All posts by Colin

I am a Traveller, Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker and Trainer.

Jillian 33 – Some Writing Notes

Writing tips from Our Jillian

For the start of these episodes go to
http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

Writing has been on my mind. Lately I have been reading a lot of free books on my kindle. They are promotions mostly by newer authors and some of them are fantastic.

Some of them fail the very first test of writing – not even good writing – just writing in general. They are just not interesting and do not hold a reader enthralled for any-time at all. Some are also diatribes by people with an axe to grind and these ??writers?? use their stories like the basis for a lecture. Not fun at all.

I mentioned this to Jillian as I know she writes and wants to be a full time author some day.

She said that there were two things a writer, of fiction anyway, needs to be aware of. Obviously there are more than two things or anyone could be a writer, but two elements that are more important than any others.

“OK.” I said. “I'll bite. But don't they say there is a book in everyone, you just need to find the gumption to let it out?”

“True.” she replied, “but you still have to have some idea about the process or the technique. Why do you think there are some very famous writers whose books are read by huge numbers of people, and prolific authors with very large lists and very few readers. And I am not just talking esoteric and less accessable subjects here. I am talking your basic novel that no-one wants to read.”

“Oh, I know what you are going to say,” Jillian butted in “It is just practice, and if you write 500 words per day everyday you will get into a habit and your book will suddenly appear out of apparently nowhere.”

Now that is a good idea (there is a web site that has a 31 day writing challenge based around this very idea) and you should do this if you want to develop your muscle, but, as you know, the wrong exercise will not help a muscle, it may even be a bad thing. So you do need SOME technique.” Jillian was rising to the challenge. I could visualise her in her school marm garb with chalk in her hand and white dust floating about her head like a miasma of cigarette smoke. It was pretty awesome to see her in action this way.

I had a thought. “Well, it's true I have seen some pretty poor examples where people have just taken their lives and some stuff that they'd like to do put it together and let their imagination, as they say, run wild.”

“If that's what they mean when they say there is a novel in everyone' – I reckon in many cases it should stay where it is.”

“True again,” Jillian said, “but the addition of a tad of actual knowledge, (there are after all University courses on writing and journalism and stuff like that,) might be just a little beneficial don't you think? So, perhaps, it is something you can and need to learn.

“OK.” I said. “The first thing is a good plot. The action must be awesome? Right?”

“Nup.” She dismissed me with a flourish. “A very famous author once asked us at a seminar given as part of the Writers Festival in whatever city I was in at the time, 'What was the plot of the latest Harry Bosch or Alex Cross novel that you read?' No one remembered. But they all knew Harry Bosch or Alex Cross, a lot about his life, wife and or kids if he had any, what car he drove and many other things he had got up to, but the latest adventure (The Plot) no one could immediately call to mind.

“So.” she said majestically, “plot is secondary to fabulous characters. Your novel needs to be full of personas that will grab the readers by the nose and lead them places they would love to go but are scared, or show them things they have dreamed about, or make them part of a reality that is impossible but

wonderful at the same time. Readers will identify with the folk in the story. They will live their lives with them. A vicarious existence they had only imagined. The characters need to be real and LIVE in the minds of the readers. All else is secondary.”

Hating to interrupt this flow of erudition I took my life in my hands and said, “Plot – which I naively thought of as the story – is not that important, then?”

“Of course it's important you moron,” she blustered. “but if the characters are not engaging then no one cares. If you don't mind whether the detective, for example, lives or dies. becomes corrupted or sleeps with the suspected killer, or any other plot twist or turn, then none of it matters to you as the reader.”

“OK.” I think I’ve got it.” I say a tad chastened, “but exactly where does the plot fit in?”

“Good question,” Jillian winks. “It is the glue that holds all the characters together. Why is there a detective, why a jilted lover, who is hiding in the shrubbery, what is the point of this discussion and where is the money? All of these plot or story elements are connections between the characters and are the twists and turns that make their lives (and by extension – yours) fascinating. The plot is like a roadmap to your character's final destination.”

