August Favourites

Fiction books

download (3)The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

A book about grief, friendship and ageing from the talented author of The Natural Way of Things. Grieving the loss of the fourth member of their quartet, the three remaining friends head to her shack for the Christmas weekend to clean it out ready for auction. Personalities clash and long-buried truths are revealed as the friends navigate their relationships with each other and themselves. A great book about female friendship and its complexities.

 

Americanah_book_coverAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, looking forward to reading it each night after work. It is written in a format I love where it alternates between the perspectives of the two main characters, giving you insight into two lives and how they intersect. While thoroughly enjoyable, this novel also tackles some difficult themes, particularly race and racism, making it a very pertinent novel for our current circumstances. I particularly loved the way the novel drills down into the intricacies and politics of African women’s hair and how they choose to wear it.

 

Podcasts

  • The great hope of Isiah Dawe from ABC RN’s Conversations – an interview with an inspiring young Indigenous man who moved from foster home to foster home as a child and is now CEO of a not-for-profit in Sydney’s Redfern which provides a home base for Indigenous kids experiencing similar upheaval.
  • Fascinating fungi – the intelligent kingdom from ABC RN’s Conversations – I wasn’t sure how interesting I’d find this interview but thought I’d give it a whirl. Turns out fungi are absolutely fascinating

 

Event

The event of the month would have to be my Birthday celebrations which extended over multiple days. This being my first Birthday away from home, as well as being a Birthday in the middle of a pandemic, it seemed important to physically surround myself with the people I love who are in Hobart with me and then virtually connect with my family and friends interstate.

So, I organised a small gathering of my Hobart friends at my house just before my actual Birthday (Hobart has been COVID-19 free for months now so this was allowed). I called the event “Bring a plate and celebrate”. As the name suggests, the idea was that each guest brought a plate of food to share which made my life super easy. All I had to do was to make a cake (I made a vegan and gluten-free chocolate cake to ensure everyone could partake); set up a tea and coffee station; and provide plates, mugs and so on. It was such a lovely afternoon, bringing together many (although sadly not all, some friends of course had work or other commitments) of the wonderful people in my life here, whether they be from work, the hiking group I’m part of, or people I know from Melbourne who have also ended up in Hobart.

My actual Birthday was on a work day. I thought about taking the day off but I ended up having a few urgent tasks to work on which meant I needed to put in some hours. I took in a cake (a second vegan and gluten-free chocolate cake) to share and received a wonderful surprise when flowers and card arrived on my desk over my lunch break. I spent lunch with one of my wonderful work friends and returned to the flowers and card from my previous manager! I did make sure to get away from work nice and early (around 3pm) so that I could have a relaxing afternoon and evening.

After an afternoon tea of leftover cake from the weekend and tea, I took my parents (virtually) with me for a walk via Skype. Then I spent some time replying to messages from friends and family interstate while my wonderful housemate cooked dinner for the three of us. We had a delicious creamy mushroom stroganoff and then played the game “Listen Up” which is essentially a game of conversation starters which took us into some deep and delicious conversations. When I say deep, I mean deep, we only made it through half the game before I had to get onto Zoom to eat cake with my family.

The Zoom call was a lovely way to get a dose of my family on my Birthday. I was regaled with an out-of-sync rendition of Happy Birthday – out-of-sync because my parents were singing from one location, my brother and his fiancé from another. Then we all ate chocolate cake, those in Melbourne ate a cake Mum had made, half of which she delivered to my brother and his fiancé, while I ate some of the cake I had made. Mum had sneakily shipped a present for me to my housemate a month earlier so this present magically appeared on the morning of my Birthday, giving me two things to open as Mum also express posted me another gift. The early arrival was a jigsaw, the late arrival was a box of my favourite dark chocolate, oat and almond cookies which Mum baked for me, plus a notepad.

These celebrations left my heart so full, particularly the beautiful messages people wrote in cards and to my phone. I am still waiting on some more cards which will no doubt add to this immense feeling of gratitude and loved-ness with which I have been suffused for some days now.

Basically, I couldn’t have asked for a better Birthday.

 

Self-care action

As my description of my Birthday hopefully highlights, I have a lot to be thankful for at the moment. While I have periodically written in a gratitude journal since I was 18, I’ve been filling it out once a week or so recently to record the wonderful things, people and experiences which fill my life here in Hobart. I usually fill it in before I go to bed with three things I’m grateful for from that day. Reflecting on my day puts a smile on my face, which is just the way I want to feel when I turn in for the night.

