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Interview with Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Interview with Teena Raffa-Mulligan, author of The Apostrophe Posse

Today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Teena Raffa-Mulligan, author of a fun story for young readers The Apostrophe Posse.

This interview is part of Romi Sharp’s Books On Tour PR & Marketing and just one of several celebrating the launch of Teena’s book. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Teena’s work.

Note: Mostly, I publish these interviews first on readilearn but, until the readilearn blog schedule is resumed, I am sharing them here first.

About Teena Raffa-Mulligan

About Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a reader, writer and daydream believer who believes there is magic in every day if you choose to find it. She discovered the wonderful world of storytelling as a child and decided to become a writer at an early age. Teena’s publications for children include poetry, short stories, picture books and chapter books. Her writing life has also included a long career in journalism. She shares her passion for books and writing by presenting talks and workshops to encourage people of all ages to write their own stories.

About The Apostrophe Posse

Trouble comes to Tea Tree Bend…

In cowboy movies the sheriff forms a posse to round up all the bad guys. Cam and Ellie from Daisy Cottage and their friends Billy and Louisa have formed a different posse. Their mission is to find and fix all the signs in Tea Tree Bend with missing apostrophes. The summer holidays are almost over so they have just nine days to complete their task.
How can doing the right thing go so wrong?

My thoughts

I couldn’t resist reading a book with the title The Apostrophe Posse. Many writers, children and adults alike, have difficulty with apostrophes and I could just imagine a posse going out after all the missing or misused apostrophes. I see so much of it myself and would love to round up all those apostrophes and put them where they should be.

I also found the consonance and assonance in the title appealing. It hinted that the book would be fun, and it is.

The book would be a great stimulus to discussions about the placement of apostrophes, but it’s too good a read to be limited to that alone.

Let’s find out what Teena has to say.

The interview.

 Hi, Teena. Welcome to my blog.

Thanks for inviting me.

Teena, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I grew up in an English/Italian family, surrounded by natural story tellers whose tales about their lives captured my imagination. Once I learnt to read, books opened a wonderful window into the world of make believe and I knew from a very early age that I wanted to become a writer. I also wanted to be a ballerina, so I thought I’d write novels in the dressing room between performances while travelling the world. Reality woke me from the dancing dream, but I didn’t give up on the ambition to become an author and began submitting short adult fiction and poetry to publishers in my late teens. When I became a mum at the age of 21 and began sharing books with my small son, I realised I wanted to write for children.

Where do you write? Do you like to be by yourself in the quiet, or do you like to write in a noisy space?  

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's roll-top desk

I write in the lounge room in my recliner chair near the front window, in bed, at the kitchen bench, on the back patio, out on the deck overlooking the back garden, and I also have the luxury of my own office at home. When my children were small, I wrote anywhere around the house in snatched fragments of time. I didn’t have an office (they needed somewhere to sleep!) so I had a gorgeous timber roll-top desk in the kitchen that I bought with my first earnings from writing stories. It wasn’t quiet or peaceful with the business of the household going on around me and that didn’t seem to matter then. Those days are long gone, and I have become accustomed to my peace and quiet. I don’t even play music while I’m writing.

What do you use to write – pencil and paper or computer?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's writing process

I like to get started with pen/pencil and paper… a few paragraphs, some dialogue, a scene or two. Being confronted by a blank computer screen sends my words into hiding. They don’t come out to play until they have some friends to join. Once I have something to work with, I prefer to stick with the computer. I write, revise, edit and proof on screen.

When do you write?

Not often enough! I spend hours every day on writing related activities but not necessarily on progressing my current WIP. I’m volunteer coordinator of the local writing centre so that keeps me busy. I also visit schools, libraries and community groups to present author talks and writing sessions whenever I get the opportunity. I recently ventured into indie publishing, releasing some of my own books and also my late father’s collection of spiritual writing. Then there’s social media to keep up with, plus reading blogs and watching videos to develop new writing and publishing skills. My new writing happens around all of that. I do set myself deadlines each week but they’re rather elastic.

