The Creative

I listened to the last peep show zoom call this morning with Bec Griffiths and Yan Palmer.  I learnt so much over the last 6 weeks. Here’s a few things that stuck in my heart and have been tormenting my brain to write them out of my head.

There were hundreds of conversations, questions during the zoom calls. I can sum them up in a few words’ creatives are brave, they are thoughtful, kind, generous, and also willing to be the hard qualities as well, vulnerable and awkward. Yes, it looks as though the creative person just posts photos on Instagram or hits send on a client gallery, collects the money(sometimes) and the work is done. Hahahah. No. Deep in my bones and each and every creative that I listened to invests a little piece of their heart in every art work. The thoughts, time, energy, and emotion to get to that finished work is immense. Firstly, the photographer or creative who offers their service in a business has sat down and specifically targeted you. Sounds creepy hey! It’s not. It is thoughtful.

The creative person wants to serve you and serve their creativity. There is a digging up of the creative’s own fears, own limiting beliefs, they invest in looking into their own heart with empathy, there is vulnerability in sharing themselves. The creative is constantly doing their own internal work so they can work with clarity, knowledge and imagination to best serve their art and client.  The creative thinks and feels into who their ideal client is, they base their business around creating a business and offerings of their art that their ideal client will fall in love with.  Fall in love with because, there is a piece of heart and soul in each piece, there is a deep and potent energy that is infused in the art and you the client connects with that.  Because when the creative is producing this work and wants to grow and expand and create with more and more people, there level of enthusiasm and energy is high and at times is hard to remember that not everyone is on the same page, not every person wants to create or explore boundaries and there is immense amount of work in building trust with clients. When you just want to say for fuck sake, I am a nice person, I take awesome photos, you are looking at my social media or website for a reason, we will have a great time, just book in with me.

There is a deep level of vulnerability, of feeling awkward, of stretching boundaries and being willing to be laughed at or feel stupid. Because for a creative person the art needs to be made. The deep calling to release it into the world then makes space for more art to flow through.

Each time a creative has to market themselves to sell themselves, launch a new piece of art or a project, promote a new offering, the practice of this is so exciting and so terrifying. Each time you do this, again it is your heart and vision being put on display.  When you hit post or send or exhibit the work in person there are feelings of joy and anticipation, pleasure and pride at your own work. Also, terror. But knowing that, to that end point, that finished piece it is from your heart, it is the creation that you are most at peace with, the art that you feel like you can let go of. It is an overwhelming feeling going down the street being celebrated on an extravagant float everyone calling your name in celebration then looking down and you are completely naked. However, these intense feelings are the driver, the stretcher of boundaries, the creator of new art work.

It is a life of forever exploring, refining, being transparent, building relationships, being imperfect, forever being curious and knowing your value. And even if your art work doesn’t attract the accolades or dollars that you hoped, you just create more, you dig deeper into you and your heart and you create what needs to be released into the world through your heart and vision.

Artists documentary sessions

I love telling stories through pictures and words. My photography work is documentary style, my writing is essay style. My heart fancies a good story, one of my joys is to tell stories, hear stories, and share stories. My website is full of stories of mine, and wonderful women that I have interviewed.  My writing is honest and kind, I cover all the emotions that hearts beat to. Telling stories is a way for me to process. To see how far I have come, to realise goals have been met (or not), to be grateful. To know that I have survived 100% of any event good or bad. I write about ordinary, everyday occurrences. I write about the love, the hurt and the special events. Pen and paper, a keyboard and blank word document are where I lay down my words. I have always taken photos for my own family, and have decided to offer another way of telling stories, so I am adding a full frame DSLR camera to my work. My focus in photography is the small moments, the details, the emotion, the everyday ordinary. There is an immense amount of trust placed in me, my eye and camera to allow me to capture images within the flow of family life that is being experienced at that moment.  I am grateful and humbled to have the opportunity to show you through my eyes your precious life.

 

Let’s document your journey. The processes of your work, the tools, your space, your hands, and your finished art work. The practice of each stage of the work. The growth and development of you, the person letting creativity, emotion, love flow through your heart into your hands and into the work of art. I understand and respect the sanctity of an artist’s studio. It is a personal space where you can be totally vulnerable and I will honour that in my work.

email me: meled79@gmail.com

DM @mrsmelindaedwards

Rural and farming family documentary session

I love telling stories through pictures and words. My photography work is documentary style, my writing is essay style. My heart fancies a good story, one of my joys is to tell stories, hear stories, and share stories. My website is full of stories of mine, and wonderful women that I have interviewed.  My writing is honest and kind, I cover all the emotions that hearts beat to. Telling stories is a way for me to process. To see how far I have come, to realise goals have been met (or not), to be grateful. To know that I have survived 100% of any event good or bad. I write about ordinary, everyday occurrences. I write about the love, the hurt and the special events. Pen and paper, a keyboard and blank word document are where I lay down my words. I have always taken photos for my own family, and have decided to offer another way of telling stories, so I am adding a full frame DSLR camera to my work. My focus in photography is the small moments, the details, the emotion, the everyday ordinary. There is an immense amount of trust placed in me, my eye and camera to allow me to capture images within the flow of family life that is being experienced at that moment.  I am grateful and humbled to have the opportunity to show you through my eyes your precious life.

Ordinary everyday moments are the thread that make up our lives, our work, relationships, the seasons, the process of an “ordinary day”. Rural/ farming families have a unique life and extreme circumstances, from the location, the distances and the weather. All factors that seem common place, “ordinary” to you. However a wide range of the population have no concept of your lifestyle. The grit, the resilience, the humor, the extremes that are only a few hours from their own front door.  I capture the moment, preserve it in a single click, one that you didn’t realise was so special. You are unique, brave, strong and spirited, you are connected to the land, environment, Mother Nature like no other.  I would be so humbled and honored

to work with you in a documentary session. It would be 2-3 hours of me spending time with your family doing whatever it is you are doing on the day. Hanging out at home, in the paddock, the yards with immediate and or extended family, working, cooking, eating, playing whatever the day brings, I will try my absolute best to blend into the background. I will capture the people, the animals, and the landscape. Mostly I will capture the family bonds, the connection, the memories, details of your life and loves. You will receive from me 20-30 high resolution images your life on that particular day.

email me: meled79@gmail.com

DM @mrsmelindaedwards

Family documentary session

Hi, my names is Melinda and I love telling stories through pictures and words. My photography work is documentary style, my writing is essay style. My heart fancies a good story, one of my joys is to tell stories, hear stories, and share stories. My website is full of stories of mine, and wonderful women that I have interviewed.  My writing is honest and kind, I cover all the emotions that hearts beat to. Telling stories is a way for me to process. To see how far I have come, to realise goals have been met (or not), to be grateful. To know that I have survived 100% of any event good or bad. I write about ordinary, everyday occurrences. I write about the love, the hurt and the special events. Pen and paper, a keyboard and blank word document are where I lay down my words. I have always taken photos for my own family, and have decided to offer another way of telling stories, so I am adding a full frame DSLR camera to my work. My focus in photography is the small moments, the details, the emotion, the everyday ordinary. There is an immense amount of trust placed in me, my eye and camera to allow me to capture images within the flow of family life that is being experienced at that moment.  I am grateful and humbled to have the opportunity to show you through my eyes your precious life.

Ordinary everyday moments are the thread that make up our lives, our work, relationships, the seasons, the process of an “ordinary day. All events that seem commonplace, minor moments that happen every day. I want to capture the moment preserve it in a single click, that moment, the one that you didn’t realise was so special. Life; people, health, wealth changes. Nothing stays the same, everyday ordinary images captured in that very moment stay the same. The smile, the hands, the details of the space, the connection, the love. Let’s seize those moments! So you will have the images that I capture of your life to look back on, the “ordinary, honest” moments that will start a conversation, leading you down memory lane, to times, people and places that have changed, grown, moved on, some forgotten but cherished.

 

A documentary session with me would be 1-2 hours of me spending time with your family doing whatever it is you are doing. Hanging out at home with immediate and or extended family, cooking, eating, playing. Spending time cocooned at home with a new born. Playing with toddlers, lounging like lizards with teenagers. A cup of tea with grandma. All stages of life babies to oldies. I want to capture images of the fresh new babies and the creased, wise and knowledgeable.  Any and all seasons of life. I will capture the people, the faces, the setting. Mostly I will capture the family bonds, the connection, the memories, details of your life and loves.

 

email me: meled79@gmail.com

DM: @mrsmelindaedwards

Marina Meier

Marina.

A magical, sparkly shop was where we scheduled our meeting, surrounded by stained glass lighting, imported handcrafted Turkish rugs and handbags, time pieces hanging from every wall, sparkling jewels and trinkets on every surface. The aroma of the coffee machine seduced us away from the window shopping and straight to Bengü, Gallery B’s exotic owner. Marina and I took our preferred beverages to the alfresco area at the back of this little wonderland.

Marina is a woman I have worked with before, I wanted to know her story, and how she found herself specialising in boudoir photography. She starts by telling me the photo sessions are a process of healing, healing for herself and the woman that she is working with. She takes a deep breath and starts what she tells me is a long story. How she feels she was pushed into the decision to take this path, but the backstory is important part of her journey that she feels is her destiny.

“As you know I was born in Kazakhstan, which was part of the Soviet Union. I have a German / Russian background and am from a small village, so quiet conservative. After the revolution there was all of this equality, and woman could do whatever men could do. There was no limits they could be engineers, they could be astronaut if they wanted. But at the same time, it was two extremes woman in Soviet Union was like traditional woman, who take of the family, who takes cares of the children, cooks, cleans, and takes care of her husband like another child. But she goes to work as well full-time”.

“But there is still a lot of degrading thoughts about woman like “chicken is not a bird and woman is not a human”. Of course it isn’t the whole society but it is still part of the culture. Woman body, nude body, sexuality, sex there was no talks at all about this. It is all taboo. There was all negativity around the body and it wasn’t like I had that sort of relationship with my mum where we would talk, when I was becoming a young woman. So everything about that body image and sexuality was taboo and it was dirty and it was bad.

Marina remembers negative dialog around a woman that had left the village in her twenties unmarried, studied, had her own money, apartment, a career women. Listening to this harmful gossip as a child Marina thought no little girl would want to grow up like this woman. Much the same if you got pregnant out of wedlock or divorced, women were pushed into a mould of being a second class citizen. Marina tells me about her beloved Grandma’s story.

“I feel her presence at the moment. My grandma had quite a difficult life, she was divorced. My grandfather he was an alcoholic and quiet aggressive when he was drunk, my mum tell stories that she would break a window to run away, when he was in this aggressive mood. And I guess if my grandfather didn’t leave the family then my grandmother wouldn’t get divorced from him because it was taboo and he left the family when my mum was young. My grandma, single mother of four, working full time. They did not get married because of love, they got married because my great- grandfather and grandfather were drinking together one time and well it became more or less an arranged marriage, it wasn’t love at first sight, it wasn’t a beautiful life and I think that it is best for my grandmother that grandfather left, but it certainly didn’t make her life easier. She never married or had another partner. At any family wedding or event my grandmother would sit in the furthest part of the room from my grandfather. When they were buried, there graves are next to each other. It is quiet ironic, it wasn’t planned, it just happened, my grandmother died first and then my grandfather died a couple of years later”.

“When we moved to Germany I was eighteen. I married when I was twenty. I started to study photography at the same time and the first few years, I was still influenced by my Russian/ German background. The first day when I went into the photo studio where I met my mentor who became my best friend, I opened the door and walked in, and there were pictures everywhere framed and unframed. The first picture that got my attention was a picture mounted behind the counter. It was a black and white a2 size, it was a pregnant women, just the torso. I couldn’t see much of her face it was turned to the side, she was a silhouette. She was nude. She was completely naked. I could see her bare breasts, I was looking at a nude pregnant woman. A nude picture of a pregnant woman on the wall. It was a shock for me. Who would do that! Why would they do that! In my head everything about nudity was supposed to be private and intimate. Your nude body is supposed to be very, very private, and it was kind of dirty. It was so shocking. I was so shocked”.

marina photo 1

“So every day I started to come to this classic portrait photo studio. Classic, you know, families, babies, new borns, pregnancy, weddings, passport pictures, corporate portraits, communion photos. But she also specialised in art nudes, studio boudoir sessions. There were not many at the time showcasing pictures like this, it was a speciality that she really loved. Sometimes, when we would put pictures in the window to display them, we could come the next morning to the studio and have a lot of cigarette butts in front of the window, there was also a lot of rotten eggs thrown at the window!

As her internship progressed Marina immersed herself in her role, the work, the people and their stories, she thrived on this experience where everything was different and new. She came to recognise that the women in these photos weren’t models. But, beautiful normal people, everyday women, teachers, mums, accountants, all beautiful.

“Looking at these made me see that, oh my god, these are normal people, it’s not Sodom and Gomorrah, they not prostitutes, it’s not dirty. At that moment I was 20 and I was naïve and had all of these background stories in my head. Then I started to meet these people because I was assisting my mentor while she was photographing. Over the years I would get to know these people, because they would be photographed when they first become a couple when they are so in love, and they wanted pictures for the Christmas for the family and then photograph their wedding and then photograph the pregnancy and the first baby and the second baby and then first day of school. Then mum comes in and says: “I feel like I have lost myself I want to feel sexy, I now you can take these pictures, can you take these pictures of me? I mean I know I have cellulite and my belly isn’t beautiful anymore because of the stretch marks.”

“I really did feel like a part of a family. We were giving pieces of our souls, because it was all analogue photography and I was standing in the dark room developing these images, and I would stand there and cry, because, I would remember the story she would tell us. The intimate stories, the sad stories, the happy stories and they would all make me cry”.

That is how Marina started as a photographer, she eventually out grew her surroundings in her professional and personal story. She needed to escape, so she ran as far away as possible, to travel and study English. She landed on Australian soil on the 26th October 2007. Flying back to Germany she resigned from her job seeking professional and personal growth elsewhere. Berlin became her new residence and her new partner her home. At the time, in the back of her mind was a dream to be self-employed one day. But she never felt ready, she knew she had the talent and skill to be successful and thrived on the connection with her clients. However, arriving in Berlin she was took on a job as Manager of a photography studio.

“When I started the job in Berlin it was very different because I was on my own, I was managing the studio, and at some point I got apprentice’s that I was responsible for. I didn’t have as much contact with the clients anymore, there was a separate studio and shop and to make it more efficient I only had contact with the clients when I photographed them. I never had a chance to meet them before the session or when they would pick up the images. It started to become more money making and not about connection and that’s what made me burn out”.

Marina’s health started to suffer. Marina wasn’t eating or sleeping, her body was expressing her soul’s unhappiness as physical symptoms. Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. The studio’s clients were happy with what they were getting, but this didn’t sustain Marina, she had lost the connection with the whole process. Her creative work wasn’t coming from her heart anymore, it was money making. Boudoir photography was growing in Marina’s portfolio in the time she was burning out at the studio. Boudoir is founded on trust. Photographer and client would meet before the shoot, she painted the faces of her client and then Marina captured the essence of the woman in images, during their three hours together. Marina would not be rushed with these creative connections with her clients.

“The boudoir shoot is how I got to know my clients, they come to the shoot and I was doing the makeup. This is where they were telling their stories, they were sharing things they probably never shared with anyone. I photograph them and see the transformation from shy and nervous, to working half nude in front of me, and we become friends, that was magical.

marina and bengu

Boudoir is not about sex, I see more of the sensual, intimate, yes it could be sexy but it is not necessary for it. It’s about the 40 something years old mum with five children that comes to me and says, “I can’t look at myself in the mirror, what I see there is so disgusting”. From being a young woman, to the abuse, to the five children, she is an amazing person I see the beauty in her eyes. Yes, she has wrinkles, her body carried five children, she nourished five children. I see the miracle of life, the miracle of giving life, the miracle and beauty of her. When she looks in the mirror she has lost the connection to her femininity. She lost connection to herself, to who she is. She is working full time, she is a mum, she is a wife, she’s a friend, a daughter, there is so much and she always puts herself last. Somehow there was something in her that realised she needs to change something that is why she has started to do things outside of her comfort zone. That is when she discovered what I am doing”.

After chasing this same connection with her clients from continuing her work at the studio and increasing her boudoir sessions, she applied for a job in Switzerland, she travelled for three days to explore the possibility. She cried for the three days, at the end of this release Marina’s heart told her that if she took this job she would be in the same situation but with a different view.

Big changes started unfolding for Marina, her dream to be self-employed started to manifest. She was petrified, fear of financial instability, but she had the support of her partner who was also going through changes at work. They started having hard conversations with life changing questions. Where do you want to be employed? Do you want to be self-employed here? Do you want to move somewhere else? They decided there new chapter would be in the place they met, the place Marina dreamed of as a magical country when she was a child, a place as far away from possible from all the struggle. They landed in Australia 14th October 2014.

Arriving in a new country Marina felt like a new woman, an independent woman, still fearful but excited. This is the part of the story where she was pushed into boudoir photography. The owner of the studio she worked for in Berlin, forbid her from using the images she had created and added to her online portfolio when applying for jobs in Australia.

“The images that I created the last four or five years I wasn’t able to use them, I mean I can understand if I was doing this and making my own studio maybe five hundred metres away from him but I was going on the other side of the world. It was devastating for me, this was my work, how do I apply for jobs without being able to show my work, fresh work. I was now depending on my partner, he got his visa and I was on the partner visa, I had a right to work and I had a right to become self-employed. I had no job and no website with images that I could use. I had to think about what had given me the most joy. When I was in this difficult time of depression and burn out I was thinking of quitting photography completely. I have been doing this for 13 years. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else! What else could I do? This is when I started the process of self-development. I realised I didn’t love myself.

marina 2

That is where boudoir photography and loving yourself and loving your body, loving you as is, that’s where it all comes together. Seeing woman coming to me and willing to change something, willing to see themselves in a different way, wanting me to show them a different side to them, wanting to reconnect to their femininity or even discover their femininity. I felt like I was seeing this as a whole picture, and boudoir was something that I could without a studio. It was something that I was enjoying most from all the stages of my photography.

I was scared to focus, I was scared that it was too focussed. I was thinking things like; there are so many people who don’t like it, who don’t get it, who don’t understand it. Why on earth would you focus on that! You would lose so many clients, if you do family portraits everyone loves family portraits. Everyone loves baby photography! Everyone loves a new born photo, families spend so much money on it that would be easier. But, the best work I do is one on one that is where I can get to know them and connect. It doesn’t have to be boudoir it can be fine art, it can be editorial. So I kept myself safe with fine art, editorial and boudoir. When I would go to the networking events or telling people what I do I was hiding myself behind fine art and editorial photography. If I said boudoir people then say, what is that? Then when I would show pictures, some would get it wrong and then think it was dirty again, and then some would be like, “ohh, who wants to do that”!

marina workng

I wasn’t standing my ground. Now I say I am a boudoir photographer. It was a process of the last three years. There were moments where I was thinking, “gosh it is kind of going nowhere”. No, I won’t give it up. I know stories of the woman I have photographed. I have photographed a woman who’s 74 years old, who has got a husband who is sick for many, many years and she is caring for him, but she fell in love. She is 74 years old and she fell in love with another guy and she is having an affair. Or is it! I don’t know, I don’t care. She is a wonderful beautiful person and I don’t think it is bad, she is great, she is a woman, she is a human being, she’s got her needs, and it’s ok. I mean she cares for her husband. But, she is in love with someone else, and she came to me and wanted me to photograph her. For me, I want to be like her when I am 74, not the sick husband, but in love and still wanting sex and live my sexuality and not thinking, “oh, ok I am 40 and life is done”. There are so many more woman like this and I know what impact it has on their lives. It is addicting to hear their stories, and see them change and transform it is addicting. And it heals me. It is ok to love your body, doesn’t matter the scars, it doesn’t matter shape, size or age. It’s ok”.

Devoting her life’s work to women and their stories, what is the definition of woman for Marina?

“Woman there is so much that pops into my head, though the first things maybe that silhouette. The next thing is pain and growth and love and seeds, like plants and their seeds. Growing the seeds putting them into the earth and seeing them come up and growing and giving fruit”.

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Yvonne Rinaldi

matriarch

ˈmeɪtrɪɑːk

noun: matriarch; plural noun: matriarchs

  1. a woman who is the head of a family or tribe.

“in some cultures the mother proceeds to the status of a matriarch”

    • an older woman who is powerful within a family or organization.

“a domineering matriarch”

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I am perched on the edge of the visitors chair in Yvonne’s office that is reminiscent of a fishbowl. Two of the four walls in her office are floor to ceiling windows looking over the grounds of Caboolture Montessori School. Next to me is Yvonne’s collection of Elephants, every colour every size. I draw in a deep breath while taking in these beauties, thinking of the traits I know about these extraordinary mammals and the matriarchs that lead them – wisdom, strength, intelligence, natural born facilitators, social intelligence, openness, decisiveness, patience, confidence, and compassion. The banging in my chest, the fluttering of wings in my belly and my shaky hands, do not at all mirror the woman sitting comfortably in her office chair, stockinged legs crossed, arms lounging on the arm rests, chest, heart and face open, smiling and confident.

The planning of Caboolture Montessori 20 years ago, was the result of two women making a decision to commit their passion, time, and money into a venture that they wanted to succeed.

“Then three years later I left and went to a bigger school, then nine, nearly ten years ago I heard that they were looking for a principal here.

I decided to come back home.”

Yvonne, like Dr Montessori has training in the medical field. Medical technology and haematology were the fields that Yvonne first trained in, she held a position working with children in Zulu land looking at protein calorie malnutrition. Working closely with little ones she discovered that children were a lot more than physical entities, that they have an amazing capacity. Ever the student, Yvonne needed to know how to understand children on a deeper level than she had been trained for. About to become a mother herself, she sought a type of schooling that would nourish the whole child, the answer was given to her through word of mouth.

“That was 39 years ago, after that I looked at education, I managed to get myself two degrees. Firstly traditional education, and when I was doing my masters, I decided that again Montessori seemed the best thing because it was appealing to all areas of learning. So Montessori is it”

Yvonne’s education on a cellular and intellectual level of children’s development and growth is what sustains her. Her wise assessment and constant wonder of watching a child be able to do things for themselves, their own development and education and not being held to the “monkey see, monkey do” phrase, influences her. She takes her job seriously in influencing others to see the wonder that she sees.

