Category Archives: travel writing

Asylum Seekers and Refugees Recipe Book

Asylum seekers and refugees have a wealth of culture and many recipes to share.

Picture

They also need all the help they can get and many ethical people are finding ways and means to promote their cause. Ilura Press have published Every Bite Takes You Home and Lisa Hill’s wordpress post at ANZlitlovers is a review of the book Breaking the Boundaries, Australian activists tell their stories,

Breaking the Boundaries

Edited by Yvonne Allen and Joy Noble the book, Lisa’s blog, and Every Bite Takes You Home are an interesting exploration of the refugee crisis and all cast a positive light on the asylum seekers/refugees debate.

Last  Wednesday I went with Mairi Neil to the Kathleen Syme Library in Carlton, Victoria, Australia to help Ilura Press celebrate their publication of their fabulous story/recipe book. I was delighted to see that all profits go directly to assist asylum seekers and refugees via the organisations, Stand Up, ONDRU, and Foundation House .

Every Bite Takes You Home invites us to share in the journeys of sixteen remarkable asylum seekers who have found a home in Australia. Each person’s unique story, blended with the memories of their favourite recipes and traditions, reminds us that food can unite us all, generating acceptance and understanding across diverse cultures and societies.

David Manne – Executive Director RILC said, “These are intimate accounts of remarkable resilience, courage, and survival—giving a powerful voice to those who have so often been rendered voiceless in our community.”
Sabina Hofman and Christopher Lappis of Ilura Press are the most ethical people I have ever known. What an amazing experience it was to have them publish my novel, Pickle to Pie. They produced a high quality book I was proud to hold in my hand. They have carried on their tradition of quality and attention to detail in Every Bite Takes You Home . Any home owner would be proud to have it grace their coffee table. 

Picture

The authors of this beautiful book are Gaye Weeden & Hayley Smorgon with photography by Peter Tarasiuk & Mark Roper

“All the elements combine: the stories, the portraits, the photos of food, the recipes, the layout and design, to produce a book of heart and soul.”
Arnold Zable – Author; President of International PEN Melbourne.

 

All author and publisher profit from the sales of the book will be donated to STAND UP, ONDRU, and FOUNDATION HOUSE to directly assist asylum seekers and refugees.
 

After tasting some of the recipes last Wednesday I can’t wait to try some on my family. Australia has gained so much from the influx of people from different countries and the result has been the inclusion into our menus of many culinary delights from many nations, ie  Italian, Greek, Egyptian, Asian to name a few. In my youth it was meat and three vegetables at most meals and spaghetti came in a tin. Now fresh pasta, ravioli, rissotto and spaghetti bolognaise, along with many exotic Asian dishes are regular favorites at the family dinner table.    Let’s celebrate our Australian cultural diversity and welcome asylum seekers and refugees with open arms.

PURCHASE A$62 (HARDCOVER)

Advertisements

The Trip of a Lifetime

We have just returned from the trip of a lifetime in the USA. Our son, Paul  and daughter-in-law, Marian arranged everything. All we had to do was front up and enjoy the experiences laid out before us…Driving from Yellowstone National Park, via the Grand Tetons snow capped mountains to the elk antler arches in the town of Jackson, followed by Lake Tahoe and Yosemite all the way down to Santa Monica Pier.

1 book cover jackson view grand teton 22-may  23 Lake Tahoe 2 27-may 35 pier

 

 

 

 

 

We experienced the fun of a Los Angeles baseball game, whale watching, and kayaking.

baseball field  1 glen 7 Al whales 26 kayak monteray bay

Walked in Yellowstone National Park  and marveled at geysers, fumaroles, hot springs & mud pools.

1 yellowstone mist  13 paintpots 19-may  11 book saphire pool 20-may

Observed baby bears, bison, wolves, otters &  elk.

5 book cubs P   2 book bison & calf 19-may   27 sea otter

14 book elk 17-may

 

We lived life to the full with snatches of these experiences captured in photos or scrawled into an exercise book always in my back pack.

 

 

Sometimes we need to leave our computers, blogs and everyday routine behind and live in the moment. And that’s my excuse for being absent from my blog. However, with help from Paul and Marian, via my ipad and emails I was still able to remain connected to others. Now I’m home I’ve had time to think  about why it meant so much to me,

It helped me to remain connected to friends and to my writing community.

Every writer at some stage needs inspiration, enlightenment and to feel connected to others writersNow I’m back home, when I feel down in the dumps about my writing, burnt out and depleted, or my manuscript has been rejected yet again I always turn to my wordpress writing family for inspiration. It never fails.

