Monday, 17 January 2022

Untangle

Tangled


Venice

A labyrinth

Streets like intertwined rivers

Weaving their way 

In a tangled maze

Lost

Endless discoveries

It all looks different from a different angle

Tangle of languages

Accents 

Cultures

Sea of endless possibility 


My emotions

Expectations

Mood

Have been like these canals

Streets

Tangled 

Twisted 

Weaving their way out to sea

To find

Freedom

Space

Breathe again

Relax

Calm waters


Untangle


No more greed

Or need


Contentment 

Satisfaction


God

Love

All the world

Is my home

With God

I am never alone


Untangled


Farrah B. Mandala 2013

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Hidden Treasure

Hidden Treasure

It has been a long journey to get here. A long journey to find this hidden treasure. 

I have had a love affair with writing, for as long as I can remember. The first poem I ever wrote was on an ordinary day, out the farm while Mum and Dad milked the cows, scribbled on a spew bag that I then hid under the seat of the car. It was after my great-grandmother, Nanna Brown died. Today is her birthday, she’d be 109. I think I was around 8 or 9 when I wrote this first poem. My Mum found it, this hidden treasure, she flattened it out and helped fix all the spelling mistakes and it was printed on the booklet at the funeral. My writing came from that place of sadness, from grappling with death and guilt.  Mad Woman Rocking was written from that same place. Throughout my life, I have always journaled and written poetry that I’d store in boxes. Hidden away. Hidden treasure. Hidden away, just for me, no one else needing to see it. 

When I was 13, I broke my leg. This was also the time when I found the first book, I ever loved, The Outsiders read to us in class by Mr Crees. He taught me two important lessons about writing. One was that Shakespeare couldn’t spell, so it’s not that important and the other was that words are a writer’s tools, to be a good writer, you need to know as many words as you can. This was the time that I began to read, to read a lot and I began to learn as many words as I could. I filled books with words I studied. Seeking hidden treasure in everything I read or heard. 

I had to endure a lot at a young age. It has been both a blessing and a curse. Throughout the times of trauma in my life I would always write. Boxes of paper, stored away, for maybe one day. There was tragedy I had to endure with the death of my best friend Stacey, then my boyfriend Kalon and my housemate Couttie. I was changed forever. On this journey, there was addiction, mental illness, hospitalisation, medication, therapy, university and teaching. There was travel, marriage, cars and a house. I found God and a school. A tough journey, seeking hidden treasure. 

The writing of this book felt at times like something out of my control. The universe conspired and I had no choice but to go to that place, that place deep inside, where the hidden treasure resides and simply write.  

In 2016, I gave birth to my son, Beau. Like death, birth changes you forever. I had never faced a greater challenge. I had never experienced a love or fear of such intensity before. I suffered post-natal depression. I remember an ordinary day, in the study of my house in Melbourne, I was in a dressing gown, sleep deprived, crying and at breaking point. Looking at my son, the most beautiful, precious thing, I’d ever seen; whilst simultaneously questioning my life. I took a box of writing from out of the cupboard and I searched. Reading poetry, letters and journals. I searched for the hidden treasure. I was thinking. How did I get here? I have everything I have ever wanted, a house, career, marriage and a perfect son. Why am I so unhappy? Where do I go from here? I continued on this journey. Seeking answers. Seeking hidden treasure. 

I battled crippling depression and anxiety for the first twelve months of Beau’s life. During this time, I was sober and I began reading. Reading a lot and I returned to studying words. Collecting, writing, seeking. One ordinary day, under the shade of the silver birch tree in our back yard in Melbourne, while Beau played in the sand pit, a clumsy, active toddler. I read my friend Gina’s copy of Big Magic. I felt my life changing. This burning desire. To create. To write. I started to think, maybe this will be where the treasure is hidden. 

