Your wisdom.

May 5, 2012

I just came in from hanging out the washing – on this magnificent day in Sydney. Clouds are starting to come over now – but that sun is yummy, when it pokes through. It’s made a weekly chore a pleasure to do; in that peace and warmth.

The best part is – my children aren’t here.

This is hard for me to write admit because I’m going through a very challenging time with my girls – especially my youngest. She’s 5.

I need your advice.

I never thought motherhood was going to be such a tough gig. I know in my heart that I couldn’t imagine a life without my girls…although on days like today, I cherish not having them around – so I can reboot.

Sometimes I feel like a great mother and I think how lucky I am – and at others, more often than not, I feel a despair and think, “What am I doing?” I hear a lot of mothers really sound like they are having such a positive and wonderful experience with their kids, and I feel like a fraud. Sometimes.

Basically, our home is one of fighting. The majority of the time, it’s the girls with each other but it always trickles down to me. They fight about everything – about who hurt whom, who took what they were playing with, who’s not letting them have a turn – everything. Hubby and I rarely fight – and if we do, it’s not in front of them – so it’s just a battle with each other…and me.

I have alone time with both girls, for about 3 hrs every afternoon. Some of the time, it’s a battle-of-wills with my youngest – who always says, “No” or “Awww?” to just about every instruction or statement I make. Now, I’ve always had a short temper – but I truly believe that I have improved over the years (it takes longer for me to get worked up) because I want to have control over it and model it to the girls.

So, I’m making the best of efforts, to be a better role model – by expressing what I need to, without anger – and positively reward their good behaviour. I do that with a spontaneous show of affection (lots of kisses), tell them I love them, say a, “That’s the way!” when they do a good gesture toward each other…I even took them to see Mirror, Mirror last week, as a treat…

…but on some days, I just reach a stage where I lose my block. It’s always verbal (shouting); we don’t smack – but when I lose it like that, I think it’s just as bad as a smack – just as damaging. I sometimes feel like I have an out-of-body experience, watching my behaviour show my daughters how to deal with tough situations –  in 3D; with Dolby Surround Sound; on an IMAX screen!

On days like these – I feel like it’s all for nothing because of the GIANT leap backwards, we just took – thanks to me.

But it’s incessant – the asking, the asking again – even though the reason was calmly given with the answer, the whingeing – when they know it might not go their way, the debate – loathing sentences that start with, “But you said…”

Let me say, that they don’t get their way – especially if they engage. But that’s the biggest problem – I don’t let up and they don’t let up. Especially my youngest; when she latches on, she’s on tight for the ride…

Every. Time. About. Anything.

It’s exhausting.

I need enlightenment from my sisters – of any age.

Question #40: Are there any wise words to impart?

I saw the name of the image below, The Wisdom Path, and loved it.

…looks like a long trip, doesn’t it?

Deep Breath

x

Nature’s balance?

April 9, 2012

I hope everyone had a great Easter. My brood and I headed up to my parents’ place up at The Blue Mountains. I love going up there – I find it so peaceful and I always have a moment where I sit on the back steps, look up at the trees and ponder…

The trees I’m talking about, are predominantly very tall pine trees that are on the property behind my parents’ place. Unfortunately, those owners have been fighting for years to have the permission to cut down around 300 trees on their property to build townhouses. Yep townhouses. Anything to make a buck, right?

It’s so unjust on so many levels. Besides the horror, mess and noise that will come of cutting so many trees down – the whole reason we treasure places like this is because of the wonder that is nature – for balance and peace.

Aren’t they beautiful?

And these three photos were all from this last weekend. Unique, different stages – sunset, full-moon and a foggy early morning – like watching Uluru (so I’m told *wink*). But a camera doesn’t truly capture their magnificence – or how much I love them. *insert heart symbol*

The reason I brought up these trees, is because I often think a lot about life’s challenges and how nature works, when I’m looking at them. I did a lot of this on the weekend.

I’m not ‘religious’ – although what does that mean exactly? I was raised in a home with no religion, but had a lot of it through Primary and High School. I find, as I approach my 42nd birthday, that I pretty much believe a lot of the ‘lessons’ that religion teaches us – I just don’t attach a deity to it.

I just believe in nature and balance. I see an organic, electric force that sends waves of good times and challenges our way – and the way we handle these moments and times, determines our experience on this short time on Earth. When my eldest daughter once asked my mum something about heaven, my mum said to her, “This can be heaven. Now. If you want it to be.”

