Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Archive for December 2008

New year’s dreams

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Instead of New Year’s resolutions, which always seem to involve giving up something we love, or habits we really don’t mind, I’d like to propose the concept of New Year’s dreams.

One of our work initiatives this year was to make our dreams part of our worklife. The idea behind this is that if the things we dream of are somehow integrated into our work, work is better and overall happiness increases.

I’ve long been of the opinion that if your job isn’t part of your ‘real life’ then you need a new job. I could not imagine spending ten or more hours of my day devoted to something that didn’t mean anything to me. I love my day job – it’s fun. I like the people I work with and the work that I do. I also have plenty of free time to explore other things. So at first I couldn’t quite see how this initiative had anything to do with me.

The boss got his idea from The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly and I finally got around to reading it a couple of months ago. I’m not recommending this book as the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’m not well-versed in business management books and have no intention of ever becoming so, but I found the concept interesting. Set up in the form of a parable, the general manager of a cleaning company with staff turnover around 300%/year figures out how to make his employees happier, more productive and not only stay, but recruit for him. He does this by helping them fulfil their dreams.

My boss got one of the staff to come on board as the Dream Manager. He’s now got about half the staff working with mentors to help them make their dreams come true.

One of the tasks everyone who participates must do is compile a list of 100 of their dreams. Sound easy? Try it. I did pretty well for the first twenty, mostly countries I would like to visit, books I’ve been meaning to read, lose weight. But then I got stuck. What do I dream of? Really? What do I want to achieve? Acquire? Learn? Be?

The next 20 sounded like your standard list of New Year’s resolutions, scolding myself for my shortcomings and promising to do better. I felt like giving up as the process was making me feel bad. But as I am not one to give up easily, I carried on.

Then something interesting happened. Things started coming out that I didn’t ‘let’ myself dream of – things like learning calculus, speaking Mandarin, write a travel book for middle aged travellers who can’t sleep in train stations and need a private loo, but don’t want to do the standard tour thing. Some very interesting stuff.

So for New Year 2009, I’ve taken my list of 100 dreams and culled it to stuff I dream of doing in 2009. I’ve got 35 dreams, there – every one something positive or fun or a challenge I know I can meet if I put the effort in. Chances are I won’t get to them all. But that’s okay – there’s always next year.

How about you? What are your 100 dreams?

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

31/12/2008 at 3:07 pm

Posted in dreams, work, Writing

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Telling stories

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I’ve put 11 short stories up now and it seems a good place to pause. Rereading each of them is a little journey of its own – to the story and to the place I was when I wrote it. I had forgotten how good some of them are. I had thought some of them were better than they are.

But I like seeing them on the blog. I like the idea that someone might stumble into them and have a read. Better than keeping them locked up like naughty children on my hard drive.

I think the best stories come out of some element of my past, usually my childhood in New York or upstate in Dorloo. Mind you, they can’t be considered autobiography because they simply didn’t quite happen the way I tell them. And I’ve got siblings who will declare, “That’s not how it happened!” and they are quite right. To be honest, it’s easier telling fiction than telling truth – you try telling the truth and no matter how honest and clear and unbiased you think you are, someone will come along with a different version and who’s to say theirs isn’t as true as yours? Maybe truer?

I remember getting bitten by a giraffe at a petting zoo nearly twenty years ago. Hurt like hell. I was holding my little daughter up to pet the supposedly gentle creature and it grabbed my hand with its tongue and had a chomp, crushing my knuckles together. Nothing broken, but it was sore for days. Unfortunately for me, there was a crowd of witnesses there who all attest that it was my daughter who was bit, not me. Including the daughter, who was rather traumatised by the event. But I remember it so clearly – I know it happened to me. Writing fiction is so much safer.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

30/12/2008 at 7:22 pm

Posted in Writing

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Rainy Monday, ain’t got no blues

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The rain is comes down in big, soft drops, occasionally working up a gust of wind to toss the towering kanukas and kauris around. The sky is the colour of the letter Y, translucent and lonely, marred by a lost tropical parakeet, its bobbing blood-red head a shock on the eye.

