Bullying – a short story

  Master J refused to go to school yesterday. After one almighty melt down yesterday, and some pretty uncharacteristic behaviour, we managed to get out of him that a new boy had come to the school and decided that Master J would be the target of his new stomping ground. Master J has difficulty tying […]

Why hero worship doesn’t work for me

CREATIVITY.-2

I am a sensitive soul.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that, and I think it is obvious from what I write here.

Sensitivity has many positives.  It makes us kind people – we are sensitive to others’ needs, sometimes more than most.  Sometimes.

But it comes with its pitfalls.  Fear of rejection for one.  We often don’t put ourselves out there, because comments or rejection from other people can hurt us – often more than others.  Whilst a lot of people can shrug off a lot of the crap that gets doled out, us sensitive types tend to take it all to heart.

And that is me.  All sensitive heart.

Blogging is a big deal for me.  I have a son with autism.  Any conventional 9 to 5 career was rapidly dashed as it became clear that Master J needed me at home.  I was gutted and left feeling adrift.  Blogging exploded and I saw an opportunity to put myself out there, in relative safety, from the comfort of my own home.

It didn’t come without its stresses.  Most people blog in the hope that they can make a full time living from it one day.  The pressure to monetise is huge and indeed blogging is now considered, and rightfully so, a bona fide career choice, though it takes an inordinate amount of hard work to ‘make it’ to any level that can be described as a full time career.

I lack a niche, something that is considered vital.  You need to appeal to brands to create a working relationship.  This totally makes sense.  I don’t have a niche.  That is okay.  I blog from the heart (hence the name).  But, rightly or wrongly, I do feel like that in order to consider myself a success I should be blogging about something that brands will be interested in.  I have to constantly remind myself that I am working to the beat of my own drum, that I don’t need the money (thankfully), that life has provided me with enough, and that I do this for the love of it.

But in truth, I want to be recognised, valued and considered worthy in this realm of blog.  Value and recognition is what we all crave, what drives us, and it would be incredibly arrogant of me to think otherwise.  It is about a sense of self worth, and trying to create online that which has been lost in the real-life world.

Recently, I decided to put myself out there.  I decided to email three quite big personalities about how they had inspired me.  I had lived too small for too long, I decided, and felt that it was selfish of me to expect recognition if I didn’t take the time to recognise others.  So I wrote to them.  One was an incredibly successful author, massive, like appeared on the Oprah show massive.  The other two were bloggers, one of whom actively asks for feedback in their newsletter.   I felt it was important to let these people know that I had been touched by their work.

Two of them didn’t reply at all.  The other one, the one that asks for feedback, sent through an automated response saying that whilst all feedback is valued, they were very busy and wouldn’t be able to reply.

I know that in this world of fast paced madness, that it is considered selfish and indulgent to expect personalities to respond, especially with all the crazies out there.  And perhaps there is an unwritten rule that I should be altruistic and expect nothing in return.  But this is where I have a problem.  When did it become acceptable not to respond to people taking the time to express how they value and appreciate your work?  I don’t believe anyone is too big to respond.  If the likes of Kurt Vonnegut, a world renowned author can respond, then so can anyone else.  Even if it is through ‘your people’, a choice to respond is always possible.

There’s only one rule I know of babies, God dammit, you’ve got to be kind” – Kurt Vonnegut

I was one of those girls who was always a little anti popular culture.  My friends would always have posters of pop stars from the Radio and TV times plastered over their walls.  I would go and visit them and they would drool over those posters, imagining themselves in the arms of whatever hunk was the flavour of the day.  I couldn’t understand it.  Those celebrities were just human.  They weren’t super gods.  They crapped in the toilet the same way I did.

Now, I am the first to admit that this thinking may have been borne out of the fact that I suffered terribly from low self esteem and that the idea that a pop hunk might be interested in me didn’t even warrant the dream since it was never going to happen.  Or it could just be the fact that even if you make a lot of money, have become famous and are talented in your sphere, that doesn’t make you better than me.  Maybe it is because I believe that you wouldn’t have reached that level of fame and fortune without people appreciating your work and paying money to get it.  The key here is appreciation.

So, yes, I do believe that when someone puts themselves on the line to let you know how your work has inspired them, or that they have really taken your message to heart and used it in their lives, or how your blog speaks to them every day, it damn well warrants a thank you at the very least.  Whilst you  have given them a gift of inspiration, they have given you the gift of their time and appreciation.  And that takes courage, sometimes a lot of courage.

