Gone Fishin’

Well, camping ⛺️. 

I’m off tomorrow on a roadtrip with family to Central Australia. We’ll be gone a few days. I fly back from Uluru Friday next, returning just in time for placement. 

I’d say “follow along”, but it’s likely that there’ll be very little internet on the trip. I’m going to use it as a well-earned break! 

I’ll be taking plenty of photos which I’ll post in the days after I come back. So you can view them then! First up, here’s an intro to the subject of the photos (with my scarf, hat and bags): Womble Bear. I’ve had him since I was little and he’s going to be my travel bear 🐻 for the trip. 


See you on the other side! 

Life Admin….

Today I finished my mental health subject. I’m pretty pleased with my efforts. It was an intense subject, but so worth it. I’ve learnt so much.

I’ve got placement coming up in a few weeks and will spend tomorrow doing some work for that – thinking about learning objectives and so forth. I’m thinking they’ll be about the client base, assessments and interventions, communication skills and self-management.

I’m spending this evening doing a bit of work on life admin tasks.

I was reflecting yesterday, I really like where I live. We’ve got a little community here and it’s great. We share food sometimes and look out for each other. Some of the community have just left as they were only here for six or so months. Others will arrive in mid-July. But until then, us year-long stayers will continue. I’m lucky.

Have you tried out the Harry Potter celebration thing on Facebook yet, if you’re a Harry Potter fan? 20 years ago today, Philosopher’s Stone was released. (And this September 1st will be 19-Years-Later in-universe, the date of the Epilogue.)

Life is good for me right now. How’s yours?

 

 

Activity Scheduling and Stress Buckets

I’ve been busy lately. My current uni subject is coming to an end, and I’m also preparing for placement. I’m also balancing extra-curricular projects like MIV and LaTUCS. Not to mention going back to my hometown for work and finding time to actually relax, to spend time with my friends or boyfriend or just do personal projects for myself.

My OT course is helping, by giving me tools to explain how I feel/do things (we call these explanatory models), even as it’s stressful at times. There are life lessons I’m learning.

Like, remember to set realistic plans for the day. I might want to get something done in one day, but realistically it might take one and a half days study, or two. Case in point: last week’s assignment was more challenging to wrap my head around than I realised – giving myself a strict time pressure/deadline wasn’t helpful. I ended up feeling quite stressed. But I used my resources – I emailed my subject coordinator, knowing from past experience she’d know what to say to put my study into perspective. As well, my boyfriend came over for dinner, before we went out to a choir workshop we’d been invited to (that was the deadline). Talking things through with and being close to him really helped. It’s the little things.

I need to remember that as an overachiever (remember the impostor syndrome realisation?), given that humans have an inbuilt “negativity bias”, I’m going to be harsher on myself for not getting x, y, or z done in the time I like – even if overall I’m still travelling well. Case in point: this week’s study for the exam. I had wanted to get “this much” done yesterday, but was hampered by a bit of a slow start and felt pressured. I couldn’t seem to get going as much as I liked to, until late in the afternoon. I did manage to feel happy with the day’s work, in part because when I got into the groove I let myself go an extra hour because things were flowing, instead of stopping work at 17:00. Later that evening after chatting over Facebook with a few fellow students, I realised that my version of “not enough done today” was quite possibly different to theirs (we’ll see – we’re catching up after class today to study together).

In occupational therapy, we’ve learnt about several different models and ways of improving a person’s occupational performance and mental health. Some of these are commonsense approaches that OTs or other professionals have put a name to, or formalised.

Like the concept of Activity Scheduling, where you schedule your day so that important things get done as well as fun things. I use Google Calendar for this and have been doing so since high school. I didn’t know there was a name for it until recently though! Activity scheduling (called a “time grid” in the third principle of this article, which talks about other related stuff) can be used in a general organisational context (as just noted) or a more specific therapeutic context. For example, if someone is depressed, scheduling activities can help get things done. This is of course done in a graded manner – i.e. start off with one little thing, then build it up. More information can be found about it here. If you’re interested in it for that regard, talk about it with a trusted health professional.

Another concept is the model called, “Stress-Vulnerability Model”, first developed by Zubin and Spring (1977). It’s a model that uses symbols of a bucket/tank, rocks/etc., water and holes/taps to explain how each person has individual stress levels that are influenced by different factors – vulnerabilities, stressors and protective ones. People with more vulnerabilities generally have smaller “stress buckets”, because their vulnerabilities fill up the bucket first. When a person can’t manage their stressors, or doesn’t have enough protective resources, their stress bucket will overflow. That overflowing can mean different things for different people, but generally results in some sort of crisis – whether that be a relapse or increase in illness severity, or “just” an emotional outburst of tears or anger. Learning what one’s vulnerabilities, stressors and protective factors are can be useful, as a person can then learn how to manage those factors.