I loved that. Why can’t this life be heaven?

Well…it can’t be while everyone’s idea of heaven is having lots of money. And this idea – a very strong one now – is tipping nature (which includes us) out of balance.

As a high school teacher, I feel like I’m part of the ‘machine’ that continues to educate our future in the same archaic manner – teach students in the same way (and predominantly the same subjects) as the 50s – so that kids can get a job and buy a house etc. etc.

Girls are encouraged to ‘have it all’ – find a man, marry him, have a successful career, have kids, run a household and start the whole process again with their daughters. Boys – well, they’re encouraged to be men – be powerful (in all areas of his life – which includes power over women, a lot of the time), and earn enough money for said house etc. and they also start the whole process again, with their sons.

OK, so it’s always been that way, to a certain extent. I agree. But if we take a step back, whoever we are and whatever our financial status is, and really look at what we’re being told and sold:

Question #29: Aren’t we creating a society (our children) obsessed with money?

Aren’t we now crossing boundaries to make it and teaching our children how to follow in our footsteps?

The reason I ask, is because this is the point I think that ‘heaven’ can’t be found in this developed world of ours. How can our kids find true balance in their lives when all that matters is money? Everything is buy, buy, buy! What’s worse, though, is that this way of life is moulding our society’s values and beliefs by telling us all what to buy, how to look and what life to aim for.

That last part is the scariest. It looks like everyone is a clone – including myself (big revelation there) – living the life we’ve all been told to aim for. I finished high school, went to uni, got a career as a teacher, travelled, married, had 2 daughters and bought a house….which we’ll be paying off for the rest of our lives. When I look around at my girlfriends from school, the only real difference between us, is our income – because the core of what we ‘have’ is the same. It’s the message that was sold told to us as teens in the 80s and it’s the same as what’s being told to the teens and children of today.

Is this what we want for our future? The same formula – over and over again?

Because it feels like the only lesson that’s being taught, is not in our schools, it’s in our world of consumption and all we are really aiming for is bigger and better than everyone around us.

School, is just a means to an end. School like the 50s (parental concerns of the time, included).

I wonder how I’m going to do it – raise two girls to be strong and unique, whilst navigating through the sludge of how women are represented. How do I teach them to stick to their individuality, when everyone around them is a walking commercial – owning all the ‘latest’ toys and gadgets or wearing the same types of clothes?

So, whenever I can, I look up at the trees – trees that will be cut down, to make way for making money – and wonder if there’s any hope of things truly turning around. Haven’t these issues been brought up a million times before over the decades?

The irony about these trees, is that the original owner of that massive lot – a loong time ago – didn’t sell off pieces of it, to be able to maintain its natural state and beauty, and left clear instructions that it was to be kept that way…but that was only maintained whilst it stayed in the family.

If you get a chance, listen to the wind go through pine leaves – it actually makes that eerie sound you hear in movies…I guess the current owners can’t really hear it over the sound of, ‘Cha-Ching!’

x

PS Tomorrow’s 3 months since the blog was born! Very exciting *HUGE smile*

I need to start this post by saying that I’m SO embarrassed. When I checked the number of hits I’d had on Friday night, I failed to realise that it was a few minutes past midnight…hence why there weren’t any hits. FAIL. I must admit, though, that my brain was in the mushy stage by then, especially after the previous 24 hours. So all is good. *smile*

I also want to give an honourable mention to my BFF (who I met 35 years ago and has been a constant in my life ever since), for joining me on my mini-break. It was  just the ticket. In just over a day together, we talked, did some shopping in the quaint, antiquey, Blue Mountains shops, saw The Three Sisters, drank, ate, laughed…and talked. We discussed our kids, our strength as mothers – our flaws – and gave each other support. I came away feeling peaceful and blessed. Thank you, Katy.

Now…

Sex.

As I usually do in discussions like this, I’m going to go ‘back in the day’, as it’s the only benchmark I have.

I remember in the 90’s, when I was in my 20’s, I used to buy Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines pretty regularly – it seemed to have everything a young and vibrant girl like me needed to know! *insert ‘wow’ face*

It was also designed to confuse the hell out of us, but hey….what’s new. We went from ads with skinny and gorgeous women modelling clothes, makeup and jewellery – to the harrowing story of the girl with anorexia – to “How to lose your tummy in 10 days!” exercise regime – to some story about loving a star’s new curves. Yep. Mixed message central.

