People of interest #1 – Meet Sharon


I find it interesting to note that throughout my blogging career, I have been a guest poster on a few blogs (see list below) but to date the only person to ever guest post on my blog was my youngest daughter, who wrote this heartfelt piece without any direction:  To my mum

My recent guest posts include these:

Sisters
Sisters

I always enjoy the interaction that being a guest poster brings and so I have decided to start a feature where I share guest posts by people who interest me.

Who better to start with than my sister Sharon from Musings from the Cold!

You see it was because of my sister that I started blogging many years ago.  Sharon and I are only 15 months apart in age (I’m the eldest) and we are close in many other ways too.  We often buy the same things when we’re miles apart, we often dress the same for no apparent reason (as in this photo) and we have a similar sense of humour.  She is much cleverer than I am and more insightful whereas my perceived shallowness and need for people and approval stands us apart. We can both be quite blunt and have opinions we don’t always keep to ourselves (or is that just me?).

She is many things including being an accomplished blogger, a very talented photographer, an academic, a fun person to be around, a mother, a grandmother and an all round interesting person with strong thoughts on various topics.

You deserve to know more about her so here is Sharon’s guest post to start my new series off with a bang! 10 questions with Sharon –

Q1. What do you enjoy about blogging?

A1: I blog intermittently, but when I do blog I enjoy the creative outlet. I’m a former drama teacher and in that role I had plenty of opportunity to be creative; to play with ideas; to try things out; to explore ways of thinking about an issue and ways of representing various perspectives. When I stopped teaching drama I felt that space for a creative outlet closed as well.

But a number of years ago I asked students in my Children’s Literature class at university to blog about what they were reading. I thought it was important for me to know what the experience of blogging was like, so started my own blog and I quickly realised it could be an outlet for creativity and allow me space to sort through ideas and make sense of things happening around me

Q2. Your blog is all about playing with ideas and images – where did this description come from?

A2: My (our) mother used to call me contrary – probably still does – and I think that’s because I like to examine ideas from multiple perspectives. I like to play with ideas, to think them through from a number of perspectives, to see what feels right for me and why, and to challenge my thinking – to broaden and deepen it.

I can play with ideas through words, and that’s what I did when I first started blogging. But often my ideas are clumsy and clumsily expressed and I get disheartened because my thinking isn’t sharper and more nuanced. I wrote a post about my lack of sophistication some time ago … the opening words say it all: ‘My mind is a blunt pencil.’

Photo by Sharon Pittaway
Photo by Sharon Pittaway

Along with playing with ideas through language I can also play with them through images. Images have become a much more prominent feature of my blog over the last few years as I’ve learnt more about photography and the kind of photographer I am and want to be.

And so my blog is a place for me to play with ideas through images as well as words – to showcase some of my work and to determine what works and what doesn’t, and what I might have done differently if I had the opportunity to shoot that object or person again, or to write about something I’m passionate about – or just to write something – and to learn from that. My blog is a creative outlet and also a tool for reflection and learning.

Short answer: I love ideas and images!

Q3. What plans do you have for your blog in the future?

A3: I’ve been feeling for some time now that I’d like to get back into writing more. Over the last year or so I’ve tended to post images but the part of me that loves words and imagery and expression through language is getting more and more insistent that I write.

At the moment I work a full-time job and a part-time job, and I very rarely have the head space to write about anything (apart from feedback on student work), but by mid-November I’ll have finished marking and my part-time job will be done for the year. That’ll free up some thought space I can put into playing with ideas – in writing.

Q4. What’s your favourite post on your blog and why?

A4: Years ago, and it seems scary to think how long it’s been, Tim – my husband – challenged me to write a series of posts on writing. At the time we were writing a journal article together and he would sit at the computer typing, and I would give him ideas to write about – and then I’d edit the work. (I love editing!!) We had lots of ‘discussions’ about what it meant to ‘write’, so he challenged me to write about writing for seven days with a particular theme for each day. One of those posts was about voice https://sharonpittaway.com/2012/09/13/writing-challenge-day-four/ and I still quite like it.

Why? Well, to be quite honest – and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this – one of the reasons I still quite like it is because I think it’s clever! There, I’ve said it. It’s one of those posts that came almost fully formed as I wrote and was therefore fun to write.

 Q5. What’s your biggest achievement in life to date?

A5: Wow – what a question! I don’t want to sound conceited but I feel like I’ve had a few achievements, mostly personal ones that have demonstrated to me that I have strength and resilience and courage – being a teenage mother, returning to finish high school at the age of 21 and the mother of two young children, having five children by the age of 27, surviving the years of being a stay-at-home mother, starting uni at the ripe old age of 31, being an ABC radio presenter and producer, completing my PhD, travelling on trains through France, Italy and Germany on my own. Those achievements mean a lot to me when I think about them – some obviously more than others.

But there’s one achievement that’s been particularly big, and that’s losing close to 50kgs across a 12-month period! Keeping (most of) it off for five years has been another achievement.

