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Archive for November, 2011

“Storytelling is how we survive, when there’s no feed, the story feeds something, it feeds the spirit, the imagination. I can’t imagine life without stories, stories from my parents, my culture. Stories from other people’s parents, their culture. That’s how we learn from each other, it’s the best way. That’s why literature is so important, it connects us heart to heart.”

Alice Walker

Alice Walker, author of  “The Colour Purple”, represents for me more than the literature of the oppressed and the marginalised, more than literature of  social justice, more than literature of a gifted writer. Yes, she has the power to reach across boundaries and to connect with people regardless of nationality, gender, class, ethnicity. Yes, she has the ability to change lives and can influence the way we think about racism.  Yes, she uses literary devices to breathe life into characters and situations.

She has the gifted writer’s ability to draw us into relationships with her characters. She gives us the opportunity reflect on the ethics and values of our community, to empathise with characters from different backgrounds and experiences, to walk a mile in another’s shoes.

Her storytelling has the power to connect many hearts because her storytelling is literature.

Nonetheless, everybody has stories. Everybody needs stories.  “(stories are) … how we learn from each other, it’s the best way.”  Stories tell us who we are, tell much about the community that shaped us.

My son set up this blog for me to encourage me to write. I’m not sure what he thought I would write about. At first I didn’t know what to write about. When I realised that this was an opportunity to tell stories to my grown up children I realised I had an audience, at least one I could address in my head. They can choose to read or not read what I write, but I can share stories with them that otherwise might not be told. I have told stories about my mother and her mother. I have told stories about my travels, stories about our family, what it is like to live with a spinal cord injury, my hopes and dreams, opinions on social or political issues, my interests and thoughts in general. My daughter always clicks “like” when she has read a post “Because”, she told me, ” I want you to know I’ve read it.” That’s when I knew that it’s not only literature that “… connects us heart to heart” but all storytelling, whether it is sharing experiences or thoughts and ideas. When I see that she has read a post I feel a connection.

The storyteller, like the artist or poet makes herself vulnerable  because she reveals something of herself and the background that has moulded her. Opinions can reveal prejudices and introduce conflict. But that is how we learn about each other. Reflections can stir the imagination, expand and inspire ideas. Memories can provoke interest in finding out more about who we are and the forces that given us “identity”.

Using technology anyone can create a social role as a storyteller. We can connect with people on a global scale. I am excited to read something written by a woman who has lived most of her life in Africa and the Middle East. To connect with someone from such a different cultural background and to learn something of her life and yet find we share many concerns and priorities is eye opening.  It is awesome that someone may read my words and connect in some way, and that conversely I will read someone else’s story.

By the way, Alice Walker has a blog. I recommend reading it!

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My children are adults and either married or engaged to be married. As they approach a time when they will have their own families I often think of them with profound gratitude.  I find joy in all my memories of them as babies,  as children, as teenagers and as adults. Most of all though, I am grateful that I find joy in them today and every day.

I hear women talking about how they found it difficult to “deal” with their teenage children, or how little they hear from or see their adult children. My own mother used to say how much she enjoyed us as babies, and how this was the happiest time of her life. I don’t think she realised how hurtful this was (at least to me) to know that she found it difficult to connect with us as people.  Yet she often spoke of wishing she had a better relationship with us as adults.

A wise woman once advised me long ago to find enjoyment and to love unconditionally every stage of my children’s lives. She said that it is too easy to linger in the excitement of watching a toddler learning to walk, the relief of a child learning to read and write, the pride of a child competing in sport, achieving at school, rather than to live every moment with a child in the here and now. Not to look back wistfully, or to look forward unnecessarily, but to enjoy the moment and to explore whoever your child is. She stressed the importance of having a relationship with your child no matter, because when a child becomes an adult, that adult chooses what sort relationship develops with his or her parent.

I have had times when I have failed my children, but also times when I have given my all to them, and times when they have supported me. Whatever has been happening I have seen my children as individuals and continue to love them as individuals. I know I am fortunate. I am fortunate because of who my children have become, and I am fortunate because a wise woman advised me to enjoy every moment of their lives.

What I wish for my children is that they find the same joy and love in their children that I have found in mine.

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I am thoroughly enjoying reading Jodie Picoult’s “Handle With Care”. I haven’t finished reading it yet so this is not a book review … And I shouldn’t say this, but after having read three quarters of it, I think it might be her best yet.  Picoult chooses some meaty subjects to write about but sometimes there seems to be something lacking, perhaps in character development, or something contrived. This time she’s seems to have nailed the complexity of  the issue, and the characters are real.

What’s bothering me is the metaphor Picoult uses to suggest that we grow in adversity.  One of her central characters is a baker and baking metaphors are used to introduce each new section of the story.  To paraphrase, a baker punches down the dough between proofing.  ” … in baking, and in life – the cost of growth is always a small act of violence.”

I prefer to compare growing in adversity with the forging of steel. It requires great heat. The imagery of fire and a forge implies sweat, hard work and hammering, but also suggests passion, determination and perseverance.

Punching dough suggests bruising and caving in. Bread suggests something light and airy.

Perhaps we are meant to think that this character is on the brink of giving in, but has the inner strength to carry on, that the cost of being able to persevere is a feeling of being battered and bruised and broken.

Growth should come with a feeling of triumph and victory.  Punching dough implies defeat, giving in, being moulded by someone else. We grow in adversity; the cost may be pain, hurt, struggle, humiliation, but we forge our victories, we transform ourselves under stress. Growing in adversity is the forging of steel.

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It’s been announced that 400 million dollars from the sale of state assets will be used for farm irrigation. What are the chances that farmers accessing this money will first have to demonstrate that farm run off doesn’t end up in the nearest rivers and waterways? That waterways are effectively protected by effluent tanks, tree planting to help sieve excess minerals, and so on …

Otherwise it’s a lolly scramble, but the lollies are toxic …

Our waterways are already polluted by farm runoff, subsidies for farm irrigation may only worsen the problem.

As an aside, government forecasts include doubling dairy production, yet there are no suggestions where the land is going to come from, or how the land and water is going to be protected from the doubling of production. As economist Rod Oram pointed out, it doesn’t add up.

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Is anyone else puzzled by poll results that show most New Zealanders don’t want the sale of state assets, yet most New Zealanders will vote for a National government?

It doesn’t add up. JOIN THE DOTS NEW ZEALANDERS. If we don’t want state assets sold, then don’t vote for the party that wants to sell state assets.

If New Zealanders are thinking we can have it both ways, that retaining a majority share of fifty one per cent in state assets means that we’re not really selling the assets, then think again. Minority share holders have rights, particularly those holding over twenty five percent. Their ownership cannot be prejudiced by the decisions of the majority share holders. RETAINING A FIFTY ONE PERCENT SHARE IN THE ASSET MEANS WE HAVE SOLD THE ASSET.

And another thing. Ninety per cent of New Zealanders don’t want our farms sold to foreigners. Yet the party most likely to allow the sale of New Zealand farmland is the National party. Where is the logic?

Once I was a green National. But I believe the state should retain full ownership of it’s assets, and productive land should stay in New Zealand ownership. The argument for majority ownership of fifty one per cent by New Zealanders is even more flimsy when it comes to land ownership. It’s too easy for greedy New Zealanders to have a two or three percent ownership then sell their vote to the

minority share holder. Now I’m plain green.

But what really bothers me is not the colour of people’s politics, it’s the lack of logic, the inconsistency, the stupidity of saying “I don’t want our state assets to be sold” then in the next breath effectively saying “I’ll vote for the party that will sell our state assets”

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