And this was the era of no photoshopping! I know – hard to believe or imagine nowadays. If anything, at least they were selling us real women – unlike today where the women are practically digital.

So, yes, the core of what we’ve been ‘sold’ over the decades, hasn’t changed. What has changed, however, is the saturation of the current ‘look’ and the worst part is that our young girls are LAPPING it up.

What does this have to have sex? I hear you ask….

Well, in the same way that us girls have always been sold an image to conform to, now it’s being used to sell a ‘common’ sexual image – for men.

Back to Cleo and Cosmo for a moment. Along with all the above-mentioned features, there was always a section devoted to how to ‘catch a guy’ or ‘please your man’ – generally with ’10 ways’ to do it. Funny – I’m not sure what magazine is out there for the guys, with tips on how to please their woman…

…oh, that’s right, there isn’t.

Question #26: Why are women perpetuating the sexual image, that’s a male fantasy?

With the introduction of the internet, it seems that (again) there is one predominant image being splashed about in everything we see; young girls and women, dressing like they’re ready to go – and a lot of them are. A friend recently said to me that a young, male relative of hers told her how easy it is for a guy to end up with a girl, “without having to do anything.”

But the word that keeps rearing its head, is young.

You have ads, like the following, where child star Dakota Fanning, is looking a little more grown up, a little less innocent – and giving up her ‘flower’ to sell perfume…that’s sitting in her crotch.

This ad was banned in the UK.

Or there’s this 10-year-old in French Vogue…

It’s obviously not enough to target young women in their 20’s, through to teenagers, to make a buck – now, to feed the insatiable lust for making money, we need to start training our girls in Primary School. What leaves me dumbfounded, however, is that there seem to be A LOT of mothers behind the new trainees.

Please watch the following clip. It features Melinda Tankard Reist, the warrior fighting the sexual exploitation of our young girls. This link contains images of a dance show in America called, “Dancing Moms” and how girls as young as eight are doing a burlesque dance – with the ‘appearance’ of being topless.

Besides the disturbing fact that pedophiles just won – AGAIN – these girls are being trained to express themselves in a sexual manner – aged 8 – for ratings. There is nowhere else for these girls to turn, because as they start to grow and watch music videos and movies, there’s just more of the same:

  • Girls looking and acting like they’re naughty girls – because that’s what men like,
  • Girls who are willing to give sexual favours AND be good at it – because that’s what men like,
  • Girls who ‘don’t want a relationship’, just sex – because that’s what men like.

Ever noticed that if there’s a soundtrack to represent sex – it’s just a female voice you hear moaning and panting? Never a man’s – because men don’t like that.

Deep down, girls don’t know how else to behave because they’ve been fed the same story from the start – your validation comes from your looks.

Girls can’t really get validation from their friends because girls/women secretly (deep down) compete with each other. So they turn to the men and in this competitive market, how else are girls/young women going to catch that boy’s eye, if it’s by not by giving him what he wants?

We’ve always been a confused bunch – navigating our way through everything that was thrust in our face – but now it’s a whole new ball game and it’s up to us, ladies, to start turning things around through education and protest.

x

This journey – writing the blog – has made me come to realise many things about how society, and in-turn my family, has raised and shaped me. I’ve reached moments where decisions I want to make for myself, are not as easy to make as I originally thought or simply can’t be made at all because – that’s the way it is.

It’s at these moments that I feel the most ineffectual and helpless – because ‘that’s the way it is’ means it cannot be changed.

Or can it?

This post is just looking at the simple issue of – what’s in a woman’s surname?

Main problem: As I mentioned in my previous post I was Suzie Home Maker, so when I got married I started the usual ‘procedure’ of changing my surname to my husband’s. Now, my parents had two daughters (yes, only token males to create more females in my family *wink*) so our maiden name ‘dies’ with my sister and me; and although she kept our maiden name when she got married – I knew the buck stopped with us.

Before children were even a thought, I kind of broached the subject with Hubby about our kids having my surname. His brother already has two sons that will keep their surname going – so I thought I’d give it a shot. No can do – because that’s the way it is and that was OK.

I remember that when I first signed my ‘new’ name, my sister saw me write it and said, “You’re not changing your name, are you?” and I replied that I didn’t want my (future) children to have a different surname than me.

