Wednesday, 31 October 2012

"It was the badest thing I ever done."

He went missing a few days ago ... was not where he was supposed to be. I thought I'd lost him forever, thought I would never see him again and my whole body went heavy. Very hard to breathe ... just as we called the police, he was found. So we uncalled the police and the relief washed through so fast my legs buckled.

"He's alive? Great. Now I'm gonna kill him."

He's only ten - almost eleven. I give him freedom and trust, rules, boundaries, jobs. I tell him ... I know it's hard, being a kid! Sometimes I'm not such a great mother and I bend at the pressure of it all, this constant being in control of these humans that came out of my body.

And then I remember that my control is only an illusion, anyway.

He was so sorry, so contrite .. thought he would get away with it, didn't realise we would all be out looking for him. Wrote me a note ... "Mum! I'm so so so sorry for making you worry and sad. It was the badest thing I ever done and I won't ever do it again!"

I rang my mum and told her I wish I could move into her spare room. Told her that parenting is BULLSHIT, that children aren't even GRATEFUL for all of the sacrifices we make. Mum completely understood, as only a parent with four grown-up kids can.

Dave and I have been parenting children of various ages and sizes for many years, now. It's a privilege, it's wonderful, it's frustrating, disappointing, tiring. I've learnt a lot about parenting, mostly through trial and error. We muddle through, think that it will get easier as they get older. I'm starting to realise it's harder.

Late the other night we went through punishments and grounding. Apologetic letters were written, promises made. He's so little and big at the same time. The elongated face of a pre-teen and the heart of a lion, starting to find his feet in the world.

"Mate, the thought of something happening to you ..... breaks my heart up into a thousand pieces."

We cried. I climbed up onto the top bunk and held him like I've always held him and I wished we could stay like that forever.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

I Am Mummyblogger.

I'm just going to say this and shut up about it because MAN it's getting boring.

The term "mummyblogger" originated online in America, after a huge influx of parenting bloggers hit the web. In the 2005 NY Times article "Mommy and Me" it was said "the baby blog, in many cases ... is an online shrine to parental self-absorption."

I've been blogging since April 2007, and have watched the explosion of mommyblogging in the US and UK .. and the controversy and fallout that came with it.

"Mommy Bloggers are a force to be reckoned with. With the tip tap of their fingers on the keyboard, they can bring awareness to a variety of issues, throw down on a brand or just simple share a story that will touch the lives of many." - The Continuing Reign of Mommybloggers, Technorati.

Most women bloggers who happen to have children bristle at being called a mummyblogger. I don't mind it, except when it's used in a tone that drips with derision and disdain. Underestimate "mummybloggers" at your peril, for the collective online power they can wield is immense, and only just being recognised in Australia.

Canadian blogger Catherine Connors from Her Bad Mother wrote:

"Bloggers, of the quote/unquote mommy variety or otherwise, are a new species in the wild of public discourse, but the history of women, and especially mothers, being discouraged from speaking out and telling their own stories is a long one. Feminine virtue in ancient Rome – pudicitia – was actually defined, in part, by the quality of being able to keep one’s mouth shut and remain passively and modestly behind the veil of the private sphere (as opposed to male virtue, of course – the word virtue is even derived from the Latin word for male, or vir – which was defined by its public character.)"

As a direct result of her blog, Catherine now works as Editor-In-Chief at one of the biggest parenting websites in the world, Mommyblogging is routinely dissected and discussed in America, and is now very-much accepted as a legitimate and accessible way for women to communicate and form communities. Even make some money, as savvy marketers and advertisers in the digital space have found out. 

Million Dollar Mommy Blogging - Reinforcing the Feminine Mystique? - Huffington Post

Queen of the Mommy Bloggers - NY Times

In her blog post "Mommy Blogs Are Women Blogs" Liz Gumbinner from Mom 101 talks about how some of the blogs she loves are even written by women who aren't mothers - a view I whole-heartedly agree with.

"I always wonder if I would have read mom blogs, had I discovered them before I actually spawned. Whether I would find kindred spirits in the community of women writers, writing about womanly things and shared experiences."

The debate about mummyblogs has been quietly going on down here in Australia for a while, mostly on the blogs themselves. A lot has been written about "mummyblogs" in the press, especially since the morning tea at Kirribilli House. 

Back in August, I watched President Obama address all of the attendees at BlogHer New York via live video-link, like it was the most normal thing in the world to do. (Probably because it was.)

Today I had a lengthy chat to John McTernan, Director of Communications for Prime Minister Julia Gillard. I had a few questions for him, asked him if Julia Gillard thought I was a soft vote.

"Eden, do you think you're a soft vote?" 

