Thoughts on… RYLA 2018

“When you shine your light you allow others to shine their light too”

Even weeks after returning from Mt Evelyn it is hard to articulate just how much RYLA has done for me. 

The Rotary Youth Leadership Award is a leadership camp for 18-25 year olds which “focuses on personal growth, leadership development and community”, but after my week away I know that RYLA is so much more than that. 

In just seven days I learnt more about myself and how I want to live my live than I have ever been able to understand. RYLA provides a safe space for you to explore who you are and open your mind to new understandings of what it means to be a leader.

I won’t go into detail about what actually happened during the week, as for anyone interested in going, the less you know before hand the more you will get out of the week. What I can say though is that everything you do each day is carefully picked out and designed to benefit you, but that your experience with something will be completely different from the person next to you. You can only get out of this camp what you put in, and in that way, the lessons you learn aren’t just for that week, they are forever.

While the lessons I learnt about life, leadership, and myself are important to me, something I have really taken away from this experience is a bunch of the most beautiful, and inspiring people, each one of whom enriched my experience and will stay in my heart forever (apologies for the cheese, but it was unavoidable). I really do love these people so much. We laughed a lot, we cried a lot, but most of all we supported each other through a new and challenging experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people.

To everyone on RYLA 2018 – if you are reading this – thank you so much for everything. You are the most beautiful people and I absolutely loved the week we spent together. Your friendship, support, and the lessons you’ve taught me are something I will value for the rest of my life.

If you’re looking for more information on RYLA here’s a link to the website: http://www.ryla9800.org.au/

Perspectives: “I’m little too.”

Last semester I did a writing creative nonfiction class in which one of the tasks was to write a small response to a different prompt each week. Seeing as the semester is over I can now post this piece from week four. This week we had to write a scene from the perspective of our 4-year-old self, and then rewrite it in third person. This is what I came up with, I know where this memory came from and I took some liberties with the second part, but it still works (I hope)!

~

I like this park now. Mum told me I’d have fun. The grass smells nice. Green. I like green. I skip through the grass. I know it’s skipping cause Play School told me it was. Skip, skip, skipidy, skip! The sun is warm, but Mum made me wear a jumper. She said it’s windy so I need a jumper. I don’t mind though, it’s my favourite. It’s stripy, like my sister’s. She doesn’t want to wear her jumper though. She doesn’t like wearing clothes at all.

I look back to where she sits with Mum. She sits there cause she’s smaller. Younger too. Maybe she’ll skip with me soon. I hope so.

I keep skipping along as Mum and Dad watch. Mum’s smiling. I know she is. She’s always smiling. I–

What’s that sound? I don’t like it! I turn back again to see, but I only get more scared. It smells funny. What is it? No! I don’t like it I run. I need to be safe! Run faster!

* * *

It was the clearest day they’d had in weeks so nearly every family was at the park. They called it a park, in truth, it was an old oval with climbing frame and monkey bars to boot.

Four-year-old Anna had wandered a little farther from her mum than usual. Her mum sat on the rug keeping a close eye on her, but she wasn’t too worried, her husband had the camera out and was filming as Anna skipped past.

The little girl looked so proud of herself. A wide smile lit up her face as the breeze picked at her white-blonde hair, the small, uneven pigtails bouncing with every step.

She turned back for a moment with a frown. Then suddenly her dark eyes widened as a look of pure terror floods her face. The skip quickly turns to a run as she realises something is following her.

Her Dad realises too, running forward to meet and embrace his distraught daughter. Tears follow the little girl’s panic, but her Dad can’t help but laugh a little as Anna clings to him like a lifeline.

At his feet sits a Sausage-Dog. It pants steadily, it’s tongue lolling out to the side, far too happy go lucky to be that scary.

“Anna…” He shakes his head, a little bemused by the whole situation. “It’s only a little dog!”

Anna sniffs, burying her face in her Dad’s shoulder. “I’m little too.”

~

Note: I am fairly certain this is where my initial fear of dogs came from…though I am very much over that now!

‘Notes of a Childhood’: Early Days, the Best of Times

Last semester I did a writing creative nonfiction class in which one of the tasks was to write a small response to a different prompt each week. Seeing as the semester is over I can now post this piece from week one. This week we had to write a ‘Notes of a Childhood’ poem/list. This was my take on the prompt!

~

At first only Me; Mummy, Daddy, and Me.
Two years of quiet and then,
Half the attention but double the fun.
I talk to Mummy’s feet now,
As my sister has her arms.