Well, I don’t know now.

Two years ago, I had to officially change my surname to be able to get a new passport. When I finally got the certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages with my husband’s surname as my own – I felt a tiny pang of ‘identity loss’ – even though it had been a LONG time since I had been using Hubby’s surname. Silly, I know – I guess it bothered me because it was so official.

It was then that I questioned the future for my daughters (well, all children really). If women are the ones who go through a pregnancy, give birth and are the primary carer for our babes in the early stages – if not until they leave home *wink* – then:

Question #25: Why don’t children carry their mothers’ surname?

1. There’s never a doubt about who the mother is – 2. She is the one who (generally) cares for the child, should the partnership dissolve – 3. Dad could take off – it doesn’t matter, that child will officially carry the father’s surname (unless changed, of course).

I know, I know – What can you do? Right? But it sits wrongly with me.

The reason this post has come up is because I decided I’m writing this blog under my maiden name. Although Hubby understands my reasoning behind it, his initial reaction seemed tinged with offence. I found that so interesting. None of us really seem to give much of a thought to our tradition of someone dropping the surname they’ve had their whole life for another – yet not using his surname on my blog seemed to hurt Hubby a little. But, like I said, he understands why I’m doing it and he never asked me to change my name when we got married – because I just went ahead and did it. Stuck to the tradition.

Funnily enough in my country of birth, Uruguay, (I was 3 months old when I came to Oz), your name stays the same regardless of marriage. You have two surnames – the first being your father’s and the second being your mother’s. That’s pretty cool – you have the same name your whole life. But the country that goes one step further is Spain – it’s like Uruguay, except you can reverse the order of the surnames to mother first and father second, under gender equity law.

We need us some gender equity law happening here! *smile*

Minor issue: Women shouldn’t have to announce whether they’re married or not – Ms should = woman, just as Mr = man.

Sounds fair, right?

But only we can make the minor changes – easily – before they can lead to bigger and better things.

I wonder if it’s a change that married women want…

x

A week or so ago, on the show The Project, they were discussing Pink Ghettos – places in the workforce where there are predominantly women (like Public Relations).

Firstly it addressed how it’s not good to have either sex feature predominantly in the workforce and secondly, it was looking at how it’s necessary for women to have good Maternity Leave – as it can mean the death of their careers, having to leave their job to care for the children. The irony was that the discussion was between a Joe Hockey (male politician) and Natasha Stott Despoja (former leader of the Democrats; and an awesome woman) – where HE was actually arguing that he knew what women wanted, more than the female, former leader of a party, with children sitting before him. I thought that was incredibly patronising. However, it generally seems that way; hardly the bat of an eyelid at the fact that a man is making the calls on what’s good for women.

The part that really had me gobsmacked, was that when Natasha was asked whether she had ever heard of Pink Ghettos, she said, “No, but Canberra is a pretty much a Blue Ghetto, with the amount of men that are there,” to which Joe Hockey replied, “I wish it were all blue.”

Yep. I bet you do, Joe.

Around the world, the average of women in parliament in 2007 was 18.3%* (couldn’t find anything more current – would love to know the figures today) and although the stats were a little better in Australia, it got me wondering WHY women are simply not up there at the top; in equal numbers to men – after all there’s a teeny bit more women than men worldwide.

Could it be that our girls have few aspirations to go for leadership roles (in many different areas) because it’s simply not modelled for them?

So, I thought I’d ask girls at my school, of different ages, who they look up to; who is an inspirational role model in their lives.

The first reaction was always the same – a long silence, looking up; trying to conjure up the faces of all the women out there who have impacted their lives.

One of the questions I was asked was, “Does it have to be a woman?” I gave her a cheeky ‘did-you-just-ask-me-that?’ look, as I didn’t know whether she was pulling my leg. She wasn’t. At the same time, what a telling question it was.

Even after I nudged them along with possibilities like singers, writers or personalities on TV…. a big portion of them said their mothers.

How wonderful. Or is it?
Hear me out.

I am a mother. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mum, since I can remember. I was quite young when I kept asking my mum questions about marriage and whether she minded if I got married a little bit earlier than she did. She was 24. I was Suzie Home Maker. My best friend and I used to actually talk about the days where we’d be in our own home, married and ironing our husband’s shirts. PALEEASE!