I laughed, told him I know I'm not, I'm just getting a little peeved at the consistent use of the term"mummyblogger" being meant in a derogatory way. John told me that the PM will be holding another get-together for people in the online space, possibly before the year is out. He sees the landscape has changed, that there are now new channels and new mediums to interact and communicate with people. A lot of the public digital discourse occurring online today is by women.
Some journalists are dubious of that.

When John told me that the Prime Minister and her office places value on intelligent, opinionated people who have their own views, are authentic .. that she actually really is interested in a rich and varied public discussion .... I believed him.

When we hung up I went straight into a video conference call with my fellow World Vision Ambassadors about our trip to India. We talked about slums and poverty, child labour and the logistics. We leave in seventeen days. I shouldn't be going, for so many reasons.

I'm going.

Then I had approvals for two sponsored posts I've written, which will be up on my blog soon. I feel good about them.

Then I had a look around the internets and came across Freerange Shae's post she wrote today about her body. She joined up in an I Heart My Body campaign that over a hundred women have so far linked up to. I adore Shae .. one of the funniest, most real women I have met online. She home-schools three young girls, is passionate about wholesome food, feminism .. things that MEAN things. The good stuff.

I decided to join in too. When Dave got home I asked him to write "mummy" on one cheek and "blogger" on the other. He didn't bat an eyelid, used a permanent marker. I love that man. I could not be married to any other.

I've entitled this photo, "Kiss It."

Sure, I'll be your mummyblogger.

Now I'm gonna moonwalk outta here.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

What I Have To Offer.

This morning I got up and constructed my reality on the way to the coffee machine. Read my morning reading, then forgot it. My clothes are on the floor. I felt as strange and disconnected as ever.

"Another day? Didn't we just HAVE one of those things? How long is this going to continue?"

On the way home from the school run I sang every single word of Cleaning Out My Closet. I cleaned my whole kitchen, wiping up crumbs and down bins. Put a load of washing on, hung out two, swept the floor. Lit six candles all in a row, to bring some Spirit to the table. The empty washing-up rack smiled at me. It's nice to appropriate life into your inanimate objects.

What things can I use ... to get through the day? Because we all use something. We all feel as empty and useless as each other, and fill up that insatiable hole with a whole host of things designed to distract us from ourselves.

Eden, you're going to have to watch the Charlie Kaufman video that BabyMac and her husband sent to you. Again.

So I did.

No words, for what this video means to me. You should watch it.

My clothes are still on the floor, but that's ok.

There's always tomorrow. (Except when there's not.)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Eden Riley Of Edenland: Recovering Alcoholic, World Vision Ambassador.

Last night I watched a show called Mediawatch. They did a story on myself and a few other bloggers earning money from their blogs, and that's how I was introduced.

"And Eden Riley of Edenland – recovering alcoholic, World Vision ambassador, plain-speaker extraordinaire."

I heard it and winced. Played it for Dave when he got home and watched him wince. It's a little embarrassing, being known as the recovering alcoholic blogger. It's not like I'm a recovering brain surgeon, or a recovering Nobel Peace-Prize winner.

But it is the truth. I lived it. And I wrote it.

I've been blogging for five and a half years now. Watched entire online landscapes come and go. Waited patiently for Australia to play catch-up to the rest of the world when it comes to this digital space. I've learnt and grown and made mistakes on this blog. I've evolved, told the truth, ranted, matured. I've bent over backwards to disclose any sponsorship I may have with businesses and brands and could not be more transparent if I tried. I don't have anything to hide, I adhere to my own personal code of ethics, as do most every other blogger I know. The ones who don't, don't last long.

I signed with business dynamo and talented woman Lorraine Murphy from the Remarkables over four months ago. She is helping me value the time and energy it takes to maintain a blog. DISCLOSURE: I'm not out to earn a million bucks. I've had an unsteady relationship with money ever since my dad killed himself over his finances back in 1988.

I've never blogged for stats or money, or fame. Some days I don't know why I blog ... but then again, some days I don't know why I do anything at all.

You know what's a great thing to use your blog for? Drawing attention to things that you passionately believe in. Like social justice, feminism, child abuse, poverty.

A few weeks back I met up with World Vision CEO Tim Costello and told him there was a chance that I could be travelling to India in November as part of a World Vision blogger trip. Tim told me all about the caste system and I told Tim all about rehab. He didn't bat an eyelid ... I love how World Vision are cool with aligning themselves with somebody like me. Maybe I kind of fit into their ethos of digging deep and making a change in the world. (In my case, I had to start with myself.)