Q6. You’re an academic by day so what do you like to do outside of work?

A: I like to take photographs – of flowers: (here’s one example and here’s another) and of people (here’s one example and here’s another).

I also like to exercise – which, I have to say, came as a complete surprise to me – and I work-out most days, although I have at least two rest days per week to allow my body to recover (apparently, rest is very good for recovery).

Sharon with some of her grandchildren
Sharon with some of her grandchildren

The other thing I love to do outside of work is spend time with my grandchildren. Did I mention I have 19? None of them live in the same state as me, so it means to see them I have to travel to Tasmania, Queensland and WA. Even though it’s something I love to do, I don’t do it anywhere near as much as I’d like.

Q7. What book are you currently reading?

A7: I like reading books of a literary nature – the classics from authors such as Austen, Hardy, Camus, and Tolstoy, and more contemporary Australian authors such as Richard Flanagan, Tim Winton, Helen Garner, and Rohan Wilson. And yes, two of those authors are from Tasmania, but I’m not biased!!

I love Kazuo Ishiguro’s work – The remains of the day is one of my all-time favourites. The simplicity of his prose belies a depth of pain and longing and missed opportunities and unresolved issues and complexity, and is an absolute delight to read.

My all-time favourite author though is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’m currently reading Chronicle of a death foretold and over the next few months will be working through a number of his other novels and short stories. The worlds he creates are so different from my own – I’m bewitched as soon as I start reading. I’m often appalled by the decisions his characters make, but his style of writing keeps me reading, even through the torturous bits.

I absolutely adore children’s literature – Thelma the unicorn by Aaron Blabey is a real delight and a book my 7-year old granddaughter and I love to read together (most books by Aaron Blabey are a real delight). I also love Nick Bland’s series starting with The very cranky bear – the rhythm and rhyme in the language make this a perfect series for young children. My absolute favourite at the moment though has to be Baa Baa smart sheep and Little Baa Baa and Quirky Turkey in I love lemonade by Mark and Rowan Sommerset. If you have little children in your life, I reckon they’ll love you reading these books, and you’ll get a laugh too.

Oh, and if you haven’t already come across it, check out BJ Novak’s The book with no pictures.

I read a lot of non-fiction work as well – academic texts – and I’m reading three at the moment: Discussions as a way of teaching, by Stephen Brookfield and Stephen Preskill, Becoming a critically reflective teacher by Stephen Brookfield, and Practice Perfect: 42 rules for getting better at getting better by Doug Lemov. Did I mention I like ideas??

Q8. Where’s your dream holiday destination – who with?

Photo of husband Tim by Sharon Pittaway
Photo of husband Tim by Sharon Pittaway

A8: Paris and Prague and the northern part of Italy (with my husband Tim) … I also have a hankering to visit Ireland. Old places that have histories attached to them … places I can wander and wonder who trod those same streets when they were first built; places that for me are full of character and intrigue, that represent cultures and societies very different from my own.

When asked which is her favourite place, my 7-year-old granddaughter says “Paris”. She’s never been, but she’s heard me talk about it and I feel that I’ve fanned a little flame in her heart. When she’s older I would love to travel to Paris with her – she asks a million questions and soaks up new experiences like the proverbial sponge, so a trip to Paris with her would allow me to see it anew.

Q9. List 3 things you won’t leave home without?

  1. My phone – I’ve forgotten it a few times recently and using payphones just doesn’t seem right anymore.
  2. My Myki (I can’t get on Melbourne’s public transport without it and sometimes it’s great to be spontaneous and jump on a tram just to see where it’s headed)
  3. My camera – an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II (usually with a 45mm lens that I use to shoot street portraits)

Q10. Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever met and why?

A10: This is a hard question to answer! Despite Deb’s advice not to think too much about my answers, I’ve given this a lot of thought … I find people interesting who live different sorts of lives to mine – people who see the world in ways I wouldn’t think about, who think abstractly (I’m a very concrete thinker), who visualise different possibilities, and represent their world in ways I couldn’t contemplate.

One of those people is visual artist Lisa Roberts. I met Lisa in 1998 when I was teaching in a senior secondary college on the north-west coast of Tasmania through the week, and presenting the breakfast program on ABC Local Radio on Saturday mornings in Launceston. It meant travelling two hours each Friday afternoon after school, staying with friends, getting up (really) early on Saturday mornings, doing the program, then travelling home. Lisa’s partner was a friend of the friends I often stayed with and they visited on one of the Friday nights I happened to be staying. Lisa and I clicked immediately.

We are so unalike, so very different in temperament, skills, interests, ways of communicating, ways of representing the world… Lisa worked with me on a drama production I was devising for my Year 11 class one year, and I wrote an essay for one of her exhibitions. While she lived in Launceston, we spent lots of time together, often in helpless laughter as we explored our very different worlds and found delight and quirkiness and absurdity in our very real differences.

