Saturday, May 29, 2010

You will never be merely pretty.

Oh wow. I just found this site, Consumption Rebellion (which is awesome!) and on it, this amazing piece from poetry slammer Katie Makkai.

Given all that I have spoken about in regards to my angst when I think about how I am going to counter-act all the shameless, insidious poision in society and the media and convince my darling, clever, funny, kind and, yes, gorgeous girl that she is not only beautiful just the way she is, but that is is worth far more than just her appearance anyway, well, I just had to share this.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

A sad farewell

I am putting my dog to sleep tomorrow.

Not the dog we have now, who guest posted a little while back, but Chloe, a dog I had before I moved to Brisbane and got married. She stayed behind on my parent's property, as a suburban backyard is no place for a Kelpie, especially when we would be out all day.

She is nearly 15 now, practically blind and almost completely deaf. She also suffered a series of strokes a while back, and the toll they have taken on her balance and mobility is now getting worse. All told, it's time - she is no longer comfortable, she's in pain a lot and it's not fair on her to prolong it any more.

So my head knows all this, but would someone please tell my heart?

Chloe was one of those truly good dogs you are lucky to know (amazingly, so is Scout, our current family dog). I got her from the Animal Welfare pound here on the Gold Coast, and from the minute she choose me, I was hooked. I truly believe the right dog for you will choose you, I was actually playing with some other puppies, non-working dog breeds like I wanted, when Chloe trotted straight up and sat herself in my lap. We were told at the time she was a Kelpie / German Shepard cross, but as she grew it was obvious she was a Kelpie/Staffy cross. She had the loyalty both breeds are famous for, as evidenced when we got her home. We put her out on the verandah, as we had never been a dogs-inside-the-house family. Chloe jumped the barricade, slipped her collar, squeezed through gaps and generally refused to accept that her place was anywhere other than at my feet. At the same time, she knew exactly who to charm to get this happening, she had my tough old Dad wrapped around her paw within a few hours.

Even as a puppy, she was desperate to please. She never chewed anything other than her toys, only ever dug one hole, and when she got yelled at for it, never did it again.

As I wasn't working at this time, Chloe spent nearly all her time with me, she was my shadow, and I could take her anywhere. If I walked into a shop or what have you, she would wait outside until I came out. We used to joke that I could go on holiday and she would wait outside the airport.

Unless you're a dog person, you won't understand, but I felt, and still feel, such a bond with her, she was a wonderful companion and a great listener. There's nothing like the feeling of knowing all she wanted was to be with you, to receive that unconditional love. I never like to compare animals to people, or refer to them as 'children', but I really felt like we were a team, she was a big part of my family.

Because she was a working dog, she had a lot of energy, and a very quick brain. Kelpies need a job to do, something to occupy them, so I took her to obedience and agility classes. She excelled at these, and became famous in the family for some of her tricks. My father has a very bad back, so he taught her (within a day) that whenever he dropped anything (a spoon, a lighter, etc.), she would dart in, pick it up and give it to him. She was obsessed with fetching a ball, it was her absolute favourite thing to do, but if I told her to stay put, you could bounce one right in front of her nose, and she'd ignore it. And even when she was playing fetch, if you said to her, "This is the last one", she would know the game was over and wouldn't chase it.

I would often take her to the beach with my friend M, who had young children. Chloe would spend endless hours gently herding the kids back to us, stopping them from running too far down the beach, and keeping them in front of where we sat with the baby.

She was terrified of our neighbours flock of geese, but when my sister was feeding them and they got quite aggressive, she ran over and threw herself into the flock, scattering them and getting a few nasty bites in the process no doubt.

Chloe has lived a life full of loyalty, love, fun and freedom, and I am already crying typing this, so I have no idea how I'm going to go tomorrow, but I know I have to be the one to be there with her, and thank her for all she's done for me. I wish I had a photo of her on my computer, or a scanner, as I'd love to show her to you. There's a great photo of her and I, taken on the morning of an obedience class, where she is looking straight at the photographer and I swear you can see her pure heart shining out of her eyes. I've been meaning to get a copy of it for ages and put it up, and I feel bad that it's taken having to say goodbye to her to get me around to it.

So, if you're the type, please say a quick prayer tomorrow morning, as the angels in doggy-heaven get their throwing arms ready.

Also , if anyone has any ideas on how to explain this to a three-year old, I would really appreciate any tips.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is this like cheating on your blog?

Well, I've been very naughty, neglecting my own blog to write for another!! It's like e-adultery, isnt it!!!

