Monika Schott PhD

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Living a life of ‘oh wells’ over a life of ‘what ifs’. Am a writer and researcher of sewerage ghost towns and the connectedness that forms within them and abject communities. I'm awaiting publication of my novel, 'The faraway land of the house and two cows', an undocumented social history of the community once living on Melbourne's first sewerage farm, the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm. I’ve had several short stories published, been short-listed in the Ada Cambridge Writing Prize, won the inaugural Wyndham Rotary Arts Small Business Award and completed a Master of Communication with a thesis on boys and reading and what it is they like to read.

To be the poet, and the poem


Giving comes easy to some. It’s a natural extension of who they are and it seems to flow from inside of them, without any thought to the act of giving. They simply give and expect nothing in return.

It’s genuine. Authentic. Comes in the weave of ebbing crescendo, gliding in humbly and unassumingly as its own poetry.

So many give: family and friends that are family, lend a hand in the home and garden, organise lunch dates, extend gifts for no reason. Friends spreading good humour that radiates a smile and jigs a giggle, gifting joy without trying or realising.

Giving a road bike to encourage a new cycling path; a chunky musk candle, just because; and flamingo treasures for a bountiful home is a sincerity doubled: the giving of gift, and the giving of thoughtfulness to a love of the gracious pink birds.

Joy and wealth in giving and receiving is not so much in material riches or possessions, but more in esteemed care and compassion. There’s no wish for praise, pride or recognition, no ego at all. It’s not forced and comes of pure heart, without emptying of self, as an unconscious and authentic wave of life. A poetry of life.

The giver is the creator, the poet offering their poetry to any in need. Assisting and helping to protect and empower the vulnerable and those without, those disadvantaged or perishing in poverty, where any inequality exists. The world would not be without such charitable beings.

Givers give with kindness and consideration. Bestowing, bequeathing and honouring in the grace of the most silent and wealthiest of philanthropists … the snow leopard shimmying at dusk.

The local vet and nurses dote on our pooch battling terminal cancer, changing her bandages every second day. In a jungle-green bordering on jade bandage wrapped around her front legs and top half of her black coat, the little miss prances out as a pretty princess in an assemblage of blue and red love hearts and stars, Christmas trees, baubles and presents. One time, it was a blue stencilled Schnooze emblazoned across her bandage. Today she’s decked in a six-pointed red star atop, as the star she is.

Going beyond the servicing transaction, beyond all requirement in free flowing flounce and flare.

I see it in work too, in the sharing of stories and family treasures from long ago that mesh with titbits into astonishing story and rhyme. It’s a universal giving stemming from a utopian world, one that survived on the humanity of generosity and that connects beyond reason or rationale.

Why do people give, why so kind and generous?

A not-so-old, old friend of mine lavished me two of her art pieces recently. I didn’t want her to miss out on sales but she insisted on gifting them to me. She wished to give them to people she likes. This, from a woman who shares a new piece of art with quote of uplift each day on Instagram.

The joy in doing something worthwhile, to give without condition or expectation is a nourishment impossible to measure. When we give, we’re attentive. We’re listening and observing. Acknowledging. Life can seem better and friendlier, more connected and caring. Validated even. It can awaken a lotus flower basking in the sun, and can feel like a friend walking in when the rest of the world has walked out.

It’s giving with grace and compassion. With love. Nurturing in a care that flows without a ripple, in a simple smile or hello in the street. A thank you, a yes or no, a recognition.

It’s as bright as the Milky Way in an outback sky.

Of course there are always the takers, the narrow minded and judgemental, just as there is positive and negative, good and bad. Life is like that, full of polarity.

And yet it’s this polarity that can inspire the poet to create the poem, the poet that is also the embodiment of a beautiful poem.

What a cosmic bang of another kind of poetry when the giving is reciprocated: the giving to someone who gives back.

Copyright

© Image: If you cannot be a poem, be the poet, by vikki_vision on Instagram

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
"The joy in doing something worthwhile, to give without condition or expectation is a nourishment impossible to measure. " True o... Read More
Saturday, 16 January 2021 16:33
Monika Schott PhD
I agree, Stephen. It's the simple things.
Friday, 12 February 2021 02:02
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Without the beat of any drum

Weaving and swirling, casting a hand of stealth healing. High they fly, low they crawl. Magical. Merciful. Gracious and humane, forever genuine.

They stride and glide, tip toe in the silent sprinkle of glittering dust, sometimes soaring in whispers as delicate as a flawless feather falling from the cosmos. They go unnoticed in humbling humility and in lashings of hushed becalm, serene in acts of sincerity across the Earth.

Considerate, caring, loving; ever watchful in a compassionate intensity of spirit. Without effort or expectation, they nurture. Unperturbed, they're always on call, always listening for the silent sob hiding in a dark corner.

