Tuesday 1 May 2012
I have news for you!
There are NOT 6 degrees of Separation.
There’s really only Separation…and I thought I’d tossed it. Really and truly tossed it.
But I haven’t!
I’m no better at the art of Separation than when I was two and I lost Bunky.
Bunky was a small, brown, felt monkey who endlessly ate a banana and went to bed at my bedtime...on my pillow.
Forget about putting me to bed without him. My 5 year old sister tried it once and tearfully had to explain how she’d ‘helped him a little bit’ to climb into her school bag. Even I was amazed at how quickly our exasperated mother could smell guilt...and resolved to give big sister tips on not letting the monkey out of the bag so easily in future!
Then there was the Separation of the egg yolk from the white.
My Nannna was a whiz at it…one hand!
She didn’t need one of those plastic things with a groove for the yolk and a space for the white to run through. Not Nanna. ‘Crack’ on the bowl, twist of the fingers and before your eyes turned into all-day-suckers, the white was in one bowl and the yolk another.
I lusted after that skill and practised on all her eggs on cooking day. She never seemed to tire of rescuing bits of eggshell from unlikely places and cheered as though Bradman had scored a century when I finally got the hang of it.
After that I thought Separation a cinch. On neighbours’ farms I learnt to Separate the milk from the cream and the sheep from the goats.
At Sunday School I found being ambidextrous a boon when Separating kids in a fight.
I even concentrated on the Separation of Cells in Science - although it must be said - largely because our teacher Mr B. was...well...handsome.
And much, much later I discovered that when all the clothes that weren’t yours, disappeared from your double wardrobe…that meant Separation too.
There has been Separation from generations of reptiles, birds, rodents, cats and dogs…each doing its bit to enhance my love of nature.
Friends have Separated themselves by accident, illness and natural causes…leaving me to grieve and ponder ‘Why them and not me?’
And then there’s Family.
I’m the youngest and now Separated from my Father, Sister, Mother and Brother by the passing of their Time.
Yes…I thought I’d really tossed it…this Separation thing…until tonight.
For you, my daughter have turned and waved so bravely at those wretched Customs Doors.
I’m glad you didn’t see them braking on my heart.
My first-born - tiny, trusting soul. A Mother Lion...I held you in my arms with such protective power...it threatened to extinguish that same life that Love had given you.
A tiny girl, so sweet and sure…a little mother to her siblings three…a kindred spirit…pure delight.
You saw I smiled the widest smile of all…until that spatial silence took you from my view and left me helpless to restrain the pain of salty tears.
But I am blessed…it is not death or parting ways of war. You have the gift of Life and I shall once more see your face…when that Time comes.
Go...use your talents well, my darling child. Comfort and give joy to those who cross your path.
And remember evermore...
I love you.
Thursday 26 April 2012
After a day of reflection for many and overwhelming sadness and memories for others…it’s time to lift our spirits.
I know only one way to do that…but it involves a journey…to a special place.
Come with me…are you game?
I can see you in cyber-space: and even if I don’t yet know your name…I know you’re there.
Come with me; you may see yourself. It won’t be a mere reflection or shadow; it will be the real you. You’ll see lots of other people too – some you’ll recognize; some will be total strangers because they’ll all be real.
I’m taking you to the one place where we don’t have to pretend…anything. We don’t have to impress our in-laws, our kids, our boss, our parents, boyfriend, girlfriend – or anyone for that matter.
It’s a place to re-charge batteries…utilize our strengths...and face our weaknesses. It’s a place just for us – called…
This place has no buildings; there are no roads and therefore no road-signs; no road-rules – and therefore no punishments; the pressures are few; no dogma to follow or avoid; no demands to be the person we were not meant to be; no need to do something for which we have no heart. There is nothing in this place…until we get there!
Some of you come here often and affirm who you are; but it takes courage and some of us have long forgotten or cannot face the pain of trying to remember.
