Retired Life

So what have I been doing since I left Library Land?

It is amazing how fast each day goes by and I fill the days with things I love to do. Such as writing, cycling, walking, knitting, sketching, playing my piano, reading, listening to music and podcasts, taking photographs, yoga, making healthy plant-based meals, and more. #retiredlife

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Leaving Library Land

After 24 years in the industry I have left the Land of Libraries. It has been a busy, interesting, and rewarding time that has passed by in the blink of an eye.

Back in 1996 when I began my first job in a public library there were still card catalogues about. The automated library system used DOS and I remember using the keyboard prompts to operate the green cursor on the black screen. The World Wide Web was just emerging and Hotmail soon became the wonder of communication. Mobile devices were still a long way off. Social Media and ebooks were not things yet.

Now Google is the place everyone goes to for information; not a book in a library. Amazon is where people go to buy books either in print or as an ebook. We all carry our computers in our pockets for 24 hour connection. We go to iTunes for music, Netflix for movies and TV, and news is sent to us.

I have done everything in libraries: helping customers, handling the books, system administration, website design, reports to local and state government, presenting to groups large and small, social media, photo setups, organizing events, author talks, book launches, trivia nights, school holiday activities, budget management, recruitment, staff management, moving large collections, cataloguing, buying shelving and furniture, making ads, videos, and promotions, and much more.

My career highlights have been:

  • Involvement with the IFLA Global Vision
  • Involvement with the Victoria’s Libraries 2030 strategies
  • Library Manager at a regional library service
  • Presenting at a School Libraries Association of Victoria Conference
  • Presenting at a Red Cross Conference
  • Being involved with the Public Libraries Victoria LibMark Special Interest Group and helping to organise and deliver the Annual Conference.

I have worked with some great people and excellent teams. I have also worked with some less than satisfactory people and poorly functioning teams. It has been a profound learning journey that has been satisfying intellectually and ethically. This work gives back to the local community and is appreciated every day.

For me it is the perfect time to step away. I feel the continuing decline of public libraries and wonder how long they will operate on goodwill. For me a “community hub” is a poor replacement for what was a Library. My soul feels the affront.

On my first day away from the industry I was surprised to feel that at heart I remain a Designer. This was my first love, first pursuit, and I have dabbled over the years as a hobbyist. But I also applied the design thinking, creativity, project management and problem solving skills to all that I did in my work in libraries.

Reflections of 2018

Once again, prompted by Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity, I look back on the past year to recall what went well and what didn’t go so well.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8651

What went well:

  • My days that I spend with my granddaughter are filled with exploration, discovery and fun. We walk, read, swim, play, tumble, ‘cook’, sing, draw, and play the piano.
  • Our new granddaughter arrived in November and the calm I feel when I just sit and hold a baby is so full of love and peace.
  • A warm holiday in the sun at Noosa with my husband, where we caught up with family.
  • The 2Cellos concert in Melbourne.
  • MOMA exhibition at the NGV with my daughter.
  • Returned to Portland for the launch of their refurbished library. Caught up with colleagues and friends. Remembered how far it is to drive there!
  • Netflix
    • Secret City
    • The 100
    • The Bodyguard
    • The Killing
    • Line of Duty
    • Animal Kingdom
    • Lots of others
  • Books read
  • Podcast favourites
  • Author Talks that I organized as part of my work at Frankston – the highlights:
  • Completed the Branching Out Certificate with the State Library Victoria.
  • Local champion for the Libraries Change Lives campaign and attended the launch at North Fitzroy Library in September.
  • Finished my personal Family History Scrapbook.
  • Continue to enjoy retreating to my house, surrounded by native birds, I feel like I live in a bird aviary. The sea breezes carry the sounds of the sea to blend with the birdsong.
  • Playing my piano.
  • The team of people I work with are supportive and dedicated.
  • The recruiting process for new staff is an experience I enjoy, especially when the results are beyond expectation.

What didn’t go so well:

  • Work continues to be unstable, changeable, and challenging. This is partly due to the changing nature of public libraries and how people consume media. Also state and local government priorities change in response to community needs.
  • I have little free time due to work commitments and the daily commute.
  • I have not exercised enough.
  • Road cycling is not something I do much of now.
  • I had several Basal Cell Carcinomas removed from my neck.
  • A winter cold resulted in a persistent cough that has been hard to shake.
  • I have not done enough yoga, meditation, or walking.

Author A. (Alec) S. Patric

Alec Patric spoke at Frankston Library this week as part of the Australian Library Week events. And despite the small number of people in the audience, it was a lovely event. Maybe because of the small audience it was more of a conversation rather than a presentation. Alec Patric

Alec appears as a dedicated and humble writer who loves his craft. Growing up in the then barren western suburbs of Melbourne he sought enrichment through poetry. Becoming a ‘writer’ was a foreign concept in that era in that community. Working on weekends in his dad’s engineering factory he found beauty in words.