I am sensitive, easily hurt. Even by random celebrity types whom I haven’t met personally.  I mistakenly gave those three people hero status.  It wasn’t fair to do this.  By my own mantra, they are human, they make mistakes, they believe their own press.  I have had to let them go.  I still value their words (you know words are my thing), but I also realise that when you get to some kind of status (afforded you by other people by the way), it’s easy to forget who you were writing for in the first place.

I never want to forget.  Please don’t let me forget.  If I ever reach some form of status in the blogging world, and you write to me to let me know how much you value my work, and I don’t respond, feel free to email me a kick up the bum.

Have you had a similar experience at all?  How did you deal with it?

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

Robin Williams has died and the world has gone mad

 

I’m meant to be studying.

As I try to focus on my readings about how language determines thought processes, how most things are a construct, that before the late 1800s there was no categories of a person being either heterosexual or homosexual, it was just deemed that as a person you had the propensity to either like the same sex or the opposite sex, my mind keeps wandering.

I cannot concentrate.

Our world is in crisis.

Last night I walked into the kitchen, “Did you see this?” Mr C asked.

He had paused the TV.  On it was an image of a young boy holding up something quite large that had been blacked out, with something else that had been blacked out at the bottom of the screen.

I looked at my husband confused.

What you are seeing there is a Facebook status of the father of a 9 year old boy, holding up a cut off head, with the comment below of ‘that’s my boy’, or something to that effect.”

I looked at him, my hand immediately clasping at my mouth.   A little scream escaped.

It’s not a human head?” I asked, praying like hell it wasn’t.

It is, Sarah.  Apparently it’s an Iranian’s head.  The boy is Australian.  Apparently, they have fled to Syria.

Without warning, I just burst into tears.  A gnawing at my gut immediately gripped me and I had to bend over, resting my head on the bread board on my bench.

What the fuck is happening to this world of ours?  What is happening to the media that it feels it is okay to give this evil fanaticism air time?  I had an urge to find out about the story, but resisted it.  I had seen the image, I didn’t need to know the back story.  There was no story that would ever make that okay.  Ever.

All of last night my heart felt sick.  So much war and devastation, so much inhumanity.  Even though it isn’t right on our door step, we get to live it each and every night with images of people being blown out of the sky, and into smithereens, and body bags being chucked about and heads being held up like trophies.  Tears stained my pillow as I fell into a dark slumber.

And then I woke up and Robin Williams had died.  Robin Williams, who had given the world so much joy and laughter, whose wit was uncompromising, whose humanity shone from him like the brightest lighthouse for miles around, whose very existence gave us common folk a reprieve from all that nastiness that we have to endure, had taken his life.  Because, even for him, the world was just too much to bear.

Sadness does not begin to describe how I am feeling right now.  Twitter is agog with the loss of Robin.  If only he had known how very much he was loved.

We need a new direction.  Humanity needs a change.  The definition of humanity needs something new.  We need to let the media know that this is not okay.  That the forms of entertainment and news currently on offer are not acceptable.  Our children do not need to see those images.  They do not need to become desensitised to war and death and evil.  They do not need to see a 9 year old holding up a human head as if that is a perfectly okay image to see.  Oh my god, on so many levels, it is so not okay.

And people who suffer with depression need to be taken seriously, dammit.  People should not be feeling so exasperated with the world that they feel compelled to take their own lives.  Why are we not doing more about this?

Please tell me that you get this.  Please tell me that you see, as I do, there is a mental madness going on in the world and that we need to fight to change it.  Our discourse has to change.  Somewhere, somehow, we need to make this stop.

It’s hard to study today.  It just seems so trivial in a world gone mad.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed and you feel the need to speak to someone, please please call Life Line in your country.  In Australia, the number is 13 11 14.

 

Why humans are not all that smart

For my next post, I wanted it to be really upbeat.  I am a deep thinker, somewhat prone to the melancholy, so I thought that the next time I write, I’m going to try to balance said melancholoy with a little bit of lightheartedness.

Not going to happen.

Not today anyway.

I woke up feeling very sad this morning.  Not in an I’m-so-depressed-my-life-sucks kind of way.  More like, I-truly-wish-I-wasn’t-a-human kind of way.

Humans are purported to be the most sentient, evolved beings on earth.  Apparently not.  Apparently all the intelligence and “awareness” of our existence and mortality isn’t enough to stop us from blowing each other to smithereens, from oppressing those less fortunate from us, from creating an ‘otherness’ mentality to justify said atrocities, from pitting humans against each other in the name of entertainment.