To read the blogs of others revealing how they have struggled makes me feel I am not alone. Their solutions to their writing problems give me a good shake and sits me back in front of the computer again. If they can do it, I can. They inspire me. By the time I leave the computer I’m back in the saddle again. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Reinvigorated, I tap away and before long have at least two pages. Crisis over.

Recently I had such a glitch and decided to make a list of some of the things I have enjoyed reading.

Up the Creek with a Pen by Mairi Neil

ANZlitlovers Litblog by Lisa Hill

Planning to the ‘Nth’ by Coral Waight

All posts at Charles French Words Reading and Writing by frenchc55

Also
Why read other authors?
You know your a writer when…
Finding time to write
Why we write
What an editor will do to your manuscript
What to consider before giving your manuscript to an editor

And so many quotes from people living now and long gone. Quotes that inspire, persuade, demand and state the obvious.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the wordpress community, especially the bloggers I like and follow. You all help maintain and sustain the urge to write. Your thoughts, dreams and struggles can often motivate me to even post a comment.

Friends, Springtime and the Bellarine Peninsula

Bollards, sparkling water, bobbing boats and happy children at Geelong, on the Bellarine Peninsula.

view  Portphillip.gif

I loved the quirky bollards lining the Western Beach shoreline and noticed all the  joggers, dog lovers and  mums with young children smiled as they passed each one. So did I.

bollard 5  bollard 2

The aim of this trip from the Mornington Peninsula, around Port Phillip Bay to the city off Geelong was to visit an old friend. Janet and I have known each other for over fifty years.

Life’s more fun when you share it with friends 

friends

The last time I saw Janet was in her home in the Australian outback town of Coober Pedy.

Coober Pedy01.JPG

Then the talk focused on underground dugouts, opal and heat. She now lives on her own close to Melbourne but on the opposite side of Port Phillip Bay. It has been years since we saw each other, mainly because the road distance around the bay from Carrum on the Mornington Peninsula, through heavy traffic over the Westgate Bridge to Geelong on the Bellarine Peninsula on the other side. It makes any sane driver think twice before attempting the journey.

Janet does not drive far these days so I managed to catch up with her in her home in Geelong. This time the talk was about art and craft, making greeting cards and stringing together light reflecting mobiles. She sells the beautifully handcrafted cards where ever she can. They are absolutely gorgeous. I particularly like the cards with pink, blue and yellow daisies and the ones with chips of Coober Pedy opal. Opal comes in so many colours and Janet knows where to by the opal chips in bulk. They add just the right splash of colour.

Opal Doublet        Opal Bracelets         Coober pedy opal

One day I hope to be able to attend one of her card making classes.

card 1                        flowers

card 2

On arrival I was greeted at the door by two little dogs, Tiny And Joel. Janet appeared and it was if the years between had never existed. We were once again seventeen years old and doing our apprenticeship together. Memories flooded our talk. We laughed about being so young and so impressionable. Our fondest memory was when we went to the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne and were unexpectedly seated in one of the exclusive ‘boxes’ that jutted out from the side wall inside the theater. Our joy was complete when Tommy Steele looked up and saw us excitedly grinning and madly applauding in our box seat. We felt he sang The Little White Bull just to us.

Having eye contact with a celebrity was a memory that has lasted a lifetime. He never knew what an impact he had on two impressionable teenagers and it has given me empathy over the years for all the young girls who scream when a celebrity/rock star appears. I know how they feel.

After our visit we decided to skip the long journey home and pay to drive the car onto the ferry that sails from Queenscliff, past the Port Phillip Bay heads over to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula. It was well worth the money. While on the ferry it seemed too good an opportunity to miss to call in to see a good friend living at Blairgowrie.

IMG_3070               IMG_1521

Carol-Anne Croker is amazing. She has supported me all through my PhD while doing a PhD herself. You couldn’t wish for a better friend. When we arrived thinking we were staying for a quick cup of coffee, much to our surprise, Louis began cooking fresh mussels and prawns. My husband was delighted and felt like royalty to be treated to such a seafood feast. Many hours, and a glass of wine later (drats that we had to drive) we continued on our way home.

Let’s kick off our shoes and dance around our handbags – sing at the top of our lungs – badly…Make the time to catch up, drink wine, eat cheese and chocolate in ridiculous amounts and enjoy each other’s belly laughter until our cheeks hurt and our sides are splitting…No matter how old we are or what challenges come our way.

