Monika Schott PhD

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A life of 'oh wells' is greater than a life of 'what ifs'.

The captivating soul

Tall or short, thin or round. Blue-eyed, brown-eyed, maybe even one of each for a touch of the unique. Blonde hair, brunette, curly or shaved head, egg-shell or olive complexion, toned or not, big or small, great and immensely tremendous.

No, there’s got to be more, much more than the pink-iced façade studded in silver beads of sugar and laced in a string of fancy frosting.

Brash and brazen, shy and bashful … an observer, a chatterbox, a listener, a really good listener for sure. Now we’re getting somewhere. Accomplished in the art of listening is a necessity.

But more, there’s got to be more, something beyond the veneer of superficial.

A listener and conversationalist, the epitome of a good communicator who can express thoughts and ideas. And feelings. Justly and rationally, and with reason and a sense of justice and fairness. And with an ability to think on the philosophy of life and way up its nuances. Thoughtfully.

Someone that reads and can read to me and I to them. Head resting on lap, fingers twirling and swirling through hair. Sharing is caring after all.

Birds call, outside breezes through dreamy aqua sheers as a gentle confirmation.

Confident and self-assured, but positively not cocky. Not wanky or manky or any kind of minx ... no thanks, that’s just not for me.

One who is considerate and gentle, understanding of others and shows compassion for their needs. It comes with a kind, generous and selfless spirit, a giving without expectation. That’s true nobility, in the giving. Now we’re forming a picture.

The ability to be vulnerable too, with the capacity to manage that vulnerability as that shows full disclosure. Honesty. It’s an imperative that goes to the top. Honesty is the sexy. But so is the glint of cheeky grin and sharp wit, the super sexy.

The fun, there’s got to be fun and joy and laughter, and a sharing in that. Time at the beach, for walking, swimming and lazing. Kayaking and snorkelling, sailing and wind surfing, the adventure in trying the new, seeing the new through eyes of awe.

A crack of thunder, a hint of coming rain wafts through the window.

Travelling, discovering new places, exploring cultures and all that makes up our world environment, the extremes of heat and ice cold, and those damn elusive Northern Lights! Riding through snow in little visibility, or motor cycling winding mountain roads lined in green terraces of water and rice and humidity. The chance for real breath, savouring it all until it seeps in and becomes part of you, forms you as an ever evolving you.

Art and music, good food and drinks. Dancing, theatre, the chance for creativity to infuse any part of life and thinking you so desire, even in the simplest of things. Gardening and weeding, especially of the inherent and intrinsic. We all need it in our own way, as an appreciation of what is, and without the gluttony of the selfish.

And in the experiencing of all that together.

But, there’s more. There’s the sharing of the emotional that’s so vital. An emotional intellect. A sharing and understanding of the highs and lows, the distresses and successes. The bolstering and support. Mustn’t forget that, especially on those solo quests.

Rain washes in to define a picture more rounded.

And an appreciation and encouragement of independence. Independence to think and do, be the individual with an identity. And an independence to be found in the sharing as well. There’s such freedom in that, as the outstretched wings of the Pegasus. Wings unclipped.

It’s the kiss though, that’s the real cherry on top of the icing studded in silver beads of sugar and laced in a string of fancy frosting. The kiss that can tell all, express a feeling that can’t be defined. And the embrace that can hold the weight of the world.

That’s the gold gilding the cherry in a picture that’s simple really, of a most captivating soul.

 

 

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Farm Reflections: Gratitude

It seems fitting that finishing off my PhD research should come with a last Farm Reflection. I only wrote a few over the three years of the research and perhaps should’ve written more, but this last reflection is a most important one.

A dear friend sent me this quote when I began my research and told me to stick it on my wall in my office, knowing what only a few knew at the time, of the turbulent change occurring in my life. And so I did, stuck it right above my computer monitor so I could see it daily, or at least every time I looked up.

Part of me dismissed the quote though, as being some new age saying. I believed that hard, tough change could never be gorgeous at the end. Change was happening all around me and I found it anything but gorgeous. But I did realise fairly quickly that part of the change I had to make was to loosen my noose of independence and stop believing I could do everything myself. I had always been the solver of problems and issues in my ‘other’ work, and I was a mother working inside and outside of the home. I knew nothing other than being Ms Independent.

Undertaking research meant I didn’t have answers: the whole point of research was to find them. It meant I had to ask questions, and ask people those questions to find those answers; that meant asking for their help.

