Wednesday 30 October 2019

An invitation from the Prime Minister

Yesterday I received an invitation from the Prime Minister. Well, from the Prime Minister's Office. The Prime Minister of Finland. It was an invitation to attend the International Gender Equality Prize Ceremony and Reception. In attendance would be the Prime Minister, the Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ombudsman for Equality (Helsinki), the Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality and the MP and Chair of the National Council of Women of Finland (Helsinki) - who I might add, is a woman logically, unlike ours was a few years back. I think these are people our country could learn a lot from. Note the Finnish government has almost parity of gender - not from quotas, merely by chance because women are valued as people.

I am very excited, as I nominated the Daughters (and Sons) of Cambodia for their work to improve gender equality, getting women and trans men out for prostitution and violent situations by educating them with skills to work in other fields. For those that continue to work in the sex industry, they support with health testing. It is a religious organisation, but you don't need to convert to receive help (as true Christians know. Shame on those applying charity with 'strings').

I have my fingers crossed that they win, as they would make good use of the cash injection. If you are looking for Christmas gifts, maybe check out their site and see what the shop has in store.

I toyed with the idea of going, as the city of Tampere has a Moomin Museum, a Spy museum and their Vivid on (The Festival of Lights). And I would get to hear these wonderful forward thinking people speak on a panel, discussing ways forward for equality.

However, I've decided not to make the journey, as exciting as it would be. The money, the emissions (and the 27 and 29 hours flying time) for only 2 days in Finland, seemed too extravagant, especially when I will be there in January.

So I will just have to get myself invited again. Next year.

Thus this week, I am loving the feeling that there is a better way to do things, and that I'm vaguely somehow part of it. I'm loving the hint of hopefulness that I may have enabled something to help  people doing good for a lot of people living a devastatingly hard life. I want to thank the Finnish Government for their generous $300k prize that goes out globally, and for realising their role is bigger than their own borders.

We can do better, we must do better.

What are you loving this week?

Linking  up this old post with #TimelessThursdays. I was discussing my regret now,  at not going when I had the chance as travel is no doubt to become impossibly expensive when it's finally allowed. I guess you learn a lot in hindsight...

PS Happy Halloween everyone. I fell in love with this display and am declaring them the winner of our neighbourhood. I am currently trying to work out how to take my youngest and her friend out trick or treating and be home to answer the door so the middle one can study for his exams tomorrow without being disturbed. Any suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Throw the shade away

I am not a fan of reunions. I don't really see the point. I'm friends with my friends and just because we spent a few years together back in the day, I don't feel the need to meet for one night and return to our very separate lives.  It's like speed dating with people you don't want to sleep with, so why bother? Who wants to have the same boring conversation 30 times in a row?

So you can imagine I was not thrilled at the prospect of a 50th with a lot of people from my past. They were the popular kids and while I mixed with them, I was more the outsider, often present but not really connected. However, there would be enough people from my present, and enough strangers to busy myself with, I figured, so it would be alright.

The first person I bumped into was from my past and we stumbled around awkwardly conversationwise for a bit, summing up our lives, and then her husband joined us so we talked normally to include him, and we all relaxed. 

Later in the evening, a person from long ago came up to me and said "So how have the last 30 years treated you? Have they been good?". I considered the question for a millisecond and replied "Good. Really Good. That's the best way to cover all that. Now we can just be normal" and so we then moved on to all manner of things, including how whales slept and the moons of Jupiter, and things that actually interested us. Of course, the longer we spoke, personal details of our lives were revealed, but in a natural fashion. Not this listing of what you've done and how many kids you have and so on. Not a pointless comparison of experience.

Over the course of the night I spoke to a few more from the past, and many more I'd never met. I had a lot of fun with a couple of people in particular. We seemed to click quickly outside the 'social norms' of conversation. Shared history wasn't necessary, and neither was knowing it. It was all very here and now. Other than the 'how do you know the host?' as a starter, we didn't even really cover traditional 'ice breakers'.

The interesting thing, I pointed out to my husband later, was that people kept offering up why they weren't living in their dream house, or why they didn't really use their University degree. Even though I hadn't asked, they'd just launch into it. I kept wondering why they even cared what I thought of them, as to bother giving me an explanation. It was perplexing for me that the self conscious introvert had somehow become the most self assured person there. Purely because I literally didn't care what they thought of me. There are a million and one things I hate about ageing (and the toll it's taking on my body) but if this is part of the bargain, it's definitely worth the price. 

