24 December 2015

Advertising and altruism. A Christmas Tale.

Being a self-confessed bleeding heart lefty with socialist leanings (that works non-ironically in the field of brand and marketing), I have schooled my daughters to recognise advertising with more vigour than I have schooled them to eat their vegetables. This has resulted into two adorable children who know what advertising is, wants the thing anyway, and can’t be bribed into eating peas or potatoes no matter what.

Thinking I would be able to get them to understand the complexities of advertising and how it can be a force for good, not just for kinetic sand and Barbie dolls, I put our collective hands in the air recently to donate our time and their cute faces to the World Vision photo shoot, raising awareness for their Christmas gift campaign. What a brilliant opportunity I thought to myself, to have them see behind the scenes of ‘an advertisement’, coupled with a cause we actively support in our household.



Because my darling daughters are only five and THREEANDAHALF, I pitched it to them in the way I believed would best articulate the importance of doing good deeds to help raise awareness of other good deeds. Like all parents with children going through the ‘Why?’ stage, I asked “Wanna go see some goats on Friday?”

That said, having got their agreement to pose with a supermodel, frolic with goats and lambs, hold wee chickens and converse with a donkey, I really wanted them to understand WHY we were doing it.  And this is where it always gets tricky.

Super models and Jessica Gomez
Despite my clearly magnificent spiel that articulated every key point in splendid and all-inclusive detail – they still had more questions than is possible to field in the life span of the average human.

“But why do people need goats to help them live?”
“Why don’t their mums or dads give them goats?”
“Why doesn’t their childcare centre share their eggs like ours do?”
“What do you mean not everybody goes to school? WHAT ABOUT THE LAW?”
“What do you mean people don’t have lights to do their reading by? WHAT IF THEY GET SCARED OF MONSTERS?”
“If it’s an advertisement to help kids why isn’t Jay Laga’aia coming? He likes kids.”
“Why can’t somebody loan them some pencils?”
“I don’t fink vacca-nashuns are a good present Mummy. They poke you with NEEDLES.”

Our end result is that the five year old explained earnestly to her younger sister that no, they are still not allowed to get a cat but these other kids were allowed to have goats because of an advertisement and that we were going to have to buy some chickens as presents because not every childcare centre shares their eggs. And Jay won’t be there because he’s busy, so the fashion lady is coming instead.

To which the younger replied, “Okay. What colour goats shall we choose?”

I’m not sure that it’s exactly the elevator pitch World Vision can use in their next advertising campaign, and I know that teaching my daughters to live compassionate lives will be an ongoing thing, but there is no mistaking the joy they took in perusing the gift website this week and choosing animals and gifts they thought children like them would like.

Children just like them.

In the end it’s such a simple decision to support the work of World Vision. Every time.

Merry Christmas everybody. 
May you give a little, get a little, and say 
"A goat! Just what I always wanted" at least once. 


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21 December 2015

Bloody Christmas!

I love Christmas. I love birthdays. I basically love everything that means we get to celebrate positive things so sometimes I even like to celebrate Wednesdays, the occasional Tuesday and at a push Monday mornings about 10am.

I even love the wrapping of gifts, the giving of gifts and the sheer conspicuous consumptive glee that comes with knowing that Santa may have bought somebody a Barbie campervan and somebody else the Baby Alive doll that they wanted MOST OF ANYTHING EVER. Because Santa is a soft touch and doesn't care who knows it.

Plus - we make our children give away unwanted toys still in splendid nick (see what I did there) before their birthdays and Christmas to people that might not have the same opportunities as them, which has the dual purpose of actually being a good thing to do and assuaging some of the Catholic guilt that sits alongside conspicuous consumptive glee.

Nobody is ever purely altruistic.  Altruism generally makes you feel good so it can't be entirely altruistic.  The conundrum eh? The sheer bloody conundrum of revelling in capitalistic opportunity while being a bleeding heart lefty do-gooder.

Speaking of bleeding.... *

This month in addition to celebrating making it to 41 years of age despite all the excellent decisions I have made throughout my life (sarcasm peeps, sarcasm), I also racked up 25 years of blood donations. I know. They sent one of the admin guys to thank me personally and give me a second milkshake during my last donation so I'm winning on all fronts really.

Back in the olden days, my mother celebrated all of our sweet sixteen birthdays by taking us out, getting us free milkshakes and making us donate a pint of our blood. Meaning that all of us have an impressive array of needle-marks in the crease of our left arms that could have us featuring us as a headline in The Daily Telegraph should they get desperate for click bait.

