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The Storytellers - Restless #4

} end if by Ruby Blessing

92102256_2c2b26f8fd_o 2385998520_5d90c7fc8f_b 5842987075_f563cbac18 5870541051_5186a9bf89_oAda was holding court at her usual table, at the usual time of two a.m. A stream of young acolytes streamed past, sometimes sitting to pay doe-eyed homage. Sometimes to sneer. All to ask questions.

She would have killed for a cigarette. But they had been banned for so many years now that even the black market didn’t bother anymore. Besides, this new generation were too busy with their programs to take the time and effort required to sustain a habit.

The café was unusually full, muted dubstep playing over the speakers, serious groups huddled over their glowing tablets and coffees.

Ada sighed. Some rebellion. Ever since the Red Hats took over, no one seemed to have fun anymore. And it was mostly her fault. Now she was left with the dubious title of Queen of the Revolution, with every coder in the city passing by her table to ask some inane scripting question just to say they had met her.

Still, it was better than staying in her apartment. Too many memories there. Plus she was sure it was bugged. Ironic really. The ultimate hacker having her own life hacked. At least the bedroom was secure. Soon she would have to choose a new skid to take home. She usually gave them a week. It took that long to get them to think for themselves.

Bogey sat down, pushing a tattooed boy aside. “One of yours?” he nodded his polished head towards an attractive young woman surrounded by other script kiddies like some minor celebrity.

“She was last week’s,” Ada sighed, “She had some surprising, um, tricks, I must say.” Quite an enjoyable week really, she thought, remembering Layla’s soft skin and skilful tongue.

“At least she used her imagination,” she added, out loud, “More than I can say for some of the boys. They seem to think that their manhood is enough.”

“I remember when my manhood was enough,” Bogey said, looking into her eyes, a nostalgic smile on his lips.

Ada looked at him and remembered when it was too. Boges had known her when she was still a mediocre hacker for a cheap internet security company. That was until she stumbled into Darknet. And started a rebellion.

“Have you come to watch, or is there something else you wanted?” Ada asked, knocking back the last dregs of her third glass of red wine.

“Well, I was wondering if you had heard from Tom?”

Ada had to stop herself from snapping at him. It wasn’t his fault that both their sons had disowned her. Tom had moved to the other side of the world to escape her, and her fame. Or infamy.

“No, I haven’t,” she said, gritting her teeth. No tears. Not here. “Why do you think I would have?”

Bogey paused, swirling the warm beer at the bottom of his glass. He was trying to avoid telling her something. He had never been very good at the serious, and she was starting to get concerned. Then he took her hand and she knew it had to be bad.

“He’s disappeared, Ada. Completely and utterly gone. And I think you might be the only one with the skill to find him.”

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{This piece of fiction by Ruby Blessing is part of a new guest post series on my blog called "The Storytellers." I have given creative folk from all over the world a theme - in this round, it is "Restless" - and invited them to create anything they like. To see more from The Storytellers, follow this tag. I'll update it with a new post each week.}

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Ruby Blessing has worked at the forefront of the digital space for the past 16 years. Apart from being a leading Digital Strategist (having co-founded the first-ever Internet company to launch on the Australian stock market), Ruby is also mother of four voracious readers and she struggled to find a new books series for her children (who had devoured all the usual suspects). Not one to let a challenge get in the way of a good idea, Ruby decided to write one herself.

Crispin Scales and the Golden Pearl is the first installment in her exhilarating fantasy series for eight to 12 year olds. With a twist that will drop your jaw to the floor, and charming supernatural characters, Crispin Scales is the children’s series we’ve all been craving.

Ruby is also working on several adult books. This post is an excerpt from } end if, a story about the hacker wars of the mid 21st century, and a revolution led by a woman.

Image credits: red hats, all licensed under creative commons, top to bottom by katsuuu 44 // Arnaud DG // Fabio Rava // Joseph Crawley

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The Storytellers - Restless #3

"Restless" by Paul Hulbert

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are no words to this post. Instead, the story of "Restless" is told in these two photographs. What do they say to you?

