Sunday 26th June 2022

Back to Newcastle! #LifesStories.#LinkUp. 24/2022.

Welcome (back) to Life’s Stories.

A Fortnightly Link Up here. The dates for the year are here and I hope you can keep on linking up too.

Back to Newcastle! #LifesStories.#LinkUp. 24/2022.

Since moving from Sydney to the New South Wales Central Coast, Newcastle is a big city closer to us than ever before.

It has changed immensely in the decades of this and last century. Going from a fully industrially-centred place (coal, steel making and more) to a renewed up-market place with inner city Sydney vibes, and harbour views along with beaches.

I’ve been to “Newy” (Newcastle) most years we have been up this way. Newy, by the way, is an affectionate term we Aussies seem to do with cities, places and people’s names: we shorten them affectionately.

About an hour from our place, along the M1 to the city centre makes it a pretty easy trip. With some help from google maps of course.

I was off to the Newcastle Writers Festival 2022 and made sure I had a car space booked. I am a planner and I do not apologise for that!

But first, I had a small crisis of confidence about appearance so needed a mirror check and selfie…and look what else happened after days & days of rain…the sky had changed at 7.45 a.m. to make it a sunny & dry day!

Arrived in plenty of time to notice a lot on the walk from the carpark to City Hall: green spaces, trees, and more…SUNshine gave everyone an extras spring in their step!

I loved attending Sydney Writers Festivals back in the years we lived in Sydney. They are a great chance to listen to the authors sharing THEIR stories about their books.

Newcastle Writers Festival in 2019 was a great occasion for me…and in fact, it was from hearing Jane Caro AM speak about Accidental Feminists (her non fiction book at that time) that I came up with the plan for the Women of Courage series. Here’s more about that.

And as a great fan of Trent Dalton and Rick Morton, it was awesome to meet Trent and catch up with Rick.

Then this happened…Covid. It stopped all events that were live so there was no Writers Festival (other than an on-line event) in 2020 and 2021.

But in 2022 It was BACK! With much fanfare, an amazing group of authors and for me, a ‘cheap’ way to be part of it when our NSW Discover Vouchers could help defray costs.

Where the arrow is pointing from is my grey head, as I am in the front row, and listening to (and loving) Trent’s talk with Rosemarie Milsom the Festival director. Debbie from Debs World was watching live from her lounge room and we tweeted a  bit too. Fun to connect!

I got to hear Kate McClymont speak about her journalist and author career looking into crime in our state of N.S.W. She has had death threats (!) and has spoken with many from the world of organised (and other) crime that is a part of our state’s history.

I listened to Jane Caro speak about her book The Mother, and another author too. They spoke of their writing processes and where some of their ideas had arisen. Sadly both topics within their words are pretty common these days.

I was tired (but happy!) after the events and took a drive over to the water to check out the big seas that had taken away walls from beaches and sand, along with stopping a surfing event.

Still, it was great to be there on a dry weather day, enjoy some of the sights, and to drive leisurely home via the old Pacific Hwy to our place at the northern end of the Central Coast.

It is still a bit strange to be getting out and about like this as the limitations of Covid (and lately, weather events that were dire) have made us hesitant. Maybe us? We are still part of a dwindling group of people wearing masks at the shops. We were asked to wear masks at Newcastle Writers Festival.

And by the way, there were many more author and writers I would have loved to heard but…time. I could only manage one day away from home. That’s life as a post oral cancer person. Some of the writers I missed included Helen Garner, Clementine Ford, Julia Baird, and more. Sadly my friend Rick wasn’t there…he told me he thought he was but no..bit busy as well with a new book out that he edited: Growing Up In the Country:  Australia.

I’m pleased to add that my interest in reading is refreshed now and I am actually browsing fiction as well as non-fiction books. I will more than likely have a post for the What’s On Your Bookshelf too.

I also hope to attend the Words on the Waves Writers Festival at the southern end of the Central Coast in early June. Waiting for the program to be released. It had its first year in 2021 and I missed that it even happened. Not this time, I am signed up for updates. Here is more info. 

Do you know the city of Newcastle?

Are you a “fan” of Writers Festivals?