Now, although I went to uni and ticked all the boxes – my ultimate goal was to get married and have kids. And I did.

I was blessed with two, very strong, daughters who drive me insane – you know what I mean – but whom I believe I was destined to have.
As much as I know they will ultimately respect me as a mother – is it all I want for them?

Question #24: Is motherhood the only way we can model strong women?

I asked the students if they felt there were any unfair things their mothers might go through, because they’re women and there was a strong chorus of, “YEAH!”

Through our following discussion, it seemed clear that, besides their mothers, there really wasn’t much out there to inspire girls – and if there are great women out there (which of course there are) – why aren’t we seeing them as much as the plastic, doll-like versions of our sex?

Why is there such a dim spotlight being shone on intelligent and inspirational women?

All is not lost, though. One of my older students said Gail Simone was an inspiration to her. I don’t know about you, but I said, “Who?” When I looked her up, I saw that she is great – a graphic novel writer. Amongst other suggestions, a popular choice was the singer Adele. When I asked how Adele inspired them, they just LOVED that she truly is all about the music – not about making a caricature of herself.

A gorgeous, gifted woman – what. a. voice!

We HAVE to get more of a spectrum of strong, intelligent women to be visible.

 

*http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au/www/nhrcc/submissions.nsf/list/2AD5C6EC448A8B84CA25761500232FA5/$file/Stevie%20Martin_AGWW-7SHV8P.pdf

I found this a hard post to articulate… hence the gap since the last one.

When I first began this blog journey, I was SO nervous about this new world I’d entered and was questioning its dynamic at every turn – How many times a week should I be doing this? Will people drop off if I do less than two or three times a week? Are my stats good? Is anyone commenting? (finding it curious that the spam messages are about to overtake the number of messages sent to me!). All in all, a tad nervous.

I’m a full-time high school teacher – holding down four specific roles within the school – and a mother of two young girls. On a ‘normal’ week night, whether I cook or not, the ‘Me Time’ part of the evening doesn’t start until the chores – such as, cleaning up after dinner, getting everyone sorted for the next day (lunches for all, uniform, notes, sports clothes etc) and the never ending, girls’ bedtime routine, concludes – this is normally around 9pm. On some evenings, I would hop on the computer and start writing – shamefully admitting that I was more preoccupied with the blog than hanging with the Hubby. I then (always) get to bed late – around midnight (whether I write or not, for some reason, regardless of good intentions, I get to bed that late) – just to start over again at 6.30am. I find myself always telling my daughters how tired I am.

As I’m looking at my inability to ‘fit it all in’, I hear a few sobering stories from numerous girlfriends of mine and learn of their situations. All in the one week. It made me take a deep breath and conclude that we needed to strike a balance towards all this – and life in general.

BALANCE. It’s the key to everything.

Which brings me to the reason for writing this post. I hope that it gives justice to the women I want to write about……

Part two – Our Lot

Friend #1: I have a very close friend who confided in me – telling me how the pressures of her life are deeply affecting her. As she’s talking to me, I can see that, due to her wonderful sense of duty towards her family, she finds herself doing everything in her power to not let their problems affect her children (most importantly) and husband. Even as she’s talking to me, I can see how she doesn’t want me to worry either, as she speaks in an accepting, almost matter-of-factly manner, about her situation – even though it’s a gloomy one. I simply don’t know how she does it, holding her husband and three young children together.

But she does – and her family are so incredibly blessed to have such an inspirational and strong mother – however, it is affecting one person – her. She’s stretched to the limit.

Friend #2: In the same week, I spoke to another friend, who wakes up in tears every morning, due to a legal issue involving her husband. They’re a lovely family who stumbled onto some bad luck, and now find themselves facing a possible outcome, unimaginable a while ago, that would impact their family deeply, if it were to occur. This has been going on since last year and she – also – found herself holding it all together for everyone, especially her husband – but is now finding that she needs support too – she’s fraying at the seams.

Although these may seem, to some of you, as extreme stories, I know of SO many women – actual friends, not “I heard about this person, who’s a friend of a friend” – who are in a daily struggle to not only find balance for their families, but balance for themselves. It seems, however, that the pressure of finding that balance for the ones they love, means that many women are short changing theirs.