{Post by Paul Hulbert, in the theme “Restless” for The Storytellers}

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Paul Hulbert is a freelance photographer who regularly works for lifestyle, home and garden magazines, as well as local governments, corporate clients and not-for-profit clients. He also creates tailor-made garden books for private clients, and photographs portraits, weddings and special occasions on commission.

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The Storytellers - Restless #2

"Insomnia" by Katherine Mackenzie-Smith

_DSC0285The girl lies awake in the middle of the night, her mind abuzz with thoughts of the person she could be and all the things she could do. Sometimes she walks the halls of her parents' house, trying to calm her mind, and sometimes she stares upwards, watching shadows of the outside world dancing on her bedroom ceiling in the midnight breeze.

She knows that she isn’t like everyone else; she isn’t satisfied with the usual day to day. She struggles to find fulfillment in her current state of being; she is anxious with longing and wistful with thoughts of how she can fashion herself an existence of supreme happiness. She knows that she can do anything and she will not be moulded into what is expected of her.

The clock in the kitchen tick, tick, ticks away, echoing in the silent house, reminding the girl that she is disturbing the peace of the early morning, her presence like an unwanted gift, changing the natural order of the space surrounding her.

She casts her gaze outwards to the dewy mist of the early morning and softly whispers, "help me find the way."

At that moment, the boy opens his eyes. He is lying in bed a distance away, his thoughts racing with ideas and opportunities. For one minute, his thoughts take pause and turn to a girl he once knew and how she could be the missing piece to his puzzle.

The sun slowly peeks its head over the horizon as the boy and girl find a way to shut down their brains, switch off their thoughts, and rest their heads in their respective sleeping places. They think briefly of each other and how they hope to one day engage in a mutual encounter as they fall into a peaceful slumber.

{Post by Katherine Mackenzie-Smith, written to the theme “Restless” for The Storytellers}

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Katherine relocated from Brisbane to Sydney to work in television but discovered a love of writing and blogging along the way. She writes a lifestyle blog called Through My Looking Glass where she shares her love of photography, movies, life, music, and other inspiring beings... plus there is always a lot of talk about cake! Stop by some time and visit Through My Looking Glass, it would be great to see you!

Blog - http://throughmylookingglass.me Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/throughmylookinglass Twitter/Instagram - @miss_kms

{Image by Savannah Roberts, licensed under Creative Commons}

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And now for a review of Oh Suivant! by Emily Rose

OhSuivant-1The folks at Arts Centre Melbourne generously sent me two tickets to see Oh Suivant! recently, part of the amazing Summer Season lineup. Only problem was, I'd already made commitments for the same day. So along went Emily Rose in my stead, even though her cousin pulled out at the last minute and she had to go alone (yes I'm looking at YOU, Maggie). Thankfully, apparently the mother and daughter sitting next to Em both had curly hair, so she said it looked like she was part of a family and didn't stand out as a lonesome teenager!

Em loved the show, and even wrote this review to give the rest of us a little taste of what went on. She took these photos with her iPhone, minus the flash.

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Last Friday I was lucky enough to attend Oh Suivant!, a charming show, thanks to my lovely step-mum (or as I like to call her, my mamma Na.)

The show was an hour long, light hearted and wonderful comedic experience for me, and all of the delighted giggling children in the theatre. The two stars of the show didn’t utter a word for the duration of the performance but instead opted for expressing themselves through an array of musical instruments and of course, dance. The two performers were sure to include some rather unsure, yet willing and enthusiastic, fathers into the act. Also plucked out of the audience and included in the show was a very shy little girl who enjoyed herself immensely.

Although mostly funny and fairly simple, the male performer demonstrated some incredible talents that had the little girl next to me yelling, “Somebody help him, he won’t be able to get down from all the way up there!” On top of that, the female performer was a very talented piano player!

Oh Suivant! was completely wonderful, and I recommend it to all that are young, and young at heart.

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The Storytellers - Restless #1

"A very blustery day..." by Gillian Harrison

GH-BlusteryDayI blow into the yoga studio off the wild wind of the threatening summer storm. I figure it as good a day as any to return. I lie legs crossed on the concrete floor. The heaviness of the day echoes in my lower back as I replay a bustle of activity.