“I remember,” I thought out loud, “when someone in a story I was reading acted in a way that seemed to be completely opposite to how I expected them to respond (out of character if you will), that I lost interest in this person and figured I really don't care what you do. Yes. I reckon that this character had been set up with beliefs and values that wouldn't have generally allowed her to do whatever it was she did and so was unbelievable. Therefore I lost empathy and all my other feelings for this person and what they did or didn't do or what happened to them was not something I wanted to know about. I put the book down and never returned to it.”

“Something like that,” said Jillian. “you have to be aware of being overly judgemental, though, they are characters in a story remember, so not everything can be explained. And sometimes timeline and other literary devices may mask possible major changes in a person's character attributes. But yes. You might find things like that.”

“Okaaaay. Let me think on that for a while”, I said thoughtfully.

By the way, There are a huge number of websites that are focussed on this topic. Here is ONE I found. It is not necessarily the best; it is one of many, but it has some good stuff including a downloadable cheat sheet to help with character development.

Character Development

“What is the second element of which you spoke?”

“I reckon we've had enough for one time. Don't you? What say we talk about the next bit later? Besides it is hard to explain and even harder to do consistently.”#ourjillian

Please like & share:

Martial Arts And The Force

Go No Sen; Sen No Sen; SenSen No Sen

To start, these three terms refer to the different kinds of timing used in dealing with an attacker in budo training. The timing of the response to an attack in generally, aikido and they came from O-Sensei Ueshiba Morihei, Founder of Aikido.

Budo

The modern budō has no external enemy, only the internal enemy, one's ego that must be fought. Budo gives attention to the mind and how one should develop oneself. Keep this in mind for a little later.

Go No Sen; Sen No Sen; SenSen No Sen

Aikido

O-Sensai says “In Aikido, there is absolutely no attack. To attack means that the spirit has already lost. We adhere to the principle of absolute nonresistance, that is to say, we do not oppose the attacker. Thus, there is no opponent in Aikido. The victory in Aikido is masakatsu and agatsu; since you win over everything in accordance with the mission of heaven, you possess absolute strength.”

O-Sensai goes on to say, “If I were to try to verbalize it I would say that you control your opponent without trying to control him. That is, the state of continuous victory. There isn't any question of winning over or losing to an opponent. In this sense, there is no opponent in Aikido. Even if you have an opponent, he becomes a part of you, a partner you control only.”

This is often interpreted to mean that correct victory is winning over your own self or ego.

Reaching this state of selflessness, is the way to swift victory (not only in martial contexts but also in life itself).

A quick summary:

  • Go no sen - After the attack. Block and counter
  • Sen no sen - Attack the attack. Be faster than your opponent
  • Sensen no sen - Take initiative. Attack before the attack.

Let's look at these terms in a bit more detail.

Sen

The Japanese character for ”sen” can also be read as “saki.” It means “before”. But in the terms go no sen, sen no sen and sensen no sen, it is an abbreviation of sorts for the word “sente” meaning initiative or lead. The “te” in sente means hand, so sente directly translates as “before hand.”

Go no sen

Go means “after. So, a combatant takes the initiative in a situation after the opponent has already started an attack. In other words, once an opponent starts to attack, the defending combatant performs this technique. After the before hand.

We move in harmony with the attacker, but it is the attacker that is taking the initiative in the attack and we are mirroring his or her movements.

Sen no sen

Sen no sen means before the attack. Sen no sen implies that you become aware of an opponent's intention of attacking and right at the time when he is starting this attack, you step in and stop it. To continue the thought before – this is before the before hand.

Sensen No Sen

This term consists of a repetition of the term sen. So this refers to the timing before sen no sen. It is the case of initiating a movement intended to lead the attacker’s spirit as well as to draw forth an actual attack, in order to utilize this attack for a defensive technique. And the thought here becomes – before before the before hand.

What does it mean to us and how does this energy force stuff fit in?

I guess where I am going with this is the fact that martial arts students are taught that there is no attack, only defence. And they are in addition taught to either figure out when this attack has begun, or to realise that an attack is imminent, to know what form that attack is likely to take and to lead the attacker forwards into a defense strategy that has already been crystalised in the brain of the defendant.

Sounds like an energy force to me. And a very clever harnessing of said force for the purposes of good.

I have before heard of martial arts opponents being 'knocked' to the ground without ever being touched. That surely is a force to be reckoned with.

