The Month of June with Shazzameena

A few of the blogs I follow have been doing a ‘What I did/read/didn’t do in June’ kind of post the past few days, and it got me thinking. What did I do in June?

I could list a whole load of things I didn’t do in June – things I cancelled, postponed, put at the end of the list. I could list lists I didn’t even get around to making!

I started the Photography 101 challenge in June…then went on holiday away from technology that would allow me to post my photography. Thus, I dropped the ball on that challenge, photographically speaking.

I was reading the Bible this morning and was reminded not to worry about the things I can’t do anything about. Not to worry about tomorrow, or yesterday, or the things I didn’t do last month. The notes I was reading alongside reminded me to be like Jesus, to stop and notice the flowers and how they’re dressed. To take time and hear that well-fed bird flapping past me.

Sky, Sea, Grass, Flowers

Sky, Sea, Grass, Flowers

So I’ve taken a little moment, looked at my diary, made some notes, done a bit of remembering, and I’ve come up with a list of things I did in June – things I have every reason to be thankful for – to stop for a moment and enjoy – just as Jesus would.

1. I started the month singing with a Jazz band at a fundraiser night in Wollongong.

Empty Jazz Cafe - later filled

Empty Jazz Cafe – later filled

2. I turned up to work as I was meant to – then enjoyed the break I got because the students were doing exams then on vacation.

3. I walked with several old friends and coloured in more streets on my walking map.

4. I got help from people who know what they’re talking about, and started to see lighter days ahead.

5. I saw ‘The Mafia Only Kill in Summer’ at a lovely, local cinema with a lovely, local friend.

6. I enjoyed the generosity of a friend’s holiday cottage for two nights in the Blue Mountains – with the company of a lovely, old friend.

7. I got my hair cut.

8. I completed the ‘5kg lost in 2 months’ challenge – and celebrated with a favourite food item.

It has to be pink. It has to be from Donut King.

It has to be pink. It has to be from Donut King.

9. I had a lovely holiday with two lovely friends in another cottage loaned to me by other lovely people on the South Coast.

Kiama to Gerringong Coastal Walk

Kiama to Gerringong Coastal Walk

10. We walked for 4 hours on one of the days!

Reassuring signs along the way!

Reassuring signs along the way!

11. We managed to walk the three sections of the ‘Minnamurra to Gerroa’ walk – over three days – with the vital accompaniment of dates and water.

Dates, Water and Water

Dates, Water and Water

12. I cooked one of the recipes from one of Margaret Fulton’s Cookbooks – inspired by the challenge on the Cookbook Guru blog.

Margaret Fulton's Lime Grilled Chicken

Margaret Fulton’s Lime Grilled Chicken

13. I read some books (and rated them):

‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman (5/5)

‘True Word for Tough Times’ by Dale Ralph Davis (5/5)

‘The Rise and Fall of Great Powers’ by Tom Rachman (3/5)

‘The Rosie Effect’ by Don Tillman (4/5)

14. I took risks! (not my normal mode of operation)



15. I enjoyed many a crossword and coffee

Coffee and a Crossword

Coffee and a Crossword

And shall continue to do so….

Photography 101 – Day #12 – Architecture and Monochrome

Today we were challenged to dabble in black and white and, somewhat inevitably, grey – with architecture as our inspiration.

While I have been appreciating the architecture of Sydney’s Inner West as I’ve walked up and down its streets, I thought I’d take you and me on a little journey back in time and across the world to appreciate some European architecture – rural and urban.

I had taken these photos on two summer holidays while living on the other side of the world. The original photos were in colour, but with the free editing tools suggested in our daily prompt today, I was able to have a little go at making some adjustments of a more monochrome nature.

Travel with me now to…

A cathedral in Salzburg, Austria

A Cathedral in Salzburg

A Cathedral in Salzburg

A Castle in Trento, Italy

A Castle in Trento

A Castle in Trento

A Cottage in Cork, Ireland

A Cottage in Cork

A Cottage in Cork

It struck me just now, as I inserted the photos into this post, that the template of my blog site is monochrome! And that’s just how I like it.

Though I may, at times, feel a little black and white, even grey, on the inside, mostly I am a colourful bird. I live my life, at least in my imagination, in bold colours – red, pink, purple!

It occurs to me now, that a monochrome canvas is just the type of background to display those bright colours.

It also occurs to me, with hope’s brightness, that my ‘grey-ish heart’ may, in time, display the brightest, most passionate colours – of a depth and richness not seen before!

I’m certain that God has just the ‘tool’ for that editing work!

Photography 101 – Day #11 – Pop of Colour

I was occupied this afternoon with simultaneous challenges: walking the bottom left-hand corner of my walking map; and looking for subjects for the photography theme for today – pop and colour.

I saw a lot of blue. Mostly in gutters and on pathways.

Don’t step on the cracks…or the blue packs.

Plastic Blue

Plastic Blue

Take a deep breath, engage your core muscles and ascend that hill of a gradient you’ve rarely attempted before.

Blue with Wings

Blue with Wings

After an hour I could have done with a big drink of water. Others had once thought the same thing.

Blue Hydration

Blue Hydration

Photography 101 – Day #10 – Mystery

Dark Paths

Dark Paths

A darker path walked with a companion known, yet unknown.

