Saturday, 20 October 2012

Raise your glass - to endings!

I’m so close to finishing my Bachelor of Social Work degree for which I’ve been studying for three years. Now, as the days of my student placement draw to a close and all of my essays and written work are finally done and dusted, I feel a mixture of emotions, both positive and negative and everything in between.

Frank Herbert must have understood this too. He wrote ‘There is no real ending, it’s just the place where you stop the story’.  As did Emily Griffin (Love the one you’re with), as reflected in her words  ‘He nods, as if to acknowledge that endings are almost always a little sad, even when there’s something to look forward to on the other side.’ My favourite quote is this:

 ‘Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand-new ending.’ (Carl Bard).

Journeys happen in many ways and yes, they do always have to come to an end. My studies have been intensely life-changing for me and have taken me on a journey (as clich├ęd as this sounds) of self-discovery. Before I enrolled in social work I was under the illusion that my life career was as a secondary school teacher, though many signs were showing me I was barking up the wrong tree. In fact, what I really needed to do was get to know myself – my weaknesses and my strengths.

I needed time to find out why I am like I am and who I want to be, as well as what I really have to offer the world. Entering into my new career of social work has allowed me to finally be who I really am and it’s taken a lot of tears to get here. I have had to face the truth about what I wanted, take huge risks in my personal life which still bear the scars and throw myself into life with complete abandon. My studies and my employment challenge me every day to move out of my comfort zones and into the lives of others, where I have learnt so much that I could have never learned within the confining walls of a classroom.

So though it’s ending, I’m stepping off the train as the real me – no pretence, no trying to be someone who I really am not and what a way to end! It is, too, a continuing journey, indeed the story has not yet stopped, and I plan to enter my forties with enthusiasm, passion and joy. So let’s raise a glass to endings!
Sue Oaks copyright 2012

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Top three summer reading spots - away from the beach

Everyone I have come across who actively defines herself, or himself, as a ‘reader’ has a particular spot or set-up that she or he finds most ideal. For example, picture yourself thoroughly engrossed in a novel. Where are you? Not sitting up-right in a kitchen chair I imagine. Are you a curled up on the couch kind of person? Sprawled out across your bed? Nestled in a worn-out arm chair?

Image by Herry Lawford
Seasonal Reading
Whenever I imagine myself curled up with a good book I picture myself indoors.  If I look away from the enraptured figure on the couch to the window I notice it is autumn outside. But why? I don’t stop reading once the snow melts off the ground. Cuddling up with a good book shouldn’t mean missing out on the summer sun.
While the beach may be many people’s summer reading spot of choice, not everyone can get to one so here’s a list of the top 3 places to do your summer reading, away from the beach.
  1. 1.        Picnic
Picnics are not just for romantic couples sensually feeding each other grapes, nor are they reserved for family outings. The park is a great place for summer reading. Pack a blanket to throw on the ground, some sandwiches, a bottle of cool lemonade, the latest best seller, and you’ve got yourself a perfectly relaxing day outdoors. You won’t end up with grains of sand lodged inside your new book, and if it gets too warm just scoot on over to the shade of a nearby tree!
  1. 2.       Float Away
I realize everyone might not have access to a swimming pool, if you don’t (or it’s too far away for you to bother) skip on down to the next suggestion. However, if you do have access to a pool you may be able to enjoy my favourite summer reading spot; the floatie.
 Lazing languidly on a floatie, one leg dangling into the pool keeping you cool while you get lost in your novel. The best part of pool reading is that you can simply hop in if you get too hot. Perch on the steps into the pool or rest your arms and your book on the edge while our lower half is submerged in the refreshingly cool water.
 If your pool is a touch further away than your backyard just remember to pack a cooler with snacks and lots of water if you plan on staying a while and you’re all set!
3) Home Sweet Home
If you skipped the last suggestion, or it’s simply not warm enough to relax by the pool but the sun has re-emerged from behind those winter clouds, one of the best places to enjoy a good book is your own back yard. Grab some comfy cushions and a throw blanket and head out to the garden bench. What place could be better to admire those beautiful flowers that are finally springing up everywhere? Snuggle up, make yourself comfortable and get lost in those pages.
Estelle Page is a mother of two, an avid home decorator and a passionate reader. With help from Raw Garden she turned her garden into the perfect reading spot.