In a few weeks time, I leave for a ten-day trip to India to blog every day about child labour, children living in poverty, and women's rights.  I've never wanted to go to India - too hot, overcrowded, stinky. Had to google it the other night, told Dave it was two countries up from Afghanistan. I have a feeling I'll be blown open in ways I can't pre-empt. Like my last World Vision trip to Africa, I'll be using this blog to bring some attention to parts of the world that often get overlooked, but also focus on a lot of the positive goals and initiatives that World Vision are achieving over there.

The other bloggers on the trip are Carly Jacobs from Smaggle, and Kelly from Be A Fun Mum. Renowned mobile street photographer Misho Baranovic  and Joy Toose from World Vision Australia will also be coming.

I'm so privileged and lucky to be going. I'm incredibly grateful to my husband Dave for being so utterly supportive and continuing to run his own building business up here in the Blue Mountains while taking care of our two young boys, while mummy goes off on a not-so-frivolous globetrot. It means the world to me. I'm also really grateful that the (not huge!) amounts of money I have earned from my blog can go towards groceries and childcare so I can justify going.

In conclusion:

Blogging IS mainstream, being a recovering alcoholic is SO much nicer than being a plain alcoholic, and I'm getting immunised tomorrow for a trip to India to raise awareness about issues that "the media" appear to have lost interest in.

It's a long way to travel for a prawn vindaloo.

Who's with me?

Should I google India ... or just wing it when I get there?

PS. Maybe there is no media. Maybe you can be your own media.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Weight Of A Man.

My two identical twins sisters, my mother and I, all met outside Gate F at the Sydney Entertainment Centre and ate dumplings and laughed. Big, raucous, inappropriate, laughter.

We were low and tired and sad, waiting for Mumford and Sons to come onstage. The next day the movers would come to mums house and she would leave the last house that Jim ever lived in. 

The band came onstage and blew everybody out of the water like I knew they would. Mum bought us all tickets while Jim was in hospital. 

When the lead singer sang, it was with his whole heart. I want to write like he sings.

After four hours sleep we all got up and helped mum pack up the last of her stuff.

I wondered if Jim was hanging around. I asked Leigh, "Do you think he's here right now, watching us?" 

She turned and shouted HEY JIMMY!!!

I don't know what I believe in anymore.

Mum has no idea how amazing she is, just keeps getting up every day and facing the world again and again. She didn't go back to say goodbye her old house and I told her she didn't have to.

We got to the new place and it's perfect. Maybe everything will be ok after all. Who the hell knows. 

Mum worried that Jim might be getting hot in the car so I went and got him. I carried him down into her new house, the weight of ashes and bones in my hand. The measure of what's left. 

He was heavy. As heavy as our hearts. Set him up on the bedside table next to a candle and then unwrapped some more kitchen boxes, then drove off to my life while my mum came to terms with her new one. 

 Mum this song is for you. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A Letter To Eminem On His 40th Birthday.

Dear Marshall,

Do you ever look back on your career and wonder how it all happened?

"But when it's all said and done, I'll be 40 before I know it. With a 40 on the porch telling stories with a bottle of Jack, two grandkids in my lap, babysiting for Hailie ... while Hailie's out getting smashed."
- Drug Ballad

Hailie's not out getting smashed and neither are you. Well done on your recovery, man. I didn't buy Relapse when it came out because you kind of lost it there for a while. But you came back, bigger than ever, with a powerful force behind you. People usually don't come back from where you've been. The statistics aren't great.

"Whats it take, to get it through your thick skulls? As if this aint some bullshit. People don't usually come back this way, from a place that was dark as I was in .. just to get to this place." - Lighters

That thing you do with words is outstanding. Only twenty-six letters in the alphabet and you arrange them just so. Your words are a cascading calvacade of calvary. You cut things up and fuck it all off. Thanks for helping me get through my life, especially lately. My stepdad was dying in hospital recently and the only song I had on my phone was No Love. (Seriously, how the hell did you do that?) It helped me harness the rage and futility. I blasted it so loud my ears almost bled and I didn't care. You make me not care, and sometimes I need to not care because I care so much about this stupid shitty world and all of the stupid beautiful people in it. I have other heroes and people I admire but you make me feel ok about punching holes in the sky and being brave enough to stand up and tell it like it is, not how I wish it was.

"And I am, whatever you say I am. If I wasn't, then why would I say I am?" - The Way I Am

There's been many days in the past few months where I thought I wasn't going to make it through. Our demons are related. You are currently slaying yours like a champ, slicing them with your words and wit and heart that grows stronger with every beat of every rap. Mine almost killed me. I got ten years shiny years up and then it all turned to shit last year. It's been a hard slog to get back. A few weeks ago on 9/11 I had a solid twelve months up but I didn't care, didn't dare announce it because I was in negotiations with my own heart about whether to even continue in this world.

