Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We live outside the touch of time...

Last night I had one of those moments where you can just exhale. When all worry and stress eases for a bit and you can breathe and be yourself.

After getting home from work, glass of wine poured, I started on what will now be known as 'The Soup to End All Problems', a hearty mixture of vegetables, lentils and chicken. Then with a knock on the door my sister was here.

Due to us living in different cities, we only get to see each other about once every three months. Also, due to my terribly hopeless phone communication we don't get to talk as much as we should.  When we do it's usually the result of one of us having a neurotic breakdown about something or alternatively, the innocent, "So, I kind of need you to transfer me some money...?" conversation.

Despite Kathleen being three years older than me, we share the advice and leadership sibling role equally. Both of us are good at being there if the other one needs a sounding board or a truthful and harsh reality check.

However, the one thing we are superb at is falling into lengthy conversations about absolutely nothing. With each of us being the person who has seen and heard more about the others life than everyone else combined, the result is an honest, embarrassing and in depth voicing of concerns or thoughts that we would NEVER say to another person.

A sibling may be the keeper of one's identity, the only person with the keys to one's unfettered, more fundamental self.  

                                                                           ~Marian Sandmaier 

And so it was with ease last night that we fell into a comfortable, no holds barred discussion about family, work, love lives, study, mortifying moments, genetic traits and those funny little things you think but should usually stay in your head.

We sat on the couch scoffing down our wine and soup, bursting into hysterical laughter and every now and again putting on the, 'ok, I'm going to give you some real life advice right now' tone.

What a warm and fuzzy feeling.

This morning I realised how incredibly lucky it is that I have someone who has seen the worst of me, the best of me and everything in between. Lucky, that despite it is sometimes tough, this person loves me unconditionally, without judgement or expectation.

So, to my sister Kathleen who shares my crazy neurotic mindset, my inappropriate humour and my genetic disadvantages - I think you're absolutely hilarious, absolutely insane and absolutely have a knack for driving me to a point of exasperation, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Moments Not Milestones

Last week was my birthday.

Another year past, but it's still just the beginning. Sometimes it's hard to remember that and the pressure of time frames and schedules can be overwhelming. 

Like Christmas, like New Years, like all the milestones we place in our lives as gauges of how and where and why we are in certain situations, a birthday is up there with the mother of all milestones.

On a birthday we tend to lose sight of the big picture and it becomes all about us. We put a magnifying glass on our highs, lows and our 'did I actually fucking do that's'. This usually (with a few drinks involved) results in the conclusion that things just aren't going the way we had anticipated they would when we did this exact same exercise 12 months ago. It is because of this we can all relate to the lyrics "It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to..." sad, but as a witness to myself and friends, true.

This year was different though.

Sure I cried about things, sure I was completely inappropriately drunk on a Wednesday, sure I woke up with mild regret (may or may not have been to do with attempting the Dirty Dancing lift in a short dress in a small bar, ahem) but I also woke up happy... at 4pm the next day.

On my birthday I was surrounded by my friends, I spoke to everyone I truly loved and I was in a better place than I had anticipated I would be 12 months ago.

Each year we lay claim that this will be our best for any number of reasons. Everything will be just hunky dory and nothing will get in our way. The last year has shown me that downfalls, loss and troubles are all a part of the intricate web that's weaved in our life.. and here's the kicker, these shit things do somehow make things better in the long run... who woulda' thought?

I'm making no grand statements about this being the best year, the chips can fall where they may. They will regardless of what I declare. I'm realising that's how life has to be, how it should be.

So, I will see where the wind and the world take me this year, to ensure that life isn't a matter of milestones but moments instead. I'm done with the pressure of expectations, from others, but mostly from myself. So it's time to enjoy and do the little things that make me happy, if that means doing revealing dance lifts in a bar, so be it, I was beyond joy.

This week I took an afternoon to lay in the sun by the water in my favourite place I have ever been. I took pictures because I like taking pictures, I patted all the dogs that were running past because they were god damn cute and I chatted and laughed with the people who would walk to the end of the jetty to see if the girl laying motionless there was alive or not. The happiness was like nothing I had felt for a while.

Also two things happened today that just made me want to smile and squeeze people's faces with joy:

Firstly, I watched a scary looking biker pull up at a red light beside a car that had a little kid marveling at him in the back. He high fived the little boy, chatted to him about his matchbox car, passed him a finger skateboard out of his pocket and then roared off while the boy was in hysterical laughter. Sweet.

