Category Archives: Life & Thoughts

Art Work

The Littlest Princess announced the other day that she had volunteered me for a job… nice. 

They are learning about the planets, and this week it was the Moons’ turn.  Because the moon was rising early in the morning, they couldn’t see it in the evenings, so TLP offered my services, “My dad can draw a picture of the moon at work when it comes up!” 

What could I say? 

So, at 4am the other night I stood bleary eyed on a platform 4 storey’s up, waiting for the clouds to disperse.  I had a piece of paper I’d wrestled from our photocopier, and my blue work pen.  The clouds moved, and I quickly set to work.

Then the magic happened.  Instead of gazing about looking for trouble spots, signs of damage, or problems, I found myself looking at my workplace through an ‘artist eyes’.  The long conveyor runs, the tanks, the towers, the stacks, the pumps, the stockpiles and the way the moonlight enhanced their shapes.  The reflection of our lights over the harbour, and in a way the refinery actually looked quiet pretty

I finished the sketch, and in the semi-darkness of where I was standing, took a look and felt quite proud of my efforts.  I spent the remainder of my break sitting alone just appreciating the view.  

Since then, I’ve been seeing this place in a different light.  Literally.

BTW: the teacher liked my work… I’m eagerly awaiting my mark out of ten 🙂

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Leaf by Niggle

The next instalment of the Tolkien bedtime stories was trotted out the other night: Leaf by Niggle. 

This is a wrap up from Wikipedia:

In this story, an artist, named Niggle, lives in a society that does not much value art. Working only to please himself, he paints a canvas of a great Tree with a forest in the distance. He invests each and every leaf of his tree with obsessive attention to detail, making every leaf uniquely beautiful. Niggle ends up discarding all his other artworks, or tacks them onto the main canvas, which becomes a single vast embodiment of his vision.

However, there are many mundane chores and duties that prevent Niggle from giving his work the attention it deserves, so it remains incomplete and is not fully realized.

At the back of his head, Niggle knows that he has a great trip looming, and he must pack and prepare his bags.

Also, Niggle’s next door neighbour, a gardener named Parish, is the sort of neighbour who always drops by whining about the help he needs with this and that. Moreover, Parish is lame and has a sick wife, and honestly needs help — Niggle, having a good heart, takes time out to help.

And Niggle has other pressing work duties that require his attention. Then Niggle himself catches a chill doing errands for Parish in the rain.

Eventually, Niggle is forced to take his trip, and cannot get out of it. He has not prepared, and as a result ends up in a kind of institution, in which he must perform menial labour each day.

In time he is paroled from the institution, and he is sent to a place ‘for a little gentle treatment’. But he discovers that the new country he is sent to is in fact the country of the Tree and Forest of his great painting, now long abandoned and all but destroyed (except for the one perfect leaf of the title which is placed in the local museum) in the home to which he cannot return — but the Tree here and now in this place is the true realization of his vision, not the flawed and incomplete form of his painting.

Niggle is reunited with his old neighbour, Parish, who now proves his worth as a gardener, and together they make the Tree and Forest even more beautiful. Finally, Niggle journeys farther and deeper into the Forest, and beyond into the great mountains that he only faintly glimpsed in his painting.

Long after both Niggle and Parish have taken their journeys, the lovely field that they built together becomes a place for many travelers to visit before their final voyage into the Mountains, and it earns the name “Niggle’s Parish.”

Anyway, it’s a good yarn, with some great life lessons.  and the The Littlest Princess enjoyed it very much. 

Ol Tolkien had quite a gift.  Next week, I’ll read her Farmer Giles of Ham.  Another favourite!

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Bedtime Story – Smith of Wootton Major

The Littlest Princess has been asking for more bedtime stories lately, so I’ve been digging through my library to find interesting yarns for her.  Last week I dug out my deluxe edition of JRR Tolkiens Poems and Stories, and read her, Smith of Wootton Major. 

It’s one of three great stories in the collection, and she enjoyed it very much.  JRR writes a good fairy, or faery, tale… along with epic heroic romances.  You can read a summary of the plot here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_of_Wootton_Major 

When we’d finished reading, I tucked her in and wandered off to bed, and it struck me how similar my life was to that of Smith in a few ways.  He was a blacksmith, a fellow metal worker.  I sing while I work.  The majority of the things I make are made with a creative bent, and I’ve often gone off alone on trips, and come home more thoughtful, or ‘fay’, my eyes lit by an internal glow.  And rimmed with dark lines!  

