You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘community’ tag.

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?

Advertisements

I’m back after a lovely summery holiday up north. Ah. It’s nice to just sit and talk instead of always typing and thinking BLOG!

But it is great to be home and I’m pretty lucky to live in such a beautiful place. This time of year the crowds flock to our beaches, clog our streets with their automobiles and walk around our town with confused looks on their faces.

The locals know which cafes serve the best coffee, which aisle has toothpaste and where the heck you go when there are no parking spaces available (which is pretty much every day).

Though it is a sunny time of year, it can bring out the worst in people, especially locals, God love ’em. In the ‘off’ season, you can pretty much have a beach to yourself. Swimming in the pools is not a kamikaze affair and the line around ‘The Bends’ can be completed in 2.45 minutes.

One New Year’s Day we (as a local fam) decided to go to our ‘happy’ spot. It’s a little out of the way. We thought a-ha, no one will know this place except for us (and a few other locals perhaps). But, after relaxing into our spot in the shade overlooking yachts and other ridiculously beautiful things, a couple of cars pulled up. They were not locals and they were here for the day. They pulled out their doof doof blaster and their 4 inflatable boats and started yelling out to each other.

The peace was broken BUT I was full of revelation, these peeps don’t get to hang here anytime like we do! So I adopted a ‘share-the-love’ attitude and embraced their presence.

So, when the roads get clogged with lost tourists, the cafes with fancy-pants visitors from the city, I just sit back, watch and enjoy the festivities, cos I know that they will have to return to their normal life… and so will I! Hooray!!!!!

I love a sunburnt beach town,
A land of beaching whales,
Of well dressed mums at pick up,
Of mokes and barefoot pain,
I love her star-filled houses,
I love her feeling free,
Her terror in her beauty,
The warm peach sand for me!

(Apologies to Dorothea Mackellar for butchering her fine poem, My Country).

Ah yes, my home town. A place of contrasts. Where multi millionaires mix it with the tradies, who mix with the inheritance set who mix it with the ‘been-here-for-50-years’ people. As time marches by, the trendy people make up more and more of the population. Which is fine but I have been noticing a worrying habit amongst those trendsetters. I will call it, The Philosophy of Denial.

It’s like this: nothing bad happens here, nothing ever will and it is a golden town locked in a bubble of glorious rainbows. I am a bit of a stickler for rules and safety but in my lovely town such thinking is passe. I feel a little bit old fashioned in my thinking (which I am hoping will create a new fashion!)

Yesterday, my son’s school received a letter from someone observing the school kids from a cafe. He was so happy to see that all the kiddies were wearing helmets! He said he has worked in emergency medicine for 20 years and has seen some terrible head injuries from people not donning the old stack hat. Go kids! But then you see the teens, the adults, the parents riding their bikes willy-nilly, hair flying free in the breeze, sun on their face without a care in the world and without a helmet. Bah-bow.

How can primary age kids be so vigilant about bike safety and the parents not give two hoots? Denial. I was talking to my kids about this phenomenon and my daughter said, “I’ll never fall off my bike onto my head”. Hopefully not but helmets are there just in case, like seatbelts. Serious car accidents are thankfully rare around here too but people still wear seatbelts! Huh. Whaddya think?

We live in a spoilt area. Great food, views, community, money (mostly), health, schools and facilities. But it is like we take it all for granted. Like nothing will destroy our piece of paradise. I hope it doesn’t take a huge disaster to burst our bubble. So, northern beachers, safety first, right? Safety first!

Image by DeFacto

One of the great pleasures of summer holidays was visiting my grandparents at Brunswick Heads with the cousins. I reckon we only saw our beloved cousins once or twice a year so it was always a thrill to have some solid playtime with them. We would rock up, squeal, hug them and track down our favourite toys.

Then we’d head to the beach, towel swung over shoulder, together as a mob. Sometimes when it was just my brother and I, we would be treated to a ride to the beach in my grandfather’s little yellow (?) moke. This is the original beach mobile. It always felt a little wild, zooming down the cruisy streets of Brunswick, tongues flapping in the wind. We would have to hang on tight to whatever beach toy we’d brought and hope that no other ‘proper’ car would bash into us. Finally we’d arrive, hair matted in the salty air. But we didn’t care.

