This Simple Day Archives

Day 30: Picture That

Saturday 30 Jun 2012

For a long time my partner and I have been talking about filling our walls with photos from our travels. We wanted to live with our adventures, but have not seemed to find the time to pick out our favourite images or have them mounted.

Today I had printed, a canvas of one of my favourite photos of this journey – a sunrise shot taken in the early days. I will hang it with pride as our first piece of personal experience art. It will serve as a reminder to surroundmyself with the things I enjoy in life – not just upload it to that intangible anonymous residence known as the Internet.

Setting myself a task for each day has reinforced to me that I can do anything I put my mind to. It has been a tough but enjoyable journey. I have found extra time in my day. I have found joy and beauty in partaking in simple things. I have been motivated and I have discovered parts of myself along the way.

I don’t know if we are necessarily worse off than our parents for all the introduction of technology. I’m sure they think we are, as we will with our own children. We will look back and reminisce about the days when we: called on the phone, didn’t have a computer, smartphone, or iPad and there were times in the day where you just weren’t accessible. Just as our parents tell us unbelievable stories like having a dirt floor or shock horror – no TV, I’m sure the world pre-Facebook will intriguingly horrify our next generation.

One of the biggest things I will take away with me from all of this is that we have the right to choose. We do not have to feel as though technology rules our lives. For some they might choose Pintrest or Facebook – for me Internet banking is high on my list! Maybe the key – as with everything – really is in moderation. We are not at the mercy of the technology demons. You do have the right to choose the level of involvement, distraction, connection and disconnection.

I will still smell the books, it will always be something I treasure. Like the last generation that hold on to the record players, perhaps in the future it will remind me of a time gone by.

I will Internet bank, I will cook some meals from scratch. I won’t take my phone into the tea-room every day. I will save the encyclopaedias for my children and learn to sew some more. I will Google and Wiki but also go to the library. I will continue to write letters and to take photos. Facebook, even on this – the last day – I am still undecided about you.

As I look at the sunrise canvas I am reminded that as each day dawns we are in control and we have the chance to grab life by the horns and run.

Day 29: Book it

Friday 29 Jun 2012

As part of this experiment I have been borrowing my partner’s iPad to read a novel. I have always avoided any kind of e-reader, preferring to stick with books, but I thought I’d give it a go.

I used the websites weekly recommendation to choose my book. At first it was all quite exciting. There was a large number of titles to choose from and flicking through all the blurbs I was eager to make my selection and get reading.

I realised that you can sample an entire chapter without buying the book. This puts a lot of pressure on that first chapter. It had better be good as there is no commitment to buy and you can easily discard after the first read through. I wanted to read the blurb about the author – like on the back of the book cover but found that I could not. This was rather disappointing as I like to envision the writer as I am reading.

I settled into bed and starting reading my selection – maybe it was the newness but I couldn’t quite get used to the feel of the iPad. I wanted to feel the book I was reading. I wanted to flick through the pages, but I couldn’t. Well I could scroll through them one at a time but it wasn’t the same.

I persevered and there were advantages. I didn’t need a light to read by – which is great for me as I often fall asleep reading and struggle to switch off the lamp half comatose. Bugs however, did have a tendency to fly into the screen – perhaps not so good up here in the rainforest. I know for travellers it would be great too – not having to carry heavy books around.

Today I had finished my iPad book so I decided to go into a real bookstore to purchase my next real book. I loved strolling through the aisles, reading the reviews from the store workers. Each new glossy cover felt filled with potential. I gazed along the rows for ages, before I finally made my selection.

I did read the blurb on the book before I bought it – just not the whole first chapter. Buying it and holding it feels as thought there is more of a commitment to the book than compared to the iPad.

I don’t know whether e-books and e-readers are encouraging reading among our younger generations. I do know that it is putting strain on our already struggling Australian publishing industry.

I will always support the industry. As I get ready to curl into bed I don’t think there is anything that compares to the smell of a new book and knowing you are about to delve into a new world. I don’t think they will ever be able to replace it – and I hope they don’t. I will live with switching off the lamp.

Day 28: MGMMe

Thursday 28 Jun 2012

One thing I do miss about not having Facebook is one of the groups I created. I recruited a few close friends and called it My Girls Motivate Me. We were all trying to get fit or stay in shape and this page was a secret place where we could post about our goals or achievements or occasionally our slackness and ask for help!

This page had been going for months and we seem to go through phases of using it more regularly or not. When we were gearing up for our last run we used it often, sharing our pace and distance. As we coming up to another run I am feeling like I am missing out a little bit on the fun of sharing our progress and motivation.

I decided the only solution was to take matters into my own hands and to utilised the old snail mail. I was looking up some training sites and came across the hilarious running quotes above. I found one for each of the girls, printed the pictures and put ‘Proudly Brought to you by: My Girls Motivate Me’ on the side. I laminated them so that they could do whatever they wanted with them, suggesting sticking them to the fridge or swapping them with each other after a while.

I loved doing this and smiled to myself as I pictured each friend receiving them in the mail. I guess it goes to show – you don’t have to miss out, you just have to get creative.

Day 27: Shopping Aisle by Aisle

Wednesday 27 Jun 2012

I conducted a little experiment over the last month – every time I wanted to get groceries I had to do it via online shopping. At first I thought this was going to be great. I would get it delivered, I wouldn’t have to go to the shops and I had an excuse – after all I was doing an experiment!

The first time I attempted this I was on night duty. I was excited – what a perfect option – I could make my order at home and them simply have it delivered. Well, it took me twice as long to construct my grocery list online. I had to search through every product page by page to find the particular one I was after. Click, add, and repeat. It was time consuming. Oh well, I thought, better than trolling the aisles after a sleepless night. Clicking on delivery I ran into another problem – I could only choose a very wide window for delivery. Anyone that does night duty knows that daytime sleep is: precious, hard to come by and most of all unpredictable. There was no way I could bank off a whole morning waiting for a delivery. I discovered ‘Click and Collect’ – problem solved – I could just waltz into the supermarket after work and there waiting for me, would be my weekly shop. I wouldn’t have to feel guilty making someone else pick out my groceries – I was after all, just finishing night duty.

I turned up to the counter at Wollies and presented my ID – sure enough within a few minutes along came my trolley full of selected, bagged and paid for groceries. At home, bleary eyed I unpacked the goods feeling remarkably pleased with myself. Sure it took longer to select the items but it would get quicker, and after all it was better doing that in the comfort of my home – rather than roaming the aisles. Then disaster struck – I noticed some of the items were missing. You may think disaster is an exaggeration, but when your running on no sleep, the store is 20 minutes down a winding range and you need the said items for dinner – it feels pretty disastrous! On the phone I get – turns out they forgot to pack the frozen items into the trolley.

Mission two online shopping. Surely this has to go smoothly. I upload my last shopping list – realise it is nothing like what I need this time – and so troll through uploading each item. It was quicker than the last time but still took longer than walking through the store. I selected my collection time and paid.

This time as I handed over my ID in the store I asked the cashier to be sure the freezer items were included. They were, I left reassured. Unpacking I realised again – there were missing items. Dutifully I ring the store but this time I couldn’t get through, eventually I spoke to someone who told me I had to go through the national customer service number – no way! I explained that last time the missing products were just in the fridge and I think this happened again. She assured me she would check and call me back. Which she did, and to her credit, when she realised the items weren’t there she went through the customer service herself. She found that the items were out of stock so they reimbursed my credit card. But… she informs me happily – they are in store today and I can just pop in to collect them. Again I was up the range – popping in was not such an easy option. I rang my partner – ‘Yes, I know it was my turn to shop and I dodged it by doing it online… but you have to pick up these things they forgot, oh and you have to pay for them.’ That’s two-nil to regular shopping as far as I’m concerned.

Third time lucky right? Wrong. My partner had to do the food shopping for an event he was planning out of town. He had limited time once he got there. ‘That’s alright’ I suggested. ‘I’ll just order it online and then you can collect it from the Townsville store’. Presto – what a great idea – and because he was on a budget he was able to keep track of the money rather than being surprised at the checkout.

He set off with receipt in hand and I thought all went smoothly until I talked to him that night. Just as he was pulling in to make the collection he received a text message listing a bunch of things that the store did not have in stock – most of the meat for starters. Now credit given – they did at least recognise this before he picked the items up, but it still meant he had to do two stops to buy the rest… and of course they reimbursed my credit card and he had to pay. I think that is safe to say – he got jipped again!

