Friday, March 30, 2012

Brand New Yellow Brick Road

A few years ago I stood at another cross road in my life.
I was very fortunate to have the guidance of a mentor who took the time to call me out on what I was doing to myself and to help me start to put one foot in front of the other and move forward again.
For a long time the only way I could set such strong feelings and powerful moments straight in my mind was to write songs.
Tonight, I share it with you.

Brand New Yellow Brick Road 
by Amy Brooke Chatwin (1st November, 2009)

Well I returned from Wonderland a year ago
With a room full of pictures and head full of dreams
Lost something and found a whole lot more
Guess the old truth wasn't what it seemed
We all fought to try and find that before time again
But it was finally over and no one saw the end
I pushed it all aside, hid the new girl deep inside
Became a blank just to survive

Somehow you saw the lost soul in my eyes
I thought I'd finally covered her up
But you saw through that disguise
I told you too many times that I was fine
You took the time to call me out on my lies
Now I'm broken but I'm building
You led me back to the beginning
Made me start again
Find out for myself just who I'm meant to be

And I'm a little scared
Will someone be there to hold my hand
Never done much alone before
What happens if I take that step
And find a world beyond all I've ever known
What if somehow I have stumbled onto
A brand new yellow brick road
If I start this journey I may never come back
What if my old dreams don't fit me when I've grown

Somehow you saw the lost soul in my eyes
I thought I'd finally covered her up
But you saw through that disguise
I told you too many times that I was fine
You took the time to call me out on my lies
Now I'm broken but I'm building
You led me back to the beginning
Made me start again
Find out for myself just who I'm meant to be

So here I am back at the beginning
Ruby slippers on the road
Starting again
With three clicks here I go.....

Somehow you saw the lost soul in my eyes
I thought I'd finally covered her up
But you saw through that disguise
I told you too many times that I was fine
You took the time to call me out on my lies
Now I'm broken but I'm building
You led me back to the beginning
Made me start again
Find out for myself just who I'm meant to be

Monday, March 26, 2012

A quarter is more than you think....

One quarter. Doesn't seem like much when you hold it in your hand in the shape of a coin.
When you look at a cake, it seems like a bit more.
What happens when you look at a century?
25 years.
On Saturday I officially celebrated 25 years in this world.

I have lived a beautiful life so far. I am lucky that even with all my adventures, and a few mistakes under my belt, I do not regret a single moment of it.
It is with the distance of years, a rose-coloured glass barrier of time, that I can look at what I have been through with a smile on my face and comfort in my heart.
There are always clouds, even in the bluest of skies and those rainy days will catch you by surprise, out in the open without an umbrella sometimes. 
Last year I had the longest summer of my life. Bright mornings, clear days, golden afternoons and brilliant star filled nights.
Sadly, all summers must come to an end, but the seeds sown within my soul on those long warm days were nurtured by the rains that followed and the fruits are mine to gather and share with all who come to my table.

The beauty of celebrating the passage of time that has passed between this March 24th and the last is the patterns it reveals and the truths it spells out so plainly.
Once these patterns and truths are in front of me there is no way to ignore them; in fact, it would be unhealthy not to learn from what life is teaching me.
I prefer to focus on the patterns that make me happy and how I can continue these threads throughout the quilt of my life.
What makes me happy?
Early morning so that I can be the first to see the sunrise and hear the last of the night time quiet before the world wakes.
My family and friends. Time with them is more precious than anything you can buy.
Things that grow. Flowers, fruit, being close to the earth.
Feeling my heart beat, and race and rise and recover.
Sharing whole, delicious food with people I love.
Losing myself in pages, dancing between the lines, and remembering that there is nothing beyond the power of imagination.
When you find a pattern that works - keep it on repeat, these are the threads that help me weave a thoroughly nourished life.

