Ginge-o-graphic

I found this while trolling the internet this afternoon. I figured, as a proud ginger, I really had to share it. Also, it’s hilarious, and a little scary.

 

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Inspiring Change

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.

Inspiring Change img

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?

Cause for Country

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.

Aussie Helpers
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.  

Why Love is Like Riding a Bike

Today, I had planned to post something about Valentine’s Day. I decided on a poem, because I didn’t feel like writing much myself. I waded through a list of my favourite love poems, looking for one that really represented what romantic love feels like to me. I was really struggling. There are a lot of lovely words about romance, plenty describing personality traits or perhaps physical attributes of lovers, but none really seemed to say what I was looking for this post to say.

Then I remembered a poem by Henry Charles Beeching. It was not written about love at all, rather the thrill of racing downhill on a bikeFunnily enough, though, it describes love perfectly. That moment of peace that fills your mind when you realise this person could be more than just another acquaintance. The quickening of your heartbeat as things build, and then the rush of breathlessness that comes with a first kiss or first “I love you”. That feeling of being as light as air whenever they look at you, or talk to you, or you simply just think of them out of the blue. And then the crashing disappointment that comes when/if it all ends. The sudden fall from on high, back to miserable nothingness, before dusting yourself off and trudging back up the relationship hill to do it all over again.

V-Day 2014 image

Love is just like riding a bike really fast down a hill. It’s moment’s of unimaginable triumph and bliss. It’s that which we all chase constantly—that breathless delight, that all-consuming giddiness. That’s why we get back up, even after we stacked it at the bottom. Because we know—we remember—that it’s all worth it to find someone who makes us feel like we can do anything…even fly.

So to all you lover’s our there, Happy Valentine’s Day! And to all you who, like me, are still on the way up the hill, hang in there—it’ll totally be worth the walk.

 

Disclaimer: I don’t know how to ride a bike (yet), but I have been down a hill really fast on one, and it was a blast! Even the scratches from crashing half-way down were worth it.