“To get the best out of who they are as adults is looking for the best in children. It’s really not words and I really believe that so strongly. That every child is magic, and it’s up to us to remove those barriers to allow the magic to happen, and then provide scaffolding for them. I have millions of these moments for me. I mean for me it’s a daily occurrence. When I see one of the students and their eyes brighten up and they say over and over again, “I have done it” and you know they have done it. That to me is a glorious moment”.

When selecting people that she can nurture, learn from, teach, be playful with as well have the strength to lead, Yvonne seeks people that: lead with their heart, must be open to learning, know how to be professional, but, most importantly knowing that their own learning is vital for the children. That it is essential for the children to see their role modelling.

“Three or four times a week, I refer to Dr Montessori’s readings and books. And read them again. When you read things again you see if from a different perspective every time. I tell the kids that. I tell the staff that. Learning doesn’t happen in one go it takes repetition, but, repetition when you are ready and you’re ready at different stages, in different areas of your life.

It is always good to go back to good things. Good books, good memories, good people. You will gather more information”.

“They really are my children. Yes my staff are my kids – in a way. It is one on one when you want to reach a person it’s not just about relationships it’s about inter-relationships and intra-relationships. If you know who you are then you will give the best to the other person. So it has to be one on one first, when you are talking to a group absolutely you will start getting a conversation going. But if you are a leader when you are in a group, you try and get everyone else to talk. When it’s two of you, you can really focus on each other. Individuality in the class room is the same you still have to have your focus on everybody, but when you are talking to a student it’s just the two of you in that space. It encourages active listening and most of all trust. If you trust somebody you will give them the best and you will want to do your best. If you don’t trust them it is superficial, you don’t go down inside. Growth is from everyone. When people say look around look what you have done. I am not being patronising when I say that, it’s not what I have done, it’s what we have done as a group. There is no way. No way, that one person alone could’ve every achieved what we’ve got here. It’s just not possible. I have staff that are so committed, so passionate and when I know that they have got that, I can aspire and push for bigger things. Yes, what we have done is phenomenal and it is not ending, now it is what is coming next? What is the next challenge?”

 

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A well respected and wise matriarch with an ability to communicate, know when to take charge and know when to listen, when to connect with other leaders and draw from their wisdom in making decisions. Yvonne, shares with me her perspective on her first five years as the head of her tribe.

“My first five years of being a principal were absolutely terrifying. Terrifying. You feel that there is so much weight on your shoulders and you really don’t have that person next to you to say, “Well let’s do this or let’s do that”. So your decision making, your perception and how you see things is totally reliant on you. The responsibility was phenomenal and at the time, I didn’t have all the knowledge and I didn’t have the experience, I mean experience is something that nobody can buy or teach you. You learn through the process. So there hadn’t been enough process, I had been a teacher, I had been a curriculum director with others helping me make decisions. Those first five years was, “you breathe, you get in do the best”. Every time. Every time I was in a difficult situation, I would go to the bathroom, if I needed privacy,

“I would say think with your heart and do the best that you can with your heart not just your head. If it’s wrong then it will be wrong, but, you have done it with the best you can give at that very moment”

Now days when I look back I think, I was ok. I don’t know if I am proud yet, but I feel that I can relax more, I still have the moments when a big decision comes my way, now I don’t feel like I will crumble, I feel like I look around and grab people to support me. I have learnt that lesson, that, there are people that will help you and I also have an amazing board. When you have people above you and you know that they are there for you it helps a lot”.

Yvonne also draws on the life of other phenomenal humans.

“Mother Theresa I feel that, that, woman spent so much time in so much angst with no support that she was phenomenal. I mean Jo of Arc is another woman that is phenomenal. I need to bring in a man. Leonardo Da Vinci, I mean that man, the brain that really says it all for Montessori. The creative side of the brain, the logical side of the brain. I mean he had art, technical skills and information. I mean if I could have them all here, I would crawl under the table and let them go for it, they could do it all. But I can’t so I suck out the elements of each. If I could have anyone working beside me in the school? I mean the obvious choice would be Dr Montessori. But I think really I would like Madame Curie, she was an explorer, she was one that never felt she had enough and even what she found and discovered she was not happy with that, she kept going.

Seeking more of her openness and female intelligence I ask what the word “woman” means to her;

“Apart from Mother I think woman to me is arms outstretched and positive and powerful”

Of course finishing of for the quote of the day is none other than the Montessori quote.

“Let me do it by myself”.

I am grateful for Yvonne for sharing her story, her journey of wisdom, strength, intelligence, social intelligence, openness, decisiveness, patience, confidence, compassion, and for being the matriarch that has guided my family through our Montessori journey for eight years. She has shown every single one of these traits to the most important boys in my world.

 

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Grandma

GRANDMA

family-history
Noun
(plural family histories)

1. an extension to genealogy in which the life and times of the people concerned are investigated
Family history puts flesh on the bones of genealogy.

Mum phoned Grandma and papa, and told them we would pop down for a cuppa and morning tea. I selfishly want my grandma’s story, I want to know about the life and experience that lead her to sixty plus years of marriage. I want to know her stories so I can have a deeper understanding of the blood that runs in my veins, I want to know our similarities. I want to know her traditions and the memories she holds dear. We took our morning tea party to the front of the house and enjoyed the sun. I sat on the brick stairs, with a cup of coffee in my lap, papa supplied the tim-tam biscuits on the table. Grandma had Papa sitting on her left hand side, Grandma’s hands were fidgeting in her lap, her body leaned towards papa, and her eyes continually peeked at him, her voice held the same wobble I get when I am nervous, she was afraid to move in case my phone didn’t pick up her voice. My whole being vibrated with love for my grandma, my eyes misted over at the details she remembered and what she didn’t recall she would lean to her left and ask Papa for the answer. My papa a proud and determined man, softened as he listened to the woman that he has been married to for 62 years was reminiscing about their early years together. The longer she chatted about Papa, her immediate family and extended family the wobble left her voice and the memories kept surfacing, the conversation had her glowing.
“I was 12 when my brother went away. Jackie, my brother turned 18 and went to Kingaroy for training, then went to Canada and then England. He was flying plains for the air force, he flew planes over Germany, the war finished in 45, and he got home in 46, I think. I mean there was so many troops to try and get home, it took them along time. Bobbie trained as well and was set to go to New Guinea, but the war ended. My dad worked at the post office in parcels post in Queen Street, he would get all the telegrams. If you ever saw the telegram boy in your street, you just felt so sick. That happened one night when I was at Aunty Dot’s. In the middle of the night there was a knock on the door, there was a young man standing there in uniform. Oh, we felt ill. When Aunty Dot answered the door it was nothing. Just a silly young drunk boy, looking for the people across the road”.
A favourite thing, we loved when growing up was Guy Fawkes Night, cracker night. It was great. We would go and buy our crackers and light them up.
“Remember, Remember the 5th of November.”

We would make a big bonfire and let off all the crackers. One night we were all trying to light the bonfire, it wouldn’t light. Later, we found out the miserable old sod at the back had hosed our bonfire. There was also always the bad kids going round and lighting up all the letter boxes”.

“I was 14 when I finished school. The teacher sent us into Brisbane to go to the chemist to buy the toiletries she needed for the week. We went in to the chemist, Della Huntys. We got the tram to go back to school. I forgot it was a one way street. I got off the tram and walked around the front and was hit by a truck. I was in hospital for about a month, then was sent home to recuperate from a fractured skull. Once I was better I got a job with my sister Valda at Leutneggers. I just went in and asked for a job, they gave it to me. I had a job sewing hats, some buy machine, mostly by hand though, they were sold in shops all over Brisbane. So there was half a dozen girls on every table, we all sat in a row and sew. I was there from when I was 15 and left when I was 18, when mum and dad moved to Redcliffe to live. All the girls back then were either milliners or dressmakers. I was never wrapped up in it. I mean it was just a job, I didn’t love it. Once I left I never thought of making another hat again. While I was still working in Brisbane I stayed with my Aunty Dot. I worked at Woolworths in the city, when I finished at the milliners, then when they opened a shop in Redcliffe I moved down there.”

grandma
I am fascinated about how young girls and women led there life in the 1940’s and 50’s, but I want to hear the love story of my grandparents. Papa gives a little deep chuckle, Grandma shakes her head and pats papa’s hand.
“Oh, it was terrible. I met papa at Rosalie while I was living with Aunty Dot. He was walking up the road with a couple of friends. I was standing outside talking to a boy, he was just a friend”. She says as she pats papa’s hand and send him a sneaky smile.
“Papa had a nice blue jumper on and he looked over and saw me looking and he said “would you like me to take it off for you”? “Oh”, I said to my friend “I hope I never have papato talk to him again”. Papa lets out a belly laugh while grandma shakes her head.
“Well, Papa’s mother heard what he said as he walked past me, and told him to “get over there and apologise.”

“Aunty Dot didn’t have a phone at the house, so we had to use the one in the local shop. The shop lady would call out to all the neighbours when they were wanted on the phone. The next day she called out “Fay, your wanted on the phone”. It was papa. Papa was on the ship working and called me asking if I wanted to go to the movies. I wasn’t very impressed but I said “oh! Yes ok”. He bought me a box of chocolates. We were sitting there and he told me a friend of his bought a girl a box of chocolates and she ate them all herself. So all through the movie I kept asking him: “would you like a chocolate” every single time he would say “no thanks”! I couldn’t even enjoy the movie, I was too worried about the chocolates”. We were about 16. Then he went off to sea, he could be gone for up to six weeks, he went to England at one time. I would check the newspaper every week to see when his ship was coming back to Brisbane. When I moved to Redcliffe, I would catch the red bus up to Brisbane to see papa. Papa would be waiting at the bus stop for me, I would leave Redcliffe about 5pm and get to Brisbane about 8.00pm. We would go to Bon’s café, we loved the pork sausages. We were married in 1955 at Sacred Heart church, Rosalie in Brisbane. I went and bought my dress from a shop in the Brisbane arcade. After my wedding, it was handed down to my sister-in-law and then I sold it for 10 pounds. We had the reception next to the Broncos leagues club, there was a big reception hall there, oh there was about 100 at the wedding. A wedding back then you just invited everybody. The football was on that night, the reception was everyone listening to the football. We had booked to go away for our honeymoon, but, oh we couldn’t afford it so we cancelled. We had a rented flat and we moved in the night we got married. I hated the colour of the walls, so papa painted them for me”.

grandma papa weddding
“Papa was working on the wharf at the time. We had 3 cents to our name after the wedding. It was hard living in those days. Papa was only paid when there was work. If there was no ships in we didn’t get paid. We listened to the radio every day, to hear his number, 2565 when it was called. Everybody that worked the wharves had a number, the numbers were called at random at 6.00am every day, if your number was called you had work for that day, no number no work. We lived in Stafford St at Paddington, we didn’t have a phone at the house, and papa would have to run up the hill to get to a phone box to call the wharf to say he would work. I would watch him out the window and if he was running down the hill he would have work. Sometimes we could go a week with him walking home which meant he had missed out on the job and was without work. Once we had the kids I would be yelling out to be quiet, so we could hear if their father had work for the day. There were ships in everyday, but, I mean there was so many water side workers”.
“Your mother was born at the Royal Brisbane hospital. There were no men allowed to be around when the baby was being born. Nobody was allowed to go in with you when you were delivering the baby, you went in all by yourself”. Grandma tells me this with a shrug. My mind and heart are spinning at the thought of having to deliver your baby with only a room full of strangers supporting you.
“I went in to the hospital, the week before all my babies were born. My water always broke the week before they were born. I would have a dry birth. I had Doctors and Professors studying me because it was so unusual that it happened with them all. The husbands were only allowed to view the babies through the glass in the nursery. Papa was only permitted to visit between 7pm and 8pm every night and at 8pm the nurse would be like; “righto, out!”
“One day I bought your grandma some strawberries and cream in a bowl. There were too many visitors at the time, a nursing sister came, got the strawberries and cream and closed the door in my face. I was left outside waiting to go and see grandma. I couldn’t get in until some of the visitors were leaving”.
“Oh, the nursing sisters! It was just like they were trained in the army, I think may have been. No one was allowed to sit on the bed, they would march up and down the ward, glaring at everybody. We had to stay in the hospital for nine days after delivering the babies, we weren’t allowed out of bed, not even for the toilet. They would bring all the babies around in a long trolley at feeding time. We would also have to express milk for the babies whose mothers couldn’t feed them, you had to express every day, and the nursing staff would get cranky at you if you didn’t give enough”.
With grandma’s recall of events I have thoughts flying through my head like: what if they mix up the babies? Nine days in bed actually sounds pretty good to just rest. Express for other babies! Is that healthy?
“Once discharged, I got a taxi home. We lived in Red Hill, I got the taxi driver to take me home so I could pack a bag and go to papa’s mother’s house. I left your mother on the seat of the taxi, went inside, opened up the flat and packed a bag, now days they would call child services if you did that”. She says with a chuckle.
“Oh, yes when we moved to Redcliffe. I mean your mother went to kindy on the bus on her own when she was 3. The bus driver would help her on the bus. Your mum would wait at the butcher shop, get on the bus. Then the same in the afternoon, they would get her on the bus and she would get out at the butcher shop and walk home, sometimes my mum would meet her there and walk with her. I was still working full time then at Woollies and your mother had kindy. So! When your mother went to school, my dad would make hot chips and take them to the school and have lunch with her. At night we would have to rush through dinner and baths so that we could watch television. We were the only house in the street that had tv. All the neighbours would come every night and watch our tv. Quiet often we couldn’t get a seat in our lounge room because all the neighbours would be there. Either that or everyone would go to the shop windows and watch the tv. When we first went to Redcliffe no one had phones, so we would go to the telephone boxes you would call the exchange and they would tell you to wait your turn. Once they connected you, after 3 minutes the operator would say “are you extending?” We would have to say yes or no and put more money in. You would talk really quickly so we didn’t have to put more money in”.
I look to my right and see my two boys 15 and 12 playing on their smart phones as grandma tells me about waiting your turn to call someone.
When we moved to where we are now in Redcliffe, this was just a big pineapple farm and dirt roads. Pineapples were still growing when we bought the land, we didn’t get neighbours for two years after we moved in. If there was a car coming up the road we would know we were having visitors. We were the only ones in the street, I would have time to yell out to the kids “hurry up and tidy up”.
So Grandma what’s the secret to having a marriage for 62 years?
“Do what your bloody told!”. My papa says laughing while wrapping his arm around Grandma, while she pats him on the leg and says.
“Oh, but it has been a lovely life here with papa.”

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My absolute favourite photo with my Grandparents.

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Sandra Conte

Sandra Conte.

Sandi and I meet at a local coffee shop, we get settled at our table with chai latte each and I ask the first question and am taken away, this is why I love doing this, I get lost in the conversation, her story flows. Sandi is incredibly open, honest, and generous, at some moments in the conversation the expressions on her face are of remembrance, fond and forgotten moments and achievement’s getting a voice. She is candid in sharing so much of her life experience, I get goose bumps.

Sandi from the age of 4 has had a love and passion for art, one of her first essays at school Sandi wrote that she dreamed of being either an artist or a pilot. She recounts to me an experience from her favourite class of the week at school. Art class.

“We were tasked with painting fire cracker night. I got my brushes and splayed them out to get the rippling effect and it was coming together and looking like I had found fire cracker night at the Nambour showgrounds. I was made an example of, I was told to put my brushes down, and stand in the corner of the class room for all art classes for the rest of the year, because, “look what this girl has done. That is not how you paint.”

Those teachers that terrified that little girl during Friday art class, didn’t squash her desire to make art, she refused to let their harsh voice define her passion for art.

“It doesn’t just block creativity when you have a person treat you like that. It blocks you in so many other ways, always second guessing”.

Sandi never did second guess her decision to chase her dream of being involved in the art world. Sandi’s parents worried that their daughter wouldn’t be able to make living from her creativity, and encouraged her to become a teacher. Studying initially in fine arts, leading Sandi to post-graduate studies in dress history and combining that with Queensland history.

“That allowed me with my post graduate studies to curate a dress historical exhibition. That was called “Dressed to kill, the impact of World War 2 on Queensland women’s dress 1935-1950”.

Sandi’s experience has allowed her to be offered multiple roles. Her work has taken her to approximately 5 different universities in an art capacity as a curator, director or freelancer. She has also worked with various local government authorities in the same capacity.

“I really just want to be around the arts. I think being a curator, it is a vicarious way of being involved. It’s voyeuristic. It’s like, ok I can work with artists, and I can still make a living. So I went into that field”.

Photo by Wild Honey Photography

She has travelled far and wide and held respected positions. Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide, is all indigenous owned and operated, and Sandi found this an interesting and privileged position to hold. She was in public relations at Central Queensland University answering directly to the vice chancellor, this position serviced a number of different campuses. Growth in her professional life, forced her to develop and move outside of some personal fears. Sandi, at the time didn’t hold a drivers licence as she feared she wouldn’t be a good driver. Within the first month in Rockhampton, Sandi as a passenger was involved in a car accident that nearly killed her. She decided during her recovery, she was no longer comfortable with someone else taking control of her transport. She was getting her license.

 

Intercultural activity has been critical, and central to Sandi’s professional career. While working as the PR person in Rockhampton, Sandi discovered the university held an art collection that was not being cared for or utilised in any way. Taking advantage of this art work Sandi set up in conjunction with the indigenous unit at the university at satellite gallery and launched this as part of NAIDOC week, this was the first indigenous exhibition and drew record crowds. It was called Colour my world.

“It was absolutely amazing, we had Archie Roach come up, where he performed a free concert. We bought people in from Woorabinda, and we went out and filmed some of Archie’s music”.

Sandi had the opportunity to work with Fred Hollows in Central Queensland.

“I mean he worked in Eritrea, but he also worked in our indigenous communities. He always spoke of “going away, to come back”.

Sandi’s whole being lights up, she sits straighter in her chair and her laugh is infectious with excitement when she speaks of some of the people that she has worked and flourished with, or has been influenced by.

“I remember my boss at Tandanya was Francesca Cubillo, she is now Senior Curator of: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the National Gallery of Australia. She is a Larrakia woman from up Darwin way. I remember her talking about particular works in the gallery space at Tandanya and how rich that desert area is, how rich with Indigenous heritage and culture Australia is. I mean she could look at an art work and tell you down to a fine hair exactly what it was, she would explain how rich the area was under all that red dirt. How it can sustain us, but, we don’t look beyond and we don’t have that cultural knowledge”.

“I am fascinated with the gender specific approach to making art, and find time and time again if you find a pairing of artists male and female, the male career takes off and the female is the supporter. Irrespective of if there is a parity or not with their particular talent. This is what was great about spending my week with Wendy Whiteley. Her visit was such a privilege. She is a strong beautiful woman. She is so articulate and has such wisdom in terms of the global art scene. She a wonderful thinker. I am fascinated by the role of the muse within the public and private life, but also like the power in front of the throne. I mean she is carrying that legacy so beautifully. I mean, Whiteley himself used to talk about the fact that she was possibly a better drawer than him. She was going to art school when she met him. I am a lover art that represents social change. Not all art is that. But, I think the power of art, and the momentous occasions when you step back and or when you’re standing in front of a canvas and you just get that feeling of; oh wow that has changed my way of thinking. I remember standing in the art gallery of New South Wales in front of a painting by Lloyd Rees, called Road to Berry and it had a line. It is referred to as an angelic line of sorts. I think that particular work/line changed Whiteley’s or impacted his thinking, I mean he made comment about it impacting him. You can look at his work, and think what would he have been without the drugs? But, he had the capacity to be receptive to other artists work. So I think it is the collaboration, the sharing of ideas in a healthy fashion that starts the world talking, thinking, changing”.

“Gauguin is my absolute favourite. Te Rerioa (The Dream), 1897. That painting sang to me. I am a deep, deep fan of Rosalie Gascoigne she came to art quiet late in life via Ikebana. I am fascinated by her story. She to me is like a bower bird, working with found objects and making meaning of them. My favourite author is Drusilla Modjeska, I got to meet her years ago and why she is so important to me is that I found my first love of reading through her when I was in my thirties. I remember discovering this book called Stravinsky’s Lunch. It is quite a weighty tome, and I remember getting up of a night and I would read for hours in the middle of the night, it was the only time I had to read. I couldn’t get enough of that book. That book was actually analyzing two female non-fictional artists who had lead very different lives. One who stayed in Australia and the other one who went overseas to find her calling”.

“I completely identify with Georgia O’Keefe, with being scared of everything in your life, I mean maybe it stems from that early start of always being anxious about everything and thinking you’re not good enough.

I also identify with her and just going ahead, and making a decision to just do it and the nay-sayers can say what they like, but this is really important to me, I am driven to do this. So make art – not war”.

Sandi held her own solo art exhibition at the age of 40. After spending time in Darwin and central Queensland visiting crocodile farms and being impacted by them, she became fascinated with the areas of environment and animals. It was called Sweet, skin, Suite and it was looking at crocodiles and body marking.

Sandi’s latest exhibition at the Logan regional gallery is, Bee-mindful. Focusing on bees, being human, empathy, how we all work together.

“I am always interested how art educates and the bees have been awareness raising. Yes it’s an environmental thing, certainly in terms of no bees, no me. The stingless native bees are so fascinating to me in terms of the intercultural aspects of that as well. Learn more wisdom, empathy. Yes, I am incredibly interested in what it means to be human, and where young people see where they fit into the world in regards to that.”

Sandi campaigns her eARTh e-mag, and how it was born from her realization that there was no platform for creatives to be recognized for their creative work, either working with, or for the environment.

“Social change can be made through art definitely. It can be person to person or it can be greater”.

“I suppose that is why the eARTh e-mag came into being. I was conscious that there were artists all over the world, who were working with, or for the environment and I want to give them air time and that is my way of contributing to the environment. I mean it is pretty hard for creatives, well not all, to get exposure, in the day and age of social media it’s a bit easier. But usually you are not the best advocate of your own work, so, that is where as a global platform we provide somewhere to talk about these artists who are changing the world and are inspiring others to do so. Its awareness and exposure. I see myself as a match maker in the art world. I love matching artists up to other creatives. I was talking to an artist recently and I automatically thought; oh, you need to meet this other person that I mentored years ago.  Oh, I love making those things happen. It’s seeing the opportunities and facilitating it. I love that, for me there is such joy in that. Community focussed projects are so important to me”.