That said, I look back at the 25 years of blood donations in three different countries, bar gaps for breeding, malaria medication, tattoos, navel piercing and the odd operation, and I'm pretty pleased with myself. There is something very satisfying about donating blood - it feels useful in a way that very few other things do.

They haven't taken my whole blood for a while, so to make sure I still get my milkshakes, I have been giving plasma which has the added bonus of making you feel a bit high and letting you have a small morning nap every fortnight as they pump blood in and out of your arm which is a positive result for everybody I feel.

Even though I am O negative. BOOM TISH.

Oh come on, that was funny. And it's basically the best blood in the world because everybody can have it so even my blood type supports my utopian socialist views.  No wonder I'm annoying.

But the irony (honestly - I'm punning all over the place today) is that the period of gleeful capitalist consumption is also the time when blood supplies become most critical.  And so on the night before Christmas (well actually the morning), I'm taking my arm into the blood bank and giving them a bag of my finest.

Which should free up space nicely for conspicuous consumption of food and alcohol the next day.

It really is the gift that keeps on giving!

Take this as the least subtle hint I've EVER made. #notsponsored #iamjustannoying


* I freely acknowledge the breathtakingly brazen laziness of such a segue - many apologies


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14 December 2015

The Shame Game

Blood is thicker than water. That's what they say isn't it?

You can always count on your family. They say that too.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That's a particular favourite isn't it?

Am I allowed to cry bullshit on behalf of those that can't?

I have friends who over the years have shared stories which are beyond my comprehension.  Not just because of the abuse involved, but because of the response they received from the people they trusted to help them.

Here's a sample from my own circles - 

One friend told her mother when she was about ten that her brother was sexually and physically abusing her and her mother replied 'Boys will be boys'.

Another friend in her late teens told her mother that her father had been sexually abusing her since before she started school and was told 'That God forgave him so she should too.'

One told her parents that her grandfather had raped her during a sleepover and her mother said 'If you tell your friends nobody will want to play with you.' She was six.

One told told her parents about how her grandfather had been abusing her and was told to keep it quiet 'because she would never get a husband if they found out she wasn't a virgin'. She was 12.

One friend told his mother that her boyfriend had raped him while she was away and she kicked him out of the house for being gay.  He wasn't. He was 13.

And the stories go on.  In the cases above - the expectation was on the survivor to maintain a relationship with their abuser and say nothing.  

Their families were outraged when they spoke up eventually. When they were adults and found the strength to fight back.

But strangely, they were not outraged at the abuser. Not at the guilty party. Not at the person who violated the child.

"How dare you air the family's dirty laundry like that?"
"How dare you?"
"Who do you think you are?"
"What will people think of you?"

And most importantly - "what will people think of us????"

When you're told something like this for the first time, you feel that the person telling you must have got it wrong. Surely they misunderstood? Surely the mum meant to say 'God might have forgiven him but when I get my hands on the son of a bitch he's not going to have a penis any more?'  

Or words to that effect. 

Or even if they got it horribly wrong when they first heard. Shock. Denial. Anger. They can cloud our thinking, impair our judgement. Surely, once they had a think about things, they'd apologise and support them. Give them love, shelter them, remove them from risk. Support them. Get them professional help. Report the abuser.

Help them to understand they they have nothing of which to be ashamed? 

In these cases. Not once. Not once. 

"Grow up".
"Get over it".
"It happened so long ago."
"Why now?"
"What difference will it make?"
"How do I even know this shit is true?"

In all of these cases, as angry as the abuse makes me, the element that gets me inarticulate with rage, shaking with impotent fury, is the response of the families and the burden on the abuse survivors not to shame the families by seeking justice, or speaking out in any way.

Perhaps that is now in part because I'm a parent now myself and I think I would be incandescent with anger and a desire for justice if my child was hurt in any way.  But in truth, the fury was there when I heard the first of these stories over twenty years ago.  

I don't even like the polite word 'abuse'.  It sanitises rape, sodomy, incest, paedophilia, violence.


It essentially means that we can trivialise somebody's experience so it's palatable to us.

But why aren't we focussing more on the people that have suffered the abuse? If we silence them, if we disbelieve them, if we don't give them an audience or a voice, they continue to suffer.

They continue to take responsibility for a series of actions which are not their responsibility. We become complicit in the abuse. We help perpetuate the idea that this is something that 'just happens' or people can get away with.