I’ve had adventures that filled me with wonder, at times with terror, and sang, danced and laughed with friends, and at times, complete strangers.

Sometimes I too feel like my life has been ‘touched’ by a lucky star.

And along with the delight I see in a small girls eyes as I turn the pages, I can also see the light of that star shining in her as well.        

One day I’ll regretfully have to hand my ‘star’ on, but I think it will be in good hands…

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How I Stay Motivated

In order to keep myself motivated, upbeat, and pushing on, I visit a few sites daily to keep my ‘Saw Sharpened’.  The following isn’t the full list, but these are the ones I hit regularly because they ‘call to me’, and they do the job when I need a shot in the arm 🙂  

Craig Harper http://www.craigharper.com.au/  :  funny, down to earth, and highly motivating.  Craig’s specialty is pushing his readers to think about their basic motivations for exercise, and pointing out some of the poorer decisions we make.  Over the years, he’s shared some funny, touching, and educational posts.  His site is full of great stuff, and all of it is communicated with a generous splash of larrikinism.

Brian Kim, who lives at, http://www.briankim.net/  :  Brian has some of the best posts on life change / direction I’ve ever read.  He has been sending me (and thousands of others as well) daily inspirational posts which are very helpful, and seem to hit the nail firmly on the head, eg: this one arrived the other day, and this is the nuts and bolts of it…

Enjoy the process.  You want the end result.  But if you’re not enjoying the process of getting to the end result, then there is a fairly good chance you’re not going to make it.

Tim Brownson  http://www.adaringadventure.com/ :  Tim is a Pom living in America ( I know, I know… but give him a go anyway ) and has written, what I think, are possibly the best, and funniest, two posts on following your dreams with your eyes wide open.  This was the first, http://www.adaringadventure.com/life-coaching/dont-just-follow-your-passion/ , and this one was popped up today, http://www.adaringadventure.com/life-coaching/would-you-work-for-minimum-wage/ , and is in a similar, practical, funny vein. 

BTW: If you feel like a real laugh, then read this post from the other day (it contains a sentence where Oprah use a swear words, so send the kiddies to their rooms first):  http://www.adaringadventure.com/controversial/7-things-that-should-be-banned-on-the-internet/

And then there is Seamus Anthony, who can be found here:  http://www.rebelzen.com/  Seamus is a muso living in Melbourne who has some interesting stuff on his site, but I’m mostly grateful to Seamus for finally settling the debate in my head re: Choosing my One Thing.  You are aware that most motivational types will advise to you nail ‘one thing’ and go for it.  But Seamus and I, share a common trait, we are Renaissance Men, or, Jacks of All Trades. People who love to do everything.  So, our ‘one thing’ is Be an Artists… writers, musicians, poets, dreamers, talkers, and most importantly doers. 

And speaking of ‘One Thing’, the term Renaissance People came from Barbara Sher http://www.barbarasher.com/, the first person who showed me that it was possible to dream and hope while working for a living.  My mother gave me one of Barbara’s books for my 30th birthday because she saw the title and said it reminded her of me:  “I Could Do Anything, If Only I Knew What It Was”.  I laughed when I read the title, but when I finished the book I was hooked.  Barbara’s books have inspired me to try writing, painting, and creating, and years later, I’m still going.  It’s a slow, slow, (oh God it’s slow) process but, at least I feel like I’m on the right path.  And it’s nice to know you’re not alone!     

As you can plainly see, I can’t stick to ‘one Guru’, I need a few to meet my needs.  And if you think about it, that’s the way life works.  People will come into your life for a reason, or a season.  Some will teach you one thing, others, many.  Some will support, others guide.  And, in turn, you will teach, guide, stretch, push, and help others.  

And in those times when self doubt, rejection, despair or hopelessness tries to drag me down, I turn to the sites above and usually they pick me up, dust me off, call me a sook ( um, that would be you Craig 🙂 ), make me laugh ( Timbo! ) then give me a gentle shove in the right direction.

Thanks folks.