At the close of our time together I asked Sandi what she was most proud of and what the word woman means to her.

“I have never been self-congratulatory. I always have this thought that I need to do better. So when there may have been markers in my life, say the dressed to kill exhibition or the solo exhibition. I never thought “oh I did it” it was always ok, on to the next thing. I haven’t had one of those moments. I just have so many more things to do”.

“Woman means invincible, we are here to stay”.

This interview was timed out at 55 minutes, there were no customers left sitting in what was an overflowing court yard, our coffee cups had been collected, and at the time it felt as though we only chatted for 10 minutes. Sandi is colourful and vibrant in her passion for creativity and the art world. This lady is a database of knowledge, depth and understanding. Indigenous art, the environment and animals will forever have a platform to be displayed creatively if Sandra Conte is involved, and it was such a pleasure to be an audience to her story.

If you love reading this and would like to read more interviews. Why not back me financially? I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.

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Today 5th October

 

20171005_171654113604150.jpg I sat in an art studio today and heard life experiences from a lady who kindly wanted to share for LUV.
I had never met this woman before, she emailed me a couple of weeks ago after I put a call out for women to share their story for LUV. When I arrived at her home / art studio this morning she greeted me like a long lost friend and made me breakfast of green tea and fruit toast. I stood in her kitchen and we had a quick chat before we went to her art studio. I was so nervous all morning getting ready and on the 50 minute drive north. I am so glad that she confirmed the interview with me as I was in my head too much with anxiety, I told her how nervous I was but equally excited, she replied with a lovely text message.
I came home this afternoon not remembering the drive home, I have so many things that needed doing this afternoon and I just haven’t been able to do them. I am one raw and open nerve ending at the moment. I have a pounding headache and I can feel my whole being vibrating with energy, change, growth, movement. But I feel as though I need to curl up in a ball and settle, get grounded.
I have never been so effected by a conversation with a person that I have just met. It was such a sacred space with just the two of us, her voicing experiences and events that have broken her and me listening to how she has put herself back together, healed and learnt from many life lessons that could easily have her playing the victim. In the face of everything she has experienced she told me that she is grateful for all of it, grateful for the lessons she learned and the deep healing she has worked on.
I am so overwhelmed with the trust that this lady has shown me today in sharing her life experiences. I don’t even have enough words for the gratitude, love and overwhelming feeling of thanks I have for this woman for blessing me with this experience.
This is why I wanted to do this project of LUV. I wanted to spread the voices of women and their powerful chronicles of life. I was naively hoping that by spreading the stories of other women through my writing and publishing them on my website I would offering a beautiful service to my audience, I didn’t recognise the effects it would have on me.
I feel like I shouldn’t have written about this as yet, I feel so raw, but I need to get out some of the energy from today. I wanted to share a tiny part of what I experienced during our time.

 

Bella

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boarding

(bɔːʳdɪŋ )

  1. uncountable noun

Boarding is an arrangement by which children live at school during the school term.

I left my boys with my sister and drove down the dirt road for my interview with Bella, these interviews that I organise have me anxious and out of my comfort zone every single time. I arrived at Bella’s home and after initial greetings, and quick catch ups with her parents over a flute of champagne, Bella and I got comfy in the lounge room for a chat.

The first question that I asked Bella was, “tell me what boarding school has been like for you?” This eloquently spoken 16 year old young lady started her story.

“I left home in 2013, as a year 8 student at St Hilda’s on the Gold Coast. It was my first time leaving home for longer than a week or two.”

“It was terrifying, boarding is terrifying, but, it has been amazing.”

I promised myself on the drive over that I wouldn’t get emotional. Well, that first sentence killed that promise. My nose started to run and my eyes misted over.

Sport, socialising and being active in the community is big part of the culture of living in the bush. Bella has built close friendships from being a team player as a young girl. As luck would have it she was introduced to her closest friend at a sporting carnival playing netball, and the girls went on to board together at St Hilda’s. There are not only rural and remote girls at the boarding school but a number from Papua New Guinea, Asia, and some prefer boarding over home.

She tells me about the process of being dropped off at her second home.

“For first time parents they are advised to leave a bit earlier so it doesn’t get too emotional. Our parents settle us in and then we head to the boarding house.”

The head of boarding and the boarding mums are at the school for the arrival of the girls to support them in getting settled. Helping the girls set up their new bedrooms, getting comfortable in their new surroundings. Bella is following in her mother’s footsteps at St Hilda’s. She was blessed to be allocated to the boarding mum that guided her mum, through the boarding years. The boarding mum also holds strong ties to the family. Bella’s granny nurtured Bella’s new boarding mum when she was a student at St Hilda’s.

“A boarding mum is a lady that comes to work and looks after boarding girls, they are so kind. I had her in year 8, I was her granddaughter and she loved me the whole way through. So when I finished year 8, I moved boarding house and she moved with me – she was with me for the next two years. I then moved again and now she is looking after my sister. When I started, I mean we were the babies, we are their babies, the babies of the school. These ladies are our mums while we are school. They are a big part of us, I mean we spend more time boarding than we do at home. So they become very special to us.”

“They looked after us through it all. We were naughty, but god they love us.”

Tears are now flowing freely down my face. For Bella, knowing that this young woman is so loved by so many strong women. For her mother for being so courageous and dedicated to her daughter, her education, and growth and sharing her child with another woman that Bella loves so much. And the boarding mum, what a special lady to devote her life to opening up her heart to loving and helping raise teenager girls so far from home.

“As a year 12 girl I get an individual room. They are very nice. The mums come around at 7am and wake us all up. Breakfast is 7.15am so we get dressed and ready to go to breakfast or we can make brekky in the boarding house. We usually just sit and have time with the mums in the morning, watch the news, get ready and then off to school. After school is where we go and do co-curricular activities or tutoring if we have to, otherwise we just go back to our room and do whatever we want until 5.00pm. Prep is at 5.00pm, so we study time until 6.10pm and then go for our dinner sitting, 6.40pm we have prep until 8.30pm. We can study in our rooms or they provide tutors in the boarding house. Most of them are old St Hilda’s girls as well, they come up we chat and study. From 8.30pm is for showering, studying or visiting friends in their rooms. It’s just like home you go around and chat to the mums, chat to your sisters.”

Bella acknowledges the social skills she has developed from being a boarder, she tells me about the situations faced by boarders that sometimes are out of their comfort zone, and what she has learnt from that.

“Every term we change rooms, you find when you’re living beside different people you become better friends with them. A few years ago I was put beside this girl and I was like, “oh no, I do not want to be beside her”, but by the end of the term we were really good friends.”

I have to laugh at little when she is telling me about the deep friendships that are forged in the boarding house. She makes it sound like a five year slumber party with your besties.

“It’s so much easier in boarding to make friends. I mean everyone is your sister we are so open and comfortable with everyone, maybe a little too comfortable. We are always talking to people, always with people, you just get so much confidence. Best part of boarding is just always being with your friends. In the end you are boarding more than you are at home and they are your second family, they just mean so much to you. I mean we can go out on leave on the weekends, but sometimes you just want to say home and hang with your girls. I have boarded for five years and yeah this is my last year. So daunting. I mean I am not going to see all of those girls every day and it is going so fast. I mean crazy fast, and scary knowing it’s nearly over. The whole time you think:

“Oh gosh I want to get out of here”. But now, its like, “oh no! I am getting out of here soon”.

And with friendships established with the girls you live with, you also build relationships with their family. The girls are “allowed out on leave” every weekend. There are a couple of weekends a term that are dedicated to the families and them spending time together.

“I mean, for all the times that mum and dad have come down I don’t remember a time that we just had us as a family. We always take out my sister’s friends or my friends, if they are stuck in. My really good friend, her mum lives in Western Australia so every time mum and dad come down we take her out.”

Bella compares going out on leave to see her parents with the feeling little kids get on Christmas Eve. “Oh yeah, it’s like I can’t wait to see them, I mean we only see them a few times during the term”.

Then for the families the routine of drop off and settling in to school is repeated. Drop off at school, mums and sisters are allowed up to the rooms for settling in, but being a girl’s boarding house, dads can’t go in. Bella tells me, most of the parents sign their girls in at reception, the girls catch up with friends before starting their school routine again. Obviously this is easier on some than others.

“Lucky for me I get to see mine every few weeks, which is very nice. I can also go over and see my sisters in their boarding houses whenever I want, and they can always come and see me.”

Bella participates in a new initiative for the school. She has taken on additional “sisters”. The program starts before the little girls arrive at the school some starting in year 6. Year 12 students connect with them by sending Christmas cards and wishing them a happy new year. On arrival at the school the big sisters look after the little ones, help them with the settling in, they help with homework, and offer support when boarding is overwhelming. Bella is positive that this new programme has helped the little girls greatly.

“I know my first year we all thought we were pretty tough and would hold back the crying. You always end up crying. All you want to do is go home see your family, god, even see the dog. We never had any older girls to help us get through it. Oh, those older girls for me where so scary, they were so big and we were so little. By doing this we are breaking that, we are good friends with them, and both of my buddies are good friends with my sister.”

She is home now for the school holidays, I ask her what it was like this time coming home.

“It’s is so good, so amazing to come home. I mean everything changes. Last time when I was home everything was green, but on the turn to brown. But I got here the other day and there is knee high green grass and we have puppies”.

“I mean and coming home to mum and dad and my youngest sister, oh, it’s everything”.

She goes on to tell me that she hasn’t always been positive and accepting of her life of having to live away from her family to receive an education.

“I am ok now with going away, but in year 9 I threw the biggest tantrum. I was not going back to school. I was not going back to boarding. There was nothing worse. So I just refused. I was just like “nope, I am not going back”. But yeah, year 9 was my worst year. Year 8 is so surreal, so new and exciting. Year 9, I knew what to expect, I knew what was going to happen and I was just like nope, I won’t be leaving mum and dad and my sisters. It was terrible. Eventually, I got in the car and I was taken back. Year 10 was so much fun.”

Year 10 for Bella was not only receiving an education from the school but from travelling the world. Bella an active student at St Hilda’s participates in sport, the adoption of little sisters, and she also represented the school in an exchange program to Holland for six weeks.

“It was the absolute best experience. I had never travelled overseas before, and then I ended up going to Holland living there for six weeks, oh amazing. I was really keen to travel everywhere when I got home from Holland. But now I just love being home. Australia is the best.”

In her last year at school, having made the most of her experiences as a boarder and in her education Bella has completed a hospitality and barista certificate and responsible service of alcohol certificate. She is currently working on her certificate three in childcare and works at the St Hilda’s day care centre with the pre-preps. So what is happening next year?

“Next year I will hopefully go north, maybe the Kimberley’s and either go jillarooing or governessing for a couple of years. I want to eventually go to the Marcus Oldham College”.

This portrait was a difficult piece to create as openly as I normally write. When I was crafting this piece I didn’t simply have Belle to think of. But her parents were taping away at my heart as well, that was the prickly part. I wanted the story from the mouth of the daughter that lives this experience. I wanted this interview and this story because I bow down to the parents that share their pre-teens and teens with a second family so generously. A big thank you to Bella and her Mumma, love you both for sharing your unique story.

If you love reading this and would like to read more interviews. Why not back me financially? I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.

Gin Rummy Vintage

Yesterday scrolling through Instagram I found a local treasure and I went to visit Mel at Gin Rummy vintage today.  I remember when I was little it was a treat to get into mum’s cupboard with all her clothes and jewellery and the shoes (there is photo evidence of me somewhere actually in mum’s clothes). Well Gin Rummy is like a massive walk-in wardrobe that I didn’t want to leave – like literally. I met Mel this morning and told her I would come back soon and not just to add to the four treasures I found, but with a coffee. Anyone that knows me, knows that is not how I roll. But hanging out in what Mel said to me was like an extension of her home and chatting to her, trying on some of her gorgeous pieces, was such fun. So here is what the local Mumma of two told me about her business.

It is a lifelong obsession basically with dressing up, fabrics, old things and mending and making do. It is a collision of all of the things I love coming together.

I had seen the studios were available for years and always thought what a lovely thing to do. But what would I do. I started with selling jewellery and handmade accessories on line, it is a challenge and then I realised that I had this collection of clothes that were essentially things that I couldn’t leave behind. I am not a hoarder, I am a collector. I saw the hub was calling for expressions of interest and I thought, oh what the hell.  The last day before the offer closed, I stayed up until midnight writing a business plan. Then they loved my interview. I came along with my suitcase full of random things and started pulling them out and the panel were just like  – go for it.

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My prices range from $3.00 to $200.00 depending on the rarity, I have things from all over the world and brands and collections. It depends on the day which piece I love the most, they are like my children, the fabrics talk to me, and the colours fill up your eyes and gives me such joy. There are so many stories to vintage clothes, have they been cut up? Have they been mended? Did someone love them intensely? Did they die? Where have they been worn? I look at them and try and tease out the story. If I get the story, behind you know – say the vintage dress that someone gives to me and tells me the story of it that is just like oooohhhhh gold.

Word of mouth has been pretty powerful, I have a nook upstairs in the foyer, which has been great for directing people and social media is gold (ginrummyvintage). I am here daily 10.00am-3.00pm and Saturday by appointment only. I will be here till November. I am getting new pieces all the time, I am always on the hunt.

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I was taking photos of the shop and watched this beauty in action. A lady had been at the gallery on the top floor, and was told about Gin Rummy and come for a look. See, she is going to the theatre to see 1984 by George Orwell at QPAC and she was on the hunt for something to wear. She found a magnificent black cape. As Mel was listening to the story of where this piece is going to be worn, she started to cry with joy. She was so thrilled that the lady had the perfect place for it to be worn and how stunning it looked.

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You can find Gin Rummy Vintage at the Caboolture Hub – Studio 3 / 4 Hasking Street Caboolture.

Golden milk

11.05.17

 

If you have read my blog you know that there is a coffee shop I go to on a Wednesday morning with the school mums. Well it has changed hands, had a facelift and a new menu. I haven’t been there for a while, but yesterday there was a post on Instagram saying golden milk was on the specials board.

I never just go for coffee on my own, I just don’t. If I am out somewhere and want a coffee I will grab a takeaway, but today I headed to Gather and Feast after school drop off for a golden milk, because I have never seen a golden milk in our local area and was not missing out. The reno on the old shop looked fresh and bright with plenty of seating. My fav 70’s arm chairs were still in the corner next to the front window. I headed straight to that little corner as soon as I ordered my golden milk from the lovely lady at the counter. The enthusiastic coffee and brekky crowd was fabulous to see in our local area that is not known as a foodie heaven. However, the aromas coming from the little kitchen, the pretty food on the tables and the delicacies in the cabinet next to the cash register were a treat that I will definitely be coming back for (some of the food has flowers on it – how divine).

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Golden milk

 

I know that I am going on and on about the no phone experiment that seems to have changed me forever. You can read about it here, here, here and here. While enjoying my golden milk, I tried not to pull out my phone and pretend to be engrossed in it. But I did in the end because, I looked like a crazy, stalker sitting on my own, in the corner, with a yellow drink just looking at people looking at their phone’s. It still amazes me that when people are together at a table, sharing a meal or a drink that they pull out their phone. Even before the no phone experiment I have never done that. It’s rude and isn’t it more important to spend time with the person that you are actually sitting with, than someone on line.

Anyway phone rant over. Will be going back to Gather and Feast. Everyone needs to try golden milk.

Dale Harding

They were in a concentration camp, they were enclosed within the perimeter of a wire fence, they lived in dormitories and their clothes were not suitable for the climate. Their language was taken away from them and if they spoke it they would be punished severely, their culture, their traditions were prohibited from being practiced or spoken of. They were afforded no dignity. They were malnourished not only physically as the food was not sufficient to sustain them, but mentally and emotionally. They were forbidden to use their names and they were assigned an alpha numeric identity. Nanna was W38.

W38 was stamped into a lead breast plate worn around the neck. Elements that created the breast plate were lead, and old fencing wire. Lead is heavy, it is toxic to the nervous system, and cold. Lead in the breast plate represented the deadly way of life forced on these people. Fencing wire represented the boundaries for living as a young child.

So who wore this form of identification?

Indigenous Australians.

T and I went to the art gallery after dropping J at school. We sat for an hour and listened to the artist Dale Harding explain his art work and contribution to the installation at The Hub – Caboolture Regional Art Gallery

We took a seat in the arranged seating and with five other women of varying ages, leaving half of the chairs empty. Emotive art works from Michael Cook lined the walls and Wilma Walker’s baskets were displayed on pedestals, down lighting lit the space and the polished wooden floors added another earth element.  Listening to this world renowned artist verbalize the atrocities of his family and country, I had tears tracking down my cheeks. I was ashamed, and embarrassed that within the hour spent with this generous, honest man, I learnt more about Indigenous Australian history than when I was at school or at any time since. I was uncomfortable as a white woman in this setting, that, I had to be educated to the outrageous history of the state that we live in. History that is so new. As Dale said, while World War I and II were raging in Europe and atrocities were changing their culture and history. There were atrocities happening in our own country. In our state of Queensland. He opened up and told us that this history lesson had also skipped a generation in his family. That his mother never knew the extent of her mother’s and his nanna’s tragedy. It wasn’t until Dale started to ask about the story of his nanna that it came to light. Dale worried about asking appropriate questions to his ancestor, he was mindful in seeking her permission to share her story, he is very cultured and educated on the strict protocols for sharing women’s and men’s stories.

As T and I left the gallery after taking a few photos. I was grateful that T had the opportunity to have that experience and to learn some history from such an authentic source and to view the Exhibition: My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Queensland.

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Wilma Walker – Wilma made these baskets from memory as an infant. Her mother hid her in a similar basket to prevent government officials from removing her from her family.

Julie Rosson

 

Julie – owner of JPS Hair and Beauty, and I sat down in her pedicure lounge with a coffee and cheesecake and had a chat. This lady boss who is celebrating 19 years in her salon was modest in telling “her” story.

“I mean, it’s not just me this is my sister tribe. Lots of people make this salon.”

Start at the beginning, tell the story of your salon.

The salon started when I began my apprenticeship. The salon was the Cutting Crew, at Banyo. The owner had salons at Banyo and Wynnum. Within a few months I was winding perms and giving $5.00 haircuts. My boss recognized that I could work by myself and she would drive me out to her Wynnum salon. I was a few months off qualifying when she dropped the bomb, she was moving overseas for an extended period of time. I had mixed feelings about it, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. So I went home and I begged, I begged if I could buy the salon. I went from bank to bank to bank and I finally purchased the salon. I was nineteen.  She fast tracked the last few months of my apprenticeship so I could own the salon. It was my baby. My boyfriend at the time had a Harvey Norman franchise and he worked up to 7 days a week, so we worked and worked and worked. We were young, it was all we had so we just put everything in to the businesses.

Julie saw growth in the suburb of her home, grabbed it with both hands and started another successful salon that she built from scratch.

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I was driving between the two salons at this point, we were married, no kids.

The second salon was so successful that in less than 12 months, she employed a management team and an offer came through for Julie to sell.

I was solely at Wynnum when I had my first bubby- Roamie. We then purchased Morayfield – yeah Wynnum and Morayfield are a long way apart.  I was working 9am til 9pm, starving hungry, nowhere to stop and eat, and crying baby in the back of the car. When we took over at Morayfield, it had been established for a decade and came with a great reputation. I will never forget the day I took over, I parked out the back and the girls came running at me for big hugs, I had never met these girls before.

Within that first week, I was violently ill and pregnant, with Luca. So I was building two salons with a one year old and pregnant again.

We love the chaos and craziness.

When Luca came, we had the front room of the salon as a childcare room, rather than putting him in child care we employed a child care worker. There was swing, cot, change table, it was all glassed in and had air-conditioning, she would look after not only my baby but anyone else who bought babies into the salon. I was still breastfeeding. I always found it important to show my girls that you can work and have a family and I felt strongly about breastfeeding. I still wanted to be able to give that to the boys. There was always a breast pump out the back if the boys weren’t here or if they were I was always feeding and I wanted that to be part of everyday life. When Luca was two and a half I approached the man next door to the Wynnum salon and said this is all too much now I can’t keep driving from Burpengary to Wynnum. He had always said if I wanted to sell to approach him first because we watched for 10 years how I built up the business. And so within a few weeks he took over.

Julie’s savvy business skills were on full alert again when a couple of years later the madness and hunger to conquer the world took over again and she saw a prime opportunity to open a salon at Murrumba Downs.

There was only one salon in the suburb and they were building a new Coles complex. We went and bought off the plan. There was countless problems, plumbing problems, building problems, budget problems. But we built a stunning salon, a year later we built another salon in another complex at Woodford. So now we had three salons.

I do all of this buy putting on a few different hats, making lists, I suppose when you are used to a lifestyle it is just that. At times it can get really overwhelming definitely.

Julie distributed her time between each salon, she spent other days doing stock, payroll, and all of the behind the scenes responsibilities of running three salons and being a mum and wife. We were approached by a broker who wanted to purchase all of our salons. But you know, while the kids are in school it is so flexible with our lifestyle and being around for the kids. We decided to stay in business and so they purchased just Murrumba downs. Shortly after that, the Woodford shopping centre owners pursued us, wanting the Woodford salon. So for two years we have just the one salon. I am here for my kids and seeing my boys succeed is everything. In sport or just at home, seeing my kids at home scootering around the driveway, free as birds. That makes me feel very, very special. Also seeing them accomplish things, you know cooking for themselves, them cleaning up makes me very happy. It’s the little things. I think with kids you want them to experience things, you know not just one off, if they experience something over and over and over they will get really good at it, I mean that is with the bad things too. If they come into a situation where something bad could happen or they have had set backs in their training, they sometimes get hurt, you know this builds resilience. They have experienced this, they are prepared for it mentally and physically.

Julie’s passion for teaching and encouraging not only includes her children but “her girls” too.

We have 15 girls here in the salon. Beauty therapists and hairdressers. It is perfect. I love coming to work, I do school hours. I drop the boys off and then am there to do school pick up.  I am so content at the moment.

