Image by Whit Welles

Fear. Dread. Anxiety. Terror. Things that go ‘bump’ in the night, or the day, or in your head. What scares the nickers off you?

The tangible: spiders, snakes, lizards, whales, donkeys, hippies, carnies, clowns, fingers and/or toes. For me, it has got to be spiders and whales. Imagine a spider whale or a whale spider… (she shivers). I don’t mind cockroaches or snakes or sharks unless they’re crawling over my face as I sleep or trying to bite me to death. Nup, it’s the hairy, multi-eyed, crawly little eight legged bug and the huge lump of blubber that gets my heart racing. What about you?

Answer: __________________________________________________

The intangible: failure, success, rejection, nightmares, ghosts, commitment, marriage, being a parent, not being a parent, being a nerd, not being a nerd, other people’s opinions on you being a nerd, depression, sunshine or failing friendships. This is the big section if you ask me. Because you can pretty much stay out of the way of sharks, spiders and snakes (if you’re lucky) but these are always with us. We carry these fears in our heads, throughout our lives. It’s a constant battle to keep them in check so that they don’t ruin our lives.

Fear of failure is pretty common. Especially when you take on a new job or school, most of us just want to be seen as successful. It’s humiliating when you miss the mark. It hurts. And that hurt stays with you and effects the future levels of anxiety and fear. Ooga booga.

Then there’s rejection. There’s nothing like school to instil in a person the fear of rejection. Girls especially are skilled at the nose in the air, turn of the back move. They perfect the ‘you’re not my friend’ sentiments from a very early age. Not sure why girls are particularly hard on each other. Must be something in the waters. Or the emotions.

Fear of people’s expectations is tied into the whole rejection thing, which is linked into the fear of looking daggy or not seen to be fitting in. And I bet that nearly every person is walking around with this paranoia; that they’re not good enough, that they don’t fit in. It can drive a person crazy, all this comparing clothes, cars, careers, houses, smarts with everyone else is exhausting. Why do we bother?

Our masks don’t help anyone. Rather, they perpetuate these false standards that everyone hates but strives to life up to. We’re all running around trying to be good enough, when the truth is that we are good enough, because no one is good enough, if you get my drift. We all have our weaknesses. Truth is powerful, masks are harmful.

What are your biggest fears? Come on, remove the mask and share. Cos you’re not alone out there.

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The philosophy of our age is you can do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. On the surface this statement looks fairly sensible. It looks like freedom of speech, of action. But can you have true freedom with no (or little) boundaries?

‘As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone’ is a subjective boundary. You can put it where you like and justify almost anything, as long as it feels right to you. But what if my behaviour doesn’t feel right to someone else? What if I am hurting someone and they are so politically correct, so polite that they can’t say anything? And this philosophy doesn’t apply to everyone.

Take the swear word ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ for instance. If you’re a Christian and someone swears with these words, it can be highly offensive but most people continue to say it regardless. And who are we to say who is going to be hurt and who isn’t? It’s subjective and we don’t know everything.

Our individualistic society is a little blind. We’ve lost a beautiful sense of community and compassion. I know the past was far from perfect but I kinda miss manners and lovely words and the respect that all brought. People were unafraid to show that they cared. They would bring meals, make phone calls, write letters and were careful (in public at least) with what they said. Or perhaps I’m remembering some kind of ‘Anne of Green Gables’ type of reality that never really existed.

To be frank, I really don’t think many of us stop to consider whether we are hurting people. We’re kind of desensitised to that kind of compassion because we’re individuals now and we have rights. The individual always trumps the group/community. It’s a stubborn, narrow view of the world in my opinion.

We are not islands. We have been made to live in community. It’s a beautiful thing. So perhaps the new philosophy should be ‘Do what is beneficial not just to you but to your community – speak life into those around you, be generous, be considerate and don’t be afraid to love.’ It’s a little long-winded, I know, but you get the gist!

What philosophy do you think the world needs to adopt?

