Tag Archives: identity

You…Who Are You?

As I approach the second last letter of the alphabet and the Blogging A-Z April Challenge is almost over, today’s post is not about me. It’s about YOU!!!  This empty screen is a mirror seeking your reflection.

Who Are You?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WseRJMQf1U

I could slack off and ask each of you to introduce yourselves and your blogs but seeing this is part of a blogging challenge, I’d better make an effort.

1) What is your name/blogging profile?

2) What is the name of your blog & provide URL.

3) Which country do you live in and feel free to mention town and perhaps something about where you live if you like.

4) What are you writing about at the moment?

5) If you’ve been doing the Blogging A-Z April Challenge, did you have a theme?

6) If you could meet any living person, or animal, in the world, who would it be and why?

Add your responses as comments and I’ll compile them and do another post in a few days i.e. after the challenge. I have quite a few things on hold at the moment until “after the challenge”!!

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”

Margaret Mead

I look forward to hearing from you and getting to know you better…and for you to get to know each other better as well.I really work hard to keep Beyond the Flow personal and feel like we’re all sitting around in a fabulous cafe sharing coffee and chocolate cake together. To quote the hit musical Oliver, I hope you all consider yourselves “at home”.

You Are The One That I Want.

You Are The One That I Want.

Just to help you get into the mood, here are some songs with ‘”you” in the title:

Taylor Swift –You belong with me

Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel.

John Farrar : You’re The One That I Want. (performed by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John.)

Whitney Houston: Saving All My Love for You
Queen –We Will Rock You.
Performed by Whitney Houston:
You light Up My Life. www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYONl71KINE
Elizabeth Mitchell- You Are My Sunshinehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8SKjL5dIb0
Adele – Someone like You.
Bruno Mars – Just the way You are.

I look forward to meeting you and turning this into a real online gathering. You’re all invite to join us!

This has been “You” for the letter Y in the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

xx Rowena

Australia’s “200th Birthday” Revisited.

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten”.

– Rudyard Kipling

Last week, Australians celebrated, lamented or slept through Australia Day which marks the arrival of the British First Fleet at Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) On the 26th  January,  1788. Governor Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack claiming British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia, which was then known as New Holland.  There was no treaty with the Aboriginal people, as there had been with the Maori in New Zealand and you will still hear Australians talk about how Captain Cook discovered Australia in 1770, even though Australia was never actually “lost”.

The Australian Women's Weekly, January, 1988.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, January, 1988.

 

 

If you have read my last post, you’ll know that I recently came across a vintage copy of The Australian Women’s Weekly from January, 1988. This was their “Bicentennial Souvenir: Special Collector’s Edition”, to celebrate Australia’s “200th Birthday”. It included a couple of pages of birthday wishes from around the world:

“Australia is the closest thing to Texas you can get…the women are beautiful, the men are tough and it has got great beer! Happy 200th, Australia.”

-Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing in the hit series: Dallas[1].

“Although by birth I am English, I feel Australian and think of myself as Australian. Australia took me in, nurtured me and sent me out into the world with a sense of belonging   and a great outlook on life. Happy birthday, Australia.”

– Olivia Newton-John[2].

However, while I was reading the magazine, it struck me that there was no mention of Aboriginal people at all. That bothered me enough to put my detective’s hat on and to start digging.

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
George Orwell

The First Fleet Reenactment, 1988.

The First Fleet Reenactment, 1988.

Rewinding back to January 26, 1988…I was a young, 18 year old who had just finished school and was still reveling from celebrating “Schoolies Week” at Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast. This involved lying by the pool or on the beach by day and hitting the nightclubs by night and to be perfectly honest, I was probably more concerned about the state of my tan and of course, friends, relationships, fun.

Enjoying the party atmosphere on Australia Day, 26th January, 1988 , my boyfriend and I were jammed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge along with hundreds and thousands of other sardines on a characteristically hot summer’s day, spellbound as the Tall Ships in the First Fleet Reenactment sailed majestically through Sydney Harbour. I still remember battling to try to photograph the Tall Ships through the crowd with my humble Kodak camera, which was so old that you had to shove a film cartridge in the back. There was a woman standing right in front of me wearing the largest, brightest sunflower-yellow hat I’d ever seen. Indeed, the brim was so wide, that you could land a helicopter on it no worries. I passed the camera to my boyfriend, who being 6ft 4″ almost towered up into the clouds. With that camera, none of our photos were “good” but at least when he took he photos, you could pick the Tall Ships out over the hat.

That was my Australia Day.

Badge Protesting against celebrating Australia's Bicentenary.

Badge Protesting against celebrating Australia’s Bicentenary.