So my girls. Rachel has been here since the day we took over. So 11 years. Majority of the girls have been here for five years. Jasmine is our manager at the front desk, having her as host gives me the opportunity to look after my clients and mentor the other girls. Help them, support them, counsel them. Because you know, sometimes we are not having the best day and other times we are absolute rock stars. We often have binge food days but you know we all do it together. We have good days and bad days, that goes with being a woman, we have a lot of Panadol in the back room, we are here for each other, this is my sister tribe. Lots of people make this salon, it is not just me. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for every single person. All of this still happens even when I am not here, which is what I love.

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I am getting enjoyment out of seeing the girls grow up, one of our babies just became qualified. Apprentices make the salon run, they are the salon, they keep us young, they keep everyone in coffee and their hair washing skills and the scalp massages are amazing. We get so much out of having them as a part of the salon. I will always have apprentices. The girls love to mentor, they love having an assistant, someone to help them. Our latest newly qualified hairdresser, she started when she was 15, as a school based apprentice. We got her through high school together, she graduated, had her formal, became full-time and now she is a qualified hairdresser, she has moved out of home, has a lovely boyfriend, she is woman. I am so amazed, I love seeing the full circle.

My joy – oh seeing what those girls can create – when I see the girls photos of their work, if I haven’t been there for the day or I have been stuck in the office and I see the styles they have created, it is everything, amazing, my girls are so talented.

I feel like they stay because of appreciation, everyone wants to be appreciated, I give them flexibility in their roles, I provide the tools and they can be free to create. We have a great team, a great connection. I don’t stand over them, I just let them go for it – most people flourish with that, sometimes it doesn’t suit them. I am about encouragement and motivation, leading by example, by showing them what I love about the industry. You know I try and keep it fun, most of the time I’m the jokester. Hairdressers are creators so they just flourish with all that encouragement. You know after we consult a client it’s always like, “I am about to do this colour what do you think?” and we bounce off each other. I am passionate about hair, they see that. I am always doing crazy stuff with my hair and they see that confidence, just to try and pull of anything.  I want to show that to my customers also! That they can be confident in me. I always love to try what’s new. I mean we started using Olaplex 9 months before it was in Australia. We were importing it. The industry changes, trends change. We want to keep updated and offer that to our clients. We love to do a bit of advanced beauty.

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Julie encourages her team to be open and creative, she embraces new ideas and trends.

The feather brows – oh god they are just stunning, the girls are so talented with feather brows. Some of our team came to us and said “oh look at this!” – I was like “yeah this is awesome how can we be the best at this”. That was a couple of years ago and it has boomed. We also offer laser tattoo removal, we have a class 4 laser remover, which is a medical grade laser to remove tattoos. We love to push the envelope and get great results with hair and beauty. Another one of my passions is hair extensions. I have flown around the world by myself investigating and from that I have created my own hair extension range. Whenever I have used hair extensions there is always something wrong with them, be it a shedding problem, or hair matting, or the tape wasn’t sticky enough, or the hair wasn’t the best quality, or wasn’t long enough. In the end I made my own. I don’t have any of those problems. We use absolutely stunning Russian hair, beautiful quality hair extensions that I have designed from the very beginning and are exactly what I have always wanted. We were provided with samples and often the samples weren’t right either, so I would send them back, outlining exactly what I wanted fixed. Everything from the hair, the tape, the length, weight, everything – I was fussy with. I wanted these to be just right. I have done this for so many years – these needed to be perfect. I have designed everything the packaging the name – Lucia. This is what I wanted my daughter’s name to be if I had one. So this is my baby. The whole process has been two years.  Not being happy with the quality or the price lead me to investigating, trialling, having multiple salons and wanting the best. I love investigating and trying things and I want the quality.

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I feel everyone has a certain amount of energy and if you channel it into the right things then you are going to go so far.

And if it’s not channelled it can be really destructive and you can get quiet depressed because you have you have no channel, no direction. I channel that energy, keep focused. When it all feels too much and I am overwhelmed I will go up to the beach – the Sunshine Coast. It completely clears my mind, it files everything where it needs to go, it cleans out all the clutter and I get completely refocused and hungry for more. Every couple of weeks I have to go to the beach. It is my thing – it is my drug.  My husband also helps keep me focused, he is a business man, he is so smart, and I have always wanted to be like him ever since I met him. He has always been really focused, he then keeps me focused and holds really high standards. He helps me late at night, he is the handyman. He is here fixing washing machines and dryers and painting and renovating and making my visions come to fruition. When I have a vision of something I want to create, he’ll tell me it can’t work, but oh yes it does. wp-1490495971688.jpg

Like my green wall, I wanted a green wall – I got my green wall, or I am going to take my team to Vegas and we did.

Last year we created our own bi-annual education event called JPS retreat, rather than go to Vegas. We hired two beautiful mansions at Stradbroke Island, we flew in prominent educators and had three days in a nice relaxed environment and learnt new techniques and styles. We bought in Penny Antuar a make-up artist. The beauty therapists perfected all new techniques with make-up over two days. The hair side of things we had – Belinda Keeley from Melbourne, motivational speaking and colour placement with the girls was her specialty. My idol Lorna Evans – the up style queen, she showed us amazing braids and up styles, how to sew hair, sew an up style with cotton wool.

Julie wears so many hats, wife, mum, business owner, mentor, creator. What is next for this lady?

You never know with me, there is always so magic in the air.

 

LINKS

JPS WEBSITE

Instgram

 

Why back me financially, by having to pay to read the interviews? Because I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.

I chose the Hippie School

 

 

I chose the “hippie school”

I knew nothing about Montessori when I had my first child, at the time my sister-in law was working as a nanny in London for some very wealthy families. She sent me an email saying that I needed to find a Montessori school or Children’s house to send my child too as it is an extraordinary learning philosophy and that “her children” all attended Montessori. When it was time to send my boy to kindy, I searched google and an address popped up for a local Montessori Children’s house.  When I did a drive by I was initially worried as it was in a suburban street and it looked like a normal house from the outside with some metal play equipment in the playground. It was about 15 minutes from our house and I was shocked that such an alternative learning opportunity would be so close.

On the day of our interview when I parked the car and was walking into the children’s house, I noticed straight away that there was no brightly coloured or plastic toys anywhere there was nothing fake about this environment. There was grass, there was metal play equipment, metal bikes, there was pot plants everywhere, a sandpit, and a large rectangle shaped water play area.  When my son and I meet with the director she was kind and gentle and had a beautiful vibe and manner about her she radiated peace and calmness, I was so thankful when she told me that if we accepted the offer to attend that Jack would be in her class. She guided us down to the class room where he would be and the moment that I stepped into the class room, my eyes were wet with tears and knew immediately that this is where I would feel comfortable leaving my first born child.

The class room had about 10 children in it, they were all working quietly with intense concentration, co-operation, respect for each other – unbelievable for 2.5 to 4 year olds who were only at the Children’s house from 9 – 12, two days a week. The setting was astonishing, the floors were covered in beautiful rugs, the table and chairs were child sized and all made out of wood, there was small glass and crystal vases on the tables, filled with flowers that I had seen growing in the pots in the playground. Around the room was wooden shelves that looked like open bookshelves all holding handcrafted in Italy, Montessori designed materials, there was cooper and china bowls holding items like shells and marbles, rocks, there was bookshelves in the book corner and child sized brooms and dust pains and brushes and dusters in the home corner. Easels and paint were set up. I enrolled my boy that day and he was to start in the New Year. His first day of kindy, I was completely terrified to send him, I was 20 weeks pregnant with my second son, I was emotional and questioning if I was doing the right thing by sending my precious boy to an independent, alternative learning environment and maybe should just send him to a conventional kindy. When my husband saw the children’s house he completely freaked out, he didn’t want our son to go there, he thought the centre looked second rate and slapped together and that children at 2.5 years shouldn’t be allowed to cut flowers with scissors, or help with cooking and that the playground looked boring without plastic toys. He along with a lot of others called it the “Hippie school”, and almost everyone I met questioned me on this style of learning. The end of the first day, I was at the children’s house half an hour before finish time and observed my son through the window and knew immediately that I had made the perfect choice in following my instincts. He was having a wonderful time and from that day until 2 years later when he would leave for prep he absolutely loved his time at the children’s house.

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Always flowers in a Montessori environment

 

 

Montessori school’s offer what is called a Journey and discovery. This is an experience for the parents only. It is an opportunity to spend a Saturday and Sunday being the student.  The program enables parents to have a better understanding of how the children are taught. At school I always felt that I was able to fly under the radar and was sort of forgotten about. I have always felt that I didn’t receive a good education. Maths was the absolute worst for me and I still get anxiety when I think about or have to do maths. At the journey and discovery the teacher unknowing how much I fear maths, gave me a Montessori material that would teach me how to do long division. After the material was explained to me and I was shown how to use it and work out simple sums, I had it mastered in about 30 minutes. I had to excuse myself and went to the toilet to have a sob, because for all those years I had feared maths and in that short amount of time it made sense to me. I immediately knew this is where my child would be going to school.

 

Unfortunately that didn’t happen and he ended up at the local catholic school where he attended classes there for prep, grade 1 and first term of grade 2. I pulled him out the day after he had his head flushed in the boy’s urinal. This was the final straw after bullying not just from students but the teachers and meetings with the principal. He was labelled a trouble maker and a disturbance to the class. I had several meetings with various teachers and principals because I was trying to let them know that he was not naughty he was bored and frustrated. I asked for extra work for him and was denied and told to tell him to behave in class.

The day I pulled him out of the catholic school, I immediately called the Montessori school that was 2 minutes from our home and booked an interview with the principal. She welcomed us and gave us a tour of the grounds, she spoke to my son at eye level, she asked him how he wanted to be taught and what he wanted to learn, she asked him about his behaviour and he answered honestly (he said he wasn’t patient and that he like to talk), she questioned him on his interests at school and at home, she enquired about his friends and family, she asked if he liked sport and reading. They had a wonderful chat. I was secondary to this interview and was ecstatic about that because he was the one that would be spending most of his time there. The principal and I did chat and I ended in tears because she made us feel so welcome and I knew from the way that she had answered all of his questions that he would learn a lot here not just reading and writing. That the holistic approach to education and that each child is encouraged to take responsibility for their learning would be perfect for my boy. The way the school is committed to providing students with the opportunity to become self-motivated, confident, self-disciplined, and responsible is exactly what I wanted for my boy. When the principal spoke about how they teach the children that, learning the right answers will get you through school – learning how to learn will get you through life! That Montessori teaches students to think, not simply to memorize, feedback and forget. I again had tears. These two beautiful humans went on to have a deep and loving friendship where they challenged each other and learnt a lot of valuable lessons.

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Grandparents day at Montessori.

 

The basis of the schools approach is the simple observation that children learn most effectively through direct experience and the process of investigation and discovery. No two students learn at the same pace nor do they necessarily learn best from the same methods. I love the school goal: to be flexible and creative in addressing each student as a unique individual. This has been cemented for me with the learning styles of both my boys. They learn completely differently one is a book reader and the other is much more comfortable learning through doing and moving.

We have now been at the school for seven years, my eldest boy is in high school and my youngest is still enjoying his time at Montessori. I am forever grateful for this learning style and my mother instinct to not follow traditional education style.

 

Victoria Patchell

 

When I go shopping or buy gifts, I am conscious of buying local products, supporting local business or sourcing handmade, sustainable, pieces. As we walked around the Byron Bay Design festival, I made a point of lovingly and stealthily telling my husband that he could buy my Christmas present from one of the creatives at the festival. I met Victoria from Mermaid Collective as I was admiring her unique shell jewellery, the vibe that this beauty radiates, made me want to grab a colourful, fruity cocktail and hang out on the beach with her. Her whole being pulses with happiness, her smile lights up her face and the enthusiastic way that Victoria expresses herself made me think that she would be the life of the party, but also a chick that would be able to have a deep and meaningful over a glass of red. She was excited and generous in wanting to tell me the story of her jewellery.

“Firstly I sit and day dream on a beach somewhere and I think about the pieces. The ocean is my medicine and inspiration. For me all the things that I loved as a kid, I still love even more now. I have always loved wearing sea shells, but as I got older I realised that they weren’t as elegant as I wanted them to be. So I created a few shell jewellery pieces, that unite the creation of a surfboard set with resin, and coloured resin and a seashell.

I was living in Indonesia and I ran my first trip there – I run a surfing and yoga retreat business. I custom made some of this jewellery for me and I thought no one in the world would want to wear it, I thought it was just my quirky taste. The girls that were on the trip adored it and I got them to hand make some pieces and then it snow balled for there.

I have trained a studio in Indonesia. It is incredible. They do all the shell art and it is then set in sterling silver.  When I sell a piece it supports those remote communities. I also take a portion of the proceeds to gift to a marine conservation projects that I support.

My shell artist is a beautiful man called Herman. This is what he lives for. I often go and visit him in his house and see his family. Yeah my long term goal if I get this, I mean when I get this really happening, I want to give Herman his own proper studio, and he can train more people.  Herman has all the contacts in finding all the shells. Number one for me is about loving the ocean, so I wanted to make sure that my shells were from an ethical source. This year I spent a few months in Indonesia and I researched and investigated the shells.  Culturally the men eat the nautilus shell fish to make them more fertile, if they are trying to conceive they go and eat nautilus shells and so from that there is an excess of these shells.

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The process is quiet long once we have the shells because the whole process is hand done. At the moment they take about two days. What we do is; we get the shell and slice it – some won’t last that process only the strong ones will, then we clean it out, high pressure clean it and then we let it dry naturally in the sun. We hope for sunny days or it will end up being three days. We fill it with the resin, it took a month for me to get the recipe for the turquoise just right. It is my favourite colour so it was game on to get it right. When the resin is set, it comes back to the carving station is sliced back and front and shave it off for the white and turquoise and that is the shell process done and we hand it over to the silversmith.  I have beautiful team of people. I know that every time I sell something I know that I am helping them. I am helping beautiful Herman feed his babies. And I am so excited about the conservation.

The essence for me is take the sea wherever you may go, I feel like if someone wears one of these shells they are constantly reminded about how special and powerful Mother Nature is. You know by wearing one of these it shows you love the sea and might stop you buying plastic.

 

(Christmas morning I was gifted from “Santa” a stunning shell ring from the Mermaid collective. I love it and love knowing where it came from and how it was made.)

Website:

Mermaid collective

Instagram

Why back me financially, by having to pay to read the interviews? Because I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.

 

Ursula Yraola

 

I floated around the Byron Bay festival of design drooling over all of the handmade, ethically made treasures like clothes, art, jewellery. My little family traipsed behind me ( I say traipsed because my little tribe is all boys – including a teenager and a pre-teen, this was not their idea of a good time, in a town with surf beaches). With my eldest boy glued to my side (only because he thought, he could annoy me into leaving if he followed me around, while his father and brother left me to exploring and sat on the hill under an umbrella and listened to live music). When my boy and I were making our way around, the creators, designers and artists, I had the opportunity to meet the lovely Ursula. The brunette with softly spoken voice, sitting amongst her unique handmade handbags questioned me if I really did want to do an interview. “Really it may be hard because of my language? My accent is thicker, as I have recently returned from home.”  Ursula is one half of the mother/daughter partnership of Warayana – textiles, handbags, and leather goods handmade using traditional techniques by women in small communities in the Andes, Peru, who are working at keeping this ancient tradition alive. My boy and I were fascinated by her story, her passion and her accent.

“Three year I have been in Australia for! Actually it was when I came to Australia, I started to appreciate my country, all the handmade things, the communities, the traditions, the woman.

So since I have been back, I have been showing the world these amazing textiles and helping the women at the same time. Our workshop is in Peru, me and my mum design the bags. So my mum she’s been working with leather for thirty years, so she knows how to work with-it you know. I had this idea to start working with the communities because I used to live in Cusco, I lived and worked in Cusco for 7 years. So I have been in contact with all of these communities in the communities and I am friends with all the artisans. So special watching these amazing textiles being made, they are made by the women in the traditional way. So each pattern can represent each season for the Inca’s, each pattern has a story behind it, it represents all the traditions in the Andes from Peru. It takes about 3 days to weave.

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So the people there, they are losing these traditions, of the weaving, the natural dyes. So me and my mum we are trying to encourage the communities and the women and trying to work with them to keep this tradition alive. This is a tradition that is handed down from mother to daughter, through the women. Only the women in the Incan communities do this, it is the women that are the weavers. And the males work in the, in the agriculture. The women they stay at the home weaving and dyeing as well. Llama and alpaca wool is used, depending on the bag and the dye is made from plants and seeds they are all natural dyes. We are trying to keep everything natural. Now they are having this problem where people are trying to bring in the synthetic dyes, we are avoiding that and keeping everything natural. They are losing this traditional method because now young people just want to go to the city, with all the technology and leave all the natural beautiful world behind. So we are trying to keep them working there and happy. That is why we pay a fair price for the textiles. So that they are happy staying there and being paid.

Mum, she ships the traditionally made bags to Australia. A few months ago we started to sell them in Sydney, Byron, Mullumbimby, Sunshine Coast, Hawaii.  

Contact details:

http://www.warayana.com.au

contact@warayana.com.au

Instagram :

 Why back me financially, by having to pay to read the interviews? Because I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.

 

Ania Caffarena

Ania Caffarena

I walked into the space at the Festival of design where Ania and Kat had their art displayed. The blonde and brunette haired beauties, one from Germany and one from Italy, made use of pine wood pallets as supports for black and white pencil drawings of whales, fish and swim suits. Green leafy branches from palm trees added colour, a quick shade in the same colour as the foliage and its poles allowed Ania to hang her whales and white flowing material softened and gave the display a beachy feel.

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I had just finished having a speedy interview with Kat about her drawings and asked Ania if she would also be interested in a quick chat. I could’ve spoken and listened to these interesting and extremely talented ladies with their European accents for a lot longer, but it was a market type feel with people walking around and I didn’t want to take up too much of their time.

Ania told me that she started to make the three dimensional whales in February. “It was a strange thing. I had been doing this back in Italy just for an hobby. But then I came here to Australia and I met this girl she is an artist too” and she said “you should try and sell your stuff.”

She sent some pictures to a really famous interior stylist in Sydney. And this stylist wrote me back and said “I want to buy your whales!”

Laughing she tells me “And I was like oh my god, ok!” So since then I have been starting to sell them, to Sibella Court, Sibella Court Society Inc, and she is from Sydney. Since then I have been selling to shops and galleries, off my own website.

Ania tells me that when she came to Australia and landed in Darwin she had no idea what she was going to do here. She proudly and with a big smiles say “and now I am in artist in Australia.”

Ania spent time in Italy making flat metal sculptures and in Australia embarked on making three dimensional whales, she told me she finds these so much more fun to do, and they are so much more challenging.

“I just love whales there is something so magic and they are so poetic, I just love them, there is a special connection with the ocean and I wanted to do something to represent that”.

In November the whales are playing in the waters off Byron Bay Ania said “it was just crazy seeing them in the ocean in Byron bay, they were jumping and I was jumping.” Watching them in nature added to her research on the whales form and movement. This research is also backed up from Ania’s study of design in Italy, yacht design actually. “I left university and I came to Australia because yacht design back in Italy is not really mmm you know”, she says with a shrug of her shoulders and lifting of her hands. “I mean the technical yacht design and drawings for the yachts are very similar to the whales.”

“I usually go on YouTube and watch videos and study and sketch the movements and study the three dimensional part. I make lots of sketch and then I go free hand.”

After the sketches are completed she gets down to making the sculpture, she explained to me that first time was difficult creating the three dimensional pieces because of course she didn’t know what she was doing. So this could take like two, three days. “But now I am quicker. I love it, I love when I find a new position or something new to add or do.”

From Ania’s expression and body language she loves Australia as much as the whales. “I have been here for one year and I am here for sure until July, I just want to stay. I will be a student my whole life if I have to, so that I can stay here.” She recounts her travels and how her sculptures support her life here. “I love travelling here so much. I have a van, I landed with my sister in Darwin and we got a van and we crossed the desert and we saw Uluru and the Great Ocean Road, then up to Noosa and then back again, then down to Tasmania for two months. I am always driving. My van is nice, it is a super old van, it is a thirty one years old van, so everyone looks at my van and it is a good display for my whales. On the side of my van in the window I always put my whales, on the side with my website.”

Ania Caffarena can be contacted on

@aniacaffarena – Instagram

www.aniacaffarena.com

aniacaffarena@gmail.com

 

Kat Deschan

I asked Kat Deschan Illustrator, if she would have a quick chat with me, while I was admiring her stunning hand drawn art work, she was kind enough to say yes. Her art work was on display at the Byron Bay Festival of Design. The black and white pencil A1 drawing of a pair of one piece togs, covered in sunflowers and strawberries is the art work I was admiring. Kat told me that it took her about 25 hours of work.

I wish this was my sole income source, this is all I want to do. I just want to draw. I have a lot of support from my friends, but I have never really shown anyone my art work, this is the first time today. I really hope one day that this will be it for me. I loved her instantly, as this is exactly how I feel about my writing. She was honest and generous in how open she was, especially as I put her on the spot with the interview.

“So you have never sold your art work?”

“No. Nowhere, I mean I have never tried to.”

“Seriously? You have never tried to sell this beautiful art work!”

“No, I mean I have sold some things, I have done mostly drawings for friends. My friends are happy to pay for my art.”

I studied design and photography and film. When I was studying I got carried away and thought that I wanted to work in film, I finished my study, but soon realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I came to Australia from Germany and met my partner about two years ago. Only a couple of months ago, I remembered that I like to draw. I did draw when I was small. And now I am back doing it. But this is what I want to do now that I am in Byron Bay.

I have my Instagram account for now but will eventually get someone to set up a website for me. I would love to do workshops that would be so much fun. Where I work everyone is so interested and want me to show them how to do it. I mean it is so relaxing. At home I listen to audio books and music and draw. I would be happy to do that all day, twenty four seven.

 

Please check out Kats Instagram account of her art work. She can also be contacted on her email: katharina.deschan@gmx.com.