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Johnson 25 hp Outboard Fun

It’s that time of year, when the warm weather returns to Gladstone, and my thoughts start turning toward the Spring / Summer fishing season. 

‘Collapso’ my faithful tinnie, has been sitting neglected in the shed for the better part of this year, kept company by my equally neglected motorcycle.  Anyway, before I launched the old girl, I thought I’d give the outboard a ‘once over’ just to put my mind at ease.

Don't! Don't even think about it...

Now my mate, the ex-outboard mechanic, warned me that the Johnson 25 can be a little ‘tricky’ to re-assemble.  Over the years, I’ve dabbled with things mechanical, so I pushed on regardless, casually thinking I’ll overcome any difficulties as they occur with the ease of a practiced pro.  Ho, ho, ho.

Well let me just say this.  If I ever find the &#*@# who designed the leg of my outboard, I will bend him over, then insert an entire Johnson 25 outboard, including the hand controls, up his &$)#, then I’ll $*#@(@#, and, $*@#(_*, before &^!#(#!@!!! 

What a stuff around to do a simple little job!  I got the thing apart in record time.  Lay everything out so I knew what order to put it all back together again.  Was pleasantly surprised to find that my water pump is still in Tip Top condition, then started re-assembly. 

Lining up the pipes for the pump outlet was a nightmare.  I haven’t sworn so much since the time I replaced a Datsun 180B motor for a mate… anyway, after an hour I returned to the house, rang my mate and asked what the ‘trick’ was.  He laughed. 

Another 1/2 hour of my life was wasted trying to line the pipes up, before I gave up and drove my daughter to soccer.  I spent the entire game fretting about that damned outboard leg… BTW: the little monster scored a ripper goal which took my mind off the problem for a few minutes 🙂

Anyway, back home, I had one more go before I inserted a grenade into the water inlet, and Lo!  it went back together.  Hooked up the water, and Hurrah!  everything worked.  So this weekend, I’ll hit the Calliope River, run up and down the creeks, keeping near the bank (just in case…), and see how it goes.  I’m quitely confident. 

So, the lesson I’ve learned is:  Next time, pay someone else to do it! 

I don’t need this *$&#…

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Motivation Burnout

I was 14 when I purchased a copy of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, much to my mates’ amusement.  He actually laughed when I picked it up, and kept laughing as we meandered through the checkout, and got on our bikes and pedalled home. 

He laughed when I bought a booklet from a magazine ad, called ‘The Hercules Superdyne System’, it was a book of isometric exercises… “in just seven days, I can make you a ma-aa-aa-n!”

Boys dreaming...

I read those books, I did the exercises, I read more books, followed advice, purchased tapes, and joined multi level marketing groups just to get access to more motivational material (and just for that alone I should seek professional help!).  I dreamed of a bright future… 

I’ve heard some of the best, and a lot of the ordinary.  And lately, there’s a lot more guru’s out there, a lot of bad ones, some good, some amazing, but too many for me to follow.

Years later, I continue to follow a few favourites.  And others, I had a brief affair with and now feel embarrassed, and in some cases ‘soiled’, for having even opened their books!  And a few of them made me mad as hell.

The thing is, I’m drawn to these people.  I like their outlook, their can do, never say die, push on at all costs, laser like focus, overly optimistic attitudes.  They are living life to the full as they jet around the planet sharing their particular message, thoughts, or doctrines.  I can’t seem to turn away from them, they’re exciting to be around.  The world is full of hope, change, and thrills when I pick up their books and read on spell bound.  

BUT, has it made any difference?  When I think about it, what changes have I really made?  Am I living my personal dream?  Am I ecstatically happy with my life?  Would I recommend a young man starting out on his life’s journey to emulate me? 

Nope. 

These were the things going through my head the other night at work when I pulled the latest motivational book out of my work bag at smoko.  I looked at it and sighed, then realised that even if someone pressed a gun to my head and demanded I open it and read the first chapter I wouldn’t do it.  I just couldn’t see the point, and as one of my workmates pointed out, “You’ve got a great work ethic, all this education, and a terrific attitude, but you’re stuck here in day release jail just like the rest of us.  And every week, you get paid the same as the people who come here and do absolutely ‘stuff’ all.  How does that make you feel?”  Not real good… but I continue to push myself.  I can’t help it…

Even as a child 'Arnie' knew what he wanted!

