29 February 2012

Word of the Week - Like/Unlike

This week's word of the week isn't so much a word to zhush but words to eliminate.
Yep, the words we wish we could eradicate because they are just. so. annoying!

Inspiration for this post came to me via the Littlest Gift who has this wonderful ability to bring up the most unlikely conversations at moments that you least expect it. Yesterday I was brushing his hair for school and he asked out of the blue, "Felicity, what is the most annoying word you know?".

I stopped brushing his hair for a minute whilst I contemplated the myriad options that grate on me like fingernails on a chalkboard, before replying "Like."

"Like? What do you mean?"

"Like, if like, you don't like, know what to like, say and you like, have to put like, a pause in your like, sentence, to like, give you like, the space to like, think of like, what to like, say next."

We have two teenagers girls in our home and he knew immediately what I was saying and gave me a big, broad smile. When I asked him if he had a word that irritated him at the moment, he bubbled it out as if it was cathartic to share.


I was a little taken aback and asked when he was hearing people saying this. Apparently it's the new way that 9 & 10 year olds address each other and he's 'like over it!'.

So I thought we could create a vault here in Serendipity Land where we could purge all those annoying words that we really don't 'like' and lock them away to create the space for much more delightful and zhushy additions to our vocabulary.

Spread the word, who's in?

24 February 2012

Happy Making Tune - Love Is Making Its Way...

The effervescent Pip has shared this fabulous tune & papercraft combo and I couldn't wait to let you have a look and listen too.

Hoping that your weekend is filled with all sorts of marvelousness!

22 February 2012

Word of the Week - Avocation

Events in my own life and those of some special people close to me, have given me pause to ponder the concept of vocation vs. avocation and what it means to truly love the work you do.

For many, the nature of work is just that, a chore or task to be completed, a means to an end.
For others it is a joy, a source of fulfillment and satisfaction, a true life's purpose.

This week I've been blessed with two days work teaching the most delightful little 5 & 6 year olds and next week I get to do an encore visit = yay! 
In between I may have Senior chemistry or maths students, feisty 12 year olds with plenty of swagger or a day of teaching music to multiple year levels.  It's all been within the scope of my experience as a supply teacher who is on a path of returning to fulltime work.

Today I also had a brilliant phone call from a colleague requesting my assistance with the development of an exciting 'Gifted Education' project and I'm very keen to get this rolling - yippee!

I've not been able to work for the longest time and so my appreciation for my vocation and the opportunity to flex my pedagogical muscles has been deep - of course the income has been handy too!

I was only thinking today about the time (not so long ago) when I considered doing something completely different. Something more creative, more collaborative, with flexible hours. A job that enabled me to indulge my hobbies of writing, photography, graphic design, art and colour.
I didn't know exactly what this 'something' was, I just knew that I had a yearning for 'more'.

Then events flipped my world on its head and I couldn't work.
Then there wasn't any work to do.

Now I find that I have a zing in my step when a 'work' day presents itself and I'm full of appreciation and energy for what I know is a vocation that I truly love.

As for that creative, collaborative project, my avocation, my hobby?
This blogging caper ticks both boxes resoundingly and I'm regularly inspired to try new ideas after reading your posts [thank you!].....and who knows where the creative trail may lead.

I like the following which is the final stanza from the poem "Two Tramps In Mud Time" by Robert Frost which you can read in full here....

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For heaven and the future's sakes.

In doing research for this post I came across the following information that made me think about the universal experience of 'vocation' and 'avocation' and how sometimes a person's avocation is the thing that orbits them towards fame or better still, deep fulfillment.

So there you have it, our word for this week 'avocation'.
I'd be tickled pink if you used it to 'zhush' up a post. 
I'm sure it could prompt some interesting discussion on your blog.

Happy day!

18 February 2012

I'm In A New York State Of Mind

I've long admired Aussie artist Sophie Blackall's art on Etsy, but her latest project really exemplifies celebrating the unexpected and lovely. Titled "Missed Connections" it's now travelling the NY subways on posters and in a beautiful book.  Thanks to 'Art by Wiley' for sharing this project with me, I'm reveling the fun of Sophie's art.

