Month: November 2017

Writing to Graduation – the Learning Life.

Have you ever scribbled a message of love onto a shirt? Signed your name? Left your mark? Well the Seniors of 2017 at Matthew Flinders in Buderim where I teach finished their year in style and celebration with a magnificent dinner, entertainment and speeches. I was one of the lucky ones to attend the well organised event where proud parents sat amidst the decorated tables of Houses like Bradman, Mawson, Chisholm etc. Even the prep teachers were there to congratulate some students who began at 5 years and finished at 18 years – a whole lot of valuable learning.


The next day at the College saw the final gathering of the troops in the Quad for a hearty brekky where staff, Seniors and their teary eyed parents waved them farewell in the sports centre and through the tunnel. This rite of passage is something to watch. The shy ones leave first as they walk past hordes of younger students waving them goodbye. Then the momentum builds up as students hug, slap hands, cry and joke with anyone who has impacted their schooling. There were tears, smiles and relief etched on their faces. Friends embracing friends; good memories and a positive finish.

With their uniforms autographed, and their sights set on departure, the Seniors left the grounds ready for more adventure and schoolies, but that’s another blog.


Prior to this special event came time for writing ¬†– when like minded souls met for the Sunshine Writer’s retreat at Montville. As a day visitor, I was armed with my trusty notebook, super organised program, camera and a good dose of curiosity and expectation. Arriving at the beautiful venue, Montville Country cabins I was lucky again to be a part of a very special group of people who are committed and passionate about their writing goals, illustrating projects and getting published.

Time to connect. Time to grow as an aspiring author. Time to explore new friendships in a tranquil setting and listen to professional speakers share their tips and writing lives.

From Samantha Wheeler and Karen Foxlee ( children’s book authors) to Wombat publisher Rochelle Manners, “How to secure a Publisher and Preparing a Pitch” with award winning author, Aleesah Darlinson to the witty and warm illustrator/ writer, Flaxton father Peter Carnavas ( who inspired us all with drawing penguins, listening to music and finding “the blue page”, all the participants took home so much learning. A lot of learning that celebrates creative storytelling.

I learnt more about “show don’t tell”, rules and regulations of publishers, submission processes, preparing a writer’s CV, the magical mystery of a good book for children, humour. I learnt about narrative structure, openings and storyboards. I heard about rejection letters, animal characters and cost effective social media.

I came away inspired, happily overwhelmed and ready to edit my stories. I came away with some new picture books in hand, the one above by Michelle Worthington called The World’s Worst Pirate¬†and met the author Tess Rowley who wrote a funny book about “bottoms” that my grand daughter loves to read ( see below left)

Thanks to the amazing and talented Aleesah Darlinson ( above right) and her vibrant volunteers and support network, this retreat was a marvellous success. Such enthusiasm is contagious. Spread the writing word!

November has this way of noticing things – the jacaranda blooms, the sparkle of Christmas tinsel, the strained look on teenager’s faces, the emotional pauses of writer’s block, the scent of natives growing in the gardens, home baked treats at a writing conference and the tiredness that creeps in when you are learning so much. I wonder if my head will explode – with new ideas, new projects and new expectations.


Reasons to smile

I started reading about the power of a smile and soon found many interesting insights. How was your day today? Did it bring a smile to your face? a frown or perhaps you are not sure.

When our brain feels good and tells us to smile, we smile and tell our brain it feels good and so forth. I know that it’s important to be happy, yet the simple act of smiling sends a message to our brains that we are happy. Our faces look brighter, friendlier and more appealing. Smiling can make others happy, so when I recently looked at the art exhibition by students at my College, I noticed the uplifting, positive faces that were painted by teenagers smiling back at me.


Now if that’s not a cheesy grin and wide smile, I am lifted in my mood instantly.

Seeing a friend smile can activate muscles in your face to make that same expression, without you even being aware that you are doing it. Crazy, right?


Isn’t this a beautiful portrait of a mother’s love? She’s not holding back her smile. Nor should we.

Smiling helps you de-stress.

Smiling can lead to laughter. Even watching a comedy movie when you are feeling down can relax your whole body.

Well, there’s a lot of science out there to explain what happens when we smile. I don’t want to go into that, except to share with you this gem of a quote, ” smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”

These bright paintings reflect the girl’s love of colour, pattern and design. How gorgeous.

A more dramatic piece, this picture was done by a twelve year old. Amazing.


I love the way he has painted the smile red. Eyes sparkle. No frowns. Positive energy.

Look at the angles, the wide mouth, teeth and eye balls! Makes you feel like dancing or celebrating. Hypnotic! Dazzling!

Now if we were to practise smiling in front of the mirror, it can invoke the emotion immediately of joy. I realise that some people are not comfortable with smiling and prefer to have less people drawn to them. Their faces are puzzled, sullen or sad. I like to think that what mother Teresa said is very true, that “we shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” reaches probably even further than imagined.



I find myself smiling and giggling a lot when I visit the grand children. They are cute and spontaneous, hiding in places that are obvious to see. Funny conversations we share bring smiles to my face. Sometimes during awkward moments, the little ones burst out with an unexpected phrase, and it makes you laugh. There’s beauty in a child’s smile, so much more than a threatening frown.

Imagine a day when you really concentrate on smiling at a stranger – it can have a real impact on their lives.

Now it’s the end of the day. Even though I am tired and ready to switch off from school things, I hope that you can be contagious when you are smiling tomorrow. Good luck!