 

Love, hope and peace from Emma.

Feeling Vulnerable

Going to the General Practitioner (GP) last Thursday for the first time in Hobart made me feel strangely vulnerable.

At first, I wasn’t totally sure why. Perhaps it was simply a function of the power medical professionals have and revealing my medical history to a new medical professional. Or perhaps I was afraid this new GP would somehow get the wrong end of the stick and form the wrong impression of me.

But then I mentioned this feeling of vulnerability to Mum and she hit the nail on the head – going to the GP and talking through what’s going on for me right now meant admitting that things aren’t completely okay in my life. While the almost weekly migraines and constant fatigue have been trying to tell me this, I’ve been in denial – every migraine an aberration, an interruption to the way things should be; the fatigue a temporary state of affairs, something that will go away. And perhaps this is right, perhaps almost weekly migraines and constant fatigue aren’t the way things should be but, right now, almost weekly migraines and constant fatigue are the way things are.

After seeing the GP, the way things are came crashing down on me like a tonne of bricks. Now, I’m grieving and doubting and wondering.

Grieving the life I want to be leading, a life where migraines and fatigue don’t loom as large, where I can live my life largely free from anxiety about when the next migraine will come and whether I’ll make it through the day.

Doubting my capacity to continue working full time and pretending to be normal (I say pretending because my illness, my disability, has caught up with me – I can no longer pretend it doesn’t exist).

Wondering what happens next, how to progress in this new world where I once again live with a disability and need to adjust the way I live my life to match. Does this mean changing the way I work in some way? Does this mean being less social, less active, less alive because these things, no matter how good they make me feel, also drain my energy? Does this mean going back to napping just to get through my days?

To be honest, I don’t know the answers to these questions and some of what’s going on is out of my control. What I can do, however, is to take things one day at a time and meet myself where I am rather than where I want to be. This weekend, that means taking things very quietly.

There are always things I could be out doing – new hikes and cafes to try, friends to catch up with and so on. But right now, I am tired. I have been going going going, now I need to just be, embracing the stillness and silence. I’ve caught up with my parents over Skype and we’ve tested our general knowledge with the Saturday crossword. I’ve been for a rambling, slow walk in the sunshine while chatting to my brother on the phone and admiring the late winter blooms which are appearing, hinting at the spring to come. And now here I am, sitting at the dining table with my laptop, a crossword, a cup of tea and a couple of slices of sourdough fruit toast settling in my tummy.

Love, hope and peace from Emma.

Starting A New Job

Below are some hopefully relatable reflections on what it’s like to start a new job (or in my case, start a new rotation in the graduate program, which is essentially like starting a new job).

I had forgotten how strange starting a new job is until this week when I shifted into my new rotation and experienced it all for the third time this year. So, without further ado, here’s what happens:

  • You attend your first team meeting and a lot of what’s discussed goes straight over your head.
  • You spend a couple of/few days reading documents to familiarise yourself with the sort of work you will be doing, but without having anything practical or tangible to hang all this theoretical information on it rings quite hollow.
  • You feel tired after your first couple of/few days despite doing no substantive work.
  • You have slightly awkward introductory conversations with new colleagues as you try to determine the nature of the relationships you will have with each of them.
  • You find yourself at a new workstation, in a new space, with new colleagues, and you have to figure out how you fit within and use this space.
  • You find yourself at a new workstation which you have adorned with your own things, yet it doesn’t feel like yours yet.
  • You wish you were back doing whatever you did before this because it was familiar, used your skills and made you feel valued.
  • You wonder whether you’ll enjoy this new work, whether it will strike that all important balance of being challenging but doable, whether it will be fulfilling, interesting and as good as what you used to do.
  • You hope your former colleagues won’t forget about you and will remember you fondly.
  • You wonder whether you’ll feel the same when you leave this job as you did when you left your last one.
  • You wonder what a typical day will be, or whether perhaps there won’t be a typical day at all.
  • You have to remind yourself that it does get better, it does, the strangeness won’t last forever.

Love, hope and peace from Emma.

July Favourites

More reading this month, thanks to some time off and finding some great, rocketing fiction to read.