A visual description of the Stress-Vulnerability Model is below. For more information, see here (original model publication, rather wordy) and here (simpler explanation).

Very rough visual representation of the stress-vulnerability model. Stressors shown as raincloud over tank, protective factors are a tap on the tank, vulnerabilities are rocks in tank. Level of water in tank indicates level of stress.

Stress-Vulnerability link http://www.mhpod.gov.au/assets/sample_topics/combined/Risk_and_protective_factors/risk_objective_2/index.html

Meditation exercise link – smiling mind app https://smilingmind.com.au/

MIV2018 Fundraising

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Hi all.

Life’s been busy lately, as I alluded to last week.

Here’s another MIV update – a particularly focused one.

To recap what I’ve said before: intervarsity festivals bring together choristers from universities across the country for ten intense days of singing and socialising with a major concert at the end. My first festival, last year’s CIV2016, was one of the best experiences of my life and I made an amazing group of friends that just keeps getting bigger. Within the IV movement, I found my tribe. And I really want to help like-minded people find theirs. The IV movement is like one big family – we all have our little differences, which balance and complement each other. Within our IV family, people are free to be themselves. Sounds like a cliche, but I really believe it.

Atm, MIV2018 are launching a fundraising campaign. We have an ambitious target of $20,000, to achieve in four weeks. So tonight we have a Thunderclap to boost our notice. Want to support us in that? It’s suuuuper easy. Just click on this link, choose whether to support it with Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr or a combination, click support and done! It’ll post on your behalf at 18:00 AEST.

We also have a fundraising page over on Chuffed. Feel free to support us in that regard if you wish as well – there are perks which are outlined below. 🙂 If you don’t want to or can’t, no worries – but do you think you could pass the chuffed link on? That’d be fantastic. If you want more information about the IV movement in general or MIV2018 in particular, check out aicsa.org.au and miv.org.au respectively. Registrations for MIV2018 open soon – sign up to the mailing list if you’re interested!

I can’t wait until the festival. It’s going to be great! For another example of what IVs mean for people, read on below about my friend and fellow organiser, Alex.

Alex graduation.jpg
Meet Alex.
She’s been singing with MonUCS, her local university choir, for 11 years now. Alex joined MonUCS on her first day of university, and it changed her life for the better. Singing in a choir gave her confidence and a sense of achievement. When Alex heard about the Intervarsity Choral movement she felt a little shy but decided she wanted to attend a Festival, and her life changed forever. Alex has friends all over the country, an opportunity to travel, to sing, learn and spend time with passionate, like-minded individuals. Alex is a high school teacher now and shares her love of singing with her students.
To help other people like Alex discover the IV movement and find their voice, the Melbourne Intervarsity Choral Festival is planning to perform an ambitious concert in Melbourne Town Hall. The concert will offer the people of Melbourne a musical experience never heard before in Australia and will provide singers from universities around the country, Melbourne high schools and the wider community a chance to be a part of a groundbreaking, history-making performance. We’re passionate about our project, but we need your help.
Our goal is to raise a total of $20,000, and your help is invaluable! 
Our campaign starts now, and we’re offering the following perks to donors:
1. donate over $15 to receive a personal thank you in our concert program,
2. donate over $50 to receive everything in level 1 PLUS an exclusive MIV2018 tie-dyed tote bag,
3. donate over $100 to receive everything in level 2 PLUS the official MIV2018 live music CD,
4. donate over $250 to receive everything in level 3 PLUS an exclusive MIV goody bag.
5. donate  over $500 to receive everything in level 4 PLUS access to 2 of our VIP Concert Tickets for regular ticket price (Melbourne Town Hall has unallocated seating, so these are the ONLY tickets that guarantee you access to prime seating in the stalls),
6. donate over $1000 to receive everything in level 5 PLUS 2 free VIP tickets, PLUS a program signed by our musical director and soloists.
The two highest donations received will get a personal meet & greet with our soloists, musical director, and festival convenors after the performance.

 

MIV2018 Update!

Hi all. The 11th of June has come and gone (seven months until the Festival! O.O 😀 ) so here’s another MIV2018 update. Yay!