If you had to write the story of your work life, how would it go? Traineeship, apprenticeship, university degree, family business, interview (disaster/success), bosses, payment, experience…

My work life has always been grey. After leaving school I went to University for a year. It was a sad 12 months. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was studying Communication which was cool and all but my heart was not in it… unfortunately. So I dropped out and worked in the Travel industry for a couple of years, thinking that I would be able to travel. Which I didn’t.

I just had this nagging desire for something to do with my mind, something more. So off I toddled back to University and absolutely loved my new course, Bachelor of Creative Arts. I had never worked so hard in my life, because I was finally studying something I loved… Drama, English and even a little bit of Business. (Got a ‘B’ in Accounting which was a big deal for a Creative Arts student).

After Uni, all I wanted to do was to travel with my hubby. And we did… after a year of mindbreaking, soul sapping work as a receptionist. But I did it, I travelled and loved it.

Back home and once again I was lost about what to do. I really wanted to have kids, but what to do in the meantime. So I took a job with kids, fell pregnant and was/is a mum, going on 8 years. Panic set in when my first baby went to school… gotta work… but what to do!? Had I squandered my working years, wandering around in a haze of options, doubt and confusion? I had to nail down what I loved to do…writing!

I was sent into the blogosphere by a friend who is a headhunter. I was wary, unsure but it was here I found my voice. But the eternal question hovers; do I do what I love as a job or should I get a local job in a shop/office just to pay the bills?

So my husband and I are both freelancers. Scary and exciting…?! You never know when you’re going to get that magical job that will propel you forward in your career. But there’s part of me that wants the steady income every week. The magical increase of numbers on a Thursday! Ping! Love that ping.

In the end everyone makes the decision to either do what they love, or what they have to do. The lucky or smart people get both. I’m hoping to one day be that lucky or smart or whatever. In the meantime, I keep plugging away at my humble blog/s (oscarclub.wordpress.com – check it out!) and hope and plan and pray that one day I can do what I love for work.

Dougie Hoswer – First Blogger featured on Television?

One simple way to make people more greedy is to guilt them into generosity. The response is usually defensive. They clutch their wallets closer to their chests, fix a frozen smile to their faces and walk on by. I know, cos I’ve done that before. I’m not proud of that but there you have it.

Collectors that go door-to-door, stand on street corners shaking their semi-empty cans or cold callers have got a tough job. But it just doesn’t seem effective. In our culture it is all too easy to turn a blind eye to the injustices in our world because there seems to be too many. We can’t or don’t want to get our heads around them. It’s all too depressing.

So when a million voices call out in need, the ears of a million others slam shut. I think we need to be smarter about this. As much as we hate to admit it, our culture is greedy. We all know by now that there is actually enough food in the world to feed everyone. But still people die every day from starvation. We know that. But we keep on eating.

Guilt will not end world hunger. Greed will. That’s why Op Shops are so popular at the moment. There’s no pressure to give endlessly to these charities. There are no demands. There are just a few humble shops with odds and ends, 2nd hand clothing and collectables that give us a shopping experience without the guilt. Op shops tap into our desire for more. They are a great place of recycling, of course, but their main task is to fund a charity and they do it in a subtle way so that most of us don’t have to think about the horrible situations those in need are facing and how our measly dollars are helping them.

Massive fundraisers are also hip! Because people get a good feed, they get to hear from interesting people and they get to feel like they’re doing something good for the world. Tick that box. There are also awesome prizes that once again tap into our greedy nature. It’s just fact! I’m not putting down fundraisers or op shops, quite the opposite. I think they’re smart.

The fact is that most of us love to get! I love to get. I would go so far as to say it is my love language. But I look around Sydney and I see so much wealth and gluttony and stuff. And I wonder how I can get people to donate charities in Africa who are suffering, who can’t even put food on the table for their kids. I wonder how we can squeeze stuff out of our ‘stuffed’ city and dribble it into the hands of those who need it way more than we do.

And it all comes down to greed. How do we tap into greed and subtly turn it into generosity without having to lay a guilt trip, without begging, without disturbing?