What are my truths? What have I learned so far on this wonderful journey?
Just love. Love is the most important thing.
Love your life, and show it the commitment that it deserves. Treasure each and every day. Even the dark ones, they make you appreciate the light so much more.
Love every heart that comes your way - whether family, friend, or neighbour - we really are in this together.
Love the earth, take care of the little patch that you get to call your own. We might not all get to call the shots on global warming, or the bigger issues, but take care of your space. Plant a garden. Love an animal. Do what you can, with what you have.
The biggest truth of all: love yourself.
Look at those scars, inside and out, and remember that they are the poetry of your life.
The ferocity you feel inside - all that you are at your very core, that is your power - your gift of life to share with the world.
Don't try to change it, it might bend to your will for a time, but it will never submit.
So stand in your truth and love it every day.
Until you can love exactly who you are, right now, you will never be able to give yourself fully to all the other brilliant loves that are waiting right outside your door.

When I look back, when my last quarter is spent, I want to be able to smile and close my eyes and say.
Yes, I loved this life.
Happy birthday Amy. Here's to the next quarter.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

First Race of the Year!

My, my, what are these? 

They belong to these two, smiling, sweaty (yes we know we are gross) faces.

The little chickpea and I took part in the Twilight Running Festival this evening!
A 4pm start for our 10km race was a nice change from early morning starts. Jess and I really enjoyed the beautiful weather and we were very lucky that the threatening black clouds held off all afternoon.
Finishing time was an unexpected joy at 1:02:52! We were both a little nervous, being morning runners, but the twilight seemed to agree with us!
Tonight we are putting our feet up, eating sushi, and watching lots of trashy TV.
Yep, post race pampering.
Who else has a race coming up soon?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Little Ditty

Just something small for a rainy Saturday night.
Humour this student with pages still to go....

What I wish I looked like when I study...(source)

A Bookly Ditty by Amy

Stormy night
Candle light
Where am I?
Came the cry
At last look...
Lost in book

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quotes That Keep Me Going

When the days lay foggily in my mind and the hours pass too slowly to even count, when the thought of rousing from my waking slumber and stumbling until I find sunlight leaves me drowsy again: I turn to words.
Sometimes the act of just scribbling down my own thoughts is enough to remind me of how wonderful the world is with all its possibilities and chances for a new start.
Some days the wisdom of great minds is needed and these are some of the quotes that remind me of the spark that lies within us all, and the greater hope that is the flight of every soul.

“If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.” 
 J. R. R. Tolkien (source) 

"Better to light the candle than curse the darkness"
Chinese Proverb  (sometimes also attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt)

"She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails."
Elizabeth Edwards

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Mark Twain

And, possibly my favourite for it speaks tomes in few words.

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."
George Bernard Shaw

Dear reader, which words of wisdom speak the most to you?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oh I Miss You All

My dearest readers,
I am sorry for my absence at the moment. This week just passed I had several evening engagements as well as work and university; with the candle burnt at both ends I flickered out for a little while.
Absence certainly has made my heart grow fonder. I promise prolific prose promptly delivered this week.
In the meantime please accept my apologies; I will be back very soon with recipes, commentary, and photos.
All my chickpea heart,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day

Today, dear readers, is International Women's Day.
Celebrated throughout the world on March 8th, it is:
 'an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women' (source) 

I would like to take this chance today to celebrate some of the amazing women who I am fortunate enough to have in my life as daily inspiration and examples of the amazing will and wonder of women.

First in line is my Mum. My first and strongest example of what it means, and what it takes, to be a woman today. This lovely lady is a tour de force of familial responsibility, friendship, personal and professional advice, and warm fuzziness. Of course, as with most mother-daughter relationships we have had our differences, but I can honestly say that this beautiful woman who carried me, and cared for me is a filament of gold woven through the fabric of my life. Mama Chickpea taught me that you should always see both sides, choose a positive outlook on your day with every sunrise, always look to turn a stranger into a friend, and that a cup of tea will solve most problems. Love you Mama.

The next two amazing women who stand as pillars in my mind are my sisters. One of blood, one of coincidence, my darling Jess (little Chickpea) and the beautiful Casey. These ladies are a complex synergy of hard work, dedication, young wisdom, and (it must be said) downright silly dancing and singing combinations. There is no problem that I cannot present to them and receive advice or comfort, or a taste tester. When I am down, they are the ones with the ladder and the light to help me out of despair and illuminate the way forward.