Remember what we said about Budo training – The modern budō has no external enemy, only the internal enemy, one's ego that must be fought. Budo gives attention to the mind and how one should develop oneself. Eckhardt Tolle has a lot to say about this in his book “The New Earth”.

Martial arts and 'THE FORCE' in Star Wars seem to have a lot in common. Leaves me to wonder how such a thing can so quickly be debunked as pseudoscience.

Your Own Examples

Perhaps you can think of examples from your own lives where there has been some indication of an energy or life force that is inexplicable by your basic laws of science, but nevertheless has happened to you or those close to you. I'd love to hear about them.

More next time. #CareerChangeStrategies

Please like & share:

Auras And Kirlian Photography – Energy

Can We See Force / Energy Fields?

I have written about energy and force fields and stuff like that. But do they actually exist? Or are they just figments of the imaginations of film-makers, old Asian mystics and martial arts masters?

Well, I'm glad you asked.

There has been much research on these topics. Let's have a look at Auras for example.

Auras

Perhaps we can start with Wikipedia.

An aura is a supposed field of subtle, luminous radiation surrounding a person or object like the halo or aureola in religious art. The depiction of such an aura often connotes a person of particular power or holiness. It is said that all objects and all living things manifest such an aura. Often it is held to be perceptible, whether spontaneously or with practice: such perception is at times linked with the third eye of Indian spirituality. Various writers associate various personality traits with the colors of different layers of the aura. It has also been described as a map of the thoughts and feelings surrounding a person.” Wikipedia

Hmmm? That sounds a bit like some of the stuff we discussed in a previous article.

Not Proved

However Wikipedia goes on to say: Attempts to prove the existence of auras scientifically have repeatedly met with failure; for example people are unable to see auras in the dark, and auras have never been successfully used to identify people when their identifying features are otherwise obscured in controlled tests.”

Kirlian Photography

OK. So does Kirlian photography link into this in any way?

Wikipedia.

Kirlian believed that images created by Kirlian photography might depict a conjectural energy field, or aura, thought, by some, to surround living things. Kirlian and his wife were convinced that their images showed a life force or energy field that reflected the physical and emotional states of their living subjects.”

Again with the life force.

But then, also from Wikipedia:

Not Proved

Scientists such as Beverly Rubik have explored the idea of a human biofield using Kirlian photography research, attempting to explain the Chinese discipline of Qigong. Qigong teaches that there is a vitalistic energy called qi (or chi) that permeates all living things. The idea of qi as its own sort of field, not simply a creature's electromagnetic field, has been mostly disregarded by the scientific community.”

We have already talked a little about this qi. Seems we need to go deeper. The initial idea behind these pieces I have been writing was to be more of an entertaining rather than educational kind of thing, but we must follow the story.

Pseudoscience

It would seem, then that qi, ki, auras, kirlian photography and all the other forms of life energy have been characterised as pseudoscience along with any number of other paranormal events, hoaxes and conspiracy theories.

But this, I feel, rather glib debunking of any and all energy forces related to human life, needs further discussion. So why not join me again soon and let's have a further, deeper look at this with particular emphasis, in the next issue, on martial arts and the concept of Sen no sen, Sen Sen no sen, Go no sen. #CareerChangeStrategies

Please like & share:

May The Energy Force Be With You

What is this energy force of which we speak?

As a follow-up from the helping others post of the other day, I thought I'd have a look at this whole scenario from a helicopter viewpoint.

Energy Forces

OK. Let's start with Star Wars. I don't want it to be said that I have dissed the movies; considered them to be not real; so not considered them at all. In fact movies are as real as anything else in our world.

Map Is Not The Territory

In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) we say: “The Map is Not The Territory”. By this we mean literally that if you were to draw a map – you should understand that it is only a representation of the reality of the terrain. A picture. A rendition, a translation in two dimensions of the real hills and valleys that exist in nature. It is a best effort to show what this particular piece of nature actually looks like according to the maker of the map. A second map-maker may not see it all (especially where exact measurements are not available) in the same way as the first . And as nature changes the map stays the same. So neither map would be real. They are all just impressions. So is the so-called REALITY of our lives. It is filtered through our senses first; and our brain second. If we are sad - reality may seem less colourful. If we are happy, well .