Any ideas?

Here’s one     http://ourneighbours.org/

Today I became a canteen mum. There was I with my holey but protective footwear, my bright eyes, my expectant face and a little fear of the responsibility of adding up cash correctly.

But never fear! It was a great experience. The other ladies were very nice and patient and understanding but I must tell you about the star of the day. His name, I cannot remember but his presence was unique.

I arrived 9:30 ish to find a tall, elderly man pottering around the canteen kitchen. His eyes were bright as he pottered around. He saw me and the other new mummy and tottered over to tell us something in hushed old man tones. With personal space not being his forte, it was a little confronting at first. But then he was sent on a supermarket errand and the ladies told me his story.

This man used to be the maintenance worker at the school. So each week he comes in for half a day to relieve his glory days, to sit, to drink in the familiar surrounds. It is a nice break from his home life, where he visits with his frail wife who is suffering from dementia. But there’s not a skerrick of bitterness in him. He looks like a man full of stories, full of experiences and full of hope of more life left to live.

Like any of us, he loves his weekly routine. He serves the kids at recess, often giving them freebies if he can’t quite understand what they want or how much it costs. After this he eats his chicken sandwich, yoghurt and sweet chilli chicken, lost in his own happy world.

His pottering continues with stories of being a sailor, travelling throughout Asia. I picture him with a captain’s hat on his head and a pipe clenched between this teeth, squinting into the sea spray while singing a sea shanty through his gritted teeth, urging the ship to go faster, despite the roaring waves.

Because of his lack of personal space, I would imagine this man is a brave soul. Despite his age, he still travels overseas, often bringing back presents for his ‘girls’ in the canteen.

Around lunchtime he packed up his tucker and did the kiss-on-cheek rounds to all of us, all while sharing jigsaw pieces of his life in snippets of conversation. He left me smiling. Though some find him intimidating, I thought he was fascinating and sweet.

I love that older people have such a wealth of experience to share with us. To the rest of society they may seem past it, quirky or muddlesome but when we scratch the surface, when we ask the right questions, there is gold to be found, stuff that we can learn from and admire.

 

Image by Asterio Tecson

When I was twelve I discovered music. It wasn’t as if I was deaf to the stuff before that. We were brought up with the Little River Band, Boney M and the dreaded Aled Jones. But they were my parents’ choice.

In the late eighties there was something called a record club and if you bought a certain number of records they would be cheap. You’d send a piece of paper away in the snail mail (yup, no internet then) and a few weeks later there would be a knock at the door and hey presto! your music would arrive.

This was when I met Whitney. She was a young, sometimes bald lass with long legs, a gorgeous smile and an incredible voice. She had a little bit of grunt to her, she wasn’t all sugary sweetness. My brother thought she was a bit too daggy, too girly for his liking. He ordered records such as Warrant, Public Enemy and Paula Abdul (busted! she’s a girl brother!!!!!).

So it was just left to me to dance around crazy like to the boppy tunes of miss Houston. And yes I did use the hairbrush to sing those love songs to my future love. I also used to pretend I was a pop diva like Whitney. Crowds of screaming fans adoring me for my awesome talent as I belted out a few tunes with incredible hip hop style dance moves! I thought I had a future there, but it wasn’t meant to be. Sigh.

So this week my first pop hero died, way too young, too troubled. It is so sad what fame and money  and dumb husbands and drugs does to a person. It was hard to believe that she had lost her voice last year when she came to Australia. It was like the door had closed on a more pure and beautiful era.

It was clear she had lost her way and was struggling. If only she had bought an island and lived out the rest of her life in luxury, peace and happiness. Surely that would be better than continually putting yourself out there when you know your talent is slipping away. But perhaps fame is an addiction, just like the drugs.

I’m going to embrace my inner 80s girl nerd and say thanks to Whitney for many hours of entertainment, soulful singing and hip hop dancing. So very sad that she is gone.

Mmmmwaaaa! Happy Valentine’s Day Eve everyone! The pressure is building, the roses are blooming and the shops are filled with pink hearts and ADORABLE cards. Sweet.