Sophie's Website    Etsy Store    Blog    Missed Connections

So dear friend, I hope that no matter what you're doing that you find joyful connection in whatever way you travel through today.

17 February 2012

Gathering Gratefuls - Beyond The Fenceline

Happy weekend lovely you - I hope you've got fabulous plans for the days ahead.
Last week I took you for a walk around our neighbourhood streets to give you a little insight into the my pocket of the world.  This week we're venturing 'out the back'.

The first picture on the left is taken from our downstairs pool area.  You can see that we're surrounded by native bushland all across the back of the property and we're fortunate to not have any neighbours living behind us for about 1.5kms [that's almost 1 Mile for my US friends].

Well that's not entirely true as we have a family of kangaroos who've taken up residence just beyond our back fence and who regularly hop through to snack on the lawn surrounding our home.

I'd never really thought about exploring beyond our fence before, but seeing the roo trail that they'd stamped into the native grass got me intrigued, so with my mate Luke to help me shoo away any slithering surprises, I took a little adventure the other day.

Once we'd navigated our way through the long grass we opened onto a clearing and I was absolutely delighted to find this most glorious space. Before us was a sun dappled glade with big areas of grass that had been flattened by the kangaroos as well as 'sleeping nests' [my terminology] in the long grasses where you could see the outline of their bodies where they've obviously been laying down.

The roos were out and about so we were free to relish the morning sun and take in the magic of this peaceful clearing. I snapped away trying to capture the sunshine and gentleness of the glade whilst Luke scooted around with a big smile on his face, sniffing & snuffing and every now and then snaffling down a kangaroo pooh - gross I know, I guess they're a doggy version of Maltezers!

If you look very carefully at the picture on the left you can see the roofline of our home through the trees, the view our kangaroo friends would have as they go about their business in their lovely home.
It's obvious that humans never come here and nature is very happily following her cycles unimpeded which is such a gift in this day and age of 'progress' and 'development'.

Something that I learnt after sharing last week's neighbourhood wander, is that it would be nice to have you share in the sounds as well as the sights of my walks - so today I've added a little video.
If you're sharp-eyed around about the 26 sec mark, you'll see 'roos view' of our home from the glade.


Today's 'Gathering Gratefuls' post is dedicated to my beautiful friend Jill, who shares my love of animals and this week lost her beautiful black dog Dan - heart hugs to you precious lady.

For a dose of happiness this weekend why not go exploring beyond your own fenceline and be sure to visit the glittering Bronwyn to read the 'Grateful Notes' she's gathering on her welcoming kitchen table.

Happy weekend!

15 February 2012

Word Of The Week - Celebrating The 'Zhush'

It's back! 'Word of the Week' has returned and I'm really keen to see all of us zhushing our vocabulary together.

If you're a new visitor to this space, this is a regular segment that enables us to share interesting words that we try to slip into either our everyday vocab or our blog writing usually in the week that follows this post.

For examples of previous 'WW' words, pop on down to the "Word of the Week" segment on the sidebar and click the link. I bet you'll find some words of interest to tickle your fancy.

Now for our very first zhushy word of the year....

This word was introduced to me by the fabulous father of one of my friends.
Right away I loved its musicality before I even knew its meaning - say it out loud [late-motif] and I bet you'll see what I mean.

Now I'm sure you can think of leitmotifs for both heroes and villians in any number of films, but have you ever considered what your own leitmotif might be?

For me a snippet of the following titled 'Kapsburger' by 'Clogs' would suit me to a 'T'....

So there you go, you're ready to zhush away.
If you're adventurous and add this word to a blog post, I'd be thrilled if you could hyperlink it to this post and help build the vocabulary of your own bloggy audience.

Happy day my friend!

14 February 2012

To Valentine's Day & Beyond...

