter
Honey Delight Facebook page

Susan
Reading Upside Down blog
@ReadUpsideDown on Twitter
@ReadUpsideDown on Instagram
Reading Upside Down Facebook page

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Aug 20

Life, the Universe and Everything

Today is my birthday. My 42nd birthday, to be precise.

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything. I see no reason why I shouldn’t base a personal life philosophy on a random idea in a work of fiction, so I have decided that this is the year I should get my own life sorted. If Douglas Adams is to be believed, my chances of discovering the meaning and purpose are much better this year than any other, right?

It is time for me to set some goals, work out what my priorities are, create a wish list of places and ideas I want to explore and generally get some direction in my life. I could have done this earlier in life, I guess, but surely doing all these things while 42 lends the whole process a far deeper and more philosophical tone. Either that, or it demonstrates that I’ve finally lost my tenuous grasp on the difference between fiction and reality. I guess we’ll find out over the next 12 months.

The past few years have been challenging for a variety of reasons. I started 2013 determined to head in a more positive direction. I don’t feel like I’ve achieved very much, but I think I have managed to get myself in a much better position mentally. I feel like I’m now in a ready to make the changes I need to make. I’ve talked about it before, but honestly I was far too fragile to make any major decisions.

I still have a long way to go, of course. I still feel awkward and uncertain and I get a little panicky when plans change unexpectedly or when I have to deal with something I’m not prepared for. My confidence in myself is returning, however, and I think I can now cope with making some of the decisions I have been putting off for a while.

This year, I plan to focus on myself – being brave enough to set some personal and professional goals and then work towards achieving them. I’m going to pursue my writing goals more proactively and I’m going to create a personal Wish List, inspired by Karen Andrews Living List (you can find it here at her Miscellaneous Mum website). I’m going to list the places I want to visit, the things I want to learn, the events and activities I want to experience.

I’m going to revamp this blog with a whole new design thanks to the lovely and talented Tina Snerling of Tiny Concept. I’m going to start up a blog/website focused on my writing services as well. Time to take what I do seriously. I’m looking forward to becoming involved in the local sub-branch of the CBCA, joining the Hunter Writers’ Centre and taking part in more local writing activities. I would love to do some courses on writing for children, writing non-fiction and editing/proofreading.

I also want to get more organised. Not obsessive organised, but some kind of routine and less clutter, both physical and mental. To this end, I have enrolled in the My 15 Minutes workshop run by Emma Grey from Work Life Bliss and Audrey Thomas from ChickChat Coaching.

If you don’t already follow WorkLifeBliss on Facebook or visit the website, you should. Emma has some wonderful, practical, down-to-earth advice that is really motivating without all that annoying pom-poms in your face, rah-rah, isn’t life super amazing hype.

I love this from the Work Life Bliss homepage (only a few points from the entire post):

Choose what makes your soul sing.

Fuel your body and mind with the things that make you strong. Fit the oxygen mask to yourself first, and be clear-headed to help those who matter most to you.

Quit running from what you don’t want. Stop climbing into bed wondering where the day went. Direct your day with vision and boundaries and assertiveness.

Live the life you want for the children in your life.

Tell yourself what you would whisper in their ears.

The decision to aim to achieve all these, and more, is my birthday gift to myself. I deserve it.

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