The conversation at the library meandered lyrically, involving us all, we spoke of poetry, literary fiction, genre fiction, winning awards, work in the local book shop, Black Rock White City, his soon-to-be-released collection of short stories The Butcherbird Stories, immigration, book clubs, libraries, the writing life, and more.

When Alec observed that fiction novels are the zeitgeist of society, I understood completely. This is a notion I have explored on occasion, my thoughts flailing about trying to reason why fiction is important. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas is a perfect example of a story that portrays a particular, time, place and culture: ‘the spirit of the times’.

The conversation about literary fiction brought the novel Eucalyptus by Murray Bail to mind. A book I love and is hard to place into a rigid genre. Alec was aiming for a literary page-turner with his book Black Rock White City and by receiving the Miles Franklin Award in 2016 for this novel, he obviously succeeded.

He mentioned the Long List for this year’s Miles Franklin Award and this has prompted me to have a look at those books. The one that appeals at first glance is From the Wreck by Jane Rawson.

Stories in Sepia

‘History’ at High School bored me. Learning about old kings on the other side of the world felt so removed from my young life that I quickly grew to loathe history classes. The teacher did not help to bring life or relevance to the content….yawn!

But as an adult my interest in history has developed from reading books like: Into the blue: boldly going where Captain Cook has gone before by Tony Horwitz (also known as Blue Latitudes); Beethoven’s hair; an extraordinary historical odyssey and a scientific mystery solved by Russell Martin; and other books where historical stories and facts are given further relevance and detail through a contemporary lens.

Delving into my own family history over many years has drawn me in and I am now intrigued by the many lives that were lived before – people who are now dead and buried. A grim description; but yesterday I discovered a podcast titled Dead and Buried that “showcases underground history and true crime from the streets of Melbourne.” It is part of the Melbourne Ear Buds Network.

“Dead & Buried is a podcast about Melbourne history for people who don’t yet realise they like Melbourne history.”

This podcast series is well presented and edited by Lee Hooper, Phoebe Wilkens, Carly Godden, and Robin Waters. The additional comments by others provide credibility, depth and interest to the stories. I am really enjoying listening to these vignettes of days gone by and hope they release series two soon.

My own family history has grown in recent months with the help of the My Heritage software and the Ancestry Library Edition database. The My Heritage app is easy to use and free to a point. Putting in your own family tree is very easy and then ‘matches’ are found to link with others who have provided research in linking trees. Some of this requires payment, but the wealth of information that can be seen is amazing and has enriched my own research and legacy scrapbook.

Photos in particular can be seen and while it is important to make sure the photo is correctly assigned to the right person, these images are real treasure. Unfortunately I did find two photos of my paternal grandparents incorrectly assigned to others in the previous generation who happened to have the same first names. I tried to contact the person who placed the images into Ancestry but it went to a broken link. Most probably the person does not use the account anymore. It is a shame to see this kind of error published as fact, especially when I know it is incorrect. Once checked and validated though these sepia images are gorgeous and give beautiful illustration to my family history.

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From left: Standing; Euphemia, Margaret, Alexander, Jeanie, Helen, Catherine. Seated; Lily, Jeanie (Granny), Daisy (possibly taken at Penshurst Victoria)

Some years ago I had been shown an enlarged photo of a family wedding in Penshurst Victoria. It is a beautiful scene, with the stern matriarch sitting centre surrounded by family, with the women wearing gorgeous ‘Picnic At Hanging Rock’ style dresses. I had always wanted a copy of this image but it eluded me, until recently. I found a labelled version amongst some old files of my parents. So I had it all this time without realising. The stern matriarch Jeanie Fleming Smith sitting in the centre is my great great grandmother if my family research is correct. Jeanie is my great grandmother I believe. I will need to refer back to my tree to confirm the details and find a date.

Meditating with Insight

I was about 16 years old when I meditated for the first time. I remember sitting on a chair outside and feeling the stillness, depth and presence. I was inspired by a description in a book by Doctor Ainlsee Meares.

Since then I have dabbled on and off without ever instilling a regular practice for myself, despite knowing and experiencing the benefits. I’ve used the Insight Timer app on my iPod for quite a few years now and find it helpful.

But recently I heard someone say they were enjoying the online community that Insight Timer offers. This was news to me. And since we have recently become more connected with the NBN, I had a closer look.

IMG_0128And behold a whole new community of meditators using this app. You can see how many people are using the app and meditating around the world and how many have meditated that day.

