Monday, September 29, 2014

Late night philosophy - asserting ego...

The Grumpy Old Man and I had a conversation last night about why people feel the need to 'be somebody'. It really got me thinking. Of all the people I have known who have died, none of them were 'somebody', in the sense of being famous, or contributing to human existence in a way that is remembered by the masses long after they lived.

They were all good people, they lived good lives.

The Grumpy Old Man was remembering an old friend of his who lived in apparently misery his entire life, and commented that his life was 'such a waste', I countered with the idea that the misery of that men created a benchmark for other people, in as much as if some people weren't miserable all their lives, other people wouldn't have something by which to measure their happiness.

So much of our societal experience is about 'success', and the definition of success varies considerably. Some people believe money is success, and the more you have of it, the more successful you are. Others believe love is success, and the more love people have for you, the more successful you are. For some, being married, or otherwise partnered is a measure of success. For others inventing something that is used in every household is what it takes to be successful. For some, it is saving lives; think doctor, firefighters, scientist, police, and social workers.

For some it is prestige, the admiration of family, friends and strangers.

And all of it is transitory.

I find great comfort in that.

One day no one will remember who I am. My great, great, great grandchildren might come across my name one day when doing a family tree activity at school, but it will only be a name, and will hold no real meaning for them. Because, essentially I am dust.

You see, it reminds me that we are all one. We are then ever moving mass of energy that passes from here to there, intrinsically connected to one another. No matter how we try to assert ourselves beyond that mass, to say, 'Look at me, I'm special!', we will always return to the mass, and we will forever just be.

This means we are never forgotten, really. The good people and the miserable people alike, are worth exactly the same weight in the end. The Mother Theresa, and the child who never breathed oxygen are just as valuable. So are the monsters, they return to the energy as well, and are diluted into insignificance, or at least as much significance are the most powerless person on the planet.

All my adult life I have had the goal of being a Docter of Philosophy, to achieve this goal will make me very happy, but it won't make me more than heroine addicted waif at the train station.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Such beautiful weather!

Spring finally found Melbourne! Not surprising really, like clockwork it wait until the Spring equinox, and every farmer knows that is really when Spring kicks in.  From today the days will be longer, and the nights will be shorter, more sunlight hours means two things; an overall rise in temperatures, and a much happier Sif.

My affectation by the seasons is legendary.

Another reason I'm feeling much lighter today (besides the fact I have classic Wham! blaring through my headphones) is that I just handed in a draft of my conference paper to the my associate supervisor. Being a draft, I expect it will need a bit of work to polish up for submission in a week's time, but having a week to get that work done feels almost like a holiday!

I kind of feel that researching and writing this paper has been a big deviation from my thesis writing. In particular I haven't written anything creative towards this thesis in a while (I'm still writing creatively, but not stuff I would be submitting for the thesis). It makes me nervous. What if I lose touch with what I'm trying to do?

Meanwhile, I have found a theory - or maybe it is theories, I need to investigate further - which I can use to support my thesis, and that means I've found theorists whose work I feel an affinity with. I knew there had to be someone out there thinking the same thinks I've been thinking, but if, as a researcher, you don't have the exact terms, it can take a lot of scratching about to find the people and works that are relevant to what you are doing.

Anyway, today is all warm and summery and right now I have no work to stress about. So, I'm going to take an early mark and go buy some yarn for the two blankets I started a while ago!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Cause...

I'm not sure that I'm particularly sensitive, but I have the ability to see anger. That is, I can walk into a room, or read something in a book, or on the net and it's like there is a thin, red film over what I'm perceiving, and that film is anger. I also see other emotions, a yellow film for joy, a green film for peace, and orange film for love and so on, but anger is the one that stands out.

I have a tendency to surround myself with intelligent, reflective people. People who are concerned about society and what is happening in society. These people almost invariably have a favourite cause, be it animal rights, children's rights, women's rights, or more generally human rights.

Unfortunately, this means I'm exposed to a lot of anger. It is unavoidable unless I cocoon myself away in a room by myself, and sometimes I do.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not immune to righteous anger (I use that term very loosely as righteous has negative overtones and is very subjective). I feel it myself, often. Some days though, the anger around me is overwhelming.

When every post on Facebook, and every conversation is about hating the haters, I wonder if people really are all that reflective? Can people not see how all the anger just increases anger in the world. If you see the world as a horrible, dangerous place, you train yourself to mistrust, to be wary, to fear, all the time. You see mistreatment everywhere.

I just don't feel this will solve the worlds problems.

I saw this poster the other day...

source
Instead of fighting oppression, or fighting animal cruelty, or fighting religious extremists (whoever they may be), perhaps it would be more fruitful to extend love and peace. Instead of looking for and pointing out every vile practice or attitude, it might be more fruitful to exalt the positives, to look for where things are going right.

Not giving an audience to hatred or oppression is not the same as ignoring it or pretending it doesn't exist, it is simply not giving it oxygen to thrive. Every time we point out where other people are wrong, we rub someone the wrong way and increase the pain in the world. That pain goes on to proliferate and this is how fear, hurt, and anger gain a foot hold.

