Tag Archives: Lifestyle

A Common Error Indie Authors Make

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly, one of the most common. This error is everywhere when people write.

  1. Lay Lady Lay.

A few words from Face-book the other day, “ … instead of laying on the lounge I laid on the beach.”

The word lay is a verb that requires an object. You have to lay something or someone. Like an egg.

It has NOTHING to do with being supine on a bed or lounge. Used that way, it is an error.

Now he/she may have been talking about sex. ‘Cause that works. The verb lay can sometimes have an object that is understood, ie not actually stated but there nevertheless.

Because lay can also mean ‘have sex with’, the understood object would be ‘my partner’, or some-such variation thereof.

The sentence quoted above, if it read, “...instead of laying my friend Bill/Betty on the lounge; I laid him/her on the beach” then it would not be an error. My friend Bill/Betty and him/her – being the object(s). Strange, maybe, but grammatically accurate.

To help avoid this error, try this.

Write these words — “lie, lay, lain” (to recline);
then below them — “lay, laid, laid” (to place or put down).

We call this the Michiko Sato rule after the Japanese lady who invented it. A great and easy way to avoid this error.

Check this list each time you need to use one of these words. You will be amazed how it helps you get the grammar correct.

  1. She jumped off of the train.”

The compound preposition off of is generally regarded as informal and is best avoided in formal speech and writing. So not really an error? Perhaps.

What is a preposition? Prepositions are usually used in front of nouns (things) or pro

nouns and they show the relationship between the noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence.

The construction is “much inferior” to the form without the “of” according to Garner’s Modern American Usage (3d ed.).

There is nothing linguistically or grammatically wrong, it has been said with off of. It’s non-standard in some dialects (mainly American) and informal in most, so you should probably avoid it if you’re concerned about your writing seeming formal, or accurate from a grammar perspective. OK. Not an error, but to be avoided.

Cambridge Grammar notes that the combination “off” followed by an “of” phrase occurs only in American English.

The Oxford English Dictionary calls it “only colloq. (non-standard) and regional” in current use. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage says it’s “primarily a form used in speech”.

So what’s supposedly wrong with off of? The main problem seems to be that the of is unnecessary. In the case above, why not use just off or perhaps from the train, for example? The “of” adds NOTHING to the exchange.

'Off of' has become idiomatic in the USA, although it has “faded into the past” in Britain.

I still think it’s non-standard, an error, in fact, and doesn’t belong in the best written English.

Conversation and informal writing? Not sure. Perhaps!

It has been said, that one day “off of” will undoubtedly be accepted as standard American English, but not yet. I hope not ever. I hate it.

But then I’m not American.

  1. I took the knife off her

There are a couple of strings to this particular bow. Off is a preposition as defined above. It shows relationship between two things. Here the knife (noun) and her (pronoun – substituting for a female person).

As such the usage above is correct - on the surface.

However, off is usually considered an opposite (antonym) of on. Therefore if the knife is on (top of) the woman, off is the correct usage. But, as is probably the case, the knife is more likely in her hand or pocket or handbag. So “from” would be a better preposition to use. Even “away from”, but not “off”.

Then you have the ‘One Word One Meaning’ argument. If off means not on, it can’t mean anything else? But ...

This would seem to prevent anything from being ….. off topic, off in the distance, off like a shot, on and off, straight off, a little bit off etc. Quiet. I'm thinking!!

Once again (see above) this might be considered colloquial/regional American English.

It seems to me that where the preposition FROM could be used, then it should be. This will avoid all of the above discussion.

None of my sources suggest, on the other hand, that from and off are synonyms. (having the same meaning). Therefore if we are taking something away from a person, animal, object or place; then the preposition FROM should be used in all instances, unless one of the ‘things’ is actually on top of the other, and off is then appropriate.

I’m not even sure American English is a thing. I guess I hope not.

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So Much To Do

So much to do.

I find that making lists is a fine old way to procrastinate. The dad joke of the century is: “I will put off procrastinating until tomorrow.”

But it’s true. If we can find a way, anyway, to allow some event, or task, to control us to the extent that we put it off for another day, we think we have won! Lists work, don’t they? Every time. We can even convince ourselves that it’s OK. It’s work. We are moving towards our goals, are we not? That’s a win? Surely?

NO it’s not!!! We have LOST. Bigtime.

The way forward

Today I found a way through this maze.

It all starts with Mark Forster. He has created the mother of all hi-tech processes which ANY of us can use. He calls it The Autofocus System.

You need:

A bound notebook (25 – 35 lines) more than 35 lines on a page seems to circumvent the snapshot - 1 page at a time - mental gymnastics that to help the system work.