 

Barb Biggs: The Accidental Renovator. A review

A Paris Story

How do you accidentally buy a Paris apartment?

Product Details

This is a smart, snazzy, witty story set in the romantic city of Paris. As I expected, I am really enjoying reading Barbara Biggs’ latest book The Accidental Renovator. It is a sassy, ironic, exuberant book that holds your interest from start to finish. Smart, funny and written about the real world in a way that will make you sit up and take notice.

Barbara Biggs.jpg

Barbara Biggs is also author of In Moral Danger, The Road Home and Chat Room. At 14 Barbara’s grandmother sold her to a pedophile; at 16 she was in a psyche hospital; at 18 she was a prostitute in Japan; at 19 she escaped Cambodia weeks before it fell to the Khmer Rouge; at 21 she caused national headlines and received death threats; at 30 she became a journalist. By 40 Barbara was a property millionaire. Just imagine her life in the years following. So how did Aussie Barb end up writing about renovating an apartment in Paris?


Incorrigible romantic, writer and renovator Barbara Biggs thought she knew about sex and real estate. Then she went to Paris. The self-described ‘foot-in-mouth Aussie chick’ can’t help ‘just looking’ at apartments for sale. Big mistake. She speaks little French, knows no one in Paris and has never thought of living there. But when the agent assures her the owner will insist on the asking price, she makes a low offer ‘just for fun’. It is accepted—and her life goes haywire. Biggs smuggles in a handsome Australian builder to renovate the apartment.
But he doesn’t speak French, doesn’t have any tools, and when the budding romance goes sour he vanishes and Barbara’s dream renovation becomes a nightmare. Undeterred, she joins the Lazy Pigs Millionaires’ Club and is soon lunching in grand chateaux, partying until dawn and learning about continental men in the nicest possible way. Then she writes about it.

Product Details

Imagine my surprise on reading the fist page of The Accidental Renovator to see, ‘I’d come to visit my French friend Lucy in Nancy, a university town three hours east of Paris.’ I was immediately back in Novel Writing Class, along with Barb and Lucy Mushita in the Professional Writing and Editing Course at Holmesglen TAFE. At that time Barb  was busy writing  In Moral Danger. Later, Lucy published her novel Chinongwa and I launched Pickle to Pie.

In Moral Danger

Biggs’ first book was a 2003 autobiography about her life up to the age of 22. The book tells of her sexual abuse from the age of 14 by a well-known criminal barrister. It explains the damaging after effects following her abuse, including time spent in a psychiatric hospital, escaping Cambodia weeks before it fell to the Khmer Rouge and being a prostitute in Japan. It also describes how she attempted suicide four times, received death threats and caused national headlines – all before the age of 22.

In Moral Danger   The Road Home: What Price Redemption?      Product Details

The Accidental Renovator shows how far Barb has come, not only in her life but as a writer. Both Lucy and I wish Barb good health, joy and every success.

Testing Boundaries in Thailand

The adventures of two Australian families and two grandmas holidaying together in Koh Samui and Phuket.

phuket swimming

A writer thrives on new experiences but when facing new challenges and venturing into unknown territory you rely on your instincts, or as I call it, gut feeling. This trip from Melbourne to join my son and his Queensland family in Thailand feels right. I hug my seventy-six year old husband goodbye knowing that the constant 38C heat of a Thailand summer would be too much for him. Son, Paul, drives me to Tullamarine and ensures that my newly validated visa card, ipad and iphone  work, I have Thai Baht in my pocket and my 7ks of carry on luggage is the correct weight. He works out a back up plan in case anything goes wrong on the 24hour trip ahead entailing 2 flights, two hour bus and ferry trip to the Thai island of Koh Samui.

bus 1 raja ferry

When you are a writer your five senses swing into action. You see so many different faces displaying a myriad of emotions. You try to understand if the owner is speaking Indian, German, Russian, Thai, Malayan or a form of broken English. You have weighed your carry-on luggage  a thousand times but still worry that it might be overweight. Excitement is tinged with anxiety and unconsciously you cross your fingers that all will go well. So many untold stories surround you and you want to understand and record them all. Waiting to board the plane to Kuala Lumpur you whip out your writing pad and start a diary. It helps ease the tension building inside you.