In this new, modern age of marriage and motherhood, women – AGAIN – seem to be taking the bigger piece of the responsibilities. If one is lucky enough to have a supportive partner in crime, one is also (hopefully) going to have a partner who shares the ‘chore’ load. Most times, however, even when the mother works full-time, the chores are still heavier on the female side. BUT let’s say, there’s equality on that front – it still appears the partner falls way short of equally sharing all the ‘worry’ that comes with their life.

As I mentioned earlier, my mind never seems to stop ticking with the million things that are bouncing around…well, there’s nowhere to bounce, actually – it’s all tightly crammed in there and ‘lo and behold!’, some things get forgotten. And don’t we feel a little guilt when we do? The pressure women find themselves under in retaining EVERYTHING that has to do with family and work can be suffocating at times because it’s unbalanced.

Question #22: Are women capable of finding balance in their lives?

Up until recently, I did both the washing for the family and the weekly shopping. As a full-time worker, the only time I could do it, was the weekend. As you can imagine, I started to become a little resentful at the fact that I wasn’t getting any break from work – whether it be a school or at home – because these two chores HAD to be done every weekend. I also didn’t want to ‘ask’ Hubby for help, at the risk of sounding like a nag – but if you don’t ask, how do you get the help?

This is why (I think) we are, where we are. Our lot.

But a few months ago I walked up to my husband and said, “Shopping or washing?”  He chose shopping – again. See, we tried it a few years ago, but it still felt like I was in charge of it all, just not actually going to the shop, so we quickly reverted back to the old ‘system’. So I said, “But this time you’re the boss of it” and he accepted.

I tell you, it’s been great. It’s incredible how difficult it was at the start, to ‘let go’ (when you’ve always been in control…) – but relinquishing that big chore was just the ticket. I got a bit of the weekend back – a bit more balance to it all. *worth it*

Baby steps, right? Then BIG ONES!

PS Due to this reflection, I’ve decided to simply post once a week. Just the ticket *big smile*

Some funny self reflection…

February 17, 2012

I want you to come on a small journey and see some of the ‘demons’ I face with my appearance – being a woman.

Sometimes when I’m on the phone, I have to escape the kids and hide away in my bedroom – to be able to have a conversation in peace –“Muuuuumm”. Many times, I catch sight of myself in my bedroom mirror, and when the lighting is juuust right…I see a crone.  Yep, a crone. *recoil and scrunch up face – stop it, that’s more lines!*

When did I get so old? Let’s see what other things I see…

Now, I have good legs – but what’s that droopy sort of skin above each knee that seems to want to start heading south all of a sudden? Is there any such thing as a knee lift? *smirk* I would never get one – but was actually wondering…

I’ve had humans exit my body – as most women I know have – and we all have to carry around that lovely added extra around the stomach. Like growing said human and have it come out, wasn’t ‘reward’ enough! And who can forget that charming phrase “muffin top”, that seemed to be a regular word tossed around at Mothers’ Group. Are guys refered to as having muffin tops?

Nine months to put on, nine months to take off, ladies!” Jeez, the pressure! I always felt a secret resentment of any article that pointed out how quickly a star took off the baby weight, 10 minutes after giving birth, stating the marvels of breast feeding. What-EVA! She who has a personal trainer and chef at their disposal. My first baby sucked my milk like a crazy person and it actually made me eat MORE, than when I was actually pregnant…couldn’t help it…my body thought I was still eating for two. I felt jipped.

There’s the little flap of skin that’s appeared under my chin. Has anyone else got that? How quickly is that one going to progress? I don’t want to look like turkey anytime soon, thank you very much…and yet – there it is.

Boobs. What can I say. I remember watching the series, ‘Mad About You’ (loved that show) and there was this great sequence of scenes, when the lead character, Jamie, was in labour. All the women in her life were sitting in her hospital room with her, as her husband wasn’t there yet. They were giving out advice when the issue of breasts came up. Her mother said to her, “You’ll be fuller breasted, dear.” She nods. Her sister-in-law then states factually, “Yes, but eventually they look like a couple of empty gym socks.” Hahaha! Classic. Well, I won’t say mine are a couple of empty gym socks just yet, but they do like to look at my feet more often – when ‘unassisted’. *wink*

Finally, my hair. I’ve had long hair my whole adult life, but an accident at the hairdressers saw that change a few months ago. I went in for a trim with a few long layers. What actually happened was my hair ended up being hacked with a plethora of instruments, including a razor, and ended up looking like Carol Brady with a mullet. So bad. The only solution was to cut off the mullet – and ended up with short hair. I don’t mind it BUT I didn’t want to look like a woman who had made that, “Oh, I’m over forty now, so I better cut a mummy haircut”, decision. Plus it looks the same every day. I miss my ponytail. But then, everyone has long hair. Do I grow it?