Three strikes and your out as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure others love online shopping but it’s not for me. I missed the visual stimulus of wandering around the aisles, choosing between brands and specials.

I’m sure we all learnt a few lifelong lessons in shopping centres. Like: what Mum would do if we had a tantrum; no, we couldn’t have everything we wanted; or that Mum wouldn’t hesitate to frog-march us back to the checkout in tears and make us apologise for stealing a lolly!

I vote real shopping! I know Mum’s out there will probably disagree and when I have a screaming toddler clutching a desperately needed lolly… I might reconsider!

Day 26: Look It Up

Tuesday 26 Jun 2012

Living with my self-enforced Internet ban for three days and abstaining from Google, got me thinking about the way we access our information in this day and age.

When I was growing up there was no Google, or Wiki we had to literally look it up. We had to rely on books, dictionaries, libraries and encyclopaedias. I still wonder how we got all the information we needed for assignments and schoolwork – but we did.

Nowadays fact is so accessible. If we need information we just Google it. If I was to talk about Gen Y and details about this generation, I would just go to Wiki and cut and paste. It is very handy to have all this information at our fingertips, and I am not advocating boycotting Google or Internet searches… but is everything we are reading true?

A colleague was giving a presentation, after doing a Google image search for absolute stability this is the image he was given.

Ok, so this guy was a professor and talked about the subject – but nevertheless he is not an image of absolute stability – you have to be careful.

I remember as a child having Charlie Brown encyclopaedias. They were cartoon strips and drawings interspaced with text and information. There was fifteen in the series and the titles ranged from: What We Wear, People Around The World, to All kinds of Animals from Fish to Frogs.

I can remember poring through them as a child. It wasn’t like I was studying. I wanted to read the cartoons. I wanted to see the pictures and at the same time I was learning. The Charlie Brown’s were telling me about things I didn’t even know I wanted to learn about.

There is that old saying ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’ and whilst Google and the like is great for looking up things you want to find information on –what about taking you into a world you never knew existed?

My partner has a whole collection of Australian Geographic magazines that he tells me he loved looking through when he was younger. Who knows, maybe this is where he found his eye for design, love for photography or discovered a desire for travel and exploration.

I am lucky that Mum, in her wisdom, kept the Charlie Brown’s – even when we were teenagers and protested ever having a use for them. I decided to take them home. I have given them and the Australian Geographic’s a place in our house – hoping to pass them on to my children. Some things may date, but things like – how a light bulb works,  or who was the first person on the moon, will not.

Books like these are irreplaceable. They teach children to learn, and expand little people’s minds. I wonder what would happen if I Googled that?

Day 25: You’ve Got Mail

Monday 25 Jun 2012

Today I wrote and posted a letter to my nephews. I had some time to kill whilst on a road trip. I’m pretty sure they aren’t reading this, so I am not spoiling the surprise in talking about it. Remember the pure joy when you got a letter in the mailbox? I remember as a kid there was a book called ‘Free Stuff For Kids’ and it was just that – a list of things you could send away for to get posted back to you. By the time it arrived you had forgotten what you sent for so it was always a surprise!

I have sent letters to my nephews in the past when I was living overseas or in the Northern Territory but they usually accompanied birthdays and I haven’t for a while. I am excited to be able to surprise them with this letter for no reason.

I can’t remember the last time I received a letter in the post for no reason. When I was a kid my best friend moved away so we became pen pals for a while – but that faded with time. Funnily enough I found her again on Facebook in the last couple of years, but we only briefly messaged.

In high school my friends and I used to write letters to each other all the time. We used to swap them at school. I still have some and they are hilarious to look back on. I think they will stay in a treasure box to show my kids one day – I can imagine their horror! I think I may even be lucky enough to have kept one where we talked about my partner. He went to school with us and we all had crushes at different times so I am sure we wrote about it.

The spam emails have taken over as the nice ‘feel good’ letters to send to friends. Again, which seems to be the resounding theme I am discovering – it is convenient to quickly send to nice flower email to friends or to circulate the joke emails. I remember when this first started and it was great – I even saved some of them thinking they were one offs! With all the spam that gets shoved into our box everyday we have become overloaded with all the junk. I got to a stage where I just deleted anything that looked like jokes or chain mail. Sure it was funny, entertaining, nice – whatever the case, but I was saturated. Are these spam emails actually making us less connected to our friends and family?

Day 24: Offline

Sunday 24 Jun 2012

Ok, this is a scary one. I am going off line – completely. But… I have commitments which I can not extricate myself from, so I can only do this for three days, that’s my limit, then I have to re-join the world again.

Why is this so scary? Well for starters it means no email, internet banking, no checking the blog or stats (my partner will upload for me), no Facebook (which I am used to), but perhaps the worst of all – no quick Google ofanything – I have to rely on my own brain for the next three days! Voted one of the 50 funniest tweets of 2011 was

“I’m done learning new things until someone can prove to me that we won’t have Google forever” (@patrickmarkryan).

It’s funny because it’s true.

Remember the Bigpond ad from a few years ago? The kid in the backseat of the car asks his Father…

‘Dad what is the great wall of China?’

The Dad with no idea rambles off about the reign of emperor Nasi Goreng and keeping the rabbits out. It finishes with…

Give your kids the right answers, get them broadband.

I actually Googled that ad because I could only barely remember it – case in point!!

Never again will we feed our kids the wrong information because at our fingertips we have Google the master of all teaching.

Well not me, not for the next three days at least. So I apologise now in advance for incorrect facts in the next few blogs – I am relying on my own memory – scary stuff. And no, I will not go without spellcheck, that’s where I draw the line!

Day 23: A Stitch in Time

Saturday 23 Jun 2012

Hands up if you have ever purchased hem tape? It doesn’t work. For as long as I can remember my sister and I have taken every mending or sewing need to our Mother.

My Mum is a great seamstress and as kids she made us most of our clothes – from swimming togs to dancing costumes. We were pretty lucky even if we did hate the matching outfits that we sometimes ended up with!

Sewing is an art lost on my sister and myself – though not from lack of trying on Mum’s behalf, I just was not interested. I didn’t have the patience. I reasoned I could just buy the clothes I wanted.

I have often wondered though what my children will be sporting as costumes. It will be alright if I have notice – I can get Nan to whip something up, but what about the last minute ‘Mum I need to be a Carrot for tomorrows play’ or ‘Mum I have no buttons left on my shirt’. Perhaps basic sewing is a skill I might need after all.

I am going to start off small. I am going to get Mum to teach me to sew a hem. I found a material store – and discovered another new world where the only language spoken is fabric – stretch, taffeta, print, rouching, on-bias, off-bias. I bought some cheap practice material.

As if on cue my sister turned up to Mum’s with a bag of material and a headful of ideas. It was hilarious watching my nephews model the material as she explained her requests. More words were added to my sewing vocabulary – Guttemanns thread and voil. I dutifully transcribed the ideas and once done Mum agreed without battering an eyelid.

Onto our sewing lesson. Once I got started I realised that I remembered some of the what I was doing. Somewhere along the line I had picked up a few skills and sitting in front of the machine my hands seemed to know what to do. I won’t say I’m a natural or that my finsihed product is pretty, but nevertheless I did sew the hem myself and am pretty confident I could do it again. I will still be bringing my clothes to Mum for some time yet, but I think I can throw out the hem tape.

Day 22: Wedding Bells

Friday 22 Jun 2012

Close friends of ours are getting married tomorrow – how exciting! They – like most couple these days have opted for a wishing well instead of presents. They have been living together for years so of course have no need for a toaster, cutlery set or the traditional wedding presents of yesteryear.

I did however, want to make their gift special, so I handmade their card. Although I think I am pretty creative I have never attempted this before. I was opened up to a new world! Craft stores with aisles and aisles of different paper types. Scrapbooking was a phenomenon that passed me over but obviously it was a hit with many – the range of products seems endless. Deciding on a theme and colours was more difficult than I had anticipated!

Cozied up at home I was excited to put together my ideas for the card. After a few false starts and mistakes I was on track but in the end it didn’t quite go to plan. Although it does look a little bit better than a few bits of paper tacked together, I don’t think I quite pulled it off!

Oh well, too late now, the thought is definitely there and I think they will appreciate that… let’s hope!

Day 21: Just for You

Thursday 21 Jun 2012

A friend of mine has been having a bit of a rough time of it of late. In the past I have sent messages, letting people know I was thinking of them but with all this ‘No Gen Y’ and communication thoughts that have been floating around my head I have been thinking of something different I could do.