statue thai house 5

Sitting under a veranda at the Raja Ferry terminal on Koh Samui intense heat wrapped around me like a hot blanket on a summer’s day. Son Jason arrived in a hired air-conditioned twelve seater bus and took me to meet the rest of the group relaxing by a large swimming pool framed by sweet scented frangipani. At the Koh Sumui beachside Yacht Club I was lovingly welcomed by Jason’s wife, Karen and two grandchildren Tahlia (8) and Caxton (5). Also there were Karen’s brother, Mark, partner, Lou, Tyler (4) and Piper Lily (2). Noela, (Karen’s mother), is the Noni and matriarch of this clan. After dinner we all travelled in the bus to the three story house swap home high on a Koh Samui Hillside.

bus Thai house 4

Fifty years ago I lived for two years in Malacca Malaya but time had dimmed my memory. I had forgotten the intense, draining heat of an Asian summer, smelly drains and piles of decaying rubbish by the side of the road. However, indelibly imprinted on my memory was the friendliness of the people, their sunny smiles and easy going ways. I was delighted they did not seem to have changed.

spirithouse

The house in Koh Samui had a large living area and a huge covered deck that faced the sea. The constant gentle breeze made the heat bearable.

balcony Koh Samui thai house 2

I felt comfortable and happy in my bed in the loft, especially when the cute room had an air-conditioner and two fans. They guaranteed a good night’s sleep.

attic

Every day we explored the island. Sight seeing, shopping and lazed on lounges or swam at a peaceful beach. For fun, Jason hired a long-tail boat so we could snorkel over a reef teeming with brightly coloured fish. I was glad I’d made room in my carry-on luggage for my snorkel and mask and wished I had my flippers. There was a strong current that day.

belly button

After a week on koh Samui, Mark drove the bus onto the Ferry leaving for Suriat Thani on mainland Thailand. Jason drove from there and decided to take the all day scenic mountain trip down to the bridge that would take us onto the island of Phuket.

The day we travelled was the festival of Songkran (New Year) a public holiday and the biggest water fight of the year.

songkran 4 Songkran in Pattaya

On this day, to wash away any problems of the past year, adults and children drench others and in the process are themselves saturated. children and adults bombard cars and passengers with water guns, dishes of water scooped out of barrels put by the side of the road or spray everything with a constant steady stream from hand held hoses.

Symbolically the heavens opened and rain bucketed down for the entire day.  No one minded being drenched. It was a relief in the intense mid summer heat. villa

The villa in Phuket was big and spacious with a lovely cool swimming pool. Much to the children’s delight, Mark and Jason hired a motor bike. The children clamoured to be taken for rides and the guys insisted I go for a spin. Wind whistled through my hair as I clung precariously to the driver, narrowly missing tuk tuks and pedestrians.

kids bike   tuk tuk

In the bus we visited Surin, Kamala and Kata Noi beaches, Bang Tao, Wat Chalong and rode elephants at Kok Chang. The four young adults had a night in Bang Tao looking for cock fights and pingpong balls while the grandmas happily relaxed by the villa pool.

elephants and family.  beach 5 wat gold wat

4 on the town

One highlight was a mountain top restaurant with amazing views. The two men had a Chang beer while the rest of us enjoyed long, deliciously cold mango drinks or Mai Tai cocktails.

amphoe 

mai tai

It is such a bonus to move away from your comfort zone and do something different: to see how other people live and make do with what they have available. Down from the villa in Phuket a local house turned an unwanted toilet bowl into a pot for their plants

toilet fern

This time away with family and friends allowed me to test my boundaries and I discovered I can do many things I thought impossible. It also gave me the opportunity to be with the family and meet beautiful people in a fascinating country.  Precious memories that will last a lifetime.

GJTbeach

An unexpected journey

Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Surat Thani Airport, then a bus and Raja Ferry to Ko Samui.

I’m joining Jason, Karen, Tahlia and Caxton on their holiday in a private house on Ko Samui  Island off the coast of Thailand.

thai family pic

A friend asked me what airline I was travelling on. When I told her, she wrinkled her nose and said, ‘What flowers would you like me to bring to the crash site’.

Jason, Karen and family left last Friday and have sent pictures of the house. It looks superb. All I have to do is get there.

Thai house 4 thai house 2

I’m delighted to see it has a pool as it will be as hot as hell the entire time we are in Thailand. It is their summer and temperatures soar during April.

thai house 6  thai house 5

When I asked Jason for the address of the Ko Samui house the returning text said, ‘No address here. Just go past the white horse and turn left at the big chicken, Go straight until you find the old lady selling bananas, then you will see a medium sheet of bamboo on the left which is our driveway.’ Thank goodness he is meeting me at the ferry.