Meanwhile, there was a protest movement of upwards of 40,000 Indigenous Australians and sympathisers marching through Sydney. For them, Australia Day was Invasion Day and 1988 would be a year of mourning. This was the largest march in Sydney since the Vietnam moratorium. The march ended at Hyde Park where several prominent Aboriginal leaders and activists spoke, among them activist Gary Foley; ‘Let’s hope Bob Hawke and his Government gets this message loud and clear from all these people here today. It’s so magnificent to see black and white Australians together in harmony! This is what Australia could and should be like.’

Aboriginal protests on Sydney Harbour, Australia Day, 1988

Aboriginal protests on Sydney Harbour, Australia Day, 1988

While I can be a bit oblivious, I find it hard to believe that I missed a march of that magnitude and it’s only now, some 24 years later, that I’ve been enlightened.

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
― Michael Crichton

That said, I’m still fairly ignorant. It’s simply impossible to pick up all the nuances on this flying visit and understand what happened. There are others who have done the research and also lived through the times, who can give a much better account than I. As I said, this is just a fleeting visit sparked by a magazine I’d bought at the op shop and my relationships with my extended Aboriginal family.

Bicentennial celebrations exposed differing views both about our history, our future and our identity as a nation. While it was only 24 years ago, I’d like to think we were in a different place back then when where racist jokes were the norm and most Australians really couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. Why couldn’t the Aboriginal people just join the rest of us under The Bridge and enjoy a piece of birthday cake and enjoy the “celebration of a nation”?   What was their problem and why didn’t somebody lock all those radicals up? Indeed, a disproportionate number of Indigenous people were already in gaol and there was mounting anger about black deaths in custody.

I am not an Aboriginal activist, historian or anybody who really has an understanding of the rights and wrongs involved but I am a person who has a disability and has experienced discrimination enough to know that even the well-intentioned who at least try to get into my wobbilly feet, don’t necessarily know what it’s like to walk in my shoes. Therefore, I don’t pretend to know what it is to be an Indigenous person in Australia…then or now.

However, I do care.

As much as I believe in equality for all and respecting all peoples, it is particularly harsh when someone comes into your country and treats you like shit. Takes away your land, your children and gives immigrants preferential treatment and won’t even give you the vote. Moreover, once some of these things were finally acknowledged, it wasn’t until February 2008 that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd finally managed to say “Sorry”…some 20 years after the Bicentenary!

I am also in an interesting position because my uncle is Aboriginal and because of him, my children identified themselves as being Aboriginal. No matter how much I seemed to explain to them about genetics and pointed out that we were related to my aunt, they still believed they were Aboriginal until quite recently. The penny finally dropped when, after a long discussion with our daughter, she finally asked rather sadly: “Not even a drop?” “No,” I replied. “Not even a drop”. They wish they were Aboriginal and are very proud of Australia’s Indigenous people, culture and history. We don’t see a lot of my aunt and uncle so I believe this connection has been strengthened by their school. Our school says: “Welcome to Country” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welcome_to_Country_and_Acknowledgement_of_Country) at assemblies and events and the children learn Aboriginal arts and culture in way that goes way beyond anything we ever did at school. They have local elders come into the school and talk to the kids as well. About 10% of kids at our school “identify” as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and we have an Aboriginal Liaison Officer on staff. We are very proud of our school’s passion and commitment.

It has been interesting seeing how buying a vintage magazine at the op shop has opened my eyes to so many things and made me see the Australian Bicentenary in a completely different light. That said, I have been conscious for some time that celebrating Australia Day on 26th January is not showing sensitivity or compassion towards our Indigenous people who were displaced and so often subjected to horrific crimes of abuse throughout history. This is our national shame and we shouldn’t just bury that under the carpet and pretend that nothing ever happened. We can’t. To be honest, it continues today.

I don’t know what, if anything, I can do about it personally other than write about it, which does seem a bit lame but we each have our role in the body, in our community and as I have said before, I always hope the pen is mightier than the sword. That through writing we can highlight prejudice and injustice and also love and embrace all peoples.

In this, I join with Dr Martin Luther King (Jnr) and say “I have a dream”. I haven’t quite worked out all the details yet but have joined at least 1000 other people who will be writing about compassion on 20th February, 2015…the UN International Day of Social Justice: 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. I encourage you to also participate. You can check out the details here:

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/bloggers-unite-for-a-better-world-1000-voices-speak-for-compassion/

We need to keep working on the foundations laid by trail blazers like Dr Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and see love, compassion and equality triumph!

xx Rowena

PS I have compiled a series of quotes relating to the Bicentenary, which is coming up next.

[1] The Australian Women’s Weekly, January 1988, pg 7.

[2] The Australian Women’s Weekly, January 1988, pg 7.