I'm continuing. I'm getting stronger. When I'm in my power I am STRONG, like you. Guess we just have to keep moving forward. I like the terminology and care you take when you describe your recovery ... it's easy to see that you got it. You got it so much and I hope you always do. I hope you feel a huge sense of achievement at even making it to forty, and I can't wait to see what you do next. You're my writing mentor and you don't even know it. So many times I've sat down and played Cold Wind Blows again and again until I strip all the care back until all that's left is the tainted, ugly, beautiful truth. I can't thank you enough.

My husband and I took our ten year old son to see you in concert last year in Sydney, you blew our hoodies off. I'm cool with my sons listening to your lyrics. Your music will hopefully give them an outlet to express their rage and anger that I hope they feel at the world. Anger is a misunderstood emotion ... you harness it well. My dad never wanted to know me, either. It's the source of my biggest pain but I still continue to call him an arsehole long after he is dead. I probably should forgive him but fuck that.

Tomorrow I am meeting my mum and two sisters to help her move house, because we live in a Jimless world now and it's hard. Life changes on the turn of a dime.

Today I'm blasting your music and the notes come through my speakers and help me form my armor. I'm living a life where I need a lot of armor, and I just want to say thank you for helping me do that. I'm a chameleon and mainly broken inside so it takes a lot to reach me. Thanks for punching all the people who live inside my head out of the way, especially the ones who want to tear me down.

Thanks for helping me stand up.

People email me a lot about their recovery and addictions. I'm honoured. It's a common thing, yet so incredibly shameful and embarrassing to own up to. You taught me the immense power that comes when you own something. When you tell the truth about something in life, it helps other people tell the truth too. Thank fuck for that, and thank fuck for you.

I have Not Afraid as my ringtone at the moment, so everytime I get a phone call you tell me that you're not afraid. Which makes me think that maybe I don't have to be so afraid either.

Happy birthday, Em. I hope you have many more, you motherfucking cocksucker of hope.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Using Your Blog For BAD.

Yesterday I had an interview with Mediawatch about the state of blogging in Australia as compared to the state of mainstream media. I fear being stitched up, as the Mediawatch motto is "Everyone loves it ... until they're on it."

If I end up being quoted on the show next week, I'll have to stand by my words because I said them. I may not be the most sharp or cultured tool in the shed, but I have a keen interest in world issues and a firm belief in trying to make a difference.

One of the biggest and best ways we can use social media and blogging is to shine some light on things that would ordinarily go unnoticed by "mainstream" media. Lori from RRSAHM is going to Borneo to meet endangered Orangutans. When Mrs Woog decided to raise $250 for Loud Shirt Day because her second son Jack was born profoundly deaf ... at last count her readers have donated over three thousand dollars.

New-York based blogger and advertising executive Liz Gumbinner just got off the plane from Ethiopia, a blogging trip she made with twelve other ONEMoms. All real women. All using their blogs and making a difference. All Things Fadra recently set up Charitable Influence  .. "Connecting bloggers and their unique voices to charities and non-profits." Genius!

THIS is what sets me on fire about blogging. Doing something that means something. If I get all self-obsessed and sad and gloomy, the very best thing I can do is take the focus off myself and see what I can do for somebody else. It's one of the biggest meanings to life.

I wake up in the morning in my big house with all of my beautiful guys and we're all safe and warm and fed. I'm privileged and able-bodied. If I don't help others, I'm an arse. If I don't teach my kids to help others, I'm an arse. It's my moral duty. I spent my entire twenties not giving a crap about anything and anyone, so now it's payback time.

All of the small things are just as vital as the big things ... helping your neighbour out. Asking somebody if they are ok. Donating stuff to Vinnies. Signing up for something in your local community. Doesn't have to be huge or overwhelming.

Cate Bolt is off to Indonesia again this week. Last time she was there I donated $100 to her orphanage and THIS is what happened.

I wept and I wept, at being able to make a difference to somebody. Without even getting off the couch, because I am the laziest arsehole in town. Give me bonbons while YOU go change the world. I'll hit my Paypal button then go get a pedicure.

This week is Blog Action Day, otherwise known as BAD. The theme is "The Power Of We."

I'm watching the rise of blogging and social media explode in Australia's consciousness, and I really hope we can harness some it for doing good.

If we don't stand for something, we stand for nothing.

"Mum ... don't you mean The Power Of Wee?"

I'm a Spider-man carrying, pigeon-toed World Vision Blog Ambassador. I'm a recovering alcoholic looney tune with an inferiority complex. I'm an able-bodied, privileged, white woman who can do more things than she will ever realise. I turned forty this year and just want to get stuff DONE. Give me the next decade, Universe. Just ten years. (Then when I turn fifty I'll need a hip replacement and probably move in with my mother. She can teach me how to sew buttons on. We can dye our hair purple, donate to worthy causes from the couch.)