Both of my grandmothers also stand as legendary female characters and influences in my life.
My paternal grandmother (sadly passed) raised five children, built a house and home, married her teenage sweetheart and helped out those in her community. Nanny Dawn, you left an incredible legend behind to live up to.
My maternal grandmother, Mormor (Danish for mother's mother), survived German-occupied Denmark during World War two, left Denmark and all her family to move to Australia with two young girls (Mama and my aunty) and build a life in a new country where she didn't even speak the language. Mormor has always encouraged me to march to the beat of my own drum, and I owe much of my gypsy spirit to this lady.

My closest high school friends whose friendship has followed me into adulthood: Caroline, Josie and Laura. You ladies let me slip back into that easy lunch time feeling and the conversations that we had all those years ago beneath the shade of our favourite Jacaranda tree. The passing years have taken all of us on different adventures but our bond is as strong as those school girl days.

Samantha, my co-chief bridesmaid and one of the most beautiful souls who blesses my life with her presence in it. You are just at the start of an amazing journey little sister, take every day as your own.

 I would also like to take this opportunity on International Women's Day to point out that not only is it amazing women who support the achievements and advancement of females in our society. There are so many men who play a role in actively promoting female interests and encouraging the women in their lives. I must thank my Dad who always wanted only daughters (be careful what you wish for) and then along with Mama set about showing us that there are no limits to what a girl can do. My Dad taught me to cook, hammer a nail, how to watch motor sports, the best way to eat ice cream and jelly, and has supported his daughters in their every endeavour.

Dear readers, happy International Women's Day. Take today to celebrate the accomplishments of the amazing women in your life. Look back on how far we have all come and the path of those that have marched before us.
Be proud to be a woman. To be in an age where there is nothing to stop any of us from achieving our dreams and ambitions. Look at all the women who are powerful figures in our own lives and those who are making decisions and blazing new trails around the world, then set yourself the challenge of being your own woman of distinction.
You don't have to be the first woman on an all male basketball team, there are so many ways that we can set an example of what it means to be a woman today.
Take ownership of your physical self. Love your body, whatever shape it comes in, show it care and attention and take health as your goal rather than deprivation and loathing.
Love your mind, learn from every day and every person you meet. Read, write, create, experiment, share stories and memories. Find mentors and companions who challenge you and support you to grow.
Nourish your spirit. Look for meaning in every day moments. Count your blessings every day.
Love wildly and without reserve.
Make the most of your every precious heart beat.
Be empowered in your life by the lives of those around you.
We are women, watch us soar.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Privilege of Understanding Ourselves

'It [this book] reminds us that we read because literature offers the privilege of understanding ourselves through the lives of others. It reminds us that with this privilege comes the unanticipated power to change our own lives.'

- Rabalais, K 2012, 'Desperation unfolds like a luminous dream', Review: The Australian, 3-4 March, p.18-19.

This week I have been doing a lot of reading.Now, that really shouldn't be a surprise with a degree title 'Writing, Editing, and Publishing', should it?
I have long loved the written word; as a child I would read anything I could get my hands on, as a teenager I would stay up to all hours of the morning to finish a new novel that had been delivered to my hands that very morning, and as an adult I spend hours everyday reading (nowadays a lot of blogs make up my reading list!), now I am in the process of making reading my job!
A few years ago, when I was going through a period where I lost my own sense of character, my individual needs and the essential joie de vivre, I lost my love of reading. Somehow my lifelong love of losing myself between the pages, dancing between the lines, and travelling the world from my arm chair, had disappeared. 
As I started making positive changes and walking slowly back into the light my appetite was reawakened. 
A hunger like none I had ever experienced took me over, satiety could only be achieved through a steady diet of text. The last two years have been filled with literature from all walks of life: romantic fiction, histories, science journals and books, cookbooks, explorers tales, pop psychology, and poetry.  

The wonderful chance that I have been given, to be in a place in my life where I am able to go back to university, has allowed me to begin appreciating the craft of the written word from a wholly new perspective. To begin exploring the very basics, such as the intricacies assigned to constructing a 'proper' sentence and the macro level issues like breaking into the publishing industry.
I think I have fallen into the right (or should that be write?) rabbit hole Alice.
I would never give back the five years that I spent at university for my undergraduate degrees; I gained the knowledge and power to help others, and myself, and one of the greatest friendships of my life.
But this time I am studying something that I have a true passion for and I feel the excitement every time I walk into a lecture or tutorial.