When do you get your ideas?

They can come anytime and anywhere. The best ideas often arrive unexpectedly in the middle of the night, especially in winter when the last thing I want to do is leave my cosy, warm bed. I’ve learnt to keep notebooks handy after losing some wonderful stories because I thought I’d remember them in the morning. Once I have an initial idea, I don’t plan my stories. I start writing and see where they take me. This means I often don’t know what happens next. Walking, driving and washing dishes are great times for figuring that out.

Do you think of the story in your head before you write it?

Always. I compose sentences, mentally write paragraphs, describe scenes and devise conversations.

What gave you the idea for The Apostrophe Posse?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's thoughts about apostrophes

I’ve spent most of my adult life working with words, as an author, a journalist, a sub editor, an editor, a proof reader. I cringe at the widespread misuse of apostrophes and itch to correct them. I love the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. I was driving to my job at the local paper one morning after dropping my children off at school when the idea for The Apostrophe Posse popped into my head. I watched quite a few cowboy movies as a kid and the sheriff often gathers his posse of men to ride out of town to catch the bad guys. In my story that’s Cam and company and they want to find and fix all the incorrect signs around town.  Perhaps there’s a secret part of me that would also love to go out under cover of darkness armed with my editor’s pen and make a few corrections.

What do you like best about The Apostrophe Posse?

The way Cam, Ellie, Billie and Louisa want to put something right, but everything goes wrong.

Do you like the way Veronica Rooke illustrated the cover?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's thoughts on Veronica Rooke's illustrations

Veronica has illustrated three of my picture books and created covers for four of my other books, so I was happy to have her create the cover of Posse. She’s talented, versatile, creative and professional. I usually give her a couple of vague ideas and she works her magic. I’ve never been disappointed.

How did you feel when you wrote The Apostrophe Posse?

It was fun coming up with what could go wrong when a group of well-meaning country kids set out to do their good deed for the community. Of course, everything worked out happily in the end, as it always does in my stories, so I sat at my computer with a big smile on my face.

How do you hope readers will feel?

It would be great if my story brought a smile to their day and left them with the feeling they’d made some new friends.

How would you like teachers to present The Apostrophe Posse? to children?

I hope it will be presented first as a book to enjoy, a fun story about a group of kids whose good intentions get them into trouble. Discussion could follow about community, cooperation, consequences and, of course, punctuation and why we need it if we are going to communicate clearly with each other.

Are there any messages you would like them to discuss?

Cooperation and the importance of working together to achieve something positive. Facing the consequences of our actions. Children could also think about why we have rules and guidelines in our communities and what might happen if there were none.

Do you have any advice for teachers in their role as writing guides?

If you’re excited about books and language, students will pick up on this. Create a spirit of adventure around writing stories and encourage them to explore where words can take them. A lot of kids get stuck at the start because they’re convinced they don’t know what to write or how to express the ideas they do have. It’s important to stress that they don’t have to get it right, just get it down. In the beginning, it’s all about creating something to work on.    

Do you have any advice for children as writers?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's advice for children as writers

Writing stories is fun. You get to create characters, put them in weird and wonderful situations and then decide what happens next. In your imagination you can be anyone, go anywhere and do anything at all. What will you be today? A super hero? A detective? An astronaut? Where will you go? Deep beneath the sea? To the top of the world’s highest mountain? To the farthest stars? It’s up to you! Don’t worry about whether what you’re writing is an amazing story. Just play with the words. Let one follow another and see where they take you. It’s an adventure.

What is your favourite children’s book?

I’ve read so many wonderful books for children over the years and it’s impossible for me to choose just one. Books I loved reading when I was in primary school were Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series, E. Nesbitt’s Five Children and It and The Railway Children and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. What Katy Did also struck a chord, as did books by Elizabeth Goudge. As a teenager I discovered John Wyndham and read all of his books including The Chrysalids, Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes. Fantasy also captured my imagination, particularly Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern series.