[3] The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995) Saturday 7 March 1987 p 9

[4] Woroni (Canberra, ACT : 1950 – 2007) Monday 7 March 1988 p 19 Article

[5] The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995) Wednesday 1 June 1988 p 30

[6] The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995) Saturday 25 January 1986 p 3

[7] http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

Getting the Chop

There comes a time when even the most stubborn and resistant soul finally sees the light.

About 8 years ago, my hairdressing friend first broached the subject of cutting my hair short. Experiencing severe chest pain, chronic shortness of breath and blackouts, I almost leaped out of the chair and was well and truly doing the Harold Holt down the street and was halfway home when she finally caught up with me wielding her snippers, of course.

Instantly, I knew how the three blind mice felt being chased by that mad farmer’s wife with the knife. She wasn’t about to cut off my ponytail. No way! It was me…an inextricable part of myself and all that I am.  I had beautiful long, dark hair…my crowning glory. I’d be naked without my hair…denuded. There was no way on this earth that I was ever going to cut my hair short and she wasn’t going to do it either!

No doubt, my  friend observed these tell tale signs of shock as I gasped and struggled to regain my composure. However, this only fuelled her determination: “When a woman turns 40, she needs to cut her hair.” I don’t recall her exact words but she also mentioned something about needing to lift your face, which along with all your other body parts, was also heading permanently south.

While this all seemed like very sound advice, I was still a youthful 36 at the time and all this talk seemed very premature. Turning forty was a very, very distant shore.

My hair stayed put.

Although I’m what you would describe as “deep”, even I have to concede that your hair is more than just a superficial mat stuck  on top of your head. To some extent, it reflects your personality, values and beliefs and if you have ever known anybody outside the hairdressing fraternity who changes their hair colour like the rest of us change their underwear, it can also be quite  an effective litmus test on the mental health front as well. When people make big changes in their life, it is no coincidence that they often change their hair. High school teachers often pick a new style as the first sign of coming “trouble”.

I turned 40 and somehow managed to dodge the snippers, although my hair was shorter and for some reason had also gone wavy if not outright curly. That was a bit of a surprise  as I’d always had close to dead straight hair. There were no complaints, however. I was mystified but delighted.

No doubt there are some who are confused but the way I see the world, there are short-haired people and long haired people just like there are cat and dog people and a firm line in between.

That makes me a long-haired person. I’ve had long hair virtually all my life aside from a very bad hair stage  at school in the mid-eighties where some kind of madness hit and I emerged from the hairdresser with a permed bob with an undercut. I thought I was the personification of cool until my hair bleached in  the sun and turned orange. Then things went from bad to catastrophic as heartache followed heartache and in bouts of teenaged angst, I cut my hair shorter and shorter in acts of cathartic release.

My hair has never been permed or short ever again!

However,  I recently I developed pneumonia and getting my hair dry was a real hassle. All
of a sudden all that hair felt like a burden, an unwanted nuisance and it had to go. I walked into the hairdresser, walked out with my new short hair and I haven’t looked back. I feel quite liberated.

There was just one thing about my new hair that blew me away.

It was straight. Talk about a blast from the past. I couldn’t wait to get home to fluff it up again.

Short was fine but I’m too quirky to be straight.

PS The kids had quite surprise when I picked them up from school with my new short, straight hair. Mister really didn’t like it and practically said it was yuck and Miss was initially quite positive but has since said that she couldn’t find me and has concerns about how to find me after school now. This new hair isn’t Mummy yet. Geoff is also getting used to it.

The new hair amidst the chaos of Christmas morning

The new hair amidst the chaos of Christmas morning

Summer Loving…A Dog’s Perspective

Only I could turn getting the dog clipped into a philosophical debate otherwise known as a “drama”.

For the average, normal person, getting our dog clipped would be a no-brainer.

Bilbo is a woolly, Border Collie designed for the Scottish highlands but living in beachside Australia where we experience truly scorching summers. Some days, it gets so hot that you could easily roast a chook or fry an egg on your bonnet if you could actually be bothered.

It’s December and it’s almost Christmas. Bilbo needed a clip. He desperately needed a clip. He has been huffing and puffing, looking like he’s about to expire but…

When you have a long-haired dog, you want a long-haired dog… even if you do live in a stinking hot country. As weird as this might sound, I find patting the dog with his long, woolly coat very therapeutic. I just love touching his fur and giving him cuddles. He is so snuggly. I know that sounds a bit selfish letting him suffer just so I could play with his fur but I did relent. I booked him in. He had his haircut. It’s just that I found the whole process difficult.