Ironically my mate, ‘the Mocker’, is also very driven as well, but he went on to be a success in his chosen field, has travelled the world, and as a young bloke bought a set of weights and built himself a body to die for.  People often compare us: similar backgrounds, upbringing, education, etc. but totally different outcomes.  I’m the one who believes in hope, change, and goal setting, whereas he deals strictly in reality.       

The ‘Dreamer’ and the ‘Doer’.

The difference is, he has a ‘strategy’, whereas I have an ‘idea’.  I’m still 14 and dithering over ‘what I want to do when I grow up’, whereas he has a set of goals he’s doggedly ticking off as he completes them. 

The major difference between us is our long term outlook.  I’m ashamed to say that we are the living embodiment of ‘The Grasshopper and The Ant’.  I’ve spent a lot of time hopping about with no particular aim in mind, whereas he has persistently pushed onwards and upwards. 

Where I’m blown by the winds of change, fortune and luck, he’s forging ahead in a straight line toward his destination, and I have absolutely no doubt that he will make it. 

And I hope he does! 

Because if my own plans, hopes and dreams don’t work out, I might have to ask him for a job later, and I’ll be the most motivated Grasshopper worker he’s got 🙂

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It’s That Time

Yesterday I got hit not once, but twice by angry magpies, and we’ve started turning the fans on again during the day, so Spring has Sprung early here in Gladstone.

Which means that it must be close to our Wedding Anniversary (#20 I think…), AND, the 2nd anniversary of this blog.  *Sound of herald trumpets*  

Reading, Writing, and Slurping... a relaxing combo 🙂

So here we are, 2 years, 243 posts, (well, 244 now) and something in the vicinity of 11,000 views later, I’m thinking, not a bad effort for an exercise in writing discipline; which was the main reason I started blogging, to get into the habit of writing at least 2 times a week. 

And that effort paid off when I finally cracked a column writing gig for my local paper.  Knowing that no matter how tired or ‘out of ideas’ I was, the simple formula of – Sit down, Type, and Wait to see what develops, would always produce something.  

And to my own surprise, I found a few gems in the gravel pit of my mind, and learned that the only way to find more was to keep digging, and digging deeper 🙂        

So as the sun sets on another blogging year, I’m starting to wonder if I should keep going?  Is it perhaps time to retire from the ‘blogosphere’ and focus instead like a laser on my other scribblings? 

This little blog, in the dark backwoods of the web, is one of the few creative outlets where I can let my brain and fingers just go ‘blah, blah, blah’ without the need for any serious editing.  It’s kind of nice to just log on, type, and log off.

Which leads rather neatly to the next big question:  Can I Stop?!     

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

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Indecision Procrastination

A mate is nearing 40, and he’s a bit down about the fact.  Behind him are his hopes of playing footy for Australia, travelling around the world as a male model, having a real career, playing lead guitar like Slash from Guns n’ Roses, and, well, everything in fact.  He came to me because I’m the most motivated bloke he knows… apparently. 

A 'must have'!

We talked for a little while, and it dawned on me that I wasn’t that far behind him!  I too had a heap of unfulfilled hopes, dreams and desires.  Things that I’ve wanted to accomplish for years, and have been putting off until ‘the time is right’ ie:  when the kids are older, when we’ve got more money, when… Jupiter aligns with Mars, I don’t know?!  Yeah, so much for Mr. Motivation!    

The thing is, I work with, and know people who have spent their entire lives putting things off until ‘the time is right’, and they are miserable, envious, and generally frustrated.  And when some of them actually take their first nervous steps towards achieving one of their goals, they are amazed at how alive and fulfilled they feel, and often wonder why they put it off for so long. 

Why?  The answer, I am guessing, is fear.  Fear of leaving ‘Comfort Central’.  Fear of poverty, accident, disaster, being mocked for having a go, then failing, thus proving everyone right about you being a fool.  Fear of crawling back to a job you hate.  Fear of, well, sometimes we don’t know what we’re afraid of, but there must be something, because whatever it is, it’s stopping you (me!) in your tracks. 

My big fear is that of all the choices in front of me, I’ll pick the exact wrong one, and really stuff up all my hard fought for ground.  Indecision Procrastination, too many choices, too little time. 