I am not good at parties, even if I know everyone I find the big group thing quite difficult (I've decided my brain is Finnish and I can't deal with small talk. Like the Finns, I just don't see the point. Which is not to say I'm not interested in what you've been up to if we are friends, obviously). With the rash of 50th parties, I've had to push myself to make conversation with strangers. If I see someone or a couple standing by themselves, I just go over to them. I figure we're all friends of the host, so we should make it a successful night for all, out of respect for our mutual friend. Sometimes they're quite grateful, often they're very interesting but sometimes they're quite rude. However that's on them, and I don't need to take any of their attitude on board. 

While googling a title for another post, I came across this article with the best advice "Act as if you’re a host, not a guest. Reach out to people standing by themselves...those that look obviously uncomfortable...Don’t be afraid to approach people...If you focus on the other person’s comfort, you can lose your own self-consciousness." I was relaxed and confident  at that party because I was focused on them. As I learnt from Augusten Burroughs, the secret to confidence is to focus on the person (or thing) in front of you, and all self judgement disappears.

As I said to someone on the night, 'The thing is, everyone at our age has baggage. You don't get to live this long without going through the wringer a few times. Anyone who pretends everything is perfect is lying and not worth talking to'. You don't need to take on the opinion of others at a party, just throw their shade away. As for me, I've got plenty of emotional baggage but I'm working on carrying it well.

Linking with #SeniorSalonPitstopesmesalon senior salon pitstop

PS I don't know what this song is actually about, but I'm co-opting it for my purpose. Whenever you are feeling a little 'less than', blare it out. You just throw the shade away....

Saturday 26 October 2019

Sydney by land and sea

 With fortuitous indulgence, I spent Thursday night at the Opera House for a show...

 ...and Saturday on a boat on the harbour. I say it many times but I love this city and I never get tired of it's beauty.
We also delighted in the Steampunk extravaganza of Cirque Du Soleil. It's one of the better shows we've seen from them visually, so if you haven't got tickets for Kurios, definitely check it out. You won't be disappointed. My daughter and I got to go backstage to walk across the bridge before the show started, and I'll admit I got that giggly wave of excitement seeing all the props in waiting...

Lastly a lost little Harry Potter was put on display in the local car park. It brought a smile to my face. Sometimes it's the smallest thing that makes your day.

Linking with  #TravelTuesday #PictorialTuesday #WednesdayAroundtheWorld #AnApelADay #MCoW #WordlessWednesday #SayCheese #MySundayBest#OurWorldTuesday  #ThruMyLens and #WanderingCamera

My favourite book as a child...

One? I can only pick one? No, as I'm not a stickler for rules, I'll have to go with my favourites...of which there were many.

The very hungry caterpillar started a life long love affair with Eric Carle's work, as a late discovery discussed. Simplicity in art and story to create perfection.

Where the wild things are gave me a love for all the adventures and bad tempered boys of Maurice Sednak's creations. Sometimes it's okay to be cranky, but learn to reign it in, like Pierre or Johnny, or face the consequences.

The grisly fairy tales of Hans Anderson and Grimm - in particular, the Little Match Girl, the Tinder Box and the Steadfast tin soldier were my favourites. I also can't stand the Disney ending of the Little Mermaid. Apparently I am not a happily ever after kind of girl, which could be why I find the Chinese cinema cathartic...or maybe I've a bitter side that needs a safe space to run it's course?

I loved so many books of Dr Seuss, but more left of centre, like Go Do Go and I wish that I had Duck Feet. I'm guessing his exploration of the crazy world of possibility is the magical appeal.

Not my favourite book as a child, but one of my favourite children's book is I wish I had a pirate suit by the fabulous Pamela Allen. The perfect gift for any second (or subsequent) child. It captures the human condition perfectly.

Did you have a favourite book as a child?

Linking with #DreamTeam

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Sock it to them! Manrags

For three years, we've had a laundry basket that gets filled with odd socks - I have no idea where they go! Occasionally, I sit down and match them but there's still about 60 that don't match up. I know for a fact there were 60 unmatched socks and 20 socks with holes. How do I know? I've sent them off to be recycled.

I saw an ad for Manrags on facebook and it instantly solved my problem. I ordered 5 biobags to post up to 20 WASHED, CLEAN socks (or 10 pairs) to them in. They then either match them and send them to the third world for wear, or break them down to be reused in making new products.

I also ordered some new socks that are thick and funky and came so glamorously wrapped that I'm using the box to package up my partner's birthday present, so you'll have to wait to see that, in case he happens to glance here before next week...

So if you need socks, or have socks you need to get rid of, look into Manrags. (You also get a $20 discount for your first return, so it's a great way to check out the quality of the socks)

So I'm loving reducing landfill, and supporting ethical businesses when I need something - as Manrags says 'Look Good. Feel Good. Do Good'. It's true....