England now.
Waking up in the dark for school,
Immaculate uniforms,
Shirt, skirt, duffle coat, and a beret of sorts to boot.
Socks drying in the microwave? …socks no more.
Porridge with golden syrup – hello dentist!
Or maybe Maccas if we’re running late,
Driving those narrow, winding lanes.

Walks, so many walks.
To ‘Plaxtol Disney Land’, the ‘Sheep Walk’, and more.
If not in the garden, then what is the point?
– Grass fishing
– Hide and seek
– Tea parties with teddies
– The trampoline

Despite this,
Such endless bickering,
Sisters, hey?
Poor Mum…
When will it stop?

They read us Harry Potter each night.
My favourite part of the day!
“It’s Her-myon-e not Her-meowne!”
(Dad never really got it right; I think he meant to, just to annoy us, to make us laugh.)

Back in Australia.
We pick out Dad’s shirt, tie, and cufflinks for work each night.
Our choices perfect…
Nearly every time!
My favourite was the purple shirt, Evelyn’s the white.

I read Harry Potter myself now.
Now finished in one weekend to avoid spoilers.
Dumbledore’s death rudely revealed to me in a school assembly of 2005
…I’m still bitter about that

More walks with Mum, and now a dog,
A groodle called George,
He’s a massive softie.
Always lots of grumbling on my part,
But reluctantly happy in the end.
“That was the best walk Mum!”

First time I see Dad cry,
Part of me hopes it’s the last.
New town, two houses, separate families.

“Things can only get better!” I say to Ev, she could never cope with change.

Me however, being older, I had to.

Thoughts on Memory…

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A few weeks ago I started back at university for my third year to a mixture of excitement and slight dread. New classes, new faces, and not only that, but this could be my last year at university. Scary huh!?

Anywho, one subject I’m taking this semester is a ‘writing creative nonfiction’ class in which we spend the semester reading and writing various forms of creative non-fiction, basically, pretty much what it says on the box. So far we’ve done a number of small writing tasks, from a number of different prompts. The first couple of these that I have written got me thinking about memory, and the complexities and limitations which memories encompass.

It was the first task more than the second which left me in a state of what I can now only call confusion, with more questions arising from the piece than I set out to answer. The piece we had to write was titled ‘notes of a childhood’**, a writing task where we had to write a form of poetic list detailing some events from our childhood. The very broad task description brought up some interesting memories, some were more funny, while others are ones I’ve never forgotten. Not because I wanted to, but because I couldn’t get them out of my head. It was here that the memory question came up…as even though I have had this one memory of the first time I saw Dad cry embedded in my mind from the age of about 15, both Mum and my sister have a memory of that day which unfolds a little differently to mine.

So, I ask myself, which is true?

Though difficult, this isn’t impossible to answer, that is if it is a question I really want to answer at all. The way I see it, no memory is really completely true. As there is no way to record everything within your mind exactly as it happened. As a twenty-one year old remembering something which happened about six years ago, there is every possibility the strong emotions I was feeling that day have embellished and elaborated on that image in my mind.

So then, how true can that memory really be?

To speak truthfully here, there isn’t really any way of knowing. I did ask Mum, as well as my sister but they both have very different ideas of what happened that day. My sister not thinking that day occurred at all, while talking about it with Mum didn’t help much either, and Dad, I can’t bring myself to ask him about it. Not yet anyway. I’ve replayed that day so many times in my head now since it occurred that I am not sure if it really happened at all or even to that extent. On that same note though, I am not sure if I could create such a real depiction of the way I felt that day. Feeling that helpless, that unsure of what to do, I’m sure it has to be real – emotions like that have to be based somewhere, right?

Do the inconsistencies cancel out the validity of my own memory?

Here, some may say yes. “Yes, the only truth is in that which is consistent through each and every story of one event.” I, however, disagree. Though my family may have a very different version of how the events that day unfolded, what I remember is my own. What I remember is true for me, and that won’t ever change. In my eyes what happened has shaped the way I relate to others, and shaped how I place myself as the ‘carer’ or ‘peace maker’ every time something occurs where someone needs to step up to that role. Knowing the truth of how real that memory is won’t change that aspect of my personality, and honestly, I wouldn’t want it to.

…but either way here, whatever we believe, does it matter?

Honestly? For some it does, for some it may not. Memory is a very personal thing. So while some memories fade and some persist within our minds, what matters is what we make of them.