Who is your favourite children’s author? What do you like about his or her work?

When I visit schools and children ask me which of the books I’ve written I like best, I always tell them I have three children and they are all special in their own way. I could not choose one ahead of the other. I feel the same about authors. I am in awe of some of the writing being produced, from picture books to YA novels, and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve come to the final word in a story and closed the book on the thought, ‘Wow! I wish I’d written that!’

When my children were small, I enjoyed sharing the Dr Seuss books with them. I loved the way he played with words.

thank you authors and illustrators

Thank you, Teena. I enjoyed meeting you and finding out a little more about your writing process, your fun book The Apostrophe Posse and your purpose for writing it. As you said, there is much more to your book than a lesson in apostrophes. It is a lesson in life. You have shared so many valuable thoughts with us. I found myself nodding along with you and thinking, “I wish I’d said that!”

 

Find out more about Teena

from her website: Teena Raffa-Mulligan

or her blog: In Their Own Write

Connect with her on social media

Facebook: Teena Raffa-Mulligan.Author

 

The Apostrophe Posse blog tour schedule

Check out other posts about The Apostrophe Posse on the Blog tour schedule:

Monday April 1 – Friday April 5: www.justkidslit.com/blog

PLUS!

Tuesday April 2: www.instagram.com/thebyrdandthebookworms

Thursday April 4: www.authorjillsmith.wordpress.com

Friday April 5: www.littlebigreads.com

SPECIAL FEATURE!

Middle Grade Mavens Podcast: www.middlegradepodcast.com

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

libraries books reading, importance of school libraries

readilearn: Libraries, books and reading = infinite worlds to explore

What is your fondest memory of a library?

Books, books, and more books. More books than I could ever read.

Books to inform, books to entertain, books to amuse, books to escape the everyday world.

Libraries, books and reading

As a child, I borrowed from the school library and the public library. I remember walking the 3.7 kilometres (2 ¼ miles in those pre-metric days of my childhood) to the public library most Saturdays and coming home with an armload of books.

As a parent, I read to and with my children many times a day —morning, afternoon and evening. Books were always given as gifts, and we had shelves filled with books we owned, but these were always supplemented with books borrowed from the library. We could never have too many books.

As a teacher, I shared my love of reading with the students, making the most of every opportunity to read to them, regardless of whether it be reading time, maths time, science time or whatever time.

Many of the children I taught had not had early opportunities to fall in love with books. I believed (believe) it is imperative to foster a love of reading and learning to empower children, soon-to-be-adults, in making their own educated and informed life choices. The families of many of these children could not afford to purchase books, but with access to school and public libraries, there was never a reason for them to be without books to read.

Nowadays, libraries are not just books, and the old library cards have been replaced with digital catalogues and borrowing systems. Not only is there more to know, but there are also more ways for information to be stored and shared, and more ways to learn.

The role of teacher librarians

 

Continue reading: readilearn: Libraries, books and reading = infinite worlds to explore

love of reading to young children in early childhood education

Readilearn: Wrapping up a year of books – the gift of reading

The love of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.

Reading is empowering, and a book is a gift that continues to give, long after the occasion has past. It’s effects cannot always be measured.

To help you decide which books to give to whom for Christmas, I thought I’d make your task a little easier by reminding you of the lovely books I shared throughout the year in interviews with their authors and illustrators.

Below you will find a list the books and their authors and illustrators. I also include links to

  • the interview on the blog
  • the interview in the Author or Illustrator Spotlight
  • the creative’s website
  • a place where the book may be purchased.

Many of these authors and illustrators have more than one book, some for readers in other age groups, including adult, so please check out their websites for additional information.

At the conclusion of the post, I list other books read and enjoyed. Sadly, there’s just not enough time for all the interviews I’d love to do.