Fiction books

9780099458326Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

This was a good novel to read after work as the twisting, intertwining and somewhat magical plot was really engaging and kept me wanting to know what would happen next. Alongside the great plot, Murakami’s writing itself is beautiful and full of gems – turns of phrase, sentences, paragraphs – that beg to be written down and revisited. For example, the following paragraph absolutely hit a nail on the head:

Adults are forever raising the bar on clever children, precisely because they’re able to handle it. The children get overwhelmed by the tasks they are set and gradually lose the sort of openness and sense of accomplishment they naturally have. When they’re treated like that, children start to crawl inside a shell and keep everything inside. It takes a lot of time and effort to get them to open up again. Kids’ hearts are malleable, but once they gel it’s hard to get them back the way they were. Next to impossible, in most cases.

 

the-dryThe Dry by Jane Harper

Another totally engaging novel which I read in two days (admittedly one of those was a day off). I loved it so much that almost as soon as I had finished it, I started (and rocketed through) another Harper novel, this one titled The Lost Man. Both The Dry and The Lost Man are murder mysteries set against the vast Australian outback with its cattle stations, droughts and small yet incredibly complex and fraught communities. If you’re looking for something well-written but easy to sink your teeth into, both The Dry and The Lost Man are for you.

 

9780571171040Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

This is a slim book featuring two short(ish) stories which share a magical quality with Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. This is a book about serendipity and the way our lives, however seemingly separate, are connected by shared experiences of love and loss.

 

Non-fiction book

becomingBecoming by Michelle Obama

A few months after this was the assigned book club reading, I finally got to it. Becoming is a rare book in that its appeal spans the generations – my Great Aunt read and loved it, as did my Mum, as did my fourteen-year-old cousin, as did I. I particularly enjoyed learning how Michelle and Barack met, as well as getting a behind the scenes look behind being First Lady of the USA. Michelle’s drive to do something meaningful and useful with her life and skills really resonated with me as someone whose whole aim in work and life more broadly is to live a life filled with meaning and purpose.

 

download (2)Beauty by Bri Lee

This slim tome by the author of the incredible Eggshell Skull is quite an intense read in that it is a brutally honest account of Lee’s struggle with her eating and body. But for that very reason, it is also a mightily important read. Its description of the double standard we hold – one expectation for ourselves (having to be perfect and never quite attaining that), another for everyone else (they are perfect just the way they are) – hit home for me as someone who rages against the unfair beauty standards society sets for women but then still looks in the mirror and picks apart the body reflected there. One of my housemates read it after me and found it similarly intense because for her, as for me, it totally hit the nail on the head. Housemate number three is currently reading or preparing to read it. A housemate book club of sorts is likely to ensue.

 

16388780One Story, One Song by Richard Wagamese

I must confess I haven’t actually finished this book yet, but I am more than half way through and absolutely loving it. Having read two of Wagamese’s novels, Indian Horse and Medicine Walk, I knew this would be a well written piece of non-fiction and my goodness it is. Broken up into short (typically three to five page) reflections, I find myself nodding, smiling and wanting to write down quotes with almost every page I read. This book contains so much wisdom, kindness, warmth. So much of all that is good and wonderful in this world. I am reading it slowly to really savour the beauty of Wagamese’s words and the depth of his reflections. Cannot recommend highly enough and cannot thank my housemate enough for introducing me to Wagamese.

 

Podcasts

Blacademia

A new discovery for me, although the existing podcast episodes were released earlier this year. Hosted by Amy Thunig, each episode is a yarn with a First Nations academic. Guests include Professor Marcia Langton AM (Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies and Associate Provost at the University of Melbourne) and Professor Anita Heiss (author of some amazing fiction and non-fiction books I have written about on my blog). I love the way Thunig goes back to basics with these esteemed academics, asking them about their families and getting them to explain academic concepts like doing an Honours year.

 

Cautionary Tales

The second season of this wonderful podcast focuses on lessons we can learn from history about the current COVID-19 pandemic. The way creator and host Tim Harford links different ideas, research and historical events together into digestible 30-minute episodes is fantastic. A great way to get some perspective on what’s happening in the present, which often seems overwhelmingly bad.

 

Film

In My Blood It Runs

This critically acclaimed documentary is told through the eyes of 10-year-old Arrernte/Garrwa boy, Dujuan, and his family. It shows just how far we still have to come as non-Indigenous Australians in revolutionising our institutions and attitudes. The scene which stuck with me is the one where a white teacher reads a picture book about Captain Cook ‘discovering’ Australia to a group of mostly Indigenous children. Their very presence in the room highlights the absolute untruth of the story the teacher is telling and yet that’s still the story on the curriculum.

