Monday, May 25, 2015

Eternal Perspectives

Stop and think for a moment about all the things you think matter: what is important in your life. What things are mountains, and what things are molehills. What trivial little incidents have you turned into monumental catastrophes. What personal disasters have you created because you lack perspective.

Most of what we worry and fret about, most of what we get upset about, does not really matter. Temporary circumstances and inconsequential events which loom large in our rear view mirrors and hover with menace on our horizons.

We've all got problems: some worse than others, but we're all struggling now, or have struggled, or will struggle with something. People and situations. In our personal loves and in our working lives. Life is a bit of a battle. There's no escaping suffering.

How do we get through it all? I don't know about you, but what helps me is having an eternal perspective.

Romans 8:16 says "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us."

One day all suffering and sorrow will end, and that will be a very good day indeed.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Hugs and well wishes

Today was the final day of my practicum at a local Primary School. I made it! I did it! I finished.

It was a really difficult prac for many reasons. The hardest thing was behaviour management which in some classes, like the troublesome one to which I was assigned, takes the majority of the available time. 

On Tuesday, a student stabbed another student with a pencil in class while I was occupied trying to settle a dispute between another two students. It seems redundant to say that this was upsetting. The offending student was removed from class, and suspended. The victim was okay apart from a small puncture wound in his shoulder. My supervising teacher was off that day, and myself and the casual teacher on class were unable to control the children. Twenty eight eight and nine year olds totally got the better of us.

That incident concluded, but fresh in my mind together with thoughts about what might have been, (The stabbing could have have had much worse results,) I soldiered on for the rest of the week.

Today I finished up, and upon informing the class that I was leaving, I was immediately swamped with students who wanted to hug me. A few of them had drawn some pictures for me as well. One girl insisted that I had to come back and teach her next year in year 5, and then again the following year.

I am grateful today for the spontaneous affection shown me by children who had driven me half insane over the previous four weeks. I am thankful for the experience overall, and to the staff who supported and encouraged me.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What the movies say to me

I've watched a few movies over the last couple of days, and being the deep and meaningful kind of man, I am, I haven't simply viewed these films for their entertainment value. I'm always looking for something, because I don't believe directors or writers are neutral. Even the most superficial of movies, the 'all style and no substance' variety, is, in my opinion trying to say something to us about the human condition.

Mad Max was released in 1979, and is considered an Australian classic. The main theme of Mad Max was revenge. What I took away from it was that if you take away everything that a person has to live for, they no longer have anything to live for, and they stop being themselves. Think about it.

The Imitation Game was released this year, and is a terrific film based on the true story of an eccentric mathematician who worked on a top secret project for the British government during the second world war.What I took away from this film is that nothing is as it seems on the surface, and governments sometimes have to do things which are necessary, albeit extremely distasteful.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is another in a long line of special effects heavy, plot light superhero movies based on comic book characters. It is a really fun, entertaining movie with stunning visual effects and funny one liners. What I took away from it was that everybody wants to believe that there is someone or something better than them (stronger, faster, smarter) who can save them when they can't save themselves. We all need heroes to believe in, and we all need a saviour.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on movies, these or any others, and the idea they speak volumes about we who devour them.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Tonsils

I had to take the day off work today because I was feeling unwell, particularly my throat which had caused me a sleepless night. I'm doing a practicum with a Year 3/4 class at a local primary school as part of my Master' degree, and I figured my illness was best kept at home with me. Not to mention the fact that my voice-an important tool for a teacher-was not operating well.

The doctor gave me mini lecture about the evils of smoking before diagnosing tonsilitis, and prescribing rest, fluids and antibiotics. I really wish, as an aside, that we could write our own prescriptions. That would have saved me time money and rescued me from another well intention sermon on the perils of tobacco. Anyway...

Today I am grateful for the day off, although obviously not stoked about being ill. The practicum, now 15 days old with 5 to go, has been very taxing, especially emotionally. Maybe that's why I got sick.

The point is, I think, that rest is important, and I'm happy to have a extra day tacked on to my weekend for just that purpose.

By the way what is the purpose of those little things called tonsils?

This blog is a part of Celebrate the small things blog hop. Want to join in? Visit the website for the rules, and post  a little note of gratitude every Friday.