It began with teaching the children a new word. Blustery. The early morning wind blasted hot and turbulent and the children responded by poking sticks at each other. The ferocity in their tiny voices matched the power of the southwesterly while coloured silk wraps whipped about the mandarin tree in the playground, violent and captivating. Like wild snakes spitting and fighting for freedom.

It is this image that replays in my mind while I try to focus on the present. The Sanskrit wall hangings, the image of an elephant mother tending to her baby, the weaving bamboo plants. The reaching wooden tree sculpture, twisted, tangled and confused in its direction.

Then the first instruction comes softly: “Stand still and calm your mind”.

My limbs twitch and pulse, like the restless legs of pregnancy. My focus drifts away from the soles of my feet, my breath struggles to stay steady. The Mountain Pose gets the better of me.

I look upon movement in my life with fondness. Nomadic. Wandering. Fluid. Transient. Shall I move our family to Southern Italy? Or paint the bedrooms red? Restlessness signals the delicious stirrings of change

But while I yearn for the resonant hum of the Tibetan singing bowl which I know will signify that the end is near, I sense importance in this focus, in this deliberation, in standing still and I wonder if intentional living became the casualty of my thirst for movement.

Finally the storm kicks in beyond the glass screen doors. It is as wild as the wind promised it would be.

Yet I stand still. And I manage to breathe.

{Post by Gillian Harrison, written to the theme "Restless" for The Storytellers}

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Gillian Harrison is a contributing editor to Rhythm & Method. Gillian has a double major in Creative Writing/Philosophy which eventually led to a ‘real writing gig’ as Editorial Coordinator of a hippy lifestyle magazine. A bout of wanderlust lured Gillian to a teaching job in South Korea where the writing dream quickly faded into the polluted haze of the Korean peninsula.

Today, Gillian finds herself living in the world’s most isolated city and the town of her birth, Perth, Australia. She spends her days teaching, parenting and breathing air into her writerly self. Every now and then she dreams of throwing it all in and studying archaeology.

("Wind Costume" image: a late 19th century Japanese hand-tinted photographic studio portrait from the UK National Archives, licensed under Creative Commons)

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New series - The Storytellers

Fingerzwerge2I have been looking forward to telling you about this for SUCH a long time. New for 2013, I am thrilled to bring you a new occasional series on this blog, called "The Storytellers." What is it?

I have approached some of the best and most creative bloggers on the Internet and asked each of them to tell a story (or a fragment of a story) for you. I set the parameters of what constituted a 'story' as loosely as possible; I told them they might want to write a piece of fiction, some non-fiction, share a photograph or several, draw some pictures, make a film, write a song... in short, they were free to do anything they liked, as long as it could go on this blog.

Every few months, I'll give The Storytellers a new theme, and they'll create something or share something they've found elsewhere, for you. Their first theme is RESTLESS. Here is a teaser of what some of The Storytellers have created:

} end if, by Ruby Blessing Ada sighed. Some rebellion. Ever since the Red Hats took over, no one seemed to have fun anymore. And it was mostly her fault. Now she was left with the dubious title of Queen of the Revolution, with every coder in the city passing by her table to ask some inane scripting question just to say they had met her.

That restless feeling, by Rhonda Yanitsas We had our belongings scattered across Sydney and beyond... I didn't have everything with me and it felt strange. Everything was so temporary.

Insomnia, by Katherine Mackenzie-Smith The girl lies awake in the middle of the night, her mind abuzz with thoughts of the person she could be and all the things she could do. Sometimes she walks the halls of her parent’s house, trying to calm her mind, and sometimes she stares upwards, watching shadows of the outside world dancing on her bedroom ceiling in the midnight breeze.

A very blustery day, by Gill Harrison I look upon movement in my life with fondness. Nomadic. Wandering. Fluid. Transient. Shall I move our family to Southern Italy? Or paint the bedrooms red? Restlessness signals the delicious stirrings of change.

Are you longing, like me, to find out what happens next? There is much more to come from these and many other Storytellers. Stay tuned this time next week for the very first installment in this new series.

