Moving House

This last fortnight I’ve been moving house. And it’s been harder than any other move I’ve made. Harder even than moving out of home, or moving from Melbourne to Sydney. It’s strange, because I’ve only moved from one end of Newtown to the other. Both the aforementioned moves involved a great deal more distance, and probably more obvious emotional upheaval. So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why this move has been as difficult as it has — and wondering whether I’ve just turned into a big wimp.

It’s been different to any other move I’ve made though. For starters, it was a reluctant move. My housemates and I got a phone call halfway through December telling us the owner of our house was returning from the UK and would like her house back. Two of my housemates were already planning on leaving (they’re travelling around Australia this year in a pop-top van — you can read about their adventures here), but Housemate Three and I were planning on staying in the house. When we realised we’d all be leaving the house at the same time, the phrase “end of an era” found its way into conversation more than a few times.

This house had become home, these housemates like family.

So I guess we began the process of sorting, packing and moving with… well, heavy hearts. Sometime towards the middle of January, I found myself thinking about how I’d only walk this route to a yoga class (or get off the train at this station, or stare out my bedroom windows, or go for a walk in this park, or see this or that neighbour on the street) a finite number of times. And every now and then the four of us would be standing together in the kitchen talking and/or cooking, and one of us would sigh. Sentimentality became a big part of our last weeks in the house.

Then I suppose there was the move itself, which was a bit of a shit fight, if I’m honest. We were really settled in that place. Which is really just a nice way of saying we had a lot of crap, spread out all over the place. Packing, sorting and cleaning was not fun.

For the fortnight it took us all to pack up and move out, I felt like I didn’t really have a home. My new housemates and I had picked up the keys to our new house, so a lot of my stuff was in the new place, but so much of me remained in the old place. For the last week I was sleeping at the new house, and getting up each morning to go to the old house to work more on moving out. That week felt more like ten weeks.

That last week the five of us (four housemates plus Housemate Three’s girlfriend) went out for dinner and drinks — a kind of farewell. I had such a great time with my little sharehouse family.

And I drank a little too much wine. Getting up the next day was difficult.

When we finally handed the keys back last Friday, and went out together for a final housemate breakfast, I think we were all ready to leave. We were glad the move was over (we were also very hungry — we’d all been up since 6 or 7am and we were eating at midday). So in a way, I guess the sadness that had made the process so difficult in the first place was kind of worked through by the horror of the move itself. Or at least pushed to the background for now. I’ll miss that house, and I’ll miss my housemates, but for now I’m ready to focus on what’s going on in my life right now.

I’m excited to be working again. I’ve got writing projects slowly starting to make their way from my head onto paper; next week I’m going to Adelaide for Format Festival’s Academy of Words; and I’m preparing for some new yoga classes I’ll start teaching in the next month.

This move though, and the process of moving in general, is still flitting about inside my head. I’m writing about moving for this month’s Monday Project theme, and I’m thinking again about some of the other writing I’ve done on travel, moving and connection to place.

As difficult as it’s been, moving house has certainly got the cogs turning again. Change, as they say, is as good as a holiday. Except that I feel like I need a holiday to recover from this particular change.

The Monday Project returns

As you may or may not remember, over the last couple of years I’ve been involved in running The Monday Project. My lovely friend, Kate, and I would set a theme for a project on the first Monday of every month, with responses to that theme due the first Monday of the following month. The aim of the game was to provide a little bit of inspiration to get something started, and a deadline for a little bit of a kick up the bum (because we agreed that we certainly needed both those things).

Things went a bit awry sometime last year, and Kate and I sadly lost the motivation to continue setting the themes each month. I guess we both got caught up in other things we were doing and never got back to it…

But! With some nagging gentle encouragement from another good friend, Mr Sketchy, we’re set to make a return in February. Mr Sketchy will be helping us out, and we’ve moved to new digs here on wordpress.

We’ve had some serious fun responding to these themes, and met some wonderful people through the projects. I’m sure it will continue in much the same manner! So if you’ve got any desire to do something creative, even if it’s just a tiny one, I’d encourage you to keep your eye on this space. We’ll also be sending out an email at the re-launch, and with each subsequent project. Send us an email here if you’d like to be notified that way.

I’m so excited to be restarting this! Hope to see a few new names pop up (and some old favourites too!).


I’ve spent most of today planning out teaching schedules for the year. It’s been a little frustrating, but now that it’s done my life will be so much easier.

When I finished the overall plan, I realised that I should probably do the same with my various writing and yoga teaching projects — the bigger ones in particular. So tomorrow that’s probably what I’ll do.

Just now I’ve looked up yearly planners, and come across this one, which I really want. Because I work on so many different things at once, it’ll be good to be able use the whiteboard to plan one project, then put that plan in the documents I’ve made up elsewhere, wipe the whiteboard clean and start on the next project. Then when I’m done with everything I can put all the major projects up there together in brief. Woo.