~

**I’d post what I wrote for the task which sparked all this thinking here but for the fear of some sort of ‘perceived plagiarising’/’self-plagiarising’ disaster or similar with the university, maybe after the semester is over I will…

Weekend Coffee Share

weekend coffee share

Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.
John Milton  1608-74  English Poet

Hello! I hope you all have had a great week! I sure have – there are a number of things which happened and to say I am a little overwhelmed is an understatement. However I am overwhelmed in the best way, mixed with excitement, which is always the best in a daunting and new situation. 🙂

So first off I just finished my first week at university! I couldn’t be happier right now, though I know that soon enough I will probably be drowning in a concoction of stress and exhaustion, at the moment I am over the moon, and loving the learning! I’ve chosen well in the Bachelor of Arts, I hope to major in English and Psychology next year, but am also doing History and Sociology as electives. I have a heap of reading to do but I love it. And I have a good feeling that I can do this part of my education right, that I can prove to myself that I can do well. This blog should be proof enough, I’ve found something I love, and now I can add uni to that list. No matter what comes of this degree and what happens in the next three years, I have a feeling that I won’t regret any of it!

You hear that, uni education!?

Bring. It. On! *cracks knuckles menacingly*

Something else I’d like to share this weekend, I got a job yesterday! 🙂 After almost a month of looking I got a call on Friday from the local Thai restaurant asking me to come for a trial run 🙂 Everything went smoothly last night so I now have the job! Yay! It’s my first job in a restaurant, however I have worked before at Bakers Delight 🙂 I was rather stressed at first but calmed down eventually and it turned out I rather enjoyed it!

Last I have to say that tomorrow I will have been living out of home for exactly a month! Eeeep! It’s a strange feeling but I do really enjoy it, and part of me is telling me I shouldn’t – but I do. I miss having my family around, my crazy sisters, seriously!! It is really quiet without them, but the space is good. Plus I moved into a place with a really close friend of mine, and it is seriously the best, I honestly don’t think I could have done this whole moving and transition thing smoothly without her, or at least as happily and confidently. Especially being quite far from home (five hours by car, seven by train), even though my mum does live in the area, it still would have been ten times stranger without moving here with my friend. Thank you Maggie!! 🙂

Anywho, that was pretty much my week! 🙂 How was yours? Did you start anything new? I hope you have a great week! 🙂

Three Things Thursday – Family Beach Holidays

There is something so beautiful about beach holidays, and as an Aussie you would think that I would get sick of beaches, sand, the sun, heat, the salt water and more sand. I don’t though, I love it! So the three things for this week:

Sand! I marvel at how sand can get literally everywhere, and no matter what I do I am still finding it everywhere in my very much inland home. A rather sandy incident occurred, however the photos we got from it were worth it!

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She was throwing the sand at me – so I got a sand shower! I thought she’d throw the sand skyward!

I’m in the middle of a really good book at the moment, The Word Exchange, by Alena Graedon. It’s nice to be able to lie on the beach and read, or even sit back at the house and read. I’m loving it!

Last but not least – swimming! The beaches here are gorgeous, and one is pretty flat so you can just float around on the calm waves. It’s beautiful! Plus there are a couple of waves every so often so you can catch them if you want!

What are three favourites for you this week? I hope yours has been just as good as mine!

Thanks for reading!
Anna

Three Things Thursday – More Festiveness, and also the Grinch!

Okay so first things first. (Though technically it’s tomorrows news) One of my best friends is getting back from her eleven month gap year trip, and I am probably far too excited, but there you go. I missed her heaps!! I’m waking up early early to meet her at the airport, then my friends and I are having a dinner that night with her where we will possibly hand out our Secret Santa presents. We started it a few years ago and it’s a lot of fun.We put a lot of effort into our choices, plus the presents are never really too serious which is great!

So last night I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the first time with my dad, sister and stepsisters – I absolutely loved it! It was hilarious and Jim Carrey as the Grinch could somehow be creepy and funny at the same time. I think it definitely tops as one of my favourite Christmas movies along with Love Actually and The Holiday! I’ll chuck a trailer in here because why not and I love it…plus it’s nearly Christmas!

So at number two this week: I spent the whole of yesterday clearing out my room! And boy in really needed it – for some reason I seem to hoard rubbish and also clothes which no longer fit me. Plus I’m sorta moving out next year, so the less I have to move the better. My room, the insides of my chest of draws Eugene, plus the small wardrobe which before was a messy sight, are all cleared and organised so I can actually find things. Yay!

What’s the third thing you ask? More smile worthy coffee art! Yes, we found Casper in my coffee, well I say ‘found’, dad has fun making faces and it just turned out to be Casper! How awesome is that!!?

Casper!!

 

What’s made your week great and smile worthy!?
One week til Christmas!!
Anna x