We all have a story – stop avoiding and start listening

Home by Trudi Sutcliffe

 

I live in a small city, Porirua, New Zealand, with a population of around 50,000, a baby city really. Geographically our city is split by our two harbours, our many hills and demographically. Like many larger cities we have our poor and our wealthy, its white and its brown faces.

We are shadowed by our larger and hipper neighbouring city, Wellington, which is also the capital of New Zealand known for its strong café and bar scene and where many of our locals commute to daily.

But when I’m driving home and I see Mount Cooper/Whitireia’s half-moon shape I know I’m nearly there…home.

“We turn the corner on the motorway and there it is. Whitiriea. The heart calms. The breath deepens. HOME.”

But often when I’m at a local event or even just shopping I’m struck by the diversity in our city and how we mostly all get along, but how we often know so little about each other, and how this lack of knowledge can sometimes lend us to sit uncomfortably side-by-side. But it also makes me wonder about each of these communities and sub-communities, our diverse cultural, ethnic, economic, sporting and art cultures, and from our youth to our elderly. What are their stories? What are their aspirations?

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Why do I write?

writingWhy I write? This is a good question and I’m not even sure I can answer it.

I’ve always had this burn to write. I wrote and directed plays forcing my younger sister and neighbour to perform in front of our parents as a young child and I scribbled poems into my Dad’s old work diary.

Now as an adult I’ve written on and off in a journal for years. I write poetry to share out loud with  a group  of friends as a poetry performance group. Plus I’m in the middle of writing my second draft of a young adult novel.

So why do I write these words and live parts of my day in somebody else’s head? Apart from my performance poetry and now this blog, plus twitter, nobody sees the words that I’m seeing in my head and on the page. So why am I doing it?

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Being a ‘good’ girl – Saying ‘yes’ when you should say ‘no’

staycalmandsaynoYou better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.
Dear God, I am fourteen years old. I have always been a good girl.

These two sentences are the first two sentences from Alice Walker’s novel, ‘The Color People. A diary form novel set in the harsh segregated world of the Deep South around the 1930s. The protagonist, Celie, is raped by the man she calls father.

I could write this blog piece about the ongoing abuse against others, particularly on girls and children. I could write about rape culture and the way to change the thinking of both sexes, i.e. telling women to dress less provocatively and not flirt, which contributes to the blaming of victims, rather than the perpetrators. Instead I’m picking up on something more subtle but widespread and something I’ve been guilty of, the inability to say ‘no’ and doing something that makes me uncomfortable or unhappy. Society has encouraged many of us to be ‘good’ and to tend to others’ needs before our own. Many of us have done something we didn’t want to do, maybe because we wanted to feel liked or loved, a belonging, or to gain someone’s approval.  Alongside this behaviour is the need to say ‘sorry’ every two seconds, even when it’s not your fault, and often the perpetrators…

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The Storyteller

Tree buddha

Tree buddha (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” ― Ernest Hemingway

Feeling the need to be inspired I pick up Julia Cameron’s ‘The Right to Write‘.

One of the exercises to help you lighten up and not take writing so seriously is:

Pretend you are sitting under a large tree with your back resting on its trunk. On the other side of the tree, a Storyteller sits also resting against the tree trunk. Take a sheet of paper and number from one to five. Tell the Storyteller five things you’d like to hear stories about. 

So I pick up a pen and start to write:  Continue reading

Get out of my head! Over-thinking and how to stop

Anxiety

Anxiety (Photo credit: Rima Xaros)

“We are dying from over-thinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It’s a death trap.” 
― Anthony Hopkins

My partner is late home. He’s been clocking up hours on the freeway. My mind is racing. I’m imagining how I will react when the cops come to the door, I’m planning what next, imaging how the kids will survive without their father, and how I will survive without him. And then I hear the backdoor open. He’s home. I’m staring at a blank screen, and managed to waste ten minutes in a nightmarish fantasy world. Am I insane?

 

Or I’ve been out to dinner with friends and I’m having a good time. And then someone close says to me, ‘you’re talking rather loud, everyone is looking’. I turn around. No-one is looking. But I hang onto this comment over the next few days like my life depends on it. I relive the every word I said. Did I offend people? Was I talking too loud? Will I ever been invited out again? Questions and random thoughts about the dinner party loom in my head for days. I even imagine alternate conversations. Am I normal or neurotic?

 

Procrastination is a dirty word. We all do it. Whether it’s ignoring the washing pile on the corner of the couch or staring at the blank screen or notebook. Every idea is edited, thought out and biffed into the junk pile in the mind, before it has a chance to be written down.

 

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