So here’s my comparison with guys – I’m pretty sure they don’t agonise over their appearance as much as we do, because we love them anyway. They can put on weight, lose their hair, get very wrinkley – it’s the common image in the media – men can look however they like and will always be accepted.

And our guys love us too, when we start to get out of shape and grow older – don’t they? I guess that on the whole they do, BUT I know of a few stories within my circle of friends where the male partner has left, for a younger woman. If I know a few – surely you know a few. Therefore, is it more common than we think? Can we say the same of women who leave their men for younger versions? Probably not. I think that, even though I can look good for my age – a younger guy would see the middle-aged oldie I really am.

Hey, that’s OK – I don’t need that validation from younger men – as I’m sure you don’t either (only women in the public eye seem to be butchering themselves to look ‘younger’) – but what is it with us?

Question #16: Why are women SO obsessed with looking younger? Can’t we just reward each other for looking the best we can for our age?

Beautiful new icon

February 12, 2012

Hey gorgeous girls *grinning*

I have a new image for this blog, that I think reflects how I see it all:

It’s mother-earthy; it’s peaceful; it’s all women and it’s simply beautiful. It’s called ‘Hope II’ and the artist is Gustav Klimt.

I recently got a notebook, where I now jot down any ideas and observations I have for this blog. I bought it in a quirky shop in Katoomba, The Blue Mountains.

The cover is a Klimt painting – the image is of two faces – a mother holding her nestling child; both breathing each other in.

I was drawn to it because, not only is it stunning, the child looks like my eldest girl when she was a baby (lots of dark hair when she was born) AND my youngest, because she’s fair and looks like the cover babe when she sleeps.

I love it.

I first learned about Klimt (and his gold paint) through my sister, an amazing artist herself, because one of her favourite paintings was always, ‘The Kiss’.

I was busting to know the name of the painting on my beautiful notebook…and there I made a very poignant discovery. The image of my slumbering mother and babe were only part of a bigger picture – a painting called, ‘The Three Stages of Woman’.

How poignant indeed.

Look at the image of the third stage? Next to the vibrance of the first two stages, what a depressing and bleak view of the old woman – something that appears sadly inevitable and unavoidable – and also encapsulates what we women seem to feel about getting older.

Klimt captured this perception in 1905 – what was he seeing? Better question is:

Question #13: Is this painting a representation of how men see us when we’re old or is it how we see ourselves?

1905.

Where does it begin?

In my Year 7 class yesterday, we were discussing the different ways in which we communicate. In relation to their writing, I was explaining that if their brain gets used to typing ur instead of your, they’ll occasionally slip and write it the wrong way when they’re at school. A female student explained that when you’re chatting you need to do it quickly so that the other person doesn’t think you’ve left the conversation. At this point, a boy in the class calls out, “Or maybe they just think you’re fat.”

I was momentarily speechless (and for those who know me, that’s an uncommon occurrence).

There were a few things that didn’t sit right with me. The obvious one was that he managed to slip that irrelevant comment in, without thought for the girl he was talking to, but the most surprising part was that nobody in the class flinched or seemed to be overly concerned.

How did our kids become so desensitised at such a young age?

I made it very clear to this boy and the rest of the class, that that sort of comment is completely unacceptable.

So, how early are girls being initiated into the world classroom, where the lesson taught is, “Your worth is in your looks”?

I know that this is not the experience of every girl – but there’s a TV show (of course) that they can watch, where the subliminal messaging begins.

Three words: Toddlers. And. Tiaras.

The fact that the word ‘Toddler’ is in the title, just disturbs my core.

Now, I have only ever seen part of an episode, which I used for one of my Drama classes, and all I have to say is,

I – don’t – get – it.

Granted, I don’t know how it all works – for example, does every girl get a trophy? (there seem to be a lot). If that’s the case, then that would make it a pointless competition
….and there it is – the word COMPETITION.

Looks are fleeting. One day one may be deemed beautiful, the next one is not.
Then what?

What does a little 5 yr old feel when she’s told she’s not the prettiest?
Enter her again? And again?

