Today, something lovely happened. I was wandering through a store with my mother, when we were asked by a fellow shopper what we thought of the black and white, fitted dress her mother had on. I was about to give the typical off-handed, “that looks great” reply I normally give, when I looked at the woman. She was slumped and uncomfortable, clearly distressed about being the centre of attention, and desperately trying to cover her hips and thighs. The dress didn’t look too bad, but it was a bit too young for her. What what was worse, is that it made her feel bad.
My sales assistant brain took over, and I quickly scanned the store for something that would work. I spotted a black, sequinned top and thrust it towards her daughter.
“That looks nice, but she needs a longer top to elongate her frame”, I said.
The sales staff suddenly realised what was happening, and came buzzing back over.
“Oh! That’s gorgeous! You look fantastic!”, she gushed, “I love the crispness of the white against your black hair.”
The mother winced. I smiled at her, and told her to throw the black top over the dress. Straight away things started to change. Her back was straighter, her hands weren’t constantly trying to cover her belly, and she wasn’t as tense.
I asked what the outfit was for, and it turned out is was for the daughter’s wedding. She’d bought a dress already, but it was ugly, frumpy, and certainly not Mother of the Bride material. She needed to feel fantastic, and I’d inadvertently set myself the task to make it happen.
Half an hour later we’d found her a skirt to match the sequinned top, a lovely coral jacket to giver her some colour, and some jewellery for a bit of extra bling. The mother was transformed—her back was straight, she was smiling, and she was even excitedly talking about what shoes she had that would match it. She looked gorgeous.
The sales assistants were even happy, they’d managed to get a sale that was all but gone, and all they had to do was stand there. And the daughter was relieved. Her mother looked modern and smart, and was comfortable. They asked for my number, and the mother gave me a big hug, promising me to send me a picture of the wedding. And her looking all glam, of course.
I wanted to share this story, not to big note myself, but to share a story about women. more importantly, what we as women need to do for each other.
Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. The theme for this year is “Inspiring Change”. We are called to push for equality, and be vigilant in demanding empowerment and positive change. But can we really call for equality and empowerment within a broader society, when we so often are the ones holding ourselves back?
So many of us spend our time envying, attacking, or deriding other women, when what we should be doing is supporting each other. We make snarky comments about what a random stranger is wearing, or attack physical traits rather than commenting on character. We call each other nasty names, and fight amongst each other about what constitutes a “real” woman. Or we simply ignore the needs of our fellow sisters, just to get ahead ourselves.
These are the things that need to change. We need to be inspired to support each other, and champion each other’s dreams. We need to compliment other women on their achievements, rather than begrudging them for what we didn’t achieve. We need to celebrate our individual looks—curvy, busty, sleek, and slim—and look past what we think the rest of the world expects. And we need to help each other when we’re struggling. Even if it’s just finding a way to feel beautiful, because that’s when we really shine.
Today I felt good, not because I did something for a stranger, but because that stranger was touched by what I did. I was able to make her feel beautiful, and the power that gave her shone on her face. If we can start with that—with the simple act of helping each other to feel beautiful, respected, worthy—than we can inspire change. And that change will be powerful enough to overthrow any inequality we face.
What are you doing to Inspire Change this International Women’s Day?
I originally found this artwork on Saatchi Online, but try wherever possible to trace art back to its most original source in the hopes my readers will find something they love, and invest some energy in supporting the artist.
I did this with the work above, “We Care”, by Lee Boyd, and discovered this piece was created as an auction piece for the NSPCC Changing Childhoods Appeal, Northern Ireland. The appeal—an online auction—is aimed at raising funds to help end child cruelty in Northern Ireland, as part of NSPCC’s goal to do the same throughout the whole of the UK.
I love this artwork by itself, but wanted to share with you the meaning behind it, and encourage you to check out the online auction. Maybe you’ll find something you love, and be able to add a lovely artwork to your house while supporting an incredibly worthy cause.
I was feeling mighty good tonight. I woke up early and ate my usual yummy poached eggs brekkie. I slaved over four job applications. I exercised, took a friend out for coffee, and made a delish veg dinner. Accomplishing multiple resolutions in one day had me on a high. Then I went on Facebook, and discovered I’d forgotten Shrove Tuesday—resolution fail! Bugger.
But! But, what if I was to have pancakes sometime early tomorrow? It’s still going to be Tuesday somewhere in the world until around lunchtime tomorrow here. So, technically, as long as I have pancakes sometime tomorrow morning, I’ve still remembered Shrove Tuesday. Right?
I’m going to pretend you all said yes, and move on to talking about March’s resolutions. I’ve only got ten left now, so from here on out there’s only two per month, and this month’s is particularly easy!