Sometimes it was hard work visiting the grandparents. They were kinda strict on clean rooms and table manners and made us watch opera on tv with massive earphones straddling our head. But a ride in the moke and a trip to the beach made it all worthwhile.

Fast-forward twenty or so years and here I am. Back in a seaside town. Though it is a lot more upmarket than downtown Brunswick Heads. But, to my surprise, mokes are making a comeback. Though we are a safety conscious generation, the mighty moke is back and back with a vengeance. People have done away with their Audis and BMWs and embraced this humble little vehicle. Awww, I just want to give it a hug, cutie patootie. I’m not sure if I would take my kids down to the beach in one but if it was good enough for mini me, why not?

Did you have a moke in the 80s? Would you buy one today?

You know you’re getting old when you look back on the past with a sigh and a lukewarm cuppa tea. To you, the world is going to hell in a handbag and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Remember communities? Those tight-knit, small, quaint towns where everyone walks slowly and stops for a ‘yarn’. I’m sure there are such places but they’re nowhere near me. No. My town is filled with flustered mothers, overworked parents and more activities than you can handle. Our eyeballs are bulging with cool stuff but it has cost us our sense of community.

No one has the time to make a meal for a friend, or even pick up a chicken from Coles. Most people have their heads down while their bum wiggles in the air. Everyone is doing it. And when a nice thing is done for a neighbour or friend, there’s that awkward moment when no one quite knows what to do with the situation. There’s a nervousness of putting yourself out there, of risking rejection.

It’s silly really. I remember I cooked a risotto for a family I didn’t know that well. I made it quite bland because they had kids and I was trying to hit all targets with the one arrow! I had cooked it and was going to surprise her and just drop it in and RUN! I had a lump in my throat, on the verge of panic. I knew this lady was pretty well off and fancy pants but I wanted to show her some good old fashioned community spirit regardless of her bank account. So I did it and felt like a complete idiot when I did. Why? I was thinking how naff the food was, how the effort was, perhaps unnecessary and how old fashioned I was. She was grateful but it still felt a little weird.

I love reading stories and watching shows set in small communities. Gilmore Girls is the perfect example of a community living in each others’ pockets, helping out when even the slightest thing goes wrong. The whole town turns out for a cat’s funeral, they try and make the mother the biggest pizza ever, there is a dog’s funeral that is very well attended and they farewell one of their town kids with a massive party in pouring rain with speeches, sashes and the school band.

Then there’s Anne of Green Gables where a huge effort is made when the minister visits. They make their own currant wine and pies and milk their cows and spend precious time talking about the lives of all around them.

Perhaps the key is time. It seems like the world is like one of those wind-up toys. Click, click, click… around we go… things getting tighter and more stressful and more intense. Perhaps, like the toy, some one is going to let go and we’re going to spin out of control and land where we began. In community, in simplicity, in long dresses, with cows and veges and time.

I love it when writers, directors, actors etc hit that sweet spot. You know those scenes from your favourite TV shows that take it from good to incredible? Ah. There are some brilliant scenes that have made me fall deeply, madly into addiction with some series. Here they are. They may not be your cuppa tea but to me they are pure gold!

1. Gilmore Girls – This scene is perfecto! It depicts family life in such a dramatic, humorous and ‘real’ way. I loved it! My number 1!!!

2. Arrested Development – One of the best comedies of all time! Which scene to choose? My husbands all time favourite scene is the following. The Bluth family are trying to sell land to Japanese investors. They use a train set to trick them into thinking building has already begun. Throw in a few misunderstandings and ridiculous props and you’ve got yourself a great scene!
3. Community – Oh my new love! This is a quirky little number starring a whole heap of unknowns and Chevy Chase! It’s a little silly sometimes but I love the characters, especially Ahbed and Troy who do these funny little bits at the end of every episode! Here’s a pearler:
4. 30 Rock – This series can be hit and miss sometimes but when it gets it right it’s down right hilarious! Go Liz Lemon.One of the best characters is Doctor Spaceman (pronounced Spachee man) who is less doctor and more um madman! Hilarious. And you can’t go past a Tina Fey dance routine!
5. ER – On a more serious note we head to the ER where every episode is guaranteed to make you cry. This one was particularly disturbing. When one of the ER docs died they had to wheel him through the corridors he used to walk in front of all his colleagues… gut wrenching but incredible TV.
It’s so hard to choose the best scene from any fav TV show! What are some of your favs?