Firstly, in terms of my own role, there have been a few “secret-social-organising” things that have occurred. Secret because they’re not cleared for release by committee yet! 😉 Let’s just say they involve emailing people, visiting places and coordinating arrangements. I can’t wait!

The MIV AGM is coming up, with a social event (which I created the description for) afterwards. If you’re in Melbourne and interested in singing and festivals, why not come along?

More from me at the bottom.

______________________________________________________________________________________

From the Convenors’ desk…

It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. It feels like winter is here to stay, but fear not! MIV and the summer of ’69 is only seven months away!

This month, we have some really cool news for you. A huge amount of work is going on behind the scenes to organise an amazing festival. Without further ado, we’re incredibly excited to reveal some of the repertoire for MIV18.  

We can’t tell you everything just yet (life needs a few surprises, after all), but we can tell you that we will be performing Parry’s I Was Glad, Vaughan Williams’ Toward the Unknown Region and Brahms’ gorgeous Alto Rhapsody (Alex would like to remind you all that altos are 1000% worth rhapsodising about). Standing on stage in the Melbourne Town Hall, backed by the beautiful Grand Organ, these pieces are going to be an absolute blast to sing and we can’t wait to have you there with us. 

Excited yet? Head over to our Facebook or hit us up on Twitter #MIV2018 to let us know what you think! 

Warming up your winter!

Come one, come all! The thermostat’s dropping, the mornings have acquired the crisp chill that heralds the turning of the season. So we’re stoking up the fire at Ella’s and settling in for a good night. There will be a selection of boardgames on offer as well as hot food and drink on hand to warm you up – BYO favourite winter treats and/recipes to cook up a storm 🙂

Let’s eat, drink, create and be merry. The longest night of the year has passed, exams are over for the semester, the first concert season completed – what more could we ask for than to gather with friends?

RSVP today! We can’t wait to warm up with you.

Peace and love,

Alex and El xoxo

________________________________________________________________________________________

I haven’t written anything for over a week and that feels weird. I’ll have to schedule a few posts. But it’s going to be a semi-regular occurrence for the next little while potentially. I’m busy with uni stuff. Come July, that will be placement, where I travel an hour each way and have full eight-hour workdays (including lunch break), full-time for four weeks. So we’ll see how things go. Also, the last few days of June and the first week of July (riiight before placement) my family are going on a road-trip holiday. I hope to take lots of pictures and so on, but it’s likely that I won’t be able to upload them or write about them on here until we get back. I’ll post more about that before I leave.

Now, I’m tired. Goodnight!

Changing Seasons

The other day, I made reference to a calendar for seasons in Australia. I wasn’t entirely happy with it because the only one listed for Victoria had its position in Gippsland. I wanted to find a Melbourne/other one and I have now, sort of.

See this link: Gott, B. (?date published?). Seasonal Calendars for the Melbourne AreaSeasonal Calendars for the Melbourne Area.

Interesting stuff and it makes sense, even if it’s a bit outdated (parent website’s “Modern Victoria” section still lists Melbourne’s population as 3.2 million… it’s 4.5 million plus now).

Anyway, Victoria has six or seven seasons. A graphic explaining these is below (with its text underneath), all taken from the website, which has a lot more detailed information. It’s talking about information collected a while ago, so things may have changed since. These seasons aren’t set in stone or always going to be as below. Last year, “True Spring” was not very warm, for example. But it’s still a reasonable “Australian Seasons” calendar.

Seasons for Melbourne

High Summer: November to January. Warm to hot; native grasslands grow tall and set seed. Birds feed their young.

Late Summer: February to mid-March. Hot, humid, thunderstorms. Grasslands dry out; high fire danger.

Early Winter: mid-March to May. Cool, still and misty. Birds flock and migrate north. Fungi growing.

Deep Winter: June to mid-July. Cold, wet; rough seas. Visits from Antarctic birds.

Pre-Spring: mid-July to August. Warming. First flowers. Birds begin nesting.

True Spring: September to October. Warm, wet, windy. Abundant flowers and insects.

Fifty Years Ago…

I’m a few days late with this but needed to say something anyway.

On May 27th 1967, Australians voted in a referendum to change how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were referred to in the Constitution (including granting them the right to vote and be counted in the census). Over 90% of those who voted in the referendum voted, “Yes” – the highest “yes” vote ever recorded in an Australian referendum.

Last Friday, May 26th 2017, the summit at Uluru rejected ‘symbolic’ recognition in favour of a treaty and a constitutionally enshrined voice in Parliament.