Movies Are Reality

Hell, where did all that come from? What I was trying to say before I was rudely interrupted, is:  movies are reality. As much as anything else. Our lives are just a movie created by our minds. Wow!

Shakespeare said something similar in Hamlet Act II Scene II For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Therefore what is this force of which they speak. Remember? Star Wars? Stay with the program here.

According to Wookiepedia The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together. It is a metaphysical, spiritual, binding, and ubiquitous power.

Hmmmmm.

Japanese

I think I'm turning Japanese. I really think so. (Apologies to The Vapours for their 'one hit wonder') And when I do I come across the concept of ki. The word means air; atmosphere; flavor; heart; mind; spirit; feelings; humor; an intention; mind; will. The concept – which actually originates in the Chinese culture - is all about the human “emotional state”, about “energy”. ki is variously translated as energy, mind-power, spirit and cosmic breath, and is now most commonly associated with martial arts.

Chinese

I like Chinese. (The literary references abound. This one from Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album.) So let's look at that.

In traditional Chinese culture, or ch'i forms part of any living thing. Qi literally translates as "breath", "air", or "gas", and figuratively as "material energy", "life force", or "energy flow”. Wikipedia

And even more.

Energy In Other Belief Systems

Prana in the Hindu religion, pneuma in ancient Greece, mana in Hawaiian culture, lüng in Tibetan Buddhism, ruah in Hebrew culture, and vital energy in Western philosophy all say the same thing. Some elements of qi can be understood in the term “energy” when used by writers and practitioners of various esoteric forms of spirituality and alternative medicine. Wikipedia

All these apparently mean energy. All seem to have a basis in the concept of a flow of energy, of a kind of force, of something about you, or any human being, that you can feel.

Sounds like ZEN to me. Funny you should say that. ki was originally taught as a concept by Zen monks.

Zen

As noted in the book by Boyé Lafayette De Mente, “Japan’s Cultural Code Words”, Asians, particularly practitioners of Zen in China and Japan, have long held that there is a force that infuses the cosmos and all things in it, including human beings, and that this force can be developed and directed toward specific tasks and targets. An energy field around us all?

OK. Excellent. But what about auras and kirlian photography? Are these fish of a different kettle? More later. #CareerChangeStrategies

Please like & share:

Helping Others

Helping Others

Some of you may have been aware of my eye problems recently.

I have been afflicted over the last few months with cataracts in both eyes. While it started along with glaucoma some long time ago it became rampant from April this year (2015). Such that I have grave difficulty seeing much detail at all.

I manage, I am not blind. It is sometimes hard and often very frustrating, but it is not a disaster.

Which brings me to the point of all this.

Help when needed

The other day while I was recharging my public transport card at an automatic machine on the station, all was well until I needed to use the credit card bit. I couldn't read the instructions. I shielded the light, moved my nose to almost touch the machine, and swayed from side to side in an attempt to make the view clearer. All to no avail. After some time the woman behind me asked if I needed help. I did. I said so and told her I couldn’t read the screen. She said it is asking for an account type. I remember the middle button on the top row was for savings, that worked. “Now.” she said, “It is asking for a PIN.” The keypad was big enough for me to see and execute this, but anyway I remembered the pattern of the numbers. She then told me it was asking for a receipt and said the button on the left is no. All done, I moved out of the way and she was able to do her own business.

What this meant to me is that we must all be aware, when offering to help someone having an issue, when such help is required.

Connecting

I think it is much more than just visually observing a person and how they are acting. I believe it is a result of linking up with the energy that is present in us all. The Chinese call it Chi or qi, it is Ki in Japanese and many other languages have words to express this concept which is often regarded as an active part of every living thing, figuratively: “material energy", "life force", or "energy flow". Elements of the qi concept can also be found in Western popular culture, for example "The Force" in Star Wars.

The more we become aware of ourselves and others as manifestations of energy flow, the better we well get at living this thing we call life.

It's there for us all to pick up. The so called lower forms of animal life can sense it immediately. A dog, for example, knows when you are frightened.

