Mission Who Shaped Me

holidays 2009 sept
Reflections – June Perkins

Yes, I did it! I finished my nineteen blogs on Who Shaped Me. Now here are the heroes and heroines of my upbringing and present existence.

My Mum – impatient, generous and strong

My writing/art mentor – charismatic and universal

My religious education teacher – practical, disciplined and creative

My music teacher – patient and giving to even the children who hated choir

My best friend from high school – who respected my culture

My movement teacher – gracious and creative

My Dad – and his love of music, especially the recorder, musicals, folk and classical

Mr Kidd – who took the time to encourage and put on a stage show with his class

My friends like Nicki – who were there walking with me in my youth and who had parents who saw inner beauty

My friend Justin – funny, kind, arty who died too young

My children – for all they have taught me about being a mother through being who they are

My dearest Bridesmaid – for her honesty and purity of spirit

The Study Brigade– a group of older girls who gave made the library a cool place to hang out

My rainbow school and Grade Six teacher – teaching me the strengths of co-operation and competition and the importance of striving for excellence

The Farmer’s Wife – a dear friend who taught me to drive and much more about the sacrifices country women and mothers make

My childhood self –every childhood experience combined to make me who I am

My writing self – reflective diaries allowed me to process my experiences and shape myself

The Inspiring Nance – who will always embody true love with her dear husband Ray

My film mentors – Leandro and Mick for their inspiration and practical tips

Along the way I’ve asked the people whose stories I was writing, when I could, if it was okay to share the stories on the blog.
Friends have written me the most touching emails responding to the stories. One friend phoned me saying she had shed happy and emotional tears after reading the piece on her, and was so happy that I understood her so well. Precious photographs have also begun to arrive.

I have reconnected to many friends and realised how much I miss them as they now live in Germany, Tasmania, Victoria, and places unknown. Yet each person has a place in my heart,  and played a part in shaping me.

I think perhaps it’s time to write my memoirs, in tribute to the people who’ve inspired me to live the best life I can and make the most of the talents and opportunities I have.

And for those I missed, there’s more stories on the way.  So stay tuned.

Let me know which story resonated for you the most, here or under the story concerned.  

Thank you so much for following my blog challenge.

Film Making Mentors: Piece 19

Mick and Me -Courtesy of Nathalie Fernbach – ABC

I couldn’t end this journey of who shaped me without special mention of Mick Bromage and Leandro Palacio who have helped shape my beginnings as a film maker.

They have taught me that you start with your imagination and a storyline.  You begin to create that storyline through images and sounds.

You match the images to the interview narratives, and cut between them and the person speaking to add interest.

You need to be alert and aware to the atmosphere of sound.

You add to that a layer of music.

Equipment wise all you need is a video camera or a smart/(video)phone or digital slr to begin.

As you develop you might start to collect your sound with a microphone or tablet.

You can map out the kind of pictures you are going to collect, and do a range of close-ups and mid shots, establishing scene shots, and conveying the story shots.

I will never forget the day Leandro taught me about exploring all the angles to find the perfect images for the Dance for Recovery video.  I raced wherever he asked me to and he gently called out instructions as to what kind of footage to attempt.

Other times I have learnt by watching.  Accompanying Mick to Murray Upper, I collected audio for a video and watched as Mick used his camera, set up lighting, and encouraged the children to relax as he took photos of their dreams.

They have never let me feel overwhelmed by editing programs and equipment but let me learn lots by myself and given me handy tips when I had a perplexed look on my face, or asked a question.

I like that they are meticulous and honest and will tell me at precisely which point the editing needs fixing and how to maybe do it.  They also give handy feedback and debriefing so I know what to do better next time.

I learn a lot by watching their films carefully, and wondering, now how did Mick do that, how did Leandro do that?

They are always very busy, as so many people and organisations want their help and they cover such large areas, but they have taught me most of myself to believe in my ability to learn, and to research how to do things not just simply rely on their help.  At some point when your being mentored you need to be confident to learn stuff yourself.

This year I had a short film shown at the Mission Beach Film Festival.  It was thanks to their mentoring and encouragement.