The journey ending in darkness not known until then.

She should have known.

If truth be known,

She did.

Brighter Future

Brighter Future

A walk with a friend who has known and knows.

Wisdom shared.

Walking the paths that faithful followers once walked.

The friends eat ice cream in cones

And stop to notice the light in the valley across the water.

She should keep her eyes fixed on that distant light.

Look closely and you’ll see

She does.

Photography 101 – Day #8 & #9 – Natural World & Warmth

Sweetness and Light

Sweetness and Light

It’s cold and wet today. It was cold and wet yesterday. Neither day was conducive to outdoor photography, certainly not for today’s theme of warmth and light.

On a day like today I long for a real fire in my living room.

So I went with the closest I could get – candle flame.

The photo fits nicely with the theme yesterday of the natural world. The jar of honey was harvested from the beehives on my parents’ property. The small candle was made by my brother from the wax caps removed from the frames. As it burns, it gives off warmth and the fragrance of honey.

A little of the natural world, brought indoors where it’s nice and warm.

Photography 101 – Day #7 – Big

I’m currently on a mini break in the Blue Mountains where, had it not been raining, I might have dazzled you with photos of blue mountains. Instead I found the mountains grey and somewhat invisible, while the cafes were warm and inviting.

So for today’s theme, ‘Big’, I take you back to that sunny day in Pyrmont. Two photos today: one with big round things in the foreground; the other with a big bridge in the background.


The Anzac Bridge doesn’t get the same world attention as the Harbour Bridge, but it’s wonderful to look at, great to walk over and, when driving over it toward the city centre, gives one of the best views of Sydney at night.


The Anzac Bridge in the Background

Photography 101 – Day #6 – Connect

This morning, as I went for my walk, I had in mind to take some photos around today’s theme ‘Connect’. It turns out that it wasn’t a great day for taking a photo – not with my basic camera anyway.

Overcast days don’t happen very often in Australia. So it didn’t take me long to find a photo or two taken on a brighter day.

Anzac Bridge

Anzac Bridge

This photo was taken on a lovely day out with my niece and nephew. We walked from Lilyfield, over the Anzac Bridge, into the Pyrmont area. The walking route is on my photocopied walking map (my ‘Inner West Architectural Appreciation Walking Tour’) and so I managed to combine quality time with the family members, exercise, and highlighting some more streets on my map.

View of Harbour Bridge from Pyrmont

View of the Harbour Bridge from Pyrmont

As we set off together, a packed lunch in a backpack on my back, I had ‘flashbacks’ to previous day trips with them when they were much younger. My niece and nephew have grown up knowing me as their aunty that comes from far away every couple of years. I once heard the term ‘parachute aunty’ used by a friend – a great term to describe the phenomenon!

I’m so thankful that I’ve managed to keep a connection with them over the past 15 or so years – a connection that ‘picks up’ where it leaves off each time – no matter that there’s a whole world of oceans between us at times.

Photography 101 – Day #2 – Street

On the Street Where you Live

On the Street Where you Live

My daily commute* currently takes me five minutes. This leaves me with time spare to walk every street of six pages of a Sydney street directory. So, most days, before work or after work, I find myself walking alongside other people’s commutes.

In the morning, I pass driveways where parents attempt to start their family’s commute – ‘Get in the car! Please! Now!’ In the evening, I walk past a weary worker returning to a warmly-lit home where, I like to imagine, they’ll find a warm welcome and not the cold leftovers of a heated discussion tasted earlier that morning.

I’ve come to appreciate the different rhythms of Sydney’s Inner West. I walk from one neat, polished, silent suburb, into neighbouring streets with scruffier gardens, unruly cacti and the delicious aroma of fatty proteins under a grill or above some charcoal.

I’m loving this mildly obsessive walking project of mine. I started the year walking the ‘Bay Run’ only to find that I was bored, distracted and surrounded by lycra-clad fitness enthusiasts. Lacking a challenge (other than dodging cyclists and runners) my thoughts would travel in familiar, well-trodden ruts. With this new challenge, my thoughts turn away from the dark alleys off Memory Lane, to travel down new roads filled with hope and imagination.

Other Peoples' Commutes

Other Peoples’ Commutes

In my determination to walk every connecting street and cul-de-sac, I am forced to strategise, to come up with the best route to cover as many roads as I can with as little back-tracking as possible. These mental athletics keep me mindful: away from the back streets of my mind and in…what street am I in?…Present Street.

If I want to increase the cardio-vascular challenge, I walk until ! reach a home or block of apartments I deem not so beautiful, then I run. I resist the urge to carry a pair of secateurs in my pocket. I’ve learnt not to judge the gardening habits of those households I pass, for, on weekends, I see so many weekday-commuters out in the gardens, seizing the moment they have to fill their green bins ready for the trucks arriving the next day.

As I walk alongside, through, before and after other people’s commutes, I’ve come to appreciate – or at least begin to imagine – the lives of other inhabitants of the Inner West – lives that include, but are not limited to, their commutes.

(*I wrote the above piece as a submission to the ABC Open Drum writing project ‘Commute’. You can check out my submission along with others here)