The Force

I will talk more about this in later posts, but I understand more now how it feels to be helped when you need it and to be left to sort it out yourself when you can. If a person in a wheelchair has a wheel stuck between the platform and a train carriage, or is being pursued by an angry orang-utan then they may need your help; otherwise they are quite possibly OK.

If we open up as human beings to feel or accept or even just understand these energy fields or life flows within us we will begin to serve ourselves and others at a much higher level. #CareerChangeStrategies

Please like & share:

Jillian 32 – Time & Motion

A busy Life

For the start of these episodes go to  http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

I asked Jillian, once, how she managed time so she could fit so much into her busy life. She always seemed to be occupied with one task or another and they all appeared to just work; and I wondered how it all was managed in the background.

The Exposition

“Cheaper By The Dozen”, she replied somewhat enigmatically.

“Ya what?” I quizzed.

“It's a book,” she said,“ written in 1948, I think. By Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth.”

“It was a biographical novel based on their life.”

“Of course.” I said. Thus earning the first evil eye of the day. I mean a novel based on a person's life would indeed be a biographical novel, wouldn't it?

She continued, “They were two of twelve children and their parents were industrial engineers who specialised in motion study. Father, Frank was particularly obsessed with finding the most efficient ways to complete tasks in life and often used his children as case studies. Mother, Lillian was a psychologist who factored human emotions into the science of the mechanics of motion study.

“I still remember the book – I read it as a child and even today I find myself checking that I am doing stuff in the most time efficient manner. I guess that's how it all fits together

Process Improvement

Today, they'd probably call it Process Improvement and use various models for example: 6 Sigma, SPC, TQM and LEAN to name a few, to explain it.

“While I employ”, she continued, “the normal time management theories of Steven Covey, Steve Pavlina and even your favourite man Tony Robbins's Rapid Planning Method (RPM); I find that doing stuff more efficiently saves huge amounts of time as well. The essence of time management is twofold:

  • Decide what to do
  • Do it.”

(My God she is so sounding like my university lecturers. Of course I just thought this and did not actually SAY anything. I am much more clever than that.)

“I add to this,” she continued the dissertation.

  • “Do it efficiently and effectively.

“Hence the reference to the book 'Cheaper By The Dozen'”

“OK.” I interrupted. “Good. Thanks for this, but my original question was about fitting all the stuff you do into your life. I still don't see how you do it?”

Diary

“Well, that's simple,” she said, “I just put all the stuff I need to do in my diary and figure out what is most important at the time they pop up and do it or postpone it or dump it altogether. A simple process of elimination really. All based on values and my life plan, of course.”

Before getting even more confused, I decided to draw a line in the sand and leave it at that. Except for the book. That time and motion study stuff intrigued me.

Back to the Book

“Tell me more about that book,” I said.

“OK.” she looked up at me, “It might sound a bit silly but here goes. In the book Frank did things like applying shaving cream with two brushes – one on each side of his face - to speed up the process. Now while I, obviously, (and she glared up just daring me to say something. Silence. Discretion being the better part of valour on this occasion) don't do that, I did follow some of his other suggestions re timing of a number of sub-tasks needed to accomplish a larger undertaking. For example - this morning at breakfast I stopped myself to have a little think about whether I should put the toast in before I started the coffee machine. What operation would take the longest and could be done parallel with another, rather than them all being done in series with waiting time in between. Stringing tasks all together in one long critical path seemed more efficient. When it was all over I had about 2 or 3 mins more to relax with coffee before beginning on the next main event. If I do that all the time, for everything I do, I get a lot of free time to myself during and at the end of each day. It's what keeps me sane. And I feel really great when I achieve an efficiency in a task and make my life and time more effective. It is really fantastic.

As I felt a smile gathering itself around my eyes and lips I turned away faking a cough.

“See,” she laughed, “I knew you'd think it was weird.”

Oh Jillian. This time I wished I'd never asked.  #ourjillian

Please like & share:

Idlay and the DVD’s

The Milk of Human Kindness

I have to write this. In some way I hope that the woman who is the subject of this doesn’t see it as she will be mortified, but then again, she deserves to know that this is being written about.

Idlay

I met this lovely woman Idlay (pronounced eye di lay) on Friday Sept 25th when I was in Sydney for the Anthony Robbins Seminar. I know almost nothing else about her, as I hardly saw her again during the 4 days I was in Sydney. I know she was a crew member because it said so on her T-Shirt.