Secondly, there was a man of about 70 years completely in his own world as he danced by himself to the sound of the buskers in Pitt St Mall. He just kept going and was still there when I left.

Yep, despite the downs, I think there's hope for us all yet...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Procrastination - The Trap of Social Media

We've all been here.

It's 5pm the day before an essay/article/work report is due, with all the sincerity in the world you sit down at your computer ready to punch out a truly remarkable piece of work, one that Tolstoy would surely claim as his own.

Fast forward to three hours later...

You have managed to update your Twitter status seven times, do an in depth stalk of three old high school crushes, watch an episode of 30 rock, pin artsy pictures on Pinterest and update your profile on LinkedIn.

If you are a social media marketing manager, job well done.

If you are the rest of the world, chances are the work you have actually completed consists of a heading, a blank page and a blinking cursor anticipating something to be typed on a Word document.

I'm sure it took Tolstoy at least a few hours to come up with the title War and Peace, but if your headline consists of 'GOVT3236 - Analytical Essay' I don't think you can claim the time frame as deliberation on the English language.

It is times like this I manage to astound myself with the lengths I will go to NOT to do something. Usually this requires double the effort of the original task, but does my brain realise the absolute ridiculousness of the situation? Of course not, otherwise I would not be writing this blog post, (yes, I have an essay due tomorrow).

The most alarming of these moments was a week ago when I found myself in the unusual position of sitting in my completely spotless apartment, three loads of washing done, books rearranged, uni notes filed and despairingly, I was completely at a loss of distractions.

So what did I do? I Googled ways to not procrastinate. For two hours.

I had sunk to a new low and something needed to be done.

Luckily for me, I had searched ways to not procrastinate (great work, Sarah), so I had come across some cool applications that might would help me, now that I was to become an efficient and productive wiz-kid.

First thing was first, climbing out of the social media black hole just for a few hours. But how?

Anti-Social - is a downloadable productivity app which allows you to type in the domain names of sites that stop you from doing what you need to do. You simply type in the domains and then select the time frame you want to be blocked from them. If, in the event of a social media emergency, you need to gain access to these sites before time is up you can reboot your computer. You get five free trials of this and then if it works for you, download it for $15.

Freedom - is Anti-Social's little sister and goes one step further. Under the same premise of time frames it instead blocks you from accessing anything on the internet and is available for download for $10.

For those wanting both of these apps, you can bundle and buy the two for a reduced price of $20. The downside is that Anti-Social is not available on PC's, only Mac's. I guess this is because all the hip "I'm a converse wearing, satchel carrying, Mac" types are more addicted to social media than PC users, maybe...

If you are really in a time crunch the next application lays it on the line right from the get go.

Write or Die  - 'Putting the prod in productivity', because who doesn't like a bit of sadistic behaviour from a computer app? No one and that is what you'll get. The premise of this is that you have to keep typing or there will be consequences. Ranging from unpleasant sounds, to your work actually starting to delete itself, it's just best if you keep typing. You can download it from Itunes for $10.

I have yet employ these in my work because obviously I had to write this blog to help everyone out. I'm pretty selfless like that, it's nothing to do with me STILL avoiding work.

Anyway, time to get on with my version of War and Peace. If I copy and paste the essay question at the top of the page, that's at least four more lines... brilliant.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

People in Glass Houses

This year in my quest to do it all, I was on the hunt for volunteer or internship work at an NGO. Not only am I really quite obsessed with human rights and equality, but I also study International Relations and Social Policy, so this kind of work would certainly complement my studies.

In my search I came across a position to do communications on a locally run campaign by the international development organisation, Oxfam. The position was to work on 'Close the Gap', an initiative which aims to close the life expectancy gap, of almost 20 years, between Indigenous Australians and the wider community in one generation. It also aims to close the gap in mortality rates of Indigenous children under five years old, who die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies.

These are staggering figures when we consider that we live in a democratic, first world nation with health and welfare benefits. One would expect these figures in a developing country but in Australia... surely not?

I have always been a huge advocate of international aid and development and fully thrown my support behind refugee rights, women's empowerment and grassroots development of the earth's poorest nations. Admittedly, I never looked in my own backyard. If I had, I would have seen the violation of numerous human rights, from land ownership to health.

I had always naively assumed that in a country full of people so quick to judge and condemn other countries on questionable actions toward their citizens that we should be pretty free from human rights violations ourselves.

How wrong I had been.