 

Self-care action and event

My major self-care action and the major event for July was five days away at Freycinet National Park. I am incredibly lucky to live in Tasmania where there are currently no active COVID-19 cases, meaning it is possible to go on a trip within the state. I had a very Emma few days of hiking during the day, then snuggling up in the late afternoon/evening with a cup of tea and a book or a crossword or a TV show, or all three (not all at once of course).

The highlight hike was climbing Mount Amos (photo below is me on top of it). This is a challenging climb which requires use of all four limbs to safely make it to the top. Part hike, part rock climb, the concentration required to navigate the slippery granite slabs helps you to forget about your bursting lungs. The view when you emerge from the climb is sensational and an appropriate reward for the effort. Not one to attempt unless you are fit and well kitted out (hiking boots are a must).

IMG_0488

The highlight bird sighting were the hooded plovers I encountered on Hazards Beach and again on the Friendly Beaches. These birds are classed as vulnerable in Victoria (my former home) and while I had seen signs warning visitors to certain areas to avoid walking on the dunes to protect the plovers and their nests, I’d never seen one of these birds before. In Tasmania, the species is classed as secure and the dozens of birds I saw seem to reflect this. They are petite shorebirds with beautiful markings and a hilarious habit of standing near the water but running away as if in fright every time the water touches their feet – ie every minute or so. The photos below shows a group of seven hooded plovers on Hazards Beach.

IMG_0402

 

Other events

Special mention must also go to a Sunday outing a few weeks back down to Snug Falls just south of Hobart. I took a friend with me to the hike which was run by a hiking group I am part of. The group of seven of us had fun squelching our way through the mud down to the falls and back again. The friend and I then came back to Hobart via Margate where we stopped in at a lovely fresh produce store called Meredith’s Orchard followed by an amazing and decadent lunch at Margate’s ‘Pancake Train’, a pancake restaurant in an old train. Pictures of the falls and my pancake lunch are below.

600_49127867620200712_134942_resized

 

That’s it for July, although I feel certain I’ve forgotten something!

Love, hope and peace from Emma.

Mid-Year Review

On January 12 2020, writing about my intentions for this year, I wrote:

It’s hard to say exactly what new things I will do and experience [in 2020] and I don’t even want to guess here, because being open to the year’s possibilities at this stage means being open to the unknown. I want this year to be a year of further personal growth. I want this year to be fun and surprising and energising. And that means leaving my 2020 intentions at that. Yes, that’s it.

I was open-minded about the coming year, entertaining many possibilities and ideas about what it would bring. But in no vision of 2020 did I imagine a global pandemic.

COVID-19 hasn’t been the only surprise. In addition, 2020 has shown me that I am a lot more independent, resilient and capable than I realised. Because this year, to coincide (unintentionally of course) with a global pandemic, I have also:

  • Moved out of home;
  • Moved interstate;
  • Moved into a share house;
  • Started full-time work;
  • Created a new social network; and
  • Started putting down roots in a new city.

This year has shown me that I am more independent, resilient and capable than I realised because, despite all this change occurring all at once, I have not crumbled. Quite the opposite in fact. Sometimes this year, I have felt happier than I ever have as an adult. There have been challenges, most notably being separated from my family and friends back in Melbourne and the exhaustion I continue to feel having worked on the Tasmanian Government’s COVID-19 response for nearly three months, but I have managed these by upping my self-care efforts. This has included:

  • Doing yoga at least four times per week;
  • Walking to and from work on weekdays, plus getting out for longer walks/hikes on weekends;
  • Reading (albeit not at quite the rate of the previous year or two);
  • Writing my blog (albeit not quite as frequently as I would like because, having spent all week at a computer, sitting down at my laptop to write a post on a weeknight or on the weekend often doesn’t appeal);
  • Listening to podcasts;
  • Eating a healthy vegetarian (almost vegan) diet; and
  • Spending time with loved ones, both face to face with the new friends in my life and virtually with family and friends back in Melbourne or elsewhere.

At the beginning of 2020, I probably anticipated having clarity about what this year would bring by now, but COVID-19 has put a substantial spanner in the works on this front. The most significant uncertainty for me is having no idea when I will get to see my family and friends in Melbourne face to face again. It is now almost six months since I last saw my immediate family.