I was standing at the booth where they were selling DVD's and other paraphernalia related to the seminar topics. A woman was asking questions about a set of DVD's but was undecided.

Idlay turned up out of the blue and began talking to the undecided person as if she had know here for years, She was just wonderful. The conversation went back and forward like old friends. Our prospective buyer – let's call her Liz as it will be easier – finally decided that she could use the DVD's and that they might make a difference to her life. Liz had decided to buy.

But. And it was a big but. The total investment was quite some dollars more than Liz had at her disposal.

Half

Without batting an eyelid, Idlay said, “I'll pay half for you.”

Now to say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement, but Liz just burst into tears. Not loud sobbing, she was a classy lady, but the tears were there and her immediate reaction was, “NO! I can't let you do that.”

But Idlay had already scurried off to get her credit card to facilitate this transaction.

Remember these two had only met about 10 mins ago. They were virtually strangers.

Discussions

On her return Idlay and Liz had further deep and heavy discussions about the efficacy of this DVD course and after a fair bit of teary protestation, then counter offers, the transaction was completed. Idlay had paid half of the investment for a DVD set she would never see. for a woman she had only just met.

If I had not been there I would have called this as one of the most unlikely happenings ever. And I would have thought it a sad and unfortunate bad taste joke.

Not a Joke

But no. It happened. How can we have people randomly shoot and kill other human beings for no apparent reason, and Idlay open the purse of human kindness in such a manner? Again for no reason that I could see other than we just do this for people we love and that love can extend to strangers in need. It just does not make sense that these two diametrically opposed reactions can come form the same human race. .

This is a shining example of the good we can encounter everywhere in our lives. It is there we just do not all that often get the chance to see it in action.

Reciprocity

I know the universal law of reciprocity works. I trust our friend Idlay will reap in abundance for her totally selfless act on this day, for a stranger she deemed to be in need.

I found out a little later that Idlay had looked at a personal-care product for herself at a fraction of the price she paid for the DVD's, earlier in the day and had decided not to spend that amount of money on herself.

Glad

I, of course, don’t understand the motivation for these actions as they occurred on this day, but I applaud Idlay for giving, and Liz for receiving (for those who receive serve as well) and know both these fabulous women have met for a reason and theirs and our world is so much richer for this circumstance. I am also very glad I was there to witness it for myself. Thank You Idlay.

Please like & share:

Jillian 31 – Cottage in The Snow

For the start of these episodes go to
http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

Jillian had a friend, we'll call her Mandy. Sadly she has passed away now, but at the time Jillian knew her she owned a delightful little cottage in a country town a few hours away from a major city in Australia. It was in an area noted for snow - being a few hours from a popular ski resort.

Cottage

The cottage was a two bedroom single story 'in-line' dwelling. By 'in-line' I mean bedroom 1 was at one end and bedroom 2 at the other with the lounge, kitchen, laundry and bathroom in the centre. There was a carport at one end. The whole place was capped with a green painted iron roof and a bull-nose verandah with a timber floored decking which was only about 15 cm above the ground.

Situated up from the road about 500 metres, with the longish driveway meandering through a lovely garden of native plants, shrubs, flowers and large trees; it was idyllic.

Backyard

The back yard – such as it was – where the wood-lean-too lived and the small, low shed for a few garden tools and other implements required for an almost country retreat - pretty much backed directly onto the hill behind. There was a tiny strip of lawn extending from behind the carport to the bedroom at the other end of the home, and a flower bed or two as Mandy loved her little plot of ground in the bush.

This is where Mandy lived and Jillian had been a guest a number of times.

Style

It was an English style retreat with hundreds of knick-knacks which lived on many and various pieces of vintage (elegant) but mismatched furniture pieces. There were crocheted rugs, crocheted anti-macassars and crocheted blankets everywhere. It was not subdued, but all the colours (and it was a multi-coloured place) were more pastel then vibrant.

Relax

It was a stylistic mess, but an absolutely wonderful place to drop out of the world and sit by a huge fireplace with crackling, and sparking logs giving heat and almost all the light in the room. Wine was a requirement and Mandy always had some lovely varieties to share..