If you want to see it click on the link: Dance for Recovery

DSC_0794 (4)
Leandro and June – Taken with Self Timer- June Perkins

Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.

Swirling, Almost Something: Piece 18

Smoke Art - I
Smoke art 1 -Flickr creative commons NeilBetter


An abstract painting full of swirling almost something shapes, hangs above the stairs in the hall entrance, and grabs the attention of all visitors to Nance’s.

Visitors, especially children, are always struck by it, and stop to gaze, as Nance asks them: ’What do you think it is?’ She adds their guess to all the others from earlier visitors and shares earlier interpretations, but only after they offer their own.

Nance attends University of the Third Age and is an avid reader, who has never stopped questioning and being open to the ways of the world.  Although, nestled in her seaside home she has in some ways retreated from the world and carved out a nest of memory and solitude to which others are welcome.

‘What he says makes a lot of sense,’ she is telling the story of some guru in India who she has recently been reading, and recommends him to me.  ‘No one has sole tabs on the truth,’ she muses.

‘So many pathways lead to the same God.’

The gifts of overseas travels and teaching sabbaticals with her husband are everywhere.  He is gone, (he passed away from a heart condition) and yet near in every conversation.  But this is no home of grief, but rather one where every memory is treasured and embodied in every object and the intangible it seems.

‘Yes, that’s from when Ray and I were at…’

Nance introduces us to ‘ginger kiss’ biscuits, her favourite thing to offer visitors, along with raisin toast and a cuppa.

Now, eating ginger kisses always reminds me of Nance and brings her advice back as if on fortune cookie paper running like a reel in my head.

She offers sage advice that has kept her in good stead all her life – things like ‘never go to sleep angry with your partner.’

‘If you can afford it get a housekeeper if you are working, don’t try to do it all.’

‘Children remember the love not how good a housekeeper you are’

She looks after a shack right next to her house, which is owned by the Quakers but which she can book people into too; it provides cheap accommodation for people wanting to escape the city.  A visitor’s book within is full of comments from people who have enjoyed staying in house, free from television, and other distractions.  It has fishing rods, board games and is a short walk to the beach.

We stay there a few times, next to Nance, in our own family space, but popping over for a cuppa and a chat during our time by the sea.

Later we go and live around the corner from Nance for a whole year whilst I am writing up my PhD.

Nance is a carer to many people, driving friends with cancer to hospital, picking up people without transport to bring them to meetings, and visiting those who cannot go out easily.

Nance’s house is neat, tidy, and a row of cyclamens dress the window sill.   She can look out to the ocean from her front veranda.

Her children and grandchildren visit now and then.  Later a daughter and husband will come and live in the house downstairs.

Nance shapes how I see time, true love and memory embodied in objects, spaces and people.   Her sage advice is imprinted on me and comes back when I need it most.

For me she will forever be in the painting full of swirling almost something shapes, each object of the house, ginger kiss biscuits, and intangible questions, when she, like Ray, is travelling in another spiritual realm.

Smoke Art - II
Smoke Art 2- Flickr Creative Commons Neilbetter


Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.

Skin and bone, short curly hair, dreams and fancies: Piece 17

Butterfly Kids – June Perkins

She was a funny little thing that childhood me – skin and bone, short curly hair, dreams and fancies. She used to like to pretend she knew Joan of Arc personally. She was riding in her army. She stopped her burning at the stake.

She loved to pretend she was Heidi, and so when taking her lunch of bread rolls made by Dad to school, she wrapped them up in red checked tea towel. She imagined she was in the Swiss Alps.

She hated having her photo taken, well that is if she was being forced to look into the sun. She remembers one day having to pose on the sand with her Dad, whilst she was scowling and saying ’when will this be over Mum’ and before you know it the polaroid image was taken, and froze her forever in scowls.

She had intense feelings, that didn’t always lead her down the right path. I remember a particularly bad day when she broke a friend’s doll because he wouldn’t let her play with it, and yet everyone else had, had a turn.

What a jealous little child – to run away with the doll and lob it into a sand pit, well that’s how I remember it.  The doll wore a velvet red dress, had long golden locks and she was so beautiful you wanted to dress her up and brush her hair again and again. I always wanted to own a doll like that, to think I actually hurt her still gives me a rapid butterfly tummy moment (she was repaired and duly not bought to school again, unless shared on a roster with all the other kids.)