Perhaps it's because I'm older and maybe a little bit jaded but I'm a bit ambivalent about Valentine's Day this year.  That's not to say that I'm not in love with my fabulous man, but I'm just not that interested in participating in something that seems a bit....well.... let's say 'forced into prominence for commercial reasons'.  
New Year's Eve can evoke the same emotions in me.

Captain V [the 'V' being short for Valentine] and I have been together for less than five years.
I shared our love story here this time last year.
As with most couples trying to blend one of the partners into their own family, we've been through a lot and the ride has had its share of rough waters.
However we navigate our way through and the tough times have come & gone [as they invariably do].
It's in the calm after each bout of turbulence that we're able to see that we've grown a little more - both as individuals and as a couple.

We are also very aware of how precious our relationship is and make an effort every day to kindle its glow.

One of the challenges in our relationship is that our love languages [the ways in which we prefer to give and receive love] are not only different but completely opposite to each others needs.
The good thing is that we're both aware of this fact and know that it will take extra effort on both of our parts to show our love to the other person.

If you're not familiar with Garry Chapman's five languages of love, here's a brief summary:

1. Words of Affirmation
Actions don't always speak louder than words. 
If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you.  Hearing the words. "I love you" are important - hearing the reason behind that words sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

2. Quality Time
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says "I love you" like full, undivided attention.
Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there - with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby - makes your significant other feel truly special and loved.
Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

3. Receiving Gifts
Don't mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. 
If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you.
A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous - so would the absence of everyday gestures.

4. Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely!
Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an 'Acts of Service' person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: "Lt me do that for you."
Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don't matter.

5. Physical Touch
This language isn't all about the bedroom.
A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is not, surprisingly, very touchy.
Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face - they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, car, and love.
Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

I've really found that knowing Captain V's love languages has been a gift and I'd hope that if any of this resonates with you, that you'll pop on over to the Gary's website to read some more, take a quick quiz to find out your own love language, and most importantly learn how to weave acts of loving into your everyday experience so that the joy of loving each other is not just something to be celebrated on one day of the year. 

Happy day my friend, may it be replete with connection.

10 February 2012

Gathering Gratefuls - Join Me For A Stroll....

Amidst the topsy turvy of everyday life, there's something that's always guaranteed to lift my spirits & give my battery a boost - a walk around my neighbourhood.

We are very fortunate to live in a space that is defined by natural bushland and most of the properties in our area are five acres or more which means that any noise is filtered by space = peace.

Luke is my most regular walking companion, but when we can Captain V and I will take a stroll hand in hand and debrief our day or sort a particular dilemma that may have arisen.

I thought you might like to join us and gain some insight into our pocket of the world.
Here's a quick round up of some of the treasures you will encounter as you gulp in large lungfuls of clean, fresh air and enjoy the constant chatter of the myriad birds sitting amongst the abundant flora.

1. As you come to the end of our driveway, this is the sweeping curve of our street entrance.

2. Great gums are plentiful and at different times of the day and year they change their outfits to stunning effect.

3. Luke usually has his nose to the ground sniffing out all the messages left by his neighbourhood pals.

4. & 6. Jewel colours of gum leaves whether they are on trees or scattered on the ground delight me always.

5. & 9. Not a soul to be seen. When a neighbour does appear a quick chat or friendly smile is waiting.

7. A blooming beauty bathed in sunshine.

8. & 11. The Scribbly Gum & Bloodwood are plentiful. I love to pick up bark shards & display them in our home.

10. There are often treasures to be found. My favourite are feathers but sometimes my eye is captured by something shiny like this emerald green glass shard glittering amongst the bitumen stones.

12. & 13. Although most yards feature native plants, one garden in particular sports a tropical feel.
Here you see beehive gingers and palms.  Very few homes have fences and these particular neighbours have recently acquired a miniature pig called Elvis who grazes in the front yard unrestricted by fences.
I like to keep an eye out for him to say hello and share a pat whilst oggling the gorgeousness of the yard.