She was a great cook and baker and the smell of the latest dish or batch almost always required an immediate taste test whenever anyone visited. Visitors were many and varied. And often. Mandy loved entertaining. And these tastings were successful every time and in every way.

Serenity

Mandy loved it. She adored the serenity and the fact that it was small and cosy, warm when necessary and cool on hot summer days.

Rain on the tin roof was a wondrous thing she had wished for ever since she was a little girl living in a small house in the suburbs. It had taken years, but here it was. Everything she had ever wanted. Mandy was happy, content and completely satisfied. She had her haven, her oasis, her safe harbour.

SNOW

One day it snowed.

And it continued to snow for nearly a week. By the time those in the town realised that this was going to be one mother of all snow storms it was a bit late.

Electricity and phones were failing at an alarming rate. Roads were blocked. Snow was pushed up into huge drifts 1 - 2 metres high on the windward side of any structure and was sloughing off hills and banks to pile up equally high on the sheltered sides of buildings.

To put it mildly it was – well you can't put it mildly. It was turning into a catastrophe. One the townsfolk had not experienced before.

Trapped

After Mandy found she couldn't open her front door, nor see out of the windows on the front of her home she became a little frightened.

Her battery operated transistor radio tuned to the local station was only playing static. So frantically she used her trusty emergency torch to tune to a station some towns away. The announcers were very excitedly explaining that this was going to be a case of staying home and waiting it out. But already Mandy was unable to open the front door or the windows.

In a huge panic she rushed to the back door and thankfully it opened.

But this was not a good sight. The snow had slid off the hill behind and down to the lawn. It was 2 metres high. She could get out of the door but could not get to the wood, the shed or the carport - or anywhere for that matter.

She was trapped.

No power, no phone, no more wood for the fire, a few baked goods and one casserole. The water pipes, she found when thirst drove her to the kitchen, must have burst or frozen as no water could be coaxed out of the tap for love nor money. This was not looking good for Mandy.

Disaster

It was starting to get much darker outside. She began to feel that she couldn't breathe. Mandy's haven, oasis, safe harbour was now nothing but. It was a prison, It was a horror house. It was a shelter no more.

She could not sit, she could not sleep, get warm, nor eat, nor drink. Reading and relaxing was obviously completely out of the question. Panicked pacing was the order of the day.

For some hours she just wore out a trail from one end of the house to the other.

The excitement she had felt at having her own beautiful place disappeared in a trice and was replaced by fear and loathing. She began to worry if she would get out alive. The walls seemed to be closing in. The roof was getting lower. Everything was dark and dire. Sounds were muffled by the huge buffer of snow between her and the rest of the world. Not that the rest of the world was doing much of anything that would make noise anyway. All was quiet. All was still. It was unreal.

Eventually Mandy fell asleep on the rug in front of the very dead and very cold fire.

Discovery

She was discovered, some day and a half after this, curled up in the foetal position, still in-front of the fireplace; very tired, very cold, hungry, dehydrated and more scared than anyone should ever be at home alone.

Luckily the local emergency volunteers had managed to get themselves mobile and had begun a house to house to find anyone who might have been trapped. Fortunate for Mandy

Mandy sold the cottage that summer and moved back into the city. Never to be a country girl thereafter. Of course Jillian didn't get to stay there again. #ourjillian

Please like & share:

Crewing – Tony Robbins Sydney 2015

Unleash The Power Within

Well. Can't say too much or I'll have to kill you. Or they'll kill me. Or all of the above.

Secrecy

I signed a secrecy provision so what follows will be of necessity general and not secret.

One of the main themes we crew are asked to embrace was flexibility. Seems mine started on the early side. My 7.35 am flight on Wednesday was cancelled as were all Jet-Star flights early that morning as far as I could tell.

Flexibility

Mine and the airline. I was efficiently re-booked on an 11.50 am flight the same day. That was very serendipitous. Required a change of plans at the other end,but we aced that.