And a pen or pencil. That’s it. That’s as hi-tech as it gets. Yep. I lied.

It’s a rolling list. And one of the many beautiful things about this, is that you use it as a means to follow the ‘a little and often’ approach.

Kind of related to the ideas of Jeff Olsen et alia in the magnificent book ‘The Slight Edge.’ Do look it up. You will be very surprised how it helps with life. It is subtitled (for good reasons) ‘Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness’. No - don’t judge. Just give it a look.

I will not go into much detail about the autofocus system here, because Mr Forster has a fabulous description of what it is and how to use it on his blog.

However, I will say this.

The Process
  • Make a list – put anything and everything on it. Emails, reading, even exercise. Like brainstorming in a workshop. No editing. Just dump it all down. One item per line.
  • Read it through once, quickly. And I mean quickly. (Just the one current page.) Mental imprinting. No thinking at this point. That’s cheating.
  • Read through the whole list once again, slowly, until something jumps out at you.
  • DO that one thing. Here’s the kicker – only as long as you want to. Minutes, hours, days. No guilt.
  • Cross it off. If you didn’t finish all of it, write a new entry at the end of the list, (usually the next page), altered to identify what still needs to be done.
  • Rinse and repeat.
  • If you have gone over the page slowly again or returned to a previous page and nothing jumps, on the first pass then dismiss all unfinished items on that page. (highlight them in yellow – do NOT re-enter them).
  • Keep cycling.
  • That’s it.

A very quick and easy system.

Find more detailed notes AND look for this genius on “Get Everything Done” (http://markforster.squarespace.com/autofocus-system/).

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Jillian 30 – Pilot Licence Mega FAIL!

Pilot Licence

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

Every now and then Jillian tells me a snippet of something or other and then we move on and the information becomes lost in the mists of - well not time, necessarily - but forgetfulness and insignificance shall we say?

Some time ago, while trawling through my notes, I came across an item about one of her friends failing his private pilot's licence in interesting circumstances.

I asked about this again.

Seems this chap had been doing quite well – handling your basic up and down stuff; emergency landings (where you have your experienced pilot teacher reach around you and shut down the engines when you least expect it - and then say to you, “You have about 45 seconds to find a place to land.”

Oh and you ought to find some smoke to tell you the way the wind is blowing because you MUST land with the plane facing into the wind; and you need at least x number of metres to land and it must be clear of obstacles like phone or power poles and wires, holes, small hills, hedges, trees, fences, houses, bicycles and I suppose roads and people but he apparently didn't mention some of these things. They were to be expected, Jillian seemed to imply. Then there were stalls (you know where the training pilot makes the aeroplane almost fall out of the sky – the “Oh dear What are we going to do now?” moments; scary almost vertical spiralling dives and all things in between.

Some of these included heaps of memorizing particular aircraft bits and pieces, radio jargon (you know the Alpha, Beta, Delta … Romeo, Juliet things) and having at your fingertips reams of important weather information, weight calculations and navigational ephemera.

I mean, “There is so much to know,” I said to Jillian after listening to this for some time, “Why would you ever WANT to have a pilot's licence?” “A pilot needs to be a walking encyclopedia.”

But he, apparently, knew it all so it was time to take the figurative bit between the teeth and make a bid for the licence. At least the first of, I think she said 2 or 3 parts of the full licence.

Towards the end of the hour of the actual licence exam which had gone quickly and seemingly satisfactorily, the tester asked the pilot to return to the airfield.

Now this requires a square pattern to be executed, Jillian explained to me. You need initially to head for a point, a known and previously agreed upon landmark on the ground, and then turn towards the runway which will be to your front and right (probably) some 5 or so kilometers away. Hopefully you can see this aforementioned runway, but if not just head in the general direction.

Landing requires you to pass the runway at right angles, turn downwind and run alongside this landing strip, turn across wind with the runway at right angles to you and then turn facing forwards down the length of this narrow strip of grass with the wind now blowing toward you, and execute the landing. Did I mention you needed to know which way the wind is blowing (if there is any wind) before starting any of this manoeuvring?

Well, our friend reached this landmark, executed the turn towards the airport and runway which he could see in the distance and was heading in to do the square pattern landing, secure in the knowledge that his licence was in the bag.

Imagine his surprise when the examiner asked him what he was doing. Of course he explained he was doing as he was told. Heading in to land the aeroplane after reaching the previously defined ground landmark.

“OK.” said the examiner, “Why are you STILL doing this?”

At this point Jillian's friend smelled a rat and said,”Am I missing something, Jim?”

