16 May 2017

These are just days in our lives

I'm all for inclusion.

I'm all for mindfulness.

I'm all for kindness.

But I am absolutely over seeing other people apologising for things that aren't even things.

Take Mothers' Day.
Darth Vader had a mother too

A Ms Jarvis, established spinster and massive fan of her own mother, started the campaign to answer her mother's dream that one day the powers-that-be would create a day commemorating mothers for their service for humanity.

Eventually she got her way and because the world is as it is, it started as one thing and morphed into another when the marketing department got hold of it.  Somebody at Hallmark probably got a bonus. And now a century later we commemorate our mothers for their service to humanity by buying joke cards, dressing gowns and wine.

Now here's the thing. I get that not everybody has a mother in their lives due to death or other reasons. I get that not everybody has a mother they like. I get that not everybody is a mother, or can be a mother, or wants to be a mother. And I get that some have two mothers or  some step-mothers, or a grandmother acting as a mother, or a father who is doing the mothering which seems like fathering which is just parenting but hey, I digress.

No. Not everybody is going to be loving the day.  Or needs the day. Or wants the day. Okay. Got it.

But that doesn't mean we can't say on our social medias, or in a card, or on the television "Happy Mother's Day" without adding a caveat inclusive of all the above.  We do not need to apologise for enjoying the shamelessly commercial nature of a day dedicated to this particular role in life - if we choose to do so.

It's not a competition people. Just enjoy the day or not. Stop making it a battlefield.

We don't apply the same hysteria to the whole buy-a-diamond-worth-three-months-salary-thing which is nothing but another successful marketing campaign designed to turn the historically commercial transaction of marriage into a way of making money out of the modern notion of 'a love match'.

When somebody gets engaged, we don't say "Happy Engagement" and then add a caveat to acknowledge all the people that didn't choose a diamond, aren't married, are formerly married, want to get married but aren't, no long want to be married, and so on and so forth.

We don't shout down the people congratulating the happy couple by calling them out publicly for their insensitivity to the unlucky in love or the recently separated or berating them for forgetting that you want to get married but can't find anybody to marry you.

On the most part we think "how lovely for them" and then forget about it.

Absolutely - if you know somebody personally that's having a rough time around Mothers' Day, or their ex-husband's engagement or whatever - reach out to them personally, but don't patronise them by acknowledging them one day a year and then say or do nothing about it for the rest of the year.

If you truly give a shit you should know that that loss or absence in their lives is a constant. It needs support and encouragement all year around, not some token "I see you barren lady" post alongside the pictures of you in your new car.

Be kind, be thoughtful, be inclusive, be mindful - but give over making it 'a thing'.

The celebration of one thing is not a dismissal of another. You can care deeply about one thing and still indulge in fun. It's one of the key elements of being human.

Chaotically, imperfectly, unchangeably human.

(And one last thing - don't forget to hunt out sea monkeys, trees, lovers of Coquilles Saint Jacques, Biographers, LGBTI Elders, and people who draw and wish them a good day today. Because today is their day. And I am in no way offended if you don't include a caveat that acknowledges my absence from that particular set of descriptors.)

Happy Tuesday.

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12 May 2017

I see you little one

I see you little one.

I see your eyes sparkling with delight behind your long lashes.

I see your easy smile.

I see you use words like 'love' with an easy familiarity.

I see you sing loudly even when you don't know the words.

I see you watching all that she does.

I see your bright little face crinkling in laughter at the joke you don't quite get.

I see your little legs running to catch up with the bigger ones.

I see your little hand outstretched to join the circle.

I see your relentless enthusiasm.

I see your rage, your hurt and your bewilderment.

I see you abandon things you held so dear because you're a "big girl now".

I see you play the goof for attention.

I see when your face crumples in on itself after a careless word.

I see you delight in their successes.

I see you stamp your foot.

I see you try again and again and again.

I see you hold steady and true to yourself when you know you are right.

I see you rage against the injustice of their rules and your place in the age hierarchy.

I see you copy the things they do - both the good things and the bad.

I see you delight in the inclusion.

I see you hug without fear.

I see you make room for other people.

I see your kindness.

I see your effortless joy at living.

I see you try things.

I see you fly when you weren't expecting to fly.

I see your big heart make room for everything they hold dear.

I see you settle into your space beside her when the friends have gone home.

I see your connection with the person you love most fiercely of all.

I see you loved back just as fiercely.

I see you little one.

I see you.