So there you have it! A very-long winded post about Deb’s favourite sister 🙂

Links:

Sharon blogs at Musing from the Cold

Instagram at drSharonPittaway

Sisters
Sisters

******

I’m sure you’ll agree with me about Sharon being a very interesting person and a great start to my new feature.

I encourage you to check out her own blog and also her photos on the 52 week photography project, in which she’s a participant along with other members of our family.

Up next I’ll be sharing another favourite blogger, one I’ve ‘met’ more recently, and who also has an interesting profile – Donna.

Stay tuned!

Thanks for joining in, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Make life the adventure it was meant to be.

Deb 🙂

You can also follow Deb’s World here:

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Meet Sharon my first guest poster for a new series on my blog, called People of Interest
Meet Sharon

 

 

47 Replies to “People of interest #1 – Meet Sharon”

  1. Great to meet you here, Sharon. I love your creative and thoughtful answers to Deb’s question. My only concern is that you have now set the bar VERY HIGH for all other Guest Hosts to follow! 🙂
    I’m off to check out Musings from the Cold now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jody. I’m quite envious of the community Deb generates around her, but lack the skills to generate one for myself. It’s been one feature of our sisterhood that I tend to dip into her communities … very generously Deb never seems to mind.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post!! Love reading about Aunty Sharon and an awesome first interesting persons post! Aunty Sharon has set the bar very high with her answers. So insightful and I can just imagine her and S Wandering around Paris!! This is going to be a great series Mum!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much Shirley! Her number for grandchildren is a source of contention between us because although I’m older I don’t have any yet!! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed reading my first post in this series.

      Like

    2. Hello Shirley, I can tell you it’s almost a full-time job keeping up with birthdays for all the grandkids!! Lucky there are plenty of good books available. And don’t get me started on Christmas! What a load of fun it is though, choosing one special gift for each of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharon: Brilliant post! I loved reading about you being “contrary”. I am very much the same, I feel that by challenging ourselves, especially our beliefs and ideologies, it’s a way we can grow as people. When we stay too long in our comfort-zone, unchallenged and from our single perspective, we stagnate a little. By exploring other ideas with words, images, or simply by being us I think it helps build empathy and understanding (not to mention keep the brain going!).

    Deb: Great post (and great choice for first poster!), I’m looking forward to you introducing us to more people of interest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Shaun – that’s very kind of you. You’re right – looking at the world from a range of perspectives keeps the brain going – although I have to admit that when I read the comments on some news items, all my brain is doing is ‘Seriously? You seriously thought that was worth posting in a public space?’ Which isn’t terribly empathic or understanding of me … but it does help me remember the diversity of people we share the planet with.

      By the by, I really enjoyed your post on feedback! It’s timely for me to read it, given I’ll be writing a lot of it across the next few weeks. I’ll be sure to let my students know that my feedback means I’m invested in their work and their learning 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha! I must admit I am the same. There are plenty of people out there who I really, really don’t understand. I suppose its about being conscious enough to know these people come from a different place in life, with different values, and about understanding they’re different even if we inherently don’t agree… Some people do need a good shaking though; modern day politics has shown me that much!

        Thank you so much 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed! I tried to take something people view as negative and show that there’s still a value there. A lot of people don’t like receiving (or even giving) feedback, but really its a great help and helps to grow! For students its especially important 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. What an interesting and diverse person you are Sharon – I love that you are creative and not afraid to step out of your comfort zone (two qualities I am working hard on!) I don’t have any sisters, and I always have a little bit of envy in my heart for those who do – and especially for the ones who are close friends as well. Great first guest post i/view Deb!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a wonderful first interview Deb and I agree with everyone else here, your sister’s going to be a hard cookie to follow. Great read.
    Sharon, I loved learning about you. You’re certainly living life to the full, which is absolutely the best way to live. Good for you. Happy blogging and happy travelling. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Miriam. I’m beginning to understand why Deb creates communities around her – the little frisson of pleasure you get when reading others’ comments on your work is quite appealing – dare I say, potentially addictive!
      I really appreciate you stopping to comment on my guest post. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Deb,

    I enjoyed reading this post and learning about your sister. Interestingly I have a good friend in Launceston who is friend of Lisa Nolan and shared an exhibition with quite a few years ago in Collins street Melbourne. I love young children’s literature too and miss not having children to read to. I love illustrated children’s books. I’m a bit out of touch with new titles and am going to check out those titles.Also going to get clicking on some of the links.

    Louise

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Louise … you must know Melissa Smith! Melissa and Lisa held an exhibition of their work ‘Roget’s Circular’ In Collins St, Melbourne. From memory Melissa and Lisa are working on something new together – or planning to. I’m sure it’ll be brilliant! What a small world!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I woke up this morning not knowing what the day would bring, popped by #BloggersPitStop and I read this. I felt warm and fuzzy and inspired to do more with my day. Great post, great guest post! Thank you!
    Hope this weekend treats you kindly and off to share this so others can enjoy, hopefully as thoroughly as I have.:)

    Liked by 2 people

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