We'll leave shortly…but there's a job to do first...turn around and look back into the far horizon...no...further…see that wall? Look over it. See the box?
That's it. We’re all in there. Can you see yourself?
Our bum’s just been smacked…we’re yelling and gasping for air – and desperate for food. We’re helpless and know nothing except the urge to shriek if we’re not asleep or comfortable.
Of course we’re not comfortable; we’ve just come from our real world into the World of the Human and somehow we know what is meant to unfold…
It’s the purpose of our being.
But the mist comes down on some and it does not always oblige. Can you still see yourself?
We’re all there. We’ve emerged into the World of the Human box where we’ll meet our future, mapped out - not necessarily by us - but by Other Humans.
At first these Other Humans will come from our own tribe as they take us on a journey in Human Time to release us from the box. We’ll progress and meet those from other tribes; some will comfort and protect us; some will smell and come too near; some will give us confidence or fill our hearts with fear; some will be demanding – that we shut up, look serene; and some will be disgusted and ignore we’d ever been.
Some Other Humans will label us – according to their whim.
Awkward and clumsy; selfish or dumb; some will mislead us – giving a false impression of a talent or gift we do not possess while others will laugh and re-direct our obvious abilities as they look the other way.
It is they who do not understand that the most powerful thing one can be…is oneself. It gives us our power. Perhaps they understand all too well…and fear that power.
And as they set about undoing the purpose of our being, we will protest or succumb; we will fight or take fright; we will reason, cajole; we will scheme to avoid their grasp or watch the fading of our dreams.
Which of those did we do?
Ready for the journey? We’ll going to that special place now.
Shut your eyes…hold your courage in your hand…and hang on!
Oops! Sorry about the landing…it’s been a while. But at least we’re here and you can open your eyes.
You may not recognise this place...at least not for a while…or it may be very familiar.
Only you can know.
But here where we stand is the place where our instinct screams to return.
It can be done. It is never too late. It is natural and will bring its own rewards.
There’s a clear purpose for being in this World of the Human - the person we were meant to be.
We knew it then and we can know it now.
Let’s lift the mist and stay in this real place forever.
The Place Called….ME
25 April 2012
Today is Anzac Day.
It is a significant national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand to serve as a reminder of the first military action by troops from both countries during the First World War in 1915.
The plan to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula – in particular Constantinople - backfired and became a drawn-out affair of several months in which time we lost over 8,000 men and New Zealand more than 2,000. However, the landing on the beach at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 became the date of commemoration for both countries to honour the troops from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps with the acronym ANZAC.
There is no glory in War and I do not believe that the commemoration of Anzac Day suggests that there is. But there is glory in sacrificing your life for your country as so many gallant young men and women did.
The pain and horrors they endured are unimaginable just as it is unimaginable to think that mankind has not learnt its lessons from both World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam and the wars currently raging in the Middle East and Africa.
Why do we rage?
Basically we rage because somebody has something we want or we think we need or we think is rightfully ours. We rage because someone has insulted our God by saying he does not exist; or we rage because someone has suggested that there is a God who is supporting us in doing whatever killing, raping, pillaging and desecrating we are doing.
We rage because mortal man is stupid and the opposite of what is true about the reality of Man. The Real Man gives and takes only what is his to give or take; the Real Man allows others to hold their beliefs; the Real Man does not harm others or take their lives or their children. The Real man shares what he has and is content in the knowledge that the Universe is in perfect balance and will provide for all…if only mortal man…would allow it.
We are thinking today of the families that lost loved ones in these inglorious wars: sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, brothers, sisters. husbands, wives, uncles, aunts and cousins.
My grandmother lost two brothers in World War 1
My mother lost one of her two brothers in World War 2
My brother was called up for National Service but thankfully he did not go to War
There are not too many degrees of separation between being affected or untouched.
We are thinking of those who were maimed and deprived of a decent life.
We are thinking of those for whom the whole experience unsettled the mind and the soul.
