Ramblings

The little box here on WordPress is telling me it’s a month since I’ve written anything here. Where has the time gone?

Actually, I do know. I’ve been kept busy with the business side of things. It’s been interesting times as I’ve been grappling with learning more about new fangled way of doing things. It’s really interesting! It also takes up way too much time.

Do you share this WordPress Dilemma is a post I recently did for Dragon Sisters, but I’m thinking many of my followers here may find this helpful. Then again maybe you guys already knew all this about WordPress? If not, hopefully it’ll help you avoid my dilemma.

Since it does not look like I’ll be heading back to Europe in the near future, I’ve registered (at the suggestion of one of my clients) with the NT Department of Business as a consultant. This means NT businesses which are eligible for funding from the Department are able to choose from a list of consultants and I’m one of them.

Welcome to Brussels
Welcome to Brussels – not any more!

Speaking of Europe – I’m feeling very sad tonight that the vote has been for the UK to leave the European Union.  A good friend of mine wrote this after we heard the news:

 

Now comes the hard part.

Young people and others who wanted a different outcome but didn’t bother voting have to face up to the consequences of the abdication of their civic duty.

A huge task of reconciling a divided nation in which the divisions have been etched in with a diamond-tipped, power-driven electoral chisel:

Young v Old;
North v South;
Regions v Metropolitan Areas;
Rural v Urban;
Scotland and N Ireland v England and Wales;
Right v Left;
Blairites v Corbynites;
Ukippers/Brexiteers v Centre Right/One Nation Tories,
English/Welsh v EU/Non EU migrants (now all feeling unwelcome);

The hardest part of all will be in how to appease the 52% who voted Leave, when they eventually realise that absolutely nothing (not one iota of anything that matters – mark my words) will change.

Nothing will quite literally change for about 2 years, until the steps are completed to disengage.

After disengagement, immigration rates will continue at current levels (see why below).

After disengagement, identical payments to access EU markets will continue (otherwise more EU referendums will follow).

After disengagement, almost identical terms of EU trade will be negotiated (otherwise more EU referendums will follow).

EU migrants will continue to come (armed with easily acquired visas issued by overseas embassies and consulates authorized to make decisions regardless of the wishes of Brexiteers).

New UK laws passed to replace repealed EU laws will look indistinguishable from the laws they replace, to fit in with international health, employment and safety standards and international law.

The unskilled still be under pressure as large scale manufacturing and agriculture and other sources of casual and unskilled labour evolve increasingly mechanised production systems.

In only the time it takes for hardworking, aspirational second generation migrants to graduate from university (as most of them end up doing) and enter the labour market, there will be a sudden dawning realisation.

The jobs that neither we, nor our children and grandchildren (nor the children and grandchildren of first generation migrants) want to do – cooking,

work place cleaning,
building site labouring,
fruit & veg picking,
shelf stacking,
shopkeeping,
bus driving,
bus/train attendants
nursing,
nannying,
housekeeping,
janitorial duties,
street sweeping,
night security work,
delivery driving,
post office till work,
super market till work,
department store till work,
grave digging,
elderly care work,
social child care work,
mental health care work……
Many NHS staff….

………..it will eventually dawn on everyone that the only way to get these societally essential jobs done, will be to let in some more migrants.

Migrants are good for the country – regardless of whether it is UK or Australia. I’m a migrant as are so many others and we all have a good work ethic and no sense of entitlement.

Ignorance is what causes fear. Fear of what is not understood.  Education, both of the formal and travel the world kind, is the key to breaking the cycle.

The older I get, the more I appreciate all the experiences I have lived. I am thankful to have travelled extensively, to have received a great formal eduction as well through my life growing up globally. I am very fortunate to have friends from so many different nations. Our skin colours and religious beliefs have no bearing on our friendships and I am doubly pleased this has passed on to both my children.

Time for me to get off my soap box.

Goodnight all!

Michelle

My European interlude is coming to a close

Whilst I have enjoyed every moment of being in Europe and have loved teaching, mentoring and coaching, it is time to return to Australia – at least for a while.

I have cherished being in my little apartment and not having to worry about anything except myself and meeting a few deadlines. Well, OK, more than a few! I’ll admit that I haven’t entirely squirreled myself away in beautiful Ecija; I have kept up with clients and projects and taken on new ventures further afield thanks to modern communications, but I have made the most of my idyll here and been very present to the charms of a different culture and life experience, including the cold winter! I extend my heartfelt thanks to all those here who have been part of this wonderful sojourn for me. As usual, it is the people who make the experience special.

San Juan, EcijaI’ve needed these months alone to renew. To focus on what is important to me. The past 3 years have passed in a blur where I hardly had a moment to myself so it has been a real luxury to just be able to run my own timetable. I thoroughly enjoyed coming home to a quiet apartment, to spending weekends exploring local sites, or sometimes venturing further afield to Seville, Granada, Cordoba or Malaga. I had no one to worry about except myself. It might sound selfish, but actually it’s been more of a lifesaver than anything else and once again, it has given me an additional opportunity to develop and grow as an individual which provides additional experiential tools that I am able to bring to my work.

Sasha's graduation day - Batchelor of Journalism
Sasha’s graduation day – Batchelor of Journalism from Bond University

During this time in Europe I have been able to consider what it is that I really need in life to feel content. When my husband of 30 years decided to leave, and I bought him out of the house, it was a massive struggle to stay afloat financially, but I’ve managed. I only bought the house so my kids had a home base. I had a 5 year plan, of which the largest part was to see Sasha (who was then 16) successfully finish school and then university. Once Sasha graduated, I was in a position to pursue the next stage of my plan, which was to base myself in Europe for a year.

