Strategies for Intentional Living 1 – Morning Pages

As part of my meanderings around the idea of slow living, I have been listening to Brooke and Ben Macalary’s Slow Home Podcast. A lot of what they talk about resonates with me. “Slow” living is a loaded phrase. It has connotations of laziness or “dropping out” attached to it which might be hard to accept especially for people like me who prefer to be “busy”. Brooke suggests another label for slow living.  She says many prefer to think of it as intentional living.

What is intentional living?

Intentional living means that you maintain a lifestyle that adheres to your beliefs and values and you don’t just live on autopilot. Rather than floating along with the dominant culture’s tide, you steer your own boat. My values include reducing my consumption, a value shared by many, but not supported by the dominant culture of capitalism. “Culture” wants to buy lots and buy often. I am digging this groove because while I’ve been living “fast”, I have been living intentionally for some time. I have worked on my life’s purpose, I have values and beliefs which I stick to. 

Curiosity about how other people live intentionally sent me down an internet vortex. There is plenty out there on the interwebs about this topic. Looks like I wasn’t late to this party, just that I have been partying in the dark for a while! Label-less!

How do other people “do” intentional living?

In one pod episode,  Brooke describes her morning routine and refers to “Morning Pages”. The idea intrigued me. Like Brooke, I aim to get up early. In summer, I usually do some exercise in an attempt to beat the heat and humidity. In winter,  It’s hard to get the runners on when it’s dark and cold, so it’s more likely that I will settle down with a cup of tea and do some writing. Morning Pages might be my thing.

Morning Pages

Morning Pages were “invented” by Julia Cameron back in 1992. The idea is that you write three sides of standard US letter paper (A4 for us Aussies!) first thing in the morning before you do anything else. It’s a stream of consciousness style of writing. Just write the things that pop into your head. Don’t censor it, don’t stop to think, just write. The first thought that comes into my mind is that it’s a waste of one side of a piece of paper! The rule about “before you do anything else” is so you capture your thoughts before they are waylaid by the realities of the day.  

Thinks to self: I’m presuming it’s OK to pee but NO cup of tea? That’s a bit extreme.

After you’ve written your three pages in longhand you are supposed to throw them out. This way you are free to write anything without the fear of someone else reading your private thoughts.   Frankly, I hope that someone will, one day, actually read my scribbled, illegible journal notes! I leave them messages! Sometimes I laugh out loud at my little notes to a future reader! Such wit and humour!!  

Journalling vs Morning Pages.

Stream of consciousness scribbling can lead to the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the writing rainbow. First, you write draft zero, get all the rubbish out of the way and then you *might* find the pot of good thoughts. Your flow hits the perfect viscosity. I often experience this when I am out running or walking. A great story idea pops into my head. sometimes I’ll stop and record a breathless voice message because invariably, I have forgotten the said brilliant idea before I get home!

I have used my own photos to order unlined books through Photobook Australia.

I keep a journal,  so far I am up to Volume 10.  I use an A5 hardbound notebook with unlined pages and write in pencil although I don’t write in it every day. It’s a hotchpotch of shopping lists, to-do lists, ta-da lists, ideas for blog posts, self-recriminations, summary notes I’ve taken while listening to online courses or Youtube. It serves as my travel diary. It even holds some deep dark secrets! I’d love to be able to decorate it with beautiful sketches and calligraphy but doodles are as far as I go in the artistic department.

I don’t want to throw my jottings away!  My first intentional decision then is to stick to journalling.  My journal serves a similar purpose. One day I’m hoping some of my descendents will read it and say “What a funny old chook Great Grandma was, I wish I had met her!” Through the pages of my journal, I think they can. 

Furious Fiction 19 – January 2021

Furious Fiction banner

This story was meant to wrap up in December 2020, but the trials of Frankie are far from over. Once again I have entered a chapter of my now serialised novel in the Australian Writers Centre’s Furious Fiction competition.

The Furious Fiction short story competition is serious fun and I recommend it to anyone who likes creative writing. Only 500 words with a prize of $A500. I’ve given up on writing for the prize, now I am just trying to write my story. The plot twist fairies and the prompts are not helping me get to the end. Once again it runs on directly from the last instalment so read that first.

The criteria for Furious Fiction this month were:

  • Your story must begin at sunrise.
  • You must use the following words somewhere in your story: SIGNATURE, PATIENT, BICYCLE.
  • Your story must include a character who has to make a CHOICE.

This month’s Furious Fiction stats:

This month I submitted the story at 10:15 AM on Sunday. I started thinking about the story soon after the prompts came out on Friday night but did not start writing until Saturday evening about 6 PM. Then lots of tweaking on Sunday morning. 499 words.

The Biker’s Alarm App.

These days EVERYONE used the *amazing* Biker’s Alarm app. It went off an hour before sunrise automatically factoring in the daily astronomical variation. It gave a weather forecast, a half-way warning based on time, AND you could choose your favourite bike-related song for the alarm! These wonders of technology disguised some of the less palatable aspects of the app. 

This morning, like every other morning, O’Mallory was jolted from his restless half-sleep by Queen’s “Bicycle Race”, and despite his oppressive fatigue, his feet slapped on the floor enthusiastically. There was no way on God’s Earth O’Mallory was ever going to miss a single legal opportunity to wear coloured clothing!  As he pulled on his purple leggings and gold jersey, the Judge sang his favourite line of the song;  

“You say black; I say white!” and chortled at his courageous rebellion.

The ruling Ultra Conservative Party, which prohibited the wearing of anything other than black, white or grey clothing, had paradoxically exempted cycling gear. Although touted as a health initiative, most people knew it was a paper-thin excuse manufactured by duplicitous Middle-Aged Male politicians who fancied themselves In Lycra!  