We are thinking on this Anzac Day...but are we truly thinking?
24 April 2012
You must forgive me for not posting a message for three days. You see, I've been excited.
It’s quite a while since my four best friends were all together in the same country at the same time.
And yet it wasn’t all that long ago they were all living in the same house - quite often at the same time: four of them - all in the bath together; four under the age of five!
Meet my kids: here they are…although not in the bath and on their best behaviour. Clockwise from top left: Rachel, Marius, André & Justine.
It took the wedding of the 2nd eldest, Marius to achieve this reunion just three days ago on Saturday 21 April 2012 at the wonderful Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Garden in Shoreham, Victoria. He flew in (with Sasha, his bride-to-be) from South America the week before, Rachel the eldest flew in from Paris (where she resides and does all sorts of exciting things) arriving on the night before the wedding and Andre and Justine (mother of my two granddaughters) were already in Melbourne.
Meet my adult kids: here they are…still not in the bath and still on their best behaviour after several hours of wedding reception! From the Left: André, Marius (the Bridegroom), Rachel & Justine.
Marius is the clown of my family. He didn’t need to wear the big shoes and the painted smile though…he just came out of the womb laughing and you could just tell. I often wondered if he’d need to find another clown as a compatible partner...but instead he found Sasha.
Meet Sasha: She’s just gorgeous. Here she is with very close sister Sharne immediately after the ceremony. Sharne has a story all of her own…yet another Blog post for the future.
Had it been my role or business to go out and find the perfect partner for my son I’d have gone straight to Sasha’s house. She’s the sort of girl who dresses up in mad costumes to cheer up little sick children; the sort who laughs and loves adventure; a health addict who yogas, and snow-boards and eats healthy food; the sort of girl who smiles even when she’s sad and who loves my son beyond all reason.
It was Sasha who themed her wedding as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party…a lovely throwback to childhood that in the wrong hands could have fallen as far as Alice herself down the rabbit hole. But so witty and mad-hattery were the décor and the imaginative table settings that they deserve a Post all of their own and shall get one in due course.
Of course it’s not a wedding unless there are risks and as we are all big risk-takers in our family, there was no hesitation in agreeing to Sasha and Marius’ request that their niece Olivia (Livvy) be their Flower Girl.
Meet Livvy: she’s three years old and as all parents will know - it’s one thing to say and think that your three year old child will do something on cue…and quite another for them to actually do it…or something entirely different in the opposite direction. But a couple of months at Kindergarten, a couple of years in the swimming pool and relentless, loving consistency from her parents have given Livvy an in-built understanding that doing what you’re asked to do (relevant questions of ‘why’, allowed) usually brings the best results for all concerned.
Meet three generations of girls in my family represented at the wedding:
The Matriach…or if you prefer - me – (the old girl up the back) - is known to some of you and acted as the Celebrant for the occasion. Daughter Rachel on the Left, played all the wedding music on a keyboard she’d never seen before - having just arrived from a twenty hour flight and driven for a couple of hours at midnight the night before the wedding. Daughter Justine stage-managed the dressing and fine-line between hysteria and indifference by Livvy, who is sandwiched in and quite obviously slightly younger than the rest of us.
Meet my son-in-law Scott (Livvy's dad) and my new daughter-in-law Sasha bonding to the realisation that they have the same mother-in-law.
All blokes getting married should be surrounded by their best mates.
The script should take its own curtain. It wrote itself!
A nod to hilarity with deference to dignity it unearthed unguarded moments, tender exchanges and the truth of the attraction each to the other. It brought the guests to tears with Edward Monkton’s beautiful story of Love Monkey and asked of the Guests to make a Vow - out loud - to support their two friends in their marriage through the good times, the great times, the awesome times and (if they had to) the awful times! And it spilled the beans on a first ceremony in South America where Sasha and Marius were blessed by a Peruvian Shaman at 3,400 metres above seal-level on a sacred Andean Site. And thus it teased a little, laughed and wept a little and laid bare the very depth of their love.