If you can bring yourself to forgive me, I am back at Sharnanigans tonight, talking about how becoming a mother has changed me and set me on this path of discovery. It seems like I have a regular gig there now, which I am totally excited about. I love Sharni's website, and I love being part of it as we all work together to figure out this motherhood / spirituality thing.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Friend or fear?

"I'm my daughter's best friend."

This is the statement that bought a girlie catch-up I was at recently to a screeching halt. The woman speaking has a teenage daughter, and a quite permissive relationship with her, something that has been commented on by us to her before.

She stated this in the context that she was never going to be able to stop her daughter getting up to all the hi-jinks she did as a kid; drinking, going off with boys, experimenting with drugs etc., so she would rather have the kind of relationship where her daughter felt safe enough to talk to her about anything she got up to.

Another friend of mine, with a daughter the same age, piped up with, "Well, I'd rather my daughter was scared enough of me she didn't do it in the first place".

Many swift and silent glances were exchanged between the rest of us, quickly followed by a quick gulp of champagne as we gleefully settled in to watch the fireworks fly. I know, terrible aren't we?

Suffice to say, a spirited exchange of views ensued.

It got me thinking though, about the type of parent I want to be as my daughter grows older and hits those perilous teenage years. I think the groundwork for these years is being laid even now at three years old. My Gorgeous Girl really is a pretty good kid, but she can really turn it on when she's feeling feisty; backchat, tantrums, throwing, hitting out at me - you name it.

And already I have decided: I don't want to be her friend.

I want to be her Mum. I want her to realise just how slavishly devoted to her I am, how desperately I love her... and that I will not hesitate to send her to her room when she's acting bratty.

I would love to have the kind of relationship when she's older where she will still feel she can talk to me about whatever is going on in her life, but I think there needs to be a background of respect there, and that starts now. She will learn she can trust me, there is nothing she can do that will make me love her less, but that she will be held accountable for her behaviour, she will know what is right and what is wrong, and I will expect her to make good choices. When she doesn't make good choices, I'll be there to help her fix it, but she will have to take responsibility for her actions. God, I hope I can live up to this ideal in reality.

I remember back to when I was a teenager (and a bit of a hellraiser myself). I had friends with Mums who wanted to be liked by their daughters as a friend, rather than loved like a Mother. Although now my relationship with my Mum is more like friendship, back then she also wasn't interested in being my friend; she was my Mum. As much as I loved her, wholeheartedly, and knew she loved me, she wasn't scared of saying no and having me hate her (briefly) for it. Thank God. I got up to a fair bit of trouble as a kid, was never into drugs luckily, but did the whole teenage rebellion thing fairly well. I shudder to think what I would've done had I not been terrified of the wrath of my parents!

I had a friend at the time, the only child of quite eldery parents, who were so grateful to have a child, they let her get away with anything. She was boasting to me once about how her parents were about as tough as bunny rabbits; they let her go out late at night, aged 14, to meet up with older boys, they never questioned what she got up to, where she was going, or even whose house she actually stayed over at when she said she was at mine. As she was boasting about this, all I remember thinking was, "God, don't they care about you at all?".

So, for me, my views on motherhood are a bit less bunny-like and more like a lioness: I will love you fiercely, I will fight tooth and nail to protect you and I will raise you to be a mighty creature to be reckoned with in your own right, but I will also not hesitate to roar at you and show my claws when needed.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Homecoming Queen

After 210 days, multiple 'knockdowns', being de-masted, eating horrible tinned food and managing not to run into any more container ships, Jessica Watson has single-handedly sailed herself around the world. At 16.

Simply amazing.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Some of you may remember this post I wrote about her father's comment in the lead up to her world-record breaking journey that he would rather see her dead than deny her her dream. I reckon all the (deserved) hoopla now surrounding Jessica will just convince this dickhead that he was right to feel that way. And that really pisses me off, justifying that sort of glib, irresponsible parenting. Grrr...

But back to Jessica, let's ignore her wanker Dad and think about what it must of taken her to achieve this feat.

First of all, when she announced she was going to attempt this journey - oh, as an aside, can someone please remind all the reality TV shows, that this is what a 'journey' is - she was immediately scorned by doubters, both from the professional sailing world and the armchair experts around the country. Unfortunately, this is somewhat of an Aussie thing, the Tall Poppy Syndrome, when someone wants to rise above, there is a tendency by some to want to cut them back down, to fit in with the rest, to just be average. It's one of the things about Australia of which I am definitely not proud.