Image by Anna Cervova

To work or not to work. When does a stay at home mum look like a bum? Oprah all day, trackies and numerous cups of tea, when oh when is she going to get a REAL job? And then you have the mums that are criticised for going back to work, daycare yadda yadda yadda.

It’s not the men who are critical, it is other mothers. We look, we judge, we tisk our way through our coffees as we watch bottle fed bubbas and breastfeeding toddlers with equal distain. We look at those yummy mummies in their designer clothes, their babies dressed in identical ‘label’ gear and our tisk comes out again! The subtext being, “lucky ducks, why can’t I wear classy clothes, why doesn’t my child look funky?”

The older mothers forget what it is like to have babies who spew on your nice, ironed clothes while you are running out the door. They forget about what it is like to step on toys and feel like you’re going insane when you have to ask your children to do the same darn thing everyday over and over again. They forget that kid houses are messy houses and that is just that! And that it is hard to keep on top of everything including manners, behaviour and the washing!

Then there are the single ladies who can’t understand why life simply can’t go on for the new mums. Sure, you don’t get much sleep but you don’t have to keep yourself locked away inside, do you? Can’t you just come out for a wee little drinky? It can’t be that hard hanging around in jarmies, no where to go, no one to answer to except a screaming child. That’s not real living… is it?

It seems that mothers and former mothers can be so harsh on each other. There’s the snack comparisons and the endless list of activities (my kid’s going to be smarter than yours) there’s the tv viewing (if they’re sick and grumpy it is ok to have the tv on all day you know) the clothing, the toys, the playdates, the parties, the reading, the intelligence, the skills, the naughtiness, the goodness the comparisons go on and on and on. From birth to death, the competition is hot!

Look at how grown parents talk about their grown kids, “So and so is at blah blah university, married with a hundred kids a full time career and a house in the vines, yes they’re doing so well, we’re so proud of them”! Which is fine if you’re not trying to out-do your parent buddies.

It’s quite shocking really to  see the depth of competition between women. This stemmed from an angry article in The Sydney Morning Herald from one mum to another. Especially in the public arena you are open for criticism by those who self-suppose they know better! Why can’t we all just get along and be encouraging. Afterall, people make their own decisions and have to deal with the consequences themselves. It’s got nothing to do with us!

http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/baby/baby-blog/an-open-letter-to-pru-goward-20110404-1cvyw.html

Image by Tony Peters

Say I’m in a foul mood, dark thoughts drift in and out. My mind is filled with ‘grump’ and I just cannot seem to shift it. Frustration rises as I realise the effect I’m having on those around me, the grump intesifies and I’m on the verge of an all out explosion. What to do? Gilmore Girls.

I don’t know why this show affects me like it does but every time, without fail, it cheers me up. It touches something in me deep down, beyond the muck and the growl of the day and makes it come alive. I think it’s the desire to belong, to have a place in the world and when you’re in the ‘depths of despair’ you feel alone.

Gilmore Girls is all about community. Not a perfect place where everyone is normal and gets along but a small New England town where everyone’s nose is firmly planted in each others’ business and that’s how they like it. It’s a sort of democratic town with regular meetings that the townsfolk vote on important things like whether the town troubadour is ok, or if the old town troubadour is allowed to sell fruit and veges in the main square.

Even the harshest of people has their place like the Korean sergeant major mother who sells antique furniture. She is beloved and accepted, warts and all. The townsfolk simply work with what they have. They genuinely care about each other. One of my favourite scenes is Babette’s cat’s wake. The whole town turns up to celebrate Cinnamon’s life in Bab’s tiny house. Food is served, music is sung, tears are shed. You can only understand the importance of Cinnamon if you live in this town, no one else understands.