The other day I found the perfect thing. It was a small card with a cute picture of a bird and colourful real feathers on it. It had ‘Just a note…’ on the front and inside I inscribed ‘To let you know I am thinking of you,’ along with some personal humour not to be divulged!

I secretly pushed it through her locker door so that she would find it on her next shift.

I have realised that little gestures like this mean so much. It is easier to message or to wing off the quick email but taking a little bit of extra time really lets people know you are thinking of them.

The next time I saw her she hugged me with tears in her eyes. She told me that she hung the card in her dressing room where she could see it. Although it would have got the sentiment across, you just can’t do that with a text message.

Day 20: Music Maker

Wednesday 20 Jun 2012

IPod, ITunes, LimeWire, FrostWire, MadeLoud, MP3S’s, Napstar… the list of music sources is endless. Notice I didn’t mention… a CD store. Yep you guessed it – today I am going to buy some music. No, not download it – go into a store and buy it.

I found a shop in the city which not only sold CD’s but also… wait for it… records! And clothes! It wasn’t a franchise music outlet but more of an underground music store. It had a funky vibe which I thought was far too cool for me – I’m no DJ – but the store owner was so down to earth she put me right at ease.

I just loved flicking through the CD collections. Being a fan of Australian Hip Hop I was drawn to this section. I was about to purchase an old favourite when I noticed an unfamiliar band kept popping up. I thought why not give them a try obviously someone likes them!

I couldn’t help but try on an amazing dress on my way out, and although I didn’t buy it I will definitely be returning to delve deeper into the racks.

As I slowly make my way back to my car the smells of café brunch surround me and I feel like I have uncovered a tiny treasure trove in the city. I wonder how much more is out there that I am yet to explore? I resolve to spend more time pounding the pavement to find out.

Listening to the first two tracks in the car, I have already decided I like this new band and I can’t wait to finish work so that I can hear the rest on the long drive home. I hoped – but didn’t really believe I was going to find anything new on my journey this morning – as it turns out – I did just that, in more ways than one.

Day 19: Borrowing Time

Tuesday 19 Jun 2012

I had to do an assignment for university. I googled the bejesus out of the subject and did many online journal article searches. I got heaps of information. The problem was… I wasn’t able to use most of the material from the Google searches and the data in the journal article research was so specific I had to read about fifty articles to piece together what I was after. What I needed was one big basic description of what was happening – you know, like a book. A reputable source that actually gave me a detailed explanation of the subject I was interested in. I knew it had to be done… I had to go to the library.

I walked into the work library and was surprised to find how busy it was. I had been employed there a year and hadn’t even known where it was. I quickly found a computer (comfortable territory) and started to arrange myself. Glancing around at the aisles I had no idea where to start searching, but I wasn’t about to ask –  I didn’t want to look like I had never been in a library before! I tapped away and edited my assignment for a while as I steeled the neve to go browse the shelves.

I was amazed! There it was – all the information I had spent hours searching on the computer for. Book after book, title after title expanding on the last or taking me in a slightly different direction. I pulled four from the shelves and flicked through them – this is going to be easier than I thought! I managed to negotiate the photocopier and after an hour I had copies of all the information I needed. Score! Replacing the books on the return shelf I quickly skimmed the ‘new editions’ segment. There in front of me was the holy grail on the subject. A latest edition glossy cover tempted me. I was torn – I knew I couldn’t possibly copy it all but I wanted this book – I wanted this information!

I tentitavly walked to the librarian, glossy cover in hand.

‘Um, would it be possible to borrow this book for a while?’

Strange I know but it had been a while since I was in a reference library and I wasn’t sure they would just give out such new books. I thought for sure I was going to get snapped at…

‘What. Zis book? Are you mad?!’

The librarian in my mind had a scary German accent. The one behind the counter however just had a smile,

‘Sure, I’ll just need your ID.’

It was that simple!

Today when I realised I needed information on a subject, I quickly Googled a little bit but then eagerly ventured on down to my local library. I scanned the shelves and was excited by each enticing title. I left with armfuls – borrowed the maximum – knowing that I don’t have enough time for them all and I will have to return half unread. If only I could figure out a way to borrow time.

Day 18: It’s a Date

Monday 18 Jun 2012

When was the last time you organised an event without using social networking? For me it was just last week but that was only because I wasn’t on Facebook.

I realised that if I wanted to catch up with my friends on an upcoming trip home, I was going to have to get out the phone and give them a call – old school style.

Normally I would have sent a quick Facebook message asking who would be around and available. This works – most of the time – but sometimes people don’t check their account or are inadvertently missed. The day that I spent at Uni I overheard a few students next to me talking about missing out on an invite for this very reason.

‘You didn’t know about it? Oh I put it on Facebook. Maybe your not in that group.’

Or conversely –the horror stories of parties that get out of hand because of the social networking wildfire. I am glad I grew up in a time where we had to swap details at school about who was having a party – even  this sometimes got out of hand!

You know how it goes when you organise something over Facebook. You send the message, wait a few days, go back and check for responses, collect the numbers, wait a few more days, send a back up text in case people missed the message and it goes on. So while the apparent ease and convince of Facebook messaging seems to make things quicker it actually slows the whole process! I also think when you are sending out a group invite people are less compelled to respond straight away. It is human nature to think – the message was to the whole group, I can hang back a bit and reply later.

I spent about two hours on the phone with my friends. It wasn’t just logistical organisation – that was planned quickly. I found there was so much more I wanted to share with them that I hadn’t realised. I shared a little in their lives again – even if only briefly.

It would have been organised either way, but I enjoyed calling my friends much more than leaving a Facebook message. I’m looking forward to next week and with them all locked in  – it’s a date.

Day 17: Cooking from Scratch

Sunday 17 Jun 2012

How easy and convenient our life has become – jars of paste, frozen pastry, ready to use stock, frozen vegetables, frozen meals, ready to use rice. It seems taste and flavour take a back seat to ease of use and convenience. Could generations past have ever imagined that one day it would be is too inconvenient to make mashed potatoes and companies would provide them in powder form – just add water! Or that chopping a salad is far too taxing so lets get someone to chop it, wash it and put it in a plastic bag so all we have to do is pour it onto a plate. Great idea.

Over the last year I have been consciously making an effort to ‘go natural’. Natural cleaning products, natural bath and skin products and finally it has progressed to our food. We are lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a part of the Real Food Network – a group of health conscious individuals who put together a weekly fruit and vegetable box. For $40 we get a selection of – all local and mostly organic – fruit and veg. This has been wonderful. It proves a little more difficult with arranging meals to cook as you can’t really plan ahead, but we have started to eat far less processed food and our exposure to different varieties of produce has increased. Most times we have so much to get through I juice smoothies as a lunch substitute.

I wondered how hard it would be to really go natural. Cook everything from scratch. Learning how to make stocks, pastes and sauces would be a great way to use up any excess fruit and veg. I decided to experiment with just one meal – a main and dessert. I chose Chilli Beef Hot Pot and a Passionfruit, Tofu and Ginger Cheesecake. I had never made either of these dishes before so that was going to be a challenge in itself.

The rules I set for myself were clear. I was not able to use anything that was not whole food – no processed food. This looked pretty easy until I came to the part of the recipe for beef stock and tomato paste. I know that you canmake these items from scratch but I never had! Oh well, no better time than now to learn.

I googled (yep Gen Y here) how to go about it and then placed my online Woolworths order (that is another story) for the meat and few ingredients I did not have.

Set up in the kitchen I had all the ingredients laid out and was feeling pretty confident. About two minutes into the process of cooking down tomatoes and simultaneously browning beef bones in a separate pan, I wondered why on earth people do this when it takes so long. Why? When it is so easy to open a can, or just add water.

Part way through something changed. I settled in, I started to enjoy it. I started to smell my creation and realised that I was in fact making this. Even my most domestic friends don’t make their own stock, and here I was doing it! Like Tom Hanks on Castaway I was overjoyed at my ability to achieve a simple task. Instead of I made fire – I am cooking resonated in my mind!

Digging out the old food processor I realised I had never once used the machine. It’s yellowed plastic tells its age – my partner inherited it from his grandmother. As I spooned the steaming stewed tomatoes into the canister I felt a sense of achievement. I felt a connection to the generations gone by, that didn’t have baby food brought to you in a twist-top jar.