My mother hated rainy days because it meant the children couldn’t go outside and play, which was of course, the same reason I hated rainy days as a child. Some days she’d break down and let us play in the rain, splash in puddles, turn our faces skyward and let the drops fall into our mouths, shrieking with laughter.

All right already with the poetry… setting up this blog is taking hours. Not that I mind. I spend too much time on the computer and this counts as quality time, productive time, meaningful time. What did I do today? Well, I spent several hours updating and developing my blog. ‘Your blog?’ Which opens up endless possibilities to express how wonderful my blog is and why everyone should be reading it.

I’m trying to figure out where to go with it. I thought perhaps I’d focus on the travel. Or the photography. Maybe put my film reviews and articles on line. And some of the stories I’ve written. And all the bloody essays. So I’m thinking that at least for the moment, I won’t worry about a focus – just let it flow and see what ends up coming out on top.

Yep, that old rain is still coming down. Think I’ll go drum up some vittles.


Written by Titirangi Storyteller

29/12/2008 at 4:31 am

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No travel plans

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This is a crisis! Anyone suffering from travel addiction must have several things at least semi-lined up – at least booked but not paid for. Last year this time I was in New York, heading up to Bangor in a few days. I had a cruise to the South Pacific booked along with my tickets and cruise for Scandinavia and Estonia. I managed to squeeze in a repeat trip to the South Pacific because the first one ended up caught in a cyclone and we ended up in Suva. (And if I ever end up in Suva again, I’m not getting off the ship! First they run you through a barbed wire gauntlet and then you’re assaulted by Bula! screaming conmen.) And then there was my most recent expedition to Sydney, so I could take the long way home on the Diamond Princess. Five trips in one year and my only regret is there wasn’t time to fit more travel in.

So here I am with nothing planned for 2009. Nothing!

Uzbekistan is off the table. I just can’t drum up any support from the spouse who anticipates uncomfortable beds and stews that might contain eyeballs and monkey brains. I keep telling him there are no monkeys in Uzbekistan. However, I suppose I will have to defer to warnings from the NZ, US, Aus and UK government saying it’s really no place to go just because you’re nosy. If terrorists don’t get you (and they probably won’t) you run the risk of innocently committing a heinous crime. Actually, this is also unlikely, but I like to consider the possibility of being boiled alive as a genuine threat. I believe Uzbekistan is the only country in the world that still practices boiling to death. I don’t know – I find it fascinating and being that I’m against capital punishment in general, it seems more peculiar, but really, no worse than other forms. In any case, I’m not going to get to go there this year.

I’m thinking small country. Out of the way. I’m thinking cheap, but not cheap-cheap (no birds tweeting in the loo if you don’t mind). I’m thinking not hot. I’m off hot places. I’ve discovered the bliss of cold places. The thrill of the chill that keeps you moving. I want to go to Norway…
Ah Norway – I spent a day in Oslo this past September. As close to heaven as you’re likely to get. I was especially enamoured of the Norwegian Wood. But I’m hankering to do the Hurtigruten cruise, which is a combination cruise/mail/supply ship. Click the link for an idea… Unfortunately, it does not meet the cheap qualification. Norway is one of the most expensive countries. Still, it’s calling me.

Then I’m thinking a bit about South America. Peru or Chile, a bit of Argentina, perhaps. And maybe a short jaunt on a ship in the south Pacific in March… Like I said, it’s a crisis.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

28/12/2008 at 12:52 am

Posted in holiday, travel

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Dog breeds

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Not that I care about this, but it occurs to me that when I was a kid there were half a dozen breeds of dog. You had your collies, German shepherds, poodles, chihuahuas (for the weird), Labrador and beagles. Every so often you’d find something more exotic like an Irish setter or Scottie dog,Mystery breed the odd dachshund or bulldog. But really, that was it.
These days every time someone gets a dog, it’s some breed I’ve never heard of and if I can get my tongue around it, I can’t remember it, so the next time I see the adorable pooch and he’s grown, I have to ask what the breed is and I’m not quite sure it’s even the same dog.
And whatever became of the mutt? Do we need labradoodles? Or spoodles?
Not sure why this is bugging me – I don’t care much for dogs… generally.  But you know I adore yours.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

28/12/2008 at 12:46 am

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