We play the shame game.

Which makes us collectively a pack of arseholes.

It's not a comfortable truth but I think we are all probably complicit in the shame game at times. Whether it's the lingering attitudes of previous generations, ingrained misogyny, a lack of equal experience, not knowing that the right thing to say is, whatever - we silence people.

I don't have the answers but I do know that it needs to change. I do know that my friends and the horrific number of people just like them, need to know that they can yell as loud as they like or whisper quietly if they will, but that they are not alone.

They are not to blame.

They have a right to mourn the loss of their childhoods.

They have a right to seek justice and tell their stories.

And most of all, they are loved.

If you need any support please call Lifeline on 13 11 14

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4 December 2015

#endviolenceagainstwomen

There is no difference between 'online' and 'IRL' anymore.

Who you are online is exactly who you are in real life. 

So if you threaten violence against women (or men) online, those are thoughts that exist in your head in real life. They are a reflection of your true self.

So if somebody disagrees with me online and calls me a bitch, or hopes I get raped by the refugees I advocate on behalf of, they really think that.

I've copped some abuse, by men and by women, but mostly by men. And all because I am a big believer that human rights are for all humans. Those that are Gay. Indigenous. Refugees. Women. Poor. Rich. I've even written in support of people who I really don't like. 

Clementine Ford recently copped a lot of abuse Rape threats. Death threats. Violence. Intimidation. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of posts. 

People are charming aren't they?

People threatened things I had never even had the inclination to think in my entire life. Let alone say out loud. And don't be mistaken - typing something on a public page on the internet is EXACTLY the same as spitting it into their face at the watercooler. 

And some posted this venom on her public page, using profile pictures where they are posing with their wife and daughters. 

Imagine. 

She called them on it. Many of them. Using information they make publicly available on their profile. See here. One guy lost his job over it. 

She continues to call them on it.

She's indefatigable. 

It's not a case of sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you. The science has been in on that for a long time. It's bullshit.

Abuse is abuse. Violent words are violence. Violent acts are violence.

Women have the right to have opinions without threats of violence, death and rape. 

I stand with Clem. I stand with all women who can't find their own voice because they have been silenced through fear and aggression.

I stand with them not because I am fearless but because incidents like this make me doubt my fundamental belief that all people are essentially good.

I stand with them not because I am fearless but because I want my daughters to grow up fearless. 

I am incredibly proud to be taking part in today's Twitter campaign #endviolenceagainstwomen. 

Join us. 

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1 December 2015

Elf on the run

This year we have cheerfully bought into conspicuous consumption and have introduced 'Elf on a Shelf' into the family home.

This is Mary.  Named by the girls without intervention. Personally I liked Rosie-Sparkle-Boo-Butt better but they decided Mary was the best name for a Christmas Elf.

An 'elfie'
I know right? And they have no idea. That is what is so awesome.

The general premise of Elf on a Shelf is that the elf comes into your home and observes you during the day to find out if you are naughty or nice and reports back to Santa each night.  Each day the elf is hiding in a new spot and part of the fun is finding the hiding spot.

The story that accompanies the elf says you are not supposed to touch the elf as that kills the magic off and it talks about good deeds and about night time prayers in the story which led to conversations about god which I obviously deflected with a clear and definite 'ask your father'.

Because theology at bedtime is generally more than my brain can cope with at this time of the year.

Elf in the Shelf obviously works MUCH better in homes that are more authoritarian than ours. This is something we learned pretty much immediately.

As you can see above, Mary the elf was covered in snowman putty on her first day in the family home in case she was missing the snow from the north pole.

They weren't TOUCHING. They were HELPING.

Honestly. Don't I know anything?

She has also been HUGGED.

And KISSED.

And CHATTED to like nobody's business.

Because Mary is part of the family and not hugging and kissing her would make her feel like we don't love her.

Go ahead - argue with that if you can.

Plus my girls are perfect remember - so obviously they are angelic, well behaved and generally a shining example of our excellent parenting at all times with no exceptions. Ever.

Perfection
And it's very lucky that I'm not a boy called Pinocchio.

In fact, for me, the best thing about Elf on the Shelf is the conversations the girls have with the magic elf rather than any possible impact on behaviour (Um... zilch, zero, none, not a chance, it's just make believe mum - everybody knows that Santa can hear you when you think)

I love the joy that goes into these imaginary conversations and new discoveries. I like watching them grapple with real magic versus make believe magic.  The earnest discussions about whether the Tooth Fairy and the elves know each other because they are real fairies whereas the ones you see on the TV are generally just stories and the ones you find in the toy catalogues are just advertising.