Of course, the list is not exhaustive. These are just a few suggestions to get you started. Enjoy!

Continue reading at:  Readilearn: Wrapping up a year of books – the gift of reading

Plant the seeds of literacy

About this time last year, I shared my excitement when Jackie French was recognised for her “long and distinguished career as a beloved children’s author” as Senior Australian of the Year. At the time she was halfway through her two-year role as Australian’s Children’s Laureate with the task of promoting the importance and transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians.

If-you-want-intelligent children

Later in the year, in a series of posts celebrating Australian picture books, I shared more of Jackie’s work.

jackie french's books

Now the roles of Children’s Laureate and Senior Australian of the Year have been passed to others. Jackie has obviously been asked what she is now going to do with all her “free” time. In her newsletter she says, “if one more person says ‘now you can relax’ if (sic) will bite them like a wombat, the snappish kind” because it means that work is finished, which it isn’t. I feel exactly the same way when people ask me about my retirement, though I fear Jackie and I work at a very different pace and the occupation of my time may seem like retirement in comparison to hers.

While an author may not have received the top recognition as Australian of the Year 2016, three advocates of children’s literature each became a Member of the Order of Australia:

Jackie French for significant service to literature as an author of children’s books, and as an advocate for improved youth literacy’.

Ann James for ‘significant service to children’s literature as an author and illustrator and through advocacy roles with literacy and professional bodies’.

Ann Haddon for significant services to children’s literature, as a fundraiser and supporter of Indigenous literacy, and to professional organisations’.

It is wonderful to see the recognition given to authors, and to the importance of reading.

lucy_goosey_cover_lowres

One of my favourite books, illustrated by Ann James is Lucy Goosey. It is a beautiful story, written by Margaret Wild, about the love between mother and child. I can’t read it all the way through without crying. But in a good way. It is very touching.

Ann talks about illustrating the story here:

I’m also pleased to say that I have an original Ann James, done for Bec at a literary festival many years ago, hanging on my wall.

Ann James

In her Senior Australian of the Year Valedictory Speech, Jackie French says,

“You never know what seeds you plant will grow; if they will keep growing; who will take them and tend them. But there is one thing I have learned in my 62 years: keep planting seeds.

Jackie French - keep planting seeds

 Never think: I am 62 and still have not achieved world peace, universal tolerance and justice, or even an Australia where every single child is given the chance to learn to read.

Change is never fast enough for any person of goodwill.

A rain drop is just a rain drop. But together we are a flood.  Together we have changed the world.

Jackie french - raindrops

She concludes her speech with these words:

“Let us give our children role models who do not, will not despair, no matter how long it takes to change the world. And let us never surrender, no matter how tired we are, or how long it takes. Because with these weapons we shape the future of our planet.”

I like her words of hope. She is a meliorist. But even more than that, she is an active meliorist. She puts her words into action. She may no longer carry the title of Children’s Laureate or Australian of the Year, but her advocacy doesn’t stop.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Once upon a time … the power of story

 

Alan Rickman

In stories we find our hopes, our dreams, our inspirations, and our fears.  In stories our imaginations take flight as we contemplate ideas never before encountered.  Stories help us figure out the world and our place in it. We come to understand the stories of others and develop compassion and empathy. We find ways of confronting our fears in safety. We escape the ordinariness of the everyday with dreams as much of the impossible as the possible.

The love of reading is gift

Stories can be shared orally, in print, or through a variety of media. All are valid and valuable sources, but sharing the stories presented in books is especially important to the development of young children, and anything that can put books into the hearts and hands of children is to be encouraged. The ability to read is empowering and the love of books is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child. Not only can reading change the life of an individual, it can improve the lives of many through education.

This week I read a post by Paul Thomas  on his blog the becoming radical. In this post, entitled “Please—a little less love, and a little more common decency. Paul said,

“If we cannot change the world (and I suspect we can’t), we can provide all children the sorts of environments all children deserve in their school day—environments of kindness, compassion, safety, and challenges.”