I also wondered how the dog would feel about losing his coat. He’d never been clipped before and his fur coat doesn’t exactly have a zipper. Once it’s off, it stays off. He’s only known himself with fur.  I was pretty convinced poor Bilbo was going to feel naked, exposed and wonder where his real self had gone. He doesn’t spend a lot of time looking in the mirror but I’m sure that if he did catch a glimpse of his reflection, he would wonder who was staring back at him. Who is this new dog? I’m sure even a dog has some kind of inbuilt sense of identity and for most of us, how we look is definitely a part of who we are. I’m not talking about vanity here. I’m just talking about having a sense of what we look like that makes us unique…ourselves.

Now, of course I don’t know if dogs actually do have a sense of identity. Moreover, even though I love my dog, I have to admit he already had issues. Bilbo believes he’s a person, not a dog. He also believes he’s our third child.

So you see, the poor dog was already mixed up enough without having a hair, or should I say fur, crisis as well.

Anyway, after weeks of procrastination and hard core avoidance, Bilbo has finally had his run in with the lawn mower on Saturday and his beautiful fur coat has gone. He was naked, all except his face and the very tip of his tail. They don’t usually clip a Border Collie’s tail but his tail was quite matted and it needed a fresh start. I can accept that. It all makes perfect logical sense and it was certainly more humane (if that’s what you call looking after your dog). That said, his precious tail looks quite odd-especially as the groomer left a white tuft at the end as some kind of compensation for losing the rest. It’s all quite neat and I’m sure it will look better in a couple of weeks but at the moment, the poor dog looks like a cheerleader wagging a pom pom and it does look… um…”different”!

DSC_3854

Bilbo wasn’t only missing his coat. He had also changed colour. He went into the dog wash booth black and came out light grey. I could say it was like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis but even though the dog groomer had done a fabulous job, he’d gone in the butterfly and emerged the caterpillar. Apparently, border collies have two fur layers and the top coat with longer hairs is black and the undercoat is light grey and they actually appear grey when all the hairs are the same length.

I must stress that we were very happy with the dog groomer. Bilbo wasn’t the easiest client and kept trying to bite the clippers when they went near his front paws and tried to jump out when she turned on the hairdryer. He was a little freaked out. He’s been well-trained by the rest of the family.

The kids weren’t too sure about Bilbo’s new look, especially our daughter who can be quite “particular”.

Initially, our daughter pretty much rejected the dog. She asked me not to take him anywhere near school because her friends would tease her for having a weird dog. I guess it was good that she was open with me so we could talk about “difference” and being more accepting. I reminded her that she loved Bilbo and he was still the same dog and would also be much better off in summer without his coat. I felt this was an important lesson to help her be more accepting of people. After all, we comes in all shapes, colours and sizes….themes and variations and I’d like both my kids to accept people for who they are, not based on appearances!

I do wonder what Bilbo thinks about losing his coat and raised the subject with the family in the car:

Ro:  “naked”.

Geoff: “liberated”.

Mr: “weird”.

Miss: “cold”.

Seeing Bilbo without all his camouflage, has renewed my commitment to his diet. He looks like he’s been squeezed into a tight lycra body suit, which is a size too small and reveals every single bump and indulgence.

He needs to lose weight and get fit and I need to join him!

There has, however, been an unexpected upside to getting the dog clipped.

He stayed out of the rain this morning.

I will explain…

For some strange reason, Bilbo who is usually a very smart dog, stands out in the rain getting sopping wet and then expects to be let in the house and given a pat. He looks terribly forlorn and hurt when he has to stay outside to dry off but as much as I love our dog, that wet dog smell and the mud and too much.

Yesterday, when we were discussing how Bilbo might feel about his haircut, the kids both mentioned the rain and how Bilbo would now be able to feel the rain. Mr said “Bilbo would find it weird to feel the rain”.

Well, this morning the theory was put to the test and we had an almost dry dog. His head, which pretty much has its original fur, was a bit wet as it had been sticking out of his kennel.

We are all adjusting to the new dog. Bilbo hasn’t had a nervous breakdown about losing his coat and Amelia didn’t say anything when Bilbo came in the car with us to school this morning. Patting the shorn fur doesn’t feel the same as the long fur but I’ll live. And now that we have the dog all ready for the summer heat, we’ve had another cold snap and the dog is probably cold.

Perhaps, he could have kept his coat just a little bit longer…

xx Rowena

PS Putting this post together showing me how difficult it is to photography the dog. I was chasing him around the house and every time I’d call him to try to get him to look at the camera, he’d come over to me. In the end, Geoff took the photo of him with me. I also realised that we don’t have many photos of the dog. We usually take photos when we go out and he’s not with us. Considering how many photos I take, I will have to work on that.

PPS Of course, since having the dog clipped, the weather has been unseasonably cold. Last night, I was looking for my overcoat to head out to a Christmas party. It’s already been packed away but I fished my winter PJs back out of the storage crate. I also let Bilbo sleep inside. Geoff heard a mad scramble of claws when he got up during the night. He suspects the dog was “illegally parked” on the couch.