In 2017, when Beau was one year old, my grandmother, Ger died. This shattered our lives in many different ways. For two years we embarked on a quest to buy the farm. The farm that had been in our family for now, 7 generations. My dad, had inherited one eighth and he needed to buy the rest from his siblings. At this time, I was listening to podcasts and I heard about The Alchemist. While visiting Gina, I saw it on her book shelf, sitting there waiting for me. I borrowed it and read it. A story about a boy, on a journey seeking hidden treasure. More answers were revealing themselves. I bought a copy and sent it to my dad, which he read. We started to believe in the power of dreams and a destiny. 

One ordinary day, I was walking through an Op Shop in Cranbourne. Sitting on a shelf, as though placed there just for me, was a book. I read the title from a distance, it said Towong Hill. As I got closer, I realised it was the place I knew by our acclaimed local author, Elyne Mitchell. I bought it for two dollars and went on my way. I loved this book. It was about a place that I knew and loved. The same mountains I admired. The same valleys I grew up in. It was about a strong woman I admired, reflecting on her life and her journey. As I read it, I constantly thought about Ger and the farm. The grandmother I had lost. The farm I wasn’t sure we could keep. This all coalesced. The universe conspired. Birth, death, sadness, inspiration and fear. I wrote a short story. I shared it with Gina and she asked to know more. Then I wrote another chapter. Then another season. Then I wrote the manuscript. I found this love affair with words, with writing again. Sitting up late into the night, up early in the morning, while Beau and my husband were sleeping. A secret love affair. Something just for me. A hidden treasure. 

As I was writing, I was discovering a desire for a new life. A new path. A new journey. I dreamt of a home on the mountain. A cabin, solar power and a big water tank. In 2018, when Beau was two years old, I left my marriage, my house and my job and we moved home. While in my old bedroom, painted with words, poetry and art, looking at pictures from my youth, I edited and proof read and drafted this manuscript. I kept it hidden away. My own hidden treasure. 

Then I decided to share the story with a few friends and family. My two soul sisters, Gina and Em, read early drafts, giving me courage to continue. Helping me dare to dream that my story was worth developing and sharing. Then my sister, Emily read it, loved it and pointed out, like only a sister probably can, gaps that I needed to fill. I did another edit, another draft. I sent it off into the universe. As you’d expect, I received many rejections. I was seeking that hidden treasure, many times I thought I would never find it. 

Then one ordinary day, as I was on the mountain, on the farm that my dad now owns, admiring my solar powered cabin, sitting next to my big water tank, enjoying the sunshine, content, I opened up my emails. There it was, the hidden treasure, I had been searching for, on this long journey. An email from Natasha Gilmore, at the kind press. It was an offer to publish my book. 

Now I am embarking on a new journey. A journey to take this hidden treasure and share it with the world. My love affair, no longer secret.  

The further I trek on this publishing journey the more I realize the value of the treasure I already had. The feel of wet grass on my feet, the beauty of a sunset and the warm embrace from my sweet boy with sparkling eyes and golden curls. I am filled with an abundance of gratitude. 

Mad Woman Rocking now has wings. I feel both fear and inspiration. Fear that people won’t like it. But also, a secret hope. A desire for my words to make you feel. Make you imagine, laugh even cry. I dare to dream that my book, my story, can be loved like the books and stories that I have loved. That my words could give hope, and maybe even inspire you to dare to dream. To write your own story, buy a farm, climb a mountain, fulfil your heart’s desire. 

I wish for us all, to find our hidden treasure.  




 

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Dream Big


 

Growing up in Corryong, I had big dreams. When I was in Grade 5, at Corryong Consolidated, in Mrs Hughes’ class, I dreamt of one day, being a teacher. Before this, I wanted to be a milk truck driver. I think growing up on a farm, I might have assumed there were only two options, that or a farmer. In recent times, I have discovered how much milk truck drivers make and have considered a career change. Luckily, I fulfilled this dream, after many years at university, and became a teacher, not a milk truck driver. I started teaching at St. Joseph’s College in Melbourne in 2010. 