I think Paul meant that we can’t change the whole world, that would be a rather daunting task, but the provisions mentioned are vital and change the lives of individuals in important ways, just as reading does. I like to think of changing the world with one thought, one word, one action at a time, or as Mem Fox says, also quoted in my post The magic effect – why children need books,

“. . . let’s get on and change the world, one page at a time.”

malala

Another post I read this week was by Michelle Eastman Calling all Book Lovers and Authors to make a Difference to a Child in Need on her blog Michelle Eastman’s Books. In that post Michelle explains that, last year, she initiated a project “MARCHing books to Kids”. The purpose of this project is to raise awareness of and provide books for children of incarcerated parents. Michelle goes on to say,

“I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have picture books read to him/her and to own their very own books. “

I agree with her of course and consider her project to be very worthwhile. It reminds me of another very worthwhile program mentioned by Caroline Lodge, who blogs at Book Word, about providing books to prisoners. Both of these projects have the ability to change lives, to empower people and by so doing, change the world, not only their world.

As well as changing lives, stories influence our attitudes. If they encourage feelings of kindness and compassion, as Paul Thomas says, that may be a good thing.  But what of the stereotypes that seem so pervasive? How many stories have you read about princesses in dire circumstances waiting to be rescued by handsome princes or knights in shining armour who must slay a dragon in doing so? What effect do these stories have upon the developing self-image of a young girl or boy? It is important to teach children to think critically about the stories they read, and about the portrayal of characters and their attitudes, especially stereotypes.

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

But that is in reading stories. What of writing stories? Writing stories, whether factual accounts or imagined events, is also empowering. In writing stories children, and adults, can express and explore their hopes, dreams, inspirations, and fears.  In writing stories their imaginations take flight as they contemplate ideas never before encountered.  Writing stories helps us figure out the world and our place in it.

In her post Storytelling as Personal Metaphor Anne Goodwin who blogs at Annecdotal raised the question of how much of the self is revealed in fiction.

Paula Reed Nancarrow, whose blog tagline is Essays, Stories, Ephemera, talked about working towards an understanding of contentment: what it is and how it is experienced; in her post Enough Already: Exploring the Art of Contentment,

Contentment is something that I too wonder about, and am especially perplexed by the need to push myself into new territory and new learning when others are content to sit back and watch the clouds pass by. Why are there so many things I feel I must do? Pretty soon I’ll be gone and it won’t matter a hoot. I have sometimes thought that if I were to write a fictionalised account of my life I would begin with the words She was an unremarkable woman”.

I have connected these thoughts: about the power of story to change lives, the revelation of self in fiction and the quest for contentment; to write my response to the one who initiated my thinking about stories this week, Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Communications with her flash fiction challenge to in 99 words (no more, no less) begin a story with, “Once upon a time …”  I’d love to know what you think.

Contentment

Once upon a time there was an ordinary girl who lived an ordinary life with her ordinary family. She did all the ordinary things that others did and dreamed of nothing else. Each day followed one after the other with little difference. There was no magic. There were no fairies, and there were no dragons to slay. She just did what she had to do and took little notice of others doing the same. Strangely enough she was content for, from somewhere deep within, she knew that this ordinary life was but preparation for the extraordinariness of the next.

Monarch butterfly

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Life — A “choose your own” adventure?

This morning Hub mentioned a book he had read about and asked if I had heard of the author Wayne Dyer. “Of course,” I replied and proceeded to explain that I had read many of Dyer’s books, had gone to a seminar to hear him speak and had been swept off my feet by accompanying speaker Deepak Chopra. I mentioned that a favourite book of his was marked now by a gap on my shelves, a phenomena recently mentioned by both Caroline Lodge, who blogs at book word and talked about missing books, and Anne Goodwin, who blogs at annethology and talked about the dilemma of lending books.