Then there’s Lorelai and Lorelai (Rory), a single mother and daughter who have been embraced by this crazy place. Lorelai snr has a string of failed relationships, a cool jeep and a head for business. She can be rude and demanding but once again, the town accepts her and loves her for who she is. Drama seems to follow her wherever she goes, but that’s cool, daddy, she’s Lorelai, that’s just how she is!

In reality, our community experience isn’t tight knit. It’s like we’ve given ourselves permission to care from a distance, not to get too involved. And that’s partly a shame. It would be irritating having people spying on you, knowing every fight or tear you have but it is nice to be known as well. There’s something special about being completely accepted for who you are within a bunch of fellow misfits. It’s a place you can be yourself and know you are always home.

Someone was saying the other day that the ‘Babyboomers’ and ‘X’/’Y’ generations are more selfish than those that came before them. Some have more money, others want everything now and think that life will serve them up a platter of roses out of all their um… rubbish!

We look at how our parents raised us and balk at doing some of the same things but happily adopt others. You can look at advertising telling the Baby Boomers to spend their children’s inheritance whereas generations past work their butts off to provide for their families, so they were set up for generations to come. Gen Y has had a terrible rap recently about how impatient they are to get ‘things’ with their so-called poor work ethic. And for those Gen X-ers in the middle who are mostly parents now, well we just can’t seem to grow up!

Is the world really in such a terrible shape with the people of today? Nup! I think humanity is selfish and scared and always has been. Sure, from gen to gen it has looked different but people are people, no matter what culture or from which part of history you dig back to.

Today journalist Elizabeth Farrelly wrote a damning article about the state of women and mothers in this day and age (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/your-chicks-or-your-career-do-you-really-want-what-hes-having-20110316-1bx75.html). It’s all about the present attitude of people who want it all: career, children, travel, success etc without stopping to think about what ‘all of it’ means. It is truthful and insightful and a little, wee bit controversial. But someone has to say it!

In some ways I think the present generation is parenting better than any that came before it but in another way, we are totally failing our kids. The truth is you can’t have it all. Parenting means sacrifice and often it is the kids that are sacrificed for the career. It’s a hard thing to say but what kind of generation will grow up if they haven’t been given the time or attention that they need to learn right from wrong? Time will tell, but I’m telling you, I’m scared!

I’m not singling out the single parents or others that NEED to work, it’s just the ones that choose it over the very serious responsibility of parenthood. Afterall, who is bringing up child if the parents are not?

I was talking last night with a group of local ‘mummies’ about the world as it is. We collectively reminisced about the ‘good ole days’ when we could all happily walk to school by ourselves without much hassle.

There was talk about the local policeman whom everyone knew by name. You couldn’t get in trouble with him, that would just be embarrassing. It was a time when everyone knew what kids were up to. They looked out for each other. Kids dobbed on kids, parents reported back to other parents and everyone was kept under control. It was a wild time, too, of no seatbelts, kids left in cars while the mothers did their weekly shopping. Strollers parked out the front of supermarkets while the parent ducked in for some cheese and biscuits!

Now we can’t hug kids in schools when they’re hurt, Police powers are restricted and everyone has to book a time in the week to borrow a cup of sugar. Our children’s hands are sanitized, their battles fought with lawyers instead of sensible conversation and the leaders of our communities have their hands tied by parents in denial.

People are set on fire at parties, bashed in the street and break ins are no longer seen as an emergency.

I left the night feeling rather dull in the head. So depressing. Has the world gone mad? Are all our kids doomed to walk the cold and unforgiving streets hounded by drug lords and ladies? Is it safe for our little ones to walk to school on their own? Can their hands stand getting dirty? Are we a bunch of paranoid parents or has the world gone festy and dark?

We agreed on a balanced view. Freedom with responsibility, street savvy kids who know they are loved and accepted at home. Kids who can stand on their feet and take responsibility for their actions. A new breed, we hope.

Categories