I have decided that this will definitely become a weekly tradition. It just feels good. It feels nourishing. It feels like I am doing something positive and learning. And it just smells so darn good! The gas stove is bubbling away and the simmering chilli is permeating the house. My dog is chewing noisily on one of the bones I set aside for him. Life is good. My partner has been away for the weekend and I can’t think of a better way to welcome him home than with a big pot of home made chilli – that I made from scratch.

Day 16: Bank on me

Saturday 16 Jun 2012

My Dad surprised me the other day. He wanted to put some birthday money into my bank account. This was a lovely gesture, but the surprising part – he didn’t want to transfer the funds via Internet banking and preferred to use his local branch to make the transaction. Now being a good Gen Y daughter I tried to explain that it would be easier to just transfer it online and it was safe these days. My Dad, bless him, explained in reply, that he didn’t get involved with all that computer banking stuff.

I don’t know how I would survive without Internet banking. I even have the bank app on my phone so I have easy instant access. My challenge… spend a whole pay with no online transfers. This sounded easy enough to achieve – after all I don’t really use it that much. Wrong!

I have to admit – I wasn’t as prepared for this as I could have been. Payday snuck up on me and once I realised I couldn’t online bank without breaking my rule I felt quite as though I was up that creek with my paddle floating away in the distance.

My accounts weren’t organised, hell I didn’t even know my account numbers! This was going to be tricky. Luckily I had scribbled down on a piece of paper how much I had to transfer to pay mortgages etc.

Ok, I can do this I resigned. I will just stop in at the bank before I go to that appointment before work. I diligently made a list of how much I thought was in each account and what I needed to put where.

Next morning I set off on my errands, confident I had all this banking business in hand. Little did I know, that lying in wait in the post office box was the electricity bill – threatening to throw a spanner in my works. Damn! No Internet banking means no BPay either. Into the post office I trudge. I find post office queues mildly frustrating at the best of times – more often than not I am stuck behind the person needing a passport or something incredibly complicated. This day was no exception. My patients were really pushed to the limit as I listened to the people in front catch up on how they saw so-and-so on  the street. Come on! I willed in my head. Don’t you know I have to get to the bank! Here nostalgia takes hold as I remember all the times my Mum had to rush to ‘get to the bank’. For the most part this is a thing of the past. Gone are the days where we are at the mercy of the unreasoning banking hours.

I eventually made my way to the front of the queue, paid my bill and off I ran. I was late – but I had to make it to the bank – there was a payment that needed to be made that day.

As I circled the car park I was boiling over with tension. Of course there are no parks. I have to get to the bank! I raged again in my mind.

I scored a park after stalking an elderly lady exiting the shopping centre and I was in. There was no queue – it seems I am not the only one who avoids the branch nowadays. I crossed straight to the teller.

‘I normally do this by Internet banking,’ I felt the need to explain, ‘but I just wanted to transfer some money.’

‘Oh sure there is Internet banking available in the branch.’

The teller waived a hand and I turned to see enticing computer monitors staring back at me. I was in such a hurry – oh how I wanted to just log on and be done in three minutes!

‘Would you mind if I just do it over the counter?’ I disappointedly resigned.

‘No problem.’

Only it was. First of all I have to describe the bank account I wanted the money to go into as I didn’t know the account number.

‘The one with such and such in it, the one that I took so much out of last week.’

We got that sorted and I signed the receipt for the transfer. Luckily I realised that the amount was incorrect. I explained again how much I wanted to be transferred where. The teller had to do another transaction to make up the difference. I signed another piece of paper. By this time I was about to burst. I was late. I was frustrated and I was not sure that the funds had been transferred properly – was my mortgage repayment going to bounce because the teller made an error? I can’t see for myself where the money is sitting. I am not in control, and this perhaps bugs me the most. As she completes the final transaction and counts the money into my hand she smiles ‘Anything else?’

I can’t help but grin. ‘No thank-you.’ I reply, but to myself swear never again.

I was late to my appointment. I was a bundle of stress. I think I may have been a little rude to the teller, and I still am not one hundred per cent sure that the funds are where they should be. It is safe to say that this is one area of my life I will happily embrace the Gen Y version!  Log off.

Day 15: Pintrested?

Friday 15 Jun 2012

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Maybe most of you would caption my above picture with ‘Pintrest. You’re doing it wrong’, like the Facebook picture on my Day One post.

Truth be known, I have never partaken in the novelty of Pintrest. I have heard about it though. Pintresters please enlighten me if I am wrong, but I think the aim is to collect ideas/stories/pictures/quotes/articles and pin them to your Pinboard for motivation or ideas for your life.

Die hard Pintresters I may offend here, and I apologise in advance, but I wonder – if you spend so much time liking, linking and sharing ideas, do you have any time left to actually do them? Does the time spent Pintresting detract from your goals?

I thought I’d better give the concept a go, should at least try my hand at it, but I can’t very well start while I am scaling back the Gen Y. I came up with what I thought was the next best thing. I started really paying attention to magazines etc. for things that I would like to pin to a real pin-board. I found that instead of skimming I was actually looking at the photos and spreads. I found some pictures I liked: the book shelves I would like to one day have, a to-die-for view from the spa bath, or the ever illusive exotic recipe that I will never cook (seems I haven’t shaken that habit from my younger days!), but I was really just looking for stuff to fill the board.

I do love quotes and words, so these were easier to find and relate to and I found I was really enjoying making them a part of the board. I included photographs to make it real for me and once I personalised it I found it more enjoyable – not something I would spend a lot of time on, but it did bring a few of my favourite quotes back into my consciousness.

Another thing this project did highlight to me is how much I treasure my memories of travel. I have decided to make a photo-board of our favourite trips to put on display – so they are visible and we can enjoy the memories.

I wonder if clicking and pasting something onto your electronic pinboard has the same effect of bringing thoughts to your consciousness, or is it too quick an action to really let the ideas take hold? See, like, click, pin, forget.

I don’t know, maybe I’m being too sceptical of something I haven’t tried, but I just can’t seem to see the attraction to it.

Day 14: Postcard from the East (coast that is)

Thursday 14 Jun 2012

After Queensland’s devastating defeat by NSW in the State of Origin last night, I am inspired to send a postcard to our friends – fellow Queenslanders living in the Northern Territory.

For those that may not know it, the State of Origin is the most important game of Rugby League played in the world. The crème de la crème (no bias here!). Each year a three game series is battled out, with catch cries of state versus state resounding for the 9 weeks over which it is played.

Any good Queenslander knows only one word need be said (screamed) to show your unwavering support… QUEENSLANDERRR! Repeat three times and the emotion charged chant will transport every Queensland supporter to a state of adrenalin charged anticipation. Seeing a maroon clad player use it as a battle cry is truly the pinnacle and fever pitch excitement shortly follows.

The loss in game two – as devastating as it is – sets the stage for an epic battle in game three. We have won the series six years in a row and as much as the blues may want it – we are not about to give it up.

I haven’t sent a postcard for years. I know the tradition is to send one when you are on holidays but I can’t even remember the last time I did that. Is this a dying tradition, or is it just me?

I am about to set out to find the perfect postcard – one that captures the Queensland spirit. I hope I can find a QUEENSLANDERRR one, but if not… I’ll settle for a toad.

Day 13: Family Recipe

Wednesday 13 Jun 2012

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When I was younger and first fending for myself, my sister gave me a hand-written recipe book. It was filled with funny little anecdotes and notes – like not being able to make Mum’s spaghetti no matter how hard she tried, or ‘supposed to be milk but if you run out water is ok’. As I look back through it her familiar handwriting and the meals she was cooking at the time reminds me how much I looked up to my big sister. I treasure it still and I often resource it for the old family favourites we grew up on. A testament to this – the beef stroganoff and curry pages are splattered and smeared almost beyond recognition.

I filled the rest of the blank pages with my own recipes which tell their own story. They are very ambitious and I don’t believe I have cooked a single one of them. But I was young and had dreams of entertaining friends with my culinary skill. In my mind I would be whipping out a perfectly browned rack of lamb with herb and couscous crust, followed by a proud standing parfait of some description. The parfait featured heavily in the desert section – I must have thought they were a bit snazzy!

Nowadays when I run out of ideas I hit Taste.com, or Google for inspiration. I’m not discrediting this as an option. I have found some great recipes from sites like these – in fact almost our entire Christmas lunch last year was created from Taste.com. The problem I find is that I end up shoving the printout into a cupboard somewhere and never looking at it again. Worse still, is when they turn out nothing like what was promised!