Interestingly and without realising, I’d put the quote beside another quote on my wall, about giving things a try. If ever I was being ‘told’, this was it: “Give it a try” whispered the heart. So with much effort, I began to ask the questions, and ask people to take time out of their day to help me. It was a tough mountain to climb.

Three years later, I have no idea how many people I have asked for help. Hundreds of people, I guess. And people have responded most generously, spending hours talking to me, sharing photos and other memorabilia, helping me to piece together the puzzle of the social history of the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm. My family and friends, supporting me to the finish, even when I had to disappear into a cave over the last six months to write up findings and finish by Christmas.

I’ve been able to write over 100 years of social history into a book and have enough material to write two more books at least. I don’t have any publishing details as yet, however I will share them when I do have them.

Even in the last weeks, after I finished my thesis and handed it in to the university for examination, people are still helping me to create a picture of the cricket team that formed on the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm in 1897, before the Metro Farm football team. Information on the cricket has been scarce until recently, but is now starting to form. It will most definitely feature in the second book.

The thing is, without the generosity of so many people giving their time and being patient to chat with me, even when I may have been a pest with a constant stream of questions and being pedantic with details, the work would not have been completed. It’s like there exists this band of pixie helpers who are invisible until I ask a question and then out they fly, from everywhere.

Generosity comes with kindness, and a willingness to help. The world can’t have enough of the stuff. Kindness and generosity are incredibly humbling too. I’ve often been blown away by people’s willingness to help and their patience and grace in doing so. It has inspired me to make the research count and that what is captured, is authentic and real. The harder I worked and the more questions I asked, the more obvious it became that documenting the social history of the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm was important to many.

The act of giving is so selfless, so sincere, warming and nourishing, and then to receive it …. it melts my heart, makes me gooey putty in anybody’s hands. Had I known this sooner, I would have learnt to ask for help a long time ago. In fact, if I could bottle it, I would. But I wouldn’t sell it. It’s too precious to sell. I’d give it away.

So, my public announcement here: my eternal and sincerest of most precious thanks to everyone connected to this research — the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm community, their families and friends; my university research team, family and friends; my special HDR writing group and fellow PhDers; organisations, the media, politicians, everyone involved that has supported me and the research, and who has an interest in the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm and its social history.

Thank you. Without you, we would not have captured a truly significant part of Melbourne’s history. We would not have been able to document the first social history of its kind of the community behind the making of one of Australia’s most important civic works projects in the 1890s and into the 1900s. And away from the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm, the work gives a new understanding of communities living isolated from broader society. The findings can be applied to any isolated community.

I'm most grateful for the time you've given me. It has been an honour working with you. You generosity and kindness has overwhelmed me at times, and inspired me.

I can vouch for change being hard and messy, but oh so, so gorgeous at the end.

I should add that the two quotes I mention sit next to another on my wall, about life being too short to not just go for it and never regretting anything that makes you smile. Life's too short for regret. And we all want to be happy. Life is all a learning.

And so on that note, I’m taking a break to explore and hopefully see the northern lights in the arctic circle.

Happy new year and I hope 2020 flares exceptionally for you.

 

NOTES

These Farm Reflections come from a PhD research project investigating a community that grew after the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works was founded in 1891 to treat Melbourne’s sewage at Werribee. As Melbourne grew, so did the work force to manage the treatment of the sewage, and a community of workers and their families grew to live on the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm. The population peaked to over 500 in the 1950s. The last family moved off the main part of the sewerage farm in 1984, while a few employees and their families lived on the boundary of the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm into the 1990s. However they lived as part of the main Werribee community.

The plant continues to treat Melbourne’s sewage and is now known as Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant.

For more information on the research project, please visit https://www.facebook.com/MetropolitanSewerageFarm

If you’d like to read other Farm Reflections, they can be found here:

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/farm-reflections-the-hickeys

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/farm-reflections-beryl

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/farm-reflections-a-faraway-land

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/farm-reflections-the-migrant-camp

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/melbung-smellee-welly-high

https://gr8word.com/index.php/entry/lands-faraway

Tagged: #Melbourne #MelbourneHistory #MetropolitanSewerageFarm #TheFarawayLandOfTheHouseAndTwoCows #WesternTreatmentPlant