Historically, in my opinion, the only thing that has evolved for us is technology.  This has created more ways to abuse each other and, worse, kill each other.  Our humanity, which I define as the ability to transcend our urge to annihilate one another, has not evolved at all.  We are still animals – territorial, violent, oppressive, greedy and power hungry.  How do I know this?  The media is full of it.  Apparently, this is what sells.  This is what drives us, what us ‘humans’ want to see.

It’s very depressing.  Especially for a melancholic person like me.

I like to call my melancholia the Eeyore Syndrome.  You know Eeyore right?  The sad little donkey in Winnie the Pooh.  I always felt for that little guy.  Always surrounded by his joyful little friends but never quite being able to enjoy life in quite the same way they did.  He always seemed to know instinctively that what they were celebrating or enjoying was not quite the real picture, that beneath that veneer of love, friendship and joy was the reality of a world that was hard and cold.

I’m with Eeyore.

Despite meme after meme adorning the interweb telling me to look around and see the beautiful world for what it truly is, to enjoy living every moment, to live in the moment, to love myself for the beautiful person that I am, I cannot.  The world, whilst perhaps rich in physical natural beauty, is not a great place to live.

How can it be when programs like The Bachelor adorn our screens pitting 24 women against each other to vie for the attention of one man.  Where we watch these women tear each other down, night after night, in a desperate attempt to get him to like her.  We haven’t evolved.  We have just bought lion fighting in the Colosseum to our little black screens in our living rooms.  The premise is still the same.  Pitting humans against each other all for entertainment of the masses.

How can the world be a great place when, whilst we are watching our ‘entertaining’ reality shows where humans tear each other down, other people across the globe are actually living a hell of war and devastation, funded largely by the western countries that produce this entertainment for us?

Do you see the theme?  The power hungry few feed the masses mindless entertainment, whilst funding mass warfare against countries (probably to control resources – at least that’s the conspiracy theory).  Us mindless few lap up said entertainment and “feel sorry” for those other people over there who are being killed and shit.

If we try to do anything about it, for example, protest, leak secret documents about the inhumanity of those in power or dare to write about the injustice of it all, we are branded a traitor and arrested.

In his book, A Brave New World, written in 1931, Aldous Huxley foretold this.  Huxley wrote of a dire world in which future governments would encourage mass entertainment, knowing it would pacify the people and divert them from political issues, how this fixation on entertainment would drown our desire for real knowledge and how society would allow itself to be so consumed with this entertainment, that it would disregard anything of any real importance.  Huxley clearly could not have had any idea how prophetic his book would be.

So what is to be done?

We could sit back and say, as people always have done, that there is nothing we can do.  That those in power have the means and power to oppress, create and maintain wars, bully us into submission.  And to that I say bullshit.

We have the means to make ourselves heard.

We can boycott the mindless entertainment, we can write and speak out against the atrocities the human race continues to inflict on each other, we can make a conscious choice to stand up and say ENOUGH!  We can think about a world in which we would like our children and their children to live and we can strive towards that.  We can take an interest in the people that would like to run our country and make an effort to vet them.  We can choose not to vote into power a man who stood at a protest rally next to a sign that said the words “Ditch the Bitch”.

As a melancholic person I constantly have to remind myself that I do have choices.  That this isn’t the way it has to be.  That, as an individual living in a crazy, violent world, I can make a difference.  You can too.  Believe it.

I once read that the only thing that separates humans from animals is not our intelligence, or that we have better technology, it our capacity to hope.  Hope for a better future, hope that one day we can defeat death, hope that no matter how shit it is today, tomorrow will bring more light.

I have learned that my melancholia is not a bad thing, some defect inside my brain.  Rather it is a response.  A response to the reality that surrounds us, but we so often choose not to see.  But I have hope, and through that hope the ability to choose, and that is what will make a difference.

How are you feeling about the world around you?  Have you wanted to make a difference?  Do you feel like me sometimes?

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

Much love,

 

 

Lessons on teenage pregnancy and becoming a premature grandmother

I became a grandmother at the age of 44.  I hadn’t planned this.  And when it happened, I didn’t feel as much joy as one would have expected.

My daughter was 19.  For a short while I was more concerned how her pregnancy would reflect on me.  I am not proud of this, but it is a reality.  We live in a world where appearances are everything.  And where perception is reality.  I was petrified of the judgement that would follow, of the view that somehow I should have done more as a mother to instil in my daughter the wherewithal to not fall pregnant.  Despite being on the pill at the time it happened.

I supported my daughter from the very beginning.  During her early teenage years we had gone over this ground:

If you ever fall pregnant, Miss J, I want you to know that dad and I will support you.  Never feel like you are alone.  You can tell us anything.  We will not judge you.”