I remember her many sleepless nights after that, where the ghost of that damaged doll came knocking at her window and gave that funny childhood me the heeby jeeby’s. That’s childhood guilt for you. I still don’t like those glass eyed dolls much though.

That funny child makes me laugh, because she cannot see into her future – the children she will have, the life she will lead and the humour she will see in her many learning experiences.   Her children will not be hungry or want for toys and books in their childhood, but they will be tested in other ways.

I love her intensity and passion though, as she writes poems about seeds falling to plant themselves in the ground and then grow, dreams about the book written by her that friends and family will oneday borrow from the local library, and dreams of freedom from her three brothers who are driving her up the wall.  She knows what it is to do without, and the bad breath that hunger brings.

She doesn’t know her wishes will come at a cost, and that she’ll remember their happy childhood excursions with a nostalgic sadness.

Once all her brothers and she all played shops with coins made from rusted tin, cricket and climbed trees together. She was the cool tom boy big sister who saw herself as the ring leader of their games.

Along the way the second in line, her now lost brother, usurped her throne and she was banished from the cricket games for ‘being a girl.’ She turned to books and journals and struggled with being the outsider amongst her siblings. She dreamt of sisters, aunties, and formed attachments beyond family to fill the loneliness.

She grew up, to become me,  and had friends who were brothers and sisters, tried desperately to outrun the family who had partly raised her, and then one day her heart returned home and forgave them and herself.

I stand at the threshold of those memories and pat her gently on the back.

Time to remember that which hurts, that which heals and that which gives peace. Sometimes it’s good to just chuckle at the follies of our childhood and youth.

And every now and then a gleam drop of joy falls.

I hold out my hand to her and beckon her forth – funny little thing that childhood me – skin and bone, short curly hair, dreams and fancies.

Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.

The Light and Shade of Life in Who Shaped Me

June Perkins

The light and shade of life is reflected in many of the current ABC Open Who Shaped Me contributions.

Not everyone is happy with the person who shaped them.  They have moulded themselves into an opposite.

For instance read Just Jane’s initially bleak Driving Away from Darkness , a damning portrait of a relative which has me thinking of Patrick White’s bleak characters or Denis Murphy’s ambiguous take on his father’s good and challenging qualities Beware the 17th of March

There are a number of pieces exploring the ambiguous relationship many have with the church and these pieces see a character shaped by rebelling against dangerous authority.

Janet Cameron’s Thou Shalt Not Be Free
Emma Brook Mahr’s Thanks Be to Nuns
Denis Murphy’s A Strange Gratitude

There are a number of more celebratory pieces exploring the role of religion/philosophy and spirituality in moving people into positive learning spaces.  Buddhism, Christianity, and philosophers and self- help artists make it in here.

Petrus Spronk’s The Real Stuff
Janet Hoppe’s The Prophet

Kit Rowley’s I am Someone
Jacqueline Jaffrey’s The Face of Hell
Denis Phale’s My Mate Col 

And we meet the philosophy of Frank Robinson in Kate Campbell Lloyd’s The Aquarian Age.

Somewhat related to this explorations of philosophy is a piece where patriarchy is unpacked in:

The Double Whammy

Then there are pieces where grief for those lost is central and it has different outcomes for those shaped, both negative as in: Vaidhi Kahout’s Father

And positive as in: Tiger Greentongue’s Live Forever and Angelfires’s Just Like Mother

For others it is partly a person that shaped them but also a place and object:

University in Storytellers of My Life  (Liz Martin)

The Railways in A Model Life   (CK)

And for a few distant heroes have shaped them for the better: Anna Macgowan’s The Man in the Moon

Meeow Girl’s Love of a Child Star Role Model 

Every now and then are distinctly country themes like in Erica Stewart’s ‘The Naturally Resourceful Women who Shaped Me.’  and Ann Green’s ‘Old Bob’

So why not head over and read some of the above posts and leave your responses to the stories for the many contributors to Who Shaped Me.

Next Month’s Theme, Family Rituals is just around the corner.