I'll add another poster in here, that I have posted before.


I want to feed the good wolf. I want to add love and compassion and understanding to the world. I want to see more of the green film of peace over everything.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I need to learn to sew...

I'm in that terrible position where I have a favour style of pants... These...


I have three pair. They're from Oh My Gauze and they are no longer in production! My three pair are becoming threadbare (that will happen with clothing made from gauze), and they are now very difficult to track down online. 

The design is very simple, they're a basic wide-legged pant which is gathered in pleats at the bottom and hemmed into a wide band. I would say a person with basic machine sewing skills could probably make them.

I need to learn how to sew! STAT!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Nine kinds of Crazy...

The title of this post describes the last week for me.

Last week we had the parent/teacher/student conferences at the high school for the older two boys. That was hard work. Both boys seem to be struggling with concepts of responsibility, commitment and hard work.

I'm trying to be understanding. Puberty is a tough time. There is so much going on, and most of it is way more interesting than doing school work, but how do I get them to understand that teachers works hard to prepare classes and having students who don't pay attention, muck around with their friends, or simply refuse to turn up because they've decided they're no longer interested in the class is not only rude, but also letting themselves down.

Two of Lukas' teachers were set to jump over the desk and throttle him. I said to one that she seemed fed up, she replied that that was quite an understatement. The other teacher, a rather hip looking, friendly sort, started out mildly perplexed and by the end of the 8 minute meeting was white around the edges with pent up fury.

Another teacher, who tried to be more compassionate, and who we know to be very easy-going on kids, just seemed confused that Lukas couldn't put together sort science report each week. Especially when his lab partner was doing all the note taking on his laptop and all Lukas really needed to do was compose his own conclusions.

Lukas seems to be in something of a bromance with a school pal. Year six was very difficult for Lukas on the friendship front, and so I think he is relieved to have a large group of friends and one close friend in particular, but it seems he defers to this friend when it comes to classroom attitude and behaviour, and is also keen to amuse his friend, and in doing this he is seriously pissing off his teachers.

Erik didn't fair much better. He has been skipping on class regularly this term because he felt the workload was interfering with his other school work, so rather than approaching the teacher to discuss this (and negotiate the workload, which is absolutely possible at this school), he decided to avoid the class altogether. He has improved in English, so he had one happy teacher. His sports teachers said he was a natural leader, but needed to be aware of how he has the power to influence other students for good but also for not so good. His maths teacher is living in denial, I think, and not doing him any favours with her overly positivist attitude to his ability in maths (it's great that she wants to encourage him, but she's not seeing the forest for the trees).

On Wednesday we had a well overdue rental inspection. So all day Wednesday was spent tidying and cleaning, so that the real estate agent could walk through the house in less than five minutes, snapping off photos of each room, then leave.

Thursday my dad arrived unannounced. It is always great to see him, but I have to admit I was already exhausted before he arrived and then the upheaval of having an unexpected guest just wiped me out. He stayed the night and there was much wandering down memory lane and some sharing of difficult news, so it was emotionally quite a tough 24 hours.

Saturday, I stayed in bed all day. Even so, I could not relax. I think I'm far too tightly wound at the moment. One good thing to come out of Saturday was that the Grumpy Old Man located my birth certificate, finally. I STILL haven't received the birth certificate I spent $70 odd on well over a month ago now. When that finally arrives, at least I'll have two.

Yesterday I went to my brother's again. It seems I've stuffed up the healing of the fob watch I had down the previous weekend. Mike has given me new instructions for rectifying the situation and it will take a while longer to heal now, and then he'll have to redo do the entire tattoo.

I did have a new one done though - still working on that half sleeve on my right arm...


I am so, so happy with this original design! This is only the linework and shading - colouring will be added to it in a couple of weeks or so. The left eye cog represents my blind left eye. And, of course, owls represent education and wisdom (one of which I am gaining, the other I hope to have one day).

Today, I'm back in the office after a week. I have just finished doing, what I hope, will be the last of my secretary duties for MASC. I do need to add a couple of members to the membership spreadsheet, but that's okay. I need to be finished with this role, it is distracting me from my work.

I really need to get my head around this paper, which is now due in 15 days (not including today). I think I need to let go of the chapter I wrote previously and instead focus on writing a tight outline and then filling that in. Start from scratch, so to speak, but use parts from the chapter as fillers in the paper (possibly rewritten, but using the quotes and references I used before). Starting that outline will be this afternoon's work.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Hi there Spring...

We made it!

Winter is done and dusted for another year and we survived, yay us!

Actually, Melbourne is doing it wrong again, weather wise. We have amazing sunny, warm weather last week, but yesterday - the very first day of spring - the barometer dropped through the floor with a sonic boom!

Oh well, it won't be long until it warms up again.

In light of that I've gotten stuck into my tattoos again.