At my elder son’s wedding.
Friday 20 April 2012
I’m sure the seasoned Bloggers are far more organized than I am regarding the subject of their new Posts.
It’s my younger son’s fault…(oh yeah…the best thing about having kids is you can blame them for just about anything…just like my Dad always blamed our poor Cocker Spaniel for any stray burps or farts at the dinner table!) Do I shock you? I thought that happened in every normal household.
Anyway my younger son said if I were really going to start a Blog I had to be disciplined about it and write something every day. And that’s precisely why I can blame him - I never really know what I’m going to write about until I sit at the laptop and reach for the jar labelled Inspiration.
‘Yikes!’ I said. ‘Things worth putting on a Blog only happen to me about once a month.’ ‘Well’ he replied in his laconic way ‘write about when things happened once a day – they DID, didn’t they?’
Had he not said that I doubt I’d have had the confidence to even THINK about starting a Blog…but I took his advice and the memories wheeled into consciousness like a flock of galahs at dawn…and a Blog was born.
And then an interesting phenomenon occurred - as so often happens after a momentous occasion like a Blog-birth (say that quickly 20 times!)
Through my new obsession with Social Media – particularly Twitter, I found I was Following men and women of all ages who were writing engaging, erudite Blog posts on the current scene – political, fiscal & societal et al. And suddenly, there was a whole new area of inspiration in front of me.
You see, I’m not a scholar, academic, scientist, intellectual, archaeologist, lawyer or anthropologist…(although I’d love to have been any one of those things)…but one thing I AM is a ‘Picker-Upper of inspiration. Great Bloggers like Joan, Jane, Greg, Jack tra la have placed the facts of their expertise firmly under my nose so I can actually UNDERSTAND what is going on in the world. And then I rely on inspiration to do the rest. See? Easy…I end up not actually doing ANYTHING.
So, back I go to my starting point of what to write about and my lack of organization.
I must confess that because my elder son is getting married tomorrow down at Red Hill (which - for readers who’ve made the most unwise decision not to live in Melbourne Australia - is about an hour and a half away from the CBD) and because I’m the acting Celebrant and am picking up my elder daughter from the airport very late tonight and driving down there…I do not feel all that organized about this Post.
I was going to write about Love…but I really want that to be the Post for the day of the Wedding.
And then I thought again of all the wonderful friends I’ve made through social networking; I thought of all the support and encouragement I’ve received since starting the Blog… and those memory-galahs wheeled in again.
Gratitude. I’ll talk about Gratitude…because that’s one thing I DO know something about. It sparks inspiration! And how do I know this? I know, because Aunty Ruby told me.
I bet you have an Aunty Ruby in your family. She may not be called Ruby but you’ll know the one I mean. She’s the one who seems to have been born in an era exclusive to herself. She has good advice for everybody except it’s about 20 years out of date…a little bit like Miss Havisham.
Our dear old Aunty Ruby had perfect reason to be like that. Born in the late 1800s she lost her fiancée in the First World War and never really recovered. For all her quaintness though, she was…well, as a child the only word I could think of was…mysterious. She would pick up an injured bird or an animal that seemed to be beyond any hope of restoration and have them running or flying around in no time…sometimes instantly. She did the same for us. Not once did she let us believe for a minute that we could be sick or tired or panicked, have lost something, be feeling downhearted…or lacking inspiration!
And it worked! Up we’d get; fit, active, calm, uplifted and finding missing articles by simply find ourselves staring at them.
I was fascinated by her and intrigued to know how she did it.
Her answer on my questioning was always the same.
‘It’s Gratitude dear!
‘Express Gratitude for that which you have and you make room for what’s missing - be it health, money, keys or happiness. It’s not that it’s missing…you just can’t see it because you’re looking in the wrong places.’
I started practising that as much as I could even as a little tacker; and on the very first day, I made one of the most important discoveries of my life.
She was right!