Now for you cynical Valentine’s Day scrooges out there who can’t be bothered to do anything for your special someone on that rosy day, I have one thing to say…shame on you! You may blame your apathy on the fact that the card companies, florists and chocolatiers profit (which is true) but so what?

There really is no excuse to ignore this day of lurve. It is a great opportunity to treat your beloved one to something a little special. Some may say that Valentine’s Day should just happen everyday, but it doesn’t, does it? No! You may have lofty ideals about treating your gal or fella special regardless of the day but for the majority of us, life just gets in the way and it doesn’t happen.

Valentine’s Day suits the busy person. There is no chance of forgetting it because we are slapped in the face with ads on TV, in shops, on the radio. Wherever you walk there are the decorations and everyone is talking about it.

The couples who put a whole load of effort into the day are not seen as too ‘cool’ in our society. Love is foolish, crazy, carefree. Go for it love nerds!

The so-called ‘cool’ people who scoff at the day and plan nothing at all may actually end up feeling as if they have missed out, or their partner might! It just doesn’t make sense. You get to go out to a beautiful, candle lit dinner, you get presents, you get to gaze lovingly into the eyes of your mate… what could be better than that? It’s an excuse for fun and romance, dim lighting and chocolate. Now when you put it that way, who can resist?

If you’re a bit of a scrooge, why not surprise your loved one this year with something, anything special. You have 24 hours, so get to it! And to the rest of you, have a happy, romantic, fun Valentine’s Day why don’t ya!

image by SaintEddie

I love honesty.  Except perhaps when it’s too pointed. But on the whole, I do appreciate when someone takes the time and effort to be honest.

I love hearing from people who are unafraid to be vulnerable. There’s really no point in putting on a false smile and pretending all is A-ok when secretly we’re as messed up as the next person. It doesn’t help anyone when we appear to be holding it all together, unless, of course you are the 1% (I guess) who has life all worked out.

Like anyone else, I struggle with fear and doubt and self esteem issues. I try not to let that be obvious in my day to day life but sometimes it’s good to let it all hang out. One of my favourite artists is Alanis Morissette. This is a girl who has earned a reputation for being an angry man-hater, but she isn’t. She is quite vulnerable in the way she writes. She’s just plain honest and I love it.

I want to write like that. Not songs but stories maybe, or blogs, or poetry. I just want other people to know that they’re not alone in their struggles. And I think the best way to do that is by sharing your own experiences and stories. Because basically we’re all the same. No one is perfect. No one has the  perfect life. We all have our shameful thoughts and deeds that we’d rather not bring into the light of day. But where there is light there is freedom… I believe.

So sit back, relax and enjoy some honesty from Ms Morissette. Here’s a few tasty morsels…

‘Eight Easy Steps’

“How to stay paralyzed by fear of abandonment
How to defer to men in solvable predicaments…

How to hate women when you’re supposed to be a feminist
How to play all-pious when you’re really a hypocrite…”

‘All I Really Want’

“All I really want is some peace man
a place to find a common ground
And all I really want is a wavelength
All I really want is some comfort
A way to get my hands untied
And all I really want is some justice…”

‘Thank U’

“how bout me not blaming you for everything
how bout me enjoying the moment for once
how bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
how bout grieving it all one at a time

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence”

‘Precious Illusions’

“You’ll complete me right?
Then my life can finally begin
I’ll be worthy right?
Only when you realize the gem I am?

But this won’t work now the way it once did
And I won’t keep it up even though I would love to
Once I know who I’m not then I’ll know who I am
But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim”

 

And I could go on and on and on! Just love the creative way she communicates her heart! Ah, to write like Alanis.

Whose writing do you admire?

James Bond, Sydney Bristow, Jack Bauer, Johnny English and Vanessa Kensington – all (fictional) spies, most glamorous, strong and sharp as a tack.

