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

 

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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

Let me count the ways

What’s your blog about? That is the first question posed for the yearlong Twitter challenge for library professionals to #glamblogweekly.

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Katie of Strawberries of Integrity gave an efficient bullet point list to answer this question. And I relate to most of those: life,  bereavements; family; music; movies; reading; some library…I would add art; books; design; podcasts, tech, genealogy, and general musings.

I loved the article length posting by Paige the Librarian in answer to the question for #glamblogweekly and find her explanation defining the differences between the professions excellent, so much so that I quote it here:

“To look at it a different way, a librarian might search for a book that directly meets an information request. An archivist might go to that same book and think about how the book got on the shelf and who owned it before it got there and if there are any bookmarks in the book. A museum curator might think about which illustrations or spread of the book would look nice in an exhibition. A historian might think about the era the book was published in and what it tells us about that era. A conservator might look at the book and think, how much longer will this book last and what can I do to make it last longer? It is true, we are sometimes very different.”

So I began blogging in 2006 with The Blog of a Footballer’s Mother. This was very much a journal about following the journey of one of my sons as he became an AFL footballer. I then started French Accent as a way to pursue my love and appreciation for French culture. This blog remains online but I don’t post there anymore, despite my continuing yearning for some elusive French quality in my days.

Soon after I started SuesBent and have been dabbling ever since. ‘suesbent’ is the abbreviation of my name back when Hotmail first appeared and 8 characters was the limit for the username. (showing my age) I use it to sign my paintings too. I like the play on words that “Sue is bent” because I do see the world from an alternate view and love the unexpected things in life. I love Chaos Theory, Quantum Physics, Mandelbrot Theory, and yes I am a geek. In the library world I love the work of Tim Sherratt. Not that I write about these topics because I am just an appreciator in those lofty realms.

In recent years, since my parents died, I have found my ‘voice’ become silent. I have explored the reasons but it still eludes me. So I embrace this challenge to #glamblogweekly as a means to find my voice once again. Bring on the questions.

To sit or not to sit

Art, music, love, life and loss: a novel that weaves these themes together falls into a favourite genre for me. And obviously for many others, given that Heather Rose has won the Stella Prize for her 2017 novel The Museum of Modern Love.

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I love it when I discover something new that I had never heard about before, and I confess that I had never heard of the artist Marina Abramović before reading this novel that is inspired by her work.

The Artist is Present was an amazingly popular artwork that Marina performed at MoMA in 2010. For seventy-five days Marina sat while individuals sat across from her one after another. 1,554 people sat while another 850,000 observed from the sidelines, many coming back.

Here is a video clip from the last day of her sit. And here is another astounding video of when Ulay came back to see her after their epic parting on the Great Wall of China years before in 1988.

Heather Rose writes:

The days had been fields of faces, bright, unique, vivid, strange. …Every face told countless lives and memories and part of humanity she had never glimpsed, not through all the years of seeking.

But it is the intertwining story of Arky Levin that gives this work of fiction life and opportunity for exquisite prose.

His hands ran up and down the keyboard…He heard the theme that would run in and out of the film, threading the scenes together. Raindrops falling on leaves, a moon in the sky and this lovely melody.

He is a sad, reserved, composer of film scores: a private man who is reluctantly drawn into this temporary and unusual life that surrounds Marina Abramović as she sits and gazes into the eyes of strangers at MoMA.

Rarely do I give a 5-star rating on GoodReads. Thank you Heather Rose.

Deliberation Reflection

So many times over the years since I was five years old, I have entered this iconic building: the State Library Victoria. Sometimes for work, or study, or just for the pure delight of standing in its gorgeous space surrounded by significant works expressed in books, art, and other media.

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This time I returned for work and I felt fortunate to be selected for this unique training experience. Thirty-seven library staff from Victoria’s public libraries and the State Library were to deliberate on a topic. Led by the engagement professionals of Mosaic Lab, the old classroom model of teaching was abandoned and replaced by an interactive, collaborative, and inclusive method. All attendees were engaged fully. No one person could sit back and relax at the back of the room. The best thoughts were drawn out of each individual, then honed into a clear precise idea.

