23 January 2018

It's the little things

If you're a parent, you'll remember in the period of time between when you found out you were expecting and the birth of your child/ren that you read up on every single milestone possible. In that first year, you obsessed over every single one of them, sure that their ability to roll over or sit up at the right time OR AHEAD OF TIME, would guarantee them entry into Mensa later on in life.

A friend of mine recently referred to me as 'laissez-faire' parent, which I thought was an insult until I revisited the definition and saw that it meant 'the policy of leaving things to take their own course, without interfering' - which actually describes my default parenting style almost perfectly.  That said - not in the beginning - I was as obsessed with the milestones as if I was the most attentive of helicopter parents. 

But this summer, I realised that a whole bunch of milestones have passed recently that went by without fanfare. These are the milestones which demonstrate my daughters' growing independence and I realised that they were just as worthy of noting as first steps and visiting the supermarket without needing to go down the baby aisle. 

It's the closing of doors when they go to the toilet or get changed. It's them running their own bath and shower and getting themselves into pyjamas. It's them getting their own breakfasts. It's them waking up and going downstairs and entertaining themselves leaving their parents to sleep in. It's the playing for hours without paying you any attention (until you make a work phone call and then they have a thousand things which need addressing IMMEDIATELY)

It's the reading of books to themselves curled up in beanbags. It's the creating their own Spotify playlists and letting you know that they don't sing the swear words in songs they love.  It's the self censoring around 'inappropriate television and ads'. It's the attention to grooming. It's in the spontaneous hugs and kisses that almost permanently injure you but asking you not to kiss them at school. It's the long legs stretching below skirts which were floor length five minutes ago.

It's never being able to get a photo anymore with both of them looking normal. 


It's the conversations you have about world events. It's in the absence of ABC Kids TV and the proliferation of You-Tube inspired cackles. It's when you find them watching You-Tube videos as they teach themselves Japanese. It's the closed doors when they are mad at you. It's being able to leave them alone when you pop to the corner store. It's in the friends that they choose. It's in the quality of the jokes they tell - even though they still find mentions of poop absolutely hilarious. 

We got lucky with our girls - they're awesome. But every cliche about how fast your children grow is true. I chuckle when I think about how much time and energy I invested in worrying about the first year. That's the easy bit in some ways because while you might be sleep deprived, and slightly manic about germs, you still think you've got a say in who your children become.  You're more in control in that first year that you will ever be again. 

But I'm loving these milestones as much as I loved the ones in the books. I'm loving how two girls can be so similar and yet so different.  I'm loving that we get to hang out with these two extraordinary humans. 

And Yes - please remind me of this when we hit puberty.  


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8 January 2018

Action is the antidote to despair

Joan Baez said that.

She said lots of other things too but this one is resonating with all the people who've been in touch recently to ask what they can do PRACTICALLY to support refugees and asylum seekers since our own government is most politely described as 'pretty shit' when it comes to upholding the human rights of others.



1. TALK

The first, and sometimes the hardest, thing to do when it comes to asylum seekers and refugees is to talk. Talk to your racist uncle, the work colleague that repeats some bullshit they read in a Miranda Devine column, the person that thinks that Spudutton is right to demonise minority groups. Challenge the mother that is up in arms about the word halal going on a jar of vegemite, the friend that shares shit on their facebook page about 'sharia law'. Change the conversation. For everybody that talks about illegals, send them the links explaining how they are wrong.

When somebody says refugees and asylum seekers are nothing but societal parasites - mention Hieu Van Le - the South Australian governor, or Anh do - Comedian, Artist, TV personality, or Les Murray - Sports commentator, or Frank Lowy - the guy who built Westfield, or Majak Daw - the AFL chappie, or Dr Karl Kruszelnicki - Scientist and Radio DJ, or Deng Adut - Criminal Lawyer and NSW Australian of Year 2016, or even Dr Munjed Al Muderis, the pioneering surgeon who is giving amputees the chance to walk. Just for starters.  There are more examples. Everywhere.

And keep talking.  Even when your friends are sick of you talking about it. Tell them you'll stop talking about it when positive change has occurred. Change might be slow, but it does and will happen.

2. BE A GOOD NEIGHBOUR
http://goodneighbour.co/

This fantastic initiative is about connecting local people with refugees and asylum seekers, who are new to the area, have arrived without the support of their own friends and family, and who need to create a whole new life for themselves in our community.

For project volunteers, it’s about reaching out to others within your local community, building new friendships and doing unto others what we could only hope would be done to us, should we ever find ourselves in need of a good neighbour.