Wayne Dyer

I think there may be more than one missing from my self!

Deepak Chopra

I think. looking at these titles, its time for some re-reading!

This favourite book, read and lent many times, What Do You Really Want for Your Children? was very influential in shaping the way I parented and taught. It is one of a few books that I read and re-read with a highlighter and sticky notes. There was much in it for me to get my head around. While I am unable to now refer to it for its wisdom, one of the things that I remember most was a hypothetical letter from a child thanking parents for the way they had parented. I considered it a letter any parent would love to receive, personalised of course.

As often happens, Hub got the long (love) story as it tumbled out in a torrent of reminiscences and of joys in discovering inspiring minds. When I paused long enough to take a breath, I remembered to ask about the book to which he referred. He said it was about the recollections of past lives as told by young children, of children choosing their parents and of being in heaven.  Later research informs me that the book is Memories of Heaven, subtitledChildren’s astounding recollections of the time before they came to Earth.

I had previously, many years ago, heard the suggestion that children choose their parents. I like to think (though don’t believe) that my children chose me, and often thank them for doing so. They have taught me a lot about life. I am a strong believer in the wisdom of young children: if we are attentive and take the time to observe and listen, we can learn much from them. Sometimes it seems they enter the world with wisdom but “we” do our best to obliterate it as quickly as we can.

As it is wont to do, my thinking followed a circuitous path with if, buts, maybes and questions. Children choosing parents may be a nice idea; but what of the children living in poverty, with famine, and in war-torn areas? Why would anyone choose those conditions?

That question led me through my basic understanding of the Buddhist philosophy in relation to karma and rebirth. I have read a few books on the subject but don’t profess to have any real knowledge. I don’t like to think that these situations may be endured as the result of bad karma from a previous life, and am not even sure if they would be viewed that way in Buddhist thinking. Perhaps these situations could be an improvement on the previous, a step to the next? Maybe that’s not so unpleasant a thought.

Dalai LamaTibetan book of living and dying

I like the idea of improvement, of always learning, of striving for perfection and enlightenment. It is probably one of the reasons that the “yet” thinking of a growth mindset fits nicely into my philosophy. It explains why one of my favourite books (I almost wrote “of all time” – what would that say about me and my past lives?) is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, who dedicated the book “To the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all”.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Slide2

I had always thought that being a bird would be pretty amazing with the freedom to fly above the world and look down upon its beauty. Maybe this is one reason Jonathan’s story appealed to me. Perhaps it explains the analogy of flight in my poem about education. Maybe it’s why I love to sit at an airplane’s window and marvel at the scenes below.

education-is-2

And so my thoughts meandered, drifting through clouds and pockets of time, until they were suddenly interrupted by the voice of the child next door singing, “Let it go”.

I think those three words “Let it go” may be the only ones that anyone sings along with, but the message of the song is powerful: to let go of insecurities and realise the potential within; don’t care “what they’re going to say” and acknowledge that “It’s time to see what I can do”.

Slide1

The message is not unlike that of Jonathan Seagull: to stretch beyond the limits imposed by others and their labels and to attain self-realisation. It is a journey undertaken by most thinking people, as demonstrated by the identity crisis that has befallen Sarah Brentyn who blogs at Lemon Shark. What is that if not a call for release from chains that may bind to enable the freedom for flight?

The end of a year is generally a time for reflecting on what has been achieved and what is yet to be. Perhaps it is also a time for letting go in preparation for what lies ahead.

Slide3

I hope that, as you reflect, you are happy with what you have achieved, with where you are, and with the path that lies ahead. I wish you a safe, fun and fruitful journey along the “road to find out”.