Byron Bay

We are grateful to be only 3 hours down the highway and to have the good fortune of holidaying in Byron Bay the nature loving, surf metropolis that thrums to its own vibe. I enjoy the melting pot of diversity of the people that are attracted to the famous coastal town. Bare footed surfers, backpackers, families, gen y’s speaking foreign languages, hippies and the patient locals. Another thing that I enjoy while in town is checking out the local markets, festivals, and food. Driving around this week I have seen signs advertising the Byron Bay Festival of Design. My husband wanted to go Christmas shopping in Ballina, because it really shits us to have to pay for parking in Byron. Seems petty when it is only a few dollars, but it’s just something else we have to pay for and that alone stops us from going in there as much as I would like. But I said no way we are going to support the locals and local creatives and I am so glad we made the effort. We are early rises so I think we were some of the first people at the festival. I had in mind that I wanted to do a few interviews of people that I had seen on the Instagram account for the festival but I was too nervous to ask and did a quick lap around the stalls and we took advantage of the free parking at the Youth Activity Centre and headed into Byron for a look at what was going on in town. My three ate gelato, they dreamed over new surf boards, we found alley ways with murals painted on the walls, stopped in the street and chatted to our elderly neighbour from the caravan park. The streets were quiet and bare, maybe a bit early for the all the tourists to be out exploring, not many surfers around due to the terrible conditions, we listened to a van full of long haired, bare chested blokes with beards playing guitars and a banjo, we walked past a homeless man who was packing up his belongings, we stood beside a black Porsche with a flawlessly made up lady sitting in it playing with her phone while we waited to cross the road. We walked the back streets back to the youth centre and by the time I got there I had worked up the courage to go back to the design festival and ask for some interviews. Have a read of the next four posts about some very interesting women.

 

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Post 99

In nearly 100 posts, lots has happened. Winter to summer, school to school holidays, I was at the peak of working hard on my marriage.  Now we are still working on it but not in such an acute I love you but really do hate you way. Now it’s more of an I love you and can say to your face that you shit me kinda way and know we can talk about it.  I have learnt that emotions are what they are, and just to feel it. I had some really shit days in the beginning and fought them, there was one particular day that was really shit and I just laid out on my bed and felt it, it was awful and painful and I wailed. There have been other days that I have loved so deeply that I have felt that experience imbed in my bones. I am much more grateful for the people in my life, and I love them so. Still things I am scared of – like sharing my writing.

I have discovered that I love photography. I always did like taking a snap shot, so when my husband spent his tax refund dollars on a beautiful camera for me, I swore that that beauty would be used every day. I have discovered that I like the small details in a subject. A face, hands, eyes. I was taking photos of the beach the other day and they were nice, but it was just another beach. Then I sat down, squatted down and  laid down on the beach and took photos of the dune grass, the ghost crabs, seagulls, rocks, shells, jelly fish, blue bottles. At the Byron Bay light house I was photographing the blocks that made the lighthouse, the windows, the doors, the glass, the letterbox. My husband’s hands were an extremely popular post on my Instagram and received more comments and likes than any other post from this holiday. In saying all of this though, I still am not comfortable taking a selfie with just me in the frame.

I have become observant of my experiences, surroundings and people. I have become observant of conversations and what has been said. Some days I feel a bit creepy and purposely leave out some experiences because I don’t want to overstep the line. However, the more scary and emotional and cleansing the post was for me the more open, real, honest and raw I was with my writing seemed to be popular with my loyal readers.

One more post and I have done my 100, it wasn’t in the time that I wanted to do it, so feel that is a bit of a fail. But big wins for me was that I was published in one of my fave magazines Womankind. And, I had the privilege of interviewing awesome women and want to continue to do so and be a collector of women’s stories.

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Post 98.

“Oh your boy’s are so independent, I was watching you set up your site yesterday and was envious of you and your hubby. The boy’s jumped out of your car and went and found their friends and you two laughed and worked together putting together your camp site.” This was said to me by the lady across the road from our site that I met last year. Her and her husband have been travelling the east coast of Australia with their three year old in a van and a caravan. No more to be said really, the poor love has a threenager, who is absolutely gorgeous but is an unholy terror,  living in a caravan. That is why she was feeling envious.

The boys did run and find their friends, but once they came back to ask for food they were advised that they should set up their tent before dark. One said no he wanted to hang out with mates, the other one started unpacking the tent because he wasn’t doing it in the dark.

They have been given a little more freedom this year, they have hang out on the beach with friends but must get us if they want to go in the water. They were allowed to walk to the tea tree creek. Boy one learnt a hard lesson, he was showing off and tried a trick that didn’t work and landed wrong and hurt his ribs and abdo muscles.

“I am making sandwiches and smoothies for lunch.” I had two responses of cool thanks and one of “No thanks I am going for a walk.” Dishes done, sitting reading a book I hear from down the street coming towards me.

“Mum I am starving can you make me lunch?”

“No, I made lunch, you didn’t want it, you can make or cook something”

“What!!! I don’t cook!”

So we had a cooking lesson, I sat and watched and directed and he cooked. He lit the gas burner, collected all the ingredients for macaroni cheese. And cooked his own lunch.

They were told they could bring $10 for the lolly shop and that was it, they had to look after the money and spend it wisely. First day one of them goes to the shop, thinking he knows best and loses $5.00 out the bottom of the pocket in his shorts because he didn’t want to use his wallet.

They have both been responsible with checking in and asking if they are able to leave the park for the beach or the headland. Last night they asked if they could stay out until 9.00pm, to hang with friends at another camp site. We said yes but had to definitely be home by 9.00pm. One of them came home at 8.58pm then other 9.31pm. The one that was late doesn’t get to go out tonight.

Lots and lots of lessons being learnt these holidays.

Nanny Becca 

As a 16 year old I knew that I wanted to work with pre-schoolers, I was always interest in the early years. In year 12 a lady came to our school as part of a careers information session. She was from The Nanny School in Brisbane. She spoke about The Nanny School, being a nanny, what it involved and the possibility of working overseas, I knew then that is exactly what I wanted to do. So I worked part-time and saved to be able to go to The Nanny School, prior to this I had studied and completed a Certificate Three in early childhood. I went straight into a Nanning position after graduation, I was there for 15 months before moving to London with my boyfriend who was a professional rugby league player. We moved to Leeds and lived there for a year I was working in a Montessori nursery, still knowing that I wanted to go and Nanny in London. When we came back to England from Australia for another football contract in Leeds, I said to him I am going straight to London.

I have always gone through a nanny agency, they do all the screening and they know how to match you. They ask very specific questions eg. Do you drive, will you travel with families, age preferences. From this I was in a job for just under a year, the mother only need someone while her husband was away from home – he was an actor. This family referred me to a friend that needed a nanny for 2-4 weeks, while their permanent nanny went home to Australia. This was perfect for me as I was about to go travelling with my boyfriend who was playing in the Rugby world cup. I knew the children that I would be looking after as their nanny and I were friends and would have play dates with our children. One week and the mother said to me “we have spoken more in this week, than I have spoken to the other nanny in a year. Having you here has made me realise what a nanny is meant to be doing.” She went on to say that she wanted me to come back to her and nanny and live in the converted flat upstairs, after I had travelled with my boyfriend.  She told the permanent nanny not to come back. So I ended up staying with them for 3 years. This was until the father wanted to be a stay at home dad, and also because I was getting too expensive as they now had three children. The third child I looked after from birth until she was two. Still to this day I call her my baby. They have four children now and I have been appointed guardian if anything was ever to happen to the parents.

The next family I went onto I was with for a year, they had two children and I did not bond with the boy child or the mother at all. From this I ended up working in Turkey as a summer nanny, even though I never wanted to nanny outside of London. But the money was so good and a friend who was also a nanny was going on holidays and her children needed someone. I knew the children, because when they would come to London we would meet for playdates with my children. I was there for the summer with three housekeepers and a driver only one of them spoke English so the eight year old would translate for me.

While I was in Turkey there were agencies in London deciding which jobs they would allow me to look at. This is how agencies work, based on experience and qualifications they usually gave you about three to look at. I was told that I was highly sort after in London based on my experience and qualifications, and serving time as a nannies helper and moving quickly onto sole charge. I was sitting on the top pay scale, which at the time was about 390 – 400 pound a week about $1000 Australian. I only worked for families where the parents were at work all day. I refused to work for someone that wasn’t working herself, as I felt if you are not working you need to be looking after your children.

I worked 12 hour days with the children, I usually had one on my hip, one at nursery, or school. We would have a strict routine. We would drop children at school or nursery and the baby and I would do our morning activities, maybe meet up with other nannies. Come home feed them lunch, put them down for a nap and then go and do pick up in the afternoon. Nannies really do have the best social calendar, you do not want to be stuck at home all day. I would have sole charge of the children, I would not clean or do general housekeeping, I would only do child nursery duties; cleaning their rooms, cooking their food and their laundry. Occasionally even on my days off or after I had signed off for the day I would still be with them, I loved them and loved just being with them.

As a mother everything that you have just said makes me want to cry. Everything you have said is what I did as a mother with my boys. These mothers must absolutely love and trust you immensely to be with their child like this.

You are right and I totally understand how you feel, at one time I had an au pair helping me with three children and when I would see her with my children, playing with them or showing the affection and I would become so jealous.

I said to the best friend of the lady I was working for “I admire and respect you and the women that work and have nannies – purely for the fact that you are willing to share your child’s love with someone else. I understand that is a choice, I mean the women that I worked for were high profile, extremely successful women, family orientated women. They had worked very hard for years to get to where they were. They loved their careers but also wanted a child. It meant that they need to work out the best balance for them emotionally and of course they still had mother guilt and had to learn how to deal with the social pressure from other women.

The top nanny agency in London, put me forward for a job in Kensington, I went for the interview, the agency negotiated the job for me. They called me in Turkey to say that I had just topped the pay scale for them; I would be getting 390 pounds a week, a flat in Kensington and a car – a BMW X5 and my only bill being a mobile phone. Being at this level, I knew my boundaries as a professional Nanny and always demanded respect from the families, I would only work for families where our values aligned and knew we would be a good fit. I would never travel with the families, dynamics change, and routines change. I was a professional nanny, so when the parents went to work I started work, when they went home I finished work as a live in Nanny. If you travel with them you are at their beck and call. So there are girls that are specifically holiday nannies. They only do travel with families and some only do high profile families and couldn’t think of anything worse than my position where I was stationary in London, doing the same routines everyday was their job from hell.

At the end of the day I just love being around the children under five, I love being with them and having play dates, developing a bond with them, I get so much satisfaction out of watching them grow. I loved for example the chaos and busyness of eating dinner with a table full of under-fives. It was crazy and loud and I loved it. When I moved back to Australia and would be sitting at the dinner table with my husband and it was quiet and civilised I found it boring and I suffered from what I think is empty nest syndrome. For 12 years I had a child on my hip or under my feet from when I was eighteen and I stopped when I was 30. At the end of my time as a nanny, I was just so tired of leaving families, I would just get so attached and I would end up being an absolute mess.

One of the challenges of Nanning is living in a house and living with the dynamics of a husband and wife. Working and living with a family you are dealing with them on a professional level and also an emotional level. Living within a family there is such a personal level of the job as well. The family that I worked with the longest I called her my mum away from home, and to this day we are still in contact with and I have just been invited to go and visit them in Sydney.

My biggest thing especially with under-fives is always to sit and eat with your children and eat the same food. This is so important because: children do not innately know how to eat dinner at a table and food does not motivate children under five. The only thing that motivates a child under five is fun. If they are at a table just being told to eat they are not learning, they learning by copying you. The very first thing I did as a nanny would be always to sit down and eat with the children. The family I was with the longest named me “two dinner Edwards”, because I always ate with the children at 5pm then would go out and eat with friends later. The last job I was in the little boy refused to eat vegetables, but within two weeks of me being with him, he was eating vegetables. The mother said to me I don’t know what you’re doing but keep it up, because her son had a new favourite food of broccoli. The food behaviour in the home changed because I made fun out of it and boys are motivated by challenge, so I would challenge him. “I would say to him you can’t eat a tree”. And of course he ate the tree. Eat with them, eat the same food as them – because they want to be the same as you, they role model you. So do what you want them to copy and feeding children under five needs to be fun. Do not ever clean a child up at the dinner table, let them get food everywhere, on their hands, on their face. Let them feel the food, clean them up away from the table. Let them explore it. Another tip when you do go to wash their face, don’t smother their face with the face washer. They will pull away and bat their hands. Be gentle, lean into them with a soft and soothing voice and clean off one part of their face at a time, explain what you are doing, they will relax and lean into you and let you do it. Be soft and delicate.

Routine. I had a really strict routine. It got to the point that the children could predict what was happening next. This created a sense of calm in them. If children don’t have strict boundaries they don’t feel safe and secure and they can act out because they are feeling disconnected from you. If you are consistent they always know what to expect from you and again they feel secure. Routines and consistence is the key.

Communications with under-fives is so important. Especially over the age of 3, they become much more reasonable. Appreciate that they know more than you think they do. They understand more than they can verbalise. Explain things to them, it’s not fair to dictate to children, explain why you are doing something, this brings understanding and they will be so much more reasonable.

If you want to distract, motivate or engage a child, music wins every time. Make it fun and sing, it captivates them. I spoke to a music teacher about this and she agreed with me that music changes the dynamic and a great way to distract, motivate or engage a child.

Get down on the ground with the children, go to eye level especially with boys. It’s not an innate awareness for parents to get down to eye level. Some parents have an instructional, dictator relationships with children. If they see them at eye level they have a serve and return interaction with their child. For example sit and eat with them at the dinner table, sit with them a do an activity with them.

Start with the end mind, think about how you want them to act not as babies, but as older children. Speak to them with proper words, use appropriate language. That is one of my biggest tips for parents.

Daphne Kapsali

I want to send a big thank you to Daphne, an Amazon Top 100 bestselling author, for our Skype conversation.  I was read the first few chapters of 100 days of Solitude and I felt like a connected with her on so many levels, I knew I had to contact her and see if she would be interested in chatting to me. So grateful that she said yes. I was thrilled to learn so much. Thank you Daphne.

It was a constant process and a constant transition. There was stages when I was like “oh this is fine, then it would be this is terrifying, then it would be oh what the fuck am I doing.”

I am quiet shy and introverted and I can’t deal with groups of people, I hate it and I get really insecure. I am very good one to one, and I have my very good friends and I am approachable, but this whole thing, it was a really weird thing, because it was I was on my own but I had to actually open up. I mean this process really helped me, because I have started talking to everybody now. I mean one to one talking to everyone, not in a group.

Hiding behind my computer is a comfortable place for me.

I actually had to do a book launch, presentation for 100 days of Solitude . It was a really little thing last summer. I was deranged, it was absolutely horrible, I nearly walked away. I sat at the back and was like please don’t make me do it, don’t make me do it.

I mean the people on the island don’t speak English and the book is written in English, so they know that I am the girl that wrote the book, they have been really positive, even though they haven’t read it. When I published it, I did change the names. But people would know who is who.

This is funny and it’s a joke now I am known as “one local author”. This name came about because a person that was a non-English speaker, walked into the local bookstore and said “I am looking for a book by one local author”. So I am officially a local now.

I made chick peas with the locals on Sunday. I have only just realised, that is seems to be a gathering of men. I had noticed that it was the men that bought the chick-peas to the oven. I mean, I think it is just an excuse to meet the mates and catch-up on the gossip. When I took my chick peas on Saturday I looked around at all of these men and well me, and I was like “oh maybe they don’t want me here”. But, “I was like oh whatever and lit up a cigarette.”

No, no regrets about being here, I mean I can always pack up and go back. I wouldn’t change anything actually. As long as I know that the option is there.

For the first couple of days it is a shock to the system to be off the island. I have more trouble when I travel from Sifnos to Athens, than here to London. I mean in London, I have my London persona and I switch back into like instantly. I know how to handle London.

But getting on the boat here, where it is all peaceful. And then arriving in Athens which is chaos. There is, absolutely no order to that city, I mean I have grown up there and should know how to handle it, but I just can’t handle it. That is a culture shock. That is like, there are too many people around and they are touching me, why are they touching me.

A couple of years ago when I was here and started this process, it was really interesting, I wanted all kinds of stuff, from all these shops in Athens and London and now when I go back I just don’t want anything. I look at all this stuff and go this is excessive, all these shops and this stuff.

Someone sent me an email with a quote in it something like “All sadness comes from thinking about the past, and all anxiety comes from thinking about the future, and if we are just in the moment we are fine”. That is a nice theory, but we can’t cut ourselves off from everything that has happened and everything that might happen. But if we have moments, where we kinda feel, that we are fine right now, then that is good enough. Just more moments. We just need more moments.

I am counting on the universe to provide. Air bnb is pocket money. I mean, the universe has done alright for me, considering I haven’t had a job for a couple of years, and I am not in jail. I constantly prompt it, I am still here. I mean, you know I have these moments where I am like; oh so when I am positive, shit really happens. And then I forget again, cause you know the fear sets in. I mean it’s a constant thing. You have to truly trust it, like you can’t just pretend. You have to truly trust it or you’re not gonna get shit. You know you have to live like you already have the stuff. Like “I don’t have a job but I am fine” and I just trust, then something actually does come up.

I mean, I know that a good dose of yoga will sort me out. I have to force myself, otherwise I will sit here and feel really sorry for myself. I sometimes have to force myself to do the beach walks. And I am bored of the stairs, there is no novelty left. You know when you get yourself into a situation, and you know that certain things will help you, but you don’t do them? That walk is exactly that, within about 15 minutes the walk clears my head, it just changes everything. I did it yesterday, and it was just before sunset, so I had just about an hour, which is as long as it takes, so that I will have light while I am walking. It was amazing, I was so glad that I did it. I got to the beach and there was nobody on the beach, and I had a swim and I was like; yep, I need to remember this, and this is why I do it cause it makes me feel so much better.

I find that with writing too, and that is why I have been in a weird state because I haven’t done enough writing. I need the method of writing. The 100 days was really worked for me. Because it was basically you are going to have to produce something that you have to post. So it is going to have to be fairly decent. So I would just sit there for as long as it took, and it goes to show that you can do it. It just needs to be a daily thing with writing. Because if I think; oh I will do it at some point, well it’s just never going to happen. It has to be part of the daily routine.

There were days there, where I would sit there and think, what am I going to write about. I have absolutely nothing to say. I haven’t spoken to anybody for 3 days, I haven’t left the house for 5 days. I mean I spoke to the cats, so then I write a post about the cats. It did end up being ideal writing conditions for me once I sat down and started, things would just come. I mean not always obviously. Sometimes I would go away and leave it for a few hours and comeback and start again, but it did come naturally, after a few days.

I mean do people really give a shit about this thing that I am doing? Who gives a shit, some girl on an island, so what! But for some reason, you know, you kind of stumble across something that makes sense to some other people. You know, when I am writing sometimes I feel that it is too much for me, but I have found that it has become easier, because once  I started getting responses from people, saying “that makes sense, I get that too”. Then I kind of go, oh well we are all the same. You don’t have to pretend to be sorted all the time, you don’t have to hide the strange thoughts that you have or whatever. I mean I talk to everybody now, there is a story in everybody, when you talk to them, there is always something that you can relate to.

No, oh god no, no, no, no,no, never do crowd funding ever, ever again. It was incredible, but it is so exhausting, it is so, so stressful. I mean even if you believe in what you’re doing, it does feel a bit icky, you know it’s like “give me your money”. I am really glad that I did it, but no never again. It was incredibly exhausting, I am happy to put in the effort but you have to be on the internet 24/7.

Everyone is on Facebook, I built up a little community there and then I put up a small post about what I was doing and people responded. I mean as long as you be you, the right people will respond and you’re going to feel alright about what you’re doing.

 

I want to send a big thank you to Daphne, an Amazon Top 100 bestselling author, for our Skype conversation.  I was reading the first few chapters of 100 days of Solitude and I felt like a connected with her on so many levels, I knew I had to contact her and see if she would be interested in chatting to me. So grateful that she said yes. I was thrilled to learn so much. Thank you Daphne.

“If you have ever stopped yourself doing something you love because ‘now just isn’t the right time’, read this book.” A personal journey that inadvertently became an accidental self-help guide to doing what you love and living as your true self, whoever that might turn out to be, 100 days of solitude is inspiring thousands of people to claim the time and space they need to find themselves and live their best lives. Amazon Top 100 Bestseller

 

 

Why back me financially, by having to pay to read the interviews? Because I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.

Peta Hughes

I have always known Peta, to be a woman that waves the flag very passionately for feminism, and celebrating women and their accomplishments. I have known her, to be a loyal and devoted friend to the people around her. Peta is very aware of her emotions, and from conversations with her, she tries to live very closely to her core values. I knew that Peta had been in the navy but I didn’t know her role.

I saw a post on Facebook, celebrating the anniversary of the day, she was the first woman, in the Royal Australian Navy to fire a missile. I was so proud of her, and it solidified for me, her passion and commitment to feminism and celebrating women. Because, she had done something so significant, and bad ass in a male dominated profession. I couldn’t wait for our interview.

“I was on the HMAS Sydney, I was the second woman to do the job of fire control technician on frigates. Frigates at this point hadn’t long had women on board.”

“Really, all male crew into the early nineties? How?

“Because it was the whole warfare thing, women were not allowed to go to war, the job that I did was combat role, and I was on a frigate which is a war ship.”

“So why did you choose the job you did?”

“In 1993 when I joined there was three jobs available. They were recruiting for chefs, stewards. My mum and dad had been in the navy, and dad said, “you will be totally bored doing the chef and steward’s job. You could easily do this job of electronics technician.” I had absolutely no interest in technicians I just wanted to travel.”

“If it was all male, why start recruiting women to combat roles?”

“More opportunities where coming up and they had roles that needed to be filled. But you know the thought of sending a women off to war, I mean it’s tradition to protect the little woman and all that. War is the last bastion isn’t it.  Women can be nurses, teachers. Well I mean she can fire a missile too you know. I mean later on I went to east Timor and the Persian Gulf. I didn’t go during the war, I was in Kuwait after the war though.”

“The rank that I was, was a seaman that is bottom rung. I was 22 when I was posted on there, you know a ship is so rank orientated. You need to prove yourself. When I was at Cerberus in Melbourne – Port Phillip Bay, there was 10 female technicians, amongst 400 blokes. We really stood out, we couldn’t hide. When you look at this through a feminist microscope there is sexism and misogyny everywhere, patriarchy everywhere.”