No judgement, no conspiracy, no mock or disdaining taunt. They feel in the intricacy of fine lace and in that, can hold a thousand breaking aches.

Yet, they hurt like anyone, cry in tears of budding yellow tulips of the collective. And then somehow, they heal themselves to carry on, heal any knife wound piercing deep into a buried abyss.

And what defines them, is their ability to do and act and mend in a nurture that weaves and binds any cracking blare and unveiled glare.

They’re not mythical beings, or celestial, atmospheric entities derived in pagan or religious law, nor do they come from any far flung realm or universe.

They walk among us wearing hearts gilded in gold, hearts that emanate as the king of the universal jungle and with the courage to match. From there, they access an unyielding inner strength to help wherever help is needed.

And they do all this without the beat of any drum, in a flutter of butterfly wings. Nothing stops them, and nothing propels them other than their purest of gold gilded heart.

Angels on Earth, are Angels in Eternity.

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The three Cs

A friend recently reminded me of the power in kindness when she asked, what makes an urban area kind? My first thought was, how can an object or mass of solid be kind? What makes anything kind?

It’s a huge question, with a valley amassed in a field of flowers for answers.

Being kind is about expressing goodwill, whether emotionally, spiritually, physically or materially. It’s the act of being generous and considerate, looking out for the needs of others.

There’s such grace in being kind, just as there is in receiving kindness.

For some, it can be difficult to accept a kind gesture, especially those that give so frequently and don’t make time to receive. And then there are those who feel kindness is associated with the naive or weak. And yet kindness in any and all form is the epitome of courage and strength as it requires an openness that exposes vulnerability, especially when the kindness is being extended to oneself.

To give directions to a lost traveller in a city of skyscrapers

Or buy a second spare bike for yourself so you can give your other spare to a friend

For a son to text his mother late at night to tell her to look up at the moon if she’s still awake …

Kindness can melt a heart, crack a shell to ooze a luscious goo. It’s giving without expecting in return, giving with genuine concern.

Being kind is a gesture that is sincere and doesn’t occur because we should be kind or expect ‘good karma’ out of it. It’s not pity either; there is a clear line between the two. To pity is to be sympathetic to suffering, distress or misfortune, to show mercy and feel sorry.

A warm hug from someone who seems to feel your pain is kindness woven in care. Receiving help when you’re down and not when you’re strong, that’s pity. Pity is fleeting and insincere, can be demoralising; kindness stays with you well after the kindness has occurred.

Offering work to someone who isn’t working, mailing a care package of home-baked biscuits sealed with a smiley face to someone far away … they’re little gestures that can make someone’s day, turn an ugly mood into a gleaming uplift in both the giver and receiver.

Kindness can soothe the beastly harsh and thaw the biggest of ice bergs submerged in arctic waters. It can uplift to breathless heights and become buoyant in puffs of weightless jubilation; a gladness of glee.

Compliment someone on their new red shoes and watch their face light up

Hold the hand of a friend who bleeds out their heart

Be taken to lunch, or have the lunch bill unexpectedly paid … there’s such humility in kindness, a respectful, thoughtful and generous consideration for a person, animal or something.

Kindness comes with affection and warmth, gentleness too, to want to do something good. It’s the giving of time and patience, of wanting person, animal and environment to feel better than they are. Being kind is to love, whether in friendship, romantic, parental, environmental or spiritual love.

To sit with a family pet for two hours after her surgery

Be the angelic guardian of a brother’s galaxy

Talk to a friend who is reluctant to talk and after an hour, hear the glee in their tone.

That’s the bonus of course, the delight we can feel in imparting kindness, to know we’ve done something good, helped someone feel better or special, helped something, Mother Nature. But not pity them.

To see kindness in action is enchanting, captivating. It’s a desirous quality layered in modesty that can never be measured.

Kindness is a simple smile, a thank you, or a helpful hand to a stranger. As Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, says:

The true essence of humankind is kindness. There are other qualities which come from education or knowledge, but it is essential, if one wishes to be a genuine human being and impart satisfying meaning to one’s existence, to have a good heart.

Be concerned, caring and considerate. Be kind. Accept kindness. Expose it in all its glory. And honour it, for it’s in us all.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
True kindness has the power to change circumstances, whether given or received. Kindness makes the world go round and can determin... Read More
Monday, 24 August 2020 11:00
Monika Schott PhD
True, Rosy. Kindness can change anything; it can soften a heart, arouse a smile, and much more. ?
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 01:16
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Expectations

Over the years, I’ve written about some of life’s certainties — birth, death, time and change. You can guarantee we will all experience those things.

Birth and death are at the centre of our existence. We are birthed onto this Earth, to leave it again. No matter where we’re from, how much material wealth we may accumulate or what colour our skin, the scent we exude. Us humans are birthed into this world to die. Animals and plants too.