Recent Comments
Ken Hartke
Well done and well said. And fitting as we close out one thing and start another. I find expressing gratitude to be a shortcoming ... Read More
Saturday, 28 December 2019 17:32
Monika Schott PhD
Thanks for acknowledging the importance of gratitude, Ken. I think we all can forget or get caught up in life and neglect to recog... Read More
Saturday, 28 December 2019 21:12
Stephen Evans
Congratulations on completing your research and best wishes for your next adventure!
Monday, 30 December 2019 14:45
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Farm Reflections: Lands faraway

Tennis courts may be covered over and croquet lawns have disappeared to overgrowth upon overgrowth, but the football pavilion still stands and dalliances within them and by the workshops nearby continue. No-one sees us, although some sense our presence.

The sports oval where football and cricket were once played still exists, even if smothered in a lush undulating dense of green. Goal posts stand on command at each end, serving the dual purpose of ventilation through their tops from pipes running below the ground’s surface. The reservoir is gone, the church and schools too. No abode or home exists or gardens well tendered or the cows that came with homes for milking. All are gone. In physicality, that is.

In the sublime of the underworld in this living ghost town of lands faraway, many breathe beneath the earth from where they once stood. Archaeologically, a sleeping beauty awaits her Prince Charming awakening.

Cheers to a life, wistful of lands faraway, in an honouring that's grounding, appreciating and trusting. In the extremes of the harsh to the supremes of the magnificent, the challenging and enchanting, all collected and padlocked in a tiny box of hearts and souls as jewels protected within, of the most precious … the jewel of the crown is life on lands faraway.

A town of living ghosts in a life at honey speed, a calm and peace unwavering in the howl of withering leaves. Crested cockatoos streaming between trees of bare, shrilling whistles of a time unmoved. Ghosts of yesterday dance in sleeping ruins, among flying spiders’ webs glistening in the glory of the day, and families living and playing in a vast back yard of lands faraway.

Drains where pumpkins once entwined the trunks of fruiting plum trees are now barren, date palms and cypress trees, pies at the football and beer behind the goals, a swig of whiskey at half time ... the intrigue of the water tank, cream lilies and milk coffee, fresh cheese from the milking ... aah, but all is fading now, the physical is dissolving, all are vanishing in lands faraway.

Yet it’s not gone, not this life in a ghost town oozing more spirited than the Mona Lisa, not even in the veil of isolation where mosquitoes gorge on the intoxicating imbue of twinkling dew and fat of fog. Of stockmen pulling up under apricot and apple trees for juicy sampling, of cannon balls in the swimming pool, sneaky peeks in the change rooms and bolting after stealing knickers … I’ll get you!

Playing cards into the might of the morning and raising money for those in need, men and women’s football … credit to the gals. Cricket, tennis and croquet, swimming in a land faraway.

Hinged in a haunting of melancholy is a place that once thrived, where homes of yesterday sleep in their tombs, and ashes of those passed over fly in the rising phoenix, beguiling ghosts to rejoice in their tales of yesterday. Wood chopped for the stove and to heat the copper, feeding the pigs and milking the cows, churning the cream and butter to a one-two, a chasse in the Pride of Erin.

Listen and you’ll hear it, a lifelong gloating gilded in gold leaf, a rose of gold of never-ending that connects souls over lifetimes. This space of breath is a vast expanse of clarity, of bounty, of beauty in perfect imperfection.

Cheers to a life in a living ghost town, a life at honey speed, wistful of what’s to come in lands faraway.

The air below thins, chokes in asphyxiating exodus. All families and kin are gone, all have left, all homes have disappeared. The hall sleeps peacefully by the swimming pool, two hearts beating as one, and all working in the old office have moved into a new building full of modernity. We follow them, our escapades above their beavering. Some look up at us and smile, wonder if we're really there.

All are gone. All jewels fall from crowns eventually. 

Up here, we gather in blissing glee, more illuminous by the week. We flock with the lost on a quest for this place of warmth, intrinsically weaved into the fabric of the dignified and honouring of this land faraway.

Jewels may fall from crowns, but they never fail to sparkle in the brilliance of a Milkyway of multi-faceted gems. Whether in a white, yellow, green or rose of gold setting, they shine a forever shine.

Cheers to a life in a living ghost town, in a life at honey speed, of a house and two cows and a land faraway.