3. SUPPORT BUSINESSES THAT SUPPORT REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

There are heaps out there. Google is your friend on this occasion but a few to get you started are

  • https://refugeetalent.com/ -  is a digital platform to connect skilled refugees with companies offering short and long term job opportunities
  • http://www.noosawelcomesrefugees.org/aboutus - one of the artists involved in this project has been on Nauru since she was 15. They make amazing stuff. 
  • www.gardens4good.net -  By buddying up trainee asylum seekers/refugees with experienced gardeners we provide on site training and job support. Profits from G4G go back into wrap around services for our trainee gardeners- including driving lessons, English classes and workplace training. 
  • https://www.kilimanjarokrafts.com/ - 50% of profits go to social good initiatives including assisting refugee children to attend schools and also to provide tuition for cultural activities such as music and recreational activities such as sports
4. BUY THEM SOME PHONE CREDIT
www.facebook.com/pg/GFMAN2016

The donate button is at the top of the page. Phone credit provides vital support for mental and emotional health by allowing contact with family, as well as giving access to medical, legal, media and advocacy support in Australia. All things we can agree they desperately need.

5. DONATE TO SPECIALISED SUPPORT SERVICES AND PROJECTS

This might seem like a no-brainer but these services can not function on love alone. They need your time and your money - whichever is easiest for you to give.  There are different services in each state but check out these for starters

  • www.asrc.org.au - they provide food, shelter, legal advice, advocacy, education and employment programs, health services, general support, run campaigns, fundraise, you name it. There are equivalent organisations in each state but they are all working towards the same aim so you can't go wrong with hunting them out and giving them time and/or money. 
  • https://chuffed.org/project/seasonforjustice/ - this is a Mums4Refugees and Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children initiative which funds lawyers to help rape survivors needing urgent medical evacuation or women with breast lumps being denied assessment. Basically the kind of cases that Spudutton doesn't want you to hear about – but you have the power to help fight and win urgent help before it's too late.
  • https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/ - it might seem a little less practical, but this organisation works to change the policies and what not that shape our overall approach.  RCOA’s core purpose is to promote the development of humane, lawful and constructive policies towards refugees and asylum seekers. To inform our positions on policy matters, we undertake research into a wide variety of issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers. 
  • http://www.julianburnside.com.au/whatsinside/uploads/2016/03/national_list.pdf - this is a list compiled by Julian Burnside which covers most of the rest.  

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2 January 2018

New Year! New Me! (Not really)

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of each year being a clean slate - New Year! New Me!
Irony in action - last day of 2017

I'm thin! I'm interesting! I'm committed! I'm resolved! I'm kinder! I'm BETTER THAN I WAS!

And then I think, actually, I'm kind of okay. And yeah, I'm fat but I'm perfectly happy at the moment sitting here on the couch with a glass of wine and a book, mindlessly flipping through Netflix and listening to my daughters cackle with manic glee in the playroom.

Yes, I have plans for the year, but I write to-do lists most days so it's seriously not going to change my life. I, like all of us, can always work at being kinder, more empathetic and more compassionate, but that doesn't mean I'm going to start liking everybody - surely liking most people is enough?

And if you don't get caught up in all the hype that better is completely different, aren't you always better than you were? Isn't that the whole point of life? You start as a blob of a human, cute, hungry and a bit needy and you grow, and you learn things, and you start to communicate and you go about the business of life, each day becoming a better, more evolved version of the person you were yesterday? Sometimes that's a 'life lesson' and sometimes it's a 'life goal'. 

I'm not saying don't make resolutions. Resolutions are generally positives.  I am resolved this year to get back into meal planning and regular exercise - it all got derailed last April when I broke my sacrum in three places, and tore my rotator cuff falling off the toilet (see - life lesson - don't stand on toilet seats to use the mirror - you're welcome!)

2017 wasn't a great year for me in many, many ways. It was a long hard slog back to mental equilibrium after the period of my life in late 2016 I jokingly (black humour is my fave) refer to as 'that time I didn't die'.  As a relatively high functioning depressive, there was a disconnect between how I felt and what people saw for most of 2017.  I got there by the end of the year - a few months of no suicidal ideologies and I was all ready to throw my pills out the window and declare myself CURED.

I didn't of course. 2016's life lesson was ideas like that are DUMB.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that I am excited about 2018. I have high hopes for it - particularly in regards to my family and my business. VERY high hopes. I'm looking forward to many things. I have plans, I have goals. But the person I am today is 43 years in the making. I'm perfectly imperfect like every other person on the planet. I don't need to be somebody else entirely to be happy, loveable or successful.

My now is the exactly the right place for me to be on the second day of the new year. And if at the end of the year I'm a more evolved specimen of the person I am today, it's not because of something I promised myself five hours into drinking wine, Pimms and mojitos on New Year's Eve. It's because the alternative to evolution is extinction. And the one thing I definitely know is that extinction is not what I want for myself.

What I want for the people I love (myself included) is that we find our inner peace. That we can be happy in our now so that we don't feel like judging or judged. That we can be confident in ourselves so we can be open minded, that we can be kind and that we can be compassionate to those that most need it. 

For those of you that specific goals I give you these:

1. Eat Turkish Gozleme at least one a month - it is happiness
2. Think about exercising - for I am told it is the thought that counts, and lastly
3. Don't be a dick - for this is the answer to all of life's conundrums.

Happy 2018!


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