This style of training follows the International Association for Public Participation IAP2 model. It began with a warm-up one day practice session where the method was applied to real library world cases. Then we viewed a webinar to provide information about the deliberation sessions. An online forum placed on Loomio provided a platform for introductions, comments, and relevant reading materials.

The remit to be deliberated on was:

What are the ten best ideas for engaging the community to design transformational library services?

Day one involved some quick getting-to-know each other exercises, followed by some discussions to discuss the purpose, goals and rules of this deliberation. We looked at the reading materials once again and discussed one of the main current strategic documents on use at public libraries in Victoria: Victorian Public Libraries 2030 Strategic Framework. It was interesting to hear the comments from others who were new to this work. Written in 2012 from a huge collaborative brain storm effort towards future mapping, after only five years it is looking dated. Some scenarios have eventuated such as the rise of entrepreneaurship, and brain deterioration problems, while other scenarios have not yet come to pass in a significant way. Opening the doors to the community has brought a wide range of challenges that were unforeseen, and this is predominantly due to restricted and limited library spaces trying desperately to accomodate overwhelming and conflicting demands.

Five presenters were selected to provide further context, expert knowledge, and stimulation. These presenters were: Christine McKenzie, Municipal Association Victoria Executive Assistant for the Public Libraries Victoria Network, and International Federation of Library Associations President Elect; Karyn Siegmann, Manager Libraries at Bayside City Council, Chris Kelly, CEO at Goldfields Library Corporation, and two designers/architects with specialties in participatory design and human-centred design. These people offered five presentations and discussions to five groups, instead of one discourse to the whole. This enabled informal discussion and question time adding a depth of insight into the community engagement process.

After lunch we began on the ideas. First we were allowed to write down our own ideas. Then we shared them with three others, discussing them all and agreeing to three or four of the best ideas from the group. These were offered to the whole group, arriving at a total of 21 ideas at the end of the day.

On the second day the ideas had been posted onto voting boards. Each person placed a vote against each idea. These votes provided a weight: ‘love it’, ‘like it’, ‘live with it’, ‘lament it’, and ‘loathe it’. The 80-20 rule applied so that any idea slipping below 20% was discarded. However it was checked first to ensure this assessment was right. A minority report could be submitted if there was strong enough sentiment by anyone.

On first count four ideas were discarded because they fell below the line. Discussion ensued that some of the ideas were in fact similar or part of another idea. This resulted in matching that brought the total number of ideas to ten. Two of the most popular ideas absorbed two or three of the smaller ideas.

So with the valid ideas on the table we split into working group to flesh out and describe the ideas. I ended up working on an idea that I didn’t really like much or had much passion for, but that is part of this collaborative process and it is good to bring an impartial eye to the idea. We quickly listed the title, purpose, rationale and a couple of references for examples or similar ideas done elsewhere in the world. This was efficiently and quickly completed with 37 people working on ten separate sections of a live Google document.

We swapped blurbs with a nearby group giving feedback and opportunity to hone the description further. Then our two groups worked on the preamble for the whole document, a colleague quickly typing up an excellent introduction.

The finished document was then shown to the whole group on a large screen. We all had the opportunity to ‘red card’ an idea and give further feedback about any perceived flaws. This process was a lively debate that ultimately resulted in all ten ideas staying fixed to the final report.

The finished report was printed and formally presented to the representatives from the State Library Victoria, Debra Rosenfeldt, Manager, Public Libraries and Community Engagement at State Library of Victoria, and Paula Kelly Paull, ‎Manager Learning Communities at Hobsons Bay City Council and representative of the Live and Learn group of the SLV/ PLVN.

I left the State Library late on a Friday afternoon on the eve of the Queens Birthday long weekend. Wearily I walked along Swanson Street Melbourne towards Flinders Street Station, with the lively singing of soccer fans going to see Argentina play Brazil at the MCG.

Oh, and what were the ten best ideas for engaging the community to design transformational library services? Well I’m sure the report will be published and made available on the PLVN website soon.

Go Digital

My personal goal for the next financial year is to ‘go digital’ as much as possible at home and at work.

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I have bought a new iPad with more storage space and plan to use this as my work and home tool.