Copyright

© Copyright Monika Schott 2019 Painting by Death and Life, 1910-15 — Gustav Klimt

Recent Comments
Anonymous
I love this Monika! I swear I could feel those ghosts even if I couldn’t see them!
Sunday, 30 June 2019 11:42
Monika Schott PhD
That's wonderful, thank you. ?
Sunday, 30 June 2019 20:05
Anonymous
Wonderful Monika - I've enjoyed following your work, it's brought life to something that once was! Thank you ... Read More
Sunday, 14 June 2020 21:31
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Intimacy.

The wipe of lipstick from the man you’ve just kissed, or who refuses the wipe to publicly parade his delight in the dalliance,

The time graced between two siblings to sit on a sunny afternoon and chat without boundary or brass and be in the deity of the day,

And the late-night message from a colleague you adore working with, giving you a last crumb of information that’s vital to your work …

Acts of intimacy are more than those shared between two people indulging in sex, no matter how sensual, passionate or lustful. It isn’t only within the tantalising kiss and touch in pulsing pep and pizzazz, teetering on the tips of goose bumps upon goose bumps. While wonderful and glorious and erogenously insatiable, intimacy is more than that. Much more.

Intimacy is in the sharing of toast in the tranquil of sunshine reflecting off aquamarine seas, and the chasing after your lunch partner’s napkin that’s blown onto the floor.

It’s in that ultimate kiss where the son smacks purposeful lips on his mother’s forehead, a symbol of protection and guardianship, and in her flicking through his shine and tangle of mess and curls for no reason other than him being close by. Because she can.

It’s in the exchange of clasped hands where skin on skin is silky soft as polished surfaces suctioning in secret, smoothed from any tiny ridges and valley patterns that may beetle from fingers and palms.

Intimacy is the powerful exchange between friends over late night text after a long, long day, in the knowing that they have your back. Always. It’s in the familiarity and friendship, affinity and affection.

Intimacy is at its most striking when a parent must carry a sick adult-son whose death is imminent, and the son giving in to his need for dependent care.

Deep intimacy when stripped bare, exposes vulnerability, as a heart skinned to its core. It’s an unconditional exchange that comes on the tail of desire to give, to protect beyond every conceivable boundary.

That can pose a risk and to some, it’s a huge peril they can’t overcome, or see as the waiting monster ready to latch onto their feet and drag them well down into the depths of despair. Opening up and being vulnerable to the intimacy unlocks a siphoning window to be sucked into hurt because of being exposed to feel and connect with others.

As with most things, stepping back to see what’s what, smelling the roses if you like or watching the severed tops of an old olive tree hacked back with a chainsaw to a few thick limbs coming off the smooth, grey trunk, stark of olives and foliage, watching it bask in the autumn sun as if reaching to nourish its new growth. Taking that pause to reflect … it’s one of the graces we’re gifted with that we sometimes forget we have.  

Appreciation. Introspection, being honest and grateful for days so full of everything, even if the everything is clogged in anguish or memories that bleed from shattered hearts as rain blanketing in thundering storms. Intimacy if it’s permitted, allows for a debauchery of vulnerability that can ripple into forever as the most glorious, fabulous and wonderful,

As the most intricate spider’s web laced in early morning dew,

And the first flush of begonias hanging as fleshy flowers like little chandeliers, in all shades of the artist’s palette.

The key is to be open to it, allow the intimacy to stream in. Accept the risk, for the rewards are immeasurable.

 

Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly.

Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile.

                    ~ Mark Twain.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
I love the way you take nothing for granted, Moni. No skidding across the surface of life for you! There's an almost superfluous j... Read More
Sunday, 26 May 2019 15:50
Monika Schott PhD
Thanks Rosy. It's one of those things where everything is worthy but no one thing is important. I learnt the hard way that nothing... Read More
Sunday, 26 May 2019 21:04
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Latest Comments

Rosy Cole Florence
17 June 2020
Thank you for your delightful comment. It is good to reflect on a way of life that has been lost.
Stephen Evans Florence
16 June 2020
Enjoyed this so much. Charming, evocative, and lyrical.
Monika Schott PhD Farm Reflections: Lands faraway
15 June 2020
Thanks Rosy. The story had to be told and I've been the fortunate person to be able to tell it. The ...
Stephen Evans Milton: A Limerick
15 June 2020
Helpful context
Rosy Cole Farm Reflections: Lands faraway
15 June 2020
Monika has taken us on a wonderfully illuminating journey, full of interest and humanity. We are so ...