Posted in Sparks Book Club

EverydaySparks Book Review #1

I have come up with a clever plan to help with my effort to read more books in 2014. It’s not a resolution, mind, it’s just an effort. Cos it was a resolution last year (along with painting my nails and seeing one new release movie per month) and that didn’t turn out quite so well. I’ve always been a reader – I am very grateful to my folks, who must have passed it on in the genes. I can’t hope to compete with my Dad in the reading stakes, though – he’s chain-reads books like a champ (well, books and more recently that Hay Day farming game on the iPad…grandpas these days…).

Anyways, I have a stupid number of half-read books perched menacingly on my bedside table – from funny books about the Camino, to sad books about the Camino, to educational books about packing for the Camino (probs should’ve finished that one before we went), to a book on advertising in the Mad Men era, to one about passengers on the Titanic. And, for good measure, there are a few more bookmarked on my coffee table. I’m sure there’s probably a name for it somewhere in that psychiatric handbook – bibliodistracta or something like that. But that’s so 2013 – this year, I’m all about making time to read (and that includes finishing) more books.

My clever plan? To read them and then tell you about them here, in case you might like them (or need a gift idea for a book-loving pal). Now, given that I’m recovering from bibliodistracta…and it’s only the beginning of the new year…and [insert another excuse here]…my first book review is for a small, 97 page non-fiction number from 2008. Ann Patchett is an American writer, though I must confess that I’d never heard of her until I read some reference to this book that she wrote following her inspirational commencement address to the almost-graduates of Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

An easy read with a cup of tea. Maybe two cups.
An easy read with a mug of tea. Maybe two mugs.

What now? is a nice little piece of motivation for people who are looking for a new direction or a bit of a sanity check about what they’re doing. I like Patchett’s style – it’s not an over the top, rah-rah, YOU ARE AWESOME kinda pep talk. It’s more of a story about the twists and turns that make up your life’s journey and how there’s really no ‘wrong’ decision –  it’s only in hindsight that you can see how the student became the waitress and the cook and the teacher and then the super-successful award-winning author. Hey presto – just like that!

NB, most pages have more words than this.
NB, most pages have more words than this. But I do like this inside cover.

I think this book is a nice gift for someone who’s finishing their studies or a job or whatever – it’s a small hardcover with lots of cool photos, full of sensible, practical inspiration. It’s a thought-provoking book, but overall I think it’s mostly reassuring: don’t get too stressed about the big question of WHAT AM I MEANT TO BE DOING???? Stop over-analysing; always keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities; learn from the people around you; and be ok with the fact that you’ll never be 100% sure that you’re on the ‘right track’. Because (in my words, not Patchett’s), there’s no such freakin’ thing.

Because I couldn't resist including this pic of grannies in a maze.
Because I couldn’t resist including this pic of grannies in a maze.

If the thoughtful, academic analysis of my first EverydaySparks Book Review makes you realise that you need this book too, you can check it out on Amazon here: What now?

Now, I’m off to finish another book to review before 2015 flies around…

Posted in Sydney sparks

Inspiring stuff, Sydney

Hello. I’m back. Nice to be with you again. Thanks to those of you who asked OI, WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOUR BLOG? I appreciated the nudge and it’s really lovely to know that you noticed my absence. In truth, I’ve been home from my travels for a week and a half now, but I hadn’t really been inspired to get back to blogging. Maybe it was the cold that I picked up during my last days in NYC; maybe it was running around catching up with family, friends and work stuff; maybe it was getting through the shows that TiVo had thoughtfully recorded while I was away; maybe it was just a bit of a slump because the holiday is over & December is bearing down with all its festive fury (don’t get me wrong – I love love love the festive season, but there’s always so much going on).

Whatevs, I’m back now. And I owe the inspiration to Sydney. Yesterday was such a perfectly sunny summer’s day and as I wandered around the harbour, I was struck as I sometimes am by this pretty city, so thought I’d take some snaps and share the sunshine with you here.

No, I really do not miss catching a bus to work.
No, I really do not miss catching a bus to work.
Just for the calcium, I swear.
Just for the calcium, I swear.
As far as a view from public transport goes, it's not too bad.
As far as a view from public transport goes, it’s not too bad.
The bus stop. So to speak.
The bus stop. So to speak.
It is a pretty city.
It is a pretty city.
Best seat in town.
Best seat in town.