“Ships are like a very, very small towns, people talk. As a naval woman early on in my career I learnt to keep my head down and just do my job. As a woman I was always a little bit afraid of being judged. I felt an enormous amount of pressure being in such a male dominated job.”

“There was aptitude testing to do this role, I passed those. I really liked that it was the crème de la crème of the techos. This was the job that happened to keep me at sea a lot as well, so I was able to do a lot of travel. Out of ten years I spent six on ships. Twelve months of that was in San Diego with my radar and missile course. There is the radar and there is a 3 inch and a 5 inch gun on the launcher and it tracks the target. I mean fire control, I was like oh yeah I want to do that. It was really, really fun, at the time we were so young and so arrogant.”

“So in relation to the missile, the girl ahead of me never go to fire it, all the boys had a turn, I was just lucky really when it came to my turn. I was working for the weapons electrical engineering officer, as a technician, we were operators and maintainers, I was a maintainer technician. But we operated the radar as well, and that is how I came to fire the missile. The gunnery officer directed us what to shoot at, where and when.”

“We had trained and trained and trained, I had my chief, my petty officer, the leading seaman we all worked together. Lots of testing of signals and safety stuff goes on. We would do a preparation called ballistics, so it would take in the weather, wind speed, the temperature anything that would alter where the missile was going to go. So what I fired was an anti-air missile,  it would be a drone remote control air-craft, towing a target, on a very long 2km line. The target was a computer as well. We didn’t want to blow up the target, the missile was designed to blow up near the target. But well I actually blew up the target.”

“I was always really good under pressure, we had been trained to be a machine, we did so much training, so many drills, it was constant, there was sleep deprivation, and there was more pressure. We were machines, our emotions were ignored.”

“My gunnery officer said to me “this is for navy news”. I said without hesitation, nope. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself, I didn’t want to be different to the guys.”

“Really this was such an important step for women in the navy”.

“Yep I know”

“It wasn’t celebrated!”

“Nope, maybe I was thinking it would divisive, I mean in order to survive you just have to get on board with things that are going on around you.”

“I was always good friends with the guys, I never got on board with all the sexist jokes or anything, but I was just quiet, got on with my job and was friends with most people. But above all I had the girls back. When I was on the Melbourne I was an able seaman, and the leading hand in the mess for two years, because I did a great job. And I always was like what happens in the mess stays in the mess. I was always like don’t be talkin’ shit about the sisters here, cause it will not be tolerated. We need to stick to together to be a force.”

“In communal living it is all about honesty and respect for others. If someone needs to be left alone, leave them alone. Wash your clothes, wear your deodorant. Cause someone will tell you, you stink.”

“The absolute best thing about the navy for me was the friends I made, I am still friends with a lot of them. The water was also a saving grace for me. All that water, looking out at the ocean on a starry night with the moon reflecting off the ocean, seeing the dolphins and the whales.”

“By the time I was finishing I couldn’t wait to get away, I was done. I had done my 10 years and I just thought I can’t wait to get away from the patriarchy. The navy has a really poor environmental record which really pissed me off. I had enough of going to sea, I mean they own you. They run everything, tell you when to eat, you just have to do what they say. Once you sign on the dotted line they own you.”

 

Why back me financially, by having to pay to read the interviews? Because I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.

Amanda Metelli

The third lady in my #mesistertribe series is Amanda Metelli.

 

Metelli and I meet at a coffee shop for our interview and were seated in booth seating, it was the perfect setting for our fun chat. This gorgeous lady, saves lives everyday as an emergency department nurse. I was fascinated by her plans to celebrate her own life and wanted to hear more about it. Because I don’t know many women, who plan for a whole year to celebrate themselves, to celebrate their achievements and their successes with the absolute most important people in their lives. As Metelli said to me “these aren’t people that are on a list, just to make a list, these are the most, the most important people in my world.”

Our tea and coffee was delivered to our table and she started telling me about her plans. I love her excitement and how animated she is in telling me all of her plans.

“I literally started planning this party on my 29th birthday. I was on a beach in Nice and I may have had a little bit of a moment, where I had a meltdown, with my Dad – of course.  Where I looked back, and thought I will be turning 30 and what have I achieved.  How can I celebrate all the things that are important?

Metelli went on to tell me that her Dad, started listing everything that his daughter had achieved.

“You have a career, you have your own mortgage, you have travelled and you have great friends.”

Although our conversation was about how she was going to celebrate her 30th birthday these achievements, and the importance of family, friends and self-discovery was the foundation.

“If I could recommended anything for anyone wanting to find themselves. Is to literally pack themselves a suitcase, get on a plane and go somewhere completely foreign. You will find out who you are and what you are willing and not willing to do.”

“Tell me all about this magnificent party that is nothing like a wedding.”

“This party going to be so far from a wedding it is not funny, it’s not a birthday bash or a dirty 30.”

“The invitation has set the tone for the party, no jeans allowed and if you wear joggers, I will kick you out”.

The room is booked, the event planner has meticulously listened to Metelli’s vision and her dream for her 30th birthday celebration, the florist has the flowers picked and the photographer is organised. One of Metelli’s talents is cake making, and I mean amazingly creative, stunning cakes. So she will be creating her own purple, black and gold masterpiece.

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Look at her cake making skills

 

 

“The event planner and the florist have been so great and so excited, I think they are excited not to be doing a wedding or a Christmas party.”

“The morning of the party, I am going to book us all in for pedicures. Because even my Grandma can come to that, the accommodation is booked, I just need to order my dress.”

“I set myself a challenge to lose my 50th kilo by my 30th birthday. I have 10 kilos to go. I’ll order the dress in the next couple of weeks.

After listening to the intricate details of the lavish party, the thought, the challenges and the goals set for this fabulous celebration. I wanted to know how she picked the guests.

“This party is not about things, it is about people, it’s about the people that mean the most to me right now at this point in my life. Who are the 30 most important people that I want to spend an extravagant night with. You know that concept of picking 30 people to have dinner with alive or dead, these are my people.”

“The way you are describing it to me, and the detail you have gone into, this party sounds more like a celebration of the people in your life than yourself.”

“It absolutely is, because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be me.”

“My mum and dad and my grandma and my grandpa, need to take one hundred percent accountability for the person that I am.”

“I kind of had an epiphany, I needed to define a friend and a colleague. This process was almost like a journey of self-discovery, and me defining who are the most, important people to me. The people that make an effort. I am so lucky and blessed with the people in my life, they have always been there for me, I am so grateful for all of them.”

Marina Meier

Lounging in the sun at a coffee shop enjoying a heavenly caramel latte, with my photographer friend Marina and her pot of tea. We were discussing her love of photography, the sentimental importance of photographs, and the memories they can induce. Marina reminisced about her grandmother when speaking about photos that are most valuable to her.

“I look at the photos that I have of her, I remember the times that I spent with her”.

“The best gifts I received as a child were from my Grandmother, birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, she would find beautiful presents, sometime months in advance and buy them for me and put them away.  I remember as a little girl – I don’t know how hold, but small enough that, one time I saw package/ box on top of the cupboard and dragged a chair over, stood on tip toes and peaked in the box at a lovely new dress.”

“I spent most summer holidays with her; I loved spending my time with her. We didn’t have a car so was difficult to get to her home, but my father passed her village on his way to work and would drop me off on the way and pick me up after work, or leave me for the weekend or a fortnight. Her kindness, her cooking and her hands are clearest in my mind.  She had rough hands, scratchy hands from working and cooking. I would pull up a little stool and sit between her legs pull up my top and she would run rough, scratchy hands over my little back.”

Marina stops and laughs and scratches her back “my back is itchy know as I tell you this”.

“We moved house at one point, I didn’t see her for a while until she moved 500 metres down the road from us with my uncle.  I spent time with her every day.  I am the oldest grandchild so got to spend a lot of time with her.”

“Once we moved from Kazakhstan to Germany, I only saw her twice in 9 years.  I knew she was sick, but didn’t think that she would pass. We didn’t talk on the phone much, but I always knew how she was doing from my Mum, who spoke to my aunt.  I was in Australia when she passed. I found out a week after she was gone.  My poor Mum couldn’t cope, and my dad was looking after my Mum. I think they were stressed and that is why it took a week.”

 

photographer-marina-nan1  phtographer-marina-nan2

My Mum

I interviewed my Mum.

“As a child we moved to Redcliffe when there was still dirt roads, we had to clear our own piece of land so that the house could be built.  When Grandma was pregnant with your Aunty Kelli, I would take our dog for a walk in the pram practicing for when we had a new baby.  When all the kids were born (mums 3 siblings) I would ride kilometres and kilometres to the Catholic girl’s school where you also went to primary school. I would have to ride past your fathers, Grandparents house and Grandfather would come out every afternoon on my way home, and give me a bunch of flowers for your Grandma”.

“Once we got married we never went on many holidays, only a couple of times beach camping.  Then you girls came along and your father worked all the time.”

From my point of view as the eldest daughter, Mum has handled being a wife and mother with grace, dignity and elegance. She always had the whole family’s happiness as her focus, even Dad after he had torn her heart out.

“I think that I did ok raising you girls, I mean you’re good girls who have lovely families.”

I find perception amazing.  Yes it was sad and devastating and it took a long time to adjust to the fact that we became a single parent family, and the way that happened. But it was almost a relief to just have the four of us girls at home. A decision had been made and it felt much more stress-free.

“I felt like such a failure, he left me for a women that was at one time a friend and had three daughters the same age as you three girls.”

Mum continued with routine and family traditions – like always eating our meals together, where we shared our day and what was happening, there was always something baked for afternoon tea (Mum makes the best caramel tart with whipped cream). Even through her pain, “There was some days that I didn’t have the strength to get out of bed.”  I never felt as though she let us witness those painful days, after the initial heartache had worn off. Mum always got up and presented herself in gorgeous clothes, shoes and had her hair styled.

Mum is a wonderful role model for me, she has taught us work ethic, through having her two jobs, always having an impeccable house and yard. She is also a stickler for routine, which made me feel safe as I always knew what was going on. She showed us how to be kind and generous and supportive by looking after Dad’s sisters in the palliative stages of their breast cancer journeys. She taught us to always be respectful and use manners and morals as a guide.  Mum showed grace, courage and strength by never arguing with Dad in front of us, she always remained polite and accommodating, towards him.

“I always preferred when your father came to our place, to see you girls and having you girls with me than your father taking you away. Even though every time I saw the tail lights head down the drive way, I felt like I had taken 10 steps back”.

Mum always made sure that we had everything that we could need and never felt like we went without.

“I was left with $50″.

The school swimming carnival of that year, I needed new togs Mum took me to the surf shop and brought me a pair of pink Roxy one piece togs with little flowers on them, I LOVED them. But felt bad as I knew she couldn’t afford it.

As a mother myself of two boys and fumbling my way through as a wife and mother, I can only hope that I will be half the mother and granny that Mum is.  I lean on Mum for support and guidance in the way that I mother my boys and live my wife life. Mum always offers sage advice, sometimes I don’t want it and sometimes it’s not just words that I need from my Mum. Mum has always made us kiss and cuddle each other goodbye, and sometimes even after a long chat I just need to feel like a child again and be held in Mums arms and feel her heart beating. At times just having mum cuddle me brings me to tears, knowing her support and love is always there.

 

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Why back me financially, by having to pay to read the interviews? Because I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.

Rhonda Ryde – Stella’s Awakening

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I have a fear of writing. A deep seated anxiety that I am not good enough, that my grammar is appalling, that I cannot express adequately in words the beauty that I experience. That I cannot express emotions effectively and make them beautiful or haunting in text. I fear that what I write no one will be interested in. I fear that I have no qualifications to write, I am not an expert, and don’t have a degree.

None of these same fears plagued Rhonda, a successful, new author that kindly let me interview her.

“I had never written anything before, but I had a story inside me and I just wanted to write it, I held zero expectation, I started writing for fun”.

Researching, attending workshops, and pod casts steered Rhonda down the self-publishing path.

“I discovered Kindle; I was so excited that I could publish my book, myself on Kindle. I just wanted to get it out there.”

She sourced and engaged several booklovers to beta- read her work, a story that was her life. A story about making a choice to fly and fall into the arms of her supportive husband. To abandon the life that she was raised in.  

The editing of Stella’s Awakening proved to be a learning experience, she dismissed several editors who thought they knew what she was trying to portray in her writing. Following her intuition and her own vision for the book, she unearthed the perfect editor with experience and knowledge of the erotic romance genre.

The Skype screen finally comes to life after several attempts to connect with Rhonda Ryde, self-published author of a new erotic romance Stella’s Awakening. Regardless of being separated by a computer screen, Rhonda’s enthusiasm and joy is palpable.

I am so glad she can’t see my knee bouncing erratically or the sheet of paper in my hands shaking like a leaf.

Rhonda is seated comfortably in her lounge room in her home in New South Wales. Head held high, arms relaxed and open on the sides of her chair, an excited sparkle in her eye and a gorgeous toothy smile on her face.  Her daughter can be spotted in the background enjoying the school holidays. Rhonda is taking time off to spend with her daughter away from her part-time job as an interpreter for the deaf. Rhonda tells me that she is currently finishing the first draft of the second book. She explains that it has taken so long to come to life because she is all about balance.

“I was so emotionally drained from writing and publishing the first book that the second book has taken much longer to write.”

She loves spending as much time with her husband and daughter as she can, she loves her job and would not sacrifice that for fulltime writing. Rhonda has a passion for surfing and motorbike riding that she enjoys with her cherished husband. She tells me that writing is another hobby that she adores and has the encouragement, and undying support of her love. She immerses herself in the erotic romance writing at a time that has been allocated to after 8.30pm, after she has spent half an hour tucking her daughter in to bed and de-briefing on the day. She spends time on her days off writing when she is home alone.   

Rhonda expresses how she loves the magic of writing, she loves that as a first time, inexperienced writer she has been able to successfully tell her story. My heart is so full for this woman. When I read her book and studied it again in preparation for the interview, I did have a feeling that the story held an element of truth. There was a bravery and elegance in which Rhonda expressed her story and life experience. The strong conviction with which the words were penned, and the stylish presentation of the book. Add in spicy pieces of writing that were inspired by reading extensively in the erotic romance genre. Reading this love story, was a joy. It is overflowing with secrets, shame, commitment, devotion, passion, mind blowing sex and forbidden love. The other elements of the story had me at times crying into my Kindle. I wanted to tell her that the writing of the words showed fearlessness, but also the publishing of the book.

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“How did you celebrate the publishing of Stella’s awakening?”

Laughing, Rhonda tells me; “I hit publish, said yay it’s published, we had dinner, and that was it”.

When asked about the plot of the book and some of the controversial topics, Rhonda is open, honest and raw in her answer. My skin was prickling and my heart was racing on her behalf, fear of confrontation or rejection would cripple me. Because this book isn’t just about her, it is about her family and a religious lifestyle that has millions of followers. One question was; what she thought her family, friends and her old congregation would say and her answer was given to me with steel in her voice and a straight backbone.

“It is a bridge that has still not been mended with my family, they know that I have written the book, but no one has mentioned it”.

Rhonda says that she wasn’t particularly worried about what her biological family would say about the book. She tells me that the emotional heartache and life changing choices she has had, in her life have made her the thick-skinned woman that she is.

“I have had a few people that I know, but didn’t know my story tell me how brave I am to write this book. I feel proud that I was brave enough to do it”.

Rhonda embraces life fully, and doesn’t second guess trying new and at times confronting experiences. She feels that as long as she has her husband and her daughter by her side she can accomplish anything.

“I tell people to live their own life, if you don’t like how you were raised don’t live it, who cares if you cause waves. Live your life”.

This interview experience has motivated me. As I replay the recorded interview, and listen again to this woman’s words. My fingers itch to tap away on a keyboard, my heart and mind are not caring about grammar or if people will like my writing. I have a need to get stories and experiences on paper in a raw and emotional way. The mechanics can be fixed later and if there is no applause that is ok as well.  

 

 

Pretty Knickers and preparation

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After the initial pounding of my heart and hysterical laughter, at me being chosen for the boudoir model shoot, my emotions swung from:

Excitement about, wearing pretty knickers, getting hair and makeup done and feel all girly.  To freaking the hell out that I have answered an ad on Instagram. I am meeting a stranger in a hotel room in the middle of Brisbane, and what if it is some dodgy set up.

 

I started with a bit of research:

What is the definition of Boudoir:

“Boudoir” is a French word meaning a lady’s private dressing room or bedroom. In photography, boudoir refers to a style in which women pose for photographs partially clothed or in lingerie.

Boudoir photography

An intimate photo of a man or women, suggestively covered but not fully nude, meant to tease the senses.

 

Well I know the literal meaning, so what about examples.

I made a rookie mistake, and went on Instagram and searched # tags for boudoir and boudoir photography. Of course all the women looked like Victoria secret models (I shut down that search quickly).

Pouring a generous glass of wine I settled in to do some online shopping for lingerie.   What an eye opening and kinda creepy shopping experience. It is completely different buying lingerie when you know you are going to be photographed.  I mean have you ever really taken any notice of how small knickers are? I hadn’t until I knew that someone with a camera, that I had never meet was going to take pictures of all that skin. After looking at far too many women in almost nothing. I purchased what was described as a “lace bikini” and a pair of black lace knickers. Let me tell you, the online seller needs to work on their descriptions. Thank fully I did not spend a fortune and the shipping was free. Because the “lace bikini” that I thought I would be comfortable in, because I wear bikini’s to the beach. Turned out to be a barely there lace G-string (the string at the back is the equivalent to tooth floss) and the bikini top has slits from top to bottom so your nipples are on full display. Now the black lace knickers have gorgeous black lace at the front, again tooth floss at the back and the real kicker is they are crotch less – yes CROTCH LESS, not even sure how you design or make a crotch less G-string. These are now shoved in the back of my knickers draw, not much to them so they aren’t taking up room. (These were NOT worn at the shoot).

I am a sucker for pretty lacy confections with bows, and flowers, and ribbon. I have tiny boobs, so bras for me are like decoration, no support really needed. I had planned to go lingerie shopping on my own, especially after my hilariously disastrous online shopping experience. Of course on the day that I decided to equip my kids with back to school items for 2016, Target would happen to have a sale on the exact attire I was looking for. My poor darlings waited patiently on a chair outside the waiting rooms while I tried lace, ribbons, and bows on.

After my successful shopping, I spoke to Marina on the phone. Her gorgeous German accent, her open, calming, friendly, and professional manner all made me feel at ease. We chatted about why I was chosen – (my email connected with her, she was looking for someone that had not done this before and was looking for a new experience). She was put off by the women that assumed that they would be chosen because they had boudoir experience. We spoke about why I wanted to do this – I explained to her that it had never even crossed my mind to seek out this type of experience. That for a busy mumma it seemed like a luxury.  My main point though was that being constantly surround by active, sporty, boys, it would be indulgent and luxurious to have an afternoon where I am the main focus, being spoiled with hair and make-up and wearing pretty lacy things.

The prep for this mostly naked nerve wracking experience was:

Not only did I buy a new wardrobe, I miraculously scored an appointment with my hairdresser, and practised yoga twice a day for the 2 weeks leading up to the shoot.

I was also trying to follow Marina’s instructions:

Plenty of water (more coffee than water)

Lots of sleep (This was the week that I worked the most that I have in months, kids were going back to school, not much sleep)

No tanning (After spending 16 days in Byron Bay, I had a killer tan)

Pamper yourself – go and get a manicure/pedicure.  (Work and kids back to school – no relaxing mani/pedi. I slapped on two coats of nude nail polish after shaving armpits to ankles, the morning of the shoot.)

Janis Joplin

I don’t find this woman particularly inspiring, I find her an interesting woman who lived in a time of great change for women.

The 1960s were a decade of revolution and change in politics, music and society. It was an era of protest. The civil rights movement had people protesting about the rights of different races. Female activists demanded more rights for women, women’s roles in society was beginning to change. Women were able to plan careers and have families when they wanted, this was the result of the pill and contraceptives being introduced.

In a post war period people all over the world started working hard and respecting the values they were brought up with. It was an era of recovery and rebuilding. During the 1960s young people started questioning such values. They protested against society and everything that was mainstream.

Social change was also reflected in the music of the decade.

The first female rock superstar and the voice of a generation, along with Jimi Hendrix was discovered at the Monterey pop festival.

She was raised in a Texas oil refinery town called Port Arthur, the eldest of three daughters raised by middle class professional parents who provided a stable, pleasant home. Her school life was the opposite she was bullied as an adolescent for wearing jeans and men’s shirts, this woman endured being called sheep and pig and voted “ugliest man” in a school awards night.

This woman veered from manic highs to depressing lows, she grasped every piece of life by the horns and tried to make it hers. This woman was insecure in herself and tried to hide behind a flamboyant exterior. She was intelligent, captivating, perceptive and expressive she had all of these wonderful qualities but would never feel anything but worthlessness. This was expressed in her destructive behaviour of extreme drug use, her signature accessory of a bottle of southern comfort and her unsafe sex experimenting with a rotating stream of men and women. All of this her family struggled to understand.

She dropped out of college and hitchhiked to San-Francisco to play at the Monterey pop festival. Where she was discovered as a musician.

This was the time of the great hippie movement. Haight-Ashbury hippie precinct that housed hippies who embraced drug use, free sex and the hippie lifestyle. Mainstream America was appalled by this lifestyle. These were lifestyle experiments, a concert called the Human Be-In was organised, and they offered free turkey sandwiches laced with LSD to the thirty thousand attendants. This experiment initially was a success but buy the end of 1967 hippie numbers had exploded and the city was suffering. The organiser’s begged “hippies” to go home.

At this point she was living on the streets as a slave to hash, amphetamines, cocaine and heroin. She neglected her music career in favour of the elusive high, she then turned to dealing in New York as a way to survive. She meet a fellow speed addict who promised to marry her and then realised she was ruining her life. This woman after her first failed attempt at fame, packed up her destructive life and headed back to Texas where she tried her hand at baking and secretarial skills, while waiting for her speed addict fiancée to come and marry her.