Miss J would nod knowing that our philosophy was that there was nothing we as a family couldn’t overcome.

But then it happened and the reality hit.  I’m ashamed to admit it now, but I did judge.  Myself most of all.

It is fair to say that my parenting style is somewhat relaxed.  From the very beginning, I wasn’t big on being the strict parent insisting on conformity.  Don’t get me wrong, my children will be the first to tell you that I would yell, usually for them to clean their mess, but on the whole, I am all for my children having a very long leash.

I would tell myself that I was picking my fights. That it was important for them to learn their lessons without me trying to stifle them.  On the other hand, I would see children that had the most impeccable manners, who remained blissfully quiet whilst their parents talked ad infinitum to their friends, who were studious and focused and achieved greatly at school.  And I would denigrate myself for not being a good mother.

I stopped following mummy blogs because, frankly, they just helped solidify the image I had of myself as a crap mother.

So when my daughter fell pregnant, I felt, for a very short period, like I was being punished.  Like it was all about me and what I hadn’t done as a parent.

I would watch peoples’ reactions when they would hear that I was about to become a grandmother.  For a split second, it was there, that judgment, always followed by:

Wow, you look so young to be a grandmother.”

It wasn’t a compliment.  It was loaded with judgement and, for a short while, I let it wash over me, like self flagellation for being a bad mother.  I deserved this, I would tell myself.  This was all about me and not about my daughter at all.

As the weeks wore on, however, my mood shifted.  I began to realise that it doesn’t matter if I was a “bad” mother or not (which for the record I know I am not and really don’t give a shit of someone thinks I am).  It wasn’t about me at all, it was about my daughter.  Was she being supported to make the decisions that were important to her, that were empowering her, that were setting her up to be a mother in her own right at what is considered in our society to be such a young age?

This was highlighted when, at 22 weeks it was discovered my daughter was already 2cm dilated and at 24 weeks she went into labour for the first time (a number of times would follow).  There was a real chance we could lose Baby C. We sat in the labour ward as my teenage daughter and her partner were told that at 24 weeks it is better for them to consider not to resuscitate their, previously unwanted but now very much wanted, infant.

As I listened to the doctor telling my distraught daughter the cons of saving a 24 weeker, whilst she was breathing through labour pains, I became angry.  Very angry.  This was no longer about people judging me as a mother, or about him and the seeming inconvenience it would be to society to bring a child into the world that would be “riddled with special needs” – this man was asking my 19 year old daughter to decide to not let her child live – this was about my daughter, my beautiful brave daughter who had chosen not to terminate the pregnancy as so many teenagers would have done, but chose to keep the baby and then fight for him when things went awry.

I couldn’t help but wonder if a woman in her thirties would be treated in the same fashion.  Even the midwifery nurse was mortified.

The doctor left and I rushed to my daughter and cosseted her as she wept in my arms.  I looked at the lovely nurse and ordered that “that man is never to come near my daughter again”.  It wasn’t me that would have to endure the judgement, I realised, it was my daughter.  And I would do everything in my power to stem that.

Thankfully, through the power of modern day medicine and bed rest, Baby C managed to hold on until 37 weeks and he was born a healthy, bouncing, delightful, very much loved, baby boy.

But the judgement continued.  In Australia, only 4% of babies born are born to girls and women below the age of 24.  Young mothers are on the wane.  And as a society, we consider those young mums incapable.  We assume them to be slappers who clearly screwed around and got themselves into trouble.  And bugger it, we will leave them and their children to rot!

My response is this:  So what?  So what if they are all these things and more.  Does that mean that their youth-fuelled hormonally driven poor choices warrant less support, or none at all?  What gives us the right as a society to imagine that these young girls aren’t deserving of the support or resources afforded to the more mature mum.  What makes us decide that they “got themselves into trouble and now must pay the piper” as one delightful woman told me.

My daughter refused to go to a mother and baby group because the one time she attended she was surrounded by older mothers who did not speak to her.  She felt vulnerable and very much isolated.  And she felt judged.  As a mother, she continues to feel isolated.  None of her peers have children.  No-one her age in her circle can identify with the exhausting needs of a baby and how difficult it is to hold down a full time job, study and look after a very active two year old.  Because that is exactly what she is doing.

Judgement is rife for these young women.  Recently I had to attend hospital as Baby C had fallen and broken his thumb.  The nurse came in, and immediately said to me,

“So, Mum, what is wrong with baby?

Despite Miss J being the one to hold Baby C.  Despite her being the one listed as his mother.  A quick glance at her and her look of brokenness will live with me forever.  When, exactly, is it that we are able to claim our right as mothers?