It is an intriguing world is it not? Undercover, peeking around corners, hand gripped on a holstered gun. Then there’s the gadgets, the cool cars, the even cooler heads on the fit and tanned bodies. Travel, adventure, danger… who wouldn’t want to be a spy?

The ‘Justice and Police Museum’ in Sydney is a fascinating place. Not only does it have a real courthouse, neon police sign and cells but it has some intriguing video surveillance from the 1960s spy network in our great city. ‘Normal’ looking people, men and women, can be seen walking the streets of the city, going in and out of buildings, meeting with other ‘normal’ looking people. Sounds boring but the fact that it is filmed from a hidden location makes it exciting.

There are also documents you can look through that have secret codes to crack and you can listen into real taped conversations between gang members, drug dealers, the lot. All this intrigue and secrets only intensifies my desire for spy-hood-dom.

Ah yes. I’m very good at waiting and watching and listening in to conversations if need be. I blend in quite well to my surroundings and I quite like wearing high collared coats and dark glasses. I have been known to commando roll out of cars and have great aim when shooting a gun (I once shot a tree on a property in Queensland… a tree I was actually aiming for so there you go).

My acting classes would come in very handy with the life of a spy: “No, I am not a mother of two… I’m actually Lady Washington on sabbatical from…um… Washington” (all said with the correct accent of course). The outfits would be ‘daaaarling’ and daring and fitted with the latest in blue tooth technology and  i-something gadgetry of course.

My preparation for this career would involve watching countless episodes of Alias and numerous James Bond films. I would practice stalking people in the streets, speaking code into my clenched fist. No one would notice that.

Ah yes, the life of a spy… if only. But I’m not a good liar, I am quite tall and would probably stand out in a crowd and I’m a little clumsy which would mean I’m more of a Stephanie Plum than a Sydney Bristow (damn it!). But let me dream.

What are your long lost dreams?

Image by Keith Pomakis

“The World is Your Oyster”, what a peculiar saying.

It was coined by King wordsmith himself, William Shakespeare in ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’.

Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny. 
Pistol: Why, then, the world’s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open. 
(Act II, Scene II)

In popular culture (or in my mind) it means that there are endless possibilities out there for those with nothing else to do.

With both kidlets off to school, I can confidently say that the world is my oyster too. Though I’m hoping that it doesn’t mean that life will taste like day old fish and feel like boogers. That it won’t be dangerous or tricky to get off its shell and will be filled with the constant disappointment of not finding that elusive pearl.

No! I’m with Shakespeare on this one. The world is my oyster and with my sword I’ll crack open the darn thing and fish out the enormous pearl that is eagerly awaiting my cracking and finding! Yes! This is a great time of life with endless avenues to explore while my munchkins hammer away at their quality education.

How does one find an oyster? Firstly you have to be willing to get your hands dirty. You will need the right equipment for the job and you will need to know what you are seeking. If you’re not into eating those slimy critters, then the pearl oyster is for you (and me!). That means you need to be discerning.

You must know where to look for these as they are not as common as the booger oysters. You don’t want to settle for second best. When the world is your oyster, you want it to be filled with pearls, not smelly sea animals.

There are two ways to find a pearl. First is to go to a pearl farm where the little droplets are manufactured in a manmade kinda way. This is the well worn path that everyone who has the world as their oyster treads. Discovery rates are high, but perhaps you prefer quality over quantity?

Well you must be of the pearl diver persuasion. Adventurous, hopeful and determined, the pearl diver goes where no random pearl farmer would dare to tread. They go out to the sea, to the islands, to the dark places where the natural and priceless pearls are to be found. They are rare but oh so special. The pearl diver is the bravest of all oyster seekers. Their eyes are ever on the horizon, scanning for things of great worth, of eternal things, of the priceless treasure that is to be found in the depths of the ocean.

If you are in a season of the world being your oyster, you are not alone. Though they can slice, dice and injure, oysters also hold great treasure that you wouldn’t find if you stayed warm and dry at home.

So point your finger forward, raise your arm and be brave and the world will indeed be your (pearl) oyster!

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