So much GOING ON IN THOSE BRAIN BOXES.

And the delight when they find Mary's hiding spot each morning.  The breathless retelling of what Mary did last night when she visited Santa and her other elf friends.

It's ridiculously cute.

So yes. We're part of that growing culture of people buying into Christmas traditions in the absence of our own, contributing to the dumbing down of society as a whole and commercialising the pagan and christian yuletide messages with nary a thought to the therapy our children are going to require in future years because we lied to them about Santa Claus.

And it's fun.

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18 November 2015

Baying for tiger blood

So Charlie Sheen, man of a thousand memes, lover of 5000 women, yadda yadda yadda is HIV
positive.

And the judgement has begun.

And as you know, the internet is full of judgemental little fuckers just baying for his tiger blood. The righteousness! The fury! The disgust! The anger!

What a filthy, over entitled, scumbag right?

Or not.

What about a very human person who did a lot of dumb stuff very publicly who was diagnosed with a a pretty shitty disease WHO WAS FORCED TO GO PUBLIC WITH IT.

I'm not a Charlie Sheen fan. But I do recognise our common humanity and I am flabbergasted and appalled by vicious glee and sly vitriol that has been expressed about this diagnosis. Because the HIV diagnosis is not the appalling thing here.

It's sad but not appalling.

It's the public outing of people for no other reason than our own insatiable desire to judge that is wrong. It is none of our business whether or not Charlie Sheen is HIV positive.

Or if whatshisname is gay.

Or if she is actually 36 not 29.

Or if they screwed two women at once.

Or if they let their four year old suck on a dummy.

Or if they breastfeed until the children graduate university.

Sure some if it's interesting and some of it's just plain weird but it's actually none of my business. Or yours.

No man or women no matter how famous should be forced to reveal private information about themselves to the world at large. Even the ones that have repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to douchebaggery such as Charlie.

The public is unnecessarily salacious and massively moralistic about celebrities.

I don't disagree that Charlie Sheen has a responsibility to talk to his family and ex-lovers about his diagnosis. And I don't disagree that he's probably made a call about sexual responsibility at some stage that has been a less than sensible one. And if he didn't tell lovers or take precautions he is culpable.

But to be publicly 'outed'?

That is wrong.

It is not in the public interest for us to all know this unless he wanted to tell us. And despite our almost pathological obsession with defining all people as 'saint' or 'sinner' there is no obligation for anybody to be a role model, or an example.

Unless they want to be.

Free choice. It's not just for you.


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20 October 2015

Him what lives here

I've got a secret.

And I'm ready to share it with people.

I'm not a single parent.

I KNOW!

I'm married to a guy who I respect and who I love and who drives me completely insane at least once a week.

We have two children. Gorgeous children. Mad. Totally bonkers the pair of them.  We're rather fond of them the both of us.

He is a beautiful man. Kind most importantly. A super parent. Stricter than me which surprised not only us but everybody we know, but in absolutely fairness stricter than me simply means he won't peel their fish fingers. He'll just eat them himself and make them another meal.

I know. We're the kind of parents that give Type A people a serious case of the 'tut tuts'.

And you know something. It works.

We're on the same page when it comes to parenting even if we are singing from two different hymn books when it comes to the importance of putting things back in the cupboard from whence you first got them.

My children's inability to put things away I directly attribute to his genetical influence because my family lineage is littered (tee hee) with obsessive compulsive tidy upperers. Which is why we eat so fast in my family because otherwise the plate will be whipped away, cleaned and returned to the cupboard while you're still masticating the first mouthful.

I digress.

What's this about me not being a single parent?

Thing is, I am about to go away to America for 13 sleeps. To celebrate one of my BFFs 40th birthdays. Cool huh? I plan to get properly excited as soon as I finish my 'to-do list'.

But SOOOOOOOO many people are following up "Oh that will be nice/I love San Fran/lovely news" with a slightly bewildered "who is going to look after the children?"

Which I confess is driving me a little spare. Because at 6 foot three with startling light blue eyes he's pretty hard to miss.

You know the guy? The guy who started the whole growing the humans thing? The guy that taught them fart jokes are funny? The parent that likes taking them to the park? The guy that will agree to be the bad guy or the baby depending on the game? The guy that soothes their grazed knees and gives them cuddles when they're tired? The guy that does silly dances to make them laugh? The guy that lives in our house with us and they call him 'Dad'?