Can I blame the nurse?  Not really, I guess.  Society’s new more for mothers is in the 30 plus age bracket, with that age bracket increasingly being pushed out beyond 40.

We need to challenge the status quo.  As women, we need to do this. Rather than judge and isolate these young women, we need to empower them, to encourage them to own their right as mothers, to feel confident in their choices, and capable of following it through.  Motherhood is hard, we all know that.  How much harder is it for a young woman who feels so alone?

I am a young grandmother and though it took a little while, I am really proud of that fact.  I get many many years to see my grandson develop and grow and to watch as my daughter does the same in her new role as mother.  We are closer than we have ever been.  But I could so easily have allowed my own judgements destroy that.  So easily have buckled to society’s expectations.

We don’t have to do that.  We can challenge the status quo.  We can support those young mothers that cross our paths.  And let them know that motherhood is a blessing and not a curse, that they have a right to be a part of the only rite of passage we as woman truly own.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

An Open Letter To Tony Abbott

 

Dear Tony,

You don’t mind if I call you Tony do you?

You and I need to talk. Seriously.

What is going on? What is it that you are hoping to achieve by all these things that you keep doing and saying? I am genuinely curious to know.

I am a fairly political person. It’s true, I do have opinions. But on the whole, I believe that, in a truly democratic country, the good people will vote, and a country will correct itself and thrive. I have faith in the system. And so I keep my opinions to myself.  Well, I may include a few family and friends (sorry guys).

However, this latest gaff, Tony, I cannot leave to rest.

What were you thinking? By saying that Australia was unsettled before the British came, do you truly believe that you are doing Australia any favours? Do you think that comments like that will instil faith for foreign investors to come to our shores? Sure, there may be some xenophobic, sexist, billionaires who feel that their money would be well placed within our boat-returning un-humanitarian borders, but on the whole, Tony, I’m guessing you haven’t noticed, as a nation, and indeed as a species, we are evolving.

People are making fun of you, Tony. And we, as a country are being tainted by association. Comedy shows are making money from the numerous gaffs you keep making. More so, I believe, than George Bush in his day. In fact, comparisons are being made.

Is this how you want to be remembered Tony? Is this the legacy you truly wish to leave for your country? Or even for your family? All in the name of the few big money spenders that worked damn hard to put you in power for their own gains (and yes, Murdoch, I am talking about you)?

Every day another thing lands in my inbox, every day another monumental embarrassment. What will it take Tony, for you to wake up to the harm that you are causing our great country? The days of white supremacy, my friend, of white male dominated, male driven capitalism is on its way out. Your ideals, along with your party’s and those that support you, are no longer valid. Like the dinosaur, they are old, and ready for extinction. You are completely out of touch.

There is an entire generation coming up the ranks that knows that neo-liberal individualistic supremacy is no longer the way forward, if indeed it ever was.  Rather than pave the way for them, Tony, you are building a brick wall, setting us back years. In the 10 months you have been in power you have caused more damage for our country than, I believe, any prime minister in our history.

Your popularity in the polls have proven that. And they do count, Tony, those polls. Even if they move every day and are subject to what is going on in the press that day, they very much do count. If I was you, my friend, I would be paying very close attention.

The good news is, Tony, you have time. All those carefully worded, evasive promises you broke, all the damage that you have done in such a short time, you can put them right. It has only been 10 months. You have another two years to turn things around. You can add to this country, rather than subtract from it. You can be remembered as the PM that lost his way in the beginning, but ended up doing magnificent things for our country.

Are you up for the challenge Tony? Are you?

What is it you want for Australia Tony? Is it a country that is considered on the international stage a complete laughing stock; a country that still refuses to recognise its oldest peoples; a country that despite its bounty is happy to see men, women and babies die at sea; a country that refuses to look after its elderly, or educate its children, or take care of its sick; a country that plonks its head in the sand about the globally accepted phenomenon of climate change?

I am a lowly housewife, mother and grandmother. I form part of the middle income bracket. I pay my taxes and I do not receive any benefits. I am fortunate enough that I do not need them. I guess I should be supporting you to maintain the status quo. But I can’t, Tony.

What you are doing is suffocating our country. You are building a road made of straw for us and once you have left, the devastation you will have left behind will be felt for generations to come.

It doesn’t take much to be a decent human being. You have time to be decent Tony.

Do the right thing. Do the right thing by ALL your people, not just those that pay the most money to keep you in power. Let go of your antiquated ideals and SEE your people. Connect WITH them. Fight FOR them.

Can you do that Tony?

If you need some advice, feel free to give me a call.

Your concerned citizen,

SHW Signature