I wanted to get together a collection of tried and true recipes. I found a blank recipe book and inscribed a small message in the front – asking people to tell me where the recipe came from, or comment on when and why they like to cook it – something to give it the personal touch. I gave it to a friend at work with the instruction to pass it on.

At first I felt a little funny asking people, but it seems they want to share their favourite meals. Everybody that saw it commented that it was a great idea, or that they wanted one too.

I am looking forward to having a whole new lot of meals to try and preserving a bit of history from my work family. As I see it fill up gradually each day, I know this too will become a treasure in the kitchen, unlike the infinite print outs that have been lost along the way.

Day 12: News Time

Tuesday 12 Jun 2012

If you were to rely on Internet sources like ninemsm for your daily news update you would not be mistaken in thinking that Kanye and Kim Kardashian’s relationship is as important as the impending financial crisis in Greece or Spain.

I’m sure there are people out there that are relieved the K tradition looks set to continue with Kanye – and maybe it is more important to some. Not me though.

In the past – working on some writing projects meant I had quite a bit of time during the day on the Internet. Every time I logged out of Hotmail – there was ninemsn staring back at me with the ‘news’ bulletin. It seemed that they sought out the most horrific and sensational stories to grab the passing reader. Anything from bizarre murders and sexual assaults to family tragedy – it seemed the more shocking the better. On the Internet the content screaming out at you doesn’t appear to be as controlled as in newspapers or even on television. Perhaps the Internet is fair game – or perhaps it is more of the faceless anonymity of the Internet creeping in, or perhaps it just has to be more alarming to attract the transitory audience.

I spend less time on the Internet these days and more time commuting in my car. I have taken to switching my radio between Triple J, ABC News Radio and Radio National. Doing this gives me a far better perspective of the events going in the world and I find I am understanding the issues that affect our society.

Today’s challenge – again continuing for the rest of the month, is to only source my news from either the newspaper or radio. It is easy for me not to see the television news (no TV at home) and I will no longer even glance at the Internet news sites.

I don’t think I will miss out. This morning the headlines from all the major newspapers were read and briefly described on a segment of morning radio. The concept of this segment still feels a little strange – listening to the paper being read on the radio – but I have come to love it. I would never buy the Financial review but hearing the main stories condensed seems to impart the knowledge by osmosis. I often chuckle as the NT News ignores all major national news to report the latest crocodile anecdote as their cover story. After living there for a year – I can vouch – more often than not a croc graced the front page.

I absolutely love flicking through the Kuranda paper. It is full of upcoming events and reports of past happenings, and it has a real community feel about it. I read through every page of the paper, from the gig guide to gardening corner. Often there is community information that is only communicated through the paper, like when the local refuse will open over the holidays – we learnt that last Christmas. I also learnt that the scorpion I found in the laundry wouldn’t have been poisonous, or to be aware that the snakes were on the move (they were right, we saw three that week).

Even though it only comes out once a month I will take The Kuranda Paper over the Kardashian’s any day.

Day 11: Mapless

Monday 11 Jun 2012

How much do we rely on our smartphones for maps or car navigators for directions? I know I never bother to get an address as I always just plug my destination into my map app and it tells me how to get there. Often I will leave to go somewhere and I have no idea how to get where I am going – that is how confident I have become that the little line on the map will show me the way.

A few months ago, a friend from work told me about a great camping ground. It sounded ideal. We could take the dog, put the kayaks in, have a fire and it wasn’t too far away from home. I got the name of the place and a brief list of directions how to get there. In truth I thought that I would just be able to look it up, so thought the instructions were less important. As it turns out this place isn’t listed on any map, it isn’t google-able and I couldn’t find it after numerous Internet searches.

The rains came and because I couldn’t find the place on any searches I forgot about it. It felt like it didn’t exist. Isn’t it funny I thought I couldn’t find it – and I hadn’t even left the house!

Early this morning we packed up the dog to go exploring. Armed with not much more than the mud-map directions that I was given many months ago, we tied the dog to the ute and took off. It took over an hour with many long and winding dirt roads. I started to doubt we were on the right track, but we didn’t want to turn around –what if it is just around the next corner? Eventually we came to a sign and I knew we had found it. How exciting! What explorers we were! The camp-ground was better than I could have imagined. It had everything promised and more, and surprisingly for a long weekend it wasn’t too busy. Instantly we started planning our next big camping trip.

Driving home I remembered that movie ‘The Beach’ and how you could only get to that haven if someone who knew the secret drew you a map.

Of course I won’t reveal the location – that would spoil it for all those lucky enough to find out about it… but maybe one day, I’ll draw you a map.

Day 10: Pre-viewed

Sunday 10 Jun 2012

For about the last year, every time my partner and I decide to go see a movie we get out the iPad and go through every possible movie preview, and session time. By the time we are sitting in the cinema we know the story and most times have already seen the best parts. There is no surprise.

We are a bit sheltered with no TV at home and want to pick a good movies and not waste money on a dud, but I think in a way it takes away the excitement of not knowing what is about to leap out of the big screen.

I made a deal. We would have a date night with no plans apart from – he would pick me up from work and we would go to dinner and a movie. There were strict rules… under no circumstances was either of us allowed to view pre-views or session times. We were going to turn up to the cinema and see what was on offer. Tonight was date night.

Staring up at the session listings, for the first time in ages we had no idea what some of the titles were. Hmm, what to do? All the posters were for future attractions but glancing around we found the printed blurbs the cinema provided. I have to admit, dashing back and forth between the photocopied page and the neon session times was a bit fun, and it did make choosing a movie more exciting.

We finally choose one and had an hour and half to spare. Luckily we were both hungry so started on a mission to find dinner. This task was to prove a little more difficult as it was only 3:45 in the afternoon! We persevered and eventually found a great restaurant on the Esplanade to while away the timeand we got the early bird discount!

We rushed back to the cinema just in time and sitting in my seat I was full of anticipation about the movie we had picked. All we really knew was that it was an Aussie film and someone disappears in Cambodia. As the lights dimmed it felt like the old days when going to the movies was really exciting. Throughout it all we were trying to guess where it was heading and whispered to each other our theories on ‘whodunit’.

Wish You Were Here is a beautiful Australian movie that I would recommend… but that is all the pre-view I am going to give.

Day 9: Run Girl Run

Saturday 09 Jun 2012

For the past week I have been running with no iPhone. This means no music, no Runkeeper – oh the horror! This is pretty huge for me, as I have only ever run with a little voice in my ear tracking my progress.

When I came up with this idea I thought I was going to feel really free. I thought I would be listening to my body, how it was feeling and adjust accordingly. In truth, I found it very hard to run. I had no set km’s, no little lady in my ear reminding me I was six seconds off my target pace. I know I ran slower than I normally do because I felt like I could run forever – and yet I still ran less distance! I guess I am one of those people that need set rules and guideposts to keep going. A voice in my ear edging me on to override the voice in my head telling me ‘that’ll do for today’!

Were there any benefits? Instead of a mapped km distance I just ran where I felt like, adding on streets here and there – which I suppose was nice.

I did pay more attention to my dog. When dealing with an animal that weighs as much as you (literally) this is probably a good thing. He was better behaved on the leash, as I was more willing to slow up or stop for a sniff (him not me!), rather than obsessing about keeping to pace.

As I stopped briefly to leash or unleash the dog I automatically reached for my arm where my iPhone sits. Normally, if I have to stop for some reason I pause the Runkeeper (must make sure I keep an accurate recording). I suppose not having to do that did feel more free – like I wasn’t answering to anyone, but I think I am reaching for reasons here.

Thankfully I get to stop this little experiment now and return to proper structured training for an upcoming run – good for me – perhaps not so much for the doggie!

ImageMy running partner

Day 8: Uni (solo)

Friday 08 Jun 2012

It seems I am a glutton for punishment – I am currently completing a postgraduate university course. Fortunately for me, I am able to undertake this entirely on-line. If I had to actually go to uni I don’t think I would have enrolled. On-line study is a very Gen Y concept so… Today I went back to Uni!

First things first… What to wear?! It has been many years since I stepped foot on a Uni campus and if I remembered correctly what you wore told a lot about your social status and footing. Most of my wardrobe these days consists of running gear, work clothes, and things to wear out to dinner. Now, I had to find something casual, not over the top or trying too hard and as I had to return to my adult life later on in the day, something that could pass for both occasions.

Suitably attired, I printed a map of the local uni campus – I’ll say I was just being prepared but it was probably nerves as well. I located where the library and refectory were and planned my entry. I felt a little like a charlatan and kept waiting for someone to spring me for my uni id. Silly I know. I had to remind myself that I was a uni student – even if it was in the Internet world.