She was so afraid her music would ruin her again after kicking her habit and never seeing her fiancée again, that she would only sing in coffee houses. After a lot of persuasion by music industry leaders she headed back to San Francisco where her raw, loud and wild voice took her to extreme highs. She fell back into bed with women mostly, but was still looking for the man of her dreams. She also embraced her true lover’s heroin and cocaine. She was uncooperative with journalists and photographers and was known for being very real and wouldn’t put up with bullshit.

This woman played all the major rock concerts of the time including Woodstock, she also sang with the Rolling Stones at Madison Square gardens.

She had a special relationship with the Hells Angels and saw them as romantic figures who loved drugs and hated authority.

The last band that she played with was Full Tilt Boogie who she recorded “Pearl” with, the album would go on to be number one on the charts for fourteen weeks. This was 1970 and she was having the time of her life, creating the music that she loved, and was clean of heroin for 6 months.

After an argument with her mother and being told “I wish you hadn’t been born”, a physical fight with Jim Morrison from The Doors, and reconnecting with an old friend who was a heroin addict. Janice Joplin at the age of 27 was found cold and blue on her Hotel floor after a heroin overdose.

I think that for the time Joplin’s life course was extreme and while there was women experimenting in the hippie and feminist movements, it was at a much more sedate pace than Janice Joplin. She was an extremely unhappy woman in herself who tried to fix these problems with external sources. She was never going to be able to settle down in to married life with children and a mortgage.

 

People at the bakery.

I spent time today just sitting. Sitting outside on a long wooden bench seat at Suffolk Park bakery. Taking delight in a caramel latte, dressed in cut off denim shorts, a bikini top, and a chiffon kimono top (I would NEVER dress like this to go the bakery at home).

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My attire to go shopping at the bakery.

Suffolk Park is about 6km from Byron Bay. Byron is Australia’s most easterly point, so is the first place to see the sun rise. Byron is a laid back beach lifestyle with a village atmosphere and a lively local culture. Byron has the best of Australian settings including sunny subtropical climate, white sandy beaches, leading to turquoise ocean and is hugged by lush countryside and tropical hinterland. With these gorgeous conditions it is no wonder that the year ending September 2015 there was 217,100 overnight visitors to this region. With 63.9% of these visitors being between the ages of 15 and 29 and spending $105 million in overnight accommodation, with 29.2% of this money going to backpacker accommodation.

 

It seemed this arvo when I went to buy a couple of staples at the bakery the 217,000 international visitors congregated to the Suffolk Park bakery. As I was enjoying my coffee, there was a couple in their twenties, adorned in beach ware (both unquestionably blessed with beautiful genes.) sitting a little way down the bench seat eating sugary treats, the girl was trying to steal bites of partners little delicacy, he was shoving her own cream puff in her face. I don’t speak French, but the way these two were speaking it sound so romantic, (he was probably telling her to bugger off). There was a mother and small child (the mother dressed in an elegant flowing white dress and her little brown berry baby only in a cloth nappy) sitting next to me speaking, mmmm I am not sure maybe Dutch. He kept on pointing at the glass cabinet with an abundance of cream and pastry on the shelves. Being a kindred spirit in the Mumma fraternity, I think she was probably telling the little guy no. At one point a bashed up car jumped the gutter, the driver trying to park in between two other parked cars, and he clearly had zero driving skills if the scratches, and dents are any indication. They had there surfboard hanging out the back window, the car was absolutely full of bags, towels and oh god who knows what else. The passenger jumped from the car in board shorts that had seen better days and nothing else, in long strides to the pie cabinet, all the while (I think) yelling obscenities in Japanese to his kamikaze driving friend. All of this human hilarity was happening with the sounds of an Aussie baker belting out, Pinks – Raise your glass. I sat on that bench seat feeling grateful and proud to be living in such a fabulous country. A place where international visitors crave to visit. Creating a real melting pot of wonderful people, cultures and experiences for not only international visitors but also locals. Of course being summer in Australia, I got to my car where I blasted the air-conditioning, because the steering wheel was so hot I couldn’t touch it, and the seat belt burnt my bare belly (teach me for wearing a bikini top to the bakery).

I wonderful thought for this time of year: We are all different and that’s beautiful. x

Getting naked.

Ok,  there is one beach activity that I am finding fascinating while on holidays. Every day we walk over the headland to a lookout, to the right of the lookout is a gorgeous little cove that is called Kings Beach. Kings Beach is a nude beach/ clothes optional/ au naturel beach – whatever you want to call it, everyone over there is starkers.

Yesterday when we walked over the headland we passed my favourite spot, which is piece of grass covered land that is on the side of the cliff, it has tiny wooden stairs and it is the most divine place to sit and watch the power of the ocean. When passed there yesterday, a couple were making out on the side of the hill NAKED, they were covered in what looked like clay or mud NAKED and making out. My husband was mortified- “oh shit, don’t think they should be doing that” he almost screeched in my ear. Another couple walking behind us, who were about the same age as us, “oh Jesus, that’s not cool”, the guy says, as his partner has a giggle. My husband and I kept walking and headed down to the beach for a quick swim, while we were in the water, the naked couple went walking passed still naked, still covered in mud. They were having a wonderful, carefree walk along the beach, the girl was laughing and throwing her head back walking with the utmost confidence. The guy was completely at ease with walking along a public beach where everyone is clothed, at one point he did a handstand – yep naked, covered in mud handstand. The clothes optional theme continued today on the family beach where everyone wears clothes. My husband and my friend’s husband went to the beach this afternoon and came across a group of naked girls and a couple of them were doing naked yoga, child’s pose and downward facing dog – NAKED, uuummm can you imagine the visual the boys got.

An article written by Leah McLennan, was interesting to read as part of my research into why people go nude on the beach. She made some great points about Australians being more open and liberal in their attitudes to what to wear to the beach. This was compared to, up tight Americans who originate mostly from religious fanatics who left Europe hundreds of years ago because it was too liberal and the thought that nudity is sexual and sex is a sin according to the Puritans. She talks about the Greeks and Romans and their comfortable stance on nudity especially in the arts. She goes on to say, that public nudity the like of what is seen in Europe is a way for women especially to reclaim their bodies, and to develop a healthier attitude away from the “perfect” body images that are splashed all over the media.

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Reasons that people may go nude have at times been given:

  • Ecological or environmental – rapport with the natural world.
  • Health reasons — bathing in the sun, fresh air and water .Sun is a form of medicine.
  • Rapport with other humans — equality and respect. Being nude in groups makes all feel more accepted – physically, intellectually and emotionally.
  • Spirituality
  • Equality- clothes build social barriers. Social nudity leads to acceptance in spite of differences in age, body shape, fitness, and health.
  • Liberty – no one has the right to tell others or their children that they must wear clothes.

 

As part of my research for the blog, I sun baked topless up one end of the deserted beach. I wasn’t uncomfortable but I wouldn’t go swimming or walking around on a public beach topless. After reading a few articles and the reasons and etiquette of going nude, (no cameras, no staring, no sexual comments, making sure that the beach is unquestionably a nude beach before stripping). I think if you have the confidence and the desire to get your gear off at the beach more power to ya.

 

 

Review of Womankind

Here is my review of Australian Womankind magazine. At first when I picked up the magazine, the first thing that I noticed was the beautiful images. As I mentioned in my last post it takes a lot for me to part with $14.95 for a mag, so I wasn’t just looking for pretty pictures to keep me engaged. On my first flick through I found an interview. I LOVE the movie Under the Tuscan sun (the little old man that places bouquets of flowers in the wall is a darling, and he waves to her in the end. Oh I loved that). This interview is with Frances Mayes, the woman that dug up her American roots and set off to a new life in a foreign country. Can you imagine doing such a daunting, brave thing? Anyway I am rambling. This interview is what made my buy the magazine. It was not just the interview but three little words at the bottom of page 97. I seem to be drawn to similar Italian phrases at the moment. Dolce far niente – Sweet to do nothing. (This is also in another one of my blogs about Luca Spaghetti, Elizabeth Gilberts friend.)

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The concept of time, how to savour it, how to appreciate it and what we do with it, is the thread that holds this edition of the quarterly magazine together. The other articles that I immersed myself in today where; Time waits for no one, by Antonia Case. – I loved one part of it that says “Time is a great equaliser, it doesn’t stop for us, and it doesn’t stop for the rich, famous, or so-called legendary.”

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A piece of 15th century art was the focus of another interesting article. This particular piece was thought to be a sawn off lower part of a much larger piece of work painted by Vittore Carpaccio. The piece that was studied for the article was a an image of two women waiting on a balcony – titled “Courtesans on a balcony”, the symbolism in this painting, the fashion and the facial expressions had art critics thinking that this painting depicted high-class prostitutes waiting for clients. However when the top half of the piece was discovered, the exact opposite was thought of these women. This article crafted by Cate Kennedy, I found was full of layers, it spoke of art, history, and limited views on how women are perceived in society.

The last article that I had time to read today was “The house your brain built”, by Jessa Gamble. This piece in essence talks about architecture as a mood altering drug. I love when she said ” Awe is just one of the myriad emotions that architects try to elicit through planning out spaces within a structure and in the process charting and moulding the interior territory – manipulating, in other words our brains and feelings”.

The contributors for this edition of the magazine were 11 women and these women are accomplished writers. For example Cate Kennedy, the chicky who wrote about the art piece with high-class prostitutes, is the author of The World Beneath, which won the people’s choice award in the NSW premiers literary awards in 2010.

There is also a section at the back of the mag, where books and documentaries are reviewed. The “What’s on” section features information on exhibitions around Australia in Capital city art galleries eg GOMA – Brisbane, National Gallery of Australia, Sydney Opera House. The mag also runs a photography competition for amateurs and professionals alike, with their work being published in the next issue and $500.

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As I chatted about in my last post, this is a gorgeous magazine with no ads, no gossip, and no images of air brushed women. This is full of inspiring, thought provoking articles, abundant gorgeous images, information on cultural events and interesting books. Well worth the money.

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School holidays tomorrow

End of school for another year. THANK god. I am extremely excited to not have to do school lunches, iron uniforms, and battle the ridiculous school traffic for the next seven weeks. I am over the moon that I don’t have to even try and attempt to help with year 8 homework (especially algebra) and battle with my other kid over a book review (especially seen as this kids HATES reading).

Our school celebrates end of year and summer holidays with a school disco on the eve of the last day. What a hoot it was tonight. It was kinda like being one of the cool/rebellious kids at school. Paid for our kids at the front door and dropped them off to have a fabulous time dancing up a storm. While we found a café area out the back where the music was just the perfect background noise to our conversation over pizza and wine.

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I am seriously the worst school Mum, honestly. While I was sitting drinking my red wine tonight at the primary school disco, I was watching the awesome hard working, incredibly organised volunteer mums who run the p and f for our school. What wonderful, dedicated women who do a fabulous job, they had the canteen running smoothly, they were spray painting kids hair for crazy hair night, they had an orderly line up at the front door taking the money for cover charge, the DJ was great and kept all the kids entertained and engaged for 3 hours.

A massive shout out to these awesome women, who are fabulous examples to their kids showing support to the school and how to actively participate and be involved in the school community.

I did a bit of research on how else to help out around the school:

Help the teacher with mundane tasks that frees up their time eg: sharpening pencils, helping to organise supplies or the classroom environment.

Volunteering for in class activities, not only helps the teacher, but your child gets to see you being actively involved, and it also helps you to see what is happening in the classroom and how your child is going.

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School reading and library help

Help out on sports days and swimming carnivals.

Volunteering not only helps the school it also connects you to others, it increases your friends and contacts your social and relationship skills

  • Volunteering increases self-confidence. Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.
  • Volunteering provides a sense of purpose.
  • Volunteering combats depression.
  • Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy.

What about some interesting stats on volunteering from the Australian Bureau of Statistics

People with a child aged less than 15 years were the most likely to volunteer regularly (29% of people in couple relationships and 27% of lone parents).

Women who volunteered regularly spread their time between sporting organisations (26% of female volunteers), education and training organisations (26% of female volunteers),

Among regular volunteers, over half of women (55%) participate in food preparation and sales activities.

There we go a bit of food for thought for the school holidays. Happy holidays everyone. I wish everyone love, and a happy, safe, and sane holiday.

Lets experience each other.

I follow theartidote on Instagram.  One of the posts from this week started like this:

“I hope you meet someone who wants to experience you and not just see you by their eyes.”

Another excerpt was:

Someone who wants to experience you like a masterpiece: Whenever we observe a masterpiece, we get the urge to touch it – and most of the time we do, involuntarily, because it is so perfect that we not only want to see it with out eyes and forget its details later on. Because I read somewhere that every time you recall a memory, your brain edits it bit by bit. – James Boyle.

Isn’t this just a divine piece of writing, and thought provoking?

Imagine the immeasurable possibilities for pure love and acceptance if people “experienced each other”, no judgement, no forced opinions.

 

The tattoo no one knew about.

30th November my last day of 30 days of blogging.

I really didn’t have faith in myself on 1st November that I would actually make the 30 days. I am so glad that I did though, it has been a fun but confronting and scary challenge for me. I have found it incredibly nerve wracking to post my writing on a public page and let others read it. I have had hundreds of likes on my page and I have gained 44 followers in one month of writing. I have had fun learning about blogging, I have read some really fabulous posts from other bloggers in the challenge, and I have revealed little bits about me On my last day of daily blogging, (maybe, I haven’t really decided if I will continue to blog daily, weekly, monthly or ever again) I thought I would tell a little, very personal story about me.

My poor heart is pounding out of my chest and my fingers are shaking and I keep missing the keys while I am writing this. There is maybe a handful of people that know about this and really only one other person that knows most of the story and I wasn’t going to tell anyone else until it was finished, but this seems like a good time and place.

Just over 1 year ago, I made contact with a lady and asked her to help me with something that she specialises in, we talked and communicated with each other for a few weeks mostly on Facebook. She set up everything that was needed and I went and spent 4 hours with her one afternoon. I hadn’t even told my husband about this appointment. He called me just to say hi and have a chat on the morning of my appointment and he knew straight away that something was going on with me. He was flying in the next day and me in my stupidity thought I would talk to him then. That didn’t happen and in my nervous chatter told him what was happening that day, he was shocked speechless and told me about one thousand times to text him or call him to let him know what was happening.

For me it was a surreal experience, I walked into where I had to meet the lady, I wasn’t nervous, or scared, and I had this weird calmness about me.

She got me all set up and I was lying face up on a massage table, staring at the ceiling that needed painting and a fan that needed cleaning. Just as I was starting to get a bit nervous, my phone beeped with a text, it was a girlfriend that I had called and asked her to meet me here in my freak out as I drove to the appointment. She was texting to say that she couldn’t make it – I was actually glad and was relieved to be doing this on my own. I felt incredibly rude texting while lying on the table and apologised to the lady, she laughed told me to do what I want, listen to music, text, call people whatever.

There is no way in the world that I could have talked, texted or listened to music, while this lady scratched away at my skin with her tattoo gun. YES. That is right I have a big ol’ tattoo across my left side. A big one. I thought long and hard and there was A LOT of Pinterest pictures involved in how I wanted it to look. It is the birth flowers of my husband, my two sons, my mum and my dad, I have 3 butterflies that represent me and my two sisters, I have a hidden tea cup (representing my friends), a stack of books (I love books, learning and a good story), and lady doing a tree pose in yoga (I love yoga) (kinda where’s wally style, you have to stare at the tattoo to find them).

 

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Let me tell you about the place I went to and the experience of getting a tatt.

The lady that did it was a kind, gentle and truly lovely lady, with great skill. She was COVERED head to toe in tatts (she really was, she had them on her face and she told me the first one she ever got was when she was 15 and it is on her bum). When I walked into this place, I nearly laughed out loud at the absurdity of me being in a place that was quiet obviously a biker tatt shop, seriously, the dude on the front counter had about 3 phones that he was using and only one of them looked legit, I am positive the rest were throw a ways. He was polite enough offered me a drink, seat, a smoke. (I mean it was hilarious, me the straighty one eighty school mum, that has never tried a cigarette, only drinks occasionally, has had the same guy since I was 18, and gets stressed if we don’t eat dinner by 6pm).

There was me in the shop, the same time I was getting prepped to get my HUGE tattoo, there was a football player on the table next to me getting a deer head tattooed on his foot. (This guy must have been a front rower because he was HUGE, and he yelled and cried out for the tattoo dude to stop every 5 minutes. He was there nearly as long as I was. At one point the tattoo dude, stopped what he was doing pointed at me with his tattoo gun, in my trance like state, staring at the ceiling and said “look at this petite, little, tiny, chick she hasn’t fuckin moved or stopped once, and you, you big brute are being a baby, man the fuck up.) There also seemed to be a constant stream of walk-ins, at one stage there was two eighteen year old girls came into to get best friend tattoos (that seems like bad karma to me).

I found it a bizarre experience, I was on my back most of the time and a one stage I was on my belly for a little while. I apologised profusely to the lady that I hadn’t been chatting to her. I was in the kind of daze where I literally just stared at the ceiling, my feet or glared at the baby footballers head, willing him to shut up. I was there for four hours straight, the scraping and scratching of the gun I found quiet soothing ( I was definitely in one of my darker places, and when I am feeling this way I seem to go a bit numb. This has increased since we have done fifo, I think I go a bit numb with emotions when my husband is away so much, because it is a bit of coping mechanism.) So to actually have no choice but to feel, felt like a release. The buzzing and vibrating over the bottom section of my ribs made me want to vomit and towards the end when she was shading and going over and over the same spot, I felt like I had really bad sunburn and someone was scratching the needles directly onto the burn. Just before she finished, the baby footballer limped passed me, gave me a high five and told me I was one tough chick. When she did finish, I felt high and quiet alert and my nerves seemed to be heightened, I could see how people get addicted to the feeling.

After I got the tat, I expected to have a feeling of wanting to show it off to everyone. But in fact I have almost guarded it and protected it and kept it very private. There is only a few people know that I have got it and that includes my husband and children. It is not finished yet, I still have to get the colour done, and I expect that it will be even more special to me when that is done.

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Merry Christmas

20151128_200641.jpgSaturday 28th November.

Merry Christmas, yes today my side of the family celebrated Christmas. We won’t all be together for the 25th December 2015, and this weekend was the only weekend that we were all going to be in the same vicinity, (except my sister who had to drive 6hrs to be with us).

Everyone knows of the pressure around Christmas with families and everyone coming together for one day that is supposed to be this perfect day of family time filled with family, food, and presents. There is usually the family member that can’t make it or is late ( which annoys everyone cause then lunch is late) or the family that has that one drunk auntie or uncle that decides that Jesus birthday is the perfect day to drink too much alcohol and tell the rest of the family what they think of them, or the family that has the bratty kids and the kids don’t eat duck or trifle or are far too interested in their new screen of some sort so they stay with their head buried in the device for the day. Today for our family there was no expectation, none of the usual Christmas hype and pressure of a magical day, full of perfect family moments that then fall short of what you aspired to for the day.

But I feel that is what we had, a magical time full of perfect family moments. Can I say that everyone should celebrate Jesus birthday whenever the hell they want. We had a dinner full of laughter, cuddles with babies, kids laughing and playing, cricket on the tv, amazing conversation and catching up with everyone, learning family stories and who we have come from including my Grandma telling the story of how her and my Papa meet, scrumptious Christmas food, champagne, lots of family, decorating the tree. This was the very best version of Christmas.

 

 

Todays people

It made me think of my husband’s Pa. This was one of his favourite quotes. He was a wise old farmer, who had lived and worked on the land all of his life, he was blessed with a large family of 8 kids. My husband’s favourite childhood memories are from spending time at the farm and Evans Head with his Nanna and Pa.  From riding on tractors, to swimming in creeks, selling water melons on the side of the road, eating wild rabbits, home grown chooks, and ducks.  I remember going to the farm many times and enjoying a chat with Pa over a cuppa tea, and a milk arrowroot bickie. He was always nice to me.  I remember when I first meet him and we were leaving to drive the 3hrs back to Brisbane, he patted my shoulder and looked me in the eye and said “you’re a good girl” (I think he was glad that Scott had taken me to meet them).  Another time when we took our first born to the farm for the first time, I went and sat in the lounge room to breastfeed my boy, and when I came back outside to where everyone else was sitting, he very quietly said “never hide away to feed your child you are doing the most important job in the world”. I also remember at his funeral, when a few of us from his family of over 80 people were sitting around reflecting and talking about memories of Pa, this quote kept coming up time and again for what words of wisdom Pa would be remembered for.
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White Ribbon Day

 

All women live in safety free from all forms of men’s violence. – This is the vision for Originating in Canada in 1991, the all-male led initiative aims to end male violence against women. November 25 – White Ribbon day is the start of 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence against Women, which ends on Human Rights Day (December 10). Awareness for this cause and primary prevention initiative involves education programs thru schools, workplaces and the broader community.

As a Mumma of two gorgeous boys I wanted to talk about this issue and what I am hopefully doing for future generations of women.

I am trying to give my boys a fabulous education, education is so important, in keeping minds open. I encourage team sports ( yes I am spending my 30’s at copious amount of cricket but that’s ok)

I have always taught my boys to use manners – (NOTHING happens in our house without please and thank you).

I am very honest with the boys – (sometimes to  a extreme, and I have always told them it hurts your heart most when you don’t tell the truth)

The boys have always been asked to help around the house and with Scott away working, it’s important that the boys pull their weight. I had this conversation at a coffee shop with another Mum a few weeks ago, I think she thinks I am running a slave camp.

The boy’s jobs are:

Make bed and clean room

Take out bins

Feed dog and chooks

Set table

ALWAYS put dirty washing in the washing basket (yes one of my sons has gone to school in a dirty uniform because he didn’t put it in the wash, and was having a particularly bad day and yelled to me “you’re the mother why can’t you pick it up”, hence going to school in a dirty uniform. He has never done that again.)

And helping out if asked.

Eg carrying groceries, opening the doors. etc

I am trying to show them that we all live here, we all need to help. Just because I am the Mumma, I am not a slave.

I want to show the boys that women do contribute and not just in doing house work. I have always worked since having had children (mostly part-time), but that is fine I want the boys to see and respect that women can work, or study, or be a stay at home Mumma. The boys are very fortunate that they have great, strong women role models in their life for all of the above. They have 3 of their Great-Grandmothers still alive, both of their Grandmothers, 4 aunties, and we have an abundance of wonderful female friends.