To be continued

Writing, Food And Friendship

Sharing Two Favourite recipes

Life can revolve around the dinner table where we share daily events, joys and sorrows. But is this becoming a thing of the past? Many modern families take a packaged dinner out of the freezer and zap it in the microwave. Quick, easy and to all accounts nourishing. For the body, yes, but not the soul.

Picture 018_1                    meal2 Several years ago I attended the Qualitative Inquiry Conference at the University of Illinois USA. While there, I had a chance to meet for the first time, a friend I met over ten years ago on the internet . Cindy took me to a home cooked lunch in an Amish home. We sat with other guests and discussed families, friendship, different cultures and of course the unseasonable heat. Without air-conditioning we sweltered. United by a common bond we reached for chicken and salads, laughed and swapped stories. It was as if we had known each other all our lives. index I arrived home to Melbourne to rain, hail and a top temperature of 10 Celsius. I soon grabbed my slow cooker. There is nothing better on a cold winter’s day than sharing a hearty beef casserole, crusty bread and stories with family and friends. however, for me it is the getting together, the talking and sharing that counts. If I had a put a feather on our plates we would have thought it was chicken.

On the wall of the Amish home was a beautifully needle worked sampler.

Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.

My passion is writing and the journey it is taking me. Years ago I would never have believed the novel I was sweating over would be published. I certainly would not have believed that I’d have completed my academic journey and, for the first time in my life, travelled alone to America. I love the old homily; Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is the gift: the present. I can’t wait to see what the future will bring. In the meantime here are a couple of recipes that have become favourites in this household.

indexAmish Overnight Pasta Salad 2 cups lettuce (cut up) 4oz cooked tiny shell macaroni 2 hard boiled eggs (sliced) 1 cup ham (strips) 1 cup Frozen peas (thawed) ½ cup Swiss cheese (shredded) ½ cup Miracle Whip ¼ cup dairy sour cream 1 tab onion (chopped) 1 tab mustard. METHOD: Put lettuce in bottom of a casserole dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Top with cooled macaroni. Place egg slices on top. Layer ham, peas, and cheese. Combine Miracle whip, sour cream, onion and mustard . Spread over salad sealing to edge of dish. Cover and refrigerate 24 hrs. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Toss before serving. And below is one of my all time favourite recipes.

index Auntie Clarice’s Quick And Easy Casserole 1 kilo scotch fillet (cubed) or 6 forequarter lamb chops (cut in half) Dip in seasoned flour In pan, brown meat and 2 large sliced onions. Add 1 cup chopped green and red capsicum, ½ cup chopped carrots, ½ cup chopped celery. Broccoli can also be added. Place in slow cooker or casserole dish Mix 1 large tin tomato soup 1 dessertspoon Worcester sauce 1 tab vinegar 1 dessert curry Pour over ingredients and simmer or bake 1 1/2 hrs (or 8 hrs in slow cooker).

These days I also take short cuts and buy some of the tasty seasoning packets for slow cookers/crock pots available in local supermarkets.

I love sharing a meal with loved ones because I revel in the communication and conversation that bounces around steaming bowls. It’s a chance to keep in touch, to celebrate successes and empathise with disasters. It gives me the opportunity to show the people in my life that they mean the world to me.

Writing Healing Life Stories

For writers, writing is how they make sense of their world.

There is a long human tradition of writing to make sense of events that effect the self. Writing can be a way to heal the emotional and physical wounds that are an inevitable part of life

class jpg

Some people use writing as a way to work through emotional issues by privately writing of grief in personal journals and diaries. Others write and publish memoirs such as the heart-rending Paula (1995), in which Chilean writer Isabel Allende interweaves autobiographical fragments into a letter to her dying twenty-eight year old daughter. Two recent memoirs about coping with the loss of a loved one are Megan O’Rouke’s The Long Goodbye (2011), about mourning her mother and Joyce Carol Oates’s A Widow’s Story (2011).

The most touching of all is perhaps Sandra Arnold’s Sing No Sad Song: losing a daughter to cancer (2011). These books add to a growing sub-genre that includes Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking (2005), a memoir of her husband’s death, daughter’s illness, and the wife and mother’s efforts to make sense of a time when nothing made sense. In her latest book, Blue Nights (2011), Didion mourns the loss of her family, youth and ability to write. David Rieffs’ Swimming in a Sea of Death (2008) is a loving tribute to his mother, the writer Susan Sontag, and her final battle with cancer. In a similar vein, Anne Roiphe’s Epilogue (2008), explores late-life widowhood.