I now look around the world at all the first world countries who pride themselves on having achieved a 'civilised' democratic state and see the ways in which they deny or ignore Articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Also on how they condemn other nations on the very rights they also violate. 

What is an example, you ask?

I will state the most hypocritical and most obvious due to the countries position in the international arena. In Article 3 of the Declaration it states "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person," I do believe this loosely translate as DON'T KILL PEOPLE! Now let's think who breaks this... oh yeah the United States. I should clarify here I'm talking about the death penalty still legal in many states, not the humanitarian/military intervention in the Middle East, although that arguably breaks a whole other set of international laws.

That is just one example, although there are hundreds, indeed reading through the first ten articles one can immediately jump to numerous examples of how many times the US has violated these rights since 9/11 in 2001 using 'freedom' as their motive.

 However, that is a whole other blog post.

So I did get the gig at Oxfam and have now been working on the campaign for a few weeks. In these few weeks I have really understood the power of beginning any kind of aid work in our own backyard. It provides context and nuance in understanding that people of any minority, in any country are quite possibly struggling an uphill battle of equal rights to basic living provisions.

It is important to recognise that because we believe ourselves to be in a better situation than many other nations around the world, this may not be the case for all of our citizens.

To find out more about Close the Gap click on the image link below -

Sign the pledge to show the Australian government that health equality still needs to be on the forefront of the national adgenda if we are to really call ourselves a civilised nation.

While you were sleeping...

I just saw this video and thought it was pretty spectacular.

Watch for the two books with black and white covers dancing together. It's the sweetest thing.

'The Joy of Books'

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kony2012: No Matter Which Side - We Can Agree On This

Since the Kony 2012 campaign last week the world has been in an uproar. Everyone has sat firmly on one of two sides; either promoting or condemning the video that was released and the charity behind it, 'Invisible Children'.

Quite literally hundreds of thousands of blog posts, news articles, radio and television shows, not to mention dinner conversations, have centred around Kony 2012, Uganda and the LRA. In multiple cases discussions were heated and intense. Innocent people unknowingly walked into a minefield by simply muttering the statement, "So what do you think about Kony2012?"

So here I will state the obvious - The campaign worked.

This campaign whether ill-informed, simplistic, or idealistic and with an apparently questionable fund dispersion system, reached tens of millions of people within days. Out of every campaign ever created this has without doubt been the most successful in the short term, particularly through the platform of social media.

Whether you agree or disagree on the issue at hand you cannot dispute the extreme reach of this remarkable social media marketing strategy. It will be interesting to see the effects this campaign has on marketing and social media campaigning from here on out.

So what's my opinion on Kony 2012? Well.... you walked right into that one didn't you!

While I do not necessarily condone the 'fundraising' aspect of the campaign as I don't much care for financial aid for military (especially of groups like the Ugandan Army who are constant violators of human rights) I do see a positive side to the campaign in its success of raising awareness.

I can see all of you nay-sayers raring up at that one with comments like "What, you mean people blindly following the new big fad?" and "They will forget about it in a week, how is that awareness!"

While I agree that both of these are valid arguments and have proven to be partly true over the last week, with people backtracking on opinions and already moving onto the next big thing, I still believe the awareness the campaign created will be beneficial.

In an online (of course) debate I had with a friend of mine, my reasoning for this was that for every 10 million people who blindly followed the campaign, there were perhaps 1000 who did further and extended research on Kony and the LRA. Maybe of these thousand, 100 people then researched the best method for getting involved in a grassroots movement to either minimise or prevent further events like this from happening. And maybe 20 of these people will continue in an effort to learn, raise awareness or help implement more appropriate prevention strategies in their lifetime.

As I write this there has been over 70 million hits on the video - if I work with my numbers above that is 140 people (I hope, I'm terrible at maths) who could possibly work towards beneficial solutions to prevent violations of human rights.

Isn't that an achievement? I think it is. It is also why I maintain my position that the Kony2012 campaign is a positive thing.

But here is the thing, don't just take my word for it. Be one of the 1000 who research further. Here are two great articles I have found, one from each side of the fence.

Some articles disagreeing with the campaign can be seen at:

'Unmuted - You Don't Have My Vote'

- 'Visible Children - We Got Trouble'

Some articles agreeing that the campaign has positives can be seen at:

-  'At Water's Edge - Can the United Nations Harness Kony2012's Energy?'

