Monika Schott

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A life of 'oh wells' are greater than a life of 'what ifs'. I write to express life in all its glory, to spark thinking … I love to swim outside, practise hot yoga and hit the boxing studio. I'm currently undertaking a PhD research to capture the social history of the community that lived on Melbourne's first sewerage farm. I've had several short stories published, my latest being 'The Teacher' in 'These winter months'. I was short-listed in the Ada Cambridge Prize, won the inaugural Wyndham Rotary Arts Small Business Award and have a Masters of Communication where I looked at boys and reading and what it is they like to read.

Sugar and spice and all things nice

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What are little boys made of?

Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails

That's what little boys are made of!

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice and all things nice

That's what little girls are made of!

~ Early 19th century poem

Such garbage! I’d take a guess and say that a female wrote that, a female without understanding of people as human beings.

Speculative interpretation suggests that ‘snips and snails’ was probably written as 'snips of snails', meaning 'little bits of snails'. This past week has shown me that boys are certainly not made of bits of snails and puppy dog tails, although puppy dog tails are cute. Boys are sugar and spice and many things nice, just as girls are. And both are sprinkled with bits of snails and puppy dog tails.

Boys versus girls, it’s all rubbish. It’s the individuality of the person that matters - what we each like, what our individual strengths are and what makes our heart sing even when we can’t hear a whisper of a tune. We all have them. A quality that one person exudes in truck loads, another can lack, and vice versa. It’s the way our own hearts and minds work that matter. It’s something witnessed so obviously by not only me this week but by so many others as a crowd of about two thousand sat at an awards and speech night. Such celebration for a young man with a level of learning challenge awarded for his IT knowledge and capability that almost roused a standing ovation. It was hard to believe that only a few years ago, he was alienated because of his learning ability.

If we allow boys and girls to be who they inherently are without expectation and without forcing our own desires upon them, desires that often stem from our own long, unfulfilled needs, they will bloom into who they’re meant to be.

I say this as a parent of three boys; happy, healthy and hard working boys that achieve in what matters to them. I always say to my boys, ‘work hard at what you love, and you’ll get there. You’ll achieve. Nothing is given on a platter.’

Although sometimes as I put those words into practice and feel as though I’m getting nowhere in reaching my own goals, I wonder what wisdom I spruik! But ultimately, it’s true. You work hard and believe in what you’re doing, and you’ll get there, step by step, micro-millimetre by micro-millimetre!

I may not like what one son likes, but it doesn’t mean I don’t support him in what he does. I don’t like football and yet two of my boys play the sport. I tell them I don’t like it and they say I don’t need to go to the game and watch them. But I tell them that I want to be there as it is important to them. They quietly appreciate that. And so I go and watch attentively, so much so that I find I'm holding my breath when they fall to the ground and don’t move for what may feel like minutes but which may only be a few seconds.

I support their explorations of likes and dislikes, as long as it’s not harmful to them or others, and I’m always there to help them up when they fall. Allowing them to fall is part of the growing.

We all fall down and the burden is less so when someone is there by our side.

That’s why this week, I sat in the audience at my boys' school awards and speech night as one son gave his School Captain’s address in the lead up to my second son being announced as school captain for next year.

A bit of sugar and spice and all things nice is the nourishment that everyone’s soul needs.

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
I can't think any nursery teacher dare introduce that rhyme (which was a feature of my childhood!) without having the local PTA do... Read More
Friday, 24 October 2014 12:54
Monika Schott
Thanks Rosy. There are many other nursery rhymes that scream prejudice! At least we can see that! M
Sunday, 26 October 2014 18:24
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Jewels from the kitchen window

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As I stand by the kitchen sink looking out into the dawn of a Sunday morning, an orange and green twinkle of a diamond enchants me. It’s a brilliant twinkle amongst a smattering of gems that dance throughout the backyard; day in, day out.

Opals of spring blossoms that emerge at the birth of a child, splashes of glistening aquamarine in a blow up pool and moonstone prints made by excited children that sit on the concrete path after hopping out of that pool.

Sometimes, a sea of birthstones congregate and dazzle at night as people gather to celebrate a birthday or a bon voyage.

From my kitchen window, I watch the ever-changing lapis of zooming scooters and bikes jumping over ramps, the shimmying ruby of a hammock that cocoons a body, and radiant emeralds of grass tips that reach for the sky on a crisp morning.

Occasionally, tears of tigers eyes’ appear when a call comes in the early dark of a morning to tell of someone dear that has left this living Earth.

As I stand by my kitchen window, staring at the next drip of dew falling from the roof outside, I wonder what gems I’ll find next, what new orange and green twinkle of a diamond will sparkle and grow.

Perhaps it will be the agate of a new duco parked in the driveway as a new driver joins the household, or the onyx of another loved one lost.

Growing gems takes time. I’ll savour the fruits of this harvest while the next gestate. 

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Life’s aeration

 

 

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Life is a continuous string of aerations, pearling moments that we ease by or clunk over as eternal knots. We’re constantly easing and climbing where life often begins as a thick, anaerobic sludge. Breaking it down is challenging and can feel almost impossible to manoeuvre. Air lacks and signs point in a million directions.

Until life’s aerators switch on and we’re suddenly whisking in a big milk shake.