Him. That guy.

He'll be looking after them. Like he does all the time. But on his own for a bit rather than with me which may be busier but will definitely be quieter.

Exactly like I do when he goes away (except he gets to pee standing up which gives them less time to join him to discuss urgent questions like how does the internet work, what is wind and why is the tooth fairy the only fairy that's real?)

That's who will be looking after the children.

Him.

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6 October 2015

The D word

Is there anything that is true about yourself that you're not entirely comfortable with?

In fact, doesn't fit with your general view of yourself?

Mine is the D word.

Depression.

Depressing isn't it?  In this last week, after a tough few months, they added PMDD to my file. To sit alongside PND, PTSD and old fashioned regular depression. I cried and cried when I got the diagnosis. Asked if I could just 'fix it' with vitamin supplements, kale or.... or.... or....

Anything really. Anything within my control.

I have a great doctor. And a great clinical psychologist.  A great support team in my husband and girls. All together we're a good team when it comes to 'managing' my depression. I self weaned myself off my medication this year and thought I was doing okay bar some dips.

But I wasn't.

Those 'dips' were extended mind fucks of paranoia, anxiety, hopelessness, dread, fear and sorrow that were impacting my life, my family and my business.

Chemical imbalances in the brain don't respond well to being ignored despite best efforts.

One of the things that is the hardest about depression is that people continually think of it as malingering which can be eliminated by some positive self talk, a kick up the arse, more exercise and kale. And they like to tell you how you aren't depressed you just need to do x, y or z and you'll be just dandy.

I wish. I would eat the kale, all the kale, if it 'fixed my brain'.

It is what it is.  And while this week I'm in a great place of acceptance about it, I know that once the medication is in full force again and I'm feeling on a more even keel, I'll revisit my view of myself. I am not the type of person who 'gets depressed', ergo I can't possibly be depressed.

I can be drearily predictable sometimes.  Even to myself.

The irony is not lost on me that my latest diagnosis happened the day before mental health week began. Almost like my depression diagnosis has FOMO. Which considering the brain it resides in, is entirely possible.  I'm a FOMO MOFO.

But I'm also becoming better educated not only about about my own depression but depression generally and the genetics around it. And the simple fact is that I have to be vigorous about my own mental health in as much as I want to be in entirely the right head space to recognise any signs that my daughters inherited a dose of depressive genes from me (alongside the astigmatism or general awesomeness which are also scientifically proven to have genetic links).

That genetics thing scares the absolute bejeezus out of me. This is not something I want for my daughters.

I was 13 years old when I first started self harming. Just 8 short years older than my eldest is now. I used to slash the inside of my arms and the tops of my thighs. It used to make me feel better. I just thought I was weird but I did it anyway. I did it until I stopped doing it. I moved on like all good undiagnosed depressives to other things that made me feel better. Except they didn't always. Because brain.

And that's how life is sometimes. You just do it and assume that it's you, that somehow you missed the memos about how to do life properly and you try and stay away from the edges. Until you find yourself a mother to one, pregnant with your second, making plans for them to grow up motherless and someone says.... um - this isn't actually normal, and not because you're weird or shit at life.

Because depression feels a lot like being shit at life. Failing at something other people seem to manage effortlessly.

I will never be "okay" with my diagnosis.

But I am incredibly grateful for it. It didn't just change my life. It ultimately saved my life.

So there's that. And I'm "okay" with that.


You can get help at Lifeline or by calling 13 11 14
Or if you want to talk about PND go to PANDA
and the guys at The Black Dog Institute really know their stuff

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24 September 2015

Theory of relativity

You know that time that you did that thing and it played on your mind endlessly. It was the rock in your chest, the nauseated feeling in your throat, the words of recrimination spewing poison into your mind.

And you finally came clean with somebody and they laughed.

Or hugged you.

Or spoke kindly to you of the power of forgiveness. For yourself first and foremost.

And all of a sudden, that thing was a lesser thing. A manageable thing.  Actually, just a thing.

People's things are different. Huge. Take one friend of mine - Honest, loyal, kind, hardworking, thoughtful, loving, funny and strong. She also has a flexible approach to deadlines, a genius for conflict avoidance and (to me) a completely bizarre belief that she is not 'good enough' and 'unloveable'.

We were talking recently about some things that had been happening in her life and how this thing had happened and she felt terrible about it. I was vehemently banging the table and pointing fingers and telling her that she is an idiot (I'm a supportive friend like that).