Some things which have become clear to me so far this year are that:

  • Hobart suits me as a home city (I thought it would, but I now know it does);
  • I like living with housemates and I’m glad I don’t live alone (I wasn’t sure how living in a share house would go and thought living on my own sounded good, but boy am I glad I’ve had company at home throughout the pandemic, it has honestly keep me sane);
  • I can cope with full-time work, despite my chronic health issues (I really wasn’t sure whether I would cope with working five full days each week, but the clear delineation between work and life has actually boosted my health greatly); and
  • Making new friends is possible and, in fact, energising (I was worried I would struggle to make new friends in my new city and/or not enjoy the process, but it has been surprisingly easy to make new friends, despite the pandemic, and I have met some absolutely lovely people here).

But COVID-19 means it far from clear what the second half of 2020 will bring. So, the intention I set at the beginning of the year remains entirely appropriate. I intend to approach the rest of 2020 with an open mind, just as I approached the first half of this year. Because really, who knows what the rest of 2020 will bring.

Love, hope and peace from Emma.

June Favourites

Books

My reading rate has decreased recently, mostly due to my exhaustion. Snuggling up under my doona to watch a TV show has felt more appealing than picking up a book most nights after work. And I’ve typically been going to bed quite early, meaning there’s not as much chance to both watch a TV show and read a book. A further drain on the time I have to read has come in the form of my deepening yoga practice. But if more yoga means slightly less reading, I’m going with it – the yoga is so important. The two books I did make it through in June were both excellent, so both are featured below.

 

9780143792208Fake by Stephanie Wood

This book is many things – a cautionary tale about the perils of online dating, a work of investigative journalism, a love story and a deeply personal memoir. It is well written, easy to read and well worth delving into. There was a wonderful interview with Wood last year on my favourite podcast, ABC RN’s Conversations, if you’re interested in hearing her story before potentially reading the book.

 

2598616Talkin’ Up to the White Woman by Aileen Moreton-Robinson

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve decided at book club to read some of the amazing literature written by Australia’s First Nations authors. For June, the book was Australia Day by Stan Grant, something I read in September last year (refer to my September Favourites). For July, the book is Aileen Moreton-Robinson’s Talkin’ Up to the White Woman, a book about the whiteness of Australian feminism and its effects on First Nations women.

This is not an easy read, being quite academic in its approach (in fact, I read excerpts of it at university) and challenging. However, it is vital reading for any Australian woman who identifies as feminist. The thread running through the book is the following statement:

The middle-class subject position white woman remains invisible, unmarked and unnamed.

And its challenge to Australian feminism and feminists is this:

If Indigenous women’s interests are to be accorded some priority, white feminists will need to relinquish some power.

 

Podcasts

Race in America pt 1: George Yancy and Race in America pt 2: Lewis Gordon from ABC RN’s The Philosopher’s Zone are two really important half hours to listen to. Yancy and Gordon are both African American Professors of Philosophy whose thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement are really important to listen to.

After the death of George Floyd from ABC RN’s The Minefield is another good one to listen to. It features Paul C Taylor, another African Amercian Professor of Philosophy, who is also a Professor of African American studies.

 

TV shows

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Over the month of June, I rewatched all three seasons of this show. It was exactly the right sort of viewing material for an exhausted person – each episode really sucks you in with its intrigue, but you know it will all be resolved by the end of the 50-something minutes. It’s predictable viewing without being boring.

 

Filthy Rich and Homeless

Back for a third season, the premise of this TV show is to take five high profile Australians and give them a taste of homelessness. They spend a few nights sleeping on the streets, alone and then with a buddy experiencing homelessness; experience life in crisis accommodation; and finally spend time in boarding houses. The experience changes all of them, as it always does. I just wish more people could be put through the experience, especially those who judge people experiencing homelessness harshly. The lessons resonate strongly with me as someone who volunteered with people experiencing homelessness over several years.

 

Music

I know Kishi Bashi was my music favourite last month, but he was the artist I played again and again in June. I’ve particularly been enjoying the song Statues in a Gallery. It’s a great one to play if I’m struggling to get out of bed in the cold, dark Hobart winter mornings!

 

Self-care action

I’ve mentioned a few times over the past few months that I have been doing a lot more yoga than I’ve ever done before. In June, the trend continued to deepen as I committed to (and stuck to) practicing at least four times each week – Tuesday nights, Thursday nights (digital class), Saturdays and Sundays. I don’t stick to this structure religiously. After a 9km hike last Saturday I gave yoga a miss that day, but after a Wednesday at work where I came home with a sore shoulder I decide to practice to stretch myself out. As I said, the structure is a guide not gospel, but I do find it useful having this guide.