Instead of popping in to my fabulous AirBnB accommodation to drop off bags and things like that, I had to head directly to the Qantas Credit Union Arena. Do not pass go. Do not do anything. Grab a VERY QUICK bite to eat at Paddy's Market and Bob's your uncle. I had 2 pork Gyoza for $4.50. Nice, but not much. And as I found out later – I needed much.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Travel Club

Managed to sign up for a travel club in Sydney airport while waiting for my luggage and chatted to a chap who liked to travel while I was waiting for the light rail at Central Station to take me to the venue. All very cool. By he way I was not responsible for the fire at Hungry Jacks at that very station on Saturday evening.

The Event

Back to the event. The days were long and brutal, We worked hard. All of us; venue staff, event staff, volunteers and all. Averaged about 5-6 hours sleep per night. But it was worth it.

I stayed at a lovely little 2-up 3-down terrace house in Surrey Hills. It was gorgeous. A brothel (Jack told me, but I had noticed the big red light) on one side and a coffee/lunch shop next door but one on the other side, and then a corner pub. It was 10 mins walk to the venue and about 5 mins walk to the aforementioned Central Station. Yep. Very central. As expected Sydney was wet for a few of the days.

People

Only problem was Jack and Stephanie would have loved to have shared a leisurely glass of wine at least once during the 5 nights I was staying with them, but it was not to be. Maybe next time. There will very likely be a next time. I hope so anyway.

I met so many wonderful people; saw again some from last year (Sandy) and ran into a couple of coaching mates (Pina and Julia). Just to name a few. It was a bit like old-home-week. I loved it. New friends galore.

Sessions

We even managed to see a few moments of the sessions as well, when we had a break from serving the participants. Tony Robbins was awesome as expected.

Please like & share:

BARTERCARD Australia Revokes Voucher Many Months After Service Has Been Provided.

CANI

In the interests of CANI (Constant And Never-ending Improvement) I submit the following for your information.

Bartercard Australia

Many months ago I joined Bartercard Australia in an attempt to rejuvenate my flagging business. A short time later I received a voucher for $100 partially, I thought, to compensate me for a bad experience with a merchant who refused to provide me with an advertised service, and partially as an incentive to new traders.

Voucher

I used this voucher with another new merchant so we both could benefit and I was very happy.

Due to circumstances beyond my control – my finances imploded on a grand scale and I was unable to continue to pay the monthly fee – I found it necessary to resign from the Bartercard organisation.

Even though I had only been a member a short time and they were surprised and disappointed, Bartercard appeared to accept the situation.

Revoked

However, just the other day I received a very short and, I thought terse, letter from Bartercard Australia informing me that the voucher I had used was not going to be honoured and had been returned to the merchant. Now this is approximately 4 months or more after the service had been provided. I was happy with the service and I imagine the merchant was too. And at least as far as I know so was Bartercard.

What is the reason for this?

It appears we (both merchant and customer) are being punished for something. Not sure what. Nor why. Perhaps the merchant knows? I certainly don't

A reason might be nice. And as a parent you are always told to ensure that any punishment fitted the crime, and was close in time to the event being punished so the punishee knew what it was all about.

None of this appears to have happened. Bartercard Australia seems to have just decided it was not going to honour a legally issued voucher which had been swapped for a properly advertised and satisfactorily provided service. Go figure.

Now our honest merchant is out of pocket, and quite probably has no way of contacting me to ask for payment.

If I was less than honest and not of moral standing I'd ignore this, but I am not. When I have the money to pay him, which now as a pensioner is not very likely, I will pay.

But my questions are:

  1. What was wrong?
  2. Who was at fault?
  3. Was this because I was forced to resign?

  4. Why did Bartercard just make this apparently unilateral decision?

  5. Why did it take so long for anything to happen?

  6. Does this mean that any voucher is completely useless?

  7. Why would we bother to use one in future?

  8. What does this say about the whole Bartercard system?

  9. Is a promise from this company just a waste of time?

  10. Is this whole Bartercard voucher deal just a scam?

Feedback

There is no failure – only feedback. So I present this not as a complaint, nor as an indication of failure, but as feedback; an attempt to understand for myself what has happened; to help Bartercard get it right; and to assist others who might use this system and/or these vouchers to figure out that the usually expected outcome may be dependant on circumstances that do not become apparent, if ever, for many months.

Looking for an improvement suggestion, Bartercard? Here is one. Remember CANI.

Please like & share: