Monthly Archives: January 2011

When Disaster Hits Your Home and Heart – Sharing The Queensland Flood Story


"Fall seven times, get up eight"
 Japanese Proverb

 

If you happen to be a Queenslander (which is a state of Australia, for international readers) then I’d like to say up that today, I feel proud to be one of you. Proud and sad, for everyone, at the same time.

If you have no idea why I would be sharing these sentiments, then please read on and I’ll tell you. It’s kind of a BIG story.

Throwing Out The Old, Bringing In the New

This time last week the only thing on my mind was my home renovation. I was already tired of living out of two rooms in my house (while the rest was being refloored) and the disruption to our family’s normal routine was causing a bit of  cabin fever  for my children.

I was having trouble locating the things I routinely use  (keys, particular books etc..), the washing was piling up (it had been raining a lot) and the noise and tiling dust was a constant background irritant (although frequently broken by the cheerful singing voice of one of the tradesmen !) .

These things were happening but it was kind of fun and we were all still laughing and looking forward to our newly finished renovations.

So, what has all this got to do with being proud to be a Queenslander? Read on….I’m getting there. As I said, it’s kind of a BIG story.

The Natural Disaster

So, looking back on my own little corner of life last week, I feel grateful.

Enormously grateful. It was an enjoyable week for me and as I thought at the time, a wonderful way to start the new year. All renovated, fresh and new – that sort of thing.  A happy time, unfolding into even happier times. New things being created, old things being discarded.  You get the picture….

This picture however (which was no doubt, not all that different in some ways from many others starting the New Year) was not the one I have seen since, night and day, on the television and with my own eyes.

This picture of which I am talking about is one of devastation, loss, suffering and grief – on a massive scale. There is also kindness and generosity mixed in there too. That’s the amazing thing about us humans  – adversity seems to bring out the best in us.

What Happened

I’ve heard it has been world-wide news, so perhaps you already know what I am referring to, but in case you haven’t heard I’ll retell you now.

On January 12th after much rain had fallen all over our state and several regional areas had already suffered huge inundations of water through their homes, a massive event occurred in a town called Toowoomba, a beautiful ‘garden’ city, formerly best known for its annual floral displays. This event can only be described accurately by calling it an inland tsunami. 

I still don’t fully understand all the factors which came together to cause this event. Many of us do not. It was also an event that weather forecasters were not able to predict and thus, the people it affected had no warning. Whatsoever.

The Impact Spreads

As if this alone was not enough to devastate lives and cause tragedy, this body of water then continued its path through several more towns and eventually to the city of Brisbane.

May I just say at this point that I think we are all becoming used to hearing news about natural disasters these days.

Usually though, for me at least, these events occur in countries and places whose names I haven’t heard of and can’t pronounce. Therefore they sometimes seem very far removed from anything to do with me. 

All I can say is about that is that when something like this happens in your home state, the impact is much different. You have visited these towns, admired their beauty, enjoyed good times there and know people who are affected.

The Facts

So you yourself can comprehend (I still can’t) the massive scale of this disaster, here are some of the major facts:-

1. All up, the floods in Queensland have hit over 86 towns and 30, 000 homes have either been totally inundated with water or flood affected in other ways.

Three quarters of this state (which is the size of France and Germany combined) has been declared a disaster zone.

2. At the time of writing this 4,400 people in Brisbane are being housed in evacuation centres.

3. There are currently 50 operational evacuation centres around the city, all providing food shelter and counselling to those affected.

4. And lastly, here is the only statistic that lifts my heart and the one that makes me proud to be an Australian and a Queenslander.

As the business of clearing up begins in some parts, the call for help has gone out to the whole community and today, a volunteer army of some 11,000 people hit our streets and suburbs to help begin the process.

Local Heroes

11,000 people!!!

Picture that.

All armed with their own brooms, spades and buckets. They are of course being backed up by some other heavy-duty equipment being provided by the army and State Emergency Service personal.

The journey to bringing our state back from this disaster will be a marathon one and will involve every member of our community.  The spirit of that community is already being demonstrated even now as all barriers are broken and neighbours, friends, families and more often than not, perfect strangers, all unite for one cause – to help the flood affected.

I will continue to blog when I can, but for now most of my energies will be focussed elsewhere.

Thanks for reading this and please, keep the welfare of the people of my home state, in your hearts and minds.

Thanks again.

If you are on Facebook or Twitter, I would very appreciative if you could share this story with your friends, so more people are able to hear the story and help if they want to.

If you are interested in helping the community of Queensland, you can either register to volunteer or donate online at http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html .

Or if you would just like to share your thoughts with me, I would very happy to hear them.

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Blog Renovation Versus Home Renovation: A Case For Both!


Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will not be able to bring you the post I had scheduled for today, which I talked about last week.  Not yet, at least.

And just what are those circumstances, I hear you ask?  In two words – home renovation.  Who knew that could be disruptive?  That it could throw you off balance and tip your semi organised blogging life into slight ..er…disaray?  Nah me.

The Uncomfortable Blogger

Consider this for a minute. One day recently, there I was, steadfastly typing away, unusually and uncomfortably wedged between several towers of furniture, laptop balanced precariously on my knee and the next I was hollering “the internet’s not working!!” only to have it confirmed that “yes, that’s right.  The home office had indeed been guttered and so was the functioning modem and router.” 

I know I should’ve seen it coming. That I should’ve been less absorbed by my musings in cyberspace and a little more ”present” in my real life, but what can I say? I’m a little blogging obsessed, at times. Who isn’t?

When I look more closely at my predicament though I must concede that the several tradesmen standing in my living room that morning had been a pretty big clue that something BIG was about to happen around me. That and perhaps the fact that I was crouched in between most of the furniture in my house, all moved into one corner.

Someone could have spelt it out for me, though, couldn’t they ? 

Something along the lines of “Hey Monica, your home renovation is about to begin and soon you will not only be decluttered and detechnologised but life as you know it will temporarily upended” (said in a nice loud voice, that I could not ignore) would have been helpful.

Therefore, Due To These Unexpected Delays….

Needless to say I am now (after several days of being completely cut off from) back on the net.  This is a temporary concession by the Powers That Run My Life but before the favour runs dry I thought I would jump on here and give you a bit of an update.

So this is it; the ‘weather’ report for The Live, Learn, Achieve, Grow Blog, for the week commencing 10th January, 2011.

This weeks blogging schedule will be slightly delayed due to unprecedented outside interference.  A chance of further disruptions is predicted over several days.  This may continue to cause further changes to my normal blogging programming.  A shame.

So if you’d like to have a read through the archives in the meantime, feel free!!

Hopefully though I will see you back here soon for something fresh and different. 

Till then….take care and may I just offer you a little word of advice  if you happen to be planning any many changes around your house. Don’t do it! 

Plan ahead and stay relaxed.

Happy blogging and I hope to talk to you soon,

Mon

 

 

 

 

 

Networking, Fiction Writing and Why I Committed A Cardinal Blogging Sin


As most of you would know, there are a lot of other “cyber tasks” (apart from actually writing blog posts) that fill up a busy bloggers day ie visiting other blogs, editing and emailing guest posts ( my first soon to go up at WriteAnything ), researching ideas, cyber networking and leaving comments on other blogs.

What can I say, I like to keep busy!

Anyhow, due to all of the above, and a few other things I will go into in a moment, this week I happily committed (perhaps not a cardinal, but rather just a venial sin) of ‘reposting’ a previous post.

Personally I don’t think there is anything greatly wrong with that.

After all your readership may have grown over time and what’s wrong with a little resharing of some relevant and perhaps interesting facts about a particular topic?

Nothing Monica, except I’d read it before, I hear you say.

Yes, well, as I am now in the confessional box, I may as well mention to you another significant factor that affected my (blogging and all other aspects of) life last week. It was called CYCLONE YASI.

You’d have thought that the weather gods may have had enough fun with us Queenslanders lately (with the recent floods and all) but apparently that was just a test run. For just weeks later a category 5 cyclone, which had the dubious honour of being the most severe cyclone in our country’s history, began approaching off the coast. 

I don’t wish to turn this post into a news report about the event. I’m sure there have been plenty of them, worldwide. Suffice to say that this second disaster did once again, hit heart and home.

Our relatives in North Queensland experienced a horendous night (but are all safe) and are now enduring the second week of living with no electricity and a diminishing city water supply. Hardship and adversity has also hit the many  (sugar cane, banana and dairy) farming communities for the second time in just a few years, so these guys are all doing it tough. So please keep them all in yours thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

Okay, well apart from sharing this event with you from my own personal perspective, I also wanted to mention a few great writing sites and projects I have recently become aware of. This also involves sharing with you:-

Some Stuff You Didn’t Know About Me

I’ll make these points briefly (because there’s only a few of them!) :-

1) Apart from my own ebook, I also love to write non-fiction.

2) I have written a 50,000 word romance novel (that currently sits at the bottom of my filing cabinet) that one day, I will dust off and send to a publisher!

3) I am always on the lookout for magazine’s and other places, to submit my short stories to.

4) Last year, I had a story accepted for publication in a national parenting magazine;

5) Then, after a few months of back and forth email contact with the magazine’s editor, it was er….non-accepted (with many sincere and genuine apologies from the very lovely editor. I learnt two things from this experience. One was that  these people all work in editorial teams and as such, what one says, doesn’t always go. And two, they are very busy people and subject to constant changing circumstances about which content is appropriate to produce and which isn’t.

Arghh, all a big learning curve for aspiring writers!! Still, I am an optimist and can not feel anything but gratitude for the little bit of ‘foot in the door’ I was permitted (even if that foot is still just a little bruised and sore from it’s experience!!)

Anyhow, this all leads me to explain why I was so excited to discover a project called #FridayFlash, which as you might have guessed by the hashtag usage, is a fantastic, twitter born, opportunity for writers. Basically, this project involves uploading your own fiction each Friday and participating in the online community of writers bought together by @JMStoth.

If you yourself are intersted in joining in with this project you can do so here.

I myself will be uploading stories  (the stories are already written and on my computer files) as soon as a few hitches with my Microsoft office program are fixed!!

So there you have it friends – a confession, a heartache and some new writing ventures, shared.