Look at all of these bloggers, using their blogs for BAD. 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Scenes From A Blogging Conference.

Blogging conferences are weird things for weirdos.

Beautiful weirdos. 

Walked around marvelling at how poised and grounded everybody else was. I suspect everybody else thought that about everybody else.

There were lots of panels to go to, keynotes to hear, new twitter handles to learn, crap coffee to drink.

Valerie Khoo, Kerri Sackville, Allison Tait talk blogging and writing. 

It was a pleasure to hear Sarah Wilson talk. She was interviewed by ex-journo Nikki and they both spoke so well about media and blogging. 

Practically twins!

Meeting Sarah has made me want to get fit again, for my mind and spirit as well as my body. To eat well. (As soon as I finish my cake.)

The conference went for two days, so I got the chance to catch up with people I haven't seen for ages, as well as meet some new ones. 

Smaggle, me, Lizosaurus, Rah, and Rhi (Liz I am SO sorry for spitting ice on your leg. I was nervous.)

I flitted around for a little bit, wishing I could go get my photo taken in the photo booth but then I saw Anna Spargo-Ryan in front of me like a beacon of hope. She offered me a lift back to my hotel and I said yes. Then no, than maybe. Then yes again ... so I followed her out, and didn't say goodbye to anybody. (See: weirdo.)

Anna dropped her parking ticket and went to pay and fumbled with money. I told her that the physical world was bullshit.

She said, "I know. I should have stayed at home in my computer."

We chatted and swapped some cool snippet stories. When I got out, I walked up the Docklands, found my hotel, but couldn't open the sliding glass door onto to the street. Friday night was in full merriment swing but it was also a bit deserted and I felt scared. I almost started crying because the whole time I was in Melbourne I couldn't stop thinking about Jill and wondering at the senselessness of her death. I felt fear, standing there in the cold while people and groups of guys walked past me. I NEVER feel fear like that. Sucked. I don't know that guys will ever truly know how vulnerable a woman can feel sometimes. Regardless of how tough she is or where she lives or if she knows kung fu.

Finally I got in, after ten frustrating minutes.

The next day I caught up with Richenda, who I'd met exactly a year ago at last years Problogger Conference.

Richenda has left World Vision now and started up ntegrity. "A social media agency with a difference." Richenda was instrumental in getting me to Africa this year .... we still can't believe we pulled that off.

Mrs Woog, Lorraine, Nikki and I were on a panel together, Nikki wrote about it here. 

Double-shot blogger selfie.

Got the chance to catch up with these ladies and do a Hands Up For Health!

Joy from World Vision Australia, Louisa Claire, Annabel Candy, me and Emma Stirling. It's nice to get involved in causes and feel a bit of passion about things ... makes me feel included and useful.

I love this photo of Problogger sitting at his own conference, listening and learning.

Bono once said that he hopes he always remains teachable .... I hope I do, too. There's always something new to learn, some fresh way of looking at things.

Darren took us all outside and told us to look around Etihad Stadium.

Said to imagine this as the blogosphere.

"Nobody is better than anybody else. Every "big" blogger started small, and every one of us has the potential to do something. Make a difference, start a new thing. So go home and do something."

Ok Darren, I will.

Thanks, weirdo.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Putting On My Best Face At The Problogger Training Event. And A Giveaway.

The best beauty advice I ever received was my grandmother telling me to always moisturise my face. I was fourteen. She gave me a tub of cream, a bottle of glycerine and rose water, and these words:

"Edie, if you put cream on your face every day starting from today, and use this toner ... you'll thank me when you're older."

Oh I thank her. But .... she forgot to tell me to also moisturise my neck.

Don't even get me started on my knees. Aging is fascinating!

Today I'm headed to Melbourne for the Problogger Training Event. I almost didn't go because I feel weird and sad and I'm easily overwhelmed. But, it's Problogger.

Darren Rowse is one of the most successful bloggers in the world, as well as being an all-round genuine, decent and caring guy. I waited in line to get this blurry photo taken with Darren at this years Digital Parents Conference, and felt like a really geeky fangirl.

In contrast, Mrs Woog just walks up to Darren with her scarf lasso and ropes him in like a cowgirl.

Yesterday I realised that I was flying to Melbourne TODAY, so had to do a whole beauty revamp. I woke up pre-menstrual, sad and weird, and SO UGLY. You know those days you feel dreadful? Yeah.

I got my eyebrows shaped and eyelashes tinted, immediately felt better. I took a gamble and decided to colour my hair with an unknown colour the day before a blogging conference.