In the end, it didn’t matter why the UCP let you ride in coloured lycra, they did.  *Everyone* in the country now had a bicycle, and the nation had never been fitter! 

O’Mallory unlocked his Bluetooth bike lock by agreeing to the App’s T&Cs from his phone. 

  1. Colour permitted forty minutes either side of sunrise. 
  2. No dismount for any purpose except to repair a flat tyre. 
  3. Maximum of four riders in any group. 
  4. No motorised traffic other than bicycles allowed. (Essential services excepted) 

Non-compliance: $5000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment. 

With an 80-minute window, there was no stopping for a coffee or a chat like in the old days. McDonald’s, never missing an opportunity, modified their drive-through so you could pedal-through and refill your reusable McGoCup with their signature McSunride brew.  

Mobile coffee vans pivoted to become tyre repair stations with all the gear an *unlucky* rider might need to fix a puncture. You could *guarantee*  a flat tyre every time you rode over a *particular* nearby spot.

Riding quietly, O’Mallory thought about his next mutinous steps. Armed with evidence, thanks to Frankie; it was time to act!  He’d been patient long enough. 

So engrossed by thoughts of sedition, O’Mallory didn’t notice the whisper-quiet Tesla creeping up behind him until it was too late.  The tinted windows gave no clue to whom was inside, but a  non-essential vehicle on the road at this time of day only spelt trouble. 

He rose in the saddle to pedal faster and negotiate the last hill before home, but as he rattled down the other side at breakneck speed, the Tesla broadsided him. 

In that nanosecond,  O’Mallory had to choose between going over the bonnet or under the wheels; either way, it wouldn’t end well for him.  

As he soared over the bonnet, he looked back to see the door open and saw …

Furious Fiction 18 – December 2020

Furious Fiction banner

Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction

December Furious Fiction? Already? Or from another point of view: “is it only December? When will this year be over? The year has simultaneously sped past and dragged on. Here is another instalment in Frankie’s story.

I had a story arc roughed out but as I was writing this story my “pantser” mind took over and created a plot twist. Pantser being a term used by writers to describe those who write the story “by the seat of their pants” compared to plotters, who plot things out carefully.

I wanted to finish it this month so the end of Frankie’s journey coincided with the end of the year.

Sigh…

This Month’s Prompts

This month the prompts for Furious Fiction were.

  1. The first sentence could only be three words
  2. You need to include the words rose, palm and match (or variants of like matched)
  3. You need to include a gift of some kind.

The Furious Fiction short story competition is serious fun and I recommend it to anyone who likes creative writing. Only 500 words with a prize of $A500. I’ve given up on writing for the prize, now I am just trying to write my story. I’m getting closer to the end!

This story runs on directly from last month so you might want to read that first.

The Stats

This month I submitted the story at 9:00 PM on Sunday. I spent about an hour on Friday afternoon, then 2 hours on Saturday morning and a rough polish on Sunday before submitting as I was out all weekend. 491 words

Thomas Ball takes a leak

“Who are they?”

“Dorchester and Williams,” Frankie said casually as he put down his beer. 

O’Mallory nearly fell off his chair. “DORCHESTER and WILLIAMS? His voice rising in a whispering shout.

“Yes-sir-ree! Prime Minister Dorchester here in the rose lamé number and his Deputy Williams in the nice peacock blue chiffon,” Frankie said pointing to the photo.

“Shhh…!” O’Mallory looked around the bar while simultaneously trying to melt into the plastic palm tree propped against the wall.

“Classic ‘80s D&G. Really, it was a  bit over the top for the occasion! It took me a bloody long time source those outfits and they wasted them on some small-time Party Conference. Bloody poseurs those two! No fucking class! ” 

“Do you think they’ll still have them? Tucked away in their wardrobes?”

“Maybe, it’s a bit risky and there *was* the *Second Purge Amnesty*. It would have been safer to toss them then onto the big public fires and make a song and dance of their righteousness. It doesn’t matter, there are plenty more photos where that one came from. Either way, those bastards are gonna pay for those years I’ve lost, ” said Frankie stabbing the image with his finger, “Fucking hypocrites!”  

O’Mallory’s face contorted with guilt as his part in Frankie’s incarceration flickered through his mind. Frankie took another deep, calm sip to drain the glass and as if reading O’Mallory’s mind he said, 

“You were only doing your job, Guv’ner. But not these bastards! They came up with the whole crummy scheme!”

“That’s very gracious of you Frankie, I am sure not everyone I’ve sentenced would match your generosity. How much do we owe you for the evidence?” 

“Nada! Think of it as a gift. Just do what you need to do to get these pompous gits out of the House.”

O’Mallory looked at his watch and put the photo back in his pocket. “I have to go, I’m meeting with the others. Listen to Question Time tomorrow. It should get interesting. 

The men shook hands, “ Thanks Frankie, the Nation will thank you tomorrow.” 

That whole exchange, the entire process of getting the evidence to topple a corrupt government had taken less than 10 minutes.  It was then that O’Mallory realised that Tom Ball the journalist, and Frankie’s minder, hadn’t come back from the toilet.  He’d been gone the whole transaction. Odd? 

As he stepped from the un-palatial Mumbai Sapphire to the grubby street, the bright white lights of a garden of video cameras dazzled O’Mallory’s eyes,

“Justice O’Mallory,” the reporter barked as he thrust the microphone forward, “is it true that startling new photos *supposedly* compromising the position of our National Leader are in fact, photoshopped deep fakes?” 

O’Mallory pushed through the pack of reporters. “No comment,” he shouted.  

O’Mallory’s mind whirled. How did they even know about the photos? Was Ball a leak rather than just taking a leak?  Had he played them for suckers?


Final episode next month! (maybe!)