14. Violet & Velvet live in the bush behind our home but are regularly spied hopping down the road. Violet also has a young joey who is just beginning to make forays out of the pouch, I've christened her Veda.

15. 18. 19. 22.  More floral beauty

16. An Aussie Christmas card moment - red & green against a bright blue background.

17. Mr Luke himself - bandanaed and ready to rock the hood.

20. Self sown daisies in our front bush garden - I love it when Mother Nature decides to paint a splash of sunshine yellow in unexpected places.

21.  Ever since I was a little girl I've kept an eye out for trees with faces. Can you make out the stern brow and snubby nose of this fellow?

Did you enjoy that? It was fun to share my place of gratitude with you and I'll be thinking of you this weekend as I step out to for a wander.
The dynamic Bronwyn is gathering a great big basket of grateful posts just like this over at her place.
Be sure to pop on over this weekend and have your own wander around the happy hearts of Blogland.

If you've got some time up your sleeve and are looking for recommendations for a great book to read, perhaps you'd like to join in with our 'Vive le Livre!' book club. I'd be thrilled if you jumped on board.

Happy weekend!

07 February 2012

'Vive le Livre!' January - February

Happy first Tuesday of the month and welcome to our very first 'Vive le Livre!' get together!

You've probably noticed that it's been a quiet couple of weeks on the blog.
This has been on account of the fact that there's been a frantic flipping of pages on my part to complete the mammoth "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.
In fact, I even found myself dividing the book into 100 page segments & attempting to read one of these each day during the last week in my quest to reach my target.

There are 1168 pages in this most incredible book and although I pride myself on being a fairly fast reader, the nature of the content meant that I often found myself pausing for reflection, doing that most wicked of things 'earmarking' corners on pages where the writing really 'found its mark' and quite often reflecting on the characters and their actions even when the book wasn't in my hands.

I know this book won't be for everyone, but I relished it and am going to return to the bookseller who recommended it to me and give her a little pressie as a thank you for sharing the gift of Ayn Rand's writing - that's how much I loved it!

My only error was to type in "Atlas Shrugged" into a Google search as I neared the end of the book, and watched a snippet from the movie which was released last year.  Ayn Rand had drawn the characters so beautifully in my imagination that it was startling to see actors who looked nothing like what I'd envisaged and I found myself grappling with the mismatch as I completed the book- don't you hate that?
I'm not sure whether I'm going to watch the movie in full or not, perhaps in a month or two.
I won't spoil the plot by trying to explain it, but if you like a big book with a strong philosophical bent, terrific characters and a great storyline - then this might be a 'goodie' to pop onto your reading list for 2012.

This was only one of the books that I managed to tick off my list however.
The second was a present sent to me by my special friend Jane, who is a fellow 'lover of language' & reading.

There is so much that I love about this book.
1. Its presentation - a cream and gold embossed hardback with burgundy embellishments.
2. It's a celebration of the etymology of phrases - love that!
3. It taught me something new.
4. It's something that I could share with Captain V, the 'Gifts', students I teach, and perhaps even you.

The title of the book?
"Opening Pandora's Box - Phrases Borrowed From the Classics And The Stories Behind Them" by Ferdie Addis.
Here's a little excerpt to give you a taste of some of the delights contained in this book:

Times of happiness and prosperity

"In Greek mythology, Alcyone was a daughter of Aeolus, the god of the winds.
She was married to Ceyx, son of the Morning Star, and they enjoyed such a happy marriage that they claimed to be as lucky as the ultimate couple, Hera and Zeus.
This of course, was a mistake. If there was one thing guaranteed to get the gods in a mood, it was hearing themselves being compared to lowly mortals. 
To punish Ceyx and Alcyone for their pride, Zeus changed them into birds: Ceyx became a diver, and Alcyone became a kingfisher, or alkuon in Greek.
Ovid had a different version of this story, where Alcyone changed into a bird after her husband dies in a shipwreck. At any rate, both versions agree that the newly feathered Alcyone soon found a kingfisher's life to be far from straightforward.  Every winter she would lay her eggs in a nest by the sea, and every year storms would sweep the nest away. 
Finally Zeus, taking pity on the unfortunate woman, decreed that for seven days around the winter solstice the seas would always be calm. These tranquil days in the middle of winter are the halcyon days, which have come to stand for any period of peace and happiness."
There is actually a little bit of a cryptic connection between this quote and "Atlas Shrugged" but I'll keep you guessing so as not to spoil the plot.