Once I got over this and started to settle in I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere and character of the campus. It was smaller than where I went to uni but the memories came flooding back. I remember feeling like your whole world was ahead of you. That time didn’t really matter because you hadforever to reach your destination. There was that almost tangible belief that you could be anything you dared to dream of, and there was no reason why you wouldn’t achieve it. Strolling around, words like ‘endless potential’ and ‘the world is at your feet’ kept flowing through my mind.  Oh to go back to the time where a nine am start was far too early and if a class dared to clash with the uni-club night it was simply crossed off the list.

I lived on-campus for a year and subsequently during that time, the university was just about my entire life. It was where I ate, studied, slept, partied, and formed strong bonding friendships. Maybe that’s what came flooding back to me – how important that period in my life was.

Following a couple of young guys to the library. I could hear their easy banter and laid back to and fro-ing. How I envied them. In their world – backpacks, thongs, and boardshorts were their uniform, and unhurried feet dragged them from one class to the next.

The facilities on this campus are better than I remember. Everything is new and shiny and the library full of computer docks. I strolled past as inconspicuously as I could and the first screen I noticed was the familiar blue and white Facebook page. I recognised it instantly but quickly averted my eyes – I didn’t come here to spy on people. I couldn’t help but notice though – there were at least four screens lit up on Facebook pages. No judgement here – if I had visited last month I probably would have tried to log in to check mine! Feeling a little like an imposter I high-tailed it out of there.

I decided a coffee would make me a little less conspicuous. As I was standing in line it hit me, even though I was initially nervous about what to wear this morning I am a very different person to the one I was when I was an undergraduate. Life skills perhaps, but I think the biggest difference is confidence. I realised I have overcome the common demons of teenage years and am now much more self-assured. I wondered what it would be like if the me now, was transported back to my first year of uni. I suppose that’s why so many movies are made about going back in time – everyone wishes they had the sense they do now – back then.

I settled myself on a table and watched uni life unfold around me. I pulled out my laptop and started writing this. There are a lot of kids typing away on laptops, so I’m sure I look like I am completing an assignment or most likely they think I am Facebooking!

I am struck by the alliances around me. Little groups of like-minded people tucked here and there. It is exam time so talk revolves around who answered what, the ridiculous question that should never be on the test etc. They are interacting with each other and helping each other get through the seemingly unending maze of uni assessment. I really miss that. As much as I dreaded the hours in between lectures, those were the times when friendships were formed and we de-briefed – of course we would never have used that term. In our minds we were simply passing time – goofing off. But that, after all is part of what uni is all about isn’t it?

It has been fun to reminisce for a day. After returning, I do feel like on-line students are missing out on the interaction, and it is tempting to become part of the real uni life again. But I also know that it just would not be feasible for me to schedule or attend regular classes at the moment. To get through my course I have to slot it in where and when I can. So… I will continue to wade through solo,  and on the up side – the parking is a lot easier.

Day 7: What’s on Your Mind?

Thursday 07 Jun 2012

For some reason I have been writing my status updates in my head all day. For those that aren’t Facebook savvy, status updates are small postings of a line or so that people update to share with their friends.

Maybe it’s because it has been a week and this is my mild version of the ‘withdrawal symptoms’ that the Elon Journal was talking about.

Maybe I just think I’m important or interesting today and worthy of sharing my day with the world. Whatever it is I thought it valuable to include – as it is part of this journey. I wonder if other people write their posts in their head as they are going about their business? Is it possible that Facebook is not only changing our world but our very consciousness as well? Are our every day actions instantly converted to updates in our mind? I’m not Facebook hating here. I’m really not. I used to post all the time. When it first came out I was the biggest Facebook advocate and after June I may return to it – although to what degree I’m not sure yet.

Below are my posts that I wrote in my head as I went about my day. I would not have posted all of these – even if I was still ‘on’ but nevertheless I thought them.

First day running in my new shoes! Oh Asics I have missed you. Insert photo of shoes.

How good is real coffee!? Beautiful crisp morning and coffee in hand = happy girl.

Waiting at the acupuncturist’s office – who knowingly signs up to get pins put in them?

Oh so relaxed – everybody should try being a pincushion!

I love the Real Food Network food box – without it I never would have discovered I love Persimmons!

Corned meat boiling away on the stove – it’s been ages. Cloves, vinegar and bay leaves reminds me of being a kid with the constant question ‘How long till dinner Mum?’ on my lips.

I was trying to explain the purpose of my blog to a friend at work and she just could not comprehend it. What was the big deal about not Facebooking? Shenever did – so what’s the big deal if I didn’t. Hopefully this might clear it up some – all day, perhaps every minute your Facebook news feed is renewed with the status updates of your friends. You are constantly being informed on what your friends are doing. Hence the ‘social’ networking and feeling ‘connected’ to our social circle.

Those that are on Facebook regularly will completely understand about my posts listed above. Those that are not, are probably still asking ‘Why should I care if you had a nice coffee?’

In truth, some of us diehard Facebookers are asking the same question. A recent conversation with a friend revealed that I was not on my own. She too didn’t know why she checked Facebook last thing at night or first thing in the morning. Is it a FOMO (fear of missing out) situation? We might miss someone’s news or gossip or feel out of the loop. Or is it just a habit? One that we ‘can quit at any time’.

I wouldn’t know it if I had, but I don’t feel like I have missed much from abstaining from Facebook this last week. I did really want to look at the photos of the Ironman but as for the news feeds – no loss it seems. Hmm, but now you got me thinking… perhaps I have and as with everything – you don’t know what you don’t know! I do know that each night I now read a bit of a novel instead of scrolling the phone. Going to bed is rest time, not time to feel mildly anxious/relieved/happy or even (I’ll admit) a little jealous of what so and so is doing, saying or sharing. Maybe I am missing out, but at the moment ignorance does seem like bliss.

Day 6: Rise and Shine

Wednesday 06 Jun 2012

Inspired by taking real photos at the Ironman – I decided to set off early this morning in search of the illusive sunrise picture. My dog was not too fussed about being woken before dawn, but I bundled him into the back of my car (no mean feat for a Great Dane x Bull Arab) and off we set down the Kuranda range.

People often ask how I cope with the commute every day. There are days were I wish I didn’t have to drive so far, but they aren’t often. Most mornings I am greeted by a dawning sun peeking through the treetops. Sometimes, if the mist and the light is right, you can see the fingers of sunlight probing through the canopy. Bryce Courtenay called these – the fingers of God, and although not religious it does paint a wonderful picture in my mind.

I tried to capture some of the beauty I am lucky enough to see every time I drive to work. I have tried this before on my iPhone but the images never turned out so I gave up. I guess sometimes, you just have to put in the extra effort.

I am far from a professional photographer but I tell you I felt like it – climbing over barriers and screeching into curbs when I thought I saw a shot! All the while my trusty dog watching on with a mixture of confusion and perhaps slight irritation – after all I was eating in to his walk time with all my happy snapping.

Day 5: Play Time

Tuesday 05 Jun 2012

This year we are starting a new tradition of hosting Christmas in July. Kuranda gets pretty cold by North Queensland standards and so the lure of having a roast lunch with hot mulled wine and all the trimmings is very tempting. I have been mulling over menu items in my head – as well as entertainment for my family. Normally at Christmas time we are splashing in the pool or recharging in the air-conditioning, but Christmas in July will be different.

My nephews are ten and eleven, so at a great age to hang out and have fun with. It got me thinking… what to do on cool days and wintery nights? I’m not going to resort to the easy option of movies all the time – that would be far to Gen Y of me. I have been trudging back through my childhood memories for some ideas and I have come up with a list of my all time favourite games as a kid.

10. Monopoly

Everybody played it, everybody remembers it, and I am happy to say that the tradition has not been lost. My nephews do still often play. Our ancient version with faded cards may be revived on the weekend.

9. Trampoline

Who, as a child of the eighties, doesn’t have a trampoline injury story? Not many I’m betting. The trampoline is still popular today but they are padded all over, and with all the enclosures resemble more of a cage-fighting ring than the plain black mats from back in the day. We played on ours sideways, put it in the pool, covered it in detergent and anything else we could think of, but my worst injury was obtained when the trampoline was upside down. I summersaulted over the upside down leg beam, as was all the rage, but as I lunged into my death defying tumble I was smacked in the head by a ceramic ball-shaped, wind instrument that I was wearing as a necklace. I was left with an enormous egg and a lesson learnt in the effects of gravity.