Jessica was undeterred. I remember at the time finding her a little bit smug. Well, maybe, or maybe she was simply convinced that she could do this thing, and all the negative words just rolled over her, as insignificant as a single drop in her beloved sea.

Then of course, she collided with a container ship, barely a week into her journey, and had to wait while her yacht was repaired to start again.

Think back to when you were 16.

Can you imagine taking that kind of blow to your confidence, to your dream, and simply continuing on? Wouldn't you feel like you'd made a massive mistake? It would be so easy to let all the doubters crowing and revelling in your misfourtune erode your confidence.

Again, Jessica kept her mouth shut and simply continued on.

Isn't it interesting how, now that she has succeeded in her journey, these incidences are just part of her remarkable spirt, her confidence in herself. Had she been unable to complete this record feat, those same incidences would be hailed as 'proof' she wasn't up to it. I guess the parts are defined by the overall success or failure of the whole.

I really hope that the other 16 year olds, currently laying around on the couch, endlessly Facebooking each other and ignoring their parents plantive cries to get up for God's sake and do something with their lives, are inspired by Jessica's passion and determination, and find something they too can feel as strongly about.

And I really hope Jessica goes on to do more amazing and inspiring feats. After all, can you imagine your whole life peaking at 16?


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blogging in the Buff!

As soon as I read Jodie's post over at Mummy Mayhem, I knew I had to take up the challenge!

If you haven't read it (though you really should) she talks about what sort of message are we sending when we refuse to be seen without makeup? Is it simpy pride in your appearance, or an inability to accept our true selves and love ourselves for us, just as we are?

She also talks about the fad of magazines printing "Stars Without Their Makeup" specials. These have always interested me, like it's some sort of amazing, ultra-unusual thing for a woman, no matter how famous, to be seen without makeup. The stories are always pitched in a gasp-in-shock sort of style, like we shouldn't think it's normal to wear only your skin on your face.

Sure, sometimes it's nice to be reminded that only rarely do those women who you often compare yourself to (and find yourself lacking) actually look like that, and usually it's not just makeup, but a whole lot of airbrushing that gets them to that state, but it still rankles me that they are presented in such a voyueristic fashion, like we should be shocked and titilated to see such a thing.

Which is why Kate Walsh is my new hero. She recently attended a movie premier, red carpet appearance and all, with no makeup on! She twittered beforehand that she simply hadn't had time to get all made up, so went without. I think she looked gorgeous, she obviously has beautiful skin, and I would kill for her jawline.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

There's been some discussion that she appears to have some under-eye concealer on, and she is no doubt a Botox devotee, so she's not really au naturel, but I think for a Hollywood actress to go to an actual red carpet event with anything less than full war-paint is a spectacular statement about beauty, and self-confidence. Good on her.

I'm not saying makeup is a bad thing, I certainly wear it to special events, and usually even to work. It's funny that I referred to it by the colloqiualism war-paint just then, because I tend to use makeup for exactly that; it can be my armour. If I know I am going to be facing a situation that makes me nervous, or where I will be the focus of attention for any reason, I will wear a lot of makeup, with strong, bold colours to give me a sense of strength and boldness.

Why I feel like a few layers of foundation and mascara will make me smarter, quicker, more patient and eloquent is beyond me, though maybe not to anyone who has studied the effects of a looks based society on a teenage girl with self-image issues.

And here is the crux of the matter.

A few months ago, as I was getting ready for work, my own little Gorgeous Gal was sitting on the bed, watching me put my makeup on.

"Mummy, why you put on your makeup?"

"Uhh..." I had one of those moments we have as parents where several answers immediately come to mind, but you automatically censor them as you see how the conversation would continue. The obvious answer that came to me was, "To make me look pretty", but then I could almost hear her wonder to herself if she wasn't wearing makeup, did that mean she wasn't pretty?

Or I could've answered, "Because I don't like how my cheeks are always red, and I want to cover it up", and watched her little face cloud over as she remembers all the times I have delighted in the very same rosy tint to her cheeks and wonders if I really loved it after all.

I really had no good answer. Why did I wear this stuff?

In the end I stammered out an answer about it meaning I was taking going to work seriously (I know, WTF right??) and changed the subject.

And this is when she's three! What's going to happen as she gets older, starts examining her own self-image. What's going to happen when she inevitably starts comparing herself to her school friends and whoever the latest tween poppet is? What's going to happen when she starts reading Dolly magazine for Christ's sake? How can I tell my daughter that she is more than beautiful, just as she is?

How can I help her love herself just as she is, when I can't do it myself?

The issue of how I can teach her she is more than just how she looks is another issue entirely, but something I am working on. Yes, already. I want to get to her before the damn media does.