When I read the newspaper this weekend and saw this quote in a book review it echoed with me.
Why do I read?
I read to learn, I read to escape, to come back to myself and all that is important, I read to be reminded of times in my past and to be inspired for the future, I read to step into another's shoes for a while, I read to be whisked away to foreign lands, or to dream of places that don't exist.
There is privilege in peaking into the life of others, to learn from their travails, be entertained by their tales, and to be reminded of the ordinary beauty in our world.
The minutiae of daily life can take away our ability to probe more deeply into our experience, to allow time to reflect on what we have been through, and to imagine all the possibilities of the world.
There in lies the privilege of reading.
The gift of an author stimulating those deeper feelings about our experience, helping us question what we have seen and done and the acts of others. The chance to reflect on what the world has to offer, or how everyone's experience of life can be so different and yet contain so many similarities to our own, no matter where in time or place they have lived.
The privilege is the seed that a good book can sew in our minds that grows into inspiration to dream of all that is to come....

Tell me, dear reader, why do you read?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Back to School!

Hello my lovely reader,
I must apologise for my absence these last few weeks, I have been busily preparing for (and freaking out about) going back to university again!
On Tuesday I left work in the afternoon and made the trek across town to my university campus for my first lecture. I must admit that this first lecture scared me a little, okay, a lot. Coming from a science background I feel that I face a huge learning curve with this graduate degree in writing, editing and publishing. I am afraid of this curve, that it could possibly throw me off like a motorcycle racer who leans to close to the corner and gets torn from the bike. It is important to acknowledge this fear, to give it a name and look it in the eye. Once I know what the fear is exactly, what it's spidery arms are reaching towards and how far it has spread, I can begin the work of counteracting the fear on my terms.
So I am afraid of a curve in my learning. It is a good curve but the fear inside me is that I am not up to the task. To counter this I need to remind myself that I have already been to university (albeit in a different context) but I know that I am capable of the work expected at these institutions (Amy: 1; Fear: 0).
I am also excited by this learning and that battles fear in a big way because that excitement feeds motivation, which in turn nourishes hard work (Amy: 2; Fear: 0).
But the final point in my trio of battling points against fear is that I have love and support from the people around me, and fear is all by itself!
Final Score. Amy: 3. Fear: 0.

When I headed off to my second lecture yesterday I was understandably apprehensive, but I walked out of the room inspired.
Part of the beautiful campus at UQ.
As part of our assessment we have to write a response to each week's lecture. These responses can include poetry, so of course I made up a little nonsense poem about the inspiration and hope I always feel when I walk out of the first week of lectures, the dreams that are inspired by the possibilities of where this course could lead me. I hope you enjoy.

“First Lecture Dreams” by Amy Chatwin

Last night in those starry dreamless hours
I surrendered myself to those highest powers
The dreams called forth by a first lecture’s hope
This is what I remembered through the haze as I awoke

I dreamt of typewriters and coffee stained pages
Submissions from hipsters and new fashioned sages
Whisked away to a world where offbeat is god
But corduroy and activism is not my scene so the dream moved on

Now I’m in a high rise, Prada suited and coiffed
Shiny windows, harbour views, a Blackberry always going off
Rushing in heels, call to my assistant to “Get Ms. Wintour on the phone!!”
This slickness doesn’t suit, oh Morpheus please find my publishing home!

Then I’m landing in soft pages and a pot of tea brewed
Crumbs, galleys from a new Nigella (post-its galore!) across my desk are strewn
Laughter from the kitchen – celebration of a new ‘cook-blook’ to come
Morpheus you found it – the perfect ingredients – hard work, food and fun

A place where ‘yummy’ is a defining criteria
Proofs with recipes crowding their interiors
Yoho and a bottle of essence of rum
A job baked from this batter seems just the right (write) one!

Before I can taste this ambrosia delight
The dawn starts calling an end to the night
My alarm calls to alert a new day and end this sweet sleep
Lecture notes, assignments yet to do, remind me
It’s only first week!