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)

Risks!

Risks!

15. I enjoyed many a crossword and coffee

Coffee and a Crossword

Coffee and a Crossword

And shall continue to do so….

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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 #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)

Time Out – With a Book About Walking

One day, I would like to think I could write a book about walking. Not hill-walking. Not walking the Camino de Santiago. Just plain, old, walking of the streets of one’s neighbourhood or city.

I’m not sure if it should inspire or demotivate me, but I have been reading a book that is just the kind of book I’d love to write! ‘The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris’, by John Baxter, has been my reading companion during the last few days of my current time off work. (Thanks to this guy for the recommendation!)

Love this book! Love my local library!

Love this book! Love my local library!

I feel a natural affinity with John Baxter. When I came upon the following quote, I felt we could well enjoy a coffee and a chat together after a long, city walk – or at least, a knowing nod as we passed each other on the street:

‘But even in infancy I recognized my natural habitat as urban. What I wanted under my feet was asphalt, not grass.’

Earlier readers of this blog may recall the growth of my love for milk and nails – as their purchase required heading into town where people were and things happened!

If I was to write a book about urban walking, I might include the aforementioned quote from Baxter – to give readers a taste of who I am. To give them a taste of who I am not, I might include a quote from the Sydney Morning Herald last weekend. Dumas, in an article about ‘The plan to make Sydney a walking city again,’ cites Dr Megan Hicks:

‘The thing about city streets is that you always have this conflict between wanderers and purposeful walkers.’

I may never be known as a ‘wanderer.’

Daily Prompt

Time Out – With a Crossword (‘Crossword’ starts with ‘C’)

Coffee and Crossword both start with 'C'

Coffee and Crossword both start with ‘C’

Compose a poem in which every line starts with ‘C’?

Can I?

Consideration tells me that I can as, just yesterday, I walked

Crossword in my pocket, folded neatly with my map, and loyalty

Card for coffee purchase.

Coffee, that is, once the streets were walked:

Crisscrossed, then crossed off.

Challenge for the day:

Complete.

Counsel, later that day,

Came with help to make sense of ‘across’ and ‘down’

Crumpet and Chocolate

Cracked eggs to make an omelette.

Completed a most excellent novel in between steps, tears and mouthfuls.

Can I tell you about the book? Tomorrow?

Daily Prompt

Time Out – On the Streets of Sydney

I’m on a roll! I’m even losing some of the extra ‘rolls of ‘insulation’ I’ve been carrying around my middle. I’m walking the streets, the byways and (occasionally) the highways, in my effort to colour pink some more of those six pages of the Sydney Street Directory that I have photocopied on my wall.

Last night, I walked with a friend up and down some pesky little curvy, dog-legged, inconveniently interconnected streets down in the bottom left-hand corner of my map. They were the kind of streets where you have to back-track a lot in order to cover every little bit of each street. But we covered good ground and clocked up a good 70 minutes of walking.

Walking is good for the body, soul and mind. The way I do the walking would not, in any way, be called ‘wandering’. It would more likely be described as ‘prescribed’ and somewhat obsessive. For a picture from a past walking project see this post. The prescriptiveness works for me. As for the friends that sometimes walk with me, they’re usually just happy to humour me – or at least they pretend to be happy.

Walking with purpose and very detailed map in hand, helps me to take time out from my recycled thoughts and take note of the houses I walk by and, very importantly, the street names.

Occasionally I stop to take a photo!

Occasionally I stop to take a photo!

My attempt to cover the streets in any given patch with the least amount of back-tracking keeps my mind whirring with ‘problem-solving’ energy. If my mind’s not quite up to problem-solving on any particular day, then I choose a patch that has very straight-forward, straight streets in a neat cross pattern.

For those of you reading in places like the United States where it means something for someone to tell you to head west down First Street and then turn north up Straight Street – this navigational certainty doesn’t work in the older parts of Sydney, where streets and houses developed in a more haphazard, curvy, run-with-the-lay-of-the-of-the-land kind of way.

I have not tackled this part of the map. Yet.

I have not tackled this part of the map. Yet.

It’s raining as I type. But in an effort to keep that roll rolling, I shall be thankful for umbrellas and get myself out there!

With my map, of course. No aimless wandering for this girl.

Daily Prompt

Time Out – With My Diary Closed??

The elastic makes my diary easy to re-open.

The elastic makes my diary easy to re-open.

Taking time out from my diary is easier said than done.

The other day, when I and my pot plant returned home from work for some time out, I went ahead as instructed and cancelled appointments and meetings I had with people over the next few weeks. There were some that felt harder to cancel than others. Mostly, people just said ‘No Worries! Take care!’ and so I didn’t worry and I did take care.

A couple of appointments I kept for my own well-being. A couple of those occur today.

The difference between my sleep last night and my sleep the night before (I had no appointments yesterday) was quite marked. Admittedly, I had some other things on my mind as I lay down to sleep – thoughts that had developed as a result of the introspection that happens when you take time out. The introspection was illuminating – but not without pain. So sleep was mostly a fitful kind of thing last night.

What interested me, was that I wasn’t so much losing sleep over the results of my introspection – but over the speaking engagements that were looming in the not-to-distant-future. I’ve learnt the hard way, over time, that one should never make decisions or send emails in the middle of the night. So I resisted the temptation, in the middle of the night, to work through my diary and cancel every future commitment.

The thought that got me a little sleep in the end, was something I’d read that night to steer my introspection in the right direction – about how God is committed to me – unfailingly – with a ‘stick-to-it-ness’ that is unmatched by any other. I could let go of commitments for a while, because he was committed to me – no matter what.

So I’m heading off to my commitments today – trusting that God will be doggedly following me with his unfailing, committed love. I’ll be finishing the day with a friend’s offer of a walk with no obligation to talk – that’s one I wouldn’t turn down.

Tomorrow, there are no commitments – apart from one very helpful one – so I trust I will rest well tonight and not see so much of the moonlight.

Daily Prompt