My hair colour is a big deal for me, people would always ask me what colour dye I used and I'd say, none! Alas, the colour is fading so I have to bite the bullet. I think I'm going to get more brassy and bold the older I get.

Fiery Red 

Putting Rocco in the bath, he watched as I dropped the colour dye all over our sandstone bathroom floor, swearing, bending over naked scooping it up with my bare hands and putting it back in the container. (Dave you can hardly notice the stains I promise.)

Very quickly the dye became bright red.

"Mum why are you bleeding YOU'RE BLEEDING ON YOUR NECK."

I had a terrible, foreboding feeling about this dye session so I washed it off after just fifteen minutes. It was a huge gamble, but I LOVE it.

Next up - found out the kids have not only taken out the batteries of my nose hair trimmer AGAIN, but lost the end part of it so I had to go to Kmart Katoomba and buy a new one for fifteen dollars. Also bought a new black top for $6 to wear tomorrow. Score!

Finally, my makeup routine.

A few months ago I was given a Maybelline New York makeover by amazing Makeup Director Nigel Stanislaus. I can't thank him enough ... I'm forty years old and never knew the importance of matching the right foundation to my face. There's a range called FITme, and my number is 135. Simple as that.
So whenever I want to feel a little less .... old and haggard, I do my routine and it takes me less than ten minutes.

Dream Smooth Primer, FITme Foundation 135, Colour Tattoo "Too Cool," Great Lash mascara, FITme Pressed Powder 135, FITme Bronzer, lippie.

You can buy all of these at a great price in your local chemist or supermarket.

Or drugstore in Seventh Avenue, New York City.

Choosing a new Colour Tattoo eyeshadow.

I told Maybelline I was writing about them and asked if I could do a giveaway and they said yes! If you'd like to win a basket of Maybelline New York makeup worth $200, just leave a comment below telling me your one most valuable piece of beauty advice. I'll choose a winner and announce it here next Tuesday 16th October.

It can be anything .. for example, mine would be to use flushable toilet-training wipes to remove excess hair dye from the back of your neck while you're naked in the bathroom and your kid is screaming in the bath.

Makeup on, hair red, neck still crepey. Let's go.

I'll be talking on a panel at the Problogger #PBEvent tomorrow with the Queen of Makeup herself, Nikki from Styling You. Also Lorraine Murphy from the Remarkables Group and Mrs Woog. Please come and say hi. I'll be as overwhelmed as ever.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Speech Heard Around The World.

This was quite something.

Overseas coverage of the Prime Minister's speech yesterday was vastly different to local coverage, as noted by Mr Denmore in The Failed Estate:

"One principle in journalism is that the closer you are to a story, the less likely you are to see it. In this case, a passionate and thrilling speech by a prime minister about sexism and the low-level tactics of a political opposition leader beyond cynicism attracted world attention. But our gallery are too clever to see that."

New Yorker (USA) "Ladylike."
Salon (USA) "Australian PM Takes On Misogyny."
The Spectator (UK) "More Than Just A Man's Bitch."
The Telegraph (UK) "Julia Gillard's blistering attack on sexism was her best card."
Buzzfeed (USA) "Australian Prime Minister Destroys Opposition Leader For Hypocrisy."
Jezebel (USA) "Best Thing You'll See All Day."
Huffington Post (USA) "Australian PM Launches Blistering Attack."
... and many more.

Transcript of the Prime Ministers' speech in full -  Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Are We Allowed To Talk About The Rampant Objectification And Sexualised Violence Towards Women?

A few days ago, my two sons and I went into the local service station to buy some comics. We walked over to the magazine section and stood there for about, twenty seconds. Looking down at all of the pornographic images. I'm not easily shocked - but these were really nasty stick mags, proudly out on display. They were the ONLY mags on display. Not even a Who to be found. I looked up to the man behind the counter but he wouldn't meet my gaze.

As my ten year old and four year old boys stood there, I almost took a photo. For the contrast. All the black leather and boobs hanging out ... the blondes on all fours who love it ROUGH. In ALL of the holes. It was absurd. Ludicrous. I knew it was wrong, but my boys didn't.

Sexual violence, sexist attitudes and the objectifying of women are reaching epic levels. It's ingrained, everywhere.

A photo of the last few years of the GQ Magazine Men of the Year winners:

Silly Lana forgot to put her tux on!

I'm not quite sure what this image is trying to convey. Something about power?

Marc, is it a perfume or a vibrator? I'm confused.

One woman is killed every week in Australia. Can you believe that? Usually by somebody they know. Sometimes, by somebody they don't.

I've been thinking a lot about Jill. 