There are a huge variety of meditation soundtracks to select from depending on your own preference. There is music, verbal instructions and visualisations, sounds of nature, chanting, binaural beats, and much more.

You can select the soundtrack depending on the time you wish to spend in meditation. And there are personal statistics to keep you going. You get stars as you reach particular milestones. And when you have finished you can connect with others by saying “thank you for meditating with me today”.

#glamblogweekly

 

Snippets Thus Far

FullSizeRenderAs another birthday comes and goes I was reminiscing and here are some snippets of some decades of my life thus far:

  • As a youngster swimming and diving between the legs of my mother, aunt, and grandmother in the crystal clear waters at Sorrento as they floated and chatted with toes poking above the gentle waves.
  • Getting it as I learn to read and do maths. The wonder of reading books opening up whole new worlds to my young eager mind. John and Betty go to the beach with Scottie the dog.
  • At 5 years of age standing in awe at the entrance to the domed reading room of the State Library Victoria, my love for books validated; and my desire to become an architect seeded.
  • Eating sour blood plums straight from my grandmother’s tree as I sit perched in the branches.
  • Imagining house plans as I moved piles of freshly cut grass, shaping them into walls for rooms, as my Dad mowed the lawn.
  • Admiration as I watched my groovy older cousins and their friends dancing to music by The Beatles and wanting to grow up fast and be cool like them.
  • The first time I heard Moonlight Sonata and falling in love with piano music and Beethoven.
  • As a teenager the wild abandon of chasing kangaroos with a group of teens while on summer holidays at a Victorian National Park.
  • The ecstasy of pushing my body for netball, water-skiing, snow skiing, swimming, triathlon.
  • At fifteen savouring the nutty flavor and thick texture of Turkish coffee in Noumea.
  • Being covered head to toe in mud as the water receded at Eildon Weir and the campers made mud slides and mud baths along the banks.
  • The chill and terror as I dive deep in the brown lake waters looking for the body of a drowned person, knowing my first aid and lifesaving certificates would not help.
  • The achievement for a personal best time as I swam the butterfly leg in a relay at the Olympic Pool next to a returned Olympic butterflier. Not beating her, but proud of my performance.
  • Getting a rare A+ for an hard won English essay about Sir Thomas Moore; the Man for all Seasons.
  • Taking up the challenge posed to me by my Year 12 Physics teacher who said I would not pass the HSC Physics exam and proving him wrong.
  • The shame of wrong decisions, poor choices, and bad behaviour, mine and others. But learning anyway.
  • The shock of probable imminent death just prior to a head on collision that ended the lives of the two vehicles but fortunately not any of the people involved.
  • The joy, happiness and sweat saying the marriage vows under windblown willow trees on a hot summer’s day in my Aunts garden.
  • Adrenalin pumping as I stood on the roof still in high heals, water hose in hand, while above me the blades of the helicopter chopped noisily through the plumes of bushfire smoke during Ash Wednesday.
  • The relief and achievement of graduation as an Industrial Designer; then as a Librarian/Information Manager; and then again as a Master Librarian.
  • The births of my three ‘babies’; each one unique, and filled with abundance and all-encompassing love.
  • The release after the first hot sip of a good cup of tea made in a pot with tea leaves by master tea makers; my grandmother, my aunt, my mother, my brother.
  • Feeling like an ant exposed on the top of Uluru, a perfect vantage point to scan the endless landscape, not understanding the dreaming, but feeling the spirit at the Earth’s heart centre.
  • Feeling affronted with my perceived Western wealth and privilege when visiting Thailand.
  • Pure happiness despite the cold autumn breeze at Seawinds as my daughter is married surrounded by loving family.
  • Excitement as I sit in the stands under purple Darwin skies watching as my youngest son kicks his first goal in AFL football for Port Adelaide.
  • Feeling pride as my eldest son receives his Engineering degree with honours at Melbourne University.
  • Pride and satisfaction in four completed house building projects as owner builders with my designs and my husbands labour and project management.
  • Cutting loose on the dance floor with my husband not caring how silly we look as the beat takes hold.
  • Feeling like arriving home as I stood on the channel ferry seeing France for the first time (in this life).
  • Remembering where I was the day: Neil Armstrong walked on the moon; Lady Diana died; the World Trade Centre in the US was attacked.
  • Feeling bliss and belonging while drinking coffee in a café in Beaune France.
  • Comprehending grace and mercy holding my mother’s hand before she slips into unconsciousness and then leaves this world.IMG-0050
  • The heartbreak of betrayal and rejection.
  • Creating art, music, and food.
  • The immersion into music when a sound and song resonates with my heart.
  • Becoming a grandmother and getting to know and love a new little person.
  • The calm that settles my soul while outside in nature with the trees, birds, breeze, sea, sun and stars.

#glamblogweekly