8. Tape recording your voice

This may sound really simple but I remember the delight when Mum let us use the old cassette player and we recorded and played back our voices for the first time. I remember listening and wondering if I really sounded like that – it was so high pitched! Turns out that is the way my voice sounds on tape, and I still to this day hate hearing it. I guess kids today are exposed to voice recordings all the time, with mobile phones and messages, so suggesting this would sound lame. But… I do have a Dictaphone. I could set my nephews the task of being journalists and finding a breaking story in the neighbourhood to report on. I think they will like the drama of this and I’d love to hear the stories they come up with. It reminds me of the time my sister and I took our entire vacuum cleaner for a walk around the neighbourhood pretending that the arm and nozzle was a ‘dork finder’.

7. Cubby House pikelets

The memory is burned in my brain. It is raining in Innisfail (situation normal) and my sister, myself and two childhood friends are holed up in their tree house. We are determined not to come down. Our friends Mother battles the rain and places an ice-cream container into our pulley-system bucket (a staple of every good tree house). Imagine our delight when we opened the lid of the container to the delicious surprise of a steaming warm pikelet bounty! It may be too late to construct a whole tree house but we do have a very high back deck. I could help the boys rig up a flying fox – probably not council standard – but I think we can invent something worthy of a pikelet surprise box!

6. Making a movie

I think this goes along the same lines as the voice recording. The kids today are probably saturated with making movies and filming themselves. I remember feeling like a movie star when childhood friends were actually allowed to use their parent’s video camera to make a movie! We had scripts and roles and terribly bad special effects – like a sheet being pulled up to end the scene, but it was so much fun. Maybe if I wrote a script the boys might like to act it out. At least, if nothing else, we will have it captured for future memories.

5. Ghost stories

There is something about being included in the adult group that holds such allure for a child. One night, with a bon fire on the beach, the adults huddled into a circle and started to tell ghost stories. As kids I’m sure we thought the adults had forgotten we were there. We stayed quiet – in awe and not wanting to remind them of our presence. Of course they hadn’t forgotten us, and in truth the ghost stories were quite tame, but for us kids they were pretty freaky! One of the boys nudged ever so quietly, closer to the fire – trying to make his way closer to the middle of the circle. I forget most of the stories but I remember the night. We have a pot bellied stove – yet to be used. I think this will be perfect for roasting marsh-mellows and telling stories in the night.

4. Spotlight

From the outset I am vetoing this for the boys on this weekend. I still have scars from our childhood turns at this game, but that’s not the reason. We have snakes up here in the rainforest. Big ones. As much as I’m sure there would be squeals of delight at running around in the dark searching each other out by torchlight, I can imagine squeals of terror if they come across one of these. This game will be reserved for the suburbs.

3. Red hill and mud sculptures

Mud patties, mud sculptures, mud pottery whatever name you have for it – there is one collective name – fun! There was a creek not far from our house – at the base of red hill. I don’t think it was really named Red Hill but that was what we called it because the dirt was so red it seemed to glow. You can imagine the state we would come home in after playing in the creek, but Mum welcomed us, and our masterpieces, home with open arms and a ready hose. I think my nephews might be a bit too old for mud patties now. I think I’ll get them in the kitchen helping me make real ones to put on the barbie instead.

2. Cane-field burnings

Growing up opposite cane-fields provided endless hours of entertainment in the harvesting season. I have witnessed the beauty of the fields burning since but what remains as a memory, is my sister and I clapping the ash between our tiny hands and rubbing the soot all over our face. I remember one night burning on our friend’s property. We were charged with keeping the boundaries clear of small escaping fires. Armed with wet hession sacks to blot the flames, friendships were ignited and excitement ruled the night.

1. Ghost 

By far, the most fun game I can remember as a kid was one we made up – Ghost. It was a simple idea, the person who is ‘in’ puts a sheet or pillowcase over their head. All the lights are turned out and the ghost has the unenviable task of searching out other players. If the ghost is able to catch and hold someone they are ‘turned’ and become the ghost in the next round. We played this every time we were able to. You needed a group, and to commandeer at least two rooms or a big space. When family friends got together we would beg till we were allowed to play. There was spilt pot plants, broken vases but surprisingly no injuries that I can remember. It was a pretty hair-raising game and our parents were pretty game for letting us play it all the time, but the fun times far outweighed the small accidents. In July I think we should resurrect the ghost.

It looks like I have come up with quite a few ideas to fill the weekend and this will probably spread over a few stays. My only hope – that my nephew’s visits will be filled with the fun memories of play, that I am lucky enough to have.

Day 4: Phone Zone

Monday 04 Jun 2012

How did we ever survive without smart phones? You can check your email, Facebook, bank, play games, Google, make a grocery list… I could go on, but you get the idea. The list of reasons to have your head stuck in your phone is just about endless.

I was at a conference for work earlier in the year and one of the presenters was discussing the use of a particular smart phone app in the workplace. He was promoting the use of the app as a learning tool but as a bit of humour showed two photos. The first was of his tea room three years ago. There was a group of women sitting around and to be honest I didn’t really know where he was going, as it looked like a pretty typical scene. The second photo was of the tea-room this year and the difference was obvious – almost without exception, every person in the shot was looking into their phone.

Sometimes I feel like a zombie possessed, scrolling, rolling, flicking screens back and forth –  Google, bank, email, text, email. Honestly there is so much to catch up on there is barely enough time to eat on my break let alone talk to co-workers!

You guessed it – todays rule for the rest of the month is no phone in the tea room – to see if my phone is causing me to disconnect from colleagues in favour of technology.  This morning, as I went on my break I grabbed it out of my locker as habit but remembered my rule so diligently returned it before going for morning tea. I was sitting next to my friend making plans and she (as is normal) picked up her phone and started surfing for info, dates etc. – all the necessary stuff to make more definite plans. I felt a little bit like a cheater, but I suppose, it wasn’t my phone and after all this is a personal experiment. Besides – I wanted to know the information she was looking up! After a quick update of my emails in the locker room I returned to work, with no difference in not having my phone.

Lunch however was another story. With a longer break I had more time to kill. I remembered I had to find a local company – of course, my initial reaction was to quick draw my phone from my pocket – but no – this was now a no phone zone! I decided to look it up in the phone book after my break – something I hadn’t done in ages. So with my head up instead of buried into my phone I started talking to my neighbour about the weather. I would normally have had brief exchanges in between doing my very important jobs, but today I was involved in the conversation. We ended up in fits of laughter.

Break done and it’s time to tackle my errand. I asked our receptionist where the phone book lived. Seeing me rifling through the yellow pages a couple of people came up and asked me what I was looking up – maybe the deed was foreign to them now as well! I was amazed that two people had really great suggestions to my dilemma. Because of their advice, I saved time and money and didn’t even have to look up the local company I was after. If I had just searched it in my phone I would have had about thirty listings in two seconds. Very fast, very effective, job done, tick it off the list. But… I would not have had the laughs in the tea room and I probably would not have thought of the alternative that was suggested to me.

I know that this outcome could have come in a number of other ways – but the fact remains, it did eventuate as a direct result of introducing a no phone zone. One point for reconnecting.

Day 3: Picture This

Sunday 03 Jun 2012

Image

Today was a special day for Cairns as it hosted the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival. Athletes of all calibre took to the ocean, streets and parklands to test themselves and push past their own expectations. The feature event – the gruelling Ironman Cairns is not for the faint hearted with a 3.8km swim, 180km bike leg up to Port Douglas and a 42.2km run back into Cairns city. As I write this they are still racing and will be well into the afternoon.

I got up early to support many friends who, for most, have trained harder and more intensely than ever before in their life. I felt so excited and proud of every participant. As they exited the water and ran the stretch to the first transition, each face told a different story: determination, pain, joy, and pride. You could see the elite athletes run first and the crowd cheered. As the line trickled past and we started to see the average Joe and Janes the cheering continued. I think it was loudest though, for those that had overcome challenges like age and weight and were out there giving it their all.

Normally I would have taken my iPhone to capture the snaps of the day. It’s easier to put them straight on to Facebook or to instantly send them to people. Today however, I decided to go to the effort to take our SLR camera. I was so glad I did. The photo quality is improved ten fold. With the speed of the camera I was able to capture their achievements and am eagerly looking forward to being able to show them. This may take a day or two to print but I am sure they will appreciate it when I give them quality glossy photos of their day.