Says I, in full throttle, "You are amazing, you're funny, you're a gorgeous friend, you're a great mum, a brilliant boss and that example you just gave me is bullshit. That is ONE SECOND OF YOUR LIFE. It's nothing. It's inconsequential. TAKE IT FROM ME THAT IF PEOPLE ARE JUDGING YOU ON THAT MOMENT THAN IT IS THEY WHO ARE FUCKED UP - NOT YOU"

anything else would just be ridiculous
Guess when I had my "AHA!" moment this month?

To be honest, I don't even need other people to label me because I'm front and centre with the label maker making sure I get my labels printed in big font and pasted all over the insides of my own mind, obscuring the view.

We are none of us perfect.

Not. A. One.

The things that become things do so because we frame them, label them if you will, in the context of our surroundings, our own sense of value, and the people around us.

And that would be that if we gave the good, the bad and the ugly exactly the same amount of space in our minds. But most of us don't. We internalise things, they shape our beliefs, our sense of worth, our interactions and ultimately, our choices.

As you know if you've been here a while, my psych and I have spent much time sorting through the chaos of my brain. She likes to while away the minutes dissecting my low self esteem, my fundamental lack of self worth, my talent for catastrophisation and my singularly spectacular talent for denying my own depressive tendencies; while I want to talk about, well, fun stuff.

In the midst of one gruelling session, she said to me (seemingly out of the blue) - describe yourself.

I did. Without hesitation.

Let me tell you my friends - if we were dating, I'd have dumped me. What an arsehole!

She then asked me to share some of the things my friends have said about me over the years. And bar the inevitable disagreements and bust ups that happen in all human relationships along the way (every single one of which I mentioned in excruciating detail first), the vast majority of my friends are very, very lovely about me. Even the ones who have known me a long time.

But yet, for every 15 minutes of imperfect behaviour, I have dedicated many, many, many thousands more believing that those moments of imperfection, are what define me. Those moments of imperfection, those things which make me feel ill or that spend weeks heavily pressing into the extra set of ribs in my chest cavity, are what other people see in me. Whereas, most probably, they're not thinking about me. They're focussed on their own 15 minutes of good, bad or ugly.

15 minutes or 900 seconds.

900 seconds in a day. 86,400 seconds in a day. 604,800 seconds in a week.

If you live to be 80 you will have participated in 2.52288e9 seconds. That's a lot.

Relatively what are 900 seconds in 2.52288e9 seconds? Nada.

And so I was absolutely correct as I bellowed emphatically stated my support of my friend. All of the things that I know about her are true.  Relatively, her moments of imperfection are irrelevant to me, and pretty much everyone else, because they are just parts of her totality - and none of us are perfect.

As her friend, we love her for who she is, and when we think of her, it is her overwhelming gorgeous totality that we think on. When we are asked to describe her, that is what we describe.

We want her to surround herself with people that know her and love her without judging her or emphasising her imperfections or chipping away at her self worth. Because she is bloody amazing.

We don't want her to her to flirt with kindness and love, but to behave thoroughly inappropriately with them both privately and publicly.

You may ask if this has been percolating away in my wee brain for all this time - what was my AHA! moment.

The answer?

I should totally listen to me. I'm fucking ace. I'd make me a great friend if I gave myself a chance.


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4 September 2015

I am heartbroken

I got asked yesterday why 'somebody like me' wasn't commenting furiously about the European refugee crisis, Cameron's concession to public opinion, Iceland's brilliance and the heartbreaking pictures of Aylan Kurdi, who died along with his mother Rehan and his brother Galip while seeking asylum.

The answer is simple. Because I am heartbroken by this every single day.

We live in a country where we will not put our kids in a car without a car seat, or take birthday cakes to school because of the sugar and yet parents like us, Rehan and Abdullah, felt that the only way to keep their kids safe was to put them in a boat and set out across the ocean in the HOPE, only the HOPE, that they would be safe.

 Tully and Cassidy aged 3 & 5        #kidslikemine       Galip and Aylan aged 3 & 5
And that family is now destroyed. Along with many other nameless, faceless, desperate people fleeing everyday violence and mayhem that is so far beyond our comprehension that people are actually proud to display 'Fuck off we're full' stickers on their cars and well suited middle class people almost spill their Shiraz as they bullshit on about 'economic migrants' as if they actually have a point. Or a clue.

People don't seek asylum for fun or because they need our poorly performing dollar tucked into their wallets.