Yeah. I’m a nerd.

Walking it out

Yesterday I had one of those frustrating days. I woke up tired, with a furrowed brow, and I don’t think either affliction left me all day. My housemate turned the hot water on (twice) just as I put my face under the shower, then he beat me to the washing machine. Neither of these things would normally bother me, but he obviously sensed my irrational annoyance because apologised to me and I found myself feeling irritated that I’d been such a cranky pants*. Then I walked all the way to the train station and realised I’d forgotten my wallet as I went to pay for my train ticket. I had to walk all the way home and then back again, only just making the next train, and only just making it to the class I was teaching at midday.

And it went on like this all day. Practicing yoga myself at home frustrated me because my body was tired and reluctant to hold itself in a headstand or twist too deeply. A cup of tea and a cupcake melted the frustration just a little but not enough that I could concentrate on doing anything useful.

Finally at about 5pm, after a full day of wearing my cranky pants, I decided to go for a walk. Walking to the park I was aware of how heavy my legs felt, annoyed that I still wasn’t better after last week’s sickness. But already the walking-for-the-sake-of-walking was eating away at my irritability. My tired legs managed to carry me past the play equipment and cafe at Sydney Park, and up the hill to my favourite spot. (From the top of this hill you can look one way and see planes flying over the airport, and the other to see the cityscape of Sydney. I’ve spent many hours sitting here by myself, writing or mulling over things. And also some time being photographed doing yoga — this photo is an outtake from that shoot. You can see the tiny white speck of a plane just to the left of my head.)

Off came the shoes. I moved off the path and continued my walk in the grass. Within about three steps my frustration was all but gone.

I often do this barefoot walking in the park. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realise this was what I needed yesterday. Ambling along on the grass has helped me work out countless life/boy/money/writing problems.

I wandered along until I reached a part of the hill that had a view of the man-made lake and I plonked myself down. I sat there and thought about all the things that were frustrating me and was finally able to use that irritable energy to achieve something.

For me, frustration is usually the precursor to a period of action — something that pulls me out of whatever situation is frustrating me in the first place. Of course, I’m only just working this out now — and I’m not always quick on the uptake. Sometimes I have to collapse into a sobbing mess or go flying over the handle bars of my bike before I realise that I need to stop and take a look at the irritability rather than just trying to bury it.

I don’t know what it is about walking that manages to let me both acknowledge the frustration and work through it. And the barefoot thing makes the walking even more powerful. For a while there I was getting an hour’s walk in twice a week, because I was teaching in Marrickville and it took half an hour to wander there and back. I rode my bike each way for a while (until I took a spill), but I realised that I preferred the walk. The walk gave me time to think. And after a while I seemed to save up my most convoluted problems for those walks.

Now that I don’t teach in M’ville anymore, I think I need to make sure I’m still getting my thinking walks. Regularly. Yes, for my mental health, but also for my work. As I wandered yesterday I thought about things in my personal life that are frustrating me, but I also thought through a number of professional issues and some writing problems.

I’ve heard of companies who have their meetings walking around a park. I think they’re onto something.

* Luckily, my housemate is due to go off to Byron for a few days today and so was in a “nothing’s botherin’ me” mood yesterday. I’m not always a grumpy housemate. Promise.

The people in my head

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how many people I have living in my head. Characters, I mean. Fictional ones. Some of them I’ve been getting to know for more than four years now, others I’ve just met.

A few weeks ago I was talking to one of my students about some characters from a story she’s writing, and halfway through my spiel on character development I realised how strange it might sound that I was asking her to let these people live in her head. She noticed my hesitation and called me on it, as teenagers are wont to do, and laughed a lot when I pointed out how crazy I sounded. I’m pretty sure she does think I’m mad (not just because I talk about people living in my head), but she seemed to understand what I was saying about character.

My characters get under my skin. I care about them just almost as much as I do about people in real life. I see them in real-life people — a gesture here, a phrase there. But I don’t think any of my characters are based on a particular person. They become people in their own right.

I often get my students to do writing exercise to help them get to know their characters. I realised the other day that I’m very bad at actually doing these exercises myself. Oops.

One of my favourite character-writing exercises comes from the Voiceworks blog, Virgule.

Answer these questions about your character:

1. What is your character afraid of?
2. What does your character do to de-stress?
3. What makes your character angry?
4. Who was the last person your character talked to on the phone?
5. In what position does your character sleep?

Whenever I give this one to my students they laugh at the last question. Perhaps rightly so — it is an odd question. But odd probably because it’s such an intimate thing to know about someone. I don’t even know what position my brothers or my parents sleep in. I sleep on my back, one leg straight, the other bent so the knee falls out to the side; the hand of the straight leg rests on my belly, the hand of the bent leg out to the side. I don’t seem to have a preference for one side. How do you sleep?