As soon as I saw the Facebook page her husband set up to help try and find her, I had a terrible feeling.

And I was right. Many other people had a terrible feeling too, and voiced it on twitter, Facebook, blogs. Armchair detective agents in droves, publicly commenting on theories. It was disgusting and wrong, culminating in both the police and her family repeatedly appealing for privacy, for people to stop public conjecture on a shocking crime that needs to go through Australia's justice system.

Social media played a huge part in piecing together what happened to Jill that night, but it also served to victimise her further. She was blamed for walking by herself late at night, for having a few drinks with colleagues ... even for being attractive and respectable. "Why does a pretty white woman get so much media attention?"

We live in a world that has sexually objectified women beyond belief. So much that even women themselves are numb to it. I am. I also judged Jill, sitting safe in my armchair and watching the haunting, despicable CCTV footage that made me cry and feel sick. I judged her shoes. "Jill, you can't run in those shoes."

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared the 25th of November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, with a white ribbon as its iconic symbol. White Ribbon began in Australia in 2003 as part of UNIFEM (now UN Women).

White Ribbon is Australia's only national male-led violence prevention campaign, and the White Ribbon Campaign is now the largest global male-led movement to stop violence against women.

Read this piece of writing. Every woman in the world has a story like that.

I'm fed up. Our children are being indoctrinated right under our noses. I'll be actively working to undo this, as my boys grow up. Open conversations about body image, respect, the use of violence. I'll be telling my sons that, despite evidence to the contrary ... women are not sex dolls.

I'll be doing something next month for White Ribbon Day ... for Jill, for her family, for all of the women who are silently struggling against violence. I need to care about this, for my sons, your sons ... and everybody's daughters. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Sunday Morning Coming Down.

Over a year ago I bought this Tijuana Christmas vinyl record, because it looked so cool.

"One day,  I'll get a record player and we'll listen to it."

Mum is moving house soon and culling a lot of stuff. She gave me her record player so that I could finally listen to my record. She also gave me two *huge* boxes of records.

The past weekend was our last at the beach before school goes back today. I sat down and opened the boxes, expecting to make one pile to give away and one to keep.

There were no piles ... we're keeping all of them.

This is just a snippet ... there's about a hundred all up. Elvis, Billie Halliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Beatles, Louie Armstrong, Bing Cosby, Bucks Fizz ..... SO MANY. I called mum straight away and left a message on her phone.

"You are the coolest woman in the world." 

When we saw this, Dave and I started laughing.

When we first met, he had a copy of this album on CD and would play it over and over and over and over again. I think I accidentally threw it out, but now it's back.

That old Gypsy Kings chestnut.

To celebrate the record players arrival, Dave restored an old sideboard and painted it in bright colours. It took all weekend. The boys watched as he set it up, unsure of this new technology.

I couldn't wait for Bamboleo to finish so I could put this on:

I know all the records so well. I've grown up with them. There's something so delicious and mindful about listening to music like this, like it's an actual thing to do.

Especially the way Kris Kristofferson sings "Sunday Morning Coming Down." Sunday mornings throughout my twenties were so lonely and weird. And terrible. I always felt like there was a better life for me somewhere, but I didn't know how to live it.

Now I know.

We danced to Heartbreak Hotel then listened to Rodney Rude (for 4.5 seconds) then Me and Bobby McGee then Bamboleo once more.

All because of one record ... one little bug that went ka-choo.

Anybody still play vinyl?

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Davey Gravy.

I always used to get mad when he brought home broken things.

He does it all the time ... chairs, cabinets, light fittings, an old table from the tip. Drove me nuts, until I realised that he brought me home. I used to be pretty broken.

He is the hottest, most compassionate, capable, and generous man I have ever known. I've leant on him heavily these past few months, and he just digs deep every time.

Whatever we go through in our relationship, we just keep coming back to each other. Stronger and wiser. I only ever thought I could feel this kind of love for my children, but I feel it for him, too.

I don't know how I can show him what he means to me, how much I love him and how he's made me be a better person.

What an absolute pile of soppy shit!

But it's true ..... I adore this arsehole so much. He's my arsehole, and I am his, forever. We have deepened and grown together so much, this year.

He was the only man who ever broke through to my heart. No mean feat.

We drive past the boys home on Parramatta Road, and I ask him to tell me stories about what it was like there. He's a walking miracle. It's a wonder he's still alive.

When we first met, he thought nobody would want to be with him because he already had children. I told him it didn't matter, I loved kids and I love him.

He's the single most grounding influence in my life. He's so strong, so clever and manly and old-school cool. To this day, he teaches me how to look after myself properly. He made me get out of the car on the day of Jim's funeral when I felt the worst panic of my life and didn't think I could get out of the car.