See this link for a great resource of history leading up to the referendum, what happened after it and where to now. I’m going to find time to read/watch/listen to them all (I’ve just skimmed a few for now). http://www.abc.net.au/rightwrongs/

Another excellent article is linked here, from The Monthly, making the point (as I discuss below!) that “all such attempts [at engagement] must start with a genuine effort to listen” and providing some voices to listen to. The quoted text below comes from the Uluru Statement From the Heart and deserves to be read in full.

“We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard.”

~ Uluru Statement from the Heart

 

I am conscious that as a white Australian, I need to listen to the stories of Indigenous Australians – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – and hear them, to amplify the stories. It won’t be comfortable but it will be powerful. See this link for an example of what I mean. Let’s practice dadirri, a Nauiyu Aboriginal practice of “inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness….There is no need to reflect too much and to do a lot of thinking. It is just being aware.” The example of dadirri given in the link above is in a health context and speaks to me. In order for trust and relationship to be built, we have to let go of our own ways of doing things and listen to the ways of others. To find the common ground. From the article:

“DADIRRI HAS TAUGHT me to let conversations move at the pace of the heart, so pain and complexity can bubble up without being stymied by a hasty solution. It has taught me to let stories leave an impact, to alter me as the tide alters a shoreline. Held in the boundless embrace of two humans connecting deeply, I have learnt even the most awful stories can find an inexplicable buoyancy, a possibility our hurting nation desperately needs. Aboriginal men and women have redefined what listening means to me, and given me a glimpse of what ‘reconciliation’ could really mean.

….

As non-Aboriginal Australians we must learn to listen to things we find difficult to hear. We need to stop interrupting and speaking over Aboriginal people, slow down and enter the deep stillness that will help us to hear something new. If we held open the connection long enough, the full, complicated story could come tumbling out, and we might experience the buoyancy and hope that comes when humans truly listen to one another. There, in that inestimable space of human connection, we might finally begin to reconcile.”

Please read it and the other links in full. There’s so much good stuff there.

Here are a few other links I found over the past few days too:

Songlines – the Indigenous memory code: I’d known before about the way songlines were and are important as memory-aids. I hadn’t thought about applying it myself. Maybe I should….I love song and my memory isn’t the greatest at times.

Indigenous weather knowledge site (Gariwerd calendar): Indigenous peoples have a different understanding of weather seasons. Perhaps wider Australia should adopt them too. There are different weather calendars for different parts of Australia, too. Gariwerd is the one listed for Victoria…. six seasons. We’re in Chunnup right now.

Finally, it seems appropriate to end with this song: Treaty.

 

 

 

Recipe: Beef Parmigiana

Brr. Winter is nearly here in Australia and the past few days have shown it! When the sun’s out it’s nice but when it’s not it can feel quite cold. The trend is set to continue this week, with tomorrow only reaching a top of 12*C in my suburb. Bet my hometown’s colder!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe post. I have been cooking – just haven’t been able to write them down. I want to fix that but it’s a work in progress…at the bottom of my priority pile atm. Anyway.

Two cooked beef parmigianas in oven tray. Cheese has melted thoroughly - some is stuck to the bottom of the oven tray. Tomato salsa is visible in patches

Makes my mouth water just looking at it!

A while ago – as in, about a month ago – I spent the day with my boyfriend. We decided to have parmigiana for dinner – but as I pointed out, we’d had chicken as part of our lunch. So we used a beef schnitzel base instead. Then my boyfriend had the idea of using tomato salsa instead of plain tomato sauce/paste. It turned into a very yummy dinner.

Ingredients:

  • Veggies, to serve with the parma
  • Beef schnitzels
  • Tomato salsa/paste
  • Cheese – we used pre-packaged grated tasty cheese
  • Other flavours if you want, especially if using tomato paste not salsa – saw a recipe online where someone added onion to theirs & seasoned it with salt & pepper

Tools:

  • Frying pan
  • Oven dish
  • Spatula
  • Tongs

Method:

  1. Fry beef schnitzels to pre-cook them
  2. When finished, remove from pan and place in oven dish (preheat oven to 180*C)
  3. Spread tomato salsa thickly over schnitzels, then top with the cheese – remember that you want the salsa and cheese flavours to be balanced with each other
  4. Place oven dish in oven and cook for 30 mins or until it looks done
  5. Cook veggies while this occurs, though you’ll probably start them partway through the schnitzel-cooking time. We used peas, carrots and potato, but you can use any veggies you like.
  6. When cooked, assemble onto plates.
  7. Eat and enjoy!
Beef parma on a plate with boiled carrots, potato and peas - parma is on the left and has a dollop of extra sauce & melted cheese on top, with veggies on the right of the plate.