I’ve been thinking a little about some of my characters, and how they might sleep. Have they always slept this way? Does their position change when someone else is in the bed with them? Why do that sleep like that?

And this is why I like this exercise so much. The answers often come automatically (given that these people really do seem to live inside my head), but they bring with them a bunch of other questions.

Rambling… sorry

I’ve fallen off the wagon again. I’ve really struggled to write here regularly now for several months. A few weeks ago (actually, it was only last week, but it seems like ages ago) I went to the Emerging Writers’ Festival Roadshow at the NSW Writers’ Centre and realised, in a session about blogging, why it might be that this blog has virtually fallen into disrepair. One of the panelists, Kathryn Elliot, was talking about how every now and then she needs to take some time away from her blog to work out exactly why she writes on it. I realised that, my previous post aside, I’ve not really done that.

What is this space for me? I know I don’t want to give it away, so why is that? Why is it important to me? What do I want to use it for?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been asking myself some of these questions and have (thankfully) come up with some answers. I think I’ve been a little afraid of putting too much of myself into this space — something to do with privacy and boundaries, I suppose. I’m quite a private person (I think). I’m the type of person who spends lots of time one-on-one with her friends. I’m perfectly comfortable (these days) in crowded gatherings, but my preference is definitely for smaller ones. In a crowd I’m quiet; one-on-one I’m much more animated. And I guess, somehow, sharing a lot about myself here felt a little like being on display in a crowded room. Of course, that’s all in my head, since I’m sure that most people who read here are people I know and care about in real life (hello Mum and Dad), and those that aren’t are other bloggers with whom I’ve got a long standing blog friendship.

So I’m going to try to think of this space a little more like a small table at a cafe, across which I’m sharing tidbits with one or two others.

Pass the sugar, would you?

The other problem I have with this space is finding regularity. Ha. Actually, that’s a problem I have in my life. I’m an organised person, but I don’t work full-time, I only have a few regular work engagements, and everything else is sporadic or one-off projects. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I love working the way that I do. It comes in particularly handy when I’m sick with a weird heavy-and-tingly-limbed illness like I am this week; I can spend my sick time concentrating on quieter work like transcribing interviews and research reading.

But it does make it awfully difficult to find a routine. Yes, I get up at around the same time every day but Sunday, I have lunch at around the same time each day. Dinner too. But my work is so all over the place that I have no regularity to my writing (keep in mind the writing is why I kick-started this yoga teaching adventure in the first place). I’ve tried doing writing exercises in the morning, but my body and brain are loathe to do it. My mornings are my evenings, so to speak, since much of my teaching work is in the afternoon and evenings. Every part of me is telling me just to relax in the mornings. I don’t know. Maybe I should try starting my working day (at about 11am) with a creative writing exercise. Any thoughts?

Despite my lack of writing routine, I do have several writing projects on the go. One fiction, several non-fiction. A lot of my work on them at the moment seems to be going on in my head, rather than on paper, which I think is a legitimate workspace. But I am hoping they make the switch to pen-on-paper sooner rather than later.

Apologies for the long ramble. Hopefully some regularity in posting will mean I can avoid these kind of epic posts. On that note I’m off to work on some writing, and hopefully I’ll have something more positive to post soon(er rather than later).

If you’ve made it this far in this post, you deserve a treat. Check out the latest Do What You Love post over at Pacing the Panic Room. Now if I could just work out how to work for myself like this amazing lady does…

Direction and disruption

I’ve been quiet here, I know. I’ve been busy with various types of work, I guess, and I can tentatively say that things are starting to move down a path I’m pleased with.

But more than that, I think I’ve been quiet here because I’m not quite sure what to do with this space. I started writing here as a space to share fiction I was working on, just in little bits and pieces. Then I tried to make it a little more about the process of writing and reading. Then motivation and inspiration crept in, closely followed by food and yoga. And now it’s just a completely muddled space, with no real direction. Which, funnily enough, is how my life has been for the last six months or so! Haha…

I’m still struggling with the direction thing. Even though I say that things are moving, slowly, along a path that I’m pleased with, I feel like I should maybe be thinking a little bit more about where I’m stepping next. I want to do so much. I want to write, I want to teach yoga, I want to cook, travel, play music. I want to work with sound again. But how on earth does one fit it all in? How does one find the motivation to be proactive with so many things?

One of my favourite bloggers, Claire, wrote recently about feeling like almost everything she was doing only to a ‘good enough’ level, and I must admit that rang true for me.  Can one person really do everything that I want to do? Does it just take good planning?