Remember Shrove Tuesday
When I was a kid my favourite part of Easter, even more than the copious amount of chocolate, was Shrove Tuesday. This magical day was the one day in the year when dinner was swapped in favour of a decidedly sweeter affair. For those not familiar with this Christian observation, Shrove Tuesday is the considered the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Traditionally, being that Lent is a time of giving up more worldly pleasures to look inwardly and repent for wrongs done, the Tuesday was a time of feasting, as a last opportunity to indulge and remove richer foods before the fasting began. As a kid though, it always just meant Pancakes for Dinner!
Pancakes! Almost everyone loves pancakes, right? As I’ve gotten older I’ve found I can take them or leave them for the most part. They can be too doughy, too heavy, or simply too sweet for me. Their French cousins, the crêpe, I find much more palatable. Thin and light, with just a touch of colour, the crêpe is my perfect version of the pancake.
I’d hoped to remember Shrove Tuesday this year, not just as a chance to indulge in a heavenly dessert, but as a start to Lent. While I don’t go to church regularly, and don’t pray as often as I should, I do consider myself a Christian, and try to act in a Christian manner in my daily life. For me, Lent has always been something that I try to abide, as it is a time to refocus not only my faith, but my beliefs and morals as a person. It is a time I can use to take stock of who I am becoming, and decide how I where I want to go in the future to improve myself.
As Lent starts tomorrow, I will be abstaining from midnight tonight for forty days. However, what I choose to give up isn’t edible, so I can still have my pancakes tomorrow, and still call it Shrove Tuesday if it’s in the morning. My mum will also be happy with this—as my love for pancakes has waned, hers as grown to rival even the most vehement pancake lover.
Take More Photos
I thought this would be hard for me. I’m one of those people who is really bad at remembering to take photos, even though I always have a camera on hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good photo, I just always seem to get lost in the moment.
Then this little guy came along:
And now I can’t stop Snapping, no matter how hard I try. HC isn’t even two weeks old, and I’ve already taken over one hundred pictures of him. Not all of them are good, but they’re all still saved in my computer and on my phone, ready to pull out and brag about at a moment’s notice.
I’m also going to try to take more photos of everything else in my life. My friends, family, Bonnie the dog. I’m sure there’ll be hipster food shots, and a few cooking snaps. This is going to be a year of happy snaps, arty stills, and precious moments, for sure.
Needless to say. I’ve got this month’s resolutions in the bag already.
Another month over already! This year is already going way too fast for me, especially when it comes to resolutions. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t done so well with February’s five, but I’m getting there, and really doing well on January’s five. Here’s this month’s recap.
GET THAT TATTOO
This one failed big time. Between spoiling my new baby nephew, and paying vet bills, cash was not something I had spare. Ergo, the tattoo has been put on hold. Perhaps I’ll make it a splurge item with my first paycheck when I finally land a job.
BE MORE AWARE
Hmm…this could be viewed as a failure as well, especially seeing as I was so unaware this month, that I manages to trip on my own pants and break my toe. Clearly not paying great attention. But I have been paying more attention to my local community, and the changes happening in it. As much as it pains me, I’ve taken to reading the (badly written) local paper of a morning, and paying attention to the (badly produced) local news. Unfortunately for my parents, this means the occasional expletive yelled at the television when they mispronounce names or the weather girl stares at the prompter the whole way through the weather report.
SEW, KNIT, CROCHET
So, I tried to do more sewing, I really did, but it’s really hard to sew with a broken toe. I tend to use my big toe to adjust the speed of the machine—something I only discovered when I lost control and went all speed demon on a hem I was attempting. I did crochet some, though! I’m working on a very bright, rainbow blankie for noone in particular. Pictures to come.
I’m proud to say I succeeded at this one! I think I skipped breakfast all of two days this month. The bonus of this is it also helped with getting healthier, because when I eat breakfast I don’t snack as much. Because I’ve taken to eating the same thing for breakfast pretty much every day (poached eggs on toast), I’m a veritable master at the perfect poached egg. An added bonus for me, and anyone else who just happens to be around for breakfast.
I think I did ok with this resolution. There have been days I have struggled with my temper, or just been too lazy to help when I could see it was needed, so there’s still improvement to be made. I have made a concerted effort to let go of things that would normally bother me, and am certainly getting better at not setting gigantic secret expectations for people, and then getting cranky when they don’t measure up.
I’m also being kinder to myself. Allowing myself slip-ups in my diet, not getting frustrated if I accidentally take a four hour nap instead of a twenty minute one, and accepting that some days my body just hurts. Definitely more work to be done, but I’m getting there.