Friday, May 8, 2015

W.A.S. A Muddy Red River cover reveal

Here is the cover for my new novel, A Muddy Red River which is coming soon from Rogue Phoenix Press

The madness of the A to Z Blogging Challenge is over, and now I have returned to my normal writing activities-almost. I say almost because, I have not as yet resumed work on my WIP, Lovesick. I have, however, submitted a number of short stories, and one of them has been accepted for publication. Two rejections and one acceptance. Not bad. Acceptances now stand at 43. My goal is to hit 50 in 2015.

I also entered one of my favourite stories, Still It Bleeds in the Alfie Dog Fiction International Short Story Competition Incidentally, you can find a number of my short stories there at Alfie Dog short stories by D.A.Cairns at Alfie Dog Fiction

The new cover for Devolution is in its final stages and I hope to be able to reveal that to you soon, as well as details of its release.

And lastly, a daft scots lass gave me Bloggin Award for making her smile. Thanks very much for that. It's nice to be appreciated.

Exciting times!

Celebrate the small things: Rubbish dumps

I dropped my car off to a mechanic for what was supposed to be a routine inspection, but subsequently had to walk to the bus stop, ride home and wait for the dreaded afternoon call telling me how much it was going to cost me.

On the way to the bus stop, I met a young lady from Care. With some time to spare, I decided to hear her pitch. Care does impressive work for poor people around the world. I related to her how I was first confronted by extreme poverty. In the early 1990s I was in the Philippines with YWAM. We were taken to the Manilla city dump and shown a village of shanties inhabited by people who lived and worked on the rubbish tip. It smelled bad and it looked awful and it made me cry. I had never seen such desperate poverty, nor will I ever forget it.

So today, I am extremely grateful for the blessing of being born in Australia: a wealthy nation, and into a family who raised me with no lack of material needs or love and care. I am going to celebrate the fact that I am rich in every way that counts, and compared to most people in the world, I am also materially blessed. This is something I do not take for granted. 

A simple thing like being able to go to the tap in my kitchen and get a drink of fresh water is worth celebrating, is it not?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge Refractions

I tried throughout the challenge to come up with interesting and unique titles for my posts, so it seemed appropriate to do likewise with the post commonly known as reflections.

This was my third year doing the challenge and I participate for three reasons.

  1. To increase traffic to my website. I am an author with a low profile (almost anonymous) and therefore see the challenge as a way to introduce myself, and my work to more people.
  2. To network with other bloggers, especially writers. Each year I gain new blog buddies and I like that.
  3. To challenge myself as a writer.

I have achieved these three goals on every occasion, so for me the challenge is very worthwhile and enjoyable. However, I must confess to having an avaricious heart and I hunger for much more success. A look at the statistics is underwhelming. Especially in terms of interaction. Consider this:

Although the average number of page views per day in April was 157, which is a lot more than Square Pegs usually gets, the average number of comments per day was only 2. Also, very disappointingly, the number of additional followers of Square Pegs was zero.

I received 64 comments from 33 commentors, and of them I want to especially thank, and promote the following people.

Cold As Heaven 12 comments Cold As Heaven
Sharon Marie Himsl 8 comments Shells, Tales and Sails
Tamara Narayan 5 comments Tamara Narayan, author
Jeffrey Beesler 4 comments Jeffrey Beesler's World of the Scribe
Jeremy Hawkins 4 Hollywood Nuts

If you missed any of the action, it's not too late to check out Square Pegs, where the most viewed posts during the challenge were
Private Health Insurance Problems and Quintessentially Quirky

The most commented upon posts were:
Hooray for Harry 7
The Irrationality of Independence 6
Flies On Me 6

Wondering about the theory I tested with my Grapes and Tea posts?

The most popular blogs seem to be those about food or animals. Add a recipe or a cute animal picture, and voila! I wrote two posts about food, and they were pretty dull, I thought. I deliberately put very little effort into them, especially the one about grapes. I did this to test my theory and see if just having grapes in the title would attract more visits than something like the Irrationality of Independence. The results of the experiment did not support my theory, as neither of my two food posts attracted unusual traffic. However Cats are Cute did receive the second most page visits (121)

For the administrators of A-Z, may I suggest that there be a minimum word count and a maximum. I skipped a number of blogs I visited because the posts were too long, and I also did not bother to comment or revisit blogs who were only using pictures or videos instead of writing. Maybe separate categories. I also don't think people who miss posts, should be able do catch ups, and there were a number of bloggers who pulled out, but still had active links on the list. 

Sorry to sound like a nazi. I love the A to Z Challenge, and I just think some tweaking might improve it further. I look forward to joining with you all once more in 2016. Now it's back to normal transmissions.