At the start of 2018, a new desire, a new dream began to grow. Walking through an op shop in Cranbourne, I came across a book sitting on the shelf called Towong Hill. To my amazement and delight it was the same Towong Hill I knew and written by local acclaimed author, Elyne Mitchell. After reading Towong Hill, a story about a place I grew up, a place I loved and called home. I felt inspired to write. I started by writing a 2,500-word short story and entered it in the annual Elyne Mitchell Writing Competition. This didn’t win any awards but it began a journey. This short story I then developed into an 85,000-word manuscript. 

In September of 2018, I returned home to Corryong after 15 years in Melbourne. I dreamt of a life on the farm in my own home. I dreamt of the childhood adventures I enjoyed, for my son, Beau. I was lucky enough to be offered a position at Corryong College in 2019 as an Art and Library teacher at my old primary school. The primary school where my love of learning first grew. The place where I felt inspired to dream big. 

I have recently taught Literacy and English across Years 5 – 10 at my old high school, now one amazing big campus with new buildings and gardens. During this time, I have drafted and developed my manuscript. I dared to dream. A new big dream. A dream to be a published author. 

While reading The Outsiders and To Kill A Mockingbird to my students, in the same classrooms I was in whilst hearing those stories read, I was reminded of the profound impact my education had on me as a student at Corryong College. I was reminded of how the teachers could overlook the errors in my work and see the potential in my writing. Their praise. Their guidance. Their encouragement, led me to develop a love for writing. A love for literature. A love for words. A love that has served me throughout my life. 

Now my big dream is becoming a reality. My story, Mad Woman Rocking is being published on the 2.12.2021 by the kind press and will be available for purchase in all good bookstores, all major online retailers and at Booktopia. 

This has reminded me of the power of dreams. As I look at the students walking the corridors of Corryong College, the same corridors I walked, I hope for them they discover the power of dreams. I hope they are never afraid to dream big. 




BOOK PRE-ORDER AND PURCHASE LINKS

BOOKTOPIA link here

BOOK DEPOSITORY link here

AMAZON AUSTRALIA: link here

AMAZON UNITED STATES: link here

AMAZON UNITED KINGDOM: link here


Saturday, 16 October 2021

Snow Covered Mountains


 

‘To all of it I have given my effort and my love. In imagination I can feel the feather

touch of snowflakes on my face, feel the freezing water of the lagoon enfolding me,

on a hot summer day, and I would celebrate it all.’

- Elyne Mitchell

 

            Today is a perfect spring day. Blue skies and not a breath of wind. Calm. The sun shining brightly with warmth in the air. There is still so much snow on the mountains and it is the middle of October. I have walked up the hill to marvel at it. 

            This year the cold has lasted longer with so much rain. The valley is lush. The dams are full. The grass is thick. Growing up, I always wished the winter cold away. Pining for the heat of summer. Swimming in the creek. Backyard cricket. Summer holidays.

Since the devastation of the bush fires, the harsh reality of hot, dry weather, has made me appreciate the other seasons. To value and understand their purpose. We need the winter. The cold, the snow, the wind and rain. Frost filled valleys are necessary. Fog has its place in nature’s cycle. This is what most concerns me about the climate crisis we face. I am concerned the Australian government is not doing enough to protect our future and our precious seasons. 

Sometimes the enormity of the problem seems overwhelming. Then I’m reminded there are answers. I see my roof covered in solar power. The compost. My water tanks. My imperfect attempt to minimise my personal impact. In my frustration, I remind myself that I can only control my choices. We also have power in our choices, our voice and our vote. Hopefully there’s more people like me, with the same concern. Hopefully there is a call for change on a global scale and that call is answered in time. We have a window of opportunity. I hope we take it.

I hope we take it, so one day when my son is old and grey, he can stand on this same mountain. He can stand here too and look out in the middle of October and marvel at the beauty of snow-covered mountains. 