Do you have a favourite author you would like to meet?

Let me know if you get a chance in the comments.

Denyse.

It’s the Monday before Easter & the weather seems fine for driving to Dee Why to see Dad, so that’s my plan.

I will catch up with you here later.

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Women Of Courage Series. #60. Tracey Breese. 77/2021.

Women Of Courage Series.  #60. Tracey Breese. 77/2021.

Two years ago….around this time of year, I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

 

Introducing Tracey Breese, who  is 49, and known to me via our social media connections relating to schools and public education in New South Wales. Tracey is an innovator and a highly competent high school principal who has recently left one school where she was leader learner as school principal ….to become principal of a different type of high school, called Hunter School Of The  Performing Arts found via this link….and the students range from Year 3 to Year 12. What an interesting school and so good to read of Tracey’s updates on-line. I do hope to visit one day as well. Find Tracey here on Twitter.

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”

― William Faulkner

Courage is a funny thing. In the moment, you don’t particularly recognise it as ‘courage’ per se.

As a school leader I see many of the ‘moments’ in my career now, on reflection, have involved courage.

Many of them have evolved from my strong beliefs and convictions.

So, that idea of courage through conviction rings true for me.

The integrity of my convictions and not lying down when I need to speak up, have been pivotal to my personality and growth, as a mum, as a teacher, as a leader and as a community member.

Many of the pivotal moments of my career have changed me.

Sadly, many of the challenges harden the resolve that you have.

I have had to work harder to get some roles in my career, where, at times, simply being ‘male’ appeared to be the criteria.

When I first became a principal, I had a head teacher come to my door and say; ‘What we really needed was a strong man in this role, it’s a tough place.’ This was not in 1960: but 2016. I was speechless.

This stayed with me and drove me to be the best principal I could be.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

Yes.

I found it really difficult to believe that I have got to this point, and was still fighting some old cultural misogyny.

Even though it was only one person’s opinion, it is amazing how these things stick like velcro to your armour.

I was able to move from the moment, but I was always striving to make sure that everything achieved for students was at the level of excellence and innovation.

I was warm to all, but ferocious in my resolve to be the best person I could be.

I had exceptional role models.

Christine Cawsey has been an amazing mentor in my entire career.

It is the women in leadership like this that have forged the path and created amazing opportunities- created through their courageous and fearless watershed moments.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

Stick to your convictions and don’t let others drag you under.

Michelle Obama’s quote is up in my office: ‘When they go low, you go high.’

It’s not everyday that you need the power of resilience, but when you do: go to the mantras.

I did a mindfulness course with Gillian Coutts (you’ll want to get her on the blog!) Thank you for your recommendation, she is going to share too! 

It was life changing.

The strategies were about putting the gaps in between the work.

Knowing that you need to re-centre and revive yourself between the moments.

This has been work/life balance changing for me.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Yes.

I feel that the emotional intelligence you gain in leadership is so important and changes all the time as you experience different situations.

Courage is also about calling in your resources and knowing the right resources you need in the moment.

This includes the fact that in all situations, you do have the power of your own response.

This is the best point in courage.

The courage to know yourself and not be forced into responses by others.

I am at all times the calm and consistent adult.

I do not have to respond in a stereotypical way to any situation.

Walking away, in some instances can save others from themselves.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Courage is standing strong to your conviction, not the overwhelming and all powerful emotions that sometimes take over others.

Be the best person.

Walk away when needed.

Don’t get in the ring if you don’t have to.

Sometimes, doing what’s right is more important that doing what is easy- that is to be truly courageous.

 

As a now-retired K-6 principal I read your story with heightened interest and even used red and italyics to show how we women in leadership roles have had to manage some people’s comments, attitudes and ignorance. I am in awe of your daily work with the many students, staff and families who are part of your new school community. What a thrill it must be to be also part of a large student population with huge talent in many area. Mind you, as I would understand from having two “OC” classes at RPS, giftedness has its many challenges too.

 

Thank you so much again for sharing.

I am sure others who read will also take something from your work, your heart and your mind as you lead your school onward.

And I wish you and your colleagues some respite from school life as you lead up to the mid-year Winter School holidays.

Denyse.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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