SydFlowers

And sometimes you even catch Cinderella just hangin' out, eating an apple.
And sometimes you even catch Cinderella just hangin’ out, eating an apple.
Posted in Musical sparks, Travel sparks

Overcoming the post-holiday slump

And so today it hits me. That inevitable post-holiday slump as things return to normal – bills need to be paid, appointments need to be made, work needs to be done…and the chances to reminisce about my recent holiday will be few and far between. So, I need a bit of a boost today. Normally, Dr Seuss is my go-to guy for motivation and a smile, but today I’m going with Flight of the Conchords and their recent NZ charity single: Feel Inside (and stuff like that).

You have probably already seen it by now, but in case you haven’t (or you need a refresher, like me today), here it is – a longish clip, but the interviews absolutely make the song, so I suggest you grab a cup of tea and sit down and enjoy it with me. A bit of feta really can make things better. Oh, and you can now buy this song on iTunes outside of NZ, so it’s like having a source of smiles on tap – I love it!

Posted in WWWhat?

The Doctor is in…

Today I’m struggling a little for motivation and inspiration. Just a little bit blah. At such times, some people look to Tony Robbins to guide them. Or perhaps the Dalai Lama. Or even Oprah Winfrey. Not me. Dr Seuss is my go-to guy for motivation and inspiration.

And this morning I remembered a great You Tube clip that my friend Naomi showed me earlier this year. It’s a short film of my favourite book, recorded with a cast of colourful characters from the Burning Man festival in the USA last year.

I often think that I’d love to experience Burning Man just once, but am pretty sure I’d stick out like a sore thumb amongst these very cool cats…

Hope you have a great day today, on your way to the places you’ll go!

Posted in WWWhat?

Celebrating 100 sparks

Well, today marks the 100th post on EverydaySparks. I must confess to being pleasantly surprised that I am still going, and still as fond of blogging as I was when I began back in February. I started writing a blog because I wanted to force myself to write – after being to a number of writing classes over the years and secretly dreaming of a life as a freelance writer, I thought it was time to see if I could actually commit to writing on a regular basis. Albeit writing only a few hundred words about something nonsensical that I had discovered on my virtual travels and thought was worth sharing…

I didn’t want to write long, thoughtful and introspective posts about my life – other people do that and I applaud them for their honesty and ability to write about their daily lives. That kind of writing is not what I was interested in, though – probably due to a combo of wanting to maintain my privacy and also not having a particularly dramatic life story! And if I may go a bit herbal for a minute, I have also been trying to move further away from the negativity of news media and politics (and reality tv), which is all doom and gloom and fighting and complaining. With all that in our faces, I just wanted this blog to be a place of silliness and lighthearted fun – a chance to share things that have made me smile (or furrow my brow in confusion) in the hope that other people might appreciate them too.

Originally, those ‘other people’ were people I know in the real world – and I thank them so much for their encouragement and support. I know how lucky I am to have such an awesome cheer squad, full of so many smart, funny, kind, thoughtful and downright cuckoo personalities. And gradually, these ‘other people’ included new friends, who I’m yet to meet in the real world, who dropped in and commented when they liked posts (and when they didn’t like posts!) and made me laugh. From here in Sydney to the USA, the UK and Europe and lots of places in between, I still find it amazing that there is this incredible virtual community of people – we wouldn’t know if we sat next to them on the bus, but we feel like we know them from their blogs. Inspiring artists, clever wordsmiths, amazing cooks, funky designers. Thank you all for making this so much fun.

A confession – I wasn’t sure how long I’d last as a blogger because I tend to get inspired by something and then get bored and move on to some new passion (sometimes before I even actually start the first thing). Like today, when I borrowed my Mum’s sewing machine (because that’s the new thing I want to do) and she casually said, “Oh, as I got it out, I found that bag of wool and needles from when you wanted to learn how to knit”. Mum, that was soooo three years ago, now I’m all about the sewing. Except when I’m all about the card making. Or the bag making. Or the chocolate making. You get the idea. So, I’m surprised and kinda pleased that I still find blogging fun and enjoyable. And other people seem to like EverydaySparks, which is a nice cherry on top of the sundae. (I also went through an ice cream making phase last year.)

Anyways, thanks for indulging this ramble as EverydaySparks hits 100. Special thanks to those of you who have commented and liked my posts, or provided ideas and inspiration, or who write blogs that keep me coming back. My Dad still asks a question that I can’t really answer, “But, HOW DID THEY FIND YOU?” I don’t know, but I’m glad that they did. (For the record, my Dad also still asks “But, WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY DO?” in relation to my career. But that is probably another post for another time.) Thank you to etsy and fab.com for hosting the main sources of inspiration for this blog – there are some incredibly talented people around the world, as well as some incredibly strange people around the world, which keeps EverydaySparks ticking over with new finds.

Here’s to the next 100!