This mourning of mothers, daughters, sons, husbands and friends shows the reader that their experience is not unique. They are not alone.

Last year I ran workshops concentrating on teaching the craft of writing and discovered that many students were recording their own traumatic stories. They wanted to make sense of their lives and hoped sharing their experiences would help others. The stories were far reaching and covered how life threatening illnesses, drug addiction etc. changed the lives, not only of the person involved, but also the extended family.

For this reason I’ve decided the 2015 workshops beginning in April at the Living Now Wellbeing Centre, Studio 7/14 Hartnett Drive Seaford will focus on the writing of Healing Life Stories.  The ten week course begins Tuesday April 14th until June 16th (10am -12noon).  If interested ring 97724566

Writing can heal your life. It allows us to find our creativity, write our stories, become more whole and expand our horizons.

 letter writing

Random notes jotted into an exercise book helps us to sort the tangled web that is our lives. My début novel, Pickle to Pie began in this way. Ostensibly I was writing my father’s story, but after the book was published, I realized it was my way of dealing with my hidden German heritage.

small final pickle coverBefore I was born, because of the ill feeling towards German people after two disastrous world wars, my Australian born father renounced his German ancestry. He also changed the family name by deed poll from Schlessinger to Sterling. When I was seven I found an old photo album in the bottom of a wardrobe and asked my father why the sombre groups of people looked different. He hesitated then replied that in 1885 his grandparents migrated (not from Germany) from Belgium. I didn’t meet my German grandmother until I was twelve and by then knew not to ask questions. The feeling of release once the story of my father’s life was published was incredible. I finally understood the whispered background to my childhood and could let go of the past.

Recently completing my second book, ‘Hens Lay, People Lie’ I now see that I’ve done it again. Written a story that explores my life journey. This book has moved beyond my childhood to enable me to make sense of my adult life. However, when I was three quarters of the way through writing the manuscript about two women, two countries and a life altering pen-friendship, my penfriend died and I was grieving. I found myself trying to writing while mourning. At first I couldn’t write, until I realised how much words like regret, love, loss, guilt, memory and remorse have power over our lives.

Hélène Cixous, a French feminist philosopher, claims that, ‘Words are the doors to all other worlds. At a certain moment for the person who has lost everything, be it a being or country, language becomes the country. One enters the country of languages’ Cixous 1992: 19).

cixous 2When Cixous was eleven, her father died. She describes this event as having a formative influence on her as a writer. Loss and the need for consolation became key motivating forces in her writing life. Her advice to those struggling with trauma in their lives is, “We should write as we dream; we should try and write, we should all do it for ourselves, it’s very healthy, because it’s the only place where we never lie.

IS TRAUMA WRITING CATHARTIC, OR IS THE WRITER RETRAUMATISED?

If the writer revisits painful emotions there is extensive literature about the risk of slipping into depression (Kammerer & Mazelis 2006; Stone 2004; Wurtzel 1999). Joy Livingwell, online columnist for the Neuro Linguistic Programming website, for example, warns of the danger inherent in reliving grief when she advocates that it is essential for the person involved ‘to get the useful life lessons from less-than-positive memories, without getting upset or re-traumatized’.

Therefore, if writing can be cathartic, it can also be dangerous. To avoid the danger of slipping into depression, writers need as safe space. A journal can be such a safe emotional space; a gap between reality and imagination where feelings and emotions can be intuited, articulated or performed. A space to write. Yet, there is the constant danger of being brought undone by your own words: stabbed by your stories, bowled over by both understanding and misunderstanding. Terry Williams writes: ‘Words are always a gamble, words can be like splinters of cut glass’. Writers attending the 2015 Healing Life Stories workshops will explore this aspect of trauma writing and learn how to protect themselves.

I’ve found writing can take you places you’ve never been before; some good, some bad. However, for me, writing about my life has been an uplifting experience. It has enabled me to let go of the past and move on with anticipation to the next exciting stage of my life journey.

You can write your healing stories about yourself or someone else important in your life  either for your own benefit or with the aim of helping others. When writing the story of my father’s turbulent life,  I found myself writing with passion and compassion. Above my computer is a quote by Australia’s famous author Bryce Courtenay 

‘There is no greater tribute than to lovingly record a life.’

imagesCADRYGU9