Since becoming a Mum, there have been more and more days where I simply haven't had the time or inclination to put on a full face of makeup, or even a swipe of lip gloss come to that. I would initially feel like I had come down to the shops naked. I felt insecure and frumpy. Suprisingly, nobody reeled in horror, or went shrieking down the aisles. Not once was I mistaken for the Swamp Thing.

Now, more often than not, I am bare-faced. My husband actually thinks I look younger when I don't wear any makeup. I am finally comfortable in myself. Well, from the neck up anyway, I'm still not happy in my body, I want it to be healthier and yes, slimmer than it is, but I still love it for what it can do. I have made peace with the ever-present dark circles under my eyes (I've always had them, they're not a tiredness or toxin thing), the blemishes I hardly ever got as a teenager but who are making up for it now, and my good Celtic skin that flushes beet-red at the slightest hint of exertion or emotion.

I'm hoping that through my example (and tireless brainwashing) GG will realise that you don't need a layer of makeup to face the world, and certainly not some beauty product with it's ridiculous pseudo-scientific and completely bogus claims to be beautiful. You just need to be healthy, confident that you are more than your looks, happy with who you are as a person, and your inner beauty will shine through. Of course, it doesn't hurt that GG is, in fact gorgeous.

So, after all my blah, blah, blahing: here it is, my example to my daughter... me in my natural state, no makeup, no hairstyling (and also no top of my head - sorry about that, taking your own photo is hard!)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

You know, I could sit here and point out all the faults and flaws I think I see, but actually, I think I look fine.


Dare to Bare - Come and get naked with me!!

This is a flat out, throw-down-the-gauntlet challenge to all you women out there.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Via Kristen at Wanderlust, I came across the lovely Jodie at Mummy Mayhem and her post that has started snowballing throughout my blogroll; Bloggers Without Their Makeup.

This is a subject close to my heart, not just because of those horrible magazines who photo-shop already skinny girls til they practically don't exist, and correct every 'flaw' in their skin til they resemble a cartoon character, but because it hits quite close to home.

I'll elaborate more in my "Naked Post" tomorrow, but it's all about loving our true selves, and showing that acceptance of ourselves to a vunerable and impressionalbe next generation.

So - I'll be joining in, will you? And don't think you need a blog of your own to post shots of yourself sans makeup, I, being the incredibly generous soul that I am, will happily post your photo here, if you're game enough to show your true self to the world. Just send it to me here.

Get naked and get blogging!


I'm over here today!

The lovely Sharni at Sharnanigans has asked me to do a guest post on her fabulous blog.

I love Sharni's website, we started blogging about the same time and both discovered each other almost immediately. In her I sense a kindred spririt, someone who is excited to discover this new world of motherhood she finds herself in, and explore her spirituality along with it.

So go check it out, and show her what awesome followers I have!!!

Oh, and P.S., tomorrow I'll be back here, and I'll be in the buff!!! Curious? Stay tuned....


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh, Mother!

Sunday is Mothers Day here, and of course, all week my letterbox has been bombarded with catalouges full of 'gift ideas'.

Apparently though, as a Mother, the only things I must be in need of are slippers, dressing gowns, cooking utensils (can you imagine... "Here Mum, just to reinforce that the only thing you do around here is fill up the trough, here's a frypan." I see a frypan-erectomy resulting from that scenario), music by either Andre Rieu or Susan Boyle or a chintzy little tea mug.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Umm... exactly what sort of profile are Mothers getting these days? Even my mother sneers at the assumed interests of 'her set'. Frankly, she'd rather be dancing than knitting, cares not a jot for houseplants, and whilst she thinks mad old Sue has a great voice, would rather listen to Duffy.

As for the 20- and 30-something Mums out there, where's our catalouge? The one with cool, funky stuff that doesn't buy into the notion that the minute we produce another human, we forfeit all rights to having a lifestyle and interests on par with our non-human producing peers.

For the record, here's what I, a 32 year old Mum, would like for Mothers Day (Hubby, your ears should have pricked up right about now):

Tickets to Powderfinger's last ever concert in their hometown of Brisbane. Bernard, I heart you.

A signed first edition of To Kill A Mockingbird.

A day at a spa.

One of those funky silver necklaces where you put your child's thumbprint in the charm.

Enough moolah to go buy a great pair of black ankle boots for this winter.

This t-shirt:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Doncha love it?

And of course, a full nights sleep and the eternal gratitude of my child.

Actually, I kind of would like some of those cute Davenport home socks. Well, the tiles do get cold...