"Hon, I KNOW you can do this."

He was right.

Told me one of the best things I taught him is to stop caring so much about what other people think.

He brought home a whole cabinet, just for my plates. We hung our masks next to each other.

Mine is from Africa and his is from Mexico and they both have shadows and they both don't care.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

I Was Here.

I believe that if a person amasses a huge fortune or following or influence in the world, they then have a responsibility to the world.

Many people squander their chance to do this. Some realise halfway through their lives and make amazing changes, others die unevolved.

A handy hint in life is to take the spotlight off ourselves and turn it onto somebody else who could use a spotlight. Or some food. Clean water. Justice. A conversation. Some words. A knowing glance. An inappropriate joke.

We have the power to give, more than we know we do.


Are you here?


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A Few Of My Favourite Wordsmiths.

The thing I love about great writers is, they're everywhere!

Karen Charlton is one of the best Australian writers. That will probably make her squirm a bit when she reads it but it doesn't make it any less true. She blogs at Rhythm and Method ... her words often get stuck inside my head for days. In a really lovely, refreshing way.

"Mum just wanted me to finish and put it away, put the scissors back where I found them, and it always felt too early, I wasn’t finished, nothing I rendered was ever as I imagined in my head. Mum never saw what I was trying to do, only the mess it made. I wanted to contain the world, rather than have it contain me. Now I own more pairs of scissors than shoes."

Next up is Bigwords herself, Bianca Wordley. I've never been to Adelaide but I want to, just to visit her in her beautiful house with her beautiful children. Bianca likes gin and is writing her first novel.

Karen Andrews from Miscellaneous Mum has a new book coming out in November called "Crying in the Car - Reflections on Life and Motherhood." I cry in the car a lot. I'll be buying her book.

Anything that Helen Razer writes. Ever.

Allison Tait is an established, clever and savvy writerly person. Her blog is Life in a Pink Fibro .... she recently moved house and no longer lives in an actual pink fibro, but to me she always will. Her latest book is Career Mums, written to help you get back into work after having children.

"It will give you the tips and tricks you need to organise parental and household duties so that resentment doesn't become an extra member of your family. Career. Home. Life ... there has never been a better time to have it all."

Valerie Khoo is the founder of the Sydney Writers Centre. A writer and successful businesswoman, Valerie is a passionate enabler of other peoples dreams - a special and rare breed, in the world.

Bernadette Jiwa has the best website name ... "The Story of Telling."  Her words are a gold vein of truth.

It's inspiring and cool to see more women writing online down here in Australia. The birth of sites like The Hoopla, Women's Agenda, and Daily Life has really seen a boom in different and emerging voices being heard. Interesting and thought-provoking stories and information will always beat shameless link-baiting sensationalism. I hope.

I saved the best for last ..... Anna Spargo-Ryan either works really hard at appearing real and authentic, or she just is. I know she makes me feel ok about being me in all my me-ness, and I like that.

She whipped together Bide Magazine.

It's really, really bloody good. The first issue is out now and includes brilliant pieces from Kerri Sackville, Ben Pobjie,  Jo Thornley ... and a slew of other talented, creative individuals. I started reading it last night in bed, which meant I was *literally* biding my time.

"Bide is a magazine for people who are happiest when they are absorbed in the written word. it’s a quarterly publication full of things to read. it’s about society, culture, politics, business, food, travel, reading and remembering. people with something to say bleed all over the page, then you take Bide to your favourite chair or your bath or your bed or your train and gulp it down."

Who are your favourites?


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Spring Break!

I've had one of the hardest weeks in a while. You wouldn't know it from the photos.

We went to the beach and had fun. I watched Dave keeping watch.

I love him. Simple. He makes me lift my game. He's unshockable ... which is good, because so am I.

Went to mums house on Grand Final Day and helped her pack. Usually she has seventeen thousand magnets on her fridge ... she'd packed them all and left just one.

We laughed. It was a sad laugh, but it was still a laugh. Me and Leigh had a playful tussle over mums Lladro ... I clip-clopped the lady across the room on her horsie. And then watched mum pack her up tightly in bubble wrap and paper.

Mum has had the Lladro horse lady for over thirty years. She's come too far to let her go, now. So Lladro horse lady will move to mum's new place without Jim and life will continue. It's just the way it goes.

Later I got back to my guys and ate a whole tub of cream cheese for dessert. Like, a reward.

We came home yesterday. Can you believe Rocco's bedroom is exactly how he left it last week?

We're about to go in there together right now and clean it up. Like, a punishment.

I took this photo from the back deck yesterday, to acknowledge being home.

Thing is, I never feel "home." I wonder if anybody really does?

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