Aerators add air. Some are huge machines that are used to mix thick wastewater or sewage as a way of adding air where no air exists. It’s the important first step in treating and cleaning the sewage by supporting natural biological processes without the aid of harsh chemicals. The whole sewage treatment process is fascinating, as are the aerators, which appear as contraptions that Leonardo da Vinci may have drawn in the 15th Century.

Life is one continuous strand full of necessary aerations, of cleaning and sorting, of froth and bubbles full of a pungent pong as it attempts to move to an airy aroma. These aerations repeat in ebbs and flows, as the cycle of life.

The aerating process could extend for any length of time, a second, a few minutes or a week. We may catch a serendipitous ripple and flow past the aerators’ rotors onto the next pearl of where we’re meant to be.

Other times can be the extreme opposite where unfortunately for some, aerating that anaerobic pit can take a lifetime. It can mix us sick or we can become stagnant to whiz in the same place over and over again. Life can become stuck as we try to sort through the messy shit.

Celebrations and upset come and go, desires and expectations change or aren't met. For some, it’s a taut succession of requirements and obligations that must be sorted and prioritised.

He has more than she, she wants him and he wants him too. Excitement and joy, loving and being loved, loneliness, death ...

All merge into dreams of sleep that can haze a reality of feelings, of what’s real and what’s not, what’s true and not or what’s what.

The aeration can be slow and tedious or it can quicken through the night with glimpses of opportunity shining from under a blue moon. We reach and stretch and stop struggling against the aerators to instead, flow with them to whiz wherever life takes us. We're spat out to continue to the next pearl in life.

Soon enough, we’re out of that aeration and past those knots onto pursuing those opportunities glimpsed.

At times though, being caught up in those rotors can become a comfort zone and the trick is in the letting go of the struggle to allow those rotors to shake us and lead us somewhere new. In letting go, the kinks in the strand of pearls unfurl to sit relaxed and loose, free to go where they need to go. 

It’s a trick that I wonder whether anyone has truly mastered, magician or otherwise!

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
So much wisdom encapsulated here. And so graphically rendered! One thing I feel sure of is, the nearer we get to heaven, in whate... Read More
Sunday, 28 September 2014 12:46
Monika Schott
Thanks Rosy, glad you like it. x
Sunday, 28 September 2014 23:16
Sharon Darlene Walling
This is a powerful post. It spoke to me personally. I will be sure to read more of you. Thank you for this post. Sharon... Read More
Sunday, 28 September 2014 15:11
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Mr Findlay

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All kinds of people and events help shape us through life. Births and deaths, loves and separations, friends ... Some are more impacting than others. They can elate us or shatter the core of our foundations to move them distances away. Permanently. And sometimes to precariously balance on the edge of a drop the height of Mt Everest.

Sometimes, the impact of those ‘movers and shakers’ might not be seen for years, even though the reverberations of their influence can last a life time. It’s not until you take a sudden glance back over your shoulder one day that you see something entirely unrecognisable, a you of yesterday. It’s a stark reminder of what life is really all about.

Movers and shakers come and go without notice and can make repeat visits. I discovered this the other day when I turned around after checking my son in for his physiotherapist appointment.

‘Monika, it’s you,’ I heard a comforting voice say. It was the kind of voice your heart knows before your brain can register. It took little effort to see the same bushy-bearded man I met more than 35 years ago! Our eyes locked into recognition, my whole body relaxed into an auto pilot way before my brain understood.

‘Mr Findlay!’ was all I could say. A hearty cuddle and kiss took me immediately back to this wonderful, life-saving man’s office, even though we stood in the middle of a medical surgery. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in his very grey office as I grieved the loss of my father. I’d howl and sob and occasionally stare at the crinkled cream venetian blinds in his office when I didn’t want to listen to reason. And there was Mr Findlay, consoling me. Talking to me and listening to my every word. I could say anything and everything I said was okay.

I looked at Mr Findlay staring at me and smiling through that same bushy beard, although now grey. The same voice and demeanour, same body silhouette. It was like I’d been flung back in time.

But there was something else for beyond the surface, my heart knew his heart. All my facades fell away and even with my son beside me, I felt the vulnerable child again. Nothing mattered and I was safe.

We chatted about life, his life and family and mine. I hadn’t seen him in almost 10 years when I had written a dedication piece on my favourite teacher teaching me to grieve. For me, I couldn’t have written about any other school or life teacher but Mr Findlay. He was touched by that.

After a quick chat, we were called into our appointments. We cuddled and kissed again but it didn’t feel like a good bye that would be forever. It was more a, ‘see you next time’.

If it wasn’t for Mr Findlay’s care and time all those years ago, I may not be where I am today. I know I wouldn’t be. He guided me those next few years over that rocky road of grief, holding out his hand when I fell down, guiding me through the multitude of hair-raising forks in the road I had to decipher, and grabbing hold of me when I was about to fall to depths unseen.

You can’t live life without those movers and shakers and aside from my parents, Mr Findlay was probably my greatest life influencer. He was the mover and shaker that stabilised me. Although my grandfather lived beyond my father, he was my grandfather. Mr Findlay was the closest role model I had as a father.

Thanks Ray. If I created only a fraction of the influence you had on me, I’d be very humbled. X

Recent Comments
Former Member
Nice piece. The older we get the more of these warm memories we should have to offset the colder ones. Enjoyed it. --------- Charl... Read More
Sunday, 21 September 2014 13:57
Monika Schott
Thanks, Charlie. The best part is experiencing those feelings again through an unexpected meeting!
Thursday, 25 September 2014 04:08
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