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Just don't tell the catalouge people, okay?


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sometimes a lack of vanity is a bad thing...

Note to Self: It is in fact possible to take budgetary cutback measures too far. Just because cutting your own fringe was a success, does in no way mean cutting your skanky dead ends off with the kitchen scissors will be a similar success.

Lesson learned: The next time you get completely sick of the frizzy, split end riddled last few inches of your hair and dealing with a big knot of dead ends, learn some bloody patience and wait til you can go to an actual hairdresser, rather than lop the bloody thing off.

Looks like I'll be continuing to wear it scrunched up in a messy bun, if only to hide the uneven ends, let alone the couple of chunks missing!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

First post flashback - I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by Corrine over at A Day in the Life to participate in a meme where we go back and re-visit our first ever blog post.

The idea is to see how far we've come, do we still write in the same manner etc., and examine why we started blogging in the first place.

I had been thinking about writing a blog for quite awhile before I actually put finger to keypad. My very tech-savvy sister had gotten me into the whole thing by sharing some of the blogs she followed, and it had stirred up a rememberance for my love of writing.

Plus, having recently become a Mum, I was incenced at all the bullshit out there that targeted mothers and parenting in general. So much conflicting advice, condescending "experts" and playgroup bitches out to judge your choices to feel better about their own.

Being plagued with self-doubt though, I assumed no-one would want to read my drivel and shelved the whole idea. Then a few people started interrupting my ranting and telling me I should write a blog. Then a few more. Then I decided that when the 10th person who didn't know I wanted to write a blog told me that I should, I would. They did, so I did.

I've got to tell you, even though my blog-frequency has waned of late, it is something I still really love and has saved my sanity a few times. Often I'm not even sure what I am going to say on a certain topic until I see it come from my fingertips onto the page. Certain posts have taken on a life of their own, and some have even come to me practically complete as I've lain in bed vainly trying to get to sleep. The fact that I've gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to get a post down is something I'm not sure I'm proud of or embarrassed by!

Blogging has helped me clarify my thoughts, explore my opinions, vent my frustrations, ponder my place in the Universe and meet some clever, charming, funny and just plain strange people!!

So without further ado.. my first foray into the blog-o-sphere...

Parenting and other sins

It seems just about everything we do with our children is causing them harm these days, doesn't it? Let them watch 10 minutes of Dora warbling away so you can have a shower, oops, you've stunted their IQ. Don't let them see a TV until they're 16, oh, you deprived them of so much educational opportunity! Smack them, you're a monster, don't smack them, they'll turn into little monsters themselves.

Is it just me, or have we lost our common sense? We are so desperate to "get it right", that we'll listen to anyone with an opinion, regardless of whether they have any expertise or, more importantly, any children themselves.

One of the hardest things I had to get used to when I had my Gorgeous Girl, was that loss of confidence in myself. I went from someone who was very good at my job, had clear opinions on pretty much everything, and felt capable to take on anything. Then I had GG and realised that I knew nothing. My most important job, and I had no qualifications, no experience (Irealised quickly nieces/nephews and friend's kids do not, in fact, give you a "taste" of parenthood) and no confidence in my ability. Luckily, I quickly regained my confidence that I was the best person to take care of GG, and I like to think I've done a pretty good job so far. She's certainly so delightful it makes it easy to think so.

I'm also lucky in that I have a lot of family support, and that they've respected the parenting decisions I've made, even if they haven't agreed with them. Big lucky there.

Trolling around on the internet (where I do all my important research), I noticed something... In our grandparents era, strictness was Godliness. Babies were to conform to a sleep routine, play mostly by themselves in a playpen or cot with just a few basic toys, and believe it or not, formula was seen as a scientific improvement on breastmilk. Then the pendulum seems to have swung the other way, and it was the complete opposite, feed on demand, and it better be breastmilk, sleep in a family bed, wear your baby in a sling and be at their beck and call within seconds of every whimper. Phew.

Could it be that this pendulum is still swinging, even if the arcs are getting smaller? When will we get to the middle ground, where parents feel they can make decisions about their own family and others will say "Great, glad it works for you." Obviously, some decisions are never OK - smoking when pregnant, abuse, driving drunk and getting 3 yr olds high are always going to be big no-no's, but really, is a bit of TV really so bad for kids? Will every child who has been allowed a bit of ice-cream be obese at age 30? Will a smack on a nappy-padded bottom by a loving parent really scar you for life?

I'd love to hear what you think...

There you have it folks. Oh, and if you're reading this, tag, you're it!!