What lesson is she gaining? That people will only truly love her when she’s dressed up and spray tanned to within an inch of her life? Dancing provocatively to adults?

I don’t get it.

Isn’t this a win for paedophiles? Seriously, they can access images like the following off Google. Why are parents (especially mothers) encouraging and exposing their babies in this way?

 

This most famous toddler star (who I saw doing pelvic thrusts on Sunrise when she was in Australia) is also being Photoshopped. Photoshopped! I found some other images of different girls, where the eyes have been made MUCH bigger, and together with the airbrushed skin, it made them look weird.
Why does the image on the left (below) need to be Photoshopped in the first place?

I have so many questions because there is no logic to this madness. I can’t even fathom the damage this would do to a person of ANY age – being told in a beauty pageant that they’re not beautiful – let alone with these young developing minds.

FUNNY PART
Let’s watch some satire.

The following link is very funny.
It’s Tom Hanks giving a satirical look at the ridiculousness of all this.

Now that you’ve had a laugh – riddle me this:

Question #12: What do mothers hope their daughters gain, from being subjected to this kind of ‘competition’?

The following article appeared in the paper yesterday – a perfect follow-on to my last post.

It hits the nail on the head.

How have we allowed the music industry to portray women in such a soulless demeaning way?

OK. Do you agree?

I’m going to go down Nostalgia Avenue again – Sorry, I can’t help it…

Music and I have always had a close love affair. My earliest memories were of my best friend, Katy, and I preparing endless dance routines in her living room. It had a perfectly placed mirror to be able to watch the ‘magic’ unfold – our best work being a fabulously choreographed number to ‘Copacobana!’
Our dance moves were heavily steeped in 70s disco influences…and we looked fantastic! This music love affair continued with the birth of the walkman – a device I HAD to have. Music everywhere I went? How wonderful! In Year 11, I worked in a chicken shop (called ‘The Game Cock’….I kid you not), to pay for said walkman. My Duran Duran cassettes certainly got a work out…

At this time, music videos really took off. Of course there were music videos before, but they started to take on a new life – it wasn’t just an artist standing in front of a microphone and singing; stories started to be told through the videos.

I LOVED it. There was nothing like watching Countdown on a Sunday night (the cause for GREAT conversation on the bus the next day) or Sounds on a Saturday morning. I remember the pure excitement of waiting for the premier showing of a video….it was simply awesome….*sigh*

Now, I don’t think I sound the same as parents of the day, shielding their burning eyes from the thrusting pelvis of a certain Elvis Presley – I actually love some dance music, House in particular – really love them. I do, however, feel that things have definitely gone down a dark road for women in music videos. The worst part is that many women artists are perpetuating this image.

Pussycat Dolls – enough said. I always felt that they sent out very confusing messages to women – not needing a man being the main message in one song, to tormenting a boy whose girlfriend is not “hot” like her (or a “freak” like her), to practically begging a man to “loosen up her buttons”. But one thing always stayed the same – their videos were like soft porn.

On a different branch, one of the things I feel most disappointed with, is the fact that female artists that made it BIG being ‘wholesome’ and gained a very large, young fan base, all turned to soft porn to sell more albums. The unfortunate part, is that as they were watching the older market of consumers they could ensnare to buy their music (with means that had nothing to do with music), they turned their backs on the young ones, who continued to watch…and learn.

The first words of Christina Aguilera’s song ‘Dirty’ are of a man saying, “Dirty, Filthy, Nasty.” There’s that word again – dirty.

The accompanying video was just what they guys wanted to see – Christina in a dark and dingy boxing ring being cheered on by beefy men, as she danced as though she were in a strip show…I don’t really think it was for us. This was at a time when all of this was starting to warm up.

Here’s a shot of her from around the same time.

Of course there was also Britney – she who performed a lap dance every night of her last world tour, to a male audience member (amongst other things):

Both these women have sons. They will ALWAYS be able to access images of their mothers in this way….forever. It’s such a shame that the allure of more money took precedence over anything else. I wonder if they regret it, now that they’re mothers.

So, there are still music videos on a Saturday morning – but my daughters can’t watch them. Which is a real BUMMER. I want my girls and their future ‘Katy’ dancing to great songs in the living room.

I would love to think that there is a way to make a change with this.

Question #11: How is change possible, when women are helping perpetuate the soft porn image in their videos?