What are you loving?
(Not sponsored, just loving it).

Linking with #LovingLifeLinky

(That's me modelling my Manrags women's sightless socks - I can now tell people I'm a model. So I might run with that at the next party I go to...hehehe)

Just to update, this came in from Manrags:

Thank you for joining the movement and helping us to reduce textile waste.
Since launching 48 days ago we've already saved OVER 100,000 SOCKS from landfill, and counting!

Tuesday 22 October 2019

The beginning and the end

There is a step in parenting no one really tells you about. My eldest has a partner who has become very much a part of our family. A regular fixture in the house and at family meals, and even came on a daytrip for lunch with my mum and a family visit to the dentist (to be fair, I don't think he realised how long the whole exercise was going to take, but came along and joined in the joking fights over who was DJ in the car and which of my music didn't sound like a poor copy of Avicii - apparently all of it does, according to the kids, but they're wrong).

I like this kid. A lot. But they're young, so it stands to reason that eventually, a time will come when we say goodbye. If we're lucky enough for that opportunity. There has been a previous long term relationship, and after 4 years, one day we just never saw him again. Gone, with no warning. At least no warning we were privy to, the parents and siblings. No chance to say goodbye.

After a recent Sunday lunch out, we played Mario kart on the machines left in the foyer of the shopping centre, everyone taking turns to compete with each other. The five of us are now a very easy six. I looked at my husband while the kids were playing and beamed "I love this" and he knew I meant the new dynamic, and agreed.

But fast forward through life, and another friend is planing his exit after twenty something years of marriage. It's sort of heart breaking. There's no one else, just a lot of unhappiness. An empty nest about to become emptier.

For some reason it makes this new love seem all the more precious. And perhaps more ephemeral. Glittering on the horizon only to one day be a vague memory, now irrelevant.

My heart will break just a fraction at the loss too, but I'll probably have no chance to say goodbye. I guess this is a part of parenting that you never get to grow out of, as the stage is a permanent one, regardless of age.

I guess this is why you hold onto the minutes you get together as tight as you can.

Linking with #TheRandom #StayClassyMama  #MLSTL and #DreamTeam

Friday 18 October 2019

Old enough to know better...

I went to a party the other day, and it was divided into clusters from the hosts life. There were a fair few in our cluster, so while I spent most of the night with those I knew, I did strike up conversations with others, as we were all there to celebrate a milestone birthday with the host.

At one point in the night, a song I liked came on, so I went to the small group of five that was dancing, and announced I was joining them, even though they were all strangers to me. A few seconds later, the three women whispered to each other, looked at me and left. It was shockingly rude and frankly for 50 year olds, infantile and weird. I turned to the two men who remained dancing (one of them obviously feeling very awkward about whether to stay or go, and one too drunk to care) and apologised for bringing the vibe down. The drunk guy just shrugged and smiled. We danced as if it hadn't happened and then when the new song came on, I went back to my people...


I told a friend and her first response was to shriek in a horrified squeal 'That's so high school?!'
And it was. The weirder part, I wasn't trying to talk to them, I literally was just coming to dance. So it seemed an excessive show of poor manners, to prove some point that I clearly missed.

The night before I went to Jungle Giants, where I was easily 30 years older than everyone else. I went with a friend and we merrily danced away. At one point, I noticed three women, maybe 20, looking at me. One was grinning and possibly copying my moves. I wasn't 100% sure if she was making fun of me, as she was smiling at me in a very friendly manner, so it was difficult to read what was happening. Her friend then gave me that look. It's a look I get at lots of concerts where I don't belong. It's not nasty, but there is a patronising air. It's a look that says "Aren't you cute?!" Cute in the sense of a sweet old lady. Betty White cute. The mimicking was an inclusive move, not one with malice. It is something I'm getting used to. It has occasionally had the words 'I hope I still go out like you when I'm old' and other such variations, that are meant to be compliments but are shattering reminders that your outside doesn't match how you feel inside...and yet I'd still take that over the small minded women at the party.

It's a sad reflection of society in a lot of ways. The older we get, the more focused on our 'lot' we become. We're not interested in sharing with the greater community, nor open to new people. I have a lot of faith in the youth of today. I hope they don't follow our bad example.

To borrow from Kate Forsyth, dancing is common ground that allows 'people to connect, despite all our defences and all our differences'.

And who wouldn't want to connect in the easiest and most instantaneous way possible?

"Inclusion is a way of thinking, a way of being, and a way of making everyone feel they belong" 
(not attributed to anyone? If you know, let me know).

Linking off topic for  #KCACOLS #GlobalBlogging #TwinklyTuesday and #DreamTeam

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Beautiful Day

Came back to a disaster of an NBN transition - day 6 and still resolving. But at least the internet is now working, just no phone line...ahhhh.