Thursday 19 April 2012
Believe me – I had no intention of writing about the M Word today - the idea landed into my thoughts as though it were a box of goodies falling off the back of a truck. Clunk!
Two men…one yesterday and another just a couple of weeks back…lost their jobs because they opened their mouths wider and faster than their brains could operate.
There is no evidence to suggest whether they lost their jobs because of the nature of their remarks or because those remarks were publicly aired. The cynic in me suspects the latter.
Racism was the reason given for the first dismissal: misogyny for the second.
Abhorrent things…both of them!
Personally I am sorry for people who lose a valuable job over a mistake. But if there has to be a sacrificial lamb (or two) to get essential Human Rights messages across – then so be it!
I am equally appalled and fierce about both of these issues, but as luck would have it…it is Thursday, the day after my baby-sitting two adorable little girls and I am therefore emotionally drawn to the subject of gender. I have lived long enough and experienced enough to know that equality of the sexes is not alive and well in our midst. The old Boys’ Club ethos pervades no matter the environment. And women - even those most brilliant - do it tougher than men financially, physically, mentally and socially and rarely achieve the status of equality.
I am writing it on behalf of my tiny granddaughters who cannot yet speak for themselves.
Dear Mr Max
Yesterday you lost your job.
My granddaughters and I were concerned to hear about that - even though the reasons for your dismissal confused them a little.
You see Max, they’re only 18 months and 3 years old with their whole lives ahead of them.
Their eyes asked me to explain…so I did the best I could and thought it would be good for you to have it explained too.
At the moment all they really understand is that they are loved and protected, comforted and fed.
They do not as yet realize that as they go through life, some people will regard them as second-class citizens because they are female!
And because of the nature of your letter confirming this fact (sent by email to Dr Carole Ford - a highly educated and respected Queensland feminist) their parents and I will see to it, from this moment on, that they are equipped sufficiently to deal with it.
Let’s look at your letter so I can quote you accurately, Max. How about we take the 3rd paragraph as a sample?
Question: Why don’t you have a go? Answer: Like most women, you probably don’t possess the necessary drive, determination and decisiveness that men innately possess. It’s not a personal criticism; it’s a fact of biology. Where, for example, are the great female explorers, mountaineers, warriors, inventors, chefs? Blokes dominate most areas of human endeavour because Nature equipped them with something called testosterone. That was part of Nature’s grand design to enable men to be stronger, more fearless and more determined than their sisters. Sorry Carole, fact not fiction.
First of all, you ask a question that could be considered rhetorical, except you seem desperate to answer it yourself. Is this to air your superior knowledge?
If so, in the first part of the airing you make a rather silly gross generalization about ‘most women’ that could not possibly be substantiated by any reliable statistics.
How are we doing Max? My little granddaughters are starting to giggle.
Secondly, you assure Dr Ford that this is not ‘a personal criticism’ but a ‘fact of biology.’
Now at this point, Max I asked the 3 year old to get down a medical encyclopedia. It seemed to me there might just be confusion in your mind over the difference between biological causation and learnt aspects of personality such as temperament and character. I mean…if it’s a ‘male thing’ to have ‘drive, determination and decisiveness’…why don’t ALL men manifest those qualities and NO women show any signs of them?
But we shouldn’t let YOUR confusion get in the way of your ‘fact not fiction’ claims, should we!
The 3 year old had great fun finding dozens of examples for you of prominent female explorers, mountaineers, warriors, inventors and chefs, whilst the 18 month old looked at their pictures with a faraway look in her eyes. Would she, I wondered like to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Marie Curie, Samina Baig, Kylie Kwong or the remarkable Aung San Suu Kyi for instance?
I’ve no wish to go further with your farcical letter or my explanations to these wonderful young granddaughters of mine, Max. They’ve both fallen asleep…bored to sobs with the puerility of your arguments. And no doubt, your vision of the woman’s place being firmly in the labour-ward or the kitchen would no doubt terrify them, given the mother they have and the train set they got for Christmas.