I have enjoyed your company this year and appreciate your feedback. The conversations are what keep me going, growing and learning. Thank you. I look forward to the journey continuing.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

@aussietony’s 20 gift suggestions for #life-long learning

Wrapped in living

Today I share with you a book by a passionate educator and life-long learner, Tony Ryan. I have shared material by Tony before. Here I wrote about his book The Ripple Effect, here I wrote about his Thinkers Keys, and about his seminar on Future-Proofing Kids here. In this post I nominated him as an educator I find inspiring.

The book, Wrapped in Living! 20 Gifts for Creating Passion in Your Life! is now in its twentieth year but has lost no relevance with the passing years. Its gifts are perennial and I find myself dipping back into it for reminders from time to time. With one of the busiest gift-giving times just around the corner you may consider the book as a gift for yourself or for someone else, or perhaps taking one or some of the ideas to make a gift of wishes.

Wrapped in Living is described as

A highly innovative approach to effective living and learning. Twenty special metaphorical gifts for re-discovering passion in life. Each of the gifts represents a vital principle for creating enthusiasm in life-long learning experiences. Full of entertaining stories and quotes.”

The gifts include such things as A Set of Sparklers to “unleash your imagination”; A Tapestry to “Become a life-long learner”; A Potplant to “create a peaceful environment”; A Hammock to “learn to relax; and An Hourglass to “take your time”. There are gifts for setting goals, for telling stories, for listening, for finding the magic in the everyday, and for knowing that you can make a difference, and more.

Tony describes each metaphorical gift, explains why it is important, and suggests how it might inspire you, how you might implement the gift in your daily life. He includes stories and quotes that add meaning and inspiration. For example I opened the book to a page at random and found a story by Anthony De Mello about a man sitting in a marketplace strumming one note on his guitar. A crowd gathered. Soon he was asked why he didn’t vary his playing like other musicians do. His response: Those fools. They’re searching for the right note. I’ve already found it.”

Tony’s message from this:

“You do not always have to search elsewhere for the information that you require. It already may be within you.”

tapestry

Tony’s third gift, a tapestry, “offers a perspective from start to finish, and reminds you that you must Become A Life-Long Learner.

He says,

“Many famous tapestries display a long–term historical perspective on different cultures. They allow you to view events from beginning to end. You also should look at yourself in the same way. Think of life as a learning journey from start to finish. You are born to learn, and you should continue to learn until the day you die.”

jigsaw

Tony’s tenth gift is a jigsaw to “encourage you to Look For The Big Picture”.

He says,

“When you play with a jigsaw, you often use two strategies to finish the puzzle. The first is to assemble the parts. The second is to view the cover of the jigsaw packet. Your life needs both of these approaches, namely, to place the parts together, and also to look for the big picture.”

globe

The final gift in Tony’s book is a very important one today when the problems around the world can seem insurmountable and overwhelming. It reminds us to look at what we can change rather than what we can’t; to find and focus on the positives, rather than seek out the negatives and allow them to destroy us; to focus on those things we have the power to influence.

It is a globe to “help you to Know That You Can Make A Difference”.

Tony says,

“When you look at your globe, you can see more easily that this beautiful planet is a single entity, rather than an infinite collection of people and problems. Suddenly the world does not appear quite so overwhelming. This can help you to believe that you actually can make a difference with your daily actions. In fact, because everything on this ONE planet is connected in mysterious and special ways, your actions can ripple out and benefit others around the world every day.”

starfish

He includes a story that takes place on a beach dotted with thousands of starfish which had been left stranded by the receding tide. A man was picking up the starfish one at a time and throwing them back into the sea. A passer-by questioned what he was doing and remarked that there were so many starfish he couldn’t possibly make a difference. As the man picked up one starfish and threw it into the water he replied,

“Made a difference to that one!”

As an individual we sometimes feel that we can’t make much difference to the world. But looking at it another way, we realise we can make a world of difference to another. How will you make a difference today? Tony has many suggestions in this book and other publications including The Ripple Effect.

Tony Ryan's 20 gifts

Which of these gifts have you received? Which would you like to receive? Which would you gift to another?

Thank you

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