After a very frustrating few days, I woke with a smile and this song put a spring in my step. I spent the whole day on a high for no reason, just this song on high rotation. (To be honest, I'm guessing it was the hormonal upswing of being quite down for a few days about this country's current political shennanigans, and the NBN stress). Whatever it was, sometimes something so miniscule can change your outlook. You just need to 'Open your box of blessings and take out something to smile about.'
― Annonymous 

Linking with #WanderingCamera #WordlessWednesday #WonderfulWednesday #SayCheese #MySundayBest #WWOT #WWOAT #MondaysMusicMovesMe and #MondayFotoTunes

Monday 14 October 2019

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul” ― Martha Graham

I have written before of how therapeutic I find dancing, and how great it is for confidence and well being, no matter how terrible you are at it. If I go too long without it, I get 'itchy' feet...

A friend sent me a story, that she said reminded her of me. In South Korea, a group of over 65's had thrown away their medicine and walking sticks as a result of government funded day time dance parties for seniors. Some had even met new partners. I love this story so much. I can see easily how it would be so beneficial to their heath and mood.

In China, the elderly all meet up in parks and in the walkways of the Chinese monuments (like Temple of Heaven) to play Go or cards. They have a tradition of dancing in public squares together at night. You don't need to know anyone, you just join in. Squares all over the city are full of people  of all ages dancing at night. The Chinese seem to have a very social view of life. It's easy to see this might lead to greater happiness than being cut off and isolated, and left just to family when they get home from work. I think it's something we've really lost in this country, and probably explains our high rates of depression.
Square dancing in Xian

I'm listening to a book which is talking about all the 80 year olds on Tinder in the West. It's very hard to socially meet people their age in daily activities. I had never even thought about this, so of course Tinder (or such apps) would make sense. However, in those Chinese and South Korean settings, you wouldn't need an app, as you are constantly out mixing with people, so the loneliness and isolation aren't an issue.

On my return, I was delighted to discover the City of Sydney offers classes for Chinese Square dancing (Plaza dancing). It's inclusive for people with disabilities too. So if you know someone who would benefit from this, pass on the details - it could be literally life changing.

As for me, I'm going to check it out - not to find a date but I see myself as a South Korean senior at a daytime rave, and this is close enough. So dusting off my very neglected list, I've one more to add:

Torshlusspanik List:

1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking (check)
8. The Color Run (check)
9. Invent something
10. Cooking Masterclass (check)
11. Master a Masterclass (check)
12. Perform a rap song (check)
13. Trampoline adventure (check)
14. BMX Riding (check)
15. Do a cart wheel (check)
16. Ride an Electric Bike (check)
17. Astonish Myself
18. Write a book.
19. Participate in a distance event (check)
20. Climb Sydney Tower (check)
21. Dance in a dance class (check)
22. Trust a stranger
23. Get a truck for the Landmine Museum and Relief Centre in Siem Reap
24. Paint a picture
25. Go Rollerskating (check)
26. Do Chinese Square Dancing

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”
― Voltaire

Do you think we've let the elderly down with our way of life? 
Have you noticed how insular we are in Australia these days?
Do you like to dance?

Linking with #TheRandom #GlobalBlogger  #KCACOLS  & #StayClassyMama

Friday 4 October 2019

24 hours in Canberra - share my snaps!

We raced down for a jam-packed tour of the capital city. Sibling bonding was the main aim, and using the free night at the Novotel before it expired was the other. Plus get the money back with reciprocal benefit on our Powerhouse membership. Even though it's closing, it's still worth getting the membership, as I've already made $89 in discounts and free entries, and as we're off to the Wollongong museum next week, we'll have covered the membership cost, and any further visits are a saving.

Game Masters is smaller than the Sydney and Melbourne ones, but has some new games and less crowded so was definitely worth doing. And the three of us played together for awhile, then the two siblings, in a rare bonding these days - that pesky age gap causing the youngest to grow into an only child, as previously discussed.

Ode to Jeffrey Smart

Dreamworks was probably more of interest to me, though both of them liked drawing on the animation tablets at the end. I would have loved to do the Antartica VR but we were out of time, alas.

Then it was off to Nightfest for dinner. Having visited Floriade last year, I thought the lights and the band might be a lure for the kids. If nothing else, it meant dinner was sorted.

The next day was the morning at Questacon, still a favourite.

Then my reward was lunch at Lazy Su before the drive home....

If you're looking for a quick getaway, Canberra has a lot on offer at the moment....

What have you got up to these holidays?

Linking with #SharonsSouvenirs #WednesdayAroundtheWorld