They seek asylum because they see NO OTHER OPTION if they are to protect their families.

While we are filling our Facebook feeds here in Australia  this week saying let's not see the picture, this is too too too sad, those poor refugees, oh I've been to Bodrum stories - we seem oblivious to the irony that when people come to us over distances much more vast - we lock them up in what are effectively concentration camps.

Indefinitely.

I am heartbroken about the Kurdi family and their fellow citizens.

I am also heartbroken about 23 year old refugee Reza Berati who was killed 18 months ago by somebody paid by the Australian government  and whose murderer has still not been charged.

I am heartbroken about Ranjini, who was found to be a legitimate refugee in 2011 and who along with her children has been locked up in a detention centre since 2013 with no right of appeal because she doesn't actually know why she is locked up.

I am heartbroken about H**g, a refugee who lives with partial paralysis and profound depression as a result of their extended incarceration in an Australian detention centre, not the horrific violence that caused them to flee.

I am heartbroken about H**z who fled his country to stop them killing him and his family and now lives an isolated life, unable to contribute to the society he lives in because we wont let him get a job because, well actually, I don't rightly understand why not.

I am heartbroken about Mojgan Shamsalipoor, the refugee and Brisbane high school student who was physically dragged away from her husband and re-incarcerated after she spoke to the media.

I am heartbroken about the doctors and nurses who will be charged and jailed for speaking out about the extensive child and sexual abuse atrocities committed in Australia's detention camps.

I am heartbroken that not-for-profits, charities and churches who seek to support people in detention centres on Manus and Nauru have been banned from visiting.

I am heartbroken about the children who are being abused in our name because their parents sought a better life for them.

I am heartbroken that it has taken the picture of a child in shorts and a t-shirt lying dead on a beach for us to realise the common humanity we share with refugees and asylum seekers.

This breaks my heart every single day.

I know people think I'm soft hearted because I have not stopped weeping over the stories I read almost daily about the violence and ugliness we perpetuate in the name of national security against vulnerable people. There are some days when I feel so sad and so helpless about our own approach to refugees and asylum seekers that I feel physically sick.

These are people. People. People so desperate that they risk everything to come to us and we hide behind our shameful, and globally condemned, refugee policies and procedures, pretending it's not our problem.

We're protecting our borders.

Well bullshit. Our little cocoon of righteousness and entitlement is just political and media rhetoric that we buy into because we don't want to rock our own (metaphorical) boat.

My vehement hope is that the saturation of coverage highlighting the humanity of the refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, galvanises us here in Australia to be more proactive and vocal in our opposition to the hideous way we treat the people coming to us seeking safety.

That we demand change the way the UK demanded it of their politicians.

That we accept that our politicians are there to represent us and that if they are not representing us we have nothing but our own apathy and fear of the unknown to blame.

That we can change the way we do it if we have the courage to speak up.

That we can change the way we do this if we can maintain the focus past the lifespan of the headlines.

That we can change the way we do this by remembering that refugees and asylum seekers are people.

Like you.

Like me.

  ****
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25 August 2015

Five years. Not one swear word.

It's true. 

My beautiful first born turns five today.

And in all that time she has never sworn. 

Despite the prolific profanity from her mother, the closest my baby girl has come to swearing is when she misheard her father and yelled 'Sausage' instead of 'Tosser' at a car that cut us off on a country road. 

That's right.  

Five profanity free years! Take that #TeamNuture.  And take a bow #TeamNature. 

She uses many of my other oft uttered words like 'conundrum' and 'goose' and 'darling' and 'discombobulation' and 'riddickerlous' and 'hiwearweus', so it's not that she's not listening.  

She can name a dozen different kind of dinosaur and speak some Spanish.  But that's down to Playschool and Dora.  She can sing most of the Muppet's soundtrack but that's car trips for you. She thinks singing "It's all about the cake, bout the cake, NO SALAD" is the funniest thing ever but that's because of Meghan Trainor and a recent visit from Dillon and Lachie.  

Not a one. 

Not. One. Swear.Word. 

I honestly want you all to stand up and punch the air and yell 'FUCK YEAH'.

Not because I care if she swears. I really don't. She'll sort out appropriate and inappropriate and do her own thing regardless of me, regardless of her father and regardless of what is considered socially acceptable.  I know this because we all do.  

But we spend a lot of time worrying as parents that our own lack of perfection outweighs anything else that we do.  We think that our stuff ups are far more visible to our children than all the things we get right.  We worry that our quirks are more powerful than our personalities. 