Instead I shall make sure every moment I share with them will be joyful; they shall be stimulated, inspired, supported and feel the compassion as they pursue their interests, search for role models, develop their strengths and overcome challenges.
We shall anticipate – no, by our attitude, command respect from males and return it in kind.
And we shall stride out into the world in confidence, armed sufficiently with the weapons of integrity, civility and intelligence to demonstrate and celebrate our gender.
We wish you no ill will, Max and hope that you use your new-found recreational time wisely in thinking through these things.
May your pomposity vanish and your humility rise.
Nancy, Olivia and Hannah
Wednesday 18 April 2012
It happens to everyone from the moment of our birth to our last breath.
We crawl then walk and grow some hair
We get some teeth
We go to fat
Or get too thin
And Father Time is closing in
We lose some teeth
And perhaps our hair
If this is change it isn’t fair!
It doesn’t necessarily pounce on us – change - it tends to creep up from behind; whereupon we either embrace it (once we turn ourselves around) or we let it strangle us with its strangeness.
I do both. I embrace; I am strangled.
I LOVE the change in THINGS - as in technology that makes life better, faster, easier, smarter: I LOATHE the change in society that makes the individual, sadder and lonelier.
It’s often said that elderly people don’t cope very well with change but personally I think it’s more to do with one’s circumstances than one’s age.
It’s so much easier to embrace change of any sort when you’re in a secure and loving environment…where you feel relevant…perhaps in an extended family or small community.
But what of the individual isolated in a big city? A single mum or dad perhaps struggling with limited resources; an elderly person living on his own, a young student with family far away?
Perhaps I’m talking as a country girl who grew up in a town where everyone knew everyone else. Knew everyone else’s business too…but that came with the territory. At least you knew your neighbours, shop assistants, sporting heroes, professionals, business-men/women…all one big, if not entirely happy, family.
I often think about the changes that I’ve had to face in my 72 years:
When I was a kid, milk came straight from the cow…or we left out a billycan for the Milkman. The Baker arrived at the door each morning carrying a huge wicker basket full of enticing smells of the varieties just baked; not a plastic wrapper in sight. Old Mr Singh the Indian Hawker pulled up in his huge horse-drawn covered wagon once every two months to tempt Mum with his supply of saucepans and tinkerish things and Mr Hill the Iceman cometh faithfully each day to fill our Ice-box with a huge block of ice (and chip off a little corner with his ice-pick as a treat for us kids).
Our old Buick took eight hours to reach Melbourne from Swan Hill – a journey that anyone in a half decent vehicle can do today in less than half the time and the train wasn’t all that much faster.
Of course there was no TV, so Reading was my choice of entertainment along with kicking the footy in the street, gathering wild Asparagus from the banks of the channel and playing sport. Every single thing on my shopping list after school was bought from a different shop in the Main Street and the reward was a full-to-the-brim milkshake in a huge metal container. What’s more it was paid in shillings and pence not dollars and cents.
YOU could swim for miles not kilometres and grow in inches not centimetres.
There were wirelesses - not radios, clunky old typewriters – not computers, telephones with cords and a voice asking for the number you required – not iPhones.
These were glorious days of freedom in a country town where you could roam at will on your bike - never needing for a moment to be warned of ‘dangerous strangers’.
A safe and happy environment, indeed.
But now in a big city, I am blessed to have four children who care about me, teach me, at times tolerate me and sometimes let me win. Embracing and accepting change is exciting and easy for me.
Is it that elderly people fear change, stubbornly resist it and don’t want to discard the familiar? Or is that they don’t know HOW to embrace it. Do they have a patient visitor to show them how to use a computer or a TV remote?
Is it that isolated, lonely people fear change and reject it or can they not afford to do anything about it and lack the knowledge to try?
How many people like that do we know in our cities?
Are we really reaching out to help them cope with change?
Are we really reaching out?