“You might say.” said Jim. “There is an emergency. All traffic in the area has been asked by radio to avoid the airport for the next 10 minutes or so. You, specifically, have been asked to turn away to port (left for those not used to this language) and to not attempt to land, in order to make way for this temporary emergency state. You have ignored these instructions - given 3 or 4 times with increasing urgency; and air-traffic controllers have had to re-route several other aircraft out of your way, even the helicopter with the emergency situation.”

“I am afraid, if you cannot follow simple radio instructions, I am not going to be able to approve you for your licence. You are a menace to other aircraft and the flying public.”

I think that constitutes a mega-fail. Don't you? #ourjillian

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Jillian 29 – A Little Night Music

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

Jillian loves live music. We mentioned this a while ago when speaking of some time one night in New York.

She reminded me, the other day, of another musical interlude in her life.

This time it was an evening with a female jazz stylist.

Jazz

“What does 'Jazz Stylist' mean,” I asked, “before we go any further?”

She replied with a HUGE eye-roll. (Sometimes you just should stay ignorant with Jillian. It is a lot easier.) “Have you heard of Billie Holiday? Well she was a Jazz Stylist. It is someone who has their own typical way of singing or playing music. Really. Your lack of knowledge of everyday things astounds me.”

My turn for the eye-roll.

“The lady of which I am speaking,” she grammaticised, “is a wonderful sultry, warm-voiced vocalist offering a repertoire of popular jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, including selections from swing and groove to bossa nova and blues.”

“Oh!” I say. Suitably chastened. Jillian sounded a bit like 'Dr Google' and perhaps some of these observations are actual quotes from websites she has visited. I don't know, but this singer woman sounded interesting.

I didn't find out who our musical paragon was, nor where Jillian lived when she listened to this magnificent music. I remained stuck in the details.

Music?

Then Jillian veered away from the audio to the visual. We went from the point of it all 'The Music' to what it looked like. Yeah. Beats me too.

I'll stay with Jillian in real time and not try to figure anything out. Sound fair?

Venue

The venue was upstairs in a loft-like structure. There was a bar at the back and a stage at the front. One of those pretend stages that is all of 6 inches higher than the actual floor.

The room was small. Probably only seated about 50 guests at small round tables. The walls were distressed exposed brick, and the vaulted ceilings (black timber beams and white plaster) were covered in framed black and white photos of musical and movie greats. Mostly from before her time she noted drily. Oh, she did say the sound quality was absolutely fabulous so that was something.

It was a cute, intimate, friendly space – her words. She sat at a table with a youngish couple who even after only 10 years of marriage were starting to look a bit alike. I mean their glasses were almost identical just to start. Catty, I thought.

A Lady Gone Bad

You've heard the line from the Billy Joel song ' … makin' love to his tonic and gin'? Think microphone and you have an idea. A lady gone bad if ever there was one. In the best possible way, of course.

Blond hair piled up, floor-length black gown, diamante studded belt, and matching sparkly 3 inch high heeled open toed Manolo Blahnik sandles finished the look. And it was a 'look' just like from the Roxette song of 1989.

Pianist

“The pianist who seemed to be an extension of the piano stool flowing over onto the keyboard, was wearing what looked to me,” she said, “like a Chairman Mao outfit. Head to toe In shades of basalt grey.

It turned out he had spent the last few years in Shanghai so not surprising really.

His playing was technically brilliant, emotionally ebullient, and mesmerising.

Guitarist

The guitarist played like a man demented. Never missing a note that Jillian reckons anyway,and not even a sign of a fuzz but it was not just finger-pickin good it was phenomenal. And fast. Oh boy.

His playing was only overshadowed by his blue, stone-washed stove-pipe jeans and snake skin boots. An apparition to be sure.

Double Bass

The double bass player had his bows in a quiver like scabbard on his bodaciously sized instrument and wore a camo shirt. Very interesting.

Drummer

The drummer, she figured, was not of this world. He had a smallish kit, but his sound was bigger than Texas. She looked at me for a reaction when she said this. I am GLAD to say I disappointed her. My mind was on a much higher plain

“How anyone can still breathe after what he did,” Jillian said, “I just don't know.”

“What was he wearing?” I asked.

“Oh, I couldn’t tell. He was in a bit of a dark patch”, she said.

I was going to comment, but, wisely I thought, kept my mouth shut.

Boggie Woogie

Towards the end of the evening, she remembered, they were joined by a saxophonist and a different pianist who played boogie woogie and swing.

“It was awesome.” she cooed.

Gads. I've NEVER heard Jillian coo before. It is a very different thing.

The evening finished with an extremely nice version of Dave Brubeck's 'Just take 5'.

Apparently some whiskey was consumed as well.

“A good night?” I asked unnecessarily. #ourjillian

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