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Photo of practically perfect finger puppets (what a fantastic storytelling aid they would make, huh?) from Knecht Ruprecht Waldorf Dolls

ps. If you don't want to miss out on any of The Storytellers, you can subscribe to my blog to receive notification of them all, plus I'll send you a copy of my book Airmail in the post for free, and make it look pretty, like these

ps2. If you're in Melbourne, go here for your chance to win two tickets to see the amazing, beautiful, funny LEO live next week

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Travel envy

A guest post from Gillian of Ink Paper Pen. I'm so happy to introduce you to Gillian today. Not content with one blog, Gillian is an author on two: creative writerly Ink Paper Pen (fabulous community 5-min writing exercises every Wednesday if you want to join in), and down-the-rabbit-hole-esque Alice Becomes. On top of that, she manages to be a mum to two small boys. But most of all, Gillian is incredibly thoughtful, gentle and downright lovely. And I can personally attest to that!

On a Sunday afternoon not long ago, a group of friends and I were sharing a bottle of wine and a chat about the time we shared together in Edinburgh. I was moved by the reminiscing. Edinburgh is vibrant, beautiful and historical but I have a soft spot for it as it is where I met the person who became the father of my children and my partner. I found myself getting carried away in memories, trying to recall the names of our favourite bars, tiny pubs and restaurants. But my fond recollections were brought screaming to a halt when one friend began to scoff. “You were a lazy traveller in Edinburgh”. I looked at him, baffled, waiting for an explanation. “But you didn’t visit the castle” he continued accusingly, putting his glass down abruptly on the table. “You can’t go to Edinburgh and not visit the castle”.

My scolding friend went on a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle the day he arrived in Scotland.  But in the two years I lived in this glorious city, I didn’t think to officially “visit the castle.” Instead, I walked past it every day, loving the sound of my feet on the cobblestone streets of the city. I read books about the castle’s history while lying in The Meadows on warm afternoons.

I think travelling is an art form. People travel for different reasons. Escapism. Self Discovery. Work. Fun. Inspiration. Spiritual Pilgrimage. All of the above and more.

For me it is about the getting there. The movement. The sleeper train to Bangkok. The bus ride in Borneo. A ferry to Calais. You will find me staring out the window, dreaming and thinking and writing. Absorbing the new sounds, foreign words, different smells and tastes.

Others prefer a guided tour. A good friend and I travelled to Paris together a few years back and we were not a good travelling match. Arguments began over where and what to do. To keep the peace, I begrudgingly followed her up the Eiffel Tower. We reached the top and she snapped away on her camera, pointing out the bright sights of Paris as she went. I had lost my patience hours earlier, somewhere in the never ending lines and sea of snap happy tourists. I wanted to be on the ground, devouring cafe visits interspersed with the discoveries that can only come from wandering without a plan.

It’s funny. The approach to travel is different from person to person but the appeal of travel? Well, that seems to be universal. Most people I know are half way to Barcelona in their minds upon the first mention of Sangria.

This fascinates me. Why do we travel? I suspect it has something to do with the journey we take in our imagination beforehand. And of course the journey we take for many years afterwards. Perhaps embellished in our reverie. Does the reality of travel match the wonder of our imagination? People circumnavigate the globe, all alone, with only the sound of the ocean for company. Others cross deserts and dangerous lands for the experience of driving their motorbike overland. This is more than desiring a holiday.

I love the delicious anticipation and thirst of curiosity. The satisfying feeling that comes with knowing you are going somewhere. I love to stand alone, no longer defined by the people and places around me.

Why do YOU travel?

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Random acts of kindness

A guest post by Patricia Sands. Folks, meet Patricia Sands, wonderful author of The Bridge Club, and raconteur of all things French. I can't tell you how wonderful Patricia has been in giving me advice and inspiration for my family holiday in France. She is talented, clever and has a generous heart, and I'm so happy that she'll be bringing more of that positive energy to my very own blog.

My friend author Naomi Bulger is in France and Italy right now on a wonderful holiday with her family. I know they are having an awesome time making memories that will last a lifetime.  Naomi has such a quirky, creative eye and the ability to discover beauty in the most unusual places, I can't wait to hear about her adventures and see her photos.