So, augmenting the existing book and smoke tattoo which was left unfinished from last summer. Now, keep in mind a few things. First and foremost, the tattoo is not finished yet, not by a long shot. Basically, this last weekend we mapped out the butterflies and got the outlines inked. Also, these outlines are rough, and need smoothing. Also, the ink is still oozing a bit in this picture and the wound is very, very fresh and I tend to puff up a fair bit. So, keep all those things in mind. We're giving this one a rest for a couple of weeks, to heal. Then we'll go in and smooth it out and add colour and highlights. We'll go over the book as well to freshen that up. And there may be another element added that I've thought of, but haven't brought up with Mike yet. Oh, these butterflies are glass wing butterflies, so there won't be colour added to the main part of the wings, but rather to the tips and edges.

Next weekend we're adding to the feather tattoo on the other arm. We'll be added three new elements (not all in one sitting), so stay tuned.

On the PhD front, I have this month to nail down the paper for peer review via the conference in Wellington. Speaking of the conference, I STILL haven't receive my birth certificate which I spent an extra $50 to have sent within 5 working days almost a MONTH ago! I'm going to ask for a refund, seriously!

I have a lead on writing another peer reviewed paper for an online publication. So, that's something else to get excited about.

What else? Oh yes, the boys did their 5 year high school plan on the weekend. Lukas is going to do Elite Music with a second string in business management and Erik will do Elite Art (when it starts in 2016, until then he's doing Art Elective and Studio Art, and his second string will be philosophy - these choices aren't set in stone, of course, but this is what they think they'll be interested in doing for now. Neither boy wants to deviate from the regular start time, which actually surprises me, I thought for sure they're opt for the 10.30 start. Another interesting point (for me, anyway) is that Erik, who loathes maths, has opted to do three units of maths where he only really needs to do one to pass VCE.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why I love my blog...

This week has been full on, man!

Our younger two boys had school musical performances in the ambition 'Seussical the Musical' on Monday and Tuesday nights. The Grumpy Old Man and I attended the Tuesday night encore performance and had front row seats to see our little cuties with all their school pals. I was really impressed. This was a proper musical with a story arch and speaking parts and the whole she-bang. The new performing arts teacher has excelled himself! It was very entertaining, our boys, though both had chorus roles, were awesome!

Bryn in the red tshirt, singing!


Ari making absolutely sure mummy can see him!
 On Wednesday night we attended an information session for the older boys' individualised learning plans for next year (and beyond). It was AMAZING. Our high school is AMAZING! It wouldn't be for everyone, but oh my it certainly is for us, and I will blog about everything we learned in the next couple of days.

Today I have been working on the finishing touches for tomorrow's AGM for the Mature Age Student Club. I spent all of Monday doing updating the membership spreadsheets, writing the agenda, locating the minutes from last year and so on. Today I updated the membership spreadsheets again, and printed out a whole lot of stuff for the meeting tomorrow, as well as writing up the secretary's report.

I have been talking a lot about being stressed lately, and you will be relieved to hear that I am now taking steps to relieve some of the stress. I will be seeing a GP on Monday, partially to get forms filled in to apply for the Grumpy Old Man to become mine and Erik's carer (I am currently Erik's carer), but also to get mental health plans for myself and Erik.

But here is why I love my blog. I overshare a fair bit on here. It's easy, I don't have a lot of concept that anyone is really reading my posts. I do see the visitors on Statcounter, but well, people don't often comment, so it's hard to feel exposed, so to speak. But this week I received an email from a reader who has emailed me before. It was really supportive and had some great advice, and so I asked the reader for permission to post the contents of the email here, as she gave me permission.

I love hearing from my readers!

Dear Sif 

What a bundle you are carrying - you must do something. When I was an apprentice in a printing factory sometimes there was so much to do and customers where scolding, colleges were yelling for their jobs handed over to them and I was in tears as nothing happened to change things or lessen the stress. An old typographer then said: If you take the jobs that take the least time to finish, no matter where they are in the line, you can handle then over to the printers and they will shut up while printing them and your desk will look less heavy and your eyes see that something happened. It is not always that you have to do things for them that yell loudest, you have to do things so you can live with them and save yourself so you can work some more. 
Much truth is in this. And if one lifts up the whole packet at once (as I think you are doing) it becomes so heavy and the sight gets clogged and filled completely by this packet.  

Dear Sif, do untangle your tasks and heavy burden, lay it out and ask yourself: What can I finish now and then shovel it away? What can be done in next week or the week after so I get piece to enjoy the things I do next? 

I ask you to forgive me for "preaching" like an old aunt but I have been were you are now. Worries only make us sick and carelessness does that also. So it is the hard-to-find-way of the middle course. 

Púff.Yours Thora Elfa
Thank you Thora, I will most definitely be taking your advice and untangling my tasks!

In other good news: last night I received a 'heads up' about a symposium being held here are Deakin in collaboration with my alma mata (Canberra University) at the beginning of October. I've put my hand up to present at the symposium, so hopefully I will get to do that and it will add to my experience and exposure!

I have decided to ask around about what I need to do about getting some sort of work at Deakin (either research or tutoring, but actually I'd be willing to do anything at this point) because I really need some form of income if I'm going to continue this PhD.


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