As for January’s goals, I’m still working hard on them. I’m avoiding gluten pretty well, and don’t seem to struggle too much with avoiding sugar during the week. My Saturday Cheat Day seems to rollover into most of Sunday, but by Sunday night I’m usually behaving myself again. It’s been easy to be appreciative, with wonderful friends taking me out for a lavish surprise dinner, and a new nephew to enthral me. You know what, it’s also easier to let things go when you’ve got wonderful things to appreciate, because the little negatives seem so less important when you’re holding a sweet baby boy.
Still a lot to work on. More goals to get started on. Overall though, I’m feeling pretty good about these thirty accomplishments. As long as the year slows down a bit, I’m totally going to nail the list, maybe even with time to spare.
I spend a lot of time talking about me on here. That’s basically what a blog is about isn’t it? It’s pretty narcissistic really. Tonight, though, I don’t want to talk about myself. I want to talk about farmers.
See, even though I’m not from a farm directly, I’ve grown up around farming communities, with an understanding of how important farming is to Australia. What you learn as a kid growing up in the country is that everything is interconnected. For example, you plant seeds to grow wheat, which you might turn into hay to feed cows which you might milk to make cheese, which you might sell to get money, which you’ll probably use to buy more seeds to start everything over again. Simple, right?
But what happens if that cycle is broken? What happens if the wheat doesn’t grow, or there’s not enough food for the cattle? What happens if the cow’s milk turns sour, or you don’t get enough money for the cheese? What happens if it simply doesn’t rain, so you can’t sow the wheat or keep the cows watered?
Most of those are what-ifs. For farmers around Australia, though, the last one is a reality. You see, even though we had floods just a few years ago, much of Australia is in the throes of it’s worst drought in history. In fact, for the majority of my thirty years, our country has experienced some level of drought or another, which means, this drought is essentially just a continuation. For farmers, this means a continuation of intense hardship.
It’s impossible to explain in words the sheer extent of strength these farmers have, or the knock-on effect the drought has on their lives, and the lives of their families. Poverty, bankruptcy, lost legacy, suicide. This is what drought brings to farmers. This is what Australia is facing right now.
This story, by reporter and farmer’s son, Alex Cullen, made me cry (warning: some of the images may be distressing for animal-lovers):
(See Part Two here).
I’m one of the first to disregard prime-time current affairs programs. Usually the stories are over-dramatised, and full of exaggerated facts. This one is not. If anything, it isn’t dramatic enough. What hurts the most is that this coverage is some of the only mainstream media coverage on the topic. The media mentions the government assistance being offered (which is pittance), there is the occasional good-news story, and when it really rains the reporters are there, but that’s it.
Our farmers are hurting. Suicide rates are rising. Our country is dying. Yes, the government is offering support, but for many farmers it’s not enough for more than a few months. For others, it’s simply impossible to get, because of the requirements they need to meet to receive it. For so many more, it’s just far too late.
And what does this have to do with you? Well, if you’re not from Australia, probably not much, directly. If you are in Australia, though, think about this: the farmers grow your food, so the less they produce the less available. This makes prices rise. Lack of quantity also means a drop in quality, which means smaller, less pretty fruit and vegetables. If people are paying more for food, they tend to save money in other areas, like entertainment, eating out, and shopping. Farmers are also big spenders, but if they aren’t making money, they can’t afford to buy new things. This means, if you work in retail, food, or hospitality, things are going to get slower, so your boss might want to lay off staff. If you’re not in a service industry, you’ll be paying more for your food, but you’ll also probably be suffering with the knock-on effects, after all service industry businesses will have to cut back somewhere, they may choose to reconsider their advertising, legal advice, or accounting.
I know this might all seem a bit dramatic, but that’s because this situation is pretty real. This drought is deadly. For farms, for animals, and for the farmers. They need our support. So, from one narcissistic blogger, to all you other narcissists, bloggers, and other internet regulars, please donate to one of the charities below. Give a couple dollars back to the farmers who grow all the yummy fruit, meat, and grains you eat.
Working with the motto “Care, Share, Respect”, Aussie Helpers is providing support to drought-stricken farmers, by sharing donated items such as hay, dog food, fuel, and money, while maintaining the farmers’ dignity and providing opportunities for socialisation and friendship.
Buy a Bale
Buy a Bale was founded on the concept of donating the amount it costs for a bale of hay, allowing them to buy and distribute hay to farmers doing it tough. On top of donations for hay, it now offers opportunities to give of your time, fuel, or products to provide much needed relief to drought-stricken families. It also works alongside The Give Back Campaign, meaning you can support Buy a Bale simply by shopping at partnered stores.