But things are changing…

Lately, I’ve started chanting a simple mantra when I get a bit ‘blah’ about the future, it goes like this: 

“Others have done it, you can too, pick yourself up and have a go!

Others have done it, you can too, write your way out of the job you do!” 

Hey, it’s corny, it’s tacky, but it stops all the negative thoughts in their tracks, before they have a chance to spiral my thinking into the ground.  Stopping those vicious ‘circling thoughts’ is a skill, and I’ve only just started really practicing it in a serious way.  Results so far have been encouraging.  I’ve got an instant energy boost for starters!  And at work last night, when a host of things were starting to mount up and I could feel the ol’ rage button being pushed, I repeated the little mantra 3 times, and Lo!  I was still mad as hell 🙂 but the edge had been taken off as the following picture replaced the harmful thoughts:

Me, the writer, sitting at my desk and looking back on this time and smiling. 

Yet every now and then that niggling, fearful little voice pipes up, ‘What if it’s the wrong dream?’  To which I immediately think, ‘Better to have a go, than never know.’

I’ll keep you posted…

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Make him an offer he can’t refuse…

This week has been pretty busy here at Gladbloke Mansion, so I’ve had to be a little selective with how I’ve spent my time.  Days have been spent slapping paint on walls, and my evenings have been pretty full too.  Still there has been some time to write, play my guitar, teach The Littlest Princess some chords on her ukelele (which she appears to be a ‘natural’ at playing 🙂 ), and later, when all is quiet, I slip on a DVD, open a pack of peanuts and relax.

I've been torturing my family with this speech and my Brando impersonations all week!

This week I watched the entire Godfather Trilogy, and have been left speechless at how good it is.  I had forgotten how good it is!  The acting, the scenery (particularly Sicily), the plot, simply brilliant.  The writing, the dialogue… genius. 

I was reminded of growing up in Innisfail in far north Queensland, surrounded by European families, mostly Italian, but also many Yugoslav, Greek, and Chinese.  When we celebrated with our neighbours it was like a United Nations party!  The food, the singing, the stories… wonderful.  But mostly the food!  Even now I can recall how enjoyable it was to walk down our dirt road of an evening, smelling all the exotic aromas coming from the kitchens of the houses, and to hear different languages being spoken.

And as I sat watching The Godfather, happy memories of my childhood came flooding back, (of course, there was none of the violence, shootings, threats and garrotting which made the movie so appealing!), and I found myself regretting not taking the time to learn at least one of the languages that I heard daily for many years… well, apart from the many swear words that we boys picked up around the mens’ sheds. 

So, with this in mind, I’ve decided that it’s never too late to learn, so today I’ll try to find a foreign language tutor here in Gladstone.  I can think of worse ways of spending a day off… painting for starters!

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Liberdee, Labordum and the Boat People

Liberdee and Labordum… Frank Hardy (Oz author, writer) used this term many years ago to describe the two major Australian political parties, as a tongue in cheek reference to how similar they had become. 

During my first ‘no news’ week, I have to admit that I haven’t really missed the election coverage, and from what I can glean off my family and friends, I’m not missing anything. 

‘Boring’ is the term that is most frequently used. 

Surprisingly, Julia the Red Queen hasn’t been a big hit with a lot of female voters in my neck of the woods, and when I ask why, it isn’t for political reasons, it’s more to do with looks (dress, hair, walk), voice, and the stabbing of KRudd. 

When I ask if they are concerned about some of the policies being touted by both sides, a shrug is all the reply I get.

“I’ll vote for the mob who stops the boats!”  Seems to be the major theme around me at the moment.  Folk are scared, emotional, or angry at boat people, and when I ask why, I get the usual tirade of cliche’s relating to terrorism, which is making me worry a little.  And the major parties appear to be doing little to allay those fears, instead their answer is to continue throwing fuel on the redneck fire, and they both seem keen to keep locking up women and children for indefinite periods.  Where’s the vision, the compassion?  Why are boat people being used as a political football?  What am I missing?!     

Anyway, as for the election… 3 more weeks of being bored by carefully controlled sound grabs, and ‘he said, she said’ comments, from the Red Queen and the Mad Monk, has more or less confirmed that continuing to avoid the news is possibly the best policy 🙂

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