 

Events

IMG_0247That 9km hike I just mentioned was definitely a highlight for June. I’m part of a group of women here in Tassie who go on hiking and other outdoors adventures together. The 9km hike was on Mt Wellington, taking in the beautiful Organ Pipes (pictured). Not only was the scenery beautiful, the company was pretty good too! I did another walk with the group a couple of weeks before this one on the Cornelian Bay track which was similarly enjoyable.

Other highlights were celebrating my housemate’s Birthday with a dinner at her favourite Japanese restaurant surrounded by her friends and celebrating a new friend’s 30th Birthday at a pizza place in the city where I enjoyed myself despite knowing no one except the Birthday girl herself (take that anxiety).

 

Love, hope and peace from Emma.

It’s Been A While

It’s been a while since I last wrote a post.

After 11 weeks working on the Tasmanian Government response to COVID-19, I moved back to “normal” job this week (I put “normal” in inverted commas because as a graduate I move divisions every six months anyway). Evidently, while I was in the midst of the frantic chaos, I was running on adrenaline. I say evidently, because I am now exhausted.

The long days, the days without a proper chance for a lunch break, the overtime on weekends, the days of 100 incoming emails and as many outgoing, the pressure of every single email and every single piece of work being urgent – it has all caught up with me.

In the thick of it, I didn’t even have time to think about how tired I was, or perhaps I just ignored it. I didn’t have the chance to reflect on the enormity of our workload, of just how much we were doing ever single day. In the thick of it, my reminder that I couldn’t just keep on like that forever were my migraines.

Now, after a week of doing my “normal” job, the tiredness has set in. And it is bone tiredness. My body is heavy, especially my eyes. Life is still full of good and lovely things, but I need to pace myself with rushing to get amongst these because my body needs time to recover. So does my mind. So the posts may not be coming as regularly but I am still here.

Love, hope and peace from Emma.

May Favourites

Fiction book

9780552160964I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

This is an epic book (more than 800 pages) which I probably wouldn’t have launched myself into had it not been May’s book club book. I was invited along to book club by a lovely person who works in my office after she discovered that I was new to Hobart and loved reading. This will be my second session, currently being conducted digitally of course, and the first for which I have actually read the book. It’s a perfect book club to be part of, full of people around my age who are all lovely and intelligent. And while this book is not something I would have launched myself into voluntarily given its length and genre (I watch a fair amount of crime/murder mystery type stuff but don’t typically read it), I’m glad I was forced because it is excellent. Within the first couple of chapters (and the chapters are short and snappy, something I always appreciate in a book), I was hooked by this mystery/thriller/crime /murder mystery novel. You get the sense Hayes spent days/weeks/months/who knows how long storyboarding it, working out how all the different moving parts would intersect and interact. The result is a masterfully crafted novel which covers a lot of terrain. It’s been a great post-work read, something I look forward to picking up and diving back into each night and something I read until I’m too tired to keep reading any more (usually around 9pm, yes I’m an old lady at heart and full-time work is tiring). Anyway, highly recommended.

 

9780099448570South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

This is another of the selection of books one of my housemates provided me with as a sampler of some of her favourites. I have been aware of Murakami for quite some time but this was the first of his books I have actually read. This book spans many decades, following the relationship of two childhood friends into their adult lives. Told from the perspective of one friend, the other remains mysterious and alluring throughout the novel. The book is the perfect mixture of optimism and melancholy. Bittersweet is a good word to describe it. I’m now seriously contemplating tackling some of Murakami’s heftier tomes such as IQ84, which there happens to be a copy of in my house.

 

Non-fiction book

Hobart-678x1024Hobart by Peter Timms

I read this book for the first time in November last year when I was gearing up for my move to Hobart. It was a great introduction to what was to be my new home which made me start falling in love with it. After three months in my new home, I thought it was worth reading the book about this place again now that I am becoming increasingly familiar with its streets and suburbs and moods and people. It didn’t disappoint, just bolstering my  sense of love for this place. It was also a particularly timely read given that I am basically stuck here and searching for new places I can walk and explore which are close to home.