Mine, all mine…. so good.

MIV2018 Update – Fundraising Alert

Hi, all. In my role as Social Secretary for MIV2018, I’ve been doing a bit of organising. Two in-festival social events are in the planning stage of “venue-booking”, while another is in the “negotiate details” phase. Pro tip: if someone’s taking a while to get back to you, ring them. It might be the fault of an overzealous spam filter. 😉 Now all I have to do is wait for people to get back to me on my most recent round of enquiries and start preparing for the next pre-festival social event.

That event will be at the end of June, after our AGM. Should be good.

Around that time there’s another deadline that approaches. I should’ve blogged this two (or three) weeks ago, but anyway. We’ve set ourselves an ambitious target of raising $20,000 by the end of June, in order to make our biggest festival dreams viable. Yikes! It’d be a great help if you could donate even a little bit and/or share the heck out of the following link to our crowdfunding page: chuffed.org/project/miv2018. There are rewards attached for donations over certain amounts.

From the Chuffed page:

“We’re creating the musical experience of a lifetime

….

Music is capable of just about everything. It can create joy, set the soundtrack to our lives, and brings people together in a way nothing else can.

However despite all the spectacular things music can do, funding for the arts is always a challenge. The Melbourne Intervarsity Choral Festival (MIV) is aimed at, but not exclusive to, university students. This provides an extra challenge as many of these talented young people are strapped for cash at the best of times.

We’re not just a bunch of students. We are so much more. We are musically directed by world renowned conductor, Patrick Burns. Supported by a remarkable Melbourne Orchestra, and accomplished Alto Soloist. No spoilers, but our final performance at Melbourne Town Hall will feature the Australian premiere of a work by an acclaimed composer.

Here’s our plan

We’re fundraising. Plain and simple. We’re chasing the money, doing the hard yards, with the aim to get every university chorister who wants to attend the festival to Melbourne in January 2018.

Get ready for us Melbourne, we’re coming.

So far we have been supported by the City of Melbourne, Grill’d Local Matters and Bunnings Warehouse. But we’re not done yet, we need to do more, and we need your help.

What difference can you make?

With 200 singers flocking to Melbourne, we have a lot to do! Accommodation to organise, sheet music to purchase, rehearsals to run, celebratory dinners to create, and artistic personnel to pay!

Freshers (students who have never been to an IV festival before) can join us for $250, concession for $550, and full fee at $750. YOU can join us if you’re interested at miv.org.au.

But if you’re not a singer and still want to help us out, we appreciate donations of any amount to support this enormous musical endeavour.

$10,000 will pay for our wonderful soloists.

$20,000 will finance our orchestral accompanist.

$30,000 will allow us to significantly lower our student prices.

And here’s some cool perks you can have for supporting us

Over $15: A MASSIVE thank you from the MIV 2018 team, and the immense satisfaction for helping our dream come true! PLUS a personal thank you in our concert program.

Over $50: Everything for $15 and over PLUS an exclusive piece of MIV merchandise

Over $100: Everything for $50 and over PLUS the official MIV2018 live music CD

Over $250: Everything for $100 and over PLUS an exclusive MIV goody bag full of…..shhhh spoilers!

Over $500: Everything for $250 and over PLUS access to 2 of our VIP Concert Tickets for regular ticket price. Melbourne Town Hall has unallocated seating, so these are the ONLY tickets that guarantee you access to prime seating in the stalls.

Over $1000: Everything for $500 and over PLUS access to 5 VIP tickets OR 2 free VIP tickets, PLUS a program signed by our musical director and soloists

Two highest donations: Personal meet & greet with our soloists, musical director, and festival convenors after the performance.”

As I’ve probably mentioned before, music and singing is a massive part of who I am and want to be. So much heart and soul are going into MIV2018 to make it the best it can be and it would mean the world to me if you’re able to contribute and share. “From little things, big things grow” and all that (with apologies to Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody). Please? 😀

Sign up to the MIV mailing list here: miv.org.au/#signup

Btw, here’s a lovely little video (if I do say so myself) of my choir concert last night. Enjoy!

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FLaTUCS%2Fvideos%2F1385991518104171%2F&show_text=0&width=400