So there are my two books for 'Jan - Feb' and now to check in on my reading goals, here's how they look:

* I'd like to read two books per month [Tick! It was close but I made it.]
* I'm keen to read at least one Australian novel
* I'd like to complete a classic eg: "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky [Started Yesterday]
* At least two biographies or autobiographies will be in my selection
* One informative non-fiction will be in my list [Tick - thank you Jane x]
* Inspired by Gifters' recommendations I'm going to try new authors & titles [for me]:
~ "When God Was A Rabbit"Sarah Winman;
~ "Before I Go To Sleep" SJ Watson;
~ "Shakespeare's Wife" Germaine Greer;
~ "Stasiland" Anna Funder;
~  One Gerald Durrell title - am open to suggestions here;
~  The first book in the "Mistborn" series by Branden Sanderson;
~ "The Tiger's Wife" by Tea Obreht; [I'm thinking that this will be a co-read with Dostoyevsky this month]
~ "Foals Bread" by Gillian Mears;
~ "Past The Shallows" by Favel Parrot;
~ "The Weight of Silence" by Catherine Therese and finally
~ "Five Bells" by Gail Jones.
~ "Enjoy Every Sandwiche" by Lee Lipsenthal
~ "Autumn Laing" by Alex Miller
~ "The Heart Garden" by Janine Burke
How about you? What have you read over the past month?
Do you have reading goals that you'd like to keep? Any great recommendations for the rest of us?

I haven't created a formal 'Linky' for this first get together as I wanted to see what each of you had to say to each other about the books you've read.
I'd like you to see this as your own space for encouraging the love of reading in yourself and others, so please take the time to comment and reply to each others' notes just like you were having a chat at a reading group.

If you've written a 'Vive le Livre!' post - yippee! Please include the URL in your note so that we can all have a read. Visit and reply to each other, get busy with words, in short - celebrate the love of books and reading.

If you'd like to share the fun with your own readers, I'd be thrilled if you included the button (which is just to your right in the sidebar) in your post to spread the word...sorry dreadful pun, I hope you can get past it.

Until the first Tuesday in March, happy page turning!

06 February 2012

The Gift Of Art...

Housekeeping has been the order of the day in Chez Serendipity and it seems to have started to overflow into this space too. You may notice some changes happening in my sidebar over the coming weeks and I've decided that my 'gift giving' in 2012 will take some new forms.

If you've been visiting for a while you would know that one of the regular gifts that I shared was an art-based activity titled 'Two For Tuesday'. This was an interactive post where I presented two pieces of work from one artist and everyone had an opportunity to comment on how each piece of art related to the other, or alternatively how the art spoke to people about what was happening in their own lives at that point in time.

You constantly surprised me with your wonderful insights and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the gift of art with you.  In my housekeeping busyness, I've decided to take the long list of artists from my sidebar but if you'd like to seek an artist, simply scroll to the 'Seek A Gift Here' button towards the bottom of the sidebar and pop in 'Two For Tuesday' and you'll be find a plethora of artists to marvel at.

'Two For Tuesday' will take a break for a while whilst I think about if it will return and I'll be guided by whether or not you would like to see it continue or if you may have thoughts on how it might be improved.

A gentle reminder that tomorrow is the first Tuesday of the month which means that it's our first 'Vive le Livre' party and I can't wait to find out what you've been reading. I finally got to the end of the mammoth "Atlas Shrugged" in time to include it on my 'I've Read' list and can't wait to share my insights with you.

vive le livre 

Until we meet tomorrow ~ happy day!