Surrounded by sub-tropical plant life

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I’m sure by now you’re getting a little burnt-out on all the ‘end of year’ posts happening at the moment – the ones that look back over 2013 with piercing eyes, or gaze mistily into the wonder that could be 2014. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I like those posts. It’s satisfying to reflect on the year that was, and to remind yourself what’s important to you going forward. That’s fine. I was tempted to write a retrospective blog post myself, but I couldn’t think of any way to make it feel original or fresh.

So I’m doing the compete opposite.

I’m going to write to you about what’s happening right now.

Not what happened over the last twelve months (although this year has been AWESOME) or what I hope will happen next year (although it’s looking like it might be AWESOME), but what is happening at this time.

I’m sitting in a library (surprising no one), typing on my laptop while somewhere a toddler burbles at his mother. There is a row of tropical-looking pot plants sitting directly in front of me, quite at odds with the pristine white tables and frosty air conditioning. I’m in here because (a) it’s stinking hot outside, and (b) libraries are my natural habitat anyway. The books! The air-con! The free wi-fi! Truly this is some kind of modern-day Eden. (Except, with the knowledge? I haven’t properly thought this analogy through.)

It’s softly sunny outside, silver light filtering down through the cloud haze. I imagine the heaviness of the heat waiting to drop on me when I step outside later. Through the corner of a window I can see the Brisbane Wheel circling quietly in South Bank. A lot of the light in this library is artificial, fluorescent and glaring, but I notice that there’s a weird kind of skylight in the ceiling, partially blocked by what I can only imagine someone else once imagined was modern art.

This whole library is a testament to modern art. Its aesthetics are … unique. I wouldn’t say they entirely work for my tastes, but I love the way the slant of the irregular windows mirror the ‘chopstick bridge’ outside. And, from almost every window, the river – the river, the river, the river. I have to say it many times in my head because it is such a presence in this town. I love the way Brisbane lives on its river, and not just next to it. I’ve written many poems on this and maybe soon some of them will be published.

I check my word count: 417. I usually write about a 1,000, but I’m not sure how long I can keep this conceit interesting. It may already be boring my readers. I think an apology to them all, and begin to wrap up the blog post. My stomach is blotted with that pointed pain that comes with hunger. Or, to put it in a less wanky poetic way, I needs lunch. Now.

This is Monday the 30th of December, 2013, and this is what’s happening at almost exactly midday in Brisbane. The sun is at its zenith. (You don’t get nearly enough opportunities to use the word ‘zenith’ in everyday conversation. Excellent word. Zenith.) I am grateful for my followers and readers and friendly supporters. I am determined to keep working and creating and writing. I am also determined to get some burrito in me ASAP.

I hope your day is going well.

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Non, non, je ne regrette rien

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The theme of this week’s blog post is “regret”. Cheerful, huh? Don’t worry, I’m not going to spiral into some depressive, introspective ramble that ends with me hunched over a whiskey and sobbing the names of ex-boyfriends. “Why, Brian? Whaaay?!” (Just kidding. I’ve never dated a Brian.)

While reading the blog A Writer’s Journey (which I highly recommend for fellow writers, by the way), I came across this passage:

They say you should live without regrets, but I disagree. That mindset would drive me crazy. Opportunities pass us by, we make mistakes, and sometimes we’re just too tired to keep up. Instead of living with no regrets, I want to always be able to say to myself, “At least I did everything I could do.”

I know that I, too, have been driven crazy by the idea that I mustn’t miss any opportunities. I must seize the day! Say yes to life! Not let a chance go by! We’re all food for worms, boys! (And other exhortations from Dead Poets Society.)

It’s exhausting, isn’t it? If you always say ‘yes’ to everything, eventually you end up looking like Gollum’s partied-out cousin. Life will ravage your face. You’ll be worn out and anxious and finding glitter in your hair that you can’t explain.

Some people, it’s true, are not born participators. They could stand to move outside their comfort zone a little more often, to try new things. But that is not true for me. The biggest lesson that I keep learning and forgetting and relearning is how to say NO. As in, NO, I can’t do everything. No, I can’t be everything. I have limitations, whether I like it or not.

I suffer from a medical condition that keeps me from doing a lot of things. I know for sure that I have limitations: flippin’ doctors have told me so. Specialised medical practitioners have prescribed me a large dose of “take it easy”. Easier said than done. But I’m getting better.

Even though I still have this hysterical internal drive to DO, DO, DO all the time – to jump on every single opportunity – I am starting to get the lesson. I will do everything I can do. (I don’t know why I ignored that important little word for so long.) I am learning to step back.

So, I spent New Year’s Eve at home, by myself, trying out a new recipe for dinner. I went to bed before midnight. I AM GRANDMA.

And I regrette rien.