- 'Congo Siasa - From Campaigning to Action on Joseph Kony and the LRA'

Also to watch continued debates from both sides Al Jazeera has a spotlight on Kony - 'Al Jazeera - Spotlight: Kony'

I willingly admit that my opinion, is just that. This issue is vastly more complex than watching a 30 minute video. It would take years to understand, to any extent, the gravity of Uganda's political and  social history and why things are the way they are. Yet, as I referenced earlier, it could be a start for some people.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blogging on...

Due to the unprecedented amount of interest I am paying toward this semesters university readings, I have not had a chance to get my blog on. So today will be a short post, with a promise of more to come in the next few days.

To tide you over I've compiled a little list of some friends blogs which I love to read. All make me smile and I'm sure they will make you smile too.

  • Charlotte an expatriate from old Sydney town who now lives in Rotterdam, Netherlands writes 'I Like Lovely' a beautiful and whimsical page filled with inspired lists of lovely things, new found creations and pictures of her adventures. 

  • Caitlin tells the hilarious tales of the transition from uni student to real life, and the realisation that she may just be too cynical in 'Cynicism Exorcism'. I find myself snorting (yes, snorting) with laughter at every post as she mixes some still trademark cynicism with her observations of the past and present.

  • For all you foodies and fashion lovers, Hayat Ulku has started a new blog combining the best of both worlds. A fashion designer herself Hayat mixes her signature outfits (many pieces made by her) with the most delectably gorgeous shots of local Sydney eateries. Check out '', you'll be drooling in no time. 

  • If you thought I had forgotten the male bloggers, think again. In what I can only describe as the most rip roaring and anticipated read since Twilight, Andrew bell writes about his love and loss over the last two decades of his life. It documents his search for the "love of his life and the girl he is going to spend the rest of his life with" with all the gory details along the way. A great read, especially if you actually know the guy and can try and guess who he is talking about. Laugh and cry with him at '101 Broken Hearts'.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

What ever happened to that blog you wrote?

So after taking a not so brief hiatus to 'concentrate on my studies’ last semester (admittedly this mainly consisted of watching trashy tv shows), I am back in the blogosphere. Intent on making knowledgeable contributions to the World Wide Web, this will again become a regularly updated space, because let's face it; there aren’t enough cynical or insightful individuals hiding behind their laptop thinking they are witty, clever and just the right amount of artsy... Wait, what, that's what every blog is? Oh, well... here is one more. 

After taking stock and evaluating the experiences and changes that have helped shape who we are and what we know, it seems inevitable that we start the year with a (longggg) list of what we will do differently and hope to achieve by facing up to these realities.
The three things that greatly impacted my 2011:
1.     Started university
2.     Moved house- twice!
3.     Said goodbye as two of my best friends moved overseas

These three experiences were tumultuous and challenging (to say the least), but have provided me with an insight into who I am. Without realising, they have solidified by independent existence and I’m now living alone again, enjoying the controlled chaos within my own head.

In saying this, my reflections have also shone a light on one huge fact: The emotional rollercoaster that these aforementioned challenges provided me with saw me sink in to a big of a rut. I could stay in my pyjamas all day drinking tea, with the biggest motivation to go out being that ghastly moment when I realised I have no more milk or cigarettes.

I’m grateful for the enlightenment that the unavoidable truth has provided me with. I can blame everything on everybody else, but quite simply; things had to change- because I wanted them to.
First step: rediscovering my love of The Blog.

And so began my year of 2012 with grand aspirations and a chaotic schedule of 'things to do', which led me to a somewhat drunken conversation with a friend of mine and the statement, "You know, the more I do, the more I can do, and the less I do, the less I can do." The reply was along the lines of "What the fuck are you talking about?". While I repeated it several times in adamant confirmation and swilled some more whiskey and dry. I knew exactly what I was talking about.

To me the statement was as clear as vodka. The one thing my rut taught me is that allowing yourself to slip in to the habit of not doing enough and not staying busy, can be a downward spiral. This has been further evidenced by watching a drunk flatmate lay on the couch, day in and day out with his hands down his pants, viewing the premier league while the filth built up around him. The scary thing was that I wasn't that far from being him- minus the premier league. Obviously I would have been watching something intellectual, like The Housewives of Beverly Hills.

So this, the year of my "The more I do, the more I can do" is now in full force. A ridiculously full university timetable, work, friends, a new language, family, hopefully some internships and to add to that, this blog, let's hope my drunken self knows what the hell she's talking about.

And if you still have no idea what that statement means, then get me drunk and it will all become clear. Or I will just keep saying it until you stop questioning me. Got it, good.

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