Now, I must run (pun intended) to go catch them at the finish.

Day 2: Phone a Friend

Saturday 02 Jun 2012

As part of looking into the Facebook phenomenon with greater scrutiny, I was wandering down memory lane by going through my Facebook message history. I realised that I hadn’t actually talked to one particular friend since leaving the UK six years ago. We had chatted on Facebook IM and left messages dotted here and there over the years, briefly catching each other up on our lives, but we hadn’t talked. I decided I wanted to.

I realised that I, of course, had no contact number for her now. So I used Facebook (yes before facing off) to send her a message asking for her number. Low and behold she was on-line at the very time! We couldn’t avoid it and started to catch each other up over Facebook IM… but I reminded myself that I wanted to actually call her.

I admit, it was a little strange at first, the concept of just catching up over the phone. It’s not something that we did anymore.

Nowadays it is quicker, easier and simpler to text, Facebook or IM. We get the point across (unless it is misconstrued – a fairly common occurrence) without the hassle of chit-chat.  But this chit-chat is where all the extra stuff comes from. Things we never thought to ask about. With other means of communication we tend to get the bones of conversation but are missing out on the flesh.

My friend gave me her knew phone number as well as her Skype account and we organised a good day and time to chat (there are time differences where we live now). I thought about it and although I had intended an old-fashioned phone call, I wasn’t about to shoot myself in the foot by paying the international call fee when we could Skype.

As the computer dialled the number I actually felt nervous! This was silly really. This was my friend and we were after all – just catching up. In theory this was the same thing we had been doing by other methods for years.

As soon as I heard her voice I was reassured. I could see her in front of me and hear her familiar accent. I hadn’t realised how much this accent was an integral part of my memories of my friend. I had been missing out on it for years!

We had a long talk and, as is the way with old friends, we found ourselves winding down paths of the past as well as the future.

As I pressed the red bar ending the conversation I felt overwhelmed with a sense of belonging, with reassurance. My friend is real and our friendship still there. The best part – we have reconnected. The groundwork is laid and the door open for future communication. The phone is on the hook.

Day 1: FACEOFF

Friday 01 Jun 2012

A few months ago – after not posting on Facebook for a while I found myself asking the question – if I don’texist on Facebook, will I fail to exist to people? I wondered – will I slip to the back of their consciousness? Do I have to stay in the forefront of people’s thoughts to have value? But then I thought… do I actually care if my 205 ‘friends’ don’t know what I had for breakfast?

Facebook seems to be less about communication with people and more about portraying a version of yourself to the world. I have a friend who recently posted that Facebookshould be renamed Fakebook. Let’s be honest – most of us at least think about the image of ourselves we are sharing.

I have – like many I’m sure – createdsecret groups on Facebook; groups of friends you can talk to without the rest of Facebook seeing. Isn’t it funny that you have to be secretive on your own wall? Resorting to hiding from Facebook within Facebook. How did we get here?

This Facebook entity knows how old I am, my birthday, sexual orientation, upcoming events, where I am (on a map now no less), what I buy, who I message. There are people I see on a daily basis that don’t know that much about me.

Why is this social phenomenon becoming so infective? Why do I Facebook? The easy answer – I am scared of cutting off the Facebook arm.

Latelythough, overriding the fear is the desire to spend time with the people my life in actual communication.

I’ve wondered if we are losing the ability to talk to our friends? I’m sure we’ve all caught ourselves in the conversation ‘Oh Hi so and so, oh you bought a car/got divorced/have a headache, yeah I know, I saw it on Facebook.’ Gone is the thrill of sharing news and the unplanned responses. We are missing all the joy of telling people things.

Think back to January 2004, not that long ago – there was no Facebook. The exponential growth of this phenomenon is astounding, and it begs the question – how far will Facebook, reach? Where will we see ourselves in the next few short years? Will one day we exist on social networking alone?

Recently, I mistakenly thought a close friend had shared important news – via Facebook alone. I didn’t really believe it, but niggling somewhere in the back of my mind was a seed of doubt. It makes sense doesn’t it? Tell everyone in one group message…. I tried to rationalise it but couldn’t shake the feeling of unease. When I realised I had just missed the late night text message due to poor reception, all was right with the world once again. It did get me thinking though. What really important news have people discovered via Facebook?

Becoming aware of the Facebook influence was sudden, but my decision to Faceoff was gradual. I became hyperaware of my Facebook usage. I couldn’t post. Every time I went to post a thought/ message/ feeling/ action, something inside prevented me from hitting send. I couldn’t see the point. Or more truthfully – perhaps I could. Why was I sharing this version of myself? Was it true? What did I hope to expect? Who was I hoping to attract a response from?

Just when I thought there was no benefit to Facebook along came Joseph Kony and the plight of the Invisible Children. At last, I thought, here is a positive use for social networking. The possibilities seemed endless. I thought – do I really want to turn away from the untapped potential of this media? I was caught in the hype. I thought this would really impact and could possibly shape our future. But it flopped – in a massive  way. Why was something that was viral one month, non-existent the next? Why didn’t it translate to the streets? Is Gen Y so flippant and attention deficit? Did we lose faith? I say webecause I had great plans and ideas to Cover the Night but when it came down to it I didn’t participate either.

In the lead up there was such hype, I thought everyone else around the world would be doing so much that if I didn’t put up my one lot of posters it wouldn’t really matter. Maybe that’s what many thought. People expected everyone else to act because the hype was so powerful and yet, it did not translate to real life.

Is it like the reality television voting situation? You are so sure that everyone will vote for someone, so you don’t vote for them and then whoosh – it’s time to leave the island!

Or is it that the faceless on-line world leaves us with little real responsibility? Is it easier to pretend that it’s not us that people are talking to? We don’t have to respond because there are so many people in the group they aren’t really looking at individuals.  With all it’s social connection is Gen Y becoming invisible – are we invisible children?

All night I have been thinking about Facing off today. I had to post a final message so that people would know where I was going. I thought about notdoing this and seeing what happened. But I decided against it. I don’t want to disappear – part of my purpose is to re-connect with people not disconnect.

In 2010, research was published in the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Reasearch which claimed that students who used but decided to quit social media showed the same withdrawl symptoms as drug addicts quitting their stimulant.

Ok I’m not there, but I was pretty anxious about singing off this morning. I spent some time making sure I could get back on, I re-assigned groups to enable them to continue without me. I scrolled though the news feed one last time and checked for any last minute notifications. Yes, I’ll admit, I was procrastinating.

Once I hit the final confirm button (Facebook has a few sneaky tricks to try to get you to stay) I was strangely relieved. This might just be because I have been thinking about doing this for so long it is a relief to finally be here, but maybe it is more. We shall see.

Sayonara Facebook!

GEB Y AM I – THIS SIMPLE DAY

Gen Y – am I? Why indeed? Why do I spend so much time glued to my iPhone, checking and updating Facebook? Why do I tell so many my thoughts and feelings? Why do I capture photos to instantly upload and ‘share’? Why do I need to check my emails constantly?

Do you ever get the feeling like you just want to opt out? I don’t want to twitter, I don’t want a kindle, I don’t want Google Docs. I’m happy with the level of technology I have to contend with in my life. But if I stop ‘upgrading’ will I lose touch? Will I be forever trapped in this technological point in time, unable to catch up? Am I simply reaching an age where I not only want to not only remember, but stick to, ‘the good old days’? Are the changes in our society resulting from the technology boom causing us to feel more connectedand yet more isolated than ever before? We are feeling our way through being exposed in an unprecedented manner. Sometimes, I feel like we are just coping with the world we have created.

I am going to conduct a social experiment to try to discover how I feel about the 21st century and the impact it has on my life. I’m going to scale back the Gen Y influence – one day at a time.

I am going back to basics. I am going to try things I have never learnt. I am going to take time to do things ‘the old way’ and hopefully re-discover the beauty in the simple.

My partner and I moved to a little place they call the village in the rainforest a year ago. It is a beautiful place to live and has a historical reputation as a hippy town. I still work in the city so daily I commute from hippy life to city life.

We haven’t had TV since we moved here and although it was partly due to poor reception we made a conscious decision not to get cable. The enormous benefits from not having TV – that I did not realise were even missing – can not be underestimated. It got me thinking… what else do I have in my life that, whilst I feel is a good thing, actually detracts from my life?

I anticipate both positive and negative outcomes, apart from that I don’t really know where it is going to lead. All I do know – I am excited, and looking forward to the journey.

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