We're fecking idiots.

And arrogant with it.  

Our children do not look to us to be perfect if we give them the same luxury of imperfection.  They do not look to us to be right if we are gracious enough to admit wrongs. They don't mind our cases of overwhelm if we allow them to yell too when they don't have the words to express themselves quietly.  

They basically don't give a shit what we do as long as we are not holding them to higher standards then we adhere to ourselves. 

My five year old is not stupid. She knows the difference between adult words and kids words. She knows that saying something is 'boring' drives me to distraction. She knows that words like 'hate' are not tolerated and that being unkind is unacceptable. She knows that 'patience' means waiting quietly and yet she doesn't do it because she doesn't understand why waiting quietly is any way a virtue.  

I don't either. We have that in common. 

But my profanities are not the words that matter to her. At all. And that's a powerful message for a mama. 

She knows that I don't always get it right. If I don't own up, she'll call me on it. She is fierce in her loves and her passions. She is loyal to her friends. She feels all the feels. 

All. Of. The. Feels. 

She is kind. She adores her sister and is adored equally in return.  She and her father can say 'bottom' out loud for days on end and never fail to find it hilarious. She is grumpy. She is cheerful. She is a morning person.

Like a real live bonafide morning person.

She loves reading. And songs. And music. She is tired. She is brave. She is funny. She is clever. She is interesting. She is interested. 

She is human.

And she allows me to be human too. 

Happy 5th birthday to my peaceful, my powerful, my bright and my beautiful Tullinator. 

Thank you for loving me. Just the way I am. 

  ****
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18 August 2015

Humanity with profanity (and giveaway)

What a blogger looks like 'at conference'
Over the weekend I attended ProBlogger conference which is (drum roll) a conference about blogging.

Somebody said that getting 700 plus bloggers in one place to talk about something they're fanatical about made us sound a bit like Hillsong but I can assure you that there was way too much wine without water, no Justin Bieber and way too many times the word 'vagina' was mentioned for that comparison to have any validity.

I was a little bit (read: hugely) chuffed when somebody described my blog to another blogger as "kind of social good and people focussed, pretty funny, a bit ranty and with a touch of swearing".

Humanity with profanity. Who knew I had a niche???

That said, it's no secret that I feel all the feels and generally feel quite strongly about them as well. And I'm okay with that. Mostly. Except when I'm not.  And then I generally blog about that too.

Somebody asked me what drove me to blog in the first place and it was simply being stuck at home with two small people who were unable to engage in any meaningful discussion about why Tony Abbott was such an arsehat or why tuna has to feature so prominently in lunch recipes.  I can't say it was a calling as such but I am happy to repurpose that should I ever write a memoir.

And to be fair to me - those two small people are still disinclined to participate in solid discussions like that but can name every single Disney princess known to mankind, 7894 reasons not to eat vegetables and most of the planets.  We basically don't have a thing in common apart from the odd gene or two.

So I blog on. Or carry on. Take your pick.

If I was asked to identify what drives a lot of my posts - it's my aversion to apathy. This is of course beautifully summed up by The Lorax.


The rest of the time I just blog for the conversation.  I'm an innately social person who works for herself.  I like the connection. I'm not on a journey. I have no fashion sense. Can't cook. Won't craft. Think that if you're kind to your children you're probably doing okay. Only run for money. Reflexively sarcastic and with a very black sense of humour.

I don't have 'a thing'.

But I like people. I genuinely do. Even the ones in velour. Unless you're a dick. Then I'm less inclined to like you but I TRY not to be a dick back.  Not always successfully. Because, you know, human.

So there is my one thing. My contagious message.


On another note - I am an active supporter of a couple of organisations that are incredibly dedicated to the #dontbeadick philosophy - one of which is, as you know, World Vision Australia.  World Vision are bringing the awesomely talented voice play skills of Naturally 7 to Australia in the next few weeks.

Naturally 7 have #madskillz.

Naturally 7 have supported Michael Buble world tours, duetted with him, played with Coldplay, Ludacris, Mick Hucknall and so on and so forth.  You can check them out-voicing The Voice here and all you have to do to win one of ten pairs of tickets is to comment below or on my Facebook page telling me the name of somebody you think is ace and the show to which you would like tickets if you won! (Comp closes at 6pm on 28 August 2015 AEST)



What about you? What is your contagious message when it comes to life? Got one? Wanna borrow mine?

  ****
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