As a pre-digital-native I have been brought up with paper, handwriting, notebooks, journals, and cardboard folders for all of those important paper files. But I am over it. How often do you actually go back and read those files?

At work we have a perfectly good document management system that I use each day. So there is no need to save a paper copy. In my work we need to promote the programs and events to the customers and so we create posters, fliers, brochures, etc. We need to do this, but for myself personally I aim to ditch all of the folders with the paper copies. I will still use notebooks for now as I more to a completely digital workflow. I am excited. I wonder how the stream of consciousness brain to hand to pen to paper translates to the hand to keypad to device screen? It feels different.

As a designer who prefers the minimalist look I love the aesthetics of a paperless, folderless desk space. Connections and back up systems are so much better and easier to access than ever before.

To get to the paperless minimalist office though takes some work. I have to sort through all of those precious saved documents, assess their value, and either scan and save or toss it in the bin.

The digital result further enhances the handwritten, and hand drawn work. So art, notebooks, and journals become things of beauty.

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2016

These are the books I read in 2016 with my ratings – 18 non-fiction and 12 fiction:

  1. The monk who sold his Ferrari: a fable about fulfilling your dreams & reaching your destiny by Robin S. Sharma 3 stars (re-read)
  2. The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins 4 stars
  3. Family secrets by Liz Byrski 3 stars
  4. The eyeball end by Ali Mc 3 stars
  5. The Wahls Protocol: How I beat progressive MS using Paleo principles and functional medicine by Dr Terri Wahls 3 stars
  6. Testimony by Anita Shreve 2 stars
  7. Happiness anywhere anytime: Happiness secrets revealed by missing socks, my dog, and a hitman by Dr Bruce Wells 3 stars
  8. The eye of the sheep by Sofie Laguna 3 stars
  9. The honeymoon effect: the science of creating heaven on Earth by Dr Bruce H Lipton 3 stars
  10. Oneness by Rasha 4 stars
  11. Wild mind: Living the writers life by Natalie Golderg 3 stars(re-read)
  12. I swear I’ll make it up to you by Mishka Shubaly 4 stars
  13. Creative journal writing: the art and heart of reflection by Stephanie Dowrick 3 stars
  14. Still life with teapot by Brigid Lowry 3 stars
  15. A woman of the goldfields: recollections of Emily Skinner 1854 – 1878 by Edward Duyker 3 stars
  16. Me before you by Jojo Moyes 3 stars
  17. After you by Jojo Moyes 3 stars
  18. The yoga of Max’s discontent by Karan Bajaj 4 stars
  19. Fifteen young men by Paul Kennedy 4 stars
  20. Only in Spain: a foot-stomping, firecracker of a memoir about food, Flamenco, and falling in love by Nellie Bennett 2 stars
  21. The happiness of pursuit: finding the quest that will bring purpose to your life by Chris Guillebeau 3 stars
  22. The chameleon’s poison by Iurgi Urrutia 4 stars
  23. Wood Green by Sean Rabin 4 stars
  24. Cloudwish by Fiona Wood 3 stars
  25. Penguin Bloom: the odd little bird who saved a family by Cameron Bloom 3 stars
  26. The best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion 1 star
  27. Reckoning: A memoir by Magda Szubanski 3 stars
  28. The rose of Tibet by Lionel Davidson 3 stars
  29. Super accelerated living: how to manifest an epic life by Bentinho Massaro 4 stars
  30. The world of the Happy Pear by Stephen and David Flynn 4 stars

All of the books that make it to the reading challenge list I did actually read to the end. Books I Did Not Finish aren’t listed.

These selections have been influenced by:

  • authors that were guests of the library where I work;
    • Ali Mc
    • Sofie Laguna
    • Dr Bruce Wells
    • Iurgi Urrutia
    • Paul Kennedy
  • books and authors discussed on various podcasts;
    • Mishka Shubaly
    • Stephen and David Flynn
    • Chris Guillebeau
    • Dr Terri Wahls
    • Dr Bruce Lipton
    • Robin Sharma
    • Bentinho Massaro
    • Karan Bajaj
  • also serendipity and curiosity.