The boys have always been taught to always kiss the women in their life hello and goodbye, always tell these same women I love you before parting ways. (I may have used a scare tac-tic on another particular day when there had been a fiery argument and there was no lovin’ or kissin’ going on. I may have said, “what if one of us dies and never see each other again, we must always part-ways with a kiss and an I love you”. It worked even now at the drop off area of the high school I always get a kiss and an I love you, sometimes it is thru clenched teeth for both of us but always happens.) We always every single night, say goodnight and love you. I still tuck the boys in every single night, and every single night, they yell out – usually after I have made my cuppa tea and just want peace and quiet. Love you Mum, Love you Dad (yes even when he is not here), Love you Tom, Love you Jack, Love you Bully (the dog).

They have heard over the years their father tell me that, “I look beautiful today” or “you look pretty today babe”. YES they say it and it completely melts my heart. I always return the favour, my thing with them is to grab them by the face and say “I love your face”.

I have from the moment my boys were toddlers, been active in teaching my boys manners, respect, acceptance, and patience. (Bloody hell I sound like the perfect mother). Trust me when I say that there has definitely been some throw down, drag em out fights and arguments when absolutely none of the above have applied. HOWEVER when all is calm again and I try and educate them on being a good human. I TRY and get the point across that there will always be arguments here or there because, well their just will be. But don’t say mean things or cruel names because like Pearl Jam sang about “Once something is said it can’t be taken back”.

This role of Mumma to two boys, is a bloody tough gig, and it would be much easier and a lot less stressful to have free – range kids. BUT hopefully all of this hard work and being a conscious Mumma will pay off and there will be no need for White Ribbon day.

be kind

 

Getting to work like a lady

Worked today. Being conscious of my skinny fat situation, I parked in the furthest car park from the office that I have access to (so NOT me, I usually seek out the car park closest to the door – hence skinny fat). Dressed in my work uniform of synthetic top, charcoal tailored knee length skirt that is lined, $13 a pair stockings that make anyone’s legs look like a supermodels and my high heel work shoes, I set off on the walk from the car park to the office. Summer is making it self-known the last few days and today is no different. I pace across the car park at a speed faster than usual – because it’s hot and I want air-con and a coffee. Get to the base of the first hill and already my shirt is sticking to my back and the stockings are making themselves known.
There is a couple of nurses in front of me taking up the whole path and I don’t know if it’s the heat or that they are in no hurry, but they couldn’t walk any slower if they tried. I can’t go around cause there is more people coming in the other direction and we will not all fit. Getting annoyed with the two slow pokes, I go to step on to the road and overtake them, just as a lights and sirens Ambulance comes flying around the corner. That was a nice wake up call at 8.30am. Slow poke 1 and 2 finally go left as I go right, buy now my makeup is feeling less glamorous than when I left the house and my shirt is sweaty and gross. I take another path that has gorgeous native gardens along the left hand side and a grove of gum trees to walk under. Thank god for the trees and their shade. While I am enjoying a short reprieve from the sun and the heat, I get swooped by a bloody magpie, TWICE. If any of the patients would have looked outside of their windows, they would have laughed their asses off at the crazy lady waving her handbag above her head to get rid of the freaking birds. I mean honestly how hard is it to get to work today!
Just before I cross the road to walk into the building and after the slow pokes up the hill, nearly walking in front of an ambulance and getting swooped by a magpie TWICE, a blue tongue lizard runs across the path in front of me, nearly toppling me over on my high heels in fright. Seriously get me inside the safety of this building. Of course on one of the two days that I work, there is a maintenance crew working on the lifts that deliver me directly outside my office door. I smile at the security lady outside the lift and point, she smiles back and points to the other end of the hospital and says “Sorry Melinda, you will need to take the other ones and then walk back to this end of the hospital”. Oh for god sakes. I turn down a staff entrance and start the climb of 3 flights of stairs in my high heels. When I eventually reach the tea room, I am ready to rip off my sweaty, disgusting shirt, the lining of my skirt is sticking to my now sweaty and uncomfortable stockings that feel like they are suffocating my legs, and high heels are not what you wear when trying to add an extra 3000 steps to your day.
I was extremely tempted this afternoon when I left work, to try and find my inner drunk girl at the races and rip off my stockings and high heels and walk bare feet to the car, taking an alternate route than this morning. Thought better of it though and toughed it out, like a lady.

Lifer

In my first post of the month NaBloPoMo, I wrote about how nervous I was at starting a blog, I was freaking the hell out in case someone read the blog, in case someone didn’t read the blog, I mean gosh what if someone commented or liked it.

In the last 22 days a very minimal amount of people knew that I had started writing. I mean I don’t know how on earth I am going to get another 999,985 people to follow me, so that I can have brands throw their products at me (read about that story here)  when I am such a nervous Nellie about people finding my blog.

My worst fear came last night when a message popped up on the ME blog Facebook account. The private message was from one of my oldest and most cherished friends.  I was putting my phone on charge and saw the message pop up, I dropped  that smart little piece of technology like it was on fire. I think I have a bruise on my ribs from my heart pounding on them so hard.  I had a million questions running through my panicked head. First one was – How did she find it, second one was what does she think.

I have known this gorgeous woman since we were 13.  She was my very best friend, from the moment I meet her in our year 9 form class. So many funny memories with this gorgeous chick. I cheated off her in a Japanese exam and I got the better mark, she tried to teach me how to use roller blades and I took every bit of skin off my knees, we watched Maverick and Goose fly the skies in fighter jets hundreds of times, most Friday nights we would get all dressed up in our finery and hit the local under-age blue light disco, I remember getting what felt like 3rd degree sunburn after a Sunday of jet skiing, I went into mourning the day she told me she was leaving school,I had a huge argument with a nurse on the maternity ward where she had her first born, because the Nazi like Florence Nightingale wouldn’t let me in to see my bestie 5 minutes early. I remember many trips out and about in her first car which was a little light blue Toyota Corolla. She was a surprise guest at my wedding and can’t even describe how ecstatic I was that she was able to be there.   This lady is one of those types of friends that no matter if it has been 2 months or 2 days since we have seen each other, we pick up where we left off. We have this cool connection, where we will text each other at the same time, or suggest coffee or wine or catch up on the same day.

I love the saying that people are in your life for a reason, a season or your life.  She is a lifer.

So when I saw her message on my phone I freaked, I went to bed without reading the message because I was to nervous. This is what I found on the message, this morning when I read through nervous but happy tears .

I spied a blog that somebody has been keeping quite. I am so envious. Have been wanting to start one for so long but I am scared….as you know I always have so much to say but people will think I am nuts. Plus I have no idea how to start one. I am so god damn proud of you. I love you xxx

I love you too xx

I love, love, love the featured image. Made us both smile one day x

saggy boobs

Todays people

Person one from today.

A homeless guy was brought into work today, he didn’t want to be there, he wanted to be discharged, go find his friends and drink some metho. He was brought in because he was found unconscious on the floor of a toilet in a local shopping centre. He said he was fine, he has no intention of detoxing and pretty much wants to be left alone. He couldn’t remember the last time he had a shower, he thought maybe 12 months, he wasn’t bothered. The smell coming off this man combined with the lice, open sores, grime and dirt was literally making the rest of us want to be sick. He told the lady looking after him, that he couldn’t understand why his daughter wouldn’t let him see her newborn baby.

 

Person two from today.

I worked today, my youngest boy played cricket, and while he was there meet a young intellectually impaired boy. My youngest thought he was about 14 or 15, he had been in a major car accident, acquired brain damage and lost his mum. He was hanging out with my boys, throwing and hitting the cricket ball for a while and having a chat. He told my boys that he used to be a great cricketer, until his mum died. My youngest boy showed me a waving motion that this boy makes in front of his closed eyes, he said it makes his mum appear in his mind. My boy said to me “I hate that this boys Mum died, he misses her so much, and he talked about his mum the whole time he was playing with us. I don’t think he will get over that mum.” (no I don’t think he will).

Blogging and feeling like the ugly kid

 

 

Today I melted my brain on an assignment, for the unit I am studying at the moment Engaging Media via Curtin Uni.

It was based heavily on blogging…….

I am participating in theNaBloPoMo.

I have also signed up to the blogging course Ready, Set Blog with Kate from Secret Bloggers Business, so I am drowning up to my eye balls in everything to do with blogs.

I thought that when I started this 30 days of writing blog posts that I would be stuck for ideas, but so far the ideas are rushing at me and I am finding I am having to shelve a few ideas for now.

I have become a bit of a tragic when it comes to learning about links, SEO, tags, and stats (love the stats, I get excited when I see how many people have viewed my writing.)

One of Kate’s tasks for this week was to find blogs that you like or that you were inspired by, to see what they are up to and how the blog is set up.

I have found this really intimidating Kate. Some of the blogs that I have looked at are:

Michelle Carden

A few good women

The gratitude project

Barefoot blonde

The writing, the professional setup, and images on these blogs is freaking gorgeous!!!!! Makes this new blogger feel like the ugly, new kid in high school, compared to the gorgeous popular girls.

I also stalked there Instagram accounts, talk about blown away with the images, branding and the amount of followers some of these women have. (barefootblonde 1 MILLION, 1 MILLION followers), I find it absolutely fascinating that 1 million people follow one person. Can you imagine every image you post 1 MILLION people see it, this woman must seriously have brands throwing their products at her. I would love to get to sit down with a wine or a coffee and chat to this woman.

In the 20 days that I have been doing this blog challenge, 15 gorgeous people have started following my blog, 999,985 to go before I have brands throwing products at me.

Yoga

Dancer-Yoga-Pose

(One of my favourite poses – this is not me)

Sitting at the red light in traffic, with every other harried Mumma at 8.15am, I glance over at the Bootcamp/PT gym that I drive past every day. Push-ups by 4 fluro covered women is going on in one area, another 4 women in equally bright boy leg shorts are boxing and another couple are running out the door (this is what I would want to do) no I think they are doing laps. This bought me back to my post from earlier in the week about skinny vs fat. These types of gyms, well any gym actually – makes me break out in nervous hives. I guess that is why I am skinny fat. I have however always enjoyed yoga, Birkam yoga, hatha yoga, vinyasa. I love the breathing, the flow of the poses, the stretch, with Bikram I hate the sweat but love the challenge. I enjoy all of these but don’t know much about the benefits. So if I am going to practice yoga as part of my skinny fit challenge I thought I should know if it is helping at all.

 

Bikram yoga – 26 poses, 2 breathing exercise, in a 38 degree rooms, for 90 minutes. This practise is scientifically designed to systemically cleanse and work your whole body, (ahh yeah it is, because from the second you walk into the studio you want to run far, far away). From massaging of organs, to strengthening muscles (yes because twisting and turning and standing on one leg while sweat drips from EVERY single part of your body is a sane persons way of working out), working the cardiovascular system, toning and stretching, most of all it is a mental work out ( yes the feeling of your heart pounding out of your chest and your brain short circuiting is awesome, my first Bikram class I think I laughed and cried most of the time, thank god for the sweat) . Short term benefits are better sleep patterns, more energetic, toned and stretched. Long term more flexibility and less injure prone with a strong mind. (I can give a running commentary on my experience this was my workout of choice for 2 years)

 

Hatha yoga – through breathing, asanas (series of postures) hatha yoga helps to align muscles, skin and bones, it calms body and mind and its spiritual benefits can change your life. Hatha yoga increases strength, flexibility and range of motion. (This is the yoga that I practice when I am feeling frazzled and need to calm down my favourite pose is Camel.)

 

Vinyasa Yoga – Vinyasa can be translated into (arranging something in a special way). So the breathing and yoga poses are a special arrangement, of flowing from one to the other makes for a dynamic work out. Vinyasa is great for building core and upper body strength, improves out posture and helps build and maintain metabolic rate. (I love doing a good, hard vinyasa flow in the mornings to get your heart pumping)

 

 

 

Every family needs a farmer

This picture was posted on Instagram this morning and it inspired this post.

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Early this year 80% of Queensland was declared in drought, with early stages of el Nino meaning drought breaking rain in winter and spring were highly unlikely.

One particular lady always says when I ask if the skies have blessed her property yet. – “We are one day closer to rain.”

I want to talk today about the stewards of the land that contributes to owning, caring and managing 61% of Australia’s land mass. Ninety four percent of these custodians actively use natural resource management. These people live through this el Nino phenomenon, as well floods and fires and are bonded together as communities because of these events that contribute to life on the land.

From what I have experienced as a soft city slicker, life on the land is as unforgiving as the weather and not for the faint hearted. These men and women that raise cattle, grow crops and provide nourishment for their city cousins have chosen this life and what a life.

I have visited this place when the air has been so dry and hot you would think you were baking in an oven, so much so that your lungs burn and I got sun burnt from hanging washing on the line for 5 minutes. Smashing lips together so that you don’t accidentally swallow 1 million flies, wind and red dust sting and burn your eyes if not wearing sunnies. The ground feels baked under your feet and the heat can be seen shimmering just above the ground.

Wind blowing through the 6 layers of clothes that I tried to wiggle into, while lying in the warmth of the bed with flannel sheets, two blankets and a doona, nose and eyes running from the freezing air. See soft city slicker – who is on the long road back to Brisbane after a maximum of 5 days. Despite my little whinge here, I truly treasure the time spent at the end of a dirt road, where the closest corner store is 45 minutes away and the local hospital is over an 1hr away.

Bushies are generous, open and welcoming they make anybody present feel like a close friend, big-hearted in always offering a meal or a drink. Wonderful funny and interesting conversation is always involved when hangin out with this lot. Picture a place where you know all of your neighbours, and these neighbours are kilometers away, but your friends with them. A place where on the day that the Bathurst 1000 is raced you channel the celebrity drivers speed and intensity and race around a fire that’s straight from the depths of hell and 20 of your neighbours and friends help you while it burns hot and ferocious and fire balls claim thousands of acres of your land. Where you buy 8 seater cars so that you can take turns in carpooling to school, swimming, grocery shopping, home from boarding school or Brisbane. A place where your neighbour will call in to drop off your mail, which usually consists of groceries and anything that can be ordered on the internet, and leave hours later after helping you pull a calf from its mother’s womb, or grabs a wine or beer and helps you do the rounds of your property checking water or feeding drought ravaged cattle or doesn’t leave until the roar of the tractor engine finally is music to your ears. A place where after a dust covered day’s work, you load the kids into the back of the 8 seater car and head to the biggest dam in the community where all your neighbours and friends are to share a beer, a swim , go for a ski. A location where mobile service is limited and when you come together with your friends, you actually talk and communicate with each and enjoy the visit.

When the flooding creek traps you on your own little island for days on end with no outside communication, dust covered boats are launched into the flood waters to check on neighbours and friends and make sure everyone is safe and feed. A place where parents are happy to drive hours for their kids to participate in sport and extra-curricular activities. Drive an hour, one Thursday night a month to reach the local book club where a good book, wine and more friends await, one night after having to deal with a cow in the side of your car.

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Now I am only talking about 1 tiny community of the 134,000 farm businesses in Australia, 99 percent of which are family owned and operated, that supply 93% of Australian families food. I have shown a very small slice of the estimated 35,100 women who live on farms and work outside of the home, not to mention the 16,500 women that work exclusively next to their husbands.

I haven’t touched on the fact that farmers with a tertiary degree has increased 6 fold since 1981.

I also failed to talk about the stats that in farming communities there is such a great sense of community that 39% of people in the bush are volunteers compared to their city cousins at 19% and these figures don’t include non-registered volunteering.

While I have portrayed a community that supports each other and is connected, this is not the case in every community. Stats show that agriculture / farm workers are 1.6 times more likely to commit suicide and that there is a farmer every 4 days taking their own lives.

Six hours south west of Brisbane, in the shire of the Maranoa is a fabulous community of people who I have grown to love and respect over the past 11 years that my sister has lived there. I hope that I have shown a small part of their lives justice in this piece.

Instagram likes

 

Yesterday morning, I was on Facebook and found this great article that I blogged about later in the day. This morning I was on Instagram scrolling through stunning images of people on holiday, baby photos, breakfast photos, selfies, memes the list goes on. A little orange heart pops up to tell me that Luca Spaghetti like my photo. Seriously Luca Spaghetti, liked a photo I uploaded to Instagram I kid you not.

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I mean he has been read about in 10 million copies of Eat, Pray, Love by Lizzie Gilbert. Everyone knows Luca.

Luca the Italian tax accountant, the man that will never live anywhere but Rome so he can be near his Mumma (what a good Italian man), Luca the man that is still in love with his childhood sweetheart, the man that took Liz out for a cream puff after his soccer team was defeated one Sunday afternoon, the man that got Liz gilbert to eat newborn lamb intestines, the man that encouraged Liz to become a master of bel far niente, (the beauty of doing nothing). Luca the man that declared his favourite English word is Surrender.

Ok, ok, I may be going over the top a bit here with Luca liking one image on my Instagram account. I mean I didn’t get this excited when I had a photo of Brett Lee at the cricket.

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But seriously, in 2010 when Eat, Pray, Love was released, I read it 3 times in 3 days. I was like all of the other 10 million women that bought the book and made it an instant New York Times bestseller that stayed on the charts for over 200 weeks. I wanted to escape to Italy, practice yoga and meditating in an Ashram, Bali didn’t really appeal to me – but I would have made it work. At the time I was stuck in a big black hole, and the escape that Eat, Pray, Love provided me was priceless. I pre-ordered movie tickets and was in the opening session of the Julie Roberts movie (I love Julia Roberts but the book is always better). I attended a lecture by Elizabeth at the Brisbane Powerhouse, where she cursed like a sailor, inspired motivation comparable to her friend Oprah, was so incredibly authentic and fabulously funny and all the name of provoking people into embracing their own creativity. This woman is one funny, creative and down to earth chick, who is obviously a wonderful person, just going off her book and the people that welcomed her into their lives and loved her on her journey . Luca, Sofie, Giovanni, Richard from Texas, Ketut Liyer and Wayan all my absolute favourite people from the book. And I am still stoked that LUCA liked my post.

 

So thank you Luca, I feel very special. Xx

 

 

Learn something new everyday.

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“Blogging”, lets learn some interesting facts about blogging.

The word “Blog” is a combination of web and log.

Blogging was thought to have started in the early nineties, by an American college student. Initially blogs were a platform that people used as an online diary. That has expanded now and there are some people who are able to make a living out of blogging as professional bloggers. It is thought that some professional bloggers have up to four blog sites.

This seems to make sense as it is thought that in 1999 there were about 23 blogs and know there are about 1.3 billion. WordPress and BlogSpot are the most popular blog sites with about 40% of people preferring WordPress.

Views can increase up to 94% with the use of images on your blog.

Most people read blogs in the morning between 7.00am and 10.00am

People are thought to have more trust, connection, and perceive the business as healthy and thriving if they have a blog.

Approximately a third of bloggers are mums with children under 18.

Over 80% of blogs are written in English.

Blogging has made such an impact on mainstream media, that they acknowledged that blogging and social media is changing the face of news. Richard Sambrook, the director of the BBC Global News Division, spoke at Oxford Social Media Convention, saying that, citizen journalism is something that needs to be taken into account. That this new media is delivered with transparency and that is what builds trust with consumers. He went on to say that news has to be delivered accurately and fairly and that consumers need reliable source of where the information has come from. Journalists are no longer gatekeepers of information but are having to share it in a public space.

Have fun blogging everyone.

Fly out Friday

acceptance

Today was fly out day for us, the end of 7 days of R and R for my husband and back to work for 21 days. We have lived this routine for 2.5 years now. Some fly out days are tough, like crying and lots of emotion tough. Other fly out days aren’t as bad, still hard but, ahh you know its fly out day and we will get through. Today for me was an odd one, I was sad like emotional sad, but also ahh you know its fly out day. It was one of those r and r’s where we were disconnected and living in our own worlds and our own priorities of work, kids, sport, my husband wanting to do his thing on his days off and me just wanting to get through the week and everything that entails. Its ok to have R and R’s like this, it doesn’t happen all the time. But ahhhh you know when it does, I get to fly out day, and look back with some regret, that I didn’t try harder and some indifference, because well it is what it is. Not every time he is home is going to be a fairy tale of fabulous conversation, date days and undying love.

Over the last couple of years, I have seen our relationship morph into different forms continuously. I am not sure if that is an acute observation, because emotions run so high when we are separated for 21 days a month and then try and cram all of that pent up emotion into 7 days or if I am just more observant of our relationship. Either way having a marriage while living the fifo lifestyle can be a roller coaster. I think for me the trick is to acceptance, this is the lifestyle we have for now and to accept the time we have together for what it is. Some days will be off the charts fabulous and other days not so much.

Be kind or be quiet on social media

be kind

This study period via Open Learning University, I am study engaging media through Curtin Uni. The main theme of this unit is participatory culture. I am fascinated to learning about this concept that we are currently living. We are a generation that has the most amazing advantage of having the ability to connect, communicate, contribute and participate in real time with people that are either our family, friends, the media, celebrities or complete strangers.

I love the fact that I can logon to my Facebook, Instagram or blog accounts and see what my friends and family are up to, and be able to comment or like their posts. On the other hand, I am also able to share my life with those that I want to connect with. This positive interaction on social media makes people feel good about themselves and encourages participation.

But, what happens when participants of social media take this connection too far, and feel the need to express unwanted opinions onto others that are sharing their lives and are then targeted with negative, hateful opinions or comments. I recently attended a lecture at the Brisbane Writers Festival by John Ronson where he spoke about his new book so you’ve been publicly shamed. He was fabulously entertaining and spoke about an incredible instance, when a woman wrote a thoughtless post on her own social media account and in turn, because of peoples aggressive comments, ruined her own life, via this participatory culture that we all live in.

Another example of these negative, hurtful, unwanted opinions is a lady that I heard about on the local radio station. This lady gave birth to a baby girl, and a few days later she is “mummy shamed”, on her social media. This shaming happened after a post showing her attending the grand final of rugby league football, supporting her husband who plays for a club in Brisbane, and leaving her baby girl at home with the baby’s grandmother.

Isn’t it interesting that simple manners, courtesy and respect for other humans seems to be forgotten or deemed irrelevant, when people are able to sit at a computer screen and spew their opinions and not to have to face the person that they are attacking.

As I was taught growing up “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.