Birth and death occur in tandem with time, which leads to change. Life is in a constant state of flux, sometimes deep and challenging, other times gloriously joyous and uplifting, tender and sensuous. Change happens as time passes, ticking over every minute, day and year. Tick, tick, tick …

Rushing, darting, dashing, being somewhere, anywhere, and nowhere. Time, there's never enough, we always want more. Time to act and do. Time to be and play and have fun, time to walk and run.

Faster, quicker, need it yesterday ... I don’t have time. More and more, more time to work and more work. Time’s ticking, always ticking.

Time to feel, time to heal. Time to see and be. Time to love and be loved, and feel the love. Time to feel sad and hurt and heal from the sad and hurt. Or, we can have too much time. To think, and do nothing. The trepidation in time.

Life’s certainties don’t stop there though because we also have the dreaded: Expectations. We all have them, no matter how hard we try not to.

Expectations come from the act of expecting, wanting, requiring. Demanding. They can be ego driven, selfish and ungracious, and can creep in like muted millipedes found curling in a corner of your home. Black, hard little critters. Or they can thrash in as a heavy, weighted monster that won’t budge.

The problem with expectations is when they aren’t met, they lead to all sorts of frustration and disappointment. I’d go so far as to say that unmet expectations can be killers. You set your mind to attaining something, and when you can’t achieve it, become disheartened.

It becomes doubly so, tripled and quadrupled even, when that something hindering your ability to reach your expectation is something you have no influence over. An expectation of a sound sleep can be lost to a neighbour playing loud music at 2 am; the expectation of juicy apricots in summer can be lost once insects bore into the 20-year-old apricot tree, and dies. Most obvious is COVID-19. Without banging on about the obvious impacts, the expectation of many to carry on with our ‘usual’ life has been quashed by the outside influence of COVID-19. Many expectations pre COVID-19 are today unmet, and the impact of that can be debilitating.

Unmet expectations aren’t necessarily in the extreme and can be as simple as expecting to walk your puppy around the block in 15 minutes, only to be gone double that time because your puppy wants to sit or chase a butterfly, or refuses to walk and instead wants to bite at the lead.

Of course, it can go the other way too. That rascally puppy who runs amuck in the backyard, chews the skirting board of your home, might be the epitome of the model walking dog. The expectation of mayhem and mischief on a walk is a pleasant surprise when the puppy walks tall.

The challenge is in managing those expectations, especially when they’re unmet, is letting go of them before they twist you into a tourniquet that’s too tight to untie.

Some say to have a goal and set a plan in action to achieve it, but be prepared to change the plan if it isn’t achieving your goal.

Perhaps it’s as a friend said to me the other day, who believes everything derives from and is love. Life is about ‘the love of the self, to become sovereign to the self.’ I liked that and took it to mean being respectful of one’s self in all one’s entirety, in all beauty and flaw. And to be grateful for what is, appreciate who you are and what you have and don't have.

In our constant motion of time, look around and breathe in what we see, drink it in and savour it, whether bad, sad or positively blissful and everything in between.

Wonder at life. Be inspired by the expanse of red soil that meets a horizon of blue in the distance, find the awe in the incandescence of snow laden mountains illuminating at 2am in an Arctic winter. The natural world is full of marvel and being in awe of it puts expectations into perspective and can shrink them into a manageable insignificance.

Sit with a young child that’s waking in your arms, and appreciate their faith in your love and protection. Meditate with the birds calling in sunrise, or fall asleep to waves that never stop their rumble into shore. Take a three hour lunch with a friend on a sunny winter’s day, chat with someone who has known you over lifetimes; appreciate kindness.

I love this quote from Julia Baird in her book, Phosphorescence: on Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark, for it’s a reminder to take the time to appreciate:

We need to learn how to regard and pay attention, to mine our inner strength, and accept the possibility that we can emerge from pain and grow by moonlight — in times of darkness — that we can push ‘right back’ on winter and find inside a summer. We also need to seek and settle upon a purpose in life — something many people seem to discover once they fully open their eyes (Baird, 2020, p. 204).

Perhaps that’s another of life's certainties: learning how to let go of, and manage expectations.

Maybe it’s a case of expect the imperfection in life, where expectations are one of them. And take note of those moments of satisfaction and fulfillment in simple pleasures.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
You have vividly highlighted the dangers of automatic expectation which can so rapidly morph into a demand for perceived rights an... Read More
Sunday, 02 August 2020 15:29
Monika Schott PhD
Rosy, I'm so touched by your beautiful description of my writing, it's never been described in that way before - thank you! Inter... Read More
Monday, 03 August 2020 11:29
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2 Comments

Writing For Life

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I agree, Stephen. It's the simple things.
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