 

Podcasts

Not Alone from Beyond Blue – hosted by Marc Fennell was my new favourite for May. Each episode of Not Alone is an interview with an Australian who has been on a mental health “journey”, plus some insights from Beyond Blue’s Lead Clinical Advisor from Dr Grant Blashki. All the episodes I’ve listened to so far have been fantastic.

Conversations from ABC RN continues to delight and inspire me. My favourite episodes which I listened to during May were:

 

Music

Kishi Bashi

I’ve returned to an old favourite in Kishi Bashi – thanks to my brother and his now fiancé for introducing me to him. His music is uplifting and fun, just what I need at the moment!

 

Event

The parcel I received in the post last Tuesday from Mum. It was a container full of my favourite dark chocolate, oat and almond cookies which Mum had made specially for me with this beautiful message attached. I felt so many warm fuzzies reading the message and called Mum straight away to say a massive thank you. The parcel was just what I needed after a bit of a rough patch health-wise.

98346251_536677363888024_4973008358475825152_n

 

That’s it for May.

Love, hope and peace from Emma.

Interactions With Strangers – The COVID-19 World

As I move through my days in the COVID-19 world, small things are striking me as important. This is the second in my series recording these small things. Please check out Glimpses Of Domesticity – The COVID-19 World if you missed it. 


A woman taking her elderly and uncooperative dog our for a walk, the dog refusing the heel and instead insisting by obstinately refusing to budge that he really must say hello to me. She apologies, “Sorry, my dog’s not very good at social distancing”.

A man walking past my window as I work from home, stretching out his arm to wave at me when our eyes meet.

A little boy out walking with his parents, leading the march up the Hill Track, who when he sees me calls out a cheery “hello” matched with an equally cheery smile.

A man who I pass in the Cascade Gardens who, when  I return his salutation and ask him how he is, he replies “freezing” and rubs his hands together in the hope that the friction will work its magic and warm him.

The woman selling apples and pears from her orchard at the Hanging Garden Green Grocer here in Hobart who tells me about attending her sister’s wedding in East Arnhem Land via video link from her home in Franklin, Tasmania.

The elderly Chinese couple who live a block away and are often out exercising who now recognise me as I too am often out exercising and always give me a broad smile and a nod of recognition when I walk past, even if I’m on the other side of the road.

The woman manning the baskets at Woolworths who sprays and wipes down a basket as I come down the escalator into the store and gestures towards it with a smile as I approach as if to say, “Here is your basket, I sanitised it just for you”. She then takes my basket from me when I am finished with it, for some strange reason saying thank you to me when I hand it to her. “No, thank you!” I reply, because she’s the one who’s doing something worth expressing gratitude for – seeing each and every basket through each journey from the stack through the aisles to the checkouts and back to the stack.

The man with his insanely white, insanely fluffy and hence insanely cute Japanese spitz who I often encounter walking the opposite direction to me as I head into work for the day who always says “G’day”.

And the hundreds of other people who say hello in slightly less memorable ways, or even just smile, reminding me that people are, for the most part, good.

Love, hope and peace from Emma.

A Weekend Of Self-Care

The past couple of weeks have been a bit rough, with some difficult stressors and the physical health effects which stress brings – fatigue and migraines. Consequently, this weekend has been all about self-care. This has included:

  • Getting out of the house for a walk whenever I start to feel a bit stagnant (so far there have been three walks of at least an hour);20200524_120009_resized
  • Talking to loved ones;
  • Doing some colouring;
  • Listening to Dan Sultan and Half Moon Run;
  • Doing some gardening and picking myself a bouquet for my room (pictured to the right, it includes tree dalhias and salvias);
  • Going back to an old favourite and watching the TV series Miranda – a good choice given how hilariously funny it is;
  • Doing yoga;
  • Making pots of tea and savouring the moment of drinking them;
  • Putting together a delicious cheese, caramelised onion and sun-dried tomato toastie with caramelised Brussels sprouts/broccoli and peas both days for lunch;
  • Sleeping until I wake up (ie not having an alarm set) – this meant getting up at 8am on Saturday and 10am on Sunday;
  • Eating some other yummy favourites – toast with apricot jam in the afternoon as a snack, muesli with banana and soy milk for breakfast, dark chocolate, crackers with peanut butter;
  • Sitting in the kitchen in the morning to soak in the sunshine;
  • Listening to podcasts;
  • Lighting incense;
  • Forgetting about work;
  • Doing crosswords; and
  • Rewatching some of my favourite comedians’ appearances on Would I Lie To You.