Whilst here, living a simple Spanish lifestyle, without the trappings that go with having a family home, I’ve come to the conclusion that, on a personal level, I actually need very little to live on. I can be happy in the moment as long as I know that my family is cared for and safe. It’ll be five years this August since Steve and I split up. It’s been tough for me, but at the same time liberating and life affirming as I know we (Wayne, Sasha and I) can manage on our own. Together we look after the house, each other and our dogs. We’ve become a closer family unit even if it meant a bit of a struggle at times. I feel that the kids and I have bonded more closely, and it’s also been a defining moment for both of them as they have stepped up to take more responsibilities. We have jointly made decisions about our future directions and I am extremely proud of the two beautiful people that they are.

It is now time to sit down and decide what the next step will be. What do I really want to do?
Michelle

Setting a course for happiness

540447_296256847127709_197996310287097_675934_299281390_nI’ve been a bit busy since my return from Granada and not had much time for personal blogging. However, I have been busy writing for my clients and just written this article on Happiness, as part of a self-care series, which appeared on the Simple Meetings website. You may like to check it out. The actual site has some great tools for managing agenda’s in real-time that allows team members to collaborate and thus opens up more time to concentrate on other business.

If you find the tips useful, I’d love to receive your feedback either here or directly in Simple Meetings as a comment.

On a personal note, I’m very happy to report I had a fantastic trip to Granada and I’m also delighted to have my son visiting me here in Spain at the moment.

Michelle

The joys of a real letter

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Views as I approach and leave the  post office. Ecija, Andalucia

My definition of a real letter is one that’s handwritten, popped in an envelope and finished off with a paper postage stamp featuring something eyecatching and unique to the country of origin.

Here in Ecija it’s not possible for me to buy a supply of stamps for Australia and just wack them on a letter to toss in the post box. I can get them for Europe but no futher.  I have to physically visit the post office, hand the letter over the counter where they smack an ugly rubber stamp on to show I’ve paid and eventually my letter will arrive in my parents letter box in Queensland.

Memories of days at boarding school, long school breaks at home and the angst of waiting for the post to bring news from friends and family, exotic stamps from far away lands and the flutter of anticipation as I pulled the carefully folded sheets from their envelope all came flooding back to me as I meandered down the cobbled streets.

I usually knew who a letter was from simply by glancing at the handwriting. If a letter was from someone special I used to wait until I could find a private spot before carefully opening the envelope to savour the contents. Many letters I would read and re-read. Some I would rush to answer and then hot foot it to the post office to catch the next mail.

There is an authenticity to handwritten correspondence as it’s seldom to re-write a letter (unless it’s one of those rare job applications that demand a handwritten letter).  Thoughts are allowed to tumble across the page pretty much as they form in our minds. It’s this element which makes the handwritten item so personal and special. With a typed letter is all too easy to delete, replace, spell-check and more.

Handwritten letters are very revealing and I don’t mean in the sense of a formal evaluation. The mood of the writer is evident; rushed or relaxed; happy or sad; irritated or euphoric. Lots of scribbles in the margins and PS’s meant they had more to say after they’d finished. Watermarks (tears or perspiration drops), coffee stains, ink blotches (if you used fountain pen), crossing outs and the occasional food splats also appeared on letters between very close family and friends. I think of letters as having personality.

My English grandmother instilled in me that a proper letter should be written on Basildon Bond stationery. I always wrote my thank you letters after a weekend with friends but since I moved to Australia so many years ago, there haven’t been those occasions. Instead we send emails to each other or make a phone call.

I still have a small stash of special letters tucked away. They are part of my history, testament to special relationships and friendships that an email or typed letter can never hope to compete with. A real letter lasts a lifetime and beyond.

I used to be known as a very good letter writer, but since the advent of emails these have dropped more and more by the wayside. I write to my parents, my niece and a few old friends who don’t have emails.  I’m resolving to write more real letters over the coming months even if the electronic versions are faster and cheaper.

Michelle

Appreciating the English language

As a reader and a writer from way back, I’ve always enjoyed the richness of the largeEnglish language. Words paints a vivid picture for the reader and the text just seems to effortlessly flow when the author hits upon the right combination. In contrast the wrong choices of structure and vocabulary, cause even the most interesting material to become cumbersome.

Whilst I’ve always appreciated the wide selection of vocabulary available, I’ve never really given it a great deal of through until recently. To be more precise, it’s been my move into the world of teaching English to speakers of other languages that has caused me to pause and think on the vagaries, complexities and challenges that English provides.

You might like to check out this blog which is updated each Saturday with the word of the day. It comes with a short story using that particular word. It often introduces me to new vocabulary and the stories are interesting reads.

As I grow older I appreciate how very fortunate I am to have grown up as a native English speaker, but more so to have met people from so many different countries who also speak English as their first language albeit, with varying accents and expressions.  It’s this wide international experience, coupled with my formal training that has helped me become a more effective teacher. There are so many different ways to say the same thing that it’s no wonder people studying English get confused!

Michelle

Reflecting on my blog

I’ve been reviewing my blog title and, although I chose this title four years ago (13 June 2011) I have decided that it accurately reflects what I want to portray. The tag line “sharing news, views and ideas” is exactly what I’m doing on this blog. If you’re a newer follower you can read my very first post here to learn why I decided to blog.

I’ve considered seperating the blog, especially the travel section, but then decided to just keep it all in the one place as it represents me as does the title of my blog.

Blogging is a wonderful way to way to keep in touch with a large amount of people and one of the unexpected bonuses that I’ve experienced is the connection with other bloggers.

Michelle