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2 May 2017

My broken bum and why World Vision rocks

There are thousands of moments in our lives where we do something and the thing we do is of no consequence. Things that might make no sense in retrospect or are hard to explain, but that you have done a zillion times before with absolutely no need to tell anybody. And because there is no consequence, the thing is of no interest to anyone, so therefore, it goes undocumented, unremembered, unimportant.

And then you fall off the toilet seat you were standing on in your bathroom and fracture the S3 vertebrae in your sacrum, concuss yourself and injure your wrist, and everybody wants to know why you were standing on the toilet seat.

You know something, the why wasn't and still isn't important. It's something I've done a thousand times before, and which without a doubt, I will do in the future once this memory has dimmed. Of course it potentially, in hindsight, wasn't the smartest thing to do, but as I said, if I hadn't fallen, it wouldn't have been a big deal, you would never have known. Nor would you have wanted to know. And most importantly, you wouldn't be making a judgement call on it as if you're some kind of perfect beast who has never done something without thinking that ended less than optimally.

Yes. I've gotten to the grumpy stage of recuperation.

The funny thing about breaking your bum is everybody kind of assumes it's a self diagnosis. I can assure you it is not - I spent time in hospital being poked, and prodded. I've been x-rayed and had my first ever ECG and CT scans.  I have wept into the clean linen on the plastic beds in the short stay unit until the sweet blessed drugs took effect and dulled the pain a little. Since I left hospital, I've wept a lot more than I am comfortable with, but broken bums hurt. And I'm irritatingly, irredeemably, human.

Here's the thing - fractured sacrums generally don't happen to healthy 42 year old women unless they've been in a traumatic accident like a car crash.  They're more common in the elderly or people with bone density problems. And since 42 is not old and my bone density is ace, it falls into the category of 'bloody impressive fall Al'.

It also falls into 'your timing sucks Al'.  This Saturday I am due to fly to Indonesia with World Vision for a ten day stay visiting their projects (similar to what I did with World Vision in India last year). I'm not going. I can't sit properly. Or walk properly. Or bend properly. Or lift things. For a while in the hospital, it was looking like it would be my call about whether or not I went - and I was still thinking of going. I mean what's a broken butt really in the scheme of things?  But then just before discharge the doctor said nope.  And then he said No. And then he said it a few more times in case I wasn't listening.

I was.

I am also 100% aware that the purpose of going with World Vision to Indonesia is so that I can form a connection with the works they are doing. It is to interpret the impact World Vision has on individual communities and relate it to my own life and experience in such a way that the people reading my blogs can better understand the work that happens.  The purpose is to put aside 'me' and immerse myself in the lives of other people so that I can deconstruct what I see and pack it up for you, the readers of this blog, to better understand a way of life we generally only see or read about through the finely tuned lens of advertising or media stories.

Source: Monty Python
And I can't do that if I quite literally can't sit myself down and be part of it. I do World Vision no favours and I definitely don't do the Indonesian communities any favours by merely observing from a distance perched upon a plastic ring, or lurching around the communities with my antalgic gait, like somebody from the ministry of silly walks.

So instead of going, I'm going to be amplifying all the amazing stuff that Virginia from www.challengeyoass.com writes (you should follow her blog as well - I was late to the party but fell in love by the end of the first post) and the musings from Carly who blogs at www.smaggle.com, who most people know already.

You see, we think we understand what organisations like World Vision do. We've seen the adverts. We've paid our $43 a month to make sure that Javier in Honduras* is doing okay. But the reason World Vision invests in sending bloggers to visit the projects isn't to tell you what you think you know. They want you to understand, really understand, how your donations manifest in the real world. They want you to understand how the money doesn't just send Javier to school. It empowers his mother, it gives his sister medical assistance, it provides his father with dignity, it puts toilets into villages, it gives a slum full of single mothers their financial independence, it provides education, clean drinking water. It provides access to people's fundamental human rights.

Donating money for us is a no-brainer. But on the ground the impact of those dollars is breathtakingly visceral. It is physically disruptive. It is supportive. It is liberating. It is transforming. It is driven by the communities recognition of what they need and how they need it. It is delivered by some amazing people who are at heart, believe themselves to be staggeringly ordinary, who are actualising extraordinary change.

The work that World Vision does is life changing.

And while advertising gives you a glimpse of that, it is in the telling of the stories from a personal perspective that people come to understand the transformative reality of 'donating a goat' or 'sponsoring Javier'.

So even though it won't be my bum on the ground this time round, I'm proud to be a blogging ambassador for World Vision and looking forward to learning more about what they do in Indonesia, through the creative and talented word stylings of Virginia and Carly.

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*Made this name and country combo up for the purposes of this post.