A couple of weeks ago I was house-sitting for my parents in Canberra, and it gave me a bit of space. I wasn’t working any of my usual contact hours with students (yoga or otherwise), but I still had quite a long work-to-do list. Part of me wanted to put it aside and really try and nut out some kind of plan for how to move forward. I struggled for a few days, deciding what to do, but eventually I put aside all my work and wrote out some plans. Nothing particularly ordered. I just listed each of the major things I want to do with my life and then rambled on and on underneath the heading until I thought maybe I’d worked out some kind of plan.

Most days I went for a walk with Bert.

And I talked to him. Asked him questions about my life, about the direction I was going in. He just grinned at me and lept up on a ledge or ran off into a bit of long grass, but it was nice to just be able to talk nonsense and not have anyone judging me. (Unless of course there were other people about that I couldn’t see — the spot up behind my parents’ house is pretty secluded.)

At the end of the week I was excited. I had some plans for next year, and it looked as though I was going to be able to do pretty much everything I want to — including travel and more study.

But then I came back to Sydney.

I’d been away for nearly two weeks by this point, and it’s taken me nearly another week to feel settled again. I haven’t been sure what to do with myself, how to fill out my days. It’s a combination of quite a few things that have left me feeling like this, not the least of which is the fact that, even though I’ve got some idea of what I’m going to do next year, I don’t know what I want from the next three months or so.

So I’m not done with thinking and planning yet. I’m hoping it doesn’t take me too much longer to move on from planning to actually doing…

Watch this space!

Music obsession

Have you ever found a song that you just listen to again and again? And again? It happens to me every now and then, and right now, this song by Radical Face is it.

Ryan over at Pacing the Panic Room (a blog I absolutely love) used this song in some work he did for a couple at their wedding. The video is worth watching — it’s put together beautifully, and it’s full of heart-string-pulling lovey-dovey moments. (I’ve watched it a few times now.)

In other news, I went to the Sydney launch for harvest magazine on Friday night. On a cold night, a glass of wine and readings by two of the writers published in the current issue of the magazine was exactly what I needed. Elena has a review of the issue up on With Extra Pulp. Check it out.

I’m hoping to get posting here regularly happening again. I’ve been led astray by the need to find work, and by cooking. P’raps I’ll put up some recipes for the stuff I’ve been cooking. It’s been pretty yum, if I do say so myself.

For now though, back to the song.

Monday Project: … and there followed a moment’s silence.

They sat by the phone together, he and she, brother and sister. Waiting. They did not look at the phone with their eyes, but their bodies tried to turn towards it. She pulled at her handkerchief, he bit his lip. The branches of the bare tree outside scratched at the window glass.

When the phone did finally ring its sound filled the room and silenced the tree. The siblings held their breath, locked in a silent argument with one another. ‘You answer it.’ ‘No, you.’ ‘I did it last time.’ ‘You did not.’ ‘Did too.’ ‘Did not.’

He answered it.

“Yes. Thank you. No thank you. No. They didn’t want us to. Yes. The crematorium. Thank you. Goodbye.”

The phone clunked as he put it down. Silence, for a moment.

“So,” she said, and dabbed at her eyes, which were not wet.

“Yes,” he replied. “We should organise the funeral.”

“We’ve already done that. They’ve already done that.”

The tree was scratching again at the window.

“What should we do then?” he said.

She pulled at her handkerchief.


“Let’s eat out.” She was up, quickly, striding towards the door that led to the next room. “They would want us to celebrate, finally. I’ll wear that red lipstick with that green dress; you can wear that tie Mum always loved.”

He raised his eyebrows at his sister; he’d owned the tie more than ten years ago.

“Oh. Well, not that one then.” She removed her hand from the door knob. “What then, Stuart?”

He stood up. “Sit down Stella. We need to absorb this.”

“You’re not sitting down.”

“No. I’m not.”

The tree scratched louder. The siblings blinked at each other from opposite sides of the room. She felt she should cry, but could not. She had been sure she would be able to. He could not believe his sister was not crying; she always did. She had cried when their parents had first told them what they were going to do. (“Weak eyes,” their father had said kindly. “Just like your mother.” Their mother glowered at him briefly, through eyes filled with tears.)

Stuart had wanted to be strong for Stella, to support her while she cried, but she appeared perfectly able to support herself for now, and he felt himself close to tears instead.

“I could wear a different tie.”

“Oh Stuart.” She took a step towards him.

“Don’t. I’m hungry. Let’s go to dinner.”

There’s more to this story, but I’m still working on it, and hope to have it published at some point, so I’m sort of keeping it to myself at the moment. I might share a little more of it later on. Any feedback on this part would be greatly appreciated though.

I’m posting this as my response to this month’s Monday Project theme. We’ll have the next one up soon, so play along if you’re interested.