Saturday, 9 October 2021

Treasure

Beau

You are a delight 

Who likes to give me a fright

You are brave and strong

Always dance to your own song

Old and wise

Always keep that sparkle in your eyes

Funny and cheeky

Cherish the moment, as it is fleeting

Such an intelligent mind

You are thoughtful and kind

Endless energy

Loved by a big family 

One of a kind

Dream big my boy

There will be treasure to find

Saturday, 2 October 2021

The Door Wasn’t Even Locked



My nearly five-year-old son, Beau, broke his leg recently. He has been in a full cast of plaster, for five weeks now. As the weeks have dragged on and boredom has well and truly set in, he has become increasingly more resistant to the limitations of his plaster. Beau’s desire to move and play has been stronger than his understanding of the plaster’s intention to keep him still, to help him heal. So, I’ve watched him bum shuffle. Drag his plaster around the floor. Crawl on all fours. Now hobbling at times. Despite my constant pleas to not move. Despite the constant chorus of me saying, ‘Beau, don’t put pressure on that plaster. Slow down.’ He finds a way. No injury. No plaster, will stop him from living his best life.

As I watched him last night, crawling on all fours and kicking his Melbourne Demon’s football using his plaster, I started to think. How many times in our lives do we let a perceived plaster, injury or limitation allow us to remain caged, immobile and stultified? What if we allowed desire to be stronger than our barriers?

Glennon Doyle described it so well in Untamed, when she explained,


‘What was wrong with me? Why did I stay and suffer? The door wasn’t even locked.’

I keep thinking, after the plaster is off, we will do this and be able to do that. Beau just does what he can, now. He finds a way. I told him he couldn’t move with the plaster, without me carrying him or the wheelchair. He didn’t listen to me, but instead listened to his own deep desire within, to move, to kick his footy and found a way.

I feel inspired by Beau’s determination, but equally disappointed that our wild natures get tamed. As we grow, we see what we can’t do, what is restricting us, rather than the opportunities. Our fear becomes stronger than our desire. Our fear becomes stronger than our love. Love for simple things, like kicking a footy.
So, I’m letting Beau teach me. I’m learning the wisdom of my wild child. When I feel like I can’t, I’ll think of a blonde-haired boy, kicking his Melbourne Demon’s football in a full cast of plaster. I’ll be reminded. We can all find the determination to live our dream lives with such wild desire.

I’ll be reminded. When I said the door was closed. Beau tested the handle and realised it wasn’t even locked.


Saturday, 11 September 2021

Salvation


 

Sun rising

Golden hue illuminating the horizon 

Looking beyond 

Birds perched on a light pole, watching the traffic, 

Cars scurrying like frantic ants, collecting food

Beyond the power lines, 

Traffic lights

A bird flies in front of a peach-soaked sky 

Driving 

Looking beyond

Road building, excavation, flashing lights 

Mesmerizing sunrise, speckled colour ever evolving

 Painting a masterpiece

 Beyond the silhouetted tree, resting on the hill

Looking beyond

The city lights sparkling in an endless sea 

Signs of salvation 

 

The loud children pushing, 

Playing

 Feel the warmth of sunshine 

The train rattling past

The ever-present strong mountain, standing tall 

Looking beyond 

Feeling salvation 

 

Haze over distant mountains 

Driving

Cusp of night and day 

Street lights, pedestrians crossing 

Setting sun 

Painted in pastels, whisper across the sky, like freshly scooped ice cream 

Vibrant effervescent moon 

Sweet smell of daphne, flooding the front door

Dancing wildly in the wilderness of potential and brilliance 

Bright young eyes, lovingly looking 

Warm arms greeting 

Looking beyond 

Seeing graceful signs of salvation

 

Untangle

Tangled Venice A labyrinth Streets like intertwined rivers Weaving their way  In a tangled maze Lost Endless discoveries It all looks differ...