I was delighted when she asked if I would contribute to her blog in her absence! Recently I wrote on my blog about random acts of kindness and was pleased to hear from so many of you. Obviously that subject is on the minds of many of us. In France the term translates as Gentillesse Gratuité - Free Kindness. I like that, don't you?

On November 13, they celebrate La Journée de la Gentillesse in France and the number of people participating each year is growing.

Apparently November 13, 2011, is now officially World Kindness Day, a day that encourages individuals to overlook boundaries, race and religion. According to modern psychology, altruistic acts increase our own happiness in a profound way.

The mission of The World Kindness Movement, introduced in 1988, is to inspire individuals towards greater kindness and connect nations to create a kinder world. The WKM encourages individuals of all nations to set up their own kindness movements and join the WKM. Currently, membership includes representation from France as well as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Dubai, England, India, Italy, Japan, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Scotland, South Korea, Thailand and the USA.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGUJnTGStsw]

Why can't we make every day a kindness day? I mean, wouldn't we all be a lot better off?  Let's each start our own personal movement right now and see where it takes us! Let me know how it's working for you and pass the message on.

If you go to www.giftofkindness.com you can order these cool cards.

Be the change you wish to see! La gentillesse a toujours du bon!

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Hawk Hill

A guest post from Brandi of Not Your Average Ordinary. Oh my, you are in for a treat today. You know those rare blogs that never cease to surprise you? On one day you'll find something inspiring to look at, the next, a journey through a dream, on another, practical and lovely ideas for work... That's what you'll find on Brandi's blog. To cinch the deal, this lady is also thoughtful and sweet. All of which makes me very happy to announce: Brandi is RIGHT HERE today. Hooray!

It was a place of fog and mist. On occasion, the sun broke through long enough to see the city that lay below, but this place belonged to the fog.

The path away from the iconic bridge and city led through a tunnel. The wind whipped around, as if time itself were being erased. All sounds were caught up and brushed into a corner, never to escape past the archways.

There, on the other side, were woods and an undulating landscape that looked like the western coast of Ireland: green, cliffs, and wide ocean.

The road wound in an almost dizzy way, but it wouldn’t matter. It wasn’t the road that was important; it was the fact that it hugged the coast, that it lead from one gorgeous scene to the next, that it was the place to watch the sun dip into the water. This place was one moment of a long journey.

This place is Hawk Hill, just north of San Francisco. It was one of the many stops on my long road trip from the West Coast to the East Coast. And it was where I fell in love with northern California. (I, of course, hadn’t even seen Napa yet.) The unexpectedness of it all caught me in my chest, and it still hasn’t let me go. Places between two worlds like this one are truly something special.

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Bright vision

This is a guest post from Deborah of Bright and Precious. I am so excited that Deborah has agreed to write a guest post here while I'm off gallivanting in Europe. I have known Deborah for more than 15 years, and she is one of the most passionate, creative and authentic people I have ever met. We lost contact for many years and when we found each other again, lo and behold she was the mother of two adorable children who fill her days (and nights) with more than I can imagine. You mothers will understand. Joy, exhaustion and great love in a glorious, chaotic mix. Am I right? I am thrilled to have Deborah back in my life, and introduce her family into yours.

Bright Vision

There was life in my belly. And I knew her name. I had known her name for as long as I remembered my own heart beating. It whispered to me in my in dreams. It crawled out of pages in books. It blew in with a blossom in the Spring breeze, landing itself on my window sill.

Bright vision.

So we adorned the house with warm and precious things. To signify her history. To herald her future. To celebrate her imminent presence. Texture, colour, smell, and sound. All swirled around us. And filled up our senses.

From my country of birth, the sweet smell of batik.

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And the gentle curve of teak wood.
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From my sister, the softness of a quilt.
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And from another sister, tokens from the sea.
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From my grandmother, a treasured book.
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From our garden, the scent of fresh blooms.
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From her father, a song.
And from me, a little Rose Garden.
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Then we were still. And with the grace of all her brightness, she stepped into the light.

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